In this week’s issue… Cumulus in the Land of the Penny Stocks – WFXT’s controversial new logo – WALL’s return to local radio – FCC investigates Chinese programming – Canadian AMs buy more time



cumulus-logo*WASHINGTON, DC – It’s somewhat fitting that this week’s NERW comes to you from our nation’s capital, since our lead story is once again about the woes of Cumulus and our route into town last night took us right past the blinking lights of what will soon be an ex-Cumulus site, the incredibly valuable land under the towers of WMAL (630).

A little over a month past the ouster of the Dickey brothers, it appears Wall Street is again running short on patience with the troubled broadcaster’s attempt to right its leaky financial boat. The share of CMLS that dipped below a dollar during the Radio Show in Atlanta at the end of September traded at just 29 cents when the market closed on Friday, leading NASDAQ to slap a delisting notice on the stock if CEO Mary Berner can’t bring it back. And at least judging by the investor call late last week, she’s running out of options.

That $200 million cash infusion from selling the land out under WMAL and Los Angeles’ KABC? Berner says that’s delayed for various regulatory reasons and unlikely to close before the middle of next year at the earliest.

The digital future? While competitors such as iHeart are ramping up new digital platforms, Cumulus’ quarterly filing shows that it’s written the value of its investment in Rdio and other digital ventures down to zero. Also written down to zero is any goodwill in Westwood One, another stumble in what’s been a very challenging attempt to merge Westwood with Cumulus’ legacy network assets.

Cutting costs through more layoffs? There’s a problem there, too: Berner notes, quite correctly, that the company’s financial woes and its resulting job cuts have made it hard to keep the employees it wants to keep or to attract new employees to replace the ones who’ve left or been cut. It’s as self-inflicted a cut as it gets, of course – but it’s no less serious a problem just because so many of us saw it coming for so long. (In engineering alone, we know of some top-level talent that’s getting ready to take what might ordinarily be seen as a second-tier job just to get away from the risk of staying with Cumulus if the ship goes down. That’s not a good position for any new CEO to find herself occupying.)

Over at RadioInsight, Lance has written two good pieces (here and here) offering some ideas to save what’s left of Cumulus. To those, we’d add our ongoing observation about the way that the Dickeys’ various broadcast acquisitions still maintain some degree of differentiation: it’s the former ABC/Citadel properties that have been dragging Cumulus down, even as other pieces have stayed more solid. The former Susquehanna stations in medium markets? There’s plenty there to salvage, and even at the original small- and medium-market Cumulus stations.

All of which may explain why “Chapter 7” is on the holiday wish list for some of our acquaintances: if Berner does end up turning to bankruptcy, which is as yet far from certain, a Chapter 7 liquidation proceeding would allow stronger operators to take over some of the Cumulus broadcast properties that still have life left in them. Imagine former Citadel leader Larry Wilson swooping in with his newer Alpha Group, for instance, and righting the ship at some of Cumulus’ medium-market properties.

It’s not too late – yet – but Berner has a difficult task ahead of her. It’s one we’ll be watching closely, especially as we hope for the best possible outcome for our friends and readers who are either still suffering with Cumulus or figuring out their future after getting out from under the cloud.

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wfxt-newlogo*TV stations change logos all the time, especially when they get new owners. So why did one particular logo change in MASSACHUSETTS get an unusual amount of attention in the last few weeks?

Blame another TV station hundreds of miles away: at WGN-TV in Chicago, the freewheeling morning show talks about anything and everything to fill six hours a day, and one day last week anchor Larry Potash took off after Boston’s WFXT (Channel 25) in his “Larry’s World” commentary, sarcastically declaring that the new Cox management at the former Fox O&O is hoping that the new look will make up for viewer grumblings about the ouster of popular anchor Maria Stephanos. (A tip of the rabbit ears to Newscast Studio for picking up on Potash’s segment!)

Whether or not WFXT’s new look does anything for the ratings, we have to admit it did strike us as a little, well, reminiscent of the very generically fake station logos that show up in any given episode of “Law & Order” or “Criminal Minds.” We’d love to hear what some of the graphic design experts in the crowd think of it – weigh in below in the comments!

*NERW readers (and a handful of AM listeners in greater Boston and Philadelphia) have known for years that middlemen for the Chinese government are leasing time on otherwise-ignored AM signals for what is, frankly, some of the less impressive programming anywhere on the dial. But what’s old hat to this audience was news to plenty of people when Reuters published an investigative report about James Su’s G&E Studio and the airtime it leases on stations that include WILD (1090 Boston) and WNWR (1540 Philadelphia).

Is China getting much return for the investment? Given that WILD is often operating at nearly-zero modulation, and that both it and WNWR are daytime-only stations with audiences statistically near zero, it’s hard to think the English-language Chinese programming is having any impact at all. The Reuters investigation, on the other hand, with its focus on Washington-market WCRW (1190), did seem to hit home. As of week’s end, the FCC says it’s investigating whether the G&E Studio leases run afoul of rules prohibiting foreign control of US-licensed broadcasters.

*An interesting translator transfer in northern NEW HAMPSHIRE: Shaw Communications is transferring W251BD (98.1 Berlin) to the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce, with no money changing hands. In exchange for taking over operation of the translator, the Chamber will get 60 free 30-second community announcements each week on its parent station, WVMJ (104.5 Conway).

Halfway between Concord and the seacoast, New Hampshire Community Radio has picked calls for its new 94.7 in Northwood: it will be WQNH-LP. (Assuming it can be heard on that frequency, tucked tightly between superpower WHOM 94.9 up on Mount Washington and WJMN 94.5 down in Boston).

wall-west*Does WALL “still have it all”? That’s what listeners in Middletown, NEW YORK will be finding out with today’s relaunch of WALL (1340) under the new ownership of Bud Williamson’s Neversink Media. Williamson swapped several translators for the AM signal, which Townsquare had been running as a simulcast of Spanish “Juan” WEOK (1390 Poughkeepsie), and it should be a win-win. WALL goes back to English today, complete with the return of longtime morning man Mark West (shown here in the new studios last week), who’d been leasing time from Townsquare in recent years. West will be doing his show from new WALL studios on Dolson Road in Middletown.

The WALL programming is also on the HD2 subchannel of Townsquare’s WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie), which in turn feeds translators on 94.9 in Middletown, 94.1 in Chester and 105.7 in Ellenville. And “Juan” is now on the 95.7 translators in Middletown and Poughkeepsie, as well as on WPDH’s HD3.

Across the Hudson, there’s a new VP/market manager at whatever’s left of Cumulus’ WFAS (1230) in White Plains: Frank Vulpi, formerly with Bloomberg and United Stations Radio Networks, has taken that job.

Reports of the death of WBTS-LP (88.5 Redwood) were greatly exaggerated; Betterarts, Inc.’s LPFM up near the St. Lawrence River was indeed briefly deleted by the FCC, but its construction permit was reinstated and it filed for a license to cover just as its CP was expiring on Thursday.

Across the Adirondacks, MyNetwork affiliate WNMN (Channel 40) in Saranac Lake is extricating itself from some hot water with the FCC, and it’s telling that the Commission’s completion of a consent decree process with WNMN’s owner, Channel 61 Associates, focuses more on missing elements in WNMN’s public file than on the fact that the station was built in a different location from its construction permit.

The station will pay $30,000 to settle all of those concerns, and the FCC will renew its license and allow a $225,000 sale to Cross Hill Associates (filed back in 2013) to go through.

wbhx-island*In NEW JERSEY, a second Christmas signal has arrived on the shore: Press Communications flipped WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton) to “99.7 the Island” last week, ending its “Fun” simulcast with hot AC WWZY (107.1 Long Branch).

What will become of this signal after Christmas? It’s a somewhat impaired class A, serving only the southern part of the Monmouth-Ocean market. Will it return to the soft AC that 99.7 and 107.1 used to do together as “the Breeze”?

*Radio People on the Move in western PENNSYLVANIA: Forever’s WOGG (94.9 Oliver) has picked up Scott Alexander as its new PD/morning man. Alexander was caught in CBS Radio layoffs over the summer after 14 years at WBZZ (Star 100.7) in Pittsburgh. At “Froggy,” he replaces Dave Russell, who’s now PD at WARM-FM (103.3) in York. (And of course, this being “Froggy,” Russell was known as “Pete Moss” and Alexander will trade his market-recognized name for…uh… “James Pond.”)

Family Life Ministries has completed its translator project into Butler: the former W254AV (98.7 Kittanning) is now W257DK on 99.3, operating from a site south of Butler and relaying Family Life’s HD subchannel from WSHH (99.7 Pittsburgh).

The Bob & Tom Show is a midwestern institution; it’s hard to turn on the radio anywhere in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio or Michigan without hearing the veteran morning men yukking it up, live from the “86th floor of the Friggemall Center” in beautiful downtown Indianapolis. So it was a surprise when Bob Kevoian took the stage at the National Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Chicago on Thursday to announce his retirement at year’s end.

The show will continue with Tom Griswold and the rest of its cast, but there will be some decisions to make for the Bob & Tom affiliate lineup. In NERW-land, that includes Erie’s WQHZ (102.3), Williamsport’s WZXR (99.3)/WCXR (103.7), WMKX (105.5 Brookville)/WJNG (100.5 Johnsonburg) in Pennsylvania. In New York, the duo are heard on WNGZ (104.9) in Elmira, WXTL (105.9) in Syracuse, WLLW (99.3) in the Finger Lakes, WXUR (92.7) in Utica, WOTT (94.1) in Watertown and WRCD (101.5) up north in Canton. And there’s one New England affiliate, Red Wolf’s WMOS (102.3) in the New London market. We’ll be watching to see what happens as the show becomes “Bob & Tom, without Bob” next year

(And we congratulate the NERW-land inductees this year: Elvis Duran of New York’s Z100 and, posthumously, the legendary Scott Muni of WOR-FM and WNEW-FM.)

ttp-montreal*CANADA‘s newest big-market AM signals aren’t (quite) dead yet, even though they were supposed to be.

Back in September 2014, the CRTC granted a final extension to the Tietolman-Tetrault-Pancholy group to put two new talk stations on the air in Montreal, in English on 600 and in French on 940. For the 940 permit, it was a second one-year extension, the most the CRTC typically gives to a permittee, which should have made November 21, 2015 the absolute drop-dead date; for 600, it was a first one-year extension to today. Both, the CRTC noted in bold print, were to have been the last extensions the TTP group was getting for those signals.

Until last week, that is, when the CRTC responded to a letter from TTP with a grant of another year’s worth of extensions for both signals. Steve Faguy, as always, has the full story, but in a nutshell it’s this: while TTP has yet to announce a staff, programming plans, a studio site or even callsigns for its new stations, it was able to persuade the CRTC that it’s still negotiating to acquire Cogeco’s former transmitter site in Kahnawahke, which has been used over the years by the old CFCF/CIQC on 600 and later by CINF (690)/CINW (940) before those signals went silent.

“So we have another year of guessing and arguing whether this project will ever see the light of day,” says Faguy – and we’ll mark the calendar to see you back here on Nov. 9 and Nov. 21, 2016 if nothing’s made air between now and then on 600 or 940 – or on 850, where TTP still plans to launch a French-language talk station.

*Up in Ontario’s Cottage Country, there’s a showdown looming between Bayshore Broadcasting and Vista Broadcasting. It centers on Bracebridge/Gravenhurst, where Vista’s had a monopoly with CFBG (100.9), but where Bayshore recently applied for a 22 kW signal on 102.3. While Vista tried to argue that it’s already losing money on CFBG, the CRTC believes there’s room for a second signal in town. It’s not opening a call for applications, since only Bayshore expressed interest, but it will take up the 102.3 application at a future hearing.

*It’s impossible to imagine our final story for the week taking place south of the border, but it’s so very Quebec: after the Parti Quebecois was ousted from the majority in the province, its former premier Pauline Marois used some of her $200,000 annual stipend to commission a study about how the provincial capital’s sharp-tongued talk radio stations might have influenced the 2014 election.

The study, which reportedly cost C$24,500, was conducted by another PQ candidate. To nobody’s great surprise, it indeed found that “what we try to avoid in the schoolyard is tolerated without problem on the radio waves” and that “the permanent threat that these verbal assaults bring upon their person and upon their actions creates a climate of fear that has no place in democracy.” And to nobody’s great surprise, some of the hosts whose shows presumably prompted the report weren’t buying it. The National Post quoted Jeff Fillion of CHIK (Energie 98.9) as calling the PQ “morons who want to close the shop of people who don’t share the communist discourse of these old, out-of-touch cranks.” Plus ca change…


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This is the 20th year we have been publishing our calendar. In addition to the cover shot of WEJL, we have photos from New Jersey, Nebraska, Texas, and much more!

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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: November 10, 2014

Remember when talk radio ruled the roost? If you needed any further evidence for the decline and fall of the format beyond the takedown that former Clear Channel talk honcho Darryl Parks delivered a few weeks back, you’ll find a textbook case for talk’s near-irrelevance along the banks of the Charles River in MASSACHUSETTS.

wrko-carr-smOnce upon a time, WRKO (680) set the tone for political dialogue in greater Boston. Back in 1986, “THE Talk Station” was such a potent political force on Beacon Hill that it very famously drove a referendum repealing the state’s seat-belt law to success, led by the dean of talk in town, the late Jerry Williams.

So there’s a tremendous irony in the good news that Williams’ successor in the WRKO afternoon slot, Howie Carr, had his belt on when he flipped his car on the Mass Pike on election day last Tuesday. But the fact that Carr walked out of Mass General a few hours later with just some bruises may well be the only good news to be found in Carr’s world, or in WRKO’s, at the moment.

As we’ve been noting for some time now, Carr’s contract with WRKO has finally come to the end of its most recent extension, leaving him free at long last to…well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? Unlike the last few times Carr has flirted with a break from the station that launched his radio career way back in 1994, the landscape into which a newly-independent Carr now drives is remarkably barren. It’s been almost two years since Greater Media pulled the plug on its FM talker, WTKK (96.9), arguably the result of its inability to extricate Carr from what proved to be an iron-clad WRKO contract. The only commercial spoken-word stations now on the Boston FM dial are talking sports, not politics – and both WRKO’s Entercom clustermate WEEI-FM (93.7) and CBS Radio’s competitor, WBZ-FM (98.5) now draw far more revenue, profit and attention than WRKO has pulled in for years.

There are, in short, no real winners to be found in the next chapter of Mr. Carr vs. Entercom. After a few days of recuperation, Carr is set to launch his new syndicated show today, via Global Media Services, but it doesn’t appear the show will be carried by WRKO. Without WRKO, even in its present diminished form, Carr loses much of his ability to reach a Boston audience. Sure, there’s streaming (and we’d be more than a little surprised if he doesn’t at least appear on his other employer’s pretty quickly), and there’s rimshot coverage from his Worcester affiliate, WCRN (830), and even the potential of buying time on a third-rate signal such as WUFC (1510). But as much as Carr belittled WRKO’s signal over the years, it’s the only game in town for AM talk in New England’s biggest market, and Carr’s voice won’t be heard very well without it.

*The week’s other big story came from eastern PENNSYLVANIA, where Radio One’s surprise Philadelphia-market format change on Thursday may be just the first chapter in a bigger story.

As usual, our content partner RadioInsight was first to catch Radio One’s domain registrations for “Boom” in Philadelphia, which came just as the company was dismissing the entire airstaff at what had been straight-ahead urban “Hot 107.9” (WPHI Pennsauken NJ) and just a few hours before the station’s flip to classic hip-hop as “Boom 107.9.”

wphi-boomThis is Radio One’s second “Boom,” hot on the heels of its Houston launch at KROI (92.1) when that noble attempt at all-news collapsed earlier this fall – and RadioInsight has been one of the few places to note that “Boom” isn’t Radio One’s trademark in the US. The rights to that name belong to CBS Radio, and Radio One is reportedly licensing them for use in both Houston and Philadelphia.

*Aside from Howie Carr, the week’s big news from MASSACHUSETTS came on Monday with the news that Tom Magliozzi, half of the Car Talk team of “Click and Clack,” had died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease, at age 77. Magliozzi and his brother Ray were just a couple of guys running a garage in Cambridge back in the 1970s, when WBUR (90.9) needed hosts for its unassuming little weekend advice show, and you don’t need us to tell you what an institution they built, first locally and then nationally.

NPR offered up a special memorial “Car Talk” show over the weekend, and they’ll continue to offer “Best of Car Talk” installments (as they’ve been doing since the Magliozzis semi-retired back in 2012) for as long as public radio stations want to keep carrying the show.

Five Years Ago: November 8, 2010

*Ask any radio station broker how the last few years have gone, and amidst the tales of declining station values and elusive financing, you’ll hear one consistent bright spot: while many of the buyers who fueled the explosive run-up in station values in the late nineties and early aughts vanished from the scene when the economy turned soft, one station group has emerged as a major buyer of stations in big markets: California-based EMF Broadcasting.

The operator of the nationwide “K-Love” and “Air 1” networks, programming contemporary Christian and Christian rock music, has spent millions of dollars over the last decade expanding its reach from coast to coast, buying existing commercial and noncommercial FM stations, applying for new noncommercial FM signals and using new technologies such as FM translator networks and “Franken-FM” channel 6 LPTV signals to bring its programming to medium and large markets.

But amidst K-Love’s expansion, one market has been conspicuously missing until now: New York City. On Friday, EMF took the first step toward changing that, announcing the purchase of Cox’s WCTZ (96.7 Port Chester NY), a move that came amidst some even bigger transitions for Cox’s cluster of stations along the CONNECTICUT coast.

Cox has spent the last five years working on migrating that 96.7 signal from its longtime home in Stamford to the edges of the nation’s largest radio market, NEW YORK; as regular NERW readers know, it’s one of three suburban FM signals that are all in the process of edging closer to the big city. Whitney Radio’s WVIP (93.5 New Rochelle) signed on its new Bronx transmitter site earlier this year, and Cumulus has tested the new Bronx-based signal of its WFAS-FM (103.9 Bronxville) from the same location as WVIP.

While the O’Shaughnessy family has turned down repeated offers to buy its stations, there’s been little doubt that the intent of both the WFAS-FM and WCTZ moves was to increase the stations’ value so they could be sold. EMF had reportedly been in talks with both companies before striking a deal with Cox. There’s no word yet on how much EMF is paying for WCTZ, but we do know that unlike most EMF deals, this one doesn’t include an LMA prior to closing.

That may have something to do with WCTZ’s as-yet-uncompleted move: while the station changed city of license from Stamford to Port Chester back in late 2007, the 96.7 transmitter site hasn’t moved yet. Over the last few years, Cox has applied for several possible new 96.7 sites closer to Manhattan: one potential site was on Long Island’s north shore, and the current construction permit for a 96.7 move would have the station operating from a diocesan radio tower in Yonkers. But it doesn’t appear that EMF will be using that site, either: instead, they’ll wait for the FCC to grant another Cox application to move 96.7 to the top of the Trump Plaza development in New Rochelle.

*Back on the New York side of the state line, 96.7 wasn’t the only suburban FM frequency making news late last week. As had been widely rumored, Friday afternoon at 5 brought a new format to Barnstable’s WIGX (94.3 Smithtown, ex-WMJC).

Earlier in the week, WMJC parted ways with most of its airstaff, including morning man Phathead and middayer Malibu Sue, and the launch of 90s-pop “94-X, Long Island’s Hit Music for Generation X,” was jockless. Veteran programmer Joel Salkowitz is consulting the new format with PD Jon Daniels, who stays on board.

*Longtime readers of this column know that we’ve always been staunch supporters of good small-town radio and good small-town radio people, and our region lost one of the best on Tuesday night with the untimely death of Guy Patrick Garraghan, the founding general manager and morning voice of WRIP (97.9 Windham).

Having spent many years in morning drive on WCKL (560 Catskill), Garraghan was already a veteran Hudson Valley radio voice by the time he hooked up with station owner Dennis Jackson to put WRIP on the air in 1999. Together with Jackson and another area radio veteran, Jay Fink, Garraghan built WRIP into a model of community radio, making the station – and Garraghan – into the “Voice of the Mountaintop.”

On Tuesday evening, Garraghan was on his way home from WRIP when he suffered a massive aneurysm. He was airlifted to Albany Medical Center for emergency surgery, but it was unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead a few hours later, two weeks shy of his 64th birthday.

On Wednesday, WRIP opened its doors and its airwaves to Garraghan’s friends, family and listeners for a remembrance of his life, and when the day-long special programming ended that evening, WRIP signed off for the night in Guy’s memory.

Ten Years Ago: November 7, 2005

The first week of November brought plenty of news from PENNSYLVANIA – none of it bigger than the $1.2 billion sale of Susquehanna Radio to Cumulus Media Partners, a partnership of Cumulus Media and three investment firms. In our region, the sale affects only the Susquehanna group in York – talker WSBA (910 York), AC WARM-FM (103.3 York), oldies WSOX (96.1 Red Lion) and silent WGLD (1440 Red Lion) – but it also closes a long, proud history of a group (owned by Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff, perhaps better known for its dishware) that grew from a handful of central Pennsylvania stations to a nationwide cluster with major outlets in San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta and elsewhere. (We should note, too, that Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff is also selling its SusCom cable service, which serves some 225,000 subscribers in Pennsylvania, New York, Maine and Mississippi. Comcast, which already owned 30% of SusCom, is paying $775 million for the rest of the company.)

One more Susquehanna note before we continue: little WGLD was back on the air briefly last week, keeping its license from an impending expiration.

Across the state, adult hits came to Pittsburgh Tuesday when Steel City Media dumped the lagging classic rock format on WRRK (96.9 Braddock) in favor of “96.9 Bob FM.” The station is running jockless for now – even in mornings, previously occupied by the syndicated Bob & Tom show.

It’s technically a NEW JERSEY story, but the move of WTTM (1680 Princeton) to its new home in Lindenwold, which was being completed over the weekend, is really all about Philadelphia and its radio listeners. WTTM spent much of last week playing country music from its old tower site near Pennington, N.J. (lovingly automated by chief engineer Neal Newman) while getting the new Lindenwold facility ready to go on the air. NERW hears that Multicultural Broadcasting will begin running Spanish-language programming on WTTM once the move is finished.

And speaking of Pennington, some sad news to report: that’s where Julian Breen lived, and we were as stunned as everyone else in the business at the news of Breen’s death last week. Breen was the APD/MD at WABC during some of its most successful years, from 1968-1971. From there, he became PD at KYA in San Francisco before returning to the East Coast to become vice president of Greater Media. He’s credited with creating the “Magic” format at WMGK (102.9 Philadelphia) and WMGQ (98.3 New Brunswick). More recently, Breen was one of the go-to guys for ratings analysis, through his Supertrends (later Breen Broadcast) consultancy. Julian Breen died Oct. 29 of pancreatic cancer; he was just 63.

Big changes at CONNECTICUT’s WEZN (99.9 Bridgeport) – “Star 99.9” morning man John Harper was abruptly ousted from his wakeup slot last week, after more than a decade at the station. His replacement is former WVIT/WTIC-TV sportscaster Tony Terzi, son of Hartford TV veteran Al Terzi. Terzi joins newscaster Marit Price (who just joined Star in July) and traffic reporter Tommy Edison. Meanwhile, Star has officially hired former WQSX (“Star 93.7”) jock Mike McGowan for afternoons; McGowan has a long history in Connecticut, albeit in the Hartford market, and he’d been doing the afternoon slot on WEZN on an interim basis.

Fifteen Years Ago: November 6, 2000

For years now, one of the parlor games most often played by MASSACHUSETTS radio buffs has been “What will it take for Bernardine Nash to sell WILD?” This week, we have an answer — and it’s no great surprise. Ever since her husband’s death a few years back, rumors have run rampant about Nash’s plans for the urban AM “little daytimer that could.” Would she negotiate a move to a full-time frequency, or to FM? Would she sell, and if so, to whom? This spring, Nash began answering those questions when she LMA’d the station to Radio One, one of the country’s fastest-growing urban groups (NERW, 5/19/2000). The move put WILD (1090) under the same roof as new competitor WBOT (97.7 Brockton). And now Nash has agreed to sell WILD outright to Radio One. The $5 million deal puts Nash in charge of the Radio One Boston group, and makes WILD the 51st station nationwide for the company.

The big news from NEW YORK this week was, of course, the waning days of the nation’s most-watched Senate race. The big radio news, though, was taking place in the Hudson Valley, as the stations Clear Channel is spinning off to Concord Media take on their new formats. On the AM side, WHUC (1230 Hudson) broke from the talk format shared with Kingston’s WGHQ (920) and Poughkeepsie’s WKIP (1450) to go standards, though not with the same satellite service as sister station WCKL (560 Catskill). Could that mean changes on the way at WCKL? On the FM dial, WCTW (98.5 Catskill), aka “The Cat,” returns to the Westwood One “Bright AC” satellite format it had been using until February, when the station went mostly live and local with hot AC. The other half of “the Cat,” WCTJ (96.1 Poughkeepsie), keeps the hot AC, albeit with automation and voicetracks instead of live jocks. And WTHK (93.5 Hudson) dumps “Thunder Country” for Westwood One’s oldies as “Cruisin’ 93-5,” with Bill Williams from WRNQ (92.1 Poughkeepsie) serving as PD and Ken Gonyea doing mornings. Again, “Thunder Country” lives, for now, on WTHN (99.3 Ellenville) to the south.

A Syracuse television icon will retire in a little less than a month. Ron Curtis started at WHEN radio (620) back when its sister TV station was still on channel 8. That was in 1959, and seven years later he became the anchor on WHEN-TV, today’s WTVH (Channel 5). In recent years, Curtis has anchored WTVH’s noon and 11 PM shows. His final appearance on channel 5 will be December 1.

Twenty Years Ago: November 9, 1995

[no issue]


  1. There’s an even more interesting question about the G&E Studio saga. James Su appears to be the majority owner of the company that owns KDYL South Salt Lake UT. That could be a bigger problem.

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