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, fifteen and – where available – twenty 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: September 9, 2013
AM 1520 in Buffalo, NEW YORK once proudly boasted that it was “one of America’s two great radio stations,” back in the days when it was top-40 WKBW and its lineup of stellar talent burned a big hole in the ionosphere over a huge chunk of the East every night. Today, as WWKB, it’s a pale shadow of its former self – but it still made headlines last week when the Entercom-owned 50,000-watter flipped formats from progressive talk to ESPN sports.
Message boards lit up, as they so often do, with earnest pronouncements about what the development meant or didn’t mean for the survival of the struggling progressive-talk format; from where we sit 70 miles away at NERW Central, the answer, we think, is “nothing much at all.”
The explanation lies in the strange role WWKB now plays in the Entercom cluster in Buffalo, where it’s little more than a flanker to the two big AMs in the group, news-talk WBEN (930) and sports WGR (550). By holding on to 1520, the only other viable full-market AM signal in Buffalo, Entercom has long prevented competitors from encroaching on its valuable spoken-word turf. For years, that’s meant keeping talk competition away from WBEN, but with that job accomplished, Entercom now wants to throw an additional punch against Cumulus’ WHLD (1270 Niagara Falls), which has been challenging WGR’s dominance with its own sports format driven mainly by CBS Sports Radio. By adding a full-time ESPN Radio outlet to the ESPN product that already fills non-local slots on WGR, Entercom provides some protection to its big gun in town.
While there won’t be any local weekday talk on “ESPN 1520,” WWKB will continue to carry Buffalo Bisons minor-league baseball, as it’s been doing for years; it will also simulcast Sabres games with WGR, giving the Sabres a nice clear-channel AM voice for their night games.
*It’s tough to fight Comcast, at least if you’re an LPTV station in NEW HAMPSHIRE. Despite enlisting local politicians in its fight to retain cable carriage, WYCN-LP (Channel 13) in Nashua lost its spot on area Comcast systems at the end of August, and without cable visibility in an area of very low over-the-air usage, station managers Carolyn Choate and Gordon Jackson say they can’t keep going with their local programming, which came to at least a temporary end when the station left the cable dial. (While WYCN won’t say so publicly, its long-term future has been in question anyway since spectrum speculator OTA Broadcasting bought the license from Bill Binnie.)
*A radio sale in northern NEW JERSEY: WXMC (1310 Parsippany-Troy Hills) is changing hands, going from James J. Chladek to Edison-based World India Radio, led by Hasmukh Shah. World India Radio is paying $30,000 for the license to the station, which will presumably change format from its present Spanish tropical programming to an Indian-oriented format. (WXMC’s studio and transmitter real estate is held by True Love Productions, Inc., which is selling it to Shah in a separate transaction.)
*There’s an airstaff now at CANADA‘s newest big-market station. Central Ontario Broadcasting’s “Indie 88” (CIND 88.1) introduced its full lineup to Toronto listeners last week, starting with the “Indie88 Mornings with Brian, Matt and Candice,” hosted by Brian Bailey, Candice Knihnitski and musician Matt Hart. Music director Raina Douris will be heard weekday afternoons, Carlin and LoriAnn will handle middays and weekends, and Dave “Bookie” Bookman will host a Sunday night show.
Five Years Ago: September 7, 2009
Ten Years Ago: September 8, 2004
*The “Station of the Stars” is no more in eastern PENNSYLVANIA. Greater Media pulled the plug on the standards format on WPEN (950 Philadelphia) last Wednesday morning (Sept. 1) at 8, replacing it with a “Real Oldies”-style format that focuses on 50s and 60s pop. Charlie Bennett’s doing mornings, followed by Kim Martin in middays and Philly radio legend Jim Nettleton in afternoons. The new WPEN also includes “the Geator,” Jerry Blavat, with a show at noon on weekdays and a longer shift on weekends.And Philadelphia is getting closer to having a new AM signal: out in McConnellsburg, WVFC (1530) changed calls to WFYL last week, a sign (we think) that its move to 1180 in King of Prussia (and a new life as a 510-watt daytimer) is impending. (An interesting note: WFYL’s calls are quite similar to those of Salem’s WFIL in Philadelphia, just as sister station WPYT 660 Wilkinsburg’s are to Salem’s WPIT in Pittsburgh. Is something in the works there?)
Out at the other end of the Keystone State, Magnum Broadcasting (owner of WZYY 106.9 Renovo PA) is buying WUBZ (105.9) and WPHB (1260) in Phillipsburg (just outside State College) for a reported $2 million.
Dan Vilkie’s Vilkie Communications is buying WGRP (940 Greenville) outright for $50,000. And we can now put a price tag on Mercyhurst College’s purchase of what’s now WYNE (1530 North East) from Corry Communications – $110,000, of which Mercyhurst pays $30,000 in cash, with the rest being considered an $80,000 gift to the college.
*CONNECTICUT Public Broadcasting is making the big move from its longtime home at 240 New Britain Avenue in Hartford to its new digs at 1049 Asylum Avenue. The new studios will double the amount of studio space available to Connecticut Public TV and “WNPR,” Connecticut Public RadioIn RHODE ISLAND, Ernie Anastos is selling off WNRI (1380 Woonsocket), which changes hands to Roger Bouchard’s Bouchard Broadcasting for $900,000.
*Robert Fuller is getting out of broadcast ownership by selling off his last remaining station, WNBP (1450) in Newburyport, MASSACHUSETTS.
Fuller is selling the station to another local North Shore operator, Todd Tanger, who also owns WBOQ (104.9 Gloucester). While WBOQ’s soft AC/oldies format isn’t all that far afield from WNBP’s standards/full service format, Tanger says there won’t be major changes to WNBP’s staff or programming.
*One of Radio-CANADA‘s national French-language radio networks has a new identity this week. The former “chaine culturelle,” the old Radio-Canada FM Stereo service, is now branded as “Espace Musique,” reflecting the change of programming away from cultural talk and towards an all-music format that includes heavy doses of jazz and rock along with classical music.
Fifteen Years Ago: September 10, 1999
We’re back from vacation (about which much more later), only to find yet another media mega-deal awaiting us: the CBS-Viacom merger, undoing the 1970 spin-off that created Viacom in the first place.
From our narrow Northeast broadcasting perspective, this has just one immediate effect: assuming all the appropriate regulatory approvals, it creates Boston’s first TV duopoly, pairing CBS’ WBZ (Ch. 4) with Viacom’s WSBK (Channel 38, and its Providence LMA, WLWC 28 New Bedford). The rumors are already aswirl about what a duopolized channel 38 could look like, especially if (as expected), CBS/Viacom is forced to spin off the UPN network. Could the market see a return of “WBZ News 4 on TV 38”? (And what of Detroit, where CBS’s WWJ-TV has no news department, but Viacom’s WKBD is the company’s only station that still has nightly news?)
As with all the big deals, we’ll be following this one closely, with updates to follow as required.
“FM Talk 96.9” is finding its legs on (mumble it quickly now, 10 dB under the music bed!) WSJZ Boston. Local programming kicked off this week with San Diego’s Stacy Taylor following Don Imus at 10AM (along with, at least the first day, CNN network feeds that weren’t properly potted down!), one day’s worth of Mike Barnicle, and former WRKO night guy Jay Severin, among others. It’s now sounding as though Taylor, anyway, is only a temporary host, and we suspect we’ll have more programming changes to talk about soon as 96.9 settles in.
Established talker WRKO (680) isn’t taking all this lying down — it’s bolstering its local identity by dropping Metro Networks news service to return to in-house news, led by market veteran Rod Fritz. He’s coming back from exile in the land of PR to head up a morning news block to replace the Jeff Katz/Darlene McCarthy show. We also hear Andy Moes and Lori Kramer will have roles to play in ‘RKO’s latest reincarnation.
Up in NEW HAMPSHIRE, Manchester’s WKBR (1250) is getting yet another new identity, dropping One-on-One Sports to go country. Most of the day will come from ABC’s “Real Country,” but we hear Sean Sullivan from WYRY (104.9 Hinsdale) is joining the station to do mornings and serve as station manager. We hear WKBR will continue to originate from the studios of WXRV over in Haverhill, Mass. — and we wouldn’t be one bit surprised to hear “K-Bear 1250” as the non-ID.
A station sale tops VERMONT news this week, with Excalibur Media adding WCVR (102.1) and WWWT (1320) in Randolph to its existing group of WZRT (97.1)/WSYB (1380) Rutland and WXNT (92.1) Port Henry NY. Under current owners Ed and Margaret Stokes, the stations had been running ABC’s Real Country format.
Tons of news from NEW YORK over the last two weeks, and we’ll tackle it from west to east, starting in Buffalo. That’s where Mercury Communications is paying $535,000 to add WHLD (1270 Niagara Falls) to its station group (which includes ethnic WMNY, rock WGRF, modern rock WEDG, and oldies WHTT). Observant readers will recall that WHLD holds a CP to move from Grand Island to the WNED (970) site south of Buffalo, pumping a directional signal right over the heart of the city, and we’ll be not one bit surprised to see some of the leased-time programming now on WMNY move to the stronger signal.
Down to greater Elmira for a moment, to note a call change at WGMF (1490) in Watkins Glen. The little AM is shedding the only calls it’s ever had (they date back to the old AM 1500 daytime days and stand for “Watkins Glen – Montour Falls”) in favor of WBZD, which apparently stands for nothing in particular. A field trip to the Glen will no doubt follow to check this one out…
(As long as we’re down that way, two call changes across the Pennsylvania line: WHGL 1310 in Troy changes to WTZN, and we suspect an end to the simulcast with FM 100.3 in the process; and in the Williamsport market, WHTO 93.3 Muncy has dropped the hits and “Hot 93” to go oldies as WBZD-FM — and yes, it’s co-owned with the new WBZD(AM) up in Watkins Glen. Call warehousing, perhaps?)