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September 11, 2006

Regent Spends Big in Buffalo


*There were two surprises in western NEW YORK when CBS Radio announced its exit from the Buffalo market last week - first, that the buyer of CBS' one AM and four FM stations wasn't Clear Channel, Citadel, Entercom or Randy Michaels, but rather Regent Communications, and second, the price tag, a whopping $125 million.

That's about three times what Entercom is paying for CBS Radio's four-FM cluster in nearby Rochester, a market of similar size, but it gets Regent into Buffalo in a big way. For its money (nearly half the entire market capitalization of the rest of Regent), the company gets the market's dominant country station, WYRK (106.5), as well as a very successful AC, WJYE (96.1), a pioneering urban signal, WBLK (93.7 Depew), a strugglng "Jack" adult hits station, WBUF (92.9) and a litlle classic-country AM, WECK (1230 Cheektowaga).

Buffalo becomes, by a pretty significant margin, the largest market in the Regent family, but it also makes for a nice combination with Regent's existing upstate clusters in Watertown, Utica and Albany. In all three markets, just as in Buffalo, there's a dominant country signal in the cluster ("Froggy" WFRY Watertown, "Big Frog" WFRG Utica and WGNA in Albany), so it's a good bet that Regent won't make many changes at WYRK when it takes control there. Few changes are likely at WJYE or WBLK, either - but the rumor mills are already hard at work about what Regent might do with WBUF if it pulls the plug on "Jack."

Regent's entry into Buffalo pretty much closes the door for now on the rumors that either Clear Channel would fill a notable gap in its lineup of top-100 markets with a Buffalo purchase, or that CC's former head honcho, Randy Michaels, would jump back into big-time radio in the city where he first rose to prominence. Clear Channel, we'd note, has been out of the station-purchase game lately to any significant extent, and as for Michaels, his history in the market was at two stations not included in the CBS spinoffs, WGR (now an Entercom sports talker) and WGRF (now a Citadel rocker). And what about the ideas that Entercom or Citadel, already at or near the market cap, would seek to upgrade their station lineups by buying the CBS cluster, keeping WYRK (and perhaps WJYE) and selling the rest? We'll chalk those up to message-board fantasy - not that we weren't enjoying the speculation, too.

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*At the other end of the Thruway, the Albany market was (pardon the pun) abuzz last week about the defection of the WYJB (95.5) morning team of Chuck and Kelly to Regent's WABT (104.5 Mechanicville). They'll start at "The Buzz" tomorrow, but they won't be on 104.5 for long. Last week, Regent confirmed the long-swirling rumors that the "Buzz" modern AC format will move to its new Albany-market entry, WNYQ (105.7 Malta), when that station signs on sometime soon. Expect 104.5 to simulcast with 105.7 for a while, as Regent transitions listeners to the new frequency. (No word yet on what might appear on 104.5 when the transition is complete.)

Over at Siena College's WVCR (88.3 Loudonville), former Albany Broadcasting promotions director Darrin Scott Kibbey is the new GM, replacing Neerav Patel, who's leaving after 10 years to travel the world.

Here in Rochester, "Huge 107.3" indeed turned out to be a stunt (albeit a fun one); it flipped Tuesday at noon to rhythmic oldies as "Snap 107.3," with Whoopi Goldberg's morning show, followed by Marc Spencer in middays and former WVOR (100.5, now WDVI) morning co-host Andrea Holland in afternoons. Look for a call change to WSNP sooner or later, too.

While we're up at the Clear Channel cluster, we'll note that they've hired a new sports director to replace Brad Davies, recently departed to co-owned KBME in Houston. John DiTullio takes over Davies' duties, which included morning sports reports on WHAM (1180) and a mid-morning sports talk show on WHTK (1280); his arrival at WHAM/WHTK means the end of his gigs doing sports for the Wease show on CBS' WCMF (96.5) and on TV for Time Warner's R News.

And a sad note from the heart of NERW country: while it was hardly a surprise (except where the timing was concerned), we're still saddened by the demolition over the weekend of the three-tower array that was home to Rochester's AM 1460 (WHEC, WAXC, WWWG and most recently WHIC) until just a few weeks ago. The 205-foot self-supporting towers were built in 1947, when WHEC upgraded from 1 kW ND to 5 kW DA-N - and it was their lights that your editor saw blinking out his bedroom window as a child, which helped set us on the path we've been on ever since. WHIC now operates from the nearby WROC (950) site; its former home will eventually be filled with office-park buildings. (We'll have a tribute to the late 1460 site this Friday on Tower Site of the Week.)

Syracuse's talk stations are doing the syndication shuffle, as Sean Hannity moves from Buckley's WFBL (1390) to Clear Channel's WSYR (570), where he'll be heard from 7-10 PM, displacing Ed Schultz from the market. Rush Limbaugh, who'd been heard on a one-hour delay on WSYR, will now be heard live noon-3, displacing the station's noon news hour, and Jim Reith will add a fourth hour to his show, starting at 3 instead of 4.

Over at WFBL, Hannity's former 3-6 PM slot will be filled with an extra hour of Mike Gallagher (3-4) and the Hennican and White show from Buckley sister station WOR (4-6 PM).

A new set of call letters to tell you about: the new 93.3 in Saranac Lake will be WSLP when it signs on.

Also up that way, Sound of Life's WLJH (90.9 Glens Falls) has applied to move to 90.7. The station would move from its present transmitter site east of Glens Falls to a new site between Glens Falls and Lake George, dropping power from 360 watts to 40 watts but moving up from 663' to 1325'.

And it is, of course, the fifth anniversary of one of our nation's greatest tragedies. For a look back at the broadcast aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, our 2002 essay on "9/11 Plus One" remains available here at As a postscript, we'd note that all the city's DTV facilities are finally back on, at full power, from the Empire State Building or nearby 4 Times Square - and that the six engineers who died that day, Isaias Riveras, Bob Pattison, William Steckman, Donald DiFranco, Steve Jacobson and Rod Coppola, remain in our memory.


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*In NEW JERSEY's Meadowlands, there will be a rare sight next week: the demolition of three tall AM towers. Last week, WOR (710 New York) officially switched its broadcasts to its new three-tower site in Lyndhurst, just a few hundred yards north of the site it's used since 1967. Next Wednesday (Sept. 20), WOR owner Rick Buckley and many of the station's advertisers and staff will be on hand as the button is pushed to bring down the old towers, each more than 600 feet tall. NERW will (of course) be on hand for the event, and we'll have complete coverage in our Sept. 22 edition of Tower Site of the Week, which will probably appear a day or two early as a result.

Down the Jersey Shore, Mike Gavin is out as PD of WHTG (106.3 Eatontown).

*The long relationship between the Pittsburgh Pirates and western PENNSYLVANIA's biggest AM signal, KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh), appears to be over for now. The team is expected to officially announce tomorrow that it's moving to Clear Channel's WPGB (104.7), beginning with the 2007 season. Pirates games were among KDKA's first broadcasts in 1921 (indeed, the station is widely credited as being the first to broadcast baseball), and with a few breaks over the years, the team and the station have been together ever since.

But with CBS taking a hard line towards sports programming costs around the country, it was widely considered inevitable that the Pirates would follow the Cardinals (St. Louis' KMOX) and the Twins (Minneapolis' WCCO) in looking elsewhere for a better deal. The pact with Clear Channel means that the broadcaster will have all of Pittsburgh's major-league teams beginning next year.

In Allentown, WLEV (100.7) is changing its programming tune. Gone is the "Lite Rock 100.7" slogan the station had been using, along with morning man Dave Russell. He moves to the production director chair, trading places with Mark Shepperd, who takes over mornings.

Across town at Clear Channel, today marks the launch of religious WYHM (1470), replacing the oldies and WKAP calls that had been on that frequency.

*There's a storm brewing at Quinnipiac University in CONNECTICUT over the removal of the tower that carried WQAQ (98.1 ), the little class D campus FM station. University administrators apparently decided over the summer that the tower was an eyesore and ordered it taken down. That came as a shock to students, who returned to find no antenna for their station. They, along with alumni of WQAQ, are now campaigning to get the school to find a new home for the antenna. (Quinnipiac also owns AM station WQUN 1220 in Hamden, which is operated professionally; its tower is several miles from the campus.)

*In MASSACHUSETTS, the revolving door has spun again in the PD's office at WBOS (92.9 Brookline), as Dave Douglas departs.

Entercom has new call letters for the former WILD-FM (97.7 Brockton); it's now WKAF, to go with simulcast partner WAAF (107.3 Westborough).

*The new AM in the Burlington, VERMONT market has call letters: it's now WVVT (670 Essex Junction). The owners of the construction permit are touting their new signal as having "statewide" reach, which seems to us to be more than a bit of an exaggeration; in any case, it's yet to be built, and we know how much Vermonters like new towers in their midst. As always, stay tuned...

*There are calls for a new FM station in MAINE, as well. Mark down WCXV (98.1 Van Buren) for Canxus Broadcasting's new signal way up north; we'd expect this one to end up simulcasting with sister stations WCXX (102.3 Fort Kent) and WCXU (97.7 Caribou).

*Maritime Broadcasting System (MBS) has been one busy company in eastern CANADA of late. Last week, it signed on its new FM signal in Charlottetown, PEI, and the arrival of country on CFCY-FM (95.1) meant the end of country on sister station CJRW (102.1 Summerside PEI). CJRW is now playing classic rock as "102.1 Spud FM." CFCY-FM will simulcast on CFCY (630) for 90 days, after which there will be no more full-power AM signals in Canada's smallest province.

MBS made another format flip in the region, too: CJYC (98.9 Saint John NB) ditched its old "C98" identity and picked up a similar classic rock format to CJRW, becoming "98.9 Big John FM."

More news from the Maritimes: the CRTC has granted the campus station at St. Francis Xavier University, CFXU (92.5 Antigonish NS), an upgrade from 5-watt "developmental" status to a 50-watt license. In Halifax, the Cooperative Radio-Halifax-Metro has been granted 98.5 for its new French-language community station, with 2.35 kW. In Miramichi, New Brunswick, Radio Miracadie has been granted a license for a new French-language community station, which will operate on 93.7.

In Quebec, community station CHAI (101.9 Chateauguay) has been granted a license for a second transmitter, also on 101.9, in Candiac. (It'll have 47 watts.)

In Toronto, Bill Hayes joins his brother John Derringer on the Q107 (CILQ 107.1) morning show, while "Flow 93.5" (CFXJ) names Slim and Melanie as its new morning team. Slim was one of Flow's original jocks, before heading to Vancouver and CFBT ("The Beat"); Melanie was on the CIDC (Z103.5) morning show.

And Milkman UnLimited reports that the former CFRA (580) building on Walkley Road in Ottawa met the wrecking ball last week.

The suburban office building was also home to CFMO/CKKL (93.9) and, briefly, to CFGO (1200) and CJMJ (100.3) before the stations all moved to George Street in the Byward Market area a few years ago.

(Milky should know the building's history; that's where he was working when he started his invaluable Canadian radio website!)

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!)

September 12, 2005 -

  • The exact details are still murky, but it appears that some big changes are imminent at the Long Island radio stations owned by The Morey Organization. For the last few days, active rock "Bone" WBON (98.5 Westhampton), dance/top 40 "Party" WDRE (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) and modern rock WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays) have been running jockless, and on Friday all three stations will reportedly drop their current formats. That prospect has the message boards buzzing, especially where "Party 105" is concerned. (Dance music fans take their format very seriously, after all.) It appears that most, if not all, of the staff at the stations is out of work as well.
  • It was anything but a quiet week in RHODE ISLAND radio, where what was supposed to have been a benefit broadcast for Hurricane Katrina's victims turned into an on-air brawl between WPRO (630 Providence) talk host DanYorke and his predecessor, John DePetro, who now does late mornings on Boston's WRKO (680). Yorke, a frequent on-air critic of DePetro, was broadcasting from a furniture store in West Warwick when DePetro, who'd been listening to the show, showed up, grabbed the microphone and began castigating Yorke on the air, saying he'd been offered the WPRO job and had turned it down. WPRO PD David Bernstein came on the air afterwards to say that the station stood behind Yorke - and the whole thing goes down as a reminder that Rhode Island talk radio, just like Rhode Island politics, is a most unusual thing.
  • One of the most respected names in MASSACHUSETTS broadcasting has been picked as the new leader of troubled public radio station WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston). Paul LaCamera spent 33 years at WCVB-TV (Channel 5), most of that time at the helm of what's widely regarded as one of the best commercial TV stations in the country. LaCamera just retired from WCVB a few weeks ago, and the timing couldn't have been better for WBUR, which is still recovering from the turmoil that marked the end of the tenure of Jane Christo, whose long run at the station rivaled that of LaCamera's at WCVB.

September 10, 2001 -

  • The TV dial in southern MAINE will be doing some serious spinning on October 7, with some help from Pegasus Broadcasting. After more than a decade as a Fox affiliate, WPXT (Channel 51) in Portland will drop that affiliation in favor of the smaller WB Network, seen until now on LMA partner WPME (Channel 35) in Lewiston as a secondary affiliation. The move appears to be a Pegasus corporate decision, with fellow Fox affiliate WDBD (Channel 40) down in Jackson, Mississippi making the same switch on the same day. Why? NERW suspects an attempt to reap more affiliate compensation from Fox, which will now be left with no broadcast outlet anywhere in the Pine Tree State.
  • To fill the gap, Time Warner has already announced that it will pick up the national FoxNet feed, which will appear on cable channel 14 for customers in Portland and vicinity. Elsewhere in the state, Fox will now have to negotiate with smaller local cable companies for carriage (most had been picking up WPXT via microwave relay for years). And for viewers without cable, it looks as though they'll have to get used to life without Homer, Scully, Ally and half the Sunday NFL schedule (unless, of course, other Maine network affiliates strike deals with Fox to pick up some of the network's sports).
  • the big news in the Granite State over Labor Day came courtesy of a Massachusetts broadcaster: Ted O'Brien, the veteran news voice of WNAC-TV, WRKO, WABU and now WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston), who went hiking in the White Mountains on Sunday (Sept. 2) and didn't come back right away. A search that lasted through two nights ended Tuesday morning when O'Brien was found, tired but safe and apologetic about his unintentional adventure, which began when he wandered off the trail over Attitash Mountain. O'Brien admitted he wasn't properly prepared for the hike and had failed to anticipate how long it would take. And radio people being radio people, we hear his return to WBUR later in the week found a mock press release attached to his computer, announcing O'Brien's appointment as head of the Boston University branch of the Appalachian Mountain Club! All kidding aside, we're as relieved as anyone else to be able to report a happy ending to this story, which sparked a brief holiday-weekend media circus in Boston.
  • There's a new PD moving in at Albany Broadcasting's WFLY (92.3 Troy). Donny Michaels comes back to the market from a nine-month stint putting Clear Channel's "Kiss" CHR on the air at WFKP (96.1 Poughkeepsie) and WPKF (99.3 Ellenville). He won't have most of his morning team right away: Ellen Rockwell and Brian Cody are both on vacation in Aruba - but then, they should be away together: it's their honeymoon! The pair were married Saturday (Sept. 8).
  • Down in PENNSYLVANIA, "the Pickle" has officially launched in the Pittsburgh suburbs. Keymarket debuted the oldies format on a network of AM outlets (WASP 1130 Brownsville, WCVI 1340 Connellsville and WCLG 1300 in Morgantown, W.V.) over Labor Day weekend before returning the flagship, WPKL-FM (99.3 Uniontown) to the air on Tuesday. The rumor mill suggests that this format could end up on the 98.3 that's being moved from Charleroi up to Duquesne, but for now that frequency remains with Keymarket's "Froggy" country cluster.

New England Radio Watch, September 13, 1996

  • Hundreds of mourners turned out Wednesday afternoon to remember Boston radio legend Sunny Joe White. The 42-year old veteran of WILD, WZOU, WVBF, and most notably WXKS-FM was found dead in his Boston apartment last weekend, apparently of a heart attack. White came to Boston in 1977, near the beginning of a radio career that started at little WGIV in his native Charlotte, N.C. After two years at urban WILD (1090), White joined Rich Balsbaugh and the rest of the team that was launching "Kiss 108," WXKS-FM in Medford. First as morning jock/PD and later as evening jock/PD, White helped shape the disco sound that pushed the former WWEL-FM from worst to first.
  • White's later career was checkered, marred by frequent allegations of drug use (which the Boston Herald's Dean Johnson had the guts to mention in his obit) and a variety of stints at several smaller stations. After leaving Kiss, White spent some time programming and consulting rival CHR WZOU (94.5, now WJMN). The early 90s found him doing evenings on WVBF (105.7) during its "Boston 105" phase. That gig ended when WVBF became country WCLB in early 1993, and White left local radio for a time. He was just starting to make a comeback at the time of his death, with consulting and on-air work at WILD, and rumors of a new partnership with Balsbaugh to start a brand-new radio group. White was remembered Thursday night with an hour-long special on Kiss-108, which your NERW regrettably missed. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone with a tape of that broadcast.
  • The Cape Cod airwaves just keep shifting 'round, and the latest changes come at the top of the dial. Classical WFCC (107.5 Chatham) was recently purchased by Charles River Broadcasting, and as of this morning, WFCC's entire air product is emanating from Charles River's WCRB 102.5 Waltham-Boston. It's not exactly a simulcast; though both stations will be playing mostly the same music with the same hosts, the on-air product will be customized for each station. WFCC goes 24 hours as a result of the change (the station used to sign off at midnight daily), and both stations get a new DJ lineup. Laura Carlo moves from afternoon news duty to mornings, working live 6am-noon and on tape from noon till 1. Ray Brown moves from mornings to afternoons, working the 1pm-7pm shift. And Larry King (a different one!) will be heard 7pm-6am, with overnights on tape. WFCC's former airstaff has been offered work as salespeople for WCRB.

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*It's here! Tower Site Calendar 2007 is now shipping, and if you took advantage of our pre-order offer, your calendar should be arriving in your mailbox any day now.

This year's edition features what we think are the finest tower images yet - from the cover image of WCCO Minneapolis all the way to the back-cover centerfold of WBZ in Boston, and from KGO San Francisco to KOIL Omaha to Philadelphia's famed Roxborough tower farm, captured in a dramatic dusk shot with the lights all aglow.

This sixth annual edition once again contains plenty of historic dates from radio and television history in the Northeast and beyond, and as always, it comes to you shrink-wrapped and shipped first class mail for safe arrival.

You can even get your 2007 calendar free with your new or renewal subscription to NERW at the $60 level.

Visit the Store and place your order today - and be among the first to get the Tower Site Calendar 2007, just as soon as it rolls off the presses in a few short weeks!

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.