December 15, 2008
Ice Storm Silences New England Radio
*It's been almost 18 years
since a massive ice storm paralyzed us here in the Rochester
area, leaving some areas without power for more than two weeks.
And it's been just over a decade since an even more massive ice
storm struck an area stretching from northern New York up through
eastern Ontario and into much of Quebec, knocking power out to
some areas for as long as a month.
By those standards, the ice storm that hit central MASSACHUSETTS,
southern VERMONT and NEW HAMPSHIRE on Friday
was relatively minor - but even "relatively" minor
is still a big deal for people everywhere from Fitchburg to Lowell
to Peterborough to White River Junction, for whom it could still
be a while before things are back to normal.
good news is that, at least as this column is being written on
Sunday night, there are no reports of any downed towers in the
region. What the massive power outages are demonstrating, however,
is a surprisingly large number of stations apparently lacking
working generators at either studio or transmitter sites.
Much of the Worcester market was knocked off the air in the
storm's first hours, including both news-talk AMs, Clear Channel's
WTAG (580) and Carter's WCRN (830). WCRN remained off through
Saturday, but WTAG was soon back on the air with nonstop emergency
information, and still going strong late Sunday.
There have been widespread power outages along much of the
Route 2 corridor to the north, with numerous stations off the
air everywhere from Athol to Fitchburg to Lowell and Lawrence.
Across the New Hampshire line, the worst of the outages have
been on the state's western edge; there were numerous reports
of stations off the air from Peterborough and Keene up through
the Upper Valley, where most of the market's stations were still
silent on Saturday afternoon. (Notable exceptions were Nassau's
WHDQ 106.1 Claremont and Bob Vinikoor's cluster, where WNTK/WUVR
in the New London/Hanover area, WCNL in Newport and WCFR in Springfield,
Vermont were all on the air through most of the storm and its
aftermath with local news and information.)
We're expecting to hear more from some of the areas hardest
hit by the ice, such as western Massachusetts, as power begins
to come back on in the next few days, and we'll update this week's
column as needed, with a wrap-up in next week's issue as (we
hope) things start getting back to normal.
with the rest of the week's news, starting with more big changes
in Boston morning radio, where CBS Radio abruptly pulled the
plug on WBMX (98.5 Boston) morning man John Lander after his
Thursday show. In addition to Lander, who'd been at Mix since
1996, when he replaced Joe Martelle, sidekicks Kelly Malone,
Alicia Love and weather guy Mike Ellis are all gone.
Who's next for morning drive at the hot AC station? Over at
Boston Radio Watch,
Mark reports that Karson Tager, late of WHBQ-FM (107.5) in Memphis,
will be coming to Boston in January along with his former co-host
Kennedy Elsey, who's still at the Memphis station for now - and
he says the new "Karson and Kennedy" show will be aiming
for a younger demographic than Lander attracted. (Unspoken in
that is the assumption that they'll work cheaper, too...)
Over at Entercom, Tom Finneran has signed on for an extra
year as morning host at WRKO (680 Boston), despite the lack of
any audience growth for his struggling show; meanwhile, operations
director Lee Kinberg has departed after just over two years at
the Entercom stations.
at Greater Media, where the management team has remained relatively
stable until now amidst the recent economic turbulence, VP/market
manager Phil Redo made an abrupt departure from the Boston cluster
(WBOS, WTKK, WKLB, WROR, WMJX) last Monday afternoon. While Greater
said the decision was mutual, we're hearing otherwise; Redo had
been at the cluster for less than three years, and while he'd
overseen some big strategic moves (most notably the move of WKLB
from rimshot 99.5 to full-market 102.5 and the format change
of WBOS from AAA to jockless modern rock), his work on Morrissey
Boulevard was far from finished.
Lending further credence to the idea that the move wasn't
long in the works is Redo's replacement: there isn't one, at
least not right away, and so Greater's senior VP for radio, Rick
Feinblatt, will be commuting from Philadelphia to Boston to oversee
both clusters in the short term.
There's no word yet on what's next for Redo; his background
offers him plenty of paths, including a return to public radio
(he came to Boston from New York's WNYC, where he was a VP for
station operations and strategy) or to commercial radio programming,
where his resume includes a stint as PD at WMJX in the late 80s
and air work at the old WROR before that.
*On the TV side of things, we note the start of local HD newscasts
at WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and sister station WSBK (Channel 38) on
Thursday, which we believe leaves only Fox's WFXT (Channel 25)
as a major local-news player in Boston without HD.
But WFXT has bigger concerns at the moment: after many months
fighting problems with its aging analog transmission system,
we're hearing that WFXT's analog signal finally gave up the ghost
for good last week, leaving only WFXT-DT (RF 31), which is not
yet at full power. Interestingly, WFXT had just last month submitted
an STA application to the FCC asking for reduced analog power
(293 kW visual) through the end of the transition period, due
to "recent, partial damage to the licensed antenna."
*Another Bay State analog TV station - albeit
one that mainly serves RHODE ISLAND viewers - has gone
dark. New Bedford-licensed WLWC (Channel 28), the CW affiliate
for the Providence market, turned off its analog transmitter
on December 9, leaving WLWC-DT 22 behind.
*MAINE Public Broadcasting Network is planning
an early shutdown of its analog signals. WMEA-TV (Channel 26)
in Biddeford, WCBB-TV (Channel 10) in Augusta, WMEB-TV (Channel
12) in Orono, WMED-TV (Channel 13) in Calais and WMEM-TV (Channel
10) in Presque Isle will sign off in analog early on the morning
of January 11, allowing engineers time to convert several of
those VHF transmitters for MPBN's post-transition channels. While
WMEA-DT will keep its present channel 45, WMEB-DT will stay on
its present channel 9 and WMED-DT will stay on its present channel
10, WCBB-DT and WMEM-DT will be moving to 10 from their present
spots at channels 17 and 20, respectively.
(And that, sadly, is somewhat more information than you -
or any average viewer - would learn from visiting MPBN's own
rather sparse DTV
information pages; the challenge of fully educating viewers
about the challenges of the digital conversion, especially the
tricky matter of antenna selection in mixed VHF-UHF markets,
still isn't being fully met in too many areas, and we're down
to the two-month mark now even in the areas that aren't experiencing
early analog shutdowns.)
*In NEW YORK City, Joe Puglise is
the new president/market manager for Clear Channel's cluster,
arriving as Rob Williams' replacement from Phoenix - and before
that, from Wilmington, Delaware.
Up in the Adirondacks, WRGR (102.3 Tupper Lake) has changed
frequencies. Last Thursday (Dec. 11), it relocated to 102.1,
which clears the way for WLFE (102.3 St. Albans VT) to move closer
to Burlington with higher power. WRGR itself plans to file for
an increase from class A to class C3 on its new frequency now
that it's moved, the station says.
(105.9) is revamping its airstaff after letting longtime morning
host Dave Allen go a few months back. Brian Phillips, who's been
doing fill-in work at the Citadel cluster, is the new morning
man at "Lite Rock 105.9," while "Jayne" joins
as the station's Monday-Saturday 10 AM-4 PM voice. "Jayne"
is voiced by Robin Marshall, late of WQCD in New York - and if
the name sounds familiar, it may be because the voice, and the
format, ran 24/7 for a while last year on CKJN (92.9) over in
Norfolk-Haldimand, Ontario, before a sale changed the station
to "Moose FM."
Over at public station WCNY-FM (91.3 Syracuse, and relays
WUNY 89.5 Utica and WJNY 90.9 Watertown), a schedule change is
moving the remaining jazz and standards programming from weekday
evenings to Sunday afternoons. WCNY adds the syndicated "Exploring
Music with Bill McGlaughlin" at 7 weeknights, followed by
symphony broadcasts - and that means Leo Rayhill's
"Sounds of Jazz" becomes a weekly offering, at 5 PM
on Sunday, where it follows "Footlight Parade" and
In Albany, the layoff axe swung hard and heavy at Hubbard's
WNYT (Channel 13) last week, with at least a dozen people losing
their jobs, including evening co-anchor Lydia Kulbida and movie
critic Jay Bobbin - and more job cuts expected this week. (Will
Hubbard follow suit at its other upstate property, Rochester's
And Steve Young was best known as a Seattle radio institution,
programming KISW (99.9) and later working with the Jones and
Dial Global radio networks - but the veteran programmer, who
died last Monday (Dec. 8) while on a Caribbean cruise, also spent
several stints at the helm of New York stations: in 1996, he
programmed WNEW (102.7), then returned in 1999 to program WAXQ
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*There's an FM facility upgrade underway
in central MAINE: WFMX (107.9 Skowhegan) shifted transmitter
sites last week from its longtime home on Bigelow Hill in Skowhegan
to a new site in Fairfield, 10 miles to the southeast (and closer
to its target audience in Augusta and Waterville.) From the new
site, WFMX will boost power from its former 6 kW to 22 kW, as
soon as new electric service is switched on there.
*More cutbacks in CONNECTICUT: WTIC
(1080 Hartford) has cancelled the Saturday morning show that
Hartford Courant columnist Stan Simpson was hosting; Simpson
says he was told the cancellation was due to the "troubling
*There's a new religious translator on the
air in RHODE ISLAND: W284BA (104.7 Cranston) is on the
air, relaying EMF's "K-Love" WTKL (91.1) from Dartmouth,
On the TV side, the parade of layoffs continued apace last
week: WPRI/WNAC lost several staffers, including a couple from
the newsroom; WJAR also cut four employees. (And it's not just
Providence where WPRI/WNAC owner LIN is cutting; Buffalo's WIVB
lost several non-union staffers last week as well.)
*A veteran PENNSYLVANIA jock
is back on the air: Greater Media has hired Glenn Kalina as the
morning man on WNUW (97.5 Burlington NJ), making "Now 97.5"
the latest stop in a career that's included WZZD, WCAU-FM, WIFI,
WIOQ, WLCE and WMWX. Kalina starts at "Now" on January
Meanwhile, Greater is splitting up the morning team at WBEN-FM
(95.7 Philadelphia), keeping Marilyn Russell in mornings but
moving Jason Lee to middays and Dave Cruise to afternoons, which
have been running jockless since "Ben FM" launched
a few years back.
In the Erie market,
there's word that Bill Shannon has departed WYNE (1530 North
East), where he put the station's oldies format on the air and
did afternoons. Shannon's departure comes as WYNE's sister station,
WMCE (88.5 Erie) at Mercyhurst College's main campus, sends early
word that it's flipping from classical to all-jazz come February,
becoming "Jazz FM."
Meanwhile at Connoisseur's Erie cluster, we're hearing that
Bob "Bobby D" Domingo is out as PD at WTWF (93.9 the
Wolf), while Sammy Stone is gone from afternoons at WRKT (100.9
North East). WRKT PD Ron Kline will add PD duties at WTWF, while
Wolf promotions director Chuck Rambaldo picks up APD duties and
the afternoon shift.
On the TV side, veteran Pittsburgh news director Bob Longo
is leaving Hearst-Argyle's WTAE-TV (Channel 4) and heading south
to sister station WESH (Channel 2) in the Orlando market. Longo
came to WTAE back in 1999 from Rochester's WHEC.
And a Philadelphia radio institution has died. Jere Sullivan
was most recently the director of traffic operations at Traffic.com,
but he had a Philly radio career that stretched all the way back
to the days of WFIL-FM (102.1), and its early-70s successor,
WIOQ. Sullivan later worked at WCAU-FM (98.1, now WOGL), then
left town for stints at WYNY in New York, KJQY in San Diego and
a whole slew of Miami stations before returning to Philadelphia
to work at WSNI/WPGR and then at the traffic service.
*In central NEW JERSEY, Jan Ochs is
departing WMGQ (98.3 New Brunswick) to attend to family matters
out of state. Ochs did her last night shift on WMGQ last Wednesday
(Nov. 10). Meanwhile, Greater Media has a new chief engineer
for several of its central Jersey stations: Dave Brown, who worked
as an engineer for Standard Radio and Rogers in his native Canada,
moves from Nassau's Lechard Marine Contracting division to Greater's
Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as
an e-book or printed volume!
*In CANADA, it was a quiet week...except
on TV, where the ongoing ownership transition of Citytv (CITY-TV
57 Toronto) just took another interesting twist. After CTVglobemedia
bought the City properties as part of its big buyout of CHUM
Ltd., it had to sell Citytv itself, which went to Rogers - but
it kept both the "ChumCity Building" on Queen Street
in Toronto and CP24 (Cable Pulse 24), the all-news channel that
began life as "CityPulse 24," the full-time spinoff
of Citytv's news operation. Indeed, until last week, Citytv newscasts
were still being rebroadcast on CP24, even though the cable channel
is owned by CTV and Citytv is owned by arch-competitor Rogers.
No more: on Wednesday,
the CRTC approved Rogers' application to create a new 24-hour
cable channel called "CITY News (Toronto)." Unlike
CP24, which was licensed as a regional service to cover all of
southern Ontario, the new Rogers service will be aimed specifically
at greater Toronto. There's no word yet on when it will launch
- or whether it will pick up what had long been one of the quirkier
features of CP24, the deep-from-the-vaults rebroadcasts of vintage
And for some reason, all the reader submissions for additional
"NERW Bookshelf" candidates were Canadian: we were
reminded that the recently deceased Ted Rogers had just completed
his autobiography, Relentless: The True Story of the Man
Behind Rogers Communications (HarperCollins Canada, to
be published in the US in January.)
Out in Newfoundland, the provincially-owned Broadcasting Corporation
of Newfoundland was their counterpart to the CBC in the years
before Newfoundland's 1949 entry into Confederation, and the
BCN's history has just been chronicled in the newly-published
Voice of Newfoundland: A Social History of the Broadcasting
Corporation of Newfoundland, 1939-1949, by Jeff A. Webb (University
of Toronto Press, $29.95)
*And we'll close this week with our annual salute to the birthday
of the man who made so much of today's radio possible. Major
Edwin Howard Armstrong was born on December 18, 1890, 118 years
ago Thursday, and without his inventions, among them the superheterodyne
receiver and a little thing called "frequency modulation,"
none of us would be doing what we do now. One can only imagine
what else Major Armstrong would have accomplished if he hadn't
spent the last unhappy years of his life fighting over the patents
So join us in raising a birthday toast to one of radio's great
inventors later this week, won't you?
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!)
December 18, 2007 -
- The weekend's icy, windy storm in northeast PENNSYLVANIA
destroyed one Scranton/Wilkes-Barre TV tower early Sunday morning
and caused serious damage to several others. Just before 7:00
Sunday morning, the 823-foot tower of ABC affiliate WNEP-TV (Channel
16) atop Penobscot Mountain, east of Wilkes-Barre, collapsed
under the weight of ice that had formed there overnight. As it
fell, the tower's guy wires apparently hit the next tower over
on the mountain, belonging to public broadcasters WVIA-TV (Channel
44), WVIA-DT (Channel 41) and WVIA-FM (89.9), toppling the upper
portion of that tower and taking those TV/DT signals off the
air. The WNEP tower fell on the station's transmitter building,
damaging most of the equipment inside, including the station's
two analog transmitters. (WNEP-DT is at a different tower location
on Penobscot, and it was on the air through much of the storm,
albeit at reduced power.)
- Within a few hours after the collapse, engineers for WNEP
and WVIA were making their way through the wreckage and the debris
to figure out what could be salvaged and what was beyond hope.
For WVIA, an analog TV signal was restored at midday Sunday from
a shorter auxiliary tower next to the damaged main tower. WVIA-DT
remained off the air, and WVIA-FM remained on the air from the
remaining portion of the damaged tower.
- WNEP, meanwhile, briefly replaced the rotating wheel of news
repeats on its DTV subchannel (and on a stream on its website)
with its regular analog-feed programming, providing a signal
that area cable companies could pick up in place of the destroyed
analog signal. By Sunday afternoon, WNEP programming had been
restored to cable systems in much of the station's wide-ranging
coverage area, while its "newschannel" feed was back
on 16.2. Also silenced in the WNEP collapse was Wilkes College's
WCLH (90.7 Wilkes-Barre), which had its antenna on the WNEP tower.
WCLH is still programming via a webstream at wclh.org until a
temporary replacement site can be built.
- There were more problems on the mountain in the meantime.
Downed power lines and a tower heavily laden with ice took Nexstar's
CBS affiliate, WYOU-TV (Channel 22)/WYOU-DT (Channel 13), off
the air, with many area cable companies picking up Philadelphia's
KYW-TV (Channel 3) or other CBS outlets in the region to keep
CBS football (and the Survivor finale) coming to their subscribers.
The tower of Fox affiliate WOLF-TV (Channel 56), which is also
home to WNEP-DT's antenna, lost one guy wire to the storm but
remained standing at last report. And Nexstar's NBC affiliate,
WBRE-TV (Channel 28), which lost a tower to ice in 1989, had
no reported problems at its new tower. (WBRE-DT, however, is
located at the powerless WYOU tower, and remained off the air
- In western PENNSYLVANIA, there's a changing of the guard
on the morning news shift at KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh). Bob Kopler
will retire Dec. 28, ending 19 years at KDKA, and he'll be replaced
by Bill Rehkopf, who began his career in western Pennsylvania
at stations in Clarion and Punxsutawney and later worked in Williamsport
(WRAK/WKSB), Harrisburg (WHP) and Scranton (WARM). Rehkopf moves
to Pittsburgh from Baltimore's WPOC (93.1), where he's been known
on the air as "Aaron Rehkopf."
- Our NEW YORK news starts downstate, with word of three more
applications that were filed in that special window to create
a new fulltime AM signal on 1700 for Rockland County. In addition
to the application from Alexander Broadcasting's WRCR (1300 Spring
Valley) that we told you about last week, the county's other
existing broadcaster, Polnet, has applied for 1700 in Haverstraw
to accompany its WRKL (910 New City). A former programmer of
1300, Zev Brenner's Talkline Communications, wants to put 1700
in Monsey, where it would presumably serve the community of Hasidic
Jews there. And Gary Smithwick's S&B Communications applied
for 1700 in Stony Point.
- Here in Rochester, one of the city's top TV reporters is
moving on. Dave McKinley came to WROC-TV (Channel 8) from WHAM
(1180) in 1999, bringing with him an encyclopedic knowledge of
local history that he soon put to good use in his weekly "News
8 Then" segments, digging through WROC's copious archives
to pull out forgotten bits of film and video from days gone by.
Dave's heading west at year's end, joining the reporting staff
at WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) in Buffalo (where he went to college and
began his radio career), and he'll be missed, dearly.
- Yet another AM station in CANADA has made the move to FM.
CKEC (1320 New Glasgow NS) flipped the switch on the new CKEC-FM
(94.1) at 9:41 AM last Tuesday (Dec. 11). The new "East
Coast 94.1" is playing hot AC, and the AM signal will go
silent in three months, leaving nine AM stations in the province
- and five of those are planning FM moves as well. One of them,
CFAB (1450 Windsor), will have to try again to find a frequency
and power level the CRTC can live with. Last week, the commission
rejected CFAB's second attempt to go to FM, saying that the proposed
23.8 kW signal on 92.9 would far exceed the AM coverage area
and create too much overlap with MBS Radio's other stations in
December 15, 2003 -
- The longest-running DJ on a single station in Rochester -
and, we think, in all of NEW YORK - was shot to death Friday
night in what appeared to be a robbery attempt. "Unkle Roger"
McCall joined the staff of WCMF (96.5 Rochester) in 1974, and
for most of the three decades that followed he served as the
rock station's overnight jock and as the resident expert on local
music, hosting the "Homegrown" show that spawned several
CDs along the way. Police say McCall was collecting rent payments
from tenants in a house he owned on Madison Street in Rochester
when he was shot in the torso about 5:50 Friday evening.
- As the news broke on Saturday, WCMF's jocks took to the air
for a spontaneous remembrance of their colleague. It will continue
throughout this week, when WCMF will open its phone lines each
night at 10 for listeners to call in with memories of McCall.
"He was one of the most beautiful people anybody has ever
known," said WCMF morning host Alan "Brother Wease"
Levin. "I am positive Unkle Roger didn't have one enemy
in the world," he told WROC-TV (Channel 8). McCall, who
was 59, is survived by his wife Denise and son Jason. At press
time, no arrests had been made in the killing. (2008 update:
Five years later, still no arrests, sadly.)
- The northern half of Syracuse's "TK 99/TK 105"
classic rock simulcast wants to move south. WTKV (105.5 Oswego)
has already been granted a reallocation to Granby, in southern
Oswego County, and now the Galaxy station has applied for new
facilities just south of Fulton. If the move is approved, WTKV
would move from its current 4kw/121m just south of Oswego to
a new tower on Wilcox Road, just off NY 48, about 10 miles closer
to Syracuse, where it would run 3.9kw/125m. (2008 update:
The move never happened, scotched by an FCC policy edict - for
which this was the test case - that prohibits stations from moving
if they're grandfathered above current ownership limits, as WTKV
- Here in Rochester, contemporary Christian WDCZ (102.7 Webster)
will take on a new identity January 1, when the station changes
calls to WRCI. The old calls came from the now-defunct simulcast
with Buffalo sister station WDCX; now "The Light" wants
calls that better reflect its identity as a Rochester Christian
- Our best wishes go out to former Buffalo jock Tony Magoo
(WJJL, WPHD, WBYR), who's suffering from a form of cancer ("metastatic
squamous cell carcinoma") that's had him undergoing intensive
radiation and chemotherapy and losing his teeth. That's bad enough
- but on top of all that, he was fired from his job as morning
host at Citadel's WFBE (95.1 Flint MI) a couple of weeks ago.
There'll be a benefit auction for Magoo next month; stay tuned
for all the details. (2008 update: Magoo is still in remission,
at last word.)
- A busy broadcast week in MAINE - and before we get to the
update on the WMGX/WYNZ tower collapse, we have the arrival of
a brand new player on the New England ownership scene.
- Nassau Broadcasting, until now confined to New Jersey and
Pennsylvania (with a brief foray into upstate New York and Connecticut),
is paying $18.3 million for the six stations of Mariner Broadcasting.
Louis Vitali and Alexander and Woody Tanger had assembled a cluster
that included four classical "W-Bach" stations (WBQQ
99.3 Kennebunk, WBQW 106.3 Scarborough-Portland, WBQX 106.9 Thomaston,
WBQI 107.7 Bar Harbor), standards WBYA (105.5 Islesboro) and
soft AC WQEZ (104.7 Kennebunkport). Will Nassau keep the classical
format? Stay tuned...
- On to the Portland tower collapse: as we told you in last
Thursday's NERW Update, the 528-foot tower of WMGX (93.1 Portland)
and WYNZ (100.9 Westbook) came crashing to the ground last Thursday
afternoon, smashing several cars and trucks and narrowly missing
a beer distributor's warehouse. (Though the tower was within
a few hundred yards of I-295, the pull of its guy wires kept
the wreckage confined to within a few hundred feet of the tower
base and well away from the busy highway.)
- WYNZ's oldies stayed on the air from an auxiliary site, but
WMGX went silent when the tower went down. (Fortunately, the
Arbitron book had just ended a day earlier!) WMGX quickly turned
to Saga sister station WPOR (101.9 Portland), whose site on Blackstrap
Hill north of town sprouted a new set of antenna bays on Friday,
as WMGX set up shop there with a temporary facility that allowed
it to be back on the air barely 24 hours after the tower collapse.
- What brought down the tower, which was only 17 years old?
They're still investigating - but weather didn't appear to be
a factor; there wasn't any snow on the ground and winds were
relatively light. The next step for the stations will be to rebuild,
likely on the same site and probably quite soon if all goes well
with the insurance company. (2008 update: A new tower was
indeed built, close to the site of the old one.)
- VERMONT's UPN affiliate appears to have met its demise: we'd
heard that WBVT-LP (Channel 39) in Burlington and its relay stations
were having financial problems, and now we're told that the stations
are broadcasting an error message slate. The station's Web site
has gone dark as well. (We'd also note that cable systems across
the Green Mountain State carry Boston's WSBK, so UPN fans aren't
completely out of luck.)
- The newest talk station in PENNSYLVANIA is taking shape:
sometime after the holidays, what's now WJJJ (104.7 Pittsburgh)
will be reborn as "WPGB," and in addition to Jim Quinn's
morning show, it'll carry Glenn Beck (9-noon), Neal Boortz (noon-3),
Sean Hannity (3-6) and Michael Savage (8-11 PM). Clear Channel
is reportedly seeking a local host for 6-8 PM, as well as overnight
and weekend programming.
- The Pittsburgh moves are resonating to the west in Wheeling,
WEST VIRGINIA, where three more staffers have departed WWVA (1170)
in the wake of the dismissal of morning man Jim Harrington last
week. Talk host George Kellas and news director Tammy Beagle
lost their jobs - and reporter Dave Demerest followed them out
the door in protest. WWVA will simulcast WPGB's morning show,
with local news inserts - and it sounds as though some of the
rest of WWVA's day will now come from the Pittsburgh talk station
as well. Meanwhile, Quinn himself will be replaced by the syndicated
"Bob and Tom" show at his present home base of WRRK
(96.9 Braddock), effective January 1.
December 18, 1998 -
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- Must be the first big snowfall of the season, because suddenly
things are hopping up in VERMONT.
- Most of this week's action in the Burlington market happened
with the Capstar stations, and it started with a new home for
two of them. Last Sunday (12/13), rocker WCPV (101.3 Essex NY)
and sports-hot talk WXPS (96.7 Vergennes)/WEAV (960 Plattsburgh
NY) moved in with AC WEZF (92.9 Burlington) at Fort Ethan Allen.
The facility includes three air studios and three production
- Next shoe dropping: WXPS/WEAV's new studios came with a new
format. On Monday, the talk (with the exception of Imus in the
Morning) disappeared, replaced by "KIX" hot country.
The new format is the first in-market challenge to the dominance
of Hall's WOKO (98.9 Burlington), the longtime market leader.
PD Brian Ashton, from WCPV, handles 2-7 PM duties, while Tim
Buskey is on air from 10-2 and the syndicated Nashville Nights
show is on in the evening.
- And the third shoe (?) dropped with a transmitter move for
WXPS that will give it better coverage of Burlington. From its
old site in Westport NY, WXPS moves to Willsboro NY and Rattlesnake
Mountain with 1500 watts at 740 feet AAT. In the process, WXPS'
city of license changes to Willsboro NY from Vergennes VT.
- There's still more news in the Burlington market: Vermont
Public Radio is wrapping up the first week of a month-long experiment
aimed at bringing VPR listeners a second public radio service.
"VPR World Channel" will run from Dec. 14 until Jan.
14 on WWPV (88.7 Colchester), the St. Michael's College station
that would otherwise have been dark during the school's holiday.
Programming on "World Channel" includes BBC World Service,
CBC's As It Happens, The World (from WGBH and PRI), The Connection
(from WBUR), and other international programming from WRN. NERW
wonders: How does the proposed VPR-New Hampshire Public Radio
second service in the Upper Valley fit in with this experiment?
- Nothing from the Granite State this week, but we'll stay
in ski country and head to MAINE, where Cumulus Media added three
more stations to its Bangor-area group late this week. The upstart
group owner will pay $4 million to buy standards WDEA (1370 Ellsworth),
soft AC WEZQ (92.9 Bangor), and oldies/Imus WWMJ (95.7 Ellsworth)
from Dudman Communications. Cumulus already owns country gaint
WQCB (106.5 Brewer) and CHR WBZN (107.3 Old Town) in the market,
as well as five stations in Central Maine. NERW's sorry to see
Dudman get sold -- group head Martha Dudman has been an industry
leader through her work with the NAB and other trade organizations
-- but at the same time, we've got to admit that Cumulus has
done a decent job with its strategy of small-market clusters.
- NEW YORK's big news begins with a $7.5 million station sale
in Albany. Paul Bendat is cashing out on WABY (1400), WKLI (100.9),
WABY-FM (94.5 Ravena), and WKBE (100.3 Warrensburg), which go
to Tele-Media of Eastern New York. No word yet of any format
or personnel changes at standards WABY AM-FM or the hot AC "K-100"
- Downstate, a heritage call sign is back on the air for the
first time in a few years. WYNY, last heard with the demise of
country music on 103.5 Lake Success-New York, is the new callsign
for what was WWXY (107.1 Briarcliff Manor), the north suburban
part of Big City Media's "Y-107" quadcast. (Oddly,
Big City's press release calls the new WYNY-FM just "New
York," and almost every single trade we've seen has swallowed
it whole...) The other three parts of the 107.1 simulcast --
WWVY Hampton Bays, L.I.; WWYY Belvidere NJ; and WWZY Long Branch
NJ -- keep their calls.
- WNEW (102.7 New York) has hired Steve Mason as its new morning
host. Mason comes from Jacor's "XTRA Sports" (XETRA
Tijuana/KXTA Los Angeles) out West, and was also the last host
of the "Late Late Radio Show" on CBS. By the way, we
neglected to mention last week that Scott Muni's new Big Apple
radio home is at classic rocker WAXQ (104.3).
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2008 by Scott Fybush.