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May 31, 2010

"EZ Rock" Lands in Ottawa

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*On a slow holiday week in the U.S., we start this week's abbreviated edition of NERW north of the border, where CANADA's capital city has a new radio station.

Astral Media's CJOT (99.7 Ottawa) began testing a few weeks back, and last Thursday (May 27) it launched officially as the latest outlet of Astral's "EZ Rock" brand.

The station's airstaff includes the "EZ Breakfast Show" with Neil Hedley (late of New England radio, including stops at Connecticut's WWYZ and WRKI and Metro Networks in Hartford), Stephanie "Viv" Vivier (most recently at CIQM in London) and Steve Kennedy; they're followed by Renee Madden in middays and Sarah Kay and Jeff Kelly in afternoons.

*In Quebec City, the CRTC rejected three proposals for new FM stations: on 105.7, Michel Cloutier proposed a French-language jazz/blues station, while Evanov Communications proposed a French-language contemporary easy listening station. Evanov also proposed a new English-language station on 105.3.

The CRTC agreed with Quebec City's existing broadcasters that the market lacked the economic vitality to support a new competitor - and in particular that the Anglophone community in Quebec City was too small to support Evanov's proposed English-language signal, which would therefore have to draw an audience from the Francophone community to survive.

CRTC commissioner Timothy Denton objected strongly to the Evanov denial, writing in his dissent, "If the people of Quebec City wish to listen to English-language radio, or any foreign-language radio, it is not the concern of the federal government to prevent it." Denton goes on to attack the current regulatory system, writing: "My colleagues in the majority clearly consider that the Evanov proposal might have been profitable, but at an unacceptable cost to the local francophone radio market. Maybe the current rules impose an unacceptable set of competitive conditions on French-language radio."

And back in Ontario, Milkman UnLimited reports that Dan Mellon is leaving his job as program director of CHUM Radio Kingston (CFLY 98.3/CKLC 98.9) to become a full-time instructor at Ottawa's Algonquin College. Mellon spent the last five years in the PD chair, and had been with the Kingston cluster since he was a teenager. (He also gave your editor a nice tour of the studios a couple of years ago, for which we remain grateful.)


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*For a decade, "Memorial Day" and NEW YORK radio meant one thing: "WABC Rewound." The days of on-air broadcasts of vintage Musicradio airchecks on WABC (770 New York) are over now, but the tradition continues online: WABC is offering downloadable airchecks from "Rewound 2009" at its website, and more impressively, Allan Sniffen's "Rewound Radio" is streaming a nonstop feed of previous "Rewound" installments all through the long holiday weekend, with the modern advertising interruptions and introductions edited out.

Out on Long Island, Sachem High School's powerful WSHR (91.9 Lake Ronkonkoma) changed formats last week, dropping the jazz and oldies that had been part of the station's playlist. Instead, WSHR is now "91.9 the Arrow," with a fulltime top-40 format.

One of Jamestown's low-power FM stations is changing frequency. WOGM-LP (105.9) at the Lighthouse Baptist Church had to leave its channel to make room for the new WGWE (105.9 Little Valley) that signed on last fall. At WGWE's request, WOGM-LP went silent on May 9, and after applying for a move to 105.1 (denied due to short-spacing to a new 105.1A allotment at Sheffield, PA), the Jamestown station has now been granted a move to 104.7. While it hasn't moved, its height above average terrain has been recalculated, resulting in a power boost from 43 to 70 watts.

Here in Rochester, Clear Channel has been granted a construction permit to move its "Kiss 106.7" to a new transmitter site. WKGS (106.7 Irondequoit) will move from its longtime home atop the Seneca Towers apartment building on the north side of Rochester to the Pinnacle Hill tower farm in Brighton, and will get a power increase (from 3.5 kW/266' to 4.6 kW/374') in the process.

In Syracuse, reports Citadel's WSKO (1260) is adding to its local sports lineup with a new midday show. Danny Parkins, who produces the "Bud and the Manchild" morning show on WSKO, is now hosting his own show from noon-2 PM weekdays. With the addition of the Parkins show, WSKO is live and local from 10 AM until 6 PM daily.

WSKO also recently added to its sports roster, announcing a deal with the Syracuse Crunch AHL hockey team that will bring the Crunch to "The Score" for the 2010-2011 season. The Crunch had been heard on rival sports outlet WHEN (620) in recent years.

In Gloversville, Michael Sleezer's WFNY (1440) has been granted its license to cover for its daytime power boost from 3.6 kW to 5 kW. Night power at the oldies station remains 500 watts - but that daytime increase is a nice hike from the original 800 watt power level WFNY was using when it signed on back in 2002.

(And just down the road from Gloversville, in Cobleskill, we're told that the Ed Horak who's buying WSDE 1190 is none other than "Ed Sherlock," who used to own WBXQ in the Altoona, Pennsylvania market; thanks to Clarke Ingram, who consulted for Q94 back in the day, for pointing that out...)

*Just like the Memorial Day weekend fun, the news this week from NEW JERSEY is all at the shore. In Barnegat, north of Atlantic City, WBNJ (91.9) makes its official debut tomorrow, programming a mix of standards and oldies.

Down the shore in Cape May, Allied Communications Network Two has been granted a construction permit for a new signal on 91.5. The new 1 kW/63' station promises a bilingual station serving the area's Latino community.

*It's not just New York City that gets to relive vintage radio memories on Memorial Day. Western PENNSYLVANIA gets to join in on the fun, too, thanks to "Radio 9" host/producer Jay Thurber and Carnegie Mellon's WRCT (88.3 Pittsburgh). WRCT's Monday lineup includes a three-hour special, "Chuck Brinkman Remembers 1964," produced by Thurber and "Alfred E. Newman" of the old WBZZ/B94 and hosted by Brinkman, the longtime KQV/WTAE host who's now in Texas. The Brinkman special airs Monday from noon-3 PM on WRCT and online at

Where are they now? Former Pittsburgh jock John Garabo (WDSY) just took a new gig as PD/afternoons at ZFKY, "Rooster 101," on Grand Cayman Island, reports

While we didn't intend to do "Hockey on the Radio" this week, we note that the AHL's Hershey Bears are making big additions to their radio coverage for the 2010-2011 season. In addition to flagship WQIC (100.1 Lebanon), the Bears will be heard this fall on WTKT (1460 Harrisburg), WOYK (1350 York), WPDC (1600 Elizabethtown), WLPA (1490 Lancaster), plus the HD2 channel of WRVV (97.3 Harrisburg) and streaming coverage on

And back in Pittsburgh, we note the passing of Slim Bryant. Best known as a country music songwriter and guitarist, Bryant was also a big part of early Steel City radio and TV. He first perfomed on KDKA in 1931, and became a regular part of the station's staff in 1940 after moving to Pittsburgh, performing on the early-morning KDKA "Farm Hour" for two decades with his band, the Wildcats. Bryant also performed on the city's very first TV broadcast, the debut of WDTV (Channel 3) in January 1949, kicking off a decade-long TV career. Bryant was 101 when he died Friday (May 28).


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*A veteran VERMONT broadcaster is retiring. Ed Johnson had most recently been heard in the overnight hours on Burlington oldies station WKOL (105.1 Plattsburgh NY); no replacement for that shift has been named.

*Wally Brine is a long-running morning radio star in MASSACHUSETTS, of course, but he was in RHODE ISLAND a week ago for the rededication of Salty Brine State Beach in Narragansett. It was back in 1990 that the former Galilee State Beach was renamed for Salty, Wally's dad and of course a WPRO legend in his own right - but this summer marks the opening of a $1.9 million renovation that includes a new bathhouse and pavilion.

*The MAINE Public Broadcasting Network is getting a power boost at its Portland outlet. WMEA (90.1) had been running 24.5 kW/1897' from the WCSH-TV tower; now it has the FCC's blessing to install a directional antenna that will allow it to increase power to 50 kW while protecting adjacent-channel signals in New Hampshire.

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!)

June 1, 2009 -

  • Three weeks after WTKK (96.9 Boston) pulled him off the airwaves of eastern MASSACHUSETTS, talker Jay Severin will be back on the air tomorrow, following what Greater Media says were ongoing discussions about the direction his show will take. "We have had conversations with Jay Severin over the past several weeks about his hurtful, inappropriate remarks," said a Greater Media statement released Saturday. "He understands that we will not accept this type of commentary on our airwaves in the future...We want to emphasize that WTKK still strongly supports an open and spirited debate about the many issues our community and our country currently face. There will no doubt be times when people disagree with what Jay says. Our goal is to maintain a level of discourse that is compelling and thought-provoking, yet civil and respectful. While we will not always succeed in walking this line, we will continually strive to do so." Severin disappeared from WTKK's afternoon slot following comments he made about Mexicans in the wake of the swine flu epidemic; it wasn't his first suspension in a long career of controversy, and it's a pretty safe bet it won't be his last.
  • In NEW HAMPSHIRE and MAINE, several new construction permits have been saved from deletion, thanks to the FCC rule that allows small business owners to get an 18-month extension if they buy a CP prior to the three-year construction deadline.
  • In Maine, Daniel Priestly's Waterfront Communications has transferred CPs on 1230 in Newport and 1240 in Ellsworth to Gary Fogg's Wireless Fidelity of North America, Inc. for $22,000 each, while in Stratford, N.H., Jackman Holding Company has sold WTTT (98.7) to Virginia-based Silver Fish Broadcasting, controlled by Carlton and Aubrey Fitch and Peyton Young, for $100,000. (WTTT has a still-pending application from 2007 to change community of license to Bretton Woods - and to put its transmitter atop Mount Washington.)
  • In northwestern PENNSYLVANIA, the consolidation of sister stations WICU-TV (Channel 12) and WSEE-TV (Channel 35) in Erie entered its final stage late last week, when several WSEE staffers offered on-air goodbyes as the CBS affiliate prepared to vacate its longtime downtown studio building and reconfigure its news schedule. While WSEE and WICU had been sharing services behind the scenes for several years, including a common master control and sales department (at WICU's State Street studios) and a common creative-services department (at the WSEE building), their news staffs had remained separate and competitive...until Thursday, when WSEE's airstaff signed off from 1220 Peach Street.
  • Several familiar WSEE faces - most notably morning/noon anchor Raychel Vendetti- won't be making the move to State Street, where separate WSEE-branded newscasts will continue to air in some timeslots beginning today. (The details of the new schedule were still being firmed up over the weekend, we hear.)

May 30, 2005 -

  • Even as "Jack FM" and its "adult hits" clones have been invading the English-language radio dial from one coast to the other, Spanish-language radio has been upended in the last year or so by a format that's being called "Hurban" - a high-energy mix of the Spanish-language rap music called "reggaeton" and hip-hop, usually delivered by bilingual announcers.
  • On Friday, the format arrived in NEW YORK, as Univision Radio flipped WCAA (105.9 Newark NJ)/WZAA (92.7 Garden City) from "Latino Mix," the Spanish hits format that had been running on 105.9 for a few years now, to "La Kalle 105.9 y 92.7, hip hop y mas." The New York format flip follows hot on the heels of recent flips to Hurban in Los Angeles, Phoenix and elsewhere, and it's expected to make WCAA/WZAA a stronger competitor against the big Spanish-language FMs in town (especially SBS' WSKQ 97.9) - and against English-language top 40 as well, which has been mixing more reggaeton into its playlists of late.
  • The radio dial in Rochester is a little poorer this week, in two ways. Gary Smith's retirement from WHAM (1180) closes a 50-year career that's included stops at WSAY, WVET/WROC, WNYR/WEZO and WVOR. Most recently, Smith had been doing morning traffic on WHAM and tracking middays on sister station WISY (102.3 Canandaigua), as well as plenty of sports announcing for both local pro and college teams.
  • And the death of Katy Abraham ends a career that included 50 years as co-host (with husband Doc Abraham, who died in January) of "The Green Thumb" on WHAM (not to mention a quarter-century on TV at WOKR, now WHAM-TV.) Katy Abraham died Tuesday night (May 24) at her home in Naples, N.Y.; she was 83.
  • In CANADA, an unusual travelers information station has gone silent. CFYZ (1280) at Toronto's Pearson International Airport was an unusal station, operating at relatively high power (400 watts) and offering live programming during drive times - but it was also relatively expensive for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority to operate. Milkman UnLimited reports that the official word from the GTAA is that "service has been suspended pending exploration of alternatives," and that listeners are hearing a dead carrier on 1280.

June 2, 2000 -

  • Two stories out of MASSACHUSETTS this week rekindle our fading fantasies of a world in which full-power broadcasters can work with community radio stations to better serve the public.
  • We start in Maynard, where high school station WAVM (91.7) was fighting for its survival, with its application to upgrade from class D status pitted against competing 91.7 applications from several religious broadcasters and from UMass/Boston's WUMB, which hoped to add a 91.7 transmitter in nearby Stow. With a stellar 27-year record of service to its community, WAVM went on the public relations offensive a few months back, rallying support in the newspapers and among lawmakers.
  • NERW stepped into the fray in our February 25 issue, prompting a response from WUMB general manager Pat Monteith, whose open attitude towards the issue led us to make this observation: "NERW wonders whether, given WAVM's limited broadcast schedule, some kind of share-time arrangement could be the saving grace here?"
  • And indeed, it seems to be. Wednesday morning, officials from WUMB and WAVM gathered at Maynard High to announce just such an arrangement, under which WUMB programming will be heard on WAVM whenever students aren't broadcasting (in practice, all day long except for 6:30-7:30 AM and 2-9 PM weekdays and Sunday mornings during the school year). What's more, WAVM's talented students will now be able to do internships at WUMB. Of course, WAVM's application for a power upgrade to 150 watts will still need FCC approval (against several competing religious satellite-fed applications), but with the political firepower behind the WAVM-WUMB deal (including Congressman Marty Meehan), we suspect the Commission will have some answering to do if the upgrade isn't granted.
  • As promising as the WAVM-WUMB compromise is, there's an even more exciting development bridging the Charles River a few miles to the east. Unlike just about every other commercial broadcaster in the country, WJIB (740 Cambridge) owner Bob Bittner is (gasp!) a fan of the low-power FM movement -- and this week he put his license where his mouth is. Starting tomorrow, Bittner is donating his Saturday night airtime (starting at 9PM) to Allston-Brighton Free Radio, Steve Provizer's micropower community station that's currently having a hard time being heard on 1580 kHz with its hundred milliwatts of legal power. WJIB will carry ABFR's hyper-local informational programming, shows like "Boston's Seniors Count" and "Children's Health Connection," bringing them to a far wider audience (even on 740's little 5-watt night signal!) than the 1580 transmitter can provide.
  • There's still more good news to be found in the Bay State: Larry Glick is returning to radio on a regular basis. After paving the way for a comeback with guest appearances on WBZ's Steve Leveille show and on WMEX (1060 Natick), Glick has signed on with WMEX for a regular Sunday afternoon slot. It's only an hour -- 4 to 5 PM -- but that's an hour more of Glick than Boston listeners have enjoyed for nearly a decade! (Those of us outside WMEX range can listen to the Web feed on
  • Up in NEW HAMPSHIRE, there's some good news from Berlin. Just a few days after going silent, WMOU (1230) returned to the air last weekend with new owners-to-be. Arnold Hanson Jr. and Stephen Griffin, who own a steel company in Berlin, approached owners Bob and Gladys Powell after hearing that WMOU was closing. The Berlin Daily Sun reports that while neither man has any broadcast experience, they didn't want to lose their community's only local radio voice. No purchase price was announced.
  • Up in CANADA, some big changes this week for radio listeners in Fredericton, New Brunswick: The country programming of CKHJ has moved from 105.3 FM to the three-way simulcast (1260 Fredericton, 95.5 New Maryland, 103.5 Oromocto) that was, until last week, hit radio CIHI (aka "C-hi"). Replacing CKHJ on the FM side, as of Thursday morning (6/1), is adult contemporary CFXY-FM ("105FM the Fox"). NERW wonders whether CKHJ's country audience on FM was diluted by Saint John's CHSJ-FM, whose 94.1 signal from Mount Champlain has been heard loud and clear in Fredericton for two years now. (Speaking of Saint John, the licensee of the new community station there is the University of New Brunswick - Saint John, not the "University of Saint John" -- that was the CRTC's goof!)

New England Radio Watch, June 1, 1995

  • WEEI (850, sports, 50kw) has named a new program director -- and after weeks of rumors of veterans of WFAN or ESPN Radio coming up here, they ended up hiring in-house! Glenn Ordway has been a p-b-p announcer and talk host with 'EEI since the 590 days, and now he's running the show. 'EEI's Eddie Andelman did a live
    show last week from the Strand Theater in Dorchester, with the topic "Racism in Boston Sports." Former 'EEI talker Jimmy Myers, who loudly complained about racism when he was fired a few years back, was invited but declined to attend. The audience was VERY small -- reportedly just 20 or so.
  • A veteran WBZ newsman has retired. Darrell Gould left WBZ this month after almost 30 years with the station, and close to four decades in New England radio. Darrell was statehouse correspondent for BZ for many years, and had recently been doing the evening news shift, which is now being filled on a rotating basis by part-timers.
  • *If you enjoyed hearing BZ's Gary LaPierre filling in for Paul Harvey earlier this month -- you'll get another chance to hear him this Thursday (June 1). And this time (modesty off) I'm writing for him. So if you don't like what you hear on the Harvey show this Thursday -- you know who to blame :-)
  • Imus has moved in the NH seacoast market - from WZNN 930 Rochester to sister station "Mix 96.7," which changed its calls from WWEM to WSRI, "Soft Rock and Imus." WZNN now shares a standards show in the morning with sister WMYF 1540 Exeter, then breaks away to satellite AM Only after AM drive. WMYF runs Stardust, but WZNN was not able to simulcast because its signal overlaps with Stardust affil WASR 1420 Wolfeboro NH. After Imus, WSRI has a AAA-modern rock format.
  • Radio Equity Partners has closed its purchase of WWRX-FM 103.7 (classic rock) Westerly-Providence RI from Bear Broadcasting. R.E.P. already owns WWBB-FM 101.5 (B101, oldies) in Providence. Bear keeps WHIM(AM) (1110, country) in E. Providence, along with WERI(AM) (1230, ac) in Westerly, and a CP for WUAE-FM
    99.7 in Wakefield RI. Every high-power FM in Providence is now duopolized, except for WBRU-FM 95.5, which is affiliated with Brown University
  • Now that WNLC-1510 in New London, CT has become part of a four-station combo (with WTYD-100.9 New London and WICH-1310/ WCTY-97.7 Norwich), WNLC's format has flipped from CNN headline news to standards. The signal is still awful - it's directional to the south to protect WNRB in Boston, and there's not much
    to the south of New London except fish (and the tip of Long Island).

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