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NorthEast Radio Watch 7/7 and 7/14: Saga Swallows Ithaca; We Go To Ohio

[Publisher's Note: This special double issue combines the material
that was to have appeared in the lost-for-good July 7 issue with this
week's new material.]

--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
                            July 7 & 14, 2000


*NEW YORK: Saga Buys Ithaca, AAA Grows On Long Island
*CANADA: CRTC Okays WIC Breakup, Ontario TV Duopoly
*MASSACHUSETTS: The "Voice of Sports" Falls Silent

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

*New Englanders already know the company from its clusters in Portland
and Springfield, and now Ed Christian's Michigan-based Saga
Communications is entering central NEW YORK.

Saga will pay $13.4 million to pick up four Ithaca radio stations from
Eagle Broadcasting: news-talk WHCU (870), satellite oldies WTKO
(1470), AC WYXL (97.3), and country WQNY (103.7).  A quick check of
the most recent (Fall) Arbitrons shows Eagle's four stations with a
total market share of 40.1% among listeners 12 and older; we'd expect
to see this one flagged by the FCC for market-concentration review.
(The only major in-market competition to the Eagle group comes from
Citadel's WIII Cortland and from WVBR Ithaca, run by Cornell students
as a commercial operation).

Meanwhile out on Long Island's East End, Peter Ottmar's AAA
Entertainment is also growing.  AAA will pay $2.7 million to buy soft
AC WBAZ (101.7 Southold) and AC WBSQ (102.5 Southampton) from MAK
Communications.  The stations will join AAA's existing WEHM (96.7 East
Hampton) and WBEA (104.7 Montauk) in the cluster.  

While we're out in the neighborhood: M Street reports that silent WFOG
(1570 Riverhead) will return to the air around the end of the year.
Arthur Liu's WNYG (1440 Babylon) isn't going silent after all; instead
of turning it off to improve the signal of co-owned WNSW (1430 Newark
NJ), Liu's Multicultural Broadcasting is now running WNYG as a
student-operated CHR outlet and training ground.  And big
congratulations go to J.J. Rice, who's adding new duties to his
current job as PD of Cox's WBLI (106.1 Patchogue).  Rice is now Cox's
top-40 programming coordinator -- and to think NERW knew him when he
was just a humble night jock at 98PXY here in Rochester...

Or maybe it was J.J.'s brief stint as PD at WWHT (107.9 Syracuse);
after all, another former Hot 107.9 PD is moving on up this week.
Tommy Frank is headed to Infinity in Cincinnati, to be PD at WKRQ
(101.9), where he'll get to wage the CHR war with Clear Channel on the
other side of the corporate fence.

Albany's Point (WCPT 100.9) is again looking for a morning host; Kevin
Hilley (ex-WJYY Concord NH) is out after a short stay on Dennis
Terrace.  No word yet on his next gig...

Up north, the FCC has allocated two new channels in the Plattsburgh
area.  John Bulmer and Dannemora Broadcasting both wanted 97.9A added
to the dial; the FCC preferred Dannemora's suggestion of the town of
Dannemora as community of license to Bulmer's proposed Keeseville.
(And yes, either way it's short-spaced to CHOM 97.7 Montreal just an
hour away!).  Over by Lake Placid, 97.1A gets allocated to Minerva
NY.  No filing windows yet for either; they're caught up in the FM

We hear religious WWJS (90.1 Watertown) is on the air; we'll be
passing through that area in just a few weeks and we'll let you know.

News from the southern tier: Modern rock on AM is now just a memory in
the Binghamton area.  Word has it that WEBO (1330 Owego) has swept
"The Web" away in favor of adult standards (already heard in the area
on Binghamton's WINR 680 and WKOP 1360) from the satellite.  We'll
admit that we never heard a jock -- or for that matter, a paid spot --
on WEBO.  We'll admit that we may have been the station's only
listener.  We'll still miss it...all five liners and legal ID.

SUNY Alfred's WETD (90.9) wants to change frequency to 90.7 and boost
power from its current 360 watts.  (Just how much we won't know until
the FCC's nearly-useless CDBS database gets caught up with month-old

And don't look for WCQA (96.5 Fredonia) to be moving any closer to
Jamestown after all.  The station asked the FCC to dismiss its
proposal to change city of license to the Jamestown suburb of

*Across the border, the big story in CANADA is the CRTC's approval of
the breakup and sale of the WIC group, until now one of Canada's
largest broadcasters. 

WIC will be split into three parts, with its Cancom satellite arm
going to Shaw and its radio division and cable-TV networks going to
Shaw spinoff Corus.  (That includes Toronto's "Talk 640" CHOG and
"Q107" CILQ, as well as Hamilton's CHML 900 and CJXY "Y95".)

The real fireworks, though, come with the sale of WIC's broadcast
television arm, most of which will end up in the hands of CanWest
Global, the group that's spent the last decade or so creating a nearly
coast-to-coast collection of TV stations operating under the "Global"

The addition of the WIC stations in Alberta will close that chain
(though it will still leave Global without a Newfoundland outlet), but
that's not the really interesting part of this deal.  *That* comes in
the markets where CanWest and WIC both hold stations, and in the
CRTC's decision to pull back from its usual "one-to-an-owner" stance.

We'll start out west in British Columbia, where CanWest will spin off
its existing Global outlet, CKVU (Channel 10) Vancouver in order to be
allowed to buy WIC's stations.  The flagship there is "BCTV," the
province-wide network anchored at Vancouver's CHAN (Channel 8) -- but
the CRTC says CanWest can also continue to own longtime BCTV sister
station CHEK (Channel 6) over in Victoria.  The duopoly comes at a
price, though: CHEK will have to drop much of its simulcast with BCTV,
beef up local news coverage, and replace most of its US-derived fare
with Canadian originals.  

(The sale will also trigger a switch in network affiliations, as BCTV
drops its CTV affiliation, which will go to CTV-owned CIVT Vancouver,
operating until now as an independent.  BCTV will pick up Global from
CKVU.  And rumor has it that CKVU will be sold to the CHUM Group,
which was also granted a new Victoria-Vancouver license -- channels 53
and 17 respectively -- this week.  NERW suspects that CKVU will go to
a Citytv-style format, perhaps with the CITT calls, while the new
Victoria licensee, to be CIVI, will emulate CHUM Group's "New VR" and
its sister stations in Ontario.)

The CRTC also set conditions in Ontario, where CanWest will continue to
own the province-wide Global service seen over a network of CIII
transmitters from Windsor to Ottawa.  In adding WIC's CHCH (Channel
11) in Hamilton, as well as its relays around the province, CanWest
will have to commit to a huge increase in local news (20 extra hours a
week) and a reduction in the use of US programming.

And in Quebec, the CRTC ruled that WIC will have to sell its interest
in CTV affiliate CFCF (Channel 12) Montreal separately, as well as its
interest in multicultural CJNT (Channel 62), which Global has again
applied to purchase.  (Global already serves Quebec from CKMI Quebec
City and its relays in Sherbrooke and Montreal.)

A couple of additional Canadian notes before returning stateside: The
1220 frequency is about to return to the airwaves in Cornwall,
Ontario.  CJSS vacated that facility last year to move to 101.9 FM,
but owner Tri-Co took advantage of radio duopoly rules to apply for a
"new" outlet on 1220, which was granted this week.  The new station
will use a nostalgia format, sharing news programming with CJSS-FM and
Tri-Co's CFLG (104.5 Cornwall).

Just to the north in Hawkesbury, on the Quebec line, CIMF (94.9 Hull)
has been granted a relay on 107.7, with 1850 watts.

And say goodbye to CKFL (1400) in Lac Megantic, Quebec; it was granted a
move to FM, with 5 kilowatts ERP on 106.7.

*Back to the U.S. we go, landing first in Down East MAINE, where we're
told WAKN (97.7 Winter Harbor) made its debut this week.  For now, the
station is rebroadcasting the rock sounds of sister WMDI (107.7 Bar
Harbor); it's not clear whether that's permanent or not.

We also hear WREM (710 Monticello) has again gone silent.

And we see that Portland's UPN affiliate, WPME (Channel 35) Lewiston,
is being sold from New England Television to KB Prime Media; we're not
clear yet on whether or not this creates a formal duopoly with LMA
partner WPXT (Channel 51) Portland.

*Over in NEW HAMPSHIRE, Bruce James' Vermont Broadcast Associates
replaces its LMA of WMTK (106.3 Littleton) with a purchase.  No word
yet on how much White Mountain FM gets for the station, which joins
James' WGMT Lyndon VT and WSTJ-WKXH St. Johnsbury VT in the group.

*Speaking of VERMONT, some good news for John Bulmer's WWFY (100.9
Middlebury); it's been granted a move to Berlin and a power increase
to 5200 watts at 718 feet AAT from a new tower site near Montpelier.
With its new C3 signal, expect WWFY to become a player in the
Barre-Montpelier market.

*Down to MASSACHUSETTS we go, then, with a bit of news that ends up
being far less exciting than the headline might suggest.  Yes,
ABC/Disney is finally buying in Boston -- but it's not the
long-predicted (well, in some newsgroups, anyway) buyout of WCVB or
WRKO.  No, it's just ABC exercising its option to buy Hibernia
Broadcasting and its chain of Radio Disney outlets, including Boston's
WMKI (1260), Rhode Island's WHRC (1450 West Warwick), and
Connecticut's WDZK (1550 Bloomfield).  No price has been announced yet
for the deal, and for once we believe ABC when it parrots the "no
changes to format or staff are planned" line.

Live programming finally hit the airwaves at "Hot 97-7" (WBOT
Brockton) at the end of June.  Radio One's Russ Parr morning show
arrives by satellite from WKYS (93.9 Washington DC), joined by Cherry
Martinez (of sister station WILD 1090) middays, Chuck Dogg (of WJLB
Detroit) afternoons, and Lamar (Lil' Big Daddy) Robinson of sister
Radio One outlet WERQ (92.3 Baltimore) at night.  WBOT and WILD were
both knocked off the air last weekend, we're told, by the same power
outage that claimed the July 7 issue of NERW.

WBZ (1030) was also off the air one night last week -- but the
Independence Day outage was planned.  We're told the station took both
its Hull transmitter plant and its Allston backup facility off the air
to complete tuning work on the rebuilt Hull towers, and we're told
it's the last time 1030 will be silent on purpose for many years to
come.  (Anyone nab any good DX?)

Radio People On The Move: After just a few months, Rob Walker exits
the PD chair at WXLO (104.5 Fitchburg) amidst changes at Citadel's
Worcester cluster.  Pete Falconi becomes the group's operations
manager, handling PD duties for WORC-FM, WWFX, and WCAT-AM/FM, while
Walker's former assistant PD, Amy Navarro, takes interim PD stripes at
WXLO.  Dave Faneuf returns to Boston from his successful
revitalization of the WCAP (980 Lowell) newsroom, joining WBUR-FM
(90.9) to do nightside news duties.  WCAP opens the search for a new
news director as a result (and no, your editor has no intention of
going back!)  Down in Houston, Joe Martelle's contract isn't being
renewed as his station, KLDE, moves from 94.5 to 107.5...could
Martelle return to his old stomping ground in Boston once he recovers
from his health problems?  Another Boston veteran, Bruce Bradley, is
returning to the air in St. Louis after a few years away from the
mike.  Bradley will be doing weekends on KTRS (550), the station that
seems to end up with everyone who once worked across town at KMOX.
And we're told WMVY on Martha's Vineyard is looking for a morning host
and a news director -- more info at the station's Web site,

Finally, we note the passing of veteran sportscaster Leo Egan, who
started at WBZ in 1946 and ended his career almost 30 years later
across town at WHDH.  Egan died Monday (7/10) in Plymouth; he was 86.

*One bit of RHODE ISLAND news: Boston University has been granted a
license for a Newport translator, W218BO (91.5).  Wonder if BU will
try to get a waiver to allow W218BO to relay the Rhode Island-based
programming of WRNI (1290 Providence) instead of Boston's WBUR-FM

*The moving vans are rolling in CONNECTICUT: Cox's WPLR (99.1 New
Haven) was slated to begin broadcasting from its new home at 440
Wheeler's Farm Road in Milford today (7/14) at 3, with WEZN (99.9
Bridgeport) following in a week.  

*Just over the state line from NERW-land, a news item to
report from PENNSYLVANIA: We're told WPZX (105.9 Pocono Pines) hit the
air in late June, relaying the classic rock of Scranton's WEZX

*And as long as we're venturing out of NERW territory, let's recap the
most recent trip we've been on, our late June excursion to northeast

We began on the far east side of Cleveland, where we had a chance to
check out the broadcast scene (such as it was) in rural Lake County.
Our hotel was conveniently near the four towers of Willoughby's "Star
1330," WELW, which spent the weekend doing a very local-sounding AC
format (and signed off nightly at midnight to boot!).  Just down the
road in Painesville was another local AC, WBKC (1460), with a little
building at the end of a painfully rutted road.  Having thus seen the
entire Lake County radio dial, the NERWmobile (complete with rebuilt
alternator) moved south to Geauga County and little WATJ (1560
Chardon), cranking out adult standards from its directional array
south of town.  The other broadcast facility in Geauga County is
actually a Cleveland-licensed station, WENZ (107.9), now aiming at the
urban market under Radio One ownership as "Z-107.9" (and, judging by
the ratings, doing a good job of it despite the remote transmitter

Cleveland itself was a familiar market to NERW, but we picked up a few
changes since our last visit a year or so ago.  In addition to Z-107.9
replacing the modern rock of "The End," Clear Channel's ubiquitous
"Kiss" format arrived in town last year on the extreme rimshot of WAKS
(104.9 Lorain).  Kiss may be listenable on the west side, but we were
having trouble getting it downtown (even on a west-facing upper deck
of Jacobs Field), never mind out on the east side where it gets
clobbered by 104.7 from the Ashtabula market (WKKY Geneva).  Not that
we minded; we can hear the same format in Rochester on WKGS...

We took advantage of a free Friday afternoon to visit the transmitter
cluster south of Cleveland in the Seven Hills/Parma/Independence
area, roughly straddling the rise of land between I-71 and I-77.  Our
trip started at the multi-tower site shared by WKYC (Channel 3/NBC),
WOIO (Channel 19/CBS), WQHS (Channel 61/HSN), and on FM, oldies WMJI
(105.7) and soft AC WDOK (102.1).  From there, we headed west to a
group of towers lining route 94, starting with the short stick of
public radio WCPN (90.3) next to a school on the east side of the
road.  Across the street are the towers of country WGAR (99.5), ABC
affiliate WEWS (Channel 5 -- with a nifty roadside sign!), and UPN
affiliate WUAB (Channel 43), shared with hot AC WQAL (104.1) and Clear
Channel's "Mix" WMVX (106.5).  

Just a bit farther south, at the corner of Pleasant Valley Road, is
the stick that's now WJW (Channel 8/Fox), but was once both the
transmitter and studio site of DuMont affiliate WXEL-TV on channel 9.

A short trip west on Pleasant Valley and then south on Ohio 3 brought
us to the picturesque site shared by Radio One leased-time talker WERE
(1300), with three big self-supporting towers; classic rocker WNCX
(98.5); and public TV WVIZ (Channel 25).  Another few miles to the
southwest put us alongside the Ohio Turnpike, near the four sticks of
Salem's Christian contemporary WCCD (1000 Parma).  From there we
turned east again on Ohio 82 to the center of North Royalton, where we
found the new six-tower, 50 kilowatt WRMR (850) pumping out the adult
standards next door to a cemetery (shades of WWSW?)

Continuing east on 82 to Broadview Road and turning south brought the
NERW-mobile to rest alongside the four towers and studio of WKNR
(1220), which is still sports for now but is being sold again.  This
was the historic site of WGAR(AM), but the building looked to have
been heavily renovated.

Passing the studio and tower of Moody's religious WCRF (103.3) on Barr
Road and crossing I-77 next to the four towers of Radio Disney WWMK
(1260), we arrived on Snowville Road to gaze at Cleveland's only I-A
clear channel, the mighty single stick of WTAM (1100).  The original
WTAM transmitter building appeared to have been renovated sometime in
the seventies and is now home to an engineering firm; a newer building
near the base of the tower appeared to hold the transmitters for WTAM,
urban WZAK (93.1), and UPN affiliate WBNX (Channel 55 -- though its
stick may have moved to the WKYC site, if the FCC database is to be

Returning to Cleveland via I-77, we hopped off at the Pleasant Valley
Road exit to see the towers for rocker WMMS (100.7) and religious WHK
(1420), amidst a suburban development a few hundred feet off the road.

A few more Cleveland sites completed our tour: gospel WJMO (1490
Cleveland Heights) off Euclid Avenue at East 118th Street (behind a
bus stop), and the single tower of daytimer WABQ (1540) next to a
church at 8000 Euclid.  Finally, heading down to our next destination
of Youngstown, we saw the self-supporting tower of jammin' oldies WZJM
(92.3 Cleveland Heights) and classical WCLV (95.5), above the new WCLV
studios alongside I-271.

As for Youngstown, we'd seen the big sticks during a previous rainy
excursion a couple of years ago, so this was a catch-up trip to see
some of the smaller towers and view firsthand the effects of

We started downtown, at the apparently once-majestic studios of
WFMJ-TV (Channel 21), now mired amidst the shuttered storefronts of
depressed central Youngstown.  Just like the city's business community
has apparently done, we soon fled south to Boardman, passing the WFMJ
tower, the stick of WBBG (93.3)/WBBW (1240), and the WKBN-TV (Channel
27) towers, not to mention the studio/tower of WYTV (Channel 33) on
Shady Run Road, before arriving at WHOT-FM (101.1) on Simon Road.
Where WHOT once sat in solitude, the Simon Road complex is now home to
most of the Connoisseur group (being swallowed by Cumulus Media).  CHR
WHOT-FM (101.1), classic rock WYFM (102.9 Sharon PA), sports WBBW
(1240), and country WQKX (105.1 Salem) all share the two-building

Heading south down South Road, we arrived at the former restaurant
that's now home to Clear Channel's Youngstown group: news-talk WKBN
(570), standards WNIO (1390), oldies WBBG (93.3, with a diverse mix of
oldies that pleased Mrs. NERW as we drove around town), country WICT
(95.1 Grove City PA), modern AC WTNX (95.9 Sharpsville PA), "Mix" WMXY
(98.9), rhythmic CHR WBTJ (101.9 Hubbard), and classic rock simulcast
WNCD (106.1 Niles)/WRTK (1540 Niles).  (And for all that, we left with
a grudgingly-given collection of four bumper stickers -- one each for

Still more driving to the south brought us to WKBN's majestic
six-tower array, and just beyond that, the night site of talker WASN
(1330 Campbell).  We'd seen the WASN day site at the Campbell studios
on the 1998 trip; the four-in-a-row night facility sits close enough
to the WKBN towers to look like a big Canadian directional from the
proper angle.

(We also made a detour to the south and east, to see the two towers of
Cumulus adult-standards WSOM 600 Salem, the very tall stick of public
TV WNEO 45 Alliance [on the Salem-Alliance Road, US 62, about halfway
between Canton and Youngstown], and to hear the rather bizarre CHR mix
of WZKL 92.5 Alliance while meeting some radio friends for Mexican

Back to the north, then: We drove through Niles (birthplace of William
McKinley), then south of Warren to see urban WRBP 1440 (four towers at
a site that had seen better days) and religious WANR 1570 (a station
that's definitely known more interesting incarnations).  North of
Warren, we found the tower of WNCD 106.1 before heading far to the
north to see the single stick of WKTX 830 Cortland, an unusual blend
of oldies and ethnic programming.  

Turning south again and heading for the border with Pennsylvania, we
drove past the short stick of WTNX before arriving at the four towers
of religious WPAO (1470 Farrell PA), hidden among the trees
overlooking State Line Road.