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June 1, 2009

Severin Returns to WTKK

*Three weeks after WTKK (96.9 Boston) pulled him off the airwaves of eastern MASSACHUSETTS, talker Jay Severin will be back on the air tomorrow, following what Greater Media says were ongoing discussions about the direction his show will take.

"We have had conversations with Jay Severin over the past several weeks about his hurtful, inappropriate remarks," said a Greater Media statement released Saturday. "He understands that we will not accept this type of commentary on our airwaves in the future...We want to emphasize that WTKK still strongly supports an open and spirited debate about the many issues our community and our country currently face. There will no doubt be times when people disagree with what Jay says. Our goal is to maintain a level of discourse that is compelling and thought-provoking, yet civil and respectful. While we will not always succeed in walking this line, we will continually strive to do so."

Severin disappeared from WTKK's afternoon slot following comments he made about Mexicans in the wake of the swine flu epidemic; it wasn't his first suspension in a long career of controversy, and it's a pretty safe bet it won't be his last.

Elsewhere on the dials, it was a quiet week, shortened by the Memorial Day holiday, but here's what we could glean around the region:

*Down the hall from WTKK, Greater Media is shaking up the jock lineup at WROR (105.7 Framingham), giving morning-show sidekick Tom Doyle new visibility on an afternoon show he'll be co-hosting with Julie Devereaux, who returns to the station after being laid off from her night shift a few months back. J.C. Haze, who'd been doing afternoons, moves to weekends on WROR.

The plan by two Boston TV stations to combine some resources is hitting potential union snags. IBEW Local 1228, which represents photographers and behind-the-scenes staff at both CBS' WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and Fox's WFXT (Channel 25), has filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board over the proposal for both stations to share the helicopter now used by WFXT, and to pool news video on "everyday" stories such as fires, car crashes and news conferences. Such video-sharing deals are becoming increasingly common around the country, including at CBS and Fox stations in markets such as Philadelphia and Washington.

And speaking of Local 1228, the union is putting out a call for help for one of its own: WHDH-TV engineer Brian Edgerton is recuperating from a mild stroke, and the union says he gets no benefits from the station because he's a part-timer. They've set up a fund to assist Edgerton and his family, with donations being collected via the union office at 77 Access Road, Norwood MA 02062.


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*In NEW HAMPSHIRE and MAINE, several new construction permits have been saved from deletion, thanks to the FCC rule that allows small business owners to get an 18-month extension if they buy a CP prior to the three-year construction deadline.

In Maine, Daniel Priestly's Waterfront Communications has transferred CPs on 1230 in Newport and 1240 in Ellsworth to Gary Fogg's Wireless Fidelity of North America, Inc. for $22,000 each, while in Stratford, N.H., Jackman Holding Company has sold WTTT (98.7) to Virginia-based Silver Fish Broadcasting, controlled by Carlton and Aubrey Fitch and Peyton Young, for $100,000. (WTTT has a still-pending application from 2007 to change community of license to Bretton Woods - and to put its transmitter atop Mount Washington.)

A few more Pine Tree State notes: in Bangor, Pencil Boone is departing the GM chair at WHCF (88.5) for a new job with Bangor Baptist Ministries. Marc Tischart takes over as GM, while WHCF PD/music director Joe Polek adds morning-drive duties. WHCF also gets a new nighttime host next week, when Shelly Mitchell arrives from North Carolina's WRCM.

Some call changes: EMF Broadcasting has installed new "K-Love" calls on its new Bangor-area signals: mark down WKVV for the former WFZX (101.7 Searsport) and WKVZ for the former WGUY (102.1 Dexter). In Richmond, WZME is the new callsign for the as-yet-unbuilt 1120 signal.

And outside Bangor, WLEK (101.1) is now licensed at low power from its original city of license, Machias, while an application to move the station to Gouldsboro - with transmitter on the tower of Blueberry Broadcasting sister station WLKE (99.1 Bar Harbor) - was granted last week as well.

*Back to New Hampshire: Nassau is rearranging its airstaff on its Concord/Lakes Region stations, where Dominic Biello is out of morning drive at WLNH (98.3 Laconia), replaced by 20-year veteran Pat Kelly. He's moving over from the morning shift at WNNH (99.1 Henniker)/WLKZ (104.9 Wolfeboro) as Nassau prepares to shed WNNH from the cluster.

The impending spin-off of WNNH (and of WWHQ 101.5 Meredith) is part of the reorganization of Nassau filed with the FCC last week, in which Nassau's senior lenders, led by Goldman Sachs, will take 85 percent of the company's equity in exchange for wiping out the company's debts.

Two of Nassau's markets are being reorganized separately: The Goldman Sachs-led group will end up with all of the equity in Boston-market WCRB (99.5 Lowell), one of Nassau's biggest properties, while the Nassau stations on Cape Cod will be transferred to a separate "Mid-Cape Broadcasting LLC" in which Goldman will not hold an equity interest.


We thought we'd sell out of Tower Site Calendar 2009 without resorting to a clearance sale...but not quite.

Our business manager (aka Mrs. Fybush) reports that a limited quantity of 2009 calendars are still available - and as we get ready to send Tower Site Calendar 2010 to the printer, we're clearing out the remaining 2009 editions.

The supply is dwindling fast at our clearance price of just $9 each, postpaid - that's half-off the usual price of $18. So place that order now - and get ready for pre-orders of the 2010 edition, starting in July.

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*One of VERMONT's longest-running specialty shows is coming to an end. "Floydian Slip," a weekly hour all about Pink Floyd's music, started at the old (and much-missed) WEXP (105.1 Plattsburgh NY) back in 1994, then moved across town to WCPV (101.3 Essex) after WEXP's 1995 format change. Host Craig Bailey will do a farewell show on "Champ 101.3" next Sunday, June 7, and he says the show - which started when he was a student at Ithaca College in the late eighties - could yet find a new home or might continue as a podcast.

*It was a very quiet week in NEW YORK, though it began with some sad news from the Watertown radio community, where WFRY (97.5 Watertown) afternoon jock Bud Green lost two daughters - one of them eight months pregnant - in a car crash the weekend before. Susan Melgar, 18, and Denise Yeman, 14, were two of four people killed when the SUV in which they were riding went off the road.

(We learned about the crash from, which also reports the too-young death, at 32, of former Regent Utica board op R. Clark Witt IV, who'd been working more recently for a Utica-area law firm before succumbing to a long illness on May 24.)

Just one bit of news from the big city: the New York Jets signed an extension to their radio deal with ESPN's WEPN (1050 New York) that will keep the team on "1050 ESPN Radio" through the 2012 NFL season. The team has been on 1050 since 2002.

Up the Hudson River, WCKL (560 Catskill) has made its annual return from silence - but this time it's keeping its license alive with an automated loop of rock music and IDs, rather than the FM simulcasts it's used in previous years.

Where are they now? Rochester native Dave Mason has just been promoted to PD at San Diego oldies station "105.7 the Walrus" (XHPRS-FM, licensed across the border in Mexico.)

And one more obituary - Jim Chaplain, who used the name "Jim Lord" when he was midday host and production director at WTRY (980 Troy) in the sixties, fell in his yard on Memorial Day, and died the next day. Albany Broadcasting's Joe Condon reports that Lord had just recently been part of a reunion of WTRY's 60s-era airstaff. His career also included stops in Toledo - where we hear he took great pride in being the local "Bozo the Clown" on TV - and eventually landed him in Florida, where he worked in sales and became a station owner.

*In northwestern PENNSYLVANIA, the consolidation of sister stations WICU-TV (Channel 12) and WSEE-TV (Channel 35) in Erie entered its final stage late last week, when several WSEE staffers offered on-air goodbyes as the CBS affiliate prepared to vacate its longtime downtown studio building and reconfigure its news schedule.

While WSEE and WICU had been sharing services behind the scenes for several years, including a common master control and sales department (at WICU's State Street studios) and a common creative-services department (at the WSEE building), their news staffs had remained separate and competitive...until Thursday, when WSEE's airstaff signed off from 1220 Peach Street.

Several familiar WSEE faces - most notably morning/noon anchor Raychel Vendetti- won't be making the move to State Street, where separate WSEE-branded newscasts will continue to air in some timeslots beginning today. (The details of the new schedule were still being firmed up over the weekend, we hear.)

*Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, the weekly "Echoes of Lithuania" show ended a four-decade run yesterday, signing off WEDO (810 McKeesport) for what host Dalia Yucius described as financial reasons. Yucius, who took over the show from her late father Vito Yucius, tells the Post-Gazette that sponsorships and listener donations "just dwindled away," making it impossible to keep buying weekend airtime on WEDO.

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

*In CANADA, the CRTC has approved a new station in Wallaceburg, Ontario, 20 miles or so north of Chatham. The application from Five Amigos Broadcasting for 570 watts, directional, on 99.1 drew opposition from Blackburn Radio, which argued that a new station in Wallaceburg would harm the finances of its cluster of stations (CFCO/CKSY/CKUE) in Chatham-Kent - but the CRTC disagreed, finding that the new Wallaceburg station will serve only a limited area compared to the wide reach of the Blackburn signals.

On the national level, Milkman UnLimited reports Rob Farina is moving from his current VP/programming position with CTVglobemedia to archrival Astral Media.

And if you ever worked at Montreal's CKGM - or any of its other incarnations at the 980 or 990 dial positions - veteran 'GM jock Marc "Mais Oui" Denis wants to hear from you. He's organizing a staff-only reunion this fall, coinciding with the station's 50th anniversary; you can find more detail at his CKGM tribute site.

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. Note that 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!)

June 3, 2008 -

  • It was just five years ago this summer that Access.1 Communications spent $22 million to buy the former Howard Green stations in the Atlantic City, NEW JERSEY market - NBC affiliate WMGM-TV (Channel 40 Wildwood), plus two FM and three AM stations. Two years later, Access.1 added another FM to the cluster, paying $5 million for modern rock WJSE (102.7 Petersburg). And now Access.1 is selling most of its Atlantic City radio cluster, putting the signals - WJSE, classic rock WMGM (103.7 Atlantic City), oldies WTKU (98.3 Ocean City), news/talk WOND (1400 Pleasantville) and progressive talk WTAA (1490 Pleasantville) - in the hands of a new group called "Atlantic Broadcasting."
  • The new owners are local, led by president Brett DeNafo, programmer Paul Kelly (currently at WAYV, though today will be his last day there), engineer Michael Ferriola and promotions director Joseph Borsello, and they say they have a "well thought out and innovative game plan to bring the stations back to the high ratings and revenue level they once achieved." The cluster's current GM, Dick Irland, and sales director, Mike Kazala, will stay on board. The purchase price hasn't been announced, but we hear that Atlantic is getting the stations, plus the studio building in Linwood and two transmitter sites, for considerably less than Access.1 paid for the stations back in 2003.
  • We'd heard the rumors a few weeks back, and now it's official - Blake Lawrence, the last holdover from the old WQCD, has resigned as PD of Emmis' WRXP (101.9 New York). No replacement has been named so far.
  • In western PENNSYLVANIA, it didn't take long for ESPN management to pull the plug on WEAE (1250 Pittsburgh) afternoon host Mark Madden, once the headlines about his controversial Ted Kennedy comments started spreading. Madden was off the air last Monday, and by Tuesday the word came down from Bristol that ESPN was exercising its "contractual rights" to remove Madden from the air. The move comes at perhaps the worst possible time for the station, what with the hometown Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals and all, and WEAE is trying to make the best of it with a rotating cast of fill-in hosts until a permanent replacement for the high-profile Madden can be named.
  • One of Atlantic CANADA's oldest AM stations made an abrupt disappearance from the dial late last week, as CTV wasted no time moving CJCH (920 Halifax) to its new home on the FM band. After less than a week of testing, CJCH-FM (101.3 Halifax) signed on for real Friday morning (May 30) at 10 AM, with none of the usual FM/AM transitional simulcasting that's common in Canadian FM-to-AM moves. Instead, the 25 kW AM signal went to a "move to FM" loop for a few hours, then went silent for good. The new FM signal isn't picking up the AM station's oldies format, either. Instead, it's doing top 40 as "101.3 the Bounce." Out as part of the transition is 30-year station veteran Rick Howe, who'd hosted the "Hotline" talk show that was heard in middays on CJCH(AM).

June 1, 2004 -

  • Oldies music has returned to the FM dial in NEW YORK's Hudson Valley. Clear Channel dropped the rock at WRKW (92.9 Saugerties) on Friday, replacing it with oldies as "Cool 92.9." The slogan and the format were last heard in the valley on Cumulus' WBPM (94.3 Kingston), which flipped to country as "Kix" WKXP last year - and sure enough, Clear Channel has even applied to pick up the WBPM calls for the 92.9 signal.
  • Vox Media continued its sell-off this week: it's unloading its Jamestown cluster to Jim Embrescia's Media One Communications for $4.5 million. Embrescia already owns WJTN (1240) and WWSE (93.3) in Jamestown, and this deal will add oldies WKSN (1340), country WHUG (101.9) and classic rock WQFX (103.1 Russell PA) to the cluster, giving Media One a huge lock on the Jamestown radio audience.
  • It took 17 years, but William H. "Bud" Walker now has a construction permit for channel 14 in Bath. The CP, granted in late April, calls for 1 megawatt of visual ERP at 318 meters above average terrain, using a tower in Savona. Bath is in the Elmira/Corning TV market, and the new channel 14 will join commercial WETM-TV (NBC), WENY-TV (ABC) and WYDC-TV (Fox) there. (NERW notes: many of these recently-granted CPs are bypassing analog television completely and signing on as DTV-only facilities, depending on cable carriage to reach most viewers.)
  • In CANADA, Pat Marsden is out as morning host at CJCL (Fan 590) in Toronto, where he'd been on thin ice ever since making what was perceived as an anti-Arab comment earlier this spring. Marsden was dismissed after his show last Friday. He'd been at the Fan for eight years.
  • Around the Golden Horseshoe, Hamilton's CHCH-TV (Channel 11) turns 50 on June 7. Canada's first independent commercial TV station, now owned by Global, will mark the occasion with a special that night. (And congratulations to Hamilton's CIWV 94.7, as well, which just increased its power from 3600 to 11,390 watts and raised its antenna, significantly improving its signal toward Toronto.)

May 28, 1999 -

  • One of the nation's fastest-growing minority-owned broadcasters is entering MASSACHUSETTS. From its base in Washington, D.C., Radio One has been branching out into markets such as Detroit and Cleveland. This week, it agreed to pay KJI Broadcasting $10 million for WCAV (97.7) in Brockton. While it's pretty much a given that WCAV's country format will switch to something with an urban focus once the sale goes through, it's not immediately clear what hope Radio One has of using WCAV to reach Boston's urban community. While the Class A station has a CP to move from the south end of Brockton to the north side, it's still tightly bound by WOKQ (97.5 Dover NH) up the coast and co-channels WINQ Winchendon MA and WCTY Norwich CT, so a massive power upgrade to reach Boston seems unlikely.
  • Radio One, which just recently went public, probably won't stop buying in the Bay State just yet -- and NERW has to wonder if this is the owner the Nash estate would feel comfortable selling WILD to? If not, the little urban daytimer could face its biggest threat yet. This will be an interesting one to follow.
  • Up the coast we go to MAINE, where Cumulus puts a new spin on the problem of over-concentration of group ownership. It seems the company's plan to buy what was left of Mountain Wireless' Skowhegan operation (WSKW 1160 and WHQO 107.9) would have put it over the revenue share the FCC and Justice Department want to see. But rather than spin WHQO off to a commercial operator who might provide competition to Cumulus (and Pilot, which controls the other half of the market, more or less), WHQO will be spun off to Maine Public Radio, which won't have to pay a penny. All sides say the deal will bring public radio to a new audience in Central Maine -- but the NERW-mobile wasn't too far from Skowhegan a year ago when we were able to tune in all six of the existing MPR stations. At once. Meantime, fans of WSKW's sports format will still be able to hear it on FM as well once WHQO is spun off; it's already being relayed on Cumulus' WIGY (97.5 Madison). (2009 update: the transfer never took place.)
  • A new radio station is on the air in VERMONT. John Bulmer's WRRO (93.7 Addison) has been heard with classic rock as "the Arrow." Meantime, the 100.9 in Middlebury, which used to run the same format and slogan, has changed calls from WGTK to WWFY, which were the calls on the 93.7 CP until a few weeks ago. WWFY's new format is contemporary hits as ``Y-100''.
  • There's a TV affiliation swap in Burlington, as Fox affiliate WFFF (Channel 44) adds a secondary WB affiliation, with WB shows running at 10 PM after Fox is over for the night. Former WB outlet WBVT-LP (Channel 39) moves to UPN, while ex-UPN outlet WWBI-LP (Channel 27) in Plattsburgh goes independent. Could WFFF be making backup plans if the simmering battle between Fox and its affiliates over compensation erupts into full-fledged rebellion?
  • Topping the NEW YORK news this week is the sale of WMHQ (Channel 45) in Schenectady -- again. Tribune will pay $18.5 million for the Capital District's secondary PBS station, converting it into a WB affiliate. You'll recall that Sinclair offered $23 million for the station last year, withdrawing the offer after running into its own financial difficulties. WMHT will use the money from the WMHQ sale to build its new studios and offices for the remaining services it operates (WMHT-TV and FM), while WMHQ will likely end up being operated mostly from Tribune's WPIX New York (much as Paramount is doing with its UPN stations in New Bedford/Providence and Pittsburgh).
  • One note from CANADA this week: While in Buffalo today, we hit "scan" on the NERW-mobile radio and found it coming to a stop on 91.7 -- the new FM home of CHOW (1470) from Welland, Ontario. The 25 kW signal is quite good in Buffalo and environs, but it's not using the familiar "See-How" IDs from the AM side. Instead, it's "Spirit Radio," albeit still with country music and Broadcast News on the hour. The AM signal is still on the air for a few months with a simulcast, but we expect the towers on Regional Road 58 to go away by winter. As a result of the new FM signal, Niagara Falls tourist radio CFLZ has finally left its original 91.9 spot for 105.1, where it's sounding pretty cheesy with almost-nonstop promotion for Casino Niagara and very poor audio. The signal from the Skylon tower is still very good, though -- strong enough to stop the scan as we climbed the hills south of Buffalo heading for Springville.

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