July 9, 2007
The Oldies Return at WCBS-FM
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2007 - SOLD OUT!!!
II: As if Entercom's WRKO (680 Boston) didn't
have enough problems, what with a floundering morning show and
an expensive Red Sox contract to pay off - now it's losing its
star local talk host. Howie Carr announced today that he's leaving
the station after 20 years, the last 13 in afternoon drive, and
taking the morning slot at Greater Media's WTKK (96.9 Boston)
last occupied by Don Imus. Carr's contract expires in September,
and he hopes to start at WTKK in October. Much more in next week's
MONDAY UPDATE: Now
it's official - CBS announced Monday morning that WCBS-FM will
return to oldies at 1:01 PM, Thursday, July 12, with a DJ lineup
that will include Dan Taylor in mornings, Bob Shannon in middays
and "Broadway" Bill Lee in afternoons and a mix of
music that draws from the 60s as well as the 70s and 80s. "Jack
FM" will survive on 101.1's HD2 channel.
years after NEW YORK's WCBS-FM (101.1) flipped to oldies,
and two years after the station rocked the Big Apple radio world
with a flip away from oldies to adult hits "Jack FM,"
the message boards once again began buzzing last Thursday afternoon
with word that the new management at CBS Radio was about to reverse
course and restore oldies to 101.1.
Whether or not the news was an intentional leak, it came at
a perfectly slow moment in the larger news cycle, and by Friday
it had moved beyond the radio message boards and e-mail lists
and out to the TV newscasts and the headlines on WINS. By Saturday
morning, it was even the front-page story in the Daily News,
even though CBS had yet to confirm that the move was happening.
As we head for our Sunday night NERW deadline, there's still
been no confirmation from within CBS, but all the signs we're
hearing tell us that the rumors are true, and that at some point
between today and Thursday, WCBS-FM will indeed return to some
version of the oldies format it was using until that dark day
in June 2005.
good news for New York oldies fans, but perhaps not quite as
much good news as some of them were hoping for. Despite the Daily
News' claim that the station will be bringing back "real
DJs," our sources tell us that at least at first, the new
CBS-FM will sound very much like the HD2/webstream version of
CBS-FM that's been serving as a stopgap replacement for the original
station - no DJs, and a music mix that leans more heavily on
the 70s and early 80s than the old CBS-FM did.
None of that should come as any surprise to anyone who's been
following the moves at CBS Radio since Dan Mason returned earlier
this year to retake the reins from Joel Hollander. In addition
to the mercy killing of what remained of "Free FM"
in New York, returning "K-Rock" WXRK (92.3) to the
airwaves, Mason replaced "Free FM" in San Francisco
(KIFR 106.9) with a revived version of KFRC, leaning more toward
classic hits than the oldies KFRC once played in its previous
incarnation. The new KFRC launched jockless, and only slowly
added air talent.
Who might be on the lineup at the new CBS-FM? Pretty much
every name that's graced the mike there over the last few decades
has been suggested for the revived 101, and many of them would
appear to be available. (What's Micky Dolenz doing these days,
anyway?) And of course there are plenty of talented jocks who've
lost their full-time gigs in recent years to format changes and
consolidation - anyone from Carol Miller to Bill Buchner to Pat
St. John to Famous Amos would make great additions to the airstaff.
all in the realm of speculation for now, though. Even though
CBS has been making some solid moves recently (especially the
launch of "Fresh FM" on 102.7, which has made serious
inroads on longtime market revenue champion WLTW, a station that
would face further challenges from a revived WCBS-FM), few of
them have involved the kind of personality radio that made the
original WCBS-FM so successful for so long. Fresh has eroded
WLTW's numbers with an approach that's nearly jockless, and the
revived K-Rock has been running mostly jockless as well, though
that may change now that there's a PD in place there.
(Indeed, one can argue that Mason has thus far failed to work
his magic at the most personality-dependent of the New York stations,
the still Imus-less WFAN.)
If there's one thing just about every observer of the New
York radio scene agrees on, it's that a revived CBS-FM that's
run as a jockless automated station, or even one with very generic
personalities, won't recapture the magic of the original. We're
hoping for good news on that account, and we'll be following
this story very closely in the weeks to come.
Oh, and one more thing - what becomes of "Jack,"
which was actually showing some nice upticks in ratings and revenue
in recent books? We suspect the music - if not the expensively-licensed
name and Howard Cogan-voiced drop-ins - is likely to survive
as an HD Radio subchannel, if not on 101.1 itself, then on one
of its CBS Radio sister stations. (We'd love to see the new CBS-FM
follow the lead of other oldies stations and devote its HD2 channel
to the 50s and 60s tunes that are increasingly absent from contemporary
oldies playlists on the main channel.)
And can we get through an entire story without resorting to
the "Hit the Road, Jack" cliche that's turned up all
over the place? We almost did...
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*Elsewhere in the Empire State over the long holiday week:
In the Albany market, public broadcaster WMHT pulled the plug
on one of its two classical music services on Saturday, replacing
"cool, comfortable, classical" WBKK (97.7 Amsterdam)
with "Exit 97.7," a new AAA format with new calls WEXT.
WMHT says the two-year experiment with WBKK, which had been
a commercial classical station before WMHT bought it, found that
there was a tremendous amount of listener duplication between
97.7 and the more established WMHT-FM (89.1 Schenectady), producing
little in the way of new listeners or members to the station.
"Exit 97.7" will feature local jocks Dave Michaels
in morning drive and Eileen Roarke in middays, with station manager
Chris Wienk handling afternoons.
Programming will also include two daily runs of "World
Cafe" from Philadelphia's WXPN and the new age show "Echoes"
(which was already being heard at night on WBKK), as well as
a local music show called "Area 518" on weekends.
Radio People on the Move: There's a new assistant PD/music
director at New York's WQHT (97.1), as Jill Strada moves north
to "Hot 97" from WPYO in Orlando, where she was PD.
She'll start next week.
We're not sure if this is a brand-new development or not,
but we note that the Binghamton TV stations being divested by
Clear Channel have cut back on their newscasts. ABC affiliate
WIVT (Channel 34) has dropped the first hour of its morning news,
which now airs only from 6:30-7 AM. WIVT still offers an hour
of news at 5:30, but its 11 PM newscast has been cut back to
a five-minute headline update, followed by "Access Hollywood."
The 5:30, 6 and 11 PM shows are still simulcast on sister NBC
affiliate WBGH-LP (Channel 20), followed at 11 by a "Scrubs"
rerun, and now only CBS affiliate WBNG (Channel 12), the longtime
market leader, offers a full slate of daily newscasts. (Binghamton's
still well ahead of Watertown and Utica, where the former Clear
Channel ABC affiliates dropped pretty much all their news in
recent years, leaving only one local newsroom in each market.)
Before we leave the Empire State, one quick Independence Day
note: we loved the quarter-page ads in our local daily rag for
the city of Rochester's fireworks display, and we're glad they
noted the existence of a radio soundtrack simulcast for the big
show. But we wonder who goofed and listed the simulcast as being
on "WBZZ," part of Regent's cluster in Albany, rather
than "WBZA," the local Entercom station that was indeed
carrying the broadcast? (And what does it say about the relative
unimportance of callsigns these days that nobody else probably
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*In MAINE, Saga's tweaked the imaging at
WYNZ (100.9 Westbrook) - instead of "Oldies" (didn't
they get the news from New York?), the station is now "Portland's
Big Hits, Y-100.9."
Our pal Chuck Igo and the rest of the airstaff remain intact,
and the biggest image on the top of the station's webpage is
still the Beatles, so it's really only a name change up there.
"The Humble Farmer" isn't coming back to Maine Public
Broadcasting, but Robert Skoglund has found a new radio home
elsewhere. After losing his longtime spot on MPBN Radio over
accusations that he made political comments on what was supposed
to be a humor show, Skoglund is joining low-power WJZP-LP (97.1
Standish), which will air "Humble Farmer" segments
five times a week over the air and on its webcast.
*An iconic MASSACHUSETTS broadcasting site
is no more. Demolition crews closed off Western Avenue in Allston
Saturday morning to take down the pedestrian bridge that had
linked the two main buildings of WGBH for decades.
The bridge had to come down in order to get a certificate
of occupancy at WGBH's new building on Market Street, as our
colleague Garrett Wollman explains over at the Archives @ BostonRadio.org.
Our thanks to him for sharing this picture of the demolition
- and head over to the Archives site to see
many more. (And, you know, we'd have loved to have preserved
that WGBH sign if only we'd known that they were just ripping
it down with the rest of the bridge...)
Speaking of pictures, Salem's WTTT (1150 Boston) was apparently
having some trouble with them as the station launched its new
to regular reader Laurence Glavin for noting the lovely skyline
photo on the talk1150.com
site, which featured a beautiful waterfront view of - er, Baltimore's
Inner Harbor. It didn't take long for Adam Gaffin's excellent
to catch wind of the gaffe (and to preserve it for posterity,
for which, many thanks) - and we'll give Salem the benefit of
the doubt and say that the generic American flag graphic that
quickly replaced the Charm City on the WTTT site was going to
go up anyway, what with it being the Fourth of July and all.
There's a new morning show
coming to WFNX (101.7 Lynn) and its Maine and NEW HAMPSHIRE
sister stations in two weeks, as Chris "Charlie" Padgett,
Dustin "Fletcher" Matthews and Elbe "Special Ed"
d'Oliveira launch "The Sandbox" on the Phoenix Media
stations. The three worked together at Richmond's WDYL from 2004-2006,
and Padgett has a New England history that includes four years
at WFNX (1996-2000) and more recently, working mornings at WNCS
in Montpelier, VERMONT. Matthews has been at WFXH in South
Carolina, and d'Oliveira comes straight to WFNX from WDYL. PD
Keith Dakin says the new "Sandbox" show will feature
more synergy with Phoenix Media's other properties, including
the Boston Phoenix and Stuff @ Night. The
new show replaces the Michael Swasey morning show, which lasted
three years at FNX.
New calls on the Cape: WCDJ (102.3 Truro) changes to WGTX
- and at last account, the station was still off the air, not
on with oldies as "Dunes 102" as we'd erroneously reported
a couple of weeks back.
New calls in Vermont, too: mark down WVTI as the new calls
for Vermont Public Radio's new signal on 106.9 in Brighton, serving
the Island Pond area.
*Boston's channel 2 just moved, and now CONNECTICUT's
channel 3 has started to load up the moving vans. WFSB (Channel
3) has finished construction of its new studio complex in Rocky
Hill, and station staffers began moving in last week. Newscast
production from the new studios won't start for a few more weeks,
so the news department remains at the old Broadcast House in
downtown Hartford for a little while longer. (Thanks to reader
Bill Dillane for snapping the pictures!)
*Heading down to PENNSYLVANIA, Clear
Channel's new "Radio 104" in Philadelphia now has a
PD, as John Allers arrives this week from CBS Radio, where he
was serving as regional operations manager for the company's
San Jose and Monterey, California clusters. Allers has been involved
in several recent format launches back east, too, including AAA
"Globe" WTGB 94.7 in Washington and rocker "The
Sound" WSWD in Cincinnati.
Samantha Layne is heading south from Allentown, where she's
been part of the airstaff at WODE (99.9 Easton), to Philadelphia,
becoming morning co-host at WBEB (101.1) alongside Tiffany Hill
and Bill Tafrow. She'll start next month.
Over at Radio One's Philadelphia Cluster, AllAccess reports
that Daisy Davis has exited as operations manager, following
former GM Chester Schofield out the door.
are new (old) calls on the AM dial in Reading: WKAP (1340) has
returned to the WRAW calls that were on the frequency for what
seems like forever.
It's still carrying contemporary Christian music, at least
for now, as "Praise 1340."
*In CANADA, the CRTC has finished
sorting through the eight applications for new Montreal-area
signals that it considered at a public hearing in April, and
the result is two grants for new FM stations and none for the
various applicants who asked for new AM signals.
Most of the applicants proposed new ethnic stations, and of
those applicants, the CRTC chose Canadian Hellenic Cable Radio,
Inc. to get what it says is the last remaining open FM frequency
in Montreal. That would be 106.3, second-adjacent to Aboriginal
Voices Radio's new 106.7 facility, and CHCR will have to satisfy
AVR that its 190-watt signal won't interfere with AVR, which
means in practice that both stations will have to share a transmitter
The CRTC also approved Yves Sauve's application for a French-language
oldies station in suburban Vaudreuil-Dorion, but denied him the
use of 106.3. He now has 90 days to come up with an alternate
frequency that would work for his new signal.
Out on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, the CRTC granted two
of the four applications it received for new stations at Sydney.
Local resident Barry Maxwell Martin gets 26.5 kW on 103.5 for
a station that will play rock, jazz and blues, while Newcap will
get 57 kW DA on 101.9 for a classic rock station, competing with
Maritime Broadcasting Systems' CJCB, CHER-FM and CKPE-FM. Applications
from Coast Broadcasting and Evanov Broadcasting were rejected.
Maritime will be getting competition in Kentville, N.S. as
well, as the CRTC grants Newcap a new FM on 89.3, with 9.9 kW
DA. The new station will program classic rock, in competition
with MBS' CKWM and CKEN-FM.
we'll close this week with one more building story: the iconic
CityPulse news truck that's been bursting, in a fake sort of
way, from the side of Toronto's ChumCity building at 299 Queen
Street West for the last 20 years or so is apparently coming
down - or maybe not.
The building is staying with CityTV parent company CHUM Ltd.
under its new owner, CTVglobemedia, but CityTV itself, which
is being sold to Rogers, will be moving elsewhere soon.
So it's no surprise that CTV wants the truck (and the fake
concrete blocks around it) down from the wall of the building
as quickly as possible.
But as Torontoist
reports (with some help from the National Post), it may
not be so easy. Even though Toronto city officials are none too
fond of the Hollywood-esque crashing truck, which we'd admit
does look a little out of place in staid downtown Toronto, even
on not-so-staid Queen Street West, the building has a heritage
designation. So the bureaucrats will have to weigh in before
the truck can come down, which CTV officials now say could happen
any time from later this month through the end of the summer.
(The truck may yet resurface on the new City building over
on John Street, a block or so away.)
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!)
July 10, 2006 -
- One of the dangers of leased-time broadcasting is, quite
simply, that the broadcaster doesn't have full control of the
station - so when a leased-time station is sold, as happened
recently to WRIB (1220) in Providence, RHODE ISLAND - there's
always the danger that the new owners will want to change the
programming. The ethnic broadcasters who have called WRIB home
for decades are steaming this week, though, and given the way
their broadcasts were abruptly ended, we don't blame them one
- The sale itself was no surprise - NERW reported the $1.9
million deal back in our October 17, 2005 issue - but when Seekonk,
Massachusetts-based mega-church Faith Christian Center was making
its plans to take over operations from longtime WRIB owner Carter
Broadcasting, the expectation was that the Spanish, Portuguese,
Armenian, Italian and other ethnic broadcasters, as well as the
mainly Catholic leased-time religious programmers, would have
30 days' notice to allow them to transition to other signals
in the market. Instead, the end came with no warning at all.
Last Friday, church attorneys simply pulled the plug on WRIB
at 12:30 in the afternoon, giving several broadcasters just a
few hours to remove their office equipment from the station's
building and threatening them with trespassing charges if they
didn't move quickly enough.
- Whenever WRIB returns to the air, it will be from a new studio,
with new calls (as we reported in April, Faith Christian Center
has applied for new calls WSTL) and a religious format that will
apparently be far less diverse than the old WRIB. (It'll also
need a new engineer; contract engineer Craig Healy has ended
his long involvement with the station as well.) As for the programmers,
some of whom have been with WRIB since the station signed on
in 1947, they're now scrambling to find space elsewhere on the
Providence dial. With no chance to tell their listeners about
the transition, they stand to lose audience in the process. We
hear several of them are planning protests at Faith Christian
Center - they argue (and it's hard to disagree) that the way
they were treated when the station changed hands wasn't very
"Christian" at all.
- Across the border in MASSACHUSETTS, programmer Mario Mazza
has exited WCRB (102.5 Waltham) ahead of the changes that will
be coming to the classical station (and its associated World
Classical Network) whenever its long-pending sale is consummated.
Mazza came to WCRB in 1994, fresh from the controversial flip
of classical WNCN (104.3 New York) to rock, and while he's been
accused of "dumbing down" WCRB's format over his tenure
there, it should also be noted that WCRB is - at least for now
- still around and still doing fairly well in ratings and revenue,
which is more than most of the commercial classical stations
that were around in 1994 can say now. Mazza's getting about as
far from Boston as it's possible to get in the world of classical
radio - he's taking the general manager post at public radio
WHIL (91.3) in Mobile, Alabama, a community-operated station
licensed to Spring Hill College.
July 8, 2002 -
- The TV station atop NEW HAMPSHIRE's highest peak is completing
its move off Mount Washington. NERW research director Garrett
Wollman made the trek up the Rock last week, and in addition
to bringing back some gorgeous pictures of a rare clear summertime
day on the 6288-foot peak, he reports that WMTW-TV (Channel 8)
has reached agreement to sell its facilities on Mount Washington
to the state of New Hampshire. WMTW moved its transmitter to
Baldwin, Maine a few months ago, leaving the channel 8 building
on Washington nearly empty (veteran transmitter engineer/air
personality Marty Engstrom delivered his last on-air report from
the mountaintop in May before retiring) - and leaving the Mount
Washington Observatory and the two FM stations on the mountain
(WHOM 94.9 Mount Washington and WPKQ 103.7 North Conway) to figure
out how to get power, which had been provided by WMTW under contract.
No word yet on the price or timetable for the transfer, but stay
tuned to NERW for more in the weeks to come...
- MASSACHUSETTS radio and TV have been busy mourning the passing
of the legendary Ted Williams, of course, which gave us the chance
to hear veterans like Johnny Pesky during the weekend's Sox-Tigers
series (not to mention the Tigers' Ernie Harwell, still sharp
as a tack in his last season doing play-by-play at age 84) -
but there was some other news in the Bay State this holiday week:
- Up in Beverly, WNSH (1570) is trying to end years and years
of STA (Special Temporary Authority) operation, stemming from
the 1992 fire that destroyed the old 1570 (WMLO/WBVD) site in
Danvers. WNSH has been running with 500 watts daytime from a
new three-tower array on the Endicott College campus, according
to its latest FCC filing, but has been shown on the books as
a two-site operation, with night facilities still at the old
Danvers location. In reality, WNSH was operating with an STA
to transmit non-directionally from the middle tower of the new
day array, having concluded that it couldn't win political permission
to build the extra towers needed for full night power from Endicott.
The latest plan calls for a licensed 125 watts non-directional
at night from the Endicott College site, still using that 99-foot
- Out on Long Island, Muriel Horenstein died July 1. She's
remembered by many of the Island's radio veterans for her decades
running WBAB (1440/102.3) in Babylon and its AM successor, WNYG
(1440 Babylon), which she owned with her husband Sol.
July 10, 1997-
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- We'll start this week in VERMONT, where the modern rock wars
between WBTZ (99.9 Plattsburgh, "The Buzz," LMA'd to
WIZN) and WXPS (96.7 Vergennes, "The Pulse," co-owned
with WCPV) have come to an end, with the Buzz as the apparent
winner. WXPS is reportedly off the air for now, and will return
shortly with a sports-talk format. The Pulse was plagued for
most of its yearlong life with a poor signal in Burlington, a
problem rectified only recently by a 97.3 translator in the Queen
- Also dark for now is WCVT (101.7 Stowe), but it should be
on the air again any second now under the new ownership of Radio
Vermont, running a classical music format.
- Up there in MAINE, Dan Billings wrote to us from his trip
Down East, with word that WMCS (1400) Machias remains off the
air, while erstwhile sister station WALZ-FM (95.3) is in a triple
simulcast with Calais' WQDY (1230/92.7) as "International
Radio." Not part of the simulcast is Houlton's WHOU (100.1);
it was doing its own thing when Dan tuned in. WHRR (102.9) Dennysville-Calais
is on the air, running classic rock as "CD 102.9,"
reaching a few thousand people, a lot of water, and many cows
within reach of its 100 kW signal.
- Mostly quiet on the CONNECTICUT front, except around 97 MHz.
WILI-FM (98.3 Willimantic) has turned on its new translator on
97.5 in Bolton. W248AB is reaching out as far as Greenfield MA,
based on early field reports. And over at 97.1, the gospel pirate
in Hartford is reportedly operating at night only, with a signal
strong enough to stop the scan on car radios downtown.
- Moving along to NEW YORK, the big news this week is all in
the Capital District, and most of it comes from Clear Channel's
Albany properties. On the AM side, WQBK (1300 Rensselaer) will
switch from talk to sports on Monday. Morning host Scott Lounsberry
and midday host John Howe are out of work; PM drive host Howie
Green stays with the new "All Sports 1300" as operations
manager. Most of the WQBK programming will come from One-on-One
Sports. On the FM side, classic rocker WXCR (102.3 Ballston Spa)
made a big grab this week, stealing veteran morning team Mason
and Sheehan from SFX's WPYX (106.5).
- While the CBC has yet to secure CRTC permission to move CBL
to FM, it did get the go-ahead this week to move its Montreal
outlets off the AM band. In a news release that was apparently
translated from English to French and back again (after possibly
making a detour into Swedish), the CRTC announced that CBF (690)
will get to move to the 95.1 MHz spot. The release says CBM (940)
will also get an FM slot, but fails to give a frequency. CIME
(99.5 Ste.-Adele) will apparently change to an undisclosed new
frequency to open 99.5 for a new commercial French-language classical
station in Montreal. And Quebec's CBV (980) also gets a new berth
on FM; again, no frequency given.
*If you were waiting for Tower Site
Calendar 2007 to go on clearance sale - sorry! As of June 1,
the shipping department (which would be Mrs. Fybush, with an
occasional assist from Ariel) informs us that the 2007 edition
is now SOLD OUT.
Many thanks to all of you who've supported the calendar over
the past six years, and stay tuned for details on the even better
Tower Site Calendar 2008, for which ordering will begin
later this summer. (You can be first on the list for the new
edition, which will be back from the printer in early August,
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2007 by Scott Fybush.