The Year in People, Formats and Calls (Part II)

By SCOTT FYBUSH

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It’s time once again for our Year in Review, the 22nd time we’ve gathered up our headlines from the previous 12 months and tried to sum it all up for you. Year in Review installments will appear daily all week, wrapping up on Thursday, December 31, so check back every day for a new installment! We’ll resume our regular NorthEast Radio Watch report on Monday, January 4, 2015, and Tower Site of the Week is back this Friday to ring in the New Year. (And in the meantime, our own Twitter and Facebook feeds and RadioInsight will be here with any breaking news!)

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We’ll count down the top ten biggest stories of the year starting in tomorrow’s installment, but first, as we do each year, we take a month-by-month run through the rest of the year’s headlines in people, formats and callsigns.

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JULY

WRCR1700A rare new arrival on the AM dial signed on in Rockland County, New York on July 13, when WRCR moved from 1300 in Spring Valley to a new Pomona-licensed 10,000-watt signal on 1700. The unusual addition to the expanded band was made possible by congressional intervention several years earlier, followed by an FCC auction won by WRCR owner Alexander Medakovich.

Townsquare made some moves at the edge of the Portland market, shifting WPKQ (103.7 North Conway NH) from a simulcast of seacoast-market WOKQ (97.5 Dover NH) to a standalone country signal as “103.7 Peak Country.” The longtime head of that Townsquare Portland cluster, Tim Moore, found a new gig on the Seacoast at the helm of the iHeartRadio cluster there.

In State College, the Southern Belle/Seven Mountains group flipped classic rock WEMR (98.7 the Eagle) to alternative as “The Freq,” WFEQ.

wcat983In Burlington, Steve Silberberg relaunched WCAT (1390) with oldies and a new FM translator at 98.3.

Rochester saw a morning shakeup at Entercom, as Terry Clifford moved to middays at WBEE (92.5), making room for TJ Sharp to join the “Bee Morning Coffee Club.” Down the hall, WBZA (98.9) stayed “Buzz” but segued from “All Kinds of Rock” to an anything-goes adult hits format.

In Syracuse, WOLF (1490) dropped a temporary oldies simulcast with its “Dinosaur” FM oldies sisters and became a Fox Sports outlet, a few weeks ahead of a big reunion that brought together alumni of WOLF and its longtime rival, WNDR (1260).

AUGUST

On the Boston sports scene, Glenn Ordway came back to WEEI (93.7) to do middays, a year and a half after departing afternoons to launch a streaming show. The slumping Red Sox announced a controversial change in the NESN broadcast booth, ousting the popular Don Orsillo in favor of Dave O’Brien, who’ll move from radio to TV in 2016.

Steve Silberberg’s Boston-rimshot WXRV (92.5 Andover) applied for five on-channel boosters in and around Boston, one of several nationwide tests of new booster systems that could go into use in 2016.

wnnh-newsIn New Hampshire, Binnie Media dropped “Frank” from Concord-market WNNH (99.1), using the frequency to launch “NH1 Newsradio” as a counterpart to its news service on WBIN-TV. In Keene, WYRY (104.9 Hinsdale) flipped to the syndicated Nash Icon classic country format.

In Hartford, iHeart’s WPOP (1410) dumped Fox Sports for a talk format closely mirroring the programming on sister station WELI (960) in New Haven.

New York’s WFUV (90.7) dropped the “Alternate Site” rock programming it had been running on an HD subchannel and for several daily hours on city-owned WNYE (91.5), giving its flagship AAA format more airtime instead.

Across the border, Montreal’s CKLX (91.9) dropped “Radio X” talk to become French-language sports as CFSI on August 31; the CKLX calls moved to Ottawa to replace CFTX on 96.5.

New: CJRU (1280 Toronto), from Ryerson University.

Gone: WUSP (1550 Utica)/WRCK (1480 Remsen) and their Utica 95.5 translator.

SEPTEMBER

wdas-popePope Francis’ visit to the US inspired two “micro-format” stations in Philadelphia: iHeart launched “Pope Info Radio” on WDAS (1480) and an HD subchannel, while CBS put the “Popecast” on one of its HD subchannels. Across town, cuts at public broadcaster WHYY claimed the job of news honcho Chris Satullo, putting into jeopardy some of his digital news initiatives there. Across the state, Pittsburgh’s WQED announced another big round of job cutbacks. Meanwhile in New England, public radio innovator Torey Malatia, late of WBEZ in Chicago, joined Rhode Island NPR as its new leader.

Several radio veterans announced retirements: in Buffalo, WGRF morning man Larry Norton surprised the market by saying he’d step down in December, while in Norwich, Connecticut, Mark Wayne retired after 31 years at WICH (1310).

wbix-buzzTwo more ex-Disney stations launched new formats: in Boston, Sept. 16 marked the start of Salem’s talk format at what’s now WBIX (1260), while in the Philadelphia market WWJZ (640) put Relevant Radio Catholic programming on the air just in time for the Papal visit Sept. 23.

On the New Hampshire seacoast, Coastal Broadcasting’s WTSN/WBYY joined forces with Port Broadcasting and Aruba Capital Holdings’ stations, creating a new cluster there to rival Townsquare and iHeart’s holdings.

On Long Island, Montauk’s WELJ (104.7) quietly shifted from Nash country to Nash Icon classic country.

North of the border, CKHZ (103.5 Halifax) flipped from “Energy” top 40 to “Hot Country” on Sept. 1; a day later, CKWV (96.7 Peterborough ON) dropped AC “Magic” for “Oldies 96.7.” In Hamilton, Bell launched TSN sports on CKOC (1150), replacing a long-running oldies format there.

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OCTOBER

wicu-erienewsnowTV news led off the month, including Lilly Broadcasting’s combination of its two Erie stations’ newscasts. Instead of running separately-produced shows opposite each other, NBC affiliate WICU (Channel 12) and CBS affiliate WSEE (Channel 35) joined up their branding as “Erie News Now.”

In Bangor, TEGNA (ex-Gannett) pulled the plug on its last separate local newscast at Bangor’s WLBZ (Channel 2); now all newscasts there come from the “News Center” in Portland at WCSH (Channel 6).

In sports news, the New York Islanders found a new flagship for their new Brooklyn home, but an odd one: their games ended up on city-owned WNYE (91.5) as part of a very varied schedule there. In Erie, the ERIE Radio Company launched ESPN Radio on WEHP (92.7)’s HD2, without any translator companion.

In Albany, WABY (900) went from standards to oldies (and Don Imus in the morning); in northern New Hampshire, WFTN (1240 Franklin)/WPNH (1300 Plymouth) dropped standards for oldies as “Oldies 92.9” on October 19, adding a new translator.

New: W248CG (97.5 Jersey City), testing its signal ahead of an auction that ended up being delayed; CIWN (88.7 Mount Forest ON), CBCL-1 (88.7 Tillsonburg ON).

Gone: WDIS (1170 Norfolk MA), deleted more than a year after it fell silent.

NOVEMBER

wabc-geraldoGeraldo Rivera was ousted from WABC (770 New York), leaving a mid-morning gap that had yet to be filled at year’s end. Across the river in New Jersey, Jim Gearhart’s health-driven retirement from mornings on WKXW (New Jersey 101.5) became official, with Bill Spadea replacing him. Multicultural Radio’s WJDM (1530 Elizabeth) lost its transmitter site, making a hasty move north to the Clifton site of sister station WPAT (930). Down the shore, WBHX (99.7 Tuckerton) split from “Fun” sister station WWZY (107.1 Long Branch) to become “the Island,” first with Christmas music and later with classic hits.

On TV, Utica’s WKTV (Channel 2) added CBS on its 2.2 subchannel, leaving only Watertown and Presque Isle as NERW-land markets lacking local service from all of the Big Four networks.

Morning shows on the move: Binnie Media ousted Traci Beard and Paul Quitadamo, whose “Traci and Paul Morning Show” had been heard on WXLF/WZLF along the Connecticut River and WFNQ in Nashua. On Cape Cod, Stephanie Viva returned to iHeart’s WCOD (106.1) nine months after jumping ship to Codcomm’s WFRQ (93.5). In Buffalo, Cumulus named Rich “the Bull” Gaenzler to replace Larry Norton at WGRF.

North of the border, CHUC (107.9 Cobourg ON) segued from “the Breeze” to “Classic Rock 107.9.”

DECEMBER

chrf-fierteMontreal’s “Radio Fierte” CHRF (980) didn’t last out the year with its French-language GLBT programming, flipping to Christmas music and then a mix of oldies and Haitian programming.

Signals were on the move in Massachusetts, where Hall built new towers for New Bedford’s WCTK (98.1) and WNBH (1340) to clear the way for port construction. In the Merrimack Valley, Costa-Eagle applied to move the 50 kW signal of WMVX (1570) from coastal Beverly to the Andover tower of sister station WNNW (800).

In Portland, Saga readied a format shuffle that moves WZAN (970)’s talk format to WBAE (1490) and ESPN sports to 970.

In Harrisburg, Hall changed the calls of WLPA-FM (92.7 Starview) to WONN-FM.

Silent: WMYF (1380 Portsmouth NH), after losing its transmitter site.

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< < < Back to Part II – The Year in Formats, People and Calls (January-June)

> > > On Thursday – The Year’s Top Ten Stories

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