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January 25, 2010

The Party's Over (in New York, anyway)

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*Fans of dance music in NEW YORK City are once again without a radio station. After less than three months, JVC Broadcasting abruptly pulled its "Party FM" dance/hip-hop format off the audio carrier of Island Broadcasting's WNYZ-LP (Channel 6) on Thursday, raising questions along the way about the future of the "Franken-FM" stations that have been using channel 6 LPTVs as pseudo-FM stations heard at 87.7 on the dial.

"It's hard to invest in a radio station when you don't know if the government will shut it down tomorrow," said JVC CEO John Caracciolo in a statement announcing the end of the simulcast. Caracciolo says it's not clear how much longer the FCC will continue to allow analog LPTVs to continue without converting to digital, a move that would make the channel 6 audio unavailable to analog FM listeners.

"Party" continues to be heard on Long Island, via parent station WPTY-FM (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) on the East End and once again via translator W268AN (101.5 Plainview), which had been carrying JVC sister station "La Fiesta" WBON (98.5 Westhampton).

As for WNYZ, it was off the air for a bit after the end of the "Party" simulcast, though it returned, at least briefly, with a simulcast of New York's WCBS-FM. An unsourced item on WNYZ's Wikipedia entry claims that the station will be leased out to Idaho-based CSN International for its religious programming, but we've been unable to confirm that.

And as for those dance fans, it's been a tough year for them - first last October's shutdown of the always financially-shaky "Pulse 87" operation that had been leasing WNYZ, and now this. Will there be a third try somewhere down the road?

*The final collapse of New York-based Air America Radio made big industry headlines at week's end, but the bankruptcy liquidation of the pioneering progressive talk network won't affect many timeslots on any NERW-land radio stations. There were no full-time Air America affiliates in the region, and hadn't been for several years, and even in New York Air America was only being cleared for a few hours a day on nominal flagship WWRL (1600): Montel Williams' mid-morning show was delayed to 3-6 PM, followed by Ron Reagan Jr. from 6-8 PM, and three overnight hours were filled with a delayed Rachel Maddow rebroadcast and "Clout with Richard Greene." There's no word yet on what programming will now be heard during those hours on WWRL.

Ithaca's WNYY (1470) was carrying Air America's Lionel in morning drive, and has now replaced him with Dial Global's Bill Press. The only other weekday AA shows on WNYY were an hour of Norman Goldman at night, replaced by Montel Williams, and an hour of Rachel Maddow early in the morning, replaced by the Wall Street Journal This Morning show.

In Buffalo, WWKB (1520) wasn't using any of Air America's weekday shows in its lineup (a relic of the brief competition between 'KB and former AA affiliate WHLD 1270 a few years back), but it will have to replace some of the weekend programming it was getting from the now-defunct network.

The bigger news from Buffalo was the death of one of the city's media pioneers. Alfred E. Anscombe began his radio career back in the late 1930s as a sports announcer for the old Buffalo Broadcasting Corporation, which then controlled much of the Queen City's radio dial, including WKBW, where Anscombe rose into the management ranks in the years following World War II.

As station manager, Anscombe led WKBW radio into its top-40 dominance in the late 1950s and spearheaded the effort to put WKBW-TV (Channel 7) on the air in 1958. He served as vice president of the TV station before leaving for bigger things in 1960, becoming executive vice president of Metromedia.

Meanwhile, Anscombe was building new holdings in two other areas: UHF TV and cable TV. On the UHF front, Anscombe put WEPA-TV (Channel 66) in Erie and WBJA-TV (Channel 34) in Binghamton on the air in the early 1960s, naming the Binghamton staton after his wife's initials. While the Erie station eventually went dark, the Binghamton station remained on the air through several subsequent owners, becoming today's WIVT.

Anscombe founded several small cable companies in western New York, which were eventually combined into International Cable, which later merged into Adelphia and then into today's Time Warner Cable.

In 1996, he was the founding chairman of the Buffalo Broadcasters Association, which inducted him into its hall of fame in 2000. He was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame five years later.

Anscombe died Tuesday at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. He was 89.

*While we're in Buffalo, there's a format change coming next week at public station WBFO (88.7), where the last of the station's daytime jazz is being replaced by more news and talk.

Starting February 1, WBFO will carry the first hour of "On Point" from Boston's WBUR at 10 AM, followed at 11 by NPR's "Tell Me More" and at noon by "Fresh Air," which will continue to be heard at 7 PM as well. At 1 PM, WBFO had already begun carrying Susan Arbetter's new "Capital Pressroom" show, produced by WCNY in Syracuse. (Crosstown public radio outlet WNED 970 carries both "On Point" hours from 10-noon.)

In the evening, WBFO's 8 PM strip of "On the Border" music shows gives way to the second hour of "On Point," then a 9 PM hour of "All Things Considered" before the jazz finally kicks in at 10 PM.

WBFO interim general manager Mark Vogelzang says the moves come in response to listener demand for more talk programming.

"Buffalo and the entire region, including parts of Ontario, has a strong interest in public radio and NPR, so we're glad to be able to provide more of it starting in February," he says. Vogelzang plans to take listener calls about the schedule changes during a "meet the manager" call-in show next month.

*There's a public radio schedule change in New York, too, where WNYC is streamlining what had been a confusing ping-pong match between its two morning shows. Since its launch in 2008, the locally-produced "The Takeaway" had been running in two hour-long chunks, from 6-7 AM on WNYC-FM (93.9) and from 8-9 AM on WNYC (820), breaking up the flow of NPR's "Morning Edition" on both signals.

As of today, "The Takeaway" moves to the AM signal, where it will be heard nonstop from 6-10 AM, while FM listeners get an uninterrupted four-hour "Morning Edition" block from 5-9 AM, followed by the BBC Newshour.

Radio People on the Move in New York City: Ken Duffy is the new afternoon news anchor at Citadel's WABC (770), moving over from Fox News Radio. Downtown at CBS Radio, Jake Ray is the producer of Nick Cannon's new WXRK (92.3 Now) morning show, which debuted last Tuesday to mixed reviews. And up the Hudson a bit, Chris Marino has a new gig as PD of Clear Channel's WPKF (96.1 Kiss FM) in Poughkeepsie. Marino did mornings at crosstown WSPK (K104.7) until last March; he's also worked at New York's Z100 and at WLCE and WIOQ in Philadelphia.

Another obituary from New York: George Jellinek, who served as WQXR's music director from 1968 until 1984, died January 17. Jellinek had been a record-store clerk and an author writing about music when WQXR hired him. In addition to his work as music director, Jellinek hosted the weekly "Vocal Scene" show, continuing on the air at WQXR for another decade before retiring in 1994. Jellinek was 90 years old.

In Syracuse, we hear that Galaxy has shifted translator W249BC (97.7) from relaying "K-Rock" WKRL (100.9 North Syracuse) to relaying WTLA (1200 North Syracuse); the move sets the stage for the format flip on March 1 to ESPN sports on WTLA and sister station WSGO (1440 Oswego).

Family Life Ministries has calls for its new signal on 88.9 in Unadilla, near Sidney: it will be WCIS.

And one more from the upstate rumor mill: is Sinclair's Rochester Fox affiliate, WUHF (Channel 31), about to end the shared-services agreement under which the station has been managed and operated by Nexstar's CBS affiliate, WROC-TV (Channel 8)? We're hearing that WUHF may be preparing to reopen the East Avenue studios that it shuttered in 2005 - and looking for a new partner to produce a 10 PM newscast as well.


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*This week's top story from PENNSYLVANIA is one of the worst-kept secrets in recent radio memory: CBS Radio is indeed pulling the plug on Pittsburgh's top-40 "B94" WBZW for a second time, replacing it with an all-sports format as "93.7 the Fan" under new calls KDKA-FM.

The flip won't take place until February 15, but CBS isn't keeping B94 intact in the meantime. No sooner did the press release go out last Tuesday than the station went jockless - but at least some of its airstaff will stay with CBS on sister station WZPT (Star 100.7), which will add some of B94's top-40 playlist to its existing hot AC format. B94 morning man Bubba will join J. R. Randall and Shelley Duffy on the Star morning show, while Melanie Taylor moves from B94 to Star for middays.

The details of the new sports format on 93.7 are less clear. The new station has a program director - former ESPN Radio PD Terry Foxx - and a sports director, Jeff Hathhorn, who already holds that role for sister station KDKA (1020). And it sounds as though Gregg Giannotti, who's been a fill-in host and show producer at CBS sports flagship WFAN in New York, might be heading to the Steel City as well; he tweeted that he's "leaving N.Y. to host full-time in another market" soon.

There's speculation, too, that CBS may be putting the pieces of a national sports network together, as Pittsburgh joins other recent CBS sports-format launches in Boston and Dallas and more established signals in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit and several other big markets.

More Radio People on the Move in the Keystone State: Doc Medek is leaving his PD/morning drive gig at Scranton's "Froggy 101" (WGGY 101.3) and moving down the Turnpike Spur to take over mornings at Philadelphia's WXTU (92.5), effective February 8. Andie Summers stays on board as co-host; Kris Stevens becomes a part-timer. And back in Pittsburgh, Tracey Morgan is out of middays at CBS Radio's WDSY (107.9), replaced by morning co-host Ally.

Philadelphia newsman Ken Matz died Saturday. Matz started in central Pennsylvania radio at WFEC in Harrisburg and WRAW in Reading in the sixties before moving to Philadelphia's WIBG (990, now WNTP) in 1969. After six years at Wibbage, Matz moved up the dial to KYW (1060) in 1976, then segued into TV the next year, moving to Baltimore and then to other large markets including Miami and Los Angeles. Matz returned to Philadelphia in 1993, working as an anchor at WCAU-TV (Channel 10). He left Philadelphia in 1998, when he retired to Florida. Matz was 63.

Former KDKA-TV (Channel 2) anchor/reporter John Cater died in Atlanta on Tuesday (Jan. 19) at the far-too-young age of 32. Cater started at KDKA and sister station WPCW in 2004, anchoring the mornng show on WPCW for several years. He moved to Atlanta two years ago, and had freelanced at several stations there, including WSB-TV, WXIA-TV and WGCL-TV. No cause of death has been released.

And over at the western edge of the state, we note the passing of station owner Harold Glunt, who made his fortune in the steel industry before becoming a broadcaster a decade or so ago. Glunt's Beacon Broadcasting includes WGRP (940) and WEXC (107.1) in Greenville and WLOA (1470) in Farrell, as well as several AM stations across the state line in the Youngstown, Ohio market. Glunt died Thursday (Jan. 21) at age 75; there's no word yet on the future of his radio holdings.


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*While MASSACHUSETTS was focused on the big Senate race - and in no small part on the talk hosts at WRKO (680) and WTKK (96.9) who helped to propel Republican Scott Brown to victory - there were some changes elsewhere on the dial. Down the hall from WRKO, Entercom's WEEI (850 Boston) sent veteran sports anchor Pete Sheppard packing in a budget-driven move, prompting speculation about a new job for Sheppard across the street at CBS Radio's WBZ-FM. (In a what may or may not have been a related move, WEEI contributor and Sheppard fan Curt Schilling moved his "38Pitches" blog off the website this week.)

*In MAINE, there's a format shift at Saga's WBAE (1490 Portland)/WVAE (1400 Biddeford): the stations have segued from hot talk to "Advice for Life." Bob and Tom remain on board for mornings, and the rest of the syndicated lineup includes Clark Howard at 10 AM, Laura Schlessinger at 1 PM, Dave Ramsey at 4 PM, Dr. Joy Browne at 7 PM and Loveline at 10 PM.

Up in the Bangor market, the Air America shutdown takes at least three shows off the schedule at Stephen King's brand-new progressive talker, WZON-FM (103.1 Dover-Foxcroft). "The Pulse" had been carrying AA's Montel Williams in late mornings and Ron Reagan Jr.and "Clout" in the evenings; no word yet on what might replace them.

*Saga's progressive talkers in the Connecticut River Valley will have to fill just a few hours of programming because of Air America's demise. WKVT (1490) in Brattleboro, VERMONT and WZBK (1220) in Keene, NEW HAMPSHIRE were carrying Reagan from 6-8 PM and a delayed hour of Rachel Maddow from 8-9 AM, as well as some weekend shows. Across the state line in Massachusetts, sister station WHMP (1400 Northampton) and its relays were taking only one weekday show from Air America, the 5-6 AM replay of the Maddow show.

*Two bits of CONNECTICUT news: Jim Vicevich is temporarily off the air at Hartford's WTIC (1080) as he recovers from an auto-immune illness; while he's off, Ray Dunaway has extended his morning show to 10 AM, with a Sean Hannity repeat filling the remaining two hours of Vicevich's show.

And on the HD Radio dial, the HD3 channel of Hartford-market WMRQ (104.1 Waterbury) is now a relay of contemporary Christian station WYCM (90.1), up I-84 in Charlton, Massachusetts.


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*The struggling local TV business in CANADA took another big hit last week when Rogers eviscerated its local newsrooms at its CityTV outlets around the country - none of them worse than the original, CITY-TV (Channel 57) in Toronto. While Rogers says only 6% of its total staff was cut, those cuts went deep, starting with veteran anchor Anne Mroczkowski, who'd been with CITY-TV for 30 years.

In Toronto, CITY cancelled its noon and 5 PM newscasts, as well as its evening "CityNews International" broadcast that was distributed to other CityTV outlets around the country. Gone also are the weekend newscasts, leaving only a stripped-down "Breakfast Television" and 6 PM and 11 PM broadcasts on weekdays. That's still more than some other CityTV markets - in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg all but "Breakfast Television" were axed in the cutbacks.

As for the 24-hour cable news channel City was to have launched in Toronto to replace the CP24 service that stayed with CTV in the breakup of the former CHUM properties, we're hearing that it won't materialize, either.

While Rogers won't confirm the exact extent of the cuts, it appears that nearly three dozen CITY-TV staffers lost their jobs in Toronto. In addition to Mroczkowski, prominent cuts included 5 PM anchor Merella Fernandez, noon anchor Laura Di Battista and reporters Pam Seatle and Marianne Dimain.

From the NERW Archives

(Yup, we've been doing this a long time now, and so we're digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five, ten and - where available - fifteen years ago this week, or thereabouts. Note that the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as "New England Radio Watch," and didn't go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997. Thanks to for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

January 26, 2009 -

  • This week's lead story is yet another one we'd really rather not be writing. The massive job cuts at Clear Channel made their way from rumor to reality on Tuesday, and if the nation's largest radio company really intended to use the headlines surrounding Inauguration Day in Washington as cover to bury the story of its cutbacks (a rumor to which we never gave complete credence), it didn't work. The story not only dominated the radio trades all week, it made it into the mainstream media as well, even though the size of the Clear Channel cuts - 1850 jobs worldwide in its radio, outdoor and international divisions, about 9% of its total workforce - paled by comparison with the 30,000 jobs disappearing in the demise of Circuit City and other economic disasters.
  • As painful as the cuts were, especially in markets where longtime station veterans were marched out the door without even the opportunity to say farewell to their colleagues, some of the most dire predictions making the message-board rounds did not come to pass: there was no wholesale replacement of local air talent with national, satellite-delivered formats, no shuttering of local studios - indeed, with the exception of a few targeted cuts to local sports programming in several markets (Syracuse among them, but more notably Detroit and San Diego, where WDFN and KLSD were gutted), the cuts were largely behind the scenes.
  • In New York City, on-air cuts were minimal, with WHTZ (Z100) night co-host Niko and Total Traffic's Brian de Masi the only personalities to lose their jobs. But behind the scenes, the cuts were more dramatic, with WKTU (103.5) local sales manager Mark Magnone at the head of a long line of ousted salespeople. The cluster's communications director, Josefa Paganuzzi, is also out. (And we ask again - how can radio expect to grow new listeners in the face of so many other entertainment options if it won't even make a minimal investment in continuing to promote itself?)
  • The cuts at Clear Channel in Rochester left 29-year news veteran Bill Lowe with no opportunity to say goodbye to his longtime listeners on the "Chet and Beth" morning show. Lowe, whose career started in his native Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania at WCNR (930, now WHLM) back in 1960, also spent time in Binghamton (WNBF) and Syracuse (WFBL) before coming to WHAM in 1979. Also out in Rochester were sports anchor Gene Battaglia, traffic guy Barry Vee, as well as several salespeople.
  • In Syracuse, the cuts hit hardest at sports WHEN (620), where Jim "Manchild" Lerch, who was PD and co-host of the afternoon "Bud and the Manchild" show, was let go along with producer Ty Doyle. Post-Standard sports columnist Bud Poliquin is also off the WHEN airwaves, whch are now entirely filled with national sports talk from Fox Sports, Dan Patrick and Jim Rome in a market that has distinctly local passions for its Orangemen. Also cut were Carole Fargo, promotions director at WBBS (104.7 Fulton), and several salespeople.
  • And it wasn't just Clear Channel making cutbacks in the Empire State: in Buffalo, it was Citadel firing staffers at week's end. WHTT (104.1) midday man Jim Pastrick, a veteran of Queen City radio, was missing from the "Mix 104" website as we went to press Sunday night, with afternooner Jim Siragusa listed with a noon-7 PM shift, no doubt heavily voicetracked. And we're hearing two salespeople are gone from the cluster as well.
  • In Rochester, Stephens Media made another morning show cutback - after reducing the "Tony and Dee" show on WRMM (101.3) to just "Tony" when it took the station over last year, Stephens has now cut the "Ace and Marti" show on sister station WFKL (93.3 Fairport) to just "Marti in the Morning," leaving veteran Rochester jock Marti Casper solo and her former co-host George "Ace" Acevedo, who came to town from California five years ago to work at WFKL's predecessor, WBBF, out of work.
  • The week's other big story, beyond the Clear Channel cutbacks, came on the NEW JERSEY shore, where Press Communications pulled the plug last Monday on "G-Rock Radio," the latest incarnation of the modern rock format that has given WHTG-FM (106.3 Eatontown) a loyal, if not huge, following for several decades. 106.3, and its simulcast down the shore on WBBO (106.5 Bass River Township), are now doing top-40 as "Hit 106." For the moment, the hits format is running without local jocks, using the "Hits Now" satellite service from Dial Global, and morning host Matt Murray is out, but some of the former G-Rock staff, including PD Terrie Carr, apparently remains on board - indeed, in an open letter posted on the G-Rock website and addressed to organizers of a planned protest at the station's studios on Saturday, Press CEO Robert McAllan promised that G-Rock jock Matt Knight would soon be back on the air from 3-7 PM weekdays. As for that protest, it drew some 200 listeners to WHTG's studios in Neptune, some of them bearing signs aimed at Arbitron, a reference to McAllan's comments that the G-Rock audience had never been properly measured by the ratings firm.
  • In RHODE ISLAND, it wasn't just Clear Channel doing the cutting: on Friday, Citadel made some deep cuts to its Providence cluster, including WPRO-FM (92.3) night jock Kerry Collins (who'll be replaced by voicetracking from Ralphie at WBHT in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre), WWLI (105.1) afternoon guy Charlie Jefferds and WWKX (106.3 Woonsocket) APD/afternoon DJ Joey Foxx. As for Clear Channel's Providence cluster, Tuesday's cuts claimed more than a half-dozen salespeople, several members of the Paul and Al morning show - Johnny "Skidmarks" Hamblett and sportscaster Steve McDonald, aka "Jim Shorts," WHJJ "Helen Glover Show" producer Mike Fiske, and WHJJ weekend host Bruce Newbury.
  • It's not just US broadcasters getting chilled by the current economic climate - it's happening up in CANADA as well, where Newcap cited "seriously deteriorating credit markets" in announcing last week that it was pulling out of its deal to buy 12 FM stations in northern Ontario from Haliburton Broadcasting Group. The C$12 million deal would have added "Moose FM" stations everywhere from Huntsville and Bancroft up to North Bay and Timmins and west to Kapuskasing and Hearst to Newcap's existing holdings in the Sudbury market - and while Newcap says the stations are still "assets we would like to own sometime in the future," the deal is apparently dead for now.

January 24, 2005 -

  • It's been an exceptionally quiet week on the U.S. side of the border (and it didn't help that the FCC had two days off, either), but at least our friends up in CANADA at the CRTC had a busy few days. The big headline from north of the border was Friday's approval of the C$11,000,000 deal that will put the Radiomedia chain of Quebec AM signals in the hands of Corus, which is trading them for five small-market FM stations that will join the Astral Media group.
  • The transaction closes the books on nearly three years of false starts and unconsummated dealmaking that began when Astral (successor to the Radiomutuel group) bought out Telemedia's half of its joint partnership in Radiomedia, which includes flagship CKAC (730 Montreal), CJRC (1150 Gatineau/Ottawa), CHRC (800 Quebec), CHLN (550 Trois-Rivieres), CHLT (630 Sherbrooke), CKTS (900 Sherbrooke) and CKRS (590 Saguenay), along with CFOM-FM (102.9 Levis) in the Quebec City market. In most of those markets, Astral already had one FM signal, and the addition of the FMs that it also got from Telemedia meant that the AM chain had to be spun off. A plan to sell it to CKAC management fell through, and so did an attempt to sell it to a partnership between the TVA television network and Radio Nord.
  • Now the stations are finally leaving the Astral fold and being transferred to Corus, which plans some big changes. Corus already operates a news-talker in Montreal, CHMP (98.5), which won official CRTC blessing for the talk format as part of the approval of the Radiomedia transaction, and it plans to flip CKAC to a format that's heavy on sports and "health" programming, with none of the political talk that's long been a hallmark of Quebec's oldest French-language radio station. (Corus tells the CRTC that it believes "general interest AM radio is a thing of the past," at least in major markets.)
  • In Quebec, CHRC will take on a sports format. The Gatineau, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivieres stations will take on a news-heavy format, fed largely from Corus' CINF (690) in Montreal. (Corus plans to establish a central newsroom in Montreal to service CINF, CKAC and CHMP, as well as providing news to the regional stations.) And CKRS up in Saguenay is apparently doing well enough to stay largely unchanged. The other half of the deal finds Astral picking up five Corus FMs. CFVM (99.9 Amqui) and CFZZ (104.1 St.-Jean-Iberville) will join Astral's "Boom" oldies network; CJDM (92.1 Drummondville) and CIKI (98.7 Rimouski) will join the "Energie" hits network, and CJOI (102.9 Rimouski) will join the "Rock Detente" soft rock network.
  • A neat community radio station in northwest CONNECTICUT will stay in local hands as it gets sold. Scott Johnson has reached a deal to sell WKZE (1020 Sharon) and WKZE-FM (98.1 Salisbury) to Will Stanley of Rhinebeck, N.Y. Anyone concerned about a change to WKZE's AAA format need have no worries - Stanley created one of the region's first AAAs at the old (and much-missed) WKXE (95.3 White River Junction VT), then repeated the feat at WRSI (95.3 Greenfield MA) a few years later.
  • One NEW JERSEY shift change: WMGQ (98.3 New Brunswick) drops the evening show that David Allan Boucher had been tracking from sister "Magic" station WMJX (106.7 Boston); Leeza Gibbons' syndicated show replaces Boucher weeknights at 7.

January 28, 2000 -

  • The big news in MASSACHUSETTS was the long-awaited return of the WMEX calls to Boston, as Alex Langer premiered his new talk format Monday morning (Jan. 24) on the 1060 signal licensed to Natick, ex-WJLT, WBIV, WTTP, and WGTR. This time around, 1060 is a 40-kilowatt daytimer running from the WKOX site in Framingham, delivering a surprisingly solid signal to most of the market.Programming on the new WMEX begins at 7 AM with business news from the Boston Business Journal, followed by an hour of Langer staple "Health and Fitness Today" with Frankie Boyer. At 10, WMEX is offering Marjorie Clapprood, returning to the air after her ouster last year from WRKO. The rest of the day continues the Boston-veteran theme, with Jerry Williams in-house at the new studios on North Washington Street in Boston, Gene Burns by satellite from San Francisco (with a 2-4 PM block intended solely for Boston), then Upton Bell, held over from the talk format's previous incarnation as WRPT 650 Ashland (which now becomes WJLT, J-Light).
  • We've already heard the usual carping about WMEX's lack of a night signal and about the start-up glitches that can plague any station. We tuned in ourselves (we have ways, you know...) to hear Williams and Burns already absent from the schedule, Burns due to a scheduled trip to Alaska and Williams for who-knows-what reason. And we're concerned about the lack, thus far, of any up-and-coming talk talent on WMEX, but we'll commit to this much: Between WMEX's lineup of veterans and the promotional punch of "FM Talk" WTKK, it's going to be an interesting year for WRKO... (2010 note: is it ever not an interesting year for WRKO?)
  • Elsewhere in the Bay State, we're learning more about the collapse of Catholic Family Radio's deal to buy Ken Carberry's Carter Broadcasting stations. It seems nobody from CFR came to the scheduled November closing for the $15 million deal, even though Carberry had already offered two extensions. Carberry's telling the trades that he still intends to sell the station group, and he's disappointed it won't be to CFR, which he saw as an ideological soulmate. (NERW wonders if CFR perhaps spent too much on transit advertising for its KDIA Vallejo CA; we saw bus ads for the 1640 X-bander all over San Francisco!)
  • Waltham's WRCA (1330) is getting a new owner, as Beasley Broadcasting pays $6 million for the Spanish-language outlet. No word yet on whether changes are in store for the station, though we note that Beasley understands leased-time ethnic operations (like the company's WTEL 860 in Philadelphia).
  • We'll start NEW YORK, for a change, in Binghamton, until now the second-largest market in the state without a Clear Channel outlet (Buffalo, of course, being the largest). Not anymore: Lowry Mays & company are paying $20 million for the Majac of Michigan cluster that ranks #2 in market revenue. Joining Clear Channel, then, are:
  • * sports-talk WENE 1430 Endicott
    * classic rock WKGB 92.5 Susquehanna PA
    * -AC WMXB 103.3 Vestal (already branded as "Mix" -- no CC tweaking needed!)
    * hot AC, verging on CHR, WMRV 105.7 Endicott
    * country WBBI 107.5 Endwell
  • Clear Channel's New York clusters now run seamlessly from Rochester east to Syracuse and Utica, south to Binghamton, and east again to Albany, not to mention the huge ex-Chancellor group in New York City.
  • While we're on the subject, Clear Channel launched its New York State news network, with reporters for WSYR and WGY filing stories to anchors based at Rochester's WHAM. Clear Channel is promising no layoffs, but the company has lost one veteran anchor/reporter: WGY's Peter Rief leaves to join ex-WGY talker Mike Gallagher on his syndicated show. Across town at CC/Albany, WXXA-TV (Channel 23) has launched a new 6:30 PM newscast, joining the Fox affiliate's existing 10 PM effort. And Clear Channel's WQBK-WQBJ and WHRL Albany have a new OM/PD: Susan Groves comes up from Columbia, South Carolina to enjoy the wintry weather in Rod Ryan's old job.
  • Moving west to Buffalo, things are changing fast in the newsrooms of Entercom's WGR (550) and WBEN (930), as the long-awaited consolidation of the stations' separate newsrooms gets underway. Entercom's strategy: make WGR the sports station and WBEN the news-talker, which means the WGR news operation obsolete. Starting Monday, WGR morning host Tom Bauerle (best known now for his, er, probing questions to Hillary Clinton last week) gets Chris "The Bulldog" Parker (formerly WBEN's night sports-talk host) as his co-host in AM drive, WGR's Clip Smith moves to WBEN in the evening, the syndicated Jim Rome show shifts from WWKB (1520) to WGR, and Kevin Keenan becomes the lone newsperson at WGR. The station's longtime news director, Ray Marks, was offered a move to afternoons at WBEN but turned it down citing family concerns. The fate of the rest of WGR's seven-person news team will be decided over the weekend. Some will move to WBEN, others will be let go, and Buffalo will join Rochester and Syracuse on the roster of one-newsroom towns, at least where commercial radio is concerned. (Though NERW thinks we ought at least to be glad that WBEN's anchors will be in Buffalo, not halfway across the state...)
  • Up in the Montpelier/Barre, VERMONT area, the FCC has approved a station move that will put a new 50 kW signal in the state capital. You can thank station owner John Bulmer for figuring this one out; he obtained the CP for 93.7 in Hague NY a few years back, moved it to Addison VT, then traded it for 100.9 (then WGTK) in Middlebury. With that Middlebury class A license in hand, Bulmer was then able to persuade the FCC to move 100.9 (now WWFY) to Berlin, Vermont -- as a class C2 (the equivalent of a full B) allocation! But wait -- it just gets better: Montpelier Broadcasting, aka WNCS, opposed the move, asking instead to open up a new allocation at 100.7A in Hardwick, up in the hills north of Montpelier. The FCC hates to send anyone home unhappy when there's an FM dial to be filled, so Montpelier gets its class A allocation in Hardwick -- at 105.9 instead. No word yet on when the filing window on that one will be opened...
  • Just in time for the primaries (we'll vote for any candidate who'd vow to enforce the legal ID rules!), we cross the river to NEW HAMPSHIRE to find a call change we'd been expecting. WKXL-FM (102.3 Concord) becomes WOTX to match its new "Outlaw" identity, with the WKXL-FM calls to replace WRCI on 107.7 in Hillsboro as soon as the paperwork (or whatever you'd call the new electronic forms) clears. The observation has been made that until this change, every station licensed to Concord was using the same calls they signed on with, and it's true -- except, of course, for Channel 21.

New England Radio Watch, January 26, 1995

  • (No issue - traveling out west)

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