Monday, July 31, 2006

Two New HD2s

CBS Radio has launched HD2 channels on two of its digital signals in Cleveland. OMW hears the switch was flipped earlier today.

Alt-rock/talk WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock" goes back to its format past for the future on its HD2 channel. We're told the secondary format is similar to how "Xtreme Radio" sounded before the recent changes in the music mix on 92.3, with more "harder" alt-rock cuts.

(No, they won't air "harder" versions of Rover or O&A's shows on the HD2 channel. Yes, that was our attempt at humor.)

Across the hall in the CBS Radio compound, classic rock WNCX/98.5 is airing an "Hispanic CHR" format on its HD2 channel.

We've talked about this before, as CBS announced its HD2 formats some time ago, but the formats on 92.3 and 98.5 are officially up and running. Well, for those who've bought an HD Radio receiver, which we do not have here in the palatial OMW compound...

The CBS Radio HD2 stations join Clear Channel's two HD2 outlets as options for Cleveland HD Radio listeners - the "new hit music" format on the digital side of top 40 WAKS/96.5, and the "Lake" AAA format on hot AC WMVX/106.5's digital signal...

BREAKING NEWS: Adelphia Sale Closes

Reuters and other news wires report tonight that the $17 billion acquisition of Adelphia's assets by Time Warner and Comcast has been completed.

That paves the way for Time Warner to take over the Cleveland-based Adelphia system effective at midnight tonight. Along with the area's Adelphia customers, Time Warner also takes in Comcast systems in the Cleveland market in a complicated system swap with that operator. In turn, Comcast takes over some Time Warner systems in other markets.

We can't speak for Comcast, since the palatial OMW World Headquarters in northwest Akron is on the Adelphia side.

But Adelphia's been running what presumably is the last edition (under that title, at least) of "Ask Adelphia", its local questions-and-answers show on cable channel 15. We missed most of it, but this month's edition concentrates on the merger, with an assurance that not much will change when TWC takes over tomorrow.

One thing that does appear likely to change is the presence of NFL Network on the cable lineup. Time Warner has given prior notice that it could drop the NFL-run cable channel when it takes over the new systems, and that hasn't gone unnoticed by the folks at the network.

Not only has NFL Network been running an advertising blitz aimed at Time Warner's non-carriage of the channel, it's running a regular crawl tonight telling TWC customers that the channel could go away at midnight, and asking them to call an NFL Network toll-free line to register their complaints.

Other channels could go away for ex-Adelphia and ex-Comcast customers locally as well, as ESPNU and the HD version of ESPN2 are reportedly on the "we don't have the rights" chopping block.

But other channels could be new to people formerly on those systems, including the HD version of TNT and the HD feed of local UPN -> My Network TV outlet WUAB/43 "My 43"...

Waiting for the News

OMW is still waiting for what's expected to be a major piece of radio-related news out of Canton, as we reported on Friday. Expect to read more about it in the next day or so...

And in an entirely unrelated item, we're also getting rumors regarding new developments in an ongoing story we've been covering here on your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm). We understand that news should also be coming over the OMW transom in the next day or so...

UPDATED: Rover Loses His New Home Doghouse, Heads Back to Cleveland

Chicago Sun-Times media columnist Robert Feder is reporting that formerly Cleveland-based morning host Shane "Rover" French is losing his slot on his flagship station, CBS Radio talk WCKG/105.9 Chicago "Free FM".

UPDATE: Billboard Radio Monitor confirms that Rover and his crew will indeed be headed back to Cleveland, and will once again be based at CBS Radio alt-rock/talk WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock". Updated quotes from Rover, and from WXRK management, are below.

Feder reports that newly re-crowned CBS Radio bad boys Opie & Anthony will take the morning slot at the station where Rover has been doing his syndicated morning show since early January. AllAccess reports that the change starts tomorrow morning, with O&A also netting a new clearance at another CBS "Free FM" talker, KIFR/106.9 San Francisco.

French will continue doing "Rover's Morning Glory" on his other current affiliates.

In Cleveland, WXRK VP/GM Tom Herschel is about as close to jumping for joy as you can get in print, telling the Billboard Radio Monitor folks:

"We're excited to have Rover and his crew back in the building. His audience in Cleveland has been incredibly loyal and has supported his show since he first went on the air almost five years ago. I couldn't be happier about their return."

And no wonder. Sources tell OMW that Rover continues to do well in Cleveland, and a return to the former show mothership can only help.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Julie Washington covers Rover's move back to Cleveland, and says the show will continue to air from a Chicago studio for "the next few weeks", with a return to Cleveland expected in mid-August. Washington says Rover's cast is expected to come to Cleveland intact.

In addition to talking to Washington, the returned WXRK morning doggie himself dishes quote to Radio and Records Online about his move back to Cleveland, and the demise of the show in Chicago. Rover says "K-Rock" a "great home base for the show":

"We have a great working relationship with management there — they really understand the show. We've enjoyed our time in Chicago, but the station just wasn't a good fit for us. That's not an indictment against them, it's just that they're skewed to a much older audience than what we target. We were also concerned that they wanted to focus exclusively on Chicago, which was detrimental to our affiliates. It was a mutual decision, and there is no ill-will between us whatsoever."

Back in Chicago, Feder calls "Rover's Morning Glory" "one of the biggest bombs in Chicago radio history", and notes the show's "microscopic ratings" helped WCKG to finish "dead last" among every major Chicago station.

Of course, Feder hasn't been a fan of Mr. French and company since day one... when he listed just about every out-of-work Chicago radio personality he felt would be a better fit to replace Howard Stern on WCKG.

And though he's been harsh on Rover and the gang, he had a point in that Chicago seems to nearly violently reject any personality that has no local ties or background.

Being born and spending his very early years in Chicagoland wasn't enough for Shane French... the market's listeners reject "imported" talent, and Rover had no on-air history in the market. Embracing the market, by doing such things as putting on a Chicago Cubs baseball cap (see above), didn't overcome that at all.

If he'd have come in and worked his way up on Chicago radio, it may - or may not - have been a different story.

For what it's worth, Chicago wasn't Stern's strongest market...his show did OK there, but it wasn't dominant like it was in New York or Los Angeles. For that matter, O&A are also imports...from the same New York studio which once was Stern's home.

We're not saying Rover would have owned the market if he had long-time Chicago radio history...that just didn't help his cause.

As if losing the Windy City to O&A isn't bad enough, Rover will have to endure listening to incessant promos for the CBS/XM duo on his once and future flagship station.

"K-Rock", of course, airs O&A in afternoon drive, and is bringing the duo to town September 23rd at the Tower City Ampitheatre...

McConnell's Syndication

An update on the syndication effort of WLW/700 Cincinnati midday host Mike McConnell, which starts today:

McConnell tells Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio columnist John Kiesewetter that his show started airing today on "a handful of stations", though none of them are listed. He says a month or two down the road, that affiliate list could be "significantly higher".

The veteran WLW midday talker (pictured here in an Enquirer file photo) says the syndicated version of the show can run something different - like pre-taped interviews - if there is local breaking news on WLW. But even McConnell admits that if there's a huge local breaking news event in Cincinnati, the station will have to tap a local host to cover his program on WLW.

He says his existing program won't be radically changed for WLW listeners, noting that he hasn't focused more than 25 percent of the time on local topics in some time.

McConnell tells Kiesewetter that his goal in this is "to win", and thinks it'll take him about two years to be atop the list of syndicated hosts in the mid-morning slot. He's not fazed at all by competition including Premiere/Clear Channel stablemate Glenn Beck, former Premiere host Dr. Laura (often aired in the 9-noon ET slot in the Eastern time zone), or TRN's Laura Ingraham.

Unlike most new syndicated hosts, McConnell has a track record nationally. His Premiere-syndicated "Weekend with Mike McConnell" airs on 120 stations nationwide, not all of them owned by Premiere and WLW parent Clear Channel. And his regular WLW-based midday show has aired nationally for the past four months via WLW's slot on XM Satellite Radio channel 173...

Casey's Back

We'd heard about this, and have confirmed it from the WTAM/1100 website.

Veteran sports voice Casey Coleman returns to the WTAM morning show that bears his name tomorrow, August 1st.

"Wills and Coleman" producer "Scooter" posts the word officially on his show recap page. We hear that Casey was on with substitute host Brad Sussman this morning to announce his return.

The "Casey Update" page on says Coleman has been getting "plenty of exercise" and walks three miles a day...hoping to return to the Browns Radio Network sideline reporting job this year.

Here at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), we don't even get up to three miles a day in our walk... and we don't have pancreatic cancer!

Casey's also apparently a regular visitor to the Browns training camp, which started last week.

We are continually inspired by his dedication, and his will to continue enjoying both his life and his work in the face of a terminal cancer diagnosis. If there's justice in this world, Casey will only leave this earth after the Browns win the Super Bowl next February. Or, the following year. get the idea.

OK, so maybe some miracles are too much to ask for...but we'd surely enjoy that...

Loose Ends

A couple or three things to follow up on:

NO MUDD, YET: A quick check of our regular morning drive recording of WNCX/98.5 reveals what sounds like a jock-less morning show today on the CBS Radio Cleveland classic rocker.

But the station is now promoting the start of the new morning show "later this week", which would seem to fit what we've been hearing about the show OMW reported will be fronted by the former WWWM/"M105" personality once known as "The Mudd".

A helpful message board type pointed us to his "440Satisfaction" entry, which reveals that "Mudd" is better known radio-name-wise as Wynn Richards. If the name rings a bell for you where "Mudd" does not, it's because he also counts WGAR/1220 on his local radio resume.

And Richards/Mudd was also heard on then-WWWE/1100 "3WE" under an entirely different name, "Tony Manero"...when he was in the "Mudd" on then-3WE sister station M105.

That shows you our AM radio background, as we do remember the name Wynn Richards from those days in the early 80's...we probably heard him on WGAR at some point in 1981. We don't remember Tony Manero, though...or for that matter, Wynn's stint as "The Mudd" on M105.

Wynn left radio in 2000 after a stint at a Fresno station, and went into the cell phone industry. He tells the 440 folks that he was (at the time of his entry) a "communications specialist" for then-AT&T Wireless.

The morning show composition around Wynn/"Mudd" is still not known. We are hearing some very interesting names, including some already in the CBS Radio Cleveland compound and doing work on other stations...

FINDING JIM MUELLER: Another message board regular reminds us that former Browns Radio Network analyst Jim Mueller was hired in 1999 to do public address announcing for Browns home games at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

We found this Akron Beacon Journal article from that year (seen in Google's cache only) that mentions Mueller's intonation at the team's first game returning to Cleveland. We can't find anything that tells us how long that job lasted, or if he's still doing it today.

UPDATE: An OMW reader tells us that Mueller did the Browns PA gig for that one year, 1999. As we reported, he's been quite busy doing PA work for major auto racing venues since.

OMW reported last week word from a suburban newspaper's Browns beat writer that Mueller is expected to be the team's TV play-by-play man for pre-season games this year.

A commenter to our earlier item reminds us that Mueller was the long-time voice of the Mullinax auto dealerships, and says he now does the same work for Pat O'Brien Chevrolet - complete with the folksy theme music he once used on the Mullinax ads!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Browns TV Team Shaping Up?

OMW passed along a report earlier this week that former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar will be in the TV booth as color commentator for the team's pre-season games this year - no matter which local TV station airs the four games next month.

Kosar wouldn't tell reporters who will join him in that booth this year, but it appears this year's play-by-play voice on TV is likely to be a name from the team's broadcast past.

In a Thursday story on Kosar's new TV job, Lake County News-Herald Browns beat reporter Jeff Schudel says that though it "hasn't been confirmed", it appears Jim Mueller will be the TV play-by-play voice on the Browns' locally televised pre-season contests this year.

Yes, that Jim Mueller. The former WJW/8 sports anchor was a fixture on the Browns Radio Network for two decades, from the mid-70's as a solo color commentator alongside Gib Shanley, to sharing the microphone with current radio analyst and ex-Brown Doug Dieken for much of the 80's and 90's.

That means Mueller was in the Browns radio booth over Kosar's entire career as a Browns quarterback.

We've lost track of him, but it appears that among other things, Mueller has been doing public address announcing at major auto racing tracks, including Michigan International Speedway and Daytona Speedway.

There's no word on if a third voice will join Mueller and Kosar in the Browns TV booth this year...

Syndicated Show - No Affiliates?

Monday is the announced launch date for the national syndication of WLW/700 Cincinnati midday talk star Mike McConnell.

However, unless we've missed it in the regular reading of trade websites over the past couple of months, OMW has yet to see any stations announced for McConnell's syndication effort. A quick Google web and news search also shows no such announcements for the weekday McConnell show.

(The WLW host also fronts "The Weekend with Mike McConnell", syndicated by Premiere on some 120 news/talk stations.)

And Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio writer John Kiesewetter talks about it on his blog on Friday... calling that day's show the host's "last local show" on WLW. Kiese, however, doesn't mention any stations which have picked up the Monday-Friday version of McConnell's show.

The syndication announcement has always seemed a bit "casual" to us. Instead of being handled by Premiere, like his "Weekend" show, stations wanting to pick up the midday version have been directed to contact Clear Channel Cincinnati AM operations manager Darryl Parks.

That led us to believe, from the start, that the show was basically destined for regional syndication, to air on stations within a few hundred miles of Cincinnati.

That model is well-tested, as various shows have been exchanged between Clear Channel's Cincinnati operations and other nearby company outposts...the biggest current example is the presence of WCKY/1530 "Homer, The Sports Animal"'s local programs on Dayton's sister "Homer" sports outlet at AM 980/1340.

We seem to also recall that WLAP/630 Lexington KY has been involved in picking up programs from both Cincinnati and from WHAS/840 Louisville KY.

The 9 AM-noon ET time slot is the most crowded in talk radio. There must be at least a half-dozen "major" conservative/right-leaning syndicated shows in that time slot...many of them rotated on and off the air by stations like baseball teams rotate winded pitchers.

The landscape of late mornings is littered with the broadcast corpses of players like Oliver North, Tony Snow (who booked to a much higher profile gig at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) and others. In addition to Premiere's own Glenn Beck, McConnell's show will have to compete with the likes of TRN's Laura Ingraham and FOX News Radio's "Brian and the Judge", and with stations' desires to "go local" in the pre-Rush time slot.

McConnell is a very, very talented host who's done very well for himself in Cincinnati. He's also not just the "same old, same old" among those who are considered "on the right" in the talk radio spectrum. He's excoriated political operatives on the right for such things as their handling of the Terri Schiavo case, and he's more libertarian than conservative.

He also has ratings to back him up.

But...that 9-noon slot is a killer...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Weekend Grab Bag

A couple or three items floating around:

RANDY'S TALK: Gee, like we didn't see it coming.

On Friday, Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown quoted "TV insiders" as predicting a settlement between Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19 and the Cleveland Browns - in what could be called "The 911 Call Flap".

Later Friday, when we were dissecting Roger's column, your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) noted that such a prediction was like predicting the sun would rise in the morning, and reiterated our own earlier prediction (TV "insiders" that we are, eh?) that the team would buyout WOIO's contract, likely after the pre-season games air next month.

Today, in a wide-ranging interview with team beat reporters, Browns owner Randy Lerner talks about the controversy with "19 Action News", with his quotes reprinted here in a story by Associated Press Cleveland-based sports reporter Tom Withers. Withers says Lerner is "confident the sides will work something out":

"I think Channel 19 and our organization have started very productive conversations about how to make sense of this and have both parties come out feeling good about themselves," he said.

Akron Beacon Journal Browns beat reporter Patrick McManamon echos the quote, and says Lerner "sees no problems finding a new broadcast outlet for the team's preseason games."

Wow. What a surprise! We imagine these quotes would almost ensure that WOIO gets a contract buyout after the 2006 pre-season games, and that the Browns get the opportunity to bolt from the Raycom Media Tabloid Superstation nearly a year early...after holding their noses through four pre-season games this year.

Again, remember the key here: WOIO AIRS THE MAJORITY OF THE BROWNS REGULAR SEASON GAMES NO MATTER WHAT, due to the station's affiiliation with AFC-carrying network CBS.

OMW thinks it's at least a small possibility that the team would buy out the station BEFORE the pre-season games this year, but we figure it's somewhat unlikely due to the time frame involved. Pre-season game number one is a week from this coming Thursday.

Just a guess or two, of course...

KISS CANTON: OMW actually stumbled upon this on Friday, and so have others, apparently... it's now peppered on some of our other items with anonymous comments.

Clear Channel has registered the domain name "", and for the moment, it redirects web surfers to the website for the company's Akron/Canton hot AC station, WKDD/98.1. A quick check of the official registration info shows it has indeed been registered out of Clear Channel's offices in San Antonio.

What to make of it?

There is, of course, the speculation that comes with a presumed new format for the company's incoming FM signal at 101.7, which is likely a couple of months or so from making its debut north of the Stark/Tuscarawas County line. We haven't been able to nail down anything on this, as we've heard speculation about formats ranging from top 40 to oldies to goodness knows what.

So, it wasn't a surprise to us when we started plugging in "possible" domain names and discovered the newly-registered "". (For the record, we also tried variations of domain names such as "", "" and the like, and the domains are either owned far away by non-Clear Channel stations, or not registered at all.)

There is also a possibility it means not much beyond Clear Channel Akron/Canton feeling the need to register such a domain for other reasons.

We'll keep checking.


We're just three days away from the expected takeover of the local Adelphia and Comcast systems by Time Warner Cable, and the company's unleashing a promotional blitz.

Customers are getting letters in the mail about the change, and the company's launched a new website called "TWCusoon" to help explain the changes to those leaving the Adelphia and Comcast universe in Northeast Ohio (and in other areas where TWC is taking over the local Adelphia and/or Comcast systems). Putting in a local ZIP code takes you to the site aimed at new TWC customers in the Cleveland market.

There's actually not a lot of information there...even under the "FAQs" section. That area hints of possible channel changes, which OMW is told are actually listed in a newspaper ad today we haven't been able to see.

OMW reported earlier that it appears the NFL Network and some other Adelphia (and Comcast) channels could go away as soon as Tuesday, and that customers of the merged-in systems could also gain some channels that are not currently available. We're still not sure of the timeline, or if it'll happen as soon as next week.

We also don't know if Adelphia and Comcast customers will see immediate changes in local programming, either with existing programming (i.e. Adelphia's "More Sports and Les Levine") or with TWC's incoming programming (i.e. WKYC/3's "Akron/Canton News").

Other stuff doesn't appear to change for now, including involving the future conversion of high-speed Internet subscribers to the TWC "Roadrunner" system, conversion of E-Mail addresses, and any billing changes...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Big News Soon Out of Canton

OMW is hearing that big radio news is about to break out of Canton.

Could there be changes afoot at one local radio operation there as soon as Monday, or maybe even before then?

At Your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), we're plugged in and will let you know as soon as we get more details. But you'll want to be checking in frequently...

Ms. Serino's Role at Action News

OMW has a little more information on what incoming "19 Action News" weekend anchor Danielle Serino, who's inbound from Chicago, will do once she's here.

In addition to sharing the anchor desk with new arrival Paul Joncich (late of KOVR/13 CBS Sacramento), Serino will do "investigative consumer reporting" for the WOIO/WUAB newscasts. That word comes to us from Chicago media beat writer guru Robert Feder's Friday column in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Feder reports that Serino declined to sign a contract renewal with the Chicago FOX O&O, WFLD/32, last fall. She did similar work there, as we reported earlier this week.

There's no word on if this means Serino will join "Action News" reporter Scott Taylor on the Dirty Dish Patrol...or if her arrival means it's time for Taylor to - OK, say it with us, everyone! -"CLEAAAANN UPPPPP!!". (We couldn't resist.)

She'll join the "19 Action News" team on August 16th...

Roger's Friday Column

Our apologies for much of our absence today.

No, we don't fly around town with a big red "OMW" on our chest, protecting the Northeast Ohio region against radio and TV crime. Sometimes, our life is as mundane as waiting for a tow truck at a local supermarket. But at any rate, we're back and picking up today's pieces, starting with Roger Brown...

Though the Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist has yet to report that FSN Ohio is signing up as the "Official Cable Home of the Browns" (seen here first, and exclusively, on Thursday), he's hot on the trail of something we had not yet heard.

Roger reports that FSN Ohio is talking with the Cleveland Cavaliers about local TV exclusivity starting in the 2008-2009 season, in a proposed multi-year deal. Through the end of the 2007-2008 season, the NBA team's rights are being shared between FSN and Raycom Media's WUAB/43 "My 43" (UPN -> My Network TV).

It's the direction the Cleveland Indians went away from...dumping FSN Ohio's exclusive contract this year in favor of starting the team's own cable outlet SportsTime Ohio, which also airs games on NBC affiliate WKYC/3. STO has presumably also been interested in talking with the Cavaliers, as the new network is fighting with FSN Ohio for all the programming it can get.

Mr. Brown also quotes "local TV insiders" as predicting the sun is going to rise. Er, sorry, that the Cleveland Browns will buy their way out of the legal dispute with current-at-the-moment TV partner WOIO/19, the CBS sister station of WUAB.

We've gone on record as saying that 19's basically stalling to keep the four 2006 pre-season games on the air, with that suit filed aimed at stopping the Browns from pulling the plug. The court process alone is likely to do that, as all four games air in August.

After that, pretty much anyone who looks at this thing with a brain cell believes that Randy Lerner and company will cut a check to buy the team's way out of the contract beyond this year's pre-season. WOIO would get its money, it would still be airing the regular season Browns games via its CBS affiliation anyway, and the team gets a clean break for 2007.

And we're not even a "TV insider", unless Roger's reading our writings...

Roger also notes that the NFL Network is apparently going away on the lineups of local Adelphia and Comcast subscribers, when the two systems get folded into the Time Warner Northeast Ohio Empire next week. (Mr. Brown does not mention that the Browns/Steelers contest on NFL Network later this year WILL air locally on an over-air station yet to be named.)

OMW also hears that a couple of other networks go away at least for us soon-to-be-ex-Adelphians - like ESPNU, and ESPN2's HD feed. But Adelphia folks will also gain some, including the HDTV/digital feed of WUAB/43, and TNT HD.

NFL Network is mounting an advertising blitz aimed at Time Warner and other systems which have not yet picked up the network...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

WUAB Unveils "My 43" Branding

We don't know how long they've been using it, but Raycom Media UPN affiliate WUAB/43 has started using the "My 43" on-air branding, pictured here at the start of tonight's 10 PM edition of "19 Action News".

It's not the first presence of "My 43" at the sister station to CBS affiliate WOIO/19. OMW reported earlier this month that WUAB's website has been replaced by a temporary placeholder for the upcoming "".

It shows you how much we do not watch WUAB...OMW readers tell us the new branding's been in place for a while now.

But the future Cleveland market affiliate of My Network TV is not alone in abandoning its current network identity in the move to a new one, in the wake of the end of The WB and UPN, and the upcoming start of My Network TV and The CW.

WUPV/65 Richmond VA, that market's UPN affiliate, is now fully branding as "CW Richmond" picks up the CW network affiliation in that market. The WB programming in Richmond had been airing on NBC affiliate WWBT/12 in late nights.

One reason for these changes is apparent to those in the TV business - the July ratings book is now over.

As of this writing, Cleveland's incoming CW affiliate, current WB outlet WBNX/55, is still sporting the "Cleveland's WB" logo...

Browns Getting Cable Rights Partner - And Kosar As Analyst

The city's most popular professional sports team can't help but make news in media circles. This time, though, the battle's on cable.

OMW hears that the NFL Cleveland Browns have already moved to shore up one part of their local TV rights package. Contingent upon the resolution of the legal dispute between the Browns and Raycom Media's WOIO/19, FOX Sports Net Ohio is signing up with the team as the "Official Cable Home of the Browns".

Since FSN Ohio can't air any actual games - the NFL requires them to be available over-the-air locally - that means the cable outlet will handle a number of weekly team-related programs, headed up by staffers Michael Reghi and Jeff Phelps. Phelps has participated this week on FSN Ohio/WKNR's "Cleveland Rants", as the show has focused on Browns training camp.

Across the cable dial, SportsTime Ohio isn't going away as far as Browns coverage goes, despite losing the "official" label to FSN Ohio. OMW hears that WKYC's Jim Donovan, joined with Tony Grossi, Doug Dieken and former coach Sam Rutigliano, will mount a Browns preview show on STO this year. STO has had daily coverage of events at training camp.

The cable rights battle is not tied to the over-air rights to Browns pre-season games and material, but the FSN Ohio deal will go into effect after the Browns and WOIO wrap up their differences in the latter dispute.

And there's even more big Browns TV news.

The actual pre-season games, whether they air on Channel 19 or somewhere else, will officially have a new analyst's voice.

Medina Gazette/Elyria Chronicle-Telegram sportswriter Brian Dulik reports that as rumored, popular ex-Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar will indeed be in the pre-season TV booth this year as a regular color commentator. (Thank you to an alert OMW reader out west for pointing us to this item!)

Kosar declined to speculate on either the team's home station controversy, or who will be joining him in that booth this year. Last year, the broadcast team settled on veteran play-by-play voice Sam Rosen to join former Browns players Bob Golic (WNIR/100.1) and Brian Brennan. Kosar appeared during one 2005 broadcast as a guest commentator...


OMW hears from inside the CBS Radio compound that classic rock WNCX/98.5 Cleveland will be muddying up its mornings, as rumored on various message boards for some time.

In specific, we hear that the incoming morning drive host will be "Mudd"...the one-time WWWM/"M105" host also known as "J. Mudcliff". (We're not sure what form the name of his liquified dirt will take at WNCX.)

For now, we have no details on who will be paired with him in morning drive on WNCX. Mudd was among the parade of auditioners that 98.5 has aired in the slot once occupied by Howard Stern, which was vacated when CBS Radio cancelled Stern replacement David Lee Roth earlier this year.

Mudd's audition was with Kathy Vogel, the former morning co-host at Canton top 40 outlet WZKL/92.5 "Q92" - who's also picked up part-time work at WNCX's CBS Radio Cleveland sister hot AC outlet WQAL/104.1 "Q104". Q also hired Vogel's Canton co-host, Tim Richards, as their night personality.

But OMW hears Vogel may or may not be a part of the new morning show on WNCX...

KISS Nights

Clear Channel top 40 WAKS/96.5 programmer Bo Matthews is out looking for a replacement for "J-NIICE", who recently booked from "KISS Cleveland" to join former WAKS program director Dan Mason at Miami's Y100.

Matthews tells the folks at AllAccess his requirements for the open slot: "If all you can do is scream and count down the Top 8 At 8, save the postage and don't waste the bandwidth. But, if you are a serious entertainer, this is your shot."

He's asking applicants to drop resume, materials and references to jobs in E-Mail ONLY to "". We've helpfully provided you with a direct link.

While we're on the KISS Night Slammer Search, OMW hears that "Rat Boy" and "Stay Puff" were heard on the WAKS airwaves this week. They reportedly hail from WIOQ "Q102" in Philadelphia, the place where KISS Cleveland APD/MD/afternoon driver Kasper briefly worked...and no, we have no idea where their names came from, aside from a Marshmellow Man guess on the latter...

This Blog Post Brought To You By...No One

Not to be outdone by its talk radio sister station at Oak Tree, OMW hears that Clear Channel Cleveland's WMJI/105.7 is also selling sponsorship to its broadcast facility.

The oldies station is now said to be broadcasting from "Your Northern Ohio Chrysler and Jeep Dealers studio", which also nets the dealer group a line on the WMJI website.

OMW reported yesterday that sister talk WTAM/1100 is now airing a sponsor billboard for its newsroom, the bill footed by FirstEnergy's The Illuminating Company and Ohio Edison.

(UPDATE 7/27/06 5:38 PM: We have also just heard a non-news "studios" liner - with the same sponsorship - on WTAM...)

It's not new, as we've also reported. In addition to the bank sponsorship of Clear Channel newsrooms in Milwaukee and Madison WI, the company's talk WLW/700 "The Big One" in Cincinnati broadcasts from "The John Morrell sponsored 700 WLW studios". John Morrell and Company is a meat products firm based in Cincinnati.

And Premiere/Clear Channel-operated FOX Sports Radio's studio in Los Angeles has been sponsored for a long time, by auto-parts chain AutoZone...

Random Thoughts

Nothing particularly significant:

THAT SLIMMED DOWN BROWNS COVERAGE: We've had several notes about our report on changes in coverage of the Cleveland Browns' training camp, which we mentioned were inspired by current team local rightsholder WOIO/19 running amok during last year's Browns camp.

The restrictions we mentioned - which include the prohibition on sets and props, and pre-approval of live shots - were clearly visible on "19 Action News" at 5 PM on Wednesday, the training camp's opening day. So...were the tense relations between the local CBS affiliate and the region's NFL team.

Instead of a live show broadcast and an opening from the camp, "Action News" buried the Browns training camp below a rather mundane "usual stuff" lineup of local news.

When they finally got to reporter/weekend sports anchor David Pingalore's live shot, it was out in the middle of a practice field with no background...and had minor audio difficulty to boot. Pingalore's taped piece featured what looked to mostly consist of "gang interviews" with Browns players, who were surrounded by a sea of cameras, talking into a host of microphones, and being interviewed by what would appear to be every other sports reporter in the city.

This may be a sample of what life will be like for WOIO at Berea now, even if they manage to hang onto the Browns local TV rights contract. The team is not exactly going to bend over backwards to give them access to players, coaches and the like...

GREATER SWAP: OMW hears people are still talking about the Great Frequency Swap of 2001 in Northeast Ohio, which sent a boatload of stations to different owners and formats.

We hear the swap could have been even "greater", with a proposal five years ago for Clear Channel to buy Dix Communications country WQKT/104.5 Wooster and move it to the Akron market... likely coming into the market via a new license community of Barberton or similar.

Clear Channel then would have bought then-smooth jazz WBZW/107.7 Loudonville, already serving Wooster at that time, and given it to Dix to replace WQKT.

Dix suits reportedly declined to go through with the 2001 deal. One reason may have been negative feedback over the 107.7 signal - which covers Wooster and even much of Holmes County fine, but gets a little weaker the farther you go up Ohio 585.

And since Dix is based in Wooster, they may have worried about being too close to local fallout from the move in places like Smithville and Doylestown. Dix also owns the Wooster Daily Record, and a number of suburban papers around Akron.

Still, at the time there was, at the time, the prospect that WKDD would have flipped from 96.5 to...104.5.

And ironically, Clear Channel did eventually buy 107.7 in Loudonville. But instead a Wooster replacement for WQKT, 107.7 turned into the northern half of the "Kiss FM" simulcast out of the company's Ashland/Mansfield Mid-Ohio cluster.

Today, the Loudonville-based signal is WXXF, a third of the "Fox Rock Network" trimulcast.

And of course, WQKT continues at 104.5 serving up country music, local news and sports out of Wooster...under the moniker "SportsCountry". It's not moving - today. But back in 2001, it could have...

METRO CUTS?: AllAccess tips this afternoon that "substantial layoffs" are in the works for the Westwood One and Metro Networks/Shadow Broadcast Services organizations nationwide. This comes in the wake of a reported 115 jobs being cut at WW1/Metro/Shadow sister operations at CBS Radio.

If the job cuts take the same form as the CBS layoffs, expect middle managers and sales managers to take the brunt.

UPDATE 7/27/06 5:50 PM: AllAccess reports 72 employees were laid off nationwide among the group, and reprints a memo from Westwood One president/CEO Peter Kosan. Sifting through the corporate speak, it appears that the Metro Networks cuts are aimed at trimming operating costs in markets below the top 60.

Cleveland is currently the 25th largest market, Cincinnati is 28th largest, and Columbus the 38th largest market in the country...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cleveland Jokes Don't Die - They Live On in Sacramento

New WOIO/19 "19 Action News" weekend co-anchor Paul Joncich is already in town, and already has been pressed into service.

OMW spotted Joncich filling in during a newscast on Tuesday, getting acclimated to his new digs in the basement of Reserve Square in downtown Cleveland.

The former Sacramento TV anchor is getting some ribbing in his former home market, from Sacramento Bee TV/radio writer Sam McManis. In the Bee's "21Q" blog, McManis rips the North Coast as Joncich's new location:

But, Paul - Cleveland? The "Mistake by the Lake"? The butt of countless jokes on late-night monologues?

Oh, come on, Sam. The "Mistake by the Lake" stuff died with the 80's.

OK, so Cleveland's no garden spot like, say, Sacramento (we'll pause for the San Francisco Bay Area readers to laugh at that one). But you know...Jacobs Field, the Rock Hall, the Science Center, the new Browns Stadium...say, where's Sacramento's pro football stadium?

No, the very dangerous Oakland Coliseum doesn't count. People get shot within a mile of there, and Sacramento's some 90 miles up the Amtrak line. By that measurement, we can claim all the Pittsburgh sports teams here, as well as THE Ohio State University Buckeyes. Oh, wait...we already do claim the Scarlet and Grey...

Joncich must already be getting used to defending Northeast Ohio's honor. He asks McManis, "Have you ever been there? There are really some nice areas." (Get used to it,'ll have to use that phrase in dozens of phone calls with California, if you haven't already!)

And Mr. McManis' parting shot?

We wish Paul luck and will ask him again how he likes Cleveland in the middle of a January snowstorm.

At the moment here in Northeast Ohio, it's 77 degrees. We believe it's roughly 107 in Sacramento right now...

WTAM Names Its Newsroom

OMW first talked about this way back in December, when we learned that Clear Channel's Madison WI news/talk station sold naming rights to its newsroom to a local bank.

Some seven months later, Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland has followed suit in selling newsroom naming rights...though the station did not turn to a bank, it turned to a utility.

WTAM's local newscasts are now tagged "from the WTAM/1100 24 Hour Newsroom, powered by The Illuminating Company and Ohio Edison". We don't know how long they've been doing this, but we just heard it today. ("Powered by", get it?) Due to the need for FirstEnergy to name both its Cleveland-based and Akron-based systems, it's a bit unwieldy.

The sponsorship tagline leads one to wonder what'll happen if there are massive power outages in the region. "The 24 Hour Newsroom, one of a few things still powered by...", perhaps? OK, so we're having a little fun with this...

Outside Northeast Ohio

Time to check in with some of the outposts away from the greater Cleveland/Akron/Canton area, unless another TV station is going to sue another professional sports team, at any rate...

MIAMI VALLEY MY-GOODBYE: It looks like CBS affiliate WHIO/7 Dayton's second channel won't be the market's home of My Network TV this fall.

Current UPN cable-only affiliate Miami Valley Channel (also known as "UPN 17") is being dropped by the Dayton area by Time Warner, the market's dominant cable operator. As such, The Dayton Daily News reports that "MVC" will sign off at the end of 2006.

What we're wondering - will Dayton go without a My Network TV affiliate based in the market?

In an unusual arrangement, Cincinnati's WSTR/64 has a translator in Dayton on channel 66 (with an application to move it to channel 22). Barring any other affiliation announcements - such as a new subchannel of one of the other full-power digital stations - it looks like WSTR will act as the My Network affiliate in both markets.

The "My" folks are still also without a home in Toledo, where the status of current UPN affiliate WNGT-LP/48 is still up in the air. It doesn't appear likely that "UPN 48" will make it to the fall as a general entertainment independent station - we expect the folks at Cornerstone Church to officially take it over at some point in the next few months.

The rival CW Network already has affiliates in Dayton - current WB outlet WBDT/26 - and Toledo - Buckeye Cablesystem's cable/satellite-only WB affiliate "WT05"....

CINCINNATI SPANISH: This happened a few days ago, but since we're cleaning up after the markets outside Northeast Ohio... gospel WCVG/1320 Cincinnati has flipped to a full-time Spanish-language format, the first such outlet in the Queen City.

This leaves us wondering when this part of the state will get a full-time Spanish-language outlet. The only one in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton area is Lorain non-comm rimshot WNZN/89.1, which struggles to reach even Cleveland's western suburbs from its tower west of Lorain.

Youngstown has Stop 26 Riverbend-bankruptcy-court-in-possession WASN/1500 in Spanish, minus the four brokered English talk hours hosted by Louie Free in late mornings...

CINCY RATINGS: Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio writer John Kiesewetter weighs in with the latest Cincinnati radio ratings on his TV blog. And though we don't really even dissect the ratings in Northeast Ohio here, we're paying attention due to recent high-profile changes on the Cincnnati AM radio dial.

Kiesewetter notes that then-liberal talk WCKY/1530 dropped to "24th of 27 stations" in the market in the most recent survey, with numbers under half of the format's highest on 1530. In the meantime, then-sports WSAI/1360 rose above that mark, tied for 15th with CBS Radio alt-rock WAQZ/97.3.

Kiese also notes that the renewal of 1530's former "real oldies" format on WDJO/1160 also did better than 1530's last book as a liberal talk station.

Of course, Jerry Springer, Air America and liberal talk swapped frequencies with "Homer - The Sports Animal" a while back...

Browns Gear Up - So Does the Media

As the local NFL team's management starts its legal battle to take the local TV rights away from CBS affiliate WOIO/19, Cleveland Browns players start their drive to take away ballgames from opponents.

With training camp underway starting today, OMW hears that a LOT, and we mean a LOT of restrictions have been placed on the media covering that camp...much of it a direct result of that very TV station's behavior last year.

OMW's eyes and ears in Berea tell us that the various media members are getting photo IDs this year, and that their movements will be able to be tracked electronically by the team. (No word if that electronic tracking system will sound a giant alarm if a member of the "19 Action News" team attempts to swipe bottled water from the fridge.)

But it's the on-air differences you'll likely notice. We hear there'll be no sets or props allowed by TV crews covering the team at training camp. No logos, no helmets. And any live TV shots will have to be approved in writing by the Browns...with no TV or radio reports allowed at ALL from inside the team's Media Center. And no, the restrictions don't just apply to WOIO...they apply to everyone.

Les Levine and Neil Bender of FOX Sports Net Ohio/WKNR's "Cleveland Rants" are going to go off of solely covering baseball and do Browns-related shows the next couple of days - hey, this is Cleveland, and our baseball team is headed for the cellar, aping pre-1990's days of old.

And SportsTime Ohio also debuts its nightly training camp special tomorrow night.

While we're talking about the Browns, OMW wonders what kind of play WKYC/3 is able to make for the pre-season Browns games...should the team be able to cut loose from its WOIO contract. We note that Plain Dealer sports/media/real estate columnist Roger Brown thought it'd be something personal for WKYC boss Brooke Spectorsky, who was pushed aside at WUAB when the station first paired up with WOIO - long before the Raycom days.

But...let's talk practical, here. We note that the Browns pre-season contests this year (if the change happens that early) do not conflict with WKYC's Cleveland Indians coverage.

All but one Browns pre-season contest, the final pre-season tilt with the Chicago Bears, do conflict with SportsTime Ohio's coverage of the Indians...but we assume WKYC would have no problem hiring people to juggle those conflicts.

WKYC produces all of SportsTime Ohio's content, including pre-game and post-game shows, from its in-house high-definition production facility. They'd have to hire a remote truck for the Browns games no matter what, since those facilities are tied to Jacobs Field and the Indians games.

To that end, would WKYC getting the Browns rights also provide another entree for STO to widen its base?

WKYC's Indians-related content - the weekly show, etc. - also repeats on STO, along with WKYC's game broadcasts. We have no problem envisioning something of a similar relationship with the Browns content...and a joint bid by both outlets for the Browns contract.

Both Channel 3 and SportsTime Ohio would be very interested...of course, as we reported a while back, WEWS/5 is likely a strong suitor as well.

Again, this all assumes that Browns owner Randy Lerner is successful in beating WOIO's lawsuit against the team. By the way, it's totally off topic, but it appears Lerner is also bidding to purchase a "Premier League" English soccer team...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: WOIO Fires Back - In Court

This just in...

Raycom Media's WOIO/19 has sued the Cleveland Browns for trying to get out of the team's contract with the local CBS affiliate.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's news blog reports that WOIO says it "did nothing to warrant" the termination of a three-year, $4 million contract which is entering its second year. The station has also asked a judge to block the Browns from terminating the contract, and asks for unspecified damages.

For the team's part, a Browns official wrote in his July 13th letter to the TV station that the contract was being terminated because of "repeated instances where WOIO news staff stepped well outside any legitimate boundary of responsible journalism", and that Channel 19 aired "sensationalized, overtly negative reporting on the organization and its players."

Browns VP Mike Keenan says "19 Action News"' airing of a 911 call involving family members of owner Randy Lerner "irreparably ruptured" the team's relationship with WOIO.

The Plain Dealer reports that the contract does have an escape clause allowing it to be terminated "for cause", such as:

"...conduct by one party, its employees or representatives which substantially alters the aggrieved party's ability to benefit from this agreement."

It's now up to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Timothy McMonagle to decide if that means the contract can be voided...

Tuesday Roundup

Some followup, mostly on previous items...and all from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, as it turns out:

NEW ANCHOR TEAM: Just an hour before we posted our own item, the Plain Dealer's Entertainment blog had official word of WOIO/19's new "19 Action News" weekend anchor team.

As we reported earlier, and heard from our own sources, it's indeed former KOVR/13 Sacramento anchor mainstay Paul Joncich coming to Reserve Square as half of the weekend anchor team at the local CBS affiliate.

His co-anchor, as rumored, is Danielle Serino...who spent six years in Chicago, and has worked in Miami and New York City. Her most recent gig has been as consumer reporter for FOX's O&O in Chicago, WFLD/ segments entitled "The Bottom Line".

The move not only puts Catherine Bosley back to full-time reporting, but also does the same for Denise Strzelczyk...who'd been solo anchor of "19 Action News"' Sunday broadcasts.

TIME WARNER/ADELPHIA: We're finally getting down to the wire in the Time Warner takeover of the Cleveland-based Adelphia systems...and Comcast here, as well. (In other markets, Comcast will be the company doing such consolidating.)

Cleveland Plain Dealer tech columnist Henry Gomez reports that Time Warner plans a big splash at Jacobs Field on August 1st...the date that the merger will apparently be completed.

Time Warner suits tell Gomez that they're not planning on rate increases "right now", and as expected, that it'll take some time for all the systems to be merged.

To that end, Time Warner is apparently undergoing negotiations with cable channels that are carried by Adelphia and Comcast locally, and aren't carried by the Time Warner Northeast Ohio system. Time Warner's Stephen Fry admits that some "obscure" channels could be lost to current Adelphia/Comcast subscribers.

The entire process is expected to take about two years, and will include the introduction of TWC's "DigitalPhone" service to the ex-Adelphia/Comcast service areas and new jobs at two area call centers.

911 CALL: Plain Dealer news columnist Sam Fulwood III defends WOIO/19 for airing that controversial 911 call involving family members of Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner.

Fulwood's basic reasoning is that "the rich should be treated just like the poor", and that WOIO would have (and should have) aired such a call no matter what the status is, of the bank account of the family involved. He writes:

Airing that call was a courageous - if unpopular - act of journalism. Every media outlet in this city should applaud Channel 19 for its integrity.

Channel 19 did what it is supposed to do. It informed the public by broadcasting news without fear or favor. Facing the possible loss of millions of dollars, the station refused to kowtow to a beloved local business and the wealthy family that owns it.

A brief comment or two...we don't want to veer too far off into Opinion Land here:

Airing a 911 call of a grieving mother is hardly an act of courage. It's done, as suggested, in newsrooms all over the country.

WOIO airing this particular call was hardly an act of integrity. It was very likely just "something they do". The flash-and-dash style of "19 Action News" calls for theatrics, and what better ready-made bit of theatrics than a crying mother calling 911 about her dead daughter?

Mr. Fulwood makes it sound like it was a courageous, conscious decision by WOIO to air the call, "wealthy team owner be damned".'s just how the station does business. Fulwood considers that an act of "integrity"...we consider it more of an accident if it appears that way to him.

And he, like everyone else, is well aware of the nature of the Action News Beast. He spends much of the first part of his column even talking about it.

As we've said more than once, it's the opinion of this corner that Channel 19 had every right to obtain and air the tape. The Browns organization has every right to try to find a legal exit to the contract with the TV station. And WOIO made a business - not news - decision to enter that contract.

And we would be much more impressed with "19 Action News" if the story were not the sobs of a mother who just lost her 6 year-old daughter, but some sort of actual news story involving Randy Lerner or his operations. If Lerner, say, were in some sort of legal hot water, WOIO would be expected...if not cover such a story fairly and accurately. This is not the same thing.

To call what WOIO did an "act of integrity" is about the funniest thing we've read in the Plain Dealer since we hit the comic section...

Monday, July 24, 2006

CONFIRMED: Joncich to WOIO/WUAB For Weekend Anchoring

OMW has been hearing rumblings that Raycom Media's WOIO/19-WUAB/43 is bringing in new faces to anchor the weekend editions of "19 Action News", and we've confirmed the coming arrival at least one of those faces.

Reliable sources in California tell OMW that former KOVR/13 (CBS) Sacramento anchor Paul Joncich, who left the station amid recent changes caused by the network buying that affiliate, is coming to "19 Action News" to anchor weekend newscasts.

OMW has also heard rumors of Joncich being paired with an incoming female co-anchor, which would displace current "Action News" weekend anchor Catherine Bosley to solely a reporting role. We have not been able to confirm those rumors, though.

In what may be a piece of useless trivia, Joncich's former co-anchor at KOVR, Jennifer Whitney, is a Cleveland native. The long-time anchor team at the Sacramento CBS outlet was replaced in a network overhaul of its new O&O in that market...

Drennan Gets His Sentence

It's no surprise, as there was a plea bargain in the case, but long-time Cleveland sports radio/TV personality Bruce Drennan has been handed his sentence in his tax fraud case.

WKYC/3's Obie Shelton reports it's - as expected - a five month federal prison term, and a five month term under house arrest. Drennan admitted to not reporting income on illegal baseball betting.

Shelton says Drennan thanked supporters who wrote to Judge Donald Nugent, and said he only had himself to blame for the sentence. The former WKNR/850 morning host says he hopes to return to sportscasting after he serves out his sentence.

OMW presumes that his first call will be to Reserve Square, where WOIO/19-WUAB/43 has already enlisted him to do commentary for the "19 Action News" website...

Roger's Monday Column

Our apologies for a delayed update...but Blogger is having indigestion this morning, and we haven't even had access to the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) for the past couple of hours!

It's Monday, and that means it's time to pick out the useful pieces from Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Roger Brown's Monday Media Column...

STO PROGRAMMING: Roger follows up on an item we mentioned over the weekend...the new in-house programming by the folks at SportsTime Ohio, which showed up on the station's new website schedule last week.

Brown tells us that the Browns "Training Camp Daily" show, which premieres Wednesday at 10:30 PM, will be handled by WKYC/3 sports director Jim Donovan (an STO regular), Plain Dealer Browns beat writer Tony Grossi, and former team coach Sam Rutigliano.

Donovan also tells The Artful Roger that he hopes to bring ex-Browns lineman Doug Dieken - his Browns Radio Network partner - aboard the show.

The moves will bring STO to its previously announced goal of a seven-day a week evening schedule from 6 PM to midnight. STO boss Jim Liberatore says it starts a "new era" for the regional sports network, though we'd be more impressed if that new era involved a full-time channel.

As we've personally told Mr. Liberatore, many people even forget STO exists if they're not looking for an Indians game. Being lit up each evening will help, but STO really needs to move to the next step...a 24/7 channel. It won't take THAT much more to get there, as channels like FSN Ohio only have a certain number of shows that repeat during the day...

BROWNS TIFF: Roger goes over some of the past run-ins between Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19 and the Cleveland Browns, as evidence that the most recent difficulty between the two organizations is just the
latest problem.

In addition to the K2 Blowout between Browns receiver Kellen Winslow, his father and WOIO lead sports anchor Chuck Galeti (where we think Winslow Sr. overreacted), Brown reminds us of "unease" with 19's Sharon Reed and her behavior - and dress - at Berea. Well, we guess someone would dress that way if she were hoping to date players, not just interview them.

The PD columnist also says the team wasn't thrilled with the station's handling of the team-related shows, including spotlighting the station's personalities...and the low ratings those shows have gotten on WOIO.

But Brown doesn't mention our earlier report that the station came in last year with a "we own this place swagger" in training camp, not to mention the fact that such behavior got 19 Action News types placed on a short leash in Berea.

He also intimates that WKYC/3 is "drooling" over the prospect of swiping the Browns rights from WOIO, due to apparent personal dislike between WKYC general manager Brooke Spectorsky and his counterpart at WOIO/WUAB, Bill Applegate. If we recall correctly, Spectorsky was formerly the GM at 43...before the stations combined forces in the mid-90's.

WKNR/ESPN: Brown also fills column space with the laundry list of gripes that ESPN Radio may have had with Salem sports talk WKNR/850...which he said "tested ESPN's patience". Among them - pre-emption of network programming with infomercials and Lake County Captains games, not to mention repeats of Premiere host Jim Rome's show.

We're sure the brass in Bristol weren't thrilled with any of that, but our guess is that the move to drop WKNR was pro-active on the part of one Craig Karmazin, who runs the network at his sports outlets in Milwaukee and West Palm Beach FL.

Karmazin's Good Karma Broadcasting also has a sports station on FM in the Madison WI market, but it runs FOX Sports Radio... for at least one reason, possibly, because Clear Channel's WTSA/1070 owns the ESPN rights in that market.

To that end, Roger finally notes that current gospel daytimer WABQ/1540 is expected to take the ESPN Radio affiliation when WKNR loses it in mid-October. But he does not mention Karmazin at all, or his recent move to purchase WABQ. That's a surprise, because Roger Brown's column was the very first place Karmazin's name was mentioned locally...


Late this Sunday night/early Monday morning, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) is at the keyboard doing a Google "ego search". OK, so every once in a while...we want to know who's finding us and how, and we hadn't done it in a while. (Those who know us know we have an ego that can fit roughly in a thimble, with enough room to fit a needle and some thread.)

Our early morning tip of the hat goes to Pho's Akron Pages, a comprehensive and well-written politically-oriented blog from a left-leaning perspective. He gave us a nice plug in his author's profile at another well-regarded local blog, Brewed Fresh Daily.

(If you're looking for political balance, in our usual, even-handed style...we know that the proprietor of a popular local conservative blog, Right Angle Blog, is a long-time OMW reader.)

Anyway, back to Pho...who had this to say about us in a recent item of his own:

In my trolling for area blogs I found Ohio Media Watch which is less watchdoggy and more inside baseball than the portentous title makes it sound. It's quickly becoming a favorite.

Thanks, Pho!

We're sorry if the title made it sound like we'd mount the high horse and expose's just an extension of other similar titles for media news blogs all over, including our good friend Scott Fybush's NorthEast Radio Watch.

This gives us a chance to reset, and explain ourselves a little to new readers.

Ohio Media Watch covers news concerning radio and TV outlets and personalities in the Northeast Ohio region, including Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Youngstown/Warren and nearby areas. We also pass along rumors of changes at local broadcast outlets, and do our best to make it clear just how strong the information is. We try, as best we can, to be a responsible outlet.

Northeast Ohio is our primary coverage area. Occasionally, we'll run items from other Ohio markets, including, but not limited to, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. These items run as we find them, usually on other sites such as AllAccess or in local newspapers. We don't have many in-house sources in these markets, so that information should be considered a bonus.

Our personal area of interest is radio news, talk and sports formats, and local TV operations. You'll see a lot about those topics here on OMW, but we do try to keep tabs on other radio formats. Generally speaking, we don't keep track of music stations and their playlists, but we do try to track personalities on those stations when warranted.

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) is a long-time broadcast veteran, with most of our experience coming outside the Cleveland/Akron/Canton region. No, before you ask, you probably don't know us.

We have several running jokes here...this Glossary we published some time ago may help you through some of them.

Anyway, welcome aboard, and we hope you enjoy our humble little blog!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Weekend Housekeeping

Just some minor housekeeping issues...

You'll notice that we've overhauled our "links" area to the left side of Ohio Media Watch. We hope we've been inclusive, but will continue to add any links we feel are vital.

We'd also like to thank Charlie Profit (, who has registered the domain on his own and redirected it to your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm). We didn't ask him to do it, but he wanted to make sure it was out there for folks who might need it.

The domain is not under OMW's control, and will remain the primary address to reach OMW until further notice. Please continue to use that address in your bookmarks for OMW. At this time, we plan to do nothing further regarding the new domain.

But having it out there, and the redirect to here, will hopefully catch folks who don't remember the full URL for OMW...

As The 19/Browns Saga Turns

Today, it's Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19's turn in the ongoing saga over the Cleveland Browns' desire to dump the station as its local TV rightsholder. But instead of station general manager Bill Applegate making the case, it's lawyer Jack Kluznik...a member of the firm representing WOIO in its legal dispute with the local NFL team.

Kluznik tells Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown that the station and team have a "legal, binding contract"...saying the local Raycom Media outlet has held up its end of the legal bargain, and "expects the Browns to do the same".

Brown characterizes WOIO's legal team as being prepared for a "long legal battle", and that could be vital here.

The legal system rarely moves with swiftness. And the first pre-season game is less than a month away. Unless the team gets an immediate court injunction or something, it appears somewhat likely that at very least the first pre-season game or two, if not more, will actually air on Channel 19. And of course, when the regular season starts, the local CBS affiliate will already be airing the games via the network.

Browns owner Randy Lerner seems already resigned to that possibility, noting in yesterday's Plain Dealer article that the pre-season games will air on television - even if he basically has to hold his nose and accept WOIO continuing as the team partner in the short term.

But Lerner still appears to be miffed, if we're reading his public comments correctly. We're a bit biased here at OMW - particularly over WOIO/WUAB general manager Bill Applegate's reported effort to contact Lerner's mother, the widow of late owner Al Lerner and grandmother of the young victim here.

The saying could be "hell hath no fury like a grandmother wronged". We're guessing from our own family experience that if Norma Lerner is upset by what "19 Action News" did to her family, she'd go to the ends of the earth to sever ties with the trying to go to her to beg to keep the Browns TV rights may not have been a good move for Applegate. He's better off keeping quiet, and hoping the legal system upholds his station's contract.

But OMW finds it hard to believe that Lerner would actually make this move without at least running it past the team's lawyers. And we find it hard to believe he'd waste Browns lawyers' time and the team's money to pursue this, if he wasn't informed he had a reasonable shot of escaping the contract...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Unraveling the Browns TV Situation

Quite a bit more light has been shed on the dispute between the NFL's Cleveland Browns and Raycom Media's WOIO/19, the local CBS affiliate.

The sunlight comes from a Tony Grossi article in this morning's Cleveland Plain Dealer, where he clears up some of the confusion about that controversial 911 call...which prompted Browns owner Randy Lerner to move to sever the team's ties with WOIO.

In his first direct comments on the matter, Lerner confirmed that the 911 call incident was the sole reason he's trying to cut loose from the last two years of the team's 3 year contract with WOIO for pre-season games and other Browns programming.

Lerner tells Grossi that first and foremost, no matter what happens, the Browns' pre-season games will air on local TV this year. That's really never been in question, as the team has at least one very eager suitor (WEWS/5 - which Grossi confirms has offered to take over the rights)...but Lerner had to say it to calm the nerves of diehard Browns fans.

He also says that if it's decided that the Browns are legally bound by their contract with Channel 19, they'll abide by the contract...and they won't go after a resolution that would deprive the team's fans of seeing the games. "If we have to do business with them, then we'll do business with them. But if we don't have to, great," Lerner tells Grossi.

Grossi indicates that the Browns could end up buying their way out of the WOIO contract, and if forced to allow WOIO to air the games, the team could still pursue ending its endorsement of the station's other Browns-related programming.

Despite saying he'll "do business" with Channel 19 if forced to do so legally, Lerner is clearly still seething at Reserve Square, nearly ten days after telling them to get lost.

"I just don't know how you do business with people that do that to you," the Browns owner tells the Plain Dealer...saying the organization is "disgusted and shocked" with WOIO's actions. And he tells Grossi that the matter is very personal to him, considering it involves his family. "This is strictly a matter of dignity and trying to do what's right by my sister and by my mom."

As for the 911 call from Lerner's sister, today's report says that a part of the call was also aired by FOX's WJW/8, though not the "gruesome" part Grossi says ran on "19 Action News".

WKYC/3 and WEWS/5, after much internal discussion, decided to not to air any part of the call. WJW's Mike Renda said they wanted to be "respectful" of Mr. Lerner and his family, and felt comfortable with the part of the call they did air.

Too busy trying to save his job, WOIO/WUAB general manager Bill Applegate was not available for comment in the newspaper...

SportsTime Ohio's Website, Programming

This one's been on our back burner for a few days...

SportsTime Ohio has taken the wraps off of its shiny new website, and in the process, has also given some insight on the network's upcoming programming moves.

The current schedule lists non-game programming starting to populate the schedule next week. STO is planning daily coverage of the Cleveland Browns' training camp beginning on Wednesday, with an hour-long daily training camp wrapup show in late be repeated the following day, usually in early evening.

New shows debuting next month include "Tee-it-Up Ohio" (a golf show, we presume) and "Outdoors Ohio" with veteran local outdoors media personality D'Arcy Egan. There are also new episodes of "Ohio Sports Profile", looking at athletes with local ties...though we're wondering if they're actually going to play the one with now-traded former Indians closer Bob Wickman...

STO is also scheduling numerous replays of Syracuse University vs. TCU in the 1957 Cotton Bowl, and a show called "Syracuse Football: Legend of 44". We'll assume that's on the schedule because of legendary Browns running back Jim Brown...

As for the website, it features such things as Indians news and a new Ohio sports message board, which has - among other things - featured users posting not-so-nice feelings about the Indians' recent moves.

It's kind of surreal to look at the list of message headers automatically fed to STO's front page, including the header "Lied to once again! Thanks Shapiro/Dolan!". At least the team-owned TV outlet is letting this stuff stay up...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Week Ending Potpourri

Or as a former co-worker used to say, "a myriad of topics on the hypothetical table"...

BROWNS TV FALLOUT: While WOIO/19 general manager Bill Applegate pleads with a grieving grandmother to save his station's Cleveland Browns TV rights bacon, we're wondering what happens to the team's TV broadcast team for the pre-season matter which local station airs the games.

We're pretty sure the Browns hire the on-air talent for the games, so that would seem to ensure that they'll ask 2005 play-by-play voice Sam Rosen to come back into the booth this year. Rosen was called in at the last minute, and was pretty much universally praised for bringing a veteran TV sports broadcasting presence to WOIO's pre-season telecasts.

But what about former Browns defensive star Bob Golic, who easily moved into an analyst role on last year's telecasts after Rosen's arrival?

The WNIR/100.1 afternoon talk show host has also done separate work for the Cleveland CBS affiliate, including participating in their own non-team-sanctioned pre-game and post-game shows. (Beware, the Giant Brown Valu City Furniture Couch!) He's also filled in on the station's weekend sports anchor desk.

If the Browns are officially done with WOIO, will something have to give? Could Golic still do the analysis on the pre-season casts - airing on another station - and do the Channel 19-based shows as well? And even if he doesn't do his WOIO-based work, will the Browns associate him too closely with the TV station they want nothing to do with?

And then there's a wildcard. In addition to other former Browns like Brian Brennan - who did it last year - there's been talk of popular former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar joining in the pre-season broadcasts on a regular basis. That should be very interesting. Kosar did a fine job in a brief "drop-in" appearance on one of last year's telecasts...

NEXT NEXTMEDIA: We've been remiss in not passing along the news from NextMedia, the owner of Canton combo WHBC/1480-WHBC-FM/94.1. President/Co-Chief Operating Officer Skip Weller has stepped down.

Radio & Records reports the news, and AllAccess tips that it could be the other co-COO, executive VP Jeff Dinetz, moving into the president's chair at the radio group owner.

We haven't said much about this, since we don't know how the move will affect the company's local outlet. OMW has reported for some time that it's believed the WHBC stations are heading for a sale...the configuration of such sale yet to be determined.

But...we're watching for signs of any change in direction at NextMedia, and will pass them along as we hear them...

WB NOSTALGIA: When a TV station changes networks, the old network's logo items aren't really worth keeping around (except for collectors), so Cleveland market WB Network affiliate WBNX/55 is giving them away in a "blowout".

You have to sign up for the giveaway contest, and tell the station your favorite show on The WB. As per usual with such things, we're sure WBNX will hang onto your information to try to sell you on all those great new shows on The CW...which include many former WB favorites, by the way.

The new CW Network will sign on, officially, on September 20th...with staggered premieres of new shows over the following week...