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February 8, 2010

WHHO, RIP

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MONDAY AFTERNOON/TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE: The three-way battle for talk radio listeners in Albany is down to two competitors. Albany Broadcasting is pulling the plug on talk at WROW (590), and we're hearing most of the station's staff, including morning host Steve van Zandt, was let go this morning. (Also out are news director Heidi Kelly and news producer Tom Rigatti; most of the actual WROW newscasts had already been outsourced.) The 590 signal will be simulcasting soft AC/standards WKLI (100.9) for the time being; WROW PD Jackie Donovan, who co-hosted the morning show, stays on as a WKLI jock, we're told. There's no word about a new Albany affiliate for the station's other local show, Susan Arbetter's "Capital Pressroom," which is produced by Syracuse public station WCNY.

WROW's demise is good news for competitor WGDJ (1300 Rensselaer), staffed in large part by former WROW staffers; Clear Channel's WGY (810 Schenectady) is the other talker left standing.

The "Magic" format from WKLI will apparently become WROW's new permanent format in a few months, when a new format arrives on 100.9.

Much more in next week's NERW...

*In the years just after World War II, Hornell, NEW YORK was a happening little place. The small city of 15,000 or so people boasted a daily newspaper, and beginning in 1946, its own FM station, WWHG-FM (105.3), named for newspaper publisher W.H. Greenhow. In 1948, a competing AM outlet, daytimer WLEA (1320), sprouted - and two years after that, the paper launched its own AM daytimer, WWHG (1590), then promptly bought out WLEA, silenced 1590 and moved WWHG down the dial to 1320. (A new WLEA quickly returned to the airwaves as yet another kilowatt daytimer, operating on 1480, where it continues to this day.)

In later years, the AM station on 1320 became WHHO, while the FM became WKPQ. And as of last week, the AM station is off the air, its license cancelled by the FCC for failure to live up to the terms of a 2008 consent decree.

That agreement, which we reported in NERW back on April 7, 2008, obligated licensee Bilbat Radio to pay $20,000 to settle allegations of public-file discrepancies at WHHO and WKPQ. The payments for WKPQ were apparently made, since the FM station was successfully transferred to a new owner (which also ended up with the studio building and transmitter site for both stations, by way of a 2007 foreclosure sale), but the picture for WHHO and owner Bill Berry was less rosy.

Despite an installment-plan agreement under which Berry could have paid WHHO's $10,000 fine (er, "voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury") in ten installments of $1,000 each, it appears that not even a single payment was made.

"Lack of revenue prohibited the timely payment of the fine," Berry said in a statement he released after the FCC sent him a letter denying WHHO's license-renewal application. And by Thursday, the 1320 frequency had fallen silent in Hornell for the first time in more than sixty years.

Assuming this is really the end for WHHO ("deleted" doesn't always mean dead and gone at the FCC, which has been known to reinstate "deleted" stations when an unpaid fine is paid at the last moment), this brings to an end a long, sad saga for WHHO, which has been struggling for survival since Bilbat co-owner Richard "Bat" Lyons fell ill a few years back. (Lyons died in 2006.)

The mess apparently began with several failed attempts to sell WHHO and WKPQ, first to Pennsylvania's Sabrecomm, then to Elmira's Pembrook Pines group; the collapse of the latter deal landed Berry and Lyons in a nasty court battle with Pembrook Pines that found control of the FM station passing back and forth in 2007.

At one point, there was a tentative solution in which Pembrook Pines would have ended up with WKPQ while Berry kept WHHO and received Pembrook's WABH (1380 Bath) as well. That, too, was never consummated, and the foreclosure of the WKPQ/WHHO properties soon followed, along with the sale of the FM license. (WHHO continued to operate out of the joint studio facility, most recently with a format that mixed Fox Sports Radio with some syndicated talk.)

Under its new ownership, WKPQ at least appears to have once again found some stability. As for its erstwhile AM sister, if WHHO is truly dead, the frequency may stay dead for a while: it would take another AM filing window for new applications for 1320 to be accepted, and the FCC no longer grants new class D facilities like WHHO's 5 kW daytime/22 watts night, non-directional, which means a new 1320 would have to employ a more expensive directional antenna system - assuming that other stations in the region don't claim the frequency first by filing minor changes in the meantime.

And perhaps the time for such a facility has simply passed: Hornell's population now numbers barely more than 9,000, and in addition to WKPQ there's radio competition from WLEA and its sister FM, WCKR (92.1), not to mention the daily Tribune. That's a lot of media for a small town, even without one venerable AM station.

*As one western New York station died last week, another was being born. Go west from Hornell 60 miles or so and you come to Little Valley, in Cattaraugus County, where the Seneca Nation signed on WGWE (105.9) last Monday morning at 6, kicking off the broadcast with a traditional Seneca prayer of thanksgiving. WGWE's regular format is Citadel's satellite-delivered classic hits, but the station also has a local morning show and noontime request show, hosted by Mike Smith, aka "Smitty," who left a long stint at Olean's WPIG to join the station. It's based in a former convenience store in Salamanca, and its 7 kW/626' class B1 signal reaches north almost to Erie County and west almost to the Pennsylvania state line. WGWE (the calls come from a Seneca word that means "what's up") is also carrying Buffalo Bandits lacrosse games, and plans to add high school sports to its schedule as well.

*Two more new signals could come to the upstate airwaves in the next few years, depending on the outcome of a special FCC auction scheduled for July 20. The "closed" auction will be limited to applicants who'd already filed mutually-exclusive applications for 18 contested frequencies around the country.

Among those facilities is a new signal on 750 in Lansing or South Hill, near Ithaca, where applicants Romar Communications and KM Communications have been waiting for more than a decade for the FCC to take action on their applications. The minimum bid for that auction will be $75,000 - assuming either applicant is still interested in bidding, of course.

In the Hudson Valley, a new class A on 102.5 in Rosendale, near Poughkeepsie, attracted interest from eight applicants, including Marist College, Sacred Heart University, Aritaur Broadcasting and former Hudson Valley station owner Eric Straus. They'll have to come up with at least $100,000 if they're still interested in pursuing the applications they all filed back in 1996.

*Downstate, the big news came from Clear Channel, where veteran WKTU (103.5) middayer Diane Prior disappeared from the schedule last week after 14 years with the station. No permanent replacement has been named, though overnighter Bartel was covering the shift last week.

Out on Long Island, Barnstable is about to pull the plug on its AC format at WLVG (96.1 Center Moriches), using the signal to simulcast its Nassau County "K-Joy" (WKJY 98.3 Hempstead) to Suffolk County listeners. March 1 is the target date for "KJOY 96.1 Suffolk" to make its debut, replacing the former "Love 96."

A phone prank at New York's WSKQ-FM (97.9) turned out to be an expensive one for the SBS station: "Mega 97.9" is now on the hook for $16,000 for an August 2007 call in which a listener's wife was told (falsely) that her husband had died in a motorcycle crash. While the woman gave the station permission after the call to broadcast it, the FCC reminded WSKQ that permission has to be obtained at the start of the call - and it warns that future violations "may result in harsher enforcement action, including license revocation proceedings."

There's an overnight change at WABC (770): "Coast to Coast AM" is gone from the New York market for now (though it can still be heard on plenty of out-of-market signals), replaced by a new version of "Red Eye Radio," the Los Angeles-based overnight show hosted by KABC (790)'s Doug McIntyre, who's also been doing fill-in work in early mornings on WABC.

A new Catholic broadcaster near Binghamton has call letters: mark down "WWSA" for St. Anthony of Padua's 88.1 in Greene. The class B1 station will primarily serve an area northeast of Binghamton that includes Norwich and Whitney Point.

Up north, North Country Public Radio has calls for its new full-power 91.7 signal in Lake Placid, too: they're "WXLL."

There's another AM-on-FM translator coming to central New York: Northeast Gospel Network is selling Herkimer translator W292CN (106.3) to Roser Communications Network for $30,000. But the translator, which has been relaying WNGN (91.9 Argyle), won't stay in Herkimer: it has a CP to move to 95.5, and it looks to be heading west toward Utica, where it will presumably relay Roser's WUTQ (1550). Roser already has a translator for its Amsterdam AM, WVTL (1570), which now operates as "Lite 104.7."

Down the road in Little Falls, Michael Celenza has filed to sell unbuilt construction permit WKAJ (1120) to John Tesiero's Cranesville Block Company, Inc., for $11,000. Tesiero also owns WCSS (1490) in Amsterdam, and it appears WKAJ, once built, will simulcast WCSS programming.

Don Imus is again losing a Syracuse affiliate: Clear Channel's WHEN (620) replaces the I-Man with Fox Sports' Stephen A. Smith starting March 5. WHEN had carried Imus on and off until the end of his old show in 2007; the station picked up Imus' new Citadel show in April 2009.

On TV, Matthew Malyn is the new news director at Rochester's WHAM-TV (Channel 13). Malyn was assistant news director at Newport sister station KTVX (Channel 4) in Salt Lake City; he replaces Steve Dawe, who's now across town at public broadcaster WXXI.

In New York City, WNBC (Channel 4) is joining the early wakeup club: starting March 1, it will join WPIX (Channel 11) in starting its morning news at 4:30 AM, instead of 5.

And we note with sadness the passing of Cecil Heftel, the entrepreneur who built several clusters of radio stations including the group that became the core of today's Univision Radio, over four decades in the business. Heftel's first northeastern acquisition was Pittsburgh's WJAS (1320) in 1973, which was soon renamed WKTQ ("13Q") for a short but very memorable run as a screaming top-40 station. Heftel sold WKTQ in 1976 when he entered the world of politics as a congressman from Hawaii; while he removed himself from day-to-day operations, his company went on to buy WWEL/WWEL-FM in Boston in 1979, relaunching the stations as top-40 "Kiss 108" WXKS-FM and "Music of Your Life" WXKS 1430. (The original Heftel group was sold off not long after that; by 1982, WXKS/WXKS-FM were in the hands of Pyramid Broadcasting.)

After serving five terms, Heftel lost a 1986 bid for governor of Hawaii. That same year, he returned to radio, entering the New York market with the purchase of WADO (1280) and later WPAT (930 Paterson). A decade later, he merged his company with Texas-based Tichenor Media to create a larger Heftel group, which added WNWK (105.9 Newark, later WCAA and the ancestor of today's WXNY 96.3) to the cluster in 1998 in exchange for WPAT and $115 million.

Heftel also served as a congressman from Hawaii from 1976-1986. He died on Friday (Feb. 5) in San Diego, at age 85.

 

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*Head south of the state line, and the big story from PENNSYLVANIA and NEW JERSEY was the weekend storm that ripped across the mid-Atlantic region, dumping more than two feet of snow on some areas that are typically unaccustomed to that much snow.

In the Pittsburgh area, power outages and heavy winds knocked many stations off the air on Friday, temporarily silencing even some bigger AM signals such as Clear Channel's WBGG (970) and Renda's WJAS (1320), as well as many smaller stations in outlying areas. At least one new station rose to the challenge: WKVE (103.1 Mount Pleasant), which has been testing, fired up its transmitter with a loop of emergency information for Greene and Fayette counties. (NERW hears APD Michael J. Daniels deserves the credit for keeping WKVE and its sister stations on the air, including a night spent sleeping on the floor at the studio. We're sure there are other stories of radio heroism out there to share, too - send them along and we'll add them to the column!)

To the east, the problem on the Jersey shore was high winds, which silenced several Atlantic City signals and most of the dial in Cape May County (including the only local TV news outlet, WMGM-TV) for much of the weekend. There's no word, so far, of any permanent damage; we'll provide updates, of course, as we learn more about the storm's aftermath.

*Three stations in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market changed hands last week as WS2K Radio LLC (the remnant of the old Route 81 group) exited the market, closing on its sale of WLNP (94.3 Carbondale), WNAK (730 Nanticoke) and WCDL (1440 Carbondale) to Bold Gold, which paid just $500,000 for the three stations - barely more than the $475,000 that Route 81 paid for WNAK alone back in 2003. (WCDL and what's now WLNP came as part of a $2.5 million purchase from Citadel that also included WAZL in Hazleton and WHYL in Carlisle.)

Bold Gold adds the three signals to a cluster that already includes WWRR (104.9 Scranton) and the "Game" AM network (WICK 1400 Scranton/WYCK 1340 Plains/WFBS 1280 Berwick); for now, WLNP is in a temporary simulcast of WWRR ("The River") while the AMs are silent awaiting a new format.

Over at Entercom's Scranton cluster, Mike O'Donnell (aka "OD") is the new PD (or "director of music station operations," as his business card reads) for WGGY (Froggy 101), adding Doc Medek's old Froggy duties to his existing PD work for WKRZ (98.5) and WDMT (102.3).

*Back in Pittsburgh, there's now a schedule in place at the new "Sportsradio 93.7 the Fan," CBS Radio's KDKA-FM, set to launch a week from today.

Paul Alexander, late of FSN Pittsburgh, will anchor the morning show from 6-10 alongside former WTAE-TV sports anchor Jon Burton and former WEAE (1250) host Jim Colony. Vinnie Richichi arrives from Seattle's KIRO and KCPQ-TV to host the midday (10-2) shift alongside Post-Gazette sports columnist Ron Cook. From 2-6 PM, it's former ESPN host John Seibel and ex-Tribune-Review sportswriter Joe Starkey, and in the evenings Greg Giannotti will host from 6-10 PM. (As we reported last week, Giannotti comes to Pittsburgh from sister CBS sports station WFAN in New York, where he was a producer and fill-in host.)

Down the street at Clear Channel's WBGG (Fox Sports Radio 970), there's a new morning show in place to try to counter the "Fan" assault: Greg Linelli has been promoted from producer to morning host there.

*A day before KDKA-FM launches, there will be another station launch in the Steel City: St. Joseph Mission plans to kick off its new Catholic radio trimulcast on WAOB-FM (106.7 Beaver Falls, ex-WAMO-FM), WAOB (860 Millvale, ex-WAMO) and WPGR (1510 Monroeville) with a live broadcast of a Mass from Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg on Sunday (Feb. 14). With the exception of some brief test periods, the stations have been silent since September 8, when St. Joseph took over from former owner Sheridan Broadcasting.

The FCC has granted two new noncommercial construction permits in Pennsylvania: Four Rivers Community Broadcasting gets 7.5 kW/230' on 89.1 in Mohrsville, north of Reading, for its "Word FM" Christian network, while Penn-Jersey Educational Radio gets 160 watts/10' on 90.5 in Easton to extend the reach of its WDVR (89.7 Delaware Township) into the Lehigh Valley.

On TV, Christian station WGCB-TV (Channel 49) in Red Lion will remain off DirecTV's local-channels package in the Harrisburg/Lancaster/York market until at least the end of 2011. The station failed to file its "must-carry" request with DirecTV during the 2008 election cycle, and last week the FCC denied its request for a waiver that would have put it back on the satellite. WGCB said the forms weren't filed because of the Sept. 28, 2008 death of station founder John Norris. The station says the 88-year-old Norris was "quite literally at the helm of the company until his death and was solely responsible for FCC compliance matters and all regulatory issues," but the FCC says there should have been some sort of backup plan in place in the event of Norris' illness or death.

*More NEW JERSEY news: Tommy Jordan is out as morning man at WPST (94.5 Trenton) after a decade and a half; Chris Rollins is now helming "Chris & Crew" in morning drive at PST.

And there's one Garden State translator frequency in there amidst the FCC's upcoming Auction 88: CTS Communications and Penn-Jersey Educational Radio both applied to operate on 102.5 in the Manahawkin/Warren Grove area; they'll have to come up with at least a minimum bid of $500 to compete for that channel at auction come July.

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*It was another quiet week in MASSACHUSETTS - especially in the overnight hours at Greater Media's WMJX (106.7 Boston), where overnight host Michael Burns has been shifted from live to voicetracking, ending one of the last live overnight DJ shifts in the city. Night jock David Allan Boucher adds an extra hour to his show, continuing live until 1 AM instead of midnight.

*Radio People on the Move in VERMONT: John Domigan makes the move from Parkersburg, West Virginia's WRZZ to Burlington-market WWMP (103.3 Waterbury), where he's the new APD and afternoon jock. Down US 7 in Bennington, budget cuts have forced Rich Ryder out of mornings at community station WBTN (1370) after nine years.

*Don Imus is returning to the Bangor, MAINE market, where he used to be heard on WWMJ (95.7 Ellsworth). Imus' new home in the market is on former WEEI affiliate WAEI (97.1/910), where he joins the Fox Sports lineup now being heard on the Blueberry Broadcasting stations.

The FCC has granted another construction permit to Light of Life Ministries, this one for 50 kW/128' DA on 88.1 in Bowdoin, halfway between Lewiston and Augusta with a directional pattern aimed up and down I-95 at both cities.

*In CONNECTICUT, John Mayer replaces Trey Morgan as APD/afternoon jock at WKCI (101.3 New Haven).

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*One of CANADA's oldest TV newsrooms is a smoky, waterlogged mess today, and it may be a while before the newspeople at CTV's CJOH (Channel 13) in Ottawa can return to their usual home base on the second floor of CJOH's Merivale Road studios in suburban Nepean after a fire ripped through the facility early Sunday morning.

Nobody was working in the newsroom when the fire broke out overnight, and by the time a security guard summoned firefighters, there had already been extensive damage (estimated at over $2 million) to the newsroom, including the apparent destruction of most of CJOH's archives.

The show must go on, of course, and CJOH's news staff is relocating to the A Channel (CHRO) newsroom at Byward Market in downtown Ottawa for the next few days, at least. Fortunately for them (if not for Ottawa news consumers), the space was available after CTV cancelled most of the local news product on A Channel.

As of Sunday afternoon, CTV was considering its options, which include the possibility of moving CJOH's operations out of the Merivale building for good. CTV sold the building several years ago and had been leasing it back.

*One of Ottawa's new FM stations wants to change transmitter locations. Frank Torres is asking the CRTC for permission to move CIDG (Dawg FM 101.9) from its originally-proposed home at 920 Lansdowne Street to an existing tower atop an apartment building at 641 Bathgate Drive, dropping the antenna height from 115.6 to 98 meters and altering power from 3 kW max/1.3 kW average to 4.5 kW max/934 watts average ERP.

Another one of Ottawa's new FM stations has been granted a new frequency: Radio de la Communaute Francophone d'Ottawa had applied for 101.7, but the grant of 101.9 to CIDG forced the French-language community group to find a new frequency. After conducting tests in collaboration with Astral Media (which ended up with yet another new Ottawa FM, at 99.7), the new French-language station has now been approved for 94.5 on the dial, second-adjacent to Astral's CIMF on 94.9.

And Toronto radio listeners are losing one of their most familiar morning voices. CBC Radio One's Andy Barrie announced last week that he's leaving "Metro Morning" after 15 years as host of the show on CBLA (99.1, and before that on CBL 740). Barrie's retirement was somewhat expected; he's been battling Parkinson's disease, he just turned 65, and he lost his wife to lung cancer a year ago.

"If we go back to my student radio days hosting something called The Suppertime Show in university, I've been doing daily radio now for forty-five of my sixty-five years. Forty-five years of me doing the talking and you doing the listening. Well, it's that part of the conversation where it's time to say, well, enough about me," Barrie told listeners in an e-mail announcing his decision last Monday.

Barrie came to the CBC in 1995 after nearly two decades in Toronto radio and TV, mostly at CFRB (1010). The Baltimore native, who came to Canada in 1969 as a Vietnam War objector, says he'll continue to be heard from time to time as a contributor to CBC shows, but he'll leave the early-morning hours behind when he does his last show Feb. 26.

No replacement has been named so far.

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!)

February 9, 2009 -

  • It didn't get the nationwide attention that Clear Channel drew for its massive job cuts a couple of weeks ago, but Cumulus made some big cuts of its own on Friday, and at least in some markets the pain went just as deep, proportionally, as did the Clear Channel cuts last month. The worst-hit, at least in this region, appears to be the cluster in CONNECTICUT's Fairfield County, where WICC (600 Bridgeport) and WEBE (107.9 Westport) lost more than half a dozen staffers on Friday afternoon.
  • Gone from WICC are news director/morning news anchor Tim Quinn, who'd been with WICC for 36 years; afternoon news anchor Paul Pacelli, who'll continue with the station as a part-timer; 1-4 PM talk host David Smith and 4-7 PM talk host Brian Smith. The syndicated Clark Howard show will move into the 1-4 PM slot, while Jim Buchanan's "Talk of the Town" show moves to afternoons to replace Brian Smith - which in turn puts Dennis Miller in Buchanan's former 10 AM-1 PM slot. So if you're keeping track - that means a station that was doing live talk from 5 AM until 7 PM with three newspeople is now doing local talk only in morning and afternoon drive, with a full-time news staff of one. Good for the short-term bottom line? Sure - but it's certainly not going to do anything for WICC's long-term outlook, or to draw more listeners to local radio in general over the long run.
  • This Week in the DTV Follies: Now that Congress has voted to extend the deadline for the shutoff of analog full-power TV to June 12, with President Obama poised to sign the delay into law early this week, TV stations have until tonight at midnight to notify the FCC about their plans to stay on or shut off on the original schedule. As we "go to press" Sunday night, the situation remained fluid in many markets, with station managers nervously looking right and left to see how their competitors plan to handle the situation.
  • The Cumulus cuts affected MAINE as well, where we're hearing Damien Brown is out at WBZN (107.3 Old Town), where he was doing afternoons.
  • Up the road in Dexter, EMF Broadcasting wasted no time flipping WGUY (102.1) from oldies to its satellite-delivered "K-Love" contemporary Christian format late last week. Sister station WFZX (101.7 Searsport), which is also being purchased by EMF, is still running the oldies format that it was simulcasting with WGUY, but that should change any day now.
  • Hall Communications made a surprise format flip on its RHODE ISLAND AM signal and its southeastern Massachusetts simulcast sister last week. WLKW (1450 West Warwick RI) and WNBH (1340 New Bedford MA) had been carrying the "Timeless Favorites" satellite-fed standards format, but a hole in the market opened up when Citadel flipped WSKO AM/FM away from their "Score" sports format last year - so as of last Monday, WLKW and WNBH are carrying ESPN Radio sports talk on a full-time basis.

February 7, 2005 -

  • If the key to market dominance comes from owning all of the biggest signals in that market, then Qantum Communications is about to dominate the eastern tip of MASSACHUSETTS. Frank Osborn's cluster already includes Cape Cod's top-40 WRZE (96.3 Nantucket), classic hits WCIB (101.9 Falmouth) and rocker WPXC (102.9 Hyannis) - and now Osborn has struck a $21.3 million deal to acquire the Cape cluster that belonged to the late Ernie Boch, Sr.
  • The sale closes down Boch Broadcasting after a very successful decade or so, and it will give Qantum four of the Cape's seven full class B FM signals, adding Boch's news-talk WXTK (95.1 West Yarmouth) and AC WCOD (106.1 Hyannis) to WRZE and WCIB. To stay clear of the FCC's market-concentration rules, Boch's oldies simulcast of WTWV (101.1 Mashpee) and WDVT (93.5 Harwich Port) will be put in a trust along with WPXC, pending eventual sale. (All three are lower-powered class A signals.)
  • Is it the end of the line for one of NEW HAMPSHIRE's oldest radio stations? After 47 years at 502 West Hollis Street in Nashua, WSMN (1590) signed off Tuesday evening (Feb. 1) at 6:00. As had been rumored for some time, WSMN lost the lease on the land that was home to its studio building and three-tower directional array, and it's not easy to find space - or zoning permission - for a new directional array these days. In recent years, WSMN had been leased out, running business news as "The Tiger 1590." With that frequency silent, WSNH (900 Nashua) running a steady diet of ESPN sports and WHOB (106.3 Nashua) operating from new studios in Hooksett, there's not really a local station in Nashua anymore.
  • On a happier note - or at least one that doesn't involve any stations going dark - Nassau did some restructuring of its new holdings in Concord and the Lakes Region last Friday (Feb. 4) at noon, moving country from "Outlaw Country" WOTX (102.3 Concord) to what had been classic rock WNHI (93.3 Belmont), which becomes "93.3 the Wolf" and keeps Don Imus as a holdover from the old WNHI. The classic rock, in turn, moves to 102.3 as "The Hawk," which will share the format and the nickname with the former "Big 101.5," WBHG (101.5 Meredith).
  • In NEW YORK, WQHT (97.1) is bringing back its "Miss Jones" morning show on Wednesday, minus producer Rick Del Gado and cast member Todd Lynn, as it attempts to address the controversy over the "We Are the World" parody that the show aired a few weeks after the Asian tsunami. Del Gado and Lynn lost their jobs for their role in creating the song, while the remainder of the show's cast - save for "Miss Info," who does the news - ended up with two-week unpaid suspensions, with their salaries being donated to tsunami relief. Station owner Emmis Communications will also make a $1 million donation to the relief fund.
  • It's a very long way from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the East End of Long Island, but Cherry Creek Radio is making that jump. The small group operator based in the Denver suburbs is paying $12 million to pick up AAA Entertainment's four-station cluster out east, which includes AAA (the format, that is) WEHM (92.9 Southampton), Bloomberg business news WHBE (96.7 East Hampton), rhythmic top 40 WBEA (101.7 Southold) and soft AC WBAZ (102.5 Bridgehampton). This is Cherry Creek's first outing east of the Mississippi; its other 32 stations are all out west, from the Tri-Cities of Washington to the California desert to rural Colorado. And the deal takes Rhode Island-based AAA completely out of the broadcast business in the northeast, leaving it with clusters of stations in Illinois.
  • In PENNSYLVANIA, the long-running rumor of a Philadelphia morning show move appears to be true: All Access reports that Y100 (WPLY 100.3 Media) will lose Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison to Greater Media's crosstown WMMR (93.3 Philadelphia) in a few months. The move will no doubt spark message-board chatter about a format change at the Radio One modern rocker, but we've heard those rumors often enough before. As always...stay tuned.

February 11, 2000 -

  • The revolving door of radio talent spun again this week in MASSACHUSETTS, with most of the spinning taking place at 55 Morrissey Boulevard, the Greater Media broadcast center. As we suspected last week, WBOS (92.9 Brookline) morning host Robin Young is out the door, with 'BOS veteran David O'Leary taking on wakeup duty at the AAA-ish AC (and again, we'll forswear any format-change speculation!). But wait -- there's more, and it's happening down the hall at WROR (105.7 Framingham), where Jimmy Roberts and Dan Justin are both out. The new lineup after morning institutions Loren and Wally finds Stella Mars handling middays, followed by fellow 'BOS survivor Julie Devereaux in afternoons. J.J. Wright stays on board but moves to evenings, with Chuck Igo continuing on the overnight shift.
  • Across town in Waltham, Ralphie Marino is leaving WJMN (94.5 Boston), but this one's a voluntary departure, and for an awfully good reason: he's headed to mornings in market #1, at WKTU (103.5 Lake Success NY). No word yet on who'll take over afternoons at Jam'n.
  • The largest radio groups in two NEW YORK cities changed hands this week, as Forever Broadcasting's sale to Regent Communications closed. In Utica, Regent's new holdings include country giant WFRG (104.3), news-talker WIBX (950), and AC WLZW (98.7), while the Watertown group includes country giant WFRY (97.5), news-talker WTNY (790), and rocker WCIZ (93.3).
  • Buffalo news veteran Ray Marks has landed on his feet after the shutdown of his old WGR (550) newsroom. Marks has been named news director at WJTN (1240) and WWSE (93.3) down in Jamestown, which is great news for listeners down that way. As for Entercom/Buffalo, we note that in addition to the simulcast of WKSE-FM, WWKB (1520) continues to run the "Road Gang" truckers' show overnight and a slate of leased-time talk on Saturday mornings.

New England Radio Watch, February 11, 1995

  • We've been "Blessed!" Well, that's what you'd think to tune in AM 1510 here in Boston. Yes, they've finally changed calls to WNRB(AM), "Boston's Blessing."
    Programming is satellite-delivered contemporary christian music, although one liner mentions that there will also be some religious teaching, both national and local. WNRB is the only station currently owned by Communicom, and as such it now ID's as "The 50 thousand watt flagship station of Communicom."

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