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September 2001

[important]To read in chronological order, start at the bottom and work your way up.[/important]

re: the Steel City rumor…It turns out that there will be only 1 alternative newspaper in Pittsburgh. Steel City Media has acquired the assets of In Pittsburgh Newsweekly from Review Publishing. Steel City will very likely close the paper up. They have apparently closed InPgh’s South Side offices and sacked the staff. i used to be the media stringer for In Pittsburgh in the early 90s and I guess the closing was inevitable because PCP was able to appeal more to Pittsburghers than In Pittsburgh. Dennard Summers (September 30, 2001)

Someone asked me about the staff of WRRK/WLTJ getting the axe today. You hear anything? (September 28, 2001)

Eric’s Response: Lots of rumors have been floating about the Steel City Media stations. Nothing verified. Sometime last winter, I had a few hints that the stations were being sold, but that never happened. Again, that was ALL RUMOR material. What DID happen was that the weekend staff was let go for voice tracking.

In Steubenville the signal is drownded out by WBZ and the Canadian station on 1010, however when I lived in Southern Illinois in the late’80s KDKA flew into the corn belt like a local at night. (WCIL-Am was a daytimer in Carbondale Illinois at 1020, I lived about a mile from the stick and normally about 1/2 hour before sunset I could hear KD chirping in the backround!)One other thing to keep in mind. I have been told that the Caribean religious station that was on 1020 that came screaming up this way at night went dark a few years back! Best Regards, Trefdawg (September 28, 2001)

Don’t get me started on LPFM! LPFM wouldn’t be needed if the FCC had not dropped the ownership limits and, more importantly, failed to enforce established rules on local programming, community standards and public service. Dave is correct — There are no vacant areas in Allegheny County where an LPFM has a clear 4th-adjacent channel. At Lightning Community Broadcasting, we determined that one could be dropped into Export, and possibly another in Armstrong or Indiana County. (Don’t ask me what channels, because I don’t remember.) We’re hoping the FCC will grant our application for “WMCK” 89.9 — even though it short-spaces 89.3 and 90.5 — because there are no 3rd-adjacent channel protections for non-commercial FM stations. (Look at 88.1 Murrysville and 88.3 Pittsburgh, for example.) Experiments around McKeesport, White Oak, North Huntingdon, West Mifflin and Elizabeth Twp. indicate there are no stations easily be received on 89.9 without a high-gain, directional antenna. Dave is also correct about the hypocrisy of the NAB (National Association of Bellyachers) position on interference. How come neither NAB nor NPR complained when 100-W and 250-W translators began popping up all over the band, most far, far away from the stations whose signal they are supposedly “boosting”? (Look at American Family Association’s translators for Tupelo, Miss., located all over Pennsylvania!) As for KDKA’s signal, I think Western Pennsylvania’s poor ground conductivity has a lot to do with the station’s lousy sky wave at night. I would have to check the charts for the other stations, but I suspect they are in better areas. There’s not much KDKA can do about it, unless they want to flood Allison Park with saltwater … hmmm …. Jason Togyer, part-time PBRTV columnist, Pitt writer, WRCT DJ, noted slacker —- P.S.: I have received a listenable signal on KDKA as far away as Evansville, Ind., and Cincinnatti, Ohio, yet I had trouble picking them up two weeks ago in Somerset County. CFRB 1010 in Toronto and KYW 1060 Philadelphia came in loud and clear (good, because I like both stations at night)! (September 27, 2001)

Eric, Wow, I overlooked the implications of the 99.9 LPFM app. Don’t worry, the FCC will not approve anything that does not meet co-channel, 1st-adjacent, 2nd-adjacent, or 3rd adjacent separation requirements. That this particular app was filed means the FCC’s web-based procedure for filing LPFM applications was not fully in place when the filing window for Penna. stations was open. For the remaining filing windows, apps must be filed electronically, and one of the first steps is a search for open frequencies based on the rules. If there are none, you cannot continue. The argument between the FCC and the NAB eventually focussed on 3rd-adjacent requirements. At first, the FCC had NO 3rd-adjacent protection requirements for LPFMs, but the NAB got Congress to fix that. That alone snuffed out any hope of 100-watt LPFMs near metro areas. I note the hypocracy of the NAB’s position. There are several severely short-spaced stations around the DC and Baltimore metro areas. BTW, the rule for 3rd adjacency is the new app’s interference contour (signal level met or exceded 10 percent of the time) must protect the protected service contour (signal level met or exceded 50 percent of the time) by 40dB. There is no “four channels away” rule that I know of. Regards, Dave Loudin (September 26, 2001)

It must be said, KDKA does not have a signal that is consistant with a 50kW blow torch clear channel unlimited station. In Pittsburgh at night you can receive WLW, WWL, WLS, WABC, WCBS, WBZ, WJR.etc.. But when you are in any of these places you can’t get KDKA. Further, WBZ beats the hell out of KDKA when you are in Morgantown, WVA. Further, in Moon Township (AM no man’s land) KDKA already has fade spots when driving around. At night the signal phases in and out. I don’t know if the ground wave is beating with a sky wave or what but most of this started with the new tower. I’m proud of Pittsburgh and KDKA is a real asset to this town. But the big K is not getting out. Any comments. Jeff Busard, N3EVN (September 26, 2001)

Eric’s Response: My thought is that it probably is NOT the tower as much as it is atmospheric. There is no telling what’s happening when we aren’t “there.” DCRTV’s Dave Hughes notes that KDKA makes the DC area most nights. Also, if you are listening to Bob Logue’s show, you will hear callers more from Western New York State and west of PA.

I can’t believe that someone is actually applying for an LPFM station on 99.9 — WSHH’s next adjacent channel! I’m wondering, why don’t these organizations do research or, better yet, consult an engineer before wasting their money and time on such an application? I would think that a good, future broadcaster would understand that two local FM stations must be spaced AT LEAST FOUR CHANNELS APART, even LPFMs. Am I correct? Regards, Steve (September 26, 2001)

Eric’s Response: As I understand it, this is the reason why there was such a fuss between the FCC and the NAB. Can you imagine a 300 watt station in a certain area interfering with a 14,500 watt station that blankets the area around there? Noting the map, the 99.9 application is in the Bloomfield area. WSHH’s signal is just across the river on top of Channel 11. Seems to me that it would provide an awful lot of bleed-through at 99.9…as well as 99.5.

A few comments on the latest version of the maps… There are some “NEW-Lapp” FMs scattered about – these are LPFM applications. I know that LPFM apps submitted in DC, Maryland, and Virginia do not necessarily meet all spacing criteria (especially 3rd adjacent requirements), but I am not sure about Penna. applications. From inspection, most look like they could pass (except where several apps seek the same frequency.) Also, the proposed site for WOGI’s “Duquesne” transmitter location is shown (co-sited with WDSY, WZPT, and, eventually, WJJJ.) At this time, WOGH is still licensed as a Stuebenville station, and no application was on file to move the TL as of last Thursday. Moving an allocation or creating an allocation for an FM station is a separate action from filing an application to construct a station to fill that allocation. This two-step process proved to be a sticking point when AM station operators sought to create FM allocations to, in essence, move to. After doing the heavy lifting to create a new allocation, the AM operator often had to compete with other applications for construction permits to whom he often lost, as the FCC was seeking to broaden the number of station owners (imagine that!) Regards, Dave Loudin (September 24, 2001)

Hi, Just found your website. This is Lynn Hinds and I thought I’d amend your listing of me. First, although I worked for KQV and WTAE radio, I never ever worked for WDVE, as you have it. Second, I left West Virgina in 1996 and have been Chair of the Department of Communication at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri since that date. Third, I am aging gracefully, although reluctantly. Best wishes, Lynn Hinds (September 24, 2001)

Eric, it was announced today that KDKA/AAA will be using PennDot’s facilities for their traffic reports. I’d like to know the financial arrangements for this. It seems to me that there are hundreds of employees of other stations in the area that are paying (through fuel taxes and license fees) for these PennDot traffic facilities. I would think that if traffic conditions are monitored from a government facility, then the information they produce should be available TO ALL radio and TV stations, not just one. Take care, Tom Kanhofer (September 20, 2001)

Hi, Eric …as you might guess from my email address, I have quit the Tribune-Review and taken a job as a writer for the University of Pittsburgh. Pretty interesting considering that I’m an alumnus of Pitt’s rivals across Panther Hollow. Anyway, I wanted to let you know that WRCT-FM is holding a free outdoor concert to celebrate the release of their first-ever full length compilation album. I believe one of the newspapers is doing a story and I didn’t want PBRTV scooped! Here’s the news item:

“Carnegie Mellon University’s radio station, WRCT-FM (88.3), will host a free outdoor concert this weekend to celebrate the release of its first-ever full-length compilation album.

“The concert is 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday in front of CMU’s College of Fine Arts, located on Frew Street next to Schenley Park.

“Tentatively scheduled to appear are The Dirty Faces, Lonely Planet Boy, Kitty Pryde, The Mofones, The Hi-Frequencies, and Z.O.W.I.E. All are Pittsburgh-area bands who have tracks on the new CD.

“The CD is called “WRCT: A Compilation” and includes 18 songs for $7. (Not a bad deal.) More details are on the station’s web site at http://www.wrct.org. Parking is available along Frew and Tech streets and in the CMU parking garage on Forbes Avenue.

“WRCT is a non-commercial radio station with an ERP of 1.75Kw, directional toward the south, north and west.” (September 20, 2001)

Just one addition to the Clark Race theme song question — the artist is also listed as “The Trumpeteers” and “Billy Mure and The Trumpeteers” on some pressings. The record was on the Splash label (No. 800) and lasted nine weeks on the Billboard chart in the spring of 1959, peaking at No. 64. The record first appeared on the April 27, 1959 chart. The oldies shops around town with deep inventories should have it. One other trivia note about Clark: his famous daily signoff was “It’s so nice to know so many nice people.” (September 19, 2001)

Eric’s Response: He must have stolen that sign-off from DC’s Eddie Gallaher – “the dean of Washington radio.”

From time to time people catch sight of me and ask what I’ve been doing since leaving WTAE-AM in 1998. Well, here’s the update. I’ve just finished a 2-year run as co-host/executive producer of “Internet Insider”, the national radio show. Right now I’m looking into new radio–and music/entertainment–positions, both here and outside the state. Anyone wishing to contact me can email me at lpgainesjr@yahoo.com . L.G. (September 18, 2001)

Eric’s Response: L. P. Gaines, Jr. was Doug Hoerth’s producer at WTAE-AM.

In response to Clarke Ingram’s question, Clark Race used “String of Trumpets” by Billy Muir. Clark began using it sometime in the late ’50s, shortly after the record had completed a minor successful run on the charts. “Hi!” (fast slapback echo), “Hello Clark Race, Hello” (sung), “And welcome to the show” (Clark’s voice again), String of Trumpets. (September 18, 2001)

Eric, I noticed the other day that WZUM is using Clark Race’s old theme music for its top-of-the-hour ID’s. Does anyone know the title and artist of this recording and where a copy might be obtained? Regards, Clarke Ingram (September 17, 2001)

All i have to say is this. To those people who feel the news coverage was too long, considering the “whereabouts” of the incidents. I must ask, where do they live? Obviously not in this area or they would realize that the plane that crashed in Somerset County practically covered most of Pennsylvania, including flying right over where i live in NW PA before being diverted. New York itself is only about an hour, hour and a half by jet, 5.5 by car, and lets not even get into the guy they’ve been searching for from New Castle, PA. These “whereabouts” seem to be pretty much in my backyard, as well as anyone in Western PA. Eric, these kind of people just make me shake my head. (September 15, 2001)

Eric’s Response: I think the news coverage, while repetative, is quite good. Information is important. However it’s still nice to have a few channels of mindless stuff to keep one’s mind occupied!

Channel 53’s old tower has vanished from their Ivory Avenue site sometime in the last few weeks. The new and old towers have coexisted about 100 feet apart for at least three years. The two tall towers standing so close together provided a vaguely disturbing sight to North Hills commuters. Does anyone know why the old tower was finally taken down, and why it was allowed to stand for so long after the new one was built? Was it disassembled and moved to another site? Paul (September 11, 2001)

Eric, the PAB member directory lists the phone number for WKHB 620 Irwin (and WKTW 1530 Jeannette) as 724-853-7000, and the FCC database still shows them at the old WHJB studios at 245 Brown Street, Greensburg PA 15601. Hope this helps. Regards, Clarke Ingram (September 11, 2001)

I have been searching everywhere for information on local radio stations, and have luckily found your site. I need contact information for all of the radio stations in, and around Greensburg, Pennsylvania. I was especially interested in WHJB AM, who seems to have changed call letters to WKHB, and moved to Irwin. I would prefer the mailing address of the stations because I have been unable thus far to reach them by telephone. Thank you for your help. Heather (September 10, 2001)

Eric’s Response: Can anyone help Heather?

Dear Eric, I just moved to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago into a house with several other guys. A couple of the guys in my house are native to Pittsburgh. Over the last few years, they have gone from ghosty images on the tv to some type of cable to the gaudy (in my opinion) digital cable wonder. They joke from time to time about all the channels that are blocked out due to their lack of desire to pay mucho dinero every month just to say they “have it all.” I’ve suggested DirecTV and DishNetwork to them and it seems to make them laugh harder. I was intrigued by you website which I snagged by looking for {fcc-catv-pittsburgh} on Yahoo. I’m almost ready to go back to the simple antenna on top of the house to get the locals and save lots of cash every month. Do you have any suggestions for me? cabled digitally, Tim (September 10, 2001)

Eric’s Response: I’m a digital cable subscriber myself. Does anyone have any advice?!

FYI. Tom Lyons is still retired, but is now living in Grove City, PA. (September 8, 2001)

Since today (9/6) is the fifth anniversary of the final day of independant broadcast for the station, I updated and am updating my tribute site, http://z107.dementia.org If you could share this, I’d appreciate it. Thanks -Derrick Brashear (September 5, 2001)

Eric’s Response: Does anyone remember back five years to the great “signal swap?” What Derrick is referring to is WSSZ in its last incarnation as a radio station unto itself. Back in 1996, Secret Communications (owners of WDVE) decided to buy a little alternative station in Beaver Falls on 106.7 FM. That station was just beginning to be known as “The X @ 106.7.” Secret then made a $14 Million deal with Sheridan Broadcasting to take over the signal on 105.9 and leave Sheridan fit with $14 Million and a signal that reached Youngstown better than Pittsburgh. Therefore Sheridan decided that maybe they needed to cover the eastern suburbs. So they latched onto 107.1 FM and have had a “dualcast” ever since.

Eric, in regard to the history of 1360am (in its various incarnations), in your response to Jason Togyer’s post,I am afraid you may have gotten a few facts mixed up. You see, Tony Renda bought WIXZ off of its former owners in the late seventies, then bought WSHH sometime later. It was sometime in the 80’s when WJAS became available, but because of the ownership rules back then, he turned around and “sold” WIXZ to Alan Serena (this was what could have been classified as an LMA). When the Duopoly rules were relaxed in the mid nineties, the station reverted to Renda, and the rest is history. By the way, does anybody remember that WIXZ actually went “Beautiful Music” for a few months in 1973 or so after dropping the Top 40 format then switching over to country. – Greg (September 5, 2001)

Eric’s Response: Hmmm…either I read bad info or received a few lies! However, I do know that Mr. Renda has owned the stations (WSHH/WJAS) for close to twenty years.

I’m from New Jersey and a loyal listerner to O&A on WNEW in New York and go to school in Pittsburgh so I was excited to find out they would be syndicated in the 27 top markets in the U.S. and thought Pittsburgh would definatly be one of the top 27………basically what I’m saying is where the hell are they??? (September 5, 2001)

Eric’s Response: We are number 22. There is talk that Opie and Anthony could be coming to town, but I’m not sure when that’s going to be or where. Predictors say it’s WZPT, but I’m not sure.

Eric: In response to the email query about WMCK … here is more than the letter writer ever wanted to know! WMCK was founded by a group of McKeesport businessmen, led by Robert M. Cox, owner of Cox’s Department Stores. They formed Mon-Yough Broadcasting Co. in 1945, as the wartime ban on new radio licenses was lifted. Their license for 1360 kc was granted a short time later, but like most new AM licensees, the FCC made WMCK take an FM license for 104.9 mc, in an effort to encourage use of the FM band. (“MCK,” of course, is short for McKeesport.) 1360 is a regional channel, authorized for 5KW daytime, 1KW directional at night. In the 1950s, like most AM/FM combos, WMCK simulcast its AM signal over the FM frequency before returning the FM license as “unprofitable.” The station was then located in the Elks Temple, Market Street, McKeesport, and the transmitter was at the present WPTT nighttime site in Lincoln Borough, across the river from Clairton. In approximately 1963, Mr. Cox changed the call letters to WPQR (the call letters stand for “Western Pennsylvania’s Quality Radio”) before the station reverted to WMCK. Legend has it that Mr. Cox offered to sell WMCK to his star deejay, Terry Lee, but Lee declined, because he was making more money running his nightclubs, including “TL’s Night Train” near Glassport. So instead, in 1969, Mr. Cox and his partners sold WMCK to the Westchester Corp. of Cleveland,which changed the call letters to WIXZ to match its other “wick-zee” stations, like WIXY. (Conveniently, all of the stations had frequencies ending in 60 kc.) At some point in the late 1960s, studios for WIXZ or WMCK moved to a one-story house on Long Run Road (Route 48) near the Olympia Shopping Center. Then, in an effort to get closer to Pittsburgh, WIXZ moved to Route 30 in East McKeesport. FCC rules at the time said that a station’s main studio and control point had to be located in the city of license…. but the FCC apparently didn’t realize “East McKeesport” was several miles away! I am told that Westchester sold WIXZ in the early 1970s to Tony Renda, who then sold it to McKeesporter Alan Serena, who later sold it back to Renda … at which time it became WPTT. The rest, of course, is history. (And of course, if Lightning Community Broadcasting Inc. is successful in getting a low-power FM license, we intend to restore the historic call-letters of WMCK to the Mon Valley …. but that’s a big “if”!) More news at the top on the hour on most of these same typing fingers. J. Togyer (September 5, 2001)

Eric’s Response: When Tony Renda sold WIXZ to Alan Serena, that was probably about 1979 and then bought WSHH from Nationwide. WKTQ was purchased by Benni Broadcasting and they turned it back into WJAS. Because they still shared the building, Renda then bought WJAS. Reverse the numbers 1979 to 1997 and that was the year that Mr. Serena and Mr. Renda agreed to combine and WIXZ became a part of Renda Broadcasting. Within a year WPTT was born.

Hi, Eric … something for the mailbag….Tuesday morning, Mike Pintek said he’s “the only one who’s not trying to get Cigna’s job” as host of the KDKA morning news. That seems to me pretty solid confirmation that Cigna is retiring (though readers of PBRTV knew it weeks ago). The only question remaining is, who will take the job? I guess smart money remains on Larry Richert or Fred Honsberger … they’re both nice guys who would do well in morning drive. Since they are nice guys, however, it seems a shame to make them wake up at 4 a.m. five days per week! Maybe Infinity will bring “Opie & Anthony” into Pittsburgh on KDKA! That oughta shake up the “Undercover Club”! I’m kidding! But what if ….? (Nah, Pittsburgh radio is bad enough without “O&A”‘s T&A.) Hang by yer thumbs, your slacker columnist (September 5, 2001)

Eric’s Response: From what I have heard, Cigna really isn’t retiring. He’s just sick and tired of getting up at 2 AM to go in and work. There is a promo on now that states that and the fact that he required his replacement to be a Harley rider. The other thing he mentions is that he is not leaving KDKA, he will be on at other times filling in, etc. He just won’t get up early in the morning anymore. Who could blame him?!

WSKE 1040 in Everett does have a country format. It simulcasts with WSKE-FM 104.3. I believe the owners were going to change the call letters and possibly the format a few months back, but for some reason decided not to. They are 10000 watts days, 4000 watts critical hours, daytime only. WCVI 1340 seems to be back on the air, but maybe with an abbreviated schedule(?). I recall hearing them last Sunday while in the area. Regards, Steve C (September 4, 2001)

Eric, the first set of call letters for 13-Q (after WJAS-AM/FM) was definitely WKPQ. Someone didn’t like those call letters and it became WKTQ shortly thereafter. I don’t know the reason why the switch was made. I’ve also heard the stories Vito related about Jack Bogut going to 13-Q (Heftel ended up hiring Sam Holman instead, who was himself pretty MOR) and also that 13-Q wanted a call sign that would co-opt the “KD” identity, but I hadn’t heard about the WKDQ calls. At this late date, there’s no easy way (except perhaps in the FCC public file room) to check if Heftel ever applied for WKDQ. If there’s an “old-timer” from 13-Q reading this board, I hope they’ll tell us “the rest of the story” on this one. On an unrelated note, WCVI 1340 Connellsville is back on the air today simulcasting the “Pickle” format. And could that “Harley rider” replacing John Cigna possibly be Jim Quinn? Regards, Clarke Ingram. (September 4, 2001)

I heard tday that Jack Wheeler had passed. Is this true? (September 4, 2001)

Eric’s Response: Oh, I don’t think so. Wheeler was at WQED-TV a few weeks ago for a pledge drive. Unless he had some serious health conditon or accident, Wheeler is still enjoying retirement with his wife Cindy and sailing his boat in the Chesapeke Bay.

Cigna said this morning his replacement is a Harley rider…sounds more like Jon Burnett. (September 4, 2001)

Eric’s Response: Seems to me he was talking out of line…or maybe talking to please the listeners. The formal announcement is 8 AM Thursday.

For those of you who might be interested, WASP 1130 in Brownsville PA has been stunting for the past several days, running ABC/SMN’s Pure Gold oldies format and calling itself “FM 99, The Pickle”. Tonight, WPKL 99.3 Uniontown (formerly WPQR) has signed on with the same format. The top-of-hour ID also includes WCVI 1340 in Connellsville, although there is still no evidence that they have returned to the air. Jim Harrington, formerly of KDKA, WTAE, and WHBC in Canton, is the PD/morning man, and he starts today (Tuesday 9/4). Thought you might want to check out this new addition to the Pittsburgh airwaves. Regards, Clarke (September 4, 2001)

Here’s a little help for WSKE 1040 on the Johnstown/Altonna page. It has been a country station for easily a year now. Before that it had been a news/talk station. I don’t know why the change, maybe something with ratings. The station has a great signal since I can hear it here in central Maryland. Hope this helps you somewhat, I just saw a blank on the page. -Travers(SPRTV editor) (September 3, 2001)

I thought the first call sign for WKTQ was WKDQ. They were going to be KD and go after KDKA, I was told that is why Bogut went up to 200,000 a year because he stayed with KDKA and did not go to work for Heftel. KDKA put a stop to the calls WKDQ. that is how I remember 1973 what does Clarke remember. By the way, I hope that his mom is feeling better now. Vito (September 3, 2001)

Eric’s Response: It was WKPQ. I remember this conversation coming up back when I was forming the Callsign Cavalcade. Clarke, your help please!

Who owned WMCK originally 1360 McKeesport? Who was Weiss from WIXZ, Norm Wain was originally from pgh. Don’t forget WKPQ was the first call sign for 13Q before WKTQ. arnold zlotnik (September 2, 2001)

Eric’s Response: I don’t know, not sure and who is Norm Wain? WKPQ was first that’s true, but it was a very short-lived callsign…maybe a month or two.