WNUC is one of the oldest FM licenses in Western New York, tracing its lineage back to 1948, when, as WFNF, it was part of the early Rural Radio Network that relayed WQXR-FM New York across the state. In later years, as WRRL and then as WBIV, it was part of the Christian Broadcasting Network's "Ivy Network" that supplanted Rural Radio in the 1960s.
In 1982, WBIV was sold and became WUWU, a quirky rock station that gained a following across Buffalo and into Rochester, where its signal penetrated well (and still does). WUWU later went jazz, then easy listening as WEZQ. Current seller John Casciani purchased the station in 1988 as smooth-jazz WBMW, flipping it to country as WNUC "New Country" a short time later.
Even as talks leading to the sale were taking place, WNUC modified its format last month, becoming harder-edged country as "The Bullet" (leading one local wag, on hearing of the sale, to quip, "So the Bullet missed its target?")
This is the latest sign of Adelphia's committment to the Buffalo market; the company is also negotiating with the city of Buffalo to build a major office building on the city's waterfront to accomodate the space needs the company can no longer meet in its tiny hometown of Coudersport, Pennsylvania.
Out in the 'burbs, PD Darrin Smith leaves WYNY (107.1 Briarcliff Manor) and its "Y107" sisters ringing the metro to become operations manager of inyourradio.com, yet another Net startup.
Upstate, Mike Doyle moves down the Thruway from Pilot's Syracuse group (WNSS, WNTQ, WAQX, WLTI), where he was market manager, to become GM of Entercom's Rochester group (WEZO, WBEE-FM, WQRV, WBBF). Still to be filled at Entercom: openings for a CE and a night slammer for "99BBF".
One to ponder: Our Indiana Radio Watch counterpart, Blaine Thompson, checks in with a question concerning Auricle Communications, the operator of WFMU (91.1 East Orange NJ) and its Catskill satellite, WXHD (90.1 Mount Hope). Anyone who knows why Auricle now has a CP in, of all places, Chesterton, Indiana is asked to contact us and we'll pass it along to Blaine....
Our condolences to family and fans of Russ "The Moose" Syracuse, who died April 18 at age 70. While Syracuse was better known for his West Coast work at KYA and other San Francisco stations, his career began in Upstate New York, with his nickname coming from a particularly noisy entrance into the WKBW studios circa 1962.
"Univision 18"? Sure looks that way, according to an item in this week's Broadcasting & Cable. It seems that WHCT, along with WNDS (Channel 50) in Derry NH, WFMZ-TV (Channel 69) in Allentown PA, and WACI (Channel 62) in Atlantic City NJ, was identified as one of several stations to be acquired by Entravision, whose stations are all Univision affiliates. While Entravision is now embroiled in a lawsuit by the station broker who arranged the deals, it appears that the sale of WHCT may still take place...stay tuned.
Monroe's WMNR (88.1) wants to add three new translators to its network. Among the applications this week: 91.9 in Watertown CT, 89.1 in Waterville CT, and an 88.3 identified as "Waterville, Colorado." We have our doubts on this one...
With hockey out of season, WCAP (980 Lowell) needed something else to fill its Saturday nights, and in steps Gary Francis, whose "Saturday Night Sock Hop" will run from 7 till midnight.
More on the Winter Arbitrons next week, but for now we'll just note that WBZ (1030) dominated Boston's 12+ book, as it traditionally does each winter, putting more than three points between itself and number-two WMJX. Down at the bottom, WBOT (97.7 Brockton) made its first appearance above the line, tied with new talker WTKK (96.9) despite the latter's huge signal advantage. Also placing well despite a signal deficiency in Boston proper: soft AC WPLM-FM (99.1), which tied WBOS (92.9 Brookline)...and we're still not gonna speculate about what those ratings could mean for the future of 'BOS's format.
And while we don't normally mention cable TV in this column, we can't ignore the big trade that's moving cable customers in Boston, Brookline, and some western suburbs from Cablevision to MediaOne. In exchange, Long Island-based Cablevision gets MediaOne's systems in the New York metro, consolidating its hold on just about everything in the area outside the city itself. (MediaOne, meantime, now dominates pretty much all of eastern New England...)
Finally this week, a few words about the FCC's formal Report and Order on noncommercial station licensing:
It's not a perfect solution, but NERW thinks the FCC's plan to use a point system to decide between competing applicants for noncommercial stations is a pretty good one. To recap: The plan would use a point system to choose the winners for each contested frequency, with three points going to local applicants, two to statewide public radio outlets, two to those with no other broadcast outlets, and ties decided by which applicant has the fewest other stations and pending apps.
What we really like about this proposal is this: it includes translators. What we like even more is this: it includes an immediate freeze on new noncomm applications of all kinds, until the new rules can be put into effect.
So for the mammoth translator abusers, this means that any of their applications can be easily quashed simply by the presence of a competing local allocation. That's the good part.
But the new rules also have a negative side to them. Like the LPFM rules, these rules assume that it's always in the public interest to fill any available frequency. That's not good news for noncomm stations like Boston's WUMB (91.9), which has been forced into filing defensive applications for frequencies on its own fringes to keep them from being nibbled away by new noncomms. (Under the new rules, which won't apply to currently-pending applications like WUMB's, the station would lose its 91.7 Stow proposal in favor of WAVM's power upgrade, and would lose its 91.3 Orleans application to the competing proposal from WOMR Provincetown for the frequency).
While we remain in favor of additional outlets for community broadcasting, and we think the latest noncomm plan is a huge step towards ensuring that such outlets truly belong to their communities (though we suspect the big religious chains will start using local "strawmen" to file their applications), we're increasingly convinced that there has to be a way for the FCC to begin addressing the crowding that's making huge chunks of the FM dial all but unusable in some areas. There's a difference between broadcast services like FM radio and point-to-point services like cellular and PCS, but it's getting lost quickly. How about points for existing stations trying to hang on to their fringe coverage without needing to add to the noise?
That's all for another week...see you in May!