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NorthEast Radio Watch 4/23: WABY Goes All-News

*There's a format change on the way in NEW YORK's capital city, as
Albany's WABY (1400) prepares to drop music during the day in
favor of an all-news format.  The station's new owner, Tele-Media, is
contracting with Metro Networks to provide local news inserts to CNN
Headline News from 5 AM until 7 PM weekdays.  The rest of the time,
WABY(AM) will continue to simulcast the soft AC format of WABY-FM
(94.5 Ravena).  In recent years, the AM station has been all but
ignored on-air and in promotions.  Meanwhile on the FM side, afternoon
host David Allen is moving to mornings.  

For some WABY-FM listeners in the South Troy area, that 94.5 signal
may be a bit hard to receive -- thanks to a new pirate in the
neighborhood.  "WRDE," aka "Oldies 94-7," is operating just up the
dial with a fairly strong signal.  NERW Capital District bureau chief
Gavin Burt reports "WRDE" also has a much broader music mix than the
market's licensed oldies station, WTRY (980/98.3).  

In Syracuse, one of the market's oldest stations is about to get
fitted for its mouse ears.  WOLF (1490) will switch from satellite
talk to Radio Disney May 3, along with simulcast partners WOLF-FM
(96.7 Oswego) and WKGJ (1340 Auburn).  Also in the Salt City, we note
that WVOA (105.1 DeRuyter) has told the FCC it has no interest in
moving city of license to Chittenango anymore, so the matter has been
dropped for now.

Up North, Mike Roach checks in to report the departure of Denise
Jackson from her 11PM anchor spot on Watertown's WWNY-TV (Channel
7). Also at WWNY, we note the passing of sales guy Michael Dickson,
who spent 13 years at the old WOTT/WNCQ (1410/97.5, now WUZZ/WFRY) and
a few years at WTNY-FM (93.5, now WCIZ 93.3) before joining WWNY in
1996.  Dickson died Tuesday (4/13) of an apparent heart attack.  He
was 49.

The cast of characters on the "Brother Wease Morning Circus" is changing
a bit.  Rochester's WCMF (96.5) is parting ways with Scott Van Dusen and
Billy D'Ettore; replacing them are Joe T. as show producer and
"Walter" as the show's engineer.

Over in the Buffalo market, WXRL (1300 Lancaster) is looking for a new
operations manager, as Dave Saunders parts way with the little country
station 22 years after coming on board.  

A federal judge in New York City is allowing unlicensed "Steal This
Radio" (88.7 FM) to return to the airwaves of the Lower East Side
while it fights its court battle against the FCC.  STR has until May 4
to make its temporary injunction against the FCC permanent.  NERW's
more than a little amused by the irony of a judge essentially saying,
"Go ahead and keep breaking the law until we figure out whether or not
you shouldn't be."

Out on Long Island, WWVY (107.1 Hampton Bays) has picked up the WWXY
calls recently dropped by sister "Y107" country outlet WYNY-FM (107.1
Briarcliff Manor), thus restoring the WWXY-WWYY-WWZY alphabetical
order of Big City Radio's Y107 outlets in Long Island, Monmouth-Ocean,
and Phillipsburg-Easton.  

And as long as we've crossed the line into New Jersey, WJHR (1040
Flemington) is airing construction noises, apparently for the next
week or so, as it prepares for a format change to talk from the
current hot AC.  Coming aboard, both from New Brunswick's WCTC (1450),
are Ed Palladino as operations manager and Ted Efaw as a talk host.
The change happens May 3.

The first round of Winter '99 Arbitrons are out, and the 12+ numbers
were sweet indeed for WTJM (105.1), the new Jammin' Oldies outlet in
NEW YORK.  The station more than doubled its last book as "Big 105"
WBIX to land solidly within the top 10, albeit far behind perennial
market leader WLTW (106.7).  Also in the top ten: a strong number-two
finish for WQHT (Hot 97), down a bit for WSKQ-FM (Mega 97.9), flat for
WHTZ (Z100), a down book for rocker WXRK (K-Rock 92.3), an up book for
all-news WINS (1010), flat ratings for WRKS (Kiss 98.7), and a drop
for oldies WCBS-FM (101.1) -- perhaps a draining of listeners up the
dial to 105?  Not showing at all this time is WQEW (1560), in its
first book as Radio Disney.  Barely showing was WNEW (102.7), which
again placed lowest of all the secular commercial NYC-licensed FMs,
again prompting rumors of a format change.

Out on Long Island, WXRK led the NASSAU-SUFFOLK book, followed by
WALK-FM, WHTZ, WLTW, and WBLI.  Making a strong showing in their first
book as a standards simulcast were WGSM (740) and WHLI (1100), with
oldies WBZO (103.1) right behind.  WTJM also did well on the Island,
again more than doubling its ratings from Winter and WBIX.

Speaking of Jammin' Oldies, the format claimed yet another market this
week with the addition of WZJM (92.3 Cleveland Heights), formerly a
rhythmic CHR outlet.  

*In CONNECTICUT, there's a new format at WKCD (107.7 Pawcatuck), as
the smooth jazz gives way to a modern AC sound known on-air as
"Channel 107-7, New Music for the New Millennium."  WKCD is looking
for an airstaff, in care of sister station Hot 106 (WWKX/WAKX) up in
Woonsocket -- or, as they pronounce it, "Providence."  We note a nice
little three-state rivalry between Back Bay Broadcasting, which owns
WKCD and Hot 106, and Spring Broadcasting, whose "Fun 107" (WFHN 107.1
New Bedford MA) competes against Hot in Rhode Island and southeast
Massachusetts, and whose WQGN (105.5 Groton CT) competes against the
new WKCD.

Alan Sagal, who spent most of the 1970s and 1980s in the newsroom of
WTIC (1080 Hartford) before becoming the spokesman for Hartford's AAA,
died Friday (4/16) after a battle with pancreatic cancer.  Sagal was

Looking for the New Britain Rock Cats on Hartford radio?  You'll have
to tune in WPRX (1120) from Bristol; we're told plans to run some
games on WPOP (1410) have fallen through for now.

WTIC-TV (Channel 61) has been hit with a $14,500 Notice of Apparent
Liability from the FCC for repeated violations of the rules governing
ads during children's programming.  NERW notes that this seems to be
about the only thing that gets TV licensees in financial trouble on a
regular basis these days.

WEBE (107.9 Westport)'s Web site has a new address: you can find it at

*RHODE ISLAND radio buffs will want to head over to the Museum of
Rhode Island History, which opened a new exhibit last week called
"Live From Studio 1-A!," covering the history of radio and TV in the
Ocean State.  NERW hopes to check this one out in person when we head
east in June for a visit to Boston and vicinity; watch this space for
advance word of a NERW get-together.  In the meantime, you can find
more on the exhibit at the museum's Web site, <http://www.rihs.org>.

*It's been a quiet, quiet week in MASSACHUSETTS, but it should at
least be an exciting weekend in the Pioneer Valley as WMUA (91.1
Amherst) celebrates its 50th anniversary.  Veterans of the UMass
student station will be coming back for airshifts Saturday and Sunday;
we can't wait to hear some of the airchecks!

Gary LaPierre is leaving WBZ -- the TV side, anyway.  The 35-year 'BZ
radio veteran has been anchoring the noon news on WBZ-TV (Channel 4)
for the last few years, but now he's given up that gig to concentrate
solely on his morning radio shift and daily commentary..and be out the
door well before noon every day (well-deserved, we might add, since
Gary's one of the hardest workers in the business).

Frankie Foxx is now with Metro Networks/Boston.  Foxx checked in to
let us know the departure from WCIB (101.9 Falmouth) last month was
purely voluntary.

There's a very familiar voice on the airwaves in Las Vegas; we
hear former WSBK (Channel 38) "Movie Loft" host Dana Hersey is doing
voice work for KXNT (840) out in Sin City.  

NERW research director Garrett Wollman spent Boston Marathon day doing
his own marathon drive around Central Massachusetts, and checked in to
report that Worcester's WORC (1310) no longer maintains studios at the
old Grove Street location; a sign on the window advises visitors that
WORC is operating out of sister station WGFP (940) out on Route 16 in

Rico Petrocelli is all over the place lately: In addition to WSMN
(1590 Nashua NH), the former Sox star is co-hosting "The Home Team"
daily at noon on WRPT (650 Ashland) and WSRO (1470 Marlborough).  The
two stations are now a 24-hour simulcast.  And if the name of the
show sounds familiar, you're right: Petrocelli and co-host Stu Taylor
used to lease time for it on WBPS (890 Dedham) when that station was a
sports outlet.

Just in to NERW: the BOSTON Winter Arbitrons, and it's no surprise to
find WBZ at the top of the pack, despite a fall of nearly a full point
12+ from the Fall book.  WJMN was solid in second place, followed by
WMJX, a good book for WXKS-FM, a flat one for WRKO, a down one for
WBCN, and a ratings gain for WCRB.  WEGQ was down a bit in its last
book as "Eagle," and down the book a bit, WNFT cracked a 1 share with
its new tropical Spanish format.  

*There's a very new sound on the airwaves in NEW HAMPSHIRE; Dennis
Jackson and partners put WZEN (106.5 Farmington) on for the first time
at 6:32 PM Monday (4/19), and we're already hearing from NERW readers
in the Lakes Region hearing the new signal.  No word yet on what
WZEN's permanent format will be; it's just testing right now.

Mark Ericson checked in from the Fuller-Jeffrey Seacoast stations to
let us know that while he's no longer PD at WOKQ (97.5), it's only
because he's been promoted.  Ericson is now vice president for
operations at WOKQ-WPKQ and "Arrow" WXBB-WXBP.  All four stations will
soon have a new home; they're hard at work on a brand-new facility in
Dover that's scheduled to open later this summer.

*As we'd suspected, there's been a format change in the Burlington,
VERMONT market.  WEAV (960), which is actually licensed across the
lake in Plattsburgh NY, went all-talk last week.  The Capstar
station's lineup begins with Imus (who's no longer being heard on
sister country station WXPS "Kix" 96.7) and continues with Mike
Gallagher, Dr. Joy Browne, Don & Mike, the Fabulous Sports Babe, the
Dolans, and overnights and weekends from the WOR Network.  The WEAV
signal has never been tremendously good on the Vermont side of the
lake, and it will be interesting to see how the station competes with
established news-talkers WVMT (620) and WKDR (1390) right in

*No news from MAINE this week, but there's a bit from across the
border: The CRTC is taking applications for a new station in Rimouski,
Quebec, way up north along the St. Lawrence River.  Out on Prince
Edward Island, CJRW in Summerside is applying to move from AM 1240 to
FM 102.1, which would leave just two AMs on the Island, CFCY 630 and
CHTN 720 in Charlottetown.  We wonder how long it will be before one
of them decides to apply for FM as well?  (Only one would be eligible,
since the group also owns CHLQ 93.1 Charlottetown, and the CRTC still
limits owners to two stations on any single band).  Finally, in
Ontario, Scott Jackson has been granted a new FM station in Barrie.
The 1800-watt outlet on 100.3 will have a religious format.

*That's it for this week; next Friday, more Winter ratings and more
FCC news (they're having computer problems and haven't been able to
post the usual applications and actions information we depend on!)

- -=Scott Fybush - NorthEast Radio Watch - (c) 1999=-