Recent Issues:

2001 in Review

2000 in Review

9/11 Plus One: The World Trade Center Broadcasters Recover


So here we are at the end of another year, and what do we have to show for it? No big new formats and no huge group sales, to be sure - but there are plenty of reasons we'll be remembering 2002 in the years to come. Top 10 list, anyone?

1. IBOC Digital Cometh

There are still no receivers in consumers' hands, but 2002 was the year Ibiquity's digital system began to light up the airwaves in the Northeast.

The FCC approved the IBOC ("in-band, on-channel") system for daytime AM use on October 10, and by the next morning it was already operating on WOR (710 New York), sparking one of the most heated debates the broadcasting community has seen in decades. Supporters of the system say it will bring AM radio's sound quality up to FM standards (and NERW's initial listening finds that there certainly is an improvement), but there's still plenty of question in engineering circles about the effect of the digital sidebands on analog AM reception once more stations begin using the system.

With several groups making early committments to add IBOC signals to their AM and FM stations early in 2003, this is a story that will keep making headlines in the new year, we're sure.

(In Canada, the transition to Eureka-147 digital isn't moving much faster; while Ottawa joined the list of cities offering the service, receivers remained high in price and low in demand at year's end.)

2. The DTV Transition Speeds Up

When 2002 began, over-the-air digital television was still a thing of the future for large portions of NERW-land. Not only were no stations on the air in cities like Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany and Portland, there were also no receivers available to see the signals anyway.

What a difference a year makes! With the pressure of an FCC mandate to move the DTV conversion forward, 2002 was a blur of activity at many stations, with new towers going up, new transmitters going in and new signals going on the air almost weekly.

From Maine (where viewers in Bangor ended the year with a choice of four DTV signals!) to Buffalo (where two new DTV stations signed on), most stations had until this fall to either turn on DTV or provide a good excuse for a delay.

In some cases, like the Burlington stations embroiled in a dispute with environmentalists at the peak of Mount Mansfield, tower space for DTV still isn't available; in others, like the former Ackerley stations now in Clear Channel hands in upstate New York, financial problems are keeping DTV off the air. But in many other cases, stations made the deadline with minimal facilities, offering viewers at least a taste of things to come. And on the shelves of Best Buy and Circuit City, DTV receivers began appearing - and finding their way into the hands of eager would-be DTV viewers.

In store for 2003: the deadline for public broadcasters to make the conversion - and the prospect of cheaper DTV receivers over the next few years, with manufacturers agreeing to make the technology standard by mid-decade.

3. Shock Jocks: Open Foot, Insert Mouth

When 2002 began, Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia were the biggest things on New York radio, bringing big ratings to afternoon drive at Infinity's WNEW (102.7) and reaching out around the region on a slew of new affiliates. Then came August - and you know what happened next: an ill-conceived stunt involving a man, a woman and the vestibule of St. Patrick's Cathedral. It may not have seemed like anything much worse than the usual fare on the show, but it quickly swelled into a "Perfect Storm" of media feedback, with fallout that continued far beyond the pair's suspension from the airwaves.

With WNEW's management also suspended after the incident, the station was left to flounder. Its morning drive ratings were already near rock bottom, its middays were damaged by a pointless public feud between Opie & Anthony and Washington's Don & Mike, and evening hosts Ron & Fez had to do the impossible and support what was left of the format by themselves. Yet for all the rumors (country? AC?) about the future of 102.7, the year ended with no big change at New York's most troubled FM frequency.

And the demise of Opie& Anthony damaged Infinity's hopes of expanding the "FM talk" format to other stations in the region, leaving stations like WBCN in Boston and WCMF in Rochester to refocus on music, while affiliate WHTR (93.7 Scotia), which had staked an entire format flip on Opie & Anthony, dropped talk completely to go modern rock.

Will there be another O&A someday? Absolutely - but the bad taste from this incident will keep broadcasters more cautious for some time to come.

4. World Trade Center recovery

The biggest story of 2001 continued to resonate in the New York broadcast community in 2002, as the FM and TV broadcasters displaced from the World Trade Center continued their search for a new permanent home.

Forming a consortium called the Metropolitan TV Association, the city's TV stations pressed for the construction of a new tower somewhere in New Jersey to provide a platform for full-power analog and digital service; in the meantime, many installed auxiliary transmitters at the Armstrong FM tower in Alpine, New Jersey and squeezed into tight spaces in the overcrowded Empire State Building, now the tallest building in New York.

Most of the FM stations displaced from the Trade Center landed, at least temporarily, at the new Four Times Square facility - and late in 2002, that building's owner announced an ambitious plan for a new 300-foot tower to accommodate auxiliary facilities for TV and FM for almost the entire market.

5. Vinikoor wins tower battle

Little Lebanon, New Hampshire is an unlikely spot for a precedent-setting battle over tower construction, but station owner Bob Vinikoor and attorney Fred Hopengarten didn't give up when the city tried to deny them permission to build 266-foot towers for new WQTH (720 Hanover).

Taking their fight all the way to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Vinikoor and Hopengarten emerged in early December with a major victory, striking down the city's rules that tried to limit broadcast towers to an impossible 46 feet - and establishing an important benchmark for other such fights in cities and towns across America.

6. CHUM folds The Team

Canada's CHUM group placed a big bet on all-sports when it killed off the oldies on most of its AM stations across the country in May 2001, abandoning the heritage of stations like 1050 CHUM in Toronto in favor of a national lineup of sports talk called "The Team."

The expensive experiment never paid off in the ratings, and by the summer CHUM was retrenching, abandoning the format in some smaller markets and putting in more local programming in bigger cities.

And then came the surprise announcement on the afternoon of August 26: the plug was being pulled on "The Team," right away - and 1050 CHUM was back on the air within hours. (The Team lived on in local form in Ottawa and Montreal, at least.)

The experiment took a big toll on the CHUM family: 44 people lost their jobs when the sports network folded, and a few months later CHUM founder Allan Waters stepped down as head of the group, which now has a big rebuilding job ahead of it.

7. Multiple ownership faces scrutiny

While the FCC prepared to revisit, yet again, its rules on multiple ownership of broadcast stations in a single market, the current strange brew of rules played havoc with several big deals in 2002, most of them involving Clear Channel, the 800-pound gorilla of group ownership.

In upstate New York, the FCC approved Clear Channel's purchase of the Ackerley TV group - but ordered the company to shed radio properties in Binghamton, Utica, Syracuse and Rochester. Clear Channel's purchase of several Maine stations also came under close scrutiny, as did Backyard Broadcasting's $42 million purchase of Sabre Communications, giving the new group huge market shares in Elmira/Corning and Williamsport. LMAs made headlines as well, including a father-son deal in Erie that threatened to all but eliminate one TV newsroom in the market. Yet all that scrutiny resulted in almost no actual change, with plenty of waivers and extensions of time being issued while the FCC reconsiders the current rules.

Those rules will be in the general media spotlight in 2003, with public hearings on the issue scheduled for New York and other big cities beginning in mid-January; while newspaper owners are hoping for an end to the ban on their acquisition of broadcast properties, broadcasters are hoping the current caps aren't reduced - which could force a new round of big group sales.

8. Local legends say "Sayonara..."

Whether by choice or not, many of the most familiar faces and voices in northeast broadcasting signed off in 2002. Buffalo seemed to be in the headlines too often, as Danny Neaverth lost his morning gig at WHTT, Clip Smith was shown the door at WBEN, Art Wander retired (again) from WNSA and Empire Sports, and Carol Jasen left WIVB of her own accord.

Up in Toronto, death claimed two of the big voices at CHWO (AM 740) far too young: Earl Warren in October, then morning co-host Tom Fulton in December; earlier in the year, Canadians everywhere mourned the loss of Peter Gzowski, longtime CBC "Morningside" host.

Legendary Rochester gardeners Doc and Katy Abraham retired after 50 years, while Hartford listeners said a tearful goodbye to six-decade WTIC veteran Bob Steele, who died at 91, just a month after his last weekend show on the station he'd called home since 1936.

Albany listeners wondered for months about the whereabouts of WGY's J.R. Gach, then were stunned to learn he had been suffering from severe mental illness; his contract wasn't renewed when it expired at year's end.

Down in Harrisburg, Bruce Bond returned to the airwaves on WRKZ (102.3 Carlisle) over the summer, a few months after being cut loose from competitor WNNK - but his return lasted only a few weeks, as WNNK owner Citadel invoked its non-compete clause and won a court order to keep Bond off the air into 2003. New Jersey's "Scott and Casey" disappeared from WKXW (New Jersey 101.5) for much of the spring in a dispute over their show's content, returned for a few weeks in the summer and then decamped to Detroit. (In November, the station would suffer another loss with the death, at a much-too-young 28, of talented imaging director Erik Van Ness.)

In New York City, Pete Fornatale disappeared from his Saturday slot on WFUV after a dispute about the political songs and statements he was making; the WNEW-FM veteran buried the hatchet with the Fordham University station and returned to the air in late summer.

Connecticut listeners lost Dee Snider, as WMRQ (104.1) dropped the Twisted Sister rocker in favor of the syndicated Bubba the Love Sponge; on the management end, Vince Cremona left Cumulus after a long, successful run there that started when he bought WEBE (107.9). Down in New York City, Judy Ellis wrapped up a 17-year stint with Emmis by announcing that she'd move to the number two position at Citadel.

Providence listeners got to kick Buddy Cianci around one more time, as the mayor returned to the air on WPRO for a few months before heading off to federal prison on corruption charges. Will he be back? We'd bet our last jar of spaghetti sauce on it...

Mark Rosenthal disappeared from the weather desk at Boston's WCVB after spending most of his career there, displaced by Harvey Leonard's arrival from competitor WHDH, while Jack Hynes retired from his weekend slot on the WLVI anchor desk (followed a few months later by Jeff Barnd's departure from the weekday anchor chair.) Eddie Andelman also moved across town, leaving longtime home WEEI for upstart rival WWZN. On the FM side, Tai and Ken Shelton both landed at WROR after losing their gigs at WZLX and WBOS.

9. YES, we have no Yankees on TV

The New York Yankees were missing from many TV screens in their home market during their not-quite-championship series, thanks to a months-long battle between the Yankee-owned YES Network, in its first season as the pinstriped team's flagship, and Cablevision, which owns systems that serve the Bronx, Long Island, and other suburban areas in upstate New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The absence of the YES Network from the Cablevision systems (still unresolved, by the way) left many Yankees fans to rediscover the joys of radio, as they tuned in the team's first season on WCBS (880), the only real winner in the fight.

10. Mount Washington's TV era ends

In a side effect of the DTV transition, the Northeast's highest peak lost its TV transmitter, as WMTW (Channel 8) built a tall tower near Baldwin, Maine and signed off from Mount Washington, New Hampshire in early February. WMTW had been on "The Rock" since 1954, blasting an ABC signal across uncounted thousands of square miles of northern New England - but there was no way a DTV signal from Mount Washington would reach the station's target audience way over in Portland. The two FM stations on Mount Washington remained in place, but it won't be the same without Marty Angstrom's mountaintop weather reports.

The Year in Sales

JANUARY: Portuguese broadcaster Edmund Dinis kicks off the year by announcing that he's selling WSPR (1270 Springfield MA) to Antonio and Helen Gois, who own crosstown WACM (1490 West Springfield). Robert Howe donates little WBTN (1370 Bennington VT) to Southern Vermont College. Gopher Hill sells WQSS (102.5 Camden ME) to Clear Channel for $1.72 million, and Ed Bold leads the month's sales with his $20 million deal to sell WSNJ (1240/107.7 Bridgeton NJ) to American Media Services.

FEBRUARY: The big deal is Saga's $9.08 million entry into the Brattleboro-Keene market, buying WKVT (1490/92.7 Brattleboro) and WKNE (1290/103.7 Keene) from Tele-Media. Forever Broadcasting moves into the Huntingdon, Pennsylvania market in a big way (for Huntingdon), spending $875,000 for WHUN (1150 Huntingdon)/WXMJ (99.5 Mount Union) and $625,000 for WWZB (106.3 Huntingdon).

APRIL: Canada makes the headlines, as Telemedia spins off its radio holdings to three buyers. Astral Media gets the big prize, the "Rock Detente" network in Quebec (as well as the "Radiomedia" AM network, which it will have to spin off) and several Maritimes stations; Standard gets Toronto's CJEZ, while Rogers adds to its holdings elsewhere in Ontario. Over in Belleville, CHUM executive John Sherratt pays just under C$2 million to buy CJOJ (95.5) and CHCQ (100.1) from Tony Zwig. Stateside, LIN buys Providence's WPRI (Channel 12) from STC (another company under the Hicks, Muse investment umbrella), spinning LMA partner WNAC (Channel 64) to "WNAC, LLC." Saga adds to its Keene holdings, paying Scott Roberts $2.625 million for WKBK (1220) and WXOD (98.7); Peter Baumann's Suburban Broadcasting sells WVIP (1310 Mount Kisco) to Radio Vision Christiana for $1.36 million; David Zinkhann gets $300,000 from Albany jock Donald DeRosa for WZZZ (1300 Fulton NY).

MAY: Si Goldman's heirs collect $5.05 million by selling WJTN (1240) and WWSE (93.3) in Jamestown, N.Y. to Ohio's new Media One group. Over in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Williamsport Broadcasting pays $105,000 for WLYC (1050).

JUNE: The behemoth deal of the year is Univision's $3.5 billion purchase of Hispanic Broadcasting, which puts New York's WCAA (105.9) and WADO (1280) under the same corporate roof as WXTV (Channel 41) and WFUT (Channel 68). Another big deal, Clear Channel's $800 million purchase of the Ackerley TV group, is approved - with the condition that Clear Channel divest some stations in upstate New York. Arthur Liu's Multicultural Broadcasting enters Boston, paying ADD Media $1.78 million for WLYN (1360 Lynn). Down in Providence, Francis Battaglia's North American Broadcasting announces it's exiting the market, selling WALE (990) to Moon Song for $1.2 million (though the deal still hasn't closed at year's end). Warren Bailey's "Embro" group pays Vox $370,000 to break WKXL (1450 Concord NH) away from the rest of the cluster there, while down in Greenfield, Mass., Phillip Drumheller's P&M, LLC announces a $150,000 deal to buy WGAM (1520) from Ed Skutnik. In Erie, Kevin Lilly's Initial Broadcasting buys WSEE (Channel 35) - which raises some eyebrows, because Lilly's father owns crosstown WICU (Channel 12). And up in Canada, Pellpropco pays C$725,000 for CHSC (1220 St. Catharines).

JULY: Just one deal, months in the making, as Tele-Media exits western Massachusetts, selling WBEC (1420/105.5) in Pittsfield and WZEC (97.5 Hoosick Falls NY) in the Bennington, Vt. market to Vox for $4.3 million.

AUGUST: A new company called "Backyard Broadcasting" makes headlines by paying $42 million for Sabre, including its big clusters in Elmira-Corning and Williamsport. Regent pays $62 million for Brill Media's stations, including WIOV (1240/105.1) in Reading. Out at the Jersey Shore, Richard Lee Harvey sells WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton NJ) to Press Communications, and the "small deal" of the month is Clear Channel's $65,000 sale of silent WISL (1480 Shamokin PA) to David Gorman's Basic Licensing. In Canada, Durham Radio adds CKDO (1350) and CKGE (94.9) in Oshawa to its holdings as Corus sells off those non-core assets.

SEPTEMBER: The month's biggest deal is no surprise at all, as ABC turns its LMA of WEVD (1050 New York) into a $78 million purchase from the Forward Association. NBC pays Pax $26 million for WPXB (Channel 60) up in Merrimack, N.H., which will become a Telemundo affiliate. Gopher Hill exits the Maine broadcast scene, selling WBYA (105.5 Islesboro) to Mariner for $1.15 million. John J. Fuller adds WKCD (107.7 Pawcatuck CT) to his southern New England group, buying it from AAA Entertainment. With the passing of owner Herb Michels, the family sells WKMB (1070 Stirling NJ) to King's Temple Ministries for $400,000. Renda adds to its central Pennsylvania group, paying Raymark $650,000 for WCCS (1160 Homer City). Up in Canada, Astral spins those Quebec AM stations to TVA and Radio Nord for C$12.75 million, while the CBC buys the CTV-owned transmitters that carry its programming to places like Sudbury, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie.

OCTOBER: Just two sales this month - Mega sells WARE (1250 Ware MA) to Marshall Sanft's Success Signal Broadcasting for $250,000, while up in Canada Guy Simard buys CKRB (103.3) and CHJM (99.7) in the Beauce region of Quebec from Marie Jalbert for C$432,000.

NOVEMBER: Pax keeps selling, unloading WMPX (Channel 23) in Maine and a station in the Virgin Islands to Corporate Media Consultants for $10 million. Arthur Liu keeps buying, as Multicultural pays Alex Langer $1.8 million for WSRO (1470 Marlborough MA).

DECEMBER: The year ends with a bunch of smaller deals, led by Clancy-Mance's $1.45 million purchase of WSLB (1400)/WPAC (92.7) in Ogdensburg and WGIX (95.3) in Gouverneur, N.Y. from Wireless Works. The Bridgelight Corp. pays the Lazarus Elias Foundation $875,000 for WPDQ (89.7 Freehold NJ). John J. Fuller sells WJJF (1180 Hope Valley RI) to Charles River Broadcasting for $585,000. Art Cervi sells his WVCC (101.7 Linesville PA) to Joseph Vilkie's Vilkie Communications for $330,000. Barry Sims buys WGFP (940 Webster MA) from the Chowder Radio Group. And Nassau closes out the year with a December 31 announcement that it's paying $43 million for Big City's suburban New York "quadcast" on 107.1 (WYNY Briarcliff Manor NY, WWXY Hampton Bays NY, WWYY Belvidere NJ, WWZY Long Branch NJ).

The Year in Programming, People and Calls

JANUARY: Up in Rumford, Maine, WTME starts the year on a new frequency, having moved from 790 (with 1000 watts) to 780 (with 10,000 watts) late in December 2001. Albany's WKLI (94.5 Ravena) flips to loud rock as "94 Rock," WRCZ, freeing up the WKLI calls to go back to 100.9 in Albany, ex-WCPT. On Cape Cod, WTWV (101.1 Mashpee) and WDVT (93.5 Harwich Port) begin simulcasting oldies as "the Wave."

Hartford's WDRC (1360) and the other stations in the Buckley network drop "The Best of Everything," their eclectic AC format, for talk. WAVZ (1300 New Haven) drops standards for sports, and WCCC (1290 West Hartford) changes calls to WTMI, the old Miami classical calls. Down in the Atlantic City area, WGYM (1580 Hammonton) drops sports and begins simulcasting WOND (1400). In Shamokin, Pennsylvania, WISL-FM (95.3) changes calls to WBLJ to match its "Bill Country" format. Watertown's WWJS (90.1) remains silent as its owner fights with his father-in-law, who owns the building the religious station had been using.

North of Toronto, CKDX (88.5 Newmarket) drops rhythmic oldies during the day for big bands. New to the air: religious WBJA (102.1 Albion NY) and WBMP (88.1 Warwick PA), as well as public broadcaster WNEF (91.7 Newburyport MA), the latest link in the WUMB network when it signs on January 13.

FEBRUARY: Venture pays $1.3 million to win the bidding war for the new channel 51 allocation in Pittsfield, Mass., serving the Albany market. In Rockland, Maine, WRFR-LP (93.3) becomes the first LPFM in New England when it signs on February 14. Boston's W32AY becomes WTMU-LP, reflecting its Telemundo programming.

On the Connecticut/Rhode Island line, rocker WAXK (102.3 Stonington) changes calls to WUXL and format to classic hits as "XL102." WNTY (990 Southington) relaunches with talk as "Notty 99." New York's WOR (710) files to move its transmitter site, since it's losing its current spot in the Meadowlands to a golf course, while on the FM dial Pete Fornatale leaves the WFUV airwaves for a few months in a dispute over the content of his weekend show. WSNJ-FM (107.7 Bridgeton NJ) files to move to "Elmer, N.J.," though that proves to be an interim move on the way to the Philly market. Bob McAllen says goodbye to Press Broadcasting, the company he helped to found. WILT (960 Mount Pocono PA) begins simulcasting the full-service programming of nearby WVPO (840 Stroudsburg) instead of ESPN sports. In the State College market, "Cool" oldies on WNCL (107.9 Port Matilda) are replaced by "Hot" hits as WJHT. Bob Roof moves from Clear Channel Pittsburgh to head up Clear Channel's Youngstown cluster.

In Montreal, CHOM (97.7) moves from modern rock to classic rock, while Toronto's "Flow" CFXJ (93.5) brings on legendary programmer David Marsden as PD. New to the air: Moody's WVME (91.9 Meadville PA).

MARCH: New York gets a new urban station at 6:05 on the morning of March 14, when Clear Channel blows up the rhythmic oldies on "Jammin'" WTJM (105.1) in favor of "Power 105," WWPR. Hartford's rock wars lose a contender, as WHCN (105.9) goes for a softer classic hits format under the "River" nickname. Binghamton gets a CHR war, with Citadel entering the fray on March 2 by flipping oldies WYOS (104.1 Chenango Bridge) to "Wild 104," WWYL. (The WYOS calls and oldies format move to the AM dial on the former WKOP 1360).

In Harrisburg, WNNK (104.1) cedes the CHR war to Clear Channel's "Kiss" (WHKF 99.3) and flips to hot AC, though the hits soon reappear in place of oldies on WWKL (92.1 Palmyra) under the new name "Hot 92." Down in Atlantic City, the simulcast of "New Jersey 101.5" moves from WBSS (97.3 Millville) to WFPG (1450 Atlantic City), which changes calls to WKXW; 97.3 becomes hot AC "Mix," WIXM, taking the format from sister station WKOE (106.3 Ocean City), which relaunches in April as "The New Hot 106.3, Today's Top 40."

The Phillies move from longtime home WPHT (1210) to weaker WPEN (950), Eddie Andelman moves from longtime home WEEI (850) to weaker WWZN (1510) in Boston, David Bernstein is ousted as PD of New York's WOR, replaced (briefly) by former WABC programmer John Mainelli, and in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Spanish replaces reggae on WDJZ (1530).

Up in Canada, CKBW (1000 Bridgewater NS) says goodbye to AM and moves to 98.1 FM, as does CHRL in Roberval QC (from 910 AM to 99.5 FM). New to the air: WCHR-FM (105.7 Manahawkin NJ), signing on at 1:15 PM March 14 with a simulcast of WBBO (98.5), and WCRG (90.7 Willamsport PA), simulcasting religious WGRC (91.3 Lewisburg).

APRIL: Binghamton's WCDW (100.5 Susquehanna PA) picks up the oldies banner and drops its AAA-ish format. On the Jersey Shore, WCHR-FM launches for real as classic rock "the Hawk," while over in the Trenton market ESPN moves from WTTM (1680 Princeton) to WJHR (1040 Flemington), which had been simulcasting business news from WHWH (1350 Princeton).

In the Upper Valley, WVRR (101.7 Newport NH) and WMXR (93.9 Woodstock VT) start simulcasting as "New Rock 93.9." The call letter shuffle goes into high gear in Harrisburg, where country WRKZ (106.7 Hershey) flips to WCAT-FM (which means 99.9 Athol MA becomes WAHL), with the WRKZ calls moving to the former WHYL-FM (102.3 Carlisle), which ends its "Cat Country" simulcast with WRKZ to go 80s as "Z102.3."

Up in St. Albans, Vermont, WWSR (1420) becomes WTWK (but not for long), while in Fulton, N.Y., WZZZ (1300) moves up the alphabetical list by becoming WAMF. WOQL ("Cool 98.7") replaces WXOD on 98.7 in Winchester N.H., but the oldies format stays. New calls: WFHL for the 88.1 allocation in New Bedford and WWWN for 1590 in Oakville, Connecticut. New to the air: WHTR-FM (93.7 Scotia), moving into the Albany market from 93.5 up in Corinth and ditching oldies for hot talk (simulcast on 1400 Albany, which replaces its heritage WABY calls with WHTR), and public radio relay WVYA (89.7 Williamsport PA).

MAY: New York City loses country again on May 8 when the "Y107" quadcast in the suburbs flips to Spanish as "Rumba 107." Out on Long Island, WDRE (98.5 Westhampton) drops its simulcast of WLIR May 23 to go hard rock as "the Bone." Providence gets sports on FM when WZRA (99.7 Wakefield-Peace Dale) flips to WSKO-FM and begins (mostly) simulcasting WSKO 790.

Up in Vermont, the WTWK calls move from 1420 St. Albans (which becomes WRSA) to 1070 across the lake in Plattsburgh, the former WLFE(AM), and both stations begin simulcasting a talk format. Meanwhile over at the AAA "Point" (WNCS 104.7 Montpelier and simulcasts), longtime PD Jody Peterson exits and listeners begin complaining that the station sounds more commercial than it used to. Albany's WGNA (1460) flips to WDDY and Radio Disney, ending its long simulcast with country WGNA-FM (107.7). In Syracuse, Buckley flips WFBL (1050 Baldwinsville) from standards to talk. In New Jersey, Indian programming arrives at WTTM (1680 Princeton) May 1, while WVLT (92.1 Vineland) flips to oldies from its mishmosh of an AC format.

Citadel sets dials spinning in Scranton, dumping doo-wop oldies from WARM (590) and returning the station to news-talk. The oldies move up the dial to WEMR (1460 Tunkhannock). On the FM side, WEOZ (95.7 Olyphant) and WAOZ (97.9 Hazleton) end their "Z-Rock" simulcast, with 95.7 becoming "Z-Talk" and 97.9 taking the new rock format and WBSX calls from 93.7 Dallas, which changes calls to WCWQ but stays in a simulcast with 97.9. WBHD (94.3 Carbondale) becomes WCWI and WEMR-FM (107.7 Tunkhannock) becomes WCWQ, but neither station changes format.

WWZB (106.3 Huntingdon) stays oldies but changes calls to WWLY, simulcasting "Wally" WALY (103.9 Bellwood) over in Altoona, while up in Du Bois, WMOU (102.1) changes back to its old WOWQ calls. Up in Canada, CKUE (94.3) and CKSY (95.1) in Chatham, Ontario swap frequencies May 3, while CFBG up in Bracebridge moves from 100.9 to 99.5 as "Moosefm."

JUNE: Bridgeport's WICC (600) segues from full service to (mostly satellite) talk on June 10. Up in Maine, WPXT (Channel 51) shutters its news department after the 10 PM broadcast June 14. Dropped by WTIC earlier in the year, Dr. Laura loses another key affiliate when WRKO drops her completely after moving her to a late-night timeslot. WENT (1340 Gloversville NY) loses its tower to a tornado, but quickly rebuilds. Outside Rochester, "Big Dog Country" WNNR gets appropriate new calls, WUUF.

Scott & Casey return to afternoons at "New Jersey 101.5" (WKXW Trenton), but last only a few weeks before taking a new gig in Detroit. Bruce Bond returns to Harrisburg, doing oldies on the new WRKZ (102.3), but is quickly hit with a lawsuit from former employer Cumulus. In Allentown, WLEV (100.7) relaunches with hot AC as "My 100.7."

WSNJ-FM heads towards Philadelphia, applying to move from 107.7B down in Bridgeton to 107.9A in Pennsauken, N.J. Out in Barnesboro, Pennsylvania, WHPA (93.5) goes modern rock under an LMA as "The Point." In Canada, CKTO (100.9 Truro NS) goes from AC to rock as "Big Dog FM," while CFGS in the Ottawa market moves from channel 49 to channel 34 and boosts power.

JULY: Entercom swaps out program directors at its Boston stations, sending Jeff Scott packing at WQSX (93.7) and Dave Douglas out the door at WAAF (107.3). Jerry McKenna arrives from Woonsocket to run "Star," while Keith Hastings comes in from Milwaukee to rock 'AAF. On the AM side, Mike Elder from Chicago's WLS replaces Jay Clark at WRKO, and over at Infinity Tai loses his morning gig at WZLX. North of Kingston and south of Albany, WRKW (92.9 Kingston) gets a real format, becoming "92.9 Rock." John Mulrooney's return to the Albany airwaves on WHTR comes to a quick end when he's replaced by Utica's Bill Keeler after just a few months. WKAB (103.5 Berwick PA) starts a short run with classic rock as "The Mountain."

Plenty of call letter changes, as WKXL-FM (107.7 Hillsborough NH) becomes WTPL, "Pulse," keeping its talk format; WMVU (900 Nashua) takes back its old WOTW calls; WWRI (1450 West Warwick) grabs the legacy WLKW calls (and, along with WNBH in New Bedford, switches to standards from R&B oldies in August); WNNY (1380 New York) drops what was left of its Spanish-language news format and goes regional Mexican as WLXE; WPBX (88.3 Southampton) out on Long Island becomes WLIU; college station WXJX (92.1 Washington PA) becomes WNJR and in Rochester, oldies simulcast WBBF (950) becomes news-talk WROC.

On the TV side, WWDP (Channel 46) south of Boston drops Telemundo for home shopping, while the FCC turns Pittsburgh's channel 16 into a commercial allocation. In Reading, the FCC wraps up its very last comparative hearing, ever, by allowing Reading Broadcasters to keep WTVE (Channel 51). Up in Canada, David Marsden's short run at CFXJ ends, and a demolition crew begins dismantling the historic CBC tower on Jarvis Street in Toronto. New to the air: ethnic CJWI (1610 Montreal), Canada's first fulltime station on the expanded band; CKSG (93.3 Cobourg), playing AC as "Star"; WXHQ-LP (105.9 Newport), Rhode Island's first LPFM; and Jeff Shapiro signs on little noncomm WNCK (89.5 Nantucket), playing AC tunes for his neighbors on the island.

AUGUST: Corus surprises Toronto by pulling the plug on its "Energy" CHR format at CING (95.3 Hamilton), flipping the powerful signal to country on August 9. Two weeks later, it's CHUM's turn to flip, as oldies replace the "Team" sports format on CHUM (1050 Toronto), as well as on CKKW (1090 Kitchener) and CJCH (920 Halifax). "Bob Country" returns to the Upper Valley, this time on WSSH (95.3 White River Junction) and WZSH (107.1 Bellows Falls) August 30, while down in Keene the WKBK calls move from 1220 to 1290, ex-WKNE, and 1220 becomes WZBK, or "WKBK-2." And in the Burlington market, the AC sounds of WLKC (103.3 Waterbury) give way to a simulcast of modern AC "Alice" WXAL (93.7 Addison).

Opie and Anthony noisily disappear from the New York airwaves, while J.R. Gach quietly vanishes from WGY in Albany. Pete Fornatale settles his beef with WFUV and returns to Saturday evenings, while Hartford's WMRQ loses Dee Snider in favor of "Bubba the Love Sponge."

Philadelphia gets "Sunny" again as Clear Channel dumps modern AC WLCE (104.5) in favor of the old WSNI calls and soft AC sound; up the road in Trenton, WCHR (920) flips to ESPN sports as WPHY, sending the WCHR calls and religious programming up the dial to WJHR (1040 Flemington). The original WCHR, 94.5 Trenton, changes calls again, this time from WNJO to WTHK to match its "Hawk" nickname. In Scranton, WCWI (94.3 Carbondale) goes country as "Cat Country" (later simulcasting the Cat from Easton, WCTO 96.1); in Lancaster, WLAN (1390) drops standards for sports as "the Ticket"; and down on the Maryland line, the WQCM calls and rock format move from 96.7 Halfway MD (which becomes urban CHR WDLD, "Wild") to the former country WIHR (94.3 Greencastle PA).

New to the air: religious WBYH (89.1 Hawley PA), New Hampshire Public Radio's WEVJ (99.5 Jackson NH) and New Jersey's first LPFM, religious WUPC-LP (102.3 Arrowhead Village).

SEPTEMBER: Costa-Eagle spins its dial in the Merrimack Valley, moving WNNW from 1110 Salem NH to 800 Lawrence MA, the longtime home of WCCM. Those calls (and English-language talk format) move to 1490 Haverhill, ex-WHAV, while the Spanish tropical format that had been on 1490 moves to 1110 as WCEC.

Boston's WROR (105.7 Framingham) admits it's a classic rock station, hiring Ken Shelton, Julie Deveraux and Tai, among other Boston veterans. WKCD (107.7 Pawcatuck CT) drops modern AC "Channel 107.7" to go urban CHR as "Jammin'" WHJM. Urban also shows up on the Providence AM dial, as WARL (1320 Attleboro MA) becomes "Power 1320."

Long Island gets a talk station, as WLUX (540 Islip) drops standards to go talk as WLIE.

In Danbury, Connecticut, oldies WAXB (105.5 Patterson NY) flips to hot AC "Y105" as WDBY, putting WDAQ (98.3) in its crosshairs, while over in Poughkeepsie WCZX (97.7), along with WZAD (97.3 Wurtsboro) in the Catskills, replace oldies with AC as "Mix 97," while AM sisters WEOK (1390 Poughkeepsie) and WALL (1340 Middletown) replace ESPN with Spanish programming. Albany's WHTR throws in the hot-talk towel, going to modern rock "K-Rock" as WKRD. Citadel replaces oldies with talk at WYOS (1360 Binghamton) and WKRT (920 Cortland). Outside of Rochester, WBJA (102.1 Albion) changes calls to WJCA after less than a year; over in Arcade, WNAR-LP (100.3) signs on with religion.

WUSS (1490 Pleasantville) brings back Atlantic City's oldies, replacing the gospel that it had been running; in Johnstown, WSPO (850) drops sports for country oldies as WLYE (sister station WVSC in Somerset also makes that flip). ESPN comes to State College on WMAJ (1450), which drops standards to go sports.

And the CBC celebrates 50 years of Canadian TV with a coast-to-coast party all month long.

New to the air: WNZS (1340) in Veazie, outside of Bangor, Maine, programming CNN headline news; WFNY (1440) in Gloversville, N.Y., testing with oldies; CHLX (97.1 Ottawa-Gatineau) with French classical; and new ethnic TV station "Omni.2" on channel 44 in Toronto, still without official calls at year's end.

OCTOBER: Citadel flips WZRI (100.3 Middletown RI) from Providence-targeted classic hits to New Bedford-market classic rock as WKKB. Up in Burlington, talk WKDR (1390) flips to classic country as WVAA. Digital radio comes to New York with the debut of "HD Radio" on WOR (710) October 11. The FCC cancels the construction permit for WKNJ (550 Harriman NY) once and for all.

Down on the Jersey Shore, WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton) flips from classic rock to AC as "the Breeze," while over in Harrisburg a judge takes Bruce Bond off the air. The FCC assigns new calls "WZZQ" to 88.3 in Chambersburg PA; up in Watertown, N.Y., WWJS (90.1) returns to the air after eleven months' absence.

On the TV side, WWAC (Channel 53) in Atlantic City says it'll turn off its low-power analog signal and go digital-only on channel 44, which has coverage into Philadelphia.

NOVEMBER: The spinning format wheel keeps on going at Citadel in Scranton, which cans local talk on WARM (590) and guts the talk format completely on WEOZ (95.7 Olyphant), which flips to a simulcast of CHR WBHT (97.1 Mountain Top) under new calls WBHD. Students at Long Island University protest the simulcast of WLIU (88.3 Southampton) on WCWP (88.1 Brookville), which is reduced to three hours a day of local student programming. Schenectady's WVKZ (1240) goes to talk from classic country.

Up in New Hampshire, WPXB (Channel 60) changes calls to WNEU, though with no sign of Telemundo programming yet. In Canada, "Mojo" CFYI (640 Toronto) takes new calls CFMJ, though you'd never know it to listen.

DECEMBER: "Jukebox Radio" disappears from W276AQ (103.1 Fort Lee NJ) and W232AL (94.3 Pomona NY) after a long run as the nation's most unusual translator operation (with programming fed from New Jersey to nominal primary WJUX 99.7 in Monticello N.Y.)

In Utica, Bill Keeler disappears from mornings at WRCK (107.3), and in Philadelphia Larry Kane announces his year-end retirement from KYW-TV (Channel 3). Tom Holt loses his job as PD of WWLI (105.1 Providence) after many successful years, and Hartford mourns the passing of radio legend Bob Steele.

Boston listeners get two new calls: WAZN replaces WSRO on 1470 Marlborough (soon to be Watertown), while the WSRO calls move down to 650 Ashland to replace WJLT. Up in New Hampshire, Bob Vinikoor applies to move WNTK (1020 Newport) back to its old 1010 spot on the dial.

In northern New Jersey, "Bear Country" replaces standards on WNNJ (1360 Newton). WURP (1550 Braddock) returns to the air with talk, while WHPA (93.5 Barnesboro) returns to AC as its modern-rock LMA comes to an end. And new WZZQ (88.3 Chambersburg) changes calls to WXZQ for no apparent reason.

After the usual round of holiday music all over the dial, the year ends with a burst of format changes. Entercom flips "Buzz" WBZJ (102.3 Pittston) and WBZH (103.1 Freeland) to classic rock "Mountain" WAMT/WDMT; Clear Channel flips Syracuse country simulcast WXBB (105.1 DeRuyter) to new rock "Dog" WWDG, Rochester rhythmic oldies WLCL (107.3 South Bristol) to classic rock "Fox" and Utica soft AC WRFM (93.5 Remsen) to oldies "Cool" WUCL. In Reading, standards give way to oldies at WRAW (1340), and in New Jersey, Zarephath's WAWZ replaces preachers with contemporary Christian.

New to the air: long-awaited "Aboriginal Voices Radio," CFIE (106.5 Toronto), on Dec. 2; religious CKSO (101.1 Sudbury); and a makeshift signal for WNYI (Channel 52) in Ithaca, just in time to beat the expiration of its construction permit.

In Memoriam

  • CASPER CITRON, longtime New York radio host, 82 (1/1)
  • JACK COLE, Boston news anchor, 63 (1/8)
  • EDDIE ZACK, WHIM Providence "Hayloft Jamboree" host, 79 (1/9)
  • DAN FOLEY, ABC-TV announcer, former DJ, 52 (1/18)
  • CARL COOPER, WICN Worcester host/board member, 73 (1/19)
  • JOHN WILLIS, former WCVB "Good Day" host (1/23)
  • PETER GZOWSKI, CBC host and Canadian writer, 67 (1/24)
  • "COUSIN BOB" WALKER, former WGAN Portland host, 59 (1/31)
  • DICK ALEXANDER, former WICC, WINE/WGHF jock, 74 (2/2)
  • BOB CLAYTON, veteran WHDH Boston announcer, 87 (2/4)
  • JOHNNY MICHAELS, WFAS Westchester morning host (2/9)
  • JAMES NORMOGLE ("JAY EDWARDS"), former WSUS owner, 66 (2/9)
  • HARVEY KIRCK, former CTV news anchor, 73 (2/18)
  • ROBERT HARTSHORN, former WIGS/WGIX/WRGR owner (2/27)
  • ART ROBERTS, former WKBW, WLS jock (3/6)
  • ZEKE ZDEBIAK, CHUM production guru (3/15)
  • JIM MORRIS, CFTR Toronto reporter, 43 (3/15)
  • JOHNNY LOMBARDI, CHIN Toronto founder, 86 (3/18)
  • REV. DR. CARL MCINTIRE, radio preacher, ex-WXUR owner, 95 (3/19)
  • UGO SAN ANTONIO ("HUGO ANTHONY"), former WCAP, WCCM, WHAV programmer, 78 (4/2)
  • HERBERT MICHELS, WKMB owner (April)
  • JIM RAKIEY, WBCN Boston chief engineer, 43 (4/25)
  • JACK CHASE, former WBZ-TV anchor, 85 (4/27)
  • ERNIE COOPER, WOMR Provincetown DJ and legendary DXer, 83 (4/28)
  • JOHN NICOLSON, former WJDA Quincy station manager, 59 (6/1)
  • BILL (SURMICK) MACK, Binghamton polka host, 85 (6/1)
  • AL JULIUS, former KDKA-TV Pittsburgh commentator, 73 (6/28)
  • TOM DEVOE, WCTK/WNBH-WWRI Providence GM, 50 (6/29)
  • MURIEL HORENSTEIN, former WBAB/WNYG Long Island owner (7/1)
  • AL CAPPANELLI, former WGIR Manchester newsman, 71 (7/1)
  • PAUL LONG, former KDKA-TV, WTAE-TV Pittsburgh anchor, 86 (7/12)
  • GORD SINCLAIR, CJAD Montreal host, 74 (7/12)
  • FRED HILLEGAS, longtime WSYR-TV Syracuse news director, 85 (7/15)
  • NED MARTIN, former Red Sox announcer, 78 (7/23)
  • CHRIS BRACKEN, NH Public Radio reporter, 48 (8/3)
  • SANDY HOYT, former CHFI Toronto DJ (8/5)
  • BILL HOWARD, WKVT-FM Brattleboro PD, 38 (8/30)
  • BILL ROBERTS, former CJAD announcer, 74 (Sept.)
  • AUSTIN LANE, CKVI Kingston faculty advisor (9/4)
  • ED SCALA, former WNBF, WINR Binghamton news director, 83 (9/6)
  • GREG (LAMBIASE) ALLEN, WHEC Rochester announcer, 52 (9/11)
  • RON LANDRY, former WDRC, WBZ DJ (9/16)
  • JOEL GORDON, CINW Montreal traffic reporter, 40 (9/18)
  • JACK BURGHARDT, former CHCH, CFPL-TV newsman, 73 (9/28)
  • BRAD TIFFANY, WSCY Moultonborough NH founder (9/29)
  • HOWARD GREEN, longtime NJ station owner, 72 (9/29)
  • MIKE BROOKS, former CFCY Charlottetown PD, 41 (9/30)
  • WALTER ANNENBERG, former WFIL/WFBG/WNBF owner, TV Guide founder, diplomat, 94 (10/1)
  • TED BLACKMAN, CKGM Montreal morning host, 60 (10/2)
  • N. THOMAS EATON, longtimeWTIC/WFSB Hartford news director, 86 (10/16)
  • EARL WARREN, former CFRB, current CHWO Toronto host, 69 (10/19)
  • DARRIAN CHAPMAN, former Buffalo sports anchor, 37 (10/30)
  • LARRY ANDERSON, former WGR Buffalo GM (11/4)
  • JOHN LYNKER, former WEEI Boston, WTOP Washington reporter, 75 (11/12)
  • ROB STODDARD, WDCX Buffalo PM drive host (11/16)
  • ERIK VAN NESS, WKXW Trenton imaging director, 28 (11/19)
  • JEFF SCHEIDECKER, former WGGB Springfield operations manager, WTVH/WIXT Syracuse producer, 40 (11/26)
  • JEFF LALUMIERE, former Tele-Media Providence chief engineer (11/29)
  • ANDY ANDERSEN, WMCA New York talk host, former Rochester anchor, 80 (11/30)
  • LES ARRIES, longtime WBEN-TV/WIVB Buffalo GM, DuMont executive, 77 (12/1)
  • BOB STEELE, WTIC Hartford radio legend, 91 (12/6)
  • TOM FULTON, CHWO Toronto morning co-host, 58 (12/9)
  • CARL REDHEAD, CFXJ Toronto vice president/general manager (12/22)
  • BRIAN SINCLAIR, WHRB "Hillbilly at Harvard" host, 62 (12/28)

AND here to continue our Year in Review with the Year-End Rant!

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