Recent Issues:

June 7, 2010

May 31, 2010

May 24, 2010

May 17, 2010

2009 In Review

Movie Ticket Radio!

Your message here - contact to reach thousands of NERW readers every week!

June 14, 2010

WDKX Owner Langston Dies

NERW's now on Twitter - follow us @NERadioWatch for breaking news updates during the week!

*It's been a week of obituaries across NERW-land, including the passing of a radio owner who was a trailblazer twice in his long career.

When Andrew Langston came north from his native Georgia to Rochester, NEW YORK in 1960, the idea that he might someday own a radio station was but a fantasy; indeed, even the opportunity to work in radio or television was something of a pipe dream. But by the late sixties, Langston saw that a black-owned radio station was becoming possible, and after many years working in the clothing and insurance industries, he founded Monroe County Broadcasting in 1968 to pursue the dream.

Getting a new signal on the air even then was a challenge, involving negotiations with an adjacent-channel signal in Buffalo (what was then WWOL-FM 104.1) and securing the cooperation of Xerox Corp. to place an antenna atop their new downtown Rochester office tower - but in April 1974, Langston's dream came true with the debut of WDKX (103.9 Rochester), a class A signal named for Rochester's Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. While not the first black-owned independent station in the country (that honor appears to belong to KPRS in Kansas City), WDKX was certainly among the very first.

WDKX grew slowly but steadily, and by the eighties it had moved from its original rented studio space down East Main Street to larger quarters in a former funeral home. By then, WDKX had become a major force in Rochester radio, trading airstaff back and forth with larger stations and routinely appearing near the top of the ratings.

With consolidation came plenty of offers for Langston to cash out, but even the inflated station prices of the nineties couldn't separate him from his radio station and his community. In an interview with your editor (then with Rochester's R News) on WDKX's 25th anniversary in 1999, Langston promised that the station would pass not only to his son, Andre Marcel (who was by then WDKX's program director) but eventually to his granddaughter as well.

Langston not only spurned the advances of the big broadcast groups; he also fended off their attempts to compete for his audience. Remember "Jam'n 107.3?" Not many in Rochester do; that voicetracked urban outlet came and went while WDKX, with its live airstaff and full-service commitment to the community, survived and thrived. While other commercial music stations cut back or eliminated news, WDKX's news operation grew; in recent years, the station has been a frequent partner with other news outlets (including the Democrat and Chronicle, WHAM-TV and WXXI) in sponsoring political debates, community forums and special coverage of big events.

In recent years, Langston had handed over most of WDKX's daily operations to his son, who now serves as both president of Monroe County Broadcasting and PD of the station, which remains a proud stand-alone - and a constant visitor to the top of the ratings in town.

Langston was inducted into the inaugural class of the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame; he also received honors from the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters and the "Rochester Radio Broadcaster of the Year" award.

Langston died on Thursday (June 10) at age 83; he's survived by his wife, Gloria and son, Andre.

A public memorial service will be held on Thursday at noon at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Rochester; the true memorial to Langston is - and will continue to be - at 103.9 FM all over greater Rochester.

*Langston, sadly, was just one of several good broadcasters the region lost last week. Stew Schantz, who died Friday morning at age 53 from complications during surgery, was a familiar figure on the music-radio scene for many decades.

He started out in the late seventies at WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie), then moved across town to WSPK (104.7 Poughkeepsie), where he was the PD who launched the "K104" top-40 format in 1980. Schantz also worked afternoons at K104 before moving up to Utica in 1998 as PD/afternoons at WSKS (then on 102.5), where he eventually served as operations manager for the whole Clear Channel cluster.

In 2005, Schantz moved over to Galaxy, where he programmed WRCK in Utica and WRCZ in Albany. Most recently, Schantz was operations manager at the Vox cluster in Pittsfield, MASSACHUSETTS, where he also was PD/afternoons at oldies WUPE-FM (100.1 North Adams)/WUPE (1110 Pittsfield).

*In Auburn, they're mourning Donald Fordham, longtime host of "The Polka Party" on WAUB (1590). Fordham's show had aired on WAUB since the seventies, and had a brief run on WSFW (1110 Seneca Falls) in the nineties as well. Fordham died Wednesday at age 82.

*How about some non-obituary news from the Empire State? There was a bit of it last week, starting in Poughkeepsie, where Cumulus rocker WPDH (101.5) has named a new morning show. Last month, WPDH pulled the plug on the "Coop and Tobin" morning show after co-host John Tobin departed amidst a contract dispute; now John Mulrooney's on board with Mark Cooper for the "Coop and Mulrooney" morning show. Mulrooney is better known to the north, in Albany, where he was the longtime co-host of the "Wolf and Mulrooney" morning show on WPYX; he's also worked in New York (at the old WDBZ 105.1) and on TV.

Speaking of TV, there were plenty of changes going on in the executive suites of New York last week: at WPIX (Channel 11), Tribune abruptly ousted VP/GM Betty Ellen Berlamino and gave 10 PM co-anchor Jim Watkins his 90-day notice. Berlamino wasn't the only TV GM moving on; Tom O'Brien is being moved from WNBC (Channel 4) to a new post as head of NBC's "Nonstop Network" of local statons and websites. Replacing him as president/GM of WNBC is Michael Jack, who hops the Acela from NBC's Washington outlet, WRC (Channel 4), where he held the same position.

The New York State Broadcasters Association has named its Broadcaster of the Year: it's retired ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson, who's due to receive the award at the NYSBA conference in Bolton Landing on June 29.

In Syracuse, WCNY-FM (91.3) is applying to modify its construction permit to move from its old tower in Pompey to the newer master TV tower at Sentinel Heights. WCNY's original plan was to wrap a panel antenna around the tower itself, but the public broadcaster tells the FCC it couldn't get any other FM stations to sign on to that master-antenna plan, so instead it's planning to put a single-frequency antenna on top of one of the tines of the candelabra that crowns the tall tower. That would put WCNY at 1276 feet above average terrain, with 6.8 kW, using a directional antenna to protect adjacent-channel WXXI-FM (91.5 Rochester) and several other short-spaced signals.

Where are they now? Dan Bindert was a mainstay of the jazz programming on WXXI (1370 Rochester) in the eighties and nineties; now he's moving from WBEZ (91.5 Chicago) to WLPR (89.1 Lowell IN) to become program director of the relatively new noncommercial news-talk outlet that serves Chicago's Indiana suburbs.

*Across the state line in Massachusetts, there's another obituary: Tony Cennamo was one of the most prominent DJs on Boston University's WBUR (90.9) in the days before the station went to an all-news/talk format. Cennamo came to Boston in 1967 from New York's WCBS, where he was a producer, to do a talk show on WCAS (740 Cambridge; now WJIB). He moved to WBUR in 1972 to begin playing jazz, and that's where he stayed until 1997, moving around the schedule from mornings to late nights to overnights. (For a brief period in the mid-70s, Cennamo was also heard on WMEX 1510 on weekend evenings.)

Cennamo suffered a stroke in 1986 and had more recently suffered a seizure; he died Tuesday (June 8) in a Malden nursing home, at age 76.

*Over at WCVB-TV (Channel 5), veteran reporter Gail Huff is leaving. Best known these days as "Mrs. Scott Brown," Huff is moving to Washington with her U.S. senator husband; she'll do some part-time work there for another ABC affiliate, WJLA (Channel 7).

Where are they now? Former WBMX (104.1 Boston) jock Shawn Tempesta is out west again, where he's back at a former radio address, KMXB (94.1) in Las Vegas, trying hard to remember to say "Mix 94.1" instead of "Mix 104.1" (or "Mix 98.5"!)

The weekend gig at KMXB is only part of Tempesta's new Nevada duties: after doing TV in RHODE ISLAND, where he co-hosted WNAC-TV's "Rhode Show," Shawn landed a full-time gig hosting a new morning show at ABC affiliate KTNV (Channel 13) in Las Vegas, where "The Morning Blend" will debut later this summer.

*There's a new set of call letters in MAINE, where WHXR (106.7 North Windham) is now WXTP. The station is being held in trust for Nassau while it seeks a buyer; it's been running a loop directing listeners to the surviving half of the former "Bone" simulcast, WHXQ (106.3 Scarborough).

Another unbuilt Maine station, WWCX (90.3 Corinth), has changed calls to WTPP.

*And there's callsign news from VERMONT, where WUSX (93.7 Addison) becomes WIFY, keeping its "Cruisin" oldies format for now.


The brand-new Tower Site Calendar 2010 is now shipping, complete with more than a dozen full-color images of sites from Deer Point in Boise to KYPA in Los Angeles to Mount Mansfield in Vermont.

We're selling them at a pretty good pace this year, which means a sellout is likely.

(We've got special discounts for bulk orders, too - they make great gifts for your business colleagues or friends...)

Order now at the Store!

*Fans of modern rock in southeastern PENNSYLVANIA have had a tough time finding a home on the radio in recent years, and last week brought another blow with the cancellation of the "Y-Rock on XPN" programming at public station WXPN (88.5 Philadelphia).

"Y-Rock" came to WXPN in 2006 after Radio One pulled the plug on WPLY (100.3 Media), prompting a grassroots "Save Y100" effort among the station's former listeners. WPLY PD Jim McGuinn and several other Y100 staffers came over to WXPN a few months later to inject some modern rock into the AAA format that dominates the WXPN schedule. "Y-Rock on XPN" was heard three nights a week on WXPN's main channel, as well as a fulltime HD2 channel and webstream. The HD2 service lives on for now, as does the stream, but without six staffers who made it more than a jukebox. The layoffs included operations manager Josh Landow, who was also "Y-Rock"'s midday host.

*There was public radio news from Pittsburgh as well, where the foundations that took out a 60-day option to buy WDUQ (90.5 Pittsburgh) from Duquesne University are letting the option expire without being renewed.

Pittsburgh Public Media, the WDUQ-management-backed group that's been trying to take the station into community nonprofit hands, continues to pursue its bid for the station; for now, it appears that WDUQ will remain with Duquesne as long as no potential buyer is willing to meet the university's price, reportedly $10 million.

*Up the road in Centre County, there's been plenty of public outcry over the ouster of a veteran personality on WPHB (1260 Phillipsburg). Sheldon Sharpless used to own the station and has continued to be a morning fixture on the little community voice, but early last week he was missing from the AM station, reporting on his Facebook page that "they forced me out."

Sharpless had been heard on WPHB since 1962; he owned the station from 1982 until 1996.

*There's a station sale in the Scranton area, as Family Life Ministries buys back what's now WCIN (91.3 Tunkhannock) from Telikoja Educational Broadcasting. WCIN had been WCIG, licensed to Carbondale, before Family Life transferred it to Telikoja last year as part of a $1 million deal to buy WGMF (107.7 Tunkhannock, now WCIG Dallas) from Telikoja principals Kevin Fitzgerald and Ben Smith. Family Life will pay $275,000 for the 91.3 signal.

Up on the New York border, just south of Olean, Colonial Radio Group's WLMI (103.9 Kane) changes calls to WUMT; it flips today from a simulcast of "Bob FM" WBYB (96.7 Portville NY) to a classic rock format as "The Summit," a sister to "Mountain" WXMT (106.3 Smethport).

*And our Keystone State news also includes two obituaries: Larry Schrecongost grew up in Kittanning and began working at WACB (1380) in 1967. He founded Vernal Enterprises as a tower-leasing company, but eventually branched out into broadcasting, buying WACB (now WTYM) in 1992 and eventually building a small cluster of signals that also includes WNCC (950 Northern Cambria), WRDD (1580 Ebensburg) and WHPA (93.5 Gallitzin).

Schrecongost was just 58 when he died in a car crash last Tuesday; he apparently suffered a heart attack while driving in Manor, PA.

At religious broadcaster Cornerstone TeleVision, they're mourning president Ron Hembree, who died Thursday night at his Murrysville home. Hembree had been with Cornerstone, which owns WPCB (Channel 40) in Pittsburgh and WKBS (Channel 47) in Altoona, for several decades; he'd been president of the company since 2003. Hembree was 72.

*The oldest radio station in CANADA - and arguably in all of North America - is now officially dead. The CRTC officially revoked the license of CINW (940 Montreal) and its sister station CINF (690 Montreal) last week. Corus pulled the plug on the pair of 50 kilowatt signals in January, declaring them "not viable." CINW was the direct descendant of CFCF (600), which traced its history back to Canadian Marconi's XWA, way back in 1919; CINF was the descendant of CKVL (850), which traced its history to the late forties.

Despite the license revocation, the 690 and 940 frequencies remain internationally allocated to Canada, and Canadian officials continue to "notify" them to the US, requiring US stations on those frequencies to continue to protect the former Canadian signals.

*A descendant of CKVL's founder, Jack Tietolman, is one of the principals behind a new competing bid for 11 Quebec stations being sold by Corus as it pulls out of the province. Nicolas Tetrault and Paul Tietolman, by way of "T&T Media," are offering C$81 million for the Corus stations, C$1 million more than the Cogeco bid that Corus had accepted; the CBC reports that they're also offering a separate bid for a twelfth station, CKRS (98.3) in Saguenay.

In Toronto, the CRTC has approved a power increase for CIRR (Proud 103.9), taking the station from 50 watts to 250 watts/156m.

And back in Quebec, Radio Port-Cartier has been denied a power increase for CIPC (99.1 Port-Cartier). Rival broadcasters in Sept-Iles and Baie-Comeau had objected to the increase (from 45 kW to 100 kW) on the grounds that CIPC would compete with them in their own markets; the CRTC turned it down as a matter of policy, since Port-Cartier hasn't paid up on all of its Canadian content development funding for 2009.


DO IT RIGHT PRODUCTIONS -- Visit our Web site,, to hear our three syndicated shows, Classic Clips, Country Roots and Gospel Doings, produced by longtime country and bluegrass lovers. We also provide demo and duplicating services. Contact Roland (Bruce) Cutler, PO Box 351, Lyons, NY 14489; or

You can have your ad here, for just a few dollars a week! Click here for information on the most economical way to reach tens of thousands of Northeast radio and TV people each week.

*And with the short-season New York-Penn League about to start play later this week, we wrap up our Baseball on the Radio series with a look at how radio coverage shapes up for the scrappy single-A teams across the region:

In Massachusetts, the Lowell Spinners return to WCAP (980) for a third season with Ken Cail behind the mike.

As we noted last week, the former Oneonta Tigers have moved to Norwich as the Connecticut Tigers, putting 73 of their 76 games on WICH (1310). Former 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.

The Vermont Lake Monsters repeat last year's radio deal: all 38 home games at Centennial Field, plus 13 road games, will air on WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY), with Rob Ryan in the booth.

How about the remaining New York teams in the increasingly misnamed league? The Batavia Muckdogs are back on WBTA (1490) with Wayne Fuller calling the games. The Auburn Doubledays started out last year without a radio deal, only to end up on Cayuga Community College's WDWN (89.1) midway through the season; it's not clear whether they're back for another year yet.

Downstate, there's a new announcer for the Hudson Valley Renegades, as former Cape Cod summer league announcer Nick Gagalis gets behind the mike for WBNR (1260 Beacon), WLNA (1420 Peekskill) and WGHQ (920 Kingston). The Brooklyn Cyclones stay put on WKRB (90.3).

There are even more "webcast-only" teams this year: the Tri-City Valley Cats in Troy left the airwaves last year, as did the Jamestown Jammers, and it's been a few years since the Staten Island Yankees have had radio coverage.

In Pennsylvania, it's status quo: the State College Spikes on WWZW (95.3 Bellefonte) and the Williamsport Crosscutters have renewed their deal with WLYC (1050) for two more seasons. The 'Cutters are also heard on WLYC's FM translator in Williamsport at 104.1, and this year they add two more affiliates, WTZN (1310 Troy) and WTTC (1550 Towanda), to their network.

Play ball!

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 15, 2009 -

  • Whether you date its beginnings to the first experimental electronic broadcasts of the late twenties, the early scheduled broadcasts of the thirties, the start of commercial service in 1941 or the establishment of the 525-line NTSC standard soon afterward, there's no disputing the longevity of analog broadcast television in the United States - nor the historical import of the switches being thrown and buttons being pressed in master controls and transmitter rooms from Presque Isle to Pittsburgh last Friday, as one by one the signals that had been so central to American life over the decades winked out for the last time. What was widely portrayed in the mass media as a one-day "switch to digital" was, of course, really the culmination of a long and complex transition that began back in the late nineties, when the first experimental digital TV transmitters began to appear on the airwaves. In most parts of NERW-land, that transition was far enough along that Friday's "switch" was - just as broadcasters had hoped - a non-event for most viewers, who'd already traded over-the-air analog for cable, satellite, or over-the-air digital TV. Add in the last-minute stresses behind the scenes, as the FCC revised its transition guidelines and phones rang off the hook from the remaining few percent of viewers who'd yet to complete their conversion, and it's not entirely unsurprising, if still somewhat disappointing, that by the time the end of analog rolled around on Friday, many broadcasters were ready to just pull the plug on their venerable analog signals without any notice or ceremony. (There were some notable exceptions, which we'll mention later in this week's issue.)
  • Whether accompanied by fanfare or just a fade to snow midway through Conan O'Brien's monologue, the good news is that the last pieces of the complex puzzle that was the transition went largely without a hitch for most stations across NERW-land, even in the complicated situations where stations had to swap channels and even transmission facilities in the space of just a few hours.
  • The one notable exception was in Syracuse, NEW YORK, where viewers looking for NBC programming had to do some juggling to find WSTM-TV (Channel 3) over the weekend. WSTM had a difficult juggling act to pull off: it had to vacate both its longtime analog channel and its temporary digital channel, 54, by midnight Friday, but it couldn't occupy its new digital channel, 24, until public station WCNY-TV signed off its analog operation early Friday morning, freeing up not only the channel but also the transmission line and antenna that WSTM-DT would use. But rather than buying WCNY's transmitter, already tuned to channel 24, WSTM decided to retune its own digital transmitter from channel 54 to channel 24. It even signed off WSTM-DT on channel 54 early - on Monday - to provide plenty of time to get the retuning done. As it turned out, though, retuning the Thales transmitter was a more complex task than expected, so much so that when WSTM turned off its analog transmitter at a minute past midnight Friday (with a full-screen ID and a 50s-vintage national anthem clip), it was clear that it would still be a few days before the station could get the parts it needed to get WSTM-DT back on the air.
  • So WSTM turned to plan B - and plan C, too. By mid-morning Friday, analog channel 3 was back on the air, providing at least some signal for hockey fans to tune in for the final Stanley Cup game that night. Thanks to its new partnership with CBS affiliate WTVH (Channel 5), WSTM was able to put its programming on the 5.2 subchannel of WTVH-DT, maintaining some on-air presence after channel 3 had to sign off for good (with no fanfare this time) at 11:59 Friday night. (As always, most cable viewers were unaffected, since WSTM continued to provide its signal to Time Warner Cable via fiber.) By Sunday, WSTM-DT was back on the air on channel 24, with a significantly better signal than the old channel 54.
  • As best we can tell, only one other station - Erie NBC affiliate WICU (Channel 12) - was off the air as a result of the switchover, as its engineers worked to replace the old channel 12 analog signal (silenced last Tuesday) with a VHF digital signal on the same channel. There, too, a sister station saved the day, with WICU's signal continuing to be available (as it has for some time now) on WSEE's 35-3 subchannel.
  • Around the region, those VHF digital signals - many of them taking the air for the first time on Friday or early Saturday - proved a little more troublesome than expected, especially for viewers unfamiliar with the different antennas needed for VHF reception as opposed to the UHF band, where most existing DTV had been located. Even with those hiccups (which we'll list in more detail in our market-by-market roundup below), the transition went about as smoothly as anyone could have anticipated; contrary to message-board fearmongering, there were no mad runs on stores selling converter boxes and antennas, no widespread shortages, and certainly no rioting in the streets in front of TV stations or transmitter sites. (Though just about every station we've talked to has received at least one frantic phone call starting out, "why didn't anyone tell me this was going to be happening?!?," proving that no public education campaign can ever reach absolutely everyone...)

June 13, 2005 -

  • ALPINE, N.J. - It may have taken more than half a century, but if the crowd at the Armstrong Tower here Saturday was any indication, a certain sort of cosmic justice has now prevailed where the legacy of Major Edwin Howard Armstrong is concerned. It's hard to imagine dozens of people baking in the hot sun for an afternoon to honor the memory of David Sarnoff or Lee deForest, as they gladly did for this event honoring the man who may be the greatest inventor radio will ever know.
  • The memorial nominally commemorates the 70th anniversary of Armstrong's first demonstrations of FM, but it really grew out of a more informal memorial held last year on the 50th anniversary of Armstrong's suicide. Among the attendees was Philadelphia engineer Steve Hemphill, who had already built a replica of an early GE Phasitron FM transmitter. The stars came together when Hemphill began talking with Charles Sackermann, Jr., whose family has owned the Alpine tower since buying it from Columbia University after Armstrong's death. Sackermann had been seeking a way to bring greater public attention to Armstrong's achievements, and the two soon began hatching a plan to conduct experimental broadcasts from the tower on the old 42-50 MHz (or should that be "megacycle?") FM band. Add to that the programming expertise of WFDU (89.1 Teaneck), the Fairleigh Dickinson University station that's used the Armstrong tower since it signed on in 1971, and the result was one of the most memorable live broadcasts in radio's recent history.
  • It's unlikely that more than a few hundred people at most heard the signal of WA2XMN, the 250-watt temporary operation on 42.8 MHz transmitting from near the top of the tower - but thanks to a simulcast on WFDU, millions in the area (and around the world on the web) had the chance to listen to a very special day of programming. On 42.8 - via Hemphill's painstakingly detailed Phasitron transmitter and a modified Ringo Ranger ham antenna on the tower - test broadcasts began sometime early in the morning. At 11:45, Hemphill pushed the button to begin official operation of WA2XMN, and for the first time in almost six decades, the old FM dial was alive with broadcasting from Alpine.
  • WINS (1010) anchor Judy DeAngelis emceed a live one-hour panel discussion that featured the few living veterans of the Armstrong era - Ren McMann, who worked at Alpine in his youth and later at CBS Laboratories; Henry Dietz, who worked for early FM equipment maker REL; Jerry Minter, who was at Alpine for the March 31, 1954 sign-off of Armstrong's KE2XCC; and Armstrong relative Robert Brecht. That was followed by two hours of recorded programming, including the radio drama version of "Empire of the Air" and an interview with that book's author, historian Tom Lewis. And just before 4 PM, WA2XMN broadcast a recording of that 1954 KE2XCC farewell, an emotional moment for those who remained by then, gazing up at the mighty three-armed tower where that era ended.
  • For those fortunate to be able to attend the event in person, the day brought other treats as well, as CSC Management, the Sackermanns' company, used the opportunity to show off the care they've taken with the historic Alpine site. From the vintage "FM" logo that adorned Armstrong's 1937 building (and the commemorative polo shirts being sported by the staff) to the phenomenal display of early Armstrong gear inside to the ultra-modern communications facility that now resides directly beneath the tower, the site was in top condition to welcome visitors, and there was hardly a moment when someone wasn't aiming a camera up at the tower or shooting a souvenir photo on the steps of the W2XMN building. "It's like a wedding reception for radio people," was the observation one attendee made, and it's hard to argue with that.
  • It was truly a great day in Alpine, and we're hoping that some of the hints being dropped during the celebration (a recreation, perhaps, of Armstrong's Yankee Network FM relays for the 75th anniversary in 2010?) can become a reality. In the meantime, the Sackermanns, Hemphill, and the crew at WFDU can take great pride in their accomplishment, reminding all of us of the debt the industry owes to Edwin Howard Armstrong.
  • Yes, there was some other news around the region while we were on the road to Alpine all week, including the exit of a longtime northeast PENNSYLVANIA radio owner. Doug Lane's sale of WWDL (104.9 Scranton), WICK (1400 Scranton) and WYCK (1340 Plains) to Bold Gold Media won't close the legal case against Lane, who was convicted of child molestation earlier this year and now awaits sentencing. It will, however, end the uncertainty that surrounds the stations - if it's approved. Bold Gold, whose principals include Bob Vanderheyden (the first PD of oldies WCBS-FM, years ago, and now serving as the stations' general manager), began operating the stations under an LMA last week. While details of the sale haven't been released, the deal reportedly won't yield any profit to Lane, with proceeds from the stations instead going to Lackawanna County (for a victims' restitution fund) and to non-profit groups.
  • Bold Gold also owns WDNH, WYCY and WPSN in nearby Honesdale; its acquisition of the Lane stations still requires FCC approval, which isn't a certainty. While the deal has the support of county officials, the Commission could still do what it's done with other convicted felons, simply revoking the stations' licenses and leaving the frequencies dark pending an auction that could take years. Lackawanna County DA Andy Jarbola tells Inside Radio that he hopes the FCC will recognize that the deal he's worked out with Bold Gold and Lane is in the public interest, preserving the jobs at the Lane stations and keeping them from going silent.
  • Clear Channel is spinning off one station in MAINE, as Stony Creek Broadcasting pays $800,000 for WNSX (97.7 Winter Harbor). Behind the new ownership are a pair of well-known names Down East - Mark Osborne and Natalie Knox, who owned WKSQ (94.5 Ellsworth) WLKE (99.1 Bar Harbor) and WBFB (104.7 Belfast) until selling to Clear Channel five years ago.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, the Lowell Spinners make an abrupt change of stations, breaking from what was to have been a two-year deal with UMass Lowell's WUML (91.5) and instead continuing on WCAP (980 Lowell) with a new two-year contract. Students and community volunteers at WUML had been vocal about their unhappiness with the preemptions the Spinners deal would have caused, and the station's new advisory board sided with them, leading the university to cancel its contract and send the Spinners back to WCAP, where Ryan Johnston will continue in the play-by-play chair for a third season.
  • On Cape Cod, WGBH wasted no time building out the Brewster construction permit for which it paid almost $4 million at auction. WZAI (94.3 Brewster) had barely been granted a callsign before it signed on Tuesday (June 7); it's simulcasting the news and talk of WGBH's WCAI (90.1 Woods Hole) and WNAN (91.1 Nantucket).
  • Meanwhile in the print arena, things are changing fast for those who still want to read about radio and TV in Boston's daily newspapers. First, Mark Jurkowitz announced a week ago that he's leaving the Boston Globe and returning to the Boston Phoenix, where he's replacing Dan Kennedy, who leaves the alternative weekly at the end of the month to teach at Northeastern University. And now we learn (thanks, ironically, to a Jurkowitz piece in the Globe) that among the many Boston Herald staffers losing their jobs amidst the massive slashing at the (now almost unreadable) tabloid is Dean Johnson, who's been covering radio in town for years. It seems unlikely that the Herald will replace Johnson as it spirals even deeper into the vicious circle of cost-cutting; we have higher hopes that the Globe will find a way to continue the excellent reporting that Jurkowitz has provided over the years - perhaps by giving Clea Simon a full-time media gig, or by hiring Johnson? (And in the meantime, we wish all three the very best.)

June 16, 2000 -

  • From a rumor last week, Clear Channel's purchase of Roberts Radio has become reality this week -- but we suspect the NEW YORK portion of this 29-station, $65 million deal is just a small part of Randy Michaels' strategy here. Clear Channel will get four stations to add to its six-station Hudson Valley cluster: rhythmic oldies WBPM (94.3 Kingston), talk WGHQ (920 Kingston), hot AC WBWZ (93.3 New Paltz), and country WRWD (107.3 Highland).
  • By the way, we can now report that Clear Channel is paying $18.4 million for the six nearby stations it's buying from Straus Media, while Concord Media Group will pay $6 million for the four stations in Hudson and Catskill Clear Channel was barred from buying from Straus.
  • Heading west, Sabre Communications is beefing up its position in the Corning/Elmira radio market with a $1.8 million purchase of Hornell's WKPQ (105.3) and WHHO (1320). The seller, Bilbat Communications, is owned by William "Bil" Berry and Richard "Bat" Lyons. WKPQ is a sort of modern AC, with a penetrating signal across much of western New York; WHHO does some talk and simulcasts WKPQ. SabreCom owns sports-talk WWLZ (820 Horseheads), country WPGI (100.9 Horseheads) and WGMF (1490 Watkins Glen), classic rock WNGZ (104.9 Montour Falls), and CHR WNKI (106.1 Corning). Two curiosities here: The Hornell stations, although in the same county (Steuben) as Corning, don't really have much signal overlap with the rest of the market, which leads to odd ratings changes when diaries aren't uniformly distributed across the county. We also wonder what will become of WZKZ (101.9 Alfred), the country station Bilbat has been operating from Hornell as an LMA. The WZKZ license is held by Robert Pfuntner's Pembrook Pines group, SabreCom's arch-rival in the Elmira/Corning market.
  • A Binghamton clarification: While Al Brock is coming to the Clear Channel stations there, his duties as operations manager will still leave the existing PDs at WENE, WKGB, and WBBI in place. (Hardly the biggest problem over at the Credit Union Center; we note that a woman suffered a heart attack outside the building this week while waiting for an ersatz "Britney Spears" to emerge from the WMRV studios, where she was being "interviewed" as a prank).
  • On to MASSACHUSETTS we go, to Worcester in particular, where the FCC's approval of the sale of WWFX (100.1 Southbridge) from Wilks to Citadel will give the latter company 39% of the market's revenue. Put that together with AMFM (soon Clear Channel)'s 55% revenue share, and you have what commissioner Gloria Tristani calls an unacceptable market concentration. She objected vehemently to the transfer...but as with so much at the Commission of late, she was outnumbered.
  • A moment of silence from the Bay State's birds? It would be in order, in memory of Robert J. Lurtsema. The veteran host of WGBH's "Morning pro musica" died Monday (6/12) of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Lurtsema began the show, complete with the birds chirping at the beginning, in 1971. Until 1993, he was on the air seven days a week, on a network that at its peak included Albany's WAMC, Amherst's WFCR, and several state networks in northern New England. "Robert J." cut back to weekends in 1993, and had been off the air completely for the last few weeks. Lurtsema was 68.
  • Waiting for "The Hub" on your TV? July 31 is the new target date for WHUB-TV (Channel 66) to drop home shopping and become an independent station from its new home on Portland Street, near North Station.
  • Three CONNECTICUT radio stations are moving in together. Cox bought WPLR (99.1 New Haven) and the sales rights to WYBC-FM (94.3 New Haven) last year; now it's moving them, along with WEZN (99.9 Bridgeport), into a new facility at 440 Wheelers Farm Road (in the Merritt Crossing development) in Milford. NERW believes this move leaves just WYBC (1340) as the only radio station with studios within New Haven city limits.

New England Radio Watch, June 9, 1995

  • A weekend trip through Providence to Norwich CT found WICE (550) in Pawtucket RI silent. The station's sale to Back Bay Broadcasters (owners of WARA-WWKX in the Providence market and WBNW in Boston) just closed, and it appears the station will resurface as WPNW, simulcasting WBNW's Bloomberg business news/local and satellite business talk format. WBNW/WPNW just signed to carry Harvard football as well.
  • WZEA (102.1) in Hampton NH is also being sold, as reported earlier, and M Street says the new owners want the WSTG calls. An on-air announcement heard on the station this week said it will be a "family-friendly" station...whatever that means. (And promptly segued into a Prince song, at that! :-)

You can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!

NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please click here to learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW is copyright 2010 by Scott Fybush.