can have your ad here! Click here for complete information
on the most economical way to reach tens of thousands of Northeast
radio and TV people each week.
- HELP WANTED: Western NY- We need a selling station
manager who can grow with our small group of stations. Send resume
Before we move on with
the week's news...
...and there's a lot of it, too - we'll
ask, again, for your subscription support as we head towards
NorthEast Radio Watch is part of an
ever-shrinking breed of radio industry websites open to anyone
without a password or a mandatory payment. (Just in the last
few days, in fact, one of our colleagues out on the West Coast
switched from open access to a mandatory subscription fee.)
Here at NERW, we still believe that
it's not an especially efficient use of our time to be issuing
passwords and renewal reminders. We'd rather be out there taking
pictures of towers and twirling the dials to bring you actual
news about radio and television across the northeast U.S. and
eastern Canada, just as we've been doing, week in and week out,
for over 11 years now.
There's a catch, though, and here it
is - even if there's no mandatory subscription fee, that doesn't
mean that NERW comes to you each week free of charge. We ask
you each year to do your part by making a voluntary contribution
to help keep NERW coming. So far, the system has worked. Many
of you support NERW each year, and for that, we're grateful.
But there are still many more of you
who don't, and at some point, we're going to have some tough
decisions to make about how to keep the bills paid and the NERW-mobile
gassed up. The time will have to come, at some point, to put
our fresh weekly content behind a password and a fee.
We don't want to do that, and with your
help, we can hold off that time for another year. Sign
up right now with PayPal and get your free 2006 Tower Site Calendar
- or visit our Support
page for more information...and thanks!
(You can help NERW in other ways, too - placing a classified
ad or a display ad, for instance, which not only reaches thousands
of influential radio and TV people in the region but also helps
support our work. Contact us for more information!)
Suggested NERW Membership
Industry Professional ($60)
A FREE COPY OF THE 2006 TOWER SITE CALENDAR - A $16 VALUE!
WCRB, Charles River For Sale
*While it may strike terror into the souls
of classical music aficionados across Eastern New England, the
news that Charles River Broadcasting has put its station group
up for sale is anything but a Halloween prank.
On Thursday, the company's board of directors agreed to hire
Media Services Group to explore the sale of some or all of its
five stations - classical outlets WCRB (102.5 Waltham), WFCC
(107.5 Chatham) and WCRI (95.9 Block Island RI), as well as rocker
WKPE (104.7 Orleans) and all-news WCNX (1180 Hope Valley RI).
The board also brought in veteran manager Herb McCord (former
head of the Granum group) to manage the stations while CEO Bill
Campbell is on medical leave; McCord was already a member of
the Charles River board.
At least where WCRB is concerned, the move appeared at first
glance to contradict the wishes of Theodore Jones, the station's
founder. At the time of his death in 1991, it was widely reported
that he'd created a trust structure to ensure that WCRB would
remain classical for the next 99 years, leading many in the business
to believe that the station (with one of only a dozen or so truly
full-market Boston FM signals) would never go up for sale.
Charles River, however, sees things differently. Company officials
say it's become impossible to operate as a small group in the
era of consolidation and clusters, and they tell the Boston
Globe that when Jones died, the trust he created stated that
it was his "wish" that WCRB remain classical - but
not a binding order. The board believes it can honor that wish
by mandating that anyone buying WCRB maintain the classical format
on an HD Radio subchannel, but leaving them free to program whatever
they'd like on the main channel.
If that's the case (and we have no reason to believe otherwise),
it could put WCRB - and Boston - in the same boat as so many
other communities where commercial classical radio has either
disappeared completely in the last decade (Philadelphia, Miami,
Detroit) or has been relegated to a lower-power FM or even an
AM signal (Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego, Albuquerque). Based
on the 100000watts.com/M Street database, we now list only 27
commercial classical stations in the U.S., including the three
Charles River owns. That list, in turn, includes a number of
stations owned by nonprofit organizations (KFUO-FM St. Louis,
KING-FM Seattle), by municipalities (WRR-FM Dallas) or by companies
as concerned with the PR value of the station as with profit
(the New York Times Co.'s WQXR-FM New York). Only three commercial
broadcast groups of any substantial size own commercial classical
outlets in large markets: Bonneville, with WGMS in Washington
and KDFC in San Francisco; Entercom, with KXTR(AM) in Kansas
City; and Saga, with WFMR in Milwaukee. (WFMR, which we visited
over the summer, has New England native Steve Murphy at the programming
helm and seems to be doing quite well for itself; WGMS and KDFC
are perennial ratings successes in their markets; KXTR is a shell
of what was once a thriving FM classical outlet, now relegated
to a mostly-automated expanded-band AM - ironically, using WCRB
programming for most of the day.)
So who'd be in line to spend the likely $70-80 million - perhaps
even more - that the WCRB signal would fetch on the open market?
While Infinity and Greater Media are at their market ownership
limits already, two other big groups already in Boston - Clear
Channel and Entercom - still have room under the caps to take
on an additional FM signal. To that list, we'd also add Radio
One and Salem, both of which have footholds in the Boston market
and which have been acquisitive elsewhere.
And we can't leave out Marlin Broadcasting, which has deep
Boston roots (in the person of principal Woody Tanger), deep
classical roots (it owned - then sold - classical FMs in Philadelphia,
Miami and Detroit, and it still owns classical webcaster beethoven.com
and WTMI 1290 in West Hartford, Connecticut), and which wasted
no time at week's end making it known that it's actively attempting
to buy the Charles River stations.
Or - and this is purely speculative, we'd emphasize - could
some sort of nonprofit ownership coalesce to preserve WCRB's
format? The Boston Symphony Orchestra is already a part-owner
of Charles River. (Its counterpart in Seattle is a key player
in the nonprofit that owns KING-FM.) Then there's WGBH, which
continues to have a committment to classical music even as it
tries to balance other programming on its FM outlet. Was the
$4 million that 'GBH just spent on a new Cape Cod FM merely an
appetizer for something much bigger in Boston?
What about the other Charles River outlets? Nassau's just
begun to make inroads on Cape Cod, and it's flush with cash (or
soon will be) from the sale of its Lehigh Valley cluster in Pennsylvania,
so it's not hard to imagine that two more big FMs would make
an appealing investment for the growing company. We're not even
going to try to speculate about the little signals in southern
Rhode Island, where anything could happen, and probably will.
But the big ticket here is clearly 102.5 in Boston. Any time
a big signal like WCRB is in play in a top-10 market, the stakes
are pretty high, and you can be assured we'll be watching this
one closely as it develops.
*WCRB's only one
big headline in eastern MASSACHUSETTS this week,
though. Up in Burlington, things got awfully quiet Thursday at
WWZN (1510 Boston), where Sporting News Radio abruptly pulled
the plug on the local programming it was originating at "1510
At the end, that meant two shows for the struggling station:
"The Diehards" and Eddie Andelman's afternoon show.
The paid programming that was running on the weekends and some
evenings (including high school football) will continue, as will
three WWZN staffers, including Diehards Anthony Pepe and Jon
A few moments of class marked the station's end: former GM
Mike Winn, who's now with "ESPN Boston" WAMG/WLLH,
was allowed to come back to WWZN for the last day there. And
Andelman, whose history on Boston radio goes back 36 years, will
get to do a farewell show Thursday (Nov. 3) from 2-4 PM.
After that, it's anyone's guess - there's pretty credible
word that Sporting News Radio itself is struggling, raising questions
about whether even the network sports feed will continue on what's
now the number-three sports outlet in the market.
There's still another format change to note in the Boston
market: no sooner did Radio One flip WILD (1090 Boston) to a
black gospel format than it announced the impending debut - sometime
in early 2006 - of a national talk network aimed at black listeners.
WILD will be an affiliate of the network, of course, which means
Boston listeners will get to hear the new Al Sharpton show from
1-4 PM, as well as "Two Live Stews" (a fast-growing
sports talk show from Atlanta) from 4 until sunset, a yet-to-be-named
national host from 10 AM-1 PM, and a yet-to-be-named local host
in the mornings. We'd bet the black gospel continues on weekends.
A few more Bay State notes: in Dudley, Nichols College is
selling its little class D FM outlet. The former WNRC (95.1 Dudley),
now WXRB, is now owned by Peter George, the engineer (and good
friend of NERW) who's been programming it for the last year or
so, ever since WNRC moved to a more powerful 100-watt LPFM facility
on 97.5. (Sale price: $1,000!)
A strange chapter in the strange story of WBIX (1060 Natick)
is over, now that owner Brad Bleidt has dropped a court challenge
to the planned sale of the station back to original owner Alex
Langer. Bleidt initially told a federal judge that he was concerned
that the sale (in which Langer would pay $1.5 million, forfeit
claim to about $7.5 million he was owed by Bleidt and assume
$433,000 in debt) wouldn't provide enough to adequately repay
the investors Bleidt bilked - but he then withdrew the objection,
allowing the sale to go through.
And we're sorry to report the death, on Oct. 21, of Jimmy
Miades. The veteran Channel 7 director had been suffering from
ALS ("Lou Gehrig's disease.")
there's Howard Stern, who took away whatever suspense still surrounded
the question of his replacement on Tuesday, when he introduced
David Lee Roth as his successor, starting January 3, 2006, on
most of his East Coast Infinity-owned affiliates.
In Boston, that means Roth will replace Stern on WBCN (104.1),
but WBCN's rock format will continue for the rest of the day.
That's not going to be the case on several other Stern stations
- in particular, NEW YORK, where the end of the Stern
show will also mean the end of "K-Rock" at WXRK (92.3).
Stern has been a part of K-Rock since just a few months after
it signed on in 1985. After he signs off in December 16, the
rock will go as well - at least during the day - to replaced
by the "Free FM" brand of talk that Infinity's launching
in other big markets. So far, the only host confirmed for WXRK
(besides Roth) is comedian/magician Penn Jillette.
The Roth show won't be heard in upstate New York. Instead,
WZNE (94.1 Brighton) will bring "Rover's Morning Glory"
to the Rochester market. Rover is the "nom de chien"
(thanks to our pal Mike at Ohio
Media Watch for that one!) of Shane French, who's been doing
mornings on WXTM in Cleveland. His show will now be based at
"Free FM" Midwest hub WCKG in Chicago, where it will
feed WXTM, WZNE and affiliates in Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit
Then there's WBUF (92.9 Buffalo), which keeps its "Jack"
format after Stern - to the extent that it hasn't announced any
replacement for morning drive at all.
Speaking of Buffalo (and yes, we'll come back to Stern in
a moment), the PD chairs have been spinning like crazy on the
shores of Lake Erie this week. Over on the Canadian side, former
WKSE (98.5) PD Dave Universal moves from consultant to full-fledged
PD at CKEY (101.1 Fort Erie) - and we've got to admire the message-board
poster who had the cojones to ask whether that means Universal
(who was in the crosshairs of Eliot Spitzer's payola investigation)
will now be asking the record labels for Leafs tickets...
On the U.S. side, Sue O'Neil reclaims the PD chair at WKSE,
where she's now operations manager as well. O'Neil will keep
the OM post at sister stations WTSS (102.5 Buffalo) and WWWS
(1400 Buffalo), but a new PD for those stations is expected to
be named soon.
An obituary from New York (by way of Seattle): Rick Johnson
was known on the air as "Bwana Johnny," and while he
spent most of his career on the west coast, he made one heck
of an impact during his brief run in 1971 at top 40 WWDJ (970
Hackensack NJ), which was an amazing David to WABC's Goliath
for a little while. Bwana Johnny had been in poor health lately,
and he died Friday (Oct. 28) in Seattle, at age 56.
to Stern, then - and perhaps the biggest news, at least in our
region, comes from eastern PENNSYLVANIA, where the end
of the Stern show Tuesday was followed with the launch of "94.1
Free FM" on WYSP (94.1 Philadelphia).
The new format had clearly been in the works for a while,
since it launched with a relatively comprehensive schedule. The
most notable addition is market veteran Paul Barsky, who resurfaces
as the 10 AM-3 PM host (with former sidekick Vinnie the Crumb
alongside him again.) Kidd Chris, already on WYSP, remains in
afternoon drive. After 7 at night, the station will still be
a rocker, with Couzin Ed moving to 7-10 PM and Matt and Huggy
WYSP also brings a familiar Infinity face back to the market:
Tom Bigby, who moved from WIP to KRLD in Dallas last year, returns
as OM of "94.1 Free FM." Gil Edwards moves up from
APD to PD.
The rock will live on - albeit jockless - at WYSP.com; we'd
sort of expect it to show up as an HD Radio multicast eventually,
At the other end of the state, we've heard that Infinity was
all set to flip WRKZ (93.7 Pittsburgh) to "Jack" -
after all, the station was created out of the ashes of the old
B94 specifically to carry Stern last year - but instead, it's
sticking with "K-Rock" on the frequency, at least for
now. David Lee Roth will be the morning man there, as well as
(Jack did come to the area, after all - but over in Wheeling/Steubenville,
where top 40 WOMP-FM 100.5 is now WYJK.)
And we're still not done with the Stern news, but we can't
leave the Keystone State without a couple of obituaries, alas.
"Bumper" Morgan - real name Frederick Merrin - began
his broadcast career in Binghamton at the old WKOP-FM, then spent
almost a decade in New York radio at WXLO and WNBC. He came to
Pittsburgh in 1984 to work for WWSW, and later worked at WHTX/WVTY,
WSHH and WJJJ before ending up as station manager of WWNL (1080),
the position he held when he died Wednesday (Oct. 26) of a heart
Morgan was 57 - and we should hasten to point out that he's
not the Bumper Morgan who's now at Cape Cod's WXTK/WCOD, and
who also passed through Pittsburgh in the early 80s, though both
Bumpers were active in the voiceover/imaging business.
And in Philadelphia, they're mourning "E.C. LaRock."
The WDAS-FM (105.3) jock, whose real name was Erich Coston, died
last Sunday (Oct. 23) of diabetes; he was just 47.
*What becomes of the Stern affiliates who
aren't part of Infinity? We don't know yet who'll be doing mornings
at Albany's "Edge" (WQBK/WQBJ), or at Portland's "Bone"
(WHXR/WHXQ), or at Burlington's WIZN. But we can tell you that
in NEW JERSEY, WJSE (102.7 Petersburg) will replace Stern
with its present afternoon team, "Scotty and Alex,"
with Shawn moving from nights to afternoons.
*In CONNECTICUT, Marlin's WCCC (106.9
Hartford) apparently isn't impressed with the Roth offering.
They're bringing some fellow named "Lance Christian"
to the airwaves - and if that name sounds unfamiliar, perhaps
you might recognize his alter ego, "Sebastian," as
a fixture at WCCC and other Hartford stations in the 30 years
since "Lance Christian" was last heard on WPOP. (And
that's it for our Stern coverage this week - we promise!)
*In RHODE ISLAND, fans of AHL hockey
will have some dial-spinning to do to find the Providence Bruins
this year. Instead of the decent-sized signal of WDDZ (550 Pawtucket),
this year's P-Bruins have WARL (1320 Attleboro MA) as their flagship,
with additional coverage on WNRI (1380 Woonsocket), WQRI (88.3
Bristol), WBLQ (88.1 Westerly) and Saturday games on WAKX (102.7
Narragansett Pier) - not one of which can be heard inside Dunkin
Donuts Arena, we're pretty sure.
(We'll have more AHL information - plus a complete NBA rundown
for NERW-land - in next week's issue.)
Another Ocean State note: Kristin Lessard moves from nights
at Boston's WROR to mornings at WWBB (101.5 Providence), where
she takes the co-host slot previously occupied by Keri Rodrigues.
*The big news from CANADA this week
is the retirement of a broadcasting icon. Allan Waters didn't
put CHUM (1050 Toronto) on the air, but he did build it from
a tiny 1000-watt station into Canada's first top-40 giant. Waters
went on to turn CHUM Limited into one of the country's largest
radio and TV groups. Last week, he stepped down as a member of
the board at CHUM Limited, which promptly named him an honorary
In Toronto, CHFI (98.1) made official what had long been rumored,
here and elsewhere - Mike Cooper joins his former CJEZ (97.3)
colleague Erin Davis in mornings.
In Kitchener/Waterloo, CJDV (Dave 107.5) has named Scot Turner
In Ottawa, Jack McGaw and his partners apply to use 104.7
(with 18 watts/115 meters) for the tourism information station
they were granted in June.
And in Montreal, CanWest Global was dealt a blow in its attempt
to turn CJNT (Channel 62) into more of a clone of its "CH"
independent stations in Ontario and British Columbia, as the
CRTC denied CanWest's applications to reduce the amount of ethnic
programming CJNT is required to carry in prime time. (The CRTC
did grant CJNT a reduction in the number of distinct ethnic groups
it must serve.)
Site Calendar 2006 is just back from the printer, and we've
got to say, we're especially proud of the way this one turned
Once again, we bring you more than a dozen images from the
fybush.com collection that have never seen print before, including
that nifty nighttime view of New York's WMCA that graces the
cover. You also get to see WSB, KTAR, Mount Wilson, CBV and many,
many more, plus all those fun dates in radio and TV history,
civil and religious holidays, a handy full-page 2007 calendar,
and the always-popular hole for hanging.
And we do it all with no increase in price, for the fourth
The calendars are shipping now, so there's no need to wait
until the holidays to enjoy all that tall steel and all that
broadcast history. Order now and beat the rush!
You can get one free with your 2006 subscription
to NERW at the $60 level, or order the calendar (plus other goodies)
at our brand new fybush.com
Store! We think you'll like this one - and as always,
we thank you 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
2005 by Scott Fybush.