February 2, 2009
Groundhog Day Brings Leveille Return
*You remember Bill Murray's movie "Groundhog
Day," don't you - how each morning his alarm clock keeps
going off to Sunny and Cher singing "I've Got You, Babe"
as the local puker morning jocks once again remind him that he's
about to live the same day of his life all over again?
We've had that scene in mind these last few months each time
we sit down to write another week's installment of NERW, with
what seems to be the same headline week after week about job
cuts after job cuts after job cuts.
We'll have a few of those to report later in this week's issue
- but for once, we have some good news to offer as well: thanks
to a flood of listener outcry, ousted WBZ (1030 Boston) overnight
talk host Steve Leveille is getting his job back, and on Groundhog
Day of all days.
happened? Credit a combination of history and an unusually passionate
listener base. The history, of course, is WBZ's long tradition
of local talk - and of frigid response to any attempt to replace
local talkers with syndicated product. A prior generation of
station management learned that lesson two decades ago, when
the late David Brudnoy was briefly pulled off the air and replaced
by Tom Snyder's national show in the evening hours. This time,
it was the painfully generic "Overnight America" with
St. Louis-based Jon Grayson that failed to make the cut with
WBZ's loyal overnight audience, which flooded PD Peter Casey
with what we're told was a pile of angry letters more than a
That was apparently all the ammunition Casey and the local
management team needed to persuade the CBS Radio bosses in New
York to bring Leveille back, a move that came as a surprise to
everyone, Leveille very much included, as the news broke Tuesday
"I never expected to get a call like that...it's not
how the business works," Leveille told the WBZ newsroom
as he prepared for his return, which is scheduled for tonight.
WBZ is also bringing back another laid-off personality, but
Lovell Dyett won't get his longtime Saturday night shift back.
Instead, the veteran talk host will be heard for just half an
hour in what's probably the station's lowest-profile slot, from
4:30 to 5 on Sunday morning, and he's not happy about it. Will
the public outcry over the dismissal of WBZ's lone black talker
eventually get him restored to his old timeslot? That doesn't
seem likely - indeed, Casey's statement that "we still need
a new way to create new revenue for the Saturday night programming
hours" suggests that the infomercials that have already
begun to infect WBZ's weekend programming are likely to increase
over the next few months - and there's already speculation that
Jordan Rich's weekend overnight slot could be targeted for changes.
(As for Grayson, his show will continue on his home station,
KMOX, as well as on KDKA in Pittsburgh and WCCO in Minneapolis.)
as WBZ was welcoming back Leveille - and based on our short visit
to our old stomping grounds during our New England swing last
week, the move was a big morale boost for the station's surviving
staffers - it was saying goodbye to the dean of its airstaff.
Gil Santos didn't want the pomp and publicity that surrounded
the retirement of his old morning colleague, Gary LaPierre, two
years ago. So when he delivered his final sportscast for WBZ
at 9:45 on Friday morning, it was a much smaller and more low-key
event. Santos' family - his wife Roberta and his children and
grandchildren - gathered around him and applauded as he read
the last sports headlines, followed by recorded tributes from
co-workers past and present and a touching poem from the inimitable
Santos will still be heard on CBS sister station WBCN (104.1)
as the voice of the Patriots, and for the first week after his
retirement from WBZ, his morning sports slot will be filled by
Bob Lobel, who's become something of a pinch-hitter for CBS (including
a few weeks on morning drive at oldies station WODS) since departing
his own high-profile gig as WBZ-TV sports director last year.
permanent replacement for Santos has yet been named; it's a safe
bet, though, that whoever gets the job will be using a computer
to type their sportscasts, instead of the venerable manual typewriter
whose click-clack will no longer form the background noise to
WBZ's morning drive.
(And amidst the honors for Gil and the celebrations of Leveille's
unexpected return, we need to interject a reminder that at least
one aspect of WBZ's heritage is still badly damaged by recent
budget cuts - while Leveille, as a live presence overnight, can
at least make sure major local news that happens during the overnight
hours gets mentioned on the air, there's still a gaping hole
caused by the budget-driven decision to end local newsroom staffing
at 8:00 on weeknights, and it will be even greater cause for
celebration when that critical bit of service is restored.)
There was one more quiet retirement from WBZ last week: after
more than 16 years at the station, anchor Bill Watson, who'd
been heard on middays and weekends, has departed. Watson came
to WBZ in 1992 as part of a large group of newspeople who'd been
left jobless when WEEI (where he'd worked since 1981) dropped
its all-news format; before WEEI, he spent a decade in Connecticut
radio at WELI in New Haven.
*So, about that Groundhog Day business - the rest of our MASSACHUSETTS
news brings us back to job-loss territory.
This time around, it was Greater Media's turn, and the company
cited the usual "current economic environment" as it
cut 11 jobs from the Boston cluster, three of them from programming
and the rest from sales.
The programming cuts included WBOS (92.9 Brookline) PD Dana
Marshall, who'd come to the station two years ago from WXRV (92.5).
She'll be replaced by Ken West, who adds WBOS programming duties
to his existing job as PD of WROR (105.7 Framingham), a job that
suddenly becomes a little less demanding as that station goes
"music-intensive" from 7 PM until 5:30 AM.
"Music-intensive," of course, is the polite way
of saying, "we just cut two decently-paid on-air positions"
- in this case, Julie Devereaux, who was doing 7-midnight, and
Albert O, who was on overnights.
From the engineering department: Greater Media's WKLB (102.5
Waltham) is operating from a new transmitter site. After many
years at the "FM 128" tower on Chestnut Street in Newton,
102.5 has returned to its former home at the WBZ-TV tower on
Cedar Street in Needham, running 12 kW/905'. Right now, the Needham
site is licensed as an auxiliary, but expect that to change soon.
The Academy of the Immaculate has been granted the calls WPMW
for its new 88.5 construction permit in Bayview, which will rimshot
New Bedford with its 880-watt signal from a site in South Dartmouth.
Where are they now? Steve Tuzeneu, late of WVNE (760 Leicester),
is now with the Way-FM network of religious stations, based in
Colorado Springs. After a stint with Great Plains Christian Radio
in Kansas, Steve's now corporate staff engineer for Way-FM.
Did you miss it earlier this
month? Catch up on a whole year's worth of radio and TV happenings
across the Great Northeast, plus a particularly spirited (if
we do say so ourselves) Year-End Rant, all on one handy page
that will help you remember a year many of us would probably
just as soon forget.
Just click on the banner above
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this year by these nice folks:
*It would be nice to say that's it for the
job-cut news this week, but there were big headlines from VERMONT,
too, where Vox made some big cutbacks at WCPV (101.3 Essex NY).
No euphemisms here - "sh*tcanned" was the subject
line of the e-mail veteran Burlington-market DJ/programmer Steve
"Corm" Cormier sent us announcing that he was suddenly
out the door at Fort Ethan Allen after 11 years at the station
and a total of 23 years in radio.
had moved from mornings to middays last year with the end of
his long-running "Corm and the Coach" show, and he
was also wearing multiple hats as PD of "Champ 101.3"
and operations manager for Vox's Burlington cluster. Production
director and weekend jock Doug Grant is now filling the midday
slot on WCPV, while afternoons - where Carolyn Lloyd had been
heard for the last two years before also being ousted last Monday
- are now being filled by Mike Wilhide.
"We are watching our expenses," said Vox principal
Ken Barlow to the Burlington Free Press, blaming the cutbacks
on a "soft market."
As for Cormier, who tells the paper his big regret is that
he wasn't able to say goodbye to his listeners, he's looking
for new work - and reachable at corm55 at aol.com.
There's a new signal on the air in the Burlington market:
North Country Public Radio, based across Lake Champlain in New
York's Adirondack region, has signed on WXLQ (90.5 Bristol),
its first Vermont-based signal. Many Burlington-area listeners
were already able to hear NCPR (which originates at WSLU 89.5
Canton NY) over its Plattsburgh-area signal, WXLU (88.3 Peru
*There's a new FM signal on the air in NEW HAMPSHIRE's
Upper Valley - that's WNTK-FM1, the new booster that's extending
the reach of WNTK (99.7 New London) into Claremont, running 55
watts from an antenna hung out the side of an attic window.
*In MAINE, Gannett's WCSH (Channel
6) in Portland is taking steps to continue to make its local
newscasts available to radio listeners who've long been accustomed
to tuning in to the TV station's audio signal at 87.75 MHz.
That signal will go away when WCSH signs off its analog signal
(more later on the possibility of a delay in that shutdown) -
but last week WCSH signed a deal to put its TV newscast audio
on Nassau's WLVP (870 Gorham) and WLAM (1470 Lewiston).
Those AM signals had been running ESPN Radio audio, but they
flipped format Sunday afternoon, going oldies as "The Oldies
Channel" - but with simulcasts of WCSH newscasts from 5-7
every morning and on weekday afternoons from 5-6:30.
Up north, Light of Life Ministries has been granted a CP for
a new 65-watt signal on 90.5 in Lincoln.
*RHODE ISLAND Public Radio took a
big step toward independence last week, as the Rhode Island attorney
general's office approved the $2 million transfer that moves
WRNI (1290 Providence) and WRNI-FM (102.7 Narragansett Pier)
from Boston University, which brought public radio to Rhode Island
12 years ago, to the local Rhode Island Public Radio group. It's
been almost five years since BU, then reeling from budget problems
at WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston), announced plans to sell the Rhode Island
operation - and that prompted Ocean State lawmakers to pass legislation
that would have made it economically undesirable to sell WRNI
to anything but a local public broadcasting operation.
There's a new PD at WHJY (94.1 Providence): Dennis O'Heron
moves south to fill the office being vacated by Scott Laudani.
O'Heron had been VP of marketing at Clear Channel's WXKS-FM/WJMN
And over at Citadel, the afternoon shift on WWLI (105.1 Providence)
vacated by Charlie Jefferds' firing has been filled by OM/PD
*More job cuts in CONNECTICUT: at Cox's
WEZN-FM (99.9 Bridgeport), Samantha Stevens is gone from the
PD chair and the midday shift on "Star 99.9" after
four years. No replacement has been named yet.
You wouldn't know it from the weather outside, but it's almost
baseball season - and the Eastern League New Britain Rock Cats
are getting ready with a new radio deal. They'll move from Buckley's
talk network based at WDRC (1360 Hartford) to CBS Radio's WTIC,
where they'll place a few games on WTIC (1080 Hartford)'s big
50,000-watt AM signal when the Red Sox are off - and the entire
season will be heard on WTIC-FM (96.5)'s HD2 subchannel. Games
will also be heard on WMRD (1150 Middletown) and WLIS (1420 Old
*In NEW YORK, there's another
change in the jock lineup at WHTZ (100.3 Newark NJ): night guy
Romeo is departing the Clear Channel top-40 station for "new
challenges" that he's supposed to be announcing this week
- and inbound to replace him is Billy the Kidd, who's been doing
nights, as well as APD/MD duties, at Clear Channel's "Kiss"
(KHKS 106.1) in Dallas.
In good 2009 fashion, Kidd's replacement in Dallas will be...himself,
as he will be voicetracking his Dallas shift, and may well be
heard in other markets as well.
Over at Emmis' WRXP (101.9 New York), founding music director/afternooner
Bryan Schock is leaving after almost precisely a year at the
struggling AAA station, citing family issues that will have him
returning to his native California. No replacement has been named
In Rochester, one victim of the Clear Channel cutbacks has
found new work: sportscaster Gene Battaglia, who lost his job
at WHAM (1180)/WHTK (1280), has signed on with Entercom's WROC
(950), where he'll be doing sales and contributing sports commentaries
for the ESPN Radio affiliate.
Near Buffalo, Greg Chwojdak is hanging up his headphones after
more than three decades hosting polka shows. For the last 23
years, he's been doing the Sunday polka show on WXRL (1300 Lancaster),
but he'll do his last show there Feb. 15 before moving to the
Cleveland area for his day job, as a registered nurse.
You won't hear the latest Empire State call-letter change
on the air: neither 1330 in Ontario, east of Rochester, nor 1400
in Middletown, an hour north of Manhattan, are broadcasting yet
- but they swapped calls last week, returning the Ontario construction
permit to WMJQ and making Middletown WYNY.
A new noncommercial CP in Lakewood, near Jamestown, has been
granted call letters: Muncy Hills Broadcasting will use "WYRR"
on its new 88.9 there.
And there's another new set of calls: now that Hobart and
William Smith Colleges have been granted a CP for 90.3 in Auburn
to go along with WEOS (89.7 Geneva) and the unbuilt WITH (90.1
Ithaca), GM Aaron Read has picked the historic - if somewhat
mythical - WVWA calls for the new station. Look for "NINE!-ty-point-three"
to make its debut on April 1, 2010...by which point your editor
may have lived down that night he first played Aaron the legendary
On the TV side, there's a new news director at Buffalo's WKBW
(Channel 7), where John DiSciullo moves from the promotions department
to the newsroom.
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*It was a quiet week in PENNSYLVANIA -
especially out west, where you'd almost think people around Pittsburgh
had something other than radio on their minds...something, say,
black and gold and now in possession of a record sixth championship?
There was some broadcast
news related to the big game: PBRTV.com
reports that over-the-air DTV viewers in the Erie market - hard-core
Steelers territory - had the chance to see the game in HD, even
though NBC affiliate WICU (Channel 12) hasn't been operating
HD on its own ultra-low-power WICU-DT signal on channel 52. WICU
has also been putting NBC programming on the higher-powered signal
of sister station WSEE-DT - and for the big game, WSEE used most
of its bandwidth to carry its NBC subchannel (35.3) in HD, relegating
CBS on 35.1 to SD for the night.
This should be the last year for that particular problem;
even if Congress still finds a way this week to postpone the
official end of analog TV, WICU plans to silence its analog channel
12 transmitter on Feb. 17, replacing it with full-power digital
WICU-TV on 12. (ABC affiliate WJET-TV would also flash-cut to
digital that day, leaving only WSEE, with CBS, and WFXP, with
Fox, operating in analog.)
Indeed, analog TV signals will be in short supply all over
the region come Feb. 18 even if the deadline is nominally extended.
The numbers are constantly changing, but at last check more than
700 TV stations all over the country had notified the FCC that
they plan to discontinue analog operation on or before the Feb.
17 date no matter what.
You can find comprehensive lists at Trip Ericson's RabbitEars.info,
here, and at Doug
Smith's W9WI.com, here
- but in the meantime, we can tell you there's at least one more
analog TV signal gone in eastern Pennsylvania, where Allentown
public broadcaster WLVT pulled the plug on its analog channel
39 on Friday as it prepared to move WLVT-DT from channel 62 to
In Altoona, the "Charlie and Steve Show" at WFBG
(1290) is no more - co-host Steve Clark, who'd been on the air
with Charlie Weston for a decade at WRTA (1240) and then at WFBG
for the last four years, lost his job to budget cuts on Friday.
One bit of radio news from the Scranton market: Mark Lindow
is out as PD of Citadel's country WSJR (93.7 Dallas), replaced
by Keith Michaels.
Where are they now? Former WDSY (107.9 Pittsburgh) morning
man John Garabo is the latest victim of budget cuts - he's out
of his morning gig at KSKS (93.7) in Fresno, California and looking
for new challenges.
*There's another new noncommercial construction
permit in NEW JERSEY - WYRS Broadcasting, which owns religious
WYRS (90.7 Manahawkin), has been granted a CP for a second FM
signal, with 4 kW on 91.7 in Lakehurst.
Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as
an e-book or printed volume!
*In the US, you have to go pretty far west
before you find radio stations operated by natiev tribes - but
CANADA has "First Nations" stations all over
the place, including many small signals in Ontario and Quebec.
That number dropped
by one Sunday night, though, when one of the oldest tribal stations,
CKRZ (100.3 Ohsweken ON) shut down amidst a rising budget deficit.
The Six Nations station, located southwest of Hamilton, had been
on the air since 1987, but its governing board, the Southern
Onkwehon:we Nishinabec Indigenous Communications Society (SONICS),
voted on Tuesday to close the station, saying revenues from advertising
and its once-popular radio bingo games had fallen below sustainable
levels, and the station was left carrying a $100,000 debt.
It's still possible that CKRZ could be resurrected under different
tribal ownership, but for now the station, whose signal reached
northwest to Brantford and northeast almost to Hamilton, is silent.
In Toronto, the ongoing cutbacks at Astral Media have claimed
the job of 54-year CFRB (1010) news veteran Tayler "Hap"
Parnaby. While he'd been semi-retired for several years, Parnaby
had continued to anchor the 11:50 AM newscast that traced its
heritage back to the legendary Gordon Sinclair - but on Friday,
the newscast was gone, and so was Parnaby, telling another former
CFRB newsman, Ted Woloshyn, that his "retirement" was
not by his choice. "It was clearly part of an economic decision
made by Astral Radio," Parnaby said.
In Nova Scotia, the Tantramar Community Radio Society has
revised the application for a new community FM station on 107.9
in Amherst that the CRTC turned down last year; it will again
go before the commission during a hearing March 30. Meanwhile
in Truro, the Truro Live Performing Arts Association wants a
5-watt developmental community station on 106.1.
More from the agenda for the March 30 hearing - back in Ontario,
Rick Sargent wants to convert the license of CFGM (102.7 Caledon)
from tourist information to a full commercial station, albeit
still with 50 watts. The CBC has resubmitted its application
to move CBE (1550 Windsor) to FM, this time asking for 19 kW
DA on 97.5 in Windsor and a 10.45 kW DA transmitter on 91.9 in
Leamington. In Toronto, United Christian Broadcasters wants to
put a new AM signal on 1480 (last used in suburban Newmarket
by the old CKAN, now CKDX 88.5) with 1 kW days, 500 watts at
night. And in Kingston, we can now put a value on Rogers' buyout
of CIKR (105.7) and CKXC (93.5); its deal to buy the stations
from John Wright's K-Rock 1057 Inc., in which it was already
a partial investor, is valued at C$11 million.
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, ten and - where available - fifteen 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!)
February 4, 2008 -
- A surprise format change in New York - at 4 PM Tuesday, Emmis
pulled the plug on smooth jazz WQCD (101.9), relegating "CD101.9"
to the station's HD2 channel (which wasn't even on the air at
launch time) and replacing it with a classic rock-leaning AAA
format (they're calling it "adult rock"), as "101.9
RXP, The NY Rock Experience."
- It's been a popular parlor game in eastern MASSACHUSETTS
radio circles for more than a decade now - when will Greater
Media flip formats on its perennially ratings-challenged AAA
station, WBOS (92.9 Brookline) - and to what?
- If you had "February 1, 2008, at 5 PM" in the pool,
and "classic alternative" as the new format, congratulations
- you've just won something. If, on the other hand, you had "WBOS
disc jockey" after your name, the news isn't so good. The
newly-renamed "Radio 92.9" has parted with its entire
airstaff, with no plans to replace them any time soon. Off the
air completely are afternoon jock John Laurenti (late of WHJY
in Providence), night guy Dominick Lewis and overnight voice
Paul Jarvis, as well as the station's weekenders, including Holly
Harris and her Sunday night blues show. Morning host George Knight
is gone from that shift, but his Sunday morning show remains
in place. And middayer Dana Marshall is off the air, but she
drops "interim" from her PD title and continues programming
the new station.
- Even before WBOS made its surprise Friday flip, we were planning
to lead this week's column with a Boston format change: last
Monday morning (Jan. 28), regular listeners to the conservative
talk on Salem's WTTT (1150 Boston), what few there were, awoke
to a shock - instead of the lineup that included Bill Bennett,
Sean Hannity, Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt, WTTT's 5000-watt
signal was running Spanish-language religion as "Radio Luz."
In just over four years since launching its talk format in November
2003, WTTT never achieved significant visibility or ratings in
the crowded Boston talk arena, despite several stabs at local
talk and the addition of WBZ castoff Paul Harvey. "Radio
Luz" enters a fairly crowded field, too, with Spanish-language
religious programming already airing in the market on WESX (1230
Salem)/WJDA (1300 Quincy), but the leased-time programming will
at least provide some steady revenue to bolster Salem's bigger
signals in town, religious WEZE (590 Boston) and WROL (950 Boston).
- Speaking of out-of-state religious broadcasters, California's
EMF Broadcasting is getting its first toehold in NEW HAMPSHIRE,
with a $1 million purchase of WMEX (106.5 Farmington) from veteran
New England broadcaster Dennis Jackson. Jackson tells NERW that
the station wasn't even for sale when the unsolicited offer came
in, and he says the station's oldies format and its staff (including
VP/general manager/morning man Gary James) will stay in place
until the deal, brokered by Doug Ferber of Star Media Group,
closes. The historic WMEX calls will stay with Jackson, for use
on another station eventually.
- Frank Truatt's WTBQ (1110 Warwick NY) has finally found a
way to overcome one of its biggest obstacles - a 500-watt, daytime-only
signal that leaves the station off the air during drivetime for
much of the winter. Bud Williamson's Digital Radio Broadcasting,
which owns translator W256BD (99.1 Warwick), has been granted
Special Temporary Authority to put WTBQ's programming on the
10-watt 99.1 signal, 24 hours a day. (As we've reported previously
here in NERW, the FCC is close to approving a rulemaking that
will allow AM stations to use FM translators on a routine basis;
in the meantime, it's approving many of these STA arrangements,
and we hear at least two of them are pending in western New York
February 2, 2004 -
- It was bound to happen, but inevitability doesn't make today's
sign-off of WSNJ-FM (107.7 Bridgeton) any less bittersweet. One
of NEW JERSEY's oldest FM stations, WSNJ remained a bastion of
old-time radio in a voicetracked, consolidated world right up
to the end, super-serving Cumberland County and surrounding portions
of South Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware with everything from
farm news to a swap shop program to lots and lots of local news
and information. But (as we learned from an article in Sunday's
New York Times) if everything goes according to plan, sometime
this afternoon (Feb. 2), the heirs of Ed Bold will receive a
$20 million payment for the class B FM facility, at which point
they'll pull the plug on WSNJ-FM for good. WSNJ (1240) will stay
on the air, eventually changing hands to Millville mayor Jim
Quinn, who'll keep its format mostly intact and begin simulcasting
it on his WMVB (1440 Millville).
- As for the FM license, as soon as it's off the air in Bridgeton,
it'll be transferred to Radio One, which will move it to 107.9,
downgrade it to class A and relocate it to the Philadelphia suburb
of Pennsauken, transmitting from the WKDN (106.9 Camden)/WTMR
(800 Camden) tower. How soon will that happen? We're hearing
everything from the end of this week (unlikely) to the end of
- A brief commentary, if we may: There's a certain irony in
the timing of WSNJ-FM's finale, coming as it does just one day
after the 50th anniversary of the death of Major Edwin Howard
Armstrong, the inventor of FM radio. (You can read NERW's tribute
to the Major here.) In many ways, WSNJ-FM was one of the last
surviving examples of Major Armstrong's original vision of what
FM could be: with its high power, initially on 98.9 and later
on 107.7, it served a much larger area than the WSNJ AM signal
ever could hope to cover, providing a truly local service to
many rural residents whose only other choices for radio reception
- especially after dark - were distant signals from big cities.
And there's something admirable in the way WSNJ-FM stayed the
course all through the fifties and early sixties, even as other
early FM pioneers gave up on the medium. So it's hard to begrudge
the Bold family - especially Ed Bold's 83-year-old widow - for
taking advantage of the windfall the FM signal represented. Nor
can we find fault with Ed Seeger for choreographing the move
of WSNJ-FM to Pennsauken and the $15 million profit he'll receive
for making the deal. No, the issue at hand is the sequence of
regulatory changes that allowed the move to Pennsauken to become
a possibility: specifically, the elimination of the anti-trafficking
rule that would once have required a broker like Seeger to operate
WSNJ-FM for three years before spinning it off to Radio One and
the elimination of the main studio, community ascertainment and
public service requirements that would once have made it more
difficult for a "Pennsauken" station to market itself
to all of Philadelphia without providing any distinct local service
to Pennsauken itself. (We've ranted enough in the past about
the inanity of the rules under which Pennsauken could even have
been considered sufficiently distinct from the "Philadelphia
Urbanized Area" to merit its own FM allocation.)
- It's hard to imagine that the removal of this unique local
service to the relatively underserved Cumberland County area,
in exchange for yet another generic service in the crowded Philadelphia
market, is really what anyone at the FCC means by "localism,"
and it's a shame that none of the proposals currently on the
table to improve "localism" in broadcasting would close
the "WSNJ loophole," and that's a shame.
- We'll start our New England report this week up in MAINE,
where Hearst-Argyle is spending $37.5 million to add WMTW-TV
(Channel 8) in Poland Spring to its portfolio of stations in
the region that already includes fellow ABC affiliates WCVB in
Boston and WMUR in Manchester NH, as well as NBC outlets WPTZ
Plattsburgh NY -Burlington VT and WNNE White River Junction VT.
- Up in CANADA, the CRTC was busy handing out new licences
last week: in Trenton, Ontario (now known as Quinte West through
the miracle of governmental consolidation), CJTN gets to move
from 1270 AM to 107.1 FM, where it'll run 3640 watts; in Pembroke,
Standard's CKQB (106.9 Ottawa) gets an Ottawa Valley relay on
99.7 with 45.2 kW; and in the Mauricie region of Quebec, the
Cooperative de solidarite radio communautaire Nicolet-Yamaska/Becancour
gets 34 kW on 90.5 to serve the Becancour/Nicolet area with community
January 29, 1999 -
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- So much for a third public radio voice in Buffalo, NEW YORK.
The Western New York Public Broadcasting Association announced
this week that it will cease programming WNED (970) in mid-February,
switching the station to a simulcast of SUNY Buffalo's WBFO (88.7).
- WNYPBA has owned 970 since 1976, when it bought the former
WEBR (and its sister FM station on 94.5, now WNED-FM) and turned
WEBR into an all-news operation. For a while, WEBR was one of
the finest public radio newsrooms in the country. A few years
ago, though, WEBR dropped the all-news format, changed calls
to WNED(AM), and switched to a more traditional public radio
news/information format. WNED had fallen on tough times in the
last few years, a victim of WNYPBA budget problems brought on
in part by the decision, under previous management, to invest
much of the association's resources into the construction of
a huge new studio/office building in downtown Buffalo. (NERW
notes that the debt from that building was also cited as a reason
when WNYPBA put WNEQ-TV, Channel 23, up for sale last year).
- WNED(AM) employed five full-time staffers and six part-timers.
WNYPBA officials say they'll try to find other jobs within the
company for them. Meantime, Buffalo listeners will lose the daily
"Live @ Noon" talk show, weekend All Things Considered,
overnight BBC broadcasts, "The Connection," and "Marketplace,"
among other 970-only programming. As for 970's long-term future,
WNYPBA president Don Boswell tells the Buffalo News he'll consider
an LMA for the station, but doesn't plan to sell the station,
in hopes that it will be valuable if IBOC digital radio becomes
a reality (NERW notes that the DA-1 signal on 970 has a very
tight pattern that does well in downtown Buffalo and up towards
Niagara Falls but is unlistenable in even Buffalo's nearby eastern
and southeastern suburbs).
- NERW's sorry to see WNYPBA give up any pretense of offering
a public-affairs radio service to Buffalo (WNED-FM on 94.5 is
24-hour classical music), and we're hopeful WBFO will be able
to work out a deal to provide some separate programming to 970
and, perhaps, even expand its jazz service on 88.7. (2009 update - In the end, WNED's separate AM
service was saved, and continues today as a distinct program
offering from WBFO.)
- Peter Arpin's ADD Media is buying again in MASSACHUSETTS.
ADD already owns WRCA (1330 Waltham) and WJYT (1320 Attleboro).
It's been programming WLYN (1360 Lynn), and now it's making it
official by buying the station from Paul Feinstein's Puritan
Broadcasting for $1.06 million.
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learn how you can help make continued publication possible. NERW
2009 by Scott Fybush.