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September 21, 2009

Remembering Fred Cusick

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MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Boston's largest public broadcaster, WGBH, is buying the market's commercial classical radio station, Nassau's WCRB (99.5 Lowell), ending years of speculation about the long-term future of classical radio in the Hub and doubling the daily radio output from WGBH's Allston studios.

Details of the deal are being announced this afternoon - but NERW believes it will involve the transformation of WCRB from commercial to non-commercial operation, in a move strikingly similar to WNYC's impending acquisition of New York City's WQXR.

(According to a WGBH press release issued just after 3 PM, that's exactly the case: WCRB will go non-commercial, and a capital campaign is now underway to raise the purchase price of the station, reportedly $14 million.)

Unlike that deal in New York, it appears that at least some of WCRB's airstaff will stay with the new WGBH-run 99.5. Like that deal in New York, it appears that the transaction will move WCRB into WGBH's Allston studios from the longtime WCRB facility in Waltham. And like the New York transition, it appears that the purchase of WCRB will allow WGBH to complete the shift of its main FM facility on 89.7 to full-time news and talk by day, which may explain the recent departure (later in this week's column) of WGBH afternoon classical host Richard Knisely.

There's no immediate word on a purchase price for WCRB, which last changed hands in 2006 as part of a complex deal that sent the station's intellectual property to Nassau and its former frequency, 102.5, to Greater Media. In recent months, Nassau has been beset by financial problems, with control of most of its stations passing to a group of lenders led by Goldman Sachs. That lenders' group now holds 100% of WCRB, which has been rumored to be up for sale - and the deal to transfer the station to WGBH closes the book on some strong rumors that had 99.5 becoming part of Entercom's cluster and perhaps flipping to sports as an FM home for WEEI.

And the move has implications for another format fight, too: assuming 89.7 goes full-time news and talk, how does WBUR respond to the new competition to its own very successful all-news/talk format?

Much more later this week and next week, here in NERW...

*One of the most familiar sports voices in MASSACHUSETTS has been silenced.

"No one I've heard in 45 years of New England residence has ever broadcast anything better than Fred Cusick broadcast hockey," wrote the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan in a tribute this week, and there are few in New England who would disagree with Ryan's assessment of the veteran Bruins announcer who died Tuesday at the age of 90, just hours before he was to be inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Cusick started with the Bruins on radio in 1952, and in addition to announcing the games on radio he soon became the driving force behind the team's early TV broadcasts. Under Cusick's leadership, the team began buying time on Sundays (initially on WMUR-TV and WHDH-TV) to broadcast tape-delayed broadcasts of Saturday games. (Cusick was even involved with the editing in those early years.)

By 1971, the Bruins games had become a regular part of the schedule on WSBK (Channel 38), and Cusick moved over to the TV booth, where he would remain until he retired from the team in 1997.

"Retirement," in this case, was actually something of a misnomer, since Cusick remained active for another five seasons calling games of the AHL's Lowell Lock Monsters.

In addition to his Bruins work, which earned him a berth in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Cusick also served as sports director at WEEI in the fifties and sixties, where he worked on early Boston Patriots broadcasts in that team's first few seasons.

*It was a busy week for Halls of Fame in the Hub: while Cusick didn't live quite long enough to see his own induction, he joined WBZ's Dave Maynard, Gil Santos and John Henning, WBCN's Charles Laquidara, the Yankee Network's Bill Hahn, veteran TV host Sonya Hamlin, newsman Don Latulippe, station owners Allan Roberts and Al Tanger, Emily Rooney of WCVB and WGBH, and jack-of-all-trades Len Zola in this year's class of inductees. The class also included an all-star list of deceased inductees: Norm Nathan, Arch MacDonald, Curt Gowdy, Connie Jameson, Don Gillis, Ed McDonnell, Bill McGrath and Marjorie Mills. WBZ's Jordan Rich emceed the induction luncheon, held Wednesday in Dedham; there should be video up soon at the Hall of Fame's website.

For Maynard, the week brought two Hall of Fame inductions: on Tuesday, he joined the very exclusive club of WBZ Hall of Fame honorees, a group that now numbers just three: Gary LaPierre, Gil Santos and now longtime WBZ morning man Maynard.

*Waller Sutton's WAMG (890 Dedham) and WLLH (1400 Lowell & Lawrence) enter their second week of silence tonight after losing their ESPN Radio affiliation last Monday. As for the Worldwide Leader in Sports, there's still no announcement of a new Boston radio home, as we'd breathlessly anticipated last week.

Over at public broadcaster WGBH (89.7), veteran classical-music host Richard Knisely is off the schedule and off the website, apparently the latest victim of the station's well-publicized budget woes. Knisely, who'd been with WGBH for more than two decades, was the host of the station's midday "Classical Performances" series.

There are some changes in the skies over Needham this week, as tower crews rebuild the top of the "candelabra tower" that rises over the Sheraton hotel off Route 9. With the end of analog broadcasting in June, the old antennas for WLVI (Channel 56) and WSBK (Channel 38) were just dead weight on the tower - and now they've been removed. WLVI will replace its analog antenna with a new top-mounted antenna for WLVI-DT (Channel 41), which has been operating from a side-mounted antenna; WSBK-DT operates from the CBS tower on Cedar Street, so its space on the candelabra will be empty. The third major TV tenant on the tower, Fox's WFXT, has already replaced its analog antenna with a top-mounted digital one.

And out west, there's another call change at the AM station in Orange-Athol: after changing from WJOE to WVBB two weeks ago, the former WCAT flipped again, this time to WTUB, on Sept. 11.

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*In NEW YORK City, Bruce Anderson wrapped up a quarter-century of news anchoring at WABC (770) last week. Anderson worked in Michigan (most notably at WWJ in Detroit) before coming to WABC in 1984. Anderson anchored afternoon drive news at WABC from 1993 until he hung up his headphones at the end of Thursday's shift.

CBS Radio's WWFS (Fresh 102.7) has dropped its latest morning show. "Dave and Danni" had been together for only a year or so, bringing together Dave Packer (who came to the station in 2007) and former K-Rock jock Danni.

With two weeks left to go before the New York Times' commercial WQXR (96.3) gives way to WNYC's noncommercial WQXR (105.9), it's not looking good for the classical station's current airstaff: well-placed sources tell NERW that none of the current WQXR air talent will be making the move downtown to the new 105.9 studios.

And no, we can't leave New York City without at least mentioning that bizarre moment on WNYW (Channel 5)'s 10 PM newscast Wednesday night, when veteran anchor Ernie Anastos tried to make a Frank Perdue reference during some chit-chat after the weather segment. As anyone who's looked at YouTube this week now knows all too well, instead of saying "keep plucking that chicken," Anastos said what sure sounded like something altogether less savory (not to mention sanitary!), thus giving rise to what might be the blooper clip of the year, thanks in no small part to the bug-eyed reaction of co-anchor Dari Alexander. Anastos, who's also a radio station owner up in the Albany market, offered a somewhat embarrassed apology on the news the next night, and it appears there won't be any lasting fallout from the incident.

Moving upstate, hearty congratulations are in order to New Rochelle's WVOX (1460), which marked its fiftieth anniversary last Monday with a live broadcast all afternoon hosted by legendary station owner Bill O'Shaughnessy.

In Albany, Regent's WBZZ (105.7 Malta) isn't renewing the contract of morning team Chuck and Kelly, who came to "The Buzz" in 2006 from AC competitor WYJB (95.5). PD Tom Jacobsen is handling mornings for now - but CNYRadio.com reports that former Ithaca jock Mark Vanness will take over the morning slot at WBZZ beginning October 5.

There was plenty of turnover last week at Roser's "Kiss FM" in Utica (WSKS 97.9 Whitesboro/WSKU 105.5 Little Falls), where both middayer/promotions director Jesse Jordan and night guy "Intern Dave" Wheeler are out. CNYRadio.com reports that Jordan was fired after she turned down a move to morning drive, while Wheeler was fired a day later after announcing his intention to switch to weekends and swing. Kiss PD Shaun Andrews is now doing Jordan's former midday shift.

We can now attach a sale price to Clear Channel's transfer of translator W254BF (98.7 Ithaca) to Saga - Ed Christian's company is paying $45,000 for the signal, which is now relaying WYXL (97.3 Ithaca)'s HD3 as AAA "98.7 the Vine." The translator (formerly W252AA on 98.3) was relaying WPHR (106.9 Auburn) until Clear Channel moved that station closer to Syracuse last month.

In Elmira, Katie Kelly's out at "Rock 94" WLVY (94.3), where she'd been doing afternoons. Heather Black is working that shift now, and Kelly is looking for new work. (She's at [email protected] if you know of anything available...)

What's a class A FM construction permit deep in the woods of the Adirondacks worth? $5300, apparently - at least judging by the results of the FCC's just-concluded FM Auction 79. The CP for 105.9 in Indian Lake, about 50 miles northwest of Glens Falls, was one of just two available FM facilities in the region in the auction, and the winning $5300 bid came from the partnership of Ben Smith and Kevin Fitzgerald, better known for the stations they own in the Twin Tiers region to the south.

(The other NERW-land facility in the auction was a class A on 94.5 in Albany, VERMONT, and the FCC's starting bid of $30,000 was apparently more than any prospective Northeast Kingdom broadcasters cared to pony up. With no winning bid, that allocation will go back in the pool for the next FM auction, whenever it might be.)

Two schedule note: we're just a few weeks away from one of the region's largest engineering gatherings. The 37th annual SBE 22 Broadcast and Technology Expo takes place October 6-7 at Turning Stone near Utica, featuring an exhibit floor full of radio and TV vendors, a full day of educational sessions and a golf tournament. This year's Expo will also be the SBE national meeting, at which former chapter 22 president Vinny Lopez of Syracuse's WSYT/WNYS will be sworn in as national SBE president. As usual, we'll be there and we hope to see you as well. You can pre-register and get more information at http://www.sbe22expo.org/.

We'll also be on hand next Saturday (Sept. 26) for the Binghamton Broadcasters Reunion, where there's one more honoree we haven't yet mentioned: Ron Shoemaker, who engineered WBNG-TV (Channel 12) for many years, then spent some time at WICZ (Channel 40) before his death, will receive special posthumous recognition for his achievements.

And we note the passing of Jack Fredericks, who started his Utica broadcasting career in high school, before World War II, at WIBX. After the war, Fredericks worked for WKAL in Rome, whose owners brought him to their new TV station, WKTV, when it signed on in 1949. Fredericks remained with WKTV for more than four decades as an announcer and program host, retiring in the early 1990s. He died last Monday (Sept. 14) at 84.

*It looks like VERMONT's newest talk station is nearing a launch date. WNMR (107.1 Dannemora NY) will feature veteran Burlington morning show "Corm and the Coach" - and from the station's website, we learn that Steve Cormier will also be serving as VP of radio for owner Convergence Media Group, and that he's taking an equity stake in the station as well. In addition to the flagship morning show, syndicated programming on WNMR will apparently include Michael Smerconish, Curtis Sliwa, Dan Patrick and Dave Ramsey.

*Changes on the RHODE ISLAND dial: Sam Stevens is leaving Hall's WCTK (98.1 New Bedford MA), where he's been music director and midday jock for the last decade. No replacement has been named.

*A CONNECTICUT broadcasting landmark is being demolished. Broadcast House in downtown Hartford, home to WFSB (Channel 3) from the early sixties until the station moved to Rocky Hill in 2007, is being replaced by a high-rise that will be built by a Middletown-based engineering and architecture firm, AI Engineers. Last week, demolition crews began tearing down the building from the Columbus Boulevard side; the interior of the building had already been gutted.

The last remaining Hartford TV station with studios in Hartford, Tribune's WTIC-TV (Channel 61), is adding an additional newscast. Starting today, "Fox 61 Midday" from 11 AM-noon joins the station's 4:30-9 AM morning show and its 10 and 11 PM evening newscasts.

Down in Bridgeport, WSAH (Channel 43) didn't last long as a Retro Television affiliate. The Multicultural Television station will drop its nightly RTV programming at the end of September.

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*The eyes of the radio world will be on PENNSYLVANIA later this week, as the NAB Radio Show returns to Philadelphia for the third time this decade. The big headline out of this year's show, which starts Wednesday, will no doubt be the debut of newly-named NAB president Gordon Smith, the former U.S. senator from Oregon who was just named to the NAB job on Thursday.

We'll be there for the show, too - and on Friday morning, just before the luncheon during which Saga's Ed Christian receives the National Radio Award, your editor will be presenting a new version of my "Tower Sites I've Known and Photographed" slide show as part of the convention's engineering program. Hope to see you there!

Out west, Cambria Radiowerks' WWGE (1400 Loretto) is battling Cambria County tax officials over the taxable status of the station's tower in Allegheny Township. The tower site was almost sold at a delinquency auction last weekend before a judge signed an order putting the auction on hold while the matter is disputed. WWGE says its tower is a "tool of the trade," the functional equivalent of the machinery in a factory that's exempt from property taxes - and it says the tower was never taxed from its construction in 1963 until 2004.

In Scranton, WVIA-FM (89.9) has pulled the plug on the "Music of Your Life" feed it was carrying on its HD2 channel, citing too many complications in blocking out the satellite service's commercial content for carriage on a noncommercial station. The HD2 will relaunch later this year with a new lineup of NPR news, talk and music programs.

And back in Philadelphia, we're sorry to report the death of Fred Sherman, the veteran financial commentator for KYW (1060). Sherman was cut from the KYW staff back in January and suffered a car accident several weeks ago that caused injuries that led to his death Sept. 12 at age 86.

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

*In CANADA, the new owners of CKPC (1380) and CKPC-FM (92.1) in Brantford, Ontario are already making changes. Evanov Broadcasting reportedly told employees that "the economic situation" was to blame for the job cuts it implemented last week, which sliced away significantly at the sizable staff built up by the station's late owner, Dick Buchanan.

Buchanan's son, Rick, was among the cuts, along with airstaff Ken Carter, Brock Doddington, Greg Moulton and overnighter Shika Reyenga. Also out are newscasters Mark Laden, Daryl McInness and Sean Allen. The station's newsroom, which had once been the largest of any privately-owned station in Ontario, is now down to four reporters, according to the Brantford Expositor.

In Quebec City, travelers-information station CKJF (90.3) hopes it's found a new home. Displaced from its existing facility by a new station grant in nearby Montmagny, owner Sortir FM inc. is now applying to move CKJF to 106.9, with a power boost from 16 watts DA to 250 watts/70.6 m DA.

And in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, west of Bridgewater, the CRTC has granted a new community station. Alex Walling's new non-profit community group will provide mostly-local programming aimed at the area's arts community over the new 50-watt signal at 99.3.

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

September 15, 2008 -

  • Forty years after he signed on in morning drive at WRKO, Dale Dorman has disappeared from the eastern MASSACHUSETTS morning radio dial. With no fanfare, Dorman did his last show at WODS (103.3 Boston) on Friday, departing on his own initiative, reports Boston Radio Watch. Dorman came to WODS five years ago this month, making the shift to Oldies 103 after a 23-year run in afternoons at WXKS-FM (Kiss 108), not to mention stints at WROR and of course the decade-long morning gig at WRKO before that. Are there more changes yet to come at WODS? Another Boston radio veteran, Harry "Bud" Nelson, was missing from his weekend shift this past weekend. No replacement has been named for Dorman, but we'll be watching closely as this high-profile opening gets filled. (And we suspect we'll hear "Uncle Dale" on at least a part-time basis on WODS in the weeks to come.)
  • Speaking of afternoons on Kiss 108, there's a big change coming today: Ryan Seacrest's syndicated "On Air" continues its relentless march across the nation, occupying the 10 AM-1 PM weekday slot on Kiss. That moves Shelly Wade (voicetracked from sister station Z100 in New York) to 1-3 PM and pushes Romeo back to a 3-8 PM slot.
  • In NEW YORK, Steve Torre is moving on from WINS (1010) after many years as morning sports anchor; he's now the PD of Chris Russo's "Mad Dog" channel on satellite radio. No replacement has been named yet.
  • Cutbacks at Westwood One's Metro Networks unit claimed a dozen jobs on and off the air late last week in Market Number One, including Kathy Millar, who did morning traffic for WCBS-FM, and Tom Baroni, who'd been doing traffic for WFAS in Westchester County. The "restructuring" at Metro means the disappearance of customized traffic reporting for many suburban stations, as Metro focuses on its biggest (remaining) clients.
  • A debate over media ownership in Ithaca will be played out in front of the FCC later this month. Local media activists challenged the sale of Eagle Broadcasting's four stations (WHCU, WTKO, WYXL, WQNY) to Saga a few years back, and the FCC will hear their appeal of the grant of the sale at an open meeting Sept. 25 in Washington.
  • Folks in PENNSYLVANIA are still scratching their heads over an unusual theft in the Johnstown market. It wasn't just a ground system or transmission line or an air conditioner that disappeared from the old WWBR (1350 Windber) tower last week - it was the entire tower! The station had been silent since the mid-80s, when it briefly flipped calls to WBEM before going off the air for good, but the owners of the 120-foot tower had been planning to rent space on it to wireless and cellular operators. Instead, they found that someone with some knowledge of the site had made it through the brush that surrounded the tower, dismantled it and hauled it off. They're offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the tower thieves.
  • There's a format change in the NEW JERSEY state capital today. WBUD (1260 Trenton) debuts its new Catholic format under its new ownership, and it said goodbye to its old format with a special broadcast on Sunday helmed by longtime host Jack Pinto, who did a final edition of his Frank Sinatra show, then kept playing music for several more hours before returning the station to the Fox Sports format it had been running for just a few months.
  • A RHODE ISLAND station lost its antenna to the aftermath of Hurricane Hanna. WSNE (93.3 Taunton MA) found itself without the top bay of its antenna last Monday after the winds stopped blowing. The station was operating at low power until a new antenna could be rushed to the site (the WJAR-TV transmitter facility in Rehoboth, Mass.) and installed late last week.

September 20, 2004 -

  • The future of public radio in RHODE ISLAND is in more than a little doubt this week, as listeners, donors and public officials digest the Friday morning announcement that Boston's WBUR has put its Ocean State outpost, WRNI (1290 Providence)/WXNI (1230 Westerly) up for sale.
  • Rhode Island lost its distinction as one of the last states with no public radio outlet when WBUR shelled out $1.975 million in 1998 to buy what was then Portuguese-language WRCP (1290); the next year, the $300,000 purchase of what was then WERI (1230 Westerly) expanded service to southern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut. WBUR had big plans for WRNI, building new studios at Providence's Union Station, upgrading the 1290 signal from 5 kW to 10 kW and, for a while, offering a daily two-hour newsmagazine, One Union Station, specifically for the Rhode Island audience. Budget problems beginning in late 2001 slowly eroded some of those advances, though; One Union Station was cancelled and replaced with a weekly one-hour show that was itself cancelled a few weeks ago, and much of WRNI's news staff was either laid off or moved to the mothership in Boston.
  • WBUR head honcho Jane Christo was reportedly tight-lipped with donors at the Friday meeting in Providence; the Providence Phoenix reports that she wouldn't address questions about WBUR's own financial problems, and the extent to which they might be driving the sale of the Rhode Island stations, saying only that it's time for the community to step up and buy the station if it wants it to remain as a public radio outlet.
  • For the donors who led the fund-raising campaign to help WBUR buy the stations in the first place, and those who have given money to WRNI/WXNI in its six years on the air, that attitude was understandably insulting. Several have complained about having to, in effect, buy the station twice - and yet, if they don't, the stations will likely be sold to a commercial owner. (They're also unhappy about the timing of the announcement, asking for some extra time to put together a plan before the station is offered to commercial sellers; right now, the plan is to begin offering the station as early as today, through Media Services Group.) This one's not over yet; stay tuned...
  • Some lineup shakeups in MASSACHUSETTS last week, at Clear Channel's "Kiss 108," WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford): veteran midday jock Ed McMann is out (though he keeps voicetracking for other CC stations in the northeast), and so is afternoon guy Artie the One-Man Party, himself a fairly recent replacement for Dale Dorman. Dierdre Dagata moves over from sister WJMN-FM (94.5 Boston) to take middays, while Romeo moves up from nights to afternoons, which in turn brings Kory in from nights at WKCI (101.3 Hamden CT) to do Kiss' night shift.
  • Air America and other liberal talk programming came to the airwaves of western NEW YORK Friday, when Entercom's WROC (950 Rochester) dropped its talk lineup of Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity in favor of Air America's Unfiltered, Al Franken and Randi Rhodes, as well as the syndicated Ed Schultz and Lionel shows.WROC's move takes it out of direct competition with the much more powerful WHAM (1180) and its talk lineup, including Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. It also appears to have prompted a fair number of calls to WROC-TV (Channel 8), which felt compelled to run a story in its Friday night newscasts reminding viewers that it shares only call letters (and news simulcasts) with 950, but not ownership.
  • Across the street from WROC, the engineers at WXXI (1370/91.5 Rochester) had a busy week, moving the public radio stations out of the studios they've occupied for years (WXXI-FM had been in its studio space since its sign-on in late 1974, while the AM was in a converted suite of offices that had been in use since 1987) into brand-new rooms across the hall (with, for the first time, windows to the outside world!)
  • And even though it never actually existed, legendary made-up station "WVWA" (900 Pound Ridge) was back in the headlines this past week when its call letters were assigned for the first time to an actual broadcast station. The new "real" WVWA-FM is the former WHEL-FM (105.1 Helen GA), now half of Clear Channel's "Viva" regional Mexican simulcast serving Atlanta. (The other half of the simulcast has some famous borrowed calls, too: what had been talker WMAX-FM 105.3 Bowdon GA is now WWVA-FM. And yes, those WMAX-FM calls saw use in the Empire State a few years ago, too.)
  • Is a new "Pickle" on the way to western PENNSYLVANIA? It sure seems that way as Keymarket and Forever settle into the former Clear Channel cluster in New Castle. The hot AC "Star" format that was on WJST (92.1 Ellwood City) moved over to WBZY (1280 New Castle) as "Star 1280," and WJST is taking on new calls of WKPL, which sure sounds like the "Pickle" oldies that Frank Bell's using at WPKL (99.3 Uniontown) and WASP (1130 Brownsville).

September 17, 1999 -

  • It's easy to know where to begin this week's look at the region's broadcasting scene -- all along the coastline, where Hurricane Floyd wreaked its destruction over the past few days. NEW YORK broadcasters escaped the worst of the storm (just ask the folks down in the Carolinas, where many big-group broadcasters put their news-talk AMs on day power/pattern during the worst of the storm, as well as simulcasting on all their FMs), but there was still plenty of dead air out there as Floyd knocked out power. An incomplete list includes WHTR Hudson Falls (still off the air at this writing), WQBK Rensselaer, WCTW Catskill, WXCR Ballston Spa, WDCD-FM Clifton Park, and WABT Mechanicville (all of which share a tower), WKBE Warrensburg, WXNT Port Henry, WRIP Windham, and a dead carrier on WTHK Hudson -- and that's just the area around Albany! Down in the Big Apple, Floyd halted the move of WHTZ (100.3 Newark)'s studio from Secaucus up to Jersey City, and closed many stations' offices as the city more or less shut down Thursday. The good news is that we've yet to hear of any permanent serious damage to broadcast facilities from the storm, and we hope it stays that way.
  • The other big news in New York City was Monday's long-long-awaited debut of "FM Talk 102.7," keeping the WNEW calls, morning guy Steve Mason, and Opie and Anthony in afternoons (now for five hours, starting at 2 PM). Former WRKO "Chick" Leslie Gold shares middays with Mike Adams, Tom Leykis follows Opie and Anthony, and Lovelines and a Leykis replay fill nights. Some rock survives on weekends, most notably "Idiot's Delight" with Vin Scelsa on Sunday nights -- at least until his contract runs out.
  • Next stop, MASSACHUSETTS, where there's a new owner at WGAW (1340) in Gardner, and as usual for small-market AMs in that part of the world, it's Keating Willcox and Willow Farm, Inc. 'GAW has been simulcasting, first WSRO Marlborough and then WEIM Fitchburg, since returning from a long dark spell a few years ago.
  • "FM Talk 96.9" is shaping up at WSJZ, with some new additions to Boston's new FM talker. While Mike Barnicle is part of the station, he's doing just two hours a week, Thursdays 10-noon. That post-Imus slot is being held down by Marjorie Eagan of the Boston Herald the rest of the week. Stacy Taylor follows from noon till 2, Jay Severin (by ISDN from Long Island) 2-6, and Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa of the Boston Herald move over to WSJZ to do 6-7 pm weeknights before the station returns to smooth jazz for the night. By the way, former WSJZ midday jock Jackie Brush has moved 40 miles west -- she's now doing middays at Worcester's WSRS (96.1).
  • The big news from RHODE ISLAND is an official debut date for the new talk format at WLKW (550 Pawtucket). "Talk 550 the Buzz" starts Monday (9/20), helmed by former WPRO PD Mike DeLomba. Former WPRO-FM morning team Mike and Lisa Butts will do mornings on 'LKW, followed by Dr. Joy Browne, local talk from Tom DiLuglio and Jerry Zarellia from noon to 3, and Howie Carr from WRKO 3-6.
  • Citadel has new calls for the 99.7 in Wakefield-Peace Dale. The former WXEX becomes WHCK, to match simulcast partner WHKK (100.3 Middletown).

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