In this week’s issue… Two owners shake up Champlain Valley dial – Saga switches Portland management – Flips coming in Elmira? – Veteran NJ rock jock remembered – Binghamton morning vet retires
By SCOTT FYBUSH
Loud Media, which had been running oldies “Mid-Century Radio” on WPLB (1070 Plattsburgh) and its 103.7 translator, flipped those signals on Saturday night to “Jump 103.7,” playing the same throwback hip-hop format it’s been running in Fort Collins, Colorado. The new “Jump” carries the syndicated DeDe in the Morning show, and is otherwise running automated for now.
For a few hours, that meant the Plattsburgh/Burlington market, of all the unlikely places, had two stations spinning classic hip-hop – but it didn’t last.
At midnight on Monday, Great Eastern Radio did away with its classic hip-hop format on WJKS (104.3 Keeseville), killing off “Kiss” almost five years to the week after Jeff Shapiro completed the move that took the former WWOD across Vermont from the Upper Valley into the Burlington market.
In place of “Kiss,” Great Eastern has launched a simulcast of its country “Froggy,” WWFY (100.9 Berlin), over in the Barre-Montpelier market on the other side of Burlington. Billing itself as “Vermont’s Country SuperStation,” the new supersized Froggy takes on one of the biggest stations in the Burlington market, Hall’s venerable WOKO (98.9), as well as John Fuller’s “Eagle Country” WTNN (97.5), plus classic country “Moose” on WXMS (97.9) on the New York side.
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The group faces a threatened lawsuit over the decision to terminate veteran manager and programmer Randi Kirshbaum, over what Saga says was her refusal to come back into the office and what she says are health-related concerns that should allow her to keep working at home. At news-talk WGAN (560), several longtime voices were cut loose in the last few months, too.
Saga says it needed to “take a more defined growth pattern,” in the memo it sent to employees about Adams’ exit after a five-year stint there. Zachary arrives in Portland fresh off the end of a long career at Entercom, which of course included a long run as the Boston-based market manager for the company’s New England clusters. More recently, he’d been senior VP/market manager for Entercom in Washington, though he’d eased out of that role into a corporate position for the final months of his contract before it expired in May.
*Up the road in Lewiston, Bob Bittner and engineer Bob Perry flipped the switch last week to turn on W247DK (97.3), the new FM translator for Bittner’s WLAM (1470). (Fybush Media was pleased to provide engineering and filing assistance for the new signal, as it has done for other Bittner signals including Boston’s WJIB.)
Kay, whose career also included earlier stops at WNNJ in Newton and the old WRNW (107.1) in Briarcliff Manor, NY, where he worked alongside a kid named Stern, had been suffering from lung cancer for several years when he died last Monday (June 8).
*Is there a new round of format flips coming to New York’s southern tier? When Seven Mountains began buying up signals in the Elmira-Corning market, it was easy to guess that the company’s signature “Bigfoot Country” format would be appearing on the air there – and now it’s filed for some callsign changes that may hint at a flip sometime soon.
The classic hits simulcast of WPHD (96.1 Elmira)/WZHD (97.1 Canaseraga)? They may not be so “Cool” once new calls of WCBF and WOBF come into use. But there’s another “BF” call in the mix, too: WMTT (94.7 Tioga PA), which has a coverage area that largely overlaps with WPHD, has applied to become WQBF. Will WMTT’s classic rock “Met” format survive up the dial? Seven Mountains has applied to move those calls to what’s now WPGI (100.9 Horseheads), the company’s current country entry (“The Wolf”); a new “Met” at 100.9 would mesh nicely with the Met simulcast that was introduced a few months ago at former news-talk WWLZ (820) and its big translator at 101.3.
(And what of the rest of the Seven Mountains cluster that’s been accumulated from the former Community and Equinox groups? There’s also big top-40 “Wink” WNKI 106.1, and the other rocker in the cluster, “Wingz” WNGZ 104.9 and its Watkins Glen simulcast, WRCE 1490, plus a slew of translators that could be used along with 96.1’s HD subchannels.)
*In Binghamton, Roger Neel has been a morning institution on WNBF (1290), where he’s been on the air in one capacity or another since 1978. That’s when the western Pennsylvania native came to Binghamton to be the radio voice of the Broome Dusters minor-league hockey team – and he never left.
Neel announced last week that as of this Friday, he’ll step down as WNBF’s morning man, as well as relinquishing the PD duties for WNBF and sister station WYOS (1360) that he’s held since 1986. Doug Mosher, who’s been a morning man for sister stations WAAL and WHWK, will take over those posts starting June 22, and Neel will still be involved at the stations calling play-by-play for Binghamton University basketball and high school football.
*Out on Long Island’s East End, public TV station WLIW (Channel 21) has rebranded its new radio purchase, WPPB (88.3 Southampton). As of this morning, it’s now WLIW-FM, with some schedule additions that include a nightly simulcast of WLIW’s “Metro Focus” TV show.
The new brand will also come with new studios, and WLIW says more national programming will be added in the months to come as it settles in with its new acquisition.
*It’s almost repack time in CANADA‘s largest market, where four UHF signals will change frequencies on July 3. Alert over-the-air viewers in and around Toronto have already seen test signals lighting up on the new channels for City, Global and OMNI: CITY-TV (57.1) will move from 44 to 30, Global’s CIII (41.1) from 41 to 17, and OMNI’s CFMT (47.1) and CJMT (44.1) from 47 and 40 to 18 and 26, respectively.
(The start of July will also bring some VHF repack action on the US side of the border, and we’ll have more details next week on the scheduling for the shifts affecting markets from Burlington and Albany down to Binghamton, Scranton, New York and Philadelphia.)