September 18, 2006
Ed Ansin Gets His Duopoly
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*It's a week of big changes on the eastern
MASSACHUSETTS television dial - perhaps the biggest since
the ownership and affiliation changes that rocked the Boston
market in the mid-nineties - and once again, maverick station
owner Ed Ansin is driving much of the action.
Ansin's 1993 purchase of then-CBS affiliate WHDH-TV (Channel
7) introduced a new hard-driving tabloid style of news to the
market, carrying the station from also-ran status to first place
in the ratings. His move to NBC two years later (when former
affiliate WBZ-TV became a CBS O&O) touched off more than
a decade of tension between the Peacock network and Ansin's Sunbeam
Boston is the largest
market where NBC doesn't own its affiliate, and for the last
few months, there's been a growing buzz that the network wants
to change that. Since Ansin's not selling, the rumor mill quickly
settled on Tribune's struggling WLVI (Channel 56), the WB-turned-CW
affiliate whose "Ten O'Clock News" was once the premiere
prime-time newscast in the market. The growth of Fox's WFXT over
the last few years has damaged WLVI's ratings, and Tribune has
made no secret about its desire to sell some of its weaker outlets.
(It's already parted with stations in Atlanta and Albany.)
With NBC openly
sniffing around the market, and Ansin in danger of losing the
lucrative affiliation, the next step was obvious: Ansin announced
last week that he'll pay Tribune $113.7 million to bring WLVI
under the Sunbeam umbrella. (Tribune paid $25 million when it
bought WLVI from Gannett in 1994.)
The result: WLVI's current home on Morrissey Boulevard will
be shuttered, most of its 130 or so employees will end up out
of work, and the current "Ten O'Clock News" operation
will be replaced with a 10 PM newscast produced by the existing
WHDH news department, with a few WLVI refugees being added there
take: We're sorry, though not surprised, to see
the current WLVI news operation go. As tastes in Boston turned
towards flashier, more tabloid news, WLVI's newscast became something
of a throwback to an earlier, more sedate style of news, and
it appears that wasn't what the public wanted in 2006. We hope
the news staffers who lose their jobs in the transition can find
new work quickly. (It doesn't appear that WHDH will keep many
of them, including lead anchors Karen Marinella and Frank Mallicoat.)
We'll be following closely as Ansin enters the prime-time
news wars in Boston. In addition to the WFXT newscast, which
has grown into a major player in the city, there's also strong
competition from New England Cable News - and from the 9:30 PM
newscast that will debut tonight on WBZ-TV sister station WSBK
(Channel 38). Ansin made his name with prime-time news on his
other station, Fox affiliate WSVN (Channel 7) in Miami, and the
new 10 PM news on WLVI will no doubt be a flagship show for the
WHDH operation as well.
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*There's another station sale in the Bay State as well - Karl
Nurse's Truro Wireless is selling little WCDJ (102.3 Truro) to
"Dunes 102FM, LLC," whose principal, Thomas Troland,
has owned several small stations in Arizona under the "Skynet
Broadcasting" banner. Sale price on the station is $550,000,
and while the trades are reporting that WCDJ was running a news-talk
format before going silent Sept. 1, it's our understanding that
the station has spent most of its life silent, being fired up
from time to time to keep the license alive.
One more Bay State note - we're hearing that veteran WEIM
(1280 Fitchburg) morning man Ray C. will soon be departing the
wakeup show at that community AM station, possibly moving to
nights. Stay tuned...
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*In VERMONT, Nassau Broadcasting's
worst-kept secret finally became a reality on Friday morning
at 10, when top 40 WORK-FM (107.1 Barre) gave way to classic
hits "Frank FM."
new "Frank" is the latest in a growing batch of stations
with that name across New England, from the original WFNK in
Portland to newer "Frank" outlets in Nashua, New Hampshire
and on Cape Cod. (That one's an adult hits station, unlike the
others.) We're not sure yet how much of the WORK-FM airstaff
will remain; the new website for Frank appears to have been hastily
copied from yet another Nassau "Frank" down in Pennsylvania,
right down to the "107.5 Frank FM" in the title bar...
*The latest station sale in RHODE ISLAND
is no surprise at all; as we'd told you several months ago,
Christopher Jones is keeping WCRI (95.9 Block Island) and WCNX
(1180 Hope Valley) in the family. His Judson Group is paying
$1.6 million to acquire the classical FM and all-news AM from
Charles River Broadcasting, which is slowly exiting the broadcasting
business. No changes to the stations' formats are expected.
*Changes may be on the way in CONNECTICUT,
though, as the three AM stations owned by Freedom Communications
of Connecticut enter receivership. AllAccess.com reports
that Freedom (controlled by Steve Brisker) agreed to put the
stations up for sale to resolve a lawsuit accusing Brisker of
"financial irregularities" in his operation of the
*One of the best-known TV anchors in Rochester,
NEW YORK has lost a battle with cancer that few in town
even knew he was fighting.
Dalmath left the anchor chair at WHEC-TV (Channel 10) at the
end of 2004, ending a 29-year career at the station - and a career
in broadcasting that began in the Army in the late sixties and
continued in the suburbs of New York City in the early seventies
at stations such as WFAS, WVOX and WNEW. (Another of his early
gigs was at WGBB on Long Island, where he worked with another
young newscaster named Rich Funke, who'd later become WHEC's
sports anchor and is now the station's lead newscaster himself.)
In 1976, Dalmath came to Rochester as weekend anchor at WHEC,
soon becoming lead weeknight anchor, a post he'd keep for 25
years before being moved to mornings in 2001. Dalmath also replaced
the late Eddie Meath as host of the station's annual Muscular
Dystrophy Telethon, which became a passion of his.
After his departure from WHEC in 2004, Dalmath worked with
a local mortgage company and with Dalmath Associates, the public-relations
firm founded by his wife, Jean. Most recently, he'd been one
of the principals in an audience-research firm called Critical
Dalmath came to the U.S. from his native Hungary in 1956,
at the age of 9, escaping with his family from the revolution
there. He remained a fan of Hungarian sports, as well as an avid
Dalmath was diagnosed with kidney cancer in June, but few
in town knew he was seriously ill until the news of his death
was announced Friday night (Sept. 15). He was just 60 years old.
(On a very personal note, Gabe welcomed your editor into WHEC's
newsroom and studio when I was a child, and remained a friend
for many years thereafter. When I first appeared on the Rochester
airwaves as a TV reporter myself, one of the first messages waiting
for me at work the next day was from Gabe - "Now I feel
old," he said. My experience was hardly unique; there's
a whole generation of newspeople in Rochester whose careers had
support and encouragement from Gabe, and he will be deeply missed
by all of us.)
*While we're at WHEC, we note the departure of sports director
Rick Hager to points unknown.
morning show shakeups are underway in the Hudson Valley. In Albany,
Ric Mitchell returns to the airwaves as the new morning man on
WYJB (95.5), continuing a career that's included stops at WQAR,
WTRY and WKLI. In Poughkeepsie, Reno is out at WPDH (101.5),
and former morning co-host Mark Cooper is back at the station
to rejoin Mark Tobin. WPDH says that's a temporary thing for
now, to mark the station's 30th anniversary, but if the pairing
is a success, Cooper may remain beyond his scheduled Dec. 22
departure. Cooper was last heard at WRKW (92.9), a few years
Upstate, WENU-FM (101.7 Hudson Falls) has dropped its longtime
call letters and soft AC format. It's now WQYQ, "Q-101.7,"
picking up the classic rock format and slogan that were used
by WNYQ (105.7) before that station signed off to begin its move
south to the Albany market.
If you're an engineer, don't miss this year's SBE Broadcasting
and Technology Expo, rapidly becoming one of the nation's most
successful regional broadcasting conventions. This year's edition
will take place Sept. 26th and 27th at Turning Stone Casino between
Syracuse and Utica, and this year it's also the site of the SBE's
national meeting. All the details are at www.sbe22expo.org.
(Alas, we'll be traveling out west, and won't be at this year's
convention, but we'll be back in 2007!)
Radio People on the Move: Jeff Alan ("Jeff Moore")
is making a big move south from WKZA (106.9 Lakewood) in the
Jamestown market, heading to mornings at WMTX in Tampa. In Watertown,
Chili Walker is the new PD at WOTT (100.7 Henderson). And in
New York City, Michael Calamenco is the new food show host on
Speaking of WOR, we'll be on hand Wednesday
morning when its old three-tower array in Lyndhurst, NEW JERSEY
is demolished. Look for pictures - and maybe even some video
- on Tower Site of the Week, later this week!
*In PENNSYLVANIA, Ken Matthews is
out as morning man at WAEB-FM (104.1 Allentown) after many years
on that shift. Afternoon jock Mike Kelly is filling in for now,
but we suspect we haven't heard the last of Matthews in the Lehigh
Valley. Down the hall at WZZO (95.1 Bethlehem), Kelly Nova returns
(from weekend/swing duty at WMMR in Philadelphia) to take over
middays, moving PD Tori Thomas to the vacant afternoon slot.
And last Monday was launch day for religion on WYHM (1470 Allentown),
after 24 straight hours of Vicki Carr's "It Must Be Him."
"Him" - "Hymn" - get it? Yeah...
Up in Scranton, we hear Mitch Carrol has moved from the GM
position with Route 81 Radio (WLNP, WNAK, WCDL, WAZL) to Shamrock's
WEZX (Rock 107).
In Philadelphia, Tom Bigby announced last week that he's retiring
as operations manager of CBS Radio's WYSP (94.1). Bigby ran sports
radio WIP (610) - and is credited for much of its success -
from 1989 until 2004, when he went to Dallas for a year at KRLD
(1080) before returning to Philadelphia.
Over at Clear Channel, Logan moves from WIOQ (102.1) to afternoons/music
director on the new "Philly 106.1" (WISX).
Out in western Pennsylvania, Dylan returns to WRTS (103.7
Erie) to do afternoons and serve as assistant PD.
And former Pittsburgh jock Alan Cox starts his new gig today
in Chicago - he's now the morning man on Emmis' WKQX (101.1)
*In CANADA, Bayshore Broadcasting
has been granted a new signal in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. The new
CHGB will operate on 97.7, with 316 watts (directional)/100 meters,
as a sister station to Bayshore's three-station cluster in Owen
In the northern suburbs of Toronto, Pickering College is applying
for a 5-watt developmental radio license on 102.7.
And on Prince Edward Island, the CBC is applying for a new
transmitter at St. Edward. The 6.5 kW (directional)/110 meter
signal on 101.1 would replace reception that will be lost if
CBA (1070 Moncton) is granted its proposed move to FM.
*A scheduling note: we'll be on the road for most of the next
two weeks, attending the WOR tower demolition on Wednesday and
then heading west for this year's "Big Trip," visiting
stations and tower sites across Oregon and Washington State.
Look for an abbreviated NERW next Monday, September 25 - and
we'll be back to normal on Monday, October 2. (And don't miss
our coverage of the WOR demolition on Tower
Site of the Week later this week!)
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 19, 2005 -
- It's far too early to say whether it's a brilliant move or
just an interesting dead-end, but the outcome of last week's
speculation about the future of The Morey Organization's three
NEW YORK FM stations on Long Island's East End is certainly stirring
debate within the broadcasting community. The new formats on
the three stations are collectively known as "FM ChannelCasting,"
and the idea - according to TMO - is to bring listeners the same
benefits that they'd get from satellite radio, without the expense
of buying new equipment or paying a subscription fee.
- Late last week, active rock WBON (98.5 Westhampton) became
rock "FM Channel 98: Long Island Rock", dance/top 40
WDRE (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) became top 40 "FM Channel
105: Party Hits" and modern rock WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays)
became "FM Channel 107: Neo-Breeze," an unusual (and
interesting-sounding) melange of standards, soft AC and smooth
jazz. What's new about the stations, though, isn't the music;
it's the programming concept: Morey says "FM ChannelCasting"
aims to bring listeners the same benefits they get from satellite
radio - long sets of music uninterrupted by DJs or commercial
breaks - without the costs. In practice, what it amounts to are
jockless 15-minute music sweeps, with just one sponsor for an
entire hour of programming and very brief sponsor announcements
(15 to 30 seconds) four times an hour. Morey says it hopes to
lure nontraditional sponsors, even individuals wishing to honor
anniversaries and birthdays and such.
- NERW's take: It's certainly a bold move, if nothing else,
but mark us down as more than a bit skeptical about the long-term
future of this "ChannelCasting" business. There is,
for one thing, an intrinsic conflict between the prime need of
any commercial broadcaster - to draw as large a mass audience
as possible, thus ensuring ratings and, hopefully, revenue -
and the appeal of the niche formats that are some of the biggest
draws for satellite radio.
- Meanwhile in Manhattan, it's sounding an awful lot like 1990
at WPLJ (95.5), which announced last week that Rocky Allen and
Blain Ensley will return to the air there on Tuesday to resume
the afternoon-drive "Showgram" that they did so successfully
at 'PLJ more than a decade ago. The move shifts afternooner Race
Taylor to middays, displacing Rich Kaminski to weekends.
- From NEW JERSEY - or is it PENNSYLVANIA - comes word that
Nassau has now taken the inevitable next step in the move of
WTHK (97.5) into the Philadelphia market. The former WPST changed
city of license from Trenton to Burlington a few weeks back,
and now it's applied to move its transmitter from the downtown
Trenton site it's called home since the sixties, all the way
into Philadelphia. The move comes with some very tight spacing
requirements, though: while there's no restriction on spacing
to third-adjacent WOGL (98.1), thanks to pre-1964 grandfathering,
the relocated WTHK can't increase interference to WIXM (97.3
Millville NJ) or WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue NY), with which it's
also grandfathered, nor can it move much closer to WRVV (97.3
- The result? As we'd sort of expected, WTHK is applying to
move its transmitter to the Wyndmoor section of northern Philadelphia,
adjacent to the Mermaid Lane site of WJJZ (106.1). From there,
WTHK will be a full class B signal, 43 kW at 525 feet above average
terrain, but with a deep directional null to the northwest to
protect WRVV and a shallower null to the south and east to protect
WIXM. What's next? Expect the CP to be granted fairly quickly
- and then the speculation will build about a sale of the station.
Nassau isn't a big-market player, especially not with a single
FM signal, and a full-market FM like this would certainly bring
big bucks. Stay tuned...
- In MASSACHUSETTS - well, OK, on Long Island, where he actually
does the show most of the time, "Jay Severin Has Issues."
That's the name of the syndicated afternoon show that the WTKK
(96.9 Boston) talker will be doing for Infinity beginning in
January, but it's also a pretty good description of what the
last week was like for him. It seems Severin told a caller that
he'd won a Pulitzer Prize for online journalism, which raised
some questions a few doors down at the Boston Globe. Columnist
Scot Lehigh investigated, and found that MSNBC.com, for which
Severin used to write, had won a couple of Online Journalism
Awards, which were awarded by Columbia University, which also
awards the Pulitzers...and there's now some frantic "what
I meant to say was" backtracking going on.
September 17, 2001 -
- Almost a week after the attacks on the World Trade Center,
New York's TV dial continues to return to something resembling
normalcy. WABC-TV (Channel 7) returned to the air with a low-power
signal from the Armstrong tower in Alpine, N.J. on Saturday afternoon,
with WNET (Channel 13) restoring its signal Sunday evening from
the Empire State Building, again at low power. That leaves WWOR
(Channel 9) as the last VHF signal to return. It plans to join
sister Fox outlet WNYW (Channel 5) from Empire sometime this
week. Pax's WPXN (Channel 31) is being seen over several LPTVs,
including W23BA (Channel 34) in East Orange, N.J. and WPXU-LP
(Channel 38) in Amityville, L.I.; there's no word on when WPXN
itself will get a signal back on the air.
- On the FM side, WNYC-FM (93.9) was the last of the World
Trade Center FMs to restore a signal on its own frequency; it
returned from Empire at 3:00 Sunday afternoon. The next project
for all the affected stations is to turn these low-power emergency
installations into full-power transmission facilities that can
be used for the long haul. Despite all the talk of rebuilding
the Trade Center towers, any reconstruction would be years in
coming, and that means the Empire State Building and the Alpine
tower are likely to remain the area's primary TV sites for a
while. With that in mind, here's another run-through of the stations
- WCBS-TV (2)
Continuing operations from its full-power backup site at Empire.
On the air from Alpine at low power.
On the air from Empire at low power.
On the air from Alpine at low power.
Soon to resume operations from Empire.
Temporary low-power operation from Daily News building, 220 E.
42nd Street; moving to Empire.
On the air from Empire at low power.
Not yet on the air.
On the air from an undetermined backup site
On the air from a Columbia University dorm building at low power.
On the air from Empire.
On the air from Empire.
On the air from auxiliary site at Four Times Square at full power.
New England Radio Watch, September 20, 1996
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- New England's oldest radio station,
Boston's WBZ (1030) celebrated its 75th anniversary this week,
with much merriment both on and off the air. Off-air, the big
event was a party for staff and clients Wednesday night at the
Boston Harbor Hotel. Guests of honor from 'BZ's past included
Carl deSuze, Dave Maynard, Guy Mainella, Don Kent, Ken Meyer,
Don Batting, and Bob Wilson. On-air, many of those same voices
were heard during special segments on the anniversary morning,
September 19, along with anniversary greetings from many of the
state's politicos, plus Paul Harvey and a birthday poem from
Charles Osgood. The David Brudnoy talk show Thursday night included
chats with Dave Maynard, a 'BZ vet since the late 50s, and former
producer-talk host Ken Meyer. And this Saturday, September 21,
'BZ's "Sports Saturday" will mark the anniversary by
bringing many of Boston's legendary sports voices in for a special
show from 12:30 to 6:30pm.
- Down in Southern Connecticut, Cox's
adult-contemporary WEZN (99.9) in Bridgeport is changing its
name. The station now bills itself as "Star 99.9."
NERW Connecticut correspondent Bill Dillane says no call changes
are planned; it's just that the old "WEZN" identity
didn't mesh too well with the upbeat AC the station is playing
these days. WEZN's big competition is WEBE (107.9) in Westport.
*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
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 Fybush.com
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
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2006 by Scott Fybush.