We'll start with the biggest sale: Entercom's $821.5 million deal to buy Sinclair's radio division (with the exception of the St. Louis stations going to Emmis in a previously-announced purchase). Entercom ends up with 43 stations, including the Sinclair cluster in Buffalo -- talk WGR (550), news-talk WBEN (930), R&B oldies WWWS (1400), sports WWKB (1520), CHR WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls), and AC WMJQ (102.5). The Buffalo stations make a nice complement to the Rochester stations Sinclair bought from Heritage back in 1997 and immediately spun to Entercom -- standards WEZO (950), country WBEE-FM (92.5), classic rock WQRV (93.3 Avon), and oldies WBBF (98.9). They will also be among the stations buying a total of $5 million a year in advertising on Sinclair's TV stations, including WUTV (Channel 29) and eventually WNEQ (Channel 23) in Buffalo, which now lose their radio sister stations but gain a more solid financial footing.
NERW will be watching most closely to see what happens to the news departments at WGR and WBEN, which have maintained two separate newsrooms despite being under common ownership (and by a company with a reputation for cost-cutting, at that). We're hoping Buffalo will continue to enjoy that rare luxury, but we suspect the worst, somehow. There are, of course, no other commercial radio newsrooms to speak of in the Queen City, with WBFO (88.7) holding the fort on the noncomm side more than adequately.
Sticking with Sinclair on the other side of NEW YORK state, the company has applied for new calls for Schenectady's Channel 45. WMHQ will become WEWB when it reverts to commercial operation as a WB affiliate sometime later this year.
While Albany viewers wait for the call change on TV, they can tune in something new on the radio. WRIP (97.9 Windham) began testing from its transmitter atop Ski Windham this week, and Dennis Jackson is inviting NERW readers to the official sign-on celebration on Thursday, August 5 at the station's studios, 134 South Street in Windham. WRIP's morning man will be Guy Garraghan, who handled wake-up duties for years at WCKL (560) in Catskill. You can find more about the station at its new Web page.
Clear Channel has named Dennis Lamme market manager for all its Albany stations, with the departure of Michael Whalen, who had held those duties for WGY (810) and WHRL (103.1). We hear the studios for Clear Channel's WQBK-WQBJ, WTMM, and WXCR will stay at 4 Central Ave. in Albany even after the back offices move to the WGY/WHRL/WRVE facility on Washington Street.
Clear Channel is also making the usual monthly tweaks at its Rochester operation, this time changing the calls of its "Jammin' Oldies" outlet on 107.3. The former WMAX-FM becomes WLCL as "Cool 107," with the "Jammin' Oldies" name retired (perhaps AMFM complained?) and voicetracked jocks being imported from somewhere. But Clear Channel's hanging on to the WMAX-FM calls, warehousing them this time on the 102.3 in Canandaigua, formerly WISY and still sleepy AC "Sunny 102."
We observe also that the FCC has approved the proposed move of WNVE (95.1) from South Bristol to Honeoye Falls, with a move of transmitter site from Bristol Mountain to Baker Hill, 20 miles closer to downtown. The move also means 107.3 has to change cities of license from Honeoye Falls to South Bristol (which it's been using as a legal ID for months anyway), with a transmitter move that would take it out of the market entirely. Wonder how Clear Channel plans to wriggle out of that...
Up north, it's a new format for Ogdensburg's WSLB (1400), which dropped its simulcast with oldies WGIX (95.3 Gouverneur) this week to go talk. After John Astolfi's morning show, the last vestige of the simulcast, "Talk 1400" runs Mike Gallagher, Rush, Dr. Laura (on tape delay), Dr. Dean Edell, Bruce Williams, and Jim Bohannon. Weekends will be all-sports, we hear.
A few western NY tidbits: new country station WZKZ (101.9 Alfred) has applied to drop power from 1300 to 1000 watts and raise its antenna from 213 to 244 meters AAT, while something called Harvest Time Broadcasting has applied for a new religious station on 90.1 in Lockport.
Alex McEwing's Family Broadcasting is selling WGLY (103.3 Waterbury) to Jane Cole's Radio Broadcast Services for a reported $700,000. While we've yet to hear anything about changes in programming or staff, we do note that WGLY has filed to change its calls to WDOT, with the existing WDOT (McEwing's AM 1070 in Plattsburgh NY) becoming WGLY. More on this in the weeks to follow.
The FCC has granted WCMK (91.7 Bolton) a translator in Ascutney. W212BG will be the calls of the new station on 90.3.
J.J. Jeffrey's Atlantic Coast Broadcasting is picking up a fourth Maine station, WXGL (95.5 Topsham). The station will make a nice complement to WRED (95.9 Saco) on the other side of Portland, as well as to WJAE (1440 Westbrook) and WJJB (900 Brunswick), the two stations Jeffrey is keeping as he and Doc Fuller sell their company to Citadel.
Over at Colby College in Waterville, the students who ran WMHB (90.5) appear to have given up on any hope of keeping the frequency they occupied for almost two decades, but not on the hope of returning to the air somewhere else. You'll recall that some confusion over paperwork relating to WMHB's early-80s move from 91.5 left the station without a valid license -- and gave Maine Public Radio the opening to apply for 90.5 down the coast in Camden. WMHB general manager Lee L'Heureux tells the Central Maine Morning Sentinel he hopes to get special temporary authority from the FCC to run low power on 90.5 while the whole mess is sorted out. Meanwhile, the public radio folks are sticking to their guns, refusing to drop the 90.5 Camden application even though it was WMHB's willingness to make that ill-fated move to 90.5 that allowed MPR to put its own Waterville station, WMEW 91.3, on the air back in 1982.
NERW notes that the FCC database shows a valid license for WMHB as a 10-watter on 91.5 -- seems to us that the Colby kids ought to turn that facility back on for a bit, if only to give WMEW some grief in return... (yes, we know, as a class A station WMEW has priority over the 10-watt WMHB, but still!)
Light of Life Ministries has applied for a new station on 88.9 in Oakland.
And we note the passing of Wayne Bearor on July 17 at the age of 56. Bearor was the program director at WGHM (now WSKW) Skowhegan in the sixties, then an announcer at WPOR and WGAN in Portland before going behind the scenes in the business office of Guy Gannett Broadcasting until his retirement earlier this year.
Mega Broadcasting has new calls for Boston's AM 1150, as WNFT becomes WAMG. There's also a new general manager, with the departing Jerry Villacres being replaced by Maria Elena Verdugo from Mega/Hartford, and a new program director, Jorge Mier (formerly of WONQ in Orlando).
We hear Judi Papparelli is leaving WROR's "Loren and Wally" show to pursue her own talk show...and we wish her all the best.
No sign yet of the rumored talk format at WBOS (92.9 Brookline) -- but the station did apply this week to move its transmitter from the "FM128" site in Newton to the top of the Prudential Tower downtown. With the move, that would leave only WBUR, WJMN, WBMX, and WCRB paying rent to Steve Dodge for their main antennas (although WBOS and the others in the Greater Media group all have auxiliary licenses or applications on the FM128 stick).
Speaking of towers, Edmund Dinis is again asking the FCC for more time to build the sticks for WLAW (1270), his yet-unbuilt station in North Dartmouth. Dinis was granted a permit back in February for a final six-month extension to begin erecting the towers on Copicut Hill, but he says competing Portuguese-language broadcasters James and Robert Karam are holding up the project with constant appeals to Fall River city officials.
Business talker WBNW (1120 Concord) is now Webcasting 24 hours a day on their site.
Two more obituaries to report: John Crohan of Canton died July 25 at Norwood Hospital. Crohan served as general manager of the old WCOP in Boston and later as owner of WPEP in Taunton and WJCC (now WDIS) in Norfolk before founding the Talk America Radio Network. Crohan was suffering from brain cancer. He was 69 years old.
And Greater Media chairman Peter Bordes died July 19 at his home in New Jersey. Bordes built Greater from a single radio station in Southbridge into a media group that at various times included cable, print, and radio across the Northeast and Midwest. Bordes was 71.
The Pomfret School's application for 91.1 in Pomfret has been restored to "pending" status.
We're told LPTVs WMLD-LP (Channel 6) and WHTX-LP (Channel 10) in Hartford are both off the air.
Congratulations to the folks at WKCI (101.3 Hamden), who celebrated their 20th anniversary on the air last weekend with a reunion of the original airstaff. Among those returning to the KC101 airwaves were Pete Salant (now at WYNY in suburban NYC), Jerry Kristafer (still in the building at WELI), Dr. Chris Evans, Peter Bush, and Curt Hansen (all across town at WEBE), Susan Saks (in Hartford at WZMX), Dana Lundon (at Detroit's WKQI), Floyd Wright (at WWYZ), Willie B. (now with Star Systems), and Ross Cooper and Jim McNeal, still with WKCI after all these years.
Radio listeners in Moncton NB will have a new station to check out next month during a world conference of French-speakers. "Radio Jeunesse '99" will operate on 91.7 MHz from August 21 until September 7, probably with some obscure VF---- call that will never get announced on-air.
And last, but far from least, the CRTC has set August 19 as the deadline for letters of intent to apply for 740, 93.5, and "any other frequency that may be suitable to serve this area." (hint: there is none!) Expect all the usual suspects (Rogers, Shaw, Standard, CHUM, etc.) to go after CBL's old home on the AM dial; it's anyone's guess who'll apply for the lower-power FM allocation. We'll keep you posted as the applications arrive in time for the final September 20 deadline. (And speaking of those CBC FM moves, we saw an article in the Montreal Gazette this week about the engineering teams the CBC has been forced to send out to listeners' homes to help them pick up the inadequate FM replacements for CBF 690 and CBM 940. We wish they'd come pay us a call here in Rochester!)
Finally this month, we take our first look at the Spring '99 Arbitron RATINGS, moving market-by-market and starting with the big ones:
We'll have more ratings, and much more news, next Friday...see you then!