Friday, March 31, 2006
The deal makes STO - as expected - available on Dish channel 431, to subscribers who carry at least the service's "America's Top 60 Plus" package. (We're told the "Plus" part includes access to regional sports networks.)
The final big piece of the puzzle is still out there - DirecTV. We're actually surprised the Dish deal got done sooner, as that service is generally less inclined to carry new regional sports networks.
And there's no way the big Indians fan in our family is going to switch from DirecTV to Dish Network, so here's hoping the two entities come to an agreement before April 4th...or your Primary Editorial Voice will hear an earful!
100000watts.com reports that Beacon Broadcasting's WRTK/1540 Niles has flipped from urban to black gospel, using ABC's "Rejoice" 24 hour format - also known as "Musical Soul Food".
Not like it's a surprise to us here at OMW, of course. In fact, we predicted months ago that this is what Beacon owner Harold Glunt would do with the Youngstown-market daytimer. Glunt hung onto the station's urban format long after he purchased the station, declining to flip it to a simulcast with "family friendly" oldies WANR/1570 Warren, WLOA/1470 Farrell PA and WGRP/940 Greenville PA.
The black gospel format fits perfectly within Glunt's operation, which also includes Christian rocker WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA ("The Freq 107"). And Glunt's hooked up with ABC 24 hour formats in the past, as WANR ran ABC's "Memories, Unforgettable Favorites" shortly after Beacon regained control of the station from a group headed by Don Hanni III, which was running Air America liberal talk on the frequency.
We haven't run over to the Youngstown/Warren market to hear the new WRTK format yet, but we assume Beacon is also running local paid religious programming as well...
But that's about all that's going on right now, so we apologize for another "Rants" entry...and apologize for OMW looking like the background to a "Flintstones" cartoon - rock, tree, house, rock, tree, house, Dino, rock, tree, house...we're actively looking for other stuff to talk about!
Anyway, WKNR has finally gotten around to putting a note about "Rants" on its website...after days and days of constant on-air promotion about the new "alternative" Indians post-game show, scheduled to start on Opening Day...
The mention on WKNR's website once again calls "Rants" the show where there's "no managed message"...implying, of course, that "official" post-game shows on WTAM/1100 and SportsTime Ohio are handing down the team's Message from On High.
But whenever they added the "Rants" plug, and the picture above of WKNR's Neil Bender and FSN Ohio's Les Levine, the WKNR folks STILL HAVEN'T FIXED THE WEB STREAMING LINK!
That's right, the problem we outlined some time back is still there. An unvarnished MP3 file link for live, continuing audio leads most browsers to trouble. Even if we set things up to hand off the MP3 link to WinAmp, which is built to handle MP3 live streaming, it fails. The only thing that works is directly entering the MP3 URL into WinAmp's "Open URL" dialog.
It's a bit frustrating, when your Primary Editorial Voice can figure this out on a blog, and the station isn't paying attention to it at all...and we know we could help fix this if we were in that loop...
The over-air network also includes previously announced affiliates WYFX "FOX 17/62" in Youngstown, and WLIO/35 (NBC) in Lima. We're wondering if they're still trying to sign up a Toledo broadcast affiliate, where the cable games will be seen on market dominant provider Buckeye Cablesystem. If they can't get one of the broadcast stations to sign up, perhaps Buckeye's "WT05", the WB-to-become-CW affiliate, will step in...
Though the release says the WKYC games will be in HDTV on WKYC "and the 'over the air' network", it's our understanding that the HD broadcasts won't be available to the other market affiliates...and the broadcast games will only be seen in HD on WKYC itself.
But that could be academic in the case of many of the affiliates. WYFX is a pair of LPTV/Class A stations with no HD feed, though the station does plan to provide an HD feed to cable systems. And neither WICU nor WSEE are even broadcasting their networks' HDTV programs on their digital transmitters...yet, at least...
As expected, SportsTime Ohio has issued its wrapup press release on the cable TV negotiations that have taken place in the past few weeks, saying it's "close to finalizing" all of its talks. STO boss Jim Liberatore notes that in "just six weeks", the new Indians TV network has signed up 17 cable providers, and says there's a "strong possibility" that additional partners will be aboard before STO's first regular season broadcast on April 4.
We'll translate for him: "Hello, DirecTV! Dish Network, this means you, too!" By the way, if Dish Network does bring on SportsTime Ohio, we expect it to be on channel 431. Those who watch the behind-the-scenes transponder movement note that the non-public STO feed has moved onto a satellite that can be picked up by dishes pointed at 119 degrees...
As noted here, STO has signed up all of the region's major cable providers, along with a number of smaller outlets. But some cable viewers won't be seeing the network's 63 home HDTV games.
The STO release lists the channel numbers for the network on the services which have signed up. (We'll attach the list below.)
And, while most Adelphia subscribers near Cleveland will get HD games from STO on cable channel 798 ("HD Bonus"), it looks like HD STO games won't be seen on outlying Adelphia systems in places from New Philadelphia to Van Wert, or near Youngstown and the Shenango Valley.
Other systems without an HD channel listed may or may not just be omission at this point. The list also confirms the addition of Adelphia's digital cable SD simulcast on channel 179 as an addition to the previously announced channel 17, and not a replacement...
Here's the list:
SYSTEM - GEOGRAPHIC REGION: Analog Channel, Digital Channel, HD Channel
Adelphia - Cleveland & suburbs: 17, 179, 798-HD
Adelphia - Ashtabula area: 30, 179, 798-HD
Adelphia - Lorain area: 23, 179, 798-HD
Adelphia - Macedonia area: 97, 179, 798-HD
Adelphia - Port Clinton area: 17, 179, 798-HD
Adelphia - Shenago Valley and Struthers/ Lowellville: 71
Adelphia - Bryan: 15, 179, no HD
Adelphia - Cadiz / Amsterdam: 19
Adelphia - Defiance/ Deshler/ Napoleon/ Paulding / Wauseon/ Waterville: 37, 179, no HD
Adelphia - Cambridge/ Caldwell/ Apple Valley/ Newark/ Riverside/ Coshocton: 53, 179, no HD
Adelphia - New Philadelphia/ Minerva/ Sebring/ Newcomerstown / Carrollton: 69, 179, no HD
Adelphia - Marion: 69
Adelphia - Celina / Van Wert / Minster: 74, 179, no HD
Armstrong - Medina/Orrville area: 4,177-HD
Armstrong - Ashland area: 69, 177-HD
Armstrong - Boardman area: 66, 177-HD
Armstrong - Meadville, PA area: 69, 177-HD
BTC Multimedia - Bascom: 76
Buckeye CableSystem - Toledo Metro Area: 32, 653-HD
Buckeye CableSystem - Erie County: 57, 653-HD
CableSuite 541 - Conneaut area: 81
City of Wadsworth - Wadsworth: 77
Clear Picture - Central Wayne County: 10
Comcast - Lake & Lorain Counties: 73, HD is TBD
Cox - Western Cleveland suburbs: 58, 758-HD
Doylestown Cable - Doylestown: 16
Insight - Central Ohio: 60, 779-HD
GLW Broadband - Lorain County area: 37
Massillon Cable - Western Stark County: 11
Orwell Cable Television - Orwell area: 44
Time Warner - Northeast Ohio: 23, 523-HD
Time Warner - Northwest Ohio: 25, 757-HD
Time Warner - Mid-Ohio: 34, 758-HD
TSC Communication - Auglaize County: 12
WOW! - Cleveland area: 72, 221-HD
WOW! - Columbus area: 57, 221-HD
(Sorry, we couldn't resist!)
Under scrutiny by the Ohio attorney general, the folks at Written Communications Radio Service have been forced to shut down their radio reading service for the blind.
WCRS operated on a subcarrier of Akron University's WZIP/88.1, providing reading of the Akron Beacon Journal, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, numerous magazines and original programming aimed at blind listeners. The station's listeners needed a special radio to pick up the station out of the hidden reaches of 88.1's signal.
WCRS' operation of instant bingo games at the former Rollercade on East Market Street is being investigated by attorney general Jim Petro's office, along with other operational questions. After being forced to shut down the instant bingo, WCRS kept going with regular bingo for a while...until finally closing the door on that as well. The loss of the bingo income led to the shutdown.
There's talk in the Beacon Journal article about the local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind trying to restart the radio reading service, though we don't know how likely that'd be. We're wondering how many folks use the service these days, due to the advent of computer technology...but at least WCRS' older listeners seemed to appreciate the service and its audio companionship...
Disclosure: As a teenager, your Primary Editorial Voice did some volunteer reading work for WCRS, which was then known as Tri-County Radio Reading Service...
Booms, along with former FSR partner Kevin Kiley, recently filled in on weekends on legendary Philadelphia sports station WIP/610. Aaron Bracy of the Cherry Hill (NJ) Courier-Post in suburban Philly said a couple of weeks ago the team could appear again, and called their first WIP appearance "bad", saying the duo managed to "insult just about every Philadelphia sports icon" on their radio show.
Of course, Booms was most recently heard here in Northeast Ohio, in that tryout rotation for the WTAM/1100 Cleveland midday slot eventually occupied by Bob Frantz. OK, if you can call it a "tryout rotation"...
Roth told his audience that he was indeed suspended for two days by CBS, and went off on a rant about a memo by WFNY programmer Mark Chernoff with new show guidelines.
The new rules outline, well, the lack of some radio basics that Roth doesn't seem to like...things ranging from having more topical interviews, less bumper music and more show prep. Oh, and there are less people in the Roth lair, which he referenced in his first hour for morning...but it hasn't yet been confirmed that Roth's manager and a sidekick are no longer with the show.
AllAccess reports that Roth said his program was "starting to gel", but said the new guidelines come from "individuals in their late 50s who no longer have a connection to what's happening in the neighborhood." Interesting, coming from a 51 year-old guy who has featured old New York City nightclub stories from his uncle, and who was sharing old Jerry Lewis stories to open the show this morning...
So for now, it's "stand down" for the troubled morning show. He's not gone yet. We emphasize...YET...
Thursday, March 30, 2006
In a note buried in another item on the Indians' website tonight, an earlier-rumored deal between SportsTime Ohio and Armstrong has been confirmed. MLB.com Indians beat writer Anthony Castrovince reports that the agreement not only covers Armstrong's systems in Medina, Orrville, Ashland and the Youngstown suburb of Boardman, but also Armstrong's Meadville PA system.
We believe Armstrong is the final major cable provider in Northern Ohio to agree to carry the Indians via SportsTime Ohio. There are any number of smaller rural cable providers that may not yet have signed up, but all of the "biggies" are on board. Not on board yet, of course, are the two major satellite providers, DirecTV and Dish Network - both services, which reportedly serve some 800,000 subscribers in the Indians TV area, are reported to still be negotiating with STO.
And one interesting thing we spotted in today's Akron Beacon Journal - a color display ad for STO's high-definition broadcasts from Time Warner Cable...which we've reproduced in part here:
Under a picture of a C.C. Sabathia fastball appearing to go outside a TV screen, TWC touts its 63 SportsTime Ohio HDTV games - "You won't find this on satellite!" The information is repeated in a burst at the bottom right - "INDIANS IN HD NOT AVAILABLE ON SATELLITE". Click on the graphic to make it appear larger on your screen.
Unless TWC is taking advantage of the current status of DirecTV and Dish Network's negotiations with STO, it seems possible that the satellite services - whenever they DO come to an agreement with the network - won't be offering the HDTV broadcasts.
Satellite carriage of HDTV local sports networks is rather spotty, with very few being carried. As far as we know, the only major regional sports network offering its games in HD via DirecTV is the Yankees-owned "YES" network (to New York-area subscribers), and DirecTV may have some other spotty HD game offerings from a couple of other RSNs.
We just don't know if the Indians wouldn't be in HDTV on satellite because that's just the way it is, or if it's a bone that STO has thrown to the cable companies to help get them aboard...
WKNR has been promoting the show incessantly in the past few days, and the season hasn't even started yet! The hosts - FSN Ohio's Les Levine and WKNR's Neil Bender - appeared with the radio station's Greg Brinda AND Kenny Roda today.
We heard part of the duo's appearance on Roda's show. Levine says that though the show is intended to be an "honest, objective" look at the team from a non-team-influenced perspective, it may some days resemble the name "Cleveland Raves" if the team is doing well. In other words, they're not just there to gripe about what the team does wrong.
Levine notes that FSN Ohio's part of the show will last about an hour each night/day, give or take a few minutes depending on the end time of the game in question. After FSN Ohio turns off the cameras, Bender will continue solo on WKNR for more.
It turns out there may only be about 145 "Rants" shows on FSN Ohio out of 162 regular season games...we assume that such things as conflicts with existing sports events (Cavs, college basketball/football, etc.) on the cable network will preempt 17 appearances on TV.
And though our radio hit some electrical noise at about the time Levine said it, we believe we heard that a studio is indeed being built for the show.
That's significant, because we'd then expect Levine's existing Adelphia cable show "More Sports and Les Levine" to move to FSN Ohio - when Adelphia closes up shop later this summer as part of the Time Warner deal. In this joint venture, it seems Levine is FSN Ohio's representative.
Levine did mention on Roda's show that his "More Sports..." won't be affected by this new venture, as far as being taken off the air...but we'd put some money down on it moving to FSN Ohio, and the network's new studios, when Adelphia becomes Time Warner locally...
INSIGHT ABOARD: As expected, Columbus' third major cable provider has signed up with SportsTime Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Insight Cable will carry STO on Channel 60, which is normally reserved for - and will retain outside of STO's Indians programming - ShopNBC programming. (Maybe the Tribe can talk to ShopNBC about offering Indians memorabilia after the STO post-game? Heh.)
But our question - why hasn't STO or the team put out a release about this yet? The Dispatch article is the only mention of the new deal. Our guess - Armstrong Cable is next (we've already heard they're aboard), and STO officials are waiting until they have deals with DirecTV and/or Dish Network to announce they've finished the whole affiliation thing. Expect a press release to that effect on Friday..."we're done, enjoy the games, Play Ball!"
JV AND ELVIS: WFNY/New York midday hosts JV and Elvis once again appeared on CBS Radio classic rocker WNCX/98.5 Cleveland, as incumbent morning host David Lee Roth won't be back until Friday morning.
And though CBS Radio swears up and down that Roth has not been fired - and JV and Elvis did once again make it clear they were "filling in for" DLR...we noticed a change this morning.
The pair had a fully produced opening montage today. They had something yesterday, but it was brief and sounded thrown together. Today, it sounded like - aside from a brief mention that they were filling in for Roth - it was being treated like their show.
Sure, they had to spend a lot more time explaining things on Wednesday, as they showed up out of nowhere and no one knew why Diamond Dave was gone. But, the mention of filling in for Roth today sounded almost like they "had to mention it quickly"...though they did indeed mention later that Roth was returning from Miami and would be back tomorrow.
And in some strange story about being beaten with a fly swatter on Times Square, the hosts said "it's going to last longer than a day"... "a day, it could last weeks!" Listeners to talk radio shows often try to make out "coded messages" from the hosts. Though we're not familiar with JV and Elvis - frankly, they aren't even remotely our kind of talk radio - that odd line sounds to our ears like they were talking about not being beaten with a fly swatter, but their own presence in the "Free FM" morning slot.
We're not 100% confident that David Lee Roth's show will return tomorrow morning. We're also not 100% confident he will not be back as promised, but again, we would not bet the nearly-on-the-market Palatial OMW World Headquarters on Roth lasting into the next month...
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
A similar ad appears in today's Beacon Journal, and we presume it's running in the Plain Dealer's sports section as well...
We did, however, stumble onto an article in the Columbus Dispatch, a newspaper which must recently have actually started offering some content to non-subscribers on its website. The Dispatch's Scott Priestle quotes STO's Jim Liberatore as expecting an agreement with Insight "by the end of the week", saying the network and the system serving parts of the Columbus region have had "very good talks".
With Time Warner Cable an original STO outlet, and WOW Cable joining the STO affiliate roster this week, Insight is the sole major piece remaining for Columbus cable viewers.
Once again, there's no word of a pending agreement with either satellite provider - DirecTV or Dish Network. But the Dispatch article reveals the likely Columbus over-air outlet for STO's games...LIN TV's current UPN affiliate, WWHO/53. WWHO's Lance Carwile tells the paper that the deal to carry the over-air games originated at WKYC/3 in Cleveland is "all but final".
And an additional note about the Massillon Cable (and Clear Picture) pickup of STO earlier this week. In an article in the Massillon Independent, the cable company's Bob Gessner reiterates what he said in an article in the co-owned Canton Repository...the STO contract won't mean an immediate rate increase for his systems.
But...he notes that if Fox Sports Net Ohio doesn't REDUCE its rates later this year, that might not be the case...
AllAccess and Radio & Records Online quote a CBS spokeswoman on the matter. VP/Communications Karen Mateo tells the trade web site that "contrary to erroneous reports, David Lee Roth has not been let go. He is on his way back from Miami and is scheduled to return to the air on Friday."
Roth was reportedly broadcasting from Miami since he was there for a music conference. We've heard rumblings that CBS Radio brass were not happy with the quality of Roth's remote shows, which could very well explain why he's headed back to New York City for the final show of this week, and still taking tomorrow off.
There is apparently no information on who will be heard on Roth's stations tomorrow. Our guess is that it'll play out the same as today, as WFNY/New York host "Booker" - an evening personality who had to fill middays for "JV and Elvis", seemed to think he may be in that slot again tomorrow following the duo...depending on how the DLR situation played out.
Whether Roth affiliate WNCX/98.5 here will take JV and Elvis again tomorrow is anyone's guess. At least two DLR stations did decline to take the fill-in show...they played music in Boston and West Palm Beach...but at least there's a little more notice for tomorrow. And Roth is supposedly back on Friday.
We're still not buying much of this, though...there's probably a LOT more going on behind the scenes than CBS Radio is willing to admit...
Instead, CBS offered up a live show by "Elvis and JV", the midday team at DLR flagship WFNY/92.3 "Free FM" in New York City. From their on-air banter, it would appear they may have showed up on many, if not all of DLR's affiliates, though even they didn't seem to be sure of that at first. The team was once known as "The Doghouse" in the San Francisco market.
Wither DLR? Elvis, or JV, or whoever, said they were filling in for Roth, and "that's all", a clear attempt to answer the rumors that Roth is not long for his morning radio gig. Later in the first hour, they alluded to "technical difficulties" with Roth's remote out of Miami, where he's been broadcasting this week.
We find that hard to believe. What, they can pull off two days from Miami, and day three becomes technically impossible late in the evening? CBS Radio didn't have a backup plan? They can't bring along, say, a Vector if the ISDN lines flake out? And they find out about the problem at roughly 8 or 9 PM ET the night before, knowing that it would prevent DLR from doing his show?
We're not buying it. We don't know if it's a sign of The End of Diamond Dave on the Radio, though...we're thinking he may well have called his program director in a state of non-radio-readiness last night. After all, he is a former rock star...
EASY TO CW: The folks at TV's new CW Network have signed up a boatload of new affiliates in their move to fill out the new "fifth network's" list of stations. The full list is here.
The list includes 30 new CW affiliates in all, and in Ohio, just one - the digital side of Block Communications' WLIO/35 Lima, which is a primary NBC affiliate and will flip current WB100 sister cable channel "WBOH 3" to the new network, apparently adding it to WLIO's DTV signal in the process.
The move leaves Greg Phipps' WLQP-LP ("UPN 18") to hook up with My Network TV, or go independent. We suspect he's not too worried, as Phipps owns LPTVers carrying two other networks (CBS, FOX, etc.). Maybe he'll call up ABC and make WLQP "ABC 18"?
North of Lima, Block also owns Toledo's WT05 cable/satellite channel - a unit of its Buckeye Cablesystem there...a long-time WB affiliate which signed up with CW a ways back.
Still not resolved in the CW column in Ohio are the state's second and third largest markets, Columbus and Cincinnati.
Columbus has primary UPN/secondary WB station WWHO/53 Chillicothe ("UPN Columbus"), which used to be owned by Viacom (pre-CBS split). That would have made it an automatic for The CW in the fall, but Viacom/CBS flipped WWHO to LIN TV before the CW announcement was made. That's significant because LIN has been one of those owners questioning the CW's reverse compensation model - where the station pays the network, instead of getting the network for free or even being paid for it.
Cincinnati has UPN affiliate WBQC-CA 38 ("UPN 38"), a low-power outlet owned by fiesty local owner Elliott Block - no relation to the Toledo-based Block Communications. Block has not exactly made friends at CW Network co-owner Time Warner, in his 10-plus year battle with the TWC Cincinnati cable system for carriage.
We're going to make a prediction here. With these two UPN affiliates not on board, and no competition for CW in those two markets, the stations would both be seeming to balk at the compensation issues. That may be a larger factor for Block/WBQC, for example, than his contentious relationship with Time Warner. He's been quoted recently as wondering if he'll pay what CW is asking.
Our guess - CW is actively lining up either a DTV subchannel of an existing player, or a market-wide cable channel operated by the TWC cluster in each market.
Columbus' DTV subchannel choices would certainly not include Sinclair's WSYX/6 (ABC)-WTTE/28 (FOX), which isn't doing business with CW anywhere...maybe they'll hook up with Dispatch's WBNS/10 (CBS) on a DTV subchannel if a cable channel isn't in the cards.
In Cincinnati, we've already wondered if Clear Channel's WKRC/12 (CBS) would mount a subchannel with CW, but that's just because none of the other players seemed likely. And TWC has a healthy system there (the same one Elliott Block has been fighting), so they certainly could pull off a Cincinnati version of Rochester's "WB16", which even has a HD feed on TWC's system there.
Either way, many of the CW affiliate announcements show that the network is clearly fine with going with a cable channel or a DTV subchannel, if the other option in the market is a financially strapped rimshot or LPTVer.
By the way, the announcement late Tuesday brings CW its first two Raycom Media outlets - in Syracuse and Colorado Springs. Raycom got aced out here in Northeast Ohio for the CW by WB affiliate WBNX/55...
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
That's not a big deal, we guess, unless you consider that all of his affiliates have been informed to cover the morning drive slot locally on Wednesday. CBS Radio will apparently NOT be feeding any substitute program to the DLR stations, including WNCX, flagship WFNY/92.3 New York City, and affiliates in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston and West Palm Beach.
This is all we know about this so far, and we don't know what WNCX is going to air in about 6 hours and change from now. We'd expect an appearance by PD Bill Louis, but that's just a guess...
STO UPDATE: We haven't heard any confirmation, but an OMW reader tells us that a deal between SportsTime Ohio and Armstrong Cable was announced on a Youngstown radio show this morning. It has yet to be officially announced by STO. Armstrong serves the Youngstown suburb of Boardman, along with Medina, Orrville and Ashland.
While we're in STO land, the cable channel's deal with Massillon Cable and sister Clear Picture of Wooster is bringing out a few details about things behind the scenes.
Massillon Cable's Bob Gessner was one of the more vocal cable executives about STO's financial terms. But Gessner tells the Canton Repository that STO was "real creative in ways to solve some of the problems we were were encountering" in the ongoing negotiations...and calls the overall process "a good experience". This, from a cable company which linked to Cox's "Make Them Play Fair" website. Of course, Cox also ended up striking a deal with STO. Gessner says Massillon Cable - and presumably Clear Picture - are not planning a rate increase due to this deal - "for now".
And a Multichannel News article on the deal lifts the curtain from in front of some of the financial terms the new RSN wanted from cable operators. The article says STO called for "zone pricing"... basically, asking for more money the closer the cable system is to Cleveland. Systems far from Jacobs Field were being asked for 94 cents per subscriber...and Cleveland-area systems were being asked for $1.83 per subscriber. There's no word on what the RSN is asking from DirecTV and Dish Network.
Judging from Gessner's comments, though, STO would appear to at least have had some flexibility. It's what we suspected all along...Fastball/STO chief Jim Liberatore talked a very strong game, counting on the popularity of Indians baseball in the region to command high rates, but realizing that he'd have to have at least a little leeway as first pitch approached.
But...Liberatore can't drop his rates TOO much. The Indians have already pointed to SportsTime Ohio as one reason they'll be able to spend more money on players, including what team president Paul Dolan notes is "the financial flexibility" to lock in the team's young core of talented players with long-term Indians deals. In a town where Indians fans constantly hammer the team for not spending money, Dolan's frequently pointed to the new revenue from STO.
Just a thought on our part.
WNWO SOLD OFF: With the pickup of Toledo CBS affiliate WTOL/11, Raycom Media announced the sale of its incumbent station in the market, NBC outlet WNWO/24, along with stations in 11 other markets. The Toledo Blade reports that WNWO and the 11 other stations are being picked up by Illinois-based Barrington Broadcasting, a unit of a private equity firm.
TV duopoly rules permit Raycom to own two stations in a market the size of Cleveland, where the company owns the CBS/UPN combo of WOIO/19-WUAB/43. But most of Raycom's stations are in much smaller markets than Cleveland, so the company had to sell 12 stations including WNWO when it agreed to acquire the Liberty Broadcasting chain. Liberty's WTOL is a dominant station in the Toledo market, so it was a no brainer to hang onto it and dump "NBC 24".
FREE AIRTIME: We hear that the E.W. Scripps TV chain, which owns ABC affiliates WEWS/5 Cleveland and WCPO/9 Cincinnati, is launching an initiative to give free airtime to candidates in the 2006 general election. "Democracy 2006" will set aside 5 minutes of free air time a night, between 5 PM and 11:35 PM, in the 30 days before the general election in November. The Scripps stations will also provide airtime before the primary election, which is May 2nd here in Ohio.
Monday, March 27, 2006
STO has announced deals with Massillon Cable and sister system Clear Picture in Wooster, alternative cable provider "WOW" in Cleveland and Columbus, and GLW Broadband, a small system in the Grafton area.
The new pact leaves only Armstrong Cable (Medina County and the Boardman area of suburban Youngstown) and Insight (Columbus) among major systems which have not yet signed a pact with STO. Oh, yeah, there are those huge satellite providers...DirecTV and Dish Network, reportedly still negotiating with the STO folks...
Today, XM announced that it'll add a whole suite of regional news/talk channels later this year, programmed by Clear Channel. From today's lineup announcement:
Regional News, Talk & Music Channels
XM 134 - Northeast News & Talk
XM 135 - Southeast News & Talk
XM 136 - Middle America News & Talk
XM 137 - Midwest News & Talk
XM 138 - Northwest News & Talk
XM 139 - Southwest News & Talk
The "Music" part refers to existing - and some new - Clear Channel-programmed XM music channels that will be lumped in the same category. XM is taking great pains to separate the Clear Channel content in its lineup, since those channels - including music channels - will start carrying commercials in May. XM's "in-house" music channels, including the new ones they'll launch next month, remain commercial-free.
Of course, Clear Channel has to provide content for these six new news/talk channels, and we presume it will come from existing local news and talk shows on its over-air stations. Thus, we would not at all be surprised to hear content from WTAM, and Columbus' WTVN/610, on XM 137...or wherever they decide Ohio lands regionally. (From the graphic in the XM lineup, it looks like "Middle America" means Texas and that part of the country.)
Another possible contributor to the "Midwest" channel would be Clear Channel talk blowtorch WHAS/840 Louisville KY. WLW, of course, is off by itself on XM 173...and the new lineup shows them still there.
We mention WTAM afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno in our headline because he was part of the original lineup on one of XM's Clear Channel-programmed talk outlets. His show aired on the satellite service for two hours, on a two hour delay.
We also would not be surprised to see them pick up new WTAM host Bob Frantz for the "Midwest" channel, as WTVN airs Premiere's Glenn Beck in the mid-morning slot. We're making the pretty simple assumption that none of the syndicated programming (Rush Limbaugh, Beck, etc.) will air on these channels.
XM's fleet of new music stations will debut on April 17th, and the new Clear Channel regional news/talk stations will show up sometime during the spring or summer.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
No, a certain hot place is not freezing over...Salem talk WHK/1420 Cleveland is actually running a TV ad!
We first stumbled upon it tuning across the TV dial this morning. The commercial ran in a slot you would expect to be a prime buy for a conservative talk station...the FOX 8 broadcast of "FOX News Sunday". We saw it again this afternoon, though we're not sure where...as we were too busy getting snapshots for OMW:
The spot is an overall promo for the station's lineup. With this kind of money being spent - assuming it's not a trade deal between WHK and WJW - we're wondering again if Salem will see fit to add popular ABC Radio afternoon drive talker Sean Hannity, who's certainly familiar to the audience likely to be found on FOX News Sunday. Salem's Boston talker, WTTT/1150, recently picked up Hannity, as reported earlier here...
Cleveland doesn't appear to be a huge market for radio stations doing TV ads. The only other spot we can recall that's running regularly is that "Wisdom of David Lee Roth" campaign for WNCX/98.5. About the only other time radio stations get TV plugs - the short bumpers like what WEWS/5 runs for the radio stations which run its forecasts...
Washington reports - in an item that apparently only has appeared on the PD's Entertainment blog - that Burns worked her last day at the Raycom Media CBS/UPN combo on Thursday.
The former fashion model-turned-TV newsie wasn't very forthcoming about her future away from the TV news business, but doesn't rule out a return to TV at some point. She called her now former home of "19 Action News" "hard core and intense", and says her time at Reserve Square "sharpened up (her) game a lot".
Just above that item on the blog, Washington notes the arrival of new WTAM/1100 mid-morning talker Bob Frantz. He calls his new gig "an honest-to-God dream come true", and tells Washington the response has been "fantastic".
And in a story that did apparently appear in today's Dead Trees edition of the PD, the radio/TV columnist calls CBS hot AC WQAL/104.1 morning host Allan Fee on the carpet...for a staged bit between a "pregnant wife" and her "unfaithful husband". The PD stumbled upon it, apparently, because one of its staffers appeared on the Friday morning "Wilde and Fee" show.
OK...not everything you hear on morning radio is true. Imagine that! We're just not sure what the point of the segment was...aside from getting Q104 and "Wilde and Fee" in the newspaper...
Liberatore tells Brown he feels "pretty confident" that the deals can be worked out before STO's first regular season game on April 4th.
We'd write it off as talk, but what you don't read in the Plain Dealer is what we reported earlier... Dish Network has already uplinked the SportsTime Ohio feed "behind the scenes", meaning that mere mortals with regular Dish Network equipment can't see it, but it's up on the bird waiting to be released. As we also reported, this is not a definitive sign STO is going to show up on Dish, but could probably be considered a sign that the service feels negotiations are headed in the right direction.
As for DirecTV, we expect that deal to be done by April 4th. DirecTV is usually more pro-active about adding regional sports networks.
We note that the most recent RSN before SportsTime Ohio, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (Washington Nationals), has gone through even worse. MASN *still* hasn't signed up the DC market's largest cable provider, Comcast, and they're heading into season two! To that end, a group of Nationals' fans is holding a rally this afternoon, with some local politicos in tow, to appeal to Comcast executives.
Cox, which first balked at STO here before later signing up, joined up with MASN for this season.
Here, Time Warner Cable - which will be the dominant MSO whenever the Adelphia merger happens - was STO's first signup and is their primary partner. And though both Adelphia and Comcast eventually joined up, they'll be temporary affiliates due to the TWC deal. In DC, Comcast is not going away, and will actually pick up some of the Adelphia systems in that market in the joint deal with TWC.
(OMW notes that there's something of a regulatory pause in the Adelphia dissolution, perhaps due to the status of the company's bankruptcy case. But it's still considered likely to be done by summer.)
Thought 2: As we listened to WMMS/100.7 afternoon driver Maxwell do his WTAM/1100 Saturday night talk show last night, we couldn't help but wonder - is WTAM A) trying to build a local talk "bench", to steal some baseball lingo, or B) is Clear Channel using Maxwell on WTAM to try out his talent with the goal of eventually building an FM talk station?
A future FM talk station run by one of the major groups with a Cleveland presence has been a nagging rumor for the past few months, and though it's not much beyond the "visible smoke" stage right now, it'd make sense. If the effort would be mounted by Clear Channel, the station would have to be steered VERY carefully in light of the dominance of the aforementioned "Big One".
We're thinking back to Maxwell's surprise swap with WTAM afternoon motormouth (we will check Ohio law one day on that) Mike Trivisonno.
While Triv is certainly not an intellectual host - oh, come on! Quit laughing! Stay with us, here! - Maxwell, to us, sounded like a typical "FM hot talk" host. Clear Channel has mounted those kinds of stations with some success in the past, most notably at Orlando's WTKS/104.1 ("Real Radio") for the past few years.
While it appears their other efforts to air talk on FM (Pittsburgh, Minneapolis) are more traditional AM-style stations that just happen to be on the FM band, that'd be pretty much impossible here...with WTAM's presence as the news/talk powerhouse.
None of this may amount to anything. We're not about to suggest that a Clear Channel FM station in the market is about to be converted, for any number of reasons. It's just in the back of our OMW Head...
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Tonight's program is our first encounter with the show. We won't review it here, but will just say that right now, Maxwell is talking about...um...how long people wear the same underwear.
You just can't make stuff like that up. Trust us, we aren't. Apparently, it's a topic he brought up on his WMMS show earlier in the week...
The Saturday evening time slot has mostly been occupied in recent months by Cavaliers games, or by a replay of Premiere's "The Weekend with Mike McConnell". Back a ways, as we're sure readers will remind us, the weekend evenings were occupied by now-former host Rick Gilmour...who was supposed to come back this past week to do two shows in the station's mid-morning time slot. That plan was scuttled when WTAM quickly hired Bob Frantz to take the slot on a permanent basis...
As it turns out, they'll mean the newscasts will move on some nights to TWC's channel 17, which is listed in TWC's Akron/Canton lineup as the "Digital Preview Channel".
WKYC has put up a list of those conflicting nights in a story on its website. On dates not listed on this schedule, "Akron/Canton News" will air on TWC's channel 23 as usual. Well, it'll air as long as the newscast is still being produced...of course, we reported on the latest uncertainty surrounding the "Akron/Canton News" effort earlier in OMW.
The move back and forth would appear to be confusing, at a time where the newscast is already suffering from reduced visibility on a mostly otherwise non-programmed local cable channel...
SportsTime Ohio's site has been updated to show that STO's HD Indians games will indeed be shown on Adelphia 798, the "HD Bonus" channel that recently started showing FSN Ohio's Cleveland Cavaliers' games in HD. Quoting the result of selecting the Adelphia system in the drop down menu:
"HD CHANNEL 798 - Ashtabula, Greater Cleveland, Lorain County, Macedonia and Port Clinton."
And, the same way OMW stumbled upon the addition of WKYC/3's "Weather Plus" to the Adelphia lineup, we've also found a new digital channel established for STO.
"179/SPTOH" shows up in the Adelphia digital cable guide as of this afternoon, and the guide shows SportsTime Ohio's programming later this week. In addition to the scheduled game on March 29th against the Houston Astros (and a repeat of that game), and the pre-and-post-game shows, there's a "2005 Year in Review" listed.
We'll have to assume this is a digital cable (SD) simulcast of the games otherwise to be seen on analog channel 17. We don't see Adelphia moving the games to only digital cable, and channel 17 is still listed on the above Adelphia pull-down menu on the STO site...
* We hear noise out of Dayton that Radio One sports talk WING "ESPN Radio 1410" may not be long for its sports format. In addition to rumors of the departure of the station's program director, there is also a nagging rumor that the station will flip to Radio One's own urban talk format, currently heard on sister station WERE/1300 Cleveland. It's not like we're surprised, though... we expected such a move when the national network featuring Rev. Al Sharpton and company was announced.
* And we're not sure, but we believe Clear Channel talk WSPD/1370 Toledo may actually fill the 6-7 PM weekday evening slot with a new local talk show host. "Eye on Toledo" was created when the station moved Bob Frantz out of mornings a few months ago. Frantz, of course, landed on his feet as the newly-minted local mid-morning host at WTAM/1100 in Cleveland.
We don't have any details on WSPD's plans to replace him, but we believe they may continue with some sort of local talk in the hour time slot following station program director Brian Wilson's 3-6 PM show.
As we don't have a lot of readers in those two markets (if any!), the above changes may have already taken place. Or, we could be entirely wrong...but feel free to label this "unverified chatter"...
Friday, March 24, 2006
But occasionally, columnist Chuck Yarborough makes brief mentions of items concerning local radio and TV.
In today's Yarborough missive, he lists his prediction of the early demise of CBS Radio syndicated morning host David Lee Roth as a "wrong", saying the host - heard locally on WNCX/98.5 - is, as far as he knows, "still talking"...and wasn't dumped on St. Patrick's Day after all.
Don't feel bad, Chuck...you were far from alone in seeing the early end of the DLR morning drive mess.
His column gives OMW a chance to update the End of DLR Rumor Mill. We noted a rumor from New York Radio Message Board proprietor Allan Sniffen, saying former Infinity/CBS shock jock team Opie & Anthony (heard locally on then-WXTM/92.3 back in their over-air days) would bring an over-air version of their XM Satellite Radio show to Roth's current affiliates.
As it turns out, the pair now says that a deal was close, but got bogged down before it could be completed.
Other rumors are out there, including speculation by DCRTV's Dave Hughes that the Washington, DC-based "Junkies", who took over the Howard Stern slot in DC and Baltimore, would be in line to replace Roth.
As of now, none of it's bearing any fruit. Roth continues his "wisdom" (those TV spots again) on WNCX, flagship WFNY/New York and the other stations he took over from Stern. O&A are still satellite-only, and "The Junkies" still hold forth only in Washington and Baltimore. But... we still wouldn't be surprised to see CBS Radio make SOME move down the road...
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Coleman was honored last night by induction into the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame. He attended the ceremony, and told WJW FOX 8 that he was hoping to be back behind the WTAM microphones "by around the end of June or the first of July". It's the very first indication we've heard that Coleman's condition has improved to the point that he believes he can return to the airwaves in the next three months or so.
Coleman joined WEWS/5 veteran reporter/anchor Leon Bibb, WKYC/3 VP/general manager Brooke Spectorsky and WELW/1330 Willoughby veteran Van Lane in the 2006 HOF class.
WTAM has provided a link to audio of Casey's acceptance speech at his update page, noting that he'll start a daily regimen of chemotherapy and radiation treatments shortly...and also noting that he felt well enough over the weekend to clean his garage!
Here's hoping that the "LGITW" is indeed well enough to rejoin morning partner Bill Wills sometime around the 4th of July...
The move is pointed out on this unofficial Dish Network Channel Chart, where folks who have access to diagnostic equipment track the pre-launch moves of Dish Network's channels. To wit:
"Sports Time Ohio, new home to the Cleveland Indians is now listed on channel 431 on tp 24 at 110°. This location is generally used by part-time channels. This is not visible or available to subscribers at this time (ANON)"
Does this mean Dish Network subscribers are about to get the new Indians-owned regional sports network? Not necessarily. We hear that Dish has uplinked other potential networks in the background in the past, only to pull them down when negotiations fall apart. (We understand that the "YES" network, the New York Yankees-owned RSN, has been through this for a couple of years now. Dish has never actually carried YES, but has moved it on and off the non-visible satellite lineup.)
Still, it may signal that Dish hopes that an agreement is near, so it's probably good news that they're at least testing it.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
We got one response, unfavorable, and we're tending to agree...it just wasn't working. One problem in our eyes - with very few items to each side, the text of the blog itself had margins that were far too narrow.
For the nonce, then, we're back to the old design. We've done some tinkering, and we think we're back to the way we used to be.
One side effect of all the tinkering...if you're reading OMW on a mobile device such as a Pocket PC PDA, the text will not be pushed to the middle any more, with wasted white space on the left hand side. We noticed this while we were on the road, and it was one reason we went into the template settings tonight. A quick check with the iPaq's built-in Pocket Internet Explorer shows a perfect OMW...
We're still piecing together what happened to Koontz - the Youngstown Vindicator article on his health problems is now hidden behind a subscriber wall, and frankly, the Vindicator is generally not worth reading even for free. But it does appear that Koontz did suffer an apparent stroke during a recent newscast.
WFMJ says there's no word yet on when Koontz will be back on the air at the Youngstown NBC affiliate.
The station's web site has an E-Mail link and an address for people to send well wishes.
Though we can't find a release about it yet, an E-Mailed newsletter from STO chief Jim Liberatore notes the news that Cox and Comcast's local systems will carry the network, and both have now been listed on STO's website. The site says Cox will carry STO on channel 58 and HD games on channel 758, and that Comcast will carry STO on channel 73.
The deal means that only Wide Open West and Armstrong Cable have yet to reach a deal among the larger cable systems in the immediate Cleveland area...along with other area systems like Wooster's Clear Picture and sister Massillon Cable. Liberatore says those systems, along with Columbus provider Insight, "continue to work with us".
On the satellite side, though a DirecTV spokesman told the Plain Dealer's Roger Brown that the satellite service is "slightly more optimistic" it might reach a deal with SportsTime Ohio, there's still no word that an agreement is near. STO is also apparently talking to Dish Network, but that service's history with new regional sports networks leads us to believe they will not agree to carry STO this year.
In his E-Mail newsletter, sent to people who've contacted STO via their website, Liberatore notes that the two satellite services "need to hear from viewers or will assume there is no interest"...and points out that DirecTV's representative in the talks with the network/team is in Denver. Presumably, the Tribe isn't as popular there...
We also note that STO has signed up the tiny "CableSuite 541" system in the Conneaut area.
We've copied the entire newsletter below...it's long, so be prepared to scroll a lot...
Thank you for contacting SportsTime Ohio.
We apologize for not getting back to you sooner. We understand that fans are anxious to see Indians baseball on SportsTime Ohio, and we share your anticipation for the 2006 season. As a fan myself, I do understand that no one likes it when the "business" of baseball has any adverse effect on fully realizing the "joy" of baseball, especially in Cleveland. With that said, this situation is unfortunately reality and we are working diligently to quickly return to topics such as if a fielder can pick up the one-hopper or if a batter can pick up the ball off the pitchers hand, not if your cable operators will pick up the games themselves.
SportsTime Ohio is responsible for the current situation in as much as there was no absolute necessity to create a new network. Please keep in mind however why this was done. The network was created in hopes of increasing profitability enabling the team to compete economically with the New York's and Boston's of the world. At the same time, the new network will offer the best possible production the industry has to offer. Both of these goals are already being played out as the Indians payroll has increased resigning many of the young players who make up the core and future of the team. On the production front, the Dolan's have committed a huge increase in production dollars by offering 83 games in high definition, using eleven camera's for all home games, (as many as or more than any other team in the country including a high def, robotic camera on the backstop), and greatly enhancing the Indians pre-game. The overall expectation of improving the teams ability to keep and compete with the big markets for the best available players, as well as the vastly increased quality of coverage were in the end, the reasons the network was created.
With that said, we are working diligently with your cable operator to finalize these deals as fast as possible. Most recently we have signed both Comcast and Cox in addition to Time Warner, Adelphia, Buckeye, TSC, RTEC, Doylestown, The City of Wadsworth, GLW Broadband, Cablesuite 541 and BTC. All other cable systems continue to work with us including Massillon, WOW, Armstrong, Insight and others.
The satellite providers continue the dialogue with us but are going to wait and see what response they get from their customers. Some of your e-mails have referred to SportsTime Ohio as appearing to ask you to "do our work" when we request you call the various cable/satellite companies. I understand how that may appear, however the truth is, they need to hear from viewers or will assume that there is no interest. Indians fans like you do play a major role in this process by letting your provider know that you want to see the Tribe games on SportsTime Ohio as soon as possible. This will reinforce to your provider the overwhelming popularity of the Tribe and will help convince them to carry the channel. (Please know for example, the Direct TV representative we deal with is in Denver).
Unfortunately, if your provider is not carrying the Indians games, I can't tell you an exact date that SportsTime Ohio will be available on your cable system or satellite provider. However, we continue to talk with the providers that have not signed up, and most carriers have responded favorably to our offer. We expect to have at least 90 percent of the cable universe covered by Opening Day, 4/4.
On a few other questions we received:
We do expect that the "Extra Innings" outer market package will still carry Indians games outside of the Indians home territory.
Visit www.sportstimeohio.com and select your cable or satellite provider from the list shown. If your operator is carrying SportsTime Ohio at this time, channel information will appear in the information box below the list of providers.
All of SportsTime Ohio's home games will be produced in high definition. It is at your cable /satellite provider's discretion to determine if the game will be broadcast in HD.
Indians games will be available in closed captioning.
STO will cover Indians Minor league teams with programming but unless there is a very compelling situation or game, will most likely not broadcast the games themselves.
We are working through some audio issues with our technical engineers and hope to have them resolved by our next telecast on March 29th. The score line at the top of the screen has been moved up.
I think that covers most of your questions. Please feel free to keep them coming and be assured that we will keep you informed of our progress.
Thank you for your input, please know we will be sure to let you know as new providers sign up to carry the Indians.
Thanks and Go Tribe!
President SportsTime Ohio
Miami University '85
Bay Village High '80
Indians Fan Since '62!
Frantz told "Big One" listeners this morning that he was "thrilled, there is something about going home again", saying "this is home...this is where I am, this is where I want to stay, this is where I'm going to stay."
In a bit reminiscent of his "Brian Wilson Is My New Head Coach" sports analogy a ways back, he likened himself to a free-agent signing on a baseball team already loaded with talent, such as "lead-off hitter" Bill Wills in mornings, "hall of famer" Rush Limbaugh after him, followed by "clean up hitter" and afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno. (No, Frantz didn't use our usual phrase for Triv. He apparently hasn't read Ohio law yet...)
As for his former home, there's no word on if WSPD intends to fill the one-hour local slot it created when new PD Wilson moved Frantz from morning drive upon his arrival in the Glass City. The "Eye On Toledo" show name remains on the station's website schedule, but it would appear the evening show was specifically created to have somewhere to put Frantz after Fred LeFebvre took over the morning drive slot.
Item 2: While we electronically visit Toledo, our speculation on the matter turns to reality... as Block Communications' (Buckeye Cablesystem) cable/satellite WB affiliate "WT05" signs a deal to become the Toledo market's CW Network affiliate in the fall. The move leaves UPN affiliate WNGT-LP 48 with the option of My Network TV, assuming it even survives its current financial problems. Toledo's Cornerstone Church is said to be the eventual buyer of the station, which is currently in bankruptcy receivership, and may not even keep secular programming on the station.
And though Cornerstone did once operate Toledo secular dance rimshot WXQQ/96.9 Wauseon (now owned by Christian contemporary network "K-Love"), we can't see them running the steamy telenovelas envisioned by My Network TV.
Item 3: A regular reader of This Space adds to his voicetracking empire. AllAccess reports that Kasper, APD/MD/afternoon driver at Clear Channel Cleveland CHR WAKS/96.5 "Kiss FM" is spreading the Kasper Voice Love to WFMF in Baton Rouge LA, and KKRZ "Z100" in Portland OR.
He's already heard on WAKS Kiss Sister WAKZ/95.9 in the Youngstown market in afternoon drive, following, we believe, the love of his life, Krissy Taylor...who's also now heard via voicetracking on CC Akron/Canton Hot AC WKDD/98.1. (If you're not confused yet, we can do more...)
Item 4: And while we're electronically in Youngstown, our best wishes for a full recovery for WFMJ/21 weatherman Mark Koontz, who reportedly became disoriented during a newscast and was rushed to a Cleveland hospital. WFMJ's website reports that Koontz is "undergoing some tests, and his condition is good". Well-wishers can send him E-Mail via the WFMJ site. He's a familiar name to Cleveland TV viewers, of course, for his long stint as a weekend weatherman at WJW/8...
The Beacon Journal's R.D. Heldenfels reports that officials at WKYC/3 and Time Warner Cable are mulling the prospect of ending "Akron/Canton News" by the end of April, due to massive financial losses. The apparent cause - moving from a broadcast channel (WVPX/23) to the obscurity of TWC's channel 23 has made it difficult to sell advertising for the newscast.
To that end, TWC's Bill Jasso says the company will try to convince large, "institutional" advertisers to get on board in a meeting early next month. He's talking about advertisers like the University of Akron - which we know had been aboard as a "founding sponsor" in the newscast's early days on WVPX.
Both TWC and WKYC seem to regard the newscast as a "loss leader", and say they're basically hoping to cover costs if nothing else. Without "Akron/Canton News", WKYC's Akron bureau downtown would shrink from 10 employees to three - current anchor Eric Mansfield would remain as reporter/bureau chief, and have two videographers in the building.
The office of Akron mayor Don Plusquellic is also getting involved...as the city actually helped birth the original "PAX 23 News" by extracting financial concessions out of new WVPX owner Paxson Communications in exchange for approval of a tower site rezoning. And of course, long-time Plusquellic spokesman Mark Williamson was the news director and anchor for WAKC/23's "23 Newsday" back in the day.
While TWC is the area's dominant cable operator, the cable channel in question is sparsely programmed with occasional local shows...though it does now host Cleveland Indians games as the channel for SportsTime Ohio....
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
It will indeed be WSPD/1370 Toledo host Bob Frantz returning to sister talker WTAM/1100 Cleveland, and he will take over the 9-11:30 AM mid-morning local talk shift opened up with the dispatching of syndicated liberal host Jerry Springer a week ago last Friday. The news was apparently announced on WSPD program director Brian Wilson's show this afternoon.
The news is confirmed on the website of the weekly Toledo Free Press newspaper, where Frantz has written a regular column. According to the Free Press item, the new show on WTAM will start tomorrow, March 22nd, though the item also incorrectly lists the WTAM mid-morning slot (it's 9-11:30 AM, not 9:30-11 AM).
We hear from an anonymous birdie, perhaps with an address in a tree at Oak Tree, that Frantz will indeed be heard starting Wednesday...ending the rest of the fill-in rotation. For those looking to hear former WTAM host Rick Gilmour's return, well, it won't be happening this week.
Frantz tells the Free Press that "this has honestly been one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do,” but that “Cleveland is home to me, and going back to work at WTAM, where my career began, is a tremendous opportunity, but it is extraordinarily difficult for me to leave Toledo."
In the Free Press item, Frantz describes the WTAM show as discussing "local, state and national issues and some sports". He'll write a final column talking about his departure from Toledo, which will appear in the weekly paper's March 29th issue...
While within the range of the 50,000 watt blowtorch-delivered signal of Cleveland Clear Channel talker WTAM/1100 last night, we happened to catch "Sportsline's" Kevin Keane taking on-air votes about the rotation of local talk show hosts - and would be hosts - heard the past week and change on the "Big One's" mid-morning airwaves. Included in the list since last we updated - former Fox Sports Radio co-host and Euclid resident Chuck Booms ("Kiley and Booms"), who did Monday and Tuesday of this week.
We also heard Keane pass along what he'd heard from station management. After Brad Sussman (Wednesday) and Rick Gilmour (Thursday/Friday) wrap up their stints, the competition is over...and next Monday, according to Keane last night, you'll hear the permanent occupant of the 9-11:30 AM stint on WTAM.
OMW's standing by our first prediction - that former WTAMer and current WSPD/1370 Toledo evening host Bob Frantz will be cracking open that microphone next Monday as the newly minted mid-morning host. As we've stated before, we believe this was his gig to lose, and nothing we've heard so far changes that opinion - either on the air, or from our various sources.
It's not that the other hosts - Sussman, WOIO/19-WUAB/43's Chuck Galeti (also a regular WTAM fill-in and former "Sunday Morning Sports Page" host), and Booms did anything to take themselves out of the running. Booms, who's also done fill-in sports talk work for Clear Channel's Akron/Canton cluster, has non-sports talk on his resume via a stint at Clear Channel flagship talk WOAI/1200 San Antonio.
We just believe that aside from our earlier reporting on this, the kind of show Frantz does is the kind of show WTAM wants to put in the mid-morning slot - a local, issues-oriented show with the ability to poke a few hornets nests when need be.
As for Rick Gilmour, it's hard to see the former WTAM weekend and night host (who even had a turn at afternoons once, we believe) taking the slot. We're not sure his brand of talk radio works at 9 AM, or that WTAM would - as we mentioned - "go back to the future" with a host who worked his way down the schedule until leaving a ways back. But, as always, we'll be listening...
Sunday, March 19, 2006
We neglected to mention that OMW tipster Nathan Obral heard the mention of Rick Gilmour's upcoming two day appearance... in one of "Gilly's" last time slot homes: Saturday night.
The host? WMMS afternoon drive host "Maxwell"...who took part in a recent stunt with WTAM afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno, the two swapping stations.
It probably means little...
Thanks to regular OMW tipster Nathan Obral for the heads up...it appears that former WTAM/1100 talker Rick Gilmour will indeed jump into the station's new mid-morning host rotation...with appearances on Thursday and Friday of next week.
A guy in a certain area suburb, a regular reader, has no doubt broken his arm patting himself on the back for this "scoop". But unlike him, we don't expect WTAM to go "back to the future" and hire Gilmour for the permanent gig. We'll go into detail when we aren't tapping out our entry on a PDA screen...
Thursday, March 16, 2006
As we prepare to head out, we hear that as expected, WOIO/19-WUAB/43 sports director Chuck Galeti is indeed the next square in the WTAM Mid-Morning Talk Checkerboard. We haven't had a chance to hear if Chuck has indicated he's "just sitting in" because he's an experienced WTAM fill-in host. Galeti, of course, is well-known to 'TAM listeners...he was the regular host of the station's "Sunday Morning Sports Page" for some time. As with the other folks filling the station's now-open mid-morning slot, he is not doing sports talk this morning.
While we're on the road, we should have the capability - despite being outside even the 50,000 watt flamethrower signal of WTAM (during the day) - to check in with the mid-morning talk rotation and update The Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) from time to time. We know right now that station fill-in and former WEWS/5 weatherman Brad Sussman will be on again next Wednesday, and though we wouldn't bet on it, it wouldn't be a surprise if WSPD/1370's Bob Frantz will be back on Monday and Tuesday.
Anyway, here's hoping our absence from the market doesn't put anyone out of work, like seems to usually happen...and if it does, we're hoping it's not you...
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
As we try to do, OMW would like to warn our regular readers that Your Primary Editorial Voice will be out of Northeast Ohio from early Thursday through approximately Monday...for a long-planned - and pre-paid for that matter - personal event. We mention this because of what seems to happen when we leave the area...major radio/TV moves, or at least once, a major move in the world of local sports. Don't worry, Browns president/GM Phil Savage, we believe you're safe this time.
It's likely our last major trip for some time, unless we decide to leave the area for good. It's not like we haven't hinted about that roughly 20 times since The Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) started last summer...
The other housekeeping item involves the OMW comment system. We've seen an increase of non-related comment spam over the past couple of weeks, so we've had to turn on "word verification". This means that before you can post a comment, a human being has to type in a phrase that appears in a graphic above the verification box. If there's anyone who has a problem with that system, please let us know...go to the "View my complete profile" link up there near the top left for the E-Mail address.
But frankly, we're tired of being told where we can find a FREE video game system or an online degree program...
ITEM 1: As expected, it's former WEWS/5 personality and regular station fill-in talk host Brad Sussman occupying the chair in the WTAM/1100 studios for the third mid-morning local talk show in the Clear Channel Cleveland talker's recent history. The show had a different opening today - with the station's imaging voice noting that in "nearly ten years, this time slot has been occupied by a Doctor, a Sick Freak and even a Ringmaster". (For those scoring at home, that's Dr. Laura, Glenn Beck and Jerry Springer, in order. Heh.)
Sussman also indicated that he'd be back next Wednesday. At this point, we don't know if WSPD/1370 Toledo's Bob Frantz is also returning in pattern on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
We've been getting a lot of "votes" on the topic, and we're noting that another potential occupant of the slot - WOIO/19-WUAB/43 sports director and former WTAM "Sunday Morning Sports Page" host Chuck Galeti is getting a lot of mentions among our commenters and E-Mailers. We hear Galeti may be in the rotation for this week or next in the 9 AM-11:30 AM slot, though we don't know if he'd be actually trying out for the permanent gig.
We also heard from folks who have their own take on our "betting line", and we'd like to explain it a little. Remember, we had the very first word in This Space that Frantz (a former WTAMer) may be heard on WTAM doing local issues talk, a good week and a half before "Springer on the Radio" was given its walking papers, and well before anyone expected the station to go local at 9 AM.
While it does appear to OMW that the mid-morning slot is a genuine contest at this point, Frantz was clearly in the picture - and on the minds of station management - when WTAM made the move. We still think it's his gig to lose. That's why he gets the "even money" designation in our original "betting line".
Some wondered why we had longer odds about Galeti, but part of that is because that we're not even sure he's officially in the rotation right now...or if he'd be interested in doing the gig on a regular basis. It doesn't really have much to do with our own personal opinion of how "good" the host is, for better or worse.
ITEM 2: The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes checks in with the announcement of the Adelphia/SportsTime Ohio deal. STO's Jim Liberatore - all but shouting "see, satellite services, we have most of the local cable companies now!" - notes it brings them up to 1.5 million cable homes...with the 350,000 Adelphia contributes.
Though Hoynes says that the deal brings the Indians-owned cable network to viewers in "several Cleveland suburbs", we're pretty sure Adelphia also covers significant parts of Cleveland itself, if not the bulk of the city. Not that we expect much more accuracy on this topic even from the paper's alleged sports media columnist...
Liberatore provides some hope for Comcast subscribers, saying they're "close" to reaching a deal. But he's not using those words for Cox's local systems, just saying they're "still in negotiations" with that service, as well as Wide Open West and Armstrong...the three major holdouts within the immediate Cleveland area. He says they're hoping to be in "90 percent" of the cable homes within a 50 mile radius of Jacobs Field by Opening Day.
Meanwhile, the Lorain Journal reports that Comcast Cleveland also confirms those talks are nearly complete, and Liberatore even gives the paper a timetable. He says STO and Comcast should wrap up those negotiations "in the next three to 10 days". (We don't know if Comcast's management locally consists of diehard baseball fans, as the Indians PR folks felt the need to say about Adelphia regional vice president Pamela Mackenzie in yesterday's news release...)
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
STO and the Indians are announcing an agreement with the Adelphia cable systems in Northern Ohio to carry the team-owned network. On Adelphia's main Greater Cleveland system, STO games will air on cable channel 17, and the SportsTime Ohio site lists a number of other channels in other Adelphia areas. (We'll list them at the bottom of this item.)
It was announced that Adelphia would start carrying the STO games on Thursday, but the first spring training game actually started tonight, at least on Adelphia's channel 17 on the Greater Cleveland system. Here are a couple of screen shots from the pre-game show:
There's no word on where STO's high-definition broadcasts will air on Adelphia, but we'd be surprised if they didn't show up on the newly-created "HD Bonus" channel (798), which only airs FOX Sports Net Ohio's HD Cleveland Cavaliers games right now. We see no indication that the channel is intended solely for FSN Ohio, and indeed, the name would indicate otherwise. STO's HD broadcasts won't start until the first regular season game.
The signup of Adelphia is hugely important to SportsTime Ohio, as Adelphia is the largest system in Cuyahoga County and has other suburban and rural outposts outside the immediate Cleveland area.
Here's your SportsTime Ohio Adelphia channel list:
Greater Cleveland (except Macedonia), Port Clinton- 17
Macedonia - 97
Lorain County - 23
Amsterdam, Cadiz - 19
Ashtabula - 30
Bryan - 15
Caldwell, Cambridge, Coshocton, Newark - 53
Carrollton, Minerva, New Philadelphia - 69
Celina, Van Wert - 74
Defiance, Waterville, Wauseon, Versailles - 37
Marion - 2
This list is adapted from STO's website. We're assuming that since Adelphia will be absorbed into Time Warner Cable in the summer, that Adelphia didn't spend a lot of time trying to get a single cable channel.
STO also officially announced what we reported earlier, the addition of Toledo's Buckeye Cablesystem and its sister Erie County Cablevision, as well as a deal with Doylestown Cable, and a small cable system we've never heard of, BTC Cablevision (Bascom, OH). Bascom is apparently located just outside of Tiffin...
We haven't heard any official word on who will do the rest of the week, or beyond, but we're hearing some expected names being bandied about.
Among the names - regular Triv substitute and former WEWS/5 weatherman Brad Sussman, and WOIO/19-WUAB/43 sports director and former WTAM weekend sports talk host Chuck Galeti. We've had no confirmation that either be on the air from 9-11:30 AM this week, but their regular presence on WTAM means we wouldn't be surprised to hear one or both of them.
We do wonder, though, if Galeti in particular will mount any number of non-sports topics, as it's been made clear by Frantz in his first two days that the WTAM show won't be "Sportsline Midday"...it'll talk about sports issues if they are on people's minds, but it won't be a discussion of which tackle the Browns should pick up. It'll be a general issues/topics talk show, not a sports talk show.
We suppose Sussman would be the second most likely candidate after Frantz to take the regular gig, unless there's someone waiting in the wings at Oak Tree who we don't know about. We also doubt WTAM would bring in an out-of-town host for what they're trying to do.
And while technically, Frantz now works in Toledo, he has station and Cleveland history, so he counts as a local for the purposes of this speculation. We mean that we don't believe WTAM would import a host from a market far away, outside Ohio.
Want some OMW handicapping of Who May Be The Host? We'd put Frantz at even money, Sussman at 10-1 against, Galeti at 25-1 against, and "other" at 100-1 against. But unless you're Salem-WHK/1420 syndicated morning host Bill Bennett, don't go to the betting window with those odds...they're just based on our gut feeling...
Monday, March 13, 2006
AllAccess reports today that the unnamed CBS representative "flatly denies" that O&A are "returning to CBS Radio". Even if you don't parse that statement as some have - the rumor would have the duo's existing XM Satellite Radio show air in a broadcast-edited version, so they're not really "returning" directly - confirming the rumors would mean that Diamond Dave would have to be let go and would be off the air. So, we didn't really expect that...no matter how likely the rumor originated by New York Radio Message Board owner Allan Sniffen is to be true.
For his part, Sniffen says that he's "sticking with" what he originally posted on Friday. "CBS-Radio can deny the O&A story if it wants to," he says in a post to his message board today. The talk radio pair said several things which could be construed as confirming the story on their Monday show, though it's not altogether clear how serious they were about those statements.
Meanwhile, for DLR's part, he's been lashing out at his new CBS Radio bosses. John Mainelli, the former WABC program director now doing the radio beat for the New York Post, reports on Roth's on-air rage, where he predicted he'd be fired soon. Roth listed a bunch of management directives about how his show should change.
They sound to us like typical stuff (target audience focusing, etc.), but they also sound to us like Howard Stern's own on-air complaints about how he was being handled by his bosses when HE was in the time slot. You don't think...nah...well, it wouldn't be the first time that supposed inter-office sniping was used as program material on purpose, and to get publicity for a show...
But that doesn't end the uncertainty for the Beacon. The deal only means - as the newspaper itself reports - that the Beacon and 11 other Knight Ridder papers are going to be changing hands again...as McClatchy won't hang onto those newspapers. The group being sold off again includes not only the Beacon, but the San Jose Mercury News, and both daily newspapers in Philadelphia. McClatchy is also selling off the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, which competes with its own Star-Tribune in Minneapolis.
McClatchy says it wants to hang onto KR papers in "high-growth areas", which most certainly led to the company putting the newspaper which started the entire company into the "re-sale bin". It's not known if the 12 KR papers being let loose would be sold individually or as a group. McClatchy officials say they've already gotten some interest in those newspapers.
Again, we don't normally delve into covering the print media here, but this could have a long-term impact on the local media market as a whole...
GOING LOCAL: We're listening right now to a recording of this morning's first local mid-morning talk show on WTAM/1100. As reported here first, it's indeed WSPD/1370 Toledo evening host Bob Frantz - a former WTAM sports voice - on the air for day one...after the end of what Frantz called the Jerry Springer "experiment".
While noting that he was a "moderate conservative" and welcomed all viewpoints, Frantz joked that WTAM's decision affected roughly 7 people he'd like to take to dinner, and that the station would no longer be airing "George Soros talking points", a jab at the wealthy contributor to left-wing causes. He held a little on-air "funeral" for Springer, in a bit which said Springer's "only problem as a talk radio host was that he wasn't very good at talk radio".
Frantz did come out and say he's "100 percent in favor" of bringing casino gambling to Northeast Ohio, which should serve him well in currying favor from afternoon motormouth and casino proponent Mike Trivisonno.
While Frantz did confirm that he'll be back tomorrow, he framed his appearances as "being asked to fill-in" by Clear Channel local programming guru Kevin Metheny...who, oddly enough, once characterized himself on-air as Springer's "talent coach". It would appear with Springer's radio stint, coaching just isn't enough to make it work.
Though the station has created production elements for Frantz, it has done so on short notice for fill-in hosts before...so we wouldn't read too much into it. We still believe, as we did weeks ago, that Frantz has "the inside track" at the permanent gig.
ONE SPORTSTIME PICKUP: An OMW reader tips us, and we've confirmed via the Sandusky Register, that Toledo-based Buckeye Cablesystem has signed a deal to air the 130 cable-only games aired by new Indians' network SportsTime Ohio. It's by far the largest pickup for STO outside of direct partner Time Warner Cable. The deal also includes Sandusky-based Erie County Cablevision, a Buckeye sister cable system.
AND MORE SPORTSTIME: Still no word a SportsTime Ohio deal with "the big three" cable systems in the Cleveland market: Adelphia, Comcast and Cox. A deal is supposedly close with all three. The Plain Dealer's Roger Brown weighs in with his Monday sports media column on another concern that providers have - they'd apparently be more amenable to paying for STO if it offered more programming outside the Indians game broadcasts.
DirecTV's Dan Fawcett tells Brown he doesn't see any "real aspirations" from STO to build a full-time sports network. He's apparently not buying into STO chief Jim Liberatore's non-specific vision of a 24/7 channel.
Meanwhile, Brown reports that STO plans an advertising blitz to encourage DirecTV subscribers to move to Time Warner before Opening Day, so they can get Indians games on TV. As the relative of a huge Indians fan with DirecTV, we just don't see that one flying with him... he'll probably just make do with the 20 over-air games, and the Indians Radio Network for the rest.
AND STILL MORE SPORTSTIME: Brown asks newly-minted "alternative" Indians post-game TV/radio host Les Levine how it affects his weekday talk show on Adelphia 15. Levine says the FSN Ohio/WKNR show won't end his Adelphia program, but does not answer the "what happens when Adelphia is no more" question we posed below.
We'd have to think that there's a chance "More Sports and Les Levine" may not make the jump to Time Warner Cable, which is heavily involved with SportsTime Ohio. Whether FSN Ohio finds a place for the show now seen on Adelphia at 6 PM weeknights may depend on whether they can even find a place for him to do it.
It's odd to us, though, that a network we've often criticized for a lack of local programming may have to ramp up such programming in the wake of losing one of its flagship properties.
STO DEBUT: We'd almost forgotten, but Sunday was the debut of the Indians' new in-house TV network, SportsTime Ohio. We'd forgotten because the OMW World Headquarters (check your real estate listings soon!) is barely within the boundaries of Adelphia's currently existing Cleveland area cable system. Though both the Tribe and Adelphia keep saying an agreement is expected soon, it didn't come in time for Sunday's STO opener - where the Indians bested the New York Yankees 7-5 in a spring training tilt in Winter Haven.
We hear from folks who did catch at least some of the game that the production had no major glitches, at least that they saw...not that we'd expect many from the professionals at WKYC/3, which is running the back end of all of this season's televised Indians contests. We suspect that it probably reminded many of a FSN Ohio spring game, with the former FSN Indians' voices on board for STO.
VIEW FROM THE OUTSIDE?: Speaking of the jilted Indians TV suitor, sports media columnist Roger Brown made it official in his Sunday Plain Dealer column - TV non-rightsholder FSN Ohio is teaming up with the radio non-rightsholder, Salem sports talk WKNR/850, for a post-game simulcast called "Cleveland Rants". They're spinning it as a more objective way to Talk Tribe than on the company-owned or flagship TV and radio outlets.
But perhaps the news buried within the news is more interesting. The show will mark veteran Cleveland sports radio/TV personality Les Levine's return to a regular, live, pretty much nightly radio gig in many years. (We're not counting the brief delayed rebroadcast of the Internet-based "Sports Club" show, or whatever that was called, which even landed on WKNR for a short time.) The Adelphia 15 sports talker joins up with WKNR's Neil Bender for the "Rants" show.
We're wondering how this affects Les' future with Adelphia, and with the Time Warner Cable service which will take over Adelphia this summer. We suspect doing a show on STO-competitor FSN Ohio could end his long-running Adelphia show when that service dies, and may be a sign that the negotiations to move it to STO-tied TWC didn't go well.
Certainly, Levine couldn't be on both STO/TWC and FSN Ohio...so our guess is that FSN Ohio may find more for him to do, including perhaps moving his existing Adelphia show BACK to that channel. That assumes that he doesn't put the show on hold with his new duties.
Yes, we mean "back", as Levine's TV show originated years ago on the old SportsChannel Ohio (FSN Ohio's predecessor), then moved to Cablevision, which got bought by Adelphia. Anyway, FSN Ohio sure needs the material in baseball season, having lost the Indians games. This is just a semi-educated guess on our part, and nothing's been announced out of the Levine camp or out of FSN Ohio, aside from the WKNR post-game simulcast.
The only problem here is that FSN Ohio has no studio space, so unless Levine did the TV show from WKNR or something...
BASKIN BROADCAST: One semi-related item. We neglected to pass along the word that a long-time FSN Ohio pre-game and post-game personality has made the jump to The Land Of Broadcast. Andy Baskin debuted this week as WKYC/3's weekend sports anchor, replacing Mike Cairns. For someone used to working on Indians games, there's no better broadcast place for him...with his new employer being the over-air home of the team.
JERRY-LESS: And a reminder - Monday at 9 AM, it's the beginning of the Local Mid-Morning Talk Era at Clear Channel's "Big One" in Cleveland, WTAM/1100. We don't know much about what to expect this week. We only know that former 'TAMer Bob Frantz will be the first voice you hear out of the 9 AM news on 1100 later this morning, and that he may be around another day this week as well.
Someone asked us if the competition to win WTAM's midday slot would be akin to WNIR/100.1's "Akron Idol", the talent contest the Akron market talker held to replace afternoon drive fixture Joe Finan...who eventually resurfaced in middays on Clear Channel liberal talk competitor WARF/1350.
Umm, no. WTAM will be airing, presumably, professionals, or people with the prospect of becoming a professional.
The eventual occupant of the WNIR afternoon drive slot, former Cleveland Browns star Bob Golic, got thrown on the air in Tom Erickson's slot late one evening as his "audition"...and unless he had started dropping F-bombs on the air that night, we're pretty sure he already had the job locked up from the moment WNIR officials answered his phone call. (Or else, it'd have been, "Sorry, Bob, but we really like that delivery truck driver...we think he'd be a great host...")
We've also been asked if we're throwing our hat into the WTAM mid-morning competition. Aside from WTAM having no idea who we are...well, no, but thanks for asking. However, we certainly show in our entries here that we can be as long-winded as a radio talk show host...