What's going on at WVRT-FM (104.3)? At least two more jTC weeks of constant repetition of five songs, as Capitol Broadcasting flushes out all the old listeners of Variety 104 in preparation for a new, as yet unannounced format due Jan. 10.
"We are trying to tell listeners that the format they like is up the dial," says Ardie Gregory, general manager of WWMX-FM (106.5), the variety station whose owner bought out rival WVRT.
All but two of WVRT's 22 employees lost their jobs Dec. 6.
Since Monday of this week, listeners to 104.3 have heard a numbing five-song rotation of wildly disparate songs, from rap to rock -- including Barry Manilow, Debbie Boone, Billy Ray Cyrus and Led Zeppelin.
"Format under construction," says an announcement between songs, urging listeners seeking variety to tune in to 106.5.
The five songs will change next week, said Ms. Gregory, and
another five will be heard the week of Jan. 3.
Some holiday programs of note:
* WBAL-AM (1090) breaks into 20 hours of seasonal songs at 6 o'clock tonight. "WBAL's Christmas Carol" continues until 2 p.m. tomorrow, at which time former first lady Barbara Bush and other celebrities will read stories for youngsters in the annual "Children's Christmas Story Time." Then, at 6 p.m., a 12-hour special, "The Magic of Christmas," begins.
* The Texaco-Metropolitan Opera broadcast offers a Christmas presentation tomorrow of Rossini's comic "Il Barbiere de Siviglia" ("The Barber of Seville"), at 1:30 p.m. on WBJC-FM (91.5).
The show's intermission, with host Edward Downes, offers "A Met Christmas," highlighting holiday performances by Met singers past and present.
* The nostalgic "Echoes of the Past" program heard every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. on WTMD-FM (89.7), with host Ken Schreiber, features a selection of Christmas vocal group recordings of the 1950s and '60s tomorrow, including such artists as Dion, Fats Domino and Bobbie Vee.
* And looking ahead a week, John Tegler of the "Jazz Straight Ahead" program, heard Wednesday nights on WEAA-FM (88.9), says his annual New Year's Eve special of vintage radio celebrations is again planned on the station Dec. 31. It will include an hour from 8 p.m. to 9p.m. devoted to the Count Basie Orchestra and current leader Frank Foster, and a collection of big band and jazz performances, call-in interviews and guest wishes from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Announcing some sad departures:
* Merrie Street, news director at WPOC-FM (93.1) for more than 16 years, was let go last month by the station and has gone to work as Congressional press secretary to Rep. Helen D. Bentley, the Baltimore County Republican who also is running for governor.
* The quipping couple, Donna Hamilton and David Paulson, had their last Saturday-morning talk show on WBAL-AM (1090) last week. The station has expanded "The Dan Rodricks Show" from 7 a.m. to noon.