Veteran newsman Walt Dibble died on Monday at age 67. Dibble had worked in Connecicut radio for 49 years, the last 20 of them at WTIC in Hartford.
Dibble's career began in 1948 at Stamford's WSTC (1400), and included stints at WICC (600) in Bridgeport and WAVZ (1300) in New Haven, as well as a lengthy stay at Hartford's WDRC (1360/102.9). Dibble came to WTIC as news director in 1977, replacing NBC's hourly news with local news at the top and bottom of the hour.
Dibble won a national award from the RTNDA for his investigative reporting, as well as awards from Ohio State University in 1981 and from the Connecticut AP Broadcasters Association (the Abrams award for excellence in radio journalism) in 1995.
Radio reporters all over New England knew Dibble as someone who was always willing to provide news sound out of Hartford, and to lend advice and job tips to those new to the business. In addition to his work at WTIC, Dibble was also an instructor at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and at Southern Connecticut State University.
Dibble had been battling leukemia for some time before his death, and had just returned to work at WTIC (although not yet to the air) when he died.
He's survived by three sons (including Fox sportscaster and former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Rob Dibble) and three daughters, and by his wife, Barbara.
In this era of shuttered radio newsrooms, Walt Dibble was one of the few remaining giants in the business. He will be sorely missed.
Just to the north in Springfield, AC WMAS-FM jumped more than two points for an impressive #1 finish, closely trailed by rocker WAQY-FM, also up almost two points (add in WAQY(AM)'s simulcast and WAQY takes first place). Big droppers include country WPKX, last book's #1, down almost two points to third place. WHYN(AM) and WHYN-FM each dropped more than a point while remaining fourth and fifth.
In upstate New York, Buffalo's 12+ numbers were led by an incredible gain for classic rock WGRF, shooting up more than three points to jump from seventh to first. WGRF was also tops among 25-54 and 18-34 listeners. Also up in a big way was urban WBLK, for a solid number two, followed by AC WJYE, news-talk WBEN(AM), and country WYRK. AAA WLCE made big gains in its first full book as "Alice," adding nearly two points for an eleventh-place finish 12+, and fifth in the key 18-34 numbers.
Moving down the Thruway, Rochester's WBEE regained its number-one spot 12+, picking up more than two points from the winter book to beat out a resurgent news-talk WHAM (up half a point) and CHR WPXY, down a fraction. Also down were WPXY's ARS stablemates, AC WRMM at fourth and rocker WCMF at fifth. Oldies WKLX lost more than a point after going satellite this spring, while the big success story was ARS' new modern AC WZNE, which finished its first full book with a very respectable 3.2, good enough for tenth place. Not coincidentally, Jacor's AAA entry, WMAX, was down nearly a point finishing down in the #13 spot. WBEE owned the 25-54 demo, with WPXY taking top place among listeners 18-34.
In Albany, country WGNA kept its number-one crown among 12+ and 25-54 listeners. CHR WFLY and news-talk WGY tied for second 12+, with former number-two AC WYJB falling to fourth (although it's still second 25-54). The big gainers were oldies WTRY AM/FM and hot AC WKLI/WKBE, both up a point or so. And talker WQBK(AM) jumped slightly in its last book before changing to sports WTMM.
One of the translators allegedly controlled by Brian Dodge has applied for an ownership change. W259AB (99.7 Marlboro VT) is owned by Rothschild Broadcasting, which until recently owned WVAY (100.7 Wilmington) as well. Now it's applied to transfer the license to "Friends of WHAZ," notwithstanding that WHAZ in Troy has notified W259AB and Dodge's other translators that they're no longer authorized to relay WHAZ after July 31. Curious and curiouser...
Up in the Burlington market, WXPS (96.7 Vergennes) is not only running sports talk, it's doing it as a simulcast! WEAV (960) across the lake in Plattsburgh NY is now relaying the WXPS sports-talk. The classical music and new calls have started up on WCVT (101.7 Stowe), while classical competitor WMEX (102.5 Westport NY) has now established a web presence. You can find them at http://expage.com/page/wmex if you're curious.
And in response to our editorial outburst last week about the demise of radio news, Shirley Wolf up at Woodstock's WMXR (93.9) checked in to let us know that she's been trying to hire a newsperson and can't find one. We might be inclined to see this as evidence that the closure of all those small-market newsrooms has shrunk the available pool of news talent; in any event, any out-of-work newspeople out there should give Shirley a call.
That 88.1 application we mentioned last week for New Bedford MA is proposing to transmit from the WJFD (97.3) site on Sconticut Neck in Fairhaven; how that could ever co-exist with WLNE-TV (Channel 6) is beyond us.
You can't keep a good set of call letters down...or even a pretty mediocre set. Case in point: WBVD, the calls that graced Beverly's AM 1570 between its glory days as WMLO and its current incarnation as WNSH. Dormant since the late 80s, the WBVD calls have reappeared at 95.1 in Melbourne FL, the erstwhile WGGD-FM.
Radio people on the move: Congratulations to Warren Lada, general manager of Springfield rocker WAQY (102.1/1600). Group owner Saga Communications has promoted him to Vice President of Operations, working out of the corporate offices in Michigan. Larry Goldberg moves up from general sales manager to GM at Rock 102. Congrats as well to Dave Mager, weekend sports anchor and producer at WBZ (1030), as he moves to CBS sister station WBBM (780) in Chicago.
And our best wishes go out to Kirby Perkins, veteran political reporter at Boston's WCVB-TV (Channel 5), who suffered a massive heart attack while playing tennis on Monday and is now in a coma. Perkins is married to Emily Rooney, the WGBH-TV "Greater Boston" anchor/producer who's also a former WCVB news director and ABC "World News Tonight" executive producer. Editor's note: We are saddened to learn that Kirby Perkins died late Thursday night after three days in coma. He is survived by his wife and only daughter.
On the ever-popular religious translator front, a NERW field trip to Buffalo earlier this week gave us the questionable privilege of hearing W201BE, the Buffalo translator of KAWZ Twin Falls ID. It gets out...and out...and out; we were hearing it almost all the way east to Batavia, some 25 miles out of Buffalo. Not bad for an alleged 10 watts! It gets a good fight from Family Life's WCOU (88.3 Warsaw), which has a very good signal in Buffalo's eastern suburbs. Family Life's translator app for 107.5 Greece NY (relaying WCIY 88.9 Canandaigua from the WRMM/WKLX/WDCZ-FM tower on Rochester's west side) has been dismissed. St. Lawrence University, operator of WSLU 89.5 Canton NY and a host of relays across the North Country, has filed a petition to deny against KLVC Magalia CA's 89.5 translator app in Watertown. And the folks at WVOA (105.1 DeRuyter-Syracuse) just keep submitting translator applications; the latest is for 101.5 in Wampsville NY, which is just a nice way of saying Oneida, some 25 miles east of Syracuse (and well within the WVOA listening area when last we drove through).
Steve Medicis checked in with some Syracuse news, including word that WOLF (1490) has finished putting up its new tower. WLTI (105.9) has yet to install its new antenna on the WOLF stick, and is still using its temporary facility at 989 James Street. Don Imus' show returns to upstate New York on Monday, replacing Steve Czaban's sports show on WHEN (620) in Syracuse. Rochester-area listeners who used to catch Imus on WHTK (1280) and WHRR (93.3 Avon; now WQRV) will also be able to hear the I-Man on the powerful 620 signal after sunrise. Oswego's WZOS (96.7) has a carrier back up, and will presumably be modulating it with some sort of programming within a couple of weeks to keep its license (it had been dark since last August).
Still more Syracuse gleanings, this time from the FCC: Syracuse Community Radio has applied for two facilities, a 90.3 in Cleveland NY (on the north shore of Oneida Lake, a good 20 miles from downtown Syracuse) and a 90.5 in Fenner NY. We had to search a bit to find Fenner; our DeLorme software gave us a hamlet called "Fenner" just down the road in the Rochester area -- but the Census Bureau tells us there is indeed a place called "Fenner" with all of 1694 people, way up there in the hills south of Chittenango, and 25 miles or so east of Syracuse. We wish the Syracuse Community Radio folks well, but we're not sure who these signals could actually serve, especially with co-channel WBXL (90.5 Baldwinsville), and eventually SUNY Oswego's WRVD (90.3 Syracuse), if it ever finds a tower site.
The application for 90.7 in Lancaster NY (outside Buffalo) by Holy Family Communications has been reinstated at the FCC, but no such luck for the former 94.9 WVZC Montauk NY. The construction permit was never built, and it was deleted earlier this year. WVZC's permittee, Women in Broadcasting, petitioned for reconsideration and was denied, and then applied for review of the decision. Now that too has been denied, and it's safe to say WVZC won't be coming to an eastern Long Island radio dial near you any time soon.
And that's it for another exciting week in Northeast radio! See you again next Thursday...