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August 22, 2005
So Long, Toronto 1
MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Just after NERW went to press this morning,
Nexstar and Sinclair announced that they're entering into a joint
services agreement under which Nexstar's WROC-TV (Channel 8)
in Rochester will handle most of the operations of Sinclair's
WUHF (Channel 31).
NERW has learned some of the key details
of the arrangement, and it includes the shutdown of WUHF's quasi-local
"News Central" 10 PM newscast. That program will go
off the air September 1, with 26 of WUHF's employees (including
news anchors Melanie Barnas and Ty Chandler) joining the staff
of WROC and 26 more losing their jobs. Later this fall, WUHF
will relaunch its 10 PM news as a half-hour broadcast produced
by the WROC news staff.
More next week...
*SOMEWHERE IN TERMINAL C, CHICAGO O'HARE INTERNATIONAL
AIRPORT - Yup, United Airlines again. This time, unspecified
"air traffic delays" that are making for a very long
layover as we attempt to get home to NERW-land from our marathon
travels around Minnesota and Wisconsin, where we saw a whole
bunch of neat sites that we'll share with you in Tower Site of
the Week in the months to come. (Assuming, that is, that we ever
get home - and that we don't melt from the heat in a terminal
where the airline apparently can't afford to turn on the air
conditioning. On the bright side, we could have been flying Northwest...)
But enough about our airline woes - on with the week's news:
CANADA's largest market, the handful of viewers who ever
noticed "Toronto 1" (CKXT Channel 52) in its first
couple of years of operation will now have to get used to a new
name. The independent channel changed hands from Craig to Quebecor
earlier this year as part of CHUM's acquisition of Craig. That
deal brought the Craig "A-Channel" name to the former
CHUM "NewNet" stations across Ontario, and it forced
the spinoff of Toronto 1, which now leads to the new identity
Quebecor, of course, is the owner of the Toronto Sun,
and the company hopes that the new "SUN-TV" name for
the station will tap into the popularity of the downmarket tabloid
paper, much as Quebecor's Journal de Montreal and Journal
de Quebec cross-promote with the company's TVA network
to great success in Francophone Canada.
And it's no surprise at all that the rebranded SUN-TV will
focus its programming on sports and entertainment; the station's
ambitious news efforts were already minly history by the time
Quebecor took over.
(Hard-core Canadian media geeks will note that this move means
each of Toronto's major dailies will have or have had a broadcast
tie - the Toronto Star with its Toronto Star TV cable
network, the National Post with the co-owned Global
network, and the Globe and Mail with co-owned CTV and
the ROBtv business network.)
*Meanwhile, over at the CBC, the lockout is now in its second
week, leaving listeners and viewers with a stripped-down program
schedule across almost all of the network's services. The only
exceptions are in Quebec and Moncton, N.B., where a different
union represents Radio-Canada and CBC employees, so local CBC
programming and national Radio-Canada programming remains unaffected
commercial radio side, London's "Energy 103" (CFHK
103.1 St. Thomas) has evolved into "Fresh FM," dropping
much of the dance music it once played and becoming a more straightforward
top 40. The morning team of Big D, Mindy and Gord moves over
from sister station "FM96" (CFPL-FM 95.9 London).
And in Ottawa, Kneale Mann has signed on as the first PD at
the new "Live 88.5," due to sign on later this week.
Mann comes to the Evanov Media outlet from the PD post at Corus
*Our mystery of the week comes to us from
VERMONT, where our attention was recently drawn to www.us937.com, which appears
at first glance to be a new website for the station currently
known as WXAL (93.7 Addison).
There's been a lot going on at 93.7 in the last couple of
months - first, the station ditched its "Alice" modern
AC format in June and flipped to adult hits as "MP103,"
simulcasting with what's now known as WWMP (103.3 Waterbury)
and using the 103.3 identity exclusively. Then, a couple of weeks
ago, WXAL relocated its transmitter from the Middlebury site
it inherited from the old 100.9 there, moving across Lake Champlain
to Westport, New York and a stronger signal with even more overlap
it's no great surprise to hear talk of a break from the simulcast
on 103.3, and not much surprise to see that the website in question
claims the station will be doing classic country as "US93.7,"
with new calls WUSX. Those calls, alert readers just might note,
are the ones that WXAL owner Steven Silberberg recently requested
at his WVFM (105.7 Campton NH).
All the pieces are in place, then - but at press time Sunday
night, the word from the Burlington area is that 93.7 is still
simulcasting "MP103." As always...stay tuned.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, it's a busy week
at the Entercom cluster, where WRKO (680 Boston) program director
Mike Elder is the latest executive to leave the talk station.
This move doesn't appear to be related to the departure a week
earlier of GM Tom Baker, whose job was eliminated in an apparent
cost-saving measure; instead, it's a big opportunity for Elder,
who heads to New York to become director of talk programming
at fast-growing Fox News Radio. Even so, it makes for a big challenge
for WRKO, which has been facing tough competition from Greater
Media's WTKK (96.9 Boston).
Meanwhile, down the hall at WAAF (107.3 Westborough), the
active rock station is finally gearing up for a long-planned
signal upgrade. NERW hears that work will begin this week to
install a new antenna for the station at the Boylston site of
WUNI (Channel 27), a few miles closer to Boston than WAAF's longtime
home at Mount Asnebumskit in Paxton.
(And speaking of WAAF, former PD Keith Hastings was a busy
guy when we bumped into him last week in Milwaukee - just days
after returning home from his 'AAF gig, he blew up the modern
rock format at WLZR 102.9 there, replacing it with a broader
rock format as "The Hog." Yes, those were two big boxes
of pig noses in his office - and yes, that was former WFCC Chatham
PD Steve Murphy, now comfortably situated as PD/morning man at
Saga sister station WFMR, giving us a tour...)
Over at Clear Channel, the market was inadvertently set abuzz
at 3 o'clock Friday afternoon, when WKOX (1200 Framingham) abruptly
cut from progressive talk to Portuguese religion. After several
hours of intense message-board speculation about format changes,
the talk returned to 1200; apparently, something was switched
wrong in the Framingham facility that houses both WKOX and WSRO
(650 Ashland), whose programming was accidentally being heard
that ESPN programming is in place on WAMG (890 Dedham)/WLLH (1400
Lowell and Lawrence), it will be joined by some local sports
talk soon. A host for the 4-8 PM show will reportedly be announced
next week; the station will also be adding a Pats pregame show
on Monday nights, hosted by ex-Patriot Andre Tippett.
Down on Cape Cod, Kevin Matthews (late of WERZ in NEW HAMPSHIRE,
where he was doing mornings and APD/MD duties) joins WCOD (106.1
Hyannis) as PD and morning host; he replaces Cheryl Park there.
Out west, we're hearing rumors that changes are about to be
announced at the Vox stations in Berkshire County. Will it be
the long-awaited move of the WBEC-FM (105.5 Pittsfield) "Live"
top 40 format to another of the cluster's signals, as the 105.5
facility is moved east to the Pioneer Valley? More next week.
And our best wishes go out to WBCN legend Charles Laquidara,
who was injured last week when his motorcycle was hit by a car
near his home in Hawaii. He suffered several broken bones, but
is expected to recover fully.
*A format change in CONNECTICUT: WATR
(1320 Waterbury) ditches the "Music of Your Life" satellite
format and flips to "Good Time Oldies." Local programming
remains in place in mornings and middays.
*A format change in RHODE ISLAND,
too, where WCTD-LP (96.9 Ashaway) flipped last Monday from "Dance
Hits" to "Real Country 96.9."
*It was a fairly quiet week in NEW YORK,
though there are some new gigs to report. On the TV side, Arthur
Chi'en, the former WCBS-TV (Channel 2) reporter who was fired
in May after swearing at hecklers on camera, starts today as
a reporter at WPIX (Channel 11). On radio, two former WCBS-FM
jocks have new jobs, too: Mike Fitzgerald is being heard on weekends
at WLTW (106.7 New York), while Randy Davis moves to sister Infinity
station WNEW (102.7), where he's being heard Sunday mornings
and every other Saturday afternoon.
Binghamton's big radio reunion is set for September 24, and
the organizers are still looking for many "lost" Bingo
radio and TV personalities; check in at www.binghamtonradio.com
to see if you can help them out.
And out on Long Island, WLIX-LP (94.7 Ridge) launched last
Monday; we're told they're playing modern rock.
*It was a bad week for a legendary PENNSYLVANIA
station. The studios of KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh), along with sister
stations KDKA-TV (Channel 2) and WNPA (Channel 19), sit in a
prominent spot at Gateway Center, at the "Golden Triangle"
where the city's three rivers converge. It's a nice location,
but it's also subject to flooding, as the station found out when
a 36-inch water main burst just down the street on Wednesday.
The TV stations were hit the hardest, as their graphics computers,
news cameras and remote trucks were all located in the basement
of the complex, where they were more or less ruined by the water.
(So, for that matter, were many employees' personal vehicles.)
If that wasn't bad enough, on Friday a small fire in an elevator
forced the building to be evacuated mid-afternoon, sending KDKA-TV's
news outside and leaving KDKA radio afternoon host Fred Honsberger
alone in the building. (He was eventually persuaded to leave,
too, and he continued his show by cellphone from outside for
It's a good thing KDKA's owner, Infinity, has studio facilities
elsewhere in town for its other stations; KDKA was able to set
up temporary studios at the Infinity offices in Greentree while
it dealt with the issues downtown.
Up the road in Greenville, Ohio
Media Watch has been following the saga of WGRP (940) very
closely (even while traveling with your editor last week), and
here's the latest - the station is once again silent, and we're
hearing there may be some lawsuits flying over the use of some
of former WGRP programmer Vilkie Communications' facilities.
In Philadelphia, WYSP (94.1) has some lineup changes, as it
brings Kidd Chris in from KSRX in San Antonio to handle the 5-8
PM shift, effective August 29. For now, that moves Tommy Connell
to 10-2, Couzin Ed from 2-5 and Matt & Huggy from 8-11 -
but the rumor is that Kidd Chris is in line for the morning spot
now held by Howard Stern, whenever he departs terrestrial radio
*It's even more distant from NERW-land than Wisconsin and
Minnesota, but we'll close out this week's issue with a return
to Nome, Alaska, a market we profiled in Tower
Site of the Week a couple of years ago. Our man in Nome,
former Rhode Islander Les Brown, who consults Nome's KNOM on
engineering, checked in to report that the "other"
station in town, KICY (850), suffered a devastating fire at its
transmitter site last Wednesday. The station had just installed
a new Harris DX50 transmitter in a new building, and that was
undamaged - but the old transmitter building, which was destroyed,
housed the phasor and ATU, and now they're working to get the
parts they need to get the station back on the air. (And thanks,
again, to Les for the pictures.)
*Tower Site Calendar 2006 is
now in the hands of our printer, and we'll begin taking orders
in just a few days!
In the meantime,
our Tower Site Calendar 2005 clearance continues, and
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. ($8.64 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 $17.28 in
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 $5.40 for the 2004 calendar, $10.80 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, as
part of our Early Summer Subscription Drive, you can be among
the first to reserve your free 2006 Tower Site Calendar with
your $60 subscription - and we'll even send you a 2005 as well,
if you ask. 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
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.%) 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.)
Thanks for your support!
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
2005 by Scott Fybush.