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March 14, 2005

March 7, 2005

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February 21, 2005

2004 In Review

9/11 Plus One: The World Trade Center Broadcasters Recover

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March 21, 2005

Remembering "Uncle Gus" and New York's Ted Brown

*Back in the fifties and sixties, just about every TV market had its own beloved local kid's show host. In Boston, it was "Big Brother" Bob Emery and Rex Trailer; in Buffalo, Dave Thomas and "Rocketship 7." And in NEW HAMPSHIRE, it was "Uncle Gus" Bernier on Manchester's WMUR-TV (Channel 9).

Bernier joined WMUR radio (610, now WGIR) in 1944 as an announcer, moving over to the TV side of the operation a few years after its 1954 debut. "Uncle Gus" began by accident, according to Ed Brouder's authoritative history of New Hampshire broadcasting, Granite and Ether, when station manager David O'Shea asked Bernier to go into the studio and introduce the afternoon cartoon show.

The rest was two decades of history, as an appearance on the "Uncle Gus Show" became a rite of passage for young New Hampshirites (after a wait that could last a year and a half.)

Bernier retired to the Florida Keys, later moving to Hawaii, where he died in his sleep Saturday morning. He was 85.

*Meanwhile on the present-day Granite State radio dial, Nashua's WHOB (106.3) indeed made the flip to "Frank FM" on Thursday, replacing its hot AC with classic hits. WHOB morning drive host Sarah Sullivan adds PD duties, and new calls WFNQ are said to be on the way.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, there's a big PD vacancy - two of them, really - as Jon Zellner departs Infinity's WBMX (98.5 Boston) and WODS (103.3 Boston) and his corporate gig as the company's VP for hot AC to take a newly-created gig at XM Satellite Radio as senior VP, music programming. Zellner's WODS duties are being handled by Pete Falconi for now; no word on who's handling Mix.

Joe McMillan is out as a part-timer at Greater Media's WROR (105.7 Framingham).

And a skim of last week's Boston Globe Magazine reveals that the former "Radio LOG" on 540 in Dorchester is now "Girls Radio." The unlicensed operation was putting a nice signal over Dorchester when we taped it a year or so ago, though at that point it was just tracking automated black gospel. (We'd actually be quite curious to hear some of its "regular" programming if anyone's within range...)

*The anticipated format change in southeastern CONNECTICUT at WXLM (102.3 Stonington) still hasn't happened, but sister station WSUB (980 Groton) is now telling listeners that its news-talk format - plus Red Sox games - will move to FM in April, so there's no question about what 102.3 will become eventually.

In Middletown, Wesleyan University's WESU (88.1) is now running its new schedule, complete with a partial simulcast of NPR news and information from WSHU (91.1 Fairfield). Programming includes BBC World Service from 2:30-5 AM, Morning Edition starting at 5 AM and Talk of the Nation from 2-4 PM, with local WESU programming in the afternoons, evenings and weekends.

*One of the iconic voices of NEW YORK radio has died. Ted Brown (along with his then-wife, "the Redhead") was the morning voice on WMGM (1050) from 1950 until 1962, when the station returned to its former calls of WHN. Brown soon headed up the dial to WNEW (1130) and afternoons (mornings at that point still being the domain of Klavan and Finch), where he'd remain for most of the decade, becoming known for his wry humor and for on-air stunts that included getting drunk on the air at holiday time (with a police officer present) to illustrate the dangers of drunk driving.

In 1970, Brown moved to afternoons on WNBC (660) and went nationwide as one of the "communicators" on NBC's weekend Monitor. He returned to WNEW's afternoon drive in 1972, moving to mornings in 1978 upon Gene Klavan's retirement and remaining there until his own retirement a decade later. Brown returned to WNEW's airwaves on the station's final day in 1993, becoming one of the last voices heard there before WNEW signed off for good.

In later years, Ted was heard on WRIV (1390 Riverhead) and on WVNJ (1160 Oakland NJ). He suffered a stroke in 1996 that left him incapacitated. Brown died in his sleep Sunday morning (Mar. 20) at his New York home. A memorial service will be held Tuesday morning (Mar. 22) at the Riverside Memorial Chapel, 331 Amsterdam Avenue, at 11:15 AM.

*Out on Long Island, a well-known New York voice is returning to the dial. Al Bandiero will host the "Saturday Night Dance Party" on WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue) beginning next Saturday (Mar. 26) from 7-10 PM.

In Albany, there's a new morning team at WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville), as the "Morning Madhouse" of JD "The Gov" Redman and The Wonderwoman takes over the slot last occupied by Tom Joyner.

And in Syracuse, the new WAQX (95.7 Manlius) morning team of "Beaner and Ken" will be syndicated back to their old home town of Birmingham, Alabama. The duo came from WANZ (100.5 Northport AL), and they'll again be heard there on that station, which is now simulcasting with modern rock WRAX (107.7 Birmingham), though the show will originate at 95X. (Both are Citadel stations.)

*In NEW JERSEY, Jack Ellery is returning to mornings on WCTC (1450 New Brunswick) as the Greater Media news-talker says goodbye to former morning host Jay Sorensen, who departed on Friday. Ellery, who began on WCTC's morning drive back in the sixties, is now on his third go-round at the station. He'd been doing afternoons there, a slot which will now be filled by the syndicated Jerry Doyle show.

*Adult standards are fading from the dial in many markets, but the format's making a rebound in central PENNSYLVANIA this morning. Clear Channel's WLAN (1390 Lancaster) dropped standards for sports (as "The Ticket") in 2002, but with a signal upgrade down the road at sister "Ticket" station WTKT (1460 Harrisburg), there was too much overlap - so WLAN returns to standards today, using ABC's satellite service.

In Carlisle, Scott Donato (formerly at York's WYCR) takes over as morning host at WHYL (960), replacing the departed Bobby Quinn.

It's the end of "Lite 99.7" at WSPI (99.7 Mount Carmel); under new owner Clear Channel, the station flipped Friday to a simulcast of Williamsport's top 40 "Variety 97.7," WVRT (97.7 Mill Hall).

WGTY (107.7 Gettysburg) is saying so long to evening host Casey Lee Summers, who retires at month's end. (Cougar Michaels, late of WFRE in Frederick, Maryland, will take over nights there.)

While we're down along the Maryland border, we note that WARX (106.9 Hagerstown) has taken "Eagle"-appropriate calls of WWEG.

Speaking of call letters, there's a whole slew of new ones as part of the Forever/2510 swap-o-rama in the Johnstown, Altoona and State College markets. Here's how it goes: in State College, WOWY (98.7 Pleasant Gap) and WQWK (97.1 University Park) trade calls, WJHT (107.9 Port Matilda) becomes WKVB (which sounds an awful lot like an EMF Broadcasting "K-Love" call to us) and WBHV (103.1 State College) becomes WJHT. Its sister "Hot" stations all get new calls, too: WGLU (99.1 Ebensburg/Johnstown) becomes WYOT, WPRR (100.1 Altoona) becomes WWOT and WXMJ (99.5 Mount Union) becomes WXOT.

And in Erie, they're mourning veteran TV newsman Bill Knupp, who died of cancer last Sunday (March 13) at 72. Knupp began his career at WICU-TV (Channel 12) in 1959 and remained there for 37 years; later, he hosted a talk show at WJET (1400 Erie).

*In CANADA, it's the end of the line for controversial Quebec City morning man Jean-Francois "Jeff" Fillion, who walked off his CHOI (98.1) show midway through Thursday morning's edition.

CHOI is, of course, the station whose license was nearly pulled by the CRTC a few months back, largely over Fillion's outspoken morning show. And while CHOI owner Genex Communications continues to appeal that decision, it's been having other troubles with Fillion, most notably a civil suit filed by TV weathercaster Sophie Chiasson accusing Fillion of slandering her. (She's seeking C$425,000 from Fillion and CHOI.)

Genex owner Patrice Demers says there's no chance Fillion will return to CHOI's airwaves, and that the current CHOI morning team will continue without him.

CJMD (1340 Chibougamou) wants to leave the AM dial; it's applying to go to 93.5 with 75 kW/222.5 meters and a directional antenna.

In Toronto, the Blue Jays have hired Warren Sawkiw as a backup announcer for road games and for home games where veteran play-by-play man Tom Cheek can't make it. Cheek, who called every Jays game from the team's inception in 1977 until his father's death in 2003 caused him to miss a game. Later in the year, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, causing him to miss much of the 2004 season. Cheek is hoping to be back for at least 50 home games this year, though team officials say an MRI last week showed signs of a regrowth, which will cause Cheek to require additional surgery in a few days. (Cheek's in Florida, where he was able to help call three spring-training games.)

Down in Niagara, CKEY (101.1 Fort Erie) is losing music director/APD "D.J. Noodles"; no replacement has yet been announced.

Way up in North Bay, Eternacom wants to turn off CJTK-FM-1 (89.5), its relay of CJTK (95.3 Sudbury), replacing it with a standalone Christian station that would operate on 107.3 with 800 watts, originating its own programming about half the day. Down the dial, Halliburton Broadcasting applies for a new country station on 106.3, with 10 kW/145.4 meters.

In Hanover, Bluewater Community Radio wants to convert its low-power developmental station (CFBW 91.3) to a full-power operation, boosting power from 1 watt to 250 watts. (These "developmental" licenses are good for three years, after which the stations must apply for full-power status or go silent.)

And on the TV dial, CHUM announced last week that it will rebrand its "NewNet" stations next fall as "A Channel," the brand it inherited when it bought Craig Media and its stations in Alberta and Manitoba. The move affects "The New RO" (CHRO Pembroke/Ottawa), "The New VR" (CKVR Barrie), "The New PL" (CFPL-TV London), "The New NX" (CKNX-TV Wingham), "The New WI" (CHWI Wheatley/Windsor) and "The New VI" (CIVI Victoria BC); ironically, the former A-Channel stations will be rebranded as "CityTV," CHUM's other television brand.

*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/ 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 NERW coming each and every Monday morning!

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.)

Order the 2005 Tower Site Calendar on CLEARANCE for $8...
Order the 2005 and 2004 Tower Site Calendars together for just $10...
...or subscribe to NERW at the $60 level and get two FREE 2005 Tower Site Calendars
...and you can still order the 2004 Tower Site Calendar at our special DEEP clearance price of $5! (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.