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May 17, 2010

Contract Dispute Ousts WPDH's Tobin

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*A familiar morning voice in NEW YORK's Hudson Valley is once again off the air at WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie). John Tobin left WPDH in 2001 to move north to Albany, where he worked at WPYX (106.5) and WOFX (980), but he came back to Poughkeepsie in 2006, where he's most recently been half of the "Coop and Tobin Morning Show" alongside Mark Cooper.

Tobin resigned from the station last Monday morning after the show, later writing on a Facebook fan page that he'd "been without a contract since June of 2008 because of corporate game-playing" - and that he "was being paid the same as I was in 2006 even though the ratings were in the stratosphere."

For now, Cooper's handling the morning show along with sidekicks Kricket and Deuce while WPDH searches for a new co-host.

*There's a schedule change on the New York City talk dial, as Alan Colmes disappears from evenings on WWRL (1600), leaving him with no hometown outlet for his Fox radio show. Replacing Colmes at WWRL are Bev Smith from 10 PM-midnight and Leslie Marshall from midnight until 1 AM.

In other New York changes, Brian D'Aurelia has now been promoted twice in one month: his airshift at WRXP (101.9), where he's half of the "Brian and Chris" show, was just moved up from overnights to evenings - and he's just been promoted from director of marketing and digital media to operations manager of WRXP and its Emmis sister stations, WQHT (Hot 97) and WRKS (98.7 Kiss FM).

Behind the scenes at WCBS-FM (101.1), there's a big departure: Maria Martello-Angelo, CBS-FM's programming coordinator, is leaving the station to stay home with her new baby, and word is she'll be very much missed. (Dad is CBS-FM production director Chris Angelo.)

*Upstate, there's another set of farewells in the works: Clear Channel Rochester's vice president/market manager Karen Carey will be leaving the cluster next month (for family reasons, we're told), ending seven years in that post and 14 years with the stations.

In her time at the helm, Carey presided over some big changes: she negotiated the contract that brought Brother Wease back to the Rochester airwaves on WFXF (95.1 the Fox), and she oversaw the move of the seven-station cluster from the now-shuttered Midtown Plaza into the former CBS Radio space across the street at the HSBC Building.

No replacement has been named so far.

*For public radio listeners in Ithaca, changes are coming fast and furious this month: in addition to the impending launch of WITH (90.1), the new joint venture of Geneva's Hobart and William Smith colleges and Rochester's WXXI, the signal of Hobart's own public radio voice, WEOS (89.7 Geneva) disappeared for many Ithaca listeners on Thursday.

That's when Ithaca Community Radio, the local group that has been relaying WEOS over translator W201CD (88.1 Lansing), switched the translator's feed to WSQX (91.5 Binghamton), the secondary service of public broadcaster WSKG. The WSQX program lineup, which mixes jazz with some talk programming (including Ithaca favorite "Democracy Now"), had already been available to Ithaca-area listeners with HD radios via the HD2 subchannel of WSKG's local signal, WSQG (90.9 Ithaca).

ICR says it's only carrying WSQX as a temporary measure - it expects to lose off-air reception of WEOS once WITH signs on at full power later this month, and it's building local studios in anticipation of the launch of its own station, WINO (89.9 Odessa), later this year. WINO will also be heard on the 88.1 translator in Ithaca once it signs on.

(Enhanced usual disclaimer: your editor works for WXXI, and - here's that "enhanced" part - will be pitching for membership dollars this afternoon on WEOS.)

Family Life Network has signed on its newest signal: WCIJ (88.9) is now on the air in Unadilla, extending the network's coverage north and east from Binghamton.

We can now attach a price tag to Sound Communications' purchase of the former Route 81 cluster in Elmira and Corning: the owners of Fox affiliate WYDC-TV (Channel 48) are paying $1.425 million for the six radio stations now owned by WS2K Radio Group. (The cluster includes AM news-talk simulcast WENY/WENI, sports outlet WCBA, AC "Magic" simulcast WENY-FM/WENI-FM and oldies WGMM.) As we noted in our May 3 edition, that's a steep discount from the $4.5 million that Route 81 had paid prior owner Eolin for the stations back in 2003.


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*RHODE ISLAND Public Broadcasting is adding another signal. The FCC last week granted RIPR a construction permit for 88.1 in Newport, where it will run 100 watts/157' from a water tower on Reservoir Avenue, east of downtown. RIPR's application had originally been dismissed due to potential interference with WKIV (88.1 Westerly).

When it signs on, the new Newport signal will be RIPR's third broadcast outlet, joining WRNI-FM (102.7 Narragansett Pier) across Narragansett Bay and WRNI (1290) in Providence.

*Radio People on the Move in VERMONT: Burlington veteran Louie Manno has signed on with Jeff Loper's Twin Valleys New Media Network, where he's now director of programming and content for the chain of Retro Television-affiliated TV stations that includes WGMU (Channel 39) in Burlington and WNMN (Channel 40) in Saranac Lake.

“Our goal is to break the mold when it comes to serving our local communities. We want to involve our audience and our advertisers and to have fun while doing it,” Manno says of his new role overseeing local programming for the stations.

Meanwhile, Mike Luoma is the new music director at WNCS (104.7 Montpelier) and its "Point" network of stations across the state.

*Radio People on the Move in MASSACHUSETTS: Bernice Corpuz, whose resume includes afternoon news at WZID (95.7 Manchester NH) and more recently morning news anchoring at WCAP (980 Lowell), is leaving the Lowell station to become a full-time member of the news staff at Boston's WBZ (1030). In a particularly classy move, WCAP owner Clark Smidt is running on-air promos congratulating Corpuz on her move to the bigger station...and how often do you hear that?

(Your editor is thinking he was the last to make that WCAP-to-WBZ move, some 18 years ago; there were quite certainly no on-air promos about it at the time.)

*One Radio Person on the Move in CONNECTICUT: Chad Erickson is leaving Clear Channel Hartford after seven years as its creative director; he's going full-time with his voiceover business at


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*An odd move in western PENNSYLVANIA: ESPN Radio's WEAE (1250 Pittsburgh) cut six staffers loose last week, with a curious explanation from VP/GM Mike Thompson to the Post-Gazette: "We're in the position where we're very strong. Sometimes you do these decisions when you're in a position of strength," he told the paper.

In any event, "1250 ESPN" will somehow have to now maintain that "position of strength" without PD Jim Graci (Thompson will take on the PD role), production director Larry Gerson or sports update anchors Eartha Jackson and Joe DeStio. Gerson, Jackson and DeStio were all veteran employees at the station, going back to the days when it was still WTAE, a full-service outlet owned by Hearst.

*Near Scranton, two noncommercial FMs have swapped calls: WCIN (91.3 Carbondale) and WFUZ (90.9 Laporte) are now WFUZ and WCIN, respectively. The Laporte signal is an unbuilt CP belonging to Family Life Network (which likes those WCI_ calls for its stations), while the Carbondale signal belongs to Kevin Fitzgerald's Telikoja Educational Foundation, though at least for now it's still carrying programming from FLN, its former owner.

*Our news from CANADA begins with a proposed frequency change in Montreal: Canadian Hellenic Cable Radio is asking the CRTC to let it move CKDG ("Mike FM") from 105.1 to 106.7, the frequency that was recently vacated by Aboriginal Voices Radio when it shuttered its Montreal operation (CKAV-FM-10).

The move would allow CKDG to increase its power from 224 watts to 1.2 kW DA/638', doubling the population within CKDG's 3 mV/m contour; it will also put CKDG right next to its new sister station on the dial, CKIN (106.3), which is due to debut this summer. When the CKIN license was granted back in 2007, it included a condition that required a frequency change if there was interference to AVR's signal at 106.7. That condition was removed when AVR surrendered its license; if the CKDG application is granted, it will be up to Canadian Hellenic to resolve any interference between its own pair of second-adjacent signals.

*On TV, the CBC and Radio-Canada want to swap out some of the satellite feeds that now provide programming to remote corners of the country. For several decades now, Montreal's CBMT (Channel 6) in English and, to a lesser extent, CBFT (Channel 2) in French have been seen in places as remote as Newfoundland and northern Manitoba, a relic of the days when the Montreal feeds were the only full-time satellite feeds available for relay. That's long since changed, and now the CBC is asking the CRTC for permission to put more appropriate regional feeds on some of those transmitters.

In Newfoundland, Radio-Canada wants to alter its licenses to allow it relay CBAFT from Moncton, New Brunswick over CBFJ (Channel 4) in St. John's and CBFNT (Channel 13) Port-au-Port, replacing the CBFT Montreal feed that's been licensed over those transmitters. (It appears that Radio-Canada may have been using the CBAFT feed on the Newfoundland transmitters for a few years, regardless of what the CRTC licenses say.)

In northern Ontario, CBLIT (Channel 10) in Armstrong would pick up CBLT from Toronto instead of CBMT from Montreal; CBMT's feed to several small towns in northern Manitoba will be replaced by CBWT from Winnipeg.

And an odd addition to our "Baseball on the Radio" listings: the Toronto Blue Jays have never had any French-language radio broadcasts (or, as best we can tell, any Francophone following at all), but Montreal's CKAC (730) has signed on to do eight Jays games en francais this season. The first two, with Jeremy Filosa and Alex Agostino behind the mic, aired from Rogers Centre in Toronto over the weekend.

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!)

May 18, 2009 -

  • A western PENNSYLVANIA radio institution is succumbing to the economy. For nearly half a century, the call letters "WAMO" - which officially stand for the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers that meet in Pittsburgh - have been synonymous with programming for the region's black community, and it was that community that was stunned Friday by the news that Sheridan Broadcasting, which has owned the WAMO stations for more than 35 years, had reached a deal to sell them to an organization called Saint Joseph Missions, bringing an end to the urban-oriented formats on the stations.
  • What Saint Joseph gets for its money is a relative bargain: for $8.9 million, it gets the current incarnation of WAMO-FM, a class B facility on 106.7 licensed to Beaver Falls and serving the northern half of the Pittsburgh market with R&B from a transmitter site in Wexford, as well as two AMs - urban talk/R&B oldies WAMO (860 Millvale), with 1000 watts by day, 830 watts at night and a solid signal over the core of the market, and gospel WPGR (1510 Monroeville), a 5 kW daytimer serving primarily the eastern side of the market.
  • So who is Saint Joseph Missions? According to the statement the nonprofit filed in a 2007 application (still pending) for a new noncommercial signal on 91.7 in Ligonier, it's "organized exclusively for religious, educational, and charitable purposes," in particular those of the Catholic Church. There's little question, then, about what format Pittsburgh listeners will be hearing on 106.7, 860 and 1510 once the sale closes - and no small bit of irony there, since another Catholic broadcaster, Relevant Radio, apparently couldn't make a go out of its lease of a much smaller local signal, WZUM (1590 Carnegie), which has been cycling through several temporary formats in the last few days.
  • NEW YORK's Pacifica outlet, WBAI (99.5), is no stranger to management turmoil, and that seemingly endless loop is making another cycle this spring. Pacifica national management removed GM Anthony Riddle from his post earlier this month, and station veteran Bernard White says the 10-day suspension he's serving amounts to an ouster from the PD chair he was occupying. Lavarn Williams is serving as acting general manager as the national Pacifica board tries to get the station back on sound financial footing.
  • There's a callsign change in the Catskills: WXHD (90.1 Mount Hope), the relay of New Jersey's freeform WFMU (91.1 East Orange), has changed its calls to WMFU, an anagram of the mothership's callsign. Yes, the station is well aware of the potential fun that those with filthy minds (In radio? Never!) might have with the new callsign - and it's already fielding potential guesses as to what the WMFU calls really ought to stand for. (Our favorite among the early entries: "We Must Forget Upsala," a reference to the now-defunct college that was WFMU's original licensee.)
  • Over in Utica, we'll know this morning how serious Roser Communications is about the "format change" it's been heavily promoting at its pair of "Kiss FM" top-40 stations, WSKS (97.9 Whitesboro)/WSKU (105.5 Little Falls). The stations garnered lots of publicity late last week when they announced that "financial constraints" were forcing them to flip to a new format at 7:30 Monday morning - but since Kiss is also promising that its airstaff won't be affected, and since there's no mention of the "changes" on its website, it certainly has that "stunt" scent to us. Stay tuned; we'll be listening Monday morning to see what, if anything, happens.
  • MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: After a series of tearful "goodbyes" from the airstaff, the stations "relaunched" at 7:30 with the soft AC format from sister station WUTQ (1550) as "Beautiful Music 97.9 & 105.5," and nearly 20 minutes later, it's still smelling stunt-y, what with the jock complaining on-air about the "new format" and all... (And sure enough, just before 10 AM, "Kiss FM" returned to its old format, with new morning man Eric Thomas having used the "Beautiful Music," followed by "Whatever FM," as his way of introducing himself to the market.)
  • A former CONNECTICUT callsign is back on the air in the Hartford market. Now that John Fuller's Red Wolf Broadcasting has taken control of WURH (104.1 Waterbury), the station is returning to the WMRQ, "Radio 104" identity it used from 1995-2003.

May 16, 2005 -

  • A PENNSYLVANIA morning team returns to the air today after a contentious absence. The "Preston and Steve" show has been off the airwaves since February 24, when Radio One pulled the plug on modern rock "Y100" (WPLY 100.3 Media), sending Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison packing along with the rest of the staff. Elliot and Morrison had already reached a deal to move to Greater Media's WMMR (93.3 Philadelphia) before the end of Y100, and the station's demise sent the duo to court to try to get out of their six-month noncompete deal with Radio One, a wish that was granted last week.
  • With Preston & Steve's arrival at WMMR comes the departure of the "Philly Guys" morning show; in a note to listeners on WMMR's website, PD Bill Weston writes, "We recognize the individual talents that made up the Philly Guys. It’s also the right combination of talents that is key to a successful morning show. This ‘chemistry’ and/ or complementary aspect was lacking in the Philly Guys." Philly Guys cast member Joe Conklin stays with WMMR to produce comedy bits, while Gina Crash and Vinnie the Crumb are out the door.
  • And there's a call change in Scranton that marks the end of a very long tradition in the market: Entercom flipped WGBI (910 Scranton) to WBZU last week, the first call change for that station in some 80 years. The WBZU calls are being parked as the result of a format change in Madison, Wisconsin (where the former WBZU 105.1 is now "Charlie" WCHY), much as sister station WKZN (1300 West Hazleton) is parking calls last used in New Orleans. For listeners, WBZU and WKZN will still be known as "WILK," simulcasting the "WILK News-Talk Network" from WILK (980 Wilkes-Barre); it's been quite a few years since the WGBI calls made much impact in the market.
  • In NEW YORK, WXRK (92.3 New York) overnight jock Lee "Crazy Cabbie" Mroszak is going to prison for 12 months for tax evasion. "Cabbie" is a frequent guest on the Howard Stern show, and he made a big chunk of money in 2001 in an amateur boxing match with former Stern cast member "Stuttering John" Melendez. That wouldn't have been a problem - except that Mroszak never paid taxes on his winnings, and bragged about it on the Stern show. Mroszak pleaded guilty in December; by the time he's out of prison, Stern will be history on K-Rock, and it'll be interesting to see if there's a K-Rock for Cabbie to return to at all.
  • Over at troubled sister station WNEW (Mix 102.7), Rick Stacy was sent packing at week's end. Stacy had survived a succession of formats at WNEW going back to the early days of "Blink."
  • On the TV dial - or is that radio? - WNYZ-LP (Channel 6) began testing from its Long Island City transmitter site last week, with its audio carrier (at 87.76 MHz - an eagle-eyed NERW reader points out that the station has a 10 kHz plus offset on its frequency) being widely heard throughout the metro area, so far just with tones. WNYZ-LP will be leasing time to Spanish-language programmers when it begins regular operation.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, Entercom's WEEI (850 Boston) has signed the Boston Red Sox for the 2006 season, in a deal expected to be worth between $8-12 million. The rights deal will, as expected, move the Sox affiliation in Providence from WPRO to Entercom's WEEI-FM (103.7 Westerly).
  • Radio (and TV) People on the Move: Jon Keller has started his new gig as a political commentator at WBZ-TV (Channel 4), returning to WBZ (where he was the producer of the David Brudnoy Show on the radio side) after many successful years on WLVI (Channel 56). Over at Greater Media, Kevin Redding joins WROR (105.7 Framingham) for afternoons; he'd been at WAAF most recently, doing weekends and vacation fill. And in Plymouth, WPLM-FM (99.1) operations/production manager Pat Cronin is leaving the station, effective June 1.
  • The new schedule on WGBH (89.7 Boston) takes effect May 31, and it creates a bit more duplication with rival public radio outlet WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston), as WGBH adds a third hour of Morning Edition from 8-9 AM weekdays, cutting an hour off its classical music programming. The jazz on "Eric in the Evening" will start an hour later as well, as WGBH adds Christopher Lydon's new "Open Source" talk show.

May 19, 2000 -

  • Boston's daytime-only urban AM station, WILD (1090), is about to join the fastest-growing urban station group in the country. Radio One, which entered the market last year with its purchase of Brockton's WBOT (97.7), is entering a time-brokerage agreement that will put WBOT under WILD's Dudley Square roof.
  • WILD's owners, the Nash family, have fought valiantly to keep a successful music format on the 5 kilowatt daytimer in the face of competitors like Clear Channel's WJMN (94.5) and now WBOT. Despite occasional rumors about deals that would give WILD an FM presence, until now the station has remained AM-only. The deal with Radio One keeps the station's license in the hands of the Nash family, honoring Bernardine Nash's promise not to sell the station after the death a few years back of her husband. It is, however, expected to allow Radio One to change the calls of 97.7 to "WILD-FM," putting the well-known "WILD" brand where most of the format's listeners now tune. As for format changes on AM 1090? NERW expects the station's music to start skewing a bit older, with more talk mixed in, but with no real change to the station's mission of serving Boston's black community. WILD becomes Radio One's 50th station nationwide.
  • Elsewhere in MASSACHUSETTS, an unusual partnership is in the works between a commercial broadcaster, Aritaur's WMVY (92.7 Tisbury) on Martha's Vineyard, and a public broadcaster, WGBH's WNAN (91.1 Nantucket). Aritaur will serve as the exclusive local underwriting representative for WNAN (as well as for WCAI 90.1 Woods Hole when it makes its debut later this summer), thereby saving WCAI/WNAN the trouble of looking for underwriting on its own (and, really, it makes sense -- after all, the same upscale audience that listens to WMVY's AAA format is likely to be CAI/NAN's type as well).
  • An affiliation change in New Bedford: WLWC (Channel 28) is shifting from being the WB affiliate for Providence to the UPN affiliate -- but fans of "Felicity" needn't fear. While UPN takes over the 8-10 PM prime hours on WLWC (and it's only fair; the station is owned by UPN parent Paramount), WB shows will air weeknights from 10-11 and on weekend afternoons and evenings.
  • The staff at one VERMONT TV station didn't have to go far to cover a fire on Wednesday. That's because it was WNNE (Channel 31)'s studio that was on fire! The Rutland Herald reports a discarded cigarette started a fire in some wood chips alongside the building in White River Junction, and the flames soon spread to the siding of the WNNE studios. Nobody was hurt and the fire was quickly extinguished, with no damage to the station's equipment.
  • It's been a big week in CANADA, as the CRTC hands out licenses for several new stations in Ontario. In Hamilton, Doug Kirk and Rae Roe get the go-ahead for a new smooth-jazz outlet on 94.7. The station will operate with 1880 watts (in true Canadian fashion, no tower site or height is specified), and the CRTC is hoping it will provide competition for the market's other owners, Telemedia, WIC (selling to Corus/Shaw), and Affinity. Affinity and NewCap also applied for the frequency but were turned down (and now we hear Affinity may sell its CHAM 820 to Kirk and Roe and leave the market entirely). Speaking of Affinity, we're also hearing about some big personnel cuts at its other Southern Ontario outlets, as in 17 people in one day at CKTB (610 St. Catharines).
  • Up in Barrie, Rock 95 Broadcasting (CFJB 95.7) levels the playing field against Shaw/Corus, which owns CHAY (93.1) and CIQB (101.1), by getting a second FM. The CRTC turned down applications from CHUM Ltd. and from Larche, granting 107.5 to Rock 95 for a new CHR station.

New England Radio Watch, May 18, 1995

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