PA's Bob O'Brien Dies in Car Crash
Don't wait until NERW
Monday for breaking news - follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates as they happen!
It's an abbreviated NERW this week, and we hope you'll forgive
us - your editor is halfway through a huge sweep across northern
and central Florida to collect images and stories and airchecks
that you'll see on Tower Site of the Week and in the Tower Site
Calendar and on TopHour.com in the months to come. Fortunately,
it was also a fairly quiet week back home...so here are the headlines:
*Some sad news out of central PENNSYLVANIA
begins our abbreviated report this week: Bob O'Brien worked
in radio in the 1970s in New York and New Jersey and then landed
at WFEC (1400 Harrisburg) during the end of that station's long
run with top-40 - but he really made a name for himself in the
years that followed, both as a popular DJ at events and as a
friend to many other Pennsylvania jocks and programmers.
Last Thursday (Feb. 24), O'Brien was driving on I-81 when
another driver crossed the median and slammed into his car, killing
him. O'Brien was just 60.
*In Erie, Bill Shannon is selling translator W285AI (104.9)
to Citadel, which had already announced plans to simulcast its
sports station, WRIE (1260), on the FM signal. Sale price for
the translator is $62.500.
*In NEW YORK's Hudson Valley,
Sunrise Broadcasting's new WGNY-FM (98.9 Rosendale) is officially
on the air now, and as promised on the station's website, it's
picking up the same oldies feed (largely via satellite) that's
been heard on the existing WGNY (1220 Newburgh) and WDLC (1490
Port Jervis), not to mention the HD2 channel of WJGK (103.1 Newburgh),
which makes for quite a mouthful at legal ID time.
Word is that WGNY-FM's own HD2 channel, which will feature
a rhythmic format, isn't yet on the air...but in the meantime,
we can at least offer you a first glimpse at the WGNY-FM antenna
on a ridge north of Poughkeepsie.
Meanwhile at the Cumulus cluster, there appear to be changes
coming at WCZX (97.7 Hyde Park): veteran morning man Bob Miller
and middayer Suzy Garcia are gone and the website of the AC station
has been scrubbed, replaced with an announcement that "The
New Mix is coming" on Thursday. Miller had been with the
station since 1994.
And up in the northern reaches of the valley, community station
WGXC (90.7 Acra) made its on-air debut at 2:00 Saturday afternoon,
serving Greene and Columbia counties and vicinity.
*In New York City, there's a sudden staffing change at CBS
Radio's "Now" (WXRK 92.3) - afternoon jock Tic Tak
announced Friday that it was his last day there. Now jock Lil
Cee takes over that shift.
*It's a little too early for our full-fledged Baseball on
the Radio (even if your editor's attending spring training today
in Fort Myers), but there's some baseball news out of Syracuse:
the AAA Chiefs are moving back to Citadel's WSKO (1260) now that
their former on-air home, Clear Channel's WHEN (620), has dropped
sports for urban as "Power."
Out on Long Island, the independent Long Island Ducks have
signed a deal to put some of their games on JVC's new country
outlet, WJVC (96.1 Center Moriches) later this summer.
(Meanwhile down in NEW JERSEY, the AA Trenton Thunder
shift from WRRC 107.7 to the more powerful WTSR 91.3 at Trenton
State; some games will also be simulcast on WBCB 1490 just across
the Delaware River.)
It didn't take too long for Brian DeMay to find a new job
after losing his PD/on-air gig at Buffalo's WTSS (Star 102.5)
in a recent round of budget cuts; he's now headed to Delaware
as the new PD at Beasley's WJBR (99.5 Wilmington).
And in the Southern Tier, WMTQ (88.1 Elmira) is reportedly
on the air now, extending the reach for the Catholic programming
from the Buffalo-based Holy Family Communications.
CALENDAR 2011 - IT'S HERE!
It's 2011 now - and that 2010 calendar on your
wall won't do you much good, will it?
But lucky for you, we're here to help:
Tower Site Calendar 2011 is now available, featuring
more than a dozen great images of radio and TV broadcast facilities
all over the country (and even beyond - this year's edition takes
us to Mexico!)
Thrill to a night shot of KFI's new tower!
Check out the WAEB Allentown array just after it lost a tower
- or enjoy the history at venerable sites like those of KID in
Idaho Falls, WCAP in Lowell, KTKT in Tucson and Rochester's Pinnacle
But wait - there's more! We now have a
small supply of the new FM Atlas, 21st edition,
as well as a limited supply of Tower Site Calendar 2010
as well - plus signed calendars, back isues and much
more in the fybush.com store!
Orders of 20 or more calendars get a discount.
We'll even add a bow or a gift card upon request.
now at the fybush.com Store!
*It's official now: at MASSACHUSETTS sports
station WEEI (850 Boston), ball player Lou Merloni and weekender
Mike Mutnansky will take over middays starting next Monday (March
7) as "Mut and Merloni," replacing the "Dale and
Holley" show as Dale Arnold is shunted to fill-in duty and
Michael Holley moves over to become Glenn Ordway's co-host on
"The Big Show" in afternoon drive.
Don Imus has added a new Bay State affiliate: he's being heard
on WPKZ (1280 Fitchburg, and its FM translator on 105.3), albeit
with only one hour of live clearance early in the morning and
the rest of the show on delay after WPKZ's own local morning
show. (We heard Imus this morning, via WSRQ here in Sarasota,
Florida, poking fun at WPKZ's unwieldy slogan, "The Heart
of New England's Pulse.")
Out on Martha's Vineyard, unbuilt WMEX (88.1 Edgartown) is
changing hands to extend its construction permit, which was due
to expire in May. The CP goes from Dennis Jackson's Foothills
Public Radio to "Vineyard Public Radio," operated by
Dennis' kids Maggie and Brian, for no financial consideration.
*Another rumored move has become official:
in RHODE ISLAND, WPRO (630 Providence)/WEAN (99.7 Wakefield-Peace
Dale) has named its new morning team. The Citadel station is
pairing Tara Granahan, who'd been executive producer of the morning
show when John DePetro was hosting it, and former WLNE (Channel
6) weekend anchor Andrew Gobeil. The reworked show debuts next
*How committed is CBS to its new joint (and
very, very generic) marketwide websites for its TV and news/talk
radio stations? So much so that it just launched cbshartford.com,
a new portal for all of its CONNECTICUT stations that
meet that description...all one of them, WTIC (1080).
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*Just a couple of bits of news from CANADA:
in Cobourg, Ontario, United Christian Broadcasters has been granted
a license for a new signal. The 250-watt/107' signal on 90.7
will be a sister to CKJJ (102.3 Belleville), which is also heard
on relay transmitters in Bancroft, Kingston and Brockville.
And in the Maritimes, Instant Information Services is applying
to move tourist-information station CIRM (90.1 Moncton) to 96.3,
boosting its power from 22 watts to 500 watts/208' and adding
service to more than 100,000 additional listeners.
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: March 1, 2010 -
- Clear Channel's launch of "Rush Radio 1200" in
Boston is coming faster than expected. As of next Monday, Limbaugh
is gone from longtime affiliate WRKO (680 Boston), replaced by
a local show hosted by political consultant Charley Manning -
and over at rushradio1200.com, there's now a website up, complete
with a "Rush Radio 1200 WXKS" logo and Limbaugh himself
shown as "on air."
- Meanwhile at WBZ, they're mourning Don Kent, the veteran
weatherman who died Monday night at his New Hampshire home. Kent
came to WBZ-TV in 1950, and remained an icon of New England TV
weather for three decades. He was 92.
- That mythical "wheel of formats" was spinning fast
in NEW YORK's capital city last week, at least where Albany Broadcasting's
cluster was concerned. One format change was expected: on Wednesday,
WKLI (100.9 Albany) broke out of the simulcast with WROW (590
Albany), which has inherited WKLI's former "Magic"
standards/soft AC format, becoming "The Bridge" with
an adult hits format. There's no live talent on "The Bridge"
just yet, but Albany Broadcasting says the plan is to add an
airstaff down the road.
- The surprise came on Friday, when sister station WZMR (104.9
Altamont) ditched its "Edge" modern rock format to
go country as "The Cat." This is the second time Albany's
had country on 104.9; from January 2005 until February 2006,
WZMR simulcasted country "Froggy" WFFG from up in the
Glens Falls market before launching "The Edge." It's
not hard to surmise what Albany Broadcasting has in mind here:
the cash cow in their cluster is AC powerhouse WYJB (95.5 Albany),
which routinely battles with Regent's country behemoth WGNA-FM
(107.7 Albany) for the top of the ratings pile.
- Will bumping the older-skewing "Magic" format to
AM pull some of its FM audience over to B95 - and might "The
Cat" on 104.9 then shave just a bit of the country audience
off WGNA? It's possible...but we've seen this strategy attempted
without much success in other markets in the past, too. As for
the talk format that used to be on WROW, one of its personalities
has landed across town: Premiere's Glenn Beck show starts today
on Clear Channel's WGY (810 Schenectady), where it displaces
local talker Al Roney from the 9 AM-noon timeslot.
- The weather was the big story over the weekend in NEW HAMPSHIRE,
especially at Saga's cluster in Manchester, where high winds
literally ripped the roof off the Commercial Street studios of
WZID (95.7), WMLL (96.5) and WFEA (1370) early Friday morning.
With several inches of water in every studio, WZID reportedly
relocated to a conference room down the street at the WMUR-TV
studios, staying on the air helping to provide emergency information
as some 300,000 New Englanders suffered without power or heat.
The power outages knocked some other stations off the air around
the Granite State, too, at least temporarily; thankfully, there's
been no word of any other facility damage so far in New Hampshire.
- In PENNSYLVANIA, there are new calls coming to Bold Gold's
soon-to-launch talker in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market: WLNP
(94.3 Carbondale) is becoming WTRW.
- One of CANADA's most popular morning radio hosts says farewell
today. Andy Barrie's final "Metro Morning" will air
from 5:30 until 8:30 on CBLA (99.1 Toronto), followed by a finale
in front of a live audience in the CBC Broadcast Centre, in which
new "Metro Morning" host Matt Galloway will interview
Barrie as the morning baton is handed over.
Five Years Ago: February 27, 2006
- It's been a turbulent time for sports radio in eastern MASSACHUSETTS
- and it's not getting any quieter any time soon. The last few
months have brought the launch of ESPN Radio on WAMG (890 Dedham)/WLLH
(1400 Lowell and Lawrence); staff changes, new transmitters and
the impending end of the Red Sox contract at WEEI (850 Boston);
the return of Eddie Andelman at WTKK (96.9 Boston) - and now
the third all-sports player, WWZN (1510 Boston), is officially
up for sale, along with the rest of its parent company, The Sporting
News. The company's billionaire owner, Paul Allen, confirmed
last week that he's hired an investment firm to review several
offers that he's received to sell the company, which includes
the flagship magazine as well as Sporting News Radio (formerly
One-on-One Sports) and its three stations, WWZN, WSNR (620 Jersey
City NJ-New York City) and KMPC (1540 Los Angeles). WSNR dropped
most Sporting News Radio programming several years ago and now
runs leased-time ethnic programming, and WWZN let most of its
local staff (including Andelman) go last year. (It also lost
its flagship sports franchise, the Celtics, to WEEI's sister
- Just as The Sporting News is the third-largest major sports
magazine (after Sports Illustrated and ESPN: The Magazine), so
SNR is a distant third (at least in affiliate count and ratings)
behind ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio. Would a new owner keep
the radio network and the stations as a loss-leader brand extension
to the magazine, as Allen has done? Or could the radio stations
be headed to separate ownership and away from sports formats?
As always, stay tuned...
- Sports fans everywhere mourned the loss of Curt Gowdy last
week. As we reported in an update to last week's NERW, Gowdy
died last Monday morning (Feb. 20) in Florida, at age 86.
- Gowdy came to Boston in 1951 after several years calling
games in New York, and for the next fifteen seasons he was a
fixture in the Red Sox booth. And while he went on to even greater
heights as a network broadcaster (calling the first Super Bowl
and five more thereafter, as well as the World Series and almost
every other major sporting event), he remained fondly remembered
by Sox fans. Last August, the Sox honored him with a special
day at Fenway Park, Gowdy's last Boston appearance. And on Saturday,
his funeral procession circled Fenway, in a final gesture of
respect to the man whose low-key style defined Red Sox radio
for decades to follow.
- Gowdy was, of course, also a broadcast owner in the region.
In 1963, he bought WCCM (800) and WCCM-FM (93.7) in Lawrence,
later renaming the FM after himself - WCGY. In 1969, Gowdy added
WBBX (1380) in Portsmouth, NEW HAMPSHIRE to his holdings, which
also included KOWB (1290) and KCGY (95.1) in Laramie, Wyoming.
Gowdy sold WBBX in the eighties, followed in 1994 by WCCM/WCGY
and in 2002 by the Wyoming stations.
- Does a nation still coming to terms with the impending loss
of UPN and The WB really need another new TV network? Whether
or not it does, it's getting one - at least in NEW YORK and nine
other markets where Fox Television Stations needs something to
fill the prime-time slots about to be left empty by the demise
- Fox will replace UPN on WWOR (Channel 9) with something called
"My Network TV," a mini-network that will launch with
two English-language "telenovelas," an attempt to translate
the success of that format in the Spanish TV world, where nightly
hour-long dramas that run for several months at a stretch are
a programming staple.
- "My Network TV" will also be offered to non-Fox
stations in other markets, on terms that may be more favorable
to stations than the initial contracts being offered by the other
new network, The CW. That should make for an interesting horse
race over the next few months in markets such as Buffalo and
Syracuse, where former WB and UPN affiliates are all trying to
figure out who'll land where this fall. In other markets where
CW affiliations have already been announced, "My" will
become an obvious choice for the station left out - Sinclair's
WCWB Pittsburgh, LIN's WCTX New Haven/Hartford, and Tribune's
WPHL Philadelphia. And then there's the Boston market, where
Shooting Star's indie WZMY in Derry, New Hampshire has itself
been branding as "My TV" since last September. It's
reportedly considering legal action against Fox over the name
- though since the corporate rivalry between Fox and CBS will
likely prevent former UPN affiliate WSBK in Boston from becoming
a "My" affiliate, it's not at all out of the question
that the dispute could yet be resolved with the two "My"
contenders hooking up.
- And there's a new station on the air in CANADA's capital
city. Evanov's CJWL (98.5 Ottawa) signed on last Monday (Feb.
20) at 10 AM. It's running a soft AC/standards format as "Jewel
98.5," with a 700-watt signal that doesn't reach much beyond
the city itself. The station's studios are located at 124 York
Street in Ottawa's Byward Market area, just a couple of blocks
away from CHUM's MediaMarketMall and right across from the former
studios of CHEZ (106.1).
10 Years Ago: February 26, 2001 -
- It's gone from AC to smooth jazz to modern AC to rhythmic
oldies -- and now Buffalo's WBUF (92.9) has come full circle
to the rock format they last had more than twenty years ago.
The Infinity-owned station abruptly killed off its "Dancin'
Oldies" format and "B92.9" nickname on Thursday,
slipping into a day of stunting with Queen's "We Will Rock
You" and taunts against Citadel's "97 Rock" (WGRF
96.9) before relaunching Friday (2/23) at noon with Genesis'
"Abacab" (not, as the Buffalo News had it, "Turn
It On Again"!) The new "Rock 92" brings Howard
Stern back to the Buffalo airwaves half a decade after his less-than-successful
stint on WWKB (1520), filling the rest of the day with a mix
of rock tunes that seems, thus far, to lean rather heavily towards
the 80s. (Buffalo listeners have had access to Stern for the
last year and a half through Toronto's CILQ, Q107, for whatever
- Next stop in NEW YORK? Binghamton, where the FCC approved
Clear Channel's purchase of WINR (680) from dentist Paul Titus
this week, over the strenuous objections of commissioner Gloria
Tristani. By adding WINR to its existing cluster (sports WENE
1430 Endicott, rock WKGB 92.5 Susquehanna PA, AC WMXW 103.3 Vestal,
CHR WMRV 105.7 Endicott and country WBBI 107.5 Endwell), Clear
Channel brings the combined Binghamton market share of its stations
and those of rival Citadel to a whopping 91.2 percent, reducing
Binghamton to a duopoly in Tristani's view. By not considering
whether or not the market can support three competitors and whether
there were other potential buyers for WINR, Tristani writes,
"we may never know if the cementing of a duopoly in Binghamton
was inevitable, or simply another case of regulatory malfeasance
by the FCC. While WINR today is far from a major player in the
market (it's been decades since the station's days as an important
top-40 outlet), NERW thinks it will be interesting to see how
Clear Channel rebuilds the station to take on Citadel's dominance
of the AM dial in Binghamton. (Those paying close attention to
Binghamton in the last year or two will recall that it was originally
Citadel that planned to acquire WINR, moving its news-talk WNBF
from 1290 down to the superior 680 signal, then moving standards
WKOP from 1360 to 1290 and leaving Titus with 1360, the weakest
AM in town. Now WNBF faces the likelihood of a competing news-talker
on 680, drawing resources from Clear Channel's Premiere talk
lineup and its upstate network of radio newsrooms. This should
- NEW HAMPSHIRE is next on NERW's agenda, and have we ever
been hearing a lot about that religious pirate on 88.7 somewhere
around Londonderry! It's been on the air just about every night,
we're told, with nary an ID to be heard. The end could be in
sight, though: one NERW reader checked in to report that the
pirate's second harmonic, at 177.4 MHz, was wreaking havoc with
his reception of WHDH-TV, whose channel 7 occupies 174-180 MHz.
WHDH has been alerted to the problem, and that's the sort of
complaint that tends to send the Enforcement Bureau running.
- The big news in MAINE is a new simulcast in the Bangor area.
WNSX (97.7 Winter Harbor) dropped its relay of former sister
station WMDI (107.7 Bar Harbor) this week to join its new Clear
Channel sister station in Searsport with classic rock as "The
Fox at 97.7 and 101.7." The Searsport station gets new calls,
too, changing from WBYA to WFCX.
- A few tidbits from across PENNSYLVANIA: Pittsburgh's own
Clarke Ingram checked in with a format shift at the station he
programs in the Steel City. Don't call "The Beat" (WJJJ
104.7) "Jammin' Oldies" anymore; the new phrase is
"Jammin' Hits," with an added emphasis on more recent
15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, March 3, 1996
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- Veteran WBZ newsman Darrell Gould died of colon cancer on
Friday, March 1. Darrell was 57, and had been ill for quite a
while with various ailments. I worked with Darrell at the end
of his WBZ career, and I've rarely met anyone friendlier or more
fun to work with. Darrell was always ready with an impromptu
song or a bad pun, and he and another 'BZ reporter were famous
around the building for their doo-wop duets. Professionally,
Darrell was BZ's statehouse reporter for much of the '70s and
'80s, and then the evening anchor until his retirement last year.
Before coming to WBZ in 1966, Darrell had worked at WHYN in Springfield,
WICE in Providence, WPOP in Hartford, and WHOU in Houlton, Maine,
to name a few. Funeral services will be held Tuesday morning.
Darrell leaves his wife and three daughters...and a saddened
group of friends and colleagues.
- WCMX(AM) 1000 in Leominster MA is back on the air after being
dark for more than three years. The 1kw daytimer is now owned
by a local church and programming religion. The old WCMX tower
and ground systems, near the intersection of Mass. Route 2 and
I-190, were torn out and replaced by a new tower and ground system
at the same location last summer. I'm not sure where the new
WCMX studios are. The signal is adequate but far from strong
at my Waltham MA listening post, some 25 miles southeast of Leominster.
WCMX is now the third religious outlet in the Leominster-Fitchburg
market, along with WFGL 960 Fitchburg and the "Greenville
NH" 94.3 translator for WGLV Hartford VT. The only other
stations in the market are WEIM 1280 Fitchburg, with a local
AC/news format; WXLO 104.5 Fitchburg, which functions as a Worcester
station (the much larger city of Worcester is about 20 miles
south of Fitchburg); and college station WXPL 91.3, with a very
erratic broadcast schedule.
- Also west of Boston, there's word that currently-dark WBIV
1060 Natick MA has found a new transmitter site. WBIV was ousted
from its old site in Ashland MA when WBPS (then WBMA) took over
the equipment last year. Now the station wants to return as a
50kw daytimer from a site on US20 on the Wayland/Sudbury town
line, near the towns' waste-transfer station. WBIV's new owner
is one Alexander Langer of Florida; I'd be interested to know
if anyone has ever heard of him. (We soon would! - Ed.)
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2011 by Scott Fybush.