With most of the big names in radio a continent away at the NAB Radio Show in Seattle, it's been a quiet week back here in the Northeast, with all of one format change to tell you about.
After a bit of confusion at the FCC, things settled down with the WCGR calls moving to 1310, 1550 picking up the WLKA calls that once graced a sister FM, and both simulcasting a (mostly-automated) 70s-heavy soft AC format.
Until this week, that is...when hitting the "1310" preset in the NERW-mobile produced not the usual Neil Diamond, but conservative Christian talk and USA news instead.
Here's what's happened: WCGR has LMA'd the 1310 facility to David Wolfe's WASB (1590) in Brockport, in Rochester's western suburbs. Under the new calls of WRSB, 1310 is simulcasting WASB 20 1/2 hours a day, with WCGR programming still being heard from 5 till 8:35 AM on weekdays (albeit without veteran upstate broadcaster Jack Mindy, who's left the station).
It makes for an interesting combination, since 1310 can be heard from Canandaigua up to the east side of Rochester, while 1590 can be heard from roughly one end of its own property to just short of the other end -- and that's on the days when the transmitter is actually working. Here at NERW Central, no more than 12 miles from WASB, the signal simply does not exist, except on very good days with a communications-grade receiver, a good antenna, and a high tolerance for co-channel stations in Auburn and Salamanca.
Programming is mainly from the Wisconsin-based VCY America network. Local IDs are done by Wolfe, a Brockport dentist, over a bad phone line. (The one we heard today claimed a reach from "the east side of Buffalo to the west side of Syracuse," which we suppose is possible with a Drake R8A and a good loop, but not otherwise).
As for 1550, it's reclaimed the WCGR calls and continues the AC format, but with a signal that's hard to hear outside northwest Ontario County. We're told Wolfe has an option to buy 1310 eventually; we'll keep an eye on this one.
Elsewhere in the Empire State, Oneonta's WZOZ (103.1) is getting a new owner. Wireless Works is getting $575,000 for the station from James Johnson's BanJo Communications, which recently bought WKXZ (93.9), WCHN (970), and WBKT (95.3) in nearby Norwich.
In the Capital District, WJKE (101.3 Stillwater) officially became WQAR "Star 101" Monday morning under new owner Ernie Anastos.
Downstate, the oldies format that once lived on the AM side of the dial at Port Jervis' WDLC (1490) has moved to sister FM station WTSX (96.7), as "The Fox." WTSX was satellite AC; WDLC now becomes satellite adult standards. We last heard WDLC in March, while returning home from New Jersey. It was a fun little oldies station then...we hope it continues on FM.
Out on Long Island, Cox sells WGBB (1240 Freeport) to Josephine Chain and "WGBB-AM, Inc." for $1.7 million (which seems to us like a possible record for a graveyarder). The leased-time programming on nights and weekends continues, but daytime is now Chinese-language. Cox still has FMs WBLI (106.1 Patchogue), WBAB (102.3 Babylon), and WHFM (95.3 Southampton).
In translator news, Family Life has been granted 91.9 in Penn Yan, relaying WCIY (88.9 Canandaigua) under the W220CJ calls.
The WUZZ calls that Forever Broadcasting parked on 1410 in Watertown last year have now found an FM home -- in Lima, Ohio, at the former WAJC (104.9). WUZZ-FM, like its AM cousin in Watertown, is an oldies station.
TV news: Albany is awash in UPN affiliates. We heard from the folks at WVBG-LP (Channel 25), who note that not only are they carrying UPN on that station and on WVBX-LP (47 Glens Falls) and WVBK-LP (49 Manchester VT), but UPN is also running as a secondary affiliation on Pax TV's WYPX (Channel 55) in Amsterdam. It also seems that W06BT in Greece is on the air; we heard its audio signal on the car radio in the NERW-mobile while up that way this week, with a lot of commercials followed by what sounded like a 1930s movie. We're loading the TV in the car soon for further exploration; it seems we were very close to the listed transmitter site at Long Pond and Ridgeway, but that 29-watt signal still wasn't coming in very well. Meantime, Rochester LP W47BM is still all-color bars, all the time. And WBXO-LP (Channel 15) might as well be off the air; the Box station is limping along with a signal so weak that it barely makes it to NERW Central, just a mile from the transmitter. (We find this eerily reminiscent of the last days of WAWW-LP on channel 38, which last year began declining in signal strength and eventually disappeared without a trace).
Way up in Presque Isle, Bangor Baptist Church gets a license to cover for translator W274AF, relaying WHCF (88.5 Bangor) on 102.7.
Radio Free Brattleboro's now promoting a 3 PM - 12 AM schedule on 88.1 MHz.
Two new PDs to tell you about in Hartford: At WDRC (1360) and sister AMs WSNG (610 Torrington), WWCO (1240 Waterbury) and WMMW (1470 Meriden), Walt Pinto's now running the show. This is his third 'DRC gig; he was "Kent Clark" on the station back in 1967, and did part-time work there in the 1970s. And Jon Robbins moves down I-91 from Springfield's WAQY to program WZMX (93.7).
On the TV side, Red Sox season is over but the bidding season for the 1999 TV rights has just started. So far, the only bid is a reported 10-year, $20 million deal from Fox for 75 games on Fox Sports New England and WFXT (Channel 25). Fox is also cornering baseball in the Big Apple -- in addition to locking up Yankees broadcasts for WNYW (Channel 5), Rupert Murdoch's Fox Sports New York now has Mets rights, and is expected to sell broadcast rights to 50 of the games to longtime Yanks broadcaster WPIX (Channel 11).
NERW's eagerly awaiting reports from our insomniac readers on whether these stations stick with Bell reruns, go with something else, or whether this whole thing turns out to be a publicity stunt after all -- and we wouldn't be one bit surprised. In the meantime, we think Upton ought to change his name to "Art," move to Pahrump, and carry on the Coast-to-Coast thing...
That's it for this week...see you next Friday.