June 16, 2008
Remembering Buffalo's Tim Russert
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2008 - ALMOST SOLD OUT!!!
*The shock of Tim Russert's far-too-early
death on Friday afternoon was felt all over the country, but
nowhere more so than in his native western NEW YORK.
never worked in radio or television in Buffalo, of course; his
road out of South Buffalo took him into the political arena,
as an aide to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, before he joined
NBC as Washington bureau chief in 1984. But as Russert became
a fixture on the NBC and MSNBC airwaves over the last two decades,
he missed no opportunity to talk up his Buffalo roots. When he
wasn't shamelessly promoting the Bills and the Sabres at the
end of "Meet the Press" many weeks, Russert was talking
about his Canisius High School education and his days growing
up as the son of "Big Russ," Tim Russert Sr.
In 2003, the Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers (now the Buffalo Broadcasters)
inducted Russert into their hall of fame, honoring him with the
"Buffalo" Bob Smith Award, which recognizes Buffalo
natives who achieved fame outside the Queen City.
As news of Russert's sudden collapse and death spread on Friday,
Buffalo's TV and radio stations sprung into action - not only
NBC affiliate WGRZ (Channel 2) but the rest of the Buffalo newscasts
were filled with local residents' memories of Russert throughout
the weekend, and much of the front page of Saturday's Buffalo
News was dedicated to Russert. And Buffalo voices were all
over the networks throughout the weekend, too - Buffalo mayor
Byron Brown, in particular, was seen several times on MSNBC and
NBC itself, and CNN's Wolf Blitzer, another prominent son of
Buffalo, shared some touching stories about the bond he shared
with his fellow western New Yorker.
NERW joins with the rest of the broadcasting industry in sending
our deepest condolences to the Russert family and to his family
at NBC; he leaves behind a void that won't be filled easily or
quickly, if at all.
*There's a radio vacancy in Albany; AllAccess.com reports
that Scott Allen Miller is departing Albany Broadcasting's WROW
(590) in mid-July to move to New York City. Miller just took
over as WROW's PD and morning man last October, following a stint
as morning host in Boston at WRKO; no replacement has been named
the road in Poughkeepsie, WKIP (1450) has replaced Pittsburgh-based
"Quinn and Rose" in morning drive with Don Imus, who's
already fairly well heard in the Hudson Valley by way of flagship
WABC (770). And we note that sometime in the last few months,
WKIP began simulcasting on WELG (1370 Ellenville), which had
been running a satellite-delivered standards format.
Out on Long Island, Patrick Shea gets a big promotion at WALK-FM
(97.5 Patchogue): in addition to doing nights, Shea is now the
PD at the AC station, taking over from Rob Miller, who's been
splitting his time between WALK-FM and New York's WKTU. Shea
had been serving as assistant PD at WALK.
In Binghamton, Pam Scott replaces Kristie Houston as morning
co-host alongside Glenn Pitcher at Citadel's WHWK (98.1); Scott
had been across town at Clear Channel's WMXW (103.3 Vestal),
while Houston is now in Texas. (Actually, Houston's always been
in Texas, hasn't it?)
Bill Prendergast is the new director of engineering at Entercom's
Buffalo cluster; he'd most recently been working as a contract
engineer in Alaska. Speaking of Entercom Buffalo, talker WBEN
(930) has grabbed the Sean Hannity show away from Lockport's
WLVL (1340), whose owner Dick Greene recently flipped WECK (1230
Cheektowaga) into a talk station that's challenging WBEN. Hannity
is airing on delay on WBEN, from 10 PM-1 AM weeknights.
At Bath-based Family Life Network, John Owens has been promoted
- he's now operations manager as well as PD of the network, which
now covers most of western and central New York and much of northern
we return to New York City for one more obituary: Raul Alarcon,
Sr., who died in Miami on Wednesday, changed the face of Spanish-language
radio in New York when his Spanish Broadcasting System bought
the former WVNJ (620 Newark NJ) in 1983. Under its new calls
of WSKQ, the station challenged the long-established Spanish-language
stations in the city, WADO (1280) and WJIT (1480). Five years
later, SBS took the dominant position in New York Spanish radio
when it bought the former WEVD-FM (97.9 New York) and launched
the city's first full-time, full-power Spanish-language FM signal,
WSKQ-FM. "Mega 97.9" was joined in 1995 by WPAT-FM
(93.1 Paterson NJ), "Amor 93.1."
Alarcon stepped down as SBS chairman in 1999 and had been
in poor health recently; he was 82 years old.
GETCHER 2008 TOWER SITE CALENDAR
- BEFORE THEY'RE ALL GONE!
Still haven't ordered your 2008 Tower Site Calendar?
You do realize that it's now...er...2008, 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
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.
*VERMONT's "Corm and the Coach"
are ending their 16-year partnership. After their July 2 show,
"Coach" Tom Brennan will leave the popular morning
show he's been hosting with Steve "Corm" Cormier since
1992, when they debuted on WIZN (106.7 Vergennes).
pair moved to their current home base, "Champ" WCPV
(101.3 Essex NY) in 1998. (They're also heard in central Vermont
on the Champ simulcast, WCVR 102.1 Randolph.)
Brennan tells the Burlington Free Press that he's tired
of 4 AM wakeup calls; Cormier, who's also the PD of WCPV/WCVR,
plans to continue in mornings. He says the move isn't related
to the impending sale of WCPV and its Clear Channel sister stations,
which is expected to close within the next few months.
Brennan, who coached the University of Vermont basketball
team for almost two decades, won't leave the airwaves completely;
he'll remain with ESPN as a basketball analyst.
*In MASSACHUSETTS, there are vacancies
in two PD chairs in the Boston market.
At CBS Radio's WBCN (104.1 Boston), Dave Wellington exited
last week, ending a nearly four-year stint at the helm of the
station as it swung back and forth between its rock heritage
and talk. Wellington came to WBCN in 2004, replacing the station's
legendary PD, Oedipus.
Up at Steve Silberberg's WXRV (92.5 Andover), Ron Bowen has
exited as PD/operations manager/morning man after about a year
and a half at "The River."
The venerable WMEX call letters, first heard
in Boston way back in 1934, are returning to the Bay State. Dennis
Jackson held on to the calls when he sold their last home, the
106.5 in Farmington, NEW HAMPSHIRE that's now an "Air
One" affiliate under the WKHL calls. Now we know why - he's
placing them on the new 88.1 in Edgartown, on Martha's Vineyard,
for which his Foothills Public Radio was recently granted a construction
permit. The new WMEX will run 150 watts, vertical-only (for now),
from a Verizon tower in Edgartown. (Yes, if you're keeping track
at home, this means "WMEX" and "WVWA" will
be in the same hands; somewhere, either Mac Richmond or Howie
Leonard are spinning in their respective graves...)
And we were terribly remiss last week in not noting the 60th
anniversary of television in New England, and thus of Boston's
WBZ-TV (Channel 4), the region's pioneering TV station. We weren't
alone in that oversight - WBZ-TV's first general manager, Wilmer
Swartley, still going strong as he approaches his 100th birthday,
noted the omission when he talked with Boston radio historian
Donna Halper last week.
Two more early New England TV stations also have anniversaries
this month: Sunday (June 15) marked the 60th birthday for New
Haven's WTNH (Channel 8), originally WNHC-TV on channel 6; next
Saturday (June 21) marks the 60th anniversary of the sign-on
of Boston's second TV station, WNAC-TV (Channel 7), the ancestor
of today's WHDH-TV.
*There's more syndicated programming coming
to Clear Channel's RHODE ISLAND AC station. WSNE (93.3
Taunton MA) is bringing in the Los Angeles-based Ryan Seacrest
show for afternoons, effective today, and at night "The
Coast" will replace Delilah with John Tesh. The afternoon
slot had been filled by Boston radio veteran David O'Leary until
early April, when O'Leary left WSNE (where he was also assistant
PD) to become production director at WMJX (106.7 Boston).
*Randi Kirshbaum has an extra airshift in
MAINE; in addition to middays on Saga's WYNZ (100.9 Westbrook),
she'll use the air name "Bobbi Kay" starting tonight,
when she replaces the syndicated "After Midnight" on
the overnight shift at sister station WPOR (101.9 Portland.)
*One central PENNSYLVANIA AM station
is officially dead, while another is getting a new lease on life.
The defunct one first: WISL (1480 Shamokin) has been silent
for several years now (we last heard it on the air, at low power,
in 2003), but it took the FCC a while to catch up with its demise;
the license was finally cancelled for good, and the callsign
deleted, last week.
Down the road in
Carlisle, WIOO (1000) won Commission approval last week to move
to 1010, concluding a long fight it's been waging against Radio
One's WOLB (1010 Baltimore). Back in 2004, WIOO applied for the
frequency change and power increase. In its application, WIOO
noted that WCST (1010 Berkeley Springs WV) was off the air, apparently
for good, and it argued that it shouldn't have to protect WOLB's
full-power licensed facilities because Radio One had demolished
them, sold the old transmitter site, and was operating at reduced
power from another site.
The matter percolated before the Commission for several years,
during which WCST returned to the air and WOLB filed an application
for licensed facilities with lower power. WIOO amended its application
to show protection for both of those signals, and when WOLB was
licensed at its new site last month, WIOO pressed the Commission
to approve its own move. And after one more appeal from Radio
One, which was denied, the FCC agreed. So WIOO will go from 1
kW, non-directional, to 5 kW DA by day, adding 60 watts of power
at night on its new frequency of 1010.
In Philadelphia, WOGL (98.1) officially dedicated its air
studio last Friday in memory of afternoon jock Ron O'Brien, who
died April 27. In addition to "The Big Ron O'Brien Studio,"
WOGL has set up a tribute
page for the legendary top-40 jock.
Another legendary jock, Pittsburgh's Porky Chedwick, is moving
south. PBRTV.com reports
that the "Daddio of the Raddio," now 90, is relocating
to Tarpon Springs, Florida, near Tampa.
And we just recently received word of the May 23 death of
Edwin Tornberg, the chairman of New World Radio, which owns WNWR
(1540 Philadelphia) as well as stations in Baltimore and Washington.
Tornberg was 82.
a new FM signal on the air in eastern CANADA; Kentville,
Nova Scotia, to be precise. Newcap's CIJK ("K-Rock 89.3")
launched Thursday morning at the frequency-appropriate time of
8:09:30. The classic rock station offers new competition to Maritime
Broadcasting System's two Annapolis Valley signals, CKWM (97.7)
and CKEN (94.9).
In the Ottawa-Gatineau market, the CRTC has granted a transmitter
site move to Corus' CJRC-FM (104.7 Gatineau) in hopes of overcoming
the signal problems the station has faced as it attempts to move
off AM, where it continues to simulcast on 1150. CJRC-FM will
increase power from 2.9 kW to 36 kW, decrease antenna height
from 95 meters to 41.5 meters, and will move to a new site near
the Gatineau airport from its present downtown Ottawa rooftop
*And we wrap up this week with the final installment of our
ongoing look at baseball on the radio - this time, the short-season
New York-Penn League, which starts play this week.
The Lowell Spinners have a new radio home this year,
moving from WLLH (1400) back to WCAP (980), with Ken Cail handling
play-by-play duties. (The former producer of Guy Mainella's "Calling
All Sports" on WBZ is now the morning man up in New Hampshire
The Vermont Lake Monsters continue on "The Zone,"
WXZO (96.7 Willsboro NY)/WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY).
In New York State, the Batavia Muckdogs (now under
the management of the Rochester Red Wings) change stations this
year, moving from SUNY Brockport's WBSU (89.1) to hometown WBTA
(1490), with Wayne Fuller at the mike for all home games and
a few away games. Elsewhere around the state, the Tri-City
Valley Cats continue on Siena College's WVCR (88.3 Loudonville);
the Hudson Valley Renegades on WBNR (1260 Beacon)/WLNA
(1420 Peekskill); the Brooklyn Cyclones on Brooklyn College's
WKRB (90.3); the Auburn Doubledays on WAUB (1590); and
the Jamestown Jammers on WKSN (1340) for away games only.
There's no radio again this year for the Oneonta Tigers
or the Staten Island Yankees, and we can't even find any
evidence this year that the SI Yanks will be seen on the YES
Network, as they have been for a few games each season.
And in Pennsylvania, the State College Spikes play
on WWZW (95.3 Bellefonte), while the Williamsport Crosscutters
will be heard on Lycoming College's WRLC (91.7) for home
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!)
June 18, 2007 -
- No sooner did Grace Blazer move from WPHT (1210 Philadelphia)
to MASSACHUSETTS to take the PD chair at WTKK (96.9 Boston) than
the wheels began to spin at the Greater Media FM talker, in a
way that will give Blazer plenty of challenges as she starts
her Boston tenure.
- It's not as though there weren't already challenges at "FM
Talk 96.9," beginning with the morning slot that's been
officially vacant since the cancellation of the Don Imus show
earlier this spring. As of late last week, though, the top contender
to replace Imus on WTKK's morning shift says not only doesn't
he want the job - but he's leaving the station entirely. That
contender, of course, would be Mike Barnicle, the venerable Boston
newspaper columnist and local media icon who's been a star personality
on WTKK since its debut. Most recently, Barnicle had been doing
the 9-10 AM weekday show, and had added the 6-9 AM Imus shift
most days since Imus' ouster.
- Now Barnicle says he's busy enough with his work on MSNBC
and in print, especially with the 2008 elections looming, that
he can't keep doing even his daily hour at WTKK, much less the
entire morning shift - and that means some big decisions for
Blazer and her bosses. While Barnicle says he'll keep doing the
morning show on a fill-in basis for the moment, WTKK is already
trying other talent. Tomorrow morning, middayer Michael Graham
will fill in, and we wouldn't be surprised to hear other WTKK
personalities, such as early-afternoon hosts Marjorie Eagan and
Jim Braude and maybe even PM drive talker Jay Severin, trying
out for the shift.
- If there's any bright side to WTKK's current morning troubles,
it's that they come at a time when rival talker WRKO (680 Boston)
is in equally dire straits during the daypart, as its Tom Finneran
morning show struggles to find a rhythm and ratings. Is it any
wonder we're hearing growing rumblings - not just from Boston,
but from his former home market as well - that an Imus return
to the airwaves this fall might be a possibility?
- Another major PENNSYLVANIA TV station is moving, and apparently
not a moment too soon. Last Thursday, ABC's WPVI (Channel 6)
held groundbreaking ceremonies for a new studio facility to be
built next door to its 1964-vintage landmark building on City
Line Avenue in Philadelphia. The new 110,000-square foot building
will go up on land purchased from the Philadelphia College of
Osteopathic Medicine. When it opens in 2009, the old building
will be used for parking and for expansion space. But no sooner
had WPVI broadcast the groundbreaking event for the new building
than a storm front moving through knocked the station completely
off the air - and while it soon returned, the station faced an
even bigger crisis on Friday, when a construction crew opened
a hole in a 6-inch water main, sending a stream of water flooding
into the first floor of the old building and forcing the entire
staff to evacuate to a field next door, where the station's early-evening
"Action News" broadcasts were assembled under a tent.
- Greater Media has completed its move of WJJZ (97.5 Burlington)
into the Philadelphia market. Over the weekend, the station turned
off its longtime transmitter site in downtown Trenton, signing
on a new facility at the Wyndmoor tower it now shares with Clear
Channel's WISX (106.1 Philadelphia). We're already hearing reports
of a much stronger signal over most of the Philly market - and
we're wondering if the next transmitter move will involve WMMR
(93.3) and WRNB (107.9), whose Center City site atop the One
Liberty tower is now shadowed by the taller Comcast Center skyscraper
that just topped off practically next door.
- VERMONT Public Radio took a big step toward its plans for
a two-network future last week when it announced it's buying
WAVX (90.9 Schuyler Falls NY) from Essex-based Christian Ministries,
Inc. The $1.1 million purchase will give VPR a signal for its
new VPR Classical service that will serve the state's largest
city, Burlington, as well as the Plattsburgh, N.Y. area across
Lake Champlain. (WAVX is a 2.7 kW/1074' DA C2 signal broadcasting
from just west of Peru, N.Y.) VPR started the classical service
a couple of years ago on WNCH (88.1 Norwich), and recently added
WJAN (95.1 Sunderland) to the network. It's also making VPR Classical
available as a subchannel on the HD Radio signals of its main-channel
stations. We'd expect those stations to eventually transition
from a mixture of news and classical to all-news and talk as
the classical network increases its distribution across the state.
June 16, 2003 -
- You know it's been a slow week in NERW-land when we lead
off with a format change on the outskirts of a major market in
CANADA! Be that as it may, Durham Radio pulled a bit of a surprise
midweek when it pulled the plug on the modern AC "Magic
@ 94.9" that had been running on CKGE (94.9 Oshawa), serving
the fast-growing Durham region east of Toronto.
- When Durham bought the station, the rumor in Toronto radio
circles had CKGE flipping to a simulcast of smooth jazz "Wave"
CIWV (94.7 Hamilton), which shares common ownership just across
the lake at the other end of the "Golden Horseshoe."
Instead, CKGE is now "94-9 the Rock," with legendary
Toronto programmer David Marsden on board helping out. Al Joynes
and Laura Mainella handle mornings, followed by Vanessa Murphy
in middays and Rockin Rod in afternoons - and Marsden himself
will handle 7-midnight on Thursdays and Fridays.
- It's been a bad week for a NEW YORK public broadcaster. Schenectady's
WMHT laid off some of its television staffers last month; now
it's pulled the plug on most of the local classical music programming
at WMHT-FM (89.1) and its Hudson Valley simulcast, WRHV (88.7
Poughkeepsie). Four full-time announcers, including shop steward
Lawrence Boylan, were let go in the switch to the satellite;
WMHT is promising to keep local programming in the morning, as
well as retaining some local specialty shows.
June 18, 1998-
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- Chalk a big one up for Clear Channel Broadcasting. On Wednesday,
the broadcaster picked up Pennsylvania-based Dame Media in an
$85 million stock deal. Clear Channel is already a major owner
in New Haven (WELI/WAVZ/WKCI), Providence (WWRX/WWBB), and Springfield
(WHYN AM-FM). It's a TV owner in Albany (WXXA-TV), and it's a
major investor in Albany's WQBK/WQBJ, WXCR, and WTMM. The Dame
purchase gives Clear Channel WGY (810 Schenectady), WRVE (99.5
Schenectady), and WHRL (103.1 Albany) to add to the group, along
with six Utica-area stations -- the trimulcast standards WUTQ
(1550 Utica)/WRNY (1350 Rome)/WADR (1480 Remsen), rocker WOUR
(96.9 Utica), CHR WSKS (102.5 Rome), and AC WRFM (93.5 Remsen).
- In other news from NEW YORK, it's official: New York City's
WNEW (102.7) is picking up former WAAF afternoon guys Opie and
Anthony as part of what looks like a former overhaul. The CBS-owned
station will reportedly drop veteran DJs including Pat St. John
and Scott Muni, as it heads in more of an alternative-rock direction.
- Binghamton's WIVT (Channel 34) remains off the airwaves,
but cable viewers are again seeing local programming. Public
broadcaster WSKG (Channel 46) leased space in its Gates Road
facility in Vestal to WIVT, which was knocked off the air by
a tornado that destroyed its tower and much of its studio building.
It's something of an irony for the folks at WSKG, who were rumored
to be contemplating buying Channel 34 a few years ago (when it
was still WMGC) and running it as a commercial operation from
the WSKG studios. Broadcasting & Cable magazine reports WSKG
hopes to keep WIVT as a permanent tenant.
- WGKP, we hardly knew ye: The Sound of Life religious network
must think it's covering Albany well enough with its translator
on 98.9; it asked the FCC last Friday to delete the construction-permit
for never-built WGKP (89.9 Rensselaerville), which would have
broadcast from the same New Scotland site that W255AJ is using.
NERW guesses it must be much cheaper to run a one-watt translator
than a 340-watt "real" station.
- Up north, Ogdensburg's WZEA (98.7) went on the air "for
real" this week, as hot AC "Yes-FM." New calls
are already in place; list this one as WYSX from now on. We're
told live jocks are now on the air at this Tim Martz-owned station.
While we're in the area, we note that CJSS (1220) in Cornwall,
Ontario has applied for 101.9 MHz; part of a slew of Canadian
AM-to-FM applications in the last few weeks, it seems. Others
include London's CKSL (1410 to 102.3), Sarnia's CKTY (1110 to
106.3; we're sure WBT likes this one), and St.-Georges-du-Beauce,
Quebec's CKRB (1460 to 103.3, ending a regular DX catch in the
Boston area). In Lindsay, CKLY has now gone silent on 910 and
is only on 91.9.
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2008 by Scott Fybush.