October 13, 2008
Boyce Out at New York's WABC
*It's been a few weeks since we've led off
with big news from NEW YORK - but this week, there's big
news indeed from two of the city's biggest stations.
After 14 years at the helm of what's arguably the most important
talk radio station in the country, Phil Boyce announced on Thursday
that he's leaving the PD chair at WABC (770) - and by the end
of the day, he was out the door at the 17th floor of 2 Penn Plaza.
official word from Citadel was that Boyce's departure was entirely
of his own doing, and while Boyce didn't immediately announce
where he's headed next, Sean Hannity - one of Boyce's proteges
at WABC - hinted that whatever Boyce is doing next, he'd be involved
in it somehow. (It bears noting that Hannity just announced contract
extensions with both of his employers, Citadel and Fox News Channel.)
Whatever the official announcements may have said, speculation
was rampant heading into the weekend: why was Boyce's departure
so abrupt, and might it have had something to do with Citadel's
truly dreadful financial picture, as the company's stock remained
mired below the $1 level, raising the spectre of de-listing from
the New York Stock Exchange?
Another question about the timing of the announcement - if
it was indeed entirely voluntary on Boyce's part, why was no
succession plan immediately in place for the station that's been
Boyce's baby for over a decade? (And speaking of pet projects
- with Boyce out the door, what becomes of the annual "Rewound"
nostalgia festival on Memorial Day, and the popular "Saturday
Night Oldies" that Boyce implemented at WABC a couple of
*Those looking for certainty in the world of New York radio
could find it last week at the Clear Channel cluster, though
it may not have been the kind of certainty that fans of local
radio would seek: once again, local content and local talent
is giving way to national syndication.
This time, it's the relentless march of Ryan Seacrest across
the nation's airwaves. As his "On Air" show has moved
east from its Los Angeles home base, it's displaced local midday
and afternoon jocks all over the country, and last week it was
Shelley Wade's turn. The veteran middayer at WHTZ (100.3 Newark)
is still at Z100, at least for now - but instead of her familiar
10 AM-3 PM shift, she's suddenly on overnights, replaced by the
inevitable Seacrest, who at least made the right noises in the
press release about how he's "always wanted to play those
Z100 jingles," never mind that it's the automation in Manhattan
that will be doing that, not Seacrest in Hollywood.
is actually the second time Wade has been bumped by Seacrest
- when he arrived at Boston's Kiss 108 earlier this year, it
marked the end of Wade's voicetracking for the Boston station
from New York. (We think there's some kind of irony there, but
it's probably too depressing to contemplate.)
And there's a bit of news from CBS Radio, too - it's finally
turned on the HD Radio multicast channels on WXRK (92.3 New York).
On 92.3-HD2, it's the "K-Rock 2" modern rock format
that has been running as a webcast for the last few years, and
on 92.3-HD3, it's a simulcast of sports WFAN (660).
Here's a station move we've been meaning to mention for a
few weeks now: Clear Channel is trying again to move its WPHR
(106.9 Auburn) closer to its target audience in Syracuse. Over
the last decade or so, WPHR has applied for several city-of-license
changes, as well as experimenting with an on-channel booster
in Syracuse. Now it's applying to downgrade from full class B
(14 kW/941') to B1 (9 kW/406'), using a directional antenna at
the campus of Onondaga Community College, on Onondaga Hill south
WPHR's new city of license would be Solvay - and even if nobody
else seems to remember this, we note that the relocated "Power
106.9" wouldn't be the first station ever to be licensed
to that west-side Syracuse suburb: WQSR (1320) operated as a
Solvay daytimer in the fifties and sixties.
In Bath, WABH (1380) has been granted a construction permit
for a power boost; it will go from its present 2500 watts by
day and 112 watts at night to 10 kW days/450 watts at night,
still from its existing three-tower site alongside I-86 south
of the village.
In Syracuse, WSIV (1540 East Syracuse) is reviving its proposal
to move from its current daytime tower site along the Thruway
just east of I-481. The station has twice been granted a CP to
move from that site to the shorter tower of what's now the two-tower
array of sister station WOLF (1490) just north of downtown Syracuse
- but the move can't happen until WOLF builds out its own CP
to go non-directional from the taller tower of the array. That
still hasn't happened, so WSIV reapplied for its CP as soon as
its previous CP expired on Sept. 19. If the move is ever completed,
WSIV will stay at 1000 watts by day; at night, it uses 57 watts
from a separate site near downtown Syracuse.
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Chris Ingram - yes, the son of the legendary Dan - has a new
on-air shift: he's doing afternoons at WVOS-FM (95.9 Liberty),
up in the Catskills.
Some TV news this week: In the Albany market, CW affiliate
WCWN (Channel 45) has quietly added a 10 PM newscast produced
by sister station WRGB (Channel 6). Unlike the other 10 PM news
in town, over on Newport Television's Fox affiliate WXXA (Channel
23), the CW show is a brief 11-minute update, pushing back the
start of "Dr. Phil" by a few minutes.
Over at WTEN (Channel 10), there's a new news director: Rob
Hubler moves north from WGCL in Atlanta, where he was an executive
producer, to fill the office last occupied by Dana Dieterle,
who's now in Cleveland at WOIO/WUAB.
They still call
it the "Regional News Network," but the "news"
is mostly gone at WRNN-DT (Channel 48). The Kingston-licensed
station, seen on cable throughout most of the New York City TV
market, has cancelled the last of its Hudson Valley-oriented
news programming, leaving only "NewsCenter NOW Long Island"
at 4:30 PM weekdays, as well as two talk shows later in the evening,
surrounded by "Inside Edition," "Access Hollywood,"
"Law and Order" reruns and lots and lots of paid programming.
A correction: we reported last week that the new "Hits
103.3" in Ithaca was running as an HD Radio subchannel of
WIII (99.9 Cortland); in fact, it's on the HD2 of sister station
WYXL (97.3 Ithaca.)
In New York, WINS (1010) is mourning one of the anchors who
helped launch its all-news format back in 1965. Lew Fisher was
with the station for 36 years, starting back in WINS' music era
in the fifties. He was 90 when he died on Sunday.
And here in Rochester, we remember one of the city's veteran
broadcast engineers. Stan Manson came to WOKR (Channel 13) forty
years ago, and remained at the station (now WHAM-TV) for his
entire career, most recently as engineering manager. Manson,
who was in his early sixties, died Tuesday (Oct. 7); you can
see a video tribute from WHAM-TV here.
Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as
an e-book or printed volume!
*Another new format in Randolph, VERMONT:
under its new Great Eastern owners, WCVR (102.1) has traded a
simulcast of Burlington classic rocker "Champ" (WCPV
101.3) for its own classic rock format as "V102, Vermont
*A veteran NEW HAMPSHIRE sportscaster
is changing stations. After more than three decades with the
station that's now WKBK (1290 Keene), Bob Lund has joined Great
Eastern's new WEEY (93.5 Swanzey). For now, he's doing local
sports inserts during WEEY's programming from Boston's WEEI network.
There's a call change just to the north - WPLY (96.3 Walpole)
becomes WFYX; will a change from its current simulcast of oldies
WWOD (104.3 Hartford VT) be next?
*Budget cutbacks hit WDRC in Hartford, CONNECTICUT
at week's end: five full-time and four part-time positions
were cut at the stations, including WDRC-FM afternoon jock Doug
Taylor and WDRC(AM) mid-morning talker Mary Jones. Her slot will
be filled by the syndicated Glenn Beck show, while on the FM
Larry Wells moves from middays to afternoons, with Floyd Wright
moving into middays from overnights.
*It was a quiet week in MASSACHUSETTS,
where our only news is of the "Where are they now?"
variety: Former WFCC (107.5 Chatham) PD Steve Murphy, who had
moved to Milwaukee as PD of that city's now-defunct commercial
classical station WFMR, is back on the air at WFCC. Steve's still
based in Milwaukee, but he's working from a home studio there
as morning man for the World Classical Network, heard on WFCC
as well as Rhode Island's WCRI (95.9 Block Island) and Vermont's
WCVT (101.7 Stowe). Steve's career also included stops at WQRC
on the Cape (now a sister station to WFCC) and at WBOQ in Gloucester.
And despite being deep in Brewers territory now, Steve reports
he's still rooting hard for the Red Sox (as are we!)
Here's another "Where are they now?": We've reported
before on the whereabouts of former WDLW (1330 Waltham, now WRCA)
owner Anthony Martin-Trigona, most recently in October 2000,
when the indefatigable litigator was suing Clear Channel in Florida
over its national contests.
Now known simply as "Andy Martin," he's back in
the headlines, but not in a very complimentary way: he's on the
front page of today's New York Times, in an
article accusing him of launching the whisper campaign about
Barack Obama's background - and of being a notorious anti-Semite
*A big PENNSYLVANIA FM signal was
knocked off the air by vandals early Thursday morning. The transmitter
site of WILQ (105.1 Williamsport) is in a fairly remote spot,
high above the city on Skyline Drive - but it wasn't remote enough
to keep a big piece of logging equipment called a skidder from
slamming into the building around 4 AM Thursday. Backyard Broadcasting
chief engineer Tom Atkins says the vandals apparently hot-wired
the skidder and went for a joyride, which didn't last long.
The ride ended when the skidder slammed into a corner of WILQ's
concrete-block transmitter building, knocking the station off
the air. The good news, if you can call it that, is that the
transmitter wasn't hit; the bad news, however, is that the transmitter
building was a total loss. WILQ quickly got back on the air from
an auxiliary site, and Atkins and his crew salvaged what they
could from the building. (We're writing this, oddly enough, from
the laptop in the passenger seat of the NERW-mobile as we drive
through Williamsport, and WILQ's signal - at least over the weekend
- is pretty good in the city, though not as good as its usual
booming full class B.)
The damage was still being assessed of press time; initial
estimates were in the low six figures, and the vandals still
hadn't been caught as of Sunday night.
In Philadelphia, the rumors keep swirling about mornings at
WYSP (94.1), which have been filled with all-music blocks since
Kidd Chris was sent packing back in May. Is Danny Bonaduce headed
east from CBS Radio sister station KLSX (97.1) in Los Angeles?
Clear Channel's Philly cluster has a new operations manager,
as Brian Check gets promoted to that role, while remaining PD
at WISX (My 106.1). There are new PDs at two of the stations
under Check's aegis, too - Kashon Powell moves up from APD/MD
to PD at WUSL (98.9), while Tracy Austin returns to Philadelphia
from Australia (where she was PD of Nova 106.9 in Brisbane) to
be PD of WIOQ (102.1).
Four Rivers Community Broadcasting (the "Word FM"
folks) have calls for their new station on 88.3 in East Nottingham:
it'll be WZXE when it signs on.
In TV news, Erie
public station WQLN-TV has turned off its analog signal for good.
WQLN's analog and digital signals both went off the air when
the station's tower suffered a lightning strike a few weeks back,
and the original plan was to restore the analog Channel 54 signal
at low power for the few months remaining before the February
sunset. The station has now changed its mind; while it's restored
WQLN-DT (Channel 50) to the air on a temporary auxiliary antenna,
it now says the analog signal won't be returning. Cable customers
in London, Ontario, who've been without WQLN service for a few
weeks, should have the station's signal back soon as well. (They've
been getting Buffalo's WNED in its place.)
Where are they now? Mike Pintek, former talk host at KDKA
(1020 Pittsburgh), and a Harrisburg news director before that,
has signed on with CBS Radio's WHFS (105.7) in Baltimore to do
middays at that FM talk outlet.
And the former president/COO of York-based Susquehanna Radio
has a big new job: Nancy Vaeth-DuBroff is now the VP/market manager
of Entercom's cluster of stations in Austin, Texas.
*In CANADA, the CRTC has opened a
call for applications for new stations in the Halifax, Nova Scotia
market. Proposals are due Dec. 8.
In Quebec, Radio-Canada will add a new transmitter at St.-Donat
to improve the reach of its premiere chaine service. The 5.4
kW signal on 89.7 will relay CBF-FM (95.1 Montreal) to the area
near Mont Tremblant Park.
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!)
October 15, 2007 -
- Regent Broadcasting is exiting one of its upstate NEW YORK
markets, opening the door for an Oklahoma owner known for his
religious stations to enter the region.
- While Regent was a dominant player in the Watertown market,
where its country WFRY (97.5) often pulls some of the highest
shares of any station in any rated market in America, that market
(Arbitron ranked #279) was also the smallest in Regent's portfolio,
making the $6.25 million deal with David Stephens' KXOJ, Inc.
an easy one for the Cincinnati-based group owner. In addition
to country giant "Froggy," KXOJ Inc. also gets classic
hits WCIZ (93.3 Watertown), news-talk WTNY (790 Watertown) and
sports WNER (1410 Watertown) - and we're left to wonder what
exactly an Oklahoma operator plans to do with a cluster in northern
- Make that two clusters, actually: KXOJ is also buying a group
of St. Lawrence Valley stations from Tim Martz for $5.25 million.
Up there, KXOJ gets AC "Valley" WVLF (96.1 Norwood),
top 40 "Yes" WYSX (96.7 Morristown), oldies WPAC (98.7
Ogdensburg), classic hits WRCD "Fox" (101.5 Canton,
rimshotting Ottawa), country WNCQ (102.9 Canton) and oldies WMSA
- What's next? We'd note that in addition to their religious
stations, the Stephens family has some experience running secular
formats in Oklahoma, particularly sports - and we'd also note
that they've been known to buy stations and then sell them very
quickly, too, so there may be more changes yet to come on these
stations. We'll be listening...
- A veteran Utica morning man is changing signals. Former WRCK
(107.3 Utica) Bill Keeler has been leasing morning drive on Clear
Channel's "Kiss" simulcast (WSKS 97.9 Whitesboro/WSKU
105.5 Little Falls) and selling his own airtime, but with Kiss
about to change hands (it will go to Ken Roser as part of a big
shuffle of Utica ownership), Keeler is taking his morning show
elsewhere - specifically, to Mindy Barstein's WXUR (92.7 Herkimer),
which has been without a morning show since the end of Don Imus'
syndication last summer.
- In Albany, Paul Vandenburgh has now officially departed WROW
(590), and he's gone public with his plans to buy WTMM (1300
Rensselaer) from Regent. Vandenburgh tells Capital News 9, where
he was doing his shows on Fridays, that he'll relaunch WTMM with
a talk format similar to the one he ran there when the station
was known as WQBK; he'll also bring Dan Lynch over from WROW
- A silent MASSACHUSETTS station is back on the air. WNSH (1570
Beverly) isn't running with its new 30 kW daytime facility just
yet - that's due to change on or about Thursday - but it's once
again broadcasting, at least, with a female-oriented talk format
and a new morning show, as it picks up the North Carolina-based
Bob & Sheri syndicated talk show.
- Out on Cape Cod, WKPE (103.9 South Yarmouth) ended its stunting
Thursday and flipped to top 40, reverting to the "Cape 104"
branding last heard on WKPE in its days on 104.7 from Orleans,
between 1983 and 1992.
October 13, 2003 -
- It must be an exciting week for the folks at Boston's sports
talker, WEEI (850) - after all, they're the flagship station
for baseball's next World Champions. (This week's NERW is being
written Sunday night in lieu of the rained-out Game 4 of the
ALCS; we reserve the right to dream and to dream big, and you
Yankees fans can keep it to yourselves.)
- But in the midst of all that excitement, WEEI will be without
its popular morning team for a while longer, thanks to the continued
fallout from an offhand remark John Dennis and Gerry Callahan
made a couple of weeks ago as they discussed a newspaper photo
of a gorilla that had escaped from the Franklin Park Zoo.
- As we reported last week, WEEI initially suspended Dennis
for two days for remarking that the gorilla was a "METCO
(urban-suburban exchange student) gorilla waiting for a bus to
Lexington." That wasn't enough for the coalition of city
officials, religious leaders and other civic groups protesting
the comments, though, and after a meeting with METCO officials
last Tuesday, WEEI suspended Callahan as well, extending the
suspensions for both hosts for two weeks. (2008
note: OK, it didn't happen in 2003 - damn you, Aaron #@!%^ Boone!
- but a year later, well, that was a different story. And what
are the Yankees doing this October?)
- In Springfield, TV viewers are about to get something that
more closely resembles a local CBS affiliate. For decades, CBS
service to Springfield and the Pioneer Valley has come from CONNECTICUT's
WFSB (Channel 3) - but now WFSB is getting ready to launch a
separate service to the Massachusetts side of its market. It'll
still be "CBS3" on cable, but WFSB owner Meredith has
bought W67DF (Channel 67) in Springfield from Trinity Broadcasting,
and it will soon move to channel 45 and increase its power from
Mount Tom, selling local ads and increasing WFSB's presence in
Springfield. (WFSB has experimented over the years with local
ad sales and even local news inserts on Springfield cable, but
this will be its first stab at a Springfield broadcast signal.)
- Arthur Liu is adding two more New York-market signals to
his portfolio - though they're both actually across the river
in NEW JERSEY. Liu's Multicultural Broadcasting is spending $150
million to acquire Radio Unica's 15-station group, which includes
WWRU (1660 Jersey City) and WJDM (1530 Elizabeth). WWRU already
shares the tower site of Liu's WKDM (1380 New York) on Paterson
Plank Road in East Rutherford; we expect it will drop Unica's
Spanish news-talk programming in favor of the same leased time
fare that already runs on Liu's WPAT (930 Paterson), WKDM, WNSW
(1430 Newark) and WZRC (1480 New York).
- Meanwhile on the radio dial, the all-Christmas stunting on
WKXP (94.3 Kingston) ended at 9:43 last Monday morning, as Cumulus
relaunched the former oldies station (ex-WBPM) as "Kicks
94.3," playing country and competing with Clear Channel's
WRWD (107.3 Highland). Former WBPM morning guy Nick Robbins moves
over to sister station WKNY (1490 Kingston), while middayer Laura
Smith and afternooner Chris Lucas are out. Replacing them are
Buzz Stephens (from former country outlet WUSX in Huntsville,
Alabama) in mornings and Beth Christy (from WKXP sister station
WCZX) as PD/afternoon drive.
- The big story from CANADA was the death Tuesday (Oct. 7)
of media mogul Israel "Izzy" Asper. Asper was a Manitoba
banker in the early seventies when he acquired the physical assets
of a tiny TV station on the North Dakota/Manitoba border and
won a license from the CRTC to put it on the air in Winnipeg.
KCND (Channel 12) in Pembina, N.D. thus went dark, with its tower
and transmitter being trucked across the border to reappear as
CKND (Channel 9), the cornerstone of what would become a media
- Asper went on to acquire an interest in the new Global network
in Ontario, then bought Global outright and eventually built
it into Canada's third national network. Meanwhile, his CanWest
Global was buying newspapers - from the Montreal Gazette to the
Vancouver Sun and Province to the startup of the National Post
- not to mention TV interests in Australia and New Zealand and,
recently, several radio stations in Canada. Asper was 71 when
he died; though he was still CanWest Global's chairman, he'd
ceded most of his power to his children last year.
October 16, 1998 -
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- With most of the big names in radio a continent away at the
NAB Radio Show in Seattle, it's been a quiet week back here in
the Northeast, with all of one format change to tell you about.
It's in upstate NEW YORK, at the unusual two-AM combo created
last year in Canandaigua. Alert NERW readers will recall that
WCGR, the 250-watt daytimer at 1550 kHz, finally built its CP
for a kilowatt full-time on 1310 -- but then asked the FCC for
permission to "recharacterize" the frequency change
as a new station application, thus allowing WCGR to keep both
1310 (with a great signal toward Rochester but a bit of a null
towards the city of license) and 1550 (with a good signal in
Canandaigua and not much else).
- After a bit of confusion at the FCC, things settled down
with the WCGR calls moving to 1310, 1550 picking up the WLKA
calls that once graced a sister FM, and both simulcasting a (mostly-automated)
70s-heavy soft AC format. Until this week, that is...when hitting
the "1310" preset in the NERW-mobile produced not the
usual Neil Diamond, but conservative Christian talk and USA news
- Here's what's happened: WCGR has LMA'd the 1310 facility
to David Wolfe's WASB (1590) in Brockport, in Rochester's western
suburbs. Under the new calls of WRSB, 1310 is simulcasting WASB
20 1/2 hours a day, with WCGR programming still being heard from
5 till 8:35 AM on weekdays (albeit without veteran upstate broadcaster
Jack Mindy, who's left the station). It makes for an interesting
combination, since 1310 can be heard from Canandaigua up to the
east side of Rochester, while 1590 can be heard from roughly
one end of its own property to just short of the other end --
and that's on the days when the transmitter is actually working.
Here at NERW Central, no more than 12 miles from WASB, the signal
simply does not exist, except on very good days with a communications-grade
receiver, a good antenna, and a high tolerance for co-channel
stations in Auburn and Salamanca.
- As for 1550, it's reclaimed the WCGR calls and continues
the AC format, but with a signal that's hard to hear outside
northwest Ontario County. We're told Wolfe has an option to buy
1310 eventually; we'll keep an eye on this one.
- Moving along to MAINE, the Saga stations in Portland have
a new boss. He's Cary Pahigian, who programmed WBZ in the 1980s
and most recently ran Ernie Boch's stations on Cape Cod. Now
he becomes: vice president of Saga/New England, market manager
of Portland Radio, and GM of WGAN, WZAN, WMGX, and WYNZ (which
is to say, all of Portland Radio except WPOR AM-FM). Pahigian
replaces the retiring Bob Gold.
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2008 by Scott Fybush.