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October 27, 2008

CBS Arrives in Elmira

*For almost six decades, one of the quirks of TV in NEW YORK's Southern Tier has been the lack of a CBS affiliate in the Elmira market. While that small city has had an NBC affiliate (WSYE, now WETM-TV 18) since 1956 and an ABC affiliate (WENY-TV 36) since 1969, viewers in Elmira and Corning (and their cable systems) have pointed their antennas 60 miles east to Binghamton all those years to watch CBS on channel 12, WBNG-TV.

In early 2009, that will change, thanks to WENY-TV. Owner Lilly Broadcasting signed a contract last week to bring CBS to Elmira on a subchannel of WENY-DT, displacing WBNG from cable systems in the Elmira market.

The new CBS service from WENY will apparently launch first on cable, since WENY-DT never built out its interim channel 55 allocation. Instead, WENY will build its DTV signal (also on channel 36) at the Higman Hill transmitter site above Corning, leaving behind the site on Hawley Hill in Elmira that it's shared with WSYE/WETM for forty years. WENY's analog signal has been at low power in recent years, anyway, since a fire destroyed its full-power RCA transmitter.

(NERW notes that the startup of CBS service on WENY-DT will leave only two markets in New York without a full portfolio of "Big Four" network affiliates: there's still no CBS in Utica, where viewers watch Syracuse's WTVH, and no NBC in the Watertown market, served by Syracuse's WSTM and Plattsburgh's WPTZ.)

Between Elmira and Binghamton, Owego's little WEBO (1330) is growing. Owner - and ex-Rochesterian - Dave Radigan flipped the switch Friday morning on his new FM translator, W300BV (107.9), and not only was NERW there to see the Scala antenna get installed on the Tioga County public safety tower just north of Owego, we were also able to hear the new FM signal quite clearly on the west side of Binghamton all weekend.

(W300BV is still awaiting special temporary authority to relay WEBO's AM programming; for the moment, it's carrying religion from the Family Life Network's WCII 88.5 in Spencer instead.)

In Binghamton itself, public broadcaster WSKG is marking the 70th anniversary of "War of the Worlds" with a special broadcast Thursday night on both TV and radio. A crew of local actors and WSKG personalities will recreate the famed 1938 broadcast in the WSKG studios, complete with sound effects, and based on what we saw of the preparations last week, it should be quite a show!

In Buffalo, the Ryan Seacrest juggernaut is claiming the late-morning slot at Entercom's WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls). The arrival of the syndicated "On Air" show in the 10 AM-1 PM slot shifts Shannon Steele (who'd been heard from 10-3) to 1-6 PM. DJ Anthony moves back from 3-7 PM to 6 PM-midnight, displacing Miguel from his evening slot.

Here in Rochester, Brother Wease has picked a staff for his new WFXF (95.1 Honeoye Falls) morning show, set to debut November 17. Joining Wease on "The Fox" will be comedian and Rochester native Jamie Lissow, who returns here from New York City, where he's been appearing on Fox News Channel's "RedEye" show, along with a female sidekick from New York named Lilly, who's worked with syndicated hosts Ron & Fez and Opie & Anthony. Producing the new show will be Anthony Cruz, who's produced morning shows in New York at the old WNEW and WWPR.

In Albany, the "Darwin and Cat" morning show on WZMR (104.9 Altamont) has split up, as Darwin exits the station for a new, as yet undisclosed, radio gig. Darwin also served as music director at "The Edge," a post that will be filled by APD "Mike the Enforcer."

New York's WAXQ (104.3) has named a new PD. Q104 veteran Eric Wellman came to the station from Long Island's WBAB in 2000, and has been serving as APD/music director under Tom Poleman, who relinquishes the PD reins as he rises in the Clear Channel corporate ranks, where he's now senior VP of programming overseeing New York as well as Philadelphia, Boston and Miami.

There's word from California that budget cuts at Cumulus have claimed the job of Kerry Richards, who went from New York's WOR to the chief engineer's office at KNBR/KFOG/KSAN in San Francisco. He's looking for work, and says he's willing to relocate. (We'll put anyone who's interested in touch with Kerry; just drop us a line.)

In baseball news, the New York Mets are sticking with CBS Radio's WFAN (660) for a new "multi-year" deal. The Mets just marked their 22nd season with WFAN (even longer if you include its predecessor station on 1050, WHN), and now they're also being heard on WFAN's new FM HD relay, via WXRK-FM (92.3)'s HD3 subchannel. And we're sure it's just coincidence that it's also been 22 years since the Mets were last world champions...or maybe we're just still bitter about Game 6 of that particular series.

In TV news, New York City's TV stations will join forces Tuesday night just before 6 PM to test viewers' readiness for the DTV conversion. For two minutes, most of the city's stations will replace their usual analog broadcasts with a message warning viewers that they'll lose their analog signals for good in February, and alerting them to the government's coupon program for DTV converters.

And one more CBS note before we move on from the Empire State: Lou Dorfsman, who died Wednesday (Oct. 22), was part of the unparalleled team that gave the CBS of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s a corporate visual identity like nothing else the broadcasting industry has ever known. While he didn't design the iconic eye logo (that honor went to Bill Golden), Dorfsman was responsible for all the many ways the eye - and later the distinctive CBS Didot font - were used in the company. After Golden's death in 1959, Dorfsman became the network's art director, and with the support of network president Frank Stanton he created a distinctive look and feel for all things CBS, from the stationery with the famous dot showing secretaries precisely where to start typing, to the custom-made elevator panels with back-illuminated CBS Didot numerals, to the "Gastrotypographicalassemblage" that graced the Black Rock cafeteria.

Dorfsman retired in 1987, as CBS was farming out more of the tasks he'd long handled in-house, and we wonder what he'd thought of some of the design coming out of the network in recent years. (CBS old-timers knew, for instance, that the "eye" logo was reserved for the sole use of the TV network, yet after the Group W and Infinity stations were merged into the CBS Radio operations, the division unveiled a logo that included - yup - the eye.)

Lou Dorfsman was 90 years old.


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*In PENNSYLVANIA, CBS Radio is bringing in some outside-the-market programming help for KDKA (1020), as Mark Mason, PD of sister station WINS (1010 New York) comes on board to help take some of the load off cluster PD Keith Clarke. Mason will work with KDKA director of news and programming Marshall Adams to keep the AM station competitive against Clear Channel's FM news-talk competitor, WPGB (104.7).

(After trying to hear KDKA after dark in several spots well within the Pittsburgh metro, we'd suggest a good start might involve turning off the HD Radio signals at sister stations WINS and WBZ, which wreak havoc on KDKA's signal starting even before sunset - but that's not a programming decision, and of course it plays into some complex politics within the CBS Radio family...)

*The Entercom cuts claimed one job at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre cluster: "Psycho Mike" is out as producer and sidekick on the "Rocky and Sue" morning show at WKRZ (98.5 Freeland).

*We have not one, but two pieces of news this week concerning staffers of the late, lamented "Spectrum" show that emanated from NEW JERSEY on shortwave radio a decade or so ago. Co-host Dave Marthouse, a veteran of Jersey stations that included WSUS and WCTC, is selling the Virginia radio station he owned with longtime Jersey engineer Tony DeNicola.

Their D&M Communications bought WODI (1230 Brookneal VA) back in 1996, and after 12 years of operating the little AM south of Lynchburg, D&M fetches $135,000 from The Rain Broadcasting.

Meanwhile, "Spectrum" founder Mark Emanuele is partnering up with John Forsythe (who runs WNJC 1360 Washington Township PA) to operate WIFI (1460 Florence Township), operating the station as a leased-time outlet for would-be broadcasters hoping to reach into the Philadelphia market.

(And, yes, your editor was also one of the founding staffers of "Spectrum" way back in the early nineties...)

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*The big news from MASSACHUSETTS was all about Reese Hopkins, the WRKO (680 Boston) talk host who lost his job amidst the Entercom cutbacks a week earlier.

It turns out WRKO narrowly avoided yet another public relations headache when it let Hopkins go: last week, Hopkins was arrested on charges that he raped a 12-year-old girl in New York City in 2004.

The girl claims that she was visiting a friend at her Manhattan apartment, and that the friend's mother was dating - and living with - Hopkins.

Police arrested Hopkins Wednesday night at his home in Malden. He was arraigned Friday in Manhattan, where he denied the charges. Hopkins says he was living in Connecticut at the time the incident allegedly occurred, and that he wasn't in New York on the day in question.

"No one in radio will touch me again, even if I'm found innocent," Hopkins told the Boston Herald on Friday.

*Best wishes to WODS (103.3 Boston) morning co-host Bob Lobel, who's home and recuperating after undergoing back surgery for the second time in five months. Lobel will be broadcasting from home for a while as he recovers.


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*Cox Radio is the latest big group to go through a wave of cutbacks, and among them in the CONNECTICUT cluster was Ed Sabatino, longtime PD of WPLR (99.1 New Haven). Sabatino had been with WPLR for six years, having moved up within the Cox family from the PD chair at sister station WEFX (now WFOX) in Norwalk. No replacement has been named.

*We have call letters for a new construction permit in Laconia, NEW HAMPSHIRE: the 91.5 signal there will be WANH.

Congratulations to the broadcasters in the Upper Valley - they banded together on Monday to raise $41,000 during their 13-hour "Polly's Think Pink Radiothon," funding breast cancer research in memory of veteran air talent Pauline Robbins-Loyd, who died in January. This was the second "Think Pink" event; the first, held last year as Robbins-Loyd was dying, raised $37,000.

*The student-run station at the University of MAINE's main campus is getting a big power increase. WMEB (91.9 Orono) now operates with just 600 watts from a short tower at the university's Witter Farm, but it's been granted an increase to 10 kilowatts, non-directional.

*Just one tiny bit of news from CANADA this week: the CBC has received permission to move CBZW, its Radio One repeater in Woodstock, New Brunswick, from 91.9 to 95.3. That clears the way for Radio-Canada's CBAF-FM-21 in nearby Bon Accord to implement its move from 107.5 down to 91.7.

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!)

October 29, 2007 -

  • The urban radio war in CONNECTICUT's biggest market is over, and CBS Radio's WZMX (93.7 Hartford) is the survivor. Thursday morning at 10, Clear Channel pulled the plug on the "Power 104" hip-hop format at WPHH (104.1 Waterbury), a little more than four years after it went up against "Hot 93.7." While WZMX had an all-local lineup, WPHH used syndicated talent in morning and afternoon drive (Steve Harvey and Wendy Williams, respectively), and its ratings never quite measured up to its CBS competitor, even before the eventual arrival of the Portable People Meter in the market, with all the ratings headaches it's brought to urban formats in the markets where it's already launched.
  • So just as it did in Philadelphia, where Clear Channel killed off Spanish tropical "Rumba 104.5" in favor of modern rock "Radio 104" at WRFF (104.5), Clear Channel went to a modern rock format on the newly-renamed "FM 104one" in Hartford. And therein lies an irony: the "Radio 104" image that landed in Philly came right out of the old WMRQ in Hartford - an image valuable enough, apparently, that Clear Channel was keeping the old Radio 104 website alive in Hartford years after the format change to "Power," complete with an automated webstream. (That site quietly went away after the "FM 104one" launch last week, replaced by a page that forwards to the new WPHH site.)
  • In other Nutmeg State news, Antonio Gois' Gois Communications is paying $2.65 million to buy Spanish tropical WLAT (910 New Britain) and Spanish news-talk WNEZ (1230 Manchester) from the bankrupt Freedom Communications. Gois is no stranger to the Connecticut River valley; he sold WSPR and WACM in Springfield to Davidson a couple of years ago, and he still owns WORC (1310) over in Worcester. He'll take over the Hartford-market stations via an LMA November 1.
  • Crossing the border to NEW YORK, our week's news begins with a new morning show at WWRL (1600 New York), which axed its Armstrong Williams/Sam Greenfield morning entry on Thursday, replacing them with former WABC/WWOR host Richard Bey and erstwhile Air America talker Mark Riley. (WWRL is an Air America affiliate for most of the day, but it does its own thing in morning drive.)
  • Down the road at WYSL (1040 Avon), owner Bob Savage is taking his fight against nighttime HD Radio interference to the next level: he's just filed a formal complaint against CBS Radio's WBZ (1030 Boston) over the interference that he says is destroying his signal within what's supposed to be his nighttime interference-free contour after dark. We'll have full details on the complaint in next week's issue. (Bob's also got a new morning show: he's just picked up the "Quinn and Rose" show from Pittsburgh. There's a connection there - Bob hired Jim Quinn back at the 'Burgh's 13Q way back when...)

October 27, 2003 -

  • The roster of living top-40 legends gets smaller every day, it seems, and last week we lost another one. On Friday morning (10/24), Dean Anthony died at age 68. Anthony put down radio roots at Washington's WPGC before coming to NEW YORK in the fall of 1964 to become one of the "Good Guys" at the legendary WMCA (570). Anthony held down the overnights at WMCA for four years, then left (with most of the other staffers) in 1968, only to return a few months later and stay through the start of WMCA's talk format in 1970. Later, Anthony worked at "97DJ" (WWDJ 970 Hackensack) and did mornings on WTFM (103.5 Lake Success) before joining the staff of WHLI (1100 Hempstead) in 1981. For the past 22 years, he served as program director (later VP/PD) and midday jock at WHLI, giving up the airshift just a few weeks ago as his cancer progressed.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, Salem is indeed picking new calls for its soon-to-launch talker on 1150 in Boston. After contemplating "WYTS" and then "WJTK," it now appears that the station will be WTTT when it launches in early November. (Those calls have a long Bay State history, having spent four decades on what's now WPNI 1430 in Amherst.)
  • Up in Lowell, the former WJUL (91.5) began using its new WUML calls last week.
  • In Athol, the oldies on WAHL (99.9) gave way to classic rock under the new ownership of Steven Silberberg's Northeast Broadcasting last week. What was "Oldies 99.9" under Citadel is now "Eagle," with new calls of WNYN-FM pending.
  • CANADA's newest radio signal is in the Kitchener-Waterloo market, where CanWest Global began testing last week on CKBT (91.5 Kitchener), the new "91.5 the Beat." Initial signal reports suggest the 4000-watt signal is making it almost to the western suburbs of Toronto, at least for DX aficionados.

October 30, 1998 -

  • Digital TV is on the air in New England. The folks at WCVB-TV (Channel 5) moved up the debut of WCVB-DT (Channel 20) a few days to broadcast the launch of John Glenn's shuttle mission on Thursday. Boston was one of just two Northeast markets to see Glenn in HDTV (well, at least those with $15,000 to spend on an HDTV set); the other was New York, where WCBS-DT (Channel 56) is on the air. The HDTV transmission came from Harris, working in a joint venture with Rochester's Eastman Kodak, which handled film-to-HDTV transfer of the 1962 mission films. (NERW got to see a demo of those a few hours before launch time, and they looked very nice indeed!)
  • In other MASSACHUSETTS news, the FCC paid a visit to Worcester State College on Monday to shut down "WSCW" (94.9), the campus station that moved from carrier current to unlicensed FM a few years back (and was leaving a dead carrier up all summer, to boot). An article in the campus newspaper says the station was assured by the local radio engineer who supervised the move to FM that it was completely legal, and that the FCC said it hadn't actually received any complaints. WSCW is now returning to carrier-current and cable audio, and considering Real Audio and an application for licensed FM in Worcester.
  • It's official: Mega Broadcasting, the buyer of WNFT (1150 Boston), is also picking up WBPS (890 Dedham) from John Douglas' Achievement Radio Holdings for $4 million. If NERW remembers correctly, there was already some cross-ownership there...and we wonder whether this sets the stage for a duplicate of Mega's Hartford situation, with one station (WLAT 1230 there, WBPS in Boston) doing Spanish, and the other (WNEZ 910 there, WNFT in Boston) doing R&B oldies.
  • Up in VERMONT, Burlington's former top-rated morning show is back together after a year. Steve Cormier and Coach Tom Brennan left the airwaves a year ago on WIZN (106.7 Vergennes) when Howard Stern came in. When Cormier's six-month non-compete ended in April, he went to WCPV (101.3 Essex), and with the end of Brennan's one-year non-compete on October 22, he was free to rejoin Cormier for their "Corm and the Coach" show. The duo kicked off with a live show in front of 600 people at the Burlington Sheraton.
  • This NERW is coming out a few hours later than usual because the NERW-mobile spent Friday night on the road to Buffalo, enjoying the plethora of "War of the Worlds" remakes that filled the airwaves of the Queen City. WNUC (107.7 Wethersfield) kicked it off at 7 with Orson Welles' 1938 classic. Then at 8, WWKB (1520) pulled out the tapes of the WKBW 1968 version -- and, not to be outdone, WGRF (96.9) and WEDG (103.3) both launched into their own modern versions. It's a good thing we had plenty of tape decks on hand, because the WGRF and WEDG version didn't start off as a simulcast. Each station used its own format and jocks for the first hour, and then once Buffalo was under full Martian attack, the two joined for a simulcast that ended with Irv Weinstein (now a WKBW-TV anchor, but back in 1968 one of KB radio's top newsmen) as the last man alive in a Martian-ravaged downtown Buffalo. And when the simulcast split again, WGRF returned to its classic rock format with David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust," while WEDG went back to modern rock with the help of REM's "It's The End of The World As We Know It." All in all, a most enjoyable night of radio, and one more stations ought to emulate.

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