In this week’s issue… WEEI stops down to address controversy – WMGK’s DeBella faces harassment suit – FM sale in Utica – Remembering a Boston TV news icon – PA morning man dies suddenly – Jays’ Howarth retires 

By SCOTT FYBUSH

Jump to: MENHVTMARICTNYNJ PACanada

*In a #metoo world where entertainers and politicians are increasingly under scrutiny for behavior that might not have raised many eyebrows a generation ago, commercial radio has remained largely immune – until now.

On Friday, all the local hosts at Boston’s WEEI were off the air, replaced for the day by syndicated fare from NBC Sports Radio so that the entire staff at the Entercom sports station could spend a day in sensitivity training. WEEI managers said the move was a response to several recent suspensions there, but it’s hard not to believe that the real pressure was coming from a different (and more potent) corner.

In the Globe, columnist Shirley Leung has been pushing back hard on the most recent WEEI misfire, in which midday host Christian Fauria was suspended for using a fake Asian accent to portray Don Yee, Tom Brady’s agent. And unlike many of the columnists who write about stories like this one, Leung has been asking questions to WEEI’s business partners – its advertisers and the teams whose games air there, especially the Red Sox, which shares ownership with the Globe.

At least one advertiser had already pulled out of a WEEI schedule when Entercom called the one-day sensitivity training for Friday. Were others about to follow suit? And will one day of training (which WEEI host Mike Mutnansky described as “heated” when he hit the air on Friday night) make a difference?

Meanwhile to the south, it’s Beasley that will take the next turn in the spotlight, as WMGK (102.9) morning icon John DeBella faces a lawsuit from a former sidekick who says DeBella sexually harassed her at work. Jennifer (“Posner”) Neill was part of DeBella’s show from 2010 to 2016, when she filed a complaint with the state about DeBella’s behavior, which she says included both unwanted physical contact and verbal harassment. She says she was given a choice of staying on the show or taking a lesser job as a traffic reporter, which she did briefly before leaving the station a year ago.

“We are not offering specific comment on the matter,” Beasley said in a statement. For now, DeBella is still on the air.

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*At WBUR (90.9 Boston), former “On Point” host Tom Ashbrook is now out permanently. Ashbrook had been suspended in December over allegations of sexual misconduct, and while an investigation cleared him of that, it found that he had created an abusive environment for co-workers on the show. Ashbrook issued a statement saying he’s “deeply disappointed” in what he calls an “unfair” outcome.

*Jack Hynes was one of the true class acts of Boston TV news over a 50-year career that stretched across two incarnations of channel 5 and the city’s UHF startup, channel 56. Hynes grew up in Dorchester as the son of John B. Hynes, Boston’s mayor from 1950-1960 and namesake of the convention center in the Back Bay. After serving in the Marine Corps for three years, Hynes worked at WBZ (1030), then joined the first channel 5, the Herald-Traveler‘s WHDH-TV, not long after it signed on in 1957. He became one of the station’s main anchors and, with much of its news staff, migrated out to Needham in 1972 to launch the new news operation on its channel 5 replacement, WCVB.

In 1984, with a new generation of anchors eclipsing him at WCVB, Hynes moved on to a new newsroom, WLVI (Channel 56), bringing name recognition to the new “Ten O’Clock News” operation at the independent station then owned by Gannett. Hynes remained at WLVI until his retirement in 2006, leaving the airwaves with a final commentary criticizing the station’s sale to Ed Ansin’s WHDH-TV (Channel 7), which shut down the WLVI newsroom.

Hynes, who was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2008, died Tuesday morning in Hingham. He was 88.

We send our condolences as well to the family of Grethe deSuze, who died Feb. 15 at 82. She was the widow of WBZ morning legend Carl deSuze, and the mother of two daughters, including longtime New England air talent Samantha deSuze.

*In CONNECTICUT, UConn women’s and men’s basketball, football and hockey have been staples on CBS Radio’s (now Entercom’s) WTIC (1080 Hartford) for 25 years – but they’re moving to a new home. Starting this fall, the Huskies will instead be heard on iHeart’s WUCS (97.9 Enfield), which has picked up the rights from IMG Sports. Entercom executives are telling the local papers that UConn was seeking favorable talk show coverage on WTIC, among other demands. Losing the UConn coverage from WTIC will eliminate many schedule conflicts with Red Sox broadcasts; meanwhile at iHeart, some conflicts on the WUCS schedule will be pushed to sister station WPOP (1410).

*Trignition Media took over last Wednesday at WWCO (1240 Waterbury), dropping the simulcast of the “Talk of Connecticut” format from WDRC (1360 Hartford) in favor of simulcasting the Spanish tropical format of “Viva! Radio” WRYM (840 New Britain). WRYM is already heard on a translator at 107.3, and WWCO has a construction permit for a potent new translator from West Peak in Meriden on 106.3.

*Few broadcasters are as aggressive when it comes to protecting the edges of their signal contours than Saga, and so it’s no surprise that Saga’s WFEA (1370) in Manchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE reacted strongly when WGHM (900) down the road in Nashua signed on a new translator at the end of 2017. The former W253AF moved from Bennington, Vermont to WGHM’s tower in Nashua, operating on the same 99.9 frequency as WFEA’s Manchester translator. Now Saga has filed a sheaf of complaints from WFEA listeners, seeking to have the WGHM translator shut down. But here’s the rub – as a secondary service, translators don’t have the same protection from interference that full-power FMs enjoy. Will Saga prevail here? We’ll be watching.

*Saga is also a player in a translator case in MAINE, where Light of Life Ministries runs W273DF (102.5) in Portland, leasing the signal out to sports talker WJJB (96.3 Gray). Light of Life applied to move the translator to 98.3 after that frequency was vacated by another translator last year, and it did so claiming “displacement” from incoming interference from WQSS (102.5 Camden) down the coast.

But Saga intervened, filing a complaint with the FCC alleging that the 102.5-to-98.3 move is actually a major change that should be put on hold until the FCC opens a major-change window for translators (an unlikely eventuality). Saga argued that in order to show “displacement” (which allows a major change to be made outside a window), a translator has to demonstrate that a new full-power signal has signed on to force such a move. The FCC dismissed Light of Life’s application on Feb. 7, but Light of Life is appealing, arguing that WQSS made a tower move in 2016 that created new interference to the Portland translator. (WQSS did indeed move – but its signal contour toward Portland remained almost unchanged.)

Saga’s not a disinterested party here: keeping Light of Life off 98.3 would clear the way for the FCC to approve Saga’s own 98.3 application filed in the January translator window for its WGAN (560).

*There’s another “this isn’t a minor change” moment coming on the Seacoast, where Cultural Media Connection’s WBUB-LP (96.1 Portsmouth NH) filed an application with the FCC to move to 101.5 and relocate across the river to a new site in Eliot, Maine. WBUB cited interference from WSRS (96.1 Worcester MA) as a justification for the move, but WSRS was there long before the LPFM was, meaning there’s no opportunity to claim a displacement move here, either.

*A surprise sale rocked the upstate NEW YORK media world on Thursday: Galaxy Broadcasting, which bought WOUR (96.9 Utica) in the summer of 2007 as part of Clear Channel’s exit from the market, announced it’s selling the big classic rock station to competitor Townsquare.

The $3.95 million deal includes an immediate LMA of the station. For Townsquare, it adds a fourth big FM to a cluster that already included classic hits WODZ (96.1 the Eagle), AC WLZW (Lite 98.7), country WFRG (Big Frog 104.3) and news-talk WIBX (950). For Galaxy, it leaves behind a smaller cluster with rock WKLL (K-Rock 94.9), hot AC WUMX (Mix 102.5), adult hits “Tony” (WKLL-HD2/W256AJ 99.1) and the sports trio of WTLB (1310 Utica)/WRNY (1350 Rome)/WIXT (1230 Little Falls).

But that’s not all it means for Galaxy: in a letter to staffers, CEO Ed Levine says the money from the WOUR sale is being used to buy out Galaxy’s New York-based capital lenders, reducing (and eventually eliminating) Galaxy’s debt load once the company pays off a new loan it’s getting from a local bank. As Levine pointedly notes, two of his biggest Syracuse competitors (iHeart and Cumulus) are struggling under their debt loads, which makes the ability to operate debt-free even more important to the newly-renamed “Galaxy Media LLC.” Levine says he plans to have Galaxy operating debt-free in ten years.

The company is also expanding its events business, opening a new office in Charlotte, N.C. under the name “Big Dog Events,” headed by Live Nation veteran Rob Wooten.

*Downstate, Don Imus’ exit from WABC (770 New York) next month is coming with a side of drama, in the form of an age-discrimination lawsuit from former “Imus in the Morning” sportscaster Warner Wolf. Wolf was 78 when he was let go from the show at the end of 2016, in part because of dissatisfaction with a new working arrangement that had him in a home studio in Florida instead of WABC’s New York digs. Wolf says he was owed nearly $100,000 in severance from Cumulus, though there’s disagreement about whether there was a signed contract in place mandating that severance pay.

Wolf’s replacement on the Imus show was Sid Rosenberg – and there were some pretty broad (and unsurprising) hints being dropped last week that Rosenberg and producer/sidekick Bernie McGuirk will take over mornings on WABC when Imus signs off at the end of March. (With, we’d assume, something syndicated replacing the late-morning “Bernie and Sid” show that now follows Imus.)

Joe Curci is leaving WOR (710), moving on to a new job managing a summer camp; WOR producer Ray Martel gets the promotion from Len Berman’s morning show, taking over from Curci as executive producer of the Mets radio network and “Sports Zone with Pete McCarthy.”

TV repack news: there’s late word that WRNN (Channel 48) in the Hudson Valley has reached a deal to channel-share on Fox’s WWOR in New York. No details of the arrangement have been released yet.

*In the Hudson Valley, Mark Bolger has parted ways with Townsquare’s WCZX (Mix 97.7), where he’d been since 2011. Bolger’s long run in the region included previous stints at WSPK (K104.7) and WBWZ (93.3); co-host Taylor Dickson is now solo in mornings.

Up north, the last remaining license in Ted Morgan’s failed Radio Lake Placid group is being sold. WRGR (102.1 Tupper Lake) is headed to Border Media Licenses LLC, if the FCC accepts their request for a waiver of the foreign ownership rules. Border, which is paying $8000 for the long-silent signal, belongs to UK national Ricki Shorthose (aka Ricki-Lee Coulter) and his wife Hanna Kaleta, a Polish citizen. Shorthose’s broadcast experience includes PD posts in Bristol, England and co-founding the Aiir audio content management system.

WDHA air studio
WDHA air studio, summer 2017

*A NEW JERSEY rock radio veteran is sticking around: Beasley has signed a multi-year deal to keep WDHA (105.5) PD/midday host Terrie Carr at the station, where she’s been on the air since 2010 and has been PD since last summer.

*It was a sad week for radio listeners in the Reading, PENNSYLVANIA market, where Cumulus’ WIOV-FM (105.1 Ephrata) lost longtime morning man Jerry Murphy, who was found dead in his home in East Lampeter Township on Wednesday morning.

Co-workers at “I105” called police after Murphy didn’t show up for the “Murph and Casey” show and PD Rich Creeger went to his home and found the door locked. The station announced Murphy’s death to listeners around 10:30 Wednesday morning, then devoted Thursday morning’s show to a remembrance of “Murph,” who’d been with the station since 1999.

Police say no foul play is suspected in Murphy’s death. He was 61.

*Up the road in the Harrisburg market, EMF has filed for new calls for the former WTPA (92.1 Palmyra), which will become WKHL when it signs back on with “K-Love” contemporary Christian any day now.

*In Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Cumulus has found a replacement for Randy Savage as PD of WBHT (97.1)/WBHD (95.7). Chad Valentine starts in that gig (and middays on the air, too) tomorrow, moving back north from south Florida, where he’d been with iHeart’s WHYI and WLDI. This is Valentine’s second time at BHT – he was on the air there on the night shift from 2001-2004. (And it’s yet another even swap, since Savage went from Pennsylvania down to Florida to become operations manager for Renda in Jacksonville.)

*We’re still a few weeks away from our annual “Baseball on the Radio” rundown, but there’s news from the biggest radio booth in CANADA: after 36 seasons with the Blue Jays, Jerry Howarth announced last week that he won’t be able to call the team’s games this year.

Howarth made a two-hour appearance Tuesday on flagship CJCL (Sportsnet 590 the FAN) to tell fans that the health issues that have affected his voice in recent years have become too serious to allow him to stay on the job. The Jays haven’t yet said how they’ll fill his place on their radio coverage this year, though one prominent contender for Howarth’s job might be Dan Shulman, the former ESPN Sunday Night Baseball host who’s been working for Sportsnet in Canada.

Across the lake, Radio Dhun has received its first extension from the CRTC to get its new 1220 in St. Catharines built out. The 10,000-watt signal (replacing the now-defunct CHSC) now has until April 20, 2019, reports Canadian Radio News.

*In Quebec, we’ve been remiss in not noting the latest firing of shock-talker Andre Arthur. He’d been relegated to a second-tier station, Leclerc’s CFEL (“BLVD 102.1”), after bigger CHOI (98.1 Radio X) fired him in 2016, but the latest straw appeared to have been his reference to a street in front of a Quebec City gay bar as “AIDS Boulevard.” Co-host Marc-André Lord is now handling the noontime show solo on CFEL.

And in the Maritimes, the unions who represent the production crews for Global’s local TV news operation in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are protesting the network’s plans to end local evening news production in Halifax. Instead, reporters in the Maritimes will send their stories to Global’s Toronto headquarters, where anchors will deliver the “local” news. (Anchors will still be local in the Halifax studios for the Global morning show.)

It’s not just TV that’s taking an employment hit – Canadian Radio News reports that all of the local staff at the Maritime Broadcasting System cluster in Saint John, New Brunswick has been let go, with out-of-town talent tracking shows on CFBC (930), CIOK (K100) and CJYC (Kool 98.9).

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From the NERW Archives

Yup, we’ve been doing this a long time now, and so we’re digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five, ten, fifteen and twenty years ago this week, or thereabouts.

Note that the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as “New England Radio Watch,” and didn’t go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997.

One Year Ago: February 20, 2017

*How much is a TV station worth?

That question may have just become much harder to answer after a very busy week in which we’ve learned how much the FCC’s spectrum incentive auction is paying several independent stations to go dark – and how much a fast-growing group owner is paying for one of the stations that isn’t taking part in the auction.

The week’s biggest headlines included the news from NEW HAMPSHIRE that Bill Binnie’s WBIN-TV (Channel 50) will go dark eventually – and has shuttered its news operation immediately; the news from NEW YORK‘s Hudson Valley that WRNN (Channel 48) may have the auction’s biggest payout; word from MASSACHUSETTS that Ed Ansin will take WLVI (Channel 56) dark in the auction; CBS and Scripps’ decision not to unload any of their spectrum… oh, and then the surprise announcement that MAINE‘s oldest TV station will be getting a new owner.

*It wasn’t all that surprising, in the end, that Bill Binnie put WBIN-TV’s spectrum in the auction. The independent station on channel 50 (ex-WNDS, then briefly WZMY) never reached the entire Boston market over the air, but its UHF channel still had plenty of value in the FCC’s plan to clear out spectrum to be sold to wireless carriers. How much value? $68.1 million, Binnie said – plus another $20 million or so in a side deal with a “major broadcaster” to sell off certain other rights, believed to involve Binnie’s three low-power VHF signals in Nashua, Manchester and Concord.

The bigger surprise, at least where the timing was concerned, was Binnie’s immediate shutdown of its NH1 News operation, which broadcast its last shows on WBIN Thursday night. Launched just a year ago with great fanfare, NH1 had invested heavily in challenging the traditional dominant player in New Hampshire TV news, Hearst’s WMUR (Channel 9). While the NH1 newscasts never came near WMUR’s ratings, their sudden demise puts a newsroom full of good people out of work.

*And there’s still more TV news from MAINE, where Gray Television is buying Bangor CBS affiliate WABI-TV (Channel 5) from Diversified Communications in an $85 million deal that also includes sister station WCJB (Channel 20) in Gainesville, Florida.

The sale makes WABI-TV once again a sister to WAGM-TV (Channel 8) in Presque Isle, which Diversified owned from 1957 until 1984. It also ends one of the longest runs of family ownership in television: Diversified is still owned by the Hildreth family, descendants of former governor Horace Hildreth, who put WABI-TV on the air in 1953.

Five Years Ago: February 18, 2013

*Glenn Ordway was part of Boston’s WEEI before the station was even doing all-sports, and he survived multiple owners and three incarnations (590, 850 and 93.7) – but the veteran sports talker’s long run at WEEI came to an abrupt end late last week when he became the biggest name in a big week of talent shuffles in eastern MASSACHUSETTS.

Perhaps with an eye toward Ordway’s remarkable 27-year run at the station (where he started doing Celtics games in 1987, was one of the charter crew of talk hosts during WEEI’s 1991 flip from all-news to sports and even spent a few years as PD in the mid-1990s), Entercom gave Ordway the chance to say goodbye on the air, announcing his dismissal Wednesday but keeping him on the afternoon “Big Show” through Friday.

Why is Entercom parting ways with someone they valued highly enough to give a reported five-year, million-dollar-a-year contract as recently as 2009? The company’s not saying, but the immediate reasons are pretty obvious. When Ordway re-upped in 2009, CBS Radio was still months away from launching its rival “Sports Hub” (WBZ-FM 98.5), which quickly turned out to be a much more potent threat to WEEI’s sports dominance than most observers had expected. Had WEEI quickly shifted gears to FM itself, it might have staved off “Sports Hub,” but instead Entercom held its fire and remained on the AM dial for two long years – which also, unfortunately for WEEI, turned out also to coincide with a downward slide for its bread and butter, the Red Sox.

Chained to a painfully expensive Red Sox rights deal, that appears to have left Entercom with little choice but to cut costs where it can – and while it can’t easily get out of its Sox contract, WEEI did apparently have a ratings-target clause that gave it an out from Ordway’s five-year deal.(The Globe reports that Ordway’s salary was already cut in half in 2011 when his show failed to hit its ratings goal, but even $500,000 a year is a lot to be spending on talent in 2013.)

The station also had a ready replacement waiting in the wings, at least if “the wings” are 3,000 miles to the west at sister station KIRO (710) in Seattle. That’s where Boston native Mike Salk has been working since 2009, and where he’s now packing his boxes to move back home as Ordway’s replacement alongside Michael Holley on “The Big Show.” Salk has prior Boston radio experience at the old “ESPN 890″ (WAMG) and at WWZN (1510), but the WEEI gig will put him in a much bigger spotlight as Entercom tries to attract the same younger listeners who’ve been moving to the Sports Hub’s afternoon show with Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti. (They, in turn, spent part of their Thursday show praising Ordway, who gave them prominent exposure as guest hosts on the “Big Show” earlier in their own careers.)

*Amidst all the arrivals, Boston radio veterans are mourning a prominent departure. Paul Benzaquin was one of the city’s talk radio pioneers, moving into talk in 1963, three years after starting at CBS-owned WEEI (590) as a newsman. Already well-known in town as a columnist for the Globe and Herald in the 1950s, Benzaquin became an even bigger star as a talk host. After a year in Chicago in 1970, Benzaquin came home to Boston in 1971, doing a morning talk show on WNAC-TV (Channel 7) and afternoons on WEEI through the middle of the decade. Benzaquin later worked at WBZ (1030), WITS (1510), WHDH (850) and ended his career in the early 1990s at WRKO (680). Benzaquin was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2007. He died Wednesday (Feb. 13) at age 90.

*Another of the week’s big headlines came from southern CONNECTICUT, where Cox Media Group found a buyer for the last remaining stations in its Milford-based cluster. Over the last few years, Cox has been tightly focusing itself on markets where it can own dominant combinations of radio, TV and often print as well (think Atlanta, where the company owns WSB-TV, a five-station radio cluster including WSB radio, and the Journal-Constitution) and seeking to exit markets where it doesn’t see a path to that sort of dominance.

In Fairfield County, there’s no TV to own at all, so Cox has been making a gradual exit, spinning off WKHL (now WKLV-FM) to EMF and the AM duo of WSTC/WNLK to Sacred Heart University in recent years. With a big splash last week, Cox announced two deals to unload many of its remaining radio-only clusters, with a management-led group (doing business as Summit Media) acquiring clusters from Birmingham to Honolulu – and the Connecticut stations going to Jeff Warshaw’s Connoisseur Media for  $40 million.

*In RHODE ISLAND, veteran broadcaster Ron St. Pierre is gone from WPRO (630)/WEAN-FM (99.7), and rather abruptly at that. St. Pierre came to WPRO in 1988 as program director, moving over from competitor WHJJ (920) to help transition the station all the way to talk. He went on the air in 2001 as morning host (while also serving as operations director), and has moved around the schedule in the ensuing decade, co-hosting middays with Buddy Cianci and then doing afternoons with Cianci.

Ten Years Ago: February 18, 2008

*Make a list of the most memorable voices in the history of Boston morning radio, and a few names are bound to be at the top. There’s the roster of legends at WBZ – de Suze, Maynard and Lapierre – and several greats from the FM era, such as Laquidara and Siegel.But at or near the top of that list, for anyone who listened to the radio in eastern MASSACHUSETTS between the late fifties and early nineties, would be the name of Jess Cain, who died Thursday morning at his Back Bay home.

A World War II veteran, the Philadelphia native turned to acting after the war, then took a job teaching communications at Notre Dame University before moving to Boston in the mid-fifties with his colleague Jack Hynes.

Cain was the morning man at Boston’s WHDH (850) from 1957 until 1991, a remarkable run that spanned multiple owners and multiple formats. Along the way, he contributed characters like Sidney Flack and Hap Smiley to the lexicon, as well as tunes such as “Fly Me to Methuen” (to the tune of “Fly Me to the Moon”) and the immortal “Yaz Song” that was one of the theme songs for the “Impossible Dream” season in 1967.

In addition to his radio career, Cain returned in later years to the stage, taking part in amateur theater productions until the last few years, when his illnesses began to take a toll.

It’s arguable that Cain never received the honors he deserved, in part because WHDH radio ceased to exist not long after his retirement. (Its successor at the 850 spot on the dial, WEEI, aired the “Yaz Song” in Cain’s memory Thursday, and over at WBZ, Jordan Rich devoted an hour of his show Friday to Cain.)

Cain was 81; a public memorial service is scheduled for Saturday (Feb. 23) at 10 AM at the Glastonbury Monastery in Hingham.

*In other Boston news, it turned out CBS Radio wasn’t done cutting jobs in the Hub even after the axe had swung in most of its other markets. In all, we’re told there are now 15 or so fewer jobs at CBS’ Boston stations.

Among the positions cut was that of WBZ assistant news director Paul Connearney, who’d been at the station since the 1991 demise of his previous employer, all-news WEEI (590). WBZ also lost one IT position, while over at WBCN (104.1) overnighter “Juanita the Scene Queen” was moved off that shift to part-time weekend status. And at WODS (103.3), Patrick Callahan lost his spot on the jock roster, with JJ Wright moving from overnights to Callahan’s former night slot.

Over at Entercom, there’s a new member of the Red Sox radio team for the 2008 season. With the departure of Glenn Geffner, Dave O’Brien will now handle 135 of the 162 regular-season games alongside Joe Castiglione. Dale Arnold will cover most of the rest, with studio host Jon Rish filling in on a few while O’Brien is taking care of his ESPN duties.

*One of NEW YORK‘s more obscure spots on the FM dial is about to get an injection of new programming ideas from the opposite coast. WNYE (91.5), which has programmed a mixture of overflow NPR talk programming and ethnic shows for the last few years, has signed a deal with Seattle’s KEXP (90.3) to provide it with music programming.

KEXP, which is licensed to the University of Washington but operated as an independent alternative music voice (with funding from Microsoft founder Paul Allen, among others) will supply WNYE with a three-hour weekday morning show customized for the New York market, followed at 9 AM by a three-hour simulcast of KEXP’s Seattle morning show, as well as several weekly specialty shows.

Upstate, Eric Straus has sold the last of his radio holdings. The onetime Hudson Valley owner moved heavily into Internet advertising a few years back, creating the “regionalhelpwanted.com” and “cupid.com” sites that link with local radio stations to provide non-traditional revenue. Now he’s selling that business to onTargetjobs, which owns sites such as CareerBank.com. The $100 million sale apparently includes Regional’s three radio stations in the Glens Falls market, WWSC (1450 Glens Falls), WCKM (98.5 Lake George) and WCQL (95.9 Queensbury).

In Albany, “Talk 1300” has new calls. Paul Vandenburgh’s station was to have become WCBI (Capital Broadcasters, Inc.), but those calls already belong to a TV station in Mississippi – so the former WTMM (1300 Rensselaer) is now WGDJ.

*Two veteran PENNSYLVANIA radio newspeople are taking voluntary retirements as part of CBS Radio’s cutbacks. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 37-year KYW (1060 Philadelphia) veteran Don Lancer, the station’s business editor, and South Jersey bureau chief Ed Kasuba, who’s been with the station 33 years, both offered to retire to fulfill CBS’ goal of reducing two positions from the KYW news staff. Lancer is the longest-serving member of KYW’s staff.

Meanwhile over on the engineering side, CBS Radio engineering honcho Glynn Walden is relocating from New York to Philadelphia, where he’ll also serve as chief engineer of KYW.

A new owner is taking control of Philadelphia-market independent TV station WTVE (Channel 51). Richard French, who owns the New York-market Regional News Network, based at WRNN-DT (Channel 48 Kingston NY), is leading a group that’s paying $11.5 million to buy WTVE out of bankruptcy. Will WTVE become a southern arm of French’s RNN?

*In CANADA, there’s a frequency change coming in Ontario’s “Cottage Country” next month, as Larche Communications completes its acquisition of Rogers’ “Jack FM” CICX (105.9 Orillia), which it received (along with C$8.2 million) in trade for its “KICX” CIKZ (106.7 Kitchener). Up in the Midland/Orillia area, Larche will move the “KICX” country format from CICZ (104.1 Midland) back to 105.9, where it started back in the nineties. That March 3 shuffle will bring a new, as yet undisclosed, format to 104.1.

Fifteen Years Ago: February 17, 2003

*A week after a fire severely damaged their transmitter facilities high atop Mount Washington, NEW HAMPSHIRE, the radio stations (and many other users) that depended on New England’s highest peak are still struggling to get back to normal.

The former WMTW-TV transmi