October 8, 2007
Pittsburgh's B Buzzes Again
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2008 - NOW AVAILABLE!!!
*Remember the TV show "Quantum Leap,"
wherein a scientist named Sam Beckett was sent traveling through
time and space, "striving to put right what once went wrong"?
It's increasingly looking as though CBS Radio chief Dan Mason
is trying to be the industry's Sam Beckett, returning WCBS-FM
and K-Rock to New York, KFRC to San Francisco, WYSP to Philadelphia,
and now the legendary B94 to western PENNSYLVANIA.
as the buzz (no pun intended) on the message boards was speculating,
the Christmas-music stunting at the former "Man Talk"
WTZN (93.7 Pittsburgh) came to an abrupt end at 5 o'clock Friday
afternoon, when the station launched into a retrospective of
its 23 years as WBZZ, returning to its former top-40 format with
Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback" as its first song.
(Former B94 PD Clarke Ingram noted - within minutes, no less
- that there were a couple of inaccuracies in the B94 retrospective:
the station had signed on April 2, 1981, not April 1, and its
first song in the new format was actually Billy Joel's "It's
Still Rock and Roll to Me," not "You May Be Right.")
Those technicalities aside, CBS is embarking on a format war
with Clear Channel, whose "Kiss" WKST-FM (96.1 Pittsburgh)
has owned the top-40 category in the Steel City for the last
few years. The move also raises questions about the future of
CBS' hot AC entry, "Star 100.7" (WZPT New Kensington)
- is a format change for that station in the offing, too?
No airstaff has been announced yet for the revived B94, though
we're hearing a lot of rumors that the John, Dave, Bubba and
Shelly morning show is likely to make a return. There's also
no word about new calls. (The WBZZ calls are tied up in the Albany
market these days, and for now the revived B is still legally
*There's a new midday jock on Greater Media's adult hits WBEN-FM
(95.7 Philadelphia): Joey Fortman heads for Philly from Chicago,
where she was doing mornings at WRZA ("Nine-FM").
A central Pennsylvania traffic reporter died far too young
last week. Doug Patton was just 45 when he succumbed to an apparent
heart attack last Wednesday (Oct. 3); he was assistant operations
director at the Traffax traffic service, where he delivered traffic
reports on stations that included WIOV-FM (105.1 Ephrata), WQXA-FM
(105.7 York) and WGTY (107.7 Gettysburg).
And just over the state line from the Erie market, we note
the format change that's turning top 40 WZOO-FM (102.5 Edgewood
OH) into "Magic Oldies" today - and we note both the
current owner's connection to the Jamestown, New York market
(WZOO, and the rest of the former Clear Channel Ashtabula cluster,
is now owned by Tom Embrescia's Sweet Home Ashtabula, which has
familal connections to the Media One stations in Jamestown) and
the station's history: WZOO was put on the air in 1989 by John
Bulmer, who also owned stations in Vermont and Dunkirk, New York,
and who's now enjoying retirement in Florida.
IT'S THE 2008 TOWER SITE CALENDAR!
Think the arrival of the new
phone book is an exciting time of year? (We do, actually, with
apologies to Steve Martin, but that's not the point.)
Here's a really exciting spot
on the calendar - in fact, it is the calendar. Yes, the
2008 Tower Site
Calendar is back from the printer and ready for shipping
all over the US and beyond.
This year's edition is a particularly
fine one, if we do say so ourselves. From the cover photo of
KAST in Astoria, Oregon to the back cover shot of the Blaw-Knox
diamond tower at WBNS in Columbus, this year's calendar features
14 all-new full-color shots of famous broadcast sites far and
wide. There's KROQ in Los Angeles, KFBK in Sacramento, WESX in
Salem, WGAN in Portland, Black Mountain in Vegas, Mount Spokane
in Spokane, and many (ok, several) more.
If you've been following our
adventures, you know that the 2006 and 2007 editions of the calendar
sold out. If you've been following postal rates and the cost
of printing, you know they've both gone up.
Even so, we still think this
year's edition is a bargain - just $18 with shipping and
Or better yet, beat our move
to mandatory subscriptions (also coming later this fall) and
get a free calendar with your $60 subscription to NERW for 2008.
(Remember, the proceeds from both the calendar and the subscriptions
help keep NERW right here on the web, as we head into our fourteenth
year of news and analysis.)
right here and you can be one of the first to have
your very own Tower Site Calendar 2008! (And thank you!)
*There are some big programming changes today
at NEW YORK's WOR (710) - but no, not the rumored return
of Don Imus to the city's airwaves. (That sounds like it's going
to happen up the dial on WABC, not that we have any inside information
beyond what's already been all over the gossip columns.)
at 111 Broadway, WOR has pulled the plug on Ellis Henican and
Lynne White's 4-6 PM "Hennican and White" talk show,
moving former WABC host Steve Malzberg into that time slot from
his previous 9-11 PM spot. Bill O'Reilly's newly-renewed syndicated
show moves from 2 PM tape delay to a noon live clearance, with
Dennis Miller filling the 2-4 PM slot. Michael Savage stays in
place from 6-9 PM, with Dr. Joy Browne getting displaced from
noon to Malzberg's former 9-11 PM clearance.
The Hennican and White show had been in syndication through
the WOR Radio Network, with a handful of affiliates that included
Buckley sister station WFBL (1390 Syracuse) and suburban Boston
talker WNSH (1570 Beverly); it's still listed on the network
website, but we suspect it won't remain there for long.
Getting back to WABC, it was one of the Citadel AM stations
that abruptly shut off its nighttime HD Radio signal last week
at the direction of corporate management. There's not much we
can add to the extensive coverage this story has already received
all over the national trade press, except to note that Citadel's
not the only big AM operator hearing about interference issues
from AM IBOC. We'll have more to report in upcoming issues of
NERW about the battle Bob Savage, owner of WYSL (1040 Avon),
is waging against what he says is destructive interference within
his nighttime interference-free contour coming from CBS Radio's
WBZ (1030 Boston)...stay tuned!
On the public radio side of things, WNYC has confirmed the
host lineup for the new morning show that it's launching next
year, in collaboration with Public Radio International, the BBC,
Boston's WGBH and the New York Times. The as-yet-unnamed
show will bring John Hockenberry back to public radio after a
decade and a half in television, pairing him with former Court
TV anchor Adaora Udoji. WNYC isn't yet saying exactly when or
where the new show will air; we'd bet that it will displace NPR's
"Morning Edition" from the AM 820 side of the current
morning simulcast there, but not from FM 93.9.
Out on Long Island, Stu Henry once again has a deal to sell
WLIE (540 Islip). After the collapse of a proposed sale to Business
Talk Radio, the station has been in an LMA with Principle Broadcasting
Network, the Charlie Banta-backed company that runs Spanish-language
religion on WDJZ (1530 Bridgeport) across Long Island Sound and
on WESX (1230 Salem) and WJDA (1300 Quincy) up in Massachusetts.
(The sale is going through despite the recent death of Principle
head Otto Miller; Banta tells the trades that he's committed
to the ethnic radio business and plans to keep growing Principle.)
A tower move here in NERW's home market: the University of
Rochester's WRUR-FM (88.5 Rochester) is now broadcasting from
the WXXI tower on Pinnacle Hill, having moved its antenna a week
ago from the Hyatt Hotel downtown, where it had been located
since 1994. WRUR, which is operated by WXXI in cooperation with
the university, is still a class A facility at its new site (3
kW/109 meters, from 3 kW/106 meters at the Hyatt), but it has
a pending application to upgrade to class B1, with 18 kW and
a directional antenna from Pinnacle.
A few calendar notes from upstate: at the Turning Stone casino
between Syracuse and Utica, the annual SBE Chapter 22 Broadcast
and Technology Expo will once again take center stage October
16-17, with a full day of educational presentations on the 16th
(including a tower-photo slide show from yours truly), followed
by more presentations and the ever-growing show floor on the
17th. Register for free at sbe22expo.org
- and we'll see you there! Just a few days later, the far-flung
community of broadcasters with Binghamton roots will return home
for the biennial Binghamton Broadcasters Reunion. In the unlikely
event that you're not already on Ray Ross' mailing list for this
ever-growing event, drop him a line at rayross at yahoo dot com
and join the fun! (Yes, we'll be there, too, tenuous though our
Binghamton radio connections may be...)
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*In southern CONNECTICUT, a fire knocked
WLIS (1420 Old Saybrook) off the air Sept. 25, melting the station's
Harris SX5 transmitter (which is also apparently where the fire
started.) The good news is that the damage was confined to the
transmitter room, and programming continues on simulcast signal
WMRD (1150 Middletown). WLIS hopes to be back on the air with
its own signal later this week. (Want to see more? They've posted
a video of the
aftermath on YouTube!)
A few bits of happier Nutmeg State news: Jeff Hugabonne checks
in from WTIC-FM (96.5 Hartford) to report that the station has
installed a new transmitter and is once again cranking out its
maximum power. And over at WILI (1400 Willimantic), last Friday
was the station's 50th anniversary, celebrated on air with a
special edition of Wayne Norman's morning show.
*There's finally a fulltime CW affiliate
in VERMONT: Fox affiliate WFFF (Channel 44) in Burlington
has turned on a subchannel on WFFF-DT (Channel 43), providing
an over-the-air signal for "CW Burlington," which is
also seen on most area cable systems on channel 20, replacing
New York's WPIX there. The September 27 launch of the CW subchannel
clears the CW programming out of WFFF's 10 PM-midnight timeslot,
which makes way for the upcoming launch of a 10 PM newscast on
*Over at religious WMSJ (89.3 Freeport, MAINE),
Kenny Robinson is the new PD/morning host. He's a refugee from
Miami, where he was morning man and production director at WMCU,
the former contemporary Christian outlet that's being sold to
American Public Media to become a classical station.
*Is there enough radio in CANADA's
capital city yet? Apparently not, to judge by the 11 applications
on deck for a December 3 CRTC hearing to consider the possibility
of new signals in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.
There are really only two frequencies involved in this pile
of applications: 99.7, where tourist information station CIIO
now operates as an unprotected low-power service, and either
101.7 or 101.9.
On the 99.7 front, applicants include CIIO itself (to boost
power and become a protected service, arguing that it's now the
city of Ottawa's official emergency information station); Christian
Hit Radio Inc., which wants to add a religious station to its
contemporary Christian CHRI on 99.1; Ottawa Media Inc., for a
AAA format; and Mark Maheu, for a pop station. (This is also
the frequency on which Hamilton's CIWV has applied for an Ottawa
On 101.7, there's Radio de la communaute francophone d'Ottawa,
for a French community station; while on 101.9, there's Reel-Radio,
for a French campus station; Fiston Kalambay Mutombo, for a French
Christian station; Instant Information Services, for a French-language
tourist station to complement CIIO; Corus, for an English-language
news-talk station; Astral Media, for a "soft adult"
format; and Frank Torres, for an all-blues station.
Would the grant of a 101.7 - or even a 101.9 - wreak havoc
with the attempts of WRCD (101.5 Canton NY) to play in the Ottawa
market from across the border? And will CJSS (101.9 Cornwall)
object to a co-channel signal just up the road in Ottawa? Stay
Also on the docket
at the CRTC's December hearing is yet another AM-to-FM application,
this time for one of the biggest AM signals in Quebec.
CHNC (610 New Carlisle) covers a vast expanse of the Gaspe
peninsula and adjoining portions of New Brunswick, Labrador and
beyond with its 10 kW signal, augmented by simulcaster CHGM (1150
Gaspe), but it hopes to trade that big AM coverage for a network
of no fewer than five FM transmitters: 107.1 in New Carlisle,
with 6 kW DA/169 m; 99.3 in Gaspe, with 468 watts DA/73 m; and
relays on 99.1 in Carleton, 98.3 in Chandler and 107.3 in Perce.
The CRTC notes that it has some issues to discuss with CHNC's
licensee, Radio CHNC ltee, including "the station's continued
non-compliance with the requirements of the Radio Regulations."
Radio du Golfe Inc. will also be appearing at the December
hearing for its application to operate a new French hits/talk
station on 92.7 in Gaspe and Riviere-au-Renard.
Near the Maine border, Radio-Canada is moving new CBAF-FM-1
(107.5 Bon Accord) to 91.7. The frequency change, approved last
week by the CRTC, will clear up a conflict with the FCC, which
objected to the March grant of the new Bon Accord signal. The
frequency change also comes with a slight power decrease, from
the initially-authorized 26.9 kW to 24.4 kW.
On the other side of New Brunswick, Miramichi Fellowship Center
has been granted a frequency change for its CJFY (107.5 Blackville),
which will move to 107.7 to alleviate interference with CJSE-FM-2
in Baie Sainte-Anne.
And the CBC wants to strengthen its signal in Brockville,
Ontario, where it says the existing Radio One service from CBO
(91.5 Ottawa) and CBCK (107.5 Kingston) isn't quite strong enough.
It's applying to add a new transmitter at Brockville on 106.5,
with 3 kW/100 meters.
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 9, 2006 -
- The lines between the Philadelphia, PENNSYLVANIA radio market
and adjacent Wilmington, Delaware are already blurred - and now
they're about to get even more smudged, as Beasley Broadcasting
prepares to pay $42 million to acquire WJBR (99.5 Wilmington)
from NextMedia. The AC station transmits from just a few yards
south of the state line (atop the tiny little rise of land that
is Delaware's highest point), and it already puts a substantial
signal over much of the Philadelphia market. But until now, it
(along with Wilmington's other big FM signal, Delmarva Broadcasting's
WSTW 93.7) has remained resolutely focused on Wilmington-area
listeners. But as it joins a Beasley cluster that also includes
country WXTU (92.5 Philadelphia), "Wired" WRDW (96.5
Philadelphia) and business talker WWDB (860 Philadelphia), it
seems likely that WJBR will begin to market itself more toward
its large neighbor to the northeast. (An actual transmitter move
is somewhat less likely, though far from impossible; while WJBR's
short-spacings to third-adjacent WUSL on 98.9 in Philadelphia
and to second-adjacent WODE on 99.9 in Easton are grandfathered,
there are newer drop-in signals on the Jersey Shore that would
need to be protected.)
- In CONNECTICUT, WTIC (1080 Hartford) is reshaping its afternoon
programming, sending Bruce Stevens packing after 13 years in
the timeslot, the last 10 alongside Colin McEnroe, who's now
doing afternoons solo at the CBS Radio news-talker. Stevens tells
the Hartford Courant that the station didn't renew his contract
when it was up; that he found out on the way back from his daughter's
wedding in Maine - and that he hopes to stay in the business
full-time. (He's still heard on the weekends on Greater Media
talker WTKK 96.9 in Boston.)
- The year-long tribute to Reginald Fessenden's pioneering
1906 broadcasts from Brant Rock in Marshfield continued on Saturday,
when South Shore radio and history buffs gathered at the Winslow
House in Marshfield for a daylong symposium on early radio history.
Your editor was honored to be a participant in the gathering,
showing off some of the photos I've taken over the years in historic
radio facilities around the country. Nick Mills of Boston University
presented an overview of the early years of radio, and Donna
Halper of Emerson College (and a longtime Friend of NERW) spoke
on Eunice Randall's early radio career, the story of 1XE/WGI
in Medford Hillside, and the question of whether Fessenden's
1906 broadcasts really included the Christmas Eve event that's
gone down in history as the legendary "first broadcast ever."
A representative from the Canadian consulate in Boston saluted
Fessenden's early years north of the border, and Ed Perry of
WATD (95.9 Marshfield) was there to pull it all together. He's
gearing up for more Fessenden events, including a Christmas Eve
(day) re-enactment of the 1906 event.
- One call change in an otherwise slow week in the Empire State:
the silent 105.7 Albany move-in flips from WNYQ to WBZZ, reinforcing
the idea that it will take on the "Buzz" modern AC
format now on WABT (104.5 Mechanicville) whenever it finally
gets back on the air after moving south from Glens Falls.
October 8, 2002 -
- It's been two months since J.R. Gach was last heard on the
air in NEW YORK's Capital District, and almost every day has
brought e-mail from listeners wondering why the WGY (810 Schenectady)
afternoon talk host suddenly disappeared without any notice to
his fans. Thanks to the Albany Times Union and Mark McGuire (probably
the best daily newspaper reporter covering broadcasting in the
northeast right now), we have some answers to offer. Gach was
diagnosed with bipolar II mental disorder, which his wife Suzie
blames for the outbursts that marked his show's final months
on the air at WGY. In a lengthy narrative given to the paper,
Suzie Gach says J.R. suffered a breakdown in mid-August while
returning home from a weeklong vacation.
- While Suzie Gach filled in on J.R.'s shift (she was eventually
replaced on-air by Ed Martin, who continues to occupy the time
slot), J.R. was undergoing inpatient, then outpatient treatment
at a rehab center in Saratoga Springs. Gach is now back home,
and it's unclear whether or not he'll ever return to WGY's airwaves.
Suzie Gach tells McGuire that her husband's personality has changed
since beginning treatment (he's now going by "Jay"
instead of "J.R."), while WGY management declined to
comment specifically. We'll keep you posted here at NERW as we
hear more, and we'll be keeping the Gaches in our thoughts.
- The FCC was busy in PENNSYLVANIA over the summer. The Commission
handed out several Notices of Apparent Liability during August:
$7000 to WGET (1320 Gettysburg) for failure to properly fence
its towers, and $20,000 to WFBS (1280 Berwick) for failure to
mark and light its towers and unspecified equipment problems.
(The FCC also cited KFNX in Cave Creek, Arizona, a sister station
to WALE 990 in Greenville, RHODE ISLAND, for failure to power
down at night. NERW wonders why WALE itself has escaped the FCC's
notice, and we note that the bankruptcy filing by WALE/KFNX owner
Francis Battaglia doesn't make the NAL go away....)
- On a happier note, WFBS is adding a weekend show from Philadelphia's
"Geator," Jerry Blavat, to its schedule. Blavat was
in negotiations to do a weekend show on the big signal of Philly's
WPHT (1210) as well, but the two sides couldn't come to terms
over a playlist (or lack thereof), we're told.
- There's a new format in NEW JERSEY, as Press Broadcasting
takes over at WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton). The southern Ocean County
station is doing a very soft AC format as "The Breeze,"
after several days of stunting with songs that all mentioned
wind and weather.
October 9, 1997-
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- We'll begin this week in upstate NEW YORK, where an unlikely
pair of radio personalities have taken their dislike of each
other to the airwaves. We told you in last week's NERW about
the dismissal of WCMF (96.5 Rochester) personalities Rich ("the
Bull") Gaenzler and Beth Donohue, along with night jock
Zak Wood from sister station WRMM (101.3, and not "WRRM"
as the local paper reported). Just hours after Donohue was fired,
she turned up across town on Jacor-owned talker WHAM (1180),
joining midday talk host Bob Lonsberry to vent her frustration
- That was just the start of the feud, as Lonsberry kept up
a running stream of commentary and calls on the state of WCMF,
once the city's lone progressive rocker, and now one of several
rock stations vying for Flower City listeners. One WCMF listener
who had participated in the station's focus group the night before
the firings called in to the Lonsberry show to talk about what
he'd heard. That, coupled with Lonsberry's assertion that veteran
WCMF morning jock "Brother Wease" is sounding tired
and old, was enough to get Wease back in the station for a rare
afternoon appearance, as he turned WCMF into a talk station to
sound off against Lonsberry, who then devoted much of Wednesday's
show to the issue, even inviting WCMF advertisers to jump ship
to WHAM or its sister stations (including modern-rock competitor
WNVE). It's unusual (except on WJIB/WJTO's "Let's Talk About
Radio") to hear the nuts and bolts of the business -- ratings,
demographics, music tests -- discussed on the air with as much
passion as we've seen this week. We'll keep you posted on the
- From NEW HAMPSHIRE, one that we neglected to mention last
week: Manchester's WKBR (1250) has dropped its simulcast of co-owned
AAA WXRV (92.5 Haverhill, Mass.) and is now running the One-on-One
sports network. Also in Manchester, there's word that Notre Dame
College's WRND (91.7) has left the air for good...we'll keep
you posted on that one.
- And in CONNECTICUT, the program lineup at Hartford's WTIC
(1080) is being reshuffled to bring Colin McEnroe back to the
weekday lineup after a one-year absence. McEnroe joins the Bruce
Stevens show, which will now begin at 3 PM, replacing the last
hour of Dr. Laura Schlessinger. He'll drop his daily commentaries
and Sunday night talk show on the (soon to be) CBS talker.
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2007 by Scott Fybush.