June 8, 2009
Analog TV: The Final Week
LAST DAY OF ANALOG UPDATE: The
end of the digital conversion is wrapping up with about as much
confusion as the rest of the process, with some last-minute additions
(under heavy FCC pressure) to the "nightlight" list
and many changes to scheduled shutdown times to comply with FCC
rules about call-center hours and such.
Here are the updates we've been able to piece together in
the last hours of analog:
In Buffalo, WGRZ (Channel 2) will go nightlight rather than
going dark on Friday at 1 PM, with its nightlight authority extending
through June 27. WNYO-TV (Channel 49), meanwhile, has been granted
a CP to put WNYO-DT on channel 49 come Friday, and will make
that switch at 11 AM.
In Rochester, WXXI-TV (Channel 21) will go to nightlight at
In Syracuse, WSTM-DT's move to channel 24 has apparently been
delayed, so when WSTM-TV leaves channel 3 at 12:01 AM Friday,
Syracuse will have no over-the-air NBC or CW until sometime Sunday.
WTVH (Channel 5) goes off at 9 AM, while WSYR-TV (Channel 9)
goes off at 12:01 AM and WCNY-TV (Channel 24) at 1 AM.
Watertown's WWTI (Channel 50) goes off at 11:59 PM Friday;
there's still no word about Albany sign-off times.
Some late information about New York City sign-off times on
Friday: WNBC (Channel 4), WABC-TV (Channel 7), WPIX (Channel
11), WNET (Channel 13) and WLIW (Channel 21) all go off at 12:30
PM, with WABC-DT, WPIX-DT and WNET-DT all immediately flash-cutting
to digital on those channels. WPIX-DT on channel 33 is slated
to stay on until 1 PM, which is also when WCBS-DT leaves channel
56. At 1:30 PM, WCBS-DT signs on channel 33, and at 2 PM, WCBS-TV
goes nightlight on channel 2. (WNBC will also do nightlight on
WNYW-TV (Channel 5) and WWOR (Channel 9) plan to stay on until
11:59 PM, as will WXTV (Channel 41).
In Hartford, add WFSB (Channel 3) to the nightlight list;
it will stay on in analog until June 26.
In Boston, the flips to nightlight start at 11:59 AM (WGBH-TV
2), followed at 12:30 PM by WBZ-TV (4) and at 12:59 PM by WCVB
(5). WSBK (Channel 38) signs off at 1 PM, and WLVI (Channel 56)
and WHDH-TV (Channel 7) hang on until 11:59 PM.
In Portland, WCSH (Channel 6) is a late addition to the nightlight
list, operating through June 27.
In Pittsburgh, KDKA-TV (Channel 2) and WTAE (Channel 4) will
both go nightlight Friday.
In Philadelphia, KYW-TV (Channel 3) goes nightlight at 12:30
PM, when sister station WPSG (Channel 57) goes off. Most of the
market's other remaining stations sign off between noon and 2
PM, we're told.
We'll have more coverage late Friday on Tower Site of the
Week, and next Monday on NERW...
*It's been more than a decade in the making,
turned into a political football and delayed repeatedly, but
starting late this Thursday night, one of the biggest transitions
in the history of U.S. broadcasting will finally come to fruition,
as the remaining full-power analog TV signals begin to blink
off all across the country, with the last of them going dark
at the stroke of midnight late Friday night.
According to a list released last week by the FCC, some three
dozen small stations around the country won't be coming along
for the ride, at least not right away. Those stations will still
have to turn off their analog signals by the June 12 deadline,
but because their DTV signals aren't up and running - either
for financial or technical reasons - they'll be off the air completely,
at least temporarily.
(Thanks to Chris
Pickett for contributing this week's graphic!)
In our region, there are three such stations, all of them
in NEW YORK. Downstate, Long Island's WLNY turned off
its analog Channel 55 transmitter back in 2005 to make way for
Qualcomm's MediaFLO service, which uses that same spectrum. WLNY-DT
has been operating on channel 57, but that's outside the "core"
spectrum on channels 2-51 that will remain in TV use, so WLNY
will fall briefly silent until it can move WLNY-DT to channel
47, which is being vacated by the analog service of Telemundo
outlet WNJU in the New York market. (Most of WLNY's viewers see
the station on cable and satellite, and it will remain available
to them in the interim.)
Upstate, there are two stations in somewhat more dire straits.
Syracuse-market WNYI, licensed to Ithaca, and Buffalo-market
WNGS, licensed to Springville, have no digital signals ready
to go come Friday. Both stations were part of the now-bankrupt
Equity Communications, which was running Univision programming
on WNYI and had most recently been carrying the new "This
TV" service on WNGS.
Both WNYI and WNGS had analog channels that were outside the
new core - 52 for WNYI, 67 for WNGS - and both had few, if any,
over-the-air viewers to those low-power signals broadcasting
from well outside the population centers of their markets, depending
instead on cable carriage that will presumably continue, at least
for a while. (Indeed, several recent visits to Ithaca over the
past year have found no sign of even the low-power analog WNYI
signal on the air.)
But the June 12 sunset of analog TV will start the clock running
for Daystar TV, which has agreed to purchase both WNYI and WNGS
from Equity's bankruptcy trustee. Whenever the deal closes, Daystar
will only have until July 11, 2010 to get digital signals (on
channel 20 for WNYI, channel 7 for WNGS) built and operating.
We'll run down the status of digital stations across the markets
we cover later in this week's issue, but first, there's another
big TV story in upstate New York:
*After years of struggling to break out of its longtime role
as an also-ran in the Binghamton market, Newport Television's
WIVT (Channel 34)/WBGH-CA (Channel 20) has effectively thrown
in the towel on local news, leaving broadcast viewers in Binghamton
with just one full-time local news option.
On Friday afternoon,
Newport announced that it was replacing WIVT's local newscasts,
which were already limited to a morning show, a 5:30-6:30 PM
hour and a short update at 11 PM, with simulcasts of the news
from sister station WETM (Channel 18) in Elmira, 50 miles (and
a separate TV market) to the west. Eleven employees, including
veteran anchor Steve Craig, lost their jobs, and the WIVT newsroom
at the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City will be closed, leaving only
a skeleton staff (including, for now, anchor Peter Quinn and
news director Jim Ehmke) back at WIVT's studio/transmitter facility
on Ingraham Hill.
Some history here: Channel 34, an also-ran in local news through
most of its existence as WBJA and WMGC, dramatically expanded
the size and professionalism of its news operation in the late
1990s, seeking to capitalize on the flip of the market's longtime
number-two station, NBC affiliate WICZ (Channel 40), to Fox.
While WICZ cut its news presence back to a daily half-hour at
10 PM, new owner Ackerley expanded WIVT's newscasts to mornings
and beefed up its staffing for evenings, and for a time WIVT
challenged perennial market dominator WBNG (Channel 12) in the
quality of its coverage, if not in ratings or revenue.
More recently, Ackerley's successors have cut back again on
WIVT's news product, effectively ceding news dominance in the
market to Granite-owned WBNG even as Granite budget cutbacks
have weakened WBNG's own product. (Recall, if you will, the immigration-center
shootings earlier this spring, the biggest news story in recent
Binghamton history, and one on which none of the Binghamton TV
newsrooms really rose to the occasion.)
Through all those years, though, channel 34 has always provided
at least some semblance of a local Binghamton newscast - right
up until 6 o'clock last Friday evening, when whatever Binghamton
viewers were still looking for local news on WIVT or WBGH saw
WETM's news from Elmira, a newscast that station says will continue
to be focused on the Elmira market - "Chemung, Steuben and
Schuyler counties in New York and Tioga County, Pa," according
to WETM general manager Randy Reid.
It's hard to imagine that many Binghamton viewers will have
much interest in Elmira news (indeed, WETM's news was simulcast
in Binghamton once before, when WBGH took over as the market's
NBC affiliate back in 1995, with no measurable ratings), and
easy to imagine that even the limited amount of Binghamton news
presence being sent back to WETM from Ingraham Hill will eventually
WIVT's exit from the news scene leaves WBNG as the only local
news in mornings, middays and early evenings, with WICZ's 10
PM newscast largely a non-factor in the market. Even with Time
Warner's News 10 Now providing some competition for viewers in
this heavily-cabled market, it's still a disturbingly small amount
of choice for local news, putting Binghamton into the same "one-newsroom
city" category as nearby Utica and Watertown, and we're
sorry to see it happen.
*One more Binghamton note: the broadcast newsroom that did
shine with its coverage of the April shootings was a radio
newsroom, Citadel's WNBF (1290) - and the newsroom's hard-working
star of the day, veteran reporter/anchor Bob Joseph, will be
honored (and deservingly so) with a special achievement award
at the Binghamton Broadcasters Reunion in September.
In Albany, Newport is growing its news product, adding an
11 PM newscast to its existing hour-long 10 PM news on Fox affiliate
WXXA (Channel 23), beginning June 29. But those Newport employees
there - and at the company's other stations in Syracuse, Rochester,
Watertown and Harrisburg - will be working a little harder for
less, since the company is also imposing mandatory unpaid two-week
furloughs as it tries to make up for what it says are severe
revenue declines across the board.
*Back to radio: There's a rare opening for a night jock at
New York's Z100 (WHTZ 100.3 Newark NJ), now that Billy the Kidd
is returning to Dallas for what are described as "family
reasons." He'd been tracking his show for Dallas' KHKS from
New York, and he'll track the night show for Z100 from Dallas
until a replacement is named.
the street at Emmis' WRXP (101.9), Matt Pinfield is back in the
morning-drive chair after taking a month off for rehab for substance
Scranton's Shamrock Broadcasting has moved its new 107.1 construction
permit from Livingston Manor to Hancock, New York - and now it
has new calls, too, as "WJZI" becomes "WBZX."
Suppose it's going to be a simulcast of "Rock 107"
WEZX in Scranton?
Here in Rochester, we're told that the last of the Clear Channel
stations left the cluster's longtime home in now-completely-vacant
Midtown Plaza last week, with the entire cluster now settling
in across Chestnut Street at the HSBC Plaza building that used
to house CBS Radio, and then the Stephens Media stations.
Former WRRV (92.7 Middletown)/WRRB (96.9 Poughkeepsie) morning
co-host Jennifer Coudrey has died. Coudrey, then known as Jen
King, co-hosted "Music all Morning with Boris and Jen"
from 2001-2004, then left the station to become a physical therapist.
While at WRRV, she was diagnosed with a form of cancer known
as soft-tissue sarcoma, the disease which claimed her life on
One more belated obituary: Al Racco, who died May 20 at age
80, moved up within the ABC Radio executive ranks to become vice
president and general manager of WABC (770) in 1975, presiding
over the station's last years as "Musicradio 77" and
the controversial - but ultimately very successful - transition
to talk in 1982.
DTV Status Update: Only
one New York TV market, Watertown, had substantially ended analog
broadcasting back in February, leaving just ABC affiliate WWTI
(Channel 50) on the air through Friday. Utica followed suit in
March, when WUTR (Channel 20) and WFXV (Channel 33) shut off
their analog signals, leaving the market all-digital. In Elmira,
WENY-TV (Channel 36) ended its analog broadcasts May 30, flash-cutting
to digital on channel 36. (The new WENY-DT offers ABC on 36.1
and CBS on 36.2, the first time that network has had over-the-air
coverage in Elmira.) In Binghamton, only ABC affiliate WIVT (Channel
34) and PBS outlet WSKG (Channel 46) are sticking it out through
In the state's bigger markets, though, most major stations
have kept analog going until the very end. In Buffalo, WIVB (Channel
4) and WNLO (Channel 23) will sign off at 9 AM Friday, followed
at 1 PM by WGRZ (Channel 2) and at some point in the day by WKBW
(Channel 7) and WPXJ (Channel 51). WNYO-TV (Channel 49) will
run right up till midnight on Friday; it's hoping the FCC grants
it last-minute approval to go digital on channel 49 instead of
continuing on its weaker channel 34 DTV allotment.
Here in Rochester, WHEC-TV (Channel 10) and WHAM-TV (Channel
13) will make their flash-cuts to VHF digital operation overnight,
signing their analogs off at about 1:35 Friday morning. WXXI-TV
(Channel 21) goes into "nightlight" mode for a month,
starting at 11:30 PM Friday, and the market's oldest TV station,
WROC-TV (Channel 8) will be the last in analog, signing off at
the end of its late newscast at 11:35 PM. (You bet we'll be there
to chronicle the moment...)
In Syracuse, WSTM-DT (Channel 54) goes off the air tomorrow
so that its transmitter can be modified to operate on channel
24, once WCNY's analog signal vacates that channel Friday. It's
not yet clear when WTVH (Channel 5) or WSYR-TV (Channel 9) will
pull the plug on their analog signals.
We don't have shutdown times yet for the Albany market, and
only a few for New York City, where Fox's WNYW (Channel 5) and
WWOR (Channel 9) and Telemundo's WNJU (Channel 47) will stick
it out right up to the stroke of midnight Friday night, while
WABC (Channel 7) goes off at 12:30 PM Friday. NBC's WNBC (Channel
4) and public stations WNET (Channel 13) and WLIW (Channel 21)
will sign off at some point Friday afternoon.
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*RHODE ISLAND's ABC affiliate has
lost several of its most popular syndicated shows. Global Broadcasting's
WLNE (Channel 6) announced Friday that the station has "suspended
its programming agreement with King World," removing "Dr.
Phil," "Entertainment Tonight" and "Inside
Edition" from the station - but we hear that the suspension
actually came from the King World end, as WLNE's ongoing financial
struggles have reportedly rendered the station unable to keep
paying for the shows.
In place of "Dr.
Phil" at 5, WLNE will carry "Cristina's Court"
and "Family Court," while "ET" and "Inside
Edition" at 7 and 7:30 will be replaced by a new 7 PM local
newscast, the market's first, followed by "Who Wants to
be a Millionaire?" at 7:30.
With Providence among the most battered TV markets nationally
when it comes to revenue slumps from the economic downturn, many
in the market are wondering how long WLNE can sustain its third-place
local news operation, and what might happen to the station if
its financial woes grow worse. (At least it hasn't been paying
to keep two transmitters going; the entire Providence market
went digital-only back in February.)
*Former WHDH-TV (Channel 7) anchor Randy
Price returns to the eastern MASSACHUSETTS TV airwaves
today - across town at WCVB (Channel 5), where he takes over
from David Brown as anchor of the station's morning "EyeOpener"
newscast. Brown will stay with WCVB as a reporter and fill-in
anchor, and he'll be doing some weather forecasting and reporting
as well, returning to his original role there.
Here's a healthy price for an FM translator: Kingdom Church
Inc. is paying Horizon Christian Fellowship $70,000 for W244CF
(96.7 Plymouth). Kingdom recently bought Brockton's WMSX (1410),
and we suspect W244CF will be making a move in that direction
(presumably on a different frequency) before long.
DTV Status Update: Three Boston VHF stations - WGBH
(Channel 2), WBZ (Channel 4) and WCVB (Channel 5) - will apparently
all be staying on with a "nightlight" loop after ending
regular analog programming around noon on Friday. WBZ's sister
station WSBK (Channel 38) will also end its analog existence
during the noon hour. That leaves WHDH (Channel 7)/WLVI (Channel
56), WUNI (Channel 27)/WUTF (Channel 66) and New Hampshire's
WMUR (Channel 9) on the air in analog up until a second before
midnight, though we wonder if channels 7 and 9 might go a little
earlier to make sure their flash-cuts to on-channel digital operation
Out west, Springfield is already digital-only.
*Alfred Alonso and Charles Hecht have sold
their about-to-expire AM construction permit in the Burlington,
VERMONT market. The CP due to expire in August for WVVT
(670 Essex Junction) called for 50 kW days, 20 kW critical hours
and 300 watts at night from the WCAT (1390 Burlington) towers
in the city's Intervale neighborhood, but WVVT also has a pending
application to move south to the Albany, New York market, running
15 kW by day and 260 watts at night from a new city of license
of East Greenbush, NY.
The new permittees, Hilda Gallant and Paul Salas of West Caldwell,
New Jersey, will pay Hecht and Alonso just $1 for the CP, and
because they qualify for "small business" status they'll
get an extra 18 months - until January 11 - to see if they can
get the new station built and on the air.
(No DTV status update here: the entire Burlington market went
all-digital back in February.)
*There's a new signal coming to southern
NEW HAMPSHIRE: UMass Boston's WUMB-FM (91.9 Boston) has
been granted a construction permit for 88.7 in Milford, where
it will run 240 watts DA/259' from a site near Wilton.
*In MAINE, Terry Cole is leaving his
post as general manager of Sinclair's Portland CBS affiliate,
WGME (Channel 13), to take the same job with Sinclair's pair
of stations in Pensacola, Florida, where he'll oversee ABC affiliate
WEAR (Channel 3) and My Network affiliate WFGX (Channel 35).
No replacement has been named yet at WGME.
DTV Status Update: The
transition is already well underway in the Pine Tree State, where
all of the MPBN public TV stations have already gone digital-only,
as have Bangor ABC affiliate WVII (Channel 7) and all but two
Portland stations - NBC affiliate WCSH (Channel 6) and ABC affiliate
WMTW (Channel 8).
*Retro TV, formerly known as RTN, is getting
a toehold in the New York TV market, thanks to a heretofore-obscure
CONNECTICUT-based UHF station. Multicultural Broadcasting's
WSAH-DT (Channel 43/RF42) in Bridgeport will pick up RTV's programming
effective July 1. The station has a pending application to move
its digital transmitter from Seymour, Connecticut to the Empire
DTV Status Update: Most
of the Hartford-New Haven market remains on the air in analog
right up to Friday; no word yet on signoff times for those stations.
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call change in NEW JERSEY: the former WXKW (97.3 Millville)
has become WENJ-FM, now that it's sharing ESPN Radio programming
with sister station WENJ (1450 Atlantic City).
Moving north, Matt Knight has been promoted from assistant
PD to PD at "Hits 106" (WHTG-FM 106.3 Eatontown/WBBO
106.5 Bass River Township), where he's been part of the station's
staff since its debut.
*In western PENNSYLVANIA, a Pittsburgh
morning show is adding a night shift: morning hosts John Cline
and Kerri Griffith will be doing 7-10 PM on WLTJ (92.9), tracking
new material that will air on what's being called "The Q
Morning Show: PM."
A call change west of Scranton: WEMR (1460 Tunkhannock) has
dropped the only calls it's ever had (they stood for "Endless
Mountains Radio") to become WGMF, matching sister station
WGMF-FM (107.7), which has changed city of license from Tunkhannock
And a new station will come to the airwaves in the Altoona
area this week: Radio Maria is preparing to turn on WHHN (88.1
Hollidaysburg), which will relay its Louisiana-based Catholic
DTV Status Update: The
Erie market goes all-digital today, when the last remaining analog
station, WICU (Channel 12), pulls the plug to get ready to get
its new channel 12 digital signal up and running by Friday. The
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market has also been chugging along with
just one analog signal since February, and WNEP (Channel 16)
will finally get to turn off that analog transmitter Friday.
Most of the analog signals in the Philadelphia and Harrisburg
markets are staying on through Friday night; we'll post exact
shutdown times as we find them, so stay tuned for an update later
Johnstown and Altoona are down to just two remaining analogs
- WJAC (6) and WTAJ (10), and they'll be gone sometime Friday.
In Pittsburgh, KDKA (2), WTAE (4), WPXI (11) and WPCW (19) are
the only analogs left, and PBRTV.com reports they'll all stay
on right up to midnight Friday, when channels 2 and 4 will go
to nightlight service and WPCW-DT will sign on on channel 11.
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*Friday afternoon brought a high-profile
format change in CANADA's biggest market: just one day
past the sixth anniversary of its 2003 flip from "Kiss"
to "Jack FM," CJAQ (92.5 Toronto) returned to its old
"Kiss" branding and top-40 format at the stroke of
its end, Toronto's "Jack" had evolved significantly
from the early days of the adult hits format, with live jocks
in most dayparts and a musical lean toward classic rock. The
new "Kiss" is apparently launching jockless, but a
new talent roster for the Rogers station is expected to be announced
*The CRTC has completed its review of more than a dozen applications
for new FM signals in Ontario's "Cottage Country,"
and it's decided to grant a new station in Orillia, but not in
the Bracebridge/Gravenhurst area.
In Orillia, seven applicants wanted new stations on 89.1,
and the winner was Owen Sound-based Bayshore Broadcasting, which
gets a 2100-watt signal that it will program with an AC format
as "Sunshine 89.1."
Bayshore was one of a half-dozen applicants for either 101.7
or 102.3 in Bracebridge or Gravenhurst, but the CRTC decided
that small market can't sustain a competitor to Halliburton's
CFBG. The CRTC did grant licenses for new low-power travelers
information stations in both areas: Jack McGaw's Instant Information
Systems gets 101.9 in Gravenhurst (to be CIIG) and 98.5 in Orillia
While we're running down new calls, Dan Sys' Canadian Radio
News reports that My Broadcasting's new 100.9 in Brighton, Ontario
will be CIYM, Five Amigos' new 99.1 in Wallaceburg, Ontario will
be CKWD and the new 100.7 in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia will be
The Cottage Country applications also included one for a power
increase at CFBK (105.5 Huntsville), which gets to go from 5
kW to 43.4 kW.
*Why did Rob Farina leave his position as VP/programming for
CTVglobemedia's CHUM Radio group? Turns out his new position
with competitor Astral Media is VP/GM of the group's Toronto
cluster, the job last held by Pat Holiday. Along with Farina's
arrival, there are some other leadership changes at the group:
Martin Tremblay moves from PD of CJEZ (EZ Rock 97.3) to CKFM
(Virgin Radio 99.9), opening a hole for a new PD at CJEZ.
In Hamilton, they're remembering Randy Steele, whose feature
reports were a highlight of the newscasts on CHCH-TV (Channel
11) beginning in 1995. Steele succumbed to throat cancer May
22 after a long battle; he was 47.
*And finally this week...we can't leave you without a few
words about the sudden demise of Radio & Records,
the bible of the industry for much of its 36-year existence.
A personal confession: having come up through the ranks of
the news side of the radio business, R&R was never
as essential a part of your editor's own radio life as it was
for so many on the music side of the aisle. What's more, the
start of my own journey through radio coincided closely with
the nascent years of what would become the internet. (It's remarkable
to consider that at 15 years and counting, NERW, one of the oldest
electronic-only industry publications, has already been around
nearly half as long as R&R survived.)
It's easy to identify the causes for R&R's shutdown
- fewer stations making music and programming decisions at the
local level, leading to fewer subscribers and advertisers, exacerbated
by the rise of newer options (most notably AllAccess.com) that
understood the power of the web much better than R&R ever
did. It may even be that there was no way to save what was once
an indispensable industry institution, especially after it had
become part of a larger conglomerate that didn't understand what
had once made the publication unique. (Hello, Broadcasting
But for anyone who puts any value at all on accurate, intelligently-reported
news about what's left of the broadcasting industry, the loss
of R&R is still an unfortunate blow. As the business
struggles to reinvent itself, it needs all the sources of information
it can get - and that means that those information sources (present
company included) need all the support they can get from readers
and advertisers to stay afloat.
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 LARadio.com
for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support
that's made all these years of NERW possible!)
June 9, 2008 -
- CANADA's second-largest market is about to lose its second-largest
English-language commercial news-talk station. Corus' CINW (940
Montreal) has failed to make a dent in the ratings pretty much
from its first day on the air back in 1999, when the former CIQC
(600) relocated up the dial to the frequency formerly occupied
by the CBC's CBM. The station launched as an all-news outlet,
"940 News," in parallel to French-language CINF (690),
but while the vibrant Francophone market supported an all-news
entrant, Montreal's declining Anglo population remained locked
to Standard's CJAD (800) and to the CBC.
- Even after the all-news format gave way to a mix of news
and talk as "940 Montreal," ratings and revenues failed
to improve, and late on Friday Corus Quebec VP Mario Cecchini
took to the airwaves to announce that, effective June 14, CINW
will flip to oldies as "AM 940 - Montreal's Greatest Hits."
The move will put 18 people out of work at Corus.
- A veteran MASSACHUSETTS TV reporter is the latest departure
from what's become a fast-spinning revolving door at CBS' WBZ-TV
(Channel 4) in Boston. Joe Bergantino, who's been the head of
the station's "I-Team" investigative unit for most
of his 22-year tenure there (in two stretches, one in the early
eighties and again since 1991), took a buyout and departed at
the end of May, two months after his I-Team producer was cut
as part of the massive nationwide staffing reductions at CBS'
owned-and-operated TV stations. Among Bergantino's accomplishments
during his time at WBZ was breaking the first of the stories
in the priest abuse scandal that tarnished the Boston archdiocese.
It's not clear whether WBZ-TV will continue the I-Team with another
reporter at the helm, nor does Bergantino have any immediate
plans, though we're sure we haven't seen the last of him. (He's
married to Candy Altman, vice president of news for Hearst-Argyle,
which just happens to own WCVB, where his skills would make a
- The end of May also brought farewells for two other WBZ veterans,
arts reporter Joyce Kulhawik and anchor Scott Wahle, whose last
assignment was on the 9 PM newscast WBZ produces for sister station
WSBK (Channel 38).
- There's a format change of sorts in NEW JERSEY: As of Friday,
Equity Communications has flipped its rhythmic top 40 "Buzz"
WZBZ (99.3 Pleasantville)/WSNQ (105.5 Cape May Court House) to
mainstream top 40 as "99.3 Kiss FM." What gives? With
Paul Kelly having just departed as PD of Equity's hot-AC-verging-on-mainstream-top-40
WAYV (95.1 Atlantic City), there's speculation that Equity is
trying to block Kelly from launching an all-out top-40 war at
his new home as one of the partners in the Atlantic group that's
buying the former Access.1 stations in the market.
June 7, 2004 -
- In MAINE, WGAN (560) lost morning show co-host Mike McCardell
on Friday night (June 4). McCardell, a devoted Civil War buff,
was attending a battle re-enactment in Pennsylvania when he suffered
a fatal heart attack. McCardell came to WGAN's attention four
years ago, when he was working as a salesman and calling in on
a regular basis to the station's morning show. When WGAN needed
a new host to replace Willy Ritch, they tapped McCardell based
on his engaging call-ins, and he quickly became a fixture on
the morning show, first with Jim Crocker and more recently with
Ken Altschuler. He was just 52, and leaves behind a wife and
- PENNSYLVANIA lost one of its legendary rock DJs on Friday
as well, when Joe Niagara lost his battle with bladder cancer
at the age of 76. Niagara was on WIBG (990 Philadelphia) in the
mid-fifties when he became one of the first jocks to play rock
and roll for a mass audience. The "Rockin' Bird" stayed
with WIBG until 1959, later working at WFIL, WCAU, WCAU-FM, WIFI
and WDAS. In 1977, he joined the staff of WPEN (950), where he
remained until his retirement in 1999 (and continued doing some
guest DJ appearances as late as 2002.) Niagara made it into the
Guinness Book of World Records in 1980 for playing the most consecutive
versions of "Stardust" on WPEN - more than 500!
- Across town, another legendary Philly jock is hanging up
his headphones at the end of the week. Don Cannon will retire
from the morning slot on WOGL (98.1) on June 11, wrapping up
14 years at the oldies station (and a career that's also included
stints at WIBG, WIP, WFIL, WIFI and WSNI.)
- In RHODE ISLAND, WADK (1540 Newport) is trying again to get
night power. The FCC dismissed its application for 20 kilowatts
at night last month, saying it contained unacceptable overlap
with WDCD (1540 Albany) and KXEL (1540 Waterloo IA), and now
WADK has amended the application to call for 5 kilowatts from
three towers (including the one tower now used for WADK's one
kilowatt of day power.) At 5 kW of night power, WADK won't even
cover all of the city of Newport with its nighttime interference-free
signal - it takes a whopping 95 mV/m of signal to overcome the
huge signal that WDCD throws at Rhode Island.
- The fallout from Mel Karmazin's departure at Infinity Radio
is being felt in MASSACHUSETTS, where WBCN (104.1 Boston) PD
Oedipus announced last week that he's leaving his job after an
amazing 22-year run. Oedipus came to Boston in 1975 as a DJ at
MIT's WTBS (88.1), moved over to WBCN as a part-time DJ in 1977,
and four years later was programming the station. After seeing
WBCN through the long ride from progressive rocker to establishment
album rocker to modern rock, Oedipus will finally hand over the
reins (though no replacement has been announced yet.) He'll stay
on as Infinity's VP/alternative programming.
June 4, 1999 -
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- Just a month after the CBC turned off its AM transmitter
in Montreal, the end is nigh for CBL (740) in Toronto. IRCA's
AM DX Newsflash reports the CBC will shut down the AM transmitter
Saturday, June 19, 14 months after replacement FM transmitter
CBLA (99.1) was activated. As with the shutdown of CBM in Montreal,
the end of CBL will deprive many US communities of CBC service.
While Buffalo and Niagara Falls can hear CBLA and its Crystal
Beach relay transmitter at 90.5, the FM signals are blocked by
co-channel and adjacent-channel US stations across the rest of
Western and Central New York, areas where CBL has been nearly
a local station for now.
- NERW will sorely miss the intelligence, humor, and international
perspective a CBC outlet can bring to an otherwise mega-opoly
plagued radio dial like Rochester's. We're waiting to see what
the CRTC does with the 740 frequency. Unlike Montreal's 690 and
940, which had several applicants lined up even before CBF and
CBM went silent, no application window for 740 has been opened
yet. We plan to head north in the NERW-mobile to hear the end
of CBL in a few weeks. If all goes according to precedent, programming
on Friday, June 18 will be interrupted every ten minutes by announcements
telling listeners to move to FM. At midnight, programming will
be replaced with a repeating ten-second loop, with the transmitter
going dead for good 24 hours later.
- Congratulations to Steve LeVeille, who's been named to succeed
Bob Raleigh as midnight-5 AM host on WBZ (1030 Boston). The LeVeille
Broadcast will be heard Sunday through Thursday nights (or is
that Monday through Friday mornings?) beginning next week. No
word yet on who'll fill the other big talk opening at WBZ, the
10-midnight slot being opened by David Brudnoy's decision to
cut back his hours on the air. As for LeVeille's current Friday
night overnight spot, NERW hears Jordan Rich is likely to add
that overnight to the rest of his 'BZ weekend duties. LeVeille
says the new weekday "Broadcast" will be more issue-oriented
than the Friday-night version, but he promises "a very different
approach" from other talk hosts -- a promise NERW's sure
he'll live up to.
- In CONNECTICUT, there are all sorts of changes to report
in and around New Haven, and we'll start on the radio side, where
much of the local programming on WAVZ (1300) is being pulled
by corporate owner Clear Channel in an attempt to make room in
the budget to add Rush Limbaugh to sister station WELI (960).
Among the victims of the budget axe is Ron Rohmer, 68, who has
spent more than four decades at WAVZ and WELI. He was fired from
WELI a few years ago, sued Clear Channel, and ended up coming
back to the stations as WAVZ morning host -- at least until this
week, when the New Haven Register reports he was fired by PD
Jerry Kristafer. Also out the door at Radio Towers Park is WELI
mid-morning co-host Roger Vann, who resigned Wednesday rather
than let the station cut his salary and that of co-host Tom Scott.
Scott was only a part-time employee, and tells the Register he
wants to pursue syndication opportunities with Clear Channel.
Rohmer's WAVZ morning show will be replaced with satellite programming,
while Limbaugh will start June 14 on WELI, pushing Dr. Laura
Schlessinger's program to 3-6 PM, displacing afternoon host Tad
Baldwin, whose future with WELI is uncertain.
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2009 by Scott Fybush.