June 13, 2011
Erie's Rocket Seeks Higher Orbit
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*Erie, PENNSYLVANIA was just in the radio headlines
for the record-setting bid broadcaster Rick Rambaldo and his
partners placed for a new class A signal on 92.7 - but even before
they can get that facility on the air, another Erie-market FM
is poised to put a much bigger signal over the city.
before Rambaldo was placing bids in the latest FCC auction, he
was an upstart broadcaster who bought the old WHYP-FM (100.9)
in North East, 20 miles east of Erie, and upgraded the station's
signal to reach Erie listeners as "Rocket 101," WRKT.
Starting with the old class A WHYP-FM facility, Rambaldo powered
the signal up to B1 status (4.2 kW/797') from a tower in Ripley,
just inside the New York state line, carefully placed to just
clear a host of spacing issues including two powerful first-adjacent
signals in Cleveland (WMMS 100.7) and Youngstown (WHOT-FM 101.1).
Rambaldo eventually sold WRKT, and now if its current owner,
Connoisseur Media, has its way, the station may soon be moving
much closer to Erie - and way up the FM dial as well. Connoisseur
has applied to move WRKT from 100.9 to 104.9, relocating it from
the Ripley tower to the Connoisseur-owned tower site in Hammett
Township just east of Erie that's home to sister station WRTS
(103.7), whose antenna WRKT would share.
If the move is granted, the new "Rocket 104.9" would
become a 4.5 kW/526' class B1 facility, with somewhat less overall
coverage than the present 100.9 facility, but with a much stronger
signal over Erie itself, which would be blanketed with a 70 dBu
city-grade signal from WRKT for the first time.
Connoisseur's proposal, which requires Canadian approval,
would lead to some other changes on the dial as well: it also
includes a brand-new class A allocation on 100.9 in Westfield,
New York, which would effectively bring that frequency back to
the North East area where it started. (That channel would itself
eventually go to an FCC auction.) And it would displace translator
W285AI from 104.9 - which would, not coincidentally, be a blow
to Connoisseur's Erie rival, Citadel, which recently bought the
translator to relay its sports station, WRIE (1260)...which just
happens to compete with Connoisseur's sports entry, WFNN (1330).
WRKT's application was accepted by the FCC for filing on May
23; the vagaries of Canadian coordination mean that approval
could come quickly - or could take a very long time. We'll be
watching for updates...
*In other Keystone State news, there's a station sale south
of Harrisburg, where Holy Family Radio, Inc. (not, apparently,
the Holy Family Communications that does Catholic radio out of
Buffalo) is paying $500,000 to WP Pennsylvania Inc. for religious
WWII (720 Shiremanstown).
from Pittsburgh: veteran WQED radio and TV announcer/producer
Jim Sweenie has died. Sweenie started in radio at WMCK (1360
McKeesport, now WMNY) during high school, then became an actor
and an English professor before venturing back into broadcasting
PBRTV.com reports that Sweenie spent more than four decades
at the public broadcaster, serving as a booth announcer, writer,
director and producer at WQED-TV, as well as hosting several
music shows on the FM outlet. Sweenie died last Saturday (June
4) at 76; he'll be remembered next week with a special edition
of his "Saturday Night Requests" show on WQED-FM.
Over at Pittsburgh's other public broadcast group, the new
Essential Public Media has named Tammy Terwelp as director of
content and programming for the soon-to-be-renamed WDUQ (90.5).
Terwelp, who comes to Pittsburgh from Chicago's WBEZ, will oversee
the format flip that will take 90.5 from a mix of news and jazz
to an all-news/talk format, effective July 1.
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Site Calendar 2011.
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It's June now, and we want to clear out
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for the 2012 calendar, already in production. And that's why
we're offering our very limited remaining supply
for just $8 postpaid. (That's
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Tower Site Calendar 2011 features more than a dozen great images of radio
and TV broadcast facilities all over the country (and even beyond
- this year's edition takes us to Mexico!)
Thrill to a night shot of KFI's new tower!
Check out the WAEB Allentown array just after it lost a tower
- or enjoy the history at venerable sites like those of KID in
Idaho Falls, WCAP in Lowell, KTKT in Tucson and Rochester's Pinnacle
But wait - there's more! We also have a
small supply of the new FM Atlas, 21st edition
back in stock, as well as a limited supply of Tower Site
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Orders of 20 or more calendars get an even
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*The political fallout from NEW JERSEY governor
Chris Christie's plan to end the state's operation of its NJN
public TV and radio networks continues to grow.
Christie officially announced the plan last Monday, keeping
the NJN TV licenses in state hands but handing off operation
of the network to "Public Media NJ," an alliance of
New York-based WNET (Channel 13) and Steve Adubato Jr.'s Caucus
Educational Corporation, which already produces New Jersey-based
public affairs programming for WNET and several other broadcasters
and cable networks. Under Christie's plan, WNET and Caucus would
pay nothing for the signals, and they'd get to keep the stations'
CPB grants (estimated at about $2 million) and the annual income
from NJN tower rentals (another $2 million or so). In exchange,
Christie says, the state will save the $11 million a year it
spends on the service - WNET and Caucus will commit to an ambitious
lineup of New Jersey-oriented programming, with 20 hours of New
Jersey programming a week, including a nightly newscast that
will replace the existing "NJN News" as well as debates
and election coverage. In place of NJN's staff of about 120 (60
or so of whom will get new state jobs, with the rest being laid
off or retiring), WNET says it will hire a news staff of 15-20
people to provide New Jersey news alongside the station's own
Those plans aren't sitting well with other New Jersey politicians,
including Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg, who met with FCC
chairman Julius Genachowski to express concerns about the deal.
"It is difficult to see how the loss of such programming
is in the public interest of new Jerseyans - especially considering
the states lack of commercial broadcast television news
It's unlikely, however, that the FCC will have much cause
to intervene. The agency maintains a strict "hands-off"
policy when it comes to program content - and in the case of
NJN's TV stations, it won't even have a license transfer to consider,
since the state plans to keep the licenses. Where the deal could
still run aground is at the state level, where lawmakers must
sign off on the change within a 15-day review period that began
with Christie's announcement a week ago. During hearings on the
proposal on Friday, union officials called the Adubato-WNET partnership
an "inside deal," saying the governor had ignored other
bids for the station from in-state organizations including Montclair
NJN Radio, there seemed to be little sentiment about keeping
the network, which has never had full-state coverage. Christie
does plan to sell those facilities outright, splitting them between
Philadelphia's WHYY and New York City's WNYC.
WHYY will pay $926,000 (plus $612,000 in "non-cash payments")
for five stations serving the Jersey Shore and the state's southern
extremities: WNJM (89.9 Manahawkin), WNJN (89.7 Atlantic City),
WNJZ (90.3 Cape May Court House), WNJB (89.3 Bridgeton) and WNJS
(88.1 Berlin), and it appears the plan will be simply to use
those stations to extend the reach of WHYY's existing news and
talk service, already heard on 90.9 across much of central and
As for WNYC, it plans at least some sort of New Jersey-focused
programming on the four stations for which it will pay $1 million,
plus $1.8 million in "non-cash payments": WNJP (88.5
Sussex), WNJY (89.3 Netcong), WNJT (88.1 Trenton) and WNJO (90.3
Toms River), serving chunks of northwest and central New Jersey
and a northern piece of the shore.
*A NEW YORK morning radio veteran
is once again out of work. It was just a year ago that John Mulrooney
joined Cumulus rocker WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie) as part of the
"Coop & Mulrooney Show," but now the station says
"the time is right to move on from having a four-person
show," leaving Mark Cooper and sidekicks Kricket and Deuce
in place - and Mulrooney as the odd man out. Mulrooney was probably
better known to Albany listeners for his long stint as part of
the "Wolf and Mulrooney" morning show on WPYX.
Channel shuffled the lineup on the channels it controls on the
XM/Sirius satellite radio platforms last week, bringing two of
its New York City signals back to national exposure. WHTZ (Z100)
is now being heard on channel 12 and WLTW (Lite 106.7) on channel
13, replacing similar top-40 and AC services that had been programmed
out of Clear Channel's national iheartradio formats. The national
versions of Z100 and Kiss replace local New York ads with national
ads and filler music. Clear Channel says it made the change after
seeing how popular those stations (as well as Nashville's WSIX,
LA's KIIS and Chicago's WGCI) were with out-of-market listeners
streaming them via iheartradio.
He's best known for his big hit "Someday, Someway,"
but now Marshall Crenshaw is trying his hand at radio. Crenshaw
will join the staff of WFUV (90.7 New York) beginning next Saturday
for a one-hour weekly show called "The Bottomless Pit,"
which will air at 10 PM, following Vin Scelsa's venerable "Idiot's
Radio People on the Move: Tre is headed back to Florida (WPBZ
in West Palm Beach, to be precise) after a stint as afternoon
jock and production director at Rochester's WZNE (94.1). No replacement
has been named. Over in Utica, CNYRadio.com reports that "SportsWatch"
is back on the schedule at WIBX (950), now with news director
Jeff Monaski and Ray Rich co-hosting. Former hosts Gene Conte
and Fred Miller recently departed WIBX to join Galaxy's WTLB/WIXT/WRNY,
and the station had been running Sporting News Radio in the 6-8
PM slot in their absence.
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*There's another new signal coming to CANADA's
largest market, on a frequency the CBC didn't want occupied.
For almost a decade, Fitzroy Gordon has been battling the government
broadcaster for the right to put a new station on the air targeting
Toronto's Caribbean communities. With the Toronto FM dial packed
full, the only frequency Gordon could find was 98.7, where he
believed he could squeeze in a low-power signal right alongside
the CBC's CBLA, which broadcasts Radio One programming on second-adjacent
As far back as 2006,
the CRTC granted Gordon a license for a Caribbean service in
Toronto, but on the condition that he find a frequency other
than 98.7, a task that proved impossible. So Gordon decided to
try to prove that the second-adjacent channel would work. Last
year, he received Industry Canada permission to test the 98.7
signal, and the results of that test persuaded Industry Canada
and the CRTC that 98.7 can indeed be used in Toronto.
On Thursday, the CRTC granted Gordon's Intercity Broadcasting
Network a license for 98.7, which will run 446 watts average
ERP (1000 watts maximum)/907' from the top of First Canadian
Place, the same site used by CBLA. The CRTC imposed conditions
of license designed to make sure the station remains targeted
at the Caribbean community, a touchy issue given the way other
signals originally licensed to serve niche audiences have strayed
from those promises. (Just last week, in fact, Aboriginal Voices
Network dropped the "Aboriginal" from its on-air identity,
with CKAV 106.5 becoming simply "Voices 106.5" and
almost no aboriginal programming to be heard on the frequency,
just automated music.)
The CRTC declined to impose a condition requested by the CBC
that would have barred Gordon from selling the station, and it
rejected a request from competing broadcaster Doug Kirk to delay
issuing the license until a civil court resolves a lawsuit in
which he seeks an ownership stake in Intercity.
As for Gordon, he says he's already starting to scout out
studio and office space and staffers, and he hopes to have at
least an automated music feed up and running at 98.7 in time
for the Caribana festival at the end of July.
*To the south, the CRTC has approved Haliburton Broadcasting
Group's C$5.5 million purchase of CFLZ (105.1 Niagara Falls)
and CKEY (101.1 Fort Erie) from Niagara Radio Group. The sale
doesn't include sister station CJRN (710 Niagara Falls), which
programs tourist information for the region.
has started at Pineridge Broadcasting's new CJWV (96.7 Peterborough),
which is running an AC format as "Magic 96.7."
Milkman UnLimited reports the new station's airstaff
includes Dan Duran and Linda Kash in mornings, Sue Tyler (late
of CKQM "Country 105") in middays and Mike Cutting
(from sister station CHUC-FM) in afternoon drive. Cutting will
also serve as assistant PD.
*NEW HAMPSHIRE's independent TV station
now has a new identity to go with its new owner. Not at all shy
about identifying himself with his newly-acquired station, Bill
Binnie has changed the calls of Derry-licensed WZMY (Channel
50) to WBIN-TV.
One Media paid Diane Sutter's ShootingStar Broadcasting $9.25
million for the station, which maintains its MyNetwork TV affiliation
even as it drops its "MyTV" on-air identity. "Watch
us for great comedy, great drama and watch us change before your
eyes!" is the promise on the station's new
website. So far, the only new program that's been announced
is a Republican presidential debate to air on October 11 in conjunction
with Bloomberg News, the Washington Post and Dartmouth
*There's a new signal testing just south of Concord. Highland
Community Broadcasting, which operates classical WCNH-LP (94.7),
put up the antenna for its new 190-watt signal on 91.5 last week.
The new full-powered facility is licensed to Bow, and will
soon change calls from WCNU to WCNH - and once "Classical
91.5" makes its official debut, the 94.7 LPFM license will
be transferred to a new nonprofit operator.
*TV news from CONNECTICUT: after a
short stint as an affiliate of Retro TV in 2009, independent
WSAH (Channel 43) in Bridgeport has once again joined up with
the Arkansas-based classic TV network. RTV replaced infomercials
in the noon-midnight programming block on WSAH last week.
While we're on the shore, we note that the FCC has (at least
initially) turned down Sacred Heart University's application
to move WSHU (1260) from Westport to Stratford. The Commission
says at least a small portion of the new interference that would
exist between WSHU and co-channel WFJS (1260 Trenton NJ) would
take place over a land path instead of across salt water, and
therefore it can't grant the waiver it usually grants when coastal
stations interfere over long water paths. WSHU (which has been
operating on a temporary longwire antenna since losing its Westport
transmitter site a few years back) will get the chance to amend
its application to alleviate the potential interference, and
we'd expect to see a modified application soon.
The FCC has granted the first part of the
multi-step upgrade that will shift several signals in Connecticut
and western MASSACHUSETTS: Clear Channel and Hall Communications
now have construction permits in hand for their coordinated upgrades
on 100.9, which will shift Clear Channel's WRNX Amherst to a
new site on Mount Tom, closer to Springfield, and will upgrade
Hall's WKNL New London to 6 kW (directional) from its present
3 kW class A status.
The FCC has yet
to approve the other piece of the shuffle, which will shift Clear
Channel's WPKX (97.9 Enfield/Springfield) into the Hartford market
with a new city of license of Windsor Locks and a new transmitter
site in downtown Hartford. Once all the pieces are in place,
97.9 is expected to take on a new format with its move to Hartford,
while its present "Kix" country format and WPKX calls
migrate up the dial to what's now WRNX.
In the Merrimack Valley, Lowell's WCAP (980) marked its 60th
anniversary on Friday with a day of special programming, including
phone-ins from many former staffers. (And on a personal note,
this week marks the 20th anniversary of WCAP's hiring of yours
truly in his first paid radio gig, audio of which might show
up over on the NERW Facebook page if we can dig out the dusty
old cassettes and endure the embarrassment!)
Meanwhile on the FM dial, Costa-Eagle's WNNW (800 Lawrence)
is moving its FM translator. W221CH (92.1) has been struggling
with interference to and from the Boston Phoenix's 92.1
signals in New Hampshire and Maine, and now it holds a construction
permit to return to 102.9, where it will run 97 watts from the
WNNW tower in Andover.
And here's another reminder: if you'll be in the Merrimack
Valley yourself next weekend, don't miss the get-together that
Gary Francis is throwing for boston-radio-interest mailing list
participants and other broadcast types. The cookout will take
place Saturday, June 18 from 2-5 PM (with a rain date for Sunday)
- and you can get more information from Gary here.
FCC has driven another stake into a dead RHODE ISLAND noncommercial
station. WRJI (91.5 East Greenwich) squeezed its way on to the
air in 2005 when Educational Radio for the Public of a New Millennium
reached a time-sharing agreement with Coventry High School's
WCVY (91.5 Coventry), which had been operating only a limited
schedule on school-day afternoons, putting its frequency at risk
for mandatory time-sharing.
But WRJI made the fatal mistake of remaining silent for more
than a year, and last November the FCC deleted its license. And
while WRJI's owners have tried to stay on the air from a new
location in Providence, evidently without benefit of license,
WCVY had a chance to undo the time-sharing agreement that limited
it to operation between 2 and 10 PM on weekdays. It asked the
FCC to delete the time-sharing portion of its license, arguing
that the time-share agreement was unenforceable absent a valid
WRJI license - and the FCC has agreed, allowing WCVY to operate
24/7 if it so desires. (We hear the station is installing automation
that will allow it to do just that.)
Radio People on the Move: Hilary Rosenthal is the new
music director at WBRU (95.5 Providence), replacing the departing
Where are they now? Former WHJJ (920) talk host Arlene Violet
has added yet another chapter to a long and varied career that's
included time as a nun and as Rhode Island's attorney general.
She's written a musical, "The Family," about the Rhode
Island mafia, and it's being performed through July 1 at the
Lederer Theater at Trinity Rep in Providence.
And we note the passing of Don Hallett, who'd worked at WWLI
(105.1 Providence) and WKRZ (98.5 Wilkes-Barre PA) a few decades
back. Hallett had been working more recently in Columbus, Ohio
and Las Vegas; he died May 16.
*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:
The Connecticut Tigers of Norwich have a new member
of their radio team, as Justin Sheinis joins up to do media relations
and call road games, replacing Jon Versteeg in that role. Eric
Knighton remains the main play-by-play voice at home, and WICH
(1310) returns for a second season as the team's flagship.
The Vermont Lake Monsters have segued from former flagship
WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY) to its FM sister WCPV (101.3 Essex
NY), now that the former "Champ" has become "ESPN
101.3." Rob Ryan will be back in the booth, and he'll join
Rich Haskell to do live broadcasts of the 4-6 PM "Rob and
Rich Show" from Centennial Field before weeknight home games.
In Massachusetts, The Lowell Spinners continue on WCAP
(980) with Ken Cail at the mike.
In New York State, fewer and fewer teams seem to have radio
deals as the season gets underway. The Batavia Muckdogs weren't
even sure they'd be playing in Genesee County this year, but
they're back, and back on WBTA (1490) with Wayne Fuller calling
the games from the newly-named "Wayne Fuller Press Box"
at Dwyer Stadium. The Hudson Valley Renegades lost announcer
Nick Gagalis to the independent Worcester Tornadoes, but the
team will be back on the air this year at the same spot, the
"Hudson Valley Talk Radio" trimulcast of WBNR (1260
Beacon), WLNA (1420 Peekskill) and WGHQ (920 Kingston). The Brooklyn
Cyclones stay put on WKRB (90.3), with Warner Fussell calling
the games - and there's no broadcast radio this year (at least
none we can find) for the defending champions, the Tri-City
Valley Cats in Troy, nor for the Staten Island Yankees
or the Jamestown Jammers.
In Pennsylvania, it's another year of the status quo: the
State College Spikes on WWZW (95.3 Bellefonte) and the
Williamsport Crosscutters on WLYC (1050). The 'Cutters
are also heard on WLYC's FM translator in Williamsport at 104.1
and on affiliates WTZN (1310 Troy) and WTTC (1550 Towanda).
And we note that we let the start of play in the independent
leagues get past us a couple of weeks ago, so here's this year's
broadcast roster, starting with the Can-Am League: in
Massachusetts, the Pittsfield Colonials team up with the
local high school to put their games on WTBR (89.7), with students
working alongside broadcaster Chad Cooper; the Brockton Rox
remain on WXBR (1460) with Josh Rogol, and the suddenly-unfortunately-named
Worcester Tornadoes go webcast-only with new broadcaster
In New York, the brand-new Rockland Boulders air on
WRCR (1300), with Carmine Vetrano and Seth Cantor calling the
games. Across the border, Les Capitales de Quebec remain
on CHRC (800). There's no radio this year for the Newark Bears
or the New Jersey Jackals (apart from a low-power FM feed
of the team's webcast on 88.1 for in-stadium listeners).
In the Atlantic League, only a few teams have radio:
the Long Island Ducks are in the first year of their partnership
with WJVC (96.1), the Lancaster Barnstormers continue
with WLPA (1490), the York Revolution are on WOYK (1350),
and New Jersey's Somerset Patriots remain with WCTC (1450).
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: June 14, 2010 -
- It's been a week of obituaries across NERW-land, including
the passing of a radio owner who was a trailblazer twice in his
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Five Years Ago: June 12, 2006 -
- No radio owner in MASSACHUSETTS - or pretty much anywhere
else, as best we can tell - has been around longer than Maurice
Cohen. With his brothers Ike and Ted, he put WCAP (980 Lowell)
on the air June 10, 1951. Fifty-five years later, many of the
radio people whose careers took them up the long staircase at
243 Central Street (your editor included) returned to Lowell
for a combination reunion/anniversary celebration/salute to Maurice.
WCAP news director Gary Francis hosted the event at his Gary's
Ice Cream shop in downtown Lowell, and former WCAP talk host
Bill O'Neill anchored the four-hour live broadcast from the reunion,
with Mark Watson at the control board and production pieces from
longtime WCAP producer Dan Bourret.
- Maurice also received honors from several Lowell politicos,
including former mayor Rita Mercier, state senator Steve Panagiotakos
- and a wonderful front-page mockup from Lowell Sun publisher
Kendall Wallace. A lot of fuss for one small-town radio station?
You bet - but in an era when so many towns have lost their local
radio voices (think of WJDA in Quincy, WESX in Salem and WCAP's
Merrimack Valley rivals WCCM, WLLH and WSMN), a salute is in
order to owners like Maurice Cohen, who've resisted lucrative
purchase offers year after year in order to keep doing radio
the way they learned it many decades ago.
- There's a new address for the radio station at UMass/Dartmouth,
too: on Saturday morning, WSMU (91.1) signed on its new, more-powerful
signal, WUMD (89.3) on Saturday morning - and after a brief simulcast
period, the WSMU programming (a variety of student and community
shows) will move permanently to WUMD. WSMU will then change hands,
becoming the Bay State's newest outlet for the fast-growing "K-Love"
religious network based in California.
- And we close our Massachusetts report this week with the
death of Malcolm Soll, the DJ better known as "Austin of
Boston." Soll began his career on Long Island, working at
WLIR (92.7 Garden City), then moved into New York radio at WLIB
(1190) and WKHK (106.7) before moving to Boston in 1987 to work
at eclectic rocker WMRQ (103.3). When WMRQ became "Oldies
103" WODS the next year, Austin became its morning man,
remaining there for a decade. He later worked at WROR (105.7),
then spent seven years in morning drive at WSRS (96.1 Worcester).
Soll, who was just 56, died June 5 of complications from a blood
clot. He's survived by his wife, Grace, and three children.
- One format change in western PENNSYLVANIA: WUBZ (105.9 Phillipsburg)
ditched its rock format early Friday morning, replacing "The
Buzz" with country as "Joe FM" and sending "Chris
and Jim in the Morning" packing, replaced by the syndicated
Big D and Bubba show. Afternoon jock Jason "Fish" Miller
is out as well.
10 Years Ago: June 11, 2001 -
- A station sale in CONNECTICUT: Candido Carrelo gets $425,000
for Bridgeport's WDJZ (1530) from Peoples Broadcasting Network.
Peoples runs religion on WJSS (1330 Havre de Grace MD) and KTLD
(1110 Pineville LA), so a format change from ethnic on WDJZ seems
- Up in VERMONT, Steven Silberberg adds WFAD (1490 Middlebury)
to his station group, paying Kathryn Messner's Lakeside Media
$180,000 for the station. Silberberg also owns WXAL (93.7 Addison)
nearby, as well as stations in Montpelier (WNCS/WSKI), Royalton
(WRJT), Manchester, N.H. (WKBR) and Haverhill, MA (WXRV).
- South central PENNSYLVANIA is getting its first full-time
commercial Hispanic station. All Access reports "Radio Omega,"
which has been running a micropower operation in Harrisburg,
is now leasing WPDC (1600 Elizabethtown), replacing sports on
the station midway between Harrisburg and Lancaster.
- Speaking of Harrisburg, there's word that Clear Channel will
soon try again to replace the oldies on WWKL-FM (99.3) with its
CHR "Kiss" format. The last attempt, last summer, was
quashed by Citadel, which sued to enforce a non-compete that
accompanied its purchase of established CHR WNNK (104.1). That
agreement is apparently near expiration, so we're expecting to
hear "Kool" on 99.3 for the last time when we drive
through next weekend.
15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, June 17, 1996
can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!
- The local radio industry thoughtfully waited to drop the
latest bombshell until after your Radio Watcher had returned
and unpacked, and it looks like this: After more than three years
of tooth-and-nail fighting over Boston's country listeners, the
war between Evergreen's WKLB (105.7) and Greater Media's WBCS
(96.9) is about to come to an end. Just a few weeks after closing
on the purchase of WKLB from Fairbanks Communications, Evergreen
is trading the station to Greater Media in exchange for Greater
Media's AC WEBR 99.5 Washington DC (the station known for years
as WGAY-FM) and talker WWRC 980 Washington. The companies are
announcing this as an even trade of the FMs, with an extra $22.5
million being added for WWRC. Greater Media says one of the Boston
FMs will drop country after Labor Day, and odds are it will be
WKLB, since WBCS still has a standing offer to pay a million
dollars to the first listener to call in if they drop country
before the end of 1996. WKLB general manager Bennett Zier exits
after just a few weeks in town, to run Evergreen's new Washington
- Here's where it leaves both groups: Evergreen keeps its prize
Boston properties, CHR WXKS-FM ("Kiss 108"), CHurban
WJMN ("Jam'n 94-5"), and standards WXKS 1430. In Washington,
WEBR and WWRC get added to Evergreen's existing group, all-news
WTOP 1500 and AC market leader WASH 97.1. (I'll leave it to Max
Cacas and Bob Smith to speculate about whether Evergreen can
finally turn around years of decline at WWRC...) Meanwhile, WKLB
joins Greater Media's existing Boston stable, which includes
WBCS, AC behemoth WMJX ("Magic 106.7"), and WMEX 1150,
which is LMA'd to a foreign-language broadcaster. Assuming Greater
Media keeps WBCS and drops country on WKLB, they'll have to look
hard for a new niche format for 105.7. Unlike the situation a
few years ago, when major format holes were a dime a dozen (no
urban on FM, no country, no smooth jazz), the format plate is
pretty full in Beantown at the moment. And of course, both Evergreen
and Greater Media have been rumored repeatedly as targets of
takeovers by fatter broadcasting groups like CBS/Westinghouse
and Infinity. This ought to be a hot summer; stay tuned.
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2011 by Scott Fybush.