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*As Clear Channel prepares to transition to private ownership, it's quietly putting one of its biggest NEW YORK stations on the market.

WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue) came into what would become Clear Channel in October 1994, when Chancellor Media bought the station (and its sister station, WALK 1370) as part of its acquisition of American Media. As Chancellor evolved into AMFM and ultimately into Clear Channel, WALK became a Long Island sister station to Clear Channel's five-FM cluster in New York City, eventually sharing much of its management with the New York cluster.

Under the old multiple-ownership rules, that combination of station was acceptable, since WALK-FM's Suffolk County-based signal didn't overlap primary contours with the New York FMs. But under the current ownership rules, which are based on Arbitron markets, there's a problem: while WALK-FM is in the "Nassau/Suffolk" market, that market is embedded in the larger New York market. And rather than testing whether or not the privatization of Clear Channel might allow WALK-FM's grandfathered status to continue, Clear Channel is opting to make its license transfers as smooth as possible, shedding several stations around the country that are in the same ownership bind as WALK-FM.

But WALK-FM won't go at a fire-sale price. As the dominant AC station in a lucrative suburban market, and as one of only two Class B FM signals that reach the entire Nassau-Suffolk market, we're hearing that the price tag on WALK-FM is somewhere north of $100 million (with a few bucks in there for the AM operation as well) - and that there are already interested buyers, including at least one former owner looking to re-enter the region.

Clear Channel's apparently eager to complete its license transfers to the new private ownership as quickly as possible, which means the sale process at WALK could move quickly. Stay tuned...

*Over at CBS Radio's "Jack" WCBS-FM (101.1 New York), Jennifer Donohue has been promoted from general sales manager to VP/GM. She'll also continue to oversee sales at sister stations WFNY-FM (92.3 Free FM) and WNEW (Mix 102.7).

Speaking of Free FM, there are some lineup changes coming there after the New Year. Comedian Nick DiPaolo, who's done some fill-in work there, will take the noon-3 PM slot, cutting JV and Elvis back to three hours from 9-noon. (DiPaolo will be heard next week from 1-3 PM as he eases into the shift, pushing Penn Jillette back to a temporary 7 PM start time.)

Jillette's Las Vegas-based hour apparently moves still later into the evening once the new schedule's finalized, as it appears that Ron and Fez will be doing a 6-9 PM shift on Free FM alongside their daily XM Satellite Radio show. (And one more WFNY-FM note: operations manager Mike Peer is heading to Salt Lake City, where he'll take over as PD of modern rock KENZ next month.)

The New York Yankees are staying put on WCBS (880) for five more years. The team's new deal with the CBS Radio all-news station is reportedly worth $70 million, a 17% increase from the previous contract between the team and the station. (And in a bit of good news for Red Sox fans still figuring out how to pronounce "Daisuke," there's word that the Yankees won't be replacing the Sox on WTIC 1080 in Hartford, which means Sox fans west of the Boston area will still be able to hear the team most nights next season.)

There's a new date for the demise of the old WOR (710 New York) tower site in Lyndhurst, NEW JERSEY. Those three towers, which came within minutes of demolition on September 20 before local police pulled the plug on the destruction, will come down for real on January 11 at 11 AM. (And yes, we'll be on hand, once again, to document the demolition.)

In Buffalo, it's the end of the line for Air America and the rest of the progressive talk format at WHLD (1270 Niagara Falls). Niagara Independent Media, which leased WHLD's airtime from Citadel beginning in early February to carry its talk lineup, says it couldn't keep the station afloat. In a message posted to the WHLD website Sunday night, station founder Brian Brown-Cashdollar wrote, "Start-ups face a huge up hill battle to get established, and it’s almost unheard of for a start up to launch a station with a format as expensive as the news/talk format." Niagara Independent Media had been leasing time on WHLD to broadcast "Democracy Now" before launching the full-fledged format, and the show will continue to be heard there on weekday afternoons at 1, in addition to a morning airing on sister station WBBF (1120 Buffalo). What now for WHLD? Expect a return to the leased-time ethnic programming that had been heard there before February.

As for progressive talk in Buffalo, it continues - for now - on Entercom's WWKB (1520), which has a lineup with no Air America content, instead using several Jones Radio hosts and "local" (albeit broadcasting from Los Angeles) talker Leslie Marshall. But Brown-Cashdollar says WWKB is considering dropping the format, too. He's asking former WHLD listeners and advertisers to contact WWKB with offers of support.

There's no lack of support for the Buffalo Sabres at Entercom. The company signed a new five-year deal last week to keep the team on WGR (550) through the 2011-2012 season. (Will there be a Stanley Cup in the Sabres' trophy case by then?)

On the Buffalo TV dial, Susan Banks said farewell to WKBW (Channel 7) viewers at the end of Wednesday night's 11 PM newscast, just a day after she announced her plans to leave the station and start an image consulting business. Banks came to WKBW in 1977, left in 1981, and returned in 1990.

WKBW may have some bigger problems to deal with - its parent company, Granite Broadcasting, announced last week that it's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Granite has been on the edge, financially, for several years, but the company says the last straw was the demise of the WB network, which left its two biggest stations, in Detroit and San Francisco, without an affiliation and without buyers. Granite's other upstate New York holdings are WTVH (Channel 5) in Syracuse and new acquisition WBNG (Channel 12) in Binghamton; the company says it has no plans for changes at its stations as it restructures.

In Rochester, WPXY (97.9) late-night jock Alicia is heading west: she's half of the new morning team at KOSO (93.1 Patterson) in the Modesto, California market.

Sports talk is coming to Albany's FM dial today, as Regent continues to shuffle its Capital District radio lineup. With hot AC "Buzz" successfully transplanted to the new WBZZ (105.7 Malta), its former home at WABT (104.5 Mechanicville) will flip today to ESPN Radio, picking up that format from Regent's "Team 1300" WTMM (1300 Rensselaer). What next for the 1300 signal? We're hearing a strong buzz (or is that the wrong word?) that Greenstone Media's new female-oriented talk format could be coming to the AM side early in 2007.

From the obituary pages: Tom Gregory, who brought the catchphrase, "It's 10 PM. Do you know where your children are?" to the newscasts at New York's WNEW-TV (Channel 5) in the sixties, died last Monday (Dec. 11) in Florida. Gregory, who was 79, introduced the phrase to WNEW's "Faces and Places in the News," and it stayed in place when that broadcast became "The Ten O'Clock News" in 1967. (It's still used today, in the station's present incarnation as WNYW.) Before his days as a Channel 5 newsman, Gregory was a station announcer and children's show host. He retired to the announcer booth at Channel 5 after a violent mugging left him severely scarred, and he moved to Sarasota six years ago.

Here in Rochester, veteran sportswriter and broadcaster George Beahon died last Monday (Dec. 11) at age 86. Beahon began writing for the Democrat and Chronicle in 1941 and remained with the paper until 1969. After a few years doing PR for a local racetrack, Beahon joined WOKR (Channel 13, now WHAM-TV) in 1973, later moving to WROC-TV (Channel 8) before returning to newspapering at the now-defunct Times-Union in 1979. Beahon retired in 1984, but is still fondly remembered in town for his signoff line, "And that's as far as I go."

And a technical obituary: as of earlier this month, the venerable cart machine is a thing of the past at CBS Radio News in New York. (What, we wonder, will become of the stack of pre-recorded obituary pieces sitting on carts atop the filing cabinets in a corner of the newsroom?)

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*In MASSACHUSETTS, the Red Sox have made a change in their radio booth for the 2007 season: Jerry Trupiano is out after 13 years alongside Joe Castiglione. In his place, there'll be three voices in the booth, as Castiglione is joined by Dave O'Brien (who's called games for the Braves, Mets and Marlins in addition to his work for ESPN) and by Sox PR chief Glenn Geffner (who's also called games for the Padres - and, as we fondly remember here in Rochester, the AAA Red Wings...)

New WBZ (1030) morning host Ed Walsh made his on-air debut at the station last week, appearing with Gary LaPierre as part of the transition from LaPierre's four-decade reign in morning drive to Walsh's debut January 2. LaPierre's sign-off from morning drive will take place December 29, and we'll be listening.

Speaking of sign-offs, tonight will mark the finale of "The Ten O'Clock News" on WLVI (Channel 56), ending 22 years of prime-time news from Morrissey Boulevard, and putting 150 people out of work as the station changes hands from Tribune to Sunbeam, which will launch a new 10 PM newscast produced by WHDH-TV (Channel 7) on Tuesday. The last word from Morrissey Boulevard, after anchors Karen Marinella and Frank Mallicoat say their farewells, will come from commentator Jack Hynes, who was WLVI's 10 PM anchor for most of its news history.

Another farewell, at the other end of the state: veteran Springfield sportscaster Jack O'Neill died Friday. O'Neill was still in his teens when he started his career at WHMP in Northampton, and by the age of 20 he was doing sports on WHYN radio and television, moving back and forth over the years between the TV station (now WGGB) and the radio station. In later years, O'Neill was heard on WPKX (97.9) and most recently on WMAS (1450/94.7). O'Neill also worked for a time as director of the local convention bureau and as a development official at Springfield Technical Community College. He was 58 years old.

And after its brief attempt to use the calls "WBZB" was quashed by a cease-and-desist letter from a certain nearby station whose calls also start with "WBZ," WBET (1460 Brockton) once again has new calls: WXBR. Both sets of calls were meant to convey the idea of "Business Radio," which is what the new ownership, Business Talk Radio, will be doing with the signal.

*The Clear Channel ax keeps swinging in RHODE ISLAND: out at WHJJ (920 Providence) are producer Maria DeCristoforo, who'd been behind the scenes at the Helen Glover talk show, as well as afternoon news anchor Bill Trifiro. Afternoon news for WHJJ will come from Clear Channel's regional news hub at WSYR in Syracuse, New York, where they may know how to pronounce "Skaneateles," but what about "Woonasquatucket"? (They'll have to learn more than that over in Syracuse pretty soon - the WSYR news hub will also be doing afternoon news for the Clear Channel cluster in northwest New Jersey, and they'll be doing traffic from Syracuse for several markets, including Albany, in the near future.)

*Our best wishes to CONNECTICUT morning newscaster Beth Bradley, who revealed in a recent posting to the WDRC-FM (102.9 Hartford) website that she suffered a heart attack in October and is now off the air awaiting a heart transplant.

*As Clear Channel gets ready to sell its stations in VERMONT, it's made more cutbacks at its Burlington cluster: WVTK (Kiss 92.1) morning jock Jag, WCPV (Champ 101.3) middayer Mel Allen and WEZF (92.9) middayer Jen Foxx are all out of work.

Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA already has three all-Christmas why is WEAE (1250) promoting a plan to jump from its ESPN Radio format to Christmas music on Tuesday morning? We'll see soon...more in next week's NERW. (And yes, we'll be here next Monday with whatever news we can glean from this holiday-shortened week. There won't be a regular NERW on January 1, 2007, though - instead, we'll bring you our Year in Review 2006 special edition.)

While we're in Pittsburgh, congratulations to longtime Friend of NERW Marshall Adams, who's promoted from news director at KDKA (1020) to the new post of Director of News and Talk Programming.

In Philadelphia, WMGK (102.9) is looking for a new PD, as Cruze takes off for a new gig (starting January 2) as PD of WWDC-FM (101.1) in Washington, DC. (Cruze's resume also includes a stint at New England's WFNX network.)

*In CANADA, Ted Woloshyn is out as morning host at CFRB (1010 Toronto) after just over a decade on the job, where he replaced legendary morning veteran Wally Crouter. Woloshyn, whose career included earlier morning gigs at CFNY (102.1) and CILQ (Q107), says he wants to spend more time with his family. Bill Carroll will join Jane Brown on CFRB's morning show.

We're not sure we buy the argument about "increased electrical interference" to a high-power FM signal, but in any event, CKPC-FM (92.1 Brantford) has been granted a power boost from 50 kW to 80 kW. NERW suspects the real idea is to mitigate any interference CKPC-FM will eventually receive on the eastern edge of its signal from the new 92.1 allottment in Amherst, NY, near Buffalo.

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!)

December 19, 2005 -

  • The future of one of eastern MASSACHUSETTS' most powerful FM signal is a little clearer this week - but Greater Media's announcement that it's entered into exclusive negotiations to buy WCRB (102.5 Waltham) from Charles River Broadcasting raises just as many questions as it's likely to answer.
  • The answers, first: Charles River's decision to sit down at the table with Greater Media closes the book (most likely) on several months of talks with potential buyers that included Clear Channel, Entercom, Infinity, Marlin and, reportedly, the Boston Red Sox. Neither Clear Channel nor Infinity has said anything publicly about what their intentions for 102.5 would have been. Marlin's Woody Tanger says he would have kept WCRB's classical format, but his bid, in the $60 million range, fell far short of Charles River's target. Entercom's Julie Kahn told Boston media outlets that she would have moved the rock format of WAAF (107.3 Worcester) to 102.5 and kept classical alive on 107.3. The Sox would no doubt have created a sports station on the frequency, in what would have been a major challenge to Entercom's market-dominating WEEI.
  • So what will Greater Media do with the full-market 102.5 signal, if it's able to complete a deal with Charles River (likely for an amount somewhere north of $90 million)? The company's already at the FCC-imposed limit of five FM signals in the Boston market. Four of those are full-market signals, transmitting from the Prudential Tower (WBOS 92.9, WTKK 96.9, WROR 105.7 and WMJX 106.7). The fifth - and the one Greater Media would no doubt spin off if it acquires WCRB - is country WKLB (99.5 Lowell), which transmits from Andover, with an excellent signal over Boston's northern suburbs, the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire, but without the reach into Boston or the western and southern suburbs that Greater Media would like to have.
  • So it's likely that WKLB's country music would come to rest at 102.5 on the dial (with classical music continuing on the HD Radio subchannel there, if Charles River gets its wish), and that 99.5 would then hit the market - and what then? That 99.5 signal may not be full-market for Boston, but that hardly makes it undesirable - in fact, it's not hard to imagine it bringing a price even higher than the $60 million or so Tanger would have paid for 102.5, which in turn means that 99.5 is unlikely to end up as a classical station when the dust settles. (It doesn't help that the 99.5 signal is weakest in many of the areas where WCRB's listenership was strongest; can you run a Boston classical station that can't be heard at Symphony Hall?) (2006 update: We got half of it right, anyway...)

December 17, 2001 -

  • When the CBC went up for license renewal last year, it promised the CRTC that it would make big improvements in the distribution of its "chaîne culturelle" French-language radio service (the equivalent of the English-language Radio Two.) Now the Corporation has filed a whole slew of applications for new "chaîne culturelle" transmitters across Canada, fulfilling its promise to bring the service to each provincial capital. The applications include transmitters in Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Calgary out west, adding to the already-licensed service in Winnipeg and (not yet on the air) in Vancouver.
  • One of our favorite specialty shows in MASSACHUSETTS has changed radio homes yet again. Barry Scott's "Lost 45s" made the move to Infinity's Oldies 103 (WODS 103.3 Boston) this past Sunday, airing from 7-11 PM weekly. That's the good news; the bad news is that Little Walter's Sunday night show featuring 50s oldies has been pulled from the WODS schedule again. Scott's show has made nearly the grand tour of the Boston FM dial, having started years ago on the noncommercial side (at WERS, if we're not mistaken), with stops along the way at WBOS, the former WEGQ (now WQSX), WBMX and most recently at WROR.
  • There was big news on the AM dial in Boston, too; Eddie Andelman and WEEI (850 Boston) parted ways after a run there that lasted more than a decade. Andelman was part of the original all-sports format that debuted on WEEI, then on 590, in the fall of 1991. (Before that, he had been with the old 850, WHDH, for more than a decade; he would return to the 850 dial position when WEEI moved there in 1994.) What's next for Andelman? The hot rumor has him moving to the Sporting News Radio outlet, WWZN (1510), where he might face off against Dale Arnold, who co-hosted the 10 AM to 2 PM "A Team" show with him for six years and continues solo in that slot on WEEI. Any such move isn't likely to take place until next March, when Andelman's WEEI contract expires. There have also been rumors about interest in Andelman from FM talker WTKK (96.9), which has been taking on more of a sports focus lately; that seems more plausible than suggestions that Andelman could land at WBZ, which doesn't have a hole in its weekday schedule for sports talk.
  • A veteran PENNSYLVANIA afternoon jock is looking for new employment this week. After a decade at Harrisburg's "Wink 104" (WNNK 104.1), Bruce Bond was let go from the Cumulus outlet last Monday (Dec. 10). Bond actually predates the WNNK calls on 104.1, having started there in 1983 when the station was WTPA-FM and continuing there until a brief detour to New Orleans in 1991 and 1992. WNNK won't talk about the reasons for the dismissal; a note on Bond's own Web site reads "I've always asked WINK to fire me...I guess I got my wish."

New England Radio Watch, December 16, 1996

  • Boston's "Business 590," WBNW, ended a two and a half year broadcast run Sunday night at 11:57, in the most inconspicuous way possible. Just seconds into a Bloomberg network feature, the audio faded down and was replaced by the programming of Salem's WEZE (1260). To the strains of the Doobie Brothers' "Jesus is Just Alright," the new "Family 590" presented a short montage of its programming and a welcoming message from the program director. Once the simulcast between 1260 and 590 ends, and the WEZE calls officially shift to 590 (which is still legally WBNW for now), 1260 will become "Praise 1260," running Christian contemporary music.
  • Ridgefield, Connecticut's WREF (850) is about to be sold. Owner Arthur Liu called a staff meeting last Friday to announce that the entire staff was being fired, and that starting December 30, WREF will be operating under an LMA with WLAD(AM)/WDAQ(FM) in neighboring Danbury. WLAD/WDAQ's owners, Berkshire Broadcasting, will eventually buy WREF from Liu. In the meantime, word has it WREF will be simulcasting WLAD's programming.
  • An NERW excursion to Hartford, Connecticut over the weekend turned up a most unusual unlicensed operation. "Praise 105.3" is one of the slickest pirates we've ever heard, complete with professional-sounding liners and promos...and an all-gospel format! The signal strength seemed to place the station somewhere north of downtown, but obviously with at least several hundred watts of power, since its stereo signal could be heard throughout the metro area. We heard it east as far as Vernon, north to Windsor, and south to Newington. Anyone know who's behind this station? Also heard running unlicensed was an 87.9 in downtown Hartford, apparently running just a few watts and rebroadcasting home shopping television programming.
  • Elmo Mania Grips Hub: That furry red giggling fellow is being auctioned by several Boston stations. WROR (105.7) already unloaded its Elmo, for $3000. WEGQ (93.7) auctioned an Elmo on the air last Friday morning. And over at WBZ-TV (Channel 4), there'll be an Elmo for auction during tomorrow night's Childrens Hospital Telethon, courtesy of sports guy Bob Lobel. Here at NERW, we much prefer the promotion being run by WXBB (105.3 Kittery, Maine). This station is inviting its listeners in the Portsmouth NH area to bring in their unwanted fruitcakes...and launch them into the air from a catapult! (or perhaps a "fruitcake-a-pult"?) Listeners will be judged on accuracy, distance, and style. Perhaps the logical conclusion of all this should be the "Elmo-pult"....

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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.