October 2, 2006
Liu Moves Into TV Arena
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2007 - NOW SHIPPING!!!
*There's a new broadcaster coming to the TV dials
in MASSACHUSETTS and CONNECTICUT. Arthur Liu, whose
Multicultural Radio Broadcasting has become a major force in
leased-time radio in big cities from Boston to New York to Los
Angeles, is entering the television arena with the $170 million
purchase of Shop at Home TV's five UHF stations from Scripps
Liu is creating a new company, Multicultural Television Broadcasting,
to operate the stations. Four of the five, including WMFP (Channel
62) in Lawrence, Mass. and WSAH (Channel 43) in Bridgeport, Conn.,
were full-time outlets of the former Shop at Home TV network,
which Scripps also recently sold. Since that sale, they've continued
to broadcast the network under its new owner, Jewelry Television.
That will surely change under Multicultural, whose model for
TV will likely follow the company's successful radio model, under
which all or nearly all of its stations' airtime is leased out
to program producers, mostly in foreign languages or serving
For WMFP, which transmits from One Beacon Street in Boston
and has nearly full-market cable carriage, that shouldn't be
difficult. For WSAH, it will be a bit more of a challenge - while
the station is technically in the New York City TV market, it
has little cable carriage beyond Connecticut and no over-the-air
presence in the city itself. Given its distance from the center
of the market, and its history of non-carriage on New York and
New Jersey cable systems, it may face a challenge in getting
on cable in those areas, which would impair its reach.
The other Shop at Home stations involved in the deal are WOAC
Canton (Cleveland), Ohio; WRAY Wilson (Raleigh), N.C. and KCNS
San Francisco. KCNS was already running leased-time instead of
home shopping for most of its day, and may well end up becoming
the most lucrative piece of Liu's deal.
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*In other news from the Bay State, Jay Severin returned to
his former radio home Monday, as the cancellation of his Westwood
One syndicated evening offering freed him to return to the 3-6
PM slot on flagship WTKK (96.9 Boston). The move once again puts
Severin head-to-head against Howie Carr on WRKO (680), and it
pushes Michael Graham from WTKK's afternoon drive slot to evenings.
Severin also says he's moving from Sag Harbor, N.Y. (where he's
been doing the show via ISDN since its Boston-only days at WTKK)
up to the Boston area soon.
Back in July, we reported that Mario Mazza was moving from
the PD chair at WCRB (102.5 Waltham) to the station manager's
chair at public station WHIL (91.3 Mobile AL), only to be met
with a one-line e-mail from Mazza telling us, "you're wrong,"
followed by stony silence when asked for clarification. Now the
Mobile Press-Register reports - guess what? - that Mazza
officially started as station manager at WHIL last week. Did
the veteran classical programmer have a change of heart once
word got out that the WCRB classical format would survive under
new ownership? Was he trying to back out of the Mobile move?
We may never know...and we don't expect WCRB to fill the now-vacant
PD position until Nassau takes over and the station moves to
99.5, which should happen sometime in the next couple of months.
change is in the air at WEIM (1280). We already told you, a few
weeks ago, that longtime morning man Ray C was moving to nights.
That move took place today, and so did the station's segue to
a new slogan. It's now "AM 1280 the Blend, Hits and Information,"
with Ben Parker in mornings. Ray C's new show, "The Open
Mic," airs Monday-Thursday from 6-8 PM and Sundays 9-11
And from the history files, the celebration of the Reginald
Fessenden centennial will continue next weekend in Marshfield,
as the Isaac Winslow House holds a symposium on the early history
of radio. The event begins at 9:30 AM on Saturday, October 7,
and features radio historians Donna Halper of Emerson College,
Nick Mills of Boston University, Ed Perry of WATD and yours truly,
along with veteran WHDH morning man Jess Cain. Registration is
$35 and includes a luncheon to follow. (Hope to see you there!)
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*Two more CONNECTICUT notes: the new morning man at
WEZN ("Star 99.9" Bridgeport) is Reno, who recently
departed WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie) and whose resume also includes
stops at WFLY in Albany, Z100 in New York and WBLI on Long Island.
Over in Norwich, we wish a very happy 60th anniversary to
WICH (1310), which went on the air way back in 1946 as WNOC on
1400. The station brought former air personalities back to its
morning show last week to reminisce about the early years - and
to celebrate the local focus it's maintained ever since.
*It's been a long time coming, but digital
TV is finally a reality in VERMONT. Vermont Public TV's
WETK (Channel 33) was the first station to sign on a DTV signal
from Mount Mansfield a few days ago, and we hear that the other
stations in the Mansfield tower consortium - CBS affiliate WCAX,
NBC affiliate WPTZ, Fox outlet WFFF and ABC affiliate WVNY -
will have their signals on within the next few weeks, too. (It's
getting to be late in the season for us to get up there for an
updated Site of the Week, but we're hoping to go back next spring
to see the outcome of all the years of negotiations and a summer
of busy construction at Vermont's highest point!)
*A MAINE television pioneer has died. Eddie
Driscoll was a founding staffer at WTWO (Channel 2) in Bangor
when it signed on in 1954, and he stayed with the station (which
soon became WLBZ-TV) as its movie and kids' show host for 33
years, entertaining generations of northern Maine children, including
a young Stephen King. Driscoll died Sept. 24 of Alzheimer's disease;
he was 81.
*In upstate NEW YORK, the FCC gave
Regent the go-ahead to begin an LMA of CBS Radio's five-station
Buffalo cluster. As we go to press Monday, no changes have been
heard yet at the signals (including market leader WYRK), but
plenty of rumors are swirling. As always, stay tuned...
In New York City, WKTU (103.5 Lake Success) has a new PD,
following the (involuntary, we hear) departure of longtime programmer
Jeff Z. The PD chair at KTU is now occupied by Rob Miller, who
keeps his existing PD duties at WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue) as well.
What's next for Jeff Z? He's getting married later this month,
and he'll start looking for a new job after he gets back from
a Caribbean honeymoon.
Binghamton will soon have a new radio station. George Hawras
tells the Press & Sun-Bulletin that his new Windsor-licensed
106.7 signal, which recently got the calls WRRQ, will sign on
within a few weeks as "Q107." It will be simulcast
on Hawras' 104.5 translator in Binghamton, which currently carries
sister station WCDW (100.5 Susquehanna PA).
In Utica, Stephen Lawrence departs as PD of Clear Channel's
"Kiss" WSKS (97.9 Whitesboro)/WSKU (105.5 Little Falls)
and "Mix" WUMX (102.5 Rome).
On the TV dial, former WROC-TV (Channel 8) reporter/anchor
Rachel Barnhart has settled her lawsuit against the Nexstar-owned
CBS affiliate, which challenged the non-compete clause in her
contract. Barnhart has been off the air since January, but she's
been working behind the scenes at WHAM-TV (Channel 13) since
April. Now that the suit has been settled (with both sides barred
from disclosing the terms of the settlement), Barnhart is free
to return to the airwaves, and indeed, she was on the air at
Channel 13 Sunday night.
*Philadelphia radio legend Hy Lit is returning
to the terrestrial airwaves in NEW JERSEY. Lit's hylitradio.com
is adding simulcasts on "traditional" radio, beginning
today with initial affiliates WSNJ (1240 Bridgeton) and WMVB
(1440 Millville) in south Jersey.
*Elsewhere in PENNSYLVANIA, Kelly West is
back in morning drive alongside John London at WARM-FM (103.3
York), two years after she was replaced by Melanie Gardner in
that slot. (She moves to middays on WARM.) Meanwhile, West's
former morning co-host on WARM, Rick Sten, is now doing mornings
on "Mix" WMHX (106.7 Hershey), where Ed Coffey, the
longtime WTPA morning man, is out after a two-year run.
In Coudersport, WFRM-FM (96.7) has segued from Westwood One's
"Bright AC" satellite service to WW1's "Sam FM"
adult hits service.
In Pittsburgh, Alex Tear adds PD duties at oldies WWSW (94.5)
to his existing PD gig at Clear Channel sister station WKST (96.1
Kiss FM); former 3WS PD Sheri Van Dyke remains the station's
midday jock and music director.
Two obituaries to report this week: Hugh Clinton, former owner
of WCTX (96.1 Palmyra), died Sept. 13 at 76.
And just across the border in DELAWARE we're very sorry
to have to report the sudden death of Charlie Slezak, veteran
engineer at Delmarva Broadcasting (WDEL/WSTW). Charlie suffered
a heart attack Sunday (Oct. 1), at age 53, leaving behind wife
Nancy Black and four children. He'd been at WDEL/WSTW for 25
years, and was our tour guide when we visited the stations in
2003 for Tower
Site of the Week. (The cover of the 2005 Tower Site Calendar
was shot on that trip.) We'd long been meaning to take Charlie
up on his invitation to visit Delmarva's stations down on the
shore some warm summer weekend, and we're sorry that won't happen,
*In CANADA, Fort Erie's CKEY (Wild
101.1) wants to move its transmitter. The station now operates
from one tower of the 13-tower array of sister station CJRN (710
Niagara Falls), but it's asking the CRTC for permission to move
north and west to the site of sister station CFLZ (105.1 Niagara
Falls), where it would operate with 50 kW DA (13 kW average ERP)
at 142.4 meters. The move, if granted, would also silence CKEY's
on-channel repeater in St. Catharines, which would no longer
In Oshawa, CKDO (1580/107.7) is getting ready for a big 60th
birthday celebration later this week. It'll put on a special
broadcast Thursday night (Oct. 5), from 9 PM to 2 AM, featuring
former staffers from the station's long history as CKLB, CKAR
and CKDO - and soliciting reception reports from DXers far and
wide on its new 1580 signal. Meanwhile, CKDO is also looking
for more power for its FM relay signal. It's asking the FCC to
let it boost power there from 250 watts to 2 kW DA (665 watts
average ERP) at 86 meters, to overcome co-channel interference
from WLKK (107.7 Wethersfield NY).
And in Windsor, CKUE (95.1 Chatham) has won CRTC permission
to move its transmitter there from 95.1 to 100.7, with 3.84 kW
DA. That'll eliminate interference between the Chatham and Windsor
transmitters, providing a better signal for drivers on Highway
401 between the two cities. (It'll also provide a cleaner signal
in Detroit, with no co-channel interference from WFBE in Flint.)
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!)
October 3, 2005 -
- At Entercom Boston, two well-known talk hosts are out. First,
WRKO (680 Boston) announced on Monday that morning co-host Peter
Blute wasn't renewing his contract, which was to expire today.
Blute joined the station from the world of politics in 1999,
working first with the late Andy Moes, then with John Osterlind
before WRKO launched him on his current partnership with Scott
Allen Miller in 2003. Miller will continue doing mornings solo
for now; we wouldn't be surprised to see Blute re-enter the political
arena. (And we're most curious to see what other moves WRKO's
new operations manager, Brian Whittemore, has up his sleeve.)
- A few days later, down the hall at sports giant WEEI (850
Boston), came word that longtime night host Ted Sarandis was,
er, "leaving to pursue other interests." Sarandis joined
WEEI in 1992, not long after the station's shift to sports, and
his "Ted Nation" show had been a 7-midnight fixture
there even as much of the rest of WEEI's schedule shifted. There's
no word yet on a permanent replacement, or on what Sarandis will
do next. He'll remain the voice of Boston College basketball,
and it's not hard to imagine that he'll be talking to the new
"ESPN Boston" (WAMG 890 Dedham/WLLH 1400 Lowell), too.
- Our best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to WBZ (1030
Boston) morning institution Gary LaPierre, who underwent triple-bypass
surgery last week after suffering a heart attack. He's recovering
and resting at his North Shore home, and we hope he's back in
the anchor chair soon.
- From CONNECTICUT comes word that a well-known morning voice
has been silenced. Ron Rohmer came to the New Haven area from
his native Canada to play hockey in the fifties, but moved into
radio at WELI (960 New Haven) in 1961. He became the city's most
popular radio personality during his long run in morning drive
there, but an ownership change in 1995 pushed him out of the
slot. Rohmer sued Clear Channel for age discrimination, and the
company soon brought him back at sister station WAVZ (1300),
from which he retired in 1999. Rohmer died last Sunday (Sept.
25); he was 74.
- Today's launch day for PENNSYLVANIA's newest sports station.
WPEN (950 Philadelphia) said goodbye to its oldies format, with
Jim Nettleton as the last live jock Friday night, and today it
enters the battle against entrenched market leader WIP (610).
- In Scranton, the "Chet" stunt at WWRR (104.9) came
to an end on Monday, when the station relaunched as "105
the River." At least in its initial days - it's kicking
things off with a 5,000-song "River Cruise" - the station's
music mix seems like the "variety hits" formats known
elsewhere as "Jack," "Ben," "Mike,"
and so on. GM Bob VanDerheyden tells the local papers that the
River won't have the same attitude as the "Jack" clones,
though, and he prefers to think of it as an AC with a particularly
October 1, 2001 -
- It's not often that we start a NERW report in NEW JERSEY,
but this week, that's where the big story seems to be. To be
precise, it's in Bridgeton, way down at the southern end of the
Garden State, where aficionados of quirky local radio have long
prized WSNJ (107.7/1240) as an exemplary specimen of the kind
of full-service station that disappeared most places years ago.
Under the ownership of Ed Bold, WSNJ today sounds pretty much
the same way it did a couple of decades ago - everything from
lost-dog announcements to school menus, with a few songs here
and there, a top-hour ID that still proudly proclaims that the
FM signal is "in stereo," and a midnight signoff.
- But at the age of 82, Bold has decided to retire, and that
means WSNJ has been sold. The Bridgeton News reported Thursday
that Bold will receive $20 million for the station, including
its real estate and prominent self-supporting tower, from an
unidentified buyer "from South Carolina." That, in
turn, immediatedly prompted speculation involving the Beasley
family, which owns a Philadelphia cluster that includes WXTU
(92.5) and WPTP (96.5) - though we'd be quick to note that Beasley
Broadcasting is currently headquartered in south Florida. We'll
be following this one closely in the weeks to come.
- In CONNECTICUT, WGCH (1490 Greenwich) is trying to stay on
the air in the face of an eviction notice. The little community
station has known for two years that it will have to abandon
its tower at 175 W. Putman Ave., a move it's wanted to make anyway,
since new construction has blocked much of the signal from that
aging facility. Now it appears WGCH's landlord has run out of
patience, leading to a September 17 notice to vacate the site
and remove the tower. WGCH's latest plan for a new site, in the
face of what its owner calls the "severe, almost draconian
zoning regulations" in Greenwich, involve the parking lot
of the Cos Cob Marina on River Road, about two miles from the
present site. WGCH has asked the FCC to move quickly on approving
the use of a very short Valcom fiberglass whip antenna, a type
only approved until now for daytimers (the first one being WSHP
1480 in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania). We'll keep you posted on
WGCH's status as the eviction notice works its way through the
system; we believe the station remains on the air for now.
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- The Fox that Growled: NERW was quite
surprised during its trip up to Bangor, Maine a week and a half
ago, when a quick check of classic rock WWFX (104.7 Belfast-Bangor
ME) turned up country music instead. It seems the "Fox"
has undergone a species-change operation, emerging on September
20th as "the Bear," playing "hot new country."
This sets up not a cross-town rivalry, but an across-the-street
rivalry with longtime Bangor country leader WQCB (106.5 Brewer-Bangor
ME). Q106's studios are just half a block down Acme Road from
WWFX in Brewer, Maine. The nice folks at WWFX weren't saying,
but NERW suspects a call change is in the offing there. NERW
editorial comment: The move to country is probably a sound one.
WQCB has been without competition since 97.1 Bangor changed from
country WYOU to modern-rock WWBX ("97X") a year or
so ago. And between 97X and rocker WKIT, the rock wars were getting
a bit heated in Eastern Maine.
- One of Northern New England's biggest
FM signals is temporarily off the air while it changes ownership.
WZPK (103.7 Berlin NH), "the Peak," vanished from the
airwaves not long after Fuller-Jeffrey Broadcasting closed on
its purchase of the hot AC station last Friday. The Peak is reportedly
undergoing technical improvements at its transmitter atop Mount
Washington, and will reportedly be back on the air within a week
or so. Stay tuned...
- The WMEX calls that are a part of Boston's
radio heritage have resurfaced, this time in Westport NY on the
102.5 construction permit last known as WADQ. Westport is across
Lake Champlain from the already overbuilt Burlington, Vermont
market. WMEX's last home, 1150 AM in Boston, is now WROR(AM)
and will reportedly switch to the KidStar format sometime next
week. WROR's sister station, WBCS 96.9 Boston, has now officially
switched to the WKLB-FM calls adopted from what's now WROR-FM
(105.7 Framingham-Boston), although 96.9 continues to mis-ID
as simply "WKLB Boston."
- Up in Vermont, WCMD (89.9) in Barre
is now on the air, simulcasting religious WCMK (91.7) in Bolton.
The 90.5 construction permit in St. Johnsbury, granted as WAQA,
has filed to change to WCKJ. This will reportedly be another
religious outlet. Not too far away, in Keene NH, WKNE AM/FM (1290/103.7)
have reportedly been sold for a total of $6 million...more on
this next issue.
*It's here! Tower Site Calendar
2007 is now shipping, and if you took advantage of our pre-order
offer, your calendar should be arriving in your mailbox any day
This 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.
You can even get your 2007 calendar free with
your new or renewal subscription
to NERW at the $60 level.
Visit the Fybush.com
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2006 by Scott Fybush.