Rock 93.9/101.7 To Flip Formats

Word on the street is that Lebanon-based WVRR, bought earlier this year by Jeff Shapiro’s Great Eastern Radio group, is switching to all talk soon.  Rock 93.9/101.7 PD and drive time DJ Steve Smith got the hook yesterday, coincidentally the same day former WNTK afternoon talker Gardner Goldsmith debuted on Great Eastern’s “The Pulse.”

Over 13 employees have been let go since the buyout, part of Clear Channel’s sell-off of small to medium properties approved by the FCC last November.  The format switch is a blow to the local music scene, which could count on a little bit of airplay with Smith at the helm.

Ironically, reports are that Clear Channel was a friendlier environment for both staff and musicians trying for exposure.  Hard to imagine the corporate behemoth as a symbol of the good old days, but there you go.

On Goldsmith’s show yesterday, I noticed a lot of ads for businesses in Sunapee, Newport and Claremont – that seemed odd for a Concord station.  Now it makes more sense.  I would not be surprised if Shapiro, the king of triangulation back in his Q-106 days, simply bulks up his talk empire with the flip of a few switches.

FCC Ignored “Inconvenient Facts” On Franchise Ruling

clearchannel.jpg John Dunbar of the AP updates ongoing investigation into a 2003 study spiked by the FCC because it didn’t reach the pre-appoved conclusion:

When the government decided to take a hard look at how well broadcasters were serving the needs of the communities where they operated, two economists at the Federal Communications Commission got a research idea: They would look at whether locally owned TV stations produced more local news than stations that were owned by companies based outside the area.

They found that local ownership resulted in more local news coverage — hardly a shocking conclusion. They also realized they had turned up what one of the researchers, economist Keith Brown, called “inconvenient facts.” Their findings were at odds with what their agency, under heavy lobbying from the broadcast industry, had endorsed.

The months-long study was spiked by the agency with “no plausible explanation,” Brown says. He suspects it was because the conclusions were at odds with the shared position of the FCC and the broadcast industry: that media-ownership rules were too restrictive and should be loosened.

The recent transfer of the Clear Channel cluster of local radio stations should provide an instructive look at this theory. Jeff Shapiro of Great Eastern Radio told me his “local yokel” partner left the area’s NBC affiliate when it folded into a New York station. Anyone who’ s watched WNNE since they moved their news operations across the border knows that it’s a shadow of its former self.

Courtney Galluzzo spent 20 years as WNNE’s GM of Sales, so his contribution to the new group of stations should be interesting.

Jeff Shapiro Back In Upper Valley Radio

clearchannel.jpgClear Channel has left the building, and in the words of Bob Dylan, “things should start to get interesting right about now.”

Three years after selling a group of stations led by classic rocker Q-106 (WHDQ) in Claremont, New Hampshire, Jeff Shapiro has returned to Twin State Valley radio with the purchase of the Clear Channel cluster featuring Rock 93.9/101.7 (WVRR) – the station that just happens to be Q-106’s main competitor. The sale is part of a large Clear Channel sell-off involving several markets:

Shapiro’s Great Eastern Radio LLC is buying Clear Channel’s signals, including news-talk WTSL (1400 Hanover NH) and WTSM (93.5 Springfield VT), AC WGXL (92.3 Lebanon NH), rock WMXR (93.9 Woodstock VT)/WVRR (101.7 Newport NH) and country WXXK (100.5 Lebanon NH), for an as-yet-undisclosed price.

“We are thrilled to be returning to the broadcasting community in the Upper Valley,” says Shapiro, who owned WHDQ in Claremont for almost 20 years before selling to Nassau in 2004.

No word yet on what, if anything, will happen to any of the station’s formats, though WVRR switched from Active Rock to a Classic/New hybrid about a year ago. Don’t be surprised if Greg & the Morning Buzz disappears from the local morning slot – their home station, WHEB, is still in the Clear Channel fold.

Ditto for Quinn & Cantara, the evening team that’s based in Providence, Rhode Island.  For the moment, however, it’s business as usual at all the stations.

I suppose Alanis Morrisette’s “Isn’t It Ironic?” would be an appropriate song to play at this juncture – if it were on either Q-106 or Rock 93.9/101.7’s playlists.