In this week’s issue… Mourning a New York radio icon – Boston AM heading back to the air – Format changes in NW PA, Upper Valley – EMF’s Jersey Shore vacation – Buffalo broadcasters go national for Hall of Fame – Toronto’s new(-ish) CHUM, and newer AM

By SCOTT FYBUSH

Jump to: MENHVTMARICTNYNJ PACanada

*Another radio legend has left us.

Dan Ingram, one of the signature voices of New York’s legendary WABC (770) from 1961 until 1982 and then a vital part of WCBS-FM (101.1) in its golden years, died Sunday night at age 83 in Florida after several years of failing health.

Ingram was a native New Yorker, born in 1934 in Oceanside on Long Island. He attended Hofstra College, worked in the area at WNRC in New Rochelle (now WVOX) and at WALK in Patchogue, then spent three whirlwind years growing his career from WICC in Bridgeport to WNHC in New Haven to KBOX in Dallas to WIL in St. Louis – and then back to New York at Mars Productions, where he eventually talked his way into WABC’s afternoon job, which he started on July 3, 1961. While his shifts would change – there was a move to mornings in the late 70s and then back to afternoons – Musicradio 77 would remain his home right up until his last “Hey, Kemosabe!” on “the day the music died” in 1982.

Ingram was not only an iconic part of Musicradio 77 on AM, he was also the creator and host of “The Other Dan Ingram Show” on the backwater that was then WABC-FM (95.5) in the sixties, where he played blues and jazz starting in 1967.

Along the way, “Big Dan” was the voice on the air at WABC when the 1965 blackout hit. He was the voice of the famous 1971 boast that WABC was only 13th in the ratings… “in Pittsburgh!”, and he was the very last voice of Musicradio 77 on that day in 1982 when WABC switched to talk.

When Musicradio ended, Ingram was slated to become a key part of the “Superadio” syndication service, keeping the feel of WABC going nationwide. After that venture failed to launch, Ingram went into syndication anyway, hosting several national shows and spending a year on WKTU (92.3). And then in 1991, he joined other former WABC colleagues up the dial at WCBS-FM (101.1), working weekends for 12 years until departing on this very week 15 years ago. (It’s the final item in our “This Week in NERW” segment at the end of the column, ironically enough.)

Ingram was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007 and returned to WABC several times to appear on the Memorial Day “Rewound” segments, but he would never again hold a regular shift on New York’s airwaves after 2003.

“He was to radio what Johnny Carson was to late-night TV,” wrote his WABC colleague Howard Hoffman early this morning on Facebook. “What Willie Mays was to baseball. What Mort Drucker was to MAD Magazine. He was the gold standard. It can’t be described. It had to be heard. When you come across how many people say they got into the radio business because of listening to him growing up, you’ll know how powerful his charisma was.”

“Jeg elsker deg” was how Ingram would often sign off over his signature closing music, “Tri-Fi Drums” – a Norwegian “I love you” to his wife, Anita.

“Big Dan” was beloved by generations of New York radio listeners – and an inspiration to a generation of radio people who followed him (including his son, Chris, who’s been working in radio in the area for decades.)

Share your memories of Dan Ingram in our comments – and we’ll have more on his legacy in the next issue of NERW.

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*In MASSACHUSETTS, we now know for sure what Ed Perry has planned for WMEX (1510), and it’s pretty much what we’d suspected: he’s filed for new permanent facilities for that venerable AM signal over at the WBIX (1260) site in Quincy.

The WMKI towers
The WMKI towers

That’s where WMEX has to be back on the air by next weekend with a 1000-watt daytime signal under special temporary authority, in order to beat the one-year silent deadline since it left the airwaves from Waltham at the end of last June. And now we know it’s also where Perry plans to keep WMEX licensed. He’s applying to run the station from one tower at the WBIX site, running 10 kW daytime, 2 kW critical hours and just 100 watts at night.

Once the 10 kW signal kicks in a few hours after sunrise, it will be a pretty decent AM signal over Boston – but it still appears the latest incarnation of 1510 will be largely a placeholder, serving as the nominal “parent” signal for Perry’s new translator at 101.1 in Weymouth.

And one more thing – when WMEX gets licensed with its new facilities, it will no longer be as “WMEX Boston”; instead, it will be “WMEX Quincy,” the first time since 1934 that the license has been anywhere other than Boston.

*Down the coast, WPLM (1390 Plymouth) is off the air for now; the Campbell family tells the FCC that the four-tower directional array there has been problematic for a while and a “full review of the station’s transmission facilities” is underway to figure out what needs fixing and to avoid “unnecessary repairs and expenses.” Big sister station WPLM-FM (99.1) remains on the air, of course, with its “Easy 99.1” soft AC format.

*Radio People on the Move: After 24 years at iHeart’s WXKS-FM (Kiss 108), Joe Mazzei has departed. He started there as a Curry College intern with the “Matty in the Morning” show and rose to marketing manager – and now he’s off to a new chapter in his career as marketing director of Big Night Entertainment Group, which runs several popular nightclubs in the area.

Matt Anderson is also departing as creative services director at Kiss 108; he’s headed west to join the creative folks at Benztown’s North American headquarters as an imaging producer.

*There’s a new classic hip-hop station in NEW HAMPSHIRE‘s Upper Valley. Great Eastern’s WTSL (1400 Lebanon) had been part of an ESPN Radio simulcast with WTSV (1230 Claremont) and translators W233CC (94.5 White River Junction, VERMONT, fed from the HD3 of WHDQ 106.1 Claremont) and W232DN (94.3 Claremont).

Those translators are still carrying ESPN, but after eight days of stunting with a loop of “Rapper’s Delight,” WTSL and its new translator W248DA (97.5 Hanover) relaunched Thursday morning as “Hot 97.5.” Great Eastern VP/programming Matt Houseman is hosting “The Morning Hotness with House,” with local talent also being heard later in the day on the new “Hot,” which flanks Great Eastern’s top-40 WGXL (92.3 Hanover).

*Just down I-91, there’s a format and call change in Brattleboro, where Saga is flipping WKVT (1490) to WINQ, matching it with WINQ (98.7 Winchester NH), which legally becomes WINQ-FM. The former news-talk format on WKVT is gone, replaced with a new simulcast of “WINK 98.7” country on 1490, and – we think – its FM translator at 100.3. (The AM station also has a CP for a new translator at 106.9.)

And the WKVT calls, which have been a fixture at 1490 on the dial back to 1964, live on over on the FM dial at WKVT-FM (“92.7 Bratt-FM”)

*In NEW YORK City, Entercom’s WNYL (Alt 92.3) is staffing up after running jockless for the last few months. Starting today, Dan Stone joins the Alt staff as imaging director, inbound from Cumulus in Chicago. He’ll be joined July 2 by Bryce Segall, formerly with KNDD and Mad Zoo records in Seattle, who’ll become music director and night talent. Alt also recently named a weekend jock, Abel Sanchez, who’s heard weekdays on the streaming “Pulse 87” dance station.

*The Buffalo Broadcasters Association has a national flavor to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, just announced last week.

The Class of 2018 includes former WGRZ-TV anchor John Beard, who’s played a newsman in numerous Hollywood productions including “Arrested Development” (which only makes sense, considering the years he spent in LA and San Diego between Buffalo stints); Roger Christian, the veteran jock at WTSS (Star 102.5) and its predecessors WMJQ and WBEN-FM; Buffalo native Tom Langmyer, who now oversees news-talk for Scripps radio out of WTMJ Milwaukee after stints at the helm of WGN in Chicago and KMOX in St. Louis; Tom Atkins, longtime engineer for Backyard Broadcasting and now director of engineering for Saga Communications; and John Hager, PD at WGRF (97 Rock).

The Broadcasters Memorial Award this year goes to the late Mary Lounsbury, who managed WNIA (now WECK) in Cheektowaga for Gordon P. Brown for decades.

The ceremony will be held Sept. 27 at the WNED-TV studios, with Les Trent of “Inside Edition” and Susan Hunt of “Tiny House Hunters” as the emcees; tickets are available from the Buffalo Broadcasters here.

*In Syracuse, “Classic FM” wants to make a move. Public broadcaster WCNY moved its TV transmitter from its longtime home in Pompey westward to the WSTM-TV candelabra tower on Sentinel Heights for the digital transition in 2009, but WCNY-FM (91.3) stayed behind at the Pompey site, next door to ABC affiliate WSYR-TV (Channel 9) and just down the road from WNTQ (93.1).

Now WCNY is applying to move the FM to Sentinel as well, trading its present 18.5 kW/226m non-directional signal for 9.9 kW/334m DA. It’s not the first time WCNY has sought this move; it originally applied to go to Sentinel back in 2008, but never built out that CP before it expired in 2011.

*Up in the North Country, RadioActive’s 97.9 Au Sable/Plattsburgh is no longer the parking spot for Chicago’s WLUP callsign. The WLUP calls migrate to Plattsburgh in March to replace WZXP on “97.9 the Moose” (Chicago’s 97.9, meanwhile, went to K-Love and took the WCKL calls that long resided way down I-87 in Catskill); now Cumulus has parked WLUP on a suburban Minneapolis rimshot signal (105.3 Cambridge MN, which had been parking New York’s old WRXP calls) – and “The Moose” has new calls WXMS.

Scorecards are, as always, on sale at the concession stands…

*Just like everyone else this time of year, “K-Love” is headed for the NEW JERSEY shore. EMF Broadcasting is paying Longport Media $570,000 for WWAC (102.7 Ocean City), with a class A signal right off the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

Longport’s been doing top-40 on “AC 102.7” for the last few years, though with a heavy diet of syndicated talent and very little local presence. Once the deal closes and WWAC flips to K-Love, it will leave Longport with rocker WMGM (103.7 the Shark), classic hits WTKU (“Kool 98.3”) and its simulcast on WBSS (1490), and news-talk WOND (1400); the company says the cash infusion from the WWAC sale will help it strengthen operations at its remaining stations. (And for EMF, the move means a much stronger K-Love signal in an area that now gets only very fringe service from WKVP 106.9 in the Philadelphia market.)

*Debbie Sheehan was a longtime voice in north Jersey and New York City radio, starting at the old WWDJ (970 Hackensack), then spending the 1980s and into the 1990s as news director at WPAT (93.1/930) in Paterson. Sheehan’s voice was the last one heard in English on WPAT(AM) before it went Spanish in 1996; later on, she worked at Shadow Traffic and as a newspaper reporter in Monmouth County. Sheehan was 65 when she died June 18.

*In western PENNSYLVANIA, Forever has been shuffling formats and calls along the I-79 corridor, where it killed off the “WUZZ” classic rock format on WUZZ (94.3 Saegertown) and WUUZ (107.7 Cooperstown) earlier this month in favor of harder rock as “Rocky,” a brand the company also uses in Johnstown, Altoona and elsewhere.

Along with the new format (a new Westwood One service called “Classic Rock X” that Forever helped develop) come new calls: 94.3 in the Meadville area is now WRQI, while 107.7 over by Franklin and Oil City is now WRQW. The WUZZ calls are still in the Forever family, now parked on 1280 in New Castle, ex-WJST.

*Bell Media has been doing some rebranding in CANADA‘s biggest market, where CHUM-FM (104.5) is now simply “Chum, Make Toronto Pop,” with a new logo and an emphasis on female listeners. (There’s no change so far to the station’s personality lineup.)

Just west of Toronto, the new CKNT (960 Mississauga) finally made it to the air, almost seven years after Elliot Kerr was first granted a construction permit for the signal. Kerr tried to get the station built at several sites, winning multiple extensions from the CRTC over the years. It’s finally on the air now in testing mode, running 2000 watts by day and 280 watts at night from a Valcom whip antenna. For now, it’s carrying mostly classical music, interspersed with some streaming talk programming, but it’s promised the CRTC a news-talk format when it signs on for real.

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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: June 26, 2017

*Make your way way up I-287 toward the New York state line and you’ll hear “North Jersey 1500,” John Silliman’s WGHT in Pompton Lakes, which announced later in the week that it will be ending its commercial existence in August after 53 years on the air. The former WKER signed on in 1964 and has been in Silliman’s hands under its current calls since 1993, when he bought it from founder and namesake Robert Kerr.

The 1000-watt directional station has struggled with its daytime-only status on a frequency dominated by Washington’s powerful WTOP (now WFED), and it has a few more strikes against it: its equipment, we’re told, is in need of a near-complete overhaul and its low-lying transmitter/studio site is ever more susceptible to catastrophic flooding.

The future for WGHT is, as yet, a bit uncertain; we’re told that Silliman intends to donate the license, at least, to the local school system so it can be used as a training ground for students. Will the school have the resources needed to rebuild the AM signal, or to seek out an FM translator in the limited window that opens one month from today?

*Our NEW YORK report starts, as it must, with the death of the man who effectively created the job of “TV news reporter.”

Gabe Pressman, who died Friday at 93, had already been a newspaper reporter for a decade when he joined what was then WRCA (660) in 1956. Two years later, he began reporting for sister station WRCA-TV (Channel 4, today’s WNBC), becoming one of (and possibly the) first reporters in New York to appear regularly on camera from the field. For decades, Pressman was a fixture wherever news was happening in New York. He left WNBC in 1972 for Metromedia’s WNEW-TV (Channel 5, now WNYW) but returned in 1980, and he was still reporting for WNBC as recently as this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. (photo: WNBC)

Five Years Ago: June 24, 2013

*It was Armstrong time in Yonkers on Monday, as admirers of the FM inventor (present company included) joined city officials and historians for the dedication of a long-overdue plaque honoring the great man.

Under a blazing sun, and broadcast live from across the river on WA2XMN, the Armstrong memorial station at 42.8 megacycles on your vintage FM dial, Yonkers mayor Mike Spano joined city councilors and Armstrong relatives to tell the Major”s story. Several family members spoke of the Major”s days living just across Warburton Avenue from the site at Hudson-Fulton Park where the plaque now sits, made possible by donations of more than $4,000. The money was raised by Steve Klose, a New Jersey man who knew of Armstrong first as a fellow motorcycle enthusiast, only later learning of his important place in the radio pantheon.

Ten Years Ago: June 23, 2008

*It was a bad week for Cumulus’ WRKI (95.1 Brookfield CT), after a lightning hit on the station’s tower knocked its main signal off the air last Saturday (June 14). Photos of the fire were the talk of the engineering community early last week, as the experts pored over the shots of flames erupting from the top of the tower and speculated on what happened. The answer, as it turns out, was a melting radome on the lower bay of the station’s two-bay ERI rototiller antenna, and the result was a damaged antenna and a silent station.

WRKI was back on the air at reduced power by Saturday night, and many listeners never even noticed the outage, since classic rock “I-95″ reaches the southern half of its Fairfield County listenership by way of on-channel booster signals in Bridgeport and Norwalk. Unaffected by the lightning strike, those signals stayed on the air at full power – and we hear reception was actually a little better than usual in Stamford, where the boosters and the main signal usually interfere a bit with each other.

*Emmis has picked a PD for its New York rock outlet, WRXP (101.9). Leslie Fram comes north from Atlanta, where she’s spent the last 17 years at Cumulus’ WNNX (99.7 Atlanta), the last ten as PD before its “99X” modern rock format was moved off to an HD2 subchannel earlier this year. At WRXP, she replaces Blake Lawrence, the last remaining holdover from the station”s previous existence as smooth jazz WQCD.

Fifteen Years Ago: June 23, 2003

Nobody ever said working in radio was a stable career path – but last week was a particularly treacherous one for radio people all over NERW-land.

We’ll start in NEW YORK, where WCBS-FM (101.1) broke even more dramatically from its long run as “WABC, Continued” – by parting ways with Dan Ingram. The WABC veteran had spent the last 12 years doing weekends on WCBS-FM – but when CBS-FM PD Joe McCoy came to him and asked him to give up the Saturday half of his shift to Dan Daniel, Ingram said no, and CBS-FM said “sayonara.”

But if Ingram’s crying in his “Tri-Fi Drums,” he’ll have plenty of company this week. Out on Long Island, talker WLIE (540 Islip) had some cost-cutting to do as well, axing Lynn Samuels from its weekend schedule – and, says Samuels on her Web site – cutting morning news anchor Tracy Burgess and midday talk host John Gomez from its schedule as well.

Twenty Years Ago: June 23, 1998

[no issue – NERW was on the road to Atlantic Canada in an era before mobile hotspots and hotel Wi-Fi and such…]

3 COMMENTS

  1. ….”Elton John…someone shaved my wife tonight” I still laugh out loud to this day. Thanks for the MANY great memories Dan..the legend lives on..condolences to the Ingram family….

  2. I do news for WXMS and was kinda curious how they first ended up with the WLUP calls – thanks for solving that one for me!

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