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NERW 1/15: Citadel, WROL, and WKOX -- Sold!
--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
January 15 2001
IN THIS ISSUE:
*MASSACHUSETTS: Carter Sells WROL; Clear Channel Gets WKOX
*NEW YORK: WSIA Comes Back
*MAINE: Party Time at the Top of the Dial
-----------------------------by Scott Fybush-----------------------------
*LATE UPDATES: Just in to NERW, there's word of two radio sales, one
big and one not so big, that promise some change on the region's
dial. The big one is the sale of all of Citadel Broadcasting, which
is being acquired by investment firm Forstmann Little & Co. for about
$2 billion. Citadel's holdings in the region include major clusters
in Maine (Portland, Augusta/Waterville, Presque Isle, and Calais), New
Hampshire (more of the former Fuller-Jeffrey group on the Seacoast),
Rhode Island (WPRO AM-FM, WWLI, and three others, plus WBSM/WFHN in
New Bedford), Massachusetts (WXLO and three others in Worcester),
Connecticut (WSUB/WQGN/WAXK in the New London market), upstate New
York (the former Pilot group in Syracuse and Ithaca, the former
Mercury stations in Buffalo, and the former Wicks cluster in
Binghamton), Pennsylvania (Scranton, Allentown, and Harrisburg), and
New Jersey (Atlantic City).
The not so big one is the sale of Carter Broadcasting's WROL (950
Boston). NERW hears that WROL is being sold to Salem Communications,
which will pair the station with its WEZE (590 Boston). This isn't
the first time Carter has tried to sell WROL; the proposed sale of the
entire Carter group (except WCRN Worcester) to Catholic Family Radio
in 1999 fell through when CFR was unable to close the purchase. It's
also not the first time WEZE has had a partner on the Boston dial;
Salem paired it with WPZE (1260) for a year or so after WEZE moved
from that 1260 spot to 590 in 1997. Could 950 become the "new WPZE"?
More on both sales next week...right here in NERW.
*The Clear Channel radio empire is about to add another radio station
to its Boston cluster, in a sale that looks as though it will put to
rest years of speculation about the future of Framingham's AM radio
Fairbanks Broadcasting has filed to transfer its last station, WKOX
(1200 Framingham) to "Capstar TX Limited Partnership," the name under
which Clear Channel has been doing much of its acquiring lately.
WKOX has been at the center of Boston radio's rumor mill for the
better part of the last decade, it seems; from an abortive attempt by
what was then Westinghouse to pair the station with WBZ to a proposed
sale two years ago to Edward Karlik's "B-Mass" partnership. WKOX's
sister station, then known as WKLB (105.7), was sold to Evergreen and
then to Greater Media back in 1996, leaving WKOX hanging with
leased-time foreign language programming. With the death of station
owner Richard Fairbanks last year, some sort of change was probably
So what happens next? WKOX will join adult standards WXKS (1430
Everett), urban CHR WJMN (94.5 Boston) and CHR WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford)
in the Clear Channel/Boston stable. Will WKOX begin running Clear
Channel's Fox Sports Radio format, following in the path of other
recent Clear Channel AM flips? Could WXKS(AM) join in as a simulcast?
And what of WKOX's proposed move to Newton and the WUNR(AM)
These questions will no doubt be answered in the weeks to come...stick
around and we'll bring you all the action!
*Elsewhere in MASSACHUSETTS, the Boston Celtics may end up on a new
radio home next season. The Boston Globe reports current flagship
WEEI (850) doesn't want to pay the price the team wants for radio
rights, so the Celts are looking elsewhere, including at sports rival
WNRB (1510) and at FM talker WTKK (96.9), whose interest may be fueled
by a ratings book that gave it a strong edge against veteran talker
(and WEEI sister station) WRKO. (And again, we can't help but
speculate about the WKOX factor...)
Out west, UMass/Amherst student station WMUA (91.1 Amherst) could soon
be getting out a bit better. The station has been granted a tower
height increase, from 8 meters above average terrain to 39 meters,
albeit with a power drop from 1000 watts to 450 watts. The new tower
will be adjacent to the old one on campus.
*NEW HAMPSHIRE radio listeners do indeed have something new to check
out: Gary Savoie's WLPL (96.3 Walpole) finally made it to the air this
month, after years of battling environmental issues at a proposed
tower site across the river in Vermont. WLPL is now operating from a
communications tower on the New Hampshire side, and our listeners up
that way report it's relaying Vox's oldies station WWOD (104.3
Hartford VT) from up the Connecticut River.
Dennis Jackson's WZEN (106.5 Farmington) will soon be reaching out a
little louder. It's applying for 2900 watts from 148 meters AAT,
doubling its current power. The station would add a directional
antenna, to protect the contours of WBQW (106.3 Scarborough ME). And
if you soon hear this oldies station sporting a new set of calls that are
truly an "oldie" -- well, you read about it here first!
Several NERW readers have checked in this week with questions about a
station being heard on 88.7 in the Merrimack area, playing nonstop
Christian contemporary music. It's unlicensed...and what was that we
were saying a couple of weeks ago about how the curtailment of LPFM
would bring about a resurgence of pirate activity?
They're checking the schedules carefully at Vox's Concord stations: at
classic rock WNHI (93.3), Al Ponalet takes over afternoons and production
director duties, moving across the hall from sister CHR WJYY (105.5).
"Joey Malone" (aka Gary Brooks, formerly of WKCD Pawcatuck CT) takes
over afternoons at WJYY, while morning guy "Sammie" stretches to cover
the midday shift formerly belonging to Lilian Afonso. And Steve
Ouelette, formerly on nights at WJYY (and assistant PD of WJYY and
WNHI) moves up to director of engineering for all of Vox's Concord
Way up north, the little community of Groveton could someday have not
one, but two FM stations. There's already a vacant 93.7 allocation
there, awaiting auction. Now a Linda A. Davidson has persuaded the
FCC to consider adding a second allocation, a class A on 101.5.
*Speaking of allocations, there won't be a new FM channel added in
Fair Haven, VERMONT, within listening range of Rutland. "Vermont
Community Radio" had asked the FCC to allocate 92.5A there, but when
nobody from that group (or anyone else) responded to the Commission's
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC concluded there was no interest
in a new FM there and abandoned the proposal.
On the other end of U.S. 4, we can now put a price on Clear Channel's
purchase of Connriver's WMXR (93.9 Woodstock)/WCFR-FM (93.5
Springfield): $2 million is the tag on the "Bob Country" combo.
*Listeners in central MAINE have something new to check out: Last
Monday (Jan. 8), Mountain Wireless ditched the sports simulcast on
WHQO (107.9 Skowhegan), flipping the station to a high-energy CHR as
"The Party 108fm." (The sign-on time? 1:08 PM, of course!) WHQO,
along with sister sports station WSKW (1160 Skowhegan) and AC "River"
WCTB (93.5 Fairfield), was to have been sold to Cumulus (and then
donated to Maine Public Radio), but that deal collapsed a couple of
Another sale on the way at WDME (103.1 Dover-Foxcroft)? The station
was sold to Richard Thau a few years ago; now we see a transfer being
filed at the FCC to the "Zone Group." More next week...
Maine lawmakers are pondering the state's public radio network's
request for an increase in funding next year. The Bangor Daily News
reports that several legislators are getting bombarded with listener
complaints, after Maine Public Radio's recent programming changes left
classical music and opera fans out in the cold in favor of more news
and talk shows. Maine Public Broadcasting is asking for a 2.5 percent
increase in its $2.33 million state appropriation, money that's to be
used to upgrade transmission systems and build new WMEP (90.5 Camden).
A public hearing on the request will be held later in the spring;
MPBC's own annual meeting takes place Tuesday afternoon in Bangor.
*Down in RHODE ISLAND, Cox Cable viewers lost their last Boston
network affiliate this week, when WBZ-TV (Channel 4) disappeared from
the systems that serve most of the Ocean State. As a partial
substitute, Cox public-access channel 3 is now carrying local
newscasts from Boston's WB affiliate, WLVI (Channel 56).
Some promotions to report in Providence: WHJY (94.1) afternoon guy
John Laurenti adds music director to his title, as does WSNE (93.3
Taunton)'s Gary Trust.
*Just one little bit of CONNECTICUT news this week: Mary Scanlon moves
down the highway from "I95" (WRKI 95.1 Brookfield) to WKCI (101.3
Hamden), joining Vinnie Penn on KC101's morning show.
*Our NEW YORK news this week starts with the imminent return of a
station that's been silent since Thanksgiving. WSIA (88.9 Staten
Island) is owned by the City University of New York's College of
Staten Island, and it's the only radio station the borough has. But
when the T1 line that connects the WSIA studios to the transmitter on
Todt Hill failed in November, WSIA managers discovered that the tower
the station uses now belongs to the state Department of Environmental
The DEC bought the land from a group of friars called the Order of
Minor Conventuals, which had leased space on the tower to WSIA for 19
years. The sale contract, though, specified that the tower could only
be used for "religious, non-commercial broadcasts" -- so the DEC
refused to allow Verizon to enter the property to fix the balky T1
After more than a month of negotiations, the DEC finally relented last
week, we're told -- but WSIA is still waiting for Verizon to get the
T1 working again so that its broadcasts can resume.
At the other end of the Staten Island Ferry, it was the end of an era
last week when Vin Scelsa did his last show on WNEW (102.7 New
York). Scelsa's freeform "Idiot's Delight" was the last vestige of
WNEW's old music format, and both sides agreed not to seek a renewal
of his contract when it ran out. So while WNEW fills those overnight
hours with talk-show reruns, Scelsa's reportedly headed to WFUV (90.7)
to keep doing his thing in the noncommercial world.
It could be one of the biggest job openings in recent years in the Big
Apple: Tom Poleman is giving up his post as PD of Z100 (WHTZ 100.3
Newark NJ) to focus on his corporate programming duties for Clear
Channel, overseeing a region that stretches from Boston's Kiss 108 to
Washington, Baltimore, and Detroit. The search for Poleman's
replacement is already underway, and we're guessing there are a lot of
resumes flying in the Clear Channel family and beyond.
One more note before we leave New York City: Steve Kingston, PD of
WXRK (92.3), is making a lot of noise in the trades about having
grabbed the rights to the "WINX" calls that recently departed the
Washington DC area after forty years at the top of the AM dial there.
The calls are now parked on AM 1080 in Murfreesboro, N.C.
Heading upstate, a belated correction to our December 25 mention of
WLTB (101.7 Johnson City)'s transmitter move: we're reliably informed
that the station is still using its old site near Owego, with the move
up Ingraham Hill set to happen sometime this summer.
Way, way, upstate, there's been a petition to dismiss filed against
the Palmetto Group's application for a new station on 650 kHz in
Mooers, a tiny community along U.S. 11 a few miles south of the
Canadian border and a few miles north of Plattsburgh. The station
would use 50 kW day, 9 kW at night, from a nine-tower array pointed
north at Montreal.
Our North Country correspondent, Michael Roach, checks in with some
news of Watertown's 1410: although it's filed for the new calls
WGME(AM), the station formerly known as WUZZ(AM) is now going by
"WNER, the Winner" on the air. The Forever-owned station is still using the
satellite-delivered urban oldies format it's been running for several
*The big news from PENNSYLVANIA is a station sale in Erie, as WJET
(102.3) moves from the Nextmedia cluster (which had to shed a station
to avoid market-concentration issues) to Regent Broadcasting for $5
million. WJET joins standards WRIE (1260), soft AC WXKC (99.9) and
country WXTA (97.9 Edinboro) in the Regent group there.
Down in Pittsburgh, public broadcaster WQED is trying again to sell
its second TV outlet, WQEX (Channel 16). After the collapse of a plan
to sell the station to religious broadcaster Cornerstone (which would
then have sold its commercially-licensed WPCB Channel 40 to Pax TV),
WQED is again asking the FCC to allow it to convert channel 16 to a
commercial license. If that approval is granted, WQED would then sell
WQEX to Shooting Star Broadcasting, owned by former Pittsburgh
programmer Diane Sutter. Sutter would pay $20 million for the station
if the deal goes through.
Just across the border in Ohio, Keymarket is trying to move another FM
station a little closer to Pittsburgh. The broadcaster asked the FCC
this week to change the community of license of WOGH (103.5) from
Steubenville, Ohio to Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles from
Pittsburgh. The transmitter site of "Froggy 103.5" wouldn't change
right away, but it's not hard to imagine the station following
Steubenville's WTOV-TV (Channel 9), which has a CP to move its
transmitter (which now shares a tower with WOGH overlooking
Steubenville) to a new site about halfway to Pittsburgh.
*Up in CANADA, last Monday brought one more official debut: in
Kitchener, Conestoga College began full-time operation of CJIQ (88.3)
at 6 AM January 8. The station, called "the Condor," is being heard
as far east as Hamilton.
Dave Farough is the new PD at Toronto's CFNY (102.1 the Edge), taking
over the job February 5 after 13 years out in Victoria, B.C., where he
put CKKQ (100.3 the Q) on the air in 1987.
We think we know the calls for Milestone's new urban FM in Toronto:
the trades are saying the new station on 93.5 will be "CFXJ." The
CRTC being the CRTC, though, we'll wait until the official sign-on to
The CBC is adding to its network: the CRTC granted approval this week
for a new 3 kw Radio Two outlet in Corner Brook, Newfoundland (on
91.1, relaying CBN-FM St. John's) and took an application for a new
2600 watt Radio One outlet in Shelburne, Ontario, on 102.5. That
transmitter would fill in some gaps north and west of Toronto in areas
that still aren't well served by the new transmitters in Wingham or
*That's it for another week...don't forget to check out our Tower Site
of the Week (coming on Wednesday: the WTIC/WFSB site in Avon,
Connecticut), and to join our ongoing discussion of local broadcasting
and The Rant. (There's still more new content coming to fybush.com --
but we'll have more on that next week.)
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See you next Monday!
-----------------------NorthEast Radio Watch------------------------
(c)2001 Scott Fybush
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