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2004 In Review

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January 10, 2005

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No "Love" for Albany

*In last week's NERW, we wondered what was up with the ongoing Christmas music on what had been the smooth jazz/adult R&B station for NEW YORK's capital district, and now we know: Pamal has pulled the plug on the "Love 104.9" format at WZMR (104.9 Altamont), replacing it - apparently as more than just a stunt - with a simulcast of country "Froggy 107" WFFG (107.1 Corinth) from the Glens Falls market. It's a slight shot across the bow of Regent's market-dominating WGNA (107.7 Albany), though the WZMR signal is a far cry from WGNA's big stick.

Citadel's fight with Howard Stern is over, at least on the air in Syracuse, Providence, New Bedford and York, Pennsylvania; those stations (WAQX 95.7 Manlius NY, WWKX 106.3 Woonsocket RI/WAKX 102.7 Narragansett Pier RI, WKKB 100.3 Middletown RI and WQXA-FM 105.7 York PA) hadn't been carrying Stern's show, for the most part, since he began his vacation last month, and last week they announced that they're dropping it for good. In Syracuse, WAQX continues to run day-old Opie & Anthony segments, and read on to see what the others are up to...

Buffalo's top 40 WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls) starts the new year without its longtime PD. After 17 years at "Kiss," Dave Universal didn't return from his vacation last week, having been ousted by station owner Entercom. A memo announcing the change was reportedly circulating at Entercom Buffalo before Universal had even gotten the news directly; no replacement has yet been named.

Down the Thruway in Rochester, a veteran programmer is coming home to WCMF (96.5) and its Infinity sister stations WZNE, WPXY and WRMM. Stan Main programmed 'CMF from 1986 until 1996. He'd been consulting before Infinity tapped him to fill the shoes of former Rochester VP/programming John McCrae, who was sent packing amidst a payola issue last month. (NERW's amused, but far from surprised, to note that the local excuse for a daily paper reported Main's hiring in a business brief, carefully avoiding any mention of McCrae, whose dismissal made the New York Times but never saw a drop of ink in the local paper...)

The big news from New York City was the changing of the guard, yet again, at "Mix 102.7" (WNEW), where Frankie Blue's stint as PD is now over, following a post-holiday-party airshift in which he called the station "KTU" and sounded more than a bit pickled. Replacing him is former assistant PD (and current APD at WCBS-FM) Rick Martini, who's certainly come a long way from his days here in Rochester at WPXY all those years ago.

Inner City Broadcasting's WBLS (107.5 New York) starts the new year with a modified format - it's now "Today's R&B and Classic Soul," shedding the hip-hop that had been part of its format and launching a full-on assault against Emmis' WRKS (Kiss 98.7). Afternoon jock Wendy Williams (whose style leans towards the hip-hop side of the spectrum, and who's syndicated to several other hip-hop heavy stations) gets an extra hour added to her shift, which now runs 2-7 PM, while "PM in the AM" debuts today with Paul Mooney, Ann Tripp, Mark Jordan and former "Saturday Night Live" comedian Ellen Cleghorne. They'll have just one week before facing the tough competition of former WQHT (97.1) morning team Star and Buc Wild, who return to New York's airwaves Jan. 17 at WWPR (105.1).

Over at WEPN (1050 New York), there's a shuffling of the schedule to report: the ESPN outlet moves former afternoon duo "Wally and the Keeg" to the 10 AM-1 PM slot, with Michael Kay taking over the 4-7 PM airshift.

After a long run at Utica's "Kiss" stations, Stew Schantz has exited his OM post at Clear Channel's WSKS (97.9 Whitesboro)/WSKU (105.5 Little Falls) and its sister stations. "Kiss" afternoon jock Stephen Lawrence becomes the new PD there, as well as for "Mix" sister station WUMX (102.5 Rome), while Tom Starr resumes his PD role at rock WOUR (96.9 Utica) and "River" WOKR (93.5 Remsen).

WOKR Remsen?!?!?! Sounds weird to us, too, but that's apparently where Clear Channel is parking the calls that are, as of this morning, gone from Rochester's channel 13 after just over 42 years at that spot as the only calls the ABC affiliate ever had. At 5 AM Monday, WOKR(TV) became WHAM-TV, with original WOKR announcer Jerry Carr (now station manager at West Palm Beach public broadcaster WXEL) signing off the old calls for the final time. Still sounds weird to us...

Speaking of Rochester, Jeremy Newman moves from evenings to morning-show producer; no replacement's been picked yet for that night gig.

*A station sale in NEW JERSEY: WJSE (102.7 Petersburg) changes hands from Parinello Enterprises to Access.1 Communications for a reported $5 million, putting modern rock "Digital 102.7" under common ownership with the Jersey Shore's WMGM (103.7 Atlantic City), WOND (1400 Pleasantville), WUSS (1490 Pleasantville) and WTKU (98.3 Ocean City), as well as NBC affiliate WMGM-TV (Channel 40) in Wildwood.

*The WCBG call letters live on in PENNSYLVANIA, even if their old home on 1590 in Chambersburg is now gone; station owner M. Belmont VerStandig Inc. moves those calls to the former WHGT (1380 Waynesboro), plugging in ESPN sports to replace 1380's former simulcast of hot AC "Star 92.1" WSRT (92.1 Mercersburg).

In Pittsburgh, WRRK (96.9 Braddock) ended a couple of weeks of stunting last Thursday by flipping"The New 97RRK, Rock Without Rules," with a rock playlist somewhat expanded from its former "Channel 97" identity and a website that still shows "Channel 97" and a big "UNDER CONSTRUCTION."

Brett Beshore has departed as GM of Greater Media's oldies WPEN (950 Philadelphia).

In York, WQXA-FM (105.7) replaces Howard Stern with Nipsey (moving from mornings) and Earl. Down the road in Gettysburg, WGTY (107.7) MD/morning host Brad Austin is now PD as well, replacing John Pellegrini.

On TV, Corrie Harding (inbound from WBNS-TV in Columbus) is the new ND at Pittsburgh's WPXI (Channel 11), replacing Pat Maday, who's now consulting for Magid.

*Saga kicked off 2005 by swapping calls and formats on two of its stations in the Keene, NEW HAMPSHIRE market: oldies WOQL (98.7 Winchester) takes the "Wink Country" format and WINQ calls from 97.7 Winchendon MA, sending the oldies and WOQL calls across the state line to 97.7. The new WINQ on 98.7 challenges market leader WYRY (104.9 Hinsdale) in the format, and from its new transmitter site in Fitzwilliam, we hear WOQL on 97.7 is putting quite a good signal over Keene, too.

Over in Concord, WKXL (1450) is going more local; Laura Schlessinger has been replaced with two hours of entertainment talk with Tony Schinella, while Jim Rome gives way to "NH Now" with Gardner Hill and a roster of five other local shows - and Laura Ingraham will be off the station soon, we're told.

*Two new translators are on the air in VERMONT: W243AT (96.5 Barre) fills in some of the signal holes of WDEV-FM (96.1 Warren) in Barre and Montpelier, transmitting from the Thunder Road speedway at Quarry Hill. And down in Brattleboro, Vermont Public Radio fills in a longstanding signal deficiency with the debut of W233AR (94.5), bringing the signal from WVPR (89.5 Windsor) down the valley to southeastern Vermont.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, WROR (105.7 Framingham) and afternoon jock Tai have parted ways; no word yet on where the Boston veteran (who spent many years at WFNX) might be landing next. Also out, after a very brief run, is WBOQ (104.9 Gloucester) morning man Bill Wightman, who just moved to WBOQ last fall from his morning gig at WXKS (1430 Everett). And at WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford), Kory's out of the night shift.

WUMB (91.9 Boston) has given its morning show a new identity for the new year. As of today, the 6-10 AM slot is now "The Morning Express," with a rotating cast of co-hosts joining Dick Pleasants. (GM Pat Monteith, middayer Marilyn Rea Beyer, music director Sarah Wardrop and PD Brian Quinn will be among them.) The show will also include live interviews and performances with folk musicians, segments on folk music history and more; it'll be produced by Darrell Penta, with Sara Boudreau assisting.

We're sorry to report the passing of Norm Resha, who'd been a co-host of "Calling All Sports" (most recently heard on WTKK 96.9, but long a Sunday-afternoon staple at WBZ) since 1991, when he revived the show after a long absence. (Its original run on WBZ, presided over by Guy Mainella, began in 1969 and lasted about a decade.) Resha had suffered a heart attack; he died Friday (Jan. 7) of complications following bypass surgery. He was 59.

(And a Tuesday evening note: we'd referred to "the late" Guy Mainella when this item was originally posted - but his son checked in to let us know that Guy's alive and well and enjoying his retirement in New Hampshire. Glad to hear it!)

Resha's former "Calling All Sports" co-host, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) sports director Bob Lobel, remained off the air as we went to press Sunday night, and it's still not clear when or if he'll be back. The station says he's taking some personal time, but the status of his contract remains up in the air (and it probably didn't help when Lobel's marital problems were aired in the Boston papers a few weeks back, either.) Will Lobel be back on the air for the Patriots' first playoff game next Sunday? Stay tuned...

Speaking of WBZ, its 10 PM newscast on sister station WSBK (Channel 38) goes off the air after next Sunday (Jan. 16), replaced by reruns of "Dr. Phil." Anchor Ted Wayman moves to WSBK's 7-8 AM newscast, while his colleague Sara Underwood will keep the other half of her shift, co-anchoring WBZ's 4 PM news. And we note that the new schedule on the radio side has debuted, with the WBZ Afternoon News now running until 8 o'clock on weeknights, followed by four hours of Paul Sullivan until Steve LeVeille takes over at midnight.

Over in North Adams, the firing of veteran WNAW/WMNB weatherman George Trottier stirred up plenty of bad press in the community - and it didn't take long for Vox to relent; after just a few days last week, the stations put Trottier back on the air, filing weather forecasts from his home as he'd been doing for the last 35 years. (Trottier, who's legally blind, earned $300 a month from the stations for his three daily forecasts.)

In Springfield, Don Imus is gone from WNNZ (640 Westfield) after more than a decade; ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" replace the I-Man (who can still be heard in much of the area on flagship WFAN.)

Courtney Quinn's the new midday (10-3) jock on WLZX (99.3 Northampton), and she's also the new music director for modern rock "Lazer," moving up from WXMM (100.5 Norfolk VA) in Virginia Beach.

*The demise of the Howard Stern show in RHODE ISLAND moves "Hot 106" (WWKX 106.3 Woonsocket) to "Most Music in the Mornings," with Joey Foxx handling the shift - and the incongruity of Stern on a hip-hop station now a thing of the past.

*In CONNECTICUT, the interim morning show on WKCI (101.3 Hamden) features PD Chaz Kelly and afternoon drive jock Michael Maze.

*Up in CANADA, friends and fans of legendary jock Tom Rivers will remember him this Saturday (Jan. 15) at a memorial at Seneca College near Toronto. Details on the event are at Rivers' website,

And over at Toronto's "Jack FM" (CJAQ 92.5), Milkman UnLimited reports that the entire airstaff - except for morning jock Rob Christie and two weekenders - was sent packing last week.

*We're busy shipping out the Tower Site Calendar 2005 to radio fans from coast to coast and far beyond (would you believe New Zealand?)

Didn't find one under the tree this year? That's OK - we've still got plenty, and we're shipping them out daily.

This year's calendar begins with WSTW/WDEL in Wilmington, Delaware on the cover, ends with Sutro Tower in San Francisco on the inside back cover - and along the way makes stops at WNBF in Binghamton, CFNB in Fredericton, Poor Mountain in Roanoke, KXNT in Las Vegas, WBBR in New York, Gibraltar Peak above Santa Barbara, WDEV in Waterbury, Vermont, WRIB in Providence, WOOD in Grand Rapids, KFJZ in Fort Worth, KYPA in Los Angeles and the top of Chicago's Hancock Tower.

(You can see some previews of this year's calendar images at Tower Site of the Week - where the archive listing's newly updated!)

We're holding the price from last year, notwithstanding increases in printing costs and PayPal fees - just $16 postpaid ($17.32 including sales tax to New York addresses). And as always, it's free with your $60 or higher subscription to NorthEast Radio Watch/ You can use PayPal, below, or send your check or money order, payable to Scott Fybush, to 92 Bonnie Brae Avenue, Rochester NY 14618. (Please note that the prices below are valid for U.S. and Canadian orders only; please e-mail for information about overseas shipping.)

And here's an even better deal - We still have plenty of 2004 calendars left, so how about this? For just $20 postpaid ($21.65 in New York), we'll send you both the 2005 and 2004 editions. It's almost like getting an extra calendar free! (Or, if you just need the 2004 edition, that's still on clearance at $8 - and if you buy two 2004 calendars, your third is free!)

Order the 2005 Tower Site Calendar for $16...
Order the 2005 and 2004 Tower Site Calendars together for just $20...
...or subscribe to NERW at the $60 level and get a FREE 2005 Tower Site Calendar
...and you can still order the 2004 Tower Site Calendar at our special clearance price of $8! (US and Canada only - e-mail us for overseas ordering information.)

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 (8.25%) 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 by phone.)

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NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please click here to learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW is copyright 2005 by Scott Fybush.