August 23, 2004
Rochester Loses Pete Dobrovitz
*It was a week of obituaries, and you'll
forgive us, we hope, if we begin our report in NEW YORK and
remember one of the editor's former bosses, Pete Dobrovitz, who
died Tuesday (August 17) at 51.
Pete's long career in Rochester TV news began in 1975, when
he graduated from Marquette University and went to work for WROC-TV
(Channel 8). Over the next fifteen years, he hit the "grand
slam" of local TV news, as he'd later put it, working as
well for WOKR (Channel 13), where he launched the station's 5:30
newscast, and for WHEC-TV (Channel 10), where he served as the
station's "Action Team" reporter.
Then, in 1990, he made the big move from broadcast to cable,
joining what was then Greater Rochester Cablevision to create
a 10 PM newscast for cable-only indie "WGRC-TV 5."
Pete then built his daily half-hour into something new called
"R News," expanding it to six hours daily, then 12,
then swallowing the rest of the station (by then "GRC 9")
completely to become a 24-hour local cable news channel in July
1995, something utterly unprecedented in a market as small as
Rochester. (Only New York's New York 1 was doing 24-hour local
And it's largely Pete's fault that you're now reading "NorthEast
Radio Watch" and not "New England Radio Watch,"
for it was his job offer in late 1996 that moved me from Boston's
WBZ to R News. Ironically, Pete was gone from R News just days
after my arrival, the result of a disupte over editorial independence,
a recurring problem in a newsroom owned by a cable company with
no real experience in doing news.
But what he left behind was awfully impressive - the kind
of TV newsroom that reporters and photographers dream of working
at. Pete wasn't big on fancy sets or graphics, he loathed "personality"
promos, but he placed a huge value on quality storytelling, giving
his staff the time and resources they needed to cover their community
deeply and honestly, wuthout ever needing to worry about ratings.
(It says something, especially in a mid-seventies-size market,
that four of the original photog staffers, several reporter/anchors
and a number of producers and crew members who started with WGRC
back in 1990 are still there almost 15 years later; others have
moved on to bigger things everywhere from Schenectady to Louisville
to Cleveland to Minneapolis to Denver to North Carolina's public
Pete left broadcast news after R News - what do you do next
after you've built your dream newsroom, after all? - and after
taking a stab at consulting, landed a job as executive director
of the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters office.
Alas, Pete's health was never good. He underwent kidney transplants
in 1986 (which he covered on WHEC), again in the mid-nineties
(which he covered on R News) and once again just a few years
ago, and he had reportedly spent the last few months in the hospital.
It was typical Pete that he didn't want a funeral; instead,
his friends will gather Tuesday night to remember him at a party.
obituary this week comes from Buffalo, where Warren P. Smith,
Jr., known to viewers and listeners as "Clip," was
killed Saturday (8/21) in a car crash in Niagara County.
Smith began his broadcast career in the sixties at WUSJ (now
WLVL) in Lockport, then went to Buffalo's WKBW-TV (Channel 7),
where he did sports from 1971 until 1988. From there he returned
to radio, working at WGR (550) for a decade and then at WBEN
(930) until his job was eliminated in a cost-cutting move in
Smith was also active in politics, running for mayor of Lockport
and serving on both the city council and the school board there.
Clip Smith was 63.
*Some non-obituary news from around the Empire State this
week: WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays) will pay homage to its namesake,
the old WLIR (92.7 Garden City), with a tribute on Labor Day
weekend that will bring back the station's original jocks, music
In New York City, WNEW (Mix 102.7) moves Rick Stacy from afternoons
into morning drive, with a co-host to be named later (but strongly
rumored to be RuPaul). Efron Sifuentes will follow from 9 to
1, then Carol Ford from 1 to 4 and Paco Lopez from 4 to 8.
Translator news: Family Life Network has been granted new
translators at 94.7 (W234AZ) in Brighton, 95.9 (W240BP) in Spencerport
and 94.1 (W231BK) in Oswego, further crowding the already-jammed
upstate FM dial.
Down in Avon, WYSL (1040)'s application for a power boost
to 20 kW daytime has been dismissed, but we don't think we've
seen the last of Bob Savage's attempts to raise power there.
On the TV dial, WHEC-TV (Channel 10) finally launched its
new on-air look late last Sunday night. Over in Syracuse, WTVH
(Channel 5) spent the weekend off the air, apparently suffering
problems with its antenna up there in Sentinel Heights.
And speaking of TV, a license to cover was issued last week
for WMHT-DT (Channel 34) in Schenectady.
*A veteran of the NEW HAMPSHIRE broadcast
scene has died. Maury Parent was closely associated with both
of Nashua's AM stations over the years, first at WOTW (900/106.3),
then moving over to WSMN (1590) when WOTW went dark in the eighties,
then returning to the revived AM 900 under its later incarnations
as WMVU, WOTW and WSNH. (Most recently, he was hosting the morning
show on WSMN.) Parent served as GM of both stations at one time
or another, but was probably best known for his weekend show
that served the area's large Francophone population. (It's heard
on WSNH.) He was on his way to a remote Thursday when he suffered
a heart attack and died behind the wheel; he was 72.
Up in Manchester, Charlie Sherman is the new host of the morning
show on WGIR (610), which is simulcast on WTSL 1400 Lebanon,
WGIP 1540 Exeter and WGIN 930 Rochester. Sherman, last seen as
sports anchor on WMUR (Channel 9), replaces Mike Ball, whose
last show was August 11.
*In MAINE, WGAN (560 Portland) has
filled the morning slot left empty by the death of Mike McCardle.
Mike Violette left WVOM (103.9 Howland) on Friday and will start
at WGAN August 30.
*Some LPFM action in VERMONT: the
FCC has accepted applications from Green Mountain Broadcasting
(106.9 Wilmington), Peace and Justice Center (105.9 Burlington)
and Christian Hill Educational Fellowship (106.7 Halifax); if
no objections are received within 30 days, those stations will
get construction permits.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, WBIX (1060 Natick)
has won program test authority from the FCC, allowing it to begin
using its new night facilities at reduced power.
Out west, the "Quinn and Cantara" morning show is
history at WLZX (99.3 Northampton), with the Saga modern rocker
dismissing the pair after last Tuesday's show. Quinn had been
at the station (then WHMP-FM) since 1998; Cantara since 2000.
*In southern NEW JERSEY, WXXY (88.7
Port Republic) flipped from its distinctive all-80s format to
ABC's satellite-delivered "Rejoice" black gospel programming
last week. The station's website says it hopes to bring back
the 80s pop as a streaming service soon.
*A PENNSYLVANIA radio station owner
will go to trial on charges that he molested a young boy. A judge
upheld all of the 19 counts against Doug Lane, owner of WWDL
(104.9 Scranton)/WICK (1400 Scranton)/WYCK (1340 Plains), last
week. Lane is free on bail while his case is being heard.
Over on the other end of the state, Corry Broadcasting's WEYZ
(1530 North East) is changing hands. It's now WYNE, and it's
simulcasting Mercyhurst College fine arts outlet WMCE (88.5 Erie)
- though former sister station WWCB (1370 Corry) continues to
ID "WEYZ North East" at the top of the hour, too!
Two new Pennsylvania FM allocations have been reserved for
noncommercial use. 107.5A at Liberty and 93.3A at Susquehanna
will show up in a future window for noncommercial applications.
On the LPFM front, the FCC clears an application from "M&M
Community Development - Pittsburgh" for 103.9 in Springdale,
and if no objections are received in 30 days, that application
will be granted. (NERW notes: we'd thought most of M&M's
many LPFM applications around the country had been withdrawn
after questions arose about possible violations of the "one-to-an-owner"
Meanwhile over in translator land, the FCC grants Family Life
Network four new ones: W284BG (104.7 Lewisburg), W272BO (102.3
Coudersport), W277BJ (103.3 Cogan Station) and W279BK (103.7
of CANADA's newest TV stations is being sold off as part
of CHUM's purchase of Craig Media. CHUM had to spin off CKXT
(Channel 52), aka "Toronto 1," to avoid going over
the ownership limits, and now it's agreed to sell the struggling
station to two of Quebecor Media's subsidiaries. TVA, the French-language
commercial network, will get 75% of the station, while Sun Media,
which owns the Toronto Sun, will get the remainder. CHUM
will get C$46 million, plus the 29.9% of the CityPulse 24 news
channel that Sun now owns. No word yet on Quebecor's plans for
the channel once the deal closes.
North of Toronto, the CRTC granted CKMB (107.5 Barrie) a change
of frequency to 107.7. "Star 107" will stay at 17 kW
average ERP, but it will get to move its antenna south by 22
km. CKDO (1350 Oshawa) had also applied for 107.7, for a low-power
FM relay to cover the city, and the CRTC granted its application
on the condition that it apply for a different frequency, likely
Speaking of 107s, CJTN-FM (107.1 Quinte West) officially launched
last week as "Lite 107," with pretty much the same
AC format it had been using on AM 1270. The AM signal will go
away in a few months.
Over on the AM dial, the programming shift away from "guy
talk" at CFMJ (Mojo 640) in Toronto continues this week,
with Ross Macleod being joined by former Toronto police union
president Craig Bromell for a new 10-noon show called "The
And Aboriginal Voices Radio has been given an extension (until
October 2) to find a frequency for its new Montreal station.
AVR had applied for 100.1, but the CRTC awarded that channel
to another applicant, telling AVR it could have a license if
it could find another available frequency.
*Finally, we know it's now August
- but perhaps a bargain price will convince you that you still
need a 2004 calendar. After all, the 2004 Tower Site Calendar is
more than just a bunch of boxes with dates in them - it's also
a collection of some of the niftiest broadcast transmission facilities
in North America.
on the way for later this year are WMT Cedar Rapids IA, WPTF
Raleigh NC, WAJR Morgantown WV, the mighty 12-tower night site
of 1190 in Dallas (KFXR, at least this week), Lookout Mountain
in Denver (shown at left), CKLW in Windsor and WBT in Charlotte,
not to mention lots of fun anniversary dates for stations large
(Channel 9 in New York) and small (WFAR Farrell PA).
And as we get ready to put the 2005 edition of the calendar
into production, we're offering a special deal to clear out our
stock of 2004 calendars. For just $8 postpaid (New York
orders add 66 cents sales tax for a total of $8.66), you can
still own a 2004 Tower Site Calendar.
Maybe you need an extra for the office, or you've marked up
your copy and you'd like a pristine one to stash away, or perhaps
you've been meaning to get one as a gift for that special someone.
Or perhaps you're just cheap (hey, this is radio, after
all!) Doesn't matter; the point is, this is your best chance
to get a 2004 Tower Site Calendar at a bargain price.
Order this week, and we'll even throw in a third calendar,
free, if you order two. (That's $16 postpaid, $17.32 in
New York State!)
We'll also throw in an extra calendar, free, for anyone
who subscribes to NERW at the $60 level. Remember, your support
is what keeps NERW coming to you week after week.
Now what more could you want? Perhaps a 2005 calendar, chock-full
of pretty pictures of stations like WBBR, KXNT, WDEL and WDEV?
Just hang tight - next year's edition will be available for ordering
next week - and it will ship right after Labor
Don't want to order by credit card? You know the drill by
now - make those checks payable to "Scott Fybush,"
be sure to include sales tax ($0.66 per calendar) for New York
state calendar orders only, and send them along to 92 Bonnie
Brae Avenue, Rochester NY 14618. (Sorry - we can't take orders
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2004 by Scott Fybush.