Category Archive: Eric’s Musings

Mar 18 2017

Call Sign Cavalcade returns; Our pledge starts soon

Remember when we had the Call Sign Cavalcade? I pulled it down when it seemed like it would never be accurate… especially when we were relying on people to remember and guess and well, it was a ball of confusion! Recently, the FCC began digitizing the pre-1980 station records and posting them online. “Aha!” I said, “I can bring back the Call Sign Cavalcade!” It will roll out gradually.

When I started making the page late last summer, the FCC hadn’t scanned the entire AM band… just certain stations were made available. So I held off… and just mere months later, the AM side is done. So far the FCC has the FM non-comm band (88-92) available for stations pre-dating 1980. I am guessing that the rest of the dial will be done later this year. So for now, the Pittsburgh AMs are listed. I intend to work on the neighboring market pages as time allows. Doing this also helps me to update the station listings pages.

Speaking of updating listings, the Pittsburgh Station addresses have been updated too! I’m working on station listings as well.

We will be beginning the 2017 Pledge Drive very soon. I enjoy doing this site as much as I know many of you enjoy reading it! But I can’t do it without you! Please consider a pledge of support to keep us going. I’ll let you know how you can help very soon. Many of you have been generous in the past couple of years and I thank you. Stay tuned…

Feb 21 2017

People

Here are some things I’ve read or heard about people while away from the computer over the weekend…

Jon Grayson – I recently learned that “Overnight America” that was heard on KDKA-AM (1020) had vanished from the airwaves. Excuse me if I’m not up all night most nights… and the last time I heard “OA” was in December (on my way to a rare early shift at the mighty KHB Radio Metroplex in the east…) not long before the show was pulled from the Westwood One syndicate. Well now, the host of the program, Jon Grayson, has left KMOX in St. Louis where the show originated. Tom Taylor confirmed that Grayson did, in fact, leave the station and is headed to KTRS for a daylight shift beginning in a few weeks. Meanwhile, if you’re not a night owl, you probably don’t know that Jim Bohannon goes from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. on KDKA. The last local show on in that time slot was “The Undercover Club” hosted by Bob Logue for 16 years until his 2005 retirement. Gary Dickson carried it after Logue retired until it was taken over by a syndicated program. Logue still produces the subscription-based Undercover Club Newsletter.

Wendy Bell – Speaking of subscriptions, 11 months after her much ballyhooed firing from WTAE-TV 4, Wendy Bell is about ready to announce her new website, a spin off of her Facebook page Positively Wendy Bell. The new site’s URL has yet to be announced but we do know that Bell i charging a nominal monthly fee for the Positive news she intends to publish on the site. The Post-Gazette did a story about it last week and even though there were a lot of naysayers who commented on the PG’s Facebook post linking to the story, one might safely bet that many of the over 90,000 followers Bell herself has on Facebook, will subscribe.

John Sutton – Several years ago, as a WQED-FM volunteer, I met Pittsburgh native John Sutton who was in town and at the station as a consultant through the firm he founded. John, a regular reader of this site even then… 2003? 04? is now stepping away from his consulting firm and returning to town to be GM of WESA (90.5). Sutton began his Maryland-based consultancy in 1997 and was later joined by Sonja Lee who will continue with the firm. Although the firm consulted with the pubcasters, Sutton was a part of the commercial band for a while (DC’s WTOP and Pittsburgh’s WDVE and KQV) before he became Research Director for NPR. He was the consultant that led WESA through it’s 2011 transition from WDUQ after Duquesne University sold the license. WESA has been without a full-time GM since DeAnne Hamilton left in 2005. Meanwhile the station has also hired Craig Weber as director of finance for both WESA and WYEP (91.3).

Feb 03 2017

For Entercom, it’s a return to Pittsburgh

Alert reader BJ reminded us that Entercom was in the Pittsburgh market before. In the early 90s Entercom owned WDSY-FM (107.9), its original AM counterpart WEEP/WDSY (1080) and WXRB/WNRQ 104.7. I could describe the whole living detail to you as to how the stations were sold off from Entercom, but I don’t have five hours to write a long diatribe and description of how the three were sold. Let’s just say that Entercom spun 104.7 off to Secret Communications which is when it became the sister of WDVE and WXDX. In that same year, which was 1997, 1080 was sold off and eventually flipped call signs and formats with 1510 in Monroeville. And then WDSY-FM was sold to what is now CBS radio.

Here is what we know and what we sort of know about the pending sale. Entercom’s headquarters will remain near Philadelphia, but we have also heard that they will maintain a large physical presence in the current CBS Radio headquarters in New York. Also the new Entercom will consist of a board of directors featuring five current directors and four who will be nominated by CBS Radio. Those facts lead me to believe that the new Entercom and CBS Corp. will maintain a relationship through the ages.

One place where I think that will be likely is through the use of call letters. For instance in the cities where CBS Corp. owns and operates TV and radio stations with matching call letters, I would expect there to be some sort of agreement between the two companies for maintaining the use of such call letters. For Pittsburgh, that means KDKA. CBS Corp. will maintain the rights to use call letters such as KDKA. But because of its heritage with radio, CBS will likely offer an agreement to Entercom to maintain use of the letters on the radio stations. (Let’s face it, everybody knows KDKA radio… Why change it?) I should also note that Pittsburgh is not the only market where this will happen. Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston are others that I can think of offhand. Meanwhile Boston is an example of a market where a divestiture will have to take place in order to be within ownership regulations.

This is the first time in several years that Pittsburgh has been caught up in a broadcast company merger. We’ll see how it all plays out later in 2017.

More via Pittsburgh Business Times.

Jan 24 2017

I thought you said…

A week or so ago we posted that Kathy Berggren was leaving er post as the AAA traffic reporter for KDKA-AM (1020). But you’ve likely heard her since. The Monday and Tuesday after her farewell, she was off the air but back on Wednesday. Larry Richert announced following the traffic report we heard that Berggren is responsible for finding her replacement. “So she’ll be filling in for herself in the meantime.”

Alert reader, Doug, tells us that he saw Bill Phillips on WPXI over the weekend despite the post late last month that he was returning to WTOV beginning January 3. Seems that he was covering the Steelers for both stations during the season. Now that the season is over, it’s unclear if he’ll remain a part of 11’s sports team although as of this writing, his bio is still there! The station were sisters under Cox ownership for about 13 years and Phillips moved to WPXI from WTOV in 2001 under the co-ownership. WTOV was sold (with WJAC) to Sinclair in 2013.

Dec 14 2016

1360 where are you?

I really wish I knew what to say when it came to the situation with WGBN. Since my posting Monday with the link to the page that says that the station resumed operations, many of you have contacted me via email, social media, and comments on the report itself to tell me that you have not heard anything coming from 1360 AM. Some have said that it is possible that they signed on for just a minute or two. And others have suggested that the station is operating at such a low power from the nighttime site in Lincoln Borough that it is not reachable in the usual places around town where the station has been received in the past. My Monday drive along Route 30 in North Versailles brought nothing more than high-pitched hums and squeals.

An attempt to reach the stations FCC attorney via email was unsuccessful and is not out of the ordinary from what we understand. PBRTV extends an invitation to station representatives to use our forum to put an end to speculation and let the community know what is going on.

Meanwhile, the “Resumption of Operations” listing at FCCdata.org has been changed from “Accepted For Filing” on Monday to “Granted” still using Monday’s date. That leads me to believe the power output is so low that it’s not covering the full coverage area.

December 9, 2016 filing

Dec 05 2016

Farkleberries: A long-standing tradition

15304455_10154581006566352_6520474942394915164_oIt was 1971 when then-KDKA morning man Jack Bogut received a Denver Post item from a listener talking about the Farkleberry Bush Festival in North Dakota. He took the novelty and ran with it, so much so that it eventually became synonymous with the Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund Fundraiser that KDKA continues to this day – complete with Farkleberry something-or-others!

Bogut worked with Jim Delligatti (the Big Mac inventor) each year thereafter to create a new Farkleberry treat that would be made and distributed at the area McDonald’s Delligatti owned. The “Farkleberry Turkey” sleeve is an artifact of one of those creations.

Jack’s complete Farkleberry story can be found on his blog (posted December 4, 2016) at his website: storytellerjack.com.

(Sleeve contributed to PBRTV by Sam Zema.)

Oct 27 2016

Happenings

First of all, I would like to thank those of you who responded to my last “musings” article where I revealed what was going on in my personal life. I received nothing but nice messages and support from you good folks and appreciate the sentiment. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.

It seems that the month of October was a slow one in this city – at least from the perspective of all things media. But a couple of interesting things have happened in the last week or so.

Subscribers in nonsubscribers (I unfortunately admit to being the latter) alike, who read Scott Fybush’s extensive website Monday morning saw that the top master antenna on a Needham, Massachusetts tower failed. The failure, which was the second one of its type in four years, took outstations WBZ, WSBK and WGBX. If viewers did not subscribe to Comcast cable, they were out of luck to be able to watch the New England Patriots defeat our own Steelers. Or so we think. Comcast receive station signals through a direct connection and their viewers probably noticed nothing wrong. Engineers rerouted the affected stations to the lower master antenna, which normally carries WGBH which was thereby rerouted to WCVB’s auxiliary antenna. It’s interesting to note however, that Dish Network subscribers got a quick fix when the satellite provider routed to KDKA-TV to their viewers in the Boston area. Don’t worry, New Englanders had their opportunity to watch the Steelers lose to their beloved Patriots at Heinz Field.

Patrick Cloonan of the Uniontown Herald-Standard reported on Wednesday that Laurel Highland Total Communications Inc., owner of WCNS (1480 Latrobe) and more recently WAVL (910 Apollo) and its FM translator, has purchased Spectrum Radio Group’s WMMN (920), WTCS (1490) and WRLF (94.3) in Fairmont, and WZST (100.9) in Westover, West Virginia for $650,000. LHTC has long been a telephone and cable provider for the region and diversified into radio in 2014 with the purchase of WCNS from John Longo. Cloonan says that the company will be unifying all of its subsidiaries under one name in time so that the company can “spend more time focusing on what has been and always will be our number one priority, providing high-quality communication services, supported by personalized customer service.”

It is interesting to note that WMMN is one of West Virginia’s oldest radio stations having signed on in November 1935. Today it is a sports talk station (5000w day; 200w night) with a distant signal into Uniontown. Cloonan’s complete article can be read here. (You may need a subscription to read the article.)

Stay tuned… We will update the translator list for Pittsburgh over the weekend.

Oct 06 2016

Telling on myself

If you’re anywhere in the vicinity of Murrysville, you may or may not know that there has been an 88.1 FM which has been on the air since 1994. Up until last year, the station was owned by He’s Alive Incorporated as WRWJ and served as repeater for their station in Grantsville, Maryland. Through a transaction or two it became the property of Broadcast Educational Communications – the non-commercial sister company of Broadcast Communications Inc…. my employer of just about 10 years now. The station is now WKGO

In 1994, at the same time WRWJ was attempting to build 88.1, WRCT (88.3) had finished a 5-year battle and received permission to increase its power. As a result, WRCT is 1750 watts to the North, South and West, but 650 watts to the East. However, WKGO’s biggest signal competition is Pittsburgh Public Media’s WZUM-FM which is also on 88.1 coming out of Bethany, West Virginia. WZUM-FM recently increased power to the east. Therefore, in much of Allegheny County where the two 88.1s meet you’ll get a smattering of Jazz and Easy Listening. But both stations are well within their coverage means.

Yes, I said Easy Listening. The boss had a library of B/EZ music sitting around and decided to put it to use on WKGO. Since I am one of the youngest emplo… uh.. make that the most experienced with the format,.. (I grew up listening to it on WSHH and later WEZE – and kind of “studied” it since) I have been programming the music. Cross that off my bucket list! Be patient with us, WKGO is a work in progress. But I have included the obligatory B/EZ recordings that garnered many calls to such stations in their day – Caravelli’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Wigwam, Johnny Pearson’s Sleepy Shores and Zamfir’s The Lonely Shepherd backed by the James Last Orchestra to name a few. Thanks go to Warren Andrews, Jim Masters and the father of the format, Marlin Taylor, who, through email and face-to-face discussions over the years, help to make programming such a format pretty… well… uh… easy!


wmck_logo_smSpeaking of the format and the assistance from the aforementioned gentlemen, I’ve spent the last 19 weeks at my own microphone as creator and host of the two-hour Smooth, Relaxing and Easy which airs on WMCK.fm. Like this website, I can call the show “my own” and I enjoy sharing the music with the listeners… most of it comes out of my personal collection.

“WMCK dot FM” is a project of Tube City Community Media Inc. and has been on the air for a year as of October 6. WMCK was the original callsign for McKeesport’s 1360 – which is now (although currently silent) WGBN. It was second to WEDO (810) which signed on about 6 months earlier way back in November, 1946. The WMCK callsign is no longer available for use on terrestrial radio stations. In fact, it is reserved for maritime use.

WMCK.fm is best described as “free-form”, playing new rock during the hours that there are not shows like mine on the air. The shows range from oldies to country and other genres in between. The station also does live coverage from events in and around McKeesport. It’s a bona fide internet station… an internet station that could! Tune it in via the website or one of a few smartphone apps.


14424777_10154370670311352_395966943510255278_o

Eric with emcee Jon Burnett at the 2016 Step Forward Pittsburgh event for the Parkinson Foundation of Western PA

One more “telling on myself” moment… and I have struggled with whether or not I’ve wanted to parlay this to my readers. I am not one to talk about my health or my life in general, especially since that is typically nobody’s business. However if I am being honest with you I am being honest with myself.

Two years ago I was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s Disease. As a result I have had to adjust my life to living with the disease and that includes how I do things like the activities listed above, this website and everything else I do. Without going into great detail, I have begun to use Dragon dictation software to write many of my postings. Otherwise I type with one hand. There are also days when my voice may not be as strong. It doesn’t always show on the air as I attempt to keep it strong, but there are times when I know that it’s not all there.

Most of my days end up being pretty good, and for as young as I was when I received the diagnosis, that should remain the case throughout. But there are some days, especially during cold, cold winters, that my motivation lacks, I shake more, and the day becomes a complete wash. Obviously I try not to live my life expecting those days, however I cant deny that they happen. I focus on having good days.

My family, especially my wife, and friends have been very supportive throughout all of this. I have told them from the beginning, and I tell you the same, that I am not seeking pity as it accomplishes nothing. I just seek your support and understanding throughout this time especially as I have decided to live with the disease versus suffer from the disease.

Thank you for your support.

Feb 02 2016

February 1, 2016… a busy day

As I was updating some (and I do mean some; not all the ones that need to be updated) of the station addresses, I got distracted by one of my favorite sites – fccdata,org. Lots of AM owners have taken advantage of the FCC’s Translator filing window that opened today. WEDO (810 McKeesport), newly acquired by Broadcast Communications, applied to move  sister’s translator from Waynesburg. WAVL (910 Apollo) which will be fully-owned by Colonial Media soon, applied to move a soon-to-be sister’s Olean, New York translator. WCNS (1460 Latrobe) is nabbing one from Girard, Ohio. There are more, but it’s late and I would be up all night putting the puzzle pieces together. My health doesn’t allow for it.

The current filing window is open to Class C and Class D AM stations right now. Class A and Class B have their opportunities to file come July. (Complete AM classification geek-out info here.) A station can reel in a translator (assuming there is frequency space for it) from up to 250 miles away.

Meanwhile, our buddy Scott Fybush is in the translator consulting and brokering business as we speak… go to translatorsale.com.

In other news, the application for the “assignment of license” (sale) for WZUM (1550 Braddock) was filed. AM Guys LLC is selling to Pittsburgh Public Media.

And happy birthday to “724”. 18 years ago in 1998, 724 became the break-off area code since 412 was almost out of numbers. After much discussion, heartache, drama, and screaming, it was decided that 724 would not be an overlay area code. Instead the new code would be a split for the majority of counties in the region leaving most of Allegheny County as the home to 412. 412 still spills into a piece of Westmoreland and Washington Counties, while 724 covers the northern Allegheny County where the former North Pittsburgh Telephone Company (Consolidated Communications) has their footprint. Even though 412 had been around since the codes started in 1947, it only took two years after 724’s arrival to come close to exhausting the numbers there too, The overlay (now more accepted than when 724 was introduced) 878 was introduced in 2001, but numbers in that code weren’t assigned until 2013. Happy birthday 724. We weren’t sure we’d like you, but now we can’t imagine life without you.

Time for bed…

Jan 06 2016

Radio/TV Notes

RadioTVNotesLet’s catch up on a few things, shall we?

I am taking the day to recover from a 12 1/2 hour workday yesterday where I aided in the relocation of WEDO-AM (810 McKeesport) from its White Oak location to North Versailles where it joins WKHB (620 Irwin), WKFB (770 Jeannette), and WKVE (103.1 Mt Pleasant). This is the fourth move that station engineer Richard Ruby has overseen for WEDO over many years. WEDO enjoyed many years in downtown McKeesport including a time at the Midtown Plaza Mall and was likely the mall’s last tenant before moving to White Oak. No real changes are being made to the station’s schedule, except that some of the morning programs – reruns and “freebies” – will be replaced by music. Candy and Mike, Sal Patitucci, and others will all remain. The deal between seller 810 Inc. and buyer Broadcast Communications, Inc. was finalized Tuesday. This editor remains a part-time BCI employee and has also done contractual fill-in work for 810 Inc.

WAVL (910 Apollo) is back on the air. It is airing Colonial Radio Group’s “Mountain” format which comes from the stations up north near the New York state line. The deal is apparently in “LMA-to-Buy” status, and probably eases the minds of Evangel Heights Assembly of God Church in Apollo who took the station dark last summer. We’ll see what Colonial has in store in the near future. (TRIB)

We hear that WPXI’s (11) Gordon Loesch anchored his final Noon news today. He is headed to WPXI’s 10:00 p.m. news that airs on WPGH (53). That is probably a relief to David Johnson who anchors the 5:00-6:30 and 11 p.m newscasts. Damany Lewis takes on the Noon slot with Peggy Finnegan.

WTAE (4) announced today that on February 1 a 7:00 p.m. newscast will be added to the lineup of the station’s 4.2 channel “This TV”. The newscast will be anchored by Jackie Cain and Mike Harvey will do the weather. It is designed for those who might miss the regular evening newscast.

And it looks as though WWSW (94,5) may be doing fairly well for the Holiday book when it comes out. In response to my last ratings report, I received an email or two educating me that the December book has little or no bearing on the Holiday numbers as most of it was measured in November. The station had only been all-Christmas for about a week when the measurement for December ended. Stay tuned for the readings in late-January,

I will be starting up the PBRTV Podcast again soon, but I should also alert you that I will be starting the PBRTV Pledge Drive as well. I’ll officially announce it soon.

Older posts «