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October 5, 2009

Jim Nettleton, RIP

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*One of the best-loved radio voices in eastern PENNSYLVANIA has died.

"Diamond" Jim Nettleton began his broadcast career in Pottstown, then got his big breaks in Connecticut - in Waterbury, New Haven (WAVZ), and most of all in Hartford, where he did afternoons at WDRC in the mid-sixties. He quickly moved south to Philadelphia's WFIL (560), where he was the "Boss Jock" holding down afternoon drive during one of the decade's most prominent top-40 radio wars, which pitted WFIL against "Wibbage," WIBG (990).

Nettleton moved on to overnights at New York's WABC in 1969, but he continued to be heard in Philadelphia via voicetracks for WCAU-FM (98.1). In 1971, WABC dismissed Nettleton due to the perceived conflict with his work for CBS-owned WCAU-FM, at which point Nettleton went across tow to WPIX-FM.

Later in the seventies, Nettleton programmed WCAU-FM and WUSL (98.9, in its "US-1" era before flipping to R&B), then returned for a short stint at WFIL before moving to Tampa's WDAE in 1983.

The nineties found Nettleton back home in Philadelphia, working afternoons on WOGL (98.1) and later on WPEN (950), as well as voice-tracking for Maryland's WARX and most recently for the revived WIBG-FM (94.3 Avalon) at the Jersey shore.

Nettleton was diagnosed with cancer in early September, and word of his serious illness was making the rounds of the Philadelphia radio community early last week. He died Sunday, at age 69.

*On the other end of the Keystone State, Pittsburghers will learn more later today about an ambitious effort to restore an urban station to their market in the wake of the sale and silencing of WAMO-FM (106.7), WAMO (860) and WPGR (1510) to a Catholic broadcast group that has yet to return those signals to the air.

Eddie Edwards, who built WPTT (Channel 22, now WPMY) into one of the nation's biggest African-American-owned stations before selling it, buying it back, and then LMA'ing it to Sinclair and again selling it, was an outspoken opponent of the WAMO sale - and he's planned a 4 PM news conference today to announce that he's acquired a radio station that will flip to urban programming. Is Edwards buying one of the former Sheridan stations from St. Joseph Missions - perhaps WAMO(AM)? That seems more likely than a big-ticket purchase of an FM signal, especially since those signals are all in the hands of cluster owners (Steel City, Renda, CBS and Clear Channel) that we'd think would be unlikely to part with an individual station. We'll have an update here and on our Twitter feed (@NERadioWatch) as we learn more...

*There's big news from two spots on the Pittsburgh TV dial as well: at WQED Multimedia, parent of public broadcaster WQED-TV (Channel 13)/WQED-FM (89.3), president/CEO George Miles announced last week that he's retiring at the end of the next fiscal year in September 2010. Miles' contract was due to run through 2011, but he's passing the torch early to Deborah Acklin, who was promoted from WQED GM to chief operating officer.

Meanwhile at Cox's WPXI-TV (Channel 11), news director Corrie Harding made an abrupt departure on Tuesday, ending a four-year run at the NBC affiliate. With no assistant news director at WPXI (Melissa Knollinger left that post earlier in September), GM Ray Carter will run the newsroom while a replacement is named.

One more bit of Steel City news: the long-promised "Penguins Radio" launched last week on the HD2 channel of Clear Channel's WXDX (105.9), just in time for the new hockey season.

The lineup on 105.9-HD2 includes a daily talk show hosted by Steve Mears and an hour of Pens talk in the early afternoon with WXDX afternoon host Mark Madden. (Oddly, there's no mention of "Penguins Radio" to be found anywhere on WXDX's own website...)

Just north of Da Burgh, there are calls now for the new 88.1 signal licensed to Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh: it will be WWOM, calls we last remember from their long history in Albany on what's now WKLI-FM 100.9.

In the Scranton market, we can now attach a price tag to Bold Gold Media Group's purchase of the remainder of the WS2K (former Route 81 Radio) cluster. Bold Gold is paying just $500,000 for WLNP (94.3 Carbondale), which is doing AC as "Lite 94.3", and for WCDL (1440 Carbondale) and WNAK (730 Nanticoke), which simulcast a standards format.

Citadel is combining management at its Harrisburg and Allentown clusters, eliminating the Allentown GM and senior business manager posts that had been held by John Fraunfelter and Shelly Langen-Bartholomew, respectively. Those jobs will be handled from Harrisburg, where market manager Bob Adams assumes responsibility for WLEV and WCTO in the Allentown market as well.

THE 2010 CALENDAR IS HERE!

The brand-new Tower Site Calendar 2010 is now shipping, complete with more than a dozen full-color images of sites from Deer Point in Boise to KYPA in Los Angeles to Mount Mansfield in Vermont.

Just three of our individually-numbered, hand-signed limited first edition are still in stock- and of course your purchase of any version of the calendar helps support the continued production of NERW and Tower Site of the Week.

And we still have a very small quantity of earlier calendars available, too, if you missed some...

Order now at the fybush.com Store!

*Thursday night will bring one of the biggest transitions in years to the NEW YORK CITY radio dial, and we now know more about what's in store for classical WQXR in its new home as a noncommercial signal at 105.9 on the dial.

Contrary to earlier reports, it turns out that new owner WNYC will hire several on-air staffers from QXR's current incarnation at 96.3. Morning host Jeff Spurgeon, afternoon host Elliott Forrest and evening host Midge Woolsey will make the move over to the WNYC studios for daytime shifts on the new 105.9 signal (with current WQXR midday host Annie Bergen conspicuously absent), while WNYC's own classical hosts, Terrance McKnight and David Garland, will handle WQXR's evening shifts. WNYC has also hired announcer Naomi Lewin from WGUC in Cincinnati.

As for the music on the new WQXR, the Times reports that WNYC has adopted a mission statement for the new service that calls for a relatively mainstream classical playlist: "There may indeed be times when the more radical and unfamiliar pieces work, but we will not favor them over the work that speaks directly to the needs of uplift, beauty and contemplation.”

For the more esoteric material sometimes heard on the classical portion of the present WNYC-FM (93.9) broadcast day, there will be a new streaming audio service called "Q2." It's not yet clear whether Q2 will show up as an HD Radio subchannel on either WNYC-FM or the new WQXR - or for that matter whether WQXR will appear as a subchannel on the bigger WNYC-FM signal.

The new WQXR on 105.9 will include some syndicated public radio classical programming not currently heard in New York, such as "Performance Today" and "From the Top" - but it won't include some of the religious programming heard on the current WQXR, including several Sunday morning church services. The Friday-evening synagogue broadcast now heard on WQXR will continue for several weeks on 105.9 while it transitions to a yet-to-be-announced new home.

As for WNYC-FM, it released its full new schedule late last week. Portions of its existing music schedule will remain in place - "Soundcheck" at 2 PM weekdays and "New Sounds" weeknights at 11. McKnight's 7-11 PM classical block moves to the new WQXR, replaced by a repeat hour of "All Things Considered" at 7, "On Point" at 8, a repeat of "Tell Me More" (heard at 2 PM on WNYC 820 AM) at 9 and a repeat of "Soundcheck" at 10. And the "Overnight Music" that now runs from midnight until 5 AM on 93.9 will give way to a midnight repeat of the Leonard Lopate show, followed by three hours of BBC World Service.

(This, of course, raises the question - as yet unanswered - of what becomes of AM 820, which will now offer only a few hours a day of programming that's not duplicated on 93.9. Indeed, the two signals will now simulcast for a full 12 hours a day on weekdays.)

*While the new WQXR is finding its footing at the WNYC studios on Varick Street, the CBS Radio studios a few blocks away on Hudson Street will get a new occupant on Friday. That's when WFAN (660) says farewell to its longtime home in the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens - a move which we believe will leave Queens without any radio studios for the first time since the very earliest days of radio. WFAN's move will also mark the completion of the first phase of the Hudson Street construction, though there's a space reserved for future use by the last remaining CBS Radio signal in New York, WCBS (880), which may move downtown in 2010.

Out on Long Island, there's a new morning man on Barnstable's WKJY (98.3 Hempstead) - though Steve Harper is a familiar voice to island listeners, having spent a quarter-century on WBLI and more recently out on the East End at WBEA and WEHM. On "K-JOY," Harper replaces Jim and Kim, who are now being heard in New York City on WWFS (Fresh 102.7).

(And speaking of WBEA and WEHM, they're in a new studio home at 760 Montauk Highway in Watermill.)

Moving upstate, "DC" is out as afternoon jock/music director at Clear Channel's WPKF (96.1 Kiss FM) in Poughkeepsie.

In Utica, CNYRadio.com reports the impending return of morning jock Gary Spears to "Kiss FM" (WSKS 97.9 Whitesboro/WSKU 105.5 Little Falls), seven months after he departed that shift. In the meantime, PD Shaun Andrews is on the air (live and/or VT'ed) from 6 AM-1 PM, followed by S-Dot from 1-7 PM and the syndicated Jackson Blue show at 7.

We'll be out that way on Wednesday for the big SBE 22 Broadcast and Technology Expo, which doubles this year as the SBE's national meeting. (Did we mention that central New York's own Vinny Lopez will be sworn in as SBE national president at the meeting?)

As usual, it's being held at the Turning Stone casino resort - and as usual, all the details are right here at sbe22expo.org. Registration is free, and there will even be live webcasts available of some of the sessions, in case you can't make it to scenic central New York. (Oh, and as usual, we'll have 2010 Tower Site Calendars available on-site, too!)

UPDATE: We were remiss in not mentioning the other big convention in the Empire State this week - the Audio Engineering Society holds its 127th convention beginning Friday at New York City's Javits Convention Center, complete with an extensive broadcast engineering program that includes both cutting-edge topics such as digital broadcasting and streaming and a historical session looking back at RCA's broadcast legacy. Check out all the details at AESBroadcast.com...

Meanwhile on the Binghamton TV dial, it was 1959 all over again on Saturday night at public station WSKG-TV (Channel 46), which marked the 50th anniversary of the debut of The Twilight Zone  by staging a live-to-air studio production of two episodes, "Walking Distance" and "Mirror Image". TZ creator Rod Serling was from Binghamton, of course, and both episodes are said to be based on Binghamton locales. The broadcast was part of a weekend-long celebration of all things TZ and Serling in Binghamton.

(And an item that seems to have fallen into the Twilight Zone, since we keep neglecting to mention it: Binghamton's ABC affiliate, WIVT-DT, finally signed off its low-power signal on channel 4 last month, moving to higher power on its former analog channel, 34.)

*We close our New York section by noting the passing of John Rivas, better known as "Mr. Magic," who was instrumental in bringing rap music to the New York City FM dial in the genre's earliest days, first on the old WHBI (105.9) and then, starting in 1982, during weekend overnights on WBLS (107.5). He was later heard on WQHT (Hot 97.1) "Mr. Magic" died Friday of a heart attack.

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*Even as Don Imus launches his new Fox Business Network TV simulcast this morning, he's losing most of his morning-drive airtime on his biggest MASSACHUSETTS affiliate, as Greater Media's WTKK (96.9 Boston) shuffles its schedule to give its local personalities more drive-time exposure.

The new schedule, which takes effect today, pushes Imus back to 5-7 AM (and that first hour is, we believe, only a "best of" from the previous day), followed by Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, previously heard at noon, in a new 7-10 AM slot, up against Tom Finneran's local morning talk show on WRKO. Michael Graham moves from 9 to 10 AM, and adds an extra two hours from noon-2, Jay Severin shifts an hour earlier to the 2-6 PM slot, and Michele McPhee gets a 6 PM start instead of 7 PM.

*There's a change in the hockey radio lineup as the season gets underway - not the Bruins' move from WBZ (1030) to WBZ-FM (98.5), which we've already written about, but down at the minor-league level, where the Lowell Devils move from their longtime home on WCAP (980 Lowell) to WWZN (1510 Boston), which is nearly impossible to hear at night in Lowell.

And speaking of WCAP, the station lost one of its longest-serving employees last month. Pauline Yates came to the station back in 1958 to work as a secretary, but she quickly rose through the ranks to become the station manager. For much of her 40-year career at WCAP, Yates was the key third player in the management ranks, right alongside co-owners Ike and Maurice Cohen - and for many of us who worked at WCAP, it's probably fair to say that we saw much more of Pauline on a daily basis than we did of the Cohens.

Yates was involved in all aspects of operating WCAP, frequently providing the newsroom with important tips about city events and even helping to cover breaking stories on occasion.

She retired in 1998, and most of her last decade was spent in a declining battle with Alzheimer's disease. She died Sept. 19 at the D'Youville Senior Center in Lowell, at the age of 84, survived by two sons and a daughter - and by many broadcasters who learned the ropes from her at WCAP over the decades.

The week's other major obituary spans the border between Massachusetts and NEW HAMPSHIRE, since Alan Dary was an important part of the broadcast scene in both states. Dary's career began in Florida in 1946, continued at WBRY (1590 Waterbury) in his native Connecticut - and then brought him to Boston's WORL (950) in 1951, where he was one of the city's early star DJs with a show called the "Dary-Go-Round."

In 1956, Dary joined WBZ (1030) when the station dropped NBC network programming for a local top-40 format. He worked late nights and then middays at WBZ until 1961, when he returned to WORL, later moving to WHDH (850) in 1963 (with a brief detour to Rochester's WHAM) and to WMEX (1510) in 1974.

After a brief stint at WHET (1330) in Waltham, Dary moved to the Granite State in 1977, working at WGIR (610) and WKBR (1250) in Manchester for many years, with some time back in Boston at WXKS (1430) during that station's "Music of Your Life" era in the eighties.

Dary's son, Alan I. Dary, went into the business as well, working as general manager at WKBR and hiring his father for middays in 1987.

Dary died of kidney failure on Friday (Oct. 2); he was 89.

*In other news from up north, New Hampshire Public Radio cut four staffers last week, blaming a drop in corporate underwriting for the layoffs of business reporter David Darman and three other employees.

*Across the line in VERMONT, Vermont Public Radio engineers were busy last week atop the state's highest point, Mount Mansfield, moving the transmitter of flagship outlet WVPS (107.9 Burlington) to a new home in the new TV transmitter building on the mountaintop. Since its debut in 1980, WVPS had housed its transmitter just uphill in the Vermont Public Television building; the new location will allow WVPS to share its antenna with commercial station WEZF (92.9 Burlington), which has to leave its current home on the old WVNY-TV tower on the mountain, which is to be removed. Yes, that is snow on the mountain...it's October in northern Vermont, after all...

(And did we mention that the new Mount Mansfield towers are featured prominently in the 2010 Tower Site Calendar? Just checking...)

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

*In CANADA, CFRB (1010 Toronto) - or, as it's now known, simply "Newstalk 1010" - launched its new lineup Friday, moving John Moore to mornings, which displaces Bill Carroll to the 9 AM slot. Jim Richards moves to 1 PM from afternoons, where John Tory will now hold forth from 4-7 PM with "Live Drive."

At the corporate level, CFRB parent Astral Media is rearranging its leadership in several markets. Bob Harris, who's been VP and programming/operations manager at Astral's CJAD/CJFM/CHOM in Montreal, is relocating to Hamilton to become VP/general manager of CHAM/CKOC/CKLH in January, reports Milkman UnLimited. Luc Tremblay, who'd been VP/GM of the Montreal stations, moves to Astral's Quebec corporate office, while Martin Spalding, the stations' assistant VP for sales and marketing, takes over as VP/GM next month.

And when Harris moves to southern Ontario, one of his air talents will follow: Kim Rossi will move from mornings on Montreal's CHOM (97.7) to mornings on CHTZ (97.7 St. Catharines) in January.

*Up north, the end of the line for AM radio in Sudbury, Ontario came without fanfare last Wednesday afternoon around 5, when Newcap turned off the transmitter at CIGM (790) after eight decades. The AM station had been simulcasting its new FM replacement, "Hot 93.5" (CIGM-FM), for the last few weeks.

The new station launched its jock lineup in late September, bringing Matt Sampaio from sister station CHNO-FM (Big Daddy 103.9) and Sherri K. from CHTN-FM (Ocean 100.3) in Prince Edward Island together in the "Morning Hot Tub." They're followed by Ryan Seacrest in middays (yes, even in Sudbury, Ontario) - and he's followed by Grant Kellett, late of CIHT (Hot 89.9) in Ottawa in afternoons and Jess Stevens, formerly of PEI's CKQK (105.5), at night.

One more AM signal quietly faded into oblivion last week: CKRU (980 Peterborough) ran out of its 90-day simulcast period with CKRU-FM (100.5), leaving the air after more than 60 years - and leaving Peterborough, too, without AM radio.

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!)

October 6, 2008 -

  • It was one tough week for the nation's economy, and the effects of the sagging markets are being felt all over the radio dial - but nowhere more so, this week, than in eastern PENNSYLVANIA. In Chester County, just west of Philadelphia, almost six decades of local radio at WCOJ (1420 Coatesville) came to a sudden end Tuesday night when the station went silent, a victim of the collapse of the Route 81 Radio cluster that once counted WCOJ as its flagship.
  • As we understand it, former WCOJ owner Lloyd Roach used the station as his investment when he formed the Route 81 group with two venture capital firms, only to end up losing that investment several years later during a complex legal dispute with his former partners. Then came a money crunch in July that found one of the venture capital firms, Waller Sutton, taking over operations of the Route 81 cluster after a foreclosure sale. (In the meantime, the company had downsized, selling off its stations in Utica, N.Y. and parts of its Scranton/Wilkes-Barre cluster.)
  • On Tuesday, Route 81 manager Ira Rosenblatt called a 3 PM staff meeting at WCOJ, telling staffers the station had been sold, the locks were being changed, and WCOJ would be off the air at the end of the day, leaving local talk host Robert Henson and about a dozen other employees out of work. WCOJ's new owner? Catholic broadcaster Holy Spirit Radio Foundation, which will return the station to the air Tuesday as a simulcast of its Bucks County signal, WISP (1570 Doylestown), with no local content.
  • While the loss of WCOJ's local programming is indeed unfortunate, it was far from a total surprise; Waller Sutton has made no secret of its intent to liquidate its Route 81 investment since foreclosing on the stations, and almost from the beginning, the Route 81 stations had been plagued with financial problems. So it was somewhat more worrisome as news spread late last week about financial tremors at one of the region's larger radio groups.
  • Nassau Broadcasting Partners, which used the easy capital of the boom years to build up a cluster of 38 small- and medium-market stations spread from Maine to Maryland, told the FCC it can't close its $22 million purchase of Reading-market WFKB (107.5 Boyertown) on schedule. "Due to certain dislocations in the credit markets," WFKB's seller, Lancaster-based WDAC Radio Company told the Commission, Nassau has been unable to come up with financing to close the deal, and the purchase agreement between the two companies "has been terminated."
  • For now, Nassau continues to LMA WFKB, which flipped from religious WBYN to classic hits "Frank" back in October 2005, when the LMA began. (The WBYN calls and format now reside on another Nassau signal, the former WYNS Lehighton on AM 1160.) But the LMA ends November 30, and while WDAC Radio and Nassau have asked the FCC to extend its approval of the sale through December in case a new sale agreement can be struck, WDAC notes that it retains the right to assign the 107.5 license to "a third party" if it can strike a separate deal before the sale approval expires December 22. And the potential loss of WFKB may not be the biggest worry at Nassau, we're hearing. Will the credit crunch bring even bigger shakeups at the Princeton, N.J.-based group? Stay tuned...
  • In Pittsburgh, veteran Pirates play-by-play man Lanny Frattare is leaving the team after 33 years in the broadcast booth. Frattare, a native of Rochester and a graduate of Ithaca College, began his broadcast career here in western New York (most notably at the old WROC 1280), then joined the Pirates farm system in 1974 as the announcer for the now-defunct Charleston (West Virginia) Charlies. Frattare moved up to the majors in 1976, replacing Milo Hamilton as lead radio broadcaster in 1980. In the last few seasons, the Pirates have been grooming Greg Brown to replace Frattare, and he'll take over as lead play-by-play announcer on flagship WPGB (104.7) and the Bucs' extensive network next season.
  • The retransmission-consent fight between LIN Broadcasting and Time Warner Cable is taking place all over the country, but in our region the effects are being felt particularly strongly in western NEW YORK, where LIN's CBS affiliate, WIVB (Channel 4) and its CW sister station, WNLO (Channel 23), disappeared from Time Warner's systems last week, effectively taking the stations off the air for more than two-thirds of their potential viewers in the Buffalo TV market. As is traditional by now in these disputes, each side staked out its position in newspaper and radio ads and websites, with Time Warner arguing that it shouldn't have to pay extra (and pass those costs along to customers) for programming WIVB and WNLO send out at no charge to over-the-air viewers, while LIN argued that its programming helped Time Warner attract viewers and should be worth a few dollars per customer per year. (With 330,000 Time Warner customers in the market, that could represent some decent additional revenue to LIN if a deal could be reached.)
  • We spent some time last week down in Ithaca, where we arrived just in time for a CHR format war, 2008-style.
  • NERW readers already know about WFIZ (95.5 Odessa), the class A station that Finger Lakes Radio Group moved into the market from Dundee, where it was WFLR-FM (95.9). And even though its studios in the South Hill Business Center across from Ithaca College were still being drywalled when we poked our head in, "Z 95.5" was on the air with what it's billing as 10,000 commercial-free songs. (Jock-free, too, while GM Frank Lischak and new PD Tommy Frank work on hiring an airstaff.)
  • We told you last week, too, that WFIZ's arrival represents the first real competition in many years for Saga's dominant Ithaca cluster - and the fierce competitors over on Hanshaw Road wasted no time welcoming "Z" to the market. Last week, they followed the precedent set by Cumulus' innovative use of an FM translator to relay an HD2 subchannel in Harrisburg, flipping translator W276AO (103.3 Ithaca, recently moved from 103.1) from a simulcast of WNYY (1470) to a simulcast of the new HD2 subchannel of Saga's WIII (99.9 Cortland) (Actually, WYXL 97.3 Ithaca). And what's running on that new HD2 subchannel and its new analog translator? Why, CHR, of course - aimed straight down the barrels of WFIZ. Saga's new entry is called "Hits 103.3," and it's launching jockless with a promised 103 days of commercial-free music.
  • How does this battle shape up? Pretty evenly, we think - while WFIZ wins on signal, the compact Ithaca market doesn't really require a big signal to make an impact. Will "Hits 103" remain a jukebox, or will Saga add an airstaff? That - and the imposing cluster (two AM news-talkers, AC "Lite" WYXL, classic rock "I-100" WIII and country "Q" WQNY) that Saga can sell alongside "Hits" - could make all the difference.

October 4, 2004 -

  • There are legends, and then there are Legends. Scott Muni was a capital-L, bold-face Legend, and his death Tuesday night (Sept. 28) leaves NEW YORK radio a much poorer place.
  • Muni, born Donald Allen Munoz in Wichita, came to New York from WAKR in Akron in 1959 to become one of the "Good Guys" at WMCA (570). The next year, he moved to WABC (770), where he worked evenings right through the station's glory days, the start of Beatlemania. It would be the start of a long relationship for Muni. In 1966, Muni took a bold step, relocating to the radio hinterlands of the FM dial, where he joined the initial airstaff at WOR-FM (98.7), the city's pioneering progressive rock station. Muni thrived on the freeform programming at WOR-FM, which gave him the freedom he'd never had in the tight confines of WABC's top-40 format, and his gravelly voice became inseparable from rock radio in New York.
  • Muni moved to WNEW-FM (102.7) in 1968, and quickly became an iconic part of the station "Where Rock Lives." It was Muni who helped New Yorkers through their grief when John Lennon was killed, and every show he ever did after that featured at least one Beatles or Lennon tune. When WNEW's rock era came to a close, Muni moved over to WAXQ (104.3) in 1998, where he was heard during the noon hour each day - at least until this past January, when he suffered a stroke. Muni's family and friends kept the extent of his illness quiet, and so it came as a shock to most when the news came of his death. Scott Muni was 74.
  • In other news from the Empire State this week, Ernie Anastos is moving up the TV dial in New York City. He'll be released from his contract at WCBS-TV (Channel 2) later this year to go over to Fox's WNYW (Channel 5), where he'll replace Len Cannon at the anchor desk at 5, 6 and 10.
  • The news in New England is all about Air America this week - and we'll start in MASSACHUSETTS, where Clear Channel made the rumors come true, flipping WXKS (1430 Everett) and WKOX (1200 Framingham) to a progressive (liberal, if you prefer) talk lineup that includes Air America's Randi Rhodes and Al Franken and Jones' Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller. The new format replaces standards on WXKS (where we hear some tears were shed as morning man Bill Wightman said farewell to his audience last week) and Spanish religion on WKOX.
  • Speaking of WKOX, or at least of one of its towermates, WBIX (1060 Natick) finally began using its nighttime broadcast authority last week. WBIX continues to operate by day with 40 kW from the WKOX facility in Framingham, but now it's on the way to 2500 watts of night power from the WAMG (890 Dedham) site in Ashland. For the moment, it's running significantly less than 2500 watts as it tunes up its signal and attempts to avoid interfering with KYW (1060 Philadelphia) and Boston's own WBZ; those with long memories may recall that WBIX's ancestor on 1060, WGTR, operated under special temporary authority from the Ashland site for decades while it tried - and failed - to get the array working well enough to get a license to cover.

October 2, 1999 -

  • [There was no NERW this week, as we were in the process of moving to a new NERW Central.]

September 30, 1994 -

  • WCGY (93.7 Lawrence) is making a very slow evolution, apparently to an adult-
    progressive "Generation X" type format, in competition with WFNX. To recap: Live programming ended at midnight, Monday night/Tuesday morning, with "Carry That Weight" by the Beatles. Dead air followed for 90 minutes, then half an hour or so of new sister station WBMX-98.5 simulcast, with the IDs clumsily potted down :-) Then more dead air for 4 hours, then an automated format kicking in at 6 am. The automation has run the show since then...and the music mix seems to be slowly moving from the straight ahead classics/current AOR mix of the "old" WCGY to a more progressive format. The only IDs have been "93 (beep) 7 WCGY", although one legal I heard followed that with "Is there anyone listening out there?" There's still a spot load, and they're even promoting a (live?!?!?) remote tomorrow at a new McDonalds!
    Interesting to see where this is headed...perhaps this is all a ruse, and there's a real new format under wraps waiting to be sprung on us all?

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