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.
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 Gloversville.
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 nondirectional.
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.)
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 either.
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.
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.
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.
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 program.)
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.
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.
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...
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 Canadians!)
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 class-B station that's been on that (formerly clear) 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 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, alas.
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.
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!