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NERW 10/1: End of an Era at WSNJ
--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
October 1, 2001
IN THIS ISSUE:
*NEW JERSEY: WSNJ Sold For Reported $20 Million
*VERMONT: Layoffs End Local Programming at WBTN
*CONNECTICUT: WGCH Evicted from Tower Site
-----------------------------by Scott Fybush-----------------------------
*It's not often that we start a NERW report in NEW JERSEY, but this
week, that's where the big story seems to be. To be precise, it's in
Bridgeton, way down at the southern end of the Garden State, where
aficionados of quirky local radio have long prized WSNJ (107.7/1240)
as an exemplary specimen of the kind of full-service station that
disappeared most places years ago.
Under the ownership of Ed Bold, WSNJ today sounds pretty much the same
way it did a couple of decades ago - everything from lost-dog
announcements to school menus, with a few songs here and there, a
top-hour ID that still proudly proclaims that the FM signal is "in
stereo," and a midnight signoff.
But at the age of 82, Bold has decided to retire, and that means WSNJ
has been sold. The Bridgeton News reported Thursday that Bold will
receive $20 million for the station, including its real estate and
prominent self-supporting tower, from an unidentified buyer "from
South Carolina." That, in turn, immediatedly prompted speculation
involving the Beasley family, which owns a Philadelphia cluster that
includes WXTU (92.5) and WPTP (96.5) - though we'd be quick to note
that Beasley Broadcasting is currently headquartered in south Florida.
We'll be following this one closely in the weeks to come.
Another shakeup in the Garden State came at Greater Media's flagship
stations in New Brunswick, where VP/GM Andy Santoro was shown the door
after nine years at the helm of WCTC (1450) and WMGQ (98.3). Santoro
is being replaced by Dan Finn, who adds WCTC/WMGQ to his GM
responsibilities at new Greater Media acquisitions WMTR/WDHA/WRAT in
*As long as we're starting on the southern end of NERW-land, let's
head to PENNSYLVANIA next, where we hear WURD (900 Philadelphia) has
been silent for a few days while awaiting the start of a new
Across the state line, but with signals audible in some parts of the
Keystone State, we've been remiss in failing to note two big swaps:
Baltimore's oldies station, WQSR, has moved from the
Catonsville-licensed 105.7 stick to the stronger Baltimore-licensed
102.7, sending WXYV to 105.7 as an urban-formatted outlet called "The
X." To the west, the powerful 97.5 signal from Martinsburg, West
Virginia that was a rocker as WKMZ is now an AC outlet as WLTF, with
WKMZ moving to the weaker Hagerstown-market 95.9 signal, licensed to
Williamsport MD, that was WLTF. (WKMZ adds the Greaseman show, too.)
Back in Pennsylvania, things have been busy up at Clear Channel's
Pittsburgh cluster, as afternoon driver Bumper Morgan and assistant
PD/MD Kenny Woods are out at oldies WWSW (94.5). Mike Fraser, who did
afternoons at 3WS for a decade, returns there after just over a year
down the hall doing mornings on "Jammin'" WJJJ (104.7). Woods had been
voice-tracking nights on 3WS, and it's not clear what becomes of that
timeslot. At WJJJ, meanwhile, Chris Reynolds will now handle the
morning show solo as well as voice-tracking nights, while Rose
Ryan-Douglas will now be heard with morning news on WJJJ as well as on
3WS. And their boss will be busier, too: John Rohm adds Clear
Channel's Johnstown and Wheeling clusters to his duties as market
executive VP for Pittsburgh.
One more from the Steel City: WOGI (98.3 Charleroi) has been granted
its city-of-license change to Duquesne. Watch for some signal
improvements on this one soon...
*Moving north to NEW YORK, Buffalo's WTSS (102.5) is filing to make
some changes to its big grandfathered signal. The former WBEN-FM (and
later WMJQ) will stay at the WIVB-TV (Channel 4) tower in Colden, but
it will move down the big stick a bit, to a new eight-bay Shively
antenna 355 meters above average terrain. It's currently running 110
kW from 408 meters up, but we suspect WIVB's digital conversion is
making tower space a precious commodity out there.
Across town, we hear WEDG (103.3 Buffalo) and PD Rich Wall have parted
ways; no word yet on a replacement.
In the Rochester market, WMJQ (105.5 Brockport) has been granted its
application to move from its current spot on a tower of sister station
WASB (1590 Brockport) to a full 6 kW from 100 meters above average
terrain, from a new tower on Brick Schoolhouse Road way out in
Hamlin. We're guessing the distance will still make this a tough catch
in most of the Rochester area.
Always on the alert, Mrs. NERW caught something surprising on WBBF-FM
(93.3 Avon) Friday afternoon around 3:30 - no signal at all! The
oldies station was back on an hour or so later, but a drive out to the
tower of sister station WBEE-FM (92.5 Rochester) Sunday afternoon
wiped out our first guess about the cause of the dead air: there's
still no sign of new antenna bays for WBBF-FM on the WBEE stick, and
the 93.3 signal out at that site in Penfield is as weak as you'd
expect it to be from the old site 20 miles south in Livingston
County. Still, we hear from those inside WBBF that the tower move
(accompanied by a city of license change to Fairport) could happen
within a few weeks, so we'll keep listening.
Our drive Sunday took us to Syracuse as well, in search of the final
issue of the Herald-Journal, which ceased publication Saturday
(leaving New York City itself as the last two-paper town in the
state), but while we were there we noticed another dark signal: there
was no sign of WXBB (105.1 DeRuyter), and we're not sure why. We did
check out the night site of WSIV (1540 East Syracuse), which turns out
to be a fiberglass pole atop a former bank building that's now a
church, on the southeast corner of South Avenue and Colden Street in a
neighborhood that's seen better days. Our radio stopped on 1260 long
enough to hear that the legal ID for the sports outlet is still
One more Syracuse surprise: translator W249BC (97.7 Chittenango) was
relaying WZUN (102.1 Phoenix) instead of listed WKRL.
On the personnel side of things, Rich Lauber adds one more duty to his
list as operations manager of Clear Channel's Syracuse cluster: he's
now serving as PD of WYYY (94.5) along with WBBS/WXBB.
Up in Watertown, WNER (1410) has filed for a license to cover, which
we think moves it from its old two-tower facilities southeast of town
to the WTNY (790) array alongside I-81 south of town; we'll try to get
up there before winter sets in to see what's left of the old site on
route 12. Also up north, we're hearing reports that WLPW (105.5 Lake
Placid) has moved from AAA to classic rock; we'll have to check that
one out on the Webcast this week.
Moving towards Albany, WQBJ (103.5 Cobleskill) has been granted a
change of city of license to St. Johnsville; for now, the transmitter
stays right where it is, two miles or so northeast of Canajoharie.
In Albany itself, WRGB (Channel 6) says goodbye to anchor Brad
Holbrook; after several years of commuting up during the week from his
family's home near New York City, he's decided to stay closer to his
wife and children, which we hear means an anchor job at Time Warner's
New York 1. WRGB launches its new "Our World" newscast on October 8 at
4:30 PM, delayed from an originally planned launch September 24.
On the radio side, we hear "Uncle Vito" is leaving the night shift at
WPYX (106.5) after a 17 year run; best of luck!
Around the state, there have been petitions to deny filed against just
about every LPFM application from the New York Department of
Transportation; they're all labelled "informal," which means the FCC
probably won't give them much attention as it digests the slew of LPFM
apps from the Empire State.
And downstate, the recovery continues from the loss of the World Trade
Center. We hear higher-power transmitters are on the way to Alpine,
N.J. to help WNBC, WABC and WPIX improve their interim signals; we're
also hearing from viewers in Connecticut, Westchester and even
Brooklyn who can't see the signals from Alpine or Empire. The
broadcasters have banded together to figure out what they're going to
do for the long haul, but it sounds like it could be as long as three
years before those signals are close to being restored (and even then,
they're not likely to be as strong as they were from 1 WTC). Pax's
WPXN, by the way, has settled in near First Mountain in East Orange,
N.J., and is expecting a high-powered transmitter to be installed
there in the next few weeks, making for a third interim site in
addition to Alpine and the Empire State.
*Just across the state line in CONNECTICUT, WGCH (1490 Greenwich) is
trying to stay on the air in the face of an eviction notice. The
little community station has known for two years that it will have to
abandon its tower at 175 W. Putman Ave., a move it's wanted to make
anyway, since new construction has blocked much of the signal from
that aging facility. Now it appears WGCH's landlord has run out of
patience, leading to a September 17 notice to vacate the site and
remove the tower.
WGCH's latest plan for a new site, in the face of what its owner calls
the "severe, almost draconian zoning regulations" in Greenwich,
involve the parking lot of the Cos Cob Marina on River Road, about two
miles from the present site. WGCH has asked the FCC to move quickly on
approving the use of a very short Valcom fiberglass whip antenna, a
type only approved until now for daytimers (the first one being WSHP
1480 in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania). We'll keep you posted on WGCH's
status as the eviction notice works its way through the system; we
believe the station remains on the air for now.
Over in New Haven, Clear Channel's post-attack programming changes
returned a familiar voice to the air: Glenn Beck, whose talk show
based at Clear Channel's WFLA (970 Tampa) is being fed to other Clear
Channel stations, is again being heard on WELI (960), where he used to
work before leaving for Florida. WELI, like so many stations, has
bumped Laura Schlessinger from the schedule for the duration.
*Over in RHODE ISLAND, there's a new voice doing nights at WPRO-FM
(92.3 Providence). Robby Bridges, formerly with Boston's WODS, takes
over from Shannon in that timeslot.
*A very quiet week in MASSACHUSETTS...but we hear the next few weeks
could bring an announcement that C-Net Radio is coming to the Boston
airwaves. The San Francisco-based service, currently heard only on
KNEW (910 Oakland), has said since its launch almost two years ago
that it wants a Boston affiliate - could leased time on WBPS or WKOX
be the answer?
*There's confirmation this week of some unhappy rumors we've been
hearing from southern VERMONT: the Bennington Banner reports all but
two staffers have been laid off from WBTN (1370), more or less ending
the noble experiment in live, local programming there. Tim Thompson is
still on board doing news, but most of the programming now heard on
WBTN is coming from a hard drive, and the station's future appears
dim. Owner Robert Howe declined to comment to the paper.
Up in Burlington, Arbitron is paying more attention to what's being
listened to: the market has added Clinton and Essex counties in New
York and Addison and Franklin counties in Vermont to the existing
Chittenden and Grand Isle, and is now getting two surveys a year as
the "Burlington-Plattsburgh VT-NY" market.
Over in Montpelier, Jody Peterson is the new PD at WNCS (104.7) and
its "Point" sisters.
*One bit of MAINE news, while we await next week's big TV affiliation
switch: Clear Channel is paying $1.8 million to turn its LMA of
Mountain Wireless' WSKW (1160) and WHQO (107.9) in Skowhegan into an
*Up in CANADA, the CRTC will hold hearings December 3 in Hamilton on
six applications for new TV stations in Toronto, Hamilton and
Kitchener. All six applicants want stations on channel 52 in Toronto,
with powers ranging from 14.7 to 427 kW visual, and they are:
Alliance-Atlantis (which also wants 46 in Hamilton and 39 in
Kitchener), CFMT/Rogers, Craig (which also wants 45 in Hamilton), CTV
(which also wants 39 in Kitchener/Waterloo), Global (which also wants
46 in Hamilton and 39 in Kitchener) and Torstar (which also wants 16
in Hamilton and 39 in Kitchener).
The most detailed programming proposal of the bunch comes from CFMT,
which would turn its existing channel 47 signal into a
"Euro-Latino-Caribbean" multicultural signal and move the current Pan
Asian and African programming to a new "CFMT Too." Craig, which runs
the "A Channel" independent stations in western Canada, would do
English-language multicultural programming, while Global says it would
offer 15 hours a week of local programming in each city along with 48
hours a week of programming from the new digital satellite and cable
services in Canada.
We heard a surprise this weekend on St. Catharines' 105.7 (CHRE):
instead of the longtime "Light 105.7" moniker, it's now using the "EZ
Rock" nickname of its Telemedia sister stations around the province,
including CJEZ (97.3) just across the lake in Toronto.
Up in Cornwall, Corus has applied to buy CJUL (1220), CJSS (101.9) and
CFLG (104.5) from longtime owner Tri-Co; reported purchase price for
the three is C$4,041,000.
Way up in Rimouski, Quebec, the CBC wants to boost the power on
CJBR-FM (89.1) from 5500 watts to 19,400 watts. (Does anyone know for
certain whether the AM signal on 900 is still on the air? We thought
it was to have gone silent by now, but we're still seeing it reported
in DX newsletters...)
Finally, we're saddened to report the passing of Ottawa radio news
veteran Hal Anthony, who succumbed to a heart attack Thursday (9/27)
at his home in Kemptville, Ontario. Anthony, born Harold Bitz in
Saskatchewan, came to Ottawa's CKOY (now CIWW) in 1958. In 1974, he
became director of the CHUM Group's national news operations, as well
as anchor of the CHUM National News. After a brief sojourn at the CBC
in 1979-80, Anthony returned to CHUM and CFRA (580 Ottawa) for another
decade, and continued to appear occasionally after retiring in
1990. Anthony was 68; a memorial service will take place Tuesday
(Oct. 2) at 11 AM at the Hulse Playfair and McGarry Funeral Home at
315 McLeod St., Ottawa.
*On a much happier note: we're ready to begin taking advance orders
for a product we're very excited about. If you enjoy Tower Site of the
Week each week on fybush.com, we think you'll love the opportunity to
hang some great AM, FM and TV sites on your wall all year long.
That's right: by slight popular demand, it's the Tower Site 2002
Calendar, featuring 12 full-color images of exciting broadcast
facilities from New Brunswick to Nebraska, and you can get your order
in now for November delivery!
Each full-color calendar will cost $15[*], postage paid, to US addresses
(US$20 postage paid to Canadian addresses). We'll only print as many
as are ordered by October 29, so don't hesitate. Make those checks
payable to "Scott Fybush," and get them in the mail to 92 Bonnie Brae
Avenue, Rochester NY 14618, and you too can have something more
exciting than puppies or rainbows to decorate your cubicle, bedroom or
locker all year long.
And did we mention that it's the only calendar on the market to
include such important dates as Edwin Armstrong's birthday and the
debut of WNAC?
Buying the Tower Site Calendar (or, better yet, several Tower Site
Calendars) helps support this very column, so you can even tell
yourself it's for a good cause. Order now, won't you?
One more note: If you want to put your business or Web site in front
of NERW's vast audience all year long, contact us right now about
sponsorship opportunities in the Tower Site Calendar. It's not too
[* New York residents please include appropriate sales tax for your
jurisdiction. Please allow until late November for production and
shipping of Tower Site Calendars. Spousal approval may be required for
public display of Tower Site Calendars; please check with appropriate
spouse/companion/roommate before ordering.]
*That's it for another week! Now that we have our ISP issues
temporarily resolved (with a permanent solution on the way in a couple
of weeks), we're back with Site of the Week on Wednesday - don't miss
Part VI of this summer's Big Trip, as we visit beautiful South Dakota!
-----------------------NorthEast Radio Watch------------------------
(c)2001 Scott Fybush
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