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January 26, 2004

Nassau Grows Again in New Hampshire

*The eyes of the political world are on NEW HAMPSHIRE this week, of course, but so are the eyes of the radio business world in New England - as, yet again, New Jersey's Nassau Broadcasting Partners L.P. has picked up another radio group in northern New England.

In the last couple of months, Nassau has bought clusters from Mariner and WMTW in Maine and then from Tele-Media in New Hampshire, and now Lou Mercatanti's group is shelling out $5 million for the three Lakes Region stations that are all that remains of the Sconnix Broadcasting empire.

At its height in the eighties, Sconnix owned stations from Kansas City to Miami to Boston (WHDH, WBOS and WCOZ at various times), and for a few years it even had a headquarters office (thanks to partner Ted Nixon) right here in NERW's hometown of Rochester, N.Y. More recently, Sconnix has been operated out of Vienna, Virginia, and all it had left in its portfolio were hot AC WLNH (98.3 Laconia), classic rock WBHG (101.5 Meredith) and news-talk WEMJ (1490 Laconia), which now join Tele-Media's oldies WLKZ (104.9 Wolfeboro) in Nassau's new Lakes Region cluster.

And NERW hears Nassau's not done in New Hampshire - as early as this week, Nassau may be ready to announce another acquisition that will give its other Granite State purchases some company. Stay tuned...

One other Granite State note: when the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (formerly the New Haven Ravens) of the AA Eastern League begin their first season in Manchester, they'll be on two Concord-area radio stations: the team signed a deal to air its games on WKXL (1450 Concord) and WTPL (107.7 Hillsborough) this summer and hopes to add several network stations as well before the season starts. (We'll have our complete baseball-on-the-radio rundown in a few weeks...)

*Is MASSACHUSETTS just not ready for two all-Christmas radio stations? That's what WQSX (93.7 Lawrence) seems to believe - unlike many of the stations that went to all ho-ho-ho weeks before the holiday, "Star 93.7" saw its ratings slump after making the flip. The Entercom station tells the Boston Herald it "probably won't do all-Christmas again," and if it does, it'll be just for a day or two before Christmas. (Boston's other early all-Christmas adopter, WODS, did see a ratings boost from the move.)

Down the hall at Entercom, Mike Hsu is the new night jock at WAAF (107.3 Worcester), moving there from his gig as morning news anchor. Hsu is still WAAF's metal director as well.

Over at Sporting News Radio's WWZN (1510 Boston), Mike Winn replaces Bill Flaherty as general manager. Sporting News Radio president Chris Brennan, who was in town last week, told station staffers the format is staying in place there, even though SNR has sold its Chicago flagship and is leasing out all the airtime on its New York station.

Up in Lowell, Gary Francis has departed WCAP (980)'s "Afternoon Live" show, shutting down the storefront studio in his Gary's Ice Cream shop from which he broadcast daily. Francis is still involved with WCAP, voicetracking the overnight music show and doing production; the afternoon shift has been taken over by Regina Faticanti, who'll do it from the WCAP studios on Central Street. (Small World Dept.: When your editor was working for WCAP in the early nineties, he covered Faticanti, who was then - and still is - on the Lowell School Committee.)

And down in Middleborough Center, Steve Callahan is applying for a power increase at WVBF (1530), going from 1000 watts during the day to 2200 watts day, 940 watts critical hours from a taller (49 meter) new tower at the station's existing site.

*RHODE ISLAND's newest LPFM station is already testing in anticipation of a February 7 debut; WCTD-LP (96.9 Ashaway) will be operated by Chris DiPaolo of WBLQ (88.1 Westerly) fame - from a spare room in his parents' house!

*In VERMONT, "Sloppy Joe" is out as PD of WEXP (101.5 Brandon)/WVAY (100.7 Wilmington), with Kelli (Hughes) Kowalski inbound from Vox sister station WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury NY) to replace him.

*One CONNECTICUT obituary: Ken Jordan, whose real name was Kenneth Jordan Berger, died Tuesday (1/20) of congestive heart failure. Jordan was a popular oldies DJ in the New Haven area, with shows over the years on WNHC, WELI, WAVZ and most recently on Long Island's WLNG (92.1 Sag Harbor). Jordan was 60.

*Some big doings this week in the Capital District of NEW YORK state, especially at the Galaxy stations in and around Albany. Ed Levine pulled the plug on modern rock "K-Rock" at WKRD (93.7 Scotia) Thursday, playing construction noises until 3 PM, when 93.7 flipped to classic country as "The Eagle." WKRD is also picking up NASCAR race coverage in a bid to siphon at least a bit of audience from perennial market-leading country outlet WGNA (107.7 Albany), though the station's signal has nowhere near the coverage of WGNA.

Galaxy also shuffled some voices at sister station WRCZ (94.5 Ravena), cutting Bill Sheehan loose from the morning show he shared with Bob Mason. (The two go way back, to the old "Mason and Sheehan" days on WPYX.) WRCZ also named Laura Daniels to replace Cree Arigoni, who departed last fall, as Mason's sidekick.

And over at Albany Broadcasting's WFLY (92.3 Troy), a familiar voice returned to the air - Brian Cody, former co-host of the "Brian, Ellen and Big Ray" morning show, joins Fly 92 as afternoon jock, while marketing VP Patrick Ryan takes interim PD duties.

Up in the Adirondacks, we're told WIRD (920 Lake Placid) is back on the air after several weeks of silence.

On the Binghamton TV dial, that's a new logo there for top-rated CBS affiliate WBNG (Channel 12), its first new look in about a decade and a half.

Here in Rochester, Infinity modern rocker WZNE (94.1 Brighton) sent morning guy Dem Jones packing, moving midday jock Ty to mornings and music director Jeff Sottolano into middays. No word on whether the move had anything to do with WZNE's abysmal ratings - the latest book found it near the bottom of the pack in the Flower City.

(Clear Channel talker WHAM stayed at the top despite a ratings hit from the temporary loss of Rush Limbaugh and the permanent departure of midday host Bob Lonsberry; the latest in the parade of fill-ins for the Lonsberry shift include WRKO morning co-host Scott Allan Miller, who did the shift last week for a day or two, and former WRKO and WPHT talker Jeff Katz, who'll take a swing at it today through Wednesday. But NERW really missed having a local pro in the seat last week, when weekend legal-show host Frank Cegelski was trying to field calls about the massive Kodak layoffs in town without the experience to give the topic the insight it deserved.)

Heading downstate, WCBS (880 New York) unveiled a new afternoon format last Monday, breaking from the nonstop news wheel from 5-7 PM daily for a new show called "Drivetime Live," hosted by Mary Alice Williams, Wayne Cabot and Ed Crane. Could WCBS, which already breaks from all-news for Yankees games during the season, be moving toward more long-form programming? Its Los Angeles sister station, KNX (1070), now breaks out of news for several hours each weekend afternoon to do talk...

And we're sorry to have to report the passing of Harry Fleetwood, the smooth-voiced announcer familiar to New Yorkers from "Music in the Night" on WNBC/WRCA in the fifties and sixties and later from WNCN (104.3). Fleetwood died January 18; he was 86.

*A familiar central PENNSYLVANIA voice has not only left the airwaves, he says he's done with radio: Bruce Bond and sidekick "Stretch" Raback were told their WRKZ (102.3 Carlisle) morning show was cancelled, effective January 14. Bond, the longtime afternoon jock on WNNK (104.1 Harrisburg), hoped Z-102.3 would bring him back to prominence after a nasty contract dispute with WNNK that kept him off the air for more than a year - but the ratings never materialized, and now Bond tells the Harrisburg Patriot-News that he's not looking for new work behind the mike. Raback, meanwhile, says he's contemplating a career in politics.

An FM and UHF TV pioneer passed from the scene this month: Raymond Frank Kohn, who died January 15 in Clearwater, Florida, founded WFMZ (100.7 Allentown, now WLEV) way back in 1947, when a standalone FM signal had almost no chance of succeeding. Yet WFMZ stayed on the air through the forties and fifties, with Kohn finally selling the station in 1965. Kohn also founded the original WFMZ-TV (Channel 67), which went dark after a brief period of operation in the mid-fifties and was later revived (after he'd sold the station) on channel 69. Kohn was 87.

*In CANADA's capital, an application for a new station has triggered a call for competing applications by the CRTC. Applications are due April 21.

Veteran CHFI (98.1 Toronto) jock Don Daynard is hanging up his headphones. Health problems have forced Daynard (the station's morning jock from 1987-1999) to retire from his Saturday Night Oldies show. Over at CILQ (Q107), weekend jock Bob "Iceman" Segarini is out - not of his own volition, we're told.

And a very happy 25th anniversary to CJTN (1270 Trenton), which marked the occasion with a special morning show last week.

*That's it for another week...except for our usual housekeeping notes. First, a reminder that while we don't ask you for a password to read NERW, this isn't a free product, either. Many of you have already sent in subscription payments for 2004, and to all of you we say "thank you." If you haven't, what are you waiting for? Your contribution - of any amount - makes it possible for us to keep NERW, now in its tenth year, coming to you week after week after week...and if you sign up at the $60 level, you even get a free 2004 Tower Site Calendar. For all the details - and easy credit card/PayPal payment links - just click here.

If you haven't seen it yet, don't miss our roundup of all the news that was fit to remember from last year... Click here for our 2003 Year in Review package!

*And if you still haven't ordered one, we have plenty of 2004 Tower Site Calendars still available for your enjoyment!

Just as in past years, the calendar features a dozen spiffy 8.5-by-11 inch full-color images of tower sites from across the nation - everything from Washington's WTEM to New York's WCBS/WFAN (shown at left) to Los Angeles' KHJ to WCTM in Eaton, Ohio.

Other featured sites include Cedar Hill in Dallas, Lookout Mountain above Denver, CKLW Windsor, WELI New Haven, WPTF Raleigh NC, WBT Charlotte NC, WAJR Morgantown WV, WMT Cedar Rapids IA and the mighty 12 towers of KFXR (the old KLIF 1190) in Dallas.

Unlike last year, this year's calendar features heavier paper (no more curling!) and will be shipped shrink-wrapped on a cardboard backing to make sure it arrives in pristine condition.

All orders received by January 24 have now been shipped, so if you've already ordered, you should be enjoying your calendar any day now. (And if you ordered before January 10 and haven't received your calendar yet, please let us know!)

If you haven't ordered yet, what are you waiting for? It's too late for Christmas gift-giving - but perhaps you still need a calendar for 2004...or maybe you didn't find one under the tree, despite all those hints you dropped.

So order now and help support NERW and Tower Site of the Week. Better yet, place your subscription for 2004 at the $60 level by using the handy buttons below, and you'll get your 2004 Tower Site Calendar absolutely FREE. What more could you want? (Local news on the weekends, maybe?)

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NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please click here to learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW is copyright 2003 by Scott Fybush.