In this week’s issue: Barnstable’s $23 million Long Island exit – WLNY joins CBS – Huckabee lands at WOR – Vermont gets a new “Mix” – Jimmy Roach jumps from “Froggy” to WDSY – Baseball on the Radio 2012 (the Minor Leagues)
by SCOTT FYBUSH
*It is, by far, the biggest station sale in NEW YORK State – and indeed, in all of NERW-land – so far in 2012. But perhaps the biggest news about Barnstable Broadcasting’s sale of its four Long Island signals last week is the price tag: just $23 million for class A FMs WIGX (94.3 Smithtown), WKJY (98.3 Hempstead) and WBZO (103.1 Bay Shore) and AM daytimer WHLI (1100 Hempstead).
It’s a far cry from the huge prices that even suburban signals once fetched, and it’s arguably even a cut below the $15 million that Cox took in when it sold then-WCTZ (96.7 Port Chester) to EMF Broadcasting in 2010. It’s hard to make a direct comparison, since WCTZ’s price included the value of the station’s relocation from Stamford, Connecticut to New Rochelle, with partial New York City coverage; the WCTZ sale, unlike the Barnstable sale, included none of WCTZ’s intellectual property or billing. In 2010, we’re told the Barnstable cluster billed about $12 million in all, with more than half of that attributable to WKJY, and that suggests these stations changed hands for something ar0und four times cash flow, which would have been an unimaginably low multiple at the top of the market.
The sale takes Barnstable out of the market, and indeed out of the radio business entirely after decades in which the Massachusetts-based company grew to encompass more than twenty signals. And it brings Jeff Warshaw’s Connoisseur Media into a market just across Long Island Sound from its Westport, Connecticut headquarters.
For now, as usual, Connoisseur is saying no programming changes are planned at the stations, but there’s certainly room for some shifts – and maybe an even bigger opportunity down the road.
It’s unlikely Connoisseur will tinker too much with WKJY, since the AC “K-Joy” format there has been one of the Island’s most consistently successful. The oldies on WBZO (“B-103”) are probably safe, too, and there’s not much else to do with WHLI but to keep playing the standards that draw a small and aging, but very loyal, audience.
Then there’s WIGX, where the “94-X” 90s-hits format installed in 2010 has failed to catch fire. It’s widely expected that Connoisseur will install its own “Bob” adult hits format on 94.3, at least in the short term. But in the long term, could Warshaw’s strategic upgrade skills make the signal much more valuable by using it as a pawn in a bigger move?
Recall that the allocations experts have been poring over the upgrade potential for WFME (94.7 Newark NJ) as Family Stations prepares to sell that Class B signal on the opposite side of New York City…and that in doing so, many of them have realized that the biggest obstacle by far to moving WFME to a Manhattan transmitter site is, yes, WIGX. The Long Island 94.3 signal is fully spaced to WFME right now but would be impermissibly short-spaced to any WFME Manhattan site unless the Long Island station can move out of the way. It’s not clear to us that it can move (the Smithtown allocation is very tightly wedged in among other short-spaced signals), but if a WIGX relocation is at all possible, it could be a valuable chess piece in a much bigger radio game down the road. Connoisseur is no stranger to creative move-ins; in Erie, Pennsylvania, the company’s only existing NERW-land cluster, the company is in the process of relocating “Rocket 101” WRKT from 100.9 to 104.9 at a new site much closer to the core of the market.
*We now know where Cumulus’ new Mike Huckabee show will be clearing in New York City, and it’s not on Cumulus’ own WABC (770) – at least not right away. When Huckabee’s noontime show premieres next Monday, it will show up on an 8-hour delay, across town at WOR (710), where two hours of the show will run from 8-10 PM on weeknights.
At WOR, Huckabee will displace Dave Ramsey and the first hour of Dr. Joy Browne, and he’ll have a toehold in the nation’s largest market while Cumulus waits to see if the show builds enough momentum to bring it over to its own WABC (770), either on a delayed clearance or eventually live if the company makes good on its stated intention to bring as much of its programming in-house as possible. For now, though, Cumulus is making good on another of its promises, keeping that timeslot’s incumbent, Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh, in place through the end of his contract. (When will that be? Nobody’s saying officially, of course, but we’re hearing Cumulus’ Rush deals around the country run out in 2013 and 2014.)
*CBS Radio’s WXRK (92.3 Now) has a new program director, a month after Dom Theodore’s departure. Rick Gillette comes to the top-40 station from CBS in Phoenix, where he programmed top-40 KZON (101.5) and oldies KOOL (94.5), and he’s also worked in Detroit, Chicago and Sacramento.
*The latest chapter in the roaming translator currently known as W292DV (106.3) has taken the low-powered signal back across the East River. After interference complaints forced the translator to suspend operations from Four Times Square, it now has a construction permit to return to the air from the roof of an apartment building at Skillman Avenue and 40th Street, two blocks north of Queens Boulevard in Long Island City. It’s now authorized for just 25 watts, non-directional, and owner “Apple 107.1” (Michael Celenza) now says it will relay WVIP (93.5 New Rochelle, or perhaps one of its HD subchannels) instead of its previous primary, the HD2 channel of Clear Channel’s WLTW (106.7).
Is this the last stop in an odyssey that has taken the translator from Brooklyn to Union City, New Jersey to Manhattan to Long Island City? We wouldn’t bet on it.
*On TV, CBS has taken over operations of WLNY (Channel 55). The Long Island-based independent station did its last 11 PM newscast from its Melville studios Thursday night. and by Friday morning the station’s operations had been moved to the CBS Broadcast Center on West 57th Street in Manhattan. Gone in the move were WLNY’s longtime syndicated staples, “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune”; it’s competitor WABC-TV that has the New York City rights to those shows, and while WABC was willing to let WLNY carry them as well when the Pascucci family owned the station, it’s apparently not so eager to let CBS run them.
WLNY gets a new logo out of the move (with a distinct similarity to that of KCAL-9, a similar CBS-owned independent that’s in a duopoly with Los Angeles O&O KCBS-TV), it’s now broadcasting in HD, and it will get newscasts again at some point in the not-too-distant future (reportedly mid-June), though surely not at 11 PM against WCBS-TV’s own newscast. Will WLNY follow the lead of KCAL in running local newscasts at non-traditional times such as 3 PM, 8 PM and 9 PM?
The Melville studios will remain open as WCBS-TV’s Long Island bureau, with WLNY anchor Richard Rose and some 30 other staffers staying on board; about 20 other staffers lost their jobs in the transition.
One more WLNY note: the low-power signals that formerly relayed WLNY have new identities and a new owner. WLNY-CD (Channel 45) in Mineola, Long Island is now WMUN-CD and WLIG-LD (Channel 17) in Morristown, N.J. is now WNMF-LD, both owned by Local Media TV Holdings. The Pascucci family keeps W17CR (Channel 17) in Plainview, which changes calls to WLIG-LP.
*Hot on the heels of its launch of “Hot 99.1” on an HD2/translator, Townsquare Media appears to be poised to put a second new signal on the air in the Albany market. This one will come via translator W235AY (94.9), which is currently a small signal from Bald Mountain carrying the Sound of Life Network’s religious programming. But an application filed Friday would relocate W235AY to the tower farm in the Helderbergs, southwest of Albany, with 250 directional watts aimed back at Albany. What does Sound of Life have to do with Townsquare? The translator will be on the WGNA (107.7) tower, and it will relay WGNA’s HD3 channel, whatever may be on its way there. Stay tuned…
*In Buffalo, Shannon Steele is exiting WKSE (Kiss 98.5) at the start of May, following her husband to a new job in northeast Ohio. That creates an opening for afternoons and music director at the Entercom top-40 station, as yet unfilled.
Is a big sports name switching media? That’s what former Buffalo News media columnist Alan Pergament, now blogging at StillTalkinTV, says he’s hearing about veteran sportscaster John Murphy, the longtime radio voice of the Bills. In June, Pergament says, Murphy is planning to leave WIVB (Channel 4), where he’s been sports director since 2008, and will instead work for the Bills full-time. Pergament says that work could include a nightly Bills-focused talk show on the team’s new radio home, WGR (550). WIVB is already losing sportscaster Paul Peck next month, and Pergament says both Murphy and Peck have been frustrated by the station’s decreasing emphasis on sports in its newscasts.
Down the road in Olean, AllAccess notes that Colonial Radio Group’s WXMT (106.3 Smethport PA, plus an Olean translator at 98.7) now has an all-female airstaff in place, with Roxanne Stuart in morning drive, Jen Austin handling middays and Amy Taylor in the evening.
In Binghamton, the new Gary Nolan and Lori morning show debuts today on Clear Channel’s WMXW (103.3 Vestal). Lori’s move to “Mix 103.3” left room for a new morning show at sister station WMRV (105.7 Endicott), and that’s being filled by the syndicated Elvis Duran morning show out of New York, leaving “Star 105.7” with no local air talent at all. (That sort of stripped-down operation leaves little room for more staff cutbacks, and from what we can tell, most of Clear Channel’s NERW-land markets escaped the latest round of job cuts that hit Jacksonville, Phoenix and other larger markets last week.)
Here in Rochester, one of your editor’s colleagues at WXXI (1370) is about to be a Radio Person on the Move: Rachel Ward has been hired by NPR as a producer for “Morning Edition,” and she’ll be relocating to Washington after this week. Rachel came to WXXI as local host of “All Things Considered,” and two years ago she became the founding editor of the “Innovation Trail” project, a CPB-funded Local Journalism Center that includes reporters at public media outlets across upstate New York. She was also your editor’s co-host for several years on “Mixed Media,” WXXI’s series of technology and media reports…and we’ll miss her as she moves on to bigger things.
Down the road in Syracuse, “AJ” is the new program director at Clear Channel’s WWHT (Hot 107.9), moving north up I-81 after a dozen years at Citadel/Cumulus top-40 WBHT (97.1) in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania market, most recently as PD.
*There’s belated word of the death earlier this year of George Engle, who came from Cleveland’s WERE to New York’s WNEW (1130) in the 1960s and later worked at WCBS (880) and the NBC News and Information Service (NIS). We don’t have many details on his passing, and would love to hear from readers who do…
*The former WBUD (1260) in Trenton, NEW JERSEY wants a little more power and a bigger signal towards the southwest. The station is now Catholic WFJS, and licensee Domestic Church Media Foundation filed last week to bump its daytime power from 5000 to 5900 watts, adding a fifth short tower (128 feet) to the station’s existing four-tower directional array and improving the WFJS signal into Bucks County, across the Pennsylvania line.
The move is made possible by the deletion of WNWK (1260) in Newark, Delaware – which was in turn a move arranged by Salem Communications to allow for a much bigger power increase at Salem’s WWRC (1260) in Washington, D.C.
*Radio People on the Move in western PENNSYLVANIA: CBS Radio’s KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh) has named Jim Graci as its new program director and promoted P.J. Kumanchik from assistant news director to news director. Graci comes back to Pittsburgh from KLIF (570) in Dallas, where he was PD for the last year or so; from 2004-2010, he programmed ESPN Radio’s WEAE (1250) in Pittsburgh.
Over at Keymarket’s “Froggy” trimulcast (WOGG 94.9 Oliver, WOGI 104.3 Moon Township, WOGH 103.5 Burgettstown), morning man Jimmy Roach has departed the, er, lilypad. Roach has a long resume in the Pittsburgh market, including stints at WDVE (102.5), WMYG (96.9, now WRRK) and mornings at Froggy’s big country competitor, WDSY (107.9) – and he’s now headed back to Y108, where he’ll reunite with Brian “Monty” Montgomery starting this morning.
On the other end of the state, it appears longtime WZZO (95.1 Allentown) afternoon jock Tori Thomas has parted ways with the Clear Channel rocker.
*Over in the world of TV, Patricia Simon is departing WLVT (Channel 39) in the Lehigh Valley to “pursue other opportunities.” Simon’s departure comes a few months after the PBS outlet relocated to a new studio and office space at the SteelStacks development in Bethlehem; Timothy Fallon will serve as acting CEO while the station’s board picks a replacement for Simon.
Jim DePury is the new news director at WBRE-TV (Channel 28) in Wilkes-Barre, moving there from WGAL-TV (Channel 8) in Lancaster. DePury also worked as news director at York’s WPMT (Channel 43) from 1994-2008.
*Robin Mills-Bumbaugh worked under several airnames in the 1980s and 1990s at central Pennsylvania stations such as WIKZ (95.1 Chambersburg), where she was “Kelly Buchanan,” and WTPA (93.5 Mechanicsburg) and WYCR (98.5 York), where she was “Kelly Knight.” She later went on to work in Baltimore and Washington, and the radio communities there are mourning her death at age 47 of cancer last Sunday (March 25). She leaves behind a three-year-old daughter, and we’ll keep you posted as a memorial fund is set up to assist the family.
The new Mix is competing against Vox’s WEZF (Star 92.9), which has a new morning team. Afternoon host Mary Cenci shifts to wakeup duty alongside Tim Kavanagh. Former host John Nolan is out, and his co-host Tara Madison is moving to afternoon drive to replace Cenci.
*In western MASSACHUSETTS, the former WHYN-FM (93.1) morning team of “Dan and Kim” will be moving to TV later this month. Dan Williams and Kim Zachary (who are husband and wife as well as broadcast partners) were unceremoniously ousted from “Mix 93.1” in mid-January, but on April 23rd, they’ll become the hosts of the new “40 in the Morning” show on WGGB (Channel 40), the Springfield market’s ABC affiliate.
*A RHODE ISLAND low-power FM station is a little less low-power this week. WSUB-LP (96.7 Ashaway) relocated its transmitter over the weekend, gaining more height and a bigger reach by relocating from its existing site on a short tower behind a Citgo station in South Hopkinton. The new home for “96.7 the Buzz” is 159 feet up on a nearby factory smokestack that’s also the transmitter site of Horizon Christian Fellowship’s WXEV (91.1 Bradford).
*After some very busy weeks in CANADA, it was a quiet one to close out March.
In Cornwall, Ontario, French-language community station CHOD (92.1) has been granted a sizable power boost, going from 19.2 kW (45.6 kW max DA)/39 m to 34.2 kW (60 kW max DA)/106.7 m from a new transmitter site. CHOD says the move will help it better serve the Francophone community in eastern Ontario, which “has difficulty receiving the signal.”
Milkman UnLimited reports the death of veteran Brantford newsman Tim Symons, who’d worked at CKPC (1380/92.1) for 28 years. Symons died Monday (March 26), survived by wife Elsie, three children and a new grandson.
*How about some more Baseball on the Radio?
Last week, we tackled the major leagues, and before we get started with the top-level minor-league teams that start play soon, a couple of updates and corrections: thanks to NERW reader Jim Haug for supplying the correct lineup in the booth for the Pirates – it’s Tim Neverett with Greg Brown doing play-by-play and Steve Blass, John Wehner and Bob Walk as analysts. Blass and Walk work home games, Wehner and Walk go on the road. (And we still miss Rochester’s own Lanny Frattare…) And the Yankees have swapped out Tampa affiliates, replacing sports outlet WHBO (1040) with its sister talker WWBA (820), a significantly bigger signal.
On to the International League:
The Pawtucket Red Sox lost Dan Hoard to the Cincinnati Bengals during the off-season (there’s a bad joke in there about swapping one minor-league team for another, but we’ll refrain), and the proverbial nationwide search turned up Aaron Goldsmith, late of the Frisco RoughRiders in Texas, as Hoard’s replacement alongside Steve Hyder in the radio booth this year. Goldsmith has some Sox connections, too: he worked the 2009 season for the Portland Sea Dogs. Clear Channel’s WHJJ (920) remains the flagship, with a network of signals around New England, most of them carrying only a very limited schedule when the big Boston team has an off day.
The Syracuse Chiefs enter their second season on WSKO (1260), with Jason Benetti once again in the booth. He’ll also call 33 games on TV for Time Warner Cable Sports.
The Rochester Red Wings remain on WHTK (1280/107.3), with Josh Whetzel back behind the mike and a big change behind the scenes, as veteran PR director Chuck Hinkel has moved on after 11 seasons with NERW’s hometown team. Chuck’s now working for Citizens Bank, and Mark Rogoff replaces him with the Wings. 51 Wings games will also be seen on Time Warner Cable Sports in Rochester, with one game on MLB Network as well.
The Buffalo Bisons retain their high-powered flagship station, WWKB (1520), with some games appearing down the dial on WGR (550) as well. It’s Ben Wagner and Duke McGuire back in the booth at Coca-Cola Field. Time Warner Cable has the Bisons, too, with a 49-game schedule (plus five games on SNY, when the parent New York Mets aren’t playing.)
The Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees are easily the most interesting minor-league story this season. Their home ballpark in Moosic, Pennsylvania is out of commission all year as it undergoes a much-needed renovation (ask me sometime about trying to get a baby Fybush changed in those horrible restrooms!), and that means the baby Yanks will be playing their “home” games on the road all season. Some of those games will be just down the road at the home park of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and one “home” series will be at Pawtucket, but most of the team’s games will be scattered across upstate New York, with the majority of those here in Rochester and a few others in Buffalo, Batavia and Syracuse.
To promote the temporary relocation and sell a few more jerseys and caps, the team is adopting “Empire State Yankees” as a promotional name for the season, but the official name will still be “Scranton-Wilkes Barre,” and that’s what broadcaster Bob Vander Woude will be calling the team when he calls the games on the “Game” network (WICK 1400 Scranton, WYCK 1340 Plains) for the fans back home.
(There’s nothing we can find to suggest that the “home” games here in Rochester or elsewhere will get local radio coverage, though there’s wide expectation that the Yanks may actually outdraw the Red Wings in Frontier Field attendance this season, when there will be more professional baseball played within Rochester city limits than any other city in the country save for New York and Chicago.)
Back to the IronPigs: Matt Provence is back in the booth, and “ESPN Lehigh Valley” (WTKZ 1320 Allentown and WEEX 1230 Easton) continues as the flagship, accompanied by a half-dozen or so affiliates. The ‘Pigs once again enjoy enviable TV coverage, with a full schedule on Service Electric Cable 2 that’s also fed to Blue Ridge Cable subscribers and to low-power WYLN in Hazleton.
*Thursday night also kicks off this season’s action in the AA Eastern League, and we’ll start our rundown with the Portland SeaDogs, who’ve moved from WBAE (1490)/WVAE (1400 Biddeford) over to the FM dial and Atlantic Coast Radio’s WPEI (95.9 Saco)/WPPI (95.5 Topsham), with Mike Antonellis continuing in the broadcast chair. The team retains an extensive network, too, including Dick Gleason’s WOXO (92.7 Norway)/WTBM (100.7 Mexico), WEZR (1240 Lewiston) and WTME (780 Rumford)/WKTQ (1450 South Paris).
With the SeaDogs gone from WBAE/WVAE, by the way, those Saga talk stations have switched to the New York Yankees for the 2012 season, giving southern Maine listeners the chance to hear both the Yanks and the Sox on the radio.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats have WGIR (610 Manchester) back as their flagship, with new broadcaster Tom Gauthier joining Bob Lipman on a network that also includes WSMN (1590 Nashua), WGIN (930 Rochester) , WEEY (93.5 Swanzey/Keene) and WTSL (1400 Hanover).
After several seasons with the HD2 channel of WTIC-FM (96.5 Hartford) as their flagship, the New Britain Rock Cats return to terrestrial analog radio this season with a move to Clear Channel’s WPOP (1410 Hartford), apparently for home games only. Jeff Dooley is back for a 15th season in the booth, and those devoted HD2 Rock Cats fans, if they exist, can follow along on WUCS (97.9-HD2), which is evidently simulcasting WPOP. The Rock Cats’ road games will air on WLIS (1420 Old Saybrook)/WMRD (1150 Middletown), which have been carrying a partial schedule for the team for several years now.
Is this the last season for the Binghamton Mets in AA? Last we heard, team officials were denying reports that the Binghamton AA franchise would be moving to a new ballpark in Ottawa, with the single-A Norwich franchise moving to Binghamton in 2013. Whether or not that comes to pass, the B-Mets continue on WNBF (1290) this year, as best we can tell.
The Erie SeaWolves continue on WFNN (1330), the Altoona Curve remain with WVAM (1430) for a fourth season, and the Harrisburg Senators remain on WTKT (1460), with Millersburg University senior Matt Dudas joining Terry Byrom in the booth.
That leaves the Reading Phillies as the only Pennsylvania AA team with a new flagship for 2012: after a dozen years with WIOV (1240), they’ve crossed the street to Clear Channel’s WRAW (1340), with Brian Seltzer still announcing the games. The R-Phils also benefit from Service Electric Cable’s big focus on local sports, with 25 of their games airing on the local “SEC-2” channel.
On the New Jersey side of the Delaware, the Trenton Thunder add Josh Maurer to veteran broadcaster Jay Burnham in the booth, broadcasting all the team’s games on WTSR (91.3 Trenton) and select games on WBCB (1490 Levittown-Fairless Hills PA). In the press release announcing Maurer’s move from UMass Amherst (where he was the Voice of the Minutemen), the Thunder also announced the hiring of a new “Facilitator of Awesomeness,” a title we could not make up no matter how hard we might try.
*And after all these years of doing this feature, we’ve finally learned to remember that while the New York-Penn League doesn’t start its short-A season until June, when its college players become available, the single-A South Atlantic League starts play when the upper majors do, and that includes New Jersey’s Lakewood Blue Claws. They’re back on WOBM (1160 Lakewood)/WADB (1310 Asbury Park), the “Shore Sports Network,” with Adam Giardino joining Greg Giombarrese in the booth.
We’ll catch up with the New York-Penn teams and the independent leagues when those seasons get underway…and in the meantime…
(And pick up a copy of the 2012 Tower Site Calendar, if you don’t already have one – we’ve slashed the price to clear out our remaining stash as we get ready to launch the all-new 2013 edition in just a few months…)
Yup, we’ve been doing this a long time now, and so we’re digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five, ten and – where available – fifteen years ago this week, or thereabouts.
Note that the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as “New England Radio Watch,” and didn’t go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997.
One Year Ago: April 4, 2011 –
*Entercom has added another FM news-talk simulcast to its growing list, killing off Buffalo-market AAA “107.7 the Lake,” WLKK, in favor of a simulcast of news-talker WBEN (930).
*A few quick updates from the road on some headline news back home: in Boston, WTKK (96.9) afternoon talker Jay Severin is off the air at the Greater Media station, suspended indefinitely after making remarks on air about having had relations with young employees at a business he used to own. No word on when he’ll be back, or if a permanent replacement is in the works. In Connecticut, WSHU Public Radio has quietly added a new signal to its stable: the programming on its “AM network” (WSHU 1260 Westport) is apparently now being heard on WYBC (1340 New Haven), where it replaces Yale University’s student-run programming, which now appears to be streaming-only.
Five Years Ago: April 2, 2007 –
*There’s an unusual ownership dispute playing out in NEW YORK‘s Southern Tier, where the future of WKPQ (105.3 Hornell) has been up in the air for several years now, as longtime owner Bilbat Radio fights a planned sale to Robert Pfuntner’s Pembrook Pines group that apparently went sour somewhere along the way. We’re not quite sure how the whole dispute got started, but it’s outlived one of Bilbat’s principals – Richard “Bat” Lyons died last year, leaving Bill Berry to carry on his fight to keep the sale to Pembrook Pines from going through.
The latest installment of the saga finds control of WKPQ passing from Bilbat, which had been LMA’ing the station to Sterling Management, to Anthony Panetta, who began running the station under an interim LMA Sunday morning, en route to a settlement that will put WKPQ in Pembrook Pines’ hands in exchange for WABH (1380 Bath).
Bilbat, which continues to operate WHHO (1320 Hornell), is still fighting the transfer; the website for WKPQ’s now-former “Freedom 105” format offers information to listeners about how to challenge a license transfer. It appears that the “Freedom 105” programming has migrated down the dial to WHHO; we can’t hear the AM signal here at NERW Central, but a check of the big FM signal Sunday afternoon found it running satellite-delivered AC as “Power 105,” a return to an earlier WKPQ slogan.
This saga’s clearly far from over; we’ll be keeping an eye on it.
*Here in Rochester, Entercom was in the headlines last week as it shuffled the lineup of stations it plans to keep when it completes its purchase of CBS Radio’s local cluster.
Entercom now says it will keep classic rock WCMF (96.5 Rochester) and top 40 WPXY (97.9 Rochester) from the CBS group, as well as its country WBEE (92.5 Rochester), classic hits WBZA (98.9 Rochester) and talk WROC (950 Rochester). That means former CBS stations WZNE (94.1 Brighton) and WRMM (101.3 Rochester), as well as Entercom’s WFKL (93.3 Fairport), will go up for sale.
The decision makes it clear that WCMF was the prize Entercom wanted from the CBS cluster, bringing veteran Rochester morning man Brother Wease into the Entercom Rochester fold. As for the rest of the stations, the sale of signal- and ratings-challenged WZNE was a given – but why keep WPXY and sell WRMM, which has higher ratings and revenue with its AC “Warm 101.3” format? NERW suspects the deal would have had a harder time winning Justice Department and FCC approval if Entercom had ended up with both WBEE and WRMM, which are usually two of the top three stations in town.
No buyer has yet been announced for the spinoff group (which will presumably remain housed at CBS’ facility in the HSBC Building, while WCMF and WPXY move to Entercom’s High Falls studios), which probably means there’s still some room for these station lineups to change before the deal is finalized.
WSLP (93.3 Saranac Lake) kicks off its regular programming this morning, and we hear there will be local hosts on the station’s airwaves once it gets up and running.
Downstate, New York’s “Fresh FM” (WWFS 102.7) has named a morning host: he’s Dave Packer, whose career has included weekends at WBEB (101.1 Philadelphia) and a stint at WBGO (88.3 Newark).
*There’s an official format now at VERMONT‘s newest radio station. WTNN (97.5 Bristol) is now “Eagle Country 97.5,” challenging Burlington market leader WOKO (98.9) and Rutland’s “Cat Country” WJEN (94.5). So far, it’s all satellite-delivered, but that’ll be changing, we hear.
*A most unusual travel information station in CANADA is changing formats. CFYZ (1280) signed on a few years ago as the voice of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, and for a time it actually offered live drive-time programming aimed at travelers heading to or from the airport. Then the airport authority pulled the plug on the station’s funding, and CFYZ went silent. Now it’s back, under new calls and with a new programmer. Canada’s Business Network is providing a combination of business talk and syndicated talkers (including Dennis Miller and Glenn Beck) to the station, which will soon be operating under new calls CFBN.
Official sign-on for the new CFBN, which will operate from studios in Pearson’s Terminal 1, is set for next Monday, April 9.
Up north at Humber College, CKHC (96.9) hopes to graduate from low-power status to a class A1 community radio license; it’s applying to increase power from 5 watts to 60 watts/31 meters.
In Sarnia, Points Eagle Radio applies for a new station on 103.3, with 6 kW DA/66.6 meters, to broadcast in English and in Aboriginal languages.
And in Montreal, CKAC (730) relaunches today as a French-language all-sports station, replacing the RadioMedia talk that’s moving to FM across the province, as the venerable AM signal tries to find a way to bring back the listeners who have largely moved elsewhere in recent years.
Ten Years Ago: April 1, 2002 –
One of the best-known voices in Buffalo radio is without a spot on the dial this week – and alas, the end of Danny Neaverth’s morning show on WHTT (104.1) is no April Fool joke. The Citadel-owned oldies station began dropping hints late in March that it was looking to cut costs, dismissing Neaverth’s son (Dan Jr. had been doing sports on WHTT) and daughter-in-law (P.J. Fox, who had been doing part-time air work for the station. When Tony Violanti of the Buffalo News broke the news that Neaverth’s own contract would not be renewed, WHTT pulled Neaverth off the air after Wednesday’s show, calling at least a temporary halt to a career that began at WKBW in the fifties. There’s no word yet on what Neaverth’s next move might be – but WHTT didn’t wait long to fill his shoes, announcing Friday that veteran WBEN morning man Bill Lacy will take over morning drive in a few weeks. Lacy, who was let go in a cost-cutting binge at WBEN last year, had been heard filling in for Neaverth during several scheduled vacations recently.
Other news from around NEW YORK: Binghamton’s WMRV (105.7 Endicott) is the target of a lawsuit from the husband of a woman who died during a station promotion in June 2000. Susan Santodonato, 37, was one of about a hundred Britney Spears fans who turned up at WMRV’s old Endicott studio building after the station announced the pop star would be visiting. Spears wasn’t there, of course – but the Clear Channel CHR station had hired an actress to impersonate her and several “guards” to keep fans at a distance. Santodonato fell and hit her head on a garage door during the chaos, and the $1.2 billion suit filed by her husband says the injury, which led to her death a few hours later, was caused by one of the guards pushing her. The lawsuit names Clear Channel and Visions Federal Credit Union, which owned the Country Club Road building where WMRV’s studios were then located. (The station moved to a new studio in Vestal a few months ago.)
To PENNSYLVANIA we go next, and the next installment of the Harrisburg CHR wars. Last week, we told you that Cumulus had pulled the plug on the format at WNNK (104.1 Harrisburg), shifting “Wink” to a hot AC in the face of tough competition from Clear Channel’s “Kiss” WHKF (99.3). But it turns out that was only half the story: this week, Cumulus flipped oldies outlet WWKL (92.1 Palmyra) to CHR as “Hot 92,” launching a new challenge to Kiss, albeit on a signal that’s weak over much of the market. WNNK PD John O’Dea is overseeing the new entry as well, and he’s running it jockless for now. The irony here? Those WWKL calls and that oldies format were last heard in the market on…99.3, just before it flipped to “Kiss” last year!
Fifteen Years Ago: April 3, 1997 –
New England is recovering from a freak April snowstorm, and we here at NERW headquarters are suddenly having no regrets whatsoever about making the move to Rochester – and to think of all the ribbing we took for moving to “snowy” Upstate New York! Anyway, the storm is our top story this week, so on with the news:
The storm took several stations completely off the air, including WSSH (101.5) Marlboro VT and WDIS (1170) Norfolk MA. Several others, including WZSH (107.1) Bellows Falls VT, WHDQ (106.1) Claremont NH, and WVAY (100.7) Wilmington VT stayed on the air but without any audio. WLKW (790) Providence was noted with a phone-line audio feed to its East Providence transmitter. Most of the stations are now back on the air, with the exception of WDIS, which remained silent as of Wednesday morning. WBZ (1030) in Boston suffered a lightning strike to one of its two towers in Hull, Massachusetts, forcing the station to run from its backup 10 kilowatt transmitter at the Brighton studios for several hours on Tuesday while repairs were being made. ‘BZ ditched its usual taped overnight newscasts Monday night and Tuesday morning, keeping Don Huff in the studios with live newscasts all night.
On the radio-with-pictures side of the aisle, Boston’s network affiliates dumped most of their daytime programming Tuesday to stay with the big story. CBS O&O WBZ-TV was on the air from 5 AM until 1 PM, pulling veteran storm reporter Shelby Scott out of retirement to stand amidst nearly three feet of snow in Worcester. WCVB (Channel 5) was on from 5 AM until 2 PM, and WHDH-TV (Channel 7) outdid ’em all with coverage from just before 4 AM until 3 PM, pausing for an hour before picking back up at 4. As for Fox O&O WFXT (Channel 25), they were plagued by a power outage at the Dedham studios, which knocked out their 10 PM newscast. Backup power, Mr. Murdoch?
April Fool! Several Northeast stations got into the spirit of the day Tuesday, including Syracuse’s WNTQ (93.1), which spent the morning telling listeners their cash was about to be replaced by a new series of bills. The stunt was not appreciated by area banks, which had to spend the rest of the day persuading 93Q listeners that there was no need to come in and exchange their bills. Here in Rochester, WHAM (1180) went small-town for a few days, replacing the last hour of its midday talk show with “Tradio,” giving listeners the chance to call in and sell their household items. (We think that was an April Fool joke…)
News from all over: Providence’s WPRO AM/FM (630/92.3), WLKW (790), and WWLI (105.1) have new owners. Citadel Broadcasting is moving beyond its current markets in the midwest and out west to buy Tele-Media, whose holdings include almost 20 stations in its home base of Pennsylvania as well as the Providence stations and stations in Quincy IL. Purchase price for the whole package is $117 million, according to Inside Radio. WPRO and WLKW are the market’s AM leaders, with news/talk and standards formats, respectively. PRO-FM is the market’s CHR station, and “Lite 105” is one of two ACs. Format changes? One never knows…
Up in New Hampshire, the new owners of Lebanon’s 100.5 FM have put a new format and calls on the former WVRR (ex-WNBX, ex-WUVR, etc.). As of March 24, 100.5 is now “KIXX country,” picking up the WXXK format and calls from co-owned 101.7 Newport NH. 101.7 becomes WVRR, “V-101,” with a satellite adult-rock format. WKBK (1220) in Keene is promoting what it claims will be the market’s first all- female morning team.