Otto's broadcast career began at the old WBNY (1400) in Buffalo at the tender age of 19. After two years in the Navy, Otto spent the rest of his five-decade tenure in Buffalo radio, most of it with WGR (550), where his "Extension 55" and "Night Call" were the city's best-known talk shows in the 1960s and 70s.
Otto took a detour to WWKB (1520) for a few years in the mid-80s, then returned to WGR for the rest of his career. For the past year, Otto did his 10PM-1AM shift from his home, as his health deteriorated and he became unable to get to the WGR studios.
In 1998, Otto was named to the Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers' Hall of Fame.
Otto was hospitalized last weekend after suffering a fall at home. As news of his death spread Monday morning, the response was immediate from across the Buffalo media community, exemplified by WBEN's Sandy Beach: "We have lost our teacher."
WGR devoted its Monday and Tuesday night shows to remembrances of Otto.
John Otto was 70 years old.
WLGZ goes head-to-head with dial neighbor WEZO (950), whose standards format is entirely satellite-delivered, not to mention pre-empted by Spanish nightly from 7-9 PM.
For those keeping score, this is callsign number six (WNYR, WEZO, WRMM, WCMF, WDCZ, WLGZ) and format number eight for 990 in the twenty years it's been on that frequency. (Boston-area listeners might want to check WLGZ out at night; its directional signal comes in very nicely in and around the Hub!)
Will Crawford's religion-to-standards conversion make its next stop at Albany's WDCD (1540)? Our spies in the Capital District are keeping their ears open...
As the NERW-mobile sped towards I-86 (covered signs and all) last weekend, we found one surprise: Not only was WEHH (1590 Elmira Heights-Horseheads) still silent, there was a mound of fresh dirt where its tower once stood on Latta Brook Road in sight of Route 17. NERW wonders whether WEHH will eventually return as a diplex on co-owned WELM (1410)'s nearby towers.
Up the road in Watkins Glen, Sabrecom has restored the WGMF calls to their heritage spot at 1490, at least according to the FCC. The on-air announcement on Sunday still had WBZD as the AM calls on the simulcast of WPGI (100.9 Horseheads), though.
The big three-way swap in Binghamton still hasn't happened, so WNBF remains at 1290, WINR at 680, and WKOP at 1360 -- but one voice has made the move down the dial from 1290. Polka host Bill Flynn has parted ways with WNBF after 30 years, moving his Sunday show to WINR for the time being. And when WINR moves to 1360? Flynn's not saying...
Also noted in Binghamton: an 88.1 pirate in the Vestal area, running a skipping CD...all weekend long. The 99.7 that's been running a simulcast of patriot-wacko-talk KHNC (1360 Johnstown CO) for years is still on the air as well. And WSKG (89.3) has indeed added WSQA (88.7) in Hornell, adding a new coverage area out to the west and north of the Corning-Elmira WSQE (91.1) signal.
Not far away in Ithaca, there could soon be two new signals on the air. The FCC auction for channel 52 has ended with "Ithaca 52" getting the CP, with plans (at least initially) to run just 100 kilowatts visual ERP, just enough to trip the cable headends in Ithaca. In nearby Cayuga Heights, Family Life Ministries is applying for an 89.5 translator, presumably to relay WCII (88.5 Spencer).
Hello, FCC? The database currently shows two different Utica-area signals carrying the WODZ-FM call letters, apparently the result of some confusion by Forever Broadcasting, which owns both stations. Forever changed the heritage calls of its Johnstown, Pennsylvania AM station from WJAC to WODZ(AM) this week (the station is known on-air as "The Oldies Network"), and apparently filed at the same time to change WODZ(FM) in Rome (on 96.1) back to WODZ-FM (which it was, back when the WODZ(AM) calls were on 1450 in Rome).
With us so far? Good, because the FCC isn't anymore. Somehow, the FCC seems to have thought that the station changing to WODZ-FM was WFRG(FM) -- the calls that *were* on 96.1 in the early nineties. But the WFRG calls are now on 104.3 in Utica (ex-WKGW, WKFM), and *that* station is now also listed as WODZ-FM in the database. We'll be looking for a correction from the FCC next week -- and hoping that Forever will stop trading callsigns like Pokémon cards (poor WAJC in Lima, Ohio went back to WUZZ this week, the second time it's made the WAJC-to-WUZZ swap this year alone!)
A quick bit of Utica TV news: WUTR (Channel 20) is changing owners, as Ackerley (aka Central NY News, Inc.) converts its LMA into ownership, replaicing Utica TV Partners. Ackerley was previously unable to buy WUTR outright because the overlap with WIXT (Channel 9) in Syracuse was considered duopoly.
Heading towards Albany, we stop in Schenectady to note the sale of Off-Track Betting's AM station, WVKZ (1240). Ernie Anastos' company is paying $137,000 for the graveyarder, which will drop its sports programming (including horse-racing!) to simulcast the adult standards of Anastos' WUAM (900 Saratoga Springs) as "the Moon."
Anastos could soon have a shot at buying many more stations in the Capital Region, as Clear Channel tries to spin off the stations it has to ditch due to its purchase of AMFM. Mark McGwire of the Albany Times Union says the stations on the block are:
Staying in the group: 50kW giant WGY, rockers WPYX, WQBK, WRVE, and WXCR (offering the AOR, active, adult, and classic flavors, respectively, for those who can still tell the difference), modern AC WHRL, and probably oldies WTRY(AM). So, to look at it another way, Clear Channel ends up adding just WPYX and perhaps WTRY(AM) to its existing group.
Over at Tele-Media, WKLI (94.5 Ravena) puts "K-Lite" on hold to go all-holidays as "Christmas Lite"; we're told the soft AC will be gone when the station drops the holiday format in January. Also gone is K-Lite morning guy David Allan; he's headed to Anastos' WUAM/WVKZ to do mornings there.
On TV, WXXA (Channel 23) will indeed add a 6:30 PM newscast to its "Fox News at Ten" next year. Kristin Stinar will join 10 PM anchor Greg Floyd for the earlier show.
And out on Long Island, WRHD (1570 Riverhead) has applied to change calls to WFOG(AM).
We'd bet that Citadel won't do much to alter WXLO's top-rated modernish AC format (except, perhaps, more targeting of sales towards Boston, a la WAAF?) -- but as for WORC-FM, who knows. Montachusett keeps WIZN and WBTZ in the Burlington, Vermont market, and principal owner Jay Williams Jr. hangs on to WLKZ (104.9) in Wolfeboro NH.
Also in Worcester: WWFX (100.1 Southbridge) loses PD Bob Mitchell due to the usual philosophical differences.
No more Tone-Loc? WBOT (97.7 Brockton) has unveiled its permanent format, and no, it's not "All Dead Air," either. "Wild 9-7-7" made its debut Monday night as "Boston's New Home for Hip-Hop and R&B," taking dead aim at WJMN (94.5) and WILD (1090) with a signal that at least does a decent job of covering the city's black neighborhoods, even if it does leave something to be desired to the north and west. Programming, at least for now, is being directed out of Radio One's WERQ (92.3) in Baltimore.
To the east, WOMR (92.1 Provincetown) adds Met Opera broadcasts this year (replacing WFCC on the Cape), and to the west, Mark Williams replaces Dan Yorke in mornings on WNNZ (640 Westfield), at least for the week. In addition to his stint a few years ago at WGY in Schenectady, Williams was at WNNZ back in 1977...in its earlier incarnation as WDEW (1570).
January 10 is the day New Hampshire Public Radio plans to sign on its newest rebroadcaster, as WXLQ (107.1 Gorham) changes calls to WEVC and goes noncomm, bringing NPR programming to the area north of Mount Washington. Still more of the North Country will get NHPR service next fall, as the network signs on its new station at 99.5 in Jackson.
Imus stays where? We hear that while WNHI (93.3 Belmont) will keep the I-Man and classic rock under Vox ownership, the future is perhaps less clear for the other half of that simulcast, WRCI (107.7 Hillsboro). Stay tuned...
Weekday programming on CIQC and CKVL wrapped up with Friday's shows, and weekend programming will conclude Sunday, with Monday being a dark day on all four frequencies before Tuesday's 11 AM launch of Info 690 and 940 News. Simulcasts will reportedly continue on 850 and 600 for up to six months.
The Web site at <www.ckvl.com> is finally announcing the impending frequency change for CKVL (850) as well, though there's no such announcement for English sister CIQC (600, becoming "940 News.") Sketchy sites are also now in place at <www.info690.com> and <www.940news.com> for those who haven't yet seen the new stations' logos.
Turns out the NERW-mobile won't be heading for Montreal after all next week, so we'd be thrilled to hear from anyone able to tape the 600 and 850 farewells or the debuts of 690 and 940.
And that's that for the last regular issue of NERW for 1999. Next week, our look at the region's broadcast news will be followed by Part One of NERW's 1999 Year in Review, which will conclude in our last 1999 issue on December 24. See you then!