The Citadel-owned oldies station began dropping hints late in March that it was looking to cut costs, dismissing Neaverth's son (Dan Jr. had been doing sports on WHTT) and daughter-in-law (P.J. Fox, who had been doing part-time air work for the station. When Tony Violanti of the Buffalo News broke the news that Neaverth's own contract would not be renewed, WHTT pulled Neaverth off the air after Wednesday's show, calling at least a temporary halt to a career that began at WKBW in the fifties.
A recent inductee into the Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers' Hall of Fame, Neaverth began his career in his hometown at WBNY (1400, now WWWS) in 1957, launching a top-40 format that proved so popular it was soon emulated by WKBW, which hired Neaverth for afternoons not long after. Neaverth remained with WKBW through its call change to WWKB, finally departing in the late eighties to move his morning show over to WHTT.
There's no word yet on what Neaverth's next move might be - but WHTT didn't wait long to fill his shoes, announcing Friday that veteran WBEN morning man Bill Lacy will take over morning drive in a few weeks. Lacy, who was let go in a cost-cutting binge at WBEN last year, had been heard filling in for Neaverth during several scheduled vacations recently.
Also gone from WHTT is midday jock Tom Donahue; he stays with the station to continue hosting the Saturday night request show.
Spears wasn't there, of course - but the Clear Channel CHR station had hired an actress to impersonate her and several "guards" to keep fans at a distance. Santodonato fell and hit her head on a garage door during the chaos, and the $1.2 billion suit filed by her husband says the injury, which led to her death a few hours later, was caused by one of the guards pushing her.
The lawsuit names Clear Channel and Visions Federal Credit Union, which owned the Country Club Road building where WMRV's studios were then located. (The station moved to a new studio in Vestal a few months ago.)
One more bit of Binghamton news: across town at Citadel, WYOS (1360) swaps shifts for two jocks, moving Reese T. to mornings and Wess to afternoons. There's word that WCDW (100.5 Susquehanna PA) will jump on the format hole left by WYOS' move from FM to AM, ditching its AAA-ish rock format for oldies this week; we'll keep you posted!
And another fixture of the old 1360, WKOP, has landed a new spot on the AM dial: Don Giovanni's "Italian Carousel" is now airing Saturdays from 9-noon on sister station WNBF (1290).
Up in the Ithaca area, Syracuse Community Radio has been granted a license to cover for translator W201CD (88.1 Lansing). We're not sure what the purpose of this one is; SCR is having enough trouble reaching Syracuse as it is. (The station's Web site now acknowledges that the station is primarily a Webcast, with the WXXE 90.5 Fenner signal reaching only a handful of potential listeners.)
New York's newest radio station now has a program director: WTJM (105.1) named Michael Saunders as the programmer for the new "Power 105.1," bringing him to the Big Apple from Clear Channel urban duo WJLB/WMXD in Detroit. Also coming on board at Power is Colby Cobb, moving up from mornings at Philadelphia's WUSL to do middays at WTJM.
Over on the AM dial, WABC (770) moved Michael Savage's show to a live airing last week. Savage is now heard weeknights from 8-10 PM, cutting Steve Malzberg and Richard Bey back to two hours, from 6-8 PM, and ending Malzberg's solo hour at 9.
The Yankees start their season this afternoon, but a good chunk of their fan base won't be able to watch on TV. The Yanks' new YES Network still hasn't completed carriage deals with several area cable systems. Cablevision customers in Long Island and the Bronx (the Bronx!) aren't seeing YES, thanks to the company's stance that it won't pass the $2/month charge from the Yankees-owned network to a customer base that doesn't necessarily want the new network. YES is also not yet on the air on Adelphia systems in Buffalo and Western New York; it did just complete carriage deals with AT&T systems in Connecticut and elsewhere.
(A few updates on the Yanks network: while no official list has yet appeared, we're told WPOP Hartford, WICC Bridgeport, WNNZ Westfield MA and WWCO Waterbury all remain on the network from last year, and we hear WARL in Attleboro MA will carry some games as well. On the TV side, Hartford's WFSB will carry some YES games.)
Out on Long Island, WLIR (92.7 Garden City) is making noises about a big Monday announcement. April Fool? We'll let you know as soon as we hear anything...
(FOLLOW-UP: It was indeed an April Fool; WLIR announced that it had been sold to musician Moby, who turned the station into "WMBY" for a few hours, playing a more diverse mix than NYC radio has heard in quite a while.)
Way out on Long Island, the three-way battle for a new station on 88.7 in Montauk has been settled, with Broadcasting for the Challenged and Montgomery NYC Broadcasting both withdrawing their applications. The winner? Bridgeport, Connecticut's WPKN (89.5), which gets a CP for 8 watts horizontal, 2700 watts vertical at 69 meters above average terrain. Will the new station be a straight relay of WPKN's freeform programming? We'll let you know. (While we're out there, we note that the WMHR Syracuse translator in Riverhead, W214BF on 90.7, has been granted a CP to boost power from 10 watts to 150.)
But it turns out that was only half the story: this week, Cumulus flipped oldies outlet WWKL (92.1 Palmyra) to CHR as "Hot 92," launching a new challenge to Kiss, albeit on a signal that's weak over much of the market. WNNK PD John O'Dea is overseeing the new entry as well, and he's running it jockless for now.
The irony here? Those WWKL calls and that oldies format were last heard in the market on...99.3, just before it flipped to "Kiss" last year!
(Oldies fans in Harrisburg now have to tune in WHYL 960 from Carlisle, WHBO 92.7 from Starview or WSOX 96.1 from Red Lion for their musical fix...)
Out in Pittsburgh, Greg Weston is the latest Clear Channel job casualty; he lost his post last week as program director of struggling all-sports outlet WBGG (970).
Franklin's WFRA (1450) is dropping power from 1000 to 990 watts, to account for a new tower that's slightly more efficient than initially predicted. (It seems the application had called for a 195-foot tower instead of the 199-footer that went up!) No change in WFRA's coverage is anticipated.
In Philadelphia, Michael Smerconish returns to the airwaves, and on an Infinity-owned station, no less, after his departure last year from WPHT (1210). He'll begin contributing commentaries to all-news KYW (1060) next week.
WMGK (102.9 Philadelphia) has a new afternoon guy, as Andre Gardner replaces Lauren Valle. Gardner was the "button guy" at New York's WXRK (92.3), serving as production director and riding the delay machine on the Howard Stern show.
And the Phillies have added another station to their network: WBUD (1260) in Trenton, NEW JERSEY helps to fill in some of the coverage lost when the Phils moved from WPHT to WPEN (950) this season.
Speaking of WTXX, NERW research director Garrett Wollman has been busy perusing the many Form 337 applications filed by TV stations around the region seeking an extension of time to build their DTV facilities. In WTXX's case, the delay is brought about by an attempt to move from the Channel 20 site in Waterbury to Rattlesnake Mountain in Farmington, much closer to Hartford. WTXX tells the FCC that its proposed landlord in Farmington, Communications Site Management, has been unable to get zoning permission to build a new tower next to the existing WTIC-TV (Channel 61) stick for WTXX-DT (and Connecticut Public TV's WEDH-DT). The plan now is to try to reinforce the existing WTIC-TV tower to handle the new users; negotiations to put some antennas on the neighboring WVIT (Channel 30) towers proved fruitless.
WDJZ (1530 Bridgeport) has ditched its short-lived reggae format and is now programming in Spanish, we're told.
And Cumulus closed on its acquisition of 18 stations from Aurora, including WEBE/WICC in Bridgeport.
Starting this week, WBZ's morning news will also be seen from 5-7 AM on WLWC (Channel 28), Providence's UPN affiliate. The New Bedford-licensed station is operated from the WBZ studios in Boston, and WBZ managers say offering the Boston-focused morning news will be useful to those who make the two-state commute. WLWC will also carry WBZ's Sunday night "Sports Final" at 11:30 beginning next weekend.
Another TV development: CBS affiliate WPRI (Channel 12) changes hands from STC Television to LIN. It's not as exciting as it looks, since both are controlled by Hicks, Muse anyway, but it does put WPRI under the same management as Connecticut ABC affiliate WTNH (Channel 8) and Springfield NBC affiliate WWLP (Channel 22). (It will also require LIN to sell Providence Fox affiliate WNAC unless the rules change before the deal closes...)
Up on the North Shore, WBOQ (104.9 Gloucester) has parted ways with Dana Hersey, the deep-voiced announcer best known for years of "The Movie Loft" on WSBK-TV. Hersey had been hosting the morning show on the standards outlet for the last few years. Co-host Kendall Buhl continues to host the "Daybreak" show at WBOQ.
And out on Cape Cod, yet another FM frequency could soon light up on the already-crowded airwaves. John Garabedian is asking the FCC to allocate 98.7B1 to Nantucket; those with long memories will recall that Garabedian was behind the first FM on Nantucket, WGTF (93.5), which evolved into today's WRZE (96.3).
Toronto's urban station, CFXJ (Flow 93.5), wants to be heard better. It's applied to boost power from 298 watts to 1430 watts to put out a stronger signal against cross-border WBLK (93.7 Depew NY).
Up north, CFJB (95.7) in Barrie also wants to make a move; it's hoping to drop power from 96.3 kW to 70 kW, moving its antenna up more than 300 feet as it relocates to the same site as sister station CKMB (107.5) in the tower farm at Edgar, Ontario.
In London, Sound of Faith applies to put a new Christian contemporary signal on the air at 105.9, running 10 watts.
John Sherratt filed a formal application this week to acquire CJOJ (95.5) and CHCQ (100.1) in Belleville from Tony Zwig; over in St. Catharines, "Pellpropco" applies to buy CHSC (1220).
And out in the Maritimes, the Maritime Broadcasting System has completed its acquisition of CJRW (102.1 Summerside PEI); MBS had been operating the station, owned by Gulf Broadcasting, for a while now anyway.
Now, this scheduling note: NERW is packing our bags and getting ready to head west for this year's NAB convention in Las Vegas. We'll be in Sin City from April 5-11, and as usual, we'll offer daily (more or less) updates on the Web at www.fybush.com.
We'll post a brief NERW update on April 4, and there will be no regular NERW on April 8. We'll return to our normal schedule April 15.
If you're heading out to Las Vegas as well, we'd love to meet you there. Drop us a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let us know!
We'll be back later in the week with minor league baseball networks, April Fools gags gone wrong (or even right) and much more...stay tuned!