Recent Issues:

June 16, 2008

June 9, 2008

June 2, 2008

May 26, 2008

2007 In Review - The New Place to Talk Radio

Your message here - contact to reach thousands of NERW readers every week!

June 23, 2008

Fire Silences WRKI


*It was a bad week for Cumulus' WRKI (95.1 Brookfield CT), after a lightning hit on the station's tower knocked its main signal off the air last Saturday (June 14).

Photos of the fire were the talk of the engineering community early last week, as the experts pored over the shots of flames erupting from the top of the tower and speculated on what happened. The answer, as it turns out, was a melting radome on the lower bay of the station's two-bay ERI rototiller antenna, and the result was a damaged antenna and a silent station.

WRKI was back on the air at reduced power by Saturday night, and many listeners never even noticed the outage, since classic rock "I-95" reaches the southern half of its Fairfield County listenership by way of on-channel booster signals in Bridgeport and Norwalk. Unaffected by the lightning strike, those signals stayed on the air at full power - and we hear reception was actually a little better than usual in Stamford, where the boosters and the main signal usually interfere a bit with each other.

Also silenced, at least briefly, was sister station WPUT (1510 Putnam NY), which has its studio-transmitter link on the tower. It was back on the air early last week, and WRKI returned to full power at week's end with a new antenna and transmission line.

Alert readers may note that this is the second such burning FM radome in southwestern Connecticut in less than a year - last September, the antenna of WCTZ (96.7 Stamford) took a lightning hit and caught on fire as well.


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.

*Emmis has picked a PD for its New York rock outlet, WRXP (101.9). Leslie Fram comes north from Atlanta, where she's spent the last 17 years at Cumulus' WNNX (99.7 Atlanta), the last ten as PD before its "99X" modern rock format was moved off to an HD2 subchannel earlier this year. At WRXP, she replaces Blake Lawrence, the last remaining holdover from the station's previous existence as smooth jazz WQCD.

Are the star personalities at CBS Radio's top-billing sports station, WFAN (660 New York) on the way out the door - or just looking for some love at contract-renewal time? Sunday's Newsday carried an article speculating that Mike Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo may have done their last show together on WFAN. They've been taking alternating vacations, and they're next scheduled to be together on July 11. Their contract renewal comes at a challenging time for WFAN: not only is the station still recovering from the loss of Don Imus and his sizable ad revenue last year, but another WFAN cash cow - the New York Mets - are in the last year of their contract with WFAN, which has been their home ever since the station signed on in 1987. (On the other hand, given the general haplessness of the Mets this year, perhaps the team isn't in the best position for contract renewal either?)

The Sacramento-based religious broadcaster EMF is expanding yet again. Apparently not content with two networks that now boast nearly coast-to-coast reach, EMF last week flipped several of its "K-Love" and "Air 1" outlets in areas with overlapping signals to a new Christian country/southern gospel service it's calling "God's Country."

One of the new network's first affiliates is in central New York, where EMF's purchase of several stations from Galaxy last year gave it duplicating Utica coverage for "K-Love." While the flagship network remains in place on WKVU (100.7 Utica), former simulcast WOKR (93.5 Remsen) is now one of about half a dozen "God's Country" outlets. At least when we heard it over the weekend, the new network was running automated, unlike the live talent on K-Love.

Is this just a test market for EMF, or could the ambitious broadcaster, whose recent purchases have suggested almost limitless financial resources, be thinking about another round of station acquisitions to bring "God's Country" to more listeners?

Meanwhile, Galaxy is selling a translator in the region: W248AN (97.5 Little Falls), which has been relaying WOUR (96.9 Utica), goes to Bud Williamson's Digital Radio Broadcasting for $5,000.

Way up north, we caught the new 107.1 signal in Dannemora (west of Plattsburgh) on the air in its first weeks. Originally allotted to Saranac Lake, then to Saranac (another small town near Plattsburgh), another recent allocations shuffle moved this little class A signal to Dannemora, sending the as-yet-unbuilt 97.9 in the region from Dannemora to Au Sable. In any case, little 107.1 has changed calls from WDYC to WELX, and it's being leased by owner Randy Michaels (via his RadioActive, LLC) to serve as a simulcast of nearby WCLX (102.9 Westport).

We noticed another AM-on-FM translator as we headed out of town last week: in Auburn, Finger Lakes Radio has flipped W251AK (98.1 Melrose Park) from a simulcast of WNYR (98.5 Waterloo) to a simulcast of news-talk WAUB (1590 Auburn). This is the second such AM-on-FM translator for the company, which also runs a translator for WCGR (1550 Canandaigua). Unfortunately, the 98.1 translator fights to be heard anywhere east of Auburn with another co-channel translator signal, W251AK (98.1 Nedrow/Lafayette), which relays WVOA (103.9 Mexico) from the tower of WSYT-TV, southwest of Syracuse.

In Jamestown, Ray Hall's "Hall Closet" local talk program is history on WJTN (1240); as of today, its midday slot has been replaced by Ed Schultz.

Over on the TV side, it was a very bad week for staffers at the TV stations Newport recently acquired from Clear Channel. We're hearing there were significant job cuts at Rochester's WHAM-TV (Channel 13), Syracuse's WSYR-TV (Channel 9) and Albany's WXXA-TV (Channel 23), with more than a dozen people out the door in Albany. More as we get details...

Where are they now? Bernie Kimble, who made a name for himself at Rochester's WMJQ and WCMF in the seventies, spent the last 13 years as PD at smooth jazz WNWV (107.3 Elyria OH), in the Cleveland market. Now he's departed that station, with no new plans yet announced.

Matthew O'Shaughnessy made headlines two decades ago when, as a teenager, he took to the airwaves of his father's station, then WRTN (93.5 New Rochelle), as the host of a show called "Midnight Metal." He's back at the stations now, hosting two shows - a talk show called "Matthew's World" on Monday mornings at 11 on WVOX (1460 New Rochelle) and a new version of "Metal Mayhem" on Friday evenings from 7-9 on WVIP (93.5 New Rochelle).

And we'd known Josh Lewin, who began his broadcast career calling games for our hometown Rochester Red Wings (he's also a fellow graduate of Brighton High School, a year ahead of your editor), was the TV voice of the Texas Rangers - but somewhere along the way, we missed his other gig, as the radio voice of the San Diego Chargers. He'll have a powerful new outlet for the broadcasts this fall, when the Bolts add Clear Channel's KLAC (570 Los Angeles) as an affiliate, reinforcing the team's status as the de facto local NFL team in a market that's long been without one.

*A big PD vacancy in MASSACHUSETTS has been filled: Mike Thomas, who's already PD of WZLX (100.7 Boston), adds the same duties at sister station WBCN (104.1 Boston), where Dave Wellington exited a week ago. And while we have no doubt Thomas will do a fine job at WBCN, we can't help but think back to those days, a little over a decade ago, when what was then Infinity brought longtime competitors WBCN and WZLX under the same ownership. Mel Karmazin was running the group then, and he vowed that the stations would be kept strictly separate - different staffs, separate studios and all that. Progress marches on!

Across town at WHDH-TV (Channel 7), it's the end of the line for general manager Randi Goldklank. She was suspended after that bizarre incident in April at Logan International Airport in which she was accused of drunkenly threatening several police officers; now she's entered a plea deal to charges stemming from that incident, and has resigned from WHDH. Former Channel 7 VP/GM Mike Carson continues to fill that post on an interim basis.

Worcester's WCRN (830) has completed its studio move, vacating its old digs at 1049 Main Street for new street-level studios on the Common at 82 Franklin Street, just down the block from the Telegram and Gazette and the old studios of competitor WTAG (580).

Out on the Cape, WOMR (92.1 Provincetown) is getting ready to launch a fundraising campaign to build out its new second service. Lower Cape Communications was recently granted a CP for WFMR (91.3) in Orleans, and the Boston Globe's Clea Simon reports there's a target date of October 2009 for the new signal, which may carry some new programming in addition to simulcasts of WOMR's own programming.

And congratulations to WARE (1250 Ware), which is celebrating its 60th birthday all summer. The station is broadcasting historical vignettes and doing prize giveaways through August, and it'll wrap up the celebration with a daylong party August 2 at Pulaski Park in Three Rivers, reports owner Marshall Sanft (aka Bruce Marshall).

*In VERMONT, there are some changes on the way at WEZF (92.9 Burlington). PD Gale Parmelee has departed "Star 92.9," and we understand Steve Cormier is handling those duties for the moment until a replacement is named. Meanwhile, former Star middayer Jenny Foxx is on the way back to the station after spending the last year or so at WTNN (97.5 Bristol); she'll be working off-air until her noncompete expires later this year.

*We can now put a price on Access.1's sale of most of its NEW JERSEY radio properties - the new Atlantic Broadcasting group is paying $9.5 million for WMGM (103.7 Atlantic City), WZXL (100.7 Wildwood), WTKU (98.3 Ocean City), WOND (1400 Pleasantville) and WTAA (1490 Pleasantville), plus Access.1's real estate in the market. That's a steep discount from what Access.1 paid just a few years ago, and we hear the company is now trying to sell its remaining properties in the market, primarily NBC affiliate WMGM-TV (Channel 40).

There's a call change in South Jersey, too: WXXY (88.7 Port Republic) is now WGXM, calls last seen in the Dayton, Ohio market a few years back.

*A PENNSYLVANIA newsman has resigned after accidentally carrying a loaded weapon into a courthouse. KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh) reporter Rob Milford was suspended after the incident last Monday, when he says he forgot that the gun was in his briefcase when he went through security at the Allegheny County Courthouse. But Milford also lacked a license to carry a concealed weapon, and by week's end he and KDKA had "come to a mutual agreement" on his departure.

Across town at KQV (1410 Pittsburgh), they're mourning anchor Steve Lohle, who suffered a fatal heart attack at his Beaver County home Friday morning. Lohle's radio roots were in Massachusetts, where he started his career in the late sixties at WQRC (99.9 Barnstable), then moved to Springfield's WMAS (1450)/WHVY (94.7). He came to KQV in 1974 and had been there ever since. Lohle was just 58.

There's another addition to the Ryan Seacrest syndication juggernaut: WAEB-FM (104.1 Allentown) picks up his LA-based "On Air" show for middays (noon-3), starting next Monday. That displaces PD Laura St. James to the 9-noon shift and music director Eric Chase to 3-7 PM, followed by "Grooves," who'll be voicetracking from sister station WIHT in Washington.

Seacrest has also landed at Clear Channel's Harrisburg cluster, where he'll be heard in middays on "Kiss" WHKF (99.3), after the "Dave and Jimmy Show" from CC's WNCI in Columbus, Ohio. Mike Miller moves from mornings on Kiss to afternoons, while PD JT Bosch moves from afternoons on Kiss to afternoons on "Bob" country WRBT (94.9). Bosch also takes the PD role at WRBT as Joe Kelly exits. Former Kiss morning co-host Emily exits as well.

There's a new signal on the air in Honesdale: Four Rivers Community Radio put WZZH (90.9) on the air last week, relaying the "Word FM" network from sister station WBYO (88.9 Sellersville) into the Scranton area.

*Yet another AM station in CANADA is applying to vacate the band. CKDH (900 Amherst) is one of only a half-dozen or so AM signals remaining in Nova Scotia, and now it, too, wants to make the move to FM. It's applying to go to 101.7, reports the Halifax Chronicle-Herald; we'll have technical details for you once the CRTC releases them.

We can now clarify some of the callsign confusion surrounding Moses Znaimer's classical signals in Toronto and Cobourg, Ontario: after initially applying to flip CFMX-FM (103.1 Cobourg) and CFMX-FM-1 (96.3 Toronto) to CFMZ and CFMZ-FM-1, respectively, then rescinding those new calls, they've settled on CFMZ for the Toronto signal and CFMX for Cobourg, reflecting the increasing split in programming between the two signals.

On the TV side, CKXT (Sun TV) has been granted permission to shift its Ottawa DTV signal from channel 62 to channel 20, sharing an antenna with TVOntario.

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!)

June 25, 2007 -

  • Add another to the list of job openings for talk hosts in MASSACHUSETTS - and this one's an especially sad one. As he continues to recuperate from his fourth brain surgery in less than three years, WBZ (1030 Boston) evening talk host Paul Sullivan announced last week that he's giving up the shift, which he inherited after the death of David Brudnoy in 2004.
  • In a letter to his listeners and colleagues, Sullivan wrote, "The toll my surgeries and treatments have taken on me makes it unlikely that I will ever have the energy to return to a four-hour daily talk radio program." He'll return to WBZ this Thursday night for a final "farewell" show, and he says he'll continue to be a presence on the station as much as he's able, whether through commentaries, website postings or occasional guest-hosting stints when he's feeling up to it.
  • We wish Sullivan all the best as he focuses on his fight against brain cancer, of course - and we wonder who WBZ will turn to as it tries, once again, to fill its 8 PM to midnight shift. For the moment, weekender Jordan Rich and WBZ-TV reporter Dan Rea have been covering his shift, but there's nothing to suggest Rea wants the shift full-time, and we'd suspect the station wants someone with deeper political roots than Rich. (2008 update: Shows how much we knew - the slot did go to Rea, whose "Nightside" show debuted several months later, after Sullivan's death.)
  • In MAINE, the movement of Citadel's WCYI (93.9 Lewiston) and WCLZ (98.9 Brunswick) into a trust pending sale meant a change of simulcasts last week: WCYI is now rebroadcasting the AAA sounds of WCLZ, instead of the modern rock of WCYY (94.3 Biddeford), which remained with Citadel. One exception to the simulcast: WCYI is carrying the Opie & Anthony morning show, while WCLZ isn't.
  • The Law of Program Director Conservation was in full play last week in NEW YORK. At CBS Radio's revived WXRK (92.3), the PD chair last occupied by John Mainelli (before the abrupt demise of "Free FM") was filled by Tracy Cloherty, a familiar name in Big Apple programming circles. Cloherty was PD of Emmis' WQHT (97.1) for many years, before retreating to a consulting role, and now she'll trade rap for rock as she moves uptown to K-Rock.
  • Meanwhile downtown at Emmis, WRKS (98.7) lost its PD. Toya Beasley, who's been with Kiss since 1989, and its PD since 1997, is - you guessed it - dropping back to a consultancy with the station. No replacement has been named yet.
  • The big news from PENNSYLVANIA is all about signal upgrades, starting with Greater Media's WJJZ (97.5 Burlington NJ), which flipped the switch last week on its new class B signal from the Wyndmoor tower just north of Philadelphia. It's now a 26 kW/682' signal with a directional notch to the northwest protecting WRVV (97.3 Harrisburg), and early reports suggest a much better signal in center city Philadelphia than 97.5 enjoyed from its old site in Trenton.

June 23, 2003 -

  • Nobody ever said working in radio was a stable career path - but last week was a particularly treacherous one for radio people all over NERW-land.
  • We'll start in NEW YORK, where WCBS-FM (101.1) broke even more dramatically from its long run as "WABC, Continued" - by parting ways with Dan Ingram. The WABC veteran had spent the last 12 years doing weekends on WCBS-FM - but when CBS-FM PD Joe McCoy came to him and asked him to give up the Saturday half of his shift to Dan Daniel, Ingram said no, and CBS-FM said "sayonara."
  • But if Ingram's crying in his "Tri-Fi Drums," he'll have plenty of company this week. Out on Long Island, talker WLIE (540 Islip) had some cost-cutting to do as well, axing Lynn Samuels from its weekend schedule - and, says Samuels on her Web site - cutting morning news anchor Tracy Burgess and midday talk host John Gomez from its schedule as well.
  • But wait - there's more. Over at Barnstable Broadcasting's Long Island cluster, operations manager Bill George was shown the door amidst a staff shuffle that moved Bill Edwards (longtime PD of WALK) from afternoons on WLVG (96.1 Center Moriches) to PD/afternoons on "K-JOY" WKJY (98.3 Hempstead), replacing Scott Miller - who heads out to WLVG for afternoons.
  • Still more? If you're a fan of shock talk radio, there is: WABC (770) pulled Michael Savage's Talk Radio Network show off its evening schedule, apparently as part of a dispute between Savage and ABC that began when ABC's KSFO (560 San Francisco) declined to meet Savage's contract renewal demands. Weekend guy Mark Levin is filling in on WABC's evening shift.
  • Up here in Rochester, we hear morning team Karlson & McKenzie cleaned out their desks at Infinity's WZNE (94.1 Brighton) on Friday; all mention of them has been purged from "The Zone"'s Web site, and you won't find any mention of WZNE on K&M's site, either. Could this have something to do with the noises the boys were making in the trades about syndicating their show? Stay tuned... (and yes, Boston readers - same Karlson & McKenzie who were on WEGQ for a little while in the nineties.)
  • Speaking of Rochester, WWWG (1460) has applied for new call letters when it flips to Catholic religious programming in a week or so. "WHIC" will be the new calls, and we've got to wonder whether that isn't a backhanded homage to the station's first 47 years on the air as WHEC...
  • Big doings in CANADA: Rogers is moving the "Mad Dog and Billie" morning show, last heard on CISS (92.5 Toronto) when it was still "Kiss," up the dial to CHFI (98.1), which gets a slightly harder musical edge as well.
  • And yes, that means more personnel changes: CHFI's morning team of Bob Magee and Erin Davis splits up, with Magee (who did the CHFI show solo last week) moving over to CISS under its new "Jack" identity and Davis being shown the door. On her Weblog, Davis says she's taking some time off and visiting family in British Columbia while figuring out what to do next.

June 23, 1998-

  • (No issue; NERW was on the road to Atlantic Canada)

You can sponsor this weekly feature! Click here for information!

NorthEast Radio Watch is made possible by the generous contributions of our regular readers. If you enjoy NERW, please click here to learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW is copyright 2008 by Scott Fybush.