April 7, 2008
CBS Cutbacks Hit Local TV Staffs
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2008 - NOW AVAILABLE!!!
*If you still believe there's such a thing
as a safe job in broadcasting these days, we'd sure like to know
about it. The latest evidence that times are hard - not that
we really needed any further evidence - comes from CBS' local
television stations, which went through a painful round of staffing
cuts last week everywhere from Los Angeles to Boston.
The cuts were especially severe at Boston's WBZ-TV (Channel
4)/WSBK (Channel 38), where initial reports indicated that as
many as 30 staffers lost their jobs. We still haven't been able
to confirm that number (and the company's not saying), but there's
no question there were significant cutbacks on the TV side at
Soldiers Field Road.
The most prominent
cutbacks involve three veteran on-air personalities: sports director
Bob Lobel, arts correspondent Joyce Kulhawik and sportscaster-turned-news
anchor Scott Wahle.
Lobel has been with WBZ since 1979, Kulhawik since 1981 and
Wahle since 1989, most recently as co-anchor of the 9 PM newscast
on WSBK. The station isn't saying how much longer any of the
departing air talent will remain, but it sounds as though they'll
be gradually eased out as their contracts are bought out, with
Steve Burton likely to replace Lobel as sports director.
Behind the scenes, many of the dismissed employees didn't
get the same luxury, with some being escorted out the door as
soon as the news was announced. The list of job cuts included
veteran engineer Fred Boudreau, commercial producer Roger Lyons,
writer Casey Sherman and managing editor David Kaplar.
*In other news, Clear Channel has flipped its Worcester translator,
W235AV (94.9 Tatnuck) from relaying WJMN (94.5 Boston) to relaying
WTAG (580 Worcester). The move gives WTAG some new coverage at
Boston Radio Watch
reports former WZLX (100.7 Boston) morning man Steve Sweeney
will be returning to the airwaves next week. The comedian will
be heard weekdays from 9-10 AM on WWZN (1510 Boston).
Springfield's new Fox affiliate launched on schedule last
Monday morning at 5. "Fox 6 Springfield" operates as
a subchannel of WGGB-DT (Channel 55), replacing Hartford's WTIC-TV
(Channel 61) on western Massachusetts cable systems, where it's
seen on channel 6 on Comcast systems and channel 10 on Charter
systems. (WTIC remains available in Comcast areas on a higher
The promised WGGB-produced 10 PM newscast won't debut until
the middle of this month, but there is some new-to-the-market
programming on Fox 6 - it's also a secondary My Network TV affiliate,
carrying My programming from 11:30 PM-1:30 AM weeknights.
GETCHER 2008 TOWER SITE CALENDAR
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The 2008 Tower
Site Calendar is dedicated to the memory of Robert Eiselen (1934-2007),
whose digital imaging skills made even a bunch of pictures of
radio towers look almost like art. His contributions were essential
to the calendar's evolution from 2003 to the current edition,
and he will be missed dearly.
*The CBS cutbacks hit NEW YORK's WCBS-TV
(Channel 2) hard as well. Reporters Scott Weinberger and Andrew
Kirtzman lost their jobs in front of the cameras, and there were
job losses behind the scenes as well.
There's a lineup change to report at WWRL (1600 New York),
as the Access.1-owned talker pulls more Air America programming
off its schedule. Instead of Air America's Lionel from 9 AM-noon,
WWRL now carries two hours of infomercials followed by a local
show at 11 with Ron Samuels. At noon, Air America's Thom Hartmann
is out, replaced by Ed Schultz, and the Al Sharpton show (on
tape delay) replaces Air America's "Clout!" from 8-10
PM. ("Clout!" gets moved to a 4-6 AM taped replay.)
That leaves Randi Rhodes (3-6 PM) and Rachel Maddow (6-8 PM)
as the only live Air America clearances on WWRL - except that
Rhodes is now under suspension by Air America management after
making some intemperate comments about Hillary Clinton during
a live appearance for the network's San Francisco affiliate last
WAXQ (104.3) morning host who made a brief splash in the market
a decade ago has died. Darian O'Toole (real name Karen Begin)
came to the US from Nova Scotia, working first in Atlantic City
and then at WMMR in Philadelphia before heading west to San Francisco,
where she spent most of her radio career.
In late 1997, fresh off a format change that ended her run
in morning drive at KBGG-FM (98.1) in San Francisco, O'Toole
came to Q104 for what proved to be an unsuccessful stint in morning
drive that lasted only nine months. O'Toole eventually returned
to San Francisco, where she was last heard on "Free FM"
In recent years, O'Toole had been struggling with health problems.
She died last Monday (March 31) of complications from a broken
leg, at the age of 40.
On the TV side in New York, there's a new news director and
a new image for WNBC (Channel 4), which has been lagging in the
ratings in recent books. Vickie Burns moves north from NBC O&O
WRC (Channel 4) in Washington to take the helm at the former
"NBC 4HD," which has now returned to an older brand,
"News 4 New York." Burns replaces Dan Forman at 30
Over at Fox's WNYW (Channel 5), Dianne Doctor is reportedly
inbound as news director, rejoining GM Lew Leone, who was her
boss at WCBS-TV a few years back. WNYW news director Scott Matthews
left a few months ago to join CNN.
A format change
in Syracuse today wasn't much of a secret - CNYRadio.com
broke the story last week that Buckley is shuffling formats on
its three-station cluster in the Salt City. The simulcast of
WSEN-FM (92.1 Baldwinsville) and WSEN (1050 Baldwinsville) will
shift from its present oldies format, heavy on 60s and 70s tunes,
to a classic hits format that's focused on the 70s and 80s. Fans
of the Beatles and Beach Boys won't be disenfranchised, though
- Buckley will flip its other AM, WFBL (1390 Syracuse), from
talk to 50s and 60s oldies this morning.
WFBL has failed to catch ratings fire through several incarnations
of the talk format. Most recently, it's carried a lineup of shows
from Buckley's WOR Radio Network, plus Bob and Sheri (more commonly
heard on FM AC stations) in morning drive and TRN's Michael Savage
at night. Savage already has a new home in Syracuse - he moves
to the 10 PM-1 AM slot on Clear Channel's WSYR (570 Syracuse)
last filled by Mike McConnell. (The station has been rerunning
Glenn Beck's morning show in that slot as a temporary measure.)
existing WSEN airstaff stays in place, and WFBL will have local
jocks as well. Bob Brown will do a local morning show on 1390,
followed by voicetracked shifts from WSEN air talent: John Carucci
in middays, with a live noon request hour, Gary Dunes in afternoon
drive and Diane Wade at night. (Lots of jingles and reverb, too!)
The Don and Mike Show is a Washington institution, but it
never managed to attract much of an affiliate base in NERW-land.
One prominent exception is Rochester's WHTK (1280), where the
DC duo have had a solid following over the years. Will that loyalty
survive the departure of co-host Don Geronimo? Geronimo (real
name Mike Sorce) had been talking about leaving the show ever
since the death of his wife, Freda, almost three years ago. More
recently, he'd set a date in May to leave - but after putting
the show in "best-of" mode since mid-March, Geronimo
announced last week that he'll return for one final show on Friday
before calling it quits for good. Co-host Mike O'Meara and the
show's cast of sidekicks will keep it going without Don. (The
show was also heard up north on Clear Channel's "Zone"
trimulcast in the Burlington-Plattsburgh market, WXZO 96.7 Willsboro/WEAV
960 Plattsburgh/WTSJ 1320 Randolph VT.)
Speaking of WHTK, it and its Clear Channel sister stations
will be pretty lonely at the end of the summer. They, along with
the Trailways bus terminal, will be the last remaining tenants
once the city of Rochester closes Midtown Plaza at the end of
July. Clear Channel is still looking for a new home for its cluster
once Midtown is demolished next year.
In Hornell, the latest chapter in the long-running saga of
WKPQ (105.3 Hornell) and WHHO (1320 Hornell) involves a consent
decree that settles FCC allegations of problems with the stations'
public files. Owner Bilbat Radio has agreed to pay a total of
$20,000 to settle those charges, which clears the way for the
stations' licenses to be renewed. In the meantime, as regular
NERW readers may recall, Bilbat lost the stations' equipment,
buildings and land in a foreclosure last year, leaving them in
a state of limbo under which Bilbat has been holding the licenses
while Terry Gilles' Gilles Leasing Services owns the equipment.
But wait - there's more: Bilbat had a deal in place to sell the
Hornell stations to Elmira radio owner Bob Pfuntner's Pembrook
Pines group. After much litigation, that agreement was revised
last year to give Pfuntner the big WKPQ FM signal, while Bilbat
would keep WHHO and acquire Pembrook Pines' WABH (1380 Bath).
Now it seems the Pembrook Pines deal is completely dead - the
transfer application for WKPQ was dismissed "at transferor's
request" a couple of weeks ago.
There's a new night show on Buffalo's WTSS (Star 102.5). The
station is one of eight Entercom ACs nationwide to be testing
out "Your Time with Kim Iverson," which originates
at KAMX in Austin. In Buffalo, Iverson's show replaces John Anthony's
local night shift on Star, up against Delilah on Regent's WJYE
In Albany, Rob Ryan has resigned as PD/afternoon jock at WAJZ
(96.3 Voorheesville). He's leaving "Jamz 96.3" to move
back to Colorado, where most of his family is located; no replacement
has been named yet.
*There's a new radio station in Keene, NEW
HAMPSHIRE, as Great Eastern completes its move of the former
WVRR (101.7 Newport) down to the Keene area. Now on 101.9, licensed
to Westminster VT, it's relaunching as "K-Rock," with
new calls WKKN and a lineup that will include the "Greg
and the Morning Buzz" show from WGIR-FM in Manchester.
The new WKKN will also pick up selected games of the New Hampshire
Fisher Cats, who just extended their contract with flagship WGIR
through the 2010 season, as well as adding another new affiliate,
WTSL (1400 Hanover).
the Lakes Region, WEZS (1350 Laconia) has changed format, dropping
smooth jazz after six years due to what the station says was
a "declining audience."
As of last Monday, WEZS has flipped to oldies, with a new
web presence at oldies1350.net.
And in Concord, we'd thought that WWHK (102.3 the Hawk) was
actually owned by Nassau these days - but it turns out the station
is still being LMA'd from Capitol Broadcasting Corp., a remnant
of the old Vox group that operated the station back in its WOTX
days. It seems Nassau's attempt to purchase WWHK outright was
thwarted by the FCC's multiple-ownership rules, which bar the
company from controlling the seven FMs it would have had in the
Concord Arbitron metro. Nassau appealed the denial, noting that
the Concord metro had just been created when the transfer application
was filed in 2005. But the FCC ruled last week that there was
evidence that Nassau and Arbitron were working together to create
the new metro - and that the sale can't go through.
*The New York Yankees are still being heard
on the radio in central VERMONT, but they've moved to
a weaker signal with the demise of last year's Rutland-area affiliate,
WEBK (105.3 Killington). When Pamal moved "Cat Country"
WJEN up to 105.3, it placed the Yanks on Cat's former home at
94.5 in Rutland, now "The Drive" WDVT. That class A
signal serves Rutland just fine, but doesn't get out beyond the
valley as well as the big 105.3 signal did.
On TV, J.J. Cioffi has announced plans to step down as sports
anchor at WCAX (Channel 3) this summer. Cioffi will leave the
station July 24 to move to Palm Springs, California, where he's
hoping to work either in radio or at a golf course.
*The second half of a MAINE callsign
shuffle is complete: the former WJAE (1440 Westbrook) is now
WJJB - and we bet J.J. Jeffrey would still like to reclaim the
heritage WJAB calls that used to be on 1440. (The sports trimulcast
of WJJB, WJJB-FM 95.5 Topsham and WWBK 900 Brunswick uses "WJAB"
as its imaging identity, but the real WJAB calls are down in
Alabama on a noncommercial FM.)
RHODE ISLAND (where our Yankee-lovin' pal at NECRAT.com,
Mike Fitzpatrick, checked in to report his relief that the team
is still being heard in town on WPRV 790), the head honcho at
the sports station that drove 790 out of the format now has a
new title. Joe Harrington has been station manager at WEEI-FM
(103.7 Westerly) for the last four years; now he's been promoted
to VP/GM at the Entercom outlet.
*Radio People on the Move in CONNECTICUT:
Peter Bush has departed the afternoon shift at WEBE (107.9
Westport), to spend more time focusing on his racing career.
No replacement has been named yet.
On the TV side of things, Dennis House goes solo on the 11
PM newscast at WFSB-TV (Channel 3), as Denise D'Ascenzo leaves
the co-anchor chair there. She remains on the air at 5, 5:30
and 6 PM.
There weren't a lot of clever April Fool's
pranks this year, but one of the better ones created a link between
NEW JERSEY and California, as anarchic freeform WFMU (91.1
East Orange) and even more anarchic freeform KFJC (89.7 Los Altos
Hills) swapped programming all day on Tuesday. Both stations
have large and enthusiastic online followings, and those listeners
found themselves at KFJC's website and stream when they typed
in wfmu.org, with a similar switcheroo for KFJC aficionados at
kfjc.org. The on-air programming was switched, too, with only
a quick WFMU legal ID interrupting the flow of Northern California
oddness over 91.1 (and 90.1 in the Catskills.) Listener reaction
was, shall we say, a bit mixed - check it out at WFMU's Beware
of the Blog.
*In PENNSYLVANIA, we can add two more
to the growing list of AM stations using FM translators. Shippensburg
Broadcasting is paying Four Rivers Community Broadcasting $10,000
for W230AX (93.9 Middle Spring), which it plans to use to relay
WEEO (1480 Shippensburg). And our pals over at PBRTV.com
report that WANB (1580 Waynesburg) has been granted special temporary
authority to rebroadcast its signal on W286AL (105.1 Waynesburg),
using that 10-watt FM outlet to put WANB programming on FM 24
hours a day. (Yes, there's also a WANB-FM on 103.1, but it has
a CP to move to Mount Pleasant.)
be a little while longer before ESPN Radio shows up on WGLD (1440
Manchester Township). The newly-moved Cumulus station was rushed
on the air to meet the start of the Phillies season, and it's
been stunting with a loop of great moments in Phillies history
(a loop that we suspect probably hasn't needed editing since
1980) when it hasn't been carrying live games. The full ESPN
feed is due to arrive sometime next month.
At Philadelphia's WIP (610), Glenn Macnow rejoins his former
partner Anthony Gargano on the midday shift, replacing Steve
Martorano in that slot.
As for the CBS cutbacks on the TV side, it appears 11 off-air
positions were cut at Philadelphia's KYW-TV (Channel 3)/WPSG
(Channel 57); there's no word about job cuts at Pittsburgh's
KDKA-TV (Channel 2)/WNPA (Channel 19).
In Pittsburgh, Kerri Griffith joins John Cline as co-host
of the new morning show on "Q92.9" (still WLTJ, with
no sign of new calls in the offing.)
In State College, Rick Kennis ("Rick Houston" on
the air, where he does middays) has been promoted to PD of the
"Joe FM" combo of WZOW (105.9 Phillipsburg)/WZYY (106.9
And in Erie, Scott Bremmer, a veteran reporter at WSEE-TV
(Channel 35), has been promoted to news director at that CBS
NERW LIVE IN PERSON! If you're in Southern California, come see NERW
editor Scott Fybush deliver the latest version of the "Tower
Sites I've Known and Photographed" slideshow, Tuesday, April
8 at the SBE Chapter 47 meeting in Burbank, CA. Details at the
SBE Chapter 47 website, http://www.sbe47.org/
*One of CANADA's biggest AM signals goes
silent this morning. CBA (1070 Moncton NB) will shut off its
50,000-watt transmitter at 7 AM Atlantic time (6 AM Eastern),
69 years after the station first took to the airwaves.
It's being replaced by CBAM (106.1 Moncton), at least in the
local area, but it leaves behind many CBC Radio fans in the northeastern
US who will lose their last on-air link to CBC's programming.
The CHUM Radio division of CTVglobemedia has a new leader.
Chris Gordon moves to Toronto from the VP/GM chair at CHUM's
Ottawa stations. He replaces Duff Roman, who'd been running the
group on an interim basis after former CHUM Radio president Paul
Ski moved over to Rogers Communications last fall.
Guess who's back on the air in Toronto? Former CNN Headline
News anchor Lynne Russell has been living in Canada for the last
few years, and she's joined the staff of CFRB (1010 Toronto),
where she's now doing a talk show from 1-3 PM on Saturday.
One more note about Toronto DJ Chris "Punch" Andrews,
who died March 30 - in addition to his work at CFRB/Mix 99.9,
we're reminded that Andrews was also the driving force behind
Canada's only CRTC-licensed high school FM station. Andrews served
as PD and technical director of "RAV 90.7," aka CFU758,
at Vaughn Secondary School in Thornhill, helping dozens of students
to learn all about the radio business.
And plans for two over-the-air HDTV services in Canada have
been quashed. The CRTC rejected a proposal from YES TV Inc. for
a Toronto-only service aimed at young viewers, as well as a more
ambitious plan from HDTV Networks Inc. for a nationwide network
that would have included transmitters in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal
and Halifax. The CRTC expressed doubts about the viability of
YES' business plans, and it said HDTV's proposal, which called
for most programming to be national, doesn't fit with the priorities
of Canadian regulators, who require local content on over-the-air
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!)
April 9, 2007 -
- There's always some risk involved in tweaking a station that's
consistently at the top of the ratings, but when that station
is at the top of the NEW YORK ratings, any tweak at all becomes
a decent-sized gamble. But Clear Channel has some pretty solid
reasoning behind its quiet shift last week that moved WLTW (106.7
New York) away from the "Lite" identity that's been
the station's cornerstone since its debut in 1984. While the
"Lite" branding still appears from time to time on
the station, it's now "New York's 106.7," with what
looks like a pretty hasty Photoshop job on the station website,
now accessible at 1067newyork.com and newyorks1067.com in addition
to the old 1067litefm.com and wltw.com.
- So what's wih the new identity? One factor, of course, is
the new competition from CBS' "Fresh FM" WWFS (102.7
New York), which is missing no opportunity to associate "Lite"
with the sleepy soft AC music that 106.7 spent so many years
playing. WLTW's gradual move away from that music toward a hotter
adult contemporary sound (verging, at times, on almost a pop-CHR
sound) is another factor in the change.
- And then there's the people-meter factor: WLTW understands,
as so many PDs will learn soon enough, that as Arbitron shifts
over to its new automated ratings system, a lot of the old realities
of the diary system will no longer apply. Already, the word is
that most of the station's entries in Arbitron diaries were simply
"106.7," without calls or slogan, and once the Portable
People Meter kicks in in New York, all that will matter will
be getting radios to land on that frequency, no matter what the
slogan. (Clear Channel's Hudson Valley "Lite" stations,
WRNQ 92.1 Poughkeepsie and WCTW 98.5 Catskill, retain the branding
- It's really in CANADA, of course, but CKEY-FM (101.1 Fort
Erie ON) continues to target the Buffalo market, just over the
Niagara River, and now it's doing so with a new nickname. "Wild
101" was replaced by "Z101" last week, with a
more mainstream top-40 format and a reworked airstaff. Ellen
Z is out in afternoons, with Keith Kelly handling that shift
for now, and PD Dave Universal created a minor message-board
stir when he installed "Taylor Kaye" (Jenny Wade, late
of WKSE in Buffalo) in late nights. There's a Taylor Kaye across
the lake at Toronto's CHUM-FM, too, and at last check, the new
Z101 website didn't show any name at all in the 10 PM airshift.
(Interesting, too, given the CRTC's previous interest in CKEY's
Canadian bona fides, that the new Z101 site, unlike the old "Wild"
site, shows only a Buffalo request-line number, and no Canadian
- Out in Nova Scotia, the CRTC has granted CFDR (780 Dartmouth)
a move to FM. Newcap will shed its 50% interest in CKUL (96.5)
in order to make the FM move, which will also come with a format
change. CFDR is now country as "780 KIXX," but it will
go to alternative rock when it moves to 88.9 with 21 kW, leaving
only CHUM Ltd.'s CJCH (920) on the AM dial in metro Halifax.
- Most of our RHODE ISLAND news this week, oddly enough, comes
from Greenville, the small town just west of I-295 outside Providence.
That's where Alex Langer's now been granted a construction permit
for a new signal on 1140. If built, the station will use 27 kW
days, 1.2 kW nights from a new six-tower array to be built near
Harmony, just west of Greenville on US 44. (Langer also owns
WRPT 650 and WBIX 1060 in the Boston market.) Greenville is also
the city of license of WALE (990), which was once again silent
last week. No word on when this troubled station might be back
on the air.
April 7, 2003 -
- (No issue while we were at NAB!)
April 9, 1998-
can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!
- The fallout continues from the April Fools stunt in which
WAAF (107.3 Worcester-Boston) afternoon jocks Opie and Anthony
announced the "death" of Boston mayor Tom Menino.
- If the station's goal was to get publicity, WAAF succeeded
-- there have been articles in the Boston papers almost every
day since the stunt -- but at a price. The mayor was not amused
by WAAF's offer to put the jocks in a gallows on City Hall Plaza
so Menino could throw pies at them. Instead, an angry mayor reportedly
faxed a letter to the FCC on city letterhead, asking the commission
to investigate the incident. The letter comes at a very bad time
for WAAF owner American Radio Systems, which just last week received
Justice Department approval to sell its stations to CBS (although
WAAF is one of several stations that must then be spun off).
It's now up to the FCC to approve the sale, and an angry mayor
can't help matters much. This week, ARS fired Opie and Anthony,
suspended WAAF general manager Bruce Mittman for a month, and
placed program director Dave Douglas on a one-month suspension.
No permanent replacement has been named for the PM drive slot.
- Elsewhere in MASSACHUSETTS, commercial digital TV came one
step closer this week, as WHDH-TV (Channel 7) applied for a license
for WHDH-DT on Channel 42. Channel 7's longstanding refusal to
lease space on its Newton tower is finally paying off; it's one
of the few major-market TV stations that won't have to make expensive
modifications to its tower, evict other tower occupants, or build
a new tower to accomodate the weight of a DTV antenna.
- Could one of the oldest construction permits in the northeast
finally be coming to the air? NERW notes that WEIB (106.3) in
Northampton has applied for a license to cover...and we hope
to hear soon from our Western Massachusetts readers about the
status of 106.3. That frequency's been in FCC limbo for literally
- In CONNECTICUT, there are new calls for the dark 1510 in
New London. The longtime WNLC will become WWJY when it returns
to the air; the WNLC calls and standards format live on over
on the FM dial at 98.7 in East Lyme.(2008 update - It never
returned on AM.)
NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2008 by Scott Fybush.