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April 9, 2007

New York's 106.7 Flips Off "Lite"


*There's always some risk involved in tweaking a station that's consistently at the top of the ratings, but when that station is at the top of the NEW YORK ratings, any tweak at all becomes a decent-sized gamble.

But Clear Channel has some pretty solid reasoning behind its quiet shift last week that moved WLTW (106.7 New York) away from the "Lite" identity that's been the station's cornerstone since its debut in 1984.

While the "Lite" branding still appears from time to time on the station, it's now "New York's 106.7," with what looks like a pretty hasty Photoshop job on the station website, now accessible at and in addition to the old and

So what's wih the new identity? One factor, of course, is the new competition from CBS' "Fresh FM" WWFS (102.7 New York), which is missing no opportunity to associate "Lite" with the sleepy soft AC music that 106.7 spent so many years playing. WLTW's gradual move away from that music toward a hotter adult contemporary sound (verging, at times, on almost a pop-CHR sound) is another factor in the change.

And then there's the people-meter factor: WLTW understands, as so many PDs will learn soon enough, that as Arbitron shifts over to its new automated ratings system, a lot of the old realities of the diary system will no longer apply. Already, the word is that most of the station's entries in Arbitron diaries were simply "106.7," without calls or slogan, and once the Portable People Meter kicks in in New York, all that will matter will be getting radios to land on that frequency, no matter what the slogan.

(Clear Channel's Hudson Valley "Lite" stations, WRNQ 92.1 Poughkeepsie and WCTW 98.5 Catskill, retain the branding for now.)

*In other news from New York, "Fresh" has named a new night jock: Brandi Ferraro, who's been a producer at WKTU (103.5) and a jock at WKCI (101.3 Hamden CT), takes the reins at night at WWFS.

Upstate, Nexstar's WROC-TV (Channel 8) in Rochester has a new general manager, as Louis Gattozzi moves east on I-90 from Nexstar's WJET-TV (Channel 24) in Erie, PA to replace the departed Marc Jaromin. Just as he did in Erie, Gattozzi will oversee a Fox station as well, since Nexstar provides most services to Sinclair's WUHF (Channel 31).

The Spanish-language leased-time programming that was heard on Crawford's WRCI (102.7 Webster) has found a new home: now that "The Light" is nonstop contemporary Christian music, the Spanish has moved to sister station WLGZ (990 Rochester). And while we're thinking about WLGZ, we should note that it's brought back a veteran Rochester jazz DJ. Tom Pethic's "Artistry in Jazz" show is once again airing on Saturday afternoons on "Legends 990."

Meanwhile over at WRCI, there's a new jock lineup: Gina Jones returns to the station for mornings, with KB Cooper in middays and veteran Mark Shuttlesworth in afternoons.

Where are they now? Former WBEE-FM (92.5 Rochester) jock Nikki Landry went west last year to do middays at KNTY (101.9 Shingle Springs CA), the new country "Wolf" signal in Sacramento. Now she's rejoined Entercom to do middays at its northern California "Wolf," the new KBWF (95.7 San Francisco), where she's also music director.

*It's really in CANADA, of course, but CKEY-FM (101.1 Fort Erie ON) continues to target the Buffalo market, just over the Niagara River, and now it's doing so with a new nickname. "Wild 101" was replaced by "Z101" last week, with a more mainstream top-40 format and a reworked airstaff.

Ellen Z is out in afternoons, with Keith Kelly handling that shift for now, and PD Dave Universal created a minor message-board stir when he installed "Taylor Kaye" (Jenny Wade, late of WKSE in Buffalo) in late nights. There's a Taylor Kaye across the lake at Toronto's CHUM-FM, too, and at last check, the new Z101 website didn't show any name at all in the 10 PM airshift. (Interesting, too, given the CRTC's previous interest in CKEY's Canadian bona fides, that the new Z101 site, unlike the old "Wild" site, shows only a Buffalo request-line number, and no Canadian studio phone.)

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*Out in Nova Scotia, the CRTC has granted CFDR (780 Dartmouth) a move to FM. Newcap will shed its 50% interest in CKUL (96.5) in order to make the FM move, which will also come with a format change. CFDR is now country as "780 KIXX," but it will go to alternative rock when it moves to 88.9 with 21 kW, leaving only CHUM Ltd.'s CJCH (920) on the AM dial in metro Halifax.

In Ottawa, CFRA (580) is getting ready to celebrate its 60th anniversary next month. The station has put up a website to mark the anniversary, and on May 3 it will throw a birthday bash at the Chateau Laurier hotel, complete with a live 1947-style broadcast, orchestra and all. (And at $60 a ticket, no less...)

North of Toronto, Evanov Broadcasting's CKDX (88.5 Newmarket) is changing its imaging.

The former "Foxy 88.5" is now "88.5 the Jewel," matching Evanov's successful CJWL (98.5 the Jewel) in Ottawa; there's no change to its adult standards/soft AC format.

In Hamilton, CHML (900) names Bill Kelly as its new 9-noon host, effective tomorrow; Kelly had a previous run at CHML from 1988-1997, has spent some time at CHCH-TV (Channel 11), and has also been involved in local politics.

MANDATORY SUBSCRIPTION FEES? They've become a fact of life for many of the most popular radio and TV websites out there. Just a few weeks ago, our pal Dave Hughes put part of his excellent site behind a pay wall, and mandatory subscriptions are an established way of life at and, too, just to name a few.

Here at East RadioWatch, we've managed to hold off from imposing a password and mandatory subscription fee, but we depend on your support - and that of our advertisers - to keep it that way.

If you still haven't subscribed yet for 2007, do it right now at our Support page - and enjoy another exciting year of NERW, guilt- (and password-) free. If you still don't have your 2007 Tower Site Calendar, we're holding a few for new subscribers - but don't wait too much longer, or they'll all be gone.

And if you have become one of our many subscribers, thank you!

*Now that western MASSACHUSETTS is hearing NPR news and talk from WFCR (88.5 Amherst) on the big 50,000-watt signal of Clear Channel's WNNZ (640 Westfield), Pamal has a new format on its orphaned WPNI (1430 Amherst), which had been carrying the WFCR news-talk programming. Until WPNI can be sold, it's now simulcasting WUMB-FM (91.9 Boston), bringing that station's folk music to what's presumably a very receptive Pioneer Valley audience.

What's up with "Touch FM," the Dorchester pirate on 106.1 that earned an FCC visit after some big publicity in the Globe a few months back? We're hearing that the federal court case against Touch FM's principals has been settled, and that the station remains on the air. We'll try to sniff this out further in an upcoming issue.

In Springfield, WMAS (1450) has joined the New Britain Rock Cats' radio network for the season, adding to the already-substantial broadcast reach for that Class AA club.

Boston Radio People on the Move: Jimmy Myers is back on the air on a regular basis. After a series of fill-in gigs at WTKK (96.9 Boston), the veteran talk host (WEEI and WILD, among other stints) is now holding the Sunday afternoon 3-6 slot at "FM Talk 96.9."

And Phil Redo adds a new title to his market-manager duties at WTKK and its Greater Media sister stations: he's now a vice president, as well.

*In VERMONT, we hear that Pamal has peeled WZRT (97.1 Rutland) away from the "Kiss FM" identity it had under Clear Channel ownership; the station's still top 40, but it's back to its old "Z97" moniker. (We also note that Clear Channel's site, while mostly updated to show only WVTK 92.1 Port Henry NY/Burlington VT, still has some "Kiss FM 92.1-97.1" logos around, too.)

In Barre, WSNO (1450) has picked up Glenn Beck from 9 AM-noon, dropping Dr. Joy Browne in the process.

*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Alex James moves from the PD chair at Clear Channel's WGIR-FM (101.1 Manchester) across the street to Saga's WMLL (96.5 Bedford), where he'll serve both as PD and afternoon jock.

We've been remiss in not mentioning the fire that hit WOKQ (97.5 Dover) on March 25, destroying the station's generator. Firefighters now think the blaze, which was in the generator building next to the old studio building behind WOKQ's current studios, may have been caused by a leak in the propane line feeding the generator.

There was no damage to the old studio building itself (which houses STL links and backup transmitters for WOKQ and its sister FM stations, "The Shark"), and work is underway to ensure there's backup power to the STLs if there's a power outage in Dover.

(Another WOKQ note: former news anchor Roger Wood has come out of retirement and is once again doing news on a part-time basis for the station.)

The FCC's latest FM auction concluded last week, and it awarded two new facilities in New Hampshire: LiveAir Communications gets 101.5A in Groveton, for $37,500, while EMF Broadcasting gets 97.1A in Pittsburg, for just $7,000.

*One MAINE baseball update from last week: the Portland Sea Dogs have replaced the Red Sox on WVAE (1400 Biddeford) this year - and we should have updated the calls of their 1240 outlet in Lewiston, which is now WEZR, as well as noting that three of the AA club's games will be televised on NESN.

The FCC's FM auction yields one new station in the Pine Tree State: Allan Weiner gets 94.7A in Monticello, for $27,000, to pair with his WREM (710) and WBCQ shortwave up there.

*Most of our RHODE ISLAND news this week, oddly enough, comes from Greenville, the small town just west of I-295 outside Providence.

That's where Alex Langer's now been granted a construction permit for a new signal on 1140. If built, the station will use 27 kW days, 1.2 kW nights from a new six-tower array to be built near Harmony, just west of Greenville on US 44. (Langer also owns WRPT 650 and WBIX 1060 in the Boston market.)

Greenville is also the city of license of WALE (990), which was once again silent last week. No word on when this troubled station might be back on the air.

And what's up with the note on the WWBB (101.5 Providence) website that claims "B101 is here now?" On Saturday, it said "B94 is coming," prompting some e-mail speculation about a format swap with sister WHJY (94.1). On Sunday, it said "B91 is coming" - and we suspect that what's really on its way to B101 is more nineties music.

*There's a format change on the shore in NEW JERSEY: WADB (1310 Asbury Park) has dropped "Shore Country" in favor of "ESPN Deportes," the relatively new Spanish-language sports network.

Up in Bergen County, WVNJ (1160 Oakland) has dropped the last vestiges of its old standards format. It's now "The Voice," with a motley schedule of mostly leased-time talk and some religion.

Way up in Sussex County, Clear Channel has a new market manager at its four-station cluster (oldies WNNJ 1360 Sussex, classic rock WNNJ-FM 103.7 Sussex, AC WSUS 102.3 Franklin and hot AC WHCY 106.3 Blairstown); Dick Taylor moves in from the GM chair at WLAN (1390 Lancaster PA) to replace Bob Dunphy, who's joined First Broadcasting as its VP of station operations.

Down in the Atlantic City market, WJSE (102.7 Petersburg) has a new midday jock, as Moon moves up from nights to replace B.J. "Beej" Capelli, who's headed out on the road with his band. Weekender Boone replaces Moon at night on "The Ace."

*In PENNSYLVANIA, there's a PD and morning-drive vacancy at Greater Media sports talker WPEN (950 Philadelphia), where Gregg Henson departed last week. He's heading back to Detroit, where he used to work at WKRK (97.1) - and while he's not returning to the radio business there, he's picking a fight with his former employer, criticizing what's now "97.1 Free FM" on his blog and drawing a cease-and-desist letter from CBS for a podcast in which he played some clips from his old WKRK show. (Podcasting is apparently at the heart of the new business Henson says he's starting in Detroit.)

WPEN, meanwhile, has been using guest hosts in the morning while it searches for a permanent replacement.

CBS' Philadelphia TV stations, KYW-TV (Channel 3) and WPSG (Channel 57) made their long-awaited moves to 15th and Spring Garden last Monday, launching news on KYW in HD at the same time. Meanwhile, back in KYW's old Market Street neighborhood, former next-door neighbor WTXF (Channel 29) has a new VP/general manager, as Mike Renda moves to that Fox O&O from sister station WJW (Channel 8) in Cleveland. And across Independence Mall, WHYY (90.9/Channel 12) is reportedly losing its leader; a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer says Paul Gluck is taking a new job running Drexel University's Rudman Institute for Entertainment Industry Studies.

Back to CBS - it had a rough start last Monday to its new FM talk station in Pittsburgh. WTZN-FM (93.7 the Zone) was supposed to have premiered the new Scott Paulsen show at 4 PM after John McIntire's shift, but the lawyers apparently got involved, and so McIntire ended up being forced to fill an extra 90 minutes of airtime, without even being able to use Paulsen's name to explain what was going on. The station eventually plugged into Sporting News Radio to give McIntire a break, and the legal issues were resolved in time for Paulsen (formerly at Clear Channel's WDVE) to go on the air Tuesday.

There's a new PD at Keymarket's Pittsburgh "Froggy," as Dave Anthony arrives from WARM-FM/WSOX in York to become the new programmer at WOGI (98.3 Duquesne). Meanwhile, Kalen Boyd's been promoted to operations manager at sister stations WOGF (104.3 East Liverpool OH), WKPL (92.1 Ellwood City) and WOHI (1490 East Liverpool OH).

WQEX (Channel 16) in Pittsburgh has a new home-shopping service; with the demise of America's Store late last month, the channel is now broadcasting ShopNBC 164 hours a week. Owner WQED, which uses revenue from leasing WQEX to support its public radio and TV services, programs Channel 16 with educational shows for two hours on Monday and Tuesday mornings. (The station's still theoretically for sale, though WQED says nobody's met its price just yet.)

Up in Erie, PD Jeff Johns is out at WJET (1400) and WFNN (1330), for budget reasons. Johns was also morning host at WJET.

A format change north of Altoona: WLGY (90.7 Nanty Glo) changes hands from American Family Association to EMF Broadcasting, flipping to EMF's ubiquitous "K-Love" contemporary Christian format under new calls WPKV.

A new FM signal, thanks to that FCC auction: First Media Radio adds to its cluster with a $690,000 bid for 95.9A in Sykesville.

And there's yet another radio obituary, sadly, in central Pennsylvania: Melanie Apple Williams, who was part of the morning team on WHP (580 Harrisburg) from 1992 until 2000, had been fighting a lung disease called "primary pulmonary hypertension" for the last few years. She underwent a double lung transplant in December 2005, but it wasn't enough; Williams died April 2, at age 47.

*Just as we do every April, we're packing up and getting ready to head west for this year's NAB Convention, which gets underway next weekend in Las Vegas. We always enjoy seeing NERW readers during the show, so be sure to say hello if our paths cross on the show floor - and watch this space on Monday, April 16 for updates from Sin City!

(We'll be back east with a full wrap-up on April 23; and our consulting clients at Fybush Media will find us in Las Vegas April 15-18, with our Rochester office reopening April 19.)

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!)

April 10, 2006 -

  • A lot has changed in MASSACHUSETTS radio since 1964. By our count, there are just two stations on the Boston AM dial still using the same calls and frequency they used back then. One is WILD (1090), and the other, of course, is WBZ (1030). It was way back in 1964 that a young reporter from Shelburne Falls named Gary LaPierre joined the station's news staff. Just two years later, LaPierre became WBZ's morning news anchor, and for forty years, that's where he's been, through changes of ownership (Westinghouse to CBS to Infinity and back to CBS) and format (top 40 to AC/news-talk to all news). Last week, LaPierre announced that he'll retire at the end of 2006, closing out the 42-year run at WBZ that began with his very first assignment, covering the Beatles' arrival for their first Boston concert. (Back then, LaPierre recalled, he looked so young that station management wouldn't allow his picture to be distributed.)
  • The station hasn't announced who'll replace LaPierre in 2007; his presumptive successor for many years, anchor/reporter Jay McQuaide, left the station last year to join Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
  • Just south of Boston, WBET (1460 Brockton) is changing hands. Joe Gallagher's Aritaur group (doing business, in this case, as KJI Broadcasting) bought WBET and WCAV-FM from their original owner, the Brockton Enterprise, in 1997, then sold WCAV (now WILD-FM) to Radio One two years later. Now Gallagher is selling WBET to Business Talk Radio Network for $1 million, with Bob Maccini of Media Services Group handling the transaction. BTRN, which owns WGCH (1490 Greenwich CT), says it has no intentions of changing any of WBET's programming once the deal closes.
  • RHODE ISLAND's NBC owned-and-operated station is changing hands, as Media General pays GE $600 million for four of its stations, including WJAR (Channel 10) in Providence, along with stations in Raleigh-Durham, Birmingham and Columbus. WJAR will be Media General's first TV property in the region, joining its existing group of small- and medium-market stations clustered in the southeast and midwest. (NBC says it's shedding the stations to focus its resources on expanding the reach of its Telemundo division.)
  • A veteran CONNECTICUT broadcaster is retiring. Dick Ferguson came to prominence heading Park City Communications, then joined Katz Broadcasting as its president when it acquired Park City in 1981. In 1986, Ferguson led the management buyout of the Katz stations that created the NewCity group, with prominent holdings that included WPLR and WEZN in Connecticut and WSYR/WYYY in Syracuse. And when Cox Radio bought NewCity in 1997, Ferguson remained with the company, becoming executive vice president there in 2003. Ferguson's retirement will take effect at the end of May. With typical understatement, Ferguson says "after having worked full time in the radio business since 1967 and for the company that eventually joined Cox Radio since 1973, I'm delighted to be taking some time off to enjoy my wonderful family and work with a number of not for profit organizations."

April 8, 2002 -

  • It's rare to see a big-city directional AM station move its entire transmitter site - unless the government steps in and gives it no choice. That's what's happening in New York City, where WOR is losing its site in the Meadowlands, and it's what WJAS (1320) in Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA is going through now as well. WJAS' current two-tower site sits along the river near the eastern portal of the Squirrel Hill tunnel, on land that the station leased from the Standard LaFarge Company. In 1994, Standard sold the land to the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, without giving WJAS the right of first refusal to buy it, something WJAS says it was entitled to by contract. The URA tried to end WJAS' lease on the land, only to find itself in the midst of a three-way lawsuit, which the agency now hopes to settle by selling WJAS another piece of land that it owns, a few miles north at Highland Drive and Leech Farm Road in Penn Hills. WJAS' application calls for a three-tower array, with two towers used by day with 6000 watts and two towers at night with 3300 watts. Normally, stations that change sites have to reduce nighttime interference on the frequency by 10 percent; WJAS is asking the FCC to waive that power-reduction requirement because the move is involuntary. (2007 update: WJAS is still at the old site, for now.)
  • Moving along to NEW YORK, WDRE (98.5 Westhampton) wants to move west on Long Island. The station, which relays the modern AC of WLIR (92.7 Garden City), now shares a site near East Quogue with WWXY (107.1 Hampton Bays); it's filed an application to move about five miles west to the site just north of Eastport and south of the Long Island Expressway that's used by WRCN (103.9 Riverhead). WDRE's new facilities would be 3000 watts at 100 meters, with a directional antenna nulled towards WRKS (98.7 New York) and WPLR (99.1 New Haven).
  • Speaking of WLIR, its "big announcement" Monday was, unsurprisingly, an April Fool stunt: a claim that musician Moby had bought the station and was turning it into "WMBY." Moby did, in fact, program the station for a few hours, playing a much more diverse list of tunes than normally heard on the commercial dial in New York!
  • Other stunts worthy of mention around the region: in Syracuse, WNTQ (93.1) morning team Ted and Amy claimed the state was about to outlaw eating and drinking in cars. It would have been only mildly amusing - until talk host Jim Reith across town at WSYR (570) was taken in on the stunt by a caller! Up in New Hampshire, WJYY (105.5 Concord) claimed its morning team was being "suspended" - and they were, from a crane 40 feet up during the entire (very rainy) morning show.
  • It may have sounded like an April Fool joke, but Binghamton's WCDW (100.5 Susquehanna PA) is really changing format. The station says it will let listeners decide over the weekend, voting among a series of stunt formats that will run in one-hour blocks; whatever happens, it appears the station will cancel the Greaseman's syndicated morning show and perhaps let some of its airstaff go. (We still suspect oldies are on the way to this rimshot signal.)

April 10, 1997-

  • We'll start this week in Massachusetts, where Glenn Ordway is out as program director at all-sports WEEI (850). Ordway tells the Boston Globe the decision was a mutual one, to allow him to focus on his on-air duties. Brad Murray takes over PD reins at WEEI, in addition to his duties at sister talker WRKO (680). Up in Gardner, meantime, little WGAW (1340) is about to be doing independent programming for the first time in years. Doug Rowe kept WGAW when he sold WSRO (1470) in Marlborough, and word has it that WGAW's program schedule will soon include Red Sox baseball and other simulcasts from nearby WEIM (1280) in Fitchburg.
  • New Hampshire news: It's the end of an era for independent TV in the Granite State. WNDS (Channel 50) in Derry was officially transferred to Ramcast, Inc. last Saturday, bringing with it a switch to Global Shopping Network programming. Most of the station's staff, including well-known weatherman Al Kaprelian, was laid off. WNDS had recently been improving its cable coverage in the Boston market, and is now available to viewers in most of the metro area - for whom it's now at least the fourth all home-shopping signal on the UHF dial.
  • There could be a new AM signal in the Upper Valley area. Koor Broadcasting, which owns WNTK AM-FM (1020 Newport/99.7 New London), is applying for 720 in Hanover. No word yet on facilities, but we'd suspect a few thousand watts daytime, possibly directional to protect CKAC (730) in Montreal, and a few watts at night. Apparently the plans for 720 in Billerica MA are now completely dead and gone...
  • One bit of news from Rhode Island this week: the long-awaited debut of Providence's WB affiliate is now set for 5:30 PM on Sunday, April 13. WLWC (Channel 28) is licensed to New Bedford MA and will be operated by NBC's WJAR (Channel 10). WLWC is owned by Fant Broadcasting, which has similar LMA deals in other markets around the country.

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*It's here! As seen 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 only 55 copies remain (with some of those on the way out to Las Vegas), and we expect to sell them all in the next few weeks.

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.