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NERW 2/19: WBUR and Lydon - A Missed "Connection"?

------------------------------E-MAIL EDITION-----------------------------
--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
                            February 19, 2001


*MASSACHUSETTS: A Missed "Connection" at WBUR
*NEW YORK: WXXC Loses its License
*CANADA: FM Explodes in the Maritimes

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

*One of the most popular programs to come out of the New England
public radio scene in recent years is in a state of turmoil this week,
with its host and senior producer on paid leave and most of its staff
having resigned, all over a dispute about who will share in the
proceeds from NPR syndication.

We speak, of course, of "The Connection," Christopher Lydon's daily
two-hour haven of erudite conversation.  A staple of the WBUR-FM
(90.9 Boston) lineup since the mid-nineties, the show has been
distributed in recent years to several dozen public radio outlets
nationwide (including, out there in NERW-land, New Hampshire Public
Radio, Maine Public Radio, WNED Buffalo, WXXI Rochester, North Country
Public Radio, the WAMC network and New York's WNYC.)

But as WBUR head honcho Jane Christo prepared to take The Connection
to NPR's national lineup, it seems Lydon and producer Mary McGrath
wanted to share in the riches the program was producing for the WBUR
folks.  The two proposed to form a production company with WBUR to
distribute the program, a move WBUR interpreted as insubordination,
and so it was that WBUR escorted Lydon and McGrath from the building
last week, putting them on a two-week paid suspension.

You don't do something like that to an entrenched Boston media veteran
like Lydon (the former anchor of WGBH-TV's Ten O'Clock News and a
former newspaper reporter) without expecting all hell to break loose
in the papers, and thus the pages of the Globe have been filled with
articles about Lydon's dispute with WBUR -- complete with the
revelation of Lydon's WBUR salary ($175,000 this year, but with raises
taking him to $280,000 in a few years) and the disclosure of
increasingly testy e-mails between Lydon and his WBUR bosses.

If WBUR was still hoping for a quick, quiet resolution to all the
hoo-hah, those hopes were dashed over the weekend when several
Connection staffers quit in protest.  Meanwhile, WBUR has been using
substitute hosts on the Connection -- but will NPR have any interest
in the show if Lydon and his crew don't return?  We'll let you know
how this one plays out.

*Elsewhere in MASSACHUSETTS, One-on-One Sports (soon to be the
Sporting News Radio Network) finally flips calls on its Boston outlet,
more than four years after acquiring WNRB (1510).  It's now WSZE, "The
Sports Zone," and for Garrett and anyone else who's keeping count,
that makes callsign number seven for the erstwhile WMEX.

Jay Gordon's leaving WODS (103.3 Boston) and the overnight shift for
one of those "real jobs" at Dean Witter.  No word on a replacement yet
at Oldies 103, and the good news here is that Gordon's weekend "Elvis
Only" show will continue on WODS and in syndication.

Up on the North Shore, UMass Boston gets WNEF(FM) as the calls for its
new 91.7 in Newburyport, adding to the top-o'-the-hour mouthful that
already includes WUMB Boston, WBPR Worcester, WFPB Orleans and WFPB-FM
Falmouth.  And speaking of 91.7s up there, congratulations to Bob
Nelson, who'll mark his twentieth anniversary at Salem State's WMWM
(91.7 Salem) with a special edition of his Sunday-night blues show
March 11.

The news from Tufts University's WMFO (91.5 Medford) is, literally,
news.  The station is adding a daily half-hour of news from 7 to 7:30
PM, which means it joins Emerson's WERS (88.9 Boston), Brandeis' WBRS
(100.1 Waltham), and probably a few others that escape our memory as
Boston-area college stations doing regular long-form newscasts.

*Into NEW YORK we head, and back to the land of Syracuse Community
Radio.  We've been recounting the tangled tale of WXXC (88.7 Truxton)
in recent weeks, including the apparent filing of a misleading
application to cover its construction permit just days before
expiration -- even though nothing had yet been built at WXXC's site!
And you'll recall that a NERW visit to the site a few days later
turned up an antenna (lower than specified on the CP) but no signal.

Well...as we pointed the NERW-mobile towards Philadelphia two weekends
ago (much more on the trip in a bit), we actually heard WXXC on the
air, sort of.  The signal is just barely perceptible on I-81 crossing
the Onondaga/Cortland county line south of Syracuse, and disappears
again well before Cortland itself.  Just as we started wondering
whether WXXC would serve more than a few hundred potential listeners,
though, the FCC beat us to the punch:

On February 12, just two days after we heard WXXC for the first time,
the FCC cancelled the station's license and deleted its callsign.  We
suspect an appeal from SCR, but we suspect (given what we heard of the
WXXC signal) that the group would do better to apply its energy to its
other applications, which promise to deliver more signal to areas
where people actually live.

As we write this Monday night (2/19), we're listening to the WXXE
Webcast, which is still giving an ID for WXXC.

(One more bit of strangeness, though: while WXXC's sister station,
WXXE Fenner, can always be distinguished by its phone-line audio
quality, WXXC actually sounded halfway decent on the air for the few
minutes we could hear it.  Hmmmmmm.....)

*So what else is happening in the Empire State?  Let's start way out
west, where John Bulmer's about to make some big things happen at
Jamestown country station WHUG (101.9).  The FCC is considering
allowing WHUG to go from a class A station to a B1, thanks to some
proposed moves by two other upstate allocations.  WZKZ (101.9 Alfred)
would move from 101.9 to 97.1, swapping dial positions with the
as-yet-unused allocation a bit to the east in Canaseraga.  Bulmer
would also change the reference coordinates of his 102.1 down in Du
Bois, PA -- which, by the way, has changed calls from WOWQ to WMOU-FM
and has ditched the satellite to go live with "102 Moo" country from 6
AM till 7 PM.  Yes, the calls came from the AM in Berlin NH (which
still has them), and yes, Bulmer's the same guy responsible for "102
Zoo" over in Ashtabula, Ohio.

Up in Buffalo, Janet Snyder needs a new co-host for her morning show
at WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls).  Nicholas Picholas, who's been her
partner at "Kiss" for the last few years, is heading north to Toronto
to do mornings at "Energy Radio" CING (107.9 Burlington).  (A Buffalo
correction, by the way: it's Mark Lindow who left the PD chair at

[Late news out of the Queen City: WBUF (92.9) ditched its "Jammin'
Hits" format Thursday, stunted for a day, then went to an 80s-heavy
rock format Friday, adding Howard Stern in mornings.  Much more in
next week's issue!]

Here in Rochester, not much happened while we were away...just the
return of a little LPTV that we're quite certain nobody missed.
W47BM, last seen a couple of years ago with three months of the
popular "All Color Bars, All The Time" network before going dark, is
now running NVC home shopping.  Yawn...

Calvary's Penn Yan translator for its WZXV (99.7 Palmyra) has changed
frequencies from 102.7 to 102.5, where it's now known as W273AF.  (We
note that Buffalo's WTSS, a grandfathered superpower outlet, used to
put a very respectable signal into Penn Yan on that frequency.)

Down in Elmira, Jim Berman comes to town as general manager of WETM
(Channel 18), arriving from several years at Chicago's WBBM-TV as
director of research and programming.  A few more TV moves: Bob Yuna
moves from Charleston, West Virginia's WCHS/WVAH to Buffalo's WKBW-TV
as news director, while at the other end of I-90, Beau Duffy is
promoted to the same post at Schenectady's WRGB.

Just outside Utica, Ken Roser makes his LMA of new WBGK (99.7 Newport
Village) into something more; he's buying the "Bug Country" outlet
from 21st Century Radio Ventures for a reported $575,000.

Up north, could the new 96.1 in Norwood be closer to taking air?  Tim
Martz has changed the calls on the CP from WAZV to WYSI, which sounds
a heck of a lot (to us, anyway) like another link in the "Yes FM"
chain that already includes WYSX (98.7 Ogdensburg) and WYUL (94.7
Chateaugay).  Yes has a new afternoon host, and he's a familiar voice
in the North Country: Rick DeFranco, former PD and morning guy at WPAC
(92.7 Ogdensburg) and now weatherman at Watertown's WWNY-TV (Channel 7).

Down in the Binghamton area, Clear Channel files to sell WINR (680) to
Cleveland Radio Licenses Inc. -- though we don't recall having seen
CCU's purchase of the station from dentist Paul Titus having closed

Just a little bit east, we heard what BanJo has done with the Delaware
County stations it recently bought: WDLA (1270 Walton) has indeed
broken off to do satellite standards, leaving WDLA-FM (92.1) alone
with country (now as "Big Cat Country," just like BanJo's WBKT 95.3
over in Norwich).  Meanwhile, it's "Oldies 100" at WDHI (100.3 Delhi)
and now-simulcast WIYN (94.7 Deposit).

A quick bit of Albany news: "The Sun" finally made it to the airwaves
of Schenectady on WVKZ (1240) this week...and we hear our speculation
about the return of an old callsign there might not be far from

Downstate, now: We didn't quite make it to Woodstock and WDST (100.1)
on our trip, but we can tell you the station has a new PD and morning
host, with Greg Gattine moving over from Poughkeepsie's WPDH into Ron
Van Warmer's old job.  We also hear WDST has moved up Tinker Street,
into number 293, Todd Rundgren's Utopia Studios.

It looks as though a consolidation of New York City's public TV
outlets is nearing reality.  "Broadcasting and Cable" reports WNET,
the city schools' WNYE-TV and Long Island's WLIW are close to an
agreement to share a common master control, and could eventually
engage in an all-out merger.  After seeing WLIW's forest of trailers
at its Long Island studio/transmitter site a few days ago, we're
certain that Channel 21, at least, could benefit from the added space
and resources such a merger would provide!

*A few quick notes from around New England: in CONNECTICUT, Dennis
Jackson has installed the new transmitter that takes his WQQQ (103.3
Sharon) to 6kW equivalent (and it couldn't happen to a nicer
station!), while across town, WKZE (1020 Sharon) shifts its weekend
music mix towards adult standards in place of the AC that's on the
rest of the week.

Family Radio's WCTF (1170 Vernon) changes from commercial to noncomm
license status, and if you've missed Louis Siering's NERTV site, it's
back after several months at <http://nertv.terrashare.com>.

*Speaking of returns, Matt Heffernan is back in RHODE ISLAND as news
director and operations manager at WOON (1240 Woonsocket) after a year
and a half in Florida.

*Up in NEW HAMPSHIRE, the WMEX calls are back on the airwaves,
replacing WZEN on "Oldies 106.5" in Farmington.  The station's now in
stereo, and it's using edited versions of some of the classic WMEX
1510 PAMS jingles.  Across the line in MAINE, Bible Broadcasting's
WYFP gets to jump its 6kW signal from 44 meters above average terrain
up to 74 meters AAT, albeit with a directional antenna that keeps the
signal down to 2.693 kW towards the northwest, protecting WWPC (91.7
New Durham NH) and WPHX (92.1 Sanford ME), we suppose.

Speaking of the Pine Tree State, news is sometimes slow to reach us
from those very outlying regions, which is why we're only now learning
that WFST (600 Caribou) was silenced last December 18 when high winds
took down its tower.  We're told a replacement tower has been erected,
and the religious station was expected to resume broadcasting this
past week.

*What's new in PENNSYLVANIA?  A new Radio Disney outlet, for starters,
this time in the Pittsburgh market, where WWCS (540 Canonsburg) has
dropped its mixed bag of leased-time ethnic, world radio and oldies in
favor of the Mouse.  We're kind of sorry to hear that; we just picked
them up a few weeks ago here at NERW Central running oldies under
their long-ago slogan (when they were WARO) of "Radio One."

Family Life Ministries has call letters for its new FM in Trout Run:
put WCIT(FM) in your list for that 90.1 facility just north of
Williamsport.  (Longtime friend-of-NERW Fred Vobbe will immediately
recognize the callsign as one that used to live in his hometown of
Lima, Ohio; right, Fred?)

Out in the Poconos, WILP (960 Mount Pocono) changes calls to WOGY,
which suggests to us that Keymarket's parking a "Froggy" call for
future use somewhere.

Out at the other end of the state is Sharpsville, serving the
Youngstown, Ohio market, where Clear Channel has flipped the calls of
WTNX (95.9) to WAKZ -- which, you'll have already guessed, means the
former "The Beat" is now yet another "Kiss" CHR.

And as long as we're stepping beyond the Keystone State: Denny Sanders
is out as PD of Cleveland's WMJI (105.7), part of a host of changes at
one of NERW's favorite oldies stations.  

Beyond the state lines to the south and east, George Brusstar joins
the staff of Wilmington's WILM (1450) in the newsroom there, adding
fuel to the fire of a news war in the First State (we hear competitor
WDEL 1150 has added live top-hour newscasts of late; see what happens
when radio is the only local news medium and there's no local TV?)

*The FM dial in CANADA got a little fuller this week, starting out in
the Maritimes.  This morning (Monday 2/19) at 8 AM (Atlantic time),
New Brunswick Broadcasting flipped the switch on CHWV (97.3 Saint
John), aka "the Wave."  The new station joins country CHSJ-FM (94.1)
in the NBBC family, competing with CIOK (100.5 Saint John) for adult
contemporary listeners.

NBBC will also be building a station on 98.1 down in Saint Stephen,
just across the river from Calais, Maine.  The calls on that one will
be CHTD, and we hear it will be at least a partial simulcast of CHWV.
(With calls like that, could 98.1 be "the Tide"?)

But wait -- there's more!  CINB (96.1 Saint John) is also new to the
air, running Christian contemporary music on its low-power signal as
"NewSong FM."  And we hear the new 94.5 in Moncton will soon take to
the airwaves as well.

It's not just the Maritimes getting new signals: Kingston, Ontario is
now hearing tests of CIKR (105.7), the new 24 kW signal that will soon
be fully operational as rocker "K-Rock."  We hear John Wright's
station is coming in considerably weaker down the road in Belleville
than Kingston's other FMs; we'll see later this week if we can hear it
from the spots along Lake Ontario where we can reliably hear the rest
of the Kingston dial.

Ottawa will be getting a new AM station, in a way: the
MacDonald-Cartier International Airport has been granted a 99-watt
signal on 1630 kHz to offer travelers information in English and

Down in Oshawa, "Energy Radio" arrived on CKGE (94.9) last Friday
(2/16) at, of course, 9:49 AM.  The latest link in Corus' Energy chain
will mostly carry the network from Burlington's CING (107.9), with the
exception of local host Mike Devine middays.

And on the TV dial, "OnTV" gave way to "CH" on Hamilton's CHCH
(Channel 11) and its relays in London, Ottawa, and elsewhere.  The
station, now a sister to Global TV, expands its 6 PM news to an hour
and will soon add a daily talk show at 9:30 AM.  

*This issue of NERW reaches you a day or so later than usual because
we've been on the road...and what a trip it was!

Our first few days were occupied largely by non-radio endeavors, but
we did get a chance to see a few sites around Philadelphia that were
new to us.  Thanks to Mega Communications' Bill Sullivan for an
interesting visit to the rebuilt sites of WSSJ (1310 Camden NJ) and
WEMG (900 Philadelphia); we'll feature those as Sites of the Week on
fybush.com sometime soon.  We also managed to get up to the far
northwestern reaches of Philadelphia to see the WJJZ (106.1) tower,
a big self-supporter that was the original home of one of the big
Philly TV stations -- but now we've forgotten whether it was channel 3
or channel 6.

Wednesday found us making our way north up the Jersey Shore, starting
at the new 1000+ foot stick in Tuckerton that carries Telemundo
affiliate WWSI (Channel 62) to Philadelphia, moving north through
Ocean and Monmouth Counties, and ending up at the brand-new home of
WJLK (94.3) and WADB (1310) Asbury Park, adjacent to the Seaview
Square mall where the stations used to be.

Thursday brought us to the heart of Manhattan and a visit to Clear
Channel's new auxiliary FM site at 4 Times Square and its transmitters
at the Empire State Building -- and you may rest assured that those
will be prominently featured as Sites of the Week very soon (many
thanks to John Lyons of WAXQ for playing tour guide for us!)

[Check out the Empire State pictures; they're this week's Featured
Tower Site at <http://www.fybush.com/featuredsite.html>.]

After a quick stop on Staten Island to see the WSIA (88.9) tower now
that they're back on the air (and to drive the block or two that
part-15 "WHPW" 1690 covers from its building on Tompkins Avenue), it
was off to Brooklyn (where the guards at Kingsborough Community
College didn't want us taking a picture of WKRB 90.9, public property
or not) and then to Long Island, where in the course of a day and a
half we saw nearly every stick on the Island.

That includes, of course, the legendary WLNG (92.1 Sag Harbor), where
GM Paul Sidney, midday jock Brian Bannon and the rest of the crew
showed us all the carts (yes, carts), jingles, bells and such that
makes the station such an entertaining throwback to an earlier, more
innocent day of broadcasting.  That, too, will be a Site of the Week
soon -- and we'll also try to show you the new tower of WRIV in
Riverhead, the strange H-shaped tower that holds WBAZ (101.7
Southold), the tall TV sticks of WHSI (Channel 67) and WLNY (Channel
55), and so much, so much more.

We left Long Island by way of Maspeth, Queens and the four towers of
WQEW (1560), which hide behind a warehouse on Grand Avenue.  We made a
return visit of sorts to City Island and WCBS/WFAN, so expect that
Site of the Week to be updated soon, and we even got to see a few
Connecticut sites once we'd fought our way through city traffic --
including W203BB (88.5 Norwalk), that very directional KAWZ translator
that somehow wedged itself into the little space that doesn't really
exist between WEDW-FM Stamford and WVOF Fairfield on the same channel.
(Thanks, Dennis and John, for playing tour guides!)

The final day of the trip took us to some little AM sites: WLNA (1420
Peekskill), just down the hill from the former studios of WLNA and
WHUD (100.7), which seem to have moved in with sister stations
WBNR/WSPK in new digs on Route 52 in Fishkill.  We went east to the
single stick of WPUT (1510 Brewster), above the railroad station
there, and then west to Cornwall, where we could just barely see the
single unpainted stick of WWLE (1170) behind a house on a little
private road south of Route 94.

And then, just four sites short of being able to say we'd seen EVERY
AM site in the Empire State, we tried to find WGNY Newburgh.  It
wasn't at the "old" 1220 site just north of the studios on Little
Britain Road.  Next we tried to find it at the site where it
apparently moved when it went to 1200, off County Road 23 between
routes 17K and 52 north and west of town.  The signal was good and
strong, especially as we drove Racquet Drive just off CR 23 -- but the
towers?  We never saw them.  Anyone know where WGNY can be found?
We'd love to know!

And from there, instead of going north to Kingston and checking two
more sets of calls off the list (sorry, WKNY and WGHQ; we'll be
back!), we headed for home, aided by the entertaining sounds of Dead
Air on WKPQ (105.3 Hornell).

More pictures to come on Site of the Week...we promise!  (or is that a

*One more thing before we go: NERW needs some help from all you good
folks out there.  For several years, we've taken care of our
blank-tape needs for all our airchecking (and we're talking 400-500
tapes a year!) at a certain Massachusetts-based warehouse club, where
we could get 16-packs of Maxell UR90s at a reasonable price, complete
with cardboard trays in which we could store the tapes.  

Now that certain two-letter warehouse club has switched to another
brand of tape, without the trays and in those silly slim-line cases
that don't store easily...and NERW needs another way to get
case-quantities of Maxell UR90s.  Anyone who can point us to a
suitable wholesaler or similar source will have our gratitude.

And speaking of airchecking, your editor needs engineering assistance!
The Aiwa walkman-style recorders that we use to tape stations while we
travel are showing their age, and one of them is significantly
broken.  A generous reader donated a parts unit -- but now it's time
for these units to go into the shop for a thorough cleaning, overhaul,
and in the case of the broken one and the parts unit, a complete

If you have the skills to work on these little units, and would be
willing to do so at a reasonable rate (or even as an in-kind donation
to NERW), or if you can suggest a reputable place to take them for
repair, please drop your editor a line -- I'd be grateful!   (Aiwa
stopped making units of this quality a few years back, and the new
ones they make just don't fulfill NERW's needs...)

One more thing: don't forget about the NERW Classifieds!  We're trying
to build them into a useful source for all of you out there in
NERW-land to find jobs, fill positions, and buy and sell equipment --
but they only work if you use them!  Your first week is free with any
paid ad, so click on over to fybush.com and check them out.

*And that's it for another week here at NERW.  We'll be back on our
regular schedule next Monday; see you then!

-----------------------NorthEast Radio Watch------------------------
                       (c)2001 Scott Fybush

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