North East RadioWatch: July 24, 1998

Williams, Walker Split at WBZ

by Scott Fybush

It's ratings time, with Spring books out for most of the markets in the region. We'll start down in New York City, where the top spot 12+ is shared for the first time by a Spanish-language station, WSKQ (97.9), which tied with perennially top-rated WLTW. The usual suspects fill out the top five: WQHT, WHTZ, and WCBS-FM. In the 'burbs, WSPK stayed on top in the Poughkeepsie book, followed by a climbing WRWD, WPDH, and WHUD. Across the river in Newburgh-Middletown, WSPK also dominated, followed by WHUD, WPDH/WPDA, and WCZX/WZAD. The Long Island market stayed status quo, with WALK-FM, WHTZ, WXRK, and WBLI all reprising the top four from Winter. Upstate, Ithaca's WYXL joins the 20+ share club, with more than twice as many listeners as second-place WQNY. Buffalo's WJYE surged from third to first place, followed by WYRK, WBEN, and WHTT-FM. Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany will all be out next week.

In CONNECTICUT, WEZN dropped slightly but ended up in first place in the Bridgeport book, followed by a sagging WICC and WEBE. WEBE gained in the Stamford-Norwalk book, though, rising from second to first place, followed by New York's WFAN, WHTZ, and WCBS. You'll have to go down to the bottom of the list to find the market's local stations, with WKHL the highest rated in ninth place. Waterbury's WWYZ stayed in first place, followed by WKSS and then an amazing performance from WWCO, which more than doubled its ratings from the last book. WWCO's simulcast partner, Hartford's WDRC, is credited with a sizable ratings gain as well, and we wonder how much of that is really WWCO listening as well. Danbury's WDAQ was down somewhat but still first, followed by WEZN, WRKI, and a dipping WLAD. In New Haven, WKCI, WPLR, and WYBC all gained to end in first, second, and third place respectively. WNHC's numbers were down -- but then Arbitron notes "station went dark before end of ratings period!" In Hartford, WRCH topped the market, followed by WTIC(AM), a rising WWYZ, WKSS, and WTIC-FM. And in New London, WCTY led the market, followed by a climbing WNLC and a dropping WQGN.

On we go to MASSACHUSETTS, where Boston looks the same as it did in the Winter book, with WBZ leading, followed by WJMN and WMJX (switching places 12+ from last time), WBCN, and WXKS-FM. In Worcester, WSRS was trailed by WAAF, WXLO, and WTAG. Springfield's WMAS-FM took the top spot, followed by last book's #1, WAQY-AM/FM, then WPKX, WHYN-FM, and WHYN(AM). WFHN stayed first in New Bedford, with WCTK making impressive gains for second place. On Cape Cod, WQRC remained in first place, followed by an improving WCIB, WOCN, WXTK, and in fifth, WFCC, perhaps the best 12+ performer of any classical station in America.

In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Manchester's WZID is the other new member of the 20+ club this time out, not to mention the only station in the market to make double-digits 12+. Trailing in WZID's dust were WGIR-FM, WOKQ, WFEA, WAAF, and WGIR(AM), which showed a big drop this time out. (NERW wonders if Capstar's cuts just might be to blame for that one.) On the Seacoast, the Portsmouth book found WERZ with a huge surge that landed it in first place, followed by WHEB, WOKQ, and a declining WTSN. Two of Capstar's stations failed to make any showing at all; WXHT and WTMN both registered no significant listenership.

We promised a few new Web sites last week, so here goes:

And we'll close this week's issue with a few observations from our road trip to Watertown, New York:

This is truly a two-owner market, with every significant signal in town controlled either by Forever Broadcasting or Clancy-Mance. Forever has the biggest stick in town, country WFGY (97.5), one of the few stations in America to pull a 30+ share in recent memory. "Froggy" and sister station WUZZ (1410) recently moved their studios from the WUZZ transmitter site on Route 12 southeast of town to the downtown building that also WTNY (790) and WCIZ (93.5). WUZZ is all-satellite, all the time, with ABC's oldies format. It has applied to move from its current two-tower array to WTNY's transmitter site alongside I-81 south of Watertown. We drove by the WTNY site and fell in love with the classic brick transmitter building, complete with metal railing along the roof that spells out "W-T-N-Y." Closer observation showed that the door is still marked with the original WWNY calls. The middle tower of the three-tower WTNY array still hasn't been replaced after last winter's ice storm. WTNY is a typical news-talker, while WCIZ is classic rock as "Z-93." Despite a CP to move to 93.3 from the WFGY site, WCIZ remains on 93.5 from its original tower north of Watertown off Route 12, and there's still no sign of the promised new tower next to WFGY's low stick on a high cliff east of the city.

As for Clancy-Mance, the Econolodge where we stayed backed up to their facility on Wealtha Avenue. The building once housed only WATN (1240), which is still there along with its single stick. Today, it's also home to WTOJ (103.1), WOTT (100.7), and WBDR (102.7)/WWLF (106.7). WTOJ is licensed to Carthage, but its 104.1 translator, W281AA, is mounted on the WATN stick and is strong in most parts of the city. We enjoyed hearing how much morning jock John Spezzano sounds like his brother Scott of Rochester's WPXY. WOTT is licensed to Henderson, about 10 miles south of Watertown, and runs oldies. And WBDR/WWLF are CHR "The Border," with Cape Vincent-licensed WBDR aimed at Kingston, Ontario and Copenhagen-licensed WWLF serving Watertown. Their bumper sticker shows "102.7" with a maple leaf and "106.7" with a star.

The only other stations in town (besides the public radio relays, which we'll get to in a moment) are religious WMHI (94.7 Cape Vincent, a relay of Syracuse's WMHR) and a 90.1 translator of WYFG in Gaffney, S.C. Several Kingston stations come in well, including country CFMK (96.3), AC CFLY (98.3), and oldies CFFX ("GTO 960"). A bit of more-careful tuning was needed to hear CHR CKLC (1380), community CFRC (101.9), and the CBC's CBCK (107.5; Radio One) and CBBK (92.9; Radio Two). The local cable system brings in CKWS-TV (Channel 11; CBC) and Ottawa's CJOH (Channel 13; CTV).

Our transmitter-site drive took us into the hills east and south of Watertown, starting with the WFRY and WSLJ (88.9) sticks along Route 126. WSLJ is part of the Canton-based WSLU public radio network, one of three public radio relays in town -- WRVJ (91.7) relays Oswego's WRVO from a state office building downtown, while WUNY (89.5) rebroadcasts Syracuse's "Classic FM" WCNY from the WNPE (Channel 16) public TV tower near Copenhagen. Also out in the hills were the WWNY-TV (Channel 7)/WTOJ tower on Route 126 (with a transmitter building clearly marked "WWNY-TV Transmitter," and offices attached that were apparently once the town court!) and the WWTI (Channel 50)/WWLF tower near Copenhagen. One more TV note: WWNY's set used to be at WBZ-TV -- remember the very blue set that was in use from 1993 until 1996?

From Copenhagen we stayed up in the hills as we listened to Lowville ("Low" rhymes with "cow") country station WLLG (99.3) and found its studios in a second-floor office on State Street. WLLG simulcasts with Boonville's WBRV (900/101.3) and had a very, er, interesting noon local newscast ("There was a car accident in Boonville last night, but we haven't been able to get a hold of Boonville police, so we don't know what happened") and remotes from the county fair.

Returning to the vicinity of I-81, we stopped in Sandy Creek to see the transmitter of WSCP (1070), which wasn't on the air. The bumper stickers we picked up at the WSCP studios in Pulaski still showed "1070" along with "101.7," which was on the air, although we didn't go up to that transmitter.

Our last stops of the trip were in Syracuse, where we had a very nice visit with new PD J.J. Rice at WWHT (107.9) and an enjoyable tour of the facility that's now home to Hot 107.9 and the four other Cox stations, WSYR, WHEN, WYYY, and WBBS. The final stop was near the I-690/Thruway interchange, where the tower of Phoenix-licensed WRDS (102.1) sits on a hill above the studios, which were empty - no big surprise considering that the station has been on satellite every time we've heard it. We pulled out the TV here as well, and in addition to the locals, we saw Rochester's 8 and 13, Utica's 20 (with a killer signal), 33, and PBS translator on 59, and Watertown's 16 and 50.

That's it for this week; we'll be back with much more next Thursday.

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