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Year in Review 2012: Local Broadcasting’s Arrivals and Departures

Year in Review 2012: Local Broadcasting’s Arrivals and Departures

CENTRAL NEW YORK — Here we are, wrapping another year documenting the happenings of local radio and television in Syracuse, Utica and Ithaca.  Sometimes you don’t realize just how much has changed in local broadcasting until you stop to take a look back at the past twelve months.  Today, we begin our annual Year in Review series with a recap of the many “comings and goings” we’ve reported over the past year.

January

Arrivals

  • News/Talk 106.9 and 570 WSYR revealed Bob Lonsberry as its pick to host afternoon drive.  The Rochester-based host’s timeslot would expand from two hours to three by month’s end.
  • Rob Cartwright takes over as News Director at NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV), allowing Roger Mirabito to return to his Assistant ND role.
  • WUTQ announces the debut of “Superior 95.5,” a weekly hour-long program hosted by Adolfo Cova, aimed at Utica’s Spanish-speaking population.
  • Former 93Q (WNTQ) night jock Brandon C, who exited the then-Citadel station late in 2011, resurfaced several clicks up the dial at locally-owned MOViN’ 100.3/96.5 (WMVN).
  • Good news for New York Mets fans, as ESPN Radio CNY (WSGO/WTLA) announces it’ll be carrying the baseball club’s games for the upcoming season.
  • K-Rock (WKRL/WKRH/WKLL) welcomes Dex Mitchell aboard to host mornings, while interim wake-up man Ryno moves to nights at sister station TK99/105 (WTKV/WTKW).
  • The debut of 105.9 The Rebel and its hiring of Dave Frisina for afternoons were among January's top stories.
    The debut of 105.9 The Rebel and its hiring of Dave Frisina for afternoons were among January’s top stories.

    Dave Frisina signs with Cumulus Media‘s recently-launched 105.9 The Rebel (WXTL) to host afternoon drive during the week, and to continue Soundcheck, his long-running Sunday night spotlight on locally-produced music.

Departures

Simultaneous Arrival and Departure

  • When people in Syracuse talk about “Upstate,” they’re usually talking about the hospital.  But for a short time earlier this year, the term Upstate was better-known as the title of a sitcom that was being shot on-location in Syracuse.  Former NewsChannel 9 GM Steve Kimatian served as Executive Producer, and the script was written by experienced sitcom writer Tom Seeley of Cazenovia.  After the pilot aired on WSYR-TV, Seeley and Kimatian said they intended to pitch the show to network executives… but nearly a year, we haven’t heard anything else about it.

CNY Radio and TV News Alumni on the Move

February

Arrivals

  • news-12-1229-reviewrundownWCNY-TV names not one, but two new hosts for its Financial Fitness program: frequent guest host Jim Burns and panelist Vicki Brackens will take turns co-hosting.
  • WCNY-TV also announces plans to debut a new local talk show called Insight, to be hosted by Syracuse Woman Magazine editor Farah Jadran, with contributions from Susan Arbetter.
  • Morning TV news co-anchor Megan Koskovich announces she’s leaving WKTV for a new job as a producer for Baltimore ABC affiliate WMAR.
  • After a hiatus that started in late 2011, the Irish Power Hour returns to local radio.  Formerly heard on 95X (WAQX), hosts Sean Johnston and Cabrina Gilbert move to TK99/TK105 (WTKW/WTKV), and expand their reach into the Mohawk Valley with a simulcast on sister station 96.9 WOUR in Utica.

Departures

  • Approximately one-hundred pounds of 93Q (WNTQ) morning co-host Ted Long have disappeared as a result of gastric bypass surgery the previous fall; Long appeared live on CBS 5 (WTVH) to talk about his weight loss with anchor Michael Benny.

March

Arrivals

Departures

April

Arrivals

  • Almost six months after his sudden dismissal from WSYR radio, Jim Reith returns to the local spotlight by way of WCNY.  The public broadcaster announces a daily TV show titled Reith will debut in May, along with word of a radio show in the fall — but you’ll need an HD Radio, since it’ll be on the WCNY-HD3 subchannel.
  • Oswego-based WRVO Public Media announces its appointment of Catherine J. Loper to the post of Director of News and Public Affairs.
  • Local pro-golfer Perry Noun begins another season of talking golf on Saturday mornings, but on a new station.  Tee Time with the Pronoun moves to Love Radio 103.9 (WVOA-FM).
  • Weekday afternoon New York Yankees baseball games returned to Syracuse radio, after a year off.  For the 2011 season, WSYR-AM/FM passed on all weekday games that conflicted with Rush Limbaugh‘s early afternoon timeslot, as a result of Limbaugh’s iron-clad affiliation contract. For 2012, Clear Channel cleared the weekday afternoon games on urban AC station Power 620 (WHEN), which used to be the backup choice for Yankees games in 2010 and prior seasons, when WHEN was SportsRadio 620.
  • WCNY-TV‘s annual “Great Television Auction” fundraiser, or, as it’s more commonly known, TelAuc, returns to April, after the station moved the multi-night televised auction to June the prior year.
  • WCNY-TV gets another back-to-back set of mentions, with the arrival of former Elmira Mayor John S. Tonello as VP of Advancement, Communications and Content Delivery.
  • WSTM invited former local TV news personalities to fill in while morning anchor Megan Coleman was out on maternity leave this spring.
    WSTM invited local TV news alumni to fill in while morning anchor Megan Coleman was out on maternity leave this spring.

    There’s a new Morning Newswatch host at Ithaca’s WHCU 870 and 95.9… he’s Lee Rayburn, formerly of KNWZ in Palm Springs, California.

  • New Country WOLF 105.1 promotes Taylor Smith from promotions director to midday on-air personality, and the station launches a newly-redesigned website.
  • Former NBC3 (WSTM-TV) morning co-anchor Anthony Adornato temporarily returns to his old job, filling-in for the first couple weeks of Megan Coleman‘s maternity leave.  Her second child, a boy named Harry, was born on April 28.

Departures

  • The Weather Channel stops providing voiced forecasts to radio stations, forcing Townsquare Media‘s Utica-Rome cluster to find a replacement.  News/talker WIBX 950 keeps former TWC meteorologist Jennifer Naramore on its airwaves by signing with her new syndicator, “The Storm Report.”
  • Radio ratings provider Arbitron ends its long-standing “embargo” policy, in which absolutely no ratings data would be released to the general public in select markets.  For quite a few years, Syracuse and Utica-Rome were embargoed, meaning you had to be a subscriber to see the ratings.  The new policy isn’t quite a return to “the old days,” however, as Arbitron’s public ratings only include stations that subscribe to the full book.
  • New Country WOLF 105.1 midday host Chili Palmer exits for a new job, while across the hall, MOViN’ 100.3/96.5 afternoon host Brandon C is promoted to webmaster for the two stations.
  • Goodbye to the WADR call letters that had long been registered to 1480AM in Remsen.  Roser Communications Network is using the AM station to bar others from picking up the market’s heritage WRCK call letters, after changing 100.7 to WUTQ-FM.  The FCC’s latest list of call sign changes also shows 1450AM in Rome is ditching its identity as WRUY to bring back WKAL, the station’s original call sign from 1946.
  • Syracuse Crunch team broadcaster Jason Lockhart leaves to take a similar job with the ECHL’s San Francisco Bulls.  Lockhart had called Crunch games on The Score 1260 (WSKO) and the Time Warner Cable Sports Channel.

May

Arrivals

Departures

June

Arrivals

  • news-12-1229-reviewrundownLocal radio and TV newsrooms welcomed the arrival of Associated Press awards; within our coverage area, WRVO was the big winner among radio stations, and WKTV took home more TV awards than anyone else.
  • Jerry Kraus, aka “The Doctor,” is back on Utica radio, with a Sunday morning show on 92.7 The Drive (WXUR).  (Update: His show, “The Time Warp,” is now called “The Recovery Room.”)  Kraus previously hosted afternoons at 96.9 WOUR for thirty years, until 2007 when Clear Channel sold the station to Galaxy, resulting in nearly all on-air talent being dismissed.
  • After several years without radio coverage in Ithaca, the NFL‘s Buffalo Bills will be returning via Progressive Talk 1470 WNYY.
  • And the following week, we’d learn the Buffalo Bills are arriving at new locations on radio dials elsewhere: Galaxy Communications will air games on TK99/105 in Syracuse, and on 96.9 WOUR in Utica.
  • The Syracuse Crunch announce Dan D’Uva will be arriving in time to handle play-by-play for the AHL club’s broadcasts on The Score 1260 (WSKO) and Time Warner Cable Sports.
  • New arrivals at CNY Central include reporter Tom Eschen and reporter/anchor Katie Corrado.
  • Power 620 (WHEN) adds more locally-focused talk with the addition of Saundra Smokes for an hour-long program each Saturday.

Departures

  • After 12 years with WRVO, program director Fred Vigeant leaves for a similar position at WITF radio and television in Harrisburg, PA.  Vigeant told CNYRadio.com he originally enrolled at SUNY Oswego with plans to become a high school science teacher, but “fell in love with radio” through his involvement with WRVO and student-run WNYO.
  • CNYRadio.com editor Peter Naughton leaves Lite 98.7 (WLZW) after nearly three years on the station’s weekend DJ roster.  Naughton originally worked for WLZW from 1999-2005.
  • After many years during the 7pm “access” hour on WTVH, staples Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are leaving the CBS affiliate for the same timeslots on Fox 68 (WSYT).

July

Arrivals

  • Even though it’s been around for a decade, you could say non-profit Ithaca Community Radio finally “arrived” this year by launching its own programming, after years of simulcasting the signals of other non-commercial stations from Geneva and Binghamton.  ICR consists of WINO 89.9 Odessa, WRFI 91.1 Watkins Glen and 88.1 FM translator W201CD Lansing.
  • Utica’s Big Frog 104 (WFRG) adds the syndicated Taste of Country Nights, bumping Lia at Night to overnights.  ToC started out as the name of a national country music news website launched by WFRG parent Townsquare Media.
  • A surprise arrival at WIBX 950, when actor Stephen Baldwin showed up one Saturday evening to “borrow” a studio to host his syndicated talk show.  Baldwin had been in town for a scheduled appearance earlier in the day.
  • Tom Herbert rejoins WRVO Public Media‘s underwriting team, after spending nearly three years in a similar role with the Christian-focused Mars Hill Radio Network (WMHR).
  • He’s been at NewsChannel 2 since 2002, but new business cards arrived for Steve McMurray, as he is promoted to Station Manager, adding to his existing duties as anchor and News Director.
  • Good Guys Broadcasting Corporation is founded by former WKTV executives Tom Coyne and Frank Abbadessa, who launch sports-formatted 95.5 WUSP on FM translator W238CA, the former 1550 WUTQ-AM (which became WUSP) and 1480 WRCK.  The selling price listed in FCC records: $350,000.
  • Longtime Utica-Rome radio personality Linda Rae, formerly of 97.9/105.5 Kiss-FM and Mix 102.5 (until Clear Channel exited the market in 2007), returns to DJ duty on weekends at 100.7 WUTQ-FM.

Departures

August

Arrivals

  • WRVO Public Media‘s lineup of news and talk programming expands northward, with the sign-on of WRVH 89.3 in Clayton, covering areas along the St. Lawrence River beyond the reach of Watertown-based WRVJ.
  • The day after her replacement exits (see the departure section below), former Clear Channel Rochester GM Karen Carey returns to radio as GM of Townsquare Media‘s Utica-Rome cluster.
  • WQNY's Chris Allinger walked to every town in Tompkins County in August, raising $16,000 for charity.
    WQNY’s Chris Allinger walked to every town in Tompkins County in August, raising $16,000 for charity.

    Q-Country 103.7 (WQNY) morning man and PD Chris Allinger arrives back in Ithaca, following a week-long walk to every single town in Tompkins County.  Along the way, Allinger collected nearly $16,000 in donations for a program aimed at helping underfed children in the county.

Departures

  • A head-scratcher in Utica, as Townsquare Media sends GM Mary Jo Beach packing, a month shy of her 20th anniversary with the four-station cluster that includes perennial ratings leaders Big Frog 104 and Lite 98.7.
  • NewsChannel 9 morning traffic reporter and Bridge Street co-host Kaylea Nixon is leaving town because her husband is taking a new job in Chicago — but she’ll continue to visit Syracuse occasionally, to tape TV spots for a local car dealership, something she has been doing since before joining the ABC affiliate.  Taking her place is Caroline Gable, formerly of Utica’s WUTR and WFXV, and before those, WKTV.
  • For the second time in two years, Pat Bailey is leaving Utica’s WKTV — this time, to join the news team at Albany CBS affiliate WRGB.
  • Notable national news: the ABC television network announces Nightline will be leaving the 11:35pm timeslot it has held since the late 70s, to make way for Jimmy Kimmel Live, despite the news program’s ratings dominance in the timeslot.  Staffers expressed concern that viewers won’t sit through Kimmel (who presently airs at midnight) to catch Nightline at 12:30am, but one report claims Kimmel “demanded 11:35 or said he would walk” during contract renewal talks.
  • Just a little over a week after NBC3 (WSTM) announced longtime primary co-anchor Jackie Robinson would be  inducted to the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame later in the year, her notable absence from the station’s traditional live-on-location coverage of the New York State Fair is followed by word that Robinson will be retiring after spending 34 years — her entire career — at WSTM.

CNY Radio and TV News Alumni on the Move

September

Arrivals

  • Upon her return from maternity leave, Megan Coleman is named evening co-anchor for NBC 3, filling the vacancy left by the retiring Jackie Robinson.  Coleman is also named “News Content Manager” for CNY Central, which includes NBC 3, CBS 5 and CW 6.
  • The ESPN Radio Utica-Rome trio of AM stations (WTLA/WRNY/WIXT) expands to the FM dial, adding 91.1FM (translator W256AJ) to the bunch.  Galaxy Communications spent $40,000 to buy the new signal earlier in the year, and spent the summer simulcasting 96.9 WOUR until it could complete a transmitter move from downtown Utica to Smith Hill.
  • Syracuse’s NBC 3 announces Today in Central New York will expand to begin at 4:00am, citing a growing demand for early morning local news.  As a trade-off, the station cancels its News @ Noon newscast, which had been simulcast on CNY Central partner station CBS 5, giving ABC affiliate NewsChannel 9 the distinction as having the only broadcast TV noon newscast in Syracuse.
  • Longtime Utica broadcast personality Bill Keeler returns to the airwaves as the host of Plate Night, a weekly TV show that takes viewers inside the kitchens of popular local restaurants.
  • Many present and former NewsChannel 9 personalities and journalists gathered at Onondaga Community College for the station’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.  The event was videotaped and edited down to a two-hour special which was broadcast in October.

Departures

  • Staffers gather around WSTM anchor Jackie Robinson during her final broadcast in September.
    Staffers gather around WSTM anchor Jackie Robinson during her final broadcast in September.

    Jackie Robinson anchors her final newscast at NBC3, retiring after 34 years with the station.

  • Sinclair Broadcast Group pulls music video network “The Cool TV off of Syracuse’s WNYS-TV digital subchannel 43.2, and from 30 other stations across the country.
  • Keith Kobland leaves NewsChannel 9 to take a new job with Syracuse University.  Prior to joining NewsChannel 9, Kobland worked for more than 20 years at WTVH.  Although his exit from TV means no more morning newscasts for Sunny 102.1 (WZUN), he continues to host weekend shifts as a DJ for the classic hits station.
  • CNY Central reporter and anchor Jessica Cain leaves Syracuse to move to the Midwest.  Cain got her start in TV news as a producer at NewsChannel 9, and moved into reporting and anchoring at Watertown’s WWNY-TV before coming back to Syracuse.
  • Dennis Crawford says he has been removed from the weekend roster at 93Q (WNTQ), where his Sunday afternoon shifts will run jockless.
  • Mimi Griswold announces she’s retiring from her post as VP of Programming for Syracuse-based Galaxy Communications at the end of the year.  Griswold started with the company in 1992.  She’ll continue to consult on programming, and she’ll keep hosting the Blue Moon Cafe on Sunday mornings for TK99/105 in Syracuse, and 96.9 WOUR in Utica.
  • Syndicated radio talk show host Michael Savage suddenly disappears from News/Talk 106.9 and 570 WSYR (and all of his other affiliates nationwide), after winning a lawsuit against his former syndicator, Talk Radio Network.  Savage argued that a non-compete clause in his contract unfairly prevented him from pursuing better offers from other syndicators.

Not Going Anywhere

Here and Gone Without A Trace

  • September 15 was the 90th anniversary of the station now known as 570 WSYR.  Oddly, the milestone passed with no celebrations, no special “promos,” or even any casual mentions by local hosts.  Clear Channel management never responded to CNYRadio.com inquiries about the anniversary.

October

Arrivals

  • Longtime Syracuse broadcaster Jim Campagna returns to local radio, doing morning news updates for Sunny 102.1 (WZUN), on top of his primary job as a news producer at NewsChannel 9.
  • Fans of classic TV rave about the long-awaited arrival of the Me-TV network on WSYR-TV digital subchannel 9.2.  The launch, originally set for September, was held up for a month by “equipment delays.”

Departures

  • news-12-1001-newy94logoAfter a nearly 30-year run, the original logo of Y94FM (WYYY) is history, along with the “FM” at the end.  It’s just “Y94” in a modernized logo for the Clear Channel AC station.
  • Clear Channel Syracuse programmer Jason Furst heads south to become PD at Charlotte’s WBT.  Furst arrived in 2006 as PD of Nova 105.1 (WWDG), and was later reassigned to SportsRadio 620 WHEN, CHR Hot 107.9 (WWHT) and Newsradio 570 WSYR.  When he left, Furst was programming WSYR, along with Rochester news/talker 1180 WHAM.

A Departure… More Departures… A Comeback… and Legal Action

CNY Radio Alumni on the Move

  • Former 95X staffer Kevin Keefe gets a promotion with Community Broadcasters, where he’s been Station Manager for a three-station cluster in Ogdensburg; he’s now the new GM for the company’s five-station cluster in Watertown.
  • Former Lite 98.7 and Y94 personality Jeanne Ashley moved from Miami’s 101.5 Lite FM to crosstown competitor Easy 93.1 earlier this year, and recently added music director duties.
  • Former Hot 107.9 host Ralphie Aversa lands in market #1, New York City, to host nights at the legendary 95.5 WPLJ.  His show is simulcast on Cumulus-owned CHR stations in three other states.

November

Arrivals

  • Laura Hand (photo: @lhandsyr on Twitter)
    Laura Hand celebrated 40 years at WSTM-3 in November

    As has been tradition for quite some time, the first of November means the arrival of 24/7 Christmas music on Galaxy classic hits station Sunny 102.1.

  • An impressive milestone for NBC3 reporter, anchor and public affairs director Laura HandNovember 6 marked 40 years since she first reported to work at WSTM.
  • WCNY radio and television appoints Peter S. Salizniak as Director of Business Development and Sales.
  • HD programming is now possible around the clock at NewsChannel 9.  Previously, HD offerings were limited to live network programming and local newscasts.  A master control upgrade allows all other programs and local commercial breaks to air in HD.
  • Galaxy Communications President and CEO Ed Levine is among this year’s inductees to the Professional Gallery at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
  • New signs near the CNY Central studios designate the 1000-block of James Street as “Jackie Robinson Parkway,” honoring the anchor who retired in September after 34 years at WSTM.  Back in 2000, a similar honor was bestowed upon the late Ron Curtis, along the 900-block where WTVH used to be located.

Departures

Other Notables

  • Surprisingly, Dr. Rick Wright wasn’t shown the door at Clear Channel, after openly criticizing the extensive use of automation in a newspaper interview.  Wright told The Stand he’s the only live DJ in the building during his Old School Sunday show on Power 620 (WHEN).  “That’s not radio,” Wright told the reporter, going on to say, “Radio has lost its luster because we have no act.”
  • Jeff Szczesniak of Cayuga Community College‘s Win 89 FM (WDWN) wins “Adviser of the Year” at the College Radio Day 2012 Spirit of College Radio Awards.

CNY Radio Alumni on the Move

December

Arrivals

  • Aaron Trimmer is the new PD at News/Talk 106.9 and 570 WSYR.  Just like Jason Furst before him, Trimmer splits his time between WSYR and Rochester’s 1180 WHAM.

Departures

  • news-12-1229-reviewrundownImmediately after closing on its purchase of NewsChannel 9, owner Nexstar Broadcasting informs dozens of back office staffers they’ll be out of a job by mid-January.  People who handled functions like accounting, traffic and HR for WSYR-TV and sister stations in Binghamton, Elmira and Watertown will have their duties absorbed by Nexstar staff in Rochester.  No advance notice for the station’s part-time news photographers, who were dismissed immediately.
  • For the second time in two years, talk host Jim Reith is “on the beach,” as WCNY-TV suddenly cancels his daily half-hour talk show just shy of 7 months on the air.  Management explained it was “a greater challenge than we anticipated to move Jim’s brand from radio to television.”  Prior to WCNY, the host had worked at WSYR radio for 27 years, and hosted an afternoon drive talk show for the last 11 of those years.

Other Notables

CNY Radio Alumni on the Move

  • Matt Johnson, who went by the name “Jimmy Olsen” during his time at 93Q, exits from Wild 104 in Binghamton, as he and his wife move to New York City for an opportunity outside of radio.
  • Alan Furst, who programmed Y94 and WSYR when they were owned by NewCity Communications in the early 1990s, is leaving the PD’s office at news/talker WIBC-FM in Indianapolis to take a similar role at Houston’s News 92 FM.
  • Syracuse University says former WSTM sports director Roger Springfield has been dismissed from his duties as media director for SU athletics, pending a police investigation of a yet-undisclosed nature.

Still Ahead

  • Tomorrow:  Two separate articles.  At 8:00am we’ll pause to remember those we lost this year.  And at noon, a look back at this year’s format flips.
  • Monday: Our annual countdown of the top 10 stories from the past year, and some other miscellaneous statistical stuff.

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