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July 23, 2007

Galaxy-CC Deal Rocks Utica/Rome


*The upstate NEW YORK market of Utica/Rome has been a problem for Clear Channel ever since the company announced it was shedding most of its smaller-market stations. With a cluster that exceeds current market caps, in an over-radioed market that's at best stagnant, the group of four AMs and five FMs wasn't included in the list of stations Clear Channel is selling to the Goodradio.TV group (which isn't "Goodradio.TV" anymore, but we'll get to that later in this week's issue), and for a while it looked as though the company simply wasn't finding a willing buyer for the stations.

That changed on Thursday, when Ed Levine's Galaxy Communications announced a deal under which it will buy the Clear Channel cluster, spinning off four of the CC stations to another local broadcaster, Ken Roser, and one of the CC stations and one of Galaxy's existing Utica stations to EMF Broadcasting.

Here's the way the market looks now:

 Clear Channel





 WIXT 1230/WRNY 1350/WADR 1480/WUTQ 1550 (sports)

WOKR 93.5 (cl hits)

WOUR 96.9 (rock)

WSKS 97.9/WSKU 105.5 (top 40)

WUMX 102.5 (hot AC)

 WTLB 1310 (standards)

WKLL 94.9 (modern rock)

WRCK 107.3 (classic rock)

 WBGK 99.7 (country)

 WKVU 100.7 (K-Love)

 WIBX 950 (news-talk)

WODZ 96.1 (oldies)

WLZW 98.7 (ac)

WFRG 104.3 (country)

And here's how it will look when all the deals close:






WOKR 93.5

WKVU 100.7

WRCK 107.3

 WTLB 1310/WRNY 1350/WIXT 1230 (sports)

WKLL 94.9 (modern rock)

WOUR 96.9 (rock)

WUMX 102.5 (hot AC)

 WSKS 97.9/WSKU 105.5 (top 40)

WBGK 99.7 (country)

 WIBX 950 (news-talk)

WODZ 96.1 (oldies)

WLZW 98.7 (ac)

WFRG 104.3 (country)

So what does it all mean? For Levine, who just exited the Albany market with a sale of two stations (plus a Syracuse rimshot FM) to EMF, it means a much stronger position in a Utica/Rome market that's suddenly far less crowded. Galaxy's two rock FMs, modern rock "K-Rock" WKLL and classic rock-leaning WRCK, had been locked in a tight battle with Clear Channel's rock WOUR and classic hits "River" WOKR. Levine tells NERW that WOUR's strong brand and long rock history in the market persuaded him to keep the competitor he's acquiring, while shutting down his own WRCK (and taking it out of commercial competition by selling it to EMF.)

Levine says he'll combine the existing "Sports Stars" programming from the two AMs he's acquiring (WIXT 1230 Little Falls and WRNY 1350 Rome) with the Syracuse University sports package Galaxy recently landed and with the strong signal of his existing WTLB 1310 Utica to create a new three-station sports network with a much more potent reach than the existing "Sports Starts" quad-cast, and he says no changes are planned right now for "Mix" WUMX.

For Ken Roser, the deal represents a homecoming: he'd owned 97.9 and 105.5, then "Wow FM" WOWZ/WOWB, before selling them to Clear Channel in 2002. Back then, Clear Channel paid $2.15 million for the two FMs and the Little Falls AM on 1230 (then WLFH). While prices aren't being announced yet for the latest deal, it's a pretty solid bet that Roser is paying far less than that to buy back his old FMs, as well as daytimer WUTQ (1550 Utica) and WADR (1480 Remsen). We're hearing that Roser will keep the "Kiss" branding and top-40 format on the FMs, with no word on what becomes of the AMs. We also don't know yet whether Roser will end up with the Genesee Street studios downtown that Clear Channel has been using; (Those studios came along with Clear Channel's 1998 acquisition of WOUR and the rest of the then-Dame group; Galaxy will be moving WOUR out to its WTLB studio/transmitter facility in Washington Mills.)

For EMF, which has been growing with impressive speed across upstate New York, the deal will likely mean a move of its flagship "K-Love" contemporary Christian format from class A drop-in WKVU (100.7 Utica) to the massive class B WRCK signal on 107.3, transmitting from the market's main Smith Hill tower farm. (Only the true Utica radio geeks will recall that 107.3's origins, way back in 1962, were as standalone FM'er WUFM - and that WOUR, for that matter, began as a relay of Syracuse standalone classical station WONO.) That, in turn, means 100.7 will probably flip to EMF's second network, Christian rock "Air One." What about WOKR, the 93.5 rimshot signal from Remsen, north of Utica? It's never reached Utica well, and would probably end up as another Air One relay if EMF keeps it at all.

As for personnel changes, new calls and all that...we'll keep you posted as it all develops. (Staffing levels at both Clear Channel and Galaxy in Utica are already pretty light - WRCK and WOUR both carry out-of-town morning shows, "Gomez and Dave" from WTKW in Syracuse and "Bob and Tom" from Indianapolis, respectively, while WOKR is largely voice-tracked - so the impact may not be that huge, even if there are some cuts.)


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*As for the "Goodradio.TV, LLC" group that was buying many of the other Clear Channel spinoffs, including the clusters in Binghamton and the Hudson Valley (as well as Williamsport, Lancaster and Reading in Pennsylvania; Burlington, Vermont; and Augusta and Bangor, Maine), it's switching management teams.

Former Pax TV executive Dean Goodman is out, and Connoisseur head honcho Jeff Warshaw is in as the new operator of the group. The behind-the-scenes financing from American Securities Capital Partners doesn't change, but the group's name will - when (and if?) it closes on the 187-station, $452 million deal, it will be under the name "Frequency License, LLC."

Where are they now? Former Binghamton PD Al Brock is looking for work; he's out as PD of Nashville's WRQQ (97.1) after some restructuring down there. Meanwhile in Cincinnati, former WHRL (103.1 Albany) PD Lisa Biello is the new afternoon jock and web content editor for Bonneville's WSWD (94.9 the Sound).

A quick construction update on the newest AM transmitter site in the state: the tower bases and guy-wire anchors are now in place at WHIC (1460 Rochester)'s new three-tower site in Henrietta. The transmitter building has a floor and walls, too - but no roof or doors just yet. (And while there's been nothing about WHIC's move in the local daily rag just yet, the weekly Henrietta Post did notice the move, which was mentioned in a short article last week.)

For now, WHIC remains on its STA setup a couple of miles to the north, at the WROC (950) site.

And a few quick notes about some changes at Rochester's public broadcaster: Mike Black joins WXXI (1370)/WRUR (88.5) in the newly-created role of "Radio Program Manager," overseeing WXXI's relationship with University of Rochester-owned WRUR and programming on both WRUR and WXXI(AM). Mike was general manager of WEOS (89.7 Geneva) at Hobart and William Smith Colleges for 19 years.

WXXI is also inagurating its HD Radio services August 1. The HD2 channel on WXXI-FM (91.5 Rochester) will carry a new lineup of news and talk programming, while the HD3 channel will rebroadcast AM 1370 to listeners who lose the station's directional signal at night. The new HD Radio services will be the topic of a special edition of "1370 Connection" at noon on AM 1370. (Full disclosure: your editor works at WXXI in the newsroom and as host of the weekly "Mixed Media" segment, and will be hosting that "1370 Connection" show as well.)

BEAT THE PASSWORD RUSH! We've been holding out against the inevitable for many years now, but the time has come. After six years of giving away NorthEast Radio Watch for free, and six more years of asking for voluntary subscriptions from our loyal readers, we can no longer deny reality: if NERW is to continue on as the authoritative source of Northeast radio and TV news that it's become, the burden has to be shared across all our readers, not just those who pay for it voluntarily. So this fall, current issues of NERW and most of the NERW archives from 2003 onward will become password-protected for access by paid subscribers only.

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If you're not already a NERW subscriber, now's the time to do something about it. By becoming a charter subscriber now, you'll get the benefit of our current low subscription rates, and you'll have no worries about waiting for a password when the changeover happens this fall. And did we mention that you'll be first in line for the Tower Site Calendar 2008, free to our premium subscribers?

We've tried for many years to hold off this financial reality, but it's become hard to ignore. Not long ago, our pal Dave Hughes put part of his excellent site behind a pay wall, and mandatory subscriptions are an established way of life at and, too, just to name a few. And even with a subscription model, we've just received word that the respected and venerable FMedia! newsletter has gone on what's likely a permanent hiatus.

We have every intention of keeping NERW going strong as we head for our 15th anniversary in 2009, and for many years thereafter, and we're deeply grateful to the many readers who've already come forward with their support in recent years, as well as to the advertisers who've learned how advertising on NERW can reach one of the best audiences in broadcasting at a very economical rate.

If you still haven't subscribed yet for 2007, do it right now at our Support page - and enjoy another exciting year of NERW, guilt-free. And if you have become one of our many subscribers, thank you!

*Veteran NEW HAMPSHIRE broadcaster Dick Osborne has been charged with soliciting prostitution as part of a sting by police in Kingston, N.H. Osborne was one of six men caught in the Wednesday sting, where police say he arrived in a car bearing the insignia of the New Hampshire Technical Institute, where he's the communications director. Osborne, 64, is also the play-by-play voice of University of New Hampshire hockey, as well as being the former owner of (and longtime staffer at) Concord's WKXL (1450). Osborne is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 27; it's not clear yet whether he'll be able to keep his NHTI or UNH jobs.

In happier news from the Granite State, there's a new FM signal on the air in the Littleton area. Steve Silberberg's WXRG (99.1 Whitefield) signed on last week with an adult hits/variety format as "Free 99.1 FM," broadcasting from the New Hampshire Public TV tower on Mann Hill just outside Littleton.

*A longtime MASSACHUSETTS broadcaster had a run-in with police as well - but it may end up with a police apology to Barry Scott when it's all over. Scott, whose "Lost 45s" airs on WODS (103.3 Boston), was DJing a party in Provincetown last weekend when police were called on a noise complaint. What happened next is in dispute - Scott says he made an announcement saying that "the Provincetown police have asked me to turn the music off, and they don't seem to like us very much, and at this point we don't like them very much." A police report on the incident quoted the remark as "The Provincetown Police are here to ruin our night. We hate them."

Scott says officers then shoved him into a wall, cutting his nose, leg and foot and brusing his toe - and he says his partner ended up driving him to a Boston emergency room after Provincetown police charged him with disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. (Scott also says police denied his partner needed medications and access to a bathroom; after spending almost four hours in a cell, Bryan Richardson was released without being charged.)

Lawyers for Scott are asking Provincetown officials to investigate possible civil-rights violations. Scott will be in court today in Orleans; we'll keep you posted on what happens.

Over at WFNX (101.7 Lynn), production director Jim Murray is taking an on-air role. Starting today, he'll take over afternoon drive from PD Keith Dakin. (Keith's a busy guy today, what with the launch of FNX's new "Sandbox" morning show and all...)

Just a week after announcing her departure from WCVB (Channel 5), Natalie Jacobson said her goodbyes last week, first in a special "Chronicle" on Tuesday night and then at the end of her final newscast Wednesday. "It is not easy to walk away from this," Jacobson said in her closing remarks. "But life moves on and I, like many of you, am ready for a new challenge."

That Jacobson is still saying little about what that new challenge might be (some sort of multimedia venture aimed at retirement-age baby boomers, apparently) reinforces our sense that the abrupt departure isn't as voluntary as Jacobson and the station are saying - especially when we look back at Jacobson comments in which she said she planned to be at WCVB for a while - "I do see myself staying here and yes I am happy here," was the exact quote to the Herald as recently as late March.

In any event, WCVB rounded up all the usual tributes - Red Sox management, Ted Kennedy, rival WBZ anchor Liz Walker - as well as a smallish batch of old clips for the "Chronicle" tribute, which had the feel of something hastily assembled, short of the tribute properly due to Jacobson, who truly paved the way for women in Boston television. After a remarkable 35-year run at one station, it's not hard to think that Jacobson deserved a bigger send-off.

*In all our coverage of the rebirth of WCBS-FM, we neglected to note another nice moment for fans of classic radio: the Radio Greats Weekend that just wrapped up over at NEW JERSEY's "Breeze" (WWZY 107.1 Long Branch/WBHX 99.7 Tuckerton). Not only did the weekend bring great voices like Herb Oscar Anderson, Harry Harrison, Ron Lundy and Dan Ingram back to the airwaves - it also marked a nice bit of cooperation, with former Breeze jock Bob Shannon coming back to the Shore to fulfill the committment he'd made to being there. That's class (on the part of his new employers at CBS-FM, too.)

One more note on the Radio Greats Weekend - it was apparently simulcast over sister oldies outlet WHTG (1410 Eatontown), to judge by the IDs we were hearing.

*In PENNSYLVANIA, the "Free Beer and Hot Wings" morning show disappeared from the airwaves for listeners around Philadelphia when WTHK (97.5 the Hawk) gave way to smooth jazz WJJZ (97.5 Burlington NJ) earlier this year. Now Greater Media is putting the Michigan-based show (also heard in the region on WWZZ 107.1 in the Easton area and WCHR-FM 105.7 at the Jersey Shore) back on the air in Philly, albeit at night. They'll be heard on tape delay from 10 PM until 1 AM Monday-Thursday on WMGK (102.9 Philadelphia) beginning July 30.

Back up in the Lehigh Valley, the morning team of "Ken and Kitty" (Ken Anderson and Kitty McVay) are coming home. They left WCTO (96.1 Easton) for Cincinnati in the fall of 2004, but now they're returning - this time to the morning slot on "Hawk" WODE (99.9 Easton).

*In CANADA, another AM station is heading for the FM dial, but not completely. The CRTC has granted Blackburn Radio's CHOK (1070 Sarnia ON) permission to add an FM relay, but not at the frequency it requested. CHOK wanted to put the 615-watt FM booster on 100.9 to alleviate what it says are reception problems in Sarnia caused by the area's petrochemical plants. The CRTC ruled that the CHOK booster wouldn't "utilize the full potential" of that class A channel, and ordered Blackburn to find a different frequency for the booster within 90 days.

Up north, JOCO Communications didn't win its bid for a new FM signal in Sudbury, but it is getting a new FM in Espanola, 50 miles or so to the west. Espanola once had an AM station, CKNS (930), that was eventually subsumed into CKNR-FM over in Elliot Lake. Its new FM station will operate on 99.3, with 794 watts, using a classic hits format.

(And speaking of CKNR on 94.1, it's applied for a booster to improve its signal in Elliot Lake proper, where it suffers some signal problems because of the 80 km distance from the 94.1 transmitter on Manitoulin Island to the town. If granted, the booster would run 50 watts on 98.7.

In Peterborough, the CRTC has granted religious CKKK (99.5) a move to 90.5, which comes with a power increase from 50 watts to 230 watts and a change in status from unprotected low-power to protected Class A1. The application from station owner King's Kids Promotions Outreach Ministries drew a complaint from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, complaining that it should have been part of a CRTC call for new applications because of the change to protected status. The CRTC disagreed, noting that the CKKK move is being forced by the grant of an AM-to-FM move for CHUM Ltd.'s CKPT (1420), which is going to 99.3.

Radio People on the Move (with thanks to Milkman UnLimited): Jeff Brown is leaving CHEZ (106.1 Ottawa), where he's been PD/afternoons, to take the PD chair at CJAQ (Jack 92.5) in Toronto. Heading in the other direction up the 416 is Shadoe Davis, who leaves CIKR (K-Rock 105.7) in Kingston to become a co-host of the morning show on CKQB (106.9 the Bear).

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!)

July 24, 2006 -

  • The Citadel corporate mandate to install the syndicated Opie & Anthony show at most of its rock stations nationwide landed especially hard in western NEW YORK this week. With only one logical place in the Buffalo market for the O&A show - modern rock "Edge" WEDG (103.3) - this morning's arrival of Opie & Anthony meant a big move for one of the Queen City's top-rated (and longest-running) morning shows.
  • After 11 years on WEDG (and its predecessor, WUFX, "the Fox"), Ted Shredd and Tom Ragan will move their "Shredd and Ragan" show to the 3-7 PM slot beginning this afternoon. The duo used their last morning show Friday to gamely promote the move, blowing up their alarm clocks on the air in a nice bit of radio theater.
  • In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Maritime Broadcasting System (MBS) launched the FM replacement for CHNS (960) at noon on Wednesday, pulling the plug on the oldies format heard on AM in favor of classic rock as "89.9 Hal FM. With the debut of the new format on CHNS-FM, the AM signal will go dark within 90 days.
  • Over on Prince Edward Island, we hear that Newcap has begun testing its second FM signal. In addition to new CHTN-FM (Ocean 100.3), "K-Rock 105.5" is now being heard, announcing calls CKQK. (There's still no timeline for MBS' CFCY 630 to complete its move to FM in Charlottetown, leaving PEI with no full-power AM signals.)
  • Returning to Nova Scotia, CFAB (1450 Windsor) has applied to make its own move to FM, with 100 kW DA/159 m on 92.9. The CFAB move to FM is just one of many on the agenda for a CRTC meeting September 11 in Quebec City; the bigger story, by far, is a set of four Corus applications to move its network of AM talk stations to the FM dial in most of Quebec.
  • Here's how those applications shake out: CJRC (1150 Gatineau-Ottawa), which has applied for FM moves in the past, would go to 104.7 (11 kW DA/95 m); CHLT (630 Sherbrooke) would move to 102.1 (23 kW DA/91 m); CHLN (550 Trois-Rivieres) would move to 106.9 (100 kW DA/87 m) and CKRS (590 Saguenay) would move to 98.3 (100 kW DA/148 m). If the moves are granted, the AM dial would become nearly silent in Sherbrooke (with only CKTS 900, the relay of Montreal's English talker CJAD, still standing) and Trois-Rivieres (which would have only CKSM 1220 Shawinigan, the relay of CHLN - unless it, too, goes silent during the conversion) - and it would be completely silent in Saguenay.
  • It's an old story being replayed in MASSACHUSETTS this week: talk show host uses "regrettable" language on the air, talk show host is suspended, station's call letters get lots of ink in the papers and lots of chatter on WGBH's Friday-night "Beat the Press" show. This time out, it was WRKO (680)'s John DePetro who used the "regrettable" language, twisting his colleague Howie Carr's "Fat Matt" nickname for Mass Pike chairman Matt Amorello into an anti-gay slur during his show on Tuesday. That earned DePetro two days off, with Brian Maloney filling in. DePetro returned to the air Friday, offering a general apology for his choice of words but no specific apology to Amorello, and that in turn got the whole thing another day in the media spin cycle.
  • On the TV front, Boston was the last major market without an affiliate for the new My Network TV, but that appears to have changed. WZMY (Channel 50), licensed to Derry, NEW HAMPSHIRE, will announce this week that it's joining the new network in September. The move takes away any possibility of a fight between WZMY, which began calling itself "My TV" in late 2005, and the new Fox-owned network over the "My" branding. It also means that previous reports that My Network TV would land on a digital subchannel of Fox-owned WFXT (Channel 25), with its prime-time shows being cleared on the main WFXT channel during the day, are now off the table.

July 22, 2002 -

  • Pittsburgh's public television station is about to get at least $20 million richer - but PENNSYLVANIA will lose its last public TV duopoly, thanks to an FCC decision last week that will allow channel 16 in the Steel City to be used for commercial broadcasting.
  • WQED (Channel 13) was among the first public television stations in the country when it signed on in the spring of 1954 (KUHT in Houston beat it on the air by more than a year, but WQED claims to be the first community-owned station, while KUHT was and is owned by the University of Houston); five years later, the station took an old black-and-white transmitter and added WQEX (Channel 16) to its lineup. Initially intended to provide in-school educational programming, WQEX eventually became an "alternative" public TV outlet. After going color in the eighties, WQEX operated for a time under completely separate program management from WQED, with a schedule that included classic TV reruns and PBS programs that weren't cleared on channel 13. By the late nineties, though, WQED became determined to sell WQEX, to help meet what the station said was a serious financial shortfall. In 1997, WQEX began simulcasting WQED - something WQED hoped would be a brief temporary move before selling the station completely.
  • One plan involved the fledgling Pax network, which lacked a Pittsburgh outlet. Pax planned to buy commercially-licensed WPCB (Channel 40) in Greensburg from religious broadcaster Cornerstone TeleVision, which would then purchase channel 16 from WQED and move the WPCB programming there. A brief gasp of courage from several FCC commissioners, questioning whether Cornerstone's programming met the qualifications for a noncommercial channel, quashed that deal (although the FCC later backtracked on the new rules that were briefly put forth), and WQED then asked the FCC to "de-reserve" channel 16, allowing it to be sold for full commercial use. That prompted a community outpouring of opposition, with several groups asking the FCC not to allow the de-reservation, under which WQED proposed to sell WQEX to ShootingStar, Inc., a new company formed by Diane Sutter, former general manager of WWSW (970/94.5) in Pittsburgh, for $20 million.
  • Last October, the FCC denied the request, but opened a Notice of Proposed Rule Making on the case. That NPRM was closed this week when the FCC ruled that the de-reservation can proceed. Most of the commissioners agreed with WQED's argument that it needs the money from the sale for DTV conversion (something the station hasn't done yet, while working its way through the WQEX sale) and an upgrade of the WQED facility in Pittsburgh's Oakland district. The ruling also acknowleged that Pittsburgh is under-served by television, with just seven commercial stations in the market (Viacom's KDKA and WNPA, Hearst-Argyle's WTAE, Cox's WPXI, Sinclair's WCWB and WPGH and Cornerstone's WPCB). Commissioner Michael Copps dissented, calling public television stations the "gems" of the television system, and noting that once a station is de-reserved, it's gone for good. No word yet on when WQEX's simulcast of WQED might be replaced by commercial programming (from Pax, perhaps?) - stay tuned!
  • We'll start our NEW YORK report right here in Rochester, where WBBF (950 Rochester) broke out of its simulcast with oldies WBBF-FM (93.3 Fairport) Friday evening just after 6, switching to a short playlist of songs drawn from WBBF-FM and its Entercom sister stations, classic hits WBZA (98.9) and country WBEE-FM (92.5) - with announcements proclaiming the station to be "News Talk 950." (All of the music in the rotation, by the way, had either "News," "Talk," "Sports," "Business" or "Weather" in the title or the name of the artist...) The 1000-watt signal on 950 covers Monroe County quite well (in its heritage top-40 days, it was regularly the number-one station in town by wide margins), but it's a far cry from the market's dominant news-talker, Clear Channel's clear channel WHAM (1180). Expect to hear Bill O'Reilly on 950 - and we hear rumors about Dr. Joy Browne, Sean Hannity, Tom Leykis, some sports coverage and perhaps a local morning show.
  • Down in New York City, WOR (710) has signed on to test Ibiquity's "in-band, on-channel" (IBOC) digital system. While WOR is making the right noises publicly about staying in the forefront of broadcast technology, behind the scenes it's clear that this will be a critical test of the controversial IBOC system - largely because "IBOC" is a misnomer. Ibiquity's system sends considerable signal out on the adjacent AM channels as well, and we expect WOR's neighbors WLW (700 Cincinnati) and WGN (720 Chicago) to be watching this test very closely to see what the system really does at night when the skywave kicks up. (It's yet to be approved for nighttime use, and many engineers are skeptical, at least in private, that it will really work in the after-dark RF environment.)

July 24, 1997-

  • We begin this week's edition with some sad news from CONNECTICUT. Veteran newsman Walt Dibble died on Monday at age 67. Dibble had worked in Connecicut radio for 49 years, the last 20 of them at WTIC in Hartford. Dibble's career began in 1948 at Stamford's WSTC (1400), and included stints at WICC (600) in Bridgeport and WAVZ (1300) in New Haven, as well as a lengthy stay at Hartford's WDRC (1360/102.9). Dibble came to WTIC as news director in 1977, replacing NBC's hourly news with local news at the top and bottom of the hour. Dibble won a national award from the RTNDA for his investigative reporting, as well as awards from Ohio State University in 1981 and from the Connecticut AP Broadcasters Association (the Abrams award for excellence in radio journalism) in 1995.
  • Radio reporters all over New England knew Dibble as someone who was always willing to provide news sound out of Hartford, and to lend advice and job tips to those new to the business. In addition to his work at WTIC, Dibble was also an instructor at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and at Southern Connecticut State University. Dibble had been battling leukemia for some time before his death, and had just returned to work at WTIC (although not yet to the air) when he died. He's survived by three sons (including Fox sportscaster and former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Rob Dibble) and three daughters, and by his wife, Barbara. In this era of shuttered radio newsrooms, Walt Dibble was one of the few remaining giants in the business. He will be sorely missed.
  • Plenty of news in MASSACHUSETTS this week, beginning with the sale of Webster's WGFP (940; talk) and WXXW (98.9; oldies and talk). Owner Alan Okun died earlier this year, and his estate has now sold the station to Bengal Atlantic Communications LLC. No word on how much they're paying for the southern Worcester county outlets. We know more this week about the fate of Salem's WPZE (1260) in Boston. Contrary to the initial reports, it seems WPZE will go to a company called Craven and Thompson Communications out of Philadelphia. We don't know much about them, and there's no evidence (at least in the FCC FM database) of any other station ownership by them. Up in the Haverhill area, there's a pirate on 88.7 that's causing trouble for some listeners to WFCR (88.5) Amherst's new improved signal.
  • And our best wishes go out to Kirby Perkins, veteran political reporter at Boston's WCVB-TV (Channel 5), who suffered a massive heart attack while playing tennis on Monday and is now in a coma. Perkins is married to Emily Rooney, the WGBH-TV "Greater Boston" anchor/producer who's also a former WCVB news director and ABC "World News Tonight" executive producer. (Editor's note: We are saddened to learn that Kirby Perkins died late Thursday night after three days in coma. He is survived by his wife and only daughter.)

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