NERW was there as the button was pressed silencing the 50-kilowatt transmitter for good. What we saw and heard will appear later this weekend in a special "NERW Extra" -- but first, the rest of this week's news:
The losing applicants included Radio Nord, which wanted to start new French and English country stations on the two frequencies (or, failing that, English-only on one of the two) and, embarrassingly enough, the CBC itself, which hoped to use either 690 or 940 as the backbone of a new French-language all-news service province-wide.
As many questions as this decision answers, it leaves many more still open. Once CKVL and CIQC have made their moves, will anyone apply for their frequencies? We could easily imagine a station like CJMS (the new French-language country station on 1040 in nearby St. Constant) applying for higher power on a much better frequency. Will Radio Nord or the CBC reapply for 600 or 850? Will the new 690 and 940 use the old CBM/CBF transmitter site at Brossard, which has been sitting silent (but maintained) since CBM's sign-off a few weeks back? And without CKVL on 850, how many more listeners in areas west and north of Boston will have an easier time hearing WEEI, which frequently experiences interference from CKVL?
One more AM-to-FM switch to note in Canada: CKTY (1110) in Sarnia, Ontario, a station frequently accused of operating with daytime facilities at night, will bother its co-channel stations in Charlotte, Salem, and East Providence no more. The station moved to FM earlier this month, dropping country for rock in the process. At its new home on 106.3, it's called "K-106.3," with CHKS-FM the official calls. NERW hopes the 1110 towers, at least, are still standing when we head that way in a month's time.
Rumors of a format change to rhythmic oldies came true Wednesday (6/23) at noon, when Infinity's WLCE (92.9) became "B-92.9, Buffalo's Dancin' Oldies." If the moniker sounds familiar, it should -- "Dancin' Oldies" is the same name Infinity's using at WZMX (93.7 Hartford) to steer clear of AMFM's "Jammin' Oldies" trademark. Alice PD Jay Nachlis stays on, at least on an interim basis. No word yet on what the new station will do for airstaff; Alice had been using the Craig & Co. morning show from sister station WTIC-FM (96.5 Hartford) and local jocks, live and voice-tracked, in other dayparts.
The folks at B-92.9 say they're targeting the younger end of WHTT (104.1)'s listenership, since Oldies 104 is still heavy on the '50s and early '60s oldies that 92.9 won't touch. But NERW has to think that B-92.9 will also draw away some of the urban audience that now listens to Infinity sister station WBLK (93.7 Depew), which tries to be all things to all urban audiences with a mix of R&B classics all the way to hip-hop. We'd also be worried if we were daytimer WUFO (1080 Amherst), whose urban format is heavy on R&B oldies.
The obvious winners here are cross-border CKEY (101.1 Fort Erie), which already targets Buffalo as "The Planet," as well as rimshotter WXOX (101.7 Attica), which claims "Amherst and Greater Buffalo" in its top-hour IDs as modern-AC "The Spot."
Two changes-to-be in Rochester this week: Public broadcaster WXXI-TV (Channel 21) has been granted a CP for WXXI-DT (Channel 16). We're looking out the window at the Pinnacle Hill transmitter site as we write this and no construction has started yet. Out in Brockport, WASB-FM (105.5) has applied for new calls WRPO under its new Canandaigua-based ownership, but so far the station is still operating as WASB-FM with a mono simulcast of WASB (1590)'s religious format.
Religious WPEL-FM (96.5 Montrose PA) has been granted an Elmira translator on 91.7, W219CE, over the objections of Corning Community College, which operates WCEB Corning on first-adjacent 91.9.
There's a new station in Syracuse: WRVD (90.3) signed on this week after years and years of thwarted attempts by Oswego-based public broadcaster WRVO (89.9) to put a Salt City transmitter on the air. While WRVD will fix the intermod problems between WAER (88.3) and WJPZ (89.1) that make WRVO inaudible near Syracuse University, it won't help matters any for Syracuse Community Radio, despite a power increase this week for their WXXE (90.5 Fenner) from 7 to 49 watts.
We hear WHCD (106.9 Auburn) is being sold by Butch Charles' Salt City Broadcasting to Marathon Media; could a format change back to country from smooth jazz be in the works?
The Dame Media stations in Utica (WRNY-WADR-WUTQ/WRFM/WOUR/WSKS) and Albany (WGY/WRVE/WHRL) will officially pass to Clear Channel ownership at 1 AM July 1, and with the ownership change will come some management changes. Dennis Lamme, the market manager at Clear Channel's existing Albany cluster of WQBK-WQBJ, WTMM, and WXCR, will add WRVE to his duties. Michael Whalen will drop WRVE and the Utica cluster from his responsibilities, while keeping WGY and WHRL under his belt. Expect the Albany Clear Channel stations to move in to the existing Dame Facility off Washington Street later this year.
And up in the Saratoga market, WQAR (101.3) PD Jay Scott is reportedly out, with news director John Meaney taking over the PD post.
We hear about a new pirate in Worcester. "WLXW" on 1680 is even listed in this year's phone book, so we suppose the FCC just might pay a visit to 25 Pemberton Street one day soon...
Congratulations to Dave Faneuf, the former WODS (103.3 Boston) news guy who's landed on his feet up in Lowell at WCAP (980) as news director. We hear he's breathing new life into a news department hit hard by staffing and budget cuts in recent years.
There's a new application for 91.3 in Orleans; more details on this one next week.
And we're told WBPX (Channel 46) in Norwell has dropped Pax programming for the sister Infomall network, now that Pax is being seen on WABU (Channel 68) in Boston.
Down the hall at Saga/Portland (well, as soon as the new studios are finished, anyway), WPOR (101.9) morning co-host Loretta Crawford departs for a communications job with the YWCA of Greater Portland.
WLOB-LP (Channel 45) has applied to move to channel 15.
Do the lights still burn in the Elegante Ballroom? For a few days more, apparently. The end of WCDQ (92.1 Sanford) has been held up by paperwork -- but the debut of WPHX is expected any day now.
And that's it for the first half of this week's NERW. Later this weekend, you'll receive two special issues. The first will chronicle the end of Toronto's CBL, and the second will revisit the NERW Canadian Maritimes, Northern Maine, and Quebec Radio Expedition of a year ago.