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August 29, 2005
WPEN Heads For The Locker Room
*MONDAY UPDATE: Your editor doesn't normally see two of his
former colleagues at WBZ making news on the same day, but it's
an unusual Monday. Over at WBZ itself, Jay McQuaide is departing
at week's end to join Blue Cross/Blue Shield, reports AllAccess.com.
Jay got his start in the business at WLLH in Lowell (opposite
yours truly at WCAP), and after a detour to Orlando's WDBO (580),
he landed at WBZ in 1992 as midday anchor and designated fill-in
for morning man Gary LaPierre.
And the guy who hired Jay (and your
editor) at WBZ is returning to the Boston radio scene. Brian
Whittemore left the PD/ND chair at WBZ in 1996 to go to KDKA
in Pittsburgh and then WCCO in Minneapolis as GM. He's been out
of the WCCO job for a couple of years, but now he's headed to
WRKO to fill the operations manager post left vacant by Mike
Elder's move to Fox News Radio. Welcome back, boss!
*It's been not much more than a year since WPEN
(950 Philadelphia) dropped its long-running standards format
and flipped to oldies, challenging the market's oldies leader,
Infinity's WOGL (98.1), with a jock lineup that included familiar
Philly voices like Jerry "Geator" Blavat, Jim Nettleton
and Christy Springfield.
On October 3, WPEN will drop the oldies and become PENNSYLVANIA's
newest sports station, going up against the dominance of Infinity's
WIP (610) with a lineup that will include Jim Rome in middays,
former WIP (and WFAN) host Jody McDonald in afternoons and Sporting
News Radio's Tony Bruno (who got his start at WIP) in late mornings.
WPEN enters the battle with a newly-strengthened night signal,
now that it's running 21 kW after dark from the site of daytimer
WWDB (860), but it doesn't have much else going for it right
out of the starting gate. The station had the Phillies for a
few years, but its old 5 kW night signal didn't meet the team's
expectations, so the baseball games are now on Infinity's WPHT
(1210). And while WPEN was rumored to be picking up the rights
to 76ers basketball, the team decided to stay with WIP for another
(On the other hand, WPEN will reportedly drop much of the
leased-time programming it's been running all weekend.)
Over on the other side of the state, WKST-FM (96.1 Pittsburgh)
is losing its OM/PD, as Mark Anderson heads to Las Vegas in November
to work for Audience Development Group. No word yet on a replacement
South of Da Burgh, WANB (1580 Waynesburg) changes calls to
WXXP, which NERW notes was the callsign on Pittsburgh's pioneering
modern rocker (now WZPT 100.7 New Kensington) more than a decade
And in Erie, Joe McIntyre's leaving WRTS (103.7) to program
top 40 WQQB (96.1 Rantoul IL) in the Champaign, Illinois market.
*In NEW JERSEY, they're mourning Ed Beck,
the talented radio jack-of-all-trades who was making a name for
himself as a voiceover artist, jock (nights at "Breeze"
WWZY 107.1 Long Branch) and station manager (WDDM 89.3 Hazlet).
Ed died at his home in Belmar last Wednesday (August 24) at the
far too young age of 33.
*A quiet week in NEW YORK, with just
a couple of Radio People on the Move to report. In Albany, Rob
Ryan is the new PD at WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville), inbound from
KLZR/KKYD in Topeka. And in Utica, WLZW (98.7) PD/afternoon jock
Peter Naughton's leaving for the bright lights of TV, where he'll
be working at WSYR-TV (Channel 9) in Syracuse.
Probably the biggest move of the week is downstate, though,
where three staffers at WBLI (106.1 Patchogue) are headed up
to Poughkeepsie to take over the morning slot at WPDH (101.5)
formerly occupied by Karlson and McKenzie. The moves by middayer
Reno, MD/weekend jock LJ Lovely and weekend jock Matt Goldapper
will leave a slew of openings for J.J. Rice and his crew to fill
at WBLI, no doubt.
We hear that the staff at WROC-TV (Channel 8) in Rochester
is "cautiously excited" about the impending addition
of a 10 PM newscast that they'll be doing for Sinclair's WUHF
(Channel 31). WUHF's News Central broadcast will go off the air
Thursday (Sept. 1), and the word from WROC's Humboldt Street
facility is that they hope to have the retooled 10 PM newscast
ready to debut before Election Day in November, using WUHF anchor/reporters
Melanie Barnas and Ty Chandler along with the WROC staff.
NERW notes that the Sinclair "News Central" concept
has been a hard sell in our region. Two Sinclair stations, ABC
affiliate WGGB (Channel 40) in Springfield, Mass. and CBS affiiliate
WGME (Channel 13) in Portland, Maine had well-established news
operations before News Central debuted and never adopted the
News Central concept. In Syracuse, Fox affiliate WSYT (Channel
68) has a long history of contracting out for its 10 PM newscast
(currently with Granite's WTVH), and that hasn't changed. In
Buffalo, News Central launched from scratch at WB affiliate WNYO-TV
(Channel 49) and has failed to achieve much traction in the market,
with Sinclair recently cutting the broadcast back to 30 minutes
from an hour. Only in Rochester and Pittsburgh (at Fox affiliate
WPGH) has Sinclair replaced a fully-local news operation with
News Central. Rochester's backing away from the concept now;
will Pittsburgh - where ratings have suffered at WPGH - be next?
While we're on the TV side of the equation, as we watch nervously
to see what havoc Hurricane Katrina wreaks on the Gulf Coast,
we're thinking particularly of one upstate New York native who's
working down there. Jeff Baskin grew up in Rochester and spent
some time at Utica's WKTV before becoming a meteorologist at
New Orleans Fox affiliate WVUE (Channel 8) some five years ago.
He was just about to make a big move to Portland, Oregon and
KOIN-TV this week; we'll keep our fingers crossed that he - and
everyone else down there - rides the storm out safely.
And one more Rochester note: a spin of the dial at NERW Central
today found WMJQ (105.5 Brockport) operating on its new frequency,
104.9, with considerably better coverage of Rochester from its
new site in the western suburb of Ogden. Owner George Kimble
leases the signal out to EMF for its "K-Love" contemporary
Christian format. (NERW notes that the move to 104.9 likely displaces
two unprotected Rochester-area signals: newcomer WNYL-LP 104.9
down in Lima and long-running high school station WIRQ on 104.7,
which is now on its fourth frequency since starting out on 90.9
way back in 1959.)
format change we were wondering about in VERMONT last
week - the arrival of classic country at WXAL (93.7 Addison)
- still hasn't happened, but there's another change in the works
within Steve Silberberg's cluster of stations on the shore of
Lake Champlain. Next Monday (Sept. 6), WVAA (1390 Burlington)
will pick up the Air America talk and WTWK calls currently being
heard on the daytime-only 1070 signal from Plattsburgh, N.Y.
NERW notes that there's a long history of calls and formats
moving between these two signals; 1390's previous identity as
WKDR had also migrated across the lake from 1070 some years back.
And we note that when 1390 flips to WTWK in a week's time, the
format it'll be abandoning will be...yup, classic country. We're
now hearing that August 30 will be the day when the country moves
to 93.7. Stay tuned...
Down I-89 at sister station WNCS (104.7 Montpelier), Mark
Abuzzahab is departing the PD chair. He's headed for one of the
motherships of the AAA format, Clear Channel's KBCO (97.3 Boulder
CO), where he'll be MD/night jock.
And - can it be? We hear construction is finally underway
on Mount Mansfield for a new monopole tower that will handle
analog and digital signals for most of Burlington's TV stations
and for WEZF (92.9) and WVPS (107.9), as well, replacing the
small cluster of towers that now crown Vermont's highest point.
It's taken many years to get through the tangle of regulatory
and NIMBY issues that have hampered construction up there; we'll
keep you posted as construction progresses.
(While we're on the subject of Vermont TV, we were pleased
to see that former WVNY Channel 22 news director Peter Speciale
has a new ND gig, at WCJB in Gainesville, Florida. Speciale lost
his job along with the rest of the WVNY news staff when the station
cancelled its newscast a couple of years ago; he'd been working
for HDNet in the meantime.)
*In MASSACHUSETTS, Alex Seseske is retiring
from WUPE (95.9 Pittsfield)/WMNB (100.1 North Adams) after a
three-decade career with WUPE, most of that time as its morning
man. For the last few years, Seseske has been doing middays;
he'll be replaced in that slot by Eric Greene, who moves over
from WBEC-FM (105.5 Pittsfield) as that station edges ever closer
to its move out of the Berkshires and into the Springfield market.
Over in Worcester, PD Chris DelVecchio checked in from WCHC
(88.1) to report that the College of the Holy Cross station is
suffering from technical problems that are keeping it at very
low power, restricting the signal to not much beyond the Holy
Cross campus. They're looking for help - and if you can help
WCHC out, we'd be happy to put you in touch with them.
Hall cluster in southeast CONNECTICUT did some format
shuffling last week, putting classic hits on WNLC (98.7 East
Lyme) as "98.7 the Sound." The standards that had been
heard on WNLC move to sister station WICH (1310 Norwich), which
keeps its full-service format but tweaks its music elements,
replacing the AC that it had been playing. Consultant Clark Smidt
worked with VP/programming Jim Reed and GM Andy Russell on the
*Most of CANADA remains without much
useful service from CBC radio and television, as the lockout
of thousands of CBC employees enters its third week with no resolution
in sight. From what we've been hearing of CBC radio, it's largely
automated music programming, while CBC TV is using BBC news to
replace Canadian newscasts and otherwise mainly showing repeats.
The rest of the radio dial has been spinning pretty furiously
on the northern shore of Lake Ontario lately. First, CHUM flipped
CKLY (91.9 Lindsay) from AC "Y92" to adult hits "91.9
Bob FM," bringing the "we play anything" bandwagon
to that corner of Ontario.
And no sooner did
that flip happen than Loyalist College's CJLX (92.3 Belleville)
began testing its new signal at 91.3. CJLX station manager Greg
Schatzmann checked in to report that the new 91.3 is running
2.9 kW from about 300' up the Oak Hill radio tower north of Belleville,
a big improvement over CJLX's previous 50-watt operation. The
station hopes to begin regular programming on 91.3 by mid to
And to the west, the last daytime-only AM in Canada may be
coming to its end. The CRTC last week granted the application
of CKOT (1510 Tillsonburg) to move to FM - but with a catch.
The Commission also granted Byrnes Communications' application
for a new FM on 104.7 in Woodstock, which will run 1910 watts
with an AC format. 104.7 was also the frequency CKOT wanted,
so the grant of its application comes with a "find a new
frequency" requirement. The CRTC examined the possible use
of 107.3 at low power, which might mean that the daytime-only
1510 signal would stay on the air as a simulcast. Stay tuned.
know what the news is...now - no, we won't steal Mr. Harvey's
line - how about a calendar? Tower Site Calendar 2006 is
just back from the printer, and we've got to say, we're especially
proud of the way this one turned out.
Once again, we bring you more than a dozen images from the
fybush.com collection that have never seen print before, including
that nifty nighttime view of New York's WMCA that graces the
cover. You also get to see WSB, KTAR, Mount Wilson, CBV and many,
many more, plus all those fun dates in radio and TV history,
civil and religious holidays, a handy full-page 2007 calendar,
and the always-popular hole for hanging.
And we do it all with no increase in price, for the fourth
The calendars are shipping now, so there's no need to wait
until the holidays to enjoy all that tall steel and all that
broadcast history. Order now and beat the rush!
You can get one free with your 2006 subscription
to NERW at the $60 level, or order the calendar (plus other goodies)
at our brand new fybush.com
Store! We think you'll like this one - and as always,
we thank you 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.