Sunday, July 31, 2005

FOX News Radio Sneaks In At WTAM

There won't be a big production number about it, because Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland doesn't carry full-length network newscasts...but it appears they've turned the corner with FOX News Radio.

In the past day or two, OMW has heard WTAM using only FNR wraps in their locally-produced newscasts. WTAM has also used FOX reporters for morning drive live hits, though that's been going on for a while (and they've also used ABC reporters in the mix).

(UPDATE: Sunday afternoon, we did hear an ABC wrap in a WTAM local newscast.)

Unlike CC sister talk station WHLO/640 Akron, you may never know when ABC is "gone for good" at WTAM. The end of the contract with ABC will solely involve WTAM not playing ABC network spots, and they can add FNR before losing ABC.

WHLO's transition will be more abrupt, as you'll hear it - sometime in the coming couple of weeks - start running FNR's new top of the hour newscast instead of ABC's Information Network cast. Then, ABC's product will show up on talk WNIR/100.1, as reported earlier here on OMW. We hear ABC will consider WNIR the "Cleveland market" Information Network clearance, as no other Cleveland station will pick up that "main" feed. There's really no home for it, with no other major news/talkers in the Cleveland market, and Salem's talk WHK/1420 (or sports WKNR/850) certainly isn't going to pick up the ABC Information Network feed.

One note: As far as we know, WTAM will continue to run veteran commentator Paul Harvey, even after losing the ABC News product. And no, it's not true that they'll hang onto Paul Harvey because Triv demanded the extra 5 minutes rest at the beginning of his show. (It's a joke, folks...)

As reported earlier on OMW, WHLO liberal talk sister WARF/1350 Akron "Radio Free Ohio" will hang onto an ABC newscast after the change, though not the same one they're running now...the Information cast, in tandem with WHLO. In fact, aside from the sounders in the automation computer, WHLO and WARF pretty much simulcast every hour for the first 5 minutes or so...something which will change when the network newscasts change.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Dr. Laura's Fall From Grace In Northern Ohio Is Complete

500 watt Canton religious/talk WCER/900 is now syndicated advice talk host Dr. Laura Schlessinger's only Northern Ohio affiliate.

OMW doesn't know when it happened, but Dr. Laura's last Clear Channel affiliate in the region, talk WMAN/1400 Mansfield, replaced her with a delayed airing of her affiliation nemesis, Glenn Beck. WMAN's website schedule now shows Beck running 3-5 PM and 6-7 PM, with an hour local news block filling the gap. Dr. Laura has been pushed off the WMAN schedule entirely, and doesn't even air in nights or weekends.

We know it must have been a recent change, as Dr. Laura's own Ohio affiliate list, which does list WCER, also still lists WMAN carrying the show 3-6 PM weekdays. The list also has another glaring inaccuracy - Clear Channel's WKRC/550 Cincinnati no longer carries the show. And WMAN's carriage of the Glenn Beck show is in their affiliate list, in smaller, recently added print.

In 2000, Dr. Laura was riding high in Northeast Ohio. Her show aired weekdays 9-11:30 AM on Clear Channel talk powerhouse WTAM/1100 Cleveland, and many other Clear Channel stations in Ohio and beyond.

In late 2001, Dr. Laura was pushed off the WTAM lineup for a fellow Premiere syndicated host, Glenn Beck...who himself was replaced on WTAM recently.

She rebounded, landing on new Clear Channel talker WHLO/640 Akron in its midday slot. WHLO recently dumped her, first for TRN's Laura Ingraham, then to pick up Beck when WTAM dropped him. CC's WKBN/Youngstown also no longer carries Dr. Laura.

Our only surprise at OMW - why Salem's secular talkers, like WHK/1420 Cleveland, haven't made room for Dr. Laura on their schedules. Salem does run her in Pittsburgh and New York City, but on otherwise religious stations. Perhaps there'd be room for her on Salem religious WKHW/1220?

Her departure from many Clear Channel stations, first fueled by Glenn Beck's then-new national show, has been set on fire now that Clear Channel doesn't own the show anymore. Premiere still markets it on behalf of new owner "Take On The Day Productions". Her new Ohio affiliate list - once WMAN and WKRC are removed - has her on a small handful of very small non-Clear Channel owned stations. On the list, Canton is now her largest market in Ohio by far...not hard when the list is populated by places like Findlay, Bellfontaine and Chillicothe.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Jerry? Jerry? Jerry?

The recently-released ratings contain the first measure of WTAM/1100's experiment: replacing conservative Premiere syndicated talker Glenn Beck with liberal syndicated talker Jerry Springer, a Clear Channel product out of WCKY/1530 Cincinnati. (Springer is also heard on the Air America liberal talk network, but WTAM's carriage of the show is not tied into AAR.)

If you believe numbers reportedly given out by Beck on his show recently, the news isn't good for Jerry. OMW hears Beck told an area listener that Springer's show has roughly a third of the ratings Beck enjoyed on the Cleveland talk powerhouse. Beck also noted something we alluded to in the 12-plus number breakdown earlier on the blog - his presence on Akron CC talker WHLO/640 has helped bring that station into the Cleveland ratings book for the first time in ages.

OMW would like to remind various radio observers that Rome wasn't built in a day (no, not Jim Rome), and that one book does not a trend make.

You could almost consider the Beck-for-Springer trade a three hour format change for WTAM. Though both do talk radio shows, the audiences are not at all compatible. There's always a cross-section of people who "tune in to hear what the other side says", but it's no surprise that Springer's first book features an apparent 2/3rds drop in the audience. The challenge for WTAM - build back up from there. If anyone in the market can pull it off, it's WTAM, which is a powerhouse 50,000 watt talk station that regularly scores in the ratings. (In other words, it can lose that much audience in one time slot without falling off the map, and no other AM in the market can.)

The problem here, in OMW's humble opinion, is that Springer is not all that good of a host. He's not awful, but he's not all that great. Skills-wise, he pales in comparison to Beck, putting ideology aside...even after improving somewhat from a very rocky start. Meanwhile, anyone in Northeast Ohio in the mood for liberal talk in the 9-noon slot has an alternative: Democracy/Jones' Stephanie Miller on Akron's WARF/1350 "Radio Free Ohio". Stephanie's show is more humor-oriented, but her radio skills - she is a veteran of the Los Angeles market - run rings around Springer. And, unlike "Jerry"...she's not doing her show as a springboard to a future political race...

Of course, though it puts a decent signal into much of greater Cleveland, WARF is not a Cleveland market station, and it's certainly not nearly the signal equivalent of WTAM. But in listening to Stephanie's show on and off the past few weeks, we'd guess that the folks at CC's Akron/Canton HQ on Freedom Avenue have to be happy to hear a lot of Akron and Cleveland area callers...

There's A Baseball Game Going On?

There's been a lot of chatter recently about Salem sports WKNR/850 Cleveland's behavior during daytime Cleveland Indians games. The behavior - basically - is that the market's only full-time sports talk station acts like the Tribe doesn't exist while they're playing during the day.

'KNR's sports update anchors are apparently not giving the Indians score while they're still on the field, and its sports talkers aren't talking Tribe while the team is playing. This only happens when the Indians play before 7 PM weekdays, as WKNR has no regularly scheduled local sportscasts after 7.

Why would the market's only full-time sports talker ignore the game that's going on?

Well, one would presume that they fear people hearing about a good game, and flipping the dial to the station's chief competitor, Clear Channel talker WTAM/1100, to actually listen to Tom Hamilton, Matt Underwood and Mike Hegan call the game on the team's flagship station.

Some have suggested that legalities force WKNR to ignore the Indians during day games. That can't possibly be the case. The only legal hot water would involve WKNR's anchors or hosts doing impromptu play-by-play of the game while it's going on, which would be a definite no-no.

But there's no legal prohibition against station sports news anchors, or hosts, simply giving the game score.

Our suggested happy medium: Have the anchors briefly give the score, but not dwell on it, and use the score as a way to promote the station's "Tenth Inning" show with Bob Karlovic. ("Tribe 4, A's 2 in the 8th, and a reminder, talk about the game with WKNR's Bob Karlovic and the 'Tenth Inning' show...") We also don't expect WKNR afternoon host Kenny Roda to get on and say "hey, there's a great Indians game going on now!", but general talk about the team (not in the context of the current game) shouldn't be verboten.

Of course, OMW and others have suggested that WKNR program director Michael Luczak actually use an out-of-station voice for 'KNR's imaging, but he continues to voice the imaging pieces himself. So much for being an armchair PD, eh?

That Long-Delayed Ratings Post

Here at the OMW World Headquarters, we actually went through the recently released Cleveland and Akron market ratings late last week, and had already outlined the highlights of what we wanted to touch on. But trying to divine anything from "vanity" 12-plus numbers often leads to disaster and blanket statements that are not held up by in-demo numbers, so we've held off, until now. The below covers some of the "highlights", and not all stations are mentioned. We'll focus mainly on stations with decent gains or significant losses, or which have made recent changes.


* Spring 2005 was good to Clear Channel country WGAR/99.5, which moves to a tie for first place with sister news/talk WTAM/1100. Though the Indians' play has been somewhat erratic as late, the Tribe always helps WTAM's spring and summer numbers.

* Infinity AC WDOK/102.1 slips a little, but still lands in fourth place in the vanity numbers.

* Infinity classic rock/Stern affiliate WNCX/98.5 moves up to sixth place. It's hard to tell from one up book (and without in-demo numbers) if 'NCX would be saved from a rumored restructuring after Howard signs off from his terrestrial radio career.

* Clear Channel Akron talker WHLO/640 shows up in the Cleveland book for the first time in a long time, with a typical out-of-town station number. It's, as far as we know, WHLO's first appearance in the Cleveland book as a talker, and probably dating back many, many years. Our semi-educated guess - Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity fans in WHLO's more favorable signal areas are finding the station in droves.

* In the "where did the books land" department: Lorain County. Classic country WOBL/1320 Oberlin, which basically doesn't make it out of the county, shows up.


* Rubber City country WQMX/94.9 puts up a strong first place showing. Welcome to the Spring of Country, 2005, in Northeast Ohio!

* MediaCom talk WNIR/100.1 is off some, but still in its usual ratings range and still in second place in the market. 'NIR historically bounces between first and fifth place.

* Rubber City rock WONE/97.5 provides more reason for the folks at the Akron Radio Center to celebrate, with a nice jump up to fourth place in the Akron book.

* As in Cleveland, Infinity AC WDOK/102.1 is off, but still in a relatively high position (5th).

* Clear Channel Cleveland rocker WMMS/100.7 is back to more usual Akron numbers from a down Winter 2005 book. It's tied with steady sister Akron market Hot AC WKDD/98.1 in eighth place.

* Clear Channel Cleveland CHR WAKS/96.5 and Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 are both down around a point.

* In the news/talk division of Clear Channel's Akron cluster, WHLO/640 saw no change. WARF/1350 is down to its historic levels as a sports talker, but OMW has no idea how much of the liberal talk format is covered in this book. 1350 dumped Fox Sports Radio for liberal talk in late May.

OMW's new policy is not to cover the ratings released in the Canton or Youngstown/Warren markets, as they are not continuously measured...and "standard" markets can swing wildly in between their only two books a year.

WCER/Canton Recasts As Secular Talker

A small item at

"Religion WCER-A/CANTON completes its transition to secular News-Talk on MONDAY (8/1) with a new local talk show with JASON BURNETTE 6-7p weekdays. OM/ND JOHN AMRHEIN tells ALL ACCESS he's also adding new imaging and more local news."

Amrhein has actually posted about the station adding more secular talk on the Radio-Info Cleveland board.

The name Jason Burnette doesn't ring any bells in the OMW World Empire, and a quick Google search on the name doesn't reveal any links to either radio or Canton. The 6-7 PM slot would clip an hour off the station's carriage of Take On the Day/Premiere syndicated talker Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

WCER recently settled on TRN's Jerry Doyle for its noon-3 slot, after a brief attempt to run the syndicator's highest profile host - Michael Savage - was nixed by Clear Channel Akron talker WHLO/640, which carries Savage live 6-9 PM weeknights, and claims Canton market rights to the show in its contract with TRN.

There's no word if the station will continue to run various religious programs and features that are still on its website schedule, particularly at night and in early morning hours.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Job Listing: WMVX/Cleveland Looking for PM Driver

It's been open for a while now, since Lee Ann Sommers scooted off to Denver, but Clear Channel Cleveland Hot AC WMVX/106.5's new PD has posted a job listing for the afternoon drive slot at "Mix 106.5".

Here it is, courtesy of the jobs section of a website anyone looking for radio work should have on their favorites list,

"Cleveland’s MIX 106.5 is looking for our next star to make PM drive sparkle. Three to five years on-air experience with contemporary formats, strong show prep skills and a proven ability to shine at appearances required. WMVX is a rock based HOT AC. Send an MP3 (please keep them short), your resume and other pertinent materials to (DonHallett at clearchannel dot com) or mail your package to my attention: WMVX, 6200 Oak Tree Boulevard, 4th Floor, Independence, Ohio 44131. No calls please."

(The E-Mail address above is modified by OMW to provide less food for spambots.)

Oh, we're still figuring out how to word that look at the ratings...without sounding too much like a soothsayer. It'll come soon.

Job Listing: WAKR/Akron Looking For Air Personality

OMW hears that Rubber City Radio standards WAKR/1590 Akron may be expanding its locally-hosted music programming, and is looking for someone that could fill a new position.

Right now, the station has a local news/information show with Ray Horner in morning drive, and mostly uses Westwood One's Adult Standards format the rest of the day. WAKR vet Bob Allen holds down afternoon drive.

The new hire would be WAKR's music director, so the station is looking for someone with Selector experience. They're also looking for experience with computer-assisted automation.

Send your T&Rs to WAKR, 1795 W. Market St., Akron, OH 44313 (Kevin Mason, operations manager).

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Robin Swoboda Leaving 95.5 The Fish

We hinted at this earlier in OMW, when someone found a help wanted ad for a co-host of Salem Cleveland CCM WFHM/95.5 "The Fish"'s morning show. And though we have NOT confirmed this, it now appears that co-host Robin Swoboda is leaving the station.

Swoboda is exiting the "The Fish"'s morning show for - from what we hear - family reasons. This could be related to her husband's recent pursuit of a high school football coaching gig, and the need to take care of their kids. A personal note from OMW - kudos to Robin for acting truly in the spirit of the "family friendly" station.

Swoboda is a well-known face in Cleveland, as she was formerly a news anchor at both WEWS/5 (ABC) and WJW/8 (then CBS, now FOX). Her husband, for those who don't remember, is former NFL punter Bryan Wagner. A recent newspaper article chronicled his drive to get into school football coaching.

And a trivia question delivered and answered: When she first came to Cleveland from Miami, Robin Swoboda was known as Robin Cole. Her new local TV bosses in Northeast Ohio urged her to use her given name Swoboda, to appeal to the more ethnic Cleveland market.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Yes, We're Still Here!

OMW has been busy off in the world of Real Life(tm), so we've been away from the blog for a while. But no...we haven't disappeared.

Coming sometime in the next 24 hours or so, we'll pick apart those pesky 12-plus ratings numbers for Cleveland and Akron. But we won't go line by line. For one, the 12-plus numbers are rightly called "vanity numbers", and those figures and 50 cents may get you a can of Coke in the lunchroom of your favorite radio station. (A tip of the hat to our most recent employer, which only charges 45 cents!)

But no matter, some observations will appear in this space, soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

An Ashtabula Bull?

A helpful tipster has reopened the "Case of the Bull" in Ashtabula.

Clear Channel recently signed on WYBL/98.3 in that city, which is currently running uninterrupted oldies music.

OMW has noted, in the past, that the new station was rumored to be considering a country format...though we wrote off some of that speculation due to the fact that a former Clear Channel country station in the Louisville market once held the WYBL calls, and that those calls ended up moving north to the current Ashtabula station. At the time, the website WYBL.COM resolved to a dead page with the Louisville market station's former "Bull" logo.

Today, still lands on a dead page, but the error message is rather clear:

You don't have permission to access / on this server.

Apache/1.3.33 Server at Port 80"

Note that the error message now shows a new URL, "". According to a Google search, the Louisville country station was on 93.1, a frequency now carrying smooth jazz WJZL. The only 98.3 anywhere near the Louisville market is in Elizabethtown KY, which is apparently a long-time local station called WQXE "Quicksie 98", and which is not owned by Clear Channel. Clear Channel does have a country station still carrying the "Bull" name in Lexington KY, but it isn't on 98.3.

Maybe we're putting the dots together too quickly, but it seems like too much of a coincidence to us. It wouldn't be the first new format inadvertently released by a website URL... though stations HAVE also taken to planting stuff like this to throw people off the scent.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Midweek Odds and Ends

A couple of items picked up off the R-I Cleveland board, and more:

* "Johnny Morgan" picks up an ad by Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 Cleveland ("95.5 The Fish") for a morning show co-host. There's no indication if the advertised position replaces a current host, or if it's for an additional talent on the show. The line "Previous on-air experience a plus" would tend to indicate, in OMW's humble opinion, that it's a third personality to join established co-hosts Len Houser and Robin Swoboda.

* "bigwoody" notes that Clear Channel Ashtabula CHR WZOO/102.5 Edgewood ("102 Zoo") has recently replaced a long-time local morning show with the Kidd Kraddick show, syndicated by Premiere out of Dallas. Premiere, of course, is owned by Clear Channel, which also owns news/talk WFUN/970 and AC WREO/97.1 ("Star 97") Ashtabula, classic rocker WFXJ/107.5 ("107.5 The Fox") North Kingsville and new addition WYBL/98.3 Ashtabula...which recently signed on with oldies, for now. (OMW lists the entire cluster because we'd apparently left out WREO the last time. Oops! Sorry about that.)

And not that we needed to remind anyone, but Radio Business Report jumped the gun, when it seemed to indicate a flip of an Infinity Cleveland market station to JACK FM was around the corner. It's been a week and a half since the item, and there are no signs that any of the company's stations are getting ready to "play whatever we want". At least yet...

Monday, July 18, 2005

Bill Press Gets His Second (Over Air) Affiliate

Syndicated liberal morning talker Bill Press, who aired solely on Akron's WARF/1350 "Radio Free Ohio" for the first few weeks of his new radio program, is picking up another over-air station.

Radio & Records Online reports that Press' show will be in the lineup at new liberal talk station KRXA/540 in the Monterey/Salinas/Santa Cruz market on the Central California coast, when that new station debuts July 21st. There's no word as to when KRXA will air Press, who is live 6-9 AM Eastern Time. A live airing out there would start him at 3 AM. The station's website, which has actually been up for weeks now, does not list Press yet.

Press' program went national three weeks ago, when Sirius Satellite Radio picked it up for its "Sirius Left" (143) channel.

Another Youngstown Operator In Financial Trouble

Thanks to our friends at AllAccess for the tip:

The various companies associated with Stop 26-Riverbend Productions, which owns three Youngstown/Warren market stations, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to the site

The move comes after a lender filed to appoint a court-ordered trustee in the case, which covers tens of millions of dollars in reported liabilities.

In addition to urban WRBP/101.9 Hubbard, religious WGFT/1330 Campbell and Spanish language WASN/1500 Youngstown (also the home of English language brokered host Louie Free), Stop 26-Riverbend also operates stations in the Columbus market.

The numbers in the story above make Beacon Broadcasting's problems look almost quaint. With its new moneyman in charge - you know, the guy whose last name rhymes with "Blunt" - maybe he's sniffing around one or more of the above properties? Our Beacon-connected source has already told us that the new operator is already looking at Columbus, where Stop 26-Riverbend owns stations...hmm.

Some Akron Non-Comm Radio Changes Ahead?

File this one under "Widely Spread Rumor".

OMW hears that Kent State University's classical/NPR WKSU/89.7 Kent is getting antsy to expand, and wants to do so by buying another local non-commercial FM station.

The two most named suspects are Akron University's student-run rocker WZIP/88.1 Akron ("Z88"), and the Akron Public Schools' AAA-formatted WAPS/91.3 Akron ("91.3 The Summit"). If OMW were a betting window, we'd offer even money odds on WKSU picking up WZIP.

What would WKSU do with a second station? What many other pubcasters have done across the nation...split its current format into two full-time signals. For example: WKSU could buy 88.1, and move the NPR news/talk content there, turning 89.7 into a full-time classical station. That proverbial bus could be driven by the fact that Cleveland-market commercial classical WCLV/104.9 Lorain has an awful signal in pretty much the same parts of the Cleveland market where 89.7 has a strong signal. The east side of Cleveland - home to much of the city's fine arts community - has never forgiven WCLV for abandoning 95.5 (now Salem's CCM "95.5 The Fish").

If it's indeed the current WZIP that's caught in this deal, it could migrate to on-campus-only status, along with an Internet webcast. That's what Ferrum College in southwest Virginia did with its student-run WFFC, after selling the 89.9 FM over-air signal to Virginia Tech University for its "Radio IQ" NPR/BBC news/talk service.

We have no idea how soon any of this will happen, but it's sure making rounds in the local radio rumor we thought we'd give you a "heads up".

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The ABC Shuffle - Including One Big Northeast Ohio Change

Regarding upcoming changes to ABC Radio newscasts in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton area:

We understand that Akron liberal talker WARF/1350 "Radio Free Ohio" is hanging onto ABC, even after conservative talk sister WHLO/640 drops the network for FOX News many Clear Channel talk stations, including WTAM/1100 Cleveland.

Unlike what it ran at the start of the liberal talk format, WARF is now running the ABC "Entertainment" newscast, which is a slightly different newscast that is, if memory serves, also slightly shorter than the ABC Information newscast that WARF carried at launch, and that WHLO still carries now.

Now, follow the bouncing ABC ball all around Northeast Ohio. Ready? There's a big bounce at the end...a doozy.

* In August, as mentioned, WHLO/640 Akron will drop ABC Information Network newscasts in favor of the 5 minute FOX News Radio casts.

* In August, as mentioned, WTAM/1100 Cleveland will drop ABC audio reports and updates - it does not carry the full 5 minute ABC Information cast due to its use of 24/7 local anchors, but acts as an ABC Information affiliate - and will carry reports and updates from FOX News Radio instead.

* And here's our wildcard...and the biggest news of all. OMW hears that once WTAM drops the ABC Information affiliation, Akron market talk station WNIR/100.1 Kent will pick it up, dropping its long-time affiliation with CBS Radio News. OMW doesn't know how long "The Talk of Akron" has had CBS, but it's certainly been as long as we can remember...perhaps the entire run of its talk format.

Look to around August 8th for these changes to start taking effect.

And WARF and WNIR will not be the only Akron market stations carrying ABC newscasts. WAKR/1590 has carried one of the ABC casts for some time. We can't identify it right off, but it may be the "Contemporary" network, ABC's third network configuration. (UPDATE: We're told it's the "Direction" network...which makes sense, as we've heard the same sounder on another ABC "Direction" affiliate in another market.)

ABC has never had much problem with ABC newscasts sprouting up all over the place, as long as they're broken out separately between Information/Entertainment/Contemporary/Direction within a certain market.

And in yet another example, if a local station would pick up ABC's 24/7 satellite-fed music formats, they'd AUTOMATICALLY get yet another ABC cast, a 2 minute short cast fed down the network line. These casts were heard on WQKT/104.5 and WKVX/960 Wooster, in the last days of their carriage of ABC's "Country Coast to Coast" (on the FM) and "Pure Gold" (on the AM). The Wooster stations now carry similar satellite formats from Westwood One.

By jumping from CBS to ABC, WNIR will follow stations like WTMJ/620 Milwaukee, a Journal-owned news/talker which just announced it's picking up ABC...after the network gets dropped from Clear Channel competitor WISN/1130. That little piece of news has a small local connection, as WTAM-based anchors supply news updates to WISN via the Clear Channel WAN, during off-drive-time hours.

One other question...could WTAM keep Paul Harvey, despite moving its overall news affiliation from ABC to FOX News Radio? We'll see...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Week Ending Odds and Ends

* As far as we can tell, Friday 5 PM came and went without a "JACK FM" flip within (or outside) Infinity's Cleveland cluster.

* Harold Glunt's latest Youngstown/Warren market radio acquisition, WRTK/1540 Niles, is still pumping out urban AC music, and was even heard soliciting for advertisers, with a 216 area code number being given. Of course, we wonder if those advertisers will be told that the format's likely going away soon...

* And another Side Effect of Glunt: OMW already reported that the "Wexy 107" oldies format moved lock, stock and transmitter to new Beacon Broadcasting station WLOA/1470 Farrell PA. We didn't realize that the Pittsburgh Pirates moved along with the oldies format, until we heard a Pirates game this afternoon on 1470 AM. But someone really should tell them that the in-game legal ID for WEXC/Greenville does them no good if they're only broadcasting the game on WLOA...since 107.1 was merrily rolling along with its new Christian rock format, and not doing the Pirates...

Thursday, July 14, 2005


(Those of you with Beacon Fatigue, please scroll down the blog to the next action-packed update, posted just a little earlier this evening. There's not a single mention of the word "Glunt" in it!)


As first reported by OMW, Beacon Broadcasting's Harold Glunt is buying yet another station in the Youngstown/Warren market. The FCC website shows an application for assignment of license of WRTK/1540 Niles from D & E Communications (Dale Edwards) to Harold Glunt. The price listed in the sales agreement is $400,000. WRTK is a 500 watt daytimer.

WRTK, at least earlier this week, was running an urban adult contemporary format. It's possible that's changed, since upon agreeing to buy it, Glunt immediately flipped WLOA/1470 Farrell PA to the "Wexy" oldies format that once ran on WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA. (We've written about it so much here, we could almost write those words without thinking.) We're driving in the general direction of the Mahoning Valley tomorrow, so we'll check.

For whatever reason, this deal was first written up between D & E and Beacon, but Glunt has apparently decided to buy it himself as an individual.

As we mentioned in our earlier update, a Beacon connected source says Glunt plans to seed the "Wexy" format on a network of stations including WLOA, WRTK and WANR/1570 Warren.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled non-Harold Glunt programming.

The OMW Five Items Or Less Lane

ITEM 1: We guess that we don't listen to WTAM/1100 afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno as much as we used to, as we missed a recent controversy centering around him. This column from the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Connie Schultz explains it - Triv apparently made quite a few insensitive remarks about HIV-positive people.

We felt the need to include the mention here, but didn't really feel the need to talk about it. Reporting that Mike Trivisonno makes insensitive and stupid comments is roughly equivalent to reporting that there's a thunderstorm in Northeast Ohio in July. The popular WTAM host wears his ignorance near his mouth like a badge of honor, so this is really no surprise. And if the fine folks at the local AIDS Task Force are still upset about it at this stage in the game... remember this: Despite the fact that Triv hosts the #1 afternoon radio show (or somewhere near there, give or take a place), a good 90-percent-plus of the Cleveland market's radio population is listening to rock or country or something else from 3 to 7 PM, or not listening to the radio at all.

'Nuff said.

ITEM 2: A small item we picked up while searching for news articles about the "Triv controversy"...expect the new FOX News Radio on WTAM in August, according to WTAM program director Ray Davis in a Billboard Radio Monitor article. This isn't really news, as the Clear Channel/FNR deal was announced months ago, and the company's big news/talkers are expected to switch during this summer. Since WTAM does its own hourly updates 24/7, you're not likely to hear the FOX-produced hourly newscasts on 1100, but you will hear FOX's reporters and sound bites in the local newscasts. Listeners have already reported hearing interviews with FOX News reporters on WTAM's "Wills and Coleman" morning drive show.

Expect Akron CC sister talker WHLO/640 to carry the newscasts in August as well. There's no word on what happens to ABC on WHLO's new liberal talk sister WARF/1350, but OMW would bet the virtual farm that Jerry, Keith and company won't put the right-leaning FOX News product on "Radio Free Ohio". If ABC goes off 1350, expect something like CNN Radio, heard on many Clear Channel liberal talk stations.

ITEM 3: It's nearly Friday, and no Cleveland radio station is yet proclaiming that "we play what we want" or calling itself "JACK" or "DAVE" or "DENNIS". (That last one would be a good name, considering the city's colorful former mayor, now a Congressman, and a one-time presidential candidate. Oh, we understand he's getting married...yes, Congressman Kucinich, we at OMW understand the appeal of a smart, redheaded woman...)

You might recall an earlier note from the folks at Radio Business Report, saying they were expecting a Cleveland Infinity station to flip to the eclectic "adult hits" format "soon". Infinity flipped its last two "JACK" converts, WCBS-FM in New York and WJMK-FM in Chicago, to the format at 5 PM on a Friday. We're not saying it's going to happen on Friday on WQAL/104.1 or WDOK/102.1, but we're just throwing that fact out there, and noting that 5 PM Friday is just hours away this week.

OMW can't help but think of involving WXTM/92.3 and WNCX/98.5 in this speculation. It's widely expected that WNCX could drop classic rock once morning anchor Howard Stern goes away, and if you believe the shock jock, that could be as soon as September due to sales concerns. Infinity is putting some big bets on 92.3 morning host Rover as a regional replacement for Stern, and it would not be surprising to see them move him to the more powerful 98.5 signal when Howard's off the terrestrial airwaves.

WDOK, especially, is said to make a LOT of money for Infinity's Cleveland cluster, and there aren't a lot of bettors holding the 102.1 ticket for a JACK flip.

As a responsible online news source (we try), we once again caution that there is absolutely no solid, or even shaky, information behind our speculation. Consider it a "prediction", and if it happens, we're reading the tea leaves correctly. Frankly, we're mostly just throwing stuff against the wall with this one.

ITEM 4: Welcome to all of those reading from a link on, a Pittsburgh-based radio news site. It's a great place to check out news from Western Pennsylvania, particularly the area just beyond our usual haunts in markets near the Ohio border.

ITEM 5: We're out of the area once again for a personal weekend trip. This time, we've nailed down all of our remote computer and monitoring issues, and we'll be able to check out most Northeast Ohio radio stations even from a few hundred miles away. Since big things seem to happen when we leave town, OMW feels almost obligated to give you the warning.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

So, How DOES One Sign Up Bill Press' Show?

Maybe WARF/1350 Akron "Radio Free Ohio"'s Keith Kennedy can answer some of these questions.

From Brian Maloney's "Radio Equalizer" blog, in his mailbag:


From Ed Christian, President, Saga Communications:

Brian: Any further info on the Bill Press show? Amazingly enough I have three radio stations where I want to place his show and we, for the life of it, can't get (a) return calls or (b) promises of a package or information on the show from his people.

I have never seen such ineptness since the launch of Air America.

(Ed: this may explain why Press's show still seems to lack a single additional affiliate since my previous essay on the subject. Brian)


(Thanks to for the tip!)

We at OMW feel kind of responsible for this, as we helped bring news of Press' new show to the radio trade news sites. WARF announced him on the schedule locally, and OMW took the opportunity to find out from Mr. Press himself what the overall situation was with the new show. We assumed, correctly, that Bill Press wasn't going to be doing a local show for Akron.

Mr. Press kindly answered back, and indicated that he'd be on Sirius Satellite Radio, as well as being syndicated to other radio stations besides WARF. He mentioned Jones Radio would be selling the show to over-air stations, but there's been no indication from Jones that they are selling it.

Fast forward to mid-July. Bill's still on WARF, and has been on Sirius Left (143) for a couple of weeks.

The funny twist to this? Mr. Christian has stated elsewhere that he won't run shows on his stations that are available on satellite radio. And aside from WARF, that's the only place you can hear the new Bill Press radio show now! Since most information about this show has mentioned Sirius, Mr. Christian would have to know that. It's on Bill's site, for one.

Anyway, AllAccess notes that a new syndication deal should be in the works "soon" for the Press morning drive liberal talk show. We're assuming that Jones Radio hasn't been involved yet, since their affiliate sales force is somewhat professional (and aggressive).

As Promised - Our Extreme Northeast Ohio (And Then Some) Update

After posting about various changes in the Youngstown and Ashtabula areas, hearing about them from tipsters because OMW was camped out far to the south, we decided we had to hear them for ourselves.

* We did hear former oldies WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA as Christian rocker "Freq 107". And unlike its previous incarnation as oldies "Wexy 107", the station is very clearly targetting Youngstown. Live and local when we heard it in early afternoon, with cut-ins from the "Morning Freq" hosts at the Trumbull County Fair. They also mentioned that a "Michael Angel" was helping to feed them out there...we'll go out on a limb and say this was Beacon Broadcasting's soon-to-be former owner, Michael Arch, who remains as sales manager in the new Beacon hierarchy.

Aside from an occasional liner mentioning "positive" music, the station is not at all trying to image as a religious/Christian station, and unlike Beacon sister station WANR/1570 Warren, they're not running religious PSAs. It's similar to how the Salem "Fish" stations, like Cleveland's WFHM/95.5, try to bring in secular listeners.

OMW wonders if the 107.1 rimshot signal into the Youngstown market will gain them listeners. Is it "decent enough"? We note that though it gave WHOT "Hot 101" a run for its money as WMGZ "Z96", the 95.9 Sharpsville PA signal didn't really pick up steam until after being upgraded to 6 KW and being run as Clear Channel CHR WAKZ "95.9 Kiss FM". And 107.1's a few miles farther from the heart of the Youngstown market. Our guess - 107.1 will basically try to live north of downtown Youngstown wherever possible, with more focus on Warren and Niles and places like that. South of Sharon/Hermitage PA, the signal fights it out with an on-channel FM serving the Pittsburgh market, urban AC WJJJ/Greensburg PA.

* Also with a presence at the Trumbull County Fair was that Beacon sister station, WANR/1570, which featured local host John Rogers back in the studio spinning various oldies tunes in afternoon drive. (We're still not sure if this is the same John Rogers who was once news director at WRRO/1440, back in the late 80's/early 90's.) He was followed by Beacon vet Ron Leader, doing a live evening show. Though we didn't hear the cut-ins, Rogers and Leader frequently mentioned "Mike out at the Trumbull County Fair"...again, we're assuming this is soon-to-be-ex-Beacon owner Michael Arch at it again. (At least it keeps him away from the studio and the Apologetix cuts.)

* And to complete the Beacon Trifecta, we indeed heard the former WEXC/107.1 oldies format as "Wexy 107" on WLOA/1470 Farrell PA, though with no live air personalities....and a legal ID including two stations that actually were not carrying the format, WEXC (see above) and currently silent WGRP/940 Greenville PA, which indeed was not heard in the OMWmobile while driving into Greenvile. We're still scratching our heads why the format's being aired with the FM frequency identifier of a station no longer carrying it, but hey, that's Beacon for you. Our best guess - they haven't recut the old Wexy liners yet.

All three stations sounded better, in terms of signal quality and on-air processing, than we've ever heard them in the Beacon era. New owner Harold Glunt, as noted earlier here in OMW, apparently dumped some money into the places for equipment, and it sounds like it.

* And to get our minds off of the doings of Mr. Glunt and company, we headed up Rt. 11 to Ashtabula, where oldies were heard on new CP WYBL/98.3 in that city. It was a continuous presumably locally-automated oldies feed, with no liners, announcements or teases, just the legal ID once per hour as a simple "98.3 WYBL Ashtabula". (And yes, in case our friends Mr. Fybush and Brian at are wondering, we got the ID. By the way, if you're a legal ID geek like we are here at OMW, "Toppy" is well worth the visit. Pack a lunch.)

98.3 is the new sister in the Clear Channel Ashtabula cluster, and there's much speculation as to what the permanent format will be. Not a lot of people are betting on oldies, and we'd have to agree. For one, if they were sticking with oldies, they'd at least do some perfunctory imaging or naming (i.e. running liners calling it "Cool 98.3" or something). The fact they're not bothering to do a rather simple thing like this tells us that they're not long for the format.

Market scuttlebutt seems to point to a country format to take on WKKY/104.7 Geneva, though some of that may be misguided due to the use of the WYBL calls, which once lived in Louisville KY on a Clear Channel country station known as "The Bull". Still, if CC Ashtabula decided it wanted to go country, it'd be a relatively small task for them to be competitive with WKKY, which can still mine listeners in the area west of Geneva that WYBL won't really reach.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

WMJI's "Lanigan and Malone", WNWV Up For Awards

There are two Northeast Ohio nominations for the NAB's annual Marconi Awards this time around.

WMJI "Majic 105.7" morning legend John Lanigan and long-time partner Jimmy Malone are up for "Large Market Personality of the Year" for their morning program on the Cleveland Clear Channel oldies station.

Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting's Cleveland market smooth jazz WNWV/107.3 "The Wave" Elyria is up for "NAC/Jazz Station of the Year".

There's one other nomination in Ohio, outside of our usual coverage area...for the morning show on Columbus AC Sunny 95 (WSNY/94.7). It's noted here because former Sunny program director Don Hallett recently took the reins of CC Cleveland Hot AC WMVX "Mix 106.5".

Monday, July 11, 2005

Monday's News Menu Is Chock Full

No, no JACK FM flip in Cleveland yet, on 104.1, 102.1, 92.3 or 98.5, but it seems every time I leave the Akron area, things happen:

* A package received at the Clear Channel World Domination HQ in Independence forced the evacuation of the building, for a while this afternoon. Here's the story from WEWS Channel 5's website. The package was, according to NewsChannel 5, found soaked in chemicals and actually was sent to a mortgage company which is housed in the building on Oak Tree Boulevard.

* AllAccess reports that WEOL/930 Elyria has decided on the replacement for the final non-replaced hours of AP Network News, which goes away nationwide this week. It'll be Fox Sports Radio handling the night and weekend hours for the Lorain County news/talker. WEOL had filled the 9-noon slot once filled by AP's all-news feed, with Premiere's Glenn Beck. FSR has not aired in the Cleveland market proper before, as CC's WTAM/1100 doesn't carry it at all and WKNR/850 is an ESPN Radio affiliate. But it was heard in much of the market via WTOU/1350 Akron, now liberal talk WARF. Akron market rimshot WJMP/1520 Kent picked up FSR after dumping Air America Radio, in the wake of the WARF format change to liberal talk at the end of May.

* A tip on the Cleveland Radio-Info board led us to endure the poor WHK/1420 night signal just now, and sure enough, the Salem talker has picked up TRN's Michael Savage for the 9 PM-midnight slot, pushing Salem's own Mike Gallagher to the early overnights.

* This is entirely unrelated to any of this, but the show did air in Cleveland once, years ago on WERE/1300, and for a while recently on WANR/1570 in Warren. Westwood One/WJFK Washington's Don & Mike Show has suffered a horrific loss, as show host Don Geronimo's wife was killed in a car crash near Ocean City, MD. The show went on this afternoon with co-host Mike O'Meara and other show cast members holding a remembrance for Freda Wright-Sorce, who appeared on her husband's show numerous times (mostly via phone) in the past. OMW sends its condolences to Don and the entire D&M show family.

We were actually out east and northeast to confirm and check out all the activity near Youngstown and Ashtabula, and that'll be in our next update.

Report: "JACK FM" Rumored for Cleveland

Those "JACK FM" rumors are flying again.

This time, it's Radio Business Report weighing in on the matter. In RBR's morning newsletter, they hear Infinity will "soon flip" one of its Cleveland FMs to the eclectic format otherwise known as "Variety Hits" or "Adult Hits".

RBR believes the "iPod on shuffle" format will land at either WQAL or WDOK, though it's tough to say whether they're getting this information from their sources, or are just guessing based on the format composition of Infinity's stations in the market. Their phrase: "We would estimate WQAL or WDOK."

For us radio observer types, it's time to dedicate our presets to 104.1 or 102.1 and see if we hear some guy interrupting the songs, declaring it's time to "play what we want"...

The Harold Glunt Radio Empire

Yes, it's time for another story in the saga of Beacon Broadcasting, Inc., the most active radio company in Northeast Ohio over the past month or so.

New Beacon owner Harold Glunt has apparently decided that broadcasting is his future, instead of supplying machines to steel factories. And given the state of the steel industry in the Mahoning Valley, we're not sure we blame him for stocking up on anemic AMs.

This time, a reliable OMW source tells us that Glunt is buying WRTK/1540 Niles, a 500 watt daytimer with towers visible from the I-80/Rt. 46 interchange. WRTK owner Dale Edwards has reportedly been shopping the station around for months. It's the former home of Cleveland radio bad boy Lynn Tolliver Jr. (ex-WZAK), who recently left Northeast Ohio for a gig at Tampa urban AM/FM combo WTMP/1150-96.1. And Edwards unsuccessfully filed to move WRTK from Niles to the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood on 1180 AM, an application the FCC dismissed back in March.

The apparent plan is to link WRTK, recent Beacon acquisition WLOA/1470 Farrell PA and Beacon mainstay WANR/1570 Warren in a network running the former WEXC/107.1 "Wexy" oldies format...which 1470 started running after Glunt agreed to buy it from former owner Holy Family Communications. How this fits into Glunt's apparent desire to run Christian stations aimed at young people is a mystery...maybe he believes the secular oldies format will bring in money so he can finance the operations of his main FM, WEXC, now known as Christian rocker "Freq 107".

(Historical note: This wouldn't be the first time 1540/Niles and 1570/Warren have simulcasted. In late 1990, after 1570 owner Geri Taczak sold the then-talk station, the stations simulcast as urban formatted "Network 15 - The City".)

Our source also indicates that aside from putting money into the current Beacon stations, buying long-needed equipment, Glunt has his eye on still MORE AM stations in markets outside Youngstown/Warren. Harold Glunt...a one man media empire. Who'da thunk it?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dino Costa Resurfaces, Again

It's kind of a hobby here at OMW... tracking the whereabouts of bombbastic self-promoting sports talk host Dino Costa. Costa was heard in parts of Northeast Ohio on the late, short-lived sports format on WATJ/1560 out of Chardon...perhaps the worst ever attempt to rimshot a major market with an anemic AM signal. (For anyone who kept track or cared, the 1,000 watt daytime station is now zero watts's silent.)

After leaving "SportsRadio 1560", Costa ended up at Denver's KLZ/560, Jacksonville's WNNR/1570, and Fort Lauderdale/Miami's WFLL/1400. He returned to Jacksonville to program a talk format on WYMM/1530 in an LMA, and was noted for his breathless AllAccess help wanted ads about building a new talk radio giant ("Look at our 50,000 watt transmitter! It just got here!"). Unfortunately, he got the squeeze by station ownership, which pulled the plug on the talk format just days into it, returning to religious programming. They've apparently gone back to talk as of recent days.

Anyway, Costa starts a week from Monday on something called the Radio Colorado Network, a group of mostly smallish stations based at Denver market rimshot KRCN/1060 Longmont, which just upgraded its signal. So, in case you're one of the 10 people who could hear the old 1560 out of Chardon and remember him...there, he is.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Future of Mix 106.5?

Clear Channel Hot AC WMVX/106.5 ("Mix 106.5") Cleveland recently picked its new program director. He's Don Hallett, the former PD of AC WSNY/94.7 ("Sunny 95") Columbus. Hallett has been running a consultancy under the name "The Positioning Works".

OMW welcomes Hallett to the Northeast Ohio radio community, and would like to prepare him for the sea of rumors that always accompany Mix 106.5...

It seems speculation about Mix's future is a favorite Northeast Ohio radio game, at least among those of us who watch the local market. And sadly, OMW hasn't been immune. Back when sister Clear Channel news/talker WTAM/1100 was hinting about major changes, some of us wondered if WMVX might even become an FM talk or sports station! (Don't ask. It's like asking someone who got drunk the night before why he hung from the light fixtures. And the primary voice behind OMW doesn't even drink.)

So, with Don Hallett aboard as Mix's PD, we've been getting a lot of questions about what it means for the station's future.

Our stock answer is this: One would expect that bringing in an AC programming veteran would mean that the station isn't about to change formats. And we don't read much into Sunny's softer AC focus, and don't expect Mix to start softening up to aim at soft AC WDOK/102.1 any time soon. (Not to mention the fact that it probably would not be a great idea...)

Not that it hasn't happened before...particularly if the programmer in question has other formats on his or her resume. But without any background or inside information, we'd be surprised if Mix was sporting anything but a Hot AC format at any time in the near future.

Of course, back when CC's Akron/Canton cluster was hinting at changes, we cautioned against assuming that sports WTOU/1350 would pick up a liberal talk format. Oh, well. At least we were correct that WKDD/98.1 wouldn't Jack up, and that morning icon Matt Patrick wouldn't retire!

WZKL/WDPN Alliance Engineer Passes Away

According to WZKL/92.5 - WDPN/1310 program director John Stewart, the station's mourning the loss of long-time chief engineer Steve Hundt.

The 57-year-old engineer had worked at the Alliance-based stations since 1967, and leaves family in Alliance and in Florida.

Our thoughts are with Steve's family, friends and colleagues at WZKL/WDPN.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Odds and Ends

Still on some of the topics which have dominated the blog:

* Liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron has finally solidified its lineup with the recent addition of various Air America Radio programming. As expected, AAR's Randi Rhodes takes the full 6-10 PM slot when she is not preempted by Akron Aeros baseball. A look at the weekday lineup is now found at the station's website:

The earlier site,, still works as well.

* Yes, we're sick of it, too, but one more Beacon Broadcasting item that's basically a throwaway: We hear WGRP/940 Greenville PA is now off the air. No word yet on whether this will stay in the Harold Glunt radio family, or if it'll be sold or LMAed to WMVL up in Meadville PA. And that's the last of that from OMW unless we get an answer, as both WMVL and WGRP barely reach across the Ohio border...

Note to Northeast Ohio radio stations not owned by a steel supply company owner: Do something! Change format! Sell! Blow out your airstaff! We want to move on!

(OK, so we're not serious about that part about blowing out the on-air staff, because we do hate to see people lose jobs. But we're getting Beacon Fatigue, too.)

THIS JUST IN: WLOA/1470 Farrell (Youngstown) To Glunt

Radio Business Report's morning newsletter says that WLOA/1470 Farrell PA, on the edge of the Youngstown market, is being sold by Holy Family Communications for $295,000.

The buyer? None other than Beacon Broadcasting, Inc., the company which itself is being bought in whole by Warren steel supply magnate Harold Glunt. Beacon owns WEXC/107.1 and WANR/1570, as we've said a few times already in OMW. Maybe a couple.

RBR's report would explain why WEXC/WANR's "Dr. Rock" (Ron Leader) was heard on WLOA over the weekend, and why the WEXC oldies format, complete with references to the FM station, is now being heard on 1470...a format no longer being heard on, well, that FM station.

What isn't explained: will the Youngstown market AM rimshot become the permanent home for oldies that used to be heard on 107.1, or will Mr. Glunt program it in concert or in complement with now-youth-oriented religious rocker WEXC, or whatever Christian format WANR picks up? Our bet here at OMW is the latter, and that "Wexy" is only temporary on 1470.

Just Checking In, And Two Minor Updates

The Ohio Media Watch staff is about ready to pack things up from our Southern Command and head back home, at least for a little while. Next time, we'll make sure the remote listening equipment works before we leave town!

And speaking of which, we're in and out of Ohio for much of the next month or two. We come equipped with The Laptop of Media Domination, and we know how to use it. And, the OMW staff sniffs its collective nose at hotel rooms that do not have high speed Internet connections.

Only one news item to report, from our tipster along the Ohio/Pennsylvania border. They're hearing what sounds like the WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA oldies format on a station that may or may not have once appeared on the OMW resume, WLOA/1470 Farrell PA. Furthermore, the format is being reportedly being promoted as "WEXC 107", while apparently not being heard on that actual station, which flipped to youth-oriented Christian rock a while back. (Maybe if people close their eyes, move around the 1 and the 7 and add a 4...)

WLOA has been programmed as a rimshot into the Youngstown market as a repeater for Holy Family's "Station of the Cross" (WLOF[FM] in the Buffalo NY market). The 1470 signal is not really all that great in much of the Youngstown market, but one of its nighttime signal lobes aims straight into Youngstown itself.

Yes, we're aware we've spent a lot of time along the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, virtually, but that's where most of the noise has come from. We'll try to make up for that upon our return to Ohio. But just inside the border, maybe another trip to Ashtabula is in order...where Clear Channel has reportedly finally signed on WYBL/98.3 with oldies, adding it to the cluster which includes news/talk WFUN/970, hot AC "102 Zoo" (WZOO/102.5 Edgewood) and relatively recent addition classic rock "The Fox 107.5" (WFXJ/107.5 North Kingsville). Is CC Ashtabula looking to pick up cowboy boots, perhaps, for its newest? That'd sure kick WKKY/104.7 Geneva around, a lot...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

As Predicted On The Blog

After running some Air America Radio shows over the weekend, liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron ("Radio Free Ohio") has indeed added some of the liberal network's weekday programming abandoned by WJMP/1520 Kent...which has moved to Fox Sports Radio.

Well, at least it was supposed to do so today, but you can never tell sometimes with WJMP... and since the OMW World Headquarters has moved a few hundred miles away for the past few days, we can't hear it ourselves. Heck, when we're at our usual World HQ, we can barely hear WJMP!

After adding much of AAR's weekend programming this past weekend, WARF has added, according to a number of listeners actually in the market, the network's signature host Al Franken for a live noon-3 PM clearance. And AAR's Randi Rhodes was heard on "Radio Free Ohio" this evening at 6 PM. It's not clear at the moment whether the station will carry her entire four hour show in the 6-10 PM slot, at least for now on nights with no Aeros games or other sports pre-emptions. P1/Jones Radio's Ed Schultz remains in the 3-6 PM clearance slot.

Our prediction stands - that Al, Randi and the weekend programming will be the only AAR additions to the WARF schedule.

Another expected event has come true, according to a listener near the signal range of WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA, the troubled Beacon Broadcasting-owned oldies station just over the Ohio/PA border. It's reportedly flipped to a youth-oriented format of Christian-based hip hop and hard rock music under the name "Freak 107". (I only hope the listener in question isn't making this up!) Still up in the air - what this means for co-owned WANR/1570 Warren or co-owned/LMA'ed WGRP/940 in that small PA community.

You might recall that incoming Beacon owner Harold Glunt had promised Christian programming aimed at high school and college age folks...maybe this is his answer.

We've been asked why we cover stations not in Ohio on this blog. As we explained in a reply to a comment, Greenville PA is just a few miles over the border, and the FM in question puts a very listenable signal into much of the Youngstown/Warren market. (I've personally heard it as far west as eastern Portage County with no problem.) And as noted, the Beacon cluster stretches across the state line back into Ohio.

We promise not to spend a LOT of time in western Pennsylvania, but the parts basically attached to Ohio markets like Youngstown are fair game. And after this station gets established, it'll be a while before we have to visit it again, one assumes...though we will check in with the Vilkie Broadcasting folks (WMVL Linesville-Meadville PA) and see if they're doing anything with WGRP...

Those looking for more regular Pennsylvania coverage are encouraged to visit my good friend Scott Fybush's NorthEast Radio Watch.

Monday, July 04, 2005

AAR Lands on Akron's WARF/1350?

Credit the Eagle Ears of Cleveland board regular nate81 for this one...

Nate reports that he's heard liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron ("Radio Free Ohio") running a wide variety of Air America radio programming over the holiday weekend. Among the offerings out of AAR's weekend schedule he's heard on WARF so far: Repeats of network stars Al Franken and Randi Rhodes, some "Morning Sedition" repeats, and weekender Laura Flanders with a holiday repeat.

This is something we suggested might happen when it was announced that WJMP/1520 Kent, up until now the area's AAR affiliate, would be changing format to Fox Sports Radio on Tuesday.

It would seem likely, though we have no confirmation, that AAR's Al Franken will end up in his live 12-3 PM clearance, bumping Thom Hartmann out of that slot in the schedule. AAR's Randi Rhodes would also seem likely - judging from other Clear Channel-owned liberal talk stations' schedules - to take part or all of the 6-10 PM slot after Jones' Ed Schultz. It'd theoretically be possible that AAR's Janeane Garofolo could get squeezed in somewhere there as well.

That would mean quite a bit of preemptions the rest of the summer for Randi due to the Akron Aeros schedule, but she's likely to get a dependable 45 minutes a night up to the Aeros pre-game, and at least one or two shots of an entire show per week, at least in the next month or so, until the season ends in September. The Aeros typically have one or two off/travel days in the schedule a week, which happens most of this coming month, plus a daytime game or two thrown in there. Unfortunately for Randi fans, August seems packed with evening games and little travel off time.

But for Randi and whoever else WARF picks up from the AAR schedule, it beats not being heard in the market at all...or perhaps part of the market, due to their soon-to-be-former affiliate's bad signal. And the AAR weekend programming nicely fills the massive holes in WARF's weekend schedule, which aside from NASCAR, Aeros and other sports events, has until now basically consisted of playing Ed Schultz's show in a marathon mode...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Week Ahead

As just about any determined radio/TV observer will tell you, format or programming changes in your home market usually happen when you're out of town. That's certainly true for OMW this week.

But just to bump up the list:

* Liberal talk WJMP/1520 Kent (Air America) makes approximately its 500th format change on Tuesday, trying to duplicate the stirring success 1350 had with Fox Sports Radio. OK, so maybe it wasn't a stirring success. Even fewer people will have the chance to listen to FSR on 1520, of course, because its signal is roughly intended for Kent, Ravenna and Streetsboro. If you're an Akron listener trying to pick up "WJMP Kent/Akron/Cleveland", you need to pull away from power lines, get out of the Merriman Valley, and reorient your car or portable radio in the general direction of Kent. And then, hope there's no thunderstorms in the region. And then, cross your fingers for luck. (Why anyone would do this to catch Van Earl Wright is beyond the scope of this blog.)

FM stations have long outpaced AM stations in billing and influence, with some notable exceptions... but this is ridiculous even for today's market. WJMP's horrid signal, which MediaCom apparently didn't feel the need to improve when WINW/Canton went dark a while back (before it relaunched as gospel "Joy 1520"), means it became the founding member of the "Format of the Month Club" in Northeast Ohio. They've been sports before, they've been both oldies and country, they ran standards (twice), they've had syndicated talk, and they even once ran the audio of their low-power TV combo, WAOH-LP 29/W35AX. About the only thing they haven't done is run a Spanish-language format, and that's likely only because the area doesn't have a large Hispanic population.

For those who are familiar with the Los Angeles market, WJMP is our local version of Saul Levine's AMs down there...Levine owns a successful FM classical station, KMZT/105.1 ("K-Mozart"), and his AMs in Los Angeles and Tijuana/San Diego have gone through a similar procession of formats. Locally, with top-rated talker WNIR/100.1 driving the MediaCom bus, "Kaiser Bill" apparently likes to experiment with that 1KW "east suburban rimshot daytimer" in Portage County.

* As noted below, the WKYC-produced Akron/Canton newscast which formerly aired on WVPX "PAX 23" is moving to Time Warner Cable's position 23, starting Monday. We only include this because we're not in the market right now, and can't get TWC anyway...and would like to see a tape of the first TWC "Akron/Canton News" broadcast on Monday, if someone's up to recording it. Drop us a note...our E-Mail is linked to our profile...if you're willing to send us a copy.

* We hear message board rumblings that another of our favorite obsessions, Beacon Broadcasting, may have already changed oldies WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA to a religious format. Any confirmation of this rumor is appreciated. The impending change is not a rumor... it is actually spelled out in the contract transferring Beacon to steel supply magnate Harold Glunt's control...but we're curious if it's happening sooner rather than later.

We have it on pretty good authority that those behind the WEXC oldies format ("Wexy 107") are trying to regroup elsewhere in the region, perhaps on another FM station or even an AM station.

To that end, OMW tipsters report that WEXC's weekend oldies host Dr. Rock - known as Ron Leader when he takes off the "DR" supersuit - was heard Saturday not only on 107.1, but also on Beacon sister station WANR/1570 Warren and oddly enough, WLOA/1470 Farrell PA. That latter station on his list is rather interesting, since it's long been a religious formatted station operated as "The Station of the Cross", with programming provided by Mother Angelica's EWTN. It'd mark the first time the frequency purveyed oldies since its days as WRQQ ("Smokin' Oldies, The Rock") in an automated local oldies format round about 1991.

It'd certainly be a format disruption for the station operated by the owners of WLOF(FM) Attica NY, in the Buffalo market...but perhaps Dr. Rock or the former WEXC oldies staff are brokering the time in anticipation of moving the oldies there at some point.

As always, we welcome any tips or news about other topics. We're kind of obsessed with news/talk/sports radio and local TV (and badly run small market clusters), so that's been most of our focus...but we welcome any information about other changes in Northeast Ohio.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Local Cable News Channel Coming?

When the future expiration of the Gannett/PAX agreement became known, some of us kicked around the future status of the Akron/Canton newscast then known as PAX 23 News. (See below for details.)

There were really only three options:

Option 1: Gannett somehow works out a deal to keep the newscast on WVPX/23. The biggest fly in this proverbial ointment...the very shaky future of both the PAX TV network (now "i"), and the company itself. For a while, it appeared PAX would start running pretty much an entire schedule of infomercials, and that obviously wasn't a very attractive place to put a newscast...even one which had already been established on the station.

One way or another, PAX could give Gannett no long term assurance that there'd be room for the newscast, or that they or a related entity would even own or control the station for the long term. Since the Akron/Canton newscast is a long-term strategy for Gannett/WKYC, this didn't work, per published reports.

Option 2: Gannett works out a deal to move the newscast to the market's other Akron-licensed commercial station, WBNX/55, the Cleveland market's WB affiliate.

That sounds interesting on a number of levels, not the least of which is the presence on an affiliate of a more high-profile network than PAX TV. A 10 PM newscast on WBNX would have a larger lead-in than whatever PAX puts on in the 9 PM hour, if only by default.

But there are a number of problems with this scenario. For one, WBNX is owned and operated by Winston Broadcasting Network, which is owned by a certain long-time TV televangelist with a bad toupee and a penchant for putting elderly folks on the floor. (While doing televised faith healing, that is. We trust that everyone in the market gets the reference. Those who don't, will have to consult comedian Robin Williams' excellent parody of the man.)

That introduces one very big problem...Rev. Ernest Angley is a TV host. And like the former owner of the then-Christian Broadcasting Network, Rev. Pat Robertson, he hosts a religious-oriented talk show at 10 PM weeknights on his own station. Rev. Angley reluctantly moved the "Ninety and Nine Club" from its original 9 PM slot to 10 PM when he agreed to have his station become the local WB affiliate. The schedule means that his show sometimes follows WB Network programming featuring witches and vampires, but who's counting?

With the presence of the WB programming alone, that'd preclude the earlier 9 PM late "Akron/Canton News" time announced this week. And there's no indication that despite its license city being Akron and its studios being in the old Cathedral of Tomorrow TV studios in Cuyahoga Falls, that WBNX has any desire to target only part of the market for any part of the day.

And we doubt that certain WBNX owner would move his show to 10:30 or 11...

So, that leaves us with...

Option 3: The option which happened, the move of the "PAX 23 News" operation lock, stock and barrel to Time Warner Cable, which is just months away from being the cable giant all throughout Northeast Ohio.

Why is that important? You read it here first.

Time Warner has started, operated or helped with a number of 24 hour local TV news networks in markets from Charlotte and Raleigh, to Austin, to Syracuse and Rochester...with a wave to our good friend Scott Fybush, an alumnus of TW's "R News" in that latter market.

In the newspaper story about the move of "23 News" to TWC's cable position 23, spokesman Bill Jasso noted that TWC had been interested in starting some sort of local or regional newscast on its Akron/Canton system for many years.

Could the move of "23 News" be the precursor for a region-wide 24 hour news channel on that cable channel (or another), after the Adelphia - and local Comcast - systems are added to the TWC NEO mix at around the end of the year? That move brings most of Cleveland's cable homes under the TWC umbrella, give or take a few small operators, and some Cox operations in the market.

As we're sure some will bring up, TWC has pulled back financially from some of its local cable news operations. It consolidated in North Carolina. It pulled out of at least some of the operations it shared with station group Belo.

But now that TWC's Northeast Ohio systems are in a joint venture with Gannett's WKYC, could a Northeast Ohio News Channel happen? They may not hire a separate local reporting staff and may run it cheaper, maybe closer to how Allbritton runs NewsChannel 8 in conjunction with their ABC affiliate WJLA/7 in the Washington, DC market.

The new channel could rerun Channel 3 casts and do a couple of news and sports talk shows to fill time, and otherwise utilize WKYC's news and talent. For that matter, they'd have a built-in sports talk show when Adelphia's Les Levine comes into the TWC fold with the merger! They could, for example, move or expand "Studio 3" from the broadcast channel, and have the WKYC newsroom do a 10 PM Cleveland-based newscast that they do not do now.

It could become for WKYC what MSNBC is to NBC, a place to showcase news talent, house live coverage and otherwise continue to build the Channel 3 News "brand". And if filling the overnights proves tough, there's the "NBC Weather Plus" feed.

This Space would not be shocked if it happens...and when TWC has the "critical mass" to put this thing into the bulk of area cable homes, it becomes somewhat more possible. (Please note that this entire message is speculation, and we've heard nothing about it in rumors, even away from the blog.)

And then, of course, the 6:30 and 9 PM "Akron/Canton News" would be just another news show on the station's 24 hour schedule.

If it heard it here first.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Channel 23 News Has To Move - NOW!

We kind of knew some sort of change was coming, but it was announced quickly.

WKYC/3's Akron/Canton-oriented newscasts, which have been airing on WVPX/23 as "PAX 23 News", will no longer be seen on the station which was once based in Akron as the area's second ABC affiliate. The trigger for the move? Local marketing agreements between PAX and Gannett, the owner of Channel 3, ended today.

Starting Monday, July 4th, the newly-rebranded "Akron/Canton News" will air on 23. No, not the over-air 23, but that cable position on Time Warner Cable's local systems. (It's convenient that TWC has, for some time, been using that cable channel for local programming already!) The current content and staff seen on PAX 23 remains in place, including veteran anchor Eric Mansfield and the reporting staff based at Main and Market...the location which will continue to double as home of the newscast and the Channel 3 Akron/Canton bureau.

It's mostly good news, except for the fact that the former PAX 23 News won't be seen over the air. And for that matter, we'll lose access to it at the World Headquarters of Ohio Media Watch, since we're in the part of Summit County served by Adelphia Cable. Since Adelphia's local operations are getting swallowed (gulp!) into the vast TWC NEO empire, that loss won't be for long. We wonder if it's possible for WKYC and Adelphia to somehow get the cast on at least the Summit County portions of the Adelphia system, perhaps on one of the access channels, until then.

To help draw newsies to a channel that otherwise airs a hodgepodge of local and public affairs programming, WKYC will feed its local version of "NBC Weather Plus" before and after the newscasts, according to Beacon Journal TV writer R.D. Heldenfels. The late edition of "Akron/Canton News" will air at 9 PM, an hour earlier than PAX 23's latest newscast.

And starting today, PAX is going to rebrand as a single letter - "i" (in lowercase, even) - as it transitions its traditional programming to a digital subchannel on its local affiliates. Of course, WVPX's digital channel hasn't gone up yet.

It appears Mr. Mansfield et al. got out of the PAX House before it started burning down!