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2004 In Review

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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 group.

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.

*A 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 years later.

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 from nights.

*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 City).

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.

NERW Classifieds

*We're pleased to announce the return of the NERW Classifieds after a long absence. If you're looking to reach thousands of broadcast professionals in the Northeastern U.S., eastern Canada and beyond (more than 70,000 hits every Monday alone!), there's no more economical way to do it. Rates start at just $5/week for a 50-word ad, and the fifth week is always free when you pay for four. Click here to learn more...and read on for this week's ads:

  • 19yr broadcast veteran with exceptionally smooth pipes, looking to voice your next project! Unique, conversational delivery. Commercials, radio/tv imaging, narration, on-hold messages, spokesperson. Home studio. Delivery via MP3, CD. 24 hour turnaround in most cases. Dry or produced. Gary Begin Voice Talent (731) 424-5025. 2/21 

*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.