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NorthEast Radio Watch 6/2: What "Cooperation" Means

--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
                              June 2, 2000


*MASSACHUSETTS: WUMB, WAVM End Frequency Fight With Time-Share Deal
*NEW HAMPSHIRE: Berlin's WMOU Returns
*CANADA: Format Shakeup Rattles Fredericton Listeners

-----------------------------by Scott Fybush-----------------------------

*Two stories out of MASSACHUSETTS this week rekindle our fading
fantasies of a world in which full-power broadcasters can work with
community radio stations to better serve the public.

We start in Maynard, where high school station WAVM (91.7) was
fighting for its survival, with its application to upgrade from class
D status pitted against competing 91.7 applications from several
religious broadcasters and from UMass/Boston's WUMB, which hoped to
add a 91.7 transmitter in nearby Stow.

With a stellar 27-year record of service to its community, WAVM went
on the public relations offensive a few months back, rallying support
in the newspapers and among lawmakers.  

NERW stepped into the fray in our February 25 issue, prompting a
response from WUMB general manager Pat Monteith, whose open attitude
towards the issue led us to make this observation:

"NERW wonders whether, given WAVM's limited broadcast schedule, some
kind of share-time arrangement could be the saving grace here?"

And indeed, it seems to be.  Wednesday morning, officials from WUMB
and WAVM gathered at Maynard High to announce just such an
arrangement, under which WUMB programming will be heard on WAVM
whenever students aren't broadcasting (in practice, all day long
except for 6:30-7:30 AM and 2-9 PM weekdays and Sunday mornings during
the school year).  What's more, WAVM's talented students will now be
able to do internships at WUMB.

Of course, WAVM's application for a power upgrade to 150 watts will
still need FCC approval (against several competing religious
satellite-fed applications), but with the political firepower behind
the WAVM-WUMB deal (including Congressman Marty Meehan), we suspect
the Commission will have some answering to do if the upgrade isn't

As promising as the WAVM-WUMB compromise is, there's an even more
exciting development bridging the Charles River a few miles to the

Unlike just about every other commercial broadcaster in the
country, WJIB (740 Cambridge) owner Bob Bittner is (gasp!) a fan of
the low-power FM movement -- and this week he put his license where
his mouth is.  Starting tomorrow, Bittner is donating his Saturday
night airtime (starting at 9PM) to Allston-Brighton Free Radio, Steve
Provizer's micropower community station that's currently having a hard
time being heard on 1580 kHz with its hundred milliwatts of legal

WJIB will carry ABFR's hyper-local informational programming, shows
like "Boston's Seniors Count" and "Children's Health Connection,"
bringing them to a far wider audience (even on 740's little 5-watt
night signal!) than the 1580 transmitter can provide.  

NERW's take: In the grand scheme of American broadcasting these days,
WJIB and WUMB are themselves the "little guys."  But if they can see
community radio as something other than a threat to their very
existence, maybe Eddie Fritts and the mega-groups who support the NAB
could learn a little something, too.  

*There's still more good news to be found in the Bay State: Larry
Glick is returning to radio on a regular basis.  After paving the way
for a comeback with guest appearances on WBZ's Steve Leveille show and
on WMEX (1060 Natick), Glick has signed on with WMEX for a regular
Sunday afternoon slot.  It's only an hour -- 4 to 5 PM -- but that's
an hour more of Glick than Boston listeners have enjoyed for nearly a
decade!  (Those of us outside WMEX range can listen to the Web feed on

Not quite as exciting, but there *is* a format change of sorts to
report in the Springfield market.  WPNT (1600 East Longmeadow) drops
its simulcast of WAQY-FM (102.1) until Labor Day to become a nonstop
ad for the Six Flags amusement park.  

Boston talker WRKO (680) has a new Web site (www.wrko.com), complete
with streaming audio -- but you'd best not be in a hurry when checking
it out; even on our cable modem, this overesigned monstrosity takes
forever to load!

*Up in NEW HAMPSHIRE, there's some good news from Berlin.  Just a few
days after going silent, WMOU (1230) returned to the air last weekend
with new owners-to-be.  

Arnold Hanson Jr. and Stephen Griffin, who own a steel company in
Berlin, approached owners Bob and Gladys Powell after hearing that
WMOU was closing.  

The Berlin Daily Sun reports that while neither man has any broadcast
experience, they didn't want to lose their community's only local
radio voice.  No purchase price was announced.

Hanson and Griffin tell the Sun they plan no changes to WMOU's format
or staff -- and for once, we actually believe it!

While we're up in the northern reaches of the Granite State, we note
that the FCC has resolved a disputed FM allocation.  Veteran engineer
Dana Puopolo asked the FCC to allocate 99.1A to Whitefield, a few
miles north of Littleton, while station owner Barry Lunderville asked
the Commission to put 99.1A in Northumberland, a few miles north of
Lunderville's WXXS (102.3) in Lancaster.  The Commission favored
Puopolo's request, but hasn't yet opened a window for applications.

*A quiet week in NEW YORK, though we're hearing the possibility of
more station sales in the Hudson Valley.  It seems the FCC considers
Hudson and Catskill to be part of the Albany market, thus making Clear
Channel's proposed purchase of WHUC-WTHK Hudson and WCKL-WCTW Catskill
impossible (because of CC's already extensive Albany holdings).  The
rest of CC's proposed purchase from Straus Media, six stations further
south in the Hudson Valley, are still expected to go through as

Up north, Rick DeFranco is wrapping up his 15-year radio career in
Ogdensburg next month.  He'll leave WPAC (92.7) after his show June 30
to go full-time at WWNY (Channel 7) in Watertown, working as a
St. Lawrence County bureau reporter during the week and continuing his
current role as a weekend weatherman.

Is Rochester the worst city in America when it comes to radio
stations' Web presences?  We tried to check out the schedule of WWWG
(1460) the other day, only to be told (at http://www.wwwg1460.com)
that the date was "June 1, 100" and that the site was under
reconstruction.  Even at that, it was better than the alleged site of
WHAM (1180) (http://www.wham1180.com), which contains *no* actual
information about WHAM programming or personalities, although several
inside pages do carry "WTAM AM 1100" headings on them, straight from
the Cleveland Clear Channel station whose site apparently provided the
model for WHAM's.  (And in fairness to our Clear Channel friends, we
do hear that the WHAM site is just a place-holder now for something
much bigger to come...)

*Up in CANADA, some big changes this week for radio listeners in
Fredericton, New Brunswick: The country programming of CKHJ has moved
from 105.3 FM to the three-way simulcast (1260 Fredericton, 95.5 New
Maryland, 103.5 Oromocto) that was, until last week, hit radio CIHI
(aka "C-hi").  Replacing CKHJ on the FM side, as of Thursday morning
(6/1), is adult contemporary CFXY-FM ("105FM the Fox").  NERW wonders
whether CKHJ's country audience on FM was diluted by Saint John's
CHSJ-FM, whose 94.1 signal from Mount Champlain has been heard loud
and clear in Fredericton for two years now.  (Speaking of Saint John,
the licensee of the new community station there is the University of
New Brunswick - Saint John, not the "University of Saint John" -- that
was the CRTC's goof!)

Heading over to the Toronto suburbs, we hear that CKDX (88.5
Newmarket) has shed its year-old country format for rhythmic oldies as
"Dancin' Oldies 88-5."  To the east, CJKX (95.9 Ajax) has its new
relay, CJKX-1, up and running on 89.9 in Sunderland to serve the
northern reaches of Durham Region.

*And with that, we end this week's NERW.  See you next Friday!

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

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