This is the second time in two weeks that a New Hampshire Seacoast station's been bought by an out-of-town broadcaster; WSTG (102.1) Hampton, now under Fuller-Jeffrey control, ended its computerized countdown Tuesday afternoon and launched a simulcast with F-J's classic rock WXBB "Arrow" (105.3 Kittery ME).
There is no word yet on any possible format changes at American Radio Systems' new seacoast properties; it will be interesting to see whether the AMs begin picking up sports or talk from ARS's WEEI and WRKO Boston, and whether the near-CHR of ARS' WBMX (98.5) Boston shows up as a simulcast up the coast. It will also be interesting to see whether ARS can exploit WERZ's dial proximity to another new ARS station, WAAF (107.3 Worcester). WAAF's signal into Boston is notoriously bad, although it got a boost this week when ARS took over operation of WNFT (1150 Boston) from Greater Media and flipped it from a simulcast of country WKLB-FM 96.9 to WAAF's hard rock. WERZ had been one of the factors limiting a possible eastward move of WAAF (the others are 107.1 WFHN Fairhaven and third-adjacents WMJX 106.7 Boston and WXKS-FM 107.9 Medford). Could ARS slide WAAF to the northeast by turning WERZ off? Could Boston be treated to the sounds of "WAAF Methuen"? Only time will tell...and NERW will be here to let you know.
What's interesting is to see how the Seacoast is becoming something of an adjunct to the adjoining markets. Of the three biggest owners, ARS has a huge concentration of stations (3 AMs and 4 FMs) in the Boston market, while Fuller-Jeffrey is dominant in Portland with an AM and five FMs, and Capstar inherited Knight Quality's nearby AM-FM combo in Manchester. It's a whole new world up there.
Doug also spotted a petition against the proposed new tower for the yet-to-be-built WLPL (96.3 Walpole NH). The petition stressed the alleged "environmental impact" of the tower, and Doug reports it was drawing hundreds of signatures. Gary Savoie, who holds the WLPL CP, has been engaged in a very long-running fight to get the station built.
And Vermont Public Radio has won a round in the fight against satellite-delivered religious translators. The FCC has dismissed Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls' application to put a KAWZ translator on 89.5 in Burlington VT. VPR filed an informal objection last summer, no doubt on the grounds of interference to WVPR (89.5 Windsor). KAWZ has filed a major amendment to seek a different frequency; no word yet what they're after.
Just over the border, by the way, there will soon be some new TV signals coming out of Quebec. Quebec City's CKMI (Channel 5) is switching from CBC to Global, and will put relay stations on the air in several Quebec cities this September. The CKMI relay in Montreal will be on Channel 67, and may just make it into northern Vermont. Montreal's CBMT (Channel 6) is expected to get a relay in Quebec City to maintain CBC English TV service there. Also expected on the air soon will be Ottawa relays for Hamilton's CHCH-TV ("ONtv," Channel 11) and Toronto's CITY-TV (Channel 57). The CHCH relay will also be on channel 11, while Ottawa viewers will get Citytv on 60.
Boston's WBZ (1030) has made some changes in its nighttime news lineup. Gone are the one-minute ABC newscasts from 7 until 11 PM; instead, national and local news is now being read by WBZ anchors. ABC news is still being heard on the hour from midnight until 4 AM, followed by a taped local newscast.
Ron Della Chiesa's "MusicAmerica" has added a second Boston-area station to its network. The show can now be heard on Gloucester's WBOQ (104.9) as well as on Plymouth's WPLM (1390/99.1) each Saturday night.
Wondering what's up with Radio Free Allston? Station founder Steve Provizer checked in this week to let us know he's still running several nights a week from Herrell's Ice Cream in the heart of Allston. He's looking for a transmitter location that will allow him to be on longer hours on 106.1. We also found a web site for another pirate, Worcester's "WDOA" (89.3). Check out http://members.aol.com/wdoafm for all the gory details. By the way, we found the site through BRS Radio Consultants' site, which seems to be the most comprehensive listing of everything (broadcast, pirate, cable, or carrier current) on the web right now.
Another interesting web site is WJLT's (1060 Natick), which makes the very interesting claim that it's the "only radio station to reach Worcester, Providence, and Boston with one powerful signal." Leaving aside the question of whether a kilowatt is "powerful," NERW wonders how stations such as Boston's WBZ, Worcester's WSRS and WAAF, and Providence's WPRO-FM fail to meet the same criterion...
The Massachusetts Reading Service is helping several Bay State noncomms stay on the air all summer long. Stonehill College's WSHL (91.3 South Easton MA) is normally off the air in the summer, but now it's back on with MRS programming. Other stations running the reading service include UMass Lowell's WJUL (91.5 Lowell), Framingham State College's WDJM (91.3 Framingham), and WVBF (1530) Middleborough Center.
Lowell Paxson's WHRC (Channel 46) Norwell has switched to home shopping from religion. And speaking of home shopping, the Global Shopping Network, which is buying WNDS (Channel 50) Derry NH, is reportedly in serious financial trouble. GSN pulled out of a deal to buy a station near Atlanta, and is also having trouble closing on the purchase of KNWS (Channel 51) in the Houston market.
Up in the North Country, correspondent Gavin Burt heard WYUL (94.7 Chateaugay) testing with a blend of country, AC, oldies, and classic rock, saying it would do one of those four formats. And if there's any doubt about what areas WYUL is targeting, the ID mentioned "Chateaugay-Montreal-Burlington." Gavin also heard Malone's WVNV (96.5) with satellite country instead of live, and WICY with satellite standards instead of talk. All three stations are owned by Tim Martz, who's been busy buying more Canadian-border properties way up in northern Michigan.
In Syracuse, Bill Baker has left news-talk WSYR (570) after a decade with the station. WSYR will soon have more company at its Plum Street studios; sister stations WHEN (620, sports) and WWHT (107.9, CHR) are planning to leave their longtime studios at the 620 transmitter in Liverpool to head downtown.
The fight for 90.7 is heating up in the Buffalo area. The Mary V. Harris Foundation has weighed in with an application for the frequency in Williamsville NY.
In Watertown, WCIZ (1410) has changed calls to WUZZ. No word on a format change at the station, which was apparently holding the WCIZ calls while they moved on FM from 97.5 (now country WFGY) to 93.5 (formerly CHR WTNY-FM). 1410 was formerly WNCQ, and before that WOTT. Station owner Forever of NY likes using its AMs to hold calls; the WFGY calls were warehoused at AM 1450 in Rome (formerly and again WODZ) before going to Watertown.
When Lowell Paxson gets WAQF (Channel 51) Batavia-Buffalo on the air later this year, it will come with two LPTV relays. W69CS in Buffalo and W63BM in Rochester will relay the infomercials from WAQF to the big-city audiences that may have trouble getting Channel 51 off-air.
Also in Rochester, the WXXI Public Broadcasting Council has petitioned the FCC to reconsider its application for a new station on 90.9 in Spencerport, just west of Rochester. The initial application was dismissed last month.
The really amazing thing about Canadian radio, at least to NERW's American ears, is what regulation has done to the small-market broadcasters. Tuning in on a weekend afternoon, we heard live, local programming coming from places like Simcoe, Welland, and St. Catharines -- complete with local news. We almost managed to forget what satellite automation sounded like...
The massive directional arrays in the area held our interest while driving; it was hard to miss stations like CFTR 680 (8 towers), CHOG 640 (8 towers), and CJCL 590 (9 towers!) lining the sides of the QEW highway on the south shore of Lake Ontario.
Many other AMs have vanished, replaced by low power FM; in the suburbs around Toronto we heard little FMs like CKDX 88.5 Newmarket (dance "Power 88.5," ex-CKAN 1480) and CJKX 95.9 Ajax (country "KX 96," ex-CHOO 1390). In the US, changes like those would have turned the suburban stations into big-city rimshotters; in Canada, the CRTC seems to be trying hard to make sure the stations stay focused on their cities of license.
We stopped by the 40th birthday party of CHUM (1050 Toronto), and had a great time dancing to the live music outside the Yonge Street studios. CHUM sounds great in AM stereo, too.
We also had a chance to walk through the lobby of the new CBC Broadcast Centre, right across the street from the CN Tower. It's quite the facility, complete with ground-level studios for CBL (740) visible through several large windows. By the way, a drive down Toronto's King Street West proved to these ears that the CBC really could use a better flagship signal in Toronto. The CBL signal was drowned out by the loud whines from the streetcar power lines, at times to the point of inaudibility. We actually had an easier time hearing CHWO (1250) from way out in suburban Oakville! The CBC is still fighting for the vacant 99.1 spot in Toronto.
Returning to the US, we spent a few minutes enjoying the oldies on Niagara Falls' WJJL (1440), as well as listening to Buffalo's modern AC "Alice," now with its new WLCE calls.
And another bit of credit to Rolling Stone magazine, which this week ran a correction of the item we spotted a few weeks back, claiming Rhode Island's WDGE flipped to dance. RS now notes correctly that it's sister station WDGF (100.3) that made the flip.
And that's another week in Northeast radio; we'll see you next Thursday!