’80s dance-music format now ‘Hot’ on the Web

Broadway Bill Lee returns to his Hot-97 roots this week, with a twist. Find him 2-8 p.m. at www.originalhot97.com, the Internet reincarnation of New York's 1980s dance legend. Programmed by Joel Salkowitz of the original WQHT, this station features hot dance. "It's fun,' says Salkowitz. "We've had a great response. It's the Internet universe, so you don't want to get too carried away, but I think that same white-Hispanic coalition that made this format a hit in the '80s could light up several cities again today if you gave it a chance." He puts New York among those possibilities. Most of the station's streaming is music, but Glenn Friscia hosts the "Saturday Night Dance Party" with James Anthony, and Salkowitz says he has talked to other Hot jocks about guest spots. That's where Lee comes in. He's heard Saturdays on WWFS (102.7 FM), but offered to chime in on the Hot-97 Webcast. "Ideally, I'd love to have the old voices 2-8 p.m. every day," says Salkowitz. "But at this point, it's all volunteer work, so I don't want to burden anyone." Salkowitz, now a consultant, started this station as a labor of love he hopes someday will at least pay for itself. But as with most Internet radio, that's a ways off, and meantime, a new royalty ruling could double his costs. "At a certain point, you'd have to say it has been fun and pull the plug," he says. "I hope it doesn't come to that." BAD BOY NEWS: Most radio people say if fired WFAN morning host Don Imus goes to court with CBS Radio to collect on the rest of his contract - $40 million, with treble damages bringing it to $120 million - he will win. Entertainment attorney Steven J.J. Weisman said, "If I'm CBS, the last thing I want is for this to go to court - because I either look stupid or complicitous. "Given the choice, I want to look neither." Meanwhile, morning hosts Opie and Anthony of WFNY (92.3 FM) returned from a two-week vacation this week and warned that if current trends continue, there Continue Reading

NEC changes postseason format to pod system

NEW YORK (AP) — The Northeast Conference is changing its women's basketball postseason format, going to a pod system with the top two teams in the regular season hosting the quarterfinals and semifinals.The championship game will still be played at the highest remaining seed. The schedule was also truncated with the quarters and semis played on back-to-back nights and the finals still played the day before the NCAA selections were made."There was a long wait between the regular season and our championship game," NEC commissioner Noreen Morris said. "Some of the coaches that had been through it thought there has to be a better way to make the tournament feel more like a tournament as opposed to one game separated by three or four days. The women, more than the men, like the idea of having the feel of having a tournament. That's where we came up with the idea."Not every coach was in favor of the new format. Charlie Buscaglia, who is in his second year at Robert Morris, wasn't a big fan."I felt that through the course of the regular season, you work really hard for seeding at the mid-major level," he said. "I thought that the way it was, was the best way for us. At the end of the day, I'll find the joy in it. We'll adjust."Robert Morris was picked second in the preseason coaches' poll behind Saint Francis. Bryant, Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut round out the top five. St. Francis, Brooklyn Fairleigh Dickinson, Mount St. Mary's, LIU and Wagner round out the poll.The conference has altered its tournament format a few times over the past 20 years. Wagner hosted the men's and women's tournament in 1999, and then both tournaments moved to a neutral court in Trenton, New Jersey, for two seasons.The women split from the men the next year, and the quarterfinals and semifinals were held at one predetermined site with the title game going to the home of the highest remaining seed. It stayed that way until 2005, when all games were played on campus sites of the higher Continue Reading


Over the last quarter-century, Brian Thomas has programmed a half-dozen radio formats, from top 40 to oldies, on a dozen stations in as many cities. All of which adds up to "a tremendous advantage," he says, in his new gig as program director of Jack, the "playing what we want" format on WCBS-FM (101. 1). "I'm very comfortable with different styles," says Thomas. His challenge, of course, is to narrow all those styles down into a winning formula for Jack, which has played a mix of rhythm and rock, mostly from the '80s through the present. It has no jocks, just a wise-guy recorded voice making wise-guy remarks, and so far, the idea hasn't caught fire in the ratings. Last fall it finished in 22nd place with 1. 6% of the audience, which means it hears a lot of advice on what it should be doing. "Everyone's a program director," says Thomas, in a good-natured tone. "But finding the right mix is the most important thing. " He doesn't necessarily subscribe to the popular notion that New York is more a rhythm than a rock town, but he does say New York is different than any of his previous stops, which included San Francisco, New Orleans and Baltimore. "We can learn something from what works on Jack in other markets," he says, "but New York has its own sound. " Jack's rough ride here started with a loud and still-echoing backlash over the abrupt manner in which parent CBS dumped the station's long-running oldies format to install it. General manager Chad Brown concedes, "We still have a long way to go," but he says hiring Thomas as the station's first officially titled program director will help. "Brian has already made some adjustments," says Brown. "We sound better. " Brown also notes that Jack is still a new kid on the block. "We're different," he says. "For a long time, every company thought it just needed to play 300 records. Now we have the largest playlist in New York. " Jack is also trying some innovations. A listener Continue Reading


The lack of several familiar formats on city radio - oldies, country, adult standards - leads to frequent discussions in the radio biz on whether recent forces in radio, including the consolidation of the last decade, have left listeners with fewer choices. That is to say, has radio become less interesting? Does it exclude many potential listeners, forcing them to other media or satellite? Picking up this discussion, radio fan Derek Tague argues that to find the modern "golden age" of New York radio, when listeners had the widest choice of formats and music, you might have to go back to around 1978-79. At that time, Tague notes: . There was rock on WPLJ, progressive rock on WPIX-FM and a lot of free-form on WNEW-FM. . WABC and WNBC played top-40. WXLO played more grownup top-40. WKTU had disco, and WBLS was adding more disco to its urban contemporary. . WCBS-FM played oldies, WHN played country, WWRL played soul. . WRVR played jazz, WQXR played classical, WNEW-AM played adult standards. . WRFM, WTFM, WVNJ and WPAT played forms of "beautiful music," and WYNY-FM played "middle of the road." . WCBS-AM and WINS were all-news. WMCA was mostly topical talk. WOR was full-service. . WNYC was public radio, WBAI was WBAI, and college stations thrived. What's replaced many of those formats today are hip-hop stations, Spanish stations, talk stations, a business station, Radio Disney and two all-sports stations. Radio owners today obviously think that's what the people want, or at least what will maximize their profits. Maybe one question is whether the current lineup will look like a golden age to some radio fans in 2034. BOBBY JAY ON THE ISLAND: Bobby Jay, longtime night host on WCBS-FM (101.1), sits in all next week for Keith Allen, 2-7 p.m., on WBZO (103.1 FM). B103 is the biggest area FM still playing oldies. AROUND THE DIAL: P.F. Sloan guests today at 3:30 p.m. with Dennis Elsas on WFUV (90.7 FM). ... The WOR (710 AM) morning Continue Reading


WLIB (1190 AM) is switching from the liberals to the Lord. After 29 months as the flagship station for the progressive talk network Air America, WLIB will become a full-time black gospel music station on Sept. 1. It will be "music-intensive," says Vinny Brown, operations manager of sister station WBLS (107.5 FM), "but will not exist in a vacuum, just playing songs. It will be heavily involved with the community, because in many ways the church is the community." Vice president/general manager Deon Levingston says while the "Praise and Inspiration" format will not have talk shows "per se," some shows "will focus on issues in a way that's compatible with the music." He cited as an example Imhotep Gary Byrd's Sunday morning "Express Yourself" on WBLS, and suggested there could be some specialty shows on weekends. Byrd's current early-morning talk show on WLIB, however, will disappear. "This will be a 24-hour gospel format," says Brown. The station will kick off with all music, then after a month or so will add hosts. No names have been announced yet, but Levingston says, "They will be people listeners will recognize. As with WBLS, we want personalities that are as strong as the songs they're playing." Putting music on AM band is challenging in 2006, but Levingston says the fact WLIB will have this format to itself will help. The city hasn't had a full-time black gospel station since WWRL (1600 AM) switched to soul oldies in April 1997. Perhaps ironically, WWRL will pick up Air America programming on Sept. 1. Brown says the success of specialty shows helped convince WLIB's parent Inner City broadcasting the gospel audience is there, and he noted gospel music itself has broadened its base lately. "Sometimes 'BLS has had six or seven gospel songs in rotation," he says. "You have core gospel artists like Shirley Caesar and Hezekiah Walker, but then you also have an increasing number of crossover artists like Kirk Franklin or Yolanda Adams. Continue Reading


If you wonder why radio formats like oldies and adult standards disappear even though they have large numbers of listeners, the main reason is simple. Radio owners measure success less by listenership than by ad revenue, and if a big audience doesn't translate to big ad dollars, the format may be expendable. That harsh truth is reflected in a new national survey by Miller Kaplan (MK) on radio's 2005 "Power Ratios" - how various formats convert listeners into ad dollars. A "power ratio" of 1. 0 means a format breaks even. It has, say, 5% of the audience and makes 5% of the revenue. Below a 1. 0 is not good. Adult standards, for instance, have 2. 45% of the audience in the MK survey, but only 1. 08% of the ad dollars, for a dismal "power ratio" of 0. 44. In other words, a station programming adult standards might well see a chance to make more money somewhere else. Conversely, all-news stations do extremely well, as anyone who hears the number of ads on WCBS-AM or WINS has probably figured. News formats have a "power ratio" of 1. 99, meaning they have almost twice the percentage of ad revenue as they do of listeners. Also doing very well are adult contemporary stations, with a 1. 44 "power ratio"; classic rock, with a 1. 50; hot adult contemporary (like WPLJ), with a 1. 78; '80s oldies, with a 1. 50; rock, with a 1. 52, and sports, with a 1. 44. Doing less well are oldies, with a 0. 97 "power ratio" that's been slipping the last few years; classical, whose 0. 58 "power ratio" should make New Yorkers grateful WQXR stays the course, and, continuing a long trend, the "ethnic" formats. All urban formats are below 1. 0, as are Spanish formats. Those stations and community activists have complained for years that advertisers unfairly value their audiences less than other audiences. Top-40 stations with a "pop" format - think WHTZ - have a solid "power ratio" of 1. 20. Top-40 stations with a "rhythmic" format, like Continue Reading


The major terrestrial radio companies say the growth of satellite radio wasn't a factor in their announcement last week that they will be offering dozens of "new" stations thanks to high-definition (HD) radio technology. "HD has been in the works for almost a decade," says Tom Poleman, senior vice president for Clear Channel. "It's an investment in the future of radio that has nothing to do with satellite. " XM and Sirius satellite now have some 10 million subscribers, a tiny percentage of the radio audience. But they have been growing, and one reason is they offer many formats that are scarce on terrestrial radio even in New York, like oldies, country, standards, cutting-edge dance and modern rock. Conventional radio has lately been striking back at satellite, stressing how much it offers for free. So it certainly doesn't hurt to say it can now offer dozens more formats - including, in New York, country, oldies, modern rock, gospel and classic hip-hop. These "new" stations come from a technology that enables an existing station to "split" its signal, broadcasting two separate things on the same frequency. This doesn't affect the existing broadcasts. It adds another, for listeners willing to spend $250 and up for an HD radio. Clear Channel estimates that there are only a few thousand HD units in use at present, but then, until last week there was almost no programming for them. Now that there is, said Clear Channel CEO John Hogan last week, "We expect this to be a fast-growing area. " Most new HD2 stations have no deejays, a situation Poleman says he expects "will evolve as they become established. " A few of the HD2 formats now being offered in New York include oldies on WCBS-FM, country on WKTU, modern rock on WXRK and gospel on WRKS. In a rare show of cooperation that probably underscores the importance terrestrial radio places on HD, the major companies got together and divvied up formats so there weren't, for instance, three Continue Reading

As American Pharoah chases rare Triple Crown, connections of previous winners hope format doesn’t change

When the gates open for the Belmont Stakes on June 6, American Pharoah will be the only horse to have started in all three legs of the Triple Crown. It’s an issue Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome, brought up last year after his horse finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Tonalist, who didn’t run in either the Derby or the Preakness, won the Belmont. “It’s all or nothing,” Coburn said in a rant right after the Belmont. “It’s not fair to these horses that are running their guts out. This is a coward’s way out. If you’ve got a horse that earns points, that runs in the Kentucky Derby, those horses should be the only ones who should run in all three races. I’m 61 years old and I’ll never see in my lifetime another Triple Crown winner because of the way they do this. It’s not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one.” RELATED: AMERICAN PHAROAH OWNER SLAMS $2M LAWSUIT AS 'EXTORTION' But according to a group of owners, trainers and jockeys of the last three Triple Crown winners — Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978), the Triple Crown is perfect the way it is. “I hope they don’t change the format,” said Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat. “It’s been this way for so long. All the records and statistics are based off of it. The issue of fresh horses is now such a big deal. The trainer knows how to get his horse ready for the last challenge. The more work, the stronger he got. This is horse racing. If you make it too easy there will be more Triple Crown winners and it will lose its validity.” Chenery was a guest on a national teleconference that also included Ron Turcotte, who rode Secretariat, Dr. Jim Hill, the Continue Reading

NFL outlaws formation that Patriots used to beat Ravens as part of new rule changes

PHOENIX - It's too late to help the Ravens, but NFL owners outlawed the funky formations the Patriots used to help beat Baltimore in the divisional round of the playoffs. Bill Belichick took advantage of the loophole by having a player wearing an eligible number (1-49 or 80-89) report as ineligible and line up in the slot. Then, a player who appeared to be ineligible was actually eligible. Shane Vereen, signed by the Giants two weeks ago, reported as ineligible and lined up wide. The formation confused the Ravens because they didn't have time to adjust after Vereen reported ineligible. The Patriots used the formation three times on a key third quarter touchdown drive in their 35-31 victory. Tom Brady completed all three passes for 41 yards. The new rule requires any player who reports as ineligible, regardless of the number, to line up in the tackle box. If he lines up outside the tackle box, it will be declared an illegal substitution and the offense will be penalized. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh picked up a penalty for arguing with the officials about Belichick's trickery. The Patriots used only four offensive linemen with the fifth ineligible player lined up wide of the line of scrimmage. On one play, Vereen actually turned his back to the defenders and went the opposite was of the line of scrimmage. On the Ravens account on Twitter, the team posted, "NFL owners have passed the rule proposal banning the use of ineligible receivers like the Patriots did in the AFC divisional playoffs." By next season, Belichick will certainly come up with something else. The owners voted to throw this one out. GOING FOR TWO The Competition Committee has been given the assignment to come up with a rule change proposal on the extra point for owners to vote on at the meetings in May in San Francisco. It's possible the two-point conversation will be moved in a half-yard from the two-yard line but if teams want to kick for the one point it will be from the 15-yard line, making it a Continue Reading

Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu completes formation of right-wing coalition

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completed the formation of a new coalition late Wednesday, putting him at the helm of a hard-line government that appears to be set on a collision course with the U.S. and other key allies. Netanyahu reached a deal with the nationalist Jewish Home party shortly before a midnight deadline, clinching a slim parliamentary majority and averting an embarrassing scenario that would have forced him from office. But with a government dominated by hard-liners that support increased West Bank settlement construction and oppose peace moves with the Palestinians, he could have a hard time rallying international support. Controlling just 61 of 120 parliamentary seats, the narrow coalition could also struggle to press forward with a domestic agenda. After Netanyahu’s Likud Party won March 17 elections with 30 seats, it seemed he would have a relatively easy time forming a coalition and serving a fourth term as prime minister. But the six-week negotiating process, which expired at midnight, turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated as rival coalition partners and members of the Likud jockeyed for influential Cabinet ministries. “I am sure that nobody is surprised that the negotiations continued with all the factions and nobody is surprised it ended at the time it did,” Netanyahu said late Wednesday. He vowed to install “a strong and stable government for the people of Israel” by next week, yet also hinted he would court additional partners in the near future. “Sixty-one is a good number, and 61-plus is an even better number,” he said. “But it starts at 61 and we will begin. We have a lot of work ahead of us.” The coalition talks stalled this week when Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a longtime partner of Netanyahu’s, unexpectedly stepped down and announced his secular nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party was joining the opposition. That left Continue Reading