You may recall our musing back on April 7 about how nice it would be to see the WMJQ calls return to Rochester after being dropped by Buffalo's 102.5, now "Star" WTSS. The idea struck a chord with station owner George Kimble, who promptly grabbed the WMJQ calls for Brockport's 105.5, the erstwhile WASB-FM.
Overly alert readers of NERW might recall that 105.5 had been granted a call change to WRPO last June (and it turns out we weren't off-base in thinking that might have something to do with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra), but that call was never actually used, and 105.5 remained a simulcast of religious WASB (1590 Brockport).
We're told the WMJQ calls will be back on the Rochester airwaves on Monday (4/24), with a new tower site for the station to be announced soon as well.
Minor irony here: The original WMJQ in Rochester (92.5, now WBEE-FM) is now owned by Entercom, the same group that dropped the WMJQ calls in Buffalo last month.
NERW's next project: getting the "WVET" calls back on Flower City radio...
Over in Buffalo, WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls) has collected more than 5 million pennies as part of this year's "High School Spirit" contest. Last year, listeners sent in postcards to vote for their favorite high school; this time around, the collected coins amount to a $50,000-plus donation (and counting) to Children's Hospital. (NERW thinks those AM 1520 listeners must be responsible for the huge growth of the contest this year!) The contest wraps up May 5, with the winner to be announced a week later.
"Clear"-ing things up in Albany: It's Concord Media Group that will be picking up WTRY (980 Troy) for $1.6 million as part of the Clear Channel/AMFM spinoffs -- and we hear Concord will then negotiate an LMA that will leave Clear Channel running AM 980. We also hear a format change from oldies is in the works for the AM. (Concord also gets KVET 1300 in Austin as part of the spins; it was also involved in a three-way swap in Tampa in which it traded what was once WSUN 620 for the former Clear Channel facility on 570 in Pinellas Park, Florida).
From the Syracuse rumor mill: We hear Clear Channel is sweeping the airstaff out of WHCD (106.9 Auburn) as it prepares to take over the smooth-jazz station...but then we've also been hearing rumors of a Clear Channel format change at Albany's WXCR (102.3 Ballston Spa), supposedly from classic rock to CCU's pre-fab "Kiss" CHR format, for weeks now, so a grain of salt (of which there's plenty in Salt City) is appropriate...
Just over the state line from the Catskills, WPSN (1590) in Honesdale PA has been granted night power. WPSN keeps its 2500 watts by day, but builds a second tower for 200 watts directional at night. Down US 6 in the Scranton market, we left out the other adult-standards outlet remaining in the wake of the WEJL/WBAX format change to sports: WEMR (1460 Tunkhannock) added WKJN (1440 Carbondale) to its satellite standards programming when former sister station WKQV (1550 Pittston) went dark a few months back.
A couple of new Web sites this week, and they're both for Fox stations: New York's WNYW includes a history going back to the DuMont days. Not to be outdone, Boston Fox O&O WFXT is up with its own new site, albeit with no mention of the WXNE (or WREP-TV) days.
Congratulations to Paula Messina, who moves up from sales manager to market manager for Clear Channel's Hartford cluster. She replaces Robert Williams, who's on the way to Philadelphia to run Clear Channel's group there.
We hear the days are numbered for Channel 68 (WBPX)'s current home at 1660 Soldiers Field Road; the former supermarket space that was renovated by then-WQTV a few years back is being sold to Staples, whose original store already occupies half the building. NERW hears local production firm Videoline was an usuccessful bidder for the studios. No word yet on where WBPX is moving, or when.
"Superadio" is for sale, according to R&R Online. The syndicator, whose offerings include John Garabedian's "Open House Party," is being shopped to other radio network groups and expects a buyer soon.
Some insight into the decisions by Affinity and Power to drop their applications for 105.7 in Kingston: it seems both groups, which already operate AM/FM combos in the market, are hoping to convince the CRTC not to award any new license at all in Kingston, saying the advertising dollars are already stretched thinly enough among the four Canadian stations and the U.S. stations that target the market from across the St. Lawrence.
Finally this week, some heartening news from the FCC: The agency has adopted a new method for deciding among competing applicants for noncommercial radio and TV licenses. New frequencies will be awarded based on a point system, with strong preferences for local ownership, local schools, and groups with no other stations. This is bad news for the national religious chains that have been adding an increasing number of new primary-signal applications along with their hundreds upon hundreds of satellite-fed translators (and it's often hard to tell the difference, since many of the primaries are also little more than satellite-fed clones with no significant local presence. This is outstanding news for stations like Boston's WUMB, which is facing a slew of out-of-state applications for new stations at the fringes of its 91.9 signal.
It's also still something short of a real solution, since it forces the local stations to go to the trouble of filing mutually-exclusive applications for new primaries on their own fringes (like WUMB's 91.7 Stow application) in situations where the better solution would be for no new signal to go on the air at all. It's no great surprise, though, from a Commission whose unstated desire seems to be to fill every available hole on the FM dial with some sort of a signal, viable or not, by the end of the year if not sooner.
More thoughts on that matter, especially as it pertains to LPFM, in the weeks to come...
That's it for this quiet week; see you next Friday!