Category Archives: Radio

Tom McLaren, pioneer Erie public broadcaster, passes

Friends and fans are remembering Tom McLaren, a voice that defined public radio in Erie, who died on Monday at the age of 82.

Tom McLaren, 1930-2012

Tom McLaren, 1930-2012

Quite the Renaissance man, Tom was a ordained Presbyterian minister, English professor, classical and jazz music aficionado, and extensive traveler. Viewers of WQLN’s 54.3 channel will often hear Tom’s voice on many of the documentaries the station produced in the 1980’s and 90’s, which are currently played in rotation.

WQLN’s Tom New shares a few highlights of the mark Tom McLaren left on the station:

Tom began working at WQLN on February 7, 1974 host of Sunrise Classics.

He was promoted to station manager of WQLN Radio in 1983. He held that job until his retirement on July 27, 2001.

For the past 11 years Tom has been WQLN’s chief archivist of our station history project, organizing video, audio and print images.

When Tom began working at WQLN Radio we were playing multiple formats from four remote studios. Our main studio in Summit Township featured mostly classical music; we played soul music from our studio in the Erie Opportunities Industrialization Center, jazz from Mercyhurst College, and a mixed bag from Edinboro State College. Tom pulled all of the remote locations back to our main studio and corralled all of our formats into News, Classics, and Jazz.

Tom was most known for his voice. It was perfect. His pronunciation, tone and diction were for markets much larger than Erie.

Viewing is at Burton’s, 26th & Powell on Friday with the funeral Saturday at Wayside Presbyterian Church. Our condolences to the McLaren family and the entire WQLN community.

Happi 92-7 HD becomes Erie’s third CHR

The stunting is done and the thumping bass line has begun.

Happi 92-7 HD

Friday at noon WEHP/Lawrence Park-Erie became CHR Happi 92-7 HD. The launch song was Nicki Minaj’s “Va Va Voom,” followed by LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It.” Erie Radio Company partner Rick Rambaldo told the Erie Times-News that Happi would be “Erie’s new No. 1 hit spot.”

The previously mentioned website Happi927.com is not functional at this point, but the station is promoting their Facebook page.

WEHP is targeting WRTS’s market-leading radio shares, and has to also deal with WXKC-HD2 on the i104.3 translator. Happi becomes the second Erie market FM to adopt the HD IBOC technology.

So here’s the format run-down on the commercial FM band in the Erie metro (not including translators):

  • 1 – AC (WXKC-HD1)
  • 1 – Adult Hits (WXBB)
  • 2 – Country (WTWF, WXTA)
  • 3 – CHR (WEHP, WRTS, WXKC-HD2)
  • 2 – Christian (WCGM, WCTL)
  • 2 – Classic Rock (WQHZ, WRKT)

Editor’s Note: Special Thanks to Chet LaPrice for sharing his recording of WEHP’s sign-on with the We rocked Erie in the 20th Century Facebook group.

H.A.P.P.Y. Radio lights up 92.7

THURSDAY UPDATE…female voice saying to tune in “Tomorrow at Noon…you won’t be disappointed.” So it’s Friday at 12:00 for the debut of Happi Radio 92.7.

WEDNESDAY UPDATE…Lance Venta from RadioInsight.com is reporting that 92.7 will end up being “Happi Radio 92.7” a new CHR station for the Erie area. He mentions the domain registration of Happi92.7.com and ErieRadioCompany.com by Aaron Conley of Edinboro. The station continues to add more “Happy” elements to its stunting loop…could be any day now.

UPDATE…the stunting continues with Shiny Happy People (1991) by REM added to the loop. Evidently, we will be “Happy” with whatever WEHP turns out to be.

First Channel Communications Erie Radio Company LLC, the partnership of Rick Rambaldo and Dave Hallman Jr., have lit up the transmitter for their new WEHP 92.7/Lawrence Park.

Friday afternoon (11/9) they were stunting with a loop of the 1979 disco hit H.A.P.P.Y. Radio by Edwin Starr. They are broadcasting in HD with a dual ID as part of the loop.

More as we monitor…

Cumulus sets “I” on Star’s market leading ratings with new 104.3 CHR

i104.3“You’re in the middle of 10,000 in a row.” A far cry from the K104-play, huh.

But 10,000 songs non-stop launched the new i104.3 on Wednesday afternoon at 1:00, the translator of WXKC-HD2, which is a new CHR competitor to perennial market leader, Connoisseur Media’s WRTS/Star 104. The 173 watt station originates from the WICU downtown tower and covers the city well.

This signal was originally at 104.9, and years ago was a translator constructed by the late Dr. John Duda of Gannon University, and rebroadcasted the classical format station out of Cleveland to Glenwood Hills. It was then given to Mercyhurst College to aid Erie listeners to hear WMCE when it was lower power. Most recently, Cumulus purchased it, with the conventional wisdom thinking that it would be an FM outlet for ESPN Sports 1260. However, with the launch of Erie’s first HD radio station on WXKC, they put this new “i” format CHR on the HD2 channel and they are now translating that on 104.3.

It was inevitable that Star would get a head-to-head competitor. What will be interesting is if Cumulus staffs the new station with all out-of-market personalities or not. We’ll have to wait to see…by my calculations it will take over 30 days to get through those 10,000 songs in a row.

Editors Note: I have not been able to scan in the WXKC HD digital signal on my Mighty Red HD radio. Finally tuned WXKC-HD 1 & 2 and they sound great. If you have an HD radio and picked up the HD1 and now HD2 signals, I’d love to hear from you.

Fall ARB: Erie radio market tightens


WJET-AM up in the Fall 2011 ratings

Fall 2011 radio ratings released Tuesday show a diversification of listeners among Erie stations, with all but one of the subscribing Connoisseur Media stations losing shares.

Arbitron, the media measurement company, made only Connoisseur’s 12+ shares public today, as the other local stations do not subscribe to the service.

What we do know is that FM standard bearers WRTS (Star 104), WXBB (Bob FM), and WRKT (Rocket 101) all experienced their lowest shares in four books, with only WJET-AM recovering from a spring ratings dip. The final station in the cluster WFNN did not show once again.

Although it’s difficult to analyze trends when you are looking at less than half of the listening, it is easy to gather that beyond the trend to listen to sources off the dial, there are now more choices on the dial that are competing for time spent listening. Add to it the nearly non-existent promotional and advertising budgets, and your product will lose market share.

As we get more information on the lay of the land in radio, we will share in an appropriate manner.

You can see the rankers at AllAccess.com (registration required).

Get ready for Rocket 105

As noted in the Facebook group, “We rocked Erie in the 20th Century!”, on Tuesday, Connoisseur Media of Erie received a Construction Permit from the FCC for a Minor Change of facilities to move WRKT/North East (Rocket 101) from 100.9 to 104.9 FM. They will also put their antenna on the WRTS tower in Greene Township with a full Class B1 non-directional signal 15 miles closer to the city of Erie from their current tower site in Ripley, NY.

This huge move comes in the middle of a timeline of major changes to the landscape of the FM dial that began in late 2011 with the move-in of Family Life Network’s WCGM, with a Class A signal on 102.7 that moved from Clarendon to Wattsburg. They continue into the new year with the launch of First Channel Communications 92.7/Lawrence Park sometime in 2012. Finally, Family Life has a CP for Gannon WERG’s old 89.9 frequency, now permitted for Cambridge Springs, with a tower location in Edinboro.

Of course, with all but one of these new frequencies is the strong certainty of format. Rocket will be classic rock, and FLN will continue its light contemporary Christian and talk format. What we are  uncertain on but have a good hunch is the format for the 92.7 station. The lead format horse in that derby is a direct CHR/Top 40 competitor to Star 104.

We’ll keep listening for details on all these upcoming changes to a radio near you.

What does the National Emergency Alert test mean to me?

Perhaps you’ve been seeing and hearing announcements about an upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System on your local TV, radio and cable stations and networks.  Well, conspiracy theories about black helicopters and those colored detour signs on the interstates aside, we have all the facts about the test and there’s nothing to worry about.

First, when is it?
The first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will take place on November 9, 2011 at 2 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

What’s it for?

From the FCC:

The purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS as a public alert mechanism. EAS Participants currently participate in state-level monthly tests and local-level weekly tests, but no top-down review of the entire system has ever been undertaken. The Commission, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will use the results of this nationwide test to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS as a public alert mechanism, and will work together with EAS stakeholders to make improvements to the system as appropriate.

According to the NAB, the EAS system has never been tested on a national scale before, and officials want to make a go of it, see what works, what doesn’t, and create a baseline from where they can make improvements.

What else can you tell me?

The test will be conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The test will start at approximately 2 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) and will last approximately 60 seconds.

Then it’s back to Dr. Oz, the soaps, your Law and Order reruns, or your favorite 200 song playlist station.