In this week’s issue… Audacy tweaks TDY – Philly’s DeBella plans retirement – Will Toucher and Rich split? – Remembering NYC’s Roland – More Canadian AMs head to FM
By SCOTT FYBUSH
Jump to: ME – NH – VT – MA – RI – CT – NY – NJ – PA – Canada
*Is there any bigger artist in the world right now than Taylor Swift? The native of eastern PENNSYLVANIA (who made her first radio appearance ever on Reading’s WEEU, we’re pretty sure) was back home in Philadelphia for a string of sold-out shows, and as radio stations have been doing around the country, Audacy’s top-40 WTDY (96.5) jumped on the bandwagon by turning itself into “Ninety-Swift-Five TAY” for four solid days of nonstop Swift tunes.
Clever stunt, sure – but worthy of leading off the column on a Monday morning? In this case, yes, because change was already in the air at WTDY after last month’s exit of PD Nathan Graham and morning co-host Raven Brinson. And so just after 9 AM, after promoting a new “Era” of 96.5 (it’s the “Eras” tour, after all), Swift gave way to Bebe Rexha’s “I’m Good,” a promise of “feel-good music,” and a new name of… “The New 96.5, Feel Good Variety,” with a logo that just crops the “TDY” off the bottom of the previous version.
The new “New,” ironically, ends up being less “new” than its predecessor – so far, it seems to draw from sister station WNEW (102.7) up the road in New York and from the format adjustment Audacy made last month at Chicago’s WBBM-FM (B96), reaching back a few years in the top-40 playlist alongside newer music. Will it be enough to give 96.5 a lane of its own alongside its more successful clustermates, AC WBEB (B101) and classic hits WOGL (Big 98.1) and against iHeart’s mainstream top-40, WIOQ (Q102)? We’ll be listening.
*Over at Beasley’s WMGK (102.9), it’s almost the end of the road for Philadelphia radio veteran John DeBella.
Just 30 when he came to Philly in 1982 to do mornings at WMMR (93.3) following successes at Pittsburgh’s WPEZ and Long Island’s WLIR, DeBella is now 71. His contract with Beasley ended in December, but in his retirement message to listeners, he said he and the company agreed to keep him on in mornings for six more months – but when that ends at the end of June, he’ll be ready to start sleeping in.
“When I came to Philadelphia in 1982, I would never have believed that I could have gone as far as I have here. I’ve been blessed with a magical life and a career beyond my wildest imagination,” DeBella said.
Known for his flamboyant mustache and his long-running feud with Howard Stern in the days when Stern’s show aired across town on the former WYSP, DeBella has also made a name for himself as an indefatigable fundraiser for charities, including veterans groups.
“I’m going to pack as much fun as I possibly can into the next 8 weeks and I’m hoping for the biggest Veterans Radiothon EVER!,” DeBella said. There’s no word yet on who might replace him beginning in July.
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