North East RadioWatch: March 28, 1997
Thawing Out and Unpacking...
Sorry about the delays! The move into the new apartment has been more
time-consuming than I expected, and that's why this NERW is coming out
about two weeks later than planned. The good news is, nearly all the boxes
are unpacked, and by mid-April things should be very much back to normal.
On with the news, and there's plenty!
- Live, local, and late-breaking: There's another urban station in
Hartford. Mega Broadcasting has flipped WNEZ (910 New Britain) from
Spanish romance music to urban as "910 Jamz." There's no urban FM in
Hartford; the competition is Windsor's WKND (1480).
- First, from the radio-with-pictures front: Boston's WCVB-TV (Channel 5) is
getting a new owner. Hearst Broadcasting is merging with Argyle
Broadcasting, and that means you can now list WCVB as a Hearst-Argyle
station. The merger means the company will have to sell WNAC-TV (Channel
64) in Providence, a Fox affiliate operated under LMA by Clear Channel's
WPRI-TV (Channel 12), because of the signal overlap between WCVB and WNAC.
Late word is that Hearst is selling its radio properties in Milwaukee
(WISN/WLTQ) and Pittsburgh (WTAE/WVTY) to SFX to help pay for the
Argyle deal. The Providence market will have another LMA'd TV outlet
by next week. WLWC-TV (Channel 28) New
Bedford-Providence is due to sign on March 31, operated as a WB affiliate
by NBC's WJAR-TV (Channel 10) Providence. Channel 28 will have a 10pm
newscast produced by WJAR-TV. NERW would be less than surprised to find
Boston WB affiliate WLVI-TV (Channel 56) disappearing from some
Southeastern Mass. cable systems in the next few months. And in
Connecticut, Al Bova is leaving his post as general manager of WVIT
(Channel 30) after almost two decades with the station. He's joining CBS
as general manager of KYW-TV (Channel 3) in Philadelphia.
- Boston's AM 1150 is being put to a good use, a month after the demise of
KidStar. Greater Media is using WNFT as a test site for Digital Audio
Broadcasting (DAB) experiments. Among the DAB experts in town for the
testing, we're told, is Greater Media's VP of Engineering, Milford Smith,
who chairs the National Radio Systems Committee. When WNFT is not running
DAB tests, it's simulcasting country music from WKLB-FM (96.9).
- Say goodbye to traffic reports from Metro Networks on Boston's WBZ (1030).
As of April 1, the CBS O&O will end its long relationship with Metro and
start a new one with Shadow Traffic, which opened a Boston office last
year. Shadow shares its CEO, Mel Karmazin, with CBS. The switch is bad
news for Metro personalities like Joe Stapleton and Aaron Sawyer - they're
reportedly bound by a non-compete agreement with Metro. Shadow was already
providing traffic reports for WBZ sister station WODS (103.3).
- Call letter news: Boston University's FM station is no longer WBUR(FM).
It's changed calls to WBUR-FM, allowing the former WUOK(AM) in West
Yarmouth to become WBUR(AM). WBUR(AM) simulcasts the NPR news and talk
programming from WBUR-FM for Cape Cod listeners on 1240. Another historic
Boston call has returned to the airwaves. WVBF, the calls associated with
105.7 in Framingham from 1970 until 1993, now can be heard each hour on AM
1530 in Middleborough. The new WVBF(AM) is the former WCEG(AM), and
broadcasts programming for the blind from the Talking Information Center in
Marshfield. The new public radio station on 91.1 from Nantucket will be
WNAN(FM), and Sound of Life's new religious outlet in Glens Falls NY will
be WARD(FM). The WARD calls were last seen on what's now WKQV(AM) 1550 in
Pittston PA. 96.1 in Poughkeepsie NY is no longer WNSX; the new calls
there are WTND, reflecting its "Thunder Country" simulcast with WTHN (99.3)
- It lives! If there was any doubt that WEGP (1390) in Presque Isle, Maine
was still on the air, a quick check of the dial early Saturday morning
should fix that. WEGP has scheduled a DX test from 3 until 3:30 am,
Saturday, March 29. WEGP will run 5,000 watts non-directional during the
test, which will include marching music and Morse code. If you hear WEGP,
let us know at NERW, and send your reception reports to Allan Weiner, WEGP,
3 State Street Place, Presque Isle ME 04769. If that name sounds familiar,
there's a very good reason. Weiner was the owner of WOZI-FM (101.7) and
WOZW (710) in the Presque Isle area in the 1980s, and he's well-known as
the operator of many pirate stations over the years, including KPF-941 in
Yonkers NY and Radio Newyork International off the Long Island coast.
- Speaking of the Pine Tree State, a NERW reader reports WCME (96.7)
Boothbay Harbor has been off the air for several weeks. The classic rock
programming continues to be heard on WXGL (95.5) Topsham. The folks at
WCME/WXGL claim WCME's silence is permanent, but NERW suspects the 96.7
frequency won't stay silent for long.
- Local music and talk are making a bit of a comeback in the Boston suburbs.
WSRO (1470) in Marlborough is now being run by Lindsy Parker, ex-PD at the
Talk America Radio Network and at WSAR (1480) Fall River. Parker and owner
Doug Rowe say they're committed to live, local talk. Further down I-495
in Norfolk MA, WDIS (1170) has dropped its Talk America programming, and is
playing adult contemporary music with live, local DJs.
- The FCC is out with its latest list of proposed expanded-band allocations,
and once again the Northeast gets the very short end of the stick. Only
two stations up this way receive spots in the expanded band under the new
plan. WTRY (980) Troy NY would move to 1640, and WZNN (930) Rochester NH
would move to 1700. Like earlier FCC lists, the latest proposal raises
more questions than it answers. Among the stations listed is WJRZ (1550)
Toms River NJ - whose construction permit expired without ever being built!
If the Commission's goal is to reduce interference, NERW thinks WJRZ(AM)
has done its part for the cause without ever receiving an expanded-band
slot. The FCC might also want to check the call letters on the list; many
are quite outdated by now!
- In business news: Congratulations to Bob Bittner, whose purchase of WJTO
(730) Bath ME was approved earlier this month. Bob's now sorting his way
through all the old stuff he's finding buried deep in the WJTO
studio/transmitter facility. WMDI (107.7) Bar Harbor ME has been sold by
MDI Communications to Bridge Broadcast Corp. Pilot Communications has
sold its radio properties in the Northeast to Broadcasting Partners
Holdings LP. The stations include WTVL/WEBB (1490/98.5) Waterville ME;
WEZW/WMME (1400/92.3) Augusta ME; and WLTI (105.9), WNSS (1260), WNTQ
(93.1) and WAQX (95.7 Manlius) in the Syracuse NY market. WLTI has just
been granted a power increase to 4 kW.
WXZR (98.7) East Lyme CT has been sold from Group E Communications to Hall
Communications, owner of WICH/WCTY (1310/97.7 Norwich) and WNLC/WTYD
(1510/100.9 New London) in the Southeast Connecticut area. WXZR has been
running satellite adult AC since the demise of its old Z-Rock format last
winter; no word on what Hall might do to the format.
- More information from our friends at 1919 M Street, NW, in no particular
order: Northeast Gospel Broadcasting has been granted a translator at 88.5
in Bennington VT, to relay its WNGX (91.7) Argyle NY. NGB is also
applying for 105.5 in Scotia NY, near Schenectady, an interesting move
given that the new WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury) blasts quite a signal into the
area. Expect more translators of William Walker's WRWD (107.3 Highland NY)
and WBWZ (93.3 New Paltz NY); he's bought construction permits for Newburgh
NY translators on 94.1 and 106.5 from Paul Reid. The Monroe Board of
Education has been granted a translator on 94.5 in Old Saybrook CT,
relaying its WGRS (91.5) Guilford. The Educational Media Foundation is
applying for a translator in Watertown NY on 89.7, relaying KLVC (88.3), in
oh-so-nearby Magalia, California. NERW doesn't even know where Melrose
Park NY is, but it must be somewhere in the Finger Lakes region, because
WNYR (98.5) Waterloo has applied for a 98.1 translator there. Meantime,
down in Elmira, the WSKG Public Telecommunications Council won't be
building a new translator on 91.1. The FCC has deleted the construction
permit for W216AB. WSKG already operates WSQE on 91.1 in nearby Corning
NY. Here in our new home base of Rochester, another FM channel is about to
bite the dust. WRCD (107.3 Honeoye Falls-Rochester) has been granted a
translator on 107.9 in Rochester, W300AM. So much for listening to WWHT
Syracuse on 107.9...
Back in New England, WDEV-FM in Warren VT is doubling its power - from 48
watts to a whopping 96 watts, albeit from way up there in the mountains.
We now know for sure where the new Vermont/New Hampshire joint public radio
station will operate from. They've applied for 1700 watts vertical, 110
watts horizontal from way up on the WVPR (89.5) transmitter near Windsor
VT. Family Stations has been granted permission to move its Burlington VT
translator, now on 90.9, to 89.3 under the new calls W207AX. Whatever you
call it, it rebroadcasts KEAR (106.9) San Francisco. Concord Bible
Fellowship in Concord NH has been granted a 104.3 translator, W282AF, to
relay WBCI (105.9) Bath ME. And yes, there's one secular translator to
report: WZSH (107.1 Bellows Falls VT) has been granted W298AH, a 107.5
translator in Claremont NH.
- New England's religious broadcasters are engaging in some territorial
squabbling when it comes to new translators. Christian Ministries, Inc. is
fighting a petition to deny that was filed against its proposed translator
on 96.3 in Quechee VT, which would have relayed WCMD (89.9) Barre VT. CMI
is also applying for 91.7 in Woodstock VT, just down the road. Meantime,
the folks at WPVQ (93.9) Turners Falls MA are fighting a petition to deny
filed by Harvest Broadcasting Association against their proposed translator
in South Hadley MA. Harvest is owned by Brian Dodge, who's developed a bit
of an FCC track record for operating "outside the lines," including his
1995 activation of WRUT (107.5 West Rutland VT) long after said CP had
expired. You can now hear WPVQ on RealAudio, by the way...look for
- Aboard the pirate ship: NERW's friends in Syracuse tell us there's a
pirate calling itself "WMIV - Jammin' Z90" operating weekends on 90.7 MHz.
The signal is reportedly being heard throughout much of the Salt City.
- How hard is it to build a translator in downtown Boston? Ask the folks at
the Boston Phoenix and WFNX (101.7 Lynn-Boston). They've filed for an
extension of time to build W267AI, the planned 101.3 WFNX translator atop
the John Hancock Tower.
- For the history buffs: Connecticut Public TV ran a special earlier this
month called "You're on the Air! The Early Years of Connecticut
Television." NERW is hoping CPTV repeats the show later in the spring so
we can get a tape of it! And Boston's WCVB-TV (Channel 5), which
celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special called "5 at 25" on March
19, will rebroadcast the show on Sunday, May 25 at 9 PM. NERW thanks the
many folks who responded with offers to send a copy of the show to our new
Rochester headquarters, a bit outside the Grade B contour for channel 5!
- We could zing Broadcasting&Cable for getting the idea that WSUB (980
Groton CT) and WBSM (1420 New Bedford MA) swapped call letters. We could
zing them for having no idea of WLTI (105.9 Syracuse NY)'s current format.
But we're getting tired of it.
- Anyway, NERW makes mistakes too - last issue, we told you WBMX (98.5
Boston) had been approved to move from the FM128 tower in Newton to the
Prudential Center. Bzzzzt! As several sharp-eyed NERW readers reminded
me, the CP actually authorizes a move just slightly to the south, to the
Cabot Road, Needham candelabra that's home to channels 25 (for now), 38,
- Local radio? Yes, it still exists...just ask the folks at WQQQ (103.3) in
Sharon CT, where a local family suffered a total loss from a fire in their
rented home. WQQQ's "Marshall in the Morning" show stepped in just a few
hours later, opening the phone lines to raise money to help the Rubino
family, with the help of one listener who pledged to match the donations.
Within just a few hours, Q103 brought in more than $9,000 in money, plus
offers of housing, clothes, food, and construction assistance. You can't
do that when your programming comes from Dallas or Denver. By the way,
WQQQ owner Dennis Jackson now has WMEX (102.5 Westport NY - Burlington VT)
on the air, running automated classical music.
- On a sad note: NERW marks the passing of Granville "Granny" Klink of
Washington's WTOP (1500). Klink had been an engineer at the station for
close to 60 years, and worked every day well into his 80s. He was a legend
in his field. We also send our condolences to AIRWAVES moderator Bill
Pfeiffer on the death of his mother, Asta Pfeiffer. Bill has been a good
friend to NERW over the years, and he's in our thoughts this week.
- A reminder to those of you who read NERW on the Boston Radio Interest or
NorthEast Radio Watcher mailing lists: those lists have moved. The new
addresses to subscribe are:
subscribe in the body of your message and you're on. The BRI list
includes discussion of New England broadcasting; the NERW list is just
NERW, hot off the keyboard as it's published.
- Now that we've thawed out, we'll be back within a week (I promise!) with
more tales of broadcasting in the Slightly Warmer Northeast. See you then!
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