It was a year that featured the FM band being rediscovered like the progressive music era of the late 1960s.
ESPN took the lead in April by moving (after simulcasting) WEPN/1050 to 98.7. The 1050 position has since become New York’s only 24-hour Spanish sports talk outlet.
It was a surprise to no one, that CBS Radio expedited its quest for an FM station, when Merlin’s ill-fated news operation, turned Alternative Rocker, became available in October. WFAN is now simulcast on 660 and 101.9.
As for Merlin, it yanked the 24-hour FM news attempt (WEMP) in July–less than a year after it started. Merlin returned to its previous format held by Emmis, and continuing the “Bobby Ewing shower scene” theme, management even resurrected the WRXP call letters.
Other radio doings during 2012, include Geraldo Rivera turning to the medium early in 2012 at WABC. By summertime, the veteran TV host was syndicated to Cumulus stations nationwide.
In August, Clear Channel acquired WOR. As the FCC signed off on the deal, two shows were canceled last week, Dr Joy Browne and Governor David Paterson. This remains a fluid story heading into 2013.
TV also had its share of shakeups. In certain instances you could say this was management’s version of “Out with old and in the new.”
Sue Simmons (above), who had a lifetime of memories at WNBC, was not renewed. She had 32 years at Channel 4, surpassed only by her long on-air partner, Chuck Scarborough. Simmons, 70, ended her career at 30 Rock in June. Although Scarborough (a few months younger than Simmons) remains, Sue’s successor was the 30-something Shiba Russell. By an 8 to 1 margin. the Simmons shake-up was our reader’s choice for Top FishbowlNY Moment of 2012.
Another case of potential ageism occurred at WNYW in July. Like Chuck and Sue, Ernie Anastos, part of the pantheon of great New York anchors, was cut from his 10 p.m. news broadcast. With 34 years in the nation’s top market, this was the first time viewers could not rely on Anastos, 69, for that station’s late night news. Instead, Channel 5 brass opted for morning anchor Greg Kelly, 44, who brought a slightly unorthodox style to the evening newscast.
However, the year didn’t start off as positive for the police commissioner’s son. Kelly was entangled in an ugly rape accusation that led to his taking some time off while the story and investigation swirled in the media, including on WNYW.
A month later, Kelly was back on Good Day New York as the rape charges were dropped.
Jodi Applegate announced in November that she needed to walk away from WPIX to prepare for her first child with Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay. Apparently, Applegate was willing to cut back to just one newscast, but management wanted their solo anchor at 5 and 10 p.m. She closed her Channel 11 career last week, 26 months after it began.
Speaking of WPIX, that station was locked in a fierce battle with Cablevision over retransmission fees. In the end, WPIX viewers were caught in the crossfire, losing the over-the-air Channel 11 signal for more than two months.