In this week’s issue… Progressive talk fades out in Ithaca – Oldies format jumps Lake Champlain – Philly radio tradition ends – Stroke of luck for Canadian radio employees
By SCOTT FYBUSH
As general manager Chet Osadchey explained to the Ithaca Times, it’s not so much that WNYY is leaving the format, but rather that the format left WNYY – of the syndicated hosts who were doing weekday shows for terrestrial radio, only Alan Colmes, Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann remain available, leaving too many schedule holes for the station to try to keep plugging.
For a format that was once represented in NERW-land markets as big as New York, Boston and Buffalo, what’s left of progressive talk can be counted on one hand. There’s still Saga’s WHMP network in western Massachusetts (though it, too, is on life support in Springfield, where it appears the addition of an FM translator to WHNP 1600 will bring a flip to a music format) and Saga’s WKVT (1490) in Brattleboro, Vermont.
As for WNYY, when it changes formats next month, it will also change translators: its present FM signal, W249CD (97.7), will move to 105.1 in East Longmeadow, Mass. to become WHNP’s FM, while W237DX (95.3 East Liverpool OH) moves to 94.1 in Ithaca to relay the oldies from WNYY.
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This is a special year for our calendar – it’s the 20th anniversary for us, and the 100th anniversary of America’s radio boom in 1922, when the industry really took off and stations erupted all over the country. This special edition of the calendar will showcase the survivors from the Class of 1922, which grew into some of America’s biggest radio stations.
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*In New York City, Rick Thomas’ contract is up as PD at WBMP (92.3 AMP), and so he’s exiting the top-40 station. No permanent replacement has been named yet.
Congratulations to Ron Parker – the veteran New York jock (WCBS-FM, and most recently WNSH) just started a new gig as afternoon host on Cumulus classic hits WLS-FM (94.7) in Chicago!
Way up Route 17 (or is it I-86 now?) in Hancock, The Scranton Times LP’s WQFM has filed for a license to cover its move from 107.1 to 104.5. The relay of Scranton’s WEZX (Rock 107) had been plagued by the technical challenge of receiving the WEZX signal on 106.9 and retransmitting it at 107.1; it should sound cleaner now.
*In MAINE, Scott Hooper is out as PD and morning host on Bill Binnie’s “W-BACH” classical network (WBQX 106.9 Thomaston and WTHT 99.9-HD2/96.9 in Portland); is a format change from classical imminent?
Down the coast, the Harpswell Radio Project’s WHPW-LP (97.3) has filed for a license to cover.
*Formats on the move in VERMONT and vicinity: the oldies that had been on WCAT (1390 Burlington) and its translator at 98.3 are migrating across the lake. That AM signal is silent for the moment, and what had been “Big CAT” is now “Mid-Century Radio” on the former WTWK (1070 Plattsburgh), now renamed WPLB, along with its translator at 103.7. (If you’ve been following the bouncing format ball there, this is the signal that had been simulcasting country from “97.9 the Moose,” WZXP Au Sable, and then had been stunting briefly as “What Is 103.7?”)
*Radio People on the Move in MASSACHUSETTS: Boston radio veteran Bev Tilden is stepping down as GM at Cape Cod Radio, where Greg Bone takes over daily leadership at WQRC (99.9), WFCC (107.5), WOCN (104.7) and WKPE (103.9).
There’s a radio obituary from the Cape, too; Al Makkay, who died January 12, started in radio in the 1950s in Arizona after serving in the Army. He worked his way up through management posts around the northeast in the 1960s and 1970s, then entered radio ownership in 1981 with the purchase of what was then WKZE (104.7) in Orleans. Makkay launched WPXC (Pixy 103) in 1987 and later added WCIB (101.9 Falmouth) and WRZE (96.3 Nantucket) to his Makkay Group before selling in 2003.
*In CONNECTICUT, Tim Helmecki has departed his post as assistant chief engineer at CBS Radio in Hartford. He’s taken a new job in IT outside the broadcast field, leaving behind a 20-year career with the cluster that started as a producer/board op at WTIC (1080) and included time as the road engineer for UConn Radio Network sports play-by-play. He’s been in the engineering department there since 2004; he’ll continue to do some freelance engineering for sports broadcasts.
*In NEW JERSEY, Debbie Mazella has been promoted to PD from APD at Beasley’s WMGQ (98.3 New Brunswick); she’s still doing middays there as well. Mazella fills the hole created when Jeff Rafter jumped to Press Communications last month, becoming VP/programming there.
Matt Raback moves up from VP/sales to VP/market manager for Cumulus in its York-Lancaster-Reading PENNSYLVANIA cluster; he’s now overseeing sports WIOV (1240), country WIOV-FM (105.1) and WZCY (106.7),
In Philadelphia, the Inquirer reports that KYW (1060) has quietly stopped announcing school closings, ending a long tradition of using numbers instead of names to run through the list of hundreds of small districts in the tri-state area it covers. And we send our congratulations to KYW’s Steve Butler, who has renewed his contract for the long term as PD and as VP/news programming for CBS Radio.
At Beasley’s Philadelphia cluster, Matt Smith takes over as VP/GSM, moving up I-95 from the VP/market manager post at sister station WJBR in Wilmington, Delaware.
Over at Temple University’s WRTI (90.1 Philadelphia), station manager Bill Johnson gets promoted to GM, filling the big shoes left behind when Dave Conant retired from that post at the end of the year.
West of Philadelphia in Exton, W221DG (92.1) has signed on, relaying the HD2 of WRTI (90.1); when WRTI’s main channel is doing classical by day, the HD2 and 92.1 are in jazz, and vice versa at night.
In Pittsburgh, Kathy Berggren is leaving KDKA (1020)’s morning traffic reports behind to join AAA, where she’ll oversee public and community relations.
*And if you’ve ever been part of a group lottery pool at your radio station, it’s nice to know that sometimes they pay off. That’s our big story from CANADA, where the employees at Blackburn’s stations in Wingham (CKNX 920, CKNX-FM 101.7 “The One” and CIBU 94.5) have been paying in $2 a week for years now. On January 6, their bets paid off: 27 of the employees there will share a C$1 million payout, which means $37,000 each.
Our other story from Canada? It’s small, but we’ve been checking regularly on CFBN (93.3 St. Catharines) for the last year or so as we’ve driven past – and after months of testing, the signal is now up and running with a short loop of bridge information for the Welland Canal.
We’re a community.