In this week’s issue… Remembering Parenteau, Hrywnak – NJ AM sells – Sun sets on “Canada AM” – CT AMs return to local programming
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*If the glory days of rock radio in Boston were in the 1970s and early 1980s, there’s no question Mark Parenteau was among the biggest names to blaze across the FM airwaves of eastern MASSACHUSETTS in that era.
Parenteau, who died Friday at 66, also had perhaps the biggest fall from grace of any of the jocks of his era. After 19 years at WBCN (104.1), from 1978 until 1997, he ended up working for XM Satellite Radio in Washington, where he was arrested in 2004 and charged with molesting an underage boy. The details of the case were far from cut and dried – Parenteau claimed the 14-year-old appeared older, lied about his age and then set him up to be arrested – but it was nevertheless the end of his career. Parenteau pleaded guilty, was sentenced to three years, and never returned to the airwaves, spending his last years beset by growing health problems.
It was a sad end to what had been a brilliant radio career. The Worcester native went on the air at age 15 at WORC (1310) there, then worked at WLLH (1400) in Lowell and at WKNR (1310) and WABX (99.5) in Detroit before coming back to Boston in 1977 to WCOZ (94.5).
A year later, he made his home at WBCN, where he championed local artists including the J. Geils Band (featuring former WBCN jock Peter Wolf) and Aerosmith, as well as Bob Seger and hundreds of up-and-coming comedians. His afternoon show was a must stop for artists visiting Boston.
“He had a great career, but it was a tough end to his life,” his WBCN colleague Carter Alan told the Herald.
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*Just across from Philadelphia in Camden, NEW JERSEY, Davidson Media is selling its last station, WEMG (1310) for nearly a million dollars. Michael Sciore’s M.S. Acquisitions and Holdings has already entered into a consulting arrangement with Davidson, and now it’s agreed to pay $975,000 for the 1000-watt day/250-watt signal that does Spanish as “Mega 105.7.”
(The deal also includes the assumption of Davidson’s option to buy the 105.7 translator that WEMG now uses.)
*A veteran MAINE morning man is off the air, rather abruptly. Mike Violette came to WGAN (560 Portland) 13 years ago after a stint at WVOM (103.9 Howland) in the Bangor market. Thursday’s show was his last at the Saga-owned talker, leaving co-host Ken Altshuler solo.
*A CONNECTICUT LPFM is vigorously fighting off an attempt to prove that it wasn’t built before its construction permit expired. Huckleberry Hill Music Society filed for a license to cover on WWMM-LP (107.5 Collinsville) in early April, but its license grant was contested by Trignition, Inc., which holds its own CP to move a translator to 107.3 in New Britain to rebroadcast WRYM (840).
Trignition filed a petition in early May to deny the WWMM-LP license based on an engineer’s visit to the neighborhood where the LPFM was to be built. Trignition said it found no antenna on top of the residence at 11 Pheasant Hill Road, nothing on the air at 107.5 and no occupants of what was supposed to have been the WWMM studio nearby.
Slam dunk? Not exactly – because Huckleberry Hill’s Peggy Bartholomew followed up over Memorial Day weekend with a blistering attack on Trignition. There was no antenna on the house, Bartholomew says, because the actual CP coordinates are in the woods to the rear, where she submitted photos showing a concealed tower (painted green) in a concrete base. Trignition heard dead air, Bartholomew says, because WWMM’s CD changer had failed and was being replaced by computerized automation. And there was nothing at the planned studio site, she tells the FCC, because the station ran out of funding and instead built a studio at the transmitter site.
But WWMM didn’t stop there: in addition to submitting invoices for the station’s equipment and photos of the site in operation, Bartholomew slammed Trignition for what she called “tak(ing) on the role of a playground bully,” including flying a drone directly over her house to look for the antenna. (“Instead of stalking the HMMS property in the shadows, they should have simply approached us asked about the status of the station. We would have been delighted to show them the studios and transmitter site. Trignition would have saved tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and drone deployment costs,” she said.)
*In Stamford, there’s new programming on the air as of Wednesday at WSTC (1400) and sister station WNLK (1350 Norwalk). Sacred Heart University, which pulled its WSHU public radio programming off those AM signals in January back with an eye toward a sale, is now leasing out both of them.
WNLK now carries the religious programming that had been on now-dark WDJZ (1530 Bridgeport), while VGR Radio Agency is leasing out WSTC for a big band and talk format. VGR belongs to Martin Sheehan, who used to manage WFAS in Westchester and owned a station in Maryland. (More at our sister site, RadioInsight.)
*Where are they now? Joe Breezy, late of WODS (103.3) in MASSACHUSETTS, followed his fiancee Danielle Vollmar to Nashville for her new job as chief meteorologist at WKRN (Channel 2) there. Now he’s been picked up as afternoon jock and assistant brand manager at WNFN (106.7), the CHR signal that just moved from a Cumulus trust to Midwest Communications.
*In upstate NEW YORK, we’re mourning Orest Hrywnak, the beloved promotions director whose career included stops at top-40 giant WBBF (950), where he was “Captain Cash” in the 1970s, and later at WPXY (97.9). Hrywnak later went on to work for his brother’s minor-league basketball team, the Rochester Razorsharks, as well as helping to organize local radio reunions. He’d been suffering from heart ailments for some time and was recovering from a February open-heart surgery when he died Thursday morning. He was just 59 years old.
A very happy anniversary to Don Alhart, who started at what was then WOKR (Channel 13) on June 6, 1966. The station is now WHAM-TV, and Alhart is still there and still going strong as its lead anchor as he passes the 50-year mark.
In Homer, locally-owned WXHC (101.5) turns 25 this month, and it’s celebrating with a new brand and logo. The former “Oldies 101.5” is now “X101.5, Always Classic” as it adds more 90s and 2000s music to its classic hits format.
New calls in the Adirondacks: WYZY (106.3 Saranac) has been simulcasting WNBZ (1240 Saranac Lake) for quite a while now – and now it has changed calls to WNBZ-FM.
*One of the last AMs in eastern CANADA is heading for the exits. CJVA (810) in Caraquet, New Brunswick has begun testing its new FM signal on 94.1, reports Canadian Radio News. Once the new FM signal launches officially, the big AM signal will go away in a few months, leaving just four AM signals remaining in all of New Brunswick.
And on TV, Bell Media pulled the plug Friday on “Canada AM,” the CTV morning show that had been on the air since 1972, when it pioneered network morning TV in Canada. (CBC television signed on at 9 AM as late as the 1990s.)
In recent years, the show had lost its nationwide coverage, replaced by local CTV morning shows from Winnipeg westward, but it was still a surprise when Bell announced on Thursday that the next day’s show would be the last. For now, CTV’s stations in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes will carry CTV News Channel programming in the morning slot while the network develops a new morning offering to debut this fall.
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