March 29, 2004
WEEI Enters Rhode Island
*This week's top story comes
from RHODE ISLAND, but it's really about MASSACHUSETTS,
too, as one Boston broadcaster exits the Ocean State and another
prepares to enter it.
Steve Mindich's Phoenix
Media/Communications Group is selling WWRX (103.7 Westerly) to
Entercom for a reported $14.5 million. Mindich bought the station
in 2000 when Clear Channel had to spin it off; he flipped it
to modern rock as "FNX," running it first as part of
the "FNX Network" based at WFNX (101.7 Lynn MA) and
later breaking off for mostly local programming. That local programming
came to an end last Monday, with WWRX returning to a temporary
WFNX simulcast in preparation for Entercom's May 1 takeover.
When Entercom gets the big signal (it covers Rhode Island
and serves big chunks of eastern Connecticut and southeastern
Massachusetts), it'll flip 103.7 to a simulcast of sports WEEI
(850 Boston), extending that station's programming to a market
that can't hear it very well after dark - and bringing some pretty
big competition to Citadel's WSKO (790 Providence)/WSKO-FM (99.7
Wakefield-Peace Dale, which broadcasts from the very same tower
What the new WEEI-FM won't bring with it - at least not right
away - is the 2004 World Champion (we can, and will, dream, especially
with Opening Day just days away) Boston Red Sox, whose contract
keeps them on WSKO sister station WPRO (630 Providence) through
the end of the 2004 season. Entercom says it plans to move the
Sox to 103.7 in 2005, the last year of its current contract with
Speaking of Entercom in Boston, WAAF (107.3 Worcester) is
losing afternoon guy Eddie Webb effective May 14; he'll be replaced
by Paul Marshall, inbound from KRXQ (98.5) in Sacramento.
And they might as well rename the regional RTNDA Murrow Awards
the "Ed Perry Awards," at least where the small-market
category in the New England region is concerned; Ed's WATD (95.9
Marshfield) again swept the field this year, winning 8 of 11
categories and leaving a few crumbs for Vermont Public Radio
and New Hampshire Public Radio to pick up. Not to be outdone,
Boston's WBUR (90.9) won 8 of 10 large-market awards, with the
others going to Hartford's WTIC and your editor's old shop, WBZ
(1030 Boston). You can check out the whole list at RTNDA's
*Up in MAINE, Pegasus Broadcasting
converted its LMA of WPME (Channel 35) in Lewiston to a full
duopoly with WB affiliate WPXT (Channel 51) Portland. Pegasus
paid KB Prime Media $3.8 million for the UPN affiliate, reports
the Portland Press Herald.
And we're told WGAN (560 Portland) has replaced its third
tower - and there's now a set of FM bays mounted there, presumably
a backup for WMGX (93.1) and WYNZ (100.9) as they work to replace
the tower they lost a few months ago.
*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Joe Collie's moving
from WZID (95.7 Manchester) to mornings at WOTX (102.3 Concord);
he'll be replaced in afternoons by Bob Bronson.
*We'll start our NEW YORK news
downstate, where WBEA (101.7 Southold) relaunched last week with
a younger-skewing top-40 format replacing its top-40/hot AC mix.
In New York City, WWPR (105.1 New York) fired weekend middayer
Raqiyah Mays after she went on the air last Saturday and talked
about her disapproval of black women dating white men. The predictable
media frenzy ensued, and Mays was promptly hired by crosstown
WQHT (97.1 New York), where she debuted yesterday.
The dispute between the Yankees' YES Network and Cablevision
took another turn last week with a court order to the cable operator
to move YES from a discretionary sports tier to Cablevision's
expanded basic tier. That'll put the team in millions of additional
households in the New York suburbs - while raising cable rates
by 95 cents a month. Expect more court action in this case (with,
we'd bet, no resolution before the Sox clinch the AL East and
knock the Yankees out of pennant contention. Like we said, we
a clue to the future of WXPK (107.1 Briarcliff Manor)? A new
site at 1071thepeak.com shows this "Coming Soon" message
and the tag line "We don't just play hits, we play careers,"
giving a bit of a preview to the AAA format expected to debut
on that Westchester signal pretty soon. Stay tuned...
Up in the Mohawk Valley, an update on the sale of WXBH (1190
Cobleskill): talk host Doug Stephan and Ellen Ratner are the
other partners in the purchase.
In Syracuse, Bud Money's departing WBBS (104.7 Fulton) and
heading up I-81 to another country giant, WFRY (97.5 Watertown),
where he'll be doing nights starting later this week.
In Binghamton, it's a format relaunch at WMRV (105.7 Endicott),
where Clear Channel ducks out of the top 40 war with Citadel's
"Wild" WWYL (104.1 Chenango Bridge). At midnight last
night, WMRV flipped to hot AC, still as "Star 105-7,"
and now with the tagline, "The Southern Tier's Best Variety."
Here in Rochester,
WXXI (1370) has found a temporary replacement for afternoon anchor/reporter
Mark Giardina. Yes, that's yours truly there, back on the air
(for a little while, anyway) for the first time in more than
two years and reminding you that "local broadcast of All
Things Considered is made possible by our listeners, and
A few other tidbits from around town: a court has ordered
WCMF (96.5 Rochester) morning man Brother Wease not to talk about
former sidekick Cindy Pearce; the ruling comes as part of Pearce's
breach-of-contract suit against the station. WCMF also has to
provide tapes of Wease's show to Pearce's lawyers.
And over at WBEE (92.5), Nikki Landry comes on board (from
WGH-FM in Newport News VA) as the new music director/midday jock.
*There's a new signal on the air in western
PENNSYLVANIA. Clarke Ingram, scanning the dial from his
base in NERW's Pittsburgh bureau, reports that WFJY (660 Wilkinsburg)
signed on Friday afternoon, running talk programming from the
National Radio Network and ID'ing with sister station WVFC (1530
This is the new facility for the silent 1470 Portage, moving
some 75 miles from the Johnstown area to the WURP (1550 Braddock)
towers just east of Pittsburgh - and now that it's on the air,
we suspect Alex Langer's next move will be to build out the CP
that moves WVFC east to the Philadelphia market, on 1180 in King
of Prussia from the WWDB (860) site.
Speaking of Philly, we hear that powerful "El Sol 95.3"
pirate is facing some problems - not from the FCC, mind you,
but from a jammer! Word around the local engineering community
is that someone's broadcasting white noise on 95.3 and wiping
out the El Sol signal in much of the area it used to serve. Meanwhile,
the IBC Radio Network, which runs a mixture of business talk,
international broadcast relays and "paranormal talk",
is launching a network of Part 15 low-power AM signals around
Philadelphia. They'll operate on 1610 kHz, we're told.
And in Scranton, Cadillac Jack (not the Jack FM guy, nor the
Boston PD) exits his afternoon gig at WGGY (101.3); "Kelly
Green" (Jayme Gordon) will move in from mornings to replace
him at Froggy.
*NEW JERSEY 101.5 (WKXW-FM 101.5 Trenton/WKOE
106.3 Ocean City) abruptly parted ways with late-night talk host
Michelle Jerson last week. The station says it's changing its
target audience for that shift, replacing Jerson's "18-34
female-oriented relationships show" with something aimed
at listeners 35-54; NERW suspects the sudden regulatory spotlight
on broadcast content (and Jerson's show, while quite frank about
sex, was hardly explicit) is really to blame here. In any case,
no replacement has been named yet - and Jerson's looking for
a new gig.
*In CANADA, Bayshore Broadcasting wants
to convert CFPS (1490 Port Elgin) from a relay of its nearby
CFOS (560 Owen Sound) to a standalone FM signal on 97.9, serving
the amalgamated municipalities of Saugeen Shores and Kincardine.
Down in Brantford, religious CFWC (99.5) applies to move to
93.9, upgrading from 50 to 250 watts. The move was inevitable;
CFWC was bumped from its unprotected spot at 99.5 by new sign-on
CIKZ (KICX 99.5) in Kitchener-Waterloo.
In Hamilton, Larry Silver moves from midday talk host at Corus'
CHML (900) to Rogers' CJAQ (92.5 Jack FM) in Toronto, where he'll
*That's it for another week...except for our usual housekeeping
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