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ENTERCOM FIRES FOUR STAFFERS AT WGR, STAR 102

The job casualty list continues to grow in local radio, and on Tuesday four on-air personalities got the ax.

Joe Thomas and Pam Bunch, the morning team at WTSS-FM 102.5 (Star 102), were let go. Also getting pink slips were Doug Young and Ann Burke at WGR-AM 550. Both stations are owned by Entercom Communications Corp. of Philadelphia.

Entercom has been on a cost-cutting spree during recent months. The same company owns WBEN-AM 930 and last month unceremoniously fired morning man Bill Lacy, who had been there more than two decades.

Young, who worked mainly as a producer at WGR, also did morning sports at WBEN. He had been with the stations for 11 years. Thomas and Bunch had been on the air for the past couple years, as was Burke.

Greg Ried, general manager for Entercom in Buffalo, would give no information on the firings. He did say that Young and Burke would not be replaced. It's unknown who will replace Thomas and Bunch. An off-the-air production person also was fired on Tuesday. Earlier this month, reporter Emily Smith left WBEN for a job with a television station in Elmira.

"Everybody is absolutely paranoid about who will be the next to go," said a local source with Entercom. "Nobody's safe."

It has been a difficult time for two Entercom stations. WGR suffered a huge drop in ratings since it went to a sports/talk format last year. WWKB-AM 1520, another Entercom property, has been near the bottom of the ratings. The company also is stuck with expenses for new studios in Amherst to house their stations.

KB was supposed to switch from its current business/talk format to music earlier this year but, sources say, an Entercom executive in the home office killed the move when he found out about it.

Screams over sports talk

It's time for the monster mash at WNSA-FM 107.7.

The all-sports station is ditching its format for Halloween. Instead of filling the airwaves with talk of Rob Johnson, Doug Flutie and Eric Moulds, the focus will be on Frankenstein, the Wolfman and Dracula.

Right now, the Bills could probably use those three to scare the opposition. Regardless, WNSA will present the monster stories as they were originally broadcast in the good old days of radio drama. The special programming starts at 8 tonight. "Dracula" is of particular interest because it features the classic Mercury Theater Company version starring Orson Welles. He later went on to fame as a director and actor in such films as "Citizen Kane" and "Touch of Evil."

97 Rock, WGRF-FM 96.9, also is keeping in the holiday spirit by playing "haunted classic" songs from 5 p.m. until midnight.

e-mail: aviolanti@buffnews.com

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