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

NERW 5/28: WCAV Sold, WHQO Donated, and WMHQ Sold Again

*One of the nation's fastest-growing minority-owned broadcasters is
entering MASSACHUSETTS.  From its base in Washington, D.C., Radio One
has been branching out into markets such as Detroit and Cleveland.
This week, it agreed to pay KJI Broadcasting $10 million for WCAV
(97.7) in Brockton.  

While it's pretty much a given that WCAV's country format will switch
to something with an urban focus once the sale goes through, it's not
immediately clear what hope Radio One has of using WCAV to reach
Boston's urban community.  While the Class A station has a CP to
move from the south end of Brockton to the north side, it's still
tightly bound by WOKQ (97.5 Dover NH) up the coast and co-channels
WINQ Winchendon MA and WCTY Norwich CT, so a massive power upgrade to
reach Boston seems unlikely.

Radio One, which is in the process of going public, probably won't
stop buying in the Bay State just yet -- and NERW has to wonder if
this is the owner the Nash estate would feel comfortable selling WILD
to?  If not, the little urban daytimer could face its biggest threat
yet.  This will be an interesting one to follow.

(As far as we know, sister station WBET (1460) will stay with KJI for
the time being, although we'd be unsurprised to see a sale there as
well eventually.)

*Who the heck is "Best Media," anyway?  The company is angling for the
coveted title of Translator Pest Of The Month, with several dozen
applications filed with the FCC this week for new stations all over
the country.  In our area, the most curious one is for Lawrence, where
Best wants 88.5 MHz to relay WMWM from Salem State College.  Best's
applications also ask for five new translators in New York: 88.1 Stony
Brook (misspelled in the application), 88.1 Hollis (really part of
Queens), 89.5 Massapequa, 90.9 Eastport, and 90.7 Staten Island (do
WFUV or WBJB know about this one?)  These are all proposed as relays
of WSHU from Fairfield CT.

So what's really going on here?  Look out west, where many of Best's
applications specify religious KLRD (90.1 Yucaipa CA) as the primary.
NERW suspects the New England translators would also end up with
out-of-state religious primaries, and while we'll restate that we have
no objection in principle to religious radio, we'll also restate our
long-held conviction that translator regulation as it now stands
allows a dangerous loophole by permitting what amount to national LPFM

We're tempted to send the FCC a stack of letters opposing each and
every one of Best's applications on the grounds that as long as LPFM
is being considered seriously, it would be a tragic mistake to allow
the few available channels (especially in congested areas like New
York City and Long Island) to be handed over to explicitly non-local
services.  (And yes, we know translators are a "secondary" service,
but we don't think the FCC remembers what that means any longer).
Anyone want to join in fighting the good fight here?

*Elsewhere in the Bay State, there's a slew of new Webcasters from
Boston and the Cape.  WROR <http://www.wror.com> and its Greater Media
sisters all began streaming recently, to be joined soon by business
radio WBNW <http://www.1120wbnw.com> out in Concord.  And out on the
Cape, the Makkay stations (WCIB, WPXC, WRZE) all turned their streams
on this week via Webradio <www.webradio.com>, just in time for summer
Cape traffic and us wannabe-vacationers.  And while there's no
streaming audio, you'd be well advised to make a detour to Steve
LeVeille's new site at <www.radiosteve.com>, where you'll find
information about his Friday overnight WBZ radio show, his long and
varied career, some touching recollections of the late (and still
sorely missed) Norm Nathan, and more.

WFXT-DT (Channel 31) has applied for its license to cover, while WNMH
(91.5 Northfield) has asked the FCC to reinstate its license, which
was apparently deleted in error earlier this month (NERW erroneously
reported WZLY Wellesley instead of WNMH among the liste of deletees,
as long as we're correcting things!).  And Audrey Constant moves from
Greater Media to WPLM (99.1 Plymouth) to handle midday duties.

*Up the coast we go to MAINE, where Cumulus puts a new spin on the
problem of over-concentration of group ownership.  It seems the
company's plan to buy what was left of Mountain Wireless' Skowhegan
operation (WSKW 1160 and WHQO 107.9) would have put it over the
revenue share the FCC and Justice Department want to see.  But rather
than spin WHQO off to a commercial operator who might provide
competition to Cumulus (and Pilot, which controls the other half of
the market, more or less), WHQO will be spun off to Maine Public
Radio, which won't have to pay a penny.  All sides say the deal will
bring public radio to a new audience in Central Maine -- but the
NERW-mobile wasn't too far from Skowhegan a year ago when we were able
to tune in all six of the existing MPR stations.  At once.  Meantime,
fans of WSKW's sports format will still be able to hear it on FM as
well once WHQO is spun off; it's already being relayed on Cumulus'
WIGY (97.5 Madison).

There's a new program director at WCRQ (102.9 Dennysville).  Kyle
Kristofer comes down East from Madison, Wisconsin.  Speaking of 102.9,
the Bangor translator of WERU (89.9 Blue Hill) has been off for several
weeks, allowing Stephen King and his neighbors to once again enjoy the
noise of WCRQ fighting with co-channel WBLM Portland.  And that 99.9
signal Bangor listeners were hearing with a rebroadcast of WKIT (100.3
Brewer)?  'Twas a pirate, we're told...

*One bit of RHODE ISLAND news: WBUR-FM is applying for a Newport
translator on 91.5, which would bring a solid public radio signal to
Aquidneck Island for the first time.  But under current translator
rules, the 91.5 would have to relay Boston-based WBUR instead of
Providence-based affiliate WRNI (1290), even though WRNI actually
offers news and traffic for Rhode Island instead of Massachusetts.
Sounds like a great case for a waiver, if you ask us -- have we
mentioned lately that we think the translator rules are out of sync
with reality?

*A new radio station is on the air in VERMONT.  John Bulmer's WRRO
(93.7 Addison) has been heard with classic rock as "the Arrow."
Meantime, the 100.9 in Middlebury, which runs the same format and
slogan, has changed calls from WGTK to WWFY, which were the calls on
the 93.7 CP until a few weeks ago.  

There's a TV affiliation swap in Burlington, as Fox affiliate WFFF
(Channel 44) adds a secondary WB affiliation, with WB shows running at
10 PM after Fox is over for the night.  Former WB outlet WBVT-LP
(Channel 39) moves to UPN, while ex-UPN outlet WWBI-LP (Channel 27) in
Plattsburgh goes independent.  Could WFFF be making backup plans if
the simmering battle between Fox and its affiliates over compensation
erupts into full-fledged rebellion?

And a correction from last week: It was WTSA-FM (96.7) in Brattleboro
that switched to CNN, not the AM side, which is all satellite sports
and runs no network news at all.

*Topping the NEW YORK news this week is the sale of WMHQ (Channel 45)
in Schenectady -- again.  Tribune will pay $18.5 million for the
Capital District's secondary PBS station, converting it into a WB
affiliate.  You'll recall that Sinclair offered $23 million for the
station last year, withdrawing the offer after running into its own
financial difficulties.  WMHT will use the money from the WMHQ sale to
build its new studios and offices for the remaining services it
operates (WMHT-TV and FM), while WMHQ will likely end up being operated
mostly from Tribune's WPIX New York (much as Paramount is doing with
its UPN stations in New Bedford/Providence and Pittsburgh).

Down the Hudson a bit, WBPM (94.3 Kingston) will drop CHR next week to
go rhythmic oldies as "Rhythmic 94" under its new Roberts ownership.
Meantime over at WDST (100.1 Woodstock), veteran GM Bob Wagner has
returned to the station after some time away.

Across the Hudson and a hundred miles or so to the south, WNJR (1430
Newark) may soon have new calls.  Arthur Liu says he wants "WNSW" to
go with the "Sunny 1430" nickname -- and, no doubt, to remind
listeners of the old WNEW (though we're reminded instead of a
now-defunct AM station in Brewer, Maine, for some odd reason)  The
call change has not been officially filed with the FCC yet.

Speaking of now-defunct AM stations, the old "Musicradio 77" WABC will
return to the air Memorial Day, sort of.  WABC will replace its usual
talk programs with a special Musicradio retrospective from 6 AM until
the noon Yankee game, then for six more hours after the game ends.

Out on Long Island, Jon Krolick joins WLIR/WDRE (92.7 Garden City/98.5
Westhampton) and WXXP (105.3, er, Calverton-Roanoke) to produce the
morning show.  He had been GM of Cornell student station WVBR (93.5
Ithaca), a post now to be filled by Matt Golden.

In Binghamton, Steve Willett (formerly of WMRV) moves downtown to WAAL
(99.1) to take over the morning shift from "Oz."

Up North, we hear classic rock will be the new format next week on
WXQZ (101.5 Canton), replacing the current simulcast with WNCQ (102.9
Morristown).  WXQZ has also applied to boost power to 5500 watts from
2400, from a new tower just north of the current one.

Rochester's UPN outlet may finally be viewable on the city's east
side.  WBGT-LP (Channel 40) owners David and Molly Grant are buying
W55AC Penfield from Binghamton public broadcaster WSKG, which applied
last year to move the former translator about 70 miles north from
Avoca.  It will operate on channel 67 when it finally takes air,
allowing your editor to see UPN programs without having to hold the
antenna in his teeth.  Now if there were just something worth

"But wait, there is!":  On a purely self-serving note, cable customers
in greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes may want to keep an eye on R
News (cable channel 9 in Rochester, 14 Finger Lakes/Batavia) next
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (June 2-4), as your editor presents
"Out of the Box: 50 Years of Rochester TV," a three-part series
commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of the sign-on of WHAM-TV,
Rochester's first TV station.  We'll also be talking about local TV
history on Tuesday night, June 8, at 7PM on the "756-TALK" call-in
show.  It promises to be a lot of fun; tune in if you're able.

*One note from CANADA this week: While in Buffalo today, we hit "scan"
on the NERW-mobile radio and found it coming to a stop on 91.7 -- the
new FM home of CHOW (1470) from Welland, Ontario.  The 25 kW signal is
quite good in Buffalo and environs, but it's not using the familiar
"See-How" IDs from the AM side.  Instead, it's "Spirit Radio," albeit
still with country music and Broadcast News on the hour.  The AM
signal is still on the air for a few months with a simulcast, but we
expect the towers on Regional Road 58 to go away by winter.  As a
result of the new FM signal, Niagara Falls tourist radio CFLZ has
finally left its original 91.9 spot for 105.1, where it's sounding
pretty cheesy with almost-nonstop promotion for Casino Niagara and
very poor audio.  The signal from the Skylon tower is still very good,
though -- strong enough to stop the scan as we climbed the hills south
of Buffalo heading for Springville.

*That's it for this week.  By next issue, we'll be ready to announce
the location of our June 12 NERW get-together in Providence, RI.  We
can tell you that after we all sit down for lunch, the Rhode Island
Historical Society has kindly agreed to open its doors for a special
tour of their "Live From Studio 1-A!" exhibit on Rhode Island TV
history.  Full details next Friday...

- -=Scott Fybush - NorthEast Radio Watch - (c) 1999=-