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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Long Island Gets Its Own News-Talk Station

WRCN-FM is giving Long Island’s news junkies a post-Christmas Day gift.

Effective Thursday morning, Dec. 26, the Ronkonkoma-based WRCN-FM, found at 103.9 on the dial, will convert to an all-news and talk station from one which had, for the past few weeks, exclusively played Christmas music. Its target audience is Nassau and Suffolk residents wanting to know the day’s breaking stories, and the latest weather and traffic information. WRCN-FM’s all-news format will be supplemented by news-driven talk programs and live coverage of New York Islanders and Long Island Ducks games.

“Give me 10 minutes, and I’ll give you Long Island,” said John Caracciolo, president and CEO of JVC Broadcasting, the owner of WRCN-FM, as well as Long Island’s WJVC-FM, 96.1, a country music outlet; WBON-FM, 98.5, a Spanish-language music station; and WPTY-FM, 105.3, which specializes in dance music.

WRCN-FM’s news anchors, and many of its talk show hosts, will work out of a sound-proofed studio at Long Island MacArthur Airport, in Ronkonkoma. Weekday programming will begin at 5 a.m., with five hours of live news. Nassau and Suffolk traffic and weather updates will be delivered in the morning rush-hours every five minutes, on the fives (e.g., five minutes after the hour, 10 minutes after the hour). New York City’s all-news stations—WINS-AM, 1010 and WCBS-AM, 880—deliver traffic and weather updates on the ones and eights, respectively.

Jay Oliver, formerly of Riverhead-based WRIV-AM, 1390, will serve as WRCN-FM’s morning drive-time co-anchor along with an on-air colleague who had yet to be appointed as of this writing. The station’s talent search had been narrowed down to three women finalists, Caracciolo said, during our recent conversation.

Meanwhile, out in the field, WRCN-FM will rely on on-scene reporting from professional broadcasters as well as those aspiring to be one, with the station having recruited accomplished students from the journalism programs at Hofstra University and Stony Brook University, to join the on-air team.

Once the weekday morning rush has ended, WRCN-FM will continue to provide news updates at the top, and the bottom, of the hour, but will also offer a mix of syndicated programming and local talk shows. From 10 a.m. to noon, for instance, WRCN-FM will carry the final two hours of Brian Kilmeade’s nationally-syndicated Kilmeade & Friends radio program. A Massapequa resident, Kilmeade starts his weekday mornings as a television co-host of Fox & Friends, on the Fox News Channel (FNC).

Former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy will then take WRCN-FM listeners through the next two hours, hosting a live weekday talk show from noon to 2 p.m. John Gomez, a talk radio veteran and the Republican Congressional nominee in 2010 against Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), will preside over the WRCN-FM’s airwaves from 2 to 3 p.m., followed by Sean Hannity’s nationally-syndicated program, from 4 to 7 p.m. Like Kilmeade, Hannity is a Fox News Channel personality, with an FNC program which airs on weekdays at 10 p.m.

Mark Levin, chief of staff to the U.S. attorney general in the Reagan administration and a national figure on the talk radio scene, can be heard starting this week on WRCN-FM from 7 to 9 p.m. The 9 to 10 p.m. hour will dbe set aside for local programming, with one night (Monday) dedicated to conversations about Long Island’s restaurant scene, for instance, and another (Wednesday) to golf. The syndicated Jim Bohannon show will air from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., and then Overnight America, another program heard nationally, is slated for the 1 to 5 a.m. slot.

“It is all about content,” Caracciolo explained. “We’re going to be a combination of News Radio 880 and News 12 Long Island.” That’s music to the ears of Nassau’s news radio fans.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net