In this week’s issue… Maine loses a Pine Tree – Big cuts at CBS Radio News – So long, Diane – Another WCVB founder dies – Third CHIN for Toronto?
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*It’s been an interesting downeast MAINE radio adventure for DC-based broadcaster Chuck Begin, but his Pine Tree Broadcasting is now preparing to leave the Pine Tree State. After selling WRMO (93.7 Milbridge) to Maine Public Radio, which took over the coastal FM signal on Thursday, Pine Tree filed on Friday to sell its three Bangor-area AM stations and its remaining Bangor translator to Port Broadcasting.
The $172,000 sale of AC “Wave” WBAN (1340 Bangor)/W231CH (94.1 Bangor), classic country “Country Road” WCYR (1400 Veazie) and oldies WGUY (1230 Veazie) came on the heels of a big week for Port, which also filed for a merger with Aruba Capital Holdings that had been announced more than a year ago. Aruba’s WXEX (1540 Exeter NH, plus translator W246BP) and WXEX-FM (92.1 Sanford ME) will join up with Port’s WWSF (1220 Sanford) and WNBP (1450 Newburyport MA) and their translators in the new Port. Port’s Carl Strube and Pete Falconi will each have 22% of the new company, while Aruba will have 29.1% and Aruba principal Andrew Hartmann will have 26.9% as his personal piece of the company. (Port has been operating WXEX and WXEX-FM under an LMA since April 2015.)
The addition of the Bangor-market stations will give the new Port a reach of more than 200 miles along the New England coast, and we’re excited to see what radio vets Strube and Falconi have planned for their newest market.
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WBZ (1030 Boston)’s Diane Stern is still very much with us, thankfully – but as of last Tuesday night, she’s retired from her very long run as afternoon news anchor. Stern joined WBZ in 1983 after doing news at WEEI (590), WMEX/WITS (1510) and WMLO (1570 Beverly), a 40-year run in all.
(photo: Garo Hagopian/WBZ)
And just as Stern was signing off came some sad news from WCVB (Channel 5), the station where her husband Neil Ungerleider spent several decades as a news manager. After the news in October of the death of one of WCVB’s founders, 102-year-old Leo Beranek, comes word of the death of one of Beranek’s partners in Boston Broadcasters Inc., Bob Bennett.
Bennett, who died Tuesday in California, worked his way up from being a CBS page in Los Angeles in 1948 to a sales job at KTTV (Channel 11) in 1952, then worked his way up through Metromedia to management gigs at WTTG (Channel 5) in Washington and, in 1969, to New York’s WNEW-TV (Channel 5). He was serving as VP/GM there when the Boston Broadcasters group approached him to become the founding GM of WCVB, a high-risk and high-profile position for any broadcaster.
When Bennett joined BBI in 1971, the company was still waging an uncertain battle to take over channel 5 from the old WHDH-TV. While waiting for the courts to make their final rulings on WHDH-TV’s appeal of its license revocation, it was Bennett’s job to find the new WCVB a home (in a former International Harvester dealership in Needham), a staff and a programming lineup, all against the possibility that the new station might never actually get a license.
The high-stakes gamble paid off, of course – not only did WCVB get its license, but under BBI and Bennett it quickly became one of the most lauded local stations in the country, offering up not only top-notch news but also locally-produced entertainment programming. In 1982, BBI sold WCVB to Metromedia for a record $220 million, which reunited Bennett with his old colleagues there. (It also prompted rumbles, never completely denied, that Bennett was engineering a WCVB sale to Metromedia from the time he came on board with BBI.)
Bennett became a partner in Metromedia and president of Metromedia Broadcasting, where he oversaw the resale of WCVB to Hearst for $450 million in 1985 and then the sale of the rest of the Metromedia TV station group to become the core of the new Fox network. Bennett later ran the TV division of New World before retiring. He was 89.
*At Entercom’s WEEI-FM (93.7), Joe Zarbano moves up from assistant PD/executive producer to PD, partially replacing Kevin Graham. “Partially?” Yes – because the new management structure there is a programming team that also includes new executive producer Ben Kitchen (formerly a senior producer) and Carlson Mozdiez’ promotion to director of operations for the entire Entercom cluster.
WEEI has also added on the talent side, where Rich Keefe joins the “Dale and Holley” afternoon show. Keefe moves across the Mass Pike bridge from CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM (98.5), where he’d been the evening sports anchor.
*There’s an obituary from western Massachusetts, too, where one of the partners in the former Cardwell Broadcasting has died. Glenn Cardinal worked at several Springfield stations and then at WHMP in Northampton, which is where he met business partner Bob Shotwell in the 1970s. They both went on to WMAS in Springfield, and Cardinal then worked for Continental Cable doing regional ad sales while Cardwell was applying for and building 93.9 in Turners Falls. The station signed on in 1994 as WPVQ and was later sold to Vox. (It’s now Saga’s WRSI).
Cardinal stayed with Vox and then Saga until 2004, serving as a regional vice president. He’d most recently been working with communities in Franklin County to bring in improved broadband service. Cardinal was 67 when he died Nov. 30.
*The VERMONT Association of Broadcasters inducted its Hall of Fame class of 2016 Saturday night in Burlington, including two of that market’s prominent TV meteorologists. Tom Messner (right) of WPTZ (Channel 5) and Sharon Meyer of WCAX (Channel 3) were both honored with Hall of Fame induction. So was the late Dean Slack, whose career in Burlington started at WCAX radio in 1950, continued as a top-rated DJ at WJOY in 1954, then at WVMT as sales manager and announcer in 1965 and then as GM of WVNY-TV/FM. Slack left Vermont in 1974 to go into station ownership in New Hampshire and upstate new York. He died in 2014.
The ceremony also included a Broadcaster of the Year honor for WOKO (98.9) morning man/WKOL (105.1) PD Rod Hill and distinguished service awards for WCAX senior news photographer Bob Davis and veteran radio personality and salesperson Bob Sherman.
*Elsewhere in MAINE radio, Nikki Cruz is inbound to WHOM (94.9 Mount Washington NH) to join AJ Dukette on the morning show, starting next Monday. She’s been in Florida, where she was on WRBQ (104.7) in the Tampa market.
*The biggest story from NEW YORK this week comes from the CBS Radio News newsroom in the Broadcast Center on W. 57th Street. That’s where the news broke Friday of big staffing cuts, in the form of voluntary buyout packages that enticed several of the network’s signature voices to take retirement.
On the air, that includes anchors Bill Whitney and Harley Carnes and Washington correspondent Barry Bagnato. Washington bureau manager Howard Arenstein is out – and so is New York-based executive producer Charlie Kaye, the heart and soul of the New York newsroom. With 34 years under his belt at CBS (and an even longer news career before that at stations such as WHN), Kaye is the most senior of the CBS staffers to take the buyout.
CBS hasn’t commented, but it’s widely rumored that the cuts are being driven by a less-favorable new distribution deal between the network, which produces the content, and Cumulus-owned Westwood One, which distributes the service.
*A veteran Southern Tier broadcaster is moving from commercial to public broadcasting. Greg Catlin moved up through the ranks at Binghamton’s WBNG (Channel 12) over a 34-year career, starting as a reporter and eventually becoming news director and then the CBS affiliate’s general manager. He beat out 57 other applicants to replace Brian Sickora as CEO of WSKG Public Broadcasting, where he starts today in his new role overseeing public radio and TV across the southern tier.
Up I-88 in Albany, Dan Salamone is the new news director at WTEN (Channel 10)/WXXA (Channel 23), replacing Matt Miller. Salamone comes back to the northeast (where he’d worked in Providence) from an EP job at WFLD in Chicago.
On Long Island, Bob Aldrich has departed WLNG (92.1 Sag Harbor); he’s off to Michigan and a new gig as morning jock on the new WBZX (103.9) in Big Rapids.
Sad news from Port Jervis: Thomas Earl, who’d been the morning show host at WDLC (1490 Port Jervis, plus a 107.7 translator), died Nov. 30 at just 57 years old. Earl was retired from the Monroe-Woodbury schools, where he’d been an AV teacher, and he was also an accomplished musician. WDLC renamed its “Studio B” as “Studio T” to mark Earl’s passing.
And here in Rochester, we’ve been inexplicably remiss in not mentioning the November 10 death of Tom Hampson, the local lawyer whose passion for jazz kept him on the air as a part-time DJ for many years. Most recently, Hampson spent 30 years as the host of “Mostly Jazz” and “Jazz from the Cellar” on WXXI (1370), and he’d been heard before that on WXXI-FM (91.5) – but his radio days started back in 1960, when he was one of the partners in Community Music Service, which put WCMF (96.5) on the air with a mix of classical and jazz music. Hampson played jazz at WCMF even after the station flipped to rock and was sold; it wasn’t until 1980 that he moved over to public radio for good. Hampson was 87.
*A format change in north-central PENNSYLVANIA has taken Magnum Broadcasting’s WQKK (106.9 Renovo) from hot AC “Y106.9” to 80s pop as “Totally Awesome 80s, Q1069.” There’s no change so far to the talent lineup on the State College-market rimshot signal.
*Shelley Duffy’s departure from KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh) is now official. Listeners had noticed her absence from the afternoon news block she’d been co-hosting with Robert Mangino; she was best known, of course, for many years on FM morning radio at WBZZ (100.7) and before that as part of “John-Dave-Bubba-Shelley” on the old WBZZ (93.7).
In Scranton, Community Radio Collective has filed the $40,000 sale of its W289AU (105.7); it’s headed to “Visions Multi Media Group – WUFO Radio LLC,” which will move it to 100.7 in Buffalo to relay WUFO (1080 Amherst) starting early next year.
Up by the New York border, WVLH-LP (106.7 Coudersport) has filed for its license to cover; it’s owned by the “New Life & Health Network” and we have no idea yet what it will program.
*One of CANADA‘s oldest multicultural broadcasters wants to add a third program stream in Toronto. The Lombardi family put CHIN (1540) on the air in 1966, followed quickly by CHIN-FM (100.7) – and then, many years later, added CHIN-1-FM on 101.3, later on 91.9, to reinforce the AM station’s directional signal in Etobicoke and other eastern parts of the city.
Now CHIN has applied to break off the CHIN-FM-1 91.9 signal as a separate license, relaying the AM 1540 programming from 7 PM until 7 AM but originating 84 hours a week of its own programming during daytime hours. If it’s granted, 91.9 would carry Mandarin and Cantonese programming in the morning, with several Middle Eastern languages later in the day.
At Rogers’ CHFI (98.1 Toronto), Steve Roberts is out after two years as the morning newsman.
*In Kingston, one of Canada’s rare high school stations wants a power increase. CKVI (91.9) would jump from 7 watts/34.5 m to 436 watts average/2 kW max DA/28 m. The 91.9 frequency had been a higher-power signal in the past, before Queen’s University’s CFRC-FM moved to 101.9 in 1986.
In Montreal, Stéphane Major has been charged with arson for the Sept. 18 attack on CHWI (1410)’s studios. It was the third arson attack on the Haitian station, but it’s not clear whether Major was involved in the other two.
We’re a community.