Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Name Is Not Merv Griffin

...With all due respect to Gary Muller, and the late great Dr. Demento. 

For the record, Merv is no stage name. He was born Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr., so that much is wholly true.  After founding Merv Griffin Enterprises in 1964 he began buying up small and medium market radio stations. At different times the total list included WPOP-AM Hartford, CT and WIOF-FM in Waterbury, CT; WMID-AM in Atlantic City and WGRF-FM in Pleasantville, NJ and in upstate New York WENE-AM and WMRV-FM in Endicott and WBAX-FM in Wilkes Barre. They also had WARD-AM in Pittston and two in Rhode Island WHJJ and WHJY. I count ten stations there but in their own accounting the Merv Griffin Radio Group  "bought, managed and sold 17 radio stations."  I'm still trying to find the balance of 7. 

Only one of those stations bore his name: WMRV-FM.  Originally on 105.5 as WENE-FM the station was a simulcast of WENE-AM. The call signs and programming changed in 1971 with the change in ownership. In march of 2013 it became WBNW under the ownership of Clear Channel. It remains a top 40 station even today.

Just two years after he picked up WBAX in 1971 Griffin and his wife, Julann, divorced just two years later in 1973. She retained ownership of many of the stations as part of the settlement.  There were negotations but in the end Julann got 4 of his then seven stations.  In 1986, following his retirement, Griffin sold his production company, Merv Griffin Enterprises, to Columbia Pictures for $250 million.  Merv Griffin then founded Griffin Group in the months following that sale. The WMRV calls now reside on 93.9 in Danville, NY on a stick that was formerly WDNY and WACZ.