Recent Issues:

April 3, 2006

March 27, 2006

March 20, 2006

March 13, 2006

2005 In Review

9/11 Plus One: The World Trade Center Broadcasters Recover

Your message here - contact to reach thousands of NERW readers every week!

April 10, 2006

WBZ's LaPierre to Retire

*A lot has changed in MASSACHUSETTS radio since 1964. By our count, there are just two stations on the Boston AM dial still using the same calls and frequency they used back then. One is WILD (1090), and the other, of course, is WBZ (1030). It was way back in 1964 that a young reporter from Shelburne Falls named Gary LaPierre joined the station's news staff. Just two years later, LaPierre became WBZ's morning news anchor, and for forty years, that's where he's been, through changes of ownership (Westinghouse to CBS to Infinity and back to CBS) and format (top 40 to AC/news-talk to all news).

Last week, LaPierre announced that he'll retire at the end of 2006, closing out the 42-year run at WBZ that began with his very first assignment, covering the Beatles' arrival for their first Boston concert. (Back then, LaPierre recalled, he looked so young that station management wouldn't allow his picture to be distributed.)

The station hasn't announced who'll replace LaPierre in 2007; his presumptive successor for many years, anchor/reporter Jay McQuaide, left the station last year to join Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

(And on a personal note, if I may: your editor had the great good fortune to work alongside Gary for several years as his newswriter. Much of what I know about writing for broadcast came directly from Gary, and I'll long be in his debt for the education I received during those years.)

MANDATORY SUBSCRIPTION FEES? They've become a fact of life for many of the most popular radio and TV websites out there. Recently, the leading aircheck archive site - Uncle Ricky's - was forced to implement a subscription fee to help cover the rising costs of keeping that wonderful site on line. Out on the West Coast, subscription fees are a fact of life at and, too.

Here at East RadioWatch, we've managed to hold off from imposing a password and mandatory subscription fee, but we depend on your support - and that of our advertisers - to keep it that way.

If you still haven't subscribed yet for 2006, do it right now at our Support page - and enjoy another exciting year of NERW, guilt- (and password-) free. And if you have become one of our many subscribers, thank you!

*Just south of Boston, WBET (1460 Brockton) is changing hands. Joe Gallagher's Aritaur group (doing business, in this case, as KJI Broadcasting) bought WBET and WCAV-FM from their original owner, the Brockton Enterprise, in 1997, then sold WCAV (now WILD-FM) to Radio One two years later.

Now Gallagher is selling WBET to Business Talk Radio Network for $1 million, with Bob Maccini of Media Services Group handling the transaction. BTRN, which owns WGCH (1490 Greenwich CT), says it has no intentions of changing any of WBET's programming once the deal closes.

Did WCRB's classical format almost end up on Emerson College's WERS (88.9 Boston)? That's what Globe business columnist Steve Bailey says. Bailey reports that Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth, who serves on Emerson's board, brought the college a proposal under which Greater would have LMA'd WERS (at a reported $10 million/year), replacing the current student-programmed blocks of folk, jazz, hip-hop, reggae and rock with the classical music that Greater Media hopes to displace from WCRB's 102.5 signal if and when it reaches a deal to buy the station.

Emerson, however, rejected the offer out of hand. Despite the substantial sum of money involved, the school's officials say the important instructional role that WERS plays in their communications program is too important to give up.

Is Greater Media having trouble putting together a deal for WCRB that will pass muster with Charles River Broadcasting, and with the trust established by the station's late founder, Rev. Theodore Jones, that (reportedly) required classical programming to somehow be preserved until late into the century? We're hearing from within WCRB that staffers remain in limbo - but that they now expect to continue doing classical until at least sometime this fall.

In Worcester, there's a new market manager at Clear Channel's WTAG (580)/WSRS (96.1), as Michael Schaus moves up from sales manager to replace Art Volpe in the corner office. Schaus served as president/GM of WBKK (97.7 Amsterdam NY) before coming to WTAG/WSRS late in 2004.

TOWER SITE AVAILABLE in NE Pennsylvania. Highest elevation in Poconos. Contact

You can have your ad here! Click here for information on the most economical way to reach tens of thousands of Northeast radio and TV people each week.

*RHODE ISLAND's NBC owned-and-operated station is changing hands, as Media General pays GE $600 million for four of its stations, including WJAR (Channel 10) in Providence, along with stations in Raleigh-Durham, Birmingham and Columbus. WJAR will be Media General's first TV property in the region, joining its existing group of small- and medium-market stations clustered in the southeast and midwest. (NBC says it's shedding the stations to focus its resources on expanding the reach of its Telemundo division.)

Down on Block Island, WJZS (99.3) is tweaking its imaging, evolving from "Swing FM" into "the Bridge" and adding the syndicated Bob and Sheri show in morning drive.

*MAINE is getting two new AM signals. Dan Priestley's Waterfront Communications has been granted construction permits in Ellsworth (1240 kHz, 1 kW days, 650 watts night) and Newport (1230 kHz, 1 kW days, 690 watts night).

*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Heath Cole has departed his post as operations manager/PD of Nassau's Upper Valley stations. Cole had been with the stations since 2001.

*A veteran CONNECTICUT broadcaster is retiring. Dick Ferguson came to prominence heading Park City Communications, then joined Katz Broadcasting as its president when it acquired Park City in 1981. In 1986, Ferguson led the management buyout of the Katz stations that created the NewCity group, with prominent holdings that included WPLR and WEZN in Connecticut and WSYR/WYYY in Syracuse. And when Cox Radio bought NewCity in 1997, Ferguson remained with the company, becoming executive vice president there in 2003. Ferguson's retirement will take effect at the end of May.

With typical understatement, Ferguson says "after having worked full time in the radio business since 1967 and for the company that eventually joined Cox Radio since 1973, I'm delighted to be taking some time off to enjoy my wonderful family and work with a number of not for profit organizations."

*It was a quiet week in NEW YORK, at least on the local level, with media attention in New York City focused on every possible angle of the Couric/Vieira/Sawyer/Gibson machinations.

Up here in the hinterlands, Rachel Barnhart begins a new job today at WHAM-TV (Channel 13). The former WROC-TV (Channel 8) reporter/anchor won't be seen on the air at WHAM-TV until her noncompete lawsuit is heard by an arbitrator (which isn't likely to result in a resolution before the one-year noncompete expires of its own accord this fall), but she'll be working as a web producer/Internet reporter until then. Rumor has it she'll be anchoring some web-only newscasts for the station as well.

On the radio side of things, Amanda Valentine comes to Rochester's WPXY-FM (97.9) as the new morning producer for Scott Spezzano, leaving a vacancy at Elmira's "Wink 106" (WNKI 106.1 Corning), where she was morning co-host with Scott Free.

*A venerable NEW JERSEY AM station is silent, possibly for good. Under the FCC's "five-year" rule, when the station that's now WTTM (1680 Lindenwold) received its license in April 2001, the clock began ticking for the return of either that license or that of parent station WHWH (1350 Princeton). And when owner Multicultural Broadcasting moved WTTM down to its current home as a Philadelphia-market station, it was inevitable that it would be the WHWH license that would get surrendered.

It happened a few minutes after midnight last Thursday morning (April 7), when the carrier was abruptly cut in the middle of the top-hour newscast. (Former owner Nassau Broadcasting, which leased WHWH back from Multicultural, was apparently taken by surprise by the license expiration; we hear Nassau officials tried to turn the station back on when they noticed it was silent later that morning, only to be told it no longer has a valid license. And the WHWH website chugs along with no mention that the business-talk station is off the air.)

As for the "possibly for good" part - Multicultural is part of a group of expanded-band licensees petitioning the FCC to reconsider the "five-year rule," allowing stations like WHWH to have their licenses restored and sold to small broadcast owners. For now, WHWH's six-tower site near Pennington, New Jersey is being maintained while the FCC considers the public-interest arguments in the petition.

A bit of history here: WHWH signed on in 1963 as a local voice for the Princeton area, with calls standing for its original owner, Herbert W. Hobler. Along with WTOA-FM in Trenton (now WTHK 97.5), it became the core of the original Nassau group. In recent years, most of its programming was syndicated business talk; still, it's always sad to see a station that launched so many careers go silent.

Up in New Brunswick, another community voice - WCTC (1450) - is welcoming Judith Leblein back to its airwaves. The station's former morning host, Leblein is now heard weekday afternoons from 2-5 with a show called "The World According to Judith."

*In northwestern PENNSYLVANIA, Connoisseur Communications worked with record speed to close on its $17.4 million acquisition of NextMedia's Erie stations, which became official last week.

In Pittsburgh, former WWSW (970/94.5) jock David Wesley Shallenbarger died last Tuesday (April 4). Shallenbarger, who started his career at WARD in Johnstown, then worked at "Double Double" from 1958 until the station's ill-fated flip to talk in the early eighties, was 82.

The ownership change at WKAB (103.5 Berwick) is bringing some staff changes as well. PD Tony Pacelli and GM Jan Banko have left the station (though Banko will continue to consult for new owner Columbia FM), and music director/midday jock Mike Naydock is out for now, but will return when the station resumes live jock shifts from its new studios in Bloomsburg, shared with new sister station WHLM (930).

(And speaking of WHLM, we hear that its old tower - from its previous existence on 930 as WCNR - finally came down last week. Since 930 returned to the air under the WHLM calls, previously used on the now-defunct crosstown 550 signal, it's used a new tower site about a mile away from the old self-supporting tower, a landmark along I-80.)

Over in Wilkes-Barre, our pal Norm on the Barstool - er, KJ Bryant - has yet another new identity. As he assumes his new duties as PD of WBHT (97.1 Mountain Top)/WBHD (95.7 Olyphant), which already has an "AJ" on staff, Norm/KJ is going back to using his real first name, "Justin."

*CANADA's largest market is getting two more radio stations. The CRTC approved Canadian Hellenic Toronto Radio's application for 1000 watts on 1690 kHz, with a format aimed at Greek, Armenian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Serbian audiences, replacing Canadian Hellenic's existing cable radio service. It also granted Rainbow Radio, a partnership that includes Evanov Broadcasting, a 50-watt signal on 103.9 to be programmed for Toronto's gay and lesbian community. (Interestingly, we've heard that the 103.9 frequency was active last week with programming promoting a gay and lesbian website, though it's not clear whether that was a test for the new license or an unlicensed broadcast.)

In Rimouski, Quebec, Radio CJFP Ltee. was granted 18 kW on 93.3 for a new station that will apparently mix "opinion" and "classic rock," all in French.

*And now that the minor leagues are playing, too, how about some more baseball on the radio? This week, we look at the International League:

Rhode Island's Pawtucket Red Sox keep Citadel's WSKO (790) as their flagship, with additional network coverage on WNBH (1340 New Bedford), WLKW (1450 West Warwick), WSAR (1480 Fall River), WMRC (1490 Milford) and some games on WVEI (1440 Worcester). NESN picks up three games on TV, while Cox Sports Television takes about a dozen more on cable in Rhode Island.

The Syracuse SkyChiefs are on WNSS (1260) this year, and our hometown Rochester Red Wings are on WHTK (1280), except for day games, which are on WYSL (1040 Avon). The Buffalo Bisons are on WECK (1230 Cheektowaga) this season, with a partial schedule on WSPQ (1330 Springville) as well.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons move from their former FM home, now WWRR (104.9 Scranton), to AM sister stations WICK (1400 Scranton)/WYCK (1340 Plains) this year. Some games will also air on WPSN (1590) over in Honesdale.

And the Ottawa Lynx start the season with no broadcast home, just webcasts.

We'll get to the Eastern League next week, and the NY-Penn League when it starts play in June.

From the NERW Archives

(Yup, we've been doing this a long time now, and so we're digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five and ten years ago this week, or thereabouts - the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as "New England Radio Watch," and didn't go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997. Thanks to for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

April 11, 2005 -

  • There was a time when radio stations prided themselves on stability and consistency, celebrating decades of history and heritage call letters. Today, at least in upstate NEW YORK, it seems that the thing to be is "Fickle." In any case, that's the new nickname for the Entercom station formerly known as oldies WBBF-FM (93.3 Fairport), which flipped Thursday morning (Apr. 7) to a "random" mix of classic hits and hot AC tunes that sounds awfully similar to all those "Jack" stations and their clones from coast to coast, albeit developed locally by operations manager Dave Symonds and GM Mike Doyle. WBBF's "Ace and Marti" morning show continue, but the station's running automated the rest of the day, at least for the moment. And as of this morning, the heritage WBBF calls (which have been in the market since 1953, most of that time on the sister facility at 950 now known as WROC) have been replaced on 93.3 by "WFKL."
  • Meanwhile at the other end of the Empire State, WXRK (92.3 New York) is still "K-Rock" - but as of last Monday morning, it's traded in the alternative rock it's been playing since 1996 for a broader rock format that includes older artists such as Motley Crue, calling itself "K-Rock. Great Rock. Period." The new (or perhaps "the new old") K-Rock ran jockless all last week (with the exception, of course, of Howard Stern in morning drive), but the jocks will be back this week, we hear. The modern rock lives on as a webstream called "Krock2."
  • In NEW JERSEY, WNNJ (1360 Newton) gets a morning man - and what a morning man they're getting! Max "SuperMax" Kinkel, whose career has included stints at CKLW and WCBS-FM, started at the station last week (and, yes, they do stream.) Meanwhile, another great oldies jock is out of work in the Garden State. Don Tandler, "The Record Handler," had been spinning the tunes on Saturday nights at WKXW-FM (101.5 Trenton) for 14 years, but things had been changing at New Jersey 101.5. First the station changed his playlist, eliminating the older oldies and, in the process, Tandler's weekly homages to the old WABC - and now Tandler's out of the station completely.
  • The end of a NEW HAMPSHIRE tradition? WNDS (Channel 50) in Derry has cut its 10 PM newscast back from half an hour to about 8 minutes, and we hear that much of the staff could be cut there. (Is veteran weatherman Al Kaprielian safe?)
  • RHODE ISLAND will continue to have public radio service on WRNI (1290 Providence) and WXNI (1230 Westerly). Boston University's WBUR announced late last week that it's officially dropping any thought of selling the two stations, ending a saga that started last fall and helped to bring about the downfall of longtime WBUR station manager Jane Christo. BU is reportedly talking to Bryant University about helping it manage the Rhode Island stations.
  • We're pleased to report that Jim Taricani is once again a free man. The WJAR (Channel 10) reporter served four months of his six-month house arrest for refusing to disclose the source of tapes that helped uncover a City Hall scandal. A judge reduced the sentence by two months for good behavior - and Taricani will be back on the job at Channel 10 on Wednesday.

April 9, 2001 -

  • The Boston Celtics are near the end of another lackluster season, but as the team watches another year run down amidst memories of the glory days of Auerbach and Bird, it's able to offer fans at least one guaranteed change for next year. When the 2001-2002 preseason starts in October, the Celts will be heard on a new radio home. Instead of WEEI (850), the team will migrate up the dial to Sporting News Radio's WWZN (1510) for the next five seasons, in a deal announced late last week. The deal will give WWZN an opportunity to promote itself to an audience that hasn't been paying much attention to the upstart sports signal, whether in its earlier incarnation as One-on-One's WNRB or its more recent makeover under Sporting News.
  • Next stop, VERMONT, where the big flip at Clear Channel's Burlington cluster happened this morning (April 9). As we reported here last week, the smooth jazz that had been on WXPS (96.7 Willsboro NY) has moved for good to the WLCQ (92.1 Port Henry NY) facility, something of a rimshot from the southern end of Lake Champlain. 96.7 is now doing talk as "the Zone" (and we hear the WXZO calls are on the way), simulcasting with WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY). The 96.7/960 format kicks off with Don Imus in the morning, and the rumor around Burlington is that Clear Channel will eventually move Premiere's Dr. Laura and Rush Limbaugh from their current homes at WVMT and WKDR over to the new talk simulcast.
  • Meanwhile, across town on Soldiers Field Road, the once-friendly relationship between WBZ (1030) and sister station WBZ-TV (Channel 4) turned sour last week when radio talk host David Brudnoy invited WCVB (Channel 5) anchor-icon Natalie Jacobson to be a guest on his 25th anniversary show. The Herald's Monica Collins reported Saturday that the guest stint, which put Channel 4 anchor Joe Shortsleeve in the odd position of having to do a radio cut-in promoting his 11 PM show right in the midst of his competitor's appearance, prompted a memo from 'BZ-TV general manager Ed Goldman that put the brakes on the long cooperation between the radio and TV sides at 1170 Soldiers Field Road. Collins says the memo bans (there's that word again!) WBZ radio personalities from appearing on Channel 4, stops radio news crews from using the TV side's gear, and halts the shared promotions between the two stations.
  • From PENNSYLVANIA comes word that WCHE (1520 West Chester) will soon be able to add a second tower. The station was granted a power boost to 1000 watts day, 500 watts critical hours (with a directional antenna) from its current non-DA 250 watts daytime.

New England Radio Watch, April 13, 1996 -

  • One of Boston's top-rated talk hosts is going network, at least in a limited way. WRKO's Howie Carr will soon be heard in Providence on talker WPRO (630). WPRO is picking up the 3-6pm portion of the show, leaving the 6-7pm hour Boston-only for now. It's not yet clear what happens to WPRO's local talker Bruce Newbury, who's currently occupying afternoon drive on 630.
  • Mega-opoly has arrived on the shores of Cape Cod, just in time for tourist season. Car dealer Ernie Boch is buying adult contemporary WCOD 106.1 (a Hyannis-licensed full B) and simulcast modern-rockers WUNZ 101.1 Falmouth and WUNX 93.5 Harwich (both class A's, which together cover the Cape.) Boch already owns talker WXTK 94.9 (a West Yarmouth-licensed full B), as well as sports WUOK 1240 West Yarmouth. It's not yet known how much Boch paid to acquire the stations from J.J. Taylor, or what changes he might make. WCOD is one of three ACs on the Cape, in competition with WQRC in Barnstable and WCIB in Falmouth, while WUNX/WUNZ have the modern-rock market to themselves. What is clear is that Boston's major dailies did their usual sloppy job reporting this one. The gossip column in one of them identified WCOD as the modern rocker, while the other paper put WCOD on "101.6 FM" and moved WUOK to the FM band as well. (That same major metropolitan daily also gave WOAZ Lowell-Boston an unexpected frequency change from 99.5 to 99.9 last week...)
  • NERW reader Barry O'Brien in Washington reports he attended the Broadcasters' Foundation's "Golden Mike Awards" at the Plaza Hotel in New York City this week. The guest of honor was veteran New England broadcaster Norman Knight (of WTAG/WSRS Worcester and WGIR Manchester NH fame). Speakers included Red Auerbach, Curt Gowdy, and Pat Buchanan. Barry says of all the black-tie affairs he's ever been to, this was the nicest. Thanks for the tip, and a hearty congratulations to Mr. Knight, whose stations have always been class operations in New England.
  • WKSS 95.7 Hartford, known to its fans as CHR "Kiss 95-7," is being sold to Multi-Market Radio for $18 million. Kiss will become part of a Connecticut Valley group that includes modern rock WMRQ 104.1 Waterbury-Hartford, rock WHCN 105.9 Hartford, news-talk WPOP 1410 Hartford, classic rock WPLR 99.1 New Haven, urban AC WYBC 94.3 New Haven (operated under an LMA), country WPKX 97.9 Enfield CT-Springfield MA, modern-rock WHMP-FM 99.3 Northampton MA, and talker WHMP 1400 Northampton MA.

You can sponsor this new weekly feature! Click here for information!

*Didn't find a Tower Site Calendar 2006 under the tree/menorah/Blaw-Knox diamond tower model of your choice over the holidays? Our supply is running low, but we have a few still available at special clearance prices!

We've got to say, we're especially proud of the way this year's calendar turned out. Once again, we bring you more than a dozen images from the 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 year running!

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 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 is copyright 2006 by Scott Fybush.