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March 23, 2009

ABC's Weber Murdered in Brooklyn

FRIDAY UPDATE: We've lost another legend. Boston's own Larry Glick, renowned for his many years of late nights on WBZ, and later on WHDH, died Thursday while undergoing open-heart surgery in Florida. He was 87. Many more details in Monday's NERW.

(Have a favorite Glick story? Share it with us at nerw at fybush dot com...)

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: There's word just in from CTVglobemedia that the plug is once again being pulled on oldies on the Toronto AM dial. Thursday morning at 5, CHUM (1050) will give way to "CP 24 Radio 1050," which sounds like it will be mainly a simulcast of CTV's "CP24" cable news channel.

With the CRTC's recent rule change allowing oldies formats on the FM dial, will Toronto see a move of oldies to FM...or is this curtains for the format for good? More next week...

*During George Weber's years on NEW YORK's WABC (770), he built up quite a following as the talk station's morning "News Guy," and even after losing that gig in early 2008, after the Curtis & Kuby morning show where he'd worked gave way to Don Imus, Weber stayed active as a reporter and anchor with ABC Radio News.

He was scheduled for several shifts last week at ABC, and after he didn't show up Saturday, concerned co-workers called the police. They entered Weber's apartment in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens neighborhood Sunday morning, where they found him apparently stabbed to death. Neighbors told the New York Post they believe Weber was murdered sometime Friday night. (The last entry on Weber's blog was dated Friday.) Police say there were no signs of forced entry, but neighbors told the paper the apartment had been ransacked.

Weber was a native of the Philadelphia area who started his career at WBUX (1570 Doylestown PA), then worked at WAEB (790 Allentown) before heading west in the mid-eighties, where he worked at KIMN in Denver (alongside his future WABC program director Phil Boyce), KOA in Denver, KGO in San Francisco and KOGO in San Diego before joining WABC in 1995.

In happier New York news, former WXRK (92.3) midday jock Nik Carter has found a new job; what started as a fill-in gig on afternoons at Emmis rocker WRXP (101.9) has turned into a full-time shift there. Meanwhile at WXRK's new "Now" incarnation, there's another addition to the airstaff, as "Chunky" takes on nights. He was known as "Big Boy" at his last job, nights at WKQI in Detroit. There's still no word on who'll take on mornings at "Now."

WFUV (90.7 New York) is giving its "Alternate Side" HD3 service more exposure on its main channel. The alternative-rock format will now be heard on WFUV itself from 10 PM-midnight weeknights, pushing the "World Cafe" repeat back to midnight and "Echoes" to 2 AM.

Out on Long Island, mark down Saturday, April 18 on your calendar - it's the biggest "Long Island Radio & TV Day" yet, with a full day of activities at the Tilles Center on the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University. Featured speakers include John Leita on the history of Long Island radio and Marc Seifer on the life of Nikola Tesla, plus a roomfull of Long Island radio people, exhibits and displays. There's more information at; one of these years, we'll even get down there to one of these great events...

*Moving upstate, there's a surprise from Oneida, where one of the region's truly old-school mom and pop stations has been sold. We didn't know WMCR (1600) and WMCR-FM (106.3) were for sale, and it appears owner Vivian Warren, who bought the stations in 1969 and continued to run them after the 2005 death of her husband and co-owner, Bill, wasn't actively trying to sell them.

But when Cooperstown-based James Johnson came calling with an offer, Warren decided to accept - and now the stations are about to get their first ownership change in four decades.

From what Johnson tells the Oneida Daily Dispatch, the stations are going into good hands. Beginning in 1995, Johnson built a three-station cluster in Norwich (WKXZ/WBKT/WCHN) into the eight-station BanJo group before selling the stations to Double O Radio in 2004 for nearly $10 million. Since then, he's bought and sold restaurants and real estate and invested in a Broadway musical, as well as getting elected to the Otsego County board of representatives.

Johnson says he doesn't envision making any major changes at the stations, aside from perhaps separating the AM from its present simulcast with WMCR-FM, as well as "technology upgrades" that will probably mean replacements for the stations' aging transmitters and those cart machines that were still in use when we stopped by last fall - and perhaps, we wonder, some automation that would mean an end to WMCR's 10 PM daily signoff?

No purchase price has been announced yet; Johnson says having built the BanJo group into corporate radio, he doesn't envision adding additional stations to WMCR.

There's a station sale down in the southwestern corner of the state, too, as Randy Michaels' RadioActive LLC sells a new FM on 105.9 in Little Valley to Seneca Broadcasting for $250,000.

In Corning, it might be too soon to order the gravestone for WCEB (91.9). Even though the little class D FM at Corning Community College had its license cancelled by the FCC a few weeks back after failing to apply for renewal, college officials have now taken an interest in the station. They've applied to the FCC for special temporary authority to revive the station. They've also filed (belatedly) for license renewal - and the FCC accepted the application for filing last week. In its application, WCEB told the FCC that it's possible the station was on the air after its license expired back in 2006, but "the extent and duration of the broadcasting is uncertain."

That's normally grounds for an FCC fine, but the Commission has taken a benevolent stance lately toward the surviving class D FM signals, offering hope that WCEB might survive after all.

Back in the Utica area, Gary Spears has departed WSKS (97.9 Whitesboro)/WSKU (105.5 Little Falls), where he was morning man and promotions director. "Kiss FM" middayer Jesse Jordan adds the promotions duties; no morning replacement has been named yet.

Heading north and west, the Oswego-based WRVO network is looking to fill a gap in its coverage: it's been granted a construction permit for a 7.9 kW/86' DA signal on 89.3 in Clayton that will serve the Cape Vincent area and will reach into Kingston, Ontario as well.

Whatever your opinion of Keith Olbermann, there's no denying the MSNBC "Countdown" host's undying loyalty to his college radio station, WVBR (93.5 Ithaca). Olbermann has referenced the student-run commercial station several times on his show, and we're glad he brought it up again last week, because he alerted us to an obituary we'd otherwise have missed: John B. Hill, who worked as the station's chief engineer for a quarter of a century, died March 12 in Virginia of complications from diabetes.

Among "JBH"'s credits, in addition to some time engineering Barry Manilow concerts, was the construction of two WVBR studios - the 1970s-era facility on Linden Avenue where Olbermann toiled and the Mitchell Avenue facility that the station moved into after the Linden Avenue studios were condemned a few years back.

Hill was 60; there's a memorial for him, including a link to Olbermann's video tribute, on the WVBR website.

*In TV news from around the Empire State, seven stations have told the FCC they intend to drop their analog signals prior to the June 12 finale of full-power analog TV.

Citing ongoing problems with their analog transmitters, the northern New York PBS duo of WPBS-TV (Channel 16) in Watertown and WNPI (Channel 18) in Norwood will go dark on analog April 12, followed on April 16 by two more PBS signals - WMHT-TV Schenectady and WNED-TV Buffalo, both on channel 17 - along with Binghamton Fox affiliate WICZ (Channel 40).

On April 25, Elmira's ABC affiliate, WENY-TV (Channel 36), will end its analog broadcast; it's flash-cutting to digital on 36, having never built out its interim channel 55 digital assignment. And on May 4, religious WNYB (Channel 26) in Jamestown will pull the plug on its analog signal

Steve Bartelstein resigned from his anchor job at New York's WCBS-TV (Channel 2) last week, complaining of being "underappreciated" there. Bartelstein made headlines in 2007 when WABC-TV (Channel 7) fired him after he missed a newscast because he was asleep at his desk; a few months later, after joining channel 2, he announced that he was battling testicular cancer, which is now in remission. Bartelstein tells the Daily News he may consider careers outside of television, including a possible return to high school sports coaching.

In Syracuse, one former WTVH (Channel 5) anchor has found work following the near-shutdown of that CBS affiliate's newsroom. Keith Kobland, who'd been the morning anchor at Channel 5, has joined the staff at market-leading ABC affiliate WSYR-TV (Channel 9), where his first assignment came Friday as substitute host of the station's "Bridge Street" mid-morning show.

And here in Rochester, we send our best wishes to WROC-TV (Channel 8) chief meteorologist Scott Hetsko, who's been sidelined by heart problems. Hetsko appeared on the air from his home Wednesday to let viewers know he's recovering from heart failure and the installation of a pacemaker - and that he'll be back on the air with his trademark high-energy delivery just as soon as doctors clear him to return to work.


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*Need a concrete sign of the downturn in the economy? Just look to eastern PENNSYLVANIA, where Nassau, unable to carry out its LMA-to-buy agreement due to "dislocations in the credit markets," is handing WFKB (107.5 Boyertown) back to its owner, Lancaster-based WDAC Radio Company, on April 1.

The back story here: Back in October 2005, WDAC signed a $22 million deal under which the 107.5 signal, until then doing religion as WBYN-FM, would be leased by Nassau, with three years to come up with the money to convert the LMA into an outright purchase. Nassau flipped the FM to classic rock as "Frank FM," targeting the nearby Reading market, while the WBYN calls and religious programming moved to the former WYNS Lehighton on AM 1160, which Nassau has been leasing to WDAC ever since.

As we told you in our October 6, 2008 issue, Nassau ended that three-year period without the funding to close on the purchase of WFKB by the end of the LMA on November 30. The companies agreed to extend the LMA by four more months, but with no improvement in economic conditions since then, the deal will expire at the end of March.

(And in fairness to Nassau, the softening of the radio sales market means the $22 million price tag placed on 107.5 back in 2005 now looks rather high, suggesting this might have been a deal not worth consummating in the end.)

Here's how things play out from here: at the end of the day March 31, "Frank" will cease to exist on 107.5, with the station reverting to WDAC management and reclaiming its old WBYN-FM calls and "Alive" religious format. As for 1160 up in Lehighton, that signal will revert to Nassau management, and we'd guess it will return to its prior format, simulcasting the ESPN sports programming from Nassau's WEEX (1230 Easton)/WTKZ (1320 Allentown).

*On the TV side of things, we congratulate Lancaster's WGAL-TV (Channel 8) on its big anniversary. The venerable station turned 60 last week, marking the occasion with an hour-long documentary and an on-line slideshow of its history.

(If you missed the documentary, as we did, you can order a DVD copy, as we did, at the station's newly-created website, which was finally working for us Sunday afternoon after being inoperable for a few days after the anniversary itself...)

There's a new VP/GM coming to CBS-owned KYW-TV (Channel 3)/WPSG (Channel 57) in Philadelphia at month's end: Jon Hitchcock, who held those same roles at LIN Television's WTNH (Channel 8)/WCTX (Channel 59) in New Haven, CT, will replace Michael Colleran in the Philly post.

Over on the radio management side of things, Lynn Bruder is out as GM of Beasley's WRDW (96.5 Philadelphia), with WXTU (92.5) VP/GM Natalie Conner becoming VP/market manager for the cluster.

Down on the Maryland state line, VerStandig Broadcasting's WFYN (101.5 Waynesboro) changed its calls to WBHB-FM last week. There's no change that we've heard of to its "Rock 101-5" format.

We also have call letters to report for two new stations: in the Uniontown area, the new 88.7 in Connellsville will be WSVP, with the calls standing for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Uniontown Area Conference, the owners of the new signal, which will presumably be offering Catholic programming.

Up in the Oil City area, there's a new 106.1 coming to Farmington Township, and as soon as we saw the calls - WCOP - we knew this one would be part of the ever-growing Family Life Network based up in Bath, N.Y. Seller World Radio Link was on the verge of having its construction permit run out May 26, but the $65,000 sale to FLN resets the clock on the CP, providing an additional 18 months to get the station built.

(Two notes on this one: first, yes, we're well aware that the heritage of the WCOP calls is in Boston, where they were on AM 1150 and FM 100.7 for many decades. As for World Radio Link, that's one of several companies associated with Idaho-based station broker Clark Parrish, who kicked up such a storm of controversy a few years back when he was single-handedly responsible for thousands of FM translator applications, leading the FCC to freeze new translator grants, though not before Parrish's companies profited handsomely from sales of numerous construction permits.)

Back to TV news: now that the FCC has ordered stations to declare a definite date for the end of their analog signals, we can tell you that before analog full-power TV signs off for good June 12, ten more stations serving Keystone State markets will have closed down their analog transmitters.

We already knew that Pittsburgh public broadcaster WQED (Channel 13) planned to end its analog signal April 1, allowing WQED-DT to move to 13 from its present spot on RF channel 38, which will then allow WQEX-DT to move from 26 to 38. And we knew religious broadcaster Cornerston planned to shut down analog on Pittsburgh-market WPCB (Channel 40) in Greensburg and Altoona's WKBS (Channel 47) on April 17.

Now we can add three shutdowns on April 16: Scranton ion affiliate WQPX (Channel 64), Philadelphia-market TBN outlet WGTW (Channel 48 Burlington NJ) and Philadelphia-market Telemundo signal WWSI (Channel 62 Atlantic City NJ).

In addition to WPCB/WKBS, shutdowns on April 17 will include two Erie stations, Nexstar's ABC affiliate WJET (Channel 24) and WFXP (Channel 66). Antenna work at WJET, which will be moving its digital signal from 58 to 24, will put the station completely off the air for several days, apparently moving some of its newscasts over to WFXP for the duration.

On April 22, public station WPSU-TV (Channel 3) in Clearfield will end its analog transmissions, and on May 22, Fox will turn off analog at WTXF (Channel 29) in Philadelphia, leaving only one Pennsylvania Fox affiliate (WPMT 43 in York) on the air in analog for the three weeks remaining before the final deadline.

Another TV note: with Pittsburgh's WQEX (Channel 16) having vacated its analog dial position, low-power WBGN-LP (Channel 59) has applied to move down the dial to channel 16. If we're reading the applications from WBGN owner Bruno Goodworth correctly, WBGN would initially operate on analog on 16, then convert to digital at some point down the road. (It can't stay on channel 59 after June 12, when the TV frequencies above channel 51 are removed from broadcast service.)

And we note the passing of Scott McCloud, who was on the air at WCRO (1230) and WKYE (95.5) in Johnstown back in the day. McCloud worked as a teacher of English and journalism in the Johnstown schools for nearly three decades before his death March 16 at age 64.

*Our NEW JERSEY news is sad news this week, starting with an obituary for Mike "Spyder" McGuire, who'd been doing afternoons at WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin) for the last decade, and mornings at WAYV (95.1 Atlantic City) for two decades before that. McGuire had been fighting colon cancer for the last few months, taking a leave of absence last October before returning to the air briefly in January.

McGuire, who was also heard on the station's weekend "Beatles Brunch," his particular pride and joy, died March 15 at the too-young age of 55.

And in south Jersey, they're mourning Bill Gravino, who was known as "Bill Marshall" during his time as PD of WVLT (92.1 Vineland) and then many years as operations manager at WTMR (800 Camden) before his death March 19.

Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as an e-book or printed volume!

*The lead story out of eastern MASSACHUSETTS is probably the inexplicable, and largely pointless, feud that's brewing between two WTKK (96.9) personalities, syndicated morning man Don Imus and afternoon talker Jay Severin, which exploded into a nasty verbal tiff between the two during a Boston appearance by Imus last week. Or maybe it was the latest chapter in WTKK midday talker Michael Graham's self-promotional attempt to turn a minor traffic stop into a cause celebre.

In either case, we're going to shirk our editorial duties this week, pleading a combination of Mrs. NERW's ongoing recovery from surgery (she's doing much better, thanks), an ailing elderly dog, two rambunctious kids and a laptop that was out of commission most of the week...and suggest that if you (unlike us) are truly interested in the details of these stories, you'd do well to pay a visit to our colleague Mark over at Boston Radio Watch, or perhaps to the Herald or Globe. And yes, we'll try harder to care next week...

(In all seriousness, if you've sent us an e-mail in the last few weeks and haven't heard back, it's probably safe to try again, now that we're starting to dig out from the backlog - and thanks for your patience! We'll be back with a new Tower Site of the Week this Friday, too...)

More changes at "ESPN 890" (WAMG 890 Dedham/WLLH 1400 Lowell): The "Lew and Mike" afternoon show is history, now that co-host Lew Goldstein is leaving the station to focus on his career in auto sales. Kevin Winter is now handling afternoons, with a rotating cast of guest hosts that included former WBZ-TV sports director Bob Lobel last week.

In the Springfield market, Marc Spencer signed off at country WPKX (97.9 Enfield CT) Friday. The former afternoon jock/MD/APD is leaving the radio industry; no replacement has been named yet.

Six analog TV stations in the Boston market told the FCC they're terminating operations early. On April 16, ion will pull the plug on its simulcast stations, WBPX (68 Boston)/WPXG (21 Concord NH)/WDPX (58 Vineyard Haven), while WWDP (Channel 46) in Norwell will also go dark on analog. A week later, on April 23, WGBX (Channel 44) will shut down its analog transmitter, which has been experiencing technical problems. And on April 30, Daystar will silence WYDN (Channel 48) in Worcester, ending the third go-round for TV operation from the top of Mount Asnebumskit in Paxton.

Meanwhile, low-power stations are already lining up to fill the voids being left by departing analog operations. Guenter Marksteiner's pioneering digital HD low-power station, WHDN-LD, has applied to move from its present channel 26 (where it's claiming short-spacing to WHPX-DT in New London CT and WTEN-DT in Albany) to channel 38 once WSBK leaves that channel in June. The station would remain atop the One Boston Place skyscraper near Government Center.

*Classes at the closed CSB School of Broadcasting (formerly the CONNECTICUT School of Broadcasting) could resume as early as today for students who were nearing graduation when the school filed for bankruptcy and suspended operations earlier this month. The school is working with a bankruptcy court to complete classes for those students while it liquidates its operations.

*A small-scale station sale in MAINE: Dan Priestly's Waterfront Communications is selling the construction permits for 1230 in Newport and 1240 in Ellsworth to Wireless Fidelity of North America, owned by Gary Fogg, for $44,000. Priestly's construction permits for the stations were due to expire this month, but the sale to Fogg will start the CP clock running again for another 18 months, thanks to the FCC's rule that allows an extension for certain sales to small owners with no other broadcast interests.

*The fallout from the economic collapse in CANADA continued to dominate the headlines there this week, and nowhere more so than in Hamilton, Ontario, where fans of CHCH-TV (Channel 11) joined political leaders and some of the station's staffers in a bid to save the station as a local voice.

While owner Canwest Global continues to mull over the station's future, including a possible sale to a group made up of current staffers, viewers marched from Hamilton City Hall to the station's Jackson Street studios for a parking lot rally on Tuesday in hopes of reminding Canwest officials that there's a 55-year history of local programming in Hamilton that's in danger of being wiped out if station operations are cut back even further.

It's not just Canwest feeling the cuts, and it's not just Hamilton; in Montreal, CTV is cancelling its 6 AM local newscast on CFCF-TV (Channel 12), replacing it with more of the national "Canada AM" and sending anchor Herb Luft back to reporting duties.

In Sudbury, Ontario, it appears the country format at CIGM (790) won't survive the station's move to FM; morning host Scott Overton is gone, and in a farewell letter published in the Sudbury Star, he hinted that a new format is on the way when CIGM-FM launches.

To the west, Manitoulin Island's local radio station is getting more power: CFRM (100.7 Little Current) has been granted a power increase, from 1830 watts to 27.5 kW.

Outside of Montreal, two small-town FM stations want to increase their power levels, and they're prepared to accept some interference to make it happen. CHAA (103.3 Longueuil) is applying to increase power from 263 watts DA to 1545 watts DA, while CJLM (103.5 Joliette) wants to increase its power from 3 kW to 4.5 kW.

And in a week that seems to be overly full of obituaries, we close, sadly, with yet another: Brian Smith was a friend to DXers everywhere through his work with the Ontario DX Association and Toronto's "AM 740." Since that frequency became home to CHWO in 2001, and more recently in its latest incarnation as CFZM, Smith had served as its QSL coordinator, handling the many reception reports that poured in from all over for its powerful 50 kW signal, as well as running a mailing list devoted to the station and even providing some of its music and creating a webpage providing station information before CHWO had its own page up and running.

Smith, whose day job was as an emergency medical technician, suffered a brain aneurysm a week ago and died on Thursday (March 19).

He was just 52.

From the NERW Archives

(Yup, we've been doing this a long time now, and so we're digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five, 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 for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

March 24, 2008 -

  • Ask just about any top-40 DJ of a certain generation to list their most respected colleagues, and the name "Jackson Armstrong" is almost sure to pop up somewhere near the top. Armstrong, whose real name was John Larsh, died Saturday at his North Carolina home, ending a career that found "Your LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEADER" behind the mic everywhere from Los Angeles (KTNQ, KKHR, KFI) to Boston (WMEX). Armstrong's career began at his hometown WCOG in Greensboro, NC in 1964, but he came into his fast-talking persona in Cleveland, where he worked both for WIXY and competitor WKYC.
  • Armstrong came to Boston in 1968 to work at WMEX, spending most of the next seven years in the northeast at CHUM in Toronto, WKBW in Buffalo (where his three-year stint on the night shift is still fondly remembered by listeners all over the northeast), WPOP in Hartford, WKTQ in Pittsburgh (where he was a key part of 13Q from 1973-75) and even a short stint at KDKA. A few years later, he did one shift on New York's WNBC as "The Unknown DJ" before heading west to work in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Fresno. Armstrong returned to the northeast airwaves in 2003 when WKBW (by then known as WWKB) returned to an oldies format, voicetracking first an evening shift and then an afternoon shift from North Carolina until the demise of the oldies on KB in 2006.
  • In a memorial message, Armstrong's daughter Devon writes, "If you knew him at all, you'd know he wouldn't want you to be sad for a moment...he would also want you to help fight to bring back the personality in radio if at all possible. He loved being a DJ almost as much as he loved being a father and that says A LOT." Armstrong was 62.
  • In CONNECTICUT, NBC Universal is putting WVIT (Channel 30) up for sale after just over a decade of network ownership. The New Britain-licensed station has actually been owned by NBC twice during its 55 years on the air, first from 1957-1959 (under the WNBC-TV calls) and then again since a 1997 trade with Paramount (which acquired WLWC-TV New Bedford/Providence and WWHO-TV in the Columbus, Ohio market). Under NBC's ownership, WVIT has been a solid competitor in the spread-out Hartford/New Haven market, consistently hitting at least second place in the local news ratings, with some nice first-place finishes in the February sweeps among 25-54 viewers in the mornings and at 11.
  • When NBC Universal announced plans to shed many of its smaller-market stations (including Providence's WJAR), WVIT was conspicuously missing from the list - and indeed, it wasn't long after the sale of WJAR and other NBC O&Os to Media General that NBC announced plans to build a new high-tech studio facility for WVIT next door to its half-century-old facility on New Britain Avenue in West Hartford. That new building is currently going up in what had been WVIT's parking lot, but by the time it's finished, the station is expected to have a new owner.
  • A windstorm in Bangor ripped the roof off the MAINE Public Broadcasting administration building Friday afternoon. In January, MPBN had announced plans to move its staffers (about two dozen of them) out of that building, at 65 Texas Avenue, and into the neighboring building at 63 Texas Avenue that already houses MPBN studios and master control. Only the lower two floors of the three-story administration building were occupied when the windstorm hit, and that meant staffers escaped injury when the roof came off. Because of damage to power lines, incoming electric feeds to the 63 Texas Ave. building were cut off after the storm came through, and MPBN operated its master control from generator power for several hours while the winds died down. It's not clear yet whether MPBN will speed up its plans to move next door; we'll keep you posted.
  • There's a new TV newscast on the air in VERMONT. As we predicted when Fox outlet WFFF (Channel 44) launched a 10 PM newscast last year, the same news team is now producing a broadcast for sister ABC outlet WVNY (Channel 22). But instead of competing head-on with the Burlington/Plattsburgh market's two news behemoths, WCAX (Channel 3) and WPTZ (Channel 5), WVNY is running its newscast on weeknights at 7 PM. And it's branding the show, oddly enough, as "Fox 44 News at 7."

March 22, 2004 -

  • One of the most interesting stories we've followed here on NERW in the last decade has been the growth of the Vox group around the region, as Bruce Danziger and Jeff Shapiro began with a handful of stations and built them into one of the dominant ownership blocks in New England. But with last week's announcement that Vox would part with 10 of its core stations in VERMONT and NEW HAMPSHIRE, the ride appears to be nearing an end. For $22 million, New Jersey's Nassau Broadcasting will add the Barre-Montpelier cluster of talker WSNO (1450 Barre VT), "Froggy" country WWFY (100.9 Berlin VT) and top 40 WORK (107.1 Barre VT); the Upper Valley cluster of sports simulcast WNHV (910 White River Junction VT)/WTSV (1230 Claremont NH), "Bob Country" WSSH (95.3 White River Junction VT)/WZSH (107.1 Bellows Falls VT), "Oldies 104" WXOD (104.3 Hartford VT)/WCFR (96.3 Walpole NH) and the big signal of rocker WHDQ (106.1 Claremont NH) to its fast-growing station group. (For those keeping score at home, these 10 stations join 20 more that Nassau bought or is buying in New Hampshire and Maine: WBYA, WBQI and WBQX in the Bangor area; WTHT, WMEK, WLAM, WMTW, WMTW-FM and WBQW in the Portland area; WBQQ and WQEZ in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport; WLNH, WBHG, WEMJ and WLKZ in New Hampshire's Lakes Region; WNHI, WNNH, WOTX and WJYY in Concord and WHOB in Nashua. Nassau says the latest deal will give it more stations than any one owner has ever had in New England, and we can't find any reason to disagree.)
  • A veteran MASSACHUSETTS jock has a new gig: Bill Abbate, long of Infinity's WBCN (104.1), is joining Greater Media's WBOS (92.9 Brookline) as Amy Brooks' morning co-host. Meanwhile, Barbara Jean Scannell is leaving Greater Media (where she was general sales manager) to be the new GM at Infinity's WBMX (98.5). WBMX gets a new OM/PD, too, as Jon Zellner arrives from Kansas City's KMXV/KSRC to handle programming for Mix and for WODS (103.3 Boston). Zellner is also Infinity's VP for adult top 40 programming.
  • And here's some good news: David Brudnoy returns to the air tonight at WBZ (1030), where he's been off the air since last September. We couldn't be happier to welcome him back!
  • WXCT (990) in Southington, CONNECTICUT is getting a new owner, as ADD Media files to sell the talk station to the Davidson Media Group for a reported $1.4 million. Davidson owns or is buying six stations in North Carolina, most of them running either Spanish-language programming or religion.
  • A northeast PENNSYLVANIA broadcaster is in trouble with the law. Doug Lane, owner of WWDL (104.9 Scranton), WICK (1400 Scranton) and WYCK (1340 Plains), was arrested last week and charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and corrupting a minor. Police say Lane molested a boy between 1990 and 1994; the victim, now 25, recently came forward, and media accounts say several others have now also accused Lane of molesting them. Lane is free on $10,000 bail.

March 19, 1999 -

  • When a radio station dismisses air talent, the talent usually goes quietly. Two disc jockeys in Albany, NEW YORK are trying to change that relationship. Bob Mason and Bill Sheehan were fired from WXCR (102.3 Ballston Spa) last year, just a year or so after jumping to the upstart classic rocker from their longtime home at competitor WPYX (106.5). On Monday, they filed a $50 million lawsuit against WXCR's owner, Clear Channel Communications, alleging everything from fraud to breach of contract to age discrimination.
  • Mason and Sheehan tell Mark McGuire of the Albany Times Union they were a "valuable commodity" when they made the move to WXCR, but now they're "damaged goods," and they blame what they call a Clear Channel "conspiracy" that's kept them off the air for seven months now. The pair say Clear Channel hired them away from WPYX to remove the competition they were offering to Howard Stern, heard in Albany on Clear Channel's WQBK/WQBJ (103.9/103.5). With that accomplished, they believe Clear Channel had no further use for them, and they think they're being blackballed from potential openings at other area stations.
  • There's more morning-show shuffling taken place in northern New York, at the Clancy-Mance cluster in Watertown. Johnny and Erica Spezzano's top-rated show is moving from hot AC WTOJ (103.1 Carthage) over to sister CHR "The Border," WBDR (102.7 Cape Vincent) and WWLF (106.7 Copenhagen), as part of a series of changes at WTOJ that are moving that station towards a softer AC format. Joe Brosh moves to WTOJ's morning drive from afternoons, and Border morning guy Jack Day completes the circle by moving to WTOJ in afternoon drive. Across town at WTNY (790), Mike Gallagher's syndicated talk show debuts in the 9-noon slot, bumping Laura Schlesinger to the 3-6 PM slot now being occupied by One-on-One Sports. And for those still wondering: Yes, Johnny Spezzano is the brother of Rochester's WPXY morning guy Scott Spezzano, and a dead ringer on the air, too.
  • Heading back downstate, there's nothing but silence where the lone local voice of Rockland County used to be. WRKL (910 New City) signed off at 3 PM on Thursday (March 18), as new owners Polnet decide what to do with the station. Rockland County officials are understandably uneasy about this, since they've relied on WRKL as essentially their only conduit for emergency information. We'll be keeping an eye on this one; WRKL was always one of the best small-market news operations in the state, and it would be a shame to lose it for good. Rockland's only other radio station, noncommercial WNYK (88.7 Nyack), has applied to move its transmitter slightly to the northeast, moving up from 10 watts at 17 meters to 2 watts at 139 meters, which should improve coverage considerably.
  • Plenty of changes this week involving Chancellor Media, beginning with the company's decision not to follow through on plans to acquire LIN Television. LIN's Northeast properties are WTNH (Channel 8) New Haven and WIVB (Channel 4) Buffalo. Chancellor did win FCC approval this week for its merger with Capstar, which brings a whole host of Northeast stations into the Chancellor group, including the Albany cluster of WGNA AM-FM/WTRY AM-FM/WPYX/WXLE, the Hartford cluster of WPOP/WWYZ/WKSS/WMRQ/WHCN, New Haven's WPLR, and Stamford/Norwalk's WNLK/WSTC/WEFX/WKHL. Four Capstar stations that aren't going to Chancellor are WRKI/WINE Brookfield and WAXB/WPUT just across the New York line in Patterson and Brewster. They remain in trust awaiting a buyer; a proposed sale fell through last fall.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, there's finally a signal on 106.3 in Northampton, almost two decades after the FCC began the application process for that channel. After years of competitive hearings among several applicants, a settlement was reached recently, and now listeners in the Pioneer Valley have reported hearing signal tests from the new WEIB. No word yet on format for this one.
  • In MAINE, we now know why 1490 in Portland is changing calls from WPOR(AM) to WBAE. The station will soon end its simulcast of WPOR-FM's country music in favor of satellite adult standards as "the Bay." It may not be a huge revenue producer for Saga, but it will likely shave a bit off the ratings of standards WLAM (870 Gorham/106.7 N. Windham). Ironically, WLAM's morning man is Bud Sawyer, who spent decades at WPOR before being let go last year.

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