March 7, 2005
NERW's big 2004 Year in Review - now
available! Click here!
Shakeup in State College
*The radio dial in central PENNSYLVANIA
has been a confusing one these last few months, and for listeners
in and around State College, it just got a little more turbulent.
The home of Penn State is also the place where Dame Broadcasting
just sold its cluster of stations to "2510 Licenses, LLC,"
a company controlled by Burbach Broadcasting's Nick Galli. And
no sooner did 2510 close on the cluster (news-talk simulcast
WBLF 970 Bellefonte/WRSC 1390 State College, classic rock "Bus"
WBUS 93.7 Boalsburg, rock "Quick Rock" WQWK 97.1 University
Park and rhythmic top 40 "Hot" WJHT 107.9 Port Matilda)
than it entered an LMA with the market's other big cluster owner,
Forever Broadcasting, to operate several of the stations.
Forever will manage WRSC, WBUS and the 97.1 signal, which
swaps calls and formats with Forever's oldies WOWY (98.7 Pleasant
Gap), putting oldies on 97.1 and rock on 98.7. (The new WQWK
on 98.7 arrives without some of its airstaff; the "Morning
Wood" show that had been a fixture on 97.1 is history.)
WJHT's calls and format move down the dial to Forever's WBHV
(103.1 State College), which drops the "Beaver" moniker
it's had for the last few years, along with the mix of hot AC
and top 40 that it had been programming. 107.9 has requested
new calls WCNU, and will reportedly be spun off, apparently becoming
a religious outlet.
Forever also owns WMAJ (1450 State College) and WLTS (94.5
State College) in the market, and that makes a lot of signals
under common control. Will the FCC - which has been looking at
LMAs more closely of late - let this arrangement stand?
There are changes rumored to be on the way down the road in
Johnstown and Altoona as well. In Johnstown, 2510 closed last
week on its purchase of southern gospel WYSN (1330 Somerset),
rock WQKK (92.1 Johnstown), top 40 WGLU (99.1 Ebensburg) and
oldies WCCL (101.7 Central City) from Dame, and that's another
market where Forever has a huge footprint. Are some LMAs in the
works here as well? Stay tuned...
In Scranton, station owner Doug Lane (WWDL 104.9/WICK 1400-WYCK
1340) has won a brief reprieve after a judge declared a mistrial
in Lane's child-molestation case. (At issue was testimony from
several witnesses whose allegations fell under the statute of
limitations, which the judge ruled might taint the jury.) Lane's
hardly home free; the district attorney plans to retry him later
Down the road, Citadel flips the calls of WOGY (1300 West
Hazleton) to WKZN. Are changes in the works at Citadel's WKZN-FM
(105.3 Kenner LA) down in New Orleans?
in Philadelphia, fans (not to mention former staffers) of modern
rock WPLY (100.3 Media) aren't ready to let Y100 die, even though
the frequency's now playing R&B as "100.3 the Beat,"
WPHI. A rally Saturday on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum
drew hundreds of fans to protest the format change, and the protest
site at y100rocks.com
has been very active, with something like 50,000 signatures at
last count. And with the new callsigns in place on the Radio
One stations (WPHI-FM on 100.3, WPPZ replacing WPHI-FM on 103.9
Jenkintown), the WPLY calls are already spoken for - they've
been reserved by Nassau Broadcasting, though it's not yet clear
which of Nassau's stations will get the calls.
And speaking of Nassau, it appears to have won a strange little
skirmish down along the Pennsylvania/Maryland border, where it
flipped WARX (106.9 Hagerstown MD) from oldies to classic hits
(as "106.9 the Eagle") last weekend, just a day before
VerStandig flipped its WWMD (101.5 Waynesboro PA) to classic
hits as, yup, "the Eagle" - complete with new calls
WEEG. (WWMD's former "Magic 101.5" top 40 format migrated
down the dial to replace hot AC "Star 92.1" at WSRT
Mercersburg, which became "the Point" under new calls
It didn't take long for the "Eagle" references to
disappear from WEEG, and it's now just "The New 101.5,"
we're told. (Wonder how long those calls will remain in place?)
*Two call changes in NEW JERSEY: down
in Avalon, WWZK (94.3) takes new calls WILW, while WCNJ (89.3
Hazlet) completes its call change to WDDM, "Dhoom FM."
*It was a quiet week in NEW YORK City
- well, except at WQHT (97.1), where gunfire erupted in the station's
Hudson Street lobby while rapper 50 Cent was being interviewed
upstairs. One man was injured in the shooting, for which no arrests
had been made as we go to press.
Over at WWRL (1600 New York), controversial commentator-for-hire
Armstrong Williams will join afternoon host Sam Greenfield beginning
next week, converting the 3-6 PM show to a point-counterport
sort of format.
Upstate, the Spanish Tropical "El Ritmo" format
that had been on the Hudson Valley's WEOK (1390 Poughkeepsie)
and WALL (1340 Middletown) for the last two and a half years
came to an end Friday, replaced by Radio Disney on both frequencies.
In Syracuse, the "Gomez and Dave" morning show is
reuniting on Galaxy's WTKW (99.5 Bridgeport)/WTKV (105.5 Oswego)
after several years' absence. Dave Coombs left "TK99"
a year ago and headed to Salt Lake City, where he was working
at sports talker KFNZ (1320), but he returned last week to join
Glenn "Gomez" Adams in morning drive. Coombs' return
displaces Pete Michaels, who joined TK after leaving WYYY (94.5);
Michaels' wife and former on-air partner, Brenda Bissett, stays
with Galaxy Communications sister station WZUN (102.1 Phoenix).
Meantime, former WAQX (95.7 Manlius) midday guy/APD Ryno has
resurfaced down in Florida, where he's handling afternoons and
APD duties at WJBX (99.3 Fort Myers Beach).
Here in Rochester, former WGMC (90.1 Greece) station manager
Jason Crane returns to the airwaves in a couple of weeks as the
host of a weekend talk show on WROC (950 Rochester). Crane, who's
active in the local Green Party, will be heard Saturdays from
noon-3 beginning March 19, with a program designed to complement
the station's lineup of syndicated progressive talk.
In Buffalo, speculation is already building over the future
of Infinity's cluster of stations there in the wake of the company's
conference call last week, in which corporate officials identified
the Queen City as one of the markets where Infinity plans to
spin off its radio operations. The company owns five stations
in town - country monster WYRK (106.5), urban WBLK (93.7 Depew),
AC WJYE (96.1), struggling talker WBUF (92.9) and standards WECK
(1230 Cheektowaga) - which would be too much for any of the other
broadcasters in town to take on as a whole, but might present
some interesting opportunities for companies that aren't yet
in the market at all. (And we'd note that Buffalo is the second-largest
market, behind Kansas City, with no Clear Channel presence.)
On the TV front, Empire Sports Network finally faded out of
existence Sunday night, as the last of its "Special Programming"
(loops of repeats from years past) came to an end and the network
was pulled from DirecTV, the last operator still carrying it.
(Even parent company Adelphia had turned off the Empire signal
on its systems earlier in the week.) It's a sad end to what was
once a proud regional sports network, finally done in by the
dual blows of Adelphia's bankruptcy and the lack of an NHL season,
which removed its major franchise, the Buffalo Sabres, from the
spinning wheel of formats has spun again in southeastern CONNECTICUT,
where Citadel's WXLM (102.3 Stonington) dropped its "Mix"
hot AC format after exactly two years and spent the weekend stunting.
Morning man "Yo Sunny Joe" Allen is out - and what's
next for this frequency, which has also been home to short-lived
classic hits (WUXL) and rock (WAXK) formats in the last few years?
In Hartford, Meredith is pulling out of its plans to move
WFSB (Channel 3) from its longtime Constitution Plaza "Broadcast
House" to another site within the city. Meredith now says
it needs more than the 3.2 acres the city offered at "Site
12B," at the corner of Main and Trumbull streets. The company
says it now plans to use the new WFSB digs as its corporate headquarters,
which means the planned $20 million facility wouldn't have been
big enough. WFSB is now looking at sites outside the city, and
it plans to put the Broadcast House site on the market, instead
of its original plan to sell it to the city in exchange for the
12B plot of land.
And Justin Case (not to be confused with Justin Case, or Justin
Case, elsewhere in the region) is headed out of the PD chair
at WWYZ (92.5 Waterbury). He's moving down to Birmingham to take
the programming reins at WZZK-FM (104.7), WNCB (97.3 Gardendale)
and WZZK (1320). (And this Justin Case, in "case" you're
wondering, is the one whose career has included stops at WYRK
in Buffalo, WPKX in Springfield and WDSY in Pittsburgh.)
*Fans of several MASSACHUSETTS radio
stations will soon be able to tune in from a distance. Infinity
announced last week that it will begin streaming within a couple
of weeks on all of its news-talk stations, including KDKA (1020
Pittsburgh), KYW (1060 Philadelphia), WINS (1010 New York) and
WBZ (1030 Boston). The move comes on the heels of WCBS (880 New
York)'s successful venture into streaming over the last few months,
and it marks a sharp change from Infinity's long-held "no
Expect WBZ and the others to begin selling ads on the stream
separate from their broadcast product - and of course, don't
expect to hear sports play-by-play on the stream in the event
the Bruins should begin playing again next year. (At WCBS, which
has the Yankees, the station is now producing a stream-only all-news
product that runs while the Yanks are playing on 880.)
Just as Infinity was announcing its change of heart, Entercom
announced that it, too, will begin streaming in Boston, starting
with sports WEEI (850), and with talker WRKO (680) to follow.
Here again, the stream won't carry the World Champion Boston
Red Sox, thanks to Major League Baseball's rules - but it'll
be a fine way for the Sox Nation diaspora to stay in touch with
the Olde Towne buzz nonetheless.
Speaking of WEEI and WRKO, Bob McCuin is leaving behind his
general sales manager position to take on the same role at New
York's Z100. And Paul Kelley's leaving his local sales manager
post to become GM of WHOB (106.3) up in Nashua, N.H.
Who's behind the $9 million purchase of WAMG (890 Dedham)
and WLLH (1400 Lowell) from Mega? The investment firm of Waller
Sutton is financing the Route 81 Radio group that has operations
stretching from Coatesville, Pennsylvania up to New York's southern
tier, and it appears that Route 81 may end up running the Boston
and Lowell stations, too. We're hearing some intriguing talk
of a return to locally-focused English talk on the Lowell station...stay
Where are they now?: Longtime WBOS (92.9 Brookline) voice
Stella Mars has moved out west, where she's now working as marketing
manager for DMX Inflight.
To the west, Nichols
College has signed on WNRC-LP (97.5 Dudley), and that means a
far better signal for the students there than on their old facility,
14-watter WNRC (95.1 Dudley). But Nichols isn't shutting down
the little class D FM now that it has the more powerful 100-watt
LPFM; instead, it's changed calls to WXRB and handed it off to
chief engineer (and all-around nice guy) Peter George to operate.
Look for 95.1 to be reborn any day now with the same nifty mix
of oldies that Pete's already playing on his streaming version
of WXRB. (The calls, by the way, are an homage both to Pete's
ham call of W1XRB and to the legendary XERB, home of the late
Wolfman Jack. And if you're within range, listen closely to the
sign-on announcement to hear the dulcet tones of your very own
Out on Nantucket, the FCC adds a second FM allocation, a class
A (6 kW) facility on 97.7. Look for this one to go up for auction
eventually...but probably not for another year, at the least.
And after a career that started in his hometown of Haverhill
and included more than 35 years in morning drive in Dallas, Ron
Chapman is retiring. Chapman's been in Texas since 1959, when
he joined the legendary KLIF (1190) as half of the "Charlie
and Harrigan Show"; after detouring into TV for a few years,
he moved to mornings at KVIL-FM (103.7) in 1968, then to oldies
KLUV (98.7) several years ago - and now, come June, he'll take
his much-deserved retirement. (And Ron's not the only former
NERW-lander at KLUV, where evenings are held down by Pittsburgh's
own John Summers.)
*There's another FM allocation being proposed
for VERMONT: former Boston engineer Dana Puopolo has asked
the FCC to allocate 92.5 to Poulteney as a 6 kW class A facility.
Poulteney already has AM outlet WVNR (1340), which simulcasts
just over the state line on WNYV (94.1 Whitehall NY).
for Nassau to make some changes at its "Bob Country"
combo of WSSH (95.3 White River Junction) and WZSH (107.1 Bellows
Falls) - it's asked for new calls of WXLF and WZLF, respectively,
which leads us to think that these two will soon be "Wolf,"
just like WNHW (93.3 Belmont) over in the Concord, NEW
(And we notice that the call change frees up a legacy New
England callsign, too; WSSH had a long run on what's now WKLB
99.5 Lowell MA before the calls moved up north...)
*One bit of news from MAINE: we hear
that WJZP-LP (105.1 Portland) has signed on with smooth jazz,
and we expect to be hearing from listeners who've become accustomed
to tuning in the distant signal of WTOS (105.1 Skowhegan) in
*Up in CANADA, the CTV network seems
to be eager to wipe out any trace of localism at its local stations.
In Toronto, CFTO (Channel 9) dropped its "CFTO News"
branding from its local newscasts last week, changing them over
to "CTV News," just like the national news. So far,
the new branding hasn't spread to Kitchener's CKCO, Ottawa's
CJOH, Montreal's CFCF and the Maritimes' ATV, but we wouldn't
be surprised to see the changes there, too.
On the radio dial, Milkman UnLimited reports that the
new 94.5 in Wingham is testing with its rock format. No word
yet on a callsign for this sister station to country CKNX (920)
and AC CKNX-FM (101.7).
*We're pleased to announce the return
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*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/fybush.com. 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!)
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.)
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2005 by Scott Fybush.