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Remembering Bruds (and Y100, too)

*BOSTON - If the measure of a man is in the lives he touched, then the late David Brudnoy lived a full life indeed. On Sunday afternoon, Brudnoy's friends - and even his casual listeners on WBZ (1030) counted themselves as friends - lined up around the block to fill the Cutler Majestic Theater for a tribute to one of the most eclectic personalities ever to grace a microphone.

For two and a half hours, the crowd - including Boston mayor Tom Menino and other local notables - heard from friends and family across the many facets of Brudnoy's life.

"He did all things all the way," said Peter Meade, Brudnoy's close friend and former WBZ host, as he introduced the speakers.

To judge from the stories Brudnoy's family shared, that was a trait that distinguished David as far back as his childhood in Minnesota. His cousin Rachel Brudnoy shared the tale of how a 12 year old Brudnoy worked the phones and persuaded a Minneapolis hotel, a car dealer and a luxury restaurant to prepare for the state visit of a fictional "Grand Emir of Aden."

Brudnoy's doctors spoke of the incredible strength that brought him back to life after the 1994 illness that left him all but dead. Several of his students at Boston University spoke of the energy, enthusiasm and wit he brought to the classroom, including his attack on the use of the word "like" in students' speech.

In the last years of his life, Brudnoy was adopted by the Emerson College chapter of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity, whose members were in turn adopted by "Brother Bruds," who brought them into the whirl of what student Roman Sturgis called "the Brudnoy-centric universe."

Brudnoy's former producer, Kevin Myron, shared the nickname that the erudite, scholarly Brudnoy bestowed on him ("Yo"), saying Brudnoy's direction to him when planning the memorial service was,"Yo, make it something I'd like to be at."

There's no question that Brudnoy ("whose favorite topic was David Brudnoy," as one speaker said) would have laughed and cried along with the crowd at the Majestic, especially as his longtime partner Ward Cromer closed out the afternoon with his stories of life and travel with Bruds.

One of Brudnoy's few unfulfilled wishes in a life he lived with incredible fullness was to visit India and the Taj Mahal, a wish Cromer said he'll fulfill later this year when he travels there to sprinkle some of David's ashes at the site.

And in thanking those who mattered most to David, it's worth noting that Cromer singled out the callers, the "vox populi" who carried on a dialogue that lasted for decades. Cromer spoke movingly of Brudnoy's final show on WBZ the night before his death, when Meade took calls from listeners while Brudnoy listened intently from his hospital bed at Mass General. Of one such call, from a listener named Keri who credited David for getting her started in radio (and that would be NERW reader Keri Rodrigues of WHJJ in Providence), Cromer said "callers such as Keri meant the world to David."

David, in turn, meant the world to so many of us, who miss his voice every night on the radio and the joy of his presence, and you'll forgive your editor for the personal aside, I hope, in saying just how much it meant to be in the company of so many of those who loved David Brudnoy.

*There's some good news out of WBZ to report: Paul Sullivan, heir to Brudnoy's evening hours, is recovering from his treatment for a brain tumor. Sully was greeted with hearty applause when he stepped on stage at the Brudnoy memorial, and he confirms that he'll be back in his 8-midnight slot Monday night, followed by the return of Steve LeVeille to his usual overnight slot after months of filling in in the evenings. With that, WBZ will finally have a "normal" nighttime talk schedule for the first time since Brudnoy's death, and we're sure PD Peter Casey (who deserves tremendous appreciation for the work he put into planning Sunday's memorial) is breathing a sigh of relief.

Speaking of Sullivan, the radio station where he got his start is about to change hands. WLLH (1400 Lowell and Lawrence) and WAMG (890 Dedham) have spent the last few years doing Spanish tropical under the ownership of Mega Communications, but Mega's been selling off many of its facilities, and now the company's exiting New England completely. The investment firm of Waller Sutton is backing the $9 million purchase, but so far we know nothing about who'll be running the stations or what happens next. Stay tuned...

The sale of WLLH wasn't the big radio news this week in Lowell. That honor goes to UMass Lowell's WUML (91.5), where students and community members are once again squaring off against university officials over the station's future direction.

Last year, the debate concerned "Lowell Sunrise," the morning show that was being produced by the Lowell Sun in conjunction with the university's administration. The Sun pulled out of its deal with WUML earlier this year (though the university continues to produce the "Sunrise" show, with most of its staff, including ex-WLLH newsman Bob Ellis, working directly for UMass), but the arrangement appears to have whetted the university's desire to turn WUML into a professionally-run broadcast outlet.

Last week, the university (under the guidance of Lou DiNatale, the political scientist who's advising UMass on broadcasting) struck a deal with former WBUR (90.9 Boston) talk host Christopher Lydon to do a daily one-hour show on WUML. The show will be produced at the Boston studios of WGBH, at least for the next year or so. And the university's also in talks with the Lowell Spinners to move the minor-league baseball team's broadcasts over to WUML from WCAP (980), where they were heard last season.

WUML's student and community staffers are reacting pretty much as you'd expect to the prospect of losing most of the station's evening hours all summer; they're blanketing the campus with flyers and reading announcements in class to make students aware of the potential changes. Will that be enough to get the ear of DiNatale and university chancellor William Hogan? As always, stay tuned.

*Back on the AM dial, WEEI (850 Boston) has found a replacement for Bob Neumeier alongside Dale Arnold in middays. Former Boston Globe sportswriter Michael Holley joins Arnold on the renamed "Dale and Holley" just in time to talk about the start of spring training for the World Champion Boston Red Sox. (Sorry - it still just feels so good to type that...)

Where are they now? Former WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford) afternoon jock "Artie the One-Man Party" is heading for sunny Charlotte, N.C., where he's taking over afternoons at another "Kiss," Infinity's WNKS (95.1).

We now know where Pittsfield's WBEC-FM (105.5) will be transmitting from when it completes its move eastward to the Springfield market. The FCC has already approved the allocation change that moves WBEC-FM to Easthampton, and last week Vox applied for new technical facilities for the station, which will run 850 watts at 602 feet above average terrain from a tower in Westhampton, where it should do well into Northampton and Amherst (but may have less signal into Springfield and vicinity than we'd initially expected.)

And a correction from last week: the tower that WFNX (101.7 Lynn) hopes to leave behind is the former WEEI-FM (103.3, now WODS) facility, not the former WNAC-TV (Channel 7) stick. That tower was later used by AT&T and still stands above Malden Hospital (though, as our radio-history colleague Norm Gagnon points out, both it and the WFNX tower are actually in Medford.)

A few more bits of trivia about the old WEEI-FM tower: CBS acquired that site circa 1950, when it hoped to buy the construction permit for WRTB-TV (Channel 2) from Raytheon, a deal that was never consummated. In 1954, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) used the tower as an interim site after its tower in Allston collapsed; it remained there until 1957, when its current tower in Needham was completed. Later, CBS donated the site to Harvard University, which contemplated moving WHRB (95.3 Cambridge) there. (And from the irony files: WHRB's current site atop One Financial Center in Boston is precisely where WFNX hopes to move...)

*A RHODE ISLAND high school station may soon be sharing its channel. WCVY (91.5 Coventry) had been the target of several competing applications for its frequency, citing its limited broadcast schedule. And while at least one of those applications was withdrawn, the FCC last week accepted for filing an application submitted way back in 1997 from "Educational Radio for the Public of a New Millennium" (that wouldn't be a religious broadcaster, now would it?) to share time on 91.5. ERFTPOANM, or whatever we're supposed to call them, would run 100 watts on the channel, with a city of license of East Greenwich. It's still not too late, NERW believes, for WCVY to go full-time on 91.5 and thwart the ERFTPOANM application, and we'll keep watching this one for developments.

*Dr. Gene Scott was a Los Angeleno through and through, but we can't let the news of the eccentric TV preacher's death pass without noting his ties to CONNECTICUT. That's where Scott owned WHCT (Channel 18) in Hartford. Through the seventies and early eighties, channel 18 was home to a non-stop diet of Scott's unusual style of TV religion, including his lengthy pipe-smoking diatribes against the FCC and lengthy shots of his thoroughbred horses at play.

Scott lost his licenses in the early eighties, and there was a story making the rounds that alleged that he had WHCT's transmitter buried somewhere on the grounds of the Avon tower site to avoid losing it to creditors. If it were anyone else, we'd dismiss the story as apocryphal, but with Scott, you never know.

Even without his TV stations (he owned KHOF-TV in Los Angeles and KVOF in San Francisco as well as WHCT), Scott's ministry continued to grow. In recent years, his programs were seen on 24-hour satellite feeds and heard on full-time shortwave broadcasts from WWCR in Nashville and the Caribbean Beacon on Anguilla.

Scott died last Monday in Los Angeles at age 75; his broadcasts will no doubt continue to blanket the airwaves for years to come.

*The last shoe has dropped in the Nassau call changes in Concord, NEW HAMPSHIRE, where the former "Outlaw Country" WOTX (102.3) changes calls to WWHK, for its new "Hawk" classic rock format.

*There's a new PD at WEQX in Manchester, VERMONT, as Willobee becomes the latest occupant of that oft-spinning chair. He's a veteran of WEFX (95.9 Norwalk CT) and the old WLIR (92.7 Garden City NY), among other stops.

On the TV side, Andy Wormser is stepping down as news director at WPTZ (Channel 5, actually licensed in Plattsburgh, N.Y.) He's heading for a new gig with the Associated Press, working on the ENPS newsroom computer system.

*The other half of the WBEC-FM move mentioned above is in the Albany, NEW YORK market, where Vox filed its application last week to move WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury) south to the northern suburb of Malta. But the new WNYQ will serve more than just Malta - it'll run 7800 watts at 580 feet above average terrain from the WNYT (Channel 13) tower in Brunswick, across the Hudson River from Albany.

In Syracuse, WAQX (95.7 Manlius) isn't giving up on rock just yet. After ditching the Howard Stern morning show earlier than planned, 95X unveiled the "Beaner and Ken" morning show last Thursday, featuring Guy "Beaner" Patton and Ken Heron, late of WANZ (100.5 Northport AL) in the Birmingham market.

Here in Rochester, we neglected to mention in last week's column (largely because we'd been out of town the week before) the more than 1,500 people who turned out for a memorial concert for the late WBEE (92.5) morning host Bill Coffey. The event garnered front-page mention in the local paper, as well it should have - Coffey was one of the true gentlemen in the industry, and his loss is still keenly felt over at WBEE and around the community.

Over in Buffalo, WHTT (104.1) is preparing to say goodbye to another legend, as Tom Shannon gets ready for his retirement at the end of March. Shannon will host a three-hour retrospective on WHTT March 13, and we'd expect many more tributes to the veteran jock as his afternoon gig on the oldies station comes to a close.

More Buffalo notes: we've been remiss in not noting the arrival of the syndicated Tom Joyner show on WBLK (93.7 Depew), where it's been heard since mid-January - and we note that what's left of the Empire Sports Network will close up shop for good on March 7. The network has already lost carriage outside Buffalo on Time Warner cable and on Dish Network, and it hasn't had any original programming since the start of the year.

And we're sorry to report the death of Anthony DiMarco, the entrepreneur who lit up Watertown's airwaves with the low-power signals of WBQZ-LP (Channel 34) and WLOT-LP (Channel 46, formerly 66). DiMarco suffered a heart attack Wednesday morning; he was just 46.

*And with that we come to PENNSYLVANIA and the week's other top story. It was no secret that WPLY (100.3 Media) was losing the Preston and Steve morning show at the end of February; after sitting out a six-month noncompete, the pair will reappear this fall on Greater Media's WMMR (93.3 Philadelphia). But it was something of a surprise even to Y100's staffers when the end of the Preston & Steve show Thursday morning was followed just hours later by the complete demise of the station's modern rock format.

The duo's final Y100 show was peppered with clues about the impending end, including their last song, "Alive" by Pearl Jam, which was the last song played on the old WDRE (103.9 Jenkintown) before it dropped modern rock in 1997.

There's a powerful irony at work: upon its purchase by Radio One, 103.9, of course, went urban as "the Beat," WPHI - and now those calls and that format are being heard on the more powerful 100.3 facility. Two hours after Preston and Steve signed off, dropping a mention of a new website at, middayer Bret Hamilton noted "it's my last day, too," and at noon became the last live voice heard on Y100. After not quite 12 hours of automation, WPLY went to dead air at 11:55 Thursday night, resurfacing minutes later as "the Beat."

Over the weekend, 103.9 was running liners sending listeners down the dial to 100.3, but it starts the new week with the black gospel format that was widely rumored to be coming to Radio One's other Philadelphia-market station, WRNB (107.9 Pennsauken NJ). You may recall that the 107.9 facility tested last fall under the calls WPPZ (quickly withdrawn, we hear, over concerns that it was tipping off competitors to the planned black gospel format) - and now those WPPZ calls have been applied for on 103.9. (The call changes will take effect Thursday.)

So we know what becomes of Radio One's three stations, but there are many questions still to be answered. For instance:

  • Who's left at Radio One?: There's still no airstaff on the recently-launched WRNB. WPHI spent the weekend running jockless (though we hear its jocks will debut on 100.3 today), and of course the entire Y100 airstaff was sent packing. The cluster's general manager, Lynn Bruder, a veteran of Y100 under previous owner Dan Lerner, submitted her resignation over the weekend, and we hear that most of Y100's promotion and sales staff are leaving the cluster as well.
  • Where will the Y100 staff go? We know Preston & Steve are headed for Greater Media (with a distinct possibility that their non-compete clause may be bought out), but now there's a full airstaff ready and waiting for another operator to pick up modern rock in what's now the largest market without the format. There are already rumors flying that Greater Media might reconsider putting Preston & Steve on WMMR and instead launch a full-fledged modern rocker in place of its struggling hot AC WMWX (95.7) - but WMMR has already publicly welcomed its new morning team, and it's been airing tributes to Y100 as well.
  • What's with The domain was registered (to an anonymous proxy service) a week before the format flip - and the webstream that's running there is full of Y100 content, including the station's trademark "Studio Sessions." Is this a stealth attempt by Radio One to keep Y100 going as a web-only station, or (more likely, we suspect) the work of a very talented staff that saw the writing on the wall and hopes to keep the station's spirit alive.

Speaking of Greater Media, there's a new station manager at its Philadelphia oldies station, WPEN (950), as Bob DeBlois gets promoted from general sales manager.

And the city is mourning Mark "the Shark" Drucker, whose varied career took him to WMMR, WIBF/WDRE, WWDB (96.5) and, most recently, to the job of entertainment reporter on KYW (1060). Drucker, whose career began on Long Island at WLIR, died Feb. 23 of stomach cancer. He was just 48 years old.

In Harrisburg, WHKF (99.3) has one busy PD, as Jeff Hurley adds the music director/afternoon jock duties that had been handled by Jerry Kidd, who's off to program KMCK (105.7) in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

A belated mention of a format change in a rural corner of northern Pennsylvania: WZYY (106.9 Renovo) dropped hot AC in January and went rock as "106.9 the Surge."

A correction from last week's NERW: the new allocation on 92.7 in Lawrence Park (adjacent to Erie) is limited to 225 watts at 100 meters only in the direction of London, Ontario; it'll be a full 6000-watt class A signal in every other direction over U.S. soil.

Pittsburgh's WLTJ (92.9) wants to move, and it wouldn't be a big deal at all (from 47 kw/853' on the KDKA-TV tower to 43 kw/890' from the nearby WPGH-TV tower), except for one thing: the move means the end of the very long relationship between 92.9 (the former KDKA-FM) and KDKA-TV. WDVE (102.5) remains on the channel 2 tower.

(And we'll close with one big-circle irony that we may be the only ones to appreciate: the original KDKA-FM was apparently on a self-supporting tower that was later shipped to Boston - this was around 1951 - and erected in the side lot of the WBZ studios, where it saved the day by serving as an emergency tower for WBZ-TV after Hurricane Carol destroyed the station's main tower in 1954. At which point WBZ-TV moved up to Medford...and see way up above under "Massachusetts" for the rest of that story.)

Enough for one week? We've got a long drive back to we'll see you in seven days with much more.

NERW Classifieds

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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/ 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.