(A "special mid-summer double issue" this week, as our travel schedule kept us on the road longer than planned last week...)
Energy moved to 95.3 with high hopes a couple of years ago, after launching on the weaker 107.9 signal licensed to nearby Burlington. (That signal became home to classic rock "Y108" CJXY, which had occupied 95.3 as "Y95.") In the meantime, Energy had expanded to four other signals: CKGE 94.9 Oshawa, which has since returned to its old modern AC format; CHAY 93.1 Barrie and CFHK 103.1 St. Thomas-London. CHAY and CFHK will stay with the Energy format, as far as we know.
Corus launched "Country 95" on the frequency last Friday (August 9), and the format is running jockless for the moment, with a full launch scheduled for next Monday (August 19). Energy's airstaff was largely shown the door, though we hear morning jock "Big D" is headed to sister station Y108.
Elsewhere in Southern Ontario, Kerry Gray has departed the PD post at CHTZ (97.7 St. Catherines), en route to a new gig in Colorado. Brian Dafoe has returned to CJEZ (EZ Rock 97.3) in Toronto as PD.
And we're sorry to report the passing of Sandy Hoyt, whose on-air stint at CHFI (98.1 Toronto) lasted from 1977 until 1999. Hoyt, who also broadcast the Hamilton Red Wings games for CHCH-TV in the sixties and did work for Global TV, died Monday (Aug. 5) in Picton.
Heading east, Camp IAWAH in Westport, Ontario has been granted a licence for a whopping 0.23 watts on 106.3. The camp station will operate during July and August only, with about five hours of music and 15 minutes of religion each day.
Montreal's Sheldon Harvey reports that CJWI (1610 Montreal) is now being heard with regular Haitian programming, still identifying itself most of the time as "CPAM Radio Union.com," which is sure to cause some continuing confusion in the DX community.
Out in the Maritimes, Jack McGaw Consulting has been granted two new travelers-information stations. One, on 97.9 with 10 watts, will serve Halifax; the other, with 37 watts on 93.9, will transmit from atop the Confederation Bridge in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
"Alice" was replaced by a day of non-stop "Here Comes the Sun" last Friday, followed by the relaunch of the old soft AC format and "Sunny" nickname, followed a few days later by the WSNI calls.
Sunny challenges market-leader WBEB (101.1 Philadelphia), one of the last individually-owned major market FM stations in the country; it promises to be a good fight.
The NERW-mobile passed through the Scranton area on our way to and from New York City this past week, and we know we'll always find something different there each time we turn on the dial. This trip was no exception: on Monday (Aug. 5), Citadel flipped WCWI (94.3 Carbondale) from a simulcast of CHR WBHT (97.1 Mountain Top) to country as "Cat Country 94."
If that sounds familiar, it certainly should; under the calls WCTP, 94.3 did country as "Cat Country" from 1998 until 2000, when it became WBHD and began simulcasting WBHT. At the time, "Cat" was simulcast on WCTD (93.7 Dallas), which later became active rock WBSX. When the WBSX calls and format moved to the former WAOZ (97.9 Hazleton) in April and 93.7 changed calls to WCWQ, there was speculation that "Cat" would reappear there as well; for now, though, 93.7 is still simulcasting 97.9.
And what of the third Citadel call change this past spring, in which WEMR-FM (107.7 Tunkhannock) became WCWY? That frequency is still simulcasting soft AC WMGS (92.9 Scranton), leaving NERW to wonder what the long-term plans - if any - might be for this cluster (and to note that the Scranton-market stations that don't flip calls and format annually, like country behemoth "Froggy" WGGY 101.3, do much better in the market than their oft-flipping competitors...)
And there's more: the "Word FM" contemporary Christian network headquartered at WBYO (88.9 Sellersburg) has signed on its entry into the Scranton dial. WBYH (89.1 Hawley) debuted last week, serving an area east of Scranton and reaching into the city as well with its 200 watts.
Family Life Ministries is ready to enter the market as well; the upstate New York-based religious broadcaster modified its application for 90.9 Carbondale to take it out of a mutually-exclusive pool and speed it towards approval; the 300-watt signal will emanate from a spot about halfway between Carbondale and the New York state line if it's approved.
Over in Pittsburgh, WEAE (1250) has a new program director; the ESPN Radio station has hired John Lund from KFXX (910 Vancouver WA) in the Portland, Oregon market to run the show.
Down near the Maryland line, WIHR (94.3 Greencastle) dropped its country format and "I-94" moniker to take on a simulcast of rocker WQCM (96.7 Halfway MD); the WQCM calls and format will apparently make 94.3 their new home in the Hagerstown-Chambersburg market, with a new format arriving soon on 96.7.
And an old Philadelphia callsign has resurfaced just across the state line in DELAWARE: WKEN (1600 Dover) has changed calls to WIBF, the old multi-ethnic callsign that was on 103.9 Jenkintown and, for a time, on TV channel 29 before the days of WTAF/WTXF. (That, in turn, means the new religious station on 88.7 in Port Republic NJ will be WIBF-FM, instead of just WIBF, when it signs on...)
Some more details on the sale of WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton) to Press: while the price still hasn't been announced, we hear that Press will flip the station to a simulcast of modern AC WHTG-FM (106.3 Eatontown) once the purchase from Richard Lee Harvey closes.
The station relaunched as "94.7 Hits FM," with Rick Dees in the morning and a CHR format targeting the Montreal market to the north (complete with a new request line of 1-866-NIX-THE-MIX, a dig at Montreal competitor CJFM "Mix 96.")
Can the cross-border signal make an impact in the market, and will the lack of a Canadian content requirement make it more competitive? Stay tuned...
There will be two new signals in the region soon, as well: Mars Hill (the religious broadcasters who run WMHR Syracuse, WMHI Cape Vincent and WMHN Webster) has been granted a new station at 90.1 in Malone, while "American Educational Broadcasting" gets 89.7 in Dannemora, from which they're likely to target Montreal with religion.
Radio People on the Move: K.J. "Still Not Norm" Bryant is sleeping a little later in Binghamton these days; the WWYL (104.1 Chenango Bridge) PD has handed off his morning shift on "Wild 104" to Jerry Kidd, who'd been doing nights. K.J. takes afternoons, displacing Christine Fox to middays there. And over in Utica, "Hopalong" (aka John Raspante) is leaving WFRG (104.3) after nine years behind the mic at the "Froggy" country station.
On the translator front, Syracuse Community Radio files to transfer W201CD (88.1 Lansing) to Ithaca Community Radio; the translator is relaying WEOS from Geneva for now. Down in Elmira, we heard the new W205BR (88.9) relaying WPCS from Pensacola, too; it just won a license to cover.
Rochester's WBBF (950) continues its "Swifty 950" stunt as we go to press Sunday night; meanwhile, we're noticing that the "Best of the 80s and More" liners on sister WBZA (98.9 Rochester) are giving way to "Best of the 70s and 80s," so list this one as "classic hits" these days...
No surprise here, but WNSA (107.7 Wethersfield) is now under "debtor in possession" status, the result of the collapse of parent Adelphia. The fate of the Buffalo sports station is probably linked, at this point, to that of Empire Sports Network and the rest of the Adelphia cable operation.
And returning to the New York City market for a minute, we're kind of sorry to report the imminent cancellation of the Sunday night "Doo-Wop Shop" on WCBS-FM (101.1); it will have its last run August 25 as the station continues its move towards more contemporary (read 70s and 80s) oldies.
LATE UPDATE: It's a good thing we airchecked the regional Mexican format on "La X 1380" in New York last week, because we caught a collector's item - the station changed calls from WNNY to WLXE today!
A few new LPFMs that were granted by the FCC last week include one in the Nutmeg State: 100.1 in Ledyard, to the Ledyard Christian Fellowship.
And we note that Francis Battaglia's North American Broadcasting, which is selling WALE (990 Greenville), has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We'll (reluctantly) hold our tongues on this one...
(Two minor corrections from last week: Vox's Jeff Shapiro is the group's managing partner - and WKBE in Warrensburg NY was transferred from Tele-Media to Pamal as part of last year's T-M spinoffs.)
WGAM (1520 Greenfield) changes calls to WIZZ, and presumably we'll find out why by month's end, when we'll be within listening range of the quirky daytimer.
Up in the Merrimack Valley, Costa-Eagle is getting ready for some big changes at its cluster in the Lawrence area, aimed largely at putting Spanish programming on its Lawrence-licensed 800 signal. Come September 8, that signal will take the WNNW calls and tropical programming now being heard on 1110 in nearby Salem, N.H. The English-language news, talk and sports now on 800 will move, along with the WCCM calls, to 1490 in Haverhill (now WHAV). And WHAV's Spanish talk programming will move to 1110 Salem under the calls WCEC. What becomes of the Lowell Spinners' baseball now heard on WCCM? More on that next week, we hope...
It's hard to believe, but it's been a decade since Bob Bittner returned the WJIB calls to Boston on his AM 740 in Cambridge.
Bob marked the anniversary last week by taking listener calls, and he tells NERW he put 110 callers on WJIB's airwaves between noon and 6 PM.
We didn't get a chance to call, but we're happy to wish many more successful years to one of the nation's most unusual standalone broadcasters - and we look forward to wishing Bob a happy anniversary in person next month when we join him on "Let's Talk About Radio" again.
On the TV side, Viacom balanced the books at WSBK (Channel 38) in Boston by wiping out all daytime programming at the UPN affiliate for the last few days of July and replacing it with infomercials. The station says it's a one-time thing, and we certainly hope they mean it. Meanwhile, Nielsen's attempt to launch its "people-meter" TV ratings system in Boston has been met with cold shoulders from most of the local stations - except public broadcaster WGBH, which says it'll buy the data from the test.
And a very happy anniversary to our friends at Vermont Public Radio; they signed on WVPR (89.5 Windsor) 25 years ago Tuesday (August 13), and have been growing ever since. VPR marks the anniversary day with a special call-in show and some neat historic features at the www.vpr.org Web site, as well. Congratulations!
And with that, we're back on schedule. Stay tuned for a new Tower Site of the Week on Wednesday, as we visit the highest spot in Vermont -- and we'll be back here with more NERW news next Monday. Stay tuned!