January 10, 2011
CC Shuffles Mass., Connecticut Signals
Were you on vacation earlier
this month? Away from the computer? Did you miss our giant 2010 Year in Review special? It's available
all year, including the Rant, right
*Clear Channel is taking
another stab at moving one of its western MASSACHUSETTS FM
signals south to Hartford, CONNECTICUT - and the
latest proposal to move WPKX (97.9) is part of a big batch of
applications that could end up affecting at least four stations
in the region.
Clear Channel had
originally proposed relocating WPKX to downtown Hartford without
changing its city of license from Enfield, right on the state
line, but that application was withdrawn last year. The new application
filed last week once again proposes to put WPKX atop the City
Place I office tower in downtown Hartford, but now the station's
city of license would change to Windsor Locks, closer to Hartford
and more easily covered from the downtown transmitter site.
To maintain the legal fiction of "first local service"
to Enfield, Clear Channel has struck a deal with Citadel to change
the city of license of Citadel's WMAS-FM (94.7) from Springfield
to Enfield; that's all that will change at WMAS, which will retain
its present downtown Springfield transmitter site and studios
at the Basketball Hall of Fame. (Citadel, in exchange, gets to
use a Clear Channel-owned generator at the Sandia Crest master
FM/TV site high above Albuquerque.)
The other two stations being shuffled are both on 100.9: Clear
Channel's WRNX in Amherst and Hall's WKNL in New London. In order
to move WRNX closer to Springfield (presumably to become the
new home of the WPKX calls and "Kix" country format
after 97.9 moves away, though Clear Channel's not saying as much),
Clear Channel needed WKNL to agree to short-spacing.
Here's how that plays out: in exchange for agreeing to the
short-spacing, Clear Channel will pay for a new directional antenna
that will allow "Kool 101" to upgrade to 6 kW from
its present 3 kW. Two other Connecticut stations, CBS Radio's
WRCH (100.5) and Clear Channel's own WKCI (101.3), also had to
sign off on the short-spacing in order for WRNX to move. Its
new site will be on Mount Tom in Holyoke, not at the main tower
farm there (the spacings don't quite work) but rather at the
site to the north at the top of the ski area that's now home
to WFXQ-CA (Channel 28). From there, WRNX will run 870 watts/859'
into a directional antenna with significantly improved coverage
of Springfield compared to its present 1350-watt/692' site on
another ridge to the northeast.
*There's a new program director at WFNX (101.7 Lynn), but
he's a familiar face: Paul Driscoll served as music director
under former PD Mike Tierney, and now he takes over the PD chair,
keeping his nighttime airshift for now.
*One more engineering story out of the Bay State: even as
CBS Radio works to move WODS (103.3) from the "FM128"
tower in Newton to the Prudential Center in Boston's Back Bay,
it's not abandoning FM128, either. WODS is now operating on a
temporary basis from the master antenna at FM128, which is shared
by sister station WBZ-FM (98.5) and Clear Channel's WJMN (94.5)
- and it's applying, along with its sister stations WBZ-FM, WZLX
and WBMX, to build a permanent auxiliary site there to provide
a backup should WODS, WZLX and WBMX be unable to use their main
sites at the Pru.
And on the AM side, WBZ (1030) is boasting something it's
never had: a toll-free call-in number. After decades of "254-5678"
and then "617-254-1030," WBZ's talk hosts began promoting
"888-WBZ-1030" last week. (It must be a CBS corporate
thing; Philadelphia sister station WPHT has supplanted its collection
of local numbers in Philadelphia, the suburbs and South Jersey
with a single toll-free number as well.)
*On TV, Doug Lezette is moving on - of his own volition, he
assures NERW - after just over five years as news director and
lead anchor at Springfield's WSHM ("CBS3"), where he
was on the team that launched the local newscasts there in 2005.
Lezette, a veteran of upstate New York TV in Rochester and Albany,
is heading to Providence to become assistant news director at
WJAR (Channel 10).
*Back to Connecticut: Jason Page is out as afternoon host
at Clear Channel sports-talkers WPOP (1410 Hartford) and WAVZ
(1300 New Haven). He'd been hosting "The Back Page,"
heard from 3-7 PM weekdays, but his two-year contract expired
on Thursday and he was out the door shortly afterward.
Over in Danbury, Dennis Jackson is selling translator W297BD
(107.3) to Berkshire Broadcasting for $175,000 - and that appears
to mean an AM-on-FM translator is in the offing for either Berkshire's
WREF (850 Ridgefield) or WLAD (800 Danbury), more likely the
former. The deal also includes rent-free space for Jackson to
install up to two more translators on Berkshire's Danbury tower
- and the title to a 2001 Chevy Astro van.
On TV, Geoff Fox is out as the top weatherman at WTNH (Channel
8), where he'd been since 1984. It's the latest in a series of
talent cuts at WTNH, which didn't renew the contract of meteorologist
Matt Scott at the end of 2010, either. Fox says WTNH has agreed
to let him work until the end of his contract in February, and
he says he's already getting interest from both inside and outside
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*Glenn Beck may originate his midmorning
radio show from NEW YORK City, but as of next Monday the
show will be without an affiliate there. WOR (710) announced
last week that it's replacing Beck with Mike Gallagher in the
10 AM-noon slot and extending John R. Gambling's morning show
to 10 AM instead of ending it at 9.
Gallagher has a long history in the market, having been heard
locally on WABC (770) before becoming a Salem syndicated talker.
He's currently being heard in New York on delay, running in the
9 PM-midnight slot on Salem's WNYM (970), which hasn't yet announced
its new nighttime lineup.
As for Beck, WOR PD Scott Lakefield minced no words about
the reason he's losing his perch in the city where his show originates:
"The reason is ratings," he told the Daily News.
"Somewhat to our surprise, the show wasn't getting what
we wanted." By our count, WOR is at least the third talker
in NERW-land to pull Beck's show in the last few months - there's
the high-profile programming shift underway at Philadelphia's
WPHT (1210), of course, and the quieter replacement of Beck with
Dennis Miller up in New Hampshire at WNTK (99.7), where ratings
and revenues also didn't live up to expectations.
Beck has yet to land a new affiliate in any of those markets;
in New York, the pickings are slim, since Salem's flagship talker
Bill Bennett airs in Beck's late-morning slot at WNYM, while
WABC has the last hour of Don Imus followed by local host Joe
Crummey in that timeslot.
*Long Island's WBLI (106.1 Patchogue) relaunches its morning
show today. Dana DiDonato remains in place from the station's
old morning lineup, but co-hosts Drew Applebaum and Randy Spears
are gone, replaced by a new sidekick named "Jeffrey,"
one name only.
*Up the Hudson Valley, we know more about the new morning
show starting next week on WBPM (92.9 Saugerties): it's "Robinson
and Shannon," and it's a transplant from Rochester. Brian
Robinson left his afternoon slot at WCMF (96.5) on Friday to
head east, where he'll join fellow Rochesterian Shannon Ealy
in the morning slot on WBPM. No replacement has been announced
yet at WCMF.
Another new Hudson Valley FM station is displacing at least
three translators in the area. The grant of WGNY-FM (98.9 Rosendale)
affects W256BI (99.1 Red Hook), which relays WKZE (98.1 Salisbury
CT) and which now has a CP to move to 105.9; W255BY (98.9 Poughkeepsie),
which relays WNYX (88.1 Montgomery) and is moving to 106.9 next
week; and W256BD (99.1 Warwick), which relays WTBQ (1110) and
which has an application to move to 93.5.
*Two public radio signals in western New York are getting
signal upgrades: in Rochester, the FCC granted WRUR (88.5) an
increase from 3 kW/348' to 15.1 kW/378' DA, and construction
is already underway to install the new directional antenna for
the upgrade, which will keep WRUR on the Pinnacle Hill tower
of sister station WXXI. And in Geneva, Hobart and William Smith
Colleges' WEOS (89.7) has been granted its CP to slide one notch
down the dial to 89.5, slightly increasing power from 4 kW/312'
to 6 kW/312' and dropping the directional pattern it now uses
to protect co-channel WITR (89.7 Henrietta) in the Rochester
We'll have a closer look at all the changes on Pinnacle Hill
on Friday's Tower Site of the Week here at fybush.com.
(Usual disclaimer: your editor is a part-time employee of
WXXI, which operates WRUR for the University of Rochester and
WEOS for Hobart and William Smith.)
the final pieces of the WSYR move to FM have now fallen into
place. It took a few days for WSYR's new FM home on 106.9 to
change the call letters it was using on the air; as late as Wednesday,
it was still identifying as "WPHR-FM Solvay" even as
its Clear Channel sister station in Florida had flipped from
WSYR-FM (94.7 Gifford/Fort Pierce) to WPHR-FM. Now it's WSYR-FM
in Syracuse, and we'll see in the months to come whether the
simulcast on WSYR (570) is permanent or whether the AM signal
will eventually flip to a new format.
As for the former "Power" urban format from 106.9,
it's now on WHEN (620) and on WSYR-FM's HD2, where it trades
places with the WSYR(AM) simulcast that used to be heard there.
We happened across an interesting on-air moment on 620 over the
weekend: the Saturday afternoon "Power Perspectives"
local talk show spent some time talking about the station's shift
from 106.9 to 620, and interspersed with the expected criticism
of the move to AM were a surprising number of calls praising
the AM station's considerable daytime reach across a much larger
swath of central New York than its former FM home.
*Radio People on the Move: in Syracuse, Judy Kelly is departing
the Leatherstocking Media Group (WSEN/WFBL) after more than 17
years there, most recently as general manager. SHe's Florida-bound,
reports CNYRadio.com, to work at CBS Radio's WEAT (104.3) in
West Palm Beach. In Ithaca, WHCU (870) evening news anchor Syl
Kacapyr is heading into PR with a new job at the media relations
office of Cornell University - and that means an opening for
"an experienced newsperson with excellent writing and social
networking skills" at WHCU. And that's not the only news
opening along Route 96 this week: in Owego, Chris Schmidt leaves
WEBO (1330) at week's end to take a new job with the nearby Union-Endicott
School District, and that leaves a big hole for a new morning
host who can also do news and sports. (And quickly, too, because
Schmidt's departure leaves WEBO owner Dave Radigan doing all
those jobs in the meantime!)
*Where are they now? Sherman Baldwin made a lot of headlines
during his time in Albany and the nearby Berkshires, and now
he's returning to the air in Florida. The talk host had been
heard on WTMY (1280) in Sarasota after leaving upstate New York
last summer; that show ended in December, but starting today
Baldwin's "Talk Sarasota" has a new home at brokered
WWPR (1490 Bradenton FL).
*Our TV news this
week starts with a resolution to the festering dispute that's
kept Utica NBC affiliate WKTV (Channel 2) off the Time Warner
Cable system there. TWC and WKTV owner Smith Media agreed on
new terms over the weekend, ending what had been a particularly
nasty fight in which Time Warner began importing NBC affiliate
WBRE from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to replace WKTV on cable.
Neither side is talking about the terms of the deal, which also
returns Smith's WVNY (ABC) and WFFF (Fox) in the Burlington,
Vermont market to TWC systems there. (There's no word, meanwhile,
on where TWC and Sinclair stand on their carriage dispute, which
nearly blacked out Sinclair-owned Fox, MyNetwork and CBS stations
in the region on New Year's Eve; a two-week extension of those
negotiations expires on Friday.)
*After almost 60 years, North Pole, New York is losing its
TV station. WPTZ-TV (Channel 5) has never been physically located
in North Pole, and it's been a few years now since the Hearst-owned
NBC station first asked the FCC to modify the table of allocations
to delete WPTZ from North Pole and relicense the station to Plattsburgh,
the much larger city up the road that's always been the station's
The FCC is usually reluctant to delete a community's sole
broadcast service, but even the bureaucrats at the Portals could
hardly ignore the reality that "North Pole" was never
much of a community to begin with, just a post office at the
Santa's Workshop tourist attraction - which doesn't even use
North Pole as its own mailing address.
Rival station WCAX (Channel 3) across the lake in Burlington,
Vermont briefly raised an objection, saying WPTZ's allocation
was meant to go to the "Tri-Lakes" (Lake Placid/Saranac
Lake/Tupper Lake) area south of Plattsburgh, but it withdrew
the objection in December, and last week the FCC finally laid
the matter to rest, reallotting WPTZ's digital channel (14) to
Plattsburgh and changing the station's city of license. WPTZ's
transmitter, of course, has been nowhere near North Pole or Plattsburgh
or the Tri-Lakes since the DTV transition - it's now up on Mount
Mansfield in Vermont with most of the rest of the market's TV
(And since someone's bound to ask - no, I have no idea how
channel 5, originally WIRI, ended up licensed to North Pole in
the first place. The earliest listing I can find for the station,
in the 1953-54 Telecasting Yearbook, shows a construction
permit for WIRI in Bloomingdale, just outside Saranac Lake.)
Syracuse, WSYR-TV (Channel 9) is getting ready to launch its
local HD newscasts. The Newport-owned ABC affiliate unveiled
its new logo last week, and it says it will have the updated
look on the air (including a new set) by February. (And no, despite
what at least one local wag pointed out in e-mail, there's no
direct connection between channel 9's new look and the longtime
logo of Schenectady's WRGB, which used a "6" logo for
many years that looked just like the new "9" in Syracuse,
albeit flipped 180 degrees.
*Richard McCarthy had a very long career on radio and TV in
the Hudson Valley, starting out on the air at WKNY and WGHQ in
Kingston before his boss in Kingston, Bob Peebles, got hired
to run Capital Cities' WROW radio in Albany. Peebles brought
McCarthy (known on air as "Richard Hill") to Albany,
working as a newscaster and then as a sportscaster on both WROW
and sister station WTEN-TV. He stayed on the air at WROW until
1994, when he went to work for Ernie Anastos' WABY (1160), doing
afternoon sports, a job he continued to hold well into his eighties.
McCarthy died Tuesday (Jan. 4); he was 88.
Al Brumbach wasn't a well-known name in radio, but for listeners
north of Albany he was a familiar weekend voice for a while,
using the air name of Gene Ryan on WENU in Glens Falls and on
WIPS in Ticonderoga - and displaying plenty of dedication for
those airshifts, which involved a long drive north on I-87 from
New York City, where he worked during the week as a Sanitation
Department supervisor. In 1987, he moved to Vineland, New Jersey,
where he worked as news director at WWBZ (1270) and did work
for the local school department. He died last Monday (Jan. 3)
in Vineland at age 63.
And we're sorry to report the passing of a veteran Rochester
TV engineer. John Coon worked at WOKR (channel 13, now WHAM-TV)
and then as chief engineer at WROC-TV (channel 8) for many years,
with a return appearance on the night of June 12, 2009 to turn
off the station's analog transmitter for the last time. Coon
died Dec. 21 at age 73.
*The Voice of Russia is now being heard in
metro New York, by way of a NEW JERSEY-based AM station.
Multicultural Broadcasting's WNSW (1430 Newark) switched programming
from Spanish religious Radio Cantico Nuevo to the English service
of the Moscow-based government broadcaster right after the new
year. Radio Cantico Nuevo, in turn, is now being heard on WNYH
(740 Huntington NY).
a South Jersey format change, too: WENJ (1450 Atlantic City)
has flipped from ESPN Deportes Spanish-language sports to English-language
ESPN, simulcasting WENJ-FM (97.3 Millville).
And while the drama leading up to the Atlantic Broadcasting
bankruptcy filing has largely subsided, some of the headaches
continue: we're hearing that phone and water service at the Atlantic
headquarters building in Linwood was shut off last week, much
to the dismay of WMGM-TV (Channel 40), which occupies the building
as a tenant, a legacy of the days when the TV station was co-owned
with the radio stations under Howard Green. The TV station is
reported to be actively seeking new office space to get away
from the problems at its former sister stations.
*One bit of RHODE ISLAND news for
the new year: while Pawtucket's AM 550 has yet to return to the
air, it has new calls. With the former WDDZ calls having migrated
west to Pittsburgh for Radio Disney's 1250 (ex-WEAE), the license
for 550 now bears the calls WBZS. Will those be the calls once
Salem takes over operations and returns 550 to the air - or could
they be parked in Pawtucket en route to a Salem launch of the
company's new pet format, business talk, somewhere else?
(The "Net Gnomes" over at RadioInsight.com
picked up a few weeks ago on a Salem domain registration for
"MoneyRadio950.com," which could point to Salem's WROL
950 in Boston.)
*In TV news, Susan Roberts is the new co-anchor at 5, 6 and
11 PM on Providence's WPRI (Channel 12). Roberts comes to WPRI
from the CBS Newspath service, where she was a Washington-based
correspondent; she fills the very big shoes left behind by Karen
Adams' retirement at the end of December.
*One station sale in MAINE: the Knights
of Columbus of Bath are transferring the construction permit
for unbuilt WTBP (89.7) to the Presence Radio Network, which
operates Catholic station WXTP (106.7 North Windham); the $1,000
sale is part of the Presence network's plan to expand its reach
across more of the Pine Tree State.
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*It was a very quiet week in PENNSYLVANIA,
especially at the site of WZUM (1590 Carnegie), where the station's
transmitting equipment has now been removed, leaving only the
three towers that will soon be taken down by Crafton Borough
officials who rejected a proposal that would have reactivated
the silent station; it will be deleted in March if it doesn't
return to the air, and the removal of its transmitter makes a
return to the air all but impossible.
Up I-79 south of Erie, there are new calls for Family Life's
new station on 90.9 in Cambridge Springs: it will be "WCGF"
when it signs on.
Former WXTU (92.5 Philadelphia) morning jock Kris Stevens
has a new job in Charlotte, doing middays at Clear Channel's
WKKT (96.9). Down the dial at CBS Radio's WPHT (1210), Gary R'Nel
is the new evening host starting next week, when he slides into
the 7-10 PM slot now home to Dom Giordano, who'll move to late
mornings to replace Glenn Beck.
12 months, one page - all the year's
news and events in one place!
*The news from CANADA this week starts
with a format change in southwest Ontario: CJSP (92.7 Leamington)
quietly ditched country on Tuesday (January 4) to become adult
hits "92.7 Max FM."
Blackburn Radio says that when it signed on CJWF (95.9 Windsor)
with country, it found more overlap with CJSP than it had expected,
and it's urging country fans in the Leamington area to tune to
CJWF or to sister station CFCO (630) from Chatham instead.
In St. Catharines, there's a new morning team at CHTZ (97.7),
where Chris Biggs and Jason Barr will launch their "Biggs
& Barr" show next Monday. Biggs had worked at Toronto-market
stations including CKFM (999 Virgin Radio), CHUM-FM and CIDC
(Z103.5); Barr was at CFNY (102.1 the Edge) for almost two decades.
Meanwhile, HTZ-FM veteran "Iron Mike" Bensson returns
to the station for afternoons.
Up north, there's a new French-language station coming to
Nipissing, Ontario, where Paul Lefebvre has been granted a signal
on 97.1 with 77.6 kW/447' DA.
In Prince Edward County, on the north shore of Lake Ontario,
the CRTC rejected an application for a new FM signal, agreeing
with stations in nearby Belleville and Napanee that rather than
serving an unserved area, the proposed AAA station on 89.5 would
be a competitor to those existing signals in a market that can't
sustain another commercial signal.
Across the border in Shawinigan, Quebec (north of Trois-Rivieres),
community/campus station CFUT is applying to move from 91.1 to
88.1, boosting power from 250 watts/30' DA to 31.3 kW/499' DA
and relocating the transmitter to Mont-Carmel. Another community
station on the Gaspé peninsula, CJRG (94.5), is applying
to add three more relay transmitters to improve its coverage:
98.5 in Grande-Vallée, 99.9 in Petite-Vallée and
98.9 in Cloridorme.
*And finally this week: happy anniversary to us! It was seventeen
years ago this week - January 14, 1994, to be exact - when the
first issue of "New England Radio Watcher" burst upon
an unsuspecting Usenet. The name has changed, Usenet's all but
gone, and the mode of distribution has shifted a few times...but
we're still here, and ready to keep going for at least seventeen
more, if there's still a broadcast industry to cover come 2028.
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.
One Year Ago: January 11, 2010 -
- As public radio has evolved into a big business over the
last quarter-century, many of the institutions that were early
sponsors of public radio stations are finding that big-time broadcasting
no longer fits their mission. The latest example comes from western
PENNSYLVANIA, where Pittsburgh's Duquesne University announced
last week that it's looking to sell WDUQ (90.5), the station
it put on the air as a low-power student-run operation back in
1949. "The university is proud of the station's success,"
said a statement from the station last week, "and sees that
it is big enough to exist outside the university's umbrella.
While the university continues to look at all opportunities,
it is currently working with a group comprised of the current
management of DUQ, representatives of the foundation community,
and the public broadcasting consulting group Public Radio Capital
to explore the possibility of WDUQ becoming an independent public
- Duquesne's involvement with WDUQ has been largely hands-off
for the last few years; while the university continues to hold
the station's license and to provide office space, most of WDUQ's
funding now comes from individual members, underwriters and corporate/foundation
grants, and Duquesne has had little involvement with the station's
programming. One notable exception came in 2007, when the Catholic
university's leadership forced WDUQ to return underwriting money
from Planned Parenthood.
- While there's no shortage of message-board speculation about
potential purchasers for the big-signalled station, it seems
clear that the intent is to keep WDUQ functioning substantially
as it already does. Its mix of NPR news/talk programming and
jazz routinely nets respectable ratings, higher than classical
competitor WQED-FM (89.3) or AAA WYEP (91.3), and with Pittsburgh's
long history of corporate funding for cultural institutions,
it's highly likely that WDUQ can be successfully transitioned
to some form of community nonprofit ownership with its current
staff and management intact.
- And there are two big Keystone State obituaries this week:
first, we noted the passing of veteran Pittsburgh sportscaster
and columnist Phil Musick, whose career included a long stint
with the now-defunct Pittsburgh Press, as well as time as sports
editor at the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review. Musick was an
early columnist for USA Today in the eighties. In addition to
his print work, Musick spent 11 years as a talk host at WTAE
(1250, now WEAE) before joining KDKA-TV (Channel 2) in 1998 as
managing editor. He died Jan. 5 of congestive heart failure at
- Then came another KDKA-TV obituary: Yvonne Zanos, the CBS
station's consumer reporter, succumbed to ovarian cancer on Friday
(Jan. 8), just two days after turning 60. Zanos was a reporter
for the old "Evening Magazine" on KDKA-TV in the seventies,
then left for Kansas City before returning to Pittsburgh in 1984
to report for crosstown WTAE-TV (Channel 4). Zanos went on the
consumer beat there in 1987, then rejoined Channel 2 a decade
later. For the last two years, Zanos had continued to work at
KDKA while undergoing treatment for the cancer that was diagnosed
in late 2007. She's survived by her husband, two daughters and
- In MASSACHUSETTS, the big news came from WFNX (101.7 Lynn),
which pulled the plug on its "Sandbox" morning show
after two and a half years, dropping hosts Charlie Padgett and
"Special Ed" Oliveira. Co-host Dustin "Fletcher"
Matthews stays on board at the modern rocker, hosting a new morning
show with PD Keith Dakin and veteran FNX newsman Henry Santoro.
Also helping out with the new show is production director and
former afternoon jock "Big Jim" Murray, who's being
replaced in drivetime by Adam Chapman, aka "Adam 12,"
who'd left WFNX a few years back to go to the now-defunct WBCN
(104.1). Later in the evening, "Loveline" is gone,
and Paul Driscoll's night shift now runs from 6 PM until midnight.
- Adam 12 isn't the only former New England radio personality
who came home last week: on the sports-talk front, Andy Gresh
departed Sirius/XM's Mad Dog Sports channel and the SNY cable
network in New York to take a new gig with CBS Radio's "Sports
Hub" (WBZ-FM 98.5) in Boston. Gresh was already a familiar
voice to Sports Hub listeners as the host of the Patriots Radio
Network pre- and post-game shows, and he'll continue in that
role, as well as hosting a regular weekend shift and serving
as the regular fill-in for WBZ-FM's weekday talent.
- Over at WGBH's main service on 89.7 in Boston, today's the
debut day for two new local talk shows: Emily Rooney of "Greater
Boston" will hold down the noon-1 PM hour, followed by Callie
Crossley from 1-2 PM. Not everyone's happy with the new 89.7
lineup, of course, and WGBH general manager John Voci got an
ear full last Tuesday as one of the panelists at a meeting organized
by the Boston Musical Intelligencer website. Your editor, while
invited to participate, was unable to do so because of family
commitments and winter-weather travel issues - but several NERW
readers were among the 400 or so in the crowd at Old South Church,
where the big issues were apparently the signal deficiencies
of WCRB (99.5 Lowell), now the only full-time source of classical
music with WGBH's move to fulltime news/talk, and the perceived
lower quality of the WGBH-produced classical programming now
being heard on 99.5. A particular concern was the removal of
the Friday afternoon Boston Symphony Orchestra broadcasts, which
Voci says would cost an additional $20,000-$30,000 annually.
Those hoping for easy solutions to these problems aren't likely
to be satisfied: existing short-spacings and FCC allocation rules
mean the 99.5 signal will be staying put at its existing Andover
transmitter site for the foreseeable future (though the WCRB
simulcast at 89.7-HD2 offers the promise of a cleaner classical
signal for listeners south of Boston willing to invest in an
HD Radio receiver), and WGBH officials seem unlikely to make
significant changes in the programming now running on "All
Classical WGBH" at 99.5.
- There's a radio sale to report: Antonio Gois is converting
his LMA of WLLH (1400 Lowell and Lawrence) and WAMG (890 Dedham)
to a purchase, for a remarkably low price - he's paying just
$1.8 million for the stations that WallerSutton-backed J Sports
bought for $9 million five years ago.
- It was a very quiet week in NEW YORK radio, though it will
get busier this week: longtime WABC (770 New York) talker Curtis
Sliwa starts his new morning show today at a much smaller competitor,
Salem's WNYM (970 Hackensack NJ). Will Sliwa be a big enough
name to make "970 the Apple" a factor on a Big Apple
talk landscape that currently has just two major players, WABC
and Buckley's WOR (710)? (Speaking of WNYM, its daytime power
increase to 50,000 watts is coming at the expense of a co-channel
station 200 miles away: Salem bought WAMD in Aberdeen, Maryland
a few years back, and as of yesterday WAMD has been taken silent,
eliminating one of the hurdles to WNYM's signal boost.)
- While we're on the topic of signals, Fordham University's
WFUV (90.7 New York) reports that it's completed the installation
of its new antenna atop a Montefiore Medical Center apartment
building in the Bronx. WFUV moved to Montefiore in 2006 from
its never-completed tower on the Fordham campus, but the 10-bay
Dielectric antenna that went up back then never quite lived up
to expectations, and now it has been replaced by a six-bay Shively
directional antenna at the same site.
- There's a format change coming in the Hudson Valley (and
neighboring Danbury, CONNECTICUT) later today, or so we're told
- Cumulus' WDBY (105.5 Patterson) is promoting a 1:05 PM flip
to country as "Kicks 105," replacing the AC "Y105"
format that's been in place there since 2002.
- MONDAY UPDATE: And that's exactly what happened, as WDBY
segued out of its 1 PM "Y105" ID into five minutes
of a countdown clock, followed by the launch of country music.
Bill "Mr. Morning" Trotta, who was Y105's high-profile
hire a year ago, when he moved from his longtime home on crosstown
WDAQ (98.3 Danbury), remains in place in morning drive.
Five Years Ago: January 9, 2006 -
- The tangled tale of MASSACHUSETTS high school station WAVM
(91.7 Maynard) took another turn last Friday, when station adviser
and founder Joseph P. Magno was arrested on charges of raping
a former student. Magno, 65, will be arraigned today in Concord
District Court on the charges, which also include indecent assault
and battery on a child, allegedly a male student who was under
14 when the incidents began.
- The news comes at a particularly challenging time for WAVM,
whose fight for survival has been chronicled extensively here
on NERW and elsewhere. Just before the holidays, Living Proof,
Inc., the California religious broadcaster that won a "tentative
preference" from the FCC to build a new facility in Lunenburg
that will likely displace WAVM from its spot on the dial, offered
a settlement proposal to WAVM and two other applicants that would,
at least in theory, allow for two new stations on 91.7 as well
as a WAVM upgrade to protected class A status.
- In other news from the Bay State, the new year marked the
end of WBZ (1030 Boston)'s contract to carry Paul Harvey's daily
broadcasts, which have been a fixture there for years. The CBS
Radio station chose not to renew its deal with ABC for Harvey
(though it is apparently still using some ABC News Radio material),
and so far there's been no replacement in the market. (NERW notes
that the relationship between WBZ and Harvey extended to the
use of morning anchor Gary LaPierre as a substitute host on the
Harvey broadcasts on several occasions in the mid-nineties.)
- A few other Radio People on the Move: Ben Parker moves from
the WRKO newsroom to the PD chair at WEIM (1280 Fitchburg). At
WZLX (100.7 Boston), Beau Raines' run as PD came to a close at
the end of 2005. WUMB (91.9 Boston) is losing music director
Sarah Wardrop to New York - she's headed for a new gig at WFUV
(90.7) there. And a couple of "Where Are They Now?"
items - veteran Boston jock "Hutch" has resurfaced
as the sidekick to David Lee Roth's CBS Radio morning show (heard
locally on WBCN), while former WODS morning man Paul Perry is
looking for work now that his contract with Chicago's WJMK has
ended. (Perry was doing mornings on WJMK's HD subchannel for
the latter half of 2005, after the main channel flipped from
oldies to "Jack.")
- Out on Long Island, the end of 2005 was also the end of analog
TV for Riverhead's WLNY (Channel 55). The independent station
won FCC permission to shut off its analog signal earlier than
scheduled, as part of a nationwide sale of the channel 55 bandwidth
to Qualcomm for its new MediaFLO broadband service, and now WLNY
is seen over the air only on WLNY-DT (Channel 57) and three LPTV
signals; its main viewership, of course, is on cable and satellite.
- So much for "ChannelCasting": The Morey Organization
has stopped using that term on its three East End FMs, and things
are pretty much back to the way they were at rocker "Bone"
WBON (98.5 Westhampton), dance-top 40 "Party" WDRE
(105.3 Calverton-Roanoke) and modern rock WLIR (107.1 Hampton
Bays), with highly reduced spotloads the only remnant of the
failed "ChannelCasting" concept.
- Heading up the Hudson Valley, Ed Levine's two Albany-market
FMs relaunched for the new year, dropping classic country on
WEGQ (93.7 Scotia) and reworking the rock format on WRCZ (94.5
Ravena) into a new simulcast called "The Bone." JR
Gach remains in place on the new station, and new calls WOOB
(93.7) and WBOE (94.3) are on the way.
- The big story from PENNSYLVANIA as 2006 dawned was the shakeup
at KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh), which abruptly axed three of its talk
hosts - mid-morning host Mike Pintek, evening sports host Paul
Alexander and night talker Mike Romigh. KDKA-TV reporter Marty
Griffin replaces Pintek in the 9-noon slot, and former PCNC talk
host John McIntire has been filling in on Romigh's former 9-midnight
slot, though he hasn't been formally announced as Romigh's replacement.
The shakeup also ousted reporter Kyle Anthony from the KDKA newsroom.
It did, however, bring in a new face to Gateway Center: Pittsburgh
native Marshall Adams will arrive later this month as KDKA's
news director, the first time that post has been filled in a
few years. Adams comes back to town from WBT in Charlotte, N.C..
10 Years Ago: January 8, 2001 -
- The spinning radio dial this first week of 2001 must be especially
confusing to Dar Williams. In her 1998 song "Are You Out
There?," the Western Massachusetts singer-songwriter chronicled
her youthful love of New York's WBAI and name-checked several
DJs at her local AAA outlet, WRSI (95.3 Greenfield).
- Down on Wall Street, things just keep getting more tense
at Pacifica's Big Apple outlet. The station's Web site had been
taken over by staffers loyal to recently-ousted PD Bernard White
and producer Sheran Harper. This week, Pacifica national regained
the site, replacing it (for the moment) with not much more than
a link to the national Pacifica home page. The struggle at WBAI,
an echo of the 1999 protests at Pacifica's KPFA in Berkeley,
made national headlines this week, with "Democracy Now!"
host Amy Goodman being quoted as signing off with "From
the embattled studios of WBAI."
- Meanwhile up in the hills of Franklin County, things are
changing for Jimmy Olsen, Johnny Memphis, and the rest of the
gang at WRSI. On February 1, their station will switch dial positions
with another FM outlet recently purchased by Vox Media, WPVQ
(93.9 Turners Falls). The idea behind the move, sources inside
Vox tell NERW, is to put WPVQ's country music on a frequency
that better reaches listeners on the north end of the Pioneer
Valley. From its hilltop site in the town of Leyden, the 95.3
signal penetrates north into Vermont and New Hampshire more effectively
than 93.9 does. WRSI, known for the last few years as "the
River," has a strong constituency in the college towns of
the southern Pioneer Valley -- areas the 93.9 signal reaches
better, especially with the aid of translators W246AM (97.1 Amherst)
and W287AK (105.3 South Hadley). We hear WPVQ will add more live
jocks to the satellite service it's been using outside drive
time, and we're told "the Bear" will be the new nickname
at WPVQ when it makes that move.
- As for Dar Williams...maybe it's time for an ode to Haverhill's
- The WPVQ-WRSI swap isn't the only big news in western MASSACHUSETTS
this week. Down in Springfield, Clear Channel pulled the talk
programming off WNNZ (640 Westfield) New Year's Day, flipping
the station to all-sports as "640 the Zone." So far,
most of the programming is coming from Fox Sports Radio; talk
fans are being directed to Clear Channel sister WHYN (560 Springfield).
- The big news in Boston is Monday's launch of "Business
Radio 1060," WBIX (1060 Natick). We listened to the last
Gene Burns show on 1060 in its WMEX incarnation on Friday; station
owner Alex Langer made a brief appearance at the very end to
explain the changes and say farewell, at least for now, to Burns.
- Meanwhile, some of the talk programming that had been on
WMEX, and its predecessor, WRPT (650 Ashland), is again being
heard at that 650 frequency, now WJLT. The "J-Light"
Christian contemporary programming now runs only until noon on
weekdays, followed by talkers such as G. Gordon Liddy, mostly
simulcast with WSRO (1470 Marlborough).
- Veteran WROR (105.7 Framingham) overnight jock Chuck Igo
is looking for work; he got word just before the New Year that
his shift will henceforth be handled by automation. We're hoping
a talent as versatile as Igo won't be out of work long in Boston!
(2011 update: Chuck's alive and well,
not to mention versatile and talented - and holding down mornings
at WYNZ in Portland, Maine.)
- Just before the end of the year, we heard the first rumblings
of a format change at Worcester's WCRN (830), and now it's official:
the Carberry family has ditched the religious programming there,
replacing it with big-band music as "Swing 830." The
only break in the music comes from 9:05 until 11 AM, when WCRN
continues to run Barry Armstrong's "Money Matters."
WCRN is in the process of cranking its daytime power up to a
full 50 kilowatts, directional straight into Boston. Kurt Carberry
tells NERW the station is training a staff of DJs and adding
liners and IDs. "The most important aspect of WCRN,"
he says, "is that this station is going to be fun"
for him and for his father, veteran broadcaster Ken Carberry.
Sounds like this one should also be a lot of fun for Eastern
- We've been talking about it and talking about it and talking
about it, and now CHWO (740 Toronto) is a reality. The standards
station, nicknamed "Prime Time Radio," signed on at
7:40 AM Monday, with a brief announcement by station owner Michael
Caine and a montage of the music to be heard on 740. Just before
the sign-on, we were listening to CHWO's old frequency, 1250,
to hear Caine talk about his history with the station (he put
it on the air decades ago) and count down to a simulcast with
740. 1250 will become religious CJYE after a few weeks of the
simulcast; we'd love to hear from anyone up Oakville way who
might have a better tape of the 1250 half of the switch!
15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, January 10, 1996
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2011 by Scott Fybush.