April 4, 2011
NERW Special: Baseball on the Radio
NERW's in Ireland this
week, so instead of our usual news update, it's our special Baseball
on the Radio edition. We'll be back with a full NERW issue from
the NAB Show in Las Vegas on April 11 - and in the meantime,
please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for breaking-news updates as they happen!
TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE: Entercom
has added another FM news-talk simulcast to its growing list,
killing off Buffalo-market AAA "107.7 the Lake," WLKK,
in favor of a simulcast of news-talker WBEN (930).
*A few quick updates from the road on some headline news back
home: in Boston, WTKK (96.9) afternoon talker Jay Severin is
off the air at the Greater Media station, suspended indefinitely
after making remarks on air about having had relations with young
employees at a business he used to own. No word on when he'll
be back, or if a permanent replacement is in the works. In Connecticut,
WSHU Public Radio has quietly added a new signal to its stable:
the programming on its "AM network" (WSHU 1260 Westport)
is apparently now being heard on WYBC (1340 New Haven), where
it replaces Yale University's student-run programming, which
now appears to be streaming-only.
*We'll have a full news update next week; in the meantime,
here's the first installment of our annual look at Baseball
on the Radio, starting in the major leagues.
The Boston Red Sox, now past the midway point in their
landmark ten-year deal with Entercom's WEEI, return to the WEEI
stations and to their substantial network that stretches across
New England, part of upstate New York, and down into south Florida
as well. (WWCN 770 in Fort Myers and WZVU 960 in Palm Beach both
carry at least some Sox games.) The big addition this year, at
least for fans living west of route 128, is the return of Worcester's
WCRN (830) to the network. That signal fills a major gap in WEEI's
own coverage between its 850 Boston signal (nulled westward at
night) and its 1440 Worcester signal, whch doesn't get very far
east. The Sox TV coverage is, as always, entirely on the team's
own NESN - and Spanish-language Sox fans can once again hear
coverage on WWZN (1510 Boston) and the Spanish Beisbol Network.
New York Yankees know where they'll be heard this year
- once again on WCBS (880) and an extensive regional network
- but it's only a one-year deal, with much speculation about
an ESPN Radio bid for Yankees rights once the current arrangement
ends. In Spanish, a multi-year deal with WADO (1280) remains
in place, and of course the TV games remain with the Yankees'
YES Network, which is again placing some games on a broadcast
network that includes WWOR (Channel 9) in the New York market
and a handful of stations upstate.
The New York Mets have no drama in the broadcast department
this year: WFAN (660) remains not only the flagship but nearly
the entire network, augmented mainly by WOFX (980) in the Albany
market. Spanish-language coverage is again on WQBU (92.7), with
the Mets' SNY Network handling TV and handing off some games
to New York's WPIX (Channel 11) and an upstate broadcast network.
The Philadelphia Phillies are back on WPHT (1210) and
an extensive regional network for another year, though like the
Yankees, they're due for a bigger contract negotiation come 2012.
WPHT ups the ante this year with a new all-Phillies HD Radio
subchannel on sister station WOGL (98.1-HD4). The new service
will include next-day replays of Phillies games as well as new
audio content, says CBS Radio. Out beyond the Blue Route, there's
one pretty big change along the network: Harrisburg's WHGB (1400)
is the new Phillies affiliate in the state capital. Spanish-language
Phils coverage stays on WUBA (1480), while TV games are shared
by Comcast and WPHL (Channel 17), augmented by affiliates in
Harrisburg and Scranton.
The Pittsburgh Pirates stay where they've been: Clear
Channel's WPGB (104.7) and a huge network of western Pennsylvania,
West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland stations. There's no Spanish-language
radio, unsurprisingly, and TV coverage is all on cable.
The Toronto Blue Jays own their radio station - CJCL
(FAN 590) in Toronto - and this year the TV rights are entirely
on Rogers-owned Sportsnet, ending years of sharing rights with
CTV's TSN. The Jays' outlying radio network shifts a bit this
year: in Hamilton, the team is back on the bigger signal of CHML
(900) after some time on CHAM (820), while in Ottawa the new
Jays signal is CKBY (Y101.1) out of Smiths Falls.
And we mention the Baltimore Orioles this year because
the resurgent team is making radio inroads into NERW-land: in
addition to the return of WBAL (1090) and its big AM signal as
the O's flagship, the team adds WIOO (1000 Carlisle)/WEEO (1480
Shippensburg) to its existing York-area radio coverage in Pennsylvania.
And in Delaware, the O's appear this year on WWTX (1290 Wilmington),
providing at least a fringe signal to parts of the Philadelphia
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*Play is now underway at the higher levels of the minor leagues,
too, and we'll start as always with the AAA International League.
The Pawtucket Red Sox remain in place on WHJJ (920 Providence)
and a small regional network in Rhode Island and Massachusetts,
and the team will be seen a few times on NESN and more on Cox
cable. The Syracuse Chiefs have a new home this year,
moving from the former "Sports Animal," WHEN (620),
now that that AM signal has gone urban, to Citadel's all-sports
WSKO (1260). The Rochester Red Wings remain on Clear Channel's
WHTK (1280/107.3), in the first full season since WHTK added
the FM simulcast - and both the Chiefs and Wings will have TV
coverage on Time Warner Cable's local sports channels in each
market. The Buffalo Bisons continue on WWKB (1520), with
TV mainly on Time Warner and a handful of games on SNY, the home
of the parent Mets. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees remain
on Bold Gold's "Game" sports network, based out of
WICK (1400) in Scranton. And the Lehigh Valley IronPigs stay
in place on WTKZ (1320 Allentown)/WEEX (1230 Easton) and an extensive
TV platform that includes Service Electric Cable's SEC2 and Hazleton's
WYLN. The 'Pigs have a new host for their studio broadcasts this
year, as Michael Ventola joins the team.
In the Eastern League, the Portland Sea Dogs are in
their seventh year on WBAE (1490 Portland)/WVAE (1400 Biddeford),
as well as WEZR/WTME/WKTQ to the north and now WMYF (1380 Portsmouth
NH) to the south. A handful of games will also appear on NESN.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats have a new broadcast team,
with veteran New England sports voice Dick Lutsk joining play-by-play
man Bob Lipman in the booth. WGIR (610 Manchester) remains the
flagship, augmented by stations in Rochester, Nashua, Hanover
and, this year, Keene's WEEY (93.5). The New Britain Rock
Cats continue their unique arrangement with WTIC, which broadcasts
all the games on an HD subchannel of WTIC-FM (96.5) and 20 of
the games on WTIC (1080) when there's no Red Sox conflict. The
Binghamton Mets remain on WNBF (1290), as best we can
tell, and the Erie SeaWolves on WFNN (1330). The Altoona
Curve add a Cumberland, Maryland affiliate - WCBC (1270)
- to a network based at WVAM (1430 Altoona) as well as signals
in Johnstown, Loretto, Tyrone, Clearfield and, for some games,
WBGG (970 Pittsburgh). The Harrisburg Senators remain
on WTKT (1460), and the Reading Phillies are in their
12th season on WIOV (1240), with extensive TV coverage on SEC2,
Blue Ridge Cable and WYLN. And in New Jersey, the Trenton
Thunder have a new home: they're now on WTSR (91.3) at The
College of New Jersey, replacing Rider College's WRRC (107.7)
and its weaker signal at the ballpark.
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And one more before we leave you this week: The Wilmington
Blue Rocks of the Carolina League are in Delaware, just outside
NERW-land...but this year their games will be carried on a NERW-land
station as the team moves from WWTX (1290 Wilmington), now an
Orioles outlet, to WGLS (89.7) in Glassboro, New Jersey. The
Rowan College station throws a fringe signal across the Delaware
River into Wilmington.
We'll tackle the independent leagues and the short-season
New York-Penn League later on; for now, greetings from Durrow,
County Laois, in central Ireland - and we'll see you in this
space once again next week from the NAB Show in Las Vegas!
the NERW Archives
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.
One Year Ago: April 5, 2010 -
- The breathless TV news reports called it RHODE ISLAND's worst
natural disaster in two centuries, though the Hurricane of 1938
might beg to differ. But whether it was "worst" or
just "pretty bad," the flooding on the Pawtuxet and
Blackstone rivers caused plenty of damage and kept broadcasters
busy last week. Unlike the 1938 storm, which destroyed most of
the state's broadcast infrastructure, the TV and FM sites and
most of the AM sites, all east of Providence, remained safe and
on the air. As best we can tell, only two riverside AM sites
north and west of Narragansett Bay were inundated: Radio Disney's
WDDZ (550 Pawtucket) along the Blackstone River and Hall's ESPN
Radio affiliate WLKW (1450 West Warwick) along the Pawtuxet.
- At WDDZ, the water that rose above the tower bases didn't
knock the station off the air; even with the tower in water,
the station's auxiliary tube transmitter was able to drive the
unusual load and keep some signal getting out. WLKW fared worse;
it was off the air for almost two days until the waters receded
below the base insulator. The good news is that there was no
apparent permanent damage from the floodwaters, and things are
slowly getting back to normal.
- In MASSACHUSETTS, Chris Zito is gone from the morning show
at WODS (103.3 Boston), leaving veteran jock Karen Blake solo
for now. Blake and Zito had been paired up since November 2008,
when their "Zito and Karen Blake" show took the place
of longtime WODS morning man Dale Dorman. Zito came to WODS from
Worcester, where he'd been doing mornings at WXLO. Another morning
show in the same CBS Radio building has a little more job security:
WBZ-FM (98.5) picked up the "Toucher and Rich" show
for what's being described as a "multi-year deal";
that deal doesn't include producer/sidekick Chris "Crash"
Clark, who left the show Friday.
- Also gone from the "Sports Hub" is Gary Tanguay,
who was co-hosting the midday "Tanguay and Zo" show
with Steve Zolak; replacing him is one of Tanguay's former Comcast
SportsNet colleagues, Andy Gresh.
- CONNECTICUT talk host Jim Vicevich is off the air again at
WTIC (1080 Hartford), but this time it's for good. Vicevich was
absent from the WTIC airwaves for a while earlier this year as
he recuperated from a bout with auto-immune illness, and while
the station saved his 9 AM-noon slot for him with a combination
of an extended morning show and Sean Hannity reruns, budget cuts
finally did the local mid-morning show in last week. "As
of this morning at 8:30, I am no longer employed by WTIC 1080,"
Vicevich wrote on his radioviceonline.com site on Wednesday.
"Over the course of four months, we were unable to reach
an agreement on a new contract." Vicevich says he'll continue
to blog and to do shows on his website.
- And we send our deepest condolences to WQNY (103.7 Ithaca)
morning man Chris Allinger on the death of his mother, Betty
Cushing Griffin Allinger, who was herself a formidable figure
in Utica broadcasting for many years. She actually began her
broadcasting career in Boston in 1938, working at WHDH after
attending Leland Powers School of Theater and Radio, but by 1939
she was back home in Utica as director of educational programming
at what was then the city's only radio station, WIBX. During
World War II, she became WIBX's production manager, as well as
a pioneering female newscaster. In 1955, she married a fellow
Utica radio personality, Ralph Allinger; in later years, she
also served on the board of the New York State FM Network, and
she was a frequent guest on her son's morning show even in her
nineties. Mrs. Allinger died March 27; she was 93.
- A long-running morning team in northeast PENNSYLVANIA split
up last week, as John Webster departed Shamrock's "Rock
107" (WEZX 106.9 Scranton) to become the new morning co-host
at Entercom's talker WILK, replacing the just-dismissed Kevin
Lynn. Webster, whose real name is John Gasper, had been teamed
up with Jay Daniels at Rock 107 since 1985, and Shamrock's not
quite ready to let go of its star morning man: Gasper tells the
Scranton Times-Tribune (which is co-owned with WEZX) that he's
still trying to determine whether his six-month non-compete starts
now, or whether it began when his contract ran out last year.
It's also not clear whether Gasper can take the name "John
Webster" down the dial with him, or whether that remains
Five Years Ago: April 3, 2006 -
- It's been a rough year for fans of oldies in the New York
metropolitan area, what with the demise of WCBS-FM and all. But
oldies aficionados in the CONNECTICUT suburbs and nearby parts
of Westchester and Long Island still had somewhere else to turn
- Cox's "Kool" WKHL (96.7 Stamford) - at least until
last Wednesday night at 10, when the Box Tops' "The Letter"
faded out, replaced by "The New 96-7, the Coast, Fairfield
County's Greatest Hits." The new station, which is running
jockless for now, kicked off with Billy Joel's "Big Shot"
(a wee bit ironic, perhaps, for a station that's billing itself
as being "all about Fairfield County" to debut with
Long Island's favorite son?), and the music mix appears to be
somewhere between all-out adult hits and mainstream AC. New calls
for the station are apparently WCTZ.
- Over in RHODE ISLAND, rumors began swirling late last week
that Brown Broadcasting Service was preparing to sell WBRU-FM
(95.5 Providence), the modern rock station that's operated (commercially)
by a mostly-volunteer staff of Brown University students. An
article in a local alternative weekly led to a story Thursday
night on WJAR (Channel 10), and by Friday the message boards
were aflame with talk of WBRU's imminent demise. Friday afternoon
at 4, the WBRU jocks said their farewells, to the tune of Green
Day's "Time of Your Life," and were abruptly replaced
by an automated adult hits format as "Buddy FM," a
nod to imprisoned former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci. The stunt
lasted 20 hours, until the WBRU jocks "broke in" to
the Benevolent Street studios Saturday afternoon and "liberated"
the station from its new corporate overlords at "Initek."
- Yes, it was April Fool time in the Ocean State. And yes,
"Initek" is the infamously clueless corporation from
the movie "Office Space." And, yes, it was fun watching
the message boards - and the TV stations - take the whole thing
- The big news in MASSACHUSETTS is all about signals - new
ones and moved ones.From the "new" file, our ears on
the South Shore have been hearing the initial testing of CSN
International's new WSMA (90.5 Scituate), which is running 7700
watts horizontal, 5 watts vertical from a site 150 meters above
average terrain off Route 3A down in Plymouth, using a directional
antenna that throws most of its power north and southwest, with
a deep null toward co-channel WICN (90.5 Worcester).
- Out on Cape Cod, WWTE (90.1 Wellfleet) has applied for its
license to cover, though we've yet to hear any reports from anyone
who's heard the station on the air. WWTE changed hands late last
month from Living Proof, Inc., the California religious broadcaster
that's been fighting to get a station on the air in Leominster,
to Horizon Christian Fellowship, a Fitchburg-based religious
broadcaster. As part of the $150,000 transaction, Horizon also
gets translator construction permits for W241AU (96.1 Plymouth),
W258BH (99.5 Sandwich) and W296BR (107.1 Barnstable).
- From the "moved" file, WFNX (101.7 Lynn) turned
on its new transmitter site atop One Financial Center in downtown
Boston late last week, dramatically improving its signal in the
city. WFNX had been transmitting from the old WEEI-FM site on
the Medford-Malden line since 1987, and from the WLYN (1360 Lynn)
tower on Route 107 before that, never quite getting enough signal
into the parts of Boston where most of the station's young audience
lives, works and goes to school.
- Out in Pittsfield, the moves begin this week at the Vox cluster.
We hear that WUHN (1110 Pittsfield) will flip from standards
to a simulcast of oldies "Whoopie" (WUPE 95.9 Pittsfield/WMNB
100.1 North Adams) on Wednesday, with Larry Kratka's "Upfront"
talk show moving from WUHN to sister WBEC (1420) at 11 AM. April
17 is now set as the date for WBEC-FM (105.5) to begin simulcasting
its "Live" top 40 on 95.9, which will become the sole
home of "Live" when 105.5 moves to the Springfield
market as a WEEI relay shortly thereafter.
- There's a call change - and potentially a format tweak, too
- at a NEW HAMPSHIRE sports station. WSNH (900 Nashua) changed
calls to WGAM ("The Game") last week. And we're told
the station has been telling listeners that it, and new sister
station WKBR (1250 Manchester), may be losing their ESPN Radio
affiliations. Stay tuned...
10 Years Ago: April 4, 2001 -
- Back when we toiled in the radio business in MASSACHUSETTS,
the buzzword du jour was "synergy," as radio stations,
TV newsrooms and newspapers fought to see who could create the
most alliances with erstwhile competitors. This week, though,
the object of the game appears to be just the opposite, as radio,
TV and newspapers all engaged in what looks like one big catfight.
It all started, apparently, with the Boston Globe's 1999 decision
to ban its sports reporters from the Glenn Ordway show on WEEI
(850 Boston). That ban didn't provoke much of a media frenzy,
but last week, when the Globe extended the ban to WEEI's morning
show, hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan decided to make an
issue out of it. Globe columnist Eileen McNamara fanned the flames
when she then wrote a column (against editors' orders, it seems)
about being banned. The Globe declined to publish the column,
and McNamara then decided to go on the Dennis/Callahan show in
violation of the ban.
- That's not the end of the cross-media fireworks lighting
the sky over Boston Harbor, though: WEEI itself has been playing
the ban game, exiling Globe writers from its other shows (which
were still acceptable to Globe editors, since the content actually
focused on sports instead of the typical male-oriented morning
show fodder.) Oh yeah...WEEI has also barred the Herald's Jim
Baker from its airwaves.
- Meanwhile, across town on Soldiers Field Road, the once-friendly
relationship between WBZ (1030) and sister station WBZ-TV (Channel
4) turned sour last week when radio talk host David Brudnoy invited
WCVB (Channel 5) anchor-icon Natalie Jacobson to be a guest on
his 25th anniversary show. The Herald's Monica Collins reported
Saturday that the guest stint, which put Channel 4 anchor Joe
Shortsleeve in the odd position of having to do a radio cut-in
promoting his 11 PM show right in the midst of his competitor's
appearance, prompted a memo from 'BZ-TV general manager Ed Goldman
that put the brakes on the long cooperation between the radio
and TV sides at 1170 Soldiers Field Road. Collins says the memo
bans (there's that word again!) WBZ radio personalities from
appearing on Channel 4, stops radio news crews from using the
TV side's gear, and halts the shared promotions between the two
- Elsewhere in the Bay State, the new formats are now fully
in place on Ernie Boch's Cape Cod FMs. WTWV (101.1 Mashpee),
now doing hot AC as "the Wave," even has an airstaff
in place: Mina and Doug in mornings, operations manager Boy Troy
in middays and music director Lisa Garvey in afternoons. Down
the hall at modern rock WDVT (93.5 Harwich Port), music director
Peter Maxx is also serving as production director for the entire
Boch group. "The Vault" is jockless for the moment,
but we're told that will change.
- We'll make VERMONT our next stop as we flesh out the rumors
to which we alluded last issue. Clear Channel is indeed shifting
some of its Burlington-market signals, and it plays out something
like this: The smooth jazz that was this year's format on WXPS
(96.7 Willsboro NY) showed up on another spot on the dial Monday
morning, replacing oldies on WLCQ (92.1 Port Henry NY). Once
that temporary simulcast ends, 96.7 will reportedly become WXZO,
"the Zone," simulcasting talk programming (including
Imus in the Morning) from WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY). 96.7 was
talk once before, doing sports back before its smooth-jazz days
-- and it was simulcasting WEAV back then, too! We're also hearing
about some tweaking going on down in the Middlebury area, as
Steve Silberberg gets to work on WRRO (93.7 Addison). Gone, we're
told, is much of the classic rock, replaced by AAA-ish fare such
as Paula Cole and Elvis Costello. And if that sounds reminiscent
of Silberberg's Boston-market "River" (WXRV 92.5 Haverhill
MA), it should: we're also told the River folks are advising
WRRO on programming.
- Next stop, RHODE ISLAND and a surprise station sale and format
change: Pawtucket's WICE (550) dropped its talk format ("550
the Buzz") Monday morning (4/2) to become the second Radio
Disney affiliate in the Providence market. Owner AAA Entertainment
(formerly Back Bay Broadcasting) is selling WICE to Disney for
what we hear is a price north of $3 million.
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- The big news is the April Fools' joke that wasn't: the move
of veteran WBCN morning host Charles Laquidara to co-owned classic
rocker WZLX, allowing Howard Stern to move from evenings on BCN
(where he's been since March 1993) to morning drive. Here's what
the fallout looks like so far: Most of Charles' crew moved with
him to WZLX (the exception is sports guy Tank, who stays with
WBCN to do Patriots games there), displacing morning host George
Taylor Morris. Evenings are back to music on WBCN, with no permanent
jock named yet. At his press conference today, Stern slammed
all the usual Boston media suspects, but from what I'm told,
said he's especially determined to beat the all-news station,
which would be perennial AM drive leader WBZ.
- Red Sox season is underway, on a radio network that includes
flagship WEEI 850 Boston, and for AM DXers to the west, WTIC
1080 Hartford. TV viewers are still trying to find the Carmine
Hose, who have parted company with WSBK-TV 38 after two decades.
Thanks to its Sox, Bruins, and Celtics coverage, TV38 had built
itself into a regional superstation found on almost every cable
system from Long Island Sound north into Canada and west into
upstate New York. The Sox' new flagship, WABU-TV, is a 3-station
UHF network on 68 in Boston, 21 (WNBU) in Concord NH, and 58
(WZBU) on Cape Cod. Other areas are filled in with full-power
TV (WGME and WPXT in Portland ME) or LPTV (WLNE-LP in Providence,
WWIN-LP in Burlington VT, and WDMR-LP in Springfield). Berkshire
County, in Western Mass., was a trouble spot, since neither WDMR-LP
nor WABU reach out there. After weeks of confusion and distress
among Sox fans, the local cable companies agreed to pick up a
satellite feed of Sox games on basic cable. Nobody wants to drop
WSBK for WABU, because of WSBK's Bruins and Celtics coverage
and its stronger slate of syndicated programs and news.
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2011 by Scott Fybush.