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June 2005

[important]To read in chronological order, start at the bottom and work your way up.[/important]

Hi Eric, Maybe you can throw this on the board as a “where are they now?” question. Tony Warner did sports at WTOV-TV/Steuenville about 30 years ago. He left there for a sports job in Little Rock, Ark., but I’ve lost track of him since then. Tony was from Pittsburgh, somewhere in the South Hills, I believe. Thanks, Gary (June 30, 2005)

Hey! It’s almost been a year now that B94 has been gone, and the “almost a year” had sucked really bad. There is no good music anywhere in pittsburgh. I was one of the biggest fans of B94. I listen to Y1007 in miami (where adam is)! I HATE howard stern, and anyone part of the change to B94! Kiss of course had to rub it in the next couple weeks, but that’s ok because they’re breaks are so long people forget what happened after the commercials. Hope K-Rock dies soon! L8r – Hannah (June 29, 2005)

Rare it is when I see something that brings back pleasant memories. And, all things considered, six years at WNCC included a lot of pleasant memories. AM 950 was quite a station, under a series of ownerships that included when I was there William Bland’s Bland Group. We had Morning Devotions at 6, with some of the best sermons coming from Father Canice, who went on to the Tidewater area before retiring to St. Vincent’s (if I recall correctly), and Father Ted Seginak (who recently was, I understand, among his other roles, a Grand Knight of the local Knights of Columbus council in Jeannette). We had Dial ‘n Deal from 9 to 10 (which was one of the most frustrating shows because of all those trying to put business ads on in the guise of the freebie classifieds-of-the-air we would accept). And Open Mike was a tad risky because WNCC didn’t have seven-second delay. And with a signal that easily reached Altoona, Indiana, Johnstown’s hillside suburbs and central Clearfield County, WNCC was a station to be reckoned with. Sadly, the coal mines died out, and so did much of the economy of Coal Country in the years after I left. News was my job there, but it was hardly the only reason why WNCC was as wildly popular as it was. “In Cambria, Blair, Clearfield and Indiana counties, when people say radio, they mean, W N C C, Barnesboro.” Pat Cloonan. (June 29, 2005)

I spent most summers visiting relatives in Hastings which is next to Barnesboro and I listened to WNCC AM most summers(the CC stands for Coal Country was a slogan they used)of which Denny Pompa mentioned. I did that from the 50’s and early 80’s. Your one respondent was right. If people didn’t like the music they turned to another station. You had your Polkas on Sundays from 7 A.M- 12 or 1 P.M.,Oldies in the afternoon. Weekdays were music and Open Mike I believe if memory serves me right at 4 or 5 P.M. and of course the Miners Hospital Report earlier in the day. If I didn’t like the music or whatever WNCC had I switched the station. It was a local station that a lot of area people listened to and supported by local advertisers. IF there is a subconscious bid to play the types of music as Pat and Denny suggest then it is because people are looking for something familiar from their youth. Songs they grew up with no matter the format. Since Oldies CBS-FM became history I found a station that Pat and Denny were talking about in South Jersey. I like it and it is a pleasure to listen to it. I heard songs on that station that I haven’t heard in 40 years. I believe they use the slogan “songs that the whole family can lsiten to”. Right they are. Robert Jones, Edison, NJ (June 28, 2005)

During the years that Ed and Rainbow were on the Ed and Rainbow Show, who was Rainbow? or was that Uncle Ed doing a voice thing. Thanks (June 27, 2005)

Eric’s Response: Rainbow was another person. His full character name was “Rainbow Jackson” but was played by Elmer Waltman. Bill Beal, Alice Sapienza-Donnelly and Rich Harris provide answers to that and more in their book “When Radio Was Young – Questions and Answers About Early Pittsburgh Radio.”

Eric, Was listening to WZPT over the weekend and they were playing a “Whatever You Want” all-request weekend. Had a wide range of music which sounded similar to the “Jack” format that has been talked about recently. Well… In St Louis they have a station 106.5-“The Arch” whose complete format is “Whatever We Want.” I have heard everything from ABBA to Guns-N-Roses to the Rolling Stones on The Arch this week. I tell you what, I kind of like the format myself. Watch out, Pittsburgh, it may be coming our way ! Don (June 22, 2005)

Eric, What’s going on with WLSW?? There getting rid of there afternoon shift?? Debbie Larson?? Doug McDoungh?? Today I listened to there radio station… And I swear there was a different voice on there today. I heard that they got new furniture and they found a rat in the ventilation shaft in the A/C. supposedly from what Jeff Gerard said on the air wow! I do miss the oldies a lot on there radio station during the week… Now they have this computer that Stan calls “Mr. Dell” and it sounds like I am listening to repeat after repeat of the same show everyday except for the news and weather. I hope this station is not falling apart. It seems like there oldies on the weekend is going down hill too? Change of personal?? Let me know what you have heard or anyone else in that matter. Thanks (June 21, 2005)

These words in Denny Pompa’s June 8 e-mail stuck out. “For the most part, listeners didn’t complain.” I was a listener back then. And I was one of the people who didn’t complain when I was listening to rock and roll on “Groovy QV” and they snuck in something like Sammy Davis, Jr’s “Candyman”. I didn’t complain at all, I simply hit the selector button on my radio and changed the station. And, if the other Top 40 station was playing some lame “variety” song, I didn’t complain. I plunked a cassette into my tape player and left the radio off. After a while, I didn’t have to complain about the variety on Top 40 radio at all. I either listened to an AOR station on FM, or my tapes. “Variety” Top 40 didn’t die because of too many complaints. I died because FM and in-car music players that handled casettes, 8-tracks, and eventually CD’s were a preferrable option. George Erdner (June 20, 2005)

In response (a bit belatedly) to the callsign question about WBGN: actually, Pittsburgh’s WBGN is legally WBGN-CA, not WBGN-TV. The “TV” suffix is reserved for full-power stations. WBGN is a “class A low-power TV,” which means it gets some protection from being displaced from its channel allocation, but doesn’t get any of the other privileges that full-power TV stations get, including mandatory cable carriage and a second channel for DTV. When WBGN is ready to convert to DTV, it’ll have to “flash cut” from analog to digital on whatever channel it’s operating on by then. (It won’t be 59; the TV dial will only extend from 2-52 when the DTV transition is complete, and stations like WBGN-CA that are operating outside that “core spectrum” will be reassigned to channels within the core.) (June 18, 2005)

It’s a real shame I have to depend on Morgantown’s WNPB (DT-33) to give me my nightly PBS fix. WQED (HDTV-38) has mysteriously, without explanation, disappeared from the television airwaves. Pittsburgh, despite being ranked 23rd among the major television markets, is in DESPERATE NEED of a PBS affiliate who is reliable (which WQED hasn’t been), and who is among other major markets bigger (and smaller), capable of feeding digital signals which offer a DIVERSE range of programming. All WQED has done so far is supply a HDTV feed of PBS programming which has been subject to constant interruptions (technical), and has not lived up to their promise (of 2 years ago) of supplying 4 digital channels of PBS programming. Smaller markets have had the fortunate ability to have such programming. A list of such markets would be embarrassing to WQED. C’mon QED, let’s get our act together. Let’s supply Pittsburgh with what they deserve. Get our signal together, and supply the programming that this great city deserves, without constant interruption. You (QED) claim you’re a major Public Telivision Station. Now is the time to show it!!! (June 16, 2005)

Eric, with Viacom announcing it’s split up, how will this effect the Pittsburgh entities of the company? All of the affected parties here in town (KDKA-TV, WNPA-TV, & Infinity) will become part of the new CBS Corp., but is there anything that we’re not finding out now? As for Jack-FM, I have to agree with you that WZPT-FM will adopt the format if it comes down to an Infinity station. WRKZ-FM is doing reletively well in the ratings, while WZPT is struggling. I still think that overall, WRRK-FM will switch, as everyone I know that listens to that station believe that they will be the ones to adopt the format. Maybe even WXDX-FM will change to Jack-FM, as they have lost a lot of ground to WRKZ. I see them either changing to Jack-FM, country, or staying as-is. (June 15, 2005)

Eric, I saw in your mailbag from 2/05 that someone was looking for a female DJ who was on Mix Jamz 100.7 in ’92-’93. I found this because I have been looking for Tony Q Fox (Dave Donovan). Any idea where he is? I would love to catch up with him – we were good friends when he was in Wilmington, DE (93.7 WSTW) and in Ocean City, MD (Power 99.9). We lost touch after he moved to Pittsburg in 1991 to work for Mix Jamz. Can you help? Terry from Delaware (June 14, 2005)

Hi Eric, Do you think there is any truth to a JACK FM station coming to Pittsburgh by the end of June? If so, which station do you think will change? Thanks, Todd (June 11, 2005)

Eric’s Response: Oh it’s always a possibility…but I haven’t heard that it would necessarily be that soon. (Although think about what happened at the end of June LAST year!) Anyhow, “JACK” is one of Infinity’s creations and my best guess (and others have confirmed it) 93.7 or 100.7. Given that Stern has, at the most, another 6 months on regular radio, that it will be 100.7. There is always the possibility that a similar format would end up on one of the other stations in town…perhaps 92.9. Best bet though…look at the Infinity stations for the format.

Eric, What happened to WQED’s HDTV and WQEX’s digital signal on channels 38 & 26 respectively? They both disappeared in the last day or so. WQED had a lot of good PBS High-Defintion programming. Bill (June 10, 2005)

Eric’s Response: For all I know, they could be doing some work at the tower. But I have not heard anything.

Pat Cloonan hit the nail on the head with his comments on the Jack format…It wasn’t all that long ago(I remember the early 80’s at WNCC in Barnesboro,now Northern Cambria) when Top 40 formats were a mix of rock , pop, and even country cross – overs.We played stuff by the Bee Gees, Tom Petty, Kenny Rogers , etc. For the most part , listeners didn’t complain. We also played the occasional local musicians who made recordings .Maybe its time for the eclectic mix formats to come back. Denny Pompa (June 8, 2005)

Allow me a personal thought or two, Eric. I keep reading about “Jack” and “Bob” and whoever else. But, all things considered, is there some subconscious bid to bring back another time, when radio could mix together a Beatle song, a Johnny Rivers, a Petula Clark and some local group, and make sense? Mind you, unless you do it with personality (DJs who sound like they have a grasp of the music and their audience) it’s probably a transitional format. I’m waxing about this in various media (believe this or not, I haven’t had room for this in my column) and I’d love to hear some reaction. (Perhaps even for a future column.) Pat Cloonan (June 8, 2005)

When I was a kid, I had the pleasure of appearing on Paul Shannon’s “Adventure Time” with my group, Cub Scout Pack 511. Much later, I would end up working in the same building, at Channel 4’s sister FM station. Ah, the glory days of local, live television! “DOWN goes the curtain…” Regards, C.I. (June 7, 2005)

Hey Eric, in response to the person who asked about the call signs WWVA being used in two different cities in two different states: here’s something similar to that. A radio station in Bowling Green, Kentucky, an ESPN Radio affiliate known as 1340 the Ticket, has the callsigns of WBGN–sound familiar? Although Pittsburgh’s own WBGN-TV would still have to use the -TV extension for station ID purposes anyways, it explains why they use the -TV all the time. While on the topic of WBGN-TV, with the station picking up in popularity, do you know if they have an HD channel yet? And if they do, would it be simply a higher-powered station? I emailed them before on that and I got no response. And BTW, Beaver Falls has cn8, just so you know. I haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet, but people on the AdultSwim.com Message Boards told me that the network, unlike CNN or Fox News, is very neutral politically, but they’re a lot alike what KDKA-TV was just a couple of years ago in that they show a lot of nepotism there, and like KDKA-TV, they’re pretty blatant about it. I’ll probably watch a little bit of it tonight to see what it is like. And do you think they will establish a news division in Pittsburgh in the near future? (June 7, 2005)

Eric, Regarding “Laurie, Last Kiss, Etc…….A jock on WHAS (Heck, i don’t remember anymore) ran a string of them years ago, and referred to them as the great “Splatter Platters”……….Kevin Snyder (June 6, 2005)

You have no idea what you’ve started by mentioning Paul Shannon. After I read a few lines in the mailbag I couldnt stop thinking of all the happy moments I spent with Paul Shannon as a kid. Im from a town in WV 90 south of Pitt. (Fairmont) and I watched Paul every day. (just this moment thought of Happy Howard the spider. Im gonna be up all nite over this. Anyone out there want to join forces to resurrect PS stuff. A website maybe. Maybe there are still old tapes available. I dont mind doing legwork. Im near Charlotte NC. Anyone out there who fells like I do just give a holler over this website mailbag. (June 6, 2005)

Eric’s Response: I should charge rent…

Eric, Just wanted to let you know that JACK radio has come to the NYC area. As of 5 P.M. yesterday long time oldies station WCBS-FM 101.1 went the “JACK Route”. I realize this isn’t Pittsburgh news but long time DJ’s such as Harry Harrison, Cousin Brucie Morrow of the old WABC, Bill Brown, Bob Shannon who did Pittsburgh radio, and others can be heard on the internet only. No DJ’s yet. Going to be a lot of shocked and upset people in the Big Apple today. Really thought WNEW-FM would’ve gone this route. As with any station it depends on what JACK plays. Robert Jones, Edison NJ (June 4, 2005)

In the early 70s daylight saving time started in jan. due to the energy crisis and daytime clear channel AM radio stations were allowed to sign on at 6 am local time with reduced power. Now that the gov. wants to extend DST Why Can’t the FCC let The Daytimers Sign on again At 6am local time,with reduced power? Philip Zmenkowski aka Stu Holiday WPSL 1510. (June 2, 2005)

Re: CN8 It will be on Channel 188, in the digital tier, for now, on Pittsburgh and Greensburg systems. (That is to say, the systems covering, respectively, McKeesport and Irwin regions in the Daily News coverage area.) It should be available to 250,000 customers, the company said. Pat Cloonan (June 2, 2005)

Eric: The (May) maibag contributor is asking about one of the many famous “death records” (among them, Ray Peterson’s “Tell Laura I Love Her,” “Teen Angel,” by Mark Dinning, “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers–not to mention it’s creepier necrophile parody, complete with shovel digging and a casket creaking open–“I Want My Baby Back,” by Jimmy Cross), which populated the charts between 1959 and 1964. The song is “Laurie (Strange Things Happen)” by Dickie Lee. Ed Weigle Venice, FL (June 1, 2005)