Media Directory Media News Media Reviews
FCC expected to renew license for Niagara County Islamic outlet. Operating from a little-known area on the northern border of the Town of Lewiston, Radio Station WTOR, 770 kHz, is expected to have its Daytime (only) AM broadcast license renewed. The station is owned by a Detroit, Michigan area man who allows a group in Toronto, Ontario to use it to air ethnic and foreign-language programming for a Toronto audience. The station has no known studio in Niagara County and its towers and transmitter site is concealed by heavy vegetation, more than a mile into the woods off Landon Road on the north side of the Town of Lewiston. An address on Center Street in Lewiston fronts as a local address. No identification at the site indicates what it is or who the owner is. The station, deep in the woods, appears to be actually located in the Town of Porter. Few people in Niagara County can understand what is transmitted over the air from here. A neighbor on Landon Road said he never sees the owners. The FCC is also expected to approve an application for the station to increase its transmitter power from its present 9,480 watts to about 13,000 watts---almost all of that power beamed north-northwest toward Toronto. In Toronto, public information indicates the station targets Serbian, Pakistan, and primarily Urdu/Islam demographics. (6/2/06)
Buffalo News to ratchet up competition with Alabama-based papers. The leading Buffalo daily begins Monday, May 1st a new, improved Niagara County edition that will be available on the street pre-dawn and also by home delivery before 6AM. The News is offering a two-week free trial subscription. The move appears to be Big Trouble for the chain of once-local newspapers an Alabama company operates in Niagara County including the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, Tonawanda News, and Niagara Gazette. The Lockport part of the Greater Niagara Newspaper Group (printed and composed in North Tonawanda, managed from Niagara Falls, and controlled from Alabama) has a news cut-off of around Midnight but is not delivered to homes until well into the next day. The US&J, depends largely on children to sell and deliver the paper. The Niagara Edition of the Buffalo News is expected to have greatly increased Lockport local news coverage from a recently expanded Niagara news bureau. (4/28/06)
Heritage features Lockport.
Published quarterly out of Cheektowaga, the local magazine of yesterdays includes two articles on Lockport in its Spring 2006 issue. One is a pictorial essay centered on the canal and the other is short piece on the city's first brick house, the 183-year old William Bond House at 143 Ontario Street.
The slick Heritage sells for a rather stiff $7 per copy at local newsstands. That amount, from our slowly dwindling Home Page bank account (funded by your donations), was used to obtain a copy for review. Our photographer used it for reading material during a Spring lunch in West Avenue park, across from the Niagara County Court House (pictured). He was attracted to the front cover with a reproduction of the historic etching we have at the head of the stairs in the Lockport Home Page offices.
Lots of high-class advertising along with about a half dozen feature articles (usually with excellent photos) fills 72 pages. Those who like local history will enjoy this magazine but review at the public library might be prudent for those on limited income (or worried about their job at Delphi and/or their Harrison pension). (4/17/06)
State Police raid WJJL. The Buffalo News is reporting that State Police raided the West Seneca studios of Radio Station WJJL and seized computer files containing child pornography. Another seizure was made, the newspaper reports, at the home of the station's long-time morning disc jockey. WJJL (AM 1440) is licensed to Niagara Falls (where its transmitter remains) but moved to West Seneca several years ago. A station spokesperson expressed "shock" at the seizure and claimed the radio station owners had no knowledge of the kitty porn on computers at the studios and business office location. (3/24/06)
Southern publisher pulls plug on another Greater Niagara Newspaper. Alabama-based Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. has ordered Current, a regional entertainment-intensive free weekly closed down. The freebie had been operated by the Alabama's local publishing front, Greater Niagara Newspapers. One media report claimed the publication had lost nearly a million dollars in its six months of publication. GNN print weekly, Amherst Record was also ordered shut. Operations continue at newspapers with mastheads for Lockport (Lockport Union-Sun & Journal), Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, and Medina. All papers are printed in North Tonawanda, with editorial and business control split between locations in North Tonawanda and Niagara Falls. Lockport activities are fronted at a rented East Avenue address.(3/18/06)
Danny's Done; Stephanie's Back: KB Radio Changes Format
Entron, a national multiple station owner which controls the major radio outlets in the Buffalo market, took ruthless action Monday, 2/6, dismissing local radio legend, Danny Neaverth as its morning DJ along with a multitude of other staff. The 50,000 watt Buffalo Blowtorch switched Monday to a Left-leaning talk format. The move eliminates the area's top oldies-personality station. Among those who appear on the "new" WWKB at 1520kHz on the AM dail is Lockport's own Stephanie Miller (pictured), now a nationally known comic and liberal talk show hostess. Her "Stephanie Miller Show" comes to Buffalo via satelllite. She is the daughter of the late Congressman William Miller, who ran for Vice-President of the USA on the GOP ticket with Barry Goldwater back in the 1960's. Brought up in Lockport, she got her first major radio job at WLVL as morning show host. She has a long resume of accomplishments in comedy, show business, and major radio markets. The "new" WWKB (which now calls itself "Buffalo's Left Channel") joins WHLD with broadcasting left-wing programming in the Buffalo market. (2/7/06)
WECK goes "Country," WHLD goes "Left." Long-time good music station WECK has given up on the older adult audience that enjoyed the Frank Sinatra generation of music. The 1230 kHz AM station has switched to packaged country music format leaving Buffalo without a "good music/music of your life" station for the first time in memory. Just up the dial at 1270 kHz, WHLD has announced it will switch to a Liberal/Left-Wing political commentary format the week of 2/13. The 5,000-watt daytime station with a transmitter on Grand Island runs only peanut power at night. It will affiliate with national left-leaning program suppliers, "Air America" and "Pacifica Radio." A new ownership calling itself "Niagara Independent Media" will operate the station with the assistance of a national radio chain operation. WHLD has been known for decades as the spot on the AM dial that mixed paid programming, ethnic, and religious formats. (2/3/06)
Female anchor's suit against Channel 2 dismissed. Carol Kaplan'S attorney says they will appeal the US Federal Court decision this week that dismisses her claim of discrimination against the operators of WGRZ-TV Channel 2 in Buffalo. Kaplan had lost her job as a primary TV anchor in 2002 and stayed on at the station as a reporter before being dismissed in April 2004. Sources say the primary reason for the station's action was low ratings, low listener preference rankings, tardy for work, and even driving without a license. (11/1/05).
On Friday, October 30, 1998, Radio Station WLVL celebrated its 50th year of operation. Back in 1948 the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal built WUSJ and both media were fully locally owned by the Corson family. Today things are quite a bit different. The radio station is independent of the newspaper and, has gone through a call letter change to WLVL. Although not locally owned, WLVL does have an owner who lives nearby in Buffalo.
Today's operation at 1340 on the AM dial can't match the commitment the Corson family put into local radio. But then, few radio stations today show that kind of local programming and news reporting that made the "local radio station" such a strong factor in community life during the 40's and 50's. Today, much on WLVL is nationally produced talk/sports programming that is rebroadcast locally after being received via satellite. Some music, mostly from the 40's through the 80's, could be described as "the standards," "the evergreens," and and the music of the past three generations. You won't find any hard rock or new age music here.
The few remaining local features on the station appear in the weekday mornings. The morning talk show now at 11 A.M. has declined in popularity since longtime Lockportian J. R. Reid moved to Florida. It is now hosted by a former US&J reporter who tries hard but simply lacks the local background, experience, and current events knowledge to do much more than one usually finds in small radio markets. The program is hard to listen to for an extended period, let alone as a daily diet.
The station's morning drive show is a good one with local Lockportian Paul Oates as host. Some neat humor, local history and chatter, and lots of news and weather. No significant music is aired. The station's limited news department produces most of its on-air effort at this time. Newschief, John Raymond, (a/k/a John Long) has a good deal of out-of-town radio experience but one man can only do so much. The ABC network provides good national news coverage. Oates still on at 9:15AM for probably the station's most popular feature under the banner of Tradio---it's a telephone call-in sell and swap show. After the Noon News, the station pretty much goes to satellite music programming until the next morning.
The sad trend of over-commercialization in national radio plays out quite prominently in Lockport. Listeners are even subjected to nationally and locally produced, program-length commercials. There is an especially offensive example which often airs for laxatives (under various monikers) during the lunch hour. On Saturday morning a very commercially successful radio auction airs from 6 A.M. till Noon. Of all aspects of WLVL's operation, the commercial sales operation seems most successful.
Weekend programming is a hodgepodge of network sports, paid religious programs, and forgettable material, usually aired because one interest or another has compensated the station to put it on. WLVL still airs high school sports certain evenings and weekends, highly successful commercially, but of course, the limited audience such events would normally have are usually at the game. Nice weekend exceptions are the music segments hosted (when syndicated, taped, or commercial programming is unavailable) by "Mike Melody" a/k/a Jeff Lasky. Lasky is extremely knowledgeable on the subject of popular music and his show is the best of its type in Western New York.
The air product on WLVL is average for a community the size of Lockport. The station is prospering commercially since it has no radio competition in all of Niagara County. Ratings are low, however, with listeners going to Buffalo-based radio for a better quality of national and local talk or music programming.
The WLVL website is at: www.wlvl.com
The Lockport Union-Sun & Journal is without doubt the major media influence in the town and city of Lockport. That influence (and circulation) drops sharply outside the town and city but historically over the years, regardless of product quality, the local paper has enjoyed a solid subscriber base.
Lockport's daily newspaper has undergone extensive changes in the past years. Most of the change has come about since the newspaper began receiving direction from the publisher of the Niagara Gazette. This in turn was a result of the Gazette being purchased by the same southern group Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., (CNHI) that already owned the Lockport and Medina papers. CNHI is headquartered in Alabama and is reported to be substantially controlled by money from the Alabama Employees Pension Funds. At least one new holding group was formed, Greater Niagara Newspapers, which is now the operating umbrella for the Lockport, Niagara Falls, Medina and Tonawanda newspapers and various penny-savers. After an initial period of positive changes by then-publisher Mark Francis, the ownership ordered steps to further deep-mine money and profits from the Lockport area and caused numerous changes that have frequently hurt the Lockport newspaper product.
Among the efforts to boost profits was the sale of the newspaper's long-time showcase headquarters in Lockport at Transit and Summit Streets. Printing of the paper was moved to North Tonawanda and major management of the paper was shifted to Niagara Falls where the current publisher and editor maintain their offices. Much of the business operations of the paper was transferred to Niagara Falls. Day-to-day newspaper makeup is still effected in Lockport and news is gathered and edited here from rented space on East Avenue. Probably as an attempt to blunt criticism of the move out of Lockport, the name of the paper has had "Lockport" reinserted into it: It's now the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal and is being self-identified mostly as just the Lockport Journal. Longtime Lockportians still call it The Union-Sun. Another cost-saving move was to actually cut the physical dimensions of the paper the publication is printed on. Less paper means less editorial content needed to fill it and lower newsprint costs. But there was no cut in ad rates for the slightly smaller size ads. The spin the newspaper put on this move was interesting: It was called an "improvement."
The quality of picture reproduction in the Lockport paper has been mostly a positive change over the past seven years. Without replacing the old presses, Francis' team was able to dramatically improve the quality of the final product. Quality seems to have been slipping somewhat since Francis' departure (another suspected cost-savings move). The quality of photographs in the newspaper now varies greatly. When top local photographer Dennis Stierer's work is used "something" seems to happen so that the resulting product appearing in the newspaper looks very good. Other photos may not be as good as Stierer's to begin with, but nothing the newspaper production hoops add seem to do anything to make them better. Not infrequently, some of the final photo product in the paper, even that generated by the paper's own multi-tasking professionally challenged (and underpaid) staff, looks like it needs much more photo editing.
Greater Niagara Newspapers started a Lockport edition of what had been the Sunday Niagara Gazette. Now called Lockport Sunday, it technically puts the Lockport paper into seven-day-a-week publication (except Christmas). The daily newsstand price remains at 50-cents; the Sunday edition costs $1.25. The Sunday edition is not a good product. The news is old because of a very early deadline and the paper is mostly filled with advertising and syndicated editorial content. Readers in Lockport get the impression that Lockport Sunday is really a couple sheets of outside wrapping of the Niagara Gazette Sunday edition (Niagara Sunday) changed to inject Lockport content. Moreover, even the quality of the Gazette slips significantly on Sundays (but the price goes up).
In the past few years since the southern bosses decided to move paper operations out of Lockport there has been notable personnel turnover. The local managing editor and city editor have been replaced several times. Some good veteran local talent such as John D'Onofrio (Sports Editor) and Anne Calos (promoted to City Editor) have been retained. But the staff is mostly new hires from out-of-town, very weak in their knowledge of Lockport and Niagara County. It shows. At one point the newspaper management was so lacking in local knowledge they started a "local advisory board" to help them with bits of essential Lockport background. Lockport employment by the newspaper has been drastically cut and the paper now shares the editorial production of reporters from out-of-Lockport publications in the Greater Niagara group. That move does have some advantages to Lockport readers. We now have limited access to select pieces from some of the better writers and reporters in the Greater Niagara stable. In addition to previously mentioned D'Onofrio and Calos, they include Don Glynn, Rick Pfeiffer, William Wolcott, Patrick Bradley, and Joelle Shrestha. The newspaper's employment in Lockport is just a shadow of what it used to be with the exception of advertising salespeople.
In an example of the prostitution the news effort has been subjected to, the gathering and writing of obituaries was turned over to the advertising department. In 2001 the paper began charging advertising rates to report deaths of all but the most notable of Lockport residents on its editorial pages. Obituaries, not infrequently now, are often glowing tributes copied word-for-word as submitted by the deceased's family or funeral director complete with mushy terms of endearment and exaggerated lifetime career resumes. The more the family is willing to pay, the more the obituary can drone on. This is in addition to the traditional paid "death notices." How low...can they go?
Previously the Lockport paper had been frequently criticized for carrying on the poorly camouflaged petty and personal vendettas and promotions of a couple of local editors. This changed for the better over the past years with de-localization of the newspaper. However, in 2001 the newspaper went through renewed cost-cutting and a couple more editors were history. The most recent result has been another slow decline in the publication's quality, news coverage, and local awareness. It seems most editorials are now written out of Lockport.
More stories resembling inflated fluff, patronizing propaganda, reflections of assorted personal agendas, or advertising masquerading as news have returned to the Lockport paper. Admittedly, getting a good percentage of local "hard news" every day on the front page in a small market such as Lockport is no easy accomplishment. The Lockport paper seems to have a reserve pile of non-news material to fill the front page. With only a couple editorial employees left in Lockport who really know Lockport, the newspaper is constantly at risk of showing its ignorance of the city. They appear to have great difficulty in identifying to the public the real local issues. Recently, we're told, they ran a "telephone poll" asking what residents thought of the controversial question of the city hiring two additional firefighters. The results of the survey were reported as "news." The real news to us was the (unpublished) report we received that only nine (9) people actually called the newspaper's answering service for this survey. Ask someone who has studied statistics and opinion sampling techniques and they will tell you the results of such a survey are worst than worthless --- certainly not "news."
In the past several years "news" in the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal has been moving closer to "history." This has been the result not only of cost-cutting but of the logistics of having the newspaper printed out of town. This commentator remembers when the paper, delivered in the afternoon, had a deadline as late as about 11AM that morning. Nowadays the paper, despite a world revolution in electronic and computer editing and composition techniques, is still delivered in the afternoon,(available to some in the late morning) but has a deadline usually no fresher than about 11PM the day before. More often like 24 hours before delivery. We're told the Lockport paper usually sits on pallets for hours at the out-of-town printing plant while issues of other papers in the Greater Niagara group are trucked to their destinations. The days of "hot off the press" are gone for Lockport.
The organization of the paper was improved in 1998 and remains good. The content of the two sections is consistent and finding what you seek is straightforward. The classified section has been expanded to include advertisements for the Niagara Falls area placed with the Niagara Gazette.
Sadly, the days of local control and ownership of the Lockport newspaper are gone. Such is the case nationwide as media groups gobble up local newspapers, radio, and television outlets. There is no substitute for local ownership of a town's newspaper.
Our last review of The Lockport Union-Sun & Journal was in July 1998 when we reported the paper had undergone notable improvement during the past year. We wish we could report more improvement with this updated review but to our eyes the product doesn't show it. There have been some notable declines. However your commentator, who buys and reads local papers from all over the state, finds the Lockport product still above average for the size market in New York State.
Updated May 30, 2002
WGRZ. NBC Channel 2 - Buffalo.
WIVB. CBS Channel 4 - Buffalo
WKBW. ABC Channel 7 - Buffalo
WNED. PBS Channel 17 - Buffalo
WNLO. Channel 23 - Buffalo - Operated by Channel 4 ownership. In transistion.
WNYB. Channel 26 -Religion - Jamestown
WUTV. FOX Channel 29 - Buffalo
WNYO. Warner Brothers Channel 49 - Buffalo
Secondary TV Coverage
CBLT. Channel 5 - Toronto (CBC)
CFTO. Channel 9 - Toronto
CHCH. Channel 11 - Hamilton, Ontario
TVON. Channel 19 -Ontario Educational
WICU. Channel 12 - Erie, PA (NBC)
WJET. Channel 24 - Erie, PA (ABC)
WSEE. Channel 35 - Erie, PA (CBS)
WQLN. Channel 54 - Erie, PA (PBS)
WFXP. Channel 66 - Erie, PA (FOX)
WNGS. Channel 67 - Springville, NY (UPN)
Very Limited Coverage
W58AV. Channel 58 - Buffalo low power
Stations with an * have higher power and coverage
..550 * WGR - Sports talk.
Raw language, controversial. - Owned by Entercom/PA
..930 * WBEN - Talk and News. - Owned by Entercom/PA
..970 * WNED - Public broadcasting. News/Talk.
1080 - WUFO - Black
1120 - WMNY- Urban Gospel
1230 - WECK - County music via satellite. Owned by Entercom/PA
1270 * WHLD - Liberal and left-leaning talk, most via satellite.
1300 WXRL - Country. Features local country legend, "Rambling Lou."
1340 - WLVL - Talk & Sports. Satellite music with local ads. .
1400 - WWWS - AOR (All over the road) - Owned by Entercom/PA
1440 - WJJL - Moved from Niagara Falls to West Seneca, NY Oldies Rock 'n Roll.
1490 - WBTA - Hometown (Batavia) mix.
1520 * WWKB - Left-leaning talk. Owned by Entercom/PA
Only major FM stations are listed, Most based in Buffalo.
Many Ontario (Canada) stations with good coverage, not included
..88.7 - WBFO -
NPR. University of Buffalo station.
..92.9 - WBUF - Hard rock and shock. Owned by Infinity/NYC
93.7 - WBLK - Urban Contemporary - Owned by Infinity/NYC
..94.5 - WNED - Classical. - WNY Public Broadcasting
..96.1 - WJYE - Adult Contemporary, Music may appeal to adults 25-49. Owned by Infinity/NYC
..96.9 - WGRF - Classic rock programming may appeal to teens and adults to 18-35
..98.5 - WKSE - Contemporary music. Program may appeal to those under 49. Owned by Entercom/PA
..99.5 - WDCX - Religion
101.7 - WLOF - Religion (Catholic) radio (Attica)
102.5 - WMJQ - Adult Contemporary
103.3 - WEDG - Alternative music. "The Edge"
104.1 - WHTT - Oldies
106.5 - WYRK - Country - Owned by Infinity/NYC
107.7 - WNSA - Sports talk
Artvoice. Published weekly. Free distribution. Most comprehensive news of the arts centered at Buffalo.
Buffalo Beat. Published weekly. Free distribution. Mostly alternative/political editorial content with comprehensive arts and entertainment listings and criticism.
Buffalo News. Published
daily, 7-mornings plus weekday afternoons in several regional editions.
50-cents weekdays, $2 on Sunday. Distribution throughout Western New York. Western New York's most dominant and influential media. Controlled by Warren Buffet's Birkshire Hathaway Corporation. A local publisher has wide ranging authority on all matters and sets editorial policy.
Daily News (Batavia). Published Monday through Friday afternoons, and Saturday mornings except holidays. 50-cents a copy. Distribution in Genesee County, parts of Orleans County. Part of the Johnson chain of small newspapers.
Journal-Register (Medina). Published Monday through Friday afternoons. 50-cents per copy. Distribution in Orleans County and extreme Eastern Niagara County. Controlled by Greater Niagara Newspaper and southern owners.
Niagara Falls Reporter. Published weekly at Niagara Falls, NY. Free distribution. Begun in June 2000, tabloid has expanded coverage and distribution. Editor is Mike Hudson, former Niagara Gazette reporter. It's slogan describes what to expect: To comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable."
Niagara Gazette. Published daily, mornings. 50-cents weekdays, $1.25 on Sunday. Distribution in Niagara Falls and Western Niagara County. Controlled by southern family of media barons. Flagship for Greater Niagara Newspapers group.
Tonawanda News. Published Monday through Saturday. 50-cents per copy. Distribution in Tonawandas and parts of southwest Niagara County exclusive of Lockport and Niagara Falls. Sold in May 1998 to southern group that already controlled Greater Niagara Newspapers.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. Published Monday through Saturday afternoons. 50-cents per copy. A joint publication, Niagara Sunday, is provided on Sunday mornings for $1.25. Distribution in Eastern Niagara County. Controlled by southern family of media barons and managed in this area by Greater Niagara Newspapers.