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The Year in People and Formats (Part II)

By SCOTT FYBUSH

It’s time once again for our Year in Review, the 23rd 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 through our wrap-up on Monday, January 1, so check back every day for a new installment. We’ll resume our regular NorthEast Radio Watch report on Tuesday, January 2, 2018. (And in the meantime, our own Twitter and Facebook feeds and RadioInsight will be here with any breaking news!)


The third installment of our Year in Review (catch up on yesterday’s installment here) continues our annual roundup of people and formats on the move in the never-ending whirl that is radio and TV in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada.

JULY

Bloomberg Radio added spots on the Boston dial with a new LMA putting its programming on Beasley’s WRCA (1330) and its 106.1 translator along with iHeart’s WXKS (1200); a few weeks later, it picked up WNBP (1450 Newburyport) and its 106.1 translator as well.

In New Hampshire, WGAM (1250 Manchester) and WGHM (900 Nashua) ditched ESPN Radio sports in favor of oldies as “WGAM Oldies Radio.”

Up along the Connecticut River, Great Eastern shifted some of its formats, moving WFYX (96.3 Walpole) to a simulcast of adult top-40 WGXL (92.3 Lebanon NH) instead of the “Greatest Hits” of “Kool” WWOD (93.9 Woodstock VT).

The “Bob” branding vanished from Colonial Media’s country WBYB (103.9 Eldred PA), which got new calls, WAGL, as it returned the former “Eagle” brand to the Olean market, where it’s also on translator W256BS (99.1).

Gone: the FCC cancelled long-silent licenses for iHeart’s WPLA (1380 Portsmouth NH) and for WPAM (1450 Pottsville PA).

AUGUST

One of the year’s biggest stories was the end of FM broadcasting from WBRU (95.5 Providence). It wrapped up half a century on FM at the end of August before student-run Brown Broadcasting Services handed off the license to EMF, which immediately flipped it to K-Love as WLVO. (Those calls had been in Pennsylvania at 88.5 in Halifax, near Harrisburg, which returned to its prior calls of WKHW; the WBRU calls, meanwhile, went to the unbuilt CP that had been WPVD-LP 101.1 in Providence, and then Hall turned its WLKW 1450 West Warwick into WPVD.)

Bill Binnie’s WNNH (99.1 Henniker) flipped from talk back to “True Oldies,” coinciding with Binnie’s LMA-to-purchase of talk competitor WTPL (107.7 Hillsboro).

Up in the Burlington, Vermont market, WXZO (96.7 Willsboro NY) slid from top-40 “Planet” to a more rhythmic sound as “The New Hot 96.7.” Hip-hop came to Binghamton, too, with Equinox’s flip of its 92.9 translator from classic rock to “Hot 92.9.”

In northern Pennsylvania, Seven Mountains flipped WQYX (93.1 Clearfield) from AC to “Pop 93.1” under new calls WPQP.

New to the air: CJCS-FM (107.1 Stratford ON), as “Juice FM,” replacing CJCS (1240), Aug. 3.

SEPTEMBER

Craig Carton’s sudden exit from New York’s WFAN after being charged in a fraud scheme meant the start of several months of guest hosts alongside Boomer Esiason, a bit of instability that CBS Radio probably didn’t need as it prepared for its merger into Entercom.

Connoisseur added a new translator-driven format to its New Haven lineup with the launch Sept. 18 (at 10:23 AM) of “Mod 102.3” W272DO, feeding its modern rock format from the HD2 of big sister WPLR (99.1).

In Philadelphia, iHeart partnered with Children’s Hospital for a new format called “Breakthrough Radio,” replacing smooth jazz on WDAS (1480) and also heard on WDAS-FM (105.3)’s HD2.

In Syracuse, Craig Fox installed his “Dinosaur” oldies format on WFBL (1390) after returning it to the air earlier in the summer.

Montreal listeners said goodbye Sept. 22 to “Tootall,” the 40-year veteran midday jock on rocker CHOM (97.7).

New to the air: CKNC (99.7 Simcoe ON) as “Oldies 99.7,” at noon Sept. 1.

Silent: WMCE (1530 North East), awaiting its revival as WZTE Union City, Sept. 1.


OCTOBER

In Erie, Connoisseur’s “Rocket” WRKT moved up the dial and closer to town at noon Oct. 20, shooting from 100.9 to a bigger signal at 104.9.

In Rochester, WRSB (1590 Brockport) flipped to Spanish AC Oct. 16, feeding big-signal translator W248BH (97.5) as “Mi 97.5,” the market’s first commercial Spanish-language station. WRSB’s “Team” sports format was already on the way out, having disappeared a month earlier from former simulcast WOKR (1310 Canandaigua), which flipped to talk.

In the Hudson Valley, WGNY (1220 Newburgh) and its 105.3 translator flipped from country to a simulcast of oldies WGNY-FM (98.9 Rosendale) after less than a year.

Silent: WPTR (1540 Albany), telling the FCC it can’t afford to operate at its full 50 kilowatts.

NOVEMBER

Entercom’s takeover of CBS Radio brought one immediate format change: New York’s WBMP (92.3 AMP) gave way to “Alt 92.3” at 11 AM on November 17, one of several “Alt” flips in Dallas-Fort Worth, Orlando, San Francisco and elsewhere.

Great Eastern kicked off November with some changes to its station lineup. “The River,” the AAA format that had been on translator W294AB (106.7 Hanover NH) and the HD2 of WHDQ (106.1 Claremont), has moved to WWOD (93.9 Woodstock VT). The “Kool FM” oldies that had been on 93.9 are now on 106.7 as a full-time feed of the True Oldies Channel; “Kool” also continues to be heard on WFYX (96.3 Walpole NH).

Gone: WEPA-CD in Pittsburgh, WNNB in Beaver and WPCP in New Castle, all on Nov. 1, after having sold off their spectrum at auction; CJCS (1240 Stratford ON), Nov. 9.

New to the air: WBDY-LP (99.5 Binghamton) from the Bundy Museum, Nov. 19; WJRK (95.9 Mina NY, with Christmas music)

DECEMBER

One of the year’s biggest national stories hit home for several big public radio outlets as allegations of sexual harassment and bad workplace behavior took prominent hosts off the air. At Boston’s WBUR, Tom Ashbrook was placed on leave from his hosting duties on “Here and Now,” distributed nationally by NPR; at New York’s WNYC, midday talk host Leonard Lopate and weekend standards host Jonathan Schwartz were first suspended and then fired.

Down the street at WFAN, Mike Francesa signed off after almost three decades as a pioneer of sports-talk radio, setting the stage for a whole new WFAN lineup in the new year.

More CBS-to-Entercom fallout: with its longtime callsign of WBMX moved to Chicago for a format flip, Boston’s “Mix 104.1” became WWBX.

On TV, Dec. 4 brought a swap of calls and affiliations between Entravision and Univision in Boston: the Univision affiliation and WUNI calls from Entravision’s channel 27 to Univision’s channel 66, with UniMas and the WUTF calls going from 66 to 27.

Post-Christmas (and a few just-pre-Christmas) format changes: WBOQ (104.9 Gloucester MA) swapped out oldies for more current AC; WLTF (95.9 Mina NY, ex-WJRK) traded an all-Christmas stunt for AC “Lite”; WDNY-FM (93.9 Dansville NY) went to classic rock under new management.

And as the year drew to a close, several stations prepared to turn off the lights: Pittsburgh’s KQV announced the end of its news-talk format New Year’s Eve as it looked for a buyer; WSPQ (1330 Springville NY) said its financial difficulties would take it silent at year’s end; on Long Island, Scotty Hart’s WLIX-LP (94.7) prepared to end its soft AC format on New Year’s Eve at noon.

Gone: WGHT (1500 Pompton Lakes NJ), silent Dec. 14, 2 PM, donated to the local borough government.


> > > Coming Thursday, Dec. 30: The Year’s Top 10 Stories


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