In this week’s issue: WCBS moves downtown – New CEO at MPBN – Brian Murphy, RIP – CT AM still silent – Cogeco sells in Quebec City
by SCOTT FYBUSH
For most of radio’s first century, most of the major broadcasters of NEW YORK CITY had something in common: their studios were all tightly clustered within a few dozen blocks of midtown Manhattan, in close proximity to the ad agencies of Madison Avenue and – once upon a time – to the entertainment district around Times Square from which many of the performers of radio’s heyday were drawn.
Over the last decade, though, the rise in midtown rents has been drawing stations south – and as of Friday afternoon, the last major English-language commercial station operating from north of 34nd Street has relocated to lower Manhattan.
That’s WCBS (880), which moved in 2000 from CBS’ “Black Rock” corporate headquarters on W. 52nd Street to the CBS Broadcast Center on W. 57th Street in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
We’ve known for a few years that it was destined to follow its CBS Radio sister stations southward as they migrated from their own midtown studios to a cluster of new studios spread out over two floors of 345 Hudson Street (or, at least in the on-air announcements, “Hudson Square.”) When CBS moved five of its stations – WXRK (92.3 NOW FM), WCBS-FM (101.1), WWFS (Fresh 102.7), WINS (1010) and WFAN (660) – into that building in 2009, it set aside a corner of one floor for a future move of WCBS(AM). That future arrived on Friday afternoon at 2, when WCBS wrapped up its last newscast from the Broadcast Center and began broadcasting from Hudson Square.
For those keeping score at home, the WCBS move now means that in not much more than a decade, nearly all of the city’s major English-language radio stations have moved below Canal Street: CBS, Emmis and Merlin’s WEMP are all lined up along Hudson Street, Clear Channel is in the old AT&T building on Sixth Avenue, WOR is now way downtown near Trinity Church and WNYC, once the only station with downtown studios, is in its new digs on Varick Street. The only uptown holdouts are Cumulus’ WABC/WPLJ and ESPN’s WEPN, at Penn Station; Inner City’s WBLS/WLIB at 34th and Park; Bloomberg’s WBBR at Lexington and 58th – and in Spanish, the SBS stations (WSKQ/WPAT) on 56th Street and Univision (WXNY/WQBU/WADO) in the old CBS building at 485 Madison, near 52nd Street.
On a practical level, aside from a new commuting pattern for the station’s staffers, the WCBS move probably doesn’t mean as much as some might think: despite sharing an address with the CBS Radio News national newsroom and WCBS-TV (Channel 2) for more than a decade, there was little synergy taking place within the Broadcast Center, where the 880 studios and offices were so isolated behind their own locked doors up on the eighth floor that at times, some of the network staffers downstairs didn’t even know the radio station had moved into the building.
Likewise, while the move makes physical neighbors out of two stations that were long bitter rivals until coming under common ownership in the 1990s, it doesn’t necessarily portend more cooperation between WCBS and WINS. The two all-newsers are on separate floors of the building (WINS and WFAN are on one level, while WCBS is upstairs with the three FM stations), and as long as each station remains among the top revenue producers in the market, they’ll continue to be very separate operations.
*Upstate, we know what WBFO (88.7 Buffalo) general manager Mark Vogelzang will be doing next year: he’s been hired by the MAINE Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) to take over as president and CEO, replacing Jim Dowe when he retires at year’s end after five years on the job.
Vogelzang came to WBFO two years ago in an interim capacity, hired by the State University of New York to oversee the station while it was in the process of being sold. That sale, putting WBFO in the hands of former crosstown rival WNED, will close early in 2012. By then, Vogelzang will be working out of MPBN’s Lewiston and Bangor offices, managing the statewide radio and TV networks. The MPBN job will be his first in TV; his career thus far has been spent entirely in public radio, where he was program director of Philadelphia’s WHYY and then spent 16 years at the helm of Vermont Public Radio.
It’s that experience that helped win him the MPBN job: “Mark’s long tenure as the leader of a statewide public media network in northern New England with a roughly equal number of stations, individual donors and corporate supporters, combined with his deep knowledge of non-profit fundraising, makes him the ideal candidate to lead MPBN into the future,” said MPBN board chairman Henry Schmelzer.
(Disclaimer: your editor served as a consultant to VPR during Vogelzang’s tenure, helping to guide the network’s acquisition of the signals that would become the VPR Classical network.)
*Elsewhere, it was a fairly quiet week in the Empire State – though there was at least one station sale: Townsquare Media is paying Digital Radio Broadcasting $245,000 for Albany translator W256BU (99.1). The translator has been relaying WQSH (105.7 Malta), but we expect the simulcast of the main “Crush” signal will be replaced by an HD2 subchannel sooner or later.
On TV, there’s word (thanks to CNYRadio.com) that WSYR-TV (Channel 9) in Syracuse has named a new news director: Rob Cartwright is moving north from KDAF, Tribune’s CW affiliate in Dallas, where he’s been assistant news director for three years.
*In eastern PENNSYLVANIA, they’re mourning Brian Murphy, a veteran weekend jock, production guru and occasional weekday morning fill-in at WBEB (101.1 Philadelphia). Murphy had been battling cancer for many years, and he lost that fight November 29, at age 57.
Around the corner at Clear Channel’s WUSL (98.9), the night team (“The Hot Boyz”) has been filling in on morning drive since “Power 99” abruptly parted ways with morning host Miss Jones last week, the latest time the controversial personality (real name Tarsha Jones) has landed a station in hot water.
Jones’ previous history includes a suspension at New York’s WRKS after being accused of racism for a song parody, as well as a short stint in Philadelphia at WPHI, then on 100.3.
This time, it was an on-air comment about a fight between two groups of teenage girls back in October. A caller to the “Jonesy” show identified the mother of one of the participants (apparently incorrectly) as the owner of a local day care center, and the fallout from that show included a defamation lawsuit against Jones and Clear Channel from the center owner, who says she lost business over the incident.
Across the street (literally!) at ABC O&O WPVI (Channel 6), there’s a new vice president/news director, as Tom Davis moves up from assistant news director. Davis, who’s been assistant ND there since 2004, replaces Carla Carpenter, who’s now senior VP of digital media for all the ABC O&Os.
Not across the street any longer is CBS Radio’s all-sports WIP: seven years after moving from Center City Philadelphia out to the massive cluster of studios and offices in suburban Bala Cynwyd, the station has moved back to Center City, taking the space at 4th and Market formerly occupied by WYSP (94.1, now WIP-FM). And there’s still no confirmation that WIP-FM will be the new flagship for Phillies games next spring; while several reports have suggested that WIP-FM will share the play-by-play with the Phils’ current home, CBS sister station WPHT (1210), the team hasn’t made the news official yet. (There was one official play-by-play announcement last week: the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League have struck a deal to put their 2012 games on WBZC 88.9 in Pemberton, NEW JERSEY.)
One more bit of Philly news: the African-American-focused “Bounce TV” network has arrived in the market on the 44.2 subchannel of New Jersey-based WMCN-TV.
*In State College, Steve Jones is gone from WZWW (95.3 Bellefonte) after just over two decades in morning drive. Jones told the Centre Daily Times that he was given no warning and no severance pay when he was abruptly dismissed from the part-time job on Tuesday, and he says the move was related to 3WZ’s recent format flip back to adult contemporary after a few months as a news/sports talker.
Even without the 3WZ job, Jones has plenty on his plate: he’s also the play-by-play voice of Penn State football.
*There are some new noncommercial signals on the air around the Keystone State: in Bradford, Calvary Chapel of Russell has put WTWT (90.5) on the air after more than a year as a webcast-only religious station; the WTWT transmitter is actually across the state line in the hills above Olean, New York.
In St. Mary’s, Invisible Allies Ministries has put WRVI (91.1) on the air as the latest link in its growing “Rev FM” Christian rock network, based in State College at WRXV (89.1); it joins WRQV (88.1 Ridgway), which signed on about a month ago.
*Ellie Padolf was heard for many years on the air in Pittsburgh, reporting traffic and hosting shows at stations such as WTAE (1250), WHTX (96.1) and WDUQ (90.5), and we’re sorry to pass along news of her death November 22. She’s survived by her husband of 57 years, as well as four children and six grandchildren.
And we send our best wishes to Susan Koeppen, the KDKA-TV (Channel 2) anchor in Pittsburgh who’s been sidelined by heart problems. She tweeted on Tuesday that she’ll soon be having surgery; while she’s out, Kimberly Gill has been her primary substitute on the 6 and 11 PM anchor desk.
*One more bit of New Jersey news: we’re hearing that WTOC (1360 Newton) has completed its transition from Clear Channel’s Aloha spinoff trust to new owner Radio Vision Cristiana and is now carrying RVC’s Spanish-language religious format, originating at WWRV (1330 New York).
*Most of the big MASSACHUSETTS news this week actually comes from outside the state, starting in San Francisco. That’s where Cumulus swung a big budget axe at another former Citadel property on Thursday, firing most of the talk staff at the formerly market-dominant KGO (810) with plans to install an all-news format in their place.
That KGO talk lineup included some legendary names such as Gil Gross and Ray Taliaferro – and Gene Burns, who made a big name for himself as the midday host (“we have successfully transited the meridian”) at Boston’s WRKO (680) from 1985 until 1992 before departing for a short run at New York’s WOR (710) and then 17 years in the evening hours on KGO. Burns made a brief virtual return to the Boston airwaves in 2000, hosting a show for upstart talker WMEX (1060 Natick, now WQOM) from his San Francisco studio; it’s hard to imagine that he’d come back now, or even that there would be a congenial slot for his erudite style on an increasingly coarse talk landscape, but one never knows…
Listeners in the Washington, DC market (or at least the northwest corner of the market) can now hear some Boston talk, courtesy of a hookup between progressive talker Jeff Santos and WCTN (950 Potomac-Cabin John MD), which is now carrying several hours of the Santos show, originating at Boston’s WWZN (1510), complete with Boston traffic reports and commercials.
*Congratulations to a Boston media power couple on their new arrival: WFXT (Channel 25) anchor Sara Underwood and Comcast Sports Network anchor/WBZ-FM (Sports Hub 98.5) talk host Michael Felger are the proud parents of Tessa Rose, born Monday afternoon.
*A call change in VERMONT: WJPK (100.3 Barton) has dropped its original calls, which referenced its Jay Peak location, in favor of WJJZ. The WJJZ calls are most familiar to Philadelphia listeners from their several incarnations in the market on AM 1460 (now WIFI), 106.1 (now WISX) and 97.5 (now WPEN-FM); in the Northeast Kingdom, the call goes on a frequency that’s been simulcasting “Magic” WGMT (97.7 Lyndon).
*A new signal on the air in Maine: WRPB (89.3 Benedicta) is simulcasting contemporary Christian WWWA (95.3 Winslow), serving a fairly remote area along I-95 between Millinocket and Houlton.
*TV people on the move in RHODE ISLAND: Irene Mahoney-Paige lasted just four months as news director at Citadel’s WLNE (Channel 6) after moving east from WTIC-TV in Hartford; the Providence-market ABC affiliate has posted the opening, noting that prior experience as a news director is “required.”
On the radio, WHJY (94.1 Providence) morning team Paul Fuller and Al Milukas will be in place on the “Paul and Al Show” for several more years to come: they’ve signed a contract extension that will keep them at the Clear Channel rocker through 2015, their 25th anniversary.
*There’s a new owner for Bridgeport, CONNECTICUT‘s WSAH (Channel 43), but the outcome of the bankruptcy auction that awarded the infomercial/Retro TV station to NRJ TV LLC is being challenged by previous owner Arthur Liu. TVNewsCheck.com reports Liu is claiming the bidding process, which ended with a $22.8 million bid from NRJ, was not conducted in good faith. NRJ and Liu’s Multicultural Television have a history together: NRJ bought two other former Liu stations, including Boston-market WMFP (Channel 62), in a bankruptcy sale earlier this year.
WSAH is an odd duck: while it’s officially part of the New York City TV market and enjoys market-wide carriage on a handful of platforms (DirecTV and Verizon FiOS), it’s not seen on cable in most of the market outside Connecticut. What will NRJ do with it? In Boston, the company is installing the MeTV network on WMFP, but there’s widespread speculation that NRJ’s real goals have nothing to do with TV broadcasting – instead, the company is believed to be betting that its stations’ UHF frequencies will be worth more to broadband providers than for TV service if the FCC approves incentive auctions to repack digital TV service into a smaller chunk of spectrum.
*Meanwhile, one signal remains off the air more than a month after the October 29 storms that downed power lines and blacked out huge swaths of the Nutmeg State. WFNW (1380 Naugatuck) is still silent, though there’s been no filing with the FCC to that effect.
*In CANADA, Cogeco is making good on its promise to the CRTC to sell several of the stations it bought last year from Corus. CJEC (91.9 Rythme FM) and CFEL (102.1 CKOI) would have put Cogeco above the market ownership cap in Quebec City, and after operating under a trustee they’re now headed to Leclerc Communication. No purchase price has been announced, and Cogeco says it still hasn’t found a buyer for the third station in trust, CJTS (104.5 Sherbrooke).
A few Radio People on the Move in Cornwall, Ontario: John Bolton has been a morning fixture on CJSS (101.9) and its sister stations for almost two decades, but he’ll do his last show Thursday; he’s moving out of town. Also departing the Corus cluster is news director Lorne Wiebe, who’s been with CJSS/CFLG for 13 years. He’s resigning, effective at the end of the year.
A few new callsigns, courtesy of Dan Sys’ Canadian Radio News: mark down CFPP for the new “Moose FM” on 107.9 in Prescott, CFWN for the new community signal on 89.7 in Port Hope and CFRZ for the new First Nations signal on 98.3 at Walpole Island.
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: December 4, 2010 –
Its long term future remains unclear, but NEW JERSEYofficials now say the state-owned NJN TV and radio networks may stay on the air past the end of the year, when Governor Chris Christie had planned to pull state subsidy in a move that would likely have meant the end of 41 years of NJN broadcasts.
Christie tells Newark’s Star-Ledger that he’s working with lawmakers to extend state funding into 2011, buying some time for continued negotiations with other public broadcasters who might take over NJN’s operations.
But while Christie still hopes to save the state the $11 million or so it spends each year on subsidies for NJN, his plan doesn’t appear to include selling the NJN broadcast licenses. Instead, Christie tells the paper he’d like to retain the licenses under new management, possibly that of existing public broadcasters in adjoining areas such as New York’s WNET and WNYC and Philadelphia’s WHYY.
NJN employees could know more about their future later this week after the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority meets in Trenton and after a state Senate committee considers a bill that would create a bi-partisan committee to oversee a new management deal for the network. NJN acting executive director Janice Selinger tells the Star-Ledger that it would take about $2.5 million in additional state funding to keep NJN on the air through the end of its fiscal year June 30, and she says Christie administration officials have indicated to her that they’d be willing to make that money available if there’s a plan in place for NJN’s future.
*The launch of a new airstaff on NEW YORK‘s WWPR (Power 105.1) will begin next Monday with a new morning show on the Clear Channel urban station. As had been rumored, former Philly jock “Charlamagne That God” will host the show, along with current Power afternoon jock DJ Envy and Sirius’ Angela Yee.
*Here in Rochester, it was a busy weekend at the Pinnacle Hill tower farm that’s home to most of the city’s TV and FM signals. NERW was there in the cold and snow early Sunday morning as a crew from Fred Nudd’s construction company (including the nonagenarian Nudd himself) used a 300-foot crane to begin dismantling the top of the tower that’s been home to WXXI-TV (Channel 21) and WUHF (Channel 31) since 1980. After three decades with the distinctive candelabra at the center of the Pinnacle Hill complex, the WXXI tower is “topless,” at least for now; later this week, crews will remove the horizontal crossbar from the top of the tower. And sometime next year, if all goes well, the tower will be topped off by a new antenna for WXXI-TV’s channel 16 signal, now broadcast from a side-mounted antenna.
Across town, Jann Nyffeler is the new morning host on WGMC (90.1 Greece) starting today, moving longtime morning host Joelle Van Buren to middays. Nyffeler has been a volunteer host on “Jazz 90.1,” and she’ll keep her day job doing PR for the George Eastman House.
Five Years Ago: December 6, 2006 –
It’s been rumored for years, anticipated for months, and scheduled for a few weeks now – but you’ll forgive us if we think the move of one of the most venerable FM stations in MASSACHUSETTS is still pretty big news.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for a while now, you know what this is all about: Charles River Broadcasting exiting the Boston market after almost 60 years of owning first WCRB(AM), now WRCA, and then WCRB-FM on 102.5; Greater Media upgrading its country WKLB by purchasing the 102.5 signal; and Nassau entering the market and preserving the WCRB classical format by acquiring WKLB’s former home on the Lowell-licensed 99.5 signal.
The swap took place at noon last Friday (Dec. 1), with Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo” as the last piece played on WCRB at 102.5, while WKLB finished off its run at 99.5 with the “Star-Spangled Banner.” WCRB apparently finished first, with a short interval of dead air on 102.5 while the anthem finished on 99.5 – and as the anthem faded out, the signals were switched, both stations ID’d on their new frequencies, and it was on to the “Hallelujah Chorus” for WCRB on 99.5 and “Life is a Highway” for WKLB on 102.5.
There’s new management in place at WCRB under the new ownership: Nassau’s New England director of sales, Paul Kelley, is now general manager, while Mark Edwards becomes Nassau’s director of programming for New Hampshire and Boston, adding the role of PD at WCRB to his duties.
WCRB’s also doing extensive television advertising to promote the move, using Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Keith Lockhart as a spokesman. (In the ads, Lockhart picks up a Bose Wave radio – is it more than coincidence that Bose print advertising has long displayed “102.5” on every radio shown? – and literally moves it a few notches to the left…)
For WKLB, the move to the more centrally-located 102.5 signal promises a better signal on the South Shore and in many areas west and south of Boston, as well as in parts of the city that aren’t overwhelmed by the powerful FM signals on the Prudential Tower. For WCRB, it’s a mixed blessing – we’ve already heard from listeners on the southern fringe of the 102.5 signal in Rhode Island and northeastern Connecticut who can’t hear the 99.5 signal, but on the other hand, the station’s now audible in much more of New Hampshire than ever before. (And, perhaps most saliently in an era when classical radio is fading fast, it’s still there, period – and Nassau’s already promising a celebration of WCRB’s 60th anniversary in 2008.)
Sadly, one of the people most closely associated with WCRB for much of its run at 102.5 didn’t live quite long enough to see the station move. Richard L. Kaye, longtime station manager and host of WCRB’s eclectic Saturday night program, died Wednesday (Nov. 29). Kaye came to WCRB in its AM-only days, before the 1954 debut of the FM signal, and oversaw many of the technological developments at the station in the ensuing decades, from the early AM/FM stereo broadcasts through to the quadrophonic experiments of the 1970s. Kaye also engineered the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s broadcasts on WCRB, as well as many of their recordings, and he held the second-largest stake in Charles River Broadcasting, behind the family of founder Ted Jones.
*VERMONT Public Radio has signed on its newest signal. WJAN (95.1 Sunderland), formerly one of Pamal’s “Cat Country” outlets, returned to the air last week from Mount Equinox, carrying VPR’s main program service to an area stretching from Brattleboro up through Manchester and Poultney, as well as a big chunk of New York State north of Albany. Cat Country remains on the air in Rutland, at WJEN (94.5); expect new calls on the Sunderland signal soon.
*Speaking of Albany, NEW YORK‘s capital has a new (or at least moved-in) FM station. Many months after its Glens Falls-area predecessor, WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury), went silent back in May, WBZZ (105.7 Malta) signed on last Wednesday from the Bald Mountain transmitter site of WNYT (Channel 13), simulcasting hot AC “Buzz” WABT (104.5 Mechanicville). Expect a new format sometime soon for the 104.5 half of what’s now being called “Buzz Radio.”
Freedom Communications, which owns WRGB (Channel 6) in Schenectady, will take over operation of WCWN (Channel 45) on Tuesday, as it completes its acquisition of the station from Tribune. WCWN’s master control, now at sister station WLVI (Channel 56) in Boston, will move to WRGB’s Balltown Road studio. And the 7-8 AM hour of WRGB’s morning newscast, now seen on My Network TV outlet WNYA (Channel 51), will move to WCWN later in the month. We’ll be not at all surprised to see WRGB launch a 10 PM newscast on WCWN at some point, too. (And what becomes of WNYA, which is owned by Venture Technologies Group and has been operated out of the WRGB facility under a joint sales agreement? We don’t know yet.)
*A northeast PENNSYLVANIA AM station is changing hands, as Kevin Fennessy exits broadcast ownership after six years. His WFBS (1280 Berwick) has been silent for a few months, and now it’s been sold to Bold Gold Media, which also owns WWRR (104.9 Scranton), WICK (1400 Scranton), WYCK (1340 Plains) and four other stations in the region. Ray Rosenblum brokered the deal, under which Bold Gold will pay Fennessy $10,000 and assume the station’s debts.
On Penobscot Mountain overlooking Wilkes-Barre, an F2-level tornado apparently touched down Friday afternoon, knocking out power to the TV and radio broadcasters who use the tower farm up there. WNEP (Channel 16) remained on the air with its analog signal, but WNEP-DT and both the analog and digital signals of WYOU-TV, WBRE, WVIA-TV and WOLF-TV were off the air all night Friday and well into Saturday. (We’re still awaiting word on the status of the FM stations up on the mountain, including big guns WMGS and WGGY.)
*There’s soon to be another silent AM station in CANADA – but this one’s not moving to FM. CHHA (1610 Toronto) was supposed to go silent last Thursday night (Nov. 30), after Industry Canada asked its owner, San Lorenzo Latin American Community Center, to cease transmissions from its present site near Dufferin and Lawrence northwest of downtown Toronto “due to interference problems from their transmissions.” Documents filed with the application suggest that CHHA’s neighbors in the residential area were complaining about interference from the station’s signal, but weren’t willing to let the station’s engineers in to remedy the problems.
CHHA is applying to move to a new site at 275 Unwin Avenue in the Port of Toronto (near the terminal for the ill-fated Fast Ferry to Rochester), from which it will put a stronger signal over downtown but will reach fewer people overall, at least initially, though the station says it will apply for a power increase once it gets the new signal up and running.
(As of late Saturday, DXers in the area were reporting that CHHA had not yet signed off from the old site.)
Ten Years Ago: December 3, 2001 –
NEW HAMPSHIRE’s highest court will hear the case of a broadcaster’s long-running attempt to put a new AM station on the air. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed this week to accept Bob Vinikoor’s appeal of a lower court ruling that upheld the city of Hanover’s decision not to allow Vinikoor to build three towers for WQTH (720 Hanover). The city’s zoning laws limit towers to 45 feet in areas where they’re permitted at all, and city lawyers point to the controversial Cross-Field Antenna (tested in Egypt, but not approved by the FCC or conclusively even demonstrated to work) to show that the rule doesn’t prohibit new AM towers completely. Vinikoor, who owns WNTK (1020 Newport/99.7 New London) and WNBX (1480 Springfield VT), says that’s just what the rule does, and he’s asking the court to rule that the city can’t keep him from building his station.
Up in MAINE, Rob Gardiner announced this week that he’ll leave his post as president of Maine Public Broadcasting sometime next year. Gardiner has led the statewide network since 1988, weathering controversies that included the format shift on Maine Public Radio from classical to news/talk-intensive. In a memo to employees obtained by NERW, Gardiner says his plans after leaving MPBC in a year or so include “a long vacation,…time with my family, and enjoy[ing] some months with few schedule demands or responsibilities that would keep me awake in the middle of the night.”
A change of command in CONNECTICUT: Kirk Varner has been named news director at WTNH (Channel 8) in New Haven. The Nutmeg State news veteran (WFSB and ESPN, among others) has spent the last few years with Time Warner as head of the company’s local all-news operations (which would make him your editor’s ex-boss’s-boss’s-boss’s-boss, if you follow the chain of command up that far!) Varner starts the new gig at WTNH on January 7.
We’ll jump over to NEW JERSEY next, as Nassau and Multicultural Broadcasting flip their holdings along the Delaware River. Here’s how it works: Nassau picks up WVPO (840 Stroudsburg PA) and WSBG (93.5 Stroudsburg PA), which the company used to own before selling them to Multicultural, along with WJHR (1040 Flemington NJ), which Multicultural bought a couple of years ago. Multicultural gets sports WTTM (1680 Princeton NJ) and business-talk WHWH (1350 Princeton NJ), one of Nassau’s original stations. But before any format-change rumors get started: Nassau’s been operating the Multicultural stations under an LMA all along, and will continue to LMA WHWH, so very little will change for listeners.
Fifteen Years Ago: November 29 – December 9, 1996 –
Winning an “A.I.R.” award wasn’t enough to save Boston newsman Dave Faneuf’s job. Just two days after he was named best newscaster, Faneuf was let go from CBS’s oldies station, WODS (103.3). “Oldies 103” management tells the Boston Herald that afternoon news on a music station no longer makes economic sense in Boston. Morning news guy Gordon Hill appears to be safe for now.
The dark AM/FM combo up in Lincoln, Maine has been sold. WTOX (1450) and WHMX (105.7) had been in bankruptcy; they’re being transferred to the Bangor Baptist Church, which owns WHCF (88.5). No word on exactly what WHCF plans with its new outlets, both of which serve territory that’s already well within the reach of WHCF’s 100kw transmitter.
A familiar voice has returned to the Boston airwaves on WROR (105.7 Framingham-Boston). Joe Martelle, the longtime morning host at the original WROR (98.5, now WBMX) began his new afternoon shift at the new ‘ROR last week, after his non-compete agreement with WBMX came to an end. It’s been more than a year since Martelle’s been heard in Boston; he was sidelined by illness, then ousted from his morning spot at WBMX in favor of John Lander.
The holiday spirit is in full swing on the New Hampshire seacoast, as WSTG (102.1 Hampton NH) returns to an all-holiday music format for the second year in a row. “The Stage” used holiday music for all of last December as a transition from its old “Seacoast 102” AC format to the current mix of AC and standards. This year’s run of holiday music started December 1 and will last through Christmas.
Sold!: Clear Channel Communications has closed on its purchase of Radio Equity Partners, creating a new radio-TV combo in the Providence market, as WWBB (101.5 Providence, oldies “B101”) and WWRX (103.7 Westerly, classic rock “WRX”) join CBS affiliate WPRI-TV 12 under the Clear Channel umbrella. The deal also gives Clear Channel WHYN and WHYN-FM in Springfield MA. WHYN is a news-talker on 560, and WHYN-FM is hot AC on 93.1. Congratulations to WHYN PD Gary James and the staff, by the way, for what NERW hears was a phenomenally successful reunion sock hop last month!
Also closed is the deal that transfers news/sports WNEZ (910 New Britain-Hartford CT) from American Radio Systems to Mega Spanish Broadcasters. Look for a format change at WNEZ any day now; we’ll keep you posted.
In this week’s issue… Format shuffle follows Forever's Altoona exit - Public TV job cuts in Mass. - Another AM gone - ATSC 3 launches in Rochester - Tower sells Elmira - Saga Portland making "Whoopie" - PLUS: Baseball On...
In this week’s issue… FCC imposes hefty fine on NYC pirate - Audacy sells transmitter sites - Michael Kay sticks around - FLN, Calvary swap signals - PA AMs find new owner - New format on the border - Remembering...