In this week’s issue… Vermont stations stay in the family – “Vault” opens in Binghamton – NJBA, MAB name hall of famers – So long, Tootall!
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*When Ken Squier announced earlier this year that he wanted to sell his Radio VERMONT Group to local owners, he meant it: beginning October 1, the stations that have been in his family since 1931 will go into the very good hands of local broadcast veteran Steve “Corm” Cormier.
Vermonters know Corm best as the longtime co-host of the “Corm and the Coach” morning show that aired on several Burlington-market stations including WIZN (106.7), where he was also PD in the 1980s and 90s. More recently, Corm’s been getting into station management down at WTSA in Brattleboro – and even more recently as Squier’s sales manager at the Radio Vermont stations.
The deal, which has yet to be filed with the FCC or have a price announced, will give Corm three programming streams in central Vermont: the heritage full-service Radio Vermont on WDEV (550 Waterbury)/WDEV-FM (96.1 Warren) and translators, AC “101 the One” on WCVT (101.7 Stowe) and WEXP (101.5 Brandon), and country WLVB (93.9 Morrisville).
Corm (shown at left during his brief detour into auto sales) is promising no immediate changes at 101 the One or WLVB, but the transition from the Squier family will mean one huge change at WDEV with the immediate departure of Eric Michaels. He’s been Squier’s right-hand man at the station for years, most recently serving as executive vice president, and had reportedly been trying himself to put together a deal to acquire the stations. His departure after 30 years with the station will be noticed both off the air and on, since he’s been one of the station’s key voices for years.
One voice who won’t be disappearing from WDEV is Ken Squier himself; Cormier says he’s going to be a welcome part of the Radio Vermont family for as long as he wants.
We’ll have more on the Radio Vermont transition in the weeks to come as we learn more about the purchase terms.
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*CBS Radio is making schedule changes at “Fresh” WNEW (102.7 NEW YORK), where Mike Adam comes on board for afternoons. He’d previously worked for CBS at the former “Amp” WZMP (96.5 Philadelphia) until the end of 2016. His arrival at Hudson Square moves afternoon jock (and former morning co-host) Cane Peterson to nights, and sends night guy Matt Sneed to weekends.
*One of the familiar voices of “Newsradio 88” in the 1970s and 1980s has died. Robert Vaughn was a native of Spartanburg, S.C. and began his broadcast career there at WSPA and WORD before becoming one of the drive-time anchors in New York at WCBS. He later retired to Florida, where he died Sept. 11 at 87.
*In Binghamton, Steve Gilinsky’s WLTB (101.7 Johnson City) has split off its full-market translator at 102.5 (W273AB Vestal) with a separate format from top-40 “Magic 101.7.” As of last Friday night, it’s now doing classic rock as “102.5 the Vault,” picking up some of the slack left behind from Equinox’s recent flip that took one of its translators, “Z93” (W225BC/WRRQ-HD3), from classic rock to hip-hop.
*Here in Rochester, WDKX (103.9) has some new competition for the urban audience: on Thursday evening, Bluelight Communications launched “105.5 the Beat” on translator W288CS and on an HD2 it’s leasing from WLGZ (102.7), which had had its HD turned off for more than a year. Bluelight, which has hired veteran Mickey Johnson as its PD, is paying Genesee Media $650,000 for the translator high atop Xerox Tower downtown. The new station will carry the syndicated “Breakfast Club” in mornings, with Kentucky-based Pamela Anise serving as assistant PD under Johnson and tracking middays. No afternoon or night hosts are on board yet.
Can an out-of-town entrant without much local presence do serious damage to WDKX, whose connection to the community over the last 43 years is one of the legendary stories of local radio? We’ll be listening…
Meanwhile, Genesee has also split programming on its AM signals: WOKR (1310 Canandaigua) is now running a talk format featuring Gordon Deal, Brian Kilmeade, Bloomberg Radio and Tom Shillue; its former “Team” sports programming continues on WRSB (1590 Brockport) and the big translator at 97.5 that’s now Team’s primary home, replacing its old home at 105.5.
*In the Finger Lakes, WFLR (1570 Dundee, plus two translators) is on the move. The Finger Lakes Radio Group station has called an old house at 30 Main Street in Dundee its home for almost half a century, but it’s moving north to Penn Yan in the next few months, where it will occupy the former Radio Shack storefront. (It’s a partial return for WFLR, which had a satellite studio and sales office in downtown Penn Yan in the 1970s and 1980s.)
*From the reading pile: former WJYE (96.1 Buffalo) morning personality Laura Daniels is out of the business now, and judging by the “breakup letter” she posted to the industry on her website last week, she’s not coming back any time soon.
Up north, there’s a call change at WBKM (107.1 Dannemora), one of the stations Randy Michaels’ RadioActive LLC leases out at the edge of the Burlington, Vermont market. The new calls up there are WWWF, which would appear to mean the end of the “Burlington’s Kind of Music” LMA with a Burlington-based AAA-formatted stream.
*Who’s going into the NEW JERSEY Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame this year? It’s the NJBA’s 70th anniversary, and its new class of inductees includes Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco of WKXW (New Jersey 101.5), Imus producer Bernie McGuirk, Connoisseur CEO Jeff Warshaw, Press Communications CFO Rich Morena and Steve Andrews, who does mornings at WSUS (102.3 Sussex). NJBA will also induct “60 Minutes” as the first TV show in its hall of fame.
It’s still not at all clear what’s really happening to little WGHT (1500 Pompton Lakes), the full-service daytimer that had been the subject of reports earlier in the summer that owner John Silliman would soon take it dark. WGHT is still on the air for now, and the Bergen Record reports that the borough of Pompton Lakes has agreed in principle to at least consider an offer from Silliman to donate the station to the community. Silliman tells the paper there’s “no story yet,” and officials in the borough are making it sound as though it could be months before any formal deal is announced. A sticking point, it appears, is a demand that the borough not split up the WGHT license (which it may or may not really want) and the station’s three acres of land (which the borough does want) for at least three years after a donation closes.
*In CONNECTICUT, Jim Buchanan is out of afternoon drive at WICC (600 Bridgeport), with the syndicated Dave Ramsey replacing him in that slot at the Cumulus-owned talker. Buchanan did mornings there in the 1970s, worked elsewhere in the state and then came back in 1979, taking the afternoon shift in 1982. His ouster leaves only a local morning show at the old “Service Six,” once one of the great full-service AMs in the region.
*At the north end of Lake Winnipesaukee in NEW HAMPSHIRE, WANH (91.5 Meredith) is seeking a frequency and site change. New Hampshire Gospel Radio is applying to move WANH from 91.5 to 88.3, relocating westward to a new site on a wooden pole just north of Meredith. It would go from its present 1.7 kW/8m (horizontal only) to 2.2 kW/45m DA with the move, adding fringe coverage of Laconia and pushing its signal westward to the I-93 corridor.
*Congratulations to Portland morning mainstay Chuck Igo on his induction into the MAINE Broadcasters Hall of Fame over the weekend! (If there were other inductees – and we think there were – they haven’t appeared on MAB’s website, which appears to be stuck in 2014…)
Photo: Andy Pal via Chuck Igo/Facebook
*It’s not “news,” technically, but in Williamsport, PENNSYLVANIA, ESPN moved over to Backyard’s WWPA (1340) and its 101.3 translator back in May, though we just found out about it while driving through late last week. The former ESPN affiliate, WLYC (1050), now carries Fox Sports in tandem with a translator at 92.7, while WLYC’s former 104.1 translator is now paired with WEJS (1600 Jersey Shore) doing news/talk and some overflow sports programming.
In addition to a day of tributes from CHOM staffers and alumni, local dignitaries and musicians, Tootall was honored Friday night with a concert at Montreal’s Club Soda featuring still more tributes and an all-star lineup of Montreal bands.
Nobody will fill Tootall’s shoes (we’ve seen ’em – they’re big!), but the midday shift on CHOM will belong to Randy Renaud beginning today.
Hear some of Tootall’s farewell show as part of our next Top of the Tower podcast, here on fybush.com or your favorite podcast app on Wednesday morning!