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July 28 & August 4, 2008

"970 DJ" Flips to Talk


EDITOR'S NOTE: We'll be on the road in the Washington/Baltimore area all this week, so NERW will not be published Monday, August 4, unless there's major breaking news in the region. We'll be back with all the news August 11, and of course if there's big news, we'll update from the road. We'll do one more double issue this summer - August 25/September 1 - before returning to regular weekly publication for the fall.

*It may be licensed to Hackensack, NEW JERSEY, but Salem Communications has big New York City plans for the former WWDJ (970).

After spending the last 24 years under various iterations of a religious format, WWDJ changed calls to WTTT late last week, swapping callsigns with Salem's AM 1150 in Boston. (More on that in a bit.)

But the WTTT calls, installed in Boston in 2003 when Salem flipped that station to a talk format, aren't going to be permanent fixtures on the New York dial. Instead, the station - which is in the process of completing its daytime power upgrade from 5,000 to 50,000 watts - will change calls again, possibly as soon as today, to WNYM, becoming "970 the Apple" and flipping to Salem's in-house lineup of syndicated talk programming.

The new schedule, as laid out at the website that went live over the weekend, includes Bill Bennett's "Morning in America," followed by Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt. Similar formats have failed to draw significant ratings in other big cities for Salem, at stations such as WNTP (990 Philadelphia), WIND (560 Chicago) and KRLA (870 Glendale/Los Angeles). But even if it doesn't draw much in the way of numbers in New York, clearing the talk lineup in the nation's number-one market is likely to allow Salem to charge more for national advertising during the shows - and indeed, many have wondered why Salem didn't pursue such a format flip sooner.

Why the WNYM calls? There's a history there - when Salem entered the New York market back in 1981 by purchasing the former WEVD(AM) on 1330, WNYM was the new callsign the company picked. That callsign lasted until 1989, when Salem sold WNYM (which had by then absorbed WPOW, the other half of the old 1330 share-time) and purchased WMCA (570). The former WNYM on 1330 is now WWRV, and continues to transmit from the site in Hackensack shared with 970.

As for that "Apple" nickname, that has a history in New York City, too - a quarter-century ago, it was the new moniker of the former WTFM (103.5 Lake Success), and for a few short years the renamed WAPP had some success as a top-40 outlet and a rocker before going urban as WQHT, "Hot 103.5." (Today, the 103.5 facility is dancing as WKTU, another venerable New York call, while WQHT prepares to mark its twentieth anniversary on its current frequency, 97.1.)

*Even as the Hackensack station changes its call letters, the total number of religious AM stations in the Garden State will remain constant: Millennium Radio is selling WBUD (1260 Trenton) to the Domestic Church Media Foundation for $2.3 million. Domestic Church, based just across the Delaware River in Fairless Hills, PA, will flip WBUD from its current Fox Sports format, which has been in place only since April, to a religious format once the deal closes. The station is also likely to go non-commercial, we hear.

There's a changing of the guard at Citadel's WHTT (Mix 104.1) in Buffalo, as Val Townsend leaves the afternoon shift next month. She's heading for the halls of academia, focusing full-time on her teaching career at Genesee Community College in Batavia; beginning August 18, she'll be replaced by PD Joe Siragusa.

Up north, St. Lawrence University has call letters for two of its new North Country Public Radio construction permits: mark down WSLZ (88.1 Cape Vincent) and WXLQ (90.5 Vergennes VT).

At New York's WWRL (1600), the latest occupant of the morning-drive chair is Daily News columnist Errol Louis.

Where are they now? Former WXRK (K-Rock 92.3) jock Julie Slater is returning to the air in southern California, where she's the new midday talent at Bonneville's AAA "Sound" KSWD (100.3 Los Angeles), starting August 11.

We leave the Empire State with two obituaries: on Long Island, they're remembering Kevin Jeffries, whose career began at college station WCWP and included stints at commercial stations WHLI, WPAC, WBAB, WRIV, WALK and WLNG. Jeffries also worked for Cablevision as a voiceover announcer. He was 59.

And Sherman Maxwell was known on the air as "Jocko" during a radio career that began way back in 1929, when he began announcing sports on WNJ in Newark. Later heard on Jersey City's WHOM and New York's WRNY, Maxwell boasted of being the first black sports announcer in America. While much of his coverage focused on the old Negro League, including a stint as stadium announcer for the Newark Eagles, his career outlasted the league; he remained active on the air as late as 1967. Maxwell died July 16 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, at the age of 100.

Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as an e-book or printed volume!

*After three years at Pamal's Albany-market WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville), most recently as APD/MD and part of the morning team, JD Redman is headed up Route 4 to VERMONT, where he's the new PD at Pamal sister station, top-40 WZRT (97.1 Rutland). Redman starts his new job August 11.

Up the road in Burlington, Vox closed last week on its purchase of Clear Channel's remaining Vermont stations. The sale puts Ken Barlow back in command of AC "Star" WEZF (92.9 Burlington), classic rock "Champ" WCPV (101.3 Essex NY)/WCVR (102.1 Randolph), talk/sports "Zone" WXZO (96.7 Willsboro NY)/WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY)/WTSJ (1320 Randolph) and oldies WVTK (92.1 Port Henry NY).


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 35 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.

*An oft-spinning PD chair in MASSACHUSETTS almost had a new occupant last week. Mike Mullaney, who was morning man, music director and APD at WXRV (92.5 the River) from 1996-1998, announced he'd be returning to the station as operations manager, PD and morning host. But then, late Wednesday afternoon, Mullaney changed his mind, announcing he was staying put at CBS Radio's WBMX (Mix 98.5) in Boston, where he's worked for the last decade, most recently as music director and APD. Who'll take the WXRV PD chair now?

Out west, WSBS (860 Great Barrington) is once again being heard on FM. The community-focused daytimer operated WBBS-FM (105.1) from 1988 until 1993, when the FM was sold, becoming WAMQ, a relay of Albany's WAMC. Now Rick Kelly's W231AK (94.1 Great Barrington), which had been simulcasting WBEC-FM (95.9 Pittsfield), has switched its primary to WSBS, providing a big boost to WSBS' 4-watt night signal.

And while the arrival of the WWDJ calls on Boston's AM 1150 probably won't be much noticed by listeners to the Spanish-language religious format now in place there, we note that the change from WTTT to WWDJ marks callsign number 11 at this facility, making it one of the most frequent callsign swappers on the AM dial. For those playing the home game, 1150 has now been WCOP, WACQ, WHUE, WSNY, WMEX, WROR, WNFT, WAMG, WBPS, WTTT and now WWDJ, leaving second-place WWZN (1510), now on its eighth callsign in 74 years, in the dust.

(Speaking of WWZN, it's moving ever farther away from its former sports format, adding an increasing amount of leased-time religion to its programming.)

*A NEW HAMPSHIRE morning host was abruptly ousted last week. Robert "Woody" Woodland, who'd been hosting the 7-9 shift on WSMN (1590 Nashua), told listeners on July 18 that he'd been fired, and as of Monday, the morning slot was instead home to George Russell, who'd just been hired for 9-11 AM. Woodland had been with WSMN since 2006.

*An historic broadcast facility in CONNECTICUT will soon meet the wrecking ball. "Broadcast House," part of downtown Hartford's Constitution Plaza urban revitalization project of the early sixties, has been vacant since WFSB (Channel 3) moved earlier this year.

WFSB is now in new quarters in Rocky Hill, and last week it announced that it had sold the property to Abdul Islam's AI Engineers, now based in Middletown. AI will pay just $700,000 for the building and land, and Islam says he'll demolish the 47-year-old Broadcast House, replacing it with a new "tech building," parts of which AI itself will occupy, leasing out the rest of the space.

John "JJ" Valliere is leaving WCTY (97.7 Norwich) after two decades; word is that the veteran night host is going to focus on his career as an attorney.

*There's new management in place at one of Route 81's stations in PENNSYLVANIA. Even before its foreclosure woes, Route 81 signed an LMA-to-sell deal for WHYL (960 Carlisle), putting the station in the hands of former GM Bruce Collier and WWII (720 Shiremanstown) owner Joe Green, doing business as Trustworthy Radio LLC. They're now running the station as "Nice 960," keeping its standards format and morning team of Ben Barber and Sandy Loy in place.

In the Lehigh Valley, Rick Michaels and Samantha Layne are back at their old home, morning drive on WODE (99.9 Easton), where they replace Kitty McVay, the surviving half of the Ken and Kitty morning show that broke up in March when Ken Anderson headed for San Francisco's KBWF. Michaels and Layne had been teamed up at "The Hawk" until last summer, when she moved to Philadelphia's WBEB and Ken and Kitty (formerly at WCTO 96.1) returned to the market after a three-year stint in Cincinnati. As for McVay, she's looking for a new radio gig, either in or out of the valley.

Before we leave the Lehigh Valley, we note that Broadcasting & Cable is reporting that the area's public TV station, WLVT (Channel 39), is raising $53 million to move from its present studio on the Lehigh University campus to a new building to be constructed on the grounds of the Sands Casino and Resort that's due to open next year. We also note that B&C, once the bible of the broadcasting industry, referred to the station as "WLTV" throughout its report - any copy editors left over there?

Cumulus now has an AM-on-FM translator in Harrisburg, where WTCY (1400) has been getting a solid audience for years with its "Touch" urban AC format.

Now WTCY is being heard on FM, via translator W237DE (95.3 Harrisburg). The translator runs 60 watts, directional, from the WNNK (104.1) tower, and as of last week the station is now identifying itself solely by the FM dial position, with AM 1400 due to change to a new format.

How can that be? Turns out the translator is really translating WNNK's HD2 signal, which will be the new home of "Touch" - though it has a waiver to translate the AM 1400 signal itself, if it chooses to. (And yes, Cumulus apparently has the FCC's blessing for this, raising the prospect of other HD2-on-translator situations in the future.)

In York, Gary Sutton is staying put at WSBA (910 York); the talk host says he's got a better platform there than he would have if he ran for the state legislature, as he was contemplating.

And in suburban State College, the usually placid studios of religious station WTLR (89.9) were the scene of a shootout Friday morning, when listener Brian Neiman first showed up at a car dealership carrying a gun and saying he needed money, then told the dealership staff he "needed to go on the radio" and left for WTLR's Ferguson Township studios. They called police to warn them of Neiman's threat, and by the time he got to the station, officers were waiting. As station staffers huddled in an inside room of their building, a standoff followed, ending when Neiman drove his truck into a police cruiser and began firing shots from the window. Officers shot back, killing Neiman as his truck drove into a building.

In a statement on its website, WTLR assured listeners "we want to let all our friends know, we are all OK. We have deep gratitude to the Lord for His gracious, sovereign protection and for the incredible bravery of the local police officers who put their lives on the line to save ours."

*Broadcasters in CANADA are abandoning the AM dial in droves - and now competitors Newcap and Rogers have found a way to swap properties that will allow each of them to get rid of an AM signal, replacing it with an FM.

For Newcap in Halifax, Nova Scotia and for Rogers in Sudbury, Ontario, the CRTC rule limiting a single owner to no more than two FM signals in a market has been a problem. In Sudbury, Rogers has CJRQ (92.7), CJMX (105.3) and CIGM (790), the last remaining AM in the market. In Halifax, Newcap owns CFRQ (104.3), CKUL (96.5) and that market's last AM, CFDR (780) - and when it purchased CKUL earlier this year, it was unable to carry out its application to move CFDR to FM, which the CRTC had granted in 2007 on the condition that Newcap sell its then-50% interest in CKUL.

So Rogers and Newcap are trading their AMs, giving Newcap a second station in Sudbury, where it owns CHNO (103.9), and giving Rogers a second station to add to its existing news station, CHNI (95.7), in Halifax. Rogers will pay Newcap C$5 million to even out the deal.

And since Rogers and Newcap each own only one FM in Halifax and Sudbury, respectively, there will be no ownership-limit issues with moving both CFDR and CIGM to FM. (CFDR's application called for 21 kW on 88.9; there's no word yet on what frequency or power CIGM will seek in Sudbury).

There was another AM-to-FM move in Ontario last week, but CHOK (1070 Sarnia ON) isn't going silent. Because Blackburn Radio already owns two FM signals in Sarnia, CFGX 99.9 and CHKS 106.3, it can't flip CHOK completely to FM. It can, however, add an FM booster for in-city coverage, and that's just what happened last Wednesday (July 23) at 7:10 AM, as CHOK-FM1 signed on at 103.9. The station is now known as "Country 103.9," and its airstaff remains intact.

Now that Moses Znaimer has taken control of CHWO (740 Toronto), he's putting his imprint on the big-signal standards station. As of July 22, its new calls are CFZM, matching sister station CFMZ-FM (Classical 96.3). The "AM 740" on-air branding remains intact, as does the station's airstaff, for now.

The former "Roger, Rick and Marilyn" morning show at Toronto's CHUM-FM (104.5), more recently "Roger and Marilyn," is once again at full strength as Darren B. Lamb joins the morning shift; he'd been doing afternoons at CHUM-FM.

Speaking of CHUM, new owner CTVglobemedia is selling the station's building at 1331 Yonge Street to a developer. Aspen Ridge Homes is paying C$21.5 million for the property, which has been home to CHUM (1050) and CHUM-FM since 1959. There's no word on where or when the CHUM stations might move - or what might happen to the neon "DIAL 1050" sign that has been part of the landscape on Yonge south of St. Clair for half a century now.

(NERW notes that this will mark the second major studio move stemming from CTV's purchase of CHUM; the spinoff of former CHUM TV property CityTV to Rogers is forcing that station to move from its own iconic home on Queen Street West after several decades there.)

In Ottawa, they're mourning two broadcasters who died far too young. CHEZ (106.1) news anchor Cindy Woods-Lunney died July 17 after a long fight with breast cancer; she was 46. And on Friday (July 25), CFGO (Team 1200) lost morning co-host Tim "Buzz" Kilpatrick. He had been in the hospital for about a week after being diagnosed with a lung infection; he was just 41.

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!)

July 23/30, 2007 -

  • The upstate NEW YORK market of Utica/Rome has been a problem for Clear Channel ever since the company announced it was shedding most of its smaller-market stations. With a cluster that exceeds current market caps, in an over-radioed market that's at best stagnant, the group of four AMs and five FMs wasn't included in the list of stations Clear Channel is selling to the Goodradio.TV group (which isn't "Goodradio.TV" anymore, but we'll get to that later in this week's issue), and for a while it looked as though the company simply wasn't finding a willing buyer for the stations. That changed on Thursday, when Ed Levine's Galaxy Communications announced a deal under which it will buy the Clear Channel cluster, spinning off four of the CC stations to another local broadcaster, Ken Roser, and one of the CC stations and one of Galaxy's existing Utica stations to EMF Broadcasting.
  • So what does it all mean? For Levine, who just exited the Albany market with a sale of two stations (plus a Syracuse rimshot FM) to EMF, it means a much stronger position in a Utica/Rome market that's suddenly far less crowded. Galaxy's two rock FMs, modern rock "K-Rock" WKLL and classic rock-leaning WRCK, had been locked in a tight battle with Clear Channel's rock WOUR and classic hits "River" WOKR. Levine tells NERW that WOUR's strong brand and long rock history in the market persuaded him to keep the competitor he's acquiring, while shutting down his own WRCK (and taking it out of commercial competition by selling it to EMF.)
  • Levine says he'll combine the existing "Sports Stars" programming from the two AMs he's acquiring (WIXT 1230 Little Falls and WRNY 1350 Rome) with the Syracuse University sports package Galaxy recently landed and with the strong signal of his existing WTLB 1310 Utica to create a new three-station sports network with a much more potent reach than the existing "Sports Starts" quad-cast, and he says no changes are planned right now for "Mix" WUMX.
  • A venerable set of MASSACHUSETTS call letters will move to yet another spot on the dial (just over the state line in NEW HAMPSHIRE, actually) on Wednesday. That's when Costa-Eagle will move the WCCM calls and talk format down the dial from its present home on Haverhill-licensed 1490 to the 1110 signal that's licensed to Salem, NH. 1110's current occupant, Spanish talk "Impacto" WCEC, will take over the 1490 signal - and listeners who've been following the "WCCM" identity around the dial will have to adjust their presents for the second time in five years.
  • It was back in August 2002 that Costa-Eagle dislodged WCCM from the most potent signal in its cluster, the Lawrence-licensed 800 facility that had operated as WCCM since 1947, in order to install Spanish tropical WNNW (previously at 1110) on the 800 signal. WCCM in turn replaced the equally venerable WHAV on 1490 - but that signal, while licensed for fulltime operation, was hard to hear in much of the Lawrence area even by day, and nearly impossible at night. That, in turn, made it vaguely pointless for WCCM to carry some of the Lawrence-oriented programming it had carried, not to mention Lowell Spinners baseball, which was heard on 1490 for several years as well.
  • The latest move will bring WCCM's signal back to more solid coverage of Lawrence and vicinity, but at a price - the 1110 signal signs off at sunset, with no night power at all, so there still won't be local sports on the "new" WCCM. As for WCEC on 1490, the Hispanic population in and around Haverhill continues to grow, so that half of the move promises to be successful - but we still vividly remember the days, not all that long ago, when Haverhill, Lawrence and Lowell each had multiple local English-language radio voices, too, and it's sad to think that the days of the old WHAV, WCCM and WLLH are long gone.
  • Where are they now? Trip Reeb, who went from the PD chair at WCMF in Rochester to a long and successful career programming the legendary KROQ in Los Angeles before becoming the victim of budget cuts out there last year, has landed in San Diego. He's the new president/CEO of Finest City Broadcasting, which operates several Mexican signals aimed at San Diego, including the well-known "91X" (XETRA-FM). And speaking of ex-Rochester folks in San Diego, we're sorry to report that Dave Mason, who started his career back at WSAY in Rochester, then moved on to stations such as WHTX and WTAE in Pittsburgh and WKRC in Cincinnati, is out of a job at KOGO (600 San Diego), where he was doing mornings. KOGO is bringing in Chip Franklin from Baltimore's WBAL, and Mason's now available and looking for a new gig. (2008 update: Mason spent a few months at the San Diego Union-Tribune's before moving to mornings at "105.7 the Walrus," XHPRS-FM.)

July 28/Aug. 4, 2003 -

  • The news from CANADA this week seems to be the same as the news from Canada last week, and the week before...yet another station has dropped a top-40 format to stake its hopes for higher ratings on the classic hits/hot AC hybrid variously known as "Jack" (the original, developed down on Long Island by Bob "Cadillac Jack Garrett" Perry and friends), "Bob" and "Dave."
  • When the CHUM Group does it in places like Ottawa and Brockville, it's Bob - as listeners to London's CHST (102.3) discovered Thursday night, when top 40 "Star 102.3" went away and resurfaced as "102.3 Bob FM." What frontiers still remain for this format? Canada's #1 market already has it, of course - though there's an interesting rumo(u)r that CHUM actually contemplated flipping CHUM-FM itself to "104.5 Bob FM" before Rogers beat it to the punch and flipped CISS (92.5) from "Kiss" to "Jack" - but there's still Montreal and Windsor to conquer. And we'll be interested to see whether U.S. broadcasters begin taking note of Jack and Bob's ratings success north of the border and hop on the Bob-wagon.
  • Speaking of Toronto, CHIN-1-FM (101.3) is moving spots on the dial. We hear its new 91.9 signal is already being heard in the Etobicoke area; 101.3 will go away soon to make room for the new Canadian Multicultural Rado signal up there. (CHIN-1-FM simulcasts CHIN's AM 1540 signal, a separate program feed from the big CHIN-FM 100.7 signal.)
  • And a launch date has been set for Toronto's new TV station. "Toronto One" will sign on September 19, promising a program lineup that includes locally-produced entertainment shows, "Monday Night Football," the Toronto Raptors and Fox's baseball playoff schedule, the World Series and all. Toronto One will appear for broadcast viewers as CKXT-TV (Channel 52), with a low-power relay on channel 45 in Hamilton. On cable, it'll show up somewhere below channel 14, though a definite position hasn't been announced yet.
  • The newest radio station in PENNSYLVANIA signed on Friday. WPHD (96.1 South Waverly) is stunting as "Fab 96," playing nothing but Beatles music for a coverage area that stretches north and east to Elmira, N.Y.; that's the same stunt that owner Kevin Fitzgerald used to relaunch what's now "Cozy 104," WCOZ (103.9 Laporte), a few months back.
  • Can you believe it's 20 years this week since WVNJ-FM (100.3 Newark) sailed (very softly) into the sunset? It was August 1, 1983 when Malrite took over that signal and turned it into a major player in the New York market - and so we wish a very happy birthday to WHTZ, "Z100," though we hear there won't be much in the way of on-air celebration of this anniversary. (Frankly, having just come from a Ringo Starr concert that featured Colin Hay of Men at Work, Sheila E. and John Waite, we're equally convinced that the audience that loved those tunes on Z100 in 1983 isn't still listening to the station these days...)
  • TV viewers in Utica, NEW YORK had two choices last week if they wanted to see local news. This week, they're down to just one after Clear Channel shut down the news operation at ABC affiliate WUTR (Channel 20), closing the books on a newsroom that's struggled in second place in the Mohawk Valley ever since the station's 1970 sign-on. For a little while in the mid-nineties, WUTR almost caught up to dominant NBC affiliate WKTV (Channel 2), but the station's eventual sale to Ackerley - putting it in the same hands as ABC affiliate WIXT (Channel 9) 45 miles away in Syracuse - put the pieces in place for its eventual demise.
  • While WUTR got a snappy new graphics package from WIXT, it also lost much of its independence as Ackerley moved the station's master control and, later, its morning newscast to Syracuse. Weekend news came and went on channel 20, setting in motion a vicious circle that gave WKTV more viewers and WUTR less money to work with. So it was no great surprise on Friday (Aug. 1) when WUTR's 5 PM newscast failed to appear, and in its place was the WIXT broadcast, with all that news of Oswego and Auburn and Cortland and DeWitt that Utica viewers care so little about. And WIXT's newscasts are all that WUTR viewers will see now, if they bother to watch. Clear Channel, which bought WUTR and WIXT (and four other upstate stations) from Ackerley, says it will provide additional coverage of Utica-area weather and news on the WIXT/WUTR newscasts - but do WIXT viewers want coverage of New York Mills and Herkimer? (We'd bet not.)
  • In RHODE ISLAND, the new owners are touting their plans for WALE (990 Greenville), telling a very gullible Providence Journal-Bulletin reporter some of the tall tales that seem to be endemic to that troubled facility. The ProJo obligingly reported over the weekend that WALE will soon power up to serve an area that will include "Hartford, Worcester and Boston" (does WXCT 990 in the Hartford market know?), and that the calls will change to "WMAX" when the sale closes this fall. (Those calls are already taken, on AM in Bay City MI and on FM down in the Atlanta market.)

July 24/30, 1998-

  • If at first you don't succeed...shuffle your anchors around and try again. That seems to be the philosophy at WBZ-TV (Channel 4), where the latest anchor shuffle splits the team of Jack Williams and Liz Walker after almost 20 years together. Here's how it plays out: Walker will move from co-anchoring the 6 PM newscast to a new hourlong newscast at 5. Williams will anchor the 6 by himself, at least for now (although Virginia Cha is rumored to be joining him there sometime soon), and Joe Shortsleeve gets promoted to co-anchor at 5 and 11. Getting ousted from their evening spots are veteran meteorologist Bruce Schwoegler and anything-but-veteran wrestling-announcer-turned-anchor Sean Mooney. Schwoegler moves to weekends for now, although NERW hears he's looking at other jobs both on and off the air. Mooney goes to mornings after less than a year as 11PM co-anchor; always-tactful BZ chief Ed Goldman tells the Boston Globe he's "not going to say we screwed up" by putting Mooney in such a high-profile slot. Ed Carroll, who came to WBZ from Springfield's WGGB (Channel 40) a few years back, gets the top weather slots at 5, 6, and 11, with Barry Burbank joining Mooney, Suzanne Bates, and Scott Wahle on the morning crew in Carroll's old spot. At noon, WBZ radio legend Gary LaPierre keeps his TV side gig. NERW's sorry to see Schwoegler get demoted; as with Williams' removal from the 11 last year, we don't see what's to be gained by taking a well-liked, well-respected broadcast veteran off the air.
  • Somebody tell the folks at 5 TV Place they can go home now: This week's issue of TV Guide has an article about children's TV, with a mention of the "now-defunct WCVB" in Boston. (Well, it must be -- after all, WHDH-TV is alive and well, right?)
  • In NEW YORK, the morning team of Mason and Sheehan will soon be history in the Albany market. After moving from WPYX (106.5) to WXCR (102.3 Ballston Spa) last year, the duo apparently failed to provide the ratings boost that the newer rock station hoped for, so WXCR is buying out their contract effective August 31. Across town at WFLY...was the Hillary Clinton banner stunt we told you about last week actually done with the full knowledge of station management? And was the one-day "suspension" of the jocks involved actually a planned publicity stunt? That's what we're hearing, and we're not surprised. And, hey, it landed WFLY a mention in Time magazine this week...
  • It's been a while since we've had a RHODE ISLAND story, but this week's NERW begins with two of 'em: After more than eight years on the air, Mary Ann Sorrentino's contract with WPRO (630 Providence) isn't being renewed. Sorrentino was allowed on the air for the first few minutes of her 9-noon shift last Friday to say goodbye to her listeners. Afterward, she held a news conference to express her disappointment with WPRO management, particularly operations manager Ron St. Pierre. Morning host Steve Kass has had an extra hour added to his shift, which now ends at 10, and WPRO is looking for a replacement host for the 10-noon show.
  • Down in Newport, WADK (1540) is back on the air after a series of technical mishaps kept it mostly silent for several days. WADK's transmitter was damaged by lightning in June, and a transformer blew last Friday morning, knocking the station off the air for the weekend. The station was back to normal by Tuesday midday, according to Providence newspaper reports.
  • Moving north, we find no news in NEW HAMPSHIRE but plenty in MAINE, where Tryon-Seacoast closed on its purchase of WCME (96.7 Boothbay Harbor), flipping it to a simulcast of Augusta country station WKCG (101.3) at 6 PM Monday. Tryon-Seacoast is itself being bought by Cumulus, but that deal has yet to close.
  • Our NEW YORK news starts with a station sale in the Albany market: funky little AAA WXLE (104.5 Mechanicsville) passes from Foley Broadcasting to the decidedly un-funky folks at Capstar, with a reported $2.6 million going the other way. It joins the former SFX Albany group -- WTRY (980 Troy/98.3 Rotterdam), WPYX (106.5 Albany), and WGNA (1460/107.7 Albany) under the umbrella of the Hicks, Muse folks from Texas. Staying in the Capital District for a moment, we note a series of changes at Brian Larson's religious stations north of Albany, with WNGX (91.9 Argyle) changing to WNGN and the former WNGN (97.5 Hoosick Falls) taking the WZEC calls in preparation for its future as a simulcast of Auritaur's WBEC-FM (105.5 Pittsfield MA). W04DA in Troy becomes WNGX-LP, just to keep the calls in the Larson family. And congratulations to veteran Albany broadcaster (and friend of this column) Joe Condon of WROW/WYJB. He's been nominated for "Medium Market Personality of the Year" in the Marconi awards, and you can guess who NERW'll be rooting for come October. (Other Empire State Marconi nominees: New York's WQEW (1560) for Adult Standards Station and WSKQ (97.9) for Spanish Station of the Year.)
  • In the Hudson Valley, it looks like WVIP (1310 Mount Kisco) won't go permanently silent after all. Jonathan Becker's Suburban Broadcasting, which owns WGCH (1490) just over the Connecticut state line in Greenwich, has agreed to pay the estate of Martin Stone $675,000 for the dark station. You'll recall that WVIP was silenced last fall by a fire that destroyed its studio.
  • What's the callsign, Lowell?: There's still a lot of confusion over the call letters of the future PaxNet stations upstate. Batavia's (or, if you're PaxNet, "Buffalo/Rochester's") WAQF (Channel 51) is still listed as such in the FCC database, but on the website at it becomes WUPX (which should just thrill the Fox folks at WUTV Buffalo and WUHF Rochester). Syracuse's Channel 56 appears on the website both under its current WAUP calls and its future identity as WSPX. From what we hear, neither station will be ready for air when PaxNet launches August 15.

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