Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Random Tuesday Stuff

More followups and day-end stuff:

FISH SALE?: We're having a very hard time grasping this, due to the company's general mission, but...

An anonymous birdie tips us off that Salem's Cleveland Christian contemporary outlet WFHM/95.5 "The Fish" is rumored to be on the sale block, for a price of about $20 million...at least if the rumblings bouncing around the market are correct.

The CCM "Fish" format is one of the company's mainstays, along with the Christian teaching/talk format (WHKW/1220) and secular conservative talk format (WHK/1420). We have no idea why the local Salem cluster would want to let the station go, or if there's anything else behind this rumor, so we're just throwing it out there to see if anyone else has heard it. Other than the tip we just received, we have not heard it ourselves...

ABOUT WJER-FM: We've had a long discussion about it in the comments section of our original item about the construction permit for WJER-FM/101.7, tied to its new community of license of North Canton.

And we've pretty much nailed down what's been talked about there - 101.7 will indeed camp out at the facility on Canton's 22nd Street, a short drive off of Whipple Avenue just west of downtown Canton.

From satellite photos, there appear to be two towers there:

1) The tower we've heard called the "Mortenson tower", the long-existing structure there. It's called that for good reason...Mortenson Broadcasting, which still exists in Kentucky, actually still owns the tower according to the FCC's Antenna Structure Registration database. Cumulus rock WRQK/106.9 "Rock 107" is located here.

2) A second, newer tower that we're told is the location of Melodynamic's WCER/900. The only problem with this scenario is that the aforementioned antenna database shows WCER still being on the "Mortenson tower". (This could well be an error in the FCC online database.)

Cumulus has a construction permit to move WRQK to a new tower at the same site, which has a registration number but has not yet been built.

We understand that 101.7 FM will land on the current WRQK "Mortenson tower", and presumably move with that station to the replacement tower when it is constructed.

We are starting to get in the habit of not calling 101.7 "WJER". The call letters will certainly not move north with the station, and will stay on AM 1450 in Dover...

FOX 8'S NEW MORNING SHOW: We've talked about this for a long time, based on rumors in the industry and on other sites...but it's now official. FOX is launching a new national morning show for all of its owned-and-operated stations, which includes Cleveland's WJW/8.

The new show starts January 2007, and stars Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy of FOX News Channel's "Dayside".

However, the show is not aimed at replacing the popular local morning news shows at the company's O&O stations, including FOX 8 News in the Morning. It'll be an hour long program, airing at 9 AM weekdays. On WJW, Tyra Banks' talk show is the current occupant of that slot...

QUINN AND ROSE SUB: OMW hears (from people who get up early) that WPGB/Pittsburgh-based "Quinn and Rose" have tabbed former WEWS/5 weatherman and regular WTAM/1100 fill-in host Brad Sussman to fill in for them this week.

We're not sure how that connection happened, but we're guessing it was Kevin Metheny to Jay Bohannon in your radio baseball scorecards. WPGB program director Bohannon was WTAM's production director before coming to the Steel City, and of course, Metheny is Clear Channel's regional programming VP based in Cleveland...

"The Warroom" is heard not only on WPGB, Clear Channel's FM talker at 104.7, but also on Akron's WHLO/640 and Wheeling's WWVA/1170, along with channel 167 ("Talk Radio") on XM Satellite Radio...


Johnny Morgan said...

The Fish sale makes even less sense than Craig Karmazin buying WABQ.

But I have no doubt that 95.5 could get $20 million--in fact, to be honest, I'm willing to bet that it might fetch more. It is a superb facility, with full-market coverage.

The only thing that might keep the price down is the fact that the big boys, for the most part or either capped out (Clear Channel) or are selling nationwide (CBS), or don't have the need or want for another station (Radio One, Cumulus, etc.)

Oh, what I wouldn't give for the great man upstairs to send $20 million back into Bob Conrad's lap, free of charge...

Jim3WEOhio said...

brad sussman should change his name to brad snoozeman

oh what a horrible show

he sounds like a nice guy

my dad is a nice guy but you do not hear my dad hosting a radio show

Ohio Media Watch said...

I'm just gonna throw this out here for fun, Johnny.

Is $20 million within Craig Karmazin's budget?


It'd sure as hell solve his 1540 signal problems...

Just wanted to clarify, that we've heard nothing over the transom about this. Heck, even the original tip is just a very unconfirmed rumor.

With 95.5, Craig wouldn't NEED 1540!

I'm not sure we'd slot this one as even remotely likely, but I'm gonna throw it to the electrons in case we're shocked...


Johnny Morgan said...


The idea passed my mind, of Karmazin buying the Fish...

But honestly, if he could negotiate with Salem for 850 for less, wouldn't he save himself the dough? Surely 850's going for less than $20 mil (of course, who knows--those folks spent $10 mil on WHK, so who knows?)

This is just really really confusing. Pretty soon, I'm tempted to get all these news stories screwed up such that Action News 850 dropped the Browns!

Of course, I challenge anyone to tell me the difference between WKNR and Action News.

Ohio Media Watch said...

You're right, of course, Johnny. The comment/joke/fantasy was only made in light of our one anonymous, unsourced tip about WFHM, which we're told has some legs in the market.

I find it hard to see Salem A) even selling 95.5 or B) breaking off two stations from their cluster (850 and 95.5). Their only full-power FM and their second most powerful AM...gone. It's hard to see.

Just a thought along those same fantasy lines, though...the owner of the Washington Redskins just started up a three-signal rimshot sports talker in that market, with an in-city AM with puny night signal flanked by two FM signals.

Would Karmazin see FM as the Wave of the Sports Radio future, and see a full-market FM (95.5) as a giant advantage here? Would Salem even SELL the signal to him if they were presumably keeping 850 as a sports talker? Why set up your competitor with a better, FM signal?

Let's untangle some of the speculation.

* Karmazin has no history with full-market large city FM sports stations. (That doesn't mean he can't start.) His FM sports talker in Madison, an FSR affiliate, is a rimshot.

* We have no idea if $20 million is in his price range, but it'd be moderately affordable for a top-20 market full-signal FM facility.

I'm also wondering if Bob Conrad could get $20 million and buy back the place. Remember, didn't he sell off WHK/1420 back to Salem for about $10 mill? (Well, "he" being whatever arm of WCLV and the foundation that held the license to 1420...)

All of the above is pure speculation, not even ready for the main blog...and we're not even sure about the original rumor in the first place.


Pat Cloonan said...

Thank you ... I wondered who the heck Brad Sussman is ... He seems, most of the time, to have control of what he's doing ... Usually Quinn and Rose use local talent ... I'm thinking such individuals as Dimitri Vassilaros (one-time WWVA morning man) and Marty Minto (one-time WORD-FM afternoon host best known in some circles for questioning Pope John Paul II's salvation at the time of the pope's death) ... In short, further proof conservative talk radio is hardly the monolith some think it to be.

Anonymous said...

Cumulus has Canton and Toledo...but not Cleveland. It would be a fit. And they're in "buying mode".

And...just theorizing...What if (drumroll)... NextMedia is selling so that Carl Hirsch, former owner of WMMS, WMJI and WHK, (and WQAL at one time) can return to C-Town. Wouldn't that be a hoot! And if he would??? You can bet Gorman would be the OM/PD....depending on the format. Hirsh might even lure millionaire friend, and former WMJI GM Dean Thacker back to working hours.

Tim Lones said...

I have my doubts that The Fish is going anywhere based on Salem's past track record unless they can somehow come up with an even bigger signal for "The Fish"..That being said this is shaping up as the most exciting time in Cleveland/Northeast Ohio broadcast circles since the July 2001 swap..

Anonymous said...

here is a ch 19 update. http://www.cleveland.com/search/index.ssf?/base/sports/1153298393167000.xml?s1bro&coll=2

Johnny Morgan said...

Cumulus is in Toledo, Youngstown, Canton...everywhere BUT Cleveland. And there must be a reason for that. A single FM--for which Cumulus would pay $20 million or more--does that fit into their strategic plans?

But what I wouldn't GIVE to see Hirsch, Thacker, and Gorman back in the saddle at a Cleveland station. Almost as much as I'd give to see 95.5 go back to Bob Conrad and the WCLV Foundation.

Anonymous said...

Salem giving up the Fish wouldn't be unprecentented. They swapped their Chicago CCM outlet to Univision in exchange for WIND-AM (which took their OTHER bread-and-butter format of conservatalk)

If they give up 95.5 (which would be pretty stupid, IMHO) it would have to be part of a massive station swap second only to the 2001 Great Freq Swap. And wouldn't it be fun if:

1) WCLV retured to 95.5 under the protection of the WCLV Foundation,
2) the CCM format moved to WKNR (Ah, hell... why not?),
3) R-D moved to 1540 under Disney ownership,
4) Good Karma got WWMK for his ESPN-sports talker.

- Nathan Obral

Marty said...

According to the New York Times, WJW is producing their own 9AM show so 'DaySide' will be bumped to 10 A.M. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/19/arts/television/19fox.html

Also as I'm sure OMW knows, Salem is rumored to be selling their Christian CHR station in D.C. to Red Zebra so they can expand their sports coverage. Their are differences since WAVA is not a strong player in D.c in may different ways but it is an eerie coincidence.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Addressing a few points:

1) I don't think Salem's CCM in Chicago was gaining much traction or getting any real ratings. The Fish does well enough in Cleveland that we'd be talking about a whole other ballgame.

2) I've seen the WAVA rumors in DC. (BTW, it's not a CCM, it's their teaching/talk outlet, an FM clone of WHKW/1220). It seems to be a hot rumor in DC, though it hasn't come true yet, and the sports talk combo in question launched Tuesday without that signal. There is a possibility they'll lease time on WAVA for Redskins games only.

Salem has an AM in the market (same calls at 780), but it's not a big signal and it's a daytimer. The FM (105.1) is a really good full-market signal.

3) I'm still going back to my original thought. I find it hard to fathom that Craig Karmazin's final move in Cleveland is putting ESPN Radio on 1540 AM.


Ohio Media Watch said...

About the FOX Morning Show thing - thanks for the tip...we found the article a few minutes earlier and have already posted an update:



Johnny Morgan said...

Speaking of that Fox Morning Show...

Is there anyway the Primary Editorial Voice could place that picture of Juliet Huddy at the top of the blog, as part of the permanent OMW banner? Sort of like St. Huddy, the patron saint of Media Blogs?

I would be forever grateful!

Anonymous said...

The Fish is Salem's baby. No way that gets sold.

If Salem is looking to unload a station, it has to be WKNR, which sticks out like a sore thumb when lined up with Salem's other stations.

Anonymous said...

Could WKNR fetch $20 mil? Perhaps, let's say that WCLV bought WKNR for that price as a AM relay...

- Nathan Obral

Johnny Morgan said...

March 8, 2000:

"Salem Communications Corporation, the leading provider of Christian-oriented radio, electronic and printed resources, announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement with Clear Channel Communications to acquire radio stations KEZY(AM) and KXMX(FM) in Los Angeles, California; KDGE(FM) in Dallas, Texas; KALC(FM) in Denver, Colorado; WKNR(AM) and WRMR(AM) in Cleveland, Ohio; and WBOB(AM) and WYGY(FM) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Salem will pay $185.6 million in cash for the stations."

That's the best info I could find, and doubtless only internal CC/Salem documents (if any) contain a station by station breakdown. But, let's be extemely generous and divide the price equally among the 8 stations: that's $23.2 million a piece.

WKNR, worth $23.2 million.

Six years ago.

As we know, for the most part, station market price has gone down--except for Salem, which appears to pass the collection plate around to afford $10 million for the likes of 1420.

But it is 50kw days; second-best (some say the best) daytime signal. Newest transmitter facility in the city, and newest ground system.

Hampers, though: huge nulls west and SE (well into Akron), and limited nighttime signal.

Could it fetch $20 million? Possible--but in that case, you bet your ass that 95.5 is worth MORE than $20 mil!

Anonymous said...

Salem just sold their ("fish-like") music station 106.5 in Jacksonville, FL...

Neil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Neil said...

Brad Sussman has filled in for Quinn & Rose before. Nothing new.