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NERW 11/6: WILD's New Owner, And Some Changes at NERW
--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
November 6, 2000
IN THIS ISSUE:
*MASSACHUSETTS: Nash Sells to Radio One
*NEW YORK: Concord Flips Three in Hudson Valley
*NERW CENTRAL: Your Editor Moves On...
-----------------------------by Scott Fybush-----------------------------
*For years now, one of the parlor games most often played by
MASSACHUSETTS radio buffs has been "What will it take for Bernardine
Nash to sell WILD?" This week, we have an answer -- and it's no great
Ever since her husband's death a few years back, rumors have run
rampant about Nash's plans for the urban AM "little daytimer that
could." Would she negotiate a move to a full-time frequency, or to
FM? Would she sell, and if so, to whom?
This spring, Nash began answering those questions when she LMA'd the
station to Radio One, one of the country's fastest-growing urban
groups (NERW, 5/19/2000). The move put WILD (1090) under the same
roof as new competitor WBOT (97.7 Brockton). And now Nash has agreed
to sell WILD outright to Radio One.
The $5 million deal puts Nash in charge of the Radio One Boston group,
and makes WILD the 51st station nationwide for the company.
*The big news from NEW YORK this week was, of course, the waning days
of the nation's most-watched Senate race. The big radio news, though,
was taking place in the Hudson Valley, as the stations Clear Channel
is spinning off to Concord Media take on their new formats.
On the AM side, WHUC (1230 Hudson) broke from the talk format shared
with Kingston's WGHQ (920) and Poughkeepsie's WKIP (1450) to go
standards, though not with the same satellite service as sister
station WCKL (560 Catskill). Could that mean changes on the way at
On the FM dial, WCTW (98.5 Catskill), aka "The Cat," returns to the
Westwood One "Bright AC" satellite format it had been using until
February, when the station went mostly live and local with hot AC.
The other half of "the Cat," WCTJ (96.1 Poughkeepsie), keeps the hot
AC, albeit with automation and voicetracks instead of live jocks.
And WTHK (93.5 Hudson) dumps "Thunder Country" for Westwood One's
oldies as "Cruisin' 93-5," with Bill Williams from WRNQ (92.1
Poughkeepsie) serving as PD and Ken Gonyea doing mornings. Again,
"Thunder Country" lives, for now, on WTHN (99.3 Ellenville) to the
[Thanks to Jason Bereza for passing those updates along -- and be sure
to check out his new Northeast Radio Guide at
<http://www.radio-info.com/northeast/main.htm>. It may not have the
comprehensive Caribou-to-Fredonia dial listings we offer at the Boston
and Upstate NY Radio Archives, but it's a great source for the Capital
Region, the Hudson Valley, and adjacent portions of New England!]
Up in Albany, J.R. Gach is pulling double duty for Clear Channel,
hosting the 7-10 PM talk show on WLW (700 Cincinnati) from the studios
of WGY (810 Schenectady), where he does afternoon drive.
A Syracuse television icon will retire in a little less than a month.
Ron Curtis started at WHEN radio (620) back when its sister TV station
was still on channel 8. That was in 1959, and seven years later he
became the anchor on WHEN-TV, today's WTVH (Channel 5). In recent
years, Curtis has anchored WTVH's noon and 11 PM shows. His final
appearance on channel 5 will be December 1.
*Classical AM in CONNECTICUT? It became a reality last week at
Marlin's WCCC (1290 West Hartford), as the station ditched its
simulcast of active rocker WCCC-FM (106.9 Hartford) for a rebroadcast
of Marlin-owned beethoven.com. Here's the kicker: The station keeps
Howard Stern in morning drive, simulcast with the FM. Insert your own
*Up in VERMONT, religious broadcaster Brian Dodge was arrested again
October 21, after allegedly violating a restraining order by being
within 15 feet of his wife's house. Dodge already faces charges for
an attack on his wife earlier in the month. He'll appear in court
Tuesday (11/7) for a hearing on the latest incident.
Some programming changes at Brattleboro talker WKVT (1490): The
station adds Howie Carr from 3-6 PM weekdays, replacing Michael
Medved's West Coast-based show. On weekends, the "best of" Tom Leykis
shows that aired Saturday and Sunday afternoons are giving way to
Mitch Albom and Mark Davis, respectively. On Saturdays, Albom will be
preceded by Kim Komando's computer show, while Davis' Sunday show will
be followed by Tom Martino's "Troubleshooter" show.
*A few TV changes: In NEW HAMPSHIRE, Merrimack's WPXB (Channel 60)
dumps infomercials for Value Vision home shopping. RHODE ISLAND's
WRIW-LP (Channel 50 Providence) switches to Telemundo.
*While Portland, MAINE's WPXT (Channel 51) celebrates its national
scoop on the George W. Bush DWI arrest, the Fox affiliate is losing an
anchor. Pat McGonigle leaves Portland for a weekend anchor job at
Omaha's Fox affiliate, KPTM (Channel 42).
On the radio end of things, Clint Marsh departed his PD/afternoon slot
at country WPOR (101.9 Portland) this week to return to his Midwestern
roots, as operations manager at WMDH (1550/102.5) in New Castle,
Indiana, just outside Muncie.
And we hear "The Point," aka WTPN (98.9 Brunswick), is edging back
towards modern AC after a stint as a straight-ahead AC outlet.
*From CANADA this week comes word that the CRTC has approved CIMF
(94.9 Hull)'s application for a low-power relay in Hawkesbury,
Ontario, halfway to Montreal -- but with a catch. While acknowledging
that CIMF needs the relay to retain the listeners it will lose when
adjacent-channel CBF (95.1 Montreal) cranks up to 100 kilowatts, the
CRTC says the relay can't be on 107.7, the frequency CIMF wanted. It
seems several community stations are hoping to use that channel in the
area, and the CRTC says CIMF can find other frequencies that will
*A few quick notes from outside the NERW listening area: We enjoyed
listening to the 80th anniversary special last week on KDKA (1020
Pittsburgh), even though there's certainly plenty of historical
evidence casting doubt on KD's claim that "radio began here." At the
other end of the Keystone State, a moment of silence please for the
loss of two Philly institutions: WWDB (96.5), a pioneer in the world
of FM talk, expired quietly Monday morning (11/6), replaced later in
the day by 80s hits as "The Point," with the WRPT calls that once
lived in Peterborough and Ashland reportedly on the way. Across the
river in South Jersey, WVLT (92.1 Vineland)'s abrupt cancellation of
the "phillyradio.com Radio Radio Show" leaves WJIB's "Let's Talk About
Radio" as the only radio-on-radio show we know of in the country.
Staying in Pennsylvania for a moment, just on the fringes of NERWland,
we note two call changes just out from the FCC: WAQM (104.5 Cambridge
Springs), just south of Erie, becomes WXXO (remember that call from
Albany a few years back?), while WZRZ (98.7 Mill Hall) near
Williamsport becomes WLTS-FM. No word yet on accompanying format
Just to prove that classical on FM is a dying breed everywhere, we'll
close this week's news with the impending demise of Cleveland's WCLV,
at least in the form of its big class B 95.5 signal. WCLV owner Seaway
Broadcasting is parting with 95.5 in exchange for $30 million cash and
a three-way swap involving Salem and Clear Channel. WCLV's classical
format will move to WHK (1420 Cleveland), now a Salem outlet, and to
WAKS (104.9 Lorain), now Clear Channel's "Kiss" CHR rimshotter from
the market's extreme west side. Salem gets the big 95.5 signal for
its religious programming, and Clear Channel gets 98.1 in Canton
(now Salem's WHK-FM, simulcasting WHK). The initial reports had Kiss
moving to that 98.1, but NERW's sources in the market say 98.1 could
instead become the new home of another Clear Channel CHR, Akron's
WKDD, which would give up its 96.5 signal to Kiss. The 96.5 already
reaches Cleveland, and could move north from Akron to do so even
better, while 98.1 gets only as far as Akron. As for the classical
listeners in Cleveland's wealthy eastern suburbs, far out of range of
the 104.9 signal? We hope they like the 5kHz frequency response on
that AM 1420.
The good news in all of this is that WCLV is taking a cue from
Boston's WCRB and forming a WCLV Foundation, which will work in
concert with public radio and TV (WCPN 90.3 and WVIZ 25), and which
will take ownership of WCLV-FM with a committment to keeping it in the
classical format in perpetuity. Read more about it, if you're so
inclined, at <http://www.wclv.com/future>.
*The Boston Radio Archives/NERW Northeast TV Stock Index (11/3): 94.23.
*And now, the moment I've been waiting for has arrived.
To steal from Larry Lujack's classic format-change moment on Chicago's
WCFL a quarter-century or so ago -- "Mr. Fybush's Address to the
First, a bit of history. This column began somewhere around 1994 (the
earliest versions are lost, alas) as "New England Radio Watch," an
occasional contribution to the late Bill Pfeiffer's
Airwaves/rec.radio.broadcasting newsgroup. By 1996, it was appearing
more or less every week. In 1997, NERW Central relocated to
Rochester, the acronym changed to "NorthEast Radio Watch," and the
column began appearing on a regular schedule.
One thing never changed, though: NERW was a sideline, indirectly
subsidized by my full-time work as a news writer at WBZ radio, then
later as a reporter at R News here in Rochester.
But what started as a committment of just an hour or two a week has
ballooned. Keeping up with the FCC, the CRTC, several hundred e-mails
a week, innumerable message boards, and a big heaping pile of trade
magazines and club bulletins now keeps me occupied for 15-20 hours
each week, and that's not counting the time spent on the road chasing
down new IDs and format changes.
Meanwhile, the daily grind of broadcast journalism, so much fun at
first, was looking less appealing by the hour. There's an entire
column or three to be written about the state of the radio and
television news business in America's medium markets today, and some
week soon I'll write those columns.
In the meantime, suffice it to say I've been looking for new
professional challenges for the past year or so. Those of you who
read Radio World know that I've been a regular contributor to that
publication and its siblings since last fall. Writing about the
broadcast business, engineering, programming, and history has been
delightful, and I've been looking for a way to do more. The final pieces
fell into place over the summer with some changes in Mrs. NERW's
professional life that made it possible for me to try something I've
been wanting to do for a while.
So, here's the announcement: As of the end of business this Thursday
(Nov. 9), I'll be my own employer, pursuing a new life as a freelance
I'll now pause for questions:
"What does this mean for NERW?" Thanks for asking. Here's how I see
On the one hand, I'll now have more time to devote to NERW each week.
That means more content, more original stories, and a more strict
adherence to the publication schedule (thrown out of whack this week
by the incredible amount of my time being absorbed by covering the
last gasps of the New York Senate race -- not that I'm complaining!)
On the other hand, I'll no longer have the financial stability that
came from years of indirect subsidies to this column from Westinghouse
(later CBS) and Time Warner (soon to be AOL, I suppose). That means
that I'm forced to do something I've never wanted to contemplate:
trying to find a way to make some money off this column, at least
enough to cover my costs in producing it each week.
In so doing, I'm guided by some examples of what not to do. Without
naming names (or URLs), we've seen the station-history Web sites that
seemed to be more interested in selling CDs than anything else, and
the industry news sites that have tried, and failed, to support
themselves through ad revenue and/or subscriptions.
I don't want NERW to turn into a weekly plea for cash. I don't want
to deal with collecting tiny weekly fees, administering passwords, and
all the other hassles that would go with converting NERW to a
subscription-based system -- and in any case, I want NERW to continue
to be available to everyone who wants to read it. It's thanks to all
of YOU out there who send me newspaper articles, Web links, insider
gossip, and questions that NERW has become as comprehensive as it is
Instead, I'm trying two things:
First, I'm building a new Web site. Some of you may have already seen
the prototypes at <http://www.fybush.com>. If you haven't, come visit
later this week when it's more polished and ready for prime time. In
addition to serving as a billboard for my new freelance business,
fybush.com will become the new home for immediate access to NERW upon
publication. If you now read NERW via the mailing list, you'll
continue to receive NERW headlines each week, with a pointer to the
new fybush.com/NERW Web site, which will now include photos, graphics,
and perhaps some audio as well. By putting NERW on a commercial Web
site, I'm hoping to be able to offer banner ad opportunities. No
"punch the monkey and win," mind you...but job openings, stations for
sale, and equipment vendors interested in reaching the thousands of
you in the Northeast radio community who depend on the information
this column brings you each week. Interested in a charter spot on the
page? E-mail me...
[The NERW archives, as well as station histories, dial pages, tower
photos, historical articles, and much more, will continue to be found
at the Boston/Upstate New York Radio Archives. This column would not
exist in its present form without all the help provided by Archives
creator Garrett Wollman, and I'm hoping to be able to provide much
more new material for the Archives in the months to come. Were the
Archives not hosted at a non-commercial site, these new weekly NERW
Web postings would be there as well. But I digress...]
Second, I'm making an appeal to you, my readers. If you've found NERW
to be of value to you over the past six years, and if you're
financially able to do so, I hope you'll consider making a donation to
help ensure my ability to continue generating this column each week.
Because this mailing list is hosted at a non-commercial site, I'll
leave it at that -- albeit with a strong suggestion to visit fybush.com
later this week or next to learn more about how you can help make sure
NERW is around for a long time to come. (That applies double to
anyone who might have freelance work for yr. humble editor...)
If I leave you with just one thought about what happens next, let it
be this: I'm excited about my future, personally and professionally.
How many people, after all, can say they're truly doing what they
love? I've been fortunate to get to know so many of you, from Timmins
to Stamford and from Bar Harbor to Dunkirk (to Honolulu!), and to
share in the enthusiasm and passion so many still share for this
wonderful medium of broadcasting. I'm hoping this next move in my
life means I can keep sharing NERW with all of you for many years to
come. Wish me luck, won't you?
*And with that, the words I know some of you were afraid might not be
here this time:
See you next week -- here and on fybush.com!
---------------------NorthEast Radio Watch------------------------
(c)2000 Scott Fybush
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