In this week’s issue… RIP, Porky – New York’s new morning order – New simulcast in Maine – KYW makes its move – Ordway returns, online – Nuevo espanol en Reading

By SCOTT FYBUSH

*There are some things that are simply unique to western PENNSYLVANIA. If you’re from Pittsburgh and vicinity, you do and say and eat a lot of things that are completely foreign to everyone else: Iron City beer, sandwiches with built-in fries, Sheetz M-T-O, Terrible Towels, the linguistic curiosity that is “yinz guys”…and Porky Chedwick.

Porky in the 1950s (courtesy Ed Weigle)
Porky in the 1950s (courtesy Ed Weigle)

Even in a radio industry that was so intensely local for so long, there were few jocks anywhere who had the incredible local stardom Porky enjoyed for six decades in Pittsburgh, yet were so completely unknown outside of town. But at home, Porky was as big as they came – and so the news of his death Sunday morning, even at the ripe old age of 96, still came with quite an impact.

Craig Chedwick’s childhood nickname didn’t really fit him as he grew into a lanky young man, but “Porky” he remained through his twenties as he built a career as a PA announcer for local sporting events. When he was 30, in 1948, he applied for a job at the new radio station in Homestead, and when WHOD (860) came on the air that year, Chedwick was part of the schedule with a weekend sports commentary. That five-minute slot quickly expanded into a longer show in which Chedwick played songs from his own collection of R&B 78s – and that grew into a daily afternoon gig that rivaled much bigger competitors such as KDKA, even with just 250 watts and a sunset signoff.

Chedwick came by the music honestly; while many listeners who never saw a picture of him assumed Porky must have been black, especially after hearing his on-air rhymes that presaged latter-day rap, he was in fact a white DJ who came from a neighborhood that was integrated in its intense poverty. “I was mainly looking for the gospel sound and down-home rhythm and blues,” Chedwick told his friend and biographer Ed Weigle, “the songs which spoke of the problems of poor people.  That was my music.” (Weigle’s tale of Porky’s life can be read at Barry Mishkind’s OldRadio.com, and it’s a must-read.)

Porky’s music was so popular that it survived WHOD’s transition to WAMO in the fifties, which turned the station into country and western except when Porky was on. Two years later, WAMO went all-R&B, with Porky in a place of honor among an otherwise all-black airstaff. He remained at WAMO for decades, even as the station changed around him. By the time he was finally cut loose in 1984, he’d been at 860 on the dial in Pittsburgh essentially nonstop for 36 years.

Porky at 93 (courtesy Ed Weigle)
Porky at 93 (courtesy Ed Weigle)

Away from the radio booth, Porky was an indefatigable promoter of “his music,” emceeing record hops well into his nineties. Pittsburgh loved him right back: the city hosted “Porkstock” oldies festivals for several years at Three Rivers Stadium, oldies guru T.J. Lubinsky featured Porky prominently in several of his specials, and as recently as a week ago Porky was on the stage for the final installment of the long-running “Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll” concert series.

He moved down to Florida a few years ago as his health began to ebb, but that didn’t last, and before long Chedwick and his wife, Jeanne, were back home in Pittsburgh for good. He remained at least an occasional voice on the radio, returning to WAMO for a time amidst stints at WEDO (810 McKeesport), WLSW (103.9 Scottdale) and WKFB (770 Jeannette), among others.

Now the “Platter-Pushing Papa” is a part of radio history – and in Pittsburgh, at least, he’ll be remembered for a long, long time.

Memorial services for Chedwick were still being planned at deadline time; we’ll keep you posted here and on our Facebook and Twitter feeds as details are announced.

*A couple of big moves over the weekend in Philadelphia: on the studio side, CBS Radio’s KYW (1060 Philadelphia) is out of sight of Independence Mall for the first time in more than four decades. KYW moved from its Art Deco home at 1619 Walnut Street to the corner of Market Street and Independence Mall East (aka Fifth Street) in 1972. In 2007, CBS split its facilities, moving KYW-TV (Channel 3) and WPSG (Channel 57) westward and northward to the corner of Fifteenth and Spring Garden Streets and relocating KYW radio half a block eastward to the office building at 400 Market Street, overlooking its former home, which is now the site of a museum.

Looking toward KYW's air studio

It turns out CBS had more space in that TV facility than it needed for the two TV stations, and so it decided to move the KYW radio newsroom once again. As of Sunday, “Newsradio 1060” now originates from newly-renovated space right next to the CBS3 newsroom at the Spring Garden facility (the street address is actually 1555 Hamilton Street); its former 400 Market Street space will now be rebuilt to house talker WPHT (1210) and classic hits WOGL (98.1), which will move into the city later this year from their current digs in suburban Bala Cynwyd. CBS Radio’s remaining Philadelphia stations, WIP-FM (94.1)/WIP (610), will stay put in their current studios one floor up at 400 Market Street.

(Want to see what KYW looked like at 400 Market Street? We featured it just a few months ago in a Tower Site of the Week Extra!)

On the transmitter side, crews were busy over the weekend putting up a new antenna for WXPN (88.5). The legendary AAA station from the University of Pennsylvania has been on the former WKBS (Channel 48) tower at the western end of the Roxborough tower farm since moving down the dial from 88.9 a quarter of a century ago. Its new four-bay ERI antenna is now in place over at the southeastern corner of the tower farm, mounted to the former WPSG (Channel 57) analog antenna atop the “Gross Tower” off Paoli Avenue. With 2650 watts/1198′ from the new site, WXPN’s contours will be nearly identical to its present 5 kW/919′ from the channel 48 tower, but that extra height should give it a better view into some areas where the present signal is now shadowed.

wraw-rumbaIn Reading, Clear Channel has flipped WRAW (1340) from “Cool Oldies” to Spanish hits as “Rumba 1340.” The new format is mostly fed by Clear Channel’s Premiere Choice service, but there’s at least one local shift, hosted by Johnny V., a Reading native who does the mix shows on Clear Channel’s WUSL (Power 99) in Philadelphia.

*On TV, new KJWP (Channel 2) has made it to Comcast cable in the Philadelphia market, and with that debut comes the end of a brief simulcast of the MeTV retro network on both KJWP’s 2.1 main channel and on WFMZ’s 69.2 subchannel in Allentown. WFMZ’s MeTV service didn’t have full cable coverage of the sprawling Philadelphia market, and when the MeTV contract with WFMZ ran out at the end of February, it wasn’t renewed. For now, WFMZ is carrying AccuWeather on both 69.2 and 69.3 while it seeks new programming.

*Outside Scranton, religious WRGN (88.1 Sweet Valley) is changing hands. Gospel Media Institute Inc. has filed to donate the station and its six translators (extending from Bethlehem up to Clark’s Summit) to Dallas, PA-based Good News for Life, headed by Dennis and Lucille Madeira.

State College religious broadcaster WTLR (89.9) is now on the air in Altoona, where it’s been granted a license to cover for its new 10-watt translator, W230CC (93.9).

On the LPFM front, Adventist Community Broadcasting Corp. has been granted 98.9 in Williamsport. Montgomery County picks callsigns WEMA-LP for its new 105.7 in Marlborough and WRDY-LP for 105.7 in Plymouth.

And speaking of LPFM fronts, the FCC received amendments this week from two of the last Cesar Guel applications still standing in the region. Guel, if you haven’t been following closely, is the Texas broadcaster whose own Hispanic Christian Community Broadcasting has a big pile of LPTV licenses, mostly in the Southwest and reportedly mostly off the air as much as they’re on. And in last fall’s LPFM window, he “consulted” some 246 applicants all over the country, all with identically bland mission statements, all with nonprofit registrations in Texas just weeks before the filing deadline, all listing Guel as “agent.” Several prominent LPFM activists, most notably Maryland-based REC Networks, filed objections to Guel’s applications, and the FCC responded with an extremely pointed letter to Guel and his Virginia-based lawyer, Dan J. Alpert, seeking very detailed information to determine whether the applicants for 14 Guel LPFMs even really exist.

Guel’s applications for “North Pittsburgh Community Radio” on 102.1 and “Pittsburgh Community Radio” on 107.1 weren’t among those 14, but it appears that the amendments filed last week specify different “studio” addresses for both, perhaps to stave off questions about whether the original addresses even existed.

So far, the FCC has dismissed 73 Guel applications (including one in Providence, two in Philadelphia, one in Buffalo, two on Long Island and one in Boston) and has yet to grant any. About half of the Guel apps remain in “accepted for filing” status, including the Pittsburgh applications and two in New Jersey. You can see the whole list, via REC Networks, here.

[private]

*Is there anything more that we can add to the deluge of press coverage out of NEW YORK over Scott Shannon’s debut this morning on WCBS-FM (101.1)?

As we told you in a NERW Extra on Tuesday, today’s the day that the former WPLJ (95.5) morning man officially signs on at CBS-FM, though he showed up overnight a few days back to get a feel for the studio. Dan Taylor moves from mornings to middays, displacing Ron Parker from the lineup. (CBS Radio says it hopes to find a new spot for the versatile Parker somewhere in the cluster.)

Scott Shannon in his new home (photo: WCBS-FM)

For CBS, this is actually a rare example of fixing something that’s not broken. Shannon’s ratings on WPLJ lagged Taylor’s on WCBS-FM, and Parker reportedly had the number-one show in his midday slot. Will Shannon’s name recognition bring some of his former WPLJ audience over to WCBS-FM without losing fans of Taylor’s less personality-heavy approach? The real test, of course, will be not in the ratings books but in the billing numbers, and we won’t know how those look quite as quickly as the PPM ratings arrive.

*The clear loser in the Shannon sweepstakes, of course, is Clear Channel’s WOR (710). All those confident assertions that WOR’s abrupt dismissal of the Washington-based “Elliot in the Morning” show were part of a clever plan to clear the decks for Scott Shannon…well, those were wrong, weren’t they? (And, indeed, at least one prominent message-board pundit admitted as much, after the fact.)

Trouble is, if WOR didn’t have a cunning plan in the works when it sent Elliot Segal back to DC, we’re left to conclude that what we’re looking at is a $30 million radio station with no plan B and in fact no real game plan for mornings at all. The versatile Hilarie Barsky has been filling in for now, but that’s purely an interim move, and the clock is ticking: WOR’s new Mets broadcasts began this past week with Spring Training action from Florida, and Clear Channel’s new partners in Flushing would presumably like a high-profile name in morning drive talking about the previous night’s Mets action once the season starts in just a few weeks. Who might that be? In a cost-cutting world where everything’s syndicated outside of morning drive, there’s no local bench for WOR to turn to, and not many compelling personalities to be imported from other Clear Channel talkers elsewhere, either.

While WOR searches for a morning host who can mix current affairs and a hefty dose of sports, it’s also still looking to fill an even more pressing opening: there’s still no Mets pre- and post-game host in place, and that’s going to be a very important role very soon, especially because that host will also be doing local evening sports talk on nights when the Mets are off.

*While WOR struggles, Salem’s WNYM (970 Hackensack NJ) has made its interim morning lineup official: filling the void left behind by Curtis Sliwa’s abrupt departure for WABC in January, comedian Joe Piscopo now has the wakeup slot on “970 the Answer” for good, alongside producer/co-host Frank Morano and newsman Al Gatullo. Piscopo’s new radio career happened almost by accident – he offered his services to PD Phil Boyce after Sliwa left, and a guest stint turned into a full-time show, complete with a hookup so Piscopo can broadcast live from his New Jersey home instead of WNYM’s lower Manhattan studios.

*There was a time when Kingston-licensed WRNN-TV was a major source of news in the underserved Hudson Valley. Back in its days as analog channel 62, “RNN” produced several hours a night of local news for the area from its studios on Broadway in Kingston and served as a launching pad for plenty of TV news careers in the region. In recent years, of course, WRNN (now on digital channel 48) has become largely a source of infomercials, but a vestige of its old Kingston focus continued for the last two years in the form of “Kingston Now.” That weekly show, produced in the former WRNN studios (now the Seve21 Media Center) and hosted by WDST (100.1 Woodstock)’s Jimmy Buff, has been cancelled. Producer Jeremy Ellenbogen tells the Kingston Daily Freeman the TV station didn’t say why the show is being cancelled. The only remaining vestige of WRNN’s old “Regional News Network” presence on the broadcast airwaves is its one nightly talk show, “Richard French Live,” hosted by the station’s owner; behind the scenes, though, RNN has become a content producer for cable and satellite, producing the 24-hour “FiOS 1” channels for Verizon’s systems on Long Island and in New Jersey, among other projects.

Bud Williamson’s Digital Radio Broadcasting wants to change frequency on a Port Jervis translator, shifting W255CM (98.9 Port Jervis) down the dial to 88.1. The move would allow the translator to become a relay of noncommercial WNYX (88.1 Montgomery), which a Williamson-affiliated nonprofit is now running with an 80s-pop format.

wtlb-largeIn Utica, the FCC has granted Galaxy’s application to downgrade WTLB (1310) from a four-tower class B directional to a non-directional class D signal. When three of WTLB’s four towers come down, the sports station will go from 5000 watts day/500 watts night to 2600 watts day and just 38 watts at night. Since “ESPN Radio Utica-Rome” is now heard in Utica on powerful translator W256AJ (99.1), Galaxy is betting the power drop won’t cost it many real-world listeners. (And it’s probably right.)

In the LPFM arena, Grand Street Community Arts gets a grant for 107.1 in Albany. On the callsign front, Angelica Community Radio’s new 92.7 in the Southern Tier will be WRAQ-LP, while Birds of a Feather’s new Woodstock 104.1 will be WIOF-LP when it signs on. (And yes, that’s the same call, which sort of stands for “104,” that spent years on what’s now WMRQ on 104.1 in the Hartford, Connecticut market.)

*Big news on the NEW JERSEY shore: Marty Martinez is retiring after 37 years on the air, the last 13 as morning man on active rock WRAT (95.9 Point Pleasant). Martinez did his last “Carl and Marty in the Morning Show” on Friday, handing the solo reins to PD Carl Craft for now. Before joining the Greater Media station on the shore in 2001, Martinez spent 22 years at WNEW-FM (102.7) in New York, including the morning show from 1980 until 1999; he also spent two years as PD of the eYada.com online talk experiment. “After 37 years of rocking the airwaves, I believe it’s time to enjoy what life has to offer next,” Martinez said in the announcement of his retirement.

Down the shore, “Joe and Scott” (Ciappana and Friedman, respectively) are about to be out of a job in the Atlantic City market. After five years at WZXL (100.7), they’ll be replaced next Monday by another pair of hosts with the same names. “JoJo and Scotty” are Joseph Borsello and Scotty Reilly, and they’re departing Longport Media’s WMGM (103.7) to move over to Equity Communications and WZXL starting March 10. No replacement has been named yet over at WMGM, though of course the other “Joe and Scott” are now available…

Glenn Ordway (photo: WEEI)
Glenn Ordway (photo: WEEI)

*One of the best-known sports radio voices in MASSACHUSETTS is going online. Glenn Ordway was one of the stars at Entercom’s WEEI for more than a quarter of a century before being cut loose a year ago. Now he’s taking his “Big Show” to a new streaming service he’s starting, SportsTalkBoston.com. Ordway will do the “Big Show Unfiltered” live on weekdays from 3-6 PM beginning March 17. “I look forward to presenting an alternative in the market that will feature the best of the past with some new, innovative elements and voices,” Ordway said in announcing the new stream. “And there is no reason to hold anything back anymore. It’s all unfiltered.”

Back at Entercom, some comings and goings: after more than 18 years with WRKO (680) and WEEI, Pete Gustin departed on Friday, taking his production and voiceover skills to a collection of clients he’ll now serve personally. Down the hall at WAAF (107.3)/WKAF (97.7), there’s a replacement for former Hill-Man Morning Show producer Anthony Parziale. Three months after “Spaz” left WAAF to start his own company, Rob Stevens is inbound from San Diego, where he’d been part of the crew on the morning show at that city’s active rocker, Clear Channel’s KIOZ (105.3).

One more Entercom Boston note: WRKO’s talk format is now being heard on the HD2 of WEEI-FM (93.7 Lawrence), where it replaces the “Funkytown” rhythmic format that was the last surviving gasp of the old “Star” format from 93.7’s days as WQSX. The 93.7 signal, which favors the North Shore and downtown, largely overlaps WRKO’s AM coverage; will Entercom eventually add WRKO on an HD subchannel of WAAF, which would fill in WRKO’s significant nighttime signal gap to the west?

*A correction from last week: WFRQ (93.5 Frank FM) is a Codcomm station, not a Cape Cod Broadcasting station – but there’s news this week from Bev Tilden and her crew over at Cape Cod Broadcasting. WQCB (99.9), WKPE (103.9), WOCN (104.7) and WFCC (107.5) have added a news director position, and its first occupant is Laura Reckford. She comes to the Cape Cod stations from many years in the print/online arena, where she edited the Barnstable Enterprise and has been running the CapeCodWave.com website. At CCB, she’ll helm one of the more robust news operations at a smaller-market music-oriented cluster anywhere.

Speaking of Cape Cod Broadcasting, the job its new PD Jerry McKenna left behind in Worcester has been filled. Until December of last year, McKenna had been operations manager at Cumulus’ Worcester stations, WXLO (104.5 Fitchburg) and WORC-FM (98.9 Webster) and PD of WXLO, and now that job has a well-known name to fill McKenna’s shoes. Lance Ballance’s resume includes some time at AC giant KBIG (104.3) in Los Angeles, followed by a decade down south at stations in Memphis, Birmingham and most recently in Fort Myers, Florida. He’s getting a head start on the Red Sox’s northward pilgrimage; Ballance is already on the job in downtown Worcester.

One of New England’s longer-running syndicated offerings has picked up a prominent new clearance: Craig Bailey’s “Floydian Slip” originates in Vermont, and as of this past weekend the all-Pink Floyd show is being heard on WAQY (102.1) in Springfield, along with some 50 other stations around the country and around the world.

In the LPFM arena, the town of Acton has been granted a CP for a new signal on 94.9. On the North Shore, the Lynn schools’ new 96.5 takes calls, WVUL-LP. The new cable access-operated LPFMs in central Massachusetts will be WFPR-LP (102.9 Franklin) and WVAO-LP (105.9 Athol), and Worcester’s new religious 106.1 will be WSRG-LP.

We don’t usually devote much space in this column to our colleagues on the record industry side of the business, but the death of Jerry Brenner can’t go without notice here. Brenner was a 1958 Revere High graduate, and after a stint in the Army he went into the record business in New England, working for several promoters (including Music City Music) before becoming one of the region’s best-known “indies” (independent record promoters) in the 1970s. Brenner’s partner was Carl Strube, who’s now one of the partners in Port Broadcasting (WNBP in Newburyport and WWSF in Sanford, Maine.) Brenner remained an active and well-loved part of the industry until becoming sick these last few years; he lost his fight with cancer last Monday, at age 73.

*wksq-kissfmIn MAINE, Blueberry Broadcasting is trying hard to blur the boundaries between the Augusta/Waterville market and the Bangor market to the east. Last week, Blueberry killed off the “Midcoast 102.5” AC format on WQSS (102.5 Camden), replacing it with a simulcast of the “Kiss” AC format that’s already running down the coast on WKSQ (94.5 Ellsworth) and that’s been simulcast since last fall on WQSK (97.5 Madison, formerly all-sports WIGY). Neither 97.5 nor 102.5 covers the entire Augusta/Waterville market, but together the simulcast covers most of central Maine, while 94.5 reaches greater Bangor.

The “Kiss” trimulcast completes the set of Augusta-Waterville/mid-coast/Bangor simulcasts in the Blueberry family: “Bear” country on WBFB (97.1 Bangor), WBFE (99.1 Bar Harbor, which changed calls from WLKE last September) and WMCM (103.3 Rockland); “Big” classic hits on WABK (104.3 Gardiner), WBAK (104.7 Belfast) and WBKA (107.7 Bar Harbor); rock WTOS (105.1 Skowhegan), WTUX (101.1 Gouldsboro) and WTQX (96.7 Boothbay Harbor); and news-talk WVOM-FM (103.9 Howland), WVOM (1450 Rockland) and WVQM (101.3 Augusta).

*A cluster without central Maine simulcasts, Stephen King’s Zone Company, is adding a translator in Bangor. Zone will pay David Stout $80,000 for the construction permit translator W252CT (98.3). The CP, granted last November, already calls for Zone’s WZON (620 Bangor) to be the parent station, and with 250 watts from 328 feet up on WZON’s main tower on Broadway, the 98.3 signal will provide potent coverage of Bangor. (WZON’s “Pulse” progressive talk format had been simulcast on FM in the past on what’s now WZLO 103.1 Dover-Foxcroft; that station split off at the start of 2013 to go AAA, and WZON has been AM-only since then.)

*In the LPFM arena in NEW HAMPSHIRE, Living Word Ministries of Charlestown has been granted a CP for 105.7 in Charlestown. There are new calls for 99.9 in Bethlehem, WZNC-LP.

Meanwhile in translator-land, it appears Cumulus and Townsquare didn’t quite have all their t’s crossed when they did their big station swap last fall. When Townsquare took over a big batch of Cumulus markets (giving Cumulus the cash it needed to buy out Dial Global), someone forgot to include the licenses for three FM translators and a satellite earth station as part of the FCC paperwork. As a result, Townsquare got WOKQ (97.5 Dover) and WPKQ (103.7 North Conway), but Cumulus held on to the license for WOKQ’s Manchester translator, W250AB (97.9). Cumulus filed quickly to add W250AB to the transaction, but the FCC moved slowly on the paperwork, and so it wasn’t until just this past week that W250AB, along with two translators in Rochester, Minnesota and that earth station in Michigan officially changed hands to Townsquare for the sum of $10. Until then, there was actually an LMA of sorts in place (for an additional sum of $10!), and it’s a very good bet that the legal fees to clean up the mess far exceeded the “cash value” of that odd transaction.

*It’s a big move up in market size for a VERMONT jock, as Kimmie Caruba trades the snows of Burlington for the sun (or, at the moment, the pounding rains) of Phoenix, Arizona. Caruba’s moving from middays on WXXX (95.5 South Burlington) to nights at KMLE (107.9 Chandler), CBS Radio’s country station in the Phoenix market. She’ll start out there in two weeks; no replacement has been named yet at Triple-X.

*In RHODE ISLAND, EMF Broadcasting’s “K-Love” network has a stronger signal over Warwick: it’s completed the upgrade of translator W284BA (104.7), a relay of WTKL (91.1 North Dartmouth MA), from 38 to 99 watts. The translator remains at its existing site off Pontiac Avenue near the I-95/Route 37 interchange.

There’s a new weekend lineup in place at Rhode Island Public Radio, where programmers have added eight new shows to the mix. The new lineup (available in full here) includes newcomers such as “PRX Remix,” “Bullseye,” “Ask Me Another,” and one of our favorites, “Dinner Party Download,” as well as some more-established fare (“Radiolab,” “TED Radio Hour”) that hadn’t yet found a home on RIPR.

We’re still a little early for “Baseball on the Radio” – but there’s a bit of minor-league news from the Pawtucket Red Sox, where Josh Maurer is joining the broadcast booth this season. There’s been a lot of turnover there in recent years. Bob Socci was the most recent play-by-play man on WHJJ (920) and the PawSox network, but he departed after just a few months to replace Gil Santos in the Patriots’ radio booth. Maurer comes to the PawSox from UMass Amherst, where he’s spent six years calling football and basketball. He has baseball experience, too, with the Class A Charleston River Dogs down in the Carolina League.

*A new LPFM callsign in CONNECTICUT: 102.5 in Manchester will be WYPH-LP.

*In eastern CANADA, Rogers was busy with a format change in Halifax, Nova Scotia. On Friday morning at 8, CKLT (92.9) ditched the “Lite 92.9” AC format it’s had since 2009 and its shift from the AM dial (it’s the former CFDR 780); in its place is one of the few new “Jack” adult hits outlet to debut in recent memory. The new Halifax Jack has a new morning show: Griff Henderson and Caroline Parker, who’ve been off the air since competitor CKUL (96.5) flipped to AAA last summer.

ckws-hitsMeanwhile in Ontario, Corus has been busy rebranding several of its stations. CKWS (104.3 Kingston) dropped its “Greatest Hits” format on Monday, flipping to AC as simply “Hits 104.3.” A day later, CKDK (103.9 Woodstock) in the London market dropped its “More” hot AC format, flipping to country as “Country 104” and giving some competition to Bell’s longstanding country signal in town, CJBX (BX93). And there may be more Corus flips to come: RadioInsight reports there’s a domain registration for “Hits 101.9,” apparently for a forthcoming flip at CJSS in Cornwall.

There’s a rebranding up in Cottage Country, too: Vista has turned “New 105.5 FM, Muskoka’s Lite Favourites” (CFBK Huntsville) into “Moose 105.5,” matching the branding on the other stations it acquired from Haliburton in 2012. CFBK had been “Moose” once before, from Haliburton’s 2008 acquisition until 2010.

In Montreal, Wayne Bews is switching teams: after a long run as GM at Bell’s CKGM (690, and 990 before that), Bews moved last fall to the TV side of the Bell world, doing sales for CFCF (Channel 12) after the Bell/Astral merger eliminated his old job. Now Bews is returning to a GM’s chair, over at Cogeco’s CKBE (92.5 the Beat). Bews will also serve as general sales manager at the Beat, where he fills the void left by Mark Dickie, who’s now running Corus’ Ottawa and Cornwall stations.

*And speaking of voids, there’s a very big one now along the Trans-Canada Highway near the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border. Radio Canada International silenced its shortwave transmitters at Sackville, New Brunswick back in October 2012. (We profiled the site in Tower Site of the Week right around the time it went off the air.)

RCI tried hard to find a buyer for the huge site, which has a history dating back to World War II, but to no avail. Now demolition has begun on the big tower arrays out in the Tantramar Marsh, with a goal of returning the site to the pristine condition in which the CBC found it when construction began in the 1940s.

It’s a sad end to a site that was once Canada’s voice to the world beyond, and we’re sorry to see it go.

[/private]

CALENDARS — CALENDARS — CALENDARS

Yes, we are working on the 2021 Tower Site Calendar, soon to be released — but you can order it NOW.

This is the 20th year we have been publishing our calendar. It’s still being designed, but we promise you we’ll have plenty of gorgeous tower shots to decorate your walls for the entire year.

As we’re working on it you can order the calendar in advance for 25% off — the lowest price of the season.

And while you’re getting your calendar, don’t forget the other great products in our store.

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: March 4, 2013

*It’s turning out to be an interesting year in the world of medium- and small-market TV, isn’t it? While the companies at the top of the local-station ownership market have been reluctant to do much spending on big-market properties, a handful of players are aggressively testing the limits when it comes to the creation of multiple-station local clusters and regional groups in markets below #50 or thereabouts.

sbg-wstm-wjacLate last year, we watched as Nexstar and Sinclair divvied up most of the former Newport Television (ex-Clear Channel/Ackerley) stations across upstate NEW YORK and beyond – and since then, Sinclair, especially, has been at the forefront when it comes to station acquisition. Last week, Sinclair grew again, picking up several smaller-market stations being shed by Cox Media Group for $99 million and then, for $320 million, buying outright the entire Barrington Broadcasting group.

The market that will feel the biggest impact from those Sinclair moves is Syracuse, which has suffered more TV ownership turmoil than just about anywhere else that we can think of in recent years. The dominant station in town is ABC affiliate WSYR-TV (Channel 9), which is just settling in under the first months of its new Nexstar ownership – and even before Nexstar picked up channel 9 in the Newport deal, it was widely known that the competing “CNY Central” cluster was also up for sale. That cluster, which lags significantly behind WSYR-TV in the ratings, includes Barrington-owned NBC affiliate WSTM (Channel 3), its low-power CW sister station WSTQ-LP (Channel 14) and Granite’s CBS affiliate WTVH (Channel 5), which is operated under an LMA by WSTM.

When Barrington went up for sale, the rumor mill immediately pegged both Nexstar and Sinclair as likely buyers, and had Nexstar been the winning buyer, the FCC would have required something to be spun off in Syracuse. That will be the case under Sinclair as well, since Sinclair has its own Syracuse cluster just two doors down from CNY Central. That cluster includes Sinclair’s own Fox affiliate, WSYT (Channel 68), and MyNetwork affiliate WNYS-TV (Channel 43), which is licensed to RKM Media but has long been operated by Sinclair/WSYT.

When Sinclair closes on the Barrington purchase, it will take over operation of “CNY Central,” owning WSTM/WSTQ outright and operating WTVH under a continuation of the Barrington deal with Granite. So what becomes of WSYT/WNYS?

syracuselogosSinclair’s announcement of the Barrington deal included a mention that two companies, Cunningham Broadcasting and the new minority-controlled Howard Stirk Company (fronted by conservative commentator Armstrong Williams), will be acquiring the license assets of four stations as part of the transaction – and that Sinclair will sell WSYT and assign its management deal for WNYS.

What we’re quietly hearing from behind the scenes, unsurprisingly, is that Sinclair doesn’t really intend to let go of WSYT/WNYS – and that while the Fox/My combo will stay put at its 1000 James Street location, separate from CNY Central in the venerable channel 3 facility at 1030 James, Sinclair is likely to seek a “sale” of WSYT to the closely-connected Cunningham group. If that happens, it would give Sinclair some degree of control over three of the big four affiliations in town (NBC outright on WSTM, CBS via the Granite LMA on WTVH and Fox via the arms-length Cunningham on WSYT), plus CW and My to boot. That’s a lot of consolidation in a town that’s already seen more than its share of media changes lately, including the end of daily publication at the city’s major newspaper, the Newhouse-owned Post-Standard.

*As for the Sinclair/Cox deal, it involves four markets: Reno (Fox affiliate KRXI and LMA partner KAME), El Paso (Fox affiliate KFOX) – and two NBC affiliates bracketing Pittsburgh and western PENNSYLVANIA: WJAC-TV (Channel 6) in Johnstown and WTOV (Channel 9) in Steubenville, Ohio. Back in 2000, when Cox acquired WTOV and WJAC from Sunrise Television, officials boasted that the three-station combination with Cox’s WPXI (Channel 11) in Pittsburgh would “be able to take better advantage of the strategic opportunities that are arising as broadcasting enters the digital age.”

But Cox’s strategy changed in recent years: instead of trying to spread out as much as possible geographically, the company’s focus has shifted to building dominant clusters across multiple media (TV, radio and even legacy newspapers) in a smaller number of markets such as Atlanta, Dayton, Jacksonville and Tulsa. Cox acquired Newport’s TV stations in those last two markets and quickly moved to sell non-core clusters such as its Connecticut radio stations (headed to Connoisseur Media) and now WJAC and WTOV, which Sinclair will operate under its new “Chesapeake Media” division, established last week to manage the increasing number of small-market stations under Sinclair’s growing umbrella.

When Sinclair/Chesapeake takes over at WJAC and WTOV, those stations will get a new Pittsburgh partner, Sinclair Fox affiliate WPGH (Channel 53) and its Cunningham My Network sister, WPMY (Channel 22). What becomes of the newsgathering that WJAC and WTOV share, in part, with WPXI? That’s an interesting situation, too: Sinclair already has its own news partnership with WPXI, where Cox produces a 10 PM newscast that’s aired on Sinclair’s WPGH ever since WPGH shuttered its own newsroom in 2006.

So what’s really going on here? The way we see it, it’s part of a brand new world of local TV in which “ownership” tells only part of the story. Long gone are the days when a “TV station” had to be a single entity in which one owner controlled every aspect of a station’s operation locally, from the newsroom and ad sales all the way through master control to the transmitter and tower. It’s possible (and not uncommon) now for the station’s “owner” to hold nothing more than the license, with everything from news production to master control to sales and transmitter operations managed under contract by other companies that in some cases might once have been considered “the competition.” (Speaking of which, WJAC under Cox has been supplying news to “competing” Fox/ABC affiliates WWCP/WATM in Johnstown-Altoona, and that arrangement is expected to continue under Sinclair.)

*The week’s other TV deal comes from Albany, where the market’s MyNetworkTV affiliate is getting a new duopoly partner. Venture Technologies’ WNYA (Channel 51), licensed to nearby Pittsfield, Mass., was once operated under an LMA by CBS affiliate WRGB (Channel 6). That arrangement dissolved when WRGB made an outright purchase of the market’s bigger CW outlet, WCWN (Channel 45), leaving Venture to operate WNYA as a stand-alone using the old Rotterdam studios of public broadcaster WMHT, which had moved on to plusher quarters in Rensselaer.

*Here in the Rochester market, two AM stations that have been for sale for quite a while now have finally found a buyer. WASB (1590 Brockport) and WRSB (1310 Canandaigua) bookend the core of the Rochester market from the far west and east sides, respectively – and now they’re heading from the hands of Marilyn Wolfe, widow of late station owner Dr. David Wolfe, to Brian McGlynn’s Genesee Media. Genesee already owns WDNY-FM (93.9)/WDNY (1400) in Dansville, an hour south of Rochester, and McGlynn says the two new AMs will allow him to “further develop parts of the Rochester market.”

*A veteran MASSACHUSETTS morning show is reuniting after a long absence. It was way back in 2001 when Clear Channel split up the Baltazar and Pebbles morning show at WJMN (94.5), with Baltazar eventually moving out west to KZZO in Sacramento. But after Pebbles was let go by WJMN last year and eventually followed former WJMN programmer Cadillac Jack over to Greater Media’s rhythmic startup WTKK (Hot 96.9), it became clear that Cadillac was doing everything he could to put the band back together, as it were. NERW was the first trade publication to note that CBS Radio had posted an opening for Baltazar’s Sacramento job – and last week Greater confirmed what we’d all been speculating: effective today, Baltazar will be back in Boston on a reunited “Baltazar and Pebbles” show at WTKK. The afternoon slot that Pebbles had been temporarily filling will go to Melissa, the former WJMN morning producer who’d been handling middays.

Over at Clear Channel, March brought an abrupt end to the “Matty’s Comedy 1200″ format at WXKS (1200 Newton). The satellite-fed yuks showed up on 1200 and on WXKS-FM (107.9)’s HD2 last August, after Clear Channel pulled the plug on its attempt to make the station a major conservative talk player. While the comedy lives on at 107.9-HD2, AM 1200 has now flipped again to a full-time feed of Bloomberg Radio’s business format. Bloomberg has bounced around the Boston dial in its two decades on the air: from 1994-1996, it was heard more or less full-time on WBNW (590), Peter Ottmar’s replacement for the old WEEI frequency, and after 590′s sale to Salem (it’s now religious WEZE), Bloomberg eventually ended up with part-time clearance on a series of rimshots. Most recently, Bloomberg has been heard on Barry Armstrong’s WBNW (1120 Concord)/WPLM (1390 Plymouth), where it’s been cleared for a few hours of morning drive and overnights. It appears those clearances will go away in the next few weeks, and there’s no word yet on what replaces Bloomberg over at Armstrong’s “Money Matters Radio.”

wxks-bloomberg 1200 logoMeanwhile, the new “Bloomberg 1200″ is also being simulcast on Clear Channel’s WJMN (94.5-HD2) for a little extra reach. In addition to the national Bloomberg feed, the Boston incarnation includes traffic and weather headlines four times an hour from Clear Channel’s Metro Networks, and may eventually include more local content as well.

*There’s more new radio coming to eastern CANADA. In Clarence-Rockland, Ontario, just east of Ottawa, the CRTC has granted a new signal to Evanov Broadcasting. The new 92.5 there, running 300 watts, will be the latest link in Evanov’s soft AC “Jewel” chain, joining CJWL (98.5 Ottawa) to the west and CKHK (107.7 Hawkesbury) and the new CHSV (106.7 Hudson-St.-Lazare QC) to the east. North of Toronto, Dan Sys’ Canadian Radio News reports the grant of a new 50-watt tourist information station on 98.5 in Barrie. Owned by Douglas Edwards, who has several existing tourist signals nearby, the new 98.5 will carry the CKEY calls that had a long legacy in Toronto and then in Niagara Falls/Fort Erie.

Five Years Ago: March 2, 2009

In a decade and a half of doing this column, we’ve shied away from repeating rumors and spreading gossip. But sometimes the drumbeat is so loud, and so clear, that it’s hard to ignore – and that’s the case, this week, with CBS Radio’s NEW YORK cluster. Even as salespeople for WXRK (92.3 New York) settle in as the first tenants of the cluster’s new home downtown at 345 Hudson Street, well-placed sources tell NERW that managers are looking for a new request line number that ends with the letters “H-I-T-S.” That, needless to say, doesn’t fit the rock format of “K-Rock” or the AC format of its eventual neighbor at Hudson Street, “Fresh” WWFS (102.7). But it does track with the big flip out in Los Angeles last week that transformed FM talker KLSX (97.1) into top-40 “AMP Radio.”

Despite rumors that have suggested “AMP” clones showing up everywhere from Boston to San Francisco, we’re hearing that the eventual flip in New York – whether at WWFS or WXRK – won’t carry the “AMP” branding, which will apparently remain unique to L.A. So which signal will end up flipping in New York, and when? That remains a well-guarded secret for now, though with the contract for morning men Opie & Anthony just a couple of months from expiration, it certainly would seem that WXRK is more obviously poised for a flip than WWFS, which has been surprisingly successful with its “Fresh” format after many years of instability and repeated format flips as WNEW.

We now know the outcome of this morning’s big meeting in Syracuse – and it ends up being the opposite of what we’d surmised – Barrington Broadcasting’s NBC affiliate, WSTM (Channel 3), is taking over operations of Granite’s CBS affiliate, WTVH (Channel 5), under a shared-services agreement. There was no noon newscast on WTVH, and it appears much of that station’s staff may be out as operations of the CBS station move two doors down to WSTM’s studios. We’ll have much more on this developing story in next week’s NERW.

The news out of MAINE is all about call changes: WKCG (101.3 Augusta) has become WVQM, to match its news-talk simulcast with WVOM (103.9 Howland) in the Bangor market. Meanwhile, Bangor’s WABI (910) sheds the calls it’s had for more than eight decades – it’s now WAEI, matching its WEEI-simulcast FM sister, WAEI-FM (97.1 Bangor). The WABI calls live on over at WABI-TV (Channel 5).

Ten Years Ago: March 1, 2004

There’s a format change on the way in PENNSYLVANIA in a few weeks. On April 5, Salem will flip WZZD (990 Philadelphia) from the format of religious teaching and music that it’s had for 23 years to conservative talk. 990 will get new calls, WNTP, and a program lineup that will include the syndicated offerings from Laura Ingraham, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Michael Savage. Salem has been rolling out its conservative talk in many of its markets, including last year’s launch of WTTT (1150) in Boston; in addition to the April 5 launches in Philadelphia and Dallas (KSKY 660 Balch Springs TX), Salem is also introducing a national morning show hosted by William Bennett and veteran talk PD Tom Tradup. “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America” will also be heard on WTTT, replacing the current Jimi Carter morning show there; NERW suspects it’s just a matter of time before Salem clears that show and the rest of its network on one of its New York outlets (WMCA 570 or WWDJ 970) as well.

Another call change in Philadelphia: WLDW (96.5) has become WRDW-FM, reflecting its new “Wired” identity; those calls have a long heritage down in Augusta, Georgia, where owner Beasley has WRDW (1630) – and where there’s also WRDW-TV, no longer co-owned with the radio station.

There’s a fight brewing in Chambersburg over the land where the four towers of WCBG (1590) now sit. City officials began building a water tower right next door to the site, apparently without realizing that the RF field from the station would interact with the new structure. Now the city says it will condemn the land on which the towers will sit, offering Verstandig Broadcasting a paltry $30,000 for relocating to a city-owned landfill site. The station, understandably, doesn’t want to move; we’ll keep you posted on how this one plays out.

Up in the Scranton area, WKJN (1440 Carbondale) applies to change its calls back to WCDL; new owner Route 81 Radio is planning to build new studios in the Carbondale city hall building to get the station back on the air soon. (Sister station WCWI 94.3 has changed calls to WNAK-FM and is now simulcasting standards WNAK 730; another Citadel spin-off, WCWY 107.7 Tunkhannock, is changing calls to WBZR under its new owner, Geos Communications.)

Howard Stern fans in Pittsburgh are making do without the shock jock for now; WXDX (105.9) there was one of the six Clear Channel stations that abruptly pulled the Stern show from their airwaves on Thursday. “The X” played music Thursday and Friday mornings, and it’s not clear yet whether the Stern show will be back there (or on Clear Channel’s WNVE 95.1 in the Rochester market, which also went Stern-less) any time soon.

A format flip in NEW YORK’s Capital District leads things off this week; as we’d hinted last week, Crawford Broadcasting will move the oldies “Legends” WPTR (1540 Albany) over to the FM dial today, swapping calls and format with religious WDCD (96.7 Clifton Park). While the religious programming gets the big 50,000 watt AM signal, we’re hearing that some tweaks to “Legends” are on the way at its new FM home, where it will compete with Clear Channel oldies WTRY (98.3 Rotterdam) and its emphasis on the 60s and 70s, as well as Pamal’s WKLI (100.9 Albany) and its standards format.

Heading down the Hudson, NERW was first to report (in a Friday extra last week) that Pamal will soon flip WXPK (107.1 Briarcliff Manor) from its current top 40 simulcast of Poughkeepsie’s WSPK to adult album alternative – and now we can fill in some of the details. Peter Mutino, late of WGCH (1490 Greenwich CT), will be the station’s general manager, and it’ll be based at Pamal’s studio facility in Beacon. Latest word is that the new 107.1 will debut on April 1; the message boards have already noted that the signal’s original calls of WRNW are available (and, as one wag noted, early WRNW jock Howard Stern just might be, too.)

Call changes are relatively rare in CANADA, but we have three of them this week, all related. Rogers flipped CISS (92.5 Toronto) to “Jack FM” almost a year ago, and now it’s finally changed the calls there to CJAQ. The CISS calls replace CKBY on 105.3 in Ottawa, which became top 40 “Kiss” earlier this year – and the CKBY calls follow the country format south to “Y101” in Smiths Falls, the 101.1 outlet formerly known as CIOX.

Fifteen Years Ago: February 26, 1999

In MAINE, Bonnie Grant is leaving her post as general manager of WPOR (101.9/1490 Portland) after years with the station. Saga told staffers this week that it plans to move WPOR out of its current home on Baxter Blvd. and into the building at 420 Western Ave. in South Portland that now houses Saga’s other Portland outlets, WGAN, WZAN, WMGX, and WYNZ. As part of the process, Saga market manager Cary Pahigian adds GM responsibilities for WPOR — which left Grant with the choice of the sales manager job she held before becoming GM, or a departure for other work.

Meantime, the rest of the Saga stations are getting a new news and programming coordinator. Doug Tribeau joins the group to replace departed news director Leslie Doppler and WGAN/WZAN PD Dave Winsor (who’s still at Western Avenue, but now focused on the WGAN morning show). Tribeau was with Eagle Broadcasting’s four-station group (WHCU, WTKO, WYXL, WQNY) in Ithaca, New York.

We begin the MASSACHUSETTS news this week with more departures, most prominently those of the “Two Chicks Dishing.” Leslie Gold and Lori Kramer held down nights at WRKO (680) for the last few years, but the partnership that began at WMMM in Westport CT and moved on to WRKO for weekends couldn’t survive the weeknight pressure, it seems. Their contracts expired Friday (2/26), and WRKO PD Kevin Straley decided not to renew, so now it’s back to New York City for Kramer and back to the job hunt for Gold. What’s next for 7-10 PM on The Talk Station? Among the names we’ve heard mentioned are political pundit Michael Goldman and Lowell’s Paul Sullivan, who is himself another departure this week. Sullivan’s final show on WLLH (1400 Lowell-Lawrence) was Friday morning, as the station heads for Mega Broadcasting ownership and a switch to all-Spanish. Big changes on the way for Merrimack Valley radio? Sure sounds that way, from some of the rumors floating up and down 495…

NEW YORK, too, has its comings and goings this week, with Long Island at center stage. As Carl Liu (son of NYC leased-time guru Arthur) gets ready to buy WLVG (96.1 Center Moriches), the AC station is losing its PD and morning host. PD Stefan Rybak left this week, and morning guy Marty Mitchell is leaving as well (though he keeps his weekend gig on quad-cast country Y107 surrounding New York). Liu’s deal is worth between $3 million and $3.5 million and includes an LMA of up to 3 years with current owner Gary Starr, according to the M Street folks.

Over at WBLI (106.1 Patchogue), Cox stays within the corporate family by bringing in its PD from sister CHR WWHT (107.9 Syracuse). Less than a year after making “Hot 107.9” his first PD gig, J.J. Rice heads down the Thruway and out the L.I.E. to make his mark on the Nassau/Suffolk market. We’re proud to say we “knew him when” (as APD/MD at Rochester’s WPXY), and we wish him all the best on the Island.

Buffalo’s WNED (970) appears to have been saved from extinction for the moment, but not without creating some friction on the local noncomm scene. The Western New York Public Broadcasting Authority had said WNED’s news and talk format was losing money, and had planned to shut down programming, instead simulcasting the NPR news, talk, and jazz from SUNY Buffalo’s WBFO (88.7). After the news broke, listeners and the community called on WNED to reconsider, and the station responded by launching a nine-day pledge drive last weekend to raise $150,000 needed to run the AM. WNED raised $70,000 of that in the first two days alone, along with $100,000 in cash and advertising space from the Buffalo News. If the fund drive succeeds, WNED will hire a consultant to examine the AM’s future, including the possibility of replacing “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” already heard on WBFO, with local news (which 970 used to run in its WEBR days).

Across the border, the CHR on 92.5 in Toronto is now on its second name in as many weeks. It seems Rogers Broadcasting didn’t check to see what nicknames were already in use in the market when it replaced country CISS with CHR “Power” — and the result was a lawsuit from CKDX (88.5 Newmarket), which has been “Power 88” for two years now. Gone is “Power,” in is “Kiss” (or is that “Ciss”?), and if there’s confusion with cross-market WKSE (“Kiss 98.5”) Niagara Falls-Buffalo, NERW suspects the U.S. Embassy will decline to intervene.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not sure if you’ve mentioned this, but would you know how many radio personalities have hosted at least three morning shows in the same market, as Scott Shannon can now claim? Just wondering how common it has been over the years.

  2. Pittsburgh’s Jack Bogut began doing morning drive at KDKA in 1965, He was lured away by the former WTAE radio, and is now continuing a long run at WJAS. There must be a place forhim in the Guiness Book.

  3. In New York’s Capital District, market legend Don Weeks was morning man at WABY/Albany before taking on Morning Drive at Top 40 WTRY/Troy. For a number of years thereafter, he was the morning host on the market’s flamethrower, WGY/Schenectady, so we have to include him in the morning three-peat archives!

    – Tom “Casey” (Reep)

Comments are closed.