In this week’s issue… WNYC morning host dies – FM signals poised for Northway commute – So long, Barry Burbank – CT LPFM ordered silent – Remembering Philly’s Shay, Big D’s Bishop
By SCOTT FYBUSH
Richard Hake, whose calm demeanor was familiar to WNYC audiences over a career that lasted nearly 30 years, died suddenly on Friday, of what was reported as natural causes in a statement by the station.
Hake, who was just 51, began his career at Fordham University’s WFUV (90.7) and had also worked for commercial stations, including WOR, before landing at WNYC in 1992. He worked as a reporter, producer and fill-in host over the years at WNYC, including coverage of the 9/11 attacks.
“It was the position he always wanted, and he worked very hard to get there. He loved to say he ‘woke up New York,’ and he brought the same warmth and generosity to listeners that he shared with his colleagues everyday,” said WNYC CEO Goli Sheikholeslami in a statement.
“We know this incredibly difficult news is made only more challenging by our inability to be together in person. The newsroom is planning a tribute to celebrate Richard’s incredible legacy.”
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*Two FM signals in the North Country are plotting out a pair of moves that will result in one fewer signal in Plattsburgh and one additional signal in the Glens Falls market.
In Plattsburgh, RadioActive’s WIRY-FM (100.7 Plattsburgh West) has been silent since its LMA with WIRY (1340) ended a few months ago when the AM station was sold. Now RadioActive is applying to move the 100.7 license southwest to the Tri-Lakes region, trading its current class C3 signal for a 3.1 kW/-52 m class A signal licensed to Ray Brook. (Another RadioActive station, WPLA 107.1 Dannemora, would change city of license to Plattsburgh West to maintain “first local service” there, though of course dozens of signals already cover that municipality directly adjacent to Plattsburgh itself.)
Map of WIRY-FM, before (green) and after (red) courtesy FCCData.org
Why move out of Plattsburgh? Because, it appears, 100.7 will become the new home for the programming now on Saranac Lake’s WSLP (93.3), which is also applying for an even bigger move. WSLP’s owner, Jon Becker’s North Country Radio, is applying to move that class C3 signal south down I-87 to a new 120 watt/404 m class A signal on 93.5 in Warrensburg.
From there (the same tower used by WCQL 95.9, WCKM 98.5 and WJLH 90.7), the relocated WSLP would serve the Glens Falls market, where two sizable clusters (Pamal’s three FMs and two AMs and Regional Radio Group’s two FMs and one AM) already compete intensely.
(Historical note: the moves, if granted, would return the 93.5 frequency to the Glens Falls market, where they lived in the 1980s and 1990s on what was then WZZM-FM Corinth, part of what became the Vox cluster that eventually ended up with Pamal. That 93.5 signal also moved south, becoming what’s now EMF’s Air One signal for the Albany market, WYAI 93.7 Scotia. And if granted, WSLP’s move would displace the 93.5 Lake George translator for North Country Public Radio, W228BO.)
Why make these moves? We’ll be watching for what’s likely to be another piece of the puzzle – who’s going to acquire the 93.5 signal once it lands in Glens Falls, and pay for WSLP’s move from 93.3 to the new 100.7 facility in the Tri-Lakes?
*On Long Island, Jim Condron is leaving the Connoisseur cluster after more than five years as its SVP/market manager – and a dozen years before that running one of its stations, WALK (97.5), for previous owners Clear Channel and Aloha.
Condron’s not leaving the company, though; he’s transferring to its new Ferocious Media digital marketing subsidiary, where he’ll serve as chief creative officer. David Bevins, Connoisseur’s COO, will take over as market manager for the Long Island stations, which also include WWSK (94.3 the Shark), WKJY (K-Joy 98.3), WBZO (103.1 Max FM) and WHLI (1100).
*The last remaining piece of Cumulus in New York, WNBM (103.9 Bronxville), is getting a new morning show. The syndicated “Rick and Sasha Show,” a product of Cumulus’ Westwood One, is adding a clearance on WNBM this week, replacing the jockless morning drive that’s been in place on “Radio 103.9” since the Tom Joyner morning show ended last year.
*Is an historic callsign returning to the radio dial on the Niagara Frontier? WEBR was one of Buffalo’s pioneer radio stations when it signed on in 1924, and the WEBR calls continued to stand for good radio in the Queen City for decades afterward, under owners that included the Buffalo Evening News, its competitor the Courier-Express and eventually public broadcaster WNED. The original WEBR on 970 became WNED(AM) in 1993 and is now WDCZ. But the WEBR calls appear to be poised to come back – the new owner of WJJL (1440 Niagara Falls) has applied for a call change to WEBR, which would be the first time that station has changed calls in its 72-year history. (The WJJL calls came from its original owner, John J. Laux.)
Down the road, WECK (1230 Cheektowaga) has a new translator on the air. W261EB (100.1) joins WECK’s two existing translators on 102.9 in downtown Buffalo and 100.5 from Grand Island. The new translator at the quarry in Bowmansville, just north of the Thruway, serves Buffalo’s eastern suburbs; it’s a move of the former W262CM on 100.3 in Buffalo.
*And at WDKX in Rochester, they’re remembering a longtime air personality who died last week of COVID-19. Cyrus Allen called himself “The Love Sponge” long before that other guy down South used the name. He joined WDKX in 1981, when the urban station had been on the air only a few years, and soon settled in to the late-night/overnight shift as the host of “The Quiet Storm.” Allen also filled in on production and other jobs at the station for many years before leaving in 2014. He later worked in Australia, then returned to the US and settled in Atlanta, which is where he died last week.
(Usual disclaimer: your editor is WDKX’s chief engineer.)
*A CONNECTICUT LPFM has been ordered off the air. WYPH-LP (102.5 Manchester) has been on the air since 2014 and at its current location since 2017 – and last December, it drew a half-dozen complaints from listeners to Hartford’s WDRC-FM (102.9), most of them alleging interference at the same locations around Manchester. (It’s probably not a coincidence that WDRC owner Red Wolf has a CP for its own 102.5, a new translator for its WMMW 1470 Meriden.)
It doesn’t appear that WYPH’s owner, New River Community Church, ever responded to the complaints – and on Thursday, the FCC sent them a letter requiring that they suspend operation immediately. As of Sunday night, there was no evidence on WYPH’s website or social media that “Y102.5” had gone silent.
*A voice from a much earlier era of WDRC has fallen silent. Jerry Bishop was one of the original top-40 voices on “the Big D” when it started up on AM 1360 in the early 1960s, joining the station for his first paying radio job after graduating from Emerson College in Boston.
Bishop made a name for himself by moving west, working on the air at Los Angeles signals such as KFI, KLAC and KIIS – but he’s perhaps best known for his work as an announcer, including his long run as the voice of “Judge Judy.”
Bishop died Tuesday in Los Angeles, reportedly of heart disease. He was 84.
*One of the longest-running faces of TV weather in MASSACHUSETTS gave his final forecast Sunday night. Barry Burbank joined WBZ-TV (Channel 4) in 1978, making his 42-year run the longest of any on-air personality in the station’s 72-year history.
Before Burbank’s March 3, 1978 debut on Channel 4, he’d worked for two years at WCSH-TV (Channel 6) in Portland – but he’d always had a love for WBZ, dating back to a childhood visit to the station to meet its pioneering weatherman, Don Kent.
In the absence of the traditional farewell walk down the main hallway of the studios in Allston, Burbank was honored by his neighbors in North Andover, who held a drive-by parade over the weekend to congratulate him on his retirement.
Shay, born Ivan Shaner, began his Philadelphia radio career in 1962 at Temple University’s WRTI (90.1) after returning from Armed Forces Radio duty in Germany. He soon moved to WHAT-FM (96.5), where he took over that station’s folk show, then began programming weekly folk shows on WDAS (1480) in 1968. Shay’s next stops with his folk shows included WMMR in 1970, WIOQ in 1976, WHYY in 1981 and finally WXPN in 1995. (photo: WXPN)
At WXPN, Shay found a home for 20 years, where he helped give “World Cafe” its name, and where he played interviews from his long career, which also included decades at the helm of the Philadelphia Folk Festival and friendships with many of the genre’s best-known names. (Joni Mitchell, for instance, wrote “Both Sides Now” at the festival and played it for the first time on Shay’s show on WDAS.)
Shay had become ill with COVID-19 and was in hospice care in his final days.
*Up the road in Lansdale, Thursday is still scheduled to be the final day of local broadcasting for WNPV (1440) – but the future of that license remains up in the air. GM Phil Hunt tells the Lansdale Reporter that while sign-off is still set for midnight April 30, “we have been in discussion with several interested parties. I have no further information at this time.”
*Radio People on the Move in CANADA: Broadcast Dialogue reports that Maritime Broadcasting Systems has been cutting some staffers, including morning host Terry Parker and producer Nathan Simms at CFQM (103.9 Max FM) in Moncton, N.B., Russell MacKenzie, who did airshifts on CHNS in Halifax and CFCY in Charlottetown; and CKEN (AVR 97.7) morning host Brian Symonds in Kentville, N.S.
And up in northern Ontario, May 22 will be the last day on the air for Waubgeshig Rice, who’s hosted the afternoon “Up North” show for CBC Radio One out of Sudbury for two years and has been with the CBC for 14 years.
*In Woodstock, Ontario, they’re mourning Brian Langston. After a long career out west at stations in British Columbia (and a two-year detour to Wales), Langston came to Woodstock in 2015 as general manager of CIHR (104.7 Heart FM), where he retired last year after being diagnosed of ALS. Langston died April 17.