Deejay Alan Field cued up an Engelbert Humperdinck CD the other day and rolled his chair back from the console.
"I began my career in a building that looked like a garage. Now I'm really working in one," he joked, sweeping his arm around the "studio" of WHLP-AM (1360).
Indeed it is a garage, in a typical suburban house in Baltimore County, home of the station's chief engineer. As Mr. Field worked, he could see a motorcycle parked along one wall, spare tires stacked against another and an extension ladder hanging on hooks.
"You can either laugh or cry, and it's better to laugh," said midday deejay Ken Jackson, arriving for his 10 a.m. stint.
But the makeshift quarters in Timonium are temporary. The station that bills itself as playing "the music you love from the people you know" takes up new studio space next week in the Radisson Lord Baltimore Hotel, says co-manager Jim Ward.
1360 is the new dial location for the on-air personalities who departed last month from WITH-AM (1230) under a new partnership called Penny Lane Broadcasting, established by Mr. Ward, former WITH sales manager Paul Kopelke and local investors.
The station has also gone to a 24-hour schedule by hiring a midnight-to-6 a.m. deejay, Rochel.
"The guys had some fun on the air with working in the garage," said Mr. Ward, noting that the station's broadcast signal, sent to its remote transmitter by a simple phone line, at times had to compete with neighbors cutting their lawns.
And then there were two.
Many listeners were distressed just a few months ago to contemplate the departure of the nostalgia and big band sound from local airwaves, because of the announced sale of WITH to a Bethesda-based company that intended to do children's programming here.
But since the launch of WHLP, a similar big band-nostalgia sound has also been maintained on WITH.
What gives? The contracted sale of the station from James McCotter of Orlando, Fla., to Capital Kids Radio Co. has not been consummated.
Although the Federal Communications Commission has approved the sale, two scheduled closing dates have come and gone, including Wednesday this week, without Mr. McCotter's participation, said Lawrence Kessner, co-owner of Capital Kids Radio. May 15 is the deadline for closure.
"We are still intending to be on the air in Baltimore the 15th. We're fully prepared to go," he said, indicating that the company would seek a court order to force execution of the contract.
Mr. McCotter's Baltimore attorney, Chris Fritz, said yesterday he could not comment on the matter and referred inquiries to his client, who was not immediately available for comment.
Voices on the move:
* Deejay Chris Emry, formerly of WBSB-FM (104.3) and before that WIYY-FM (97.9), is doing the morning show on Annapolis-based WXZL-FM (103.1). The station, previously WHVY-FM, changed its identity to Rock 103 and boosted its signal to 6,000 watts late last year to target the Baltimore rock audience.
* Don O'Brien, also formerly with WBSB-FM as well as WYST-FM (92.1) and most recently heard briefly on WCBM-AM (680), is doing the weekday 2 p.m.-to-7 p.m. shift on WOCQ-FM (103.9) in Ocean City. He also continues as the weekend weatherman for WMAR-TV (Channel 2).
* George Gipe, former weekend man, last month took over the daily 7 p.m.-to-midnight slot at Classic Rock WGRX-FM (100.7), and former Metro Traffic reporter "Captain" Jack Taylor became the weekend announcer for the station.