By SCOTT FYBUSH
Remember how we said it was a quiet post-July 4 week? That changed in a hurry. Inside this NERW Extra, updates on several big breaking stories, including the CBS Radio cutbacks, a morning host gone missing in Boston and a PD change in New York.
*First up, the surprise sale of Connoisseur Media: Petrus Holdings, part of Ross Perot’s Texas-based empire, announced Wednesday that it’s partnering with Jeff Warshaw and the current Connoisseur management team to acquire the company and its 42 stations. No terms were announced for the deal, which will keep Warshaw in charge as his original funder, venture capital firm Farallon, exits.
Will Petrus put more money behind Warshaw’s expansion plans for Connoisseur, which have recently focused on what it calls the “Golden Ring” surrounding New Jersey? The company has made some dramatic moves in recent years, acquiring Buckley’s Connecticut stations and WALK-FM, the former Clear Channel station on Long Island that had been in a divestiture trust for years.
*There’s no question CBS Radio is cutting back on staffing, but some caution is in order about some of the most hyperbolic trade-media reports making the rounds. Has the company really cut 200 or more jobs since the start of the year? Perhaps – but in a stealthy way, for the most part. In New York, the most visible cut is at WWFS (Fresh 102.7), which now has precisely zero fulltime air personalities since the quiet dismissal a few weeks ago of Kim Berk, the surviving half of the “Jim and Kim” morning show that Fresh imported from Long Island. Across the hallway at WCBS (880), it’s emphatically not true that all part-timers have been let go; indeed, the only apparent change there for now is the addition of a full 30-minute CBS Evening News simulcast at 6:30 weeknights and an increased use of sports reporters from sister station WFAN (660/101.9) downstairs. In Philadelphia, Vince Hill is out a few years ahead of his planned retirement as business editor at KYW (1060); Hill had been with KYW since 1979, when he came on board as the station’s youngest anchor. We’ll have a full compilation of CBS dismissals in Monday’s issue.
In Boston, the big missing air personality isn’t at CBS but rather at iHeart Media, where Ramiro Torres and Santi DeOleo, his producer/co-host, have been pulled off the air at WJMN (Jam’n 94.5) ahead of the expiration of Torres’ contract. That moves Maverick to mornings from afternoons for now alongside Ashlee Feldman – and it raises the possibility that Torres could be looking to follow some of his former WJMN colleagues such as Pebbles and Melissa over to Greater Media’s WBQT (Hot 96.9) if iHeart won’t meet his renewal terms.
And in New York, there’s a realignment of programming staff at Cumulus’ WPLJ (95.5). Rick Gillette, formerly downtown at CBS Radio’s WNOW-FM (now WBMP 92.3), has been assisting WPLJ PD in rebuilding the station – and now he’s coming on board as WPLJ’s new PD, pushing Fox to assistant PD. Gillette returns to New York from Washington, where his former PD duties at Cumulus’ troubled WRQX (107.3) will be filled by Jan Jeffries, who relocates from Chicago’s WLS-FM.
Much more in our next full issue, Monday July 20!