In other MASSACHUSETTS news, the FCC paid a visit to Worcester State College on Monday to shut down "WSCW" (94.9), the campus station that moved from carrier current to unlicensed FM a few years back (and was leaving a dead carrier up all summer, to boot). An article in the campus newspaper says the station was assured by the local radio engineer who supervised the move to FM that it was completely legal, and that the FCC said it hadn't actually received any complaints. WSCW is now returning to carrier-current and cable audio, and considering Real Audio and an application for licensed FM in Worcester.
WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford)'s Ed McMahon will be off the air at Kiss 108 for the next few weeks, but it won't exactly be a vacation. He'll be part of the new airstaff introducing Chicago to "Jammin' Oldies" on the former WRCX (103.5), which ditches its active rock format this weekend to pick up the latest hot format, heavy on R&B oldies. McMahon will be back on the air in Boston when WRCX hires its permanent staff within a couple of weeks.
It's official: Mega Broadcasting, the buyer of WNFT (1150 Boston), is also picking up WBPS (890 Dedham) from John Douglas' Achievement Radio Holdings for $4 million. If NERW remembers correctly, there was already some cross-ownership there...and we wonder whether this sets the stage for a duplicate of Mega's Hartford situation, with one station (WLAT 1230 there, WBPS in Boston) doing Spanish, and the other (WNEZ 910 there, WNFT in Boston) doing R&B oldies.
Could former Boston mayor Ray Flynn have a future in radio? Rumors are flying that WRKO (680) is bringing Raybo on board for a Saturday morning slot, sending Andy Moes (not "Mose," as the big Boston broadsheet had it) to afternoons in Jerry Williams' old spot.
On the Web: WMJX (106.7) not only has new studios out on Morrissey Blvd. to move into, it's also got a new Web presence. Check it out at www.magic106.7.com if you're curious.
Love those inter-station squabbles: WFNX (101.7 Lynn) held a "hide the salami" contest, in which listeners had to follow on-air clues to find a salami with concert tickets and backstage passes attached. The clues in Friday's contest drew listeners towards Huntington Avenue in Boston, and up to the tenth floor and the WBMX (98.5) studios, where 'FNX's Julie Cramer was waiting with the salami up her sleeve. The folks from WFNX said the stunt was payback for Mix "stealing" the salami idea for a contest of its own...and they said if they could have found a way to hide the salami in Mix morning guy John Lander's car, they would have...
W29BA in Lawrence has applied (again) to extend its construction permit. If it ever gets built, we'll let you know...
Down on the Cape, WWKJ (101.1 Mashpee) is applying to move from its current site near the Falmouth Town Dump, where it's running 3700 watts, to a site on Industrial Drive, just off route 28 in Waquoit, where it would use a full 6 kilowatts.
And out in the western part of the state, WHYN-FM (93.1 Springfield), which just installed a new antenna on its Mt. Tom tower, will broadcast the 12th annual "Count" Chris Tracy Halloween show Saturday night. This year's will be on the Internet, at www.whyn.com, for the first time.
In Bridgeport, Paging Associates Inc. has received a license to cover for its low-power TV W28CA.
Down on Long Island, an Albany-area religious broadcaster wants to build a translator. WNGN (91.9 Argyle) has applied for an 88.1 in Woodsburgh, just a couple of miles east of Kennedy Airport. Further out on the Island, Islip's WLUX (540) is cutting back on local airstaff after the owner sold his shopper paper, which apparently produced most of the revenue to run the adult standards station. NERW hears morning guy Bruce Barlow and evening guy Jim Ferguson are both out, leaving PD Joe Roberts' afternoon shift as the only local break in Music of Your Life and syndicated talk shows. And WBAB (102.3 Babylon) has been granted a power boost from 3 to 6 kilowatts.
Moving back up into the Hudson Valley, a correction to an item we ran last week that provoked a whole bunch of mail: Former WSPK (104.7 Poughkeepsie) jock Mark Bolger is NOT, repeat NOT, working for WZMX (93.7) in Hartford. He's spent the last 14 months at WBWZ (93.3 New Paltz). Why the confusion? A NERW reader heard Bolger at 93.7 and mistook the WBWZ translator for the Hartford classic rocker. By the way, congressional candidate Bud Walker sold WBWZ and WRWD (107.3 Highland) back in 1995. NERW regrets the errors.
Up north, WPAC (92.7 Ogdensburg) morning guy and PD Tony DeFranco can add another title: college graduate. DeFranco recently received his BS in business management and economics from Empire State College; congratulations! Over by Lake Champlain, WMEX (102.5 Westport) has been granted a move from downtown to Ainger Hill, north of the village, and a boost in power to 650 watts from the present 250.
This NERW is coming out a few hours later than usual because the NERW-mobile spent Friday night on the road to Buffalo, enjoying the plethora of "War of the Worlds" remakes that filled the airwaves of the Queen City. WNUC (107.7 Wethersfield) kicked it off at 7 with Orson Welles' 1938 classic. Then at 8, WWKB (1520) pulled out the tapes of the WKBW 1968 version -- and, not to be outdone, WGRF (96.9) and WEDG (103.3) both launched into their own modern versions. It's a good thing we had plenty of tape decks on hand, because the WGRF and WEDG version didn't start off as a simulcast. Each station used its own format and jocks for the first hour, and then once Buffalo was under full Martian attack, the two joined for a simulcast that ended with Irv Weinstein (now a WKBW-TV anchor, but back in 1968 one of KB radio's top newsmen) as the last man alive in a Martian-ravaged downtown Buffalo. And when the simulcast split again, WGRF returned to its classic rock format with David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust," while WEDG went back to modern rock with the help of REM's "It's The End of The World As We Know It." All in all, a most enjoyable night of radio, and one more stations ought to emulate. (The WGRF/WEDG version came complete with a mock Web site, at www.mnnetwork.com, where jocks supposedly first got word of the explosions on Mars...)
Tuning around the dial, we found only one other station doing War of the Worlds on its 60th anniversary, somewhere on 570 kHz (not WSYR Syracuse, from the sound of it, either -- anyone know who was doing Martians on 570?). We hear WSNN (99.3) up in Potsdam was also rebroadcasting the Welles show.
And in the Big Apple, MSG has signed deals with WABC (770) for three more years of Yankees broadcasts, and with WFAN (660) for the Knicks and Rangers. WFAN boss Mel Karmazin is about to take sole control of CBS; CEO Michael Jordan announced this week that he's retiring and Karmazin will move up to chairman of the entire company (not that he wasn't running the whole show anyway...)
A few more gleanings from the Summer book: Country was king across upstate New York, with WGNA way up to stay in first place in ALBANY, followed by a flat WGY, a sagging WFLY, WQBK/WQBJ, WYJB, and WABY AM-FM. In SYRACUSE, WBBS was up again to stay in first. Nes-talk WSYR was up in second, followed by down books for rock WAQX and CHR WNTQ, a gain for CHR WWHT, oldies WSEN, and a big slide for AC WYYY. And in ROCHESTER, WBEE's country owned first place, followed by news-talk WHAM, a flat AC WRMM, and a huge gain for WDKX's urban and WBBF's oldies. Rocker WCMF was flat, and CHR WPXY, hot AC WVOR, modern rock WNVE, and modern AC WZNE all showed big declines.
And on 1190 kHz, the WOWO saga is over. The station is keeping it very quiet, but sources tell NERW that WOWO stopped operating with 50 kilowatts at night a few weeks ago, when the Indiana station began repairing its towers, and will never return to 50 kilowatt nighttime operation. Why all the silence? Seems WOWO management is convinced that most locals thought the station already powered down years ago, and won't notice a change if it's not publicized. Here at the Rochester listening post, careful tuning around the edges of WHAM (1180) finds WOWO's signal much diminished, and we suspect it's just a matter of months now before 1190 at night is filled with the sounds of WLIB in New York. Editorializing here: it's no great loss anymore. The WOWO we fought for back in 1994 (as the "WOWO Listeners' Guild") is long gone. Today's WOWO at night is nothing but satellite-fed talk, and we can hear Joey Reynolds just fine on WOR, thanks. As homogenized as late-night clear-channel AM has become, WLIB just may be a breath of fresh air. (And yes, we're suprised to have said that, too!)
With that, we'll go back to listening to WOWO's worthy successor for now in the late-night AM music realms, KCJJ (1630) in Iowa City, which ought to be a fun listen until, inevitably, the satellite takes over there as well (or until the X-band gets as cluttered and useless as the existing AM dial!)
See you next Friday...