From Mayville (NY) to Madawaska (ME), here's the miscellany that's filled the NERW mailbox this week...
NERW Vermont correspondent Doug Bassett also sends along word of a death last weekend:
Longtime Vermont radio and television broadcaster Jack Barry died Sunday at the age of 70.
He made his radio debut at WDEV in Waterbury at the age of 4, reading a poem. "This is little Jackie Barry coming through the air," he announced.
In 1948 he went to The Burlington Free Press' WJOY, where he helped air the station's 11PM newscast live from the paper's newsroom.
In 1954 he and Vin D'Acuti established WDOT, providing competition for WJOY. They did it all themselves, working 18 hour days.
He also did work at stations out of the area, including KIOA Des Moines, Ia., WTTM Trenton, N.J., and others.
He began his television career at WVNY-TV with a program that aired from 10 to 11 AM, between his 6 to 9 AM and noon to 2 PM programs on WVMT in Colchester. He spent evenings doing play-by-play sports broadcasts.
In 1970 he started volunteering at Vermont ETV (Vermont's PBS outlet), and in 1973 went on the payroll there. He took a couple of years off to serve as press secretary ffor U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
In 1976, he returned to broadcasting, doing his morning radio programs and evening television appearances until his retirement from ETV in 1991. He continued his radio shows for a while until his desire to be in politics got in the way. Three years ago he was elected state senator, passionately pleading agaist cuts in ETV's funding from the state. (Last year, the state senate considered cutting funding from $762,500 to just $1).
His daugter, Bridget Barry Caswell, is following her father's footsteps, becoming a television reporter herself.
Are WNNW (1110 Salem NH) and WHAV (1490 Haverhill) now simulcasting? M Street says they're both running the Spanish contemporary format from Hispanic Satellite Network, the new venture from the stations' owner, Methuen-based Costa Communications.
Back in 1983, Shurberg Broadcasting filed a competing application against WHCT's renewal, and rather than face a competitive hearing, WHCT's then-owner, Dr. Gene Scott's Faith Center, took advantage of the FCC's distress-sale minority-preference policy and sold WHCT to Astroline Broadcasting for $5 million.
So far so good...except that Shurberg alleged that Astroline was not in fact minority-controlled. The dispute percolated its way upward through the court systems, and in the meantime Astroline went bankrupt and WHCT went off the air.
Last year, Two if by Sea Broadcasting took control of WHCT from the bankruptcy trustee, and this past February WHCT returned to the air running programming from Lowell Paxson. Meanwhile, Shurberg filed a petition to deny WHCT's license renewal, and Astroline then filed a petition to deny against Shurberg's Channel 18 application.
Now, the FCC has denied Astroline's petition to deny against Shurberg, and it will soon hold a hearing to determine the extent of minority control at Astroline. If the FCC finds that Astroline misrepresented the facts, we could see yet another change of control at poor old Channel 18...stay tuned.
Also up in the mountains, Lyon Mountain outside Plattsburgh could be getting another occupant. St. Lawrence University has applied for 89.7 with 190 watts from up there. SLU owns public radio WSLU (89.5) Canton and a host of relays in the North Country, including WXLU (88.3 Peru) and WSLL (90.5 Saranac Lake), which already serve much of the same area the Lyon Mountain station would cover. The 89.7 frequency in the Plattsburgh area was to have been home to WCFE-FM, moving from 91.9, but that CP was never built and WCFE-FM became WCEL, the northernmost link in Albany's WAMC Northeast Public Radio chain.
Editorializing here: If the FCC continues to allow what amounts to nationwide networks of low-power radio under the guise of religion, while refusing to consider licensing LOCAL low-power radio, the case being made by the "unlicensed broadcasters" begins to sound better and better. Once more with feeling: It is ridiculous to say I can run a 1-watt radio station if it's relaying religious programming from out of state -- but not if it's broadcasting locally-generated programming. It is time to rethink the way the translator rules are written, before a handful of stations (you know who I mean, WPCS and KAWZ and KEAR and WAFR and WJSO) completely overrun the airwaves. I'll step off my soapbox now...
Speaking of religious translators, W213AM, the 90.5 Newburgh NY relayer of Family Stations' WFRE (91.7 Kingston), has applied to move to 90.3 and change power.
The NorthEast Radio Watch column itself is published every Thursday. It's written by Scott Fybush, with contributions from correspondents across the seven-state region (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY) it covers. NERW publishes news, rumor, and opinion about radio, television, and related media in the Northeast. The opinions expressed in NERW are solely those of Scott Fybush or credited contributors.
NERW is available in several forms: on the Web at the Boston Radio Archives, which is also where you'll find archives; by mailing list (see below); and on the AIRWAVES Radio Journal (rec.radio.broadcasting on Usenet).
There are two mailing lists where NERW is made available. The NERW-only mailing list is called firstname.lastname@example.org; send a message containing only the single word "subscribe" to email@example.com to subscribe. (You will receive a confirmation message which you must send back in order for your subscription to be processed.) You're also invited to participate in the boston-radio-interest mailing list, which covers any and all topics related to radio in the Boston area. NERW is also posted to that list. The subscription address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Boston Radio Archives Web site mentioned above is where to find all sorts of current and historical information about radio and television in New England. It will soon be joined by a companion New York Radio Archives site covering upstate New York; stay tuned for the announcement of that URL.
"Let's Talk About Radio" is a weekly radio program about radio and communications. Many of the Boston Radio Archives editors and NERW contributors are also regular participants in "LTAR." It can be heard Sunday at noon on WJIB (740 Cambridge-Boston) and WNEB (1230 Worcester), Sunday at 12:07 pm on WJTO (730 Bath ME), and Saturday at 9:30 am on WKBR (1250 Manchester NH).
"Spectrum" is another weekly radio program about all forms of electronic communications. NERW editor Scott Fybush anchors a weekly radio-news segment at the start of each show. Also featured are regular segments on the Internet and satellite communications, as well as call-in segments. "Spectrum" is heard on Saturday nights at 10PM on WWCR (5070 kHz shortwave), as well as on the GE satellite (103 degrees west), transponder 6, 5.8 wideband audio, and several local stations in New Jersey and Virginia. See their Web page for more information.
And with that, we'll close out this week's NERW. See you next Thursday!