In this week’s issue… Remembering WBCN’s “News Dissector” – WABC-TV’s Lisa Colagrossi dies suddenly – Jim Quinn’s radio return – Ron Bee, RIP – Buffalo’s Carl Spavento and Scott Cleveland, too

By SCOTT FYBUSH

Jump to: MENHVTMARICTNYNJ PACanada

*It’s hard to remember another week in recent NERW history in which we’ve had the sad task of writing as many obituaries as we did this week, and we lead with the loss of Danny Schechter, who died Thursday of pancreatic cancer at age 72.

schechterFor Bostonians of a certain age, Schechter’s name is inevitably followed by “…the News Dissector,” the title he invented for himself at WBCN (104.1), where he presided over one of radio’s most unusual news operations during a tenure that began in 1970. Instead of dry newscasts, Schechter crafted a new kind of radio news for freeform FM radio, mixing music, commentary and a very healthy dose of anti-authoritarianism into the segments he weaved through Charles Laquidara’s morning show.

In the 1980s, Schechter went mainstream(-ish), returning to his native New York City to work as a producer for CNN and ABC, where he contributed segments to “20/20” in its early years. Along the way, he championed the cause of Nelson Mandela in the years leading up to his release from prison, working closely with other activists such as Steve Van Zandt to keep Mandela in the American eye. In the 1990s, Schechter found himself at the edge of public television. His company Globalvision produced top-notch shows such as “South Africa Now” and “Rights and Wrongs” that nonetheless struggled to get national carriage as the public TV system shied from controversial topics.

Schechter wrote several books about the state of journalism and the media and had become an active new-media voice in recent years. In the days since his death, tributes have been pouring forth from all corners of the media landscape – you can see many of them at the Facebook memorial page being curated by his daughter, Sarah, and we’d point to a notable one from our media colleague Dan Kennedy, here, as well.

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wabc-colagrossi*It was a sad week at NEW YORK City’s WABC-TV (Channel 7), where reporter Lisa Colagrossi died suddenly on Friday after suffering a brain aneurysm right after a live shot on the station’s noon newscast. Colagrossi was rushed to a hospital, but not in time to save her. She’d been at WABC-TV since 2001, and before that had worked at WCPX (now WKMG) in Orlando and at WKYC in her native Cleveland. Colagrossi was just 49; she’s survived by a husband and two sons, ages 11 and 14.

In Syracuse, they’re mourning longtime morning man Ron Bee, whose career started on the “Rick and Ron” morning show with Rick Gary at WOLF (1490) and went on to include stints at WSEN (92.1/1050), WRRB (107.9, now WWHT) and a long run alongside Becky Palmer on the WBBS (B104.7) morning show. Bee retired from Clear Channel in 2007 after a car crash that led to the loss of his voice. More recently, he’d been in Seattle battling leukemia, which he attributed to Agent Orange exposure from his service in Vietnam. A stem-cell transplant last fall didn’t take, and Bee died Wednesday.

In Buffalo, they’re mourning Carl Spavento, who was an old-school fixture on the Queen City’s airwaves for half a century. Spavento was chief announcer at WBUF (92.9) in the 1960s, and a newscaster in a later incarnation of the station. Spavento also managed WBNY (1400/96.1) and did news at WYSL (1400)/WPHD (103.3). He retired in 1993 and was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1999. Spavento was 96.

When Howard Sgoda was on the air at Buffalo’s WNYS (1120/104.1) in the 1980s, and then for almost 20 years on morning drive at WXRL (1300 Lancaster), he was known as “Scott Cleveland” – and now his voice, too, has been silenced. Cleveland had also worked in northern Pennsylvania at WHLM-FM (106.5) in Bloomsburg and WKYN (97.5) in St. Mary’s in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was just 53 when he died on Friday.

*A promotion at Cumulus in New York City: veteran manager Maire Mason is now VP/GM at “Nash” WNSH (94.7 Newark), where she moves up after two years as general sales manager at WABC/WPLJ down the hall.

Rick Jordan is heading back to radio promotion after three and a half years as PD at WCJW in Warsaw. “RJ” helped transform CJ Country from a sleepy daytime-only AM into a network of five FM translators that covers most of the terrain between Buffalo and Rochester. He’s the new Music Row promotion manager for Grassroots Records, starting today, but he’ll remain based in the Rochester area; over at CJ, the PD opening has yet to be filled.

In Massena, Sanford Cook is back at WMSA (1340), seven months after health problems took him off “The Morning Extravaganza.” Listeners helped raise money to pay Cook’s medical bills and get him back on the air at the station where he’s been for forty-some years. No sooner did Cook get back on the air than WMSA was knocked back off the air Friday by transmitter problems. A weekend Rotary Club fundraiser was moved to sister station WVLF (96.1) remote while the 1340 transmitter was repaired.

quinn*Pittsburgh radio legend Jim Quinn will soon be back on the air – but not, at least at first, in western PENNSYLVANIA. Quinn’s show disappeared abruptly from flagship WPGB (104.7 Pittsburgh) in November 2013, almost exactly a decade after Quinn moved there from his previous morning spot at WRRK (96.9).

A plan to bring Quinn back to the air when WPGB’s conservative talk format moved down the dial to WJAS (1320) last summer fell apart, reportedly over streaming rights. But Quinn’s most loyal affiliate, WYSL (1040 Avon) in the Rochester market, was still pushing for his return, and now WYSL owner Bob Savage is getting his wish. Savage (who worked with Quinn many years ago at the old “13Q,” WKTQ, the station now known as WJAS) tells NERW he’s installed a home studio for Quinn, and beginning April 1 he’ll be back on the airwaves of WYSL, with other affiliates perhaps to be named later. (There’s also no deal yet to bring Quinn’s sidekick, Rose Somma Tennent, back to “The War Room.”)

*There are several format changes teed up for the Keystone State on April 1: in Philadelphia, “DJ Frankie” Rodriguez is planning an April Fool’s Day launch for a new HD/translator Spanish hits format that he’s planning to call “Super Q” (at least until the cease-and-desist arrives from iHeart’s WIOQ, the Philly top-40 signal known for decades as “Q102.”) Rodriguez is leasing the HD3 of Greater Media’s WPEN-FM (97.5) to feed the format to translator W246AQ (97.1 Collingwood NJ), which runs 10 watts from the PSFS Building in center city Philadelphia and is owned by Priority Radio, which has been using the translator as a relay of its WXHL (89.1 Christiana DE). Rodriguez comes to Philadelphia from WKKB (100.3 Middletown RI), where he was PD and morning man.

Hall Communications has a format change on the way at its WLPA (1490 Lancaster). With its ESPN Radio programming now reaching a wider swath of central Pennsylvania by way of WLPA-FM (92.7 Starview), there are promos running now ahead of an April 1 format change on the AM side to the “America’s Best Music” satellite standards format.

Cumulus has hired a new PD/afternoon jock for its Scranton-market “Nash,” WSJR (93.7 Dallas). Mike Vincent starts his new gig there April 1, replacing Mark Stevens.

Larry Herbster’s long journey through TV management started in his native Scranton, and ended there as well, at the helm of WBRE-TV (Channel 28). But along the way, Herbster rose through the ranks of Gannett (at WUSA-TV in Washington and WGRZ-TV in Buffalo) and Nexstar, where he served as GM of WROC-TV (Channel 8) in Rochester before moving to WBRE and sister station WYOU-TV (Channel 22). Herbster retired from WBRE in 2004; he died last Monday, at age 71.

Two Pennsylvania LPTVs are changing hands, and the eye-popping price for one of them shows how important that “class A” designation has become at a time when class-A TVs are eligible to take part in the upcoming spectrum auction. LocusPoint Networks LLC, a big prospective player in that spectrum fight, is paying Abacus Television $1.3 million for WQVC-CA (Channel 46) in Greensburg; up the road in Erie, Channel 45 Media Association is getting just $37,500 from DTV America Corp. for as-yet-unbuilt W45EC-D, which won’t be eligible for an auction payout.

wror*We don’t often write much about the monthly ripples in Nielsen Audio ratings, but we can’t let the latest monthly PPM numbers from eastern MASSACHUSETTS go without some comment. In an unaccustomed spot at the very top of the 12+ heap in the Boston market is Greater Media’s WROR (105.7), which went up from 6.9 in January to 7.8 in February to take its first-ever #1 position with the highest ratings in the long history of that frequency. (Thanks to ratings guru Chris Huff in Houston for verifying that!)

The brutal winter weather made for big wins for the market’s news stations, too: WBZ (1030) landed in second place, and its 7.6 equalled the total for the two NPR news outlets in town, WBUR-FM (4.2) and WGBH (3.4, its best-ever showing). WRKO without Howie Carr? Don’t ask – it slumped to a 1.4, and Carr’s temporary home on WMEX (1510) didn’t register, though that’s likely because it didn’t buy the book. (As for the rumors that WMEX has been sold? Nothing had been filed with the FCC as of Friday.)

There’s a new LPFM on the air in Lynn: WCDV-LP (89.3) is a rare LP on the “educational” side of the 92 MHz line, and it’s licensed to Iglesia Cristiana Torrente de Cedron, broadcasting Spanish-language religious programming.  Up in the Merrimack Valley, Tim Coco and his WHAV.net crew have secured the actual WHAV-LP calls for their CP in Haverhill on 97.9, returning the calls to the city of their origin (on what’s now WCEC 1490) after they’d been assigned to a shipboard radio transmitter for the last few years.

On Cape Ann, UMass is moving ahead with its surprise grant of 91.5 in Gloucester. The long-dormant app had initially been tossed by the FCC for a typo in its coordinates, leading to the grant of 91.5 to WWRN in Rockport instead, but then the FCC revisited the situation and restored the UMass bid. WWRN is on the way down the dial to a new home on 88.5, and UMass recently filed new paperwork to keep the data on its 91.5 application current. When it’s built, the new signal will relay WUMB-FM (91.9) from Boston.

*Will Will Flemming be the last voice of the Pawtucket Red Sox? We’ll have our full Baseball on the Radio roundup next week, but we note this week that the AAA team, now planning a move within RHODE ISLAND to a new Providence ballpark in the next few years, has hired the former voice of the Indianapolis Indians as its radio announcer for the 2015 season. Flemming’s older brother Dave called PawSox games from 2001-2003 before joining the San Francisco Giants’ broadcast team. At McCoy Stadium, Will Flemming replaces Jeff Levering (now with the Brewers) alongside Josh Maurer in the radio booth.

wwbbWe can’t let the Providence ratings go unmentioned, either: iHeart knew it would take a hit when it downgraded the signal of top-rated WWBB (101.5), but was a drop from 7.9 (and third place, 12+) in December all the way to 4.7 (and seventh place) part of the business plan? (So far, there’s been no corresponding gain for the beneficiary of the WWBB downgrade, “Bull” WBWL in the Boston market, though the planned upgrades there are still incomplete.)

*Former CONNECTICUT governor and WTIC (1080 Hartford) talk host John Rowland was sentenced last week to 30 months behind bars for hiding the money he received to work on a losing congressional campaign. Rowland’s talk show came up at his sentencing, where federal judge Janet Arterton cited what she said was his “total contempt for those laws which was made abundantly clear at the trial, including his shameless use of his radio talk show to advantage one candidate.” If Rowland doesn’t avoid prison time on appeal, it will be his second prison term after pleading guilty to a corruption charge and resigning his office in 2004.

There’s a Connecticut obituary, too, which we were remiss in not reporting last week: Neil Jackson’s long radio career included time in New Hampshire at WKBK in Keene and WCNL in Newport, in the Boston market at WROR and most prominently in Hartford at WYSR (104.1, now WMRQ), WZMX and WTIC-FM. Jackson was most recently working at ESPN in Bristol. Jackson, whose real name was Neil Patrizzi, died March 11 at age 64 after a long fight with prostate cancer.

*A VERMONT religious station is modifying its plans to relocate. WFTF (90.5 Rutland) filed its application to move to Pico Peak from the church that used to own it – but at the same time, another Christian station, WVFA (90.5 Lebanon NH), also filed for a conflicting power boost. Now Christian Ministries instead hopes to move WFTF up the dial to 90.9, still with the power cut to 60 watts and big height increase to 2230′ it had originally sought on 90.5. WFTF is currently carrying Air1 programming from EMF Broadcasting.

In Warren, WMRW-LP (95.1) is raising money to build out its frequency shift to 94.3. The switch, granted in 2013, will get WMRW away from co-channel interference with CBF (95.1) in Montreal, which signed on just before WMRW did in 2004. The move includes a new tower location off East Warren Road, three miles from its present site.

*Spring in northern MAINE will arrive (if it ever does at all) with one fewer AM signal in Aroostook County. WEGP (1390 Presque Isle) is off the air indefinitely while its owners look for a buyer; the 25 kW daytime signal apparently became too expensive to keep running with its former talk format.

In Dixfield, along the Androscoggin River just east of Rumford, mark down WZTZ-LP as the new calls for 102.3, which will belong to River Valley Community Ministries.

*An obituary from CANADA, too: In Nova Scotia, Allan Rowe used a long career in broadcasting to transition into politics a few years back, but his political career was cut short by an aneurysm in February from which he didn’t recover. Rowe worked at CJYQ in Newfoundland in the 1980s, then for ATV in Halifax. For 17 years, from 1995 until 2012, Rowe was a senior anchor, producer and news director for Global in Halifax. He ran for the Nova Scotia legislative assembly in 2013 on the Liberal ticket and won his seat handily. Rowe was just 58 when he died last Monday.

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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, 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: March 24, 2014

*When longtime WEEI host Glenn Ordway got back behind a microphone a week ago for the launch of his new streaming sports talk show, it didn’t seem wildly exciting, at least not on the surface – the new website at SportsTalkBoston.com was barely even a placeholder, the audio levels were all over the map, and the talk wasn’t very different from what WEEI and archrival WBZ-FM (98.5 the Sports Hub) already fill the airwaves with hour after hour.

sportstalkbostonBut if other ex-WEEI hosts have failed to set the world on fire after going out on their own (just ask Pete Sheppard, who tried his own show up the dial on WUFC 1510 before ending up working for Ordway), Ordway himself is a little different. With 27 years at WEEI under his belt, he’s a far better-known quantity than most ex-WEEIers – and he has more powerful allies, too, like one of his successors as WEEI’s top programmer, Jason Wolfe.

Wolfe also got the axe as part of Entercom’s attempt to overhaul WEEI last year, and as of April 10th, he’ll be on board at Ordway’s SportsTalkBoston as “chief content officer,” overseeing the expansion of programming beyond the 3-6 PM “Big Show Unfiltered” that’s now the sole offering there. Even as a single-show producer, SportsTalkBoston is already getting much better reach than your average podcast outlet. Starting today, “Big Show Unfiltered” will be heard nationwide on SiriusXM, and Wolfe says he’s looking for more outlets, too…which means the sports rivalry between WEEI and WBZ-FM may have a third serious contender in the mix now.

A veteran of even longer standing is returning to the airwaves of New York City. When John R. Gambling left WOR (710) at the end of 2013, there was a sense in the air that the host wasn’t quite ready to end the 88-year run of Gamblings on the radio in the city. Sure enough, last week brought the announcement that Gambling is reuniting with former WOR GM Jerry Crowley, in the former WOR studios at 111 Broadway, now home to Salem talker WNYM (970 Hackensack NJ).

Starting April 14, Gambling will take the 11 AM to 1 PM shift on “970 the Answer,” adding a second local show two hours after morning host Joe Piscopo signs off. Producer Frank Morano, who’s part of the Piscopo morning show, will join Gambling on the air from time to time, especially when Gambling’s broadcasting from his winter home in Florida.

*It’s been a long road back from the brink of oblivion, but WKAL (1450 Rome) is once again serving as a local radio voice for a city that’s long been served mostly by stations from nearby Utica. WKAL signed on way back in 1946, owned by the Kallett family and operating out of the co-owned Capitol Theater. For more than 25 years, the 1450 signal has been either a simulcast of an FM station (former sister WFRG 96.1, now WODZ and operating from Utica), or programmed from out of town with a satellite-delivered religious format (under Bible Broadcasting Network, as WYFY), or silent entirely.

But California broadcaster Ron Frisch didn’t want to see the station go dark, and for the last three years he’s been working to revive it after buying it from BBN. For the last few months, Frisch and engineer Bob Carter have been building out new studios in an office building on Black River Boulevard in Rome and testing the signal with programming from the 1920s Radio Network – and as of March 11, Frisch has WKAL back up and running with full commercial operation as “Talkradio 1450 WKAL.”

Five Years Ago: March 22, 2010

“Hello, Luv – this is Ron Lundy from the greatest city in the world!” That was the greeting Ron Lundy gave his listeners at the start of each airshift for more than three decades in New York radio, first as a key part of the airstaff at WABC (770) and then as an oldies jock on WCBS-FM (101.1).

The Memphis native returned to the south after retiring from WCBS-FM in 1997, and it was there that he died last Monday (March 15) at age 75. Lundy came to New York in 1965 after a five-year run as the “WIL Child” of St. Louis top-40 station WIL (1430), where he crossed paths with another up-and-coming DJ by the name of Dan Ingram. Ingram recommended Lundy for an overnight opening at WABC, and it didn’t take long at all for Lundy to get bumped up to the midday shift, which remained his home for the rest of his New York radio career – and it was Lundy and Ingram, side-by-side in the famous eighth-floor studio, who signed off WABC’s top-40 format in 1982. Two years later Lundy was back on the air at WCBS-FM, and it was by his own choice that he left the midday shift there in September 1997 to move to Mississippi with his wife Shirley.

If it’s dedication you’re looking for, the folks at northern NEW JERSEY’s WGHT (1500 Pompton Lakes) might be good people to ask. As we’d mentioned last week, the little AM station sits right on the banks of the Ramapo River, which crested at some seven feet above flood stage after that “storm without a name” that ravaged the East Coast. WGHT’s studios take on water when that happens, and this time it was a whopping 13 feet of water that inundated the lower two floors of the building. Fortunately, the WGHT facility was designed for just such an event: the studios and transmitter are on the top floor, and the three towers and transmission lines are elevated high above the swampy land out back – and that meant that WGHT was able to stay on the air with emergency information throughout the storm and its aftermath, though staffers had to use a fire boat to get to the building.

In Philadelphia, the wrecking ball is leveling the famed “Concrete Donut” at City Line and Monument, the round studio building that WFIL radio and TV built in 1964 as its state-of-the-art new home. That building replaced the building at 46th and Market that went up in the late forties as one of the first purpose-built TV studios (and the eventual birthplace of “American Bandstand”); by the turn of the century, though, the building had become too cramped for the former WFIL-TV, now WPVI (Channel 6). The ABC-owned station built another state-of-the-art building last year right next door to the 1964 building, and the pressing need for more parking on the site meant the end for the “Concrete Donut,” shown here in a photo from last September, just after WPVI moved out.

There’s a significant obituary leading off our MASSACHUSETTS news this week as well. While the general public will remember Edmund Dinis as the district attorney who prosecuted the Chappaquiddick case, the New England radio community knows Dinis as the longtime owner of WJFD (97.3 New Bedford), the most prominent broadcast voice for the Portuguese community that’s such an important part of the region. The son of an Azorean immigrant, Dinis entered politics on the New Bedford city council in the early fifties, later serving as a state senator before becoming Bristol County district attorney in 1959. On a trajectory to higher office, Dinis’ political career was derailed by Chappaquiddick; controversy over his inquest into the case contributed to his reelection loss in 1970, and subsequent bids for Congress in 1976 and for a return to the DA’s office in 1982 failed as well.

Out of office, Dinis returned to his career as an attorney, but along the way took an interest in media. In 1975, he bought what was then WGCY from Gray Communications, renaming the all-Portuguese station WJFD after the initials of his father, Jacinto F. Dinis. Dinis later added a Springfield station, WSPR (1270), to his holdings, a prelude to what proved to be an unsuccessful attempt to build a new AM signal, WLAW (1270 North Dartmouth), on the South Coast. Had the AM station been built, it would likely have taken the Portuguese format from WJFD, allowing the FM to flip to an English-language format; in the end, battles with zoning authorities forced Dinis to allow the construction permit to expire unbuilt just before the turn of the century. Dinis died March 14 at age 85; for now, “Radio Globo” continues to be run without changes, though speculation is already swirling about the station’s future.

Ten Years Ago: March 21, 2005

Back in the fifties and sixties, just about every TV market had its own beloved local kid’s show host. In Boston, it was “Big Brother” Bob Emery and Rex Trailer; in Buffalo, Dave Thomas and “Rocketship 7.” And in NEW HAMPSHIRE, it was “Uncle Gus” Bernier on Manchester’s WMUR-TV (Channel 9). Bernier joined WMUR radio (610, now WGIR) in 1944 as an announcer, moving over to the TV side of the operation a few years after its 1954 debut. “Uncle Gus” began by accident, according to Ed Brouder’s authoritative history of New Hampshire broadcasting, Granite and Ether, when station manager David O’Shea asked Bernier to go into the studio and introduce the afternoon cartoon show. The rest was two decades of history, as an appearance on the “Uncle Gus Show” became a rite of passage for young New Hampshirites (after a wait that could last a year and a half.) Bernier retired to the Florida Keys, later moving to Hawaii, where he died in his sleep Saturday morning. He was 85.

Meanwhile on the present-day Granite State radio dial, Nashua’s WHOB (106.3) indeed made the flip to “Frank FM” on Thursday, replacing its hot AC with classic hits. WHOB morning drive host Sarah Sullivan adds PD duties, and new calls WFNQ are said to be on the way.

One of the iconic voices of NEW YORK radio has died. Ted Brown (along with his then-wife, “the Redhead”) was the morning voice on WMGM (1050) from 1950 until 1962, when the station returned to its former calls of WHN. Brown soon headed up the dial to WNEW (1130) and afternoons (mornings at that point still being the domain of Klavan and Finch), where he’d remain for most of the decade, becoming known for his wry humor and for on-air stunts that included getting drunk on the air at holiday time (with a police officer present) to illustrate the dangers of drunk driving. In 1970, Brown moved to afternoons on WNBC (660) and went nationwide as one of the “communicators” on NBC’s weekend Monitor. He returned to WNEW’s afternoon drive in 1972, moving to mornings in 1978 upon Gene Klavan’s retirement and remaining there until his own retirement a decade later. Brown returned to WNEW’s airwaves on the station’s final day in 1993, becoming one of the last voices heard there before WNEW signed off for good. In later years, Ted was heard on WRIV (1390 Riverhead) and on WVNJ (1160 Oakland NJ). He suffered a stroke in 1996 that left him incapacitated. Brown died in his sleep Sunday morning (Mar. 20) at his New York home.

Fifteen Years Ago: March 24, 2000

Just outside Bangor, Communications Capital Managers strikes again, adding one more station to the group it’s assembling in the market (WVOM/WBYA, WKSQ, WLKE, WBFB). This time, it’s WGUY (102.1 Dexter), for the price tag of $1.475 million, from Dan Priestly’s Innovative Advertising Consultants. NERW thinks WGUY would make a useful simulcast to one of the other rimshots in the group…WBYA, perhaps?

Down to MASSACHUSETTS we go, to find yet another high-powered AM signal on its way to the airwaves. Carter Broadcasting’s WCRN (830 Worcester) has quietly become that city’s most potent AM signal, especially with the grant this week of a daytime power increase from 5 kilowatts to 50. WCRN’s new daytime signal will use the same three towers and the same pattern as the current signal, nulling towards the southwest to protect WRYM (840) in New Britain, Connecticut.

Coming soon to a TV dial near you: “WHUB.” That’s the new name for USA Broadcasting’s home-shopping outlet, now known as WHSH (Channel 66) in Marlborough, and before that as music-video WVJV “V66.” July 1 will be the starting date for the new programming on the independent station, following in the heels of USA’s WAMI in Miami, KSTR Dallas, and WHOT Atlanta. Look for WHUB-TV to build downtown studios and try to line up major-league sports committments to build its image in town, just like the other three stations have done.

The rumors in RHODE ISLAND turned out to be true: Steve Mindich is indeed buying WWRX (103.7 Westerly) from Clear Channel in one of the final spinoffs of the AMFM purchase. No price has been put on the deal, though we’re hearing 16-18 times cash flow rumored. The move will give Mindich’s FNX modern-rock network a huge boost to the south, picking up everywhere from the far southern suburbs of Boston (where flagship WFNX 101.7 Lynn is blasted by Clear Channel’s WWBB 101.5 Providence) all the way to eastern Connecticut.

Twenty Years Ago: March 28, 1995

Although Haverhill MA’s WHAV 1490 (1 kw ND-U) flipped from oldies to Spanish talk a few weeks ago, the fireworks have just started. Seems the whole thing is closely intertwined with the long-running rivalry between the small Haverhill Gazette and its much larger competitor 10 miles away in Lawrence, the “Eagle Tribune.” The Gazette put WHAV on the air some 50 years ago, and sold it about a decade ago, with the hope that WHAV would continue to be a local voice for news and public affairs. So the Gazette’s local owners were distressed to hear WHAV becoming the second all-Spanish station in the Merrimack Valley (and the fourth to run some Spanish), and with a satellite format out of LA, at that! To make matters worse, WHAV’s new operators (and, with an LMA-to-buy, its prospective new owners) apparently have financial ties with the Eagle Tribune! (This is the same firm that owns and operates WNNW, 1110 in Salem NH, serving Lawrence and Haverhill with a Spanish format).

In the meantime, WCCM in Lawrence has started paying much more attention to Haverhill news, and today a Gazette official turned up on WCCM’s talk show to talk about how the Gazette now wants to lead a fight to prevent this LMA from becoming a sale…and to bring WHAV back to local news etc. Among the things the Gazette will be focusing on will be some problems with the way the LMA is working (most noticeably, the near-complete lack of legal IDs on WHAV – I listened for 2 hours this weekend and heard not a one), and perhaps a problem with unauthorized transfer of main studio location as well (WHAV is apparently operating from WNNW’s studio at 462 Merrimack St., Methuen). We shall see where this all goes.

WBMA 890 – yes, them again – launched their first local sports talk show Monday morning 3/27, as former Red Sox player Rico Petrocelli hosted 3 hours from 6-9am. It’s the first break in the satellite Prime Sports since it debuted last month. Studios are now at “a temporary location in Kendall Square, Cambridge,” and will reportedly move to Flagship Wharf, Charlestown, soon.

1 COMMENT

  1. What a sad week in NERW land! I remember listening to Danny every morning on the Charles Laquidara show, and boy did he make the newscasts an experience. God bless the News Dissector!

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