In this week’s issue… WICU/WSEE gets Happi – Carlin out at WFAN – Christian finds new radio home – Maine broadcasters honored – WBZ’s Stevens steps back – PA station owner faces charges

By SCOTT FYBUSH

Jump to: MENHVTMARICTNYNJ PACanada

*It’s been a busy year for radio stations in downtown Erie, PENNSYLVANIA. Back in the spring, iHeart acquired Connoisseur’s seven stations in the windows of the old Boston Store as part of a swap for two trust-bound stations in Frederick, Maryland. And now, just five blocks down State Street, another Erie station is changing hands with the sale of WEHP (92.7 Lawrence Park) from The ERIE Radio Company to SJL Broadcasting, LLC.

Front studio at WEHP

The ERIE Radio Company, of course, is Rick Rambaldo’s second go-round as an Erie radio owner after many years at the helm of WRKT and WRTS, which he continued to manage after selling to NextMedia. Once Rambaldo left those stations, he and local car dealer Dave Hallman created ERIE, outbidding Connoisseur’s Jeff Warshaw for the 92.7 frequency in 2011 and coming close to adding a second signal on 100.9 at another FCC auction a few years later. (A glitch with a bank’s missed payment in that auction cost Rambaldo that second signal, which would have done oldies alongside WEHP’s “Happi” top-40 format.)

SJL’s $1.33 million purchase of Happi will bring that FM signal into the same Kevin and Brian Lilly-controlled ownership group that also includes NBC affiliate WICU (Channel 12) under the SJL banner and CBS affiliate WSEE (Channel 35) under the Lilly Broadcasting banner. It’s Lilly’s second venture into radio in the region, following on the $900,000 deal back in the spring that added WRRN, WKNB and WNAE in Warren, an hour away, to the Lilly family.

In an environment where most broadcasters are rushing to split radio ownership away from TV (CBS and Entercom, for instance), Lilly’s move is a curious one: what does the company see in Erie that makes it think there’s a business advantage to running a top-40 FM station alongside two TV stations? It has, after all, been many years now since WJET-TV (then locally owned) spun off its last radio sisters to what are now the iHeart and Cumulus clusters, and even longer since WICU’s 1970s-era divestiture of what was once WICU(AM). We’ll be watching to see if Lilly has more radio moves in its future. (And, of course, to see whether WEHP stays in its downtown storefront home (seen on Site of the Week back in 2016) or moves south to the Lilly TV studios 22 blocks down State Street.)

We are officially into the new year and out of the holiday season. If you didn’t get a calendar as a gift, now is the time to buy one for yourself.

You can also purchase a bag to keep it after the year is over, since the pictures are so pretty. You can even purchase a pen to put notes on your calendar.

Visit our store to buy the calendars and check out our other products.

The Radio Historian’s 2020 Calendar is SOLD OUT. If you didn’t order but wanted or meant to, please contact Lisa immediately. No guarantee we can get more, but we’ll at least ask.

Click Here To Register And Purchase This Column!!

You don't have to stop reading here! Each week's NorthEast Radio Watch is packed full of exclusive, in-depth reporting and analysis from across the nine states and five provinces we've been serving since 1994. You won't find anything like it on any free site - and you can read the rest of this week's column for just $2.99 by clicking on the "Purchase Only" link below. 

Or click here to subscribe and enjoy full access to current NERW and Tower Site of the Week columns and two decades of searchable archives -- for as little as 25 cents per day.

If you are already a member, please login to view the rest of this column. (If the site does not recognize your username, don't panic! Either your subscription has expired and we need to reactivate your account, or your username and email do not match our payment records and we need to link them. Please email Lisa,  or call her at 585-442-5411, for instructions.)

Why are we now subscriber-based? Click here to read more about the reasons behind our decision.


Click Here To Register And Purchase This Column!!

You don't have to stop reading here! Each week's NorthEast Radio Watch is packed full of exclusive, in-depth reporting and analysis from across the nine states and five provinces we've been serving since 1994. You won't find anything like it on any free site - and you can read the rest of this week's column for just $2.99 by clicking on the "Purchase Only" link below. 

Or click here to subscribe and enjoy full access to current NERW and Tower Site of the Week columns and two decades of searchable archives -- for as little as 25 cents per day.

If you are already a member, please login to view the rest of this column. (If the site does not recognize your username, don't panic! Either your subscription has expired and we need to reactivate your account, or your username and email do not match our payment records and we need to link them. Please email Lisa,  or call her at 585-442-5411, for instructions.)

Why are we now subscriber-based? Click here to read more about the reasons behind our decision.