Friday, June 30, 2006

WJMP Back on Air

For you sports radio diehards in Kent, Ravenna and parts of the Akron area who've missed it -

Media-Com sports WJMP/1520 Kent "Fox Sports Radio 1520" is back on the air this afternoon. The station went off the air a couple of days ago, reportedly due to a lightning strike to its transmitter...

More on That Cincy Swap

We don't normally spend much time watching the Cincinnati market, but a high-profile frequency swap and two formats we normally watch have added up to more interest on our part up here.

Radio & Records Online confirms our earlier report - liberal talk WCKY will indeed move to the 1360 AM frequency when sister sports "1360 Homer, The Sports Animal" takes up residence on the flamethrower at 1530. (We're still not sure if the call letters will move with the formats.)

R&R quotes Clear Channel Cincinnati AM operations manager Darryl Parks: "Moving Homer to 1530AM will enable us to broadcast The Sports Animal at 50,000 watts. Increasing the station's reach gives us the opportunity to better serve the huge demand for Sports radio in the region."

What demand there is for liberal talk in the region is still an open question.

None of our facts below have changed, and Parks - at least in quotes in the R&R snippet today - does not even reference WCKY, the liberal talk format or locally-based syndicated host Jerry Springer. It's all about "Homer".

That, along with his quotes from the Enquirer earlier this month would still seem to place the liberal talk format in some jeopardy in its new home at 1360 AM.

Our "totally off the wall guess" - the fate and future of Cincinnati's "The Revolution of Talk Radio" solely depends on one thing...the status of Springer's radio contract. They'll either have to wait it out, or buy it out. One of the two.

Springer likes doing the radio show and has - if you believe him - eschewed runs for political office to do it, but if the audience is not there...Clear Channel will not continue to keep running his show.

Without the Springer contract, we'd believe that the liberal talk format would not be making the move to 1360 on July 7th. We're also wondering how much Springer and Clear Channel's deal to syndicate him via Air America are complicating this situation...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

UPDATED: Liberal Talk in Last Days in Queen City?

AllAccess reports a Clear Channel press release out of Cincinnati - the cluster's sports outlet, WSAI/1360 "1360 Homer, The Sports Animal", is reportedly moving to the 50,000 watt signal at 1530...currently occupied by liberal talk WCKY "The Revolution of Talk Radio".

The "Homer" move is set to take place July 7th.

UPDATE (10:01 AM 6/30/06): OMW hears from at least two sources that at least for now, the liberal talk format will make the move to 1360 AM when sports moves to 1530 on July 7th. We're not altogether certain that the move will be a long-term one, for the reasons we state below from our earlier item. The following, as we remind you again, is just our own speculation...


Enquirer radio/TV guru John Kiesewetter quotes Jones Radio syndicated afternoon host Ed Schultz as sounding a warning for the future of WCKY's liberal talk format.

"Republicans and conservatives ... are trying to get WCKY-AM in Cincinnati to take us off the air," Schultz wrote in an E-Mail to members of the Hamilton County Democratic Party a few months ago. "Sources inform us right-wingers have even gone so far as to call local advertisers and tell them they will not do business with them because they buy advertising during 'The Ed Schultz Show'"

But the more important wording in the article comes from Clear Channel Cincinnati AM programming chief Darryl Parks, who tells the Enquirer that WCKY's liberal talk format "could be dropped" if anemic ratings are not improved.

Quoting the article:

"We're not happy with the (ratings) results. We're always looking for a way to improve our product (stations)," Parks says. "This isn't about any political ideology. This is all about ratings and revenues."

It always is about ratings and revenue in commercial radio, and though we don't know the revenue side of the equation, the ratings have been pitifully low for "The Revolution of Talk Radio".

The 50,000 watt blowtorch - in the latest 12-plus numbers in Cincinnati - was even beaten by WDJO/1160 Florence KY, which flipped to the "real oldies" format that was featured on 1530 before liberal talk showed up...complete with 1530's former morning host Dusty Rhodes. (We don't have in-demo numbers in the Cincinnati market, but that picture couldn't have been much better for WCKY...if it was, you wouldn't see that quote above out of Mr. Parks.)

And Springer's show is on its last legs as well. Not only is it not popular in doesn't seem to be catching on anywhere. Cleveland CC sister talker WTAM/1100 dumped Springer for a local show hosted by Bob Frantz. Even within the liberal talk format, Springer just lost another big market - Miami - to Jones Radio's Stephanie Miller.

Liberal talk was a gamble in mostly conservative Cincinnati, and we don't think the company would have even mounted the format without a big local name to anchor it - that name being Springer...the former Cincinnati mayor and TV news anchor...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Sounds of Silence - Er...Static

UPDATE (6/29/06 3:05 PM): OMW hears that WJMP's transmitter was hit by a lightning strike, taking the Kent-licensed AM station off the air. 1520 is expected to return to the airwaves sometime Friday...


If a radio station no one listens to goes off the air, did it make a sound?

A message board post prompted us to fire up our two best radios, and...sure enough... Media-Com sports WJMP/1520 Kent "Fox Sports Radio 1520" is still off the air this late afternoon/early evening, a good hour and a half before its prescribed sunset sign-off. WJMP has a scratchy signal here at the OMW World Headquarters in northwest Akron, but we can tell if it is on the air.

Considering how the much-neglected sister of popular talk WNIR/100.1 is usually treated, we wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't noticed even at Broadcast Park, give or take a silence sensor or three.

As far as we know, Media-Com's Klaus family hasn't anted up for a backup generator since both stations were taken off the air during the 2003 blackout, and WNIR itself is on the air with no difficulty.

WJMP's transmitter and towers are co-located with WNIR's studio complex on Route 59 between Kent and Ravenna, as is the computer running Scott Systems that is the only other component of WJMP's existence. (WNIR's tower site moved out to its current location - on Route 43 in Brimfield Township at the I-76 interchange - a few years ago.)

We haven't heard any mention of 1520's off-air status in the past half-hour or so on WNIR, but the "big brother" talker usually ignores its daytime rimshot sister station on the air...

DirecTV Cleveland HD Locals Are Up - Well, Some of Them

As expected, and reported earlier by OMW, DirecTV has lit up their Cleveland market "local-into-local" HDTV service.

A press release from the company states that the initial offering only includes WKYC/3 (NBC), WEWS/5 (ABC) and WJW/8 (FOX). As far as the other channels are concerned, DirecTV says they are "in discussions with the owner of the CBS affiliate and (hope) to add this station to the DIRECTV lineup in the near future."

That affiliate, of course, would be Raycom Media's WOIO/19, and it's not like we're surprised that Reserve Square has thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into the proceedings. They were a tough negotiator with Time Warner and Adelphia before the services came to an agreement with them to add WOIO's HDTV offerings.

Don't expect, even if there's an agreement with Raycom, for the HDTV feed of WUAB/43 to show up right away on DirecTV.

At the onset of the HDTV "LIL" service, DirecTV is only offering the ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX affiliates. As we also reported earlier, local regional sports networks will also be offered in HDTV (SportsTime Ohio and FOX Sports Net Ohio), but it doesn't appear that either WB or UPN affiliates will be shown before those affiliates change their networks in the fall.

The market's current WB Network affiliate, Winston Broadcasting's WBNX/55 Akron, has not yet lit up its under construction digital facility. It's still not clear if that will happen before the station turns to the new CW Network in September...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Former PAX TV Mines Warner Brothers 70s and 80s Titles

The network now known on-air as the "i" network has reached a pact with Warner Brothers Domestic Cable Distribution. ION Networks - the new name for the parent of "i" - has picked up the rights to a whole warehouse load of old Warner Brothers-produced and represented content. Locally, ION - formerly PAX TV - owns WVPX/23 Akron.

The list includes classic 1970's and 1980's TV shows like "Welcome Back, Kotter", "Growing Pains", "Perfect Strangers" and "Scarecrow and Mrs. King"...and movies include a host of what appears to be mostly 70's and 80's big name titles ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "All the President's Men", "2001" and the like).

The new agreement kicks off July 1st with an especially timely movie - "Superman III", which airs just days after the opening of the theatrical release "Superman Returns". The original "Superman" is also included in the package. The rest of the Warner Brothers offerings start airing on the former PAX TV in August.

OK, so the catalog is growing a bit of dust on it...but you don't have to explain any of these shows and movies to someone, say, in their early 40's. The question the "i" folks will have to answer is - will people come back and revisit the titles?

The old sitcoms, in particular, have developed into something of a niche for outlets like Chicago's WWME-LP, a low-power outlet which calls itself "ME-TV". It's the sister of Weigel Broadcasting's full-power independent in that market, WCIU/26.

We're wondering how much ION/i paid for the rights. Warner Brothers, through its sister AOL service's website, has been offering some of these shows for free Internet viewing...

Next Adelphia Step Approved

A federal bankruptcy judge has given his approval to the sale of Adelphia's assets to Time Warner and Comcast, a sale which will eventually put nearly all of the company's Northern Ohio cable systems under Time Warner's control.

The sale has been held up by creditor concerns over the overall Adelphia restructuring plan, but the judge's order means it can proceed without that overall plan.

But the approval doesn't automatically give a green light to the Adelphia system breakup, in which Adelphia's regional holdings will be divided between Time Warner and Comcast. Those two entities are also trading some regional systems to consolidate their local holdings.

Here, it'll be Comcast giving its Cleveland-based network to Time Warner...elsewhere, Comcast will pick up some Time Warner systems.

The Adelphia sale must still be approved by the FCC, which is expected to tackle the matter in mid-July. The FTC already weighed in with its approval. There is also a linked transaction regarding Adelphia's majority interest in two joint ventures...which the company proposes to sell to Comcast. At least one of those ventures has Northeast Ohio ties.

This is all pushing the Adelphia asset transaction up against a July 31st deadline. After that date, Time Warner and Comcast can get out of the deal. Adelphia's chairman has been quoted as calling the July 31st date a "drop dead" date...

Univision Sold

The company that owns Cleveland's WQHS/61 is being sold in a $12.3 billion deal.

The group buying the Spanish-language network Univision is led by a big name in media - Haim Saban. He's best known for producing the show which put him on the TV programming map - "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers". As co-founder and part-owner of FOX Family Worldwide, he has produced a number of childrens programs for the folks at FOX.

No, that doesn't mean Univision is about to become "KidsVision". The Spanish-language segment of U.S. broadcasting has exploded over the years, and Saban's group is no doubt eager to keep Univision's dominance there. The network is a clear number one among U.S. Hispanic viewers up against NBC-owned Telemundo.

Here's an example of how the sector (and Univision) is growing: The network's broadcast of 2006 World Cup competition is blowing through viewer records. MediaWeek reports that Saturday's contest between Mexico and Argentina drew 6.7 million viewers, including nearly four and a half million in the cherished 18-49 demo.

The overall World Cup picture for Univision is quite strong, with triple digit percentage increases in viewers over the 2002 World Cup. And in a new rights deal for future World Cup events, the Spanish-language broadcaster is paying over three times the rights fees than ABC/ESPN.

Unless the new owners come in and find a strategic reason for selling off WQHS (like, for example, Cleveland's small Hispanic market), we don't see any changes happening here...

Cleaning Up After Ourselves

Some notes and followup based on some of our other items...

KASPER ACTION: Everyone's favorite local Radio Friendly Ghost (OK, sorry, last time we'll use that joke) has made an interesting list - AllAccess "Action". For those who aren't familiar with the list, it's where the popular trade website plants names that may (or may not) be involved in future career moves or other such items.

Kasper, who is still assistant program director/music director/afternoon driver at Clear Channel Cleveland top 40 WAKS/96.5 "Kiss FM", was recently considered for the program director slot blown open by Dan Mason's move to sister Miami top 40 outlet WHYI "Y100". While we always considered him a strong candidate for the job, it ended up being sister rock WMMS/100.7 programmer Bo Matthews who tacked on the new title to his current duties.

While there are some already speculating that Kasper is headed off to either Chicago or New York City, we caution that we've not heard anything yet. (We're also reminded that Kasper's former "Kiss" PD, Mr. Mason, is looking for help in middays/imaging help down in Miami.)

And yes, Kasper is a regular reader of Your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), though he's been quiet as a churchmouse in our direction since even before Dan Mason scooted south. He's a reader, not a talker.

We do know that he returned to Cleveland in part because he said he was interested in programming, an opportunity that wasn't in his job description at Philadelphia's "Q102" (he was solely the afternoon drive personality there). Whether continuing to be APD/MD here is enough to keep him around...we honestly do not know. But it does seem AllAccess thinks he's up to something...

ZIPPO IN THE IDAHO: It's funny how much of an impact a satellite 24/7 format morning show host can have. Most of 'em are basically generic and ignored locally, but our item on former ABC "Pure Gold" morning host/PD Jim Zippo stirred some memories.

We did some further checking, and it appears his move to small city Idaho may have been more of a lifestyle move than yet another sign that oldies are going out of style. We found this in a "situations wanted" ad he posted some time ago while still doing mornings at a Las Vegas oldies station:

Seeking family friendly city to do morning drive show; Las Vegas is too wild for us to raise our 3 young children!

We'd imagine Pocatello would fit in the "family friendly city" category. And Zippo noted his availability in AC or other contemporary formats. But his best work and most recent work has been done in the oldies format, and we still believe he faced fewer opportunities because of it...

KRAMER! KRAMER!: Take it for what it's worth, as it was an anonymous comment... but someone posting to one of our earlier items says they've already figured out the new destination for former WVKS/92.5 "Kiss FM" Toledo night slammer and MD "Kramer" - the "Kiss FM" sister station in Hartford CT, WKSS/95.7.

For what it's worth, the WKSS website does not list an afternoon drive personality...or if it does, we can't find that listing.

UPDATE: We hear it's indeed happening - Kramer is heading for Hartford's version of "Kiss FM".

A reminder, again. We appreciate these tips, a lot! But...if we don't know where they are coming from, we can't have much of an idea how accurate they are.

Please drop us a private E-Mail at the address linked under "View my complete profile" to the left of the OMW scroll, and let us know who you are. Your anonymity will be assured. If you're not comfortable E-Mailing from your workplace, drop us a note from home. We'd tell you we can be trusted, but we'd have to tell you who's talked with us in the past...and we can't do that, since, well, we assure anonymity. We're so good, we can't give you proof!

RUMOR: DirecTV HD Locals in Cleveland, AND SportsTime Ohio HD

OMW is hearing unconfirmed rumors that Cleveland market DirecTV customers will not only get local stations in HDTV directly from the satellite provider very soon, but also will be able to watch SportsTime Ohio's Cleveland Indians games in HD.

The last date we heard as possible for the Cleveland locals launch date was June 28th, which would be this Wednesday.

The rumors we've heard about SportsTime Ohio say it'll be one of 15 local RSNs (Regional Sports Networks) DirecTV will start offering to its local-into-local HDTV customers starting July 1st.

OMW also hears that the other local RSN, FOX Sports Ohio, could see its HD telecasts (presumably of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as aired late this past season) added by October.

Nearly all of the RSNs will be "games only", meaning that a channel's other programming won't be fed on the HDTV side of things. New England's NESN is much further into its HDTV programming, and will reportedly be up 24/7, and one or two others will follow.

As far as Northeast Ohio's two local sports networks go, of course, "games only" is not a problem because the games are basically their only HD programming, at least for now.

In our conversation with STO chief Jim Liberatore a while back, he told us that the STO HD games "were available" to the satellite providers should they choose to air them.

We'll also assume that the same geographic restrictions will apply to the HD feed of STO on DirecTV that apply to the regular feed. But, if you're over in Toledo or up in Erie and see otherwise with an HDTV LIL install, please let us know.

As previously announced, all of DirecTV's new local HDTV content delivered via satellite will require new MPEG4 equipment. And for the time being, it appears that only the "Big Four" over-air networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) will be sent down in HD as far as the broadcast outlets go...though that'll likely change down the road, say industry observers...

Monday, June 26, 2006

PD's Julie Washington on Bob and Tom

We guess we weren't expecting a timely article on WMMS' addition of Premiere's Bob and Tom today, but Plain Dealer TV/radio columnist Julie Washington has one in the Monday edition of the paper.

Cleveland native and co-host Tom Griswold calls the long-running syndicated show "not inordinately blue. Kinda sexy" as a way of introduction to potential Cleveland area listeners. WMMS promotions director Jeff Zukauckas (who is not the station's program director, despite being identified as such in the article) says the station is "extremely excited" about Bob and Tom, calling the Indianapolis-based hosts "immensely talented".

Bo Matthews, who would be the person actually holding the title of program director at WMMS, denies going with a syndicated show was a financial move, and says the former morning team of Sean, Cristi, Hunter, John-Boy, Phil, Dave...oh, you know...was told they were let go for a lack of ratings performance.

Despite the money issue being brought up by "media consultant" John Gorman in the Washington article, we can actually go with that statement from Mr. Matthews. For one, WMMS' morning drive ratings have never, ever been really solid. (If they were, a dozen morning shows would not have come and gone in nearly so many years.) For another, WMMS - we would assume - is not getting Bob and Tom for free.

Syndicated morning shows that rise to the level of Bob and Tom get paid by their affiliates, as we've explained more than once. The money does not necessarily go to the syndicator - in this case, WMMS owner Clear Channel's syndication arm of Premiere - but to the hosts as "pay" for being on in the market.

That doesn't mean WMMS still couldn't be paying less money for Bob and Tom than they were for Sean, Cristi and the rest of the former gang. The pair from Indy is probably getting some coin out of 'MMS, but it certainly wouldn't rise to the level of, oh, whatever's in the Brinks truck that's hauling out John Lanigan's pay in 2006.

So we guess you could speculate that "they're both right".

As far as Gorman's appearance in the story is concerned - it points out a problem with Ms. Washington's article. She does not let readers in on some historical Gorman, of course, is a former program director of the station in question. We guess that Washington was not aware of Gorman's history...

Quick Hits

We're batting cleanup with some small items this afternoon. (No, we're not available for the Cleveland Indians lineup. We couldn't hit a baseball if you put it on a tee-ball stand in front of us...)

ITEM 1: We normally break out Cleveland Plain Dealer sports media columnist Roger Brown's Monday column as a separate item, as it's the one that's supposed to focus specifically on sports radio/TV/media items. There's just not enough material in the column to do it this time.

Real Estate Roger has takes on decent ratings for ABC's World Cup 2006 soccer on WEWS/5, and the loss of some Ohio State sports events for local over-air stations that we touched on earlier in the item about the new "Big Ten Channel".

Brown notes that WUAB/43 will lose some Buckeyes basketball games, but does not mention the same will happen to low-power combo WAOH-LP/29 - W35AX "The CAT". But he also says WOIO/19 will lose some Ohio State football games due to the switch.

Is he sure about that? We were under the impression that OSU football was pretty much available every week on over-air stations (usually WEWS/5 as part of ABC's deal). We'll have to check on that...

That's about all that's worth noting from Roger's column this Monday.

ITEM 2: AllAccess confirms the rumblings we reported on Friday - "The Iggy Show" is out in nights at CBS Radio Cleveland alt-rocker WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock". WXRK has not named a permanent replacement.

ITEM 3: Some Toledo moves, also off the AllAccess scroll...Urban Radio Broadcasting CHR/rhythmic WJZE/97.3 "Hot 97.3" picks up "Doc Love" as the station's new assistant program director/PM driver. "Doc", former PD of Milwaukee urban outlet WKKV, takes over for the filling-in "Reggie Reg"...

And "Kramer" has left the set of the TV show MD/nights position at Clear Channel top 40 outlet WVKS/92.5 "Kiss FM" in the Glass City. WVKS programmer and operations honcho Bill Michaels is asking for tapes for Kramer's replacement. (Sorry, we ran out of quotation marks...)

Happy Anniversary to...Us

Today marks the first anniversary of the establishment of Ohio Media Watch.

One year ago today, your Primary Editorial Voice became one of the last human beings on earth to start a blog. (We think even a few cats and birds beat us to it.) Since that modest start on June 26, 2005, OMW has grown by leaps and bounds.

Honestly, we have no idea exactly how many people read Your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm). The only number we can go by is the number of hits to the "View my complete profile" page, which is likely not even seen by the vast majority of our casual readers who have no need to contact us. That number, as of today, is pushing 1600.

But the story goes far beyond the numbers. Here at OMW, we are consistently surprised when we find out who reads our little blog.

An example: Out of nowhere, a well-regarded major market programmer outside Northeast Ohio dropped us a note telling us how much he enjoyed reading our efforts here. And that's by far not the first note we've gotten like that. We also get regular public comments from the likes of Cleveland radio veteran Larry Morrow, and former WFHM "95.5 The Fish" morning co-host and local TV personality Robin Swoboda. Again, all unsolicited.

We've also been the subject of long, vehement tirades, and have heard that other media types have called for our virtual head. But other, more enlightened broadcasters at all levels know and appreciate our work here.

Anyway, the point is that we can pretty much safely say that OMW has readers in every major and minor broadcast cluster or group in Northeast Ohio. And probably...many of them, in each location.

The coming year will most assuredly be one of change for us.

We know - the upcoming sale of the OMW World Headquarters in Northwest Akron has become something of a running joke here, but it will be unavoidable for us sometime this summer. (We're what you call a "motivated seller". Very motivated.) We're still likely exploring a departure from the Northeast Ohio area, though that is not certain at this point. And even if we do leave, it would be entirely possible to continue this endeavor using modern technology.

We'll keep you up to date as soon as we know. And thank you for your continued readership and support...

And Here They Are

With the Spinal Tap shout "Hello, Cleveland!", Premiere syndicated morning duo Bob and Tom kicked off their first broadcast to the show's newest (and second-largest, after St. Louis) market.

The opening shot on Clear Channel rocker WMMS/100.7 was punctuated with references to Cleveland, which is clearly a market the Indianapolis-based pair has wanted to have on their roster for a long time.

Not only did the show feature regular guest Pat Dailey - a singer/songwriter well known to those who've partied on Lake Erie's Put-in-Bay - but they made frequent attempts to reset and explain the show's regular elements to new listeners in Cleveland. And then, there's the logo (pictured above) spotlighting their new affiliate on the B&T website.

Will it work, both in Cleveland and on WMMS?

Well, we guess you really can't answer that definitively, just 15 minutes after the first show ended. But it would seem either A) the show's brand of humor and sensibilities would probably fit in with the 'MMS audience or B) the well-developed show might seem a bit over-canned to a regular 100.7 listener, and not local...with too many regular bits and "inside humor" that it'll take a while to get used to. That's just a hunch. (For one, for our ears, the canned laughter that seemed to punctuate the entire show needs to be dialed back about 300 percent.)

It seems likely the show will continue to make efforts to connect to Cleveland listeners. Our thought is that they'll be like many syndicated shows, and try to "reach out" to such an important new market for them.

We don't believe they'll be like Westwood One/WJFK-Washington DC afternoon hot talkers "Don & Mike", who virtually physically attached themselves to new listeners in New York City in a failed experiment in the Big Apple, but they'll nod to Cleveland every once in a while.

As far as the other end is concerned, there are some already predicting B&T's demise on WMMS due to, among other things, the duo's brief run on Rubber City rocker WONE/97.5, just down I-77 here in Akron. (B&T have also been heard in Akron via Canton's WRQK/106.9 for the past year or so.)

We pretty much dismiss that prediction out of hand, since the situations are entirely different. Bob and Tom will either succeed or fail on WMMS from an entirely new platform, and the WONE stint won't have anything to do with how they work in Cleveland... or on a different station.

We'll have to see how it pans out...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bob and Tom's Arrival

Monday is the opening salvo for Premiere syndicated morning duo Bob and Tom in Cleveland, as they premiere on Clear Channel rocker WMMS/100.7 starting at 6 AM. (The graphic to the left is currently being featured on WMMS' website.)

As we note that event, we're reminded that it's the very first time in WMMS' long, historic run as a rock station that the morning show will not be produced locally.

We do seem to recall a brief run where the station's "Wolf and Mulrooney" show was syndicated back to the duo's former home market of Albany NY (we think that's what it was, any corrections appreciated). But it's the first time in WMMS' rock history that the morning show won't originate at the station...

UPDATE: 6/25/06 7:05 PM - We've stumbled onto this article by former 'MMS PD and Cleveland Free Times contributor John Gorman (pictured) - on what appears to be a new website called "Cleveland Current".

Gorman says that - as per massive speculation - WTAM afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno "was considered" for the WMMS morning drive slot, but that he supposedly asked for "major bucks and no-cut guarantees" that Clear Channel wasn't willing to give him. The programmer-turned-radio columnist also says that "in-house research showed (Triv) had a fighting chance" to up WMMS' morning drive ratings.

Though Gorman notes that two of WMMS' string of 12 morning shows actually were initially piped in from out of the market - Jacksonville FL's Dick Dale and Albany NY's "Wolf and Mulrooney" - both were physically moved to WMMS, and then sent back down the line to their former home stations.

The Bob and Tom premiere will mark the first time that WMMS has ever used a show that was either not based here, or was not hired with the intention to eventually be based here. And it is certainly the first nationally syndicated WMMS morning entrant, ever...

Some Cincinnati Moves

OMW is hearing rumblings that Radio One Cincinnati urban outlet WIZF/100.9 is advertising its upcoming frequency change on-air...a move that sometime in the next few weeks will take it to 101.1 FM.

The move is needed because of Radio One's second, incoming Cincinnati market FM station - WIFE/100.3 Connersville IN, which will head for the Queen City as Radio One purchases the locally-owned eastern Indiana oldies outlet.

Though Radio One is not entirely an urban format operator - it's had a couple or three mainstream top 40 outlets and even a couple of alternative rockers in its history - there aren't many who expect the oldies to stay on the new Norwood OH-licensed 100.3.

For that matter, the oldies are actually fairly new on the current WIFE-FM. The long-time country FM station recently flipped to a simulcast of its AM oldies station, and changed that station's call letters to WIFE(AM). 1580 AM there is expected to maintain the current format and name when 100.3 heads for southwest Ohio...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The OMW Paid Programming Rant

It's not often you'll witness us rant this much, so you might want to pull up a seat.

The rant started, in part, because we stumbled upon an infomercial on Raycom Media's WUAB/43 tonight, Cleveland's UPN (to become My Network TV) affiliate. in 9:30 PM. Prime-time.

We're pretty sure UPN doesn't program Saturday nights nationwide, so the slot was likely open. But to get extra revenue, unlike competing NBC affiliate WKYC/3 - which preempted NBC's rerun of the "Treasure Hunters" premiere to run a locally-aired "Matlock" movie - WUAB decided to sell prime-time to the highest infomercial bidder.

And we mean prime-time. ALL OF IT, all two hours of the normal UPN prime-time slot, and for that matter, another two hours before that. For four hours in a prime viewing time slot, WUAB/43 was running infomercials. Take a look at the station's 8-11 PM schedule tonight:

Remember the old WUAB jingle? You know, the one that just about any Northeast Ohio adult could still sing today..."Channel 43...plays FAVORITES!" Not anymore, they don't!

We've been watching TV in this market for a long time, give or take time out of the area...but we haven't seen this before, ever. We have often heard complaints of Raycom blocking out a lot of infomercial time during Saturday afternoons on channel 43, but this is the first time we've encountered it in prime-time.

Why bother watching WUAB? When you air an infomercial, the TV station is basically off the air in the eyes of 95% of your viewers. Only the bored or curious stick around.

Why bother airing the stuff? As a former co-worker of ours - once the interim program director at a large market talk radio station - is fond of saying..."infomercials are the crack cocaine of radio". (Or TV, in this case.) WUAB may be driving away large numbers of people in prime time, but they're sure smiling cashing those Guthy-Renker checks.

It's no wonder that the CW Network went with WBNX/55 as the new network's Cleveland market affiliate...leaving WUAB to take up with the My Network TV folks.

The second target of our rant is a familiar one...he's WTAM/1100 afternoon drive host Mike Trivisonno.

For much of an hour during a recent show, Triv extolled the virtues of health-related products from someone identified only as "Dr. Lamar" (presumably this guy, pictured from his website). And we do mean much of the hour...Triv held him over during the bottom of the hour news. Something about oxygen getting into the colon and cleansing out undigested food or the like...we really can't remember.

Triv dutifully gave the guy's phone number and website - we won't bother linking it here, because "Dr. Lamar" hasn't paid US - and asked detailed questions about the latest version of snake oil to be sold on a 50,000 watt radio station.

We welcome clarification from anyone inside Oak Tree, but we'd nearly bet the still-not-yet-for-sale OMW World Headquarters that the "Dr. Lamar" appearance was a paid one. If the actual "interview" with Triv wasn't directly paid - and we're pretty sure they'd have to say so - then it's a part of a deal that will likely land "Dr. Lamar"'s full infomercial in WTAM's off hours.

We find it VERY hard to believe that this was considered a legitimate topic of interest for a lengthy interview in the middle of WTAM's afternoon drive, but we'll gladly change our minds if we get solid evidence that it was not an adjunct to a paid program.

Where are we media-wise, in 2006, if prime radio and TV time on high-profile stations is being sold to the highest bidder? We have long since become numb to the spectre of infomercials during off-hours, like late nights or on weekend afternoons. But in TV's most important, and radio's second most important, daypart?

No wonder we're ranting.

Those Funny Translators

As a part of our research for Ohio Media Watch, we dive into FCC public access records quite a bit. OK, so maybe not as much as our good friend Scott Fybush does, but we do check in from time to time. (For one, we're continuing to watch for the construction permit application for WJER-FM 101.7's move to North Canton.)

And while looking at some of this stuff, we occasionally run into applications for new construction permits for translators. Most of them are filed on behalf of religious broadcasters like California-based "K-Love" (Educational Media Foundation). At least one Akron translator is meant to repeat WOFN/88.7 Beach City, otherwise known as the Canton market outlet for the religious Oasis Network. That one's 9 watts at 102.5 FM from the Akron FM/TV "antenna farm" off Route 261 in Copley Township.

And then, there are two odd ones. Don't worry, we'll explain...

For example, why would Salem Cleveland CCM outlet WFHM/95.5 apply for a 250 translator on 95.7 FM in Akron, right next to its primary signal, located at that same antenna farm? "95.5 The Fish" has no problems reaching Akron.

And for that matter, why would Clear Channel top 40 outlet WAKS/96.5 "Kiss FM", licensed to Akron, need to plant a new 250 watt translator on 99.7 licensed to Canton, located at what appears to be the former WKDD/98.1 primary (and current auxiliary) stick near Louisville? We haven't driven down there for a while, but we don't seem to recall getting signal reception problems there on 96.5.

We told you there'd be an explanation.

Existing full-power broadcasters do this all the time. They're "protecting" their licensed signals from nearby low-power incursion. It basically takes no effort for Clear Channel, an established licensee, to apply for a translator on 99.7 in Canton - so no one else grabs it and gives the company's WGAR/99.5 reception fits in the Canton market. And ditto with Salem and the Akron 95.7 allocation.

The stations can "tie up" the frequency at very least for the long process it takes to apply for and get the CP, then for the three years they're allowed to take to construct the facility. We suspect in similar situations, where a station has a large secondary market a certain distance from the primary COL, there would be a lot of these.

We don't know if any of these "protection" applications have ever been built out...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Two Week Ending Items

ITEM 1: We're hearing rumblings, unconfirmed, that "The Iggy Show" is no longer heard nights on CBS Radio Cleveland alt-rocker WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock". Iggy's mug has been removed from the WXRK "Jox" page, and he's apparently returned the favor by removing station references on his MySpace account.

We don't know if it's permanent, but "The Bull Program" (that's "Bull", pictured at right) has been heard in 92.3's 7-midnight slot.

A birdie in the O&A thread above tells us that WXRK is up to 5th place afternoon drive in persons 18-34, but A) we do not have any idea which person posted that anonymously, so we can't verify that, and B) we don't know if that information covers O&A's first month back in afternoon drive on WXRK.

We're asking again for more detailed information, and please, identify yourselves to us so we have an idea of the accuracy of your information. OMW always respects the privacy of its sources, and we won't "give you up". E-Mail us via the "View my complete profile" link over to the left...

ITEM 2: Perhaps one of the most talented talk radio personalities in America will have his radio swan song tonight.

Premiere Radio host Phil Hendrie's last show will air tonight - locally he has been heard on Clear Channel talk WKBN/570 Youngstown. Hendrie has also aired on Clear Channel sports WSAI/1360 "Homer" in Cincinnati.

Much of Northeast Ohio is unfamiliar with Hendrie's radio work, as WKBN has been the only station that's ever carried his show here.

The brief version: Hendrie conducts on-air phone interviews with over-the-top "guests" with wild premises and beliefs..."guests" which solely exist in Hendrie's mind, and are voiced by the host himself.

The comedy comes from actual callers to the show, who take these people seriously and who are apparently not aware of the joke. As we've taken many, many calls from listeners to talk radio, we are not at all surprised that Hendrie's show has had "easy pickings" from people who take this stuff entirely too seriously.

Hendrie has dropped hints that he might end up on satellite radio at some point, but lately, it's been sounding more like he'll just not do radio altogether. His website will still be up, and listeners can sign up there for free E-Mail he might decide to do some more with that.

For those not within range of WKBN or WSAI, Hendrie also airs on XM Satellite Radio, and we wouldn't be surprised if the final show was made available for free at some point from his website. It offered Hendrie's retirement announcement as a free download.

(Note: How much of Hendrie's final show will actually be heard on WKBN tonight is up in the air. The regular time slot for his show has been 9-midnight, and tonight's Cleveland Indians game is likely to take at least the first hour and change of that slot...)

WTVN Sports Director Out

From the Land of the Buckeyes:

Columbus Dispatch TV/radio columnist Tim Feran reports that Clear Channel talk WTVN/610 sports director George Lehner is out after some 20 years at the Columbus station.

Sources tell Feran that it was a simple non-renewal of Lehner's contract, which will expire on July 1st. Assistant sports director Matt McCoy moves up to interim sports director in Lehner's absence.

From WTVN program director Bruce Collins: "I would personally like to thank George for his years of service to WTVN and wish him well in the future."

Lehner, who will be inducted into the Ohio Radio and Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame here in Akron, says he had a "really great time" at WTVN and loved working there, saying his 20 year run at the station was "very, very special". He notes that he has held other jobs...including press secretary to former Ohio governor James Rhodes. But he says broadcasting is his "first love"...

(NOTE: An apology for an earlier version of this item, where Lehner's name was mistyped. It must be Friday here at OMW!)

Some Early "Opie and Anthony" Ratings

Though we don't yet have numbers out of affiliate WXRK/92.3 in the Cleveland market, CBS has put out some early ratings numbers for morning duo Opie and Anthony in other markets.

And it's easy to see why CBS was quick to put the word out. O&A's May ratings in markets such as New York City (WFNY/92.3), Boston (WBCN/104.1) and Philadelphia (WYSP/94.1) scored solid gains over what was turned in by David Lee Roth in his last month, April. For more complete numbers, check out, and an article by Reuters' Sue Zeidler. (OMW isn't sure we're allowed to directly copy the actual numbers under Arbitron rules.)

Since DLR was basically getting beaten by anything more powerful than a travelers information station in his first month, it's no wonder CBS is crowing about their FM talk morning numbers going UP for a change. You don't take over morning drive radio in one month's trends, but it was good news for them.

We don't have a truck to hold all the caveats we have to give here, so just be aware that:

1) These ratings are being released by CBS Radio to the press.
2) They are just one set of monthly extrapolations out of rolling trend ratings. (That may not be such a bad thing, as we also got early trend numbers out of "Diamond Dave".)
3) The numbers in the Reuters article are 18-34 persons only (though that is a target demo for O&A), and
4) The FMQB numbers include one hour of non-O&A programming in each market, as the duo's CBS Radio show only lasts from 6-9 AM (Eastern).

We did note that some of Roth's numbers in April appear to be at least up some from his horrid January start - though we don't know how much of that was listeners hoping to hear him quit on the air. And the three markets in question, while also basically O&A's largest markets, were also among their most popular cities in the team's previous afternoon drive stint.

If we manage to get ahold of numbers for Cleveland, somehow, we'll let you know...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Big Ten Big Channel

Ohio State fans can go into overdrive thanks to a new TV channel starting next summer.

The college sports powerhouse conference Big Ten is the latest entrant into the Which Sports Organization Can Start Its Own Channel sweepstakes. "The Big Ten Channel" will be co-produced with FOX Sports, and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany tells the Associated Press that the 24 hour outlet will "dramatically increase" the conference's visibility. Delany says The Big Ten Channel will also let the various member schools spotlight not only sports, but other accomplishments.

The channel doesn't end the Big Ten's agreement with ABC/ fact, that contract has been extended another 10 years. The conference's channel will be able to pick from various events that are not televised by ABC, ESPN or CBS.

There is a direct local angle, according to the AP article found on today. The new ABC/ESPN pact will end "ESPN Plus" coverage of Big Ten events syndicated to over-air stations starting next year, including coverage of Ohio State basketball now seen on Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19 and on low-power combo WAOH-LP/29 - W35AX ("The CAT"). CBS network coverage of Buckeyes basketball will still air on WOIO...just the ESPN Plus syndicated games will end next year.

As for the channel, FOX Sports sister company DirecTV has already signed up for it...

One More Sign the Oldies Format is Dying

It wasn't that long ago that rock oldies, particularly songs from the 50's and 60's, was a mainstream, popular format in radio.

But faced with the realization that their listeners were rapidly aging out of the so-called "money demo", powerful FM oldies stations have had to make major adjustments to even survive.

Locally, it's often said that Clear Channel oldies WMJI/105.7 has still done well for two reasons - a gradual nudge of the music mix into the songs of 60's and 70's, but mostly due to the station's powerhouse morning icon, John Lanigan. Many local radio observers expect when Lanigan retires at some point down the road, WMJI's days as an oldies outlet may be history.

We've got another sign of The Imminent Doom of Oldies - Jim Zippo.

The name may be familiar to some Northeast Ohio listeners. Zippo was the program director of ABC Radio's 24/7 format "Pure Gold" (known on air as "Oldies Radio"), and thus, his "Zippo in the Morning" show on the network was heard locally on Wooster's WKVX/960...the AM sister of country WQKT/104.5. (WQKT/WKVX switched from ABC to Westwood One's similar formats a few years back, but Zippo had already left the building in Dallas.)

Zippo, usually regarded as one of the better satellite jocks, landed at Clear Channel Las Vegas oldies outlet KQOL/93.1 "Kool 93.1", which itself has also moved into the 60's and 70's music-wise.

He's no longer there, and a question on a local message board got us to searching for his current whereabouts...mornings/program director at another Clear Channel "Kool" oldies outlet, KPKY/94.9 "Kool 94.9" in Pocatello ID.


No offense if there's anyone reading from that part of the world, but how does a nationally heard morning host (even if he's on one of the 24/7 formats) end up doing a local morning show in a small Idaho city at a station known as the home of "Southeast Idaho's Superhits"?

Our guess - after Leaving Las Vegas (that'd be a good name for a movie), Zippo found the oldies radio pickings slim. Very slim. With many stations turning to the "adult hits" format known in incarnations as "JACK FM" and the like, that means less job opportunities for those who might fit in with that kind of anti-format...since most of those stations air only one voice, the snarky "station voice" known as Jack, or Bob, or whatever. The format has even supplanted traditional oldies in places like New York and Chicago.

There may be other factors that led "Zippo in the Morning" to small-city Idaho, such as lifestyle issues, but that's certainly got to be one of them...and we also wouldn't be surprised to see "Majic 105.7" dump the oldies whenever John Lanigan decides to hit the golf course...

Shop at Home Network Sold - WOAC/67 Not Included

As we mentioned yesterday, the folks at Jewelry Television have taken over the Shop at Home network...and the details are now official.

A press release says Jewelry Television is taking over a large number of Shop at Home assets, including the network's satellite equipment and website. Another release says Jewelry Television will operate Shop at Home on a "part-time basis", presumably in combination with their current branding. But the $17 million dollar deal, as expected, does not include SAH's owned-and-operated TV stations.

Here in Northeast Ohio, that means Cleveland market SAH O&O station WOAC/67 Canton is still on the sales block. Quoting the release: "Scripps has retained the services of a broker and is actively seeking a buyer for the stations." The list of broadcast outlets includes not only WOAC, but stations in Boston, San Francisco, Raleigh-Durham NC and Bridgeport CT.

We don't know who will eventually buy WOAC, but our suspicions from last night are confirmed in the press release: "In the meantime, as part of the transaction, the five broadcast television stations will air a combination of Shop At Home and Jewelry Television programming."

Considering that Scripps has no intention on keeping the stations, running the new SAH programming from Jewelry Television in the interim would certainly be the easiest programming route. And this news would presumably shoot down any rumors that the company would do anything with WOAC in tandem with sister station WEWS/5, Cleveland's ABC affiliate...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Random Quick Hits

Just some stuff floating around the OMW Brain (such as it is):

BERNIE, BERNIE: WTAM/1100 afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno has once again managed to make a segment on his show "the talk of the town". Last time, it was an interview with much maligned former Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell. Tuesday, it was an uninterrupted 30 minute phone call with a much more beloved former Browns figure, number 19 himself, Bernie Kosar.

We were about to direct you to WTAM's Triv website page to hear the interview, or to the show's podcast, but the audio apparently will not be posted online. A note on the podcast download entry from someone who we assume is Triv studio producer Marty Allen explains: "Bernie Kosar checks in to give you an exclusive on his possible divorce but because of pending litigation i can't include that interview in the hour." Sure enough, the automatic podcast download of Tuesday's hour 1 is just nine minutes long.

Too bad, as it was riveting radio, especially for those who remember Bernie's playing days. And other hours that ARE available feature Triv passionately defending the ex-Browns quarterback, with many listeners E-Mailing, wondering about Bernie's, umm, condition during his call on the show. "He has always talked like that!" shouted Triv in response to those listeners, noting that Kosar was out in public with a number of kids at Geauga Lake during the call.

Some of the clips made it to local TV news outlets, with video available on this WEWS/5 story on, and this story on WKYC/3's website...apparently, the lawyers haven't gotten to them. Our assumption - that Bernie's lawyers asked WTAM to not post the interview, and that Triv acceded to the request due to his friendship with Kosar...

MORE DOVER/NEW PHILLY MEDIA WOES: We already know that WJER-FM/101.7 is in its final months in the Tuscarawas Valley, destined for a spot alongside WKDD/98.1, WHLO/640 and WARF/1350 at the Clear Channel World Domination HQ/Southern Command on Freedom Avenue, with WJER's AM 1450 apparently staying put.

We did NOT know, however, that the Dover/New Philadelphia region has apparently lost another regular media information source.

The Times-Reporter has details on the recent shuttering of local TV programming on Adelphia cable channel 2, which for the past four years has been operated by Tarulli Video Productions...a private industrial video firm operated by former TV-2 worker Tim Tarulli. His company took over local origination back in 2002 when Adelphia shut down its own local production, and the four-year contract just expired.

Adelphia says it still hopes to show "some local events" on another channel, and points to some area high school football games already aired on WIVN-LP/29 (cable channel 99), the Newcomerstown-licensed simulcaster of Canton's WIVM-LP/52. Cable 2's local feed has been replaced by WKYC/3's "NBC Weather Plus"...

GRAPHIC WORDS: While we're electronically in the Dover/New Philly area, OMW hears some folks have complained about WJER's live coverage of a local trial's sentencing phase, which we noted in an earlier item. The complaints stem from some heated in-courtroom language...which the station is apparently airing uncensored.

The coverage of the sentencing of Amanda Bowditch apparently has been heard not only on WJER's AM 1450 (and on the Internet), but on FM was only on the AM/Internet side when we checked in yesterday...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

20 Years of TV Fright

Last week, local TV movie host Keven Scarpino - otherwise known as the spooky looking "Son of Ghoul" - celebrated his 20th year on the local airwaves. "Son of Ghoul" has been planted for roughly half of that time on WNIR/100.1-owned low-power combo WAOH-LP/29 - W35AX, otherwise known as "The CAT".

That placement has meant longevity for the show, but less visibility...due to the small range of the Akron and Cleveland based signals - actually based in Portage County's Brimfield Township and in the Cleveland suburb of Parma - and spotty local cable TV presence. Though WAOH has been on Time Warner Cable's Akron system for some time, the Cleveland-based Adelphia system only carries it in some service areas - not including the largest part of the system.

Scarpino tells the Beacon Journal's R.D. Heldenfels that despite once being sued by original "Ghoul" Ron Sweed, he considers his act more of a homage to the man both men descend from in the Northeast Ohio Late Night Movie Host pantheon... the late Ernie Anderson, who started his long TV career as "Ghoulardi" on WJW/8. A more direct descendent in the lineage, WJW's "Big Chuck" Schodowski, actually worked directly with Anderson, and still works with "Lil John" Rinaldi on the station.

Oddly enough, Scarpino's old station is once again going through changes. WOAC/67's owner, Scripps' Shop at Home TV, is shutting down nationwide on Thursday. A Knoxville TN-based outlet, Jewelry Television, is reportedly buying many of the network's assets, but not the SAH over-air TV stations like the Canton-licensed WOAC.

There's no word yet on what programming Channel 67 will feature when the shopping network shuts down. The Scripps ownership makes WOAC a corporate sibling of Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5, but there's no indication that there will be any direct connection between the two outlets... and there never has been...

UPDATE 1:16 AM 6/21/06 - An OMW reader tips us off to the presence of the aforementioned Jewelry Television on the Shop at Home feed, starting just a few minutes ago (which is midnight Central time - both operations are based in that time zone). A scroll that's been running on the network says "the new Shop at Home returns Friday at 12:00 AM CT". The SAH website is down for "technical upgrades and enhancements".

Jewelry Television is reportedly buying the SAH satellite uplink facilities, among other things, which would likely explain the change this morning. As far as we know, they're not taking over the over-air stations.

We'd expect the Jewelry Television folks to launch a rebranded Shop at Home Friday, and that programming to continue to run on WOAC and the other over-air stations until a new buyer takes the broadcast stations over...

He's Gotta Be Free

The history of talk radio in the Mahoning Valley has been somewhat colorful, and usually somewhat controversial.

Youngstown/Warren's fixation with local talk radio started with the long-time dominance of Dan Ryan, first on WBBW/1240 and later as a fixture on WKBN/570. Warren talk station WOKG/1570 "Talk 1570" burned to the ground in 1990, in an arson-caused fire with controversy swirling around its politically-charged local talk programming.

And then, there's Louie Free.

Free made a name for himself going after former Valley congressman Jim Traficant, a move that got you some pretty powerful enemies back in the day. It also got him some big publicity, as even ABC-TV's "Nightline" came to Youngstown to town to videotape his show, then on WASN/1330.

Free bounced around just about every small Youngstown area AM station that would take his money. He was heard on stations like WKTX/830 Cortland, WWOW/1360 up in Conneaut, and even the aforementioned 1570 AM in Warren - at the time, a religious outlet long removed from its local talk past.

He didn't last long at most of the stations, as owners shied away from controversy, and in some cases, away from his attacks on Traficant. The occasional forays into Mahoning Valley politics from a small station outside the Valley in Conneaut were particularly odd.

As far as the disposition of the feud, you know the rest of the story, as the saying goes. Traficant was convicted of bribery and racketeering by a federal jury, and was sent away to a Pennsylvania prison. He sits today in a federal medical facility in New York State.

What about Louie Free?

He eventually landed in mornings (8 AM-12 Noon) on WASN, the calls now planted on 1500 AM - the former WGFT calls were swapped to 1330 in Campbell by then-owner Stop 26 Riverbend. He's the only English-language show on a station that otherwise runs a Spanish-language music format.

And somewhere in the past month or two, he landed a big cross-promotion deal with the website of the area's largest daily newspaper, the Youngstown Vindicator. Free's show, in addition to its on-air spot on 1500 AM, is streamed on the Internet from his new Vindicator-hosted site - - which also contains a blog and his guest schedule.

It's odd that today's emphasis on new technology has brought the Mahoning Valley's biggest newspaper, the venerable Vindicator, together with a controversial host like Louie Free...who has generally existed outside the Youngstown market media mainstream.

And the Vindicator gets news material out of the show, as well. When a particularly newsworthy local guest says something on Free's show, the Vindicator quotes it in news stories.

Only in Youngstown, we guess.

You'll note that Free plies his trade - presumably as a brokered host - on a station that is a part of the Stop 26 Riverbend bankruptcy proceeding. The station's being managed by a bankruptcy court receiver on behalf of incoming owner Bernard Radio. There's no indication if Bernard will change WASN's programming, or if they'll keep Free's show. But he's certainly used to finding new radio homes...

A Couple of WLW Items

Though it's mostly out of our coverage area, we do occasionally check in with news about Cincinnati, and particularly Clear Channel news/talk powerhouse WLW/700. A couple of items about WLW from the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Kiesewetter:

NEWS SWITCH: As it turns out, WLW's previously announced news/weather/promotion partnership switch from Clear Channel sister CBS affiliate WKRC/12 to NBC affiliate WLWT/5 will happen sooner than announced. It'll likely be not that long after next Monday, depending on technical considerations.

Monday, Kiesewetter tells us in his TV/Radio blog, the national news radio network affiliations will go shuffling among Clear Channel's three Cincinnati talk stations...much like what happened here in Northeast Ohio a few months ago when ABC and CBS saw affiliation changes, and FOX News Radio debuted.

WLW, as always the kingpin in the market, will dump FOX News Radio in favor of ABC News Radio. WLW originally made the switch to FNR as part of Clear Channel's long-term multi-station deal with FOX's new radio news division.

FOX News Radio will not have to look far for a home, though, as it will comfortably fit on the airwaves of CC's conservative talk station in the Cincinnati market, WKRC/550.

That will likely shuffle WKRC's CBS News Radio affiliation off to the third talker in the Clear Channel Cincinnati chain, liberal talk WCKY/1530.

When you look at the lineup after this game of Musical News Radio Network Chairs, it makes sense ideologically and otherwise.

Conservatives glued to WKRC hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity will welcome a radio network linked with what's probably their favorite cable TV news network, FOX News Channel (where Hannity works).

Liberals who listen to Jerry Springer and Al Franken will find little fault with CBS, and the generally straight-ahead style and strong depth of ABC's news offerings will find a comfortable home returning to the most news-oriented station of the three, WLW "The Big One".

To tell you how powerful a force WLW is in the Cincinnati media market, Kiesewetter notes that the upcoming WLW partnership is thrilling the folks at new partner WLWT/5...the NBC affiliate apparently believes it'll help juice up their ratings.

PODCASTING, CINCY STYLE: Kiesewetter also notices the podcasting of WLW content, including full shows from hosts Mike McConnell and Bill Cunningham. The podcasts are quite popular, with nearly 15,000 downloads a week...earning the Cincinnati news/talker a top-5 ranking in Clear Channel's national list of podcasting stations.

Here in Cleveland, sister CC talker WTAM/1100 offers full shows from afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno, though we don't know how popular Triv is by comparison...

Responding to Triv

After all the rumors swirling about concerning the future of WTAM/1100 afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno, the host himself finally weighed in when it was safe - after sister rocker WMMS/100.7 announced they were bringing in Premiere's "Bob and Tom" to replace their local morning show.

Evidently, the "Triv to WMMS" chatter extended far beyond your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

We know for sure it made it to print, as a recent Cleveland Free Times column by former WMMS programmer John Gorman brought up the speculation we kicked around earlier, back in May.

Gorman's logic probably seems familiar to our regular readers:

Trivisonno's move-to-morning rumors have been armchair quarterback fodder for years. Now there appears to be valid research being done by Clear Channel on such a move.

WTAM wouldn't uproot current morning driver Bill Wills — meaning that Triv would move to another Clear Channel station. Which one? Here's a hint: Can you name who's doing mornings on WMMS?

It's not the first time Gorman has bit on such speculation - he was riding the train right along with us back when there was talk about Salem sports WKNR/850 dumping the format, and Clear Channel possibly mounting an FM sports or talk station. Those rumors got about as far as the "Triv to WMMS mornings" rumors.

As for Triv, here's some transcribed quotes from his show Monday afternoon:

You know how much pressure (the WMMS Bob & Tom announcement) takes off of me? I must have had 80 thousand people, including Folgers in the afternoon over there on 'MMS, OK...(Alison: "Maxwell")...everyone in the city thought I was going to mornings on 'MMS...

Now all the geniuses on the chat rooms on the computers and everyone around the building and everywhere else I go can finally believe that I'm not going to mornings on WMMS because they put in Frank and Tom or something over there.

That MMS morning thing made my life a complete nightmare. They did all this research, they called people in Cleveland...(voice) "I have a question to ask you, would you listen to Mike Trivisonno in the morning?" and they think I'm not gonna find out about it. Cleveland's a small little city, you call 800 people or whatever it is, it gets around.

Everybody in the world talks to me about going to mornings on ' know if I was going to mornings anywhere it'd be on 'NCX, not 'MMS...

Speaking only for "the geniuses in the chat rooms on the computers" (we know Triv's staff is aware of OMW):

We took great pains to let you know that we had no even semi-confirmed information that Mike Trivisonno was going to morning drive on WMMS. Or, that his show was even moving at all, anywhere.

We put together a few easily connected dots - like John Gorman did above - based upon those research calls Triv talked about for two days. We knew that "Mike Trivisonno in mornings", the subject of those calls, would not happen on his current station for many reasons. We also suspected - as it turned out correctly - that the WMMS morning show at the time was not long for the airwaves.

Read that line again from Monday's show about the calls. It sounds to us like Triv was well aware of the nature of the callout research, even if it was after he was made aware of the calls by listeners.

Our general take on this? Purely speculating here on our own, with absolutely no facts to back it up:

1) Clear Channel had, at the proper levels, made the decision to end the local WMMS morning show with Sean, Hunter, Cristi, Phil, Steve, Julie, Dave and John Boy. (OK, again, only kidding about anything after "Cristi.")

2) In the process of figuring out what to replace it with, the idea of Triv moving to mornings was "an option"..."on the table" along with other possiblities, like what turned out to be the eventual decision to bring in the "Bob and Tom" show.

3) Before Clear Channel makes such a move, it has to get an idea how it would go over with the listening public. Since Mike Trivisonno is an established name in a long-time daypart on one station, they have to figure out if his listeners would move to morning drive (and to WMMS). Thus, the calls.

4) Simultaneously with the above, Clear Channel executives explore other options, like mounting the new local WMMS morning show in the past 12 years with other talent, or going the syndicated route. (Our guess - Bob and Tom were the only "solid" possibility for that route. We can't see a "John Boy & Billy" or one of the other syndicated rock morning shows working here.)

5) Either the research comes back negative - people wouldn't move to 'MMS mornings to hear Triv - or they just decide it's not worth tearing up WTAM afternoons and what's been built in that time slot and on that station. Or, they decide going with "Bob and Tom" is what makes the most sense, and outweighs any thought of moving Triv or doing something else local.

6) On Friday, June 16th, that decision becomes public.

This timeline is made up entirely in our heads, and is based on no information from Oak Tree or anywhere else. It's basically just a semi-educated guess on our part. It just makes sense to us that this is how it could have came down, given the information we already DO know.

Or, if you really want to wonder - was it WMMS/Clear Channel doing the research, or was it CBS and WNCX? Triv hints at it in the very last line of his comments reprinted above, though his specific line about the callout research may contradict that. We're really not reading much into either.

No matter what, it's a moot point. Bob & Tom are on WMMS starting Monday, and Triv is not moving from his WTAM afternoon perch. But, we had to close the book on it...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Brief WJER Folo

Here's a pretty visible sign that Dover/New Philadelphia station WJER's AM side is severing itself from the soon-to-move FM side...this new logo on the station's website only references AM 1450.

OMW still hasn't spotted a construction permit application in the FCC database for 101.7's move to North Canton, with about three weeks to go before the deadline to file for the new facilities.

There's certainly a possibility that the application has been filed by Clear Channel, but hasn't hit the FCC online database for some reason. We've seen that before. But there IS a new WJER-related application - a small one for the AM station, asking for the ability to take direct measurements. Those who know engineering better than we do could tell us if there's any significance to this.

And the Tuscarawas Valley station says "goodbye" on its website to long-time program director and midday personality Steve Kelly, who starts in afternoon drive on Columbus AC station WSNY/94.7 "Sunny 95" a week from today.

WJER says that the "Classic Canteen" noon to 2 PM request show moves to AM 1450's Anita Edwards and her midday show...which is now being simulcast on 1450 and 101.7. For now, of course...until 101.7 becomes the latest Canton(/Akron) FM...

And something else we noticed tonight on the WJER website - the station plans a live broadcast of a local trial's sentencing hearing on Tuesday:

Join WJER AM 1450 Tuesday as we bring you live coverage of the sentencing hearing for Amanda Bowditch convicted in the beating death of Justin Barnard of New Philadelphia. Her sentencing hearing begins at noon.

Family and friends of the victim are expected to address Bowditch over the September murder in New Philadelphia.

The station will also broadcast the coverage on a live Internet feed, the same feed that's usually only turned on for local sports coverage...

Two Newspaper Items

DYER'S BLINK ADS PIECE: You know, OMW misses the days when the Akron Beacon Journal had a regular local radio/TV columnist. The paper has occasionally taken a stab at it, with brief efforts by Denise Grollmus (don't get us started, we've been rather harsh on her in our past) and Dan Kadar, a part-timer out of the University of Akron's "Buchtelite" who still writes other entertainment articles.

But for our money, the last "real" local radio columnist at the Beacon was the inimitable Bob Dyer. Dyer's been doing the transportation-related "Dyer Streets" column for some time now, but he was best known in our eyes doing the local media beat.

He visits that realm again briefly with an article in today's Beacon, on Clear Channel's announced plan to air one-second advertisements. You know, the short blips that will run audio like the Intel chime, or other brief audio that's supposed to remind you of an iconic advertiser.

Dyer talks to local radio executives like Rubber City Radio sales boss Mark Biviano, and veteran broadcaster Nick Anthony, that company's operations chief.

(Forgive us if the deep, booming voice of former WHLO/640 general manager Allen Saunders still runs through our heads when Nick's name is mentioned... "And here's the man who makes that difference...Nick Anthony!" Though we remember that former WHLO night/weekend host Ron Ver[e]b used the instrumental riff from Andy Williams' "MacArthur Park" for his theme, we've lost memory of Nick's theme song during the first WHLO talk incarnation...)

Anyway, back to 2006 - so far, none of the local Clear Channel outlets are selling the so-called "blink" ads, though 5 second ads are sold. We'll assume that refers to the industry standard news/traffic/weather sponsor billboards.

Unlike some who followed him on the ABJ radio beat (ahem, we're really trying to be nice), Dyer does "get" local radio. The article's not without errors, but we're not blaming him - we're pretty sure he is aware that Clear Channel talk WTAM is on 1100 AM, not "1100 FM". And he refers to CBS Radio by its old name, Infinity. But unlike some, oh, you know, Dyer doesn't believe radio stations actually physically move to their suburban/rimshot license cities. Sorry, we couldn't resist...

DISSECTING ROGER: Quite frankly, there's not much actual news in the two most recent efforts by Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Roger Brown.

In today's official Monday Sports Media Column, Brown calls the first season effort by Indians TV network SportsTime Ohio "mediocre", running down a list of technical and production problems. For his part, STO boss Jim Liberatore gives his own network a "C-plus, B-minus", and notes that it didn't even exist earlier this year. He says the network has played it safe technically since it's still new, and has held back on some telecast wizardry.

The only "newsie" item about STO was actually in Brown's Sunday column, where he notes that non-Indians-game regular programming promised by July may not show up until August (optimistically), or perhaps until the end of the season. (Insert your own Indians poor play joke here.) This being Roger Brown, we're almost tempted to drop a note to Jim Liberatore asking him for the real scoop.

And this being Roger Brown, the sports media column is almost looking like the real estate listings. Here's your list of new sports-related homebuyers Brown lists in the past two columns: Cleveland State basketball coach Gary Waters, Browns backup quarterback Ken Dorsey and Indians shortstop Jhonny Peralta, with Browns defensive back Sean Jones on the home sellers list.

Gee, sports millionaires buy and sell homes, who'da thunk it? We hear a rumor that Cavaliers superstar LeBron James owns a multi-million dollar home in Bath Township... we presume Brown published the sale price when he purchased it.

Brown also rips WTAM/1100 sports voices Mike Trivisonno and Kevin Keane for defending the offloading of Indians stars who go elsewhere to much success - in other shocking news, there's a thunderstorm in Cleveland in mid-June - and says WKNR/850's resident Steelers fan Kenny Roda gave detractors "needless ammo" by initially downplaying the motorcycle accident involving the Pittsburgh star quarterback...