December 18, 2006
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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.
(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 its 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
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...)
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 stations...so 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
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!)
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
- 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."
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- 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
- 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"....
*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 Fybush.com
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
2006 by Scott Fybush.