In this week’s issue… PD shuffle at Cumulus NY – WFAN’s Paige retires – Vermont programmers shift – New FM in northern Ontario?
By SCOTT FYBUSH
(This week’s NERW is a little off-schedule and briefer than usual as we deal with some issues outside radio-land. We hope to be back on schedule with a regular full issue next Monday. Thanks for your patience.)
*A week after Cumulus handed off WPLJ (95.5 New York) to EMF, we’re starting to see some of the fallout: the company is keeping WPLJ PD Dave LaBrozzi in house, using him to replace two other programmers who will be leaving 2 Penn Plaza. Down the hall at WABC (770), Craig Schwalb is out – and if you still remembered that Cumulus has one FM left in its New York cluster, WNBM (103.9 Bronxville), that PD, Ken Johnson, is also out.
LaBrozzi will pull double duty programming both stations as we wait to see what happens longer-term with Cumulus in New York – will it stay in place with just fading talker WABC and urban AC “Radio 103.9,” which exists mainly to provide a New York clearance for several of Westwood One’s syndicated shows?
Meanwhile, EMF has confirmed what we’d already suspected – as it settles in with WPLJ, it will move its HD subchannels (Air 1 on HD2 and K-Love Classics on HD3) over to 95.5 soon from their current home on suburban rimshot WKLV (96.7 Port Chester). And once listeners have had a chance to make the transition, WKLV itself will flip its main channel from K-Love to Air 1.
*The fraternity of overnight live radio hosts is a vanishingly small one these days, and it’s about to get smaller by one, as Tony Paige prepares to retire from WFAN (660/101.9). Paige started at WFAN in 1996, left for three years in 2000, and took over the overnight weeknight shift in 2006. A passionate fan of boxing and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Paige says he’s planning to do more boxing coverage once he wraps up his overnight run after his Sept. 14 show, a few days after he turns 66. No replacement has been named yet.
Over at iHeart, Lis Wiehl has departed WOR (710), where she’d spent the first half of 2019 as co-host of “WOR Tonight,” providing the liberal counterpoint to co-host Joe Concha. Concha will now handle the 6-9 PM slot solo at WOR.
On Long Island, translator W231CX (94.1 Shirley) is changing hands as part of a three-station swap. Elohim Group Corporation is trading that translator and another in northern Indiana (W232CK Gary) to Centro Cristiano de Vida Eterna in exchange for a CP for a new signal at 106.1 in Matagorda, Texas. The Shirley translator is listed as relaying WBLI (106.1), with a CP to go to 94.5, and we’re not even certain it’s actually on the air, nor what the Centro Cristiana group plans to do with it.
*Bob Earle was a Long Island native and a Navy radioman during World War II, and he stayed in radio after the war, graduating from Utica College and finding work at WIBX radio. After graduating in 1951, Earle became general manager of WLFH (1230), the new station down the road in Little Falls, then returned to Utica to do news at its fledgling TV station, WKTV (then on Channel 13).
At WKTV, Earle mentored a young announcer named Dick Clark; he then went off to teach at Ithaca College, where he started a closed-circuit TV station, and by 1959 he was working for General Electric. It was there he found his greatest fame – in 1962, he submitted an audition tape that landed him the role of host of the G.E.-sponsored “College Bowl” quiz show, where he replaced Alan Ludden through the end of the show’s run in 1970.
Earle stayed in Ithaca, doing community relations for a local bank and lots of local and national voiceover work. He died in Ithaca on Wednesday, at 93.
*While he achieved his greatest fame (and a few unfortunate years of infamy) in Los Angeles, “Humble Harv” Miller started his radio career in NEW JERSEY and PENNSYLVANIA. From, yes, humble beginnings at WAAT (1300) in Trenton in 1958, Miller soon crossed the Delaware for a gig at bigger top-40 WIBG (990) in Philadelphia, where he spent four years before heading west to become a major player on the southern California top-40 scene at KHJ.
In 1971, Miller shot his wife during an argument at their home; after fleeing to Mexico, he surrendered after a few weeks and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, expressing deep remorse for the killing. By 1974, he was out of prison and back to a radio career that continued for three more decades, including syndication work.
Miller died Tuesday in Camarillo, California; he was 85.
*Radio People on the Move in VERMONT: John Mullett is changing clusters, leaving the PD role at Northeast’s WNCS (104.7 Montpelier) and its “Point” AAA network to become OM at Vox’s Burlington-Plattsburgh cluster, where he’ll also program top-40 WXXX (95.5). Mullett, who was also overseeing programming at sister stations WIXM and WWMP for Steven Silberberg, is the replacement at Vox for Ben Hamilton.
Meanwhile at the Point, Zeb Norris is departing the morning drive slot, ending a 13-year run with the station. He’d been PD as well until handing those reins off to Mullett last year.
*In CANADA, there may soon be a new FM station coming to North Bay, Ontario. Last year, Vista Radio asked the CRTC for a second FM signal in North Bay to accompany its CFXN (106.3 Moose FM). Rogers, which owns two FMs (hot AC CHUR, “Kiss 100.5,” and CKFX, “101.9 Rock”) and an AM (country CKAT 600) in North Bay, objected, saying the local market is “stagnant and has limited potential for future growth.”
The CRTC disagreed, siding with Vista’s claim that the North Bay market was growing, with room for a fifth commercial station to better compete against Rogers. Because only Vista had expressed any interest in a new station during the proceeding, the CRTC won’t open up a call for applications, but will rather address Vista’s application (apparently for 90.5 MHz) in a future hearing.
North Bay would be only the second market in Ontario (after Stratford) where Vista owns more than one station; given Vista’s propensity to national and regional brands, it seems likely its second North Bay outlet will be either classic hits “Juice” or top-40 “2Day.”