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July 31, 2006

Leven, Mittman Back In The Game

MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: It is, at long last, official - Nassau and Greater Media made the announcement Monday afternoon that they've completed negotiations to send Greater's 99.5 Lowell signal (now country WKLB) to Nassau, in exchange for Nassau's Philadelphia move-in, WTHK (97.5 Burlington NJ).

At the same time, Greater Media has completed its deal to acquire WCRB (102.5 Waltham) from Charles River Broadcasting, setting the stage for the long-anticipated format and call swap that will move WCRB's classical format down the dial to 99.5 and WKLB's country into the heart of the Boston market at 102.5.

Nassau says it intends to keep the classical format and WCRB calls on 99.5, making it the "new flagship" of the company's chain of classical signals in northern New England.

In Philadelphia, 97.5 will get a new format (as yet undetermined) as it joins the Greater Media cluster of WPEN, WMMR, WBEN-FM and WMGK.

There are no surprises here for anyone who's been following this long-gestating deal in NERW (or any of the trades, for that matter) for the last year or so, and there are probably some headaches on the way for classical music fans in Boston proper and out near the Route 128 tower farm, who'll experience much weaker reception of WCRB. But for WCRB's staffers, who've been operating in a climate of uncertainty for the last few months, today's announcement provides some degree of security - and we're certainly pleased to be able to replace speculation with certainty in this space.

There's still no word on the future of Charles River Broadcasting's Cape Cod signals, WKPE and WFCC. The terms of the deals with Greater Media and Nassau have not yet been disclosed, either, but Greater Media says it will give Nassau cash in addition to the 99.5 license and WCRB's intellectual property, in exchange for the 97.5 signal in Philadelphia.

Much more, no doubt, in next week's NERW...

*Two familiar names in Northeast broadcasting have returned to ownership, via a $5.5 million deal to buy seven northern NEW YORK stations.

Jim Leven was one of the principals of the old Pilot group, whose stations in Syracuse and elsewhere ended up as part of the Citadel group a few years ago. Bruce Mittman was station manager at WAAF (107.3 Worcester) and several other stations around Massachusetts. As "Community Broadcasters LLC," they're the new owners of most of what was the Clancy-Mance group in Watertown and Ogdensburg.

Here's what they get in the deal: news-talk WATN (1240 Watertown), rock WOTT (100.7 Henderson/Watertown) top 40 "Border" WBDI (106.7 Copenhagen/Watertown) and WBDB (92.7 Ogdensburg), AC WTOJ (103.1 Carthage/Watertown), oldies WGIX (95.3 Gouverneur) and talk WSLB (1400 Ogdensburg).

Noticeably missing in the deal is WBDR (102.7 Cape Vincent), which stays with Clancy-Mance. As country "Kix 102.7," WBDR functions as a Kingston, Ontario station, programmed and operated out of CIKR (K-Rock 105.7)'s Kingston studio.

There's no word yet on what, if any, changes are planned when Leven and Mittman take control of the stations. Dick Kozacko's Kozacko Media Services brokered the sale.

INDEPENDENCE ISN'T EASY (OR FREE): Here at NERW, we pride ourselves on twelve years (and counting) of editorial independence. There's no filter on the news you read here. Our editorial staff of one answers only to you, our readers, and therein lies the catch:

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*Here in Rochester, Nikki Landry has departed her midday shift and music director post at country WBEE-FM (92.5) to take on the same role at Entravision's newly-flipped KNTY (101.9 Shingle Springs CA) in the Sacramento market. Night jock Weslea moves to middays to replace Landry.

In New York City, today's launch day for the new Whoopi Goldberg syndicated morning show. WKTU (103.5 Lake Success) is both home base and, so far, the only announced NERW-land affiliate for the program, which has former Z100 afternoon guy Paul "Cubby" Bryant as Whoopi's sidekick.

Speaking of syndication, WOR (710 New York) is now offering its afternoon drive "Hennican and White" show over the WOR Radio Network; no word of any affiliates for that program yet, either. (WOR's owner, Buckley Broadcasting, has two other talkers in NERW-land. Syracuse's WFBL has Sean Hannity in afternoon drive, while the WDRC network of stations in Connecticut have local talker Dan Lovallo on in the Hennican/White timeslot.)

WOR is also offering its midmorning Joan Hamburg show in syndication.

And speaking of WOR, it's getting very close now to signing on its new transmitter facility in the New Jersey Meadowlands. The new site has already been on the air testing in non-directional mode, and we hear the new directional pattern will be getting proofed overnight this week.

There's a new news director at WQXR (96.3 New York): Steve Knight has been hired to fill the (very big) shoes of Sam Hall, who retired last month after a long career in New York radio. Knight has been working most recently at AP Radio, but his resume includes stints at CBS Radio and at Seattle's KIRO (710), where he was news director.

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*There's a TV station sale in central PENNSYLVANIA, as the Television Station Group (formerly known as SJL Broadcasting) sells WTAJ-TV (Channel 10) in Altoona and WLYH (Channel 15) in Lebanon to Nexstar, for $58 million.

WTAJ is a dominant CBS affiliate, while WLYH is a UPN (soon to be CW) affiliate that's operated under an LMA by Clear Channel's WHP-TV.

Will Nexstar, whose operating philosophy calls for the creation of duopolies wherever possible, be looking to make additional acquisitions in those markets? (It already has a duopoly in Erie, at WJET/WFXP, and in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, at WBRE/WYOU, as well as nearby outlets in Rochester, Utica and Hagerstown.)

In Bloomsburg, Joe "Bobby" Reilly has changed the calls of his new FM acquisition, as the former WKAB (103.5 Berwick) becomes WHLM-FM.

Just outside Philadelphia, there's signal testing underway on WFYL (1180 King of Prussia). The little daytimer is moving in from 1530 in McConnellsburg, and it's transmitting from the middle of a golf course!

Radio People on the Move: Blake Dannen moves on from WZZO (95.1 Allentown), after more than a decade in afternoons, to become afternoon guy at crosstown WODE (99.9 Easton). And what ever happened to "Rocco the Janitor" from Philadelphia's "Wired" WRDW-FM (96.5)? Same frequency, but very different scenery - he lands at "96.5 CayRock" in the Cayman Islands as PD/morning guy, under his real name of Ben Maxwell. And his GM there is none other than Steve Jones, former PD of Boston's WMKK (93.7).

*In CONNECTICUT, it now appears that former Long Island morning man Steve Harper won't be joining the staff of WEZN-FM (Star 99.9) in Bridgeport, after all. NERW hears that after visiting the station and meeting his co-workers-to-be last week, Harper decided not to make the move across Long Island Sound - and will instead be taking a buyout and leaving Cox Radio. The Star morning show is running more or less jockless for now, and there's no word yet on the station's next move (or on Harper's, for that matter.)

Up in the Hartford market, WWYZ (92.5 Waterbury) is looking for a new music director/night jock following the departure of Aaron Davis. He's headed down I-84 to become PD/afternoons at WRWD (107.3 Highland NY) - taking the place of Justin Tyler, who moved in the opposite direction to become PD of WPKX (97.9 Enfield/Springfield).

*There's a familiar name joining the staff at WPRI (Channel 12) in Providence, RHODE ISLAND. Tim White, WPRI's new investigative reporter, is the son of legendary Providence reporter Jack White. The younger White comes from WBZ-TV (Channel 4) in Boston, where he was managing editor.

Across town at WJAR (Channel 10), they're mourning Jim Mendes, who died Friday (July 28) at 80. Mendes was one of the region's first jazz DJs, and worked for WJAR (920, now WHJJ) and WJAR-TV for forty years, most recently as an announcer for channel 10.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, they're getting ready to honor one of the very earliest broadcasting pioneers.

This year marks the centennial of Reginald Aubrey Fessenden's first broadcasts from Brant Rock, a neighborhood in Marshfield, and next weekend will mark the first phase in a public celebration of the centennial. While the events get underway on Friday (August 4), the big radio-related activities will take place on Saturday, with a live WATD (95.9) broadcast from the Daniel Webster Estate and Heritage Center from noon until 5 PM. (WATD owner Ed Perry is one of the driving forces behind the centennial celebration.)

That will be followed by a gala cocktail party and celebration dinner, during which the first Reginald Fessenden Award in Broadcasting will be presented to WBZ (1030) newsman Gary LaPierre. (The evening will also include the debut of a new drink, the "Fessenden Fizz.")

There's a website devoted to the celebration at - and more events coming later this year, leading up to the actual December 24 anniversary.

Speaking of radio veterans - though hardly as old as Fessenden - congratulations are in order to WROR (105.7 Framingham) morning team Loren (Owens) and Wally (Brine), who marked their 25th anniversary last Tuesday. Loren and Wally have outlasted pretty much everything else at 105.7 - the station's been through several owners in the last quarter-century as it's migrated from AC (WVBF) to country (WKLB) to classic hits (WROR), which makes the duo's longevity all the more remarkable.

The FCC was busy last week handing out fines for public-file violations. Stations filing for license renewals are now asked on the application whether all the documents that belong in their public file have been placed in the file on schedule - and many are now learning that answering "no" can be expensive.

Notices of Apparent Liability for $10,000 each went out last week to Emerson College's WERS (88.9 Boston), College of the Holy Cross' WCHC (88.1 Worcester), Sporting News Radio's WWZN (1510 Boston), as well as Clear Channel's Providence talker WHJJ (920) - and Davidson's WXCT (990 Southington CT) has a $4,000 proposed fine from the FCC.

While it's true that "rules are rules," we'll be watching closely to see what the FCC does with a pending rulemaking that will eliminate many of the current public-file requirements, which often seem to be bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake. How many of these files have ever been inspected by an actual listener, we wonder? And how many stations just checked "yes" on the public file question at renewal time - and are going unpunished (and uninspected) as a result?

There's a management change on the way at the parent company of Boston's WFNX (101.7 Lynn), as Barry Morris prepares to step down at year's end as president/COO of the Phoenix Media/Communications Group. Brad Mindich, Phoenix executive VP (and son of owner Steve Mindich), will succeed Morris - and WFNX GM Andy Kingston will become senior VP of the Phoenix group.

Out west, Entercom still has yet to flip the switch to turn on WVEI-FM (105.5 Easthampton), but it's already talking about a new studio location for the Springfield-market WEEI relay. The Boston Herald's Jesse Noyes reported last week that WVEI is now talking with the Basketball Hall of Fame about locating its Springfield studio there next year.

And we're sorry to report the death at age 63 of Darrell Martinie, the "Cosmic Muffin," whose humorous astrology reports were a fixture on Charles Laquidara's WBCN morning show for many years. Martinie, who was named the state's official astrologer in 1993 by Governor William Weld, was later heard on WZLX and WBOS. He died July 26 at his Saugus home, survived by his husband, Edward Boesel.

*In VERMONT, WVPR (89.5 Windsor) has become the first Vermont Public Radio outlet - and indeed, the state's first station, period - to broadcast in HD Radio.

*Robb Atkinson is the new news director at WGME (Channel 13) in Portland, MAINE, replacing David Kaplar. (Atkinson comes north from WATE in Knoxville, Tennessee to take the job.)

*There's yet another new station on the air in eastern CANADA, as Newcap's second FM in Charlottetown, PEI signed on Wednesday (July 26) at 5 PM. As we'd reported earlier in NERW, the new "K-Rock 105.5" is legally CKQK, and it kicked off with the island's top 105 rock tunes before launching into its regular programming.

Over in Halifax, CJCH (920) responded to CHNS (960)'s move to the FM dial by flipping from standards to oldies last week.

In eastern Ontario, Corus' Cornwall stations (CJUL, CJSS-FM, CFLG-FM) are moving to new studios and offices this fall, leaving behind their cramped building (designed for one station many years ago) for new digs in the Old Cotton Mill building.

Up in Campbellford, CKOL (93.7) is adding a second transmitter for its community programming. CHCC (100.7 Madoc) will operate with just under 50 watts, relaying CKOL with some local inserts for the Madoc area.

And in St. Catharines, Milkman UnLimited reports that Madelyn Hamilton has been promoted from operations manager at Standard's CKTB/CHTZ/CHRE (and PD of CKTB/CHRE) to general manager of all three stations. CHTZ PD Bruce Gilbert adds OM duties at all three stations.

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!)

August 1, 2005 -

  • There are some nervous programmers in NEW YORK, and around the country, awaiting the aftermath of the settlement between state attorney general Elliot Spitzer and Sony Music over payola charges. While Sony's $10 million payment, coupled with an assurance that it will change its practices, gets the company off the hook with Spitzer's office, the e-mails that Spitzer's office dug up as part of its investigation will likely lead to more investigations, both by the FCC and by some of the broadcasters accused of accepting payola.
  • Among the stations whose call letters appeared in the e-mails were Boston's WXKS and WBCN (where Sony apparently paid for a staff dinner for former PD Oedipus), Albany's WFLY and WKKF (where Sony supplied a $1400 laptop to former PD Donny Michaels), Hartford's WKSS, Buffalo's WKSE (where PD Dave Universal was ousted earlier in the payola investigation, and where the e-mails suggest that even Sony was finding Universal excessively greedy) and Rochester's WPXY (where an e-mail from PD Mike Danger admits "i'm a whore this week. what can i say?")
  • Upstate, Route 81 continued its shuffling in Corning/Elmira, putting new calls on 97.7 Big Flats (ex-WGMM, then briefly WCBA-FM and now WENI-FM, paralleling simulcast WENY-FM 92.7 Elmira) and flipping WCBA (1350 Corning) from a simulcast of oldies WGMM (98.7 Corning) to Fox Sports Radio. WCBA is also picking up the Jim Rome show.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, Qantum Communications announced a $10 million spinoff of three Cape Cod stations that it can't keep because of ownership caps. Nassau will enter the Cape market with the purchase of classic rock WPXC (102.9 Hyannis) and oldies WDVT (93.5 Harwich Port)/WTWV (101.1 Mashpee) - and that starts the rumor mill spinning, since Nassau's not a company that tends to be happy with just three signals in a market.

July 30, 2001 -

  • One of the biggest vacancies in MASSACHUSETTS radio has been filled. More than half a year after Christopher Lydon and his "Connection" staff parted ways with WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston), the station has named a permanent replacement. Dick Gordon is a familiar name to our readers north of the border, where he's a frequent guest host and regular reporter for "This Morning" on CBC Radio One. Gordon was one of three finalists for the "Connection" job, which he'll start in September. As for Lydon, he's telling the Boston newspapers that he's still looking at his options for a return to the airwaves, but there's still no definite word about where or when.
  • On the commercial side of things, you can stop sending resumes to "Kiss 108" (WXKS-FM 107.9 Medford-Boston). The CHR powerhouse has named the replacement for departed station manager/PD John Ivey, and it's a familiar name within the Clear Channel Boston family: "Cadillac Jack" McCartney. He comes to Medford from the PD seat at WJMN (94.5 Boston), opening a vacancy at "Jam'n" that was quickly filled by assistant PD Dennis O'Heron.
  • Expect a new noncommercial station on the air in New Bedford one of these days, as New Bedford Christian Radio and Broadcasting for the Challenged settle their competing applications for 88.1. More details to come on this one; in any event, the station will have to operate from the Tiverton, R.I. tower of New Bedford's WLNE-TV, which occupies adjacent channel 6.
  • We'll start our NEW YORK news with a less-than-surprising schedule change: now that Don and Mike (of WJFK Washington fame) have shifted their syndicated show to middays, they're going to be heard live on New York's WNEW (102.7) as well. The move allows WNEW's Opie and Anthony to be heard live in Washington on WJFK-FM (106.7 Manassas VA), and gives Infinity a solid lineup to syndicate alongside morning star Howard Stern. The WNEW move displaces Boston veteran Leslie Gold from the schedule (which leads us to wondering: since her former co-host Lori Kramer is also out of work, thanks to the demise of, could the "Two Chicks" ever kiss and make up?) and moves Ron and Fez to an earlier-evening slot.
  • Out in the New York suburbs, Marty Mitchell is the new PD of country quadcast "Y107" (WYNY 107.1 Briarcliff Manor, et al), though there's still some doubt that the country format has much longer to run on those challenged signals.

New England Radio Watch, July 31, 1996

  • We now know where Cape Cod talker WXTK (94.9) wants to go...95.1. The West Yarmouth-licensed 50kw FM has filed an application to move up the dial one channel, with a directional antenna. The move would get WXTK out from some sticky co-channel problems with WHOM, Mount Washington NH. WHOM is almost 200 miles away...but with 50kw from the top of New England's tallest mountain, 3742 feet above average terrain, it can cause serious interference to WXTK, especially in outlying areas of the Cape when the trops are up. Here in Boston's western suburbs, about twice as close to West Yarmouth as to Mt. Washington, WHOM is the usual occupant on 94.9.
  • More news from the periphery: A new FM station has been granted in Rensselaerville NY, a tiny bump in the road southwest of Albany that also happens to be home to the tower farm housing nearly all of Albany's TV and high-power FM stations. (The new FM will, nonetheless, be the "first local service" to Rensselaerville. Uh, sure, whatever.) The new station will be on 89.9 with 340 watts from 762 feet AAT. The owner? Sound of Life, Inc...which also owns WFGB 89.7 Kingston, WLJP 89.3 Monroe, WPGL 90.7 Pattersonville (which serves very much the same area as the new FM will, and which has translators in Troy and Albany), and WRPJ 88.9 Port Jervis.
  • Also happening in Eastern New York: Starview Media of York PA is paying $450,000 to pick up a third FM in the Glens Falls area, north of Albany. Country WZZM 93.5 Corinth will join Starview's country WSTL 1410 South Glens Falls, talk WBZA 1230 Glens Falls, ac WENU 101.7 Hudson Falls, and hot ac WHTR 107.1 Hudson Falls (ex-WMJR). About the only stations in the market Starview doesn't control are Normandy Broadcasting's talk/standards WWSC 1450/country WYLR 95.9 Glens Falls, William Walker's oldies WCKM 900 Saratoga Springs/WCKM-FM 98.5 Lake George, and Fair Way Communications' WJKE 101.3 Stillwater.

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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.