WBSS (97.3 Millville) had been simulcasting the talk programming of WKXW-FM (101.5 Trenton) - until 3 PM last Friday (March 15), when the talk moved to Atlantic City's AM 1450, long known as WFPG(AM). The "World's Favorite Play-Ground" station changed calls to WKXW(AM) that morning, and began simulcasting "New Jersey 101.5" at 3, silencing an interim format that had consisted of a WFPG-FM (96.9) simulcast and a local morning talk show with Harry Hurley, who's now out of work.
On the FM side, WBSS picked up the modern AC format that had been running on co-owned WKOE (106.3 Ocean City), but without the "Shore" nickname. Instead, it's "Mix 97-3" on both 97.3 and 106.3, at least for now - which has to be a little confusing for area listeners of "Mix 92," WVLT (92.1 Vineland) and even "Mix 95-7," WMWX in Philadelphia. Out of work on the FM side: former WKOE morning guy Mark Hunter and midday jock Tina Owen.
But wait - there was even more excitement on the Jersey Shore last week. Thursday (3/14) at 1:15 PM saw the official sign-on of WCHR-FM (105.7 Manahawkin), but not with the rumored simulcast of Trenton's WNJO (94.5). Instead, 105.7 debuted with a simulcast of CHR WBBO (98.5 Ocean Acres), which covers roughly the same parts of Ocean County anyway. We expect that's an interim format until something new arrives on one of the two frequencies...
And there's still more excitement brewing in South Jersey, with an application from Arthur Liu's Multicultural Broadcasting to move WTTM (1680 Princeton) some 40 miles south to Lindenwold, N.J. Where's that? To read the WTTM application, it's a community that has nothing whatsoever to do with Philadelphia (it has, after all, its own monthly community newsletter, a Wawa convenience store and a two-person police department!), but one look at the proposed contours and it's clear that the move would make WTTM a Philadelphia station in all but name.
The move would put WTTM on a new 74-meter tower on a bit of land between I-295 and the New Jersey Turnpike just east of US 30, barely two miles from the Walt Whitman Bridge; we'd expect the station (which is being LMA'd by Multicultural from Nassau for the moment) to drop ESPN sports for leased-time ethnic if this move is approved. With the FCC's recent freeze on major changes to expanded-band stations (could this application have brought that about?), Liu may have to wait a while to find out. Stay tuned...
And we're still not done with the Garden State: the FCC released a list this week of LPFM applications in New Jersey and four other states that meet spacing guidelines and are uncontested. Only five made the cut in New Jersey: Maranatha-by-the-Sea Christian Fellowship, for 92.7 Ocean City; Iglesia Nueva Jerusalen (sic) for 93.7 Cedar Grove; Azariah Communications for 98.5 Bridgeton; Radio Alerta for 102.3 Arrowhead Village and Gogosurfer Inc., whatever THAT is, for 102.5 Bridgeton. Petitions to deny against any of these are due by April 10; if the FCC doesn't hear any objections, expect construction permits to follow shortly afterward.
The format change puts Emmis' WQHT (Hot 97.1) in the crossfires, especially with the addition of former WQHT morning team Dr. Dre and Ed Lover as Power's new morning crew. It's probably also bad news for Inner City Broadcasting's WBLS (107.5), which has been the biggest competition for Hot until now.
Once Power gets a PD and more airstaff (not to mention new call letters), we won't be surprised to see Clear Channel struggle to draw a format line between 105.1 and the dance-leaning CHR on its WKTU (103.5); could New York's first all-dance outlet be a side effect of this format change?
FLASH: Credit Allan Sniffen's NY Radio Message Board for this one - there's word late Monday evening that WOR has a new program director to replace the departed David Bernstein, and it's none other than John Mainelli. Newcomers to the scene might know him only as the New York Post radio columnist, but Mainelli made a name for himself as WABC's program director through much of the 90s. His arrival at WABC's chief competitor after a few years in the wilderness is bound to shake things up more than a bit on the New York AM dial, and it's none too soon...
Down on the AM side of the New York dial, Westwood One made the long-expected announcement last week that Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly will launch his "Radio Factor" show this spring on an initial lineup of affiliates that will include WOR (710). What did come as a bit of a surprise was WOR's scheduling: no live feed (noon to 2 PM Eastern) of O'Reilly against Rush Limbaugh on WABC. Instead, WOR will leave Arthur Schwartz's food show at noon and the Dolans at 1, with O'Reilly running on tape delay at 3, pushing Bob Grant to a 5 PM start. Will that change if O'Reilly does well against Limbaugh elsewhere? We wouldn't be surprised.
Moving upstate a bit, WRCR (1300 Spring Valley) will move its studios to Rockland County's Nanuet Mall in April. The station, which offers the only local English-language programming in Rockland, says the move will give it better visibility in the local community and allow for more promotional tie-ins with the mall.
Moving one county over, DXers who have yet to log Orange County will get another chance if they wake up early on April 1: WTBQ (1110 Florida) will conduct a DX test from 5:15 until 6 o'clock that Monday morning.
No surprise in this week's call changes from Binghamton: WKOP (1360) abandons those heritage calls for the second time in its history to take the WYOS calls that accompany the oldies format formerly heard on 104.1 FM; the Chenango Bridge-licensed FM signal becomes, as expected, WWYL to match its "Wild 104" CHR format. (Can anyone come up with another market with four or more AM stations that were all using the same calls they had in the fifties, as Binghamton's WINR, WNBF, WKOP and WENE were doing until last week?)
Up north, the latest round in the fight over Watertown religious station WWJS (90.1) finds Charles Savidge, the father-in-law of Liberty Christian Center pastor Stephen Bryant, suing Bryant to get access to the station's equipment, which has been locked up inside Bryant's building for several months now. WWJS has been off the air since the dispute between Savidge, his daughter and Bryant began, and it doesn't look like it will be back on the air any time soon.
On the LPTV front, the FCC handed out Class A upgrades this week to a whole bunch of upstate LP'ers, some deserving, some questionable: here in Rochester, WBGT-LP (Channel 40) can now sign itself WBGT-CA (with cable carriage, locally-produced shows and a UPN affiliation, "Big TV" is giving the full-power locals some real competition, too), but so can WBXO-LP (Channel 15), which has never had anything but Box/MTV2 programming in all the years we've watched. Down in Olean, WONS-LP (Channel 25) gets CA status, as does Buffalo's W15BH, which relays local-market WNYB (Channel 26) from Jamestown. In Syracuse, MTV2 outlet WNDR-LP (Channel 18) gets CA, as does MTV2'er W13BR in nearby Oneida. W16AX in Ithaca, a translator of Syracuse Fox outlet WSYT (Channel 68) gets CA, as does Albany-area indie WVBX-CA (Channel 15) in Easton, once it makes a displacement move.
We neglected to mention last week the death of Art Roberts, known to millions as the night jock on Chicago's WLS (890), and we should have: before moving to Chicago in the sixties, Roberts was part of the original top-40 crew at Buffalo's WKBW (1520). Roberts died March 6 at his home in Gardnerville, Nevada.
Another Buffalo veteran, Art Wander, is taking another stab at retirement. Wander, who started at WKBW back in 1956, went on to stints in New York and Chicago before coming home to Buffalo in 1987 for gigs at WBUF, WGKT and WGR and his first attempted retirement in 1996. Wander returned to work the next year at the Empire Sports Network, where he's now seen in the afternoon as host of the "Just Getting Started" talk show. He's also been doing mid-mornings on Empire's sister radio outlet, WNSA (107.7 Wethersfield). Retirement day, this time, is set for March 28; no word on who'll fill Wander's radio or TV shoes yet.
And we'll close on an odd Buffalo note: the Family Life folks have made the application to change primaries on their newly-acquired translator, W284AP (104.7 Buffalo), switching it from WNSA to their own WCOU (88.3 Warsaw). So far, so good - but when we went to plot the translator's location, we found an FCC typo that moved it from the roof of Buffalo General Hospital across the lake to somewhere near Oshawa, Ontario! (Wonder if the CRTC knows?)
Down in Pittsburgh, the McKeesport Daily News' Patrick Cloonan reports WKHB (620 Irwin) is moving its studios, crossing the Allegany County line to a new spot behind the Wendy's at PA 48 and US 30 in N. Versailles Township. Owner Robert Stevens says his next project, sometime this summer, will be moving sister station WKTW (1530 Jeannette) down the dial to 770. Stevens also says he'll change formats at new acquisition WANB (1580 Waynesboro) when that deal closes, but he plans to leave WANB-FM (103.1) alone. (For what it's worth, Stevens denies the recent trade listings for two "low-dial" Pittsburgh AMs were WKHB and WKTW...)
Over in State College, WZWW (95.3 Bellefonte) gets a license to cover for its upgrade, which puts the station at 790 watts at 194 meters AAT from a site on Purdue Mountain Road, on the ridge halfway between Bellefonte and State College.
Up in Port Allegany (just south of Olean), WHKS (94.9) is applying to boost power from 530 watts to 1150 watts from its current site.
NECRAT's Mike Fitzpatrick reminded us that we'd neglected to note an interesting DTV channel swap in New Haven, where UPN affiliate WCTX and Connecticut Public TV's WEDY are exchanging their digital positions. When they're finally built, WEDY will show up on channel 6, while WCTX will be with the rest of the big Connecticut signals on the UHF dial at channel 39.
And we hear Steven Kalb, late of New Haven talker WELI (960), will be back on the air working for Connecticut Radio Network, covering the trial of Kennedy cousin-in-law Michael Skakel.
Across the hall from WEEI, WQSX (93.7 Lawrence) is losing its founding PD. Ron Valeri is heading into the management sector, as he departs to become a partner in Paul Geary Management. No replacement has been announced yet.
Sorry to announce the passing of Bill Pike, former host of WHAV (1490 Haverhill)'s "Open Line" show and Haverhill High School football coverage. Pike left the station in 1986 to run for Haverhill City Council, where he served until his death on March 10. Pike was 70.
On the carrier-current front, we hear WBTY at Bentley College is about to move into new LPB-equipped studios at the Waltham school. We remember hearing WBTY's AM 530 signal leaking into the ether a decade or so ago when we were involved with Waltham's other college station...
On the TV side, WBVT-LP (Channel 39) and W30BL in Burlington were both granted class A status this week.
Not too far away, WMEX (106.5 Farmington) has filed for a site change of about a mile, moving from the site it now shares with WWPC (91.7 New Durham) to a much higher spot on Prospect Mountain. WMEX's new facilities would be 780 watts from 236 meters AAT.
WREM relays the talk programming of WEGP (1390 Presque Isle), and the fire destroyed the STL from WEGP, forcing station owner Allan Weiner to rig up a replacement to put WREM back on the air. There was no damage to sister shortwave outlet WBCQ.
Closer to Portland, WYFP (91.9 Harpswell) is applying for a power increase. The Bible Broadcasting religious outlet would increase to 6 kW at 53 meters AAT, with a directional antenna offering a slight null at 290 degrees to protect WCSH's channel 6 signal.
On the TV front, class A grants came down this week for WBGR-LP (Channel 33) in Bangor and for WFYW-LP (Channel 41) in Waterville, which relays the 3 Angels religious network.
Over in the Montreal area, CHAA (103.3 Longueuil) has applied to make a move of its own. The station wants to drop power from 104 watts to 53 watts and move 8 km west.
And in Ottawa-Hull, the "Fondation Radio Enfant" has been granted a 117-watt temporary license for a station on 96.5 to broadcast programming for children in French. The station will operate until July 1, providing programming for the upcoming "Rendez-Vous de la Francophonie" as well as several Canadian and Quebecois holidays.
See you next Monday...