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April 11, 2011


While NERW's covering all the action at the NAB Show, stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook feeds for breaking-news updates as they happen!

LAS VEGAS - It's another NAB Show...and another Sunday-night NERW deadline, so there's not much we can say yet about the show that kicks into high gear today. We'll have more on NAB throughout the week on our Facebook and Twitter feeds and next week in NERW...and you can tune in to Wednesday around noon (EDT) to catch your editor live from the convention floor with the gang from "This Week in Radio Tech."

Meanwhile, here's what's been making news back home:

*The latest front in the "FM news-talk" offensive is in western NEW YORK, where Entercom's struggling "Lake" (WLKK 107.7 Wethersfield Township) finally sank beneath the waves (or at least over to the obscurity of an HD2 subchannel) at midnight last Tuesday, replaced by a simulcast of the market's leading talker, WBEN (930 Buffalo).

As with many of the recent additions of FM signals to AM news-talkers, the issue in Buffalo wasn't signal: WBEN has arguably the best AM coverage of any signal in town, with a centrally-located tower site on Grand Island and full-market penetration day and night. But there's a sense out there (and we're hearing a lot about it here in the hallways at NAB) that even the best AM signal is no longer a guarantee that younger audiences will find the programming being offered there, which is why we've seen a significant number of AM news-talk and sports stations adding FM signals, including recent flips in Syracuse (WSYR-FM 106.9) and Albany (WGY-FM 103.1).

Buffalo's move is interesting for a few reasons, though: especially because WLKK's 107.7 signal is challenging to receive in many parts of the core Buffalo market, especially in Niagara County, where Canada's CJXY (107.9 Hamilton) wreaks adjacent-channel havoc. In fact, much of WLKK's coverage spreads eastward to the Rochester market, where WBEN-on-WLKK carries some of the same hosts as Clear Channel's WHAM (1180), and in the case of Rush Limbaugh, it's a live carriage on 107.7 and 930 against a two-hour delay on WHAM. But Entercom's not after Rochester audiences; instead, it's widely speculated that the intent of the WLKK flip is to shave just enough audience from country competitor WYRK (106.5) to keep WBEN firmly in first place, 12+.

(And that WLKK call appears to be staying on 107.7: a few years back, Entercom allowed Greater Media to take the "WBEN-FM" callsign down to Philadelphia, where it continues to reside on 95.7.)

*A second local newscast is returning to Utica, where Smith's WKTV (Channel 2) has had the market all to itself since the shutdown of local newscasts at WUTR (Channel 20) eight years ago.

Under new owner Nexstar, news is coming back later this spring at WUTR and its sister stations, which announced the move at a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Fox affiliate WFXV (Channel 33).

When the new newscasts launch this fall, they'll air at 6 and 11 PM on WUTR, 7 PM on MyNetwork outlet WPNY and 10 PM on WFXV.

In Buffalo, LIN's WNLO (CW23) is revamping the 8 AM hour of its morning newscast, replacing its more straitlaced morning show (still seen from 5-7 AM on sister station WIVB-TV and from 7-8 on WNLO) with a new lifestyle show called "Winging It! Buffalo Style," hosted by Joe Arena and Victoria Hong.

A bit of radio history is about to disappear in Syracuse, where the city landmarks commission has signed off on the demolition of the buildings at 431-439 South Warren Street that were the Art Deco home of WFBL (1390) in that station's heyday. Long vacant and in poor condition, the century-old buildings, which received a new facade in the 1940s when WFBL moved in, will be replaced by (sigh...) a parking lot.

*Radio People on the Move: Aaron Read is moving on from Geneva's WEOS (89.7) and WHWS-LP (105.7), where he'd been general manager. Read moved from Boston to the Finger Lakes to take the WEOS job a few years back, and he says he's now looking for work in Boston again once he departs WEOS and WHWS in June.

In Albany, there's a new program director/news director at Clear Channel's WGY (810/103.1), where Paul Ihander comes east from sister stations KCSJ/KDZA in Pueblo, Colorado. Ihander replaces Chuck Custer in those management roles, with Custer focusing on his morning-show duties.

And back to Buffalo and WBEN, we remember Tom Whalen, who came to the station in 1947 as an engineer and quickly established himself as the right-hand man to longtime morning legend Clint Buehlman, a role he filled until Buehlman's retirement in 1977. Whalen was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2003. He died March 30, at the age of 88.


Maybe you need an extra copy for the wall of your shop. Maybe you gave your first copy away as a gift. Maybe the year just got away from you and you forgot to order your Tower Site Calendar 2011.

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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 Hill.

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*When Gary LaPierre announced his departure from one of the top radio news jobs in MASSACHUSETTS five years ago, WBZ (1030 Boston) probably didn't expect that it would need to fill the job twice in just half a decade. But after the departure of LaPierre's replacement, Ed Walsh, the CBS Radio all-newser is hoping for a longer run for its next morning news anchor. Joe Mathieu hasn't yet turned 40, and while most of his recent work has been in Washington, DC, where he's been doing news for XM/Sirius and programming its POTUS talk channel, his roots are in New England, where he started his career in eastern CONNECTICUT before working on Cape Cod (WXTK/WCOD) and at Boston's WRKO. A 1996 graduate of Emerson College, Mathieu starts his new job early next month.

Over at Greater Media's WTKK (96.9), there's still no permanent replacement in place for Jay Severin, whose long association with the FM talker came to an abrupt end when he made some ill-advised on-air comments about having had intimate relations with young employees and interns at a company he once owned. Michael Bower is the temporary afternoon host at WTKK, but the rumor mill is in full swing, pondering whether WRKO or Clear Channel's WXKS (1200) might find Severin's hefty salary (rumored to be in the $1 million range) worth it for the audience he'd bring along. And in the opposite direction, there's plenty of speculation about WRKO's Howie Carr finally making good on his long-delayed plans to jump ship to WTKK...speculation Carr himself encouraged with comments to the Boston Herald's Jessica Heslam.

Out on Cape Cod, Dennis Jackson's as-yet-unbuilt WMEX (88.1 Edgartown) wants a different frequency and more power. It's appying to modify its construction permit to specify operation on 88.7, where it would run 1 kW/302' DA, a considerable increase over the 150 watts it would have run on 88.1.

*Speaking of Connecticut, WYBC (94.3/1340 New Haven) manager Wayne Schmidt is moving on after two decades at the helm of the Yale University stations. Schmidt tells NERW his last big project at WYBC was the recently-completed time-brokerage agreement to put programming from Fairfield County-based WSHU public radio on the AM 1340 signal, which in turn provides funding to help Yale students continue to build their online-only "WYBC-X" service. Schmidt has been battling cancer, and we wish him the best in that fight.

And a TV newsman is moving up I-91 from Hartford to Springfield: Dave Ward relocates from the assignment desk at Meredith's WFSB (Channel 3) to become the new news director at CBS sister station WSHM ("CBS3") in Springfield, replacing the recently-departed Doug Lezette.

Back in Hartford, Al Kim is the new local morning host at Blount's recently-launched WSDK (1550 Bloomfield). Kim's familiar to Hartford audiences from his part-time work at WRCH (Lite 100.5); he's on the air at WSDK from 6-8 on weekday mornings.

*NEW HAMPSHIRE picked up two more all-sports stations in as many weeks: in Keene, Saga flipped WZBK (1220) from progressive talk (simulcasting WKVT 1490 Brattleboro, Vermont) to "ESPN 1220" on March 31. Later this month, veteran sportscaster Bob Lund will bring his "Press Box" talk show back to the air on the new WZBK. Meanwhile on the Seacoast, Clear Channel has dumped the WGIR (610 Manchester) talk simulcast on WGIN (930 Rochester), which also flips to ESPN.

*Radio People on the Move in RHODE ISLAND: Steve Conti's been associated with WHJY (94.1) and the Clear Channel cluster for many years, doing everything from on-air work (as "Troll," his longtime nickname) to serving as assistant chief engineer. Now he's leaving Clear Channel, taking what he describes as a "less exciting IT/electronics gig" outside of radio, though he'll continue to do some engineering work for public broadcaster WRNI.

On the TV side, WLNE (Channel 6) will have new leadership as it heads for new Citadel Communications ownership: Steve Doerr, who'd served as WLNE's general manager under its previous ownership, is departing the ABC affiliate. No replacement has been named yet.


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*It's flirted with oblivion many times, but a little AM station in eastern PENNSYLVANIA is once again back on the air under new ownership. WVZN (1580 Columbia) is now in the hands of New York-based Radio Vision Cristiana, which is now using the York-market daytimer as a simulcast of its Spanish-language religious network based at WWRV (1330 New York). RVC is paying former WVZN owner Esfuerzo de Union Cristiana $150,000 for the signal.

The newest AM signal in the Keystone State is testing. Bud Williamson's WMJQ (1450 Milford) was on the air late last week, we hear, with a formal launch set for later this spring.

*NEW JERSEY's newest TV station is one step closer to air: Western Pacific Broadcast LLC (an arm of tower owner Richland) has filed applications for construction permits for the two new TV signals it won at auction: channel 4 in Atlantic City and channel 5 in Seaford, Delaware. The "Atlantic City" station would run 10 kW (the FCC maximum for low-band VHF digital) from Univision's WUVP (Channel 65) tower in Waterford Works, closer to Philadelphia than Atlantic City, while the "Seaford" station would run 10 kW from a tower in Wye Mills on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

There's a new PD at "Thunder Country" on the shore, as Marty Mitchell moves over from WJVC (96.1 Center Moriches) on Long Island. Mitchell was assistant PD, music director and afternoon jock on Long Island; at WKMK (106.3 Eatontown), he'll be an off-air PD, allowing Captain Jack to focus on his afternoon shift and music-director duties.

*With the launch of CANADA's newest all-sports station just a few days away, the lineup is falling into place at Toronto's new "TSN Radio" (CHUM 1050): Bryan Hayes departs Corus' CFMJ (AM 640 Toronto) to join TSN Radio for the 10 AM-noon shift, following already-announced morning host Mike Richards. Hayes will be followed by an hour of hockey talk with Steve Kouleas. Later, James Cymbulski, TSN's Maple Leafs beat reporter on TV, will host "Cymbulski and Company" from 4-7 PM with a rotating cast of co-hosts including Michael Landsberg and National Post sports columnist Bruce Arthur, who comes over from Rogers' CJCL (FAN 590). TSN Radio also adds Scott MacArthur, who comes down the 401 from Ottawa's CFGO (Team 1200), where he was hosting post-game shows for the Senators.

ESPN Radio will fill the evening and overnight hours on TSN Radio, leaving FAN to do its own overnight shows.

Over at the FAN, "Prime Time Sports" moves back to its former 4-7 PM slot from 3-6 PM, giving Andrew Krystal's 1 PM show an extra hour. Gord Stellick's "Blue and White Tonight" Leafs show is gone from the FAN schedule, with Stellick heading to Sirius Canada's "Score" channel.

*There's a sad end to a sad story in Ottawa, where teenager Jayhaed Saade made big headlines a little over a year ago when he defied Canadian officials with his continued operation of a high-powered pirate FM station from a hotel his father owned. Now 15, Saade was put on trial last week on several charges, including illegally operating a radio station and threatening Industry Canada employees as well as several local commercial radio staffers. Among those threatened was John Mielke, operator of the Milkman UnLimited radio website, who says the experience was "incredibly difficult and emotional" for him and his family - and who says he hopes "these events will lead to this individual receiving some necessary help and guidance." Saade was acquitted on several other charges, including obstructing justice and assaulting a peace officer. He'll be sentenced in June.

From the NERW Archives

Yup, we've been doing this a long time now, and so we're digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five, ten and - where available - fifteen years ago this week, or thereabouts.

Note that the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as "New England Radio Watch," and didn't go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997.

One Year Ago: April 12, 2010 -

  • It was just a few months ago when VERMONT's long-running "Corm and the Coach" morning show returned to the airwaves in a burst of publicity, but as of Thursday the duo of Steve Cormier and Tom "Coach" Brennan is once again off the air. Money's at the root of the problem; in a Facebook posting, Cormier complained that he hadn't been paid by his new station, Convergence Media Group's WNMR (107.1 Dannemora NY), since last November. For now, WNMR is still on the air with syndicated talk, but without its star personalities, can the station still find traction in a competitive (and probably over-radioed) market?
  • An FCC fine against a CONNECTICUT religious station is provoking lots of controversy among those who spend a lot of time reading the Commission's tea leaves. At issue is whether or not stations are required to keep their licensees' articles of incorporation as part of their public files. WIHS (104.9 Middletown) didn't have its articles of incorporation in its file when someone came to ask for it, nor did it make it available later on, and it now faces a $1250 fine as a result.
  • In upstate NEW YORK, several public broadcasters are cooperating to get a new signal on the air in Ithaca before its construction permit expires. WITH (90.1 Ithaca) was granted to Hobart and William Smith Colleges almost three years ago, and now it's poised to sign on within a few weeks as part of a partnership between Hobart and William Smith station WEOS (89.7 Geneva) and Rochester public broadcaster WXXI. Under the deal, WXXI is building the WITH facility at the tower site north of Ithaca owned by Binghamton public broadcaster WSKG, which already uses that tower to transmit WSQG (90.9 Ithaca), relaying the news/classical hybrid format of WSKG-FM in Binghamton. When WITH hits the air in May, it promises "fresh offerings to meet the needs of the Ithaca community," though specific details haven't been announced yet. Meanwhile, WXXI will work with WEOS to provide expanded public-affairs programming, including coverage of HWS campus events. WEOS' existing staff will stay in place, and will continue to manage the school's low-power station, WHWS-LP (105.7 Geneva) as well. It's not yet clear what becomes of WEOS' existing Ithaca translator, W201CD (88.1), which is owned by Ithaca Community Broadcasting, which has its own unbuilt CPs in nearby Odessa and Watkins Glen.

Five Years Ago: April 10, 2006 -

  • A lot has changed in MASSACHUSETTS radio since 1964. By our count, there are just two stations on the Boston AM dial still using the same calls and frequency they used back then. One is WILD (1090), and the other, of course, is WBZ (1030). It was way back in 1964 that a young reporter from Shelburne Falls named Gary LaPierre joined the station's news staff. Just two years later, LaPierre became WBZ's morning news anchor, and for forty years, that's where he's been, through changes of ownership (Westinghouse to CBS to Infinity and back to CBS) and format (top 40 to AC/news-talk to all news).
  • Last week, LaPierre announced that he'll retire at the end of 2006, closing out the 42-year run at WBZ that began with his very first assignment, covering the Beatles' arrival for their first Boston concert. (Back then, LaPierre recalled, he looked so young that station management wouldn't allow his picture to be distributed.) The station hasn't announced who'll replace LaPierre in 2007; his presumptive successor for many years, anchor/reporter Jay McQuaide, left the station last year to join Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
  • (And on a personal note, if I may: your editor had the great good fortune to work alongside Gary for several years as his newswriter. Much of what I know about writing for broadcast came directly from Gary, and I'll long be in his debt for the education I received during those years.)
  • Just south of Boston, WBET (1460 Brockton) is changing hands. Joe Gallagher's Aritaur group (doing business, in this case, as KJI Broadcasting) bought WBET and WCAV-FM from their original owner, the Brockton Enterprise, in 1997, then sold WCAV (now WILD-FM) to Radio One two years later.
  • RHODE ISLAND's NBC owned-and-operated station is changing hands, as Media General pays GE $600 million for four of its stations, including WJAR (Channel 10) in Providence, along with stations in Raleigh-Durham, Birmingham and Columbus. WJAR will be Media General's first TV property in the region, joining its existing group of small- and medium-market stations clustered in the southeast and midwest. (NBC says it's shedding the stations to focus its resources on expanding the reach of its Telemundo division.)
  • A veteran CONNECTICUT broadcaster is retiring. Dick Ferguson came to prominence heading Park City Communications, then joined Katz Broadcasting as its president when it acquired Park City in 1981. In 1986, Ferguson led the management buyout of the Katz stations that created the NewCity group, with prominent holdings that included WPLR and WEZN in Connecticut and WSYR/WYYY in Syracuse. And when Cox Radio bought NewCity in 1997, Ferguson remained with the company, becoming executive vice president there in 2003. Ferguson's retirement will take effect at the end of May.

10 Years Ago: April 11, 2001 -

  • The Boston Celtics are near the end of another lackluster season, but as the team watches another year run down amidst memories of the glory days of Auerbach and Bird, it's able to offer fans at least one guaranteed change for next year. When the 2001-2002 preseason starts in October, the Celts will be heard on a new radio home. Instead of WEEI (850), the team will migrate up the dial to Sporting News Radio's WWZN (1510) for the next five seasons, in a deal announced late last week. The deal will give WWZN an opportunity to promote itself to an audience that hasn't been paying much attention to the upstart sports signal, whether in its earlier incarnation as One-on-One's WNRB or its more recent makeover under Sporting News.
  • Next stop, VERMONT, where the big flip at Clear Channel's Burlington cluster happened this morning (April 9). As we reported here last week, the smooth jazz that had been on WXPS (96.7 Willsboro NY) has moved for good to the WLCQ (92.1 Port Henry NY) facility, something of a rimshot from the southern end of Lake Champlain. 96.7 is now doing talk as "the Zone" (and we hear the WXZO calls are on the way), simulcasting with WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY). The 96.7/960 format kicks off with Don Imus in the morning, and the rumor around Burlington is that Clear Channel will eventually move Premiere's Dr. Laura and Rush Limbaugh from their current homes at WVMT and WKDR over to the new talk simulcast.
  • Meanwhile, across town on Soldiers Field Road, the once-friendly relationship between WBZ (1030) and sister station WBZ-TV (Channel 4) turned sour last week when radio talk host David Brudnoy invited WCVB (Channel 5) anchor-icon Natalie Jacobson to be a guest on his 25th anniversary show. The Herald's Monica Collins reported Saturday that the guest stint, which put Channel 4 anchor Joe Shortsleeve in the odd position of having to do a radio cut-in promoting his 11 PM show right in the midst of his competitor's appearance, prompted a memo from 'BZ-TV general manager Ed Goldman that put the brakes on the long cooperation between the radio and TV sides at 1170 Soldiers Field Road. Collins says the memo bans (there's that word again!) WBZ radio personalities from appearing on Channel 4, stops radio news crews from using the TV side's gear, and halts the shared promotions between the two stations.
  • From PENNSYLVANIA comes word that WCHE (1520 West Chester) will soon be able to add a second tower. The station was granted a power boost to 1000 watts day, 500 watts critical hours (with a directional antenna) from its current non-DA 250 watts daytime.

15 Years Ago: New England Radio Watch, April 10, 1996

  • One of Boston's top-rated talk hosts is going network, at least in a limited way. WRKO's Howie Carr will soon be heard in Providence on talker WPRO (630). WPRO is picking up the 3-6pm portion of the show, leaving the 6-7pm hour Boston-only for now. It's not yet clear what happens to WPRO's local talker Bruce Newbury, who's currently occupying afternoon drive on 630.
  • Mega-opoly has arrived on the shores of Cape Cod, just in time for tourist season. Car dealer Ernie Boch is buying adult contemporary WCOD 106.1 (a Hyannis-licensed full B) and simulcast modern-rockers WUNZ 101.1 Falmouth and WUNX 93.5 Harwich (both class A's, which together cover the Cape.) Boch already owns talker WXTK 94.9 (a West Yarmouth-licensed full B), as well as sports WUOK 1240 West Yarmouth. It's not yet known how much Boch paid to acquire the stations from J.J. Taylor, or what changes he might make. WCOD is one of three ACs on the Cape, in competition with WQRC in Barnstable and WCIB in Falmouth, while WUNX/WUNZ have the modern-rock market to themselves. What is clear is that Boston's major dailies did their usual sloppy job reporting this one. The gossip column in one of them identified WCOD as the modern rocker, while the other paper put WCOD on "101.6 FM" and moved WUOK to the FM band as well. (That same major metropolitan daily also gave WOAZ Lowell-Boston an unexpected frequency change from 99.5 to 99.9 last week...)
  • NERW reader Barry O'Brien in Washington reports he attended the Broadcasters' Foundation's "Golden Mike Awards" at the Plaza Hotel in New York City this week. The guest of honor was veteran New England broadcaster Norman Knight (of WTAG/WSRS Worcester and WGIR Manchester NH fame). Speakers included Red Auerbach, Curt Gowdy, and Pat Buchanan. Barry says of all the black-tie affairs he's ever been to, this was the nicest. Thanks for the tip, and a hearty congratulations to Mr. Knight, whose stations have always been class operations in New England.
  • WKSS 95.7 Hartford, known to its fans as CHR "Kiss 95-7," is being sold to Multi-Market Radio for $18 million. Kiss will become part of a Connecticut Valley group that includes modern rock WMRQ 104.1 Waterbury-Hartford, rock WHCN 105.9 Hartford, news-talk WPOP 1410 Hartford, classic rock WPLR 99.1 New Haven, urban AC WYBC 94.3 New Haven (operated under an LMA), country WPKX 97.9 Enfield CT-Springfield MA, modern-rock WHMP-FM 99.3 Northampton MA, and talker WHMP 1400 Northampton MA.

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