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March 2, 2009

A Great Voice is Stilled

*Back in 2001, your editor spent a couple of weeks driving across the middle of America, in the first of what we'd come to call our "Big Trips." Out there on the plains, as we passed radio tower after radio tower, we found a constant ritual: every day, around noon, we tuned in to the strongest ABC affiliate we could find for the daily "visit" with Paul Harvey.

We'd been listening to Paul Harvey, on and off, for many years by then, but there was something about hearing him in his natural environment, a couple of states west of his home base of Chicago and a couple of states north of his native Oklahoma, that reinforced what we already knew: almost 70 years into his long career, the voice we were hearing on the car radio was truly a natural treasure.

Now, of course, that voice is gone. It began vanishing from the airwaves during Harvey's frequent absences of the last few years, and it went away for good Saturday when he died in Arizona, at the age of 90.

The whole scope of his career has been, and will be, well documented all over the newspapers and the national trades, so perhaps you'll forgive us if we pay tribute by way of sharing some personal reminiscences of our own experiences with Paul Harvey.

Harvey was never a staple of the New England radio landscape to the same extent as the midwest (even if Framingham-based Bose was long one of his primary sponsors), but by the time your editor arrived at Boston's WBZ in 1992, Harvey's three daily broadcasts had become an important part of the station's lineup, though he'd only been on the air there since 1980. (Remarkably, his previous Boston affiliate was a carrier-current college station, Emerson's WECB!)

Until the last years of his career, Harvey resisted naming a permanent substitute, instead spreading that role among his ABC colleagues (most notably, recently, Gil Gross) and among anchors from his larger affiliates - and in the mid-nineties, ABC briefly tapped WBZ's Gary LaPierre to do some fill-in broadcasts during Harvey's vacations.

As LaPierre's regular newswriter, your editor was tapped to help with the writing on the Harvey broadcasts as well. You can well imagine my own excitement at having my words heard nationally; the bigger surprise, though, was watching the thrill LaPierre experienced at stepping into those big shoes for a day. Here was an anchor who'd already been in the business for three decades, interviewing presidents and Beatles and covering every major event imaginable - but that day, he was filling in for Paul Harvey, and that was really something.

(Sadly, the relationship between Harvey and WBZ cooled in later years; the station's purchase by CBS meant the end of LaPierre's fill-ins, and in 2006 WBZ dropped its ABC affiliation entirely, sending Harvey to exile on weak-signalled WTTT 1150, and eventually off the Boston airwaves entirely.)

Meanwhile, your editor had moved home to Rochester, where Harvey has long been heard on WHAM (1180) - and when that station marked its 80th birthday in 2002 by inviting Harvey to Rochester for a speech and reception, it was an honor to sit in the audience as the octogenarian Harvey spoke for 45 minutes with almost no notes - and then to get to meet the man afterward, and to present him with one of the early editions of the Tower Site Calendar.

The phone rang a few days later, and it was WHAM operations director Jeff Howlett. "You're going to want to listen to Paul today," he said - and proceeded to play the early feed of the noon "News and Comment" over the phone.

After a lengthy recap of his visit to Rochester, full of praise for the city and for WHAM, Harvey continued by spending nearly a full minute of his broadcast talking about...the Tower Site Calendar. (You can hear it here.)

As remarkable as that brush with radio greatness was, there was still one more to come: a year or so later, through the good graces of an acquaintance in ABC affiliate relations, a visit to Chicago was highlighted by a tour of the Paul Harvey studios - and the opportunity to sit across the glass and watch the "noon visit" being broadcast.

Except that didn't happen...because just as your editor was settling in to one of the chairs of the conference room that adjoins the small studio, Mr. Harvey asked if we'd rather come watch from inside the studio itself. And so we did, sitting almost breathless as that voice - almost 85 years young that November morning - emerged from the frail-looking, toupee-less man in the blue ABC smock (his regular work uniform) sitting at the desk just a few feet away.

You don't really top an experience like that, and we never did. Instead, we listened with some sadness as Harvey slowly vanished from the airwaves in recent years, his energy and enthusiasm clearly drained by the illness and death of his wife and producer of six decades, his beloved Angel.

Now he's gone, and with him the last vestiges of an era when stentorian radio commentators roamed the network schedules. Paul Harvey outlasted that era by many decades in that remarkable career that started just a dozen years after radio broadcasting itself, and it's hard to imagine that anyone will ever match that record.

*In a decade and a half of doing this column, we've shied away from repeating rumors and spreading gossip. But sometimes the drumbeat is so loud, and so clear, that it's hard to ignore - and that's the case, this week, with CBS Radio's NEW YORK cluster.

Even as salespeople for WXRK (92.3 New York) settle in as the first tenants of the cluster's new home downtown at 345 Hudson Street, well-placed sources tell NERW that managers are looking for a new request line number that ends with the letters "H-I-T-S."

That, needless to say, doesn't fit the rock format of "K-Rock" or the AC format of its eventual neighbor at Hudson Street, "Fresh" WWFS (102.7). But it does track with the big flip out in Los Angeles last week that transformed FM talker KLSX (97.1) into top-40 "AMP Radio."

Despite rumors that have suggested "AMP" clones showing up everywhere from Boston to San Francisco, we're hearing that the eventual flip in New York - whether at WWFS or WXRK - won't carry the "AMP" branding, which will apparently remain unique to L.A.

So which signal will end up flipping in New York, and when? That remains a well-guarded secret for now, though with the contract for morning men Opie & Anthony just a couple of months from expiration, it certainly would seem that WXRK is more obviously poised for a flip than WWFS, which has been surprisingly successful with its "Fresh" format after many years of instability and repeated format flips as WNEW.

(And, no, we don't put much weight on the rumors that have the WNEW brand returning to 102.7 and "Fresh" moving to 92.3, either.)

Will any of this pan out? As always - stay tuned.

MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: We now know the outcome of this morning's big meeting in Syracuse - and it ends up being the opposite of what we'd surmised - Barrington Broadcasting's NBC affiliate, WSTM (Channel 3), is taking over operations of Granite's CBS affiliate, WTVH (Channel 5), under a shared-services agreement. There was no noon newscast on WTVH, and it appears much of that station's staff may be out as operations of the CBS station move two doors down to WSTM's studios. We'll have much more on this developing story in next week's NERW.

And in Corning, the FCC has deleted the license of WCEB (91.9), the Corning Community College station that's barely been on the air at all in recent years.

*Long Island's WBON (98.5 Westhampton) is now being simulcast in the Atlantic City, NEW JERSEY market: listeners to WTAA (1490 Pleasantville) are hearing WBON's "La Fiesta" format in place of the "Gran D" satellite format that had been airing on the Atlantic City signal.

And while we're straddling the line between the Empire State and the Garden State, a note on our item last week about construction of a new tower site for WEPN (1050 New York): while the current WEPN transmitter building in East Rutherford, N.J. indeed dates to 1940 and the station's WHN days, the three-tower array that's been rendered useless by the construction of the new "Xanadu" shopping/entertainment center next door was not, in fact, original to 1940.

As several highly alert NERW readers have noted, WHN's original 1940 array used only two towers, located due east of the transmitter building on land that was subsequently taken by the Turnpike Authority for construction of Exit 16W, circa 1968. That's when the present three-tower array went up north of the transmitter building - and when the roads around the site were reconfigured, too, as anyone who's ever tried to find the station's driveway has found out to their chagrin. (Here's a hint: you can only get there if you're coming west from Secaucus...)


*One more New Jersey note: NJN Radio has been granted a construction permit for a new signal on 88.9 in Bernardsville, more than a decade after the statewide public broadcaster first applied. NJN was competing with World Revivals, Inc., which applied for the frequency in nearby Chatham. World Revivals challenged the FCC's initial grant to NJN, claiming NJN never had authorization to use its proposed antenna site on the water tower of a VA hospital. But the FCC says there's clear evidence that NJN indeed had "reasonable assurance" of the site's availability, so the CP grant stands.


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*The most recent radio headlines in MASSACHUSETTS have been all about one of the most prominent unlicensed signals in Boston. "Touch 106" has won mayoral approval even as it's defied the FCC's attempts to shut it down and to fine owner Charles Clemons, and now Clemons is making a new bid for legitimacy with what he's billing as a cross-country walk to promote the cause of low-power FM. The "Walk 4 Power," which is scheduled to start today at noon in Boston's Grove Hall neighborhood, is supposed to take about five months, and Clemons is promising regular on-air updates on "Touch 106" as he walks.

Congratulations to Greater Media chairman Peter Smyth - he was honored recently by the Broadcasters Foundation of America with its Golden Mike Award for his service to the industry, and, class act that he is, he insisted that the Bordes family, which owns the company, be honored as well.

*TV viewers in RHODE ISLAND won't be able to use the "Ghiorse Factor" to plan their wardrobes much longer. After 26 years at WJAR (Channel 10), in two stretches from 1968-1983 and again since 1998, meteorologist John Ghiorse retired from the station at the end of February. Ghiorse started his TV career at Hartford's WTIC-TV (Channel 3, now WFSB) in 1966, and also worked at Providence's WLNE before returning to WJAR. Most recently, he's been seen on WJAR's morning, noon and weekend broadcasts.

*The news out of MAINE is all about call changes: WKCG (101.3 Augusta) has become WVQM, to match its news-talk simulcast with WVOM (103.9 Howland) in the Bangor market. Meanwhile, Bangor's WABI (910) sheds the calls it's had for more than eight decades - it's now WAEI, matching its WEEI-simulcast FM sister, WAEI-FM (97.1 Bangor). The WABI calls live on over at WABI-TV (Channel 5).

And there are callsigns for two new signals: WWLN (90.5) in Lincoln and WJVH (91.5) in Belfast both belong to Augusta's Light of Life Ministries.

*From western PENNSYLVANIA comes the first example we've seen in NERW-land of oe of the newest developments in the DTV transition, as WTAE-DT (4/RF 51) applies for special temporary authority to operate a "replacement service" translator on RF channel 22. These new services are being authorized to fill in areas that formerly received usable analog service but fall outside the signal range of DTV service from the same station. And in the case of WTAE, which has long been hampered in parts of the Pittsburgh market by its transmitter location in southern Allegheny County, distant from the rest of the Pittsburgh signals, that loss area includes "certain densely populated areas in the northern portion of Allegheny County, northwestern portion of Westmoreland County, southern portion of Armstrong County and southern portion of Butler County.

So WTAE's asking the FCC to authorize a 9.25 kW digital translator on channel 22, the frequency vacated by WPMY, now operating digitally on channel 42. The new signal would come from the WQED tower in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.

One call change to report: in Martinsburg, WJSM (1110) has changed calls to WWBJ.

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

*The economic crash of the broadcast TV industry in CANADA could mean the end of several local stations in smaller markets across Ontario, and the shutdown of dozens of relay transmitters, if CTVglobemedia follows through on its latest requests to the CRTC.

CTV says it's been losing money ever since it purchased the "A Channel" stations as part of its takeover of CHUM Ltd., and it now intends to shut down Windsor-market CHWI (Channel 16 Wheatley/60 Windsor) and Wingham's CKNX-TV (Channel 8) when those station's licenses expire this August.

CTV also says it will ask the CRTC to allow it to end separate local programming on its CKCO (Channel 42) signal in Oil Springs, near Windsor, making that station a full-time relay of CKCO-TV (Channel 13) in Kitchener. And it says it intends to cease operations at a slew of rebroadcast transmitters, most notably CJOH's relays in Deseronto, Pembroke and Lancaster and CFTO's relays in Severn Falls and Bobcaygeon (Peterborough). Also set to go dark are CKCO's Wiarton relay; CKCW-TV-2 in St. Edward, PEI; CKCD in Campbellton, NB; CJCH/CJCB relays in Bridgetown and New Glasgow, NS; and northern Ontario signals in Wawa, Dwight, Chapleau, Kapuskasing, Kearns, Hearst and Elliot Lake.

Will CTV really follow through on the shutdowns - or is this a negotiating ploy to bring the CRTC around to broadcasters' demands for US-style retransmission consent payments? Stay tuned...

Meanwhile in Hamilton, the Spectator reports that staffers at Canwest Global's troubled CHCH (Channel 11) are preparing a plan to take over operation of the station under a local board of directors. This plan, too, depends on retransmission-consent money, as much as 50 cents per cable/satellite subscriber per month that would go toward funding local newscasts and subsidizing discount advertising for local businesses. If the plan is approved, it would mean much of the US-based programming that now runs on CHCH under the "E!" banner would be replaced by local news. Canwest says it could shutter CHCH within weeks if a buyer doesn't step forward.

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, 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 for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

March 3, 2008 -

  • It's beginning to sound like a broken record (remember those?) - Big Conglomerate Broadcaster posts bad quarterly earnings results, and within a day or two, dozens more talented broadcasters are out on the streets, never mind how good their ratings might have been or how many years they'd been with the station.
  • The disease seems to be working its way through all the big "C" companies, first with CBS Radio and Clear Channel earlier this year. On Leap Day Friday, it was Citadel's turn, as the company reeled from the losses that followed last year's ambitious purchase of the ABC Radio assets, which helped drag its stock down to the $1 level from a year-ago high of $10.40 per share. After posting a net loss for the quarter of $848 million, the job cuts came fast and furious at most of the former ABC Radio properties. In Atlanta, nearly the entire airstaffs at WKHX(FM) and WYAY(FM) were history; in Washington, smooth jazz WJZW(FM) and its airstaff were gone, replaced with automated "True Oldies"; in Chicago, much of the news staff at WLS was history - and in New York, WABC (770) and WPLJ (95.5) were not immune.
  • At WABC, the cuts claimed John R. Gambling, the third-generation talk host who came to the station in 2000 after his Rambling With Gambling morning show was cancelled by WOR following an amazing 75-year run. In his place, former WABC morning host Curtis Sliwa, relegated to a 5-6 AM talk hour, will move to the 10-11:45 AM slot preceding Paul Harvey and Rush Limbaugh. But newsman George Weber, who'd been Sliwa's sidekick in the early mornings, won't join him on his new shift - Weber's out as well. Down the hall at WPLJ, the "Rocky Allen Showgram" is history as well. Allen, who did afternoons on WPLJ from 1993-1998, then spent just over a year on WABC, returned to WPLJ in 2005 along with his sidekick Blain Ensley.
  • The week's other big radio headline came from upstate, where Rochester's Brother Wease announced he's returning to the airwaves, just a month after contract negotiations between the veteran morning talker and his longtime radio home, WCMF (96.5), broke down. We'd been hearing lots of rumors about Wease being seen in the hallways at Clear Channel, the biggest local competitor to WCMF's new owners, Entercom - and it turns out that the corporate hiring freeze at Clear Channel wasn't as rock-solid as it appeared to be, since the company will hire Wease to be the new morning voice at its classic rocker, "Fox" WFXF (95.1 Honeoye Falls).
  • Current "Fox" morning man J.P. Hastings won't be vacating his chair right away, though. Because of Wease's non-compete with Entercom, his return to the Rochester airwaves may not happen until this fall. In the meantime, Wease will be working off the air at Clear Channel, mostly in the sales department, though he tells us he's also booking some guests on Bob Lonsberry's talk show at Clear Channel's WHAM (1180). Wease's crosstown move sets up an interesting morning showdown: his former sidekicks, including comedian Tommy Mule and producer Bill Moran, remain at WCMF as the hosts of that station's replacement morning show, which means Wease will have to hire a new morning crew for his "Fox" debut later this year. He's done that before, as former sidekicks including Stephanie Miller, B.J. Shea and Gregg "Opie" Hughes have moved on to bigger things, but this is the first time he'll be competing directly against his former co-workers. (Including, we'd note, his former colleague Dave Kane, whose midday show on WCMF will air against the last hour or so of Wease on WFXF.)
  • There's a new format coming to Buffalo this morning, as Dick Greene takes control of WECK (1230 Cheektowaga) from Regent, replacing the classic country format with a new lineup of talk programming anchored by veteran Buffalo talents Harv Moore (late of WHTT) and Tom Donohue (most recently with WLKK) in morning drive. The schedule will also include some programming heard on Greene's Niagara County outlet, WLVL (1340 Lockport), such as "Tradio" and a 10 AM talk show hosted by Scott Leffler. Tom Schuh, formerly with Entercom, is the PD of the station, which will also include syndicated talkers Bill O'Reilly, Neal Boortz, Dennis Miller and Jim Bohannon, plus Fox Sports overnight and on weekends.
  • Perhaps the most famous voice in PENNSYLVANIA sports broadcasting history has been silenced. Myron Cope died Wednesday (Feb. 27) at 79, ending a career that included 35 seasons as color announcer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as a 22 year run, from 1973-1995, as host of the city's first sports talk show, on the former WTAE (1250) and many years as a sports commentator on WTAE-TV (Channel 4).
  • Cope, born Myron Kopelman, already had a distinguished career as a print writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and later in magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post when he was recruited for the Steelers' radio team in 1970. His unusual turns of phrase - both Yiddishisms such as "Yoi!" and catchprases such as "The Immaculate Reception," for the pass that won the 1972 Steelers their Super Bowl championship - endeared Cope to generations of Steelers fans. He even created one of the team's icons, the "Terrible Towel" that began waving from the stands at the old Three Rivers Stadium in 1975. Cope retired from the Steelers' broadcast booth in 2005 as he fought a series of illnesses that included a growth on his vocal cords; the next year, he donated the trademark rights to the Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School, where his autistic son, Daniel, has lived most of his life. Fittingly, a sea of Terrible Towels waved in front of Pittsburgh's City Hall Friday during a memorial ceremony for Cope, as the city said "Bye, now" to the man so closely associated with all those winning seasons.
  • In VERMONT, Pamal has split what's now WDVT (94.5 Rutland) away from "Cat Country," which is now heard solely on its new home at 105.3, WJEN (ex-WEBK Killington). The new format on 94.5, which launched Feb. 22 at 6 AM, is classic hits "The Drive."

March 1, 2004 -

  • There's a format change on the way in PENNSYLVANIA in a few weeks. On April 5, Salem will flip WZZD (990 Philadelphia) from the format of religious teaching and music that it's had for 23 years to conservative talk. 990 will get new calls, WNTP, and a program lineup that will include the syndicated offerings from Laura Ingraham, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Michael Savage. Salem has been rolling out its conservative talk in many of its markets, including last year's launch of WTTT (1150) in Boston; in addition to the April 5 launches in Philadelphia and Dallas (KSKY 660 Balch Springs TX), Salem is also introducing a national morning show hosted by William Bennett and veteran talk PD Tom Tradup. "Bill Bennett's Morning in America" will also be heard on WTTT, replacing the current Jimi Carter morning show there; NERW suspects it's just a matter of time before Salem clears that show and the rest of its network on one of its New York outlets (WMCA 570 or WWDJ 970) as well.
  • Another call change in Philadelphia: WLDW (96.5) has become WRDW-FM, reflecting its new "Wired" identity; those calls have a long heritage down in Augusta, Georgia, where owner Beasley has WRDW (1630) - and where there's also WRDW-TV, no longer co-owned with the radio station.
  • There's a fight brewing in Chambersburg over the land where the four towers of WCBG (1590) now sit. City officials began building a water tower right next door to the site, apparently without realizing that the RF field from the station would interact with the new structure. Now the city says it will condemn the land on which the towers will sit, offering Verstandig Broadcasting a paltry $30,000 for relocating to a city-owned landfill site. The station, understandably, doesn't want to move; we'll keep you posted on how this one plays out.
  • Up in the Scranton area, WKJN (1440 Carbondale) applies to change its calls back to WCDL; new owner Route 81 Radio is planning to build new studios in the Carbondale city hall building to get the station back on the air soon. (Sister station WCWI 94.3 has changed calls to WNAK-FM and is now simulcasting standards WNAK 730; another Citadel spin-off, WCWY 107.7 Tunkhannock, is changing calls to WBZR under its new owner, Geos Communications.)
  • Howard Stern fans in Pittsburgh are making do without the shock jock for now; WXDX (105.9) there was one of the six Clear Channel stations that abruptly pulled the Stern show from their airwaves on Thursday. "The X" played music Thursday and Friday mornings, and it's not clear yet whether the Stern show will be back there (or on Clear Channel's WNVE 95.1 in the Rochester market, which also went Stern-less) any time soon.
  • A format flip in NEW YORK's Capital District leads things off this week; as we'd hinted last week, Crawford Broadcasting will move the oldies "Legends" WPTR (1540 Albany) over to the FM dial today, swapping calls and format with religious WDCD (96.7 Clifton Park). While the religious programming gets the big 50,000 watt AM signal, we're hearing that some tweaks to "Legends" are on the way at its new FM home, where it will compete with Clear Channel oldies WTRY (98.3 Rotterdam) and its emphasis on the 60s and 70s, as well as Pamal's WKLI (100.9 Albany) and its standards format.
  • Heading down the Hudson, NERW was first to report (in a Friday extra last week) that Pamal will soon flip WXPK (107.1 Briarcliff Manor) from its current top 40 simulcast of Poughkeepsie's WSPK to adult album alternative - and now we can fill in some of the details. Peter Mutino, late of WGCH (1490 Greenwich CT), will be the station's general manager, and it'll be based at Pamal's studio facility in Beacon. Latest word is that the new 107.1 will debut on April 1; the message boards have already noted that the signal's original calls of WRNW are available (and, as one wag noted, early WRNW jock Howard Stern just might be, too.)
  • Call changes are relatively rare in CANADA, but we have three of them this week, all related. Rogers flipped CISS (92.5 Toronto) to "Jack FM" almost a year ago, and now it's finally changed the calls there to CJAQ. The CISS calls replace CKBY on 105.3 in Ottawa, which became top 40 "Kiss" earlier this year - and the CKBY calls follow the country format south to "Y101" in Smiths Falls, the 101.1 outlet formerly known as CIOX.

February 26, 1999 -

  • In MAINE, Bonnie Grant is leaving her post as general manager of WPOR (101.9/1490 Portland) after years with the station. Saga told staffers this week that it plans to move WPOR out of its current home on Baxter Blvd. and into the building at 420 Western Ave. in South Portland that now houses Saga's other Portland outlets, WGAN, WZAN, WMGX, and WYNZ. As part of the process, Saga market manager Cary Pahigian adds GM responsibilities for WPOR -- which left Grant with the choice of the sales manager job she held before becoming GM, or a departure for other work.
  • Meantime, the rest of the Saga stations are getting a new news and programming coordinator. Doug Tribeau joins the group to replace departed news director Leslie Doppler and WGAN/WZAN PD Dave Winsor (who's still at Western Avenue, but now focused on the WGAN morning show). Tribeau was with Eagle Broadcasting's four-station group (WHCU, WTKO, WYXL, WQNY) in Ithaca, New York.
  • We begin the MASSACHUSETTS news this week with more departures, most prominently those of the "Two Chicks Dishing." Leslie Gold and Lori Kramer held down nights at WRKO (680) for the last few years, but the partnership that began at WMMM in Westport CT and moved on to WRKO for weekends couldn't survive the weeknight pressure, it seems. Their contracts expired Friday (2/26), and WRKO PD Kevin Straley decided not to renew, so now it's back to New York City for Kramer and back to the job hunt for Gold. What's next for 7-10 PM on The Talk Station? Among the names we've heard mentioned are political pundit Michael Goldman and Lowell's Paul Sullivan, who is himself another departure this week. Sullivan's final show on WLLH (1400 Lowell-Lawrence) was Friday morning, as the station heads for Mega Broadcasting ownership and a switch to all-Spanish. Big changes on the way for Merrimack Valley radio? Sure sounds that way, from some of the rumors floating up and down 495...
  • NEW YORK, too, has its comings and goings this week, with Long Island at center stage. As Carl Liu (son of NYC leased-time guru Arthur) gets ready to buy WLVG (96.1 Center Moriches), the AC station is losing its PD and morning host. PD Stefan Rybak left this week, and morning guy Marty Mitchell is leaving as well (though he keeps his weekend gig on quad-cast country Y107 surrounding New York). Liu's deal is worth between $3 million and $3.5 million and includes an LMA of up to 3 years with current owner Gary Starr, according to the M Street folks.
  • Over at WBLI (106.1 Patchogue), Cox stays within the corporate family by bringing in its PD from sister CHR WWHT (107.9 Syracuse). Less than a year after making "Hot 107.9" his first PD gig, J.J. Rice heads down the Thruway and out the L.I.E. to make his mark on the Nassau/Suffolk market. We're proud to say we "knew him when" (as APD/MD at Rochester's WPXY), and we wish him all the best on the Island.
  • Buffalo's WNED (970) appears to have been saved from extinction for the moment, but not without creating some friction on the local noncomm scene. The Western New York Public Broadcasting Authority had said WNED's news and talk format was losing money, and had planned to shut down programming, instead simulcasting the NPR news, talk, and jazz from SUNY Buffalo's WBFO (88.7). After the news broke, listeners and the community called on WNED to reconsider, and the station responded by launching a nine-day pledge drive last weekend to raise $150,000 needed to run the AM. WNED raised $70,000 of that in the first two days alone, along with $100,000 in cash and advertising space from the Buffalo News. If the fund drive succeeds, WNED will hire a consultant to examine the AM's future, including the possibility of replacing "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," already heard on WBFO, with local news (which 970 used to run in its WEBR days).
  • Across the border, the CHR on 92.5 in Toronto is now on its second name in as many weeks. It seems Rogers Broadcasting didn't check to see what nicknames were already in use in the market when it replaced country CISS with CHR "Power" -- and the result was a lawsuit from CKDX (88.5 Newmarket), which has been "Power 88" for two years now. Gone is "Power," in is "Kiss" (or is that "Ciss"?), and if there's confusion with cross-market WKSE ("Kiss 98.5") Niagara Falls-Buffalo, NERW suspects the U.S. Embassy will decline to intervene.

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