October 20, 2008
Job Cuts at Entercom
*Wall Street's lack of confidence in radio
stocks hit home in eastern MASSACHUSETTS in a big way
late last week, as Boston became one of the Entercom markets
to weather big job cuts as the broadcaster's stock continued
to fall. A year ago, ETM traded for more than $18 a share; it
closed Friday at $1.40, matching other radio groups such as Citadel
and Westwood One in their financial agonies.
In addition to some company-wide austerity measures, including
pay freezes and a halt on company contributions to employees'
401(k) plans, Entercom cut staff at its stations around the country.
Boston, the most visible cut was in mid-mornings at troubled
talker WRKO (680), where Reese Hopkins had joined the station
last December as its lone African-American host, drawing some
rare critical praise for the station amidst its struggles with
high-priced morning man Tom Finneran and afternoon star Howie
Carr, whose attempt to flee to competitor WTKK was thwarted amidst
some contentious lawsuits a year ago.
That didn't make Hopkins any less expendable, though - and
now he's out the door, his local shift replaced by a live clearance
for Laura Ingraham, whose syndicated offering had been heard
in late nights on WTKK.
Also out at the Boston Entercom cluster: WRKO executive producer
Andy Strecker and WAAF morning show producer Dave DiGando, along
with at least nine others behind the scenes.
*When the Red Sox faced off against the Rays Saturday night
for Game 6 of the ALCS, the game was missing from TV screens
across Sox Nation thanks to a technical disaster at TBS headquarters
No, it wasn't a crazed Braves fan seeking revenge - as best
we can tell from what TBS is saying publicly, it was a fluky
set of circumstances involving a massive power surge that fried
not one, but two routers and made it impossible for TBS (or several
other Turner networks) to switch any external feeds out of the
Granted, if it had been up to us, we'd have bumped Headline
News off the air and switched the whole mess from CNN's New York
control room, or given ESPN emergency clearance to put the international
feed that it was producing on its domestic network until the
TBS broadcast could be restored...but in any event, it gave the
WRKO broadcast team a chance to reconnect with a Boston audience
suddenly deprived of a video feed.
And in the end...well, if destiny calls for the Series to
be played by a team playing in a large, dank parking garage with
ugly carpeting where a field is supposed to be, then so it goes.
(But, Tito, did you really have to leave Lester in that
*Clear Channel has a new market manager for its Worcester
stations, WTAG/WSRS: Sean Davey adds those responsibilities to
his existing duties 45 minutes to the west at Clear Channel's
Springfield cluster (WHYN/WHYN-FM/WPKX). He replaces Mike Schaus,
who exits the Worcester cluster.
Across town, Sully is out as morning sidekick on WXLO (104.5
Nassau's WCRB (99.5 Lowell) is losing its general manager,
as Paul Kelley joins Saga Communications as VP/market manager
for its cluster in Norfolk, Virginia.
NERW readers may recall that one of this column's frequent topics
in its early years was the woeful state of reporting in the Boston
Globe about the radio industry. That changed a few years
back, when Clea Simon took over the paper's "Radio Tracks"
column. Sadly, the ongoing cutbacks at the Globe have
taken their toll on its radio coverage, and this
past week's column (which focused on our good friend Donna
Halper, and also mentioned a certain Tower Site Calendar) marks
the end of a good run for Simon - and, after one farewell column
next week, of regular radio coverage in what was once New England's
newspaper of record.
The Globe's impending redesign also means the end of
the weekly TV listings book, which appeared in yesterday's Sunday
Globe for the last time.
And it's not just Morrissey Boulevard facing cuts: in Chicago,
Robert Feder, whose Sun-Times column was probably the
best local newspaper column about broadcasting still being published,
took a buyout offer and offered up his
last column last week.
Here at NERW, we're a little saddened to have outlasted these
and other fine columns (Dean Johnson in the Boston Herald
and Mark McGuire in the Albany Times Union come immediately
to mind), and all the more committed to being here each and every
week as we approach our 15th anniversary next year.
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*NEW YORK's only NFL team, the Buffalo
Bills, won their matchup with the San Diego Chargers Sunday afternoon,
but not without some headaches for anyone who wasn't watching
from the chilly confines of Ralph Wilson Stadium.
A stray helium balloon apparently floated into a high-voltage
line next to the stadium just before game time, knocking out
power to the stadium itself and to the broadcast trucks parked
outside - and that meant that CBS viewers missed big chunks
of the game action until power could be restored and the broadcast
back to New York could get back on line.
Of course, many
viewers in the Buffalo market weren't seeing the game, anyway,
as the carriage dispute between LIN's CBS affiliate WIVB (Channel
4) and Time Warner Cable drags on. It's reportedly costing WIVB
in the form of significant drops in ratings and ad revenue -
and while Time Warner says it's not recording higher disconnect
numbers than usual, we're hearing that Dish and DirecTV installers
have been very busy in the last few weeks.
While some Time Warner customers in Niagara County had access
to the game broadcast (such as it was) on Toronto's CFTO, the
CTV affiliate was blacked out on cable in other parts of the
market where it doesn't meet the FCC's "significantly viewed"
So that left radio as the link between many Bills fans and
the game, and flagship station WGRF (96.9 Buffalo) came through,
putting its announcers on cell phones at one point to keep the
broadcast going when the power failed in the booth.
(And about that "only NFL team" claim - last time
we checked, the Jets and Giants both play their games in New
Jersey, don't they?)
*The Entercom cuts hit the Rochester cluster last week, too:
cuts there included at least one on-air position: WCMF (96.5)
night guy "Big Marc" Ferenchak, who'd been one of the
handful of survivors when WCMF changed hands from CBS to Entercom
a year ago.
(Ironically, one of the jocks who lost his job in that shakeup
is returning to the air - Dino Kaye, who's been doing sales for
WHEC-TV since losing his WCMF gig, has been hired by Stephens
Media to do afternoons at its WFKL 93.3. He'll be selling for
Stephens when he's not on the air at "Fickle.")
Bruce Mittman's Community Broadcasting group is adding another
signal to its Watertown-market cluster: it's paying LiveAir Communications
$200,000 for the construction permit of WEFX (94.1 Calcium).
The new station will join a cluster that already includes talker
WATN (1240 Watertown), ESPN outlet WBDB (1400 Ogdensburg), talker
WQTK (92.7 Ogdensburg), oldies WGIX (95.3 Gouverneur), AC WTOJ
(103.1 Carthage) and top 40 "Border" WBDR (106.7 Copenhagen).
Finger Lakes Radio Group is adding another translator in Ithaca.
In addition to its existing mini-cluster of top 40 startup WFIZ
(95.5 Odessa) and translator W242AB (96.3 Ithaca, relaying classic
rock "Wall" WLLW 99.3 Seneca Falls), Finger Lakes is
paying $2,000 for new translator W299BI (107.7 Ithaca). What
will it relay? The company's only other full-power FM in the
region is AC WNYR (98.5 Waterloo), but now that crosstown Saga
has set the precedent for HD2-translator relays with its "Hits
103.3" on WYXL (97.3-HD2) and W276AO (103.3), anything's
possible. (And we note that "Hits" is now streaming
At New York's WWPR (105.1), Boston native Free (late of BET's
"106th and Park") joins Ed Lover as morning co-host.
Down the dial at WNYZ-LP (87.7), Jewelz Lopez departs as night
jock - she's headed to Tampa, where she takes middays at WYUU
(92.5). Meanwhile, Andre Ferro joins "Pulse 87.7" for
nights...and what's the big announcement the station is planning
for this morning during the Star and Buc Wild show? We'll update
this week's column as soon as we know.
(Monday update: That would, as rumored, be the end
of the "Star and Buc Wild Show," as the station moves
to an all-music format in morning drive. The official word from
PD Joel Salkowitz was that Pulse's "stationality" was
ill-served by the personality-heavy morning show; given Pulse's
well-reported budget issues, we'd suspect the bottom line was
at play, too.)
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*We can now put a price on the VERMONT
deal that moved Randolph's WCVR (102.1) and WTSJ (1320) from
Bruce Danziger and Ken Barlow's Vox group to their former partner
Jeff Shapiro's Great Eastern: the stations sold for $700,000.
And a correction from last week: the new slogan at WCVR is, logically
enough, "World Class Vermont Rock."
and WTSJ will join all the other stations in the Upper Valley
today as they remember the late DJ Pauline Robbins, who succumbed
to breast cancer in January. Last October, the stations set aside
competition for a day to honor the ailing Robbins with "Polly's
Think Pink Radiothon," raising $37,000 for breast cancer
awareness. Today, they'll again join forces for "Think Pink
II," running from 6 AM until 7 PM on some 20 stations in
Lebanon, Hanover, White River Junction, Randolph, Claremont and
*The analog TV sunset will come a little
early in southern NEW HAMPSHIRE. WZMY (Channel 50) in
Derry is pulling the plug on its analog signal at noon on Dec.
1, reports Broadcasting and Cable. While the My Network
TV affiliate is promoting the shutdown as an early opportunity
for Boston-market viewers to make sure they're ready for the
big day in February 2009, NERW suspects there will be little,
if any, reaction, since WZMY (and its predecessor on Channel
50, WNDS) has always been one of the most cable- and satellite-dependent
signals in the market. (Indeed, its off-air signal was never
seen in our old Waltham home base a decade or so ago...)
*In NEW JERSEY, they're mourning Tom "Mr.
Maze" Maciaszek. The longtime staffer at WOBM-FM (92.7 Toms
River) and WOBM (1160 Lakewood Township) died last week after
three decades at the stations. Most recently, Maciaszek had been
the producer for the morning show on WOBM(AM).
*An obituary in northeast PENNSYLVANIA
as well: back in 1971, Tim Karlson came to the region from
his native Baltimore (where he was born Tim Kidwell) to work
at the now-defunct WSCR (1320), then moved to the market's biggest
station, WARM (590), in 1974. After a brief stab at doing TV
weather in 1983 at WBRE-TV (Channel 28), Karlson made the move
to TV for good as sports director at WNEP-TV (Channel 16) at
the height of that station's dominance.
Karlson was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but he remained on
the air during treatment, turning his hair loss into a signature
feature of his broadcasts, wearing "Karlson's Kaps"
sent in by viewers. As the disease progressed, Karlson left the
air in 2000 to work in creative services on the other side of
the WNEP building.
Karlson was also a part of the broadcast team for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Red Barons in that team's early years.
Karlson died Thursday at his home; he was just 56.
*Christmas came early in Pittsburgh: WWSW (94.5) was in all-holiday
mode over the weekend, but fear not: with more than a week yet
to go before Halloween, the station isn't on the all-Christmas,
all-the-time bandwagon just yet, returning to regular programming
this morning. (In our other life as news editor of 100000watts.com,
we note that the first all-Christmas station this year appears
to be St. Louis' WMVN, which flipped October 10 as it awaits
a format change early in 2009.)
*A new station has formally launched in
CANADA: CJLO (1690 Montreal) stopped testing and signed
on for real last Wednesday (Oct. 15) at 1 PM, kicking things
off with the Replacements' "Left of the Dial."
And Milkman UnLimited reports Darryl Kornicky is departing
Newcap's CILV (Live 88.5) in Ottawa, heading down the 416 and
the 401 to Kingston to become the new morning host at CIKR (K-Rock
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 22, 2007 -
- If NEW YORK radio listeners - at least those who listen to
WABC (770) in the mornings - are a little confused this week,
we don't blame them. After all, it's been a week now since the
Drudge Report "confirmed" that Don Imus would be heading
to WABC for morning drive, beginning December 3. That would mean
the end of the Curtis (Sliwa) and (Ron) Kuby morning show that's
become a fixture on WABC, and indeed, Kuby signed off last Monday
by saying what sounded like a farewell to his audience...except
that no official announcement of the change followed, and indeed,
a week later there's still been no confirmation from Citadel
management that it's bringing Imus back to the airwaves, or that
Kuby's really gone from the station.
- Is Imus really coming to WABC? Probably...but we'd expect
a more coordinated announcement from Citadel than what we're
seeing so far, if only to provide Kuby a more dignified exit.
(Sliwa will stay with WABC, says the rumor mill, perhaps in what's
now John Gambling's midday slot.)
- With former PD/morning host Paul Vandenburgh heading over
to the competition (Regent's WTMM 1300), Pamal's WROW (590 Albany)
has picked a replacement: former WGY talker Scott Allen Miller,
most recently heard in mornings at Boston's WRKO, comes to WROW
to direct programming and host the morning show.
- It's not just the Curtis/Kuby/Imus transition that's not
going quite the way it was meant to go - in MASSACHUSETTS, Howie
Carr continues to fight the ruling that's preventing him from
making the jump from Entercom's WRKO (680) to Greater Media's
WTKK (96.9). Earlier last week, Suffolk Superior Court Judge
Allen van Gestel ruled in Entercom's favor, saying it had the
legal right to match WTKK's offer, and thus to keep Carr's services
locked up until 2012. Carr and his legal team are appealing the
ruling; Carr's not returning to WRKO willingly; and in the meantime
both WRKO's afternoon shift (hosted, for the moment, by Todd
Feinburg) and WTKK's morning drive (where Michael Graham is holding
forth for now) remain in limbo. (With, we'd note, the looming
question of a new Boston home for Imus if he does indeed return
to syndication - could that be WRKO's cue to cut its losses on
the flailing Tom Finneran morning show and install former WTKK
fixture Imus in its morning slot?)
- Amidst all the turmoil at Entercom Boston, there's one morning
host whose position is stable as can be: Greg Hill has signed
up for another five years in morning drive on WAAF (107.3 Westborough),
with no walkouts, lockouts or lawsuits needed. (Congratulations...)
- Most of the commercial radio stations in Rutland, VERMONT
are now operating from a single studio/office location, now that
Pamal has completed its move of WSYB (1380 Rutland) and WZRT
(97.1 Rutland) from the WSYB transmitter site on Dorr Drive to
the Opera House studios that began as the home of WJJR (98.1
Rutland) and later added WJEN (94.5 Rutland) and WEBK (105.3
Killington). The Dorr Drive facility will continue to house the
WSYB transmitter, of course, as well as storage space for Pamal.
- Over in the Upper Valley, we've been remiss in not mentioning
the format change at WMXR (93.9 Woodstock) that replaced "Rock
93.9 & 101.7" with news and talk as "93.9 the Pulse,"
a sister station to WTPL (107.7) over in Concord, NEW HAMPSHIRE.
The talk format includes a local morning show with Greg Fennell,
Glenn Beck, the Gardner Goldsmith show from WTPL, WMUR-TV news
simulcasts and Red Sox baseball. The rock format, including the
Manchester-based "Morning Buzz" show, continues, for
now, on WVRR (101.7 Newport NH) - but that's likely temporary,
with WVRR moving to 101.9 in the Keene market sometime soon.
October 20, 2003 -
- Forever Broadcasting is already a mighty big player in western
PENNSYLVANIA, but it's about to get even bigger in the Altoona
market with a $2.1 million purchase of Vital Licenses' top 40
WPRR (100.1 Altoona) and sports WVAM (1430 Altoona).
- Forever already owns four stations in the heart of the market:
news-talk WFBG (1290 Altoona), country WFGY (98.1 Altoona), oldies
WALY (103.9 Bellwood) and classic hits WMAJ-FM (104.9 Hollidaysburg)
- not to mention two simulcasts to the east, WXMJ-FM (99.5 Mount
Union, simulcasting WMAJ) and WWLY (106.3 Huntingdon, simulcasting
WALY.) And while Johnstown is a separate radio market from Altoona,
it shares a common TV market and some signal overlap - and Forever
has two AMs and three FMs there and is adding another one of
each. NERW notes that the seller here, Vital, is controlled by
Kristin Cantrell, the daughter of Forever principal Kerby Confer
- and that when Vital bought WVAM/WPRR back in 1999, crosstown
competitor WRTA (1240) raised the issue of common control of
the stations, which both sides adamantly denied. At the time,
Forever's four stations controlled 58.5% of the market's revenue,
while the WPRR/WVAM pair had 18.8%.
- Other New York news: Batavia's WBTA (1490) is changing hands
from Kevin Doran (not the same Kevin Doran who anchors the news
on Rochester's WROC-TV) to HPL Communications, whose principal
is Daniel C. Fischer (the same Dan Fischer who's the general
manager of Vox's WKSN/WMHU in Jamestown.) Sale price: $275,000,
not a bad deal for the only commercial station in Genesee County.
- RHODE ISLAND's WPRO (630 Providence) was one of two Rush
Limbaugh affiliates around the country to announce last week
that they wouldn't be carrying the substitute hosts being offered
by Premiere Radio Networks during Limbaugh's monthlong absence
for drug addiction rehabilitation. Instead, WPRO PD David Bernstein
planned to bring his old WOR colleague Joan Rivers to the 630
airwaves - until Premiere stepped in and put pressure on WPRO,
as well as Baltimore's WBAL, to stick with the fill-in hosts.
WBAL actually carried its own hosts in place of Limbaugh for
a few days; WPRO was to have put Rivers on the air today but
reversed its decision late Friday afternoon.
- The student radio station at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell
is about to get its third set of calls. Originally WLTI ("Lowell
Technological Institute"), then WJUL ("University of
Lowell"), the 91.5 facility is about to become WUML, reflecting
the school's current name. The station's student leaders, still
sore over university officials' decision to hand the morning
hours on 91.5 over to the Lowell Sun, say they're not happy about
losing their longtime calls but are powerless to do anything
about it. (They also say UMass leadership is planning similar
call changes for WSMU at what's now UMass-Dartmouth and for WMUA
at the flagship UMass campus in Amherst, and NERW notes that
WUMD and WUMA are both available calls...)
October 23, 1998 -
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- Two of Boston's biggest AM stations will soon have a new
owner. The FCC gave its go-ahead this week to Entercom's purchase
of WEEI (850) and WRKO (680) from CBS, and the deal is expected
to close within days. A few weeks later, CBS will pay Entercom
$75 million for two Tampa Bay-area FMs, and only then will the
deal wrap up with Entercom taking control of CBS' WEGQ (93.7
Lawrence), WAAF (107.3 Worcester), and WWTM (1440 Worcester).
In the end, $225 million will change hands from Entercom to CBS;
the deal is being spread out for "tax reasons," we
hear. The Boston stations used to belong to American Radio Systems
until CBS bought them out -- and now we know what some of that
money is being used for. American Tower Systems, which is still
controlled by ARS' former owners, is spending $100 million to
buy 322 radio towers in Atlanta, the midwest, and the southwest.
- You can't keep them accurate: Boston's largest daily told
its readers on Thursday about new programming at ``WGBH-FM (90.7)''.
By comparison, the newly-colorful tabloid competitition was on
a completely different plane of existence with Dean Johnson's
cogent, insightful summary of the Summer Arbitrons. Did we mention
we're glad to have Johnson's column available on-line?
- A VERMONT college station is fighting for its life after
its transmitter died Monday night. WWLR (91.5) at Lyndon State
College went off the air when its transmitter on Vail Hill smoked
out, and the station estimates the cost of replacement at $21,000.
"Impulse 91.5" was one of the few bright spots on the
Northeast Kingdom radio dial when last NERW was up that way a
few years ago, and we'd hate to see it be silenced. Late word
is that the station will be back on by next Wednesday at a quarter
of its regular power; a new solid-state transmitter will follow
to replace the old tube beast.
- Our NEW YORK news begins with a double swap of city of license.
Jacor's WMAX-FM (107.3) began identifying as "South Bristol,"
rather than "Honeoye Falls" last week, while WNVE (95.1)
now uses "Honeoye Falls" instead of "South Bristol."
What hasn't changed -- yet -- is the actual transmitter sites,
but when it does, 95.1 will move some 25 miles closer into Rochester
by using the Baker Hill site in Perinton, while 107.3 effectively
leaves the Rochester market to run a paltry few hundred watts
from Bristol Mountain. And given that, at least for now, there's
no way the WMAX-FM signal actually reaches South Bristol city
grade, NERW wonders if the changed COL is even legal. (And as
we noted when this application was first filed, it's all game-playing
anyway; neither South Bristol nor Honeoye Falls has even the
remotest importance to the Rochester-based programming of either
- AM DX notes: Montreal's CBF (690) has been missing from the
airwaves, and we're inclined to think CBF is now FM-only on 95.1.
Toronto's CBL (740), scheduled to sign off for good this past
week, has won a reprieve. Because replacement FM CBLA (99.1)
isn't getting out as well as it was supposed to, and because
relay CBLA-FM-1 (90.5 Crystal Beach) hasn't even been built yet,
740 will stay on for at least a few more months, and we'll still
have something to listen to in the NERW-mobile. On the X-band,
three new stations have lit up on this side of the continent:
KCJJ (1630) in Iowa City, Iowa, joining the current 1560 there;
WQSN (1660) in Kalamazoo, Michigan, taking its calls and sports
format from the AM 1470 there, which becomes WKLZ; and WJNZ (1680)
in Ada, Michigan, near Grand Rapids, the X-band offshoot of WMHG
(1600) in Muskegon. 1680 has been widely reported by DX-ers who
have heard its urban format, first under the assigned calls of
WBHD, then as "Jamz 1680."
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2008 by Scott Fybush.