The move comes less than a year after Clear Channel flipped oldies WWKL-FM (99.3) to "Kiss" as WHKF; despite a much smaller signal, WHKF had pulled even with WNNK in the 12+ numbers by the most recent book. It didn't help, either, that WNNK parted ways with afternoon host Bruce Bond, one of the market's best-known personalities, last winter. (We hear Bond just might resurface in the market as an AM talker once his non-compete expires, by the way...)
WNNK is still "Wink 104," but it's competing in the hot AC arena now, offering up "The Best Music of the 80s, 90s and Today" and adding older tracks by Celine Dion and the like to the playlist.
Moving east, Reading's WEEU (830) is reaching more of southeastern Pennsylvania these days, with a power boost last week that took the station's daytime signal from 5 kilowatts all the way to 20. The increase is giving WEEU a cleaner shot into Philadelphia during daylight hours; with 6 kW at night, WEEU remains limited to the immediate Reading and Berks County area after dark, though.
Philadelphia's WMWX (Mix 95.7) shifted some air talent this week, moving Rick Stacy to mornings and Danny Meyers to Stacy's old afternoon shift. The station also adjusted its music mix a bit, edging more towards hot AC.
A bit of radio history died last week with the passing, at age 95, of the Rev. Dr. Carl McIntire. He was best known, perhaps, as the rabidly right-wing preacher whose "Reformation Hour" was heard on the radio from the 1960s until his recent retirement, but in radio circles he'll be forever known for the license revocation of WXUR and WXUR-FM in Media, near Philadelphia, in 1973.
The FCC revoked the stations' licenses after finding they had violated the (now-defunct) Fairness Doctrine by refusing to present the views of those opposed to McIntire's fiery anti-Communist, anti-modernist editorials. After the stations were silenced (the AM frequency, 690, reappeared later in the seventies as WPHE Phoenixville, while the FM side remained dark until 1983 when it reappeared as WKSZ, now WPLY), McIntire moved his operation to a ship anchored off the New Jersey shore, from which he operated on 1160 kHz for a few days until a fire broke out and destroyed much of the equipment.
McIntire never attempted to return to radio ownership after that, but his commentaries continued to air (most recently on WTMR in Camden) until he ceased producing them three years ago. He died Tuesday (March 19) in Voorhees, N.J.
Across town, New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW-FM Trenton and WKXW Atlantic City) are getting ready to drop the oldies that have long occupied the overnight hours, replacing them with local talk and leaving oldies to weekends only.
In the city, Joan Rivers exits WOR (710) and the WOR Radio Network just ahead of the schedule change that would have pushed her show back into the late-night hours. Could this be the first sign of bigger changes at the station and the network, under the new leadership of PD John Mainelli?
While Ed Levine hasn't completed the move of WHTR (93.5 Corinth) into the Albany market quite yet, his engineers raised some eyebrows last week when the FCC Daily Digest carried a notice that an application for the move to 93.7 in Scotia had been dismissed "at the applicant's request."
Not to worry; that was simply a proposal to slightly modify the height on the still-valid CP to move WHTR to an 1150-watt signal from the Schenectady suburb. Another obstacle to the move has been cleared as well: Northeast Gospel Broadcasters' application for a change in frequency to their proposed Scotia translator of WNGN (91.9 Argyle) has been withdrawn. W288BD was granted on 105.5, with the proposal for 93.7 now off the table.
Need more evidence that the whole FM allocations procedure is completely broken? Probably not, but here's some anyway: Sacred Heart University went back to the FCC asking for a re-examination of the decision that allocated 102.5A to Rhinebeck, N.Y. instead of the university's proposal to give the frequency to North Canaan, Connecticut. SHU's argument runs like this: when the FCC gave Rhinebeck preference, it did so because Rhinebeck has 7,558 people while North Canaan has 3,350. But, the university argues, that's the Town of Rhinebeck with a population of more than 7,558 - and the FCC should have been considering the Village of Rhinebeck, which has 3,077 people and is thus smaller than North Canaan!
The FCC didn't buy it, ruling last week that the new allocations will stand, but the sheer amount of bureaucratic energy being expended on such nonsense should be an indication that there has to be a better way to make sense of the FM dial - or at least to account for the very different definitions of "Town" and "Village" in different parts of the country.
LPFM news: the FCC granted two new LP-100s this week in the Empire State. Limestone Community Radio gets 104.7 in Limestone (just north of the Pennsylvania line near Olean), while Arcade Christian Broadcasting Corporation will get to put 100.3 on the air in Arcade, a half-hour or so east of Buffalo in Wyoming County.
Rich Stevens is out as morning co-host at WLLW (99.3 Seneca Falls); no word on a replacement at "the Wall," and we hear Stevens is looking for work in the region.
In Binghamton, the transformation of standards WKOP (1360) into oldies WYOS displaced Hank Sommers' Saturday night standards/jazz show, but not to fear; it's resurfaced on sister station WNBF (1290), with a better signal to boot.
The RTNDA handed out this year's regional Edward R. Murrow awards last week, and nearly all the winners in Region 11 (New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania) were from New York. In the large-market radio category, WINS took home awards for overall excellence and spot news (for 9/11 coverage); WNYC won the prizes for best newscast, best feature and best documentary and WCBS won for best use of sound. Philadelphia was represented for continuing coverage and writing (both to KYW) and best news series (WHTT).
In the small markets, Schenectady's WGY dominated, winning prizes for overall excellence, spot news and continuing coverage. Rochester's WHAM took home the best newscast award, and Albany's WAMC won for best news series.
The just-granted station, owned by Puerto Rico-based "Fair Communications Community," will run 500 watts day, 220 watts at night from a two-tower array just west of Route 8 on Frost Bridge Road, a few miles north of Waterbury. The pattern will aim vaguely northwest by day; at night, it will be a figure-eight aimed north and south, a far cry from the huge signal WQQW used to pump out before being bought by New York's WWRL and taken silent.
WBZ-TV (Channel 4) is pulling the plug on its 7 PM newscast on sister station WSBK (Channel 38). It'll be replaced next month with a 10 PM show on WSBK, the second time in a decade that WBZ has produced a 10 o'clock newscast for WSBK.
Congratulations to Peter Smyth; the former head of Greater Media's Boston stations was promoted last week from President/COO of the entire company to President/CEO.
Congratulations as well to perennial award-winner WATD (95.9 Marshfield), which cleaned up in the small-market division of the Region 10 (New England) regional Murrows. WATD took home six prizes, including overall excellence and best newscast; down the Cape, newcomer WCAI/WNAN won two prizes, for best news series and best use of sound.
In the large markets, we suspect a dearth of entries, since several categories had no prize awarded. Boston's WBUR won the only four categories in which there was a winner: continuing coverage, use of sound, sports reporting and Web site.
Lombardi, who remained a vibrant presence at CHIN and in Toronto's Italian community well into his eighties, died Monday (March 18) at 86. His family continues to own the CHIN stations.
Over at jazz CJRT (91.1 Toronto), Ted O'Reilly exits after 37 years, most recently as the station's afternoon host.
And up in Montreal, Vidéotron Cable is asking the CRTC for permission to stop carrying CJOH-TV-8 (Channel 8) from Cornwall, Ontario. The move was inevitable, since CJOH's Ottawa-based programming is nearly identical to Montreal's own CFCF (Channel 12), now that both are owned by CTV. But it ends a very long saga that began back in the early sixties, when channel 8 was CJSS-TV, a valiant attempt to rimshot Montreal (and northern New York) with a local TV signal from Cornwall. CJSS-TV didn't last long, and by the mid-sixties it was already relaying CJOH, but it's nice to think of what could have been...
There's still snow on the ground here at NERW Central, but we can just about taste the hot dogs as baseball season gets underway in just a few short days. We've had several requests for major-league network information, and here's what we can tell you so far for 2002:
Spanish Sox broadcasts do shift this year, moving to WKOX (1200 Framingham), WMSX (1410 Brockton), WHAV (1490 Haverhill), WLYN (1360 Lynn), WSPR (1270 Springfield) and WORC (1310 Worcester), not one of which has a decent signal at Fenway. Also on the Spanish network are WRIB (1220 Providence) and WPRX (1120 Bristol CT) - and something on the Sox site shown as "WBKG 1110 Bridgeport," which corresponds to nothing we've ever heard of. A pirate on the network?
Sox TV coverage continues on WFXT (channel 25) and NESN, with a handful of regional TV stations (WCTX in Connecticut, WPME, WABI and WBGR-CA in Maine and WVBX-LP in upstate New York) picking up some games.
TV shows up on WPSG (Channel 57) and Comcast Sports Network, with WSWB in Scranton and WLYH in Lebanon also picking up some games.
And the Expos are still playing baseball in Montreal, with games in French on CKAC (730) and the Radiomédia Quebec network and in English on CKGM (Team 990). We'd expect at least some TV games on RDS and Radio-Canada, but the team isn't saying so just yet.
We still have a few weeks until the minors start playing, so stay tuned for those stations as we nail them down...and Play Ball!
Finally, we received several answers to last week's trivia musing, which had to do with Binghamton radio. We had noted that until this month, all four Binghamton AMs (WINR, WNBF, WKOP and WENE) were using the same calls they'd had in the fifties, and asked if there were any other markets that could claim the same sort of persistence.
Several of you mentioned Springfield, which offers WHYN, WSPR and WMAS, as well as WHMP in nearby Northampton, and that's not bad (although that market has a few stations with changed calls, including WNNZ 640, ex-WDEW 1570; WACM 1490, ex-WTXL; WHNP 1600, ex-WTYM and, of course, the now defunct WBZA 1030!)
The other "almost" entry is Hartford, where WTIC, WDRC and WPOP are still using the same old calls. WCCC (1290) almost made a fourth before changing its calls to WTMI last month, and there are the suburban entries (WRYM 840, ex-WKNB; WLAT-910, ex-WHAY; et al) to consider.
Thanks for playing - and we'll see you again next Monday!