Indiana RadioWatch: January 15, 2005

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Two announcements:

1. Thank you for your comments on the 2004 Year-End issue and the notes of congratulations on our new domain name. We enjoyed putting the year-end issue together. The domain name should make both resources we maintain easier to access.

2. Are you an Indy radio veteran? "Radio's Best Friend" Art Vuolo is looking for someone who might have some 1960's vintage airchecks of WIFE. Contact us and we'll put you in touch with Mr. Vuolo.

Now, onto the news, and there's plenty of that.


Another hurdle cleared, as the Federal Communications Commission approves the somewhat complicated transaction involving Fort Wayne local television stations: Granite Broadcasting's WPTA-TV (Channel 21, Fort Wayne [ABC]) and New Vision Television's WISE-TV (Channel 33, Fort Wayne [NBC]). The transaction has Granite selling WPTA-TV to Malara Broadcasting while New Vision sells WISE-TV to Granite. Granite is selling WPTA-TV for $45.9 million while they will purchase WISE-TV for $44.2 million. Granite will enter an SSA (Shared Services Agreement), operating WISE-TV and retaining the operation of some aspects (for instance, sales) of WPTA-TV. IRW readers have asked us questions: What does viewership have to do with this? (The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette's Sylvia A. Smith reports that the two stations have a combined viewership of 58 percent.) How do WISE and WPTA implement a Shared Services Agreement? What becomes of each stations'news operation? (IRW read that WISE-TV isn't filling a vacant News Director opening) What about staffing? (The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel's Doug LeDuc reports that WPTA employs 70-80, and WISE employs 60-70.) Is this a last ditch effort to save Granite Broadcasting (which closed Friday at 41 cents a share.) Even though our primary focus isn't television, we'll keep an eye on this one.

Ron Gregory, veteran Fort Wayne broadcaster (most notably at WOWO), joins Soft AC/WBZQ (1300am, Huntington) and Hot AC/WLZQ (101.1fm, South Whitley) in mornings. A reminder that the stations simulcast in mornings, but deviate to their respective formats at 9am each morning.

Before we leave those fine stations, we'll note that WBZQ has a new URL:

A victim of the ice storm of two weeks ago was Wells County Radio's AC/WADM (1540am, Decatur). PD Rob Caylor tells IRW that transmitter parts should be on hand by the end of this week.

Marti Taylor adds MD duties at Hot AC/WAJI (95.1fm, Fort Wayne).

J.J. Fabini, OM at Alternative/WXTW (102.3fm, Auburn), Classic Rocker/WCKZ (94.1fm, Roanoke), and Sports/WGL (1250am, Fort Wayne) is promoted to Assistant Director of Programming for all six Summit City Radio Group stations. He'll add oversight of Rhythmic CHR/WNHT (96.3fm, Churubusco), Hot AC/WYLT (103.9fm, Fort Wayne) and Standards/WXKE (102.9fm, Huntington) to his plate. Fabini will assist Director of Programming Bill Hunter.

Where are they now? Victor Locke, former radio newsperson (but more recently Morning Anchor/Assistant News Director) at Granite's WPTA-TV (Channel 21, Fort Wayne [ABC]) is now a news anchor/producer/reporter at NPR affiliate KSUT in Durango, Colorado.


LeSea Broadcasting, owners of Religious/WHPZ (96.9fm, Bremen) have purchased WDOW-AM + FM (1440am, 92.1fm, both Dowagiac, Michigan) and are simulcasting WHPZ's programming on WDOW-FM.

Carrie McCaffery was recently named National Sales Manager for Artistic Media Properties in northern Indiana (South Bend: WNDV/WZOW/WHLY/WDND and Fort Wayne properties WBTU/WDDB.) She rises from a 20+ year career in sales for WNDV-AM/FM (1490am/92.9fm, both South Bend.)


Radio One Communications' Standards/WAKE (1500am, Valparaiso) has received FCC approval for 24 hour operation. WAKE had historically been a daytimer, receiving pre-sunrise/post-sunset authority only within the last few years. In a press release to IRW, WAKE President/GM Leigh Ellis said: "Having a 24-hour operating schedule for WAKE is a huge step forward for our company. The full-time signal and [WAKE] being on the AM dial will give our company more options for expanded local broadcast coverage. This sort of came as a surprise - even though we had been working on it for over 40 years now."

Newsweb's Talk/WNDZ (750am, Portage) applies to the FCC to add a third tower, increase to 15kW - daytime (and critical hours). Note that this is a separate application from its city of license change filing last year (WNDZ wants to move city of license to Calumet City, Illinois.)

Dan Somers takes middays at Oldies/WASK (98.7fm, Battle Ground).


With all the recent weather challenges (ice storm, snow, flooding...), many radio stations in the Marion/Anderson/Muncie corridor were affected. Among them were the Ball State University stations of Indiana Public Radio (WBST/WBSB/WBSW/WBSJ/WBSH). During IRW's trip last week, we heard WBSW (90.9fm, Marion) on the air with an open carrier. IPR GM Anthony Hunt explained to IRW that IPR's main station, WBST (92.1fm, Muncie) is housed on Ball State's campus and WBST lost power when the university lost power (Wednesday 5 January at Noon). A temporary fix for WBST was found Thursday night (9pm) when Hunt journeyed to the WBST transmitter site (which had power) and started to play music and relay information on the storm and its effects. However, the university had no power, so WBST had no way to relay its programming to WBSW and WBSJ (91.7fm, Portland). The other two stations in the IPR network (WBSB 89.5fm, Anderson and WBSH 91.1fm, Hagerstown) had power, but no programming through WBST's time off the air. Hunt reports that all is back to normal and IPR even had a news reporter in Marion today, covering the worst flooding that city has seen in over ninety years.

Lora Armstrong takes middays at simulcast Oldies/WERK + WURK (104.9fm, Muncie; 101.7fm, Elwood) and afternoons (call her "MacKenzie Lee" there) at sister Classic Rock simulcast WHTI + WHTY (96.7fm, Alexandria; 93.5fm, Hartford City). This is her second stint in the area, having previously done nights at WHTI/WHTY when it was "Hit Radio" in 1999-2000.


"Billy" of the morning duo "Billy and Marco," heard on Emmis' CHR/WNOU (93.1fm, Indianapolis) exits. In June, 2004, the morning duo joined "Radio Now" from WQZQ in Nashville, Tennessee. (Keep reading...but see "Employment Opportunities" below if this job interests you.)

Details have emerged as to possible circumstances involving Billy Breeze's departure from mornings at Emmis' CHR/WNOU (93.1fm, Indianapolis). Vic Ryckaert's article in The Indianapolis Star states that an 18 year old woman has sued Emmis Communications and Billy Breeze (real name: Dennis Grubbs). The suit claims that Breeze aired her telephone number and encouraged listeners to harass her. The woman claims she received numerous phone calls and death threats. The lawsuit is for an unspecified dollar amount as compensation for pain and suffering.

Franklin College's Alternative/WFCI (89.5fm, Franklin) recently signed an agreement with Indianapolis NPR affiliate WFYI-FM (90.1fm) that allows WFCI to carry WFYI's signal on its station, thereby enhancing WFYI's reach into Johnson County. Jon Murray's article in The Indianapolis Star points out an interesting point to this deal: The deal is a start at thwarting broadcaster Marty Hensley's attempt to force several Indianapolis (and suburban) non- commercial stations to share time with him for part of the day. Murray's article states that the "FCC minimum to avert time-sharing is 12 hours." John Krull, the Director of the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism says the WFCI-WFYI deal will provide "at least that much programming."

Pilgrim Communications will sell Sports/WXLW (950am, Indianapolis) to Jonathan and David Byrd's Raven Broadcasting, Inc. No purchase price or other information was offered from our source: a story in the online edition of The Indianapolis Star.

Robert Feder reports in his Chicago Sun-Times column that Khrishna Henderson is leaving Clear Channel's WGCI-FM (107.5fm) for middays at Radio One's Urban AC/WTLC-FM (106.7fm, Greenwood). Henderson replaces Garth Adams, who exits for middays at sister WFUN in St. Louis.

WEEM (91.7fm, Pendleton) segues from oldies to 1980's AAA under station manager Jeff Dupont. WEEM also debuts 24 hour operation as of last month, using a Prophet Systems "NexGen101."

Chris Burnham, Promotions Director for the Emmis Communications stations in Indianapolis, exits. (See "Employment Opportunities" below if this job interests you.)

The Creative Services team at Susquehanna Indianapolis captured the Communicator Award's "Award of Excellence" 1st Place for their Radio Show Reel in the IBA's international competition. The "Show Reel" is the demo CD they give to clients to judge for themselves what Susquehanna's Creative Services department is capable of doing for their advertising campaign. IRW congratulates to thee whole team: Johnny George (Creative Services Director), Bob Simpson (Commercial Production Director), Buzz Craven (Assistant Commercial Production Director) and former Assistant Production Director Steve O'Brien (who has moved over to afternoon drive on Contemporary Christian/WISG (93.9, Fishers).

Where are they now? Former Sports/WNDE (1260am, Indianapolis) morning man Mark Patrick will start hosting a show on XM Satellite Radio (Major League Baseball channel) on 1 February.


Aaron Green is new to nights at CHR/WMGI (100.7fm, Terre Haute) . A few years ago, he did part time work for them, and is remembered for his tenure as MD/APD/nights at the former Rock/WZZQ (107.5fm, Terre Haute).


Regent Communications' Country/WYNG (94.9fm, Mount Carmel, Illinois) switches to sports, as "ESPN 94" on 1 November. An e-mail to IRW from a Regent official states Regent felt WYNG's marginal city grade signal necessitated the station becoming more of a niche format - not one of three Regent country-formatted stations in Evansville. (The other two? WBKR and WKDQ).

Country/WNUF (102.5fm, Mitchell) stunted with New Year's music from Friday 31 December through noon on Sunday 2 January. According to PD Mike Shannon, "New Year's" music includes versions of Auld Lang Syne, Abba's "Happy New Year," etc. After twelve years as a country station, at noon on 2 January (1/02/[0]5...get it?), WNUF switched formats to Oldies, as "Super Oldies 102.5" and the call letters are now WQRJ. The station drops Jones' "US Country" format and now uses ABC's "Oldies Radio." Also, in mornings, the new WQRJ will simulcast sister Ad-Venture Media station Oldies/WQRK (105.5, Bedford) - "Shannon in the Morning and Deb." PD Mike Shannon remains in that chair for both stations. One final change: WQRJ drops NASCAR coverage.

AllAccess reports that Regent Communications VP/GM Mark Thomas exits Regent's Flint, Michigan cluster for the Regent stations in Evansville (WDKS/WGBF-AM + FM/WJLT/WKDQ/WYNG). Thomas replaces Bob Dakin. Dakin heads to Biloxi, Mississippi as Station Manager at the Triad Broadcasting stations.

A quick glance over at the television (erm..."radio with pictures," right?) news shows that Bill Cummings was recently named News Director at Liberty's WFIE-TV (Channel 14, Evansville [NBC]).

Employment Opportunities

Emmis Top 40 WNOU (Radio Now 93.1)/Indianapolis PD Chris Edge needs an amazing morning co-host to team with Marco. Mail your package to him at WNOU, 40 Monument Circle, Suite 600, Indianapolis, IN 46204, or e-mail your material to him at cedge at wnou dot emmis dot com

Emmis Communications Indianapolis is looking for a promotions director. If you're interested, e-mail your resume and something dazzling to Emmis/Indianapolis VP Marketing Jo Robinson at jorobinson at wnou dot emmis dot com

That's it for this issue. See you in a week!

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All pages Copyright Blaine Thompson. Articles, photos, corrections, and other contributions should be e-mailed to the editors.