January 11, 2010
Duquesne Mulls WDUQ Sale
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*As public radio has evolved into a big business
over the last quarter-century, many of the institutions that
were early sponsors of public radio stations are finding that
big-time broadcasting no longer fits their mission. The latest
example comes from western PENNSYLVANIA, where Pittsburgh's
Duquesne University announced last week that it's looking to
sell WDUQ (90.5), the station it put on the air as a low-power
student-run operation back in 1949.
is proud of the station's success," said a statement from
the station last week, "and sees that it is big enough to
exist outside the university's umbrella. While the university
continues to look at all opportunities, it is currently working
with a group comprised of the current management of DUQ, representatives
of the foundation community, and the public broadcasting consulting
group Public Radio Capital to explore the possibility of WDUQ
becoming an independent public radio station."
Duquesne's involvement with WDUQ has been largely hands-off
for the last few years; while the university continues to hold
the station's license and to provide office space, most of WDUQ's
funding now comes from individual members, underwriters and corporate/foundation
grants, and Duquesne has had little involvement with the station's
programming. One notable exception came in 2007, when the Catholic
university's leadership forced WDUQ to return underwriting money
from Planned Parenthood.
While there's no shortage of message-board speculation about
potential purchasers for the big-signalled station, it seems
clear that the intent is to keep WDUQ functioning substantially
as it already does. Its mix of NPR news/talk programming and
jazz routinely nets respectable ratings, higher than classical
competitor WQED-FM (89.3) or AAA WYEP (91.3), and with Pittsburgh's
long history of corporate funding for cultural institutions,
it's highly likely that WDUQ can be successfully transitioned
to some form of community nonprofit ownership with its current
staff and management intact.
(It's also possible that WDUQ could merge its operations with
WQED or WYEP, though neither scenario seems likely, especially
given the financial constraints under which WQED has been operating.)
*In northeast Pennsylvania, a veteran jock is on the beach
this week after a 35-year run with the same station. WFYY (106.5
Bloomsburg) is the latest incarnation of the station that was
WHLM-FM when Bob Gale started there in the mid-seventies. (He
also worked at then-sister station WHLM 550, now defunct.)
Most recently, Gale had been doing afternoons at "Y-106.5"
and voicetracking nights at sister station "Big Country"
(WYGL-FM 100.5/WLGL 92.3/WWBE 98.3), but the 60-year-old jock
says he was told his services were no longer needed after his
last live shift Dec. 30. In an interview with the Bloomsburg
Press-Enterprise, WFYY GM Carol Pierson called Gale a
"local radio legend," but said the station is "kinda,
sorta" changing format. Chad Evans, late of Sunbury Broadcasting's
WKOK/WQKX/WEGH, replaces Gale on WFYY and Big Country, and Gale
tells the newspaper he's not ready to retire yet, but doesn't
have a new gig lined up.
More Radio People on the Move: in Allentown, George King (most
recently operations manager at Clear Channel's San Antonio, Texas
cluster) replaces Shelly Easton as operations manager of Citadel's
WLEV/WCTO and PD for WCTO, while Laura St. James, late of crosstown
WAEB-FM, comes on board as PD for WLEV.
In the hills around Scranton, there are two station moves
making their way through the FCC. GEOS Communications' WNKZ (103.9
Laporte) has been granted a change of city of license to Dushore,
about 10 miles to the northeast. There's no technical change
associated with that move, at least not yet - but there's a big
one associated with the application filed last week by WFUZ (91.3
Carbondale), whose owner, Telikoja Educational Broadcasting,
is helmed by one of GEOS' principals, Kevin Fitzgerald. He's
proposing to relocate WFUZ from its present site east of Scranton
to the Brier Mountain site west of Scranton that's now home to
WCIG (107.7 Dallas), which is in turn moving to a new location.
The relocated WFUZ would change city of license to Tunkhannock,
WCIG's old city of license - and in the application, Fitzgerald
demonstrates just a sliver of overlap between WFUZ's present
60 dBu signal and its new one, in order to qualify this as a
"minor change" in FCC parlance. (One more interesting
note here: The WFUZ license on 91.3 is itself the former WCIG,
obtained from Family Life Network as part of the $1 million sale
of the present WCIG 107.7.)
More new call letters for new stations: Invisible Allies Ministries
gets WRPV for its new signal on 90.5 in Allport, in the hills
above Clearfield. And Invisible Allies (based at WRXV in State
College) is adding another signal as well: it's buying the construction
permit for WZXF (91.7 Hustontown, near Breezewood on the Pennsylvania
Turnpike) from Four Rivers Community Broadcasting for $1.
And there are two big Keystone State obituaries this week:
first, we noted the passing of veteran Pittsburgh sportscaster
and columnist Phil Musick, whose career included a long stint
with the now-defunct Pittsburgh Press, as well as time
as sports editor at the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review.
Musick was an early columnist for USA Today in the
eighties. In addition to his print work, Musick spent 11 years
as a talk host at WTAE (1250, now WEAE) before joining KDKA-TV
(Channel 2) in 1998 as managing editor. He died Jan. 5 of congestive
heart failure at age 71.
came another KDKA-TV obituary: Yvonne Zanos, the CBS station's
consumer reporter, succumbed to ovarian cancer on Friday (Jan.
8), just two days after turning 60.
Zanos was a reporter for the old "Evening Magazine"
on KDKA-TV in the seventies, then left for Kansas City before
returning to Pittsburgh in 1984 to report for crosstown WTAE-TV
(Channel 4). Zanos went on the consumer beat there in 1987, then
rejoined Channel 2 a decade later. For the last two years, Zanos
had continued to work at KDKA while undergoing treatment for
the cancer that was diagnosed in late 2007. She's survived by
her husband, two daughters and five grandchildren.
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*In MASSACHUSETTS, the big news came
from WFNX (101.7 Lynn), which pulled the plug on its "Sandbox"
morning show after two and a half years, dropping hosts Charlie
Padgett and "Special Ed" Oliveira. Co-host Dustin "Fletcher"
Matthews stays on board at the modern rocker, hosting a new morning
show with PD Keith Dakin and veteran FNX newsman Henry Santoro.
Also helping out with the new show is production director and
former afternoon jock "Big Jim" Murray, who's being
replaced in drivetime by Adam Chapman, aka "Adam 12,"
who'd left WFNX a few years back to go to the now-defunct WBCN
(104.1). Later in the evening, "Loveline" is gone,
and Paul Driscoll's night shift now runs from 6 PM until midnight.
Adam 12 isn't the only former New England radio personality
who came home last week: on the sports-talk front, Andy Gresh
departed Sirius/XM's Mad Dog Sports channel and the SNY cable
network in New York to take a new gig with CBS Radio's "Sports
Hub" (WBZ-FM 98.5) in Boston.
Gresh was already a familiar voice to Sports Hub listeners
as the host of the Patriots Radio Network pre- and post-game
shows, and he'll continue in that role, as well as hosting a
regular weekend shift and serving as the regular fill-in for
WBZ-FM's weekday talent.
Out on Martha's Vineyard, the FCC has granted a healthy power
increase to WCAI (90.1 Woods Hole), which takes advantage of
the demise of adjacent channel 6 in New Bedford/Providence to
jump from 1300 watts (vertical-only)/249' to 12.5 kW/241', significantly
boosting the coverage of WGBH's Cape and Islands service in the
Over at WGBH's main service on 89.7 in Boston, today's the
debut day for two new local talk shows: Emily Rooney of "Greater
Boston" will hold down the noon-1 PM hour, followed by Callie
Crossley from 1-2 PM. Not everyone's happy with the new 89.7
lineup, of course, and WGBH general manager John Voci got an
ear full last Tuesday as one of the panelists at a meeting organized
by the Boston Musical Intelligencer
editor, while invited to participate, was unable to do so because
of family commitments and winter-weather travel issues - but
several NERW readers were among the 400 or so in the crowd at
Old South Church, where the big issues were apparently the signal
deficiencies of WCRB (99.5 Lowell), now the only full-time source
of classical music with WGBH's move to fulltime news/talk, and
the perceived lower quality of the WGBH-produced classical programming
now being heard on 99.5. A particular concern was the removal
of the Friday afternoon Boston Symphony Orchestra broadcasts,
which Voci says would cost an additional $20,000-$30,000 annually.
Those hoping for easy solutions to these problems aren't likely
to be satisfied: existing short-spacings and FCC allocation rules
mean the 99.5 signal will be staying put at its existing Andover
transmitter site for the foreseeable future (though the WCRB
simulcast at 89.7-HD2 offers the promise of a cleaner classical
signal for listeners south of Boston willing to invest in an
HD Radio receiver), and WGBH officials seem unlikely to make
significant changes in the programming now running on "All
Classical WGBH" at 99.5.
*There's a radio sale to report: Antonio Gois is converting
his LMA of WLLH (1400 Lowell and Lawrence) and WAMG (890 Dedham)
to a purchase, for a remarkably low price - he's paying just
$1.8 million for the stations that WallerSutton-backed J Sports
bought for $9 million five years ago.
*On the TV front, you could just about hear the "I-told-you-so"s
coming from Government Center in Boston as NBC backed away from
its interesting, but poorly-executed, move of Jay Leno to 10
PM weeknights. It was concern about lower ratings for the 11
PM newscast that led WHDH-TV (Channel 7) to threaten to preempt
the prime-time Leno show last fall, and NBC says it's bowing
to concerns from many of its affiliates - not just WHDH - in
reworking its late-night strategy. The details of the new NBC
late-night plan will be announced this week at the network's
affiliate meeting, but they're believed to involve a half-hour
Leno show at 11:35, followed by Conan O'Brien at 12:05 AM, if
he stays with NBC at all.
Over at Fox's WFXT (Channel 25), helicopter reporter Doug
Meehan, who's been working from the ground since WFXT began sharing
its chopper with WBZ-TV last year, is out of a job. The station
isn't renewing his contract, and he'll leave WFXT's morning show
*In MAINE, another former affiliate
of Citadel's "Timeless" satellite-delivered standards
format has found a new programming service: WDEA (1370 Ellsworth)
is now carrying "Music of Your Life," instead.
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*It was a very quiet week in NEW YORK
radio, though it will get busier this week: longtime WABC
(770 New York) talker Curtis Sliwa starts his new morning show
today at a much smaller competitor, Salem's WNYM (970 Hackensack
NJ). Will Sliwa be a big enough name to make "970 the Apple"
a factor on a Big Apple talk landscape that currently has just
two major players, WABC and Buckley's WOR (710)?
(Speaking of WNYM, its daytime power increase to 50,000 watts
is coming at the expense of a co-channel station 200 miles away:
Salem bought WAMD in Aberdeen, Maryland a few years back, and
as of yesterday WAMD has been taken silent, eliminating one of
the hurdles to WNYM's signal boost.)
we're on the topic of signals, Fordham University's WFUV (90.7
New York) reports that it's completed the installation of its
new antenna atop a Montefiore Medical Center apartment building
in the Bronx. WFUV moved to Montefiore in 2006 from its never-completed
tower on the Fordham campus, but the 10-bay Dielectric antenna
that went up back then never quite lived up to expectations,
and now it has been replaced by a six-bay Shively directional
antenna at the same site.
Down the dial and one borough over, Columbia University's
WKCR-FM (89.9 New York) is operating with a license for the first
time since the September 11 attacks destroyed its former transmitter
site at the World Trade Center more than eight years ago. Ever
since then, WKCR has been operating under special temporary authority,
initially at low power from the roof of a Columbia dorm and then,
for more than six years now, from 4 Times Square. Last week,
the FCC finally granted a license for the Times Square site,
making WKCR the second of the four World Trade Center FMs to
be relicensed at a new site. (WKTU 103.5 is the other, licensed
at the Empire State Building since 2003; WPAT-FM 93.1 and WNYC-FM
93.9 are also at Empire under STA.)
Up the dial at 99.5, WBAI celebrated its 50th anniversary
as a Pacifica-owned noncommercial signal yesterday with a ten-hour
broadcast full of archival material from the station's turbulent
history. Missed it? Catch it again at the station's excellent
WBAI Archives site, which
provides audio files from several weeks' worth of everything
the station broadcasts.
And while we're on the topic of FM radio and New York City,
here's one last reminder of a big event this week: with 2010
marking the 75th anniversary of Major Edwin Howard Armstrong's
first demonstrations of FM radio, our friends at the Audio Engineering
Society (AES) are gearing up for a year of celebrations, beginning
with a panel discussion about Armstrong's life and legacy tomorrow,
Tuesday, January 12.
The event will run from 6:30-9:30 PM at the Hearst Corporation's
Joseph Urban Theater, on Eighth Avenue between 56th and 57th
Streets, and will include presentations from veteran New York
engineer Herb Squire of DSI, Steve Hemphill of Solid Electronics
Labs, and your editor as well. (I'll be addressing the topic
of "FM After Armstrong," looking at the technical and
regulatory changes in the medium in the half-century since Armstrong's
AES' David Bialik is moderating the event, which is free and
open to the public. There's more information at the AES
NY Section website - and we hope to see you there!
*There's a format change coming in the Hudson Valley
(and neighboring Danbury, CONNECTICUT) later today, or
so we're told - Cumulus' WDBY (105.5 Patterson) is promoting
a 1:05 PM flip to country as "Kicks 105," replacing
the AC "Y105" format that's been in place there since
UPDATE: And that's exactly what happened, as WDBY
segued out of its 1 PM "Y105" ID into five minutes
of a countdown clock, followed by the launch of country music.
Bill "Mr. Morning" Trotta, who was Y105's high-profile
hire a year ago, when he moved from his longtime home on crosstown
WDAQ (98.3 Danbury), remains in place in morning drive.
*It was an even quieter week upstate, with just one story
of note: in Johnstown, west of Albany, Pamal (6 Johnson Road
Licenses Inc.) has struck a new deal to sell long-silent WIZR
(930). Thomas J. Kuettel, a Schenectady doctor specializing in
addiction treatment, agreed last week to pay $175,000 for the
1000-watt daytime/28-watt nighttime license. (He's apparently
reached a separate deal for the real estate where WIZR's tower
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*In CANADA's biggest market, fans
of classic hits have plenty of choices these days - Astral's
new "Boom" (CHBM 97.3) and Corus' Hamilton-based "Vinyl
95.3" (CING), which debuted its new jock lineup last week,
including some familiar Toronto radio voices.
Magee, late of CHFI (98.1) and before that at the old 1050 CHUM,
is doing mornings with Corrie Miller, formerly at Vinyl's sister
station Y108 (CJXY 107.9). John Novak, a veteran of the top-40
era at Hamilton's CKOC (1150), is doing a lengthy midday shift,
from 9 AM to 3 PM - and he's followed by Gord James, who went
from CKOC to CHUM in the seventies, eventually spending 23 years
at CHUM, including seven years in mornings. Derek Rivers, another
former Y108 jock, is handling nights.
Another Toronto radio veteran, Ron Hewat, has retired. Hewat
was on the air in the fifties, sixties and seventies as an announcer
for the Maple Leafs; later, he went into sales and marketing,
developing the Blue Jays radio network in the seventies and hiring
legendary Jays announcer Tom Cheek. Most recently, Hewat has
been working as specialty sales manager at CFRB (1010), a job
he wrapped up at the end of December.
In Montreal, Ted Bird has departed Astral's CHOM (97.7), 25
years "to the day" after coming to the Montreal airwaves.
Bird came to CHOM in 1988, departed for CJFM (95.9) five years
later, then returned to CHOM in 2002. He tells the Montreal Gazette
that his creativity was being stifled by CHOM's corporate
management, and he says he has no immediate plans for a new radio
gig. For now, Bird's former morning co-hosts, "Bad Pete"
Marier and Chantal Desjardins, are handling the shift by themselves.
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!)
January 12, 2009 -
- Whether it's Generosa Aiello, the 96-year-old grandmother
from Salem who was an early Friday morning call-in fixture for
many years, or Ben Goodman, the college freshman who launched
the fan site bringbacksteve.com, or the black leaders fired up
about the firing of veteran talk host Lovell Dyett, there's nobody
out there in MASSACHUSETTS - or anywhere else in the "38
states and half of Canada" served by the night signal of
WBZ (1030 Boston) - who's got very much good to say about the
cutbacks at New England's oldest radio station.
- Indeed, the replacement of Steve LeVeille's live, local overnight
talk show with St. Louis-based Jon Grayson and "Overnight
America" was, for once, not accompanied by a puffy press
release making any inflated claims about the quality of the new
programming or the improved service being provided to the audience.
It's just as well, because nobody would believe it anyway - there's
no reason to think that anyone in local management on Soldiers
Field Road is taking any pride at the moment in what's become
of what was once one of the nation's great radio stations.
- And whether or not the imminent departure of the dean of
the station's airstaff, sports director Gil Santos, is the direct
result of budget cuts almost doesn't matter at this point, because
what once would have come as a shock - the end of one of the
longest on-air careers in the history of Boston sports - seems
to have barely registered in the context of everything else that's
changing at WBZ.
- Santos started at WBZ as a full-time staffer in 1971 after
12 years at his hometown stations in Fall River and New Bedford,
but he had already been heard on the station five years earlier
as the voice of the then-Boston Patriots, a job he held from
1966-1979 and again since 1990. Teamed with morning news anchor
Gary LaPierre, the pair developed an on-air (and behind the scenes)
repartee that kept the station at the top of the ratings for
years, and when LaPierre retired at the end of 2006, Santos remained,
providing some stability as Ed Walsh took over the anchor chair.
But while there was no shortage of publicity and promotion around
LaPierre's high-profile retirement, Santos' plans to retire at
month's end emerged in a blog posting from Boston Herald media
reporter Jessica Heslam late on Friday - drawing rounds of "no
comment" from WBZ management and, briefly, from Santos himself.
On Saturday, Santos spoke to the Herald (which has the Boston
media scene almost to itself now that the Globe has essentially
stopped covering radio), denying that he was forced out by the
station's cutbacks. At age 70, he told the paper, he's getting
too old to slog through early-morning snowstorms to get to the
station. Its been a great life and a great way to
make a living, and now its really time to move on from
that, Santos told the Herald - and while he'll continue
with his weekend job as the Patriots' play-by-play announcer
on WBCN, it certainly doesn't appear that WBZ made any particular
effort to keep Santos on board. (If the weather was a concern,
we'd note that the station was more than happy to let LaPierre
broadcast from his Florida vacation home for several years before
his retirement; surely an arrangement could have been made to
allow Santos to do his segments from his much closer home in
- With Santos' departure in a few weeks, the WBZ sports department
will have essentially ceased to exist on weekdays, following
the ousters of Alan Segel last year and of Tom Cuddy just a couple
of weeks ago, and it's not at all clear what may be in store
for WBZ's sports presence now.
- NEW YORK's "K-Rock" (WXRK 92.3) is once again reuniting
with Chris Booker, who returned from Philadelphia last Wednesday
to take the afternoon slot last occupied by British jock Ian
Camfield. This is Booker's third go-round with K-Rock, where
he did nights from 1996-2003, then moved crosstown to "Blink"
(WNEW 102.7) before returning to 92.3, where he did afternoons
in both its "K-Rock" and "Free FM" incarnations"
in 2005-06 before moving to Philadelphia and WIOQ, where he did
mornings until last May.
- After 15 years at the helm of VERMONT Public Radio, Mark
Vogelzang is moving on at month's end to a new, as-yet-unannounced
position - but he's leaving the statewide service in familiar
hands. VPR's board of directors voted last week to accept Vogelzang's
resignation, effective February 1, and to promote Robin Turnau,
VPR's vice president of development, to be the network's next
president. Turnau has been with VPR since 1989, when she joined
the network - then a single program service heard on just three
transmitters - as its membership coordinator.
- One of the Granite State's most durable air talents has died.
Bill Morrissey came to Manchester's WKBR in 1954, before the
station had even moved from its original 1240 dial position to
1250, and he remained with the station as its morning man through
its top-40 heyday and long afterward, too. Morrissey retired
in 1983, returning for a reunion in 1999 and another in 2004.
After leaving WKBR, Morrissey served as public affairs coordinator
for Public Service of New Hampshire, the statewide utility. He
died January 8 at Eliot Hospital in Goffstown, at the age of
- The end is near for two more AM stations in CANADA. In Kitchener,
CKKW-FM (99.5) signed on officially last Tuesday (Jan. 6) at
3 PM, replacing the former "Oldies 1090." The new FM
signal is being billed as "K-FUN 99.5, Tri-Cities' Greatest
Hits," and it's nearly a straight transfer of the old AM
format to FM, with the same airstaff and a somewhat freshened
classic hits approach. It's being simulcast on AM 1090, but not
for long - the AM signal is expected to be gone on Friday (Jan.
16.) In Peterborough, CKRU (980) plans to have its new FM signal
on 100.5 on the air in about a month, we're hearing.
January 10, 2005 -
- In last week's NERW, we wondered what was up with the ongoing
Christmas music on what had been the smooth jazz/adult R&B
station for NEW YORK's capital district, and now we know: Pamal
has pulled the plug on the "Love 104.9" format at WZMR
(104.9 Altamont), replacing it - apparently as more than just
a stunt - with a simulcast of country "Froggy 107"
WFFG (107.1 Corinth) from the Glens Falls market. It's a slight
shot across the bow of Regent's market-dominating WGNA (107.7
Albany), though the WZMR signal is a far cry from WGNA's big
- Citadel's fight with Howard Stern is over, at least on the
air in Syracuse, Providence, New Bedford and York, Pennsylvania;
those stations (WAQX 95.7 Manlius NY, WWKX 106.3 Woonsocket RI/WAKX
102.7 Narragansett Pier RI, WKKB 100.3 Middletown RI and WQXA-FM
105.7 York PA) hadn't been carrying Stern's show, for the most
part, since he began his vacation last month, and last week they
announced that they're dropping it for good. In Syracuse, WAQX
continues to run day-old Opie & Anthony segments, and read
on to see what the others are up to...
- Buffalo's top 40 WKSE (98.5 Niagara Falls) starts the new
year without its longtime PD. After 17 years at "Kiss,"
Dave Universal didn't return from his vacation last week, having
been ousted by station owner Entercom. A memo announcing the
change was reportedly circulating at Entercom Buffalo before
Universal had even gotten the news directly; no replacement has
yet been named.
- WOKR Remsen?!?!?! Sounds weird to us, too, but that's apparently
where Clear Channel is parking the calls that are, as of this
morning, gone from Rochester's channel 13 after just over 42
years at that spot as the only calls the ABC affiliate ever had.
At 5 AM Monday, WOKR(TV) became WHAM-TV, with original WOKR announcer
Jerry Carr (now station manager at West Palm Beach public broadcaster
WXEL) signing off the old calls for the final time. Still sounds
weird to us...
- Saga kicked off 2005 by swapping calls and formats on two
of its stations in the Keene, NEW HAMPSHIRE market: oldies WOQL
(98.7 Winchester) takes the "Wink Country" format and
WINQ calls from 97.7 Winchendon MA, sending the oldies and WOQL
calls across the state line to 97.7. The new WINQ on 98.7 challenges
market leader WYRY (104.9 Hinsdale) in the format, and from its
new transmitter site in Fitzwilliam, we hear WOQL on 97.7 is
putting quite a good signal over Keene, too.
January 14, 2000 -
- (No issue - NERW was traveling)
New England Radio Watch, January 12, 1995
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- WBCS (Country 96.9) is offering a million dollars to any
listener who catches them changing from country to another format
during 1995. This is their way of saying to rival country WCLB
that they won't blink first. WCLB and WBCS have been
divvying up the listeners in what's probably a one-country-station
town for almost 2 years now. Does this mean WCLB will blink first?
We shall see...
- WLLH (1400) in Lowell/Lawrence, MA has moved from its studios
at 40-44 Church St., Lowell, to the Lowell Sheraton hotel up
the street. They've dumped the reverb, and put in a new transmitter
at the synchronous site in Lawrence. Sounds much better now.
Crosstown WCAP (980) dumped talker Casey Crane from its local
AM drive show, which she had co-hosted since before I worked
there in 1991-92. WCAP's AM show is its only local programming;
the rest of the day is low-budget satellite talk from For the
People and other such nets.
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2010 by Scott Fybush.