February 23, 2009
Analog Sunset? Not in Scranton!
*Once again this week - and, we hope, for the last time until
June - we lead off the column with a region-wide roundup of the
latest on the digital TV transition, at the end of yet another
tumultous week for the TV industry and the regulators who oversee
In much of the region, of course, the long-publicized February
17 transition date passed without any incident. For the most
part, stations in the biggest markets - New York City, Boston
and Philadelphia among them - followed the lead of the network
owned-and-operated station groups, agreeing to postpone the shutoff
of their analog signals until the new drop-dead date of June
In others - Providence, Scranton and Burlington, as well as
Springfield, where most of the market had already transitioned
- stations reached market-wide agreements to end digital service
on the original date...or so they thought.
With just days to go, though, the government showed up, and
it was most definitely "here to help." Even as NERW
was compiling our lists
last week of which stations were going and which were staying
put, the FCC was combing its own lists to make sure that even
in the markets where everyone was pulling the plug on analog,
at least one of the big four network affiliates would keep an
analog signal on the air as an "enhanced nightlight,"
carrying local newscasts along with DTV transition information
and any emergency information that might need to be broadcast.
By the time last week's NERW hit the web on Sunday night,
with 48 hours or so left to go before the big moment, that last-minute
plan seemed to be working out, with "enhanced nightlight"
stations lined up in Providence (WLNE and WNAC), Burlington (WCAX
and WPTZ) and Springfield (WWLP, the lone remaining analog) and
the FCC ready to give its blessings to everyone else in those
areas to pull the plug.
But from the way things played out in Scranton, you'd be forgiven
for thinking that the Commission had outsourced management of
the project to Michael Scott over at Dunder-Mifflin Paper - and
that he'd passed the buck over to Dwight Schrute to handle the
As late as midday Tuesday, the FCC appeared to be prepared
to allow every station except ion Media's WQPX (Channel 64) in
the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton DMA to switch off its analog signal,
and one of those stations - Local TV LLC's ABC affiliate, WNEP
(Channel 16) - wasted no time, pulling the plug at 12:30 PM at
the conclusion of its noon newscast.
In the meantime, though, FCC representatives had arrived in
the market, and they quickly figured out what we'd already reported
on Sunday night: that while Fox affiliate WOLF-TV (Channel 56)
was shown in the FCC's latest lists as retaining analog service
until June, the station had actually ended its analog operations
- with the Commission's blessings - back in January.
The FCC swung into action, contacting both WNEP and competitor
Nexstar, which operates both NBC affiliate WBRE (Channel 28)
and CBS affiliate WYOU (Channel 22). By early afternoon, both
Local TV and Nexstar had offered to operate "enhanced nightlight"
service, and by evening WNEP was back on the air in analog, while
WBRE and WYOU (along with PBS outlet WVIA and My Network affiliate
WQMY) had turned off their analog signals for good.
How long will WNEP stay up in analog? Based on the proposed
new rules released by the FCC late on Friday, there will be no
more analog shutoffs until April 16 at the earliest, and the
Commission (under intense political pressure from Capitol Hill)
is strongly, strongly encouraging stations to retain analog service
until June 12 - and no earlier than 11:59:59 PM on that day,
if one of the many regulatory proposals being offered by the
FCC is retained.
As for the public-interest benefits of continuing analog service
- and the nonstop barrage of PSAs, countdown clocks, crawls and
long-form programming about the DTV conversion that stations
will be required to keep running through June - early evidence
suggests that the sky didn't fall in on the markets that did
make the flip on schedule.
In the Burlington-Plattsburgh market, for instance, Vermont
Public TV hosted a call-in center staffed by representatives
of WCAX and WPTZ as well as VPT itself, and the word from VPT
chief engineer Joe Tymecki is that while some 600 calls were
logged on February 18, the day after the analog shutoff, by the
next day "things slowed down considerably." And nationally,
while the NAB helped the FCC staff up with some 6,000 extra people
to answer the Commission's national hotline, it logged all of
25,000 calls - nationwide - on the day after the big shutoff.
What's next in the process? The FCC is giving stations until
March 13 to make their final decision about whether to stay on
in analog through June or to go off sooner, so maybe we'll be
back with one more pre-deadline regional wrap-up before the big
June 12 date after all.
In the meantime, on with the rest of the week's news...
*Our MASSACHUSETTS news this week
begins on Cape Cod, where the Boston-based WEEI sports network
almost landed a full-time affiliate back in 2007, when Nassau's
WPXC (102.9 Hyannis) was poised to dump its rock format. But
the Nassau/WEEI regional deal fell apart at the end of 2007,
and since then Cape listeners (including the late "Butch
from the Cape," one of WEEI's most legendary callers) have
had to tune in to more distant signals - WEEI's main AM home
on 850 from Boston, or WEEI-FM on 103.7 from Rhode Island - to
hear New England sports talk.
That will change
in April, when Qantum Communications flips WRZE (96.3 Dennis)
from its longtime top-40 format (as "The Rose") to
a full-time WEEI simulcast, under new calls WEII.
The move became possible last year, when WRZE relocated its
transmitter from Nantucket to the Cape Cod mainland, downgrading
from class B to class B1 (25 kW/297'), but improving its signal
strength over most of the Cape's population.
And there's no issue with Red Sox rights: they've been in
Qantum's hands on the Cape for many years anyway, on its news-talker
WXTK (95.1 West Yarmouth).
*Down in Norfolk, Albert Grady's WDIS (1170) apparently came
thisclose to losing its license entirely - but instead, his Discussion
Radio, Inc. is getting off with a $1,200 forfeiture.
Back in 2004, the FCC proposed a $16,500 forfeiture for a
host of violations that included failure to file for license
renewal in 1998, unauthorized operation and and public-file issues
- and at the time, the Commission found the problems so egregious
that it considered it a "very close question" as to
whether to renew the WDIS license at all.
Even after escaping license revocation, WDIS appealed to the
FCC for a reduction in its fine, producing tax returns that showed
that the station brought in less than $16,500 in gross revenues
in tax years 2001 and 2003, and barely more than that in 2002.
(NERW seems to recall that WDIS may have been off the air for
much of that time, explaining the low revenue numbers; we reported
it as being silent back in our July 1, 2002 issue.)
After reviewing the financial records, the FCC agreed to reduce
the fine against WDIS to $1,200, payable within 30 days.
Back in November, when Costa-Eagle paid
$65,000 to buy translator W275BH (102.9 Newton, NEW HAMPSHIRE),
we suspected that a move southward across the state line would
be in the offing - and sure enough, it was.
W275BH's moves are a great case study in how the translator
game is played these days, and here's how they were carried out:
First, Costa-Eagle found a friendly station to agree to be
the nominal primary for its translator, in the form of WXRV (92.5
Andover). Then it took advantage of a quirk in the FCC rules
that allows translators to move to frequencies 10.6 or 10.8 MHz
away from their current channels as "minor changes,"
applying to move W275BH to 92.1, where it was granted (still
licensed to Newton, NH) as W221CH.
The next step was to move the new W221CH to a new location
- in this case, one with at least minimal overlap to the initial
Newton facility's contours, and one that would meet the relatively
loose criteria for second-adjacent interference to WXRV. What
site met those criteria? None other than the tower on Chandler
Road in Andover that happens to be home to Costa-Eagle's own
WNNW (800 Lawrence).
With that construction permit granted (on Feb. 2), tower crews
were on scene last week installing two Nicom antennas on the
WNNW tower (in the aperture long occupied by the old WCGY 93.7),
and the new W221CH was even heard testing, briefly.
But wait a second - what, exactly, does Costa-Eagle have to
gain by putting a translator on the air for WXRV, well within
that station's local signal area?
Nothing of course, and that's the one shoe remaining to drop
in this whole scenario: the other application Costa-Eagle
filed on Feb. 2, for special temporary authority to relay WNNW
(instead of licensed primary WXRV) over W221CH, thus overcoming
AM 800's long handicap of minimal night service to much of the
In Southbridge, WESO
(970) won't be getting an FM translator after all. Back in 2007,
the station asked the FCC for Special Temporary Authority to
put a new FM signal on the air at 106.1 to give it better nighttime
Last week, the FCC finally denied WESO's request. It says
it's only issuing STAs for the use of existing FM translators
(even ones that have been relocated, like W275BH/W221CH) to relay
AM stations. (There's been no action thus far on the 2007 Notice
of Proposed Rulemaking that would allow FM translators to relay
AM signals without resorting to STA.)
Out west, we're just learning of a cut at Citadel's WMAS-FM
(94.7 Springfield) that happened a couple of weeks ago: veteran
middayer Dick McDonough is gone after 14 years on the shift.
His departure comes just a few months after the station's big
studio move - it and sister station WMAS (1450) recently relocated
from their transmitter site next to the US 20 bridge over the
Connecticut River to new digs at the Basketball Hall of Fame
south of downtown Springfield.
Where are they now? Bob McMahon, the longtime WEEI/WBZ anchor
who lost his job at the latter station in those big CBS budget
cuts a few months ago, has landed at public station WBUR-FM (90.9
Boston), where he's anchoring newscasts on a freelance basis.
the TV side, the long-gone WVJV-TV (Channel 66) hasn't been forgotten.
Even though it's been 23 years since John Garabedian and Arnie
Ginsberg sold their pioneering music-video station to become
a home-shopping channel, the short-lived "V66" made
a big impact on greater Boston (and not just on all the tollbooths
where "V66" stickers could long be seen on the change
And while it's been in the works for a while, we were pleased
to see the makers of a new documentary, "Life
on the V: The Story of V66" get some
publicity in the Globe last week - and we can't wait
to see the finished product, whenever it's done.
A belated obituary: it was just last week that news broke
of the Jan. 12 death of former WCVB (Channel 5) "Chronicle"
reporter Andria Hall. Hall came to WCVB in 1985 after beginning
her career in Albany, then at "PM Magazine" at Hartford's
WFSB. Hall left WCVB in 1993 to work for Fox in Los Angeles,
then for NBC and CNN before launching a Christian media consulting
firm in 2001. Hall succumbed to breast cancer in New Jersey;
she was 51.
*A small CONNECTICUT broadcaster is
about to have a much bigger footprint: John Fuller's Red Wolf
Broadcasting struck a deal last week to buy WURH (104.1 Waterbury)
from Clear Channel's Aloha Radio Trust spinoff.
Fuller was just 21 when he put his first radio station, WJJF
(1180 Hope Valley RI), on the air, and he's since built a small
cluster of stations in southeast Connecticut (WBMW 106.5 Ledyard
and WWRX 107.7 Pawcatuck) and more recently in Vermont (WTNN
97.5 Bristol, in the Burlington market.)
"There has never been a better time to be a local broadcaster,"
says Fuller of the purchase, which puts him in competition with
several big players - Clear Channel's remaining cluster in the
market, CBS Radio, and two other local players, Buckley Radio
and Marlin Broadcasting.
sale price for WURH hasn't been released yet, but we're hearing
something in the $7-8 million range, a price that would have
been unthinkably low just a few years ago. (It's been a long
time since a Hartford FM changed hands, but in the smaller Bridgeport
market, WEBE 107.9 and sister station WICC 600 were sold for
what now seems like an impossible $66 million a decade ago; even
before the late-nineties runup in station values, two of WURH's
now-sister stations, WWYZ and WKSS, sold for $25 million and
$18 million, respectively.)
We'll be watching closely to see if this is a model for the
sort of "neo-Mom-and-Pop" radio that we've long been
predicting as a possible future for medium-market broadcasters;
whatever happens, it will be interesting to see how a market
the size of Hartford does with five players in the big-FM-signal
One other Nutmeg State note - cable viewers in New Haven,
Wallingford and Waterbury will soon be losing their second Fox
outlet, now that the FCC has ruled that New York's WNYW (Channel
5) is no longer "significantly viewed" in those communities.
That ruling came at the request of Tribune's Hartford-based Fox
affiliate, WTIC-TV (Channel 61), which used the FCC's current
standard - a survey of over-the-air viewing within each cable
system's coverage area - to demonstrate that WNYW no longer has
any viewership in those areas. NERW wonders: in a market
like Connecticut where cable/satellite penetration is now significantly
north of 90%, is a survey of the handful of remaining over-the-air
viewers stull statistically valid - or a useful measure of whether
or not viewers are deriving any value from the continued carriage
Did you miss it last month?
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
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:
*As rumors fly about possible changes to
CBS Radio's NEW YORK FM cluster, spurred on by Friday's
flip in Los Angeles that transformed FM talker KLSX (97.1) into
top-40 "AMP Radio," there's another big change at the
helm of Citadel's New York City stations.
Tom Cuddy, who's spent 19 years at WPLJ (95.5), most recently
as VP of programming, announced last Tuesday that he'll be leaving
the company (where he was also VP/programming for Citadel's major-market
FM music stations) at month's end. Cuddy's departure follows
that of Mitch Dolan, who started with WPLJ and WABC when the
stations were still owned by Cap Cities/ABC.
There's no replacement named yet for Cuddy, and no sign of
any actual format changes - yet - across town at CBS. Make that
"downtown at CBS," actually, since the sales staffs
from WCBS-FM (101.1) and what's still, for now, WXRK (92.3) have
taken up residence at CBS Radio's new home at 345 Hudson Street,
moving way downtown from 40 W. 57th Street. The CBS-FM and K-Rock
studios will move downtown very soon now, too, and WWFS (102.7),
WINS (1010) and WFAN (660) will follow over the next few months,
with WWFS and WINS moving from 888 Seventh Ave. and WFAN from
that dank basement in Astoria, Queens that has been its home
for over two decades now.
*Moving way upstate, it turns out that there's a radio connection
to that awful plane crash Feb. 12 in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence
Remember Karen Wielinski, who escaped the wreckage of her
home after the plane slammed into it, killing her husband Doug?
It turns out she used to be the receptionist and traffic director
at WXRL (1300 Lancaster), and has still been working one day
a week at the station helping out with traffic logs. We of course
join the rest of western New York in sending her our sympathies,
and our best wishes as she recovers from the injuries she suffered
in the crash.
Also recovering from injuries are four players on the AHL's
Albany River Rats - and team broadcaster John Hennessy - who
were on the team bus when it crashed into a Mass Pike guard rail
in Becket and rolled over early Thursday morning en route back
to Albany from a game against the Lowell Devils. All five were
hospitalized over the weekend at Berkshire Medical Center with
injuries that were described as serious, but not life-threatening.
Utica's Bill Keeler is already a busy guy, what with the afternoon
show he does on WXUR (92.7 Herkimer) and his weekly TV show,
and now CNYRadio.com is
reporting that he's launching another media venture, an online
daily newspaper called the Utica
Daily News. The site makes its official debut March 1, competing
with the established Observer-Dispatch (owned by struggling
GateHouse Media) as well as smaller daily papers in Rome, Oneida
and Herkimer. Will there be enough ad revenue in the deeply struggling
Mohawk Valley to sustain them all?
We've been trying to figure out what to say about a new
radio study that just came out of the Rochester Institute
of Technology, and we're still not quite sure. It's not that
RIT's Michael Saffran doesn't know his stuff - he's an adjunct
professor of communications there, as well as associate director
for new media in the university's news office, and he's got a
long resume in local radio as a news reporter and anchor. And
it's not as though the topic of the study - the effects of ownership
consolidation on listeners' relationships with local radio -
isn't a worthy one that's in need of more serious scholarship.
Nor can we disagree with some of Saffran's conclusions in the
study, including a call for a re-examination of newspaper-broadcast
cross-ownership and a reduction in the nationwide ownership cap.
It's just that after reading the study, we're troubled by
some of the methodology Saffran used to get to his conclusions.
In fairness, Saffran himself admits that the samples he chose
to study - RIT alumni in six markets (Dallas, Buffalo, Rochester,
Binghamton, Ithaca and Middlesex-Somerset-Union, NJ) and self-selected
survey respondents from the message boards on radio-info.com
- represented an atypical cross-section of radio listeners.
Even at that, though, we're troubled by the idea that any
data at all coming from the message-board readership would be
used at all in a serious academic study. We've got nothing against
the boards (well, except for the unbelievably sloooooooow servers
that radio-info doesn't want its users talking about anymore),
but the readership there (and here, for that matter) is as far
from normal as it's possible to get where radio listenership
is concerned, and if there was any attempt made to separate board
readers' responses from those of RIT alumni, we couldn't tease
it out of the dense, 76-page report. (Come to think of it, that
would make an interesting study right there - the huge gap in
perception of radio between those in the industry and "civilians.")
Some of the questions asked of survey participants struck
us as a bit odd, too - how much value is there in asking listeners
for their "opinions" on how much local news and music
is aired on local radio stations, and how relevant is that to
the bigger issues of ownership consolidation and deregulation?
For that matter, can a researcher whose official
news-release photo shows him holding a "NO BIG MEDIA"
coffee mug approach these questions dispassionately?
Saffran acknowledges that there's much more study yet to be
conducted on issues of media consolidation and listener perception,
and perhaps this study will be the impetus for larger-scale,
more academically rigorous work in the future.
(And in the meantime, it's certainly giving them something
to talk about over on the message boards...)
STILL NEED A 2009 CALENDAR?
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*In MAINE, the effects of Cumulus'
ongoing cutbacks are still being felt. In Bangor, Paul Dupuis
has exited as morning co-host after many years at WQCB (106.5
Brewer), while we're hearig Mike Hale is out of mornings over
at WWMJ (95.7 Ellsworth).
*In western PENNSYLVANIA, they're
mourning Thomas Renkenberger, better known to WWSW (94.5 Pittsburgh)
listeners as R.D. Summers. The veteran DJ emceed a dance last
Saturday night at an Elks Club in suburban Pittsburgh, then died
in his sleep early Sunday (Feb. 15). Summers was 60.
AM-on-FM translator coming to the Keystone State: in Carlisle,
WIOO (1000) is paying $10,000 for translator W250AP (97.9), currently
one of two Carlisle translators belonging to Four Rivers Community
Broadcasting's "Word FM" network, relaying WZXM (88.1
Harrisburg). WIOO also gets an option to buy Four Rivers' other
Carlisle translator, W226AS (93.1), and relinquishes its option
to buy yet another Four Rivers translator west of Carlisle, W270BU
(101.9 Newville). WIOO apparently plans to move the W250AP transmitter
to its own AM tower in Carlisle, and to boost the translator's
power to at least 80 watts.
In Philadelphia, Alvin Clay is out at PD at WHAT (1340) and
its sister webcast, SkinRadio.com.
Dan Michaels is the new PD at WLTJ (92.9 Pittsburgh); he comes
to "Q 92.9" and Steel City Media from Washington, where
he was the PD at Clear Channel's WBIG (100.3). On the TV side,
there's a new news director at WTAE (Channel 4), where Alex Bongiorno
moves north from WSPA-TV (Channel 7) in Spartanburg, S.C. to
replace Bob Longo, who's now in Orlando at WESH.
Happy anniversary to Fred Honsberger, who marks his 30th anniversary
at KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh) with a special edition of his show
Thursday, co-hosted by fellow KD vets John Cigna and Mike Pintek.
Over at WPXI (Channel 11), they're mourning Don Riggs, who
spent the last 20 years of his career as an announcer and program
host at the station, most memorably as a children's show host,
where he also provided the voice for "Willie the Duck."
Channel 11 was still WIIC when Riggs arrived there in 1970 from
WQED; he'd also worked at KDKA-TV from 1960-1967, as well as
at stations in Columbus and Indianapolis. Riggs died Saturday
at age 81.
And we note the passing of John Kanzius, who came to Erie
in 1966 to work as an engineer for WJET (1400) and WJET-TV (Channel
24), eventually becoming JET Broadcasting's vice president/general
manager in 1980. Kanzius retired to Florida and turned his attention
to cancer research after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2002,
and in recent years he'd been working on using radio-frequency
waves to kill cancer cells. Kanzius succumbed to pneumonia on
Wednesday (Feb. 18); he was 64.
*In NEW JERSEY, the jock lineup is coming
together on Press Communications' new "Hit 106" (WHTG-FM
106.3 Eatontown/WBBO 106.5 Bass River Township): it's "Pork
Roll 'n' Eggs" in morning drive, hosted by comedian Tom
DeVoy and former WJLK (94.3) jock Nina Siciliano, followed in
middays by Dan Turi, who moves to Press from competitor Millennium,
where he'd been on WJLK. Matt Knight is already holding down
afternoons, and the station has brought back Scott Lowe, who
did nights in its old "G-Rock Radio" incarnation, for
the same shift on "Hit."
Another jock shift: Heather DeLuca moves from WAYV (95.1 Atlantic
City) to WSJO (104.9 Egg Harbor City), still in middays.
A positioning shift: Press is now branding country WKMK (98.5
Ocean Acres) as "Ocean County's Country, Thunder 98.5,"
replacing "K 98.5."
In Trenton, the minor-league baseball Thunder have found a
new radio outlet for their 2009 season. Now that former flagship
WBUD (1260 Trenton) has flipped to Catholic WTJS, the Thunder
have signed on with Rider University's WRRC (107.7 Lawrenceville)
to carry their games this year.
And some good news from the Meadowlands: we hear the towers
have begun to rise at the new site of WEPN (1050 New York), just
south of Turnpike exit 16E in Secaucus. The new three-tower array
will replace the 1940-vintage 1050 site adjacent to Giants Stadium,
where construction of the new Xanadu shopping/entertainment center
is forcing the radio station to move. We're hoping to get out
that way soon for a tour and some pictures...stay tuned!
Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as
an e-book or printed volume!
*With the CRTC preoccupied with its hearings
into the possibility of regulating Internet content (didn't that
horse leave the barn many years ago?), it was a relatively quiet
week in the rest of CANADA.
There's good news
from the Six Nations reservation south of Brantford: after being
forced off the air at the end of January by mounting debt and
aging equipment, CKRZ (100.3 Ohsweken) is back. Engineer Walt
Juchniewicz took on the task of rebuilding and updating the station's
facilities, reports the Brantford Expositor, and the signal
returned to the airwaves with automation and occasional live
news updates on Feb. 12. SONICS, the community group that runs
CKRZ, says it will now work to reduce the station's $100,000
debt and get its operations back to normal.
There was one proposed station sale to report this week: My
Broadcasting hopes to extend its reach into small-town Ontario
all the way to the shores of Lake Huron with the purchase of
CIYN (95.5 Kincardine), now in the hands of Halliburton Broadcasting,
Brian Cooper and Daniel McCarthy. The sale is valued at C$1 million
with CIYN's existing facility in Kincardine and a relay transmitter
on 97.9 in Goderich, or C$1,150,000 if the CRTC also grants CIYN's
application for another relay transmitter on 90.5 in Port Elgin.
In Woodstock, Ontario, CIHR (104.7) is applying to boost power,
going from its present 6 kW DA to 20 kW DA and improving its
reach into outlying areas of Oxford County.
Out in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, general manager Dave MacLean
is retiring from CJFX (98.9) in May after 35 years with the station,
reports Milkman UnLimited. The station is planning a special
broadcast for May 29, MacLean's last day there.
And our condolences to Andy Barrie, host of "Metro Morning"
on the CBC's CBLA (99.1 Toronto), on the death Wednesday of his
wife, Dr. Mary Cone Barrie. He'd been off the air since November
helping to care for his wife as she battled lung cancer.
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, ten and - where available - fifteen 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!)
February 25, 2008 -
- It's all too common at the moment to hear about radio stations
firing veteran air talents as they seek to cut costs. It's much
more unusual to hear about one of those veteran jocks getting
a new job - and all but unheard of to see that jock go right
back to his old shift at his old station. But then there's nothing
normal about the soap opera that's surrounded upstate NEW YORK's
classic rocker, WCMF (96.5 Rochester), in the year and a half
since Entercom announced plans to acquire it and several sister
stations from CBS Radio.
- No, Brother Wease isn't back on the air at WCMF (though we
hear he's now working behind the scenes, doing sales across town
at Clear Channel) - but the station is returning ousted midday
host Dave Kane to its airwaves today, not quite three months
after he did his "last show" under the old CBS ownership
before the station changed hands to Entercom. Since Kane's departure
from WCMF, he had been freelancing at WHAM-TV (Channel 13), contributing
bits to the station's morning newscast. For much of that time,
though, Kane had apparently been negotiating with Entercom about
a return to WCMF, which has been lacking in personalities since
the start of the contract dispute that pulled Wease off the air
just before Christmas. (In addition to releasing Kane, Entercom
also chose not to keep night jock Dino Kay or weekender/production
director Marc Cronin, leaving WCMF with only the Wease-less morning
crew and with afternoon jock Big Marc. With Kane's return to
the station, he'll have a slightly different shift for his "Midday
Mambo" (10 AM-3 PM, rather than his 11:15 AM-4 PM shift
that followed Wease's extended morning show), and he'll have
a new title, adding PD stripes. (And, we hope, restoring some
stability to a station that's desperately needed some after the
turmoil of the last few months.)
- In MASSACHUSETTS, there's an unfortunate budget cut at Entercom's
WRKO (680 Boston): the talk station axed veteran weekender Moe
Lauzier, and the Herald says Lauzier learned of his dismissal
from a producer 15 minutes in to what turned out to be his last
show Saturday morning. Lauzier, 66, tells the paper he hopes
to be working somewhere else (crosstown WTKK?) within a few weeks
- and WRKO will reportedly fill Lauzier's slot with...infomercials.
Lauzier would have celebrated his 25th anniversary at WRKO this
- EMF Broadcasting just keeps buying stations for its "K-Love"
network, and the latest acquisition is in MAINE, where EMF is
buying WCYI (93.9 Lewiston) from the Last Bastion Station Trust,
which is holding the signal in trust for Citadel. Since Citadel
spun off WCYI (and former sister station WCLZ, now in Saga's
hands) last June, the station has flipped from a modern-rock
simulcast of WCYY (94.3 Biddeford, still with Citadel) to a simulcast
of WCLZ's AAA format to a temporary all-blues format.
February 23, 2004 -
- The sell-off of Vox's properties around the Northeast continued
last week, as Bruce Danziger and Jeff Shapiro's group filed to
sell most of its stations in Glens Falls, NEW YORK to Jim Morrell's
Pamal group. Even as Vox has been selling off many of its stations
in the region (the Pioneer Valley to Saga, Concord to Nassau),
Pamal has been busy expanding, adding stations in Springfield
and Westchester - and now, for $2.5 million, Vox's sports WMML
(1230 Glens Falls), standards WENU (1410 South Glens Falls)/WENU-FM
(101.7 Hudson Falls) and country WFFG (107.1 Corinth). Those
are four of the six stations Vox bought when it created the cluster
back in 2000 - WMML, WFFG (then WHTR) and WZZM (93.5 Corinth,
now WEGQ 93.7 Scotia) from Starview Media and WENU (then WBZA),
WENU-FM and WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury) from Bradmark. Vox sold off
WZZM to Galaxy once it had moved it south to the Albany market,
and a move to Albany is also in store for the one remaining station
in Vox's Glens Falls arsenal. In fact, the application to move
WNYQ south was also filed this week - it'll be licensed to Malta,
in southern Saratoga County, and will run 4800 watts at 112 meters
from the same tower just north of Schenectady that's already
home to WDCD (96.7 Clifton Park), WKKF (102.3 Ballston Spa) and
WABT (104.5 Mechanicville). (With a big cluster already in place
in Albany, including the maximum of five FM signals and WROW
590, there's no way Pamal could add the relocated WNYQ to its
stable, which explains its absence from the deal.)
- Meanwhile up in Glens Falls, Pamal will add its four new
purchases to its existing station in the region, modern AC WKBE
(100.3 Warrensburg) - and the whole market will be down to just
two players, Pamal and Entertronics (WWSC 1450 Glens Falls, WCQL
95.9 Queensbury and WCKM 98.5 Lake George).
- Things were hopping in central PENNSYLVANIA last week, at
least, as Harrisburg listeners said goodbye to "Cat Country"
WCAT-FM (106.7 Hershey) - and, after several long days of a loop
of "Pop Goes the Weasel", said hello to something called
"Cool Pop" under the calls WCPP. What's a "Cool
Pop"? Like "Jack" up in Canada - or the late "Blink"
in New York, for that matter - it's hard to pin down to a traditional
format label. We've heard it described as everything from hot
AC to top 40/pop, and it sounds to us (based on the playlists
we've seen) like a cross between the two, apparently with a healthy
Blink-like dose of celebrity news and gossip to be mixed in.
The only air talent on board so far are former Cat morning team
Michelle Cruz and Dennis Mitchell ("Michelle and Mitchell");
at the helm of programming is Claudine DeLorenzo, who's been
promoted from PD of sister stations WQXA-FM and WRKZ to director
of programming for the entire Citadel/Harrisburg cluster.
- In NEW HAMPSHIRE, a legal LPFM is about to hit the airwaves.
February 29 is the target sign-on date for WCNH-LP (94.7 Concord),
which will program classical music for the Granite State's capital
city under the leadership of Harry Kozlowski, former PD at WJYY/WNHI
across town. (Speaking of those stations, we can now put a price
tag on Vox's sale to Nassau - it'll get $9 million for WJYY,
WNHI and WOTX.)
February 19, 1999 -
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- It's been a confusing week for staffers and viewers of Boston's
WCVB (Channel 5). Last Friday (Feb. 12), the station announced
that longtime anchor/reporter Susan Wornick was out of her job,
the result of an unresolved contract dispute. Station management
didn't anticipate the result -- a series of articles in the local
newspapers criticizing WCVB for letting Wornick go, a flood of
phone calls, and pressure from upper management at Hearst-Argyle
(according to the Herald) to get Wornick back on the air. The
rest of the story? By midweek, Wornick had reached a contract
settlement, as well as delivering herself of a news release saying
the decision to leave -- and to return -- had been hers. NERW
sees the times changing at channel 5, anyway; our trip to Western
Massachusetts earlier this week (about which more later) gave
us the chance to see WCVB on cable, and we were sorry to see
the "mayhem and violence factor" in abundance on a
station that once shunned such a focus for its newscasts. (Thanks,
- In other MASSACHUSETTS news on this relatively quiet week,
Southbridge's 100.1 returned to the airwaves with a new format,
ending its stunting by becoming "Worcester's Classic Hits,
100.1 the Fox," with new WWFX call letters reportedly being
requested to replace WQVR. It's Worcester's second classic rocker,
aimed straight at WORC-FM (98.9 Webster, to be Spencer, "The
Bus"). While we're in Worcester, we note that Greater Media
is exiting the cable business there and in Springfield, selling
its systems to Charter Communications.
- One of CONNECTICUT's minor-league baseball teams will be
on the radio in 1999, after all. The future of New Britain Rock
Cats broadcasts was a bit uncertain after flagship WNTY (990
Southington) was sold to ADD Media, but here comes WPRX (1120
Bristol) to the rescue, agreeing to carry all 142 games this
year. And while WPRX is a Spanish-language station most of the
day, the play-by-play will be in English -- with broadcasters
running English ads during the game and Spanish ads and promos
before and after. Some games will also be heard on Hartford sat-caster
- NEW YORK is about to get adult standards back in its biggest
market. Arthur Liu's WNJR (1430 Newark) has hired Russ Knight
as PD and morning drive, and will begin running the format from
6AM until 7PM on April 1 (gee, we hope this isn't an April Fools'
joke!), with plans in the works to run 24 hours eventually. Liu
also reportedly hopes to move the transmitter from its current
site along the Garden State Parkway in Union to the site of co-owned
WPAT (930 Paterson) a bit further north, and to change the calls
eventually (the first time since the current New Jersey-based
1430 replaced WBYN Brooklyn back in 1947!). Liu also owns Korean
WZRC (1480) and Spanish WKDM (1380) in New York...and as long
as we're thinking of WKDM, we'll note that the 1660 in Elizabeth
NJ, which shares the WKDM towers along Paterson Plank Road by
day, has changed calls from WBAH to WWRU.
- No "Hockey Night in Canada"? And on the night the
new arena in Toronto opens for the first time? Unthinkable (well,
it is if you're Canadian, trust us) -- yet that's just what's
happening as a result of the strike by CBC engineers across the
country (except in Quebec and Moncton, New Brunswick). The strike
has disrupted most of the programming on the English network,
forcing most of its TV stations off the air at 11PM, when the
late local news would normally be airing. Other news broadcasts
have been replaced with repeats of entertainment shows or stripped-down
newscasts produced by management staff. There's no local or regional
news on TV for the moment. On the radio side, the Toronto Star
reports that CBL/CBLA (740/99.1)'s "Metro Morning"
had a substitute host Thursday after Andy Barrie refused to cross
the engineers' picket lines. Other CBC shows either offered repeat
segments ("This Morning") or were cancelled ("Richardson's
Roundup," "Ontario Today.") And the CBC Broadcast
Centre in Toronto, normally accessible to the public, is off-limits
for the moment; its atrium shops and studio windows are closed
and even CBC staffers have to sign in at the door, according
to the Star. The latest scheduled posted at the CBC Web site
shows temporary national shows called "Canada Today"
(noon-2PM) and "All in a Day" (4-6PM, and presumably
a relay of the Montreal afternoon show on CBM) replacing the
local/regional programs in those slots; we'll tune in Monday
and check things out...
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2009 by Scott Fybush.