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January 2000 to December 2000By Dave Hughes
December 29, 2000
Comcast And ABC/Disney Reach Agreement
Comcast reached an agreement on 12/29 that will allow the cable operator to continue to carry ABC/Disney networks including the ABC broadcast network as well as cable services such as ESPN, Lifetime, and the Disney Channel. While cable subscribers in the DC and Baltimore areas would not have lost ABC (since neither channels 7 and 2 are owned by ABC) they could have seen the loss of ABC/Disney-owned cable networks if a deal had not been reached by midnight on 12/31. While terms of the deal are confidential, it is probable that Comcast subscribers will see the Disney Channel moved from a premium service to basic cable (if it hasn't already), and will soon see the addition of Toon Disney, SoapNet, ESPN Classic, and/or ESPNews. Apart from Fairfax County, Comcast owns (or soon will) all the cable TV systems in the immediate DC and Baltimore areas.
December 28, 2000
WPWC Returns To The Airwaves
1480 AM, WPWC in Dumfries VA came back to life on 12/28 after almost a year off the air. The station has been heard airing a rather undermodulated relay of the Korean programming carried on Multicultural's 1460, WKDV in Manassas. WPWC used to program traditional country and we'd heard it was purchased by JMK Communications which also has reportedly purchased 1520 AM, WTRI in Brunswick MD.
December 23, 2000
Arbitron To Monitor Fredericksburg Radio
Radio ratings firm Arbitron announced in late December that it will make Fredericksburg a "nationally rated market" starting this spring. The Fredericksburg market will consist of Fredericksburg city along with Caroline, King George, Orange, Spotsylvania, and Stafford counties. With 221,000 people, Fredericksburg will rank at 162 out of the 283 markets Arbitron examines. Fredericksburg will join Norfolk-Virginia Beach, Richmond, Roanoke-Lynchburg, Winchester, Charlottesville, and Harrisonburg as Virginia markets Arbitron surveys.
December 23, 2000
Dr. Laura Demoted At 20
Dr. Laura Schlessigner's troubled TV show has received a demotion at DC's Channel 20. Starting 1/15, the syndicated talk program will be downgraded from its 1 PM slot to an overnight hour. Dr. Laura's show is often dead last in its time slot in the DC market and has been downgraded in many other cities. Dr. Laura been slammed for calling homosexuality "a biological error." Her radio show airs on WMAL and WCBM.
December 22, 2000
Radio Legend Eddie Gallaher Retires
Friday 12/22 was the last day for Eddie Gallaher (left) on nostalgic 1260 AM, WGAY. Gallaher, 85, a 53-year veteran of DC area radio and co-host of WGAY's morning show, has retired. Gallaher's decision to leave the airwaves signals the end of the nostalic "Music Of Your Life" format on 1260 AM. Owner Clear Channel will switch 1260 to talk in the new year. Gallaher, whose signature line is "It's nice to know so many nice people," hosted GAY's morning show with another DC radio vet, Bob Duckman (who has been off the air recovering from an October car accident). Gallaher joined 1260 (then WWDC-AM) in 1982. He started in 1947 on WTOP, and then moved to WASH before joining WWDC. Take a listen to Eddie's final on-air moments at DCRTV's Jingleland.
December 20, 2000
"Captain Chesapeake" Dies
George Lewis (left), who was kiddie show host "Captain Chesapeake" on Baltimore's Channel 45, WBFF, in the 1970s and 1980s, died of cancer on 12/18. He was 74. Mr. Lewis, who also played the station's scary movie "Ghost Host," retired from WBFF in 1991.
December 19, 2000
PGC Loses Big Tigger
WPGC (95.5 FM) loses its afternoon man Big Tigger (aka Darian Morgan) to Black Entertainment Television. Tigger has been dividing his time between the urban formatted radio station and the cable net for a few months, but come mid-January he'll move completely over to TV. BET is now owned by Viacom which owns Infinity Broadcasting which owns WPGC.
December 18, 2000
Homer Quann, for almost five decades the farm and agricultural news director at Harrisonburg VA's WSVA (550 AM), died 12/15 from a "prolonged illness." Mr. Quann, 78, worked at the Shenandoah Valley news/talker for 45 years until his retirement in 1998.
December 18, 2000
TOP Adds Frederick Relay
12/18 was the launch date for all-news WTOP's relay on Frederick's 820 AM. The station, WXTR, had been broadcasting country music. TOP hopes to fill-in a coverage "hole" in the northern suburbs (Frederick, Loudoun, upper Montgomery) with 820 which joins 1500 AM from Wheaton and 107.7 FM from Warrenton.
December 15, 2000
Stern Signs New Deal
It comes as no surprise but Howard Stern announced on his 12/15 radio show that he signed a new five-year contract with his current employer Infinity/CBS/Viacom/etc. That means you'll continue to hear "the king of all media" on Infinity's WJFK in the DC/Baltimore area. Stern's current five-year deal ends at the end of the year and there was talk he was he might move elsewhere. While Howard wasn't talking, some industry insiders say the contract is worth $90 million, roughly 50 percent more than Stern's previous deal. Stern did say that he has "several big projects in the making" though.
December 15, 2000
Virgin Joins HFS
New rock alternative WHFS (99.1 FM) has hired Tim Virgin to be its new PM drive guy. He replaces Johnny Riggs who resigned from the Infinity station last summer under a cloud of controversy surrounding porn and drug possession charges. Virgin comes from NYC alternative rocker WXRK where he was a parttimer.
December 8, 2000
Somar Buys WMDM And WPTX
Somar Communications is buying country WMDM (97.7 FM) and talk/variety WPTX (1690 AM) in Lexington Park MD from Southern Maryland Broadcasting for $2.25 million. Somar also owns classic hits WSMD (98.3 FM), adult contemporary WKIK-AM (1560), and country WKIK-FM (102.9), all in southern Maryland. DCRTV reported rumors of this ownership change several weeks ago.
December 6, 2000
Rush Compressed On MAL
While Rush Limbaugh may be losing weight in real life, he is also losing "weight" on his radio show. Rush's DC station WMAL (630 AM) is using the Cashbox compression system on Rush's show (noon to 3 PM, weekdays). The technique literally removes momentary silent segments from a live (or taped) program so that more commercials and/or newsbreaks can be added without losing any original programming. MAL operations director John Butler confirms the station's use of compression: "We'll use any available technology to provide the best programming for our listeners," he told DCRTV. NYC's WABC, owned by ABC along with MAL, has also been using Cashbox on Rush's show. Rush has said on the air that he doesn't like being compressed.
December 4, 2000
Hill Debuts On 7
Doug Hill debuted on Channel 7 at 5:13 PM on 12/4 as its chief weatherman. He was last seen on Channel 9 in May. A clause in Hill's contract did not permit him to appear on 7's airwaves until after the November TV ratings "sweeps" were completed. Hill can also be heard doing weather reports on WTOP radio.
December 2, 2000
New Calls For 1330
DCRTV hears that 1330 AM in Havre De Grace has dropped is WASA calls for WJSS. The station was recently sold and is due to switch from its relay of nostagic WWLG 1360 AM in Baltimore to a religious gospel format. DCRTV also hears that Bill Parris's Radio Broadcast Communications is purchasing Ocean City news/talker WETT, 1590 AM. Parris used to own Rockville's WINX-AM (now WKDM) and Warrenton's WKCW and WINX-FM.
December 1, 2000
WRC Wins November Sweeps
The November TV ratings ("sweeps") have been released for the DC market and Channel 4's the big winner, while Channel 9's the big loser. WRC/4's news surged ahead of long-time favorite Oprah on 7 to win the 4 PM slot, while 9 saw its fortunes fall with its decision to dump news at 4 PM for Montel. WUSA/9 experienced big declines with its newscasts at 5:30 AM (down 50 percent from last year), 5 PM (down 36 percent), and at 11 PM (down 23 percent). More good news for 4 - its prime time programming was the most watched in the DC market, beating last year's winner WJLA/7. Good news for WTTG/5 in that its 10 PM newscast saw gains, and bad news for WDCA/20 in that its new Dr. Laura show attracted an average of only 9,000 viewers at 1 PM for last place.
December 1, 2000
Totenberg Back On Air After Mishap
NPR's DC-based political correspondent Nina Totenberg returned to the airwaves on 12/1 after almost being killed in a freak boating accident on her honeymoon in Caribbean. As luck would have it, she'd just married a trauma surgeon who saved her life.
December 1, 2000
Cox Moves HTS To Basic
On 12/1 Fairfax County's Cox Cable moved Home Team Sports from its "sports tier" to basic cable. Cox was the last cable system in the DC area to offer HTS as a premium, pay-extra channel. By the way, Cox will be unveiling its "cable-ready TV set friendly" single-cable service in Fairfax City in December, as well as new digital services. Cox plans to move a batch of its current non-digital channels like BET On Jazz, Golf Channel, International Channel, ESPNews, HBO Plus/Signature/Family, The Movie Channel, Showtime 2, and MoreMax onto digital, which will also feature a bunch of new premium multiplexes, 30+ pay-per-view channels, and other stuff like BBC America, SoapNet, Fox Sports World, and Game Show Network. No word yet on how long it will take to re-wire the whole county, but expect it to take a few years.
November 30, 2000
ZPG Pulls Plug On Internet Radio Station
Zero Population Growth on 11/30 has pulled the plug on its DC-based Zero 24-7 web radio station. So reports long-time DC area DJ Weasel (aka Jonathan Gilbert) who divided his time between the progressive rock, free-form web station and new rock alternative WHFS (99.1 FM). Weasel says that 12/1 is his last day at Zero 24-7, although there may still be some streaming of old shows via the station's website at www.zero24-7.org. "Internet radio may be the wave of the future but right now it is a very tough sell especially by a non-profit environmental organization that has no experience in broadcasting," says Weasel, who served as Zero 24-7's general manager, as well as its director of programming, production, and promotions. Weasel dates back (local radio-wise) to the free-form days of WHFS when it was on 102.3 in the 1970s and early 1980s.
November 28, 2000
7's Award Winning Photog Dies
Channel 7 news photographer Steve Affens, 52, died on 11/28 after suffering a heart attack while on vacation in the Cayman Islands. He was there with his wife, Patti, celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Mr. Affens, who joined then WMAL-TV in 1968, won the White House News Photographers' Association award for "Cameraman Of The Year" five times, as well as numerous Emmys. He was raised in Prince Georges County and graduated from the University Of Maryland. "For hundreds of thousands of people here in the Washington area, Steve Affens was an extraordinary window on our world, and his colleagues at our news station will never forget him," according to a statement on WJLA's website.
November 24, 2000
Channel 2 Looks For Religious Sponsors For Dr. Laura
Baltimore's Channel 2, WMAR, is appealing to local church groups to advertise on the Dr. Laura TV show. The Washington Blade newspaper reported on 11/24 that WMAR is offering a discount to religious organizations that choose to sponsor the controversial doc's show. Apparently, the station has even sent letters touting ad possibilities to churches which have large gay congregations. Dr. Laura maintains that homosexuality is abnormal and can be "cured." The Charm City ABC affiliate airs the show at 3 PM weekdays.
November 22, 2000
9 Makes Sports Changes
More tremors at Channel 9, this time in the sports department. Long-time weekend evening sports anchor Ken Mease is being replaced by Gerald Owens. Owens, a news reporter, had anchored 9's 5 AM weekday newscast prior to October. Mease moves to sports duties on the newly expanded weekend morning newscasts starting 12/16.
November 22, 2000
Duckman Released From Hospital
DC radio veteran Bob Duckman was released from Kernan Hospital in Baltimore on 11/22 after suffering neck injuries in a car accident six weeks before near his home in Anne Arundel County. He'll be spending the next month with therapy and rehab at home. Bob is half of the morning team on nostalgic WGAY (1260 AM) as well as the station's program director.
November 20, 2000
Doctor Wins Suit Against WJLA
A Fairfax County doctor has won a defamation suit against Channel 7, WJLA. On 11/20, Stephen Levin, a Vienna orthopedist, was awarded $2.5 million after a jury found that WJLA aired "defamatory statements (that) were false" about the doctor. Channel 7 produced a news report in November 1997 about the legitimacy of Levin's back pain treatment, which manipulated and stretched muscles near the pelvis. The station also featured an extensive print, radio, and TV promo campaign referring to Levin as the "Dirty Doc" and alleging that his exams involved "sexual assault." A WJLA lawyer said he hopes to have the verdict overturned on appeal.
November 17, 2000
Infinity Sells WBMD And WBGR
We heard on 11/17 that Infinity is selling two Baltimore AMers - WBMD (750) and WBGR (860) - to Expanse Communications for $5.4 million. Expanse is headed by Jeanell Hines, who's a 20-year veteran of Baltimore/DC area radio. Both stations have religious formats.
November 16, 2000
Mega Gets Funds
Silver Spring's Mega Communications is getting a $65 million infusion of funds from two big securities firms to help grow its Spanish language radio empire. So reports trade journal Radio And Records on 11/16. There was talk a few months ago that Mega's cash reserve was growing tight and the group might have to sell some stations, but Mega officials strongly denied that. With these new funds, look for Mega to add to its 20 stations in nine markets. In the DC area Mega owns WBZS, WPLC FM/AM, WKDL, and WKDM. Look for Mega to pick up properties in NYC, Miami, and LA.
November 14, 2000
Jacques Joins 9
Virg Jacques (right), a news anchor at Baltimore's Channel 11 WBAL, is moving to DC's Channel 9 WUSA. Jacques, who joined WBAL in 1993, was taken off the station's 5 PM newscast over the summer. Channel 9's new news director is Dave Roberts who used to be Channel 11's news director in the early 1990s before moving to Gannett's station in Atlanta. WUSA is also owned by Gannett. Meanwhile, 11 has hired Jeff Pegues from a Miami station to co-anchor its 5 PM newscast with Donna Hamilton. WUSA has also hired two new weekend weather guys - Keith Marler from Duluth and Howard Bernstein from Rochester/Oklahoma City. Also, Catherine Snyder takes the "number 2" senior executive news producer spot. Her dad is Jim Snyder, the man who built 9 into a news powerhouse in the 70s and 80s. Also, the new AM executive news producer is Susan Truitt, who's worked at 9 and 5.
November 14, 2000
Robert Trout Dies
Robert Trout, a broadcaster whose World War II radio reports held a nation spellbound, died on 11/14 in NYC at 91 of congestive heart failure. He got his start in 1931 as a handyman at WJSV in Mount Vernon Hills VA and soon became an on-air reporter. That station later moved to DC and became WTOP.
November 3, 2000
Viacom Buys DC's BET
Viacom made it official on 11/3 - it will indeed buy DC-based Black Entertainment Television, the African American-oriented cable TV network. Price tag - $2.5 billion. Viacom says BET will continue to be headquartered in DC and Robert Johnson will continue to be its head. DCRTV reported rumors of Viacom's plans on 10/30. Viacom owns CBS in addition to local TV channels 13/WJZ and 20/WDCA, as well as a batch of cable nets including MTV, Showtime, TNN, and Nickelodeon, along with a stake in Infinity Broadcasting which owns many DC/Baltimore area radio stations, not to mention the UPN broadcast network and Paramount movie studios. There has been talk that Viacom will use BET as an outlet for the black-oriented programming now carried on its UPN network in case UPN doesn't survive. Many of the most powerful UPN stations are owned by Chris Craft (like Baltimore's UPN 24), which Rupert Murdoch, who owns the competing Fox network, is buying.
October 28, 2000
1050 AM Becomes WPLC
As expected, Mega's 1050 AM in Silver Spring, now WPLC-AM (formerly WKDL), has flipped as of 10/28 to a simulcast of the Spanish adult contemporary "Amor" format which is also carried on 94.3, WPLC-FM in Warrenton VA. 1050 had been airing Mega's Mexican/Central American "Radio Capital" programming, which is now heard on 730 AM, WKDL (formerly WBZS) in Alexandria.
October 27, 2000
Former JMO's Kelly Demoted As PA Announcer By Skins
The Redskins on 10/27 replaced Bruce Kelly, former morning personality at WJMO (99.5 FM), as their main public address announcer at FedEx Field. Starting with the Skins/Titans Monday night game on 10/30 a variety of "local celebrities" will perform the public address duties. The Skins organization recently was fined by the National Football League for the antics of Kelly who incited too much crowd noise during the 10/1 Skins/Bucks game and for saying that Ravens fans "suck" during a 10/15 game between the DC and Baltimore teams. He is reportedly the first announcer in the history of the NFL to draw the league's wrath in the form of a fine. While Kelly will still handle some public address chores, he'll no longer be the main announcer. Kelly and WJMO parted company in late summer. He said he was leaving to tend to a case of skin cancer although some have speculated that his lowish ratings were also a cause for his departure.
October 25, 2000
Clear Channel Moves Studios
Clear Channel is making a few changes - studiowise. DC101 will be moving out of its Brookeville Road studios in Silver Spring and be co-located with CC's other DC area FMers (WJMO, WMZQ, WBIG, and WASH) at 1801 Rockville Pike in Rockville. WTEM, now located in a separate building in Rockville, will move over to Brookeville Road, where WGAY and WWRC already are. When the dust settles, all of CC's DC area FMers will be in Rockville and all of its DC area AMers will be in Silver Spring.
October 23, 2000
Duckman Improves After Car Accident
DC radio veteran Bob Duckman (left) is improving after a car accident on 10/12 in which he suffered neck injuries. Because of three broken vertebrae he'll be in traction for several weeks and could be back at work in 8 to 10 weeks. There is said to be no danger of paralysis. After leaving his Anne Arundel County home at 5 AM for the drive to work, Duckman was involved in a head-on collision with a stolen car. Following a foot chase, police arrested two men (both 21) who were in the stolen car. Duckman, 54, co-hosts (with Eddie Gallaher) the morning show on nostalgic WGAY (1260 AM) where he's also program director.
October 23, 2000
WNVC Goes Off Air For Tower Work
Public, internationally-formatted WNVC Channel 56 in Fairfax has gone off the air for a month starting 10/23 to do work on its tower in preparation for digital broadcasts. The station will continue to relay its signal via cable to several of the larger cable TV systems in the area. However, cable subscribers in Charles, Loudoun, and Prince William counties will lose WNVC's signal during this period, according to the station.
October 18, 2000
WHUR, WERQ Top Late Summer Arbitron Radio Ratings
WHUR is tops in DC, and WERQ is tops in Baltimore according to the summer Arbitron radio ratings, released 10/18. Big jumps for WJZW, DC101, WPLC, and WTOP, and big drops for WMAL, WARW, and WASH. In fact, WMAL's morning team of "Tim And Andy" plunged from 2nd to 11th place (while the news/talker slumped to 13th place overall). WJFK's afternoon team of "Don And Mike" took top honors in their time period. WKYS's Russ Parr and Olivia Fox won the morning drive battle among all listeners with TOP's news in close pursuit. Among the 25-54 demo, WRQX's Diamond/Weiss did well, as did WJFK's Howard Stern. Up in Baltimore, WXYV saw a big jump, while WBAL took a fall.
October 16, 2000
92.7 Goes Spanish
New 92.7 WBZS officially kicked-off its Spanish urban contemporary format on 10/16. Mega Communications fired up WBZS on 10/13 for test broadcasts. Mega had hoped to get 92.7 on the air by June, but delays in moving the Prince Frederick MD station's transmitter site closer to DC caused the start-up date to get pushed back. Mega cranked up its first area FMer, WPLC 94.3 in Warrenton VA, back in July.
October 11, 2000
Tower Company To Sue DC
As expected, American Tower Corporation appeared in federal court on 10/11 to sue the District Of Columbia for recently revoking a permit for a partially constructed communications tower at 41st and Wisconsin that might have been used by area TV stations for their digital TV broadcasts. Construction of the structure, which is 200 feet taller than the Washington Monument, began in early September. Originally DC's planning department had said that the tower plans fell within zoning regs and had recommended its approval. However, last week the construction permit was revoked. Citing height restrictions, area residents had called on DC Mayor Anthony Williams to find a way to stop the project which would be the tallest structure in the city if completed.
September 26, 2000
Shutt Named To 9's Top Weather Position, Howard Joins Weather Team
Despite all the news changes at 9 (below), DCRTV heard on 9/26 that Topper Shutt has been named chief meteorologist at WUSA, officially replacing Doug Hill, who defected to Channel 7 last May. (Hill's old Channel 9 contract prevents him from being seen on 7 until December.) There was talk that 9 had been looking for a new head weatherman. Also, Hillary Howard has been named weekday morning and noon weathercaster at 9. Howard had been a weekend news anchor and weekday news reporter at Channel 5 (she started there in 1989 as a weather person), but she parted company with WTTG during the summer of 1999. Recently, Howard has been doing some morning weather sub work at WUSA.
September 25, 2000
Channel 9 Cancels 4 PM Newscast, Makes Other Changes
Big changes at Channel 9 as the station officially surrenders the "top news" crown in the DC market to Channel 4. DCRTV learned on 9/25 that WUSA, whose newscasts once ruled the local TV news arena but lately have been stuck in 2nd and 3rd place, is dropping its 4 PM newscast as well as cutting a half hour off the end of its three-hour (4 PM to 7 PM) evening news block. Starting 10/16, Montel Williams' talk show will take over the 4 PM slot. 9's local news will go from 5 PM until 6:30 PM (instead of 7 PM), the CBS network news will air at 6:30 PM (instead of 7 PM), and game show "To Tell The Truth" will air at 7 PM. WUSA is moving evening anchors Mike Buchanan and Andrea Roane to its 5 AM to 7 AM news broadcast. Gordon Peterson and J.C. Hayward will anchor the 5 PM to 6 PM news block, with newcomer Gurvir Dhindsa co-anchoring the 6 PM and 11 PM newscasts with Peterson. Hayward will also anchor the noon news. Gerald Owens moves to weekend morning anchor with Jennifer Ryan. Bruce Johnson continues to do the weekend evening and 11 shows. The big losers, obviously, are Beverly Burke and Peggy Fox who will no longer anchor and will become reporters. However, WUSA will be adding an hour of news at 9 AM (while Channel 4 drops its 9 AM newscast for an extra hour of the "Today Show"). All this comes with the arrival of a new news director at Gannett's 9. NBC-owned Channel 4, WRC, which has been winning the TV news ratings battle lately, will continue with its 4 PM to 7 PM local news block.
September 25, 2000
WTOP Won't Carry Orioles Next Year
After 22 years, all-newser WTOP (1500 AM/107.7 FM) dumps the Orioles for next season and it looks like the struggling (winning-wise) Birds could be flying to all-sports WTEM (980 AM). The Orioles home team station in Baltimore will remain WBAL (1090 AM). TOP only carried O's games this season if they aired on weekends or on weekday evenings so as not to interfere with TOP's promise of "traffic and weather on the 8's."
September 22, 2000
Viacom Puts Channel 20 Up For Sale
It looks like Viacom is planning to sell or trade away DC's WDCA Channel 20. We hear that Viacom, which recently acquired CBS, wants to sell its non-CBS stations (WDCA is a UPN station) in markets where it doesn't already own the CBS station. Because of FCC ownership cap rules, it is advantageous for a single owner to own more than one TV station in a market. In the DC market, Gannett (not CBS) owns the CBS affiliate (WUSA Channel 9). So, WDCA (which was owned by Paramount which got gobbled up by Viacom) as well as stations in places like Norfolk, Atlanta, Houston, and Seattle, are up for sale - or more likely, trade. It looks like a likely bidder for 20 could be Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Fox network which owns DC's Channel 5, WTTG. Fox could pair 5 and 20 in DC. And Murdoch could even sell Baltimore's Channel 24 WUTB (a UPN affiliate), which he recently acquired, to Viacom/CBS to pair with Charm City's CBS-owned WJZ, Channel 13.
September 22, 2000
TOP To Add 820 AM
DCRTV learned on 9/22 that DC's all-news station, WTOP, will be adding a new AM frequency, creating a "trimulcast," starting in December on 820 AM in Frederick. TOP owner Bonneville owns 820 WXTR and currently programs classic country on the station. With the addition of 820, TOP says it will be able to cover a hole in its coverage area including the Frederick and upper Montgomery county areas, as well as eastern Loudoun County. WXTR has a 4,300-watt signal during the day and 430-watts at night. TOP's main 50,000-watt AM frequency at 1500 is highly directional and does not put out a lot of wattage to the west and southwest of its Wheaton transmitter site, particularly at night. Several years ago TOP started an FM relay from Warrenton, first on 94.3, then on 107.7, to improve the station's coverage in Virginia. Earlier this year, TOP also kicked off "WTOP 2," an internet only audio stream which focuses on the activities of the federal government.
September 19, 2000
Katz Leaves RQX
DCRTV reported earlier in September that Lou Katz (right) had left WRQX, but now we hear in the 9/19 Post that he resigned after he and his station conducted unsuccessful negotiations on a new contract. Apparently RQX operations director Steve Kosbau had offered a new contract to replace a previous five-year deal, but Katz said he wanted to do other jobs (not revealed) at the station in addition to his afternoon shift. Katz has yet to land a gig at any other area station.
September 18, 2000
Lewin Joins BAL Radio
Former Orioles announcer Josh Lewin will return to Baltimore's WBAL (1090 AM) for a nightly two-hour sports talk show to run during the baseball off-season. Lewin left Baltimore a while back to join the Detroit Tigers broadcasting team and will do his show from the Motor City.
September 15, 2000
WASA Is Sold
WASA (1330 AM) in Havre De Grace MD has been purchased by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a coalition of predominantly African-American ministers, and will drop its relay of Baltimore's nostalgic music WWLG (1360 AM) in early October in favor of a gospel based religious format. Mangione Enterprises, which owns WWLG as well as Baltimore talker WCBM (680 AM), recently sold WASA, which is located northeast of Baltimore in Harford County. The religious alliance group is creating the People's Broadcast Network and will have stations in Louisiana and Texas, in addition to WASA.
September 12, 2000
JHU GM Bolts
Baltimore's WJHU (88.1 FM) has lost its general manager Ray Dilley. He went on vacation in August and never came back, so reports the 9/13 Baltimore Sun. Dilley is credited with turning the Johns Hopkins University owned station from a money losing operation into one that is financially solvent, as well as putting increased emphasis on its news operations.
September 12, 2000
9's News Director Leaves
DCRTV learned on 9/12 that Paul Irvin, news director at Gannett-owned WUSA, Channel 9, has left. His replacement is Dave Roberts who comes from Gannett's WXIA-TV in Atlanta. Before coming to Atlanta in 1996, Roberts was the news director of Baltimore's WBAL-TV for four years. Irvin had been at 9 for about a year and a half while the station's newscasts have generally maintained a hold on second place in the DC market, behind Channel 4's. An article in the 9/13 Washington Post says that Irvin was shown the door and quotes WUSA top anchor Gordon Peterson as saying that he "didn't perform in the way the general manager wanted him to perform".
September 11, 2000
WNST Returns To Sports
Baltimore/Towson's WNST (1570 AM) has returned to an all-sports format starting 9/11. The station had been broadcasting religious talk under the Catholic Family Radio banner, but earlier this year CFR went belly up and put its stations up for sale. The station will now air local sports talk programming during the mornings and afternoons including "Nasty" Nestor Aparicio (left) from 2 PM to 6 PM, as well as One On One Sports net programming on evenings and weekends. "Nasty" had been heard on biz talker WBIS (1190 AM). WNST was a sports talker before its sale to CFR. Aparicio says that he and a bunch of his sports buddies are buying the station.
September 10, 2000
Comcast And Fox Settle HTS Dispute
Comcast and Fox have settled a legal dispute over the sale of Home Team Sports. Viacom/CBS announced its was selling HTS, the mid-Atlantic sports network, to Comcast in early summer. But Fox, which was a part owner of HTS with CBS, had filed a suit to stop the sale. However, a deal was announced in early September in which Comcast will trade the Midwest Sports Channel (which it acquired from CBS along with HTS) to Fox. With that deal, Fox will drop its suit against Comcast's purchase of HTS. Fox, claiming it did not receive the "same consideration" from Viacom/CBS, had been angered that Comcast had apparently agreed to add some Viacom-owned networks to its DC area cable line-ups as part of the deal to buy HTS. Meanwhile, Comcast is indeed adding a batch of Viacom networks - MTV2, MTV Spanish, MTV Xtreme, VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul, VH1 Country, as well as a variety of Nickelodeon and Sundance Channel multiplexes - (along with Encore and Discovery multiplexes including BBC America) to its local digital cable system services (Alexandria and Reston) this month. Look for a name change for HTS by early 2001.
August 30, 2000
Wheaton Spanish station WACA, 1540 AM, has been sold. The seller - Entravision. The buyer - the station's general manager Alejandro Carrasco, who owns AC Communications. The price - $2.5 million. Carrasco has been operating the station under a local marketing agreement for the past three years.
August 29, 2000
Hagerstown's 104.7 Goes Country
104.7 FM, formerly WWMD, in Hagerstown MD is now WAYZ. The WWMD calls are now on 101.5 FM, formerly WAYZ, in Chambersburg PA. 104.7 started simulcasting 101.5's country format on 8/29. When it was WWMD, 104.7 was one of the last remaining old-fashioned easy listening stations. The switch was expected after the station was sold earlier this summer. The new owners had announced plans to put country on 104.7 and move the easy listening (or another format) to another station they own on 101.5. The 104.7 signal makes it to the DC area; the Pennsylvania 101.5 signal does not. DCRTV does hear that Hagerstown's 1240 AM, WJEJ, (which was co-owned with the old WWMD) may continue with the easy listening format, but the closest its signal gets to the DC area is Frederick.
August 27, 2000
Haber Leaves 5 For NYC
Channel 5 sports anchor Brett Haber (left) will be doing the 11 PM sportscast at NYC's WCBS-TV when he makes the move to the Big Apple in September. In addition to his late news sports anchor chores for WCBS-TV, Haber will be doing assignments for CBS Sports. A WTTG source says NY native Haber calls it his "dream job." Meanwhile, Channel 5 has signed Dave Feldman from ESPN as a sports anchor and reporter. DCRTV broke the news about Haber's move in early August. Former Channel 9 sports anchor Warner Wolf will continue to do WCBS-TV's 6 PM sportscast. Wolf worked at 9 in the 1970s, left for NYC, and returned to 9 in the early 1990s after the death of Glenn Brenner. After a few years he left again for NYC and was replaced by Ken Broo, who was later replaced by Jess Atkinson. Wolf can also be heard on Don Imus's morning radio show which is carried on WTEM (980 AM).
August 27, 2000
Hill Installs Doppler Radar For 7
If you've seen former Channel 9 weatherman Doug Hill (right) walking through the fields near Bowie lately you may have thought it was your imagination. But it wasn't. DCRTV hears that Hill, who'll be joining Channel 7's on-air staff in December, is busy installing state of the art Doppler weather radar in the Prince Georges County suburb. WJLA has promised a big upgrade in its weather department, and Hill, who said adios to 9 last May, seems to be intent on delivering.
August 26, 2000
Stern's TV Show Returns To DC Market
Howard Stern's broadcast TV show returns to the DC market courtesy of Channel 20, WDCA. "The Howard Stern Radio Show" will now be seen on Saturdays starting on 9/2 at 11 PM. Channel 20 was recently acquired by CBS (which is owned by Viacom) and CBS's Eyemark syndicates the show. The King Of All Media's show has been missing from the DC market since last year when it was axed by Channel 50, WBDC (after moving the show to the wee hours of the morning), for failing to generate ratings and advertisers. The Stern TV show is also carried on Baltimore's WJZ, Channel 13, a CBS-owned station, each Saturday at 11:30 PM. In addition, Stern (left) has a nightly cable TV show on Entertainment Television along with his morning radio show on WJFK (106.7 FM/1300 AM).
August 25, 2000
Simulcast Of WKCW Ends On 1460
The Asian programming now heard on WKDV, 1460 AM in Manassas, is brokered, or paid, programming. If time is not sold on the station, it will carry a simulcast of traditional country WKCW, 1420 AM, in Warrenton, which WKDV had been relaying most of the summer. WKDV kicked off the Asian programming (either Korean or Chinese) on 8/25. WKDV was purchased by Multicultural Broadcasting in the early summer along with Arlington's WZHF, 1390 AM, (which has a separate Chinese talk/music format) and WKCW, a long-time country station.
August 22, 2000
Kelly Says Goodbye To WJMO
Bruce Kelly, morning man on "Jammin' Oldies" WJMO (99.5 FM), has said goodbye to his station, effective 8/24. Kelly will undergo surgery for skin cancer and that the prognosis is excellent for a full recovery. Kelly told AA: "I hate to seem like a copycat of my good friend and Arizona buddy Senator John McCain, but this has been unfolding for a few weeks now. And this is my priority - to get well." Despite Kelly's recent health woes, there has been talk in recent weeks that changes were coming to 99.5 to help stop its ratings slide, particularly with its ownership changing from AMFM to Clear Channel.
August 20, 2000
5 Says Goodbye To Binswanger
Channel 5 says farewell to Fox Morning News anchor Josh Binswanger (left) after station management decided that his new job as co-host of The History Channel's new "This Week In History" show conflicts with his duties at WTTG. His last day at 5 was 8/23. "We're really sorry to see him go, but we know this is a great opportunity for him and wish him the best of luck," WTTG news director Katherine Green told the Post. But, she added, "he's moving into an arena that is viewed as a competitive environment with news. We felt that he would have to do one thing or the other."
August 16, 2000
Segal To Be Syndicated?
DCRTV hears that DC101 morning man Elliot Segal is close to signing a syndication deal with rocker WWDC's new owner Clear Channel. The word is that Segal's show may also be heard in other mid-Atlantic markets, on Clear Channel stations in Roanoke, Martinsburg, Baltimore (classic rocker WOCT?), Richmond, and Virginia Beach. Washington Post radio columnist Frank Ahrens says that Segal is building a house in Montgomery County so it looks like previous rumors of his return to NYC (he came from Big Apple contemporary hit outlet Z-100 last year) are unfounded.
August 16, 2000
Mega Renames 92.7 WBZS
Mega Communications has changed the calls on 92.7 FM (formerly WMJS) in Prince Frederick MD to WBZS-FM and plans to start simulcasting the Spanish dance/urban format from Alexandria's 730 (WBZS-AM) on 92.7 by late August or early September, Mega head Alfredo Alonso tells DCRTV on 8/14. The new transmitter site for 92.7 is in Sunderland MD, about 10 miles closer to DC than the previous MJS transmitter was. Alonso says that the recent bout of stormy weather has delayed work on the new transmitter site. Originally, he hoped to start his second area Spanish FMer earlier this summer (Mega's first area FMer, WPLC 94.3 in Warrenton VA, started broadcasting in early July). Alonso also confirms that 1600 AM in Rockville is now WKDM. The former WNNY calls have been moved to Mega's new Spanish all-news NYC station (formerly WKDM). Alonso adds that Mega has made no decision about the future of 1600 - it may continue to broadcast Radio Unica, it may become a simulcast of 92.7, or Mega might sell it. Meanwhile, a published rumor that Silver Spring-based Mega is on the verge of being purchased by an Anglo concern is being flatly denied by Mega officials. Inside Radio, a radio industry publication, speculated on 8/15 that Mega was up for sale. However, Mega chief Alfredo Alonso tells DCRTV that there is absolutely no truth to the rumor. The 8/16 New York Post says that "Mega is shopping its 20 stations for $50 million after vainly trying cost-cutting and refinancing. Spanish programming, according to Inside Radio, isn't generating enough revenue to keep Mega in the black".
August 14, 2000
Johnny Batchelder, an announcer and reporter who once worked at Channel 7 (then WMAL-TV) as well as WMAL radio, among other area stations, died of a stroke on 8/14 in Florida at age 83.
August 11, 2000
HFS DJ Johnny Riggs Resigns
WHFS PM drive DJ Johnny Riggs (left) submitted his resignation on 8/10 to the alternative rocker, 99.1's general manager Phil Zachary confirmed to DCRTV. The station aired a formal announcement about Riggs' departure on 8/11. In a statement posted at www.whfs.com, Riggs says: "Rather than be a radio pariah, and subject the station to further jokes and insults, I've decided to move on." Riggs pleaded guilty on 8/8 to possession of child pornography and was suspended by Infinity-owned station. Zachary tells DCRTV that he's upset that "a certain DC station" (obviously competing rocker DC101 and its morning man Elliot Segal) has "seen fit to crucify (Riggs) with blatent lies." Riggs, 38, was charged in late 1999 after police searched his Ellicott City home. The search of Riggs's home came after the Customs Service provided information that he might have been trying to buy anabolic steroids over the internet. According to Howard County court documents, police found small quantities of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, along with computer pornography. In exchange for his guilty plea to the porn charge, prosecutors agreed to dismiss three drug possession charges if Riggs completes a treatment program. Zachary said that station management learned only recently about the charges against Riggs. Assistant program director Bob Waugh takes over the 2 PM to 6 PM shift.
August 4, 2000
Joyner Moves From HUR To MMJ
Staring 8/28, Tom Joyner (right) will have a new radio home in DC and it will be Radio One's adult urban contemporary outlet WMMJ (102.3 FM). Joyner has been heard on Howard University's adult urban WHUR (96.3 FM). Joyner, who does his show from Dallas, is one of the top rated morning personalities in the DC area. Joyner had been on 96.3 five years. Joyner admits that he's sorry to be leaving HUR. He has issued a statement: "WHUR has been more than an affiliate of 'The Tom Joyner Morning Show.' They have been a flagship station of our morning show. They are owned by Howard University, and everyone knows how I feel about supporting black colleges. With the state of the radio industry, it is harder and harder for independent operators to succeed. WHUR has defied these odds and I feel privileged to have contributed to their success. Our partnership with WHUR has been a valued one and I will miss being part of their family." Joyner's deal with Radio One puts him on its stations in Boston and Houston, too.
July 28, 2000
Don And Mike Censored On NYC Station
WJFK's "Don And Mike" claim that their show is being censored on New York's hot talker WNEW-FM by, of all people, their former JFK program director Jeremy Coleman, who now holds that post at the NYC station. The edict recently went out that no anti-Howard Stern talk was to be allowed on WNEW, which Infinity/CBS owns along with Howard's NYC station, WXRK. Apparently the 106.7/JFK (which is also owned by Infinity/CBS) duo, who are actually Mike O'Meara and Mike Sorce (right), mentioned Stern during the first hour of their 7/28 afternoon show which is supposed to air on WNEW via tape delay the same evening. That hour of programming was not aired on WNEW and, according to the New York Post, D&M left a "very peppered message" on Coleman's answering machine.
July 24, 2000
Fox Sues To Stop HTS Sale
Fox Sports Net, which owns a minority stake in Home Team Sports, filed suit in late July to block the sale of the mid-Atlantic regional sports network to Comcast. MultiChannel News reports that a suit filed by FSN's holding company seeks to stop Viacom from completing the sale of its majority stake in HTS to Comcast. FSN, which owns about one-third of Bethesda-based HTS, claims that its so-called "tag-along" rights were violated when Viacom agreed to sell its stake in HTS to Comcast. The suit alleges that Comcast is compensating Viacom by agreeing to increase distribution for Viacom-owned cable networks and that the value of such noncash "consideration" is about $155 million. Yet, the suit maintains that Fox offered Viacom $250 million for its majority stake in HTS alone and it was turned down.
July 24, 2000
Non-Commercial GTS Launches Ad Campaign
Non-commercial religious outlet WGTS (91.9 FM) has embarked on a promotional campaign that includes ads on major TV stations including one that aired at 6:45 AM 7/25 on Channel 9. You don't often see TV ads for non-commercial radio stations. According to John Konrad, general manager of the Takoma Park station, the ad campaign started in April with the religious Dove Awards and the airing of a Jesus movie on 9. He says a donor gave the station funds specifically for the ads on Channel 9. The GTS promo campaign will escalate when the Columbia Union College-owned station moves its transmitter to a tower in Northern Virginia and increases its power by the end of the year. Check out the GTS promo at DCRTV's Jingleland.
July 24, 2000
Fire Strikes FMers In Rockville
A fire on the evening of 7/24 forced the evacuation of the Rockville studio facilities of AMFM's WBIG, WJMO, WMZQ, and WASH. A rooftop fire of undetermined origin, producing brown smoke, caused the fire department to evacuate 1801 Rockville Pike at 6:10 PM forcing all four FMers to be put into automated mode for half an hour to 45 minutes as most of the stations' personnel waited outside the building on the street below. Luckily, says WBIG's Steven Ray, the fire department was located right around the corner and was there within seconds after the smoke was first spotted. WBIG's Goldie returned to the studio to resume his shift at 6:53 PM.
July 23, 2000
DJ Douglas "Jocko" Henderson died 7/15 in Philadelphia at age 82 (although some reports had him in his 70s). A Baltimore native, Mr. Henderson started his career at Charm City's WSID (1010 AM) in 1952 developing a very distinctive jive-talking, rhyming patter to the then new rhythm 'n blues music he played. A year later he left for Philadelphia's WDAS-AM, and in the late 50s launched "Jocko's Rocketship" at NYC's WLIB and eventually worked at a number of other Big Apple radio and TV stations, including a number of recent appearances on NYC oldies WCBS-FM`s "Radio Greats Weekends." Mr. Henderson's son, Doug, does overnights at Philadelphia adult urban contemporary outlet WDAS-FM.
July 23, 2000
Gene Creasy, who in the 1960s was the program director of Baltimore's WITH and WCAO, died on 7/17 in Richmond at 72. He'd been suffering from cancer. "He was one of the guys who took Elvis mainstream, and...he was the voice of Firestone," Z104's Sean Sellers told the Richmond Times Dispatch. Sellers worked with Mr. Creasy at WLCQ in Clarksville VA during the early 1980s. "When I met him, I was in awe. He had this booming deep voice. I always thought of him as a cross between Clark Gable and John Wayne," Sellers added.
July 23, 2000
No Changes Predicted In AMFM/Clear Channel Merger
Bennett Zier (right), executive VP for AMFM's eight DC area stations (WWDC, WBIG, WASH, WMZQ, WJMO, WWRC, WTEM, and WGAY), tells the Montgomery Business Gazette in a July interview that Clear Channel probably won't change the formats (or have any layoffs) at any local stations when it merges with AMFM in the near future. He tells the Gazette that AMFM's DC area stations are consistently ranked by Arbitron as some of the most popular in the Washington market.
July 22, 2000
Taylor Leaves WARW
Sarah Taylor, general manager at WARW (94.7 FM), has left the classic rocker. Phil Zachary, general manager at alternative rocker WHFS (99.1 FM), will now also take on the WARW duties. So reports All Access radio industry news. Both stations are owned by Infinity/CBS. WARW's ratings have been slowly rising of late, while WHFS's have been in a long, slow slump.
July 21, 2000
WZHF Looks For Brokered Programming
Multicultural Broadcasting President Arthur Liu tells the VOA's "Communications World" program in mid-July that the Chinese language programming on his requently acquired WZHF (1390 AM) in Arlington is being relayed from NYC just to fill space for unsold blocks of time. Liu said he hopes to soon sell 1390's airtime for a wide range of ethnic programming which could include Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, Chinese, and more.
July 16, 2000
Christie Basham, who had a 40-year network news career including service as an executive producer for news and public affairs at WETA, Channel 26, died of cancer 7/16 at her home in DC. She was 68. Mrs. Basham started her career in the 1950s at the Washington Star newspaper. During the next three decades, she handled production and other administrative duties for the Washington news bureaus of NBC and CBS.
July 13, 2000
Former DC101 Personality Sean Donahue Dies
Former DC101/98 Rock personality Sean Donahue (left), son of the late rock radio pioneer Tom Donahue, died in a single vehicle accident near Great Falls, Montana on 7/8. He'd worked in the DC/Baltimore area in the 1980s and moved out to "Big Sky" country in the early 1990s, where he worked at several radio stations, including five years at KMMS, "The Moose." A memorial service for Sean was held on 7/13.
July 12, 2000
Bob Bassett, 71, who hosted jazz and big band programs in the 1980s at Arlington's WEAM (1390 AM) and Baltimore's WITH (1230 AM) and whose signature song was "Stardust," died 7/6 at his home in Columbia, the Washington Post reported 7/13. He had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. According to the Post, Mr. Bassett attempted to play a different version of "Stardust" every day on his radio program. He also helped the Smithsonian Institution produce big band-type records and was one of the masters of ceremonies of the Kennedy Center's Kool Jazz Festival. He retired from broadcasting in 1988.
July 12, 2000
WJHU Wants To Start News Department
Baltimore public station WJHU (88.1 FM) is seeking $500,000 to fund a local news department. The Baltimore Sun reports 7/12 that the Johns Hopkins University-owned station hopes to supplement its airings of NPR staples "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" with detailed local news stories, following a model set by other public stations like DC's WAMU.
July 11, 2000
Comcast Buys Home Team Sports
Comcast is buying Home Team Sports. The Philadelphia-based cable company is purchasing the mid-Atlantic regional sports cable/satellite network for $300 million as part of a deal that also involves the acquisition of two mid-western cable sports nets. Comcast will soon own all (except Fairfax County) of the cable systems in the immediate DC area. Another suitor for HTS was said to be Fox Sports Net, which already had a minority ownership stake in network. CBS, following its merger with Viacom, had announced that it wanted to sell its majority interest in HTS. Comcast already runs the Comcast Sports Net, which serves the Philadelphia area. Also, HTS will continue to carry Fox Sports Net programming. There was talk that Comcast would drop the FSN shows including a planned 11 PM local sports report. The ownership transfer won't take place until late this year.
July 10, 2000
XM Opens New DC Facility
XM Satellite Radio on 7/10 opened a 150,000 square-foot headquarters facility in northeast DC, including a digital radio broadcast facility that is said to be both the largest in the US and the first end-to-end digital radio complex ever built. The facility, also a programming center, features more than 80 inter-connected audio studios including a two-story 2,300 square-foot performance studio.
July 10, 2000
Imus Back At Work
Three weeks after falling off a horse and suffering extensive injuries, Don Imus returned to hosting his morning show on 7/10. He does the program from his New Mexico ranch, where his mishap occurred. Imus is heard locally on WTEM (980 AM). Imus said he almost died twice in the hospital.
July 8, 2000
Channel 4's News Seen On 66
We hear that NBC 4's local 11 PM newscast is showing up on Pax's WPXW/66 at 11:30 PM, starting on Saturday, 7/8. NBC owns a stake in the family-oriented Pax network and has been running some programs on Pax on a delayed basis. Speaking of Channel 4/WRC, is the Peacock net station in DC running prime time infomercials these days? A half-hour Ronco "show" appeared in the key 7 PM slot on Saturday. If 66 is going to look more like 4, then is 4 going to look more like 66?.
July 7, 2000
WZHF Goes Chinese
Multicultural started its Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) format on Arlington's WZHF, 1390 AM as of 7/7. Multicultural recently acquired the station from Mega which moved the previous Spanish adult contemporary format to 94.3 FM.
July 6, 2000
WKDV Goes Country
1460 AM, WKDV in Manassas has started relaying the traditional country sounds of Warrenton's 1420 WKCW. Both stations are now owned by Multicultural Broadcasting. 1460 had been broadcasting a Spanish language music format under its previous owner, Mega Broadcasting. Also, Multicultural has started a Chinese format on Arlington's AM 1390, WZHF. 1390, another Mega to Multicultural swap, had been broadcasting a Spanish love songs format which recently moved to Mega's 1600 AM, WNNY in Rockville, partly replacing Radio Unica. The "Amor" format can also be heard on Mega's 94.3 FM out of Warrenton.
July 6, 2000
New Calls For 64
Low power DC area Telemundo affiliate, WZGS-LP, Channel 64, is now WZDC-LP.
July 6, 2000
WERQ Staffer Murdered
All Access radio industry news reported 6/27 that WERQ (92.3 FM) Promotions Assistant Larry Hines was found murdered early on the morning of 6/24. Hines left a Baltimore nightclub and was later found shot to death in a vacant home. Police suspect that Hines may have been the victim of a botched robbery, All Access adds.
July 6, 2000
Adelphia Adds More Local Cable Systems
While Comcast may be busy building a "cluster" of cable TV systems in the immediate DC and Baltimore areas, Adelphia is busy creating one northwest and southwest of the DC/Baltimore metroplex. Adelphia announced in late June that it will acquire cable systems serving Orange and Culpeper VA from AT&T (formerly TCI). In early June, Adelphia announced that it will buy GS Communications, a Frederick MD-based publishing/media firm that owns cable TV systems serving 155,000 subscribers in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Adelphia also owns the Loudoun County cable system, along with other Virginia cable systems serving a total of 700,000 subscribers.
July 5, 2000
Hill Off Until December
When we earlier reported that you won't see Doug Hill doing the weather on Channel 7 until this fall we were right, well, kind of. DCRTV has heard that the popular weatherman, whose last day on Channel 9 was May 31, has a non-compete clause in his contract which forbids him to be on the air on another area TV station until the end of the November ratings sweeps. Which means Doug won't show up on 7 until the very late fall, like around Thanksgiving or later. Fall doesn't technically end until around December 21.
July 1, 2000
WPLC Goes Spanish
Mega Broadcasting started its Spanish love songs, "Amor," format on Warrenton's WPLC, 94.3 FM on 7/1. The Amor format had been also heard on 1390 AM in Arlington, but can now be heard part-time on 1600 AM in Rockville. Until 6/30, WPLC had broadcast an English modern adult contemporary format.
July 1, 2000
WINX Calls Retired
It's official, the legendary WINX call letters, which have been in use at some frequency in the DC area for many decades, are now retired. 1600 AM in Rockville is now WNNY. (Are the calls being "parked" for future use at a new Mega station in NYC?) Mega received the new calls from the FCC on 6/16. Does this change mean Mega is planning to apply for new calls on some of its other stations like 92.7, 94.3, 730 or 1050?
June 26, 2000
Channel 20 Plans To Air Dr. Laura
Channel 20 plans to air the new Dr. Laura TV show this fall despite local protests against the program. The Washington Blade reported in its 6/30 edition that 300 people gathered at Dupont Circle on 6/25 to protest "the anti-Gay rhetoric" of Dr. Laura Schlessinger (right) who has called homosexuality "deviant" and "a biological error." More than 600 also sent letters to WDCA asking the station not to air the program. According to the Blade, Gay And Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) regional media director Cathy Renna said that despite a recent meeting she had with WDCA officials, the station still plans to carry the daily, hour-long talk show. A WDCA official reportedly said that the only way the station would not air the show was if syndicator Paramount cancelled it. Channel 20 is owned by Paramount's UPN network which is in turn owned by CBS/Viacom. Dr. Laura's radio show is heard each weekday on WMAL and WCBM.
June 15, 2000
Westwood One Buys SmarTraveler
Westwood One has announced that it will purchase SmartRoute Systems, which operates the SmarTraveler traffic information service that provides rush hour reports to area cable TV systems and via the internet at www.smartraveler.com. Westwood One already owns Shadow Traffic and Metro Networks, which provide traffic info to radio and TV stations.
June 10, 2000
Another Carpenter Joins 5
Deborah Carpenter has been named VP/general manager at WTTG, Channel 5. She replaces Laureen Ong who left to head the DC-based National Geographic Channel's US operations. Carpenter had been holding sales positions at several Chicago area TV stations. Her father, Bill Carpenter, was in charge of WTTG from 1971 to 1980; he died in 1997.
June 7, 2000
New FM Spanish Formats Due
July is the kick-off month for the new FM Spanish language formats on WMJS (92.7) and WPLC (94.3). Mega, which owns both stations, had hoped to launch its new formats in June but it is still installing a new tower for Prince Frederick MD's WMJS. However, the two stations will not be programmed together as some had predicted. We hear that easy listening WMJS will feature an Hispanic urban format and be co-programmed with Alexandria's WBZS (730 AM). Warrenton VA's modern adult contemporary WPLC will feature a love songs, "Amor" format, which is currently heard on WZHF (1390 AM) in Arlington. ZHF was recently sold to Multicultural Broadcasting.
June 6, 2000
4's News Dominates May Ratings Sweeps
Channel 4, WRC's news dominated the overall May 2000 TV "sweeps" ratings numbers. 4's newscasts took first place at 5 AM, 6 AM, 4 PM, 5 PM, 6 PM, and at 11 PM. Channel 9, WUSA's newscasts took second place at 5 AM, 4 PM, 5 PM, 6 PM, and at 11 PM. WUSA's noon newscast took first place in a battle with Channel 5, WTTG. Channel 7, WJLA's newscasts took 3rd place during the early evening periods and at 11 PM; the station did mount a 2nd place finish at 6 AM. Channel 5's 10 PM newscast dropped a bit from last year to come in at 4th place in comparison with 4, 7 and 9's 11 PM newscasts. 5's 7 AM news placed 3rd behind 4's "Today Show" and 7's "Good Morning America"; the CBS "Early Show" on 9 placed a distant 4th, down substantially from a year ago when 9 ran local news during the 7 AM time period.
June 5, 2000
TOP To Go For Redskins?
Will Bonneville (owner of WTOP) try to intercept the radio broadcast rights to the Washington Redskins from Infinity (WJFK)? Sources say TOP wants a sports team that's a Washington team (not a Baltimore team like the O's are). Plus, with games mainly on Sundays, TOP's weekday news programming would not be affected. There is one "small" hitch, we hear, the Skins want BIG bucks.
June 3, 2000
Baltimore TV Personalities Head For NYC
Tony Pann, Channel 11 weatherman, heads to NYC's WCBS-TV to handle the weekend weather chores. He's the second Baltimore TV personality to recently move to the Big Apple. Charm City's Channel 2 news anchor Todd McDermott also joins the WCBS-TV roster.
June 2, 2000
WJZ Does Well In Baltimore TV Ratings
Channel 13's news was the ratings champ during the May TV ratings "sweeps" in Baltimore. CBS-owned WJZ posted news victories at 6 AM, at noon, at 6 PM and at 11 PM. The Channel 11 WBAL news team won at 5 PM, and came in a strong second to 13 at 11 PM. While the news for Channel 2 WMAR's newscasts was not so good, the station did post some viewership increases at 11 PM.
June 1, 2000
Hill Leaves 9 For 7
Channel 9's chief weathercaster Doug Hill bolts for Channel 7. He'd been at WUSA since the early 1980s. Meanwhile, 7's General Manager Chris Pike is quoted as saying that WJLA plans to "significantly upgrade" its weather department. Hill's last day at 9 was May 31. He is due to appear on 7 this fall.
June 1, 2000
Changes For SmarTraveler On Cox Cable
SmarTraveler, the local cable TV morning traffic service shown on some DC area cable systems, won't be dumped from Fairfax County's Cox system after all. Cox previously announced that SmarTraveler was one of the channels it was dropping on 6/1 to make way for stuff like the "fair and balanced" right-slanted Fox News Channel. But now we hear that SmarTraveler can still be seen on Cox Cable channel 35 as of 6/1.
June 1, 2000
WNST Relays EWTN
We hear that Towson MD's WNST (1570 AM) is now relaying audio from the Catholic-based Eternal World TV Network. The station is owned by Catholic Family Radio which has put WNST and its chain of stations up for sale. CFR had been programming a religious-based talk format on its radio stations before switching to EWTN on Memorial Day weekend.
May 31, 2000
Changes At HTS
Management changes at HTS pending its sale from CBS to either Fox Sports Net, Comcast, or someone else. Jody Shapiro, who has been general manager since the regional sports network network was formed in 1984, leaves to join NBA management.
May 17, 2000
On 5/17 the FCC hit WJFK owner Infinity Broadcasting with a $4000 fine for airing the conversation of a Texas woman live, without her permission. The incident stems from an August 1999 Don & Mike show when the pair called the El Cenizo, Texas town hall to ask why some town meetings were being held in Spanish. Don & Mike (actually Mike Sorce and Mike O'Meara) then remarked that if folks didn't want to speak English then they should go back to Mexico. The exchange got the rowdy radio duo kicked off an Albuquerque station. Several months ago, the FCC came to the same conclusion about WJFK's fault during a preliminary examination of this incident. Apparently, in the latest round, Infinity officials argued that WJFK aired the woman's comments via a tape delay (not live) and therefore the FCC rule did not apply. The Commission did not buy that argument.
May 16, 2000
Channel 20 To Carry Dr. Laura
WDCA Channel 20 is planning to carry Dr. Laura Schlessinger's controversial TV talk show when it takes to the airwaves this fall. Gay activist group GLAAD is planing to "mobilize an effective group of people to rally" against WDCA's decision to carry the program. On 5/30 gay representatives met with WDCA officials. The doc, whose radio show airs on WMAL (630 AM) and WCBM (680 AM), has been under pressure from gay and lesbian groups who are angry over Schlessinger's on-air remarks about homosexuality as "deviant" and "a biological error".
May 15, 2000
Stern Explores Leaving Infinity
Shock jock Howard Stern has indicated that he is exploring the possibility of leaving Infinity/CBS which produces his nationally syndicated radio (and TV) show. Internet columnist Matt Drudge recently reported that the WJFK morning man had been offered a five year, $100 million deal to remain with Infinity/CBS. But Stern, on his radio show, has denied any talk of a deal with his current employer. Also, Stern is upset with Infinity/CBS because last fall it flipped NYC FM rock station WNEW to "hot talk" and installed a bunch of what Stern terms "clones" (including DC's Don & Mike), many of whom, Stern says, badmouth him. If Stern does leave Infinity/CBS, he could sign with Clear Channel, the firm that owns Rush Limbaugh's show and will soon own a batch of radio stations in the DC area including rocker DC101, which Stern used as his springboard to fame in the 1980s.
May 12, 2000
New Faces At 9 and 4
DCRTV learned 5/12 that WUSA, Channel 9 is getting a new news anchor. She's Gurvir Dhindsa, currently a morning news anchor at WAGA, the Fox station in Atlanta. We hear she'll be co-anchoring 9's 6 PM news along with Gordon Peterson. She starts this summer and will replace Andrea Roane, who'll continue co-anchoring the 11 PM newscast along with Peterson. Meanwhile, Channel 4 sports anchor George Michael hires a woman, Jill Sorenson, to replace sports reporter and weekend sports anchor Darrian Chapman. Sorenson, who holds a sports anchor position at a Duluth TV station, becomes one of only a handful of females to do TV sports in the DC market. Chapman is moving to WMAQ-TV in Chicago.
May 3, 2000
Channel 5 News Crew Injured
Three members of a Channel 5 news crew were injured when the transmission mast on their news van accidently touched a power line in Alexandria while covering a story on the evening of 5/2. An explosion sent the three to various area hospitals where, as of the morning of 5/3, two were still hospitalized - one in serious condition with burns and one in fair condition. By the afternoon of 5/3, only one crewman was still hospitalized and he was no longer in serious condition. The WTTG live truck, which was stationed in front of the Alexandria police headquarters building, was nearly destroyed by the surge of electricity. A Channel 9 news crew happened to catch the explosion on tape.
April 23, 2000
Capitol Radio Moves To 53
Capitol Radio, the punkish rock music show axed by WJFK (106.7 FM) in early April, may be coming back to life - on TV. It looks like the show will appearing on WNVT, Channel 53, the Northern VA public TV station that currently features Canada's MuchMusic network most evenings. By the way, 53 is also airing music partnerships with DC101's Jon Ballard (tv101), and WHFS's Alan Scott (MegaHertz).
April 21, 2000
Ray Woolfendon Dies
DCRTV hears that "Cousin Ray" Woolfendon passed away on 4/21. For almost three decades Mr. Woolfendon owned traditional country WPWC (1480 AM) in Dumfries VA. This past January he sold it and the station went dark. He then suffered a heart attack in late February.
April 20, 2000
Ken Beatrice has decided to retire and say goodbye to sports talker WTEM (980 AM). His last day was 4/20. The call-in host's 24-year career included 19 years on WMAL (630 AM).
April 19, 2000
1690 To Go Easy Listening
DCRTV hears that Lexington Park MD's WMDM (1690 AM), the area's only expanded-band AM station, will soon flip from talk to adult standards, thereby trying to fill the void of the loss of easy listening WMJS (92.7 FM) which will soon be going with Spanish language music. The M Street Journal newsletter says that 1690's "new" calls will be WPTX, which are the current calls of now defunct 920 AM, from where 1690 originated.
April 18, 2000
WNST To Be Sold
Catholic Family Radio is planning to sell all of its stations. The only area station affected by the decision is Towson's WNST, 1570 AM, which flipped from sports talk to religious based talk last year.
April 17, 2000
Warrenton's WKCW Sold
Bill Parris, former owner of Rockville's WINX, is selling Warrenton traditional country music outlet WKCW (1420 AM). Daytimer WKCW is being purchased for $450,000 by Arthur Liu, who heads Multicultural Broadcasting. Multicultural, which operates a chain of mainly foreign language, time brokered stations in the NYC area, made a deal on 4/11 to purchase Arlington's WZHF (1390 AM) and WKDV (1460 AM) in Manassas from Mega.
April 15, 2000
Mega Buys Second Area FMer, WPLC
Mega Communications made a second DC area FM acquisition. This time, it picked-up hot adult contemporary with a tinge of modern rock WPLC, Warrenton VA, on 94.3, to complement its new 92.7 signal from Prince Frederick MD, which is set to debut in June. Mega buys the station from Syd Abel for approximately $6 million. A 94.3/92.7 combo certainly would give Spanish language Mega more-or-less blanket coverage of the DC metro on the FM band. A formal announcement of the "Mega-ization" of the mid-powered FM facility (which WTOP used as its FM relay in late 1997 and early 1998 before moving to 107.7) was to be made on 4/17. Mega recently got rid of two of its area AMers (WZHF and WKDV).
April 15, 2000
Channel 7 Gets New News Director
Steve Hammel, the news director for a St. Louis TV station, has signed on to become the news director at Channel 7. Hammel replaces Jim LeMay who was canned in March after he failed to bring WJLA's newscasts higher ratings. Hammell told the 4/15 Washington Post that he's "a plain old fashioned news guy moving from Middle America to the city where huge news happens on a daily basis." Hammel is due to start his duties with 7 in early May.
April 12, 2000
All Access radio news reports that the former morning show producer at Baltimore's WWIN (95.9 FM/1400 AM), James Bastfield, died of colon cancer on 4/12. He was 32. Mr. Bastfield was known as "JB The Baldheaded Wonder," All Access adds.
April 12, 2000
Ong Leaves Channel 5
Fox Channel 5 VP and General Manager Laureen Ong leaves to become CEO of the new National Geographic Channel, a DC-based joint venture of Fox, NBC and the magazine. Ong had been with WTTG since March 1998. The Geo's cable channel is set to launch a US-version later this year; a European version was launched in 1997.
April 11, 2000
Mega Trades Away WZHF & WKDV
Mega Communications announced 4/11 that it is trading WZHF (1390 AM) in Arlington and WKDV (1460 AM) in Manassas to NYC-based Multicultural Broadcasting. In the $24.5 million deal (which includes the swap of the two DC area AMers), Silver Spring-based Mega is buying an AMer in NYC from Multicultural, which operates a number of Big Apple area multi-lingual formatted radio outlets. Does this mean other languages will be added to the current Spanish on 1390 and 1460? Mega will continue to own WBZS (730 AM), WKDL (1050 AM), WINX (1600 AM), and its new WMJS (92.7 FM).
April 10, 2000
Hagerstown easy listening outlet WWMD (104.7 FM) has been sold. Locally based Hagerstown Broadcasting Company has sold one of the last true, old fashioned, laid-back, mellow music stations in the DC area to the HJV limited partnership (John VerStandig) for $2.5 million plus WAYZ, 101.5 FM in Mercersburg PA (which does not make it to the DC area as 104.7 does). Expect 104.7's easy listening format to move to 101.5 soon, while 104.7 will take on a new format - probably country. VerStandig owns a bunch of Shenandoah Valley stations including Harrisonburg VA news/talker WSVA (550 AM).
April 3, 2000
Nurse Leaves Channel 50
Michael Nurse, general manager at Channel 50 WBDC, has left the station to join IMAKE, a Bethesda interactive media and technology firm. He is replaced by Jerry Martin who used to run WTIC in Hartford, a Tribune-owned station like 50 is. Nurse, who was with 50 for seven years during which the station had three owners, is credited with bringing the Orioles, Wizards and Capitals to the station as well as the launch of the WB network in DC.
April 1, 2000
WJFK Cancels Capitol Radio
JFK's punkish rock music show Capitol Radio has been cancelled. The 10 PM weekly Saturday show went missing from 106.7 on 4/1, replaced with the new Ron & Fez internet-based talk show, which normally airs on JFK later in the overnights. The website says that WJFK's new management team (former JFK Program Director Jeremy Coleman's now at NYC's WNEW) has decided to pull the plug on the cutting-edge music program. We hear that the show may have aired some music with questionable lyrics. It looks like JFK is moving to an "all talk all the time" format with the recent demise of the jazz-based overnights and now the canning of Capitol Radio.
March 28, 2000
Should AMFM/Clear Channel Be Worried About Latest DC Radio Ratings?
When Clear Channel finally takes over DC's AMFM-owned stations this spring or summer will a shake up be in order? You kind of wonder considering AMFM's performance in the latest Arbitrend ratings, the preliminary radio numbers (age 12+) released on 3/28 and posted on the All Access website. The best AMFM could do was a tie for 6th with country WMZQ, despite the fact that AMFM owns eight stations in the DC market and usually commands about a quarter of the market's listening shares. AMFM's adult contemporary WASH placed 9th with fairly steady numbers, but trouble is showing up further down. AMFM's oldies WBIG continues a slow negative trend to land in 12th place and its "Jammin' Oldies" WJMO has steadily slumped from a 4.5 share last spring to a 2.7 share now, for 17th place. The firm's rocker, DC101, slumps slightly in the overall numbers to 13th. And none of the firm's AM outlets (WTEM, WWRC and WGAY) rank higher than 20th place. Other non-AMFM numbers: adult urban WHUR takes the top spot, with urban WPGC-FM and WKYS taking 2nd and 3rd. Classical WGMS soars upward to 4th tied with news/talker WMAL. Hot talker WJFK, hot adult contemporary WRQX tie for 6th with WMZQ, smooth jazz WJZW is 10th. Classic rocker WARW continues its slow upward climb to 15th, while alternative rocker WHFS comes in at an all too typical 18th.
March 28, 2000
WERQ Tops Charm City Radio Numbers
In Baltimore the 3/28 Arbitrends show that urban WERQ, as usual, is tops. Second is country WPOC, 3rd is news/talker WBAL, 4th is urban WWIN-FM and 5th is adult contemporary WLIF. Rounding out the top ten - oldies WQSR, hot adult contemporary WWMX, rocker WIYY, contemporary WXYV and gospel WCAO. Other interesting stuff - alternative rocker WHFS slumps a bit to 11th place, classic rocker WOCT dives to 16th (is a format change brewing at 104.3???), and WZBA, which flipped from country (as WGRX) to adult rock last fall, ranks an anemic 21st.
March 22, 2000
WGMS Widely Heard On Internet
DC's classical WGMS (103.5 FM), www.wgms.com, was the most-listened to internet station via the "average time spent tuning" (ATST) stats according to Arbitron's "Infostream" webcast ratings for December 1999, which were released on 3/22. A number of other DC area stations were among the top 25 ATST stations including smooth jazz WJZW (105.9 FM) at 3, hot adult contemporary WRQX (107.3 FM) at 4, and all-news WTOP (107.7 FM/1500 AM) at 11.
March 20, 2000
TOP & MAL Fued Over News Judgment
News/talk WMAL (630 AM) and all-news WTOP (107.7 FM/1500 AM) continue to battle each other over the coverage of a recent incident involving a firebomb thrown into a store (allegedly by animal rights campaigners against an establishment that sells fur coats) located in WMAL's Jennifer Street building. TOP covered it first; MAL didn't cover it until much later. And TOP is crowing about beating MAL to the punch. However, MAL News Director John Matthews defends his station's news judgment in the Washington Post's 3/21 DC Radio Talk: "An apparent incendiary device was indeed thrown through the window of a fur store on the first floor of our building. It did not catch fire inside the store. There was no damage beyond the broken window. The building was not evacuated. No one was injured. And this all happened at around midnight. We certainly knew about the story, but it never ran on our air. Why? It wasn't newsworthy. I don't know why any news organization would. The Washington Post certainly didn't run the story, either. I don't know how many windows were broken in DC last week, but this is one we didn't cover," Matthews adds. However, TOP News Director Jim Farley fires back: "The story ran at length on the local TV newscasts (although it happened too late to make the Post). Good spin by WMAL, but when they walked into their newsroom that morning and saw the AP story crediting WTOP, they realized we scooped them on a story in their own building. It pays to have the only radio newsroom in town staffed 24/7," adds Farley.
March 17, 2000
Penelope Apostolides, who hosted the Greek-American Hellenic Radio Hour for 45 years on DC area radio, died 3/9. She was 86 and suffered a heart attack. Ms. Apostolides' program debuted in 1950 on 730 AM in Alexandria, then known as WPIK, and later moved to 900 AM in Laurel, then known as WLMD, as well as to Rockville's 1600 AM, WINX.
March 17, 2000
Channel 7 News Director Resigns
Jim LeMay, the news director at WJLA Channel 7, resigned in mid-March. LeMay had reportedly been in a budget battle with Allbritton Communications, which owns the station. While LeMay oversaw many changes in 7's news department during his 21-month tenure, such as the arrival of long-time 9 anchor Maureen Bunyan and the dismissal of long-time 7 vet Paul Berry, 7's news continues to wallow at the bottom of the news ratings heap despite ABC's ratings-strong prime time programming, as well as the hefty numbers Oprah Winfrey delivers in the late afternoon. Assistant news director Michael Fountain has been named as LeMay's interim replacement.
March 17, 2000
Victoria Jones Joins WMAL
Former WRC (back when non-sports talk was on 980 AM) radio personality Victoria Jones took over the 7 to 10 PM slot on WMAL (630 AM) as scheduled on 3/27. Unlike many of MAL's other talkers, she's not a man and she's not a right-winger. The British talker has been signed to a multi-year deal. She replaces a variety of evening hosts on MAL since Chip Franklin left for WBAL (1090 AM) last fall. In addition, Chris Core's PM drive show is trimmed from 4 to 7 (instead of 8). MAL is also planning to announce a new host for the 10 PM to 1 AM slot in the very near future.
March 17, 2000
DC101 GM Resigns
DC101 General Manager Mark O'Brien resigned 3/17. You'll recall, O'Brien had a run-in with morning man Elliot Segal in February over a tasteless lobster joke, causing Segal's one-day "indefinite" suspension. O'Brien also handled WASH. We hear that Catherine Malloy, of co-owned WBIG, and Bennett Zeir, head of AMFM's DC operations, will take charge of WWDC & WASH until a replacement is found.
March 10, 2000
Don & Mike Snare A Fine For JFK
The Federal Communications Commission has hit WJFK (106.7 FM) with a fine for a segment aired on the Don & Mike show last summer. On 3/8, the FCC issued JFK owner Infinity/CBS a $4000 summons for broadcasting a telephone conversation live without first informing the party of its intention to do so. The August 1999 incident took place during a call to the El Cinezo, Texas town hall following a decision to conduct some hearings in Spanish. Don & Mike, actually Mike Sorce and Mike O'Meara, jested that people who couldn't speak English should go back to Mexico, a joke that caused an Albuquerque station to drop their show.
March 10, 2000
Channel 4 Leads In News Ratings
Channel 4 leads the pack among newscasts, but Channel 7 leads in prime time viewers. In the morning news category (7 to 9 AM), 4's Today Show leads, 7's Good Morning America is 2nd, while 5's Fox Morning News is 3rd but it showed a whopping 24 percent gain; 9's Early Show was in 4th. At 4 PM - 4's news is in 1st place (up 14 percent), while 9's news is in second (down about 8 percent). At 5 PM, 4's news again leads with an 11 percent gain, 9's news is in 2nd (down about 6 percent), and 7's news is in 3rd (with a 12 percent rise). At 6 PM, 4's news is in 1st, 9's news in 2nd and 7's news is in 3rd. In the late news race, 4 leads again, 9 comes in 2nd, 5's 10 PM-cast is in 3rd and 7 is 4th. And, in prime time, 7's ABC programming is first (thank you Regis), 9's CBS programming is 2nd, 4's NBC programming is 3rd, 5's Fox programming is 4th, 20's UPN programming is 5th, and 50's WB programming is in 6th place. All DC network stations showed a downward ratings trend during prime time hours.
March 10, 2000
Channel 11 Gets Good News Numbers
Baltimore's Channel 11, WBAL, has something to crow about. Its 5 PM and 6 PM weekday newscasts took first place, above long-time news leader Channel 13, WJZ, in the February TV "sweeps." However, WJZ's newscasts still showed their strength at 6 AM, noon and at 11 PM. Channel 13 blames its poor showing during early evening on its 4 PM lead-in programs but hopes to remedy things this fall with the arrival of Rosie O'Donnell from Channel 2, WMAR.
March 8, 2000
WJMO & WHFS Slump In Latest Radio Ratings
The news is not good for "Jammin' Oldies" WJMO and WHFS which claims to be an "alternative" rocker (whatever that is, these days). Both turned in rather anemic performances in the November thru January preliminary Arbitrend radio ratings, as publicized by the All Access website on 3/8. WJMO slumped to 17th place in the overall age 12+ early bird trends, while WHFS took 18th place. The top three, as usual, were WPGC-FM, WHUR, and WKYS, all with urban contemporary-ish formats. Hot talker WJFK took 4th place, country WMZQ 5th, classical WGMS 6th, smooth jazz WJZW and hot adult contemporary WRQX tied for 7th. Talker WMAL took 9th and oldies WBIG took 10th place, tied with rocker DC101. Classic rocker WARW continued a slow upward trend at 15th. Poor old sports talker WTEM was 19th, as usual. Up in Baltimore, urban WERQ took its customary first place, urban WWIN-FM took 2nd, talker WBAL was 3rd, and country WPOC dipped to 4th. Rounding out the top ten in decending order - WQSR, WLIF, WWMX, WXYV, WIYY, WCAO and WHFS (tie). The final Arbitron numbers are due out in late April.
March 7, 2000
Nestor Moves To WBIS
"Nasty Nestor" Aparicio (left) will move his sports talk show from Baltimore's WCBM (680 AM) to WBIS (1190 AM) come 4/3. Is a format change from business news to sports talk in the cards at WBIS? The Annapolis station (which is co-owned with Falls Church ethnic outlet WUST) is moving its transmitter to Baltimore this summer, along with a power hike.
March 7, 2000
Clear Channel Sells WPOC
Clear Channel Communications has released the list of stations it is selling in connection with its merger agreement with AMFM. Only one area station is affected, country WPOC (93.1 FM) in Baltimore, which will be purchased by Chase Radio Partners. Also, Clear Channel will sell four stations in Richmond VA (WKHK, WKLR, WMXB and WTVR-AM) to Cox Communications and four stations in Harrisburg PA (WNCE, WNNK, WTPA and WTCY-AM) to Cumulus Media.
March 6, 2000
WMJS Signs Off
Prince Frederick MD easy listening outlet WMJS (92.7 FM) has gone dark as of 3/2. The station has been sold to Mega Broadcasting which owns DC area Spanish language AMers WBZS, WINX, WZHF, WKDV and WKDB, and plans to turn 92.7 into a Spanish language music station. We had heard that 92.7 wouldn't convert to its new format until late spring or early summer, but maybe that time frame has been moved up. Also, Mega was planning to make signal improvements to 92.7 to jack up its coverage into the DC area.
March 6, 2000
Cousin Ray Recovers
DCRTV hears that "Cousin Ray" Woolfendon, former owner of WPWC (1480 AM) in Dumfries VA, is back at home, recovering from a heart attack he suffered on 2/21. He had been in the intensive care unit of Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg. WPWC signed off on 1/14 after almost three decades of playing traditional country, bluegrass and gospel music. The station, which has been dark since Woolfendon sold it to JMK Communications, is expected to adopt a Korean language format in the near future.
March 6, 2000
Clear Channel Buys SFX
Clear Channel Communications, which is in the process of buying AMFM (which owns of a bunch of area radio stations including WBIG, WASH, WMZQ, WJMO, WWDC, WWRC, WTEM, WGAY), wants to buy SFX Entertainment, a major concert promoter which owns the Nissan Pavilion near Manassas and the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, as well as Alexandria-based Cellar Door Productions.
March 6, 2000
Shake-Up At Pacifica, WPFW
The controversy surrounding Pacifica, owner of DC's WPFW (89.3 FM), continues. The "Save Pacifica" group had scheduled events in early March, including a DC "teach in," to coincide with the Pacifica board of directors meeting in Arlington. And, according to the board, a new "transition team" is now in place "to heal the conflict over management and policy" that the non-profit station group has suffered, as well as a host of station funding problems. Pacifica has been charged with news censorship at all its stations, including WPFW, and with non-democratic, anti-employee actions at its San Francisco station. Pacifica Board Chairman Mary Frances Berry will resign when her term expires in September; she is blamed by some for the tension between Pacifica and its San Francisco station, KPFA. Berry will be replaced by Houston accountant David Acosta. Also, Executive Director Lynn Chadwick has resigned and will be replaced by Bessie Wash, manager of WPFW. Also, the Pacifica board released the latest Arbitron ratings for its five stations and, it says, that for the first time in history, the Pacifica total cumulative audience has passed a record of 800,000 listeners per week. DC's WPFW has the largest audience share of any Pacifica station with a cumulative listenership of 182,000 or 1.3 percent.
March 6, 2000
Fine Tuning At WINC
DCRTV hears that there's some fine-tuning going on at Winchester's hot adult contemporary WINC (92.5 FM), which can be heard throughout Northern Virginia and seems to be scoring record numbers with female demographics. There's an effort underway to market the station to the entire region, including the DC suburbs. Also look for less repetition in the music and maybe even a slight shift in the direction of a classic rock sound at night and on weekends.
March 4, 2000
Greaseman Does Not Get Virgin Islands Gig
The Greaseman won't be heard on a Virgin Islands radio station after all. The owner of WMNG radio in St. Croix decided on March 3 not to hire former WARW (94.7 FM) morning man Doug Tracht (right), who was fired in February 1999 for telling a racist joke. WMNG had announced on February 29 that it planned to hire Tracht to do his comedy-based program along with an internet feed of the show. However, the news that the Greaseman had been canned in DC because he joked about a black man being dragged to his death behind a pick-up truck was too much for Virgin Islands residents and political leaders who protested Tracht's arrival. The Virgin Islands population is 80 percent African American, by the way. Tracht was trying to land his first radio job since he was fired.
February 28, 2000
Don & Mike Debut In NYC
WJFK's Don & Mike debuted 2/28 (via tape delay) at NYC hot talker WNEW. Their show airs from 7 PM to 11:30 PM. The Ron & Fez overnight team from Florida is now heading for WNEW instead of WJFK (both are Infinity/CBS properties); we'd earlier reported that Ron & Fez would start doing an T&A/internet-based talk show at WJFK in mid-February. Infinity/CBS recently brought in former JFK General Manager Ken Stevens to fix WNEW, which flipped from a rock format to a hot talk format last fall and has floundered in the ratings while JFK soared to the number 2 place in the DC ratings. We hear that JFK still plans to carry Ron & Fez in overnights, replacing the sleepy jazz, but the duo will be doing their show from Manhattan instead of from Fairfax (where JFK's studios are).
February 24, 2000
USA Today Runs Controversial AOL Photo
It's back! The controversial picture (left) featuring WRC news anchors Doug McKelway and Susan Kidd as part of the AOL-TV team appeared in the 2/24 edition of USA Today along with a story on AOL's plans to create a TV service. In early January, when AOL and Time-Warner announced their merger, WRC objected to the creation of the America Online promotional picture since the two Channel 4 anchors have no connection to AOL.
February 16, 2000
WTOP To Start "WTOP 2"
Washington DC's all-news radio WTOP AM/FM will launch an Internet-Only all-news station, WTOP2, on February 22, 2000. "This is a completely new product with original programming, not a rebroadcast of WTOP," says Joel Oxley, Vice President and General Manager of WTOP. "We have been successfully streaming WTOP Radio over our website, wtopnews.com, for over a year. This is a unique new service that carries on the WTOP tradition. We are using the slogan of Federal Line-Online." Jim Farley, WTOP Vice President, News & Programming, explains, "WTOP2 is a world and national news service. Partnering with the Associated Press, WTOP2 will provide world and national news as well as extensive coverage of the federal government. The White House, Pentagon, State Department and other federal briefings will be carried live along with key House and Senate hearings." Some features heard on WTOP Radio will also be carried on WTOP2 including "Today at the White House" "Today on the Hill" and "Federal Line." Marlis Majerus, News Director of WTOP2 says, "This new station will appeal particularly to the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and military personnel and their families, not just in the nation's Capitol but worldwide." Exclusive advertisers on WTOP2 include Hewlett Packard, GTSI, Litton PRC and A &T Systems. WTOP Radio and WTOP2 are owned by Bonneville International Corporation.
February 8, 2000
Fall/Early Winter Radio Ratings
Urban contemporary WPGC (95.5 FM) tops the fall/early winter Arbitron radio ratings for the DC market. But the big news is the strength of hot talker WJFK (106.7 FM), which has surged into 2nd place in the overall age 12+ numbers. Adult urban contemporary WHUR (96.3 FM) and urban contemporary WKYS (93.9 FM) take 3rd and 4th place, respectively. Adult contemporary WASH (97.1 FM) ranks in 5th place while active rocker DC101 (WWDC 101.1 FM) makes a strong 6th place finish, tied with country WMZQ (98.7 FM) and hot adult contemporary WRQX (107.3 FM). Classical WGMS (103.5 FM) places 9th, and soulful WMMJ (102.3 FM) jumps to 10th place, in a tie with oldies WBIG (100.3 FM). "Jammin' Oldies" WJMO (99.5 FM) drops to 16th; it had bested WMMJ the past few ratings periods. Poor old sports talker WTEM (980 AM) languishes at 19th place. Other news - Howard Stern (WJFK) wins the morning drive battle; Don & Mike (WJFK) win among male demographic groups; WARW also scores well among male demos, soaring to 2nd place with men; Elliot (DC101) ranks 4th among female demos. Up in Baltimore, urban contemporary WERQ (92.3 FM) takes the top place followed by country WPOC (93.1 FM), adult urban contemporary WWIN (95.9 FM) and news/talker WBAL (1090 AM).
February 8, 2000
Broo Returns To Cincinnati
Former Channel 9 sports anchor Ken Broo returns to Cincinnati. He joins WLWT/Channel 5 there to become sports anchor and sports director. Broo originally came from Cincinnati's Channel 12 to DC's WUSA, where he served several years as main sports anchor until he was canned last fall. Jess Atkinson was named as his replacement at WUSA.
February 7, 2000
9 Misses Golf Event
Channel 9 fumbles the ball again. This time it's the golf ball. WUSA decided not to carry the 2/7 final round of the Pebble Beach PGA Tour event in favor of its regular 4 PM and 5 PM newscasts. It just so happened that Tiger Woods made history by coming back from a 7-shot deficit to win the event, his 6th win in a row. At the last minute, 9's new sports anchor Jess Atkinson (right) did show some of the CBS event live in his 5:40 PM sports window. You'll recall, 9 blew it back in January when it failed to carry the first 15 minutes of a Redskins game; an error the station blamed on CBS.
February 5, 2000
Dick Banules, director of operations at Fairfax Public Access Corp (FPA), died suddenly on 1/31 at age 60. FPA operates several public access TV channels serving Fairfax County cable subscribers, as well as WEBR, public access radio serving the Cox and Comcast cable systems in Fairfax County and the world via the internet.
February 5, 2000
TOP Gets O's Weekend Games, AMFM Stations May Get Weekday Games
WTOP finally signs to carry the Orioles for a 22nd consecutive year. The deal calls for 1500 AM/107.7 FM to air mainly weekend games not to interfere with TOP's weekday news and traffic coverage. The possibility still exists for some weekday games to be carried on AMFM's DC area AMers including WTEM (980 AM), WWRC (570 AM) and WGAY (1260 AM). Of course, the O's Baltimore flagship - WBAL (1090 AM) - will continue to carry all Orioles games.
February 4, 2000
Elliot Segal Returns To DC101 After Suspension
Elliot Segal returned to the DC101 airwaves 2/3 after a one day suspension. Station Vice President & General Manager Mark O'Brien had announced that "Elliot In The Morning" had been "suspended indefinitely" (but not fired) for something he said on the morning of 2/1. While O'Brien made no mention of what was said, Elliot or a caller uttered a profanity ("sh*t") in connection with a "discussion" of colostomy bags and told a dirty joke involving a lobster. Station officials say they received an overwhelming number of calls and e-mail messages requesting the return of Elliot. Publicity stunt?
February 4, 2000
Pacific Reports Strike
Pacifica Foundation news reporters and correspondents go on strike against news censorship. Pacifica, which recently moved its headquarters from Berkeley CA to DC, and owns DC's WPFW (89.3 FM), has been criticized for censoring news items not favorable to itself.
February 4, 2000
Vance Re-signs With 4
Veteran news anchor Jim Vance signed a new deal with Channel 4 in early February. Vance had been off the air the past few days while he'd been in contract negotiations with WRC. There was talk a plenty that Vance was thinking about leaving the station or the TV news business altogether.
February 3, 2000
Goldstein Joins JFK
Steve Goldstein, general sales manager at Baltimore's contemporary WXYV (102.7 FM), heads south on the BW Parkway to Fairfax's talker WJFK (106.7 FM), where he becomes general manager. JFK's top brass have flown the coup to struggling NYC FM talker WNEW (see item further down this page). The three stations are owned by CBS/Infinity.
February 1, 2000
XM Gets Ready To Roll
DC-based XM satellite radio has announced that it's getting ready to begin broadcasting 100 channels of digital-quality music, news, sports, talk and kids programming. The audio channels will be beamed to vehicle and home receivers as well as portable XM-Ready radios for a monthly fee of $9.95. XM has also lined up its charter advertisers and is setting up sales reps.
January 31, 2000
WRQX & WJZW Get Good Internet Listernship Grades
ABC's two DC area FMers chalk up big ratings for internet listenership. Arbitron 1/31 has released its nationwide webcast ratings for last November and smooth jazz WJZW (105.9 FM) (www.smoothjazz1059.com) and hot adult contemporary WRQX (107.3 FM) (www.mix1073fm.com) top the list.
January 20, 2000
More JFKers To NYC?
Could more of successful talker WJFK's (106.7 FM) management team be heading to Infinity's co-owned struggling New York City talker WNEW-FM? DCRTV hears that JFK Program Director Jeremy Coleman has been seen at WNEW lately and that he may be making the move to the Big Apple. Recently, JFK General Manager Ken Stevens joined WNEW.
January 20, 2000
FCC Votes In Favor Of Low Power FMers
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 1/20 approved granting licenses for low power FM stations. The commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the plan despite objection from the National Association Of Broadcasters (NAB). The new low-power stations will be noncommercial and be either 10 or 100 watts. Expect the NAB to go to court to stop the plan, claiming that full-power broadcasters will suffer increased interference. The DC-based Mount Pleasant Broadcasting Club plans to apply for a station; check them out at mtpleasantbroadcasting.org
January 17, 2000
Comcast Gears Up For DC Area Cable Internet Service
Comcast makes a big cable modem order and says it plans to target the DC area, especially Prince Georges County, for its cable internet connections through 2001. The Philadelphia-based firm recently opened a major customer service call center in Silver Spring. In the DC area, Comcast already owns the Alexandria, Prince William and Reston cable systems and is in the purchase of buying the Prince Georges, Montgomery, Arlington and DC systems.
January 14, 2000
Country WPWC Signs Off
Almost three decades of "real" country music programming was silenced at just past 5 PM on 1/14 when Dumfries VA country outlet WPWC (1480 AM) signed off for the last time. After 27 years on the air, "Cousin Ray" Woolfendon, owner of the station, anchored the last minutes and thanked the "thousands" of people for their expressions of appreciation for "The Big W." Station officials are referring listeners who want "real country," bluegrass and gospel music to "The Big K," country outlet WKCW at 1420 AM in Warrenton VA. "It's just one of those things that had to be done," Woolfendon explained of the station's recent sale to JMK Communications which plans to install a Korean language format in February.
January 10, 2000
Greaseman Does Infomercial
Doug "Greaseman" Tracht made his debut early last Sunday morning, 1/9, as "Dr. Chip Bandwidth" in dating service matchmaker.com's infomercial, which aired on Channel 9. Tracht was fired from classic rocker WARW (94.7 FM) last February for making a racist joke. He has also turned up doing bit acting parts on Discovery Channel's "American Justice" series which dramatizes infamous crimes.
January 9, 2000
WBIS Plans Signal Improvements
Annapolis business news outlet WBIS (1190 AM) plans to increase its power to 50,000-watts (days) to help it cover the Baltimore metro area. The station also plans to move its transmitting towers to Baltimore.
January 8, 2000
YDB on TOP
Former DC101er "Young" Dave Brown (YDB) now does overnights on all news WTOP (107.7 FM/1500 AM). Says TOP VP Jim Farley: "He'll pop up in other dayparts. We're thrilled he wants to give this a shot and hope he'll stick around."
January 6, 2000
Fox 5 Back On Cox Cable
Channel 5 was restored to the line-up of Cox Cable in Fairfax County on the evening of 1/6. A deal has been worked out between Cox and Fox but neither side is revealing any details about it. Cox pulled the plug on Fox 5 on 12/31. Fox was withholding "retransmission consent" to encourage Cox to carry some Fox-owned cable networks such as the FXM (movies) and Fox Sports World.
January 6, 2000
Comcast Buys Naming Rights For UMD Arena
Comcast, the Philadelphia-based cable company that will soon own most of the DC area's cable TV systems, has agreed to purchase the naming rights for a proposed $90 million, 17,100-seat arena at College Park's University Of Maryland, to replace the aging Cole Field House. Comcast agreed to pay $20 million over 10 years for the naming rights. By mid-year, Comcast should own the cable TV systems in DC, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Prince William, Alexandria, Arlington, Reston, Fort Belvoir and Charles. Comcast already owns Baltimore area cable systems serving Baltimore County, Anne Arundel, Harford and eastern Howard, and will be acquiring Baltimore city.
January 4, 2000
CBS Drops Ball On Skins
CBS has apologized for failing to carry the first 14 minutes of the 1/2 Redskins game. The network decided to stay with the Kansas City/Oakland game of which coverage ran until 4:29 PM rather than switching to the Redskins/Miami game, which started at 4:15 PM, causing area viewers to miss the first part of the hometown team's game. During a newsbreak during the Skins' game, WUSA Channel 9's Bruce Johnson said that his station had asked CBS to allow it to switch to the Skins game in time for the start, but CBS refused citing the playoff implications of the earlier game. Johnson said that WUSA fielded many complaints from viewers.
January 3, 2000
Core Goes Stevens-less
The Chris Core Show, without partner Brooke Stevens, premiered 1/3 during PM drive on WMAL (630 AM). The news/talker fired PM drive personality Stevens on 12/29. She co-hosted the show with Core for the past few years. WMAL officials are reportedly concerned about a ratings slump in the PM drivetime period; reports had surfaced in mid-December that Stevens' contract, which was to end in February, would not be renewed.
January 1, 2000
WNVT Goes MuchMusic
With the arrival of the new year, public TV station WNVT, Channel 53, Goldvein VA, has started its new format which includes a relay of Canada's MuchMusic contemporary music channel. The non-commercial station relays the network with public service ads and station promos during ad breaks. The MuchMusic programming starts most days at 3:30 PM and runs through the evenings. WNVT continues carrying educational programs during mornings and early afternoons and has added some high-tech shows to its line-up. With studios in Merrifield VA, WNVT is carried on cable in DC and Virginia and on some Maryland systems.
For news items from 1999 click here.....