Indiana RadioWatch: January 18, 2018

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[Editor's note: Blaine is once again dealing with a death in the family, this time on the other side of the country. So it's guest editor Scott Fybush of NorthEast Radio Watch in the saddle again this week, sending my condolences to Blaine and to his family. This week's IRW includes some of the first grants of new translator construction permits from last summer's window for new AM translator applications. Scott Fybush/NorthEast Radio Watch]


Mike Pence parlayed a talk radio gig all the way to the White House. Gary Snyder is hoping to at least get to Indianapolis. The Huntington Democrat, who has been a host at WOWO in Fort Wayne and WBAT in Marion, has filed papers to run for the State Senate in District 17. Mr. Snyder, a U.S. Army veteran, currently serves as president of the online Indiana Talks network.

New translator grants from the FCC this week: W291DF (106.1fm/Decatur), to silent WJZI (1540am).


Where are they now? Kyle Fobe, former executive producer at South Bend's WBND-TV, moves from that same role at Fox affiliate KVVU in Las Vegas to become news director at Nexstar-owned CBS affiliate WTAJ-TV in Altoona, Pennsylvania.


Indiana has lost two veteran broadcasters in the first weeks of 2018, Vern Kaspar (featured later in the column) and now Len Ellis.

Mr. Ellis, who died Jan. 14 at 88, was a pioneer of country music in northwest Indiana, starting at WJOB (1230am) in Hammond in the early 1950s, where he developed his "Uncle Len" on-air persona.

In 1964, Mr. Ellis and his wife Bee founded Porter County Broadcasting and signed on the first radio station of their own, WAYK (1500am) in Valparaiso. It soon changed calls to WAKE and spawned WAKE-FM (105.5) in 1968. In 1974, WAKE-FM became a country outlet under its current calls of WLJE (Mr. Ellis' initials.)

Mr. Ellis, who also promoted country music concerts in the region, was named to the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 1983 and was named a "Legend of Country Radio" in 1994 by R&R magazine.

After Mr. Ellis retired in 1988, Porter County Broadcasting passed to the control of Mr. Ellis' son, Leigh. Renamed Radio One Communications, it added two more FM signals, WXRD (103.9fm) and WXRD (107.1fm). Mr. Ellis continued to appear on the air at WLJE ("Indiana 105") as "Uncle Len" for many years until the cluster was sold to Adams Radio Group in 2014.

Elkhart-based Friends of Christian Radio sells translator W248AP (97.5fm, Chesterton) to Larry Langford for $12,500. Mr. Langford will use the translator to relay Gerard Media's WIMS (1420am, Michigan City).


Ball State University graduate David Letterman has launched a new streaming show, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction," on Netflix. Local audiences may remember Mr. Letterman from his time on WLWI-TV (Channel 13, now WTHR) in Indianapolis in the early 1970s.


Vern Kaspar, one of the longest-running radio owners in the state, died early on the morning of January 5. Mr. Kaspar served in the Navy during World War II, graduated from Iowa State College and went into management at what was then the state's only TV station, Iowa State-owned WOI-TV (Channel 5) in the early 1950s.

Mr. Kaspar came to Indiana later in the decade and purchased WILO (1570am, Frankfort), which became the cornerstone of his Kaspar Media group. Mr. Kaspar started a local talk show, "Partyline," on WILO in 1960 and hosted it for many years. Kaspar Media's holdings grew to include WSHW (99.7fm, Frankfort) as well as KWRE/KFAV in Warrenton, Missouri and many FM translators.

Mr. Kaspar's interests included amateur radio and travel. He visited 61 countries, many with his wife, Lillian, who died in 1999 after 55 years of marriage. He was inducted into the Indiana Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2004. Survivors include his son, Russ, who now runs Kaspar Media and WILO/WSHW, along with many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandson. Mr. Kaspar was 95.

In Indianapolis, Steve Guittari exits as operations manager at Cumulus and PD of country WFMS/95.5fm. Mr. Guittari had joined the cluster in 2015 from Townsquare Media in Albany, N.Y. No replacement has been named.

At iHeart, Brett Beshore replaces Brad Polston as Indianapolis market manager. Mr. Beshore had been working in Indianapolis as regional president for Adams+Fairway Outdoor Advertising, formerly Clear Channel outdoor. Before that, his career included top management posts at Sabre Communications in Indianapolis, Clear Channel in New York's Hudson Valley, Cumulus in Danbury, Connecticut, Times-Shamrock in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania and Greater Media in Philadelphia.

Also at iHeart, sports WNDE/1260am has cancelled the "Flagrant Foul" morning show that had been hosted by Don Stuck and Dave "Gunner" Gunn. WNDE has returned to the Fox Sports "Outkick the Coverage" national morning show; Mr. Stuck and Mr. Gunn remain with the company in their on-air roles down the hall at WFBQ/94.7fm.

Dominic James is the new station manager at WHJE (91.3fm, Carmel), where he replaces Brian Spilbeler.

On TV, Lindsey Monroe is coming home to central Indiana, joining the weather team at WTHR (Channel 13) in Indianapolis. Ms. Monroe, an alumna of Ball State University, started her career at WTHI-TV (Channel 10) in Terre Haute before joining Fox's WHBQ-TV (Channel 13) in Memphis in 2015.

New translator grants from the FCC this week: W292FM (106.3fm/Shelbyville) for WSVX/1520am, extending coverage northward from its existing 96.5fm translator at the AM site.


Midwest Broadcasting completed its format shift at 102.7fm/Terre Haute on Dec. 26, flipping WBOW from Christmas music to AC as "The Wabash Valley's Greatest Hits." The former WDWQ had been one of Midwest's two country signals, competing with recently-acquired (and format-dominant) WTHI/99.9fm. The venerable WBOW calls had been on sister station 98.5fm until it became "River" WWVR in 2017, and had then been parked on 1440am/Paris IL. (That station becomes WIBU, simulcasting Midwest's talk WIBQ/1230am in Terre Haute.)

Former WDWQ morning host Jay Cruz stays on with WBOW. Former 98.5 middayer Julie Henricks returns to WBOW and keeps her evening job as meteorologist at WTWO-TV. Dan Stone of Midwest's WNCY in Green Bay WI is tracking afternoons.


New translator grants from the FCC this week: W247CZ (97.3fm/Washington) to WAOV 1450am/Vincennes; W267CP (101.3fm/Montgomery) to WAMW 1580am/Washington, extending coverage eastward from WAMW's existing 107.9fm translator.

That's all for this issue. Thank you for your continued support.

Blaine Thompson
Indiana RadioWatch

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