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NERW 1/22: 10 PM News War Rages in Buffalo
--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
January 22, 2001
IN THIS ISSUE:
*NEW YORK: 10 PM News Wars in Buffalo
*MASSACHUSETTS: WHAI is Sold
*CANADA: The Shoe Drops at CHUM
-----------------------------by Scott Fybush-----------------------------
*A week ago, there was no local newscast at 10 PM in Buffalo. A week
from today, there will be two.
One, as we've known for a while now, will be on channel 23. That's
the former public TV WNEQ, which is now in the process of being taken
over by LIN Broadcasting's CBS affiliate, WIVB-TV (Channel 4). At the
moment, WNEQ programming consists of just a slate advertising the
January 29 debut of the WIVB-produced 10 PM newscast, along with the
station's new call letters, WNLO. (Check out the Web edition of NERW
at fybush.com to see the WNLO slate.)
But while WIVB was making its plans to launch WNLO next week, one of
its competitors decided there was no point waiting. We knew Gannett
was working on a news alliance with Pax affiliates in its markets
(NERW, 10/23/2000), but we didn't realize it would result in a 10 PM
show on WPXJ-TV (Channel 51), the Batavia-licensed Pax outlet that
covers Buffalo and Rochester.
That's just what WPXJ and Gannett's WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) decided to do,
though, with the show launching last Friday (Jan. 18) on just a few
hours' notice. WGRZ anchor Victoria Hong, sportscaster Ed Kilgore and
meteorologist Kevin O'Connell anchor the new broadcast. Hong is also
the co-anchor at 6 and 11, though WGRZ officials say they'll decide
this week whether she'll keep all three shifts permanently.
As for WIVB and WNLO, here's what we know so far: WIVB weekend anchor
Lisa Flynn will anchor WNLO's 10 PM news, with meteorologist Don Paul
adding the 10 o'clock show to his duties. WNLO will rebroadcast
WIVB's morning "Wake Up!" show from 8-9 AM weekdays, followed by
Martha Stewart. "Access Hollywood" will kick off WNLO's evening
schedule at 7, followed by "Entertainment Studios," "Queen Latifah"
and "Oprah" (a rebroadcast of the afternoon WIVB showing).
After the news at 10 will come a replay of "Inside Edition," "Three
Stooges" reruns," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," a repeat of the 10 PM
news, and then into home shopping overnight.
The 10 PM wars leave two contestants on the sidelines: ABC affiliate
WKBW-TV (Channel 7), which was to have bought UPN affiliate WNGS
(Channel 67) last year, and the Sinclair duopoly of WUTV (29, Fox) and
WNYO-TV (49, WB). Will either one try to enter the market with news
at 10 now? This promises to be most interesting to watch...
(Special thanks to NERW reader Sean Healy for grabbing that WNEQ/WNLO
slate for us to pass along to you at fybush.com...)
*Moving eastward in NEW YORK, the Buffalo Bills will have a new radio
home in the Flower City. After years with Clear Channel's WHAM
(1180), the team's games will move next season to Infinity rocker WCMF
The WHAM folks tell the local papers that the Bills wanted too much
for the rights, and NERW suspects WCMF was willing to pay the extra
fees to add another NFL team to Mel Karmazin's growing collection of
FM football outlets.
The Bills are already on FM (Citadel's WGRF 96.9) in their hometown,
and they've had plenty of prior contact with WCMF; the station had a
heavy promotional presence at Bills training camp here in Rochester
On the TV side of things in Rochester, another longtime relationship
is being disrupted: veteran news anchor Gabe Dalmath and WHEC-TV
(Channel 10). Dalmath, whose quarter-century run at WHEC puts him
behind only WOKR's Don Alhart in the longevity race, was moved off the
5:30 and 11 PM newscasts last week, with relative newcomer Brian
Martin taking over the anchor chair for those shows. Dalmath remains
on the 6:00 show with longtime co-anchor Janet Lomax, and he's telling
other local media outlets that he's happy to have the chance to do
more reporting -- but to NERW, it sure looks like a move towards a
younger anchor presence to go with WHEC's crop of young reporters.
Dalmath started at WHEC, by the way, as a weekend anchor in the
mid-seventies, moving up to the weekday chair a few years later when
Mark Wolf left WHEC for WROC-TV (Channel 8). Sportscaster Rich Funke
has been on the set with him almost all that time (save for a brief
departure for bigger markets), and Lomax has also put in two decades
at 191 East Avenue. Think Rochester's resistant to change?
(It looks like one long-anticipated change could be happening soon: a
visit to the Ackerley corporate Web site turned up a new logo for
WOKR. The site had earlier displayed a WOKR logo done up in the
beig, black and red of Ackerley's WIXT Syracuse, WIVT Binghamton and
WUTR Utica, but that logo was never put into service at WOKR. This
red, white and blue version looks like it's for real, though it's yet
to make an on-air appearance. While we were at it, we turned up "new"
logos for a few more recent Ackerley acquisitions: WETM Elmira;
WBGH-LP Binghamton, whose current logo reflects its LPTV on-air
assignment of channel 8, soon to be displaced to 20, while the "new"
version shows cable channel 5; and WWTI Watertown. As far as we know,
none of the new ones are in use on the air right now. You can see
the new ones and the old ones at <http://www.fybush.com>)
One big radio move this week in the Flower City: After four years at
Infinity, Dave Symonds is making the trip across Chestnut Street. The
former WRMM (101.3) PD joins Entercom/Rochester today (Jan. 22),
serving as operations manager of all four stations (oldies WBBF AM-FM,
country WBEE-FM and 80s WBZA) and as program director for WBZA. In
his role as OM, Symonds replaces Fred Horton (who still hasn't been
replaced on the WBEE morning show, though we hear 'BEE veteran Bill
Coffey was back for a visit last week). In his role as "Buzz" PD,
he'll get to turn the station from a jukebox into, well, an actual
station. Best of luck!
Next stop: Syracuse, and a peculiar filing from the Syracuse Community
Radio folks. Remember them -- the ones trying to get into the Salt
City by way of rimshot FMs and translators, feeding their one station
(WXXE 90.5 Fenner) by a cruddy-sounding mono phone line? Seems their
other full-power CP, WXXC 88.7 Truxton, was expiring last week
(Jan. 14). Sure enough, an application was filed with the FCC for a
license to cover for the station on January 16.
There's just one problem: as best NERW can figure out, WXXC hasn't
actually been built yet. We'll be piloting the NERW-mobile out that
way later this week to see what, if anything, now exists at the site
in northern Cortland County, but we know that WXXE's not mentioning
anything about WXXC on the air (at least not during our Webcast
listening over the weekend), nor has anyone out that way heard a
signal on 88.7.
Did SCR in fact submit a license to cover for a station that hasn't
been built yet? This has the potential to get very complicated
indeed, and we'll be here with updates as soon as we learn more.
A few more radio notes before we leave the Finger Lakes: NERW was
listening to the Bush inauguration on the car radio Saturday
afternoon, and we were mighty pleased to hear the broadcast on one
unexpected source: in addition to the usual AM news-talk and NPR
suspects, the religious Mars Hill network (WMHR 102.9 Syracuse, WMHN
89.3 Webster-Rochester, WMHI 94.7 Cape Vincent) broke format to take
the feed from Washington.
And how's this for irony: a minute or two before noon, Rochester's
WXXI (1370) broke into the NPR feed for a quick station ID. It's nice
to see a station going the extra mile to obey the rules...except that,
first of all, the ID rules contain a very clear exception for
long-form programming and event coverage that runs over the top of the
hour; and, second, the ID that ran was the same one WXXI always runs
("WXXI AM Rochester and WXXI-dot-o-r-g"), which isn't, technically
speaking, legal! ("AM" is not part of WXXI's calls, and the only
things they're supposed to be inserting between "WXXI" and "Rochester"
would be the station's frequency or the name of the licensee.)
Technicalities? Yeah...but that's what we're all about here at NERW!
A few stations that we'd have thought *would* be carrying the Bush
festivities stayed with regular programming instead, including the
Finger Lakes News Network (WGVA Geneva et al) and Ithaca's WHCU.
One more Syracuse note: Geoff Miskinis is out as promotions director
at Cox CHR WWHT (107.9).
Up in Watertown, Tiger Eye Broadcasting is selling WBQZ-LP (Channel
34) to Anthony DiMarcantonio. We wonder if Tiger Eye has any plans
for Rochester's W47BM, which was on the air about three years ago with
color bars, very briefly, and has been dark ever since.
In the Mohawk Valley, there's been a petition to deny filed against
the sale of WLFH (1230 Little Falls) and WOWZ/WOWB to Clear Channel.
The big news in Albany is in mornings at WPYX (106.5), where the
five-month experiment with a two-city morning show is over. Bob Wolf
and John Mulrooney had been doing their show from Cleveland's WMMS
(100.7) since the summer, trying to serve listeners in both cities at
This past week, Wolf (real name, Bob Wohlfeld) returned home to Albany
as a solo act. The reason? According to the Albany Times-Union and
media reporter Mark McGuire (one of the best in the region, by the
way), Wolf is reuniting with the wife he divorced two years ago. The
couple remarried New Year's Eve, and now Wolf is back home at WPYX,
while Mulrooney stays in Cleveland at 'MMS.
WPYX is now trying to sort out what becomes of the sidekicks: Ellen
Z., who moved from Albany to Cleveland, is expected to stay there with
Three more Albany tidbits, with thanks to McGuire: WPYX PD John Cooper
adds operations manager duties at new sister station WGY, while WRVE
(99.5 Schenectady) OM Randy McCarten takes on the same duties at
WTRY-FM (98.3) to replace Cooper there. And there are four finalists
for Donn Rogosin's old job running public broadcaster WMHT: Carole
Cartwright (late of WYCC-TV 20 in Chicago), Richard Lehner of WUFT in
Gainesville, Florida, Russell Peotter of Maine Public Broadcasting,
and Deborah Onslow, GM at Springfield PBS station WGBY (and an alumna
of WXXI here in Rochester).
Up in the Saratoga Springs/Glens Falls area, WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury)
has filed to make the move from its current transmitter site on Grant
Mountain, where it's been fighting a lengthy battle with the
neighbors. WNYQ will be (or may in fact already be) operating from
Prospect Mountain to the north of town, home to WCKM (98.5 Lake
George) and WKBE (100.3 Warrensburg). The Vox-owned AC station added
a new air talent: Jackie Donovan joins "Wink" for middays, from the
same shift at crosstown WQAR (Star 101.3).
*It's been all sales, all the time in MASSACHUSETTS, with the latest
FCC filing late last week showing Greenfield's WHAI (1240/98.3)
passing from the Haigis family to Saga Communications. WHAI had
earlier been rumored to be going to Connriver, but that deal never
came to fruition.
WHAI will give Saga a northern arm to its Pioneer Valley cluster,
which now includes Springfield rocker WAQY (102.1), news-talk AM duo
WHMP (1400 Northampton) and WHNP (1600 East Longmeadow), and active
rock WLZX (99.3 Northampton). We suspect a WHMP simulcast is in the
cards for AM 1240 once this deal is complete. As for the FM, it faces
off against Vox's WRSI and WPVQ, which are just a week or so away from
their big frequency swap. More on the Saga/WHAI deal in next week's
We can tell you much more about two of the deals that broke just in
time for last week's issue. Mark down $11 million as the price Salem
is paying for Carter Broadcasting's WROL (950 Boston)...and we'll call
it a nice reward for the quarter-century or so that Ken Carberry and
family have tended the 5 kW (90 watts after dark) signal from the
Saugus marshlands. (And indeed, we hear the senior Carberry is taking
a well-deserved Florida vacation!)
Carter keeps WCRN (830 Worcester) with its new big signal and swing
format, as well as WRIB (1220 Providence) and WACE (730 Chicopee), at
least for now.
Clear Channel, meanwhile, is paying $10 million for Framingham's WKOX
(1200), though Mays & Co. will no doubt be spending a bit more to
build out the station's CP to go to 50 kW from the WUNR site in
Newton, not to mention the cost of fighting community opposition to
the construction of new towers in that very residential area.
Disney's WMKI (1260 Boston) has been granted its CP for a slight move
of its towers -- though we were quite amused to note that the grant,
at least in the FCC's CDBS database, still carries a rather major
typo: the day facility is shown at "41" degrees north instead of 42,
which puts it in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere off Martha's Vineyard
instead of in the Quincy marshes.
The Allston-Brighton Free Radio folks checked in to let us know
they're now streaming live audio at their Web site
<http://www.abfreeradio.org>, in addition to their on-air offerings at
1630 and 1670 AM and their Saturday night WJIB (740 Cambridge)
TV news: Chet Curtis is leaving WCVB (Channel 5) after a career there
that began the same day the station did, March 19, 1972. The veteran
anchor isn't going very far, though: just around the corner to New
England Cable News, where he takes over the anchor spot for
"NewsNight." (NECN is part-owned by WCVB parent Hearst-Argyle, so the
move is all in the family.)
NERW notes that the "NewsNight" chair is becoming something of a
landing pad for Boston anchors: former WHDH-TV anchors R.D. Sahl and
Margie Reedy have both spent time there as well!
An overdue correction: when we said Hartford's WHCT was the last
remaining call from the pioneer UHF days in New England, we forgot two
things. First, WHCT wasn't the original call on channel 18 (it was
WGTH initially), and second, Springfield's WWLP actually holds pride
of place for keeping the same call on UHF the longest. It's had the
same call letters since day one back in 1953, though it's migrated
down the dial from channel 61 to channel 22 in the intervening years.
*Down in RHODE ISLAND, the weekly local talk show on public radio WRNI
(1290 Providence) and WXNI (1230 Westerly) has become a daily
fixture. "One Union Station" is named for the station's new studio
space near the Providence train depot, and it's now heard in place of
Talk of the Nation weekdays from 2-4 PM on both stations. (As for the
rumors that it may bump ToTN off parent station WBUR Boston as well?
We're hearing that from several sources...)
*NEW HAMPSHIRE's public radio network is getting ready to make some
big changes. In February, WEVO (89.1 Concord) and its relays around
the Granite State say they'll soon drop classical music from the
daily schedule. In its place will be more news and talk, including an
as-yet unnamed new daily news and features show hosted by New
Hampshire Public Radio's John Walters.
NHPR officials say the change comes for two reasons: first, because
the network is New Hampshire's only statewide radio voice and needs to
be more attentive to state issues, and second, because classical music
is becoming widely available through satellite radio and the Web.
The new schedule, at least as it appears on NHPR's Web site, remains
incomplete, but it looks as though the big changes will be the new
program at 6:30 nightly, the replacement of afternoon classical with
Talk of the Nation and The World, and the replacement of NPR's
Performance Today with Diane Rehm. The weekend Folk Show will
continue, NHPR says.
We'll see if the NHPR moves prompt anything like the outcry being
raised in MAINE against that state's public radio transition. About
thirty Maine Public Radio listeners turned out for last Tuesday's
trustees meeting to air their grievances about MPR's decision to put
news and talk in place of classical music on weekday afternoons (not
to mention cancelling the Metropolitan Opera on Sundays.)
MPR officials say 58 members have cancelled since the changes were
announced, and comments from the public so far are running at 1500
against and just 91 in favor of the changes. The trustees say they're
reluctant to interfere with programming matters, but MPR executives
say they're reviewing all the comments.
A few more quick notes from up north: $175,000 is the price Richard
Thau's Mid-Maine Media gets for WDME-FM (103.1 Dover-Foxcroft), and
the buyer? We should have remembered that "Zone Corp." is the name
under which Stephen King does radio business, which means WDME will
join Bangor's WZON (620) and WKIT (100.3 Brewer) in the King empire.
A big Granite State apology to "Sammie" of WJYY (105.5 Concord) fame,
who is of the female persuasion, no matter what pronoun we used in
last week's issue. While we're at the Vox cluster, we'll note that
Ouellette is the correct spelling of Steve's last name, and Al Ponelet
remains production director at both WJYY and WNHI (93.3 Belmont).
We're hearing that Vox will be buying WLPL (96.3 Walpole NH), which is
simulcasting the oldies of WWOD (104.3 Hartford VT). We're also
hearing that WWOD's PD and morning guy, Ted Bilodeau, is looking for a
*Just one little note from PENNSYLVANIA this week: that CP for 96.1 in
South Waverly (just over the state line from Waverly, New York, about
halfway between Binghamton and Elmira) is being transferred from
Maureen Furiosi to "Fitzgerald and Hawras, Partnership." It's got
calls now, too: WMTG. No word on a format or sign-on date.
*The big buzz in CANADA this week came from a rumor that's been making
the rounds for a long time now: a format change at Toronto's legendary
CHUM (1050) -- except this time it looks like the change is really
going to happen.
After decades as the top-40 giant in Toronto, CHUM went to oldies,
largely automated, a few years back. Now reports in the Toronto
papers say the station will flip to sports in April, challenging
Telemedia's "Fan 590" CJCL for the format. (And guess who already has
Blue Jays broadcast rights?)
* * * *
LATE UPDATE: Just hours after this week's NERW was posted to fybush.com
Sunday night, CHUM announced that there will indeed be a switch to
sports in a few months -- and not just at 1050 CHUM. The CHUM Group
will flip most of its AM properties to the new "Team" sports network,
including CKLC (1380) in Kingston (where several staffers were
laid off this week), CKPT (1420) in Peterborough, and more.
Much more on the big changes there -- and perhaps at a Toronto rival
-- in next week's NERW!
* * * * *
It looks like music on AM is rapidly becoming a thing of the past in
Canada; just east of Toronto, Corus is planning to dump the satellite
oldies on CKDO (1350 Oshawa) next month in favor of news and talk, at
least partially local, while out in Vancouver, we understand "LG73,"
one of the last big AM top-40 stations out there, will soon change
calls from CKLG to CJWX. The format will flip to talk, to complement
Rogers sister station CKWX (1130), which is all-news. Truly the end
of an era...
*And on that note, we may as well announce the beginning of an era!
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E-mail email@example.com with your (50 word or less) ad, and
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The NERW Classifieds are on-line now at
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who's buying, selling, and hiring!
(And don't forget that Wednesday is Tower Site of the Week day; this
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The Classifieds are just one of the many new features we're looking
forward to providing here at fybush.com; thanks again for all your
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underwriting thanks this week to our good friends at Aritaur and
WMVY/Martha's Vineyard for their significant contribution to NERW!)
*That's it for another seven days here at NERW. See you next week!
-----------------------NorthEast Radio Watch------------------------
(c)2001 Scott Fybush
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