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Fwd: NorthEast Radio Watch 7/21: An End to Jukebox's Legal Troubles

What if they bought the WMTW radio group (WMWX, WLAM, WLAM-FM, WTHT and WZOU) 
and J.J. Jeffrey's growing group (WCLZ, WRED, WJAE, WJJB, WLOB, WLOB-FM and 
WRUM)?  I don't think either group is on the market, but if Clear Channel 
wants to offer double what the stations recently sold for (like they did in 
Bangor), I think the owners would be willing to talk.  Another Portland 
signal is 105.9 WBCI Bath (formerkly WIGY).  The current owner is making 
money with religion, but at the right price anything can be had.  If they 
wanted to throw money at Bob, they might even be able to add the mighty 730 
to the group.

Speaking of group owners: what's up with Cumulus?  They had major finanvial 
problems and the stock took a big tumble earlier this year, but I haven't 
heard anything recently.  Have they righted the ship or are they on the 
block?  Cumulus is a major player in the Augusta and Bangor markets.

-- Dan Billings, Bowdoinham, Maine

In a message dated 7/21/00 9:43:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
fybush@world.std.com writes:

<< Down in Portland (where Clear Channel would have a hard time building
 a cluster unless it buys the existing Saga or Citadel groups) >>

--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
                             July 21, 2000


*NEW YORK: Jukebox Wins at the FCC
*MAINE: Clear Channel Enters Bangor
*RHODE ISLAND: A Heritage Callsign Returns

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

*For almost a decade now, we've been following the progress of Gerald
Turro as he attempts to find a way to use his Fort Lee,
N.J. translator W276AQ (103.1) to serve its own city of license.   

Now, just as the FCC gets ready to issue the first LPFM licenses, the
commission has returned a final ruling on the legality of Turro's
current operation of the adult standards outlet known as "Jukebox Radio."

Some history, first: W276AQ, which serves northern Manhattan and
Bergen County from atop the Mediterranean Towers apartments
overlooking the Hudson, began as a translator of WPST (97.5 Trenton)
in the mid-eighties.  For a few years, it switched to WALK-FM (97.5
Patchogue), and then WKXW (101.5 Trenton), until Turro found a way to
do his own programming. 

Buying a tiny (8-watt) noncomm FM 40 miles away in Franklin Lakes,
Turro changed its calls from WRRH to WJUX, and began programming it
with oldies as "Jukebox Radio."  Since the FCC allows noncommercial
stations to own their own translators even in areas outside their
protected contours, Turro was able to operate WJUX (88.7) and W276AQ
from studios in Dumont, N.J., feeding the translator via a microwave
station, WMG-499.

The drawback to being noncommercial, of course, was that it was hard
to make money on the station...and that's where things started to get

In 1994, a friend of Turro's, Wesley Weis, acquired the construction
permit for WXTM (99.7) in Monticello, N.Y., about 100 miles away from
Fort Lee.  Once WXTM signed on that fall, it began running the
"Jukebox Radio" format from Dumont under a time-brokerage agreement
with Turro -- and W276AQ (along with another translator, W232AL on
94.3 in Pomona, N.Y.) became a WXTM translator.  (WXTM changed its
calls to WJUX in early 1995, after the Franklin Lakes station was shut

Almost immediately, Universal Radio (licensee of rival Bergen County
outlet WVNJ 1160 Oakland) complained to the FCC about the arrangement,
claiming that Turro was in fact controlling the operations of the
primary WJUX outlet (a violation of FCC rules), and that the Fort Lee
translator was receiving programming directly from Dumont via WMG-499
instead of over the air from WJUX (or from W232AL in between).  

At first, things looked pretty bad for Turro.  An FCC inspection of
WJUX's "main studio" (a rented production room in the studio building
of WVOS AM-FM Liberty N.Y.) suggested that the only way to put the
main studio on the air instead of the Dumont feed was to travel to the
99.7 transmitter 15 miles away and switch cables in a patch bay.  The
FCC inspector then visited Fort Lee with a half-watt transmitter,
which he fired up on 94.3 (the W232AL frequency), 99.7 (the WJUX
frequency), and 951 MHz (the WMG-499 input frequency) -- only to find
that the only one that shut off the output audio on 103.1 was the 951
MHz test.

Case closed?  Not hardly.  Last August, following a hearing to
determine whether Turro was obeying the translator rules and whether
Weis' Monticello Mountaintop Broadcasting (MMBI) was a fit licensee
for WJUX, Administrative Law Judge Arthur Steinberg ruled that
everything was in fact being run by the books.  

On Turro's end, Steinberg agreed with the unusual explanations offered
for the results of the FCC experiments.  Turro said WMG-499 did have
an audio input to the transmitter, but that it was mainly used for
telemetry to control the 103.1 transmitter.  He claimed to have wired
a "fail-safe" that would switch programming to the microwave audio
feed if the telemetry feed was disrupted -- which, he argues, is
exactly what happened when the FCC transmitter fired up at 951 MHz.
Turro also claimed that he had found a "hot spot" on the roof at Fort
Lee in which the WJUX signal could be clearly heard, despite
first-adjacent WBAI (99.5 New York) just across the river.  (NERW's
own experiments this past spring proved, at least to our satisfaction,
that it *is* possible to hear the WJUX signal fairly reliably at the
W232AL site in Rockland County, and since we also heard W276AQ while
parked at the base of the W232AL tower, we're willing to believe the
reverse is true as well.)

[Steinberg did conclude that Turro had no authority to use WMG-499 in
the way he did, but the point was moot already, since the WMG-499
license had been returned to the FCC in late 1995.]

As for Weis and MMBI, Steinberg found that the management presence at
the WJUX "main studio" (two staffers who worked full-time for WVOS)
was sufficient; that the public affairs broadcasts on WJUX
(time-shifted repeats of WVOS' talk shows) met the public service
requirements; and that Weis, not Turro, controlled the finances and
operations of WJUX.  (Turro paid a monthly fee of anywhere from $3600
to $8500 for the airtime of WJUX, which Steinberg found acceptable as
a traditional time-brokerage deal).

This week, the full Commission upheld Steinberg's findings, finally
removing the last questions about whether the translator/primary
relationship is legal.

"We knew when we left the courtroom that we had won this thing," Turro
tells NERW.  

*Elsewhere in NEW YORK, we hear WKDM (1380 New York) is silent for the
moment, while new owner Mega gets ready to install a Spanish-language
all-news format.  The rumor mill over at Dave Hughes' "DCRTV" site has
been buzzing for weeks with the suggestion that the WNNY calls
recently installed at the former WINX (1600 Rockville MD) will migrate
up to New York as part of the Mega-Multicultural swap involving both
stations....stay tuned.

Upstate, Ed Levine's Galaxy group is adding another Syracuse outlet.
Levine already has three formats running in Central New York: modern
rock (WKRL North Syracuse, WKRH Minetto, WKLL Frankfort), standards
(WTLA North Syracuse, WSGO Oswego, WTLB Utica), and classic rock (WTKW
Bridgeport, WTKV Oswego, WRCK Utica), and now he's adding urban with
the purchase of WRDS (102.1 Phoenix).  Robert Short walks away with
$3.75 million from the sale of his only station...and the rumors start
flying about a format change at WRDS.

Two deals that won't happen: Citadel and Titus Broadcasting have
dropped their plans to swap frequencies in Binghamton, where Titus was
to have given up the 680 kHz home of its WINR in exchange for the
lesser 1360 kHz facility of Citadel's WKOP.  (The WKOP format would
then have moved to Citadel's 1290 signal, displacing news-talk WNBF to
680.)  The FCC has also dismissed the transfer of WKPQ (105.3) and
WHHO (1320) in Hornell from Bilbat Radio to "Hornell Radio," which we
believe to be the name Sabre Communications was using for its purchase
of the two stations.

One deal that is happening: The Justice Department approved the
mammoth Clear Channel-AMFM merger this week, and with that approval
comes a surprise: Only 99 stations have to be spun off, not the
expected 110.  Among them, it seems, is WTRY (980 Troy) -- which is
why the proposed transfer from AMFM to Concord Media Group has been
cancelled.  Expect this one to stay with the new Clear Channel

A quick overnight trip to the Finger Lakes this week turned up a lot
of satellite programming, which we expected...as well as a format
change we hadn't noticed: WENY (1230 Elmira) has dropped talk for
satellite oldies under its new ownership.

An hour away in the Binghamton market, soft AC WLTB (101.7) just won
FCC approval to change community of license (from Owego to Johnson
City) and tower site (from a hill near Owego, 20 miles west of
Binghamton, to the WIVT-TV site on Ingraham Hill with the rest of the
Binghamton FMs).  That's precisely the location of WLTB's current
translator, W273AB (102.5), which we assume will disappear eventually.
The folks at WLTB tell NERW they hope to be broadcasting from the new 
site by the first week of September.

WLTB's former sister station, WEBO (1330 Owego), doesn't seem to be
going adult standards after all.  Instead, we're told the station is
mixing jazz with news/talk and other block programming.

Clarifying a few points from last week: The new FM allocation for
Minerva, near Lake Placid, will be 100.7, not 97.1.  Expect religion
there; Bible Broadcasting Network is the petitioner asking for the
channel.  And we now know where Kevin Hilley is headed after his short
stint at Albany's WCPT: He tells NERW he's taking the morning shift at
modern AC WCZT (94.3 Avalon NJ) in the Atlantic City market.

Looking for some Rochester radio history?  WHAM (1180)
jack-of-all-trades Allan Harris checked in to alert us to his new Web
site, <http://www.aharris1180.com>.  On it, you'll find a very nice
set of pages detailing WHAM's nearly eighty years of service to the
region.  (Hey Allan...we have some photos we know you'll love!)
Much of the rest of the market is, of course, documented right here at
the Upstate New York Radio Archives,
<http://www.bostonradio.org/radio/nyradio.html>, so give that a try
too if you haven't visited in a while.

Some radio people on the move in the Buffalo market: Jennifer Roth
returns to her old job as GM of public radio WBFO (88.7) after a brief
stint in the same position in the Twin Cities (at WCAL 89.3 Northfield
MN).  Roth headed WBFO from 1990 until her departure last year.
Across town at "Oldies 104" (WHTT 104.1), Tom Schuh is out as PD,
replaced by Buffalo veteran Jim Pastrick.  His last gig was as PD of
WGR (550) before Entercom flipped that station to all-sports.  Up in
the Watertown market, Joe Munroe leaves his position as PD/afternoon
guy at active rock WOTT (100.7 Henderson) to head to Richmond, Virginia
and mornings at WDYL (101.1).

And up in Lockport, little WLVL (1340) is moving to an adult standards
format, though the overnight talk with Joey Reynolds will remain.

*On to MAINE we go, where Communications Capital Managers is cashing
out of the Bangor market after a very profitable stay of just a few
months.  CCM put together a group that includes hot AC WKSQ (94.5
Ellsworth), country WLKE (99.1 Bar Harbor), AAA WBYA (101.7
Searsport), oldies WGUY (102.1 Dexter), talk WVOM (103.9 Howland), and
country WBFB (104.7 Belfast), for a total price (from three separate
owners) of $10.2 million.  This week, CCM announced it's selling the
group to Clear Channel for an even $20 million.  It's Lowry Mays'
first venture into the Pine Tree State.  

Down in Portland (where Clear Channel would have a hard time building
a cluster unless it buys the existing Saga or Citadel groups), there's
a change of cast on the WGAN (560) morning show.  Jim Crocker stays,
but Willy Ritch leaves, replaced by Mike McCardell.  Never heard of
him?  That's because he's a former salesman who was "discovered" by
WGAN management after he became a regular caller to the show.  (NERW
wonders: in the absence of small-market radio to develop new talent,
is this the wave of the future?)

Just down the hallway at 420 Western Ave., there's also a change of
cast on WMGX (93.1)'s morning show.  After a year as Tim Wright's
co-host, we hear Heather McGregor is out, replaced by Liz Borden from
Milwaukee's WLZR (102.9).  McGregor replaced Lori Voornas last year
after Voornas switched allegiances to Citadel and WTPN (98.9

Up north, we're told WREM (710 Monticello) is still on the air with a
rock format after all...and we see WREM's former sister station, WEGP
(1390 Presque Isle), is being sold from Star Radio Company to
Decelle/Smith Media.  More on this one next week...

*Over in NEW HAMPSHIRE, we hear WMWV (93.5 Conway) PD George Cleveland
is leaving his longtime post to run a seniors' center; no word yet on
a replacement.  (Anybody know if WMWV's sister station, WBNC 1050, is
back on, by the way?)

*The big news from MASSACHUSETTS this week comes from the western end
of the state, where WPVQ (93.9 Turners Falls) is changing hands -- but
it's all within the family.  Founders Bob Shotwell and Glenn Cardinal
put the station on the air together as "Cardwell Broadcasting"; now
it's being transferred to "Great Northern Radio," aka Vox, making for
a nice pairing with WRSI (95.3) in nearby Greenfield.  Shotwell,
Cardinal, and the rest of the staff stay on board, so this time it
looks like the "no changes planned" line may actually have some

Speaking of sales, we now have a price to go with ABC's purchase of
Hibernia's Radio Disney outlets (including WMKI Boston, WHRC in Rhode
Island, and WDZK in Connecticut): $19.8 million total.

The spring 2000 Arbitrons are out for Boston, and (at least on the 12+
front) they don't look terribly promising for Greater Media's new talk
entry.  WTKK (96.9) barely budged from its initial winter showing,
still last among the big Boston signals (edged just barely by AAA
sister WBOS).  The news was a bit better for Radio One's WBOT (97.7
Brockton), which cracked a 2 share 12+ in its second Boston book, not
to mention showing a bit in the Providence numbers -- still without
live jocks!  (We'll know when the summer book comes out how WBOT does
as a full-fledged station.)  The top five remain unchanged: WBZ,

Where are they now?  We hear former WRKO (680) PD Kevin Straley is now
with soon-to-debut XM, the satellite radio folks, as PD of their talk
format.  Also joining XM is former WBCN'er Mark Parenteau, who'll be
PD of the comedy service when XM launches this fall.  And remember
Tory Gates, erstwhile second-in-command at Bob Bittner's WJIB (740
Cambridge) and WJTO (730 Bath ME)?  He checked in to let us know he's
now half of the morning team at WCOJ (1420 Coatesville PA).  (From our
Useless Radio Trivia Dept: WCOJ was the first radio stop in the career
of Bob Ames, later of WEEI, WBZ, and WBUR.)

*From RHODE ISLAND comes word that "The Buzz," Pawtucket's AM 550,
won't be using the WBZU calls for which it applied last month.
Instead, the station formerly known as WLKW has gone back to an old
callsign: WICE.  Those calls began at Providence's AM 1290 (later WRCP
and now WRNI), but lived on 550 from 1985 until 1995, when it became
WPNW and then WLKW.  Nice to have them back in the Ocean State...and
we wonder when or if the WLKW calls (which themselves have a long
history on Providence's AM 990 and FM 101.5) will find their way back
on the dial.

*There's a new PD on the way to CONNECTICUT, filling Dave Hill's
vacancy at modern rocker WMRQ (104.1 Waterbury).  Todd Thomas heads
south from the PD chair at WGIR-FM (101.1 Manchester NH) to take the
post at Radio 104.

*A quiet week in VERMONT, it seems (unless you think WLFE(FM) St. Albans
becoming WLFE-FM is big news)...and also for the most part in
CANADA, though we'll note that the WIC radio spinoffs that we
mentioned last week actually create a bigger group around Toronto than
we'd mentioned.  That's because new owner Corus already has the former
Power Broadcasting stations in Quebec and Ontario, including country
CKDO (1350) and modern AC CKGE (94.9) in Oshawa, just east of Toronto,
and CHR CING (107.9) in Burlington, between Toronto (where Corus gets
WIC's CFYI 640 and CILQ "Q107") and Hamilton (where Corus gets WIC's
CHML 900 and CJXY "Y95").  Corus also has the former Power stations in
Kingston, Peterborough, Barrie, Guelph, and London/Woodstock.

*Finally this week, a few corrections to the Ohio trip we recounted
last week: As several alert readers pointed out, the WERE (1300) site
actually has four self-supporting towers along with the WVIZ/WNCX
stick, while both WKNR (1220) and WWMK (1260) have five towers each.
To those who asked about WRMR (850): it is indeed the same site as
the former 5 kW operation (ex-WJW), but the towers look new.  And did
things ever change in Youngstown after we left!  Clear Channel no
longer operates WBTJ (101.9 Hubbard); its programming (rhythmic CHR)
moved to 95.9 Sharpsville PA, along with the calls, thus displacing
modern AC WTNX.  101.9's former owners have taken the station back,
restored the old WRBP calls, and are running an R&B oldies format.
Down at 1440 in Warren, where the WRBP calls and format had been
parked for the last few years, there's also a new owner, as the
station is sold to cross-town talker WASN (1330 Campbell).  New calls
there are the old WRRO (which means, we guess, that 93.7 Addison VT
will become WRRO-FM officially -- though none of these changes have
made the FCC database yet).  It's interesting to see history repeating
itself down there...and perhaps a return trip will be in order once
all these changes have sorted themselves out.

*That's it for another week; we'll see you next Friday!

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

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