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March 28, 2005
"Ben" Mixes It Up in Philadelphia
*The rumor mill in PENNSYLVANIA has been
flying for a while now about changes at Greater Media's "Mix"
WMWX (95.7 Philadelphia), and it'll probably be spinning even
faster after last Monday's format change at the station found
it flipping to the "we play anything" hot AC/classic
hits mix that's known elsewhere as "Jack," "Bob,"
or a host of other names.
To the strains of Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom,"
WMWX unveiled its new identity as "Ben FM" (as in Franklin,
of course) - and it's no surprise that the new format is running
jockless for now, with morning team Joe Mama and Kim Douglas,
midday jock Charlie Maxx and afternoon jock Brian Murphy all
out the door.
Can "Ben" do what "Mix," "Jammin'
Gold" and "Max" have all failed to do, making
95.7 a contender as a pop-music station after decades as classical
(We can guess, in any case, what the calls won't be
- WBEN is a heritage AM callsign in Buffalo, belonging to Greater
Media's Philadelphia-based rivals at Entercom....)
Across town at Radio One, Helen Little is the new operations
manager at WPHI (100.3 Media), WRNB (107.9 Pennsauken NJ) and
WPPZ (103.9 Jenkintown).
Radio One's old WPLY calls have found a new home out of the
market - Nassau's parked them at 960 in Mount Pocono, the former
WILT. (The station does oldies, simulcasting WVPO 840 Stroudsburg.)
There are new calls in Mount Carmel, too, where WSPI (99.7)
will become WVRZ under new owner Clear Channel, which will use
the station to simulcast Williamsport-market top 40 "Variety"
WVRT (97.7 Mill Hall).
And the call-parking game is being played in western Pennsylvania,
too, where WYSN (1330 Somerset) flips to WBHV and WSPO (1490
Johnstown) becomes WPRR, hanging on to calls abandoned in the
big Forever swaps of recent days in the region.
*In upstate NEW YORK, Rochester's WHEC-TV
(Channel 10) is turning to the sports department for its next
lead anchor. You'll recall that veteran anchor Gabe Dalmath departed
the station last fall, and the assumption was that relative newcomer
Brian Martin would become the station's new star. But we hear
Martin's agents overreached when negotiating a contract extension
- and so the station's bumped Martin back to reporter status
and is moving lead sports anchor Rich Funke into the news anchor
seat at 5, 6 and 11.
Funke's been with WHEC since the late seventies (except for
a brief stint in Miami), and he's got solid news credentials,
having been news director at WAXC (1460, the former WHEC radio)
in the early seventies and having anchored the 5 PM news with
Donna Dedee in the mid-nineties.
(WHEC also has a new morning anchor, as Pat McGonigle arrives
from WXMI in Grand Rapids, Michigan to fill Dalmath's seat on
the 5-7 AM show.)
in Syracuse, there's a new coat of paint on CBS affiliate WTVH
(Channel 5), where Granite replaced the orangey "5 On Your
Side" look with a blue-and-red "CBS 5" on Tuesday.
Gone is evening anchor Matt Mulcahy, replaced by Frank Kracher,
formerly of WLOS (Channel 13) in Asheville, N.C. Kracher also
fills the news director role at WTVH.
In Ithaca, WTKO (1470) applies for new calls WNYY under new
Hudson Valley, it's the end of "The Cat" at WCTW (98.5
Catskill), as the AC station adopts Clear Channel's favorite
new branding and becomes "98.5 Lite FM."
The move gives the company three "Lites" between
Albany and New York: WCTW serving Columbia and Greene counties,
WPKF (99.3 Ellenville) serving Orange and Sullivan counties and
WRNQ (92.1 Poughkeepsie) serving Ulster and Dutchess counties.
And in New York City, we mark with sadness the retirement
of Howard Reig, the last remaining staff announcer at NBC. (You
hear him every night introducing "NBC Nightly News,"
among other things.) Reig, 84, has been working at NBC for 43
years, having arrived there after beginning his career with General
Electric at WGY/WRGB in Schenectady.
*In NEW JERSEY, former WCTC (1450
New Brunswick) morning host Jay Sorensen will be back on the
air this week, taking over mornings at WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin),
the station he helped to sign on way back in 1976. Sorensen replaces
Spyder, who moves to nights at WJRZ, where he replaces the departed
*In CANADA, CJLF (100.3 Barrie) wants
a power increase to better serve the growing towns along the
Highway 400 corridor that leads south to Toronto. Now 1800 watts,
CJLF wants to go to 40 kW maximum/18.7 kW average ERP.
*A federal judge in Hartford wants Tribune
to reduce its media-ownership concentration in CONNECTICUT,
where the company owns the Hartford Courant, Fox affiliate
WTIC-TV (Channel 61), WB affiliate WTXX (Channel 20) in Waterbury
and the weekly Independent newspapers.
has been an issue since 2000, when Tribune acquired former Courant
owner Times Mirror. At the time, Tribune was granted several
six-month extensions to sell WTXX, but the last of those extensions
expired in 2002. Since then, Tribune has continued to operate
channel 20 while waiting for the FCC to rule on its request for
a permanent waiver of the cross-ownership rules (and, ideally,
for those rules to be changed in a way that would make its ownership
of WTXX legal, something the FCC attempted last year but which
was struck down by a federal appeals court.)
In the meantime, though, real estate developer Neal Ellis
(who just happens to be married to the publisher of the Journal
Inquirer in Manchester, a rival daily to the Courant)
filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Hartford, asking
for an order to make Tribune comply.
More appeals seem likely, and Tribune says it's confident
it will find a way to keep both stations.
*The news from MASSACHUSETTS is
largely about the engineers this week, and nowhere more so than
at Steve Silberberg's WXRV (92.5 Haverhill). "The River"
asked the FCC last week to move its class B allocation from Haverhill
down the Merrimack River to Andover, where 92.5 would be the
first local service, now that Phillips Andover's WPAA (91.7)
has been deleted.
Even from its present tower site in Haverhill, WXRV is short-spaced
to WBOS (92.9 Boston), WPRO-FM (92.3 Providence) and WWYZ (92.5
Waterbury CT), but because all of those stations have been on
the air since before the present spacing rules were adopted in
1964, WXRV has some flexibility when it comes to a potential
tower site move - there's no need at all to protect WBOS, and
the current levels of interference to WPRO-FM and WWYZ can't
be increased. That still gives WXRV some wiggle room to use a
directional antenna to move south, though that would come at
the expense of the station's excellent southern NEW HAMPSHIRE
In Boston, Radio
One's WILD (1090) has filed an application to move from the tower
on Corporation Way in Medford that's been its home ever since
the station signed on (as WBMS) in the late forties. The tower
was threatened a few years ago by the planned Telecom City development,
but it won a reprieve for a few years after the telecom bust.
Now the land around the tower is slated for residential development,
and WILD wants to move a few hundred yards south to diplex on
one of the two towers of WXKS (1430 Everett), next to the Wellington
WILD would go from 5000 watts day/1000 watts critical hours
at its current site to 4800 watts day/1900 watts critical hours
from the WXKS site, still non-directional.
The "Whatever Weekend" that WBMX (Mix 98.5) was
doing for the last few days? It's not just a weekend stunt -
it appears that Mix is following the lead of several other hot
ACs around the country (most notably Washington's WRQX) in tweaking
its programming to include a "Jack"-style broad playlist
without making an all-out flip to the "Jack FM" attitude.
(And, in the process, it blocks other stations in the market,
most notably WBOS, from beating it to the punch. Hmm...if Greater
Media's Philly station is "Ben," would that make Boston
"Paul" or "Samuel"?)
On the TV side, there's a new station manager
coming on board at WBZ-TV (Channel 4), WSBK (Channel 38) and
RHODE ISLAND-market WLWC (Channel 28, New Bedford) - and
she comes with prominent news credentials. Angie Kucharski was
the news director at Viacom's KCNC (Channel 4) in Denver before
becoming VP/news and station manager there; she'll make the move
to Soldiers Field Road at the end of April.
And we're sorry to report (a bit belatedly, at that) the death
of Bill Green, a veteran staff member at WHDH (850) and WHDH-TV
(Channel 5) from the days when radio stations had staff musicians.
Green played the piano alongside organist Ken Wilson on the "Bill
and Ken Show" on WHDH radio from 1948-1967, and he was the
pianist for Bob and Ray during their years at WHDH. Green died
March 14; he was 91.
*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
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you two 2005 calendars if you subscribe now. Or,
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