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August 16, 2010

Elvis Lands in Syracuse

*It's been a very slow week in NERW-land, so in lieu of a full-sized column, we offer just a few headlines from around the region:

Elvis Duran, who began his broadcast career in Syracuse, NEW YORK at WJPZ (89.1), the Syracuse University station, is returning to the market beginning today - but only in syndicated form.

WWHT (Hot 107.9), Clear Channel's top-40 station, is displacing its own "Marty and Shannon" local morning show to pick up Duran's New York-based "Morning Zoo." The morning staff stays with the station on new shifts: Marty "the One-Man Party" returns to the afternoon shift, while Shannon Wells will be doing middays and "Deaf Geoff" will do weekends and fill-ins. Former afternoon jock "Jus' Mic" will move over to sister station WPHR (106.9), reports

*Some other morning show shifts around the state: in New York City, D.L. Hughley departed the morning show at WRKS (Kiss 98.7) last week, saying on Monday that it was his last day with the station. No replacement has been named yet for the comedian; WRKS says he's simply away doing a movie, but it doesn't appear he's coming back.

Also missing in action is Lilly Hisenaj, who's gone from the website for the Brother Wease morning show at Rochester's WFXF (95.1 the Fox) after under two years at the station.

*In Buffalo, "Swing 1270" is the new slogan for the standards format Citadel has installed at WHLD (1270 Niagara Falls).

*Out on Long Island's East End, it will be down to the wire for Peconic Public Broadcasting as it heads toward its August 31 deadline to make a $500,000 payment to Long Island University for the license of WLIU (88.3 Southampton). Peconic is holding a capital drive to put together the money for the station, and the local papers are reporting that it's turning to Hamptons bigwigs such as Alec Baldwin in an effort to step up its fundraising.


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*In MASSACHUSETTS, public station WUMB-FM (91.9 Boston) has more than just call letters for its new license northwest of Boston in Stow: the new WUMG (91.7) signed on last Tuesday, and your editor heard its first afternoon of broadcasts without even realizing it!

The new WUMG signal will operate only part-time when school resumes this fall at share-time partner WAVM (91.7 Maynard). The two stations share a common transmitter site, and the signal is a big improvement over WAVM's old low-power signal, covering much of the area between routes 128 and 495 north of the Mass Pike.

*There's a new AM-on-FM translator in MAINE, where Dan Priestly checked in to report that he's put W231CH (94.1 Bangor) on the air, relaying WWNZ (1400 Veazie).

 Got swag? Here in Rochester, your editor is part of the committee that's planning this year's convention for two prominent DX clubs, the National Radio Club and the Worldwide TV-FM Association. They're coming to town August 27-29, and if your station (or broadcast-related company) has any bumper stickers, keychains, T-shirts, or anything else you'd like to add to the convention's big door-prize pile, we'd love to have them. (Contact your editor for a mailing address...)

*In western PENNSYLVANIA, they're mourning Nellie King, the former Pirates pitcher who went into broadcasting after retiring from the team in 1959. King worked for several suburban stations in the early sixties, then announced Bucs games from 1967-75. He later did sports for several Pittsburgh radio and TV stations, including WWSW, KDKA, WTAE-TV and KDKA-TV, and served as sports information director at Duquesne University. King died August 11 at 82, of colon cancer.

In the Pottsville area, some changes at WAVT (101.9) and WPPA (1360): Travis Sparks is leaving his full-time post as production director to take a new job outside of radio; he'll still be heard on T102 at nights via voice-tracking, while operations manager/WPPA PD Jay Levan takes over production duties. Sherry Marchefsky joins the stations as morning news anchor.

*An obituary in NEW JERSEY as well: Mark Carros, who'd worked in TV and radio news in the Albany, Elmira, Syracuse and Johnstown markets (and outside the region, too), died August 7 of cancer, at age 55. Carros was most recently working as news operations manager at WMGM-TV (Channel 40) in Atlantic City.

Carros wasn't the only death in the WMGM-TV family last week: Syd Small, president/CEO of parent company Access.1 Communications, died at age 72. Small began his broadcast ownership career in 1982, when he purchased WWRL (1600 New York) from the United Negro College Fund; he later added radio stations in Texas and Louisiana to his holdings as well.


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*If it was quiet in the U.S., it was a downright somnolent week up in CANADA, where everyone was apparently away in cottage country. But as long as we're pointed up the 400 from Toronto, we note that the CRTC has approved Haliburton Broadcasting's C$125,000 purchase of CJJM (99.3 Espanola) from JOCO Communications.

The CRTC also approved a frequency change on Prince Edward Island, where CIOG-FM-1 in Summerside, the relay of Christian station CIOG (91.3 Charlottetown), will move from 91.1 to 92.5 to make room for a new relay of Charlottetown's CKQK, also on 91.1.

And a correction from last week: while CKOY (104.5 Sherbrooke) is part of the "CKOI" network, it doesn't actually simulcast parent station CKOI (96.9 Montreal).

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. 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 for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

August 17, 2009 -

  • There was a common thread to a lot of the commentary about the big radio changes last week in MASSACHUSETTS: if CBS Radio's WBCN (104.1 Boston) had sounded all along the way it did in its final days, wrapped in a powerful web of nostalgia for 41 years of rock radio, it might still be thriving, rather than relegated to an HD-2 subchannel on the station's successor, "Sports Hub" WBZ-FM (98.5 Boston).
  • It's true that the last gasp of WBCN was great radio, as jocks from throughout the station's long and storied history returned to say goodbye, even if the moment was marred a bit by the curious decision by CBS management to bar even the mention of the name of one of the station's most important personalities, longtime afternoon jock Mark Parenteau, whose career-ending legal issues came long after he'd departed Boston.
  • In a week full of manufactured nostalgia for the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, though, the farewell to a station that predated that festival by a year felt both more genuine and more heartfelt, especially in the final hours of WBCN's four-day retrospective. As the clock neared midnight on Tuesday (Aug. 13), WBCN went out in about as eclectic a way as possible, ending with Frank Sinatra's "That's Life," followed by Cream's "I Feel Free" (the first song played on WBCN as a rock station back in 1968) and then by Pink Floyd's "Shine On (You Crazy Diamond)," which gave way to a montage of WBCN IDs, followed by two hours of simulated static and then the launch of the new "Mix 104," WBMX. And what was that in between Sinatra and Cream? One last stopset - a reminder that this is first, last and always about business, and that the cost of running a station like the "old" WBCN is probably more than any commercial broadcaster could bear in 2009.
  • On, then, to the future, which came a day and a half after WBCN gave way to "Mix" on 104.1. By Wednesday morning, WBMX's old home on 98.5 was broadcasting a loop reminding Mix listeners to head up the dial, and Thursday morning brought a soft launch of the "Sports Hub," as WBZ-FM debuted with encores of several of the Patriots' recent Super Bowl wins, leading into the station's official debut with the Pats' first pre-season game that afternoon. Here's how the new station's lineup shapes up: in addition to former WBCN morning jocks Toucher and Rich handling wakeup duties, WBZ-FM features Gary Tanguay of Comcast SportsNet and ex-Pats QB Scott Zolak from 10 AM-2 PM, CSN's Michael Felger and the Globe's Tony Massarotti from 2-6 PM, and Damon Amendolara, late of Miami's WQAM, from 6-midnight. Sporting News Radio's syndicated sports talk fills out the overnight and weekend lineup for now. Felger, interestingly, can now claim to have worked at all three of the market's sports stations in just over a year, as he's bounced from ESPN outlet WAMG (890) to Entercom's WEEI (850) to the new WBZ-FM, where he's now a key player in what's shaping up to be a most interesting battle between established behemoth WEEI and the new "Sports Hub."
  • Downstate, it came as no great surprise late last week when Mega Media Group filed for bankruptcy. Mega owns "Pulse 87," the dance station that leases the audio carrier of LPTV station WNYZ-LP (Channel 6) - and it reports that it owes $3.5 million against assets of just $180,000. Mega says it hopes to continue operating Pulse while it restructures under Chapter 11.
  • Radio (and TV) People on the Move: One of upstate New York's most prominent public broadcasting voices is changing stations, as Susan Arbetter departs Albany's WMHT for a new post as news and public affairs director at WCNY radio and TV in Syracuse. Arbetter joined WMHT two years ago to produce and host the statewide "New York Now" public affairs show; before that, she'd been news director at Albany's WAMC public radio. At WCNY, Arbetter will be responsible for news coverage on both TV and radio, and the station says she'll be working on developing a statewide news service as well.

August 8 & 15, 2005 -

  • In MASSACHUSETTS, WRKO (680 Boston) GM Tom Baker is out of a job as Entercom eliminates his position; cluster manager Julie Kahn assumes his responsibilities. (WRKO also had a guest appearance by ousted WBZ reporter Flo Jonic last week; she filled in on the station's morning show.) Over in Worcester, the WSRS (96.1) morning team of Austin Davis and Kerry Mathieson is out as well, with Jackie Brush and WTAG's Greg Byrne filling in.
  • In NEW HAMPSHIRE, WEVS (88.3 Nashua) signed on Tuesday (Aug. 9) just before 11 AM, improving New Hampshire Public Radio's service to the southern end of the state. The station's transmitter sits atop St. Joseph's Hospital, with 5 kilowatts of power aimed mostly north-northwest. Over in Keene, Jay Stevens is back on the air at WKNE (103.7), replacing Adam Weinreich in mid-mornings. Stevens was on WOQL (then at 98.7) until 2004, when he went to work at Disney World as a sound engineer.
  • And the new management at WNDS (Channel 50, soon to be WZMY) in Derry made some waves last week by cancelling the station's venerable "Candlepin Bowling" show.
  • From PENNSYLVANIA comes word of the sale of WEEO (1480 Shippensburg), as Cary Simpson's Allegheny Mountain Network transfers the station to Eric Swidler, son of WIOO (1000 Carlisle) owner Harold Swidler. Ray Rosenblum was the broker, and the sale price was $65,000.
  • Outside Philadelphia, we're delighted to report that the FCC has granted WHHS (107.9 Havertown) a construction permit to move to 99.9. The station needed waivers from WJBR (99.5 Wilmington DE) and WPHI (100.3 Media) to make the move, which allows it to stay on the air after the class D high school station (the oldest in the nation) was displaced from 107.9 by the sign-on of WPHI sister station WRNB (107.9 Pennsauken NJ). WHHS still has to be back on the air by December 18 to avoid losing its license for being silent more than a year, but in the capable hands of engineer Mark Humphrey and several other friends of high school radio in the area, that shouldn't be an issue.

August 21, 2000 -

  • In honor of our first stop on this August's travels, we'll start in CANADA, where two new FM signals now grace the dial in southern Ontario. First up was 102.3 in London, the new CHUM Group FM. No calls have been heard yet, but it's running a test loop and wiping out whatever reception of Erie's co-channel WJET might have been left in the area. We're hoping for an actual format on this one any day now.
  • Over in Hamilton, Doug Kirk and Rae Roe have started testing their new 1880 watt outlet on 94.7, and this one *does* have calls and a format. CIWV will program smooth jazz when it takes the air for real in a few weeks.
  • Just across the border, TV duopoly is once again coming to upstate NEW YORK -- and just maybe it'll stick this time. You'll recall that Granite Broadcasting intended to add UPN affiliate WNGS (Channel 67) to its ABC powerhouse WKBW-TV (Channel 7) in Buffalo, but pulled out of the deal in May. Now Sinclair is making Buffalo another of its many duopoly markets with the purchase of Grant Broadcasting, which owns WB affiliate WNYO-TV (Channel 49). Adding WNYO to its own Fox affiliate, WUTV (Channel 29), seems to make more sense for Sinclair than its original plan from last year, which involved buying public TV WNEQ (Channel 23) from the Western New York Public Broadcasting Authority. (That sale collapsed during Sinclair's financial problems, which have apparently now been resolved). NERW wonders what will happen now to the rumors that WNYO was planning to partner with one of Buffalo's big three network affiliates for a 10PM newscast, something Sinclair still isn't offering on WUTV. (We believe that makes Buffalo the largest Fox market still lacking local news.) Sinclair will also likely need an FCC waiver for the overlap between the WNYO signal and that of Rochester's Fox affiliate, WUHF (Channel 31). (WUHF and WUTV have a long-standing co-ownership waiver that predates duopoly, so we don't really expect any problems on that account.)
  • Speaking of TV duopoly, it's about to happen in a big way in New York City -- that is, if Fox can overcome the regulatory hurdles that will no doubt accompany its proposed purchase of the Chris-Craft/United Television stations. If the deal goes through, Rupert Murdoch will add WWOR (Channel 9 Secaucus) to his WNYW (Channel 5) in the Big Apple, as well as creating a 2-VHF duopoly (KTTV 11 and KCOP 13) in Los Angeles. [As an aside, those are about the only markets where V/V duopolies are possible; almost anywhere else, they're ruled out by the FCC's requirement that only one of the TV stations in a duopoly can be one of the four highest-rated stations in the market.] What might happen to UPN (make that the Paramount Network) if it loses its affiliates in the two largest markets? We'll know in a few months, since the Paramount/United affiliation contracts expire in January 2001.
  • Over on the radio side, Mega Broadcasting's AM 1380 in New York is getting ready to return to the air under new calls. As suspected, the WNNY calls that landed on the former WINX (1600 Rockville MD) in the Washington DC market were being parked there for use on Alfred Alonso's new Spanish-language all-news station; 1380's former calls of WKDM are headed down to Washington for new life on 1600. Expect the new WNNY on the air within a few weeks -- just in time to compete with the stronger signal of WADO (1280), which has finally accompanied its new towers with the 50 kilowatt day power (and 7500 watts at night) for which they were designed. (Thanks, but we'll take the old 5kw and the now-destroyed Blaw-Knox diamond tower instead...)

New England Radio Watch, August 15, 1995

  • 92.5 in Haverhill MA (30 miles north of Boston) has new calls. They started using them Monday August 14...and in keeping with the station's new non-ID "The River," they're WXRV. The former calls, WLYT, had been buried very quietly and quickly at the top of the hour only, ever since the format change August 1. The format is still evolving -- it had started as almost a straight AAA, but it now incorporates a lot of 80s pop as well. Fun to listen to, and more lively than AAA rival WBOS 92.9.
  • Jerry Garcia's death was marked here with daylong special programming Wednesday on classic rocker WZLX, frequent Dead tunes on AAA WBOS, a rerun of an old "Rockline" show featuring Garcia on New Hampshire's WGIR-FM and Providence's WHJY, and almost nothing from heritage rocker WBCN, now that it's leaning more modern. BOS followed up with 5 hours of special programming Saturday night, and WZLX did a couple of hours that night as well.

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