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: April 13, 2015
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – It’s springtime in the desert, and that means it’s time for many radio and TV folks from across NERW-land and far beyond to gather for the annual NAB Show. We’ll be out here all week, bringing you regular updates here on fybush.com as well as on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds and over at those of Radio World. We’ll be following some big story threads: a brewing controversy about whether the methods used for PPM ratings encoding unfairly penalizes news and talk stations, the FCC’s slow march toward TV spectrum repacking and (maybe) new rules for the AM band, all the latest new gear from the show floor, and much more.
Back home in the Northeast, though, it was a busy week indeed in the industry, with new formats in Pennsylvania and more. Before we get to those stories, we start in Boston, where our old colleagues at WBZ (1030) lost a valued colleague last week and prepared for the departure of another. Mark Katic, who died Friday after a battle with cancer, came to WBZ in 1999 as a sports reporter after working in RHODE ISLAND at WHJJ (920 Providence). After two years on the sports desk, Katic moved to news, and for a decade and a half became an important part of the WBZ newsroom as both a reporter and an anchor, winning several AP and Murrow awards for his work. Katic had been out of the newsroom for several months as his health declined.
Just a few days before Katic’s death, there was another big piece of news from Soldiers Field Road: after 36 years at WBZ, afternoon anchor Anthony Silva will retire in June as he gets ready to turn 65. This is one of those stories your editor can’t be impartial about – in the 1990s, I had the privilege of writing for Anthony and his on-air partner Diane Stern on the WBZ Afternoon News, and there are few as professional as they are in the industry.
Silva came to WBZ in 1979 after a career that included stops at WMLO (1570 Beverly), where he started at age 15 by buying two hours a week to program “The Folk Review” on Sunday afternoons. He was later hired by WMLO and then at WNBP in Newburyport and at Boston’s WEZE and WMEX. As news director at WMEX, he hired a young Diane Stern, beginning a radio partnership that’s continued for many decades. After a few years outside the radio business, Silva joined WBZ as the replacement for Susan Wornick. Silva’s afternoon shift was the first incarnation of news radio on WBZ, starting as “60 to 6,” then “90 to 6,” and eventually expanding to four and then finally five hours of the station’s all-news wheel once it started in 1991. Along the way, he picked up the business beat, producing and hosting business reports that also air in morning drive and hosting the “Business Breakfast” at which he interviewed prominent local business leaders.
We asked Silva about his favorite memories, and he recalled: “Providing play by play for WBZ, ABC and Armed Forces Radio around the world for the Papal Mass on Boston Common in the driving rain! I was called into action when another reporter got sick. Anchoring breaking news from 9-11 to the Boston Marathon bombing week, for which we got a Peabody Award. Traveling and reporting from Hanoi, New Orleans after Katrina, where I joined a crew rebuilding houses. And reporting from the chopper for the Marathon.”
Five Years Ago: April 11, 2011
*The latest front in the “FM news-talk” offensive is in western NEW YORK, where Entercom’s struggling “Lake” (WLKK 107.7 Wethersfield Township) finally sank beneath the waves (or at least over to the obscurity of an HD2 subchannel) at midnight last Tuesday, replaced by a simulcast of the market’s leading talker, WBEN (930 Buffalo).
As with many of the recent additions of FM signals to AM news-talkers, the issue in Buffalo wasn’t signal: WBEN has arguably the best AM coverage of any signal in town, with a centrally-located tower site on Grand Island and full-market penetration day and night. But there’s a sense out there (and we’re hearing a lot about it here in the hallways at NAB) that even the best AM signal is no longer a guarantee that younger audiences will find the programming being offered there, which is why we’ve seen a significant number of AM news-talk and sports stations adding FM signals, including recent flips in Syracuse (WSYR-FM 106.9) and Albany (WGY-FM 103.1).
*A second local newscast is returning to Utica, where Smith’s WKTV (Channel 2) has had the market all to itself since the shutdown of local newscasts at WUTR (Channel 20) eight years ago. Under new owner Nexstar, news is coming back later this spring at WUTR and its sister stations, which announced the move at a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Fox affiliate WFXV (Channel 33). When the new newscasts launch this fall, they’ll air at 6 and 11 PM on WUTR, 7 PM on MyNetwork outlet WPNY and 10 PM on WFXV.
*When Gary LaPierre announced his departure from one of the top radio news jobs in MASSACHUSETTS five years ago, WBZ (1030 Boston) probably didn’t expect that it would need to fill the job twice in just half a decade. But after the departure of LaPierre’s replacement, Ed Walsh, the CBS Radio all-newser is hoping for a longer run for its next morning news anchor. Joe Mathieu hasn’t yet turned 40, and while most of his recent work has been in Washington, DC, where he’s been doing news for XM/Sirius and programming its POTUS talk channel, his roots are in New England, where he started his career in eastern CONNECTICUT before working on Cape Cod (WXTK/WCOD) and at Boston’s WRKO. A 1996 graduate of Emerson College, Mathieu starts his new job early next month.
Ten Years Ago: April 10, 2006
A lot has changed in MASSACHUSETTS radio since 1964. By our count, there are just two stations on the Boston AM dial still using the same calls and frequency they used back then. One is WILD (1090), and the other, of course, is WBZ (1030). It was way back in 1964 that a young reporter from Shelburne Falls named Gary LaPierre joined the station’s news staff. Just two years later, LaPierre became WBZ’s morning news anchor, and for forty years, that’s where he’s been, through changes of ownership (Westinghouse to CBS to Infinity and back to CBS) and format (top 40 to AC/news-talk to all news).
Last week, LaPierre announced that he’ll retire at the end of 2006, closing out the 42-year run at WBZ that began with his very first assignment, covering the Beatles’ arrival for their first Boston concert. (Back then, LaPierre recalled, he looked so young that station management wouldn’t allow his picture to be distributed.) The station hasn’t announced who’ll replace LaPierre in 2007; his presumptive successor for many years, anchor/reporter Jay McQuaide, left the station last year to join Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
(And on a personal note, if I may: your editor had the great good fortune to work alongside Gary for several years as his newswriter. Much of what I know about writing for broadcast came directly from Gary, and I’ll long be in his debt for the education I received during those years.)
Just south of Boston, WBET (1460 Brockton) is changing hands. Joe Gallagher’s Aritaur group (doing business, in this case, as KJI Broadcasting) bought WBET and WCAV-FM from their original owner, the Brockton Enterprise, in 1997, then sold WCAV (now WILD-FM) to Radio One two years later.
RHODE ISLAND’s NBC owned-and-operated station is changing hands, as Media General pays GE $600 million for four of its stations, including WJAR (Channel 10) in Providence, along with stations in Raleigh-Durham, Birmingham and Columbus. WJAR will be Media General’s first TV property in the region, joining its existing group of small- and medium-market stations clustered in the southeast and midwest. (NBC says it’s shedding the stations to focus its resources on expanding the reach of its Telemundo division.)
A veteran CONNECTICUT broadcaster is retiring. Dick Ferguson came to prominence heading Park City Communications, then joined Katz Broadcasting as its president when it acquired Park City in 1981. In 1986, Ferguson led the management buyout of the Katz stations that created the NewCity group, with prominent holdings that included WPLR and WEZN in Connecticut and WSYR/WYYY in Syracuse. And when Cox Radio bought NewCity in 1997, Ferguson remained with the company, becoming executive vice president there in 2003. Ferguson’s retirement will take effect at the end of May.
Fifteen Years Ago: April 11, 2001
The Boston Celtics are near the end of another lackluster season, but as the team watches another year run down amidst memories of the glory days of Auerbach and Bird, it’s able to offer fans at least one guaranteed change for next year. When the 2001-2002 preseason starts in October, the Celts will be heard on a new radio home. Instead of WEEI (850), the team will migrate up the dial to Sporting News Radio’s WWZN (1510) for the next five seasons, in a deal announced late last week. The deal will give WWZN an opportunity to promote itself to an audience that hasn’t been paying much attention to the upstart sports signal, whether in its earlier incarnation as One-on-One’s WNRB or its more recent makeover under Sporting News.
Next stop, VERMONT, where the big flip at Clear Channel’s Burlington cluster happened this morning (April 9). As we reported here last week, the smooth jazz that had been on WXPS (96.7 Willsboro NY) has moved for good to the WLCQ (92.1 Port Henry NY) facility, something of a rimshot from the southern end of Lake Champlain. 96.7 is now doing talk as “the Zone” (and we hear the WXZO calls are on the way), simulcasting with WEAV (960 Plattsburgh NY). The 96.7/960 format kicks off with Don Imus in the morning, and the rumor around Burlington is that Clear Channel will eventually move Premiere’s Dr. Laura and Rush Limbaugh from their current homes at WVMT and WKDR over to the new talk simulcast.
Twenty Years Ago: April 10, 1996
Mega-opoly has arrived on the shores of Cape Cod, just in time for tourist season. Car dealer Ernie Boch is buying adult contemporary WCOD 106.1 (a Hyannis-licensed full B) and simulcast modern-rockers WUNZ 101.1 Falmouth and WUNX 93.5 Harwich (both class A’s, which together cover the Cape.) Boch already owns talker WXTK 94.9 (a West Yarmouth-licensed full B), as well as sports WUOK 1240 West Yarmouth. It’s not yet known how much Boch paid to acquire the stations from J.J. Taylor, or what changes he might make. WCOD is one of three ACs on the Cape, in competition with WQRC in Barnstable and WCIB in Falmouth, while WUNX/WUNZ have the modern-rock market to themselves.
WKSS 95.7 Hartford, known to its fans as CHR “Kiss 95-7,” is being sold to Multi-Market Radio for $18 million. Kiss will become part of a Connecticut Valley group that includes modern rock WMRQ 104.1 Waterbury-Hartford, rock WHCN 105.9 Hartford, news-talk WPOP 1410 Hartford, classic rock WPLR 99.1 New Haven, urban AC WYBC 94.3 New Haven (operated under an LMA), country WPKX 97.9 Enfield CT-Springfield MA, modern-rock WHMP-FM 99.3 Northampton MA, and talker WHMP 1400 Northampton MA.