AM Oldies: Buffalo Loses, Scranton Gains
*It was just a few hours after last week's
NERW went up on the site when the phone began ringing off the
hook here at NERW Central.
"Quick! Turn on 1520! KB's dropping oldies at 3,"
was the message - and with that, western NEW YORK was
launched on that oddest of early 21st century radio battles:
a liberal talk war.
The impetus, of course, is today's "soft launch"
of a mixture of Air America and local talk on WHLD (1270 Niagara
Falls), under an LMA from Citadel. (The full program schedule
at WHLD, including Ray Marks' local morning show, will apparently
launch March 1.)
whether it's been in the works for months (as Entercom claims),
or whether it was hurriedly whipped together in a matter of days,
Entercom's reaction was to pull the plug on the struggling oldies
format at WWKB (1520 Buffalo) with no more fanfare than an hour
of "goodbye" tunes - and then head right into the launch
of "Buffalo's Left Channel."
The lineup on the new 1520 begins with Jones' Bill Press show
in morning drive, followed by Lockport native Stephanie Miller
at 9. At noon, it's a local show (well, a show done by ISDN from
California exclusively for 1520) with Leslie Marshall, who's
familiar to Buffalo listeners from an earlier stint at WGR and
fill-in duty at Entercom's big talker, WBEN (930). Ed Schultz
is on at 3, followed by a Stephanie Miller repeat, WOR's Lionel
at 10, and WOR's Joey Reynolds (a holdover from the oldies KB)
The move came as a blow, of course, for fans of KB's oldies
format - but the outcry seemed to be far louder away from Buffalo,
where 1520's blowtorch of a night signal reached Washington and
Long Island and New England, than it was in Buffalo, where the
station's ratings never quite seemed to justify even the modest
effort being expended on local programming. The move leaves the
morning team of Danny Neaverth and Tom Donahue out of work, and
it puts an end to some of the greatest voice-tracking in history,
courtesy of Jackson Armstrong. KB midday jock Sandy Beach remains
with Entercom, of course, hosting the afternoon talk show on
WBEN, and PD Hank Dole still has his day job as well, programming
the company's WLKK (107.7 the Lake.)
And of course the great wheel of speculation is busy spinning:
will WHLD's big names, Ray Marks and Al Franken, outweigh the
"inside baseball" labor talk and Democracy Radio programming
that will fill much of the rest of its schedule? Will 1520's
big draws, Miller and Marshall, draw audience away from WHLD
during a weak part of its day - or will they pull listeners away
from Entercom's cash cow, WBEN, instead? Will KB's disenfranchised
oldies listeners go over to Citadel's WHTT (104.1) and its 70s-oriented,
classic rock-leaning version of the format? Have Buffalo listeners
heard the last of Neaverth and Shannon? (We'd bet against it.)
Can WJJL, Buffalo's other AM oldies station, manage to get its
new West Seneca transmitter site built, to put a more solid and
competitive signal over the Queen City?
The last word, for now, has to go to Armstrong, who had this
to say over at DCRTV.com: "Maybe our paths will cross again
and we can continue to prove that good radio isnt dead.
It is just severely suppressed."
MANDATORY SUBSCRIPTION FEES?
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reelradio.com - was forced
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of keeping that wonderful site on line. Out on the West Coast,
subscription fees are a fact of life at LARadio.com
and SDRadio.net, too.
Here at fybush.com/North East
RadioWatch, we've managed to hold off from imposing a password
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*The week's other big story from NEW YORK was, of course,
Disney's long-delayed announcement that it's selling most of
its ABC Radio holdings to Citadel in a "reverse Morris trust"
arrangement valued at $2.7 billion.
Disney will keep
the Radio Disney and ESPN Radio networks, as well as its O&O
stations affiliated with those networks (in this region, Radio
Disney's WMKI 1260 Boston, WDDZ 550 Pawtucket, WDZK 1550 Bloomfield
CT, WDDY 1460 Albany NY and WWJZ 640 Mount Holly NJ, ESPN's WEPN
1050 New York and WEAE 1250 Pittsburgh, and the LMA with the
New York Times for WQEW 1560 New York). It'll also keep the "ABC"
name, though it will license it to Citadel for a year (and will
license ABC News product to Citadel for ten years.)
Citadel will get the core ABC Radio stations, including WABC
(770 New York) and WPLJ (95.5 New York), and the watchword for
now is "stability." At least for now, it appears that
little will change in terms of management, programming - or,
yes, call letters - at the station group.
Meanwhile, state attorney general Eliot Spitzer's payola probe
has now escalated to the FCC level, with potentially hundreds
of stations implicated in an ongoing national investigation.
The move came, apparently, as Spitzer was prepared to shift the
focus of his investigation from record companies (he's already
won big settlements from several) to the stations and broadcast
groups that were allegedly taking money and gifts from the record
companies and independent promoters. (By far the most interesting
speculation we've heard about this story is that the record companies
are encouraging the investigation, looking for a way to break
the cycle that had them spending lots of money for airplay that
their music probably would have gotten anyway.)
Out on Long Island's East End, WHBE (96.7 East Hampton) completed
its move to 96.9 Friday night. While the station remains a class
A signal, the frequency change allows it to drop its directional
antenna, extending its westward reach towards Riverhead and beyond.
Also out in the Hamptons, the FCC has allocated another frequency
to the area - a class A signal on 94.5 in Water Mill. The original
petition for the allocation called for the signal to be on 103.3,
but that set off alarms at Connecticut's WSHU, which operates
translator W277AB Noyack on that frequency. W277AB is a "superpower"
250-watt translator, granted that status by the FCC because it
served a "white area" with no other noncommercial service
- and WSHU argued that the signal therefore deserved protection,
which translators usually don't have. If the FCC hadn't agreed
(and if 94.5 hadn't been available as an alternate frequency
for the Water Mill allocation), WSHU had another card up its
sleeve: it would have applied to move its other service in the
region, WSUF (89.9 Noyack), to 103.3.
In the Albany market,
Pamal finally pulled the plug on the yearlong simulcast of Glens
Falls country station WFFG (107.1 Corinth) over WZMR (104.9 Altamont).
The simulcast never seemed to draw much audience, which was no
surprise, since the liners, promos and spot load remained solidly
focused on Glens Falls and Lake George (and, indeed, barely even
mentioned the Albany frequency.) WZMR spent the weekend stunting,
with the new format due to arrive on Monday.
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: WZMR
relaunched early this morning with modern rock as "the Edge,"
reviving the slogan and format last heard on WQBK (103.9 Rensselaer)/WQBJ
(103.5 Cobleskill) before those stations flipped to album rock
as "Q103" in December upon the departure of Howard
Albany listeners also spent the week mourning Bill Edwardsen,
a fixture of Albany radio since he arrived at WGY (810 Schenectady)
in 1954. Edwardsen spent 16 years at WGY and sister TV station
WRGB, doing mornings on the radio station, a midday show on TV
and, for a time, afternoons on WGY as well. He left WGY in 1970
for Cleveland's WJW, but returned two years later to spend the
rest of his career in Albany, working at WQBK, WMVI, WABY, WGNA
and, most recently, WVCR. Edwardsen, who started his career at
WNLK in Norwalk, Connecticut, died last Monday (Feb. 6) at age
On the TV dial, Sinclair's WSYT (Channel 68) in Syracuse may
no longer offer a 10 PM newscast when its deal with Granite's
WTVH (Channel 5) to produce the broadcast expires April 22. (WTVH
also produces a 7-8 AM newscast for WSYT.) Managers at the Fox
affiliate say they'd like to continue the newscast - but they
may have a hard time finding a partner. NBC affiliate WSTM, which
produced the WSYT show before WTVH took over a few years back,
now does its own 10 PM show on co-owned UPN affiliate WSTQ-LP,
and that leaves Clear Channel's ABC affiliate, WSYR-TV, and Time
Warner's News 10 Now (whose anchors now work from Albany) as
potential content partners. (It seems like a pretty good bet
that WSYT won't launch a new "News Central" operation,
in any case.)
in Rochester, former WROC-TV (Channel 8) reporter/weekend anchor
Rachel Barnhart filed suit against the station last week, trying
to invalidate the clause in her contract that bars her from working
on the air at other radio and TV stations in the market for the
rest of the year. The suit claims officials at the Nexstar station
tried to force Barnhart to renew her contract as a general-assignment
reporter, without the lucrative anchor shifts - and that that
amounted to a "constructive discharge" that has left
her unable to get a job in her hometown, in the only field in
which she has experience.
While Barnhart's lawyer, former state lawmaker Rick Dollinger,
appeared on WHAM's Bob Lonsberry show to talk about the suit,
readers of the Democrat and Chronicle, the city's daily
paper, still haven't read a word about the situation, a far cry
from the extensive reporting that similar non-compete lawsuits
have generated in other markets.
(One more bit of WROC-TV news: after being effectively off
the air for much of the winter due to encoder problems, WROC-DT
finally flipped the switch on its higher-powered channel 45 signal
late last week, becoming the last Rochester station to carry
network HD programming. Most local viewers won't see it, though;
despite the incessant cable company ads reminding HDTV buyers
that local HD signals aren't available on satellite, a carriage
impasse with Nexstar is keeping the DTV signals from WROC and
from Fox affiliate WUHF, which Nexstar manages for Sinclair,
off cable as well. Only those of us with antennas and over-the-air
DTV receivers get the full spectrum of local DTV offerings in
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most economical way to reach tens of thousands of Northeast radio
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*In MASSACHUSETTS, WILD (1090 Boston)
has hired a new morning talk host, returning Jimmy Myers to a
regular shift for the first time in too many years. Myers, whose
resume includes stints at WWZN, WEEI, WFXT, NECN and the old
WBPS, handles the sign-on to 10 AM shift at the Radio One urban
talk station (with sign-on finally getting back to 6 AM next
month at the daytime-only facility.)
Former WILD-FM (97.7 Brockton) PD/afternoon jock Lamar "LBD"
Robinson has a new gig: he's heading to Clear Channel's WJMN
(94.5) for weekend duties, where he replaces "Master Jay."
Former WZLX PD Beau Raines has resurfaced in Denver, where
he's programming Entercom's AAA KQMT (99.5).
In the public radio arena, WUMB (91.9 Boston) is once again
carrying WXPN's "World Cafe" five nights a week at
9 PM (with a repeat at 3 AM). WUMB has also added HD Radio service
to two more of its repeaters, WBPR (91.9 Worcester) and WNEF
On the North Shore, WNSH (1570 Beverly) has added more syndicated
talk - it's taking Laura Ingraham at 9 AM and Michael Reagan
at 6 PM. Owner Keating Willcox has moved the studios to a barn
on his property in Hamilton, where he reports the odd dog and
donkey makes its presence heard during live shows.
Out on Cape Cod, WPXC (102.9 Hyannis) is picking up CBS' "Rover's
Morning Glory" show to fill the morning hole left vacant
by Howard Stern's departure in December. Rover's already heard
in the region on Rochester's WZNE, as well as on CBS stations
in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus and Memphis.
There are new calls for W28CT in Springfield - when it signs
on from the WWLP site on Provin Mountain, it'll be WXCW-CA, and
there's already speculation that the new calls indicate an affiliation
with the new CW network. Stay tuned...
And while we have few details to report, we can tell you that
Paul Monson, who did mornings in the forties and fifties on WSPR
(1270 Springfield), died Feb. 4 in Port Orange, Florida.
*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, veteran morning
man Konrad Kayne joins WNTK-FM (99.7 Newport)/WUVR (1490 Lebanon)
for the 6-9 AM shift.
*The big news from CONNECTICUT was
Rick Vaughn's departure from the PD chair at WKSS (95.7 Hartford).
He's headed up the Clear Channel food chain, becoming PD at Philadelphia's
WIOQ (102.1), where he replaces Todd Shannon. (Shannon, in turn,
joins CC research subsidiary Critical Mass Media.) Jojo Brooks
is the acting PD at WKSS.
In Windsor, the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum has
found a new home. It's buying a 20,000 square foot building there,
and hoping to reopen this fall.
*There's a new station on the air in NEW
JERSEY: WWFP (90.5 Brigantine) has received its license to
cover, and it's now serving the Atlantic City area with CSN religious
In Trenton, WBUD
(1260) flipped to ABC's "Unforgettable Favorites" satellite
standards service last week, with only a few local weekend programs
remaining on the schedule.
*In PENNSYLVANIA, Clear Channel's
management reshuffle moves former New York Trading Region senior
VP Manuel Rodriguez into the same position in the Philadelphia
Trading Region (which also serves several outlying Pennsylvania
markets and New York's Hudson Valley.) In addition to bringing
Rick Vaughn down from WKSS to serve as WIOQ's PD, Rodriguez has
named WDAS/WUSL PD Thea Mitchem as the Philadelphia cluster's
Over at Greater Media's WPEN (950 Philadelphia), Jason Bennett
has been named "head coach" (aka program director).
Bennett comes to WPEN from ESPN Radio, where he was producing
the Dan Patrick show; his resume also includes stops at WTBQ
Warwick NY and WEOK Poughkeepsie.
While Buffalo was losing its AM oldies station, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
market was gaining two oldies signals last week. Citadel's WARM
(590 Scranton) finally pulled the plug on its struggling news-talk
format, flipping to ABC's "True Oldies." The station's
still having audio and transmitter problems, we're hearing.
Over in Tunkhannock, WBZR (107.7) dropped its "Buzzard"
country format and also flipped to oldies, picking up the WGMF
calls that used to be in Watkins Glen, New York. It's now "Gem
Still more Scranton news: Mark McKay is out as PD of WBHT
(97.1 Mountain Top)/WBHD (95.7 Olyphant), with no replacement
yet named. Holy Family Communications is turning its LMA of WITK
(1550 Pittston) into a purchase, paying Robert C. Cordaro Inc.
$940,000 for the station. And Mike Kaye (formerly of WBAX and
WARM) is joining WNAK (730 Nanticoke)/WNAK-FM (94.3 Carbondale)
as morning host, shifting Paula Deignan to middays.
There's a station
sale in central Pennsylvania as well: Richard Cooper's Cooper
Communications is paying Hepco Communications $2 million for
WQLV (98.9 Millersburg), which serves the area north of Harrisburg
with AC as "Love 99."
It's not often that an FM station voluntarily downgrades from
class B1 to class A, but Forever Broadcasting has been granted
a construction permit to do just that to WWOT (100.1 Altoona).
It will downgrade from 17 kW/403' to 810 watts/883' at a different
tower on Wopsononock Mountain - but the move will clear the way
for sister station WXOT (99.5 Mount Union) to move to the State
College market, upgrading from its current class A signal east
of Altoona to a B1 signal (850 watts/1368') from a new site in
And in Pittsburgh, Alex Langer has applied for a nice upgrade
at WPYT (660 Wilkinsburg). If granted, the station would boost
day power from 260 watts to 1400 watts at the site it now shares
with WURP (1550 Braddock) - but WURP won't be there much longer,
since it's been granted a move to Reserve Township that will
relocate its transmitter to share the Millvale site of WAMO (860),
much closer to downtown Pittsburgh. (It will run 2 kW days, 10
watts night from that location.)
the NERW Archives
(Yup, we've been doing this a long time now, and
so we're digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW
was covering one, five and ten years ago this week. Thanks to
LARadio.com for the idea
- and thanks to you, our readers, for the support
that's made all these years of NERW possible!)
February 14, 2005 -
- TRENTON, N.J. - It's a week of change in NEW JERSEY - and
not just the big flip here in Trenton that's taking place this
afternoon. That, of course, is the Nassau swap that's moving
top 40 WPST (97.5 Trenton) to 94.5 and shifting classic hits
"Hawk" WTHK (94.5 Trenton) to 97.5. It's a preface
to a bigger move that's at least a year down the road, in which
the 97.5 signal will move to Burlington, becoming a full-fledged
Philadelphia market signal. We'll be listening and rolling tape,
and we'll have more on this move next week.
- There's a format change coming in NEW YORK's Catskills region,
and it's being heralded with a Valentine's Day stunt. WFKP (99.3
Ellenville) dropped its simulcast of top 40 "Kiss"
WPKF (96.1 Poughkeepsie) on Friday and spent the weekend playing
love songs as "Cupid 99.3," complete with a hokey-sounding
"Cupid" doing liners. NERW hears the station's headed
to "Lite" territory when the stunting ends, presumably
in tandem with "Lite 92.1" WRNQ Poughkeepsie.
February 12, 2001 -
- How do you get out of a $6,000 FCC indecency fine? If you're
Howard Stern's NEW YORK flagship, the answer seems to be "wait
five years or so." Back in 1997, the FCC issued a Notice
of Apparent Liability against Infinity's WXRK (92.3) for material
Stern broadcast in October 1995, March 1996 and June 1996. Two
Stern affiliates, WBZU in Richmond and WEZB in New Orleans, were
also fined -- and paid. Infinity took a different tack, contesting
the fine, and it looks like its patience paid off: last week,
the FCC announced that "because a significant amount of
time has elapsed since the broadcasts," the Commission won't
continue pushing for the money. (We suspect Infinity's "voluntary
contribution" a few years back didn't hurt matters with
the FCC, either.) So what does it all mean? Look for more stations
to play a similar waiting game with the Commission where fines
are concerned; they have little to lose and, apparently, much
to gain by doing so.
- Our next stop this week is CANADA, where change just keeps
coming to Ontario's radio dial. Friday night marked the debut
of CFXJ (93.5 Toronto) as "Flow 93.5," the city's first
commercial station aimed at the black community. With Michelle
Price as program director and new studios on Yonge Street across
from Eaton Centre, the station says it will have full programming
ready to go on March 5.
- We didn't believe it at first when we heard about the newest
format in CONNECTICUT (though, given the source, we should have),
but it's true: Buckley's four-station AM network is now going
by "The Best of Everything." WDRC (1360 Hartford),
WMMW (1470 Meriden), WWCO (1240 Waterbury) and WSNG (610 Torrington)
aren't exactly segueing from Percy Faith to Iron Maiden, but
they are adding newer artists to their adult-standards playlists.
February 8, 1996 -
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- The WBPS saga continues, as Mark Shneyder
has been reporting in the Boston Radio Watch. This ill-fated
signal has been on the air for not much more than a year, most
of it leased by owner Douglas Broadcasting to Prime Sports. Now
that lease is over, and the last Prime Sports on 890 will have
aired at noon on Thursday, 2/8. The 26000/3400 watt signal will
go to music for a few days, then to leased-time ethnic next week.
There's already leased-time ethnic in town on 950 WROL, 1150
WMEX, 1330 WRCA, 1360 WLYN, 1550 WNTN, and 1600 WUNR. I think
on balance, I'd rather have WLS at night...
- Kiss 108, WXKS-FM Medford-Boston, promotes
itself as being "Where the Stars Come Out to Play"...and
Kiss stars Matt Siegel, JJ Wright, Dale Dorman, et al. will be
playing in the big leagues on Friday, That's when Kiss' new corporate
owner, Evergreen, will be simulcasting Kiss-108 over WYNY-103.5
New York, as part of 'YNY's ongoing format change from country
to something as yet unannounced. Other Evergreen stations getting
a Big Apple tryout over WYNY include WRCX, Chicago; KKBT, Los
Angeles; and KMEL, San Francisco.
- The Twin Falls Calvary Church in Twin
Falls, Idaho, remains convinced that people out here really want
to hear their station KAWZ-FM...so much so that they've now applied
for a translator on 97.9 in Fitchburg. Doesn't sound like much
common sense went into this one, as WINQ-FM operates on 97.7
less than 20 miles down the road in Winchendon, Mass.
- Not emanating from New England, to
be sure, but two expanded-band AMs are pounding into the region.
WJDM on 1660, of course, with its new Radio AAHS format...and
as I type this, I'm enjoying everyone's favorite Army experimental
station, KTRK/ARMY/ABS on 1670 from Fort Meade MD.
*Didn't find a Tower Site Calendar
2006 under the tree/menorah/Blaw-Knox diamond tower model
of your choice over the holidays? Our supply is running low,
but you've still got time to place your order - don't wait!
We've got to say,
we're especially proud of the way this year's calendar 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
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
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2006 by Scott Fybush.