January 24, 2005
NERW's big 2004 Year in Review - now
available! Click here!
CRTC Okays Corus-Astral Deal
*It's been an exceptionally quiet week on
the U.S. side of the border (and it didn't help that the FCC
had two days off, either), but at least our friends up in CANADA at
the CRTC had a busy few days.
The big headline from north of the border was Friday's approval
of the C$11,000,000 deal that will put the Radiomedia chain of
Quebec AM signals in the hands of Corus, which is trading them
for five small-market FM stations that will join the Astral Media
The transaction closes the books on nearly three years of
false starts and unconsummated dealmaking that began when Astral
(successor to the Radiomutuel group) bought out Telemedia's half
of its joint partnership in Radiomedia, which includes flagship
CKAC (730 Montreal), CJRC (1150 Gatineau/Ottawa), CHRC (800 Quebec),
CHLN (550 Trois-Rivieres), CHLT (630 Sherbrooke), CKTS (900 Sherbrooke)
and CKRS (590 Saguenay), along with CFOM-FM (102.9 Levis) in
the Quebec City market. In most of those markets, Astral already
had one FM signal, and the addition of the FMs that it also got
from Telemedia meant that the AM chain had to be spun off. A
plan to sell it to CKAC management fell through, and so did an
attempt to sell it to a partnership between the TVA television
network and Radio Nord.
Now the stations are finally leaving the Astral fold and being
transferred to Corus, which plans some big changes. Corus already
operates a news-talker in Montreal, CHMP (98.5), which won official
CRTC blessing for the talk format as part of the approval of
the Radiomedia transaction, and it plans to flip CKAC to a format
that's heavy on sports and "health" programming, with
none of the political talk that's long been a hallmark of Quebec's
oldest French-language radio station. (Corus tells the CRTC that
it believes "general interest AM radio is a thing of the
past," at least in major markets.)
In Quebec, CHRC will take on a sports format. The Gatineau,
Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivieres stations will take on a news-heavy
format, fed largely from Corus' CINF (690) in Montreal. (Corus
plans to establish a central newsroom in Montreal to service
CINF, CKAC and CHMP, as well as providing news to the regional
stations.) And CKRS up in Saguenay is apparently doing well enough
to stay largely unchanged.
The other half of the deal finds Astral picking up five Corus
FMs. CFVM (99.9 Amqui) and CFZZ (104.1 St.-Jean-Iberville) will
join Astral's "Boom" oldies network; CJDM (92.1 Drummondville)
and CIKI (98.7 Rimouski) will join the "Energie" hits
network, and CJOI (102.9 Rimouski) will join the "Rock Detente"
soft rock network.
A few Ontario tidbits, thanks to our friends at Milkman
UnLimited: CJIQ (88.3 Kitchener) station manager Mark Burley
(who's also heard on CKKW Oldies 1090 and CFCA Kool 105.3) is
moving west, where he'll become group program director for Standard
Radio's cluster of stations in the British Columbia interior.
In Toronto, Scot Turner (formerly of CFNY and CING) takes over
afternoons at "Jack FM" CJAQ (92.5). And in Ottawa,
CFRA (580) assistant PD Steve Winogron takes on news director
duties as well.
Sorry to report the death of Don Holtby, who spent four decades
with the CHUM group before retiring last year as VP/sales of
its Ottawa stations. Holtby, who was better known for his years
as general manager of the Ottawa Rough Riders football team,
died last Sunday (Jan. 16) at age 67.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, Boston University
says it's getting ready to exercise more control over WBUR-FM
(90.9), the public broadcaster that's long operated almost entirely
autonomously from the university. The Boston Globe reports
that BU is waiting for a consultant's report next month before
it begins making changes at the station; whatever involvement
BU takes in WBUR management is likely to be mostly administrative,
and the station's programming shouldn't be affected much.
There's a new morning host at WBOQ (104.9 Gloucester), as
Larry Burnham heads to the North Shore from his previous gig
doing traffic on WBZ. Former WBOQ newsman Kendall Buhl has taken
Burnham's midday traffic job on WBZ, meanwhile.
We hear the sale of WORC (1310 Worcester) to Antonio Gois
has closed; the station's already broadcasting in Spanish, and
it will stay that way.
Out west, Laura Freed is out as GM of Vox's WBEC/WUPE/WUHN
Pittsfield, WMNB/WNAW North Adams and WSBS Great Barrington.
neat community radio station in northwest CONNECTICUT
will stay in local hands as it gets sold. Scott Johnson has reached
a deal to sell WKZE (1020 Sharon) and WKZE-FM (98.1 Salisbury)
to Will Stanley of Rhinebeck, N.Y.
Anyone concerned about a change to WKZE's AAA format need
have no worries - Stanley created one of the region's first AAAs
at the old (and much-missed) WKXE (95.3 White River Junction
VT), then repeated the feat at WRSI (95.3 Greenfield MA) a few
Johnson tells the Poughkeepsie Journal that his law
practice is keeping him too busy to give WKZE the attention it
needs. No purchase price has yet been disclosed.
Over in New Haven, there's a new lineup on top 40 "KC101"
(WKCI 101.3 Hamden), as afternoon guy Michael Maze and PD Chaz
Kelly take over the vacant morning slot. Jagger moves to afternoons
*As we write this week's column, we're snowed
in down in the NEW YORK City area, and it was a quiet,
quiet week here - except, perhaps, at WOR (710), where food show
host Rocco DiSpirito was off the air for a couple of days after
accidentally letting slip the "F" word while doing
a remote broadcast from Los Angeles. (He's expected to be back
on the air today.)
On the Spanish part of the dial, PD Bryan Melendez is out
at Univision Radio's WCAA (105.9 Newark NJ)/WZAA (92.7 Garden
In Syracuse, Frank Kracher takes over from Loren Tobia as
news director at WTVH (Channel 5), replacing the departing Loren
Tobia. Kracher comes from WLOS (Channel 13) in Asheville, N.C.;
former WLOS GM Les Vann is now WTVH's GM. On the radio dial,
the Sunday night "Homegrown" show has ended a decade-long
run on WTKW (99.5 Bridgeport)/WTKV (105.5 Oswego), victim of
rising rates for the time it was leasing on the "TK"
stations. The show's producer/host, Eric Will, says he hopes
to bring the show back on another station soon.
And if the WOKR calls are indeed coming to the Utica market,
they're not there yet - when we passed through last week, "the
River" was still ID'ing as WUCL (93.5 Remsen).
*One NEW JERSEY shift change: WMGQ
(98.3 New Brunswick) drops the evening show that David Allan
Boucher had been tracking from sister "Magic" station
WMJX (106.7 Boston); Leeza Gibbons' syndicated show replaces
Boucher weeknights at 7.
*We're pleased to announce the return
of the NERW Classifieds after a long absence. If you're
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*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/fybush.com. 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!)
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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2005 by Scott Fybush.