CENTRAL NEW YORK — Even though 2008 had its slow times, this was a remarkably busy year for the return of CNYRadio.com. As we prepare to clink our champagne glasses and watch WRUN/WOLF alum Dick Clark ring in 2009, we’ll take a look back at the major happenings from the year that was 2008.
Even though the new CNYRadio.com didn’t launch until February, the new site was already well into its development stages when 2008 started. Even though nobody could see us yet, we were here posting stories just to make sure everything was working according to plan.
- Right after the new year, Utica-Rome’s Mix 102.5 posted an opening for a morning show host after the syndicated Wake Up with Whoopi (Goldberg) show is cancelled.
- Geneva-based public radio station WEOS announced plans for a full-power sister station Ithaca. WITH will launch on 90.1FM later in the year.
- Syracuse University’s Z89 (WJPZ) rebranded itself as “The Beat of Syracuse.”
- Watertown’s Rock 100.7 (WOTT) welcomed Lance “Lancer” Hale as its new PD.
- Clear Channel implements a hiring freeze, in an effort to hold costs as the company prepared to sell itself to a private owner.
- Galaxy declares improved ratings with its newly-acquired stations in Utica-Rome, and announces plans to fill WOUR‘s morning drive hours with a simulcast of Gomez & Dave from Syracuse’s TK99/105.
- WSYR news anchor Jason Smith moves to a similar job at WRVO.
- Nick Caplan is fired as morning host/PD at Movin 100.3/96.5.
- Former WSEN personality “Uncle” Fred Horton dies in Erie, Pa. at the age of 56.
- FCC admonishes Utica-Rome’s Roser Group for not following EEO guidelines from 2003-2005. But because the statute of limitations has passed, the FCC cannot impose a fine.
- Sunny 102 (WZUN) is granted permission to increase its signal strength.
- The annual WIBX Heart Radiothon raises $17,000 for the American Heart Association.
- Clear Channel sells its entire TV division, including Syracuse’s WSYR-TV (Channel 9) and Watertown’s WWTI (Channel 50) to Newport Television.
- Talent shuffling at Regent’s Utica-Rome cluster: WIBX news director Stacey Lynn McAdams becomes “Polly Wogg“ to co-host mornings at Big Frog 104 (WFRG)
- Syracuse’s B104.7 and Watertown’s Froggy 97 are nominated for Academy of Country Music awards, but neither station wins.
- Former WIBX and WHEN sports commentator Brent Axe returns to the airwaves at Citadel’s ESPN Radio 1260 (WNSS).
- It’s not an April Fools’ joke – Buckley says WSEN and WFBL are flipping formats. WSEN will trade in “Oldies” for “Classic Hits,” skewing more modern (mid 60s to mid 80s) while news/talker WFBL will become “Oldies 1390,” picking up the older end of WSEN’s playlist.
- As a result of WFBL abandoning news/talk, crosstown rival WSYR picks up The Savage Nation weeknights. Later in the month, WSYR would add Laura Ingraham to its Sunday lineup.
- WSYR morning man Joe Galuski celebrates 20 years at the big 570.
- Tim Huppmann, known to listeners of TK99, WSEN, WOLF and other stations as Rick Ryder, dies at 65.
- Regent Utica-Rome Ops Manager Tom Jacobsen shifts to the same job at Regent’s Albany cluster. He was known as “Bean Pole” on Big Frog 104, and now he’s “Jake Thomas” on WGNA out there.
- Skip Clark is named PD and morning co-host at Movin 100.3/96.5.
- Glenn Beck lists Syracuse as one of only 8 cities for his 2008 Summer Tour.
- Citadel brings in a new market manager — Dan Austin returns to his native hometown after working in a similar capacity for Albany Broadcasting.
- Longtime Syracuse radio veteran Barb Gibbons dies at 65.
- Mix 102.5 (WUMX) hires Sammy Schreier to handle morning drive duties.
- Dave Frisina‘s 30-year (and counting) career in Syracuse radio earns him a profile in the Syracuse New Times.
- WIBX news anchor Jeff Monaski is promoted to News Director.
- Clear Channel radio hosts the 3rd Annual Bill Leaf Memorial Kickball Tournament to raise money for a scholarship fund in Leaf’s name. Leaf, a reporter for WSYR-AM and WTVH-TV, was killed by a drunk driver in 2006.
- Lite Rock 105.9 (WLTI) announces plans to add “song tags” to backsell the title and artist of every song it airs.
- Power 106.9 (WPHR) raises $20,000 in an emergency radiothon for Syracuse’s financially-troubled Juneteenth celebration.
- B104.7 morning co-host Ron Bee undergoes major back surgery. Becky Palmer is joined by substitute co-host Tom Owens. As of the end of 2008, Owens continues to fill-in for Bee.
- A New York State Supreme Court Judge prohibits Clear Channel from staging a downtown Syracuse event described as a “tag along” to the “Taste of Syracuse,” organized by a subsidiary of Galaxy Communications.
- Many CNY stations take home trophies at the 2008 AP New York State Broadcast News awards.
- 93Q (WNTQ) morning hosts Ted & Amy guest host on NewsChannel 9′s “Bridge Street.”
- Big Frog 104 (WFRG) hosts it’s 20th annual FrogFest concert at Verona Beach State Park.
- Meantime, B104.7‘s annual concert B-JAM appears to have quietly disappeared.
- Syndicated morning host Don Imus, heard locally on WXUR, is in the spotlight again for making racial comments on the air.
- Syndicated political talk host Laura Ingraham returns to the airwaves after a months-long contract dispute with her synducator. Ingraham is carried in Utica, Watertown and Syracuse.
- Longtime Syracuse TV news reporter Mike Price, who got his start in radio, announces plans to retire after 46 years at NewsChannel 9.
- North Country Public Radio scores 5 regional Murrow Awards and one national Murrow.
- Rush Limbaugh signs a $400 Million contract to keep him on the air through 2016.
- Many local winners in the NYS Broadcasters Association Awards.
- Longtime Regent Utica-Rome production director Geoff Storm and WFRG middayer Meredith “McGreen” leave for jobs at Regent’s Albany cluster.
- Longtime Syracuse radio personality Dave Laird announces his retirement.
- CNYRadio.com gets a facelift (already), debuting the current design you see today.
- 95X (WAQX) drops Opie & Anthony from morning drive; the duo then bashes Citadel on-air and on its website.
- WHCU Assistant News Director Greg Fry leaves for a new job at WGY in Albany.
- New Watertown-market station WBLH begins stunting with a loop of obscure songs and jingles.
- Michael Savage makes headlines for on-air remarks about autism. He says he was taken out-of-context, and replays the original discussion to prove his point.
- Sean Hannity inks a 5-year deal worth $100 million.
- Dave Frisina‘s show “Soundcheck” celebrates 30 years with a concert at Syracuse’s Inner Harbor.
- Shareholders vote to approve Clear Channel‘s buyout by a private equity firm.
- An Oneida County man dies of injuries sustained at the K-Rockathon. It’s unclear how the man was initially hurt.
- WSYR drops Paul Harvey from its lineup.
- B104.7 morning co-host Ron Bee is nominated for the Disc Jockey Hall of Fame.
- Clear Channel transfers Nova 105.1(WWDG) to the “Aloha Stations Trust,” to meet FCC ownership limit requirements as CC prepares to go private.
- Utica-Rome’s Lite 98.7 (WLZW) welcomes back middayer Trudy, after a few years at Regent’s Albany cluster. Her return moves Greg McShea to the same shift at sister station Big Frog 104 (WFRG), filling a vacancy left by the departure of Meredith McGreen.
- WHCU drops Dennis Miller to add Glenn Beck.
- NASDAQ threatens to drop Regent for failing to maintain minimum pricing levels.
- Galaxy revives “Fireworks Over Central New York” after a 10-year hiatus
- K-Rock (WKRL/WKRH/WKLL) middayer and acting PD Ty leaves to become APD/MD/middayer at a Clear Channel-owned rock station in Baltimore.
- Oswego NPR affiliate WRVO adds an HD Radio subchannel and announces the retirement of longtime morning host John Hurlbutt.
- Lite Rock 105.9 morning host Dave Allen is shown the door, sparking the search for a new PD.
- WIBX (finally) adds Glenn Beck (sort of – just on weekends).
- Rich Lauber wins one of 17 Clear Channel “Performance Excellence Awards.”
- 95X (WAQX) welcomes new PD Hunter Scott; former PD Alexis retains her midday air shift.
- NYSE threatens to drop Citadel for failing to maintain minumum stock price requirements.
- K-Rock welcomes new PD “Nixon“ as Galaxy CEO Ed Levine taunts Citadel-owned rival WAQX.
- Z95-5 (WFIZ) launches as Ithaca’s very-first CHR format station in nearly 20 years with a commercial-free 10,000 song marathon.
- Syndicated overnight country jock Danny Wright loses his job in the merger between Jones Radio Networks and Dial Global.
- Don Dolloff announces his retirement after 33 years with WCNY-FM.
- Ithaca CHR War begins: Saga launches Hits 103.3 on translator W276AO (and WYXL-HD2) as a competitor to newly-launched Z95-5 (WFIZ). The new station promises 103 days of commercial-free music.
- Bobby Tutton‘s “School of Scrutiny” returns to WVOA after Tutton spent the past few years working at stations in Virginia and West Virginia.
- In a tragic turn of events, Ithaca’s Z95-5 launches its on-air talent lineup, and less than 24 hours later, morning co-host and PD Tommy Frank dies of a heart attack. Frank was only 42 years old. The station would later elevate APD Justin Wright to PD.
- WSEN afternoon driver/PD Jim Tate gets pink-slipped. Evening host John Carrucci moves to afternoons and WSEN fills 7p-Mid with the syndicated Tom Kent show.
- Galaxy’s Sunny 102 in Syracuse and Mix 102.5 in Utica begin the month by tossing out their regular playlists to go all-Christmas. Y94FM would begin with an internet-only feed of holiday tunes, holding off on making the change on-air until about three weeks later.
- Movin 100.3/96.5 brings back original morning co-host Heather Daley alongside PD Skip Clark. Former morning show staffers Jessica Rolince and Jeremy Pilot stay on in part-time capacities.
- 93Q morning show duo Ted & Amy celebrate their 20th anniversary at the Citadel CHR. A week later, WNTQ drops middayer “Big” Jim Donovan, complete with an explanation on the station website.
- In a somewhat surprising move, Y94FM moves John Tesh to afternoon drive from evenings (when the syndicated host airs in most other markets, including Utica and Ithaca).
- Ithaca College‘s student-run WICB wins a national mtvU “Woodie” Award.
- Galaxy signs a long-term deal with Eastlan Ratings Service.
- The quirky Dr. Demento Show is dropped from TK99/105 due to internet streaming issues.
- Mix 102.5 takes morning man Sammy Schreier off the air. The station is now jockless mornings, followed by middays and afternoons based in Syracuse and John Tesh evenings.
- Syracuse’s last live, local overnight jock Spidr Murfee is dropped by WSEN, along with several part-timers, as tough economic times force the station to increase its use of automation.
- Utica College‘s WPNR agrees to pay the FCC $10,000 for public file violations.
- WRUN gets FCC approval for new broadcast towers and a “city of license” change from Utica to New Hartford. Later in the month, the return of WRUN-FM.
- Sunny 102.1 (WZUN) aims to get more listeners in Oswego by simulcasting on the 106.1 translator formerly occupied by sister station TK99/105.
- Bill O’Reilly says he’s ending his radio show next year — even though it’s successful, he says he wants to spend more time concentrating on his Fox News Channel TV show.
- Lite Rock 105.9 (WLTI) assigns Brian Phillips to mornings, and “Jayne” to middays.
- Network-level layoffs at NPR impact programming lineups at WRVO and WEOS.
- Classic FM (WCNY/WUNY/WJNY) announces several lineup changes to increase the emphasis on classical music.
- The FCC upholds its approval of the 2005 sale of four Ithaca-based stations from Eagle to Saga, as well as the 2006 Citadel-to-Saga sale of a fifth station.
- Newsradio 570 WSYR terminates morning meteorologist Joe Pagano after a 34-year run, while sister station Y94FM drops local TV meteorologist Jim Teske to add his ex-co-worker Dave Eichorn.
- Paulie “the Small Guy” Szmal leaves WOUR for a new gig in Chicago; longtime night jock “Genesee Joe” slides to afternoons.