In this week”s issue: Big NYC connections for CBS Radio”s new DC all-newser – HD/translators take off in Binghamton – More TV news in New England – Ontario TV station surrenders license
by SCOTT FYBUSH
Monday afternoon update: The CRTC has picked winners in the battle for open AM channels in Montreal, and a big player has lost out. Cogeco, which originally hoped to reactivate the silent 690 and 940 frequencies for French- and English-language traffic channels subsidized by the provincial government, didn”t get either; instead, 690 goes to Bell Media, which will move English-language sports CKGM (“TSN Radio”) there from 990. 940 goes to the Tietolman-Tetrault partnership, which will launch a French-language news-talk station there – and 990 won”t go dark, instead going to Evanov for a French-language station aimed at Montreal”s gay community. Much more later this week on NERW…
Our big story as we start this holiday-shortened week comes, for once, from somewhere outside our usual NERW territory – but the developments at CBS Radio”s cluster in Washington, DC have plenty of relevance to NEW YORK and PENNSYLVANIA as well.
In January, CBS will flip one of its Washington-market FM signals, WLZL (99.1), from Spanish hits “El Zol” to all-news, with a heavy helping of influence from its New York City stations. The Acela-corridor connection starts in the program director”s office, already occupied by Robert Sanchez, who came to Washington after working as assistant news director at WCBS (880) in New York, as well as earlier at WINS (1010). Down the hall in the general sales manager”s office, there”s another WINS veteran: Danny Bortnick has been working as local sales manager at CBS Radio”s WXRK/WWFS in New York, and if that last name sounds familiar, there”s a reason: his father is Chuck Bortnick, who”s the regional VP for Cumulus Radio in the Hudson Valley and Connecticut.
But the Big Apple connections don”t end with the staff: there”s also the matter of the new all-newser”s callsign – yes, it will flip to the legendary WNEW calls that were a staple in New York radio from 1934 until 2007, when CBS parked the calls in Florida for future use. (As our colleague Dave Hughes down at DCRTV.com notes, it”s only fair play – the WFAN calls that have become synonymous with sports radio at CBS in New York had an earlier run in Washington on AM, FM and TV. And we”d note that the station that became WTOP in Washington started out in the 1920s as WTRC in…Brooklyn!)
CBS has already started the callsign move, putting the WNEW calls on its 1580 AM talk signal in the Washington market, long known as WPGC and more recently being used to park a heritage DC call, WHFS.
The launch of the new “WNEW” in Washington will put CBS in an unfamiliar position as the all-news underdog against an established competitor, and therein lies more irony: WTOP-FM (103.5), now owned by Hubbard, has been a stalwart CBS Radio affiliate for many decades and is the descendant of a former CBS owned-and-operated station, the old WTOP (1500), which went from CBS to the Washington Post in 1954. It was the Post that launched the all-news format on WTOP in 1968, though it was only under later owners (Outlet and then, most prominently, Bonneville) that the station found its way to the top of the ratings and revenue.
In recent years, WTOP has become the highest-revenue station in the nation (reportedly some $60 million last year), so it”s not hard to see why CBS covets a piece of that ad revenue – but until now it”s been loath to disrupt a solid affiliate relationship with WTOP, and it”s been lacking a full portfolio of available FM signals to use in Washington as well. Even the class B 99.1 signal won”t quite be full-market: it rimshots Washington from the east, missing out on much of the suburban commute from Virginia that”s at the core of WTOP”s listenership.
And here”s where the next NERW-land connection comes in: CBS is bolstering its signal roster in Washington with the $8.5 million purchase of Family Radio”s WFSI (107.9 Annapolis MD), which will become the new home of the “El Zol” Spanish-language format under an LMA starting December 1. WFSI was one of two stations Family put up for sale earlier in 2011 to help cover the costs of the extensive outreach campaign the California-based religious network was running to promote founder Harold Camping”s prediction that the world was going to end in October. The other station being sold is Philadelphia-market WKDN (106.9 Camden NJ), and despite reports that it, too, was headed to CBS Radio ownership, so far there”s been no announcement about WKDN”s future.
(Nor is there any sign that Family has any immediate plans to sell its biggest station in the region, New York-market WFME 94.7 Newark NJ; the future for that station, and the rest of Family”s hundred-plus signals nationwide, likely hinges on the bigger question of the entire network”s future as it moves forward without Camping, who”s now retired after suffering a stroke.)
*Elsewhere in NEW YORK, Equinox Broadcasting keeps growing in Binghamton, thanks to some very innovative use of translators and HD Radio subchannels: they”r now running HD2, HD3 and HD4 channels on WRRQ (106.7 Port Dickinson). 106.7-HD2 is a simulcast of Equinox”s oldies station, WCDW (100.5 Susquehanna PA), 106.7-HD3 launched over the summer as soft AC “Sunny 107.1,” simulcasting on analog translator W296BS from Ingraham Hill – and as of last week, there”s now a 106.7-HD4, AAA “The Drive,” with a simulcast on analog translator W283AG (104.5).
Operations manager Steve Shimes tells NERW he believes it”s the first cluster anywhere to run music-formatted HD/translator combos all the way up to HD4; we know of at least one other group in the region (Jeff Andrulonis” Colonial in Olean) that”s using HD2/3/4 to feed translators, but mostly with talk and sports formats.
*Radio People on the Move: Alex Roman is switching teams in New York City, where he”s joining Emmis Communications (WQHT/WRKS) as Director of Integrated Technologies, starting December 5. Roman has been chief engineer at Cumulus” WABC/WPLJ for the last five years, and before that he was part of the Clear Channel engineering team.
Upstate, Dalton Castle is changing stations; the former pro wrestler has been doing afternoon drive on Rochester alternative rocker WZNE (94.1), but he”s now moved down the Thruway to the afternoon slot at Townsquare”s WQBK (103.9)/WQBJ (103.5) in the Albany market. Castle”s move triggers some changes back at the Zone: production guru “Homeless Mark” Maira moves from nights to afternoons, while Zack Schaefer goes from weekends to nights.
*It”s been a rough month for fans of rooftop AM towers: first came the demolition a few weeks back of the original WBZ towers, vintage 1921, atop the old Westinghouse plant in East Springfield, Massachusetts (a site now targeted to become a casino), and now comes word that WKSN (1340 Jamestown) has applied for a license to cover its move from its longtime rooftop home in downtown Jamestown to a diplex on the tower of co-owned WJTN (1240), west of downtown along Celoron Creek.
WKSN”s move will reduce the station”s power from 500 watts day/1000 watts night to 260 watts day/520 watts night; the lower power is offset by the greater efficiency of WJTN”s taller tower. Once the old WKSN tower atop the station”s former studio building comes down, there will be only one rooftop AM remaining in the state, as far as we”re aware: the little low-power night site of WSIV (1540) in Syracuse.
This week”s additions to the all-Christmas list: New York”s WLTW (106.7) flipped on Friday, continuing its tradition of recent years. Long Island”s WALK-FM (97.5) flipped over the weekend, as did Binghamton”s WMXW (103.3) and Syracuse”s WYYY (94.5), second in that market; Rochester”s WRMM (101.3) follows suit later this week.
And congratulations to our fellow media columnist Peter Naughton, who”s been rather conspicuously absent from his CNYRadio.com for the last week or so for the very best of reasons: he was on his honeymoon!
*Moving along to New England, the big news from NEW HAMPSHIRE is a new TV newscast. Starting in January, Manchester”s WMUR (Channel 9) will add a 10 PM newscast that will run on its MeTV 9.2 subchannel. Tom Griffith and Tiffany Eddy will anchor the show, with Mike Haddad on weather and Jamie Staton on sports.
Why launch the 10 PM show now, especially since WMUR management says it”s been working on an early-late newscast “since 2010”? There”s the little matter of competition – Bill Binnie”s WBIN (Channel 50) launched its own 10 PM newscast in September, and will eventually be moving production of that newscast from Iowa to its own Granite State studios.
But there”s more MeTV news from across the border in MASSACHUSETTS: the Chicago-based classic TV network now has a second affiliate within the sprawling Boston TV market. That”s WMFP (Channel 62), which has been carrying competing classic TV network RTV on both its 62.1 and 62.2 subchannels – but as of December 15, new owner NRJ TV will relegate RTV to 62.2, freeing up 62.1 as the market”s new MeTV primary affiliate. (That will create some interesting situations for New Hampshire viewers: in Manchester, for instance, WMFP appears on Comcast cable channel 20, while WMUR”s 9.2 subchannel is way up the dial on digital channel 298.)
*Radio People on the Move: after a dozen years in the PD chair at WMAS-FM (94.7 Springfield), Rob Anthony exits the Citadel-turned-Cumulus station later this week, moving over to Clear Channel as a regional programming manager overseeing Springfield, Worcester, Manchester and Portsmouth. Those markets were missing from Clear Channel”s big announcement of regional programming oversight last month.
Where are they now? Steve Murphy, an original staffer at WFCC (107.5 Chatham) and more recently PD of the late, lamented WFMR in Milwaukee, is heading for California in the new year to become music director at KDB (93.7 Santa Barbara), one of the last remaining commercial classical stations in the nation. Murphy will continue to voicetrack for the World Classical Network based at WFCC, where he”s still heard in morning drive.
Speaking of Cape Cod, WCIB (101.9) has made the all-Christmas flip.
*There”s big TV news from RHODE ISLAND this week – at least if you”re an early riser. Two Providence TV stations are launching 4:30 AM newscasts: NBC affiliate WJAR (Channel 10) and CBS affiliate WPRI (Channel 12) will both move their morning start times up from 5, effective next Monday.
*We can attach a sale price to the latest CONNECTICUT transaction: Sacred Heart University will pay Cox $500,000 for WNLK (1350 Norwalk) and WSTC (1400 Stamford). And we can clear up some confusion from last week: while “Italian House Party” with John LaBarca aired on WNLK/WSTC last weekend, the show is following LaBarca over to his new home up the dial at WDJZ (1530 Bridgeport).
Some good news about local radio on the shore: Staples High School”s WWPT (90.3 Westport) is coming back from Chicago with a big pile of awards: “Wrecker Radio” won eleven John Drury High School Radio Awards over the weekend, including best high school station in America as well as multiple awards for its sports, drama and news programming. (More details here!)
And we send our best wishes to WTIC (1080 Hartford) talk host Jim Vicevich, who”s recuperating from another bout with lupus. Vicevich was off the air for the last few weeks, but he”s expecting to be back today; he talked about the disease in an appearance on WTIC-TV”s morning news and blogged about it last week.
*In NEW JERSEY, it was an all-radio wedding when Sean Patrick and Heather DeLuca tied the knot a week ago. Patrick is the midday guy at WMGM (103.7) in Atlantic City, where he competes against his new bride, who”s midday jock and music director at WSJO (104.9 Egg Harbor City). They weren”t the only ones celebrating 11/11/11 nuptials in the world of NERW: in Lancaster, PENNSYLVANIA, WLAN-FM (96.9) PD Jeff Hurley wed Kelly Gehman on that auspicious date – live on the station”s webcam!
*Elsewhere in the Keystone State, it appears Cumulus cutbacks at the former Citadel stations have claimed the job of Phil Galasso, who was serving as PD and keeping the radio flame alive at WARM (590 Scranton), which appears to be back to fulltime satellite oldies from the True Oldies Channel now.
In Philadelphia, KYW (1060) has followed the lead of its Westinghouse/CBS sister station WBZ Boston in creating a Hall of Fame, and last week the station inducted three more staffers: veteran account executive Bob Kelly and the late Karin Phillips and Jack O”Rourke. Phillips, who was a community affairs reporter, and sports reporter O”Rourke both died within the last year, and their families were on hand for the induction.
Christmas flips in the mid-Atlantic: Philadelphia”s WBEB (101.1), the Lehigh Valley”s WLEV (100.7), Lancaster”s WROZ (101.3) and Pittsburgh”s WWSW (94.5) and WSHH (99.7) all flipped this week, as did New Jersey”s WMGQ (98.3) and WSUS (102.3).
On TV, Amy Mearkle is moving on Friday from Altoona”s WTAJ (Channel 10) after a dozen years at the CBS affiliate, the last ten of them anchoring the morning and noon newscasts. Mearkle”s moving into marketing, and no replacement has been named yet.
And we note the passing of William Vogt, whose long career in Philadelphia radio and TV sales included stints at the helm of WDAS and WIBF-FM/TV. Vogt moved to Florida in the 1970s but later returned to Pennsylvania; he was 90 when he died last Monday.
*Things are getting funny in CANADA: RadioInsight.com reports Astral”s CKSL (1410) in London, Ontario has registered the domains “1410Funny.com” and “Funny1410.ca” for an upcoming format flip to full-time comedy. Astral has been running programming from the 24/7 Comedy network during overnight hours at CFRB (1010 Toronto).
Christmas radio is on the march up and down the 401: Toronto”s CFTR (680 News) is doing “Christmas news,” with one holiday story each hour – and in Kingston, CFLY (98.3) has gone all-Christmas, something the hot AC station has never done before. Other Christmas flips so far include Ottawa”s CJMJ (100.3) and Hamilton”s CKLH (102.9).
Out east, Wayne Harrett”s CFEP (105.9 Eastern Passage NS) is getting a power increase: the CRTC has approved a boost from 716 to 1680 watts and a slight decrease in antenna height for “Seaside FM,” completing a planned power boost that went along with the 2008 approval of the community station”s move from 94.7 to 105.9.
An only-in-Canada move in Digby, Nova Scotia: Maritime Broadcasting System (MBS) has received CRTC approval for a “new” broadcasting licence on AM 1420 – but it”s not really a new station; instead, what MBS wanted to do was to convert existing station CKDY from a “radiocommunication distribution undertaking” – a rebroadcaster of CKEN (97.7 Kentville) and the “AVR Network” – into a more local service originating its own programming for Digby. CKDY will keep its own existing relay on 103.3 in Weymouth, NS.
There”s late word that one AM signal really has left the air in Nova Scotia: CKDH (900 Amherst) signed on its FM signal at 101.7 three months ago, and now it appears to have pulled the plug on AM. That leaves just five remaining AMs in the province, including the CBC”s CBI (1140 Sydney), which has been granted a move to FM that”s been held up while it tries to replicate its AM coverage of Cape Breton Island.
*On TV, there”s one fewer over-the-air signal serving Toronto, Hamilton, London and Ottawa: Quebecor has surrendered its license for CKXT, the former “Toronto One” that operated on channel 52 in Toronto beginning in 2003.
Original owner Craig Media struggled to find ratings and revenue for the station in the crowded Golden Horseshoe marketplace and eventually sold it to Quebecor, which rebranded it as “Sun TV” and continued to struggle with the station. Earlier this year, the company shut down what was left of “Sun TV” and turned its attention to a new all-news channel, Sun News, which was simulcast on CKXT starting in April. The CRTC questioned the rationale for the simulcast, and Quebecor agreed to surrender the broadcast license, shutting down the over-the-air transmitters at the end of the day on October 31.
Meanwhile, a surviving Toronto DTV station wants a better RF channel: CJMT (“Omni.2”) has asked the CRTC for permission to move from RF channel 51 to 40, where it says it can put out a better signal from the CN Tower.
Check back later this week for a NERW mid-week update…and subscribers can get a coupon code good for Black Friday/Cyber Monday savings on Tower Site Calendar 2012 at the new fybush.com store!
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: November 22, 2010 –
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.Over 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 in place.
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.
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 named yet. (2011 update: Olkowski is now engineering Merlin Media”s all-news WEMP.)
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 country.
LaCamera 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 that’s 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.
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.
Five Years Ago: November 22, 2006 –
First, the bad news about WRKO news: on Thursday afternoon, the seven staffers who made up the Entercom talk station”s newsroom were called into the offices of station management and informed, one by one, that WRKO was moving in a different direction, replacing its local news staff with reports from Metro Networks and increasing the amount of Fox News Radio content being used on the air.
The moment must have felt like deja vu for several of the WRKO staffers: back in 1995, previous owner American Radio Systems dismissed most of the entire news staff, including news director Rod Fritz, and contracted with Metro to provide newscasts. At the time, Metro hired some of the WRKO news talent (including Fritz and Pat Carroll, now at WCBS in New York), and WRKO kept a handful of its own newspeople, including veteran anchor Listo Fisher.
This time, it”s total – Fritz and Fisher are both out of work, as are Paul Tuthill (who joined WRKO from Worcester”s WTAG when WRKO reversed course in 1999 and rebuilt its newsroom), Mary Blake, Sharon Smith, Marga Bessette and Deb Daigle.
Whether or not you believe the official story that Bill Buchner”s exit from WLTW (106.7 New York) was unrelated to the large-scale Clear Channel cutbacks, there”s no disputing that the axe swung in earnest at the company”s New York cluster last week. At WKTU (103.5 Lake Success), imaging guru Harry Legg is out. So are 11-year “KTU veteran Charlie Burger, who was doing overnights, and Lil” Cee, who was doing late nights. Unrelated (apparently) to the cutbacks, night jock Vic Latino exits as well, replaced by Jagger (from WKCI 101.3 in the New Haven market.)
WAXQ (104.3) cut part-timer Pat St. John and full-time night jock Mark Coppola, moving overnight jock Carol Miller to the 8 PM-1 AM shift. Yes, that means that the overnight shifts on two more stations in market number one are now voicetracked.
In Springfield, the cuts all but eviscerated the news department at WHYN (560) last week, sending news director/afternoon anchor Bill Erickson packing after 31 years with the station. Also out is morning news anchor Denise Vozella, who was on her second stint with WHYN. With Erickson and Vozella gone, WHYN is down to a single newsperson, John Baibak – and the people of Springfield and Hampden County are all the poorer for the lack of a full-fledged radio news department in town.
There were newsroom cuts in Albany, too, including veteran WGY newsman Jim Gagliardi, who”d been with the station for 12 years and in the market for nearly 40, as well as WGY weekend talk host/public service director Laurie Reilly, and WGY news anchor Dave Lucas. Also out, apparently, is WPYX (106.5) PD Steve Haner – and as we go to press Sunday night, we note that the web page for WPYX”s “Wakin” Up with the Wolf” show has mysteriously gone missing from the station”s site, too.
At Clear Channel in Syracuse, the cuts include WYYY (94.5) morning man Rick Gary, WBBS (104.7 Fulton) APD/afternoon jock Skip Clark, WHEN (620) afternoon sportscaster Brent Axe and DJ Maestro, who did nights on WWHT (Hot 107.9). Kathy Rowe is now solo in mornings on Y94, while Rich Lauber is now doing afternoons on B104.7.
In MASSACHUSETTS, Charles River Broadcasting officially closed on its sale of WCRB (102.5 Waltham) on Wednesday, handing the keys off to Greater Media, which promptly closed on its deal to swap WCRB”s intellectual property and the signal of WKLB (99.5 Lowell) to Nassau. The move of WCRB”s classical format to 99.5 (and WKLB”s country to 102.5) won”t take place until December 1.
Boston Radio Watch reports that four WCRB staffers won”t make the move: mid-day announcer Don Spencer, creative services director/announcer Rob Schuller, continuity manager/announcer Larry King and listener services director Roberta Siegel.
And following up on an item in last week”s NERW, just hours after the issue went to press, Clear Channel”s WHAM-TV (Channel 13) announced that it was indeed acquiring Rochester”s cable-only CW affiliate (the former “WRWB”) from Time Warner. By Monday night, the rebranded “CW-WHAM” was on the air as a subchannel of WHAM-DT (Channel 59), though it ended up being blacked out briefly on cable as the master control was transferred to WHAM. The new “CW-WHAM” is carrying the first hour of WHAM-TV”s morning news, from 5-6 AM, before the syndicated “Daily Buzz” morning show; WHAM-TV officials promise more local programming to come.
The big news from eastern PENNSYLVANIA was the debut of the reborn WJJZ (97.5 Burlington NJ) Friday evening at 6, following two days during which the former WTHK was simulcasting its new Greater Media sister station, classic rock WMGK (102.9 Philadelphia). The new WJJZ signed on with PD Michael Tozzi playing Grover Washington, Jr.”s “Keep the Dream Alive,” followed by several hours with Tozzi live at the board. He”ll take the 3-7 PM slot beginning this week, followed by Dave Koz”s syndicated show. No morning or evening show has been named yet. Music director Margo Marano will voicetrack overnights.
Ten Years Ago: November 19, 2001 –
After two years of building an 18-station group in the suburban areas north of New York City, Aurora Communications is cashing out. Cumulus Broadcasting announced today (Nov. 19) that it will pay $230 million in cash, stock and debt assumption to add the Aurora stations to its more than 200 outlets nationwide.
Here”s what Cumulus gets for its money:
If we”ve done our math right, that makes for a tidy $79.5 million profit over two years or so, which is pretty good work for Aurora head Frank Osborn. No word yet, of course, on what changes Cumulus might have in store for these stations; until now, the only holdings Cumulus has had in NERW-land were its stations in Bangor, Maine (and the fringe of its Youngstown, Ohio cluster).
The other big news out of NEW YORK this week was the continuing management shakeout at Clear Channel. A reported two dozen staffers in Clear Channel”s New York City cluster lost their jobs this week, including WHTZ (100.3) operations manager Kid Kelly, one of Z100″s most prominent voices. Other shufflings at the cluster include the departures of WTJM (105.1) assistant PD Andy West and sales manager Robin Sloan. Market Manager Andy Rosen adds the GM title at WTJM to his duties, while Scott Elberg shifts to the GM role at WHTZ and WKTU (103.5).
Across town, former WOR Radio Network head Rich Wood has found a new position as senior VP at Talk America, which has just been sold to erstwhile long-distance carrier IDT. Wood will work out of Talk America”s new headquarters at IDT”s base in Newark, N.J.
Over in VERMONT, WBTN (1370 Bennington) is about to get its second owner in as many years. Robert Howe, who bought the station from Vermont Public Radio last year, will donate WBTN to Southern Vermont College in Bennington. WBTN has struggled since longtime owner Belva Keyworth sold it and sister WBTN-FM (94.3) to VPR in 1999. The public broadcaster was under political pressure to sell the AM side to maintain local commercial service to Bennington, but Howe was never able to make a success of the little station, which runs 1000 watts by day and just 87 watts at night. The college says WBTN will stay commercial, with students heavily involved in its operation. WBTN”s two remaining employees will stay with the station under college ownership, we hear.
Fifteen Years Ago: November 19, 1996 –
More than a year after his “MusicAmerica” show was pulled from the airwaves at Boston”s WGBH (89.7), Ron Della Chiesa is reviving the program, which presented the best of America”s popular standards for nearly two decades. In a cooperative arrangement with Kelley Communications, “Music America” will return to the air in January on smooth jazz outlet WPLM (1390/99.1) in Plymouth, MA. Kelley will lease time on Saturday nights for the broadcast, and WGBH has agreed to allow Della Chiesa to appear on another station (he still does weekday air work on “GBH). The disappearance of “MusicAmerica” prompted a storm of protest against WGBH, with several hundred members asking the station to refund their money, and many of them putting in the money into the “Save MusicAmerica Trust.” Reaction from the MusicAmerica partisans has been mixed thus far; they”re not pleased that the show will be heard only once a week, and there”s concern about WPLM”s weak signal north and west of Boston.
Buckley Broadcasting is adding a third Connecticut station to its portfolio, paying $425,000 for WSNG (610) in Torrington. Buckley already owns standards WDRC (1360) and oldies WDRC-FM (102.9) in Hartford, and nobody”s likely to be surprised if the currently dark 610 signal is used to simulcast one of those into northwestern Connecticut.
A silent station in southeastern Massachusetts has been sold. WCEG (1530) in Middleborough has been off the air for several years, and now Metro South Broadcasting (which also owns WMSX  in Brockton) is selling WCEG to Steven J. Callahan.
Speaking of WVAY, thanks to NERW southern Vermont correspondent Doug Bassett for passing along a newspaper article discussing a feud between WVAY and Manchester VT rocker WEQX. The article was a bit fuzzy on the details, but it seems WVAY may have had an unlicensed translator at the Mount Equinox transmitter site of WEQX. This may explain the IDs NERW has heard from time to time on WVAY, referring to “100.7 and 100.1 FM,” although there”s never been a licensed WVAY translator on 100.1.