In this week"s issue: WBZ"s Dave Maynard dies - Nassau to liquidate - New calls in Connecticut - WLAN becomes WHP simulcast - Phillies renew radio deal with CBS
by SCOTT FYBUSH
*Of all the big names who graced the airwaves at WBZ (1030 Boston) over the decades, few wore as many hats as gracefully as Dave Maynard, who died Friday in Florida at age 82.
After beginning his career at two smaller stations, Medford"s WHIL (1430, later WXKS and now WKOX) in 1952 and then Boston"s WORL (950), Maynard came to WBZ in 1958 as part of the legendary "Live Five," the station"s crew of top-40 DJs. But while most of those jocks moved on in the sixties, Maynard became a WBZ fixture, shifting from evenings to late mornings, then to afternoons in 1976.
By then, Maynard had become much more than just a radio host, taking over the reins of WBZ-TV"s "Community Auditions," introducing the "Phantom Gourmet" to WBZ radio"s weekend lineup, making appearances on WBZ-TV"s "Evening Magazine" and, for a few years, serving as the one and only voicetracked host on the otherwise-neglected WBZ-FM (106.7). It was rather surprising, then, when new management at the station moved Maynard to the overnight shift in 1979 - but instead of working out the remainder of his contract and moving on, the versatile host flourished as a late-night talker, putting him in the right place at the right time a year later when WBZ"s venerable morning host Carl deSuze retired after nearly four decades on the job.
"Maynard in the Morning" quickly became a WBZ tradition in its own right, spawning a never-ending series of community fundraisers and some of the most memorable TV commercials in radio history. For the station that had long branded itself as "The Spirit of New England," Maynard embodied that spirit, leading the show to a decade at the top of the ratings.
WBZ"s shift toward all-news moved Maynard back to late mornings in 1990, and a year later he retired from full-time work after more than three decades with the station. For several years afterward, Maynard and longtime producer Ruth Clenott were still occasional presences at WBZ, where your editor was fortunate enough to be a producer and writer on a series of features that Maynard hosted during the station"s all-news blocks. In 2009, Maynard was inducted into both the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the WBZ Hall of Fame, where he became the third member alongside his longtime colleagues Gary LaPierre and Gil Santos. (In 2011, they were joined posthumously by Carl deSuze.)
Maynard was diagnosed a decade ago with Parkinson"s disease, and he"d been in declining health before succumbing at his home in Citrus Hills, Florida, survived by his wife Pat, six children, two stepchildren and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
*Maynard wasn"t the only morning man MASSACHUSETTS lost last week. Jim Brokaw died February 5 at age 85, and if he wasn"t familiar under his legal name, he was well known for many years under his airname of Jim Dixon at stations such as WCOP (1150) and WNAC (680), where he co-hosted morning drive with Roy Leonard and Gus Saunders until the station"s entire airstaff was blown out with the flip to WRKO in 1967.
*A more contemporary Boston personality is moving on to a new gig. Mike McGowan had been doing weekends and fill-ins at CBS Radio"s WODS (103.3)/WBMX (104.1) and had worked before that at the old WQSX (Star 93.7), but now he"s heading back to CONNECTICUT to do afternoons at Cumulus" WEBE (107.9 Westport), where he"ll also be imaging director. McGowan replaces Robby Bridges, who"d also been assistant PD at WEBE; he"s reportedly heading to a new job elsewhere in the Cumulus orbit.
There"s a new callsign on the Nutmeg State"s newest station: WPKX (97.9 Windsor Locks-Hartford) is now WUCS, with the "UC" apparently standing for the University of Connecticut and the "S" for sports - and that"s fueling speculation that Clear Channel"s new "97.9 ESPN" will be gunning for the UConn sports rights long held by CBS Radio"s WTIC.
The WPKX calls are being parked in NEW HAMPSHIRE, on the former WGIN (930 Rochester), but they"re expected to return to their old home in western Massachusetts, where WRNX (100.9 Amherst) has picked up the "Kix" country format that went with the WPKX calls in the Springfield market.
(And if anyone out there actually recorded a "WPKX Windsor Locks" ID during that brief incarnation of 97.9, we"d love to have one for the collection at our sister site, TopHour.com...)
*The folks at Arcadia Publishing are continuing their aggressive list of photo-heavy history books about radio and television, and the latest installment is all about Hartford radio. The author of the new "Hartford Radio," which went on sale last week, is none other than John Ramsey, the veteran Nutmeg State engineer (WCCC, WWUH) who"s also been chronicling the market"s radio heritage at HartfordRadioHistory.com.
*There"s a new morning show coming to VERMONT"s WEZF (92.9 Burlington), where Tim Kavanagh will join Tara Madison a week from today. Kavanagh"s been doing Saturday nights on "Star 92.9" for the last few years, and he"s a sales executive at Burlington"s WCAX-TV (Channel 3).
*NEW JERSEY"s Nassau Broadcasting Partners held out as long as its management could, but the pressure of nearly $300 million of debt has finally forced the company"s hand: it"s asked a bankruptcy court to allow it to shift from Chapter 11 reorganization to an all-out liquidation of its stations in New England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
If Nassau"s plan is approved by U.S. bankruptcy judge Kevin Gross, bidders will be able to submit offers for all of Nassau"s 49 stations (give or take several silent AMs) or for individual clusters, and there"s already plenty of speculation about where the various pieces of the company might end up. It"s likely that Nassau CEO Lou Mercatanti, who"s held on at the helm of the company through years of financial problems, will seek to retain at least the historic core group of Nassau stations under a new banner, but it"s those stations - especially WPST (94.5 Trenton) and the nearby Lehigh Valley cluster - that are also most likely to draw the big bids that will help pay back Nassau"s financiers, a group that"s led by Goldman Sachs. Those creditors are also likely to play a role in the bidding, using the debt they hold to make bids for some or all of Nassau"s assets.
Radio Business Report reports bids for the stations will be due May 1, if the court approves Nassau"s plan, with an auction being conducted May 8 and the proposed sales being presented to the court May 11.
*On the Jersey shore, WBNJ (91.9 Barnegat) wants a power increase. Less than a year after making its debut, the noncommercial standards station is applying to bump up from 4.5 kW to 15 kW, still vertical-only and directional and pushing most of that increased power eastward toward the shore and the Atlantic Ocean.
WBNJ"s upgrade became possible when another co-channel signal, WBGD (91.9 Brick), surrendered its license last year.
*The news early last week that Dom Theodore was departing CBS Radio, where he was the national top-40 program chief and PD of NEW YORK"s WXRK (92.3 Now FM), sparked a new round of message-board rumors about format changes. But so far, any talk of a "WFAN-FM" on 92.3 is just talk, and the FM signal"s still pumping out the hits.
There"s one change that we do know will be coming to WFAN this spring: Josh Lewin has been picked as the successor to Wayne Hagin alongside Howie Rose in the Mets" play-by-play booth. Lewin is best known for his play-by-play work on Texas Rangers TV broadcasts from 2002-2010, but he"s also done baseball play-by-play for Fox network broadcasts and he"s the voice of the San Diego Chargers on the radio. And Lewin has strong New York roots: he grew up here in Rochester, where Lewin cut his teeth as broadcaster for the Rochester Red Wings back in the 1980s and 1990s (and where he went to high school with your editor!)
More Radio People on the Move in New York City: at WOR (710), Dave Ramsey"s financial advice show will shift from evenings to 2-4 PM weekdays beginning February 27, replacing the Lou Dobbs radio show when it comes to a close. No replacement for evenings has been announced so far, but there"s plenty of speculation about the fallout from Cumulus" plans to launch a national Mike Huckabee talk show in the same midday timeslot as Premiere"s Rush Limbaugh, now heard on Cumulus" WABC (770) in New York. Over at Univision Radio, Alix Quintero has returned as PD of WXNY (96.3). Until 2006, Quintero programmed WXNY"s predecessor station, WCAA (105.9).
Radio People on the Move upstate: Steven Mills moves east from Wichita to become operations manager for the Olean-based Colonial Radio Group, where he"ll be PD of WXMT (106.3 Smethport PA) and the "Bob" country format heard on several of Colonial"s HD subchannels and translators. In Albany, Jon Reilly will be the new PD at "Cat Country" WZMR (104.9 Altamont) and operations manager of Pamal"s sister stations up the road in Glens Falls. Reilly, a native of western Massachusetts, moves north from WIWF in Charleston, S.C., where his last day will be Friday.
*There"s a new simulcast in central PENNSYLVANIA, where Clear Channel quietly pulled the plug on oldies at WLAN (1390 Lancaster) last week, replacing it with news-talk from nearby WHP (580 Harrisburg). (How quietly? The WLAN Facebook page, which was never even updated with the oldies logo, is still cranking out automated news updates related to the oldies format.)
WHP"s signal covers most of WLAN"s territory just fine, especially after WLAN"s signal was neutered last year by the loss of the station"s directional transmitter site, but the addition of the 1390 signal will allow for local ads for Lancaster and vicinity to be split off from WHP"s Harrisburg-centric spotload.
For local Lancaster listeners, it"s the latest chapter in the branch-office-ization of what was once a community institution; on the FM side, the replacement of WLAN-FM (96.9)"s local morning show with the syndicated Elvis Duran is drawing , and not in a positive way, either.
*The worst-kept secret in Philadelphia radio became official last week: the Phillies are sticking with CBS Radio in a new multi-year deal that adds an FM simulcast (on WIP-FM 94.1) to the team"s longstanding flagship, WPHT (1210). The Phillies won"t be heard on WIP"s AM outlet, at 610 on the dial, which will continue to carry local sports talk and WIP"s other teams, including the Flyers and 76ers, when there"s a conflict.
In Pittsburgh, "DJ Boogie" is back on the airwaves at a familiar address. He spent 13 years at the old WAMO-FM (1059 Pittsburgh/106.7 Beaver Falls) and was the last PD there before Sheridan Broadcasting shut the station down in 2009. Now he"s resuming his association with the "WAMO" calls as the new PD of the station"s latest incarnation, Tim Martz"s WAMO (660 Wilkinsburg)/W261AX (100.1).
TV news in the news: Nexstar is adding more local newscasts at its Wilkes-Barre/Scranton duopoly, WBRE-TV (Channel 28)/WYOU-TV (Channel 22), which will shift to high-definition production beginning April 2. For CBS affiliate WYOU-TV, the move will also mean the return of local news after a three-year absence. In addition to simulcasting WBRE"s "Eyewitness News" from 5-7 AM, 6-6:30 PM and 11-11:35 PM, WYOU will carry two "Eyewitness News" broadcasts at noon and 7 PM produced specifically for Channel 22.
*A big batch of job cuts in CANADA: Bell Media sent 16 staffers packing at its Ottawa radio/TV cluster on Thursday, including CFRA (580) afternoon host Michael Harris and Gord McDougall, CFGO (1200) morning co-host Jim Jerome, midday co-host Phil Melanson and commentator Mike Sutherland, CKKL (93.9 Bob FM) weekender Tina Sapp and CJMJ (Majic 100.3) announcer Steve Boyton. And it"s not just Bell cutting in the nation"s capital: Stephanie "Viv" Vivier is out as morning co-host at Astral"s CJOT (Boom 99.7).
Down the road in Brockville, the CBC has won another extension to get Radio One outlet CBOB (91.9) built; it now has until November 10 to build the facility.
A year after exiting Evanov"s CKHZ (103.5) in Halifax, Jeff Cogswell is back on morning radio there at Evanov sister station CKHY (105), where he replaces Cub Carson on "Live 105"s Morning Mob" with co-host Floyd. (Carson, in that great circle of all things radio, is now the morning man at Bob FM in Ottawa.)
A few bits of news from Quebec, thanks to Dan Sys" Canadian Radio News: in Montreal, CKDG (105.1 Mike FM) has dropped its application to move to the 106.7 frequency vacated by Aboriginal Voices Radio"s demise. With CKDG staying put at 105.1, the 106.7 frequency is now open for the long-pending application from Evanov for a new English-language signal serving the Hudson-St. Lazare area just west of Montreal. (Steve Faguy explored that application in some depth in a Montreal Gazette article last week.) Meanwhile in Montmagny, near Quebec City, Dan says he"s just now getting word - as are we - that Groupe Radio Lazard launched CIQI (90.3) a few months back as a hot AC station. It fills a local void left behind when CFEL (102.1) decamped for Quebec City a few years ago.
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 14, 2011 -
*NEW JERSEY state officials moved closer last week to a spinoff of their NJN radio and television assets. The statewide public radio network published a set of Requests for Proposals(RFPs) last week, a move mandated by the "Transfer Act" passed by state lawmakers in December.
The act doesn"t provide for the sale of the NJN TV licenses, so there"s an RFP seeking a broadcaster to take over operation of the TV network while leaving the licenses in the hands of the state. But for NJN"s nine radio licenses and one unbuilt radio construction permit, there are two RFPs being circulated: one seeking an operator who"d continue to run NJN Radio while the state keeps the licenses, and another seeking interested buyers to acquire the radio licenses outright.
The state hired the consulting firm BIA/Kelsey to appraise the NJN facilities and to estimate values for the radio stations, ranging from $142,000 for WNJS (88.1 Berlin) to $1,275,000 for WNJT (88.1 Trenton). In all, BIA"s Mark Fratrik pegs the total market value of the network"s stations at just over $4.2 million.
Even the version of the RFP looking for an outright sale of the radio network seeks to do more than just cash out on the stations" stick values: it calls for a buyer (or a set of buyers) who"s committed to maintaining "issue-responsive programming, news and public affairs programming and New Jersey-centric programming."
The state has set March 11 as the deadline for responses to the RFPs; it has hired Public Radio Capital to help manage any potential sale of the radio licenses.
*It"s all about translators in western PENNSYLVANIA, at least for Pittsburgh-market owner Bob Stevens: he"s already running an AM-on-FM translator for his WANB (1210 Waynesburg), and now he"s putting WKHB (620 Irwin) and WKFB (770 Jeannette) on FM.
WKHB"s new FM relay is W231BM (94.1 Clairton), which had been part of EMF"s network of K-Love relays into Pittsburgh; it operates with 84 watts from the WYEP (91.3) tower near Squirrel Hill, covering a decent chunk of central Pittsburgh and giving WKHB some nighttime reach into the city. And another EMF translator, W248AR (97.5 Monroeville), is being relocated to the WKFB/WKHB tower, where it will become a 118-watt, 24-hour signal for daytimer WKFB.
*Down the road in Canonsburg, WWCS (540) is back on the air after losing its longtime leased-time occupant, Radio Disney. Disney kept the station on the air through the end of January with a repeating loop directing listeners up the dial to its new home, WDDZ (1250), and we"re told it took Birach Broadcasting a little while to set up its own program feed to the 540 transmitter after losing the Disney-provided signal. What"s making the needles move now is Spanish-language programming fed from another Birach property, WSDS (1480) in Ypsilanti, Michigan, but that"s believed to be a temporary move until a new leased-time tenant can be found for 540.
*In upstate NEW YORK, Rochester"s Bob Lonsberry has been one busy guy lately. The WHAM (1180) talk host put in extra hours on the air last Wednesday night and Thursday morning when the station blew out syndicated programming to talk about the sudden resignation of congressman Chris Lee - and Lonsberry is back on the air in Utah, too, where seven months after losing his gig at Clear Channel"s KNRS, KLO (1430 Ogden) has picked Lonsberry up for a 5-7 AM (MT) show that comes from the WHAM studios in Rochester.
Utica"s Bill Keeler is back on the air, too, in streaming form: the former WXUR (92.7 Herkimer) morning man bought a local ad during the Super Bowl to announce the launch of "MOVARadio.com," featuring four channels of streaming content. One channel is Keeler"s morning show, another is "The Hard Drive," a rock format programmed by "Hard Rock Harry" Enea, another former WXUR jock, a third carries news content from Keeler"s UticaDailyNews.com, and a fourth is "best-of" material from Keeler"s archives.
Five Years Ago: February 12, 2007 -
*If you ever had any doubt that radio"s a fickle business - and that RHODE ISLAND is a particularly insular place - just ask Dave Barber. A year ago, the talk host left the Flint, Michigan market after more than a quarter of a century there, bound for Providence to take over Steve Kass" former 9-11:45 AM shift on WPRO (630).
As of Wednesday, Barber"s out of that shift, and out of WPRO, as the station brings John DePetro back to Providence to take over mid-mornings. DePetro made his name in Rhode Island across town at WHJJ (920 Providence), before leaving in 2004 to do mid-mornings at Boston"s WRKO. That gig, of course, ended disastrously last fall when the station fired DePetro after a series of anti-gay slurs (not to mention weak ratings), and now DePetro"s returning to a less hostile market, where he"ll presumably be a little more careful with his choice of language.
What now for Barber? The Flint Journal, reporting that WPRO had replaced Barber with a "Jerry DePetro," says it"s not clear whether the Rhode Island native will now return to Michigan radio. (He was last heard at Flint"s WWCK 1570 before taking the job at WPRO.)
*Over at DePetro"s former station in MASSACHUSETTS, there"s change in the air, too. Scott Allen Miller did his last morning show at WRKO (680 Boston) on Friday, and he"s now looking for a new gig, even soliciting career advice from his audience. Replacing him as of this morning, of course, is former state House speaker Tom Finneran. With only some fill-in talk gigs in his past, does the radio novice have what it takes to hold an audience day in and day out in one of the toughest talk markets in the country? We"ll be listening...
*There"s yet another new station coming on the air in CANADA"s largest market, as Evanov begins testing its new 50-watt signal on 103.9. The new station will be called "Proud FM," and while it"s boasting of being North America"s first gay radio station, that"s not quite true - there was a pair of AMs in Seattle a few years back, among others. Mary Jo Eustace and Ken Kostick will be the new station"s morning hosts, with former CKFM producer "Bingo Bob" on board as their producer.
Ten Years Ago: February 11, 2002 -
Up in CANADA, listeners in Montreal will have to rearrange their morning radio habits next week. As part of the restructuring of its Montreal properties, Standard Radio flipped CHOM (97.7) from modern rock to classic rock over the weekend. Next Monday, Terry Dimonte, who was CHOM"s morning host from 1984 until 1993, will return to the FM side from sister station CJAD (800), bringing with him co-host Ted Bird and his production staff. Ric Peterson, who"s been hosting CJAD"s afternoon drive, will take the morning shift on the AM side, with former CHOM morning host Andrew Carter moving to Peterson"s old afternoon gig on CJAD. (Carter"s co-host, Pete Marier, is off to Winnipeg and CFWM...)
But wait, there"s more: CHOM is also moving out of its longtime Westmount home at 1310 Greene Street this coming weekend, joining CJAD and CJFM (95.9) at 1411 Fort Street. (Former CHOM sister station CKGM will stay put at Greene Street, we believe.)
From MASSACHUSETTS comes word that public broadcasting behemoth WGBH will soon be in a new home. We"ve reported several times in the last few years that Harvard, which owns some of the buildings in WGBH"s Western Avenue complex, has been urging the station to move so its property can be used for a Harvard Business School expansion; now it appears that plans are being firmed up to move the station a few blocks west to the Brighton Landing complex that"s already home to Entercom"s Boston stations. The plan calls for WGBH"s offices to occupy much of an existing building on the property, which is also home to the headquarters of New Balance. The studios would go into a new building nearby on Market Street, next to the parking garage across Guest Street.
How big would this facility be? The office side would take up six of the seven floors in the 180,000-square foot building, while the studio building would fill another 130,000 square feet. When this move is completed, tentatively by 2005, it would create an impressive media axis along Market Street; in addition to WGBH and Entercom, Infinity"s radio operations are consolidating in the former WSBK studios on Birmingham Parkway, just across the street, while Infinity"s WBZ TV/radio, WSBK and WBMX are less than a mile away on Soldiers Field Road, next door to Pax"s WBPX.
There"s a format change, of sorts, in southeastern CONNECTICUT, as WAXK (102.3 Stonington) drops the hard edge from its rock format to become classic hits "XL102.3." We"re hearing there are still some current tunes in rotation at the New London-market station, which is reportedly changing calls to WUXL.
There"s no Radio Disney yet in Albany; we hear Disney needed a few extra days to get a satellite dish installed at the WGNA (1460) transmitter site, so the country simulcast from WGNA-FM (107.7) continues until Friday. We drove through Albany on Saturday morning, just in time to hear the end of the standards show that was the AM"s only non-simulcast program. Host Bill Edwardsen made a reference to the "Mickey Mouse station" that was coming soon, then said he"d sign off and go down the hall to tell the "hillbilly girl DJ" to turn the simulcast back on - and thus ended that phase of AM 1460"s existence! (We noted, too, that the FM programming is emphasizing that "FM" quite a bit this week...)
Fifteen Years Ago: February 8, 1997 -
Welcome to the first issue of NERW to come to you from our new home base in Rochester NY...and wouldn"t it just figure that nearly all the news this time is still from New England? Onward...
Local ownership is rapidly becoming a thing of the past in Waterbury, Connecticut. Both of the city"s FMs are now owned by conglomerates and operating from Hartford, and long-dark WQQW (1590) will vanish from the FCC files next week - and now WWCO (1240) has been sold. Buckley Broadcasting is buying the station from the Johnson family for $550,000. Buckley owns WDRC AM-FM in Hartford and WSNG in Torrington, and the company says it plans to simulcast Brad Davis" morning show from WDRC(AM), but has made no other programming plans. WATR (1320), which reportedly had an interest in buying WWCO, is now the last local station in Waterbury. Thanks to NERW Connecticut correspondent Bill Dillane for that tidbit.
Call it "CBS": The broadcasting half of the Company Formerly Known as Westinghouse spent 30 grand to hire a consulting firm to tell it what to call itself - and the surprise answer was: "CBS." Not only that, but the highly-paid consultants came to the remarkable conclusion that the best logo for the new company was, you guessed it, the eye that CBS has used for almost 40 years. So...mark down "CBS Inc." as the corporate ownership on Boston"s WBZ (1030), WBOS (92.9; for sale), WOAZ (99.5), WZLX (100.7), WODS (103.3), WBCN (104.1), and WBZ-TV (Channel 4).