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The Year in Review, 2006


It's the twelfth annual installment of NERW's "Year in Review," that annual exercise in which your editor sits down (usually far too late on the afternoon of December 31, after copious procrastination) to sort through the detritus of another 12 months of broadcasting in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada and to try to make sense of it all.

The overwhelming sense here at NERW Central, as we paste the last corners of 2006 down in the scrapbook, is one of a mediocre year for broadcasting: too many jobs lost, a dearth of interesting new programming ideas or exciting new talents, and the ever-present drumbeat of new technologies howling outside the door of conventional radio and TV.

Even so, amidst all the news of layoffs and questionable format changes and so on, there were still a few stories that stood out - those interesting moments and trends we call our annual "Top 10."

Jimmy, can we roll the tape?

1. The axe swings, and swings, and swings

Radio has never been the right business to be in, if it's job security you're after. But there was a time, at least, when radio people could be reasonably certain that with a bit of job-hopping now and then, they could at least make a solid career in the business.

2006 was not that time, especially for those who worked for the big radio groups - and working for most stations in large and medium markets meant, almost inevitably, working for one of the big radio groups.

There were the usual mass firings in advance of a format change, like the blowing out of nearly all the airstaff at New York's WNEW (102.7) at year's end - but there were also some more disturbing group firings, none more so than Entercom's decision in November to shutter the local news operation at WRKO (680 Boston), putting all six newspeople out of work.

Newsrooms also felt cuts at several Clear Channel clusters, including Albany, Springfield, Syracuse, Rochester and New Haven, where the entire WELI news operation closed down at the end of the year, replaced by hourly Fox News Radio updates.

But it wasn't just news taking the hit. With Clear Channel imposing groupwide budget cuts in November and December, veteran DJs like Bill Buchner and J.J. Kennedy (replaced by the syndicated Delilah) at New York's WLTW, "Broadway" Bill Lee at WKTU, Joanie Edwardsen at WSNE in Providence, and many more across the region found themselves heading for the holidays without a job - and with fewer options than ever before for finding a new one.

2. The big groups contract

The budget cuts that drove many of those layoffs could be traced back to Wall Street, where investors looking for ever-larger profit margins came up against a radio industry that remained profitable, but with slow (if any) growth.

The result was really more a national story than a regional one, as Clear Channel escaped from the pressures of the stock market by striking a $26 billion deal to take the company private - most of it, anyway. Clear Channel ended the year by putting many of its smaller radio markets up for sale, along with its entire TV division.

CBS Radio remained public, but it too became a smaller company, shedding markets such as Rochester and Buffalo and reinventing itself as a major-market operator, focused on cities such as Boston and New York.

Tribune's problems stemmed mostly from its troubled newspaper division, but they affected TV as well, as the company sold WLVI in Boston and WCWN in Albany, with more sales likely in 2007.

And Disney looked to exit the radio business entirely, proposing a complicated deal to transfer its radio network and stations (except for the ESPN Radio and Radio Disney units) to Citadel. At year's end, that transfer was still tied up in regulatory red tape, with some doubt that it will ever be completed.

3. The legends head for the exits

Not only was there once some job security in radio - it was once possible for a news anchor or a jock to put in 40 years or more at the same station.

A few of those paragons of longevity called it a career in 2006, most notably Gary LaPierre, who came to Boston's WBZ in 1964 as a 22-year-old kid from Shelburne Falls and retired at the end of the year as the city's icon of radio news. Governor Mitt Romney declared December 29 "Gary LaPierre Day" in Massachusetts, and everyone in town turned out to pack the newsroom for LaPierre's tearful farewell, after which he received a hero's salute as he walked down the long corridor out of the building for the last time.

But there were other veterans whose retirement was worthy of note in 2006, too. In Elmira, Carl Proper's career at WSYE-TV (now WETM, Channel 18) began in 1958, when the station itself had just signed on. He left for a few years, but returned in 1966 and remained at the anchor desk until August, when he went into semi-retirement as a goodwill ambassador for the station.

In Montreal, Bill Haugland put in an amazing 46 years at CFCF radio and television, spending most of it commuting across the border from northern Vermont until his December retirement as CFCF-TV's evening news anchor.

New York's WQXR said goodbye to two veterans - afternoon announcer Lloyd Moss, who'd started at the station way back in 1955, with several detours before his 1989 return as afternoon host, and newsman Sam Hall, whose career included most of the important stations in New York.

And Dick Johnson put in 40 years of service at the newsroom of WGAN in Portland, too; sadly, he suffered a heart attack early in 2006 and died in May. The station later named its newsroom after Johnson, a fitting tribute.

4. WCRB makes its move (and what does that have to do with the Red Sox?)

A running theme in NERW all year long (and even more so on the message boards) was a pair of intertwined radio soap operas: the sale of Boston's classical station, WCRB, and the battle for radio rights in 2007 (and beyond) for the Red Sox.

The Sox, first: On the strength of their 2004 World Series victory, and with a big payroll to finance, the Olde Towne Team went into negotiations for its next radio contract looking for a big payoff. Once the team dropped its plans (if they ever really existed) to buy its own radio station, the fight for Sox rights quickly came down to two players: incumbent Entercom and Greater Media, which at one point offered the Sox partial ownership of WBOS, which would likely have become an FM sports talker had it secured the rights.

But as the price kept rising, Greater Media dropped out, leaving Entercom to strike a 10-year deal initially reported as $200 million, though it's likely to end up closer to $120-130 million. The deal came with a twist none of us rumor-mongers foresaw: most of the games will move from current flagship WEEI to talker WRKO, in an attempt to give the weaker of Entercom's two Boston AM properties a ratings boost.

So why did Greater Media walk away from the table? Turns out it had another big deal on its plate: a complex deal in which Greater acquired WCRB from Charles River Broadcasting, kept its 102.5 signal at the center of the market, but traded WCRB's classical format and Greater Media's 99.5 Lowell signal to Nassau, in exchange for Nassau's Philadelphia FM move-in, WTHK (97.5), about which more in a moment.

When all the dust had settled in December, Greater Media ended up with a cluster of five full-market FMs, with WKLB's country format moving from 99.5 to WCRB's old 102.5 spot. Classical survived under Nassau's ownership, moving north of Boston on 99.5 and bringing a new owner into the market.

5. Tough year for talkers

After the publicity blitz for Howard Stern's new gig on - where was it he went again? - dissipated, many of his former affiliates, including 92.3 in New York (late WXRK, now WFNY-FM) and WYSP in Philadelphia, rebranded as "Free FM," with an all-day lineup of local and syndicated talk. It was a tough sell; heavily-touted morning man David Lee Roth imploded, drifting off into lengthy stories about old-time New York entertainment before CBS pulled the plug on his show in April.

That, in turn, opened a door for Opie and Anthony to make a return to terrestrial radio, simulcasting part of their XM show each morning, and reigniting their long-running feud with Boston mayor Tom Menino.

The rest of the Free FM lineup struggled, with more changes coming (at least at WFNY-FM) in 2007 courtesy of new PD John Mainelli, who, ironically enough, became available for the job after losing his gig with the New York Post thanks to a complaint from...yep, Howard Stern.

Stern's midwestern replacement, Rover, struggled as well, losing most of his affiliates by year's end, but hanging on (we were going to say "doggedly," but those puns are reserved for our western colleagues at Ohio Media Watch) at Rochester's WZNE and at several Ohio stations.

Old-line talk radio had plenty of issues during 2006, too. In Pittsburgh, KDKA kicked off the year by dismissing several talkers, including Mike Pintek and Mike Romigh. (Late-night replacement John McIntire would himself be ousted at year's end.) Boston's Jay Severin made a well-publicized return to afternoons on WTKK (96.9) after the cancellation of his nightly syndicated show, a move he denied was based on poor ratings and station clearances. Across town at WRKO, midmorning host John DePetro was suspended in July, then fired in November, for his choice of nicknames for Turnpike Authority chairman Matt Amorello and gubernatorial candidate Grace Ross; he'd surface again at the end of the year doing holiday fill-in at WABC.

And progressive talk had a difficult year, with Air America losing its Boston affiliate (WKOX/WXKS), as well as its New York flagship (WLIB) and its Buffalo (WHLD) and Binghamton (WYOS) outlets. The network remained on the air in New York via a new deal with lesser-signaled WWRL, and struggled through bankruptcy proceedings.

6. What in the world is a "CW"?

At the start of 2006, viewers were finally getting used to the two new "weblets" on their TV dials - The WB and UPN. Nine months later, those networks were gone, with most of their programming merged into the new "CW" network, a joint venture of Time Warner and CBS. (That logo, hastily prepared for the network's introduction, was quickly jettisoned; to the surprise of many, the "CW" name remained.)

The emergence of The CW triggered a round of affiliation shuffles around the region, with many markets' WB affiliates (including New York, Boston, Hartford, Albany and Rochester) and a few others' UPN affiliates (including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Syracuse and Buffalo) segueing smoothly to the new network.

But for many other stations, including the Fox-owned group of UPN stations in New York and other big markets, the shift created a void for a new network, which Fox filled with "My Network TV," whose initial lineup of two hour-long telenovelas fell flat with viewers. At year's end, Fox was looking at retooling the My lineup to more closely resemble a traditional network.

The weblet shuffle created several new DTV subchannels - CW in Rochester, for instance - and a few new independent stations, most notably WSBK in Boston, which went from UPN to a prime-time lineup that includes Dr. Phil, Jeopardy! and a new 9:30 PM newscast produced by sister station WBZ-TV.

7. Will the last Canadian AM shut off the lights on the way out?

A generation ago, nobody could have predicted (at least with a straight face) that an entire Canadian province would end up with not a single full-power AM station. But as the CRTC encouraged AM broadcasters outside the largest cities to move to the FM dial, the stations of Prince Edward Island moved en masse. PEI began the year with two big AM signals - CFCY on 630 and CHTN on 720 - and ended the year with none, as both stations moved to FM, with CHTN adding a second new FM service.

Other high-profile moves from AM to FM in 2006 included CHNS in Halifax, CHUC in Cobourg, Ontario, and the grant of a full-time FM signal to Canada's last daytimer, CKOT (1510) in Tillsonburg, Ontario, which will also keep its AM signal for wide-area coverage.

The last English-language AM in Quebec outside Montreal, CKTS in Sherbrooke, surrendered its license in December, just as the CRTC approved a series of AM-to-FM moves that will wipe out French-language AM in Gatineau/Ottawa, Trois-Rivieres, Sherbrooke and Saguenay sometime in 2007.

8. Philly phollies

Radio listeners in Philadelphia experienced more change than usual in 2006, including the launch of a new(ish) signal into the market. Clear Channel started the ball rolling in August when it pulled the plug on smooth jazz WJJZ (106.1) and soft AC "Sunny" WSNI (104.5), flipping the former to rhythmic AC as "Philly's 106.1" WISX and the latter to Spanish tropical "Rumba" WUBA, giving the market its first full-coverage Spanish-language FM.

Greater Media took the next step, acquiring the former WPST Trenton (97.5) from Nassau as part of the WCRB deal up in Boston. While the 97.5 transmitter, now licensed to Burlington, N.J., won't move into Philadelphia (actually the Wyndmoor tower that's home to 106.1) until sometime in 2007, Greater Media took control of the station November 15, dropping Nassau's classic rock "Hawk" format and flipping to smooth jazz, restoring the WJJZ calls and much of that station's former staff.

Fans of the old modern rock "Y-100" got part of their old station back, as public radio WXPN launched "Y Rock on XPN," including a fulltime webcast and a few hours a week of modern rock on WXPN's main over-the-air signal. The market also saw the launch of "Free FM" talk on WYSP (94.1), the end of Air America talk on WHAT (1340), and the emergence of an AM modern rocker in the suburbs, WCHE (1520 West Chester).

There's more to come in 2007: Beasley, which already has two FMs (WXTU and WRDW) and one AM in the market, agreed to pay NextMedia $42 million for WJBR (99.5) just across the state line in Wilmington, Delaware, sparking talk of another move-in.

9. HD Radio stays stalled

The year got off to a decent start for HD Radio, as several big group operators committed to coordinated launches of multiple HD FM subchannels in each market. By the end of the year, all the large markets and most of the medium-sized markets in the region offered at least a few HD2 choices for early adopters to tune in.

But while that end of the chicken/egg conundrum was being dealt with, the receiver part of the equation continued to lag. Releases of several promised HD Radio receivers, including Radiosophy's long-delayed tuner, were repeatedly postponed, and at the end of 2006 an HD Radio receiver was nearly as hard to find as it was at the start of the year. (One bright spot: Radio Shack put its receiver on the market at $99 during the holidays, but even better-than-expected sales of that unit were barely a rounding error compared to all the iPods, satellite radio receivers, and other radio-like devices that were hits in 2006.)

10. Fessenden Mania Grips Hub

If 2005 was the year of Edwin Howard Armstrong for radio-history buffs in the region, 2006 was unquestionably the year of Reginald Aubrey Fessenden.

Brant Rock in Marshfield, Massachusetts, where Fessenden made his historic first broadcasts of voice and music in 1906 (unless he didn't, as some researchers argued), was the center of activity, with a weekend celebration in August that included the presentation of the "Reginald A. Fessenden Award" to WBZ's Gary LaPierre, an historical seminar in October (at which your editor was honored to be a participant), and a recreation of the 1906 broadcast in December.

There were also events in Pittsburgh, where Fessenden was a university professor, and in Canada, Fessenden's birthplace, as well as at the other end of his trans-Atlantic signal path at Machrihanish, Scotland - and that was just the broadcasters! Ham radio operators had their own celebrations going, too, with re-creations of Fessenden's earliest transmissions across the Atlantic.

The Year in Station Sales

JANUARY: EMF Broadcasting continues its march into the region with the $700,000 purchase of UMass Dartmouth's WSMU (91.1) and the $2.3 million deal with 2510 for WKVB (107.9 Port Matilda PA) and WLKJ (105.7 Portage PA). Renda Communications bulks up east of Pittsburgh, buying WJJJ (107.1 Greensburg) from Sheridan. Joe Reilly's Columbia FM buys WKAB (103.5 Berwick) from 4M for $800,000.

FEBRUARY: The big deal - still unconsummated almost a year later - is Citadel's acquisition of ABC Radio, to the tune of $2.7 billion. A world away, Radigan Broadcasting pays Tioga Broadcasting $50,000 for WEBO (1330 Owego NY) and Biscuit Communications buys WSPQ (1330 Springville) from Hawk Communications for $110,000. In Scranton, Holy Family adds a second AM, buying WITK (1550 Pittston) from Robert Cordaro for $940,000. Down the Susquehanna in Millersburg, Hepco Communications picks up WQLV (98.9) from Cooper Communications, for $2 million. Other seven-figure deals: Entercom pays Vox $5.75 million for WBEC-FM (105.5 Pittsfield)'s license, to be moved into Springfield; Connoisseur Broadcasting enters Erie with the $17.35 million purchase of NextMedia's five stations; and Jay Asher announces the $4.5 million sale of WJDA (1300 Quincy MA) and WESX (1230 Salem MA), to Principal Broadcasting.

MARCH: Raycom exits Syracuse, and several other markets, selling WSTM/WSTQ to Barrington as part of a $262 million deal. Chuck Crouse exits Kane, Pennsylvania, selling WLMI (103.9) to Colonial Radio Group for $390,000. Absolute Broadcasting moves north from Nashua to enter Manchester with the purchase of WKBR (1250) from Steve Silberberg, who buys WVAA (1390) in Burlington, Vermont. Living Proof sells WWTE (90.1 Wellfleet MA) to Horizon Christian Fellowship.

APRIL: Catholic broadcaster Starboard agrees to pay $14 million for Stu Henry's WLIE (540 Islip NY), in a deal that ends unconsummated. Business Talk Radio Network, which is programming WLIE, buys WBET (1460 Brockton MA) from Aritaur for $1 million. In Plattsburgh, WBTZ (99.9) changes hands from Plattsburgh Broadcasting to Hall Communications. And WJAR (Channel 10) in Providence is part of a four-station sale from NBC to Media General, for a total of $600 million.

MAY: Clear Channel announces a trade that will eventually see Pamal getting WBPM/WGHQ in Kingston NY and WZRT/WSYB in Rutland VT, in exchange for WRNX (100.9) in the Springfield MA market. William and Kelli Corbeil buy WTSA/WTSA-FM in Brattleboro from Tri-State Broadcasting. Scribe Video Center buys little WPEB (88.1 Philadelphia) from the West Philadelphia Educational Broadcasting Foundation for $70,000. And Rick Kelly, of fame, buys W231AK (94.1) in Great Barrington from Vox, for $12,500.

JUNE: Tribune begins its slimming-down in the region, selling WCWN (Channel 45) in the Albany market to Freedom Communications for $17 million. Up the road, Vox sells WNYQ (105.7) to Regent for $4.9 million, as it prepares to move from the Glens Falls market into Albany. Pamal signs a $625,000 deal to sell WJAN (95.1 Sunderland VT) to Vermont Public Radio. And up north, Moses Znaimer stays in the game, paying C$12 million to Trumar Communications for Toronto classical station CFMX.

JULY: The big money stays up north, as Bell Globemedia swallows CHUM Limited in a deal valued at C$1.7 billion, creating powerful TV duopoly/radio clusters in Toronto, Ottawa and other big markets. On the border, Clancy-Mance sells all but one of its Watertown/North Country stations to the new Community Broadcasters LLC (headed by longtime broadcasters Jim Leven and Bruce Mittman) for $5.5 million. And south of the border, Nexstar picks up WTAJ (Channel 10) in Altoona and WLYH (Channel 15) in Lebanon PA, for $58 million.

AUGUST: The gradual CBS Radio exit from smaller markets finds Entercom paying $262 million for the CBS clusters in Rochester, Memphis, Austin and Cincinnati. Entercom also shells out $30 million to Radio One for WILD-FM (97.7 Brockton), which becomes Boston-market WKAF, a simulcast of WAAF's hard rock. Greater Media, Nassau and Charles River sign the paperwork on their three-way deal in Boston and Philadelphia. EMF Broadcasting is back in the mix, paying Broadcast Learning Center $2.5 million for Philly-market WSJI (89.5 Cherry Hill NJ) and Southern Rhode Island Public Broadcasting $100,000 for WKIV (88.1 Westerly RI).

SEPTEMBER: The CBS spinoffs continue, with Regent ponying up $125 million for the five-station cluster in Buffalo. Ed Ansin opens his wallet for Tribune, paying $113 million to bring WLVI (Channel 56) under the same roof as his WHDH-TV in Boston. WCRI and WCNX in southern Rhode Island stay in the Jones family, as son Christopher Jones' Judson Group pays Charles River Broadcasting $1.6 million for those two signals. Out on Cape Cod, Truro Wireless sells little WCDJ (102.3 Truro) to Dunes 102 FM, for $550,000.

OCTOBER: Arthur Liu's Multicultural group enters the TV arena, paying $170 million for the Shop At Home stations, including WSAH in Connecticut and WMFP in Boston. Beasley adds to its holdings in the Philadelphia area, paying $42 million for NextMedia's WJBR (99.5) in Wilmington, Delaware. First Media bulks up along I-80 in western Pennsylvania, paying Clearfield Broadcasters $750,000 for WCPA/WQYX in Clearfield. EMF keeps buying, paying Sound of Life $675,000 for Scranton-market WPGP (88.3 Tafton). Up north, Genex escapes complete license revocation at CHOI (98.1) in Quebec, selling the station's assets to Radio Nord for C$9 million, while CanWest Global exits radio, selling CKBT (91.5 Kitchener) and a Winnipeg station to Corus for C$15 million.

NOVEMBER: Clear Channel's $26 billion deal to go private eclipses everything else - but down there in the shadows, Inner City Broadcasting sells WHAT (1340 Philadelphia) to Marconi Broadcasting for $5 million, Saga buys Citadel's WIII/WKRT Cortland for $4 million (and then turns around and donates WKRT to Bible Broadcasting Network), Chadwick Bay Broadcasting sells WDOE/WBKX in Dunkirk, N.Y. to Finger Lakes Radio for $850,000, and Don DeRosa sells WAMF (1300 Fulton NY) to Cram Communications for $8500.

DECEMBER: Bold Gold adds to its Scranton-area AM cluster with a $10,000 purchase of Kevin Fennessy's WFBS (1280 Berwick). And at month's end, Business Talk Radio Network announces it's buying the three-station cluster on Long Island's East End (WBON, WDRE and WLIR) from The Morey Organization.

The Year in Programming, People and Calls

JANUARY: First format change of the year - it's in Albany, where Galaxy flips country "Eagle" WEGQ 93.7 and rock WRCZ to rock simulcast "Bone," as WOOB/WBOE. Close behind, WQFM/WQFN in Scranton goes hot AC as "Q-FM," and WECK in Buffalo dumps standards for classic country. Up in Sudbury, Ontario, CHNO drops hits "Z103" for adult hits "Big Daddy."

In western Pennsylvania, WJJJ (107.1 Greensburg) flips to adult hits as "Sam FM," WGSM, while sister WLCY, "Lucky 106," drops AC for "Cat Country."

In Boston, Eddie Andelman finds a new radio home at Greater Media's WTKK, while the WAVM saga in Maynard takes a troubling turn, as station advisor Joe Magno is arrested and charged with molesting students.

Oswego's public radio WRVO moves into brand new studios, and the newsroom at Pittsburgh's WPGH goes dark as the station farms out news to competitor WPXI.

New to the air: CILV Ottawa, "Live 88.5" (Dec. 26, 2005). Gone for good: WLNY (Channel 55)'s analog signal on Long Island, and WSAJ (1340 Grove City PA), which shuts down its AM facility after more than 80 years.

FEBRUARY: The month starts with a jolt to oldies fans, as Entercom flips Buffalo's WWKB from oldies to liberal talk, followed a week later by more progressive talk in town on leased-time WHLD (1270).

In Albany, Pamal flips WZMR (104.9) to modern rock as "The Edge;" in Scranton, WARM flips from talk to oldies, while WBZR (107.7) drops "The Buzzard" to go AC as "Gem," WGMF.

Ellis Hennican and Lynne White are the new afternoon team in Bob Grant's old afternoon slot at WOR in New York. In Boston, a tumultuous year at WRKO begins with the quick departure of PD Brian Whittemore after just a few months on the job. Former WBUR host Dick Gordon surfaces in North Carolina, launching a new public radio talk show from WUNC.

EMF changes the calls at WWJS in Watertown to WKWV, and the dial in State College keeps spinning, as WXOT (99.5 Centre Hall) becomes WLTS and moves into State College, picking up the "Lite AC" format from 94.5, which becomes smooth jazz WSMO, for a few months.

In Rochester, veteran WHAM-TV station manager Kent Beckwith announces his retirement.

New to the air: WWFP in New Jersey, CJWL Ottawa (Feb. 20, at 10 AM.)

MARCH: More spinning of the dial in central Pennsylvania, as "Rocky" WRKW 92.1 and "Hot" WYOT 99.1 trade dial positions and calls.

In Boston, the news is all about the Red Sox - not spring training, but radio rights for 2007, as a bidding war erupts between Entercom and Greater Media. Entercom has other problems in New York, where attorney general Eliot Spitzer launches a payola probe. The WMJQ calls disappear again from Rochester, as K-Love changes its Brockport 104.9 to WKUV (and then, later in the summer, to WKDL.)

In Portland, WMGX moves to hot AC as "Coast 93.1."

"Frank" is the name in the news, as Nassau installs variety hits on WDVT/WTWV on Cape Cod, renamed WFQR and WFRQ, while the former WBYN-FM in eastern Pennsylvania goes classic rock as WFKB, with WBYN's religion moving to 1160, the former WYNS. Up the road in Allentown, public radio WDIY takes over operations at college station WXLV.

In Stamford, Connecticut, oldies WKHL becomes AC "Coast" WCTZ, while in the Catskills, WVOS flips from AC to country and WZAD (97.3 Wurtsboro) becomes a country simulcast of WKXP (94.3 Kingston). On the Jersey Shore, WJSE migrates from modern rock "Digital 102.7" to active rock as "The Ace" - and WUSS (1490) takes new calls WTKU.

New to the air: religious WLGY (90.7 Nanty Glo PA) and WSMA (90.5 Scituate MA), CIHR (104.7 Woodstock ON).

APRIL: Providence's WBRU pulls an April Fool stunt for the ages, staging a sale of the station, a relaunch as "Buddy FM," and a daring retaking of the station by its modern rock staff.

It's no April Fool joke when David Lee Roth's short-lived morning show is pulled from CBS Radio, soon to be replaced by Opie and Anthony in a simulcast with satellite radio.

Dick Ferguson announces his retirement from Cox Radio after a long run, while the company's WEFX (95.9 Norwalk CT) takes the WFOX calls abandoned in Atlanta.

New sports stations all over the place include WICK/WYCK in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and WPSN in Honesdale, simulcasting as "The Game," and another "Game," WSNH in Nashua, which becomes WGAM.

In western Massachusetts, WBEC-FM moves "Live 105.5" to "Live 95.9" in preparation for the 105.5 signal's move east to Springfield. WUPE on 95.9 moves to the former WMNB (100.1 North Adams) and WUHN (1110 Pittsfield).

In eastern Massachusetts, WAVM and Living Proof reach a settlement that brings their years of legal wrangling to an end, with more power for both the Maynard High School station and Living Proof's new religious outlet.

In Vermont, a federal judge rules against the now-silent Radio Free Brattleboro.

On Long Island's East End, WHBE moves from 96.7 to 96.9 and drops Bloomberg business news to simulcast sister station WEHM (92.9), changing calls to WEHN.

WSNN/WPDM up north in Potsdam flip from AC to country; WBKK in Amsterdam drops its classical simulcast of WMHT-FM for a separate, younger-targeted classical format.

And on TV, WCWB (Channel 22) in Pittsburgh wastes no time getting "CW" out of its calls, becoming WPMY.

Gone, pending appeal of the FCC's expanded-band rules: WHWH (1350 Princeton NJ), on April 7.

MAY: Decades of community-centered broadcasting come to an end May 1, as Jay Asher hands WESX (1230 Salem) and WJDA (1300 Quincy) off to Otto Miller, who shutters both stations's studios and launches a new format of leased-time Spanish religion from new studios in Chelsea.

Entercom retains the Red Sox, at a price somewhere close to $200 million - and it gets some new talk competition in MetroWest, as WCRN (830 Worcester) drops "True Oldies" for "True Talk." (It will later sign on as a 2007 Red Sox affiliate, helping to fill a signal gap created by the Sox' move from WEEI to WRKO in Boston.) Across town, WFNX announces it will go commercial-free for the summer, with sponsorship from Snapple.

In the Bronx, WFUV (90.7) quietly dismantles its controversial (and now unneeded) new tower overlooking the botanical garden, while in Atlantic City, a fire at the transmitter not-so-quietly damages WOND/WTKU/WMGM.

"Toucher and Rich" move north to take afternoons at Boston's WBCN, while "Star" moves out of the morning slot at New York's WWPR after a series of on-air threats against a rival DJ.

In Fredonia, WBKX (96.5) stays "Kix" as it goes from rock to country; in New Brunswick, CFHA drops comedy for "the Pirate," mixing urban and rock as CJEF; and in Pittsfield, WBEC-FM goes silent on 105.5.

More new calls: WWTE (90.1 Wellfleet) becomes WRYP.

JUNE: Bill Lee's out at New York's WKTU, as Whoopi Goldberg and Cubby Bryant (late of Z100) arrive in mornings, eventually moving former morning guy Goumba Johnny and ex-morning man Hollywood Hamilton into afternoons to replace Lee.

Over at Seton Hall University's WSOU, former station manager Michael Collazo is arrested, charged with creating a shell company to deprive the station of revenue from subcarrier leases. (He'd plead guilty in July.)

Down on the Jersey Shore, WKOE (106.3) moved up the dial and up the coast, becoming WBBO on 106.5 with "G Rock Radio," while former G Rock simulcast WBBO (98.5 Ocean Acres) went country in July as WKMK.

In Rochester, the WVOR calls departed 100.5 after more than 40 years, as the station dropped "Mix" for hot AC "Drive," becoming WDVI. (The WVOR calls moved to sister station WISY 102.3.)

More State College shuffling: so long, "Buzz" WUBZ (105.9 Phillipsburg), and hello to adult hits "Joe FM" WJOW. Meanwhile in Scranton, WNAK-FM (94.3 Carbondale) dropped its standards simulcast for soft AC as "Lite" WLNP. And in Salamanca, N.Y., WQRS (98.3) becomes WQRT, while sister WGGO flips from standards to ESPN sports.

New to the air: WUMD (89.3 Dartmouth MA) June 9, replacing WSMU on 91.1, which flips to K-Love as WTKL in July.

JULY: It's CBS Radio doing the cutting this time, as WCBS-FM general manager Chad Brown and programming president Rob Barnett lose their jobs. Meanwhile, CBS places Opie and Anthony on a new affiliate - WEDG in Buffalo, where longtime morning team Shredd and Ragan are displaced to afternoons.

At New York's WQXR, veteran newsman Sam Hall leaves the airwaves; down the coast in Atlantic City, Harry Hurley leaves his longtime morning gig on WENJ (1450, ex-WFPG, then WKXW) and ends up down the dial at WIBG (1020 Ocean City). In a related move, WIXM (97.3 Millville) takes new calls WXKW, better matching its simulcast of "New Jersey 101.5" WKXW.

Still more shuffling in and around State College: WJHT (Hot 103.1) changes calls to WQKK and then WQWK, moving "Quick Rock" up the dial from 98.7, which flips from WQWK to WSGY as "Froggy Country," taking those calls from 106.3 Mount Union PA, which becomes WFZY. The WJHT calls, meanwhile, go to 92.1 in Johnstown, replacing WYOT on "Hot" there.

In Erie, country WUSE stays with the format but becomes "Wolf" WTWF. In Berwick, WKAB becomes WHLM-FM, sticking with classic rock. Down on the Maryland line, WPPT (92.1) flips from top 40 to classic country. On TV, Williamsport's WILF (Channel 53) becomes WQMY. And in Philadelphia, "Y Rock" returns to the airwaves for a few hours a week on WXPN (88.5), as well as on a webcast based there.

The ethnic and religious broadcasters leasing time on WRIB (1220 Providence) are abruptly locked out as the station changes owners; it goes silent, returning September 5 as religious WSTL.

In Syracuse, WWDG (105.1) puts "The Dog" to sleep, trading active rock for modern AC as "Nova." In Plattsburgh, WXLU moves from 88.3 to 88.1, boosting power.

Canada's Aboriginal Voices Network takes new calls CKAV to replace CFIE at its Toronto flagship; out in Halifax, CJCH (920) flips from standards to oldies to fill the void created when CHNS (960) leaves the air July 19, replaced by the new CHNS-FM (89.9), doing variety hits as "Hal FM."

Also new to the air: CFXN (106.3 North Bay), doing "Moose" classic rock; CHTN-FM (100.3 Charlottetown), on July 5, followed by new sister station CKQK (105.5 Charlottetown PEI), at noon July 26.

AUGUST: Ed Walsh is ousted from morning drive at New York's WOR, which turns out to be a stroke of luck - he moves over to WCBS (880) to do some anchoring, putting him on a path that will make him the new morning man at Boston's WBZ at year's end, replacing Gary LaPierre after four decades on the job.

CKDO in Oshawa, Ontario moves its oldies from 1350 to 1580, boosting power in the process.

In Burlington and Plattsburgh, Air America trades places with ESPN sports, with progressive talk moving to daytimer WTWK (1070) and sports going to full-time WVAA (1390), with new calls WCAT.

Elmira's Carl Proper retires from WETM (Channel 18) after 40 years at the anchor desk.

New to the air: CIIO (104.7 Ottawa); CHUC-FM (107.9 Cobourg ON), at 1 PM on August 11; WFYL (1180 King of Prussia), on a golf course in suburban Philadelphia, replacing the old 1530 McConnellsburg.

SEPTEMBER: The crowd waiting for the old WOR towers to come down September 20 is disappointed, as a local police chief puts a halt to the well-publicized demolition. After much negotiation, take two is scheduled for January 11, 2007.

Another set of towers comes down with no publicity: the old WHIC (1460 Rochester) towers meet their end September 10. Meanwhile over at Clear Channel, modern rock "Nerve" disappears from WNVE (107.3 South Bristol), replaced by an unusual car-dealer sponsored stunt as "Huge FM," then by rhythmic AC and Whoopi as "Snap," WSNP.

After months upon months of rumors, WLIB (1190 New York) finally breaks with Air America, sending the network to a weaker signal on WWRL (1600) and putting black gospel on the air at 1190. Black gospel also replaces oldies at WKAP (1470 Allentown), which becomes WYHM, and at WRAW (1340 Reading), which becomes WKAP.

Another "Frank" lands in Nassau-land, as WORK (107.1 Barre VT) drops top 40 for classic hits. A Boston rock jock lands in Iraq, as WAAF's Mistress Carrie heads to Baghdad to broadcast to - and with - the troops.

Still more spinning in State College - after just a few months as smooth jazz WSMO, 94.5 takes the old 103.1 calls of WBHV, becoming "B94" with hits. The WSMO calls go to the former WBHV (1330 Somerset), which drops southern gospel in November for ESPN sports.

Albany morning team "Chuck and Kelly" move from WYJB (95.5) to Regent's "Buzz", which prepares to move from WABT 104.5 to the former WNYQ 105.7, which takes new calls WBZZ as it moves south to Malta, signing on at the end of November. The WNYQ calls stay in Glens Falls, moving to the former WENU-FM 101.7, which has a brief interlude as WQYQ along the way.

In Vermont, WWWT (1320 Randolph) changes calls to WTSJ, simulcasting talker WTSL from the Upper Valley instead of WSYB from Rutland.

And in Syracuse, the drunk driver who killed young WSYR reporter Bill Leaf in January is sentenced to 12 years behind bars.

New to the air: CFCY-FM (95.1 Charlottetown PEI); WVEW-LP (107.7 Brattleboro VT).

OCTOBER: Jay Severin exits national syndication and returns to afternoons on WTKK (96.9 Boston), displacing Michael Graham to nights. Down the road in Springfield, WEEI's sports programming makes its debut Oct. 26 on the new WVEI-FM (105.5), newly relocated from Pittsfield. And Fitchburg's WEIM (1280) becomes "The Blend," mixing talk with AC.

In Pennsylvania, WCHE (1520 West Chester) flips to modern rock, while WFRM-FM (96.7 Coudersport) flips from AC to adult hits "Sam FM." And oldies WYTR (103.3 Brookville) parks the WMUV calls so a sister station in Florida can become "Movin," then takes the WKQL calls abandoned down in Jacksonville.

In Syracuse, WBGJ (100.3 Sylvan Beach) becomes WWLF-FM, setting the stage for it and sister station WOLF-FM (96.7 Oswego) to make a December flip to "Movin" rhythmic AC themselves. Radio Disney stays in Oswego via WAMF (1300 Fulton), which returns to the air.

NOVEMBER: John DePetro's mouth - or is it his low ratings - finally becomes too much for Entercom, which pulls the plug on the mid-morning WRKO talk host after he calls a gubernatorial candidate a "fat lesbian."

WRTN (93.5 New Rochelle) takes on the historic calls WVIP, while WVIP (1310 Mount Kisco) becomes WRVP. Across the state line in Connecticut, WKZE (1020 Sharon) becomes community outlet WHDD ("Robin Hood Radio.")

The WJJZ calls, displaced from Philadelphia in August's Clear Channel shuffles there, land at Greater Media's WWTR (1170 Bridgewater NJ), a staging area for their transfer to the former WTHK (97.5 Burlington NJ) on Nov. 15. The WTHK calls, in turn, land up in Vermont at WVAY (100.7 Wilmington). And the former Philly calls of WSNI land at WOQL (97.7 Winchendon MA), which goes all-Christmas, then flips to soft AC as "Sunny" after the holidays.

Speaking of all-Christmas, the region gets its first all-country Christmas station, as WFKP (99.3 Ellenville NY) ditches "Lite" AC for an eventual simulcast (under new calls WRWC) of country WRWD-FM (107.3 Highland). WRWD (1370 Ellenville) flips to standards WELG as a result.

In Binghamton, WYOS (1360) drops progressive talk for ESPN sports.

And in Montreal, CFCF-TV (Channel 12) anchor Bill Haugland retires after an amazing 46 years with the station.

Gone from the dial: CKTS (900 Sherbrooke QC), on Nov. 19, and CHNS (960 Halifax NS), moved to FM.

DECEMBER: Progressive talk takes several hits, as Boston's WKOX/WXKS flip to "Rumba" Spanish tropical on December 1, while Buffalo's WHLD folds its tent abruptly, flipping to black gospel.

The sale of WLVI (Channel 56) to WHDH puts most of the station's 150 employees out of work just before the holidays, with veteran WLVI anchor Jack Hynes summing up the mood in a bitter commentary on WLVI's last Tribune-produced newscast Dec. 18.

"Buzz" completes its Albany move to WBZZ (105.7 Malta), with WABT on 104.5 flipping to sports as WTMM-FM. WBET (1460 Brockton MA) tries for the WBZB calls, only to be shot down by a certain other station that starts with "WBZ" - it ends up as "WXBR" instead. WPGP (88.3 Tafton PA) becomes WLKA under new owner EMF, while across the state WLOA (1470 Farrell) and WGRP (940 Greenville) flip from oldies to Sporting News Radio.

At WGBH, Henry Becton announces his retirement as the station prepares to move to new quarters.

New to the air: WXNM-LP (95.9 Erie PA); CJHR (98.7 Renfrew ON).

And as we do every year, we close out our Year in Review by remembering the many great radio and TV people our region lost in 2006.

In Memoriam

  • THOM HICKLING, former WPLW Carnegie PA general manager, 51, 12/27/05
  • BERNARD HURWITZ ("Beryl Howard"), New Haven Jewish Variety Hour host, 80, 1/2
  • BILL LEAF, WSYR Syracuse reporter, 25, 1/8
  • FRANK FIXARIS, Portland sportscaster, 71, 1/13
  • ROBERT POSEY, Berkshires newsman, 62, 1/29
  • RON KEYS, WJPA Washington PA jock, 39, 2/1
  • "Grandpa" AL LEWIS, WBAI New York host, actor, political gadfly, 82 (or 95?), 2/3
  • ALEXANDER "Sandy" McDONALD Jr, WEEI, WTSN host, 68, 2/6
  • BILL EDWARDSEN, veteran Albany jock, 78, 2/6
  • DICK BUONERBA, WNLK/WMMM manager, 82, 2/12
  • DAVE CINIERO, RI native and KVTA (Ventura CA) host, 58, 2/17
  • CURT GOWDY, longtime Sox voice, WCGY/WCCM owner, 86, 2/20
  • JACK LAZARE, WMMW owner, Boston/NY jock, 83, 2/25
  • JIM CLOTHEY, WLTN Littleton NH newsman, 60, 3/1
  • ELIZABETH KILHAM, "Betty Day" on WBZ, WHET, WKOX, 81, 3/4
  • LYLE ROBERT EVANS, WRMO Milbridge ME owner, 64, 3/6
  • ROBERT SCHUMACHER, Syracuse sales executive, 48, 3/16
  • BILL BEUTEL, legendary New York TV newsman, 75, 3/18
  • BRUCE McGORRILL, Maine Broadcasting chairman, commentator, 74, 3/28
  • JUANITA McKNIGHT, CFRK Fredericton NB middays, 3/30
  • DAVID WESLEY SHALLENBARGER, longtime WWSW Pittsburgh DJ, 82, 4/4
  • DAVE LOCKHART, CKCW Moncton newsman, 67, 4/11
  • PAT MARSDEN, Toronto sportscaster, 69, 4/27
  • JOE GREEN, WBZ traffic reporter, 76, 5/3
  • AL WHITE, WOKR Rochester, WWOR New York consumer reporter, 68, 5/9
  • TOM "TJ" JOSEPH, WHCU Ithaca operations director, 63, 5/14
  • CARL WEHDE, "Long John Wade" on WFIL, WIBG, 5/15
  • DICK JOHNSON, WGAN Portland newsman, 69, 5/24
  • JOHN "JD" DALE, CFNY, CHAY jock, 54, 5/26
  • MALCOLM SOLL, "Austin of Boston" on WLIR, WODS, WSRS, 56, 6/5
  • RODERICK MacLEISH, Westinghouse news executive, 80, 7/1
  • DAVE SENNETT, WHAM, WPRO host, 7/6
  • MAX COLE, WRVR New York DJ, Riverside Church radio host, 91, 7/16
  • DARRELL MARTINIE, "Cosmic Muffin" radio astrologer, 63, 7/26
  • JIM MENDES, WPRO/WJAR-TV announcer, 80, 7/28
  • VICTOR MAUCK, former WNAR Norristown PA owner, 78, 7/31
  • BILL PETERSON, WOKR Rochester meteorologist, 58, 8/5
  • MIKE DOUGLAS, TV host, KYW personality, 81, 8/11
  • TERRY McNULTY, WARM Scranton morning man, 70, 8/11
  • DON GARRARD ("Don Michael Girard"), former WAXC, WZZD jock, 53 (August)
  • DOUG WHITE, WPRI, WJAR anchor, 61, 8/15
  • DINO TORTU, Westwood One senior VP/production, 52, 8/16
  • DICKIE LYNCH, WPRI special projects coordinator, 52, 8/18
  • TONY MALARA, former CBS executive, station owner, 69, 8/24
  • HUGH CLINTON, former WCTX Palmyra PA owner, 76, 9/13
  • GABE DALMATH, veteran WHEC Rochester anchor, 60, 9/15
  • EDDIE DRISCOLL, Maine TV kids host, 81, 9/24
  • CHARLIE SLEZAK, Delaware engineer, 53, 10/1
  • ROGER GOODRICH, veteran Channel 5 Boston reporter, 89, 10/4
  • BOB LASSITER, Utica, Pittsburgh DJ, later at WFLA, WLS, 61, 10/13
  • LISTER SINCLAIR, CBC "Ideas" host, 85, 10/16
  • MIKE PHILLIPS, WXLO, WWDJ jock who moved out west, 64, 10/16
  • CHRISTOPHER GLENN, CBS Radio, "In the News" anchor, 68, 10/17
  • MARY GAY TAYLOR, WCBS reporter, 71, 10/20
  • HAROLD HACKER, WXXI Rochester founder, 90, 10/22
  • RED AUERBACH, legendary Celtics coach and commentator, 89, 10/28
  • ED BRADLEY, Philadelphia DJ turned CBS News legend, 65, 11/8
  • ROBERT TAYLOR, former WNEW PD, 11/22
  • CASEY COLEMAN, son of Ken, Cleveland sportscaster, 55, 11/27
  • ANDY KUHN, "Andy K," morning man at CFFX Kingston, 12/4
  • PAT LETANG, Montreal newsman, 46, 12/6
  • JACK O'NEILL, Springfield sportscaster, 58, 12/8
  • TOM GREGORY, WNEW-TV host and newsman, 79, 12/11
  • GEORGE BEAHON, Rochester sportscaster, 86, 12/11
  • NANCY DUFFY, Syracuse TV reporter, 12/22
  • CARLOS RIVERA, "Carl Blaze" on WWPR New York, 30, 12/23
  • FRANK STANTON, longtime CBS president, 98, 12/24

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