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August 16, 2004

Remembering Chuck Leonard

*NEW YORK's WABC (770) holds an outsize place in the hearts of a lot of radio people in the northeast - and in large part, that's because of the jocks who dominated its airwaves (and thus the top 40 world) during its Musicradio heyday. This week, one of those All-Americans lost his fight with lung cancer, as Chuck Leonard died on Thursday (August 12).

Leonard's broadcast career began in Baltimore, where he was heard on WEBB (1360) from 1963 until 1965, when he moved to New York's WWRL (1600). Within just a few months, Leonard was heard by WABC's Dan Ingram, who persuaded station management to bring him over to do nights, which he did from 1965 until 1979.

As the Musicradio era came to a close, Leonard moved on to FM, working at WXLO/WRKS and WBLS. In the mid-nineties, he was heard spinning standards on WQEW (1560) and oldies on Jukebox Radio (WJUX 99.7 Monticello/W276AQ Fort Lee NJ), and he'd recently been working at Sirius Satellite Radio, on the Swing Street and Soul Review channels.

Leonard is survived by his wife, Pamela Horrell Leonard, and daughters Diana Leonard and Kyra Johnson. He was 67.

*Meanwhile, back on today's radio scene, WNEW (102.7) lost its operations manager last week, as Infinity moved Smokey Rivers down to Dallas and the PD chair at KVIL (103.7). Rivers came in last year when WNEW was being relaunched as "Mix," with the apparent goal of turning the station into an AC challenger to Clear Channel's WLTW (106.7) - but now Mix has morphed into more of a rhythmic station under the programming leadership of Frankie Blue, which left Rivers' role undefined.

Out on Long Island, K Communications files to sell WGSM (740 Huntington) and W27CB Huntington to Lee Shubert's Atmar Properties. No word yet on what becomes of K's Korean programming - or of WGSM's pending application to move way west across the Hudson to New Jersey.

Heading upstate, WHEC-TV (Channel 10) in Rochester is losing the anchor who's been at the helm of its 6 PM newscast since way back in 1976. Gabe Dalmath has been taking a less prominent role at the station in the last few years, having been moved off the 11 PM show and on to the 5:30 AM broadcast in 2001 (not, as the local rag would have it, 1991) - and all that free time in the middle of the day enabled him to start a second career developing business for a local mortgage broker. Dalmath will move from the 6 PM news to the 5 PM news at the end of next week, and he'll leave the station completely at the end of this year, with Brian Martin replacing him at 6.

Across town, WROC-TV (Channel 8) has a new news director, as Lee Eldridge moves north from WNCT-TV (Channel 9) in Greenville, N.C. to replace the ousted Bob Kirk. Over at WROC (950 Rochester), morning host Allan Harris is rearranging his show beginning today, replacing the 8-9 AM hour of "WROC News Now" with a call-in talk show called "First Talk with Allan Harris."

In Binghamton, WCDW (100.5 Conklin) applies, at last, to change city of license to Susquehanna PA, thus completing the swap that started a few years ago when WKGB (92.5 Susquehanna) upgraded its facilities, moving off the tower east of Binghamton that it shared with WCDW. That move required WKGB to swap cities of license with WCDW, a move that will finally come to pass pretty soon. (WCDW's facilities don't actually move.)

Just over the state line, the new 93.3A allocation at Susquehanna PA is now reserved for noncommercial use, as is 107.5A at Liberty PA.

A few new translator grants: W229AR (93.7 Waverly) to Dan Peltz, to relay WLVY (94.3 Elmira) and W262BE (100.3 Alfred) to Family Life Ministries.

*A central PENNSYLVANIA AM station wants to move up the dial a notch. WIOO (1000 Carlisle) is applying to add two more towers to its array (and relocate its existing single tower), increase day power from 1000 to 5000 watts, add minimal post-sunset power - and move to 1010.

Its application asks the FCC to investigate WCST (1010 Berkeley Springs WV), which WIOO says has been off the air for years, a circumstance that's supposed to be reported to the FCC and that's supposed to result in WCST's license being deleted. (NERW notes that WCST was silent when we were in the vicinity in the summer of 2001...)

It also may face static from Radio One's WOLB (1010 Baltimore), which WIOO accuses of trying to "warehouse" the contours of its now-defunct 1000-watt operation. Stay tuned...

In Pittsburgh, Rush Limbaugh is heading for the FM dial. Clear Channel's pulling the talker (whose show is owned by CC subsidiary Premiere) over to its WPGB (104.7 Pittsburgh) beginning Nov. 15; that'll leave a hole in the KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh) midday schedule that will be filled by Bill O'Reilly (noon-2) and an extra hour of Fred Honsberger (2-3). (And our best wishes to Honz, by the way, as he recovers from gastric bypass surgery. He's been on the air from his home for the last week.)

Two new PDs in the Steel City: Greg Gillispie comes home (after a career that started at WDVE and took him to McVay Media, Burkhart and Federated Media) to program WWSW (94.5) and WBGG (970), while Ryan Mill gets promoted from APD/music director to PD at WRKZ (93.7).

In Philadelphia, independent WGTW (Channel 48), licensed to Burlington, NEW JERSEY, is changing hands. Dorothy Brunson, who put the station back on the air in the late eighties after the former WKBS went dark, is selling WGTW to TBN, which will no doubt begin running its 24-hour religious programming on the powerful signal.

TBN will pay Brunson $7 million and assume up to $41 million in debts on the station.

New translator grants in the Keystone State: W243BR (96.5 York) to Hope Christian Church of Marlton, which will feed it the signal of WVBV (90.5 Medford Lakes NJ) via a translator daisy-chain; W229AQ (93.7 Mansfield) and W245AV (96.9 North East) to Family Life Ministries.

And speaking of North East, WEYZ (1530 North East) is reportedly now simulcasting WMCE (88.5 Erie) from Mercyhurst College; no word yet on whether this is just an LMA to get the oft-silent station back on the air or a sale on the way.

*In RHODE ISLAND, WCNX (1180 Hope Valley) is returning to the air with CNN Headline News audio, as "Newsradio 1180."

*Antonio Gois, who already owns WSPR (1270 Springfield) and WACM (1490 West Springfield), is increasing his MASSACHUSETTS reach with the purchase of WORC (1310 Worcester) from Chowder Broadcast Group. We'd be surprised if the deal doesn't mean an end to WORC's talk programming (and - yes! - its Yankees broadcasts) and the start of full-time Spanish-language programming there. (WORC already leases time for weekend Spanish broadcasts.)

Sorry to report the death on Friday (Aug. 13) of Vinnie Peruzzi, known to listeners of WQSX (93.7 Lawrence) as "Disco Vinnie." Peruzzi's career began in the disco days of WBOS (92.9 Brookline) and included stints at WNTN (1550 Newton), WZOU (94.5 Boston) and WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford). Peruzzi was just 51.

*CANADA's capital was the scene of a huge turnout in support of CHOI (98.1 Quebec City) Tuesday, as the station brought more than 30 buses full of listeners to demonstrate on Parliament Hill against CHOI's impending license revocation.

Meanwhile, back home in Quebec, one of the province's TV pioneers has died. Jean Pouliot helped put CFCM (Channel 4) in Quebec City on the air in the fifties, then founded the TVA network in 1971, left to buy CFCF radio, TV and CF Cable in Montreal - and used those stations to launch the Tele Quatre-Saisons (TQS) network in 1985. (TQS flagship station CFJP in Montreal gets its call letters from Pouliot's initials, as a matter of fact.) Pouliot died August 8; he was 81.

In Ottawa, John Rodenburg moves down the hall from CFGO (Team 1200) to CKKL (Bob 93.9), where he'll be the morning host beginning August 23. Meanwhile over at the Rogers stations, CISS (Kiss 105.3) grabs the entire morning show from Newcap's CIHT (Hot 89.9), beginning at the end of the month.

And in Toronto, Gord Stellick moves from afternoons to mornings at CJCL (Fan 590) to replace Pat Marsden; Chuck Swirsky heads into the afternoon slot there.

*Finally, we know it's now August - 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? Perhaps a 2005 calendar, chock-full of pretty pictures of stations like WBBR, KXNT, WDEL and WDEV? Just hang tight for a few weeks - next year's edition will be available for ordering soon, and we'll be shipping by early September this year!

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.)

Thanks for your support!

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 2004 by Scott Fybush.