[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

NorthEast Radio Watch 7/10: On and Off The Air

*LATE BREAKING NEWS: There's word that CBS has finally acquired its
long-awaited second AM signal in Boston, and it's not 1150 or 1200.
We're hearing that Salem's WPZE (1260) is about to join WBZ (1030) in
the CBS Boston family...more as we learn it.

*We'll start this week in VERMONT, where the modern rock wars between
WBTZ (99.9 Plattsburgh, "The Buzz," LMA'd to WIZN) and WXPS (96.7
Vergennes, "The Pulse," co-owned with WCPV) have come to an end, with
the Buzz as the apparent winner.  WXPS is reportedly off the air for
now, and will return shortly with a sports-talk format.  The Pulse was
plagued for most of its yearlong life with a poor signal in
Burlington, a problem rectified only recently by a 97.3 translator in
the Queen City.

Also dark for now is WCVT (101.7 Stowe), but it should be on the air
again any second now under the new ownership of Radio Vermont, running
a classical music format.

Moving south, Brattleboro correspondent Doug Bassett checks in to
report yet another new morning host on WKVT-FM (92.7), as that station
settles down under its new owners at Keene's WKNE.

*Crossing the river to NEW HAMPSHIRE, Nashua's WMVU (900) was silenced
briefly by a lightning strike, but is now back on the air with all 910
watts.  NERW is still trying to confirm published reports that the
talk station is on the verge of being sold.  Over by the Hampton tolls
on I-95, a new Travelers Information Station has taken to the airwaves
on 1610 kHz.

*Up there in MAINE, Dan Billings wrote to us from his trip Down East,
with word that WMCS (1400) Machias remains off the air, while
erstwhile sister station WALZ-FM (95.3) is in a triple simulcast with
Calais' WQDY (1230/92.7) as "International Radio."  Not part of the
simulcast is Houlton's WHOU (100.1); it was doing its own thing when
Dan tuned in.  WHRR (102.9) Dennysville-Calais is on the air, running
classic rock as "CD 102.9," reaching a few thousand people, a lot of
water, and many cows within reach of its 100 kW signal.

Still further up there, we received email this week letting us know
that WEGP (1390) in Presque Isle is on the air, programming a talk
format, and running Rush Limbaugh and Bob Grant among others.

And going all the way north to the Greater Madawaska area, CJEM (570)
in nearby Edmundston, New Brunswick has applied to the CRTC to move to
FM, operating on 92.7 with just over 40 kW.

Back towards civilization, work continues to put WWLA (Channel 35)
on the air as Portland's UPN affiliate by August 1.  Once WWLA debuts,
many Portland-area cable systems will drop Boston's WSBK-TV (Channel
38) from their lineups, ending a two-decade-plus run as a Maine
superstation for WSBK.

And Bangor's WABI (910) and WWBX (97.1) have new owners.  Gopher Hill
Broadcasting is buying the stations from the Bangor Radio Corp. for a
reported $700,000.

*We begin our MASSACHUSETTS report this week with a case study in how
not to do PR, with two examples helpfully provided by Boston's WGBH
and WRKO.

The recent Boston Globe series about WGBH has apparently prompted a
flood of responses from 125 Western Avenue.  NERW has received at
least one angry missive from a 'GBH employee, criticizing the Globe
for a sloppy, biased series.  We must be in good company; Globe
columnist David Nyhan devoted yesterday's column to a response to all
the PR spin that's been coming from WGBH since the articles appeared.
NERW agrees wholeheartedly with Nyhan's point of view -- there's no
question that the amount of local news seen and heard on the WGBH
stations has plummeted since the 1980s.  And to that point, WGBH has
had no good answer.

Then there's WRKO (680), which seems to be turning its July 4th music
programming into an annual event.  WRKO talk hosts got the day off,
and for the second year running, 'RKO played the hits of the 60s and
70s with a few pre-recorded liners from the talk hosts thrown in.
Several readers of our sister mailing list, boston-radio-interest,
thought WRKO could have done a better job rounding up old jingles,
bringing back old jocks, and making the production smoother.  One even
went so far as to send WRKO e-mail about it -- and here's their reply,
reproduced in its entirety:

"Maybe you should get a life"

NERW's waiting to see whether WRKO does anything later this year to
mark its 75th anniversary, as the oldest radio station that started in
Boston...but we guess we won't write to WRKO directly about it!

Also in the American Radio Systems family, Barry Scott and his "Lost
45s" show has moved again.  The lost hits of the 70s and 80s are
moving from WBMX (98.5) down the hall to WEGQ (93.7).  The show was
previously heard on WZLX, WBOS, and WERS.

And the Boston Globe reports WEEI (850) has been operating at a
reduced power of 10 kW while its towers are being painted.

Just up the dial, the marketing folks at WBZ-TV (Channel 4), have
apparently reconsidered their decision last year to ditch the on-air
use of the "WBZ-TV" calls and become "News 4 New England."  Under new
boss Ed Goldman, the WBZ-TV calls are once again being seen on Channel
4.  Goldman was, of course, the general manager of WBZ radio for
several years...

People on the move: Willie Chriesman is leaving his post as assistant
news director at WCVB-TV (Channel 5) to become news director at NBC
O&O WVTM (Channel 13) in Birmingham.  Tom Bergeron, veteran of WBZ
AM-TV, WMJX, WHAV, and New Hampshire Public TV, has departed "Fox
After Breakfast," the morning show that grew out of his "Breakfast
Time" show on the fX cable network.  Rumor has it he may find his next
morning job at ABC.  And Steve Tuzeneu, operations manager of
religious WVNE (760) Leicester, has been promoted to station manager.

Heading west, WNMH (91.5) at Northfield Mount Hermon School has been
heard running the "Radio One" CHR satellite service, apparently
without benefit of legal ID.  Radio One replaces the radio reading
service WNMH was running during the summer months.  And a happy
birthday to WNNZ (640) Westfield, which celebrated its tenth
anniversary on that frequency this week.  WNNZ grew from little
daytimer WLDM (and before that, WDEW) on 1570, and is now running a
full 50 kW during the day from brand-new studios in downtown

And a programming quirk: Oldies jock Little Walter has returned to the
Boston airwaves, buying weekend time from WBPS (890 Dedham-Boston) for
his show.  Walter was last heard on WODS (103.3) a few years back.

*One little bit of news from RHODE ISLAND: news director Dan Salamone
is departing NBC's WJAR-TV (Channel 10) to head for WXYZ-TV (Channel
7) in Detroit.

*Mostly quiet on the CONNECTICUT front, except around 97 MHz.  WILI-FM
(98.3 Willimantic) has turned on its new translator on 97.5 in
Bolton.  W248AB is reaching out as far as Greenfield MA, based on
early field reports.  And over at 97.1, the gospel pirate in Hartford
is reportedly operating at night only, with a signal strong enough to
stop the scan on car radios downtown.

The last local show on Waterbury's WWCO (1240) is gone.  Sarino Costa
has moved his Italian-language show to WATR (1320), which is calling
itself "Waterbury's only local radio station" now that WWCO is a
simulcast of Hartford's WDRC (1360).

*Moving along to NEW YORK, the big news this week is all in the
Capital District, and most of it comes from Clear Channel's Albany
properties.  On the AM side, WQBK (1300 Rensselaer) will switch from
talk to sports on Monday.  Morning host Scott Lounsberry and midday
host John Howe are out of work; PM drive host Howie Green stays with
the new "All Sports 1300" as operations manager.  Most of the WQBK
programming will come from One-on-One Sports.  On the FM side, classic
rocker WXCR (102.3 Ballston Spa) madea big grab this week, stealing
veteran morning team Mason and Sheehan from SFX's WPYX (106.5).

The Sound of Life religious radio network just keeps adding signals in
the Hudson Valley and surrounding areas.  The latest to be approved
are 89.7 in Saratoga Springs and 88.1 in Liberty.

Albany Broadcasting owner John Kelly is beefing up his Hudson Valley
station group with the $14 million purchase of hit radio WSPK (104.7)
Poughkeepsie and talk WBNR (1260) Beacon from Enterprise Media
Partners.  Kelly's Pamal Broadcasting already owns WHUD-FM and WLNA in
nearby Peekskill, along with several Albany stations.

Speaking of new owners, Sinclair Broadcasting is picking up Heritage
Media's broadcast properties, including WPTZ (Channel 5) Plattsburgh
NY/Burlington VT and four Rochester radio stations: country WBEE-FM
(92.5), oldies WKLX (98.9), classic rock WQRV (93.3 Avon), and
standards WBBF (950).  The Rochester stations nicely complement
Sinclair's massive Buffalo group, which includes four AMs and two
FMs.  And while Sinclair's TV stations are mostly Fox, any pressure to
change WPTZ's NBC affiliation will be relieved when its new LMA partner,
WFFF (Channel 44) takes to the air next month as a Fox affiliate.
WFFF has already been cleared to replace Buffalo and Rochester Fox
stations on several Quebec cable systems.

A hearty congratulations to one of New York's oldest radio stations.
WHAM (1180) in Rochester turns 75 tomorrow, and it marked the
anniversary with class, producing a three-hour show Monday night that
brought back just about all the folks who've made WHAM what it is.
Well done, WHAM!

Buffalo's newest TV station will debut next February.  A very
well-written article in last Sunday's Buffalo News says Lowell Paxson
will have WAQF (Channel 51) Batavia-Buffalo up and running in early
1998 with his inTV programming.

*And we'll close with a few observations from NERW's staff trip to
Southern Ontario last weekend:

The biggest news of the trip came in Simcoe, where CHNR (1600) is
promoting on the air that it will be replaced "this summer" by the new
"CD 106-7."  And sure enough, at 106.7 on the dial, we heard the new
CHCD testing its transmitter with a variety of rock tunes.  Expect the
big switch to happen within a month or so...

Kitchener's CKGL (570) has dumped country for (mostly-satellite) talk,
including a lot of US hosts.  Perhaps the CRTC should have a
Canadian-content rule for talk, too?

There were plenty of magnificent tower sites to see, including 9-tower
arrays at Toronto's CJCL (Fan 590), Kitchener's CKKW (Oldies 1090),
London's CJBK (1290), and a 12-tower monster at Niagara Falls' CJRN
(710).  Equally impressive were the CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto
and the CBL (740) / CJBC (860) transmitter out in Hornby.

While the CBC has yet to secure CRTC permission to move CBL to FM, it
did get the go-ahead this week to move its Montreal outlets off the AM
band.  In a news release that was apparently translated from English
to French and back again (after possibly making a detour into
Swedish), the CRTC announced that CBF (690) will get to move to the
95.1 MHz spot.  The release says CBM (940) will also get an FM slot,
but fails to give a frequency.  CIME (99.5 Ste.-Adele) will apparently
change to an undisclosed new frequency to open 99.5 for a new
commercial French-language classical station in Montreal.  And
Quebec's CBV (980) also gets a new berth on FM; again, no frequency

And the best listening of the trip came from the Six Nations Indian
Reservation between Brantford and Hamilton.  Little CKRZ (100.3) in
Ohsweken was playing a true "mix" of music, segueing back and forth
among native music, rap, pop, and country, interspersed with comments
from a group of teenage DJs.  Professional?  No way...but it was fun
to have no idea what we'd hear next.  

*That'll do it for another week of NERW; we always welcome your
station news at nerw@radio.lcs.mit.edu.  See you next Thursday!

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