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."
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).
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
CALENDAR 2011 - IT'S ON THE WAY!
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 fybush.com
(We've got special discounts for bulk orders,
too - they make great gifts for your business colleagues or friends...)
now at the fybush.com 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
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
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.
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
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.
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,
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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.
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
TopHour.com) 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
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.
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!)
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
- 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
- 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 success...it 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, www.musicheads.us, 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 wqxr.org.
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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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2010 by Scott Fybush.