As regular OMW readers know, we've been diligently tracking the upcoming move of WJER-FM 101.7 in Dover/New Philadelphia, which has been owned by Clear Channel for some time in preparation for a nudge north into the Canton market.
Earlier this week, we reported the move of WJER veteran Steve Kelly to afternoon drive on Columbus AC WSNY/94.7 "Sunny 94.5". And now, some more pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together, and we're even finding out some things by accident.
FIRST PIECE: On a drive up I-77 north from Belden Village Mall, we couldn't help but notice a crane out back of the Clear Channel World Domination HQ (Southern Command) on Freedom Avenue, roughly by the station's tall STL antenna tower. We were driving too fast to make out what was going on behind the building, so we ran by there earlier this evening.
(EDITED 6/15/06 7:50 PM: We have cleared up this part of the earlier item here, in this update above. To save space, we have removed our long, convoluted explanation about why a south-facing STL antenna that isn't there yet would be pointing south. See the above update for the real story.)
SECOND PIECE: We checked in with a regular OMW source in the Tuscarawas Valley, who tells us that advertisers being sold high school football packages from WJER this fall are being told that they will be only be able to advertise on AM 1450 this season.
THIRD PIECE: Clear Channel Akron/Canton has put up what appears to be an all-encompassing Help Wanted ad - spotted in the AllAccess "Job Market" section. To us, it sounds like they're, well, trying to staff an entire radio station:
Clear Channel Radio of Akron/Canton is currently accepting resumes from dynamic individuals for future growth. These are not immediate openings. Positions include: on air talent both full and part time, off air part time board operators, part time street team members, news anchors/reporters, promotions and marketing managers/directors, Commercial production and station imaging directors, and sales account representatives.
Please send materials to: Clear Channel Radio, 7755 Freedom Avenue, NW. North Canton, Ohio 44720. Attention: HR Director. No emails or phone calls please.
Clear Channel Radio Akron/Canton is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
We could be wrong about this, and it could just be one of those "catch-all" ads radio stations occasionally put out, but...we're guessing the WJER relocation is involved.
We continue to check the FCC's website, and have not seen any application from Clear Channel for a construction permit for the new 101.7/North Canton facilities.
But one is likely soon, as there is about a month remaining for the company to file - the window for the filing, after the approval of a North Canton community of license, was 90 days. While Clear Channel can't begin to build out the new WJER-FM facility itself until a construction permit is approved, they can certainly make preparations back at the studio complex.
Adding together the above activity, it appears likely to us that by somewhere early in the high school football season, WJER-FM will be aiming itself at its new Canton (and for that matter, Akron) audience, and AM 1450 may not be making the trip north with 101.7.
At this point, we don't know if former owner Gary Petricola will buy back WJER's AM side, but even if he didn't, it sounds like he could continue to run it even under the existing reverse LMA with Clear Channel...while WJER-FM heads north under that company's direction. We've said about a dozen times now that we don't see Freedom Avenue having much interest in a small AM with a signal that can't even reach Canton.
We're keeping an eye on this, and hope to have more details soon...