In MAINE, Bonnie Grant is leaving her post as general manager of WPOR (101.9/1490 Portland) after years with the station. Saga told staffers this week that it plans to move WPOR out of its current home on Baxter Blvd. and into the building at 420 Western Ave. in South Portland that now houses Saga's other Portland outlets, WGAN, WZAN, WMGX, and WYNZ. As part of the process, Saga market manager Cary Pahigian adds GM responsibilities for WPOR -- which left Grant with the choice of the sales manager job she held before becoming GM, or a departure for other work.
We're told Saga will convert a storage area in the rear of the building to offices to replace those being converted to WPOR's studios.
Meantime, the rest of the Saga stations are getting a new news and programming coordinator. Doug Tribeau joins the group to replace departed news director Leslie Doppler and WGAN/WZAN PD Dave Winsor (who's still at Western Avenue, but now focused on the WGAN morning show). Tribeau was with Eagle Broadcasting's four-station group (WHCU, WTKO, WYXL, WQNY) in Ithaca, New York.
Up the Maine Turnpike a bit, changes are in the works at Cumulus' Augusta-market group. We're told WKCG (101.3 Augusta) is running promos telling listeners that beginning Monday (3/1), the country format will move to 96.7 and 93.5 FM. The 96.7 is WCME Boothbay Harbor, which has been simulcasting WKCG for several months anyway. The 93.5 is WCTB Fairfield, which had a diverse AC format as "The River," went to all-Christmas music last December, then returned to AC. NERW notes that WCTB wasn't originally included in Cumulus' purchase of sister station WTOS (105.1 Skowhegan) last year. The rumor in the market has 101.3 going CHR as "The Buzz," which if true would set up a most interesting small-market CHR war with established contender WMME (92.3 "The Moose"). More on this one next week...
Quirky Small-Market Format Alert: We're told that since WAYD (105.5 Islesboro) signed on earlier this month, it's been running a live, local (!) classic jazz and big band format. We've gotta hear this one.
Still more departures: After 20 years on the Boston noncommercial radio scene, Greg Reibman hangs up the headphones with a final "Rockin' with Greg" show Saturday morning (2/27) on WMBR (88.1 Cambridge). Reibman is a fixture on the Hub's print scene as well, now serving as deputy managing editor for arts and entertainment at the Herald. Reibman says he wants to spend more time with family; we wish him well (and we'd love to hear from anyone who's able to tape his last show from 10-noon on Saturday!)
And still more departures: We hear the entire sales staff of Alex Langer's WSRO (1470 Marlborough) was shown the door this week, as was morning guy Dave O'Gara. WSRO is reportedly going all-satellite, and we're told things are less than rosy at sister talker WRPT (650 Ashland) as well. As for the rumors that several well-known Boston talkers will return to the airwaves on Langer's 1060 spot when it powers up with 40 kilowatts later this year? We'll keep you posted.
Nobody's leaving WJMN (94.5 Boston), but there are some shift changes in the works over on Bear Hill Road. Ralphie Marino is moving from middays to afternoons on "Jam'n," bumping Lady K to midday duty.
LPTV News: W29BA Lawrence (which we believe is still an unbuilt CP) wants to move to channel 24.
Oh Yeah, We Almost Forgot: It must have something to do with being 300+ miles from Fenway Park, or else we'd have given greater prominence to the deal the Red Sox have reached to put their telecasts this year on WLVI (Channel 56), replacing WABU (Channel 68) as the Sox' flagship. Too bad we don't get WB56 here at NERW Central; we really want to see Clemens pitching at Fenway in pinstripes...
As we'd suspected, Hartford's WPOP (1410) is replacing One-on-One Sports with ESPN Radio. The new format at "ESPN Radio 1410" includes a local show from 4-7 PM hosted by several Hartford Courant sportswriters, along with play-by-play of the Hartford Wolf Pack, New Britain Rock Cats, CCSU Blue Devils basketball, and the New York Yankees.
There's an updated WPOP page <http://www.angelfire.com/biz/sports1410/> already available, thanks to Connecticut radio buff Marc Bramhall. Also on the Web are official pages from Bristol's WPRX, complete with .WAV files of the legal ID and jingles (!), and also from Groton CHR WQGN.
Over at WBLI (106.1 Patchogue), Cox stays within the corporate family by bringing in its PD from sister CHR WWHT (107.9 Syracuse). Less than a year after making "Hot 107.9" his first PD gig, J.J. Rice heads down the Thruway and out the L.I.E. to make his mark on the Nassau/Suffolk market. We're proud to say we "knew him when" (as APD/MD at Rochester's WPXY), and we wish him all the best on the Island.
While we're down in the Big Apple, we can clarify the WLIB situation. There is a night signal now on 1190 from New York, and it's being heard well by NERW readers across New England -- but up here in upstate New York, we're deep in the null. Combined with the WOWO powerdown, that means that all we hear on 1190 up here now is the hash from WHAM next door...but that doesn't stop us from checking back once in a while for, say, Dallas or Guadalajara, just in case.
As we head up I-87 to the Capital District, we'll get off quickly near Kingston to note one more cool thing about the webcast from WDST (100.1 Woodstock). In addition to the live feed of the station itself, they're also putting out a separate feed called Radio Woodstock that's just for the benefit of Web listeners. In a AAA-deprived market like Rochester, the webcasts from stations like WDST, WNCS, KPIG, and WRSI really make a difference...and we've gotta wonder, if Steve Silberberg can do it for WNCS, why not a live feed of Haverhill's WXRV? (Please?)
Up in Albany, the Yankees games dumped from WPTR (96.3 Voorheesville) when it became urban WAJZ have a new home elsewhere in the Albany Broadcasting family. WSRD (104.9 Johnstown, soon to be Altamont) will pick up the Yanks for the Albany area this season.
Albany's modern rocker, WQBK (103.9 Rensselaer)/WQBJ (103.5 Cobleskill), has a new program director. Rod Ryan was assistant PD and afternoon guy at KKND (106.7 Houma LA) in the New Orleans market.
And just what the heck is going on at K100 (WKLI 100.9 Albany/WKBE 100.3 Warrensburg), anyway? We noticed the format was heading pretty heavily towards modern AC when we drove through last week...and now Gavin Burt checks in from our Capital Bureau (just like WRGB, "We're Everywhere!"), to report that the station's now jockless. The last modern AC in the area was the late, lamented, and now-jammin' oldies WXLE (104.5 Mechanicville). K100 is in the process of being sold to Tele-Media; we wonder if this is related somehow.
An LPTV note before we pick up our toll ticket at exit 24 and head west: WMHT's W04BD Glens Falls has applied to move from channel 4 way the heck up to channel 65, another casualty of DTV displacement.
Paying our $6.30 at Victor, we get off the Thruway to find a new positioner for the religious trimulcast on WASB (1590/105.5 Brockport) and WRSB (1310 Canandaigua). "Sunshine Radio Network" is how Dr. Wolfe is now identifying his stations, and the ID mentions the FM for the first time since it signed on late last year (and only a true ID grouch like yours truly would be troubled by the lack of an "-FM" in said ID, something WMAX-FM South Bristol is also failing to do). WASB-FM is due to be sold to Canandaigua's Russ Kimble, and we can only hope he'll do something about the station's audio, which has to be the worst we've ever heard on FM -- there's bound to be something down there beneath the buzzes and squeals, but it's hard to tell!
DTV in Rochester? In our lifetimes? Sure looks that way, as the public broadcasting types over on State Street apply for WXXI-DT on channel 16. On the LPTV end of things, W47BM's color bars have now been gone for two months...and there's still no sign of the east side transmitter WBGT-LP (Channel 40) has been promising, so UPN remains more a myth than a reality here at NERW Central, deep in the RF shadow of Pinnacle Hill. (Actually, given that it's UPN, maybe we're better off that way...)
As for PaxTV, it may yet show up on the UHF loop here. WPXJ-TV (Channel 51) in Batavia, the long-unbuilt Pax CP for Buffalo and Rochester, has applied to change transmitter sites yet again. The latest plan puts the tower just south of Route 63 and not far outside Batavia, giving the 5 megawatt signal about an equal distance (35 miles or so) to both Rochester and Buffalo.
More Rochester stations are diving into the waters of Webcasting. Over at the Rochester Institute of Technology, WITR (89.7 Henrietta) is now available in RealAudio through its site, which has got to win the "ungainly URL of the week award," not to mention taking forever to load up even with the help of the trusty NERW cable modem. On the other hand, WITR at least provides a proper legal ID once an hour, unlike Rochester's first noncomm Webcaster, WBER, and it's a good listen for its blend of modern music and, well, more -- particularly the rap programming in morning drive (whatever wakes you up on the way to work...)
Classical music fans will appreciate the webcast of public radio WXXI-FM that went on line this month. In addition to the usual NPR syndicated fare, WXXI-FM offers lots of locally-produced music programming (check out this Sunday afternoon's Black History Month concert to hear the Mayor of Rochester play the piano with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra) and intelligent music hosts, particularly Simon Pontin in the mornings.
Last but far from least in the Empire State, Buffalo's WNED (970) appears to have been saved from extinction for the moment, but not without creating some friction on the local noncomm scene. The Western New York Public Broadcasting Authority had said WNED's news and talk format was losing money, and had planned to shut down programming, instead simulcasting the NPR news, talk, and jazz from SUNY Buffalo's WBFO (88.7). After the news broke, listeners and the community called on WNED to reconsider, and the station responded by launching a nine-day pledge drive last weekend to raise $150,000 needed to run the AM. WNED raised $70,000 of that in the first two days alone, along with $100,000 in cash and advertising space from the Buffalo News. If the fund drive succeeds, WNED will hire a consultant to examine the AM's future, including the possibility of replacing "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," already heard on WBFO, with local news (which 970 used to run in its WEBR days).
In the meantime, WBFO general manager Jennifer Roth has been publicly critical of her WNED counterpart, Don Boswell. In a Wednesday Buffalo News article, Roth said "a lot of time had been wasted" at WBFO working out a plan (at Boswell's suggestion) to simulcast on 970, only to have WNED withdraw the offer. (In fairness, Boswell walked into a minefield at WNED; he's had to deal with the PR nightmare engendered by the lavish headquarters building that was the final project of his predecessor, as well as delays in the sale of WNEQ-TV, which was to have provided cash to fund WNED's operations and its conversion to DTV.)
In the meantime, Buffalo News readers are greeted daily with an appeal to pledge money to support WNED(AM)'s future. We'll keep you posted on the campaign's progress.
Across the border, the CHR on 92.5 in Toronto is now on its second name in as many weeks. It seems Rogers Broadcasting didn't check to see what nicknames were already in use in the market when it replaced country CISS with CHR "Power" -- and the result was a lawsuit from CKDX (88.5 Newmarket), which has been "Power 88" for two years now. Gone is "Power," in is "Kiss" (or is that "Ciss"?), and if there's confusion with cross-market WKSE ("Kiss 98.5") Niagara Falls-Buffalo, NERW suspects the U.S. Embassy will decline to intervene.
Meanwhile, the strike at the CBC drags on and on, and the effects on the air are quite audible -- lots of repeats on "This Morning" and other national shows, not to mention a lengthy interlude of instrumental music Thursday afternoon before the temporary national "Canada Today" midday show could get on the air; it seems the host had been detained (by picketers?) outside the Ottawa studios. A correction, by the way: the replacement afternoon show, "All in a Day," comes from CBO Ottawa, not CBME Montreal, where workers are covered by the French-language Radio-Canada contract and are unaffected by the strike. And we're impressed that the CBC Web site has actually been providing links to the sites of the striking CEP union as well as to the CBC's own press releases and schedules.
Has Ottawa's AM 1200 returned to its original CFGO calls? We can't quite tell from the CRTC (no big surprise), but M Street reports that "OSR 1200" dumped the CJBZ calls along with its "Buzz" rock format last fall, and is once again CFGO -- not that you can ever tell on those Canadian stations, anyway.
And that's it for another week here in NERW-land...we'll be back next Friday with more. See you then!