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June 19, 2006

Rochester's WVOR Goes For A "Drive"

*In 43 years on the air, the 100.5 dial spot in Rochester, NEW YORK has seen a few formats come and go - automated beautiful music, "Heart of Gold" full-service AC, "Variety 100.5" AC and "Mix 100.5" hot AC. In all that time, one thing has remained constant, though: the WVOR calls that first appeared on the frequency way back in 1963.

As of this past Thursday (June 16) at noon, WVOR's long run on the air is pretty much over. After stunting for a day as all-Dave Matthews "Dave FM," Clear Channel pulled the plug on "Mix," ran one liner jokingly introducing the station as "Country 100.5," announced "just kidding" - and relaunched the station as "100.5 the Drive."

While Clear Channel's initial press release described "Drive" as being a AAA (adult album alternative) format, the station appears to be running more of an adult hits format, not all that different from the old "Mix" format with a few more currents added here and there - and remarkably reminiscent of the very earliest days of "Mix," when the format debuted with a rather unusual variety rock approach that, in retrospect, was something of a precursor of the full-on "Jack"-type variety hits stations that came along a few years later.

"Mix" was already running with a fairly light airstaff, after the departure of morning man Chuck Kelly earlier this year, and it's now running jockless as "Drive." If the initial positioning holds, the plan seems to be to market "Drive" as a low- to no-personality alternative to Entercom's adult hits "Fickle" (WFKL 93.3) and classic hits "Buzz" (WBZA 98.9). And about those calls - "WVOR" will give way, we're told, to WDVI as soon as the paperwork clears the FCC (and, presumably, the WVOR calls are parked somewhere else in the Clear Channel empire so they can't be grabbed by a competitor.)

NERW wonders: are memories of the glory days of WVOR, when the local Lincoln Group ownership ran the station as a top-notch live-and-local community voice, with heavy doses of local news and public service, still strong enough that anyone could resurrect the old "Heart of Gold" if they wanted to? Or can Rochester radio in 2006 really be summed up as... "Shut up and Drive"?

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*In New York City, Nate Bell has exited the PD chair at Clear Channel's WWPR (Power 105.1). Bell will stay with the company in another role; regional programming senior VP Tom Poleman will handle programming duties at Power until a permanent replacement for Bell is named.

Some management changes in advance of the split between WABC (770)/WPLJ (95.5), which are being acquired by Citadel, and WEPN (1050)/WQEW (1560), which will stay with Disney/ABC: Tim McCarthy, who'd been WABC's general manager, will stay on the Disney side of things by becoming WEPN's GM. He's being replaced at WABC by Steve Borneman, who moves over from station manager at WPLJ.

On Long Island, Clear Channel has promoted Jim Condron from general sales manager to VP/GM at WALK/WALK-FM. Condron's spent three years at the WALK stations, and has also worked at Barnstable's WKJY and in New York at Clear Channel's WLTW.

Speaking of the Barnstable group, it's got a lot of John Tesh going on all of a sudden. WLVG (96.1 Center Moriches) is now carrying Tesh's syndicated show both in morning drive (with local host Jay Letterman) and in the evenings (replacing Delilah).

Back upstate, R.W. Smith has moved from the PD chair at Buffalo's WYRK (106.5)/WECK (1230 Cheektowaga) all the way west to take the PD gig at KCYE (104.3) in Las Vegas. Wendy Lynn gets the promotion from assistant PD to replace Smith in Buffalo. (She'll still be heard in afternoon drive on WYRK.)

The departure of Andrew Wilkow from WGY (810 Schenectady) will bring "Joe Pags" back to the Capital District airwaves, at least for an hour a day. Beginning July 31, Wilkow's 9-noon spot will be filled by Al Roney, while Roney's 6-7 PM hour will be filled by former WGY host Joe Pagliarulo, who'll do the show by ISDN from his new home at WOAI in San Antonio, Texas. Meanwhile, Rollye James will replace Phil Hendrie in the 10 PM-1 AM slot when Hendrie ends his show this summer.

In Binghamton, Doug Mosher adds the title of PD/MD at WBBI (107.5 Endwell) to his duties as PD of WINR (680 Binghamton) and as public service director of the Clear Channel cluster there. Former WBBI PD Jim Free remains at the helm of sister station WKGB (92.5 Conklin), as well as ops manager for the entire cluster.

In the Hudson Valley, John Tobin returns to WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie) to reteam with former co-host Reno for "Reno and Tobin in the Morning."

The new Binghamton-market construction permit on 106.7 now has calls. It'll be "WRRQ Windsor" when it takes the air as a sister station to WCDW (100.5). (And a correction from last week: the 94.1 in Lake George that now has the WZNY calls belongs to LiveAir Communications; Randy Michaels' CP up there is the 92.5 that's being moved to the Watertown market.)

Congratulations to Cousin Brucie - Bruce Morrow will be inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame at a dinner June 25 in Lake George.

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*New England Cable News is taking its first steps into the radio arena in MASSACHUSETTS. The cable news network has signed a deal with Alex Langer's WBIX (1060 Natick) under which the radio station will simulcast NECN's 8-10 PM programming, including signature shows "The Chet Curtis Report" and "The News at Nine."

After about a year and a half, Larry Burnham is out as morning man at WBOQ (104.9 Gloucester). "Sammy" is handling mornings for the moment, we hear, with afternoon guy Charlie Curtis eventually taking over mornings at North Shore 104.9.

In the Springfield market, Justin Tyler is the new PD at WPKX (97.9 Enfield CT). Tyler comes over from WRWD (107.3 Highland NY), replacing the recently departed R.J. McKay.

*There's a new(ish) voice at RHODE ISLAND's country station, as Hall's WCTK (98.1 New Bedford MA) hires Adam Scott fulltime to do middays and to serve as production director. Scott had been working for Citadel's New London cluster, and had been on the air part time at WCTK.

*An LPTV in the Burlington, VERMONT market lost its former studio building to fire June 6. The old Hotel Holland in Rouses Point, N.Y. was the home of WWBI-CA (Channel 27) in its days as an independent, and continued to house equipment for the station in its more recent days as a Pax and Daystar outlet. The building was razed last week, and it's not clear whether WWBI is still on the air. (Local cable companies have been carrying the national Pax/i network feed in place of WWBI's signal for some time, anyway.)

*The word from NEW JERSEY is that WKOE (106.3 Ocean City) has begun testing its new signal on 106.5, licensed to Bass River Township, north of Atlantic City. Are format shuffles on the way among Press Communications' "Breeze" and "G Rock" simulcasts up and down the Shore?

*A well-known western PENNSYLVANIA sports radio voice is about to be silenced. Stan Savran's contract with WBGG (970 Pittsburgh) expires July 7, and the Clear Channel sports talker isn't renewing. Savran's 3-6 PM weekday slot is likely to be filled by Tim Benz, who's moving over from competing sports talker WEAE (1250). Savran keeps his TV gig, hosting "SportsBeat" on FSN Pittsburgh.

After about a year at the helm of Sheridan's Pittsburgh stations (WAMO-FM 106.7 Beaver Falls, WAMO 860 Millvale, WJJJ 107.1 Greensburg), GM Michael Douglas has departed the cluster.

In the Scranton market, the standards simulcast between WNAK (730 Nanticoke) and WNAK-FM (94.3 Carbondale) has ended. The FM side flipped last Monday to "Lite 94.3," with the ubiquitous John Tesh in mornings. Standards remain in place on the AM side.

New calls for the new "Joe FM" in the State College market: WUBZ (105.9 Phillipsburg) is now WJOW.

And one of Harrisburg's legendary top 40 voices now has its own tribute website, thanks to the indefatigable Jeff Roteman and his colleague Rick Alexander at WIKZ (95.1 Chambersburg). Check out the "WKBO Tribute Site" at

*In CANADA, Corus has new managers for its Quebec operations. Mario Cecchini is the new VP for the company's Montreal cluster, while Jacques Pepin takes the title "VP/Network," overseeing the company's stations elsewhere in the province.

*And with that, how about our long-promised look at this year's radio picture for the single-A New York/Penn League, just in time for opening day later this week?

There's one new team this year, as the former New Jersey Cardinals move west to become the State College Spikes. They'll be heard on "3WZ" WZWW (95.3 Bellefonte). There's one new outlet for an existing team in the Keystone State this year, too, as the Williamsport Crosscutters move over to Clear Channel's WRAK (1400 Williamsport)/WRKK (1200 Hughesville).

Heading north across the state line, the Jamestown Jammers continue on WKSN (1340, road games only), the Batavia Muckdogs on SUNY Brockport's WBSU (89.1 Brockport, road games only), the Auburn Doubledays on WDWN (89.1), the Hudson Valley Renegades on WBNR (1260 Beacon)/WLNA (1420 Peekskill), the Staten Island Yankees on WSIA (89.9) and the Brooklyn Cyclones on WKRB (90.3). That's a new frequency for WKRB - and up in the Albany market, the Tri-City Valley Cats have a completely new radio partner this year, joining up with Siena College's WVCR (88.3 Loudonville). There's no radio for the Oneonta Tigers.

In New England, the former Vermont Expos are now the Lake Monsters, heard on WEAV (960 Plattsburgh)/WXZO (96.7 Willsboro), while the Lowell Spinners continue on WCAP (980). And just outside NERW-land, Cal Ripken's Aberdeen IronBirds are on WAMD (970 Aberdeen MD), while the Mahoning Valley Scrappers play on WNIO (1390 Youngstown OH).

We still owe you a look at the independent leagues, and we'll get there next week!

From 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 for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

June 20, 2005 -

  • If you're looking to buy TV ad time on a full-power station in VERMONT, you're down to just three choices after the recent sale of ABC affiliate WVNY (Channel 22) in Burlington and a subsequent joint sales agreement with the owners of crosstown Fox affiliate WFFF (Channel 44). Here's what's going on down by the shore of Lake Champlain: C-22 License Subsidiary, the owner of WVNY, recently won FCC permission to sell the station to a company called Lambert Broadcasting of Burlington, controlled by Michael Lambert of Beverly Hills, California. Under the terms of the $10.5 million deal, Lambert will then enter into the joint sales agreement with Smith Media, part of the Smith group that already owns WFFF.
  • The rumor mill keeps churning in MASSACHUSETTS over a new radio home for the Boston Celtics, whose deal with WWZN (1510 Boston) ended at the close of the season. Mark Shneyder's Boston Radio Watch (no relation) says the team is headed to Entercom's WRKO (680), but the station itself hasn't confirmed any deal, though it acknowledges that negotiations have taken place.
  • On the TV side, it marked the end of an era - not just in Boston, but in local TV everywhere - when WCVB (Channel 5) president/general manager Paul LaCamera announced last week that he's stepping down as general manager on August 1 and as president at year's end. LaCamera has been with WCVB since its 1972 sign-on, and he's managed the station since 1988. Under his leadership, the station won a well-deserved reputation as one of the best local TV outlets in the country, and it will be interesting indeed to see whether his successor, Bill Fine of Hearst-Argyle's WBAL-TV (Channel 11), will be able to maintain that reputation. (NERW wonders, in particular, whether WCVB icon Natalie Jacobson will be inclined to stick around for a new contract after the departure of LaCamera, to whom Jacobson and other station veterans are personally loyal.) In any event, we join the rest of the industry in saluting LaCamera for his work over the decades at WCVB, and we wish him well on his retirement.
  • Veteran Portland, MAINE morning man Mark Persky is returning to the airwaves next month, but not at his longtime home of WBLM (102.9 Portland), where he suddenly disappeared from the morning show in January. (The station formally announced his departure in April, leaving Herb Ivy, his co-host of 18 years, as the show's anchor.) When Persky signs back on (presumably after working out a non-compete deal with WBLM), it'll be at Nassau's WFNK (107.5 Lewiston), which has been making ratings waves with its "Frank" classic rock format. There's a nifty irony here - that 107.5 frequency is the same one on which Persky started all those years ago, when WBLM was broadcasting from the now-famous "little trailer in the woods in Litchfield."
  • We'd have spent last Sunday night in Syracuse if we'd known that Clear Channel was going to make the call change on WIXT (Channel 9) at 2:00 last Monday morning (June 13). As previously reported, the new calls on channel 9 are WSYR-TV, tying the ABC affiliate in with CC's WSYR (570 Syracuse). (A NERW historical note: the WSYR-TV calls were on what's now WSTM, channel 3, from 1950 until 1980. But WSYR-TV was actually on channel 5 for the first few years of its life, which means Syracuse viewers with exceptionally long memories might recall the WSYR-TV calls appearing on every VHF channel now in use in the city - 3, 5 and now 9 - over the years. The present channel 5, WTVH, is the old WHEN-TV, which operated on channel 8 from 1948 until it moved to 5 in 1962.)

June 25, 2001 -

  • The airwaves of central NEW YORK are undergoing some interesting transformations this week. We'll start in Utica, where Clear Channel finally stopped stunting on WRBY (102.5 Rome) last week, launching (as predicted here in NERW) a "Bob Country" format to challenge Forever's market-leading WFRG (104.3). There's not a lot of local content to be heard on the new "Bob"; mornings are handled by the syndicated team of Tim and Willy, while Lia and After Midnight take the evening and overnight hours. Still, it ought to be enough to shave a point or two off the "Frog," which seems to be Clear Channel's motivation here.
  • Down the Thruway toward Syracuse, WBGJ (100.3 Sylvan Beach) hit the airwaves this past week, initially with a simulcast of Radio Disney from WOLF (1490 Syracuse) and its sister stations. The signal's not drawing many raves so far, but we hear it's not yet at full power, either. (We'll have to head out that way once we get back to town to see what the site looks like.)
  • Michael Sleezer's new 1440 in Gloversville has calls: WFNY will be the ID on the brand-new AM there; those calls lived on a never-built Family Radio CP in Syracuse for a while in the 80s (it eventually took air at 90.3 as public radio WRVD).
  • In New York City, the "Save WEVD" folks have set Thursday (June 21) for a street protest in front of the Forward Association headquarters at 45 E. 33rd St. They're hoping to persuade WEVD (1050 New York)'s owners to keep the left-leaning talk station rather than selling it to Disney, as has been widely rumored. The protest is scheduled to run from 4 until 6 PM.

New England Radio Watch, June 18, 1996

  • Mega-opoly has reached its logical conclusion up in Portland, Maine, as Fuller-Jeffrey announces plans to trade its KKSO(AM)/KJJY-FM Des Moines for Barnstable Broadcasting's WCSO(FM) Portland, WLPZ(AM) Westbrook-Portland, and WHOM(FM) Mt. Washington NH-Portland. With this deal, all of Portland's major radio stations are now in the hands of just two owners, Fuller-Jeffrey and Saga. With the most recent Arbs I have access to, Fall '95 12+, Saga and Fuller-Jeffrey will control a total 61.1 percent of the Portland audience. (The rest is divided among some much smaller players, notably The Meg Company's AAA WCLZ 98.9, and the Wireless Talking Machine Company, which has an adult-standards simulcast on WLAM 870 Gorham, WZOU 1470 Lewiston, and brand-new WVYH 106.7 N. Windham, along with hot-AC WKZS 99.9 Auburn and country WTHT 107.5 Lewiston, for a 12.3 total share last fall.
  • Saga has been an increasingly aggressive player elsewhere in New England as well, especially by increasing the coverage of its flagship Manchester NH property, ac WZID 95.7. In addition to WZID's translator on 96.5 in Laconia NH, the station has applied for a translator on 101.9 in Peterborough NH, in the southwestern corner of the state. In other translator news, Rhode Island's first translator has been licensed. W243AI in Newport will rebroadcast the classical programs of WCRB 102.5 Waltham-Boston.

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*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 prices!

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 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 year running!

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 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 is copyright 2006 by Scott Fybush.