In this week’s issue… PA AM faces darkness – Remembering Bill Evanov – Antenna woes threaten college station’s FM future – New format in Danbury – Byrnes, Shula’s cross-border hookup
By SCOTT FYBUSH
(Our apologies for last week’s absence – we were attending to some personal matters and getting over a cold! We have a double issue this week as we try to catch up, and we’ll be back on schedule as usual with Site of the Week on Friday and a fresh NERW on Monday, March 16.)
*Local radio in 2020 is a tough business. Even the longest-running broadcasters with the most loyal audiences and the most unique niches are finding it hard to compete in today’s fragmented media world – and so it goes in the PENNSYLVANIA suburbs north of Philadelphia, where WNPV (1440 Lansdale) has been a fixture in the North Penn Valley for almost 60 years.
On Wednesday, general manager Phil Hunt announced that WNPV will sign off April 30.
“It’s gotten to the point where it’s not sustainable for us to continue to do that,” Hunt told the Lansdale Reporter, saying the cost of maintaining a full staff (eight full-timers and several part-timers) had become unsustainable. While the addition of an FM translator helped stem some of the revenue decline, it wasn’t enough.
Hunt says the WNPV staff will stay in place conducting business as usual until the end of April, when there may be a brief on-air celebration of the station’s history. After that, it’s not clear what will become of the station’s license and its sizable property, where five towers and a Colonial-style studio building sit in a burgeoning residential area.
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*There’s a station threatened in MASSACHUSETTS, too, but for somewhat different reasons. On Cape Cod, WKKL (90.7 Barnstable) has been off the air since December, when its transmission system on the Cape Cod Community College campus failed.
The student-run station continues to stream, but the Cape Cod Times reports that the station’s leaders can’t yet determine where in the system the failure occurred or what it might cost to fix it, in part because the station’s tower is also damaged. For the moment, the college says it’s not considering selling the WKKL license – but also won’t commit to spending what it might cost to repair the damage and get the FM signal back on the air.
*In Boston, today’s planned relaunch of WMEX (1510) has been postponed for two weeks. Ed Perry’s oldies format is now slated for a March 23 debut, to provide a little more time for equipment to be installed at DJ Larry Justice’s Florida home. In the meantime, WMEX continues to simulcast Perry’s flagship station, WATD (95.9 Marshfield).
John Paul, the “Car Doctor” who’s been on the New England radio dial for decades, has a new home: after many years on Salem’s WROL (950 Boston), he’s moved his show to WBOQ (104.9 Gloucester), where he debuted Saturday morning.
EMF has completed its call shuffle for its new Boston-market K-Love signal: the former WAAF (107.3 Westborough) was briefly WBZU after swapping calls with Entercom’s AM 910 in Scranton; now it’s done another call swap with the Keystone state, bringing the WKVB calls to 107.3 in greater Boston. (WKVB had been the K-Love callsign on 107.9 in Port Matilda/State College, which becomes WKPA now.)
*More call changes on the way in Pennsylvania: in Lebanon, Forever has applied to change WQIC (100.1) to WFVY, the first sign of any changes as the longtime locally-owned station changes hands. At the opposite end of the state, Lilly has applied to change calls in Warren, flipping WNAE (1310) to WICU to match its WICU-FM (92.7) and WICU-TV (Channel 12) up the road in Erie.
In Easton, Cumulus wants to get rid of one of the two towers at WEEX (Fox Sports 1230), one of the rare directional Class C (former Class IV) signals out there. WEEX would use only its nighttime tower for daytime use as well, still with 1000 watts albeit into a less efficient antenna system.
*Ed Ingles was a NEW YORK sports radio legend, not just for his 24 years as sports director at WCBS (880) but also for the mentorship he provided to students at Hofstra University, where he was the professional in residence until just last year.
Ingles was a University of Georgia graduate and Navy veteran who worked at several Georgia stations before coming to New York to work at WMCA and WPIX-FM. He joined WCBS in 1973, anchoring sports updates and calling games for the Jets and St. John’s University.
Ingles was 87 when he died last week.
*Mike Kaplan is adding some big duties to his programming work at Entercom’s WNYL (Alt 92.3) in New York: as senior VP of programming, Kaplan is now also serving as brand manager for Entercom’s KROQ (106.7) after the surprise exit of veteran PD Kevin Weatherly, who departed the LA station for a new job with Spotify.
*To the north, Townsquare launched a new format on WKXP (94.3 Kingston) last week after moving its “Wolf” country down the river to WCZX (97.7 Hyde Park). On Feb. 26, the 94.3 signal flipped to soft AC as “94.3 Lite FM,” running jockless for now.
In Buffalo, Entercom has named Tim Holly as general manager for its seven-station cluster, removing the “interim” part of his title acquired after the ouster of Greg Ried a few months back. Holly has a 34-year history in Buffalo radio, and had been with what’s now the Entercom cluster since 2001 as general sales manager, director of sales and VP of sales.
Across town, former Entercom sales guru Buddy Shula is taking two more stations into his orbit. The owner of WECK (1230, plus soon-to-be three translators) has signed a deal to represent Byrnes Communications’ stations in nearby Fort Erie/Niagara Falls, Ontario for US sales and promotions. Adding Byrnes’ adult hits CFLZ (101.1 More FM) and hot AC CJED (105.1 the River) will give Shula more inventory to sell in Buffalo, as well as a younger audience to cross-promote with WECK. (And unlike an earlier incarnation of 101.1, CKEY, which got into trouble a while back for a cross-border deal with what was then the Citadel cluster in Buffalo, this deal doesn’t appear to involve any programming originating on the U.S. side for the Canadian stations, a big no-no for Canadian regulators.)
The “Hawk” signal, translator W233CF and daytimer WAXB (850 Ridgefield), doesn’t come close to covering the huge swath of western Connecticut served by WRKI, but within the core of the Danbury market it’s potent enough to compete.
“Hawk” joins hot AC WDAQ (98Q), news-talk WLAD (800/94.1), alternative “1037rock” (WDAQ-HD2) and country “Bull” (WDAQ-HD3, plus two translators) in Berkshire’s cluster, a big change from the pre-HD/translator days when it was just 98Q and WLAD.
*One of CANADA‘s most prominent independent broadcasters has died. Bill Evanov’s 43-year career in radio began in sales at CHIN (1540 Toronto), when he was hired to do sales in 1967. By 1969, Evanov was VP of sales for the CHIN stations, jumping to Burlington’s CING (107.9) in 1980 as station manager and part-owner.
Evanov parlayed his CING success into a new ownership venture in ethnic radio, buying what was then CKMW (790 Brampton), which became the cornerstone of a much larger broadcast empire. CKMW became CIAO, moved to 530, and is today’s CHLO, still with ethnic programming; it was joined by CIDC (103.5 Orangeville), which Evanov edged ever closer into the Toronto market as top-40 “Z103.5.” Another Toronto rimshot, CKDX (88.5 Newmarket), was the birthplace of the soft AC “Jewel” format, later expanded to signals in Brantford, Ottawa and the outskirts of Montreal. Evanov also owned in Winnipeg and Halifax.
Evanov was 77 when he died Feb. 28; his family continues to run the company, which now owns stations in Toronto, Brantford, Ottawa and Halifax.
*Corus has shuffled morning shows around the Golden Horseshoe: the “Morning Grind” show that had been on Hamilton’s CJXY (Y108) has moved to Toronto’s “Edge” (CFNY 102.1), and Y108 listeners now get a simulcast of the “Taz Show” from London sister station CFPL-FM (FM96).