CENTRAL NEW YORK — As another year comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back at all the changes in local broadcasting over the past 364 days. We begin a four-part “Year in Review” series with a look at personnel comings and goings as reported by CNYRadio.com and CNYTVNews.com.
- Utica: News/talker WIBX 950 hires Bill Keeler for mornings, ending a two-year absence from the airwaves for the longtime local radio host.
- Syracuse: A few changes at The Score 1260 (WSKO), as the sports talker replaces its only non-sports program, Don Imus, with CBS Sports Radio Mornings. WSKO also adds Jim Rome to middays as local host Mike Lindsley slides to afternoons.
- Across the hall, Cumulus sister station 105.9 The Rebel (WXTL) adds Roger McCue for middays, and promotes afternoon host Dave Frisina to PD.
- Galaxy’s TK99 and TK105 hire Alexis for the 7pm-midnight shift formerly held by the recently-retired Mimi Griswold.
- Neither coming nor going, but staying put: Ithaca news/talker 870 WHCU celebrates 90 years on the air.
- The arrival of Robinson for mornings at 95X (WAQX) allows Big Smoothie to return his regular afternoon shift.
- WIBX cancels SportsWatch after decades on the air. Several former hosts — some of them now doing sports talk in major markets or announcing for professional-level teams — express their thoughts on the decision.
- In a rare move, the FCC reinstates the construction permit for WKAJ 1120. The station, east of Utica, was actually deleted at one point for failing to sign-on and request a “license to cover” before the CP’s expiration date.
- Budget cuts send Oldies 1050 (WSEN) morning host Dick Mastriano out the door; the shift is picked up by John Carucci, who continues to host afternoons at co-owned Classic Hits 92.1 WSEN-FM.
- Former WHCU Ithaca assistant news director Greg Fry rejoins the Saga news/talk station as news director. During the four years between tours at WHCU, Fry worked in the newsrooms of Albany’s WGY and WAMC.
- Neither coming nor going: Utica’s Big Frog 104 (WFRG) celebrates 25 years of country radio, with morning man Matt Herkimer, the only original on-air talent, sharing his memories dating back to the station’s start as “96 Frog.”
- Coming to bookstores and online retailers near you, a new book called Syracuse Television details the history of its namesake. The book is written by Syracuse TV veterans Tim Fox, Christie Casciano Burns and Lou Gulino.
- Three staffers leave NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) for new jobs: producers Sabrina Betts and Renee Taylor head to Cincinnati and Rochester, respectively (though Betts would soon return), while news photographer Whitney Wagner ventures across town to Time Warner Cable’s YNN.
- CNY Central (WSTM-TV, WTVH, WSTQ-LP) sports director John Evenson exits for a new job in Florida. Weekend sports anchor Niko Tamurian is promoted into the position.
- Bob Cain returns to the airwaves as a fill-in host for ESPN Radio Utica-Rome 1310/99.1 (WTLB, WIXT, WRNY and W256AJ).
- Sunny 102.1 (WZUN) morning co-host Melissa Midgley exits after four years alongside “Big Mike” Fiss. She’s replaced by weekend personality Cindy Humble.
- Classic FM (WCNY-FM) program director Peter McElvein retires after 15 years with the public station.
- Longtime 96.9 WOUR host “Genesee Joe” Trisolino abruptly ends a nearly-21-year run with Utica-Rome’s heritage rocker to join the lineup at crosstown rival 92.7 The Drive (WXUR).
- The following day, the recently-retired Mimi Griswold announces she’s “un-retiring” to handle WOUR afternoons.
- Dave Bullard leaves NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) to make the jump from news to public relations as public information officer for the New York State Fair.
- Oldiez 96.1 (WODZ) program director Dave Wheeler moves himself from mornings to afternoons. Kevin Quinn slides to nights, bumping Alex Cooper off the lineup. Weekender Keith James moves to mornings.
- MOViN 100.3 / 96.3 (WMVN) adds the syndicated “Sunday Nite Slow Jams with R Dub!“ to its lineup.
- The Score 1260 (WSKO) afternoon talk host Mike Lindsley takes a new job in Albany. The local host is replaced by CBS Sports Radio host Doug Gottlieb.
- Although WCNY‘s new broadcast center on Syracuse’s Near West Side is still under construction, the public broadcaster says enough work has been completed for WCNY-TV‘s annual TelAuc fundraiser to broadcast live from the new studios.
- Where are they now: Former longtime WSYR radio talk host Jim Reith is hired to handle public relations for Onondaga County’s “Save the Rain” program.
- Galaxy‘s classic hits Sunny 102.1 (WZUN) adds John Tesh for nights. The syndicated Tesh previously aired during afternoon drive on Clear Channel’s Y94 (WYYY), but was dropped in favor of voicetracking from morning co-host Shannon.
- Where are they now: former WTVH news director Loren Tobia is named Executive Director of Sales with AccuWeather.
- Where are they now: former WIBX manager Randy Gorbman moves up the dial from Rochester’s WHAM 1180 (where he often voiced reports for Clear Channel sister station 570 WSYR) to become news director at public broadcaster 1370 WXXI.
- WRVO announces the launch of “Take Care,” a locally-produced, health-focused talk show, hosted by veteran local broadcasters Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen.
- Notable anniversary #1: Trudy celebrates 15 years at Lite 98.7 (WLZW), even though she joined the Utica-Rome station 20 years ago. Why the discrepancy? She spent five years (2003-2008) working for a sister station in Albany.
- Notable anniversary #2: Shaun Andrews celebrates 15 (consecutive) years across town at 97.9/105.5 Kiss-FM (WSKS/WSKU).
- WSYR-TV reporter Leigh Isaacson leaves to take a new job at the Fox affiliate in New Orleans.
- Longtime Syracuse radio personalities Ron Bee and Dave Laird “virtually” return to the area by way of Syracuse80sOnline.com, but the online station, operated by another former Syracuse broadcaster, RJ Jordan, abruptly closes within a week.
- WKTV Utica reporter Lexie O’Connor leaves for a new job in Portland, Maine.
- The Syracuse Press Club reports that YNN web producer Ginger Whitaker is leaving for a new job in Virginia. YNN assignment editor Amanda Seef leaves for a new job outside of the media. NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) producer Andrea Nejman leaves to take a job in Washington, D.C.
- TK99/TK105 (WKTW/WKTV) midday host and interim PD Gary Michaels is shown the door. Night host Alexis moves to middays; she and the recently un-retired Mimi Griswold will share PD duties until a permanent replacement is found.
- Where are they now: Former WTVH general manager Bill Ransom, who had been working at WKBW in Buffalo for the past 18 years, announces his retirement. (By year’s end, Ransom would be inducted to the NYS Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.)
- WUTR/WFXV Utica reporter Chelsea Rarrick announces she’s headed south for a new job in Virginia.
- Syracuse’s Hot 107.9 (WWHT) returns to full strength after nearly two weeks of transmitter work kept the station at reduced power.
- YNN Executive Producer Nathan Holst exits for a similar position at Portland, Maine’s ABC affiliate.
- Longtime Utica radio host Jerry Kraus is named Executive Director for the Stanley Center for the Arts; the gig allows him to continue with his weekend shifts at 92.7 The Drive (WXUR).
- Sunny 102.1 (WZUN) morning meteorologist Mike Ellis takes five weeks off to have a cancerous polyp removed. While he’s out, morning weather is handled by Jamie DeLine, the daughter of the late Dick DeLine, who spent a decade co-hosting with “Big Mike” Fiss.
- WRVO announces it’s the new home for “HealthLink On-Air,” a weekly paid program produced by SUNY Upstate Medical University that had formerly aired on News Radio 570 WSYR. The Oswego-based NPR affiliate also begins airing podcasts from J. Daniel Pluff, the creator and former host of “Financial Fitness” on WCNY-TV.
- WUTI 1150, the Utica outpost of Leatherstocking Media Group’s three-station CNY Talk Radio chain, is taken off-air by thieves who stole transmission lines at the station’s Oriskany transmitter site. Repairs are initially expected to take three weeks, but as of December, the station remains silent.
- More power: SUNY Cortland student station 90.5 The Dragon (WSUC) receives FCC approval to increase from 210 watts to 1,400 watts. During hours when students aren’t producing local programming, the station serves as a repeater for WRVO.
- Utica’s WIBX 950 loses reporter Gino Geruntino to the news department of Oswego’s WRVO.
- Where are they now: Vince Spicola, who used to handle programming for NewsChannel 9 and several of its sister stations, is named director of marketing and communications for the United Way of Central New York. Spicola was among many channel 9 staffers who lost their jobs when current owner Nexstar Broadcasting closed on its purchase of the stations from Newport Television.
- News Director Joe Parker is sent packing, nearly two years after launching Eyewitness News HD. Parker had also served as co-anchor of ABC affiliate WUTR‘s 6 and 11pm newscasts; his exit leaves Elsa Gillis anchoring solo for those two shows, along with the 10pm ‘cast on Fox affiliate WFXV.
- Galaxy Communications announces Harvey Kojan is the new brand manager for classic rockers TK99 and TK105 (WTKW/WTKV).
- Andrew Donovan moves from NewsChannel 2 (WKTV) in Utica to NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) in Syracuse.
- Longtime Galaxy Communications production director Ted Bilodeau exits for a new job in his native New Hampshire. Listeners knew Bilodeau better as Steve Kelley, his name on Sunny 102.1 (WZUN) in Syracuse and Mix 102.5 (WUMX) in Utica.
- CNYRadio.com and CNYTVNews.com announce an extended “summer hiatus” from regular publication, as editor Peter Naughton focuses on other life priorities — namely, preparing for a move, and for the birth of his first child (who arrived in early September).
- Summer hiatus.
- Reported in November: Dave Vieser, formerly of Ithaca news/talker 870 WHCU and Syracuse’s WSTM-TV, joins CBS News Radio in New York City as a correspondent/producer. Since our initial story, Vieser has been picking up more shifts anchoring the network’s hourly newscasts.
- August (reported in November): Mix 106 (WMCR-FM Oneida) operations manager Joel Meltzer ends a 25-year run with the station to pursue other interests in Florida. Replacing him is Tom Soccocio Jr., who goes by “Tom Sawyer” on-air. Soccocio’s experience includes prior stints at several Utica and Syracuse radio stations including WFRG, WYYY, WHEN, WRCK and WBBS.
- Summer hiatus continues, though we did have a couple of breaking news items:
- The Syracuse Crunch leave The Score 1260 (WSKO) after three years, moving their hockey games to ESPN Radio CNY 97.7/100.1 (WTLA/WSGO). The AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lighting announces Dan D’Uva will return for his second season as the Crunch’s broadcaster.
- Down the Thruway in Galaxy lands another AHL team (same article as the above item) — the brand new Utica Comets sign with 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL).
- Longtime Utica-Rome sportscaster Ed O’Brien is fired and re-hired a few days later at Galaxy’s ESPN Radio Utica-Rome (WTLB). Galaxy CEO Ed Levine explained he was out of town and unaware of the firing, which was carried out by a Utica manager. Levine said there was an apparent misunderstanding, and he reversed the unnamed Utica manager’s decision after reviewing the circumstances.
- As promised back in July, our hiatus came to an end and regular publication resumed.
- News anchor Nia Carter is shown the door at News Radio 570 WSYR, leaving the Clear Channel news/talk station with just three local anchors, a faint shadow of the staffing levels the station enjoyed not too many years earlier.
- The Nexstar/Mission cluster in Utica hires Don Dudley as News Director and co-anchor for it’s Eyewitness News HD operation on ABC affiliate WUTR and Fox affiliate WFXV.
- Former Syracuse radio jock Brandon C lands on his feet at Utica-Rome’s Kiss-FM (WSKS/WSKU). Across the hall, news/talk/music hybrid 100.7FM WUTQ makes some lineup changes which result in an extra hour of music during the midday hours.
- The Public Broadcasting Council of Central New York hosts the grand opening of its brand-new state-of-the-art broadcast facilities for PBS affiliate WCNY-TV, and Classic FM (WCNY-FM). The building on Syracuse’s Near West Side also hosts a master control hub handling program switching duties for every PBS affiliate in New York State and a few others in nearby states. Previously, WCNY was based just a few miles outside of the city, in Liverpool.
- The CBS Sports Radio and Yahoo Sports Radio networks arrive in Utica by way of 95.5FM WUSP. One of the locally-owned sports talk station’s own programs, “MMA Friday,” is picked up by Yahoo for national distribution.
- Neither coming nor going: NewsChannel 9 stages an on-air surprise party celebrating anchor Rod Wood‘s 50 years of broadcasting in Syracuse. It was just as much of a surprise for viewers — in order to prevent Wood from finding out about the surprise, there was no advance promotion of the party.
- Where are they now: Former Cumulus (then-Citadel) Syracuse market manager Dan Austin is leaving the GM post at Townsquare Media in Albany to become director of sales for Lincoln Financial Media‘s four-station San Diego cluster.
- Joel Delmonico announces he’ll be retiring at the end of this year, following more than 30 years in local radio. For the past 21 years, Delmonico has been GM of Clear Channel‘s Syracuse cluster.
- Where are they now: Former WSTM-TV news photographer-turned-sports anchor-turned news reporter Stefan Mychajliw, who moved back to his hometown of Buffalo in the late 1990s, wins re-election as Erie County Comptroller.
- Neither coming nor going: 93Q (WNTQ) morning hosts Ted Long and Amy Robbins celebrate 25 years on-air together.
- Going, times two: Meteorologist Chris Brandolino and anchor Tanja Babich will be leaving The Morining News on NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) by the end of the year. Brandolino has a new job lined-up in New Zealand, and Babich later revealed she’s headed to the ABC affiliate in Chicago.
- A few weeks later, WSYR-TV announced noon meteorologist Jim Teske will take over mornings when Brandolino leaves, and reporter Staci-Lyn Honda will take Babich’s seat on the anchor desk next to channel 9 fixture Dan Cummings.
- Going, going, gone…. and coming back: New management for Syracuse Chiefs baseball announce the team’s games will be back on the radio in 2014, reuniting with former radio partner, The Score 1260 (WSKO).
- Most are gone, some are still here: Writer Kevin DeValk talks with some veteran Syracuse broadcasters on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, for their memories on how local media handled the news.
- A shocker from Utica — morning man Matt Herkimer is sidewalked after 25 years with Big Frog 104 (WFRG), where he was the only original DJ from the 1988 launch of WFRG as 96 Frog. Afternoon host Tad Pole (Townsquare Utica-Rome ops manager Bill McAdams) moves to mornings to co-host with Polly Wogg (his wife, Stacey McAdams). Days later, Herkimer would resurface across town at Bug Country 97.7/100.1 (WBUG/WBGK), locally-owned by Roser Communications Network.
- WUTR/WFXV Utica anchor Elsa Gillis exits for a new job in Louisiana, while reporter Rachel Polansky moves west to join Nexstar sister station WSYR-TV in Syracuse.
- NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) announces former longtime chief meteorologist Dave Eichorn will return in 2014, but not as chief — Dave Longley will retain the title he earned when Eichorn left the ABC affiliate in 2008.
- Sports talk host Mike Lindsley returns to afternoon drive on The Score 1260 (WSKO), a few months after being fired from the Albany job that had him leaving WSKO earlier this year. Since Lindsley departed, the timeslot had been filled by CBS Sports Radio network host Doug Gottlieb.
- NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) weekend meteorologist Julia Weiden announces she’s leaving at month’s end to become the weekday morning meteorologist for a TV station in Mississippi.
- New York Yankees baseball games are moving to Galaxy classic rockers TK99 and TK105 (WTKW/WTKV) next year. Previously, the games aired on Clear Channel’s 570 WSYR and 620 WHEN.
- Clear Channel announces longtime Syracuse General Sales Manager Rick Yacobush will become Market Manager when Joel Delmonico retires at the end of the year. Barbara Miller will move into the GSM role.
- Where are they now: former WSTM-TV and WSYR radio reporter Justin Kraemer is fired from NBC’s Wichita, Kansas affiliate after cursing on-air, thinking his microphone was shut off. It wasn’t, and the video went viral after a viewer posted it online.
- Last month’s announcement of Dave Eichorn‘s return to NewsChannel 9 is followed-up by details of his exact shift. The ABC station says Eichorn will appear at 5:30 and 11:00pm on WSYR-TV, and 10pm on WSYR 9.2. Chief meteorologist Dave Longley will handle noon, 5pm and 6pm. Jim Teske will move to station’s 4:30-7:00 morning newscast.
- After more than half a century of broadcasting in the Mohawk Valley, Hank Brown announces his retirement. The last show featuring “your host for coffee and toast” on 95.5FM WUSP will be December 31.
- Jeanette Lenoir was fired from Utica news/talker 950 WIBX in 2012, but she’s back in the headlines after filing a federal lawsuit against WIBX owner Townsquare Media. Among the highlights of the 19-page filing, Lenoir claims she was paid less than white male colleagues and was twice denied promotions that went to white men who, Lenoir feels, were less-qualified.
2013 Year in Review: What You Missed and What’s Next
- Friday, December 27: Station sales and format flips.
- Saturday, December 28: Remembering local broadcasters we lost in 2013.
- Monday, December 30 at 4:00pm: Deadline to submit your picks for the biggest story of 2013.
- Tuesday, December 31 at 9:00am: The top 10 stories of 2013, based on site traffic stats — along with your picks for “the biggest story” of the year.
- Click here for all Year in Review coverage from 2013 and previous years.