August 28, 2006
Entercom's Big Week
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will be Tuesday, September 5.
*It's hard to think of a recent week's news
that's been as dominated by a single broadcast company as last
week was by Pennsylvania-based Entercom.
In a pair of deals announced Monday morning, David
Field's rapidly-growing broadcast group picked up four station
clusters from CBS Radio for $262 million - and struck a $30 million
deal to buy Boston's WILD-FM (97.7 Brockton) from Radio One.
We'll assess the impact of both deals in this week's NERW,
starting in MASSACHUSETTS, where the Radio One sale made
for big headlines. From Entercom's side of the fence, it was
a straightforward move to improve the coverage of its active
rocker, WAAF (107.3 Westborough) into the core of the Boston
market, where WAAF has struggled to be heard clearly for decades.
Entercom wasted no time getting the WAAF signal on the new
frequency - within a few hours of the announcement on Monday,
WILD-FM's urban format was history, and by Tuesday WAAF was ID'ing
with both frequencies. As Field noted in a conference call after
the deals were announced, the addition of 97.7 to WAAF is extraordinarily
cost-effective, requiring no new staff or expenses beyond the
tower rent and power bill at WILD-FM's Great Blue Hill transmitter
The acquisition of 97.7 should also put an end to Entercom's
long quest to get a listenable 107.3 signal into Boston itself,
where the interactions among the FM signals on the Prudential
Tower make it difficult for any signal from "outside"
to penetrate the city effectively. For the last year or so, Entercom
has been tweaking a new WAAF transmitter site at Stiles Hill
in Boylston in an effort to improve its Boston coverage; while
the move there from WAAF's original site on Mount Asnebumskit
in Paxton has been criticized for reducing the station's renowned
reach into western New England, we're hearing that there are
no plans to rethink the move and return to Paxton. (The coverage
lost as a result of the move from Paxton to Boylston was, after
all, well outside the Boston market, where WAAF makes all its
So WAAF now has a 97.7 signal that hits the city of
Boston and the South Shore, along with the big 107.3 that covers
west and north of Boston. It's good news for rock fans, but the
listeners to WILD-FM's old format aren't celebrating. Radio One
was the only black-owned broadcaster serving the Boston market,
and in addition to pulling the plug on the urban "Wild 97.7"
last week, the company also dumped the black-oriented talk programming
it had been running on sister station WILD (1090 Boston), the
city's heritage black-owned station.
The daytime-only AM signal had been carrying a local morning
show hosted by Jimmy Myers, followed by the national network
programming that Radio One launched earlier this year on its
stations around the country. As of last Monday, WILD(AM) has
flipped to automated black gospel, augmented by the syndicated
Tom Joyner morning show that had been heard on WILD-FM and a
handful of leased-time talk shows left over from the previous
AM talk format. Myers is out of work (though he was doing some
fill-in later in the week on Greater Media's WTKK 96.9), and
there's strong speculation that Radio One is looking to sell
the AM as well.
What's left for Boston's black community with the demise of
the WILD signals? Clear Channel's WJMN (Jam'n 94.5) targets black
listeners with its hip-hop heavy top 40 format, but there's a
long-standing resentment in the black community about the station's
ownership - and about its substantial suburban audience. Beyond
WJMN, only a handful of specialty shows on college stations specifically
target the black audience that makes up more than 5% of the market's
NERW's take: Boston has always had a reputation as a tough
town for black radio - it wasn't until the 1998 launch of WBOT,
WILD-FM's predecessor, that the city had a full-time FM signal
aimed at the black audience - and the demise of WILD-FM won't
help that image at all. Unfortunately, WBOT/WILD-FM launched
with several strikes against it. Until the station's transmitter
moved to Great Blue Hill just last year, its signal in the heart
of Boston's black community was mediocre, and even after the
move, it suffered from a limited reach north and west of the
city. What's more, Radio One never seemed fully comfortable as
a Boston operator. The company's committment to local programming
on WILD and WILD-FM was always minimal, and the stations never
seemed to promote themselves as aggressively as the larger players
in the market did. In other markets, Radio One pursued a cluster
strategy that assembled several signals to offer a range of urban
programming, but the high cost of entry in the Boston market
made that impossible in the Hub.
(Radio One also became caught up in an expensive venture into
television that's sapped its radio resources in other marginal
markets around the country, and the company's now said to be
attempting to sell other stations in cities where it never reached
Given the stratospheric prices for recent station sales in
Boston, it's hard to imagine other owners making a run at Boston's
urban audience right away, sadly.
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*A station sale in RHODE ISLAND: Chris
DiPaola's Southern Rhode Island Public Broadcasting sells WKIV
(88.1 Westerly) to EMF Broadcasting, which has been programming
the station with its "K-Love" contemporary Christian
format for the last year or so. The $100,000 sale comes on the
heels of a power increase at WKIV, which goes from 100 w/66'
AAT to 1.2 kW/122' AAT at a new transmitter site.
Hall Communications' WCTK (98.1 New Bedford MA) is getting
a new PD. Steve Giutarri will arrive in Providence from his current
post at WYGY (96.5) in Cincinnati next month; he replaces PD/morning
host Tad Lemire, who's heading to New Zealand with the goal of
traveling around the world.
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*A NEW YORK morning show is no more.
Buckley's WOR (710 New York) abruptly pulled the plug on Ed Walsh
after his Friday broadcast. Walsh, who replaced John A. Gambling
in 2000 when WOR ended the "Rambling With Gambling"
franchise after seven decades, is being replaced beginning this
morning with WOR weekend host Joe Bartlett, who'll host mornings
alongside Donna Hanover.
WHTZ (100.3 Newark NJ) has filled the high-profile
vacancy created when Cubby Bryant moved over to sister station
WKTU to become Whoopi Goldberg's morning sidekick. J.J. Kincaid
will move to Z100 from Clear Channel's Dallas "Kiss"
(KHKS 106.1 Denton) to take over afternoons, effective September
When Air America moves from WLIB (1190 New York) to WWRL (1600
New York) at the end of this week, WLIB will flip to black gospel.
Owner Inner City Broadcasting has already pulled the plug on
most of WLIB's non-Air America programming, including Imhotep
Gary Byrd's overnight talk show; 1190 has been carrying a simulcast
of sister station WBLS (107.5) in those timeslots for now. And
what of WWRL's midday leased-time lineup? We hear most of it
will move down the dial to WVNJ (1160 Oakland NJ), which already
mixes lots of leased time with its nominal standards format.
(1300 Spring Valley) has long been pushing for a better full-time
signal than its present 500 watts day/83 watts night, and now
the station has persuaded the FCC to give it a shot at a new
home on the expanded AM band. While the Commission has been reluctant
to take any actions on the "X-band" since its initial
round of licenses more than a decade ago, it has opened a window
for applications for a new signal on 1700 in Rockland County.
To avoid automatically handing the new license to WRCR owner
Alexander Broadcasting, the window is open to any applicant -
as long as its facility will cover at least 50% of residents
in the emergency zone around Rockland County's Indian Point nuclear
power plant. WRCR argued that residents in the area currently
have no local source for emergency information if there's a problem
at the plant.
Over at Westwood One, they're mourning Dino Tortu, who was
killed in a bicycle/truck crash while on vacation in Maine August
16. Tortu, 52, was Westwood One's senior VP of production, with
a long resume that included stints at ABC Radio Networks and
the old Sony Westwood Radio Network.
Long Island's WBAB (102.3 Babylon) has a new PD - Chris Lloyd
arrives next month from WBSX (97.9 Hazleton) in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
market, where he's currently OD.
In Rochester, the week's big news was Entercom, of course
- the $262 million deal that moves CBS Radio's stations in Austin,
Cincinnati, Memphis and Rochester under the Entercom umbrella.
Cincinnati and Austin are new markets for Entercom, and in
Memphis the combination of the CBS and Entercom stations remains
under the ownership caps. But in Rochester, the pairing of Entercom's
four signals (country WBEE 92.5, adult hits WFKL 93.3 Fairport,
classic hits WBZA 98.9 and talk WROC 950) and CBS Radio's four
signals (modern rock WZNE 94.1 Brighton, classic rock WCMF 96.5,
top 40 WPXY 97.9 and AC WRMM 101.3) will put Entercom significantly
over the cap.
What is that cap, exactly? The revised ownership rules the
FCC adopted a few years back now define it by Arbitron markets
rather than by signal overlap, and our analysis puts the Rochester
market in the "45 stations or more" category (since
noncommercial signals are included in the count), thus allowing
Entercom to own up to eight stations, of which no more than five
can be in the same band. In theory, then, Entercom should be
allowed to keep WROC and five of the seven FMs - most likely
the five class B signals, which includes everything except WFKL
and WZNE. That, however, assumes that the deal meets Justice
Department approval as well, and with the dominance that a cluster
including WBEE, WCMF, WPXY, WBZA and WRMM would have in the market,
it's still possible that one of the big class B signals could
end up being spun off before the dealing's done.
(A bit of "only in NERW" trivia - if WPXY remains
in the Entercom family when the wheels stop spinning, it would
achieve the rare distinction of having been part of all three
big clusters in town, having first been part of the Lincoln Group,
which became the core of today's Clear Channel Rochester cluster,
before being dealt to ARS, which was absorbed into Infinity and
then CBS Radio.
One more Rochester note - EMF Broadcasting quietly flipped
calls on its "K-Love" outlet last week, changing WKUV
(104.9 Brockport) to WKDL after just a few months with the WKUV
calls. (The WKDL calls had been on Mega Broadcasting's AM station
in suburban Washington, DC, which was recently sold to the owner
of the Redskins and flipped to sports.)
A Watertown broadcaster who rose to national prominence died
last week. Tony Malara began his career at Syracuse University's
WAER (88.3), then worked at Watertown's WWNY-TV (Channel 7),
eventually becoming the station's general manager before moving
up to network management at CBS. Malara served as CBS TV's head
of affiliate relations, then as the network's president, before
his retirement in 1995. Most recently, he had moved into television
ownership - his Malara Broadcasting bought stations in Fort Wayne,
Indiana and Duluth, Minnesota from Granite in 2004, entering
into shared-services agreements under which Granite operates
the stations as quasi-duopolies. Malara also served as president
of the New York State Broadcasters' Association in 1978-79.
Malara died Thursday in Syracuse of complications from leukemia,
followed by a heart attack; he was 69.
Also in Syracuse, Citadel's WNTQ (93.1) is moving its lineup
around. Rick Roberts moves from evenings to afternoons, adding
the music director job to his business card. Big Jim Donovan
moves from afternoons to middays.
An Albany morning team is changing channels. Chuck and Kelly
have resigned from Pamal's WYJB (95.5), and they'll soon resurface,
we hear, on Regent's new move-in, WNYQ (105.7 Malta). Will WNYQ
challenge WYJB's dominance in the AC format? Stay tuned...
Meanwhile at Pamal, former WFLY (92.3 Troy) morning co-host
Brian Cody returns to morning drive Sept. 12. He'll be on the
air with Chrissy Cavotta (formerly of "Frank" in Portland,
Maine) and Jim Clark (late of Metro Traffic).
*In eastern PENNSYLVANIA, there
was little surprise when Clear Channel finally unveiled the new
format on WSNI (104.5 Philadelphia) at noon on Wednesday, after
more than a week of stunting. In place of the soft AC "Sunny"
format that had been on WSNI, it's now Spanish tropical "Rumba
104.5," the city's first-ever full-market Spanish FM station.
While the Philadelphia market's Hispanic population is much
smaller than other big Northeast markets, Clear Channel says
it's growing quickly, and worthy of its own signal.
Philadelphia has a new AM signal, too - Alex Langer completed
the move-in of WFYL (1530 McConnellsburg) to its new home on
1180 in King of Prussia, and the station made its official Philly-market
debut on Tuesday. It's a 420-watt daytimer operating from a short
Valcom tower in the middle of a golf course in West Norriton;
it's mostly carrying talk from Langer's National Radio Network
for the moment.
In Allentown, the oldies will soon be history at Clear Channel's
WKAP (1470); it will flip to religion as WYHM beginning Sept.
11, though it will continue to carry Phillies baseball, at least
for the rest of the season.
Radio People on the Move: Kannon departs the afternoon slot
at WRDW (96.5 Philadelphia), heading for afternoons at Clear
Channel "Kiss" WKSC (103.5 Chicago). Dipti "Dee"
Patel has been promoted from editor to news director at KYW (1060
Philadelphia). In Harrisburg, WCAT-FM (102.3 Carlisle) APD/music
director Don Brake is leaving for an as-yet-undisclosed new gig
within the Citadel family, so the station's looking for a replacement.
On TV in Harrisburg, Matt Uhl has exited as GM of Clear Channel
CBS affiliate WHP-TV (Channel 21). Anchor Kirsten Page has also
left the station.
And in Pittsburgh, CBS Radio's WRKZ (93.7 Pittsburgh) will
be picking up the "Kidd Chris" show from sister station
WYSP (94.1 Philadelphia), beginning this afternoon.
*Just one note from CANADA - CFCY
(630 Charlottetown) is now testing its new FM signal on 95.1.
Once CFCY makes its move to FM, expected later this fall, Prince
Edward Island will become the first Canadian province with no
full-power AM signals at all. Will it be the only one for long?
Have you ordered your 2007 Tower Site Calendar yet?
Read on for our special pre-publication offer, which expires
in just a few days...
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!)
August 29, 2005 -
- 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,
- *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.
August 27, 2001 -
- There's a new signal on the air in CONNECTICUT, and even
though it's just a watt, we'd bet plenty of people can tune in
W220CE (91.9 Southington). That's because the new WMNR (88.1
Monroe) translator sits high atop West Peak in Meriden, shoulder-to-shoulder
(well, bay-to-bay) with most of the big FM signals in Hartford
- The final days of talk on NEW YORK's WEVD (1050 New York)
are apparently upon us, and so is another protest from Chuck
Zlatkin's "Save WEVD" group. This time, they're planning
a candlelight vigil outside WEVD's studios at 333 Seventh Avenue,
to begin at 9:30 PM on Friday (August 31) and end with the candles
being snuffed out at midnight, when 1050 will reportedly become
ESPN Radio under ABC management.
- On the TV side, we hear October 1 will be the debut of Univision's
second network, to be known as "Telefutura." WHSE (Channel
68) in Newark, N.J., WHSI (Channel 67) in Smithtown, WHSP (Channel
65) in Vineland, N.J. and WHUB-TV (Channel 66) in Marlborough,
Mass. will be the initial affiliates in NERW-land; we'd expect
some call changes down the road.
- We'll start this week's news from CANADA with word that CBC's
Radio Two service will soon be available in Quebec City. As part
of the CRTC's mandate to broaden the reach of CBC/Radio-Canada
services, the CBC won permission this week to put a new CBM-FM
(93.5 Montreal) relay on the air in Quebec City. The new signal,
with 308 watts, will be at 96.1, the former home of noncomm CKIA
("Radio Basse-Ville"), which is moving (or perhaps
has already moved) to 88.3.
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- After more than three years of bitter
head-to-head competition for Boston's country-music audience,
the war between WBCS (96.9) and WKLB-FM (105.7) came to an end
late Friday night. WKLB-FM jock Greg Williams closed out the
evening with several appropriate songs, winding down with the
lyric "It was over, just like that," and the brief
comment, "Ain't that the truth...WKLB-FM Framingham Boston."
And after a few seconds of dead air, 105.7 slid into a simulcast
with WBCS that's expected to continue for about two weeks. The
former WBCS air talent remained on the air Saturday, giving dual
IDs as "Boston's Country Stations, WBCS 96.9 and WKLB 105.7."
We'll know Monday morning whether WKLB's top air talent, morning
hosts Loren and Wally, will be part of this interim simulcast
- It's pretty much a given that the simulcast
will end September 5, with one of the signals staying country
(possibly under the WKLB calls, meaning Greater Media may actually
have to pay up on its million-dollar promise to keep WBCS country
through the end of 1996), and the other one likely taking the
heritage WROR calls that recently returned to the market on Greater
Media's AM 1150. (Boston's largest daily newspaper somehow managed
to report on the WMEX-to-WROR call change without ever once hinting
that WROR has a legacy in the Boston market. The newspaper report
claimed that the WMEX calls were purchased by "a Tejano
station in Texas," which would be quite a feat considering
that Texas is almost entirely K-call country, except for a handful
of pre-1923 W stations -- WTAW, WRR, WBAP, WFAA, WOAI, and WACO!
No sign yet in the FCC database of anyone claiming the WMEX calls.)
- Police on Cape Cod have made an arrest
in the sabotage on WWKJ (101.1 Mashpee) and WJCO (93.5 Harwich
Port). A 15 year old boy from Centreville MA was in juvenile
court on Friday, charged with cutting the cables from the stations'
satellite dish. Station officials say the cable-cutting also
damaged one of the receivers, leaving WJCO (soft AC "Coast
93.5") off the air for almost two days. It appears the boy
may have been upset about the stations' format change from modern
rock, and that he may have had adult help.
- Out in Western Massachusetts, a distinctive
FM station may be in for some big changes. Radio Skutnik, Inc.
is selling its Greenfield MA properties, WRSI 95.3 and WGAM 1520,
to Watertown Radio Associates of Claremont NH. Watertown's ownership
is cross-linked to Northstar Broadcasting, which owns WTSV-WHDQ
Claremont NH, WNHV-WKXE White River Junction VT, WSSH Marlboro
VT, and WXPS and WCPV in the Burlington VT market. I believe
they also now have an interest in WZSH Bellows Falls VT, which
along with WSSH serves the Brattleboro VT area, just to the north
of Greenfield. Will Watertown be willing to spend $650,000 and
keep WRSI's distinctive AAA format? Time will tell, but it doesn't
look good. Skutnik has an option to repurchase WGAM, a 10kw DA
daytimer, for $70,000. WGAM currently programs a satellite standards
*It's here! Tower Site 2007 is
now at the printer, and we'll begin shipping it out just after
year's edition features what we think are the finest tower images
yet - from the cover image of WCCO Minneapolis all the way to
the back-cover centerfold of WBZ in Boston, and from KGO San
Francisco to KOIL Omaha to Philadelphia's famed Roxborough tower
farm, captured in a dramatic dusk shot with the lights all aglow.
This sixth annual edition once again contains plenty of historic
dates from radio and television history in the Northeast and
beyond, and as always, it comes to you shrink-wrapped and shipped
first class mail for safe arrival.
Why place your order early this year? Two reasons - first,
we're printing a more limited quantity of calendars this year
than in past years, and we do expect the 2007 calendar
to sell out before long. And second, if you order before September
1, you can order your 2007 calendar at the same $16 price
that we've been offering ever since the 2003 edition. After that,
because of increases in production and postage costs, we'll be
forced to raise the price slightly...so don't wait!
You can even get your 2007 calendar free with
your new or renewal subscription
to NERW at the $60 level.
Visit the Fybush.com
Store and place your order today - and be among the first
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2006 by Scott Fybush.