North East RadioWatch: July 25, 1999

NERW On The Road: Flint to Rochester

by Scott Fybush

Sorry for the delay in chronicling the last few days of the Great NERW Trip of '99 -- but here's what we saw and heard over the weekend:

We left you in Flint, Michigan, as the thunder and lightning crashed around us in a storm that was apparently just shy of a tornado. We still had a chance to check out the local radio scene, though, and this is what we were able to hear:, of course, the full Detroit FM dial as well.

Saturday morning gave us a chance to see a few more of these for ourselves, beginning with WDZZ's antenna atop Genesee Towers in downtown Flint, also the studio location. A few blocks to the east, the WFBE tower sits behind a municipal building where the studios were once located as well.

Most of Flint's AMs are located southeast of downtown, and we started with the two-tower array of WFLT on Averill Ave., followed by the WWCK AM-FM site on Lapeer Road, which can be seen from I-69 as it passes through town. Down the road, the WJRT-TV studios are being expanded and renovated.

We drove a bit east to see WCRZ's FM tower, then west again on Bristol Road, where the intrepid tower hunter finds in quick succession the three towers of WFDF, the three of WFNT (with the studios of that station, WWBN, and WWCK), and the two of WTRX. A turn to the south on Center Road brought us to the final stop, the four towers and studio of WSNL.

From there, it was a two-hour drive south on I-75 through Detroit to Monroe, where we saw the four towers of WLLZ (560), now part of the WMUZ religious combo that also incudes WEXL 1340 and WMUZ-FM itself on 103.5. WLLZ is "The Word Station of WMUZ," while WEXL does gospel and WMUZ does Christian contemporary music.

Down the road just a bit was the tower of quirky local CHR WTWR (98.3), "Tower 98."

Heading north again brought us to a new site, the six towers of WWJ (950)'s recently-built array near the river. From this site, WWJ pumps 50 kilowatts north into Detroit and east into Canada, while putting effectively no signal south into Monroe and Toledo. It also, as we'll see, clears the way for a new tower at the old WWJ site in Oak Park...

We passed two sites we'd seen before, WJR and WDFN, and came to two new ones (for us) south of the city. The six towers of WNZK transmit by day on 690 kHz, switching to 680 kHz at night to protect, well, what used to be CBF, anyway. To the north, we found the ten-tower site recently built by WCHB (1200), along with a note on the padlocked fence indicating it didn't meet electrical code standards (!)

Our final tower stop was at the old WCHB studios on Henry Ruff Road in Inkster, where a dozen towers sit out back, some the old WCHB array and some belonging to WMKM (1440), which was itself the original WCHB years ago. WMKM, while licensed to Inkster, IDs as "WMKM Detroit" -- shame, shame!

Then it was off to a different bit of history, as we watched the Boston Red Sox handily defeat the Tigers (after a lengthy rain delay) at the last game we're likely to see in Tiger Stadium.

Sunday morning found us checking out several of the Southfield towers, starting with the 93.1/105.1/105.9 site and the adjacent 95.5 tower on Greenfield at 10 Mile, moving north to the channel 4 stick, then south again to the WJBK tower on 9 Mile and the old WWJ site on 8 Mile. The latter is still occupied by WWJ -- but now it's the TV 62 that CBS bought in 1995, high atop a new tower built where one of the old square-faced 950 towers used to sit. The other AM tower and the picturesque Art Deco transmitter building are still there, but NERW wonders for how much longer.

After a quick stop to see WDIV's studio downtown and a long delay in the Windsor Tunnel, we enjoyed brunch with Windsor radio veterans Warren Cosford, Wayne Stafford, and Mark Elliot, followed by a most enjoyable tour from Mark of the CKLW/CKWW/89X/River studios on Ouellette Avenue. Even if the "Big 8" is long gone, there's still some great radio being turned out in that historic facility.

Then it was off to see the rest of Windsor: the "New WI" studios in a storefront just across the river from downtown Detroit, the CBC (and old CKLW) studios a bit to the west, the CBE 1550 transmitter east of town on Highway 3 (with big call letters right on the building!), the CKWW sticks south of the city, the CBEF 540 towers southwest of those, the tall towers of CIMX (89X) and CIDR (the River) and of the CBC's CBE-FM and CBEFT, and finally the mighty CKLW itself. That site is almost as far south as you can get in Canada, with a 2-story transmitter building that, we're told, is a treasure trove of history, and five towers out back, four in a square and a fifth in the middle.

Leaving Windsor behind, we began heading east towards home, stopping in Leamington to see CHYR (96.7), whose antenna sits on one tower of the old 710/730 split-frequency array. Two hours later, we again hopped off the 401 to see Tillsonburg, beginning with the CITY-TV transmitter on channel 31 near Woodstock and the tall tower nearby of CKOT-FM (101.3). A fifteen-minute drive south brought us into town, where we saw the CKOT studios on a prime street corner, and another fifteen minutes of driving took us to CKOT(AM)'s three towers on 1510, the last remaining Canadian daytimer. CKOT-FM is one of the last real beautiful music stations out there, while the AM is country. Nearby in Simcoe, the AM 1600 we saw and heard last time is long gone, replaced by modern AC on CHCD (106.7).

In the remaining daylight, we drove the back roads to the Six Nations reserve at Ohsweken, where CKRZ (100.3) was doing Bingo Night, calling the numbers in both English and the native tongue. We found the antenna atop the Ohsweken water tower, and the studios in a nearby shopping center on Chiefswood Road.

And from there, it was just driving, into Hamilton then east on the QEW, over the bridge, and home through Buffalo.

Previous issues of North East RadioWatch

The Boston Radio Archives
The Upstate New York Radio Archives