WBEN Adds FM
While NERW's covering
all the action at the NAB Show, stay tuned to our Twitter
and Facebook feeds for breaking-news updates as they happen!
LAS VEGAS - It's another NAB Show...and another Sunday-night
NERW deadline, so there's not much we can say yet about the show
that kicks into high gear today. We'll have more on NAB throughout
the week on our Facebook and Twitter feeds and next week in NERW...and
you can tune in to TWiT.tv Wednesday around noon (EDT) to catch
your editor live from the convention floor with the gang from
"This Week in Radio Tech."
Meanwhile, here's what's been making news back home:
*The latest front in the "FM news-talk"
offensive is in western NEW YORK, where Entercom's struggling
"Lake" (WLKK 107.7 Wethersfield Township) finally sank
beneath the waves (or at least over to the obscurity of an HD2
subchannel) at midnight last Tuesday, replaced by a simulcast
of the market's leading talker, WBEN (930 Buffalo).
with many of the recent additions of FM signals to AM news-talkers,
the issue in Buffalo wasn't signal: WBEN has arguably the best
AM coverage of any signal in town, with a centrally-located tower
site on Grand Island and full-market penetration day and night.
But there's a sense out there (and we're hearing a lot about
it here in the hallways at NAB) that even the best AM signal
is no longer a guarantee that younger audiences will find the
programming being offered there, which is why we've seen a significant
number of AM news-talk and sports stations adding FM signals,
including recent flips in Syracuse (WSYR-FM 106.9) and Albany
Buffalo's move is interesting for a few reasons, though: especially
because WLKK's 107.7 signal is challenging to receive in many
parts of the core Buffalo market, especially in Niagara County,
where Canada's CJXY (107.9 Hamilton) wreaks adjacent-channel
havoc. In fact, much of WLKK's coverage spreads eastward to the
Rochester market, where WBEN-on-WLKK carries some of the same
hosts as Clear Channel's WHAM (1180), and in the case of Rush
Limbaugh, it's a live carriage on 107.7 and 930 against a two-hour
delay on WHAM. But Entercom's not after Rochester audiences;
instead, it's widely speculated that the intent of the WLKK flip
is to shave just enough audience from country competitor WYRK
(106.5) to keep WBEN firmly in first place, 12+.
(And that WLKK call appears to be staying on 107.7: a few
years back, Entercom allowed Greater Media to take the "WBEN-FM"
callsign down to Philadelphia, where it continues to reside on
*A second local newscast
is returning to Utica, where Smith's WKTV (Channel 2) has had
the market all to itself since the shutdown of local newscasts
at WUTR (Channel 20) eight years ago.
Under new owner Nexstar, news is coming back later this spring
at WUTR and its sister stations, which announced the move at
a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Fox affiliate WFXV (Channel
When the new newscasts launch this fall, they'll air at 6
and 11 PM on WUTR, 7 PM on MyNetwork outlet WPNY and 10 PM on
In Buffalo, LIN's WNLO (CW23) is revamping the 8 AM hour of
its morning newscast, replacing its more straitlaced morning
show (still seen from 5-7 AM on sister station WIVB-TV and from
7-8 on WNLO) with a new lifestyle show called "Winging It!
Buffalo Style," hosted by Joe Arena and Victoria Hong.
A bit of radio history is about to disappear in Syracuse,
where the city landmarks commission has signed off on the demolition
of the buildings at 431-439 South Warren Street that were the
Art Deco home of WFBL (1390) in that station's heyday. Long vacant
and in poor condition, the century-old buildings, which received
a new facade in the 1940s when WFBL moved in, will be replaced
by (sigh...) a parking lot.
*Radio People on the Move: Aaron Read is moving on from Geneva's
WEOS (89.7) and WHWS-LP (105.7), where he'd been general manager.
Read moved from Boston to the Finger Lakes to take the WEOS job
a few years back, and he says he's now looking for work in Boston
again once he departs WEOS and WHWS in June.
In Albany, there's a new program director/news director at
Clear Channel's WGY (810/103.1), where Paul Ihander comes east
from sister stations KCSJ/KDZA in Pueblo, Colorado. Ihander replaces
Chuck Custer in those management roles, with Custer focusing
on his morning-show duties.
And back to Buffalo and WBEN, we remember Tom Whalen, who
came to the station in 1947 as an engineer and quickly established
himself as the right-hand man to longtime morning legend Clint
Buehlman, a role he filled until Buehlman's retirement in 1977.
Whalen was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame
in 2003. He died March 30, at the age of 88.
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*When Gary LaPierre announced
his departure from one of the top radio news jobs in MASSACHUSETTS
five years ago, WBZ (1030 Boston) probably didn't expect
that it would need to fill the job twice in just half a decade.
But after the departure of LaPierre's replacement, Ed Walsh,
the CBS Radio all-newser is hoping for a longer run for its next
morning news anchor. Joe Mathieu hasn't yet turned 40, and while
most of his recent work has been in Washington, DC, where he's
been doing news for XM/Sirius and programming its POTUS talk
channel, his roots are in New England, where he started his career
in eastern CONNECTICUT before working on Cape Cod (WXTK/WCOD)
and at Boston's WRKO. A 1996 graduate of Emerson College, Mathieu
starts his new job early next month.
at Greater Media's WTKK (96.9), there's still no permanent replacement
in place for Jay Severin, whose long association with the FM
talker came to an abrupt end when he made some ill-advised on-air
comments about having had intimate relations with young employees
and interns at a company he once owned. Michael Bower is the
temporary afternoon host at WTKK, but the rumor mill is in full
swing, pondering whether WRKO or Clear Channel's WXKS (1200)
might find Severin's hefty salary (rumored to be in the $1 million
range) worth it for the audience he'd bring along. And in the
opposite direction, there's plenty of speculation about WRKO's
Howie Carr finally making good on his long-delayed plans to jump
ship to WTKK...speculation Carr himself encouraged with comments
to the Boston Herald's Jessica Heslam.
Out on Cape Cod, Dennis Jackson's as-yet-unbuilt WMEX (88.1
Edgartown) wants a different frequency and more power. It's appying
to modify its construction permit to specify operation on 88.7,
where it would run 1 kW/302' DA, a considerable increase over
the 150 watts it would have run on 88.1.
*Speaking of Connecticut, WYBC (94.3/1340 New Haven) manager
Wayne Schmidt is moving on after two decades at the helm of the
Yale University stations. Schmidt tells NERW his last big project
at WYBC was the recently-completed time-brokerage agreement to
put programming from Fairfield County-based WSHU public radio
on the AM 1340 signal, which in turn provides funding to help
Yale students continue to build their online-only "WYBC-X"
service. Schmidt has been battling cancer, and we wish him the
best in that fight.
And a TV newsman is moving up I-91 from Hartford to Springfield:
Dave Ward relocates from the assignment desk at Meredith's WFSB
(Channel 3) to become the new news director at CBS sister station
WSHM ("CBS3") in Springfield, replacing the recently-departed
Back in Hartford, Al Kim is the new local morning host at
Blount's recently-launched WSDK (1550 Bloomfield). Kim's familiar
to Hartford audiences from his part-time work at WRCH (Lite 100.5);
he's on the air at WSDK from 6-8 on weekday mornings.
*NEW HAMPSHIRE picked up two more
all-sports stations in as many weeks: in Keene, Saga flipped
WZBK (1220) from progressive talk (simulcasting WKVT 1490 Brattleboro,
Vermont) to "ESPN 1220" on March 31. Later this month,
veteran sportscaster Bob Lund will bring his "Press Box"
talk show back to the air on the new WZBK. Meanwhile on the Seacoast,
Clear Channel has dumped the WGIR (610 Manchester) talk simulcast
on WGIN (930 Rochester), which also flips to ESPN.
*Radio People on the Move in RHODE ISLAND:
Steve Conti's been associated with WHJY (94.1) and the Clear
Channel cluster for many years, doing everything from on-air
work (as "Troll," his longtime nickname) to serving
as assistant chief engineer. Now he's leaving Clear Channel,
taking what he describes as a "less exciting IT/electronics
gig" outside of radio, though he'll continue to do some
engineering work for public broadcaster WRNI.
On the TV side, WLNE (Channel 6) will have new leadership
as it heads for new Citadel Communications ownership: Steve Doerr,
who'd served as WLNE's general manager under its previous ownership,
is departing the ABC affiliate. No replacement has been named
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*It's flirted with oblivion many times, but
a little AM station in eastern PENNSYLVANIA is once again
back on the air under new ownership. WVZN (1580 Columbia) is
now in the hands of New York-based Radio Vision Cristiana, which
is now using the York-market daytimer as a simulcast of its Spanish-language
religious network based at WWRV (1330 New York). RVC is paying
former WVZN owner Esfuerzo de Union Cristiana $150,000 for the
The newest AM signal in the Keystone State is testing. Bud
Williamson's WMJQ (1450 Milford) was on the air late last week,
we hear, with a formal launch set for later this spring.
*NEW JERSEY's newest TV station is
one step closer to air: Western Pacific Broadcast LLC (an arm
of tower owner Richland) has filed applications for construction
permits for the two new TV signals it won at auction: channel
4 in Atlantic City and channel 5 in Seaford, Delaware. The "Atlantic
City" station would run 10 kW (the FCC maximum for low-band
VHF digital) from Univision's WUVP (Channel 65) tower in Waterford
Works, closer to Philadelphia than Atlantic City, while the "Seaford"
station would run 10 kW from a tower in Wye Mills on Maryland's
There's a new PD at "Thunder Country" on the shore,
as Marty Mitchell moves over from WJVC (96.1 Center Moriches)
on Long Island. Mitchell was assistant PD, music director and
afternoon jock on Long Island; at WKMK (106.3 Eatontown), he'll
be an off-air PD, allowing Captain Jack to focus on his afternoon
shift and music-director duties.
*With the launch of CANADA's newest all-sports
station just a few days away, the lineup is falling into place
at Toronto's new "TSN Radio" (CHUM 1050): Bryan Hayes
departs Corus' CFMJ (AM 640 Toronto) to join TSN Radio for the
10 AM-noon shift, following already-announced morning host Mike
Richards. Hayes will be followed by an hour of hockey talk with
Steve Kouleas. Later, James Cymbulski, TSN's Maple Leafs beat
reporter on TV, will host "Cymbulski and Company" from
4-7 PM with a rotating cast of co-hosts including Michael Landsberg
and National Post sports columnist Bruce Arthur, who comes
over from Rogers' CJCL (FAN 590). TSN Radio also adds Scott MacArthur,
who comes down the 401 from Ottawa's CFGO (Team 1200), where
he was hosting post-game shows for the Senators.
ESPN Radio will fill the evening and overnight hours on TSN
Radio, leaving FAN to do its own overnight shows.
Over at the FAN, "Prime Time Sports" moves back
to its former 4-7 PM slot from 3-6 PM, giving Andrew Krystal's
1 PM show an extra hour. Gord Stellick's "Blue and White
Tonight" Leafs show is gone from the FAN schedule, with
Stellick heading to Sirius Canada's "Score" channel.
*There's a sad end to a sad story in Ottawa, where teenager
Jayhaed Saade made big headlines a little over a year ago when
he defied Canadian officials with his continued operation of
a high-powered pirate FM station from a hotel his father owned.
Now 15, Saade was put on trial last week on several charges,
including illegally operating a radio station and threatening
Industry Canada employees as well as several local commercial
radio staffers. Among those threatened was John Mielke, operator
of the Milkman UnLimited radio website, who says the experience
was "incredibly difficult and emotional" for him and
his family - and who says he hopes "these events will lead
to this individual receiving some necessary help and guidance."
Saade was acquitted on several other charges, including obstructing
justice and assaulting a peace officer. He'll be sentenced in
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 12, 2010 -
- It was just a few months ago when VERMONT's long-running
"Corm and the Coach" morning show returned to the airwaves
in a burst of publicity, but as of Thursday the duo of Steve
Cormier and Tom "Coach" Brennan is once again off the
air. Money's at the root of the problem; in a Facebook posting,
Cormier complained that he hadn't been paid by his new station,
Convergence Media Group's WNMR (107.1 Dannemora NY), since last
November. For now, WNMR is still on the air with syndicated talk,
but without its star personalities, can the station still find
traction in a competitive (and probably over-radioed) market?
- An FCC fine against a CONNECTICUT religious station is provoking
lots of controversy among those who spend a lot of time reading
the Commission's tea leaves. At issue is whether or not stations
are required to keep their licensees' articles of incorporation
as part of their public files. WIHS (104.9 Middletown) didn't
have its articles of incorporation in its file when someone came
to ask for it, nor did it make it available later on, and it
now faces a $1250 fine as a result.
- In upstate NEW YORK, several public broadcasters are cooperating
to get a new signal on the air in Ithaca before its construction
permit expires. WITH (90.1 Ithaca) was granted to Hobart and
William Smith Colleges almost three years ago, and now it's poised
to sign on within a few weeks as part of a partnership between
Hobart and William Smith station WEOS (89.7 Geneva) and Rochester
public broadcaster WXXI. Under the deal, WXXI is building the
WITH facility at the tower site north of Ithaca owned by Binghamton
public broadcaster WSKG, which already uses that tower to transmit
WSQG (90.9 Ithaca), relaying the news/classical hybrid format
of WSKG-FM in Binghamton. When WITH hits the air in May, it promises
"fresh offerings to meet the needs of the Ithaca community,"
though specific details haven't been announced yet. Meanwhile,
WXXI will work with WEOS to provide expanded public-affairs programming,
including coverage of HWS campus events. WEOS' existing staff
will stay in place, and will continue to manage the school's
low-power station, WHWS-LP (105.7 Geneva) as well. It's not yet
clear what becomes of WEOS' existing Ithaca translator, W201CD
(88.1), which is owned by Ithaca Community Broadcasting, which
has its own unbuilt CPs in nearby Odessa and Watkins Glen.
Five Years Ago: April 10, 2006 -
- A lot has changed in MASSACHUSETTS radio since 1964. By our
count, there are just two stations on the Boston AM dial still
using the same calls and frequency they used back then. One is
WILD (1090), and the other, of course, is WBZ (1030). It was
way back in 1964 that a young reporter from Shelburne Falls named
Gary LaPierre joined the station's news staff. Just two years
later, LaPierre became WBZ's morning news anchor, and for forty
years, that's where he's been, through changes of ownership (Westinghouse
to CBS to Infinity and back to CBS) and format (top 40 to AC/news-talk
to all news).
- Last week, LaPierre announced that he'll retire at the end
of 2006, closing out the 42-year run at WBZ that began with his
very first assignment, covering the Beatles' arrival for their
first Boston concert. (Back then, LaPierre recalled, he looked
so young that station management wouldn't allow his picture to
be distributed.) The station hasn't announced who'll replace
LaPierre in 2007; his presumptive successor for many years, anchor/reporter
Jay McQuaide, left the station last year to join Blue Cross/Blue
- (And on a personal note, if I may: your editor had the great
good fortune to work alongside Gary for several years as his
newswriter. Much of what I know about writing for broadcast came
directly from Gary, and I'll long be in his debt for the education
I received during those years.)
- Just south of Boston, WBET (1460 Brockton) is changing hands.
Joe Gallagher's Aritaur group (doing business, in this case,
as KJI Broadcasting) bought WBET and WCAV-FM from their original
owner, the Brockton Enterprise, in 1997, then sold WCAV (now
WILD-FM) to Radio One two years later.
- RHODE ISLAND's NBC owned-and-operated station is changing
hands, as Media General pays GE $600 million for four of its
stations, including WJAR (Channel 10) in Providence, along with
stations in Raleigh-Durham, Birmingham and Columbus. WJAR will
be Media General's first TV property in the region, joining its
existing group of small- and medium-market stations clustered
in the southeast and midwest. (NBC says it's shedding the stations
to focus its resources on expanding the reach of its Telemundo
- A veteran CONNECTICUT broadcaster is retiring. Dick Ferguson
came to prominence heading Park City Communications, then joined
Katz Broadcasting as its president when it acquired Park City
in 1981. In 1986, Ferguson led the management buyout of the Katz
stations that created the NewCity group, with prominent holdings
that included WPLR and WEZN in Connecticut and WSYR/WYYY in Syracuse.
And when Cox Radio bought NewCity in 1997, Ferguson remained
with the company, becoming executive vice president there in
2003. Ferguson's retirement will take effect at the end of May.
10 Years Ago: April 11, 2001 -
- The Boston Celtics are near the end of another lackluster
season, but as the team watches another year run down amidst
memories of the glory days of Auerbach and Bird, it's able to
offer fans at least one guaranteed change for next year. When
the 2001-2002 preseason starts in October, the Celts will be
heard on a new radio home. Instead of WEEI (850), the team will
migrate up the dial to Sporting News Radio's WWZN (1510) for
the next five seasons, in a deal announced late last week. The
deal will give WWZN an opportunity to promote itself to an audience
that hasn't been paying much attention to the upstart sports
signal, whether in its earlier incarnation as One-on-One's WNRB
or its more recent makeover under Sporting News.
- Next stop, VERMONT, where the big flip at Clear Channel's
Burlington cluster happened this morning (April 9). As we reported
here last week, the smooth jazz that had been on WXPS (96.7 Willsboro
NY) has moved for good to the WLCQ (92.1 Port Henry NY) facility,
something of a rimshot from the southern end of Lake Champlain.
96.7 is now doing talk as "the Zone" (and we hear the
WXZO calls are on the way), simulcasting with WEAV (960 Plattsburgh
NY). The 96.7/960 format kicks off with Don Imus in the morning,
and the rumor around Burlington is that Clear Channel will eventually
move Premiere's Dr. Laura and Rush Limbaugh from their current
homes at WVMT and WKDR over to the new talk simulcast.
- 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
- From PENNSYLVANIA comes word that WCHE (1520 West Chester)
will soon be able to add a second tower. The station was granted
a power boost to 1000 watts day, 500 watts critical hours (with
a directional antenna) from its current non-DA 250 watts daytime.
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- One of Boston's top-rated talk hosts is going network, at
least in a limited way. WRKO's Howie Carr will soon be heard
in Providence on talker WPRO (630). WPRO is picking up the 3-6pm
portion of the show, leaving the 6-7pm hour Boston-only for now.
It's not yet clear what happens to WPRO's local talker Bruce
Newbury, who's currently occupying afternoon drive on 630.
- Mega-opoly has arrived on the shores of Cape Cod, just in
time for tourist season. Car dealer Ernie Boch is buying adult
contemporary WCOD 106.1 (a Hyannis-licensed full B) and simulcast
modern-rockers WUNZ 101.1 Falmouth and WUNX 93.5 Harwich (both
class A's, which together cover the Cape.) Boch already owns
talker WXTK 94.9 (a West Yarmouth-licensed full B), as well as
sports WUOK 1240 West Yarmouth. It's not yet known how much Boch
paid to acquire the stations from J.J. Taylor, or what changes
he might make. WCOD is one of three ACs on the Cape, in competition
with WQRC in Barnstable and WCIB in Falmouth, while WUNX/WUNZ
have the modern-rock market to themselves. What is clear is that
Boston's major dailies did their usual sloppy job reporting this
one. The gossip column in one of them identified WCOD as the
modern rocker, while the other paper put WCOD on "101.6
FM" and moved WUOK to the FM band as well. (That same major
metropolitan daily also gave WOAZ Lowell-Boston an unexpected
frequency change from 99.5 to 99.9 last week...)
- NERW reader Barry O'Brien in Washington reports he attended
the Broadcasters' Foundation's "Golden Mike Awards"
at the Plaza Hotel in New York City this week. The guest of honor
was veteran New England broadcaster Norman Knight (of WTAG/WSRS
Worcester and WGIR Manchester NH fame). Speakers included Red
Auerbach, Curt Gowdy, and Pat Buchanan. Barry says of all the
black-tie affairs he's ever been to, this was the nicest. Thanks
for the tip, and a hearty congratulations to Mr. Knight, whose
stations have always been class operations in New England.
- WKSS 95.7 Hartford, known to its fans as CHR "Kiss 95-7,"
is being sold to Multi-Market Radio for $18 million. Kiss will
become part of a Connecticut Valley group that includes modern
rock WMRQ 104.1 Waterbury-Hartford, rock WHCN 105.9 Hartford,
news-talk WPOP 1410 Hartford, classic rock WPLR 99.1 New Haven,
urban AC WYBC 94.3 New Haven (operated under an LMA), country
WPKX 97.9 Enfield CT-Springfield MA, modern-rock WHMP-FM 99.3
Northampton MA, and talker WHMP 1400 Northampton MA.
NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous
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2011 by Scott Fybush.