Contents - Front Page - Mailbag - Support DCRTV - News Archive
January 1998 to December 1998December 29, 1998
WMZQ Traffic Reporter Injured In October Plane Crash Is Recovering
Rob Edgar, a traffic reporter for Washington DC country station WMZQ (FM 98.7), who was critically injured October 13 when the plane he was a passenger in crashed into a house in Bowie, MD, is well on the road to recovery. "I wanted to let you know that after nine weeks, 11 operations, and many cards, letters and prayers I made it out of The Washington Hospital Center's Burn Rehab Unit," he told DCRTV in late December. The plane's pilot, Douglas Duff, 42, was killed in the crash. Two people in the house escaped injury. Duff, of Alexandria, VA, who was attempting an emergency landing at Freeway Airport when the plane crashed just before 7 AM. He was flying in a thick fog. The plane had taken off minutes earlier from Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, MD. Edgar, 31, who had been doing traffic reports for WMZQ for the past six months, had been in critical condition at Washington Hospital Center's Medstar burn unit. Edgar was preparing to do his first traffic report of the morning for WMZQ. He and Duff were the only occupants of the plane. Edgar was thrown from the plane when it crashed and suffered second and third degree burns over 40 percent of his body, a broken leg, pelvis and severe facial cuts. "I am still in the process of healing two broken legs and don't know yet when I can return to my job watching DC's Beltway Madness. I want to thank everyone who sent words of encouragement," Edgar adds. A resident of Falls Church, VA, Edgar works for Metro Networks which provides traffic reports to a variety of Washington area stations.
December 25, 1998
Female Pastor Rejected By WJYJ
WJYJ-FM (90.5), a religious station in Fredericksburg VA, is refusing to allow a female minister to contribute to a program of recordings by clergy because of her gender, the Washington Post reported December 25. The Rev. Daphne Burt, an ordained Lutheran minister, has not been allowed to participate in the station's "Pastor's Lesson" program because the Bible prohibits female pastors, WJYJ General Manager Pete Stover is quoted by the Post as saying. The Post adds that Burt was surprised and hurt by Stover's decision but has been encouraged by a flood of support she has received from the community. WJYJ is heard from the Washington DC area to Richmond and is relayed across Virginia by dozens of low-powered FM translator stations.
December 17, 1998
Spanish WINX Is Born December 17
Former top 40 station, WINX (AM 1600) Rockville, MD, completed its transformation to a Spanish adult contemporary station on December 17. After three days off the air, the station began its new life as a leased property of Mega Broadcasting. The top 40 tunes of WINX stopped December 13. At the end of his shift just before midnight Saturday night (December 12) DJ John Galloway played his last two tunes -- Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You" and Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye." The station aired its final top 40 tunes just before 6 pm Sunday evening. DCRTV reported December 7 that Mega Broadcasting, which owns a chain of Spanish language stations across the country, intends to purchase Rockville MD's WINX from Bill Parris for $600,000. Mega and Parris have entered into a local marketing agreement that will take effect many weeks before the sale of the station is finalized. Mega is not using WINX to replicate the Spanish music format it simulcasts on its two other area stations -- WKDL, 1050 AM in Silver Spring MD, and WKDV, 1460 AM in Manassas VA. Instead, WINX has its own programming, independent of WKDL and WKDV. WINX has been a unique character in the DC radio market. It was a top forty station on AM and featured DC veteran "Big Don" O'Brien as morning driver. Even though the station received much promotion in the local media for its flip to top forty from oldies last spring, it never could generate any ratings success. Previously, as an oldies station for many years, the WINX signal had briefly been simulcasted on 94.3 FM out of Warrenton VA in 1997.
December 17, 1998
Kiley & Booms Criticize WTEM
The fired afternoon duo of Kevin Kiley and Chuck Booms has decided to openly criticize their former airwaves home, Washington DC's WTEM radio. In December 17th's Washington Post, the two say they were unjustifiably terminated minutes after they completed their 4-7 PM shift November 13 after less than a year to prove themselves. Booms, a stand-up comedian, told the Post that WTEM (AM 980) hired him to be outrageous and then fired him when he was. He claims he was just following in the Howard Stern tradition of comedy, yet station management says it was overwhelmed with complaints about the often politically right-wing Booms. Booms also charges that he was discouraged by WTEM management from talking negatively about Washington area sports teams that the station broadcasts including the Washington Capitals hockey team. Yet, the final undoing of the Kiley/Booms team was probably its ratings. Sports talker WTEM was ranked 21st in the overall (12+) Arbitron ratings for last summer. And that was even after the station upgraded its signal from 5,000-watts to 50,000-watts last spring. However, Kiley and Booms point out that among men, their ratings surged from a 1.4 share to a 2.1 among some key demos. "Their... ratings were disappointing and, quite frankly, they were unacceptable," WTEM Manager Catherine Meloy told the Post. "We heard from the listeners daily . . . that they did not like the show, that the show was not consistent and it was not compelling." Kiley, unlike Booms, is a sports journalist and broadcaster. He remains under contract at the Chancellor-owned station until February; Booms, on the other hand, has no more ties to the station. He has since returned to his native Cleveland and is looking for work. The duo has been replaced by a tape-delayed broadcast of Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser's ESPN program which is recorded every afternoon from 1-4 PM and broadcast by WTEM during the PM drive. Meloy says that Kornheiser was getting higher ratings (with only 5,000-watts) last year before he was replaced with Kiley and Booms so it made sense to bring him back.
December 12, 1998
Comcast To Take Over Montgomery & Arlington Cable TV Systems
Comcast Cable has announced a $1.35 billion deal with Prime Communications and Carlyle Group for control of the Montgomery County and Arlington County cable TV systems. With completion of the acquisition of the two cable systems, Comcast will have control over most cable systems in the Washington DC area. Comcast, based in Philadelphia, is due to take over all of the cable systems owned by Jones Communications in early 1999. Those systems serve Prince Georges County, Alexandria, Prince William County, Anne Arundel County, Reston, Fort Belvoir and Charles County, among other areas. Eventually, Comcast will own all the DC area cable companies with the exception of systems serving the District (TCI), Fairfax County (Media General) and Loudoun County. There is much talk that Comcast will ultimately get control over the District's cable customers too, as TCI has reportedly been interested in selling the system. In addition, Comcast owns most of the cable systems in the Baltimore and Philadelphia areas, giving it an ultimate lock on cable TV services in the lower Megalopolis. Comcast owns the QVC shopping channel as well as E! Entertainment Television cable network. It also owns the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team and the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, as well as Comcast Sports Network, a regional Philadelphia cable sports network. Computer software giant Microsoft owns a 10 percent stake in Comcast.
December 6, 1998
Media General Cable To Offer Road Runner Cable Modem Internet Service
The Road Runner cable modem Internet service has signed Fairfax County's Media General Cable as an affiliate.With 340,000 subscribers, Media General is the DC area's largest single cable system. The cable system will begin offering high-speed cable modem service to 40,000 subscribers in the Falls Church, Vienna and Merrifield areas by early 1999, Media General officials say. They hope to have the service available to at least half of the system's subscribers by the time 2000 rolls around.
December 4, 1998
Don Geronimo Found Guilty Of Marijuana Possession
Mike Sorce, who goes by the name of Don Geronimo and is half of the "Don And Mike Show" afternoon team on WJFK (106.7 FM/1300 AM), was found guilty of marijuana possession in Fairfax County court December 2. Sorce, 40, also pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving in connection with the August 1998 incident in which the radio personality was stopped while driving his car at 75 mph in a 35 mph zone in Great Falls, Virginia. A Fairfax County police officer reportedly discovered a small amount of marijuana in Sorce's car. Sorce was booked on possession of marijuana -- 4.6 grams were found -- and driving under the influence. He spent the night in jail and was released the next morning after posting a $1,000 bond. This is not his first run-in with the law. The Washington Post reported that Sorce pleaded guilty to a cocaine possession charge in 1996 and received a one-year probation sentence, in addition to traffic infractions in 1988 and 1996. The "Don And Mike Show" which aired following Sorce's court appearance was a rerun; Sorce has not made a public comment about the conviction. In a December 3 sentencing, Sorce was given a suspended 30-day jail term and one year of probation. His radio show is syndicated to 58 stations across the country via the Westwood One radio network.
December 2, 1998
Channel 26 To Start Classical Music TV Network
WETA-TV, Channel 26, has announced plans to start an all-classical music TV network. The new network, dubbed Fanfare, is slated to debut in November 1999. It will be an advertiser-supported basic cable channel. Fanfare will feature classical music video clips as well as news segments and interviews with musicians. Former talk show host Dick Cavett has been signed as a host for the new network.
December 1, 1998
WRC-TV News Shows Strength In Latest TV Ratings
WRC-TV, Channel 4's newscasts show strength in the latest Washington DC market TV ratings, commonly known as the "November Sweeps." The numbers were featured in the December 1 "TV Column" in the Washington Post. Here is a summary of the results by station: WRC-4-NBC: Channel 4 continues to hold the lead for its 6 AM newscast, the Today Show, its 5 and 6 PM newscasts and at 11 PM. WTTG-5-FOX: Channel 5's prime time FOX programming leads in the DC market, however the station has lost ground with some of its late afternoon sit-coms. Seinfeld finishes a close second to Channel 7's "Jeopardy" at 7:30 PM. WJLA-7-ABC: Channel 7's "Oprah Winfrey Show" continues to dominate at 4 PM, but the station's 5 PM news has slipped to second place (behind 4). Channel 7's "Wheel Of Fortune"/"Jeopardy" combo between 7 and 8 PM continues to dominate. The 6:30 PM "ABC News" also beats out the CBS and NBC evening newscasts. Channel 7's prime time ABC ratings fell big-time, to fourth place. WUSA-9-CBS: Channel 9 was the top DC area station sign-on to sign-off. While its newscasts have picked up some steam ratings-wise, the station's newscasts still fail to dominate any morning or evening time period. WDBC-50-WB: While Channel 50 usually comes up at the bottom of the ratings heap, it has shown improvement at 5 PM with the "Rikki Lake Show," 6 PM with "Full House" and 6:30 PM with "Boy Meets World."
November 27, 1998
Update: Georgetown U & A Low-Power Over-The-Air WGTB
The Washington Post's Listener column reported November 3 that Georgetown University has applied for a license to broadcast its carrier-current AM station, WGTB, via a low-powered FM transmitter. However, university officials deny that an application has been submitted. "You should know that neither WGTB nor Georgetown University have applied for a low power FM (LPFM) license. The FCC has not yet approved the concept of LPFM so it is not even possible to apply for an LPFM license yet," says WGTB General Manager Adrian Kohn. However, he does not rule out that Georgetown may apply sometime in 1999 for a low-power over-the-air operation. "The FCC is expected to respond favorably to the idea of LPFM in December. Their official response will be followed by at least 3 months of public commenting periods. So, within 6 months it may be possible to microbroadcast with LPFM," Kohn adds. The university used to operate medium powered WGTB-FM at 90.1 with a free-form, progressive format. The old WGTB left the air in 1979 when Georgetown decided to give the license to the University Of The District Of Columbia which started jazz-formatted WDCU on 90.1 several years later. In 1997, 90.1 became C-SPAN public affairs radio, WCSP. The new WGTB, if it ever comes to reality, would be in the power range of the University Of Maryland's WMUC, 88.1 FM, which is only 10-watts and can only be heard in the neighborhood around the campus. A new WGTB would probably be heard in the immediate Georgetown area of DC and probably in Rosslyn in Virginia. The old WGTB on 90.1 could be heard about 25 miles from the transmitter.
November 24, 1998
Hackers Hit HFS
Thousands of listeners to alternative rocker WHFS (FM 99.1) recently received fake e-mail messages claiming that the station's holiday multi-band concert was cancelled. Starting on November 20, listeners who were on the station's computer e-mail list began receiving messages that featured the return address of HFS Webmaster Bill Gallagher ("Billy Zero" on the air) which said that the December 5 "HFSmas Holiday Nutcracker" concert was cancelled due "to the democrats." After several more e-mail messages sent to all on the HFS mailing list over the following weekend, the hacker finally admitted via a final e-mail message that the previous messages were fake. The Washington Post reports that Gallagher realized that something was wrong when he checked his e-mail on Sunday morning to find 4,000 messages in his mailbox many of which were from angry and upset listeners complaining of the cancelled concert. Gallagher told the Post that the station will upgrade its e-mail program to make sure it cannot be accessed by a hacker, who he classified as probably "some 17-year-old kid trying to have some fun." Meanwhile, WHFS was airing repeated announcements that the holiday concert, slated for George Mason University's Patriot Center December 5, has definitely not been cancelled.
November 23, 1998
WTEM Moves Kornheiser To PM Drive
Tony Kornheiser has taken over the PM drive slot at sports talk WTEM, 980 AM, following the dismissal of Kevin Kiley and Chuck Booms earlier in November. Kornheiser is no stranger to the PM drive period. He was originally there earlier this year and was shifted to middays to make way for Kiley and Booms. The dismissal of Kiley and Booms has led many to speculate at just what is going on at the Chancellor-owned sports station. Despite a move up the AM dial last March from 570 to 980, and a resulting power increase from 5,000 to 50,000 watts, WTEM continues to struggle in the ratings. In the summer Arbitron ratings, WTEM came in at 21st place with a 1.1 share, down 0.3. WTEM's ratings troubles not to mention Kiley and Booms' habit of airing material on the more "adult" side of the spectrum seems to have been responsible for the changes at the Chancellor-owned station, sources say. Kornheiser's show is syndicated to radio stations across the country by ESPN. The current WTEM line-up includes Don Imus during morning drive, Kris O'Donnell and Rich Cook from 10 am to 1 pm, "Doc & Al" from 1 to 4 pm, which is followed by Kornheiser's show.
November 20, 1998
Channel 20 Wants Sports Back
Once upon a time, pre-1994, you could find sports events on Washington DC's Channel 20, WDCA. The Orioles, the Bullets (now the Wizards) and the Caps have, at one time or another, called Channel 20 home. However, lately, the UPN-owned station restricts itself to UPN network programming, movies and syndicated reruns. Washington Post sports columnist Leonard Shapiro reports that "UPN 20" has a new general manager who wants to get some sports back on his station. John Long is the new WDCA GM. He comes to DC from nine years in Indianapolis. Before that he'd worked at DC's Channel 7, WJLA. And Shapiro says that Long has already signed a deal to for Channel 20 to carry for ACC basketball games in early 1999, beginning with Maryland & Duke on January 3. Shapiro adds that Long will also make inquiries about returning the broadcast TV rights of the Orioles to Channel 20 for the year 2000 season; the O's are already committed to stay where they have been for the past four seasons -- WDBC Channel 50, a WB Network affiliate -- for the 1999 season. And Long would like to snare the broadcast rights to the Capitals and Wizards for their 1999-2000 season. The Caps and Wizards games are also shown on Channel 50, although Channel 9 will occasionally serve up a few key games. CBS-owned cable network Home Team Sports (a Fox Sports Net affiliate) owns the rights to all three teams. HTS then purchases time on broadcast stations (free television) for some games. The remainder (the majority) are shown to a cable-only audience via HTS.
November 16, 1998
McGinty Joins WJLA
Former WAMU (FM 88.5) radio host Derek McGinty has joined WJLA, Channel 7 to anchor its weekend "Good Morning Washington" show as well as handling reporting shows for its nightly newscast. The Washington Post reports that WJLA is also developing a Sunday public affairs program for McGinty who left WAMU to joing the CBS "Public Eye" news magazine program in January 1998. That show was cancelled in September. During his many years hosting political and other talk shows at American University-owned WAMU, McGinty has also hosted several shows on WETA, Channel 26.
November 13, 1998
Channel 50 Moves Stern To Midnight
Back in October, Washington DC's Channel 50, WDBC, has moved Howard Stern's controversial new broadcast TV show from 11 PM on Saturday nights to 1 AM on Sunday mornings -- two hours later. A WBDC official told the Washington Post that the show was moved because of its raunchy content. However, as of early November, Channel 50 bas moved the Stern show start time to midnight. The Post also reports that Stern's TV show, which is distributed by an arm of the CBS network, has seen steadily falling ratings since it started airing on Channel 50 last summer. Stern's debut was seen in 78,000 homes, however, during its last 11 PM Channel 50 broadcast on October 24 it was seen in only 39,000 homes. At the previous 1 AM time slot, "The Howard Stern Radio Show" was seen in only 13,700 homes. The show has faced cancellation in several of the two dozen or so markets where it has been carried, mainly in the south and west. It has been roundly criticised for its focus, in typical Stern fashion, on raunchy humor such as having Stern shave a woman's public hair on the air. Meanwhile, Stern's morning drive radio show shows no sign of a ratings slowdown in the DC market. During the summer radio ratings, Stern's radio show was tied for the top spot. His show airs on WJFK, FM 106.7. Stern also produces a nightly cable TV show on Entertainment Television.
November 3, 1998
Gilmore Gone, WMMJ Seeks Replacement
The Washington Post reports that urban oldies station WMMJ (102.3) is seeking a replacement for its fired morning host Doug Gilmore. At least temporarily WMMJ was using boxing promoter Rock Newman as its morning man, But the Post account says that his job was only temporary and that the station is looking for a permanent host. WMMJ has also been trying out commedian George Wallace in the morning slot. WMMJ's morning drive ratings have not been as high as owner, Radio One, wants. And there have been indications that Radio One would like to lure syndicated host Tom Joyner away from WHUR (96.3 FM) or local host Donnie Simpson away from WPGC (95.5 FM). But, so far, both efforts have been unsuccessful. The Post adds that a more successful Radio One host, morning man Russ Parr on the company's WKYS (93.9 FM), will soon have his show syndicated in Detroit and Philadelphia.
October 26, 1998
Ballard Joins DC101
Jon Ballard will be the new afternoon guy on rocker DC101 (WWDC-FM, 101.1) starting November 2. Ballard comes from Phoenix -- where he was a morning host -- and will be the official replacement for "Young" Dave Brown, who was jettisoned last spring. In the meantime, DC101 has used a variety of folks to fill in during PM drive. There's still no word on a formal replacement for DC101's AM drive slot, which became vacant a few weeks ago when Dave Zyck was given his walking papers or left of his own accord -- no one is saying. Buddy Rizer, the station's music director, has been filling in for Zyck until DC101 Program Director Bob Neumann makes a final choice for Zyck's replacement. Neumann was hired to replace Brown, who also doubled as DC101's program director, in early summer when the station was purchased by Chancellor Broadcasting. DC101 is locked in a ratings battle with two CBS-owned stations, alternative rocker WHFS (99.1 FM) and classic rocker WARW (94.7 FM).
October 22, 1998
WOCT Flips To Classic Rock
Baltimore oldies station, WOCT 104.3 FM, is now "Baltimore's classic rock." There was talk that WOCT was going to switch to contemporary when it was purchased by Jacor from CBS during the summer. The talk was that it would switch back to its old slogan, "B-104," back when it was a contemporary station years ago as WBSB. However, CBS flipped its contemporary WXYV (102.7) over to "B-102.7" in order to head off a potential contemporary format change at WOCT. The move to classic rock at WOCT leaves WQSR, FM 105.7, as Baltimore's sole FM oldies station.
October 14, 1998
WMZQ Traffic Reporter Hurt In Plane Crash
Rob Edgar, a traffic reporter for Washington DC country station WMZQ (FM 98.7), was critically injured October 13 when the plane he was a passenger in crashed into a house in Bowie, MD. The plane's pilot, Douglas Duff, 42, was killed in the crash. Two people in the house escaped injury. Duff, of Alexandria, VA, who was attempting an emergency landing at Freeway Airport when the plane crashed just before 7 AM. He was apparently flying in a thick fog. The plane had taken off minutes earlier from Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, MD. Edgar, 31, who had been doing traffic reports for WMZQ for the past six months, was in critical condition at Washington Hospital Center's Medstar burn unit. Edgar was preparing to do his first traffic report of the morning for WMZQ. He and Duff were the only occupants of the plane. Edgar was thrown from the plane when it crashed and suffered second and third degree burns over 40 percent of his body, a broken leg, pelvis and severe facial cuts, the Associated Press reports. Edgar, a resident of Falls Church, VA, works for Metro Networks which provides traffic reports to a variety of Washington area stations.
October 7, 1998
DC Stations Plan To Start Digital TV Broadcasts
Four Washington DC TV stations plan, in the near future, to start digital broadcasts. The stations -- WRC 4, WJLA 7, WUSA 9 and WETA 26 -- have given the go-ahead for the new digital broadcasts while continuing their standard analog broadcasts which viewers now watch. WRC has been operating from its auxiliary transmission site during the first two weeks of October while it installs digital equipment on it main tower. It has been running on-air announcement warning viewers of its poor signal this week while the new digital gear is installed. The station hopes to have the testing of its new digital studios completed by the end of the month. While there is no word on just when the Washington stations will begin regular digital broadcasts -- which can offer one channel of high-definition (HDTV) pictures or several channels of standard definition pictures -- CBS says it plans a November 8 HDTV broadcast of the Jets-Bills football game. ABC and PBS also plan to transmit some HDTV broadcasts to their member stations. NBC says it will start an HDTV feed of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno early next year. Some broadcasters are backing away from HDTV in the belief that offering multiple signals would be a better and more profitable use of the digital technology. For example, if WRC chose the later route it could show its MSNBC and CNBC networks in addition to the standard NBC broadcasts. While the broadcasts would not be in HDTV, they would be digital and therefore clearer than today's standard analog broadcasts. Broadcasters face two major digital hurdles. The first is that many homes in fringe or weak signal areas will have difficulty receiving the new signals. Unlike the current analog system (with its plethora of snowy and interference prone signals), you either receive digital TV clearly or not at all. And the second hurdle will be the cost of the digital TV receivers which initally will be anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000. Of course, those prices will fall but no one knows how fast. WRC will transmit its digital programs on channel 48, WJLA on 39, WUSA on 34 and WETA on 27. Don't expect to see anything viewable on those channels if you're using a standard analog TV.
October 6, 1998
Pirates March On FCC
Several dozen pirate broadcasters marched on the Washington DC headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Association Of Broadcasters (NAB) on October 5. They claimed that their brand of unlicensed low-powered FM broadcasts is necessary in this age of increasing corporate control of the radio bands. Members of the group hoisted a Jolly Riger flag in front of the NAB building during the march. FCC Chairman William Kennard said he sympathized with the protesters' demands. He told the Washington Post: "When I started in the early '80s, you could buy a small AM or FM radio station for an amount of money that made it within the grasp of a small business. Unfortunately, with radio consolidation and deregulation by Congress, that's no longer possible. We've got to find other ways for folks like those who were outside the FCC today." He added that the FCC is trying to accommodate low-powered, community broadcasters. But, he stressed, they must be licensed to prevent interference with other stations. The FCC has been able to shut down approximately 300 pirate stations across the country in the past year.
October 5, 1998
Smith & Britt Move On
C. Miles Smith, who hosted a talk show on Washington DC's WOL (AM 1450), has left the urban talk station. Smith, whose show is also carried on WOLB (1010 AM) in Baltimore, says the action came after he attacked Baltimore's police commissioner, who had been accused of rigging stats regarding the number of shootings in the city. According to the Washington Post, Radio One, which owns WOL and WOLB, suspended Smith on September 25 and fired him on October 2. In other radio personality news, Barbara Britt, news director at adult contemporary WRQX (FM 107.3), was also let go. She was quoted as saying she was a victim of "economics" on the "Jack and Bert Morning Show." Her last day at "Mix 107.3" was in mid-September.
October 4, 1998
Zyck Leaves DC101
Dave Zyck, the morning man at DC101 (WWDC 101.1 FM), leaves the rock station for a potential west coast gig. Did he jump or was he pushed? Buddy Rizer is the new morning personality, staying with Victoria Ray. Rizer had been doing some special features and weekend DJ work at the station. There is talk that there are other personality and programming changes are in the wings at DC101, which was purchased by Chancellor last spring. The station seems to be moving slightly in a harder rock direction, but it still nowhere near the "hardness" of Baltimore's "98 Rock" (WIYY 97.9 FM). DC101 is still struggling in the ratings -- the latest round-up had it in 13th place. Back in August, Chancellor installed a new program director at DC101, Bob Neumann from WMMS in Cleveland. Former DC101 Program Director "Young" Dave Brown, who also DJed at DC101 since the 1970s, now does some air time at crosstown CBS classic rocker WARW (94.7 FM). In his 40s, he has decided to drop the "young" label for "downtown."
September 30, 1998
Smooth Jazz Is Axed In Richmond, New Country Station Is Born
Smooth jazz WSMJ (101.1 FM) has bit the dust in Richmond. That format has been discontinued in favor of country -- along with a move down the FM dial to 105.7. The new station will be known as WJRV, "The River." It becomes Richmond's second major FM country station along with WKHK at 95.3. Meanwhile, religious WDYL, which had been at 105.7 has moved to the 101.1 dial spot. This is the second major format change in Richmond in September. Earlier in the month, WBZU, 106.5 FM, dropped its alternative/modern rock format for oldies. The latest radio ratings, released in mid-September, show urban WCDX (92.1 FM) at the top of the heap, with country WKHK and adult contemporary WTVR (98.1 FM) tied for second place. Talk/news WRVA (1140 AM) takes fourth place, while hot adult contemporary WMXB (103.7 FM) comes in fifth. Contemporary WRVQ (94.5 FM) is in sixth place, classic hits WKLR is in seventh, defunct modern rock WBZU was eighth, and defunct smooth jazz WSMJ was ninth.
September 24, 1998
Cable News - Starpower Moves Into Gaithersburg, DC Cable For Sale, Jones To Activate Fiberoptic Cable In Reston
Cable customers in Gaithersburg, Maryland dissatisfied with their cable TV service may soon have a second cable company to choose from. Starpower Communications has said it will build a new cable system capable of delivering more channels for lower rates than those offered by Cable TV Montgomery. Starpower, in an alliance with the Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO), says it will also provide telephone and Internet service via its cable lines. Starpower is owned by Princeton, New Jersey-based RCN Corporation. It recently purchased the Erols Internet service. Starpower also says that it is currently working with local government to offer its cable service to parts of Prince Georges county, the District and throughout Northern Virginia. Starpower gets a jump-start on other cable TV newcomers in the area because it can use 350-miles of PEPCO-owned fiberoptic already in place. The announcement of the Starpower service comes only days after Bell Atlantic, which owns the local DC area phone company, said it will provide direct broadcast satellite service to Washington area homes in an agreement with DirecTV and USSB. In other DC area cable news, TCI, which owns the District's cable TV system, has been holding talks to sell the system to Prime Management Group which, along with the Carlysle Group, owns the Mongtomery and Arlington county cable systems. However, sources say that the parties are still quite a distance away from an ownership transfer agreement. Several months ago, TCI was discussing the sale of the DC cable system to Jones Communications which owns cable systems servinng Prince Georges, Anne Arundel, Charles and Prince William counties as well as Alexandria, Fort Belvoir and Reston. Firms that own cable systems are busy working to "cluster" their systems by purchasing many cable systems in a common area. Right now, Jones has the largest cluster of systems in the Washington area. It could be rivaled by Prime if the District cable system is to be clustered with the Montgomery and Arlington systems. Jones, by the way, is in the process of being acquired by Comcast, which owns clusters of cable systems in Baltimore and Philadelphia. Once that transaction is complete, Comcast will have a mega-cluster of cable systems in the Washington/Baltimore megaplex. Speaking of Jones, November 2 is the "turn-on" date for the new fiberoptic system in Reston, Virginia. On that date, Jones will move its 80-channel system onto the new cables. And in the near future Jones/Comcast will be adding new digital video services, high-speed Internet as well as telephone services for cable subscribers in Reston.
September 4, 1998
YDB Surfaces At ARW
"Young Dave Brown," the longtime DC101 program director and DJ who was jettisoned by Chancellor when it bought WWDC-FM in the spring, has surfaced at cross-town classic rocker WARW 94.7 FM. At least temporarily. "I've been taking some time off but I did do a few hours on WARW and although I've had several calls and offers from outside the area, I'm looking to stay around here," Brown says. CBS-owned WARW has been working to bolster its on-air staff in recent months with the addition of the well-known and well-respected Cerphe Colwell (former alum of WHFS, DC101 and the previous rock incarnation of WJFK) as the afternoon drive guy. The addition, at least temporarily, of Brown, another respected DJ, can only add to WARW's new reputation. Brown, today a not so young 40-something, had worked at DC101 since the mid-1970s. And he had witnessed the evolution of the station as a DC rock institution. During the entire period, the station had been owned by locally-based Capitol Broadcasting. Brown said he agrees with Howard Stern who recently critized Goff Lebhar, the DC101 general manager, who, like Brown, was "let-go" after Chancellor took over several months ago. Lebhar told the Washington Post that he was sorry to see the arrival of the age of corporate radio and that it would stunt the development of radio talent such as Stern. However, on his show, Stern challenged Lebhar's comments saying he's had more freedom and support now that he works for CBS (and is heard at DC's WJFK-FM 106.7) and not a locally owned station like DC101 was when he worked there. "Goff was a good G.M. who surrounded himself with many talented people. Stern, Greaseman, Jeff Hedges and others. He is not a victim of corporate radio," Brown says. "He made alot of money because of it. He had concerns about Stern's content but liked the ratings that led to higher rates. Stern was fun to work with."
August 23, 1998
PGC Takes Tops In DC Summer Ratings, ERQ Wins In Baltimore
CBS's urban WPGC (FM 95.5) takes the top spot with a 6.1 share in the summer 1998 Arbitrend "12-plus" ratings, according to the All Access website. Meanwhile, Howard U's urban WHUR (FM 96.3) slips a bit from 6.1 to 6.0, while Radio One urban WKYS (FM 93.9) drops a bit to 5.0. Chancellor's country WMZQ (FM 98.7) falls to fourth place, from a 5.5 share to a 3.9 share, while Bonneville's classical WGMS jumps from a 3.9 to a 4.2 for fifth place. In Baltimore, the summer Arbitrends show Radio One's urban WERQ (FM 92.3) holding the top spot with a 9.6 share, Hearst's news/talk WBAL (AM 1090) in second with a 7.1, tied with Jacor country WPOC (FM 93.1).
August 18, 1998
Comcast To Take Over Jones' Cable Systems
The several hundred thousand cable TV subscribers in the Washington DC area who now write their checks to Jones Communications will soon be paying Comcast for their cable service. Jones President Glenn Jones has decided to hand over control of his Jones Intercable to Comcast Corp. cashing in for $200 million. That sum is for his 2.9 million shares of special common stock. When the deal closes by the end of 1998 or in early 1999, Comcast will add about 1 million Jones subscribers across the country including those in the DC area. Jones operates cable systems in Prince William, Prince Georges, Anne Arundel and Charles counties, in addition to Alexandria, Reston and Fort Belvoir. Philadelphia-based Comcast currently has 4.5 million subscribers across the country, including the Baltimore area. Comcast owns cable systems serving Baltimore, Howard and Harford counties. Jones has about 3,500 employees, mostly in the cable systems. The system employees' jobs probably won't be affected, Jones officials said. Jones also figures that Comcast will extend carriage of the Jones-controlled Great American Country and Knowledge TV networks, partly because Comcast will end up owning around 30 percent of those networks.
August 15, 1998
1570 Goes Sports Talk, 1190 Gets Down To Business
WNST, 1570 AM in Towson MD, signed on with a sports talk format in August. The station was recently purchased by "Nasty" Nestor Appericio. 1570 had been WKDB, a childrens formatted station with the now defunct Radio Aahs network..... Annapolis AMer, 1190 WANN, recently added business news to its daytime schedule. The news programming comes from the Business Radio Network (BRN). WANN is owned by New World Communications which also owns ethnic WUST, AM 1120 in Washington DC. WANN features an ethnic format when not carrying business news.
August 12, 1998
DC101, WPOC Get New Faces
Bob Neumann is DC101's new program director. He comes from Cleveland rocker WMMS. Neumann was selected by Chancellor which purchased rocker WWDC, 101.1 FM, from Capitol Broadcasting earlier this year. "Young" Dave Brown had been DC101's longtime program director, but he and station General Manager Goff Lebhar were given their walking papers in the early summer. Look for a more harder edge to DC101's sound, sources say. Changes are also shaking up Baltimore country station, WPOC, 93.1 FM. Jim Dolan takes over as general manager at the Jacor station. He will also be responsible for two other Jacor recent acquisitions in Charm City, oldies WOCT, 104.3 FM, and religious gospel WCAO, 600 AM. The station has reportedly dismissed a number of staffers in its sales, production, news and airshift areas, including overnight DJ Tony Girard.
August 12, 1998
WJZ and WBAL Battle For News Ratings
WJZ and WBAL continue to battle for dominance in Baltimore TV news race while WMAR continues to come in a distant third. WJZ, CBS Channel 13, led the 11 pm news ratings race in Baltimore. WJZ took a 9.7 rating compared with a 9.2 for WBAL, NBC Channel 11, and a 4.2 for WMAR, ABC Channel 2, according to The Baltimore Sun. However WBAL continues to gain ground on WJZ in the early morning, 5:30 am newscasts, finishing in a virtual tie. In the early evening, WBAL continues to hold an edge over WJZ; at 5 pm WBAL's news gets an 8.3 versus WJZ's 8.1. However at 6 pm WJZ edges out WBAL with a 9.6 versus a 9.2.
August 11, 1998
John "Captain Airwaves" Carmody Retires
Washington Post television columnist John Carmody has retired. USA Today reported August 11 that Carmody, 74, who was dubbed "Captain Airwaves," has packed up after 21 years at the Post's Style section. Carmody's "TV Column" had been frequently missing during the past months as the veteran columnist has been reportedly in poor health. His column, which coined several terms such as "ratingszzzzz," "lotsa dots," and the infamous "roller towel alert," filled Washingtonians in on the big (which TV anchor was fired or which station was sold) news and the small (which station ad exec's wife had a baby) stuff too. Over the years, Carmody became frustrated with the mediocre nature of American television. USA Today quoted him as saying: "Sitcoms are just awful. There are a couple of dramas worth watching, but there's very little on network TV worth getting up for. That's why news and sports are having their fad right now." Lisa de Moraes, formerly of The Hollywood Reporter, will take over the Post's TV column by late August.
August 10, 1998
Dandy Don Joins WINX, Duckman Joins Gallaher, No Bohannon On WOL
Longtime Washington radio presence "Dandy" Don O'Brien has joined top 40 WINX, 1600 AM. O'Brien, who has most recently been handling substitute weather duties at Channel 7, handles the morning drive on the Rockville station..... Longtime Washington radio presence Bob Duckman will now join Eddie Gallaher for the morning drive show on nostalgia WWDC, 1260 AM. Duckman's career dates back to legendary adult contemporary WASH back in the 1970s..... Talks to put talker Jim Bohannon on WOL, 1450 AM, have gone south. Bohannon has been heard on WMDM, the new expanded band AM station (1690) in Lexington Park, MD. WMDM can be heard throughtout the DC area at night. Meanwhile, WOL will feature its own overnight show. It is also adding Eric St. James to the morning drive slot.
August 8, 1998
WXYV Is Now B-102.7
Baltimore's WXYV became B-102.7, "The Buzz," on August 8. The CBS-owned station will stick to its current contemporary format but some fine-tuning will be performed such as by playing more "mainstream" tunes during the daytime hours, while venturing more into hip-hop and more experimental tunes at night. The switch to the "B" slogan is seen by many observers as a way to prevent Jacor's recently acquired WOCT (a former CBS station) to return to its previous B-104 moniker with a contemporary format. WOCT is currently an oldies station; it had been known as WBSB.
August 7, 1998
Don Geronimo Arrested
Half of WJFK's (106.7 FM/1300 AM) afternoon team of the "Don And Mike Show," Don Geronimo, whose real name is Mike Sorce, was stopped August 5 in Great Falls, Virginia for traveling 75 mph in a 35 mph zone. The Fairfax County police officer reportedly smelled marijuana and discovered a small amount in the car. Sorce was booked on possession of marijuana and driving under the influence. He spent the night in jail and was released the next morning after posting a $1,000 bond. This is not his first run-in with the law. The Washington Post reported that Sorce pleaded guilty to a cocaine possession charge in 1996 and received a one-year probation sentence, in addition to traffic infractions in 1988 and 1996. "Don" was back on the air for his August 6 show where he delivered a public apology. The "Don And Mike" show is syndicated to 58 stations across the country via the Westwood One radio network.
July 25, 1998
ABC/Disney Purchase Of Channel 7 Falls Apart
The Walt Disney Company, which owns the ABC television network, has pulled out of talks to purchase WJLA-TV, Channel 7, the ABC affiliate in Washington DC. The Washington Post reported July 25 that Robert Allbritton, chief operating officer of WJLA's owner, Allbritton Communications, told station employees to "burn your mouse ears," indicating that talks to sell the station to ABC/Disney were off. Station employees had been upbeat about a sale to ABC figuring that the deep-pocketed network would bolster the station's sagging fortunes; WJLA's news operation has long been an also-ran in the ratings battle with channels 4, 5 and 9. However, the Post adds that talks surrounding the station's sale may be continuing -- however, this time with another firm -- Dallas-based A.H. Belo. Belo owns TV stations in Dallas, Houston, Seattle and more than a dozen other markets.
July 21, 1998
WPGC, WHUR Top Spring DC Radio Ratings; WERQ Leads In Baltimore
Urban contemporary formatted stations took three of the top four spots in the spring 1998 Arbitron total audience ratings. Howard University's adult urban station, WHUR (FM 96.3) and CBS's more hip-hop urban WPGC (FM 95.5) tied for first place (each with a 6.1 share) in the latest ratings round-up, which was listed in the July 21 Washington Post. HUR stayed even with its winter share number while PGC was up from a 5.5. Urban WKYS (FM 93.9), owned by Radio One, took the number four spot with a 5.2, up from last winter's 4.9. In the neighboring Baltimore radio market, urban contemporary Radio One-owned WERQ (FM 92.3) took the top spot, although it was down from winter's 9.8 share to an 8.8 share. Country WPOC (FM 93.1), soon to be a Jacor property, took second place with a 7.2 share, up from a 6.7. Hearst news/talker, WBAL (AM 1090) took third with a 6.8 share.
July 17, 1998
XYV Goes "Extreme"
WXYV 102.7 FM, the CBS-owned contemporary station in Baltimore, has begun to shift to an "Extreme" musical format which will increase hip-hop and "modern" rock tracks with a quick rotation. Already listeners have noticed the swing away from the more traditional contemporary format which WXYV has been programming since it became a contemporary/top forty station in early 1997. The station had been urban contemporary V-103 before that. The new XYV sound is provided by Jerry Clifton who has consulted stations in Honolulu and Phoenix. The changes at XVY come as there is increasing talk that cross town oldies station WOCT, 104.3 FM, may return to a contemporary format. It used to be WBSB, B-104. WOCT was recently purchased by Jacor; it has been a CBS station.
July 6, 1998
Personal Achievement Radio Out At WZHF
Douglas Broadcasting, which owns WZHF, 1390 AM, in Arlington VA, is discontinuing its Personal Achievement Radio (PAR) format, which is broadcast during the daytime hours. The talk format featured clips from motivational speakers and was heard on Douglas-owned stations in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as on WZHF. Brokered programming, such as foreign language fare, will replace the PAR programming. PAR was the brainchild of Douglas Broadcasting Chief Executive Officer John Douglas. It featured the likes of Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra and Barbara DeAngelis. The changes at WZHF will have no effect on the station's "Rainbow Radio," a gay-themed block of talk programming that runs in the late evenings and overnights.
July 6, 1998
Channel 9 Gets New General Manager, Station Manager
Richard Reingold has been named general manager and president of WUSA-TV, Channel 9. He replaces Robert Sullivan at the Gannett-owned station. Reingold previous served with CNBC Asia. In addition, Gannett named Richard Dyer, a Gannett vice-president, as WUSA's station manager/vice president. Dyer had also been Channel 9's sales manager. The powers that be probably hope that the new execs can turn around WUSA's troubled fortunes which include poor worker morale and low ratings for its news programs in particular. WUSA has faced several hurdles in the past few years including the loss of the CBS network's NFL football package as well as the departure of several key news personnel including the resignation of top anchor Maureen Bunyan and the death of sportcaster Glenn Brenner.
July 6, 1998
Kessler Out At WBIG, Bohannon Now On 1690
WBIG-FM, otherwise known as "Oldies 100," has dumped its morning man, Mark Kessler. Kessler was brought in to fill a vacancy created by the departure of Jim London (who has gone to adult contemporary WGAY-FM 99.5). The Washington Post quotes WBIG Program Director Steve Allan as saying, "He didn't fit the style of what we do." Late-night DJ Dave Adler will replace Kessler at 100.3 until a permanent replacement is found. Both WBIG and WGAY are owned by Chancellor. In other news, talker Jim Bohannon is back on the air in the DC area. His overnight talk show has been heard weeknights on WMDM, the new expanded band AM station on 1690. Lexington Park, Maryland's WMDM started broadcasting in early July and it puts in a pretty strong signal throughout the DC area at night. Bohannon had been homeless (radio-wise) in the DC area since earlier this year when WWRC-AM (then at 980 now at 570) dumped most of its talk lineup for brokered business news.
July 8, 1998
DC Area Gets Expanded AM Band Station
The Washington DC area got its first expanded AM band station, WMDM, 1690 kHz. The station was first noted in early July and is related to WPTX, 920 kHz. Both WMDM and WPTX are licensed to Lexington Park, MD. WMDM was heard Saturday night (July 4) broadcasting the Art Bell talk show and on late Sunday afternoon (July 5) carrying a bluegrass show, followed by more Art Bell at 9 pm. On Monday morning (July 6) the station was broadcasting 50s and 60s oldies. It then left the air mid-day on Monday but returned on the evening of July 8 carrying a syndicated talk show. The station is licensed to Patuxent Radio Partners. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened the 1610 to 1700 kHz segment of the AM band to new stations a year or so ago. So far, stations have started in the New York, Atlanta and Miami areas and can be heard at night in the DC area.
July 6, 1998
WTTR Goes Oldies, GRX Goes Frog-less, WPOC Dumps Seven, WWLG Sold
A summer avalanche of Baltimore radio news begins with the revelation that WTTR, AM 1470 in Westminster, Carroll County, MD -- Baltimore's far western suburbs -- flipped from a talk format to oldies in early July. The station, which can also be heard in Washington's northern suburbs, plans to keep up its news department, as it is the only source of local radio news for Carroll County. Now gone are "Dr. Laura," the "Dolans," "Joan Rivers" and "Sports Overnight America." WTTR is co-owned by Pennsylvania-based Shamrock Communications with country WGRX at 100.7 FM. WGRX has dropped its "Froggy Country" promotions effort and is now just "New Country 100.7." In other Baltimore radio market news, Charm City's top country station, WPOC, 93.1 FM, let seven of its on-air staff go in late June. The former POC staffers include Ted Patterson, Jim Miller, Tony Girard and Todd Grimsted. Jacor says the moves are the result of a cost-cutting effort at WPOC. The station recently became part of the Jacor corporate family of stations which also includes oldies WOCT, 104.3, and religious gospel WCAO at 600 AM. Jacor is reportedly interested in acquiring WIYY (aka "98 Rock") and its AM sister, talker WBAL, 1090 AM, from Hearst Broadcasting, which also owns Channel 11, WBAL-TV. And in more Baltimore radio news, nostalgia station WWLG "Legends Radio," 1360 on the AM dial, has been sold to Mangione Family Enterprises, which owns talker WCBM-AM (680). Also included in the deal is WASA, a nostalgia formatted AMer on 1330 in Havre De Grace, Harford County, northeast of Baltimore. And in yet more news, WKDB, 1570 AM in Towson, formerly a childrens programming station under the now defunct Radio AAHS banner, will soon become a sports talk station with some Ravens pre-season football games.
June 25, 1998
Nnamdi Replaces McGinty, YDB Flees DC101, London Returns, Joyner To MMJ?
A wind of radio personality changes is whirling through the Nation's Capital in late June. For starters, Kojo Nnamdi, host of Channel 32's (WHUT) "Evening Exchange" program will take over the reins of Derek McGinty's afternoon (noon to 2 pm) talk show on WAMU-FM (88.5). McGinty recently left the American University station to take a post with CBS News. Nnamdi, who is set to start on WAMU on August 31, will continue his evening talk program at Howard University-owned WHUT. In other radio personality news, YDB, otherwise known as Young Dave Brown (who is a not so young 46 these days), has been given his walking papers at rocker DC101, WWDC-FM. His station was recently purchased by Chancellor Broadcasting which also owns adult contemporary siblings WASH-FM (97.1) and WGAY-FM (99.5), as well as country WMZQ-FM (98.7), oldies WBIG (100.3), sports WTEM-AM (980) and business news WWRC-AM (570). Brown's career dates back to DC101's early days as a rock station in 1975. Chancellor is evaluating everything at DC101 and is reportedly looking at placing Chicago's Mancow Muller in the morning drive. DC101 will also reportedly tighten up its playlist (just what the conservative DC rock radio market doesn't need) to include fewer current tracks and more classic rock. And speaking of WGAY, ex-WMZQ morning personality Jim London makes his way to 99.5. He'd most recently been doing time at Chancellor's oldies station, WBIG. And in yet other news, there's some talk that Chicago morning man Tom Joyner may be moving his show from Howard U's WHUR-FM (96.3) to Radio One's WMMJ-FM (102.3). Stay tuned.
June 15, 1998
WNVC Feuds With Washington Post
Channel 56, WNVC-TV, an independent non-commercial station in Fairfax, Virginia which broadcasts many international programs is angry at the Washington Post. Management at the full-powered station, which devotes a large part of its programming day to shows in Korean, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, French, German, Farsi, Thai and 20 other languages, is upset that the Post does not carry the station in its television listings. An article in June issue of Asian Fortune, a Washington area newspaper geared to the Asian community (obviously a major component of WNVC's audience), reports that WNVC General Manager Frederick Thomas recently met with Post editors and that the meeting did not go well. Apparently Post officials were not impressed with a WNVC inspired postcard campaign from viewers asking that the station be carried in the newspaper's daily listings. While the Post does not carry WNVC's schedule in its daily listings, several other area newspapers do carry the station's daily schedule including the Washington Times, the New York Times (Washington edition) and the Journal newspapers. Asian Fortune adds that the failure of the Post to carry the station in its TV listings is not the only beef the station has with the newspaper. WNVC officials want the issue to be carried by the Post in its TV Column which is written by John Carmody; Carmody's column is frequently missing of late because the author is reportedly in ill-health. One result of the tension between WNVC and the Post has been the cancellation of a foreign affairs program the two entities had produced. WNVC is carried by all cable TV systems in the Washington area.
June 15, 1998
Digital TV Tests Take Place In Baltimore
Sinclair Communications, which owns Baltimore's WBFF-TV, Channel 45, and operates Channel 54, WNUV, according to a local marketing agreement, conducted digital multichannel and high definition tests during the week of June 8. The demonstration featured live broadcasts of WBFF airing four program streams simultaneously -- all 480-line non-high definition tests. Meanwhile, Sinclair also conducted a high definition test using the signal of WNUV with a 1080-line signal. The tests took place for only three days. The demonstrations reportedly attracted little interest from Congress and the Washington establishment; however upwards of 100 people from the financial community viewed the tests.
June 15, 1998
Will ABC/Disney Buy Channel 7?
The Washington Post reported June 15 that there is speculation that Joseph Allbritton, owner of Washington's ABC affiliate, WJLA-TV, Channel 7, may sell the station to ABC/Disney. The Posts says that rumors that Allbritton, who also owns eight other TV stations across the country as well as the local NewsChannel 8 cable news service and Riggs Bank, was in talks to sell WJLA and a Little Rock station to ABC/Disney. NewsChannel 8 is also reported to be part of the deal. The transaction, the Post adds, could be worth more than $1 billion. ABC/Disney does own several area radio stations including WMAL-AM (630), WJZW-FM (105.9) and WRQX-FM (107.3). If ABC does buy Channel 7 and holds on to its area radio properties, the TV station and WMAL radio could come under common ownership again. Up until the mid-70s, Channel 7 was known as WMAL-TV and was owned by The Washington Star newspaper along with WMAL-AM and then WMAL-FM (now WRQX-FM).
June 10, 1998
Rehm, Madison Return To Airwaves
Diane Rehm returned to her 10 am to noon WAMU-FM (88.5) weekday talk show in early June following a five-month absense due to throat problems. Her condition was announced to be spasmodic dysphonia. Meanwhile, Joe Madison is back on the air in the Washington area, this time as the afternoon talker on WOL-AM (1450). Madison used to be on the old WWRC-AM (then 980 now 570) before it switched to business news/talk earlier this year. Madison also serves as WOL's program director. The station unveils a new line-up which includes Eric St. James in morning drive, C. Miles Smith during middays, and Bernie McCain evenings.
June 8, 1998
Harris Resurfaces In Baltimore, Sellers Joins Z-104
The Washington Times reported June 8 that Paul Harris, the former WARW-FM (94.7) afternoon personality, has resurfaced at Baltimore's WCBM-AM (680). Harris, as well as his sidekick "Dave The Predictor," can be heard on the Baltimore talk station weekdays from 3 pm to 6 pm. Harris was dumped from classic rock WARW in April to make way for Cerphe Colwell's music based afternoon program. Harris has also worked at defunct classic rocker WCXR (now WJZW) as well as rocker DC101. The Times reports that Harris has also been doing fill-in work on Washington's WMAL-AM (630). In other radio personality news, Sean Sellers is the new afternoon person on contemporary hit WWZZ/WWVZ, Z-104, according to The Washington Times. Sellers replaces L.A. Reid who left the station in April.
June 8, 1998
Jacor Acquires Baltimore's WOCT, WCAO
Jacor, one of the largest group owners of radio stations across the USA, will acquire two CBS-owned Baltimore radio stations -- WOCT-FM (104.3) and WCAO-AM (600). CBS was required to unload several of its Baltimore properties in order for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval of a merger it is planning with American Radio Systems. The deal to transfer ownership of WOCT, an oldies station known as "The Colt", and WCAO, a gospel formatted religious station known as "Heaven 600," also involves CBS swapping several stations it owns in St. Louis and San Jose. Also in the deal, CBS will acquire several Jacor stations in Columbus, Ohio and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Jacor also owns country-formatted WPOC-FM (93.1) in Baltimore. And there are talks that the firm will also soon acquire Hearst's two Baltimore radio properties -- WIYY-FM (97.9), a rock station also known as "98 Rock," and its AM sister, talker WBAL-AM (1090). There is also speculation that Jacor may change WOCT's format back to contemporary/top 40, a format the station had years ago when it was known as B-104. Despite CBS's decision to sell two Baltimore stations, it will still retain a large chunk of the Baltimore market with the continued ownership of WLIF-FM (101.9), WXYV-FM (102.7), WWMX-FM (106.5), WHFS-FM (99.1), WQSR-FM (105.7), WBMD-AM (750), WBGR-AM (860) and WJFK-AM (1300). CBS also owns several stations in the Washington DC market than can be heard in Charm City.
May 25, 1998
Comcast Buys A Stake In Jones Communications
Comcast Corp., a Philadelphia-based cable television company, announced May 25 that it has agreed to acquire a 15 percent stake in Jones Communications, which has 425,000 subscribers in the Washington area. According to a Washington Post report, Comcast has purchased options to acquire a controlling interest in Jones. The Posts says that the move by Comcast, the nation's fourth-biggest cable operator, is part of a deal potentially worth $500 million that in three years could give Comcast a 37 percent interest in Jones and the ability to elect a majority of the Jones board. Comcast's plan to gain control of Jones would advance its strategy of piecing together regional cable "clusters" around major metropolitan areas, the Post report adds. Comcast has 450,000 subscribers in the Baltimore area, while Jones is among the Washington region's biggest cable operators, with systems in Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Charles, Calvert and Prince William counties. It also operates systems in Alexandria and Reston. Cable companies are pursuing such clustering because it allows them to achieve efficiencies in labor, advertising sales and equipment, analysts said. A combined Jones-Comcast could coordinate advertising and technology needs and receive volume discounts for programming. Company officials said they see this action as an investment that carries the right to some day link Comcast systems in Baltimore with Jones operations in the Washington suburbs, the Post adds.
May 18, 1998
WINX Goes "Top Forty"
Rockville, Maryland oldies station WINX (1600 AM) flipped to contemporary "top forty" tunes on May 18, 1998 as expected. The 1000 watt station (500 watts at night) now provides a full-service contemporary format with news and traffic reports, complete with DJs who talk right up until the first vocal and plenty of reverb. One of the steep hurdles WINX faces, besides being on the music-unfriendly AM band, is that the station's signal doesn't reach significant portions of the DC metro area. Its signal covers only Montgomery County as well as Arlington County and northwest DC. Listeners in the Virginia suburbs have a very difficult time receiving WINX. More importantly, WINX faces competition from several powerful FM stations including dance-oriented WWZZ/WWVZ, otherwise known as Z-104, as well as two up tempo adult contemporary stations, WASH (97.1), which is surging in the ratings, and WRQX (107.3) which is also doing quite nicely ratings-wise. Although none of the three above FM stations could be officially classified as "top 40" by traditional standards. In early 1997, there was talk that suburban Montgomery County government would buy WINX and broadcast non-stop traffic information on 1600, but that deal fell through. WINX did try relaying its oldies format on 94.3 FM out of Warrenton, Virginia in early 1997 but that ended when all-news WTOP took over 94.3; WTOP has since moved to 107.7. WINX did also simulcast its signal for several weeks on a 50,000 watt daytimer on 1030 on the AM band from south of the DC area before that station became gospel WWGB in mid-1997.
May 15, 1998
WJFK Plans Musical Experimentation
WJFK-FM (106.7), the CBS owned station which runs talk programming during the mornings, afternoons and evenings, may replace the soft jazz music it plays overnights and on weekends with more experimental programming, according to station Program Director Jeremy Coleman. So far, the station has added a punk rock music program Saturday nights from 10 pm to 1 am hosted by Chris Condayan. And Coleman says that he wants to "experiment" with the late night, early morning hours, by offering more cutting edge types of music. Right now, when WJFK is playing its soft jazz late at night it is difficult to tell it apart from its 105.9 FM neighbor, Disney/ABC-owned WJZW, which has a fulltime soft jazz format. WJFK, which brands itself as "Washington's Superstation," had been doing quite nicely in the ratings with the likes of Howard Stern, Don & Mike, G. Gordon Liddy and the Redskins up until the latest (winter) ratings period when it dropped to 14th place in the overall average ratings. In fact, all three major CBS FMers in the DC area are in ratings doldrums and that includes classic rock WARW and modern rocker WHFS. Recently CBS had says good-bye to afternoon driver Paul Harris on WARW and replaced him with Washington radio rock veteran Cerphe Colwell. And WHFS has seen its share of changes with the arrival of morning jock Lou Brutus and the departure of John Dryden, who's "Daily Feed" program has been a staple at the station for a decade and a half. HFS also cut back the duties of another longtime veteran, high-pitched voice "Weasel," whose real name is Jonathan Gilbert.
May 5, 1998
WTOP Plans Improved Reception On 107.7
Feeling some ratings strength from the latest Arbitrons which showed all-news WTOP's morning news in third place overall in the morning drive, the station is making plans to improve its new FM service. WTOP, with a highly directional 50,000-watt signal on AM, has long had difficulty putting in a strong signal to portions of the DC metro area, particularly parts of western Montgomery and western Fairfax counties. So, last summer the station added an FM simulcast on 94.3 out of Warrenton, Virginia, about 40 miles southwest of The District. On April 1 of this year WTOP's FM signal was moved to 107.7, also out of Warrenton, but with far more wattage than 94.3. Now, WTOP Program Director Jim Farley says that the signal improvements don't end there. "We've ordered a new (FM) transmitter which will go on line in mid-June (and that) should boost (coverage) a fair bit. Also, (we) anticipate getting a new antenna in July or August," he says. "The WTOP climb into 3rd place in morning drive was accomplished on the weaker-signal of 94.3. We'll have to wait for the Spring Arbitron sometime in late July to see how well the 107.7 simulcast is doing," Farley adds. And there is still room for improvement. Overall WTOP ranked 14th in the winter Arbitrons with a 3.4 share (see story below).
May 1, 1998
WHUR Tops Winter Ratings
Adult urban contemporary WHUR-FM (96.3) took the top place in the winter 1998 Washington DC area radio ratings, according to an account in the May 1 Washington Post. The Howard University owned station took a 6.1 share (up from a 5.2 share last fall), vaulting it to the top position, the Arbitron ratings indicated. WHUR's Tom Joyner also took the cake in the morning drive race, edging out WMAL's Brandt & Parks combo. Urban WKYS-FM (93.9), the top station in last fall's ratings round-up, dropped to fourth place with a 4.9 share (down from a 6.3 last fall).
April 25, 1998
Cerphe Joins WARW
Cerphe Colwell, a voice on the old, free-form WHFS, and a veteran of WAVA (when it was album rock), WBMW (WJFK's old new age format), and rocker DC101, will be joining the afternoon line-up at classic rock WARW, DCRTV has learned. Colwell takes over the slot formerly occupied by Paul Harris who was relieved of his duties at the station in early April.
April 25, 1998
WARW PD Says Classic Rock Will Continue
Phil LoCascio, program director of WARW, tells DCRTV that his classic rock station is not planning to change format. "CBS is a company without middle management, so I'd know if we were changing format, and we're not. I spent (and continue to spend) hundreds of hours, and thousands of dollars researching to get this classic rock music right, and just locked Greaseman up to a 3 year deal. I don't think both of those investments would have been approved with a format change. Our ratings stink right now, but that's why I'm here," LoCascio says. Rumors have been making their way to DCRTV which indicate that 94.7, the CBS-owned station is about to make a format change, perhaps to top forty. Many DC area radio listeners have long lamented the fact that there hasn't been a good top forty station in the area since WAVA, 105.1, went religious several years ago. Some listeners seem to think that area top-forty-ish stations, such as WRQX, 107.3 (Mix 107 point 3), and WWZZ, 104.1 (Z-104), just don't fit the bill as a good all-around, full-service top forty station. CBS did recently hand walking papers to afternoon drive personality Paul Harris and promise to increase the flow of music on the station, but the Greaseman still holds court on Arrow 94.7 during the morning drive.
April 20, 1998
Reid & DeVany Move On
Z-104 (WWZZ, 104.1 and WWVZ, 103.9) afternoon host L.A. Reid has left the Waldorf, MD contemporary station. The talk is that he will resurface at Baltimore's WXYV, a contemporary station at 102.7. Meanwhile, Dan DeVany, afternoon host for classical WETA-FM (90.9), will leave his on-air post for the post of programmer at the Arlington, VA-based public station. DeVany has been filling in the afternoon slot for two years. He'd served as a morning host from 1990-94 and took two years off to obtain a graduate degree.
April 15, 1998
WDCT Goes All-Korean
WDCT, a Fairfax AM station on 1310, has gone all-Korean talk and music. While the station had been broadcasting Korean programming being purchased in 1995 by Kenneth Kyung Sup Shin, it had also been running English language religious programming. With the move to all-Korean programming, WDCT is one of the only Korean language stations on the east coast. The only other station may be WZRC, an AM station in New York City. Approximately one-quarter of WDCT's programming is religious.
April 15, 1998
WZHF Adds Rainbow Radio
Douglas Broadcasting which owns Arlington's WZHF, 1390 AM, has added gay-oriented "Rainbow Radio" to its overnight hours. Rainbow Radio, which is being broadcast in several other markets including San Francisco and Chicago, will feature talk-oriented programs dealing with health, relationships and financial issues all from a gay perspective. "The gay community has the same needs for information as everyone else," says ZHF General Manager Michael Reichert, according to an article in April 7th's Washington Post. But, he adds, the gay community finds itself ignored on most other broadcast outlets. The Post reports that ZHF is selling time to several major gay-oriented advertisers including the Washington Blade newspaper and the Whitman-Walker Clinic. Eventually the station hopes to fill the entire 9 pm to 6 am block with gay-themed programming. For the rest of the day, WZHF programs Personal Achievement Radio which is based on motivational talks from the likes of Zig Ziglar, Tony Roberts and Deepak Chopra. WZHF recently dumped its more topical, political talkers such as conservative Stan Major. The recent programming moves seem to quash rumors that WZHF might be switching to an Asian language format.
April 10, 1998
Simpson In, Harris Out
WPGC-FM (95.5) morning man Donnie Simpson has singed a multi-million dollar five-year deal to stay on the CBS-owned urban contemporary station as morning drive host. Simpson is locked in a see-saw ratings battle with another urban station, Radio One-owned WKYS (93.9). There had been talk that PGC wanted to replace Simpson with a younger sounding, more "street" morning team. Simpson had been wooed by two other area stations, Radio One's WMMJ (102.3) and Howard University's WHUR (96.3), both of which cater to older audiences. But Simpson eventually decided to stay at PGC. However, the airwave fortunes were not so good for Paul Harris, the afternoon man at CBS's classic rocker WARW (94.7). He was shown the door after his April 3rd show. Harris has been a fixture at many stations in the area including DC101 and at the now defunct classic rocker WCXR (105.9). Apparently low ratings were the cause of Harris's troubles. WARW, which still has the Greaseman on during the morning drive, plans to feature more music and less talk the rest of the day and into the night.
April 1, 1998
WTOP Moves To 107.7
All-news WTOP moved its FM simulcast from 94.3 to 107.7 on April 1, as planned. In early March, WTOP owner Bonneville acquired 107.7, the frequency of Warrenton, Virginia country station WUPP for $8.1 million from Syd Able. On April Fools Day Bonneville moved the news programming of WTOP, which has long operated on 1500 AM, from 94.3 FM, also in Warrenton, to 107.7, giving WTOP a much better reach through Northern Virginia and parts of DC. WTOP has been making on-air announcements about the move "to the top of the FM dial." The new WTOP-FM operates with 29,000 watts while the old 94.3 frequency operates with only 4,000 watts. Bonneville paid Able for the swap because 107.7's coverage area is greater than 94.3's. "Up Country" WUPP moved to WTOP-FM's old dial position of 94.3. Able now owns 94.3; the deal is technically a swap. WUPP was making announcements that "you got to get down to get up," meaning that you'll have to move down the dial to 94.3 to continue getting "young country" WUPP. Bonneville also owns contemporary Z-104 (WWZZ and WWVZ) as well as classical WGMS.
March 26, 1998
DC Radio Veteran Doug Bailey Dies
Doug Bailey, 68, a veteran of Washington DC radio, died of pneumonia March 24, 1998 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. According to an obituary in the Washington Post, Bailey began his career in 1948 as a page at WMAL radio in the Trans Lux Building and then at NBC radio in the Wardman Park Hotel. In the 1950s, he played organ and piano for WBCC radio in Bethesda. He also served as program director for WDON and WASH, and was a programming director at WFCR radio in Fairfax. In the 1960s and 70s, Bailey served as co-host of a morning show on WFCR, which became WEEL and is now WDCT. He also played pipe organ for many stations including WEEL and WPIK, according to the Post. Bailey was also the founder of an advertising agency and produced many documentary and trade films for government and private industry before retiring in 1989.
March 26, 1998
Weasel Relieved Of Daily Duties At HFS
The Washington Post reported March 26 that long-time WHFS DJ Weasel, whose real name is Jonathan Gilbert, has been relieved of his daily DJ duties at the "modern rock" station. High-pitched voiced Weasel has been with HFS's many incarnations during the past 28 years, since its days as a free-form progressive station at 102.3 in Bethesda. He gives up his daily duties which included hosting the station's mid-day "Flashback" shows which played classic "new wave" of the early 80s. Weasel will continue to handle the weekend Flashback shows. The Post quotes HFS general manager Phil Zachary as saying, "The station continues to mature." WHFS is owned by CBS and is in a crosstown ratings battle with rocker DC101, which was recently acquired by another corporate media titan, Chancellor Broadcasting. Weasel says he is looking for another fulltime radio gig perhaps at classic rocker WARW, which is also owned by CBS.
March 20, 1998
Will Pax-Net Stations Be Sold?
Media mogul Lowell "Bud" Paxson had planned to start a sixth national broadcast TV network later this year called "Pax-Net" with a slew of family oriented programming. He had planned to use an ever increasing number of UHF TV stations he'd purchased -- including WPXW, Channel 66 in Manassas, VA, which serves the DC metro area. However, since late 1997 when Paxson announced his plans for the new network, his stock value has taken a major hit. And there is increasing Wall Street talk that Paxson may sell off all or some of his stations (which include stations in most major markets). This talk also raises questions about the launch of Pax-Net, which is still planned for late summer or early fall. Currently, most of Paxson's stations, including WPXW, run a steady diet of informercials with some ethnic programming during the evening hours and religious programming during the overnights.
March 15, 1998
Could Z-104 become Z-105?
There is talk that Bonneville, owner of struggling dance-oriented contemporary pair WWZZ (104.1) and WWVZ (103.9), being dubbed as a single Z-104, could be in the market to acquire 105.1, now owned by religious broadcaster, Salem. There is talk of a signal swap, such as what's taking place between WTOP and WUPP (see below). Both of Z-104's stations are rimshots -- 104.1 from Charles County, MD, about 30 miles south of the District, and 103.9 from Frederick, MD, about 30 miles northwest of the District.
March 15, 1998
Programming Shake-Up At WETA-FM
Mainly classical WETA-FM (90.9) is shifting around some of its non-musical programming. "Car Talk" is being moved to 10 am Saturdays while "A Prarie Home Companion" is being moved to 10 am Sundays. This results in a loss of classical music programming both mornings. But WETA will add "St. Paul Sunday," a classical performance and interview program at 4 pm Sundays. WETA is also dropping "The World," a BBC/WGBH-Boston production which had aired weekdays afternoons at 3. It is being replaced with "Fresh Air," an interview program. WETA is also scrapping "Schickele Mix," an eclectic mix of music from composer Peter Schickele.
March 9, 1998
WTEM/WWRC Swap Dial Positions
On March 9, as planned, Chancellor Broadcasting swapped the dial positions of WTEM and WWRC. All-sports WTEM moved from its 570 dial position, with 5,000 watts, to 980, with a much stronger 50,000 watt (daytime) signal. Meanwhile, WWRC, a business news and talk station, moved to 570. In related news, news reports indicate that much of the staff of the area's other business news station, WBZS at 730 am, has moved to WWRC. In the most recent ratings round-up (fall 1997), WTEM and WWRC had identically low ratings, somewhere around the 20th position overall.
March 9, 1998
WBFF & WNUV Start Multi-Channel Digital Broadcasts
Two Baltimore TV stations, WBFF, channel 45, and WNUV, channel 54, have begun broadcasting the nation's first multistation, multichannel digital television signals, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. Sinclair began broadcasting February 27 on digital channels assigned to the two stations. Unlike current television broadcasts, digital signals can carry four to eight program channels, raising the possibility of a 32-channel system using four broadcasters, said Nat Ostroff, vice president of technology for Sinclair, which owns WBFF and WNUV. AP says that Sinclair plans to demonstrate the system for Congress in April. Sinclair is considering a system that would be a mix of the current broadcast and cable systems where some channels would be free and others would charge a monthly fee, which would be less than current cable rates, Ostroff said.
February 20, 1998
Channel 28 Signs On
Billing itself as the "Information Super Station" (ISS), low-power Channel 28 came to the air in February 1998. It claims to be "a new program service focusing on the executive branch of government." It can be viewed primarily inside the beltway. Transmitting from a tower in Washington DC, channel 28's coverage area is largely inside the Beltway.
February 20, 1998
Chancellor Buys DC101, WWDC-AM
Chancellor Broadcasting gobbles up one of the last locally-owned FM stations in the Washington DC area -- rocker WWDC-FM, 101.1, also known as DC101. The deal also includes WWDC-AM, a nostalgia station on 1260. DC101 had been owned by Washington DC-based Capitol Broadcasting. Texas-based Chancellor announced the mid-February deal to purchase WWDC-FM/AM for $72 million. Chancellor owns approximately 100 stations across the country including several in the DC area including WBIG-FM (oldies), WASH-FM and WGAY-FM (both adult contemporary), WMZQ-FM (country), WTEM-AM (sports talk), and WWRC-AM (business news/talk).
February 15, 1998
WWRC Drops Talk For Biz News
Chancellor Broadcasting, owner of two ratings-starved Washington DC area AM stations, has announced a format flip. On March 9, WWRC, at 980, will move down the dial to 570, while 570's current occupant, WTEM, will move to 980. The move has been long anticipated and is expected to bolster the fortunes of sport-talk formatted 570 WTEM ("The Team"). The move to 980 will give WTEM access to 980's 50,000 watt signal. Right now WTEM operates with only 5,000 watts during the days and 1,000 watts at night. While WWRC will go to a less powerful signal, Chancellor is also making big format changes there. As of February 9, WWRC dropped its long-running, and long under performing talk format (which featured the likes of Ollie North and Mary Matalin) with a business news format featuring the Bloomberg Business News network. However, the station did keep some of its non-business oriented talkers such as Art Bell and his sci-fi talk show overnights. As for sports team programming, right now the basketball Washington Wizzards are on WWRC at 980. They will stay on 980 even after WTEM takes over that frequency. And the hockey Washington Capitals, now on 570 WTEM, will also stay on 570 after the shift. The latest ratings show the current incarnations of both WTEM and WWRC to be at the bottom of the ratings heap. Washington has traditionally been a poor AM radio market; currently the top rated AM station is WMAL, which is only the eighth most listened to station in the market.
February 15, 1998
Capstar Buys WFMD, WFRE
Texas based Capstar Communications has announced plans to purchase two Frederick, Maryland stations, WFMD, an AM station on 930, and WFRE, an FMer on 99.9. Both are currently owned by former Washington DC area sportscaster Jim Gibbons. WFMD is a talk formatted station carring the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Art Bell, plus a wide smattering of DC and Baltimore area sports teams including the Redskins. WFRE is a country formatted station.
January 20, 1998
KYS Tops Ratings Round-Up
Lanham, Maryland-based Radio One's WKYS-FM (93.9) tops the latest Washington area ratings book -- for late 1997. According to the Arbitron Ratings of the preferences of listeners aged 12 and up (as reprinted by The Washington Post on January 14, 1998), hip-hop/urban contemporary WKYS was tops with a 6.3 share, up from last summer's 5.9 share. Two other urban contemporary stations took the spots two and three in the ratings, CBS's WPGC-FM (95.5) and Howard University's WHUR-FM (96.3). WPGC (with a 5.6 share) has been marketing itself to a younger, "more hip" audience of late while WHUR (with a 5.2 share) goes for an older, more "adult" audience.