September 22, 2008
Lobel's Radio Days
*When former WBZ-TV sportscaster Bob Lobel
and WODS (103.3 Boston) afternoon jock Karen Blake teamed up
for a brief stint as guest hosts of WODS' morning show a few
months ago, it's a good bet that nobody listening (and perhaps
not even Lobel and Blake themselves) expected the pairing to
may still be a bit of a stretch - but starting today, Lobel and
Blake will take over from Dale Dorman (now relegated to Saturday
duty, beginning next weekend) as the new morning team on "Oldies
What's going on over at 83 Leo Birmingham Parkway? The message
boards and mailing lists were alight with speculation over the
weekend, up to and including the idea (improbable, we'd think)
that Lobel, along with the Patriots and Bruins rights that CBS
holds on its other Boston stations, could be the building blocks
of a new all-sports station on 103.3.
CBS itself isn't saying much beyond the suggestion that the
presence of Lobel, who's been on the beach since being bought
out of his WBZ-TV contract last year, may be only in a "guest
host" role - which, of course, only fuels speculation about
what PD Jay Beau Jones might have in mind over the long term.
Playing into that speculation are a few more moves: J.J. Wright
appears to be Blake's replacement in afternoons, and former evening
jock Patrick Callahan just returned to the station last week,
after budget cuts claimed his job back in February. (He'd been
over at Greater Media's WROR in the meantime.) Oh, and out in
Worcester, morning co-host Chris Zito disappeared from Citadel's
WXLO (104.5 Fitchburg) late last week - and did we mention that
Jay Beau Jones used to program WXLO before moving to WODS?
*In other news from eastern MASSACHUSETTS, budget cuts
hit hard at Metro Networks' Boston office early last week, claiming
the jobs of about half a dozen staffers, including Joe Stapleton,
who'd been with Metro for 23 years. Mauzy Stafford, who'd been
heard in mornings on WODS, Chris Fama and news director Bob MacNeil
lost their jobs as well.
Some good news? Sure - Entercom's WEEI took home "Sports
Station of the Year" in the NAB's Marconi Radio Awards,
handed out at last week's NAB Radio Show down in Austin, Texas.
Across the hall at the Radio and Records convention, CBS
Radio's WBMX won "best hot AC station," while music
director Mike Mullaney won the "music director of the year"
honors. Congratulations, all around...
*A venerable VERMONT station brand
is back on the air in the Burlington market, as Vox's WXZO (96.7
Willsboro NY) flipped last Wednesday (Sep. 17) at 9 AM from talker
"the Zone" to oldies as "True Oldies 96.7 DOT-FM."
Vox honcho Ken Barlow for this one - the original WDOT (then
on 1400, now WCAT 1390) was one of his first stops in the business
as a young DJ, and the new DOT-FM brings together several WDOT
alumni: after Don Imus (who stays on from the old format), it's
Dave Hunter from 9 AM-noon, Barlow from noon-4 PM, Big John Hill
from 4-7 PM, and then ABC's True Oldies (last heard in the market
on Vox's WVTK 92.1) with Scott Shannon at night. Another WDOT
veteran, R.J. Potter, is doing weekends.
The "Zone" talk format stays in place on the AM
side of the former simulcast, WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY) and WTSJ
(1320 Randolph), and the WXZO calls will stay in place on 96.7.
That's because the WDOT calls are in use elsewhere in Vermont
- on 95.7 in Danville, part of the "Point" AAA simulcast
owned by one of Vox's competitors, Steven Silberberg, who also
owns DOT-FM's oldies competition in the Burlington market, WXAL
(93.7 Addison), as well as WCAT, the former WDOT itself.
And a correction - WJPK (100.3 Barton) is indeed on the air
playing country, but it's actually "Hot New Country,"
as "Kix 100.3," simulcasting sister station WKXH (105.5
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*Another MAINE TV station has turned
off its analog signal. WPME (Channel 35) pulled the plug on its
analog transmitter on Wednesday (Sept. 17), running a slate directing
viewers to WPME-DT.
The callsigns are spinning at Atlantic Coast Broadcasting's
Portland-market stations as they settle in with their new formats:
the former WLOB-FM (96.3 Gray) is now WJJB-FM, reflecting its
mve from the WLOB talk format (still heard on WLOB 1310 Portland)
to the "Big Jab" sports network. The former WJJB-FM
(95.5 Topsham) took the calls WUEI on Sept. 5, then flipped again
to WGEI on Sept. 12. It's now part of the WEEI sports network,
and it's being simulcast on 95.9 in Saco, which inexplicably
changed calls from WRED(FM) to WRED-FM on Sept. 9, and which
has not yet legally changed to the WPEI calls it apparently intends
And Nassau is putting
the word out about its big format shuffle, set to happen
October 2: classical "W-Bach" will move from WBQQ (99.3
Kennebunk) and WBQW (106.3 Scarborough) to what's now "Bone"
rocker WHXQ (104.7 Kennebunkport); "Bone" will move
to the 106.3 Scarborough facility (still simulcasting with WHXR
106.7 North Windham), while 99.3 will become a simulcast of Nassau's
"Wolf" country WTHT (99.9 Auburn).
*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Gary James has
departed WNTK (99.7 New London)/WUVR (1490 Lebanon) after a brief
stint as host of the "Wake Up New Hampshire" morning
show. James, who'd been running WMEX (106.5 Farmington) before
that station was sold, will be focusing on his DJ/entertainment
business (on the web at GJamesShow.com),
while former Congressional candidate Grant Bosse and weekend
host Bridget Leroy take over as interim co-hosts at WNTK.
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*When the FCC sits down for an open commission
meeting on Thursday, one of the topics on the agena is the protest
filed by some Ithaca radio listeners to what they see as excessive
media consolidation in that small upstate NEW YORK city.
As of this past Thursday (Sept. 18) at 5 PM, Ithaca's dominant
radio cluster, the 2 AM/3 FM Saga Communications group, has some
new commercial competition - Finger Lakes Radio Group's WFIZ
(95.5 Odessa), playing top 40 as "Z-95.5, Ithaca's Hit Music
readers know, this is the former WFLR-FM (95.9 Dundee), now relocated
to Connecticut Hill, overlooking Ithaca, with studios in the
South Hill Business Campus on Danby Road. While WFIZ kicks off
its debut with 10,000 songs in a row, sans commercials or jocks,
WFLR-FM's country format has completed its move to WFLR (1570
Dundee) and FM translator W245BL (96.9 Dundee), imaging as "Country
96.9 and 1570."
The debut of WFIZ also means a venerable Ithaca translator
has to move - W238AA (95.5), which now relays WHCU (870), slides
up the dial to 95.9.
*Veteran Buffalo jock Harv Moore has lost his latest job,
as morning co-host at WECK (1230 Cheektowaga), to budget cuts.
Lorraine O'Donnell joins the talk station to co-host mornings
with Tom Donohue; meanwhile, at sister station WLVL (1340 Lockport),
Doug Young is out as news director.
In Syracuse, Galaxy's "K-Rock" (WKRL 100.9 North
Syracuse/WKRH 106.5 Minetto and Utica-market WKLL 94.9 Frankfort)
has found a replacement for departing PD Ty. While she heads
down to the Baltimore market and WCHH (Channel 104.3), "Nixon"
is heading in the other direction, moving from assistant PD/music
director/afternoons at WQXA-FM (105.7 York PA) to the PD chair
at K-Rock. (Useless trivia - reverse QXA's call letters and you
have K-Rock's main Syracuse competition, WAQX...)
Galaxy is selling an Oswego translator: W291BU (106.1) has
been relaying "TK105.5" WTKV (105.5 Oswego), but now
it's being sold to M&D Translator for $5,000.
In Albany, Sherman Baldwin is the new PD at WROW (590), taking
the role last filled on a full-time basis by Scott Allen Miller.
After Miller's departure in June, morning co-host Jackie Donovan
was apparently handling programming duties at the station; now
she'll be focusing on the morning show she hosts with Steve Van
Zandt; Baldwin will take the afternoon air shift that was home
to Sacramento-based Mark Williams until last week. Baldwin comes
to WROW from WUPE in the Berkshires, and he's promising to bring
a liberal perspective to the station, which has been sparring
with upstart competitor WGDJ (1300 Rensselaer) and Clear Channel's
established WGY (810 Schenectady) for the talk audience.
As we'd predicted last week, the WZCC calls that temporarily
resided on the new 1400 construction permit in Middletown are
gone - Bud Williamson has moved those down to 1240 in Cross City,
Florida, bringing the WMJQ calls from Cross City back up to the
Empire State. (Those calls have heritage in both the Rochester
and Buffalo markets, and had been on another unbuilt Williamson
CP, for 1330 in Ontario, NY.)
Where are they now? Lloyd Lindsay Young, whose flowery weather
forecasts were a staple on New York's Channel 9 (WWOR) in the
eighties, was most recently seen at KERO-TV (Channel 23) in Bakersfield,
California - but now he's disappeared from KERO's airwaves. Young
tells the Bakersfield Californian that he's leaving the
city, but hopes to stay in the business. He's still being heard
on radio, at least at last check, on San Francisco's KGO (810).
Tony Brunton, who was one of the original reporters on the
WCBS (880) team when the station flipped to all-news in 1967,
died Sept. 14 at 76. Brunton started out in news at WICC (600
Bridgeport CT) in 1956, and he came to WCBS in 1964. In later
years, he served as director of special-event coverage for CBS
And while this column has made no secret over the years of
our baseball leanings (Go Sox!), we can't let the week go by
without a farewell to the spot where so much Red Sox history
happened. The last game at Yankee Stadium Sunday night gave broadcasters
a chance to shine - not only the WCBS (880) team of Suzyn Waldman
and John Sterling, who got the chance for one last "Thuuuuuuuuh
Yankees Win!" call from the old stadium, but also the YES
Network's Michael Kay. Even though the game coverage was on ESPN,
that network graciously invited Kay to call the seventh inning
from its booth, a classy note on a very classy night for a team
that may not be heading to the postseason, but is certainly honoring
its history with grace and style. (Now, about those Tampa Bay
PENNSYLVANIA's public broadcaster is expanding. Harrisburg-based
WITF (89.5) hopes to fill a void in the Chambersburg area, where
the only strong public radio signal is WGMS (89.1 Hagerstown
MD), which relays all-classical WETA (90.9 Washington DC). To
bring NPR news and talk into the region, WITF is paying Bob Stevens'
Broadcast Communications Inc. $875,000 for the license of what's
now WROG (102.9 Cumberland MD).
WROG signed off from Cumberland a month ago to make room for
a signal upgrade at Stevens' WANB-FM (103.1 Waynesburg), and
Stevens now holds a construction permit to move the WROG license
to Chambersburg, downgrading it to a class A signal which WITF
will use as a news-talk station.
The move will displace W227BZ, a translator for low-power
WRZO-LP (102.9) in Chambersburg - but the LPFM station says that's
not a problem, because the translator was there primarily to
alleviate interference to WRZO from WROG, and with WROG gone
from 102.9, that's no longer an issue.
We're sure WITF will find a welcoming audience in Chambersburg
for its programming - but not, apparently, among the online readers
of the local paper, the Public Opinion, who were weighing
in with some nasty
comments on the paper's message board last week. (And you
wonder why we don't have a message board here at NERW?)
Over in York, Citadel made some cutbacks at WSBA (910): morning
co-host Dennis Edwards and news director Cathy Clark are both
gone, Edwards after 10 years and Clark after more than 20.
*In NEW JERSEY, last Monday (Sept.
15) brought Catholic programming to WBUD (1260 Trenton) - and
new calls, as well: it's now WFJS, honoring the late Archbishop
Fulton J. Sheen (who was, we'd note parochially, bishop of the
Rochester diocese as well as the first prominent Catholic TV
Millennium kept the WBUD calls in house, however - they've
migrated up the dial and over to the shore, replacing WADB on
1310 in Asbury Park, which continues as a Fox Sports outlet.
in Cape May County, WSJQ (106.7 North Cape May) changed calls
to WKOE in August - and now it's changed format as well, flipping
on Friday to country as "Coast Country 106.7." The
syndicated "John Boy & Billy" show now occupies
morning drive there.
*Radio People on the Move
in southern New England: Chris Eagan moves from WPRO-FM (92.3)
in Providence, RHODE ISLAND to WEZN-FM (Star 99.9) in
Bridgeport, CONNECTICUT, becoming assistant PD and afternoon
drive jock and replacing former New York talent Steven E. Roy
on that airshift.
*Another quiet week in CANADA, though
we can report calls for the new blues station that will soon
appear at 101.9 on the Ottawa dial: "Dawg FM" will
be CIDG when it signs on next year.
Out in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia (50 km west of Truro, on the
north shore of the Bay of Fundy), the CRTC has approved a new
50-watt community radio station. The Parrsboro Radio Society
will operate the station at 99.1, programming a pop/country/folk
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!)
September 24, 2007 -
- A MASSACHUSETTS judge barred WRKO (680 Boston) Howie Carr
from jumping ship to rival talker WTKK (96.9 Boston) last week,
but the decision didn't make the host's future much clearer.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Allan van Gessel ruled Wednesday,
just hours before Carr was to have started his WTKK morning shift,
that while WRKO owner Entercom couldn't enforce the non-compete
clause in Carr's contract, it could enforce a clause that allowed
WRKO to match any competing offer for Carr's services.
- What does "match" mean? There's the seven-million-dollar
question as the legal battle keeps plodding along: would merely
matching WTKK's paycheck be enough to force Carr to stay with
WRKO, or are there other factors at play, too, such as the Red
Sox preemptions that have annoyed Carr all summer, not to mention
WTKK's FM signal and the conspicuous absence of Carr's nemesis
Tom Finneran over at the Greater Media talker. In any case, WRKO
succeeded in barring Carr from his scheduled Thursday morning
debut on WTKK, but for now that's the extent of the victory.
Carr was already off the air at WRKO last week while the lawsuit
was being heard, and he's not rushing back to the WRKO studios
now, either, which leaves substitute hosts filling the afternoon
slot both there and on the remaining affiliates of Carr's syndicated
- Over at WTKK, the picture's only marginally brighter. While
the station issued a statement saying "we are disappointed
that Howie will not be on WTKK tomorrow, but we are hopeful that
he will be a part of the Greater Media family in the very near
future," there's every reason to expect Entercom to drag
the legal wrangling out as long as possible, which leaves WTKK
filling its morning drive slot with substitute hosts as well.
That's Michael Graham, for the moment, with weekender Michelle
McPhee handling Graham's usual 10-noon slot.
- A venerable NEW HAMPSHIRE callsign is no more. The WKBR calls
survived well over half a century of radio turbulence, moving
from 1240 to 1250, going silent for a while in the nineties,
and enduring a merry-go-round of owners and formats in recent
years. Now "The Game," as the Manchester sports station
is known, has dropped its heritage calls, becoming WGAM. Those
calls move from Absolute Broadcasting's sister station on 900
in Nashua (itself a survivor of gale-force radio turbulence in
recent decades), which becomes WGHM.
- Our NEW YORK news begins out on eastern Long Island, where
the end of business talk on WBZB (98.5 Westhampton) and its call
change to WBON was followed by a one-day simulcast with sister
station WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays) - and then by Thursday's launch
of "La Nueva Fiesta," with a Spanish tropical format
under the programming and operations helm of New York/Long Island
radio veteran Vic Latino.
- In Albany, AllAccess reports that Paul Vandenburgh has departed
Pamal's WROW (590) as PD and morning man after a decade at the
station - and that WROW is now looking for a replacement. Could
Vandenburgh be headed back to his old stomping grounds, the former
WQBK (1300 Rensselaer, now WTMM) to relaunch it for Regent as
a talker after the collapse of its short-lived "Eve"
- Now that Moses Znaimer has sold his TV holdings, he's starting
to build a radio empire in CANADA. In addition to CFMX (103.1
Cobourg/96.3 Toronto), the classical music station he recently
bought and relaunched under new calls CFMZ, Znaimer announced
last week that his MZMedia group is buying CHWO (740 Toronto),
the 50,000-watt adult standards station that's widely heard up
and down the East Coast. The sale ends more than half a century
of Caine family ownership of CHWO, in both its original incarnation
as a local Oakville station on 1250 (that facility's now religious
CJYE, still held by the Caines) and, since 2000, on the 740 signal
that used to be the CBC's flagship, CBL.
September 22, 2003 -
- It was a bad week for modern rock fans in New England - and
nowhere more so than in Hartford, where Clear Channel abruptly
pulled the plug on modern rock "Radio 104" WMRQ (104.1
Waterbury) at 4 o'clock last Monday afternoon (Sept. 15), replacing
it with urban "Power 104.1," a clone of the successful
WWPR (105.1 New York) that launched a year and a half ago down
in the big city. The new "Power" is a direct competitor
to Infinity's WZMX (93.7 Hartford), which took the market by
storm when it began playing hip-hop and R&B in the spring
of 2001. WMRQ's old format lives on for now as a Webcast (www.radio104.com),
albeit without jocks or PD. One of WMRQ's jocks, afternoon host/APD/MD
Chaz Kelly, has already landed a new gig - she stays within the
company and moves down I-91 to become PD of top 40 WKCI (101.3
Hamden) in the New Haven market.
- Hurricane Isabel whipped her way across the northeast last
week, knocking many stations off the air for at least a few hours
- and taking down one PENNSYLVANIA tower. Philadelphia's WHAT
(1340) lost its tower Thursday night at the height of the storm.
The Inner City Broadcasting urban talker had a long history with
this tower, located on Conshohocken Avenue not far from the big
Bala Cynwyd studio cluster.
- An upstate NEW YORK talk show host is off the air this week
after making allegedly racist comments about a candidate for
Monroe County executive. Rochester mayor (and Democratic candidate)
Bill Johnson is black - and it's not hard to figure out why people
took offense to comments WHAM (1180) midday host Bob Lonsberry
reportedly made last week about an "orangutan" in the
race. (Playing monkey sound effects didn't help, either.)
- The controversy hit the Democrat and Chronicle (one of several
media outlets in town that's a former Lonsberry employer) on
Saturday, and today Lonsberry was off the air, with a substitute
host at the mike. At the end of the show, WHAM played a taped
message from a tired-sounding Lonsberry, in which he offered
a lukewarm apology and suggested that "racism is in the
eye of the beholder, not in the heart of the speaker." (We'll
grant Lonsberry this much - in his statement, he pointed out
that when he intends to offend someone, he does so without apology.
True.) WHAM's not saying yet whether or when Lonsberry will be
back on the air.
- Another station sale in the region: George Kimble's Radio
Group is expanding to the southern Finger Lakes, buying WFLR
(1570) and WFLR-FM (95.9) in Dundee from Lakes Country Communications.
We'd be stunned if the AM, a 5000-watt daytimer, doesn't join
the Radio Group's "Finger Lakes News Network" (WGVA
1240 Geneva, WSFW 1110 Seneca Falls, WAUB 1590 Auburn, WCGR 1550
Canandaigua); we'll keep an ear on the FM as well, which is now
running satellite AC as "Mix 96" and will join the
Radio Group's AC WNYR (98.5 Waterloo) and rock WLLW (99.3 Seneca
Falls.) No purchase price has been announced on this one yet.
September 25, 1998 -
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- Two of Boston's AM stations are changing hands -- one as
part of a long-anticipated deal, the other out of the blue.
- The expected sale is that of CBS' WNFT (1150), which was
one of the American Radio Systems stations CBS was required to
sell in order to satisfy government regulations. The others (WRKO,
WEEI, WEGQ, and WBMX) are going to Entercom, and now WNFT is
going to Mega Broadcasting for a reported $5 million. Mega's
only current assets in New England are WNEZ (910 New Britain)
and WLAT (1230 Manchester) in the Hartford market, and while
WLAT fits with Mega's group profile as a Spanish broadcaster,
WNEZ runs an urban format, which leads NERW to wonder whether
WNFT will stick with its current ABC/SMN "Touch" R&B
oldies format, or whether its future is as a Spanish outlet.
In any event, it's nice to see 1150 being put in the hands of
an owner who'll likely pay some attention to it. Over the last
decade, it's been WHUE, WMEX, WROR, and WNFT, with formats that
included business news, oldies, leased-time Spanish, Kidstar
children's programming, simulcasts of several FMs, and a few
days as a testbed for digital AM.
- Now for the surprise: "Mr. D" is selling WNTN (1550
Newton). Orestes Demetriades' Newton Broadcasting Corporation
was one of the last single-station owners in the Boston market,
running the 10 kilowatt daytimer with a mix of leased-time programming
(largely Spanish and Chinese) and AC music. Late word is that
WNTN is being sold to Robert Rudnick's Colt Communications for
- A third station sale in MASSACHUSETTS this week is outside
the Boston market. WKPE (1170 Orleans) is being donated by GramCam
Communications to UMass Boston, which will likely make it the
latest outlet in the folk-music network that includes 91.9s WUMB
Boston, WFPB Falmouth, and WBPR Worcester. This is the final
nail in the coffin of commercial AM on Cape Cod; the other one,
WUOK (1240 W. Yarmouth) was donated to Boston University by Ernie
Boch last year and became WBUR(AM). WKPE's rock programming survives
on 104.7 FM in Orleans.
- In NEW YORK, doors are spinning at several Rochester radio
stations. At CBS, staffers said farewell on Monday to Harry Jacobs,
operations manager of WCMF (96.5)/WRMM (101.3) and PD of WCMF.
He's leaving to go to the Burlington, Vermont market, but we're
not sure what he'll be doing there yet. No replacement has been
named. Across town at the Entercom stations, it's the end of
a morning era for country giant WBEE-FM (92.5), as Bill Coffey
departs for a sales gig in Reading, PA after a decade on the
air in Rochester. And a belated note about WRMM's weekend schedule:
Sundays from 10-3 are now the domain of Mike O'Brian, former
PD of WBBF (950) towards the end of its top-40 era. Mike's also
a veteran of WVOR (100.5) and the "What's On Cable"
guy at Time Warner. It's nice to hear him back on the air...
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2008 by Scott Fybush.