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NERW 5/28: AAA Spins 'Em on Long Island

------------------------------E-MAIL EDITION-----------------------------
--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
                                May 28, 2001


*NEW YORK: AAA Flips East End Formats
*NEW JERSEY: Greater Media Gets Flagged
*ELSEWHERE: We Visit Utah and Nevada and Get Stuck on a Rock

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

*The radio dial keeps spinning out on eastern Long Island as AAA
Entertainment finishes reworking its four-FM group way out
there. Here's how things are shaking out on the East End:

Last week, the soft AC sounds of "Z-lite" WBAZ moved from
Southold-licensed 101.7 to Bridgehampton-licensed WBSQ, which had been
doing a slightly more active blend of satellite-fed AC. The new calls
WCSO (remember those from Portland, Maine a decade ago?) landed on
102.5, but that appears to be temporary. 

When the dust settles, WBAZ will be the call on 102.5 - but don't mark
WCSO down on 101.7, either. Late last week, that frequency began
simulcasting local CHR outlet WBEA (104.7 Montauk), and sure enough,
"Beach Radio" will make 101.7 its new home to better serve the more
populated parts of the island that can't hear the 104.7 signal from
the farthest eastern tip of the South Fork and to reduce competition
with AAA's WKCD (107.7 Pawcatuck CT) across Long Island Sound. 

So what lands on 104.7 at the end of all the shuffling? Adult
standards, along with the WCSO calls (though the call swap hasn't been
made official yet). So that means it'll be WBEA on 101.7, WBAZ on
102.5, WCSO on 104.7 and unchanged AAA-formatted WEHM (96.7 East
Hampton) moving into renovated quarters on North Sea Road in
Southampton later this summer. (Right now, WEHM and WBEA are in
downtown East Hampton, while WBAZ and the former WBSQ are up on the
North Fork in Southold.)

And of course all four stations will still struggle to amass the
East End listenership of the area's single oldest station, the
legendary WLNG (92.1 Sag Harbor), where Paul Sidney and the gang
continue to pump out a wildly diverse mix of music, jingles, ship's
bells and local news and information.

*Elsewhere in NEW YORK this week, Utica listeners are also doing some
dial-twisting, at least if they're fans of Britney and the Backstreet
Boys. Clear Channel confirmed all those rumors this week when it
announced it will relocate the "Kiss" format and jocks from WSKS
(102.5 Rome) to the former "Wow FM" simulcast of WOWB (105.5 Little
Falls) and WOWZ (97.9 Whitesboro). What goes in next on 102.5? The
rumor mill is churning out suggestions of country, 80s, AC and the
Clear Channel "Mix" format; expect to know later this week or early
next what the actual choice will be.

Over in Gloversville, Michael Sleezer was granted the construction
permit for a brand-new AM station. The new 1440 signal will use 800
watts day, 500 at night from a two-tower array on South Street in

Down in Binghamton, WLTB (101.7 Johnson City) turned on its new signal
this week, moving from its old Bornt Hill Road site in Endicott, out
on the west end of the valley, to the Ingraham Hill towers where all
the city's TV stations and most of the big FMs are located. WLTB moves
from 2 kW at 170 meters (with a directional antenna nulled to the
southeast and northwest a bit) to 1700 watts at 186 meters

Out here in Western New York, the "help wanted" sign could soon be out
at the region's new all-sports station. Adelphia's WNSA (107.7
Wethersfield Township) lost evening host Dave Miller a few weeks
ago. Now we hear morning guy Howard Simon has been trying out on-air
for a gig at KMOX (1120) in St. Louis. (Across town, they're getting
excited at WGR; rumor says Jim Rome will pick Buffalo as the site of
his next "Tour Stop" appearance...)

Want to know what's on the radio in Rochester? For decades, the
Democrat and Chronicle carried a semi-accurate station list and
program guide in the back of its Sunday TV Book, but not anymore. The
paper's mediocre cost-cutting redesign removed any trace of radio (not
to mention most of the guide's usability!); it did our radio-loving
hearts proud to see at least one letter to the editor that actually
mentioned the loss of the radio listings. (Of course, the Upstate New
York Radio Archives continue to carry complete and accurate station
listings for Rochester and the rest of the region, at

Downstate, John R. Gambling is returning to New York's weekday
airwaves. The former WOR "Rambling with Gambling" host has been
hanging out in a weekend slot on WABC (770) since losing that WOR
position last year (ending literally decades of Gamblings on WOR in
the morning); now he's replacing Laura Schlessinger from 9-11 on
weekday mornings, followed by an hour of "Troubleshooter" Tom Martino
before Rush.

Country quadcast "Y107" (WYNY 107.1 Briarcliff Manor, etc.) lost its
PD and morning host this week. Big Apple radio veteran Jim Kerr's
contract wasn't renewed when it expired; a few days later, PD Larry
Bear left the building as well. No word yet on replacements for

One obituary finishes our Empire State report this week: Robert
M. Peebles died at a Florida nursing home Tuesday (5/22) at age
82. Peebles was a vice president at the old Capital Cities group from
1959 until he retired in 1983. He was also general manager of WROW
AM-FM in Albany, moving those stations (and WTEN-TV) into their
current home on Northern Boulevard.

*We'll move next to NEW JERSEY, where the proposed purchase of four
radio stations by Greater Media triggered an FCC "red flag" for
market-concentration review this week. The sale would put WMTR (1250
Morristown), WWTR (1170 Bridgewater), WDHA (105.5 Dover) and WRAT
(95.9 Point Pleasant) under the same ownership as New Brunswick's WMGQ
(98.3) and WCTC (1450), and while that may not be an issue on the
competitive Jersey Shore, it does put much of the
Middlesex-Somerset-Union market in one ownership basket. For all the
Commission's vows to streamline those reviews, it still remains
something that can significantly slow down a transfer; we'll keep an
eye on this one.

Down the shore in Atlantic City, WWAC-TV (Channel 53) won permission
to change its digital TV allocation from channel 50 to channel 44; the
move eliminates possible interference with WWSI-TV (Channel 62)'s DTV
assignment on channel 49.

And over in Jersey City, WFMU (91.1 East Orange) DJ Glen Jones sailed
past the world record for longest on-air shift ever on Monday
morning. The record, held by a British jock, was 73 hours, 33 minutes;
Jones finally signed off on Tuesday just a few seconds after passing the
100 hour mark.

*Moving across to PENNSYLVANIA, the FCC goofed again when it granted
new callsigns to the Scranton-area "Buzz" 80s simulcast. WWFH (103.1
Freeland) becomes WBZH, which is fine - but WSHG (102.3 Pittston)
applied for, and was granted, WUBZ(FM). Trouble is, WUBZ-FM is already
the callsign on 105.9 in Philipsburg, out near State College in the
central part of the state, and the folks at that "Buzz" must be
getting pretty fed up at the FCC - this is the second time their call
has been accidentally reassigned in the past year. At last report,
WSHG and WWFH were still using their old calls until the matter can be
sorted out.

Philadelphia talk host Irv Homer is back on the air, a year after
losing his bully pulpit when talker WWDB (96.5) became 80s WPTP. Homer
will begin a new daily hour-long show June 4 at WBCB (1490
Levittown-Fairless Hills), up in Bucks County. 

We've never mentioned WMBT (1530 Shenandoah) in this column, and
indeed it's one of the last AMs in eastern Pennsylvania we've yet to
visit, but when we do, it'll have a new format: the station dropped
oldies this week for satellite country.

Down in Somerset, WSGY (97.7) becomes WUZY, matching its new simulcast
of Forever's "Wuzz" WUZI (105.7 Portage). While we're on the topic of
Forever, it filed this week to buy WHUG (107.7 Cooperstown) from John
Bulmer's Fox Allegany. 

*Up to New England we go, beginning in CONNECTICUT with a call swap in
the Hartford market. As expected, "Mega 910" WNEZ (910 New Britain)
gets the WLAT calls that had been on Manchester's 1230; the latter
station is now using WNEZ in its legal IDs.

The long-running ownership dispute over Hartford's channel 18 is
drawing to a close (we hope). The former WHCT-TV is now WUVN, owned by
Entravision, but there's still some lingering issues concerning the
bankruptcy of former owner Astroline. A few years ago, the bankruptcy
trustee for Astroline agreed to pay $7.48 million to Shurberg
Broadcasting, a company that had challenged Astroline's qualifications
to own the station in the first place. (Astroline bought WHCT from
Dr. Gene Scott in 1983 for $5 million under the FCC's minority
preference program; Shurberg claimed Astroline didn't qualify for that

The settlement left Astroline with just $1 million from the $26
million sale of channel 18, and that didn't sit well with Astroline's
former controlling general partner, one Richard P. Ramirez. He filed a
petition to deny the transfer of channel 18 (originally to a company
called Two If By Sea, later to Entravision). The FCC ruled on that
petition this week, denying it and allowing the transfer to go through
(though commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth dissented, saying the deal
with Shurberg raised "apparitions of greenmail" for future cases like
this one.)

On the tower front, Hamden's WKCI (101.3) was granted a construction
permit for its proposed new facilities, 11 kW from 294 meters above
average terrain near its current home on Gaylord Mountain. The tower
project remains a source of political controversy in Hamden, though it
does have the approval of the town's Zoning Board of Appeals.

Guilford's WGRS (91.5) was granted a power boost, moving from 3100
watts at 25 meters to 6000 watts at 50 meters from its current site.

*A call change in RHODE ISLAND, and it comes as no surprise: WICE (550
Pawtucket) drops those heritage calls a second time, becoming
Disney-compliant WDDZ. Those calls came from AM 1500 in Zion,
Illinois, which becomes WPJX for reasons we're not quite getting.

*Not much happening in MASSACHUSETTS, except for a few Broadcasting
People on the Move: Mike O'Donnell departs his job as PD of WRZE (96.3
Nantucket) to take over as operations manager/PD at Clear Channel's
Portsmouth, NH cluster (WHOB, WERZ, WUBB and so on); music director
Kevin Matthews takes over O'Donnell's duties at the Rose on an acting
basis. Up in Boston, Bruce Schwoegler ended his long run at WBZ-TV
(Channel 4) Memorial Day weekend; he's out after a 33-year career
at 1170 Soldiers Field Road. Best wishes on finding something new!

Ashland's WJLT (650) has applied for night power - a whopping 9 watts
- from its current site at the WKOX facility in Framingham. How that
affects its construction permit to boost power to 2000 watts from the
WBPS site in Ashland, we don't know.

*Congratulations to NEW HAMPSHIRE's Harry Kozlowski; he adds operation
manager duties for Vox's Concord cluster (WNHI, WOTX, WKXL, WJYY) to
his PD title at WJYY.

*Up in MAINE, Colby College's WMHB finally holds an actual license for
the first time in many years. The station, you'll recall, was booted
from its 90.5 spot after Maine Public Broadcasting discovered the WMHB
folks had never completed the paperwork for their move from 91.5 in
the eighties and lacked a valid license. The Waterville station has
been operating under special temporary authority on 89.7 for the last
few years; it finally received its license to cover on that frequency
last week.

And we have the very first actual LPFM calls in New England: Mark down
"WRFR-LP" for the Penobscot School's 93.3 in Rockland. Now we have to
figure out how to list all these newcomers in the Archives...

*Up in CANADA, the CRTC is in the midst of its public hearings on all
those applications for new FM signals in the Ottawa/Hull region. The
hearings began last Monday and are expected to continue through most
of this week, with 11 applicants making their cases for new stations
on 89.9, 95.7 and 97.9 MHz. (Douglas Kirk had originally filed for
99.7, but changed his application to 97.9 before the hearings

Down the road in Cornwall, the CRTC approved power drops for CFLG
(104.5), from 30 kW to 15 kW, and for CJSS-FM (101.9), from 3000 watts
to 1420 watts. It doesn't say so, but we're guessing the power drops
accompany an increase in tower height (you never can tell with those

Out in the Maritimes, the new signal in St. Stephen, New Brunswick
began testing this week. CHTD (98.1) is running 100 kW, and we're
already hearing reports of a strong signal as far down the Maine coast
as Mount Desert Island. Studios are at 73 Milltown Blvd. in
St. Stephen, with the tower at Baytown, N.B., and the official sign-on
is set for 7:45 AM (Atlantic time) this Friday, May 31. (We'd love to
hear tape if anyone's within range!)

*Two weeks ago, we recounted the first half of our April trip out
West, starting in Phoenix and ending up with a Saturday night stop in
St. George, Utah. So what happened next?

We spent Saturday night watching local TV from Salt Lake City, fed in
by microwave from some 300 miles away. Cable systems all over Utah
carry not only the "big 4" from Salt Lake, but also smaller stations
like Brigham Young University's KBYU, a secondary PBS outlet, and
Ogden's KUWB, the UPN station. St. George also has its very own Pax
outlet, KCSG (Channel 4) from Cedar City, as well as KUSG (Channel
12), a relay of CBS owned-and-operated KUTV from Salt Lake.

The radio dial in St. George is an interesting one, too. DXers all
over the West know KDXU (890), the I-B clear channel that's been on
that channel since the late eighties. We saw their three-tower array
on a ranch southeast of town, which also appears to carry KTSP (1450),
the sports station that occupies KDXU's original dial position. KUNF
(1210 Washington) is the third AM in town, with a single stick
alongside I-15 north of St. George. On the FM dial, St. George's KSNN
(93.5) and KEOT (99.7) are joined by translators for stations from
Cedar City (40 miles north), Brian Head (30 miles north) and Kanab (60
miles east). 

Sunday morning found us driving south on I-15, through the wonderfully
scenic corner of Arizona through which the highway passes, and into
Nevada for the NAB convention (with a quick stop along the way at the
towers of KXNT 840 North Las Vegas, along US 93 about 15 miles north
of Sin City!)

We covered our experiences at the convention in some detail right here
on NERW Online, but we also spent some quality time seeing Las Vegas
radio and TV up close and personal. Fans of directional arrays won't
find too many there; in addition to KXNT, there's the four towers of
KSFN (1140 North Las Vegas) on the north side of town; the three
towers of KDWN (720) out in Henderson, southwest of Vegas; six towers
of KNUU (970) in the fast-growing southwest side of the city (in fact,
the station has a CP to move when construction of the new 215 beltway
claims its tower site in a few years, or so it appears); and a
three-tower self-supporting array on the west side of town that's home
to KENO (1460) and KBAD (920).

Diplexing, in fact, seems to be fairly common in Vegas: KRLV (1340)
and KKVV (1060) share a tower as well. Clustering has set in there, as
everywhere, with Infinity, Clear Channel and Lotus splitting most of
the market's revenue. 

On TV, Las Vegas looks like the fairly small market that it actually
is (despite the rapid growth): there's local news on the "big three"
(KVBC 3/NBC, KLAS 8/CBS and KTNV 13/ABC), with Fox affiliate KVVU
(channel 5) the new kid on the news block. KVVU does a morning show
and a rather unusual 10 PM: no sports or weather anchors, just a
fairly solid block of news. Spanish speakers get local news on
Univision's KINC (Channel 15) and Telemundo's KBLR (Channel 39), and
there's independent fare on KFBT (Channel 33), duopoly partner
(Sinclair, of course) to "WB Las Vegas," KVWB (Channel 21).

TV and FM come mostly from Black Mountain, high above Henderson and
far past the end of any paved road. We saw it only from a distance,

We'll document all these sites in more detail in an upcoming Tower
Site of the Week series, of course.

Wednesday morning saw the rental NERW-mobile heading out of Las Vegas
towards Hoover Dam (neat tour!), then through the emptiness of Arizona
before arriving around dinnertime in Kingman. We stopped briefly at
KAAA (1230), with some regrets that its sister FM station on 94.7 is
no longer KZZZ, having taken the KFLG-FM calls that used to be on
102.7 in nearby Bullhead City (that facility is being rimshotted into
the Vegas market soon, and is dark for the moment). 

With some time left before sunset, the open road (in this case I-40,
old US 66) beckoned, and so we headed south and west towards the
California state line just in time to catch a legal ID from KTOX
(1340) in Needles, California, some 55 miles down the highway. (We
were hoping for one from KNTR 980 down in Lake Havasu City, too, but
they forgot to insert their own over the Phoenix station carrying the
Diamondbacks game...oops!)

And after Needles, we still had a little bit of daylight left, so we
drove north along the Colorado River in hopes of grabbing just a bit
of light by which to see the current KZZZ (1490) in Bullhead City. The
map directed us off Arizona 95 to a dirt road that snaked up and down
the hills for a couple of miles before depositing us next to the
little KZZZ stick. With the last rays of daylight behind us, we
snapped the picture, put the car in gear to get out of the dirt lot
next to the tower -- and heard the sickening crunch of a rock wedging
itself under the front passenger side of the car. 

Careful experimentation in the declining twilight showed us that
neither rock nor car was going to move without outside assistance, and
so we picked up the cell phone and called AAA, which dispatched
"Ronnie" the tow truck guy a short time later.

Some cursing, some shoveling, and $75 later, we were back on our
delayed way, crossing briefly over the river to see the explosive
growth of casinos in Laughlin, Nevada, then over the hills and back to
Kingman, 45 minutes away.

Kingman, Bullhead-Laughlin and Lake Havasu-Needles are all one big,
strange radio market; each community has its own AM stations (talk
KAAA in Kingman, talk KZZZ and standards KFLG 1000 in Bullhead, and
talk KTOX and sports KNTR in Lake Havasu-Needles), but pretty much
every one of the FMs in the market has translators in each
community. Further confusing matters is that many of the FMs are in
the midst of swapping calls and formats; in addition to the KFLG-KZZZ
thing, there's KLUK, recently moved from 107.9 Laughlin (another Las
Vegas move-in, now running jockless rhythmic oldies as KVGS) to 97.9
Needles, ex-KNKK; not to mention KJJJ (92.7 Lake Havasu City), which
was announcing its own upcoming move to 101.1, now "K-Rock"
KRRK. Confusing? Oh yeah...

And on Thursday morning, we awoke early for the four-hour trek down US
93 back to Phoenix, broken up only with a quick stop in the town of
Wickenburg to see the tower that carries oldies KBZG (1250) and
country KSWG (94.1), both running off the satellite.

Pulling into Phoenix, we used the hour or so before returning to the
airport to see a few things we'd missed the first time through: the
single stick of all-news KTKP (1280) near US 60 and I-17, still marked
with the old KHEP calls from its religion days; the "Uptown" studios
of KTAR (620), KMVP (860) and KKLT (98.7), the Emmis stations; the
unmarked studio building of independent KTVK (Channel 3) nearby; and a
few spots just north of downtown. KPNX (Channel 12) sits a few blocks
up Central Avenue from the 60-year home of KOY radio at 840
N. Central. We had seen the KOY calls on the recently-vacated building
the week before; it was a surprise to see they'd been removed during
our week away, leaving a blank wall to photograph. Oh well...

A block away from KOY sits the soon-to-be-vacated home of KFYI (550)
and KKFR (92.3). KFYI used to be on 910, and years ago used to be
KPHO(AM), and when it did, it used the old tower atop the adjacent
Westward Ho hotel. The tower still stands, and if it looks familiar,
well, it should: you see it in the famous opening shots of Alfred
Hitchcock's classic "Psycho"!

A quick drive past the studios of Fox's KSAZ-TV (Channel 10) downtown,
an even quicker stop at the KOY (1230) tower on the west side, and we
were back at the airport, returning the car and catching the flight
back home.

Stay tuned...we'll feature many of these sites in more detail on the
Site of the Week page later this summer.

[And if you missed all the pictures from the trip, you can still find
them on the Web at <http://www.fybush.com/nerw-010528.html>,]

*That's it for this week; we'll be back with a regular NERW next
Monday before embarking on this summer's travels. Check out the Travel
page at fybush.com to see if we'll be in your neighborhood!

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

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