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NorthEast Radio Watch 5/12: There's A Reason It's Called "Non"-Commercial...

*We begin this week in RHODE ISLAND, Westerly to be precise, where the
FCC has hit little WBLQ (88.1) with a $1,000 Notice of Apparent
Liability for stepping over the line that separates a commercial from
an underwriting announcement.

You can read the entire decision on line
<http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Enforcement/Orders/2000/da001011.txt>, but
suffice it to say that the complaint involved the use of language
regarding prices on the air.

WBLQ argued that it didn't sufficiently understand the rules (an
argument that's never carried any weight with the Commission), and
that the rules weren't being applied equally to other noncomm stations
in the region (fair enough, we suppose; we've heard plenty of similar
language on other allegedly "noncommercial" stations in the region).

In any event -- are you listening, WBER Rochester? -- WBLQ's fine
sends a message that the Commission is still paying attention to a few
of the finer points of its own rules and regulations.

*On we go to CONNECTICUT, where we see Clear Channel moving its
low-rated AMs, WPOP (1410 Hartford) and WAVZ (1300 New Haven) into the
"CCU/AMFM Trust," a sign that a sale could be imminent.  Stay tuned...

What are the correct call letters of 1260 in Westport?  NERW reported
last fall that the station was changing from WMMM to WSHU(AM) --
but the call change appears not to have made it all the way through
the FCC.  We're guessing it's part of the ongoing database problems,
and we'll be keeping an eye on the situation.

*Some good news from MASSACHUSETTS for defenders of freedom of the
press.  The city of Lowell has backed down from its attempts to force
WCAP (980) news anchor Lou Wannemacher to divulge the source of a news
item about the city's police chief.  The city tried to get Wannemacher
and station owner Maurice Cohen to testify, but the Massachusetts
Civil Service Commission ruled in the stations' favor.  NERW's proud
to see radio news standing up for its rights, and prouder still to see
it happen at a station we once called home.

A power outage at WLVI (Channel 56)'s Dorchester studios blacked out
the 10 PM news Thursday (5/11) for more than 12 minutes.  We hear
anchor Jeff Barnd came back from the unscheduled break with a quip
comparing the station to "Apollo 13."  (Wonder if Tribune has any
plans to buy a backup generator now?)

WCEA-LP (Channel 19), the low-power Spanish-language station in
Boston, has been granted a move to channel 58, clearing the way for
WGBH-DT's arrival on channel 19.

*Up in VERMONT, another DTV displacement to report: W18AE Killington,
which runs ski information and America One programming, moves to
channel 51 as W51DA.

There's something new coming to Rutland: Late word from Jay Gadon, GM
at WEXP (101.5 Brandon), is that the station is about to ditch its
commercial-free CHR "Express 101" format to go classic rock as "Rock
101, The Fox,"  with Imus in the morning.  (And after the Scranton
incident -- read on -- Gadon says WEXP has no plans to bring the I-man
up for a remote!)

*A call for help from NEW HAMPSHIRE: WNTK's Bob Vinikoor checks in
with an update of sorts on his long-unbuilt WQTH (720 Hanover)
construction permit.  It seems the plans for WQTH's 3-tower array keep
getting caught in hassles with local zoning boards, and now Bob's
looking for some advice from anyone else who's dealt with
radio-related zoning problems.  Contact him at (603)448-0500 or
<wntk1020@aol.com> if you can assist...

WEVO (89.1 Concord) is having some problems of its own, but on a
technical level.  The studio-transmitter link to WEVO's Concord
transmitter has been plagued by dropouts and noise, forcing the
station to use a phone-line link instead.  And because WEVO's relays
in Keene (WEVN 90.7) and Hanover (WEVH 91.3) pick up the WEVO signal
off-air, they're having problems as well.

*Keeping with the theme of problems, there's MAINE Public
Broadcasting, which has been hearing from its members ever since a
hacker invaded the network's computer system.  MPBC says there's no
evidence that any data about donors or their credit cards was
compromised, but the network admits it's been getting calls from
concerned members.

After 26 years at WPOR (101.9 Portland), Hal Knight is packing it in
and heading south to Florida.  Maine's best-known blind DJ was demoted
a while back from mornings to overnights; now he's entering the
digital age, doing customer service for a technology company in the
Sunshine State.

*Our NEW YORK news begins with confirmation of Clear Channel's
purchase of Eric Straus' Hudson Valley radio group.  You heard about
it first last week right here in NERW; now we can tell you that the
deal will take effect with an LMA of all 10 stations beginning Monday
(5/15).  NERW expects some format changes and plenty of staffing
consolidation with CC's other upstate groups.  We'll keep you posted.

The storms that blew through Albany this week knocked several local
stations off the air, and when they cleared, one was back *on* the
air.  WABY (1400 Albany) had been simulcasting sister station WKLI
(94.5 Ravena) for a few days before going silent; it's now back on
with the all-news format it had been using.  

We're also hearing that WMVI (1160 Mechanicville) was back on the air
for a few hours this week to stay clear of the "one year and you're
gone" silent-station rule.  Rumors of a major group purchase and power
increase appear, for now, to be just rumors.

One more Albany note: If Dan Lynch decides to run for the New York
Assembly, WROW (590) says it's ready to pull his daily hour of talk
off the air, as election law requires.

M Street (which just released the ninth edition of its Directory, a
welcome addition to the NERW bookshelf, despite the best efforts of
the UPS guy to leave it in the pouring rain!) reports a change of
format at WWLE (1170 Cornwall), from a simulcast of country WRWD
(107.3 Highland) to CNN news.  A sale of the station is still pending.

The Hudson Valley's newest big group is about to go public.  Nassau,
which is adding the Aurora stations to its New Jersey-Pennsylvania
group, is planning a summer IPO worth $190 million; watch the NASDAQ
ticker for "NBCR."

Upstate, WMHT translator W04BD is moving up the dial.  On its new home
at channel 65, it'll be known as W65DY.

Buffalo's nostalgia station is getting a new morning host, as Stan
Roberts hangs up the headphones at WECK (1230 Cheektowaga) in favor of
doing sales for the Infinity station.  Replacing him is Jerry Reo, a
voice familiar to listeners in both Rochester and Buffalo.  Reo and
Roberts worked together at WGR in the 1970s.

Across town at Entercom, WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls) will end up
donating more than $150,000 to charity -- the take from this year's
high school spirit competition.  The students at Holy Angels Academy
won the Kiss 98 contest, and a concert at school, by donating
2,153,547 pennies over the last few weeks.

Dan Neaverth will be among the inductees Tuesday at this year's
Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers hall of fame ceremony.  Other members of
this year's class include Al Anscombe, Jack Mahl, Phil Beuth, Ed
Little, and Joe Rico.  They're not on the Web site
<http://bbp.buffnet.net> yet, but check back next week...

And speaking of Web sites, we've frequently had nice things to say
about Jim Hawkins' Radio Room, and this week is no exception: he's
just added a super visit to the WBBR (1130 New York) transmitter site
in Carlstadt, NJ.  Find the site at its new URL:
<http://hawkins.pair.com/radio.shtml>, and update your bookmarks while
you're at it.

*Just outside the region: Don Imus won't find many fans in Scranton,
after throwing a tantrum when the hotel where he was staying the night
before a remote (gasp!) failed to put a phone call through to his
room.  Imus packed up at 3 AM and drove back to New York to do the
show.  A few hours later, local affiliate WARM (590 Scranton) pulled
the plug on the I-Man for good, replacing his show with a local news

*And from CANADA this week: Belleville, Ontario will get a new radio
station later this year.  Anthony Zwig, owner of CJOJ (95.5
Belleville) was granted a new country outlet on 100.1 as well.  Zwig
says he needs the second station to compete against Quinte
Broadcasting's market-leading combination of CJBQ (800) and CIGL
(97.1).  With 40 kilowatts, we expect to hear the new station here in
Rochester when it launches.  The CRTC also approved the CBC's new 10
kilowatt transmitter at Campbellton NB, a relay of Radio-Canada chaine
culturelle outlet CBAL Moncton to operate on 88.9 MHz.

*That's it for this week, as we head off to Our Nation's Capital for a
few days.  More on the radio scene there, and the trip down, next

---------------------NorthEast Radio Watch------------------------
                     (c)2000 Scott Fybush

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