Down on Wall Street, things just keep getting more tense at Pacifica's Big Apple outlet. The station's Web site had been taken over by staffers loyal to recently-ousted PD Bernard White and producer Sheran Harper. This week, Pacifica national regained the site, replacing it (for the moment) with not much more than a link to the national Pacifica home page. The struggle at WBAI, an echo of the 1999 protests at Pacifica's KPFA in Berkeley, made national headlines this week, with "Democracy Now!" host Amy Goodman being quoted as signing off with "From the embattled studios of WBAI."
Meanwhile up in the hills of Franklin County, things are changing for Jimmy Olsen, Johnny Memphis, and the rest of the gang at WRSI. On February 1, their station will switch dial positions with another FM outlet recently purchased by Vox Media, WPVQ (93.9 Turners Falls).
The idea behind the move, sources inside Vox tell NERW, is to put WPVQ's country music on a frequency that better reaches listeners on the north end of the Pioneer Valley. From its hilltop site in the town of Leyden, the 95.3 signal penetrates north into Vermont and New Hampshire more effectively than 93.9 does.
WRSI, known for the last few years as "the River," has a strong constituency in the college towns of the southern Pioneer Valley -- areas the 93.9 signal reaches better, especially with the aid of translators W246AM (97.1 Amherst) and W287AK (105.3 South Hadley).
We hear WPVQ will add more live jocks to the satellite service it's been using outside drive time, and we're told "the Bear" will be the new nickname at WPVQ when it makes that move.
As for Dar Williams...maybe it's time for an ode to Haverhill's WXRV, instead?
[Visit the HTML version of this week's NERW to hear Dar Williams explain why WBAI was so important to her as a teenager...just one of the multimedia "extras" available only to NERW's Web readers at <http://www.fybush.com/nerw.html>!]
[A side note, here: we tried to check out the WNNZ Web site to see what it's saying, but like so many Clear Channel sites, we spent about five minutes watching our browser try, and fail, to connect to "ads.clearchannel.com" before giving up. Somebody's got some work to do in San Antonio...or some explaining to do to advertisers.]
The big news in Boston is Monday's launch of "Business Radio 1060," WBIX (1060 Natick). We listened to the last Gene Burns show on 1060 in its WMEX incarnation on Friday; station owner Alex Langer made a brief appearance at the very end to explain the changes and say farewell, at least for now, to Burns. Classy...
Meanwhile, some of the talk programming that had been on WMEX, and its predecessor, WRPT (650 Ashland), is again being heard at that 650 frequency, now WJLT. The "J-Light" Christian contemporary programming now runs only until noon on weekdays, followed by talkers such as G. Gordon Liddy, mostly simulcast with WSRO (1470 Marlborough).
Veteran WROR (105.7 Framingham) overnight jock Chuck Igo is looking for work; he got word just before the New Year that his shift will henceforth be handled by automation. We're hoping a talent as versatile as Igo won't be out of work long in Boston!
Just before the end of the year, we heard the first rumblings of a format change at Worcester's WCRN (830), and now it's official: the Carberry family has ditched the religious programming there, replacing it with big-band music as "Swing 830." The only break in the music comes from 9:05 until 11 AM, when WCRN continues to run Barry Armstrong's "Money Matters."
WCRN is in the process of cranking its daytime power up to a full 50 kilowatts, directional straight into Boston. Kurt Carberry tells NERW the station is training a staff of DJs and adding liners and IDs.
"The most important aspect of WCRN," he says, "is that this station is going to be fun" for him and for his father, veteran broadcaster Ken Carberry. Sounds like this one should also be a lot of fun for Eastern Massachusetts listeners...
Down on Cape Cod, Chuck Reid has left his post as PD and afternoon jock at WCOD (106.1 Hyannis); no word yet on a replacement.
UMass/Boston's WUMB (91.9 Boston) won't have to worry about any more signal encroachment on the North Shore; it's been granted a new license on 91.7 in Newburyport. The 400 watt station will operate with vertical polarization only, with sharp nulls to the southwest to protect co-channel WMWM (91.7 Salem) and to the northeast, likely to protect co-channel WWPC (91.7 New Durham NH).
Over in Farmington, the word from WZEN (106.5) is that they're running reduced power until mid-month, but gearing up for a power increase in the spring.
WEBK (105.3 Killington) has been doing its thing from ski country since 1992, operating from one of the coolest-looking studios we've ever seen, up above a restaurant on the access road leading to the Killington ski area. (The transmitter is on nearby Pico Peak, blasting out over most of central Vermont.)
In the first station sale in our region this year, Pamal Broadcasting agreed to pay Killington Broadcasting $1.65 million for the station, pairing it with Pamal's WJJR (98.1) and WJEN (94.5)/WJAN (95.1 Sunderland) in nearby Rutland. There's no word yet about any changes, and Pamal has a pretty good reputation for leaving well enough alone, so we'll hope to still be enjoying K105 next time Mrs. NERW drags us up to Vermont for a ski trip...
One new signal on the air, apparently: Christian Ministries was granted a license to cover for W212BG (90.3 Ascutney), the latest in its chain of relays for WGLY Bolton (if that's what the primary is this week...)
Vermont Public Radio has a new news director, and you can't ask for better Green Mountain State news experience. John Van Hoesen joins the NPR affiliate from a 23-year career at the Rutland Herald, most recently as managing editor. He replaces Steve Young, who went down to public-radio startup WCAI/WNAN on Cape Cod and the Islands.
Three Vermont veterans retired just as the new year began: Richard Cowperthwait left WWSR (1420) and WLFE-FM (102.3) in St. Albans after a 25-year career as news director. We hear he'll be doing some writing and working on a book, and how can we possibly argue with that?
Michael Carey did his final "Wake Up, Vermont" show on WDEV (550 Waterbury/96.1 Warren) December 29, ending a career that began 40 years ago with a pirate radio station. The 13-year-old soon moved to "real" radio when his unlicensed efforts were heard by a WDEV staffer, and Carey became a full-time WDEV employee a few years later. WDEV station manager Eric Michaels continues solo as the morning show's host for now; Carey says he'd like to come back part-time if he can overcome the health problems that forced his retirement at age 53.
On the TV side, Tom Hoyt also left the airwaves December 29, doing his last weather forecast for WNNE (Channel 31) in White River Junction after almost ten years. Hoyt is moving into banking as a development officer for Mascoma Bank.
One more departure: WEQX (102.7 Manchester) PD Kyle Guderian left the station last week to go to work for the Intrawest ski-company folks.
Listeners up that way are again hearing WNSX (97.7 Winter Harbor); the station has returned to simulcasting WMDI (107.7 Bar Harbor) while its sale from WMDI owner Scott Hogg to Clear Channel goes through.
We hear Myrna Lamb is out as mid-morning host at WPRO (630 Providence), with no replacement named yet.
The next network change in the Nutmeg State will come March 1, when Hartford's WUVN (Channel 18) will pick up Univision programming.
Over in the northwest corner of the state, WKZE-FM (98.1 Salisbury) has named replacements for Andrew DeGiovanni, who left the morning host and PD posts there last month. Steve Utterback will do mornings on the FM, while Hal Lefferts will be program director. WKZE (1020 Sharon) morning guy and PD Marshall Miles takes on the new title of sales and production coordinator for both AM and FM.
Boston listeners will get to check out CHWO tonight (Jan. 8); Bob Bittner checked in to let us know he'll be signing WJIB (740 Cambridge) off for the night around 6 PM to give the new station a chance to say hello to eastern Massachusetts.
[You can hear the CHWO sign-on by visiting the Web version of NERW.]
Another change in Toronto radio: CJRT (91.1) has reportedly dropped classical music from its programming to go all-jazz. Classical lives on in Toronto by way of the CBC's Radio Two (CBL-FM 94.1), Radio-Canada's Chaîne culturelle (CJBC-FM 90.3), and commercial CFMX-FM-1 (96.3), not to mention cross-border WNED-FM (94.5) from Buffalo, for those who can pick it out under Hamilton's new CIWV (94.7).
Up in Owen Sound, Bayshore Broadcasting is applying for a new country-music FM station. The 31.6 kilowatt outlet would operate on 93.7 MHz, joining oldies CFOS (560) and AC CIXK (106.5) in the Bayshore family; we're guessing it would go on the big CBC tower in Wiarton that's home to CIXK and a bunch of CBC services.
Along the St. Lawrence River, a surprise format change greeted listeners to Brockville's CHXL (103.7) with the new year. Instead of classic rock as "the River," the CHUM Group station is now pumping out CHR as "the Point," complete with new CJPT calls and a new Web site. The station launched with 103 hours of commercial-free music, with the official start-up at 7 AM last Friday (1/5).
Had the FCC denied the change to commercial status for channel 23, WNYPBA would have sold channel 17 to LIN instead; because it began life as commercial WBUF-TV in the fifties, that channel has always been allocated for commercial use. No word yet on when LIN will begin operating channel 23.
Just to the north, where Niagara County and Lake Ontario meet, WTOR (770 Youngstown) has powered up to 9000 watts daytime, with a signal that's now almost listenable in Rochester, though a good receiver can still pull WABC out underneath.
The new year passed without any major radio changes here in Rochester, but there was some movement on the LPTV dial: WAWW-LP (Channel 38) has again disappeared from the airwaves, thus leaving the lone viewer of its ACN home-shopping programming in the lurch. WBXO-LP (Channel 15), like the rest of the affiliates of "The Box," is now an MTV2 affiliate instead -- though for some reason there's no audio on any of the music, making it just a bit frustrating to watch!
Syracuse's "Sunny 102" now has calls to match: WRDS (102.1 Phoenix) became WZUN last week.
Up in Watertown, Bob Smith still intends to run Fox programming on his two LPTVs, W25AB Watertown and W28BC Massena -- but instead of doing it in partnership with his old station, WWTI (Channel 50), which he sold to Ackerley in 1999, he's partnering with crosstown WWNY (Channel 7), which will program the Fox station, complete with 10 PM news, from its studios downtown.
Albany's "Point" has another new morning show: this time WCPT (100.9) is pairing PD J. Davis with Terry Cordingley, of sister station WKLI (94.5 Ravena).
February will bring a new format to Schenectady, when Ernie Anastos' WVKZ (1240) splits from its simulcast with adult standards "The Moon" (WUAM 900 Saratoga Springs) to become "Sun Country," playing the classic country that WGNA (1460/107.7 Albany) doesn't. The Moon will move to Anastos' newest station, WMVI (1160 Mechanicville). (Hey, wouldn't the old WSNY calls be perfect for Sun Country if they were to return to Schenectady?)
Speaking of Anastos, he started his new gig on WCBS-TV (Channel 2) in New York last week, returning there from several years anchoring over at WWOR (Channel 9). Replacing Anastos at 10 PM on WWOR is another New York TV veteran, Rolland Smith, who's been up in the Hudson Valley at WRNN (Channel 62 Kingston) for the last few years.
New calls arrived in the Hudson Valley for Clear Channel's new "Kiss" CHR simulcast: mark down WPKF on 96.1 Poughkeepsie, most recently WCTJ (though the FCC's confused database still had it as the prior call, WTND) and WFKP on 99.3 Ellenville, lately WTHN. Clear Channel must be running out of "Kiss"-like calls, though it's trademarked the name and has been suing stations that adopted the moniker in the last year or so (Omaha's new country "Kiss" flipped to "Max" last week for just that reason!) Stations that were using "Kiss" before 1998 are safe, though...so New York's WRKS and Washington's WKYS, among others, can breathe easy.
Leslie Gold is looking for a new radio home. The "Radio Chick" was fired from her midday slot on Infinity talker WNEW (102.7 New York) last week, though she was allowed to stay on the air to do a farewell show Friday. Boston listeners will remember Gold as half of "Two Chicks Dishing" on WRKO before her departure for the Big Apple.
Back on the air: John R. Gambling. The scion of WOR's morning dynasty will be doing Saturday mornings on WABC (770) beginning January 13, as well as contributing pieces to the Curtis and Kuby morning show. Gambling was fired from WOR last fall, you'll recall, ending some seven decades of "Rambling with Gambling" on that station.
The longtime voice of Knicks basketball, Jets and Giants football, UConn sports, and much more fell silent last week. Marty Glickman was 83 when he died January 3. In addition to his years as a sportscaster, Glickman was a track champion in the thirties, though he was barred from competing in the 1936 Berlin Olympics because he was Jewish.
Finally this week, a quick update on where things stand here at NERW and fybush.com as we enter our first full year as a fully independent operation:
First, some good news: there's a lot coming to NERW and fybush.com in 2001. If you haven't checked out the "Tower Site of the Week," you're missing out on a page that's becoming a weekly stop for thousands of radio fans. This past week, we began a series of visits to New York City's AM sites; starting January 10, you'll get a look inside the home of Toronto's new (and old) 740 AM. The Year in Review page will remain up on fybush.com all year, and we're now posting your responses to this year's Rant. If you haven't chimed in to this discussion of radio's future, what are you waiting for? (Soon, this will evolve into a full-fledged Mailbag page...stay tuned!)
NERW will grow geographically this year, too. We've been sniffing around the edges of Pennsylvania and New Jersey for the last few years, and now we're jumping in with both feet. There are already excellent sites focusing on Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but we believe there's room for more news from places like Erie, Du Bois, Williamsport, Scranton, and Morristown -- so you'll find it all on NERW in 2001.
This week's Web version of NERW is the first to contain audio clips, but it won't be the last. In 2001, we hope to offer regular weekly audio bites to our readers at fybush.com, along with the photos, logos, and other enhancements that we've been providing in the HTML version of the column.
For those of you reading NERW on the mailing list: it's not going away, I promise. Many of you have expressed a strong desire to continue receiving NERW as plain-text e-mail, and we listened. But if you haven't checked out NERW at fybush.com, please come visit; I hope you'll like what you find. (And if you read NERW at the Archives site, www.bostonradio.org, you're missing out on each week's fresh column until it's a week old! Come over to fybush.com and check it out...)
Speaking of the Archives: there's much more in store there as well. Garrett Wollman and I are working to add content to the site, including new station and market histories, updated technical information, an archive of Tower Site of the Week, and more to come. The Archives site is designed to go hand in hand with fybush.com (or perhaps that should be the other way around), so be sure to make both a part of your weekly Web diet.
Now the bad news: All these developments depend on you, the readers. This is a tough time for content-based Web sites (just ask the folks at RadioDigest.com), not to mention the market as a whole. Even so, I've been pleasantly surprised at the dozens of you who responded to my initial plea for voluntary contributions to keep NERW coming each week. To those of you who have already contributed, my most sincere thanks and appreciation.
To those of you who haven't: Your support matters. The fybush.com site is now registering close to 30,000 hits a week, along with thousands of NERW page views at bostonradio.org and hundreds of you on the mailing list. That means, by my math, that perhaps one in 100 NERW readers is donating -- and that's not enough!
Please visit <http://www.fybush.com/support.html> to learn more about why your support matters, and how you can help. In addition to subscriptions, we're looking for in-kind donations (especially a used Pentium laptop to help us keep NERW coming during this summer's travels) and, especially, advertisers! Inquire about our low charter rates, won't you?
Enough with the sales pitch; we'll be back in seven days with much more radio news from around the region. See you then!