WBZ's LaPierre to Retire
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
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
(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?
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there. Recently, the leading aircheck archive site - Uncle Ricky's
reelradio.com - 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 LARadio.com
and SDRadio.net, too.
Here at fybush.com/North East
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*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
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.
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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
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).
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.
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 LARadio.com
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
- 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
- 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
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- 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
*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
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
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
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
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2006 by Scott Fybush.