In this week’s issue… New York “Nash” adds airstaff – Maine TV stations try for sale again – Boston’s “Hot” keeps staffing up – Canada’s last daytime AM says goodbye – PA AM faces silence
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*Once you’ve launched the first country format on a full-market NEW YORK signal in almost two decades, how do you follow up your initial splash? If you’re Cumulus’ WNSH (94.7 Newark NJ), you give away enough tickets to pack the Roseland Ballroom for three nights of the “NASH Bash” with headliners including Kix Brooks, Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton and Sara Evans – and then as soon as that’s over, you announce the first pieces of your inaugural airstaff.
As seems to be typical these days, “Nash” isn’t naming a morning show right away, instead launching with a midday and afternoon show, drawing from two very different sources of talent.
For middays, WNSH has picked a jock from outside the company with plenty of country experience. Kelly Ford signs on today in the 10 AM-3 PM slot, fresh from a speedy cross-country move that plucked her from Denver, where she’d spent 20 years in morning drive at Lincoln Financial Media country powerhouse KYGO-FM (98.5). Ford left KYGO last summer in what she described as a “mutual decision.”
She’ll be followed at 3 by Jesse Addy, who moves within Cumulus but outside the format where he’s been working: Addy comes to New York from hot AC WDVD (96.3) in Detroit, where he was doing afternoons.
*While WNSH gets rolling with 21st-century country, alumni and fans of the city’s big country voice in the 1970s and ’80s will be remembering WHN (1050) at a reunion tonight and tomorrow. It’s been just over 40 years since WHN flipped to a uniquely New York-feeling cosmopolitan country sound, shooting the station to the top of the ratings. WHN’s PD of the era, Ed Salamon, went on to work with United Stations/Westwood One and then to lead the Country Radio Broadcasters trade association, and today is release day for his new book, “WHN: When New York City Went Country.”
There’s a release party for the book, featuring a panel of WHN alumni, tonight at 6 PM at Hill Country on West 26th Street; on Tuesday, WHN staffers will take over the airwaves of WFDU (89.1 Teaneck NJ) for a day of memories, running from 9 AM until 3:45 PM.
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*It’s 2013! Do you have your 2013 Tower Site Calendar yet? It can be on your wall in just a few days, if you order right now!
This is the 12th edition of our annual calendar, which features photos of broadcast towers taken by Scott Fybush on his travels.
The 12-month wall calendar boasts a full-color photo each month of a well-known broadcast transmitter site.
This year’s edition includes sites in Florida, Wisconsin, Kentucky, California, Iowa, Idaho, Las Vegas, Colorado, Boston, Cleveland, Albuquerque, upstate New York and western Massachusetts. We’ve also redesigned the calendar to make it more colorful (don’t worry; the pictures are still pristine) and make the spiral binding our standard binding — your calendar will hang even better on your wall now! And of course, we still have the convenient hole for hanging.
Order 20 or more for a 10% discount! And while you’re at the Fybush.com store, check out the new National Radio Club AM Log and the final stash of FM Atlas editions.
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From the NERW Archives
Yup, we’ve been doing this a long time now, and so we’re digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five, ten and – where available – fifteen years ago this week, or thereabouts.
Note that the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as “New England Radio Watch,” and didn’t go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997.
One Year Ago: February 27, 2012 -
*It’s taken a long, long time to get a signal on the air at 94.9 in Montauk, NEW YORK.
It was way back in September 1989 when a group called “Women Broadcasters, Inc.” first applied for a class A construction permit way out there on the eastern tip of Long Island. That incarnation of 94.9 never came to fruition; after years of delays, the permit was cancelled in 1996 and the frequency was left fallow for more than a decade before being offered again at auction.
Last year, 21 rounds of bidding for the 94.9 signal ended with a $180,000 bid from “CSI Media Research,” part of John Fuller’s growing media presence based in southeastern CONNECTICUT, which is the area Fuller will be targeting when he officially signs on the station, now WJJF, this week.
The new WJJF (its calls are Fuller’s initials, previously used on his first station in the area, now WCRI 1180 in Hope Valley, R.I.) will be a news-talk outlet calling itself “94.9 News Now” and anchored by a local morning show hosted by Lee Elci. Elci’s been working for Cumulus (and before that, Citadel) for the last six years at another talker in the region, WXLM, following that talk format and those calls as they’ve moved around the dial from 104.7 (another Montauk-licensed signal) to 102.3 to 980.
The rest of the lineup at WJJF will be syndicated: Laura Ingraham 9-noon, Dennis Miller noon-3, Mike Gallagher 3-6 and Michael Savage from 6-10 PM. But Fuller is promising plenty of local news amidst that syndicated lineup, with two reporters out covering stories on the Connecticut side of the region and at least part-time coverage of eastern Long Island as well.
WJJF joins two other signals in Fuller’s cluster – AC WBMW (106.5 Ledyard) and top-40 WWRX (107.7 Pawcatuck) – but it won’t enjoy as strong a signal as either of those facilities; its 5.8 kW/341′ class A signal from Montauk will just brush the Connecticut coast with a 60 dBu signal, and at least for now it faces additional co-channel interference from a religious translator in Montville, W235AJ. Does Fuller have plans to improve WJJF’s signal? We wouldn’t be surprised; he’s in the process of upgrading WBMW from A to B1 by swapping its community of license with WWRX.
*Clear Channel’s shift of ESPN to FM in Hartford (at what’s now WUCS 97.9 Windsor Locks) left Hartford’s longtime ESPN affiliate, WPOP (1410), looking for new programming – but this week, Clear Channel will flip WPOP to Fox Sports Radio, giving it control of both national sports networks in the Hartford market. Local WPOP host Paul Nanos will continue to be heard, but he’ll move from afternoons to mornings when the network switch happens next Monday.
*Country music fans in the southern part of the New York metro area already have their dials pointed to 106.3 to hear Press Communications’ WKMK (106.3 Eatontown NJ) – and as of Thursday, their counterparts at the northern end of the market will be able to hear country on 106.3 as well.
That’s thanks to Cumulus, which is flipping WFAF (106.3 Mount Kisco) from a simulcast of adult contemporary WFAS-FM (103.9 Bronxville) to a simulcast of “Kicks Country” WDBY (105.5 Patterson), which operates out of the Cumulus cluster in Danbury/Brookfield, Connecticut. The new “Kicks” simulcast will reach from the Danbury area south to central Westchester County; depending on the behavior of the Bronx pirates who also use the 106.3 frequency, it will sometimes be audible in southern Westchester and into the Bronx as well.
(This is not the first time 105.5 and 106.3 have been simulcast; from 1993-1996, they operated in tandem as “New York’s Superstation,” WMJV/WMJU, and as “B-105/B-106,” WVYB/WVIB.)
*Is there another Hudson Valley format change on the way? Our friends at RadioInsight.com report there’s a slew of domain registrations pointing to an upcoming flip at Clear Channel’s hot AC “Star 93.3″ (WBWZ New Paltz), which appears to be getting ready to rock as “Rock 93.3.” (Radio Insight suggests that could be followed by a shift from rhythmic top 40 to mainstream top 40 at sister station WPKF “Kiss 96.1,” and a rebranding to “Oldies 93.5″ at WZCR Hudson.)
*Shamrock Communications is pulling a manager out of its Scranton, PENNSYLVANIA headquarters and sending him west. Willobee came to the top floor of the Times-Tribune building two years ago as operations manager, and now he’s being dispatched to Reno to play the same role at a brand-new cluster Shamrock is building out there. A new cluster, you say? Yes indeed – that same auction that landed 94.9 in Montauk for John Fuller allowed Shamrock to pick up four new FM channels licensed to communities north and east of Reno. Those class C signals will all operate from a shared site 54 miles away from Reno, with on-channel boosters turning them into “real” Reno signals. This isn’t Willobee’s first time out west; he worked at KEDJ (106.3) in the Phoenix market before programming WEQX (102.7) in Vermont and then joining Shamrock in 2010.
Replacing Willobee back in Scranton is Scott Laudani, who’s held a host of programming jobs all over New England at stations such as WHJY, WHEB/WGIR-FM, WLZX and most recently New Haven’s WPLR.
Five Years Ago: February 25, 2008 -
*It’s all too common at the moment to hear about radio stations firing veteran air talents as they seek to cut costs. It’s much more unusual to hear about one of those veteran jocks getting a new job – and all but unheard of to see that jock go right back to his old shift at his old station.But then there’s nothing normal about the soap opera that’s surrounded upstate NEW YORK‘s classic rocker, WCMF (96.5 Rochester), in the year and a half since Entercom announced plans to acquire it and several sister stations from CBS Radio.
No, Brother Wease isn’t back on the air at WCMF (though we hear he’s now working behind the scenes, doing sales across town at Clear Channel) – but the station is returning ousted midday host Dave Kane to its airwaves today, not quite three months after he did his “last show” under the old CBS ownership before the station changed hands to Entercom.
Since Kane’s departure from WCMF, he had been freelancing at WHAM-TV (Channel 13), contributing bits to the station’s morning newscast. For much of that time, though, Kane had apparently been negotiating with Entercom about a return to WCMF, which has been lacking in personalities since the start of the contract dispute that pulled Wease off the air just before Christmas. (In addition to releasing Kane, Entercom also chose not to keep night jock Dino Kay or weekender/production director Marc Cronin, leaving WCMF with only the Wease-less morning crew and with afternoon jock Big Marc.
With Kane’s return to the station, he’ll have a slightly different shift for his “Midday Mambo” (10 AM-3 PM, rather than his 11:15 AM-4 PM shift that followed Wease’s extended morning show), and he’ll have a new title, adding PD stripes. (And, we hope, restoring some stability to a station that’s desperately needed some after the turmoil of the last few months.)
*On the TV side of things, Rochester Fox affiliate WUHF (Channel 31) is expanding its 10 PM newscast to a full hour, beginning March 3. That will create a 90-minute block of news produced by WROC-TV (Channel 8), which does the 10 PM Fox news and its own 11 PM newscast from the same Humboldt Street studio. March 3 is the start date for the hour-long Fox show, followed two weeks later by the launch of the market’s first 7 PM newscast on NBC affiliate WHEC (Channel 10).
Over in Buffalo, Dennis Williams has disappeared from WIVB (Channel 4)’s airwaves and its website. Will former WKBW (Channel 7) sports director John Murphy take Williams’ place in that seat over at Channel 4?
*And one more New York note: if you’re within traveling range of Broadway, and you haven’t yet caught “The Farnsworth Invention,” Aaron Sorkin’s gripping, if historically dubious, tale of the invention of television and its social consequences (we reviewed it here January 28), you’d best hurry – the play closes March 2.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, there’s an unfortunate budget cut at Entercom’s WRKO (680 Boston): the talk station axed veteran weekender Moe Lauzier, and the Herald says Lauzier learned of his dismissal from a producer 15 minutes in to what turned out to be his last show Saturday morning. Lauzier, 66, tells the paper he hopes to be working somewhere else (crosstown WTKK?) within a few weeks – and WRKO will reportedly fill Lauzier’s slot with…infomercials. Lauzier would have celebrated his 25th anniversary at WRKO this June.
*EMF Broadcasting just keeps buying stations for its “K-Love” network, and the latest acquisition is in MAINE, where EMF is buying WCYI (93.9 Lewiston) from the Last Bastion Station Trust, which is holding the signal in trust for Citadel.
Since Citadel spun off WCYI (and former sister station WCLZ, now in Saga’s hands) last June, the station has flipped from a modern-rock simulcast of WCYY (94.3 Biddeford, still with Citadel) to a simulcast of WCLZ’s AAA format to a temporary all-blues format.
No purchase price has been announced for the deal, which will give K-Love its first full-power signal in Maine. (EMF has translators in Bangor and Orono, and it’s in the process of acquiring WMEX in neighboring Farmington, New Hampshire, with a signal that reaches portions of southern Maine.)
J.J. Jeffrey’s WLOB-FM (96.3 Rumford) is on the move: the talk station has changed city of license from Rumford to Gray, much closer to Portland. WLOB-FM already relocated its transmitter not long ago, relocating from Black Mountain to Streaked Mountain near South Paris, Maine; it’s not clear whether WLOB can now hop even closer to its target listeners in Portland, or whether this is simply a matter of convenience to allow WLOB’s studio at its AM transmitter site in Portland to also serve as the legal main studio for WLOB-FM.
*From CANADA this week comes word of the grant of a new station in Cobourg, Ontario – at least on paper.
In reality, CFMZ (103.1) has been operating for thirty years with a classical format, and will continue to do so. But instead of being licensed as a rebroadcast transmitter of its parent station, CFMX-FM-1 (96.3 Toronto), CFMZ will now operate as a separate license, offering at least 24 hours a week of separate content aimed at the local audience in Cobourg, mostly in the form of separate advertising from the main Toronto feed.
(And yes, there’s an oddity here: not only is the Toronto signal, which came on many years after Cobourg, considered the “parent” station – but it appears, for reasons unknown to us, that the calls in Toronto were changed back to CFMX-FM-1 after briefly being flipped to CFMZ-FM-1 when the station was bought by Moses Znaimer. Could this have had something to do with the aborted attempt by CKFM 99.9 to change its calls to CFMX?)
Ten Years Ago: February 24, 2003 -
The nightclub fire in West Warwick, RHODE ISLAND that killed nearly 100 people last Thursday night would certainly have been a big enough story for the area’s media outlets on its own — and will continue to be so for weeks and months to come. But this tragedy turned out to have an unusual amount of resonance within the media community, beginning of course with the club’s ownership. Jeff Derderian is a familiar name and face to TV viewers in eastern New England. Your editor remembers him from his early-nineties days behind the scenes at WBZ-TV (Channel 4) in Boston (when yours truly was toiling, equally behind the scenes, across the building at WBZ radio); later, he would work for WLNE (Channel 6) in the Providence market and then for five years as a reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV (Channel 7).
The rest of the week’s news: in NEW HAMPSHIRE, WPKQ (103.7 North Conway) finally made it back on the air last Friday (Feb. 21), nearly two weeks after the fire atop Mount Washington that destroyed the power generators and the transmitter of sister station WHOM (94.9 Mount Washington). NERW hears that WPKQ is running at about 80% of licensed power while awaiting a more powerful replacement generator; its studio-transmitter link was damaged during the fire, so the signal from parent station WOKQ (97.5 Dover) is going by ISDN to the North Conway studios and then by analog microwave to the mountaintop. As for WHOM, we’re told the station’s main antenna suffered little damage; a replacement transmitter and STL could make it to the mountaintop later this week.
NEW YORK City has never been good territory for syndicated morning shows — just ask Tom Joyner. His show disappeared from Emmis’ WRKS (98.7 New York) this morning, replaced by a revived “Wakeup Club” with Jeff Foxx and Shaila, about a year after Joyner was brought in to replace the Isaac Hayes morning show.
From NEW JERSEY, a new simulcast to report: WMID-FM (102.3 Cape May) pulled the plug on its simulcast of standards WMID (1340 Atlantic City) after about a year and a half. Under new calls of WAIV, 102.3 is now simulcasting the CHR sounds of sister WAYV (95.1 Atlantic City), which never seemed to have much trouble covering Cape May County on its own, at least in NERW’s experience….
Fifteen Years Ago: February 26, 1998 -
The folks at Sinclair Broadcasting have been busy this week, as they prepare to sell off their Rochester radio group — while adding TV properties in Rochester and Buffalo. Entercom officially takes control of the former Heritage Media group in Rochester Saturday night, when Sinclair closes on its purchase of WBBF (950), WBEE-FM (92.5), WQRV (93.3 Avon), and WKLX (98.9) from Heritage, then immediately LMAs the stations to Entercom in preparation for sale. The official word is the standard “no immediate changes,” but NERW’s heard that one often enough…
More from upstate NEW YORK: The third shoe dropped this week in the Jacor format shuffle in Rochester, as WMAX-FM (106.7 Irondequoit) and WMHX (102.3 Canandaigua) put their all-Delilah stunt format to bed in favor of very soft, gold-based AC as “Sunny 106.” NERW notes that Jacor’s new gold-based soft AC in Des Moines, also “Sunny 106,” has taken the calls KYSY; could the WYSY calls (last seen on 107.9 in suburban Chicago) be in the Flower City’s future? Jerry Reo’s handling mornings on Sunny; Delilah remains on the station from 7 till midnight.
Majac already owns the largest group of Binghamton market stations — WENE (1430 Endicott), WKGB (92.5 Susquehanna), WMXW (103.3 Vestal), and WMRV (105.7 Endicott) — and now it’s adding one more, with the granting of a new CP for 107.5 in Endwell, transmitting from the WMRV site above Endicott. An earlier 107.5 CP, with the calls WRGG, was never built, and the frequency has been in use by a pirate running right-wing talk programming. Down the road in Owego, we hear WEBO (1330) is splitting from its simulcast with soft-rock WGRG (101.7) to go modern rock. Yep, modern rock on AM. We’ll be passing through the area next month to bring you a complete report on this one.
Big doings in RHODE ISLAND this week, as Portuguese gets punted for public in Providence. Boston’s WBUR-FM (90.9) is paying just under $2 million for Neto Communications’ WRCP (1290) in Providence, and (as NERW first reported earlier this month) the station will become a WBUR simulcast serving northern Rhode Island. 1290 may not be the first public radio outlet in the Ocean State, though — Rhode Island Public Radio has applied for a license to cover for its WBLQ (88.1 Westerly), and NERW can’t wait to hear from our readers in the area about that station’s on-air status.
If that’s not enough, Howard Stern is entering the Providence market next week. Stern’s newest affiliate is rhythmic CHR WWKX (106.3 Woonsocket)/WAKX (102.7 Narragansett Pier). He’s already heard in much of the market via Boston’s WBCN (104.1).
Moving north: Cumulus Broadcasting continues to gather strength in MAINE, buying Tryon-Seacoast’s Central Maine group. Cumulus already has WQCB (106.5 Brewer) and WBZN (107.3 Old Town) in the Bangor market and WTOS (105.1 Skowhegan) in the Augusta market. Now it’s adding WABK (104.3 Gardiner), WKCG (101.3 Augusta), WFAU (1280 Gardiner), WIGY (97.5 Madison), and WCME (96.7 Boothbay Harbor) to the group. Tryon-Seacoast owner Jeff Fisher keeps his New Hampshire properties in Franklin and Moultonborough.
In NEW HAMPSHIRE, there’s a new format at WGXL (92.3 Hanover); “XL92″ is moving from hot AC to full-out CHR.
Across the Connecticut River in VERMONT, Bruce James’ Vermont Broadcasting Associates is locking up the Northeast Kingdom with the $630,000 purchase of WSTJ (1340) and WNKV (105.5) in St. Johnsbury from Northeast Kingdom Broadcasting. James already owns WGMT (97.7) in Lyndon.
On the TV side, no sooner is Hicks, Muse’s Sunrise Television Corp. taking control of WPTZ (Channel 5) Plattsburgh and WNNE (Channel 31) White River Junction than it’s trading them away. Hearst Argyle gets WPTZ, WNNE, and KSBW (Channel 8) Salinas CA, and Sunrise gets WNAC (Channel 64) Rehoboth-Providence along with WDTN (Channel 2) in Dayton, Ohio.