Bob Raleigh told listeners this week that he'll leave WBZ when he turns 65 June 9. Raleigh has been gradually shedding overnight hours for the last few years, going from five nights a week down to three, and giving WBZ a chance to try out some potential replacements, including Steve LeVeille, Jordan Rich, and Kevin Sowyrda. No permanent replacement for Raleigh has been named so far, and if the precedent set by the death of weekend overnight host Norm Nathan a few years back holds, it's likely the station will take its time with the decision.
The pre-midnight landscape on WBZ is shifting as well. David Brudnoy asked station management to cut his weeknight show back two hours, ending at 10 PM instead of the present midnight. Brudnoy tells the Herald's Dean Johnson that the decision has nothing to do with the AIDS virus that took him off the air entirely back in 1995, just that five hours of radio each night, in addition to his many other duties as college professor, movie reviewer, and commentator, leave him "tired." A new talk host will be hired for the 10-midnight slot; again, no names have surfaced (although NERW can't ignore the newsgroup buzz that's suggesting a Gene Burns return from the West Coast would be well-received).
Elsewhere in MASSACHUSETTS, the end of 65 years of English-language radio at WLLH (1400 Lowell/Lawrence) is finally in sight. The station has been running promos all week asking listeners to follow WLLH personalities (including newsman Bob Ellis) down the dial to "the New 800 WCCM." Mega Broadcasting is expected to begin programming WLLH from its Charlestown WBPS/WNFT studios next week. (Another English-language institution, also dating back to 1934, also comes to a close at midnight Saturday, as Mutual's last radio newscast hits the airwaves. While it had probably outlived its usefulness, it still seems strange to think that the words "Mutual News" will never be heard again.)
Entercom now has its new calls for "Star 93.7," with the FCC's approval of WQSX for the former WEGQ Lawrence-Boston. An unintentional meaning to the new calls, noted by WCAP's Bill O'Neill (who, by the way, is someone we'd listen to on WBZ overnight!): "SX" for "Essex" County, where the station's city of license is located. Of course, the AM in Salem beat them to it...
We hear WKFD (1370 Wickford) has been off the air for quite a few months now; could the FCC finally pull the license on this station sometime this year? Seems like it's been narrowly dodging the end ever since that studio fire back in the early '90s...
English-language soft AC has returned (temporarily) to WNTY (990 Southington), as the station drops leased-time Spanish while awaiting takeover by ADD Media. WNTY is operating a limited schedule, signing off at 5PM daily and giving central Connecticut DXers a shot at some other 990s up and down the coast.
Baseball season is underway, and for the New Britain Rock Cats, that means the first season on WPRX (1120 Bristol). We're told there were a few glitches in the first game or two, but that the English-language play-by-play and bilingual ads (WPRX is a Spanish-language station the rest of the day) are now going smoothly. The Norwich Navigators continue on WSUB (980 Groton), and the New Haven Ravens can be heard on WAVZ (1300), with some games on WELI (960). (Some Rock Cats games are also being heard on Hartford's WPOP 1410 as well). While we're at it, the Pawtucket Red Sox are on WSKO (790 Providence) and the Portland Sea Dogs on WZAN (970). We'll have the New York-Penn League flagships later in the summer once that short-season A league starts play!
While we're thinking of baseball, WESU (88.1 Middletown) has hooked quite an announcer for Saturday afternoon's Wesleyan-Williams game. It seems Phil Rizzuto's granddaughter attends Wesleyan, and the school persuaded the legendary voice of the Yankees to lend his voice to WESU for a few hours. No Web feed, alas, or we'd be listening...but you can find more on WESU's page.
It's not a format change, exactly, but Hartford's oldies station has been heard using the slogan "Connecticut's Jammin' Oldies." WDRC-FM (102.9) is owned by Buckley, not "Jammin'" specialist Chancellor Media, so perhaps it will avoid fully falling victim to this "format of the month," as did Washington DC institution WGAY-FM (99.5) this week. (The calls, which continued to grace the World Building in Silver Spring, Maryland even during the brief period in 1995 when they were changed to WEBR, will finally come down sometime soon. Listeners to WGAY's soft AC format are being directed to Chancellor AC WASH-FM (97.1) and oldies WBIG (100.3) instead. New calls and airstaff for 99.5 haven't been announced yet.)
Listeners to Radio Disney in the Hartford area have had a hard time tuning in on the weekends; we hear WDZK (1550 Bloomfield) has been off the air Saturdays and Sundays.
One puzzlement this week: We noted mention of "Talk 960/Burlington" in a recent trade publication -- could WEAV, actually licensed across the lake in Plattsburgh NY, be about to drop the simulcast with country WXPS (96.7 Willsboro NY) and go its own way?
Up north of Concord, the new format of WPNH-FM (100.1 Plymouth) debuted at quarter past midnight Monday morning (4/12), as the station became modern rock "The Planet." Rick Ganley is the new morning host, commuting from Haverhill, where he was working as production director and weekender at WXRV (92.5). (WXRV, meanwhile, brings in Jerry Mason for evenings and music director duties. Mason was with a different "River," CIDR 93.9 Windsor-Detroit.)
On the AM side, WPNH (1300 Plymouth) will soon begin simulcasting its satellite standards format on WFTN (1240 Franklin), which had been a simulcast of country WSCY-FM (106.9 Moultonborough).
And veteran Boston sportscaster (and former Red Sox player) Rico Petrocelli has resurfaced on Nashua's radio dial, hosting a 6-7 PM weekday talk show on WSMN (1590).
Speaking of religious LPTVs, TBN is running into some obstacles as it tries to move W17BF Bangor and W63BR York Center out of the way of DTV. Applications to move them to channels 36 and 47, respectively, fell afoul of Canadian objections and were dismissed by the FCC this week.
In the Albany market, format changes could be on the way at WABY AM-FM and WKLI/WKBE; the stations' sale to Telemedia closed earlier this month. We'll keep you posted.
WKXZ (93.9 Norwich) is reportedly tweaking its format, becoming more of a hot AC. We haven't been through that area in quite a while, but hope to be within range of the Station Formerly Known as "Kix" sometime soon to hear for ourselves; we're told the new on-air ID is simply "KXZ."
Dennis Jackson checked in to report FCC approval of his plans to move as-yet-unbuilt WRIP (97.9) from Jewett to Windham, where it will sign on later this year with 580 watts from more than 3000 feet up on Ski Windham, with a clear line of sight and clear frequency up towards Albany. We're looking forward to hearing what Dennis and his partners will do with this one.
Family Life Ministries is applying for an 89.3 translator in Baldwinsville for its WCIY (88.9 Canandaigua), and NERW hopes it gets rejected out of hand. As we've noted in our repeated mentions of Syracuse Community Radio's inability to find space on the Onondaga County radio dial (for LOCAL programming, at that), the noncomm band in and around Syracuse is full. An 89.3 in Baldwinsville would interfere significantly with first-adjacents WJPZ 89.1 Syracuse and WDWN 89.1 Auburn, and has no business being there -- which, of course, means this one's all but certain to win FCC approval. Sigh...
Calvary Satellite Network's application for 89.5 in Arcade (east of Buffalo) was returned this week.
And we'll leave New York by noting that it's a bad idea to rebroadcast two-way radio transmissions on a broadcast station. In fact, as WCMF (96.5 Rochester)'s Brother Wease found out Thursday morning, it's illegal. A listener called WCMF during a high-speed police chase that tangled traffic on the city's west side, and played about a minute of police transmissions over the phone for Wease and his listeners. City lawyers are investigating; meanwhile, in his first public statement since becoming WCMF/WPXY station manager last week, Kevin LeGrett apologized for the broadcast and promised it wouldn't happen again.
And while the CBC's "As It Happens" thought it was being clever with an April Fools "interview" with CBC president Perrin Beatty in which he announced the CBC would henceforth be sponsored by Disney (the company really does have the marketing rights to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the joke might be on them -- Canadian newspapers reported late this week that the CBC is now considering brief underwriting announcements at the start or end of programs, something that's been unheard of since the government broadcaster went strictly non-commercial in the 1970s. (CBC Television, on the other hand, is supported in part by commercials).
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That's it for another week; see you next Friday!