Here's what we know for sure: After decades of weekday work in Beantown, Jerry Williams is about to be retired to a weekend slot on "The Talk Station." Williams wrapped up his 10-AM-to-noon show Tuesday by noting that he'd be on the air the rest of the week...but would announce on Wednesday what would happen after that. Sources tell NERW that Williams will move to the 1 to 4 pm spot Saturdays and Sundays, with the weekday timeslot to be given to Dr. Laura Schlesinger, who's already heard from 10pm to midnight on 'RKO.
Williams has been a Boston institution for more than 30 years, with stints on WMEX, WITS, and WBZ, among others, before joinig WRKO. His stature at WRKO has been slowly diminishing over the last few years, as he's been shuffled from afternoon drive (displaced by Howie Carr) to the present two-hour midday spot.
Meantime, the morning picture at 'RKO remains hazy. Co-host Marjorie Clapprood walked out on the air Thursday morning, and WRKO pulled her counterpart, Pat Whitley, to give both of them a "cooling-off period." Pat and Marjorie's ratings have been on a steady decline -- and NERW wonders if this could be a publicity stunt to get them some attention, or perhaps a sign that Herald columnist Howie Carr (whose PM drive talk show on WRKO and several other New England stations has been the lone bright spot for 'RKO lately) will soon be moving to mornings.
And just to give WRKO programmer Kevin Straley another headache, weekender Carolyn Fox has given her notice that she's departing the Saturday-midday "Fox and Moes Show" she was co-hosting with Andy Moes. Fox is much better known as an FM rock jock, most recently on WHJY (94.1) in Providence, and she says she wants another fulltime job doing that. As for Moes, NERW is wondering where he'll go now that his weekend slot is being taken by Williams...
Speaking of weekends, the "Money Experts," Rick Shaffer and Bob Glovsky, are returning to the air on WRKO after being bounced from WBNW (590) with the demise of that station's business format last month. They'll be heard weekend evenings, replacing the "Spin Doctors" political talk show hosted by political consultants Charley Manning and Michael Goldman.
Stay tuned...we'll have much more from 116 Huntington Ave. in the days to come, no doubt.
Another hard-to-explain FCC notice shows the transfer of dark WTOX (1450) Lincoln ME from bankruptcy to the Bangor Baptist Church being dismissed -- but the same transfer for sister FM WHMX being approved! It also shows WHMX on the very old 99.3 frequency, instead of the correct 105.7. Bangor Baptist already owns blowtorch religious outlet WHCF (88.5) Bangor.
WRJT (103.1) Royalton VT has applied for a translator on 107.7 in Lebanon NH, to help bring "The Point"'s AAA format into the Upper Valley area a little better. WRJT will soon be the only AAA in the area, with the impending sale of WNBX (100.5 Lebanon).
Bridgeport CT's WPKN (89.5) has filed a petition to deny against Christian Broadcasting Company's application for a translator on 89.7 in Port Chester NY to bring its KGNZ (88.1 Abilene TX) to the fine folks of Westchester County. WPKN is a very nifty community station, and NERW steps on its editorial soapbox to wish them the best of luck in their fight to preserve the fringes of their signal.
And St. Albans, Vermont's radio stations have been sold. Steve Salls and Roland Devost's New England Radio LLC is paying $1 million dollars to pick up oldies WWSR (1420) and country WLFE (102.3) from the Kimel Broadcast Group.
It happened in 1980, and involved what was then WDCS (97.9) Portland and WJBQ-FM (106.3 Scarborough). WJBQ was facing major competition from the new WIGY (105.9, ex-WJTO-FM 95.3) Bath, and offered WDCS big money to trade its 50 kilowatt signal on 97.9 for WJBQ-FM's little class A signal. WDCS accepted, and that's how WJBQ-FM became 97.9 and WDCS went to 106.3. WDCS owner Dirigo Communications used some of the money from the sale to build an AM, WDCI (1590 Gorham), today's WLAM 870.
None of our otherwise-alert readers noticed another gaffe, though: we completely left out eastern Cumberland County! The major outlet out there in 1971 was WCME AM-FM Brunswick, the AM a daytimer on 900 and the FM a 50kw signal on 98.9. The stations went through dozens of format changes over the next two decades, ending up as today's WCLZ AM-FM. The AM is now home shopping, and the FM is a neat locally-owned AAA signal. Also in Brunswick was, and is, Bowdoin College's WBOR (91.1). Brunswick High School had an FM station, 10 watt WBHS (91.9) in the 70s and early 80s. That frequency became home in the 1990s to religious WMSJ Harpswell.
The radio dial keeps spinning in the Albany area, as 70s rocker WYSR (98.3 Rotterdam) has succumbed to new owners SFX Broadcasting, returning to the oldies simulcast with WTRY (980 Troy) it enjoyed a format ago. Calls will change to WTRY-FM soon, we're told. New to the air is WNYQ (105.7 Queensbury NY), serving the Glens Falls area as "Wink 105.7" with a locally-programmed AC format. It's quite audible in Albany.
In Utica, the simulcasts grow and grow, with the disappearance of the sports format on WRNY (1350 Rome) and WADR (1480 Remsen). They're now simulcasting the soft AC sounds of "Warm FM," WRFM (93.5 Remsen). NERW spent a very rainy Sunday afternoon checking out Utica's AM towers -- suppose we need a new hobby?
The Syracuse scene has a new sound, with WNDR (103.9 Mexico) testing, in simulcast with soon to be co-owned WVOA (105.1 DeRuyter). No ID for WNDR was heard during a brief drive through the area. Meantime, country WPCX (106.9 Auburn) has segued to automated AAA as "The Breeze." Also on air now is WKRH (106.5 Minetto), the Oswego-area simulcast of the Radio Company's "K-Rock" modern rock format heard on WKRL (100.9 North Syracuse) and WKLL (94.9 Frankfort-Utica).
Over in Rochester, ARS is preparing to give up its WCMF (990) to St. John Fisher College this spring. WCMF's sports format disappeared with the new year, replaced by a simulcast of rocker WCMF-FM (96.5). AM 990 keeps the AHL Rochester Amerks hockey games, and NERW is quite convinced it heard 990 running at 5kW day power and pattern during a night game last week -- tut, tut! One of our favorite noncomms, WGMC (90.1 Greece), is bringing its jazz format to Rochester's eastern suburbs with the debut of W285AE, a 5 watt translator on 105.1, operating (we think) from a tower in Perinton NY, near the sites of WVOR (100.5) and WBER (90.5). WGMC has always been a tough catch east of Rochester, and the new translator helps a lot. Broadcasting and Cable magazine gave an unwitting hint (we suspect) of the future format of WAQB (94.1 Brighton), which has been running the same five rock instrumental CDs since it signed on last fall. B&C claims WAQB is "country," and perhaps that's what new owner ARS, which is paying more than $3 million for the station, will do with it. ARS is also unloading hot talk WHTK (1280 Rochester) to Jacor, along with the Justice Department-mandated sale of WHAM (1180), WVOR (100.5), and the right to purchase WNVE (95.1 South Bristol). And Heritage Media has moved "The River," classic rock WQRV (93.3 Avon, ex-WHRR), into its downtown studios, already home to country WBEE (92.5), oldies WKLX (98.9), and standards WBBF (950).