Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Some Unchecked Speculation

Unlike certain sports media columns/real estate listings, Your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) clearly identifies items that are purely speculation or "informed guesses" on our part. This is one of those entries.

* OMW mentioned that WSPD/1370 Toledo talk host Bob Frantz, recently bumped from morning drive into a one-hour evening show, could be heading for Cleveland, in specific Clear Channel's World Domination HQ in Independence. As we also mentioned, he's been heard in the past on talk WTAM/1100, filling in for Mike Trivisonno and doing sports talk.

The buzz around the market is pretty strong...we're hearing it from pretty much everyone but the janitor on Oak Tree. Could Bob Frantz be the one who turns "The Big One's" midday show into a local talk show for the first time in a few years?

You only need to look at the Arbitron ratings release calendar to figure this one out. Wednesday's the release of the Winter Phase 1 trends for Cleveland. The Cleveland numbers are embargoed from public release - again - but one wonders if WTAM syndicated midday host Jerry Springer is still floundering in that slot. Continued poor numbers from 9 AM to noon certainly provide the perfect "hook" to bring in a local replacement host.

If not, there's still plenty of work for Frantz at 1100 AM, if temporary - as morning co-host Casey Coleman battles bravely in his bout with pancreatic cancer, and afternoon sports fill-in Mark Schwab is busy in Winter Haven as the station's Indians beat reporter. Not to mention the fact that sports director Mike Snyder's working both ends of the clock in the heart of the Cavaliers' season.

Either that, or Andre Knott works 18 hours a day...

* Speaking of "The Big One", Cincinnati version...OMW's done some digging, and found out what could be a reason for XM Satellite Radio to add WLW/700 to its lineup tomorrow.

The move would seem to be at odds with XM's recent past. When the satellite service started, Clear Channel provided XM with a number of over-air simulcasts, including of Los Angeles CHR KIIS "KISS FM" and New York AC station WLTW ("Lite"). They also programmed talk channels for XM.

That relationship ended a while back, as XM ended the simulcasts and Clear Channel sold much, if not all, of its investment into the satellite radio provider.

Messages on various XM listener message boards led us to an XM Satellite Radio 10Q filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, and in particular, this bit of legalese (come back after the paragraph for our interpretation in English):


As part of Clear Channel Communications’ investment in XM in 1998, the companies entered into agreements which provided for certain programming and director designation arrangements as long as Clear Channel retained the full amount of its original investment in XM. In June of 2003, Clear Channel entered into a forward sale derivative hedging contract relating to its shares of XM Class A common stock. During the third quarter of 2005, Clear Channel and XM arbitrated the impact, if any, of the hedging activity on the Operational Assistance Agreement and the Director Designation Agreement, and certain related matters. The Arbitration Panel preliminarily decided that the Operational Assistance Agreement remains in effect, including Clear Channel’s right to receive a revenue share of commercial advertising on programming it provides to XM, but declined to enforce the Director Designation Agreement. The parties have agreed to abide by the panel’s preliminary decision, to include commercial advertising and share advertising revenue on all Clear Channel-provided programming starting in March 2006, and on the amount of compensation to Clear Channel ($2 million, of which approximately $0.7 million was accrued for in a prior period and the remaining $1.3 million was recorded as an expense in our Statement of Operations in the current period) for the period commercials were not included on some of the channels it programs.


That last part is the key - "all Clear Channel-provided programming starting in March 2006". As far as we know, Clear Channel provides no other programming for XM at this time...until WLW joins the lineup on Wednesday. Adding WLW and selling separate ads on XM for it, with the money split as listed above, would be an easy way to start money flowing again.

We don't see anything about audio quality in the above notation, so we wouldn't be surprised if WLW sounds like those low-bandwidth traffic/weather channels on XM...


Anonymous said...

actually, Cleveland trends are out tomorrow...but yes, they're embargoed.

Ohio Media Watch said...

My mistake... a misread based on something I saw elsewhere. Corrected.

And thanks!


Anonymous said...

I listened to WLW on XM this morning, and the audio is better than the traffic/weather channels, but not as good as the music channels. To me it sounds like HD on AM. As for commercials, they were airing the local spots on XM, so they haven't added any XM specific spots yet.