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September 13, 2010

More Flips on the Jersey Shore

*Radio listeners in Monmouth and Ocean counties on the NEW JERSEY shore might be forgiven if they're a little confused by the end of this week. It was back in 2005 when Press Communications killed off the top-40 "B98.5" format on WBBO (98.5 Ocean Acres), turning the station first into a simulcast of modern rock WHTG-FM (106.3 Eatontown) and eventually taking it country as WKMK, "Thunder Country," after flipping WHTG-FM to top 40 as "Hits 106" and adding a new simulcast on 106.5 in Ocean County, a station now known as WBBO. (Even loyal NERW readers can be forgiven for getting a little confused by now...)

On Wednesday, Press will hit a big cosmic "undo" button on several of those moves. The Ocean County 98.5 signal will return to top 40 as "B98.5," and we'd expect the WBBO calls to move back there at some point soon, too. And in exchange, "Hit 106" will be replaced on both signals (106.3 in Monmouth and 106.5 in Ocean) by "Thunder Country."

The move will fill a format void in Monmouth, which has been without a country station since the demise of the old "Y107" quadcast in 2002; it's likely that the station will find country fans elsewhere on the southern side of the New York metro as well, given the absence of the format in the core of the market.

Unfortunately, the return of B98.5 comes without most of its personalities, since Press let much of the "Hits 106" airstaff go last week. Among the casualties were Matt Knight, who started out 11 years ago at the old B and eventually became PD/afternoons at "Hit 106," and night guy Shawn Palmer.

The 98.5/106.3 flip is set for 3 PM on Wednesday.

*The New Jersey Radio Museum, which continues to build out its new headquarters in Dover, has named a "South Jersey Vice President," and it's none other than "Big Jay" Sorensen, whose radio career has included notable stops at WNBC and more recently at WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin), and who's currently heard on fill-in duty at WCBS-FM.

*Our colleagues over at Ohio Radio Watch lovingly called it the "Glunt Radio Empire" - but now the last vestiges of the small radio group assembled by the late Youngstown, Ohio steel magnate Harold Glunt have been dispersed to new owners. We told you last week about Chris Lash's plans for Glunt's two Ohio signals, WRTK (1540 Niles) and WANR (1570 Warren) - and now Glunt's heirs have sold his three stations just across the state line in PENNSYLVANIA.

EMF Broadcasting, the nation's most active station buyer, is paying $225,000 for those stations: WEXC (107.1 Greenville), WGRP (940 Greenville) and WLOA (1470 Farrell). EMF is not known as an AM operator, and broker Ray Rosenblum, who arranged the deal, says those AMs will go to another buyer once the transfer closes. WEXC, meanwhile, had already flipped to EMF's "K-Love" contemporary Christian network Friday night, just hours after the sale was announced. (WGRP is also apparently simulcasting "K-Love" for now, at least temporarily.)

For EMF, the purchase extends the K-Love network north and west from what's already become a stronghold in Pittsburgh, where EMF is leasing WPKV (98.3 Duquesne); for now, K-Love has little presence to the north in Erie or to to the west in northeastern Ohio, though sister network Air 1 operates WCVJ (90.9) in Jefferson, Ohio, feeding translators in Akron and suburban Cleveland.

*Just down the road in Meadville, WGYY (100.3) has named an interim PD to fill the gap left behind by the death of Ron Smith, who was known as "James Pond" on the air at "Froggy." Bob Domingo moves down I-79 from Erie, where he had been PD for WTWF (93.9 Fairview).

In Phillipsburg, there's a happy ending to the Sheldon Sharpless story. After almost half a century on the air at (and a few years as owner of) WPHB (1260), Sharpless was ousted from the station's morning show back in June. That prompted an outpouring of community support for Sharpless, and as of last Tuesday morning he's back on the air at WPHB, just in time for his 75th birthday a few weeks from now.

Over in the Harrisburg-Lancaster area, Tom Taylor's Taylor on Radio-Info reports a bankruptcy auction for two AMs has ended with the creditor, WP Media Lending, taking control of both signals. WWII (720 Shiremanstown) had belonged to Hensley Broadcasting, and is still on the air with a religious format; WVZN (1580 Columbia) has been on and off the air in recent years, and is apparnetly silent again after being on with Spanish-language religion. It's now being offered for sale again through Ray Rosenblum in Pittsburgh.

And speaking of silent 1580s, WRDD (1580 Ebensburg) has told the FCC it's silent.

In Philadelphia, the FCC shot down a request from WNWR (1540) to deny a license to cover for the DTV operations of KYW-TV (Channel 3/RF 26) and WPVI-TV (Channel 6/RF 6). WNWR claimed that the new DTV tower that KYW and WPVI erected in 1998 caused distortion to the directional pattern from the AM 1540 site, just a few hundred yards away.

That argument might have held more water with the FCC if WNWR hadn't filed an application in the meantime (in 2003, to be exact) for a modification of its directional pattern - and if it hadn't certified, in its application for a license to cover that modification, that the directional array proofed out correctly.

The FCC did suggest that any additional tower construction at the crowded Roxborough tower farm might include a requirement that WNWR be relicensed under the "method of moments" system that replaces the traditional field proof with computer calculation of a station's directional pattern - and that anyone building a new tower might have to share the cost of that relicensing with WNWR.


Production is underway on Tower Site Calendar 2011, starting with that fantastic cover image of New York's Mount Beacon.

That's just one of more than a dozen thrilling new pictures, spanning the globe (or at least the continent) from Seattle to Tijuana to Georgia to Rochester.)

And if you order now, you'll be at the top of the list to get your 2011 calendar as soon as they're back from the printer. (Which will be another couple of weeks as we iron out some quality-control issues to make sure you get the best calendar we can possibly deliver to you.)

We've still got a limited supply of Tower Site Calendar 2010 as well - plus the signed, limited-edition version of the 2011 calendar and much more in the store!

(We've got special discounts for bulk orders, too - they make great gifts for your business colleagues or friends...)

Order now at the Store!

*Between the Labor Day holiday and the somber 9/11 anniversary, it was a quiet week downstate in NEW YORK, leavened only slightly by the latest chapter in the increasingly tedious "where's Howard Stern going next" saga. (For those still paying attention, Stern's now hinting that he'll leave Sirius/XM when his contract is up at the end of this year, possibly moving his show to some sort of subscriber-based podcast format.)

Upstate, it was a little more exciting - at least at Citadel's Buffalo cluster on Thursday morning, where a four-alarm fire that destroyed a nearby warehouse forced the studios and offices of WGRF (96.9), WEDG (103.3) and WHTT (104.1) to be evacuated for several hours at the height of morning drive, running on automation until it was safe for staffers to return.

After more than 30 years with Buffalo's WBFO (88.7), Mark Wozniak is retiring, effective October 1 - but WBFO listeners will continue to hear Mark's familiar voice in the afternoon, hosting the local segments of "All Things Considered," since he'll continue in a part-time capacity with the station while shedding his traffic director duties.

Down the road in Rochester, WXXI (1370) has named a new local "All Things Considered" host. Taking the place of Rachel Ward (who's now the editor of the statewide "Innovation Trail" journalism project based at WXXI) and of your editor, who's been holding down the fort on an interim basis all summer, will be Hélène Biandudi. She comes to Rochester later this month from CBS News in New York, where she's been the executive assistant to the executive producer of "48 Hours." Biandudi is also the co-founder of the online news site

On TV, Rochester's WHAM-TV (Channel 13) launched local HD news a little early, debuting its new set and new logo with its Sunday night 6 PM news in a "soft launch" before the advertised start of HD news today.

WHAM's shift to HD is just the first of several changes in the Rochester TV news scene this week: tomorrow, WROC-TV (Channel 8) launches its new 4 PM newscast anchored by Matt Molloy.

*There was a time when the death of John Kluge would have been huge national media news - but if time has somewhat dimmed the fame of the station owner who was once the richest man in America, it's all the more reason to retell his remarkable story. Kluge was eight years old when he immigrated to the U.S. from Germany, and just 32 when he put his first radio station, WGAY (1050) in Silver Spring, Maryland on the air in 1946. Over the next decade, Kluge built up large cluster of medium-market stations (including WINE/WINE-FM in Buffalo, ancestors of today's WUFO and WEDG) - but his meteoric rise began in the late fifties with the purchase of the Metropolitan Broadcasting company, made up of the remains of the DuMont TV empire, WABD (Channel 5) in New York and WTTG (Channel 5) in Washington.

WABD was soon renamed WNEW-TV as Kluge paired it with WNEW (1130) and the new WNEW-FM (102.7), and the Metropolitan Broadcasting Company became Metromedia, quickly rising to the top echelon of American broadcasters.

Kluge added more independent TV stations to his roster, including Chicago's WFLD (Channel 32) and Los Angeles' KTTV (Channel 11), bringing a new era of professionalism and profitability to the world of independent TV. It was Metromedia that introduced the full-fledged 10 PM newscast (first at WTTG, and soon afterward at WNEW), and Metromedia's TV production arm became a major force in that side of the business as well.

Kluge also kept trading up his radio holdings until he'd built one of the most imposing radio groups in America. In addition to WNEW and WNEW-FM in New York, Kluge's Northeast roster included WIP and WIP-FM in Philadelphia. An early proponent of freeform FM, Kluge's stations were dominant forces in that new format in the late sixties and seventies - not just WNEW-FM and what soon became WMMR ("MetroMedia Radio") in Philadelphia, but also influential West Coast stations such as KSAN in San Francisco and KMET in Los Angeles.

In one of Kluge's last big TV acquisitions, Metromedia set a new single-station sales record in 1982 with the $220 million purchase of Boston's WCVB (Channel 5) from the Boston Broadcasters group that had put the station on the air a decade earlier. Three years later, Metromedia again stunned the industry when it sold its TV stations to Rupert Murdoch for $3.5 billion, giving him the nucleus for what would soon become the Fox network. (WCVB, the lone non-independent in the group, was resold to present owner Hearst.)

The Metromedia radio properties were spun off as well in the late eighties, with many of the FM stations eventually forming the core of a new Westinghouse FM group, and Kluge, by then in his eighties, moved into non-broadcast ventures including cellular telephones and restaurants.

By the time of Kluge's death last Tuesday, just shy of his 96th birthday, he'd been out of the broadcast spotlight for nearly a quarter of a century, but his legacy of quality broadcasting should be long remembered in the industry.

Cox Radio has once again modified its plans to move WCTZ (96.7 Port Chester) from the station's longtime home atop the tower of sister station WSTC (1400) in Stamford, CONNECTICUT. Cox's original proposal for the station would have moved the transmitter across Long Island Sound to the north shore of Long Island; it subsequently modified the proposal to instead relocate "Coast 96.7" to a tower in Yonkers owned by the Archdiocese of New York.

Now Cox has returned to the FCC with a new application to relocate WCTZ. This time, the station would move to a three-bay antenna atop the Trump Plaza building in downtown New Rochelle, where it would run 3.1 kW/462'. From there, 96.7 would put a 70 dBu signal over southern Westchester, all of the Bronx and the northern portions of Queens and Nassau while delivering a predicted 60 dBu to most of Manhattan, as well as big chunks of Queens, Nassau, Fairfield and Bergen counties.

(If you're keeping score at home, WCTZ is one of three class A FM signals north of New York City that have plotted moves taking them closer to the big city. Bill O'Shaughnessy's WVIP 93.5 New Rochelle completed its move, and is now operating from the WFUV tower in the Bronx; Cumulus-owned WFAS-FM 103.9 Bronxville has constructed and tested new facilities at the WFUV site but continues to operate full-time from Westchester for now, and it's not clear when or if it will actually pull the trigger on its move-in.)

*The relentless march of the syndicated morning shows rolls on: in New Haven, Clear Channel's WKCI (101.3 Hamden) replaces Michael Maze's local morning show with New York-based Elvis Duran, starting today.


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*Western MASSACHUSETTS has a new NPR news/talk outlet. The former Deerfield Academy station, WGAJ (91.7 Deerfield), was just hours away from having its license expire for a full year of silence when it made it back on the air Thursday afternoon (Sept. 9) under new calls WNNZ-FM. Under its new owner, the WFCR Foundation, the 100-watt station is relaying the programming of WNNZ (640 Westfield), the secondary news-talk service programmed by Amherst's WFCR (88.5).

Returning 91.7 to the air came with a host of technical challenges, reports WFCR chief engineer Charles Dube: with no line-of-sight path from WFCR's Amherst studios to the transmitter site, WFCR is using an audio-over-IP path to Deerfield Academy, then sending the signal over the old WGAJ STL path to the transmitter site. And up on the hill, the old WGAJ tower was deemed unfit for continued use, which meant the installation of a new tower and a new Jampro antenna. The new WNNZ-FM is operating under program test authority at half-power (50 watts) until the FCC issues a license to cover for its new facility.

*There's an all-star lineup of inductees into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame on Thursday - need we even attach much by way of description to names such as Johnny Most, Gary LaPierre, Dale Dorman, Tom Ellis, Ken Coleman, Robert J. Lurtsema, Robin Young or "Big Brother" Bob Emery? Those luminaries will be joined by some regional stars, too - WCCM's Bruce Arnold, WBUR "Con Salsa" host/producer Jose Masso and WIZZ (1520 Greenfield) owner Phil Drumheller, aka "Phil D" from WHYN's top-40 days.

But the list of 17 inductees (you can see them all here) also includes some names that will be rather less familiar to many current broadcasters, including that of Wilmer C. Swartley, Jr. He joined the staff of Westinghouse in 1939, came to Boston in 1940 to work at WBZ, and was the founding general manager of WBZ-TV in 1948. And no, his induction is not posthumous: at the age of 102, Swartley is very much alive and sharp as a tack, and your editor had the pleasure of meeting him and talking about WBZ's history recently. A few tickets to the event, being held Thursday at the Quincy Marriott, are still available at the MBHOF website.

*VERMONT's oldest TV station is adding an additional early-evening newscast. WCAX (Channel 3) in Burlington has long danced to its own drummer where early news is concerned; it's one of the last stations in the country to run an hour of local news at 6 and the CBS network news at 7. That unusual schedule continues - but as of tonight, the 5 PM "Dr. Phil" is being replaced by two more half-hour newscasts, anchored by Roger Garrity and Bridget Barry-Caswell at 5 and by Kristin Carlson and Mike McCune at 5:30. In the meantime, WCAX has put its 10 PM broadcast (seen on its 3.2 DTV subchannel) on hiatus.

*NERW's roving New England correspondent Jeff Lehmann (he's also one of the editors at our sister site checks in with a bit of news from NEW HAMPSHIRE: WLMW (90.7 Manchester) is back on the air with satellite-fed AFA religious programming after having been silent since at least early June.

*The big news out of CANADA late last week was yet another ownership change at one of the nation's biggest media companies. BCE Inc., parent company of Bell Canada, plans to pay C$1.3 billion (and assume C$1.7 billion or so in debt) to take full ownership of CTV. BCE bought a majority interest CTV and the Globe and Mail back in 2000, paying C$2.3 billion for both; it later spun off much of its interest in CTVglobemedia to other shareholders.

Now BCE wants to regain full ownership of CTV, buying the 85% of the company it doesn't own from a group that includes the Woodbridge Company (the Thomson family), the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Torstar, the parent of the Toronto Star. Under the deal, the Thomson family will retake control of the Globe and Mail, though BCE will retain a minority interest in the national newspaper. Ivan Fecan, CTV's CEO, announced to employees that he's speeding up his retirement, originally planned for 2012; he now plans to stay through the transition process and then depart in a year or so. Fecan started with Baton Broadcasting, the predecessor of today's CTV, in 1994 and shepherded the company's eventual takeover of most of CTV's affiliates, the purchase of CHUM Ltd. and the sale to BCE in 2000.

In Toronto, CJCL (FAN 590) has picked a new morning host, at least temporarily: Andrew Krystal will hold down that post for the next three months and perhaps longer, reports the Toronto Star's Chris Zelkovich. CJCL has also mended fences with ESPN, returning the national network to its overnight hours after a previous affiliation agreement expired back in June.

Over at CHUM-FM (104.5 Toronto), Barry Stewart is out as assistant PD/music director, ending a 33-year career with the station. Joey Brooks adds interim music director duties to his afternoon shift there.

Out in Windsor, the small Francophone community is celebrating the return of more local programming on Radio-Canada's CBEF (540). Last Tuesday, CBEF introduced a new local show that runs from 6:35-7:30 on weekday mornings, hosted by Charles Levesque. He'd been the host of the local morning show on CBEF that was cancelled as part of budget cuts in 2009. The show's cancellation prompted complaints to Canada's commissioner of official languages, whose investigation found that "CBC/Radio-Canada had not fulfilled its obligations under Part VII of the Official Languages Act because it failed to consult the French-speaking community in southwestern Ontario beforehand; it did not consider the adverse impact of its decision on the community; and it did nothing to try to mitigate the negative impact of its decision." The June 2009 cuts reduced CBEF's local staff from eight to two.

And we close this week with another one of those "far too early" obituaries. Craig Smith never spent much time actually working in radio or TV, but over the last decade or so he nevertheless became a very important part of the broadcast community in southern Ontario. In 2001, Smith took over moderation of the Southern Ontario/Western NY Radio-TV Forum ("SOWNY," or the "Big Yellow Board") from founder Dale Patterson, and in the years since then he'd built the board into one of the most active regional broadcast communities on the web.

Craig had been in poor health in recent months, and his time ran out last weekend. He died peacefully last Monday night. He was just 54; he's survived by friends all over the dials in Toronto and vicinity, and by the "Big Yellow Board," which will live on in his absence.

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!)

September 14, 2009 -

  • Just a month after the eastern MASSACHUSETTS sports radio world was transformed by CBS Radio's launch of WBZ-FM as "Sports Hub 98.5," there's another big transformation coming. The details are still a little murky as this issue of NERW heads for the "send" button late Sunday night, but here's what we know so far: as of Monday morning, ESPN Radio's national programming will be gone from WAMG (890 Dedham)/WLLH (1400 Lowell & Lawrence), the pair of relatively weak signals that have been struggling to find a niche as "ESPN Boston" since 2005. The local hosts on WAMG/WLLH offered up farewell shows on Friday, as station owner Waller Sutton prepared to pull the plug on the sports format at 890 and 1400 and flip to something new today.
  • Down on the South Coast, they're mourning a morning talent who died far too young. Sharon Fogaren, co-host of the "JR and Sharon" show on WFHN (107.1 Fairhaven), suffered a heart attack on August 20 and died Sept. 2 at a Boston hospital. Fogaren had been with Fun 107 "off and on for 14 years," the station reports. She was just 43; for now, JR is hosting the show solo.
  • One more Bay State note: the WBCN call letters that long signified progressive rock in Boston now stand for conservative talk in Charlotte. CBS Radio parked the callsign on the former WFNA (1660 Charlotte) as part of the August shuffle that moved "Mix" WBMX from 98.5 to 104.1 (with its own very brief detour to that 1660 facility) - and now it has flipped the Charlotte WBCN from sports-talk to satellite-fed conservative talk.
  • Northern VERMONT's freeform rock station, WCLX (102.9 Westport NY) is off the air, the victim of the weak economy and a dispute between station owner Dennis Jackson and programmers Diane Desmond and Russ Kinsley, who'd been leasing the frequency for the past decade. Last Wednesday (Sept. 9), Jackson pulled the plug on WCLX's programming just after the 5 PM legal ID, saying that while "Russ and Diane worked for ten years to make it a commercial could not be sustained." The freeform rock format (a descendant of Kinsley's earlier ventures, including the late WEXP 105.1) continues in streaming form at the former WCLX website,, where Kinsley and Desmond say they're looking for a new on-air home for the format. As for the 102.9 facility, it's silent for the moment while Jackson considers other options, which he says could include the sale of the license.
  • NEW YORK City's classical music listeners now know the date and time that their commercial classical station will cease to exist, before being reborn up the dial (and lower in power) in noncommercial form. The transition of WQXR from 96.3 to 105.9 will happen at 8 PM on October 8, when the 96.3 frequency will transfer from its longtime owner, the New York Times Co., to Univision Radio. Univision's WCAA (105.9 Newark NJ) will transfer its "La Kalle" format down the dial to 96.3, and the WQXR calls and 105.9 facility will come together under public broadcaster WNYC, which will launch its new version of WQXR with a live Orpheus Chamber Orchestra concert that will be simulcast on WNYC-FM (93.9) and on a new website at
  • Moving upstate, the changes in the Syracuse radio dial that we told you about in our last issue two weeks ago turned out to be just the start of a chaotic time in the Salt (or "Emerald," if you really insist) City. Clear Channel's feint toward a country roadblock turned out to be short-lived, as "Young Country 106.9" (WPHR) lasted just a weekend before returning to its previous format, urban "Power 106.9." It's still not clear whether "Young Country" was intended to be merely a stunt to rattle new country competitor WOLF-FM (105.1 DeRuyter), or whether Clear Channel was itself rattled by the protests that developed when it looked like Syracuse was about to lose its only station focused on the city's black audience.
  • As it turns out, that audience is now getting a stronger signal from "Power," since the "Young Country" shuffle coincided with WPHR's move from Auburn to a new city of license, the Syracuse suburb of Solvay, and to a new transmitter site on the Onondaga Community College campus in the hills south of the city. WPHR took a drop in power - from class B to B1 - to make the move, but it also ended up much closer to the core of the Syracuse market.
  • Here in Rochester, Clear Channel's latest flip to its oft-changing rimshot signal on 107.3 took place at midnight on Sept. 9, when the former "Country 107.3" (WROO South Bristol Township) became WHTK-FM, simulcasting the sports-talk format of Clear Channel's WHTK (1280 Rochester).
  • With the new simulcast comes a schedule change for WHTK: the local sports talk show hosted by John DiTullio moves from late mornings to 3-6 PM, clearing the way for live carriage of Dan Patrick's 9 AM-noon show and putting DiTullio up against the "local" show on the market's other sports-talker, Entercom's WROC (950). We put "local" in quotes here only because the WROC show, "Schopp and the Bulldog," is actually a simulcast from sister station WGR (550 Buffalo), though the distinction scarcely matters for most western New York sports topics, especially during Bills season.
  • The week's big news out of PENNSYLVANIA centered on Pittsburgh, where the end of urban radio on WAMO came abruptly around 6 PM last Tuesday (Sept. 8), as Sheridan pulled the plug on both WAMO-FM (106.7 Beaver Falls) and WAMO (860 Millvale), signing off the FM with the Jackson 5's "Never Can Say Goodbye" and Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye." Those two stations, as well as sister station WPGR (1510 Monroeville), are now silent as they await the launch of Catholic formats under new owner St. Joseph Missions, which paid just over $8 million for the trio.
  • State College didn't have to spend very long without its "QWIK Rock." The rock format disappeared from its second incarnation, on the former WQWK (103.1 State College), back in August, when Forever Broadcasting flipped that facility to news-talk as WRSC-FM. Over Labor Day, "QWIK Rock" returned, up the dial and under different ownership, on Magnum Broadcasting's former "Joe FM," WJOW (105.9 Phillipsburg)/WZYY (106.9 Renovo). "Joe" had already been mixing rock with its country format, though that rock-country hybrid doesn't seem to be finding much success anywhere it's been tried. There's no word yet on a jock lineup for this latest version of "QWIK Rock."

September 12, 2005 -

  • The exact details are still murky, but it appears that some big changes are imminent at the Long Island radio stations owned by The Morey Organization. For the last few days, active rock "Bone" WBON (98.5 Westhampton), dance/top 40 "Party" WDRE (105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) and modern rock WLIR (107.1 Hampton Bays) have been running jockless, and on Friday all three stations will reportedly drop their current formats.
  • It was anything but a quiet week in RHODE ISLAND radio, where what was supposed to have been a benefit broadcast for Hurricane Katrina's victims turned into an on-air brawl between WPRO (630 Providence) talk host DanYorke and his predecessor, John DePetro, who now does late mornings on Boston's WRKO (680). Yorke, a frequent on-air critic of DePetro, was broadcasting from a furniture store in West Warwick when DePetro, who'd been listening to the show, showed up, grabbed the microphone and began castigating Yorke on the air, saying he'd been offered the WPRO job and had turned it down. WPRO PD David Bernstein came on the air afterwards to say that the station stood behind Yorke - and the whole thing goes down as a reminder that Rhode Island talk radio, just like Rhode Island politics, is a most unusual thing.
  • (Need further evidence? Crosstown talk rival WHJJ 920, reinventing itself after a year or so as a mostly-syndicated progressive talker, announced that it's found a new local talk host for late mornings: former "Survivor" contestant and Rhode Island native Helen Glover takes the 10AM-1PM slot beginning tomorrow, replacing Air America's Jerry Springer and the first hour of Al Franken. This is the first of a series of changes at WHJJ, we hear; expect an announcement about another local host later this week.)
  • One of the most respected names in MASSACHUSETTS broadcasting has been picked as the new leader of troubled public radio station WBUR-FM (90.9 Boston). Paul LaCamera spent 33 years at WCVB-TV (Channel 5), most of that time at the helm of what's widely regarded as one of the best commercial TV stations in the country. LaCamera just retired from WCVB a few weeks ago, and the timing couldn't have been better for WBUR, which is still recovering from the turmoil that marked the end of the tenure of Jane Christo, whose long run at the station rivaled that of LaCamera at WCVB. LaCamera will take over as WBUR's general manager on October 3, replacing interim GM Peter Fiedler.
  • In eastern CANADA, Rogers has unveiled the call letters and studio sites for its trio of news-talk FM stations that will soon be launching in the Maritimes. CJNI (95.7) will be at 6080 Young Street in Halifax, CHNI (88.9) at 55 Waterloo Street in Saint John and CKNI (91.9) at 70 Assumption Blvd. in Moncton. The stations are expected to sign on sometime next month.

September 11, 2000 -

  • We begin in NEW HAMPSHIRE, where Hearst-Argyle fulfilled the rumor mill's expectations by announcing a $185 million purchase of Manchester's WMUR-TV (Channel 9) from Imes Communications. Why so much for a small-town ABC affiliate? (Imes paid just $5 million for the station back in 1981.) It should be well worth it for Hearst-Argyle, if only for the opportunity to control both ABC outlets in the Boston market. Expect to see some news coverage from Hearst-Argyle's WCVB (Channel 5) Boston on WMUR, as well as enhanced New Hampshire coverage from WMUR on 'CVB. The real prize, though, won't come around for another four years: the incredible amount of political advertising and national attention that flows into the Granite State's only commercial VHF station come primary time. There's a reason WMUR's spacious new studios in downtown Manchester are called "The House Steve Forbes Built," after all. As part of the deal, Hearst-Argyle also gets WMUR's LPTV outlets in Littleton and Berlin, which carry Fox network programming and WMUR newscasts. (Expect some unusual FCC paperwork on this one, too, since it will actually be Emmis Broadcasting acquiring WMUR, then transferring it to Hearst-Argyle as payment for the three Phoenix radio stations Emmis is getting from Hearst...)
  • What's happening in MAINE? We heard from several of our Augusta-area readers about the situation with Cumulus' cluster there, and for the moment it appears no fewer than five stations are carrying the sports programming nicknamed "The Score." In addition to WSKW (1160 Skowhegan) and WIGY (97.5 Madison), Cumulus has indeed added WCTB (93.5 Fairfield) and WCME (96.7 Boothbay Harbor) to the simulcast -- and it's still being carried on WHQO (107.9 Skowhegan) as well!
  • End of story? Not so fast...we also saw applications make their way to the FCC at week's end to transfer WCTB/WCME, WSKW, WABK (104.3 Gardiner), WKCG (101.3 Augusta), WTOS (105.1 Skowhegan), and WFAU (1280 Gardiner) to Clear Channel. More next week, we're certain...
  • A relatively quiet week in Boston...but the big news in MASSACHUSETTS was happening 90 miles to the west, where Saga wasted no time in its acquisition of WHMP (1400/99.3 Northampton) from the AMFM/Clear Channel spinoffs. Saga is changing the calls of WHMP-FM ("99.3 Rocks") to WLZX, and we're told the next step will be an active rock format similar to longtime Saga property WLZR (102.9) in Milwaukee. Scott Laudani arrives to replace Adam Wright as PD. (He's perhaps better known to New Hampshirites for his stints at WHEB and WXBB/WXBP in recent years.)
  • One big piece of news from RHODE ISLAND, and it's no surprise: after two minutes of silence, WWRX (103.7 Westerly) discarded its old classic rock format for the WFNX (101.7 Lynn MA) modern rock network at midnight Thursday (Sept. 7).
  • CONNECTICUT's WNTY (990 Southington) was off the air for several days this week, thanks to a dispute between station owner ADD Media and the Spanish-language broadcasters who have been leasing the station. ADD says they haven't been making their payments, and NERW hears several station staffers ended up camping out at the WNTY studios to keep from being kicked out. We're told the situation was resolved at week's end, and WNTY is back on the air with a limited schedule.
  • One of Buffalo's three country stations will flip to sports by October 1. WNUC (107.7 Wethersfield Township) was sold to Adelphia Communications, parent of the Empire Sports Network, last month, and it's no great surprise to find that the new sports outlet will feature Fox Sports Radio and the Adelphia-owned Buffalo Sabres. Former WGR (550) sports talker Art Wander will be the first local host to join the station, which is being billed as a "nicer" alternative to WGR.
  • There must be something in the air in CANADA this year. Last issue, we told you about the mass licensing of new FMs in New Brunswick. This week, we get to tell you that the world of English-language radio in Montreal is being flipped on its head, as one pair of stations gets a duopoly partner, while another gets a new owner.
  • It started the last week in August, when Metromedia CMR announced that it will sell its four-station group to Shaw spin-off Corus Communications for C$185 million. Metromedia had been struggling from the difficult launches of "Info 690" CINF and "940 News" CINW, neither of which made any impact on the ratings despite expensive launches in the spring. Now it will be up to Corus, which has never owned an all-news station, to figure out what to do with the 50kw stations. Corus also gets English soft-rocker CFQR (92.5) and French companion CKOI (96.9 Verdun).
  • Just a week later, Montreal's radio world was rocked again, as Standard Broadcasting announced Friday (9/8) that it's buying rocker CHOM (97.7) and oldies CKGM (990) from CHUM Ltd. Standard already has dominant AM news-talker CJAD (800) and "Mix 96" CJFM (95.9), and it's not hard to see the kind of pressure the four-station group will be able to bring to bear on CFQR and, especially, struggling CINW. There's no word yet on how much CHUM gets for the stations, which it has owned since 1985. In addition to cash, the deal has CHUM acquiring Standard's CFWM (99.9) in Winnipeg.
  • Meanwhile, radio listeners in southern Ontario are finding two new formats on the dial. CIWV (94.7 the Wave) took to the air in Hamilton with Canada's first smooth jazz format on September 1 at noon, just hours after the CHUM folks launched their latest station an hour away in London. CHST (102.3) is playing adult contemporary music as "Star 102.3." (Which, NERW notes, must be fun when the trop is up around Hamilton, where listeners can no doubt switch from Star 102.3 to Star 102.5, WTSS in Buffalo, to Star 103.7, WRTS in Erie...)

New England Radio Watch, September 11, 1995

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