In this week’s issue… Big Canadian broadcaster changes hands – Vermont FM sells – Boston programmer returns – New signals in the Ocean State – Heritage TV signals mark anniversaries
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*For one of the biggest deals in recent memory in CANADA, Stingray Digital Group’s acquisition of Newcap Radio parent Newfoundland Capital came as a half-billion dollar surprise when the news broke on Wednesday.
The C$506 million deal makes Stingray a broadcast player for the first time, but the Montreal-based company has plenty of experience delivering audio content to consumers over other platforms. It’s a big provider of cable music channels in Canada and abroad, as well as streaming music apps, karaoke services and a recent venture into providing 4K ultra-high-definition TV channels to cable and satellite providers.
The addition of Newcap’s 72 originating stations and 29 rebroadcasters will give Stingray a promotional platform for those services, the company says, as well as providing advertising sales experience that it can use for those 4K TV services.
Those Newcap outlets stretch from coast to coast, including the Steele family’s original holdings in Newfoundland (the St. John’s-based VOCM stations), a strong base in the Maritimes (where the radio division is headquartered in Dartmouth, N.S.), CILV (Live 88.5) and CIHT (Hot 89.9) in Ottawa, and the big stations Newcap acquired out of the spinoffs from the Bell/Astral merger in 2014, CFXJ (93.5 the Move) and CHBM (Boom 97.3) in Toronto.
Stingray says it intends to keep current Newcap management in place, with few plans so far to make any big changes at the radio stations as it incorporates them into what it says will be Canada’s leading independent music business.
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*Across the border, there are broadcast people on the move all over NEW YORK. On Long Island, Kara Reifert gets a well-deserved promotion, joining Steve Harper as his co-host at WKJY (98.3 Hempstead)’s “K 98.3 Morning Crew.”
In New York City, Sarah Wardrop moves from assistant PD to production director at WFUV (90.7), with Eric Gottlieb, formerly programming manager at Music Choice, joining WFUV as APD.
*In Albany, Pete Kelly moves from middays to mornings at Pamal/Albany Broadcasting’s WKLI (100.9 the Cat), where he joins new hire Kristina Carlyle as “K.C. and Kelly in the Morning.” Their new show, which debuted Tuesday, displaces former morning co-host Kevin Richards to middays; Richards’ former co-host Dana Race is now across town at WGNA (107.7).
*Jim Riley is the new VP/market manager at Cumulus in Buffalo, moving up the potholed pavement of the New York Thruway after 13 years in that same role at Cumulus in Erie. Riley was general sales manager at that Buffalo cluster (classic rock “97 Rock” WGRQ, modern rock “103.3 the Edge” WEDG, CBS Sports WHLD 1270 and leased Spanish WBBF 1120) before making the move to Erie; Cumulus is now looking for a replacement down there.
*Here in Rochester, we remember Mike Hedeen, who moved from sports reporting at WOKR (Channel 13, now WHAM-TV) to become one of the first staffers when then-Greater Rochester Cablevision started local news in 1990. Hedeen – “Mo” to friends and colleagues – eventually moved from sports to news at the cable news channel, known over the years as “WGRC,” “GRC9,” RNews, YNN, Time Warner Cable News and Spectrum News. (It was RNews when your editor worked there alongside Hedeen from 1997-2001; in all, Hedeen spent almost 28 years there before taking retirement last year.)
Hedeen was a Minnesota native (and fierce Vikings fan) who started his career in his native Duluth at KBJR and WDIO, then worked in Green Bay and Waterloo, Iowa before coming to Rochester. His friends, colleagues and even competitors loved him for his sense of humor and his professionalism, and we pulled for him during his lengthy fight with cancer, which ended Wednesday. Mo was 64, survived by his wife Trish, two children and a granddaughter, and we miss him dearly.
*And while it’s rather belated, we also remember “Janet from Another Planet,” who found success in the 1980s on the air at New York’s WNBC (660), where she was perhaps most famous for taking over Howard Stern’s afternoon shift after his 1985 exit.
Janet Bates was a native of New Jersey, but later ended up in Vermont, where she went to high school in Montpelier before attending Boston University. That’s where she took on her extraterrestrial nickname, which she used on the air in Boston at WVBF and WXKS and in Philadelphia at WIOQ and WMMR. After her radio fame in New York, Bates ended up back in Vermont and largely out of the business, studying and working as a counselor.
Bates died in Brattleboro on Feb. 12, though her death notice didn’t appear until later in March and didn’t come to our attention until just this past week. She was 58.
*It’s licensed in Port Henry, New York, but WVTK (92.1) primarily serves Middlebury, VERMONT, across Lake Champlain – and now it’s rejoining its former sister stations up in Burlington as owner WVTK Radio, LLC sells the station to cluster owner Vox AM/FM.
“WVTK Radio, LLC” is veteran broadcaster Ken Barlow and his wife Lori, who paid $550,000 back in 2009 when they bought WVTK from Vox, which had picked it up a year earlier as part of its purchase of what had been Clear Channel’s Burlington-market holdings.
Barlow is, of course, is a partner in Vox – he owns 35% of the company – which may explain why no broker was involved in this $660,000 deal. Vox put down $100,000 in cash and will pay the rest in a note; it already took over operation of WVTK from the Barlows under an LMA that started January 1.
*Too much of the story of AM radio this decade is one of facility downgrades (including last week’s final signoff of Washington’s WMAL 630 from the site it’s called home for eight decades; it’s now diplexed with another AM at a lesser facility, but its legacy lives on at this archived Site of the Week installment.)
So it goes, too, in NEW HAMPSHIRE, where Absolute Broadcasting applied last week to take WGAM (1250 Manchester) from five towers down to one. By day, the former WKBR was running 5000 watts from three towers, with one of them in common with the 5000-watt, four-tower night array. Dropping four of those five towers will take WGAM down to 670 watts by day, 100 watts by night, relying on its translator CP at 103.5 to carry most of the load of reaching listeners in Manchester and vicinity.
(Historical irony: in order to be able to claim the same “5000 watts” as competitors WGIR and WFEA, WKBR moved from non-directional operation on 1240 to that DA on 1250 in 1960; had it stayed put on 1240, it would still be running 1000 watts day and night right in the core of the city.)
*In northern RHODE ISLAND, Epic Light Network finally put WSJQ (91.5 Pascoag) on the air April 25 after several months of delays. “Q-91.5,” which serves Woonsocket and vicinity, is a sister to Epic Light’s “Q-90.1,” WYQQ in Charlton/Worcester.
*It’s a big anniversary year for a lot of early TV stations that are hitting the 70-year mark, but few are doing it up as big as CONNECTICUT‘s pioneer video outlet. ABC affiliate WTNH (Channel 8) in New Haven was NBC/CBS/ABC/DuMont outlet WNHC-TV (Channel 6) when it hit the airwaves on June 15, 1948. Now owned by Nexstar, WTNH has produced a series of anniversary segments that started running last week and will continue through June; they’re all collected on the station’s 70th anniversary page. (Other members of the Class of ’48? Buffalo’s WIVB, originally WBEN-TV, has started running some of its own anniversary segments. Boston’s WBZ-TV and WHDH-TV both have their anniversaries in June, while New York’s WABC-TV and WPIX, Syracuse’s WTVH and Philadelphia’s WCAU-TV also started up in 1948.)
*In eastern MASSACHUSETTS, iHeart has brought a veteran Boston-market country talent over to its “Bull” (WBWL 101.7 Lynn). Until last May, Ginny Rogers Brophey was part of a husband-and-wife programming team over at the Bull’s big rival, WKLB (102.5 Waltham), serving as APD/MD alongside her husband, PD Mike Brophey. Their exit came amidst WKLB’s move from Greater Media to Beasley – but now Ginny’s back as PD at WBWL, filling the gap left by Lance Houston’s departure for Chicago and iHeart’s WEBG a few weeks ago.
Out on Martha’s Vineyard, Louisa Gould is retiring after four years as executive director of Friends of MVYRadio, parent of WMVY (88.7 Edgartown). Saying her goal of turning around the station “is now complete” after shepherding WMVY’s return to the FM airwaves, Gould is handing off her duties to PD PJ Finn on an interim basis; a search for a permanent replacement is now underway.
*In western PENNSYLVANIA, David Reynolds was known as “Digby” at iHeart’s Pittsburgh cluster, where he was a fixture for 24 years, most prominently as executive producer for the Penguins Radio Network and as APD and fill-in air talent on Pens flagship WXDX (105.9 the X). Reynolds died Tuesday at just 49; details of his death weren’t immediately made public.
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