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NorthEast Radio Watch 7/16: WMHB, Maine Public Radio Square Off

*The student voice of Colby College is silent for the moment, as
staffers of WMHB (90.5 Waterville) try to find out why their station
has no current license in FCC records.  

The FCC still lists WMHB at its old 91.5 frequency, which the station
vacated in the mid-80s to allow Maine Public Broadcasting to put WMEW
on the air at 91.3 in Waterville.

So how does MPBC repay the favor a decade later?  The statewide public
broadcaster applied back in January for a 90.5 transmitter in Camden,
on the coast southeast of Waterville and mutually exclusive with the
90.5 facilities WMHB has been using for years.  The FCC deadline for
competing applications for 90.5 is Monday night, July 19, and thus
far, MPBC's application is the only one.

The students who run WMHB tell the Central Maine Morning Sentinel that
they never received the warning MPBC claims it gave Colby about the
problem.  In the meantime, they took WMHB off the air last Saturday
(July 10) while they try to resolve the problem.

Ironically, MPBC is funded in part by Colby College, thanks to the
merger of the former MPBN network and WCBB-TV Lewiston, which was
owned by Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin Colleges.  

NERW's take: MPBC is playing dirty here.  While it's true that someone
at Colby made a mistake years ago by never making sure the final
paperwork was filed on WMHB's move, there's no question that MPBC knew
WMHB existed and believed it was operating legally.  In light of
Colby's contribution to MPBC, the public broadcaster should be
helping WMHB square away its licensing issues, not trying to drive it
off the air.  As for the 90.5 transmitter proposed for Camden, it will
serve an area that already gets MPBC radio signals from Waterville,
Bangor, and Portland.  A translator or two would fill in any dead
spots without forcing WMHB off the air.  

We'll keep you posted as this one unfolds in the days to come.

*Moving west to NEW HAMPSHIRE, Dennis Jackson checked in to report his
WZEN (106.5 Farmington) is now operating 24 hours a day with its
"real" format as "Oldies 106.5."  The station is running in mono for
better coverage, and using Portsmouth and Winnipesaukee in its IDs.
Sign-on was last Friday (July 9) at 10 PM.

Over on the seacoast, WUNH (91.3 Durham) has taken down its old tower
and is operating from the new one nearby.

*The big news in MASSACHUSETTS continues to be Don Imus' departure
from the WEEI (850 Boston) airwaves next month.  The Herald's Dean
Johnson reports the decision was not made by Entercom management, as
the station has claimed, but by syndicator Westwood One, which was
offered considerably more money by Greater Media.  The consensus rumor
has the I-man landing at WBOS (92.9 Brookline), with the rest of the
station's day also moving towards talk, but we've heard so many FM
talk rumors in Boston that we'll believe it the day after it's
announced and not one moment sooner.

Meanwhile in the halls of the tenth floor at 116 Huntington, Tom Baker
has been named market manager for Entercom/Boston and VP/GM for WEEI
and WRKO.  Baker was brought in from Entercom's Portland, Oregon
cluster last month as interim GM of the AMs.  And WQSX (93.7 Lawrence)
has a morning team now, with Charlie Wilde and Karen Blake handling
wakeup duties alongside Frankie Foxx on traffic and WCVB's Mark
Rosenthal with weather.

We hear that 102.3 construction permit in Truro, which has been
sitting unbuilt for more than a decade, will finally go on the air
sometime soon with minimal facilities and just enough programming to
keep the transmitter needles moving.  Will the calls still be WCDJ?
We don't know, yet...but we do know the Outer Cape is one over-radioed
market, even before the new allocation at 94.3 in Brewster is assigned
to any of the applicants.  The new 102.3 will knock out reception of
WCRB (102.5 Waltham) for listeners on the Outer Cape, which would be a
bigger deal if WCRB didn't have WFCC (107.5 Chatham) providing
classical programming to Cape Cod audiences.  As for the new 91.3
application in Orleans we mentioned a few weeks back, the FCC has been
so slow in posting new data on its site that we still have nothing
much to report about it.  Just down the dial, though, we hear WGBH-fed
public stations WNAN (91.1 Nantucket) and WCAI (90.1 Woods Hole) will
make their debuts in early 2000.

*From RHODE ISLAND this week, we have two station sales that really
are, and one that's not.  The real ones are the Urso family's last
Bear Broadcasting properties, WADK (1540) Newport and WERI-FM (99.3)
Block Island.  They're being sold, for a reported $1.8 million, to
Maurice Polayes' Astro Tele-Communications of Needham, MA.  Polayes is
promising no changes to WADK's talk-and-jazz format and WERI-FM's AAA
format, but we'll wait and see, thanks.

Now for the one that wasn't quite so: NERW was startled to find a
notice in last week's issue of "Broadcasting & Cable" that Brown
University's WBRU (95.5 Providence) was being sold to Chancellor for all
of $2 million.  Not only did the price seem absurdly low for a class B
signal in the Providence market, but we found it hard to believe Brown
would have any reason to sell a station it's owned for half a
century, or that B&C would list a sale long before it appeared in the
FCC database or any of the on-line trade publications (which usually
scoop B&C by a week or two).

Sure enough, we find next Monday's B&C will carry a correction
indicating that such a sale is not, in fact, taking place.  Could a
company like Chancellor (now AMFM, Inc.) get a station like WBRU?
Maybe, but we suspect the price would be more like $20 million than $2
million.  Providence listeners will have to wait a while longer for
"Jammin' Oldies," we guess...

Meanwhile down on Oxford Street, Matt Chase is parting ways with WWBB
and WWRX after ten years as general manager.  His replacement is Jim
Corwin, last seen in Providence at WHJJ/WHJY and WSNE a few years

*In CONNECTICUT, former "Twisted Sister" lead singer Dee Snider is the
new morning host at WMRQ (104.1 Waterbury).  Snider has been a
frequent fill-in at "Radio 104" in recent months.  

Down in the New London/Norwich market, we hear WVVE (102.3 Stonington)
is being sold to Spring Communications, which owns WQGN/WSUB in
Groton.  No price on this one yet...

Across town, WBMW (106.5 Ledyard) is raiding WCTY (97.7 Norwich) for a
new morning host.  Michael Bernz is moving to "Mix 106.5" to replace
Teresa Berry, who heads up Route 2 to Hartford and WHCN.

And in Southington, we're told WNTY (990) has dropped back to a 6 AM
to 8:30 PM schedule, all in Spanish.

*So little to report from NEW YORK this time out...just a format
change in Westchester County, where WFAS-FM (103.9 White Plains)
migrates from "Westchester Radio" with hot AC to "Westchester's Light

Must be the heat or something, because several Big Apple radio hosts
were getting awfully testy on the air this week.  First, the
always-mature Opie and Anthony left their afternoon shift at WNEW
(102.7 New York) last Thursday (7/8) 90 minutes early, whining about
sister station WXRK (92.3) landing what was supposed to be a
WNEW-exclusive interview with the creators of "South Park."  A few
days later, Joan Rivers used her WOR (710) talk show as a platform to
criticize the station itself -- for running ads during her program
sponsored by "Jews for Jesus."  

Up in the Finger Lakes, WFLR (1570/95.9 Dundee) is experimenting with
live audio feeds, but with the MP3-based "Shoutcast" system instead of
the usual RealAudio or Windows Media Player systems.  You can try to
find "Finger Lakes Music Showcase" Sunday nights or "FLV" Monday and
Wednesday nights by checking the listings at <http://yp.shoutcast.com>,
for which you'll need the Winamp player.  

*A few quick notes from CANADA: The CRTC has approved Conestoga
College's application for a new campus station on 88.3 MHz, with 4000
watts, in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario.  The CRTC also approved CJKL
Kirkland Lake's application to move to 101.5 on the FM dial from its
current 560 kHz AM spot.  

*And while we won't make it quite as far north as Kirkland Lake, the
NERW-mobile will hit the road next week for another one of our annual
trips into the radio hinterlands of Canada.  This time, the itinerary
includes Sudbury, Owen Sound, Sarnia, Chatham, Windsor, and on the
Michigan side, Port Huron, Flint, and some of the newer Detroit

Because we'll be off looking at towers, there will be no NERW on
Friday, July 23.  We'll try to post some "On the Road" updates as we
travel, and we'll be back with our usual update on July 30.  See you

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

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