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June 7, 2010

"EZ Rock" Lands in Ottawa

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*After another quiet holiday-shortened week, we once again turn to CANADA's capital city for our lead story.

In the space of just a week, Ottawa has added two new FM signals to its dial - first Astral's "EZ Rock 99.7" (CJOT), and as of today, Frank Torres' "101.9 DAWG FM" (CIDG).

The new station, which mixes blues with rock and R&B, began testing its 3 kW/321' DA signal from downtown Ottawa early last week. Today marks the debut of an airstaff that includes the morning team of Geoff Winter (ex-CHEZ 106) and Laura Mainella, as well as midday jock "Ali Kat" (Ali Misener, late of CHRI), afternoon jock J-man, "Black at Night" with Dylan Black and weekender Carly D. There is - or will soon be - live streaming as well, at

Still to come is yet one more new Ottawa FM, the French community station at 94.5 that was authorized as part of the CRTC's re-examination of its licensing process after its initial grants on 99.7 and 101.9 were overruled at a higher level of the Canadian government.

*Speaking of French-language community stations, CIBL (101.5 Montreal) wants a power increase from 293 watts DA to 3 kW DA/631'. The station's transmitter would remain at its current home atop the office building at the corner of rue St.-Denis and boul. Rosemont.

Up in Owen Sound, Ontario, Bayshore Broadcasting has re-submitted its application to consolidate the antennas of its two FMs, CKYC (Country 93.7) and CIXK (Mix 106.5), at a new shared tower site. Bayshore had originally proposed the move in February, only to withdraw that application because of possible conflicts with the CRTC's multiple-ownership rules. The new application slightly reduces the power levels for each station to prevent overlap with Bayshore's other FM properties in Port Elgin and Wasaga Beach; Bayshore says it's hoping for quick approval of the new application in order to avoid having to do a short-term lease renewal at its existing sites, where leases expire in September 2010 and April 2011.

And in Kingston, Milkman UnLimited reports that Glenn "G" Williams, PD of CIKR (K Rock 105.7) has died following a two-year struggle with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Williams helped launch the station in 2001, and had been morning co-host since 2007. He died at his lakeside home last Monday (May 31) at just 42, survived by his wife Jodi Decker, who's a jock on CFMK (FM 96) and two sons.

*Stateside, it was a quiet week in New England: in MASSACHUSETTS, acting WXRV (92.5 Andover) PD Catie Wilber has been promoted to fulltime PD, seven months after taking over from Beau Raines. Wilber had been the River's music director, and no replacement has been named for that post yet.

In MAINE, WTUX (101.1 Gouldsboro) was heard testing over the weekend. Formerly WLEK, the new station will apparently be simulcasting rocker WTOS (105.1 Skowhegan), giving 'TOS a three-station network spanning the state from north of Bangor to the Portland area.

*Radio People on the Move in RHODE ISLAND: the annual end-of-the-school-year student turnover at Brown University means some changes at student-run commercial modern rocker WBRU (95.5 Providence), where co-music director Marianna Faircloth has graduated. Her co-MD Sydney Harris moves to afternoons on WBRU, with Sabrina Boyd becoming music director and Hilary Rosenthal assistant MD.

*Play hasn't started yet in the New York-Penn League this summer, and so it's still not quite time for the final entry in this year's Baseball on the Radio listings - but the new NY-Penn club in CONNECTICUT made some radio news last week. The Connecticut Tigers are the former Oneonta Tigers, moving to Dodd Stadium in Norwich to take the place of the former Connecticut Defenders. (That AA Eastern League team relocated to Richmond, Virginia to become the Flying Squirrels, replacing the former Richmond Braves, who are now in Georgia as the Gwinnett Braves...)

In any event, the new Connecticut Tigers signed a radio deal last week that will find them on WICH (1310 Norwich) for all but three day games. Oneonta broadcaster Eric Knighton stays with the team as it moves to Connecticut, and he'll be joined in the booth by Connecticut native Jon Versteeg, formerly with the Joliet (Illinois) Jackhammers.

We'll have the full New York-Penn League radio lineup in next week's issue, as opening day for the short-season single A league approaches.


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*Our post-holiday NEW YORK news begins with several Radio People on the Move: in a story you saw first from NERW last Tuesday, Kevin LeGrett is heading back home to Rochester to replace Karen Carey as Clear Channel's market manager, leaving behind his post as a regional president for Citadel, where he oversaw the Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton, Erie and (yes) Albuquerque markets.

The move brings LeGrett back to the last office space where he worked in Rochester, the 17th floor of the HSBC building downtown - but when LeGrett worked there, the space was home to CBS Radio's Rochester cluster, where he had worked his way up through the ranks to become VP/GM. LeGrett's new corner office is in the same space once occupied by WCMF morning man Brother Wease; he, too, is now with Clear Channel, of course - but working one flight of stairs below in the new 16th floor WFXF (95.1 the Fox) studio.

(And if you didn't see the NERW bulletin announcing LeGrett's move last week, isn't it time you signed up for our Twitter feed, @NERadioWatch?)

Elsewhere around the state, Tim Noble moves from PD/afternoon drive at Clear Channel's WHRL (103.1 Albany) to the same post at Albany Broadcasting's WKLI (100.9 the Bridge).

In Binghamton, Heather Black (late of WHWK and Elmira's WLVY) is the new 9-noon jock at WRRQ (106.7 Windsor).

Back in Albany, Ernie Anastos is adding an FM translator to his WUAM (900 Watervliet). Anastos will pay Northeast Gospel Broadcasting $30,000 for W291BY (106.1), which has been relaying WNGN (91.9 Argyle). The translator runs 10 watts from the Bald Mountain tower site of WNYT (Channel 13). Anastos carries audio from Time Warner's YNN news channel on WUAM, which runs 400 watts by day, 70 watts at night.

In Watkins Glen, Backyard Broadcasting has applied for a new tower for WRCE (1490), which has been operating frm a temporary antenna since its old tower collapsed during construction work last winter. WRCE ran 400 watts into the old tower; the replacement tower at the site on County Road 16 will be much shorter and therefore less efficient, so WRCE is applying to run with 880 watts day and night there.

In Utica, reports that longtime radio/TV traffic director Ginny Jones died on June 2. Jones worked for Utica's WKTV (Channel 2), WTLB (1310) and most recently for the Regent Broadcasting cluster of stations. Jones was 62.

And in New York City, we mourn Himan Brown, one of the last links to the golden age of radio drama. Brown's first venture into radio was way back in 1927, hosting and producing a poetry reading series on New York's WRNY ("Hi-Brow Readings") and he'd been active ever since, working with big radio names such as Gertrude Berg ("The Goldbergs") and soap opera pioneers Anne and Frank Hummel. Brown was a founding member of the Director's Guild of America, and long after most of his colleagues had moved on to TV, retired, or passed away, Brown was still creating and directing radio drama, keeping the medium alive into the 1970s and beyond with the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, which produced daily installments for nine years.

Brown was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995 and was named an American Broadcast Pioneer two years later; as recently as just a couple of years ago, your editor had the pleasure of watching him in action, directing a live radio drama production at the AES convention in New York City.

Brown died at home in Manhattan Friday night, in the Central Park West apartment where he'd lived since 1938. He was 99.


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*And we leave you this week with a few photos of some recent radio-related events, starting with a busy weekend for public radio in upstate New York. "Says You," the wordplay game show based in Boston, taped shows in Geneva (hosted by WEOS 89.7) on Friday night and in Syracuse (hosted by WRVO 89.9) on Saturday. And it was a very busy week for the WEOS crew, who also hosted a live broadcast of "Whad'ya Know," the Wisconsin-based weekend variety show, at Ithaca's State Theater on Saturday.

We were there for that show, and Michael Feldman and his cast of characters always make for an enjoyable experience...

*Meanwhile in PENNSYLVANIA, James Treese sent along these pictures from the recent Anthracite Heritage Festival in Shamokin, where he says a display was set up to honor the now-defunct local radio station, WISL (1480):

"Tom Kutza (former Morning mayor) was on hand to explain the radio equipment on display and talk about the memories of being on the radio at WISL for 40 years. The outdoor radio museum featured the original Gates Diplomat board, two RCA transcription turntables (courtesy of WNPV, Lansdale, PA), an RCA 44BX one of the original microphones from WISL and many examples of cart machines, reel to reel tape players and pictures and history of the staff and owners of WISL. There was also an exhibit on the Laurie Sisters, a singing group from the 1950's who got their start in New York City on the Ted Steel Show thanks to WISL for recording their demo for free."

Thanks to James for sending along his pictures - and a reminder to our readers that we always welcome your radio-related photos, too!

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 8, 2009 -

  • It's been more than a decade in the making, turned into a political football and delayed repeatedly, but starting late this Thursday night, one of the biggest transitions in the history of U.S. broadcasting will finally come to fruition, as the remaining full-power analog TV signals begin to blink off all across the country, with the last of them going dark at the stroke of midnight late Friday night.
  • According to a list released last week by the FCC, some three dozen small stations around the country won't be coming along for the ride, at least not right away. Those stations will still have to turn off their analog signals by the June 12 deadline, but because their DTV signals aren't up and running - either for financial or technical reasons - they'll be off the air completely, at least temporarily.
  • After years of struggling to break out of its longtime role as an also-ran in the Binghamton market, Newport Television's WIVT (Channel 34)/WBGH-CA (Channel 20) has effectively thrown in the towel on local news, leaving broadcast viewers in Binghamton with just one full-time local news option.
  • On Friday afternoon, Newport announced that it was replacing WIVT's local newscasts, which were already limited to a morning show, a 5:30-6:30 PM hour and a short update at 11 PM, with simulcasts of the news from sister station WETM (Channel 18) in Elmira, 50 miles (and a separate TV market) to the west. Eleven employees, including veteran anchor Steve Craig, lost their jobs, and the WIVT newsroom at the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City will be closed, leaving only a skeleton staff (including, for now, anchor Peter Quinn and news director Jim Ehmke) back at WIVT's studio/transmitter facility on Ingraham Hill.
  • Some history here: Channel 34, an also-ran in local news through most of its existence as WBJA and WMGC, dramatically expanded the size and professionalism of its news operation in the late 1990s, seeking to capitalize on the flip of the market's longtime number-two station, NBC affiliate WICZ (Channel 40), to Fox. While WICZ cut its news presence back to a daily half-hour at 10 PM, new owner Ackerley expanded WIVT's newscasts to mornings and beefed up its staffing for evenings, and for a time WIVT challenged perennial market dominator WBNG (Channel 12) in the quality of its coverage, if not in ratings or revenue. More recently, Ackerley's successors have cut back again on WIVT's news product, effectively ceding news dominance in the market to Granite-owned WBNG even as Granite budget cutbacks have weakened WBNG's own product. (Recall, if you will, the immigration-center shootings earlier this spring, the biggest news story in recent Binghamton history, and one on which none of the Binghamton TV newsrooms really rose to the occasion.)
  • Through all those years, though, channel 34 has always provided at least some semblance of a local Binghamton newscast - right up until 6 o'clock last Friday evening, when whatever Binghamton viewers were still looking for local news on WIVT or WBGH saw WETM's news from Elmira, a newscast that station says will continue to be focused on the Elmira market - "Chemung, Steuben and Schuyler counties in New York and Tioga County, Pa," according to WETM general manager Randy Reid. It's hard to imagine that many Binghamton viewers will have much interest in Elmira news (indeed, WETM's news was simulcast in Binghamton once before, when WBGH took over as the market's NBC affiliate back in 1995, with no measurable ratings), and easy to imagine that even the limited amount of Binghamton news presence being sent back to WETM from Ingraham Hill will eventually fade away.
  • RHODE ISLAND's ABC affiliate has lost several of its most popular syndicated shows. Global Broadcasting's WLNE (Channel 6) announced Friday that the station has "suspended its programming agreement with King World," removing "Dr. Phil," "Entertainment Tonight" and "Inside Edition" from the station - but we hear that the suspension actually came from the King World end, as WLNE's ongoing financial struggles have reportedly rendered the station unable to keep paying for the shows. In place of "Dr. Phil" at 5, WLNE will carry "Cristina's Court" and "Family Court," while "ET" and "Inside Edition" at 7 and 7:30 will be replaced by a new 7 PM local newscast, the market's first, followed by "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" at 7:30.
  • A call change in NEW JERSEY: the former WXKW (97.3 Millville) has become WENJ-FM, now that it's sharing ESPN Radio programming with sister station WENJ (1450 Atlantic City).
  • Friday afternoon brought a high-profile format change in CANADA's biggest market: just one day past the sixth anniversary of its 2003 flip from "Kiss" to "Jack FM," CJAQ (92.5 Toronto) returned to its old "Kiss" branding and top-40 format at the stroke of 3 PM. At its end, Toronto's "Jack" had evolved significantly from the early days of the adult hits format, with live jocks in most dayparts and a musical lean toward classic rock. The new "Kiss" is apparently launching jockless, but a new talent roster for the Rogers station is expected to be announced soon.

June 6, 2005 -

  • Fans of NEW YORK's WCBS-FM (101.1) have been bemoaning the station's decline for years, from the removal of pre-Beatles music from the playlist to the gradual retirement of legendary jocks like Harry Harrison, Dan Ingram and Dan Daniel to last year's ouster of longtime PD Joe McCoy. But it didn't make them any less stunned when the station pulled the plug on oldies Friday afternoon at 5 (with less than an hour's warning to most station staff, reportedly) and flipped to "Jack FM," bringing the "adult hits" format to the number-one market in much the same way it's appeared everywhere: no DJs, no newscasters, no commercials at first, just music and attitude-filled liners. (The first song, for the record: the Beastie Boys' "Fight For Your Right (To Party)," certainly the first time that group's ever been heard at 101.1 on the dial.)
  • The flip means the end of Micky Dolenz' morning show, which debuted a few months ago to lukewarm reviews. PD Dave Logan, who succeeded McCoy last year, is also gone, and it appears that the rest of the jock lineup - including veterans Bob Shannon, Don K. Reed and Bill Brown - is out as well. The oldies will continue as a Web-only stream, albeit apparently without the personalities who were so critical to making CBS-FM what it was. (Station management has been unclear on this point, and for now the stream is running jockless.)
  • The fallout: Infinity's move changes the landscape in New York in several ways. First, it puts an end to the lengthy speculation about which station would take the leap into the adult-hits format. While nothing's impossible at this point, it's hard to imagine any of the other major FMs in the market challenging WCBS-FM with a knockoff "Bob" or "Max" or what have you. (That said, ABC's WPLJ was clearly testing the waters with its many "Flush the Format" weekends of late.)
  • Upstate, Media One closed on its $4.5 million deal to add Vox's WKSN (1340 Jamestown), WHUG (101.9 Jamestown) and WQFX (103.1 Russell PA) to its existing Jamestown duo of WJTN (1240) and WWSE (93.3). The deal gives Jim Embrescia's company a near-lock on the radio market there.
  • In Corning, Route 81's getting ready to move its cluster out of their cramped studios at the WCBA (1350) transmitter site on Davis Road and into a nice new storefront studio on Corning's bustling Market Street. NERW was in town last week, and we note that the call changes for which Route 81's applied there (WCLI 1450 to WENI, and the call swap of WGMM 97.7 and WCBA-FM 98.7) has not yet taken place on the air.
  • The eyes of the radio community will be squarely on the NEW JERSEY Palisades next Saturday (June 10), as the historic Armstrong tower in Alpine hosts a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Major Armstrong's pioneering FM broadcasts. The broadcast, which starts at noon, will include recordings of Armstrong's broadcasts from the 1940s and early 50s, as well as the radio documentary "Empire of the Air." It'll be heard on experimental station WA2XMN, operating from the Armstrong tower over a Phasitron transmitter lovingly hand-built by Philadelphia engineer Steve Hemphill and transmitting at Armstrong's original 42.8 MHz frequency. (If you have a scanner that tunes that band, you'll want to check to see if it can operate in wide FM mode - like the original W2XMN, this broadcast will utilize 75 kHz deviation; the best bet, says Hemphill, is to find a vintage 42-50 MHz FM radio.)
  • VERMONT's new entries in the adult hits game are WLKC (103.3 Waterbury) and WXAL (93.7 Addison), which dropped their modern AC "Alice" simulcast on Wednesday and flipped to adult hits as "MP 103." (Get it? It's like an MP3, but at 10...never mind.) NERW's monitoring of the new MP103 found the stations running jockless, and at ID time, WLKC was sporting new calls of WWMP - with no ID at all for the 93.7 half of the simulcast.

June 9, 2000 -

  • How much does it cost to move a Big Mattress 6000 miles west? Expect a MASSACHUSETTS moving company to get a phone call soon, as veteran Boston morning man Charles Laquidara gets ready to leave the Hub and join his wife and family in Maui. Laquidara is still best known for nearly a quarter-century at WBCN (104.1), where he all but defined "underground" FM radio, then rode the station to establishment success hosting 'BCN's "Big Mattress" morning show (and filling in at times as alter ego Duane Glasscock). In 1996 (ironically, on April Fools' Day), Laquidara's show moved to Infinity sister station WZLX (100.7), replaced by Howard Stern in a sign of WBCN's move towards a mix of modern rock and talk.
  • Laquidara, 62, says he's making the move out of Boston to be closer to his wife, who's recovered from a bout with cancer last year. Replacing him sometime this fall on WZLX will be comedian Steve Sweeney and "Tai" (aka Tom Irwin), who faced off against Laquidara in the early '90s as morning host at WFNX, then spent a few years at WRKO (680) before losing that gig last year.
  • Elsewhere in the Bay State, it's a new format for Citadel's WORC-FM (98.9 Webster), which ditched classic rock May 26 to become "Oldies 98.9," thus returning to a format it had used for four years as WXXW. The move gets 98.9 out of the way of Citadel's other classic rocker, WWFX (100.1 Southbridge) in the Worcester market. Speaking of that market, we're reminded that WESO (970 Southbridge), WWFX's former sister station, flipped from oldies to (mostly satellite) country late last year.
  • Last week, NERW was first to report that Clear Channel wouldn't be allowed to buy four of the upstate NEW YORK properties it had hoped to acquire from Straus Media. Now we can tell you where they're going instead. Concord Media, which has stepped in to buy other "over-the-cap" properties spun off from Clear Channel deals, will get WCKL (560) and WCTW (98.5) in Catskill and WHUC (1230) and WTHK (93.5) in Hudson. Clear Channel couldn't take those four because they're considered part of the Albany market, where the company's already at the limit (and in fact had to spin WTRY (980 Troy) to Concord a few months back). Clear Channel is still pushing forward with the remaining six stations in the Straus group (WELV-WTHN Ellenville, WKIP-WRNQ-WTND Poughkeepsie, and WRKW Saugerties), and now we're hearing a rumor that CC is also sniffing around the Roberts Radio properties in Poughkeepsie and Kingston for future acquisitions...
  • From CANADA this week: The CRTC has granted the CBC's applications in Sudbury, allowing construction to start on 90.1 (CBC Radio Two) and 90.9 (La chaîne culturelle). We wonder whether the CBC will reuse the call signs that were assigned to those construction permits the first time around, before CBC budget cuts killed the project circa 1986. If so, CBBS would be on 90.1, CBOS on 90.9.

New England Radio Watch, June 4, 1995

  • At long last, months after they started using the calls informally, AM 890 in the Boston area can officially call itself WBPS without nit-pickers like me getting testy. As of this morning (6/1), the old "WBMA Dedham/Boston" legals are gone -- replaced by the new WBPS calls. This is the last part of the huge switch that saw WBIV-1060 Natick go dark, its assets get transferred to the WBMA-890 CP, the whole mess get sold to Douglas Broadcasting, the format get changed from leased ethnic to Prime Sports talk, and now finally the 890 call change. Why the holdup? Seems they got confused over which license was getting the call change -- and accidentally applied for the WBPS calls for now-dark WBIV-1060...and then had to straighten out the mess.
  • You may have seen the news coverage of the Great Barrington, Mass. tornado, which claimed 3 lives and did as much as $25 million in damage. It's nice to see local radio out there responded well. The "Berkshire Eagle" of Pittsfield, Mass. reported on Thursday that WSBS Great Barrington, an 860 kHz ex-daytimer that has not been using its pipsqueak night allocation, stayed on well past its 7pm signoff time (presumably at full 2700 watts) to provide emergency information as the twister hit at 7:15pm. Coverage was simulcast on co-owned WNAW(AM)/WMNB(FM) North Adams, at the other end of the county.
  • Newspeople Mark Schane-Lydon, Tom Jay, Dick Lindsay, and morning host Nick Diller all pitched in to help with coverage. (And a special thanks to Mark for allowing WBZ reporter Carl Stevens to assemble and feed his reports from the WSBS studios on Tuesday and Wednesday!) 15 miles away in Pittsfield, WBEC AM-FM, WBRK AM-WRCZ FM, and WUPE FM all expanded their news coverage as well. Public radio WAMC-FM in Albany has a satellite in Great Barrington, WAMQ-FM 105.1. This is the old WBBS-FM, which was WSBS's FM station from the late 80s until about 2 years ago. WAMC/WAMQ ran expanded newscasts, according to the Eagle's Clarence Fanto -- but I have to wonder whether WAMQ was on. Their transmitter is atop the Butternut Ski Area in South Egremont -- which took some of the worst damage. Even if 105.1 was off, WAMC's main signal on 90.3 from Mount Greylock gets down to the affected area very well, so I'm sure it was being heard one way or another.

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