From a broadcast perspective, the $800 million stock-swap deal gives Clear Channel control of most of upstate New York's ABC affiliates, including WIXT (Channel 9) in Syracuse, WOKR (Channel 13) in Rochester, WIVT (Channel 34) in Binghamton, WUTR (Channel 20) in Utica and WWTI (Channel 50) in Watertown. Clear Channel also gets two NBC affiliates, WETM (Channel 18) in Elmira and WBGH-CA (Channel 20) in Binghamton. Clear Channel already owned Fox affiliate WXXA (Channel 23) in Albany (as well as cable-only "UPN 4").
The move creates massive radio-TV combinations in several markets. In Rochester, WOKR becomes a sister station to Clear Channel's 2 AM/5 FM group (including WHAM and WVOR). In Syracuse, WIXT joins Clear Channel's 2 AM/5 FM group that includes WSYR, WHEN, WYYY and WBBS. In Utica, WUTR will join a 4 AM/5 FM cluster - assuming the WIXT/WUTR overlap can be maintained under cross-ownership and duopoly rules. (And indeed, there's word that Clear Channel will have to divest something in both Syracuse and Bakersfield if this deal goes through.) In Binghamton, WIVT and WBGH-CA join a 2 AM/4 FM cluster that includes WINR, WENE and WMRV. The Watertown and Elmira stations represent Clear Channel's entry into those markets.
The real strength to this deal, though, comes outside the scope of NERW: Ackerley's outdoor advertising business gives Clear Channel a much larger presence in that sector in the Boston market, while its Seattle radio holdings bring Clear Channel Radio into that market for the first time.
More on the impact of this deal in the weeks and months to come...
The CRTC completed its review of a dozen or so applications for new FMs in Ottawa/Hull by approving a carefully chosen batch of new outlets designed to reach the broadest possible range of listeners (while, perhaps not coincidentally, having little to no effect on the existing station clusters in the region).
Here's what Ottawa listeners will get within 12 months: On 89.9, the Newcap group gets 27kW for "The Planet," an English-language station billed as offering a mix of "dance, Europop, urban and Latin" music. On 95.7, Gary Farmer's Aboriginal Voices Radio will get an Ottawa facility to go with its yet-to-be-built Toronto "Jump 106.5" license. (The CBC objected to this one, citing potential interference to its CBCO 95.5 in Cornwall; Farmer promised to sign on with 6 kW instead of the proposed 8 kW and to lower power further if needed.) Radio 1540, the owner of Toronto's CHIN and CHIN-FM, will put a similar multilingual outlet on the air at 97.9, with 800 watts. And Radio Nord, owner of CHOT (Channel 40) and CFGS (Channel 49) in Hull, will get to put a French-language classical station on the air - but it will have to find a different frequency from the proposed 97.9.
Down in Belleville, CHCQ (100.1) began its test transmissions this week from a tower northwest of town. The 27 kW signal is reaching very nicely across Lake Ontario; we've been listening to "Quinte Country, Q100" as we've been driving around Rochester the last few days. Full commercial sign-on will reportedly take place November 1.
In Niagara Falls, the heirs of Keith Dancy won approval to switch formats on their AM and FM facilities. CJRN (710) will move its oldies and talk programming to the FM dial, on the facilities at the top of the Skylon Tower that now belong to CFLZ (105.1). CFLZ, in turn, will move its tourist-information broadcasts down to 710, with a 10 kW signal that will reach more of the Niagara Region. (We're mildly amused by the condition of license for CFLZ that reads, "the licensee shall broadcast no advertising material;" a lot of the tourist information we hear on 105.1 seems awfully specific to the very commercial Casino Niagara!) No word on when the frequency swap will take place, but we'll be keeping an ear on both spots during our daily commute to Buffalo for the next few weeks...
(A Galaxy correction, by the way: we're informed that W249BC near Syracuse, mentioned in last week's issue, is now licensed to Mattydale, not Chittenango, and has been simulcasting WZUN 102.1 for a year or so now. Guess we forgot to tune in the last few times we were in the Salt City!)
While we're in the Albany market, WZMR (104.9 Altamont) and WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville) have filed to move a few sticks over up in the Helderberg Mountains, going from the WXXA-TV (Channel 23) tower down the hill to the stick of co-owned WYJB (95.5 Albany). Both stations will drop power slightly, but should end up with better signals over Albany after the move. Over in the Clear Channel cluster, "Kiss" WKKF (102.3 Ballston Spa) imports J.B. Wilde from Rochester's WKGS (106.7 Irondequoit) to handle its night-shift voicetracking needs.
Downstate, we're told Home Shopping vanished from WHSE (Channel 68) in Newark and WHSI (Channel 67) in Smithtown on October 1, replaced with the low-rent American Independent Network (as seen on an LPTV near you) until new owner Univision launches its "Telefutura" network in January. We're still trying to sort out the irony that millions of viewers in the New York market can't see NBC, ABC or Fox over the air (reception reports from the Alpine temporary site have been very poor in places like Brooklyn and Staten Island), they can get 5 megawatts' worth of the Lucy Show all day long.
You can't hear any of its four "quadcast" signals in midtown Manhattan very well, but Big City Radio's "Y107" (WYNY 107.1 Briarcliff Manor, et al) moved its studios from Hawthorne up in Westchester County down to 110 E. 42nd Street, 13th Floor this week.
Clear Channel's proposed $3 million purchase of current LMA partners WTSX (96.7) and WDLC (1490) in Port Jervis received an FCC flag this week, to give the Commission time to examine the overlap between this group and Clear Channel clusters in nearby Sussex, N.J. and the Hudson Valley.
A very happy anniversary, even if it went largely unremarked, to New York's WABC (770). It was eighty years ago Sunday (October 7) that Westinghouse put WJZ on the air from its plant in Newark, N.J. The station ended up in RCA's hands for twenty years, as flagship of the NBC Blue Network, then as the flagship of the new ABC network, the biggest top-40 radio station in the world, and, for the last two decades, one of America's leading talk stations. Congratulations!
Heading back upstate, it appears that Binghamton's NBC affiliate has changed channels. The former WBGH-LP (Channel 8) received a license to cover this week for its new "class A" operation on channel 20, so mark it down as WBGH-CA (Channel 20). This is the latest chapter in a strange history that began when full-power WICZ (Channel 40) dropped NBC for Fox six years ago. Elmira's NBC outlet, WETM (Channel 18) bought LPTV W08CA as a Binghamton relay to keep the Peacock reaching Binghamton, and when WETM was sold to Ackerley (owner of Binghamton ABC outlet WIVT) a few years ago, WBGH began running WIVT's local news along with its own syndicated shows and NBC programming. (And speaking of WIVT, we hear its own local morning show will soon be gone, along with those at sister stations WUTR in Utica and WWTI in Watertown, in favor of a networked morning show out of "hub" station WIXT in Syracuse...)
Way upstate, NERW traveling correspondent Gavin Burt checked in to clear up some of the confusion regarding WLPW (105.5 Lake Placid): In the evenings, WLPW and sister station WRGR (102.3 Tupper Lake) are indeed simulcasting the Jones classic rock satellite service. During the day, though, WLPW maintains its rather diverse mix of AAA-ish sounds.
Over in Buffalo, an informal objection has been filed against M&M Community Development's inane application for an LPFM on 98.5 in Buffalo; if it were up to us, the FCC would fine applicants who waste its limited resources with impossible applications like this, less than 10 miles from full class B WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls). (Actually, this application is deficient in another way: the same group, skirting one-to-an-owner rules by appending "Buffalo Branch" or what have you to its name, has more than a dozen other applications for LPFMs now pending...)
Here in Rochester, your editor can finally watch "Star Trek: Enterprise" on cable, should he be so inclined: local UPN affiliate WBGT-LP (Channel 40) has finally worked things out after years of sparring with Time Warner Cable over carriage. WBGT is leasing the prime time hours on leased-time cable channel 98 for its programming, which should get UPN into a lot of homes that can't see WBGT's low-power signal (or its relay, W26BZ in Victor).
We'll close out our New York report with an obituary: Nelson Guyette, best known to Rochester listeners as the longtime program director and station manager at WSAY/WRTK (1370), died Thursday (Oct. 4) in Rochester. Guyette's career also included Rochester stops at WNYR (680, now 990) and Syracuse stops at WNTQ (93.1), WFBL (1390, now WDCW), WSEN (1050/92.1) and WMCR (1600/106.3 Oneida). Funeral services for Guyette were held Friday in Rochester. Guyette was 68.
Down on the Cape, Ernie Boch's WDVT (93.5 Harwich Port) is back to an alternative format after two weeks as a sports/hot talk outlet.
We're told WVXN-CA (Channel 24) in Boston is now running MTV2's LPTV service (the remains of what used to be known as the Box, and a distinctly different service from the MTV2 cable channel).
And we hear WBPS (890 Dedham) will be the home of C|Net Radio within the next few weeks...stay tuned.
The FCC flagged Clear Channel's proposed purchase of WSKW (1160 Skowhegan) and WHQO (107.9 Skowhegan) from Mountain Wireless while it examines market-concentration issues in the Waterville/Augusta market.
And in Portland, WPOR (101.9) PD Rick Jordan left (reportedly for personal reasons) just four days after arriving from Syracuse's WBBS; WMGX PD Ethan Minton is covering things down the hall at WPOR until a permanent replacement can be named.
Speaking of WDJZ, the little station was once home to the trial run of Al Ham's "Music of Your Life" format, and we're sorry to report that Al Ham died Thursday in Tampa after a battle with cancer. Ham was known for keeping a close eye on his format at early affiliates such as WAVZ in New Haven and WMAS in Springfield; he also composed theme music, including the famous "Eyewitness News" theme.
On the TV side, LIN Broadcasting filed this week to turn its LMA of WCTX (Channel 59) in New Haven into a full-fledged duopoly with WTNH (Channel 8), which has operated the station ever since it signed on (as WTVU) a few years ago. No word on how much K-W Television, which had the channel 59 construction permit for years and years before finally building the station (the original CP for WTVU was issued in 1959!) will get for the license.
Up in Hartford, WFSB (Channel 3) loses its station manager, as Steve Sabato packs up the warm clothes and heads for the Flint/Saginaw market to be VP/GM at co-owned WNEM (Channel 5) in Bay City, Michigan.
Up in Scranton, say goodbye to the "Bear" active rock format at WXBE (97.9 Hazleton) and WXAR (95.7 Olyphant); the Citadel stations are now doing classic hard rock as "Z Rock," and we're told they've stopped carrying Howard Stern in the process.
In Central Pennsylvania, oldies and the WWKL calls reunited this week on the 92.1 Palmyra signal that used to be WNCE, simulcasting the rock format of WTPA (93.5 Mechanicsburg). The new WWKL ("Fun 92.1") has a much weaker signal in Harrisburg than the original WWKL (the Clear Channel 99.3 signal that's now CHR "Kiss" WHKF), not to mention competition from WSOX (96.1 Red Lion) and the new WHBO (92.7 Starview).
Down the road in Columbia (on the banks of the Susquehanna River between Lancaster and York), look for WVZN (1580) to go Spanish when it's sold to Esfuerzo de Union Cristiana. The Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired is getting $165,000 for the station.
That's it for this week's news. We're back on schedule with our Tower Site of the Week updates on fybush.com as we recount this summer's Big Trip adventures; tune in Wednesday as we visit the legendary WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota.