Fresh from a morning of doing live shots in the snow ("It's still snowing out here...drive carefully!"), we turn our attention to the radio dial and find there's not much going on out there. Here's what passes for this week's highlights:
A few new pirates on the air in the Hub: We're hearing reports of foreign-language stations on 102.1 and 102.9...more details to come.
The FCC has approved another ill-conceived translator in Central New York. Syracuse Community Radio now holds a CP for W210BJ (89.9) in Truxton, just south of the Onondaga-Cortland county line, to go with its existing CP for W210BH on the same channel in Fenner, Madison County. Why "ill-conceived"? For starters, each translator will sit on the same tower where SCR already holds a full-power station license or CP. In Fenner, that's WXXE (90.5), which signed on last month. In Truxton it's WXXC (88.7), which has yet to take to the air. And more to the point, 89.9 is already an occupied frequency in Central New York, home to full-power public radio WRVO Oswego. The 89.9 translator apps are reportedly SCR's way of expressing a grudge against WRVO for filing against several of its applications. If the 89.9 translators are ever built, it's listeners who will be the losers. Then again, WXXE could soon have even more problems reaching Syracuse listeners; the Syracuse papers reported this week that WRVO is finally getting ready to put WRVD (90.3 Syracuse) on the air sometime this year from a transmitter atop the SUNY Health Sciences Center.
Syracuse University sports fans may have to twirl the dial to find Orange sports next season. SU has decided to end a broadcast relationship with WSYR (570) that dates back to the days when WSYR shared the channel with SU's own WSYU. Starting next season, SU sports rights will be held by Missouri-based Learfield Communications, which operates many statewide sports and news networks in the Midwest. WSYR officials tell the Syracuse Post-Standard that they declined Learfield's offer to pick up SU games, because Learfield insisted on keeping all ad revenue and total control over the choice of broadcasters. Instead, Orange sports will reportedly land on WAQX (95.7 Manlius) next year). They'll continue to be heard on SU's WAER (88.3), which does its own non-commercial broadcasts with SU students producing.
Over in Buffalo, Sinclair has scrapped plans to build a new facility for its radio and TV stations on the waterfront. Instead, the stations will begin moving into existing downtown office space this summer. First to go is likely to be WBEN (930)/WMJQ (102.5), whose lease in the WIVB-TV (Channel 4) building on Elmwood Avenue expires in July, ending 50 years of occupancy in the facility designed to hold WBEN AM-FM-TV. Later on, WGR (550), WWWS (1400), WWKB (1520), and WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls) will move down from their current Delaware Avenue digs. WUTV (Channel 29) may stay put at the Grand Island transmitter site for a while; the Buffalo News says plans to move the Fox station into vacant space at public broadcaster WNED's palace of a studio at Horizons Plaza have been scrapped because WNED felt having a commercial broadcaster in the facility would be "inappropriate." NERW's gotta wonder here...why, then, IS it appropriate for WNED to sell one of its two TV facilities (WNEQ Channel 23) to a commercial operator? Just curious...
One more Buffalo note: the "Antenna Only" footnote that accompanies listings for WNYO (Channel 49) in Canadian papers may finally be coming off. Cable companies in southern Ontario have asked the CRTC for permission to add the WB affiliate to their lineups. Most of the systems already get WB programs from Chicago's WGN and Los Angeles' KTLA, anyway.
Just outside the region: Keep a close ear on 1680 kHz over the next few months. WTTM (1680 Princeton NJ) has already been heard testing at least once with a dead carrier, and All Access reports it will sign on for real in the spring with an all-sports format. Dave McKay, PD of sister station WPST (97.5 Princeton), will handle PD duties for this one as well. WTTM is the X-band counterpart of WHWH (1350 Princeton), which will apparently keep its current programming. And the WTTM calls are heritage ones in the Trenton market, having spent years on Trenton's AM 920 before it became WCHR this time last year. In the meantime, we'll keep enjoying the hip-hop from WJNZ (1680 Ada MI), one of the VERY few X-band stations doing anything but satellite programming on the upper reaches of the dial.
Next week, we'll have numbers from Cape Cod, Manchester, New Haven, New London, Springfield, and Buffalo...stay tuned!