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NorthEast Radio Watch 10/9: Aurora/Nassau Deal Off; We Visit(ed) Ohio
--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
October 9, 2000
IN THIS ISSUE:
*NEW YORK/CONNECTICUT: Aurora to Nassau - Deal's Off!
*MASSACHUSETTS: Calococci, Radio One Part Ways
*NERW Visits Western PA and Ohio
-----------------------------by Scott Fybush-----------------------------
*Six months after announcing its $185 million purchase of Aurora's
cluster of nine stations in suburban New York City and Connecticut
(NERW, 3/31/00), Nassau Broadcasting received a letter from Aurora
this week saying the deal is off.
A withdrawn IPO stalled Nassau's attempts to finance the purchase, and
while the company announced a few weeks ago that it would attempt to
find private financing, Aurora says the previously-agreed deadline
for closing the sale has passed.
Aurora gets to keep Nassau's $7 million deposit, and Nassau officials
are telling industry newsletters that they'll try to find a way to
revive the deal somehow.
The stations involved: WICC/WEBE in Bridgeport, WRKI/WINE/WPUT/WAXB in
the Danbury market, and WFAS AM-FM/WFAF in Westchester.
Meanwhile, Nassau announced a change in another pending sale. While
the company still plans to add WEEX (1230) and WODE (99.9) in Easton,
PA to its cluster, it's reworking the way in which Clear Channel will
spin off the two stations. Instead of Nassau paying $30 million cash,
it will pay $12 million and give Clear Channel four stations in
northwestern New Jersey: WNNJ (1360 Newton), WNNJ-FM (103.7 Newton),
WSUS (102.3 Franklin), and WHCY (106.3 Blairstown). Nassau also LMAs
its WTSX (96.7) and dark WDLC (1490) in Port Jervis NY to Clear
Channel, with an option for Clear Channel to buy the stations.
*Elsewhere in the region: a change of programmers at MASSACHUSETTS'
newest urban station this week, as Tom Calococci parts ways with Radio
One. Calococci was the company's VP for programming and PD of WBOT
(97.7 Brockton); he says he's looking at some other opportunities now,
and no replacement has been named at WBOT.
There's a new music director at WQSX (93.7 Lawrence-Boston); overnight
guy Rob Taylor gets to add the title at "Star," just a few months
after moving north from Providence's WPRO-FM.
Congratulations (and welcome!) to John "Hutch" Hutchinson. The
WPLM-FM (99.1) jock, who also does part-time work at WBOS and WROR,
became a US citizen this week. (Just don't lose the accent, Hutch!)
*Around New England...CONNECTICUT's WLAD (800 Danbury) is looking for
a new news director, as Lisa Romanello moves on up to anchor work at
New York's WOR (710). Over in Hartford, WTIC-FM (96.5) adds the
syndicated "Loveline" at night. Former RHODE ISLAND PD Bill Weston
lands in Richmond, Virginia as PD of WKLR (96.5 Fort Lee). Who's the
Daniel Priestly who applied for three new AMs in MAINE? Our ears up
there point out that he's the former owner of WGUY-FM (102.1 Dexter).
*A quiet week in NEW YORK, too, although one former New England name
popped up: Bill George, who programmed Boston's WSJZ and WSSH, as well
as the Citadel Providence cluster, is coming back east after a stint
as PD of KUCD in Honolulu. George will move to Long Island later this
month as director of operations and programming at Barnstable's
cluster (WBZO, WKJY, WMJC, WGSM/WHLI).
Religious WJIV (101.9 Cherry Valley) is repositioning under new
ownership and new PD Bill Wilmot. "Victory 102" is the slogan, and we
hear much of the paid-time preaching and teaching will give way to
music as contracts run out.
We heard the launch of the new sports WNSA (107.7 Wethersfield
Township) last Monday morning (10/2), and one voice was missing: Tom
Campbell ended up not joining Adelphia's new sports station, so Dave
Miller, who signed on for nights, is doing the wakeup shift instead at
"Western New York's Sports Authority." The stereo carrier's still on
out there, as well.
*Up in CANADA, John P. Wright beats out CHUM and McColman Media to win
the new 105.7 licence in Kingston, Ontario. Wright will own 60% of
the rock-formatted station, with Rogers holding 25% and Douglas Kirk
(who owns the new CIWV Hamilton, among others) 10%.
On the TV side, Ottawa's "New RO" (officially CHRO-TV Pembroke) has
moved into its new CITY-TV-style digs in the Byward Market. (NERW's
already contemplating a return visit to Canada's capital this winter
to check out the place and munch on some "beavertails"...)
*And with the week's meager news out of the way, we move on to the
recap of NERW's Labor Day weekend trip to the wilds of Western
Pennsylvania and central Ohio.
The trip began in Olean, NY, where we met up with NERW research
director and chief cartographer Garrett Wollman (who outdid himself
this time with a 100+ page spiral-bound book of tower maps). After a
night in the shadow of the WHDL (1450) tower, it was off to the
Pennsylvania state line and points south.
First stop: Emporium, where little WLEM (1250) was live and local in
the morning with its country format. Sister oldies station WQKY
(98.9) has its own studios a few minutes down the road in the larger
town of St. Mary's. A mile or so south of downtown St. Mary's sat the
little studio of WKBI (93.9/1400), with the AM tower out back. (We
didn't hear a legal on the AM, which rolled right through the top of
the hour with paid religion). WKBI-FM is CHR "B94" with a logo that's
awfully similar to that of Pittsburgh's "B94," WBZZ (93.7). We found
the WKBI-FM transmitter southwest of St. Mary's near Ridgway, on the
same stick that now also houses WJNG (100.5 Johnsonburg), half of the
satellite classic-rock combo based in DuBois and known as "Mega Rock"
(the other half is Brookville's WMKX 105.5).
Before moving south, we turned westward at I-80, towards Clarion,
where we saw college station, WCUC (91.7), though it wasn't on the air for
the year yet. We also saw the studios of the town's commercial combo,
WWCH (1300) and WCCR (92.7). And we think we saw the WWCH transmitter
-- though the stick on the south side of I-80 seemed awfully short,
and the rest of the directional array that was supposed to be there
was oddly missing. (We seem to recall having heard about storm damage
at WWCH...anyone know anything more?)
DuBois (pronounced "DOO-boyce") was the next stop, as we spotted the
downtown studios of religious WDBA (107.3), AC WDSN (106.5
Reynoldsville), and Mega Rock, ending up at the studios of oldies WCED
(1420) and country WOWQ (102.1) on the town's north side before
getting stuck in a traffic jam that thwarted our attempts to get to
I-80 east and Clearfield. (We also caught the WCED transmitter site,
a 3-tower deal a few miles west of town).
Moving south again, the next stop was Punxsutawney -- but instead of
groundhogs, we found the west-side studios of standards WECZ (1540),
CHR WPXZ (104.1), and a new oldies station, WBEU (103.1 Brookville).
They're friendly folks, indeed; a mention that we were headed towards
the National Radio Club convention produced an entire mailing bin full
of bumper stickers and water bottles with WPXZ logos!
Another 45 minutes or so and we were in Indiana -- the town that was
home to Jimmy Stewart, not the state -- and on the hilltop north of
downtown from which talker WDAD (1450) and modern AC WQMU (92.5)
transmit. WQMU is known as "The Planet," as borne out by the
globe-decorated satellite dish next to the downtown studios. We heard
Indiana University station WIUP (90.1), and saw the four-tower site
south of town that's home to oldies WCCS (1160 Homer City).
One more stop before our arrival in Pittsburgh: oldies WTYM (1380), on
a remote road south of Kittanning. (Well, two stops, actually:
Garrett had never seen the KDKA transmitter, a problem easily
rectified with a quick stop in Allison Park...)
We drove into the Steel City to the jammin' oldies sound of Clarke
Ingram on "The Beat," WJJJ (104.7), then had a chance to see the
station's soon-to-be-vacated North Side quarters (complete with a
dynamite view of downtown Pittsburgh at sunset).
And we drifted off to sleep that night trying to figure out the
difference between Clear Channel's "Mix 96" (WPHH 96.1) and Infinity's
"The Point" (WZPT 100.7), a problem rectified just last week when the
frequently-flipped 96.1 spun again, becoming CHR "Kiss" WKST-FM.
(NERW wonders: what calls are going to the former WKST-FM, 92.1
Ellwood City-New Castle, an hour away from Pittsburgh?)
The next morning, we checked out the brand-new sports format on "The
Burgh," WWSW 970, before leaving Pennsylvania for the Western
Reserve and our weekend destination of Lima, Ohio.
First stop: Wheeling, West Virginia, and the historic Capital Music
Hall, home to WWVA (1170) and its many sister stations. Across the
Ohio river in Bridgeport, Ohio, we found our way up the mountain to
the tower that's home to CBS affiliate WTRF-TV (Channel 7), WEGW
(107.5), WEEL (95.7 Shadyside), and a wonderful view back over the
river to Wheeling. (We'd been warned that the roads to the towers on
the West Virginia side, north of downtown Wheeling, were impassable,
so we didn't try.)
The day's star attraction was still to come, though: the three towers
of WWVA itself, on a side road northeast of St. Clairsville, Ohio.
WWVA's Art Deco transmitter building still has the big blue "W W V A"
letters proudly displayed over the door.
Another hour or so west on I-70 brought us to Zanesville, a bit of
traffic, and eventually the tower southeast of town that carries the
WHIZ stations: WHIZ (1240), WHIZ-FM (102.5), and NBC affiliate WHIZ-TV
(Channel 18). The radio stations and the TV are in two separate
buildings near the base of the tower; both radio stations were live
and local, too.
We skirted Columbus and its Friday-afternoon traffic, turning north at
Newark (with stops at religious WSFJ-TV 51, just off I-70, and at WCLT
AM-FM's big self-supporting tower south of downtown) and heading
across to the town of Delaware, Ohio. There we found the little
towers of WDLR (1550), just where US 36 and OH 37 branch off. (The
town's college station, WSLN 98.7, wasn't up and running yet, and the
Delaware-licensed commercial FM, WXST 107.9, is a Columbus rimshotter
from a site southeast of town.)
US 36 took us towards Marysville, where we saw the seven towers of
WUCO (1270) long before we heard a clear signal from the station.