Over time here at OMW, we throw out so many items of rumor, speculation and other unverified rumblings that they pile up...and we occasionally have to go through them and update them. This is one of those times.
NO TRIV MOVE YET: At your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), we spent a lot of time recently trying to dissect on-air messages coming out of the motormouth of WTAM/1100 afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno. Is he moving to mornings? Is he going to be on another local Clear Channel station, perhaps legendary rocker WMMS/100.7?
While it was seemingly clear that Triv wanted to put that message out there - why else would he spend parts of two shows talking about marketing calls listeners supposedly have gotten, asking them if they'd listen to Triv in mornings? - we haven't heard literally anything since.
Maybe he's holding out for free breakfast service in morning drive? Who knows.
We remind folks that we never confirmed these rumors, and that they were (and are) speculation at least partially based on Triv's own ramblings...and some semi-educated guesses on the state of the Cleveland market. For now, Triv still holds forth weekdays from 3 to approximately 6:30 PM on WTAM, and we haven't heard anything recently that says he's changing time slots.
We recently mentioned rumblings of "a change" being widely talked about at the Clear Channel World Domination HQ on Oak Tree, but we haven't been able to connect these dots to Triv or anyone else...for now...
FM TALK IN CLEVELAND: We've passed along these rumors, but have mostly been downplaying them in recent months. To wit: supposedly either CBS Radio or Clear Channel has a plan to flip an FM station to talk on at least the back burner, and it may or may not happen depending on competitive concerns.
Too many folks have connected this nagging rumor with the one above. We remind folks that if Triv does indeed jump from his comfortable afternoon drive perch on WTAM to mornings at, say, WMMS, it would not necessarily portend a shift to FM talk for the long-time rocker. (Remember the LAST time they tinkered with 'MMS?) 100.7 could easily stay with its rock format after morning drive.
Indeed, there's a camp that says The Buzzard would be better off NOT flipping to FM talk or sports talk, since competing CBS Radio WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock" has added Opie and Anthony's all-talk show for afternoon drive, to complement former in-house talk morning show "Rover's Morning Glory". If you're looking for an FM talker in Cleveland, "K-Rock" is already halfway there.
And who knows if that'll continue even more? Rock formats have been suffering nationwide for the past couple of years. Legendary rockers or alt-rockers in some other markets (i.e. Houston, Washington DC) have been converted to Spanish-language stations.
When it comes to rock's national radio decline, Cleveland likely gets an exemption, along with other Midwest "rust belt" markets like Milwaukee. But if O&A prove successful for WXRK, it wouldn't be a stretch to see it slowly nudge into a "Free FM" talker with a midday talk show at some point. We don't see any evidence that it's happening, but the station could easily do that and still run alt-rock on nights and weekends.
To us, this is separate from what we see as an eventuality somewhat down the road - the move of traditional AM news/talkers to the FM band. Though stations are certainly doing that in other markets, it'll still take time before it becomes somewhat more common.
KISS PD-LESS: Clear Channel Cleveland market top 40 outlet WAKS/96.5 "Kiss FM" is without a permanent programmer, as PD Dan Mason has decamped to his new role as programmer at Miami top 40 giant WHYI "Y100".
We haven't heard any rumblings about who might replace Mason on a permanent basis. That lack of buzz leads us to believe that current interim PD Kasper, "Kiss'" long-time APD/MD/afternoon drive star, has the inside track to strip the "interim" off his new title.
It'd certainly make sense to us. Oak Tree seems happy with the performance Mason turned in, converting a class A Lorain-licensed rimshot into a powerful, full-market signal with a larger-than-life footprint. (Those who wondered long ago what Akron-licensed 96.5 would do if marketed as a Cleveland signal - now, we know. But a nudge up into the Brecksville area of the Cleveland tower farm helped a little as well.)
By all accounts, Kasper was right alongside Mason in much of "Kiss"' successful run. Our feeling - that anyone coming in to try to get his job will have to convince CC Cleveland that they'd do better than Kasper.
Kasper is, of course, a longtime OMW reader, so he has that "OMW Jungle Karma" (we're sorry, Jim Rome, we couldn't resist!). But since getting the interim PD nod, we haven't heard pip one out of him...he's probably too busy, of course, and would probably be modest about much of the above. But it's what we're hearing out of others, as well...they also tell us that Kasper would appear to have the inside track...
NO JACK: Not one Cleveland CBS Radio FM outlet has even sniffed at the "JACK FM" variety hits format, let alone adopted it. This, despite a couple of items in Radio Business Report a few months ago that it was imminent locally.
The talk seems rather quaint as we sit here in June 2006. CBS has had some success with "JACK", most notably in Los Angeles...where the "JACK" outlet is - last we checked - one of the market's highest-rated music stations. But the results have not been as shiny in markets like New York or Chicago, and we repeat what we've always said - why in the world would the company blow up a signal for this in the Cleveland market, with a quartet of successful FM stations?
Despite still having a "director of JACK programming", CBS seems to have slowed down that speeding train, and as far as we know, hasn't made a flip to that format since the New York/Chicago moves. Is "JACK" today's "Jammin' Oldies"?
(Disclosure: We happen to know some of the folks responsible for not only the origination of "JACK", but also a new push to revamp the old "Jammin' Oldies" format. We think they're talented as heck. The vagaries of the format's performance on over-air radio, and its execution by major broadcasters, are another matter.)
NEW SPORTS BLOOD: We also haven't heard anything of rumors first discussed in Roger Brown's sports media column in the Plain Dealer - a move by radio group owner Craig Karmazin to buy a sports talk radio station in the Cleveland market, either existing Salem sports WKNR/850, or a purchase and format conversion of Radio Disney's Cleveland outlet, WWMK/1260. Karmazin owns Milwaukee's "ESPN 1510 Days, 1290 Nights" (WAUK/1510 Waukesha WI, with an LMA of nights at WMCS/1290 Milwaukee), and also an FM sports outlet in nearby Madison WI.
Pardon us, while we bring out the Official OMW Grain of Salt, which is always nearby when we discuss items in "Brown's Town".
We find it significant that the item only surfaced once in Brown's column. Usually, he hits such rumors frequently...remember when he wrote at least four items about former Cleveland radio execs looking to buy WKNR from Salem? One of those execs, Walt Tiburski, is now comfortably in Florida...as top manager of a Renda Broadcasting cluster there.
We'll file this one in the "if we hear anything more, maybe we'll be less skeptical" column...