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NorthEast Radio Watch 6/25: CRTC Acts on Montreal Frequencies

*After 62 years of broadcasts from Hornby, Ontario, CBL (740) left the
air on schedule at midnight last Saturday (June 19).

NERW was there as the button was pressed silencing the 50-kilowatt
transmitter for good.  What we saw and heard will appear later this
weekend in a special "NERW Extra" -- but first, the rest of this
week's news:

*We'll start in CANADA anyway, where the CRTC has chosen the new
occupants of the 690 and 940 frequencies in Montreal vacated earlier
this year by the CBC's move to FM.  The winner is the Telemedia group,
which owns French-language CKVL (850 Verdun), English-language CIQC
(600), as well as FMs CKOI and CFQR.  The CRTC's decision this week
allows CKVL and CIQC to move to 690 and 940, respectively, each with
50 kilowatts non-directional.  Metromedia's plan calls for both
stations to become news-talkers, with all-news programming from
expanded newsrooms by day and talk at night.  

The losing applicants included Radio Nord, which wanted to start new
French and English country stations on the two frequencies (or,
failing that, English-only on one of the two) and, embarrassingly
enough, the CBC itself, which hoped to use either 690 or 940 as the
backbone of a new French-language all-news service province-wide.  

As many questions as this decision answers, it leaves many more still
open.  Once CKVL and CIQC have made their moves, will anyone apply for
their frequencies?  We could easily imagine a station like CJMS (the
new French-language country station on 1040 in nearby St. Constant)
applying for higher power on a much better frequency.  Will Radio Nord
or the CBC reapply for 600 or 850?  Will the new 690 and 940 use the
old CBM/CBF transmitter site at Brossard, which has been sitting
silent (but maintained) since CBM's sign-off a few weeks back?  And
without CKVL on 850, how many more listeners in areas west and north
of Boston will have an easier time hearing WEEI, which frequently
experiences interference from CKVL?

One more AM-to-FM switch to note in Canada: CKTY (1110) in Sarnia,
Ontario, a station frequently accused of operating with daytime
facilities at night, will bother its co-channel stations in Charlotte,
Salem, and East Providence no more.  The station moved to FM earlier
this month, dropping country for rock in the process.  At its new home
on 106.3, it's called "K-106.3," with CHKS-FM the official calls.
NERW hopes the 1110 towers, at least, are still standing when we head
that way in a month's time.

*On we press, crossing the border into NEW YORK (with, we hope, a
frendlier border guard than the one who, er, "welcomed" us back into
the USA after the CBL sign-off).  Our first stop?  Buffalo, where the
modern AC sounds of "Alice at 92.9" gave way to this year's fad format
this week.

Rumors of a format change to rhythmic oldies came true Wednesday
(6/23) at noon, when Infinity's WLCE (92.9) became "B-92.9, Buffalo's
Dancin' Oldies."  If the moniker sounds familiar, it should --
"Dancin' Oldies" is the same name Infinity's using at WZMX (93.7
Hartford) to steer clear of AMFM's "Jammin' Oldies" trademark.  Alice
PD Jay Nachlis stays on, at least on an interim basis.  No word yet on
what the new station will do for airstaff; Alice had been using the
Craig & Co. morning show from sister station WTIC-FM (96.5 Hartford)
and local jocks, live and voice-tracked, in other dayparts.

The folks at B-92.9 say they're targeting the younger end of WHTT
(104.1)'s listenership, since Oldies 104 is still heavy on the '50s
and early '60s oldies that 92.9 won't touch.  But NERW has to think
that B-92.9 will also draw away some of the urban audience that now
listens to Infinity sister station WBLK (93.7 Depew), which tries to
be all things to all urban audiences with a mix of R&B classics all
the way to hip-hop.  We'd also be worried if we were daytimer WUFO
(1080 Amherst), whose urban format is heavy on R&B oldies.

The obvious winners here are cross-border CKEY (101.1 Fort Erie),
which already targets Buffalo as "The Planet," as well as rimshotter
WXOX (101.7 Attica), which claims "Amherst and Greater Buffalo" in its
top-hour IDs as modern-AC "The Spot."

Two changes-to-be in Rochester this week: Public broadcaster WXXI-TV
(Channel 21) has been granted a CP for WXXI-DT (Channel 16).  We're
looking out the window at the Pinnacle Hill transmitter site as we
write this and no construction has started yet.  Out in Brockport,
WASB-FM (105.5) has applied for new calls WRPO under its new
Canandaigua-based ownership, but so far the station is still operating
as WASB-FM with a mono simulcast of WASB (1590)'s religious format.

Religious WPEL-FM (96.5 Montrose PA) has been granted an Elmira
translator on 91.7, W219CE, over the objections of Corning Community
College, which operates WCEB Corning on first-adjacent 91.9.

There's a new station in Syracuse: WRVD (90.3) signed on this week
after years and years of thwarted attempts by Oswego-based public
broadcaster WRVO (89.9) to put a Salt City transmitter on the air.
While WRVD will fix the intermod problems between WAER (88.3) and WJPZ
(89.1) that make WRVO inaudible near Syracuse University, it won't
help matters any for Syracuse Community Radio, despite a power
increase this week for their WXXE (90.5 Fenner) from 7 to 49 watts.  

We hear WHCD (106.9 Auburn) is being sold by Butch Charles' Salt City
Broadcasting to Marathon Media; could a format change back to country
from smooth jazz be in the works?

The Dame Media stations in Utica (WRNY-WADR-WUTQ/WRFM/WOUR/WSKS) and
Albany (WGY/WRVE/WHRL) will officially pass to Clear Channel ownership
at 1 AM July 1, and with the ownership change will come some
management changes.  Dennis Lamme, the market manager at Clear
Channel's existing Albany cluster of WQBK-WQBJ, WTMM, and WXCR, will
add WRVE to his duties.  Michael Whalen will drop WRVE and the Utica
cluster from his responsibilities, while keeping WGY and WHRL under
his belt.  Expect the Albany Clear Channel stations to move in to the
existing Dame Facility off Washington Street later this year.

And up in the Saratoga market, WQAR (101.3) PD Jay Scott is reportedly
out, with news director John Meaney taking over the PD post.

*What's new in MASSACHUSETTS?  A new day pattern at WNRB (1510
Boston), for starters.  With the demise of the co-channel station in
New London CT, WNRB was able to stretch its reach a bit to the south
and west without needing to move any of its four towers.

We hear about a new pirate in Worcester.  "WLXW" on 1680 is even
listed in this year's phone book, so we suppose the FCC just might pay
a visit to 25 Pemberton Street one day soon...

Congratulations to Dave Faneuf, the former WODS (103.3 Boston) news
guy who's landed on his feet up in Lowell at WCAP (980) as news
director.  We hear he's breathing new life into a news department hit
hard by staffing and budget cuts in recent years.

There's a new application for 91.3 in Orleans; more details on this
one next week.  

And we're told WBPX (Channel 46) in Norwell has dropped Pax
programming for the sister Infomall network, now that Pax is being
seen on WABU (Channel 68) in Boston.

*Up in VERMONT, the engineers at WIZN (106.7 Vergennes) checked in
with a bit more on the modifications they made to reduce RFI
complaints from the tower's neighbors (all of which, by the way, have
been successfully resolved).  It seems the guy wires on the Pease
Mountain transmitter are now broken up with insulators, something
normally done only on AM sticks, to help reduce re-radiation problems.

*The big news in MAINE is the return of Jim Crocker to mornings on
WGAN (560 Portland) after an absence of several years.  Crocker
replaces the departing Dave Winsor, and apparently buries the hatchet
after a nasty court battle with WGAN following his own departure to
host the midday show on WCSH-TV (Channel 6).  WGAN sued Crocker for
violating a non-compete agreement and lost.  Crocker returns to WGAN
next month to host the "Crocker and Willie" show.  

Down the hall at Saga/Portland (well, as soon as the new studios are
finished, anyway), WPOR (101.9) morning co-host Loretta Crawford
departs for a communications job with the YWCA of Greater Portland.

WLOB-LP (Channel 45) has applied to move to channel 15.

Do the lights still burn in the Elegante Ballroom?  For a few days
more, apparently.  The end of WCDQ (92.1 Sanford) has been held up by
paperwork -- but the debut of WPHX is expected any day now.  

*There's a new pirate in RHODE ISLAND, though we didn't hear it when
we were down that way a few weeks ago.  We're told 105.5 in Providence
is running Spanish-language programming in mono.

*Moving over to CONNECTICUT, WKCI (101.3 Hamden) is getting ready to
celebrate its 20th anniversary July 23-25, and "KC101" is looking for
station alumni.   Contact Tom Osenkowsky <tosenkowsky@prodigy.net> or
Pete Salant <pete@salant.nu> if you're one of them...

*And that's it for the first half of this week's NERW.  Later this
weekend, you'll receive two special issues.  The first will chronicle
the end of Toronto's CBL, and the second will revisit the NERW
Canadian Maritimes, Northern Maine, and Quebec Radio Expedition of a
year ago.  

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

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