Recent Issues:

2008 In Review

December 22, 2008

December 15, 2008

December 8, 2008

December 1, 2008

Your message here - contact to reach thousands of NERW readers every week!

January 5, 2009

Happy New Year - You're Fired!

*Yeah, it looks like 2009 is shaping up to be another one of those years, at least judging by the last moments of destruction that 2008 wreaked on an already fragile radio business.

The culprit this time was CBS Radio, both in Hartford, as we'll see in a moment, and in eastern MASSACHUSETTS, where word began spreading during the day on New Year's Eve that more big changes were afoot at the once-mighty WBZ (1030 Boston).

While so much of the industry had gone to syndicated programming outside of the major weekday drivetime slots, WBZ long prided itself on - and profited handsomely from - its steadfast determination to remain live and local all night long, with a stellar lineup of hosts in that slot over the years that included Dick Summer, Larry Glick, Bob Raleigh and most recently Steve LeVeille.

Well, so much for that tradition. As of the new year, LeVeille - and his local "Steve LeVeille Broadcast," weeknights from midnight to 5 AM - is history at WBZ, as are Saturday night hosts Pat Desmarais and Lovell Dyett, the latter a 37-year veteran of the station.

Saturday nights are now occupied by the syndicated Kim Komando computer show - and weeknights on the mighty 50,000 watt voice of Boston will now come from...St. Louis, where Jon Grayson, who's been doing talk for a few years at CBS sister station KMOX (1120), will take his local show semi-national (as "Overnight America") beginning this week. In addition to WBZ and KMOX, Grayson's show will also air on WCCO (830 Minneapolis) and KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh).

Enough loss of local flavor for you? Wait, there's more: also gone, as part of the cutbacks, was WBZ's already fairly minimal committment to local news after 8 PM, when its daytime all-news format gives way to talk.

While the evening news shift at the station had never been filled on a permanent basis since the death of Darrell Gould back in 1996, a rotating cast of weekenders and part-timers had been doing live hourly news updates during the Dan Rea show, then recording local news to run overnight during LeVeille's broadcast.

Now WBZ - the largest commercial radio news operation in New England, mind you - will run only recorded newscasts from 8 until midnight, and no local news at all overnight.

Just in case that still wasn't enough, local sports coverage on WBZ has been cut back as well. Tom Cuddy, who'd been at the station since 1985, lost his job just in time for the new year - and that means that in addition to recording the newscasts for the evening shift, afternoon news anchor Diane Stern is reading sports headlines during the afternoon news, too, leaving Gil Santos as the last remaining weekday sports voice at WBZ.

NERW's view (continuing on the themes we started exploring in our Year-End Rant last week, in case you missed it, or our big Year in Review package):

"Are they planning to sell the station for spare parts?"

That was the Hartford Courant last week, commenting on CBS Radio's other New England cutbacks, but the despairing question may as well apply to WBZ, and the answers are just as complex in both markets.

Your editor, as has been frequently noted in this space, claims no absence of bias here, being an alumnus of WBZ, and a former colleague of LeVeille, Cuddy, Dyett and the many others who've recently been shown the door on Soldiers Field Road. And in fairness to the local management in Boston, there's no reason to believe that these are cutbacks that anyone in the building wants to be making. It's hard to imagine WBZ's leaders taking any pride in eliminating programming that had become an institution in the community, and if they were free to do so without putting their own jobs at any more risk, they'd surely point the finger up the food chain to the CBS bosses in New York, for whom "WBZ" is just another entry in the ledger books, not an 87-year-long tradition of connection between talented broadcasters and a devoted audience across much of New England.

And those executives in their Black Rock offices would tell you, in turn, that "it's just business" - they've got a stock price that needs to be kept from plunging any further into the gutter than it's already gone, and this is simply the way of the world in 2009, paring back everything but the bare essentials in hopes that eventually the decreased costs will catch up with the ever-sinking revenues. Were you to have the temerity to suggest that those revenues are falling as fast as they are because the content has been slashed to ribbons, pumped up by the empty calories of infomercials and leased-time programming, well, there are plenty of fingers to be pointed - the AM audience is aging out of the "sales demographic," and all the money that needs to be made is being made during weekday mornings and afternoons anyway, and...well, you've heard them all plenty of times by now.

No blame here, either, should be attached to Jon Grayson of KMOX, who had the class to show up on a regional radio message board last week to introduce himself and talk about the show he's been doing in St. Louis. He'll find, soon enough, that the WBZ nighttime audience doesn't take kindly to "outsiders" - and there will no doubt be plenty of comparisons to the ill-conceived evening programming change back in 1990 that's become part of WBZ lore. You probably know that story: to save money in bad economic times, WBZ sent local evening host David Brudnoy packing, replacing him with Tom Snyder's syndicated show, which was a perfectly good program...just not Brudnoy, and not from Boston.

Back then, the listeners spoke, and spoke loudly, and before too long Snyder and his colortinis had been sent packing, with Dr. Brudnoy back in his evening pulpit for what was left of his life.

But back then, there was still a shred of accountability left. No, the Westinghouse Broadcasting of 1990 was little more than a shell of the great Group W days of Don McGannon, but it was still a relatively small company - fewer than a dozen AM stations, all of them massive presences in their big markets; a small group of recently-acquired FMs; and a half-dozen legendary TV signals. What happened at WBZ back then was more than just an entry against a huge conglomerate's bottom line. WBZ was part of the foundation of the company, and when it failed to live up to that responsibility, as it did when it swapped Brudnoy for Snyder, there was still a sense that the company had fallen short of a committment it made to New England way back in 1921.

What will happen late tonight, when an old woman somewhere in southern New Hampshire can't sleep and turns on her radio? Her friend Steve won't be there, with no explanation or apology (indeed, the website, registered to CBS, simply disappeared when LeVeille was let go, though it lives on at an alternate address), and when she picks up the phone to call 254-1030 (or the old 254-5678, which still worked, too!) to share her dreams or her memories, as New Englanders have been doing all night long for more than half a century, it will ring unanswered, or get forwarded to a control room 1200 miles away where it will be answered by someone who doesn't know Falmouth from Fitchburg, much less what "Glick University" was or who Norm Nathan was.

(Worse yet? We're hearing very plausible reports that suggest a prominent WBZ sponsor was prepared to buy out the overnight hours to keep LeVeille in place, but was told the new show was already a done deal.)

Who's to blame? Nobody - and everybody. For this is just another sign, really, of the utter breakdown of the compact that broadcasters once made with the public: they'd get stewardship of a scarce, precious resource - in this case, the mighty 50,000-watt signal that blankets New England and the northeast at night - in exchange for the responsibility of using that voice in the public interest. If they slipped in that responsibility - say, by abandoning any pretense of covering the news after 8 at night - there were consequences, in the form of license-renewal hassles. And for taking on that responsibility, they were rewarded in the form of healthy profits, year after year.

Now that system is in shambles. With no danger of losing their licenses, and no remaining requirements for anything beyond the most perfunctory public service, the old equation began breaking down. WBZ could, if it wished, run nothing but colon-cleanser infomercials from dusk until dawn - and sadly, it's no longer clear that the leaders, so-called, of CBS - or any of the other big broadcasters - would feel any more or less pride in their product in that case than they do now. (And how sorry is it that we do actually have to give CBS a modicum of credit for not running all-night colon-cleanser ads on WBZ and KDKA and WCCO and KMOX; the new Grayson show may not be able to replace what's been lost, but it's at least better than what might have been, and may yet be.)

The audience left us, they'll tell you, if you can even find them to ask. They're listening to their iPods or to streaming audio or texting each other on their phones, they'll say by way of excuse. But until and unless they can come to terms with the reality that they left the audience behind, as well - that they can't replace content with colon-cleaners, abandoning the long heritage of innovation and self-promotion and audience growth and just plain investing in the damn product that once made companies like Group W justly proud of the service - service! - they provided, without that audience inevitably heading off to some other medium that treats them with a little more respect.

If that equation doesn't start changing, then the Courant (itself the victim of the same slash-and-burn mentality as newspapers race radio to the bottom of the barrel) may as well be right: it's time to sell the whole thing for spare parts.

(Why aren't we quite ready to chuck it all, then? We refer, again, to the Year-End Rant, wherein we try to find a few rainbows in what seems like a pretty deep vat of despair these days...and we offer our own new year's resolution to do the best we can in 2009, with our readers' support, of course, to spotlight the radio people and stations who still understand the relationship between content and audience - and to call 'em as we see 'em where everyone else is concerned.)

*Where were we? Oh yes, cutbacks - and it's not just Boston: in Brockton, morning fixture Steve Mason signed off his 5:30-9 AM shift at WXBR (1460) last Monday (Dec. 29), only to be told his services were no longer required after 24 years with the station, which was still WBET when he started there in 1984.

While Kevin Tocci remains on board to read news updates every half hour in morning drive, the remainder of WXBR's morning now comes from a satellite feed, which made it tone-deaf at best, and downright insulting at worst, for station manager Dick Muserlian to tell the Brockton Enterprise (the station's former owner) that "listeners will not notice a change" as a result of Mason's dismissal. (See "mini-rant," above.)

Back to Boston for a moment, to note that WRKO (680) started the new year by making Todd Feinburg's status as morning co-host with Tom Finneran permanent (or at least as "permanent" as anything in radio is at the moment). The morning show now starts half an hour earlier, at 5:30, with 30 "best-of" minutes, and ends an hour earlier, at 9, clearing the way for three hours of Laura Ingraham, via syndication, from 9 until noon. (And you can spare us the "what best-of Finneran?" jokes; rest assured we've already made 'em.)

Over on the TV side of things, WCVB (Channel 5) starts the new year without a news director: after eight years on that job at the Hearst-Argyle ABC affiliate, and many years behind the scenes before that, Colleen Marren departed at the end of December, apparently after being unable to reach a new contract deal. Neil Ungerleider, the station's web guru, is handling the ND job on an interim basis. And down the street at New England Cable News, Boston TV veteran Tom Ellis is out of a job; his weekend shift on NECN ended in late December after 16 years at the cable network and decades in the industry.

And there's a format change to report on Cape Cod: WKPE (103.9 South Yarmouth) came off its all-Christmas format to become "Cape Country," the first stab at that format on the Cape in a few years, since WCIB (101.9) made a brief flip to country a while back, and a pretty far cry from the top-40 format the signal had been running for just under a year.

*The CBS "Happy New Year" cuts weren't limited to Boston - they hit hard in CONNECTICUT, too, claiming two of the biggest on-air names from the WTIC (1080 Hartford) roster and leaving that once-proud station as not only a shell of its former self, but also as the target of what's proving to be a pretty noisy public outcry.

WTIC's staff cuts, made just as 2008 slumped to its unlamented end, eliminated the jobs of morning co-host Diane Smith, who left her TV news career a decade ago to join Ray Dunaway on "Mornings with Ray and Diane," and Colin McEnroe, the Hartford Courant columnist who had been WTIC's iconoclastic afternoon talk host since 1992.

Dunaway will go solo, at least for now, as host of a morning block that will be trimmed back by an hour, ending at 9 AM to allow Jim Vicevich to start his talk show an hour earlier. In the afternoons, McEnroe's show will be replaced by a news block anchored by Bill Pearse and Aaron Kupec.

Smith has other irons in the fire to keep her busy - she hosts several programs, including the new "Connecticut on the Road," for Connecticut Public TV - and McEnroe still has his column in the Courant, where he weighed in yesterday on what losing the show means to him, and, obliquely, on some of the points we've been rambling on about, especially the idea that the blame for the split between so many AM stations and the people who should be listening falls as much on the stations themselves as anything else.

But don't believe us - go read it for yourself, and then read the comments that have been flowing in on the Courant's several articles about the WTIC cutbacks, and then consider that on top of the rest of this mess, WTIC morning man Ray Dunaway is now doing Saturdays as well, because an earlier WTIC cutback axed the weekend show the Courant's Stan Simpson was doing, and then ask: if you were running a radio station - not just a profit-and-loss statement but a radio station, like the one WTIC was for all those decades under Travelers Insurance and even Arnold Chase - would you want to set off the state's major newspaper like that?

*Meanwhile in Danbury, "Mr. Morning" starts the year on a new station. After almost 20 years at Berkshire Broadcasting's WDAQ (98.3), Bill Trotta has moved over to Cumulus' WDBY (105.5 Patterson NY), where he'll start next Monday. Trotta replaces Terry Simmons, who was also WDBY's PD; he's moved south to WJLQ in Pensacola, Florida. Meanwile at 98Q, Zach Dillon, the PD and afternoon guy, is filling in on mornings while the station looks for a replacement for Trotta.


Did you miss it while you were vacationing last week? Catch up on a whole year's worth of radio and TV happenings across the Great Northeast, plus a particularly spirited (if we do say so ourselves) Year-End Rant, all on one handy page that will help you remember a year many of us would probably just as soon forget.

Just click on the banner above to visit's NERW's 13th annual Year in Review, brought to you this year by these nice folks:

*After the turmoil that marked so much of the latter half of 2008, it was a mercifully quiet start for 2009 here in NEW YORK, rung in here with some familiar voices and faces - Dick Clark, still recovering from his devastating stroke but in very good spirits on ABC, and Famous Amos on the streaming audio from New York's WCBS-FM.

Up the Thruway in Amsterdam, Ken Roser is trading talk for music at WVTL (1570 Amsterdam), where Christmas tunes gave way to a standards/soft AC format (they're calling it "beautiful music") similar to his WADR (1480 Remsen)/WUTQ (1550 Utica) an hour to the west.

WVTL's local shows, Bob Cudmore in morning drive and "Valley Talk with Mike Mancini & Sam Zurlo," from 9-10 AM, remain in place on weekdays.

Speaking of Utica, WOUR (96.9) afternoon jock Paul Szmal has moved to Chicago to work with live-entertainment promoter Feld Entertainment, reports, moving "Genesee Joe"'s shift into Szmal's former timeslot and shifting weekender CJ into the night gig.

Buried in the flood of end-of-the-year decisions from the FCC was the latest chapter in the ongoing saga (no pun intended) involving Saga's acquisition of Eagle Broadcasting's four-station cluster in Ithaca, and there's no great surprise here - the ruling upheld the sale, saying the Finger Lakes Alliance for Independent Media (FLAIM), which has opposed the deal since it was first announced back in 2005, failed to make the case that it merited an exception from the usual rules under which the FCC uses Arbitron markets to determine how many signals an owner can hold in one area.

But the real story here is in the statement from the two minority FCC commissioners who will be in the majority shortly. Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein "reluctantly concur" in the decision, but they say, rather pointedly, that they did so only because of the limited amount of information available in the record. And while they don't say so outright, it seems likely that cases like this might get a rather different hearing under the new Commission, once it's seated.

New calls: 89.7 in Medina, west of Rochester, will be WFWO.


...because there are still a few copies of Tower Site Calendar 2009 in stock at the Store!

Our business manager (aka Mrs. Fybush) says we're heading for another sellout, so don't sit around waiting for a clearance sale that won't be happening.

So fill that empty space on your wall today, with a brand-new Tower Site Calendar 2009!

Order now at the Store!

*VERMONT rings in the new year with a new rock station. After spending some time stunting with Christmas music, former country outlet WLFE (102.3 St. Albans) flipped to active rock as "Rock 102.3, Pure Rock Radio" as soon as the holiday was over.

Mornings on the new signal come straight outta Nebraska, courtesy of the syndicated "Todd N Tyler Morning Empire" based at KEZO (92.3 Omaha), giving the show its only non-midwest clearance; the rest of the day, at least for now, is satellite - and there's a power increase still in the works; now that WRGR (102.3 Tupper Lake) over in the Adirondacks has moved to 102.1, WLFE can follow through with its move to Grand Isle, closer to Burlington, and power increase to class C3. (WRGR, though it also had a pending CP to go to C3 on 102.1, tells the FCC that due to financial constraints, it will remain a class A signal for now.)

On the other end of I-89, WMXR (93.9 Woodstock) applies to move up to Hurricane Hill, overlooking the highway just west of White River Junction. From its present 666 watts/683', "Maxx" would move to 3.5 kW/427' with a directional antenna protecting co-channel WLVB (93.9 Morrisville) and adjacent WFTN-FM (94.1 Franklin NH).

*In MAINE, Blueberry Broadcasting emerged from Christmas with a new format on WQSS (102.5 Camden) - it's flipped from classic hits to AC under the new slogan "Midcoast 102.5." And is there more to come, in the way of a flip from country to talk (simulcasting WVOM 103.9 Howland) at WMCM (103.3 Rockland)? That's what the rumor mill is suggesting...

*Remove that "interim" from in front of the "PD" title at WBRU (95.5) in Providence, RHODE ISLAND - Wendell Clough now has the job for real, replacing the departed Chris Novello.

*Our NEW JERSEY news begins, sadly, with an obituary: Kevin Collins Jr. was just 24 when he succumbed to cystic fibrosis on Dec. 28 - but he'd enjoyed quite a rocket of a start in his radio career by then. Collins was a native of the Jersey Shore, and in his short life he worked everywhere from college station WMCX (88.9 West Long Branch) to Millennium's Monmouth/Ocean cluster (WJLK, WOBM and WCHR-FM) - not to mention WMRV (105.7) up in the Binghamton, N.Y. market, where he'd spent some time in afternoon drive last year before the disease got the better of him. Donations in Collins' memory can be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, New Jersey chapter, here.

*So much for oldies - er, classic hits - in Altoona, PENNSYLVANIA: WALY (103.9 Bellwood) flipped to AC right after Christmas, as "The New WALY 103.9."

In Pittsburgh, the arrival of the new KMOX-based Pat Grayson show doesn't displace any local talent at KDKA (1020); the weeknights there have been filled with syndicated programming (most recently a tape-delayed Dennis Miller from midnight to 3 AM, followed by the Midnight Trucker show from 3-5 AM) for well over a year now.

There's a new format to go with new calls in Laporte: the former WCOZ (103.9) is now WNKZ, and it's migrated from oldies (simulcasting "Gem FM" WGMF 107.7 Tunkhannock) to hot AC as "KZ104." The WCOZ calls haven't gone far, though - WNKZ co-owner Kevin Fitzgerald is also the president of the nonprofit Telikoja Educational Broadcasting, which now has the WCOZ calls on its new 90.5 construction permit in Laceyville, west of Tunkhannock.

And speaking of Fitzgerald and Tunkhannock, he's got a pending application to move WGMF's city of license south to Dallas. The "Gem FM" transmitter would stay on Briar Mountain, at least initially, but we suspect there could be a Scranton move-in coming later on, if this move is granted.

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

*As for CANADA, they know how to take their holiday vacations - the CRTC closed its doors on Dec. 23, and doesn't reopen until today, which leaves us with just one tiny bit of news to report: in Peterborough, Ontario, CKQM (105.1) has applied to move from its present 50 kW/300' facility to the CHEX-TV tower a few miles to the northeast. From there, it will run 7.5 kW/910', essentially maintaining its current coverage - and will apparently clear the way for Corus' CKRU (980) to begin operation on 100.5. (NERW thinks the issue here may involve intermod products landing in the air navigation band above the FM dial.)

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!)

January 7, 2008 -

  • It was one of the biggest radio stories of the summer in NEW HAMPSHIRE, MAINE and the rest of northern New England last year: Entercom, programmer of Boston's highly successful WEEI (850 Boston), was to partner with Nassau to spread WEEI's sports format to Portland, Concord, the Lakes Region, the Upper Valley and Cape Cod - and in exchange, Entercom would take a half-interest in Nassau's classical WCRB (99.5 Lowell) for the improbably-low-sounding sum of $10 million. (Nassau had paid $60 million for the station just a year earlier, after all.)
  • As 2007 wound to a close, Nassau began laying the groundwork for the format changes that would accompany the start of its WEEI simulcasts: in Concord and the Lakes Region, WNNH (99.1 Henniker) and WLKZ (104.9 Wolfeboro) moved from oldies to classic hits ("Frank") to clear the way for classic rocker "Hawk" WWHK (102.3 Concord)/WWHQ (101.5 Meredith) to become WEEI affiliates. And the "Free Beer and Hot Wings" morning show heard on several Nassau stations started saying goodbye to listeners in Portland ("Bone" WHXR/WHXQ). But then rumors started spreading about problems with the deal, and even as the champagne was being chilled and we were stepping away from the computer on New Year's Eve afternoon, the companies pulled the plug on their plans for a network. "The transaction hit an impasse," was the word from Nassau's Lou Mercatanti to Clea Simon at the Boston Globe, and we've still heard nothing definitive about what caused the deal to fall apart at the last minute.
  • So in the absence of hard fact, we'll offer some educated speculation. First, from the Entercom side of the fence, there's no question that the deal was more essential to announce in August than to close in December. In August, WEEI faced what could have been a serious challenge to its sports supremacy: while Entercom had locked up a long-term Red Sox contract, at no small expense, its morning stars John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were flirting with other suitors - not just the long-rumored Greater Media dream of flipping WBOS (92.9) to an all-sports format, but also a possible Nassau flip of WCRB to sports. Allying Nassau with WEEI took away that option for Dennis and Callahan, and it's no coincidence that the pair re-signed with Entercom soon after the Nassau deal was announced. With Dennis and Callahan safely under contract, and the Sox not only safely under contract but celebrating their second World Series in four years, the threats to WEEI are significantly blunted today as compared to last summer. And while WEEI could certainly have benefited from adding WCRB's FM signal (with its strong reach from southern New Hampshire into Boston's northern and western suburbs) to its existing network, we have no way of knowing if that simulcast was ever anything more than rank speculation, anyway.
  • The year's first big station sale came early, and it involved a familiar face in VERMONT radio. Ken Barlow's history in the Green Mountain State includes stints at WCFR in Springfield and WDOT in Burlington, then the launch in the nineties of WCPV (Champ 101.3) and WXPS (now WXZO 96.7). After his Dynacomm group sold those stations to Capstar in 1999, Barlow went on to join Bruce Danziger and Jeff Shapiro to build the Vox Radio Group, which at one point owned more stations in northern New England than any other broadcaster.
  • In 2005, Vox sold most of its stations to Nassau. Barlow and Danziger then formed Vox Communications Group, which picked up Vox Radio's cluster in western Massachusetts. And now Vox Communications is coming into Vermont with an $11 million purchase of Clear Channel's Burlington and Randolph stations - including Barlow's old haunts, WCPV and WXZO.
  • Here's what the entire cluster looks like: there's AC "Star" WEZF (92.9 Burlington), with a class C signal from Mount Mansfield that is, hands-down, the best commercial FM signal in Vermont. Classic rock "Champ" is now heard on both WCPV (101.3 Essex NY) in the Burlington market and on WCVR (102.1 Randolph) in central Vermont. WXZO (96.7 Willsboro NY) now carries a talk format as "The Zone," simulcast on WEAV (960 Plattsburgh) and WTSJ (1320 Randolph). South of Burlington, there's also "True Oldies Channel" WVTK (92.1 Port Henry NY).
  • Even before the new year began, some big changes were underway in NEW YORK radio. On New Year's Eve, Allan Sniffen's New York Radio Message Board broke the news that Valerie Smaldone had become the latest veteran of Clear Channel's WLTW (106.7 New York) to depart the station. Both Smaldone and WLTW are putting the best possible face on it, calling it a mutual decision not to renew Smaldone's contract after 24 years. In a statement on her own website, Smaldone calls it a "heart-wrenching" move, while WLTW PD Jim Ryan framed the move as a choice for Smaldone to focus on the many other elements of her career as an actress, voiceover talent and writer. But it's a pretty safe bet that Clear Channel, now in serious cost-cutting mode as it prepares to be taken private, wasn't in any hurry to open its wallet to pay the veteran midday jock what she's worth, either. Over the past year or so, WLTW had already cut loose its other founding voices - Stephen Roy, Al Bernstein, Bill Buchner, JJ Kennedy and Bill Buchner - and the company has made similar cuts at other big AC stations around the country as well, including two prominent departures from KOST in Los Angeles over the last few weeks, morning co-host Kim Amidon and middayer Mike Sakellarides.
  • A contract dispute leads off our PENNSYLVANIA news. Lloyd Roach was one of the founders of the Route 81 Radio group back in 2003, combining his own WCOJ (1420 Coatesville) with capital from the investment firm WallerSutton to form a group that included holdings in the Harrisburg, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Elmira markets.
  • Roach departed Route 81 in 2005, and an FCC ruling issued last week provides some insight into the dispute that developed between him and the cluster he left behind. In 2006, Roach filed petitions to deny against the license renewals of WCOJ and Route 81's other Pennsylvania stations, WHYL (960 Carlisle), WNAK (730 Nanticoke), WCDL (1440 Carbondale), WAZL (1490 Hazleton) and WLNP (94.3 Hazleton). Roach claimed that WCDL and WLNP were out of compliance with FCC main-studio rules, that WNAK and WHYL had technical problems with their towers, and that Route 81 in effect stole his equity interest in the company. The FCC quickly tossed out the first two complaints, finding that the stations were in compliance with the rules.
  • As for the third charge, which stemmed from Roach's September 2005 decision to exercise a "put option" to sell his 18.9% interest in Route 81, the Commission found that to be a question for the courts, renewing the licenses and dismissing Roach's complaints. (But we'd note an interesting revelation from the decision: Route 81 says it advised Roach against exercising that option back in 2005, warning him that the lack of cash flow at the stations would end up leading to his options being valued at zero, as indeed they were.)

January 5, 2004 -

  • In NEW YORK, WNEW (102.7) is slowly firming up its new identity as "Mix 102.7," including the naming of a new morning team. At week's end, Gregg Daniels will leave MASSACHUSETTS and WBMX (98.5 Boston), where he was doing afternoons, and he'll head for the big city to join former WBMX morning sidekick Lynn Hoffman (now with VH1 Classic) to be the latest occupants of the morning chair at the latest occupant of the 102.7 frequency. No word yet on what becomes of Rick Stacy, who'd been doing mornings in the "Blink v.2" and holiday-music incarnations of 102.7 recently.
  • Heading up the Hudson Valley, Poughkeepsie's WRNQ (92.1) ended the year by changing its slogan - instead of "Q92," it's "92.1 Lite FM," a close clone of Clear Channel sister station WLTW (106.7) down in New York City.
  • In Syracuse, a new morning show launches today on WFBL (1390), as former WIXT reporter Bill Colley joins Buckley's talk station for 5-9 AM duties. In its previous incarnation on 1050, WFBL had a morning show that consisted of news headlines from Metro Networks and syndicated features; the addition of a real live local morning show, along with hourly news updates from Time Warner's News 10 Now cable network, is a sign that the new WFBL intends to be real competition for Clear Channel news-talker WSYR (570).
  • Rochester religious outlet WDCZ (102.7 Webster) said goodbye to those calls after 11 years on the air New Year's Eve, replacing them with WRCI (and a new Web site at, too!) The idea, we're told, is to give Rochester listeners easier call letters to remember when they write to the preachers who buy time on the station (who track mail based on call letter mentions, and who were apparently getting WDCZ confused with Buffalo sister station WDCX...)
  • In PENNSYLVANIA, Monday marks the launch of Clear Channel's WPGB (104.7 Pittsburgh), with a talk lineup that includes Jim Quinn in the morning and Sean Hannity in the afternoon. A few final additions to the weekday lineup: Ellis Cannon moves over from WEAE (ESPN Radio 1250) to do sports talk from 6-8 PM, followed by Michael Savage from 8-11 PM and George Noory's Coast to Coast AM show (moving over from WPTT 1360) from 11 PM until 5 AM. And in addition to being heard over in Wheeling, West Virginia on WWVA (1170), Quinn's show will also air on WHLO (640) in Akron, Ohio.

January 1, 1999 -

  • NEW YORK's WQEW shut down its standards format right on schedule at midnight Dec. 27 with little fanfare. After a rebroadcast of their tribute to the late Nancy LaMott, WQEW closed things out with "Stardust" and a one-minute message from Stan Martin, then dumped into Radio Disney with a Randy Newman tune. (Hanson, thankfully, didn't play until later in the hour!) The Disney automation crashed briefly about 15 minutes later while trying to play the legal ID.
  • With Disney on 1560, Long Island's WGSM (740) was released from its contract with the Mouse and promptly went to a simulcast of co-owned standards station WHLI (1100 Hempstead). The two are now claiming "35,000 Watts" of power -- too bad the math doesn't really work that way.
  • Meanwhile in MASSACHUSETTS, standards returned to the airwaves with the surprise format change at WPLM (99.1/1390) in Plymouth that dumped the smooth jazz of "Jazzy 99.1" for a female-oriented AC/standards blend as "Easy 99.1." The AM still splits from the simulcast in mornings for business talk. Also flipping to standards was WNBP (1450 Newburyport), which unveiled its new "Legends 1450" identity Christmas day.
  • Up in MAINE, we're told WJJB (900 Brunswick) is simulcasting sister FM WCLZ (98.9) for the moment. And we hear that WAYD (105.5 Islesboro) will be on the air by month's end as adult standards "The Bay," serving communities up and down the Maine coast from Camden north to Mount Desert Island. It's co-owned with WQSS (102.5 Camden) and will operate from WQSS's facilities.
  • Tonight we're gonna party like it's...1983 all over again? That's what the airwaves sounded like New Year's Eve, as stations that would ordinarily never play the Artist formerly known as Prince gave "1999" a spin to usher in the New Year. Our Boston-area listeners heard the Purple One on WEGQ, WJMN, WBCN, WXLO, and WMJX (which broke format in a big way to play it!). Rhode Island and southeastern Mass. heard it on WRIU, WPRO-FM, WBRU, and WFHN at midnight. WBMX, WROR, and WXKS-FM all hit it a few minutes after midnight. In northern New York, Mike Roach reports hearing it in full on CKKL Ottawa and in part on WYSX Ogdensburg -- but U2's "New Year's Day" was more popular, being heard on Ottawa's CHEZ and CKQB and on Brockville's CHXL (and on Boston's WBOS and WXRV, too.) Here in Rochester, we caught it on WZNE and WPXY. Just after the New Year rang in, we also caught a new TV spot for "The Nerve" (WNVE 95.1) promising a big expansion of the station's playlist. Formerly a straight-ahead modern rocker, the Jacor station is adding 70s and 80s hard rock like AC/DC and Aerosmith to its mix. An attempt to inflict further damage on CBS rocker WCMF (96.5)? Sure sounds that way...

You can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!

NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please click here to learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW is copyright 2009 by Scott Fybush.