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March 22, 2010

Goodbye, Luv - Ron Lundy Remembered

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*"Hello, Luv - this is Ron Lundy from the greatest city in the world!"

That was the greeting Ron Lundy gave his listeners at the start of each airshift for more than three decades in New York radio, first as a key part of the airstaff at WABC (770) and then as an oldies jock on WCBS-FM (101.1).

The Memphis native returned to the south after retiring from WCBS-FM in 1997, and it was there that he died last Monday (March 15) at age 75.

Lundy came to New York in 1965 after a five-year run as the "WIL Child" of St. Louis top-40 station WIL (1430), where he crossed paths with another up-and-coming DJ by the name of Dan Ingram. Ingram recommended Lundy for an overnight opening at WABC, and it didn't take long at all for Lundy to get bumped up to the midday shift, which remained his home for the rest of his New York radio career - and it was Lundy and Ingram, side-by-side in the famous eighth-floor studio, who signed off WABC's top-40 format in 1982.

Two years later Lundy was back on the air at WCBS-FM, and it was by his own choice that he left the midday shift there in September 1997 to move to Mississippi with his wife Shirley.

The news of Lundy's death brought tributes flowing from all corners of New York radio, particularly at WABC and WCBS-FM. Mark Simone's "Saturday Night Oldies" show on WABC was dedicated to Lundy's memory, and WCBS-FM presented a series of tributes, including a Sunday night rebroadcast of Lundy's last hour on the air back in 1997. There were plenty of online tributes as well, including a full weekend of Lundy airchecks on Allan Sniffen's "Rewound Radio" at musicradio77.com, which is also home to a great collection of Ron Lundy stories and sounds.

(A reminder, by the way: while NERW publishes weekly on Monday mornings, we do update this page with major breaking news such as Lundy's death - so check back here a few times a week to see if there's big news happening, and be sure to hit "refresh" in your browser in case you're viewing a cached page. And we also update the news on a regular basis via our Twitter feed @NERadioWatch and on your editor's Facebook page as well...)

*A decade and a half before Ron Lundy rocked the WCBS-FM studios at Black Rock, Joe Dembo was the CBS executive who transformed the network's other New York signal, WCBS (880), into the city's second successful all-news voice.

Dembo, who also died last Monday (March 15), came to WCBS in 1960, becoming the station's executive producer and news director before being promoted to news director for CBS Radio News, the post he was holding in 1967 when Bill Paley named him vice president and general manager of WCBS with the command to take the station to 24-hour news.

Dembo hired a staff that included Charles Osgood, Lou Adler and Pat Summerall, and after a rocky start (the station actually launched on WCBS-FM after a small plane hit the AM tower the day before the format flip), WCBS quickly emerged from also-ran status to become a fierce challenger to Westinghouse's WINS (1010), which had itself gone all-news in 1965.

Dembo returned to the network side in 1971, working as Rome bureau chief for CBS News and later as producer of the CBS Morning News and as an anchor for the network's hourly radio newscasts. He eventually became CBS' vice president in charge of CBS Radio before retiring in 1988.

After leaving CBS, Dembo began teaching journalism at Fordham University, where he continued to teach until last year. He also served as acting president of NPR and spent three years on that network's board of directors.

Dembo was 83.

*Away from the obituary columns, it was a relatively quiet week in NEW YORK radio:

Just below the bottom of the FM dial, WNYZ-LP (Channel 6/87.7 FM) never did pick up the Korean program that was supposed to be leasing its daytime hours starting last month, and that meant a few extra weeks of full-time "Indie Darkroom" modern rock. Now there's word that today will bring a new Caribbean format to WNYZ's daytime schedule, with Indie Darkroom taking over at 8 PM.

Heading upstate, there's a new set of calls on Citadel's FM talker in Syracuse: WLTI (105.9 Syracuse) became WXTL on Thursday (March 19), better matching its new "Big Talker" slogan.

In Johnstown, we're hearing WIZR (930) has changed hands from Pamal to Thomas Kuettel. After simulcasting Pamal's WJYB (95.5 Albany) for the last few months, WIZR is reportedly now on the air with a country format, though we're hearing it's operating only limited hours for the moment.

Time Warner Cable has expanded its YNN (Your News Now) brand statewide; as of Friday, "YNN" replaces "News 10 Now" on the channel serving Binghamton, Ithaca, Syracuse, Watertown and the North Country and replaces "Capital News 9" in Albany. The "YNN" brand is also replacing Time Warner's local "Cable News 6" in the Hudson Valley; it already replaced "R News" in Rochester last year.

And there's this bit of curiosity out of Buffalo: while we'd emphasize that we've yet to confirm it, and there's nothing on file about it with the FCC, we've now heard from several different sources that Entercom's WWKB (1520) has cut its power back from the usual 50 kW to 10 kW in order to save on its power bill. That's legal - but it requires notification to the FCC and a filing for Special Temporary Authority if it's to continue for any length of time. More on this developing story to come...

Where are they now? Jessica Ettinger, late of Bloomberg Radio/WBBR, WINS and the announcements on the 4, 5 and 6 trains on the New York subway, is now out in Seattle and going by her married name, Jessica Gottesman - and she's just been named afternoon anchor at KIRO-FM (97.3), where she'd been freelancing.

 

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*If it's dedication you're looking for, the folks at northern NEW JERSEY's WGHT (1500 Pompton Lakes) might be good people to ask. As we'd mentioned last week, the little AM station sits right on the banks of the Ramapo River, which crested at some seven feet above flood stage after that "storm without a name" that ravaged the East Coast. WGHT's studios take on water when that happens, and this time it was a whopping 13 feet of water that inundated the lower two floors of the building.

Fortunately, the WGHT facility was designed for just such an event: the studios and transmitter are on the top floor, and the three towers and transmission lines are elevated high above the swampy land out back - and that meant that WGHT was able to stay on the air with emergency information throughout the storm and its aftermath, though staffers had to use a fire boat to get to the building.

Elsewhere in the region, the other stations that were knocked off by the storm and its floodwaters (most prominently Boston's WWZN 1510, which was flooded out, and New York's WLIB 1190, which lost power at its New Jersey transmitter site) were all back on the air by Tuesday, and there's no word of any permanent damage.

*Our PENNSYLVANIA news, such as it is, is largely about Radio People on the Move: Michael "Mad Dog" Ovadia is out at Cumulus' WSOX (96.1 Red Lion) after a dozen years at the oldies station, most recently as APD and morning host. "Mad Dog and Dave Show" co-host Dave Crockett is now holding down mornings solo. In Philly, Clear Channel's WIOQ (102.1) has found a replacement for former night jock Jessie Jordan. "Maxwell" arrives from sister station WNCI (97.9) in Columbus, Ohio next week to start his new "Maxwell's House" show. No word yet on replacements for Jordan's other two roles as APD and music director at Q102.

Mike Romigh, late of Pittsburgh's KDKA (1020), has been filling in on morning drive at Clear Channel's WKBN (570) just across the state line in Youngstown, Ohio, and now he's taking that job as the permanent host. (He replaces Robert Mangino, who made the opposite move recently to become KDKA's new nighttime talk host.)

There's a price tag on the Beacon Broadcasting stations owned by the estate of the late Harold Glunt: Ohio Media Watch reports Glunt's executors are hoping to get $850,000 for his three Pennsylvania stations (WGRP 940/WEXC 107.1 in Greenville and WLOA 1470 Farrell) and $400,000 for his two AMs just across the Ohio line, WRTK 1540 Niles and WANR 1570 Warren.

In Philadelphia, the wrecking ball is leveling the famed "Concrete Donut" at City Line and Monument, the round studio building that WFIL radio and TV built in 1964 as its state-of-the-art new home. That building replaced the building at 46th and Market that went up in the late forties as one of the first purpose-built TV studios (and the eventual birthplace of "American Bandstand"); by the turn of the century, though, the building had become too cramped for the former WFIL-TV, now WPVI (Channel 6). The ABC-owned station built another state-of-the-art building last year right next door to the 1964 building, and the pressing need for more parking on the site meant the end for the "Concrete Donut," shown here in a photo from last September, just after WPVI moved out.

(WFIL radio moved out in the early seventies, when longtime owner Triangle sold the radio stations; today's WFIL operates from the Whitemarsh Township studio and transmitter site of its longtime archrival WIBG, now WNTP 990, which would have been unthinkable forty years ago.)

We overlooked a February format change up in the hills of central Pennsylvania: the former WHUN (1150 Huntingdon) has ditched its simulcast of news-talk WRSC (1390 State College), changing calls to WLLI and flipping to country.

Pittsburgh's silent WZUM (1590 Carnegie) now faces some FCC headaches: a Notice of Violation issued earlier this month says the station's directional array was out of tune during an inspection last fall, resulting in higher-than-authorized signal levels in at least one direction. The station also failed to do a proper legal ID while the Commission was listening.

Down the dial, WAOB (860 Millvale) has returned to the air with Catholic programming, simulcasting sister station WAOB-FM (106.7 Beaver Falls); sister station WPGR (1510 Monroeville) was heard last week breaking away from that simulcast with separate Catholic teaching programs.

And there's an obituary in the Keystone State, too: Herb Denenberg, who all but defined the role of "consumer reporter" in nearly a quarter of a century at WCAU-TV (Channel 10), died Thursday at 80. Denenberg served as Pennsylvania's insurance commissioner before joining channel 10 in 1975. During his time at WCAU, he also wrote for the Daily News; after his retirement in 1998, he wrote a weekly column for the revived Evening Bulletin and started his own blog. On a personal note, his late brother Marshall was your editor's uncle by marriage, and we send our condolences to the entire (very sizable) Denenberg clan.

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*There's a significant obituary leading off our MASSACHUSETTS news this week as well. While the general public will remember Edmund Dinis as the district attorney who prosecuted the Chappaquiddick case, the New England radio community knows Dinis as the longtime owner of WJFD (97.3 New Bedford), the most prominent broadcast voice for the Portuguese community that's such an important part of the region.

The son of an Azorean immigrant, Dinis entered politics on the New Bedford city council in the early fifties, later serving as a state senator before becoming Bristol County district attorney in 1959. On a trajectory to higher office, Dinis' political career was derailed by Chappaquiddick; controversy over his inquest into the case contributed to his reelection loss in 1970, and subsequent bids for Congress in 1976 and for a return to the DA's office in 1982 failed as well.

Out of office, Dinis returned to his career as an attorney, but along the way took an interest in media. In 1975, he bought what was then WGCY from Gray Communications, renaming the all-Portuguese station WJFD after the initials of his father, Jacinto F. Dinis.

Dinis later added a Springfield station, WSPR (1270), to his holdings, a prelude to what proved to be an unsuccessful attempt to build a new AM signal, WLAW (1270 North Dartmouth), on the South Coast. Had the AM station been built, it would likely have taken the Portuguese format from WJFD, allowing the FM to flip to an English-language format; in the end, battles with zoning authorities forced Dinis to allow the construction permit to expire unbuilt just before the turn of the century.

Dinis died March 14 at age 85; for now, "Radio Globo" continues to be run without changes, though speculation is already swirling about the station's future.

*There's a prominent obituary in southern CONNECTICUT this week as well. Don Russell died March 13, ending a broadcast career that began after World War II at Stamford's WSRR but soon took him to the Dumont Network, where the Stamford native (born Donald Rustici) was an announcer for Jackie Gleason's "Cavalcade of Stars" and the network's evening newscast. After Dumont folded, Russell went on to work for the NBC network and then at Nashville's WSM radio and TV, but in the end he came home to Stamford. Russell returned to his old station, now WSTC (1400), where he served as program director and continued to host a daily talk show as late as 2001, when he turned 80.

Russell also served as general manager of Connecticut Public Broadcasting, wrote a column for the Stamford Advocate, worked as a political analyst for News 12 Connecticut, hosted a talk show on WGCH (1490) and wrote a history of Stamford. He was 89.

One other Connecticut note: Glenn O'Brien is out at WBMW (106.5 Ledyard), where he'd been hosting mornings since 2003. Teresa Berry is now hosting the show solo, while O'Brien's looking for a new gig.

*The FCC has reached consent decrees with two small school-owned noncommercial stations in RHODE ISLAND and NEW HAMPSHIRE, allowing them to renew their licenses after making "voluntary" payments to the U.S. Treasury.

In Concord, N.H., St. Paul's School will pay $10,000 to close an FCC inquiry into missing items in the public file at its WSPS (90.5); it will also create a compliance plan to make sure the public file is updated and ownership reports are properly filed.

In Bristol, R.I., it's Roger Williams University's WQRI (88.3) that had more minor public file issues; in that case, RWU will pay $1700 to close out the case and get its license renewed.

*There's one station sale in MAINE, though it won't result in much on-air change: Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa is selling WJCX (99.5 Pittsfield) to Calvary Chapel of Bangor, which will pay $200,000 over the course of the next two years to take over the license.

*There's a new TV station coming to CANADA, at least on paper. Radio-Canada has received CRTC permission to break off its eastern Quebec TV transmitters from the license of CBVT (Channel 11) in Quebec City, restoring some local news and ad sales to stations that have been full-time relays of the Quebec City station since budget cuts closed down local operations in Rimouski back in 1990.

The CRTC ruling last week re-establishes CJBR-TV (Channel 2) in Rimouski as a separate license, and it brings CBGAT (Channel 6) in Matane and CBST (Channel 13) in Sept-Iles and their many transmitters under the CJBR license.

The "new" CJBR-TV will produce at least five hours a week of local programming for the eastern Quebec region, replacing the regional newscast that was produced for the area from the Quebec City studios.

*Some Radio People on the Move, with a hat-tip to Milkman UnLimited:

In Kingston, Matthew Bisson is leaving CKLC-FM (98.9 the Drive), where he's been morning co-host and news anchor. He's headed for the Corus stations in Edmonton to do news at CHED (630) and CHQT (iNews 880).

And in Owen Sound, Rob Brignell jumps from Bayshore Broadcasting to Larche Communications, where he'll be GM of its new CJOS (92.3). Brignell has been with Bayshore for 11 years, most recently as director of marketing for the Owen Sound cluster.

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*It's a pretty brief Baseball on the Radio major-league edition this year, since none of the MLB teams in NERW-land has a contract renewal to deal with.

The Boston Red Sox continue with their 10-year deal at Entercom's WEEI (850 Boston), which adds an FM HD simulcast (WMKK 93.7-HD3) in its home market this year. We haven't heard much about shifts in the outlying parts of the Sox radio network this year, either - and of course TV coverage remains firmly planted at Sox-owned NESN, where Jerry Remy is back in the saddle for a full season after spending much of 2009 dealing with health issues.

The Spanish Beisbol Network-produced coverage en espanol will be heard on WWDJ (1150 Boston), WNEB (1230 Worcester) and WCEC (1490 Haverhill).

The World Champion New York Yankees are back on their flagship, WCBS (880 New York), and an extensive network of stations across the region. Yankees-owned YES remains the TV home, of course, with 20 games on WWOR-TV (Channel 9) - and that leaves Spanish-language radio as the scene of the one big change this year, with the Yankees moving from WQBU (92.7 Garden City) to Univision sister station WADO (1280 New York), with a stronger signal across the city.

The nowhere-near-World Champion New York Mets head into yet another rebuilding year on longtime flagship WFAN (660 New York) and the partially-team-owned SNY network, with 25 games on WPIX (Channel 11). The Yankees' Spanish-language shift bumps the Mets off WADO, sending them to the smaller WQBU signal, which at least covers the heart of the team's fan base in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island.

The almost-World Champion Philadelphia Phillies keep the status quo this year, too: English radio on WPHT (1210 Philadelphia) and an extensive network of affiliates in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware; TV on Comcast Sports Network and 45 games on WPHL (Channel 17); Spanish radio on WUBA (1480 Philadelphia).

The yet-another-rebuilding-year Pittsburgh Pirates remain in place on flagship WPGB (104.7 Pittsburgh) and a sizable network of affiliates in western Pennsylvania and neighboring states; all TV coverage is on cable, via FSN Pittsburgh.

Home turf for the Baltimore Orioles is a little outside the boundaries of NERW-land, but O's country extends north up I-83 into York, Pennsylvania, where the team is switching affiliates this year. WSBA (910) replaces WOYK (1350) on the Orioles network, joining fellow Keystone State outlets WHVR (1280 Hanover), WIOO (1000 Carlisle) and WEEO (1480 Shippensburg).

And across the border, the Toronto Blue Jays own not only their TV outlet, Rogers Sportsnet, but also their radio flagship, CJCL (FAN 590). The Jays' radio network remains stable as well, with outlets from Nova Scotia all the way to British Columbia.

We'll be back with more "Baseball on the Radio" next week, as we gear up for the start of minor-league ball across the Northeast...

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!)

March 23, 2009 -

  • There's word just in from CTVglobemedia that the plug is once again being pulled on oldies on the Toronto AM dial. Thursday morning at 5, CHUM (1050) will give way to "CP 24 Radio 1050," which sounds like it will be mainly a simulcast of CTV's "CP24" cable news channel. With the CRTC's recent rule change allowing oldies formats on the FM dial, will Toronto see a move of oldies to FM...or is this curtains for the format for good? More next week...
  • During George Weber's years on NEW YORK's WABC (770), he built up quite a following as the talk station's morning "News Guy," and even after losing that gig in early 2008, after the Curtis & Kuby morning show where he'd worked gave way to Don Imus, Weber stayed active as a reporter and anchor with ABC Radio News. He was scheduled for several shifts last week at ABC, and after he didn't show up Saturday, concerned co-workers called the police. They entered Weber's apartment in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens neighborhood Sunday morning, where they found him apparently stabbed to death. Neighbors told the New York Post they believe Weber was murdered sometime Friday night. (The last entry on Weber's blog was dated Friday.) Police say there were no signs of forced entry, but neighbors told the paper the apartment had been ransacked.
  • Weber was a native of the Philadelphia area who started his career at WBUX (1570 Doylestown PA), then worked at WAEB (790 Allentown) before heading west in the mid-eighties, where he worked at KIMN in Denver (alongside his future WABC program director Phil Boyce), KOA in Denver, KGO in San Francisco and KOGO in San Diego before joining WABC in 1995.
  • Moving upstate, there's a surprise from Oneida, where one of the region's truly old-school mom and pop stations has been sold. We didn't know WMCR (1600) and WMCR-FM (106.3) were for sale, and it appears owner Vivian Warren, who bought the stations in 1969 and continued to run them after the 2005 death of her husband and co-owner, Bill, wasn't actively trying to sell them. But when Cooperstown-based James Johnson came calling with an offer, Warren decided to accept - and now the stations are about to get their first ownership change in four decades.
  • From what Johnson tells the Oneida Daily Dispatch, the stations are going into good hands. Beginning in 1995, Johnson built a three-station cluster in Norwich (WKXZ/WBKT/WCHN) into the eight-station BanJo group before selling the stations to Double O Radio in 2004 for nearly $10 million. Since then, he's bought and sold restaurants and real estate and invested in a Broadway musical, as well as getting elected to the Otsego County board of representatives.
  • In TV news from around the Empire State, seven stations have told the FCC they intend to drop their analog signals prior to the June 12 finale of full-power analog TV. Citing ongoing problems with their analog transmitters, the northern New York PBS duo of WPBS-TV (Channel 16) in Watertown and WNPI (Channel 18) in Norwood will go dark on analog April 12, followed on April 16 by two more PBS signals - WMHT-TV Schenectady and WNED-TV Buffalo, both on channel 17 - along with Binghamton Fox affiliate WICZ (Channel 40). On April 25, Elmira's ABC affiliate, WENY-TV (Channel 36), will end its analog broadcast; it's flash-cutting to digital on 36, having never built out its interim channel 55 digital assignment. And on May 4, religious WNYB (Channel 26) in Jamestown will pull the plug on its analog signal
  • Need a concrete sign of the downturn in the economy? Just look to eastern PENNSYLVANIA, where Nassau, unable to carry out its LMA-to-buy agreement due to "dislocations in the credit markets," is handing WFKB (107.5 Boyertown) back to its owner, Lancaster-based WDAC Radio Company, on April 1. The back story here: Back in October 2005, WDAC signed a $22 million deal under which the 107.5 signal, until then doing religion as WBYN-FM, would be leased by Nassau, with three years to come up with the money to convert the LMA into an outright purchase. Nassau flipped the FM to classic rock as "Frank FM," targeting the nearby Reading market, while the WBYN calls and religious programming moved to the former WYNS Lehighton on AM 1160, which Nassau has been leasing to WDAC ever since. As we told you in our October 6, 2008 issue, Nassau ended that three-year period without the funding to close on the purchase of WFKB by the end of the LMA on November 30. The companies agreed to extend the LMA by four more months, but with no improvement in economic conditions since then, the deal will expire at the end of March. (And in fairness to Nassau, the softening of the radio sales market means the $22 million price tag placed on 107.5 back in 2005 now looks rather high, suggesting this might have been a deal not worth consummating in the end.)
  • Here's how things play out from here: at the end of the day March 31, "Frank" will cease to exist on 107.5, with the station reverting to WDAC management and reclaiming its old WBYN-FM calls and "Alive" religious format. As for 1160 up in Lehighton, that signal will revert to Nassau management, and we'd guess it will return to its prior format, simulcasting the ESPN sports programming from Nassau's WEEX (1230 Easton)/WTKZ (1320 Allentown).
  • Our NEW JERSEY news is sad news this week, starting with an obituary for Mike "Spyder" McGuire, who'd been doing afternoons at WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin) for the last decade, and mornings at WAYV (95.1 Atlantic City) for two decades before that. McGuire had been fighting colon cancer for the last few months, taking a leave of absence last October before returning to the air briefly in January. McGuire, who was also heard on the station's weekend "Beatles Brunch," his particular pride and joy, died March 15 at the too-young age of 55.
  • The fallout from the economic collapse in CANADA continued to dominate the headlines there this week, and nowhere more so than in Hamilton, Ontario, where fans of CHCH-TV (Channel 11) joined political leaders and some of the station's staffers in a bid to save the station as a local voice. While owner Canwest Global continues to mull over the station's future, including a possible sale to a group made up of current staffers, viewers marched from Hamilton City Hall to the station's Jackson Street studios for a parking lot rally on Tuesday in hopes of reminding Canwest officials that there's a 55-year history of local programming in Hamilton that's in danger of being wiped out if station operations are cut back even further.

March 21, 2005 -

  • Back in the fifties and sixties, just about every TV market had its own beloved local kid's show host. In Boston, it was "Big Brother" Bob Emery and Rex Trailer; in Buffalo, Dave Thomas and "Rocketship 7." And in NEW HAMPSHIRE, it was "Uncle Gus" Bernier on Manchester's WMUR-TV (Channel 9). Bernier joined WMUR radio (610, now WGIR) in 1944 as an announcer, moving over to the TV side of the operation a few years after its 1954 debut. "Uncle Gus" began by accident, according to Ed Brouder's authoritative history of New Hampshire broadcasting, Granite and Ether, when station manager David O'Shea asked Bernier to go into the studio and introduce the afternoon cartoon show. The rest was two decades of history, as an appearance on the "Uncle Gus Show" became a rite of passage for young New Hampshirites (after a wait that could last a year and a half.) Bernier retired to the Florida Keys, later moving to Hawaii, where he died in his sleep Saturday morning. He was 85.
  • Meanwhile on the present-day Granite State radio dial, Nashua's WHOB (106.3) indeed made the flip to "Frank FM" on Thursday, replacing its hot AC with classic hits. WHOB morning drive host Sarah Sullivan adds PD duties, and new calls WFNQ are said to be on the way.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, there's a big PD vacancy - two of them, really - as Jon Zellner departs Infinity's WBMX (98.5 Boston) and WODS (103.3 Boston) and his corporate gig as the company's VP for hot AC to take a newly-created gig at XM Satellite Radio as senior VP, music programming. Zellner's WODS duties are being handled by Pete Falconi for now; no word on who's handling Mix.
  • One of the iconic voices of NEW YORK radio has died. Ted Brown (along with his then-wife, "the Redhead") was the morning voice on WMGM (1050) from 1950 until 1962, when the station returned to its former calls of WHN. Brown soon headed up the dial to WNEW (1130) and afternoons (mornings at that point still being the domain of Klavan and Finch), where he'd remain for most of the decade, becoming known for his wry humor and for on-air stunts that included getting drunk on the air at holiday time (with a police officer present) to illustrate the dangers of drunk driving. In 1970, Brown moved to afternoons on WNBC (660) and went nationwide as one of the "communicators" on NBC's weekend Monitor. He returned to WNEW's afternoon drive in 1972, moving to mornings in 1978 upon Gene Klavan's retirement and remaining there until his own retirement a decade later. Brown returned to WNEW's airwaves on the station's final day in 1993, becoming one of the last voices heard there before WNEW signed off for good.
  • In later years, Ted was heard on WRIV (1390 Riverhead) and on WVNJ (1160 Oakland NJ). He suffered a stroke in 1996 that left him incapacitated. Brown died in his sleep Sunday morning (Mar. 20) at his New York home.
  • In NEW JERSEY, Jack Ellery is returning to mornings on WCTC (1450 New Brunswick) as the Greater Media news-talker says goodbye to former morning host Jay Sorensen, who departed on Friday. Ellery, who began on WCTC's morning drive back in the sixties, is now on his third go-round at the station. He'd been doing afternoons there, a slot which will now be filled by the syndicated Jerry Doyle show.
  • In CANADA, it's the end of the line for controversial Quebec City morning man Jean-Francois "Jeff" Fillion, who walked off his CHOI (98.1) show midway through Thursday morning's edition. CHOI is, of course, the station whose license was nearly pulled by the CRTC a few months back, largely over Fillion's outspoken morning show. And while CHOI owner Genex Communications continues to appeal that decision, it's been having other troubles with Fillion, most notably a civil suit filed by TV weathercaster Sophie Chiasson accusing Fillion of slandering her. (She's seeking C$425,000 from Fillion and CHOI.) Genex owner Patrice Demers says there's no chance Fillion will return to CHOI's airwaves, and that the current CHOI morning team will continue without him.

March 24, 2000 -

  • There's a tower missing in central MAINE -- one of the three at WFAU (1280 Gardiner), to be precise! NERW reader Rob Sobczak reports driving by the site (also home to the studios of WABK and WKCG) and seeing two AM sticks instead of the three. It seems the missing one fell sometime Wednesday night, though the circumstances remain a bit unclear. WFAU remains on the air from the remaining two towers; no word yet on power or pattern reductions as a result.
  • Just outside Bangor, Communications Capital Managers strikes again, adding one more station to the group it's assembling in the market (WVOM/WBYA, WKSQ, WLKE, WBFB). This time, it's WGUY (102.1 Dexter), for the price tag of $1.475 million, from Dan Priestly's Innovative Advertising Consultants. NERW thinks WGUY would make a useful simulcast to one of the other rimshots in the group...WBYA, perhaps?
  • Down to MASSACHUSETTS we go, to find yet another high-powered AM signal on its way to the airwaves. Carter Broadcasting's WCRN (830 Worcester) has quietly become that city's most potent AM signal, especially with the grant this week of a daytime power increase from 5 kilowatts to 50. WCRN's new daytime signal will use the same three towers and the same pattern as the current signal, nulling towards the southwest to protect WRYM (840) in New Britain, Connecticut.
  • WBOS (92.9 Brookline) has a new program director, but nobody will need to give Shirley Maldonado a tour of her new offices -- until a few months ago, she was PD of WBOS' sister station, WSJZ (96.9 Boston). It didn't take long for the rumors to begin flying of a WBOS format change to WSJZ's old smooth jazz format...but here at NERW we're still sticking to our New Year's resolution not to speculate on WBOS format changes. It's getting hard...
  • The FCC is citing some of the Clear Channel spinoffs for a closer look at market-concentration issues, and oddly enough, Springfield is one of them. Saga, which already owns WAQY (102.1 Springfield) and WPNT (1600 East Longmeadow), is adding just two more stations: WHMP-FM (99.3 Northampton), a small player in the Springfield market, and WHMP (1400 Northampton), which doesn't factor in Springfield at all. We don't expect this to slow down the deal much.
  • Just after press time last week, we learned that WAVM (91.7 Maynard) and the folks from WUMB (91.9 Boston) have been sitting down in an attempt to work out their differences over their mutually-exclusive applications for 91.7 in Boston's far northwest suburbs. The word is that a share-time deal could be in the works...and we think it's an awfully good sign that WAVM's Web site has taken down its anti-WUMB page. Next big question: Can WAVM and WUMB working together overcome the religious-translator-network applications that also threaten both stations in the area?
  • Coming soon to a TV dial near you: "WHUB." That's the new name for USA Broadcasting's home-shopping outlet, now known as WHSH (Channel 66) in Marlborough, and before that as music-video WVJV "V66." July 1 will be the starting date for the new programming on the independent station, following in the heels of USA's WAMI in Miami, KSTR Dallas, and WHOT Atlanta. Look for WHUB-TV to build downtown studios and try to line up major-league sports committments to build its image in town, just like the other three stations have done.
  • (Two interesting notes here: First, Broadcasting & Cable reports USA almost had a deal in the bag to buy WMFP (62 Lawrence) a few weeks back, which leads us to wonder whether "WHUB" was almost ready to debut from a stick in downtown Boston and leave 66 with home shopping. Second, it's not the first time a Boston broadcaster has tried to use the "WHUB" calls, which have long been used on the AM dial in Cookeville, Tennessee. Back when Westinghouse thought it was about to buy WKOX, circa 1993-94, the plan was to take AM 1200 sports talk as "The Hub." Needless to say, it never materialized.)
  • The rumors in RHODE ISLAND turned out to be true: Steve Mindich is indeed buying WWRX (103.7 Westerly) from Clear Channel in one of the final spinoffs of the AMFM purchase. No price has been put on the deal, though we're hearing 16-18 times cash flow rumored. The move will give Mindich's FNX modern-rock network a huge boost to the south, picking up everywhere from the far southern suburbs of Boston (where flagship WFNX 101.7 Lynn is blasted by Clear Channel's WWBB 101.5 Providence) all the way to eastern Connecticut.
  • More on that Elmira TV sale we mentioned last week: It's not just WBGH-LP (Channel 8) in Binghamton going from Smith to Ackerley; it's also parent station WETM (Channel 18) in Elmira. Ackerley apparently began LMA'ing WETM in February, giving the company stations in Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Binghamton (all ABC affiliates), and now Elmira as well. As for WBGH-LP: it's dropped its simulcast of WETM's 6 and 11 PM newscasts in favor of simulcasting Ackerley's WIVT (Channel 34) in Binghamton. And by doing it with an LPTV, Ackerley manages to do what would probably be impossible with a full-power station under duopoly rules: it gets to provide both ABC and NBC service to Binghamton. (Could WETM eventually wrest the ABC affiliation away from Elmira's WENY, also under new ownership? We shall see...)

New England Radio Watch, March 28, 1995

  • Although Haverhill MA's WHAV 1490 (1 kw ND-U) flipped from oldies to Spanish talk a few weeks ago, the fireworks have just started. Seems the whole thing is closely intertwined with the long-running rivalry between the small Haverhill Gazette and its much larger competitor 10 miles away in Lawrence, the "Eagle Tribune." The Gazette put WHAV on the air some 50 years ago, and sold it about a decade ago, with the hope that WHAV would continue to be a local voice for news and public affairs. So the Gazette's local owners were distressed to hear WHAV becoming the second all-Spanish station in the Merrimack Valley (and the fourth to run some Spanish), and
    with a satellite format out of LA, at that! To make matters worse, WHAV's new operators (and, with an LMA-to-buy, its prospective new owners) apparently have financial ties with the Eagle Tribune! (This is the same firm that owns and operates WNNW, 1110 in Salem NH, serving Lawrence and Haverhill with a Spanish format).
  • In the meantime, WCCM in Lawrence has started paying much more attention to Haverhill news, and today a Gazette official turned up on WCCM's talk show to talk about how the Gazette now wants to lead a fight to prevent this LMA from becoming a sale...and to bring WHAV back to local news etc. Among the things the Gazette will be focusing on will be some problems with the way the LMA is working (most noticeably, the near-complete lack of legal IDs on WHAV - I listened for 2 hours this weekend and heard not a one), and perhaps a problem with unauthorized transfer of main studio location as well (WHAV is apparently operating from WNNW's studio at 462 Merrimack St., Methuen). We shall see where this all goes.
  • WBMA 890 - yes, them again - launched their first local sports talk show Monday morning 3/27, as former Red Sox player Rico Petrocelli hosted 3 hours from 6-9am. It's the first break in the satellite Prime Sports since it debuted last month. Studios are now at "a temporary location in Kendall Square, Cambridge," and will reportedly move to Flagship Wharf, Charlestown, soon. As for this station's call letters: They want to be known as WBPS (for Boston Prime Sports) -- although the Globe, with its uncanny sense for mucking up all things radio, called them "WPBS" this past weekend. But they are apparently either too cheap or too lazy or both to spend the $55 to file for a call change. So they run IDs like this: "WBMA Dedham Boston is WBPS AM 890, Boston's New Sound of Sports."

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