Indiana RadioWatch: March 13, 2005

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First, a correction from last week's issue: The Broadcasting for the Challenged dismissals were for their applications for Construction Permits. Thanks to an alert IRW reader for pointing out our oversight.

Now, onto the news...


A historic change on the Fort Wayne television landscape as the sale of ABC affiliate WPTA-TV (Channel 21, Fort Wayne) and NBC affiliate WISE-TV (Channel 33, Fort Wayne) was completed on Tuesday 8 March. A recap: Granite sells WPTA-TV for $45.9 million to Malara Broadcasting while New Vision sells WISE-TV for $44.2 million to Granite. Granite will enter an SSA (Shared Services Agreement), operating WISE-TV and retains the operation of some aspects (for instance, sales) of WPTA-TV. By the end of Tuesday, many changes were apparent to viewers, with more changes appearing as the week rolled along. Here's a summary:

* WISE-TV GM John Dawson exits

* 57 employees at WISE-TV were let go, mostly from news and the technical side. Amongst them: Weatherman Greg Shoup, evening co-anchor Jake Miller, and Sports Director Kent Hormann. Lead evening anchor Linda Jackson remains with the combined operation, as the primary "face" of WISE-33.

* The station websites are now combined, with redirecting to

* WPTA's morning news (5am - 7am) is now simulcast on WISE-TV.

* WISE eliminated a noon-time news broadcast years ago, and that remains true. WPTA-TV still airs news at Noon.

* WISE and WPTA stagger their night time newscasts:

5:00pm - 21-Alive News at 5pm (WISE has syndicated programming)
5:30PM - 21-Alive News on WISE-33 (anchored by Linda Jackson, from the 21-Alive News set) (WPTA has syndicated programming)
6:00PM - 21 Alive News at 6pm (WISE has syndicated programming)
6:30PM - World News Tonight (21) and 21 Alive News on WISE-33 (Jackson)
7:00PM - Syndicated programming on WPTA-TV, while WISE airs the delayed NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
11:00PM - 21 Alive News at 11pm and WISE airs "21 Alive News Express on WISE-33," a Linda Jackson-anchored 7 minute news update, followed by syndicated programming, timed to hit "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

* As of this evening, WISE-TV continues to run promos that say "Where News Comes First," while WPTA has a aural ID that says "A Granite Broadcasting station."

Weekend news programming is non-existent, except for a few "News Express" short updates by 21-Alive weekend anchors and more syndicated programming to fill the time.

What does the Fort Wayne viewership think? Examining several Letters to the Editor at both daily newspapers reveals much emotion and some anger. Many newspaper readers wrote to proclaim they now only watch local news from competitor LIN-owned CBS affiliate WANE-TV (Channel 15, Fort Wayne).

Several radio stations and both Fort Wayne newspapers covered the story. The Journal-Gazette was second to reporting the story. That piqued our curiosity, as the newspaper has a working relationship with WPTA-TV, often sharing stories and WPTA advertises one morning "sneak peak" Journal-Gazette headline in its 11pm newscast.

Many questions from our readers this week:

* Is this the end of news changes?

* Will WPTA and WISE combine operations in one of their two buildings?

* Will all newscasts eventually originate from the newer WISE-TV news set? (Former WISE-TV GM John Dawson purchased it off eBay from KCBS-TV-KCAL-TV [Los Angeles] for $26,500 in December, 2002)

* Will WANE-TV hire any of the former WISE-TV staffers?

Summit City Radio's Alternative/WXTW (102.3fm, Auburn) APD/Promotions Director Matt Jericho exits after six and a half years - one of the longest tenures of anyone who didn't own those radio stations on Lower Huntington Road.


At 6:00PM tonight, Susquehanna's Oldies/WGLD (104.5fm, Indianapolis) flipped formats to the highly eclectic "Jack-FM." Former "Gold 104.5" PD Steve Cannon stays on as PD of Jack and tells IRW: "Gold 104.5 was not hurting at all. This new format is a way to expand the audience." The station is jockless for now and there's no word on any of the former Gold 104.5 DJ's. The last song on Gold 104.5 was The Drifters - This Magic Moment and the first song on Jack-FM was U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name. Finally, IRW heard the 8pm hour:

Devo - Whip It
Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon
Lenny Kravitz - It Ain't Over 'til It's Over
Joan Jett and The Blackhearts I Hate Myself for Loving You
Little River Band - Reminiscing
Aerosmith - Rag Doll
Sugar Ray - When It's Over
Styx - Babe
Kenny Loggins - Footloose
Tom Petty - You Don't Know How It Feels
Berlin - Take My Breath Away
David Bowie - Modern Love
Smashing Pumpkins - 1979
Michael Jackson - Beat It
Pat Benatar - Shadows of the Night

The FCC recently renewed six of the eight noncommercial FM licenses. Those licenses were renewed over the shared-time petitions of Hoosier Public Radio Corp. The remaining two applications are pending. The six renewed were WEEM-FM (91.7fm, Pendleton), WHJE (91.3fm, Carmel), WBDG (90.9fm, Indianapolis), WRFT (91.5fm, Indianapolis), WATI (89.9fm, Vincennes), and WKPB (89.5fm, Henderson, Kentucky). The two pending renewal applications are for WJEL (89.3fm, Indianapolis) and WFCI (89.5fm, Franklin). Commenting on his stations' renewal, WEEM GM Jeff Dupont told IRW "I see the FCC's decision as a victory for the children in the school system. WEEM-FM exists primarily as a learning environment for the students and our license renewal preserves that environment." In an e-mail to IRW, Hoosier Public Radio Corp. director Martin Hensley asserts that "None of the applications can be valid." and elaborates by saying "The Commission has specific Rules about who can sign an application [...] the Pres Vice Pres or Secretary [must] sign the application or contract. [...] In the instances of each application, either an independent contractor (engineer), teacher, or school official signed the app."

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.