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NERW 11/20: New Station in Western NY, 1220's Back in Cornwall

--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
                            November 20, 2000


*NEW YORK: WKZA Debuts, WNEQ is Sold
*CANADA: 1220 Returns to Cornwall
*VERMONT: Oldies Debut in WRJ

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

*Just in time for Thanksgiving, the radio waves of Western NEW YORK
have brought forth a cornucopia of news...and where better to begin
than at the far western extreme of the NERW listening area, out in the
Jamestown area?

That's where WKZA (106.9 Lakewood) hit the air over the weekend, with
a signal being heard as far north as the Buffalo suburbs.  Calling
itself "Kiss," and IDing with Jamestown and Warren PA, we're told WKZA
is running a modern rock format.  We're hoping to catch it for
ourselves as we head west towards Indiana later this week for a Very
NERW Thanksgiving.  (More on that later on...)

[And this update: We ended up driving through Jamestown itself as 
we avoided the snowed-in Buffalo area on Tuesday, and had plenty of
time to listen to "Kiss."  It's actually a CHR/Pop outlet, operating
from the Hotel Jamestown and sounding pretty good...]

Meanwhile in Buffalo, the on-again, off-again sale of WNEQ (Channel
23) is again very much "on," and this time in a way that promises to
avoid the earlier legal problems encountered by the seller, the
Western New York Public Broadcasting Authority.  This time, the buyer
is LIN, parent company of Buffalo's CBS affiliate, WIVB (Channel 4).
LIN plans to move channel 23 to WIVB's North Buffalo studios and
program it as a commercial independent, complete with a WIVB-produced
10 PM newscast.  More on those plans in a moment -- first a bit of

WNYPBA put WNEQ on the air in May 1987 as a second outlet, to
complement existing public TV station WNED-TV (Channel 17).  A decade
or so later, though, the impending costs of the digital TV conversion
at WNED (not to mention the debt load of WNED's palatial new downtown
studio complex) led WNYPBA to put the second station up for sale.

Sinclair Broadcasting stepped forward, offering $33 million for the
station in May 1998.  WNEQ would have become the duopoly partner to
Sinclair's Fox affiliate, WUTV (Channel 29) -- but instead, the deal
ended up facing a serious challenge, thanks to the unusual licensing
arrangement for Buffalo's public broadcasters.  WNED, the primary
station on channel 17, actually operates on a commercial allocation, a
vestige of its 1950s past as NBC O&O WBUF(TV).  When NBC shut down its
UHF experiment, it donated channel 17 to what became WNYPBA, but the
channel remained commercial.  In order to sell WNEQ, on the
noncommercial-reserved channel 23, WNYPBA needed to persuade the FCC
to move the noncommercial reservation from channel 23 to channel 17,
turning 23 into the commercial channel.

It may sound like a bunch of legal minutiae, but it took the FCC over
a year to approve the move, and appeals from concerned WNEQ viewers
now have that approval tied up in federal court.

The uncertainty, coupled with Sinclair's own financial problems,
brought the Sinclair sale to an end last year.  (A few months later,
Sinclair instead bought WB affiliate WNYO (Channel 49), for $51.5

Which brings us back to LIN and its WNEQ purchase.  Here's how it
works: Sometime soon (perhaps as early as January, speculates the
Buffalo News), LIN will begin leasing channel 23 from WNYPBA.  Once
the lawsuit over channel 23 is resolved, LIN will pay $26.2 million,
in two annual installments, for WNEQ (less whatever amount it's
already paid in lease fees).

And here's the kicker: If WNED loses the lawsuit and channel 23 has to
stay noncommerical, WNYPBA will instead sell WNED's channel 17 to LIN,
bumping the sale price up to $31.2 million for the stronger signal.

(That's OK, WNYPBA president Don Boswell tells the News, because with
DTV the present channel assignments will disappear anyway...though
NERW notes that most stations will continue using their NTSC channels
as a "virtual" channel number.)

A final historical note: If LIN does end up with channel 17, it will
close a forty-year circle in Buffalo broadcasting history.  The
present WIVB studios at 2077 Elmwood Avenue were built in the late
1950s by NBC, as a state-of-the-art studio for none other than WBUF-TV
17!  When WBUF folded, the building sat vacant for several years
before becoming the home of channel 4, then WBEN-TV.  The tower out
back served as the channel 17 tower for years, until the current
WNED/WNEQ site on Grand Island was built.

Of course, there was a third planned TV duopoly in Buffalo -- but
despite the rumors we've been hearing, there's no solid evidence we've
seen that Granite is reconsidering its dropped plans to add UPN
affiliate WNGS (Channel 67 Springville) to its ABC outlet, WKBW
(Channel 7).

With that, we move on to Elmira, where the city's oldest radio station
is picking up stakes and moving its studios down the road to Corning.
WENY (1230) and WENY-FM (92.7) are joining Eolin Broadcasting's four
stations (WCBA AM-FM, WCLI, and WGMM) at the "Radio Works" facility on
Davis Road beginning next Monday (Nov. 27).

In the process, they'll drop their current formats (oldies on the AM,
soft rock "Y 92-7" on FM) and begin simulcasting two of the Eolin
outlets.  WENY(AM) will join WCLI (1450) as "Two-Way Radio for the
Twin Tiers," with a mostly-satellite talk format.  On the FM side,
WENY-FM will simulcast WCBA-FM (98.7)'s AC format as the
"Elmira-Corning Crystal Network," with WCBA-FM's Jack and Bob in the

As for the old WENY studios in Horseheads, we wonder if the WENY-TV
(Channel 36) news staff, long relegated to the former garage outside,
will finally get to come in from the cold?

Up in Watertown, the long-running partnership of Mel Busler and Jay
Donovan is coming to an end.  The duo began doing mornings at WTNY
(790) in 1987, moving to WCIZ (93.5, then 93.3) in 1998.  Now Busler
is leaving WCIZ's morning show, citing increased committments at his
other job, as a sportscaster at WWNY (Channel 7).  Donovan does
weather for WWTI (Channel 50) in addition to his WCIZ gig; no word
yet on a new partner for him.

Over in Utica, WSKS (102.5 Rome) PD Stew Schantz is getting a
promotion: he's now operations manager of WSKS and sister stations
WRFM (93.5 Remsen), WOUR (96.9 Utica), and the sports trio of WUTQ
(1550 Utica)/WADR (1480 Remsen)/WRNY (1350 Rome).

A promotion, too, for Scott Collins of the Anastos Media Group (WQAR,
WUAM/WVKZ, and WMVI near Albany): he moves up from GM to president of
the group.

A sign of more changes in the Hudson Valley?  WCTJ (96.1 Poughkeepsie)
was heard Saturday simulcasting WRNQ (92.1)'s soft AC format, but then
returned to its own hot AC "Cat" format after about an hour...

Admirers of the late Frankie Crocker are invited to a memorial service
for the late PD, to be held Monday (11/20) at 6:30 PM at New York's
Riverside Church, on Riverside Dr. at 122nd Street.  Among the
performers scheduled to appear is Gladys Knight.

The last living link to the Murrow era of radio journalism has died.
Robert Trout, 91, succumbed to congestive heart failure last Monday
(11/13), closing a career that began back in 1931.  That's when CBS
bought Washington's WJSV (now WTOP), acquiring Trout in the process.
In the years that followed, Trout was one of "Murrow's Boys" covering
World War II, then remaining with CBS for decades that followed.

We'll leave New York with an interesting rumor: AllAccess says,
quoting M Street, that WEVD (1050) could be near an $85 million sale
-- and the buyer isn't Clear Channel or Infinity.  (NERW wonders:
could it be ABC and "ESPN Radio 1050," following on ABC's recent buy
of LA's KRLA?)

*On we go, to VERMONT and the launch of a new oldies station.  You
read it here first (NERW, 10/16/2000): the former WGLV (104.3
Hartford) has moved from its interim sports format (simulcast with
sisters WNHV 910 and WTSV 1230) to oldies, under the calls WWOD,
"Oldies 104."  

*Across the river in NEW HAMPSHIRE, Bob Vinikoor has flipped his WNTK
(1020 Newport) from talk to what he's calling "Home Town Music," a mix
of classic country, folk, and blues.  Fredie Dee is doing mornings on
the station, while Rush Limbaugh continues to be heard from 12 to 3,
simulcast with WNTK-FM (99.7 New London), where the talk format lives

*Not much happening in MAINE, though we can now put a price tag on
J.J. Jeffrey's purchase of WLOB (1310 Portland), WLOB-FM (96.3
Rumford), and WLLB (790 Rumford).  $3.5 million is the announced price
for the three, though Jeffrey's Atlantic Coast Broadcasting will
recoup $500,000 by selling WLLB to Richard Gleason's Mountain Valley
Broadcasting.  The seller for all three stations is Boston's Carter

*Speaking of Boston and MASSACHUSETTS, we're hearing that the
political fireworks down in Florida are forcing talker WRKO (680) to
shift its schedule a bit, de-emphasizing the "lifestyle" talk in favor
of harder-edged political talk.  We hear the station is bumping Laura
Schlessinger in order to put Darlene McCarthy and Tom Moroney on with
local talk.  McCarthy and Lori Kramer's usual "Leave it to Divas"
(7-10) and Clark Howard's 10-midnight shift have been replaced for now
with Mo Lauzier doing local talk, and we hear some of the weekend
programming has also been replaced with local talk.  A positive trend
for the long-stagnant world of hard-edged talk radio?  NERW can only

On the TV side, Suzanne Bates leaves WBZ-TV (Channel 4) next month,
ending a 13-year career there, most recently as anchor of the
station's morning newscast.  She plans to write a book -- and to start
sleeping past 3 AM!

*One story, and one only, from CANADA this week: The AM 1220 outlet in
Cornwall, Ontario, vacant since June 1999, is back on the air
testing.  1220 was CJSS, but that station and its country format moved
to FM (as "101.9 the Blaze"), leaving in its wake an application by
owner Tri-Co Broadcasting for a "new" adult standards outlet.  To be
known as CJUL, "the Jewel," the new 1220 will reportedly make its
official debut Thursday (Nov. 24), and we're told personalities such
as Jack Curran and Chuck Phillips (of Montreal's defunct CIQC) will be
part of it.

[This is as good a spot as any to mention one of the newest features
at your editor's new Web site, http://www.fybush.com -- "Tower Site of
the Week."  Each Wednesday, I'll dip into the photo albums and present
another interesting broadcast facility from around the region, and
this week's is the 1220 site in Cornwall.  Check it out at
http://www.fybush.com/featuredsite.html starting this Wednesday!]

*And now, a NERW Commentary:

Those of you who subscribe to Columbia Journalism Review may have
already read the latest study of local TV news, the third annual
effort from the Project for Excellence in Journalism.  If you haven't,
take an hour or so and check it out at
<http://www.journalism.org/publ_research/local-tv/2000_toc.html>, then
come back and read on...

I hate to criticize a survey like this, if only because the intentions
behind it are so very good.  The study purports to measure the
"quality" of local TV newscasts, by counting stories and rating them
according to range of topics, focus, enterprise, expertise of sources,
number of sources, number of viewpoints, and local relevance.
Researchers pick the highest-rated timeslot in the market (usually 6
or 11 PM), tape a week's worth of shows from each station, and then
assign each station a "quality score" derived from the variables
listed above.

If you believe the scores, Boston's WBZ-TV (Channel 4) puts on the
best 11 PM newscast in town, just a few points shy of scoring a "B" on
the researchers' scale.  WHDH-TV (Channel 7) scored near the bottom of
the C range, followed by WCVB (Channel 5), mired in the Ds.

The PEJ researchers say "quality sells" -- that is, stations that
cover a broad range of issues and topics, with a broad range of
sources on camera representing all segments of the community, not only
score well on its survey but tend to do well in the ratings, too.

Hard to argue with that, right?  

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

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