The massive ice storm across Northern New York, Northen New England, and Canada continues to be our top story at week's end; we'll begin with an update of storm-related broadcast news across the region:
A few stations back on the air since Monday's NERW EXTRA: Bath's WJTO (730) came back to life Monday morning, after being silenced by first a power failure and then a dead generator. WJTO is using only 400 watts for now, with station manager Tory Gates providing extra local newscasts and storm information. WLAM-FM (106.7 North Windham) is back on, but WLAM (870 Gorham) remains silent. In Sanford, WCDQ (92.1) has rigged a temporary antenna on the lower two-thirds of its (formerly) 240 foot tower, getting it back on the air with about 80 watts. 'CDQ's Russ Dumont tells NERW a new antenna is on the way, which will get Mount Rialto Radio up to about 500-750 watts until the tower can be replaced.
Portland's four commercial broadcasters joined forces for a simulcast telethon that raised more than $300,000 for storm relief. The telethon was broadcast from the studios of WGME (Channel 13) and was also seen on WCSH (Channel 6), WMTW (Channel 8), and WPXT (Channel 51). WGME has been working with WGAN (560) to simulcast morning news programming, to reach the many Mainers who still have no power for their TVs. Knowing that some of them are listening to channel 6's 87.75 MHz audio frequency on battery-powered radios, WCSH has been making sure to read closure information out loud in addition to putting it on screen.
WMPG (90.9 Gorham) and WMME (92.3 Augusta) are also back on the air. WMPG was granted a construction permit this week for its new Portland translator, W281AC (104.1), but we suspect it will take a few months for construction to get underway. Heard with only a dead carrier: WMSJ (89.3 Freeport) and WYFP (91.9 Harpswell).
We've finally heard from a NERW reader in Bangor; apparently the most damage up there was to WBFB (104.7 Belfast), whose tower on Mount Waldo collapsed. "The Bear" is back on from a backup site belonging to WKSQ (94.5 Ellsworth). WEZQ (92.9) remains silent after losing part of its tower. WKSQ has been on the air with public service broadcasts of storm information in place of its usual hot AC format. On the TV side, WLBZ (Channel 2) ran its own telethon the same night as the Portland simulcast.
And way down East in Dennysville, WHRR (102.9) is off the air for now -- but not because of the storm. The soon-to-be-sold station has reportedly been testing on and off with simulcasts of WBPW (96.9 Presque Isle), but is now silent awaiting sale.
Many thanks to Greg Schatzmann of CJLX (92.3) Belleville for updating us on the storm in his region. CKWS (Channel 11) and CFMK (96.3) in Kingston are back on the air at very low power after the collapse of their 840 foot tower last week. The 35 year old tower had as much as 5 inches of radial ice on some parts of it. Pictures are now available on line at John McKay's tower page. CKWS is using about 2kw visual and CFMK is using 3kw from a temporary tower. Also off air for much of the storm and back at low power is CFLY (98.3), whose tower in Harrowsmith, Ontario shed a chunk of ice that went right through the roof of the transmitter building and destroyed the transmitter. CFFX (960) was without power and off the air all weekend, as was CFRC (101.9), leaving CKLC (1380) as Kingston's lone news source during the storm -- and we're told they rose to the occasion, dumping their CHR format for storm news and information.
Up in Peterborough, the studios of CHEX (Channel 12), CKWF (101.5), and CKRU (980) had to be evacuated for several hours on Tuesday after the 700' CHEX/CKWF tower began to sway dangerously from heavy ice. Workers had been on the tower trying to replace CKWF's feedline, which was soaked with water New Year's Day, leaving "the Wolf" with just 25 watts of power from a temporary transmitter.
On with the rest of the week's news...such as it is:
WBMX (98.5) has changed general managers. Jennifer McCann retains the GM title at sister station WEGQ (93.7 Lawrence), but she's replaced at Mix by Mark Hannon, former head of sales and marketing for both ARS (to be CBS) stations.
WCRB (102.5 Waltham) is getting ready to launch a 24-hour classical music satellite service. "Hit Classical Radio" will be operated in conjunction with John Garabedian's Superadio satellite network, with WCRB announcers Laura Carlo, Ray Brown, Mark Calder, and Dave MacNeill hosting. NERW suspects they'll target many of the same stations that carried the now-defunct SW Classic FM satellite format.
WBMT lives! The station's manager wrote to one NERW listener to report that the high school station in Boxford ran into some problems with its old transmitter, but has raised the money to buy a new one -- and should keep right on going on 88.3 as soon as it arrives.
Good news this week, as well, for WJLT (1060 Natick), which has been granted a construction permit for 40 kilowatts daytime from the Unisys site in Sudbury. WKOX has been hit with a petition for reconsideration for one of its two 50kw CPs, this one the daytime-only facility at WNTN (1550)'s Newton site.
On the TV front, congratulations to two of Boston's 10 o'clock news anchors. WLVI (Channel 56)'s Karen Marinella is a mom again...she gave birth to Liam Joseph, son number three, on Friday morning. WFXT (Channel 25) weekend anchor Karen Adams is off to the Sunshine State, to become lead anchor at new ABC affiliate WJXX (Channel 25) Orange Park-Jacksonville/WBSG (Channel 21) Brunswick GA/Jacksonville.
And it's a good week for the crew at CBS O&O WBZ-TV (Channel 4), which will once again become the home of the Patriots. WBZ was the longtime home station of the Pats for its many years as an NBC affiliate. CBS's huge deal to regain NFL rights means the Pats will be back on 'BZ next fall...which should provide a boost to Channel 4's sagging ratings.
Translator news: The FCC has deleted the license for W265AX (100.9) Binghamton, which relayed country station WCDW (100.5) Conklin. We'd heard this translator -- and WCDW needed it to get into many areas of Binghamton that were shadowed from its main transmitter in the hills east of town. Syracuse Community Radio is trying again to get a translator within shouting distance of the Salt City; its latest application is for 89.5 in Marcellus, relaying its as-yet unbuilt primary on 88.7 Truxton. Expect protests from second-adjacents WJPZ (89.1) and WRVO (89.9 Oswego), not to mention a lot of co-channel interference from WUNY (89.5) Utica, which has a city-grade signal over much of the Syracuse area.
LPTV news: There will be yet another new addition to the Rochester LPTV dial, as the WSKG Public Telecommunications Council gets permission to move its W55AC Cohocton-Avoca some 65 miles north to Penfield, where it will become W67DQ, pumping out 26.8 kilowatts of visual ERP from the Baker Hill (WVOR/WBER/WZXV) site in Victor. This is one of many former WSKG translators getting new lives as commercial LPTVs, often far from their small-town Southern Tier origins.