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NERW 1/27: KB Komes Back
--------------------------NorthEast Radio Watch--------------------------
January 27, 2003
IN THIS ISSUE:
*NEW YORK: WWKB Returns to its KB Heritage
*CONNECTICUT: Smith and Barber Hang it Up
*NEW YORK: WNEW Begins its Flip
-----------------------------by Scott Fybush-----------------------------
*FLASH! Just in to NERW Central Thursday afternoon is word that one of
New England's longest running morning teams is no more. Smith and
Barber, of Cox's WPLR (99.1 New Haven), are calling it quits after
more than 18 years at the rock station. Bruce Barber had been looking
at getting out of radio for several months, we're told, and WPLR
management decided not to keep going with just Brian Smith.
Inbound to 'PLR are "Chaz and AJ" from Cox sister station WRCN (103.9
Riverhead) on Long Island; they'll work with the rest of the Smith and
Barber morning team when they start on WPLR in mid-February.
Much more in next Monday's NERW...
*To the strains of Don McLean's American Pie, a legend returned to the
airwaves of western NEW YORK this morning at 6.
As first confirmed right here at NERW last week, Entercom pulled the
plug on the ratings-challenged business talk format that had been
occupying the 50,000 watts of Buffalo's WWKB (1520), returning the
erstwhile WKBW to the music that made it great - the hits (don't call
them "oldies" these days) of 1958 through 1973.
And what a way to do it - complete with ads in the Buffalo News, a
spiffy new Web site at www.kb1520.com, plenty of cross-promotion on
Entercom sister stations WGR (550) and WBEN (930), including 90
minutes' worth of Friday's Sandy Beach (himself a 'KB alumnus) talk
show on 'BEN, and a lineup of talent that Buffalo radio history buffs
have long fantasized of reuniting at the top of the dial.
Anchoring the revitalized 'KB, as long rumored, is Danny Neaverth, a
morning fixture on the original 'KB from 1963 until its 1988 demise -
and joining him on the 6-10 AM shift is Tom Donahue with
"Pulse...Beat....NEWS." On afternoons is Hank Nevins, who followed
Neaverth out the door at Citadel's oldies WHTT (104.1) last year, and
holding down the 6-10 PM shift by voicetrack from his home base at
WMQX (93.1 Winston-Salem NC) is none other than "Your
LeeeeeeeeeeeeDER," the legendary Jackson Armstrong. Completing the
initial lineup is Joey Reynolds' overnight talk show - and Reynolds,
who worked at 'KB in 1964-1965, will do his show live from Buffalo
NERW WEB EXTRA: Visit fybush.com for an exclusive 8-minute sample of
the start of the new 'KB!
It's an ambitious effort to breathe life into a signal that's been
dormant for more than a decade, long enough for a new generation of
Buffalo radio listeners to forget about all the magic that happened at
But Entercom has a few things going for it: the relatively stable
population base in Buffalo means there are still hundreds of thousands
of people in town who grew up with 'KB as a part of their lives and
will at least sample the new version; the decline of Citadel's WHTT,
which inexplicably let Neaverth go last year, opening the door to the
possibility of a 'KB return; and of course the massive 1520 signal,
still one of the very best in Buffalo (and Rochester) and of course
still widely heard across the Northeast after dark, especially in New
York City, where the old 'KB was the only source for rock and roll on
Sunday nights well into the early seventies.
And how excited is Neaverth about the return? The oft-delayed morning
man was not only on time for his debut show...we hear he showed up 20
minutes early! (The stories about Neaverth's morning tardiness rival
those about Boston's WBZ and the late Carl deSuze, but we digress...)
We'll be watching (and listening to) 'KB closely over the next few
months to see whether Entercom can sustain the initial buzz that
surrounds the relaunch. Stay tuned!
*Just when we thought 'KB's return would be the week's big story out
of New York, though, the message boards began crackling early Monday
morning with news that Infinity's WNEW (102.7 New York) was finally
waking from its slumber and heading for a new format.
WNEW's hot talk format has been on the endangered list, of course,
since last summer's suspension of the station's flagship talk hosts,
Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia. With the duo off the roster,
WNEW has been limping along with syndicated talk, a deliberately
weakened morning show (so as not to challenge Infinity sister WXRK and
Howard Stern), Ron and Fez in the evening and plenty of infomercials.
Monday morning at 1:00, though, that mess of a non-format was abruptly
replaced by Jennifer Lopez' "Jenny from the Block" and an announcement
(on the air and on the station's Web site) that a new station was on
the way to 102.7.
That, in turn, is sparking a new round of rumors in the nation's
biggest market - will WNEW go to a female-leaning AAA-ish AC format,
as message-board guru Allan Sniffen declared he'd been tipped last
week? Will it fill the gaping hole in the country format? Or will
Infinity shift 102.7 in some completely different direction? We'll
have all the latest developments right here at NERW and fybush.com
just as soon as anything happens - which, given the history of the
station, could be later tonight or six months from now...
Meanwhile, the general manager of WNEW and sister WINS (1010 New York)
has some additional duties: Scott Herman has been promoted to market
manager for all of Infinity's New York properties, which puts him in
charge of sports WFAN (660), all-news WCBS (880), WXRK (92.3) and
is-it-still-oldies WCBS-FM (101.1) as well. Nothing like a good
Congratulations to Ithaca's WHCU (870), which celebrated its 80th
anniversary last week. The station started down the road in Elmira as
WESG, owned jointly by Cornell University and the Elmira Star-Gazette;
it moved to Ithaca under sole Cornell ownership in the thirties and
didn't enter private hands until just a decade or so ago.
One more tiny Buffalo item: W15BH (Channel 15) changed calls last week
to WBNF-CA; when last we checked, the station was still relaying the
TCT religious programs of WNYB (Channel 26) from Jamestown.
New York was one of the few states where nobody could see the Super
Bowl in digital form; amazingly, not one of the Empire State's ABC
affiliates has its DTV signal on the air yet! Only a few viewers in
the Albany area had a chance to see ABC's DTV presentation from San
Diego, thanks to the signal of WCDC-DT (Channel 36) from Adams,
Massachusetts, which beat its parent station (WTEN Albany) to the
digital airwaves - and which was picked up on Albany's cable system
for game day.
And we're sorry to report the passing of Gene Collins, who spent
twenty years at WTEN (Channel 10), moving all the way up from
cameraman to station manager. Collins died January 18 at age 66; his
son, Scott Collins, is an executive with Anastos Media's Albany-market
stations (WABY, WUAM, WVKZ).
*Some news from mid-MAINE that came as a bit of a surprise last week:
after more years of FM simulcasts than we can remember, WEZW (1400
Augusta) and WTVL (1490 Waterville) are doing their own thing on the
AM dial. WEZW was simulcasting CHR "Moose" WMME (92.3), while WTVL
relayed country "B98" WEBB (98.5), but now Citadel has the two AM
stations doing standards as "Kool."
*Speaking of simulcasts, the rumor came true last Thursday in VERMONT:
the country format on WCVR-FM (102.1) in Randolph came to an end,
replaced by a simulcast of classic rock WCPV (101.3 Essex NY) from the
Burlington market. The move puts "Champ" on the air everywhere from
Plattsburgh, N.Y. to the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire,
where WCVR has a translator at 102.3.
*The only news from NEW HAMPSHIRE this week is solely for the hardest
of hard-core radio geeks: WKNE-FM (103.7) Keene is now WKNE(FM),
thanks to the call change of its AM sister at 1290 to WKBK.
*Down in MASSACHUSETTS, fans of the big-band swing sound of WCRN (830
Worcester) could soon get a stronger signal to enjoy after dark.
Already blasting out 50 kilowatts over central and eastern
Massachusetts by day, WCRN last week applied to boost its night power
from 5000 to 50,000 watts, which will make the station a 24-hour
presence in most of the Boston metro.
The move will require the construction of a fourth tower at WCRN's
current site; we'll keep you posted as it makes its way through the
Over in Boston, WJMN (94.5) wants to make a minor change, switching
antennas on the "FM 128" tower in Newton. The move 29 meters up the
tower (to 353 meters above average terrain) will require a power drop
from 11.5 kW to 9.3 kW.
And we're sorry to report the death on January 22 of Gary Marder, who
had been general manager of Entravision's WUNI (Channel 27 Worcester),
Boston's Univision affiliate.
*A few Radio People on the Move in CONNECTICUT: Gina J is out of her
afternoon shift at Clear Channel CHR WKSS (95.7 Hartford) because of
budget cuts; also exiting there is night guy Diego.
Down the hallway at WHCN (105.9 Hartford), morning co-host Teresa
Berry is leaving voluntarily - she's rejoining former co-host Eddie
Davis in mornings at WIXM (97.3 Millville) in southern NEW JERSEY
beginning February 3.
*The talent keeps on spinning in PENNSYLVANIA's biggest market: Mike
Rossi has departed the morning shift at WPTP (96.5), with Dave Cruise
moving from afternoons to join Charlie Max on wakeup duty at the
station, which has been the target of intense format-change rumors.
Over in the Harrisburg market, oldies WHBO (92.7 Starview) wants to
drop power but raise its antenna at its current site. From its current
1400 watts at 208 meters, WHBO would move to 281 meters with 750
watts, with hopes of putting more signal over the hills and into
Way out in western Pennsylvania, the Cambridge Community Radio
Association has been granted a 100-watt LPFM in Cambridge Springs, at
92.9 on the dial.
And Uniontown's WMBS (590) flipped this morning, ditching oldies for
*Yet another AM station will soon disappear from the airwaves in
eastern CANADA. The CRTC last week granted CFJR (830 Brockville) a
move to the FM dial, where it will run 5600 watts at 104.9.
The CHUM-owned station won the FM frequency over the protests of the
CBC, which has long had that channel on its long-term plan to bring
Radio Two service to Brockville. The CRTC notes that several other
frequencies are available for that purpose, and that Brockville
already gets Radio Two service from Ottawa (CBOQ 103.3) and Kingston
(CBBK 92.9 - incorrectly identified in the CRTC release as "107.5,"
which is the CBC's Radio One frequency there.)
Speaking of Ottawa, NewCap is staffing up its new CIHT (89.9), which
is already on the air testing and will soon inaugurate its dance/CHR
format as "The Planet." In addition to PD Rob Mise, new staffers
include morning team Carter Brown (an Ottawa veteran from the old CJSB
540), Sandra Plagakis (from Toronto's CFNY) and newsguy Andrew Boyle
(from Halifax's Q104). Amy Ballard, who had been doing overnights at
CJMJ (100.3), also joins the new station.
Down in the Toronto market, Kenny Caughlin's short-term contract to do
afternoons at "Country 95.3" (CING 95.3 Hamilton) isn't being renewed,
reports Milkman Unlimited.
*And repeating the K-Big Story of the Moment: Buffalo's KB Radio is
back on the air! (Sorry, we just couldn't resist...)
-----------------------NorthEast Radio Watch------------------------
(c)2003 Scott Fybush
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