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...

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