September 29, 2008
Scranton's Ron Allen Dies
*One of the legendary voices of northeastern
PENNSYLVANIA radio has died. Ron Allen joined Scranton's
dominant top-40 station, WARM (590), back in 1958 as a member
of the "Sensational 7" team of DJs, spending more than
a decade doing afternoons and the Saturday countdown.
But Allen long outlasted the top-40 heyday of WARM. He transitioned
into WARM's sports director in the late sixties, starting the
"Ron Allen Sportsline" show that continued into the
early nineties, with a short hiatus in the 70s when he took a
PR job at Pocono Downs.
Allen made WARM the voice of high school sports in the region,
and he was a major booster of the Red Barons minor-league baseball
team when it came to town in 1989.
Allen had been off the air since suffering a stroke in 2000,
ending his broadcast career, but he remained in close contact
with many of his former colleagues. After his death last Tuesday,
some of them traveled from around the country for a Friday wake.
Allen's former colleague Dave Yonki, now proprietor of the "590 Forever"
tribute site, reports that attendees included John Hancock, who
was PD at WARM in the mid-eighties and now hosts a nighttime
talk show on WBT in Charlotte, N.C.
Ron Allen was 71.
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*In other Keystone State news, the Scranton morning team of
Jay Daniels and John Webster will mark their 5,000th show on
WEZX (106.9) on Friday. The Scranton Times-Tribune (which
shares ownership and a building with the station) reports that
as far as it can tell, that makes the pair the longest-running
duo still on the air at the same station where they began. That
was back in 1985, and here at NERW we can think of at least one
pair that might have Daniels and Webster beat - Indianapolis'
Bob and Tom started on WFBQ (94.7) back in 1983, and they're
still there, albeit with national syndication added to their
portfolio now. (Any other nominees?)
some closure to report in the case of Bruce Bond, whose fall
from grace was pretty swift after his days in Harrisburg radio
(largely at WNNK, with a later comeback at WRKZ) came to an end
a few years ago. We last saw Bond in May, when he was arrested
in New York City on charges of using stolen bank account information
as part of a scheme to forge checks. Last week, Bond pleaded
guilty to the charges; he'll be sentenced (to up to seven years)
In Philadelphia, WOGL (98.1) has named a permanent replacement
for the late Ron O'Brien in afternoon drive: Cadillac Jack Seville,
whose Philly radio career stretches back to the old WEGX (Eagle
106), had been doing the shift on an interim basis and now gets
to remove "interim" from his title.
Pittsburgh's controversial sports talker, Mark Madden, is
returning to the airwaves, possibly as early as next Monday.
Madden was pulled from the airwaves at WEAE (1250) after some
uncomplimentary comments about Ted Kennedy, and now ESPN has
released him from his contract (which reportedly had another
year left on it) so he can go across town to Clear Channel's
WXDX (105.9 the X). He'll take over afternoon drive at the station,
which is nominally a modern rocker but has always had a strong
talk component, going back to its days as Howard Stern's Steel
City outlet. (And as our friends over at PBRTV.com
point out, the last hour of Madden's 3-7 PM shift will find three
sports talk shows emanating from Clear Channel's studios in the
"Giant Flash Cube" in Green Tree - Madden on WXDX,
Joe Bendel on WBGG 970, and Ellis Cannon on WPGB 104.7.)
In Erie, WQLN-TV
(Channel 54) has disappeared from the analog TV dial. The station's
main antenna failed back on September 15, taking the station
off the air completely, and a temporary antenna that was installed
last week couldn't handle both the analog and digital (channel
50) signals. With the end of analog TV fast approaching, and
with cable systems on the Canadian side of the border already
equipped to receive WQLN-DT for their customers, the public broadcaster
decided to restore the digital signal at full power from the
auxiliary antenna, leaving the analog off the air until the main
antenna can be replaced. That could happen as late as December,
giving WQLN's analog signal just a few more months of life before
the plug is pulled for good next February.
And back in Scranton, Lou Kirchen is moving from the GM's
chair at WNEP (Channel 16) to sister station WBRC (Channel 6)
in Birmingham, Alabama. Her post at WNEP will be filled, on an
interim basis, by general sales manager Chuck Morgan.
Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as
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*A NEW HAMPSHIRE low-power FM station
is getting a new full-power lease on life. The FCC has granted
Highland Community Broadcasting, owner of classical WCNH-LP (94.7
Concord), a construction permit for a full-power signal on 91.5
in suburban Bow. Running 100 watts/439' from Wood Hill, south
of Concord, the signal should be an improvement over WCNH's present
34-watt signal from just west of town. Most critically, the FCC
has granted a waiver to allow Highland to continue to operate
the LPFM signal while it builds the full-power signal, assuring
a smooth transition from 94.7 to 91.5 when the time comes.
Concord's WKXL (1450) is returning to the FM dial - but not,
as had been suspected, with the purchase of the former WKXL-FM,
now silent WWHK (102.3). Instead, Gordon Humphrey's New Hampshire
Family Broadcasting is buying translator W282AF (104.3) from
Concord Bible Fellowship; the translator will move to the WKXL
tower on Redington Road and has already applied for Special Temporary
Authority to relay the AM signal.
In Keene, Saga's getting ready to flip programming
on its WZBK (1220), replacing the "Unrock" standards
format with a simulcast of the progressive talk from sister station
WKVT (1490) across the Connecticut River in Brattleboro, VERMONT.
WZBK simulcasts on translator W276CB (103.1).
And here's a DTV application we've been meaning
to mention for a while now: if New Hampshire Public Television
gets its way, TV broadcasting could return to the highest point
in New England for the first time since the 2003 fire that destroyed
the Mount Washington transmitter facility of WMTW-TV (Channel
WLED-DT (Channel 48) currently operates from the same Mann
Hill tower that's home to WLED's analog signal on channel 49,
but NHPTV has a pending application to relocate the DTV signal
to WMTW's former tower on Mount Washington, running 105 kW average
power. If granted, the move would give WLED-DT primary coverage
over an area extending north almost to Sherbrooke, Quebec, west
over Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, south almost to Concord and
east almost to Augusta, MAINE.
other Pine Tree State news, UMaine sports are switching radio
affiliates in the Bangor market - but it's all within the Blueberry
Broadcasting family. Football and hockey broadcasts from the
Black Bear Sports network (part of the nationwide Learfield group)
had been heard on WVOM (103.9 Howland), but they're shifting
to sister stations WAEI (97.1)/WABI (910), the new WEEI sports
outlets in the Bangor market.
The broadcasts also add a new outlet up north, as Allan Weiner's
new WBCQ (94.7 Monticello) picks up UMaine sports. Its sister
station on AM 780 has changed calls, by the way - it's no longer
WCXH, but WXME, and is reportedly silent after several months
of simulcasting the "Channel X" network from up north.
And down in the Portland market, there's another call change
to report as Atlantic Coast finishes shuffling its formats: WJJB
(1440 Westbrook) is now WRED, parking the call from 95.9 in Saco;
Atlantic Coast has requested the calls WPEI for that signal,
which is part of its chain of WEEI affiliates in the market.
*The MASSACHUSETTS Broadcasters Hall
of Fame held its induction ceremonies Wednesday afternoon at
the Dedham Hilton, and what a class of inductees it was!
roster included reporter/media critic Bill Buchanan, legendary
DJ Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg, WBZ's Larry Glick, Bob
Lobel, Sarah-Ann Shaw and Shelby Scott, veteran TV news anchor
Jack Hynes, station owners Norman Knight (Knight Quality Stations)
and Donald Thurston (Berkshire Broadcasting) - and that was just
the living inductees. Honored in memoriam were WBZ hosts Carl
DeSuze and David Brudnoy, WHDH's Bob Clayton, TV talk host Louise
Morgan, DJs Norm Prescott and Sunny Joe White, and the dean of
Boston talk radio, Jerry Williams.
Radio People on the Move: As WODS (103.3) continues to revamp
its schedule, it's bringing in Tom Kent's syndicated oldies show
for the 7-10 PM slot on weeknights, pushing Mike Finegan's slot
back to 10 PM-2 AM. In Worcester, Steve Donovan returns to WXLO
(104.5 Fitchburg) for mornings, taking the place of fellow standup
comedian Chris Zito. Over at WUMB (91.9), they're shaking up
the schedule a bit, as morning man Dick Pleasants moves to afternoon
drive, with a series of guest hosts (most recently George Knight)
handling morning duty.
On the North Shore, WESX (1230) has completed its transmitter
move, leaving behind the Marblehead site it's called home since
it signed on in 1939 in favor of a diplex with WLYN (1360) at
its site in Lynn. WESX changes city of license from Salem to
Nahant in the process.
Where Are They Now? Emily Barsh, who was a producer at WBZ
(1030) when your editor arrived there in the early nineties,
has been making a name for herself in New York TV production
circles - and we note that she's just signed on with MSNBC as
a producer of Keith Olbermann's "Countdown."
*A RHODE ISLAND program director is
leaving: after seven years at WBRU (95.5 Providence), PD Chris
Novello has resigned. He's being replaced, at least on an interim
basis, by Wendell Clough, a WBRU alumnus who was last at Citadel's
Portland, Maine cluster doing marketing and promotion.
*There's a new morning show in western NEW
YORK: at Citadel's WEDG (103.3 Buffalo), Rich "the Bull"
Gaenzler moves from middays to mornings, filling the space that
PD James Kurdziel has been occupying since the station took Opie
and Anthony off the air a few months ago. Kurdziel moves to middays,
ahead of the Shredd and Ragan show that's settled nicely into
afternoon drive ever since the duo were ousted from mornings
Over at Regent's Buffalo studios, we hear production guru
Skip Edmunds is out after more than three decades at the Rand
Building, starting with the old WBNY (96.1, now Regent's WJYE).
Some translator news from the region: with its Warsaw FM translator,
W279BO (103.7) now running 24 hours a day at 250 watts, Lloyd
Lane's WCJW (1140 Warsaw) is apparently looking to expand. Lane's
paying $5,000 each for two more translators: W286BQ (105.1 LeRoy)
from Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes, and W280EB (103.9 Alfred)
from Daniel Peltz.
In Syracuse, Clear Channel has shifted translator W252AC (98.3
Camillus) back to simulcasting WPHR (106.9 Auburn); it had been
relaying WWDG (105.1 DeRuyter), but that station's being sold
off as part of the Aloha Station Trust.
Over in Johnstown, we hear WIZR (930) has flipped to Catholic
Dennis Jackson has changed the calls on his unbuilt construction
permit in North Salem. The 100-watter on 90.1 won't sign on as
WVWA after all (sob!), but will use the WJJZ calls recently abandoned
in Philadelphia; and, yes, it will be a jazz station when it
signs on next year. (We're still holding out hope for a one-day
WVWA reunion when the station gets on the air...maybe on 9/9/09?)
From the obituary file: former New York Giants football star-turned-broadcaster
Dick Lynch died Wednesday at his home in Queens. Lynch moved
into the broadcast booth when he retired after the 1966 season,
and he went out in style - the last game he called for the Giants
on radio was the team's come-from-behind championship last February.
Lynch was 72.
In Albany, they're mourning Fred Campbell, who was known as
"Coach" at WPYX (106.5), where he did morning sports
for many years. Campbell died last Monday (Sept. 22) at 61.
And we're sorry to report the passing of veteran Binghamton
engineer Ron Shoemaker, who spent 42 years at WNBF-TV/WBNG-TV
(Channel 12). Even after retiring from channel 12, Shoemaker
continued to work part time at WICZ-TV (Channel 40), as well
as for the Binghamton Senators hockey team and Veterans Arena.
Shoemaker died Thursday at 72.
*In eastern CANADA, it looks like
the CRTC didn't fully coordinate with the FCC on a New Brunswick
FM allotment - otherwise, CJRI (94.7 Fredericton NB) wouldn't
have been experiencing major interference from the new WBCQ-FM
on the same frequency over in Monticello, Maine!
CJRI has been granted
temporary permission to use 104.5 while a permanent solution
is found. Owner Faithway Communications is also applying to add
three low-power relay transmitters, with 50 watts each in Woodstock
(101.1), Saint Stephen (99.9) and New Brandon (99.7).
A religious broadcaster in Quebec is getting a new transmitter,
too: CIRA (91.3 Montreal) will bring its "Radio Ville-Marie"
service to Rimouski, with 111 watts on 104.1.
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 LARadio.com
for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support
that's made all these years of NERW possible!)
October 1, 2007 -
- A month after the death of beloved MASSACHUSETTS talk host
Paul Sullivan, WBZ (1030 Boston) has named a replacement for
its weeknight 8-midnight slot - and in keeping with tradition
at the CBS Radio-owned news-talk station, it's an in-house move.
"NightSide with Dan Rea" makes its debut Monday night
on WBZ, and if it doesn't sound like a major shift in the station's
sound, that's the idea, since Rea has been sharing fill-in duties
on Sullivan's old timeslot for months now. (WBZ weekend/swing
host Jordan Rich has been the other regular fill-in on Sullivan's
show; he'll return to his usual duties now.)
- Rea, of course, is best known to Boston audiences for his
33-year reporting career on WBZ-TV (Channel 4), which included
the exoneration of convicted murderer Joe Salvati. But before
he joined the TV side in 1974, Rea was a talk host on WBZ radio,
so in a sense he's coming home to his roots by rejoining the
- After years of effort and planning, VERMONT Public Radio
achieved a long-held goal Monday morning, as it split its programming
into two statewide networks. The "original" VPR network
(WVPS 107.9 Burlington, WVPR 89.5 Windsor, WVPA 88.5 St. Johnsbury,
WRVT 88.7 Windsor, WBTN-FM 94.3 Bennington and several translators)
has become a 24/7 news-talk service, with a new midday lineup
that includes BBC news at 9, On Point at 10, The Story at 1 and
Day to Day at 2. Meanwhile, the classical programming that was
heard in middays on the main VPR network has moved to the new
VPR Classical network, with new flagship WOXR (90.9 Schuyler
Falls NY), WVTQ (95.1 Sunderland) and WNCH (88.1 Norwich), as
well as HD-2 subchannels on WVPS, WVPR, WVPA and WRVT. VPR, which
also launched a redesigned website at www.vpr.net as part of
the relaunch, promises additional VPR Classical frequencies in
the months to come.
- The "Man Talk" format at CBS Radio's WTZN (93.7
Pittsburgh) is over, just six months after "The Zone"
was launched in early April as part of the company's highly-touted
"Free FM" talk initiative. On Monday, the station began
stunting with Christmas music, while dropping hints about a possible
return to the frequency's heritage with top 40 as "B94"
WBZZ. (As we go to press Monday night, there's a site up at www.pitts-urgh.com
that makes copious reference to that "missing B" in
the middle...get it?) Out of work are midday host John McIntire,
afternoon host Scott Paulsen and late morning host Paul Steigerwald
- and off the air, at least for now, are syndicated hosts Opie
& Anthony and Dennis Miller.
September 29, 2003 -
- Just as NERW was going to "press" late Sunday night,
embattled WHAM talk show host Bob Lonsberry was updating his
own Web site with a blistering screed against the community leaders
calling for his dismissal. If Lonsberry's goal was to get himself
fired, he succeeded; just after his regular shift had ended Monday
afternoon (with transit chief Bill Nojay again on fill-in duty),
WHAM issued a statement that Lonsberry had been fired "for
- The final blow, NERW suspects, was a passage in Lonsberry's
column clearly aimed at Rochester's Catholic bishop, Matthew
Clark, in which Lonsberry called the bishop "nothing more
than a funny collar and a title, a self-important relic out of
touch with the leadership above and the worshippers below."
For someone supposedly about to attend diversity training (see
below), such comments clearly were out of keeping, as WHAM acknowledged
in saying "it became obvious to us that (Lonsberry) is not
embracing diversity or the beliefs of the station."
- Lonsberry had been off the air for more than a week, ever
since the Democrat and Chronicle got wind of a pair of off-the-cuff
comments made during two of his shows in late August and early
September. In the first, responding to a news item about an orangutan
escaping from the Rochester zoo, Lonsberry headed into a commercial
break by saying, "Headline - orangutan escapes from zoo,
runs for county executive. Fascinating stuff." In the second,
on September 18, Lonsberry wrapped up his show with his usual
"Listeners on the Loose" segment, in which callers
have 15 seconds to make a comment or, often, play a sound effect
down the line. In response to a caller who played monkey noises,
Lonsberry said, "Freakin' monkey's loose up at the zoo again...and
he's running for county executive. What's with that?"
- Lonsberry is a frequent and outspoken critic of Democratic
county executive candidate and Rochester mayor Bill Johnson,
who happens to be black, and the remarks were taken by many as
a racist comment on Johnson, whose supporters immediately began
circulating tapes of the comments in local media circles. That
turned out to be enough to get the D&C to mention the comments
on its editorial page - which in turn set off a week of protests
against Lonsberry and the station from the local NAACP, a group
of religious leaders and the heads of both the local Democratic
and Republican parties.
- Lonsberry was absent from the airwaves all week, appearing
only in a short and reluctant-sounding recorded apology at the
start and finish of Monday's show. Attorney Frank Cegelski and
transit agency chairman Bill Nojay served as guest hosts for
the week. And after first announcing that Lonsberry would be
back last Wednesday, then today, WHAM and Lonsberry sent out
faxes Thursday night announcing that Lonsberry will stay off
the air "indefinitely" while he undergoes diversity
training. At press time, the NAACP was still demanding Lonsberry's
dismissal and threatening a boycott of the station.
- Some sad news from MASSACHUSETTS: WBZ (1030 Boston) evening
talk host David Brudnoy told listeners last week that in addition
to fighting AIDS, he's also suffering from a rare skin cancer
called Merkel cell carcinoma. Brudnoy says he's already had several
lesions removed from his face, and he'll undergo both chemotherapy
and radiation treatment in the weeks to come, which may cause
him to miss some of his shifts on WBZ, in addition to his extensive
additional work as a WSBK (Channel 38) commentator, newspaper
movie critic and Boston University journalism professor.
- A format change in VERMONT: Bob Vinikoor's WNBX (1480 Springfield)
has dropped its simulcast of talker WNTK-FM (99.7 New London
NH) to become "Real Oldies 1480," with market veteran
Ray LaMire (late of WMXR in Woodstock) doing mornings and a talented
lineup of voices tracking the rest of the day (you should hear
the overnight guy!)
- In MAINE, Bob Duchesne signed off last week from Bangor's
WQCB (106.5 Brewer), where he was the first voice heard on the
station way back in 1986. Duchesne had been Q106.5's morning
man for all of those 17 years, and his honors included being
named the Country Music Association's small market personality
of the year in 1994.
October 1, 1998 -
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- Another station sale in MASSACHUSETTS: This time out, it's
Clear Channel taking possession of the major competitor to its
news-talk WHYN (560) in Springfield. Eleven years after signing
the station on, Curt and Cele Hahn are selling their WNNZ (640
Westfield) to Lowry Mays' big group, which also owns WHYN-FM
(93.1) in Springfield. No word yet on potential changes to the
50-kilowatt (by day, anyway) talker, which was the last major
locally-owned radio station in Hampden County. WNNZ is the descendant
of the old 1570 in Westfield, which was WDEW and WLDM at various
times. Hahn bought out two competing applicants for the 640 channel
before signing it on in July 1987. He points out that it's only
appropriate that a company called "Clear Channel" should
have a station on one of the two CONELRAD clear channels - 640
- In Boston, the big news is on the TV side, as Stu Tauber
resigns after a two-decade stint as general manager of WSBK (Channel
38), effective January 1, 1999. Tauber's departure is just one
of the changes at UPN38 -- it's also cancelling its 10PM newscast
that's produced by New England Cable News, effective October
4. The stated reason is a change of focus, with sports and entertainment
taking precedence over news. NECN will continue to produce news
inserts to run during Bruins games. (NERW notes that the channel
38 newscast has never been a serious ratings threat to WLVI or
WFXT). WLVI, meanwhile, has expanded its Saturday newscast to
a full hour.
- WBUR (90.9) will increase its local news commitment in a
big way on Monday, with the debut of the hour-long "Hear
and Now" at noon. The weekday show will be hosted by Tovia
Smith and Bruce Gellerman, with a full-time staff of six. And
which Boston newspaper called WBUR "99.9" this time?
Believe it or not, it wasn't the big broadsheet...
- Greater Media's making some changes, too. WROR (105.7 Framingham)
will be the first GM station to operate from the new facility
on Morrissey Boulevard, starting this weekend. WBOS, WSJZ, WMJX,
and WKLB-FM will move later on. The WROR move was the most critical,
because Friday is the last day of WROR's lease on its 13th floor
space in the Prudential Tower. Early word from GM folks who've
seen the new studios is that they're very impressive; we're hoping
to visit early next year ourselves. Former WBOS/WSJZ general
manager John Laton is serving as a group-wide consultant in the
move after being ousted from his GM position; that job will not
be filled, we hear.
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2008 by Scott Fybush.