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May 19, 2008

Kidd Chris Out at WYSP


*If a PENNSYLVANIA shock jock plays a racially inflammatory song parody on his show March 21, does it make an impact? In the case of Kidd Chris, morning personality at CBS Radio's WYSP (94.1 Philadelphia), the answer would appear to be "yes - but not until almost two months have passed."

Back in March, the show played a parody song called "Schwoogies," which crudely stereotyped blacks. And while the song was reportedly played several times on March 21 and at least once more on March 24, CBS Radio management apparently didn't learn about it until sometime very late last week.

Calling the song "highly offensive and completely inappropriate for broadcast on our airwaves," WYSP fired Kidd Chris (real name: Chris Foley) and PD John Cook, and quickly cancelled a widely-publicized birthday party for Foley that had been set for Friday night.

Here's what the official statement had to say: "When senior management of the station learned that it had been played, they took immediate steps to prevent it from ever appearing on the station again. At the same time, we launched an extensive internal investigation into the situation including a thorough review of the editorial controls and systems we have in place to prevent this type of content from airing. We instituted additional educational training for the station, and have taken appropriate disciplinary action, including termination of the individuals involved."

And here's what we're wondering: given that the content of Kidd Chris' show was hardly a secret, and given the kind of scrutiny CBS has faced in recent years over controversial content from Howard Stern, Opie & Anthony, JV & Elvis and so on, can we really believe that whatever "editorial controls and systems" CBS had in place could have completely overlooked the "Schwoogies" song for almost two months. And, furthermore, that CBS would just happen to have "learned" that the song had been played a few days after an e-mail went out from the group "Racial Dignity in Media" that (according to the Philadelphia Inquirer) called for complaints against the station?

Maybe we're just cynical. Maybe it's that we haven't slept all week since welcoming a new baby to the NERW family last Tuesday morning (read on for the details)...but the whole thing seems more than a little odd from where we sit.

Meanwhile, the message boards are aflame with talk of WYSP's morning-drive future. While Kidd Chris still had most of a three-year contract remaining, the station was embroiled in a tough battle for rock listeners against Greater Media's WMMR (home to Kidd Chris' nemeses, Preston and Steve) and Clear Channel's WRFF. For now, reports the Inquirer's Michael Klein, WYSP will go jockless with rock in the morning, but there have been rumors of a return by former WYSP host Paul Barsky, who's still under contract to the station, or of a simulcast of the morning sports-talk show from sister station WIP (610 Philadelphia).

*It looks like anchors Chuck Darling and Kelly Carr are out of work at Pittsburgh's WURG-TV (Channel 9), now that - what's that? Oh, right...WURG is the fictional Pittsburgh TV station on the Fox sitcom "Back to You," which was cancelled last week, the victim of mediocre ratings, frequent timeslot shifts, the writers strike and probably Fox's general difficulty sustaining sitcoms. There's been some talk of a revival of the series over at CBS, but the outlook appears dim.


Still haven't ordered your 2008 Tower Site Calendar? You do realize that it's, don't you? We're already down to the last 35 or so calendars, and they're going fast. The 2006 and 2007 editions of the calendar sold out, and this one will do so as well, possibly as soon as this month.

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.

The calendar is just $18 with shipping and handling included - or better yet, beat our move to mandatory subscriptions later this year 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.)

So click right here and you can be sure to have your very own Tower Site Calendar 2008! (And thank you!)

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.

*NEW YORK's WRXP (101.9) has a new morning host. Allan Sniffen's New York Radio Message Board broke the news last week that the Emmis-owned rocker has picked Matt Pinfield for the wakeup shift.

Pinfield began his radio career across the river in NEW JERSEY, first at Rutgers' WRSU (88.7 New Brunswick) and then as the driving force behind the modern rock format at WHTG-FM (106.3 Eatontown), where he spent a decade as music director and PD before catching the attention of MTV, where he worked for several years hosting "120 Minutes." More recently, Pinfield has worked for sister network VH1, for Sirius Satellite Radio, and as an A&R executive for Columbia Records.

There's no official confirmation from WRXP yet about Pinfield's hiring or a start date - or about Sniffen's report that WRXP PD Blake Lawrence, a holdover from the station's WQCD days, is out.

It's just a week now until Memorial Day, and that means "Rewound" at WABC (770 New York). Johnny Donovan, Pete Kanze, Rob Frankel and Frank D'Elia have been hard at work once again on a full day of nostalgia at "Musicradio 77," and next Monday's lineup will include three hours of Bob Lewis (two hours from 1964, plus a WABC-FM hour from 1968), a Chuck Leonard top 100 countdown from 1968, Jim Nettleton's 1969 debut, and a new addition - an hour of Don Imus from his WNBC days, marking Imus' recent addition to the present-day WABC lineup. The fun happens from 6 AM-6 PM next Monday (May 26), followed by the "Rewound Talk Show."

Radio People on the Move in Albany: "Rob De Latino," aka Rob Ryan, has departed Albany Broadcasting's WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville); he's moving back to Colorado to be with his family. No replacement has been announced as PD, but morning co-host JD Redman is handling Rob's former afternoon shift. Over at Regent's cluster, Jeff Levack moves from evenings at WQBK (103.9 Rensselaer)/WQBJ (103.5 Cobleskill) to morning show producer at WGNA (107.7 Albany); Dave Hunter replaces Levack at Q103.

Jeff Monaski has been promoted from news anchor-reporter to news director at Regent's WIBX (950 Utica), replacing Stacey Lynn McAdams, who's now co-hosting the morning show at sister WFRG (104.3).

At Utica's WKTV (Channel 2), general manager Vic Vetters is adding new responsibilities: he's been promoted to VP/group manager for Smith Media Licensing, putting him in command at WVNY (Channel 22)/WFFF (Channel 44) in Burlington, VERMONT as well as at WKTV. Vetters will give up the noon anchor chair on WKTV's newscasts after 13 years.

Some TV news from Albany, as well: Dana Dieterle is leaving his post as news director at WTEN (Channel 10), moving west to Cleveland to be assistant ND at Raycom's WOIO/WUAB. No replacement has been named yet.

Here in Rochester, we told you that Entercom retained the contract of Dee Alexander after Stephens Media Group chose not to keep her on the WRMM (101.3) staff when it bought the station last month. Now Entercom says it will bring Alexander back to the air in two weeks on one of its own stations; there are no specifics yet on when she'll return to the airwaves, or on which Entercom signal.

High in the Catskills, a new noncommercial FM signal now has calls: mark down "WIOX" for the 91.3 that's licensed to the Town of Roxbury. (And while we're in the neighborhood, we should note that the new WTBD 97.5 in Delhi is not, in fact, running "satellite-delivered" adult hits, as we'd reported when the station signed on a few weeks back. In fact, WTBD's format is automated locally.)

*A RHODE ISLAND jock is heading west to CONNECTICUT: we hear Robby Bridges is departing morning drive on Hall's WCTK (98.1 New Bedford MA/Providence RI) and moving into afternoons at Cumulus' WEBE (107.9 Westport CT), filling the gap Peter Bush left last month when he departed WEBE to pursue his auto racing career.

And going the other way, Chris Duggan moves from the PD chair at WDAQ (98.3 Danbury CT) to be PD at Clear Channel's WWBB (101.5 Providence)/WSNE (93.3 Taunton MA), replacing Rick Everett there.

Hartford's WJMJ (88.9) is changing its programming direction. The station, owned by the Archdiocese of Hartford, has long offered a mix of relaxing music and ecumenical religious messages, but that's about to shift. The Hartford Courant reported last week that WJMJ has affiliated with the EWTN Catholic network, and is dropping the programming it carried from several Protestant denominations as it seeks to become more active in Catholic evangelization.

*The growing trend of AM stations obtaining special temporary authority to relay their signals via FM translators has reached southwestern NEW HAMPSHIRE. That's where Saga is now rebroadcasting talker WKBK (1290 Keene) on W278BG (104.1) and standards WZBK (1220 Keene) on W275BI (103.1). Both translators have been shuffled around the dial, and both will have new calls soon. The 103.1 signal uses 250 watts, while 104.1 has 59 watts, both from the WZBK tower in Keene.

*The death of a MASSACHUSETTS real-estate entrepreneur wouldn't seem to have any connection to NERW. But while it went unnoticed in the Boston Globe obituary, we recall Thomas Flatley for his brief career as a television broadcaster in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Flatley put independent WNHT (Channel 21) on the air in Concord, N.H. in 1984, affiliating the station with CBS in 1988. By that time, Flatley had also put Fox affiliate WSYT (Channel 68) on the air in Syracuse, and while WSYT was successful, WNHT was less so. Flatley shut WNHT down abruptly in 1989, and sold WSYT in 1992.

Television was but a sideline in Flatley's larger career, which took him from being an Irish immigrant with $35 in his pocket to being in command of a billion-dollar real-estate empire that included the Tara hotel chain. Flatley had been suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease; he was 76.

*MAINE's new Blueberry Broadcasting group has found a temporary home for the two signals it can't keep because of market-concentration issues. The Kalil Holding Group, operated by Tucson broker Kalil and Associates, will take WFZX (101.7 Searsport) and WGUY (102.1 Dexter) and search for a buyer for them.

On the TV front, we hear Gannett's WCSH (Channel 6) in Portland and WLBZ (Channel 2) in Bangor were hit by the company's latest round of job cuts, losing about seven employees in master control and graphics. Both functions will apparently be centralized at new group hubs for the Gannett stations. We're not sure if it's related to the corporate job cuts, but WCSH/WLBZ news director Mike Curry is also (The company also owns WGRZ-TV in Buffalo; we haven't heard anything about cutbacks there.)

*Some Radio People on the Move in CANADA: "Gruff" Gushnowski has departed the PD chair at CHEZ (106.1 Ottawa), returning home to Alberta and CIRK (97.3 K-Rock) in Edmonton. Meanwhile, former Q107 Toronto PD Pat Cardinal has joined Newcap's Edmonton cluster as operations manager.

Sudbury-based Eternacom has been granted a license for a new signal over in Elliot Lake, Ontario. The new Christian music station will run 865 watts on 102.5, with at least 42 hours a week of local programming. The remainder will be a simulcast of Eternacom's CJTK (95.5 Sudbury).

The CRTC has also put out a call for applicants interested in providing new radio service to Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, Ontario. Proposals are due July 14.

And there's late word that CJCH (920 Halifax NS) has begun testing its new FM signal on 101.3; the move, when it happens, will leave Halifax with just one AM station, CFDR (780 Kixx), and it, too, has permission to move to FM.

*It's almost time for the independent Can-Am League to start play, and here's a quick look at who's got those baseball games on the radio:

In New Jersey, the Sussex Skyhawks join forces with WDLC (1490 Port Jervis NY) for 17 home games this season. The Atlantic City Surf appear to be continuing on WLFR (91.7 Pomona), as best we can tell. It's webcast-only for the New Jersey Jackals.

In New England, the Brockton Rox once again air their full season on WXBR (1460 Brockton), while the Worcester Tornadoes play their full season on WTAG (580 Worcester). The defending champions, the Nashua Pride, are webcast-only - and their veteran announcer, Ken Cail, has moved south down route 3 to handle play-by-play for the Lowell Spinners. (We'll get to the short-season New York-Penn League when they start play next month.)

Across the border, Les Capitales de Quebec are heard in French on CHRC (800 Quebec), and the new Ottawa Rapidz (who take the place of the former International League Ottawa Lynx, now the Lehigh Valley IronPigs) are heard in French on CJRC (1150/104.7 Gatineau), with no English broadcasts that we can find.

*So, about that whole "new baby" thing: we weren't expecting him for another month or so, but the newest member of the Fybush Media family had his own schedule.

Eli Benjamin Fybush came into the world on Tuesday morning, May 13, five weeks early. Weighing in at 5 lbs., 8 oz. and 18.5", he's doing just fine, thanks - as are big sister Ari, mom Lisa and of course, Freckles the NERW Wonder Dog. Dad is a little freaked out, but that's the normal state of affairs around here. And in the event we're a little late posting a Tower Site of the Week or a NERW issue at some point in the next few weeks, well, blame the little guy. (Hmm...too soon to name him Director of the Complaint Department?)

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!)

May 21, 2007 -

  • It seemed like a sure thing - put a Spanish-language format on an FM signal in PENNSYLVANIA's biggest market and watch the ratings soar. But Clear Channel's experiment with Spanish tropical "Rumba" on WUBA (104.5 Philadelphia) never quite caught fire after the station signed on last fall, replacing the soft AC of "Sunny" WSNI. WUBA languished at the bottom of the ratings, with revenue to match, and the advent of the Portable People Meter in Philadelphia this year confirmed that it wasn't just an issue with under-representation of the Hispanic audience.
  • So on Thursday, "Rumba" disappeared from the big full-market 104.5 signal, moving down to WDAS (1480 Philadelphia), displacing black gospel from that frequency and its decidedly less-than-full-market coverage. (WDAS had picked up Spanish-language Phillies broadcasts at the start of the season, which should have tipped us off that something was up.) Replacing "Rumba" on 104.5 is Philadelphia's first commercial modern rocker since the 2005 demise of the old "Y100" (WPLY 100.3 Media) more than two years ago. "Radio 104.5" is running jockless for now, with a logo (and programming) reminiscent of the old WMRQ (104.1) in Hartford prior to its switch to urban in 2003.
  • The post-Imus fallout continues to reverberate in MASSACHUSETTS. At Imus' former Boston home, WTKK (96.9), the Mike Barnicle show that's been a temporary replacement was itself replaced last week, as WTKK picked up the David Gregory show that originated for several days from MSNBC and was simulcast over former Imus flagship WFAN (660 New York). Will the NBC White House correspondent become the permanent replacement for Imus? The buzz we're hearing suggests otherwise, which means WFAN and WTKK are still trying to figure out what to do next.
  • Boston-area viewers with HDTV sets are seeing Natalie Jacobson and her colleagues a little more clearly last week. WCVB-DT (Channel 20) was the first DTV signal in Boston, and when it began producing "Chronicle" in HD last year, that was the first regular local show to be offered in HD in the market. As of last Monday, WCVB's newscasts are all in HD as well, for another market first; no word on when WBZ/WSBK, WHDH/WLVI or WFXT will follow suit.
  • It's become almost a tradition by now that nearly every time Clear Channel changes format on its Rochester rimshot at 107.3 (currently WSNP South Bristol), it stunts with country for a few minutes before adopting whatever format it's really moving to. The latest 107.3 flip, which took place Friday afternoon, didn't include that stunt - because this time around, the format du jour is, in fact, country. "Country 107.3" is the new moniker, and we'd note that the previous occupant, rhythmic AC "Snap 107.3," lasted all of eight months and change, which means that maybe we weren't all that far off the mark, after all, when we called it a stunt format last September. (Conventional wisdom says putting country on 107.3 will serve as a flanker to shave just enough ratings points off Entercom's market-leading WBEE 92.5 to put Clear Channel's WHAM at the top of the ratings; we'll see how well that turns out.)

May 19, 2003 -

  • NEW YORK's oldies station is slowly returning some pre-1964 music to its playlist, after gradual changes over the past few years that removed pretty much everything from WCBS-FM (101.1 New York) that predated the Beatles. No, the "O" word hasn't returned to the Infinity station's imaging - and, yeah, there's still some '80s Billy Joel in the playlist - but the station made a concession to its older listeners over the weekend when it returned doo-wop music to its Sunday night schedule.
  • You'll recall the outcry last August when CBS-FM eliminated the "Doo-Wop Shop" on Sundays; as of last night, it's back, in a modified form - under the title "The Heart of Rock'n' Roll," and hosted by former WCBS-FM personality Norm N. Nite, who's back in Cleveland and doing the show from the Alan Freed Studio at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Don K. Reed loses that Sunday night airshift, but remains on weekday overnights.
  • In Buffalo, we'd neglected to mention that WGRZ (Channel 2) dropped its 10 PM newscast on LMA partner WPXJ (Channel 51) a few weeks back, while we were out of town. We'll miss the nice signal on the Buffalo news (WPXJ, licensed to Batavia, comes in quite well in Rochester!) - but we'll be able to tune in to another sorta-Buffalo newscast in a few months, when Sinclair expects to launch its Maryland-based "News Central" on WB affiliate WNYO-TV (Channel 49); Sinclair's bigger Fox affiliate, WUTV (Channel 29), will continue to carry syndicated shows at 10. The WPXJ newscast had been getting roundly beaten in the ratings by WIVB's 10 PM news on sister station WNLO (Channel 23).
  • In NEW JERSEY, the last piece of the former Y107/Rumba "quadcast" returned to the air last week, as Press launched "107.1 the Breeze" on WWZY (107.1 Long Branch). The station shares its Jones soft AC format and "Captain Jack" Aponte morning show with sister WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton) down the coast; we hear it's looking to return to the Long Branch transmitter site it used to use before Big City moved north to the current site at Atlantic Highlands, which improved New York City coverage at the expense of the Jersey Shore.
  • Meanwhile down the dial, Nassau replaced the WPST simulcast on WEMG-FM (104.9 Egg Harbor City) with country late last week; still no commercials, and word is that this, too, may turn out to be a stunt.

May 20, 1998-

  • The FCC has granted WXPS (96.7) a move from Vergennes, VERMONT to Willsboro, NEW YORK, on the opposite side of Lake Champlain. The 96 MHz part of the dial is getting active in New York's North Country; WVNV (96.5) in Malone has been granted a change of class from A to C3, and the FCC has allocated 96.5A to Speculator, a tiny village high in the Adirondacks.
  • The folks at Syracuse Community Radio have a callsign for one of their construction permits. 88.7 in Truxton NY will be WXXC. Meantime, the FCC granted a CP for SCR's 90.5 MHz station in Fenner NY.
  • The new 97.9 construction permit in Jewett (in the Catskills between Oneonta and Albany) was assigned the WAXK calls, while the 1660 kHz facility in the New York City market (licensed to Elizabeth NJ) has applied to change calls from WJDM to WBAH. The sister outlet on 1530 remains WJDM for now.
  • On to MASSACHUSETTS, where news director Bill Pohovey has parted ways with WHDH-TV (Channel 7); no replacement has been named yet. One of the creators of Channel 7's format, Joel Cheatwood, was ousted this week from his most recent job as news director at WMAQ-TV (Channel 5) in Chicago. He's being moved to a position in program development with NBC's owned-and-operated stations. Cheatwood came under fire in Chicago for making many of the same changes he made at WHDH and at WSVN in Miami; it seems Chicago was even more resistant than Boston to the fast-paced tabloid style that Cheatwood brought with him.
  • A format change in the Worcester market: WXXW (98.9 Webster) has dumped the satellite oldies (and the Don & Mike talk show in afternoon drive) to go classic rock as "98-9 the Bus."
  • In NEW HAMPSHIRE, there's a new station on the air way up north. New England radio veteran Barry Lunderville, who sold his WZBZ (now WDOT 1070 Plattsburgh NY) to Alex McEwing's Family Radio, has put WXXS (102.3) on the air in Lancaster with a hot AC format. "Kiss 102"'s studios are at 20 Middle Street in Lancaster; it's transmitting with 700 watts from more than 600 feet above average terrain.
  • Dennis Jackson's new 106.5 in Farmington has been assigned the WZEN calls.

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