Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Short Takes

A few short items on our plate this Tuesday evening:

* WKYC/3 VP/News Richard Moore is heading south, to take a broadcast journalism teaching position at the University of South Carolina. The move described in a brief item in today's Plain Dealer is something Moore says he's "always intended" to do. Moore's been with the Gannett-owned NBC affiliate for three years. For his part, WKYC GM Brooke Spectorsky calls Moore "a great leader".

* Satellite radio provider XM Satellite Radio has apparently figured there's enough traffic in Cleveland. But despite an announcement that XM is expanding its premium "NavTraffic" display system to include Cleveland, Cincinnati and seven other cities, we can't find any indication if that'll eventually translate to local reports on the on-air XM Radio "Instant Traffic and Weather" service. NavTraffic supplies data to GPS-based navigation systems, and hops aboard XM's national satellite footprint. The over-air reports are, if we remember right, provided by the Traffic.com folks.

* And former Clear Channel/Sandusky promotions director Dan Baisden - an OMW reader - picks up production and programming assistant, and swing on-air duties at BAS Broadcasting's Mount Vernon combo, WQIO/93.7 "Eagle 93.7" and WMVO/1300. But Dan? We're not sure a move from Sandusky to Mount Vernon is exactly "crosstown"...unless that word that involves a good chunk of Ohio... (We're teasing!) Dan tells us he'll also help out with BAS' Fremont-based operations...where the company has another AC "Eagle", WFRO/99.1...

FOX 8 Morning News About To Be Clipped By 2 Hours?

A small item on DCRTV this morning, quoting TV insider subscription site FTVLive: "It looks like the four hours of locally-based morning news on DC's Channel 5/WTTG are numbered. FTVLive reports that Fox is planning a national morning show in the 7 AM to 9 AM slot, to compete with like shows on NBC, ABC, and CBS. FTV says that a late summer launch is planned with Juliet Huddy and Mike Jerrick, who currently host the 1 PM 'Dayside' show on sister Fox News Channel....."

Of course, like WTTG in our Nation's Capital, WJW/8 here is also owned and operated by Fox. (Or, "FOX", if you prefer.) Like WTTG, WJW has a lengthy local morning news program, which runs from 5 AM to 9 AM weekdays. One would have to assume that if the network is staking out the 7-9 AM turf for a national show, FOX 8 would be an automatic affiliate as a network O&O... and "FOX 8 News in the Morning" would be cut back to 5-7 AM weekdays.

FTVLive is usually pretty "plugged in". It's one of those sites that trades insider gossip from TV newsrooms across the country.

We're not so sure that such a move wouldn't be a mistake. Clearly, FOX hopes to bottle some of the success it's found on cable...not necessarily with "Dayside", but rather, with FNC's own morning show ("Fox and Friends"). With FNC chief Roger Ailes taking over the broadcast stations group (the O&Os, including WJW), it would seem to be a natural.

But one of the reasons the FOX local morning shows do so well is that local viewers are looking for a local alternative to "Today", "Good Morning America" and "The CBS Early Show". Putting up even a fairly decent local morning news/talk show is usually a recipe for good ratings for any non-network affiliated station. In one of our former home markets, the struggling UPN affiliate basically got on the map because of its popular local morning show...a show so well received, they expanded it to 7 days a week recently.

We'll have to see. Would Cleveland rather watch the local morning crew, or Yet Another National 7-9 AM Show? We'll see.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Today's Debuts

The palatial OMW World Headquarters in northwest Akron is ideally situated to catch many of Northeast Ohio's broadcast outlets, but we're not well placed to hear two stations which aired major changes today.

Part of it, at least, was not waking up early enough to catch either WZKL/92.5 "Q92"'s new morning host DeLuca, moving from nights to mornings on the Canton market CHR station. For that matter, our post-morning drive wakeup call also precluded catching Ronnie Duncan's debut as the new morning host on Radio One urban talk WERE/1300 in Cleveland.

But there are also signal issues involved. Down here in the Akron area, WERE fights it out with some distant oldies station somewhere in America...all the way up I-77 until roughly the Route 82 interchange. "Q92", in the meantime, nudges back and forth with the more dominant WXRK/92.3 "92.3 K-ROCK" in the Cleveland market.

Anyway, OMW did manage to make that trek up 77 this afternoon...to get a brief earful of WERE's first day in the new format.

The station is now calling itself "News/Talk 1300 WERE, The People's Station"...the first part of that tagline also used by Salem conservative talk competitor WHK/1420, the last part being used by many other affiliates of Radio One's new urban talk network. We heard the last 30 minutes or so of Rev. Al Sharpton's 1-4 PM debut, and the first 45 minutes or so of the national debut of sports talkers "The 2 Live Stews" - otherwise known as Doug and Ryan Stewart out of Atlanta's WQXI/790.

Rev. Sharpton had a number of first day guests...we heard Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, an appropriate guest for this first day of Pre-Super Bowl Week in the Motor City. He also mentioned an appearance by Rev. Jesse Jackson earlier in the show. Jackson's Premiere-syndicated weekend show airs Sunday evenings on Clear Channel liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron ("Radio Free Ohio").

And we bring that up because Rev. Sharpton didn't sound too bad as a radio host. He's had some experience, doing a weekend show on WLIB/1190 New York City for some time now. (The Sunday show is local, and outside the auspices of WLIB LMA partner Air America.) Is Rev. Sharpton a "Rush Killer"? Probably not...if only due to the limited scope of the Radio One network, and its self-described mission to target African-American listeners. And that doesn't even take into account the anemic nature of many of its affiliates' signals.

Afternoon drive sports talk hosts "The 2 Live Stews" are much more experienced in "mainstream" talk radio, as a top-rated afternoon drive show in their home market of Atlanta. They sounded a bit more disorganized than we'd expected, though certainly that could be due to the new national syndication. But of the Radio One lineup, they're likely to have the most appeal to non-traditional urban talk listeners.

It's also a great week for their debut, leading up to the Super Bowl...one of the Stewart brothers is a former Detroit Lions player, and they'll be broadcasting from Detroit most of the week.

Unlike the debut of liberal talk's Air America Radio, both Rev. Sharpton and the Stews had less technical glitches and more affiliates. When AAR started, the place was mostly run by non-radio people...with little clue how to run a radio operation. Radio One's experience certainly showed with the debut of the "Syndication One" operation. And they're contracting with the folks at Premiere to sell commercial time, so the national spots were filled from day one on Monday.

It's difficult for us to rate this network. Not only has it only been on the air for one day, but we're not really in the target audience for it. (It might help to know that as part of the job, OMW's Primary Editorial Voice once regularly did news anchoring for an urban AC station in the mid-Atlantic...which must have been jarring for regular listeners of the syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show" in that market.) But it didn't sound like there were any major problems... at least in the time we heard the network.

One note: OMW hears that at least "The 2 Live Stews" picked up Radio One sports talker WING/1410 Dayton as an affiliate on day one, displacing ESPN Radio's "Sports Bash"...a smart move, as they're not only a sports show, but they're syndicated by "ESPN 1410"'s parent company. We don't know if any of the other Radio One network shows found a home there.

Down I-76, Pittsburgh urban AC WAMO/860 will dump that format next month to pick up the Radio One network offerings.

WNIR/TV 29-35 Owner Passes Away

Before Richard Klaus got ahold of it, 100.1 FM was a small, Portage County radio station... paired with sister AM 1520, and basically serving Kent and Ravenna and other Portage County towns.

Klaus, president and owner of the station now known as WNIR "The Talk of Akron", along with WJMP/1520 and low-power TV combo WAOH-LP 29/W35AX, passed away over the weekend at the age of 86.

Local radio listeners are well aware of his accomplishments. Your Primary Editorial Voice's addiction to talk radio started after listening to one of the first shows of Howie Chizek, who held forth on a new talk show on the stations then known as "WKNT AM and FM, Kent, Ohio". At the time...and we're talking about 1974 here...100.1 FM and 1520 AM simulcast a format of adult contemporary music, with middays held by Chizek's talk show. The date was not long after Klaus bought the stations in 1972, as we recall.

Then...there was a transformation, all under the direction of Richard Klaus.

100.1 FM embraced the talk radio it started by adding the former Youngstown market host. It changed call letters to WNIR, the calls standing for an early station slogan, "Winner 100". Local talk filled the schedule from Stan Piatt's morning show, through Chizek's 5 hour midday show, and eventually into afternoon drive with Joe Finan - who, oddly enough, will start competing with his old radio home next month. Finan's show wasn't on the schedule when WKNT became WNIR originally...long time listeners will remember the "GameRadio" afternoon drive show, which occupied the slot at the start of the talk format.

The other thing Klaus did of significance was to secure a power boost for the 100.1 FM frequency. With the signal opened up to a full "Class A" authorization at 4200 watts, the signal suddenly covered both Akron and Canton, and made the little Portage County FM into an Akron market powerhouse. And the "Winner 100" slogan gave way to the slogan still used today, "The Talk Of Akron". The station became a mainstay at or near the top of the Akron ratings book. We haven't checked, but we're pretty sure it hasn't left the top 5 12-plus for years.

Klaus' flagship radio operation built its empire on a mainly local schedule of talk radio programs. The station does not air any syndicated programming until after 11 PM on weekdays and 7 PM on Saturdays, even today.

And Klaus also established a television beachhead, putting on the low-power TV network of Akron-based Channel 29 and Cleveland-based Channel 35. One key decision on the TV side was securing full-time cable carriage on the Time Warner Northeast Ohio system.

While his son William (jokingly referred to by on-air staffers as "Kaiser Bill") has been running the day to day operation in recent years, those key pieces were the work of his father...who transformed the Akron radio market for good.

As far as talk radio goes, WNIR had virtually no competition in the Akron market until recently, when Clear Channel launched WHLO/640...and later, sister liberal talk WARF/1350. The presence and dominance of WNIR virtually assured that WAKR/1590, for example, would not last as a news/talk competitor...despite its "News Authority" reputation. WAKR's brief stab at a talk format was killed by a combination of WNIR's dominant place in the market, and Cleveland's blowtorch WTAM/1100. Despite the news presence, WAKR returned to a satellite-fed standards format outside of morning drive.

The Beacon Journal article on Klaus' passing mentions other work that is less familiar to local listeners...including his writing post-war novelty songs, a "plane-to-plane" interview with astronaut John Glenn, and his technical innovations in Cleveland sports broadcasting. The Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductee also worked with stations such as the old WJW-FM/104.1 and WERE/1300 in Cleveland, and Canton's WHBC.

Our condolences to the Klaus family and to the family at WNIR/WJMP/TV 29-35.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Why Not Hannity in Cleveland? And..."Ballot Box Stuffing"?

One of the biggest "missing pieces" of syndicated conservative talk radio in the Cleveland market is ABC Radio's Sean Hannity.

The FOX News Channel star's radio program does quite well for Akron's Clear Channel talk WHLO/640, and was recently added at Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting's talk WEOL/930 Elyria. Yet, despite becoming the second most-popular syndicated radio talk show in America - after former WABC co-worker Rush Limbaugh - Hannity can't get arrested in Cleveland radio itself.

One reason - Clear Channel, which carries Hannity in many other markets, has nowhere to put him in Cleveland. There's no room for him on the company's only AM station, WTAM/1100, with Mike Trivisonno established in afternoon drive, and sports play-by-play and talk filling the evening hours. In markets like Cincinnati, Clear Channel owns half the AM stations, and clears Hannity on conservative talk WKRC/550...which allows them to keep the original "Big One", WLW/700, free of syndicated programming.

We bring this up here today because of news out of Boston. Numerous trade websites report that Salem talk WTTT/1150 in that market is picking up Hannity in his live (3-6 PM) slot starting on Monday, February 6th. We think this may be Hannity's second Salem talk pickup, after Denver's KNUS/710.

So the question gets asked again - why doesn't Salem talk WHK/1420 clear Hannity in Cleveland? It's already added two non-Salem talkers, both from Talk Radio Network - Laura Ingraham in middays, and Michael Savage at night.

As for Hannity, he could well be one of the reasons that WHLO/640 has shown up in bottom rung of the Cleveland book for the first time in years - Premiere's Glenn Beck being the other. Other than a rights issue with Clear Channel and WHLO, we can't see why Salem hasn't picked up Hannity in Cleveland. Salem's Boston cluster moved quickly to pick up Hannity...whose delayed run on Greater Media talk WTKK/96.9 got pushed into the middle of the night as their schedule got too crowded.

You might recall from a story early in our run...that WHLO blocked Canton's talk/religious WCER/900 from picking up Michael Savage for a midday delayed broadcast. But Canton isn't Cleveland, and TRN isn't ABC Radio. It's easy to imagine Clear Channel insisting on Canton market rights for its syndicated talk programming, but difficult to imagine them holding a claim in Cleveland...where for one, a clear WHLO signal does not reach half the market.

One sidebar to an earlier item - WHLO sister liberal talk WARF/1350 has removed a website poll about forthcoming midday host Joe Finan. Clear Channel Akron/Canton operations director Keith Kennedy noted on this very blog that it appeared that a number of "No" votes were coming from the same computer IP address. We haven't heard if that address resolves to a Time Warner "Roadrunner" cable modem located somewhere between Kent and Ravenna...

New Show, New Job Posting

A couple of items on this early weekend morning:

* It's not often a new radio show starts with a built-in audience, and with some of its affiliates even unaware of it...but that probably happened tonight. Regular listeners to Premiere's "Coast to Coast AM" overnight paranormal-themed talk show know that Art Bell, the show's original and still part-time host, lost his beloved wife Ramona as a result of an asthma attack.

Art's left the show he originated, and come back, and left again. His most recent return brought him back to the "Coast to Coast" microphone at his Pahrump NV home two Sundays per month.

After returning to the show after Ramona's death last week, Art announced that he'd be back on the air again every Saturday and Sunday night starting this week. As he again told listeners just a few minutes ago at this writing, the show allows him to immerse himself in his work...in the process of grieving over his wife's death. (Having lost a very close relative ourselves about 4 years ago, we're certainly aware of that thought.)

The move displaced Ian Punnett, a "Coast to Coast" regular who had been doing the shows Art wasn't doing on weekends. But instead of putting Punnett on the sidelines, the "Coast to Coast" people established a new beachhead for him - "Coast to Coast Live with Ian Punnett", to air every Saturday from 10 PM to 1 AM Eastern time, before Art's Saturday show.

The first "Coast to Coast Live" premiered this Saturday evening. George Noory continues to host the weeknight editions of the program. The Saturday late evening time slot was once occupied by "Dreamland with Whitley Streiber" on a number of "Coast to Coast AM" affiliates...a program started by Bell himself, which eventually moved to an Internet-only broadcast.

The new Punnett show gets an automatic pickup on many "Coast to Coast" affiliates, since they'd been running the show's repeats - the so-called "pre-roll" - for at least part of the time slot. Among those stations - Cleveland Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 and Akron sister station WHLO/640, which both aired Punnett's debut tonight at least in part.

* Speaking of WHLO, OMW spotted this job ad online tonight for it, sister liberal talk WARF/1350 and hot AC WKDD/98.1:

"Clear Channel Radio Akron/Canton is looking for candidates for future expansion in our newsroom at our growing cluster. Daily duties involve gathering, writing, producing, anchoring news coverage across our 3 station group consisting of a conservative news talk, a progressive news talk and a HOT AC/Adult CHR. Newsroom is a 100% digital environment. This is a full time position. Send materials to: News Opening, Clear Channel Radio, 7755 Freedom Avenue NW, North Canton, Ohio 44720, and Attention Keith Kennedy. Clear Channel Radio is an Equal Opportunity Employer."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Why We Kept Talking About Joe Finan

There's a reason we kept mentioning the name of former WNIR/100.1 afternoon drive legend Joe Finan, who retired from the Akron market talker one year and change ago.

He'll be back on the air.

Clear Channel liberal talk WARF/1350 "Radio Free Ohio" will air a new midday program hosted by Finan starting in February. The new gig for Finan was announced officially by the station this afternoon, and WARF has already started hinting at his return on their website. Like the station's first pre-launch "Radio Free Ohio" website, the web page has a few snarky shots at Finan's former employer, and his replacement there, former Browns defensive star Bob Golic. (Yes, it's difficult to live down working next to a TV character named "Screech".)

OMW hears that Joe Finan's next radio chapter begins February 13th from 11 AM to 1 PM weekdays. The move will result in Finan's 2 hour show taking an hour each from Jones/WYD's Stephanie Miller and Air America Radio's Al Franken.

It'll be interesting to see Finan do something he's never done - compete directly with WNIR midday fixture Howie Chizek. Regular listeners to both hosts are certainly aware that there's no love lost between Chizek and Finan, and that they frequently threw on-air zingers at each other while they shared the same building. February 13th at 11 AM should be VERY interesting listening for that reason alone...

WTAM Weekend Host's Daughter Found Dead

Our condolences to Cleveland community activist Art McKoy, host of the Sunday night talk show "Black on Black Crime" on Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100.

McKoy had notified police and the media that his 36 year-old daughter Denise had been missing since January 16th. She was found dead in her Cleveland Heights apartment complex on Thursday night, according to an article in this morning's Plain Dealer. Police say Denise's body was found with a gunshot wound to the head, just after McKoy held a vigil for his missing daughter.

The discovery has to be upsetting, unnerving and eerie to McKoy. Among his other activities, he's well known for shining the spotlight on missing children and victims of violent crime. We haven't heard McKoy's radio show for a while...but we heard him on WTAM's newscasts Thursday, pleading for information about his missing daughter.

Just A Hello

Thanks to Lance Venta at Radio-Info, we're now a direct link on the left side of R-I's Cleveland board.

Now, as has been noted, it's not likely many readers of that board aren't familiar with the MBoF(tm) ("Mighty Blog of Fun[tm]", as we occasionally call this thing). OMW basically sprung from long-time contributions to that board by your Primary Editorial Voice.

But in case you've missed the numerous plugs and the signature file that leads you here...welcome!

It's kind of a quiet period in local radio/TV news, but we're about to get busy again... with such things as the debut of the new Radio One "urban talk" network on WERE/1300 on Monday, featuring local morning host Ronnie Duncan. Sometime in the next month or so, we could learn which local station will get the Water Closet network...er...the CW network. And Monday, we'll see if Canton market CHR WZKL/92.5 "Q92" night jock DeLuca can stay awake between 5:30 and 10 AM. (And why has the station hung onto the "WZKL" calls? We know "WDJQ" ended up on a Coast Guard ship for some reason, but couldn't they grab SOMETHING with a "Q" in it?)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Battle Over "The CW" In Cleveland

It's the Day After...and the fallout from the announcement of the new "CW Network" is beginning to be seen in Cleveland.

The new network, which will combine programming and resources of the folding UPN and WB networks at its September launch, caught everyone in the normally-leaky TV business by surprise. And we mean EVERYONE.

Both WUAB/43 ("UPN 43") general manager Bill Applegate and WBNX/55 ("Cleveland's WB") general manager Lou Spangler found out the same way everyone else did...from media reports of yesterday's surprise news conference.

Applegate tells the Plain Dealer's Julie Washington that if CW executives make a choice between his outlet and WBNX, he expects Channel 43 to be the winner...calling WUAB the "stronger candidate" due to its opportunity to cross promote via sister CBS affiliate WOIO/19. Over on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls, WBNX's Spangler says CW is "an excellent plan" and says his station hopes to win the race to become the Cleveland market outlet for "The CW".

In the Akron Beacon Journal, TV writer R.D. Heldenfels notes WUAB owner Raycom Media, and its continuing relationship with CBS via WOIO and other CBS and UPN affiliates...something we've talked about in This Space. But he also points out that WUAB would have to clear CW Network Saturday programming instead of lucrative weekend infomercials, and that a Channel 43 strength - Cleveland Cavaliers games - could get in the way of the new network's programming during Cavs season.

Either way, we could find out soon. Talks could begin as soon as this week or early next week. The winner will definitely be one of the two existing affiliates, as even if "The CW" was considering other stations, there are no other non-affiliated market-wide players in Cleveland. And both WUAB and WBNX seem eager to jump aboard...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More Follow-Up Thoughts To Items Below

* The Plain Dealer's full-article treatment on Ronnie Duncan's new morning radio gig is in today's paper, and surprise, it's written by radio-TV writer Julie Washington and not "Friend of Ronnie" Roger Brown (who's been absent from the PD's pages recently). We were surprised, as calling Cavaliers PA announcer Duncan "the voice of the Cavaliers" - a title usually applied to radio legend Joe Tait - sounded like a Brown-ism.

As it turns out, there were some 30 people auditioning for the new morning show on Radio One's WERE/1300 Cleveland, which takes the company's new "urban talk" format on Monday. And though OMW tipsters' ears did indeed hear WOIO/19-WUAB/43 reporter Harry Boomer, he wasn't a finalist for the gig.

In fact, Gregg Anthony, a local voice-over guy and broadcasting veteran, was one of those finalists... and WERE will tap his services to do local news on the new show. Two other media names were on the short list - former WKYC/3 reporter Ben Holbert, who toiled in the station's Akron/Canton bureau until recently, and WKBN/27-FOX 17/62 Youngstown part-time anchor/reporter Cynthia Barnes.

Washington also notes that "The People's Station" will move daytime brokered programs into other time slots, after Radio One's talk network ends at 7 PM weekdays and on weekends. But the brokered afternoon drive standards music block hosted by WERE OM Jim Davis and local radio vet "Tall Ted" Hallaman won't survive the format change. Hallaman continues a weekly show on standards WKHR/91.5 Bainbridge, the Kenston High School-based non-commercial station.

* More speculation on "The CW Network", the new hybrid which replaces TV's UPN and The WB this fall. Toledo could be an interesting market to watch in this regard. UPN airs in Northwest Ohio on WNGT-LP 48, a scrappy Class A low-power station that's currently in bankruptcy receivership. WB airs on "WT05", a cable channel run by the dominant cable provider in the market, Buckeye Cablesystem.

We're wondering if the Cornerstone Church, which is widely expected to take over control of WNGT, would make any play for the new "CW" programming...or if they'd just do religious programming. Remember, Cornerstone did run dance music on Toledo rimshot 96.9 FM/Wauseon, though they run Christian contemporary music on their WDMN/1520 "Dominion 1520". 96.9, by the way, was sold to CCM powerhouse network "K-Love", and now runs that network's California-based satellite feed.

No, it seems more likely to us that the stronger operation - WT05/Buckeye - becomes "Toledo's CW". The station is run like a regular over-air broadcast affiliate, and even has space on the DirecTV satellite service (Toledo locals, Channel 14 for some reason). It's about as strong a station as you can get without a transmitter.

Youngstown, of course, has no over-air WB or UPN affiiate. It's probably a foregone conclusion that "WBCB", a digital/cable-fed WB affiliate run by NBC affiliate WFMJ/21, will take the CW programming in September.


It's tough being the fifth and sixth broadcast television network in the U.S., so after September, there's going to be one less over-air network.

CBS-owned UPN and the Time Warner (Warner Brothers)-owned WB Network will be merging by the start of coming fall TV season. The new network will be known as "The CW Network". An official press release says it'll air in many major markets on CBS' UPN owned-and-operated stations and Tribune's O&O WB stations, with Tribune hosting the network in the largest markets like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

What isn't known at this early stage is how this affects markets like Cleveland, where neither the UPN or WB stations is owned by Tribune or CBS. Locally, Raycom's WUAB/43 "UPN 43" and Winston Broadcasting's WBNX/55 "Cleveland's WB" are the stations involved.

An early guess could have CW landing on 43, but we're not ready to stand out on that limb just yet. Winston, owned by well-known televangelist Rev. Ernest Angley, has been pretty serious about its affiliation with The WB, and has managed to run the place like a major market WB affiliate...despite its unusual owner. It's also been quite aggressive about picking up shows off the syndication market.

On the other hand, a lot of these deals are put together among station groups. Raycom currently owns five other UPN affiliates besides WUAB, and a WB Network affiliate. With major companies like CBS and Time Warner driving this bus, it may be difficult for a locally-owned single station like WBNX to wedge its way between those companies and another 7-affiliate group owner like Raycom.

One thing losing The WB could do - it could clear the way for Angley to move his religious talk show "The Ninety and Nine Club" back to its original 9 PM slot. We'll see in the next few months if that's important to him...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Former Canton Station Owner Dies

Don Keyes, who made his mark as a national programmer for legendary station owner Gordon McLendon (KLIF/Dallas, etc.), died today...according to his own website.

The site says Keyes died "from medical complications following a heroic struggle".

The local connection? Keyes left McLendon after buying WNYN/900 and WNYN-FM/106.9 in Canton in the mid-60's. The stations are now talk/religious WCER and rocker WRQK. After he sold the two stations to separate owners, he bought another station in Tallahassee FL.

After his time in station ownership, Keyes moved to Dallas to do freelance voice work out of Dallas, and wrote a book called "Gordon McLendon and Me".

It's Official: Ronnie Duncan to WERE/1300's New Talk Format

(Thanks to OMW tipster and Radio-Info Cleveland board regular Nathan Obral for the pickup.)

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's website reports this afternoon that veteran local sports voice Ronnie Duncan will helm the new local morning talk show on Radio One urban talker WERE/1300 Cleveland. Duncan will be the local component in a new talk format aimed at African-American listeners, which will feature names such as Rev. Al Sharpton on the national end of things.

The former WOIO/19-WUAB/43 sports anchor and former WKNR talk host has been working for Village Television, a TV production company which airs a slate of programming on Adelphia cable's Channel 20. He's also been doing public address announcing work for the Cleveland Cavaliers at Gund Arena, which the PD says he hopes to continue to do. (It'd certainly be in the tradition of the Cavaliers if he does...WNIR/100.1 midday staple Howie Chizek was the team's long-time arena PA voice.)

The PD quotes Jim Davis, who continues to be operations manager of the station...saying the station believed Duncan "wanted it the most". Among his competition for the gig was WOIO/19-WUAB/43 "19 Action News" reporter Harry Boomer.

The local morning drive show on WERE will run 6-9 AM weekdays, starting next Monday.

AllAccess Folo For Monday

Just a couple of items to pick up:

* As first reported on OMW, Canton market CHR WZKL/92.5 "Q92" officially anoints night jock DeLuca as its morning drive host, starting a week from today. AllAccess reports that part-timer Igor - who may well be reading this item - will at least temporarily fill the night slot when DeLuca starts his early wake up call...

* We now have a name for the early afternoon talk show in Radio One's urban talk radio lineup, which debuts on the company's WERE/1300 Cleveland next Monday. It's author Michael Eric Dyson who will fill the time on the network between Rev. Al Sharpton, and Atlanta sports talk brother duo "The Two Live Stews". From his website bio:

"Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is the author of Is Bill Cosby Right?, The Michael Eric Dyson Reader, Open Mike; Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur; Why I Love Black Women; I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.; Race Rules: Navigating the Color Line; Between God and Gangsta Rap; Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X; and Reflecting Black. He is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia."

He has some radio experience, as well...a quick Google search also turns up his commentaries on NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show".

There's no word on who WERE has picked to do the station's local morning drive show. Among the auditioners: Local sports radio/TV veteran Ronnie Duncan, and WOIO/19-WUAB/43 reporter Harry Boomer...

Report: ABC Radio Stations To Be Sold To Citadel

Yet another "ABC Radio is about to sell its stations" report, though this one seems closer to actually happening.

The New York Times business section reports that Disney may be near a nearly $3 billion deal to sell off its owned and operated radio stations to Citadel, the nation's 5th largest group owner. (Free NYTimes.com registration is required to access the full story.)

Despite wording in the article, it's never really been clear if ABC intends on selling its other radio assets, including its ABC Radio syndication arm (Sean Hannity et al.) and the ESPN Radio and Radio Disney chains. ABC could retain the latter two networks, if they're seen more as promotional arms of the ESPN TV network and the Disney brand. It's also not clear, at this point, how this affects ABC Radio's sizeable news division. Even the reported "near sale" is not really solid news at this point, as the Times says the negotiations could still break down and go another way.

There isn't a lot of impact in Northeast Ohio on any level. Disney/ABC owns just one radio station in Northeast Ohio - Radio Disney outlet WWMK/1260 in Cleveland. Down the road in Western Pennsylvania, they own sports talk WEAE/1250 "ESPN 1250" Pittsburgh, and operate Birach Broadcasting's Radio Disney affiliate in that market, WWCS/540 Canonsburg.

Citadel owns no properties anywhere in Ohio. They have a cluster in Erie, and some stations in Michigan and Indiana.

ABC Radio's newscasts air on a number of local stations, and ESPN Radio airs locally on WKNR/850 Cleveland and WTIG/990 Massillon. ABC's Sean Hannity airs in Northeast Ohio on WHLO/640 Akron and WEOL/930 Elyria.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Tying Up Some Loose Ends

Clearing up some loose ends and random thoughts:

* While we're on the topic of always-topical WTAM/1100, OMW heard a familiar voice back on his old show...WOIO/19-WUAB/43 sports anchor Chuck Galeti, on the air Sunday morning doing 'TAM's "Sunday Morning Sports Page". There was no indication if it's a permanent slot, though Galeti certainly has more time on his TV schedule now that the Browns are in their winter-through-summer hibernation mode. (Don't get us started about that other [bleeping] team's performance today.) Galeti was welcomed back by many callers, and even managed to be honest about his own recent legal shortcomings when talking to a caller discussing the recent DUI arrest of a certain NBA superstar's mother.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see Galeti back on "Sports Page" for the above reasons. We don't believe the show has a regular host otherwise...Kevin Keane was pulling weekend duty doing it during much of the Browns season. After Galeti stopped doing regular WTAM work, he ended up on then-WXTM/92.3's "Rover's Morning Glory"...a role we presume went away even before that show moved to Chicago.

* Some random notes out of Toledo. Legendary Clear Channel rocker WIOT/104.7 has officially picked up a new program director. He's Aaron Roberts, who's been PD of sister WROV/96.3 in the Roanoke/Lynchburg VA market. Like 'IOT, the station known as "The Rock of Virginia" is a popular heritage rocker...and the calls date back to the top 40 giant at 1240 AM in that area.

And across the hall at news/talk WSPD/1370, they're putting new morning host Fred LeFebvre and former morning-turned-evening host Bob Frantz in the same restaurant for a "town hall meeting" at a local Panera Bread outlet. They're aiming at high utility bills in the January 27th session. 'SPD has also undergone the same Clear Channel website makeover recently done by Akron's WHLO/640 and WARF/1350, and has hired a new street reporter who's apparently NOT using an air name: Katerina Bekyarska. We hear she comes to WSPD from Lima. The station's also added syndicated computer talker Kim Komando on Sunday afternoons.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Triv's Marathon and 102.1

Two thoughts this late night:

* WTAM/1100 afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno is in the midst of his all-night remote, which lasts on the Clear Channel Cleveland talk station until Bill Wills and company show up in the early morning hours.

And the program managed to get some attention for Triv and company, thanks to a blockbuster interview with former Browns owner Art "Pariah in Cleveland" Modell, who moved the team to Baltimore after the 1995 season...an event Cleveland sports fans usually have marked on their calendars in blood. It was apparently the first Cleveland media interview by Modell in many years, perhaps the first since the move itself.

UPDATE: We're been told by Alert OMW Readers that there have indeed been other interviews with Modell, apparently including one on WEWS/5 a few months ago. We missed those, and note that WTAM has been promoting last night's interview as "the first LIVE interview" from Modell since the move. WTAM says it'll air the segments again during Triv's show this afternoon.

Since even 10 years and a new Browns franchise later, he isn't exactly welcome in Northeast Ohio...Modell did the interview by phone from his home in the Baltimore area. And he held nothing back, despite saying he wouldn't really "name names". He ripped local politicians for reneging on promises, and said a "prominent state official" told him he'd be better off moving the team, since he "wasn't going to get any money out of those people (Cleveland et al.)".

Despite not "naming names", Modell did let listeners know that the aforementioned "high ranking state official" was having lunch with his wife Janet, and well, wouldn't you know, George Voinovich was governor of Ohio at the time...and his wife is named...well, you get the picture.

Voinovich got wind of Modell's comments and came onto the WTAM airwaves to take up the gauntlet, even cutting short an interview with Browns general manager Phil Savage. The former Cleveland mayor, governor and now U.S. Senator took a few shots of his own at the former Browns/Ravens owner on Triv's show...basically saying in the calmest possible way that Modell wasn't exactly the straightest shooter.

It was pretty interesting radio, and for once, Triv's "regular guy" interviewing style served him well...particularly with Modell. And it got Triv and the station some face time on local TV news tonight, as well. Unfortunately, after tonight's edition, the show will be back to normal...but it was Must Listen Radio this afternoon and evening.

* Just in case you were one of the three people in the Cleveland market who wondered if CBS' registration of the "1021freefm.com" domain meant possible changes for rock-solid AC station WDOK/102.1...feel free to jump off that train of thought. AllAccess reports that the OM/PD of CBS' AC station KSRC/102.1 Kansas City ("Star 102.1") is out. Chris Taylor also oversaw the cluster's CHR station. The VP/market manager of the KC CBS cluster says "additional developments" will be announced in the next 10 days or so.

Some Early Morning Thoughts

In our "If Mike Snyder can stay up and do a talk show until 1 AM, why can't we be productive at this hour?" department:

* It was indeed WTAM/1100 sports director Mike Snyder we just heard wrap up the "Alltel Post-Game Show" after a tough Cleveland Cavaliers loss to...umm...who was it this time, Denver? With the 8 PM Mountain Time start, the game probably didn't end until about midnight our time...thus, the late show. We're reminded that Snyder must be a radio ironman during Cavaliers season, and hope he doesn't have to join Bill Wills in about, oh, four hours from now. Snyder noted "The Mike Brown Show" with the team's coach will air tomorrow, er, later today from 7-8 PM...presumably giving Mike Trivisonno and company their first hour-long break in the previously reported marathon broadcast.

Live talk, even sports talk, on WTAM at this hour reminded us of the last vestige of local late night talk in Ohio...WTVN's Steve "Boom Boom" Cannon, who was recently let go from that 10 PM-1 AM slot at the Clear Channel-owned Columbus talker. His slot was basically filled by a delayed broadcast of ABC Radio's Sean Hannity. Unlike WTVN, which is mostly a regional station, WTAM is heard in those proverbial "38 States And Half of Canada" at night. Most nights after 11, that makes it roughly the 30th spot on the dial to hear UFO talk from George Noory and company on Premiere's "Coast to Coast AM".

And since we're tuned in to that program live at 1:07 AM, we can be the first to report that "Coast to Coast AM" originator Art Bell *will* do his usual Sunday night edition of the program this week. Bell is still reeling, no doubt, from a major tragedy...the sudden death of his beloved wife Ramona. Noory reports that Art "wants to do" the show this coming weekend.

* Regular OMW readers have noticed that we've had something of a minor obsession with mentioning former WNIR/100.1 afternoon drive talk host Joe Finan here in the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm). Some folks are reading a bit too much into our mentions. That's all we'll say for now, until there's actually another reason to mention Mr. Finan in OMW...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

That Triv Overnight Marathon

It's been hinted at before, but we now have a day for that all-night marathon that'll be hosted by WTAM/1100 Cleveland afternoon drive motormouth Mike Trivisonno.

The show announced on-air that Thursday will be the day when Triv and company don't slide out of the studio at 6:45 or so, to make way for "Triv Flashbacks" for the last 15 minutes of the show. No, they'll start at their usual 3:10 PM, after news and Paul Harvey's "Rest of the Story", and won't relinquish their perch at the Oak Tree Clear Channel World Domination HQ until Bill Wills shows up for the 5 AM start of his Friday show.

It sounded like the entire show's staff would be present, including producers Marty Allen and Paul Rado, newly minted sidekick Alison (now officially credited in Triv's liners as "The Hot Chick"), and traffic anchor Pat Butler. We're not sure if current afternoon sports update anchor Mark Schwab is also in for the overnight duration on Thursday.

We also believe the broadcast involves raising money for charity of some sort, though we didn't catch the name of the charity, and it's not on WTAM's web site...

Toledo Morning Drive Bombshell

As a Northeast Ohio-based operation, OMW generally doesn't cover each and every move in the Toledo market, but we'll mention it if it's "big enough". One would think this news would be considered "big enough".

From an ad posted on AllAccess:

"After 36 years, CLEAR CHANNEL AC WRVF (THE RIVER)/TOLEDO morning show host JACK "MITCH" MITCHELL of the MITCH & MARY BETH morning show will hang up his head phones to retire from the business. This leaves PD TOM COOK searching for a talented morning show personality to fill some big shoes."

Anyone interesting in following a 36-year act...feel free to contact Cook at WRVF, 125 S. Superior, Toledo, OH 43602. He requests no phone calls or E-Mail.

Q92/Canton Posts Night Opening

There's an update to OMW's earlier report...of the impending move of Canton market CHR WZKL/92.5 Alliance ("Q92") night jock Pat DeLuca to the station's now vacant morning drive slot.

Q92 program director/afternoon driver John Stewart has officially posted DeLuca's soon-to-be-old job as an opening at the station...in an ad which confirms our report of DeLuca's move to AM drive:



Can you stir the pot? Is your show full of personality? Do you make noise in your market? Get me your stuff A.S.A.P. Our #1 night jock transitions to morning drive at the end of the month. Don't send me liner card stuff cause I do enough of that from 3-7pm.

Send it to:
John Stewart
393 Smyth Ave NE
Alliance OH 44601



Please no voice trackers or networks. Phone calls welcome.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

CONFIRMED: Big Changes at Q104/Cleveland

UPDATE (5:55 PM 1/17/06): AllAccess confirms this item - first reported here on OMW - this afternoon. They also mention Popovich's other Cleveland radio background, at stations like oldies WMJI/105.7 and even at Q104's CBS Radio sister WDOK/102.1.

We remind OMW readers that Clear Channel hot AC competitor WMVX/106.5 recently got its own overhaul in the programming department, with the ascension of former Columbus programmer Don Hallett to the PD post there.

Original item below...and remember, you read it first here on the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)...the item below was originally posted at 3:07 this afternoon:


A reliable OMW source passes along this word:

CBS Radio hot AC WQAL/104.1 Cleveland is reportedly making some big changes. Our source tells us that program director Allan Fee is being replaced by a very familiar Cleveland radio name...Dave Popovich, who comes back to Cleveland from a gig programming Denver's KIMN. Popovich had an over 10-year run as program director of competitor 106.5, when the station was known as WLTF "Lite Rock 106 1/2".

The word is that Fee will continue co-hosting Q104's morning show with Rebecca Wilde, possibly until his contract ends later this year.

Developing, as Matt Drudge would say...

New Website Coat of Paint, Tuesday Edition

Clear Channel liberal talker WARF/1350 "Radio Free Ohio" becomes the latest of the company's stations to undergo a website overhaul. The move follows sister talker WHLO/640's website changes...but unlike WHLO, WARF didn't have a fully functioning website until now, as the sole content was a single page with the station's weekday lineup.

Could there be other, more interesting news be coming out of "Radio Free Ohio"? Stay tuned...

Two AllAccess Items

A couple of items on today's AllAccess Net News with some local interest:

* AllAccess notes the registration of "1021freefm.com" by CBS Radio. (This was brought up on the Radio-Info Cleveland board, and others, yesterday.) In addition to the company's WDOK in Cleveland, 102.1 is also the frequency of their AC station in Kansas City ("Star 102.1"). AllAccess notes that the Kansas City station's ratings make it a "much more likely candidate" for a format flip than WDOK...which is a perennial ratings and revenue leader in the Cleveland market.

We'd have to agree, of course. Another obstacle - the lynchpin of the "Free FM" format is its morning show, and two of the "Free FM" syndicated morning offerings are already airing on other CBS Radio outlets in Cleveland..."Rover's Morning Glory" on former flagship WXRK/92.3, and David Lee Roth on WNCX/98.5, Howard Stern's former local affiliate. Any such move on 102.1 here would result in one or both of the above stations having to endure major changes. But again, it's unlikely given the historic winning performance of WDOK. In the CBS Radio cluster in Cleveland, it'd be like blowing up a gold-plated Cadillac for a souped-up sports car...

* Premiere midday host Glenn Beck has signed a deal with CNN Headline News, and will host a one-hour program on the cable network's prime-time schedule. AllAccess quotes a network press release that the show will be "an unconventional look at the news of the day featuring Beck’s unique and often amusing perspective" looking at "water cooler issues." (Well, we're pretty sure they're quoting a press release...it's about the only place you'd find wording like that.)

The New York-based show starts in April. Variety magazine has more on the signing, and reports that Beck has moved his Philadelphia-based radio show to the Big Apple in anticipation of the new TV show.

Beck's midday radio show airs locally on Clear Channel talker WHLO/640 Akron, and Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting's WEOL/930 Elyria. Beck recently lost Clear Channel talk WKRC/550 Cincinnati as an affiliate, when that station picked up former Cincinnati resident Tony Snow from FOX News Radio.

92.3 K-Rock's Official Launch

In case you missed it on the radio, you can read it online.

CBS Radio Cleveland's alt-rock WXRK/92.3 "92.3 K-ROCK" has officially relaunched under that new moniker...the calls and slogan were both on New York City's 92.3 for years, until that station changed to talk WFNY "Free FM" earlier this month.

The speech given on air at just after 11 this morning by WXRK program director Kim Monroe is on the station's website this afternoon. (Despite the underlying URL stubbornly attached to this link, the station's new official website address is "krockcleveland.com".)

Monroe promises more 90's alt-rock music along with "more ground-breaking new music" and "no idiot talk", and seems aware that some may not like the broadened playlist:

Some of you are probably going to be a little disappointed in what we are doing, some folks wanted us to stay 'Xtreme' and keep playing Slipknot and Mudvayne all the time. Well, we will still play some of these bands like Korn, Disturbed, Rage, System of Down. And for more of a fix of the heavy stuff, we have the Metal Show for you on Sunday nights from 10-midnight. All I can ask is that you give us a chance, and we hope that you will like what you hear."

Monday, January 16, 2006

Where WERE/Cleveland's New "Urban Talk" Format Will Get Its News

As noted earlier here in the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), Radio One brokered talk WERE/1300 Cleveland is set to become the local affiliate for a new African-American oriented issues talk network...now scheduled to start in two weeks, on January 30th. Thanks to a bit of digging, we've found out what kind of national newscasts the station will run.

WERE now features newscasts from the USA Radio Network, which will likely go away with the new format...at least in daytime hours. In place of USA will be a new in-house news offering from "Syndication One" - which is the apparent name of the joint talk radio venture of Radio One and urban radio superstar Tom Joyner's Reach Media. The description reminds us of what liberal talk network Air America Radio does with its own in-house news service.

This word comes courtesy of a column by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel radio/TV columnist Tim Cuprisin, who tells local readers that WMCS/1290 personality Keith Murphy is leaving his Milwaukee morning show on Friday to be a daily news anchor for the new Radio One network. Murphy will also - in an unrelated deal - expand his XM Satellite Radio talk show to a 5-day-a-week program.

Q92 Morning Show Update

We haven't been near a radio before 10 AM, let alone near our only radio that can pick up Canton market CHR WZKL/92.5 Alliance ("Q92"), so we haven't heard what the station has been airing in morning drive after the departure of "Kathy and Tim" last Friday.

But the staff page on the station's website now contains this message:

Mornings Will Never Be The Same
Mornings 5:30am-10am"

For the nonce, it still lists night jock DeLuca in his 7 PM to midnight shift. OMW reported Sunday that DeLuca is headed for that open morning drive slot, though the composition of the rest of the show is open to question...

We'd check in more, but our Northwest Akron location is subject to interference between WZKL, and first adjacent WXRK/92.3 Cleveland Heights. That station, CBS Radio's alt-rocker in the Cleveland market and the former flagship for "Rover's Morning Glory", is set to unveil its new name and image tomorrow...as "92.3 K-Rock".

It's No "Stretch" - Better Picture Quality on Local Digital TV

OMW has no idea why, but two local TV operations have apparently decided to stop using digital "stretch" mode on locally-produced programming and commercials...on their digital over-air stations.

Sometime in the past few days, both WEWS/5 and WOIO/19-WUAB/43 stopped forcing 4x3 (originally analog) programming to fill an entire 16x9 screen. Actually, as of recent months, WEWS had a partial stretch - to roughly 14x9 - on its locally originated content.

Removing the stretch entirely is a good idea, as far as OMW is concerned. Most TVs and set top boxes handle picture manipulation much better than being forced into a certain mode by a TV station. When WEWS was in the "nearly full" stretch mode, both our cable STB and our HDTV computer tuner couldn't do a thing about it...either making it full 16x9, or reducing it to 4x3.

Bottom line: If the picture is to be stretched to 16x9, let us do it on our TVs or our cable or satellite boxes. On our Scientific Atlanta 8000HD, a simple press of the # key on the remote toggles between three screen display modes.

And there's one big reason this needs to be fixed: the sale of new 4x3 digital sets that don't do widescreen content natively. An RCA model is already on the shelves at your local discount store, and it's just the first of many that will flood the market between now and the end of analog TV, roundabout early 2009 or so.

The only local network affiliate still forcing 16x9 on the digital side is NBC's WKYC/3. FOX O&O WJW/8 has never used fake stretching, as far as we know. And most of the local stations have left non-HDTV network programming (reality shows, news) alone.

While we're on the digital TV beat, OMW notices that local PBS affiliate WNEO/WEAO-45/49 is not yet passing through PBS' prime-time HDTV programming. The Kent-based pubcaster used to run PBS HD 24/7 on its digital channels, but abandoned that recently for financial and other reasons. While adding two additional SD feeds (the Annenberg public affairs channel and The Ohio Channel), WNEO/WEAO was supposed to activate the HD feed from 7 PM to midnight... but has yet to do so. We suspect there are technical reasons behind it.

Plain Dealer Folo

A couple of items to post out of recent columns in the Plain Dealer:

* PD sports media columnist Roger Brown notes the departure of WKYC/3 weekend sports anchor Mike Cairns, who exits the Gannett Cleveland NBC affiliate on March 5 in what's called a "mutual decision". It doesn't sound like Cairns has another out-of-town job in mind, as he tells Brown he's staying in town looking for "another TV job". In today's column, Brown suggests that Cairns "may be a candidate" for a job with the Cleveland Indians' new TV operation...which is supposedly closing in on naming its announcing team. But the folks at "Fastball Sports" are apparently not yet close to announcing deals with other cable/satellite providers besides Time Warner Cable. (OMW would like to take the opportunity to repeat...Adelphia...Adelphia...Adelphia...and to remind the Indians' media staff that it's likely Adelphia and Comcast won't yet be absorbed into TWC locally by the time the first pitch hits TV...)

* PD non-sports TV radio columnist Julie Washington notes the impending departure of WOIO/19's 5 and 10 PM weekday anchor, Ryan Andrews. Andrews was about to be moved to the weekend casts - paired with regular Tiffany Burns. But he'd apparently already been considering a move, according to new news director Dan Salamone. Andrews' destination is not yet known, but it's out of Cleveland. Washington also notes that Salamone is looking to beef up the 10 PM edition of "19 Action News" on WUAB/43, and some other changes in the "19 Action News" newsroom. Andrews' place, at least for now on the 5 and 10 PM shows, has been taken by newcomer Jeff Eliasoph.

Washington's other brief item confirms what we speculated here a while back...the urban talk format on Radio One's WERE/1300 Cleveland will NOT start as soon as today. It's been pushed back a couple of weeks, to January 30th. That's also the start date of another new Radio One talker, WVCG/1080 in Miami.

The chain-wide effort to target African-American talk listeners reportedly includes a new midday show from the Rev. Al Sharpton, and an afternoon drive sports talk show from a popular Atlanta team of two brothers. Locally, there'll be a local morning drive show on AM 1300...which has seen any number of Cleveland media names auditioning for the opening. Among them: long-time local sports voice Ronnie Duncan, and WOIO/19 reporter Harry Boomer.

"Fishing" For Some Midday Changes

Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 "The Fish" is losing its midday personality and music director for another not-yet-publicized destination outside Cleveland.

The move was reported in today's AllAccess, and is also reported directly by the station itself...as the departing Todd Stach posted a goodbye message to listeners on the Fish website. Quoting: "I wasn't looking for another job. This new opportunity in another city came to me, and after a lot of prayer and thought...as a family...we decided to go for it!" Stach's last day at WFHM was Friday. He's been with "The Fish" for about a year.

Josh Booth, who's been the local studio producer for John Tesh's evening show, moves up to take the MD/midday slot starting today.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

More Dropping Shoes: Stop 26 Riverbend Bankruptcy

It took us a while to sort through this here at OMW, but it looks like the Stop 26 Riverbend stations in Youngstown and Columbus are a step closer to being sold.

The company filed for bankruptcy in July, citing over $20 million in debt. And in September, the bankruptcy court ordered Stop 26 Riverbend to either find new financing, or sell the five stations... including WRBP/101.9 Hubbard, WASN/1500 Youngstown and WGFT/1330 Campbell in the Youngstown/Warren market, and WVKO/1580 Columbus and WVKO-FM/103.1 Johnstown in the Columbus market.

After some digging, we've found what actually happened on Friday, the latest step in this drama. The FCC approved an instant application to change ownership of the five stations from Stop 26 Riverbend Licenses, LLC to the same company name "debtor-in-possession". We're not experts in bankruptcy law, but we believe that means an investment banking firm named Ocean Ridge Capital Advisors is now in control of the situation enroute to an eventual bankruptcy auction of the stations.

Know this financial stuff better than we do? The filing is on the FCC website under WVKO(AM)'s license applications (click on "Application" next to the top application granted 1/12/06), and a PDF version of the actual bankruptcy filing from July is attached to that application.

We're now wondering if a certain small Mahoning Valley group owned by someone whose name rhymes with "Blunt" is still sniffing around at least the Youngstown market properties...

Q92/Canton Morning Show Change (With Updates)

While driving near Canton, we caught a weekend jock on WZKL/92.5 Alliance, better known as Canton market CHR "Q92", tout the station's "brand new morning show" starting tomorrow. Without a lot of details, he said only that he knew the show would be "live and local".

Now...the "Rest of the Story". OMW hears that Tim Richards and Kathy Vogel are out as the station's morning drivers, and that night jock Pat DeLuca will be taking over the show. "Kathy and Tim" have been doing the Q92 morning show since August 2003, and Vogel was paired with former staffer Jim Chenot for a year and change before that.

Canton Repository entertainment writer Dan Kane says goodbye to "Kathy and Tim" in an item in Sunday's paper, though Kane doesn't mention their replacement.

UPDATE: There's word from someone we believe to be "Q92" station manager Don Peterson III on Radio-Info's Cleveland board... that DeLuca won't be starting as soon as this week, despite the impression given by the station's "listen for our new morning show" liners running this weekend. The online Peterson tells R-I readers that Ms. Vogel and Mr. Richards made the decision to leave after contract negotiations broke down on Friday. Quote: "I have always respected the job Kathy (and Tim) did and wish them well as they pursue their professional goals. They are very talented individuals and I’m quite certain they will land on their feet."

On the board, Peterson says there are "many questions we need answers to" before an official morning show announcement is made. We could pretty much assume that such questions include what actual shape the morning show will take around DeLuca, including co-host(s), if any, and other such issues. But one wonders why the station is promoting its new "live and local, entertaining" morning show if there's no actual show to promote...and *someone* has to be in front of the microphone tomorrow at 6 AM...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Two Words Going Into The Weekend

And goodness, these two words have popped up before in the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

The first word...Joe.

The second word...Finan.

Hmm, that sounds like the name of a certain former WNIR/100.1 afternoon drive talk host. We gotta stop looking over at the cover of the CD of his last show on that station.

Or is there another reason we're bringing up his name for a second time? Stay tuned. Definitely stay tuned. No, really, stay tuned. (Hey, the folks at AllAccess have their "AllAccess Action" section...)

We'll see if anyone's paying attention to the MBoF(tm)...have a good weekend.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Triv's "Big Announcement"

There's been a lot of scuttlebutt and message board chatter about a "big announcement" supposedly coming out of WTAM/1100 Cleveland afternoon drive motormouth Mike Trivisonno. (Check your Ohio laws about the need to describe him as such. We're sure it's in there somewhere!)

And OMW has done some digging. It turns out that the Triv show "announcement" is not likely to be about any lineup change, overnight rebroadcast or anything of the sort, though we do understand that Triv's planning an all-night marathon broadcast for charity again this year.

No, it appears the show likes a new voice that's been on the air for a while now. An intern known as Alison (we don't have a last name) slid into the role of, well, female foil for the male-dominated talk show. That role, ranging from reading sponsor billboards to bickering with Triv, was filled by Kim Mihalik until budget cuts struck last year.

OMW hears that "Alison" will become a regular part of the Triv show. We assume that means she'll actually transition from being an intern on the show. But even if they are paying her something, it's probably at a much lower rate than they paid Ms. Mihalik...

Glenn Beck Loses Another Ohio Affiliate

At last check, Glenn Beck was still syndicated by Premiere, right?

AllAccess reports that another big market Clear Channel Ohio talker has removed Beck from its schedule. It's the company's second talker in Cincinnati, WKRC/550, that's replacing Beck with FOX News Radio midday host Tony Snow in the 9 AM-noon slot. The Cincinnati Post's Rick Bird has details in a Tuesday article.

We didn't know this, but apparently Snow has ties to the Queen City. He was born in the small Kentucky town of Berea, and was raised in Cincinnati. He's the former host of the FOX over-air TV Sunday show "FOX News Sunday", and still appears on weekends on FOX News Channel. He cut his talk radio teeth subbing for Rush Limbaugh, while he was still a newspaper columnist in Detroit.

The Post's Bird quotes Clear Channel Cincinnati AM programmer Darryl Parks: "We just thought Tony fit the radio station a little better than Glen(n) Beck. He's been on here for four years and we felt (Beck's) program had run its course." Parks also cited Snow's local connection.

This continues Beck's "not so great" past year or so in Ohio. His show was dumped last year by Clear Channel powerhouse talker WTAM/1100 Cleveland after a very successful run. Beck ended up being picked up by Akron CC talker WHLO/640, and WEOL/930 in Elyria.

At least in Cincinnati, he didn't get replaced by CC/AAR liberal talker Jerry Springer...who already holds forth on his home and half-flagship station, WCKY/1530. And at least he hasn't yet suffered the fate of former Premiere stablemate Dr. Laura, who now counts 500 watt WCER/900 Canton as her largest market Ohio affiliate. (Dr. Laura's still sold by Premiere, but the company no longer owns her show...that honor goes to her own "Take On The Day Productions".)

In addition to Akron's WHLO, Beck still airs on two other Clear Channel talkers in Ohio for now - WTVN/610 Columbus and WSPD/1370 Toledo. But both have made lineup changes in the recent past...

Cleaning Up Loose Ends, Or Trying

A regular OMW reader E-Mailed us to ask about the status of several job openings we've posted over the past few months, and we wish we had more solid answers.

One answer we do appear to have is about the situation at CBS Radio Cleveland hot AC WQAL/104.1 ("Q104"), where former afternoon drive host Brian "Fig" Figula left some time back for a PD gig in his hometown of Flint MI. A quick glance at the Q104 website shows that the station appears to have decided on keeping former midday host Jen Toohey in afternoon drive, with John Connor taking over Toohey's old shift.

As far as the posted opening of Rubber City standards WAKR/1590 Akron's midday shift... it doesn't sound like they eventually hired anyone locally to cover the satellite-fed portion of the station's daytime programming. A listen to WAKR this late morning brings us the duclet tones of Westwood One's Jeff Rollins on its standards format.

It'd been rumored, shortly after OMW posted the job listing, that former WMJI personality Mike Ivers might have been up for the job. But it'd been widely assumed that if Ivers were hired, the station would move away from standards...and more towards 50's and 60's oldies...as the hire would be the station's new music director. For now, that doesn't appear to have taken place.

UPDATE: We've also been informed that it's Clear Channel Cleveland mainstay Daune Robinson officially taking over the WMVX/106.5 afternoon drive shift. She's also been heard on sister country WGAR/99.5 - where the webmaster finally fixed the misspelling of her name as "Duane" - and doing fill-in news reporting on the cluster's WTAM/1100.

WERE Urban Talk Start Date?

It's sometime soon, but we're still not sure when the new African-American-oriented talk format will start in WERE/1300 Cleveland...though it's likely to be soon.

The Radio One brokered talker was reportedly scheduled to flip to the new mainly networked format next Monday, January 16, according to station officials quoted last month by Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington. But we haven't heard any news or rumblings about that date actually happening.

For one, Radio One hasn't announced who will fill the national midday hole between a show hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton, and Atlanta sports talk duo "The Two Live Stews". And WERE hasn't announced who will front a local morning drive show the station will air before Rev. Sharpton's 10 AM-1 PM program...though former WOIO/WUAB/WKNR sports voice Ronnie Duncan did a live audition for a show a ways back.

To this end, a Miami station has announced that it'll pick up the new format, and set a date. The Miami Herald reports that Radio One's WVCG/1080 will drop Spanish brokered religion for the company's "urban talk" format on January 30. Like WERE, the Miami station will have a local morning show.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

NBC Is Selling Its Columbus Station

The rumors have been swirling for a while, and it's now confirmed...NBC Universal is selling four affiliates in its smallest markets, including WCMH/4 in Columbus. (Report from the Columbus Business Journal.)

The network is getting out of Columbus and three other markets (Raleigh NC, Providence RI, Birmingham AL) to concentrate on larger markets with a strong Hispanic presence...the company owns the Telemundo Spanish-language network. Industry rumors seem to focus on The New York Times Company as the potential purchaser of the stations...NYT owns a number of other TV stations.

PD Weighs In On Stern's Debut

If you've been on a tropical island the past two days, you may not have known that former CBS/Infinity morning man Howard Stern made his "off-air" debut Monday on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Plain Dealer pop culture writer John Petkovic was listening Monday, and checks in with his review of "The King of All Media"'s satellite radio debut. Though we heard the opening show as well, the most we've heard of Stern in his entire radio career, we won't spend a lot of time on what happened on a show that is not carried anymore on over-air radio.

But there's a nominal local angle here...Stern's former local affiliate, CBS Cleveland classic rocker WNCX/98.5, has been bombarding local TV with ads for replacement David Lee Roth. The ads for the new show featuring the former Van Halen star are, well, weird. But they air often. A lot. We don't watch a lot of commercial TV, but we've probably seen one Roth ad or another roughly 20 times since Sunday.

On his maiden Sirius voyage, Stern had some advice for Roth, including telling him not to surround himself with "yes" men who told him how good his panned interview with his Uncle Manny was on Monday. (This advice, by the way, came from a man who programs "news" shows on his Sirius channels solely about his own show and universe around it.)

Where go the Northeast Ohio Stern listeners? Probably, OMW guesses they'll scatter to the winds. Some will shell out the $50 for a radio and $12.95 a month for Stern. Some will land with another Stern replacement, WXRK's Rover. Some will sample from a menu ranging from WMJI's John Lanigan...to WTAM's Wills & Coleman...to syndicated guy talkers Bob & Tom on Canton rocker WRQK.

And some will stick around with Roth on WNCX. But it's generally thought that the former rocker will have to turn up his game to have a chance of long-term success...even to a moderate degree.

This Blog Post Is NOT Paid For By WKYC/3

With little fanfare, OMW noted a recent move of Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC/3...to basically move its late morning talk show "Studio 3" a little earlier, and rechristen it "Good Company" (10-11 AM weekdays). We hadn't really seen the show, and haven't seen it yet, until today.

But we felt something should be made clear. "Good Company" exists on the schedule not solely because WKYC thought the show, with personable Cleveland TV veteran Fred Griffith and two other hosts, would appeal to an audience.

No, "Good Company" exists primarily as a vehicle for the WKYC sales department. Just this morning, we've seen a segment about long-term care insurance that was clearly a thinly disguised infomercial for the insurance agent who appeared on the show as an "expert". That was followed by a morning show staple...the cooking segment. The segment was preceded by a sponsor billboard for the restauranteur who was participating in that part of the show.

WKYC is clearly not the first TV station to do this. It's a growing trend across the nation... a similar show in Sacramento caught the eye of the local newspaper media critic. We're not sure, but we believe WKYC owner Gannett's KXTV/10 in Sacramento was the subject of that scrutiny.

WKYC morning forecaster Hollie Strano was a part of the "Studio 3" cast, but cited workload in declining to move to "Good Company". It's not much different than some of the infomercial "advice" shows put on by talk radio stations on the weekends, like WTAM/1100's "Mutual Fund Show" on Saturday afternoons.

That doesn't mean we have to like it.

BREAKING NEWS: Cavaliers The Next HDTV Sports Team in Cleveland?

OMW spotted this one in the column of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports media columnist Bob Smizik, put online late tonight for Tuesday's paper.

Smizik reports that FOX Sports Net Pittsburgh will carry a schedule of Cleveland Cavaliers games the rest of this season, with the feed coming from Cavaliers TV outlet FOX Sports Net Ohio. (Scroll down to the end of the article for the relevant news.) Smizik says that FSN Pittsburgh will pick up 12 Cavs games from its Ohio sister network starting on January 27th, and "six of the games will be carried in high definition".

Here's what we're wondering - how? Unless we're missing it somewhere, FSN Ohio has never aired a Cavaliers' game (or any event) in HDTV. There's certainly no place for an HD version of FSN Ohio on our Adelphia cable lineup, though theoretically they could use an occasional channel... many such events take over a feed of InHD1 or InHD2 in other local markets.

But we haven't seen an announcement of such an move locally, not even in the inimitable Roger Brown's sports media column in the Plain Dealer. One would presume if Smizik's report is correct, games produced for a Cleveland sports team in HDTV would air in that format in, umm, Cleveland.

As reported here and elsewhere, the Cleveland Indians plan to air a 20 game schedule of games in HDTV on new over-air partner WKYC/3 this spring and summer. And it's widely believed that CBS will broadcast all NFL games in HDTV next season, including Cleveland Browns games...which didn't get the HD treatment much of this past season, mainly due to the team's anemic performance keeping it out of the list the most widely telecast games.

OMW knows we have readers in the local sports media...can one of you check this out for us next time you're at "The Q"? We tried to check FSN Ohio's website this early morning, but for some reason, it resolves to a company called McClaren Partners...a firm that builds websites, perhaps? And we don't see any reference to HDTV games on the Cavaliers' news page...

Monday, January 09, 2006

92.3 Picks Up Another Former Show From "The End"

In a story which apparently was not run on the Cleveland Plain Dealer's cleveland.com, but was spotted in the paper by eagle eyed OMW tipster Nathan Obral, another piece of Cleveland's former alt-rock mainstay is landing on the market's current alt-rock station.

The PD reports that the CBS Radio station now known as WXRK/92.3 will revive a show called "Inner Sanctum" starting next week, when it re-launches as "92.3 K-Rock". The program used to air on the station once known as "The End", WENZ/107.9, which is now Radio One hip hop station "Z107.9". It'll air before the established "Metal Show" on 92.3...on Sundays at 9 PM. In effect, it'll be a partial time-slot extension for WXRK's Pat "The Producer" Johnson, who airs solo from 5-9 PM. Nathan informs us that show co-host Jim Benson will also be on board for the return of the show.

Two Items From Roger Brown's Monday Sports Media Column

Just a couple of items we're picking out of the usual Monday sports media column by the Plain Dealer's Roger Brown:

* Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 is putting its "Sports Saturday" late night show on hiatus until the fall. Brown reports that the last airing will be January 21st. He says that among other reasons, "NewsChannel 5" sports staffers will apparently be concentrating on local programming around the Cleveland Cavaliers' 5 national TV appearances on ABC.

OMW's response: Channel 5 had a Saturday night sports show? Umm, we forgot, and apparently, viewers did, too. We did notice that CBS affiliate WOIO/19 dumped its Sunday night extended sports slot entirely with the end of "(Insert Name of Fast Food Restaurant Here) Browns Tonight"...which isn't terribly surprising, since the show concentrated mainly on the team and its game earlier in the day. But we were wondering if they'd convert it to a more general sports show, like competing programs on WEWS and WKYC/3.

* Brown confirms earlier rumblings we've reported here - that Metro Networks afternoon sports update anchor Ryan McNaughton has left the position for a TV job in Syracuse. The job is apparently an off-air producer's gig, we'd presume in the sports department of that unnamed station.

Brown did NOT correctly note that McNaughton is not an employee of Salem sports WKNR/850 Cleveland, which was the primary outlet for his afternoon updates during talker Kenny Roda's show. McNaughton's Metro duties also put his voice far from Cleveland... doing updates on Radio One sports WING/1410 "ESPN 1410" way down in Dayton. OMW feels it's once again important to note the difference, and wonders if the Cleveland market's only "full-time" sports station may actually hire an in-house body to cover, well, a pretty important function for a sports station...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

WAKR's Podcast Experiment

Since OMW's not a regular visitor to the website of Rubber City Radio standards WAKR/1590 Akron, we missed this until tonight. But it looks like the local station, which proudly proclaims itself as the Akron market's "News Authority", is dipping its toes into the waters of 21st Century technology.

WAKR set up an experimental podcast section on the news audio page of its site at WAKR.net. The page, as we view it tonight, has the usual audio links from some recent stories...as downloadable MP3 files. But go a little lower, and you'll find a URL for station audio in podcast format.

We plugged the URL into iTunes tonight, and were basically inundated with what looks like the station's entire coverage of the Cynthia George murder trial...from beginning to end. There are also some reports on the recent decision that freed Clarence Elkins from prison.

Podcasting isn't really technically a "new technology". It's basically just automated MP3 file download to an MP3 player. Other stations, like Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 in Cleveland, have an extensive MP3 download section. But this "experiment" means that WAKR news audio will be deposited directly onto the OMW Official iPod without daily intervention. OMW's been a strong, strong proponent of local radio operations - and now TV - jumping onto this bandwagon...going where their listeners go, in other words.

We may not be fans of the standards format that WAKR runs for the greater part of the day, but now, we'll get their news audio without remembering that "oh, that station that plays the standards also has an hourly newscast every single hour!" And maybe when we're not near the iPod, we'll check them out more often...having been reminded of their on-air presence.

Some broadcasters are getting into the podcasting universe in a big way. Many large market Clear Channel-owned talkers are offering daily downloads of the entire shows of their local hosts. (Yes, that means a podcast version of Mike Trivisonno's show probably isn't far off. Remember, subscribing to podcasts is a voluntary action.) We actually keep track of a former co-worker this way. And on the TV side, we're subscribed to WEWS/5's podcast audio version of their "NewsChannel 5 at Noon". With the iPod now supporting video, we'll probably soon be able to watch local TV news on our iPod while nowhere near Northeast Ohio...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

"Akron/Canton News" Moves Its Late Edition

Time Warner Cable/WKYC's "Akron/Canton News" is moving its second daily broadcast.

Akron Beacon Journal TV columnist R.D. Heldenfels reports that the 9 PM local news program produced for TWC by the Cleveland NBC affiliate moves to 10 PM starting on Monday. That's the original late slot once occupied by the show when it was "PAX 23 News", over air on WVPX/23. The 6:30 PM edition of "Akron/Canton News" doesn't move.

WKYC news VP Dick Moore calls the new/old later time a "better fit" for news viewers, and it certainly takes it out of the 9 PM entertainment programming race. But there's one other possibility that neither Moore, or Heldenfels, mentions.

The recent move to air Cleveland Indians games on TWC 23 almost makes this time slot change a necessity. Continuing with a 9 PM start on that channel this spring would push "Akron/Canton News" well past 9 PM on most nights, and maybe as late as 10:30 PM after post-game shows. For that matter, what happens to the 6:30 PM "Akron/Canton News" broadcast if the Indians' new network produces a pre-game show to a 7 PM start game?

There is one alternate possibility in both cases - either TWC moves "Akron/Canton News" to another unused cable channel, or that they don't run it live during Indians' conflicts...and solely offer it on their special on demand channel (1123). The other problem with moving the show time-wise is technical at WKYC's end...they can't do it live any earlier than 6:30, or later than 10:30, due to WKYC's own newscasts. The show's switched out of WKYC master control in Cleveland, and a moved show wouldn't be able to use the live services of Channel 3's sports and weather folks.

Anyway, there ARE options for the show after the cry of "Play Ball!"...we just don't know what they'll do at this early stage in the game.

And can't you just tell that Heldenfels is tired of answering mailbag question after mailbag question from people who "can't find" the newscast which used to be on over-air channel 23? You can almost read his frustration in this paragraph: "The Akron/Canton news is on Time Warner Cable position 23. That is not broadcast Channel 23, which used to have the news, and is on cable position 4. This is cable position 23, between Home Shopping Network (position 22) and CNN (position 24)."

Friday, January 06, 2006

We've Seen The TV Future

Those old days where the living room TV or the small set in the bedroom was the only place to consume TV content are rapidly disappearing. And some new things are emerging in the race for TV's future.

OMW's latest obsession is costing us something on the order of $25 a year. It's CNN's "Pipeline" service, TV news web video on super steroids. The biggest feature in our news junkie eyes? Live "raw" video and lots of it. From the menu we found when checking in at about 9 this morning - a four-feed presidential and vice-presidential smorgasbord featuring simultaneous live feeds from both officeholders, First Lady Laura Bush and others - the video eatings only got better.

If you're one of those folks who shouts at the TV when cable news goes away from the latest breaking news video, from car chases to water tower rescues to a massive fire at a Chicago church, "Pipeline" doesn't disappoint. We've seen all of the above in the two days we've had it up and running.

OK, so it's not really all that meaningful in the scheme of things. It's sort of televised cotton candy when they're not streaming important official speeches, or press conferences from the site of major news stories...like the West Virginia mining disaster or Ariel Sharon's hospital. But it's kind of like being in the control room of a TV station, and being able to do things like choose between the live helicopter feeds of two CNN affiliates providing different angles of the story. That was the case for all of the above stories we saw.

Some of it is silly, like live shots of the White House or the president's plane leaving Chicago. But the video quality is easily among the very best we've seen on the Internet, and even holds up fairly well on a full screen expansion. It isn't perfect at that resolution, but live video and all newer CNN.com clips on the service are widescreen, which fit our 15.4" widescreen laptop screen quite well. The regular size and smaller clips are very sharp. This isn't 20kbps small screen video here, folks.

As such, the Pipeline service does require broadband Internet, and the actual downloadable program you can use will take up to 700kbps streaming the service. If you have the horsepower and Internet speed to handle it, it's beautiful. The downloadable version works on a PC, and there's a web-only version that'll work on either PC or Macintosh...with features only slightly less than the stand-alone program. That program features four small live video screens which show you what's being fed on the four "live pipes" the service has...you click once to switch screens, twice to make it full screen.

At night, "Pipeline" features a live feed of the overseas-oriented CNN International (8 PM-8 AM), and the live "Pipeline Overnight" feeds often contain raw video or reporter standups fed to local affiliates. They're direct from CNN's "Newsource" affiliate video satellite feeds. The middle live "pipes" aren't as busy at night, or apparently on weekends, but there's still occasionally something to watch. And if you aren't seeing much, you can dip into or search the extensive CNN.com video archive.

"Pipeline" offers a 14-day free trial, though you do have to give them your credit card billing information to take advantage of it. The prices are very reasonable for a pay video service, at $2.95 a month, or $25 a year...with a 99 cent one day pass also available. At OMW World Headquarters, the monthly technology-related bills are mounting to rather scary levels, but it's hard to complain about something that costs that little.

So, what does all this have to do with our core mission, Northeast Ohio media?

For one, as noted, the service does feed local affiliate video of breaking news stories. If we get something of note here, material from CNN's local affiliates out of Cleveland will likely be found on the "Pipeline" feeds...it seems they don't send up the anchors or live broadcast video, but mostly live helicopter or wild video. A quick Google search shows all four major local TV news operations have, or at least have had, ties with CNN.

But we're also wondering when local stations start getting into this game, if it proves successful for CNN. All Cleveland stations with news, except WJW FOX 8, offer recorded news video clips on their websites. CBS affiliate WOIO/19 offers large portions of their newscasts. NBC affiliate WKYC/3 also has a live feed of their "NBC Weather Plus" digital/cable channel.

Is better quality or even live video next? Will stations put up live helicopter video when their birds are up in the air anyway? How about WJW offering live, continuous video of its "Ground Fox" unit during its drives through bad winter weather? The future could be interesting...

It'll Be "92.3 K-Rock" For The Former WXTM, Broader Alternative Rock

The future direction of CBS Radio Cleveland alt-rocker WXRK/92.3, once known as WXTM "Xtreme Radio", has been announced.

WXRK programmer Kim Monroe checks in with the folks at FMQB, and says the station will officially unveil the on-air name "92.3 K-Rock" on January 17th, with a return of the existing airstaff. As far as the music is concerned, Monroe tells FMQB that listeners can expect to hear...well, pretty much everything they're playing now. Since the first of the year, 92.3 has been throwing in a broader alt-rock playlist "on random" (without air personalities), including what FMQB calls "depth tracks from core Alternative artists".

It's pretty much what we expected when we first wrote about this a few days ago...no major format change, a broader playlist and a new name. By the way, the name is the same as one used for a long time by the CBS Radio New York City station which shed the WXRK calls for WFNY this week, in its change to talk "Free FM".

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Some Rover (And Roth) Reviews

You could call it "from Cleveland to the world". Well, OK, maybe from Cleveland, to Chicago, to a handful of other midwestern cities...as long-time morning doggie Shane (Rover) French has expanded his empire this week as one of three major replacements for now-former CBS Radio morning star Howard Stern.

Though Rover's antics may be old hat to those of us in Northeast Ohio, he's new to big markets like Detroit and Chicago. And some of the early reviews are already in. Writer Susan Whitall in the Detroit News wasn't impressed...saying Rover "practically (played) dead" in his Tuesday debut on WXRK/97.1, one of CBS' "Free FM" branded talk stations. Whitall unfavorably compared Rover to a local morning drive mainstay there, "Drew & Mike" on rocker WRIF/101.1. (OMW's wondering if any local wags compared Rover to, say, WMJI/105.7's "Lanigan and Malone", when Mr. French started on 92.3 here.)

Chicago media sage Robert Feder hasn't yet taken to reviewing Rover's first utterances on CBS Radio talk WCKG/105.9 "Free FM" in Chicago, his new home base...while he still airs locally on the station now known simply as "92-3", with new calls WXRK(FM).

When it was first announced, the Chicago Sun-Times media beat writer was not at all happy with Rover's ascension to the WCKG morning drive throne...all but questioning the sanity of CBS' Chicago radio executives for passing over a laundry list of known quantities in that market. Chicago is, from our own experience, one of those towns where local personalities rule the roost. The fine folks of Chicagoland should feel lucky that we didn't send them Mike Trivisonno instead...

While we're on the "Stern Replacement" topic, we forgot to note that the Cleveland Plain Dealer's own Julie Washington weighed in on David Lee Roth's entry into that sweepstakes, saying the former Van Halen frontman had "no clue" what to do on the radio in his first hours on CBS Radio classic rocker WNCX/98.5...calling the debut "mostly excruciating, sometimes funny". The headline on Washington's column suggests listeners would be "likely to jump" if Roth doesn't get his act together.

We have the first couple of hours of Roth's show still sitting on our iPod, and we're afraid to listen. For one, it may be painful. But seriously, we also don't want to judge Roth's entire radio career, or attempt at one, from his first show. We'll visit him on 98.5 again sometime next week for a better "first impression".

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Maybe It Was A Dream

Maybe it was a dream.

But why is a local broadcast legend's name back in our thoughts?

Did the act of looking over at our copy of the CDs of his final show on Media-Com Akron talker WNIR/100.1 bring Joe Finan's name back to us...or was it...something else that got us thinking about the veteran talk host, who ruled afternoon drive on WNIR for nearly 20 years?

Hmmm. OMW will have to look into this one...

A Couple of Quick Hits

We haven't been able to confirm it, but message board chatter suggests that Metro Networks sports anchor Ryan McNaughton is leaving Cleveland, headed for a TV job in Syracuse. McNaughton has been heard weekday afternoons doing sports news updates on Salem sportstalk WKNR/850, and has also provided updates to Metro client WING/1410 ("ESPN 1410") in the Dayton market.

We'll leave it to others to make comments about the Cleveland market's only all-sports station not actually employing drive-time sports update anchors in its own building, but McNaughton was usually well regarded. Metro's Jeff Thomas continues in the morning drive sports slot on both WKNR and WING, along with providing sports updates for Salem talker WHK/1420.

And, AllAccess reports that classical music radio has taken another hit, this time in our Nation's Capital. In a move OMW missed because it didn't happen when we were actually down there, Bonneville classical mainstay WGMS/103.5 is moving to a pair of suburban rimshots, 104.1 and 103.9. They'll be displaced on the in-market FM signal by all-news powerhouse WTOP, currently at 1500 AM, 107.7/Warrenton VA, 820/Frederick MD, and 104.3/Leesburg VA, which means they're running out of frequencies they do NOT use. Eventually, WTOP will land solely on 103.5 FM and Frederick's 820, with their other frequencies being used by a new in-depth news service partnered with the Washington Post newspaper.

OMW mentions this move for WGMS because it's happened here in the past, with the move of Cleveland classical station WCLV from full-market 95.5 FM, to the Avon-based west suburban rimshot signal of 104.9 FM.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

And, Two Updates

Updating the items immediately below...

* OMW hears that WEOL/Elyria news anchor Larry Wright continues in his position anchoring the station's long-form noon newscast and afternoon newscasts. His "5 O'Clock World" show was bumped by the addition of ABC Radio's Sean Hannity this week. An afternoon sports update by veteran sportscaster Jim Allen will be heard during a local break in the first half-hour of Hannity's show. And ABC's Paul Harvey is likely to be heard on WEOL during Hannity's show as well, with his 5 minute "Rest of the Story" feature.

* We're back in town, so stations and staffers can rest easy. We got a chance to hear the current state of CBS Radio Cleveland alt-rocker WXRK/92.3, the former WXTM. It's officially sporting the new call letters on-air during legal IDs only, and is referring to itself solely as "92-3" the rest of the time. One liner we heard - "92-3, just rocks".

There's been a lot of speculation that the station would adopt the "K-Rock" moniker used for a long-time by the historic owners of the WXRK calls, CBS Radio's sister 92.3 in New York City. But we're tending to lean towards just some format tweaking, and a warehousing of the WXRK calls in Cleveland because CBS Radio didn't want to lose them. 92.3 here was a convenient choice, having already had an "X" in its previous call, and having a rock-oriented format anyway.

In Northern California, CBS Radio (then Infinity) stored the historic KOME calls safely on an AM station, 1470 in Sacramento. The KOME calls had gained prominence on a San Jose FM rock station.

A Few Brief Items (And One Out of Area)

As we launch into 2006's first full radio business day:

* Former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth debuted in Howard Stern's rather large shoes, on a number of large market east coast former Stern affiliates...including CBS classic rocker WNCX/98.5 in Cleveland. We haven't heard his first show yet, but we set up our equipment to record roughly his first hour. We hear from the good folks at AllAccess that among Roth's first guests this morning was his uncle Manny, talking about the "old days of showbiz and tales of New York City". Uh, OK. We're sure audiences in Cleveland, Boston and Philadelphia were just thrilled about that.

* As first tipped right here on OMW - with thanks to long-time OMW tipster Nathan Obral in Lorain County - Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria is indeed adding ABC Radio and FOX News Channel host Sean Hannity to the lineup. Hannity will indeed air live 3 hours a day from 3-6 PM, bumping WEOL's local "5 O'Clock World" newsmagazine off the schedule. There's no word right now on what that means for station staffer Larry Wright, who hosted the show back when it was "The Other Side of Morning Drive" at 9 AM...when it was first bumped by Premiere's Glenn Beck.

* With the station now officially sporting the WXRK(FM) calls, we haven't yet figured out what CBS Radio is doing with its alt-rock station. We're briefly out of the area again, and a check of our usual monitoring system shows unlistenable static on 92.3 FM from our northwest Akron World Headquarters, so we'll check on this later today. Today, by the way, was 92.3 morning star "Rover"'s first day originating out of WCKG/Chicago. We're hoping that Rover - aka Shane French - did not open his show with a lengthy discussion about the old days in Chicago (see above with David Lee Roth).

* And a small note that has nothing to do with Northeast Ohio media, but we always like to take care of Friends of OMW. AllAccess reports that former KSRO/Santa Rosa CA, KFBK and KTKZ/Sacramento and KSFO/San Francisco host Spencer Hughes is joining the weekday lineup at XM Radio's new "FOX News Talk" talk radio channel. He'll host the 2-5 PM slot after the Westwood One show from FNC's Bill O'Reilly airs on the satellite provider. Spencer will also hang onto his Sunday afternoon slot on heritage Boston talker WRKO/680.

Now, while we don't always agree with Spencer (and he knows it), off-air, he's one of our best friends...and is a great guy who deserves all the success he gets. Congratulations!