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2004 In Review

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January 31, 2005

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Bad Week for Miss Jones

*It wasn't a good week at what is - or at least used to be - NEW YORK's biggest hip-hop station, Emmis' WQHT (Hot 97.1). It was bad enough, probably, that Clear Channel-owned rival WWPR (Power 105.1) had just launched a new morning show featuring the former top-rated Hot 97 team of Star and Buc Wild. But things took a turn for the worse when Hot's answer to Star and Buc Wild, "Miss Jones," began playing a parody song based on the 80s charity single "We Are The World." Instead of the upbeat message of the original, though, this version poked fun at the victims of the Asian tsunami, resorting to some awfully offensive stereotypes in the process.

And in today's hyper-conscious age, it didn't take long at all before the incident had escalated to cause celebre status, with Miss Jones and her morning crew first being suspended for a few days, then offering to donate a week's salary to charity, then being pulled off the air "indefinitely," which is where things stand at press time (along with several advertisers, most notably McDonald's, pulling their business from Hot until the matter is settled.)

*A few other pieces of news from the city: Don Imus is saying farewell to the basement studio in Astoria, Queens that he's called home ever since joining WFAN (660) back in 1988. He's headed across the Hudson, to a studio custom-built for his show at MSNBC's Secaucus, N.J. facility, in a move that's probably been inevitable since the day MSNBC began televising his show.

Mets fans aren't alone in mourning the death of Bob Brown, whose career at the 970 spot on the dial (formerly WAAT Newark, later WJRZ Hackensack) included hosting the Mets pre- and post-game shows for much of the sixties and early seventies, including the "Miracle Mets" 1969 season. Brown also hosted New York lottery drawings on TV for many years. He died Wednesday (Jan. 26) of lung cancer, at age 79. And we note, too, the passing on Jan. 21 of John Hess, whose commentaries were a fixture on WBAI (99.5 New York.) He was 87.

Moving upstate, it appears we missed the call change on WUCL (93.5 Remsen) by just hours; it officially became WOKR(FM) on January 24, a day after we passed through and heard it still identifying as WUCL.

Here in Rochester, we're pleased to report that a veteran local newsguy, Bob Kirk (formerly news director at WROC-TV) has found a new gig. He's now the news director for the local Entercom cluster, handling morning news duties on WBEE-FM (92.5), WBBF (93.3 Fairport), WBZA (98.9) and, ironically, WROC (950). That, of course, was the job long held by Steve Hausmann, who's now been promoted to co-host of the WBEE morning show, joining Terry Clifford in the spot formerly occupied by the late Bill Coffey.

And we're sorry to report the death of one of upstate New York's best-loved broadcasters. George Abraham was universally known as "Doc," and with his wife Katy he hosted the "Green Thumb" gardening show on WHAM (1180) for more than five decades. "The Green Thumb" was also seen on TV for a quarter-century (at WOKR 13, now WHAM-TV), and the couple wrote a syndicated newspaper column that was read in more than 150 papers at its height. Doc Abraham died Thursday (Jan. 28) of congestive heart failure, just a week before his 90th birthday.

*A strange story from central MASSACHUSETTS this week: it's not every day that much of the staff of a radio station walks out, taking the station's music library with them. It happened at WESO (970 Southbridge), the result of a feud between the station's new general manager, Dick Vaughn, and his predecessor, Joe Grivalski. Grivalski, who's known as "Joe G" on the air, co-hosted WESO's morning show with Derek Moison until last week, when the two abruptly left the station. With no music on hand - Grivalski owned most of the station's CDs and took them with him when he left - WESO was left with dead air for a while Wednesday morning, until the station's Jones satellite classic country was put back on the air, reports the Southbridge Evening News.

The paper quotes station owner Barry Armstrong (who also owns Concord's WBNW 1120) as saying Grivalski had been removed as GM because he failed to make the station profitable. For his part, Grivalski told the News that Vaughn wouldn't talk to him or Moison, calling Vaughn "the most unethical and unprofessional man I've met in my life." And Armstrong, in turn, told the News that Moison and Grivalski "took the coward's way out" by walking out of the station. (It's a change, anyway, from the usual "resigned to pursue other career interests" that we're so accustomed to...)

For the moment, WESO's running the Jones satellite programming in morning drive, with no word on who might replace Grivalski and Moison in the long run.

Some good news, meanwhile, from Boston: WGBH broke ground last week on its new 330,000 square foot headquarters facility at Allston Landing. The complex will include an existing building and a new studio building (with a 200-seat auditorium, among other amenities) alongside the Mass Turnpike, where WGBH will put up a giant video wall to showcase its products to passing drivers. WGBH's current home, which now encompasses two connected buildings and a welter of smaller structures and trailers along Western Avenue, will become part of the new Harvard Business School campus once the new digs are ready in a couple of years.

And speaking of public radio, there's a new set of call letters in southeastern Massachusetts, where UMass Dartmouth has picked the calls WUMD for its 89.3 facility in North Dartmouth. That 89.3 signal (with 9.6 kw vertical at 93 meters) was to have been the new home of what's now student station WSMU (91.1 North Dartmouth), but the university quietly applied more than a year ago to have the 89.3 signal "recharacterized" as a new station, so it will get to operate both 89.3 and 91.1 when the dust settles.

One more college radio tale: Nichols College in Dudley has been granted a CP for a 100-watt LPFM at 97.5. Will this spell the end of WNRC (95.1), Nichols' 15-watt class D outlet?

Mark down a new (and easier-to-remember) URL for one of our favorite New England websites: Mike Fitzpatrick's excellent "NECRAT" site is jam-packed with pictures of radio and TV transmitter sites all over the region, and you can now get there easily via

*Get ready for some FM changes in RHODE ISLAND, where Davidson Media Group has closed on its acquisition of WKKB (100.3 Middletown) and WAKX (102.7 Narragansett Pier) from Citadel. (Nothing's happened as of press time, but the odds are good that WKKB, at least, will be speaking Spanish before long...)

*In Burlington, VERMONT, Margo St. John has departed WOKO (98.9), where she was music director and midday host. "Cowboy" Cal Daniels moves from nights to middays at the Hall Communications country outlet, while Chris Reed takes the night gig and MD duties.

Down south, Nassau has closed on its purchase of WEXP (101.5 Brandon) and WVAY (100.7 Wilmington) from Vox, ending the Vox era in the Green Mountain State.

(Speaking of Vox, a clarification from last week's story about Will Stanley and his purchase of CONNECTICUT's WKZE. We said Stanley "started" the AAA format on WKXE 95.3 in White River Junction, and that's not really true. When Stanley and future Vox principal Jeff Shapiro bought WKXE from Terry Boone, it was already doing AAA - so the credit for starting the format up there really belongs to Boone, and we stand corrected. And while we're mentioning WKZE, we now have a sale price to report - $1.4 million, $400,000 less than seller Scott Johnson paid for the AM/FM combo a few years ago - and a strongly-founded rumor that the 1020 AM side of WKZE will flip to Air America talk under the new ownership.)

*In NEW JERSEY, the spat between WKXW (101.5 Trenton) afternoon co-host Craig Carton and governor Richard Codey turned (almost) physical this week, when the two met in the hallway of the talk station and Codey challenged Carton to a fight. There's a history of tension between the two - Carton's had some pretty strong things to say about women with post-partum depression, an issue the governor's wife has publicly spoken out about suffering from. Codey reportedly told Carton, "if I weren't governor, I'd take you out," after which the governor's staff separated the two men and Carton left the building.

*There are some changes on the way to the radio landscape in Johnstown, PENNSYLVANIA, where Forever is about to move the "Key" AC format from WKYE (95.5 Johnstown) to newly-acquired (from Clear Channel) WMTZ (96.5 Johnstown). The country format that's been on 96.5 will move sometime today to the more potent 95.5 signal, but not under its current "Mountain" moniker. Is yet another "Froggy" on the way to western PA? Don't bet against it. (Ribbit.)

Down the road in Pittsburgh, WYEP (91.3) broke (frozen) ground last week on its new studio facility in Bedford Square, on Pittsburgh's South Side. The new studios, which will replace the second-floor studio on Carson Street that WYEP has called home for the last decade, will include a public performance space, among other amenities. Over on the AM dial, Bob Logue is calling it quits after 17 years on the overnight shift at KDKA (1020). No permanent replacement has been named, but Gary Dickson, Rob Pratte and "Dr. Knowledge" are filling in for now. Meanwhile, Lynn Cullen is taking a month off from her midday show on WPTT (1360 McKeesport). Until her return February 21, WPTT will carry Thom Hartmann's syndicated show Monday-Wednesday, with John McIntire doing a local show Thursdays and Fridays.

And speaking of WPTT, the FCC is letting Renda Broadcasting fix what could have been a whopper of a mistake in its filing for a major change during last year's window. It seems that there was some miscommunication between Renda and the Evangel Heights Assembly of God, which owns WAVL (910 Apollo). Both sides agreed that WAVL would move to 1360 to allow WPTT to relocate to 910 as a daytimer licensed to Mount Lebanon - but then each side followed a different plan when filling out its application.

Renda thought it would be swapping licenses with Evangel, so it applied to move WPTT's 1360 facility to Apollo, believing Evangel would be applying to move WAVL's 910 facility to Mount Lebanon. But while Renda was following its lawyers' plan, the technical consultants came up with another plan - and they didn't tell the lawyers, or so it would seem. So Evangel applied to move WAVL from 910 to 1360, also remaining at Apollo, and the result (as we noted in NERW when the applications were first filed) was two applications for Apollo and none for the desired Mount Lebanon city of license.

In a December letter, the FCC agreed to allow Renda to modify its application to specify Mount Lebanon as the new WPTT city of license on 910, while advising the broadcaster to "exercise more caution with its filings in the future."

So WPTT now holds a pending application to become a 7 kW daytimer on 910 from a new six-tower array deep in the South Hills (just over the Washington County line, in fact), while WAVL now applies to move to 1360 as a 2 kW daytimer from the existing 910 array up to the northeast of Pittsburgh.

Over on the eastern end of the state, WZZO (95.1 Allentown) PD Rick Strauss is getting a big promotion. He moves to New York as Clear Channel's director of content for online music and radio - and 'ZZO's now looking for a new PD. Across town at WCTO (96.1 Easton), Shelly Easton adds OM duties (for both WCTO and sister station WLEV 100.7) to her PD responsibilities; Jerry Padden (formerly of WKRZ in Wilkes-Barre) picks up APD/MD duties at WCTO from Sam Malone, who remains on 'CTO's morning shift.

*There's a format change to report in CANADA's Niagara Peninsula, where CHOW (91.7 Welland) dropped the country format it's had for decades (going back to its old AM 1470 days) over the weekend, ditching "Spirit 91.7" in favor of "Giant 91.7," playing a hot AC/classic hits mix that's said to be reminiscent of the "Jack" and "Bob" and "Dave" formats being heard elsewhere in Canada. New calls for Giant 91.7 are CIXL, as in "Extra Large."

And just up the road in Hamilton, CHAM (820) ended a weekend of stunting by segueing to classic country on Monday morning.

In Ottawa, there's some shuffling going on with the news staff at CFRA (580), as Rob Snow becomes afternoon host alongside Brigitte Pellerin, with Kris Sims becoming afternoon producer and Jen Traplin moving over to sister station CKKL (Bob 93.9) for afternoon news duties. (And what's this we hear about CHUM registering the "" domain for CFRA, with that station going all-news and talk replacing sports on CFGO 1200? Seems that domain's been registered for something like six years now, we're told!)

In Montreal, Pete Marier returns from Winnipeg (where he was on "Bob" CFWM 99.9) to do middays at CHOM (97.7), and up in Shawinigan, CFUT is granted a move from 91.9 to 91.1, still as an unprotected low-power assignment.

NERW Classifieds

*We're pleased to announce the return of the NERW Classifieds after a long absence. If you're looking to reach thousands of broadcast professionals in the Northeastern U.S., eastern Canada and beyond (more than 70,000 hits every Monday alone!), there's no more economical way to do it. Rates start at just $5/week for a 50-word ad, and the fifth week is always free when you pay for four. Click here to learn more...and read on for this week's ads:

  • 19yr broadcast veteran with exceptionally smooth pipes, looking to voice your next project! Unique, conversational delivery. Commercials, radio/tv imaging, narration, on-hold messages, spokesperson. Home studio. Delivery via MP3, CD. 24 hour turnaround in most cases. Dry or produced. Gary Begin Voice Talent (731) 424-5025. 2/21 

*We're busy shipping out the Tower Site Calendar 2005 to radio fans from coast to coast and far beyond (would you believe New Zealand?)

Didn't find one under the tree this year? That's OK - we've still got plenty, and we're shipping them out daily.

This year's calendar begins with WSTW/WDEL in Wilmington, Delaware on the cover, ends with Sutro Tower in San Francisco on the inside back cover - and along the way makes stops at WNBF in Binghamton, CFNB in Fredericton, Poor Mountain in Roanoke, KXNT in Las Vegas, WBBR in New York, Gibraltar Peak above Santa Barbara, WDEV in Waterbury, Vermont, WRIB in Providence, WOOD in Grand Rapids, KFJZ in Fort Worth, KYPA in Los Angeles and the top of Chicago's Hancock Tower.

(You can see some previews of this year's calendar images at Tower Site of the Week - where the archive listing's newly updated!)

We're holding the price from last year, notwithstanding increases in printing costs and PayPal fees - just $16 postpaid ($17.32 including sales tax to New York addresses). And as always, it's free with your $60 or higher subscription to NorthEast Radio Watch/ You can use PayPal, below, or send your check or money order, payable to Scott Fybush, to 92 Bonnie Brae Avenue, Rochester NY 14618. (Please note that the prices below are valid for U.S. and Canadian orders only; please e-mail for information about overseas shipping.)

And here's an even better deal - We still have plenty of 2004 calendars left, so how about this? For just $20 postpaid ($21.65 in New York), we'll send you both the 2005 and 2004 editions. It's almost like getting an extra calendar free! (Or, if you just need the 2004 edition, that's still on clearance at $8 - and if you buy two 2004 calendars, your third is free!)

Order the 2005 Tower Site Calendar for $16...
Order the 2005 and 2004 Tower Site Calendars together for just $20...
...or subscribe to NERW at the $60 level and get a FREE 2005 Tower Site Calendar
...and you can still order the 2004 Tower Site Calendar at our special clearance price of $8! (US and Canada only - e-mail us for overseas ordering information.)

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 (8.25%) 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 2005 by Scott Fybush.