CENTRAL NEW YORK -- There's no question this was a busy year for the radio industry in Central New York. Plenty of format flips, quite a few station sales, some great achievements to be proud about, and perhaps most infamously memorable, the economy's impact on the entire broadcasting industry. Today, as per our tradition, we recap all the big stories of the year, broken down month-by-month.
Which stories got the most "hits" during 2009? We've tallied up the stats to create a Top 10 List.
- 6th: Syracuse's Lite Rock 105.9 (WLTI) adds the syndicated Bob & Sheri for mornings, four months after longtime local host Dave Allen exited the station.
- 8th: WLTI sister station 95X (WAQX) adds syndicated advice show Loveline five nights a week; the show once aired on rival K-Rock (WKLL/WKRH/WKRL) earlier in the decade.
- 9th: Classic FM (WCNY) hires Bruce Paulsen to fill the afternoon drive hosting slot left vacant after the retirement of 34-year veteran Don Dolloff.
- 9th: The Mars Hill Network, headquartered at WMHR-FM in Syracuse, announces plans for a new FM station in the Utica-Rome market. (December Update: it's still listed on the FCC website as a new construction permit with no official call letters.)
- 11th: Hot 107.9 (WWHT) morning hosts Marty and Shannon invited listeners to a party to celebrate their 5th anniversary as a team. Afterwards (1/30), the cake-cutting was featured as a Picture of the Week.
- 15th: Utica's WIBX adds Glenn Beck to its weekday lineup, bumping Laura Ingraham to nights.
- 16th: Former Syracuse broadcaster John Creveling dies -- listeners knew him as "Johnny C" and "Johnny Vann" at stations including WNDR, WOLF and WFBL.
- 20th: Unfortunately, the Clear Channel layoff rumors are true -- 1,800 jobs eliminated nationwide. In Syracuse, the cuts included WHEN sports director Jim "Manchild" Lerch (also ending the show he co-hosted with Bud Poliquin, who commented on the matter in his newspaper column shortly after), WHEN producer Ty Doyle, WBBS promotions director Carole Fargo, and an unspecified number of salespeople and part-time staffers.
- 27th: Kenny Youngs, longtime host of the "Country Jamboree" on The Moose (WBRV) in Boonville, dies at 83.
- 29th: Saga Communications, owner of five Ithaca radio stations, executes a 1-for-4 reverse stock split in order to boost its trading price and avoid falling below the minimum required level to remain on the AMEX market.
- 5th: The Mars Hill Network announces a concert to mark its 40th anniversary.
- 5th: The former WFBL buildings are slated for demolition after years of legal arguments over the "historic" status of the structures along South Warren Street in Syracuse.
- 7th: WRVO announces morning news anchor Jason Smith, formerly of WSYR, will take over as the local host of Morning Edition, following John Hurlbutt's retirement after 40 years of service to the NPR affiliate.
- 10th: Former Utica and Syracuse host and programmer Nick Caplan resurfaces at an oldies station in western Massachusetts, his first radio job after being let go from MOViN 100.3. Another CNY connection: his boss is Stew Schantz, former PD of Utica's Kiss-FM (WSKS/WSKU).
- 10th: Watertown's "Real Rock WOTT" moves down the dial, from 100.7FM to a stronger signal at 94.1FM. A day later, Community Broadcasters launches a classic hits format branded as "The Fox" (WEFX-FM) on the 100.7 stick.
- 11th: Perhaps an early omen of the financial troubles at Citadel Broadcasting -- 93Q pulls its longtime sponsorship of the annual "Balloonfest" at Jamesville Beach park.
- 12th: More foreshadowing, this time at Buckley Broadcasting -- Oldies 1390 (WFBL) morning host Bob Brown is demoted to a part-time substitute, less than a year after being hired. Management blamed economic conditions.
- 12th: Yet more foreshadowing, back at Citadel now: 95X (WAQX) midday personality Alexis exits the station after 17 years in the air chair. She had also served as PD from 2003-2008.
- 17th: Ithaca classic rocker I-100 (WIII) is next to face cutbacks -- with pink slips handed to PD/morning co-host Mark Vanness and afternoon driver Paul Hansom.
- 18th: Local comedian Joshua Grosvent and some of his colleagues launch a new website and podcast called Walk-Up Radio. The weekly show is recorded before a live audience at a Syracuse bar, and observers are invited to walk up to an open mic to chime in with their own comments at any time.
- 20th: Longtime Utica-Rome radio host Bill Keeler launches his own online newspaper, Utica Daily News.
- 22nd: The "new" CNYRadio.com celebrates one year since it's re-launch! The site had previously been dormant since 2005. The anniversary is accompanied by the launch of the CNYRadio.com Station Wiki.
- 28th: Legendary syndicated broadcaster Paul Harvey passes away at the age of 90.
- 2nd: The New York Stock Exchange says Citadel Broadcasting will be delisted from the exchange for failure to maintain the standard minimum stock price of $1.00 per share. Four days later, Citadel started trading over-the-counter.
- 2nd: The rumors we heard a few days ago are true -- Granite Broadcasting eliminated more than 40 jobs at WTVH-TV, as it announced the formation of a shared services agreement with Barrington Broadcasting, the owners of WSTM-TV. While Granite retains ownership of WTVH and responsibility for its license, Barrington is handling all day-to-day operations of WTVH from the WSTM building. (The WTVH building has since been emptied and put up for sale.)
- 6th: Aloha Stations Trust announces plans to sell Nova 105-1 (WWDG) to locally-owned Foxfur Communications.
- 7th: The 38th Annual Heart Radiothon on Utica's Newsradio 950 WIBX helps to raise over $1.1 Million for the American Heart Association.
- 7th: Recently-retired Syracuse broadcaster Dave Laird launches his own V/O studio in Tennessee.
- 10th: Brian James, who twice served as the imaging voice of Syracuse's 93Q (WNTQ), dies of a heart attack at 48.
- 13th: The economy strikes again -- Buckley cuts longtime middayer Diane Wade from the lineup at Classic Hits 92.1 (WSEN).
- 16th: Syndicated morning host Don Imus announces he's battling prostate cancer.
- 16th: Gary "Big Poppa" Spears exits his position as morning host and promotions director of Utica's Kiss-FM (WSKS/WSKU).
- 19th: Syndicator Westwood One cancels the Lars Larson Show with virtually no warning, leaving affiliates WIBX in Utica and WHCU in Ithaca with little choice but to run "best of" reruns. Four days later, Compass Media Networks picked up the show.
- 22nd: After 40 years as the owner of WMCR, Vivian Warren announces she's selling the Oneida AM/FM pair. James Johnson, former owner of the Oneonta-based BanJo Communications Group, is the buyer -- he'll operate the stations under the name "Leatherstocking Media Group."
- 24th: Watertown's ESPN Radio 1410 (WNER) announces plans for a new locally-produced talk show, called Matt Mc's Sports Fix, hosted by local newspaper sports columnist Matt McClusky.
- 24th: John Hurlbutt bids farewell to listeners on his final day as the local host of Morning Edition on Oswego-based NPR affiliate WRVO. Hurlbutt spent his entire 40-year career at the station.
- 27th: Utica AC Lite 98.7 (WLZW) raises $24,000 during its 9th annual radiothon for the Children's Miracle Network.
- 31st: Former WNDR/WFBL/WTLB/WJMK jock Peter Cavanaugh releases the original, uncut "Syracuse section" that he had written for his 2002 book Local DJ. He explains what was originally five chapters of memories from Syracuse wound up being trimmed down to just one chapter before the book went to press.
- 1st: Clear Channel shuts down Nova 105.1 (WWDG) as the Aloha Stations Trust's sale of the Hot AC station to locally-owned Foxfur Communications closes. The station sits silently as the new owners perform some behind-the-scenes work.
- 7th: The 93Q morning team of Ted & Amy return to television, as substitute hosts on NewsChannel 9's "Bridge Street." They'll be appearing every Friday, at least through the summer.
- 10th: Regent Communications posts a $32.5 million loss for the first quarter. Citadel reports a 22.9% decrease in revenue, coupled with an announcement that it will not be issuing any quarterly conference calls this year.
- 10th: Syracuse's Y94FM (WYYY) is dropped from the Radio & Records reporting panel because R&R says Y94 and six other Clear Channel AC stations are "musical carbon copies" of each other, using playlists generated by the PD at the company's flagship AC station in New York City.
- 11th: Power 106.9 (WPHR) replaces the recently-fired Butch Charles' airshift with the syndicated Keith Sweat Hotel. The same day, owner Clear Channel announces it lost $428 million in the first quarter of 2009.
- 11th: Still no audio on 105.1 FM from DeRuyter, but co-owner Sam Furco tells us the station will reclaim its heritage WVOA call letters and the religious "Love Radio" format (which it had before Craig Fox sold the station to Clear Channel in 2001) when it signs back on.
- 11th: Regent country powerhouse Big Frog 104 (WFRG) announces the lineup for its "Frogfest XXI" listener appreciation concert.
- 12th: Galaxy Communications parts ways with Ted Bradford, who had been programming Sunny 102 (WZUN) in Syracuse and Mix 102.5 (WUMX) in Utica.
- 14th: Utica's 92.7 The Drive (WXUR) announces the return of local personality Frank McBride -- he'll host the 6-10pm slot.
- 15th: Utica's Kiss-FM (WSKS/WSKU) announces it's changing formats, along with plans for a "Goodbye Kiss-FM Weekend" so listeners can share their memories of the CHR station's 15-year run. The following Monday, the station briefly launches a "Beautiful Music" format before revealing the entire thing was just a stunt to debut new Kiss-FM morning host Eric Thomas. But wait, there's more... keep reading!
- 19th: Longtime morning man Sonny King is let go from his job at Homer's Oldies 101.5 (WXHC) due to budget cuts.
- 20th: After almost three weeks of silence, programming returns to 105.1 FM -- as previously announced, it's now known as WVOA, carrying a religious format branded as "Love Radio."
- 23rd: Tragedy in the North Country as Froggy 97 (WFRY) afternoon host Bud "Green" Yeman loses two daughters in a car accident.
- 24th: Former WIBX board operator R. Clark Witt IV dies following a long illness, at the age of 32.
- 31st: Hot 107.9 (WWHT) morning sidekick DeafGeoff spends an entire weekend camping out at Syracuse's Carousel Center to raise money and awareness for AIDS Community Resources.
- 1st: Three Doors Down and Papa Roach are among the headliners announced in the lineup for K-Rock's 14th annual K-Rockathon. The concert is set for August 8th at the NY State Fairgrounds.
- 4th: Good news for Mark Vanness and "Big Jim" Donovan -- the men, both sidelined from their full time radio jobs in the past several months, return to the airwaves on a part-time basis. Vanness is hired by Galaxy's Sunny 102 (WZUN) and Donovan is back at 93Q (WNTQ).
- 4th: Nielsen company announces it's ceasing publication of Radio & Records after 36 years of serving the radio industry. Some R&R features will be folded into sister publication Billboard.
- 9th: The sale of WMCR from Warren Broadcasting to Leatherstocking Media Group becomes official.
- 16th: A family who lives near the recently-relocated transmitter of WOKR in East Floyd claims the tower is giving off dangerously-high levels of radiation. Two days later, the FCC started an investigation into the matter. About 10 days later, the FCC says it found no abnormalities in WOKR's transmissions.
- 17th: Ithaca's News/Talk 870 WHCU announces anchor/reporter Todd Messer will soon be getting married and relocating outside of the area; the search for his eventual replacement begins.
- 19th: Barely a month after he was hired, Eric Thomas is fired from Roser Communications Network's Kiss-FM duo (WSKS/WSKU). Thomas blogged about the circumstances surrounding his exit. The station taps Kenny the Promo Guy to fill morning drive until a permanent replacement is named.
- 20th: Three months after its debut, Matt Mc's Sports Fix is expanding to a second hour on Watertown's ESPN Radio 1410 (WNER).
- 22nd: Word from Rochester that former Syracuse radio personality Jack Mindy is retiring after a 52-year career in radio.
- 23rd: Casey Kasem announces his retirement plans. The Independence Day weekend editions of his weekly "American Top 10" and "American Top 20" countdowns will be his last.
- 25th: Arjuna Broadcasting shifts syndicated host Don Imus from 92.7 The Drive (WXUR) to ESPN Radio 1420 (WNRS). The move makes room for local fixture Bill Keeler to move from afternoons to mornings on WXUR. The station also announces a musical shift from Hot AC to a more rock-based playlist.
- 25th: Several stations offer tribute to Michael Jackson, after "The King of Pop" dies unexpectedly at the age of 50. In Syracuse, Lite Rock 105.9 (WLTI) and Power 106.9 (WPHR) quickly replaced their regular playlists to play wall-to-wall Michael Jackson songs. Many other stations responded by maintaining format, but with more Jacko in their rotations than usual.
- 30th: Utica's Kiss-FM adds two locally-produced mix shows on Sunday nights.
- 4th: Syndicated country countdown show host Bob Kingsley's contract is renewed through 2014.
- 6th: Ratings for Spring 2009 show country station Froggy 97 (WFRY) holds onto its commanding lead in Watertown.
- 6th: Country is also a winning format in Ithaca; Saga's Q-Country (WQNY) maintains its lead in that market. Newcomer CHR Z95.5 (WFIZ) appears in 2nd place for its very first full book, tied with classic rocker I-100 (WIII) for second place.
- 11th: Syracuse's WCNY hires noted journalist Susan Arbetter to head a "major expansion" of news and public affairs programming for WCNY-TV, WCNY-FM, and their respective translators and repeaters in Syracuse and adjoining markets.
- 12th: A one-day radiothon on Newsradio 570 WSYR raises $20,000 to help rebuild a Syracuse school playground that was burned to the ground.
- 12th: Police in the City of Fulton report longtime WRVO News Director Chris Ulanowski was arrested on a marihuana possession charge a week earlier. The charges are later dismissed.
- 14th: Another format change on the FM dial at 105.1 -- Foxfur flips WVOA to Radio Disney.
- 18th: Buckley Broadcasting announces plans to sell its three-station Syracuse cluster (WSEN AM/FM and WFBL) to Leatherstocking Media Group, the recent startup that entered the local radio scene with its purchase of Oneida's WMCR AM/FM earlier this summer. A week later, we learn the price of the sale: $2.1 Million.
- 21st: Newsradio 950 WIBX signs with Westwood One to carry the NFL Prime Time lineup, which will include rights to air the Super Bowl.
- 21st: John "Jack" Abert, regarded as a "trailblazing pioneer" in the realm of radio sales, dies at 63.
- 22nd: Former Utica radio news anchor Bruce Manning dies at 55.
- 25th: Longtime Watertown radio personality George Neher dies at 65.
- 26th: Former "Jim Reith Show" producer Dan McIntyre announces he's running for office -- as Supervisor for the Town of Clay. He would eventually lose the race to the incumbent.
- 27th: WVOA 105.1 prepares listeners for another format change as the station begins playing Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" endlessly. Later, the gag would continue with 80s metal titles branded as "Hairband 105.1"
- 28th: The new format on 105.1FM is announced: "New Country WOLF 105-1" launches at 4pm. Later that day, we learn the new station will take the historic WOLF-FM call letters.
- 28th: In an apparent attempt to create confusion over the above item, Clear Channel flips urban-formatted Power 106.9 (WPHR) to "Young Country 106.9," but then flips back to the original format a few days later. The move would later be criticized by a Syracuse University School of Law professor in a letter published by the Syracuse Post-Standard.
- 1st: WRVO Corporate Support Representative Tom Herbert moves to a similar position with the Mars Hill Network.
- 2nd: Finger Lakes News Radio begins the search for a News Director to replace Brendan Cooper, who is leaving for a new job in Rochester.
- 3rd: WSEN(AM) begins simulcasting Oldies 1390 (WFBL). WSEN had previously been simulcasting Classic Hits 92.1, its FM counterpart.
- 4th: Clear Channel moves the transmitter for Power 106.9 (WPHR) from Cayuga County to a new location near the Onondaga Community College campus. The city-of-license changes from Auburn to Solvay. The intent is to better cover the urban audience toward which WPHR's programming is geared.
- 4th: Syracuse University's WAER pulls "The Funk Show" off its Saturday evening lineup. The hosts say they were notified of the cancellation via email rather than in person.
- 9th: Longtime WRVO News Director Chris Ulanowski resigns. It's unclear whether his departure had anything to do with Ulanowski being arrested on a drug charge in the City of Fulton in early August.
- 10th: Doctors say Garrison Keillor is recovering after a "minor stroke." They believe the host of NPR's A Prairie Home Companion will be able to resume his normal schedule in about a week.
- 10th: Saga Communications launches AAA-formatted "98.7 The Vine" (W254BF) in Ithaca. It's the second time the cluster has launched a new format on an FM translator, while simulcast on an HD subchannel of one of their primary FM stations (in this case specifically, WYXL-HD3).
- 11th: Longtime Syracuse radio and TV journalist Jerry Barsha dies at 83.
- 15th: Utica's Kiss-FM (WSKS/WSKU) dismisses Jesse Jordan. She says she was fired because she refused to be reassigned from middays to morning drive.
- 15th: Local comedian and 93Q (WNTQ) personality Josh Grosvent is hired as a contributing writer for the "Weekend Update" segment on NBC's Saturday Night Live. But he'll keep his primary job in Syracuse.
- 16th: Showing support for recently-fired co-worker Jesse Jordan, Kiss-FM night jock "Intern Dave" Wheeler announces he's stepping down to part-time status. A day later, he would be fired from the Roser Communications Network duo (WSKS/WSKU).
- 16th: Retired Utica broadcaster Jack Fredericks dies at 84. He got his start in broadcasting at WIBX.
- 16th: Mark Vanness, who was fired from his PD/morning co-host job at Ithaca's I-100 earlier this year, lands a new full-time radio job as morning host at Regent Communications' Hot AC Buzz 105.7 in Albany.
- 23rd: Arjuna Broadcasting relocates the transmitter for 92.7 The Drive (WXUR) from its longtime home in Frankfort to the more desirable Smith Hill just north of Utica. Prior to the move, morning host Bill Keeler told CNYRadio.com he couldn't hear the station in his own office in South Utica. The new location is expected to offer a better signal to the Utica metro.
- 23rd: Rather than hire a replacement for the recently-fired "Intern Dave," Utica's Kiss-FM fills the 7p-mid shift with the syndicated "Party Playhouse" hosted by Jackson Blue.
- 24th: The offices of Keeler Productions, including the studios for 92.7 The Drive (WXUR) are quarantined for several hours after a staffer opens a piece of mail which included a death threat and an unknown "powder-like substance."
- 24th: WXUR morning host Bill Keeler announces his search for a new sidekick after Mark Piersma announces his intent to host his own morning show elsewhere in the market.
- 2nd: Halloween is barely out of the way as two stations go all-Christmas: Galaxy Syracuse AC Sunny 102.1 (WZUN) and Utica Hot AC Mix 102.5 (WUMX).
- 9th: Citadel Broadcasting, owner of 4 Syracuse radio stations, discusses the possibility of filing for bankruptcy in a quarterly SEC filing. (They eventually would, in December.)
- 10th: Good news for former Kiss-FM personalities Jesse Jordan and Dave Wheeler. Jordan lands a job as midday hostess at Rochester's WBEE and Wheeler joins the weekend lineup at Utica's WLZW.
- 11th: From the "where are they now" file, former Syracuse Citadel GM Reggie Jordan takes a job in Yakima, Washington.
- 12th: Clear Channel's Y94FM in Syracuse goes all-Christmas.
- 16th: A second all-Christmas station in Utica, but it's not who you might expect. Roser's Bug Country (WBGK/WBUG) begins playing wall-to-wall holiday tunes by country artists.
- 16th: Cutbacks at Citadel Media impact the air talent lineup carried by Utica's Oldiez 96 (WODZ).
- 16th: Premiere Radio Networks announces the long-running Jeff Foxworthy Countdown is being cancelled.
- 20th: Galaxy Communications VP/Programming Mimi Griswold becomes the first permanent female public address announcer in the 30-year history of the Carrier Dome.
- 21st: Despite the station's rapid climb up the ratings charts, Z95.5 (WFIZ) fires morning host and PD Justin Wright, announcing the search for a replacement.
- 23rd: Another "where are they now" update -- former K-Rock middayer Ty moves from Baltimore to the legendary DC101 (WWDC-FM) in Washington, DC. She now uses the name "Bailey" on the air.
- 27th: For the first time in 20 years, Utica's Lite 98.7 (WLZW) goes all-Christmas. In years past, the station merely sprinkled holiday tunes among the regular playlist, holding off on wall-to-wall Christmas until the day before.
- 30th: No more MOViN' in Oswego -- owner Foxfur Communications switches the simulcast on 96.7 over to a simulcast of "New Country WOLF 105.1." The call letters change from WMVN to WWLF-FM.
- 4th: A new record for Newsradio 570 WSYR's annual radiothon for the Children's Miracle Network. Listeners pledged more than $104,850 to benefit services at Golisano Children's Hospital at University Hospital in Syracuse.
- 5th: NPR listeners pledge over $182,000 during WRVO's Fall Fundraiser.
- 5th: Dave Frisina celebrates 30 years of his show Soundcheck by re-airing the show's very first edition from 1979.
- 5th: More hot water for Regent Communications -- the owner of 4 Utica-Rome stations receives another warning that its stock could be dropped from Nasdaq.
- 7th: In a surprise coup, Galaxy Communications snatches the ESPN Radio Syracuse market affiliation away from Citadel's WNSS. Effective in March 2010, ESPN Radio will move to WTLA, WSGO and two FM translators. Galaxy will also carry the Spanish-language ESPN Deportes network on WSCP. Galaxy will also carry ESPN in Utica.
- 7th: Former WSGO and WGES-FM (now WTKW) owner Robert Gessner dies in Florida at 86.
- 8th: Oneida's WMCR-FM begins identifying itself as "Mix 106."
- 8th: After more than 60 years, WRUN in Utica is no longer. As the station's latest sale closes, the new owner changes the call letters to WUTI.
- 8th: Another long run comes to an end: syndicator Westwood One says it will no longer offer a radio simulcast of CNN's Larry King Live. It's the first time in 50+ years King won't be available on radio nationwide.
- 12th: Longtime 93Q (WNTQ) morning co-hosts Ted Long and Amy Robbins begin hosting a new weekly show on WCNY-TV.
- 15th: The broadcast tower of WRCE in Watkins Glen collapses, killing engineer Dirk Remington. He was one of four men performing maintenance at the tower when it fell. The others were not hurt.
- 17th: Where Are they Now? Longtime local radio personality and programmer Rick "RJ" Jordan signs on as the Northeast Director of Marketing and Promotion with Golden Records.
- 20th: Longtime Utica-Rome radio host Joe Graziano dies at 74. He was most recently known as host of The Cuppa Joe Show on WUTQ and WADR.
- 20th: Citadel Broadcasting files a "pre-arranged" Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan.
- 22nd: Reginald James Pettiford, known to listeners of Watertown's Z93 (WCIZ) as "Jimbo," dies at 56.
- 25th: Roser's Bug Country duo (WBGK/WBUG) unveils a new logo (minus "Skeeter" the mascot) and plans to shift from classic country to a "more contemporary" sound.
- 31st: Talk show host Rush Limbaugh is rushed to a hospital after complaining of chest pain during vacation in Hawaii. He's said to be "resting comfortably" and is expected to be okay.
Past Years in Review
If you've still got an appetite for being nostalgic after reading all that, take a look back at past Year in Review articles
-- including last year's, as well as 2001, 2002 and 2003 from the original CNYRadio.com.