WFEA's Patricia Robel in 1987
Patricia Robel

1985 WFEA logo

WFEA's Neil Jackson in 1981
Neil Jackson


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As the new year 1980 got underway, WFEA promoted sales manager Donn Parker to station manager, replacing Scott Norton. That fall Ocean Coast Properties transferred John Van Hoogenstyn to Manchester to become sales manager, from a similar post at its station in Portland, WPOR.

WFEA had a lock on the local contemporary music market. The on-air lineup was Neil Jackson (5:30-9:00AM), program director Rick Ryder (9:00AM-noon), music director Keith Lemire (noon-4:00PM), Maureen O'Brien (4:00-8:00PM) and Bob Wheeler (8:00PM-1:00AM).

For the first time since the 1950s, female voices were heard on WFEA during the 1980s in abundance. In addition to deejays April Love, Maureen O'Brien, Sheila O'Neil, and Cindy Brooks, female newscasters included Cynthia LaRose, Angela Curtis, Patricia Robel and Mary Dymon.

WFEA's Cindy Brooks in 1987
Cindy Brooks

WFEA's Patricia Robel in 1987
Patricia Robel

WFEA reporters Peter Clark & Dave Thibault
Peter Clark & Dave Thibault

WFEA's John Van Hoogenstyn
John Van Hoogenstyn

WFEA's Frank Adam
Frank Adam

WFEA's Rick Ryder
Rick Ryder

 

In November 1981 Donn Parker resigned to buy a station in Leominster, MA., so John Van Hoogenstyn was promoted to general manager. WFEA moderated its musical feel and switched from ABC's Contemporary Network to its Entertainment Network.

In early 1984 Van Hoogenstyn assumed other duties within Ocean Coast Properties and was replaced as WFEA station manager by Frank H. Adam.

Adam, in turn, was replaced as general manager in 1984 by Joseph Gunther. Joe's departure was quick, coming shortly after he accidentally set his office waste basket on fire.

Rick Ryder returned to WFEA in 1983 after a stay in Reading, PA. Named operations manager in the fall of 1985, Ryder promoted Keith Lemire to program director.

1984 WFEA logo

By the summer of 1986, Ocean Coast Properties had owned WFEA for 10 years. Only Henry Rines' New Hampshire Broadcasting Company, the original licensee, had owned the station longer (13 years).

On July 29, Ocean Coast announced it would sell WFEA for $1.45 million
to the Sunshine group of Portland, Maine. Sunshine's owner was George Silverman.

Sunshine Broadcasting of New Hampshire Inc. already owned WZID FM (95.7 MHz) in Manchester. WZID was born October 2, 1947 as WKBR FM and for all of the 1960s had competed against WFEA simulcasting WKBR AM's Top 40 music. In June 1971 WKBR FM became WZID; in 1975 it was sold by WKBR's owners and moved to a brand new building yards away from its former home along the Merrimack River in north Manchester. WZID spent the 1970s and first half of the 1980s amassing a huge audience with automated beautiful music and a minimal emphasis on personalities.

VOICES OF THE 1980s

Neil Jackson
Gary Lee Horn
Cynthia LaRose
Rick Ryder
April Love
Jeffrey Allen Lowe
Beau Weaver
Bob Wheeler
Jim Reed
Maureen O'Brien
Keith Lemire
Bill Maxwell
Sean Taylor
Dave Thibault
Bob Melvin
John Reynolds
Johnny Rogers
Eric Damon
Mike Yardley
Angela Curtis
Ron Scott
Ted Connors
Sheila O'Neil
Ed Foxx
Paul McGuire
Cindy Brooks
Peter Clark
Steven Dickinson
Mark Richards
Jay Michaels
Patricia Robel
Alan Peduzzi
Tom Holt
Red Robin
Ken Cail
Jim Bartlett
Pete Morrison
Daniel T. Guy
Konrad Kayne
Chris Tracy
Bob Bascomb
Carl Cameron
Mary Dymon
Brett Mallard

John Anthony

WFEA's Eric Damon
Eric Damon

 

WZID logo
Silverman's company bought WZID in 1984 and began a slow transition to a more contemporary sound. Manchester news veteran Alan Peduzzi, formerly of WKBR, and longtime WBZ Boston weatherman Don Kent were added to the lineup. WZID personalities included Tom Kallechey, Gary Hammond, Dan Colgan, Doug Boucher and operations manager Tom Holt (another ex-WKBR employee). The music formats of the two stations were similar enough that they simulcast their overnight shows, hosted by WZID's John Anthony.

Fast forward to July 29, 1986. Sunshine bought WFEA and announced plans to move both stations into a new property. George Silverman also announced plans for WFEA to take advantage of recently-approved FCC technology to convert to AM stereo (as a point of trivia, WFEA had a new jingle package cut in January 1987; it was recorded in stereo but the implementation of the technology was never completed). John Van Hoogenstyn made a return trip to Manchester from Portland, becoming WFEA's general manager. Tom Holt was named operations manager for both stations.

By October, renovations were underway on a newly-purchased, 6700 square foot office condo at 500 Commercial Street in downtown Manchester's historic millyard. Sunshine bought half of the top floor of the former Stark Picker's Mill. WZID moved in first, between Christmas and New Year's; WFEA followed in January.

1987 WFEA ad for Paul Harvey
1987 WFEA ad for Jim Bartlett
1987 WFEA ad for Dan Guy
 

For the first time in its history WFEA was able to take advantage of the resources of a sister station.

Don Kent's weather forecasts were added to WFEA and in March, 1987, two Manchester news veterans were signed to both stations. Morning news was reported by former WMUR TV anchorman Jim Bartlett; afternoon news was anchored by former WFEA/WKBR reporter Pete Morrison. Bartlett and Morrison both held full-time jobs with the State of New Hampshire but were able to arrange their hours to accommodate part-time news positions.

Alan Peduzzi oversaw what was marketed as a news staff of six, including WFEA holdover Peter Clark and newly-hired sportscaster Ken Cail, well-known for nine years at WGIR AM.

By March WFEA's operations manager and morning man, Rick Ryder, was gone. He was replaced on the air by Tom Holt until Merrimack Valley veteran air personality Daniel T. Guy was hired.

Ken Cail's stay was short; he left in August to host a satellite-delivered sports talk show in Boston. But he returned in June of 1988 as WFEA sports director and quickly became host of the morning show.

WFEA's Ken Cail
Ken Cail

WFEA's Tom Holt
Tom Holt

WFEA's Chris Tracy
Chris Tracy

 

Bob Bascomb

Konrad Kayne


Alan Peduzzi

In October 1988, Steve Newcombe was appointed general manager of both WFEA and WZID. Both stations sustained an unexpected blow when afternoon news anchor Pete Morrison died of complications from a heart attack on November 7th; he was only 46.

In November, Bob Bascomb was hired as WFEA's afternoon driver.

In January 1989 Tom Holt resigned to join a station in upstate New York. In June, Kathleen Allen replaced Steve Newcombe as general manager.

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