August 17, 2009
Sports Hub Swings Into Action
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*There was a common thread to a lot of the commentary
about the big radio changes last week in MASSACHUSETTS:
if CBS Radio's WBCN (104.1 Boston) had sounded all along the
way it did in its final days, wrapped in a powerful web of nostalgia
for 41 years of rock radio, it might still be thriving, rather
than relegated to an HD-2 subchannel on the station's successor,
"Sports Hub" WBZ-FM (98.5 Boston).
It's true that the last gasp of WBCN was great radio, as jocks
from throughout the station's long and storied history returned
to say goodbye, even if the moment was marred a bit by the curious
decision by CBS management to bar even the mention of the name
of one of the station's most important personalities, longtime
afternoon jock Mark Parenteau, whose career-ending legal issues
came long after he'd departed Boston.
In a week full of manufactured nostalgia for the 40th anniversary
of Woodstock, though, the farewell to a station that predated
that festival by a year felt both more genuine and more heartfelt,
especially in the final hours of WBCN's four-day retrospective.
As the clock neared midnight on Tuesday (Aug. 13), WBCN went
out in about as eclectic a way as possible, ending with Frank
Sinatra's "That's Life," followed by Cream's "I
Feel Free" (the first song played on WBCN as a rock station
back in 1968) and then by Pink Floyd's "Shine On (You Crazy
Diamond)," which gave way to a montage of WBCN IDs, followed
by two hours of simulated static and then the launch of the new
"Mix 104," WBMX.
And what was that in between Sinatra and Cream? One last stopset
- a reminder that this is first, last and always about business,
and that the cost of running a station like the "old"
WBCN is probably more than any commercial broadcaster could bear
then, to the future, which came a day and a half after WBCN gave
way to "Mix" on 104.1. By Wednesday morning, WBMX's
old home on 98.5 was broadcasting a loop reminding Mix listeners
to head up the dial, and Thursday morning brought a soft launch
of the "Sports Hub," as WBZ-FM debuted with encores
of several of the Patriots' recent Super Bowl wins, leading into
the station's official debut with the Pats' first pre-season
game that afternoon.
Here's how the new station's lineup shapes up: in addition
to former WBCN morning jocks Toucher and Rich handling wakeup
duties, WBZ-FM features Gary Tanguay of Comcast SportsNet and
ex-Pats QB Scott Zolak from 10 AM-2 PM, CSN's Michael Felger
and the Globe's Tony Massarotti from 2-6 PM, and Damon
Amendolara, late of Miami's WQAM, from 6-midnight. Sporting News
Radio's syndicated sports talk fills out the overnight and weekend
lineup for now.
Felger, interestingly, can now claim to have worked at all
three of the market's sports stations in just over a year, as
he's bounced from ESPN outlet WAMG (890) to Entercom's WEEI (850)
to the new WBZ-FM, where he's now a key player in what's shaping
up to be a most interesting battle between established behemoth
WEEI and the new "Sports Hub."
*Over at Entercom, there were some distractions from that
fight last week, thanks to WAAF (107.3 Westborough) morning co-host
Anthony "Spaz" Parziale, whose on-air comments about
President Obama prompted the Secret Service to pay the station
a visit. Parziale says he's writing a note of apology to the
president - and hoping to sit down with him for a beer.
*And we're sorry to report the passing of a longtime friend
of this column: Ira Apple, whose long career included stints
as PD of WBZ (1030 Boston) and sister station KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh),
as well as at Baltimore's WBAL. Apple also taught at Emerson
College and worked in sales for CBSI. Most recently, he had been
working with the Traffic Directors Guild of America as its liaison
to state broadcasters associations. Apple suffered a series of
aneurysms last month, and he died August 11 at a hospice in Maryland.
He was 74.
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*While Boston's 104.1 was saying farewell to its
past, a co-channel station in western NEW YORK was turning
back its own format clock. Citadel's WHTT (104.1 Buffalo) went
through a slow transition from oldies to adult contemporary over
the last few years, culminating in the summer of 2007 with a
slogan change to (ironically enough) "Mix 104." But
the station was never able to overtake the market's longtime
AC leader, Entercom's WTSS (Star 102.5) - and last week, WHTT
quietly retired "Mix" in favor of a return to classic
The WHTT on-air lineup remains unchanged for now, including
market veteran Bill Lacy in morning drive and the syndicated
John Tesh at night.
*Downstate, it came as no great surprise late last week when
Mega Media Group filed for bankruptcy. Mega owns "Pulse
87," the dance station that leases the audio carrier of
LPTV station WNYZ-LP (Channel 6) - and it reports that it owes
$3.5 million against assets of just $180,000. Mega says it hopes
to continue operating Pulse while it restructures under Chapter
Out on Long Island,
financial issues are putting the future of WLIU (88.3 Southampton)
in some question. Long Island University announced earlier this
month that its own financial issues will lead it to drop support
for the public radio station in October - and the loss of that
million-dollar annual subsidy, as well as of the station's leased
home on the former Southampton campus of LIU, threatens to take
the station off the air unless a new owner is found.
Fortunately for WLIU, the station has a passionate following
in one of the state's wealthiest areas, and station manager Wallace
Smith is now leading a charge to form a locally-run nonprofit
to take over the WLIU license and move the station to a new location
on the East End.
*Radio (and TV) People on the Move: One of upstate New York's
most prominent public broadcasting voices is changing stations,
as Susan Arbetter departs Albany's WMHT for a new post as news
and public affairs director at WCNY radio and TV in Syracuse.
Arbetter joined WMHT two years ago to produce and host the statewide
"New York Now" public affairs show; before that, she'd
been news director at Albany's WAMC public radio. At WCNY, Arbetter
will be responsible for news coverage on both TV and radio, and
the station says she'll be working on developing a statewide
news service as well.
Down the road at Buffalo's WNED, Pamela Johnson exits as VP
of education and outreach, while senior VP/broadcasting Dick
Daly becomes a senior consultant to president/CEO Donald Boswell.
Chief program officer John Grant takes over some of Daly's operational
responsibilities, while news director James Ranney gets promoted
to station manager of WNED(AM) and director of public affairs.
At New York's WABC (770), news anchor Bruce Anderson is retiring
Sept. 18 after a quarter-century on the air at the station -
and a career that included stops at WHN, WKHK and WBGO before
*And north of Utica, the furor over the new tower site of
EMF Broadcasting's WOKR (93.5 Remsen) seems to have died down.
The FCC sent a letter to area congressman Michael Arcuri that
says it found no unusual radiation levels near the site, and
the neighbors who'd been complaining about mysterious illnesses
that started when WOKR moved there in April say they're feeling
better now. Arcuri is hosting a town hall meeting this afternoon
to discuss any remaining concerns with the station's neighbors.
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*There's a new nickname for Jeff Andrulonis' country
stations in northwestern PENNSYLVANIA and across the state
line in New York as well: "Bob FM" is the new identity
for WLMI (103.9 Kane) and its translators in Bradford and Smethport,
as well as for WBYB (96.7 Portville NY) in the Olean market.
The WLMY calls that briefly resided on 96.7 have resurfaced
- this time on 107.9 in Williamsport, formerly WRVH.
Down in State College, news-talker WRSC moved to the FM dial
August 3, when "QWK Rock" WQWK (103.1 State College)
became WRSC-FM, displacing the long-running rock format to webcast-only
status. Forever Broadcasting is keeping the WQWK calls in town,
parking them on the former WRSC (1390), which continues to simulcast
with the FM.
Radio People on the Move: at Clear Channel's Pittsburgh cluster,
Dennis Lamme is the new president and market manager, taking
over from John Rohm, who'd retained Pittsburgh duties even after
adding Philadelphia to his portfolio. Lamme, best known in the
region for his stint at the helm of Clear Channel Albany, had
been market manager at Clear Channel's St. Louis stations. Down
the hall, Alex Tear is departing as operations director; he's
headed to Miami as OM for Clear Channel's cluster there. And
former Entercom Scranton/Wilkes Barre market manager Phil Hoover
is retiring after 45 years in the business, most recently at
the helm of Entercom's stations in Indianapolis.
In Carlisle, WIOO (1000) has made its addition of an FM translator
official: W250AP (97.9 Carlisle) is now broadcasting WIOO's classic
country format 24 hours a day, even after its daytime AM parent
signs off for the night.
Over in Lebanon, there's an LPFM call change: WOMA-LP (93.1)
becomes WLEB-LP as it changes hands from Spanish-language Radio
Omega to Calvary Chapel of Lebanon - and that means a format
change to Calvary religion, too.
On the TV side of things, there's a new evening newscast in
the Harrisburg-York market, as Tribune's WPMT (Channel 43) adds
a 6:30 show to its existing morning and 10 PM broadcasts.
*NEW JERSEY's talk radio scene is
a little quieter at night of late, now that Millennium's WKXW-FM
(101.5 Trenton) has pulled the plug on the all-night show that
had been hosted by "Tommy G," aka Tom Gordon. With
his exit, "New Jersey 101.5" is now in rerun mode all
night long, with "Best Of" shows replacing the live
talk it had been running.
There's a call change in the Atlantic City market, as WGXM
(88.7 Port Republic) becomes WEHA. The station asked the FCC
for special temporary authority last month to operate without
EAS gear or a public file - it reports that former programmer
Al Thomas absconded with the gear and the files, telling owner
WXXY Broadcasting that he'd only return them if his demands were
met. The police are now involved with the case, and WEHA has
new EAS gear on order.
*A few bits of news from
northern New England: in NEW HAMPSHIRE, Barry Lunderville's
WKDR (1490 Berlin) is now on the air, simulcasting sister station
WXXS (102.3 Lancaster)'s "Kiss FM" AC format; while
in MAINE, there are some new callsigns to report for the
Knights of Columbus' new stations - WTBP (89.7 Bath) and WWTP
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*Our news from CANADA starts in Ottawa,
where the CRTC has again granted new FM licenses to Astral Media
and to Frank Torres, reinstating those grants after they were
revoked by Canada's Privy Council over concerns that the CRTC
had failed to award a new license for the area's Francophone
Now the Radio de la Communaute Francophone d'Ottawa (RCFO)
group is getting a signal as well - it will operate on 94.5,
a frequency suggested by Astral. Both Astral, which will operate
the new "Eve FM" on 99.7, and Torres, who will run
blues-rock "Dawg FM" on 101.9, will provide financial
support for RCFO's new French-language signal on 94.5.
In Montreal, Astral cut a slew of jobs at CJAD (800) last
week. Gone are midday co-host Kevin Holden, whose 2-4 PM slot
is being filled by Dan Laxer while his wife and co-host Trudie
Mason moves to the CJAD newsroom, as well as late-night host
Peter Anthony Holder, weekend talkers Laurie MacDonald, Olga
Gadzovic and Jake Lawrence, and news anchor Kathy Coulombe.
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
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Radio Watch," and didn't go to a regular weekly schedule
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for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support
that's made all these years of NERW possible!)
August 18, 2008 -
- After more than 18 years at the pinnacle of the NEW YORK
sports-talk radio scene, "Mike and the Mad Dog" are
history at WFAN (660).
- Mike Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo spent very
little of the summer working together, separated by alternating
vacations amidst newspaper headlines suggesting increased tension
between the long-running co-hosts. And then, on Thursday, the
memo came out - Francesa had signed a new long-term contract
to stay at WFAN, while Russo was gone from the station that made
- Russo's next career move is unclear right now. While rumors
have him heading for satellite radio - and a noncompete clause
in his contract (which remains in effect) bars him from competitor
WEPN until next spring - the Dog was back on the WFAN airwaves
Friday, calling in to his former show to say goodbye.
- Francesa, meanwhile, becomes the solo star of a show that
thrived on his tension with his former co-host. While there will
new cast members added to the afternoon shift by the time the
show relaunches Sept. 5, Francesa says they won't fill the same
co-host role that Russo did. For now, Francesa's show will continue
to be simulcast on the YES Network (which replayed the Friday
call-in several times).
- The PD chair keeps spinning in PENNSYLVANIA's biggest market:
Rick Vaughn is leaving WIOQ (102.1 Philadelphia) on Sept. 2.
He's heading for Chicago's WKSC (Kiss 103.5), to replace the
departing Rick Gillette.
- In Pittsburgh, market veteran Zak Szabo is the new afternoon
host at Steel City Media's WLTJ (Q92.9).
- The FCC is forcing Nassau to unwind a long-running NEW HAMPSHIRE
JSA - and quickly. The license to what's now WWHK (102.3 Concord)
stayed in the hands of Capitol Broadcasting (aka Vox) when Jeff
Shapiro and Bruce Danziger sold the rest of their cluster to
Nassau back in 2004, and while WWHK has been functioning as part
of Nassau's Concord/Manchester/Nashua cluster ever since, it's
been doing so under a JSA with Capitol. Nassau applied to buy
WWHK outright in 2005, but the FCC dismissed the application,
saying it would put Nassau over the four-FM limit for the Concord
market. Nassau asked the FCC for a waiver, noting that the 102.3
signal had been "home" to the Manchester market at
the time of the transfer application. But the FCC isn't buying
the argument. It says Nassau should have ended the JSA in September
2006, when new rules went into affect that attribute JSAs and
LMAs against ownership limits. Now the Commission is ordering
the JSA to be terminated immediately, forcing Capitol to make
other arrangements to sell WWHK's airtime - and it says the Enforcement
Bureau will be weighing in on the case, too.
- Barry Lunderville is changing calls at his new AM signal
in Berlin: WRTN (1490) will now be WKDR, a longtime Burlington,
August 16, 2004 -
- NEW YORK's WABC (770) holds an outsize place in the hearts
of a lot of radio people in the northeast - and in large part,
that's because of the jocks who dominated its airwaves (and thus
the top 40 world) during its Musicradio heyday. This week, one
of those All-Americans lost his fight with lung cancer, as Chuck
Leonard died on Thursday (August 12). Leonard's broadcast career
began in Baltimore, where he was heard on WEBB (1360) from 1963
until 1965, when he moved to New York's WWRL (1600). Within just
a few months, Leonard was heard by WABC's Dan Ingram, who persuaded
station management to bring him over to do nights, which he did
from 1965 until 1979.
- As the Musicradio era came to a close, Leonard moved on to
FM, working at WXLO/WRKS and WBLS. In the mid-nineties, he was
heard spinning standards on WQEW (1560) and oldies on Jukebox
Radio (WJUX 99.7 Monticello/W276AQ Fort Lee NJ), and he'd recently
been working at Sirius Satellite Radio, on the Swing Street and
Soul Review channels. Leonard is survived by his wife, Pamela
Horrell Leonard, and daughters Diana Leonard and Kyra Johnson.
He was 67.
- Meanwhile, back on today's radio scene, WNEW (102.7) lost
its operations manager last week, as Infinity moved Smokey Rivers
down to Dallas and the PD chair at KVIL (103.7). Rivers came
in last year when WNEW was being relaunched as "Mix,"
with the apparent goal of turning the station into an AC challenger
to Clear Channel's WLTW (106.7) - but now Mix has morphed into
more of a rhythmic station under the programming leadership of
Frankie Blue, which left Rivers' role undefined.
- Heading upstate, WHEC-TV (Channel 10) in Rochester is losing
the anchor who's been at the helm of its 6 PM newscast since
way back in 1976. Gabe Dalmath has been taking a less prominent
role at the station in the last few years, having been moved
off the 11 PM show and on to the 5:30 AM broadcast in 2001 (not,
as the local rag would have it, 1991) - and all that free time
in the middle of the day enabled him to start a second career
developing business for a local mortgage broker. Dalmath will
move from the 6 PM news to the 5 PM news at the end of next week,
and he'll leave the station completely at the end of this year,
with Brian Martin replacing him at 6.
- In Pittsburgh, Rush Limbaugh is heading for the FM dial.
Clear Channel's pulling the talker (whose show is owned by CC
subsidiary Premiere) over to its WPGB (104.7 Pittsburgh) beginning
Nov. 15; that'll leave a hole in the KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh) midday
schedule that will be filled by Bill O'Reilly (noon-2) and an
extra hour of Fred Honsberger (2-3). (And our best wishes to
Honz, by the way, as he recovers from gastric bypass surgery.
He's been on the air from his home for the last week.)
August 20, 1999 -
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- It's been a slow, slow week in Northeast radio. How slow?
So slow that a little FM in Attica, NEW YORK gets to top off
this week's news. WXOX (101.7) is changing calls to WLOF, and
changing formats from the modern AC mix known as "the Spot"
to Catholic Family Radio talk. Is a sale in the works as well?
Probably, but we haven't heard anything yet. WXOX was known for
many years as WBTF, providing country music to Genesee and Wyoming
counties (between Buffalo and Rochester), before deciding last
year to target the Buffalo suburbs as "the Spot." Sister
AM WBTA (1490 Batavia) seems to be unchanged at this writing.
- Once again, it's good news for the remaining modern AC in
the Buffalo area, CKEY (101.1) in Fort Erie, Ontario. "The
River" lost its biggest competitor in June, when CBS flipped
WLCE (92.9 Buffalo) from modern AC "Alice" to rhythmic
oldies "B92-9." WLCE, by the way, is picking up a new
and very familiar set of calls -- WBUF. Those calls graced 92.9
from the early 1960s until the mid-80s, when they were dumped
for the unmemorable WFXZ, then retrieved a few years later and
retained until the mid-90s switch to smooth jazz and WSJZ. It's
good to have them back on radio in Western New York (they've
been hiding in plain sight on LPTV WBUF-LP, Channel 39 in Hamburg,
which becomes WDTB-LP now).
- And after 75 years in Hartford, WTIC (1080) did its last
broadcast from the 19th floor of the Gold Building Monday morning.
The 10 AM legal ID was the last thing heard from the old studios,
with the new ones in Farmington signing on with news immediately
following. We hear the 'TIC talk hosts have been making repeated
cracks about the (very) suburban nature of their new digs...
- One -- count it! -- piece of news from MASSACHUSETTS: WEEI
(850) will replace Don Imus with John Dennis and Gerry Callahan
at month's end. The duo move to the morning-drive slot from their
current 10AM-noon, with more schedule shuffling sure to follow.
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2009 by Scott Fybush.