WDEL goes to FM, will broadcast on 101.7 FM

By Amy Cherry 3:25pm, March 26, 2015 - Updated 3:33pm, March 26, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
Delaware's most-listened-to station for news, traffic, and weather, is going to FM.

Next Thursday, Delawareans will be able to hear WDEL loud and clear on the 101.7 FM signal.

"The increase in coverage for us on 101.7 FM really will deliver audiences out in towards the Yorklyn, Hockessin, parts of Newark that inherently have been tough of any radio station to get into," said Mike Reath, General Manager of WDEL/WSTW.

The announcement came Thursday with state officials on-hand for the kick-off of Small Business Saturdays at WDEL and WSTW's expanded studios in Brandywine Hundred.

Listeners will also find an increased availability of WDEL on 101.7 FM downstate in Dover and other parts of northern Kent County.

"We even had a report from somebody that they were able to hear it loud and clear in Milford," said Reath.

For the tens of thousands of people, who have grown up as loyal listeners of 1150 AM WDEL for decades, nothing will change. Reath, who also serves as the Vice President of Delmarva Broadcasting, WDEL and WSTW's parent company, said what a listener hears on 101.7 FM will be a complete simulcast of 1150 AM WDEL's content that aims to bring in a younger and larger audience.

"So we have some folks, that have never really visited the AM band, they've grown up on FM, and we know that we're missing that group of listeners," Reath said. "We're just increasing the size of that microphone, that amplifier to deliver our content to hundreds of thousands of additional folks."

For some, tuning into 101.7 FM next week, Reath expects this to be the first time they've heard WDEL's content and commitment to the First State.

"Covering city council meetings, covering issues that affect crime in the city, county council meetings, high school football games, high school basketball games," he said. "Content you can't find anywhere else on the dial is a tremendous draw to the station and to the state."

Reath called the the $3.25 million deal an "investment in Delaware." Delmarva Broadcasting purchased the 101.7 FM frequency from QC Communications when it went on the market last fall. 101.7 FM currently broadcasts hip hop music on KISS 101.7 FM.

Through the deal, Delmarva Broadcasting also acquired Faith 1510 AM which will continue to play gospel music. KISS on-air personality, KMonta, will host a talk show on WDEL at 6 p.m. on Sundays.

The switch will flip from hip hop to news on 101.7 FM on April 2.

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Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @acherry13.


More than a dozen injured in New York City fire, building collapse

By Associated Press 5:44pm, March 26, 2015
A building collapse and fire injures more than a dozen in Manhattan. (NBC 10)
Smoke from a fire and building collapse in Manhattan's East Village can be seen and smelled for miles as more than 100 firefighters try to quell the blaze.

The Fire Department of New York said at least 12 people have been hurt, three critically. The smoke from the blaze has spread from the downtown New York University area to midtown Manhattan, where office workers can smell it inside their buildings.

Investigators are looking into whether there was a gas leak. A spokesman for utility Con Edison said crews are at the scene and will start their investigation after firefighters get the blaze under control.

Local resident Paul Schoengold said he was walking two blocks away when he heard an "incredibly loud" roar.

Soon, he saw flames shooting up as much as 50 feet from the roof.



Prosecutor: Germanwings co-pilot 'intentionally' crashed plane

By Associated Press 6:11pm, March 26, 2015
A French prosecutor said only a deliberate action by the co-pilot of a doomed Germanwings plane could have kept the pilot from regaining access.

The co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, is now believed to have deliberately flown the plane into a mountain, after locking the pilot out. The pilot had left, presumably to go to the lavatory. The crash killed all 150 people on board.

The Airbus A320 is designed with safeguards to allow emergency entry if a pilot inside is unresponsive. But the override code that is known to the crew does not go into effect - and indeed goes into a lockdown - if the person inside the cockpit specifically denies entry. That's according to an Airbus training video and a pilot who has six years of experience with the jets.

In the United States, in the aftermath of 9/11, airlines are required to have two people in the cockpit at all times. If a pilot or co-pilot leaves, another crew member enters the cockpit until that person returns.

But airlines in Europe don't have the same requirement.


Delaware increases penalties for terror threats

By Shana O'Malley 6:11pm, March 26, 2015
Delaware lawmakers have passed a bill that will increase penalties for those who make terror threats that cause the evacuation of a building or public transportation.

Senate Bill 6 stems from a 2013 bomb threat at the New Castle County Courthouse.

Cpl. Eugene McKenna with the Fraternal Order of Police said 5,000 people had to be evacuated while police investigated that threat.

"This included judges, prosecutors, defendants, victims, witnesses and jurors," he said.

He said threats are expensive to investigate, and evacuations could cause people to get hurt.

The legislation will increase the penalty for threats from a Class G felony to a Class E felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The bill cleared both the House and Senate and heads to the governor's desk for his signature.


Lab-confirmed cases of flu in Delaware surpass previous record at 2,309

By DJ McAneny 11:20am, March 26, 2015 - Updated 12:14pm, March 26, 2015
With a total of 2,309 lab-confirmed flu cases to date, Delaware has officially surpassed the number of official cases from the record-breaking swine flu season of 2009-2010, the Delaware Division of Public Health announced Thursday.

The H1N1 outbreak that season reached 2,247. This current season has already set records with the number of fatalities associated with the disease, currently standing at 28. That's four times the most recent high, also from 2009-2010, of seven.

"Flu is a highly unpredictable disease and very easy to take for granted since it is constantly with us," said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. "No one could have predicted this year would be so deadly or include so many cases. Flu's annual presence and unpredictability is what makes precautions and prevention efforts every year so important."

Officials from the DPH warned Delaware residents that, as the season winds down, it is still important to remember to take precautions and steps for prevention. Washing hands regularly, staying home when ill, and contacting medical providers if flu symptoms are spotted, are all paramount.



Governor, chamber officials kick off 'Small Business Saturdays' campaign

By Tom Lehman 2:49pm, March 26, 2015 - Updated 3:49pm, March 26, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Tom Lehman reports
State and chamber of commerce officials stopped by Delmarva Broadcasting Company's brand new expansion in Brandywine Hundred on Thursday to announce a marketing effort to encourage more residents to shop at small businesses throughout the year.

The "Small Business Saturdays" campaign is being used to promote local commerce on the first Saturday of each month, expanding upon an existing initiative held nationally on the day after Black Friday.

Governor Jack Markell (D) said large employers are a major part of Delaware's economy but he wants smaller businesses and firms to be successful as well.

"We know that if a company grows from three to six people, those are three more of our neighbors that have a better future, they have a better life," he said.

Rich Heffron, President of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the importance of small businesses in Delaware's economy during the news conference. The Small Business Administration reports there are about 74,000 of such firms in the state.

"They're the people who innovate. They're the people who drive the economy. They're the people who wake up at 2 a.m. and ask, 'Am I going to make payroll this week?'" Heffron said.

Paula Janssen of Janssen's Market in Greenville said she was appreciative of the effort to support small businesses.

"When you are supporting your small businesses, you are supporting your community," Janssen said.

Delmarva Broadcasting Company, the parent company of WDEL 1150 AM and 101.7 FM (beginning April 2) and 93.7 FM WSTW, is supporting the initiative with a $100,000 promotional campaign.

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You can contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook


EnviroWatch: Rain barrels conserve water in Delaware

By Shana O'Malley 3:29pm, March 26, 2015 - Updated 3:50pm, March 26, 2015
photo courtesy of DNREC
Spring is here, which means it's time to get busy in the garden.

As gardeners prepare for lush blooms and green lawns, they might want to consider using a rain barrel to keep gardens hydrated in the spring and summer months.

"A rain barrel collects runoff from the roof of your home and reserves it for a later date," said Sharon Webb, an environmental scientist for the Delaware Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Control.

Webb said the barrels promote water conservation and keep runoff water from picking up pollutants like lawn fertilizers and garbage before it heads to local storm drains, streams and rivers.

Most standard rain barrels hold 50 to 80 gallons of water at a time, and can save hundreds of gallons of water a season. The "free" water can be used for a variety of chores.

"You can wash your car, water plants, flowers, your lawn," Webb added.

Many gardeners believe rain water is better than tap water for plants because it contains less minerals.

"I have found, just personally, that the plants around my home look better with rain water as opposed to water just out of my tap," Webb said.

Barrels can be found at most lawn and garden stores or you can make your own using an outdoor garbage can.

Make your own rain barrel/DNREC
Click to interact

Barrels can be used in the spring, summer and fall and should be stored indoors or turned upside down in the winter to prevent warping or cracking.

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Contact Shana O’Malley at somalley@dbcmedia.com or follow her on Twitter at @shanaomalley


Controversial $225K county grant to Wilmington firefighters not part of budget

By Tom Lehman 6:18pm, March 25, 2015 - Updated 11:28am, March 26, 2015
Wilmington firefighters try to suppress a fire inside a sandwich shop that damaged the building enough to prompt its condemnation. (NBC 10/File)
A controversial $225,000 grant that was awarded annually to the Wilmington Fire Department in the previous two years is not included in a budget proposal for New Castle County's upcoming fiscal year, leaving some in the city government wondering how the agency will deal with the unexpected shortfall.

New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon (D) said he decided not to include the grant because he didn't think it would be supported by county council at a time when the government was under tough financial constraints. Some members have unsuccessfully tried to remove the funding from the previous two budgets, arguing the city should handle the financial burden itself.

"I think the will of council right now was not to do that, but things could change," Gordon said, noting that stronger revenue could lead to his reinstating the grant.

The county executive's decision to not propose the funding was not announced during his budget address Tuesday night and word of the development caught some city officials by surprise, including Wilmington Fire Chief Anthony Goode. He was shocked to hear about the development and said his department had anticipated receiving the funds as part of the department's $24.3 million budget planned for Fiscal Year 2016.

The grant money has primarily been used to offset overtime costs accrued by city firefighters.

"Budgets are a tight thing and to streamline your budget you have to do what you have to do," Goode said. "Unfortunately for us, it looks like we're going to be on the back end of this."

Given previous debates over the grant, County Councilman Penrose Hollins (D-Wilmington North) wasn't overly surprised with Gordon's position.

"I don't think it's anything that anyone anticipated being a permanent feature of the New Castle County budget," he said.

Gordon emphasized that the county would still support the city's public safety agencies when necessary. For instance, he said, county police officers have been assisting city law enforcement with coverage over the last several weeks and that the department would continue to offer help should Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings ask for it.

The city is also partners with county volunteer fire companies in a mutual aid agreement that has led to firefighters crossing boundaries to assist with emergencies that require additional support.

"We're very much involved in helping the City of Wilmington succeed," Gordon said.

City Spokeswoman Alexandra Coppadge said in a statement that Mayor Dennis Williams (D) could empathize with the Gordon administration's choice and the fire department would work to avoid using conditional company closures. The cost-cutting procedures involve temporarily shuttering a fire engine on a rotating basis, a method that some firefighters and officials have said increases response time to emergencies and potentially endangers lives.

"While the $225,000 provided a substantial impact in supporting overtime costs for the fire department, Mayor Williams recognizes County Executive Gordon may be facing fiscal restraints that require him to make difficult choices," Coppadage said.

However, Goode said conditional company closures could not be ruled out.

"It's about people's safety, the public's safety and we gotta' do what we can do with the finances that we have to provide that," he said.

Gordon also threatened to revoke the grant last year while city council members clashed with the Williams administration over $511,000 in proposed budget cuts that would have eliminated eight then-vacant positions in the fire department.

City lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to defeat the mayor's veto of the reduction, but the county executive---with the backing of many county council members---was prepared to withhold the allocation if the override had passed.

Wilmington Councilwoman Loretta Walsh (D-At Large) said the disappearing funds illustrated why she and other members had called for the cuts.

"That's what we were trying to say over a year ago, that we need to have to start living within our own means and not relying on others to save us all the time," she said. "They should have known this day was coming."

City Councilman Mike Brown (R-At Large), who heads Wilmington's public safety committee, said he would be curious to see how Goode and administration officials would deal with the absence of the grant.

"We'll just have to see during the budget time how it is that they're planning on making up those lost dollars if they were dependent on them," he said.

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You can contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook


CDC to release results of Wilmington violence study

By Shana O'Malley 10:07pm, March 25, 2015 - Updated 11:32am, March 26, 2015
VIDEO: Wilmington City Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz talks about the need for the CDC study
The findings from a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study on Wilmington's violent crime will soon be released.

The CDC conducted a study last summer at the request of Wilmington City Council after the city saw a record 154 shootings in 2013.

CDC officials conducted interviews and reviewed health records to study the pandemic of violence, particularly among young African American men.

Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz (D-District 4) said she's hoping the results will help policymakers better understand the root cause of the violence so they can implement the most effective change.

"I've been waiting with bated breath to see what their findings are," she said. "I'm even more excited to hear what the state is going to do about those findings and how we're going to collectively work at all three levels of governments to address it and to correct it and make our neighborhoods heal."

The results will be released to state and local officials in a private meeting Friday.

In 2012, the CDC studied a rash of teen suicides in Delaware, prompting the state to hire additional middle school counselors.


U.S. Marshals arrest alleged Puerto Rico murder fugitive in Wilmington

By DJ McAneny 12:54pm, March 26, 2015 - Updated 3:33pm, March 26, 2015
The U.S. Marshal's Task Force arrested a 20-year-old Wilmington man Wednesday and charged him with murder, authorities announced Thursday.

According to Wilmington Police, Jorge Alberto Marrero-Negron was taken into custody in the 100 block of North Harrison Street without incident.

Police said a search warrant executed at the residence led to the recovery of a shotgun.

Marrero-Negron was held on a fugitive warrant pending extradition to Puerto Rico, where the originating crime allegedly took place, according to authorities.

No photo of the suspect was available Thursday afternoon.


Wilmington teen caught with semi-automatic handgun and extended mag, according to police

By DJ McAneny 10:31am, March 26, 2015 - Updated 1:38pm, March 26, 2015
Alexander Fitzgerald/Courtesy Wilmington Police Department
A Wilmington teen was arrested Wednesday night after a foot chase led to the discovery of a handgun, authorities announced Thursday.

According to Wilmington Police, officers on routine patrol as part of Operation Safe Streets were in the area of the 400 block of North Rodney Street when they observed a man identified as Alexander Fitzgerald, 18, of Wilmington, "displaying the characteristics of an armed gunman."

Officers approached Fitzgerald, who then fled and attempted to gain entry to a home on the street. Following a brief struggle, officers took Fitzgerald into custody without further incident.

On his person, police located a .40 caliber Glock Model 27 semi-automatic handgun equipped with an extended magazine.

Fitzgerald was charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon and resisting arrest. He was committed to Howard Young Correctional Facility in lieu of $15,000 bond.


'Downton Abbey' to end after upcoming 6th season

By Associated Press 4:43pm, March 26, 2015
The producers of "Downton Abbey" said the upcoming sixth season of this popular drama will be its last.

Executive producer Gareth Neame said its creators "wanted to close the door of `Downton Abbey' when it felt right and natural for the storylines to come together," and promised "a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue."

The Emmy Award-winning show follows the fates of the aristocratic Crawley clan and their servants amid the social upheavals of the 1910s and 1920s.

The fifth season of "Downtown" aired in the United States on PBS this winter.

It first aired in the United States in 2011, becoming part of a global phenomenon.

Stars include Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith.




1 of last remaining Howard Johnson's eateries sold, ending 57-year run; Delaware used to be home to several

By DJ McAneny 11:47am, March 26, 2015 - Updated 12:34pm, March 26, 2015
From the Lake Placid Facebook page.
One of the three remaining Howard Johnson's restaurants still in business has been sold and will close after a nearly 60-year run in a New York village.

Mike Butler, owner of the HoJo's in Lake Placid, said his family-run eatery was purchased by local restaurant owners who plan to move their business to the property after the Howard Johnson's closes March 31.

Butler's father, Ron, opened the restaurant with the chain's signature orange roof 58 years ago.

There were once hundreds of Howard Johnson's restaurants in the U.S.

Two are still operating. One is attached to a hotel in Bangor, Maine, and the other is in Lake George, a tourist destination 60 miles south of Lake Placid. The Lake George HoJo's reopened in January after being closed for three years.


New Samsung, HTC phones coming April 10 in US

By Associated Press 9:57am, March 26, 2015
New phones from Samsung and HTC will be available in U.S. stores starting April 10.

Advance orders for the new HTC One begin Friday, and those customers might receive their phones before April 10. Orders for Samsung's Galaxy S 6 phones start Saturday, with delivery around April 10. Prices will vary by carrier. No-contract versions are expected to start at about $650, in line with the iPhone and other high-end devices.

Phone sizes won't change. HTC is largely keeping the same design, but improving the camera and personalizing the home screen based on your location. It also promises to replace the phone once if you smash or crack it. Samsung is swapping its plastic back cover for more stylish metal and glass to better compete with the iPhone. It also improved the camera and software interface.



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