Indiana RadioWatch: March 6, 2017

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iHeart's AC/WDFM (98.1fm, Defiance, Ohio) flips format to Hot AC. The new airstaff lineup partially consists of Premium Choice DJs: Adam Gubernath in mornings, Delana in middays, Toby Knapp in afternoons, Tessa Hall at night and Maddox in overnights. Mr. Gubernath also does middays at sister Classic Hits/WNDH (103.1fm, Napoleon, Ohio).

Where Are They Now? Former WBYR/WFWI OM Darrin Arriens joins Entercom in Charlotte, North Carolina as their newly created Director of Operations.


Lake City Media/Warsaw honors Rita Price on her 75th birthday. Ms. Price has worked 58 years in radio, all at WRSW(AM) and FM in Warsaw. A member of both the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and an Indiana Broadcast Pioneer, her colleagues surprised her Friday morning:

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer proclaimed Rita's birthday as Rita Price Day

Mayor Thallemer unveiled an honorary street sign (Rita Price Way) near the radio stations studios.

Lake City Media renamed the WRSW studio "The Rita Price Showcase Studio."

Finally, on Friday night, Ms. Price called the Wawasee Boys Basketball Sectionals.


Entercom's WZPL-HD2 (99.5fm-HD2, Greenfield) flips format from oldies to Radio Disney. WZPL-HD3 remains a simulcast of sister CBS Sports/WXNT (1430am, Indianapolis).

Over the weekend, we lost former Indianapolis and former Kokomo DJ Kevin Burris at age 58. After graduating from Butler University, Mr. Burris worked in Indianapolis:

then-WIRE(AM) (1430am): Morning show producer for Doug Dahlgren and for the late Dave Koffee.

then-WIBC(AM) (1070am)/then-WKLR-FM (93.1fm): Producer for Jeff Pigeon at WIBC, and morning show producer for WKLR.

then-WENS-FM (97.1fm): Producer for Bruce Munson and Mark Patrick.

then-MyStar (WMYS 1430am/WTPI 107.9fm): PD at WMYS and APD and producer at WTPI.

Later, Mr. Burris worked on air in Kokomo at WWKI (100.5fm): afternoons, and then he reset his alarm clock and moved to mornings. Just over a decade ago, he married fellow broadcaster Karen Burris. No arrangements announced yet. Once announced, I'll print a special issue.

If you have a remembrance of Kevin, please send me an e-mail. I will print some of those e-mails in Thursday's Indiana RadioWatch.

This Week in Indiana Radio History

Sign-on dates seem to be a prickly matter, subject to great debate, and mostly impossible to confirm. If there's something we need to add to the "calendar," please let us know. Please e-mail us if you have updated information.

March 5: In 1984, 1180am in Newburgh signed on as WJJN. Today, it's airing a religious format as WGAB (with an FM translator). In 2009, Backyard Broadcasting (Anderson/Muncie) News Director Dave Stout dies. Age 63.

March 6: In 1997, 107.5fm in Evansville signs on as WABX, and remains so. In 2015, the WIOE-LP call letters move to 101.1fm, South Whitley allocation (WIOE-FM).

March 7: In 1938, WOMI in Owensboro signs on at 1500am (and moves to 1490am with the NARBA shift.). 1490am remains WOMI. In 1983, Bob and Tom debut in mornings at WFBQ in Indianapolis. In 2002, Ralph Miller, who helped start Crawfordsville's WCVL(AM) dies. Age 80. In 2015, William Greene (Greene Electronics), WAMW(AM) owner and WAMW-FM founder dies. Age 85.

March 8: In 2005, Fort Wayne's WPTA-TV and WISE-TV merge operations, as "Indiana's NewsCenter." In 2002, "Elvis and Hammer" end their highly successful morning show at Fort Wayne's WBYR "98.9 The Bear." In 2010, WETL (91.7fm, South Bend) flips format to 1970's, 1980's and 1990's music.

March 9: In 1949, WCTW-FM in New Castle was granted a CP for 102.5fm, running 4000 watts at 250 feet.

March 11: In 1949, 1370am, Bloomington signs on as WTTS ("TT" = Tom Tarzian). Today it's WGCL. In 1971, Philo T. Farsnworth dies. Age 64. In 1993, 98.7fm in Battle Ground signed on as WIIZ. Today it is WASK-FM. In 2008, 88.3fm in Muncie signs on as WKMV, and still is.

Radio Spotlight

Name: Sean Mattingly, CBNT (SBE Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist)
Job Title(s): Director of Technical Operations. Also an IBA First Informer, see here.
Station(s): WLBC 104.1 FM (HD) Muncie "Today's Best Music"
WERK 104.9 FM "The New Sound”
WMXQ 93.5 FM & 98.3 FM & 104.1 FM-HD2 "MAX-imum Classic Rock"
WBKQ 96.7 FM Blake FM plays new country
WHBU 103.7 FM & 1240 AM Anderson "Newstalk w/ Limbaugh & Hannity"
WXFN 102.9 FM & 1340 AM "Muncie’s FOX Sports"
Market(s): Blackford County, Delaware County, Madison County
Owner: Woof Boom Radio

Who were your early DJ or radio station influences? (Perhaps what lead you to "catch the radio bug.")

In 5th grade, I would take a small 9volt AM transistor radio to school. At recess, I would listen to WOWO 1190 on it with my friends. The DJ's would perform live commercials and comedy bits with sound effects. I needed to know HOW they could produce any sound effect at the push of a button.

How long have you been an engineer? How many owners have you worked for?

I started at WWHC in 1984 as my first job a few days after High School, running evening ballgames. While staying at the same Hartford City-licensed radio station, I have worked for 7 owners as the business was grown into a group of stations spanning 3 counties. In order, the owners were:

Three J Radio (The Hartford City Maddox family, primarily bankers)
Cashdollar Inc (A Muncie stockbroker, Steve Cashdollar, whom had a background in Anderson radio)
Viking Communications (Run by Bernie Kvale (deceased), a former manager of WLW)
Indiana Radio Partners (Run by Michael Schwartz and Bill Burns as their GM)
Sabre Communications (Run by Paul Rothfuss of PA)
Backyard Broadcasting (Run by Barry Drake of FL)
Woof Boom Radio (a return to local ownership under a real radio guy, J Chapman)

What has been your biggest radio career accomplishment?

I've got to tip my hat to former radio consultant Pete Salant whom in 1999 advised Indiana Radio Partners that I was the right man to build a 5-station studio complex for IRP in a hurry. Another kudos to IRP owner Michael Schwartz whom saw value in sending me to Harris transmitter school in Quincy, Illinois. Another bright spot was in 2016 when I made WLBC 104.1 an HD station, learning how to wire it up and set it up.

If you had such a thing as a "typical day," please tell us about yours?

I'm on pager duty 24 hours a day with 7 automatic devices that can call me at anytime for about 100 good reasons. Since our stations still operate live formats, there are staff members to respond to and help with computer and studio maintenance needs. My typical day starts by early surprise if I get a page, or by plan if they see me at 11am. I handle the EAS recordkeeping, the transmitter site maintenance, Traffic dept remotely-accessible machines, sales PC's, automated audio download systems at 2 studio buildings. Just for practice and a creative outlet, I still do a Sunday morning airshift on our Classic Rock station that airs on 93.5 & 98.3 & 104.1 HD2 as DJ Sean Spence.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like the variety of tasks that present themselves in a group that runs 11 studios across 3 studio buildings. Some days it's purchasing and construction work in the studios, field repair work at 6 transmitter sites. I study new technology when I'm at home. I watch about 10 hours of YouTube tutorials a week on tech subjects from PC repair, network troubleshooting, computer security, RF fundamentals.

What's your biggest pet peeve in radio?

Stations doing local service and not getting enough credit in the listener's minds. Many local residents cannot even name the call letters of their local radio stations. They need to be reminded where to tune in, whether that reminder is in the form of billboards, painted signs on the state road entrances to town, or a neat little ad in the local high school graduation program. With consolidation nation-wide, local stations stopped advertising locally against their crosstown rivals. Stations lost traction in the minds of the locals just when the audience was leaning toward heavy use of personal entertainment devices that do not contain FM radios. We need to externally proclaim to the listeners "We're still here! Still doing a good job for you!"

Why do you think radio is still important?

The stations that still carry local weather, local news, traffic, and broadcast live at community events will continue to be important. The stations that can muster enough creative energy to PROMOTE that they still carry it will be most important in people's minds. The fully-automated stations that can't make a connection to their target listener's lifestyle need to fade away.

Where do you see the radio industry five years from now?

I can't say for sure, but watch the store shelves at your big box stores. Are you seeing more AM/FM radios there for purchase? Or less? Of course, the answer is "less". Radio will remain relevant if they can do two things. (1) keep giving listeners relevant local information (2) give it to people in platforms they desire to access, mainly combinations of live and recorded audio and video on their cellphones and tablets. The biggest future technical accomplishment will be when a listener can easily "DVR" their favorite morning show for playback on any device they choose, at any time of day - in the car.

What's the best advice you'd give to those wanting to get into radio?

Learn to do multiple jobs at the radio stations. Be the jock that understands the Program Director's duties. Be the Program Director that understands how the GM makes budgets. Be the GM that understands how to grow a group. Be the Engineer that understands how all the departments work so you can give the Group Owner what he wants. And be the guy that communicates how much he cares about the success of the team. Be the guy that stays late.

What's unique in your office?

I have a scale diecast 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge muscle car in orange. It reminds me of the real 1968 GTO that I take to car shows. It's my low-tech ride for days off. There are no computers in it, just the sound of the Flowmaster dual exhaust rumbling through the cornfields of Indiana. On summer weekends, I seek out every one of Indiana's few remaining drive-in movie theaters. I like to talk with the random patrons under the stars. At a drive-in, one of our early forms of social media still exists. After all, they now play the movie sound from FM radios.

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

Blaine Thompson
Indiana RadioWatch

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