Here's what it creates in the Northeast: Hicks' Capstar group owns the old Knight Quality group (WGIR AM/FM Manchester NH; WHEB-FM, WXHT(FM), and WTMN in the Portsmouth NH market; WTAG-WSRS(FM) in Worcester MA; and WEZF(FM) in Burlington VT) and the old Commodore Media group (WINE, WSTC, WNLK, WPUT, and WFAS on the AM side and WRKI, WKHL, WEFX, WAXB, WZZN, and WFAS on the FM side in southwestern Connecticut and Westchester County NY). Hicks' Chancellor group has the big-market properties (WXKS AM-FM and WJMN in Boston, the amazing five FM combo in New York that now includes WAXQ, WHTZ, WKTU, WLTW, and WNSR (ex-WDBZ), and WALK AM-FM, WBAB-FM and WBLI on Long Island). And the SFX deal will bring into the fold still more properties in southern New England and vicinity. In Massachusetts, it's WHMP AM-FM and WPKX(FM) in and around Springfield. In Rhode Island, it's WHJJ, WHJY, and WSNE in the Providence market. In New York, it's WTRY AM-FM, WGNA AM-FM, and WPYX in Albany and WGBB(AM) and WHFM on Long Island. And in Connecticut, it's WHCN, WKSS, WMRQ, WWYZ, and WPLR on the FM side and WPOP(AM). Not to mention Hicks, Muse's acquisition of LIN Broadcasting's TV stations, which brings WTNH New Haven-Hartford and WIVB Buffalo into the fold.
NERW suspects Hicks, Muse may run into trouble keeping both WTNH and the enormous cluster of 8 FMs and 4 AMs in Connecticut, and even if that passes muster with the feds, there's still that persistent rumor that Hicks, Muse's next target is American Radio Systems -- which would bring three more Hartford FMs into the mix, while bolstering Hicks, Muse's presence in Boston and bringing it into the Rochester and Buffalo markets.
In any event, WNRB will have at least a bit of local sports. Boston University football will return to commercial radio this fall on WNRB, after several years on BU's noncomm WBUR-FM (90.9). Giant Sports is handling the business end of the deal.
The much-hyped format swap between Boston's 96.9 and Lowell's 99.5 happened right on schedule last Friday at noon, with the new "Country 99.5" making its debut with "Gone Country," while "Smooth Jazz 96.9" used "Smooth Operator" to mark its start. The legal calls remain WKLB-FM on 96.9 (they hide it in plain view by saying "If you're looking for WKLB-FM Boston, tune to 99.5") and WOAZ on 99.5 (where it's being buried very quietly while the WKLB-FM calls get transferred). And the WOAZ website at www.woaz.com still bears a big "Oasis 99.5" logo. What will the new 96.9 call be? NERW's been hearing it will be WSJZ, but M Street is reporting this week that 96.9 has requested WOAZ -- even though the "Oasis" identity has dried up and blown away.
Another format change is reportedly on the way as well, down the AM dial at 1260. WPZE, the newest property of Hibernia Broadcasting, will reportedly take on Disney/ABC's "Radio Disney" kids format. Disney's been pushing the format hard around the country -- it just debuted on 50kW KTZN (710) Los Angeles and there are rumors it might even show up on WABC itself.
Beverly's little WNSH (1570) is being sold by FSAM Corp. to Willow Farm Inc. NERW wonders why Hicks, Muse didn't grab this one too while they were at it...
And out in Western Massachusetts, the 97.1 Amherst translator for WPVQ (93.9 Turners Falls) has applied to move to Mount Lincoln, the site of WFCR (88.5) and WAMH (89.3). Meantime, it's so long to the local newsroom at WHYN (560) in Springfield; Friday will be the last day the station originates its own news. News director Denise Vozella and reporter Bill Erickson will join Metro Networks in Hartford, which will begin providing news to WHYN next month.
WNHI (93.3 Belmont) and WRCI (107.7 Hillsborough) in the Concord-Manchester market are looking for a co-host during "Imus in the Morning;" contact PD Harry Kozlowski if you're interested.
And if you watch TV in and around Burlington, keep a close eye on channel 44. New Fox affiliate WFFF has until Sunday at noon to sign on, or it will reportedly lose the right to carry this season's NFL games to existing Fox secondary affiliate WCAX-TV (Channel 3).
Cross-border listeners in northern Vermont, northern New York, and the Buffalo area will be able to tune in next Tuesday morning as Howard Stern makes his international debut. In addition to Montreal's CHOM (97.7), Toronto's Q107 (CILQ 107.1) will also be carrying Howard's show starting Tuesday morning. We'll see how the CRTC likes Stern...probably about as well as their brethren on M Street, we suspect.
There could be a new Hudson Valley station on 98.9 soon -- but it's not clear who. There's a proposal on the FCC's table to move the 102.5 allottment in Rosendale (near New Paltz) to 98.9 (see Connecticut news below and you'll see why), but there's also a counterproposal to add 98.9 as a new class A channel in West Hurley NY. Up in Old Forge, there's a proposal to move the 99.7A allocation to Newport Village. The only community anywhere nearby that we could find called "Newport" is not far from the Utica market -- is this a move-in on the make?
New Haven's WNHC (1340) is headed to bankruptcy court under Chapter 11. WNHC lawyer Andrew DiPietro tells the New Haven Advocate that the urban-formatted station is just over $400,000 in debt, but he hopes to get it back in good financial shape within two months under bankruptcy protection. WNHC has been the target of ongoing protests after a dispute led to the departure of talk show host Michael Jefferson.
Just down the road in Hamden, Quinnipiac College's WQUN (1220) will hold an official launch ceremony on Tuesday, September 9. Charles Osgood of CBS will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony, which will be open to the public. WQUN is one of the few bright spots in the darkening skies of local radio; it's committed to local news coverage serving all the constituencies of the New Haven area. NERW wishes it all the best.
And in Hartford, WCCC AM-FM (1290/106.9) will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary on Saturday, September 6, with a party at Union Station in downtown Hartford. Guests will include Fred Norris of the Howard Stern show (WCCC was one of Stern's early employers), and all past and present employees of WCCC are being encouraged to attend.
That's it for this week; we're off to the National Radio Club convention in Delaware and we'll be back next Thursday.