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May 16, 2005

Preston & Steve Back on Philly Airwaves

*A PENNSYLVANIA morning team returns to the air today after a contentious absence. The "Preston and Steve" show has been off the airwaves since February 24, when Radio One pulled the plug on modern rock "Y100" (WPLY 100.3 Media), sending Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison packing along with the rest of the staff.

Elliot and Morrison had already reached a deal to move to Greater Media's WMMR (93.3 Philadelphia) before the end of Y100, and the station's demise sent the duo to court to try to get out of their six-month noncompete deal with Radio One, a wish that was granted last week.

With Preston & Steve's arrival at WMMR comes the departure of the "Philly Guys" morning show; in a note to listeners on WMMR's website, PD Bill Weston writes, "We recognize the individual talents that made up the Philly Guys. It’s also the right combination of talents that is key to a successful morning show. This ‘chemistry’ and/ or complementary aspect was lacking in the Philly Guys."

Philly Guys cast member Joe Conklin stays with WMMR to produce comedy bits, while Gina Crash and Vinnie the Crumb are out the door.

Meanwhile on the Y100 front, the "Feztival" concert that was a signature of the station for so long was cancelled over the weekend (it was supposed to have taken place Sunday) for lack of ticket sales, despite a strong push from the "" website that has attempted to keep the Y flag flying since the station signed off the airwaves.

And WMWX (95.7 Philadelphia) indeed changed calls to WBEN-FM last Monday.

*Up the road in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market, Mike Krinik is leaving the PD post at Entercom's "Froggy" WGGY (101.3 Scranton) after six years on the job to head west as Capitol/Nashville's West Coast regional director.

Down the road at Citadel, Jules Riley isn't renewing her contract as operations manager of the cluster and PD of country "JR" WSJR (93.7 Dallas).

And there's a call change in Scranton that marks the end of a very long tradition in the market: Entercom flipped WGBI (910 Scranton) to WBZU last week, the first call change for that station in some 80 years. The WBZU calls are being parked as the result of a format change in Madison, Wisconsin (where the former WBZU 105.1 is now "Charlie" WCHY), much as sister station WKZN (1300 West Hazleton) is parking calls last used in New Orleans. For listeners, WBZU and WKZN will still be known as "WILK," simulcasting the "WILK News-Talk Network" from WILK (980 Wilkes-Barre); it's been quite a few years since the WGBI calls made much impact in the market.

Over in the Altoona market, the FCC says Forever of PA, LLC can't transfer the licenses of its four stations to the reorganized entity known as Forever Broadcasting, LLC, because the deal would put Forever Broadcasting over the ownership limits in the market. Forever's principals, Donald Alt and Kerby Confer, argued that the reorganization of ownership wouldn't change the existing balance of the market, since the Forever of PA stations (WFBG 1290, WFGY 98.1, WRKY 104.9 and WLTS 94.5 in State College) are already commonly operated with the Forever Broadcasting stations in the market - WVAM 1430, WWOT 100.1 and WALY 103.9. But the FCC says the reorganization would substantially change the voting rights of Alt, Confer and the two other principals, Carol Logan and Lynn Deppen - and that constitutes a change in control of the stations that's not allowed under current ownership rules.

One ownership change in the market that's not running into any FCC issues: the $80,000 sale of WKMC (1370 Roaring Spring) from Cary Simpson's Allegheny Mountain Network to David Barger's Handsome Brothers Inc. closed a couple of weeks ago. Ray Rosenblum of Pittsburgh brokered the deal, which makes WKMC a sister station to WRTA (1240 Altoona), WBXQ (94.7 Cresson) and WBRX (94.3 Patton).

Chuck Brinkman is still well remembered in Pittsburgh from his days at KQV (1410), and now he's stepping down from his longtime role as PD of Dallas oldies station KLUV (98.7). Brinkman, who says he's tired of 16-hour days, will remain in afternoon drive - but someone else will have to figure out how to replace KLUV's legendary morning man Ron Chapman when he steps down later this year. (And by the way, it's quite the Steel City crew at KLUV - Brinkman is followed in evenings by fellow Pittsburgher John Summers!)

*In NEW YORK, WXRK (92.3 New York) overnight jock Lee "Crazy Cabbie" Mroszak is going to prison for 12 months for tax evasion. "Cabbie" is a frequent guest on the Howard Stern show, and he made a big chunk of money in 2001 in an amateur boxing match with former Stern cast member "Stuttering John" Melendez. That wouldn't have been a problem - except that Mroszak never paid taxes on his winnings, and bragged about it on the Stern show. Mroszak pleaded guilty in December; by the time he's out of prison, Stern will be history on K-Rock, and it'll be interesting to see if there's a K-Rock for Cabbie to return to at all.

Over at troubled sister station WNEW (Mix 102.7), Rick Stacy was sent packing at week's end. Stacy had survived a succession of formats at WNEW going back to the early days of "Blink."

Air America flagship WLIB (1190 New York) is bolstering its staff; in addition to recently-arrived GM Scott Elberg, the station this week added Bob Perry (formerly of Univision Radio) as general sales manager.

On the TV dial - or is that radio? - WNYZ-LP (Channel 6) began testing from its Long Island City transmitter site last week, with its audio carrier (at 87.76 MHz - an eagle-eyed NERW reader points out that the station has a 10 kHz plus offset on its frequency) being widely heard throughout the metro area, so far just with tones. WNYZ-LP will be leasing time to Spanish-language programmers when it begins regular operation.

Some Radio People on the Move in the Albany market: at the Pamal (Albany Broadcasting) cluster, Stacy Rogers moves up from GM to regional VP, with Dan Austin adding GM duties to his national sales manager title. Over at Galaxy's WRCZ (94.5 Ravena), former Utica PD Stew Schantz is settling in to the PD chair, adding some new rock to the station's classic rock rotation. (Among the items in his in-box - dealing with an FCC inquiry into alleged bad language from afternoon host J.R. Gach.)

In Syracuse, WAQX (95.7 Manlius) has hired a new assistant PD/MD/afternoon drive jock, as Don Kelley arrives from Albuquerque (where he was at the former KTZO, now "Ed FM" KDRF) to replace the departed Ryno.

A few new(ish) translators in the Southern Tier: WCDW (100.5 Susquehanna PA) adds a new translator on the west side of Binghamton, W296BS (107.1 Endwell). Over in Corning, WLVY (94.3 Elmira) adds a Corning translator, W229AS (93.7) - and WLVY has a new morning co-host, too, as PD Mike Strobel replaces Mike Jacobs alongside Gary Knight in wakeups.

In Jamestown, the FCC grants the transfer of WKSN (1340), WHUG (101.9) and WQFX (103.1 Russell) from Vox to MediaOne over the objection of one of the stations' competitors, WKZA (106.9 Lakewod). WKZA argued that the deal (which puts the stations in the same hands as WJTN 1240 and WWSE 93.3) creates too much market concentration; the FCC says the deal meets its interim contour-overlap standards, and since Jamestown isn't an Arbitron market, there's no way to analyze the deal that way.

A well-known Buffalo voice has died. Frank Benny was a newsman at WGR (550) from 1965 until 1985, surviving some ordeals that would have ended many careers (including an early-seventies arrest for a bank holdup) to build a long career in the Queen City. Benny, born Frank Biniak in Chicago, also worked at WYRK and WBEN before heading to Florida in 1989. He was working as news director at WENG in Englewood, Florida when he died May 9. Benny was 67.

*In CANADA, there's a new morning show at CKGE (94.9 the Rock) in Oshawa, Ontario, as former CITY-TV/TSN sports guy John Gallagher joins Amy Beer on "John Gallagher and Beer for Breakfast." (Is that Canadian, or what?)

A Niagara Region broadcast pioneer has died. Robert E. Redmond founded CHSC (1220 St. Catharines) in 1967 and CHSC-FM (105.7, now CHRE) a year later. He later put CJEZ (EZ Rock 97.3) in Toronto on the air. Redmond sold his stations to Standard Broadcasting a few years back; he died May 7 at 76.

*In VERMONT, WNCS (104.7 Montpelier) night jock Jamie Canfield adds music director duties.

In Bellows Falls, the St. Charles Educational Association has asked the FCC to cancel its construction permit for an LPFM on 97.5.

*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, there's a bittersweet end to the saga of WSMN (1590 Nashua): the station's longtime studio building on West Hollis Street is reportedly being used for practice by local fire departments, and will eventually be burned to the ground; the site will become a housing development sooner or later.

*In RHODE ISLAND, Cranston mayor Steve Laffey is now suing the state Board of Elections over the ruling that Laffey's (now cancelled) Friday talk show on WPRO (630 Providence) constituted an improper campaign contribution by WPRO's owner, Citadel. Laffey argues that there's no FCC prohibition on sitting officeholders hosting shows if there's not an election underway, and he says his right to free speech is being violated by the ruling. (Steve Kass has expanded his 9-11:45 AM show back to five days a week in the meantime.)

*In MASSACHUSETTS, Entercom's WEEI (850 Boston) has signed the Boston Red Sox for the 2006 season, in a deal expected to be worth between $8-12 million. The rights deal will, as expected, move the Sox affiliation in Providence from WPRO to Entercom's WEEI-FM (103.7 Westerly).

Radio (and TV) People on the Move: Jon Keller has started his new gig as a political commentator at WBZ-TV (Channel 4), returning to WBZ (where he was the producer of the David Brudnoy Show on the radio side) after many successful years on WLVI (Channel 56). Over at Greater Media, Kevin Redding joins WROR (105.7 Framingham) for afternoons; he'd been at WAAF most recently, doing weekends and vacation fill. And in Plymouth, WPLM-FM (99.1) operations/production manager Pat Cronin is leaving the station, effective June 1.

The new schedule on WGBH (89.7 Boston) takes effect May 31, and it creates a bit more duplication with rival public radio outlet WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston), as WGBH adds a third hour of Morning Edition from 8-9 AM weekdays, cutting an hour off its classical music programming. The jazz on "Eric in the Evening" will start an hour later as well, as WGBH adds Christopher Lydon's new "Open Source" talk show.

*Our special clearance pricing continues for fans of the Tower Site Calendar 2005. We're well aware that many of the calendar's fans buy it for the pictures, not the actual calendar pages...but that doesn't change the fact that by this time of the year, we're not exactly shipping 'em out the door at a breakneck pace, and Mrs. NERW would very much like a corner of her living room back.

So while she rediscovers the floor beneath those boxes of calendars and we begin to line up the images for Tower Site Calendar 2006, you get the very first crack at our Calendar Clearance Deal for 2005.

Here's how it works: instead of our list price of $16 for this fabulous, full-color, glossy calendar, you can now pick one up for just $8, postpaid. ($8.66 to New York State addresses.) Better yet, if you order two calendars at this special clearance price, we'll throw in a third for free - $16 for THREE calendars, with nine exciting months of 2005 yet to go. (That's $17.32 in NYS.)

Maybe you've already hung your original 2005 calendar on the wall, and you're thinking it would be nice to have another copy to stick away in pristine condition. Maybe you really want to frame that spectacular September page right now - but you still need a calendar later this year. Maybe you just want to help Mrs. NERW clean out the living room and give happy NERW baby Ariel more space to practice walking.

Whatever your motive, now's your big chance, because while there are still 2005 calendars left, there may not be any in a few weeks. (Remember, the 2002 and 2003 editions were total sellouts, and I've had to turn away several of you who were hoping to add these now-rare calendars to your collections.)

And we've got two more great deals for you, too. We still have a few 2004 calendars left, and while they're getting rare, Mrs. NERW wants them gone - so they're yours, in pristine condition, for just $5 postpaid. (Buy two and the third is free!) Or order the 2004 and 2005 calendars together for just $10, postpaid. (What a deal!)

(New York orders pay $5.41 for the 2004 calendar, $10.83 for the 2004 and 2005 together.)

And as always, the calendar's free with your $60 or higher subscription to NorthEast Radio Watch/ In fact, we've got a great deal for new or renewing $60 subscribers: we'll send you two 2005 calendars if you subscribe now. Or, if you'd prefer, we'll hold a brand-new Tower Site Calendar 2006 for you with your subscription, and you can be among the very first to see the 2006 edition when it's released this summer. Remember, we count on your subscription dollars to keep NERW coming each and every Monday morning!

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.)

Order the 2005 Tower Site Calendar on CLEARANCE for $8...
Order the 2005 and 2004 Tower Site Calendars together for just $10...
...or subscribe to NERW at the $60 level and get two FREE 2005 Tower Site Calendars
...and you can still order the 2004 Tower Site Calendar at our special DEEP clearance price of $5! (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.)

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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.