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January 7, 2008

Entercom/Nassau WEEI Deal is Dead


*It was one of the biggest radio stories of the summer in NEW HAMPSHIRE, MAINE and the rest of northern New England last year: Entercom, programmer of Boston's highly successful WEEI (850 Boston), was to partner with Nassau to spread WEEI's sports format to Portland, Concord, the Lakes Region, the Upper Valley and Cape Cod - and in exchange, Entercom would take a half-interest in Nassau's classical WCRB (99.5 Lowell) for the improbably-low-sounding sum of $10 million. (Nassau had paid $60 million for the station just a year earlier, after all.)

As 2007 wound to a close, Nassau began laying the groundwork for the format changes that would accompany the start of its WEEI simulcasts: in Concord and the Lakes Region, WNNH (99.1 Henniker) and WLKZ (104.9 Wolfeboro) moved from oldies to classic hits ("Frank") to clear the way for classic rocker "Hawk" WWHK (102.3 Concord)/WWHQ (101.5 Meredith) to become WEEI affiliates. And the "Free Beer and Hot Wings" morning show heard on several Nassau stations started saying goodbye to listeners in Portland ("Bone" WHXR/WHXQ).

But then rumors started spreading about problems with the deal, and even as the champagne was being chilled and we were stepping away from the computer on New Year's Eve afternoon, the companies pulled the plug on their plans for a network.

"The transaction hit an impasse," was the word from Nassau's Lou Mercatanti to Clea Simon at the Boston Globe, and we've still heard nothing definitive about what caused the deal to fall apart at the last minute.

So in the absence of hard fact, we'll offer some educated speculation. First, from the Entercom side of the fence, there's no question that the deal was more essential to announce in August than to close in December. In August, WEEI faced what could have been a serious challenge to its sports supremacy: while Entercom had locked up a long-term Red Sox contract, at no small expense, its morning stars John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were flirting with other suitors - not just the long-rumored Greater Media dream of flipping WBOS (92.9) to an all-sports format, but also a possible Nassau flip of WCRB to sports. Allying Nassau with WEEI took away that option for Dennis and Callahan, and it's no coincidence that the pair re-signed with Entercom soon after the Nassau deal was announced.

With Dennis and Callahan safely under contract, and the Sox not only safely under contract but celebrating their second World Series in four years, the threats to WEEI are significantly blunted today as compared to last summer. And while WEEI could certainly have benefited from adding WCRB's FM signal (with its strong reach from southern New Hampshire into Boston's northern and western suburbs) to its existing network, we have no way of knowing if that simulcast was ever anything more than rank speculation, anyway.

Also speculative - but it's a speculation we're pretty comfortable making - is the notion that Nassau, in the end, needed Entercom more than Entercom needed Nassau. While Nassau could certainly still create a sports network out of the stations that were targeted to become WEEI relays, it's hard to imagine the national sports coverage of ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio or any of their competitors having the same regional appeal as the non-stop Sox/Pats/Celtics (and occasionally BC Eagles and Bruins) talk that makes up most of WEEI's programming day. (We can also speculate that Entercom won't give up on the idea of an expanded WEEI network on stations other than Nassau's.)

For Nassau, then, there are are new challenges both immediate and long-term. In New Hampshire, the unexpected conflict between "The Hawk" and "Frank" will need to be addressed - and to the south, there's still the longer-term issue of WCRB. While Mercatanti says publicly that Nassau is committed to keeping 99.5 classical over the long haul, it's been a rough road for commercial classical radio nationwide over the last few years, especially for an operator like Nassau that's functioning as a standalone in Boston in the midst of much bigger operators such as CBS, Clear Channel, Greater Media and, yes, Entercom.

Which brings us to the most interesting bit of speculation: with another all-sports station struggling mightily to find its footing in the market - Jessamy Tang's "ESPN Boston" WAMG (890 Dedham)/WLLH (1400 Lowell) - could ESPN and Nassau team up to flip 99.5 into a sports competitor to WEEI? It wouldn't have the Sox, of course, or Dennis and Callahan, but it would have a fairly potent FM signal, at least.


Still haven't ordered your 2008 Tower Site Calendar? You do realize that it's, don't you? We're already down to the last 180 or so calendars, and they're going fast. The 2006 and 2007 editions of the calendar sold out, and this one will do so as well, possibly as soon as this month.

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.

The calendar is just $18 with shipping and handling included - or better yet, beat our move to mandatory subscriptions later this year 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 sure to have your very own Tower Site Calendar 2008! (And thank you!)

The 2008 Tower Site Calendar is dedicated to the memory of Robert Eiselen (1934-2007), whose digital imaging skills made even a bunch of pictures of radio towers look almost like art. His contributions were essential to the calendar's evolution from 2003 to the current edition, and he will be missed dearly.

*The year's first big station sale came early, and it involved a familiar face in VERMONT radio. Ken Barlow's history in the Green Mountain State includes stints at WCFR in Springfield and WDOT in Burlington, then the launch in the nineties of WCPV (Champ 101.3) and WXPS (now WXZO 96.7). After his Dynacomm group sold those stations to Capstar in 1999, Barlow went on to join Bruce Danziger and Jeff Shapiro to build the Vox Radio Group, which at one point owned more stations in northern New England than any other broadcaster.

In 2005, Vox sold most of its stations to Nassau. Barlow and Danziger then formed Vox Communications Group, which picked up Vox Radio's cluster in western Massachusetts.

And now Vox Communications is coming into Vermont with an $11 million purchase of Clear Channel's Burlington and Randolph stations - including Barlow's old haunts, WCPV and WXZO.

Here's what the entire cluster looks like: there's AC "Star" WEZF (92.9 Burlington), with a class C signal from Mount Mansfield that is, hands-down, the best commercial FM signal in Vermont. Classic rock "Champ" is now heard on both WCPV (101.3 Essex NY) in the Burlington market and on WCVR (102.1 Randolph) in central Vermont. WXZO (96.7 Willsboro NY) now carries a talk format as "The Zone," simulcast on WEAV (960 Plattsburgh) and WTSJ (1320 Randolph). South of Burlington, there's also "True Oldies Channel" WVTK (92.1 Port Henry NY).

(NERW notes that these stations were originally among the big group of signals in small Clear Channel markets that were supposed to go to the Goodradio.TV group in that deal that never came to fruition last year; we also note that this is Clear Channel's second New England spinoff to a group with roots in the old Vox Radio Group - the company's stations in the White River Junction/Lebanon/Hanover market were sold last year to Jeff Shapiro's new Great Eastern Radio group, which is now competing against the former Vox, now Nassau, cluster in that region.)

No purchase price has yet been announced for the Burlington sale; Barlow tells the Burlington Free Press that he doesn't expect to make major changes at the signals.

Back in the Upper Valley for a moment, former upstate New Yorker Kevin Cregg is out as afternoon jock at Nassau's "Wolf" WXLF (95.3 White River Junction)/WZLF (107.1 Bellows Falls) after less than a year.

 Read NERW's comprehensive 2007 Year in Review

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*Even before the new year began, some big changes were underway in NEW YORK radio. On New Year's Eve, Allan Sniffen's New York Radio Message Board broke the news that Valerie Smaldone had become the latest veteran of Clear Channel's WLTW (106.7 New York) to depart the station.

Both Smaldone and WLTW are putting the best possible face on it, calling it a mutual decision not to renew Smaldone's contract after 24 years. In a statement on her own website, Smaldone calls it a "heart-wrenching" move, while WLTW PD Jim Ryan framed the move as a choice for Smaldone to focus on the many other elements of her career as an actress, voiceover talent and writer.

But it's a pretty safe bet that Clear Channel, now in serious cost-cutting mode as it prepares to be taken private, wasn't in any hurry to open its wallet to pay the veteran midday jock what she's worth, either. Over the past year or so, WLTW had already cut loose its other founding voices - Stephen Roy, Al Bernstein, Bill Buchner, JJ Kennedy and Bill Buchner - and the company has made similar cuts at other big AC stations around the country as well, including two prominent departures from KOST in Los Angeles over the last few weeks, morning co-host Kim Amidon and middayer Mike Sakellarides.

And if we can cross the line into opinion here for a moment, what may work for the bottom line in the short term just doesn't seem very healthy for radio in the long run. It's easy to downplay the importance of personality on a "utility" radio station like WLTW, which made its reputation over the years as the background music of office cubicles and reception desks all over the tri-state area. But it's also a mistake. While nobody in radio is irreplaceable, talents like Smaldone, Bernstein and Roy were just as crucial (in a much more subdued way) in forging a bond between their radio station and its audience as are higher-profile radio names like Imus, Mike and the Mad Dog, or any of the other radio people who tend to draw the headlines.

Outside the glare of those spotlights, WLTW has been a quietly dominant force in New York radio for many years now, regularly appearing at or near the top of the revenue rankings. That sort of success doesn't happen by accident. It takes a good programming team, solid marketing and promotion, a top-notch sales team, flawless engineering - and in New York, especially, it takes on-air voices, too. Remove any piece of that structure and the whole thing comes crashing down, maybe not in a few months or a year, but surely within a few years.

We explored these ideas in more depth in our Year-End Rant that appeared in this space last year as part of our 2007 Year in Review, and next week we'll print some of your reactions. It's not too late to check out the Rant, and to join in the conversation at "rant at fybush dot com." We welcome your input!

Back to the week's news - down the street at Disney's ESPN Radio flagship, WEPN (1050 New York), the headlines were all about the station's less-than-full-market signal. Ever since its days as WHN, the 1050 signal has been a non-starter in much of NEW JERSEY, thanks to a directional pattern that sends its 50,000 watts away from adjacent-channel KYW (1060 Philadelphia).

In the early nineties, a new station squeezed into that hole between KYW and WEPN. WJHR (1040 Flemington NJ) signed on in 1998 as a community-oriented full-service station serving Hunterdon County, but that phase of its existence lasted only a few years. In 2002, it changed hands to Nassau Communications and changed calls to WCHR, picking up the religious format that had accompanied those calls in their prior incarnations on 920 and 94.5 in Trenton, to the south.

Now Nassau has signed a deal to LMA the 1040 facility to Disney, turning it into a full-time simulcast of WEPN. While the move will extend WEPN's signal into parts of western and central New Jersey that have never had a clear signal from 1050, the move still won't bring "ESPN 1050" to signal parity with competitor WFAN (660). That's because WCHR's tight squeeze onto the AM dial came with some compromises: by day, its 4700-watt signal (with a CP to increase to 15 kW) aims mostly south and west from Flemington, covering an area from the Lehigh Valley down to Trenton and even some of Philadelphia's outermost suburbs. But come sunset, WCHR must protect WHO (1040) in Des Moines, and that means its pattern flips almost completely, aiming back over Hunterdon County into central New Jersey with just 1000 watts (and a CP for 1500 watts.)

Still, any signal is better than no signal, and the addition of 1040 to the 1050 signal can only help WEPN's efforts to become a major player on the New York sports scene.

(As for the WCHR religious format, it's rumored to be returning to its previous spot on 920, with Nassau displacing ESPN from what's now WPHY.)

One more New Jersey sports radio note before we return to the Empire State: WADB (1310 Asbury Park) flips from ESPN Deportes (Spanish-language sports talk) to Fox Sports Radio in English today, just eight months after its April flip from standards to "deportes."

Out on Long Island, all the big news comes from the Morey Organization: its "Party 105," WDRE (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke), has expanded its reach west into Nassau County. "Party" is now also being heard on translator W268AN (101.5 Plainview), with a 10-watt signal that covers a chunk of central Nassau.

Meanwhile, Morey has quietly pulled the plug on the latest incarnation of modern-rock WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays). The format disappeared last week (though it will supposedly continue as a webcast), and 107.1 is now in a temporary "Party" simulcast, with a rumored flip to sports talk coming soon.

Up in northern Westchester, Cumulus' WFAF (106.3 Mount Kisco) quietly ended its simulcast with rocker WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie) late last month, after almost two years with that format. WFAF is now running adult contemporary music, with only an hourly ID for interruption. Could 106.3 be the new home of the AC format that's been on WFAS-FM (103.9 Bronxville) once that Cumulus signal moves south into the Bronx soon? (Even if it is, the 106.3 signal misses most of the lucrative southern Westchester market that 103.9 now blankets.)

And looking ahead before we head way upstate, we note that next week is expected to bring the long-awaited return of Luis Jiminez to the New York airwaves. The former WSKQ (Mega 97.9) morning star has been sitting out a non-compete with new employer Univision Radio, which hopes he can bring his big following to its WCAA (La Kalle 105.9), turning that signal into a major player in New York's Hispanic market.

Meanwhile in Rochester, Entercom has been locked in contract negotiations with the star morning man at its new acquisition, WCMF (96.5). "Brother Wease" (Alan Levin) was last heard on WCMF on Dec. 21, when he began his scheduled end-of-the-year vacation. His contract ran out Dec. 31, and the rest of his morning-show cast was on the air without him all last week while contract talks played out.

At week's end, both Wease and Entercom were expressing hope that they'd come to a fairly quick settlement; Entercom can ill afford to lose the main revenue draw on the station it just spent so much money acquiring from CBS Radio, and for Wease, there are few other options to continue doing the radio show he loves doing. (With CBS out of the market, the only other active major player in Rochester radio now is Clear Channel, and that company's not adding any expensive new talents to any of its stations.)

Over in Syracuse, a veteran broadcaster is moving on to a new challenge. Dow Smith came to Syracuse University in 1995 from a lengthy management career that included several years as VP/GM of Albany's WTEN (Channel 10). While at SU, Smith wrote a textbook for TV news producers. Now he's retiring from Syracuse and returning to the Albany area to launch an electronic journalism program at Siena College.

*In CONNECTICUT, Clear Channel's WELI (960 New Haven) has named a replacement for Jerry Kristafer, who's headed north to Hartford's WDRC-FM for mornings. As had been widely rumored, WELI will pick up Don Imus for its morning drive slot, effective next Monday (Jan. 14).

In Westport, they're mourning the death on Dec. 27 of Robert A. "Red" Graham, Jr. Graham had many careers in his long life, including a managerial role at IBM, a traveling life as a theatrical performer and a later career as a travel agent. But in broadcast circles, he was known for his 10 years at the helm of WMMM (1260 Westport), which he ran from 1987 until 1997, when he donated the station to Sacred Heart University's WSHU. Graham was 94.

*In addition to the Nassau/WEEI/WCRB developments we covered at the top of the column, there's other news out of MASSACHUSETTS, starting with a new format on the AM dial. WJOE (700 Athol) quietly dropped its oldies format last Wednesday (Jan. 2), flipping to ESPN sports. And there's a new face in the operations manager's chair at WJOE and sister stations WGAW (1340 Gardner) and WNYN (99.9 Athol): Steve West is now holding down that role, as well as hosting a morning talk show on WGAW (and maintaining the always-excellent site!)

More Radio People on the Move: Mike "Big Daddy" Morgan, who had been morning executive producer at WJMN (94.5 Boston) until his job was cut back in 2006, has landed at Entercom's WMKK (93.7 Mike FM) as assistant PD. Out in western Massachusetts, Win Lewis is the new PD at smooth jazz WEIB (106.3 Northampton). And a radio play-by-play on the move: Tuesday's New Hampshire primary coverage will displace the match between the Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes from WBZ (1030) to WODS (103.3).

You can have your ad here! Click here for information on the most economical way to reach tens of thousands of Northeast radio and TV people each week.

*A contract dispute leads off our PENNSYLVANIA news. Lloyd Roach was one of the founders of the Route 81 Radio group back in 2003, combining his own WCOJ (1420 Coatesville) with capital from the investment firm WallerSutton to form a group that included holdings in the Harrisburg, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Elmira markets.

Roach departed Route 81 in 2005, and an FCC ruling issued last week provides some insight into the dispute that developed between him and the cluster he left behind. In 2006, Roach filed petitions to deny against the license renewals of WCOJ and Route 81's other Pennsylvania stations, WHYL (960 Carlisle), WNAK (730 Nanticoke), WCDL (1440 Carbondale), WAZL (1490 Hazleton) and WLNP (94.3 Hazleton).

Roach claimed that WCDL and WLNP were out of compliance with FCC main-studio rules, that WNAK and WHYL had technical problems with their towers, and that Route 81 in effect stole his equity interest in the company. The FCC quickly tossed out the first two complaints, finding that the stations were in compliance with the rules.

As for the third charge, which stemmed from Roach's September 2005 decision to exercise a "put option" to sell his 18.9% interest in Route 81, the Commission found that to be a question for the courts, renewing the licenses and dismissing Roach's complaints. (But we'd note an interesting revelation from the decision: Route 81 says it advised Roach against exercising that option back in 2005, warning him that the lack of cash flow at the stations would end up leading to his options being valued at zero, as indeed they were. (The FCC also denied Roach's claim of discrimination based on his status as a Vietnam veteran.)

Some other news from around Scranton and vicinity: up on Penobscot Mountain, WNEP (Channel 16) restored an analog TV signal to the air at reduced power on New Year's Eve. With the loss of its old tower, WNEP's new analog signal comes from the neighboring American Tower site that's home to WNEP-DT (Channel 49) and WOLF-TV/DT. Also back on the air is WVIA-DT (Channel 41), from the remaining portion of its tower, which was partially destroyed by the storm.

On the radio side of things, Kelly Green (Jayme Gordon) is departing Entercom's WGGY (101.3 Scranton), where she's been music director and afternoon jock, reportedly heading for a new gig in South Carolina; Jessie Roberts takes over as PD at "Froggy."

In Erie, WICU (Channel 12) has a new news director, as Julie Eisenman replaces Phil Hayes, who'll stick around to do some consulting.

And while Stu Nahan was best known for his TV sports work in Los Angeles, he's remembered by old-timers in Philadelphia, too, for his stint as "Captain Philadelphia" on the old WKBS (Channel 48) and for his mid-sixties play-by-play for the Flyers. (He also played a boxing commentator in the Rocky movies.) Nahan died Dec. 26 in Los Angeles; he was 81.

*In CANADA, we can now put a price tag on the deal that transfers CIKZ (106.7 Kitchener-Waterloo) to Rogers and CICX (105.9 Orillia) to Larche Communications; the Kitchener-Waterloo station is valued at C$12.2 million, while the Orillia station is valued at C$4 million.

Radio People on the Move: in Hamilton, Milkman UnLimited reports that Ben and Kerry, late of Toronto's "Jack" (CJAQ 92.5), are the new morning team at Y108 (CJXY 107.9). And in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Mark Downey replaces the late Perry White in morning drive at CHTD (98.1).

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!)

January 8, 2007 -

  • The new year brought yet another new format to one of NEW YORK's more troubled FM frequencies of late, as CBS Radio made a January 2 (1-02-7, get it?) flip on WNEW (102.7 New York), ditching rhythmic AC "Mix 102.7" in favor of "Fresh 102.7" adult contemporary.
  • By the time the flip finally happened at 5 AM Tuesday, it was no big surprise - the entire "Mix" airstaff was already out the door before the format changed, and the new URL ( had already been sniffed out by the usual messageboard crowds. The new format wasn't hard to figure out, either - after recent talent changes at Clear Channel's longtime market-leading AC "Lite" (WLTW 106.7), there's probably as much chance of stealing some of Lite's audience as there's been in years.
  • No airstaff has been announced yet for the new "Fresh," though we'd be stunned if they weren't at least talking with ousted Lite staffers such as Bill Buchner and J.J. Kennedy. One big change, though: after the WNEW calls survived FM talk, two incarnations of "Blink," and several versions of "Mix," they're finally being retired from 102.7 just shy of their fiftieth anniversary there. Mark down "WWFS" as the new calls for "Fresh" - and look for the WNEW calls to follow much of their old audience south to Florida, where CBS Radio will park them in its West Palm Beach cluster.
  • Speaking of heading south, that's where a lot of CBS Radio staffers will be heading in 2008, as the company prepares to move all of its New York radio stations except WCBS (880) to the 10th and 11th floors of 345 Hudson Street. The move will take WINS (1010) and WWFS from their aging studios at 888 Seventh Avenue, WCBS-FM (101.1) from its digs in the former WLTW space in the Viacom building at 1515 Broadway and WFAN (660) from the basement of the old Kaufman Astoria studios in Queens - and it will put them all in an area that's becoming a hotbed of radio, including the Emmis stations (WQHT/WQCD/WRKS) just up Hudson Street, the new WNYC studios under construction a few blocks away, and the upcoming move of Clear Channel's five FMs to 32 Avenue of the Americas.
  • Moving on to Long Island, the end of 2006 and the start of 2007 brought some big changes on the radio dial, most of them having to do with Michael Metter's Business Talk Radio Network. Just after Christmas, BTRN announced a purchase of The Morey Organization's three remaining FMs on the East End of Long Island. While no format changes are planned for modern rock WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays) or dance WDRE (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke), the active rock format at WBON (98.5 Westhampton) is already history, with a New Year's flip to business talk under new calls WBZB. (Those are the calls BTRN briefly placed on the former WBET 1460 in Brockton, Mass., before changing that station to WXBR.)
  • (We're still trying to nail down the purchase price for the three stations; thus far, the FCC has only posted transfer applications for WLIR and WBON/WBZB, at $1.75 million each. And while BTRN's press release says it's buying all three signals from TMO, its transfer application for WLIR says it's buying only WLIR and WBON/WBZB. Stay tuned!)
  • But while BTRN boosted its reach in eastern Suffolk County, it's losing its signal in Nassau and western Suffolk. It's been LMA'ing WLIE (540 Islip) from Stu Henry, but now that AM facility is getting a new owner. Otto Miller's Principal Broadcasting Network, which bought WJDA/WESX in Massachusetts last year, is paying $14 million for WLIE and will flip it to leased-time ethnic religion upon closing.
  • Talk radio listeners in eastern MASSACHUSETTS had to rearrange their schedules as 2007 began, with some big programming shifts at both Entercom's WRKO (680) and Greater Media's WTKK (96.9).
  • At WRKO, Todd Feinburg's evening talk show is history, with Feinburg moving temporarily into the former John DePetro slot from 9-noon and Michael Savage filling the 7-10 PM slot, followed by Jerry Doyle. (On nights when there's Celtics basketball or - soon - Red Sox baseball in the evenings, Savage will be on delay following the game.) WRKO's still looking for a permanent show for late mornings, though the station says Feinburg may remain part of that solution when it's launched. It's also still courting former House speaker Tom Finneran, who pleaded guilty to felony obstruction-of-justice charges last week, for morning drive.
  • Meanwhile at WTKK, Michael Graham has also moved from evenings to mid-mornings as part of a new lineup that cuts Don Imus off at 9, followed by an hour of Mike Barnicle, then Graham from 10-noon and an expanded three-hour "Eagan and Braude" show from noon-3. Bill O'Reilly now follows Jay Severin at 7, and then Laura Ingraham's on from 9-midnight.
  • In CONNECTICUT, WELI (960 New Haven) starts 2007 without a local newsroom. On December 30, Clear Channel pulled the plug on local news at "Radio Towers Park," eliminating the jobs of Paul Paccelli and Steve Kalb. For the moment, we're told WELI is carrying only national Fox News Radio headlines and short headline updates voiced from WHJJ in Providence, but it will soon have "local" news from Clear Channel's Syracuse-based news hub.

January 6, 2003 -

  • Radio listeners in PENNSYLVANIA's largest market can be forgiven if they're a little confused in the morning this week -- and it has nothing to do with New Year's revelry, just some staffing changes at two Greater Media FMs.
  • We'll start with struggling hot AC WMWX (95.7), which brought familiar Philly voice Glenn Kalina to its morning airwaves this week. Mix also brought Brian Murphy (a Philly vet most recently heard on Boston's WODS) to middays, displacing Lauren Valle, and moved former morning guy Joe Mama to afternoons, replacing Rick Stacy. Just to complete the shuffle, the station won't be carrying Delilah's syndicated nighttime show any longer; her replacement on Mix has yet to be announced. Down the hall at WMMR (93.3), Paul Barsky's latest Philadelphia gig has come to an end. With Barsky's contract not being renewed, 'MMR is using sports guy "Vinnie the Crumb" and former WHFS Washington jock Graeme to handle mornings until a permanent replacement is named.
  • Over in the Williamsport market, Backyard Broadcasting started the new year with a new set of call letters on WSFT (107.9), which relaunches with hotter AC as WRVH, "the River". (NERW notes that Nassau was slapped with a cease-and-desist from Clear Channel after launching a "River" in Easton last year; this one is even closer to WRVV in Harrisburg, as it happens.)
  • While the rumor mill keeps churning in Buffalo (where both UPN viewers had to switch their dials from WNGS, channel 67, to WNLO, channel 23 when that affiliation moved January 1), there's some actual news from elsewhere in NEW YORK.
  • Syracuse's new "Dog" (WWDG 105.1 DeRuyter) hired its first jock, bringing "Scorch" over from competitor WKRL (100.9 North Syracuse)/WKRH (106.5 Minetto). Scorch had been doing mornings at Galaxy's K-Rock; he'll be doing the 2-7 PM shift for Clear Channel's new rocker. South of Syracuse, oldies fans in the Cortland area have a station to call their own again. A few months after WKRT (920 Cortland) switched from oldies to talk, locally-owned WXHC (101.5 Homer) has dropped its AC format to become "Oldies 101.5."
  • Down in the New York market, the end appears to be very near for "Rumba 107," the latest format on the Big City quadcast at 107.1 (WYNY Briarcliff Manor NY, WWXY Hampton Bays NY, WWYY Belvidere NJ, WWZY Long Branch NJ). With the stations changing hands to Nassau soon (for a reported $43 million), the Rumba Web site is already down and we hear the jocks at the Spanish-English hybrid CHR are out of work. We'll be spending some time in the New York market later this month, so stay tuned for the latest on this one.

January 8, 1998-

  • Radio listeners in southern Vermont and New Hampshire are mourning one of the area's best-known morning jocks. Ian Taylor died in his sleep New Year's Eve, just a few days before he was to have started a new job doing mornings on oldies WXOD (98.7 Winchester NH). Taylor was born Edward O'Donnell in Utica, New York in 1952, and attended the now-defunct Graham Junior College in Boston. After working at stations in Utica and Albany, his career included stops at WEQX (102.7) Manchester VT, WPYX (106.5 Albany), and four years as morning host at WKVT-FM (92.7) Brattleboro VT. In recent months, he had been working as a salesman for WYRY (104.9) Hinsdale NH.
  • The oldest TV station in MASSACHUSETTS has a new look. WBZ-TV (Channel 4) unveiled its new logo featuring a "4" in a three-quarter circle Sunday night (you can see it at, albeit in black and white), and was promptly dubbed "The Circle 4 Ranch" by sports anchor and station wag Bob Lobel. The retro-look logo accompanies the launch of BZ's 50th anniversary campaign and revamped morning show.
  • Up the dial and down the road, future PaxNet affiliate WHRC (Channel 46, soon to be WIPX) in Norwell has launched a local newscast of sorts. "Norwell News" debuted last week on channel 46.
  • Emerson College's WERS (88.9) will move into new quarters in August. Emerson's new Ansin Building at 180 Tremont Street gets its name from the parents of WHDH-TV owner Ed Ansin, who donated $1 million to the school. WERS has spent the last 14 years in second-floor studios at 126 Beacon Street.
  • "Kiss 108," WXKS-FM (107.9) Medford-Boston, has been shuffling its DJ lineup in the wake of J.J. Wright's recent departure. Ed McMahon takes over Wright's old 10 AM - 2 PM shift, while "Artie the One Man Party" follows Dale Dorman from 6-10 PM, Skip Kelly works 10 PM -2 AM, and Christine Fox gets the all-night shift. Also shuffling jocks is modern rocker WFNX (101.7 Lynn), where Julie Kramer is replacing Adrian in the 10 AM - 3 PM spot, Angie C. departs the morning show (with Chris Kennedy filling in as interim host), and Cruze, 'FNX's new program director, takes the PM drive slot.
  • In MAINE, Pilot Broadcasting is moving north from its Pine Tree State stronghold in the Waterville-Augusta market. Pilot is paying Tim Martz $5.2 million for his Maine stations. In Presque Isle, that's market-dominating country WBPW (96.9), hot AC WQHR (96.1), and oldies WOZI (101.7). Pilot also gets WHRR (102.9 Dennysville), the Calais-area station that has yet to pick a permanent format.
  • As we'd suspected a few weeks back, RHODE ISLAND now has a Radio Disney affiliate. WHIM (1450 West Warwick) quietly switched from country to kids radio late last month, ending a 30-plus year association between the WHIM calls (for most of that time on 1110) and country music in the Ocean State.
  • The Rochester, NEW YORK market is getting a new low-power TV station. WBGT-LP (Channel 40) is owned by David Grant, a former Rochester TV engineer who now owns Fox affiliate WYDC (Channel 48) Corning-Elmira. Like WYDC, WBGT will go by "Big TV" on the air, and will feature a diet of sitcoms and old movies once it goes on the air later this month. This is the same license as the long-defunct W40AG, although it will transmit from the WRMM-FM (101.3) tower on Rochester's west side instead of W40AG's location on the WBEE-FM (92.5) tower east of town. If WBGT has already cranked up to its full 10 kilowatts, it will have serious signal problems south and east of town; here at the NERW listening and viewing post on the south side, the WBGT color bars are just barely viewable with an indoor antenna. Grant says he's working on UPN affiliation and cable carriage for his new station.

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