September 5, 2006
A "Huge" Stunt in Rochester
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*As a general rule, we here at NERW don't
get too excited about format-flip stunts, especially when they're
on little rimshot FM signals in upstate NEW YORK.
a stunt currently underway on Clear Channel's WNVE (107.3 South
Bristol) has somehow ended up garnering nationwide attention,
at least among the media-geek crowd, and somehow we ended up
getting name-checked along the way - and so we lead off this
week with the oddity that is "Huge 107.3 FM."
It's been a little over two years since Clear Channel executed
a signal swap that moved classic hits "Fox" WFXF, the
only format that had ever really been successful on 107.3, over
to the much bigger 95.1 Honeoye Falls signal. The 2004 swap landed
modern rock "Nerve" WNVE on 107.3, where the format
couldn't even reach most of its former core audience close to
the city of Rochester. Without Howard Stern, who'd been dumped
from the 95.1 incarnation of Nerve in April 2004 as part of a
larger Clear Channel corporate dispute, WNVE didn't have much
going for it, and in recent months it ran almost completely automated,
with just a handful of voicetracks and no live jocks.
So it was no big surprise when, with no fanfare at all, the
plug was pulled on the Nerve last Wednesday night at midnight.
What was a surprise - at least to some extent - was the
stunt format that replaced it - "Huge 107.3 FM," a
stunt with a sponsor, Fucillo Hyundai.
Fucillo has made a name for itself in other upstate markets
with a saturation level of advertising that all but ensures that
anyone watching TV, listening to the radio or seeing any outdoor
ads is exposed (repeatedly) to its "Huge" slogan. Fucillo
says it's struck a "seven-figure" ad deal with Clear
Channel to launch its new dealership, and "Huge 107.3"
appears to be a clever part of that deal.
In practice, it's nothing more than the "spin the wheel
of formats every hour" stunt that we've heard in plenty
of other markets - the choices thus far have included everything
from classic country to disco to "songs by people named
Bob and Tom" - but this time, it's all branded with the
sponsor's name, and it's garnered a surprising amount of media
so many stunts, it's also playing out on the Internet. It didn't
take long for the message boards to discover another site, at
snap1073.com, which at
first appeared to be a template for a new rhythmic AC station
with Whoopi Goldberg's syndicated morning show. After a couple
of days of that, the site changed over to a little poem - and
that's where we got namechecked:
"Fybush cried "Stunt!"/R&R asked "Jazz?"/"Snap!"
cracked the competition/As if to razz"
Shakespeare it ain't...but it's certainly an amusing way to
pass a long holiday weekend, and we'll be listening this week
to see what comes next at 107.3.
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New York City, Friday was moving day for Air America Radio, which
moved from Inner City Broadcasting's WLIB (1190) to Access.1's
relaunched Friday morning with black gospel, while WWRL retained
its Sam Greenfield/Armstrong Williams morning show, followed
by Air America's Jerry Springer, Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and
Sam Seder - but not Mike Malloy, whose late-night Air America
show was abruptly cancelled last week.
Down the dial at WOR (710), Bob Grant has departed - again.
The fiery veteran talk host left his full-time afternoon gig
at WOR in January, but returned to the station with morning-drive
commentary segments in February. Those, too, came to an end last
WCBS (880) has hired a new afternoon anchor. Steve Scott comes
to the all-news station from WLS (890) in Chicago, where he's
spent 13 years, the last ten as news director.
On the FM side of the ledger, WKTU (103.5 Lake Success) has
a new afternoon team, beginning today, as Hollywood Hamilton
returns from Los Angeles (where he was last heard doing mornings
on oldies KRTH) to reunite with his old partner, Goumba Johnny,
in the 2-6 PM slot. Goumba, of course, had last been heard in
mornings on WKTU, the slot now occupied by Whoopi Goldberg.
In Binghamton, WSKG is looking for a new president/CEO following
the departure of Gary Reinbolt, who led the public radio and
TV operation there since 1999.
Over on the commercial side of the Binghamton dial, Don Brake
is the new PD at WHWK (98.1), replacing the departed Ed Walker.
In Albany, Gabby is the new APD/music director/midday jock
at Clear Channel's WHRL (103.1), filling the post last held by
Capone, who's now the station's PD.
In Watertown, Johnny "Keegan" Tunstall has quit
his job as PD of WOTT (100.7 Henderson), in the midst of an ownership
change at the rock station. Tunstall told the Watertown Daily
Times that he was unhappy about guest DJ segments that broke
the format of the station - and he's accusing the station's former
owners of payola, an allegation that was made earlier by attorney
general Elliot Spitzer, but which the former owners, Clancy-Mance
In Utica, they're planning a reunion of former staffers at
WTLB (1310). It's scheduled for Sept. 23, and if you're a WTLB
alumnus and you're not already planning to be there, get in touch
with Joe Tierno (enzioyes at verizon.net) for more information.
here in Rochester, we can't let the week go by without wishing
a happy 40th anniversary to WXXI, which put its TV station on
the air (on channel 21, hence the calls) on September 6, 1966.
WXXI (where your editor is a part-time newsperson, on the radio
side) will mark the anniversary with an open house September
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*In PENNSYLVANIA, Clear Channel has
new calls for its two recently-flipped Philadelphia signals.
Mark down "WISX" for "Philly 106.1," the
former WJJZ - and "WUBA" for "Rumba 104.5,"
the station formerly known as WSNI.
Across town, Kannon is staying put at WRDW (96.5) as assistant
PD/afternoon jock, rather than taking the job he'd been offered
as afternoon jock at WKSC in Chicago.
Reading market, Nassau's WFKB (107.5 Boyertown) has filled out
In addition to PD Randi Ellis in middays, "Frank"
now has a morning show, with Ken Johnson (late of KSFN Las Vegas)
and Jenn Ryan (late of WSNI). Brian DiMario of sister station
WTHK (97.5 Burlington NJ) adds afternoon duties, and John Von
(formerly of WRDX in Delaware) comes on board as production director
and night jock.
Another format and
call change in State College? Yup - the WBHV calls (long a fixture
at 103.1) have returned to Happy Valley, this time on 2510 Licenses'
signal at 94.5, formerly smooth jazz WSMO. It's now doing top
40 as "B 94.5." The new format debuted last Monday
(Aug. 28) at midnight.
In Pittsburgh, Sheridan Broadcasting has dropped Radio One's
syndicated talk programming from WAMO (860 Millvale), which returns
to classic R&B. WAMO keeps Tom Joyner's morning show and
Bev Smith's local talk show in place. (Sheridan is also converting
its LMA of WGSM 107.1 Greensburg into an outright sale; Renda
Broadcasting is paying $2.2 million for the station, now "Sam
*In RHODE ISLAND, WSTL (1220 Providence)
returns to the air today under its new ownership. It'll reportedly
be "Shine 1220" when it signs on at 6 AM.
Over at WPRI (Channel 12), they're mourning Dickie Lynch,
who died August 18 after a long battle with cancer. Lynch had
been with WPRI since 1978, most recently serving as the station's
special projects coordinator and production manager. Lynch was
*The management shuffle at Clear Channel
is hitting home in MASSACHUSETTS, where Janet "Jake"
Karger lost her job as Boston market manager/regional VP on Thursday
after ten years with the company. Karger's duties at WXKS/WJMN/WKOX
will be taken over by Mike Crusham, who moves north from Florida
to become Clear Channel's regional VP for New England and upstate
CBS Radio's WBZ (1030) isn't immune to the corporate promotion
of Katie Couric's new gig as anchor of the CBS Evening News.
Beginning tonight, WBZ will simulcast the first segment of the
newscast, which will last 8-10 minutes. (Sister station WCBS
in New York will carry Couric as well.)
"ESPN Boston," WAMG (890 Dedham)/WLLH (1400 Lowell),
has picked up the rights to "Patriots Friday." Beginning
this Friday, afternoon host Mike Felger will anchor the all-Pats
show, weekly from 4-7 PM.
Where are they now? Onetime WBZ PD Tyler Cox is departing
Salem's talk network to return to the PD chair at ABC's WBAP
(820 Fort Worth), which was his destination when he left WBZ
VERMONT, the Radio Free Brattleboro saga has finally come
to a close with the debut of the station's licensed LPFM successor.
Vermont EarthWorks put WVEW-LP (107.7 Brattleboro) on the air
last week, returning much of the community programming to the
air that went away when a federal raid silenced the unlicensed
In Randolph, Clear Channel flipped simulcasts at WWWT (1320)
last week. Instead of carrying the talk programming of WSYB (1380
Rutland), which is being sold, 1320 is now WTSJ, the latest link
in the news-talk network based at WTSL (1400 Hanover NH).
*The last CBC Radio One AM signal to bring
the news of CANADA across the border to New England could
soon move to FM. Fans of the CBC in the US have already weathered
the loss of CBL (740 Toronto) and CBM (940 Montreal), and now
the CBC is applying for permission to silence the AM signal of
CBA (1070 Moncton NB). If the move is approved, CBA would move
to 106.1, with 69.5 kW/211 m - and New Brunswick would be down
to its last four AM stations.
Also applying for an AM-to-FM move is CHVO (560 Carbonear
NL), part of the VOCM network across Newfoundland. Newcap wants
to move the station to 103.9, with 30 kW DA/124.1 m.
20th anniversary (Thursday) to Quebec's TQS television network,
which marks the occasion with a new logo.
Things aren't so happy, we hear, at the Global television
network, where the "Sportsline" show that had been
a fixture for most of the network's history in Ontario was cancelled
last week. At least three full-time staffers, plus many part-timers,
lost their jobs in Global's sports department. We're also told
that Global has now moved all its master control operations from
Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes to a facility in Alberta.
And we'll close by noting that Moses Znaimer's C$12 million
acquisition of CFMX (96.3 Toronto/103.1 Cobourg) has been approved
by the CRTC. What changes might be on the way at "Classical
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!)
September 5, 2005 -
- It's been a busy week for Hall Communications - first, the
Connecticut format changes we told you about in our last issue,
and now a major station purchase in the Burlington, VERMONT market.
Hall was already a major player in town, with market-leading
country giant WOKO (98.9 Burlington), standards WJOY (1230 Burlington)
and oldies WKOL (105.1 Plattsburgh NY). Now, for $17 million,
it's adding Burlington Broadcasters' two stations - classic rock
WIZN (106.7 Vergennes) and modern rock WBTZ (99.9 Plattsburgh).
(WBTZ is actually still owned by Plattsburgh Broadcasters, and
Hall assumes Burlington's right to purchase the station, as well
as an LMA until the sale closes.) Hall says it won't change anything
at WIZN and WBTZ, and we tend to take that statement more seriously
when Hall's involved. The stations will stay at their current
home on the south edge of downtown Burlington, too.
- Meanwhile over at Steve Silberberg's stations, WXAL (93.7
Addison) takes its new calls WUSX this week. Those calls come
over from 105.7 Campton NH, which changes calls to WLKC, which
was the old call on Silberberg's 103.3 Waterbury VT. And the
circle goes round...
- On the TV dial in NEW HAMPSHIRE, WZMY (Channel 50) in Derry
has unveiled its new schedule. Gone is the station's 10 PM newscast,
but news at 7:30 PM remains, under the name "My TV Now."
And from 9-10 PM daily, "My TV" will offer "My
TV Prime," a local talk show. The station says it's also
considering bringing back Candlepin Bowling later in the fall.
- A station sale in MAINE: Franklin Broadcasting is selling
WKTJ (99.3 Farmington) to Clearwater Communications for $450,000.
Clearwater brokers WSKW/WCTB/WHQO in Skowhegan from Mountain
- In Rochester, Sinclair's "News Central" departed
WUHF (Channel 31) in a classy way Wednesday night, with a lengthy
credit roll listing the 120 or so staffers who've passed through
the doors at 360 East Avenue since the news operation began there
in 1997. WUHF's remaining staffers (about half of the 50 or so
people who worked there on August 31) moved into their new home
at Nexstar's WROC-TV (Channel 8) on Thursday; the new WROC-produced
10 PM news on WUHF will debut around November 1.
September 3, 2001 -
- In NEW YORK, WEVD (1050) ended its talk format right on schedule
at midnight Friday night (August 31), wrapping things up with
an hour or so of nostalgia for the seventy-plus years of history
under the WEVD calls (on three separate AM and FM facilities
over the years!). ESPN Radio took over at midnight with a promotional
loop that's scheduled to play until Tuesday morning (Sept. 5),
when real programming will begin. (Since we were in Pittsburgh
when WEVD finished its run, we'd love to hear from anyone who
might have been rolling tape that final night!)
- Here in Rochester, Clear Channel's WLCL (107.3 South Bristol)
dropped its little-noticed 80s-pop format at midnight Sunday
night (Sept. 3), launching into (Mamma Mia!) an all-Abba stunt
format as "Abba 107.3," complete with sarcastic announcements
from "general manager Michael Doylini" taking potshots
at the all-80s format that's still running across town on Entercom's
WBZA (98.9 Rochester), under GM Michael Doyle. If they only put
a tenth of the creativity into the regular programming that they
do on the stunts, this weak-signaled facsimile of a radio station
(it never had any jocks or real promotion during nine months
of 80s music) might even get a listener or two...
- A quick note from MAINE that the WCLZ calls have returned
to 98.9 in Brunswick, though with no change to the "Point"
nickname and modern AC-ish format that the station's been using
as WTPN. The interim home of the WCLZ calls, 95.5 in Topsham,
is now WJJB-FM to match the sports simulcast with WJJB(AM) (900
Brunswick) and WJAE (1440 Westbrook).
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- Greater Media's Boston stations sorted
things out this morning, and here's where everything settled
down: Country music stays at 96.9, but under the WKLB-FM calls
that move over from 105.7. The jock lineup on the new "Country
96.9" is still unclear, but so far this morning, your NERW
has already heard WBCS veteran Carolyn Kruse and longtime fill-in
guy Bill Heckbert. Greater Media saves its million dollars this
way, as long as they keep 96.9 country through the end of the
year (and with no competition, why not?) Still missing at 96.9
is a strong morning show; we'll see what pops up there.
- Over at 105.7, the new calls are WROR-FM,
and the new format is being officially described as "60s,
70s, and 80s." What it really sounds like, though, is another
oldies station in town, with a smattering of 70s and 80s soft
AC and without the 50s music on Boston's established oldies outlet,
CBS's WODS (103.3). The key players here are morning veterans
Loren (Owens) and Wally (Brine), who also picked up WBCS's Tom
Doyle along the way. The strategy? Seems like Greater is trying
to bracket its big AC, WMJX (106.7), while taking a bite out
of Oldies 103 at the same time. It's nice to hear the WROR calls
back in town; that's where a lot of this music was first heard
in Boston, in the old 98.5 days.
- And AM 1150 still carries the WROR(AM)
calls; no word on what calls will remain here when KidStar debuts
next month. This leaves one big unanswered question about what
might have been: NERW has it on good authority that someone had
one of the jingle companies cut a full set of "WMEX"
jingles within the last few months...and then Greater gave up
the WMEX calls to grab WROR and hold it. Very odd...
- Radio with pix: Boston's CBS-owned
WBZ-TV took on a new identity one day ahead of schedule on Monday,
becoming "News 4 New England" with a new set, a new
logo, and almost no mention of its calls...New Bedford's WLWC
(28) should be on the air soon. They're advertising for staff
in Broadcasting and Cable, confirming the speculation that they'll
be in an LMA with NBC's WJAR-TV (10) Providence. And WRKO talkers
Pat Whitley and Marjorie Clapprood are back to radio-only. New
England Cable News has dropped its telecast of the 5:30 to 7am
portion of the show in favor of its own morning newscast.
*It's here! Tower Site Calendar
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This sixth annual edition once again contains plenty of historic
dates from radio and television history in the Northeast and
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2006 by Scott Fybush.