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November 12, 2007

Radiothon Unites Upper Valley Broadcasters


*It's always nice to see radio stations join together to raise money for a good cause - but the impromptu collaboration of an entire NEW HAMPSHIRE radio market last week was truly something to behold.

We told you last week that Pauline Loyd (aka "Polly Robbins" of WWOD, WXLF, WNTK and several other Upper Valley stations) was struggling in her fight against breast cancer, and even as we were typing our news item, those stations were banding together for a one-day radiothon to raise money in Pauline's name.

"Polly's Think Pink Radiothon" took over the airwaves of pretty much the entire market - all the stations owned by Koor Communications, Nassau Broadcasting, Great Eastern and Dartnouth's WFRD/WDCR - for a 13-hour simulcast last Thursday based at a phone bank at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth College.

It's a small market, but by the time the phones stopped ringing and the simulcast ended Thursday night, the effort had raised over $37,000. Nice work, and a tribute to the good work broadcasters can do when they work together.


Think the arrival of the new phone book is an exciting time of year? (We do, actually, with apologies to Steve Martin, but that's not the point.)

Here's a really exciting spot on the calendar - in fact, it is the calendar. Yes, the 2008 Tower Site Calendar is back from the printer and ready for shipping all over the US and beyond.

This year's edition is a particularly fine one, if we do say so ourselves. From the cover photo of KAST in Astoria, Oregon to the back cover shot of the Blaw-Knox diamond tower at WBNS in Columbus, this year's calendar features 14 all-new full-color shots of famous broadcast sites far and wide. There's KROQ in Los Angeles, KFBK in Sacramento, WESX in Salem, WGAN in Portland, Black Mountain in Vegas, Mount Spokane in Spokane, and many (ok, several) more.

If you've been following our adventures, you know that the 2006 and 2007 editions of the calendar sold out. If you've been following postal rates and the cost of printing, you know they've both gone up.

Even so, we still think this year's edition is a bargain - just $18 with shipping and handling included.

Or better yet, beat our move to mandatory subscriptions (also coming later this fall) and get a free calendar with your $60 subscription to NERW for 2008. (Remember, the proceeds from both the calendar and the subscriptions help keep NERW right here on the web, as we head into our fourteenth year of news and analysis.)

So click right here and you can be one of the first to have your very own Tower Site Calendar 2008! (And thank you!)

*Our NEW YORK news starts in Buffalo, where cutbacks at Entercom claimed the jobs of the entire airstaff at WLKK (107.7 Wethersfield) on Friday. PD Hank Dole remains in place, with automation running on the air while part-timers are brought in to replace the former "Lake Guides." Also out, we're told, is Brian B. Wilde, music director/APD at WKSE (Kiss 98.5).

Across town at Regent's Rand Building headquarters, C.J. Lee and Al Wood are out of their jobs at WJYE (96.1 Buffalo) and WECK (93.7 Depew), respectively; Alexis Williams moves from the morning news shift on WBLK to take over middays at WJYE, where Cheryl Hagen joins the morning show. It's not clear who, if anyone, will replace Wood on the late-night "Quiet Storm" shift at WBLK. (And WJYE, meanwhile, is counting down to this Friday, when it becomes the second all-Christmas station upstate...)

Down the Thruway in the Rochester market, Bob Savage has something to celebrate: he just got the word from the FCC late last week that it's dismissed a rival application for a new AM signal on 1220. The other application proposed a low-power signal licensed to Greece, which already has a licensed service in the form of noncommercial WGMC (90.1). Savage's proposal called for a new 2500-watt fulltime station licensed to Lakeville, Livingston County, which has no other licensed service. The new signal, for which Savage must now file a full application, will likely end up with something more than 2500 watts, especially by day; it will operate from the existing four-tower site of his WYSL (1040 Avon), just off the Lakeville exit of I-390.

In the Albany market, WFLY (92.3 Troy) has replaced afternoon jocks Rexx and Smitty with Marissa Lanchak, formerly a weekend jock at the station. Lanchak also takes the music director reins at Pamal's top 40 outlet.

Heading downstate, veteran jock Max Kinkel, late of WNNJ (1360 Newton NJ), has found a new gig: he's the new morning guy in the Catskills at WVOS-FM (95.9 Liberty), which has flipped from country to oldies. There's a new website, too, at - shame it doesn't work right in Firefox, which only seems to display a bit of the station's logo!

In TV news, former WABC-TV (Channel 7) morning anchor Steve Bartelstein is returning to the airwaves, ten months after he was fired from his high-profile New York job for sleeping through a newsbreak he was supposed to be anchoring. It turns out Bartelstein's been fighting testicular cancer in the meantime, and he returns to the air as weekend-morning anchor on WCBS-TV (Channel 2) sans hair. Will he take a higher-profile role at the struggling CBS station in the months to come?

Albany's WAMC (90.3) is growing again; the ever-expanding public broadcaster is paying Susan Clinton $50,000 for the construction permit for translator W271BF (102.1 Highland), which will give it a slightly stronger signal in Poughkeepsie.

That's just the start of the expansion plans for WAMC - it was also a big player in the recent application window for new noncommercial FM channels around the region. We'll have a full look at NERW-land applications in the window next week, once we're deeper into the pile of more than 3600 applications filed. (We can tell you right now that WAMC has its eyes on deeper expansion into the Burlington, Vermont market, as well as Hartford, Connecticut.)

Another application we've already digested: Irondequoit High School's WIRQ (104.7 Rochester) wants to come full-circle, returning to the 90.9 frequency where it started way back in 1960. WIRQ was displaced from 90.9 in the early eighties, when the FCC bumped class D stations into the commercial part of the dial; since then, it's been bumped again from 93.3 to 94.3 to its present 104.7 spot, where it's now threatened by EMF Broadcasting's WKDL 104.9 Brockport. WIRQ would keep its present 19-watt signal if it moves; while the move would create a small interference zone with WXXI-FM (91.5 Rochester), WIRQ notes that WXXI itself acknowledged and accepted the interference back in 1974 when it signed on.

In Utica, Regent's WIBX (950) has shuffled its schedule, moving "Sportstalk" from its previous evening timeslot to the 3-5 PM slot, where it replaces Sean Hannity, who moves in turn to Sportstalk's old 6-8 PM slot, after WIBX's 5 PM news hour.

*"Wake up with Whoopi" is losing big-market affiliates right and left - first Chicago's WLIT dropped Whoopi Goldberg's New York-based show, and now in eastern PENNSYLVANIA, Philadelphia's WISX (My 106.1) has pulled Goldberg off its schedule, effective last Friday morning. She's being replaced by former WISX afternoon jock Logan.

Over in the Lancaster market, Dennis Mitchell has departed Clear Channel's WLAN-FM (96.9) for Hall's WROZ (101.3), apparently to take the morning shift there. Jeff Hurley, APD/afternoon jock at WLAN, takes Mitchell's PD post, but he's looking for someone else to fill the morning slot Mitchell formerly occupied.

Out on the Ohio line, WLLF (96.7 Mercer) is being spun off by Cumulus Media to a new shell company called Stratus Media LLC. It's part of a 19-station group (along with Youngstown clustermate WSOM 600 in Salem, Ohio) that's being placed in the Stratus trust to avoid market-cap issues as Cumulus works through a privatization bid.

While we're out that way, the other half of the "Majic" Meadville/Franklin simulcast has new calls, as WOXX (99.3 Franklin) becomes WHMJ. And a new CP in Sykesville (outside Du Bois) now has calls: the new 95.9 there will be WZDB.

*It's been more than 20 years since RKO salvaged the sale of its then-WOR-TV (Channel 9) by playing a political game in which the station's license was moved across the river from New York City to Secaucus, NEW JERSEY, but the ramifications of that move are still being felt.

The station (now WWOR) has gone through several owners in the interim, and its current licensee, Fox Television Stations, came under fire from several activist groups (including the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition) for failing to adequately serve the needs of New Jersey viewers. So before the FCC will issue a license renewal (as it almost inevitably will), it's scheduling a rare public hearing on the issue.

The hearing will take place Nov. 28, from 4-6 PM, at the Rutgers University Newark campus, and while we'd expect plenty of complaints about WWOR's news coverage and the general lack of specific local broadcast service to the millions of people who call northern New Jersey home, we'd be surprised to see the FCC justify a non-renewal of the WWOR license in an era in which other broadcasters are held to almost nonexistent standards of community service. (We'd be unsurprised, however, to find Fox making a few concessions that will thwart its plans to consolidate the WWOR operation into the Manhattan studios of its WNYW.)

Budget cuts have claimed the jobs of three jocks at Millennium's Jersey Shore cluster: Brian Moore is out of afternoons at WOBM-FM (92.7), with PD Steve Ardolina extending his midday shift, while middayers Gina Crash at WCHR-FM (105.7) and Joann Cruise at WJLK-FM (94.3 Asbury Park) are being replaced by voicetracking.

And as Salem Broadcasting pares back some of its payrolls, we hear that veteran broadcaster Kevin Fennessy (former owner of WAAT/WFBS in the Scranton area and PD of Rochester's WHAM) is out as production director at WWDJ (970 Hackensack) and WMCA (570 New York.)

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*There were lots of rumors in MASSACHUSETTS about Howie Carr returning to the airwaves at Entercom's WRKO (680 Boston), but the week ended as it began, with substitute hosts filling the afternoon shift there, as well as the morning shift at Greater Media's WTKK (96.9 Boston) that's looking less and less likely to become Carr's new home.

Absent a Carr return to WRKO, the only excitement (if you can call it that) left on the Hub's talk radio dial was at WWZN (1510 Boston), which drifted further from its sports format last week with the addition of several new leased-time talk shows, including "Duke and the Doctor" at 9 AM and Roy Masters in the evening. It appears Peter Davidson's Blackstrap Broadcasting will take WWZN to full-time leased-time operation, leaving Sporting News Radio to air only in unsold timeslots.

(And, yes, there was plenty of Bay State action in the noncommercial filing window, too; we'll sort it all out for you in next week's issue!)

*One of CONNECTICUT's oldest TV stations broke ground last week for its new studios. NBC's WVIT (Channel 30) has been in the same facility in West Hartford since it signed on in 1953 as WKNB-TV; sometime in 2009, that building will be demolished and the station will move across the parking lot to the new facility where construction started on Monday.

Over in Danbury, Cumulus' WDBY (105.5 Patterson NY) has a new PD and morning man. Terry Simmons moves east from WHBC-FM (94.1 Canton OH), where he held the same positions.

Congratulations to Joe McMillan, the former Boston jock most recently heard in mornings at WNSX (97.7 Winter Harbor, MAINE) - he got married over the weekend, and he's found some work doing imaging for Clear Channel's WKSQ (94.5 Ellsworth), too, though he's still seeking that next full-time gig, preferably somewhere in the Bangor area.

*It was a quiet week in eastern CANADA - one station left the air for good (CHUC 1450 in Cobourg, Ontario, which gave way to its FM sister on schedule at 5 PM Wednesday), while one station was new to the airwaves.

Religious broadcaster UCB Canada, which already operates CKJJ (102.3 Belleville), put its new signal, CKGW (89.3 Chatham-Kent), on the air Nov. 3 at 11 AM.

The new signal had been testing on and off since April, while UCB tried to raise the money it needed to get the station on the air for real.

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!)

November 13, 2006 -

  • After serving a two-day suspension over the summer for using an anti-gay slur against a MASSACHUSETTS state official, WRKO (680 Boston) mid-morning talk host John DePetro was probably on thin ice at the Entercom station. On Thursday, another DePetro remark sent him crashing through that ice, ending his career at WRKO and getting his board operator, Jimmy Kiesling, fired as well.What's the most stable radio station in the nation's number one market, NEW YORK? You could make a pretty good case for Clear Channel's "Lite," WLTW (106.7), where morning man Bill Buchner had been in place for 17 years, midday jock Valerie Smaldone for 22 years and night jock J.J. Kennedy for 18 years.
  • That longevity, however, was apparently no match for the nationwide restructuring that's hitting Clear Channel markets from coast to coast. Early last week, WLTW pulled Buchner and Kennedy off the air. While PD Jim Ryan tried to paint the moves in the best light possible, telling the New York Daily News that Buchner's dismissal was "100% based on improving the product" and unrelated to the nationwide Clear Channel shakeout, it's hard to see the timing as coincidental. (For whatever it's worth, Ryan says that while Buchner's numbers overall were good, the station was weak in the morning hours before 8:00; he also tells the News that Clear Channel considered putting Whoopi Goldberg's new syndicated morning show on WLTW before placing it on sister station WKTU over the summer.) Buchner's been replaced with a team that includes his former co-host, Christine Nagy, along with Karen Carson and weather from Nick Gregory. The new morning show debuts today on WLTW. As for nights, it's widely rumored that Delilah's syndicated show will make WLTW its New York home soon, a rumor Ryan's not denying...stay tuned.
  • Binghamton's not the sort of market you'd think of as a hotbed for progressive talk, so it's no great surprise that Citadel is pulling the plug on the format at WYOS (1360) after a year and a half. The format never got much promotion at WYOS, which has the city's worst AM signal (5000 watts days, just 500 watts at night) and has long been a weak sister to the city's heritage news-talk outlet, WNBF (1290). As of Monday, WYOS joins ESPN Radio, becoming Binghamton's second all-sports station after Clear Channel's WENE (1430 Endicott), which programs Fox Sports Radio.
  • We can now set a date for the long-awaited format swap in eastern MASSACHUSETTS: WCRB (102.5 Waltham) is now promoting December 1 as the date when its classical music moves down the dial - and 25 miles north - to what's now WKLB-FM (99.5 Lowell). WCRB will keep its present Waltham studio and its airstaff when it changes dial positions and owners, passing from Charles River Broadcasting to Nassau. Meanwhile, WKLB is promoting a "big change" on the air, but it's not yet directing its listeners to its new, full-market spot at 102.5; those promos will presumably appear a little closer to the day of the swap.
  • When the Clear Channel axe landed in RHODE ISLAND, it took with it most of the morning show at WSNE (93.3 Taunton MA), including 21-year veteran Joanie Edwardsen and her husband, Chuck Hinman, who was the station's news director. We're hearing that the cuts aren't finished at the Providence cluster just yet.
  • Inner City Broadcasting is exiting radio ownership in eastern PENNSYLVANIA. It's selling WHAT (1340 Philadelphia) to consultant Tom Kelly's Marconi Broadcasting, for a price All Access reports as $5 million. No word yet on what changes might be on the way to WHAT's black-oriented talk format.

November 11, 2002 -

  • In MASSACHUSETTS, Arthur Liu is adding to his Multicultural Broadcasting holdings with a $1.8 million purchase of WSRO (1470 Marlborough) from Alexander Langer. WSRO isn't much of a signal at the moment, operating under a long-running Special Temporary Authority since the city of Marlborough took its old transmitter site, but Liu isn't buying WSRO for its current signal. The purchase price includes $150,000 to build out WSRO's construction permit to change city of license to Watertown and transmitter site to the Lexington facility of WAMG (1150), which you can see on the October page of the 2002 Tower Site Calendar. When it's moved and the purchase has closed, WSRO will join WLYN (1360 Lynn) in Liu's Boston cluster.
  • We've been remiss in mentioning the latest addition to the schedule at Sporting News Radio's WWZN (1510 Boston); Mike Adams has joined the station to do mornings, which means that 1510 is now running local all day long before joining Sporting News in the evenings (when there's not a Celtics game, anyway.)
  • It could just as easily fall under the Bay State heading -- but the "new" station serving Fall River and New Bedford is still licensed to RHODE ISLAND, as WKKB (100.3 Middletown). The Citadel rocker, formerly Providence-based 80s outlet WZRI ("Z100") made its debut last Friday (Nov. 1), with a schedule that includes Patriots football and voicetracking (initally overnight and now middays) from "Brian the Pharmacist," late of the FNX network.
  • NERW hears a few of the top brass at Clear Channel's MAINE clusters received their walking papers last week; in Augusta, GM Tim Gatz and GSM Brian Strack were dismissed, as was Bangor GM Keryn Smith. We hear Clear Channel regional exec Jim Herron will be running things up there for now...
  • On to NEW YORK, then: there will be a new addition to the skyline soon that should help the city's beleaguered TV broadcasters restore a better signal to over-the-air viewers even in the event of problems at their primary Empire State Building site. Four Times Square, the "Condé Nast Building" on Broadway between 41st and 42nd streets, is already home to auxiliary FM transmitters for New York's Clear Channel and Spanish Broadcasting System clusters, as well as public radio WNYC-FM (93.9). Now the building's owner, The Durst Organization, plans to add another 200 or so feet to the mast atop 4 Times Square to provide auxiliary transmitter space for New York's TV stations. (By the way, Durst has hired one of the city's top broadcast engineers to supervise its own broadcast-leasing operations: John Lyons, the former chief engineer for Clear Channel's WAXQ in New York, now calls Four Times Square home, which is only fitting, considering he had a huge hand in designing the broadcast facility there!)

November 13, 1997-

  • The last major locally-owned radio station in Hartford is being sold -- but WCCC AM/FM (1290/106.9) won't become yet another outlet of the big group broadcasters. Sy Dressner's Greater Hartford Communications Corp. has owned WCCC for 28 years, and now Dressner says it's time to bring in some younger owners with fresh ideas. Dressner turned down several offers from the big groups and turned to Marlin Broadcasting, the family group that owns classical WBOQ (104.9 Gloucester MA) and WTMI (93.1 Miami FL). It's not Marlin's first time in the Hartford market; the company owned WKSS (95.7) from 1980 until 1983.
  • What's in store for the rock and roll format at WCCC? Marlin says it's committed to keeping WCCC-FM rocking, and it's locked into a three-year contract with Howard Stern in morning drive. On the AM side, the West Hartford-licensed daytimer on 1290 could end up with a new format when Marlin takes over in early 1998. No purchase price has been announced.
  • An historic VERMONT callsign is coming back to the airwaves. WDOT, last heard on 1390 Burlington (now WKDR) and 96.1 Warren (now WDEV-FM) a few years ago, has been picked as the new call for 1070 in Plattsburgh NY, the station currently known as WZBZ (and, ironically enough, the former WKDR before those calls moved to 1390). The FCC erroneously listed this one as an FM call change in its November 10th public notice...
  • And speaking of calls, 100.3 in Middletown, RHODE ISLAND is becoming WHKK to match its new "Hawk" classic rock format. Still no sign of new calls for sports-talk WLKW (790 Providence), or the new "WLKW," still legally WPNW (550 Pawtucket).
  • From NEW YORK this week, a new format and soon, new owners for Glens Falls' WYLR (95.9). The station remains embroiled in a license dispute, with Normandy Broadcasting appealing a 1992 FCC decision that awarded the WYLR license to competing applicant Lawrence Bradt. In the meantime, the financially-troubled Normandy had been LMA'ing WYLR out as a country station. That LMA has ended, and now former Normandy executive David Covey and his Entertronics company have taken over operations of WYLR. Covey has been stunting with an AOR format on the station, but local insiders say it's likely WYLR will end up competing with the "K100" hot AC simulcast of WKBE (100.3 Warrensburg) and WKLI (100.9 Albany). Covey plans to buy WYLR and sister station WWSC (1450) as soon as the license issue is settled. Entertronics already owns oldies WCKM (98.5 Lake George). As expected, the 107.1 trimulcast surrounding New York City has applied to boost power. Here's how the Odyssey Broadcasting "Y107" stations plan to grow: WWXY in Briarcliff Manor would jump from 890 watts to 1.9 kW, WWVY in Hampton Bays, L.I. would double from 3 to 6 kW, and down in New Jersey, WWZY Long Branch would get a boost from 2.3 to 4.7 kW, helping to fill in some of the dead zones between the various Y107 transmitters.

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