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NorthEast Radio Watch 7/24: Remembering Walt Dibble

*We begin this week's edition with some sad news from CONNECTICUT.

Veteran newsman Walt Dibble died on Monday at age 67.  Dibble had
worked in Connecicut radio for 49 years, the last 20 of them at WTIC
in Hartford.

Dibble's career began in 1948 at Stamford's WSTC (1400), and included
stints at WICC (600) in Bridgeport and WAVZ (1300) in New Haven, as
well as a lengthy stay at Hartford's WDRC (1360/102.9).  Dibble came
to WTIC as news director in 1977, replacing NBC's hourly news with
local news at the top and bottom of the hour.

Dibble won a national award from the RTNDA for his investigative
reporting, as well as awards from Ohio State University in 1981 and
from the Connecticut AP Broadcasters Association (the Abrams award for
excellence in radio journalism) in 1995.

Radio reporters all over New England knew Dibble as someone who was
always willing to provide news sound out of Hartford, and to lend
advice and job tips to those new to the business.  In addition to his
work at WTIC, Dibble was also an instructor at the Connecticut School
of Broadcasting and at Southern Connecticut State University.

Dibble had been battling leukemia for some time before his death, and
had just returned to work at WTIC (although not yet to the air) when
he died.

He's survived by three sons (including Fox sportscaster and former
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Rob Dibble) and three daughters, and by his 
wife, Barbara.

In this era of shuttered radio newsrooms, Walt Dibble was one of the few
remaining giants in the business. He will be sorely missed.

*RATINGS: We have more gleanings from the Spring book across the
Northeast to offer this week, and we'll start in Hartford, where ac
WRCH stayed on top for another book, albeit dropping from winter a
bit.  WTIC(AM) was a solid second, despite falling more than a share,
with country WWYZ reprising its number-three spot in the 12+ numbers.
Hot AC WTIC-FM dropped more than a full share to fall behind CHR WKSS,
and the big gainer was urban WNEZ(AM), which shot up to a 1.8 12+ in
its first full book in the format.

Just to the north in Springfield, ac WMAS-FM jumped more than two
points for an impressive #1 finish, closely trailed by rocker WAQY-FM,
also up almost two points (add in WAQY(AM)'s simulcast and WAQY takes
first place).  Big droppers include country WPKX, last book's #1, down
almost two points in third.  WHYN(AM) and WHYN-FM each dropped more
than a point while remaining fourth and fifth.

In upstate New York, Buffalo's 12+ numbers were led by an incredible
gain for classic rock WGRF, shooting up more than three points to jump
from seventh to first.  WGRF was also tops among 25-54 and 18-34
listeners.  Also up in a big way was urban WBLK, for a solid number
two, followed by AC WJYE, news-talk WBEN(AM), and country WYRK.  AAA
WLCE made big gains in its first full book as "Alice," adding
nearly two points for an eleventh-place finish 12+, and fifth in the
key 18-34 numbers.

Moving down the Thruway, Rochester's WBEE regained its number-one spot
12+, picking up more than two points from the winter book to beat out
a resurgent news-talk WHAM (up half a point) and CHR WPXY, down a
fraction.  Also down were WPXY's ARS stablemates, ac WRMM at fourth
and rocker WCMF at fifth.  Oldies WKLX lost more than a point after
going satellite this spring, while the big success story was ARS' new
modern AC WZNE, which finished its first full book with a very
respectable 3.2, good enough for tenth place.  Not coincidentally,
Jacor's AAA entry, WMAX, was down nearly a point finishing down in the
#13 spot.  WBEE owned the 25-54 demo, with WPXY taking top place
among listeners 18-34.

In Albany, country WGNA kept its number-one crown among 12+ and 25-54
listeners.  CHR WFLY and news-talk WGY tied for second 12+, with
former number-two ac WYJB falling to fourth (although it's still
second 25-54).  The big gainers were oldies WTRY AM/FM and hot AC
WKLI/WKBE, both up a point or so.  And talker WQBK(AM) jumped slightly
in its last book before changing to sports WTMM.

*A few bits of news from VERMONT this week, including a call change.
Bennington's WHGC (94.3) has returned to its original WBTN-FM calls.
No word yet of a change to the station's rock format, but if any of
our southwest Vermont readers tune past 94.3 and hear something
different, you'll read it here first.

One of the translators allegedly controlled by Brian Dodge has applied
for an ownership change.  W259AB (99.7 Marlboro VT) is owned by
Rothschild Broadcasting, which until recently owned WVAY (100.7
Wilmington) as well.  Now it's applied to transfer the license to
"Friends of WHAZ," notwithstanding that WHAZ in Troy has notified
W259AB and Dodge's other translators that they're no longer authorized
to relay WHAZ after July 31.  Curious and curiouser...

Up in the Burlington market, WXPS (96.7 Vergennes) is not only running
sports talk, it's doing it as a simulcast!  WEAV (960) across the lake
in Plattsburgh NY is now relaying the WXPS sports-talk.  The classical
music and new calls have started up on WCVT (101.7 Stowe), while
classical competitor WMEX (102.5 Westport NY) has now established a
web presence.  You can find them at http://expage.com/page/wmex if
you're curious.

And in response to our editorial outburst last week about the demise
of radio news, Shirley Wolf up at Woodstock's WMXR (93.9) checked in
to let us know that she's been trying to hire a newsperson and can't
find one.  We might be inclined to see this as evidence that the
closure of all those small-market newsrooms has shrunk the available
pool of news talent; in any event, any out-of-work newspeople out
there should give Shirley a call.

*In MAINE, Dennysville's WHRR (102.9) has fallen silent again after
its initial tests a few weeks back.  We'll keep you posted as we learn
more about when "CD 102.9" will officially begin broadcasting.

*We now know more about the "WCTD 1620 AM" in RHODE ISLAND that's been
advertising in Radio World for the last few months.  According to
information provided by Ron Musco (and provided to him by WERI-1230)
in the National Radio Club's "DX News," this is actually licensed TIS
WPKN270.  Ron's hearing it nightly with a taped loop describing
Westerly-area attractions...and NERW's wondering how a TIS station
that's supposed to be nonprofit is "billing $1500 a month," to quote
the WCTD ad.  Ron says WERI is none too happy about this
under-the-table competition...and we can certainly see why.  Sounds
like quite the DX target for you New England readers -- who's hearing
them and where?

*Plenty of news in MASSACHUSETTS this week, beginning with the sale of
Webster's WGFP (940; talk) and WXXW (98.9; oldies and talk).  Owner
Alan Okun died earlier this year, and his estate has now sold the
station to Bengal Atlantic Communications LLC.  No word on how much
they're paying for the southern Worcester county outlets.  We know
more this week about the fate of Salem's WPZE (1260) in Boston.
Contrary to the initial reports, it seems WPZE will go to a company
called Craven and Thompson Communications out of Philadelphia.  We
don't know much about them, and there's no evidence (at least in the
FCC FM database) of any other station ownership by them.  Up in the
Haverhill area, there's a pirate on 88.7 that's causing trouble for
some listeners to WFCR (88.5) Amherst's new improved signal.

That 88.1 application we mentioned last week for New Bedford MA is proposing
to transmit from the WJFD (97.3) site on Sconticut Neck in Fairhaven;
how that could ever co-exist with WLNE-TV (Channel 6) is beyond us.

You can't keep a good set of call letters down...or even a pretty
mediocre set.  Case in point: WBVD, the calls that graced Beverly's AM
1570 between its glory days as WMLO and its current incarnation as
WNSH.  Dormant since the late 80s, the WBVD calls have reappeared at
95.1 in Melbourne FL, the erstwhile WGGD-FM.

Radio people on the move: Congratulations to Warren Lada, general
manager of Springfield rocker WAQY (102.1/1600).  Group owner Saga
Communications has promoted him to Vice President of Operations,
working out of the corporate offices in Michigan.  Larry Goldberg
moves up from general sales manager to GM at Rock 102.  Congrats as
well to Dave Mager, weekend sports anchor and producer at WBZ (1030),
as he moves to CBS sister station WBBM (780) in Chicago.

And our best wishes go out to Kirby Perkins, veteran political
reporter at Boston's WCVB-TV (Channel 5), who suffered a massive heart
attack while playing tennis on Monday and is now in a coma.  Perkins
is married to Emily Rooney, the WGBH-TV "Greater Boston"
anchor/producer who's also a former WCVB news director and ABC "World
News Tonight" executive producer.

*Which brings us to NEW YORK, where the big news is right here in
NERW's home town of Rochester.  WCMF (990) signed off the air
Wednesday afternoon, as owner American Radio Systems closed on its
sale of the station to Crawford Broadcasting.  The 990 signal will
reappear sometime next week as religious WDCZ, simulcasting Crawford's
WDCZ-FM (102.7 Webster).  In the meantime, the radio here at NERW
Central has been locked on to 990, where we've heard a whole bunch of
stations we don't normally get here, including WNTY Southington CT
(heard at sunset signoff), WVSC Somerset PA, CKGM Montreal (dominating
the channel at night), and our first Manitoba station at this
listening post, CBW Winnipeg.  If you're an AM DXer, this is a good
opportunity to find some new catches on a frequency that's normally
dominated across much of NERW's territory by Rochester's
eastward-directional nighttime signal (and by the much more minimal
straight-out-to-sea pattern of WALE Providence).  In fact, just in the
last few minutes of listening, we caught a fragment of a 1 AM legal ID
mentioning "990 AM and 99.1 FM," which we're pretty sure is WIVK
Knoxville TN, simulcasting WNOX(FM) Loudon TN.

On the ever-popular religious translator front, a NERW field trip to
Buffalo earlier this week gave us the questionable privilege of
hearing W201BE, the Buffalo translator of KAWZ Twin Falls ID.  It gets
out...and out...and out; we were hearing it almost all the way east to
Batavia, some 25 miles out of Buffalo.  Not bad for an alleged 10
watts!  It gets a good fight from Family Life's WCOU (88.3 Warsaw),
which has a very good signal in Buffalo's eastern suburbs.  Family
Life's translator app for 107.5 Greece NY (relaying WCIY 88.9
Canandaigua from the WRMM/WKLX/WDCZ-FM tower on Rochester's west side)
has been dismissed. St. Lawrence University, operator of WSLU 89.5
Canton NY and a host of relays across the North Country, has filed a
petition to deny against KLVC Magalia CA's 89.5 translator app in
Watertown.   And the folks at WVOA (105.1 DeRuyter-Syracuse) just keep
submitting translator applications; the latest is for 101.5 in
Wampsville NY, which is just a nice way of saying Oneida, some 25
miles east of Syracuse (and well within the WVOA listening area when
last we drove through).

Steve Medicis checked in with some Syracuse news, including word that
WOLF (1490) has finished putting up its new tower.  WLTI (105.9) has
yet to install its new antenna on the WOLF stick, and is still using
its temporary facility at 989 James Street.  Don Imus' show returns to
upstate New York on Monday, replacing Steve Czaban's sports show on
WHEN (620) in Syracuse.  Rochester-area listeners who used to catch
Imus on WHTK (1280) and WHRR (93.3 Avon; now WQRV) will also be able
to hear the I-Man on the powerful 620 signal after sunrise.  Oswego's
WZOS (96.7) has a carrier back up, and will presumably be modulating
it with some sort of programming within a couple of weeks to keep its
license (it had been dark since last August).

Still more Syracuse gleanings, this time from the FCC: Syracuse
Community Radio has applied for two facilities, a 90.3 in Cleveland NY
(on the north shore of Oneida Lake, a good 20 miles from downtown
Syracuse) and a 90.5 in Fenner NY.  We had to search a bit to find
Fenner; our DeLorme software gave us a hamlet called "Fenner" just
down the road in the Rochester area -- but the Census Bureau tells us
there is indeed a place called "Fenner" with all of 1694 people, way
up there in the hills south of Chittenango, and 25 miles or so
east of Syracuse.  We wish the Syracuse Community Radio folks well,
but we're not sure who these signals could actually serve, especially
with co-channel WBXL (90.5 Baldwinsville), and eventually SUNY
Oswego's WRVD (90.3 Syracuse), if it ever finds a tower site.

The application for 90.7 in Lancaster NY (outside Buffalo) by Holy
Family Communications has been reinstated at the FCC, but no such luck
for the former 94.9 WVZC Montauk NY.  The construction permit was
never built, and it was deleted earlier this year.  WVZC's permittee,
Women in Broadcasting, petitioned for reconsideration and was denied,
and then applied for review of the decision.  Now that too has been
denied, and it's safe to say WVZC won't be coming to an eastern Long
Island radio dial near you any time soon.

*And that's it for another exciting week in Northeast radio!  See you
again next Thursday...

- -=Scott Fybush - NorthEast Radio Watch=-