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March 14, 2005
ESPN En Route To Boston's 890?
*Is a third all-sports station on the way
to eastern MASSACHUSETTS? It certainly appears that way
as we learn more about the impending sale of WAMG (890 Dedham)
and WLLH (1400 Lowell and Lawrence) from Mega Communications
to a new entity called "J-Sports."
We've already reported theat the sale is financially backed
by WallerSutton, the investment house that backed the Route 81
Radio acquisitions in Pennsylvania and upstate New York last
year. But Route 81 doesn't appear to be involved this time, as
it turns out. Instead, the key player is one Jessamy Tang, an
MIT graduate who served as general manager of Pittsburgh ESPN
affiliate WEAE (1250) until departing in 2002 "to pursue
Those interests appear to involve a flip of WAMG and WLLH
from their present Spanish tropical format to ESPN Radio, presently
heard late at night and weekends on WEEI (850 Boston). And we
hear that WEEI is dropping ESPN (we're guessing Fox Sports Radio
will replace it), clearing the way for an ESPN move up the dial
to 890, which was once the Boston flagship of the defunct Prime
Sports Radio, circa 1995-96.
(One other note on the $9 million deal: it seems the FCC's
as uncertain as anyone about the status of WLLH's synchronous
transmitter in Lawrence. The sales documents describe the Lawrence
transmitter, on the air since 1937, as an "amplifier,"
and they explain that there's no formal renewal of that transmitter
shown in FCC documents, since it's been considered an "auxiliary
service," renewed along with the main WLLH license. One
condition of the deal is that the Lawrence transmitter get a
formal license renewal - and a clarification of its power increase
to 1000 watts, which was apparently done on the basis of a verbal
approval from the FCC - and it appears that that renewal may
be for a short term only. Stay tuned!)
We can tell you more this week about Christopher Lydon's return
to the public radio airwaves. The former WBUR (90.9) talk host
will indeed be hosting a show on UMass Lowell's WUML (91.5 Lowell),
but he'll be heard far beyond the Merrimack Valley.
When "Open Source" debuts May 30, it will be produced
at Boston's WGBH (89.7), which will also air the hourlong show
Monday-Thursday at 7 PM, bumping back the start of the "Eric
in the Evening" jazz show by an hour. Starting July 4, "Open
Source" will also be syndicated via Public Radio International,
which distributes WGBH's "The World" as well. And when
new studios are ready at UMass Lowell in a year or so, Lydon
will move production of the show up there.
a big change of scenery on the way for WBCN (104.1) - it's one
week away from leaving behind the Fenway studios, at 1265 Boylston
Street, that the station has called home for the last two decades
and change (ever since moving from the penthouse of the Prudential
Tower). The Infinity modern rocker will join sister station WODS
(103.3) in the former Channel 38 facility at 83 Leo Birmingham
Parkway in Allston, and we believe WZLX (100.7) will eventually
move there as well from its digs in the Pru.
There's a new night jock on Kiss 108 (WXKS-FM 107.9 Medford),
as Jackson Blue moves up from Cape Cod's WRZE (96.3 Nantucket).
He'll do double duty on Kiss and the Rose for the next few weeks.
And just to round out the whole Boston AM sports radio thing,
Sporting News Radio's WWZN (1510) bade farewell to one of its
charter staffers on Friday as Dave Jageler did his final midday
"Eddie and Jags" show. He's off to Pawtucket to be
the new play-by-play voice of the PawSox (and yes, we're getting
our 2005 Baseball Special ready to go later this month; there's
plenty of news in the minors this year!)
*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Saga made a surprise
flip at Manchester's oldies WQLL (96.5 Bedford) early last week,
dropping "Cool 96.5" in favor of classic rock as "The
Mill" (a reference to Saga's studio location in the historic
mills of Manchester.
New calls there are WMLL - and it'll soon have a Manchester
translator as well, with the FCC's approval of translator W231BR
on 94.1 (which can't be good news for fringe Concord signal WFTN-FM,
also on 94.1 from Franklin.)
*As expected, Nassau unleased its "Wolf"
country format on VERMONT last week, putting the name
(also in use in Concord, N.H. and Portland, Maine) on what had
been "Bob Country" WSSH (95.3 White River Junction)
and WZSH (107.1 Bellows Falls). The stations are now WXLF and
WZLF, respectively. (And there are rumors that Nassau's "Frank"
hot AC/classic hits blend, also in use in Portland, is en route
to New Hampshire's WHOB...)
*We were premature on one CONNECTICUT
format change: while WXLM (102.3 Stonington) indeed jettisoned
morning man "Yo Sunny Joe" Allen last week, the Citadel
station was still doing AC as "Mix 102.3" at week's
end, though it does appear that a format change - perhaps to
a simulcast of news-talk WSUB (980 Groton) - is coming, sooner
A Nutmeg State LPTV signal is getting a new owner. W11BJ is
currently located at the Rattlesnake Mountain site that's home
to WVIT (Channel 30) and WTIC-TV (Channel 61), but it holds a
construction permit to move to Mount Tom, above Springfield,
Massachusetts, where it will become W28CT under new owner LIN,
which already owns NBC affiliate WWLP (Channel 22) there. W11BJ
is currently doing some low-budget local shows, and there's no
word yet on what it might program when it becomes W28CT. (We
note that Springfield has no Fox affiliate, and we also note
that LIN is becoming an active Spanish-language programmer via
its "WAPA America" satellite service.)
And down in Fairfield County, WEBE (107.9 Westport) ditches
Delilah at night, turning to Elizabeth Yates (formerly of archrival
WEZN "Star 99.9") to host the new local "Love
*Long Island's most powerful
AM station is staying put in NEW YORK state. WGSM
(740 Huntington) was in the headlines last year when it applied,
during the FCC's AM major-change window, to move to Mount Olive,
N.J., where it hoped to build a big directional array and aim
50,000 watts back at New York City.
But applicants who submitted proposals during that window
that turned out not to be mutually-exclusive with other applications
(as WGSM's was) had to follow up with full-fledged applications
(and filing fees) by a certain deadline. Perhaps it was the pending
sale of the station, or perhaps it had something to do with the
almost certain opposition that the application would encounter
both from the locals out in Warren County and its neighbors on
the dial at 710 and 770; in any case, WGSM didn't follow through,
and the Mount Olive application is now officially dead.
(Also off the table are proposals for new stations on 1550
in Nantucket MA, 1060 Montpelier VT, 830 Bangor ME and 1230 Fort
Meanwhile in lower Manhattan, the carpenters' union that owns
the building at 395 Hudson Street isn't happy with Emmis' WQHT
(97.1) after the shooting last week in the building's lobby.
Hot 97 says it will institute new rules to try to prevent future
incidents, including limiting in-studio guests to a single, er,
posse member upstairs in the studios and providing the landlords
with a week's notice when guests are expected. Will it make a
difference? We'll see.
It looks as though RuPaul's history at WNEW (102.7 New York),
with Rick Stacy handling mornings for now alongside Michelle
Visage as the ever-troubled "Mix 102.7" tries, yet
again, to find itself. Will it make a difference? We'll see.
Over on the AM dial, WWRL (1600 New York) picks up Fox Radio's
Alan Colmes for 10 PM-midnight weekdays.
Congratulations to WABC (770 New York) PD Phil Boyce, who
adds the title of VP/talk programming for the ABC radio stations
to his portfolio. Boyce may not have much work to do at successful
stations such as KGO in San Francisco and KABC in Los Angeles,
but NERW suspects he'll be involved as WLS in Chicago seeks a
stronger direction after the loss of several of its key personalities.
We're sorry to report the passings of two well-known New York
voices. Wally Parker, who died Feb. 15 in New Jersey, began his
career at the old WAAT (970 Newark) before going on to WHN, WNEW
and WABC, where he spent a quarter-century as an announcer both
locally and on the ABC radio and television networks. And Jim
Gash all but created the job of street reporter during his 1959-74
tenure at WNEW, when there was barely an event he didn't cover.
Gash, whose work was all the more remarkable for the poor eyesight
that forced him to employ drivers for much of his career, died
Thursday, March 3.
upstate, WTBQ (1110 Warwick) segues to an all-talk format weekdays,
adding Neal Boortz from 10 AM-noon and Clark Howard from 2-4
PM. They join an already talk-heavy format that includes Frank
Truatt's morning show, "Roundtable" from 9-10 AM and
John Moultrie from 4-6 PM. It appears WTBQ will keep programming
music on weekends and on its webstream after hours.
In Albany, Tom Joyner's syndicated morning show is history
at Pamal's WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville). The station's now looking
for a local replacement. Meanwhile across town at Clear Channel's
WPYX (106.5 Albany), sidekicks John Mulrooney and Ellen Z. are
history at the "Wake Up With the Wolf" show, with Bob
Wolf's former sidekick John Tobin returning to the show.
Our best wishes go out to Brother Wease of Rochester's WCMF
(96.5) and Buffalo's WBUF (92.9). Wease, known to his doctors
as Alan Levin, headed to New York City last week to begin treatment
for the rare cancer that's attacking his sinuses. Trooper that
he is, though, Wease has his New York apartment wired up with
ISDN - and he says he'll remain a part of the morning show from
there as much as his health allows. (He hopes to be back home
in a few weeks.)
And Buffalo's WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls) has a new PD, as Jimmy
Steele heads back to town from a PD gig at Clear Channel's WNCI
(97.9) in Columbus, Ohio. Steele, who fills the chair left vacant
by Dave Universal amidst a payola investigation, has a prior
history in the market; most recently, he helped program WKZA
(106.9 Lakewood) down in the Jamestown area.
*In NEW JERSEY, there's some interesting
talk of cooperation between WAJM (88.9 Atlantic City) and WXXY
(88.7 Port Republic). WAJM operates limited hours from Atlantic
City High School, and WXXY broadcasts a 24-hour gospel format
that has a hard time reaching listeners in Atlantic City because
of first-adjacent WAJM. The Press of Atlantic City reports
that WXXY management has approached WAJM to discuss cooperation,
which might include broadcasting school sports and school board
meetings on WXXY, and might include some evening and weekend
simulcasts of WXXY programming on WAJM. (Then again, the Press
also located WXXY at "87.7" and WAJM at "87.9,"
so we'd take the rest of the story with a grain of salt, too...)
Meanwhile on the AM dial, Access.1's WUSS (1490 Pleasantville)
is reportedly now simulcasting the oldies of WTKU (98.3 Ocean
And up in Monmouth County, WCNJ (89.3 Hazlet) becomes WDDM
this week - and its owner, WVRM Inc., agrees to make a "voluntary"
$10,000 payment to close out an inquiry into accusations that
the station aired underwriting announcements that were overly
commercial, violating the FCC's guidelines. (The FCC's increasingly
turning to such consent decrees to close out cases like this
without resorting to expensive and time-consuming investigations.)
*Our top PENNSYLVANIA story continues
to be the merry-go-round of formats, calls and ownerships in
the Johnstown and State College markets between Forever Broadcasting
and Nick Galli's 2510 Communications in the wake of 2510's acquisition
of the former Dame stations.
start with the ownership swaps: 2510 is selling WGLU (99.1 Ebensburg),
WQKK (92.1 Johnstown), WRSC (1390 State College) and WBUS (93.7
Boalsburg) to Forever for a total of $6.65 million ($4 million
for WGLU/WQKK, $2.65 million for WRSC/WBUS). And Forever is selling
WSPO (1490 Johnstown), WUZI (97.7 Somerset) and WUZY (105.7 Portage)
to 2510 for $2.5 million.
WGLU already has a new format - or at least slogan - as it
prepares for its new Forever ownership, ditching its former "Power
99" identity to become "Hot 99" sharing a morning
show, music playlists and perhaps some other air talent with
what's now "Hot 103" in State College (the former WBHV
103.1, soon to be WJHT) and with Forever's WPRR (100.1 Altoona),
which also becomes "Hot 100."
So as best we can piece things together, here's how each company's
station lineup now looks:
On the Forever side,
it's news-talk WRSC and talk WMAJ (1450) in State College, along
with classic rock WBUS, AC "Lite" WLTS (94.5 State
College), "Quick Rock" WQWK (98.7 Mill Hall), "Hot
103" and the eventual Centre Hall move-in of WXMJ (99.5
Mount Union, now simulcasting WPRR), too. In Altoona, the company
has talk WFBG (1290), sports WVAM (1430), country WFGY (98.1),
WPRR, oldies WALY (103.9 Bellwood) and active rock "Rocky"
WRKY (104.9 Hollidaysburg). And in Johnstown, Forever has talk
WNTJ (850)/WNTW (990), country WFGI-FM (95.5) and AC WKYE (96.5),
along with WGLU and rocker WQKK.
Galli's 2510, meanwhile, has a State College cluster that
includes oldies WOWY (97.1 University Park), WBLF (970 Bellefonte,
temporarily simulcasting WOWY) and the former WJHT (107.9 Port
Matilda), which will apparently be spun off under new calls WCNU.
And in Johnstown, it has sports WSPO, southern gospel WYSN (1330
Somerset), the "Wuzz" classic rock combo of WUZI/WUZY
and oldies WCCL (101.7 Central City).
If your head is spinning, you're not alone - these swaps follow
hot on the heels of Forever's acquisition of Clear Channel's
Johnstown cluster and subsequent format flips. And there's no
question that these two companies now control a huge share of
the central Pennsylvania listening audience (and radio revenue
pie) between them.
There's a station sale on the other end of the Keystone State,
too, as Bob Mermell's De Wit Media Group sells WPSN (1590 Honesdale),
WDNH (95.3 Honesdale), WYCY (105.3 Hawley) and WDNB (102.1 Jeffersonville
NY) to Vincent Benedetto's Bold Gold Media Group. The deal's
valued at $4 million, and it brings a new format to WPSN, which
picks up ABC's True Oldies.
In Philadelphia, former Radio One GM Lynn Bruder has a new
job overseeing Beasley's rhythmic top 40 WRDW (Wired 96.5) as
GM. Dave Donahue's out of the top job at the Beasley stations
(along with a number of salespeople), and Natalie Conner takes
the other half of his job, becoming VP/GM of country WXTU (92.5).
In Pittsburgh, veteran jock "Big Ray" Edwards (whose
career includes stops at WZUM, WYEP and WLSW) takes the morning
reins at WKFB (770 Jeannette). Edwards was already heard on Saturday
afternoons at "770 KFB," and now he's also heard from
sunrise (6:15, this month) until 9 AM weekdays.
And there are new calls (again) for the former WWMD (101.5
Waynesboro). After an abortive stab at becoming "The Eagle"
was thwarted by Nassau's grab of the moniker across state lines
(at WARX 106.9 Hagerstown MD), 101.5 has dropped its short-lived
WEEG calls and is now WFYN. What does it stand for? Beats us
- but it hasn't escaped our attention that it could stand
for a particularly nasty jab at its new Hagerstown rival...
*In CANADA's capital city, CHUM Group's
CKKL (93.9 Bob FM) will spend a day as "Paul FM" soon,
as payoff for a nifty promotion that found no less a personage
than Prime Minister Paul Martin lobbying U2 to add Ottawa to
its concert schedule. (Can you imagine President Bush participating
in a similar promotion in Washington? Neither can we...)
In any case, Ireland's most famous rockers will indeed play
Ottawa - and so the PM's office was awash in "93.9 Paul
FM" gear last week as morning hosts J.R. and Sandy offered
And we can report call letters for the new 94.5 in Wingham,
thanks to loyal reader Dan Sys: it's CIBU.
*It's March now - and that means a
special deal for fans of the Tower Site Calendar 2005.
We're well aware that many of the calendar's fans buy it for
the pictures, not the actual calendar pages...but that doesn't
change the fact that by this time of the year, we're not exactly
shipping 'em out the door at a breakneck pace, and Mrs. NERW
would very much like a corner of her living room back.
So while she rediscovers the floor beneath those boxes of
calendars and we begin to line up the images for Tower Site Calendar
2006, you get the very first crack at our Calendar
Clearance Deal for 2005.
Here's how it works:
instead of our list price of $16 for this fabulous, full-color,
glossy calendar, you can now pick one up for just $8,
postpaid. ($8.66 to New York State addresses.) Better yet, if
you order two calendars at this special clearance price, we'll
throw in a third for free - $16 for THREE calendars, with nine
exciting months of 2005 yet to go. (That's $17.32 in NYS.)
Maybe you've already hung your original 2005 calendar on the
wall, and you're thinking it would be nice to have another copy
to stick away in pristine condition. Maybe you really want to
frame that spectacular September page right now - but you still
need a calendar later this year. Maybe you just want to help
Mrs. NERW clean out the living room and give happy NERW baby
Ariel more space to practice walking.
Whatever your motive, now's your big chance, because while
there are still 2005 calendars left, there may not be any in
a few weeks. (Remember, the 2002 and 2003 editions were total
sellouts, and I've had to turn away several of you who were hoping
to add these now-rare calendars to your collections.)
And we've got two more great deals for you, too. We still
have a few 2004 calendars left, and while they're getting rare,
Mrs. NERW wants them gone - so they're yours, in pristine condition,
for just $5 postpaid. (Buy two and the third is free!) Or order
the 2004 and 2005 calendars together for just $10, postpaid.
(What a deal!)
(New York orders pay $5.41 for the 2004 calendar, $10.83 for
the 2004 and 2005 together.)
And as always, the calendar's free with your $60 or higher
subscription to NorthEast Radio Watch/fybush.com. In fact, we've
got a great deal for new or renewing $60 subscribers: we'll send
you two 2005 calendars if you subscribe now. Or,
if you'd prefer, we'll hold a brand-new Tower Site Calendar
2006 for you with your subscription, and you can be among
the very first to see the 2006 edition when it's released this
summer. Remember, we count on your subscription dollars to keep
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2005 by Scott Fybush.