In this week’s issue… PD out at NYC top-40 – Remembering Caroline Corley – Syracuse TV in transition – AM towers coming down in New York – “Mr. Goober” dies in Connecticut Cyber Monday specials at our store


*One of the tasks we never enjoy here at NERW is writing obituaries for talented broadcast folks, and that’s doubly true when those broadcasters die young.

wxpk-corleyThat’s just what happened last Monday in the suburbs of NEW YORK, where Caroline Corley wrapped up her morning shift at Pamal’s “Peak” WXPK (107.1 Briarcliff Manor), went home, suffered shortness of breath and was pronounced dead after being taken to a nearby hospital.

Corley was just 52, and her death touched off a week of on-air mourning at the Peak, as well as plenty of off-air mourning among her many friends and colleagues from WXPK and her previous radio stops. Those included being fired from  “every (yes, EVERY) rock station in Denver,” according to her WXPK bio, and then Long Island’s WLIR and New York City’s WCBS-FM and WYNY. Before working at WXPK, Corley worked in Westchester at RCS, where former colleague Russ DiBello remembered her for NERW:

I worked for a time at RCS in White Plains with Caroline; by which I mean, about 16 inches away from her. We sat next to each other, being the Experts at identifying the crap that flies through the air, on any given day. Some years later, this would be called “Media Monitors”. Yeah. We did that!

Working alongside Caroline, it sometimes felt like the teacher was gonna enter the room at any moment and smack us both with a ruler. We couldn’t stop snarking at the world, together and having fun.

Part of what we had in common was a pair of long, tedious Radio careers, in which we’d met Literally Everybody… six or seven times. I loved it when she’d drop into her pseudo-sultry voice (she definitely had the requisite pipes!) and do an impromptu bit. She was a total hoot, but she was also a tree with a lot of rings to her trunk, when it came to our biz. Ooh! I had a kindred soul to make me giggle!

One day last week, I felt an inexplicable sadness, and had no idea why. Now I do.

Caroline was my buddy. There was always a payoff laff, at the end of every paragraph. She was walking Talent. And she loved to rock. How much better can one human get?

And, who’s going to make me giggle, now? I am just coming out of my shock, but I’ll be sad for a very long time. Peace to you and all involved, my friend. Bye, Caroline.

(NERW always welcomes memories of recently-departed broadcast colleagues; please feel free to share yours with us and with our readers…)


*Rick Gillette came to CBS Radio’s WNOW-FM (92.3 New York) two years ago with a big task in front of him, trying to push the upstart top-40 outlet ahead of Clear Channel’s long-established Z100. That big task will now be in the hands of a new programmer after Gillette and “NOW” parted ways last week, putting CBS top-40 VP Michael Martin in charge of the station for the moment. No word yet on the next stop for Gillette, who was last with CBS in Phoenix before arriving in New York.

*This is the last week Salem Broadcasting’s WMCA (570 New York) and WNYM (970 Hackensack) will be broadcasting from Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. The pair of AMs are moving across the Hudson next week, into the former WOR (710) space at 111 Broadway in lower Manhattan, now that WOR has finished its own relocation to Clear Channel’s space on Sixth Avenue just below Canal Street.

*It takes a heavy-duty scorecard to keep tabs on what’s happening with TV ownership in Syracuse. Sinclair Broadcast Group has closed on its sale of Fox affiliate WSYT (Channel 68) to an arm’s-length shell company called Bristlecone Broadcasting, which has already entered into a shared services agreement under which Sinclair will handle most of the operations of WSYT and sister My Network affiliate WNYS (Channel 43).

sbg-wstm-wjacJust a couple of doors down James Street, Sinclair has also closed on its purchase of Barrington Broadcasting, which owns NBC affiliate WSTM (Channel 3) and CW affiliate WSTQ-LP (Channel 14) and operates CBS affiliate WTVH (Channel 5) under a shared-services deal with Granite Broadcasting. But Sinclair’s control of nearly the entire Syracuse TV dial (save for Nexstar-owned ABC affiliate WSYR-TV 9) may not last too much longer. Sinclair announced last week that it doesn’t plan to renew the deal with WTVH when it expires in 2017.

As Peter Naughton reports over at CNYTVNews, that’s a decision that brings with it some interesting potential consequences, since WTVH has been operating from WSTM’s building at 1030 James Street ever since the SSA began in 2009, Would Granite move WTVH out of 1030 James and back into a facility of its own (perhaps even the long-vacant former WTVH building at 980 James Street, which never found a buyer)? Or might Granite look to partner instead with Nexstar and WSYR-TV? Or could this all be a negotiating ploy to get a better deal out of Granite if the SSA is renewed?

(Barrington’s deal to operate WTVH for Granite came with a quid-pro-quo: in Peoria, Illinois, Granite operates Barrington’s ABC affiliate WHOI out of its own NBC/CW pair, WEEK-TV/WAOE. WHOI is also now in the hands of Sinclair, which also owned the market’s Fox affiliate, WYZZ, which in turn is operated under an SSA with Nexstar’s CBS affiliate, WMBD-TV. Sinclair sold WYZZ to another shell company as part of the Barrington deal, and it says it will take WHOI out of the SSA with WEEK when it expires, too, presumably creating a new Sinclair-run WHOI/WYZZ combination in Peoria. And did we mention that WHOI had the WTVH calls once upon a time?)

Over at Sinclair’s TV competition in Syracuse, a lot of faces are changing at Nexstar’s WSYR-TV. Friday was the last day on the air for morning star Tanja Babich, who’s making a big jump to Chicago’s WLS-TV (Channel 7). Chris Brandolino will leave the morning weather desk at the end of the year, too, headed back to New Zealand. Replacing Babich today will be Staci-Lyn Honda, back from maternity leave, and Jim Teske will take the morning weather chair in January.  Teske will be joined in the weather department next year by a very familiar Channel 9 name, as former chief meteorologist Dave Eichorn returns to the station after a few years away.

One more Syracuse note: Pathway Community Radio’s new translator, W230CD (93.9 Elmwood), wants to relocate before it goes on the air. The 250-watt signal, planned to relay Radio Disney outlet WOLF (1490 Syracuse), presently holds a construction permit to operate from a site in Brighton, near the I-481/I-81 interchange on the south side of Syracuse, but it’s applying to relocate to the WOLF tower on W. Kirkpatrick Street near downtown Syracuse, where it would move down the dial to 94.1, still with 250 watts.

In Binghamton, Granite’s CBS outlet, WBNG (Channel 12) has gone HD with its local newscasts, a year or so after Fox competitor WICZ (Channel 40). There’s a challenge underway to Nexstar’s planned purchase (by way of shell operator Mission Broadcasting) of WICZ, which would combine it with Nexstar’s ABC affiliate WIVT (Channel 34) and low-power NBC WBGH-LP (Channel 20/34.2). Time Warner Cable and the American Cable Association are asking the FCC to deny the $15.25 million sale, saying it would give Nexstar “de facto control” of three of the Big Four network affiliations in town, and thus too much leverage in retransmission-consent negotiations.

*In Utica, the week’s big news came from Townsquare’s “Big Frog 104,” WFRG (104.3 Utica), which abruptly cut ties to its longest-running jock. Morning man Matt Herkimer has been with WFRG since the station’s very first day as a country outlet, back when it was on the weaker 96.1 signal in Rome in the late 1980s – and now he’s gone without even a farewell show. Frog PD Bill McAdams (“Tad Pole”) joins “Polly Wogg” in mornings, creating a husband-and-wife wakeup team there and a vacancy in afternoon drive that’s yet to be filled.

wtlb-largeDown the road in New Hartford, Galaxy Broadcasting wants to get out of the directional AM business. WTLB (1310 Utica) has been at its present site on Kellogg Road since 1952, powering up over the years from 1000 watts day/250 watts night to its present 5000 watts day from two towers and 500 watts night from four towers.

So why is the AM signal that once owned rock and roll in the Mohawk Valley applying to cut back its power to 2600 watts by day and just 38 watts at night? Because it’s 2013 in the world of AM radio, and whatever benefit there once was from maintaining a complex directional array with deep, deep nulls on a big piece of land pretty much evaporated the day Galaxy put a high-powered FM translator on the air for WTLB.

With 250 watts from Ingraham Hill, W256AJ (99.1 Utica) has effectively become the primary signal in town for Galaxy’s “ESPN Radio Utica-Rome,” whose logo puts “99.1” in big type with only a tiny little “1310” next to it (and no mention at all of additional relays WRNY 1350 Rome and WIXT 1230 Little Falls!). And with that FM signal reaching areas that never heard WTLB at night, it makes plenty of economic sense for Galaxy to drop three of WTLB’s aging AM towers and go non-directional with the 1310 signal from one remaining tower closest to the studio building.

Across the rest of Utica’s AM dial, or what’s left of it, only Townsquare news-talker WIBX (950) remains a vibrant AM-only operation; beset by vandalism and engineering challenges, it’s not clear whether Leatherstocking Media will get long-silent WRUN (1150) back on the air before its license expires, while up the dial Good Guys Broadcasting depends on an FM translator at 95.5 for most of the audience reach of its AM daytimer, WUSP (1550).

(You can see WTLB’s four-tower site in this Tower Site of the Week profile from 2008.)

*In Rochester, Entercom is finally ready to buy an FM translator from Bath-based Family Life Ministries. Back in July, we reported that W239BF (95.7) would switch from relaying Family Life’s WCIY (88.9 Canandaigua) to relaying the HD-2 of Entercom’s WBEE-FM (92.5) , but it took until late October for Entercom to finally file with the FCC to acquire the translator’s license. Entercom signed the contract with Family Life back in June, contingent upon the FCC’s grant of a big power increase. It’s paying a whopping $150,000 for the signal, which is going to a full 250 watts from the WBEE tower east of Rochester in Penfield.

What’s the HD-2 that 95.7 will be repeating all over the east side of Monroe County? All indications continue to be that it will be a simulcast of the ESPN sports now heard on Entercom’s WROC (950 Rochester), the 1000-watter whose own AM signal is so weak that W239BF can’t translate it directly. (The translator’s 60 dBu contour will exceed 950’s 2 mV/m contour in many points on the east side of town.)

And if you’ve been paying attention to what’s been happening down the road in Utica, it’s natural to wonder what the future of the AM signal will be once “Sportsradio 95.7” is up and running. There’s a luxury housing/retail development currently under construction along the Erie Canal just behind the big piece of land that’s now home to the four AM towers that were once top-40 monster WBBF. Can the AM site survive all that development pressure, which has already claimed another of the big AM arrays that once punctuated the landscape in your editor’s hometown of Brighton? Stay tuned…

*It’s been eight months since longtime WXXI (1370 Rochester) talk host Bob Smith suffered a stroke that took him off his “1370 Connection” show, and now the public station has picked a permanent replacement, looking across town to WHAM-TV (Channel 13) reporter/anchor Evan Dawson, who’ll start at WXXI in January. WXXI reporter/producer LeShea Agnew, who’d been filling in as talk host in recent months (as did your editor) has departed the station.

Before 1370 was WXXI, and after its many decades under founder Gordon P. Brown as WSAY, the Rochester signal spent a couple of years in the early 1980s as WRTK under the ownership of Lew Dickey. The Ohio broadcaster had made a name for himself running WOHO (1470) and later WWWM (105.5) in Toledo, and he also owned WWVA in Wheeling, W.V. and a piece of WLIO-TV in Lima, Ohio. In Rochester, he flipped the former WSAY first to talk as an early affiliate of ABC’s Talknet, then to satellite-delivered country before selling the station to WXXI in 1984 for $850,000.

Dickey died over the Thanksgiving weekend, at age 86, and he’s being remembered now as “Lew Dickey, Senior,” because it’s his sons, Lew, Jr. and John, who made it much bigger in the industry, at the helm of Cumulus.

wpie-1071*In Ithaca, Taughannock Media’s sports WPIE (1160 Trumansburg) has moved its translator down the dial. The former W297BI has moved from 107.3 to 107.1, pulling it out of co-channel interference from WODX (107.3 South Bristol) up on Bristol Mountain.

One more downstate note: Bud Williamson’s Digital Radio Broadcasting is buying translator W291CQ (106.1 Monroe) from Mary Katonah for $500.

*In MASSACHUSETTS, it’s a big move home for Mike Vinci, better known as “Mikey V” during a radio career that’s included the South Coast’s WFHN (107.1 Fairhaven) and Ithaca’s WFIZ (95.5 Odessa) before stops in Indianapolis (WNOU) and most recently in Detroit at WDZH (Amp 98.7). Now Mikey V’s taking over the night slot at Clear Channel’s WXKS-FM (107.9 Medford) last occupied by Jackson Blue. The Framingham native isn’t the only member of the “V” family in a big radio market – his brother Frankie does mornings at KHTS in San Diego and tracks for Clear Channel top-40 outlets around the country.


*Where are they now? Jeff Katz is headed south again. The talk host whose Boston career has included time at WRKO (680), WXKS (1200) and most recently at the streaming Boston Herald Radio has also worked below the Mason-Dixon Line at Charlotte’s WBT, and now he’s once again headed down I-95 for a new full-time talk gig. This time, Katz is taking over afternoons at Clear Channel’s WRVA (1140) in Richmond, Virginia, adding that 50,000-watter to a resume that also includes stops at WPHT in Philadelphia, KNEW in San Francisco and KXNT in Las Vegas.

We’re already starting to see the FCC dismissing defective LPFM applications, just days after the filing window closed. Gone from consideration so far: Global Ministries’ Christian Church on 102.9 in Dorchester MA and Planet Arts on 93.9 in Athens NY (where they’d filed for multiple frequencies, when they were allowed to file only once).

*All over southern CONNECTICUT, kids in the 1960s grew up with “Mr. Goober” on WNHC-TV (Channel 8) out of New Haven, where Mike Warren was the announcer who played the afternoon kiddie host. Warren, who died Friday, also hosted “Connecticut Bandstand” when he came to the station in 1961, and he went on to host “Dialing for Dollars”  and later “AM Connecticut” in the 1970s at channel 8 (now WTNH). Warren (whose real name was Warren Getzinger) was 80 years old.

wwod-oldies*A format update from VERMONT: the Upper Valley signal on 104.3 that used to be WWOD (“Oldies 104.3”) is back on the air as WMVY, running movie themes as “Theater 104.3.”

Bill and Gail Goddard’s Electromagnetic Company acquired the 104.3 license (but not the calls or format, which moved to Jeff Shapiro’s Vertical Capital Partners and the former WMXR on 93.9) as part of the breakup of the former Nassau group in the region. Electromagnetic is still trying to complete the signal’s move to Keeseville, N.Y., where it would serve Hartford. In the meantime, though, this past weekend would have marked a year of silence for 104.3 if it hadn’t gone back on the air. It’s not clear how long “Theater” will stay on the air this time around. (If any NERW readers are within range of the signal, we’d sure like to hear some audio and add an ID to our collection while it’s on…)

*Translator giant Edgewater Broadcasting now holds a CP for a new signal in MAINE: at least for now, W288CF (105.5 Lewiston) will be an FM relay of WEZR (1240).

*In State College, PENNSYLVANIA, Forever Broadcasting’s WRSC (1390) quietly flipped formats in mid-November. After running business talk for four years since sending its longtime news-talk format up the dial to WRSC-FM (103.1), the AM side is now “1390 the Fanatic,” carrying CBS Sports Radio programming to a town where the sports landscape generally begins and ends with the Nittany Lions (and maybe occasionally the Steelers.)

Valcom’s fiberglass-whip antennas have served as a useful way for small AM stations to get signals on the air in places where a traditional tower can’t get past local zoning or is simply too expensive to erect. But those short antennas aren’t a perfect solution for everyone, and now one small Pennsylvania AM wants to replace its Valcom with a more standard tower.

WEEO (1480 Shippensburg) was one of the first stations in the country to experiment with the Valcom whip back in 1998, but it tells the FCC that the antenna was struck by lightning and can’t be repaired. Instead of replacing it with another whip, WEEO is applying to put up a 150-foot steel tower that will hold a folded unipole antenna. With the increased efficiency of the new tower, WEEO would drop from its present 460 watts day/10 watts night to 410 watts day/9 watts night.

It’s been a long time coming, but Cumulus’ WWIZ (103.9) has finally completed the first phase of its move closer to the Youngstown, Ohio market. “Rock 104” first applied back in 2007 to change its city of license from Mercer to West Middlesex, but that change was hung up in ownership-cap issues and in the long transition from Citadel to Cumulus. Once Cumulus had taken over Citadel’s Youngstown-based cluster, it reapplied for a new construction permit for the move, which was granted in August, and as of last week WWIZ has applied for the license to cover that will officially change WWIZ’s ID.At least for now, WWIZ isn’t moving from its site on Mercer-West Middlesex Road (PA 318), but once WWIZ is no longer constrained by the requirement to put a city-grade signal over Mercer, it will likely apply pretty quickly to move its transmitter across the state line into Ohio.

Radio people on the move in Gettysburg: at WGTY (107.7), Jeff Diggs is gone from nights, music director Dan Douglas moves from afternoons to the night slot and former WGTY part-timer Holly McCall returns from WFRE (99.9) down the road in Frederick, Maryland to take over from Douglas in afternoons.

*Family Life Ministries now holds two new CPs for a new translators in Pennsylvania: in South Williamsport. W244DB (96.7) will relay FLN’s WCOG (100.7 Galeton), while in Erie, W275BX (102.9) will relay WCGF (89.9 Cambridge Springs). FLN was also granted a new translator in Dunkirk, NY, where W263CN (100.5) will relay WCOM (89.3 Silver Creek).

*There’s a new translator CP in NEW JERSEY,too: in Cape May County, Maranatha Ministries/Joy Broadcasting has been granted W258CF (99.5 Rio Grande), relaying WJPH (89.9 Woodbine).

Up the shore just a bit, Rick Brancadora has put his new AM-on-FM translator on the air near Atlantic City. W267BP (101.3 Palermo) is licensed to engineering consultant Ted Schober, and the 250-watt signal carries the talk programming (and in afternoons, “En Vivo” Spanish hits) from WIBG (1020 Ocean City) even after the AM signal powers down at sunset.

*In CANADA, the CRTC has signed off on a power boost for two Cogeco FM signals in Montreal, the first of several Mount Royal FM signals in line for power increases to 100 kW. French talker CHMP (98.5) and English rhythmic AC “Beat” CKBE (92.5) were limited to 40 kW not by any spacing issues but rather by RF safety issues at the Mount Royal community site, which sits within a public park overlooking downtown Montreal. With the elimination of analog TV from the site, and its replacement by lower-powered DTV signals, there’s now room for CHMP and other FMs to crank up to class maximum without any risk to parkgoers. (The Montreal power chanpion on FM isn’t on Mount Royal. It’s CKOI 96.9, blasting a grandfathered 307 kW from the roof of a downtown office tower.)

chrf-smElsewhere on the Montreal dial, the CRTC says it will issue a ruling this week on whether Evanov Broadcasting’s planned French-language gay and lesbian-focused “Radio Fierte”, CHRF, can operate on 980 kHz instead of 990 kHz. If the move is granted, as seems likely, it would allow CHRF to use a less-directional signal that would better reach areas such as the West Island of Montreal. It would also reverse the move that CHRF’s predecessor on 990, CKGM, made back in the early 1990s when it moved from 980. (Back then, it had to protect Radio-Canada’s CBV in Quebec City on 980, but that station has long since moved to FM.)

And while it’s much more of a national story than a regional one, we certainly can’t wrap up our Canadian coverage without mentioning the mammoth NHL rights deal that will send Canada’s national hockey TV rights to Rogers (in English) and TVA (in French). How big is hockey on TV in Canada? The 12-year deal is valued at C$5.2 billion, and it pulls the NHL away from the existing lead rights holder, Bell Media’s TSN (in English) and RDS (in French).

What of “Hockey Night in Canada” on CBC? That long tradition will continue through at least 2018, in an odd arrangement where Rogers will produce the games and collect all the revenue from them, benefiting from the wider reach of CBC’s local stations. (Some NHL games will also find their way to Rogers’ CityTV stations, too.)

In his excellent wrapup of the deal, Montreal media guru Steve Faguy also notes that Montreal Canadiens French radio rights have just been renewed in a new deal that will keep the Habs on Cogeco’s CHMP (98.5) and its satellite stations around the province through 2018.


2014calendarHappy Cyber Monday! And since we like our customers so much, we’re celebrating that for two days…so happy Cyber Tuesday! There are three more nights of Chanukah, 19 days until Winter Solstice, 23 days until Christmas, 24 days until Kwanzaa and 30 days until the new year. That’s five occasions to give your favorite radio/TV fan the 2014 Tower Site Calendar (seven if you count each night of Chanukah).

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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 3, 2012

*Off the coast of MASSACHUSETTS, commercial island radio has had a tough time thriving over the last few decades. On Nantucket, John Garabedian’s WGTF (93.5) gave way to WRZE (96.3), with higher power that eventually allowed the station to target the bigger listener base on Cape Cod proper. Eventually, 96.3 moved off the island entirely, and is now the Cape’s WEEI sports affiliate, WEII (96.3 Dennis). On Martha’s Vineyard, the original island station, WVOI (95.9), lasted only a few years in the 1970s, going dark and eventually being replaced in 1981 by a new Vineyard FM signal, WMVY (92.7 Tisbury).In just over three decades on the air, WMVY pioneered the “adult album alternative” format and streaming radio, becoming a listener favorite not only on the Cape and the islands but also drawing a following worldwide as one of the first commercial stations to webcast. And come the new year, the webcast may end up outliving the FM signal that gave birth to it, now that station owner Aritaur Broadcasting is selling the 92.7 facility to Boston public broadcaster WBUR-FM (90.9) for $715,000.

For the last few years, “MVY” has quietly become two operations, and only one of them will end when Aritaur sells the license and 92.7 becomes a full-time relay of WBUR. While Aritaur has struggled to keep the commercial terrestrial signal on 92.7 viable – it says it’s been losing money for several years – a separate nonprofit, “Friends of MVYRadio,” has been operating the station’s website and providing streams not only of WMVY’s commercial air signal but also of a noncommercial mix of AAA programming.

With the sale of the 92.7 facility, it’s now up to “Friends of MVYRadio” to find a way to keep their operation going. The group has launched an ambitious fundraising effort, hoping to raise $600,000 by the end of January (“60 Days to $600k”) to purchase the WMVY studios and fund the costs of operating MVY Radio as a nonprofit, non-commercial online operation, using equipment and intellectual property being donated by Aritaur.

If the MVYRadio group can get over that big initial hurdle (it’s already over $126,000 as of Sunday afternoon), it’s hoping for a possible return to the terrestrial airwaves in the future as a noncommercial operation. Could that potentially include a partnership with the new class A noncomm that’s been testing on the Vineyard, WMEX (88.7 Edgartown), or with the island’s existing LPFM, WVVY-LP (93.7)?

As for WBUR’s new 92.7 simulcast next year, it will augment the existing full-time WBUR relay to the mid-Cape area on WBUR (1240 West Yarmouth), as well as part-time relays on WCCT (90.3 Harwich) and WSDH (91.5 Sandwich).

*In central Massachusetts, religious WYCM (90.1 Charlton) is changing hands and changing identities. This 100-watt signal started out years ago as WBPV, the broadcast voice of Bay Path Vocational High School. The school sold the station in 2003 to Christian Mix Radio (formerly known as Heirwaves, Inc.), the group that had been programming contemporary Christian on WNEB (1230 Worcester), and for the last decade WYCM has experimented with a variety of identities for its own contemporary Christian, most recently as “90.1 MAX FM.”

In late October, 90.1 filed for new calls, WYQQ, and now the station has been transferred to a new group, Epic Light Network, based in Southwick. Epic Light, in turn, appears to be very closely tied to WLCQ-LP (99.7 Feeding Hills), and it’s launching a similar Christian hit radio format with a similar identity, “Q 90.1.” (Legally, of course, the two stations can’t be co-owned; even though they’re both 100-watters, WYQQ is licensed as a full-power station and WLCQ as a low-power FM, and LPFM owners can’t share any ownership interests with full-power stations. If this makes no sense to you, you’re in the very best of company.)

Heirwaves/Christian Mix paid $200,000 for the license back in 2003 (and just paid off the loan in 2009); Epic Light is paying just $500 for the station, with a clause providing for payments to Christian Mix of up to $250,000 if the station is resold in the next three years.

*In western NEW YORK, it was the end of two eras over the weekend, and both involved public broadcaster WNED.

At the very end of November, WNED (970 Buffalo) signed off for the last time, ending 36 years of noncommercial operation on the frequency. When WNED, then a TV-only public broadcaster, bought WEBR (970) and WREZ (94.5) from Queen City Radio in 1976, it marked the first time a public broadcaster had purchased a functioning commercial AM station. But the trend that WNED started didn’t last; as listening patterns shifted from AM to FM, public broadcasters quickly stopped seeking news-talk listenership on the AM dial. WNED’s acquisition last year of news-talk competitor WBFO (88.7) spelled the end for AM 970, which was put up for sale.

Crawford Broadcasting paid $875,000 for the AM 970 license and the five-tower transmitter site in Hamburg. After some technical work at the site, 970 will return to the air as a commercial religious station, under new calls WDCZ, simulcasting WDCX-FM (99.5 Buffalo). Crawford hopes the AM signal will give WDCX better penetration to the north into Toronto, where some former WNED 970 listeners are already complaining about losing easy access to NPR programming over the air.

When WNED bought WBFO, it inherited that station’s popular weekend blues shows – but the new WNED-run WBFO moved the blues out of their longtime afternoon slot on Saturdays and Sundays, shifting the shows to Saturday and Sunday nights. Now one of the established blues hosts from WBFO has retired. Jim Santella did his last show on the station Saturday night, ending (at least for the moment) a long (45 years!) and distinguished career on the Buffalo FM dial that included stops at most of the city’s important free-form FM outlets. That included the early WYSL-FM (103.3), where Santella walked off the air in the early 1970s to protest a tightening of the format, as well as WGRQ (96.9), WRXT (98.5), 103.3′s later incarnation as WPHD, and WUWU (107.7), before returning to his college stomping grounds at WBFO in 1997. Santella will still be heard on WBFO on Friday mornings doing his “Theatre Talk” segment. (And one more bit of irony: Santella’s very first Buffalo radio appearances, as a teenage guest DJ, came in the 1950s on the old WEBR, which eventually became WNED 970.)

Santella’s replacement in the Saturday blues slot on WBFO is another veteran Buffalo talent, the versatile Pat Feldballe.

*Michael Savage has a new radio home in New York City. As of tonight, his new Cumulus-syndicated show will be heard from 9-11 PM weeknights on Cumulus-owned WABC (770), returning him to the market after a few years during which his former TRN-syndicated show aired on WOR (710). Savage’s move to WABC displaces two hours of the John Batchelor show, and it’s not yet clear whether Batchelor will still be heard at 11 or whether there are bigger changes coming to WABC’s late-night lineup. And what of its morning slot, where Don Imus marks the five-year mark (and the end of his current contract) this week? Word has it that Imus will announce today that he’s extended his time with Cumulus and ABC by a year.

*Three weeks ago, we told you that Ron Frizzell’s Mount Washington Radio & Gramophone was putting a new signal on the air in Conway, NEW HAMPSHIRE – but it turns out there’s a little more to the story of the new AM 1340 there. The new signal, with calls WPQR, applied to diplex with Frizzell’s existing WBNC (1050) on its tower site just east of Conway, but now that the full-time 620-watt facility is on the air at 1340, Frizzell has moved the WBNC calls and format there and taken the class D 1050 signal (1000 watts by day, 62 watts at night) silent in order to use some of its components in the 1340 transmission system. WBNC’s “Visitor Radio” format is also heard on a translator (W237BX at 95.3) from the top of the AM tower. Will the 1050 facility (which now has the WPQR calls) ever return to the air? We wouldn’t bet on it.

Five Years Ago: December 1, 2008

*The schedule changes at NEW YORK‘s WABC (770) have once again ousted Big Apple talk icon Bob Grant from a regular spot on the schedule. Grant returned to WABC last year in the 8-10 PM weekday slot, but never found the same listener loyalty there that he’d had in many years of afternoon drive on WABC and later on WOR. Now the launch of fellow WABC host Curtis Sliwa into national syndication means bigger schedule shuffles up at Two Penn Plaza, as the tape-delayed Laura Ingraham show, displaced from the 10 PM-1 AM slot by the new Sliwa show, slides down to 8-10 PM.What happens to Sliwa’s local slot, from 10-11:45 AM? For now, Sliwa continues to work that shift as well, but there’s lots of buzz about MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough moving into that position – and if that happens, can national syndication for Joe be far behind?

As for Grant, who’s nearing his 80th birthday, he’ll still be heard on fill-in shifts on WABC for now.

*Another Plattsburgh AM station is losing its star talker, as Rush Limbaugh moves his Burlington-market affiliation across Lake Champlain from WEAV (960 Plattsburgh) to WVMT (620 Burlington, VERMONT). WEAV was the last remaining piece of the old “Zone” talk-radio simulcast with WXZO (96.7 Williston NY) that was broken up when new owners flipped the FM side to oldies.

The Burlington/Plattsburgh market also moved closer to having another full-power TV signal last week, as Jeffrey Loper’s Twin Valleys Television buys WCWF (Channel 40) in Saranac Lake from Channel 61 Associates, LLC. That group is owned by Floyd Cox, Donald McElhone and WWBI TV Inc. (which owns WWBI-LP, channel 27 in Plattsburgh) – and there’s an agreement in place among those partners that any sale over $1,000,000 requires the approval of only two of the three partners. From the paperwork submitted with the sale, it appears that McElhone and Cox signed off on the sale – for a non-coincidental $1,000,001 – without the approval of WWBI.

(WCWF, incidentally, is presently off the air after having operated, apparently briefly, in analog on channel 40; it tells the FCC it’s building out a conversion to digital on the same channel.)

*Bill Drake spent most of his career out west, but the wizard of streamlined top-40 radio had a huge influence on the sound of the MASSACHUSETTS airwaves, where his corporate consulting work for RKO General made the early WRKO-FM (98.5 Boston) a mid-sixties cult favorite before the company pulled the trigger in 1967 and put Drake’s top-40 format on WRKO (680), creating one of the Hub’s legendary radio stations.

Drake, who died Saturday in California at 71, was criticized almost as often as he was imitated – his creation, a format that emphasized tight segues and shotgun jingles over lengthy DJ patter, was viewed at the time (and is still seen by some) as removing personality from the airwaves. In some of its extreme forms – at WRKO-FM, and for a time at its New York sister station WOR-FM (98.7) – the Drake format was combined with total automation to create radio that anticipated today’s increasingly jockless dial.

But in other venues, including WRKO in its heyday, Drake’s tight formatics allowed talented “Boss Jocks” to shine in a fast-paced environment of hit music, killer jingles, and must-listen specials such as Drake’s masterpiece, “The History of Rock & Roll,” setting a standard for music radio that remains unmatched forty years later.

And even if the northeast was never as fertile a territory for Drake as were the midwest (CKLW) and the west (KHJ, KFRC, and the list goes on), there’s still no question that Drake’s influence lives on here, as close as the nearest oldies station, where the Drake sound lived on (thanks, in part, to his Drake-Chenault music automation systems) long after its inventor had retreated to California, where he all but disappeared from public view in the decades before his death.

Ten Years Ago: December 1, 2003

It looks as though WSNJ-FM (107.7 Bridgeton NJ) has a buyer. AllAccess reports this morning that Radio One will pay $35 million for the station, building out its CP to move to 107.9 as a class A facility licensed to Pennsauken NJ and operating from the WKDN/WTMR tower in Camden, just across the Delaware River from Center City Philadelphia. NERW expects this move to really heat up the battle for Philadelphia’s urban listeners – Radio One already has its WPHI (103.9 Jenkintown) in the hunt against Clear Channel’s top-rated WUSL (98.9 Philadelphia) and urban AC WDAS-FM (105.3), and it looks as though Beasley is in the race to stay with the urban CHR at “Wild” 96.5, which just changed calls Monday from WPTP to WLDW.

For more than 80 years, CKAC (730 Montreal) has been the undisputed radio behemoth of French CANADA, dominating the news-talk audience not only in Montreal itself but in much of the rest of Quebec, thanks to the network that carries much of its programming to the rest of the province. Now CKAC is about to get a serious competitor, with an airstaff that includes CKAC’s own veteran morning man, Paul Arcand. CKOO (98.5 Longueuil) dropped its French rock format over the weekend and began playing nonstop Christmas tunes – and when it returns to regular programming in January, it’ll be with French news and talk. The move represents a big gamble for Corus, the broadcaster that’s put together a large station group in Montreal (CKOO, French CHR CKOI, French all-news CINF, English AC CFQR, English all-news CINW and rimshotters CIME and CFZZ) but hasn’t made much of a French ratings dent beyond the huge numbers CKOI consistently runs up year after year.
CKOO is making some big moves to launch its new format, and the hiring of top-rated morning personality Arcand is the biggest of all. He announced in October that he’d leave CKAC next summer, after nearly a decade doing mornings, and his radio roots in Montreal go back to the mid-80s and stints at now-defunct CKVL (850, which operated from the very same Verdun studios that CKOO now uses) and CJMS (1280).

The big story from English Canada is a power boost for London community station CHRW, the voice of the University of Western Ontario. It moved from the university campus to the One London Place tower in downtown London on Friday, bumping its power from 3000 watts to 5300 watts (with a directional antenna) and moving one notch up the dial, from 94.7 to 94.9. CHRW’s move helps out CIWV (94.7 Hamilton) as well, eliminating a major source of co-channel interference there.
And, yes, there are all-Christmas stations north of the border to tell you about: in Toronto, Standard’s CJEZ (EZ Rock 97.3) and Rogers’ CHFI (98.1) both made the flip; in Kingston, Corus’ CFFX (Oldies 960) flipped over the weekend – and in Ottawa, Rogers’ CKBY (105.3) went all-Christmas amidst rumo(u)rs that it won’t go back to country after Boxing Day. Will country move to what’s now XFM (CIOX 101.1 Smiths Falls)? We’ll keep you posted…

At the other end of NERW-land, western PENNSYLVANIA will soon be spinning the radio dial to keep up with one of Pittsburgh’s top-rated personalities. Jim Quinn and sidekick Rose Somma-Tennent will reportedly leave Steel City Media’s WRRK (96.9 Braddock) early in 2004 to take over mornings at Clear Channel’s WJJJ (104.7 Pittsburgh). Quinn’s right-leaning talk show has never quite fit in with the classic rock that fills the rest of the day on “Channel 97,” but there’s no need to wonder how he’ll fit in with the R&B oldies on “104.7 the Beat” – his move to WJJJ will bring a new format and new calls to WJJJ, which has been limping along towards the bottom of the ratings ever since the “jammin’ oldies” format began heading south a couple of years ago. Clear Channel isn’t saying much about the rest of its programming plans yet for 104.7, but it’s reasonable to guess that Rush Limbaugh could eventually move there from Infinity’s KDKA, and that the company will tap the talk talent at sister sports station WBGG (970) as well.

Fifteen Years Ago: December 4, 1998

In MASSACHUSETTS, there’s a new format at Worcester’s WNEB (1230). New owners Heirwaves, Inc. took control from Bob Bittner on Saturday, flipping the station from a simulcast of Bittner’s WJIB (740 Cambridge) to Christian contemporary music, as “Hard Rock 1230.”

It’s official; as we speculated a few months back, Greater Media is signing a 15-year lease on a Morrissey Boulevard building to house all its Boston stations. WBOS (92.9 Brookline) and WSJZ (96.9) will move from 1200 Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, WKLB-FM (99.5 Lowell) and WMJX (106.7) will move from the Salada Tea building on Stuart Street, and WROR-FM (105.7 Framingham) will move from the Prudential Tower. It’ll create quite the media circus down there; the Boston Globe and WLVI (Channel 56) are already housed next door to each other across the street from Greater’s new home, which is itself just down the block from the 1960s and early 70s home of WHDH-AM/FM/TV.

In CONNECTICUT, WMMM (1260 Westport) was back on the air earlier this week, testing with relays of WSHU (91.1 Fairfield) as it prepares to return to full-time operation.

In NEW YORK, the big news out of the Big Apple is the sale of WNWK (105.9 Newark, N.J.), one of the most underappreciated FM signals in the city. It’s just been sold to Heftel Broadcasting for a whopping $115 million. It’ll flip from multilingual to a Spanish-language format once the deal closes. WNWK, being a class B1, doesn’t have the reach of the other large New York FMs (it’s also hampered by a first-adjacent signal in Patchogue, Long Island, among others), but it’s still pretty solid in the city and the Jersey suburbs from its Chrysler Building transmitter.

One more from the translator files: Say hello to W212BA, 90.3 in Geneva. It’s the newly-granted translator of Geneva public radio outlet WEOS (89.7), and it will operate from WEOS’s old transmitter site on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, filling in some gaps in WEOS’ new signal from a tower a few miles away. Not to be outdone, religious station WCIY (88.9 Canandaigua) has applied for a 105.7 translator in Geneva. This is Family Life Ministries’ second try for a Geneva frequency; the FCC dismissed an application for 104.3 back in June.

And we join with the staff of Buffalo’s WBEN (930) in mourning the passing of Clint Buehlman, a WBEN personality from the 1940s until his retirement in July 1977. Buehlman was Buffalo’s most popular radio host for years, as the “AM M-C” at the helm of the WBEN Good Morning Show. Buehlman hosted the show from March 1943 (when he joined WBEN from rival WGR) until he left the station. He died Tuesday at his home in Snyder, outside Buffalo. Buehlman was 85 years old.