November 22, 2010
Smerconish Shakes Up Philly Talk
*The new year will bring a talk radio shakeup
in southeastern PENNSYLVANIA, where CBS Radio's WPHT (1210
Philadelphia) will rearrange its schedule to move morning man
Michael Smerconish to afternoons, dropping Glenn Beck and Sean
Hannity as "The Big Talker" segues to a nearly all-local
lineup during the day.
the last couple of years, Smerconish has become one of the hardest-working
hosts in talk radio, holding down both a local airshift on WPHT
in morning drive and a syndicated midday airshift, all while
writing newspaper columns and becoming increasingly visible on
cable TV news. (Last week, for instance, he guest-hosted MSNBC's
"Hardball" all week.)
"I have zero regrets from the last two years, but as
I expected, it is just too much and I am looking forward to applying
a renewed sense of focus to one show daily. I am also anxious
to watch Phillies games beyond the 5th inning and no longer get
up at 3:30 a.m.!," said Smerconish in a statement announcing
his plans to cut down from his current seven hours of live talk
daily (the Philadelphia morning show and a noon-3 PM national
show syndicated by Dial Global.)
The January schedule shift will reduce Smerconish's workload
to four daily hours of radio talk: one local-only hour from 3-4
PM followed by his syndicated show, delayed from its live midday
slot to 4-7 PM. Moving Smerconish to afternoons on WPHT will
displace Hannity, and current nighttime talker Dom Giordano will
move to 9 AM-noon, replacing Beck. There's a new morning voice
coming to WPHT as well: Chris Stigall, who's now the morning
host at Entercom's KCMO (710) in Kansas City, will be the new
leadoff man in the "Big Talker" lineup. Out of WPHT's
present daytime syndicated lineup, only Rush Limbaugh will stay
But WPHT's schedule shakeup is only the first act of what
promises to be a bigger shuffle of talk personalities and perhaps
even formats in the Philadelphia market. There's no question
that Premiere Radio Networks will aggressively pursue new outlets
for Beck and Hannity in this top-10 market, but there's also
no obvious place for them to go: ever since WPHT drove talk competitor
WWDB-FM (96.5, now Beasley rhythmic WRDW-FM) out of the format
a decade ago, CBS has had the mainstream talk format nearly to
itself in Philadelphia.
The most obvious next stop for Beck and Hannity might be Salem's
talker, WNTP (990), but moving those shows to WNTP would take
two of Salem's own top talk hosts, Mike Gallagher and Michael
Medved, out of live Philadelphia clearances, and while Salem
now carries Beck and Hannity in several markets, the chain's
strong preference appears to be to clear its own network offerings.
there's Premiere parent Clear Channel, which has taken advantage
of similar recent shifts in the talk marketplace to bring its
flagship talk hosts in-house in other markets such as Raleigh-Durham,
New Orleans and Boston. Could it happen again in Philadelphia?
Clear Channel's station roster includes several second-tier performers:
hot AC WISX (106.1, which just segued from "My 106.1"
to "Mix 106.1"), rocker WRFF (104.5) and signal-challenged
Spanish tropical WUBA (1480). So far, Clear Channel is saying
it has no interest in flipping any of its existing Philadelphia
signals to talk; market manager John Rohm tells the Inquirer's
Michael Klein that even lowly WUBA is off the table for a talk
flip that would keep Beck and Hannity on the air in town.
Over at Greater Media, market manager John Fullam similarly
denied any interest in building a talk station by splitting the
simulcast of "the Fanatic," the ESPN outlet now duplicated
on WPEN-FM (97.5 Burlington NJ) and WPEN (950 Philadelphia).
(None of those denials has stopped the speculation about a
bigger move on the part of Premiere/Clear Channel: now that CBS
has pulled Beck and Hannity off WPHT, will Premiere find a way
to pull Limbaugh's show off 1210 as well, creating the foundation
for an eventual Philly version of "Rush Radio"?)
In the short term, it's likely that Beck and Hannity will
find clearances somewhere on the dial; Klein speculates another
format change could be in the offing at WHAT (1340 Philadelphia),
a station with an even more restricted signal than Clear Channel's
WUBA. In the long run, it's likely that someone in town will
end up trying to use Beck, Hannity and perhaps even Rush as the
cornerstone of a more substantial talk competitor to WPHT. When
it happens, it won't be anything new for CBS; in many of the
handful of markets where the company is heavily invested in talk,
it's faced similar challenges from Clear Channel - KDKA (1020
Pittsburgh) lost Limbaugh to a Clear Channel FM challenger a
few years back, leaving Rush on only three CBS stations: WTIC
(1080 Hartford), KXNT (100.5/840 Las Vegas) and KMOX (1120 St.
*Elsewhere in the Keystone State, Four Rivers Community Broadcasting
has a construction permit for a new outlet for its "Word-FM"
religious programming: the new 90.7 will be licensed to Spring
Grove, serving Hanover and vicinity from a 200-watt transmitter
up in the hills near Gnatstown, PA.
Bible Broadcasting Network has a new CP as well, on 88.3 in
Leesport, serving Reading with 670 watts/276' DA.
In Erie, Citadel is bringing the morning show at WXTA (97.9
Edinboro) back in-house, though still not live and local. Replacing
the "Big D and Bubba" show is "Scrubs in the Morning,"
which originates from Citadel sister station WTNR in Grand Rapids,
In Altoona, they're mourning Richard DiRoma, who was known
as "Dick Richards" during a radio and TV career that
began in the 1950s in his native New England. After a stint in
Wellsville, N.Y., Richards came to Altoona in the early 1960,
working at WRTA (1240) before settling in for a long run at WFBG
(1290) and WFBG-TV (Channel 10, later WTAJ), where he became
sports director. He later returned to radio at WFBG, WVAM (1430)
and WKMC (1370); he retired in the early 1990s and died Nov.
16 at age 77.
*130 unionized employees at NEW JERSEY's
statewide NJN radio and TV network received layoff notices last
week, the next step in Gov. Chris Christie's plan to end the
state's operation of the public broadcaster by year's end.
It's still not at
all clear what will become of NJN's operations after December
31. Late last week, state officials met with nonprofit funders
and public broadcasting experts to try to map out a future for
NJN that would meet Christie's dual (and potentially contradictory)
goals of eliminating state spending on public broadcasting while
preserving NJN's local programming and possibly even retaining
some measure of state control over the networks.
While it's widely believed that New York-based WNET and Philadelphia-based
WHYY are likely candidates to take over operation of NJN's TV
service, there are other options on the table as well: some lawmakers
are suggesting spinning off NJN's less-than-statewide radio service
while retaining TV, while others support the transfer of both
radio and TV to a consortium that would be run by Stockton College
and Montclair State University. (That option, however, would
simply shift the state's responsibility for NJN from direct funding
to indirect support through the state college system.)
Will NJN in fact go dark? At week's end, state officials were
trying to downplay that possibility, saying the Dec. 31 deadline
to end the state's operation of the networks could be pushed
back if there's a plan in place for NJN's future.
*More cutbacks at troubled Atlantic Broadcasting: midday jock
Brion O'Brion is out after just a few months at WWAC (Wild 102.7)
in Atlantic City.
A call change: unbuilt WSFS (89.3 Freehold) will become WFJS-FM,
matching its Catholic sister station WFJS (1260) in Trenton.
CALENDAR 2011 - IT'S HERE!
The production process was a little more complex
than usual for Tower Site Calendar 2011, but at
long last we're shipping the tenth installment in what's become
an annual radio tradition.
The new calendar is now back from the printer,
complete with more than a dozen exciting new images including
that nifty cover shot of Mount Beacon, N.Y.
And if you order now, you'll have the 2010
calendar in your hands long before the holiday rush!
But wait - there's more! We now have a
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as well as a limited supply of Tower Site Calendar 2010
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We've got special discounts for bulk orders,
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*Radio People on the Move in NEW YORK:
Clear Channel is making big changes at WWPR (Power 105.1) in
New York City, dismissing morning man Ed Lover and producer Sarah
O'Connor and middayer De Ja and moving Lover's co-host Malikah
Mallette from mornings to middays.
What's next for mornings
at Power 105? The rumor mill has Charlamagne (late of Philadelphia's
WPHI) tagged for that slot, co-hosting with DJ Envy (now on afternoons
at WWPR). And could either of two former WQHT morning personalities
- "Miss Jones," now at Clear Channel's WUSL in Philadelphia,
or "Miss Info," now at SiriusXM - be part of the new
morning show as well?
Behind the scenes, we're hearing that Mark Olkowski is out
at CBS Radio, where he worked his way up over the years to Director
of Broadcast Operations and Engineering; no replacement has been
In Albany, Tanch is the new program director and midday jock
at Pamal's WFLY (92.3 Troy). He'd been assistant PD and night
jock at sister station WAJZ (96.3 Voorheesville), where afternoon
jock Charlie becomes APD and Scott Penk takes over nights.
A veteran Rochester radio programmer is coming back to town.
Bob Barnett launched WBEE-FM (92.5) two decades ago, building
the station into a country giant before departing for bigger
and better things. Most recently, Barnett had been in Miami,
managing Beasley's WKIS (99.9), but as of next Monday he'll be
back in Rochester and back at WBEE as he takes on the operations
manager position at Entercom, filling the void left by John Thomas'
move to Denver in October.
Across town, there's a programming change at Clear Channel
sports-talker WHTK (1280/107.3), where the Stephen A. Smith morning
show has been replaced with another syndicated offering, Fox
Sports Radio's "Zakk and Jack." The new show, based
at sister station WNDE (1260) in Indianapolis, is being offered
to Fox Sports affiliates as an alternate to Smith's established
morning show. (And could this be a short-term move for WHTK before
a well-known local name moves into morning drive?)
On TV, NBC outlet WHEC (Channel 10) dramatically reworked
its 7 PM newscast on Thursday. Gone is the standard two-anchor
"News 10 NBC Nightly News at 7;" in its place is "ROC
City Tonight," anchored solo by Lia Lando. It's evidently
targeted at younger viewers, with Lando out from behind the desk
and a heavy emphasis on social media.
Fresh off its launch of Catholic radio in Boston (via WQOM
1060), Buffalo-based Holy Family Communications is adding another
station to its portfolio, albeit a much less expensive one: it's
paying the Dominican Monastery of Mary the Queen just $1,000
for the construction permit for WMTQ (88.1 Elmira). The 90-watt
signal will broadcast from Harris Hill, just west of Elmira.
Up north, there's a tower under construction just off the
side of US 11 in Antwerp, south of Gouverneur. When completed,
the tower will be home to WSLG (90.5 Gouverneur), the latest
addition to North Country Public Radio's extensive public radio
network across the North Country. Last week, the station presented
an audio postcard from the winch operator who's helping erect
the new tower; you can hear it here.
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*There are few people working in radio or
TV in MASSACHUSETTS with as much media experience as Paul
LaCamera. Son of famed Boston Record-American TV critic
Anthony LaCamera, Paul began his career at that newspaper before
moving into television, where he joined WCVB-TV (Channel 5) at
its launch in 1972. LaCamera spent 33 years working his way up
the management ranks at Channel 5, eventually serving for a dozen
years as the station's president and general manager and drawing
acclaim for running one of the finest local TV stations in the
retired from WCVB in 2005, only to start a new chapter in his
career by taking over as general manager of WBUR-FM (90.9) later
that year, charged with restoring stability to a station buffeted
by the turbulent ouster of longtime leader Jane Christo.
And after five years at that job, during which he's been widely
credited with bringing WBUR back on an even keel, LaCamera announced
Friday afternoon that he's ready to retire for real. At age 67,
he tells the Boston Globe it's time for fresh leadership
at WBUR: "I am a guy who loves newspapers and kitchen radios,
and thats not necessarily the kind of leadership that WBUR
is going to need in the future."
LaCamera will remain on the BU payroll as university administrator
for public radio, a role he describes as "ambassadorial"
to ease the transition to a yet-to-be-named successor.
*Across town, WFNX (101.7 Lynn) is once again in the hunt
for a new vice president of broadcast operations now that Mike
Tierney is leaving. Tierney came to WFNX just a year ago, but
he's leaving to seek out new work that's closer to his wife,
Tara, who works in New York and London. Tierney will exit WFNX
after the station's big holiday concert in early December.
Veteran Boston TV anchor Frank Mallicoat is heading west for
a new job at CBS' KPIX (Channel 5) in San Francisco, his hometown.
Mallicoat came to Boston in 1992 from WMUR in Manchester, N.H.
to do sports at WLVI (Channel 56); he became WLVI's lead anchor
before the station's news operation was shuttered a few years
back. Most recently, Mallicoat has been a weekend anchor at Fox's
WFXT (Channel 25).
Another Boston TV veteran is moving into academia. RD Sahl
is leaving New England Cable News next year to teach journalism
at Boston University. Sahl spent many years at WHDH-TV (Channel
7) before joining NECN in 1997, where he's now the main primetime
anchor. NECN hasn't yet announced a replacement for Sahl.
*Veteran WBZ sportscaster Bob Lobel is already
back on the radio on the weekends in Boston via WXKS (1200 Newton)
- and now he's adding a weekday show in NEW HAMPSHIRE.
NERW has learned that December 1 will bring the launch of a daily
Lobel sports talk show on WTPL (107.7 Hillsboro), where he'll
be heard from 10 AM until noon in the slot now occupied by Dennis
*The VERMONT Association of Broadcasters
held its annual awards banquet on Saturday, inducting WDEV (550/96.1)
afternoon personality Jack Donovan and former WFAD/WCVM owner
Mark Brady into its hall of fame. The VAB presented distinguished
service awards to WCAX-TV chief news photographer Jim Oliver
and to WPTZ-TV meteorologist Tom Messner. The VAB's Broadcaster
of the Year award went to the news team at WCAX-TV for their
coverage of the deployment of Vermont troops to Afghanistan,
and community service awards were presented to WBTZ (99.9) and
*Just a bit of MAINE news this week:
community broadcaster WERU (89.9 Blue Hill) will be returning
to the Bangor airwaves now that it's been granted a construction
permit to change the frequency of its translator there. W275AE
(102.9) was forced off the air when adjacent-channel WZON-FM
(103.1 Dover-Foxcroft) increased power; the translator will return
to the air on 99.9.
*The rumors had been flying for a few weeks, and
last week Blount Communications made it official, doubling its
CONNECTICUT presence with the $500,000 purchase of WDZK
(1550 Bloomfield) from Radio Disney, which took the signal silent
earlier this fall. The Hartford-market signal will become a religious
station, meshing nicely with Blount's other holdings in the region
including WFIF (1500 Milford) in the New Haven market and WARV
(1590 Warwick) in the Providence market.
There's a Catholic signal coming to the area as well: Legion
of Christ College in Cheshire has been granted a construction
permit for a new signal on 90.9 in Wethersfield. It will run
1620 watts/128' DA from a site just off US 6/44 on the east side
WTIC (1080 Hartford) talk host Sebastian has some legal problems
this week: he's one of 13 people charged with running a sports
betting ring. Sebastian, whose real name is Joseph Schlosser,
is charged with professional gambling and transmitting gambling
information. He's heard on WTIC Monday and Thursday evenings
in an NFL pre-game show that's always been heavy on talk of point
spreads and betting lines; the show didn't air on Thursday, and
WTIC's not saying whether he'll be back or not.
*It's not just Sebastian in trouble with
the law - a corruption investigation in RHODE ISLAND has
snagged Tanya Cruise, the midday jock at Citadel's WWLI (105.1
Providence). Cruise, whose real name is Lori Sergiacomi, was
one of four people indicted on Thursday in connection with an
alleged insurance-fraud scheme that followed the heavy rains
and flooding that hit Rhode Island in March. After Sergiacomi's
North Providence home was flooded, the indictment accuses her
of conspiring with three men, including a North Providence city
councilman, to damage her swimming pool to create a fraudulent
insurance claim. She's off the air while the case makes its way
through the courts.
A veteran Ocean State broadcaster has died. George Allen began
his career at WPEP (1570 Taunton), but he was best known for
his TV work as the host of "Dialing for Dollars" on
WTEV (Channel 6, now WLNE) and WPRI (Channel 12). Allen also
worked over the years at WLKW (990), WPRO (630) and WSAR (1480
Fall River). He died last Monday (Nov. 15), a year after suffering
a stroke. Allen was 71.
*And all over the region, this appeared to be the big week
for many stations to make the flip to all-Christmas formats:
WLTW (106.7 New York), WODS (103.3 Boston), WROR (105.7 Framingham-Boston),
WBEB (101.1 Philadelphia), WWSW-FM (94.5 Pittsburgh), WSHH (99,7
Pittsburgh) and CHFI (98.1 Toronto) all made the switch late
in the week. In smaller markets, flips included WLEV (100.7 Allentown
PA), WMXW (103.3 Vestal-Binghamton NY), WJYE (96.1) and WTSS
(102.5) in Buffalo, WXKC (99.9 Erie PA), WLAN (1390 Lancaster
PA), WBMW (106.5 Ledyard-New London CT), WALK-FM (97.5 Patchogue
NY), WRNQ (92.1 Poughkeepsie NY), WWLI (105.1 Providence RI),
WRMM-FM (101.3 Rochester NY), WYYY (94.5 Syracuse NY) and WSRS
(96.1 Worcester MA).
Still not quite in the holiday shopping mood? Come visit the
beginning Friday morning for special deals on our Tower Site
Calendar 2011 and other great radio gifts...
*And in a quiet week in CANADA, there's
one bit of new-station news to report: 50-watt CKBG (107.3) is
now on the air in Middle Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia, testing with
a format it calls "Blue Garage Classic Mix," a melange
of rock, classic rock, oldies and country. The station's official
launch is slated for the end of the month.
(Where's Middle Musquodoboit? It's about 35 miles northeast
the NERW Archives
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.
November 23, 2009 -
- A pioneering figure in RHODE ISLAND broadcasting has died.
Art Lake came to Providence's WJAR radio (920, now WHJJ) in April
1944 as an announcer, putting him in position to be part of the
on-air team that launched WJAR-TV (Channel 11, now 10) in 1949.
In the station's early days, Lake (like most announcers of the
era) did a little bit of everything, reading newscasts, hosting
entertainment shows, working the announce booth. But he quickly
specialized in one area: weather forecasting. For decades, Lake
was the weather in southern New England, delivering forecasts
on WJAR-TV's evening news and, starting in 1985, the station's
morning show. Lake went into semi-retirement a decade ago, though
he returned to WJAR for his 60th anniversary with the station
in 2004 and continued to read birthday announcements on WJAR's
"Sunrise Show" until health problems forced him to
retire for good in 2006. Lake died early Sunday morning, at age
- In MASSACHUSETTS, we know a little more about what's in store
for listeners at WGBH (89.7 Boston) and WCRB (99.5 Lowell) when
the former takes over operation of the latter just a week from
tomorrow. The new "All Classical 99.5" will retain
several familiar voices from the WCRB staff, including Laura
Carlo in morning drive and Ray Brown in afternoons. WGBH's Cathy
Fuller will handle midday duties on weekdays, and at least for
now, it appears the station will be automated from 6 PM until
5 AM. WGBH's Brian McCreath will provide a local voice on Saturday
and Sunday mornings, followed at 11 AM on Saturdays by the syndicated
"At the Top" show, also heard at 5 PM Sundays. Saturday
nights will continue to be the home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra,
a WCRB staple. It also appears that WCRB's classical programming
will replace the WGBH feed on WNCK (89.5 Nantucket); there's
no word yet whether there will be a similar flip for WGBH's Beacon
Hill translator, W242AA (96.3).
- There's also not much yet to report about a new schedule
for 89.7 - and indeed, it appears WGBH has not yet finalized
the news/talk lineup that will replace daytime classical and
the weekend folk and blues shows that go away next weekend. A
live clearance for NPR's Diane Rehm show (currently heard in
Boston only for one hout late at night on WBUR) seems likely
for the late-morning hours, but the rest of the day appears to
be in flux so far; expect a more definite schedule next week.
- There's an interesting translator development in upstate
New York - Geneva and Seneca Falls, to be exact, where the Finger
Lakes Radio Group is trading away 1000-watt daytimer WSFW (1110
Seneca Falls) to Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls in exchange for
translator W214BR (90.7 Geneva). When the deal closes, Calvary
will get much broader coverage of the northern Finger Lakes (and
a long-term sweetheart lease deal on the WSFW transmitter site)
- and Alan Bishop and George Kimble will take ownership of the
translator that already operates from the tower of their WGVA
(1240 Geneva). With a move to the commercial part of the FM dial,
W214BR will presumably begin relaying WGVA, just as Finger Lakes
already does with FM translators for its other AM signals in
the region. WSFW's current visitor-information programming will
likely go away when the AM signal becomes a Calvary religious
- And we're sorry to report the untimely death of Dene Hallam,
who started his broadcast career at the old WRNW (107.1 Briarcliff
Manor) back in the mid-70s, when that station was turning out
a lot of future big-name talent (Howard somebody, among others),
then went on to become a major force in country radio. At the
age of 28, Hallam took over from Ed Salamon in the PD chair at
New York's WHN (1050) at the end of 1981; a little more than
a year later, he moved to country competitor WKHK (106.7), where
he remained until the flip to WLTW in 1984. From there, Hallam
added more big country calls to his resume, including WDAF in
Kansas City, WWWW in Detroit and KKBQ in Houston; most recently
he'd been in Atlanta, working as operations manager at Citadel's
WKHX/WYAY and then programming the Moby in the Morning syndicated
morning show. Hallam died Friday in an Atlanta hospital after
spending several days in a coma. He was just 56.
- A venerable PENNSYLVANIA TV personality is calling it quits.
Dave Roberts, who's spent 31 years doing weather at Philadelphia's
WPVI-TV (Channel 6), announced last week that he'll retire next
month after one last stint as co-host of the station's Thanksgiving
Day parade and a few more weeks doing weather. Roberts' last
day at the weather desk will be December 11, capping a 56-year
career that began in his student days at Syracuse University's
WAER (88.3), where he went on the air back in 1954.
- As "Dave Thomas," Roberts became a fixture on the
Buffalo broadcast scene, working at the old WBUF-TV (Channel
17) and then, after a few years in the Army working for AFRTS,
at WKBW-TV (Channel 7). Beginning in 1961, he was an iconic part
of the Channel 7 team, hosting "Rocketship 7" and "Dialing
for Dollars" and doing the weather on "Eyewitness News"
alongside the legendary Irv Weinstein. Under owner Cap Cities,
many popular WKBW personalities found their way to Philadelphia
and then-sister station WPVI, and Roberts was no exception, making
the move in 1978, initially as host of "AM Philadelphia,"
then taking over weather duties in 1983 after the skydiving accident
that claimed the life of Jim O'Brien.
- In recent years, Roberts was inducted into both the Philadelphia
Broadcast Pioneers and Buffalo Broadcasters halls of fame - and
his own fame in Buffalo and Philadelphia was echoed on a national
level by his son David, who used the family's real name - Boreanaz
- as he became a star of shows such as "Buffy the Vampire
Slayer" and "Bones."
- A longtime CONNECTICUT station owner has died. Daniel W.
Kops, Sr. moved from the newspaper business in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
to the radio business in New Haven after World War II, where
he became a partner in WAVZ (1300), forming Kops-Monahan Communications.
That station group expanded in time to include WKCI (101.3 Hamden),
as well as WTRY/WDKC-FM in Albany, New York, and while the Albany
stations were sold in 1972, Kops-Monahan remained in business
in New Haven until the mid-80s. Kops, a Cornell University graduate,
served on the NAB board and the board of the National United
Way Association. He'd retired to Palm Beach, Florida, but returned
to Connecticut, where he died Nov. 14 at the Connecticut Hospice
in Branford, at age 92.
November 21, 2005 -
- It was a busy week for CANADA's regulators, as they denied
a closely-watched TV application and announced hearings on several
radio applications, including three in the nation's biggest market.
- The denied application was TV Niagara's, for a new independent
station that would have broadcast on channel 22 from a site near
St. Catharines, Ontario, from which it would have served not
only Niagara Region itself but also the rest of the "Golden
Horseshoe" around the western end of Lake Ontario, including
Toronto. In turning down TVN's application, the CRTC said it
was concerned that the company hadn't budgeted enough to pay
the costs of operating a TV station with the ambitious schedule
it proposed, including some 36 hours a week of local news and
prime-time movies. In particular, the CRTC cited the experience
of the former Toronto One (now SUN-TV), which debuted with similar
ambitions a few years back and ran into devastating financial
problems that eventually led owner Craig Media to be sold.
- NERW suspects we haven't heard the last of the TV Niagara
folks, though; they've already told the CRTC that they believe
they can run a more economical operation than Toronto One did,
and they have a compelling case to make for the relatively underserved
nature of Niagara, in the shadows of the much larger Toronto/Hamilton
and Buffalo markets.
- That was just one piece of a busy week at the CRTC, though.
It approved the move of CKDO (1350 Oshawa) to 1580, which will
allow the oldies outlet to go from 10 kW day/5 kW night (with
a fairly tight directional pattern) to 10 kW fulltime on a Canadian
clear channel. (1580 was long occupied by CBJ in Chicoutimi,
Quebec, and was later applied for by CHUC Cobourg, which instead
is moving to FM.)
- And it announced a public hearing to be held January 16 at
which it will review a number of interesting applications. In
Toronto, Rainbow Media applies for 50 watts/131.5 meters on 103.9
for "Rainbow Radio," which would feature programming
aimed at the city's gay and lesbian community. Rainbow is owned
by the Evanov group, which also operates second-adjacent CIDC
(Z 103.5) in Orangeville.
- Another Toronto application comes from Canadian Hellenic
Toronto Radio, which wants 1000 watts on 1690 for an ethnic outlet
that would be largely aimed at the city's Mediterranean population.
A third comes from "World Radio," which wants 1 kW/276.8
meters, directional, for a station programming "world beat"
- Away from the halls of the CRTC, there's other news to report
as well. In Toronto, French community station CHOQ (105.1) is
testing its signal from its new transmitter site at 6 Forest
Laneway. "Radio-Toronto" began testing Novemner 7 and
will wrap up the tests November 28, in preparation for beginning
regular programming soon. (It's been on the air under the CKIE
calls for several short-term special event broadcasts already.)
- Moving stateside, NEW YORK got Christmas music in earnest
this week - both in the west, where Buffalo's WJYE (96.1) and
WTSS (102.5) made the flip, and in the city, where WLTW (106.7
New York) made its earliest flip yet.
- WLTW also lost one of its longest-running voices, as the
station parted ways with Steven E. Roy, who was there at the
beginning, in 1984, and who'd become an afternoon fixture at
"Lite." There's no word yet on a permanent replacement,
or on Roy's next destination.
- In NEW JERSEY, mornings are a little less local at WBUD (1260
Trenton), as the Millennium Radio Group station sheds the services
of news guys John Weber and Ed Salvas. WBUD says it plans to
continue its "Mercer News Morning" block, but we're
hearing that Weber and Salvas won't be replaced, and that the
future for WBUD is more satellite and less local (even the local
voicetracking that the station's been running.)
- In MASSACHUSETTS, Michael Graham's settling in as the new
afternoon talker on WTKK (96.9 Boston), filling the slot last
occupied by Jay Severin, whose future whereabouts on the Boston
dial remain up in the air. Graham's last two gigs didn't end
well - he was driven out of WMAL, Washington earlier this year
after controversial remarks about Muslims, and he was fired from
WBT, Charlotte a few years earlier after some tasteless remarks
about the Columbine shootings. Will he fare any better in Boston
- or is that sort of high-profile controversy exactly what WTKK
is banking on?
November 20, 2000 -
- Just in time for Thanksgiving, the radio waves of Western
NEW YORK have brought forth a cornucopia of news...and where
better to begin than at the far western extreme of the NERW listening
area, out in the Jamestown area? That's where WKZA (106.9 Lakewood)
hit the air over the weekend, with a signal being heard as far
north as the Buffalo suburbs. Calling itself "Kiss,"
and IDing with Jamestown and Warren PA, we're told WKZA is running
a modern rock format. We're hoping to catch it for ourselves
as we head west towards Indiana later this week for a Very NERW
Thanksgiving. (More on that later on...)
- [And this update: We ended up driving through Jamestown itself
as we avoided the snowed-in Buffalo area on Tuesday, and had
plenty of time to listen to "Kiss." It's actually a
CHR/Pop outlet, operating from the Hotel Jamestown and sounding
- Meanwhile in Buffalo, the on-again, off-again sale of WNEQ
(Channel 23) is again very much "on," and this time
in a way that promises to avoid the earlier legal problems encountered
by the seller, the Western New York Public Broadcasting Authority.
This time, the buyer is LIN, parent company of Buffalo's CBS
affiliate, WIVB (Channel 4). LIN plans to move channel 23 to
WIVB's North Buffalo studios and program it as a commercial independent,
complete with a WIVB-produced 10 PM newscast. More on those plans
in a moment -- first a bit of history: WNYPBA put WNEQ on the
air in May 1987 as a second outlet, to complement existing public
TV station WNED-TV (Channel 17). A decade or so later, though,
the impending costs of the digital TV conversion at WNED (not
to mention the debt load of WNED's palatial new downtown studio
complex) led WNYPBA to put the second station up for sale. Sinclair
Broadcasting stepped forward, offering $33 million for the station
in May 1998. WNEQ would have become the duopoly partner to Sinclair's
Fox affiliate, WUTV (Channel 29) -- but instead, the deal ended
up facing a serious challenge, thanks to the unusual licensing
arrangement for Buffalo's public broadcasters. WNED, the primary
station on channel 17, actually operates on a commercial allocation,
a vestige of its 1950s past as NBC O&O WBUF(TV). When NBC
shut down its UHF experiment, it donated channel 17 to what became
WNYPBA, but the channel remained commercial. In order to sell
WNEQ, on the noncommercial-reserved channel 23, WNYPBA needed
to persuade the FCC to move the noncommercial reservation from
channel 23 to channel 17, turning 23 into the commercial channel.
It may sound like a bunch of legal minutiae, but it took the
FCC over a year to approve the move, and appeals from concerned
WNEQ viewers now have that approval tied up in federal court.
The uncertainty, coupled with Sinclair's own financial problems,
brought the Sinclair sale to an end last year. (A few months
later, Sinclair instead bought WB affiliate WNYO (Channel 49),
for $51.5 million.)
- Which brings us back to LIN and its WNEQ purchase. Here's
how it works: Sometime soon (perhaps as early as January, speculates
the Buffalo News), LIN will begin leasing channel 23 from WNYPBA.
Once the lawsuit over channel 23 is resolved, LIN will pay $26.2
million, in two annual installments, for WNEQ (less whatever
amount it's already paid in lease fees). And here's the kicker:
If WNED loses the lawsuit and channel 23 has to stay noncommerical,
WNYPBA will instead sell WNED's channel 17 to LIN, bumping the
sale price up to $31.2 million for the stronger signal. (That's
OK, WNYPBA president Don Boswell tells the News, because with
DTV the present channel assignments will disappear anyway...though
NERW notes that most stations will continue using their NTSC
channels as a "virtual" channel number.)
- A final historical note: If LIN does end up with channel
17, it will close a forty-year circle in Buffalo broadcasting
history. The present WIVB studios at 2077 Elmwood Avenue were
built in the late 1950s by NBC, as a state-of-the-art studio
for none other than WBUF-TV 17! When WBUF folded, the building
sat vacant for several years before becoming the home of channel
4, then WBEN-TV. The tower out back served as the channel 17
tower for years, until the current WNED/WNEQ site on Grand Island
- With that, we move on to Elmira, where the city's oldest
radio station is picking up stakes and moving its studios down
the road to Corning. WENY (1230) and WENY-FM (92.7) are joining
Eolin Broadcasting's four stations (WCBA AM-FM, WCLI, and WGMM)
at the "Radio Works" facility on Davis Road beginning
next Monday (Nov. 27). In the process, they'll drop their current
formats (oldies on the AM, soft rock "Y 92-7" on FM)
and begin simulcasting two of the Eolin outlets. WENY(AM) will
join WCLI (1450) as "Two-Way Radio for the Twin Tiers,"
with a mostly-satellite talk format. On the FM side, WENY-FM
will simulcast WCBA-FM (98.7)'s AC format as the "Elmira-Corning
Crystal Network," with WCBA-FM's Jack and Bob in the morning.
- We'll leave New York with an interesting rumor: AllAccess
says, quoting M Street, that WEVD (1050) could be near an $85
million sale -- and the buyer isn't Clear Channel or Infinity.
(NERW wonders: could it be ABC and "ESPN Radio 1050,"
following on ABC's recent buy of LA's KRLA?)
- On we go, to VERMONT and the launch of a new oldies station.
You read it here first (NERW, 10/16/2000): the former WGLV (104.3
Hartford) has moved from its interim sports format (simulcast
with sisters WNHV 910 and WTSV 1230) to oldies, under the calls
WWOD, "Oldies 104."
- Across the river in NEW HAMPSHIRE, Bob Vinikoor has flipped
his WNTK (1020 Newport) from talk to what he's calling "Home
Town Music," a mix of classic country, folk, and blues.
Fredie Dee is doing mornings on the station, while Rush Limbaugh
continues to be heard from 12 to 3, simulcast with WNTK-FM (99.7
New London), where the talk format lives on.
- One story, and one only, from CANADA this week: The AM 1220
outlet in Cornwall, Ontario, vacant since June 1999, is back
on the air testing. 1220 was CJSS, but that station and its country
format moved to FM (as "101.9 the Blaze"), leaving
in its wake an application by owner Tri-Co Broadcasting for a
"new" adult standards outlet. To be known as CJUL,
"the Jewel," the new 1220 will reportedly make its
official debut Thursday (Nov. 24), and we're told personalities
such as Jack Curran and Chuck Phillips (of Montreal's defunct
CIQC) will be part of it.
New England Radio Watch, November 18, 1995
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- As expected, the CBS shareholders voted overwhelmingly (99.5%
yes) to approve the $5+ billion purchase by Westinghouse. The
only remaining hurdle is FCC approval of the transfer of the
CBS broadcast licenses...and THAT will have to wait for the FCC
to reopen. The New England implications come here in Boston,
where Westinghouse will add CBS's WODS-FM ("Oldies 103")
to its WBZ(AM) and WBZ-TV. Additionally, Westinghouse will get
CBS's newly-purchased WPRI-TV Providence RI, and I believe a
minor waiver will be needed because of the overlap between WBZ-TV
and WPRI-TV. The most immediate consequence of the transaction
will be the disappearance of the "Group W" name after
four decades. The entire group of 39 radio stations and more
than a dozen TVs will be known as CBS. This is going to take
some getting used to... (inevitable disclaimer -- I work for
Group W, I mean, CBS, but I do not speak for them).
- A minor correction: The low-power TV in Providence is not
officially WRIW(LP), at least not yet. The FCC database still
lists it as W23AS. However, the Providence translator of WLNE-TV
6 New Bedford MA is now known as WLNE(LP), from
- Congratulations to all the winners of this year's "Achievement
in Radio" awards, handed out this week. WBZ's David Brudnoy
won the A.I.R. Lifetime Achievement Award. Other winners included
Kiss 108's Matty Siegel as best morning drive personality, Lady
D of Jam'n 94.5 (WJMN) for afternoon drive, and WBMX's Joe Cortese
- A bit less local programming these days on Boston's business
station, WBNW 590 (simulcast on WPNW 550 Pawtucket RI), as Jeannine
Graf has departed her 1-3 pm "New England Business"
program. Graf says she simply chose not to renew her contract.
The program has been replaced by the Dolans from the WOR Network.
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2010 by Scott Fybush.