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July 12, 2004

Back from the Road

*When we headed out on the road two weeks ago for the first of several bits of summer travel, we were already hearing rumblings about a big announcement from the Howard Stern camp - and sure enough, a few days after we departed for Colorado, Howard announced nine new affiliates, including replacements in Pittsburgh and Rochester where his former Clear Channel affiliates dropped his show back in February.

And in western PENNSYLVANIA, Stern's arrival on an Infinity-owned FM meant the demise of one of Pittsburgh's longest-running formats. Admittedly, the top 40 at WBZZ (93.7 Pittsburgh) had taken a beating in recent years as the station reinvented itself, first replacing "B94" with "93-7BZZ" and then with "B93-7."

The 23 years of heritage CHR came to an end June 30, when B gave way to "K-Rock," with new calls of WRKZ following a few days later and Stern's arrival scheduled for July 19. (And yes, WRKZ is itself something of a heritage Keystone State callsign, but not to Pittsburgh ears - it was over in the Harrisburg market for most of the last two decades.)

The "Dave, Bubba and Shelly" morning show that was a 93.7 staple is gone, as are several other jocks at the former WBZZ calls - and the calls themselves were quickly packed in dry ice and driven out the Parkway West to be flown down to Tampa for another new Stern affiliate, "1010 the Buzz," the former WQYK (1010 Seffner FL).

Meanwhile, Stern's former morning slot on WXDX (105.9 Pittsburgh) also got filled, as the X moved Alan Cox from afternoons to wakeup duty. And down the hall at the Giant Flashcube (well, have you seen the building that houses Clear Channel/Pittsburgh?), Jim Quinn adds another affiliate to his WPGB (104.7 Pittsburgh)-based morning show, as WFBG (1290 Altoona) picks up the broadcast.

*And at the other end of the Keystone State, Radio One modified its application to move WSNJ-FM (107.7 Bridgeton) to 107.9 in Pennsauken, NEW JERSEY. Instead of the current CP, which calls for 1900 watts at 156 meters above average terrain on the WKDN (106.9 Camden NJ) tower in Camden, Radio One now wants to put WSNJ-FM right in the heart of Philadelphia - as in, two blocks from William Penn's statue atop City Hall. The new application for WSNJ-FM's 107.9 facility calls for 550 watts at 252 meters from the very same One Liberty Plaza skyscraper that's already home to WMMR (93.3 Philadelphia). Radio One has also applied for Special Temporary Authority for WSNJ-FM, presumably to allow the station to remain silent while it pursues this modified move in to Philadelphia.

(Which reminds us that we're still looking for tape of WSNJ's February sign-off from Bridgeton, should any of our kind readers have any...)

Speaking of eras and the ends thereof, Jerry Padden's 23-year run as PD of WKRZ (98.5 Wilkes-Barre) came to a close last week; he's looking for a new gig and local Entercom exec Jim Rising has added 'KRZ PD duties to his plate for the time being.

More PD news: in Philadelphia, Dan Reed is the new OM/PD at WXPN (88.5), where he arrives after a stint at the Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, parent to - among other fine stations - the excellent WPFK (91.9), one of the handful of really good public radio AAA outlets. (Yes, we have a thing for AAA public radio hereabouts, and we're glad that 'XPN is in good hands.)

Still more PD news: Tom Bigby's saying so long to WIP (610 Philadelphia), where he guided the sports station to some pretty impressive numbers over the years. He's heading home to Dallas and the OM chair at KRLD (1080 Dallas TX), where he replaces another NERW-land veteran, Tyler Cox, who put in some time at Boston's WBZ in the eighties and early nineties and who just left to be the PD of Salem's talk network.

In Harrisburg, WTPA (93.5 Mechanicsburg) has picked up the syndicated Bob & Tom morning show, which replaces the local Coffee and Jammer show.

We already mentioned the sign-on of WRXV (89.1 State College) last week, but we neglected to show their logo, which is pretty nifty and helps fill what's otherwise a relatively graphics-poor issue of NERW, so here it is...

And one reason we're graphics-poor this week is a whole slew of new translator grants to report, many of which are in Pennsylvania, to wit:

W231BG (94.1 Sunnyburn), W236AX (95.1 New Holland) and W256AV (99.1 Ephrata) to the Hope Christian Church of Marlton, which will use them - along with new Garden State grants W272BH (102.3 New Grettna) and W277BA (103.3 Millville) to relay WVBV (90.5 Medford Lakes NJ), which might work out better once WVBV actually signs on, which it hasn't yet.

W269BM (101.7 Whites Crossing) and W241AM (96.1 Waymart) to DeWit Broadcasting; W234AX (94.7 Hazleton), W248AK (97.5 Hazleton) and W260AY (99.9 Wilkes-Barre) to Kevin Fitzgerald, who plans to relay WPGP (88.3 Tafton); W265BM (100.9 Folstown) to 4M Broadcasting; and W234AV (94.7 Punxsutawney), W291BF (106.1 Brookville) and W299BB (107.7 DuBois) to Priority Broadcasting.

And EMF Broadcasting gets W233AX (94.5 Berwick), which will relay WGRC (91.3 Lewisburg).

Oh - and one bit of TV news: Susan Koeppen departs WTAE (Channel 4) in Pittsburgh to go to work for CBS' "Early Show." Rochesterians may remember her for her stint at WHEC-TV (Channel 10) back in the mid-nineties.

*In NEW YORK, more PD shakeups at WNEW (102.7 New York): Smokey Rivers moves up to OM at "Mix 102.7," opening a PD seat that's widely rumored to be Frankie Blue's for the asking. And WNEW APD/MD Rick Martini heads down Seventh Avenue to be interim PD at WCBS-FM (101.1 New York).

Over at Bloomberg Radio's WBBR (1130 New York), there's more long-form programming on the schedule with the arrival of the 11 AM-1 PM "Bloomberg Simply Put" show, which features former WRKO (680 Boston) talkers Michael Goldman and Tom Moroney. Bloomberg also adds "Bloomberg on the Economy" from 2-3 PM, shifts "Bloomberg Big Picture" to the 1-2 PM slot and reruns the Goldman/Moroney show from 8-10 PM weeknights.

In Albany, Dan Lynch has departed his long-running afternoon talk show on WROW (590 Albany) - in fact, he's departed Albany completely, moving down to Florida to teach and write. There's no permanent replacement yet for Lynch's slot at the talker.

Down the road in Ravena, Ed Levine gets the FCC's go-ahead to move WRCZ (94.5) to another tower nearby, bumping up the power from 3 to 6 kilowatts and improving the signal over Albany a bit.

Here's one for the engineers who couldn't make it to NAB in Las Vegas this year: Binghamton's SBE Chapter One is bringing Larry Bloomfield's excellent "Taste of NAB Road Show" to the region next week. It takes place next Monday (July 19) at Ithaca College, starting at 5 PM. There'll be a buffet dinner for a nominal cost - and lots of great door prizes, too! Contact Jim Pratt ([email protected]) for more information.

(And visit tech-notes.tv for the rest of the Road Show itinerary, including stops in Boston on Wednesday and in Northeastern New York on Friday...)

Way up north, the new 90.9 Schuyler Falls (near Plattsburgh) now has the calls WAVX; it'll relay the religious programming heard on WGLY (91.5 Bolton VT) and its network of stations.

Not quite so far up north, oldies have returned to the Ogdensburg area with the flip of AC "Yes FM" WYSX (98.7 Ogdensburg) to "PAC 98-7" WPAC. "Yes FM" sticks around on the simulcast frequency of 96.7, by way of a strange little swap of facilities. Grab a pencil, a piece of paper and a couple of Advils and try to follow along:

The class A facility that was WNCQ (102.9 Morristown) upgrades to class C3, changes frequency to 96.7 and takes on the calls WYSX and the "Yes FM" AC format. The class A facility that was WPAC (96.7 Canton) moves to 102.9, changes calls to WNCQ and picks up the "Q Country" that's been on WNCQ 102.9 all along anyway.

If this makes sense to you, you're probably an FCC lawyer; for the average listener in the North Country, the practical result is that "Q Country" more or less stays put on 102.9 (just changing its ID from Morristown to Canton) and "Yes" more or less stays put on 96.7, albeit with a power increase and a new Morristown city of license.

All of which brings us to a series of swaps that should be a little bit easier to understand: right on schedule at midnight July 4, Clear Channel flipped active rocker WNVE (95.1 Honeoye Falls) to classic hits as WFXF, "the Fox," moving WNVE's "Nerve" format up the dial - and down in power - to the former WFXF (107.3 South Bristol) facility.

The Nerve led into the change with repeated spins of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," while the Fox showed a bit more creativity, leaving 107.3 behind with a playlist that included Bowie's "Changes," the Who's "Song is Over," the Eagles' "Already Gone," Bob Seger's "Night Moves" (it was a midnight swap, after all), Billy Joel's "Movin; Out," the Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye" and finally Genesis' "Follow You, Follow Me" (which cut off partway through, but now we're just being picky.)

So far, so good, right? Leave it to the local paper (the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, which has now officially replaced the Boston Globe as this column's favorite example of one-stop-beyond-clueless radio reporting) to confuse matters. First came the "news" article, more than a week after even the slowest of the radio trades had reported the switch, almost two weeks after WFXF began promoting it on air and - yup - even a day after WFXF finally gave up waiting for a news article and took out an ad announcing the move, that somehow wound up with the claim that neither station would be using any live jocks - which had to have been a shocker for the live jocks who were (and still are) on the Nerve. (Postscript: the same reporter went on, just a few days later, to deliver a front-pager that snarkily ripped on a new magazine that claims that Kodak and the Rochester Institute of Technology are in Rochester, Minnesota. Pot, kettle, black, we say...)

And then we picked up the D&C's Sunday TV book yesterday, curious to see how, if at all, it would acknowledge the changes. (This is, after all, the same set of radio listings that were still showing Howard Stern on WNVE as late as the end of June, still list the long-defunct "Young and Elder" morning show, still list programs on WRCI under the WDCZ calls that it hasn't had for seven months, still show Dem Jones at WPXY months after he moved across town to WBZA, and, well, you get the picture..)

Oh, and did we mention that the TV channel listings show the first 25 or so channels of the local cable company's digital cable lineup and then just stop cold, simply because that's where the page ran out? Even the pathetic remains of the once-estimable TV Guide (where the heck did the channel listings page go, anyway?) look good by comparison, but we digress.

We should backtrack for just a moment to mention that the big Stern announcement also confirmed the very long-standing rumor that Howard would show up on Infinity's WZNE (94.1 Brighton) when he adds those new affiliates next week. And, indeed, the listing for Stern was duly changed to show WZNE instead of WNVE. (More on this move in a moment.)

But then we looked at the station list, which now reads - we couldn't make this up if we tried - as follows:

WFXF (94.1) classic oldies

WNVE (95.1) rock

WNVE (107.3) rock

And yes, before you ask - we've offered our assistance. Repeatedly. *sigh*

(Could it get worse, you ask? Why, yes - we haven't even touched on Insider, the puerile little freebie rag that the D&C now offers as an insult - er, outreach - to "younger readers" - or on the poll it ran just a few weeks ago, asking readers what their favorite radio station might be. Yup, among the choices was "WNVE 95.5." We give up.)

So, back to Stern: come July 19, he'll be sharing a cluster in Rochester with his chief ratings rival, Alan "Brother Wease" Levin of WCMF (96.5 Rochester). For all that the two have sparred in public over the years, they've been rather tame about their new pairing at the Infinity stations here, and with good reason - by bringing Stern and Wease under the same sales roof, the local cluster can now offer advertisers a near-lock on the younger male audience in town, which has got to be a good thing for both Wease and Stern.

One more helpful bit of advice for the D&C TV book to ignore: you can take Kate Burdett's name off the WVOR (100.5 Rochester) morning show; she's headed to Columbus and mornings on WBNS-FM (97.1).

A few TV notes from around the Empire State: WRNN (Channel 62) in Kingston gets FCC permission to shut down its analog signal, going DTV-only on WRNN-DT (Channel 48) from a site considerably to the south and closer to New York City. In Binghamton, WIVT-DT (Channel 4) gets a license to cover. And in Rochester, there's still no replacement for Bob Kirk in the news director chair at WROC-TV (Channel 8) - nor any on-air sign of the new logo at WHEC (Channel 10), even though it's been all over their web site for weeks now.

New translators? But of course - the FCC has granted Edgewater Broadcasting W285DX (104.9 Alfred), W289AR (105.7 Hornell) and W289AS (105.7 Olean), all of which will relay WZXV (99.7 Palmyra).

Sorry to report the passing of Bill Randle, who was a DJ on WCBS (880 New York) in those long-ago days before all-news at 88 on the Big Apple dial. Randle really made his mark in Cleveland, where he was a fixture at stations that included WERE (1300), WBBG (1260) and WRMR (850). After retiring from radio to practice law, Randle returned to the reincarnated WRMR (1420) a few years back to do a weekend show - and it was ironic indeed that his death July 9 at age 80 came just two days before WRMR itself was to cease to exist, having been sold to Salem, which is flipping it back to its heritage WHK calls as a talk outlet. WRMR thus ended its existence Sunday with a lengthy tribute to Randle, which seems somehow fitting.

We also note the passing of Bob Hagen, who died last Sunday (July 4) at 68. Hagen began his broadcast career in Cleveland at WHK and WERE before ending up at what was then KYW (1100) as news director in the early sixties. When Westinghouse regained control of 1060 in Philadelphia and moved the KYW calls back there in 1965, Hagen came along to become the first news director and oversee the launch of the all-news format. In 1970, he moved to New York and WMCA, then to WNEW, where he spent 15 years before returning to Westinghouse at WINS. Hagen retired in 1999 and moved to Phoenix.

*Brian Smith has a new gig in CONNECTICUT. The former co-host of WPLR (99.1 New Haven)'s "Smith and Barber" morning show is the new afternoon talker at WICC (600 Bridgeport), filling the slot lately occupied by "Citizen Smith" - no relation. (You'll recall that Brian Smith was the half of Smith and Barber who didn't want to stop doing the show back in early 2003...)

WICC also signs up Jim Buchanan as a fill-in host; Buchanan will also do some fill-in duty at sister station WEBE (107.9 Westport).

Where are they now? Former WEZN (99.9 Bridgeport) PD Steve Marcus is back in action down in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, where he's just signed on with Saga as operations manager of WISE (1310 Asheville) and WOXL (96.5 Biltmore Forest NC).

A new owner for WAPJ (89.9 Torrington): the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts applies to transfer the station to the I.B. and Zena H. Temkin Foundation.

*One of the most important PD jobs in MASSACHUSETTS has been filled: Dave Wellington heads east from Las Vegas' KXTE (107.5 Pahrump NV) to take over from Oedipus at WBCN (104.1 Boston).

Living Proof, Inc. has finally learned how to spell Massachusetts place names: it's corrected its application for a translator in "Sandwitch," which must be somewhere on Caip Cod, we suppose. (The revised application also proposes a new transmitter site somewhat to the south, in Bourne.)

Emerson College's WERS (88.9 Boston) is getting a New Bedford translator: it's been granted W243BG (96.5 New Bedford).

The FCC's once again considering a proposal to allocate 97.7A to Nantucket.

And we've just heard about the death of Gene LaVerne, who began his broadcast career way back when as a country-music singer on WHEB (750 Portsmouth NH), then went on to historic calls like WFEA, WLAW amd WMEX before landing at WFGL (960) and WFMP (104.5) in Fitchburg, where he was a DJ until WFMP became WXLO in 1979. LaVerne (born Jean LaVergne) died July 6 in Concord; he was 80.

*One translator grant in NEW HAMPSHIRE: EMF Broadcasting gets W270AV (101.9 Manchester), which will rebroadcast WLMW (90.7) in, uh, Manchester.

*In MAINE, WEBB (98.5 Waterville) has pulled morning co-host Pat LaMarche (aka "Genny Judge") off the air while she runs as the Green Party's candidate for vice president; she's already been assured that her job will be waiting for her come November.

Two new translators in the Pine Tree State: David M. Stout gets W221BO (92.1 Ellsworth) to relay WRMO (93.7 Milbridge), which seems like a good idea until you realize that WRMO's not actually on the air. And Radio Assist Ministry gets W300BC (107.9 Sanford) to relay WMSJ (89.3 Freeport).

*It didn't take long for one of the newest stations in CANADA to get on the air - CHMY (96.1 Renfrew ON) was authorized in April, and MilkmanUnLimited is already reporting that the station's testing its signal. Also testing, according to NERW's ears in Toronto, is new ethnic signal CJSA (101.3 Toronto), the new voice of Canadian Multicultural Radio.

Over in Brantford and Kitchener, several applicants want the 106.7 frequency just vacated by CHCD (now at 98.9 in Simcoe). Telephone City Radio (licensee of CKPC AM-FM in Brantford) wants 3750 watts there; Bel-Roc Broadcasting wants 13.3 kW in Haldimand County (Simcoe); and CJTW (94.3 Kitchener) wants to move to 106.7 and boost power from 50 watts to 1585 watts.

In Kingston, CFFX (960) wants to add a 50-watt FM relay to serve downtown at 93.7; the station claims an FM relay is the best solution to AM signal problems it says it's having there.

Up in Ottawa, CHEZ (106.1) PD Jeff Brown replaces Robert W. Knight in afternoon drive, reports Milkman.

In Quebec, the CBC applies for DTV signals (CBFT-DT 19 and CBMT-DT 20) in Montreal, while Radio Communautaire Missisquoi modifies its application for a new signal in Lac-Brome to specify 99.1 with 496 watts. On the AM dial, CKAC (730 Montreal) is asking the CRTC to allow it to modify its format to focus on health and sports talk - as well as to reduce local programming at sister stations CHRC (800 Quebec), CHLN (550 Trois-Rivieres) and CHLT (630 Sherbrooke) to just 20 hours a week.

And somewhere along the way this week, we remembered why it's a bad idea to take a week off from NERW...

*Finally, we know it's now July - but perhaps a bargain price will convince you that you still need a 2004 calendar. After all, the 2004 Tower Site Calendar is more than just a bunch of boxes with dates in them - it's also a collection of some of the niftiest broadcast transmission facilities in North America.

Still on the way for later this year are WMT Cedar Rapids IA, WPTF Raleigh NC, WAJR Morgantown WV, the mighty 12-tower night site of 1190 in Dallas (KFXR, at least this week), Lookout Mountain in Denver (shown at left), CKLW in Windsor and WBT in Charlotte, not to mention lots of fun anniversary dates for stations large (Channel 9 in New York) and small (WFAR Farrell PA).

And as we get ready to put the 2005 edition of the calendar into production, we're offering a special deal to clear out our stock of 2004 calendars. For just $8 postpaid (New York orders add 66 cents sales tax for a total of $8.66), you can still own a 2004 Tower Site Calendar.

Maybe you need an extra for the office, or you've marked up your copy and you'd like a pristine one to stash away, or perhaps you've been meaning to get one as a gift for that special someone. Or perhaps you're just cheap (hey, this is radio, after all!) Doesn't matter; the point is, this is your best chance to get a 2004 Tower Site Calendar at a bargain price.

Order this week, and we'll even throw in a third calendar, free, if you order two. (That's $16 postpaid, $17.32 in New York State!)

We'll also throw in an extra calendar, free, for anyone who subscribes to NERW at the $60 level. Remember, your support is what keeps NERW coming to you week after week.

Now what more could you want? (A live jock at 3 AM, maybe?)

Order the 2004 Tower Site Calendar at our special clearance price of $8! (US and Canada only - e-mail us for overseas ordering information.)
...or subscribe to NERW at the $60 level and get a FREE 2004 Tower Site Calendar

Don't want to order by credit card? You know the drill by now - make those checks payable to "Scott Fybush," be sure to include sales tax ($0.66 per calendar) for New York state calendar orders only, and send them along to 92 Bonnie Brae Avenue, Rochester NY 14618. (Sorry - we can't take orders by phone.)

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