Variety 104.3 is what else? now WVRT

AIRCHECK

January 22, 1993|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Baltimore's Variety 104.3 has been granted FCC approval to change its call letters to reflect the format change it made 11 months ago.

Thus WBSB-FM this week became WVRT-FM, the better to emphasize its "variety" identity tag. And on-air announcements have also begun calling the sound "continuous soft rock," says promotions manager John Pavlos, "to better describe what we mean by the name 'variety.' "

However, he said the station's music remains essentially the same as when the station switched last February from its longtime top 40 sound (as B-104) to seek a somewhat older audience.

"Our call letters are just finally catching up to the change," he says.

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Speaking of format changes, re-tuning a radio station's sound in search of more listeners ranks as a regular broadcast business activity. The trade publication Inside Radio this week reported that 991 stations across the country changed formats in 1992, and 577 stations changed their call letters.

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Opera notes: Wagner's "Die Meistersinger" is this week's production on the "Texaco Metropolitan Opera International" broadcast, beginning a half-hour earlier than usual, at noon, on WBJC-FM (91.5). James Levine conducts and Peter Allen heads the commentary team.

And next week, Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" marks the Met broadcast debut of Sharon Sweet as Amelia.

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Dr. Jim Piraro, the conveyor of the weekly show "Musical Greetings from Italy" for the last 11 years on WITH-AM (1230), has found a new home on the dial in advance of the WITH format change due this spring.

Listen for the ethnic program Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. on WBMD-AM (750).

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High school hoops, as in scholastic basketball, occupies thousands of players and fans this time of year, and a weekly radio program now covers the scene. "High School Basketball Talk," with hosts Gary Stein and Tom Strickler, can be heard from 10 pm. to 1 a.m. Fridays on WCBM-AM (680).

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Clarification: An item in the previous Aircheck noted that former traffic announcer Jim Epperlein could be heard doing the afternoon news on WJFK-AM/FM (1300- 106.7). In fact, Mr. Epperlein was heard on JFK only for a couple weeks of vacation fill-in, and regular newscaster Buzz Burbank is back on the beat.

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National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu had a great line during NPR's coverage of this week's inauguration of President Clinton, heard on Wednesday's "All Things Considered."

He said he watched Barbara Bush take first dog Millie for her final stroll around the rose garden on inauguration day making him realize, "the White House is now becoming a cathouse."

The new pet occupant, of course, is the Clinton's tabby, Socks.

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