December 14, 2009
Economy Claims PA's WPAZ
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WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Sad
news this morning from Pittsburgh, where KDKA (1020) reports
the death of its veteran talk host Fred Honsberger. "Honz"
died this morning at his home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville.
He was just 58, and had been at KDKA for 30 years. We'll have
a complete obituary in Monday's NERW.
There's also a name to attach to yesterday's tower fatality
in Watkins Glen - the worker who was killed was Dirk Remington,
46, of Clyde.
There's a tower down in upstate New York. Tower crews were working
on the 400' tower of WRCE (1490 Watkins Glen) Monday afternoon
when the 41-year-old structure collapsed, killing one worker.
(The worker's ID has not yet been released as of Tuesday morning.)
And yes, that's the very tower featured on the December 2009
page of the Tower Site Calendar, in a somewhat eerie coincidence...
*A longtime AM voice in southeastern PENNSYLVANIA
has fallen silent.
Great Scott Broadcasting,
which has owned WPAZ (1370 Pottstown) since Herb Scott put the
station on the air back in 1951, abruptly pulled the little local
AM station off the air Thursday, putting four full-time staffers
and two part-timers out of work without notice.
Mitchell Scott, son of the station's founder, told the Pottstown
Mercury that the station no longer fit with the rest of
his company, which is based in Maryland, several hours away -
but that he hopes to find a buyer who can get the station back
on the air. It's listed with Pittsburgh-based broker Ray Rosenblum
*Another station sale in central Pennsylvania: Bruce Collier
has been operating WHYL (960 Carlisle) under an LMA for more
than a year now. Under the name "Trustworthy Radio,"
a partnership with Joseph Green of WWII (720 Shiremanstown),
he's converting the LMA to a purchase from licensee WS2K Radio,
for $300,000 plus a $150,000 promissory note.
Radio People on the Move: Tim Herbster, who was known as "Romeo"
on New York's Z100, has rejoined Clear Channel as PD/afternoon
drive for WIOQ (102.1 Philadelphia). Herbster, who'd most recently
been working with webcaster Goom, will also serve as director
of digital content for Clear Channel's Philly cluster.
A call change on the shores of the Delaware River: as-yet-unbuilt
WQCD (1450 Milford) has changed calls to WDRE.
On the TV front, there's a new news director at Wilkes-Barre's
WBRE (Channel 28): Jeremy Settle moves north from Newschannel
8 in Washington to fill the slot last held by Ron Krisulevicz.
Some neat holiday programming in Pittsburgh: Steel City radio
vets Chuck Brinkman, John Summers and Clarke Ingram have joined
forces to put together a special countdown of the top hits of
1963, which will air from noon-3 PM Christmas Eve as part of
the 60th anniversary celebration at WRCT (88.3). A week later,
WRCT's Jay Thurber will be back on the air with a re-creation
of the station's 1969 sound, in glorious mono. Thurber, who hosts
the retro "Radio 9" show on Saturdays, will count down
the year's biggest hits from 9 until midnight, when "1969"
will give way to 2010.
And perhaps you thought NERW was a safe place to avoid having
to hear about the goofballs who crashed that White House state
dinner? No such luck - but you can blame Radio-Info's Tom Taylor,
who dug up the interesting news that Michaele Salahi, nee Holt,
had a northeast PA radio connection: she was the receptionist
at WKRZ in Wilkes-Barre in the late eighties, where she reportedly
was never able to load the paper in the fax machines properly...
THE 2010 CALENDAR
IS HERE - AND IT'S ON SALE!
The brand-new Tower Site Calendar 2010 is
now shipping, complete with more than a dozen full-color images
of sites from Deer Point in Boise to KYPA in Los Angeles to Mount
Mansfield in Vermont.
We're selling them at a pretty good pace
this year, which means a January sellout is likely.
And to move them out the door even faster,
we're offering a one-day Cyber Monday Sale!
Order before midnight tonight and you'll
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*Sports radio listeners in central NEW
YORK are in for a change next spring, when Ed Levine's Galaxy
group takes over the ESPN Radio affiliation currently held by
Citadel's WNSS (1260 Syracuse).
Starting March 5, 2010, ESPN will move to the new "ESPN
Radio 97.7 and 100.1" in Syracuse and Oswego, and to Galaxy's
"Game" trio in Utica (WTLB 1310 Utica/WRNY 1350 Rome/WIXT
1230 Little Falls).
Those FM frequencies
aren't full-power stations - they're translators W249BC (97.7
Mattydale) and W259AX, which is being moved into Oswego, and
they'll be relaying Galaxy's AM stations in the market, WTLA
(1200 North Syracuse) and WSGO (1440 Oswego), which have been
doing satellite-fed standards.
In addition to ESPN's national programming, the Galaxy stations
will expand on the Syracuse University sports content already
being heard on Galaxy's "TK99" (WTKW 99.5 Bridgeport/WTKV
105.5 Oswego), with additional coverage of SU sports.
And one more development: Galaxy's little daytimer up north,
WSCP (1070 Sandy Creek), which has been relaying "TK99 &
TK 105," will flip to ESPN Deportes Spanish-language sports...and
as one wag points out, the new format will indeed serve listeners
in Mexico. (Mexico, Oswego County, New York, that is.)
So what happens to WNSS? The local Brent Axe afternoon sports-talk
show will continue, reports CNYRadio.com,
and additional programming announcements will follow next year.
(Fox Sports Radio is probably off the table, since it's already
heard on Clear Channel's WHEN 620.)
And speaking of the Oswego stations, we're sorry to report
the passing of their longtime owner. Bob Gessner bought WSGO
back in 1971, put WSGO-FM (now WTKV) on the air a few years later,
and ran the stations as paragons of small-town local radio for
a quarter of a century. Under Gessner's leadership, the stations
moved to their current transmitter location off Route 481 in
1989, when the FM station took on the new calls WGES.
Gessner's earlier career had included station management and
ownership downstate, including a stint at New York's WCBS and
the founding of WBNR (1260 Beacon), which he operated with Sy
and Alfred Dresner (yes, "Gessner and Dresner").
Gessner retired in 1996 when he sold the Oswego stations to
Galaxy. He died Dec. 5 in Kissimmee, Florida, at the age of 86.
*Galaxy's not the only broadcaster making translator moves
this week: in Gloversville, Mike Sleezer's WFNY (1440) is buying
W233AM (94.5) from Northeast Gospel Broadcasting for $33,600.
The payments will be made not in cash but as credit towards tower
space for Northeast's new WNGG (90.9 Gloversville).
In Watkins Glen, the Finger Lakes Radio Group (which owns
WFLR 1570 and an FM translator in nearby Dundee) is buying W270BY
(101.9) from Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes for $18,000.
And in Rochester, the FCC has granted a CP to Family Life
Network to move translator W220DE (91.9 Greece) from the west
side of town to Pinnacle Hill, shifting to 92.1 with 99 watts.
*Radio People on the Move: Egypt is the new middayer at Inner
City Broadcasting's WBLS (107.5 New York). She was last heard
across town on Clear Channel's WWPR (Power 105.1).
are they now? Longtime Rochester TV personality Jerry Carr, who
made a name for himself doing "The Weather Outside"
on WOKR (Channel 13) in the sixties, then served as founding
GM of WUHF (Channel 31) in the eighties, is retiring from his
most recent job down in Florida. For the last 13 years, Carr
has been president and CEO of public broadcaster WXEL-TV/FM in
West Palm Beach, and he'll leave that post at the end of March.
*Two more from the obituary columns: Paul Godofsky, who co-founded
Long Island's WHLI (1100 Hempstead) and WKJY (98.3 Hempstead)
with his brother Elias back in 1947, died on Friday (Dec. 11)
at age 91. Paul Godofsky served as president of the stations
for more than 30 years, until they were sold in the late seventies.
And Paul Jeffers, the only man to serve as news director at
both WCBS (880) and WINS (1010) when the stations were competitors,
died Dec. 4 at age 75.
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*In MASSACHUSETTS, Lady D is out after
four years on the night shift at WBMX (104.1), her latest stop
in a long career that's also included WXKS-FM (Kiss 108), WZOU/WJMN
(94.5) and WQSX (Star 93.7). She did her last airshift at Mix
104 on Friday; no replacement has been named yet.
On the public radio side, WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston) quietly reversed
some of the weekend schedule changes that had listeners complaining
last week. "Speaking of Faith" was back on the air
at noon on Sunday, followed by the briefly-cancelled "Marketplace
Money," and "Wait Wait..." is now down to just
three airings each weekend.
For more than three decades, PD Oedipus handled Christmas-eve
duties on WBCN (104.1), building a following for his unusual
collection of holiday music - but with no WBCN this Christmas,
Oedipus is moving to his former competitor. WFNX (101.7 Lynn)
invited Oedipus to bring his show down the dial this year, and
he'll be behind the board from 6 until midnight that night.
*A RHODE ISLAND religious station
has fallen silent: WRJI (91.5 East Greenwich) was sharing time
with high-school station WCVY (91.5 Coventry), but there's been
no sign of Spanish-religious WRJI for a while now...
*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, part of the "Morning
Waking Crew" at WOKQ (97.5 Dover)/WPKQ (103.7 North Conway)
is missing: Danielle Carrier did her last show on Friday, we're
Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as
an e-book or printed volume!
*There's a new AM station on the air in
CANADA's capital region. About a year and a half ago,
we'd passed along some erroneous reports from DXers who though
they'd heard test transmissions from "Radio Enfant,"
CJEU (1670 Gatineau QC). The French-language children's station
wasn't on the air then - but it really did begin testing this
CING (95.3) has a new nickname for its 70s-pop format. It's now
"Vinyl 95.3," and it's not quite jockless anymore:
former CFTR (680 Toronto) jock Bob Saint has been heard pulling
airshifts at the Corus classic hits outlet.
And a longtime Ottawa station manager has died. Jack Daly
was sports director and then general manager of CKOY (1310, now
CIWW) and CKBY (105.3, now CKIS) from 1951 until 1979. He died
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. Note that 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!)
December 15, 2008 -
- It's been almost 18 years since a massive ice storm paralyzed
us here in the Rochester area, leaving some areas without power
for more than two weeks. And it's been just over a decade since
an even more massive ice storm struck an area stretching from
northern New York up through eastern Ontario and into much of
Quebec, knocking power out to some areas for as long as a month.
By those standards, the ice storm that hit central MASSACHUSETTS,
southern VERMONT and NEW HAMPSHIRE on Friday was relatively minor
- but even "relatively" minor is still a big deal for
people everywhere from Fitchburg to Lowell to Peterborough to
White River Junction, for whom it could still be a while before
things are back to normal.
- The good news is that, at least as this column is being written
on Sunday night, there are no reports of any downed towers in
the region. What the massive power outages are demonstrating,
however, is a surprisingly large number of stations apparently
lacking working generators at either studio or transmitter sites.
Much of the Worcester market was knocked off the air in the storm's
first hours, including both news-talk AMs, Clear Channel's WTAG
(580) and Carter's WCRN (830). WCRN remained off through Saturday,
but WTAG was soon back on the air with nonstop emergency information,
and still going strong late Sunday. There have been widespread
power outages along much of the Route 2 corridor to the north,
with numerous stations off the air everywhere from Athol to Fitchburg
to Lowell and Lawrence.
- Across the New Hampshire line, the worst of the outages have
been on the state's western edge; there were numerous reports
of stations off the air from Peterborough and Keene up through
the Upper Valley, where most of the market's stations were still
silent on Saturday afternoon. (Notable exceptions were Nassau's
WHDQ 106.1 Claremont and Bob Vinikoor's cluster, where WNTK/WUVR
in the New London/Hanover area, WCNL in Newport and WCFR in Springfield,
Vermont were all on the air through most of the storm and its
aftermath with local news and information.)
- On with the rest of the week's news, starting with more big
changes in Boston morning radio, where CBS Radio abruptly pulled
the plug on WBMX (98.5 Boston) morning man John Lander after
his Thursday show. In addition to Lander, who'd been at Mix since
1996, when he replaced Joe Martelle, sidekicks Kelly Malone,
Alicia Love and weather guy Mike Ellis are all gone. Who's next
for morning drive at the hot AC station? Over at Boston Radio
Watch, Mark reports that Karson Tager, late of WHBQ-FM (107.5)
in Memphis, will be coming to Boston in January along with his
former co-host Kennedy Elsey, who's still at the Memphis station
for now - and he says the new "Karson and Kennedy"
show will be aiming for a younger demographic than Lander attracted.
(Unspoken in that is the assumption that they'll work cheaper,
- On the TV side of things, we note the start of local HD newscasts
at WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and sister station WSBK (Channel 38) on
Thursday, which we believe leaves only Fox's WFXT (Channel 25)
as a major local-news player in Boston without HD. But WFXT has
bigger concerns at the moment: after many months fighting problems
with its aging analog transmission system, we're hearing that
WFXT's analog signal finally gave up the ghost for good last
week, leaving only WFXT-DT (RF 31), which is not yet at full
power. Interestingly, WFXT had just last month submitted an STA
application to the FCC asking for reduced analog power (293 kW
visual) through the end of the transition period, due to "recent,
partial damage to the licensed antenna."
- Another Bay State analog TV station - albeit one that mainly
serves RHODE ISLAND viewers - has gone dark. New Bedford-licensed
WLWC (Channel 28), the CW affiliate for the Providence market,
turned off its analog transmitter on December 9, leaving WLWC-DT
- A veteran PENNSYLVANIA jock is back on the air: Greater Media
has hired Glenn Kalina as the morning man on WNUW (97.5 Burlington
NJ), making "Now 97.5" the latest stop in a career
that's included WZZD, WCAU-FM, WIFI, WIOQ, WLCE and WMWX. Kalina
starts at "Now" on January 5.
December 13, 2004 -
- MASSACHUSETTS - and the nation - lost one of the great ones
- Since 1976, David Brudnoy had entertained, educated and,
often, irritated audiences on WHDH (850), WRKO (680) and - starting
in 1986 - the 50,000-watt night signal of WBZ (1030 Boston).
In 1994, Brudnoy came to the nation's attention when he revealed
that he was suffering from AIDS. After a viral infection related
to the disease put him in a coma for nine days and kept him off
the air for ten weeks, Brudnoy returned to the air with a reduced
shift (7-10 PM instead of 7-midnight), a new studio (in the library
of his Back Bay home) and a profile raised by appearances on
national TV and the publication of his memoirs, Life is Not A
- Brudnoy's illnesses continued to take him off the air occasionally
in recent years, but it quickly became clear that his latest
absence, which began on December 1, was a serious one. Last Wednesday,
Brudnoy gave an interview to WBZ anchor Gary LaPierre in which
he announced that his Merkel cell carcinoma had spread to his
liver and kidneys and that he did not expect to live more than
a few days. Wednesday night's Brudnoy show, hosted by former
WBZ personality and close Brudnoy friend Peter Meade, took the
form of an on-air wake, with Brudnoy listening from his room
at Massachusetts General Hospital as politicians, authors and
average listeners called in to say how much Brudnoy had meant
to them. At 6:11 the following night, Brudnoy succumbed to his
cancer. He was 64.
- There was other news, in MASSACHUSETTS and elsewhere, ill-equipped
as we were to deal with it in the face of the sad news from WBZ.
Over at sister station WODS (103.3 Boston), veteran New England
programmer Pete Falconi (late of Worcester's WXLO) takes over
as music director and midday host, filling the shoes of the departed
- In yet another corner of the Infinity Boston cluster, the
changing of the guard continued at WBCN (104.1 Boston), where
afternoon jock Nik Carter, one of the last remaining veterans
of the Oedipus era at the rock station, is out of a job, with
his contract not being renewed and no replacement named just
- On any other week, the sudden death of a veteran upstate
NEW YORK morning man would have been our lead story, and we're
saddened indeed to have to report the passing of WBEE (92.5 Rochester)'s
Bill Coffey. Bill started at WBEE in 1988, not long after the
station flipped to country, and he held down mornings there until
he was forced to return to his native southeastern Pennsylvania
to care for his ailing father.
- Three years later, the departure of his successor, Fred Horton
(now in Erie, Pennsylvania at WXTA) created an opening at WBEE,
and thanks to the modern miracle of ISDN, Bill was once again
hosting the "Coffee Club," this time from the comfort
of his home in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania. The show worked, though,
thanks to local co-host (and WBEE veteran) Terry Clifford and
frequent visits to Rochester by Coffey. After a show last Monday
that went without a hitch, the staff at WBEE was shocked to get
a phone call later in the morning saying that Bill had suffered
a heart attack, collapsed and died. He was just 56; he leaves
behind his wife, Barbara, and three children.
December 10, 1999 -
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- We begin this week's news in western NEW YORK, and we begin
with an obituary. John Otto, the talk host credited with pioneering
the form in the region, died early Monday morning at Buffalo
General Hospital of emphysema.
- Otto's broadcast career began at the old WBNY (1400) in Buffalo
at the tender age of 19. After two years in the Navy, Otto spent
the rest of his five-decade tenure in Buffalo radio, most of
it with WGR (550), where his "Extension 55" and "Night
Call" were the city's best-known talk shows in the 1960s
and 70s. Otto took a detour to WWKB (1520) for a few years in
the mid-80s, then returned to WGR for the rest of his career.
For the past year, Otto did his 10PM-1AM shift from his home,
as his health deteriorated and he became unable to get to the
WGR studios. In 1998, Otto was named to the Buffalo Broadcast
Pioneers' Hall of Fame.
- Otto was hospitalized last weekend after suffering a fall
at home. As news of his death spread Monday morning, the response
was immediate from across the Buffalo media community, exemplified
by WBEN's Sandy Beach: "We have lost our teacher."
WGR devoted its Monday and Tuesday night shows to remembrances
of Otto. John Otto was 70 years old.
- In other news from the Empire State, there's now a format
war in Rochester -- in adult standards, of all things! Just like
it did in Dallas and Denver this fall, Crawford Broadcasting
has dropped the religious format from WDCZ (990) in Rochester,
replacing it with a locally-generated (or at least very slickly
voice-tracked) standards format as "Legends 990," WLGZ(AM),
complete with PAMS jingles. The religion continues on WDCZ-FM
(102.7 Webster). WLGZ goes head-to-head with dial neighbor WEZO
(950), whose standards format is entirely satellite-delivered,
not to mention pre-empted by Spanish nightly from 7-9 PM.
- For those keeping score, this is callsign number six (WNYR,
WEZO, WRMM, WCMF, WDCZ, WLGZ) and format number eight for 990
in the twenty years it's been on that frequency. (Boston-area
listeners might want to check WLGZ out at night; its directional
signal comes in very nicely in and around the Hub!)
- In MASSACHUSETTS, Citadel begins filling the gaps between
its New Hampshire cluster (ex-Fuller-Jeffrey) and its Connecticut/Rhode
Island stations (ex-Tele-Media and Spring) with a $24.5 million
purchase of Montachusett Broadcasting's WXLO (104.5 Fitchburg)
and WORC-FM (98.9 Spencer). WXLO's huge signal reaches from southern
New Hampshire across central Massachusetts (east as far as Boston)
and into Connecticut and Rhode Island. Classic rock WORC-FM is
a much more limited signal, serving southern Worcester County
and not much else. The sale pretty much completes the mega-grouping
of Worcester, with WTAG and WSRS in Clear Channel (ex-Capstar,
ex-AMFM) hands and WAAF part of Entercom. (And it's not even
the highlight of Citadel's week; that would be the 9-station,
9-figure purchase of Liggett's Michigan clusters...)
- No more Tone-Loc? WBOT (97.7 Brockton) has unveiled its permanent
format, and no, it's not "All Dead Air," either. "Wild
9-7-7" made its debut Monday night as "Boston's New
Home for Hip-Hop and R&B," taking dead aim at WJMN (94.5)
and WILD (1090) with a signal that at least does a decent job
of covering the city's black neighborhoods, even if it does leave
something to be desired to the north and west. Programming, at
least for now, is being directed out of Radio One's WERQ (92.3)
- Say goodbye to one NEW HAMPSHIRE station: Notre Dame College
in Manchester has returned the license of WRND (91.7) to the
FCC, and the calls have been deleted. WRND went silent in 1997,
and last year began simulcasting public radio WEVO (89.1 Concord).
Notre Dame dropped its journalism program this year, and the
radio station went away as well.
- We heard CANADA's newest AM station using its calls this
week. CINF (690 Montreal) is getting ready for next Tuesday's
launch as "Info 690," and the signal both day and night
in Rochester sounds an awful lot like that of the old CBF from
its Brossard, Quebec transmitter site -- but it's not! A last-minute
message from Sheldon Harvey up in Montreal informs us that 690
is diplexing off the CIQC (600) site, while English sister "940
News" (whose calls will in fact be CINW, not the previously-announced
CKNN) is diplexing off French-language CKVL (850)'s towers a
few miles to the east. Weekday programming on CIQC and CKVL wrapped
up with Friday's shows, and weekend programming will conclude
Sunday, with Monday being a dark day on all four frequencies
before Tuesday's 11 AM launch of Info 690 and 940 News. Simulcasts
will reportedly continue on 850 and 600 for up to six months.
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2009 by Scott Fybush.