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NorthEast Radio Watch 6/26: The Reaction to Dodge

*Broadcasters around the Northeast are reacting to last week's FCC
complaint against Brian Dodge with a mixture of surprise, anger, and

NERW spoke this week with Paul Lotters, the general manager of WHAZ
(1330) Troy NY, the station that's currently being used as the primary
for Dodge's "Love Radio" translators in Vermont, New Hampshire, and
Massachusetts.  The complaint filed by Carter Broadcasting claims
Dodge has illegally taken financial support from WHAZ for the
translators, as well as illegally taking control of those translators
in the first place.

While Lotters hasn't seen the actual complaint yet, he tells NERW he
had no idea there were any problems with the operation.

"I'm very perturbed.  I'm very concerned about the whole situation,
naturally," Lotters said.

Lotters says WHAZ's sole purpose is to bring religious programming to
its listeners in the Albany area, as well as in the adjacent areas
served by relays WMYY (97.3 Schoharie) and WBAR (94.7 Lake Luzerne),
and while he was happy to have Dodge's translators expanding that
audience, he doesn't want to do anything to get in the way of WHAZ's
main mission.

And he tells NERW that WHAZ won't continue its relationship with Dodge
if he finds Dodge has broken FCC rules.  "If there's anything we
shouldn't have done, the connection [with Dodge] will be
disconnected," Lotters told NERW in a telephone interview Wednesday

Brian Dodge has not returned NERW's phone calls; we'll bring you his
response as soon as he does.

*We'll begin the rest of this week's news in NEW YORK, where four of
Buffalo's biggest radio stations have a new owner.  Charlie Banta's
Mercury Broadcasting gets $62 million for oldies WHTT-AM/FM
(1120/104.1), modern rock WEDG (103.3), and classic rock WGRF (96.9),
and Banta stays on board under new owner Buffalo Broadcasting Partners
II.  The company also has broadcasting interests just down the Thruway
in Syracuse, where it's the owner of Pilot Communications, which
has rocker WAQX (95.7 Manlius), CHR WNTQ (93.1), AC WLTI (105.9), and
news WNSS (1260) in its stable.

We have an answer to last issue's questions about the dual-frequency
operation of WCGR in Canandaigua NY, thanks to Tom Taylor and our
friends at the M Street Journal.  It seems WCGR owner George Kimble
went back to the FCC after putting the new full-time 1310 kHz WCGR
signal on the air, to see if there was any way of keeping the old
daytime-only 1550 facility to fill in some holes to the east in the
1310 directional pattern.  The FCC obliged by "recharacterizing"
WCGR's application to change frequency, as an application for a new
station on 1310, thus allowing Kimble to keep both the "new station"
on 1310 and the original station on 1550.

Now the FCC just needs to update its database to reflect the new
reality; right now, the WLKA calls that have been given to 1550 show
up in the database for both 1550 and for 1310, which keeps the WCGR
calls.  (The FCC did make one long-overdue database correction this
week, removing the long-silent WCSQ 89.3 Central Square NY from its

There's late word that Rochester rocker WCMF (96.5/990) is being
fined $2000 for allegedly indecent material broadcast by morning host
Brother Wease back in August 1994.  No word yet on whether WCMF owner
American Radio Systems will fight the fine.

Viewers in the Syracuse area will soon get a new LPTV.  Station
owner Craig Fox is about to put W40BJ on the air from the WAQX tower
southeast of Syracuse, reportedly with Cornerstone religious
programming from WPCB Greensburg PA.  W40BJ replaces W07CA Cazenovia
NY.  Syracuse's WLTI (105.9) switched to a temporary antenna on a
James Street apartment tower on Saturday, while it waits for WOLF
(1490) to replace its main tower, on which the WLTI antenna was
mounted.  Once the new tower is up, it will hold the antenna for
another Fox LPTV, W13BU, as well.  We're told Liverpool pirate 
station "WLIV" (90.3) is running expanded hours now that school's out.

A few more notes on the fight for *90.1 Ithaca between public
broadcasters WEOS (89.7 Geneva) and WSKG (89.3 Binghamton): 

A public meeting called by WSKG for its Ithaca listeners a few weeks
ago apparently turned into a WSKG-bashing session.  The "Ithaca
Journal" reports WSKG listeners criticized the station for failing to
offer local content on its existing Ithaca outlet, WSQG (90.9), and
several even suggested WSKG withdraw its application for a second
Ithaca station to allow WEOS to come in.  

And according to an article in the public-broadcasting newsletter
"Current," among the money-making plans considered by WSKG was buying
Binghamton ABC affiliate WMGC (Channel 34) and turning it into an NBC
affiliate, operated as a commercial station under WSKG control.
Binghamton has lacked an NBC outlet since WICZ (Channel 40) switched to
Fox two years ago.

Some news bits from the Southern Tier: We've heard several reports now
that suggest SabreCom's WWLZ (820) Horseheads-Elmira is simulcasting
sister country station WPGI "Piggy" (100.9 Horseheads) at least part
of the day.  And in the Jamestown NY market, WKVE (97.5 St. Mary's PA)
has changed calls to WPKK, reflecting its nickname "the Peak."

The FCC has approved the sale of Utica's ABC affiliate, WUTR (Channel
20) from Media General (which acquired WUTR as part of Park
Communications last year) to Utica Television Partners.

Downstate, a NERW listener reports hearing Long Island country station
WLIE (102.5 Westport) having flipped to satellite rock as
"WBSQ," though we've seen no official call change yet.

Salvation Radio Corporation's application for 91.9 in Brooklyn has
been returned by the FCC.  Also in the Big Apple, Korean-language WZRC
(1480) is being sold by CBS.  CYBT License is paying $15 million for
the station.  CYBT is controlled by John Douglas of Douglas
Broadcasting fame; it's the same company that owns WNJR (1430) Newark NJ.

Newburgh's WGNY (1200) has officially applied to make the move to its
new expanded-band allocation at 1620 kHz.  If WGNY ever actually
vacates 1200, NERW wonders if that will help New York's WLIB (1190)
and Framingham MA's WKOX (1200) expand their signals still further...
And the country triopoly that competed with WLIE has finished its call
change.  WWZY replaces WZVU at 107.1 Long Branch NJ, joining its
frequency-mates WWXY Briarcliff Manor and WWVY Hampton Bays in Odyssey
Broadcasting's "Y107" triopoly.

*Next stop, CONNECTICUT, where Spanish-language WLAT (1230)
Manchester-Hartford has a new owner.  Latino Broadcasting will get
$550,000 from Mega Broadcasting, which already owns urban outlet WNEZ
(910) New Britain-Hartford.  WLAT will reportedly take on a Spanish
dance format, while WLAT vice president Diane Alverio (who tried to
buy the station) seeks other work.

Another gospel music pirate is being heard in Hartford, this time on
97.1.  There's no word on whether this one is related to "Praise
105.3," Hartford's original gospel pirate, which has reportedly
resurfaced after being silenced a few months ago when its equipment
was seized.

Some Connecticut LPTV news: The Hartford LPTV on channel 10 is now
IDing as WHTX-LP.  Meantime, W10BQ New Haven and W11BJ Hartford are
rebroadcasting WRDM-LP (Channel 13), which runs RAI and Telemundo

*An oddity in RHODE ISLAND, where NERW has long puzzled over WPRO
(630)'s legal IDs as "WPRO East Providence."  Until now, everything
official we've seen from the FCC gives WPRO's city of license as
Providence.  But the approval this week of the WPRO license transfer
from TeleMedia to Citadel shows the station as "East Providence"
(which *is* where its studio and transmitter are located).  We're also
wondering about the mentions in this month's National Radio Club
bulletin that WKFD (aka "WEGM") Wickford RI has gone completely dark,
and that Providence's WALE (990) has implemented its nighttime power
increase to 5 kW (and city of license change to Greenville?).

*A new translator could be on the air soon in western MASSACHUSETTS.
Pittsfield's WBEC-FM (105.5) has applied for 94.1 in Great Barrington,
just 20 miles south of Pittsfield but shadowed from "Live 105"'s
transmitter.  The hit radio station is also hampered by
second-adjacent WAMQ (105.1 Great Barrington) in southern Berkshire

Lou Imbriano is leaving all-sports WEEI (850), where he's been
director of marketing.  Imbriano will join the Patriots, the New 
England Revolution soccer team, and Foxboro Stadium in a similar 
capacity in July.

Will Dan Rather be changing timeslots in the Hub?  New WBZ-TV general
manager Ed Goldman tells the Boston Globe he's contemplating moving
the CBS Evening News from 7 pm to 6:30, when Boston's NBC and ABC
stations run their network newscasts.  Boston is one of the few
markets where there's still an hourlong newscast at 6, but the ratings
for WBZ-TV's newscast have been slumping (falling behing Manchester
NH's WMUR-TV at one point), and Rather has occasionally turned up in
fifth place at seven o'clock.  Hartford's WFSB-TV (Channel 3) is
another of the few markets where Rather airs at 7.

Kudos to the Globe's Jack Thomas and Daniel Golden, by the way, for an
excellent series on WGBH and its recent troubles.  The series is at
http://www.boston.com/globe/metro/packages/wgbh for anyone who's

There's a new name for Greater Media's Boston properties.  AC WMJX
(106.7), oldies WROR-FM Framingham (105.7), smooth jazz WOAZ Lowell
(99.5), country WKLB-FM (96.9; or as the Globe had it, "WLKB"), and
AAA WBOS Brookline (92.9) are now operating under the "Boston Radio
Group" moniker.  NERW seems to recall that as being the the same name
ARS and Pyramid were going to use for their abortive merger a few
years back.

Speaking of the big groups, this week's "Broadcasting and Cable" runs
down the top 25, offering a useful reminder of just how much the big
guns control in New England, especially Tom Hicks' two groups, Capstar
and Chancellor.  In addition to Chancellor's Boston trio of WXKS-AM/FM
and WJMN, Capstar has the former Knight stations in Worcester,
Manchester, Portsmouth, and Burlington, which suggests an interesting
regional strategy if they were ever to be regrouped with the Boston
stations.  Also among Hicks' 325 stations are the Capstar properties
in southwestern Connecticut: WSTC/WKHL Stamford, WNLK/WEFX Norwalk,
and WINE/WRKI Brookfield.

At number two is CBS, with its WBZ, WODS, WBCN, and WZLX in
Boston.  Number-three Clear Channel is represented in Providence
(WWBB/WWRX) and Springfield (WHYN AM-FM), along with majority
interests in Albany's WQBK AM/FM/WQBJ and WXCR.  Boston-based ARS is
fourth, with massive interests in Boston, Hartford, and the New
Hampshire seacoast.  Number five Jacor has no New England presence,
and neither do number six Disney/ABC or number eight Emmis (although
both once did, with WPRO AM-FM Providence and WCDJ Boston,
respectively).  SFX checks in at number seven, with its clusters of
stations in Hartford, New Haven, Springfield, Providence, and Albany.
Cox, at ninth place, has just WEZN in Bridgeport CT among its New
England interests.  Other top-25 groups with a New England presence
include Citadel (#12, with four Providence stations), Greater Media
(#13, with five Boston FMs), Saga (#21, with a strong New England
component in Springfield, Manchester, and Portland), and Douglas (#24,
with WBPS Dedham-Boston).

[The only top-25 groups with major upstate New York holdings are
Capstar, with stations in Westchester and Putnam counties; Clear
Channel's Albany stations; ARS' Rochester and Buffalo clusters;
Jacor's Rochester group; SFX in Albany; Cox in Syracuse; and #17
Sinclair's Buffalo cluster, where little 1kW WWWS (1400) is now drawing
more listeners than once-mighty 50 kW WWKB (1520), believe it or not.]

Could Westfield's WNNZ (640) be up for sale?  NERW can't think of much
else that fits the ad in this week's trades offering a "low dial, high
power" AM signal in a top-100 New England market...

*It's been a much quieter week up north; from MAINE there's just the news
that Bangor LPTVs W22BU, W42BZ, W50BX, and W66CL have been deleted
after remaining unbuilt, and a report that WSYY (1240) Millinocket has
gone dark.

*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, WZNN (930) Rochester has applied to use its 1700
kHz expanded-band allocation.  And WRJT (103.1 Royalton VT) has been
granted a Lebanon NH translator, W299AM at 107.7, to improve its
signal into the Upper Valley.  WRJT rebroadcasts the AAA programming
of WNCS (104.7) Montpelier VT.

*In VERMONT, there's one station sale to report.  Actually, WMNM
(92.1) is in Port Henry NY, but it primarily serves the much larger
Burlington-Middlebury VT area across Lake Champlain.  A deal last year
to sell the oldies station to Pathfinder fell through, and now WMNM 
goes to Excalibur Media for $608,000.  Excalibur owns talk WSYB (1380)
and hot AC WZRT (97.1) in nearby Rutland; could the company take WMNM 
out of the oldies war with Hall's WKOL (105.1 Plattsburgh-Burlington) 
and use it to simulcast WZRT into Burlington?

The FCC has approved WVMX (101.7 Stowe)'s call change to WCVT; look
for the new classical format there very soon.

And we've heard Springfield's WCFR AM-FM (1480/93.5) could be for
sale.  We'll keep you posted.

*We'll close out this week's edition with a gem from the Boston Radio
Archives mailbag, apparently from a would-be viewer of WSBK-TV Boston
who stumbled across the station's page on the Archives:

"Dear Sir or Madam:
I like to watch programming on UPN and I would like to see your station
become part of the Total Choice package on DirecTv.
Sincerely Matt Anderson"

Sorry Matt, but as much as we'd love to be on DirecTv, somehow we
don't think America's home satellite viewers really need a whole
channel of Boston radio trivia...

Here's another prize from deep in the e-mail vats...

"Play a sound on for me at 95.7 Wzid for my boyfriend clayton in concord from
Jo ann. Play I finally found some one by Barbra striesand and Bryan Adams

                                                        Thank you
                                                         Jo ann"

OK, Jo Ann, put your ear up real close to the screen and listen...

*And with that we'll end this NERW.  We'll see you here again next

- -=Scott Fybush - fybush@world.std.com=-