In this week’s issue… K-Love grows in Buffalo, Hudson Valley – Less local in Erie mornings – Syracuse veteran retiring – Remembering Jerry Fiore
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*If you’re a broadcasting junkie of a certain age, you no doubt share with us the sweet memory of that moment every year around this time when the mail carrier or supermarket rack would yield up the fat Fall Preview TV Guide, complete with listings of all the exciting new shows heading to your 25″ Zenith from all three TV networks.
As we move past Labor Day, consider this (slightly delayed) issue of NERW to be our “Fall Preview” – there’s news from this past week, yes, but before we get there, a few notes about what’s coming from Fybush Media and our partners in the exciting new fall season.
There’s NERW every Monday, of course, with big thanks to all of you who’ve renewed your subscriptions and even bigger thanks to those of you who’ve taken the time to tell friends and colleagues why you depend on this weekly summary of everything happening on our region’s broadcast scene.
There’s the Tower Site Calendar, about to hit the presses for its 19th (!) year, and newly available for pre-order at the Fybush.com Store. What will be on the actual cover this year? Stay tuned – we’ll make that reveal in a few weeks.
Tower Site of the Week has been taking a slightly longer than expected summer hiatus, due to some extenuating circumstances – but it will be back at last this Friday with lots of good stuff to show you every week for the rest of the year.
The Top of the Tower Podcast made some summer appearances featuring interesting interviews with some great broadcasters we visited out West, and it will return in a few weeks for regular autumn appearances on Wednesdays, too.
The fall convention season gets under way in just a few weeks, too. We’ll be in Dallas later this month for the Radio Show, followed by the NAB New York/AES shows in October. We hope to see many of you there, and we’ll be bringing you the voices and stories from those shows here and on the podcast.
And over at the Fybush Media arm of the operation, watch our StationSale.com site in the next few weeks – the sale season is heating up, too, and we’ll be presenting some new listings from around the region. (We’re always available, too, for consulting on signal expansion, translator interference, and much more!)
Oh, and don’t miss “Battle of the Network Stars,” coming to ABC… (What? It’s not 1981 anymore? Fine – on with this week’s 2019 news…)
NOT TOO LATE TO BUY THE CALENDAR!
We have shipped piles of our 2021 Tower Site Calendar, and we’ll keep on shipping until it’s gone.
This is the 20th year we have been publishing our calendar. In addition to the beautiful cover shot of WEJL, we have photos from New Jersey, Nebraska, Texas, and much more!
You can get the regular calendar, or you can order a storage bag for it if you keep them, or you can get it signed by Scott (and get a complimentary bag).
And when you’re purchasing your calendar, don’t forget to take a look at the other great products in our store.
*EMF Broadcasting dropped a surprise at two ends of NEW YORK State last week, filing a $1.4 million deal to acquire four full-power stations and a translator from Family Stations, Inc.
Family has sold signals to EMF before, of course, including what’s now WKEL (88.1 Webster) east of Rochester; this time, Family exits the remainder of upstate New York with the sales of WFBF (89.9 Buffalo) and WFRH (91.7 Kingston), along with WFRH’s translator on 104.3 in Catskill.
(The deal also includes two Georgia signals, WFRP 88.7 Americus and WFRC 90.5 Columbus.)
For K-Love, the addition of Buffalo almost completes a full sweep of the Thruway corridor from Albany through Utica, Syracuse and Rochester. WFBF’s south-of-Buffalo signal won’t completely fill the Buffalo market, especially up toward Niagara Falls and northern Erie County, but it’s still filling a significant hole in a market where the network had no presence.
WFRH in Kingston fills a smaller hole between WYKV (94.5 Ravena), just south of Albany, and K-Love’s recent addition of New York’s WPLJ (95.5). Will EMF be on the hunt for additional signals to further blanket the Hudson Valley? We’d bet heavily on it.
*Meanwhile in Schenectady, the former Empire Broadcasting has unloaded another of its silent AM signals: WPTR (1240) goes to Area Independent Broadcasting for $75,000, including the unbuilt construction permit for a new translator on 97.1. Randall Hogue and Roger Hull are the main partners in AIB, which began an LMA of the signals on Sunday.
*TV People on the Move in New York: when we stopped by the “CNY Central” booth at the State Fair in Syracuse last week, WSTM (Channel 3) was handing out hand fans that proclaimed “I’m a Laura Hand Fan.” This will be the last fair where they can make that particular bit of wordplay: after 47 years with Channel 3, Hand announced last week she’s retiring in October. The Syracuse University graduate was the first woman to serve as station manager at SU’s WAER (88.3), then worked at WFBL (1390) before joining what was then WSYR-TV as a political reporter in the fall of 1972.
In the years since, Hand has served as community affairs director, morning and noon anchor and most recently as weekend morning anchor on channel 3; there’s no word yet on who will replace her.
Down the road at Sinclair sister station WHAM-TV (Channel 13) here in Rochester, Jennifer Johnson became the second morning news co-anchor in two weeks to depart; she’s headed to a new role as director of family and community outreach at Golisano Children’s Hospital, which played an important role in her life a few years ago when her infant daughter was being treated for a congenital illness. The community rallied around Johnson and her family after baby Grace’s death, and in the years since she’s devoted an increasing amount of her time to supporting children’s health causes, which makes her new role a perfect fit.
*On radio, it wasn’t just veteran morning man Steve Hausmann leaving Entercom’s WBEE (92.5 Rochester) at the end of last week (though he did, of course, in a tearful farewell show Friday.) In what appear to be part of a series of incremental staffing cuts in various Entercom markets, WBEE night jock Justine Paige was out after her Friday night “Justine After Dark” show, and we hear several office staffers also exited.
*Where are they now? “Jack Da Wack” was a night-shift fixture in the early years of WHTZ (Z100), but Jack Talley went country in 1992 when he moved to Houston’s KKBQ (92.9) as “Cactus Jack.” After 27 years at the station, Jack did his final afternoon shift last week, retiring from the Cox station on Friday.
*Jerry Fiore was an institution on TV in two upstate markets, first in his native Utica as an announcer and anchor at WKTV (Channel 2) from 1957 until 1977, then here in Rochester as one of the main anchors on WROC-TV (Channel 8) from 1990 until 2003. (In between, he spent more than a decade at another channel 8, WXFL/WFLA-TV in Tampa.)
Fiore remained in the Rochester area in his retirement years; he was living in suburban Fairport when he died August 25 at 88.
*In northwest PENNSYLVANIA, the end of the summer also meant the end (at least for now) of a very long Erie radio career. Craig Warvel’s Erie radio resume included the “Martin and Warvel” morning show on WJET, more than a decade as the morning host on WRTS (Star 104), and since 2015, mornings on WXBB (Bob 94.7).
After WXBB and its Connoisseur sister stations were swapped to iHeart, little changed at first – at least until last week, when Erie listeners noticed Warvel had quietly disappeared from Bob, replaced by the “Glenn and Amy” show from distant iHeart sister station WRVV (97.3 Harrisburg).
*At the other end of the state, Bob Lowe’s Twilight Broadcasting is growing again. While nothing’s been filed yet with the FCC, Lowe announced late last week that he’s buying WBYN (1160 Lehighton) from Connoisseur, which hadn’t included that AM station in the swap of ESPN Radio sisters WTKN (1320 Allentown)/WEEX (1230 Easton) to Cumulus.
Lowe says WBYN will mostly simulcast the local talk format of his other recent area acquisition, WEEU (830 Reading), with some local content as well.
*In Pittsburgh, KDKA (1020) rearranges its schedule Tuesday, starting Larry Richert and John Shumway at 5 AM instead of 6, ending their show at 9 instead of 10, and moving Marty Griffin from afternoons to a new 9 AM to noon shift. Lynne Hayes-Freeland, who’d been doing 10-2, will now be heard from noon until 3, while Griffin’s former co-host Wendy Bell takes afternoons by herself from 3-6 PM, followed at night by Rob Pratte on Mondays and Tuesdays and Robert Mangino the rest of the week.
And over at WDVE (102.5), they’re remembering longtime overnight jock Jack Maloy, who rocked the Steel City all night long for 36 years until his retirement in 2013. Maloy died in North Carolina on Wednesday; he’d moved there to be closer to his daughter and granddaughter, the station says. WD
*One quick NEW JERSEY note: iHeart’s Trenton translator at 104.1, which lost its previous “Breakthrough Radio” format when its Philadelphia simulcast sister WDAS (1480, plus a 102.5 translator) flipped to Fox Sports, has now switched back to smooth jazz. The “JJZ” format, long ago heard in Philly on 106.1, is now on the HD2 of 106.1 (now WISX), and it’s in analog on 104.1 in Trenton as of last week.
*A year ago this week, we were in MASSACHUSETTS watching WBZ move out of its longtime radio studios in Allston. And after wiping that landmark from your editor’s personal radio career map, this week in 2019 found another venerable studio being emptied. The studios at 243 Central Street in Lowell were home to WCAP (980) when it signed on in 1951, and they’d changed very little when your editor held down his very first paying radio job there 40 years later. Nor had they changed much at all another 28 years later, when WCAP finally changed addresses, completing its move to 61 Market Street in downtown Lowell after a remarkable 68-year run up there on the second floor.
Before that, Nassau had operated WHXR (and, at times, several simulcast signals) as “The Bone,” and Binnie apparently thought that branding was strong enough to merit a revival. So far, there’s no sign of any other format or staffing changes at the reborn “Bone.”
Over at Saga, WGAN (560) will stay on its 105.5 translator a little while longer; a problem with the combiner for WGAN’s new 98.5 translator signal took that frequency silent after just a few days, and Saga says the translator will be silent for “more than ten days” while it works out the technical issues, puts 98.5 back on the air – and then launches a new format on 105.5.
Former Portland morning host Mike Violette is now doing 6-9 AM on WSKW, followed by Jon James from 9-11, with music the rest of the day.
*Radio People on the Move in CANADA: South of Hamilton, CHTG (92.9 the Grand) gets a new morning show tomorrow, as Ben McVie takes over from Peter Jaycock. McVie had been doing mornings at CJXY (Y108) in Hamilton, while Jaycock had previously been heard in Hamilton at CHAM, CKOC and CKLH.