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NERW 10/23: WNSS Gets Funny, Utica Gets Buggy, Dodge Gets Arrested
--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
October 23, 2000
IN THIS ISSUE:
*NEW YORK: Something Funny In Syracuse, Something New in Utica
*CONNECTICUT: All-Sports in Groton
*VERMONT: Brian Dodge Charged in Assault
-----------------------------by Scott Fybush-----------------------------
*It's always fun to be caught completely by surprise by the sign-on of
a new radio station, and that's just what happened to us as we piloted
the NERW-mobile through the hills and valleys of central NEW YORK this
Spinning the dial while crossing the Mohawk Valley (about which more
in a moment), we noticed high school football on 99.7. The Utica WJIV
translator? Nope...that's now on 99.1. How about an AM simulcast?
Sure enough, also on 1230, WLFH Little Falls. A commercial break
confirmed our suspicions: WBGK Newport Village is on the air.
When it's not doing high school football, WBGK is part of what's now
the four-station "Bug Country" simulcast, which also includes WBUG-FM
(101.1 Fort Plain) and WBUG (1570 Amsterdam). With the WBGK signal,
Bug Country now reaches from Utica (where 99.7 is listenable but not
strong) all the way to the Schenectady area.
*Elsewhere in the Empire State, Citadel's WNSS (1260) in Syracuse
dumped its AP all-news format last week, becoming one of the first two
broadcast affiliates of the Comedy World network, heretofore a
Web-only service. (The other one? KEYF 1050 in the Spokane
NERW tuned in 1260 as we passed through the Salt City Saturday
morning, and ended up leaving the dial there for about 40 minutes.
All-comedy radio hasn't worked on a local level the last few times
it's been tried, but you know what? This service sounds pretty good.
Imagine a talk format with comedy bits sprinkled in where a typical
morning show might play a song or two, and you're pretty close to the
One more from Syracuse: We heard the city's new urban outlet on 106.9
using a new set of calls. The FCC database doesn't show it yet, but
"WPHR Auburn-Syracuse" was what we caught on the former WHCD. (The
WPHR calls have been on a new CP in the Ashtabula, Ohio area, near
where the calls had their heritage run a decade ago on Cleveland's
Downstate, a reader checked in to let us know that Port Jervis' WDLC
(1490), which we'd heard was dark, is on the air and simulcasting
sister station WTSX (96.7), so update your logs accordingly.
And what did we hear in the Catskills? Read on...
*Two notes from MASSACHUSETTS this week: With the Six Flags amusement
park closed for the season, WPNT (1600 East Longmeadow) has changed
format back to a simulcast -- but not sister FM WAQY (102.1
Springfield). Instead, Saga is using 1600 to relay its new purchase
in the Pioneer Valley, WHMP (1400 Northampton). Can WHMP's
programming, aimed at listeners in Hampshire County, make inroads
against big talk competitors WHYN and WNNZ on their home turf in
In Boston, Mark Berryhill leaves his post as GM of upstart talker WMEX
(1060 Natick) to return to his TV roots. He's headed to the West
Coast and KRON (Channel 4) in San Francisco to help that station make
the transition from an NBC affiliate to a Young Broadcasting-owned
*There's a new sports radio station in CONNECTICUT, as WSUB (980
Groton) moves from talk to ESPN as "The Ticket Sports Radio 980," with
an updated Web site <http://www.wsub.com> to go along.
*Up in NEW HAMPSHIRE, WMTW-TV's plans to move its transmitter off
Mount Washington are making headlines this week in nearby Berlin.
Channel 8, licensed to Poland Spring, Maine, has a CP to move off New
England's highest peak to a new site in Baldwin, Maine, much closer to
its target market of Portland.
The Berlin Daily Sun reports that the Mt. Washington Summit Commission
is studying ways to replace the services WMTW provides at the summit,
including the two diesel generators that supply all the power for the
TV station, the two FMs (WHOM 94.9 and WPKQ 103.7), and the Mount
Washington Observatory. WMTW's lease on the mountaintop, which is
owned by Dartmouth College, expires in 2010.
*Crossing the line into MAINE, we note that WLLB (790 Rumford) isn't
being sold to J.J. Jeffrey's Atlantic Coast Broadcasting after all.
Instead, Richard Gleason's Mountain Valley Broadcasting will pay
$50,000 for the little AM, which will join WTBM (100.7 Mexico), WOXO
(92.7 Norway), WTME (1240 Lewiston) and WKTQ (1450 South Paris) in
Maine's NBC affiliates are joining forces with the Pine Tree State's
Pax outlet. WCSH (Channel 6) in Portland, along with WLBZ (Channel 2)
in Bangor, are part of a group agreement between owner Gannett and the
upstart network. The deal means WMPX (Channel 23) in Waterville will
operate from WCSH's Portland studios, rebroadcast WCSH's news on a
time-shifted schedule, and sell air time jointly with WCSH. NERW
expects that the deal will also cover Buffalo's WGRZ (Channel 2) and
Pax outlet WPXJ (Channel 51) in Batavia, which means we'll be able to
watch WGRZ's news at NERW Central.
*Most of Brian Dodge's radio stations are in New Hampshire, but the
religious broadcaster made some unwanted headlines in VERMONT this
Dodge, 44, who owns WNBX (1480 Springfield), was charged with simple
assault after allegedly attacking his wife, according to published
reports in Vermont and New Hampshire newspapers.
The Springfield police department says Dodge wrapped a towel around
his wife's neck, squeezed it, then began punching her and slamming her
head into the wall. A restraining order prohibits Dodge from making
contact with his wife.
Dodge was convicted in 1989 of negligent operation of a motor vehicle
in connection with a fatal accident. He was charged, but not
convicted, in a 1997 assault case.
Dodge will appear in court December 5.
*Up in CANADA this week, it must have been quite a shock for listeners
to the very soft rock that's been heard on CHAY (93.1) in Barrie,
Ontario for a generation. New owner Corus flipped the station to its
"Energy Radio" dance-CHR format this week, joining existing Energy
stations in Toronto-Hamilton (CING 107.9) and London (CKDK 103.1).
No call letters yet, but there's a Web site for the new urban outlet
in Toronto, due to launch next year on 93.5. Check it out at
A belated Montreal note: CBME (88.5) and CBM-FM (93.5) were off the
air overnight for several months due to tower work on Mont Royal. The
good news for fans of Radio One Overnight and "Brave New Waves" on
Radio Two is that the work is done and both stations are again on the
air 24 hours.
*So what did we do on our little jaunt to the Catskills? Glad you
asked! First stop: Oneida, where we found the single stick of WMCR
(1600) without incident, but couldn't spot WMCR-FM (106.3) in the
hills south of town. Herkimer, 30 or so miles to the east, was more
of a challenge -- it took us half an hour or so to find the right road
up the hill to WNRS (1420) and WXUR (92.7), which share a stick
(despite the data in the FCC database, which puts the FM across the
road). A few miles away sits the very tall tower of Utica's WKTV
(Channel 2), which is forced to operate from so far out of the city
to avoid short-spacing with Buffalo's channel 2.
Passing through Little Falls, it was up into the hills again, to the
dirt roads that led to WBUG-FM (101.1), then down to US 20 and into
Cherry Valley, where we found the wonderful old WJIV (101.9) site. A
relic of the old Rural Radio Network, the WJIV tower is a
near-duplicate of the 95.1 South Bristol (now WNVE) facility, complete
with the two-story house-like building that once housed a live-in
Through the northern Catskills we drove, arriving 90 minutes or so
later at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge across the Hudson, offering a
superb view of the three tall towers of WCKL (560 Catskill) that
command the eastern bank of the river. The middle tower also holds
WCTW (98.5 Catskill). A few miles north sits the short tower of
sister stations WHUC (1230) and WTHK (93.5) in Hudson.
Back up, and up, and up, and up -- and finally we'd arrived in the
quaint mountain town of Windham, our destination and home of WRIP
Dennis Jackson's little FM is a wonderful model of the way community
radio should be. It's housed in a building that was once home to a
bowling alley owned by the father of WRIP morning man Guy Garraghan,
and it programs a steady diet of local news and information for the
otherwise unserved Greene County area.
More to the point, it celebrated its first anniversary with a big
party Saturday night -- and even if the actual anniversary was two
months ago, we were flattered to be invited and delighted to get a
half-hour or so to spin the oldies live from Jimmy O'Connor's bar,
across the street from the station. (Airchecks may turn up
Sunday found us driving home through the splendid scenery of the
Catskills, with a quick stop at the WBUG (1570) transmitter just south
of Amsterdam before jumping on the Thruway for home.
On the way through Syracuse, we heard a bit more of the market's
changes. A note to Galaxy Broadcasting's new WRDS (102.1 Phoenix):
check that clock on your computer, guys! We heard the
"top-of-the-hour" ID at :28 past said hour -- and you *know* you're
listening to a voicetracked jock when he then comes on with "it's just
after ten o'clock." We also heard Syracuse Community Radio's WXXE
(90.5 Fenner) as we drove between Utica and Syracuse, and while we
admire the committment to bring another radio voice to the Salt City,
we just can't imagine anyone, even within WXXE's very limited
listening area, wanting to hear SCR's programming over the single
phone line that serves as the studio-transmitter link. It's not up to
us, we know, but if it were, we'd spend less time and money on those
frivolous translator applications and the sniping at other noncomms
(the legal ID we heard was especially nasty), and a little more on
something like a Comrex Hotline that could make that phone line
somewhat listenable. (Better yet, we'd hope for an LPFM spot for the
*And that will do it for this week's NERW; back next weekend with much
---------------------NorthEast Radio Watch------------------------
(c)2000 Scott Fybush
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