Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Standoff Disrupts Lorain County Broadcasters

An overnight standoff with a man who left a Lorain County mental hospital, then holed himself up in an Oberlin barn before committing suicide early this morning, was also a problem for two area radio stations.

Regular OMW reader Nathan Obral tells us that the standoff location along U.S. 20 was "within shouting distance" of two locally co-owned stations, country WOBL/1320 and oldies WDLW/1380. That meant that not only could the stations' two morning hosts not even get into the studios to do their regular shows - Jeff Vietzen for WOBL and Rich Kelly for WDLW - but the stations' news departments were also unable to get on the air and report on the situation. Because they weren't facing the same problem, WEOL/930's Colleen O'Neill and WTAM/1100's Greg Saber were able to cover the standoff.

Local authorities also closed the nearby Lorain County Joint Vocational School.

Nathan tells us that since both WOBL and WDLW were running on automation when the standoff situation began, they at least were able to remain on the air... even if they weren't able to "go live" until nearly 10 AM.

Report: Jim Meltzer Out at Clear Channel/Cleveland

AllAccess is reporting tonight that long-time Clear Channel Cleveland market manager and regional VP/GM Jim Meltzer has left the building. They quote Meltzer: "I had a great run and we built some really great properties."

The trade website reports that the company's central region senior VP/GM, Bill Gentry, is looking for Meltzer's replacement.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Watch 19 Action News Wednesday Night - OR DIE!!!!!

OK, so it's a standard ratings-grabbing attempt by local TV news operations, and Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19 isn't the first to do it for its "19 Action News". But this one is especially over the top.

As videotape of various people standing at exploding, fiery gas pumps rolls, 19's promo announcer implores you that the station will have "THE ONE THING YOU CAN DO TO SAVE YOUR LIFE"... in its report Wednesday night on "19 Action News" called "KILLER PUMPS".

Presumably, the only way you can save yourself from catching on fire or getting killed at the gas pumps is to wait until Wednesday, and wait for the helpful folks at WOIO to give you that piece of crucial information.

Or, perhaps you can use common sense, and follow the instructions that are put up by nearly every gas pump in America. You know, stuff like don't use electronic equipment by the pump, and more importantly, don't build up static electricity by going back and forth between the inside of your car and the pump.

There. We saved you from having to endure the over-the-top "WATCH 19 ACTION NEWS OR DIE" hype. It's a public service, courtesy of OMW...

A Taste of Jim Rome

Some time ago, Salem Cleveland sportstalker WKNR/850 proudly announced that they'd be running a replay of Premiere midday host Jim Rome's show at 12 midnight each night. Some of us apparently assumed incorrectly that Rome's show would air in its entirety, from midnight to 3 AM.

Not true, night owls.

We heard this once before, but have verified it tonight. 'KNR's overnight "Rome Replay" is better titled "A Taste of Rome". The station squeezes the show into a much smaller time slot than a full 3 hour replay. The first time we heard this, Rome's replay ended at 1:30 AM (!!), just in time to make way guessed infomercial.

This early Tuesday morning, WKNR played the first segment of Rome's first hour from Monday. After a very brief commercial (promo) break, just 25 minutes later, they began the second hour replay of Monday's show. Assuming this wasn't a computer glitch, it sounds like they're hurrying things along for a 1 AM infomercial.

Anyone expecting to catch the full Jim Rome show on WKNR in overnights is apparently going to be disappointed. We checked the schedule on WKNR's sparse website, and it lists nothing after Kenny Roda's afternoon drive show...thus reflecting the thoughts of many sports radio listeners in the market, that 850 basically shuts down after 7 PM weekdays (except for an Ohio State game or two).

It's not like we can blame SportsTalk 850 for going after that easy overnight infomercial money...we just expected to get Romey in his entirety. But we're likely to raise the ire of the station's management again with this entry.

As we told them the last time they complained...if anyone attaches any credibility to our words here, it's entirely up to them. Though they apparently feel particularly attacked by us, we've mentioned many times that there's a lot we enjoy out of WKNR. (Scroll down a page or so to read just one example.) We'll mention another right here - we think station regular Neil Bender did a very capable job filling in for Kenny Roda on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and as mentioned below, he was our final choice on the radio dial that afternoon.

If you can't take our criticism, well, you don't have to answer us. OMW makes its motivation quite clear, and basically, while we do our best to strive for accuracy... we're just a blog with an opinion or two. That's all. We do not represent OMW as the Be All and End All of Media News and Opinion in this region, and never have. Any "swagger" you think you're reading here is entirely tongue in cheek, and always has been.

It's the Internet, after all. Take what you read with a box of salt.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"Tim, Dick, Robin And Casey - Together Again"

A brief promo for WJW/8's "FOX 8 News In The Morning" implies something of a one-day reunion of a former long-time station on-air team during Monday's show...anchors Tim Taylor and Robin Swoboda, weatherman Dick Goddard and sportscaster Casey Coleman. (You can also see a graphic promoting this at FOX 8's website.)

We're not sure what's up here. For one, Taylor and Goodard work together every night on FOX 8 News at 6. And Casey Coleman's current health situation is well-known...we'll be thrilled if he's able to come in to the FOX 8 studios tomorrow even for a brief appearance. Or, perhaps WJW will send out a camera crew to his suburban Cleveland home. On today's Cleveland Browns Radio Network broadcast, Jim Donovan noted briefly that Casey was "feeling well", and WTAM's web page updating Casey's condition would appear to confirm that...that obstacles to some of his cancer therapy seem to be in the past for now.

Robin Swoboda, of course, recently left the morning co-host position at Salem Cleveland CCM WFHM/95.5 "The Fish" for family reasons, and it'll be good to see her make such a visit as well.

Anyway, just a heads up from this corner...perhaps Tim Taylor's recent retirement announcement got folks waxing nostalgic up on South Marginal Drive, and they arranged this visit...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Here A Game, There A Game...Everywhere But...

It was an interesting afternoon looking for talk radio on the Northeast Ohio radio scene this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Almost everyone was out of their regular schedule, carrying a football or basketball game.

* WTAM/1100 afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno was not heard on The Big One...instead, the Cleveland Clear Channel talker carried a college football game of some sort. (We can't remember who was playing, but we THINK it was Nebraska vs. Colorado.)

* On Akron market talker WNIR/100.1, the voice of play-by-play man Bill Needle was heard, via telephone, from South Padre Island TX, as the Kent State Golden Flashes men's basketball team took on Rutgers.

* On Clear Channel talker WHLO/640 in Akron, we believe it was the Kent State women's basketball team in action. (All of this is starting to run together.)

* On CC sister liberal talker WARF/1350 "Radio Free Ohio" in Akron, your Akron University women's basketball Zips took on Cleveland State.

Would you believe who was NOT carrying any sports play-by-play on Friday?

Hang on, we'll wait.

You guessed it, the Cleveland market's only sports format radio station, Salem's WKNR/850. Instead of sports action of any sort, the mighty 'KNR featured...its regular afternoon sports talk show, with station staffer Neil Bender filling in for afternoon drive host Kenny Roda.

And oddly enough, the only OTHER sports format radio station in the region, MediaCom east suburban rimshot Fox Sports Radio affiliate WJMP/1520 Kent, was also running sports talk instead of play-by-play, with FSR's Scott Ferrall filling in for afternoon driver Chris Myers. (We don't expect much out of WJMP, and we don't believe it even gets sports play-by-play overflow from sister station WNIR.)

Believe it or not, as a listener, we'll give this nod to WKNR. Here at OMW Central, we didn't really have a lot of interest in an out-of-market college football game, or any of the local college basketball we ended up with Mr. Bender on our radio on Friday afternoon. We just thought it was odd that sports play-by-play was all over the dial on talk radio stations, while sports-formatted stations were doing regular sports talk...

More Indians/ONN Stuff

Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown does some more musing today on the prospect of cable's Ohio News Network (ONN) picking up the Indians TV deal this season.

This time, Roger speculates that ONN is hoping to ride the Indians' success on the field to prominence on Ohio's cable television lineups. Presumably, this would come in some parts of the state at the expense of the Cincinnati Reds, a team which we suppose Roger believes would lose long-time fans because the Reds stink and the Indians could be headed back to World Series Land.

We've heard of reaches before, but this one crosses a few counties.

One thing we did think about while sharing this news with a relative who has satellite TV at the best of our knowledge, ONN is NOT carried by either DirecTV or Dish Network. They only carry the local over-air stations, and FSN Ohio. If ONN picks up the Tribe, they'd surely want the satellite audience in Ohio, no? We haven't heard any rumblings that ONN is even aware of this potential problem...and the Indians 2006 season is not THAT far away.

One would also presume that the Dispatch Broadcast Group folks in Columbus - ONN's owners, not the state of Ohio, Roger - would want more money from both satellite and cable operators to cover the reported cost of picking up the Indians broadcasts. And as more than one OMW reader noted, Time Warner...just months away from becoming Northeast Ohio's most prominent cable operator...carries ONN on a digital channel. (119, if we remember right.)

In all, there are lots of hurdles ahead in this deal as far as potential viewers are concerned. OMW hopes the Indians are aware of that.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Indians TV Deal Reportedly Near

It's been an on-and-off topic in the writings of Cleveland Plain Dealer sports media columnist Roger Brown, but now the Akron Beacon Journal's Sheldon Ocker weighs in on the status of the Cleveland Indians TV contract talks.

Ocker says "word off the street" is that long-time rightsholder FSN Ohio is no longer in the running for the full-season (155 game) package, and that the bidding is between Dispatch's Ohio News Network and local NBC affiliate WKYC/3. (Unlike Brown, Ocker doesn't attribute ownership of ONN to the state of Ohio.) The reported rights fees could be in the neighborhood of $30 million a year, which is a pretty high amount for a market the size of Cleveland.

Ocker notes that if WKYC were to land the rights, it could ship off a number of the games to another channel, either ONN or even FSN Ohio, while airing a limited number of contests over air on Channel 3.

The Beacon Journal sportswriter says it's believed the Indians will announce their decision soon.

If ONN does end up with any games, OMW hopes that Adelphia will either move or fix the channel. It's at the upper end of the analog spectrum (channel 70), and is plagued with interference on all of our cable-connected sets. This could well play its way out separately anyway, as Adelphia's local systems are likely to be absorbed into Time Warner Cable by around the start of the 2006 baseball season.

The Luckiest Guy In The World

OMW would be remiss if we didn't pass along a link to this article by the Plain Dealer's Michael Heaton. It's the first in an occasional series of visits with WTAM/1100 morning co-host and sportscaster Casey Coleman, who's got a very hard road ahead of him...battling pancreatic cancer.

And it's only fitting that this article shows up on Thanksgiving Day. For despite being told he has about a 12 percent chance of surviving five years, Coleman still believes he's...the luckiest guy in the world.

Here's hoping Casey is in that 12 percent, and more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What We're Thankful For - Radio and TV Division

This was originally conceived as a segment called "What We Like" provide some positive balance to the occasionally not-so-positive points highlighted here and in other online venues. But since Thanksgiving is upon's "What We're Thankful For". And some local media outlets who take some constructive criticism by us will lead the list...

WOIO/19 - WUAB/43's "19 Action News": Perhaps the most frequent recipient of our barbs, but we don't dislike everything at the local CBS/UPN affiliate combo. The station actually has a pretty decent, solid field reporting staff, including market veterans like Paul Orlousky and newcomers like former WKBN/27 Youngstown anchor Catherine Bosley, who's apparently still a freelancer...but who's deserving of a regular slot.

And though OMW feels that WOIO often pushes OVER the "sensationalism" line...OK, maybe they stomp on it...there's something to be said for 19 staking out their position in the Cleveland market as a more lively, up-tempo newscast. We've always liked sports director Chuck Galeti, but our "guilty pleasure" at Reserve Square is hyperactive weather anchor Jeff Tanchak. He's basically the TV equivalent of NoDoz, and is fun to watch. His forecasting isn't bad either. While he's certainly no Dick Goddard on any number of levels, he did well in a recent survey of local forecasters by the Akron Beacon Journal. And for OMW, it doesn't hurt that the off-air "buzz" about Tanchak is very ego here.

We're also thankful for a pretty good range of local TV weather forecasters, from the frantic Tanchak, to the still upbeat but more calm Mark Johnson on WEWS/5, to the solid Mark Nolan on WKYC/3 (and Akron/Canton's Time Warner 23). And then there's the dependable Mr. Goddard, WJW/8's mainstay, who gets an entire category by himself, as he well deserves after keeping his finger on the area's weather pulse for over 40 years.

WKNR/850: The Salem-owned Cleveland sportstalker has taken more of its share of hits from this corner, and other local media observers. But since we're focusing on the positive, we're thankful for long-time local sports talk host Greg Brinda, who took over the station's midday position again after Bruce Drennan's recent, umm, troubles. The change instantly returned the station as a destination for the OMW Mobile's radio between 9 AM and noon.

Elsewhere on the schedule, we're not the biggest fans of afternoon driver Kenny Roda, but he usually provides a dependable sports talk stop when we're tired of a certain afternoon talk host up the dial. WKNR is also pretty good about the usual Indians/Cavs/Browns pre-game and post-game shows, in the typical "non-rightsholder" manner...and provides a much needed counter-viewpoint on local sports issues.

And speaking of which...

WTAM/1100: The station's 24/7 newsroom is vital for the region. And yes, though it's basically a "headline service", what do you expect out of commercial news/talk radio? We're not talking NPR here, folks, and nor should we. (Local NPR outlets like WKSU/89.7 and WCPN/90.3 more than ably fill that role, thank you very much.) There's still a talented news crew at Oak Tree, and we're still wondering if hard-working reporter Greg Saber is somehow hitching a ride on the station's decommissioned traffic helicopter. Either that, or he can actually be in three places at once.

Though we have made it clear that afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno isn't our favorite radio host, the afternoon show still provides some entertaining moments. And for now, one of OMW's favorites is alongside Triv...Indians beat reporter and "Weekend Sportsline" host Mark Schwab, who's clearly destined for bigger things.

While we're on the topic, we're thankful for not only our own health, but the continued recovery of WTAM morning drive co-host and long-time sports anchor Casey Coleman, and we pray for his full recovery and return as soon as he's up to coming back on the radio.

WNIR/100.1: The Akron-market talker still pumps out a nearly full schedule of local talk, 5:30 AM-11 PM weekdays, and now from 6 AM to 7 PM on Saturday. Midday fixture Howie Chizek is the host who got us started listening to talk radio at the age of 10 (!!!), back when the station was WKNT (AM & FM).

WHLO/640 and WARF/1350: While neither station features significant local programming, we're still glad they are there. The stations make OMW's midday talk listening habit difficult...adding right-leaning humorist Glenn Beck (WHLO) and the talented left-leaning funny woman Stephanie Miller (WARF) to our mix in that time slot with the aforementioned Mr. Chizek, at least for two of his five hours. (It's a constant problem in the OMW Household...everything we like is ON AT THE SAME TIME! It even goes to TV, too, where Tuesday nights at 9 PM have our TiVos and DVRs running overtime.) Beck and Chizek should be thankful that radio is not a visual medium, or they wouldn't have a chance against Ms. Miller, but that's another the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) is clearly controlled by a straight male.

640 and 1350 both do local sports programming of note, including both area major colleges, the AA Akron Aeros, and associated sports talk shows. And the newsroom is held down in morning drive by the capable Tom Duresky. All in all, it sure beats the former formats on both stations...mostly paid religious programming on 640, and satellite country and urban music on 1350, before its stints running ESPN and Fox Sports Radio.

As OMW is primarily obsessed with news/talk/sports radio and TV, we've given short shrift to some of the other good things about local media. But a quick trip into the music radio world would include folks like WMJI/105.7 morning icon John Lanigan, WMVX/106.5's Brian and Joe, and WQAL/104.1 middayer Jen Toohey (currently in afternoon drive). Stations as a whole which get our music listening minutes are in a wide range - from Akron/Canton's hot AC WKDD/98.1 to smooth jazz WNWV/107.3 out of Elyria. (And who said we don't have "range"?) We're thankful that we're in a region with a lot of choices between three markets, and some from nearby markets. We may not be here forever, but we'll enjoy it now, at least.

And...we're thankful that you're reading. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Jingle Bells

It's that time of year again...where somewhere around the ingestion of turkey and stuffing, radio stations start changing to that tride-and-true once a year fix, Christmas music.

Locally, Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 "The Fish" Cleveland was the first this season to start replacing its regular music mix with holiday music. And sometime over the past few days or so, Infinity AC WDOK/102.1 Cleveland also turned on the ho-ho-ho music machine.

Feel free to use the comments section below this item to let us know of any holiday flips we missed. Our good friend Scott Fybush is pretty much radio's official Keeper of the Christmas Music List, which you can find at

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

WXTM's Rover Picks Up Another Stern Station

Radio and Records Online, and other trade sites, report that Cleveland Infinity alt-rock WXTM/92.3 morning dog "Rover" has nabbed another current Howard Stern affiliate for the post-Stern era... and it's not an Infinity-owned station.

Rover will premiere January 3rd on current Stern affiliate KPNT/St. Louis, which is owned by Emmis. It's his second non-Infinity station...Clear Channel owned WMAD/Madison WI was one of the first two affiliates for his syndicated effort out of WXTM.

As reported here and elsewhere, "Rover's Morning Glory" will move its base from WXTM in January, and will be based at new flagship Infinity FM talk WCKG/Chicago, one of the company's FM talkers which has been rebranded under the "Free FM" name. Rover and his doggie pals will continue to be heard on WXTM after the move to Chicago. They'll also be heard on a few Infinity FM stations not taking Stern replacements David Lee Roth or Adam Carolla, in markets including Detroit, Cincinnati, Rochester and Memphis.

Monday, November 21, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: WJW FOX 8's Tim Taylor Retiring

Cleveland FOX O&O WJW/8 has announced the impending retirement of Tim Taylor, the station's long-time evening anchor. WJW reports that Taylor will step down shortly before Christmas.

Taylor's WJW bio says he came to the station, then a CBS affiliate, some 29 years ago after a brief stint as a reporter and weekend anchor at ABC affiliate WEWS/5. His 40-plus year broadcast news career started in radio in Ashtabula - we'd have to assume at WFUN/970, based on when - and moved to TV after Taylor came to Cleveland to work for WHK/1420.

Recently, Taylor and his popular veteran co-anchor, Wilma Smith, voluntarily cut their duties to the 6 PM edition of "FOX 8 News". Bill Martin and Stacey Bell now anchor the station's 5 PM and 10 PM evening casts.

It's a tribute to his longevity in the market, and his familiarity among viewers here, that we are having trouble not just calling him "Tim".

In this competitive TV news world, FOX 8 News couldn't resist a playful shot across the bow... a tease for tonight's 10 PM report says that Taylor's announcement was so important, "even the last place station in town tried to cover it". We don't have the ratings books handy to see which station officially holds that distinction these days, but a bet on "19 Action News" would probably not lose us the house on that one...

UPDATE: Tip of the hat to Canton market WZKL/92.5 "Q92"'s night-timer Pat DeLuca for confirming this - he says he saw 19's Sharon Reed talk about it on her "Buzz" gossip feature during that station's 4 PM newscast...

"19 Action News" New ND - No Changes

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19 has hired a replacement for news director Steven Doerr, who left to join a television audience research firm.

The new man at the helm of "19 Action News" is Dan Salamone, who was most recently general manager of Portland OR's CBS affiliate, KOIN/6. And as speculated right here on OMW when Doerr left, Salamone tells the PD's Julie Washington that he has no intent on changing the splash-and-dash "Action News" format, calling it "the most exciting newscast in the country" and calling other stations in the market "dull". That must have been music to the ears of WOIO/WUAB general manager Bill Applegate, who's clearly the architect of the station's news style...and who was no doubt looking for a news director who was of like mind.

You likely wouldn't find many similarities between WOIO/WUAB and Salamone's previous home in Oregon (its slogan - "News To The Point"), though he tells the PD that he doesn't see any problem in the adjustment.

The PD says Salamone saw the "19 Action News" ND opening "on a website", so we're wondering if perhaps he read OMW's item about Doerr's departure. (Yes, here on the Mighty Blog of Fun[tm], it's All About Us. But we're not about to sell "No Spin" T-shirts...and yes, our collective tongues are planted firmly in our collective cheeks.)

Ms. Washington also notes that WEWS/5 morning weathercaster Stephanie Roberts is heading to Tampa FL, where her husband moved 1 1/2 years ago. Replacing Roberts on "Good Morning Cleveland" and the GMA cutaways next month will be WLWT/Cincinnati morning weather anchor Susanne Horgan.

Friday, November 18, 2005

It's A Fishy Tesh In Cleveland

AllAccess reports that Salem Christian contemporary WFHM/95.5 Cleveland ("The Fish") is picking up the syndicated John Tesh radio show. It'll air on "The Fish" from 7 PM to midnight Sunday through Friday.

The local Salem CCM outlet isn't the only "Fish" picking up the show, as sister Fish KFSH/Los Angeles is also adding Tesh to their lineup.

And an apology...OMW is once again out of the Northeast Ohio area, as we travel with some friends and contemplate our future. (Navel Gazing R Us, we guess.) Since big things seem to happen in Northeast Ohio radio and TV when we leave the area, we half expect some station in the market to start stunting with non-stop polka music, or to change to a "play anything we want" format with the moniker "Grover FM". Any changes in the region, of course, we can still monitor...either in TV or radio... via our high-tech remote monitoring systems...for that matter, we'd still be able to do so if we left the area for good...

Monday, November 14, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: More Changes at WSPD/Toledo (UPDATED)

UPDATE - Monday, 11/14/05, 11:30 PM ET: We're told by folks in the Toledo market that now-former WSPD/1370 morning host Bob Frantz will reappear in the station's lineup in a couple of weeks...with a new 6-7 PM weekday show following afternoon driver/program director Brian Wilson. And we hear he'll have short-form features/commentary ("Frantz Rantz") in both morning and afternoon drive...

And a footnote to the earlier rumors of Michael Graham's involvement with WSPD - the former WMAL/Washington host has now finally, officially taken over the afternoon drive slot at FM talker WTKK/96.9 Boston. Former afternoon host Jay Severin mounts a new syndicated show with Infinity Radio next January, and WTKK will carry it in evenings if they are able to reach a deal with Infinity. As far as we know, no Ohio station has yet to agree to carry Severin's show, which seems slotted mainly for Infinity-owned large market talkers.


It's been a busy few months at Clear Channel Toledo talker WSPD/1370, and the on-air debut this week of program director Brian Wilson's new afternoon drive show is just one of this week's changes.

It appears afternoon fill-in Fred LeFebvre, who's held down the station's 3-6 PM talk show much of the time since former host Denny Schaffer left for WGST/Atlanta, will move to morning drive starting TODAY (Monday), replacing incumbent morning host Bob Frantz.

For his part, Frantz weighs in on the situation on his "Frantz Rantz" blog, in an entry which contains entirely too many sports metaphors. Calling Wilson his "new coach", Frantz promises the debut of a new show with "daily features, complete with public events, debates, appearances, and forums, which will essentially put (him) all over the station and all over the format clock." What Frantz does not tell us is if he'll have a regular talk show time slot. But it does seem like Frantz will remain with the Fighting WSPD Talkers, throwing touchdowns, hitting home runs or shooting from 3 point land for new coach Brian Wilson *somewhere* on the schedule.

Now, if you'll excuse us...we have this sudden urge to go to the concession stand to get an overpriced hot dog and a giant watered-down Coke.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Correcting Mr. Brown

OMW should probably do this more often, but Friday's column by Cleveland Plain Dealer sports media columnist Roger Brown prompted us into action:

* Despite what Mr. Brown has now written twice, the Ohio News Network (ONN) is not "the state's cable network". We have to assume he did NOT mean to imply that the State of Ohio owns ONN. In fact, the Dispatch folks in Columbus (CBS affiliate WBNS/10, sports/talker WBNS/1460, and the Columbus Dispatch) own ONN, and always have. The correct wording would be: "the statewide cable network".

And if Roger's speculation on ONN landing the Indians cable TV rights is correct, that'd probably prompt most of the state's cable operators to move it out of their digital-only tiers (Time Warner) or high analog numbers (like Adelphia, which has ONN locally on snowy cable channel 70). No matter who picks up the cable rights, we're pulling for WKYC/3 or another local station to pick up the over-air rights. The Indians have been off over-air TV for FAR too long.

* Brown notes that "many suspect" that Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 is "pulling a (ratings) stunt" with the dismissal of afternoon drive co-host Kim Mihalik last week. Huh? Who are these "many" you're speaking with, Roger? It was pretty clear to OMW, from both public and private sources, that Ms. Mihalik is no longer sitting alongside afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno due to Clear Channel budget cuts in Cleveland.

We're wondering if WTAM program director Ray Davis was chuckling loudly when he replied to Brown's E-Mail. It's almost as funny as the time a certain former Akron Beacon Journal radio writer prompted the mayor of Stow to check into WWVA/1170 Wheeling WV's proposed "move" to her Akron suburb, and to find out what zoning changes would be needed...despite the fact that the writer was incorrect, and Stow would only be the city of license for the now-abandoned proposed move.

For those who stumbled onto this blog elsewhere, it grew out of our long-time posts to the Radio-Info message board dedicated to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio radio. Like most topics, the regulars there have chewed over WTAM's dumping of Mihalik...but as far as we can tell, not a single person suggests that her dismissal was a "ratings stunt". And folks, this is a group of folks who can speculate a full-blown format change of an FM station to sports! (OK, maybe OMW was involved in that. We're still living it down.)

Roger's style is far too close to, well, what we do here. But, there's a difference. Roger Brown is employed full-time as a sports/media columnist for the largest newspaper in the state of Ohio, and his work appears in print up to four times a week in a paper with readers numbering into the hundreds of thousands. Ohio Media Watch is an unpaid effort by a mostly unknown columnist and his contributors, which appears on - if we're lucky - a few thousand computer screens over the course of a week.

"Many people" suggest that Mr. Brown's column is often more gossip than news. We're not entirely sure if one of those "many" people is a Roger Brown column staple, Ronnie Duncan...

It's not that we don't read Roger, and not that we don't really like him. He often has very interesting news tidbits. But...since he's basically the only game in town, OMW thinks Mr. Brown should be held to a higher standard than, say, a weblog.

How The "Air1" Network Gets to Cleveland...Via Ashtabula County

(Thanks to Radio-Info Cleveland board poster "brian_marchand" for the tip.)

OMW's known for a while that formerly local religious broadcaster WCVJ/90.9 Jefferson has been sold to Educational Media Foundation, better known as the California-based operators of the "K-Love" and "Air1" Christian contemporary formats. And we've also known that WCVJ's locally-produced religious programming has been replaced with "Air1". But it took the above tip for us to figure out why EMF bought a small FM station in a lesser populated area of Northeast Ohio.


In specific, as we've confirmed from the FCC's FM database, a Cleveland-licensed low-power translator at 103.7 has been purchased by EMF, from another religious radio operator located in Twin Falls ID. The FCC approved the transfer in mid-September. This FCC service area map shows the 103.7 translator's transmitter location is on Cleveland's east side. And we hear that it's indeed Air1 either already on 103.7, or slated to be put there.

There's a reason for this. Normally, EMF can use its satellite feed to "rebroadcast" a K-Love or Air1 affiliate thousands of miles away. But since 103.7 is in the commercial part of the FM band, FCC regulations require it to feed the translator over-air from a broadcast station. We'll assume a large enough FM antenna on Cleveland's east side can get WCVJ out of Ashtabula County...

EMF does this in many other markets. It's why they have full-power stations in California cities like Santa Rosa and Grass Valley, so they can feed other translators on the commercial band in big markets like, say, San Francisco and Sacramento. And the commercial band translators are just fine with EMF...considering that both of their formats sound like traditional commercial stations.

103.7 is an interesting neighborhood for EMF on the FM dial in's second-adjacent to Moody Bible Institute's Cleveland religious powerhouse, WCRF/103.3.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

It's The Al Frank....OOPS!

OMW hears that noted liberal talk radio personality Al Franken disappeared from the airwaves of Air America affiliates across the country today - including Akron affiliate WARF/1350 "Radio Free Ohio" - for a portion of the first part of his show.

Is it a "right-wing conspiracy"? No, it doesn't appear to be so.

We're told that a technician for Air America's satellite provider flipped a wrong bit or two during routine maintenance, and basically "decommissioned" all Air America Radio affiliates from being able to carry the network programming. The hour-long outage lasted until about 1:20 PM (ET).

Unlike the old days of "SEDAT", where anyone with the proper receiver could dial up the channel and hear the feed, today's receivers are "smart". The StarGuide system allows satellite providers to authorize and de-authorize the feed for an individual affiliate. We hear the goof earlier this afternoon de-authorized every over-air affiliate of Air America Radio.

Since the programming is highly-charged partisan political talk, we're sure some folks will come up with conspiracy theories. (You should hear what happens at a radio station when it does overnight maintenance which happens to pre-empt a Rush Limbaugh repeat! Not like we'd know first hand...) But from all appearances, this was just a technical glitch caused by an errant operator.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Former Northeast Ohio Radio Host Killed In Drive-By Shooting

OMW almost missed this one, because it was near the Beacon Journal's obituary section on Monday.

Former Akron resident and local radio personality Dale R. Allenbaugh - known on-air as Dale Richards - was killed over the weekend, in a drive-by shooting at a Florida nightclub. Police say he was leaving a job as disk jockey at the club in Port Orange FL, and that the club's manager was alive, but in critical condition. Authorities say the shooters were ejected from the nightclub earlier that night, and they're now being held and charged with first-degree murder.

The Firestone High graduate worked at local stations including Cleveland's WZJM/92.3 (now WXTM) and Canton's WRQK/106.9 before heading south.

And for older local listeners, his father's on-air name would ring a lot of bells. Better known as Bobby Knight, Allenbaugh's father worked at a number of Akron area stations, including WCUE/1150, WKDD/then-96.5, and WHLO/640. The Beacon Journal article says Knight is now working in New Smyrna Beach FL, but we'll be darned if we can get past all the Google search results for a certain college basketball coach to find out where.

Our sympathies and condolences to Mr. Allenbaugh/Richards' family, friends and former and current co-workers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

RMA "Megablast" Awards A Mega-Blast for Northeast Ohio

The popular trade website AllAccess is now holding voting for the annual Radio Music Awards' "Megablast" Awards...they'll be given out the day before the televised RMA show on NBC, which airs Monday, December 19th at 9 PM.

And the list of nominees for the award is overwhelmed by stations, air personalities and programmers from Northeast Ohio.

Cleveland's WAKS/96.5 "KISS FM" shows up courtesy of nominations in the CHR category for program director Dan Mason, afternoon driver and assistant PD/MD Kasper, who got nods for both roles, and promotions director Jeff Zukauchas. CC sister rocker WMMS/100.7 gets a nomination for program director Bo Matthews.

And Clear Channel Akron/Canton's WKDD/98.1 gets nominations for the station as a whole in the Hot AC category, for long-time morning duo Matt Patrick and Angela Bellios, and for program director/afternoon driver/cluster operations director/etc. Keith Kennedy. (The nomination is for his role as PD, though Keith's certainly got enough jobs to garner a list of 'em all by his lonesome!)

Rounding out the local nominees is Cleveland-based consultant Mike McVay and his McVay Media operation.

All of the local stations face some stiff, major market competition from stations and personalities in markets like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The list reads like a virtual radio "who's who" in pretty much every one of the format categories.

Maybe OMW should invoke our version of syndicated sports talker Jim Rome's "Jungle Karma". At least two of the people listed above are regular readers of this very Mighty Blog of Fun(tm). We'll cross our virtual fingers for the Friends of OMW category in the RMA "Megablast" Awards next month!

Steve Cannon Out At WTVN/Columbus

(Thanks to AllAccess for the tip.)

Long-time WTVN/610 Columbus late night host Steve "Boom Boom" Cannon, who's been at the Clear Channel news/talker for some 20-plus years, is no longer in the building. The station's website schedule now lists the syndicated "Coast to Coast Rewound" in the 10 PM-1 AM slot, a repeat of earlier shows from Premiere's George Noory. Noory airs live on the station from 1-5 AM.

We haven't heard why Cannon no longer addresses his nighttime listening army on WTVN, but we wouldn't at all be surprised if he's the latest victim of Clear Channel's budget cuts. The move comes just a week or so after the company's Cleveland cluster let go three employees for that very reason, including talk WTAM/1100 afternoon co-host Kim Mihalik and rock WMMS/100.7 overnight voice "Seth the Barbarian".

Cannon's name is familiar to long-time Northeast Ohio listeners. Before ending up in Columbus, Cannon held down middays at then-news/talk WHLO/640 in Akron in the mid-1970's. WHLO is, of course, once again a talk station under the ownership of Clear Channel, but this was the station's first period in the format under former owner Susquehanna. Following his time at WHLO, "Boom Boom" then headed north to WGAR/1220 in Cleveland, then to a brief stint in radio in Florida.

And to prove all news ties together in radio, WHLO's former owner, a York, PA-based broadcaster and dinnerware maker, recently announced it was selling its broadcast operations to a group headed by Cumulus Media...which owns a number of Youngstown/Warren market stations...along with Canton rocker WRQK/106.9. The bow of connections is neatly tied when you remember that 106.9 used to be WHLQ-FM, which was owned by...Susquehanna.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Format Change In Ohio Valley

OMW doesn't know when exactly it happened, but a Keymarket sister station to WOHI/1490 East Liverpool has apparently also flipped to sports as a full-time ESPN Radio affiliate.

A listener in the region tells us that WSTV/1340 Steubenville, and simulcast partner WOMP/1290 Bellaire OH/Wheeling WV, are now running ESPN. The simulcast pair formerly aired talk, with names like Westwood One's Bill O'Reilly and TRN's Michael Savage in the lineup. At one time, the station(s) had a local talk show host, Pat Campbell, who landed at Clear Channel talk WFLF/540 in the Orlando market.

It would appear that two factors are in play here - the Keymarket/Forever folks seem to be aligning their AMs as non-locally programmed ESPN Radio affiliates, with only local high school sports left not coming off the bird...and that the talk market is a bit crowded in the Ohio Valley, with Clear Channel talk WWVA/1170 and independent WKKX/1600 both competing in Wheeling with live and local afternoon drive shows.

WKKX afternooner George Kellas, a former WWVA voice, simulcasts his show up into the Steubenville area on WEIR/1430 in Weirton WV. Over on WWVA, "The Drive Home"'s Steve Novotney doesn't need a second signal with the 50,000 watt flamethrower his voice is heard over.

And then there's the talk format on WVLY/1370 Moundsville WV, which rimshots Wheeling from the south and airs yet another Ohio Valley radio vet in morning drive, Howard Monroe.

Again, we don't know when Keymarket flipped WOMP/WSTV, but it was likely within the past few days, probably at the same time as the WOHI format change. Last time we were in the Ohio Valley region a few weeks ago, 1340/1290 was still running syndicated talk.

There's been a lot of change at the company's stations in the region recently. WOMP/1290's sister station - long-time popular local top 40 WOMP-FM/100.5 - just changed to the variety hits format as "JACK FM". OMW hasn't heard it yet, but we believe WOMP-FM is using the new small market "JACK FM" 24/7 format package from ABC Radio Networks. And in addition to WOHI's flip to ESPN, WOHI's East Liverpool-based sister station - WOGF/104.3 - let go all local personalties, and started simulcasting "Froggy" country sister WOGI/98.3 Duquesne/Pittsburgh PA 24 hours a day.

It was especially interesting to read Keymarket's East Liverpool management saying that no one had lost their job when 1490 there went to ESPN, when the station's format change displaced long-time morning host Jim Martin. Maybe they have a different opinion of "losing your job" than we do here at OMW...ours generally involves being told that you aren't going to be coming to work anymore.

The Michael Graham Watch Continues

OMW's only been interested in this because Michael Graham, the former WMAL/Washington talk show host, had been mentioned in connection with the afternoon drive opening at Clear Channel Toledo talker WSPD/1370. Since these rumors started swirling around, the station hired veteran host Brian Wilson as program director and afternoon drive host...and we hinted about Michael Graham's future moves in the process.

Back in Graham's old home market, DCRTV gets into the act this afternoon, with speculation that Graham has "a good shot" at landing on FM talker WTKK/96.9 Boston. (That's the "Northeast corridor major market" situation we've hinted about.) The station could potentially have a huge opening - afternoon drive - as it continues to figure out what to do with local host Jay Severin. Severin recently signed a syndication deal with Infinity to air on a number of its big-market talk stations. If Severin does not return to the WTKK airwaves, or returns in a different time slot via his new national program, Graham appears likely to take the opening. A lot of this depends on if Severin's show lands at Infinity news/talk WBZ/1030 instead of WTKK. Graham will be filling in on WTKK all week.

Again, not really much related to OMW's territory here, but we felt the need to update it. We feel pretty safe to say that Graham won't turn up on the air in Ohio any time soon.

Friday, November 04, 2005

WXTM/92.3 Is Now Slats-less

OMW hears that "Slats", afternoon driver at Infinity alternative WXTM/92.3 Cleveland (now "92-3X"), is no longer with the station as of today. The station's "Nardboy" will temporarily fill the PM drive slot. (Remember when air personalities had first AND last names?)

Slats came over to the station once known as "Xtreme Radio" after years in the same slot at Clear Channel rock competitor WMMS/100.7.

The WSPD Job Is Filled

There's a new voice coming to town in Toledo, and it's not former WMAL/Washington talker Michael Graham.

Radio & Records Online (along with AllAccess and other trade publications) reports that it's veteran talker Brian Wilson who has taken the WSPD/1370 afternoon drive slot. And in addition to replacing Denny Schaffer on the air, Wilson also takes the program director slot opened when Al Brady Law left for KTRS/St. Louis. Wilson is reportedly "on the ground" in Toledo doing off-air work already, and will start his show in a couple of weeks or so.

OMW hears that Graham is setting his sights further east than Toledo, and may end up in a large market in the Northeast Corridor at some point in the next couple of months...

Wilson has worked at WBAL/Baltimore, KSFO/San Francisco and had a stint at WABC in New York the final years of its "Musicradio" stint, and a bit into the talk format which followed it. He's been spending most of the past few years doing vacation fill-in for talk radio stations across the country, as a part of a business he formed specifically to do that work.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

More Odds and Ends: Follow Up

This is kind of the way OMW is working this week, as we continue to chase the proverbial tail of stories we've been working on...

* Stand down on those Michael Graham-to-WSPD rumors. The Clear Channel Toledo news/talker may or may not be Graham's eventual destination, though we haven't heard for sure that he's out of the running there, yet. Instead, he could be aiming for a possible opening at a talk station in a much larger market in the Northeast.

* Day 2 in the Post-Kim Mihalik Era at Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland. (Question: Do you have "Eras" for co-hosts?) Afternoon drive motormouth Mike Trivisonno is still absent, and afternoon-sub sports anchor Mark Schwab filled in live from Quicken Loans Arena, on the day the Cavaliers schedule opened. Er...rather, from the Q, as team owner and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert would like to hear it called. Unlike the previous Triv-sub show on Tuesday, which sounded like it was put together roughly at 2 PM (say, when a memo may have come out), Wednesday's edition was much more solid. And instead of hammy tech producer Marty "Big Daddy" Allen riffing on sports, it was capable weekend sports anchor Stacey Yountz manning the 20/20 desk.

There was no mention of Triv's absence, aside from the fact that the station apparently fired up the ISDN and had the voice guy throw it to Schwabbie subbing for Triv. And not a single mention of Mihalik's now-permanent absence...though OMW expects that won't happen until Triv, uh, finally feels good enough to return to the WTAM microphones.

* Remember Jim Martin? He's the veteran Youngstown radio/TV personality who's now officially out at East Liverpool's WOHI/ the East Liverpool Review reports that the station has changed to sports "ESPN 1490". It's a story you read first many weeks ago right here on OMW, by the long ago that it prompted local management to not comment about the change to a newspaper reporter. And we hear that Martin has landed a part-time gig at Cumulus standards WSOM/600 back in his home market of Youngstown...though he's obviously looking for full-time work.

* And an item from the Land of Glunt: OMW's heard from just about everyone except the dog catcher in Greenville PA that Beacon Broadcasting Christian rock WEXC/107.1 ("Freq 107") abruptly fired program director Skip Tracy in the past week or so. And we do mean abruptly - a trusted OMW source tells us that it may not have been a voluntary exit from the building for Tracy. Matt Rhodes reportedly takes over as PD for the Youngstown market rimshotter.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

WTAM Afternoon Co-Host Out

We don't have a lot of details, but we've asked around...and as we hinted in an earlier note, OMW hears that WTAM/1100 afternoon drive co-host Kim Mihalik is indeed no longer with the station, due to budgetary reasons.

We weren't in town when she joined the station in the mid-90's, but Mihalik joined chief afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno after winning a station contest...and had no previous radio experience.

She's since become comfortable on the air next to Triv, and occasionally provided much needed "counterbalance" to the Boys Club of Triv, sports anchor Mike Snyder, and producers Paul Rado and Marty "Big Daddy" Allen. The pairing was considered so successful that Clear Channel sister talker WKBN/570 Youngstown brought in WNCD/93.3's Casey Malone to co-host afternoons with veteran station talker Ron Verb, who was hosting solo until that point.

OMW doesn't even want to think what Triv's show will be like without at least one co-host who doesn't eat on the air and ogle women, but we digress...

Howard Stern Aims At Cleveland Affiliate

He wasn't in the best of moods anyway, but syndicated morning star Howard Stern unleashed on his soon-to-be-former broadcast company, Infinity, on this morning's show.

Regular readers know that we're not usually awake in most of morning drive, so OMW read about this on this evening. The radio trade website noted that Stern was upset with not only Infinity, for touting its Stern replacements with a full advertising buy in Advertising Age magazine...but also that he was upset with his long-time Cleveland affiliate.

WNCX/98.5 reportedly took sound bites out of David Lee Roth's recent appearance on Stern's show, and used them in a promo for Roth's upcoming replacement of Stern on WNCX. The Infinity Cleveland classic rocker is one of a number of the company's stations which will carry Roth in place of Stern in January.

We haven't heard the promo, but OMW thinks Howard's just stirring up the publicity pot as he gets ready to head for satellite radio provider Sirius in January. Whether he's "offended" by it or not, what WNCX did was pretty standard procedure in radio...and Howard knows it. Besides, what does Howard expect WNCX and other Infinity stations to do - run promos saying "we love Howard, and you can hear him on Sirius after he leaves us"?

Some Odds and Ends, And The Future of OMW

Updating again:

* Thanks to a podcast archive service, we got to hear Kevin Metheny - Clear Channel's top Cleveland programmer - filling in for liberal host Jerry Springer on Friday. Springer's show airs on WTAM/1100 middays, and on other Clear Channel stations, along with most of Air America's affiliates.

Color us impressed. Metheny hasn't had a regular on-air gig since the late 70's, and by his own admission, it was his very first stab at talk radio. To our ears, he reminded us a lot of his Cincinnati CC cluster programming counterpart, Darryl Parks, who does a weekly show on Saturday on WLW/700.

Metheny opened each hour letting listeners know that he was a regular Howard Stern target while programming WNBC in New York City, and repeated nicknames for him (from Stern and morning man Don Imus) in good humor - "Pig Virus" and "Kevin Metheny, the programming weenie". It turns out that the local programmer is - by his own admission - a card carrying liberal Democrat, and was a teenage delegate for former presidential candidate George McGovern. (Talk about your "liberal credentials"!)

But he was also honest about his role in being the cluster programmer at a station which is this area's primary outlet for conservative giant Rush Limbaugh. We wonder how that went over with the Rush-hating liberal radio audience. Metheny asked callers to tell him what they wanted out of liberal radio, and many callers said they felt Springer apologized for criticizing the right too much.

Metheny, more than once, referred to himself as Springer's "talent coach".

All in all, better than we expected. Though, we could have done without the bits and constant references to Springer's reason for being absent - a colonoscopy. (No, we're not making that up.)

* We're not sure what to make of it, but WTAM/1100 afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno is off this afternoon. Triv taking time off is not exactly a surprise - he's basically got Johnny Carson's vacation schedule. But WTAM sportscaster Mark Schwab is filling in, in what sounds like a last-minute move, because show technical producer Marty "Big Daddy" Allen is doing sports in Schwabbie's place. Or, having fun with doing sports, that is. If it was last minute enough to not be able to bring in someone like a Chad Krispinski to do updates, we're not sure what's going on. And Triv co-host Kim Mihalik is also gone...make of that what you will, for now.

* We're expecting to make a major announcement in the next few weeks that will drastically affect the future of OMW, or even if we continue with this effort. No, it doesn't involve asking you for donations. We're not sure what it involves, at this point.

No, Not Michael Graham on WSPD/Toledo, Yet

Updating the entry below:

Via Clear Channel talk WSPD/1370 Toledo's web stream today, no, it isn't the voice of former WMAL/Washington host Michael Graham being heard by Northwest Ohio talk radio listeners this afternoon. It's Fred Lefebvre, a local radio personality who's been doing regular fill-in during the slot opened by the departure of Denny Schaffer to WGST/Atlanta.

Lefebvre's hosting this afternoon opened with produced station imaging welcoming listeners to "The Fred Lefebvre Show", but we're not reading too much into that. For one, the station has yet to update its webpage for the afternoon show, which only lists Lefebvre's name as an E-Mail contact (for his fill-in gigs). We also recall that WSPD produced an opening liner for Michael Graham when he filled in a few weeks ago.

Did things get delayed, or was the rumored information off the track? We'll keep an ear on it for you...even if Graham is "on the way", Lefevbre sounds comfortable in the slot, and would probably do a fine job for them if he kept the show permanently.

Like Mr. Schaffer, Lefebvre apparently also has a history on CC sister CHR WVKS/92.5 "KISS FM".