June 12, 2006
WCAP's Cohen Honored for 55 Years
*No radio owner in MASSACHUSETTS - or
pretty much anywhere else, as best we can tell - has been around
longer than Maurice Cohen. With his brothers Ike and Ted, he
put WCAP (980 Lowell) on the air June 10, 1951. Fifty-five years
later, many of the radio people whose careers took them up the
long staircase at 243 Central Street (your editor included) returned
to Lowell for a combination reunion/anniversary celebration/salute
WCAP news director Gary Francis hosted the event at his Gary's
Ice Cream shop in downtown Lowell, and former WCAP talk host
Bill O'Neill anchored the four-hour live broadcast from the reunion,
with Mark Watson at the control board and production pieces from
longtime WCAP producer Dan Bourret.
That's Boston radio historian Donna Halper, above at left,
presenting Maurice with a citation and plaque from the Massachusetts
Broadcasters Association, honoring him for 55 years on the air
(all, we'd note, from the same studio location and just two transmitter
Above at right is the reunion of WCAP's former morning team,
Joe Corcoran and Casey Crane. He's now a bank manager on the
North Shore, while she's now in the New Hampshire state legislature.
At left is Julie (Stinneford) Sider, who's moved on from the
WCAP newsroom to a big career in voiceover work. (She's the "Julie"
whose automated greetings prompt you at Amtrak's toll-free line.)
In addition to current WCAP staffers (that's PD/play-by-play
guy Ryan Johnston with Bill O'Neill and Gary Francis in the photo
at right), the reunion brought together some long-ago veterans.
Clark Smidt didn't actually work at WCAP anywhere in his long
career, but he stopped by to offer congratulations and to say
hello to Jim Reed, whose early days at WCAP led to his job today
running Hall Radio's Connecticut stations. Other names from WCAP's
earlier years included Fred Faust and Dan Gillette, and the long
history of WCAP news was well-represented with Barry Pretzel
(who's now at WRFR-LP up on the Maine coast), Dave Faneuf, Susan
Czepiel, Bill Smith, Mary Blake - and no doubt many more I'm
forgetting. (Four hours wasn't long enough for all the catching-up
taking place at the reunion!)
Maurice also received honors from several Lowell politicos,
including former mayor Rita Mercier, state senator Steve Panagiotakos
- and a wonderful front-page mockup from Lowell Sun publisher
A lot of fuss for one small-town radio station? You bet -
but in an era when so many towns have lost their local radio
voices (think of WJDA in Quincy, WESX in Salem and WCAP's Merrimack
Valley rivals WCCM, WLLH and WSMN), a salute is in order to owners
like Maurice Cohen, who've resisted lucrative purchase offers
year after year in order to keep doing radio the way they learned
it many decades ago.
(And all these years after first stepping behind the WCAP
microphone, your editor finally got to see the WCAP transmitter
the next morning. You'll see that - plus the studios,
in all their historic glory - on Friday's Tower Site of the Week.)
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*Over in Springfield, Entercom has named a station manager
for its soon-to-debut WVEI-FM (105.5 Easthampton). Jerry Hyland
was previously market manager for Clear Channel's Springfield
There's a new address for the radio station at UMass/Dartmouth,
too: on Saturday morning, WSMU (91.1) signed on its new, more-powerful
signal, WUMD (89.3) on Saturday morning - and after a brief simulcast
period, the WSMU programming (a variety of student and community
shows) will move permanently to WUMD.
WSMU will then change hands, becoming the Bay State's newest
outlet for the fast-growing "K-Love" religious network
based in California.
Veteran Boston jock Stella Mars has a new address, too: she's
moved from WBMX (98.5) to WMJX (106.7), where she's now doing
weekend and swing work.
Out on Cape Cod, the FCC hits WKPE-FM (104.7 Orleans) with
a $4,000 fine for problems with its public file - but it does
renew the station's license, clearing the way for an eventual
sale by Charles River Broadcasting. (And no, there's nothing
at all new to report on that front.)
And we close our Massachusetts report this week with
the death of Malcolm Soll, the DJ better known as "Austin
of Boston." Soll began his career on Long Island, working
at WLIR (92.7 Garden City), then moved into New York radio at
WLIB (1190) and WKHK (106.7) before moving to Boston in 1987
to work at eclectic rocker WMRQ (103.3). When WMRQ became "Oldies
103" WODS the next year, Austin became its morning man,
remaining there for a decade. He later worked at WROR (105.7),
then spent seven years in morning drive at WSRS (96.1 Worcester).
Soll, who was just 56, died June 5 of complications from a
blood clot. He's survived by his wife, Grace, and three children.
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*A further update to the evening talk shuffling
taking place in RHODE ISLAND: with Jay Severin replacing
Sean Hannity in the 7-10 PM slot on WPRO (630 Providence), Hannity
moves to the 10 PM-1 AM slot there. That displaces Michael Savage,
who moves up the dial to Clear Channel's WHJJ (920 Providence),
knocking ideological opposite Randi Rhodes and local host Geoff
Charles off the late-night lineup.
We should also note that WALE (990 Greenville) is back on
the air with its "SuperMax" Spanish programming, after
several months of silence.
*The Clear Channel stations
in CONNECTICUT, VERMONT, and parts of NEW HAMPSHIRE
and western MASSACHUSETTS have a new regional vice
president, as the company promotes Tom McConnell from his current
post as market manager in Springfield. McConnell adds the Clear
Channel stations in Hartford, Burlington, Randolph, Vermont and
Lebanon, N.H. to his portfolio as he takes on the new role.
There's a new community radio station in southern
New Hampshire: Rick Ganley's put "Radio Derry" on the
air from his home just outside downtown Derry. Operating as a
"part 15" unlicensed broadcaster on 1700 kHz, Ganley
(who's also the morning guy up at WPNH-FM in Plymouth) says his
goal is to offer information on local events and low-cost ads
for local businesses. Sounds good to us...
Connecticut's Fox affiliate, WTIC-TV (Channel 61), has a new
news director, as Bob Rockstroh moves up from assistant ND to
replace Paul Lewis in the big chair.
*A NEW YORK talk host is moving to
national satellite radio. Andrew Wilkow began as a part-timer
at WABC before landing his current gig in afternoons at WGY (810
Schenectady). Now he's leaving WGY, effective July 14, to get
ready for the August 1 launch of a new national show on Sirius.
More Radio (and TV) People on the Move: "Broadway"
Bill Lee is out in afternoons at New York's WKTU (103.5 Lake
Success) after a long run there, and rumor has it that Hollywood
Hamilton is on his way back to New York (after a short run in
mornings at KRTH in Los Angeles) to pair up with ex-KTU morning
man Goumba Johnny in afternoons. (Could Goumba's former morning
partner Baltazar be headed back to Boston?)
Also out at WKTU - voluntarily - is late-night jock Jewelz
Lopez, who's moving over to "Mega" WSKQ (97.9 New York).
Down the street at sister station "Z100" (WHTZ 100.3
Newark), evening guy Romeo gets to add "music director"
to his title, taking on some of the duties from Paul "Cubby"
Bryant, who's headed to KTU to do mornings with Whoopi Goldberg.
On Long Island, Astra moves up from weekends/swing at WBLI
(106.1 Patchogue) to the evening shift, while in the Hudson Valley,
Frankenberry and newscaster Corin have departed the former "Frankenberry
and Reno Morning Show" at WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie).
All the way out at the extreme western edge of upstate
New York, there's a format change at WBKX (96.5 Dunkirk), which
flipped from AC to country on May 25. Owner John Bulmer tells
NERW that the station faced tough competition from two Buffalo
AC stations - powerful WTSS (Star 102.5) and its dial neighbor
While WBKX keeps its "96 Kix FM" nickname, it's
publicizing its return to country heavily, with a campaign that
includes newspaper advertising (and a front-page article in the
Dunkirk Observer), postcards and more. There's a lesson
here for other small-market radio owners, we think - in this
age of multiple media choices, you can't assume that your audience
knows who you are or where to find you without lots of publicity.
Way up in the Adirondacks, there's now a set of calls for
the 94.1 construction permit in Old Forge: it's WZNY, at least
One bit of upstate TV news: Steve Dawe replaces Chuck Samuels
as news director at WHAM-TV (Channel 13) in Rochester. Dawe was
news director at Fox affiliate WUHF (Channel 31) at one point,
and has been serving as WHAM's promotions director for the last
*One format change in western PENNSYLVANIA:
WUBZ (105.9 Phillipsburg) ditched its rock format early Friday
morning, replacing "The Buzz" with country as "Joe
FM" and sending "Chris and Jim in the Morning"
packing, replaced by the syndicated Big D and Bubba show. Afternoon
jock Jason "Fish" Miller is out as well.
*In CANADA, Aboriginal Voices Radio
now has a frequency on which to operate in Montreal. The oft-delayed
station originally wanted to use 100.1, but that channel was
denied. Instead, AVR will operate on 106.7, with 320 watts of
And, yes, we're delaying our look at single-A baseball on
the radio for another week - in part because the season doesn't
start for another week, and in part because we're on the road
again. Next week, we promise!
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, or thereabouts
- the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest
years as "New England Radio Watch," and didn't go to
a regular weekly schedule until 1997. 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!)
June 13, 2005 -
- ALPINE, N.J. - It may have taken more than half a century,
but if the crowd at the Armstrong Tower here Saturday was any
indication, a certain sort of cosmic justice has now prevailed
where the legacy of Major Edwin Howard Armstrong is concerned.
It's hard to imagine dozens of people baking in the hot sun for
an afternoon to honor the memory of David Sarnoff or Lee deForest,
as they gladly did for this event honoring the man who may be
the greatest inventor radio will ever know.
- WINS (1010) anchor Judy DeAngelis emceed a live one-hour
panel discussion that featured the few living veterans of the
Armstrong era - Ren McMann, who worked at Alpine in his youth
and later at CBS Laboratories; Henry Dietz, who worked for early
FM equipment maker REL; Jerry Minter, who was at Alpine for the
March 31, 1954 sign-off of Armstrong's KE2XCC; and Armstrong
relative Robert Brecht.
- Doug Lane's sale of WWDL (104.9 Scranton), WICK (1400 Scranton)
and WYCK (1340 Plains) to Bold Gold Media won't close the legal
case against Lane, who was convicted of child molestation earlier
this year and now awaits sentencing. It will, however, end the
uncertainty that surrounds the stations - if it's approved. Bold
Gold, whose principals include Bob Vanderheyden (the first PD
of oldies WCBS-FM, years ago, and now serving as the stations'
general manager), began operating the stations under an LMA last
week. While details of the sale haven't been released, the deal
reportedly won't yield any profit to Lane, with proceeds from
the stations instead going to Lackawanna County (for a victims'
restitution fund) and to non-profit groups.
- Clear Channel is spinning off one station in MAINE, as Stony
Creek Broadcasting pays $800,000 for WNSX (97.7 Winter Harbor).
Behind the new ownership are a pair of well-known names Down
East - Mark Osborne and Natalie Knox, who owned WKSQ (94.5 Ellsworth)
WLKE (99.1 Bar Harbor) and WBFB (104.7 Belfast) until selling
to Clear Channel five years ago. WNSX has been simulcasting classic
rock "Fox" WFZX (101.7 Searsport), but Osborne tells
NERW that this time, "there WILL be personnel and format
June 4, 2001 -
- A station sale in CONNECTICUT: Candido Carrelo gets $425,000
for Bridgeport's WDJZ (1530) from Peoples Broadcasting Network.
Peoples runs religion on WJSS (1330 Havre de Grace MD) and KTLD
(1110 Pineville LA), so a format change from ethnic on WDJZ seems
- Up in VERMONT, Steven Silberberg adds WFAD (1490 Middlebury)
to his station group, paying Kathryn Messner's Lakeside Media
$180,000 for the station. Silberberg also owns WXAL (93.7 Addison)
nearby, as well as stations in Montpelier (WNCS/WSKI), Royalton
(WRJT), Manchester, N.H. (WKBR) and Haverhill, MA (WXRV).
- South central PENNSYLVANIA is getting its first full-time
commercial Hispanic station. All Access reports "Radio Omega,"
which has been running a micropower operation in Harrisburg,
is now leasing WPDC (1600 Elizabethtown), replacing sports on
the station midway between Harrisburg and Lancaster.
- Speaking of Harrisburg, there's word that Clear Channel will
soon try again to replace the oldies on WWKL-FM (99.3) with its
CHR "Kiss" format. The last attempt, last summer, was
quashed by Citadel, which sued to enforce a non-compete that
accompanied its purchase of established CHR WNNK (104.1). That
agreement is apparently near expiration, so we're expecting to
hear "Kool" on 99.3 for the last time when we drive
through next weekend.
New England Radio Watch, June 17, 1996
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- The local radio industry thoughtfully
waited to drop the latest bombshell until after your Radio Watcher
had returned and unpacked, and it looks like this: After more
than three years of tooth-and-nail fighting over Boston's country
listeners, the war between Evergreen's WKLB (105.7) and Greater
Media's WBCS (96.9) is about to come to an end. Just a few weeks
after closing on the purchase of WKLB from Fairbanks Communications,
Evergreen is trading the station to Greater Media in exchange
for Greater Media's AC WEBR 99.5 Washington DC (the station known
for years as WGAY-FM) and talker WWRC 980 Washington. The companies
are announcing this as an even trade of the FMs, with an extra
$22.5 million being added for WWRC. Greater Media says one of
the Boston FMs will drop country after Labor Day, and odds are
it will be WKLB, since WBCS still has a standing offer to pay
a million dollars to the first listener to call in if they drop
country before the end of 1996. WKLB general manager Bennett
Zier exits after just a few weeks in town, to run Evergreen's
new Washington operations.
- Here's where it leaves both groups:
Evergreen keeps its prize Boston properties, CHR WXKS-FM ("Kiss
108"), CHurban WJMN ("Jam'n 94-5"), and standards
WXKS 1430. In Washington, WEBR and WWRC get added to Evergreen's
existing group, all-news WTOP 1500 and AC market leader WASH
97.1. (I'll leave it to Max Cacas and Bob Smith to speculate
about whether Evergreen can finally turn around years of decline
at WWRC...) Meanwhile, WKLB joins Greater Media's existing Boston
stable, which includes WBCS, AC behemoth WMJX ("Magic 106.7"),
and WMEX 1150, which is LMA'd to a foreign-language broadcaster.
Assuming Greater Media keeps WBCS and drops country on WKLB,
they'll have to look hard for a new niche format for 105.7. Unlike
the situation a few years ago, when major format holes were a
dime a dozen (no urban on FM, no country, no smooth jazz), the
format plate is pretty full in Beantown at the moment. And of
course, both Evergreen and Greater Media have been rumored repeatedly
as targets of takeovers by fatter broadcasting groups like CBS/Westinghouse
and Infinity. This ought to be a hot summer; stay tuned.
*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 we have a few still available at special clearance
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
contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please
click here to
learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2006 by Scott Fybush.