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*Even as Clear Channel was making national headlines over the possibility that it might go private, the company quietly went through a "restructuring" on Friday that leaves several veteran employees in western NEW YORK out of work.

While the in-house memo that went out Friday afternoon said "these individuals have not been fired," we're not sure how else to describe the status of the five Clear Channel Radio employees in Rochester who are collecting severance pay and unemployment checks this week. Craig Kingcaid was the cluster's chief engineer; Susan Ashline had been reporting for WHAM (1180) for several years; Rob Jason had joined the WHAM news staff just last year after leaving the executive producer's slot at WROC-TV (Channel 8); Mike DiGiorgio was Bob Lonsberry's producer for his midday talk show; and Jonathan Wallace was in the promotions department. (Another veteran of the cluster, Dan Guilfoyle, left the sales department recently in what was apparently an unrelated move; we're also hearing that some of the remaining staffers may have some of their titles shuffled.)

The memo says the "restructured" employees will be encouraged to apply for jobs elsewhere in the company, including (we'd presume) the "many new positions (that) are being created during this restructure in an effort to continue to super-serve our advertising and listening community." It goes on to say "the positions being created will focus on our online products and will also include an expansion of our sales force."

And, oh yes - it reminds the remaining staffers that "those outside of our stations may not fully comprehend the changes that are taking place," and reminds them not to talk to the media, leaving that duty to the cluster's market manager. Since the news broke late on Friday, and NERW goes to press Sunday night, we've been unable to reach the local management; we'll be happy to report their comments in next week's issue.

*Longtime New York program director John Mainelli is returning to the PD chair, this time at CBS Radio's "Free FM" WFNY-FM (92.3). Mainelli, whose resume includes stops at WABC and WOR, was most recently the radio reporter for the New York Post - even while continuing to do consulting for talk radio around the country.

In Westchester County, Bill O'Shaughnessy is bringing a venerable callsign back to the airwaves. On Wednesday (Nov. 1), he'll flip WRTN (93.5 New Rochelle) to WVIP-FM, paying tribute to the late Martin Stone's WVIP in Mount Kisco, an erstwhile sister station to O'Shaughnessy's WVOX (1460). The WVIP calls are still in use on 1310 in Mount Kisco, though that station's now merely a simulcast of Spanish religious WWRV (1330 New York); the former WVIP-FM on 106.3 in Mount Kisco is now WFAF.

A long-overdue call change in the Syracuse market: WBGJ (100.3 Sylvan Beach) is now WWLF-FM, reflecting its status as part of the four-station Radio Disney simulcast that also includes WOLF (1490 Syracuse), WOLF-FM (96.7 Oswego) and WWLF (1340 Auburn). But wait - should that be a five-station Radio Disney simulcast? While checking for the new ID during a drive through Syracuse earlier in the week, we heard a fifth ID in there: WAMF (1300 Fulton), which has been silent for a while now. We haven't been back through during daylight hours to see whether WAMF's really on with Radio Disney now.

Up north, WRCD (101.5 Canton) was off the air for most of last week after suffering a transmitter fire. We're hearing it should be back on the air just about as you're reading this...

And here in Rochester, one of the founders of public broadcaster WXXI died last Sunday (Oct. 22). Harold Hacker was the driving force behind the creation of the "Rochester Area Educational Television Association," which provided programming to local commercial stations before putting WXXI-TV (Channel 21) on the air in 1966, and he remained involved with the station (and its radio offshoots) all his life. Hacker was also a former head of the local public library system. He was 90 years old.

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*Western MASSACHUSETTS' new sports station signed on right on schedule Thursday afternoon at 2, as Entercom put WVEI-FM (105.5 Easthampton) on the air from Mount Tom. Before the station's simulcast of WEEI (850 Boston) kicked in, it stunted for a few hours with readings from Dr. Seuss books, paying tribute to the author's hometown, Springfield. WVEI-FM will take the Red Sox broadcast rights from Springfield's WHYN (560) and Northampton's WHMP (1400) next season; the Sox will apparently continue on WHMP simulcast WHMQ (1240 Greenfield).

There's another new signal on the air in the Springfield area, too. WLCQ-LP (99.7 Feeding Hills) came on the air just south of Springfield on Sunday, broadcasting 27 watts of religion from a tower behind the Lighthouse Church in Agawam.

Two obituaries this week: former WHDH-TV/WCVB-TV (Channel 5) reporter Roger Goodrich died October 4, at 89. Goodrich worked in radio in Syracuse after graduating from college, then was one of the founding staffers at Rochester's WHEC-TV (Channel 10) in 1953. He moved to WHDH-TV in 1963, and remained with Channel 5 through the transition to WCVB, retiring in 1984 and returning to upstate New York. Goodrich was suffering from Parkinson's disease; he had been living in Ithaca at the time of his death. And of course, we can't leave the Bay State without noting the passing of Red Auerbach, who worked as a Celtics broadcaster in the late 1960s (on then-WKBG, channel 56) after 16 seasons as the team's coach, and leading into several decades as the team's general manager. Auerbach, who died Saturday in Washington, D.C., was 89.

*In CONNECTICUT, Chris Duggan arrives at WDAQ (98.3 Danbury) as PD/afternoon jock. Duggan, who was formerly PD at WWBX (97.1) in Bangor, MAINE, succeeds morning guy Bill Trotta in the PD chair at 98Q.

Meanwhile in Hartford, Nathan "Skillet" Halegua is the new night guy at WKSS (95.7), moving up from WSTO in Evansville, Indiana.

And up in the northwest corner of the state, WKZE (1020 Sharon) is about to change calls and format. After operating intermittently for the last few months with Air America talk, it'll be LMA'd beginning November 1 to Marshall Miles' Tri-State Public Communications, which will take the station noncommercial under new calls WHDD. Those stand for "Robin Hood Radio," the webcaster that Tri-State operates. Miles says WHDD will offer block programming, all of it local.

*Another new DTV signal is on the air in the Burlington, VERMONT market. WCAX-DT (Channel 53) signed on from Mount Mansfield about 2:30 PM on Wednesday. It won't be on that channel very long; when the big analog shutdown comes around in February 2009, WCAX-DT will move to channel 22, now occupied by the WVNY-TV analog signal. (And our engineer friends up there report there's already almost a foot of snow on Vermont's highest peak!)

Over at WXXX (95.5 South Burlington), afternoon jock/production guy Jeff Thomas departed last week. He's headed to Seattle, where he'll do imaging production for Entercom's cluster.

*In PENNSYLVANIA, Bob Domingo is the new PD at Erie's WTWF (93.9 Fairview), moving up I-90 from another nearby country signal, "Froggy" WGYY (100.3 Meadville).

Across the state in Reading, the former WRAW (1340) picked up the WKAP calls last month from 1470 in Allentown - and now it's picked up a format from 1470, too, as it flips from oldies to contemporary Christian and becomes "Praise 1340."

In Pittsburgh, WURP (1550 Braddock) has dropped "Imus in the Morning," replacing it with Air America's "Young Turks." And our friends at report that Pittsburgh's WDUQ (90.5) has brought its NPR news/jazz format to Johnstown, via new translator W263AW (100.5).

Following the bouncing call letters, Renda's 103.3 in Brookville (near Punxsutawney) becomes WKQL, taking the calls that were formerly on Renda's 100.7 in the Jacksonville, Florida market. That station becomes WMUV, grabbing the calls that Renda was warehousing on 103.3 in Brookville, which was originally WYTR (though it's been calling itself "Kool 103" for years, making the new WKQL calls a better fit anyway!)

*Speaking of bouncing call letters, Greater Media's not taking any chances with the WJJZ calls that it's putting on what's now WTHK (97.5 Burlington NJ) next month. It's parked them, temporarily, in central NEW JERSEY, where they replace WWTR on 1170 in Bridgewater. We'd expect that to be just a temporary move, anticipating the November 15 launch of WJJZ into the Philadelphia market on 97.5.

Greater also named a station manager for the new 97.5: Jim Brown moves up from general sales manager at sister station WMGK (102.9 Philadelphia).

(And we should mention, as several readers have reminded us, that the WJJZ calls have a history in the Philly market that goes back beyond their long run on 106.1, now WISX. For many years before that, WJJZ was 1460 in Mount Holly, N.J., an indirect ancestor to today's WWJZ 640 there.)

*It's the end of an era in Atlantic CANADA: CHNS (960) in Halifax, Nova Scotia is silent for good, now that Maritime Broadcasting System has completed its AM-to-FM conversion. CHNS-FM (89.9) signed on in July as classic rock "Hal FM." With the three-month simulcast period over, so is the run of CHNS on AM, which dated back to 1926.

My Broadcasting is amending its application for a new signal in Strathroy, Ontario (near London) to specify 105.7 instead of 91.1. CJRT Toronto, which operates on 91.1, had raised concerns about the use of that frequency at Strathroy. Now the only interference would be to (or from) WMJI in Cleveland, across Lake Erie - and the CRTC doesn't concern itself with interference to U.S. FM signals on Canadian soil.

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!)

October 31, 2005 -

  • While it may strike terror into the souls of classical music aficionados across Eastern New England, the news that Charles River Broadcasting has put its station group up for sale is anything but a Halloween prank. On Thursday, the company's board of directors agreed to hire Media Services Group to explore the sale of some or all of its five stations - classical outlets WCRB (102.5 Waltham), WFCC (107.5 Chatham) and WCRI (95.9 Block Island RI), as well as rocker WKPE (104.7 Orleans) and all-news WCNX (1180 Hope Valley RI). The board also brought in veteran manager Herb McCord (former head of the Granum group) to manage the stations while CEO Bill Campbell is on medical leave; McCord was already a member of the Charles River board.
  • WCRB's only one big headline in eastern MASSACHUSETTS this week, though. Up in Burlington, things got awfully quiet Thursday at WWZN (1510 Boston), where Sporting News Radio abruptly pulled the plug on the local programming it was originating at "1510 the Zone." At the end, that meant two shows for the struggling station: "The Diehards" and Eddie Andelman's afternoon show. The paid programming that was running on the weekends and some evenings (including high school football) will continue, as will three WWZN staffers, including Diehards Anthony Pepe and Jon Anik. A few moments of class marked the station's end: former GM Mike Winn, who's now with "ESPN Boston" WAMG/WLLH, was allowed to come back to WWZN for the last day there. And Andelman, whose history on Boston radio goes back 36 years, will get to do a farewell show Thursday (Nov. 3) from 2-4 PM.
  • Then there's Howard Stern, who took away whatever suspense still surrounded the question of his replacement on Tuesday, when he introduced David Lee Roth as his successor, starting January 3, 2006, on most of his East Coast Infinity-owned affiliates. In Boston, that means Roth will replace Stern on WBCN (104.1), but WBCN's rock format will continue for the rest of the day. That's not going to be the case on several other Stern stations - in particular, NEW YORK, where the end of the Stern show will also mean the end of "K-Rock" at WXRK (92.3). Stern has been a part of K-Rock since just a few months after it signed on in 1985. After he signs off in December 16, the rock will go as well - at least during the day - to replaced by the "Free FM" brand of talk that Infinity's launching in other big markets. So far, the only host confirmed for WXRK (besides Roth) is comedian/magician Penn Jillette.
  • In eastern PENNSYLVANIA, the end of the Stern show Tuesday was followed with the launch of "94.1 Free FM" on WYSP (94.1 Philadelphia). The new format had clearly been in the works for a while, since it launched with a relatively comprehensive schedule. The most notable addition is market veteran Paul Barsky, who resurfaces as the 10 AM-3 PM host (with former sidekick Vinnie the Crumb alongside him again.) Kidd Chris, already on WYSP, remains in afternoon drive. After 7 at night, the station will still be a rocker, with Couzin Ed moving to 7-10 PM and Matt and Huggy from 10-2. WYSP also brings a familiar Infinity face back to the market: Tom Bigby, who moved from WIP to KRLD in Dallas last year, returns as OM of "94.1 Free FM." Gil Edwards moves up from APD to PD.

October 29, 2001 -

  • The doors have been spinning in radio managers' offices all over MASSACHUSETTS this week, at two of the biggest clusters in Boston. We'll start at Clear Channel, where some old familiar faces are back on the job in the Waltham studios of WJMN (94.5 Boston). Just a few months after leaving the PD chair at "Jam'n" to take over the same seat at crosstown WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford), a bout of management consolidation has "Cadillac Jack" McCartney taking that job back. McCartney will now handle programming for both "Jam'n," with its urban-CHR sound, and "Kiss 108," Clear Channel's more mainstream entry in the CHR battle - a far cry from the old days, when the two stations (and WJMN predecessor WZOU) were bitter rivals. WJMN PD Dennis O'Heron stays with Clear Channel, becoming marketing director of both stations, while WXKS-FM music director Kid David adds the same duties at WJMN, displacing Michelle Williams, who departs the station.
  • But wait - there are changes on-air as well at "Jam'n," beginning with morning drive, where Baltazar is out of the morning show, replaced by afternoon drive jock Ramiro Torrez. Morning co-host Pebbles stays. And AllAccess reports that both stations will go voicetracked during overnights beginning January 1, 2002, thus also displacing WXKS' Chris Shine.
  • Religious satellator news: The "Living Proof" folks have managed to get their application for a new 91.7 in Lunenburg reinstated, which can't be good news for Boston's WUMB (though there's probably not much they can do to prevent the incursion into their chain of signals on 91.9 in Boston and Worcester and Maynard's WAVM on 91.7); meanwhile, down on Nantucket, a settlement finds "Broadcasting for the Challenged" yielding to "Nantucket Public Radio" for the 89.5 frequency there. That new station will run 78 watts vertical, 500 watts horizontal at 36 meters AAT from a stick on Swain Hill, a mile or so west of Nantucket village. (We're sure Nantucket fans of Boston's WGBH will be none too thrilled about this one...) 2006 Update - We were wrong about WUMB, which did find a way to keep Living Proof from doing too much damage to its signals. But we were mostly right about the WGBH fans on Nantucket; in the end, Nantucket Public Radio's WNCK on 89.5 ended up as a simulcast of WGBH for that very reason.
  • While we're down that way, we note the passing of one of Boston sports radio's most prolific callers. "Butch from the Cape," aka Thomas Speers, died October 17 of cancer. The former bar owner became a regular on WEEI when it went all-sports a decade ago, mocking the Red Sox and other Hub teams. Speers had lived in Connecticut before moving to the Cape, and was charged with harassment (though later acquitted) for making anti-Semitic calls to a radio host in Waterbury; he also served prison time for running gambling rings in the Nutmeg State. Speers, who had been honored by WEEI when he disclosed his illness last year (in an event called "Butchiepalooza"), was 58.
  • Two call changes from VERMONT and NEW HAMPSHIRE: WCFR-FM (93.5 Springfield VT) changes calls to WXKK, to match country simulcast "Kixx" partner WXXK (100.5 Lebanon NH), while the WCFR-FM calls pop up across the Connecticut River at the former WLPL (96.3 Walpole NH), which in turn simulcasts oldies WWOD (104.3 Hartford VT).
  • Just to add to the simulcast fun: WMXR (93.9 Woodstock), which had been simulcasting country with the Springfield station, has dropped out of that format in favor of a simulcast with classic rock WVRR (101.7 Newport NH).

New England Radio Watch, October 29-31, 1996

  • After 52 years of radio and 70 years of a full life, Norm Nathan passed away on Tuesday night, October 29, at his home in Middleton, Massachusetts. Norm was not only one of the finest broadcasters New England has ever known, but he was also a colleague and, I'm proud to say, a friend. I trust NERW readers will understand if I depart from the usual rundown of news items and indulge in some remembrances of Norm.
  • Over the years, Norm came to find himself as the last of the breed, as colleagues such as Jess Cain, Dave Maynard, and Larry Glick left radio or went into semi-retirement. I know Norm was crushed when his old radio home, WHDH, disappeared from the airwaves in August 1994, especially when he found out the last noise heard on the station was a toilet flushing. In the end, Norm's show sat alone even on WBZ. At the end of a week filled with hard news and the political, hard-edged talk of David Brudnoy and Bob Raleigh, Norm's show was where we all went for a soft chuckle, a smile, and the feeling that there was somebody out there who just wanted to cheer you up.
  • There's something more than a little bit eerie about the timing of Norm's death. For the last few months, WBZ has been in the process of moving out of its old studios, and into a new facility on the other side of the building. The new studios are cleaner, brighter, and better-equipped...but I will never picture Norm anywhere other than in the dark, somewhat musty old talk studio. It was just a few days ago that they finished tearing out the guts of that studio, and it was unsettling to walk into that familiar room and find only an empty physical space. Suddenly, it's not merely physically empty; there's a huge spiritual hole there too. It's 2 A.M. as I write this; Norm's time of the night. This was the hour when he hit his stride, making life a little brighter for listeners all along the path of BZ's booming signal. Norm's producer, Tony Nesbitt, found the right phrase on BZ tonight, when he talked about "a hole 38 states wide." So did another colleague, who asked simply, "What will I listen to now?" Out there in the vast corporate world that's radio in the 1990s, there are still a few remnants left of a simpler time, in the days before shock jocks and satellites, when a jazz record and a joke could be the foundation for a half-century of great radio. We've just lost one of the best. Goodbye, old sport.
  • There's one fewer silent AM station in Massachusetts this week, with the return to the airwaves of Worcester's WNEB (1230). The station has been silent since 1991, but it signed back on last Thursday (Oct. 24) under the ownership of Bob Bittner, who also owns WJIB (740) Cambridge and recently sold WKBR (1250) in Manchester NH. WNEB uses 947 watts, non-directional, from the old tower site on Worcester's west side, near Chandler Street. Programming for now is largely a simulcast of WJIB's beautiful-music, although plans include Spanish-language broadcasts at night.
  • With WNEB's return, only two AMs in Massachusetts remain silent, and in danger of losing their licenses in February: WBIV (1060) in Natick and WCEG (1530) in Middleborough.
  • In business news, SFX Broadcasting's Hartford group has hit near-maximum size with last week's purchase of WWYZ (92.5 Waterbury). "Country 92.5" was owned by the Gilmore family, who will keep their WATR (1320) in Waterbury, along with $25.25 million of SFX's cash. SFX's Hartford properties include WKSS (95.7, CHR), WHCN (105.9, classic rock), WMRQ (104.1 Waterbury, modern rock), and WPOP (1410, mews-talk). The company also owns WPKX (97.9 Enfield CT) in the Springfield MA market and WPLR (99.1) New Haven, which has an LMA with Yale University's WYBC (94.3).
  • Boston University's public radio station is about to expand its reach on Cape Cod. WBUR (90.9) already simulcasts most of its programming on three small Cape noncomms, WSDH (91.5) at Sandwich High School, WKKL (90.7) at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, and WCCT (90.3) at Cape Cod Voc-Tech in Harwich. Now WBUR is buying car dealer Ernie Boch's WUOK (1240) in West Yarmouth. WUOK has been simulcasting sister FM WXTK (94.9) for a year or so...but it can trace its roots all the way back as the Cape's oldest station, WOCB.

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*It's here! As seen in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Omaha World-Herald and the Chicago Sun-Times, Tower Site Calendar 2007 is now shipping!

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!

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.