Also in this week’s issue for subscribers… iHeart cuts in Syracuse, Binghamton – AM translator in Atlantic City – RI’s Demay gets a promotion – An end to “trash radio”?
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*Local radio in small communities isn’t easy these days. For all of the FCC’s efforts to “revitalize” AM and reduce the paperwork burden on small operators, the vast majority of small-market stations out there are leading tenuous existences, fighting to keep aging equipment and tower sites alive and to keep audiences engaged against all the digital alternatives fighting for their attention.
In MASSACHUSETTS, Ed Perry is one of the exceptions, keeping profitable and successful at his WATD-FM (95.9 Marshfield) for going on 40 years now. Down the road in Brockton, he’s moving closer to a relaunch at his new addition, the old WBET (1460), more recently known as WXBR. Perry recently filed to change the calls at his new purchase to WATD(AM), one of several steps toward getting it back on the airwaves.
This is the second time the WATD calls have graced a Brockton AM; Perry had those calls on the former WOKW (1410), now Dedham-licensed WZBR, back in the early 1990s. With 1460’s one-year silent period running out and the old transmitter site gone, Perry has a plan to get the station back on the air: he’s applied for special temporary authority to use 1000 watts, daytime-only, into a longwire mounted on two 30-foot wooden poles behind the Temple Baptist Church in West Bridgewater. Perry tells the FCC an application for a new permanent 1460 facility will follow soon.
*Meanwhile out west, after two years trying to bring local programming back to its signals in Athol/Orange, Northeast Broadcasting plans to pull the plug on its current formats at WFNX (99.9 Athol) and WFAT (700 Orange) at the end of May unless it can turn around a dearth of advertiser support.
A message posted on both stations’ websites says that while there’s been positive listener reaction to the variety hits on WFNX and the oldies on WFAT, advertisers in the “Greater Quabbin” region they serve haven’t been willing to support them with local ads – and so come June, they’ll turn back into simulcasts of Northeast’s WXRV (92.5 the River) from greater Boston.
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*Radio People on the Move: Billy Teed is the new morning man at WPLM-FM (99.1) in Plymouth, where he replaces the previous morning show that had paired PD Kevin Cronin and veteran New Bedford voice Pete Braley. Teed, a Cape Cod native, had returned to the region last year after several years up in New York’s North Country at Martz Communications’ WYUL.
And while Kristen Eck is a new name at the “traffic on the 3s” desk at WBZ (1030), she’s got two decades of WBZ experience behind her as she completes her transition to female. WBZ handled the story in its usual classy fashion, telling listeners (and WBZ-TV viewers) about how Scott Eck had been increasingly uncomfortable before transitioning, a process that’s been underway for more than a year now. Eck joined WBZ in 1997.
*In RHODE ISLAND, WWLI (105.1 Providence) PD/afternoon jock Brian Demay is headed for a new gig within Cumulus: he’s the newly-named PD at Cincinnati’s WRRM (98.5). Demay, whose resume also includes stops in Buffalo and Wilmington, replaces Greg Dunkin; no replacement has been named yet in Providence.
*In MAINE, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has been granted a CP for a new signal on 91.7 in Scarborough. The station will run 3 kW/108′, vertical-only, from a site west of the Maine Turnpike near Scarborough.
Where does Townsquare want to move the translator it’s buying for WJZN (1400 Augusta)? The construction permit for W247CD (97.3 Worcester MA) will go to 95.9, if Townsquare’s application is granted, using WJZN’s tower on Dr. Mann Road.
Maine Public Broadcasting lifted the curtain a little early on its all-classical network, taking over operation last week at WFYB (91.5 Fryeburg) from Light of Life Ministries. The classical service is also heard on HD2/translator pairs in Bangor (106.1) and Waterville (99.7), with additional signals coming soon.
Where are they now? After three years with WHTP (104.7 Kennebunkport), Patrick Grey has returned to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to take on nights at Adams Radio Group’s WJFX (107.9).
*There are few jobs in radio as tenuous these days as being a medium-market iHeart air talent with several decades of service. In central NEW YORK, just ask Kathy Rowe, who had more than 30 years in at WYYY (94.5 Syracuse) when the axe fell on Tuesday after her Y94 morning show. Rowe, who’d also served as Y94’s program director, started at the former WSYR-FM back in 1982, when it was still “94 Rock,”
There’s a new local talk show at Galaxy’s ESPN Syracuse (WTLA 1200/97.7 Syracuse and WSGO 1440/100.1 Oswego), where Syracuse Crunch play-by-play voice Dan D’Uva is now hosting “In the Booth” weekdays from 2-4 PM.
At iHeart in Binghamton, we’re learning details about the cuts there that have now left just 10 full-time staffers in the building overseeing a four-FM/two-AM cluster. Jim Free, who’d been with WKGB (92.5) since the very beginning more than 20 years ago, lost his job as OM of the cluster and PD of WKGB. Also out is PD Tom Scott (WMXW/WBBI/WINR); Matt Guido, who’d been doing production with the cluster for more than 20 years; and Michelle Landis in the business office, who’d been there since just after Clear Channel bought the cluster in 2000. As best we can tell, there’s exactly one live airshift now remaining in the building – Lori Bradley’s morning show on WMXW (103.3).
*Down the parkway in Binghamton, Brian Sickora is packing up at WSKG public radio and TV, where he’s ending nine years as president and CEO at the end of June. Sickora has been named director/general manager at the UNC-TV public TV network that serves all of North Carolina, and he’ll start that new job July 1. A search is now underway for a replacement in Binghamton.
Romar Communications has been trying for a long time to get a new signal on the air near Ithaca at 750 on the AM dial, and as of last week it holds an actual construction permit for 2500 watts by day, 720 watts at night, using two towers from a site west of Ithaca and just south of Route 79. Will the Lansing-licensed station become reality before the CP expires in April 2019?
*Peter Thomas was a voiceover legend, with deep pipes that you’d recognize instantly if, for instance, you ever caught an episode of “Forensic Files” on CourtTV, or if you ever heard Paul Hardcastle’s 1980s hit “19,” for which he provided the voiceover narration about Vietnam casualties. But before he was nationally known for his voiceover work, Thomas spent decades at CBS in New York City, where he anchored the late local news on WCBS-TV (Channel 2), among other tasks. A decorated Army veteran of World War II, Thomas was living in Naples, Florida when he died April 30 at 91.
*In northern PENNSYLVANIA, Frank Iorio’s Radio Partners is applying to swap cities of license between WKNB (104.3 Clarendon) and the new WLSF (105.1 Sheffield). The applications, interestingly, were prepared by EMF Broadcasting, which already has its K-Love programming on 105.1. Is EMF going to end up owning one or both of the Iorio stations?
WHYL (960 Carlisle) is getting an FM translator. Four Rivers Community Broadcasting has applied to move its W254CA (98.7 Martinsburg WV) to Carlisle, where it will relocate to 102.9 from the tower already used by WHYL and its sister station WCAT-FM (102.3), and where it will subsequently be sold to WHYL’s owner, Harold Swidler.
Invisible Allies Ministries is applying to move a translator from Clearfield to Tyrone. W206CD (89.1) would move to 89.3 with 250 watts if it’s granted the relocation.
In the Johnstown market, Forever Media has pulled “Sports Radio 990 the Fanatic” off WLLI (990 Somerset), returning the station to a simulcast of news-talk WNTJ (1490 Johnstown) after three years with CBS Sports Radio.
Radio People on the Move: at iHeart’s WRFF (104.5 Philadelphia), Wendy Rollins will depart in early July after almost nine years with the station as assistant PD and on-air jock. She’s headed to Atlanta to attend to some family matters, and she’ll do some work with iHeart down there.
Where are they now? Former Harrisburg programmer JT Bosch has joined iHeart’s WMZQ (98.7) in Washington, DC as night jock and assistant PD. Bosch had most recently been in Austin at KVET/KASE, iHeart’s country pair in the Texas capital.
*Translator news from NEW JERSEY: Townsquare’s WPGG (1450 Atlantic City) is now on the FM dial, bringing its “WPG Talk Radio” format to W281BH (104.1 Absecon), which gets the signal via an HD subchannel of sister station WSJO (104.9 Egg Harbor City).
The translator is licensed to Hope Christian Church of Marlton, which has also filed for a license to cover in Cape May on 1-watt W262CH (100.3), relaying WVBV (90.5 Medford Lakes).
*In CANADA, “trash radio” may be fading away in Quebec, where the shock talk of hosts such as Jeff Fillion and Andre Arthur has become a fixture on stations such as CHIK (Energie 98.9) and CHOI (98.1 Radio X) in Quebec City.
Both Fillion and Arthur are suddenly off the air, Fillion fired from Bell’s CHIK after a tweet that made fun of a father whose son had killed himself, Arthur announcing his retirement from CHOI days later amidst rumors that he was about to be fired as well over comments he’d made after the March plane crash that killed political commentator Jean Lapierre.
“It’s not the first time I’ve lost a job in radio,” Arthur was quoted as saying in a CBC article last week, “but it’s the last time.”
“King Andre” has been part of Quebec radio since 1970; he and Fillion were perhaps most notorious in the mid-2000s when their on-air antics prompted the CRTC to pull CHOI’s license. (The station ended up staying on the air with new ownership.)
*In Montreal, Sam Zniber is out as PD of Cogeco’s CKBE (The Beat 92.5) after just under two years on the job. As Steve Faguy reports, Zniber’s dismissal comes as part of a “corporate reorganization,” though Cogeco isn’t saying much about why it parted ways with Zniber, who’d never worked in Canadian radio before arriving in Montreal in 2014.
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