In this week's issue: Cumulus brings "Z Country" back to Harrisburg - Paulsen returns to DVE - Salem sells Rhode Island AM - RIP, Dr. Mel - Yankees land in Maine
by SCOTT FYBUSH
*The first major format change of 2012 - and the first big sign of the Cumulus-Citadel consolidation in the region - comes to us from central PENNSYLVANIA, where Cumulus has restored the heritage format on WMHX (106.7), the Hershey-licensed signal most recently playing 90s pop as "Channel 106.7" under Citadel ownership.
That frequency's heritage in the Harrisburg market is country, beginning in the early 1980s when then-WPDC-FM in Elizabethtown changed calls to WRKZ, "Z107." With a big signal blanketing not only Harrisburg but the other big regional markets of York and Lancaster, Z was a potent force in the area for almost two decades.
The Z incarnation of 106.7 lasted until 2002, when Citadel began shuffling formats, turning 106.7 into "Cat Country" WCAT-FM. That lasted just two years, with the 2004 flip to "Coolpop" WCPP sending country back to Carlisle-licensed 102.3, now WCAT-FM "Red 102." But Cumulus didn't get the 102.3 facility as part of its Citadel purchase; it's now in trust pending a buyer, leaving Cumulus to get into the country game by returning "Z" to 106.7, which it did on Friday at 1:06 PM.
The new "Z Country 106.7," soon to bear new calls WZCY-FM, comes into a market that's more competitive for country than it was in the days of the old WRKZ.
Clear Channel's WRBT ("Bob 94.9 FM") knocked the old WRKZ out of the top country spot in town a decade ago, and continues to hold a dominant position in the market against the less-than-full-market "Cat" signal. Bringing country back to the full-market 106.7 spot on the dial promises to change that dynamic in Harrisburg - and it will have an impact as well in York, where Gettysburg's WGTY (107.7) owns the country market.
The 106.7 signal reaches into Lancaster as well, but Cumulus' country focus there is on another signal it inherited from Citadel, WIOV-FM (105.1 Ephrata).
There's no word yet on staffing for the new 106.7, and no indication of imminent changes at the rest of the reshuffled Cumulus Harrisburg cluster, which also includes rhythmic top 40 "Hot" WWKL (93.5), hot AC WNNK (104.1), modern rock WQXA-FM (105.7) and ESPN outlet WHBG (1400).
Meanwhile, one of the stations spun off into trust from the Citadel-Cumulus deal has named a morning man: rocker WTPA (92.1 Palmyra) has named Chris Tyler as its new morning man. Tyler had been over at Clear Channel until the budget cuts last summer ousted him as operations manager, PD and morning man at WRVV (97.3 the River).
*In Pittsburgh, Clear Channel rocker WDVE (102.5) is beginning to fill the hole left behind by Jimmy Krenn's removal from morning drive, and it's turning to a familiar voice to do it. Scott Paulsen was Krenn's WDVE morning co-host for more than a decade until leaving the station at the end of 1999. He returned to Clear Channel a year later to host evenings, later moving on to CBS Radio's WRKZ (93.7) and then to ESPN Radio's WEAE (1250), where he was let go in a talent purge at the end of 2010. In his new role back at WDVE, Paulsen will serve as an "executive contributor" to the morning show, providing comedy bits and making regular appearances; he'll also fill in when the show's regular hosts, including Randy Bauman, are on vacation. And Paulsen's not the only addition to the DVE morning show - local comedian Billy Crawford has also joined the team.
*Up in the Poconos, Nassau faces $17,000 in potential fines from the FCC for operational problems at WPLY (960 Mount Pocono). The fines stem from an April 2010 inspection in which agents found no public file at the station's studios and a transmitter plant that was far out of compliance - instead of running the licensed 1,000 watts from a four-tower directional array overlooking the I-380/I-80 junction, WPLY was operating with 250 watts, non-directional, and had apparently been doing so since Nassau bought the station way back in 2000.
*Clear Channel's Philadelphia cluster will be getting a new market manager: an upper-management shuffle at the company is moving John Rohm to the post of senior VP of operations for southeast regional markets. The shuffle also affects a former NERW-land programmer: senior VP of programming Jon Zellner, who moved from CBS Radio in Boston to join Clear Channel, is now the "programming partner" to Tom McConnell, SVP/operations for the northeast region.
*And back in central Pennsylvania, WIOO (1000 Carlisle) is moving into a new home after the early January fire that destroyed its longtime studio facility on York Road. After a few weeks of operating from the station's transmitter site, WIOO is setting up a temporary studio this week in a storefront on North Hanover Street, a facility that will become WIOO's new permanent studio in the next few months.
*TV People on the Move: after more than 25 years at what's now NBC O&O WCAU (Channel 10) in Philadelphia, Dennis Bianchi is changing stations. On February 1, he'll move from the general manager's chair at WCAU to the same position at Fox O&O WTXF (Channel 29), where he replaces Patrick Paolini, who's now at the network level at Fox. Up in Wilkes-Barre, Lou Abitabilo has retired after five years at the helm of Nexstar's WBRE (Channel 28) and shared-services partner WYOU (Channel 22). He's being replaced by Robert Bee, who's been the head of sales at Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV (Channel 4).
*A NEW JERSEY story we missed in the year-end chaos: Coastal Broadcasting's WFNE (106.7 North Cape May) moved down the dial to 106.3 at 2 PM on December 28, boosting its power from 3 kW to 6 kW and moving to a new transmitter site near Wildwood that somewhat better centers its signal over land. The move was made possible by the shift of what's now WTHJ from 106.3 in Ocean City to 106.5 in Bass River Township.
*Our NEW YORK news starts on the HD Radio dial in New York City, where Emmis pulled the plug on the "Hot 97 Throwbacks" classic hip-hop format that had been running on WQHT (97.1)'s HD2 channel for just over five years. It's been replaced by "myRXP," the streaming service that's keeping alive the rock format that Emmis had programmed on former sister station WRXP (101.9, now Merlin all-news WEMP).
*The Mets made radio news on several fronts last week: upstate, they're replacing the Red Sox on Galaxy's Syracuse ESPN outlets, WTLA (1200)/WSGO (1440 Oswego) and their FM translators, a somewhat inexplicable move given the paucity of Mets fans in the region. What's not yet clear is who will be calling the games when they air on WTLA/WSGO and on the team's New York flagship (for at least one more year), WFAN. Wayne Hagin has departed the Mets radio booth after four seasons, and the team is now looking for his replacement. Among the names making the rounds: SNY's Chris Carlin, WFAN's Ed Coleman and Rochester native Josh Lewin, former voice of the Texas Rangers and now a talk host on Dallas sports station KRLD-FM (105.3). Lewin also does the radio call for the San Diego Chargers, which led to the conflict with the Rangers' fall schedule that caused him to lose that baseball job. (Insert joke here about how October football duties shouldn't pose any conflict with a Mets radio job...)
Back at Galaxy in Syracuse, Ryno has moved from mornings at "K-Rock" (WKRL 100.9/WKRH 106.5 and WKLL 94.9 in Utica) to nights at sister station "TK99" (WTKW 99.5/WTKV 105.5); after a few days of double duty on both stations, there's a new morning man at K-Rock as of today. He's Dex Mitchell, most recently heard at night on WTPT (93.3) in the Greenville, S.C. market.
CNYRadio.com also reports a schedule shift at Craig Fox's WMVN (100.3): Joey Walker joins Heather Daley on the morning show, shifting Skip Clark into the 10 AM-2 PM slot. The rest of Walker's old noon-7 slot is filled by newcomer Brandon C., who's now on "MOViN'" from 2-9 PM.
And there's another bit of shuffling over at Clear Channel Syracuse, where WSYR (570/106.9) has added a third hour to Bob Lonsberry's new afternoon show, which now runs from 3-6 PM. The extended Lonsberry show knocks out the WSYR 5 PM news hour, and it will apparently be followed by an hour with weekend talker George Kilpatrick from 6-7 PM.
At Clear Channel Binghamton, WINR (680) has shifted formats from standards to oldies. It's a crowded format in the market, with Equinox's WCDW (100.5) also doing oldies and Clear Channel's own WBBI (107.5) running a more 70s-focused "classic hits" format, not to mention Dave Radigan's WEBO (1330 Owego) and its 107.9 translator, which reaches into the west side of the Binghamton market fairly well.
*Just southwest of Ithaca, WINO (89.9 Odessa) has received its license. The 250-watt/341' directional signal is the second to be licensed to Ithaca Community Broadcasting, which has been using an HD2 subchannel of public broadcaster WSQG (90.9 Ithaca) to feed programming to its flagship signal, Ithaca translator W201CD (88.1). So far, ICB's full-power WRFI (91.9 Watkins Glen) has been running only a repeating loop of automated programming, and we'd suspect WINO - named for the region's thriving wine industry - is doing the same for now.
*And we're sorry to report the death of Dick Judelson, a Buffalo pediatrician who hosted "Bebop and Beyond" on WBFO (88.7) until just this past New Year's Day. Judelson died last Sunday (Jan. 15) at 69. Meanwhile, the FCC has signed off on the sale of WBFO from SUNY to Buffalo public broadcaster WNED, bringing that deal another step closer to completion.
*Our New England report starts in RHODE ISLAND, where Salem didn't stay long in the Providence market. After just a year operating WBZS (550 Pawtucket), Salem is selling the station to Wisconsin-based Catholic broadcaster Starboard Media Foundation, which will flip the signal to its "Relevant Radio" Catholic programming.
The flip comes with a healthy profit for Salem: it paid $550,000 to buy the station (formerly WDDZ) from Disney, and it's selling the station for $750,000.
On TV, Providence NBC affiliate WJAR (Channel 10) is shuffling its anchor team, removing longtime anchor Gene Valicenti from the desk at 11 PM in favor of Dan Jaehnig, who also anchors at 5 and 7. Valicenti will remain WJAR's co-anchor at 5:30 and 6, and he'll do more dayside reporting as well.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, Clear Channel cutbacks have claimed another morning co-host. Jackie Brush is gone from the morning show at WSRS (96.1 Worcester) after a dozen years with the station. For now, Greg Byrne is handling the shift solo.
Over in Springfield, Dan Williams and Kim Zachary are indeed gone from Clear Channel's WHYN-FM (Mix 93.1); they'd been scheduled to do a farewell show on Friday, but the station pulled the plug on the show a day early.
Worcester County religious station WYCM (90.1 Charlton) has a new general manager and director of engineering, and he's a familiar face in the region. Steve Tuzeneu, who starts the new job there today, used to run WVNE (760 Leicester) and WNEB (1230 Worcester) for Blount; he returns to central Massachusetts after five years away, running stations in Kansas, engineering for the Way-FM network and engineering Salem's WAVA and WWRC in Washington.
*In CONNECTICUT, they're mourning "Dr. Mel," WTNH (Channel 8) chief meteorologist Mel Goldstein, who died Wednesday (Jan. 18) at 66 after a long battle with multiple myeloma. Goldstein came to WTNH in 1986 after a career at Western Connecticut State University, where he ran a weather network that supplied more than a dozen area stations with forecasts. As chief meteorologist, "Dr. Mel" became a WTNH fixture for a quarter-century before his illness forced him to retire last August.
Southington's WXCT (990) has changed format, dropping "Radio Cantico Nuevo" Spanish religion for Spanish hits as "Power 990," simulcasting sister station WSPR (1270) in Springfield, Mass.
*The New York Yankees have a new radio affiliate in MAINE, where Saga's WBAE (1490 Portland)/WVAE (1400 Biddeford) will carry the games this summer.
*In CANADA, Evanov is applying for a new English-language signal west of Montreal. The new 500-watt/94 m signal at 106.7 would run a soft AC/easy listening format serving the Hudson/St.-Lazare area, with at least a fringe signal into the West Island area of Montreal. Dan Sys' Canadian Radio News reports the application would conflict with CKDG (105.1 Montreal)'s proposed shift to 106.7, the old Aboriginal Voices Radio frequency.
Down the road in Cornwall, Ontario, CHOD (92.1) wants a power boost. The French-language community station would jump from 45.6 kW to 60 kW maximum ERP (19.2 kW to 34.2 kW average) and raise its antenna height from 39 to 106.7 meters from a new transmitter site.
The rest of the week's news from Canada also comes from Montreal, and specifically from CTV's CFCF-TV (Channel 12). After more than a decade as general manager and 40 years with the company (starting at ancestor Baton Broadcasting), Don Bastien retired from CFCF last week. He's being replaced by Louis Douville, general manager at Ottawa sister station CJOH (Channel 13).
The anchor desk is shifting at CFCF, too: with Todd van der Heyden's move to CTV News Channel, weekend anchor Paul Karwatsky took over as interim co-anchor alongside Mutsumi Takahashi at noon and 6 weekdays, and now he's been named to that position permanently.
And English-language TV viewers in much of Quebec have lost one of their public TV options, as Cogeco has dropped VERMONT Public TV's WETK (Channel 33) from Burlington, leaving only Plattsburgh-based WCFE ("Mountain Lakes Public TV") as a PBS option on the system. VPT is launching a social media campaign to push Cogeco to reconsider the decision, which could cost the network significant Canadian member and underwriter support. VPT is still seen in Quebec on Videotron's systems, and over the air in areas close to the border.
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.
One Year Ago: January 24, 2011 -
In an era where most women in radio were relegated to clerical work or hosting homemaker shows, Ruth Meyer blazed a trail through the industry in NEW YORKthat few radio managers have equaled.Meyer came to New York from her hometown of Kansas City, where she started out writing copy for KCKN (1340), then fell into the orbit of top-40 pioneer Todd Storz, who hired her away to work at WHB (710). In 1958, she took on what was supposed to have been a temporary programming job at New York's WMGM (1050), only to quit over philosophical differences - as she told author Bob Shannon in his recent book "Turn it Up!," she believed that she understood the new top-40 format much better than WMGM's management did.
Fortunately, another Storz protege was working across town at WMCA (570), and Meyer soon ended up there as well. Her original title was "production director" - as a woman, she wasn't considered qualified to be a program director - but Ruth Meyer was programming WMCA, and doing it superbly.
The WMCA "Good Guys" were Meyer's creation, and so was the smiley-face sweatshirt that became a New York icon for a few years in the early 1960s. For a decade, until her departure in 1968, Meyer kept WMCA fully competitive with its much more powerful competitor, WABC (770), and even today it's not hard to find listeners who'll gladly argue that B. Mitchel Reed and Gary Stevens and the rest of the WMCA "Good Guys" were making better radio than WABC.
Meyer consulted for European stations for a few years after leaving WMCA, then returned to New York radio in 1973 to program WHN (1050); later in the decade, she also programmed WNEW (1130) and returned to WMCA, by then doing talk. Meyer also worked for NBC, helping to develop the youth-oriented "Source" network, and for ABC Radio before retiring to Kansas City, where she died Saturday morning.
While Ruth Meyer was blazing a trail in New York radio, Liz Dribben was beginning her broadcast career at the University of Buffalo's WBFO (88.7) - but she soon moved to television, becoming one of the best-known faces of WKBW-TV (Channel 7) in the 1960s as host of "Dialing for Dollars" and "In Conversation."
Dribben moved to New York in 1969, soon joining CBS News, where she worked from 1972 until 1993 as a producer and newswriter. In later years, she was back on the air at WNYC and WEVD; she also taught broadcast journalism at Columbia University. In 2001, she was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Dribben died last Thursday in New York after a brief illness; she was 73.
*You'd think "FM Station Goes Stereo!" would be a headline from 1968 or so - but not in Sag Harbor, where WLNG-FM (92.1) has been a prominent monophonic holdout for decades now, largely at the behest of longtime station manager/air personality Paul Sidney, who believed mono-only operation extended the reach of the class A FM signal.
But Paul's been gone for a few years now, and when WLNG installed a new transmitter and antenna last year, speculation grew that the legendary little FM signal on the East End would finally flip the stereo pilot "on" for good - and so it did last week, with RDS, no less.
*It's been almost nine years since CANADA's first national all-sports radio network folded - but now the same signal that was the Toronto flagship of the ill-fated "Team Sports Radio" is poised to once again talk sports.It was a high-profile moment a decade ago when CHUM (1050) ditched its longtime oldies format to launch "The Team." This time around, 1050 is all but forgotten, having been largely wasted with a simulcast of CTV's CP24 TV news channel since the oldies were once again abandoned in 2009.
But sometime in April, that will change once more, when CHUM becomes the flagship of the new TSN Radio Network. TSN, of course, is the cable sports channel owned 80% by CTV and 20% by ESPN, which licenses its "SportsCenter" (er, "SportsCentre") brand and supplies other programming to the TV network - and which is expected to supply at least some ESPN Radio content to TSN Radio as well.
*In RHODE ISLAND, the FCC has officially cancelled the license of WRJI (91.5 East Greenwich). The Spanish-language religious station had been off the air for more than a year, and had made the mistake of admitting as much to the Commission, which is required by law to delete the license of any station that remains continuously silent for a year. WRJI had applied to move from East Greenwich to Providence, but the FCC dismissed that application as well, noting that it would remove the sole local service to East Greenwich and that it failed to protect other nearby applications on 91.5 (not to mention Providence's own WDOM on 91.3.)But the saga of WRJI (which was licensed to share time with WCVY at Coventry High School) may not be over that fast - our ears in the Ocean State report that the station's programming was still being heard on Sunday.
Five Years Ago: January 22, 2007 -
*Nearly three years after his Vox group sold most of its stations in NEW HAMPSHIRE and VERMONT to Nassau Broadcasting, Jeff Shapiro is coming back to the Upper Valley as owner of the "other" cluster in the market.Shapiro's Great Eastern Radio LLC is buying Clear Channel's signals, including news-talk WTSL (1400 Hanover NH) and WTSM (93.5 Springfield VT), AC WGXL (92.3 Lebanon NH), rock WMXR (93.9 Woodstock VT)/WVRR (101.7 Newport NH) and country WXXK (100.5 Lebanon NH), for an as-yet-undisclosed price.
"We are thrilled to be returning to the broadcasting community in the Upper Valley," says Shapiro, who owned WHDQ in Claremont for almost 20 years before selling to Nassau in 2004.
The Upper Valley stations will join Concord-market WTPL (107.7 Hillsboro) under the Great Eastern umbrella.
*In PENNSYLVANIA, Marconi Broadcasting's WHAT (1340 Philadelphia) relaunched late last week with a rather daring new format. In place of the urban talk that former owner Inner City Broadcasting offered, Marconi CEO Tom Kelly is turning the little AM signal (for which he paid $5 million) into "Skin Radio," which will mix modern rock and hip-hop. Alvin Clay is the PD of the new station, which will feature what Kelly describes as "young non-radio folks" on the air.We're big fans, here at NERW, of any sign of fresh thinking on the air, especially on the AM dial, but if you believe, as we do, that "Skin Radio" will end up drawing most of whatever audience it gets from its webcast, you've got to wonder what Kelly was thinking by spending as much as he did on the broadcast signal. And since Kelly's an experienced radio player (he's keeping his music-research business going even as he launches "Skin Radio"), we're particularly eager to find out. Stay tuned...
*Two NEW YORK public broadcasting executives are preparing to move on from their leadership posts. At WNET/WLIW in New York City, Bill Baker will step down in early 2008 after 20 years as president, with former NBC News president Neal Shapiro replacing him. (Shapiro's already on board at Educational Broadcasting Corporation, WNET's parent, for a yearlong transition process.)Up the Hudson, Deborah Onslow's retiring as president of WMHT Educational Telecommunications in the Albany/Schenectady market. Onslow joined the stations in 2001 from WGBY in Springfield (and from WXXI in Rochester before that); no word yet on a replacement at WMHT.
A format change in the Finger Lakes: The Radio Group has pulled WSFW (1110 Seneca Falls) out of the "Finger Lakes News-Talk Network" simulcast with WGVA (1240 Geneva), WCGR (1550 Canandaigua) and WAUB (1590 Auburn). The daytime-only signal on 1110 is now the "Finger Lakes Visitors Channel," with a repeating loop of travel information and weather forecasts.
There's a new talk show starting today on WYSL (1040 Avon). Rochester attorney and political activist Bill Nojay, who was a regular substitute for WHAM's Bob Lonsberry, has landed a regular 2-3 PM weekday slot on WYSL, where he'll be talking about Rochester's economic future.
*In CANADA, the CBC is about to make another round of programming changes on its radio services, especially at Radio Two, where an aging audience is prompting concerns about the network's future. So beginning in March, and continuing over the next year, the mostly classical programming on Radio Two will be joined by an increasing amount of jazz and pop, with a strongly Canadian flavo(u)r to it. Radio One, meanwhile, will lose most of its music programming, and its afternoon "Freestyle" pop culture show will be replaced by a new Toronto-based arts show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi.
And we remember Canada's pioneering TV meteorologist, Percy Saltzman, who died last Monday (Jan. 15) at 91. Saltzman was working for the federal weather service in 1947 when he began providing forecasts for CBC radio, and when CBC TV went on the air five years later, Saltzman was the very first live air talent to be seen on the new service. Saltzman spent 20 years with the CBC before joining CTV as part of the inaugural staff for the new "Canada AM" morning show. In 1974, he moved to the new CITY-TV, and later worked for Global before retiring in 1982.
Ten Years Ago: January 23, 2002 -
The sound of sports talk is coming to southern CONNECTICUT this week, as yet another Clear Channel station ditches the standards format in favor of satellite-delivered talk. This time around, it's WAVZ (1300) in New Haven making the change. As soon as tomorrow (Jan. 24), the 1000-watt station will become "The Zone, Fox Sports Radio 1300," airing the 24-hour Fox Sports feed distributed by Clear Channel's Premiere Radio. WAVZ was already carrying local sports programming that included Ravens AHL hockey; that will continue, but the station doesn't expect to add much more in the way of local talk. The standards continue for New Haven listeners on WQUN (1220 Hamden).
Elsewhere in the Nutmeg State, we noted the arrival of some "refugee" call letters from South Florida, buried amidst the FCC's call changes this week. Those would be "WTMI," recently sent packing after decades in Miami, where they were associated with the classical music format on 93.1 FM. Cox Radio turned off the classics in Miami on New Year's Eve, flipping the station to dance as WPYM, "Party 93.1," which opened the door for the folks at Marlin Broadcasting to apply for the WTMI calls for WCCC (1290) in West Hartford. There's a family connection there: Marlin sold WTMI to Cox a few years back, and WTMI's classical programming, from Marlin's Beethoven network, is still heard on 1290, at least after Howard Stern's show is over each morning.
Clear Channel picked up another FM in MAINE this week, converting its LMA of Gopher Hill Broadcasting's WQSS (102.5 Camden) into full-fledged ownership for $1.72 million.
Down in Portland, Chuck Igo landed on his feet as the new afternoon-drive jock on oldies WYNZ (100.9 Westbrook). Igo, who's always lived in the Portland area during his long career in Boston radio (most recently in overnights on WROR), will keep making the haul down I-95 to do weekend work at the Greater Media cluster in the Hub.
We'll begin our NEW YORK report just across the border from Canada, at WWJS (90.1 Watertown), where a dispute that involves the station's operators, the church that supported it and the city of Watertown has taken the religious station silent for now. WWJS is licensed to the Liberty Christian Center, which is hoping to receive tax-exempt status from Watertown. It had been operated by Charles and Karleen Savidge, who are the in-laws of Liberty pastor Steven Bryant, until Bryant locked them out of the 210 Court Street building shared by the church and the radio station. Bryant told Watertown media outlets that he holds the WWJS license; the Savidges say that's impossible, because Bryant is a Canadian citizen. For now, WWJS's equipment remains locked inside the Court Street building and the station remains off the air; we'll keep you posted as this situation heads to court.
Over here in Western New York, the voices are about to change on Rochester oldies outlet WBBF (950 Rochester/93.3 Fairport), as PD Bobby Hatfield gets ready to depart the Entercom station. (Under his real name of Joe Reilly, he's the new owner of WHLM 930 down in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, which will inaugurate regular programming next month.) Dave Symonds, who's already operations manager for the Entercom cluster, will assume PD duties for WBBF, while Mike Vickers moves from middays to Hatfield's old afternoon drive slot. Dave Radigan will take over midday and assistant PD duties, we're told.
Fifteen Years Ago: January 18, 1997 -
The talk radio wars in Hartford have claimed a victim: WPOP (1410) abruptly cancelled all its programming last week, and after a weekend of dance/CHR music, re-emerged Monday (1/13) as "Sports Radio 1410," minus its entire programming staff. The format change comes just on the heels of WPOP's sale to SFX Broadcasting from Multi-Market Communications, which had run the station as a mix of local and satellite talk. Among the shows that originated at WPOP was the syndicated "Judy Jarvis Show," which has shifted production to the Robinson Media Arts Center next to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting in Farmington. Jarvis no longer has a Hartford-area outlet. Jarvis needed to move no matter what, since the WPOP studios in Newington are being sold as part of SFX's consolidation of its many Hartford stations.
Yo-ho! Yo-ho! More news from the pirate front: We begin this week with our friends down at "Praise 105.3" in Connecticut, that unlicensed gospel-music station that NERW first noticed about a month ago. It seems "Praise" has been noticed by a few others as well, most notably the folks down at licensed WKND (1480) in Windsor CT, who say they're losing something like $10,000 a month to "Praise." Someone's called the FCC (yes, they really do still exist!), and "Praise 105.3"'s "Sponsor Appreciation Day" on Thursday was marred by the sudden discovery by some of those sponsors that the station they were advertising on is illegal. Marichal Monts, the pastor of the Citadel of Love in Hartford, and a gospel show host on Wesleyan University's WESU (88.1) Middletown, says he's pulling his support from "Praise 105.3." Monts told the Hartford Courant that he knew the station was unlicensed, but didn't realize it was illegal -- and he's "not trying to break the law." The operator of "Praise 105.3," one Mark Blake, refused to answer questions from the Courant. Published reports put the station at 701 Cottage Grove Road in Bloomfield CT, which suggests that the station is probably running over a hundred watts of power, given how good its signal is in Hartford's north, west, and east suburbs.
Boston University's public radio station, WBUR (90.9) Boston, is taking yet another step towards 24 hour news and talk. 'BUR is pulling the plug on Tony Cennamo's overnight jazz block. Cennamo is an opinionated host whose views on what does (and doesn't) make good jazz have polarized many in the Boston jazz community. He's also been with 'BUR for what seems like forever. No word on whether anyone else in town will pick up Cennamo's show.
And finally this week, a major programming note from NERW Central: After seven years in Boston, I'm picking up the radio and heading west next month. Starting February 3, I'll be the assignment editor of R News, Time Warner's 24-hour cable news channel in Rochester NY. As most of you know, I've spent the past five years as a newswriter and editor at Boston's WBZ, and while it's been an exciting, rewarding place to work, I'm ready for a new challenge -- even if it is TV! (2007 update: But I came back to radio in the end...) Don't panic, though -- NERW will live on. The nice thing about the Internet is that I can use it just as easily from Rochester NY as from Waltham MA. I'll still be getting regular Boston updates from NERW's many friends up here, including Boston Radio Archives co-creator Garrett Wollman and contributing editors Peter George, Donna Halper, and so many others. The scope of this column will change a bit, though -- as we change the name to "North East Radio Watch." You can still call us "NERW" for short, and we'll still cover the goings-on on and off the air in the six New England states. Starting this spring, though, you'll also read about what's happening in upstate New York here in NERW, as I begin re-acquainting myself with the radio dial I grew up with (it was emptier then!)