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March 8, 2010

It's Go Time for "Rush Radio 1200"

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Q: Why is Howie Carr walking into the WRKO studios very slowly today?

A: Well, there's no Rush...

*That groaner, which neatly sums up the big radio news this week from eastern MASSACHUSETTS, comes to us courtesy of fellow radio observer (and WMWM weekend host) Bob Nelson, who's been as absorbed as anyone in the long saga of Clear Channel's launch of a new talk radio station in Boston.

After spending many years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars moving suburban WKOX (1200 Framingham) into Boston, Clear Channel initially moved fairly slowly on changing the AM station's format, leaving the Spanish tropical "Rumba" programming in place on 1200 for a year or so after WKOX had powered up to 50,000 watts from a new city of license, Newton, and a new transmitter site within sight of the Boston city line.

But for all that deliberation, today's launch of the long-expected talk format on what's now WXKS, "Rush Radio 1200," still ends up having the feel of a - pardon the pun - rush job. The new station was apparently due to launch April 1, but once it became clear that Clear Channel was pulling its Premiere Radio Network programming away from established affiliate WRKO (680 Boston), that date was moved up somewhat abruptly, leaving "Rush Radio" to launch without a morning show or a fully fleshed-out weekend schedule.

"Rush Radio" debuts at noon today with its namesake, Rush Limbaugh - and for the next few weeks at least, Rush will double as the station's morning man, with "best-of" reruns filling the 6-9 AM slot until a promised (and as-yet-unannounced) local morning show makes its debut. The rest of the schedule is right off the bird: Sean Hannity at 3 PM, Jason Lewis (from KTLK-FM Minneapolis) at 6 PM, Mark Levin at 9 PM, Coast-to-Coast AM at midnight and Glenn Beck at 9 AM. Weekend mornings are still "TBA," and weekend afternoons and evenings are all "best-of" shows from Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck.

Faced with the inevitable loss of one of its flagship shows, Entercom's WRKO wasted no time lining up a local host to go up against Limbaugh beginning this afternoon. Charley Manning is a veteran Republican political consultant in Boston, and no stranger to radio talk, having been a co-host of WRKO's "Spin Doctors" show in the nineties as well as a commentator on WBZ (1030), WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and WCVB-TV (Channel 5) in more recent years.

So how does it all stack up? Here's our armchair analysis:

Clear Channel knows how to program a successful talk station. Whether it's KFI in Los Angeles or WLW in Cincinnati or WOAI in San Antonio or WFLA in Tampa or even WHAM here in our hometown of Rochester, there's no shortage of examples of market-dominating Clear Channel talkers, albeit ones with a common thread: all have long histories of local full-service radio that long predate Clear Channel ownership.

When it comes to creating new talk stations, though, Clear Channel's more recent model has been far less local - and far less successful. In Minneapolis and Pittsburgh, Clear Channel found some traction by moving its Premiere talk lineup (Beck/Rush/Hannity/Coast-to-Coast) from established AM affiliates to new FM signals, and more recently it followed that model down south by launching "Rush Radio" in two North Carolina markets.

Along the way, though, the product appears to be getting skimpier and skimpier. While KTLK-FM Minneapolis serves as Jason Lewis' flagship station and WPGB Pittsburgh originates "Quinn and Rose" in the mornings and carries Pirates baseball, the North Carolina signals offer only low-budget local morning shows - which is apparently all the local content WXKS will provide in Boston, too, and that not even for a few weeks to come.

"Rush Radio" in Boston comes to the plate with a few more strikes against it, too: even with 50,000 watts of power, it will have by far the worst signal of Boston's three prominent talk stations, lacking even the limited suburban nighttime coverage of WRKO, much less the full-market FM signal of Greater Media's increasingly dominant WTKK (96.9).

And Boston is one of the most locally-focused talk markets in the country. As Charley Manning's inaugural guest today on WRKO, newly-elected senator Scott Brown, would gladly tell you, his come-from-behind win was powered in large part by support from Boston's local talkers on WRKO and WTKK. Limbaugh's numbers on WRKO lagged substantially behind his ratings at New York's WABC, and Hannity barely registered in the ratings when he was last heard in Boston on the now-defunct Salem talker WTTT (1150).

Will "Rush Radio" on WXKS do better than the old WTTT did? Clear Channel will certainly spend more on promotion, including on-air promos on sister FM station "Kiss 108" (WXKS-FM), whose Ed McMann is loaning his pipes to AM 1200 as the station's promo voice.

But with a middling signal, a lack of local talk content, little to no local news and strong, spirited competition from WRKO and WTKK, it's hard to imagine "Rush Radio" ending up as much more than a second-tier talker in a market where only the strongest talkers thrive.

Entercom's not out of the woods yet, either: it still needs to fix the problematic Tom Finneran morning show, establish Manning as a daily solo talker and pay off the expensive Red Sox contract on sister station WEEI, while at the same time fending off an all-local FM lineup on WTKK. But it's becoming increasingly clear why Entercom didn't waste much energy fighting the removal of Rush to the new WXKS: absent some compelling talk about local issues, "Rush Radio" won't be much more than a niche player when the dust settles.

One more note about Clear Channel's AM lineup in Boston: while there was early word that "Rumba" would move up the dial to smaller sister WXKS (1430 Everett), it now appears that "Rumba" is gone (and its local staff with it), leaving the Spanish AC "Mia" format from Clear Channel's Premium Choice internal syndication in place on 1430, which now bears the WKOX calls.

*Still looking for examples of the loyalty Boston audiences show to stations and personalities who provide them with local content? Look no further than the mourning last week for Don Kent, who pioneered TV weather in Boston when he came to WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and WBZ (1030) in 1951. Kent was already a broadcasting veteran, having begun his career on WMEX in 1935 and then on Quincy's WJDA after his service in World War II.

At WBZ, Kent's forecasts became an institution, and he was renowned for the accuracy of his predictions during a career that encompassed everything from Hurricane Carol in 1954 to the Blizzard of '78.

Kent retired from WBZ-TV in 1983, but continued to be heard on radio for two more decades, most recently at WQRC.

He died March 2 in New Hampshire, where he had been living. Don Kent was 92.

*WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston) has set a start date and picked a host for the new daily edition of its "Radio Boston" talk show. Megna Chakrabarti, who's been a fill-in host on WBUR's "Here & Now," will take over from Jane Clayson, who's been hosting "Radio Boston" in its weekly incarnation, when the show goes daily on May 3. Iris Adler, late of New England Cable News, joins WBUR as executive producer of "Radio Boston." Clayson will remain with WBUR on a part-time basis as a fill-in "On Point" host; she'll also do some work for "Here & Now."

Out on Martha's Vineyard, five applicants lined up to bid for a new class A noncommercial facility on 104.3 in West Tisbury: Martha's Vineyard Community Radio, Hispanic Family Christian Network of Texas, Cape Cod Catholic Radio, Calvary Chapel of Cape Cod and New Bedford Christian Radio (which already owns WFHL 88.1 in New Bedford).

*There's a talk radio shuffle in RHODE ISLAND too, albeit on a much smaller scale. Citadel's WPRO (630 Providence) swaps timeslots next week for Buddy Cianci and Dan Yorke, giving Cianci the prime afternoon shift from 2-6 PM and moving the veteran Yorke to middays, from 10-2, up against Glenn Beck and the first two hours of Rush Limbaugh on competitor WHJJ (920).

*Thursday's the launch date for two CONNECTICUT radio veterans who are joining Cox's WCTZ (96.7 Port Chester NY) in the Stamford-Norwalk market. Peter Bush, most recently heard on WEBE (107.9 Westport) and on WKCI, WABC and WPLJ before that, will be doing mornings, while veteran programmer Pete Salant (most recently of WWYZ in Hartford) takes afternoons on "The Coast." To avoid the whole "Peter and Pete" thing, Salant will be using the air name "Mike Stone."

There's a new look coming to ABC affiliate WTNH (Channel 8) next month. After 13 years as "News Channel 8," WTNH will rebrand as simply "News 8," with a new logo that was unveiled during Sunday night's Oscars telecast.

Here's a "Where Are They Now?" coincidence: former WCTZ morning host Chris Duggan, more recently seen at WMAS in Springfield and WSNE in Providence, has just landed a new PD gig across the border at CJCH-FM (101.3 the Bounce) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he replaces Rob Basile.

And we're sorry to report the death of Vinnie Banda, whose "Saturday Morning Mayhem" was a fixture on the Waterbury radio dial, first on WWCO (1240) and for the last thirteen years on WATR (1320). Banda died Wednesday (March 3) after a battle with leukemia.

*In MAINE, Tory Ryden has departed Portland-market ABC affiliate WMTW-TV (Channel 8), where she'd been solo anchor at 6 and 11 since co-anchor Jon Camp's contract wasn't renewed. Ryden's resume includes anchor stints in Boston at WBZ-TV and WFXT, as well as earlier radio and TV work in Maine.

WMTW's former radio sisters have a new affiliation: WLVP (870 Gorham) and WLAM (1470 Lewiston) have picked up Citadel's True Oldies Channel satellite service, we hear.

Down the coast in Camden, MPBN's WMEP (90.5) came back on the air Friday afternoon, recovering faster than expected from the winter storm that damaged its antenna a week earlier.

*We know a little more now about the aftermath of that storm that ripped across NEW HAMPSHIRE a week ago, and it will be a long recovery for Saga's cluster of stations in Manchester. The sales and business staff of WZID/WMLL/WFEA have relocated to temporary quarters in Merrimack while cleanup crews replace waterlogged flooring and walls at their building at 500 N. Commercial Street, where thousands of gallons of water rushed through the office after the storms tore part of the roof off the structure. The on-air staff remains in the building, working around the damage as best they can. (Want to see the damage close-up? WZID's Jordan Wilder posted a video tour of the wreckage last week...)

*It's not quite a format change, but one of Steve Silberberg's Burlington, VERMONT stations has new calls and a new slogan. WLFE (102.3 Grand Isle) became WIER, "102.3 the Wire, High Voltage Rock" at the beginning of the month, complete with a new website at

Over at the Vox cluster, Tara Madison is the new morning co-host at WEZF (92.9 Burlington), where she's inbound from WAZY in Lafayette, Indiana to take the seat long held by Lana Wilder on what's now the "Live with Nolan and Tara" morning show.



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*The big headlines in NEW YORK over the weekend came from the suburbs of New York City, where dominant local cable giant Cablevision and broadcast behemoth ABC locked horns in one of those retransmission disputes that are becoming an increasingly common, and increasingly unpleasant, part of the media business landscape. There was a lot at stake in this particular dispute, which pulled New York's WABC-TV (Channel 7) out of millions of cable homes in the number-one TV market just hours before the Oscar telecast. (It also affected some carriage of sister station WPVI Philadelphia in central New Jersey.)

While both sides tried to rally public support ("Cablevision has betrayed you again," read WABC's crawl moments before channel 7 went dark in cable homes; "Stop the TV Tax," was Cablevision's take on Disney's demand for new retransmission-consent fees), public reaction suggests that viewers are becoming increasingly annoyed at all parties in these feuds, which invariably end - sooner or later - with cable carriage returning, and higher bills to consumers.

That appears to be the denoument in New York, where WABC-TV and WPVI were back on Cablevision a few minutes after the Oscars broadcast began, with final details of the arrangement still being hammered out.

*In Syracuse, the last pieces of the big Sports Shuffle of 2010 fell into place on Friday, as Galaxy launched ESPN Radio on its WTLA (1200 North Syracuse, and translator on 97.7) and WSGO (1440 Oswego, and translator on 100.1), as well as on its Utica sports stations WTLB (1310 Utica), WRNY (1350 Rome) and WIXT (1230 Little Falls). reports on a few of the last bits of fallout from the shuffle, which pulled ESPN from Utica-market affiliate WNRS (1420 Herkimer) and Syracuse's WNSS (1260, now "Score" WSKO): while WSKO is now up and running with a lineup including Don Imus, Sporting News Radio and local host Brent Axe, WNRS has picked up Fox Sports Radio during the day and Bloomberg's business news in the afternoons and evenings. WNRS was already an Imus affiliate, and he remains in place in morning drive on the station now known as "1420 AM, the Fox."

Syndicated host Delilah, who'd aired on WNSS' Citadel sister station WLTI (105.9) before its flip to talk last week, has landed on Clear Channel's WYYY-FM (94.5) in evenings, following the equally syndicated John Tesh.

Amidst the chaos at the big Syracuse clusters, there's a change at the Craig Fox stations: Yo Sunny Joe, who'd been with "Movin" WMVN (100.3 Sylvan Beach) since 2007, was pink-slipped from his position as production director for the cluster (which also includes country WOLF-FM and Radio Disney affiliate WOLF) and as afternoon jock on Movin.

But wait, there's more: Jon Alvarez, who'd been hosting the only local weekday hour on talker WFBL (1390 Syracuse)/WMCR (1600 Oneida), ended his noontime show Friday after just five months at the station. If there was a connection between Alvarez' departure and the publicity he received a couple of weeks ago for creating a quickly-deleted Facebook fan page for that Texas pilot who flew his plane into an IRS office, nobody's talking about it.

In Ithaca, WFIZ (95.5 Odessa) is shifting its air talent around: PD "Corey" moves from nights to mornings, alongside new hire "Nikii," replacing "Birdman," who's no longer at the station.

*The FCC's application window for several new noncommercial frequencies around the country slammed shut last week, and religious broadcasters made up most of the applicant pool for the available channels around NERW-land.

In Rhinebeck, near Kingston, 11 applicants piled on in hopes of winning the construction permit for a new class A signal on 102.5: Poughkeepsie's Marist College, Albany public broadcaster WMHT, PZK Hudson Foundation Radio, Texas-based Grace Public Radio, Birds of a Feather Media Ltd., Counterpoint Communications, Christian Media Associates, Calvary Chapel of the Hudson Valley, Somos la Llave del Futuro, Dennis Jackson's Foothills Public Radio and Michael Celenza's JCM Radio of NY, Inc.

Near Buffalo, 10 applicants filed for 92.1A in Amherst: Medaille College, Indiana-based Triangle Foundation, Texas-based Hispanic Family Christian Network, Lockport Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Williamsville's Helen M. Randall Memorial Baptist Church, Monument of Faith Fellowship Center (the church located in the historic WKBW studios/Churchill Tabernacle at 1420 Main Street!), Calvary Chapel of the Niagara Frontier, Miami-based Call Communications Group, Michigan-based Smile FM and Long Island-based JCM Radio of NY.

Just south of Binghamton, six broadcasters applied for 93.3A in Susquehanna, PA: Montrose Broadcasting (which already owns WPEL/WPEL-FM), Calvary Chapel of Russell, Binghamton's Davis College, the Broome County Urban League, Redeemer Broadcasting (which owns WFSO in Olivebridge), South Carolina's Evangelical Broadcasting Group and JCM Radio of NY.

The FCC will eventually sort through the applicants, using its usual noncommercial criteria that include the coverage area proposed by each applicant (which will be very similar for each of these applications, since they're constrained by having to cover a predetermined city of license), applicants' existing broadcast holdings and - perhaps most decisively this time - whether or not the applicants are locally-based and have an established presence in the community.

On Long Island, Barnstable Broadcasting missed its March 1 target date to flip WLVG (96.1 Center Moriches) to a Suffolk County simulcast of "K-Joy" WKJY (98.3 Hempstead) - but it does at least have new calls for 96.1, which is now WKJI.

Multicultural Radio Broadcasting is selling WNYG (1440 Babylon) to the Spanish-language religious broadcaster that's been leasing its airtime. Radio Cantico Nuevo will pay $150,000 for the station, but that's just the beginning of the story, since it will also have to pay to move the station to its new city of license of Medford, out east, where WNYG has a construction permit to diplex off the towers of WLIM (1580 Patchogue). That move will get WNYG out of the way of a signal expansion at MRBI's WNSW (1430 Newark NJ). If Radio Cantico Nuevo weren't paying to relocate 1440, the station would have gone dark for good sometime soon, just as Babylon's other AM, WGLI 1290, did some years ago to clear the way for a power boost at WADO (1280 New York).

Syracuse's Mars Hill Network is getting a new signal in Richfield Springs, south of Utica. The new signal on 88.7 faced opposition from Schenectady's WRGB-TV (Channel 6), but the FCC dismissed WRGB's informal objection to the grant last week and issued a CP for 2.2 kW/226', vertical-only and quite directional from a site north of Richfield Springs and south of Herkimer.

It's been a long time since Steve Church was engineering - and hosting a talk show - at Buffalo's WBUF (92.9). Church went on to Cleveland's WMMS and then to fame and fortune as the founder and CEO of Telos Systems, whose phone hybrids are standard equipment in thousands of stations around the world. Now he's being honored with the NAB's Engineering Achievement Award, which he'll receive at the NAB Show engineering luncheon in Las Vegas next month.

Another "Where Are They Now?": Mick Lee, who was doing afternoons at Albany's WFLY (92.3) and nights/APD across town at WKKF (Kiss 102.3) a few years back, has been named PD at Clear Channel's WZFT (Z104.3) in Baltimore. Since leaving Albany in 2007, Lee's been assistant PD and afternoon jock at KKRZ in Portland, Oregon.


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*It's been a quiet week in PENNSYLVANIA, where the long-pending move of WKVE (103.1) from Waynesburg to Mount Pleasant will take place sometime this week, when the new 103.1 signal launches with an "awesome rock" format that mixes current rock with classic cuts dating back to the sixties. The new WKVE will also be heard on a 104.1 translator in Waynesburg, while the existing 103.1 country format will remain on the air in Waynesburg on WANB (1210) and its translator at 105.1.

In Philadelphia, Jessie Jordan is out after five years on the night shift at Clear Channel's WIOQ (102.1 Philadelphia). She was also Q102's APD and music director, and now the station is looking for a replacement for all three tasks.

Erie's WQHZ (Z102.3) has named Dave Cook as its new afternoon jock; he's got a history down the road in Pittsburgh, at WBZZ (B94).

Family Life Ministries is again swapping calls on an unbuilt station in Laporte: the 90.9 there will be WCIN instead of WCIS, as it picks up a set of calls long in use in Cincinnati.


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*CANADA's only gay-targeted radio station wants more power. Evanov's CIRR (103.9 PROUD-FM) tells the CRTC that it's been struggling to reach its target audience with its current 50-watt signal from the Yonge/Eglinton area, and so it's requesting an increase in power from 50 watts to 128 watts DA (max ERP 250 watts), as well as a height increase to 156 meters from a new transmitter site at 2 West Bloor Street.

CFGT (1270 Alma QC) had to go back to the CRTC with an alternate frequency after it was denied its initial choice of 97.7 for an AM-to-FM move last year. The station applied for 104.5 instead, and now that move has been granted, still with 50 kW.

We had to go digging to find out where Middle Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia, is located - it's a small town some 30 km northeast of Halifax - but we had a good reason for doing so: that community of fewer than 700 people is getting a new radio station. Paul Blackmore has been granted a new 50-watt commercial station on 107.3, which will carry a mix of rock, classic rock, oldies, country, local news and sports.

And while we noted last week that Montreal's CJAD (800) had added "Coast to Coast AM" in its overnight hours, we neglected to mention the local show that was knocked off the schedule in the process. Sol Boxenbaum had been hosting the overnight hours on CJAD, and he's now out of a job there.

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!)

March 9, 2009 -

  • It looks like when it comes to the end of New York's "K-Rock" (WXRK 92.3), "sometime soon" will be Wednesday afternoon at 5. Opie & Anthony apparently did their last show on the station Monday morning, and the website is now up and running with a countdown clock. Stay tuned...
  • The sudden closure of the CONNECTICUT School of Broadcasting's 26 campuses nationwide came as a shock to many in the broadcasting industry on Wednesday - and as even more of a shock to the students, just days from graduation, who'd paid $12,000 in hopes that the school, more recently known as the "CSB School of Broadcasting," would launch them into - as CSB's website offered - "a great career in broadcasting." That might be a pipe dream for anyone in our industry these days, but it's now especially bad news for CSB students and alumni, who'd been promised lifetime access to the school's studios (including locations in Needham, Mass.; Hasbrouck Heights and Cherry Hill, NJ; Westbury, NY; Pittsburgh; Stratford, Connecticut and the original location in Farmington, Connecticut) and its alumni network.
  • CSB's locations were shuttered before classes started Thursday morning, after the school's bank accounts were seized by lender PNC Financial, leaving the school with no choice - it said - but to close down and file for bankruptcy. And without an active school enrolling them, many former CSB students are apparently finding that they're no longer eligible for the internships they were doing at radio and TV stations across the region, adding insult to injury. Dick Robinson, the veteran Hartford broadcaster who founded CSB back in 1964 and sold the business to Credit Suisse three years ago, tells WVIT-TV that he hopes to buy the Farmington location back from CSB's owners and reopen it under a new name. (That Farmington site, by the way, is the old studio location of WRCH, and still home to the transmitter of WLAT 910.)
  • We start our NEW YORK report with an "ending" - two weeks after Sinclair's upstate stations (Fox affiliates WUTV 29 Buffalo, WUHF 31 Rochester and WSYT 68 Syracuse and My affiliate WNYS 43 Syracuse, as well as Pittsburgh's WPMY 22 and WPGH 53) ended regular programming on their analog signals, those stations pulled the plug on the "nightlight" loop and silenced their analog transmitters for good at 11:59:59 PM on Tuesday (March 3). Having been parked in front of the old 25" Zenith when WUHF signed on for the first time back in January 1980, NERW couldn't resist the opportunity to be there at WUHF's Pinnacle Hill transmitter site when the station left the airwaves.
  • It was rather unceremonious - viewers at home, if there were any left, simply saw the nightlight loop cut to static - but it's another step into the digital future, and we'll be back up on Pinnacle Hill in June when the market's other stations shut down their analog signals.
  • It's more than just the analog signal going away at Syracuse's CBS affiliate; as we reported in an update to last week's NERW, Granite Broadcasting cut the jobs of some 40 staffers at WTVH (Channel 5) after Monday morning's newscast, as WTVH entered into an LMA with Barrington Broadcasting's NBC affiliate, WSTM (Channel 3), under which WSTM will handle most aspects of WTVH's operations.
  • Here's how it played out in the short term: WTVH's noon newscast on Monday was replaced by an infomercial, but at 5 PM, "CBS 5 News" was back on the air, after a fashion, with anchor Michael Benny, among the few remaining WTVH staffers, looking rather uncomfortable as he read the press-release verbiage about the merger, with only a token mention at the very end about the job cuts involved. (The job cuts, unsurprisingly, were the lead story and then some on competitor WSYR-TV and in the Syracuse paper, which put WTVH's news shutdown at the center of the front page the next day.) What followed - and what's been airing on WTVH at 5, 6 and 11 all week long - was essentially a rewritten version of the same newscast being seen on WSTM in the same slots, with WSTM's weather and sports anchors and field reports from WSTM staffers. During the morning and noon slots, WTVH has simply been simulcasting WSTM's newscasts, albeit with WTVH graphics.
  • That's a temporary situation, it appears; Granite has entered into similar LMAs in other markets (most notably Fort Wayne and Duluth, but also Peoria, where Granite's WEEK took over operations last week at Barrington's WHOI), and we'd expect the WSTM/WTVH joint operation to follow that pattern: a common brand (a la "Indiana's News Center") for both stations, with some newscasts in alternating timeslots - say, 5 and 6 PM on one station, 5:30 and 7 PM on the other.
  • Here's an application that came as no surprise: when we reported a few months back that Greater Media's WKLB-FM (102.5 Waltham) had filed to build a new auxiliary transmitter site at the CBS tower on Cedar Street in Needham, we speculated that the station would soon apply to make the Cedar Street site its main transmitter location. That happened last week, with WKLB applying for 14 kW/905', instead of the 8.1 kW/1151' it currently uses at the "FM128" tower a mile away across Route 128. The move returns 102.5 to the tower site it used for much of its time as WCRB-FM in the seventies and eighties - and it allows WKLB-FM to continue its experiments with higher power on its HD Radio carriers, where it's been testing with 10 times the usual injection level.
  • The format wheels keep spinning in MAINE, where Saga rearranged its AM lineup in Portland last week. On Tuesday, WZAN (970 Portland) traded its "hot talk" lineup - Bob & Tom, Lex & Terry, Mike O'Meara, Adam Carolla and Loveline - for "Maine's Talk Radio," a lineup that starts with Don Imus in mornings and includes Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Phil Hendrie. Then, on Wednesday, the "hot talk" moved up the dial to Imus' former morning home, WBAE (1490 Portland)/WVAE (1400 Biddeford), displacing standards "The Bay" on those frequencies with a lineup that includes the rest of the old WZAN talent except for Adam Carolla, whose syndicated show went away when his flagship station, KLSX (97.1) in Los Angeles, changed format. "AM 1400/1490" will also continue to carry Sea Dogs baseball and Pirates hockey.

March 7, 2005 -

  • The radio dial in central PENNSYLVANIA has been a confusing one these last few months, and for listeners in and around State College, it just got a little more turbulent.
  • The home of Penn State is also the place where Dame Broadcasting just sold its cluster of stations to "2510 Licenses, LLC," a company controlled by Burbach Broadcasting's Nick Galli. And no sooner did 2510 close on the cluster (news-talk simulcast WBLF 970 Bellefonte/WRSC 1390 State College, classic rock "Bus" WBUS 93.7 Boalsburg, rock "Quick Rock" WQWK 97.1 University Park and rhythmic top 40 "Hot" WJHT 107.9 Port Matilda) than it entered an LMA with the market's other big cluster owner, Forever Broadcasting, to operate several of the stations. Forever will manage WRSC, WBUS and the 97.1 signal, which swaps calls and formats with Forever's oldies WOWY (98.7 Pleasant Gap), putting oldies on 97.1 and rock on 98.7. (The new WQWK on 98.7 arrives without some of its airstaff; the "Morning Wood" show that had been a fixture on 97.1 is history.) And WJHT's calls and format move down the dial to Forever's WBHV (103.1 State College), which drops the "Beaver" moniker it's had for the last few years, along with the mix of hot AC and top 40 that it had been programming. 107.9 has requested new calls WCNU, and will reportedly be spun off, apparently becoming a religious outlet.
  • Forever also owns WMAJ (1450 State College) and WLTS (94.5 State College) in the market, and that makes a lot of signals under common control. Will the FCC - which has been looking at LMAs more closely of late - let this arrangement stand?
  • There are changes rumored to be on the way down the road in Johnstown and Altoona as well. In Johnstown, 2510 closed last week on its purchase of southern gospel WYSN (1330 Somerset), rock WQKK (92.1 Johnstown), top 40 WGLU (99.1 Ebensburg) and oldies WCCL (101.7 Central City) from Dame, and that's another market where Forever has a huge footprint. Are some LMAs in the works here as well? Stay tuned...
  • In Buffalo, speculation is already building over the future of Infinity's cluster of stations there in the wake of the company's conference call last week, in which corporate officials identified the Queen City as one of the markets where Infinity plans to spin off its radio operations. The company owns five stations in town - country monster WYRK (106.5), urban WBLK (93.7 Depew), AC WJYE (96.1), struggling talker WBUF (92.9) and standards WECK (1230 Cheektowaga) - which would be too much for any of the other broadcasters in town to take on as a whole, but might present some interesting opportunities for companies that aren't yet in the market at all. (And we'd note that Buffalo is the second-largest market, behind Kansas City, with no Clear Channel presence.)
  • The spinning wheel of formats has spun again in southeastern CONNECTICUT, where Citadel's WXLM (102.3 Stonington) dropped its "Mix" hot AC format after exactly two years and spent the weekend stunting. Morning man "Yo Sunny Joe" Allen is out - and what's next for this frequency, which has also been home to short-lived classic hits (WUXL) and rock (WAXK) formats in the last few years? Stay tuned...
  • To the west, Nichols College has signed on WNRC-LP (97.5 Dudley), and that means a far better signal for the students there than on their old facility, 14-watter WNRC (95.1 Dudley). But Nichols isn't shutting down the little class D FM now that it has the more powerful 100-watt LPFM; instead, it's changed calls to WXRB and handed it off to chief engineer (and all-around nice guy) Peter George to operate. Look for 95.1 to be reborn any day now with the same nifty mix of oldies that Pete's already playing on his streaming version of WXRB. (The calls, by the way, are an homage both to Pete's ham call of W1XRB and to the legendary XERB, home of the late Wolfman Jack. And if you're within range, listen closely to the sign-on announcement to hear the dulcet tones of your very own editor...)

March 10, 2000 -

  • Eighteen months after being diagnosed with lung cancer, CONNECTICUT based talk host Judy Jarvis died Tuesday (3/7) at age 54. Jarvis, a veteran of New England newspapers and radio and a nonsmoker, discovered she had the disease after returning from a remote broadcast of her Talk America show at the 1998 NAB convention. She had recently returned to join her son and producer, Jason Jarvis, after being absent for treatment. We hear Jason Jarvis will continue with the show; our condolences go out to him and all who knew Judy Jarvis.
  • Just as we were getting ready to go to press reporting that the call change for New London's WTYD (100.9) had yet to take effect, we heard otherwise from the folks at Hall Communications. The soft rock ended at noon today (3/10), replaced by oldies as "Kool 101," WKNL. Morning guy Bill Reese stays, Dan O'Brien moves from sister country station WCTY to afternoons at WKNL, trading places with former WTYD afternoon jock Sarell, and the search for a PD is underway. Oldies had been missing from the New London market since WVVE (102.3 Stonington) dropped the format at year's end.
  • Not going anywhere: We hear 64-year WTIC (1080 Hartford) veteran Bob Steele recently announced his retirement -- when he reaches the age of 100 in the year 2011! Steele continues to host one Saturday morning a month during the warmer months on WTIC. Meanwhile, Saturday 10 AM - 2 PM host Ann Baldwin is leaving the station to run her own media consulting firm.
  • Moving on to MASSACHUSETTS, we find the first Northeast spinoff from the Clear Channel - AMFM merger: WHMP (1400/99.3 Northampton), which go from Clear Channel to Saga, where they'll join WAQY (102.1) and WPNT (1600 East Longmeadow) in what's now a Springfield-market cluster. This is a very small piece of a huge series of spin-off deals involving more than 100 Clear Channel/AMFM stations nationwide; expect Albany and perhaps Providence sales to be announced soon.
  • Entercom's WAAF (107.3 Worcester) has been granted a construction permit to come down from Mount Asnebumskit in Paxton, moving closer to Boston with 9600 watts directional from 335 meters on the soon-to-be-built new tower at the WUNI-TV (Channel 27) site on Stiles Hill in Boylston. Also granted a move is WBOS (92.9 Brookline), which will join Greater Media siblings WTKK, WROR, and WMJX on the Prudential Center with 18.5 kW non-directional. Like WTKK and WROR, WBOS had been on the "FM128" tower in Newton, which will be left with just WBUR, WJMN, WBMX, WODS and WCRB once all the dust settles.
  • Speaking of WJMN, it's getting a replacement for afternoon jock Ralphie Marino, who's moved to Clear Channel sister WKTU in New York. Ramiro Torres moves from nights to fill Marino's slot, with Stevie Demann coming up from Orlando's WJHM (101.9 Cocoa) to take over the night shift.
  • On we move to NEW YORK, where the NERW-mobile spent most of the day in Seneca Falls, listening to the dignified farewell of WSFW-FM (99.3). As we told you last week, WSFW (1110) and its FM have been sold to Family Life Ministries, which is trading them to George Kimble and Jim Martin (The Radio Group) in exchange for the 93.7 Clyde facility of The Radio Group's WLLW. The WLLW classic rock format and calls will move from 93.7 to the former WSFW-FM facility at 99.3 come Monday morning at 6; 93.7 will go religious under yet-to-be-announced calls; and WSFW(AM) goes to Music of Your Life while moving its studios from downtown Seneca Falls to the WLLW/WGVA (1240 Geneva)/WNYR (98.5 Waterloo) facility on the west side of Geneva.
  • WSFW's outgoing owner, George Souhan, held an open house at the station on its final day Friday, and the community responded in a manner befitting a station that's been focused on its home town since it signed on in the fall of 1968. All day, listeners stopped by with food and farewell messages, and many in the building were in tears when a half-hour farewell show aired at 12:30. While WSFW news director Greg Cotterill and at least one salesperson have been hired by the new owners, and while several other WSFW personalities turned down offers, for most of the staff it was the last day of work. After playing Kenny G's "Millennium Mix" of Auld Lang Syne, WSFW-FM repeated the farewell show just after 5:30 and pulled the plug shortly after 6 PM. A few minutes later, the signal reappeared as a simulcast of the Radio Group's WNYR (and, we'd note, with no WSFW-FM legal!), which will continue through the weekend until WLLW takes over Monday morning.
  • On the AM side, the automated classic country format kept running until about 6:25 PM, when it dropped carrier for a moment and returned with Music of Your Life. That format, which will add local news on Monday, is only temporary; because of overlap with MOYL affiliate WYLF (850 Penn Yan), owned by Kimble's brother Russ, WSFW(AM) will switch within a few weeks to the soft AC format of the Radio Group's WCGR (1550 Canandaigua). The AM side of WSFW also keeps much of the school sports and all the Sunday specialty programming that had been on WSFW AM-FM.
  • Still in the offing: an application to move 99.3 from the AM stick on East Bayard Street to a full 6 kW from the WNYR tower south of Waterloo on Route 96. (And, we hope, an actual sign-off announcement on 1110 -- it just dumped carrier a few minutes after the abrupt switch to MOYL, the result, most likely, of a frenzied few days of realigning STLs to make everything work right...)
  • It was the end of an era in Buffalo radio a week ago, as WBEN (930) signed off from its Elmwood Avenue studios at the end of Ed Little's 11 PM newscast last Saturday (3/4). In addition to marking the end of 40 years at Elmwood for WBEN, the newscast was the last of Little's 62 year radio career, most of which was spent in Buffalo and much of which was spent at the legendary WKBW (1520). WBEN now holds forth from an Amherst office park; Little's now enjoying retirement with his family.

New England Radio Watch, March 9 & 10, 1995

  • On Monday, WHAV (1490 AM, 1 kw ND) in Haverhill MA, some 30 miles north of Boston, flipped from an oldies/talk format to Spanish, LMA'd by WNNW 1110 in nearby Salem NH. WHAV's sister FM, 92.5 WLYT, keeps its AC format, which serves the Merrimack Valley, southern NH, and rimshots Boston. This leaves just 3 English-language AMs in the Merrimack Valley: Lowell's WCAP 980 and WLLH 1400, and Lawrence's WCCM 800. WLLH goes Spanish after 6pm daily, earlier on weekends. WCAP's ownership situation is uncertain after the death last fall of
    longtime co-owner Israel "Ike" Cohen.
  • Over in Leominster (40 miles or so NW of Boston), WCMX 1000 could come back on soon as religion, more than 3 years after going dark.
  • Back in Beantown proper, WBZ radio has added a new affiliation. Effective Monday, 3/6, we've added CBS Radio and ABC Business Week radio to our current AP and ABC Information webs. CNN and CNBC were dropped in the shuffle. 'BZ keeps ABC-I for the hourly news 7pm-4am. Half-hourly newscasts overnight are dropped.
  • WICE(AM) Pawtucket-Providence RI (550 khz, 1000/500 w, DA, CP for 4600/3400 w, DA) is being sold to Back Bay Broadcasters of Boston for "an undisclosed amount." Back Bay's only property currently is WBNW 590 Boston, which took over the old WEEI facilities in September 1994. WBNW programs Bloomberg Radio out of New York with local inserts from Metro Networks in morning drive, afternoon drive, and overnight. 9 am - 4 pm they run local financial talk, including the "Money Experts" show that migrated there when WHDH went dark, along with two newer shows. Evenings they run Bruce Williams and other syndicated money talk. They have the Bruins this season, but lose them to WBZ next year. WICE is currently running miscellaneous satellite sports talk. When the deal closes, WICE will switch to a similar format as WBNW, including simulcasts of the 9am-4pm talk block.

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