In this week's issue: CBC plans big budget, staffing cuts - CBS staffs up new WLNY-TV - Grayson returns to Boston airwaves - Walt Sanders, RIP - New suburban Toronto FM signal licensed
by SCOTT FYBUSH
(Before we get into the headlines from this holiday-abbreviated week, a schedule note: next Monday's NERW will be coming to you, for the twelfth year running, from the floor of the NAB Show in Las Vegas. We're eager to see NERW-land broadcasters who'll be at the show - especially if Fybush Media's consulting services can be of service to you as you look to expand your signal reach or make strategic acquisitions. Drop us a line if you'd like a free initial consultation...or if you'll be in Las Vegas and would just like to say hello. And stay tuned right here at fybush.com for ongoing coverage, live from the show floor.)
*In CANADA, the week's big news came from the CBC, which responded to federal budget cuts ($115 million over three years) by announcing plans to cut 650 staffers and eliminate some of its programming services and transmitters.
The most dramatic cuts come at Radio Canada International, which will shutter its shortwave transmitter at Sackville, New Brunswick after seven decades and will end its newscast services and all its Russian and Brazilian programming.
For domestic audiences, the cuts will include some of CBC television's original programming - and some TV transmitters that now carry CBC-TV and Radio-Canada TV to remote communities. The CBC's plan calls for the shutdown of hundreds of analog transmitters at the end of July instead of keeping them on the air for an additional year, and that would mean the end of English-language CBC service anywhere in Quebec outside of Montreal - and in much of the Maritimes as well.
Francophones outside Quebec would lose even more Radio-Canada service, with transmitters in Windsor, London, Kitchener and Sarnia (and in even bigger cities such as Calgary) shutting down, leaving viewers forced to use pay TV services, either cable or satellite, to receive CBC/Radio-Canada programming.
And then there's this: CBC executives say they'll apply to the CRTC to sell commercial time on CBC Radio Two and Radio-Canada's Espace Musique network. If approved, it will be the first time since the 1970s that the CBC has carried commercials on its radio networks. (CBC-TV and Radio-Canada TV have always competed for ad dollars with Canada's commercial TV broadcasters.)
The CBC says the addition of ads to the second radio networks will allow them to keep the main networks, CBC Radio One and Radio-Canada's Premiere Chaine, commercial-free - and they say plans for the addition of new local radio service to areas such as Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo will continue to move forward, albeit with some delays.
(Also moving forward, apparently, is a signal upgrade to Radio-Canada's TV service in the Ottawa-Gatineau market: last week, the CRTC approved the request from CBOFT to move from its longtime home on channel 9, its old analog facility, to UHF channel 33, the channel it used for its interim DTV facility. The UHF version of CBOFT-DT will run 480 kW max DA, while the VHF channel 9 facility was running just 3.5 kW max DA from the Camp Fortune, Quebec master transmitter site.)
*Frank Torres is adding another station to his "Dawg FM" (CIDG 101.9 Ottawa). The CRTC has approved Torres' application for a new signal in Uxbridge, in Durham Region east of Toronto, 0ver opposition from the incumbent broadcaster there.
Durham Radio, which owns CKDO (1580/107.7 Oshawa), CKGE (94.9 Oshawa) and CJKX (95.9 Ajax), argued that Torres' application wouldn't really provide the first service to Uxbridge, and that its classic hits format would duplicate what CKDO already provides.
The CRTC disagreed, noting that no existing station puts a city-grade signal over Uxbridge itself, and that there's a difference between the oldies-heavy classic hits mix on CKDO and the 1970s/1980s /1990s format Torres proposes for his new station, which will run 372 watts (900 watts max DA)/140 m at 105.5 on the dial.
Torres will partner with John Sherratt of Starboard Communications, which owns CJOJ (95.5) and CHCQ (100.1) in Belleville, to the east.
*In Kingston, Danny Kingsbury is the new general manager for Rogers' CIKR (105.7 K-Rock) and CKXC (Kix 93.5). He'll retain his previous title, as general manager of Rogers' four radio stations in Halifax, Moncton and Saint John - and will presumably be spending a whole bunch of time on Air Canada getting from his new home base in Kingston to the Maritimes and back.
*As CBS gets busy launching its new independent station in the NEW YORK City market, WLNY-TV (Channel 55), it's put a general manager at the helm with solid independent TV experience. Betty Ellen Berlamino was the general manager at WPIX (Channel 11) until the turbulence at Tribune sent her packing in 2010; since then, she's been working for CBS as senior VP and director of sales for CBS Television Stations.
Under Berlamino, WLNY will launch local news in June in two slots not presently occupied by sister station WCBS-TV (Channel 2): a 7-9 AM local morning show will run opposite the CBS network morning news on Channel 2, and in prime time WLNY will have a 9-10 PM local newscast anchored by Chris Wragge and Erica Tyler.
*Over at CBS Radio, Buster Satterfield is out after three years doing late nights and serving as assistant music director at WXRK (92.3 NOW). No replacement has been named yet.
In Rockland County, the demolition of the old Nanuet Mall this week has a radio connection: that's where WRCR (1300 Spring Valley) had its studios for more than a decade. As the mall emptied out, WRCR relocated last November to a new studio home adjacent to the new Provident Bank Park, where the independent Rockland Boulders play. (We'll have more on them in our next "Baseball on the Radio" installment in May...)
*Upstate, we're hearing reports that Holy Family Communications has signed on a new Catholic signal serving the Auburn/northern Finger Lakes area. The construction permit for WTMI (88.7 Fleming) was originally granted to Tyburn Academy, which transferred it to Buffalo-based Holy Family to build. The new signal will run 600 watts DA/888' from a site in Moravia, with most of the signal aimed north.
Here in Rochester, Clear Channel has dropped the three-way simulcast of its Brother Wease morning show, which added sports talker WHTK (1280 Rochester)/WHTK-FM (107.3 South Bristol) to Wease mothership WFXF (95.1 Honeoye Falls). The simulcast on WHTK didn't add any significant coverage to the existing reach of "95.1 the Fox," and now WHTK is carrying Fox Sports Radio's "Fox Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman and Artrell Hawkins" instead.
*One of New York City's pioneering African-American TV journalists has died. Gil Noble joined WABC-TV (Channel 7) in 1967 and quickly settled in as anchor of the station's weekend newscasts and then in the role that would define him for decades, producing and hosting the public affairs program "Like It Is" and winning pretty much every award the industry could offer, including seven Emmys.
Noble stayed with WABC-TV until suffering a debilitating stroke last July; he died Thursday (April 5) at 80.
(An interesting trivia note: Noble was born February 22, 1932 - 200 years to the day after George Washington.)
*And of course we can't let the death of Mike Wallace pass without comment. There's no shortage of tributes out there to Wallace's many decades with CBS News on "60 Minutes," but long before he found network news fame, Wallace was already a local TV star in New York. The Brookline, Mass. native had already tasted network exposure on CBS in the early 1950s as an actor and talk host, but he moved to DuMont's WABD-TV (Channel 5) in 1955 to start a local news operation in the wake of the demise of DuMont's network.
At WABD, Wallace made a name for himself as the pugnacious host of "Night Beat," a freewheeling late-night show in which a cigarette-wielding Wallace questioned a guest in front of a plain black backdrop, decades before Charlie Rose. "Night Beat" moved to ABC in 1956 but didn't last long, and by 1959 Wallace was back in local TV at New Jersey-based WNTA-TV (Channel 13), where he ran the newsroom and anchored the local "News Beat" newscast and a new version of "The Mike Wallace Interview."
By 1963, Wallace had made it back to CBS News, and of course he never left; "60 Minutes" came along in 1968 and Wallace continued to make appearances on the broadcast as late as 2008.
Wallace was 93 when he died on Saturday night in New Canaan, Connecticut.
*Remember Jon Grayson? The overnight talk host based at CBS Radio's KMOX (1120 St. Louis) made a big splash in MASSACHUSETTS a few years back when CBS pulled veteran WBZ (1030 Boston) overnight talker Steve LeVeille off the air in favor of a syndicated version of Grayson's "Overnight America."
That didn't last long, thanks to pressure from WBZ listeners and advertisers who persuaded the station it was better off staying local and returning LeVeille to the air. But now Grayson is back in the Boston market on one of WBZ's competitors, Greater Media's WTKK (96.9 Boston). WTKK had been carrying the California-based John and Jeff Show in its weekday overnight slot; on Friday and Saturday nights (or Saturday and Sunday mornings, if you prefer), it's the syndicated Phil Hendrie show in the overnight hours.
In New Bedford, Ken Pittman is out of the 3-6 PM slot at WBSM (1420) in what's being described as a budget cutback that comes amidst a bigger schedule shift at the Cumulus talker. WBSM is adding the Cumulus-syndicated Mike Huckabee show from 1-3 PM, moving Phil Paleologos into Pittman's former afternoon shift and installing Mike Gallagher's syndicated show from 9-noon.
On Cape Cod, community station WOMR (92.1 Provincetown) lost its antenna last month when high winds knocked it off the Provincetown water tower, damaging it beyond repair. "Outermost Community Radio" remains on the air via a low-power auxiliary 92.1 signal and its new mid-Cape relay, WFMR (91.3 Orleans). WOMR will kick off a special fundraising campaign on April 20 to raise some $30,000 it still needs to pay for a replacement antenna system.
*Moving over to the TV side of things, we remember Walt Sanders, one of the mainstays of WBZ-TV (Channel 4)'s long era of ratings dominance in the 1970s and 1980s. Sanders came to Channel 4 in 1968 as one of the station's (and the city's) first African-American TV reporters, and he stayed at WBZ until his retirement in 1995. Sanders died last Monday (April 2) at his home in Spring Hill, Florida. He was 81 years old.
And we send our best wishes to WCVB (Channel 5) morning co-anchor Randy Price, who's recuperating after surgery to patch up the leg he broke in three places when he took a fall last weekend while walking near his home in Maine.
Price will be off the air for "a few weeks" while recuperating at home.
*On public TV, WGBH is reworking its over-the-air DTV lineup: on April 17, it's getting rid of the standard-definition simulcast of its main "WGBH 2" programming on virtual channel 2.2 (RF 19), moving the "WGBH World" subchannel from the 44.2 subchannel of sister station WGBX (RF 43) to 2.2, and in the process opening up more bandwidth on WGBX, which currently carries "WGBH 44" in HD on 44.1 and two more SD streams, WGBH Create and 'GBH Kids, in addition to World.
*It's not just WGBH shifting its DTV lineup: in CONNECTICUT, the statewide CPTV public TV network is pulling the "CPTV Create" subchannel off its over-the-air signals on Wednesday, replacing it with its new "CPTV Sports" channel.
An all-sports channel from public TV? Yes, and only in the Nutmeg State, where CPTV has made a prominent name for itself carrying UConn sports and more recently the games of the Connecticut Whale hockey team. The new full-time sports channel launched on cable around the state last fall; it also includes high school sports and has added games from other colleges such as the University of Hartford and Central Connecticut State University.
*MAINE's statewide public broadcasting system has fended off an attempt to cut its budget. Republican governor Paul LePage had proposed eliminating the state's $1.7 million in annual funding for MPBN television and radio, but the proposal met with a mixed reaction in the state legislature's appropriations committee, in no small part because of MPBN's broadcast reach to remote areas of Maine that receive little or no commercial service. On Thursday, the appropriations committee voted to retain the MPBN funding, with an amendment calling for a study that will look at ways to turn the state's appropriation to MPBN into a "fee-for-service" agreement under which the public broadcaster will provide specific services (such as the statewide emergency alert system) to state government.
(By way of full disclosure: Fybush Media has provided signal-improvement consulting services to MPBN in the past.)
*TV people on the move: after 21 years at Portland CBS affiliate WGME (Channel 13), anchor Doug Rafferty is moving into government work. Rafferty is the new public information director at Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, effective this week. Also out at WGME are weekend anchor Catherine Parrotta, who's now at Boston's Fox O&O WFXT, and morning meteorologist Sarah L0ng, who's starting a skateboard shop with her husband.
*As the Boston Red Sox season gets underway, there's another longtime affiliate missing from the network: Dick Gleason's WOXO (92.7 Norway)/WTBM (100.7 Mexico) won't be carrying the team's games this year. It appears overlap with the big signal of WLOB-FM (96.3 Gray) led the Sox to pull their affiliation; WOXO/WTBM will be carrying the Portland Sea Dogs instead.
*There's a new signal on the air in northern NEW HAMPSHIRE: WMTP (91.1 Conway) is the latest outlet for the Word Radio Educational Foundation, based at WSEW (88.7) in Sanford, Maine.
*In PENNSYLVANIA, there's a new PD at WBSX (97.9 Hazleton), as Kenny Wall relocates from Tulsa's KMYZ to take the job at the Cumulus active rocker in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market.
Another Cumulus station caused a bit of a stir in the local radio community last week: WARM (590 Scranton) was silent for a few days, and the station's aging transmitter site (coupled with cutbacks in Cumulus' engineering staff) has prompted fears in the past that if it goes off the air, it might not be back. This time, anyway, WARM has lived to broadcast more oldies: it was back on the air Thursday.
And it appears the end is very near, so to speak, for Family Stations' Philadelphia outlet. There's word that WKDN (106.9 Camden, NEW JERSEY) will broadcast Family's religious programming for the last time next Sunday (April 15) as the station changes hands to Merlin Media. Merlin has registered several domains and Twitter accounts for "106.9 the Fox," but that's as likely as not to be a smokescreen for a real format - "FM News 106.9"? - still to come.
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: April 11, 2011 -
*The latest front in the "FM news-talk" offensive is in western NEW YORK, where Entercom's struggling "Lake" (WLKK 107.7 Wethersfield Township) finally sank beneath the waves (or at least over to the obscurity of an HD2 subchannel) at midnight last Tuesday, replaced by a simulcast of the market's leading talker, WBEN (930 Buffalo).
As with many of the recent additions of FM signals to AM news-talkers, the issue in Buffalo wasn't signal: WBEN has arguably the best AM coverage of any signal in town, with a centrally-located tower site on Grand Island and full-market penetration day and night. But there's a sense out there (and we're hearing a lot about it here in the hallways at NAB) that even the best AM signal is no longer a guarantee that younger audiences will find the programming being offered there, which is why we've seen a significant number of AM news-talk and sports stations adding FM signals, including recent flips in Syracuse (WSYR-FM 106.9) and Albany (WGY-FM 103.1).
Buffalo's move is interesting for a few reasons, though: especially because WLKK's 107.7 signal is challenging to receive in many parts of the core Buffalo market, especially in Niagara County, where Canada's CJXY (107.9 Hamilton) wreaks adjacent-channel havoc. In fact, much of WLKK's coverage spreads eastward to the Rochester market, where WBEN-on-WLKK carries some of the same hosts as Clear Channel's WHAM (1180), and in the case of Rush Limbaugh, it's a live carriage on 107.7 and 930 against a two-hour delay on WHAM. But Entercom's not after Rochester audiences; instead, it's widely speculated that the intent of the WLKK flip is to shave just enough audience from country competitor WYRK (106.5) to keep WBEN firmly in first place, 12+.
(And that WLKK call appears to be staying on 107.7: a few years back, Entercom allowed Greater Media to take the "WBEN-FM" callsign down to Philadelphia, where it continues to reside on 95.7.)
*A second local newscast is returning to Utica, where Smith's WKTV (Channel 2) has had the market all to itself since the shutdown of local newscasts at WUTR (Channel 20) eight years ago.
Under new owner Nexstar, news is coming back later this spring at WUTR and its sister stations, which announced the move at a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Fox affiliate WFXV (Channel 33).
When the new newscasts launch this fall, they'll air at 6 and 11 PM on WUTR, 7 PM on MyNetwork outlet WPNY and 10 PM on WFXV.
In Buffalo, LIN's WNLO (CW23) is revamping the 8 AM hour of its morning newscast, replacing its more straitlaced morning show (still seen from 5-7 AM on sister station WIVB-TV and from 7-8 on WNLO) with a new lifestyle show called "Winging It! Buffalo Style," hosted by Joe Arena and Victoria Hong.
A bit of radio history is about to disappear in Syracuse, where the city landmarks commission has signed off on the demolition of the buildings at 431-439 South Warren Street that were the Art Deco home of WFBL (1390) in that station's heyday. Long vacant and in poor condition, the century-old buildings, which received a new facade in the 1940s when WFBL moved in, will be replaced by (sigh...) a parking lot.
*When Gary LaPierre announced his departure from one of the top radio news jobs in MASSACHUSETTS five years ago, WBZ (1030 Boston) probably didn't expect that it would need to fill the job twice in just half a decade. But after the departure of LaPierre's replacement, Ed Walsh, the CBS Radio all-newser is hoping for a longer run for its next morning news anchor. Joe Mathieu hasn't yet turned 40, and while most of his recent work has been in Washington, DC, where he's been doing news for XM/Sirius and programming its POTUS talk channel, his roots are in New England, where he started his career in eastern CONNECTICUT before working on Cape Cod (WXTK/WCOD) and at Boston's WRKO. A 1996 graduate of Emerson College, Mathieu starts his new job early next month.
*Speaking of Connecticut, WYBC (94.3/1340 New Haven) manager Wayne Schmidt is moving on after two decades at the helm of the Yale University stations. Schmidt tells NERW his last big project at WYBC was the recently-completed time-brokerage agreement to put programming from Fairfield County-based WSHU public radio on the AM 1340 signal, which in turn provides funding to help Yale students continue to build their online-only "WYBC-X" service. Schmidt has been battling cancer, and we wish him the best in that fight.
*NEW HAMPSHIRE picked up two more all-sports stations in as many weeks: in Keene, Saga flipped WZBK (1220) from progressive talk (simulcasting WKVT 1490 Brattleboro, Vermont) to "ESPN 1220" on March 31. Later this month, veteran sportscaster Bob Lund will bring his "Press Box" talk show back to the air on the new WZBK. Meanwhile on the Seacoast, Clear Channel has dumped the WGIR (610 Manchester) talk simulcast on WGIN (930 Rochester), which also flips to ESPN.
Five Years Ago: April 9, 2007 -
*There's always some risk involved in tweaking a station that's consistently at the top of the ratings, but when that station is at the top of the NEW YORK ratings, any tweak at all becomes a decent-sized gamble.
But Clear Channel has some pretty solid reasoning behind its quiet shift last week that moved WLTW (106.7 New York) away from the "Lite" identity that's been the station's cornerstone since its debut in 1984.
While the "Lite" branding still appears from time to time on the station, it's now "New York's 106.7," with what looks like a pretty hasty Photoshop job on the station website, now accessible at 1067newyork.com and newyorks1067.com in addition to the old 1067litefm.com and wltw.com.
So what's wih the new identity? One factor, of course, is the new competition from CBS' "Fresh FM" WWFS (102.7 New York), which is missing no opportunity to associate "Lite" with the sleepy soft AC music that 106.7 spent so many years playing. WLTW's gradual move away from that music toward a hotter adult contemporary sound (verging, at times, on almost a pop-CHR sound) is another factor in the change.
And then there's the people-meter factor: WLTW understands, as so many PDs will learn soon enough, that as Arbitron shifts over to its new automated ratings system, a lot of the old realities of the diary system will no longer apply. Already, the word is that most of the station's entries in Arbitron diaries were simply "106.7," without calls or slogan, and once the Portable People Meter kicks in in New York, all that will matter will be getting radios to land on that frequency, no matter what the slogan.
*It's really in CANADA, of course, but CKEY-FM (101.1 Fort Erie ON) continues to target the Buffalo market, just over the Niagara River, and now it's doing so with a new nickname. "Wild 101" was replaced by "Z101" last week, with a more mainstream top-40 format and a reworked airstaff.
Ellen Z is out in afternoons, with Keith Kelly handling that shift for now, and PD Dave Universal created a minor message-board stir when he installed "Taylor Kaye" (Jenny Wade, late of WKSE in Buffalo) in late nights. There's a Taylor Kaye across the lake at Toronto's CHUM-FM, too, and at last check, the new Z101 website didn't show any name at all in the 10 PM airshift. (Interesting, too, given the CRTC's previous interest in CKEY's Canadian bona fides, that the new Z101 site, unlike the old "Wild" site, shows only a Buffalo request-line number, and no Canadian studio phone.)
*Now that western MASSACHUSETTS is hearing NPR news and talk from WFCR (88.5 Amherst) on the big 50,000-watt signal of Clear Channel's WNNZ (640 Westfield), Pamal has a new format on its orphaned WPNI (1430 Amherst), which had been carrying the WFCR news-talk programming. Until WPNI can be sold, it's now simulcasting WUMB-FM (91.9 Boston), bringing that station's folk music to what's presumably a very receptive Pioneer Valley audience.
*In VERMONT, we hear that Pamal has peeled WZRT (97.1 Rutland) away from the "Kiss FM" identity it had under Clear Channel ownership; the station's still top 40, but it's back to its old "Z97" moniker. (We also note that Clear Channel's vermontkiss.com site, while mostly updated to show only WVTK 92.1 Port Henry NY/Burlington VT, still has some "Kiss FM 92.1-97.1" logos around, too.)
CBS' Philadelphia TV stations, KYW-TV (Channel 3) and WPSG (Channel 57) made their long-awaited moves to 15th and Spring Garden last Monday, launching news on KYW in HD at the same time. Meanwhile, back in KYW's old Market Street neighborhood, former next-door neighbor WTXF (Channel 29) has a new VP/general manager, as Mike Renda moves to that Fox O&O from sister station WJW (Channel 8) in Cleveland. And across Independence Mall, WHYY (90.9/Channel 12) is reportedly losing its leader; a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer says Paul Gluck is taking a new job running Drexel University's Rudman Institute for Entertainment Industry Studies.
Back to CBS - it had a rough start last Monday to its new FM talk station in Pittsburgh. WTZN-FM (93.7 the Zone) was supposed to have premiered the new Scott Paulsen show at 4 PM after John McIntire's shift, but the lawyers apparently got involved, and so McIntire ended up being forced to fill an extra 90 minutes of airtime, without even being able to use Paulsen's name to explain what was going on. The station eventually plugged into Sporting News Radio to give McIntire a break, and the legal issues were resolved in time for Paulsen (formerly at Clear Channel's WDVE) to go on the air Tuesday.
Ten Years Ago: April 8, 2002 -
It's rare to see a big-city directional AM station move its entire transmitter site - unless the government steps in and gives it no choice. That's what's happening in New York City, where WOR is losing its site in the Meadowlands, and it's what WJAS (1320) in Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA is going through now as well. WJAS' current two-tower site sits along the river near the eastern portal of the Squirrel Hill tunnel, on land that the station leased from the Standard LaFarge Company. In 1994, Standard sold the land to the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, without giving WJAS the right of first refusal to buy it, something WJAS says it was entitled to by contract. The URA tried to end WJAS' lease on the land, only to find itself in the midst of a three-way lawsuit, which the agency now hopes to settle by selling WJAS another piece of land that it owns, a few miles north at Highland Drive and Leech Farm Road in Penn Hills. WJAS' application calls for a three-tower array, with two towers used by day with 6000 watts and two towers at night with 3300 watts. Normally, stations that change sites have to reduce nighttime interference on the frequency by 10 percent; WJAS is asking the FCC to waive that power-reduction requirement because the move is involuntary.
Moving along to NEW YORK, WDRE (98.5 Westhampton) wants to move west on Long Island. The station, which relays the modern AC of WLIR (92.7 Garden City), now shares a site near East Quogue with WWXY (107.1 Hampton Bays); it's filed an application to move about five miles west to the site just north of Eastport and south of the Long Island Expressway that's used by WRCN (103.9 Riverhead). WDRE's new facilities would be 3000 watts at 100 meters, with a directional antenna nulled towards WRKS (98.7 New York) and WPLR (99.1 New Haven).
Speaking of WLIR, its "big announcement" Monday was, unsurprisingly, an April Fool stunt: a claim that musician Moby had bought the station and was turning it into "WMBY." Moby did, in fact, program the station for a few hours, playing a much more diverse list of tunes than normally heard on the commercial dial in New York!
Other stunts worthy of mention around the region: in Syracuse, WNTQ (93.1) morning team Ted and Amy claimed the state was about to outlaw eating and drinking in cars. It would have been only mildly amusing - until talk host Jim Reith across town at WSYR (570) was taken in on the stunt by a caller! Up in New Hampshire, WJYY (105.5 Concord) claimed its morning team was being "suspended" - and they were, from a crane 40 feet up during the entire (very rainy) morning show.
It may have sounded like an April Fool joke, but Binghamton's WCDW (100.5 Susquehanna PA) is really changing format. The station says it will let listeners decide over the weekend, voting among a series of stunt formats that will run in one-hour blocks; whatever happens, it appears the station will cancel the Greaseman's syndicated morning show and perhaps let some of its airstaff go. (We still suspect oldies are on the way to this rimshot signal.)
Fifteen Years Ago: April 10, 1997 -
We'll start this week in Massachusetts, where Glenn Ordway is out as program director at all-sports WEEI (850). Ordway tells the Boston Globe the decision was a mutual one, to allow him to focus on his on-air duties. Brad Murray takes over PD reins at WEEI, in addition to his duties at sister talker WRKO (680). Up in Gardner, meantime, little WGAW (1340) is about to be doing independent programming for the first time in years. Doug Rowe kept WGAW when he sold WSRO (1470) in Marlborough, and word has it that WGAW's program schedule will soon include Red Sox baseball and other simulcasts from nearby WEIM (1280) in Fitchburg.
New Hampshire news: It's the end of an era for independent TV in the Granite State. WNDS (Channel 50) in Derry was officially transferred to Ramcast, Inc. last Saturday, bringing with it a switch to Global Shopping Network programming. Most of the station's staff, including well-known weatherman Al Kaprelian, was laid off. WNDS had recently been improving its cable coverage in the Boston market, and is now available to viewers in most of the metro area - for whom it's now at least the fourth all home-shopping signal on the UHF dial.
There could be a new AM signal in the Upper Valley area. Koor Broadcasting, which owns WNTK AM-FM (1020 Newport/99.7 New London), is applying for 720 in Hanover. No word yet on facilities, but we'd suspect a few thousand watts daytime, possibly directional to protect CKAC (730) in Montreal, and a few watts at night. Apparently the plans for 720 in Billerica MA are now completely dead and gone...
One bit of news from Rhode Island this week: the long-awaited debut of Providence's WB affiliate is now set for 5:30 PM on Sunday, April 13. WLWC (Channel 28) is licensed to New Bedford MA and will be operated by NBC's WJAR (Channel 10). WLWC is owned by Fant Broadcasting, which has similar LMA deals in other markets around the country.