North East RadioWatch: April 17, 1997
In the Zone
After nearly four decades of family ownership, Knight Quality
Broadcasting is being sold to Capstar for $70 million. Capstar
enters New England radio in a big way -- it gets WTAG (580) and
WSRS (96.1) in Worcester MA, WGIR AM/FM (610/101.1) in Manchester NH,
WHEB (100.3), WXHT (95.3 York Center ME), and WTMN (1380) in
Portsmouth NH, and WEZF (92.9) in Burlington VT.
Patriarch Norman Knight had transferred the stations to his
children last year; Inside Radio reports they'll join Capstar's
management team once the deal closes.
Capstar is already saying it will be making more acquisitions in
New England in the near future. We'll keep you posted.
(Added April 18. --ed.)
- We'll begin this week with one brand-new station, right here in
NERW's new home town of Brighton NY. After six months of nonstop rock
instrumentals, WAQB (94.1) got down to business last Friday
afternoon with an Alanis Morrissette tune. The station's new modern
AC format is going by the "Zone" nickname, and for now it's running
jockless as it plays the first 10,000 songs commercial-free.
Rick MacKenzie is the PD, and Bill Moran of sister station WCMF-FM
(96.5) will move downstairs to do mornings on the Zone, which is
expected to get new calls any day now.
The Zone is aimed squarely at Rochester's other giant radio operator,
Jacor, which plays most of the same music on modern rock WNVE (95.1
South Bristol, "The Nerve") and newly-purchased AAA WMAX-FM (106.7
Irondeqoit-Rochester and WMHX 102.3 Canandaigua).
WAQB is the latest acquisition of American Radio Systems, which also
owns WCMF-FM, CHR WPXY-FM (97.9), AC WRMM-FM (101.3), and is selling
- Another new sign-on is the long-awaited WLWC-TV (Channel 28) New
Bedford-Providence RI. After several months of delays, WLWC signed on
this past weekend, with a signal covering most of Rhode Island and
southeastern Massachusetts. WLWC is operated by NBC's WJAR (Channel 10)
Providence, and is a WB affiliate. WJAR programs a 10pm newscast
weeknights on channel 28.
- Wanna buy a radio network? The Church of Christ, Scientist is
selling Monitor Radio, closing the books on its long-running efforts
to become a major source of broadcast news. It's been five years
since the church shut down the Monitor Channel cable network and sold
WQTV (Channel 68) in Boston. Now it's radio's turn, as the church
tries to find a buyer by June for the Boston-based network and
shortwave outlets WSHB Cypress Creek SC and KHBI Saipan.
- It's Arbitron time, and now that your editor no longer works in
radio, we can begin providing a look at the numbers, starting with the
just-released winter book for Boston. Among listeners 12+, WBZ (1030)
was the clear winner, holding steady with an 8.1 share all day and
12.1 for Gary LaPierre and the morning crew. WJMN (94.5) took a big
hit, falling nearly a full share from second to fourth 12+. WXKS
(1430) was the biggest gainer, jumping from 1.8 to 2.4 12+. WMJX
(106.7) posted a nice gain 12+, and led the 25-54 ratings, followed by
WXKS-FM (107.9), WODS (103.3), WBMX (98.5), and WZLX (100.7).
- Hartford's WTIC AM/FM (1080/96.5) was the target of a bomb threat
Wednesday afternoon. The station's downtown studios were evacuated
after a caller to nearby WFSB-TV (Channel 3) claimed there was a bomb
in the building's garage. WTIC staffers put hour-long tapes of Dr. Laura
Schlessinger on the AM and generic music on the FM before evacuating.
The FM tape repeated, but WTIC(AM) went into dead air for an hour
before staffers were able to return to the studios. Transmitters for
both stations are in Avon CT, and were not affected by the threat --
so NERW wonders whether there's any provision for WTIC programming to
originate from the transmitter site in such instances. By the way,
WTIC ended its 23-year career as the Hartford Whalers' flagship
station this week. WTIC broadcast the very first Whalers game in
1974, and now it's also broadcast the last, as the team prepares to
move for next season.
- Speaking of hockey, Fred Cusick is retiring after nearly four decades
as the play-by-play voice of the Boston Bruins. Cusick spent the last
25 years at WSBK-TV (Channel 38). Cusick did the first US network NHL
broadcast back in 1956, as well as the first US network Stanley Cup
broadcast a year later. No replacement has been announced. Another
possible departure: WRKO morning co-host Pat Whitley is dropping
strong hints that he's getting ready to leave the "Clapprood and
- FCC miscellany: There are a slew of applicants for the vacant 106.5
frequency in Farmington NH, many of them from various "Educational
Radio Fellowships," which NERW believes to be religious broadcasters.
The 106.5 construction permit had been held by WRHF(FM), but was never
built. Also in New Hampshire, WNTK (1020 Newport/99.7 New London) has
hired a new morning host. Congratulations to Pete Ferrand, formerly
of WKBK (1220 Keene), and good luck! Up in Ashland NH, Mountain View
Christian Communications has applied for a 96.9 translator of WGLV
(104.3 Hartford VT). And candlepin bowling fans in the Granite State
can rest easy; that's the one bit of programming to survive WNDS
(Channel 50)'s move to home shopping.
- From Maine comes word that WCME (96.7 Boothbay Harbor) has returned
to the air, running 70s and 80s AC with very few interruptions. It's
not clear who is running the station; last we heard, Bob Cole was
trying to sell it. Former sister station WXGL (95.5 Topsham) has
reportedly moved out of Cole's lighthouse-shaped building and into new
studios in Topsham on route 201.
One Maine station showed up on the FCC's long-awaited list of
stations deleted in the February dark-stations purge. WTOX (1450)
Lincoln ME is now gone for real. The only others in the northeast
were WSRR (1580 Washington NJ) and WTSS (1320 Scranton PA).
Also, our apologies to the Portland Pirates, who are of course an AHL
hockey franchise and not an Eastern League baseball club. The
Portland Sea Dogs are the ones who play outside on the grass, and this
year they're being heard on WZAN (970), which is also the Pirates'
flagship. Sea Dogs affiliates include WIDE (1400 Biddeford), WMDR
(1340 Augusta), WTME (1240 Lewiston), and WKTQ (1450 South Paris), as
well as WOXO (92.7 Norway) and WTBM (100.7 Mexico) when there's no Red
Sox game going on. Sox games are also heard on WJAE (1440
Westbrook-Portland), WJTO (730 Bath), and WQSS (102.5 Camden).
Seacoast listeners get their Sox on WTSN (1270 Dover NH) again this
Another correction: We put Jack Brady at the wrong smooth jazz station
last issue; in fact, he's at WPLM (99.1/1390 Plymouth MA), and he did
make it to work the morning of the big storm a few weeks ago.
- Call letter news: The WYSR calls that were in Albany (now WTRY-FM 98.3
Rotterdam) and Hartford (now WMRQ 104.1 Waterbury) have reappeared in
Fort Wayne, Indiana, on the 94.1 Roanoke IN facility that was WGL-FM.
- And it's a three-way tie for the honor of worst print-media coverage
of radio this week. We thought it was pretty embarrassing when
Broadcasting & Cable's April 9 issue showed up in the
"Sept. 9" on the front cover. We giggled a bit when WNVE (95.1, with
translator on 95.5) showed up in the Rochester Democrat &
as "WNRV (91.1/91.5)". But as always, we return to our old stomping
grounds in the Boston Globe's "Living/Arts" section, where today's
Susan Bickelhaupt radio column makes the amazing claim that WRPT (650
Ashland) and WJLT (1060 Natick) signed on THIS WEEK! Yes, those are
the same sign-ons you read about here in NERW on February 7. Any
comment at all would be superfluous here; the Globe's
- That's all for another week...see you next Thursday with a tour of
the fun-filled Jamestown and Olean NY radio markets.
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