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NERW 6/4: Utica Goes "Quick"
--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
June 4, 2001
IN THIS ISSUE:
*NEW YORK: Clear Channel Keeps Stunting in Utica
*MASSACHUSETTS: Anastos Buys The (Willow) Farm
*EVERYWHERE: We Hit the Road
-----------------------------by Scott Fybush-----------------------------
*Five years after Cox threw it on the air as a format-flipping stunt
format, radio geeks are still talking about the one day of "Quick 108"
at Syracuse's WHEN-FM (107.9, now WWHT). So it's not surprising to
hear that the "just the hooks" loop of music-testing tapes has
returned to the central NEW YORK airwaves.
This time it's 50 miles down the Thruway in Utica, and this time it's
Clear Channel doing the "Quick" thing, while it waits to announce a
new format for WSKS (102.5 Rome). The station's old "Kiss" CHR format
migrated down (and up) the dial to the former "Wow FM," WOWZ (97.9
Whitesboro) and WOWB (105.5 Little Falls) last week, and the leading
rumor now suggests the permanent format on 102.5 will be country,
challenging Forever's market-leading WFRG-FM (104.3 Utica).
The only big question left is: when will the flip finally happen? As
of press time late Monday evening, WSKS is still "Quick"...
Which reminds us - Utica's the featured subject on Tower Site of the
Week this week. Check it out at fybush.com!
[Late update: WSKS switched to "K-Garth," a stunt format of all
Garth Brooks music, Tuesday night.]
*It's been a good week for the engineers at Family Life Network. After
years of serving Rochester through rimshot signals from WCIY (88.9
Canandaigua) and WCOU (88.3 Warsaw), the Bath-based religious
broadcaster now has a transmitter in the city of Rochester
itself. W220DE (91.9 Greece) began broadcasting late last week, using
27 watts from the WRMM-FM (101.3) tower on Colfax Street, on the
city's west side. W220DE translates WCIY, by the way...
FLN also received a license to cover for its new Cortland
transmitter. W222AH (92.3) rebroadcasts WCII (88.5 Spencer).
One more Rochester note, before we move along: it took nearly two
years, but former WPXY-FM (97.9) program director Clarke Ingram says
98PXY has finally removed his photo and bio from their Web
site. Better late than never, we suppose...
Syracuse's WNSS (1260) is about to change formats again. The erstwhile
home of the now-defunct Comedy World network has been simulcasting
Citadel sister WLTI (105.9) for the last few months; within the next
90 days, we're told, it will relaunch as "ESPN Radio 1260," with
Syracuse University football and basketball as well as Buffalo Bills
football in the fall, challenging Clear Channel's WHEN (620) for the
sports radio audience in the Salt City.
Up in the North Country, correspondent Mike Roach has been diligently
keeping tabs on a frequency swap up there, and he reports that it all
became official early Friday morning: Mark down "WYSI" as the new
calls on 96.7 Canton, now part of the "Yes FM" chain that also
includes WYUL (94.7 Chateaugay) and WYSX (98.7 Ogdensburg), while the
new 96.1 Norwood signal takes the old WVLF calls from Canton, becoming
"The Valley 96.1." Despite a signal advertised as 25 kW, Mike reports
he's having trouble hearing the 96.1 signal at home in Ogdensburg.
One we inadvertently left out last week: a visit to the Southern Tier
turned up a delayed format change in Elmira. Months after announcing
the planned switch, WENY (1230) is at last relaying the talk
programming of new sister station WCLI (1450 Corning). WENY had
continued with its satellite oldies format even after its sister FM,
WENY-FM (92.7), picked up a simulcast of WCLI sister WCBA-FM (98.7)
last winter. "Two-Way Radio" is the slogan now being used by both WENY
and WCLI, and for those who keep track of such things, we suspect WENY
now gets its mail at the Davis Road, Corning address of WCLI.
Downstate, Long Island's WLIM (1580 Patchogue) returned to the air
late last week under its new Polnet ownership. We're hearing reports
of a weaker-than-normal signal and of intermittent audio
problems. We're also hearing that Polnet is up to the same tricks it
used when it bought WRKL (910 New City) a few years ago. Back then, it
claimed WRKL was a "New York City" signal, a stretch at the very
least. Now we hear Polnet is claiming WLIM reaches the Polish
community in Riverhead, which must come as a surprise to WFTU (1570),
the Riverhead station on the next channel over.
Pirate radio operator Ibar Mohammed had a visit from U.S. marshals
last week, arresting him for operating sans license on 89.3 MHz in
Queens and Brooklyn. Mohammed apparently failed to respond to warning
letters from the FCC, prompting the law-enforcement visit.
The new assistant music director at WFUV (90.7 New York) has a
familiar name. Steve Fornatale is the son of legendary jock Pete
Fornatale, who happens to be doing Saturday afternoons on 'FUV of
late. The younger Fornatale replaces Rich McLaughlin in the AMD chair
at the Fordham University station.
Congratulations to Rich Wood; the former WOR Radio Network head has
landed a new post as general manager of Doug Stephan productions,
putting his syndication skills to work for Stephan's "Good Day USA"
And our condolences to friends and family of Donna Speziale Richards;
the former WHEN (620 Syracuse) news director died last week while on
vacation in Florida, suffering an aneurysm at age 43. In addition to
her stint at WHEN, she also worked as a reporter at WFBL and WHEN-TV
in the Salt City.
*We move over to MASSACHUSETTS with a surprise group sale. After
spending the past few years assembling a ring of small AM stations
around Boston, Keating Willcox sold most of his Willow Farm group this
Ernie Anastos, who's built his own suburban radio ring around Albany
in the last few years (WQAR Stillwater, WUAM Saratoga Springs, WVKZ
Schenectady and WMVI Mechanicville), is the buyer, and we've yet to
hear a purchase price. The Big Apple TV news anchor and his partners
at Anastos Broadcast Group end up with WPEP (1570 Taunton), WMSX (1410
Brockton), WGAW (1340 Gardner), WMVU (900 Nashua NH) and WNRI (1380
Woonsocket RI), leaving Willcox back at square one with his very first
property, WNSH (1570 Beverly).
The Willow Farm stations have been running a mostly-satellite talk
format, with a little local content at each. Will Anastos plug in the
standards "Moon" or classic country "Sun" formats he's using in
Albany? We'll keep you posted...
We won't indulge WFNX (101.7 Lynn) afternoon jock Birdsey, who's
looking for publicity for his feud with WBCN (104.1 Boston)'s Nik
Carter. The latest round included a fake obituary in a Worcester
newspaper, and worse; we're thinking that if we were in Carter's
shoes, we just might be flattered to have the competition expending so
much energy against us.
*Where are they now? Daria Bruno made a big leap away from RHODE
ISLAND; the former WWBB (101.5 Providence) morning jock is now down in
Monroe, Louisiana, working as PD for country station KMYY.
*A station sale in CONNECTICUT: Candido Carrelo gets $425,000 for
Bridgeport's WDJZ (1530) from Peoples Broadcasting Network. Peoples
runs religion on WJSS (1330 Havre de Grace MD) and KTLD (1110
Pineville LA), so a format change from ethnic on WDJZ seems likely.
*Up in VERMONT, Steven Silberberg adds WFAD (1490 Middlebury) to his
station group, paying Kathryn Messner's Lakeside Media $180,000 for
the station. Silberberg also owns WXAL (93.7 Addison) nearby, as well
as stations in Montpelier (WNCS/WSKI), Royalton (WRJT), Manchester,
N.H. (WKBR) and Haverhill, MA (WXRV).
*Chris Centore is out and Mark Austin is in on afternoon drive at WHOB
(106.3) in Nashua, NEW HAMPSHIRE.
*One bit of MAINE news: Daniel Priestly has been granted a
construction permit for a new AM on 1230 in Hermon, near Bangor. It's
one of three AM channels in the area that he won at the recent FCC
auction; word is that they'll have some sort of religious format when
*There's a new morning show in CANADA's largest city: comedian Kenny
Robinson is the latest choice for wakeup duty at urban CFXJ (Flow
93.5). Up in northeastern Ontario, we hear CJNH (1240 Bancroft) is now
on the air with its new 50 kW FM signal at 97.7, which means that AM
frequency should go silent in a matter of months. "The Moose" is the
nickname being used on 97.7.
*South central PENNSYLVANIA is getting its first full-time commercial
Hispanic station. All Access reports "Radio Omega," which has been
running a micropower operation in Harrisburg, is now leasing WPDC
(1600 Elizabethtown), replacing sports on the station midway between
Harrisburg and Lancaster.
Speaking of Harrisburg, there's word that Clear Channel will soon try
again to replace the oldies on WWKL-FM (99.3) with its CHR "Kiss"
format. The last attempt, last summer, was quashed by Citadel, which
sued to enforce a non-compete that accompanied its purchase of
established CHR WNNK (104.1). That agreement is apparently near
expiration, so we're expecting to hear "Kool" on 99.3 for the last
time when we drive through next weekend.
We're also told that WITF (89.5) and WITF-TV (Channel 33) are
operating at lower-than-usual power during a tower-replacement project
at their site in the hills on the west side of the Susquehanna.
Out in State College, "Froggy" WFGI (94.5) wants to double its power,
jumping (pardon the pun) from 940 watts to 1900 watts and raising its
antenna by a couple of meters.
Across the state line just a bit in Ohio, Stop 26 Riverbend applied
this week to buy WASN (1330 Campbell) from Daniel Ott, and we hear the
plan is to move the religious format of Stop 26's WGFT (1500
Youngstown) down the dial to the dual-site 1330 operation (the old
WHOT from days gone by).
Up the road a bit in Cleveland, here's the latest on the big format
swap due to take place in a month or so: the standards format
disappearing from WRMR (850) will be picked up by AM 1420, one of the
new properties belonging to the WCLV classical radio folks when they
give up their big 95.5 FM signal. With Salem poised to move its WKNR
sports format from 1220 down to 850, WCLV moving its calls and
classical format from 95.5 to the west suburban 104.9 Lorain signal,
Clear Channel apparently planning to move its "Kiss" WAKS from 104.9
to WKDD Akron's 96.5 spot and WKDD to the 98.1 Canton that's now
Salem's religious WHK-FM, that just leaves a few more swaps to be
worked out: will the WHK(AM) calls stay on Salem's Parma-licensed 1000
signal (formerly WCCD), or will they move to 1220 with the religion
that's now on WHKK 1420 (the longtime WHK)? And will Salem, as
expected, install its Christian contemporary "Fish" format on 95.5? We
should know July 1...scorecards are for sale in the lobby on your way
(And in the meantime, Infinity ditched jammin' oldies from WZJM
92.3 Cleveland Heights this week, replacing the ailing format with an
active rock playlist.)
*We'll have a chance to hear all the fun "before" and "after," as it
were: Cleveland is one of the many cities we'll be passing through as
part of our busy travel schedule over the next few weeks. As a
result, expect some changes in our NERW publication schedule during
June and July:
We'll publish on Tuesday, June 12, instead of Monday, June 11, as we
return from our excursion to Washington D.C. and points en route.
We'll publish a regular NERW on Monday, June 18, followed by a special
issue that will appear Friday, June 22, dated June 25-July 2. There
will be no regular NERW July 2, since we'll be on the road exploring
the midwest, but watch fybush.com for regular updates from the road,
if all goes well, followed by a regular NERW issue on July 9.
Want a closer look at the schedule? Visit
<http://www.fybush.com/travel.html> to see if we'll be near you this
summer! We love to meet our readers, especially where there's a studio
or transmitter tour involved.
-----------------------NorthEast Radio Watch------------------------
(c)2001 Scott Fybush
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