In this week’s issue… What we learned at the Radio Show – Halls of Fame induct new members – Saga adds an AM – More HD in Canada
By SCOTT FYBUSH
If you weren’t among the many radio folks on the floor at the Hilton last week, here’s a quick taste of what you missed (with more coming in the next few weeks on our Top of the Tower podcast and elsewhere…)
Regulatory – At least a few of our DC lawyer friends expected that the Radio Show might bring news of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on some of the actual AM aspects of “AM revitalization,” in particular some proposals on breaking down what’s left of Class A “clear channel” skywave protection. Commissioner Michael O’Rielly didn’t have anything official to announce at his panel Thursday afternoon, as it turned out, so we keep waiting.
Nor was there any official movement on one of the big discussion topics among owners and brokers in the hallways – the proposal to modify ownership caps to allow an owner to own more than five FM (or AM) stations in a market. O’Rielly told broadcasters he supports the NAB’s proposal to eliminate the AM/FM subcaps and spoke favorably of a proposal to allow broadcast owners to expand their market cap by using “incubator” stations, adding an extra two stations to the current 8-station cap for owners who provide assistance to minority broadcasters.
When and if the cap is lifted or altered, there’s pent-up demand from owners to buy. We heard plenty of talk about deals that could happen…if things change. (And of course our Fybush Media brokerage is ready to help, if and when.)
Technology – The show floor at the Radio Show isn’t huge, but this year’s version included a robust presence from most of the big names in the business and some smaller players, too. Xperi, the parent company of HD Radio, was notably active in one corner this year. There were some new entries in broadcast consoles (Calrec, the English manufacturer of high-end TV audio production boards, had a new radio line, for instance), and some interesting smaller products that might have gotten lost on the larger spring NAB floor. We’ll be featuring some of those here and in the new RadioInsight tech section in the weeks to come….stay tuned!
Programming – There’s a tremendous amount of energy focused on podcast production lately, and that was a running theme of the show, even if nobody could quite figure out why the singer/songwriter Jewel was the star of the big podcasting panel on Wednesday. Can the radio industry adapt its mass-market habits to the much more individualized world of podcast listening?
And it was nice to see an actual radio show emanating from the floor as the syndicated “Bob and Tom Show” (minus the retired Bob) did their thing Wednesday and Thursday morning in the hallway leading in to the show floor. It was nice, too, to see plenty of students in sessions and on the floor learning about radio, including a contingent from our hometown SUNY Brockport, led by longtime educator Warren Kozireski.
The Marconis – Beasley’s WMMR (93.3 Philadelphia) capped its 50th anniversary celebration with a win as “rock station of the year.” Other format honors for NERW-land went to WEEI (93.7 Boston) for sports station and WWPR (105.1 New York) for urban station of the year. Power 105’s Angie Martinez won “major market personality of the year.” William Paterson’s WPSC (88.7 Wayne NJ) took home non-commercial station of the year.
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*So what was happening while we were away on the road?
In upstate NEW YORK, the Buffalo Broadcasters Association always puts on a top-notch show at its annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and we hear this year’s event, held on Thursday night at the WNED-TV studios, was no exception.
This year’s class also included 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; and 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 went to the late Mary Lounsbury, who managed WNIA (now WECK) in Cheektowaga for Gordon P. Brown for decades.
And we’ve been remiss in not reporting on the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame induction Sept. 20, which included a posthumous honor for Lana Jones, the WBZ (1030) reporter who died so suddenly in April. Her husband, Steve Jones D’Agostino, was on hand to accept her award. Other members of the Class of 2018 included auto dealer (and radio owner) Ernie Boch, WHDH-TV reporter Victoria Block, veteran newsman Listo Fisher, “Evening Magazine” host Sara Edwards, WBCN jock Maxanne Sartori, WCVB meteorologist Harvey Leonard, Ray Hershel, who recently retired after half a century with Springfield’s WGGB, and WCVB public affairs director Karen Holmes Ward.
*We were also remiss last week (or at least rushing to get a column out while traveling) in not noting the death of CBS News Radio anchor Dave Barrett. A native of Buffalo, Barrett started his broadcast career in Houston and spent much of it at the network level, working at ABC for two stints, serving as news director for Fox News Radio and then, since 2001, as a key part of the CBS radio team, where his specialties included space coverage.
“A kind soul, good hearted, smart, talented and funny. And so much fun to work with. One of my favorite people ever,” wrote CBS colleague Peter King after Barrett’s death Sept. 19.
(You can hear much more from Peter on our Top of the Tower podcast from Orlando this week!)
What does Saga want with this little daytimer up there along Route 2? It’s all about the translator, which covers a good chunk of the I-91 corridor in Franklin County – and which joins a Saga cluster that already includes WHMQ (1240, plus a 107.5 translator), WHAI-FM (98.3), WPVQ (95.3) and WRSI (93.9), as well as plenty of signals just to the south in Hampshire and Hampden counties.
For now, at least, Steve Silberberg’s Northeast keeps WFAT’s sister station, WFNX (99.9 Athol), which relays his Boston-market WXRV.
*In Boston, iHeart’s “Matty in the Morning” show at WXKS-FM (Kiss 108) has found a replacement for executive producer/co-host Medha Gandhi, who moved down to New York and the Elvis Duran show not long ago. Heading the other way up I-95 is Rebekah “Bex” Maroun, who just left Entercom’s WTDY (96.5) in Philadelphia last week.
(Want to see where she’ll be working? Check out our detailed tour of iHeart’s new Boston digs on the new RadioInsight Tech section!)
Over at Beasley, WBZ-FM (98.5 the Sports Hub) is extending its deal with the Boston Celtics for the next few seasons. Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell stay in the booth as part of the relationship the team and station have had since 2013, when the Celts moved over from WEEI.
Where are they now? Jeff Miles, who had a good run at Boston’s WKLB (102.5) as morning host, takes over mornings today at Entercom’s KLUV (98.7) in Dallas, replacing Jody Dean there.
*In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Binnie Media quietly eliminated the last dedicated news people at its NH1 News operation, which has been web-only since Binnie shut down WBIN-TV (Channel 50) last year.
NH1 launched with huge fanfare in 2014, operating from a spiffy facility in a renovated elementary school in Concord. But after Binnie sold off WBIN’s spectrum at auction, the news operation shrank – and now the Concord Monitor reports the NH1 News website is basically a redirect to Binnie’s remaining radio stations.
*In eastern PENNSYLVANIA, Entercom closed late last week on its $57.5 million purchase of WBEB (101.1 Philadelphia), where it’s brought back Blaise Howard as the station’s general sales manager.
*There are some new HD Radio signals on the air in CANADA: in Toronto, CFPT (ELMNT FM 106.5) began testing last week with both analog and digital signals. It’s part of a new aboriginal network that also includes CFPO (95.7) in Ottawa.
In Montreal, Radio Canada has lit up HD Radio on its CBF (95.1), and in addition to the ICI Première programming on HD1, it’s carrying a full-time ICI Musique Classical service on HD2, a counterpart to the regular (and very diverse) ICI Musique feed on CBFX (100.7).