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February 12, 2007

Barber out, DePetro in at WPRO


*If you ever had any doubt that radio's a fickle business - and that RHODE ISLAND is a particularly insular place - just ask Dave Barber. A year ago, the talk host left the Flint, Michigan market after more than a quarter of a century there, bound for Providence to take over Steve Kass' former 9-11:45 AM shift on WPRO (630).

As of Wednesday, Barber's out of that shift, and out of WPRO, as the station brings John DePetro back to Providence to take over mid-mornings. DePetro made his name in Rhode Island across town at WHJJ (920 Providence), before leaving in 2004 to do mid-mornings at Boston's WRKO. That gig, of course, ended disastrously last fall when the station fired DePetro after a series of anti-gay slurs (not to mention weak ratings), and now DePetro's returning to a less hostile market, where he'll presumably be a little more careful with his choice of language.

What now for Barber? The Flint Journal, reporting that WPRO had replaced Barber with a "Jerry DePetro," says it's not clear whether the Rhode Island native will now return to Michigan radio. (He was last heard at Flint's WWCK 1570 before taking the job at WPRO.)

There are changes coming on the TV dial in Providence, too: CBS is selling CW affiliate WLWC (Channel 28) to Cerberus Capital Management, as part of a $185 million deal that also sheds TV stations in Austin, Salt Lake City and West Palm Beach from the CBS umbrella. Whatever else happens to New Bedford-licensed WLWC, it'll need a new master control: right now, it's operated from the WBZ-TV studios in Boston, with only a sales office in Providence. (NERW wouldn't be at all surprised to see WLWC end up back in an LMA with one of the city's other commercial stations; back when the station signed on a decade or so ago, it was operated by NBC affiliate WJAR and even carried a WJAR-produced newscast for a while.)

There's jazz music on the Providence AM dial for the moment, as WAKX (102.7 Narragansett Pier) is simulcasting for now on WALE (990). No word yet on whether that's just a temporary deal, or as permanent as anything on 990 can be.

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*Over at DePetro's former station in MASSACHUSETTS, there's change in the air, too. Scott Allen Miller did his last morning show at WRKO (680 Boston) on Friday, and he's now looking for a new gig, even soliciting career advice from his audience. Replacing him as of this morning, of course, is former state House speaker Tom Finneran. With only some fill-in talk gigs in his past, does the radio novice have what it takes to hold an audience day in and day out in one of the toughest talk markets in the country? We'll be listening...

WCVB (Channel 5) anchor Ed Harding has probably been getting a bit more broadcast experience than anyone should have, anchoring the station's 11 PM newscast and then returning a few hours later for the 5 AM "Eye Opener" show, day in and day out for the last few years. Now he's getting a well-deserved break, moving off the Eye Opener to take over the 5 and 5:30 PM newscasts from Anthony Everett, as well as joining Natalie Jacobson at 6. (NERW wonders when the other "Iron Man" of NERW-land, Doug Emblidge of Rochester's WHAM-TV, will get off an even more punishing schedule, in which he anchors the 5-9 AM newscast on WHAM and its sister CW outlet, then returns for the 5-6 PM show.)

Everett, meanwhile, takes on full-time hosting duties at WCVB's "Chronicle" magazine show. ("Chronicle" producer/videographer Art Donahue has been hard at work for the last few weeks on an upcoming show all about New England radio, including a visit to NERW Central; we'll let you know when it's airing as soon as we find out!)

News from pirate land: Gary Toussaint of Mattapan never followed up with the information he promised the FCC after being hit with a $10,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for illegal operation of "Choice FM" on 102.9 in Boston - and now that NAL has turned into a forfeiture order. "Choice FM" remains on the air, at last check, though its website offers the station for sale (complete with "entertainment license," whatever that is.)

Meanwhile, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau didn't waste much time catching up with another high-profile pirate. It seems agents visited "Touch 106.1" back on January 11, more than a week before the Globe article that put the station in the spotlight, and ordered it off the air within ten days. It, too, was still on the air at last check.

In Lowell, the Spinners (New York-Penn League affiliate of the Red Sox) are moving stations next year, decamping from WCAP (980) to crosstown WLLH (1400). No word yet on who'll call the games this year on WLLH.

Heading west, Neal Mirsky's contract is up as PD of Saga's WAQY (102.1 Springfield)/WLZX (99.3 Northampton), and the stations are now looking for a replacement.

In the Berkshires, WBEC-FM (95.9 Pittsfield) segues from hot AC to "bright AC," moving Mollie Blue from nights to middays and installing John Tesh at night. ("Live 95.9" also adds Jim Brickman's syndicated weekend show.)

*There's baseball news from NEW HAMPSHIRE as well, where the Manchester-based Fisher Cats move from WTPL (107.7 Hillsborough) to Clear Channel's WGIR (610 Manchester) in a three-year deal that will also simulcast the games on WGIN (930 Rochester) and WGIP (1540 Exeter), at least until sunset.

*The revolving door keeps spinning in CONNECTICUT, where former WBLI/WPDH jock Reno is already on the way out at Cox's WEZN-FM (99.9 Bridgeport) after just a few months. NERW hears that Reno will spend the next month on the afternoon shift at "Star 99.9" before departing the station, and that current afternoon jock/production director Mike McGowan will take over mornings, which will become even more music-intensive than they already are. Also out in the transition is morning producer Ben Churchill, who exited Friday.

*There's some high-profile revolving-door action this week in NEW YORK, too, including big changes at both of the hip-hop stations in Market #1.

At Emmis' WQHT (97.1), there's a smooth changing of the guard in the PD chair, as John Dimick departs after three years to become VP/programming and operations for Lincoln Financial Media down in North Carolina. Replacing Dimick is his second-in-command, as Ibrahim "Ebro" Darden moves up from APD/MD to PD at "Hot 97."

Uptown at Clear Channel's "Power 105.1" (WWPR), Ed Lover moves from afternoons to morning drive, filling out a cast that already includes Egypt, Donnel Rawlings and Ashy.

There's a changing of the morning guard at SBS' WSKQ (97.9), too, as Juan Carlos (formerly of WPAT-FM and Orlando's WNUE) and Frankie Jay (from WXYX/WXLX in Puerto Rico) become the new hosts of "El Vacilon de la Manana," replacing Luis Jimenez, who'll return to New York radio next year on Univision's WCAA.

CBS Radio's "Fresh FM" (WWFS 102.7) has a new midday jock, as Heather Walters moves north from KHPT in Houston. Is a new morning show next?

Heading upstate, Redeemer Broadcasting (WFSO 88.3 Olivebridge) is adding a signal, as it buys translator W214AH (90.7 Jefferson Heights/Catskill) from Christian Media Associates for $1.

Here in Rochester, Kelly McKay has exited mornings at Crawford's WRCI (102.7 Webster), with production manager/midday guy Ben Martin taking the shift for now, Peter Quartieri handling middays and PD Mark Shuttleworth covering McKay's music director duties. (And we wonder what listeners to Crawford's handful of secular stations, like standards WLGZ in Rochester, are making of the company's new mandate that inserts hourly religious messages on all its stations?)

In Buffalo, Jim "Rosey" Rosenhaus is moving on after 11 seasons as play-by-play announcer for Bisons baseball. He's heading west on I-90 to Cleveland, where he'll become the new pregame host and broadcast producer for the last-place Indians. (What - that's not the team's full name? And here we thought there was finally something we Sox fans could agree with those Yankee-lovers and Jays fans about...)

In Binghamton, former WLTB/WMXW jock Tejay Schwartz has landed a new gig. He starts today as morning host at Equinox Broadcasting's new WRRQ (106.7 Windsor), and he'll be doing imaging for the company's other stations, WCDW in Binghamton and WMTT/WPHD in Elmira, as well.

Two obituaries in Binghamton conclude our news from the Carousel City this week: Bob Buchanan who died Wednesday (Feb. 7) at 73, came to WNBF-TV (Channel 12) as a reporter in 1967, but soon settled in as the station's weatherman. He remained a Channel 12 fixture as the station became WBNG-TV, and retired from the station in 1998.

And Steve Miller, who died suddenly last Sunday at 54, started his engineering career in radio at WCDL in Carbondale, PA and WKSB/WRAK in Williamsport, PA before settling in at Binghamton's WICZ-TV, where he spent 21 years as chief engineer. Miller was also the treasurer of Binghamton's SBE Chapter 1.

*In PENNSYLVANIA, Pittsburgh morning veteran Jim Quinn has added another station to his syndication network. The "Quinn and Rose Show," on a 13-hour delay, replaces Michael Savage in the 7-10 PM slot on WAEB (790 Allentown), pushing Savage to tape delay at 10 PM.

Philadelphia talk veteran Irv Homer has parted ways with his most recent broadcast home, suburban WBCB (1490 Levittown-Fairless Hills).

Greater Media's WPEN (950 Philadelphia) has completed its daytime power upgrade, boosting its signal from its southwest Philadelphia daytime site from 5 kW to 25 kW and giving the sports station more punch to the east. WPEN moved its night signal out to the WWDB (860) site a few years back, increasing post-sunset power to 21 kW.

Speaking of Philly signals, CW affiliate WPSG (Channel 57) should finally be back at full power after repairing antenna damage that knocked it to low power around the holidays late last year. NERW hears a helicopter was busy over the weekend airlifting a new antenna to the top of WPSG's Roxborough tower.

In York, WSOX (96.1 Red Lion) morning co-host Bob Rudy is out, leaving Dave Crockett in place on the renamed "Mad Dog and Rudy" show.

In Pittsburgh, former WWSW morning co-host Cris Winter has moved across town (or at least a few minutes across Green Tree), becoming midday host at Renda's WSHH (99.7).

And in Erie, WFNN (1330) returns Don Imus to its morning drive, a month after he was dropped in the shuffle that took 1330 from sports to oldies.

*In NEW JERSEY, Terrie Carr takes over next week as the new PD of "G-Rock Radio" (WHTG-FM 106.3 Eatontown/WBBO 106.5 Bass River Township). Carr was most recently with New York's WAXQ and Sirius, but she spent six years before that as PD of WDHA (105.5 Dover).

And former WCBS-FM jock Bob Shannon has a new weekend airshift: he's now heard Saturdays 11-3 and Sundays noon-4 on "The Breeze," WWZY (107.1 Long Branch)/WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton).

*There's yet another new station coming on the air in CANADA's largest market, as Evanov begins testing its new 50-watt signal on 103.9. The new station will be called "Proud FM," and while it's boasting of being North America's first gay radio station, that's not quite true - there was a pair of AMs in Seattle a few years back, among others. Mary Jo Eustace and Ken Kostick will be the new station's morning hosts, with former CKFM producer "Bingo Bob" on board as their producer.

In Cambridge, Ontario, CJDV (107.5 Dave FM) applies to boost power from its current 2.5 kW to 20 kW DA (6.8 kW average ERP)/68.9 meters.

In northern Quebec, Radio-Canada is applying for a new relay for its CHLM (90.7 Rouyn-Noranda), with 4.29 kW/54.5 m on 100.7 in La Sarre.

On TV, "Sun TV" (CKXT Toronto) is applying for two new relays, one in London on analog channel 26/digital channel 19 and another in Ottawa on analog 54/DTV 62. And the CRTC has approved a new digital cable channel in the Niagara region. "Niagara News TV" will provide local news to an area that's long been underserved in that respect.

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!)

February 6, 2006 -

  • It was just a few hours after last week's NERW went up on the site when the phone began ringing off the hook here at NERW Central. "Quick! Turn on 1520! KB's dropping oldies at 3," was the message - and with that, western NEW YORK was launched on that oddest of early 21st century radio battles: a liberal talk war.
  • The impetus, of course, is today's "soft launch" of a mixture of Air America and local talk on WHLD (1270 Niagara Falls), under an LMA from Citadel. (The full program schedule at WHLD, including Ray Marks' local morning show, will apparently launch March 1.) And whether it's been in the works for months (as Entercom claims), or whether it was hurriedly whipped together in a matter of days, Entercom's reaction was to pull the plug on the struggling oldies format at WWKB (1520 Buffalo) with no more fanfare than an hour of "goodbye" tunes - and then head right into the launch of "Buffalo's Left Channel."
  • The lineup on the new 1520 begins with Jones' Bill Press show in morning drive, followed by Lockport native Stephanie Miller at 9. At noon, it's a local show (well, a show done by ISDN from California exclusively for 1520) with Leslie Marshall, who's familiar to Buffalo listeners from an earlier stint at WGR and fill-in duty at Entercom's big talker, WBEN (930). Ed Schultz is on at 3, followed by a Stephanie Miller repeat, WOR's Lionel at 10, and WOR's Joey Reynolds (a holdover from the oldies KB) overnight.
  • The move came as a blow, of course, for fans of KB's oldies format - but the outcry seemed to be far louder away from Buffalo, where 1520's blowtorch of a night signal reached Washington and Long Island and New England, than it was in Buffalo, where the station's ratings never quite seemed to justify even the modest effort being expended on local programming. The move leaves the morning team of Danny Neaverth and Tom Donahue out of work, and it puts an end to some of the greatest voice-tracking in history, courtesy of Jackson Armstrong. KB midday jock Sandy Beach remains with Entercom, of course, hosting the afternoon talk show on WBEN, and PD Hank Dole still has his day job as well, programming the company's WLKK (107.7 the Lake.)
  • The week's other big story from NEW YORK was, of course, Disney's long-delayed announcement that it's selling most of its ABC Radio holdings to Citadel in a "reverse Morris trust" arrangement valued at $2.7 billion. Disney will keep the Radio Disney and ESPN Radio networks, as well as its O&O stations affiliated with those networks (in this region, Radio Disney's WMKI 1260 Boston, WDDZ 550 Pawtucket, WDZK 1550 Bloomfield CT, WDDY 1460 Albany NY and WWJZ 640 Mount Holly NJ, ESPN's WEPN 1050 New York and WEAE 1250 Pittsburgh, and the LMA with the New York Times for WQEW 1560 New York). It'll also keep the "ABC" name, though it will license it to Citadel for a year (and will license ABC News product to Citadel for ten years.) Citadel will get the core ABC Radio stations, including WABC (770 New York) and WPLJ (95.5 New York), and the watchword for now is "stability." At least for now, it appears that little will change in terms of management, programming - or, yes, call letters - at the station group.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, WILD (1090 Boston) has hired a new morning talk host, returning Jimmy Myers to a regular shift for the first time in too many years. Myers, whose resume includes stints at WWZN, WEEI, WFXT, NECN and the old WBPS, handles the sign-on to 10 AM shift at the Radio One urban talk station (with sign-on finally getting back to 6 AM next month at the daytime-only facility.)

February 11, 2002 -

  • Up in CANADA, listeners in Montreal will have to rearrange their morning radio habits next week. As part of the restructuring of its Montreal properties, Standard Radio flipped CHOM (97.7) from modern rock to classic rock over the weekend. Next Monday, Terry Dimonte, who was CHOM's morning host from 1984 until 1993, will return to the FM side from sister station CJAD (800), bringing with him co-host Ted Bird and his production staff. Ric Peterson, who's been hosting CJAD's afternoon drive, will take the morning shift on the AM side, with former CHOM morning host Andrew Carter moving to Peterson's old afternoon gig on CJAD. (Carter's co-host, Pete Marier, is off to Winnipeg and CFWM...)
  • But wait, there's more: CHOM is also moving out of its longtime Westmount home at 1310 Greene Street this coming weekend, joining CJAD and CJFM (95.9) at 1411 Fort Street. (Former CHOM sister station CKGM will stay put at Greene Street, we believe.)
  • From MASSACHUSETTS comes word that public broadcasting behemoth WGBH will soon be in a new home. We've reported several times in the last few years that Harvard, which owns some of the buildings in WGBH's Western Avenue complex, has been urging the station to move so its property can be used for a Harvard Business School expansion; now it appears that plans are being firmed up to move the station a few blocks west to the Brighton Landing complex that's already home to Entercom's Boston stations. The plan calls for WGBH's offices to occupy much of an existing building on the property, which is also home to the headquarters of New Balance. The studios would go into a new building nearby on Market Street, next to the parking garage across Guest Street.
  • How big would this facility be? The office side would take up six of the seven floors in the 180,000-square foot building, while the studio building would fill another 130,000 square feet. When this move is completed, tentatively by 2005, it would create an impressive media axis along Market Street; in addition to WGBH and Entercom, Infinity's radio operations are consolidating in the former WSBK studios on Birmingham Parkway, just across the street, while Infinity's WBZ TV/radio, WSBK and WBMX are less than a mile away on Soldiers Field Road, next door to Pax's WBPX.
  • There's a format change, of sorts, in southeastern CONNECTICUT, as WAXK (102.3 Stonington) drops the hard edge from its rock format to become classic hits "XL102.3." We're hearing there are still some current tunes in rotation at the New London-market station, which is reportedly changing calls to WUXL.
  • There's no Radio Disney yet in Albany; we hear Disney needed a few extra days to get a satellite dish installed at the WGNA (1460) transmitter site, so the country simulcast from WGNA-FM (107.7) continues until Friday. We drove through Albany on Saturday morning, just in time to hear the end of the standards show that was the AM's only non-simulcast program. Host Bill Edwardsen made a reference to the "Mickey Mouse station" that was coming soon, then said he'd sign off and go down the hall to tell the "hillbilly girl DJ" to turn the simulcast back on - and thus ended that phase of AM 1460's existence! (We noted, too, that the FM programming is emphasizing that "FM" quite a bit this week...)

February 7, 1997-

  • Welcome to the first issue of NERW to come to you from our new home base in Rochester NY...and wouldn't it just figure that nearly all the news this time is still from New England? Onward...
  • With just three days to spare, AM 1060 in Natick MA is back on the air. The erstwhile WBIV (and before that, WTTP and WGTR), returned to the air Thursday morning with a mighty 500 watts, daytime-only, non-directional, as contemporary Christian WJLT, "J-Light 1060." Owner Alexander Langer is using the WKOX (1200) facilities in Framingham for the station, which would have lost its license on Sunday if it had not returned. NERW's correspondents in the Boston area tell us WJLT may already be breaking the rules by signing on a bit early in the morning...and somehow, we're not surprised.
  • Local ownership is rapidly becoming a thing of the past in Waterbury, Connecticut. Both of the city's FMs are now owned by conglomerates and operating from Hartford, and long-dark WQQW (1590) will vanish from the FCC files next week - and now WWCO (1240) has been sold. Buckley Broadcasting is buying the station from the Johnson family for $550,000. Buckley owns WDRC AM-FM in Hartford and WSNG in Torrington, and the company says it plans to simulcast Brad Davis' morning show from WDRC(AM), but has made no other programming plans. WATR (1320), which reportedly had an interest in buying WWCO, is now the last local station in Waterbury. Thanks to NERW Connecticut correspondent Bill Dillane for that tidbit.
  • Call it "CBS": The broadcasting half of the Company Formerly Known as Westinghouse spent 30 grand to hire a consulting firm to tell it what to call itself - and the surprise answer was: "CBS." Not only that, but the highly-paid consultants came to the remarkable conclusion that the best logo for the new company was, you guessed it, the eye that CBS has used for almost 40 years. So...mark down "CBS Inc." as the corporate ownership on Boston's WBZ (1030), WBOS (92.9; for sale), WOAZ (99.5), WZLX (100.7), WODS (103.3), WBCN (104.1), and WBZ-TV (Channel 4).

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*It's here! As seen in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Chicago Sun-Times, and soon on WCVB's "Chronicle," Tower Site Calendar 2007 is not only now shipping - it's close to a sellout! If you're waiting for the 2007 edition to go on clearance sale, don't keep waiting - the word from the shipping department is that fewer than 200 copies remain, and we expect to sell them all in the next month or two.

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 2007 by Scott Fybush.