In this week’s issue… Format shuffle follows Forever’s Altoona exit – Public TV job cuts in Mass. – Another AM gone – ATSC 3 launches in Rochester – Tower sells Elmira – Saga Portland making “Whoopie” – PLUS: Baseball On The Radio, 2023 Edition
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*When Seven Mountains/Southern Belle acquired most of Forever’s stations in western PENNSYLVANIA last year, Kristin Cantrell’s company had to move fairly quickly to rearrange formats on the signals in State College that had belonged to her father, Kerby Confer, in order to be able to spin off several FMs that couldn’t stay with Seven Mountains because of market caps.
In two neighboring markets, though, the Forever formats continued for a few months longer while Seven Mountains made changes behind the scenes to get ready to relaunch its own preferred brands and formats on the signals. We’re still waiting to see what shakes out in Johnstown, but last week brought big changes in Altoona as Seven Mountains dropped several Forever formats and launched a few of its own.
Will everybody love the new sounds at Seven Mountains? We hope you’ll agree that we at least have a comprehensive list of what’s changed and what’s still changing:
*On the AM dial, WFBG (1290/104.5) had a brand that went back 99 years, to the 1924 debut of the station under department store owner William F.B. Gable. In later years under Walter Annenberg’s Triangle group, the AM station spawned the market’s big TV station, WFBG-TV (Channel 10, now WTAJ) and WFBG-FM (98.1, now “Froggy” WFGY). Gable’ initials are still in the calls there, at least for now, but on Tuesday afternoon at 4:30, the news-talk format on WFBG came to an end, replaced by a loop of NSync’s “Pop” that led up to a Friday debut of Seven Mountains’ “Pop” top-40 format on the AM/translator combo.
That, in turn, meant Friday changes for Forever’s existing top-40 station, WWOT (Hot 100.1). It took the WALY calls and AC format that have long been on 103.9 – and that 103.9 signal in turn flipped to the “WOWY” oldies format that’s also heard on 103.1 in State College. 103.9 has applied for the calls WQWY.
WOWY has also replaced the “Toona” oldies/classic hits format that had been on WTNA 1430 and its 99.7 translator in Altoona, but that may just be a temporary simulcast, we’re hearing.
As in State College, Seven Mountains isn’t changing the top-rated “Froggy” country format on WFGY or the classic rock “Rocky” on WRKY (104.9).
*The disappearance of news-talk leaves an open lane for competitor Lightner Communications, which now has the format to itself on WRTA (1240/98.5); the two companies cooperated in State College to move Forever’s WRSC news-talk format there from 1390/93.3 (also now a “Pop” outlet) to 95.3, one of the Forever signals that Seven Mountains had to spin off in that market.
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