July 21, 2008
Route 81 Stations Hit Financial Snag
TOWER SITE CALENDAR 2008 - ALMOST SOLD OUT!!!
*The lead financier behind Route 81, the
radio group that made a big impact in central PENNSYLVANIA
and upstate New York in recent years, has taken over operations
of the company's stations after a foreclosure sale last week.
owned 50% of Route 81's clusters in Elmira (WENY AM-FM, WENI
AM-FM, WCBA, WGMM), Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (WNAK, WCDL, WAZL,
WLNP), Carlisle (WHYL) and Coatesville (WCOJ); now its subsidiary
WS2K Acquisition has taken control of those stations in the wake
of last Monday's foreclosure.
The stations remain on the air under their current management,
though we hear there were some problems with last week's paychecks
clearing, leaving employees unpaid for several days; we're also
hearing there are new owners on the way to WHYL and WAZL. More
(There's a Massachusetts connection to WallerSutton as well;
in addition to Route 81, its other radio investment is in J Sports
LLC, owner of "ESPN Boston" WAMG 890/WLLH 1400.)
Forever is shuffling its simulcasts in Huntingdon, east of
Altoona. It's been a while since the AM/FM pair there has originated
its own programming; in 2004, WHUN (1150 Huntingdon) began simulcasting
news-talk WFBG (1290 Altoona), while the FM on 106.3, formerly
WQHG, shuffled through callsigns as it flipped from a simulcast
of oldies WALY (103.9 Bellwood) to "Froggy" country
from WFGY (98.1 Altoona). The 106.3 signal changed city of license
along the way, too; it's now WFZY, licensed to Mount Union. As
of last Monday, WHUN is relaying news-talk WRSC (1390 State College),
while WFZY is relaying classic rock WBUS (93.7 Boalsburg), with
new calls WBSS.
In Pittsburgh, Kiki is departing WAMO-FM (106.7 Beaver Falls)
after 12 years, most recently as midday jock.
Another Pittsburgh veteran is departing, too - Porky Chedwick,
"Your Daddio of the Radio," is moving to Florida now
that he's turned 90, and he said farewell to the Steel City in
a Friday morning broadcast on WKFB (770 Jeannette), his most
recent home on the Pittsburgh dial. PBRTV.com
reports that the indefatigable Chedwick is already talking about
starting a new show once he moves to Florida.
*WCBS-FM (101.1 NEW YORK) news director
morning newsman Al Meredith retired last week, ending a 44-year
career that started in Long Island at WGBB, WGSM, WGLI and WBLI.
Meredith had been with WCBS-FM for 28 years, remaining as public
service director during the "Jack FM" interregnum that
ended a year ago last week and returning to the morning airwaves
when "CBS-FM" relaunched.
Over at Clear Channel's "Power 105" (WWPR 105.1),
Geespin is the new APD/music director - but he's not leaving
his colleagues at WJMN (94.5 Boston) behind. Just as Cadillac
Jack is now serving as PD for both WJMN and WWPR, Geespin will
continue to be "mix show coordinator" for the Boston
station, and he'll be heard in overnights on both stations as
*In Syracuse, the turbulent morning slot at WAQX (95.7 Manlius)
is once again vacant. Citadel imported the syndicated "Opie
and Anthony" show at many of its rock stations around the
country two summers ago, but it left the Alabama-based "Beaner
and Ken" in place on 95X until January 2007, when it installed
O&A in the morning drive slot that Howard Stern had called
home until 2004. (Back then, O&A had appeared on 95X for
a short period immediately after Citadel pulled Stern off the
air, in a day-delayed edited version of their satellite radio
Turns out Syracuse was no friendlier to O&A than it had
been to Beaner and Ken; as of last Monday, the boys from New
York are off the air in the Salt City. CNYRadio.com
reports that PD Alexis shifted from middays to mornings for a
few days to cover, and now Paulie Scibilia is handling mornings
"for the foreseeable future."
another Citadel connection to all of this: as they were complaining
on-air last week about being dropped from 95X, Opie and Anthony
mentioned that they came close to losing their clearance in Buffalo,
where they replaced the longtime WEDG (103.3) morning team of
Shredd and Ragan in 2006. They're still at WEDG, doing afternoons
- was a return to morning drive being considered there?
In the Utica market, WOKR (93.5 Remsen) is applying for an
upgrade; it hopes to move from its current 1150 watts/748' from
Starr Hill, west of Remsen, to 3 kW/472' from a new tower in
East Floyd, east of Rome and north of Utica. The new WOKR signal
would be city-grade over Utica, which is now served by a translator,
In Rochester, cutbacks at Stephens Media left Danni, who'd
been PD/middays at WZNE (94.1 Brighton), out of a job when she
returned from vacation; Terese Taylor adds PD duties at "The
Zone" to her existing PD responsibilities for sister stations
WRMM (Warm 101.3) and WFKL (Fickle 93.3). Stephens, incidentally,
just closed last week on its $13.25 million purchase of the three
stations from Entercom; it had been operating them under an LMA.
Where are they now? Kendis Gibson, who got his first big career
break a decade or so ago at Rochester's WHEC (Channel 10), is
moving from E! to San Diego's new Fox affiliate, where he'll
be part of an expanded news team as Tribune's KSWB (Channel 69)
segues from CW to Fox early next month.
And we're sorry to report the death of Bobby Murcer, who followed
a long career in the outfield for the Yankees, Cubs and Giants
with a second career as an analyst on Yankees broadcasts on radio
and TV from 1983 until a brain tumor incapacitated him last year.
Murcer was 62 when he died at his Oklahoma home on July 12.
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.
*A NEW JERSEY morning show is returning
to the Garden State airwaves. "Dave and Jerry" left
WTKU (98.3 Ocean City) a couple of years ago; now David Allen
Pratt (who was doing fill-in at WFPG-FM and WPUR) and Jerry Beebe
are returning to the oldies station where they'd been working
for well over a decade before they departed.
longtime anchor of NJN's daily newscast is retiring. Kent Manahan
has been with the statewide public TV network for 31 years, most
of that time as anchor of the nightly NJN News. Now she's
taking advantage of a state employee retirement program, which
could lead to her departure as early as August 1, unless the
state agrees to extend the deadline. NJN news director Bill Jobes
is also retiring at the end of July.
*In CONNECTICUT, Tribune is dramatically
increasing the news presence at WTIC-TV (Channel 61). By the
end of the month, the Fox affiliate will start its morning newscast
at 4:30, 90 minutes earlier than it presently begins, and will
run the newscast until 9 AM instead of 8. WTIC-TV is also planning
a half-hour 11 PM newscast to complement its existing 10 PM show;
it plans to add as many as 25 new staffers to handle the expansion,
reports Hartford Business.
*Syndicated morning host Big Boy will take
his "neighborhood" to RHODE ISLAND Wednesday
to celebrate one of his new affiliates: Citadel's WWKX (106.3
Woonsocket) is picking up the show, hot on the heels of its debut
today at New York's WQHT (97.1). Kerry Collins moves from mornings
at WWKX back to nights at sister station WPRO-FM (92.3 Providence).
WELH (88.1 Providence) is getting more power. The Wheeler
School-owned station has been granted a construction permit to
upgrade from its present 100 watts/66' to 1.2 kW/256', directional,
from the WNAC-TV tower in Rehoboth, MA. The new signal, like
the old one, will be vertical-only - but that could change (and
WELH could get a power boost) when WLNE-TV signs its analog channel
6 signal off the air in February 2009.
And we note the passing of Thomas DeAngelis, better known
as "Tommy Isuzu" to listeners of WALE and WICE over
the years. His unusual nickname came from his day job as a car
dealer; he died Tuesday (July 15) at age 50.
*Two MASSACHUSETTS radio giants are being
inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago this fall. Jess
Cain, iconic morning host at WHDH for decades, will enter the
hall posthumously, while Howie Carr of WRKO will get to enjoy
the honor in person, having edged out Chicago's Steve Dahl and
Howard Stern himself for the honor.
*St. Lawrence University's North Country
Public Radio (based at WSLU 89.5 Canton NY) is jumping Lake Champlain
to add a signal in VERMONT. It's been granted a CP for
160 watts, directional, on 90.5 in Vergennes. Vermont Public
Radio withdrew a rival application for the frequency, which will
serve the central portion of Lake Champlain but will not put
a signal into Burlington, already served by NCPR's WXLU (88.1
Peru NY). North Country was granted another CP last week as well,
on 88.1 in Cape Vincent, New York.
*It's a bit warm to be thinking about hockey,
even in NEW HAMPSHIRE, but the AHL's Manchester Monarchs
are staying busy in the off-season. They've just signed a two-year
deal to move their games from Clear Channel's WGIR (610) to Absolute
Broadcasting's WGAM (1250 Manchester)/WGHM (900 Nashua). Games
will move to sister station WSMN (1590 Nashua) if there's a conflict
with the Red Sox in the spring.
WGIR, meanwhile, has signed with Learfield Sports to carry
University of New Hampshire sports this fall, including full
seasons of football and men's hockey and partial coverage of
men's and women's basketball and women's hockey.
On the Seacoast, EMF has pulled the plug on the two on-channel
boosters that used to relay the former WMEX (106.5 Farmington),
now "Air 1" outlet WNHI. WNHI-FM-1 was in Gilford,
while WNHI-FM-2 was atop the old WMEX studios in downtown Rochester;
both licenses have been returned and cancelled.
*In MAINE, Saga has finally won license
renewals for WBAE (1490 Portland) after a delay of almost four
years. What held things up? Letters from two listeners complaining
about the station's preemption of its usual Music of Your Life
format to carry Portland Sea Dogs baseball. The FCC reminded
the complaining listeners that it doesn't interfere in stations'
*There's a PD move in CANADA: Pete
Travers makes the long drive up the 401 and the 416 from CFCA
(Kool 105.3)/CKKW (Oldies 1090) in Kitchener, Ontario to CKQB
(106.9 the Bear) in Ottawa.
And we've just received word that a veteran CRTC staffer is
retiring. While CRTC headquarters are in Gatineau, Quebec, the
hub of the nation's broadcasting industry is in Toronto, and
so the CRTC's regional office there is among the agency's busiest.
For many years now, the face of the CRTC in Toronto was Margaret
Kennedy, and while her official title was "administrator,
CRTC client services," her real role was as a jack-of-all-trades,
connecting broadcasters, would-be broadcasters and the public
with the documents and information they needed. Kennedy is retiring
on Wednesday, and she will be missed greatly by the entire industry.
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!)
July 16, 2007 -
- It was a huge week in broadcasting at both ends of the Boston-New
York axis, and if you're looking for the big developments from
the Big Apple, you may want to keep scrolling down a bit - we're
leading off this week with some even bigger surprises from eastern
- The first came on the radio side of things, when lawyers
for veteran WRKO (680 Boston) afternoon talk host Howie Carr
announced last Monday that he would leave the Entercom talk station
when his contract expires September 19. Instead, Carr's representatives
said, the Boston Herald columnist would take over the morning
shift formerly occupied by Don Imus on Greater Media's WTKK (96.9
Boston), the FM talker that's been rapidly eroding the comfortable
hold WRKO once had on the city's talk audience. For Carr, the
move would mean head-to-head competition with WRKO's floundering
Tom Finneran morning show - not to mention a higher salary, a
more prominent role in a WTKK lineup that's live and local most
of the day, and no more pre-emptions for afternoon Red Sox games.
For Entercom, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars to
renew its deal with the Red Sox in part to provide a promotional
boost for the WRKO lineup, Carr's departure is a potential disaster,
since his show represented the biggest revenue draw on the talk
station's schedule (as well as a lucrative syndication offering
to other stations around New England.)
- As news of Carr's planned move splashed across the headlines
in Boston, things started getting even testier. WRKO, which apparently
had declined to exercise a one-year renewal clause in Carr's
contract, told the Globe that it had the right to match any offer
Carr received from Greater Media. Carr's lawyers responded with
a lawsuit seeking to declare that clause unenforceable, thanks
to the state's new ban on non-compete contracts - and they noted
that while WRKO was willing to match WTKK's salary offer, it
couldn't match the other terms of the new deal, most notably
the morning slot on the FM dial. Carr was off the air at WRKO
for most of the week, but returned on Thursday with a prepared
statement that had been drafted for him to read. Any illusion
that Carr might have agreed with the words he was reading ("My
job is to provide you with the most entertaining and compelling
show that I can do each day, not to discuss my personal matters")
was carefully shattered with a few "it says here" comments
inserted in the reading - and at week's end, the only certainties
were that the lawyers on both sides will be paying for plenty
of summers on Cape Cod with whatever time they'll lose this summer
hashing this mess out, and that we'll be hearing a lot more about
Carr's planned move in the next few weeks.
- Even as Carr's news was all over the papers and websites
Tuesday, an even more veteran Boston broadcaster was making headlines
of her own. Natalie Jacobson, who's been part of the news team
at WCVB (Channel 5) since the station's first day on the air
more than 35 years ago, announced that she'll retire from the
Hearst-Argyle ABC affiliate after next Wednesday's 6 PM newscast.
Jacobson has been an anchor on WCVB since 1976, much of that
time spent sharing the anchor desk at 6 and 11 with her former
husband, Chet Curtis. He moved to New England Cable News after
their 2001 divorce, while Jacobson slowly eased back on her workload
at Channel 5, giving up the 11 PM newscast and concentrating
on the 6, which she'd been co-anchoring with Ed Harding. Jacobson,
63, told the Globe that she'd been contemplating retirement for
a while, and that her decision not to seek renewal of her contract
at the end of July came as a surprise to WCVB management when
she informed them in late June. We're hearing, though, that the
decision may not have been Jacobson's - and the rather abrupt
timing of her departure would seem to bear that out. (On the
other hand, WCVB has no designated successor to Jacobson, and
it will rotate reporters in her anchor chair for a while.)
- There was just one big radio story in NEW YORK last week,
of course, and we pointed the NERW-mobile south and east for
the day on Thursday so we could be there as WCBS-FM (101.1 New
York) relegated "Jack FM" to its HD2 subchannel and
brought the oldies - beg pardon, the "classic hits"
back to the main FM channel they'd occupied from 1972 until the
abrupt switch to "Jack" in June 2005. That format change
two years ago took place with no advance warning and no fanfare,
but this time was different. Outside in Times Square, we spotted
one lone CBS-FM fan holding a "welcome back" sign (with
"Hit the Road, Jack" on the flip side), an echo of
the street protests that quickly formed back in 2005 to protest
the format flip.
- Up on the 40th floor of the Viacom building at 1515 Broadway,
guests stepping off the elevators saw no sign of "Jack"
- just the new-old WCBS-FM logo all over the place, and more
than a few magnets and stickers bearing the 2005-era logo adorning
cubicles and filing cabinets as well. In the sales office, there
was food (including an authentic New York hot dog cart) for invited
guests and top CBS Radio management, at a level rarely seen for
your usual format change. That included programming VP Greg Strassell,
engineering honcho Glynn Walden - and, of course, Dan Mason,
the CBS Radio president who's set in motion a whole series of
changes since returning to that post a few months ago, including
this format flip.
- At 12:40, general manager Jennifer Donohue (below, left)
and PD Brian Thomas (in the background, below left) entered the
air studio to administer the last rites, as it were, to Jack.
After a series of joking liners during the last day in which
"Jack" (voiced by Canadian VO artist Howard Cogan)
gets flowers from Bob Shannon ("Who's Bob Shannon?")
and an unexpected delivery of moving boxes, the final "Jack"
bit found him on the phone with Tony Soprano - and after an abrupt
"gotta go," the strains of Journey's "Don't Stop
Believin'" blasted from the speakers, the room applauded,
and Jack was off to HD2 retirement. In good "Sopranos"
finale fashion, the Journey tune abruptly cut off before its
end - and the next sounds heard on 101.1 were radio static, the
noise of a jukebox coming up to speed, and the strains of Frank
Sinatra singing "Summer Wind," the infamous last song
played on the old CBS-FM back in 2005. That, in turn, gave way
to a long montage of songs, soundbites and news clips tracking
the years from 1964 into the eighties, and as the montage plays
on, the crowd in the studio kept growing.
- As 1:01 PM approached, the montage wrapped up with a greeting
from former mayor Ed Koch, acknowledging how rare it is for a
big corporation to admit it "blew it," followed by
"I Love New York" and the booming WCBS-FM legal ID,
voiced - just as in the old days - by Ziggie Pelzer. The room
cheered, the Beach Boys' "Do It Again" started playing,
Shannon started dancing, and CBS-FM was back on the air.
July 21, 2003 -
- A short column this week (is everyone away on vacation?)
- but some big news to tell you about in MASSACHUSETTS: Sporting
News Radio laid off about 20 staffers at its struggling WWZN
(1510 Boston) last week, axing its morning show and its ties
to the Boston Globe in the process. Among the layoffs announced
Friday were morning hosts Kevin Winter and Holden Kushner, who
had been doing that shift with Ryen Russillo. Russillo stays
with WWZN as part of an expanded "Die Hards" afternoon
show (with current hosts Anthony Pepe and Mike Winn); Eddie Andelman
and Dave Jageler stay on board as well with their noon-3 PM show,
and the station still has the Celtics' broadcast rights. Other
than those shows, though, WWZN will now be a relay of Sporting
News' national network programming...and Boston has never been
a kind market to nationally syndicated sports talk.
- In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Barry Lunderville is about to add another
station to his growing holdings, as he gets ready to take over
operation of WMOU (1230 Berlin) from Steven Griffin's Jericho
Broadcasting. Lunderville, who owns WLTN (1400 Littleton), WLTN-FM
(96.7 Lisbon) and WXXS (102.3 Lancaster), tells the Berlin Daily
Sun that he had the chance to buy WMOU three years ago and regretted
passing it up. He'll take over with an LMA from Jericho on July
28, adding a simulcast of WLTN-FM's morning show (with local
inserts); it appears that WMOU's long-running "Forum"
talk show may be over, now that host Rod Ross has left the station
and moved to Florida.
- We'll start our NEW YORK report way out on the East End of
Long Island, where WWHL (92.9 Southampton) changed calls to WHBE
last week. 92.9 is still carrying the AAA programming of "EHM,"
while WEHM (96.7 East Hampton) itself has flipped to Bloomberg
business news. A call swap is expected; meantime, the WEHM Web
site is a confusing mess, with graphics that still proclaim "96-7
EHM" and text that reads "92-9"...
- In CANADA, CIZN (92.9 Cambridge ON) quietly left the air
on Sunday afternoon (7/20), making way for the Monday morning
debut of its new incarnation as CJDV (107.5), with higher power
and less interference from Buffalo's WBUF - and a new format,
too. "Dave 107.5 FM" is playing "80s, 90s and
whatever," the latest take on the Canadian trend towards
classic hits/hot AC mixes, as seen in Ottawa, Toronto and elsewhere
on similar stations branded as "Jack" and "Bob."
Will the trend head south of the border? We'll be keeping an
eye on it...
- Up in Cottage Country, new CKHA (100.9 Halliburton) signed
on over the weekend, playing a wide variety of music with a staff
of community volunteers. It's calling itself "Canoe FM,"
July 18, 1998-
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- Can you say "rat's ass" on the radio in Boston?
It's a safe bet that the folks at CBS-owned WBCN (104.1) wouldn't
give a you-know-what if Howard Stern used the phrase in the morning
-- but it was enough to end Bob Lobel's career on the radio side
of (also CBS-owned) WBZ last Sunday. The WBZ-TV (Channel 4) sportscaster
was hosting his weekly call-in show with Upton Bell when prolific
caller "Butch from the Cape" dialed up to offer his
comments about the World Cup, including the observation that
most native-born Americans probably don't give a -- yes, that
phrase -- about the competition.
- Within seconds, the "batphone" at 1170 Soldiers
Field was ringing, as program director Peter Casey ordered "Butch"
to be cut off the air. And that was all it took for Lobel to
leave the show. In following days, both sides of the controversy
took to the pages of Boston newspapers (and to the mailing list
associated with NERW) to make their cases. Lobel says he was
"censored," while Casey argues that WBZ is a family
radio station that shouldn't tolerate the use of such language
on the air.
- In any event, Lobel and Bell have been replaced with Steve
DeOssie and Dan Roche for the time being, and "Butch"
says he's taken WBZ off his speed-dial. As for us here at NERW,
we'll keep you updated if we decide we give a -- oh, never mind!
- Could Entercom become the new owner of WRKO, WEEI, WEGQ,
and WAAF? The radio trades were abuzz this week with rumors that
CBS may swap the stations to Entercom, which has no Boston presence
right now. Meantime at WBMX (98.5), the only ARS station CBS
is keeping in Boston, APD/MD Michelle Engel departs for a PD
gig out West at CBS's KBBT in Portland.
- Lowell may soon be home to a 24-hour Portuguese station,
albeit without a license. We're hearing rumors that a "WKNM"
will start broadcasting August 2 at 1570 kHz.
- One big piece of news in MAINE this week, as Mariner Broadcasting
completes its set of the Pine Tree State's classical outlets,
with the purchase of WAVX (106.9 Thomaston) from Jon LeVeen.
Mariner put WBQQ (99.3 Kennebunk) on the air a few years back,
and just took over WPKM (106.3 Scarborough), flipping it to WBQW
and a simulcast of "W-Bach." LeVeen tells NERW he's
not sure whether Mariner will continue originating programming
at WAVX, or whether it will become a third simulcast.
- Bowing to what we're sure was massive pressure to take its
brokered-talk format nationwide, WALE (990) in Providence, RHODE
ISLAND is now being heard in Arizona as well. Owner Francis Battaglia
just bought KCCF (1100 Cave Creek), and as of this week, the
Phoenix-market signal has flipped from adult standards (locally-programmed,
no less) to WALE's "Renaissance Radio" mixture of UFO
talk, health nostrums, and offbeat politics. We hear much of
the programming is coming to KCCF by ordinary phone lines.
- Call letter changes: WMKB (96.9 Ridgebury PA) in the Elmira
market will become WMTT under its new owner, WDBA (107.3 Du Bois).
The WMTT calls were last heard in the region on 100.5 in Conklin
NY, now WCDW, when it was simulcasting "The Met" classic
rock format with WPHD (94.7 Tioga PA) in the Elmira market. And
Lyle Robert Evans' new 94.1 in Old Forge will be WDLS, calls
last seen on 93.7 in Dallas PA.
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2008 by Scott Fybush.