Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Sorts of Upheaval

Ever notice that some days in news about media are just volatile? This is one of those days.

CINCINNATI CHANGES: It's been more than one of those days in Ohio's Queen City, with even MORE changes than expected on - and off - the local radio dial.

Cincinnati Enquirer radio/TV guru John Kiesewetter sums it up best in his latest blog entry.

Here's your lineup of Apple Cart Tipping in the Cincinnati radio market:

* Entercom and Cumulus swap two FM stations. Country WYGY/94.9 "Star" moves over to Entercom, which sends oldies WGRR/103.5 to Cumulus.

The move reunites country stations WYGY and WUBE/105.1 "B105", only this time with the name "Entercom" on the front door.

Note, of course, that until recently this would have been a CBS/Susquehanna swap. But Cumulus took over the old Susquehanna stations, and Entercom is in the process of doing so with CBS Radio's Cincinnati properties.

* Entercom doesn't technically have the keys to the CBS Radio stations in Cincy, but they're calling some personnel shots already.

Five staffers at alt-rocker WAQZ/97.3 have been let go, apparently under the direction of the incoming management. The station's music director, afternoon drive personality, midday personality, promotions director and morning show producer are out.

Unlike the Rumors from Every Corner that Wilks Broadcasting plans major budget-related cuts at its acquisitions in Columbus, this would appear to foreshadow a format change for WAQZ.

The Entercom/CBS deal in Cincinnati and other markets has cleared the Federal Trade Commission, but still needs to go through FCC approval.

* Kiesewetter also reports that "The Twilight Zone" is airing on the former home of country WYGY, 96.5, in preparation for the previously reported talk format.

We're pretty sure that's it for Cincinnati's radio changes today, though we could have missed something...

CANTON'S NEWS: This one isn't related to radio/TV, but since we've touched on changes at the Akron Beacon Journal...here's your bombshell just south on 77.

Copley Ohio Newspapers, the local arm of the Copley newspaper chain, is being put up for sale.

The papers being sold include the venerable Canton Repository, its sister papers the Massillon Independent and Dover/New Philadelphia's Times-Reporter, plus the weekly Suburbanite based in Summit County's Green.

From that story in the Repository, it looks like Copley could eventually sell everything but its big city jewel, the San Diego Union-Tribune.

And we're guessing that the Copley Ohio folks (not to be confused with the Akron suburb) are hoping that a certain new owner of the Akron Beacon Journal isn't interested in taking over, given the newsroom bloodbath that took place on East Exchange Street a while back...

NOD TO OMW: Speaking of a Copley newspaper, OMW hears that we were invoked in the aforementioned Times-Reporter today.

May we quote a reference to ourselves? Certainly:

Work continues on the site at Canton that eventually will be the antenna tower for the move of WJER-FM 101.7 from Dover.

According to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, the new 6KW station will be based off 22nd St. NW and Whipple Ave. at Canton. The new WRQK/106.9 tower also will include the antenna for 101.7.

It appears that the tree clearing work prior to winter is complete, according to information on the Ohio Media Watch blog.

That reminds us. We're due for another trip down to Whipple Avenue and 22nd Street soon.

And our nod back to Times-Reporter business editor Lee Morrison, who we know has been reading our work in one form or another for some time, and who we assume is the uncredited writer behind this article in the T-R's business section.

Anything we can do to help...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Random Items Not Related to Sports Radio

At the risk of it getting around here like it was during the SportsTime Ohio launch, when we had four items in a row about that particular news item, we'll break up the ESPN Radio 1540 flow with some random items:

CLEAR CHANGES?: We haven't said much about this major national business news story for good reason...we don't know how it'll affect the dozens of Clear Channel stations within our editorial reach in Ohio and nearby markets.

But yes, the San Antonio-based radio giant has confirmed that it is looking into going off Wall Street and going private. A number of reports, including this one in New York Newsday, say that a number of private equity buyout firms are sniffing at the prospect.

Since we don't have a business editor here at OMW, we don't have much to say about it...and we don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing for the on-air and off-air professionals working at the various Ohio outlets of the company. But we felt we had to mention it...

BYE, BYE LONDON LISTENERS: Like many full-power Cleveland stations, Clear Channel oldies WMJI/105.7 has enjoyed a secondary listenership across Lake Erie, particularly in the London ONT area.

It's a fairly straight shot across the lake into Canada, and we know WMJI and other Cleveland stations have acknowledged the Canadian audience occasionally over the years.

Those days might be in the past for some WMJI listeners under the Maple Leaf flag.

Our colleague Scott Fybush reports at NorthEast Radio Watch this week that a new signal in the works for the London area is proposing to set up shop on 105.7, moving from an application to use 91.1 due to flack from a Toronto station on that frequency.

Since WMJI is obviously a non-protected service there, Canadian listeners wanting to hear "Majic 105.7" may eventually have to go online to listen to the station's webcast...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Just A Brief Followup on "ESPN Radio 1540"

UPDATE 10/30/06 9:02 AM: Listening to "ESPN Radio 1540" from this far away is like trying to listen to a station from a foreign country. But we've heard enough this morning to pick out that as we expected, Aaron Goldhammer is doing local "ESPN SportsCenter" updates for the new Cleveland ESPN Radio affiliate.

Goldhammer and Bernard Bokanyi, who will do the afternoon updates, were already on the station's website doing interviews...


We'd written a whole "handicapping its chances and predicting its future" post about newly-debuted Good Karma sports outlet (to-be)WWGK/1540 Cleveland "ESPN Radio 1540", when we decided to hold off a while.

We've giving the place a little too much press, some feel...including some folks whose professional opinion we respect.

Well, OK, we do tend to go overboard when a new station debuts, and this one is in one of our regular formats (news/talk/sports).

We'll hold back on the previously written follow-up, and simply note that we agree: The station isn't going to even cause minor tremors at a certain sports radio facility on Broadview Road, at least as long as it's a 1000 watt daytimer a large portion of the market can't hear clearly, or even at all.

So, if you're sick of reading about it, we'll just do this brief item, and note that we've been sent what looks like a press release for "ESPN Radio 1540" anchor/reporter Bernard Bokanyi.

It looks "real" to us, but we can't verify it, since it was posted anonymously as a comment to our previous item.

If it's correct, Bokanyi will take the afternoon local update anchor slot on the new station - the opposing number, if you will, to WKNR/850 (via Metro Networks) afternoon update anchor Daryl Ruiter.

Bokanyi is also listed as "covering the Buckeyes and Browns beats", and whoever wrote it seems to think he's basically an acting co-Program/Sports Director due to his other operational duties at the new station.

He was, as we noted earlier, a producer/update anchor at Sporting News Radio, and it appears he started in sports radio (out of the Ohio Center for Broadcasting) as a board operator at WKNR.

The release notes that Bokanyi "might host" some weekend local programming at some point, though no other details are given.

We do expect Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin to slot local programming on the station at some point, probably in afternoon drive (at least eventually).

We also repeat...with a 1000 watt daytime only signal, it may not matter much right now...and remind readers that the sports radio format as a rule is a niche format. WKNR's certainly has done better, but much of that was during its run as the Indians flagship station in the 1990s.

And in many markets, including all three of Good Karma's existing sports radio markets (Milwaukee and Madison in Wisconsin, and West Palm Beach FL), all the sports radio operators appear to be fighting valiantly over what amounts to one share 12-plus.

In Milwaukee, Mr. Karmazin has the same problem he has now in Cleveland. The major competition for his WAUK/1510-WMCS/1290 there is not Entercom "full-time" sports outlet WSSP/1250, but two news/talk/sports outlets - Journal's WTMJ/620 and Clear Channel's WISN/1130.

So, we'll see.

In the current configuration, it's hard to imagine any success...but we've always said we don't believe this is the final position for Mr. Karmazin in Cleveland.

And if you think we went on long here, you should have seen the post we did not put up...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Cleveland's ESPN Radio 1540" Is Here

OMW hears that the ESPN Radio format has debuted on "Cleveland's ESPN Radio 1540".

And even if you're not within the station's 1000 watt signal range, anyone will notice the rather extensive website which has now popped up at ESPNCleveland.com.

Color us impressed.

The site is very similar to the website for Good Karma Broadcasting's other ESPN Radio outlet, ESPNMilwaukee.com. Some details we've noticed:

NEW CALLS AND INFO: The "Advertising" page notes that the station's new calls will be WWGK. (We'll presume that's for "Good Karma".) For now, the station is legally WBKC, having taken those calls from Dale Edwards' facility at 1460/Painesville.

It also lists the station's dial position, even at launch, as "1540 Days". The site does not appear to be a direct copy of the Milwaukee site, so it wouldn't seem that this was just something they copied over from there. We're still wondering about Mr. Karmazin's efforts to find a nighttime signal.

PROGRAMMING: To that end, the station's program schedule is also listed. It has the usual ESPN Radio lineup, plus...

"The Steve and Craig Show" is on the schedule from 7 PM to 8 PM. With solely the 1540 signal, the show will not actually air in Cleveland at launch - since the station signs off before it begins.

Says the site:

The Steve and Craig Show is a wacky combination of sports talk, comedy and off-beat antics featuring local and national celebrities. Listeners are entertained by the duo’s mix of humor, guests, games, and debates over the topic of the day.

Despite the note about "local" celebrities, this is not a local show. And those guessing about the identity of the "Craig" in the show's name are correct.

Yes, that's Craig Karmazin, the mastermind behind this entire operation and the sole owner of Good Karma Broadcasting.

"The Steve and Craig Show" has been on the air on Craig's sports stations since 1998. We believe it started at Good Karma's first sports outlet, the FM sports talker in Madison now known as "FOX Sports Radio 100.5". It also airs on the sports talker Karmazin owns in the West Palm Beach FL market.

The Good Karma boss apparently started on-air as one-half of a show called "The Wacky Interns" at Philadelphia's iconic sports talk WIP/610, his current co-host being the other half..

A curious item is listed in Karmazin's bio in the ESPN Cleveland "on-air" section, which does not tell listeners that he owns the place:

He has spent the last nine years living in Wisconsin and has recently moved to downtown Cleveland, where he is excited to be within walking distance of three major sports teams.

He's moved here?!?! Wow. (Well, at least in downtown Cleveland, he'd also be within listening distance of his new station's not-so-great signal.)

STREAMING AUDIO - NOT YET: The station trumpets streaming audio with links throughout the new ESPNCleveland.com website.

But we didn't go through the motions of signing up for the station's "club" to get to the stream, because an OMW reader told us that for now, all you get after telling them what local team you want to win a championship is - a link to ESPNRadio.com.

OTHER AUDIO AND STAFF: The ESPN Cleveland "Audio" page already has interviews with Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, and Browns defensive rookie star Kamerion Wimbley.

The interviews were conducted by Aaron Goldhammer and Bernard Bokenyi.

A quick Google search shows Goldhammer as a producer for the company's Steve "The Homer" True show and the aforementioned "Steve and Craig" show. Bokenyi had a long run at Sporting News Radio as a producer and update anchor, until losing his job last year due to cutbacks at the ailing sports radio network...

Anyway, as we said, impressive for a debut site. We'll have to see how the radio product pans out, and what local touches Good Karma adds to the syndicated product which now airs...

Friday, October 27, 2006

The OMW FM Talk Watch Inches Closer

Just days after word that Cumulus Cincinnati station WYGY/96.5 is set to flip to a talk format as its country format moves to 94.9 FM, we get word of another FM talk flip in Ohio. And this one has already happened.

A simulcast of Cox news/talk WHIO/1290 Dayton has supplanted the "Point" 80s music format formerly heard on the company's WDPT/95.7 Piqua, under the on-air name "AM 1290 and 95.7 FM - News/Talk Radio WHIO".

The station talks about it on the front of its website:

Cox Radio Dayton announced today that WHIO now expands its signal coverage by adding FM. The station which broadcasts on AM 1290 can now be heard on 95.7 FM. The FM signal is 50,000 watts which is the maximum allowed by the FCC. News-Talk Radio WHIO features local weather, traffic, and news. Our award winning morning news program, "Miami Valley Morning News" is the area's only all news morning show with longtime Dayton personalities Larry Hansgen and Jim Barrett.

That "50,000 watts/maximum allowed by the FCC" thing is a bit of a misnomer. For one, as noted above, the class B station is licensed well north of Dayton in Piqua. It even once used to refer to its "Northside" status on the air. (And for another, that's not even counting big class C signals pushing out 100,000 watts-plus in other parts of the country.)

That said, a talk format with the stereo signal turned off could well be the best use of such a rimshot signal.

Like in many other cases, the FM station being flipped was not exactly burning up the ratings, showing up in the mid-to-back of the Dayton 12-plus pack.

Meanwhile, over at the website formerly devoted to "Dayton's Point", a large WHIO logo greets visitors with this message:

You have reached the former page of 95.7 The Point WDPT Radio. We want to thank you for supporting The Point throughout the years. The 95.7 frequency has become WHIO-FM. The great news and talk programming of WHIO will now be available on FM.

If you're looking for great music from the 70's and 80's please try our sister station 95.3 The Eagle.

We know this brings up our usual "when will it happen in Cleveland?" question, or for that matter, even Columbus. We know both markets have had long-standing rumors of FM talk formats, and both markets were apparently once very close to getting such a station.

But in Cleveland, it may be a matter of evolution over revolution.

Both Clear Channel and CBS Radio (once Infinity) have been the subject of behind-the-scenes rumors and rumblings of such changes here. But take a look at the result so far - both clusters have at least one FM station with talk radio programs in both drive-time dayparts.

Clear Channel accomplished this with the recent addition of Premiere syndicated morning show "Bob and Tom" to rock WMMS/100.7. OK, so there's kind of an asterisk here, because afternoon driver Maxwell does play music. But he's more talk-laden than most rock stations' afternoon shows.

Except for CBS Radio's WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock", that is, which features all-talk afternoon drive (delayed) team "Opie and Anthony" to bookend locally-based syndicated morning talker Shane "Rover" French's show.

But of course, this is different from this actual event: the traditional style of talk radio also migrating to the FM dial...the style heard for some 30-plus years, for example, on Akron market talker WNIR/100.1.

This is a different animal, but the train is moving just as fast as, if not faster than, lifestyle/comedy/shock "FM talk", with WHIO's move probably one of the first such moves in Ohio...

BREAKING NEWS: Joe Finan Out at "Radio Free Ohio"

Midday local talk show host Joe Finan is out at Clear Channel liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron "Radio Free Ohio".

A station press release touts its "new fall lineup" with the full three hours of Jones Radio's Stephanie Miller show, and the full three hours of Air America Radio's Al Franken show. The change takes effect today, with Miller's show already airing in the former Finan time slot.

Finan has been completely removed from the "Radio Free Ohio" website, including from the list of hosts and from the station's weekday schedule.

Finan joined WARF earlier this year, after retiring from his long-time radio home - MediaCom talk WNIR/100.1 - at the end of 2004.

More as we find out more...

Cavaliers in Da Burgh

The NBA Cleveland Cavaliers continue to test the TV waters in Pittsburgh.

McKeesport Daily News writer Patrick Cloonan - a regular OMW reader - passes along an article of his featured in the paper's sports section on Thursday. (For whatever reason, it's not on the Daily News' website.)

He writes that the Cavaliers will once again be seen on FOX Sports Net Pittsburgh on a limited basis. The cable network will feature 16 Cavs games - ten from Quicken Loans Arena, and six on the road. Five of the games will be in HDTV, starting on November 7th when the Cavaliers play the Atlanta Hawks.

Cloonan also notes that new Cavaliers TV voice Fred McLeod is a graduate of Point Park College, and formerly worked for WSTV/9 in nearby Steubenville OH (now WTOV).

He also passes along something that's not in the article. The former over-air home of Cavaliers basketball in the Pittsburgh market, low-power WBGN-LP/59, will not carry the team this year.

WBGN would, presumably, have rights to the five over-air games Raycom Media MyNetworkTV affiliate WUAB/43 will simulcast this year...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Another Casey Update

This one courtesy of Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Michael Heaton, who's been doing an occasional series on WTAM/1100 sports voice Casey Coleman and his battle with pancreatic cancer...

And the news, unfortunately, is not good.

In today's piece, Heaton spotlights Casey's road to personal recovery from alcohol addiction. He tells the story not many outside the broadcast industry actually knew, of the hard-charging former TV anchor slamming down booze enough to be arrested for DUI, and to be diagnosed as a "full-blown alcoholic" when he entered treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.

A turn to 12-step programs, and faith, brought him around and out of that addiction. It's that story that will be shown to addicts on a DVD Coleman showed Heaton for the article.

But...alas, the bad news.

Heaton reports that Coleman says he "feels more frail by the day", and that he feels the diagnosis of having six months to live back in June is "fairly right on", feeling what he calls a "three ring circus of pain" in his body. It's come to the point that Casey, as he puts it, is "hopeful to see January".

A miracle? One can still hope...

The 1540/1460 Call Swap

It's still running Dale Edwards' gospel format, at least as of last night, but...

The station set to adopt Good Karma Broadcasting's ESPN Radio format is now known to the FCC as WBKC. 1540/Cleveland took those calls officially on Tuesday, as outgoing owner Edwards' D&E Communications swapped the WABQ calls to co-owned 1460/Painesville.

That facility has been running gospel music since last week, when it broke from a simulcast with classical WCLV/104.9 Lorain.

It's probably a safe guess that Good Karma's Craig Karmazin doesn't intend on keeping the WBKC calls, unless he just doesn't care what the call letters are on his new facility - which will be known by its on-air moniker "ESPN Cleveland". He did keep the calls on his main Milwaukee sports outlet, WAUK/1510 Waukesha WI...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

An Open Letter to Craig Karmazin

Sometime in the next few days, or sooner, Good Karma Broadcasting debuts Cleveland's second all-sports radio station, WABQ/1540 "ESPN Cleveland". As far as we know, it'll only debut on the 1,000 watt 1540 daytime frequency, despite reports that Good Karma president Craig Karmazin had been talking with Radio One about leasing nighttime hours on talk WERE/1300.

Here at OMW, we have no idea if Mr. Karmazin has found your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

We know he's apparently been in contact with outgoing Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown, so he at least has some inkling about the Northeast Ohio media landscape, and those who cover it.

We also don't know if he's aware of the wide reach we have here, or the fact that we're read by folks at just about every major media cluster in the region...not to mention thousands of sports fans who are not working at any media outlet.

Therefore, we have no idea if he'll read this Open Letter...but...that's never stopped us before.


Dear Mr. Karmazin,

Welcome to Cleveland.

You're about to undertake an effort of some significance in Northeast Ohio. You'll provide the first reasonably competitive sports radio voice in a market which really, really needs it.

You're a smart broadcaster, so we won't give you the basics. You already know the criticism which has been leveled at your full-time competition, Salem's WKNR/850. We decided long ago not to list all the things which aren't done right at that operation, and we're sure it didn't take you long to figure it out.

We're sure you already know that Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 is really the sports powerhouse in the market, despite devoting the bulk of its daytime hours to news/talk programming.

What we'd like to know: What are YOU going to do?

You're about ready to launch. You can tell us the general gameplan for "ESPN Cleveland".

Do you plan any local programming?

Do you plan to go after any sports contracts? If you're not going after the long-term deals for the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers, firmly locked in at the Clear Channel World Domination HQ on Oak Tree for the next gazillion years, what DO you plan to pursue in the market? Will you make a serious bid for the Cleveland rights to Ohio State sports whenever WKNR's contract expires? Do you have any other contracts in mind?

But the biggest question of all regards your signal.

You made no secret of your desire to put the ESPN Radio nighttime programming on Radio One's WERE... to the point of drafting this logo with "1300 Nights" on it, a la your Milwaukee dual-signal situation.

It now appears that's either gone, or has been taken out of the consideration.

What's next?

OMW has repeatedly enlisted the help of radio professionals - including the outgoing engineer for your own new facility - to indicate that there's not a lot of room to upgrade the 1000 watt daytime signal at 1540. Do you see the ability to improve the signal at least into one that can be heard west of I-77 or south of I-480 clearly? Or do you have something else in mind?

We helpfully note rumors that appeared last month on ProFootballTalk.com, that ESPN was not happy with the two FM rimshot/one AM [mainly] daytimer situation in Washington DC, on its new affiliate "Triple X ESPN Radio". If that was true, one can only imagine how they wouldn't be happy with the AM 1540 signal.

And we also note that Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who owns that "Triple X" trimulcast, has filed to significantly upgrade the AM signal, turning WXTR/730 Alexandria VA into a full-time station with a better signal. It's an option you would not appear to have with WABQ's signal.

We'll give you some leeway if you don't want to play your cards here, Mr. Karmazin. We know, for one, that this missive is read extensively at Salem Two, the Broadview Road facility which houses WKNR's studios.

But we'll say it again - you cannot be competitive, period, with a 1000 watt daytime East Side-only signal. You know this. This can't be your end game.

How much are you willing to talk? Our E-Mail address is conveniently linked on the left side of this report.

And best of luck to you. We'd really like to see the sports radio game get a little more interesting in Northeast Ohio...

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm)
Ohio Media Watch

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tuesday Grab Bag

Just some semi-non-connected items:

NEW STAR TOLEDO PD: The open program director's chair at Cumulus Toledo hot AC WWWM/105.5 "Star 105" has now been filled.

It's Kirk Patrick inbound from his post as OM of the Clear Channel cluster in Missoula MT, a cluster of six stations.

He'll take over the PD/afternoon drive slot once held by Steve Marshall...who ended up taking the same role at Cumulus Toledo sister top 40 station WTWR/98.3 "Tower 98-3"...

WHILE WE'RE IN THE GLASS CITY: Cumulus talk WTOD/1560 program director Chuck Matthews adds two new clients to his burgeoning voiceover business.

In addition to FOX affiliate WXMI/Grand Rapids MI, he'll also lend his voice to NBC affiliate WHIZ/18 Zanesville and its associated radio properties - WHIZ/1240, and for now, WHIZ-FM/102.5.

And while Chuck is a regular OMW reader, he actually credits your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) for that last pickup. It turns out he was made aware of the WHIZ Media Group by our item on the pending move of the company's 102.5 frequency to the outer Columbus exburb of Baltimore.

That'll be 10 percent, Chuck. Heh...

AND A SIDE TO THE LAST ITEM: Something we didn't mention in our last item, reporting the move of Clear Channel country WGAR/99.5 program director Meg Stevens to become the program director at the company's Washington DC and Baltimore MD stations...

We're reminded that she's had contact with one of those stations for a long time.

WGAR voicetracked midday personality "Michael J." is actually the afternoon driver at WPOC in Baltimore, one of the two stations which Stevens will oversee when she moves to the mid-Atlantic.

Michael's WPOC website says he's the assistant program director/music director of the Baltimore country outlet as well. (He's pictured here to the right with his WPOC co-host.)

And we seem to recall that he was once going by the name "Michael J. Foxx" (we're pretty sure he used the extra "x")...at least on WPOC, if not on WGAR...

BREAKING NEWS: WGAR PD to Washington/Baltimore

In the latest change at the Clear Channel World Domination HQ on Oak Tree:

Country WGAR/99.5 programmer Meg Stevens is headed east.

She's been hired as the new program director for a pair of sister Clear Channel country outlets, WMZQ in Washington DC, and WPOC in Baltimore. She replaces the stations' current programmers, George King at WMZQ, and Ken Boesen at WPOC, as the stations fall under the same Clear Channel umbrella thanks to recent changes.

OMW hears Meg's last day at Oak Tree is November 17th...

Monday, October 23, 2006

The FM Talk Watch Finally Hits Ohio

Regular OMW readers know that we've kept an eye on a growing trend - talk radio stations moving to, or starting up, on the FM dial. Ohio has not had one of these stations...but it looks like that's about to change.

Cumulus Media in Cincinnati is apparently close to putting a talk format on the 96.5 signal being abandoned by country WYGY "The Star", which is moving to the former home of the "Mojo" format on 94.9.

How close?

So close that Talk Radio Network apparently couldn't hold it in, and announced the upcoming Cincinnati FM talk station as one of three new affiliates for Erich "Mancow" Muller, the Chicago-based syndicated FM morning host.

Trade website AllAccess reports that despite the presence of the Cow's hot talk morning drive show, the rest of the future 96.5 FM talk lineup in the Queen City is expected to feature more traditional talkers...such as Westwood One's Bill O'Reilly, and two Nashville-based syndicated talkers - afternoon driver Phil Valentine, and money advice guy Dave Ramsey.

In effect, aside from Mancow (who does political talk regularly on FOX News Channel), the lineup looks a lot like Cumulus' standard FM talk lineup. That format is featured on Cumulus stations like WWTN/Nashville, which just so happens to be the home base for both Valentine and Ramsey. Though Cumulus does not syndicate either show, it runs them on a number of its FM talk stations...particularly in the southeast.

Our take: This could show what kind of strength the FM signal brings to the format.

Cincinnati is a very, very crowded talk radio market, with most of it served up by Clear Channel. That company runs four talk stations of various sorts, from full-time local talk (WLW) to mainly syndicated conservative talk (WKRC) to mainly syndicated liberal talk (WSAI) to sports talk (WCKY).

Is there room for another talk radio player in the Cincinnati market, particularly with a lineup that may not really be the strongest talk lineup in the area...even considering stations only running syndication?

We noted the presence of the WCKY sports format in our list of Clear Channel talk outlets for good reason. One other thing Cumulus tends to do with its FM talk stations in the southeast - it adds a decent sports presence, with the station usually running an evening local sports talk show.

They've moved away from that on the company's original large market FM talk station, the aforementioned WWTN/Nashville, but only because Cumulus started an FM sports talk station in the same market.

This could be a very good test to see how a relatively weak FM talk lineup does in a market dominated by another company's AM talk stations...

Various Week Starting Stuff

In no particular order:

WKNR'S ESPN RADIO: Thought Salem sports talk WKNR/850 Cleveland was totally out of the ESPN Radio stable of stations? Think again.

Though the talk radio version of ESPN Radio is set to debut soon on Good Karma Broadcasting daytimer WABQ/1540 in the Cleveland market, former ESPN Radio outlet WKNR ran ESPN Radio's World Series play-by-play over the weekend.

It's not really a surprise.

For one, unless Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin is ready to pull a nighttime signal out of his hat - or if he hasn't lost the potential deal with Radio One WERE/1300 as suspected - the nighttime World Series contests could not possibly air on the new station.

And in other markets, ESPN has given the games to stations which are not otherwise affiliated with the network's regular talk radio output. The rights are clearly able to be separated, though the incumbent ESPN affiliate likely has the right of first refusal.

It's just odd that one of ESPN's supposed reasons for wanting out of its deal with WKNR was the station's refusal to air evening play-by-play...and now, WKNR is airing that...

AND WHILE WE'RE DEALING WITH KARMA, GOOD OR OTHERWISE: Outgoing Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown noted on Sunday that it appears "unlikely" that the aforementioned WABQ/1540 would be firing up the ESPN Radio StarGuide by today, the date that Mr. Karmazin apparently told Roger - directly - that the flip would happen.

We don't know what's holding things up. Former WABQ owner Dale Edwards has already planted gospel on his WBKC/1460 Painesville, as we reported earlier. We can only guess that something like contracts from brokered time buyers at 1540 are in the way of Karmazin flipping on the ESPN switch.

And since we are out of range of both WABQ and WBKC, even on a good day, we depend on you, our readers, to let us know of changes at those stations...particularly if you're on Cleveland's East Side...

A LIBERAL DOSE OF LIBERAL TALK: The only usual local programming on Clear Channel liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron "Radio Free Ohio" is provided by veteran talker Joe Finan weekdays from 11 AM to 1 PM. For about five hours on Sunday, that expanded - if only for one day.

"Radio Free Ohio" has been advertising its own role in the recently announced national contest to find "America's Next Liberal Talk Star".

On Sunday, it gave five novices a chance to win $1000, and be anointed the local entry in the nationwide contest...to be held in Washington DC. The winner will supposedly be presented with his or her own syndicated radio show.

We didn't know the Sunday event was happening, so we missed the live shows, but WARF is offering downloadable audio from each of the five would-be hosts - and a chance to vote on them - on the station's website.

We'll leave it to our readers to decide if plucking a member of the general public out of nowhere and positioning them as "the next star" will work for those fronting the national contest.

Remember, the job of replacing WARF's own Joe Finan on his former station was turned into an "Akron Idol" contest, with a nobody presumably set to be tapped to take over afternoon drive on long-time Finan home station WNIR/100.1.

Well, that is, until a former Cleveland Browns player with radio experience became the "ringer" in that contest...and took over the shift. Not that we have anything against Bob Golic, but his presence quickly shone light on the fact that the Media-Com folks didn't have the slightest clue about how they'd replace Finan...

STREAMING ALONG: We have yet to note the two latest radio stations south of the Akron/Canton Airport doing live Internet streaming...so, let's fix that temporary oversight.

First up is D.A. Peterson top 40 outlet WZKL/92.5 Alliance, better known as "Q92". It's streaming live off a link on the Q92Radio.com website.

For those new to the region wondering how they get the "Q" out of "WZKL"...

The station was once known as WDJQ...and when it couldn't get those call letters back due to them being allocated to the Coast Guard, the Q folks apparently gave up on trying to find other call letters with "Q" in them. "WZKL" dates back to the station's days as oldies "Kool 92".

Then, it's a station featured frequently in OMW due to its upcoming changes.

That's right, Clear Channel-owned and Gary Petricola-operated WJER in Dover/New Philadelphia has put up a full time streaming link at its website. The Tuscarawas County outlet has had live streaming for local sports events for some months now, but this link is now operating 24/7.

AND THAT BRINGS US TO WJER-FM: And yes, that could be another sign that Petricola is about 2-3 months away from losing his main FM signal in the move to the Clear Channel World Domination HQ/Southern Command on Freedom Avenue in beautiful Jackson Township/North Canton, OH.

To that end, we took another drive - we've been doing it every weekend - past the construction site which will soon sport a new tower for Cumulus rock WRQK/106.9 (also not long away, believe it or not, from Clear Channel ownership), a tower which will also hold the new 101.7 FM antenna when completed.

It appears that the tree clearing work is complete...there was no sign of such equipment this weekend, and there didn't appear to be much more to do in that regard. What needs to be done, as of our visit, is the landscaping/land work that needs to be done before the tower can be erected. We'd still be surprised if steel wasn't going up before December, weather permitting.

The station appears to be mainly simulcasting on AM 1450 and FM 101.7 now, though we did hear one exception. While Saturday's Ohio State-Indiana football game was heard on both stations, Sunday's Cleveland Browns drilling at the hands of the Denver Broncos was not heard on 101.7 FM. The station ran locally-programmed music while AM 1450 carried the Browns.

We're not sure why, other than to wonder if the Browns Radio Network is more strict about these sorts of things.

For one, despite the fact we heard Rubber City rock WONE/97.5 run Browns games earlier this year and promote itself as "Akron's FM Home of the Browns", the station did not run this week's game. It appears WONE can only run the games if a conflict pushes them off sister standards outlet WAKR/1590, and apparently the Cavaliers' pre-season contest on Sunday didn't push the Browns off of WAKR...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

CONFIRMED: R.C. Bauer Leaves WTAM/1100 for Tampa

And exclusive as far as we know, at least as of this writing:

OMW has confirmed that long-time WTAM/1100 news director R.C. Bauer is leaving the Clear Channel Cleveland news/talk powerhouse for a new gig at sister talk WFLA/970 Tampa FL. (We alluded to this item in the entry just below this one, but it was just rumor at the time.)

OMW hears that R.C. will be taking the newly minted role of "Director of Information and Programming Services" at the Florida talker, a title which sounds from the description we've heard basically translates to something like "News Director on Steroids".

In addition to primary responsibility for all news and news-related programming both on the station and online, the job also gives him many other responsibilities in both news and programming.

The 10 year station veteran dates his service there back to the last days of "3WE", before it was rechristened WTAM. He'll start in Florida on November 6th.

His new home station is one of the better known Clear Channel talk outlets in the country. Among other things, WFLA was the original talk radio home of Premiere syndicated host Glenn Beck.

Back home at WTAM, OMW hears that assistant news director Darren Toms is moving up to take the news director position, in what should be a smooth transition at Oak Tree...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Julie Followup - And Other Stuff

We managed to catch up with Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Julie Washington's latest TV/radio column (and then some - though we'll pass on the film-related stuff) on the same day it showed up online...and in a nutshell:

JONESIN' IT AND MOVIN' IT: Julie has more on the arrival - reported here a while ago - of WTOL/11 Toledo reporter Bob Jones at Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5.

WEWS general manager (and former newsroom boss) John Butte calls Jones "one of the top reporters in the state." Not like there's any pressure on the Euclid native as he starts his new job with NewsChannel 5 on Monday...

Ms. Washington also details upcoming moves on "Good Morning Cleveland", which include what may be a temporary change - trading Jack Marschall for Curtis Jackson as co-anchor, with the venerable Marschall back to his original "GMC" post high above Cleveland - in the station's helicopter.

(We're reminded that the move to the GMC co-anchor slot next to Danita Harris was always advertised as a fill-in move for Jack.)

Reporter Paul Kiska will take over weekends for Jackson, and GMC weather anchor Susanne Horgan will take over the chair next to Jackson and Harris more often.

Julie also details two off-camera hires at 3001 Euclid: New managing editor Jim Scott (from KDKA/2 Pittsburgh) takes the open 2nd chair under new news director Steve Hyvonen. New morning executive producer Renee Washington (presumably no relation to the PD TV/radio writer) is inbound from Tampa just in time to get a taste of wet snow, and that moves morning executive producer Julie Roy to a similar role for the station's consumer reporting...

INBOUND AT IDEASTREAM: Washington reports that ideaStream NPR outlet WCPN/90.3 has finally found a local "Morning Edition" voice.

He's Northeast Ohio native Eric Wellman, who's inbound from Harrisburg PA NPR outlet WITF. (And that's a very good news operation for a market that size, so it's probably a good sign for the hire.)

SPOOKY STUFF: And Julie notes the airing of the locally produced "supernatural crime" TV show "Out of Darkness" on Time Warner Cable's channel 17.

The show apparently had a brief exposure, Ms. Washington writes, on Dish Network...though we're trying to figure out what original programming the satellite service even runs.

We're also assuming the airing will only be on the former Adelphia, Cleveland-based system now run by Time Warner Cable...

RANT MODE: We'd have to agree with a reader's assessment - why do so many locally produced high school sports broadcasts on the radio sound so bad, technically?

Even stations which TRY to do it right occasionally battle with awful methods of sending the game back to the station, such as via unequalized analog phone lines, bad cell phone signals, or Marti RPU shots back to the station that suffer from poor signal quality.

We've complained about this before. Given the kind of money local stations make off of high school sports - in Northeast Ohio it's about as close as you can get to an ATM attached to a radio transmitter - why don't they invest the relatively small amount of money to make it sound as good as the rest of the station?

Some local operations get it right...we can't remember the last time we've tuned by Clear Channel's WHLO/640 or WARF/1350 and heard a game delivered on a bad phone line...and Rubber City Radio's WAKR/1590 also seems to pay attention to the audio quality of the broadcast...

AND A RUMOR: This one has been buzzing around for the past week or so, but it's become too loud for us to ignore, and now it's buzzing in our own electronic hive.

Since we haven't confirmed it yet, we'll leave out some details. But it appears that a veteran Northeast Ohio radio news director is getting out of town just in time to avoid winter...and is taking a news and programming job in a top 20 market in the Southeast.

OK, so there aren't a lot of people with that first job description in the first place. (Thank you, death of radio news in America...) But we'll post more details as soon as we nail it down...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Looking Ahead

...to the weekend, as we really need it to be Friday soon. Some new stuff and some old stuff revisited:

OUT OF THE BUILDING: We weren't listening to radio in morning drive today, so we missed what we're told is the second "out of the building" on-air evacuation at the Clear Channel World Domination HQ on Oak Tree in beautiful Independence, Ohio.

We hear that a fire alarm forced Clear Channel outlets to abandon studio for at least part of morning drive. OMW hears WTAM/1100 morning co-host Bill Wills hosted "Wills and Coleman" in the morning via a cell phone from the station's parking lot, and that other CC stations played music out of Prophet. (We wouldn't be surprised, though, if some of the other morning teams tried to get on the air at some point.)

We don't know how long it lasted, but all was back to normal by the time we heard WTAM's Bob Frantz during his 9 AM hour.

We said "second" up above, because we remember a similar situation some months ago which forced WTAM afternoon eating machine Mike Trivisonno out onto the lawn in front of World Domination HQ, to do his show outside while some emergency situation unrelated to the station was being handled inside the building.

Triv should do it more often. For one, being outside the building makes it easy for the various restaurants which regularly deliver food to the show...

ROGER ON TV?: A spotter at the Browns fan website "The Orange and Brown Report" tells us about a message purporting to be from soon-to-be-former Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown.

In it, the online version of Roger scoffs at the suggestion that he'd go to work for Scene, which came up after the weekly newspaper published a parody of Roger's column the online Roger calls a "very poor attempt at humor from a worthless rag of a 'magazine'."

In his own attempt at humor, the OBR user calling himself RogerBrown jokes:

I'm exhausting all of my future career possibilities from the top down, and the Editor of the Wooster Daily Record and the guy in charge of hiring people to clean up the massage parlor rooms in Warren already have rejected my resume.

But here's the more interesting part of the message allegedly from The Artful Roger:

And rest assured, I am in the process of finalizing the details with my soon to be new employer. Cleveland will be able to see my smiling face on television each day as opposed to in print.

Assuming that this online version of Roger is indeed the PD sportswriter - which is tough to do, considering the whole "Scene" parody thing - our only thought is:

Wow, we didn't know "19 Action News" had room for yet another sports personality.

OK, so we don't have any information on this aside from the post allegedly from Roger Brown, but it makes sense to us as a potential TV destination for The Artful Roger...it sounds like something Reserve Square would do. Not that we're ruling out other places...

ESPN-NOT-U: OMW has heard all sorts of rumors about the TV distribution of Saturday's Ohio State-Indiana football clash, which will definitely air on little-distributed cable/satellite network ESPNU.

For one, Time Warner Cable - the dominant cable operator in most Ohio cities, including both Cleveland and Columbus - does not carry ESPNU. TWC also pulled the little "U" brother to the big ESPN network from the lineup of the systems it picked up from Adelphia. And DirectTV offers ESPNU, but only does so on its highest tier of service with other specialty sports networks.

For now, we point you to this AP article, which tells us that the game will also air, delayed, on the Ohio News Network cable channel, at 11 PM on Saturday night.

It also mentions a plan for TWC's Columbus-based Mid-Ohio system to re-air the game later Saturday on an analog channel. The Columbus Dispatch reports that it'll be on analog channel 24, and it sounds like TWC Mid-Ohio will clear the ONN replay of the game on that channel.

There's no word yet if Time Warner will do the same in markets like Akron and Canton, where ONN is only on digital cable (119). On the Cleveland-based Time Warner system formerly owned by Adelphia, ONN sits on analog cable channel 70.

We can NOT, however, confirm that Cleveland MyNetworkTV outlet WUAB/43 will pick up the game - right now, another Big 10 contest (Michigan State/Northwestern) is listed on their official schedule in the same time slot.

That possibility seems unlikely, though, since ESPN is clearly interested in driving interest in its puny "U" brother network using a game involving America's top-ranked college football team.

We also can't confirm rumors that DirecTV will offer ESPNU to all customers for this game, even those who don't pick up the "Premium" package that you normally need to get the network.

We CAN confirm that there are a lot of ticked off Buckeyes fans in Columbus and beyond...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More WBKC/WABQ/WCLV Items - And Roger, Too

Some of the dominoes we've been talking about, regarding changes involving at least three Cleveland market radio stations, are falling.

Since he's the first one who heard the syndicated 24/7 gospel music format "Rejoice - Musical Soul Food" on Painesville's WBKC/1460 - from all the way across town on the other end of Lake Erie in Lorain County - we'll give regular OMW reader/tipster Nathan Obral another nod for catching this on the WCLV website's "What's New" section:


Tuesday, 17 October, 2006

We regret to announce that WCLV's classical music programing is no longer available over WBKC 1460 in Painesville. Cleveland station WABQ has been sold, and the new owners are changing its format to Sports. The previous WABQ owners, who currently also own WBKC have decided to move much of WABQ's gospel and religious programming to WBKC.

WCLV goes on to thank not only current WBKC owner Dale Edwards for hanging onto the simulcast, but former owner Clarence Bucaro for originating it in the first place.

We can't pick up the WBKC signal here at the OMW World Headquarters, so we don't know what's airing now on 1460 in Painesville...but we suspect "Rejoice" wouldn't be a bad guess.

And the other shoe in this could be dropping soon. (There we go with dropping footwear again.)

In one of his last efforts for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, outgoing sports/media columnist Roger Brown says Good Karma Broadcasting's WABQ/1540 Cleveland will start airing the ESPN Radio feed no later than Monday, "possibly sooner".

The Artful Roger notes that WABQ will also pick up NASCAR events, and that it will, apparently, only air the ESPN schedule on its daytime signal.

That would seem to suggest that the proposed deal with Radio One to air ESPN Radio at night on WERE/1300 is dead in the water, at least for now. The deal was once thought to be definite - so much so that Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin even commissioned the "Cleveland's ESPN Radio - 1540 Days / 1300 Nights" logo shown here.

UPDATE 10/18/06 10:05 PM: And thanks to our readers for pointing out what probably should have been obvious to us.

A closer reading of an article published under the Roger Brown byline in the weekly newspaper Cleveland Scene seems to indicate that it's a parody, something the alt-weekly has done before.

That'd certainly explain the items about FOX Sports Net/Shaker Heights native Chris Rose's hair, and the swiveling chairs at SportsTime Ohio. But to the guys and gals responsible for this at "Scene" - no real estate listings? No Ronnie Duncan mentions? You're slipping!

As we pointed out before we realized (thanks to OMW regular reader Johnny Morgan and others) that we were duped by the Scene folks, the weekly newspaper was the outlet which published the now-infamous dissection of Roger and his work at the Plain Dealer back in 2005, a not-very-favorable article by Michael C. Fitzpatrick titled "The Sniper".

Yes, when we're hurried and ready to go out the door to visit family, perhaps OMW is a bit more gullible than we should be...or maybe the Scene folks were more on-target with their parody than they realized...

Here Comes Columbus' Newest Radio Station

While we were looking for Other Things in FCC data, we stumbled upon the now-approved construction permit for WHIZ-FM/102.5 Zanesville to move to Baltimore.

Baltimore as in the small town in Central Ohio, that is, not the more famous one in Maryland.

The FCC gave its blessing to the facilities on October 2nd. The move drags the Zanesville FM clear into the Columbus market, with a proposed transmitter site in northwest Fairfield County, just west of that new COL.

It looks like the 11KW newly-rechristened class B1 station will be one of the better rimshots into Columbus. It isn't quite the full class B move-in that became WLZT/93.3 Ashville, but it looks to have a better signal than a lot of the other suburban-COL'ed rimshots in the Columbus market.

Since WHIZ-FM is now owned by Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting System, the hometown operation which also runs sister WHIZ/1240 and NBC affiliate WHIZ-TV/18, it appears somewhat likely that they'll sell the newly moved FM to a company looking for a new Columbus FM signal...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Yet More Stuff

We're kind of in an unorganized mood this week, so please forgive us for more potpourri... we can't cook, after all:

ROGER'S LEAVING: As hinted and reported here the past week or so, it's now official... Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown will be taking the PD's buyout, designed to reduce the paper's staff to save money.

Roger's not the only PD sportswriter listed in the paper's news blog item on the buyouts. Well-known names like Bob Dolgan and "Railbird" Bob Roberts have also decided to take the offer, along with a number of names in other departments at the PD.

There's no word yet who, if anyone, will take over sports media as a part of their beat at the paper. The baton has occasionally been picked up by PD sports folks like Tony Grossi, and we suppose even Julie Washington will pick up a story or two in the media side of sports.

We also don't know when Roger's last column will run. The PD item notes the buyout departures will be "staggered" between now and the end of the year...

HAROLD MOVES ON: If you've been listening to news radio locally for a while, you may remember the name Harold Mester. The former WTAM/1100 reporter left the Clear Channel Cleveland talker some years ago for the news director post at a station he'd already been heard on via the magic of computer networks, sister talk WISN/1130 Milwaukee.

Mester is now leaving WISN. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tim Cuprisin reports, he'll move into a role as spokesman for local county government in the Brew City. Best to you on your new job, Harold!

IVAN HARVEY PASSES: A note to officially mark (OMW-wise) the passing of veteran Toledo radio newsman Ivan Harvey.

The 82-year-old former WSPD/1370 newsman passed away over the weekend. Most folks in Toledo probably don't remember his time in radio news, as he left the field in 1969 for academia.

The Toledo Blade reports that Harvey was a key player in developing the separate Communications Department at the University of Toledo, which he chaired until his 1975 retirement...

Random Early Week Stuff

Stringing some items together for no apparent reason, other than the fact they're there:

JOE MONDAY-THROUGH-FRIDAY: Or is that "Just the Facts, Ma'am?"

OMW hears that Rubber City Radio Akron country WQMX/94.9 weekender Joe Friday will slide into the open weekday overnight slot.

Joe's been holding down the station's Saturday night request show, and has been with 'QMX for some 6 years.

We see he's already trumpeting the news on his own MySpace site.

WQMX overnights opened up when J.R. Ewing (female version, she didn't get shot in Dallas) moved up to evenings, following the promotion of "Ike the Night Guy" to be the Midday Guy, following the move of midday host Shannon Alexander to her current perch alongside Scott Wynn on the "WQMX Country Club" morning drive show.

At least that's what our Rubber City Radio Free In-House Promotion Scorecard says...

INBOUND FROM TOLEDO: OMW reported it back in August, and it's now about to happen.

Toledo Blade TV/radio columnist Russ Lemmon reports that WTOL/11 reporter Bob Jones is ready to head back home...to Cleveland, for a gig at local ABC affiliate WEWS/5.

Lemmon says the Euclid native "is generally considered to be the best television reporter in Toledo" and specializes in crime and court news.

Jones heads out on Friday having had at least a few weeks to swap stories with new WTOL morning anchor Brad Harvey, who just arrived at the station last month from...umm...WEWS...

NO ARTFUL ROGER: We've noticed the past few breaking local TV sports stories in the Plain Dealer's sports blog have not carried Roger Brown's byline.

And this week, there's no Monday Sports Media column...though Roger did sprinkle a few media items into his Sunday column, including a shot at WTAM/1100 afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno for the lack of ratings "oomph" for his new segment with WOIO/19 "19 Action News" anchor Sharon Reed.

A parting shot, as OMW reported earlier that The Artful Roger is expected to depart the Sports Media and Real Estate Listing beat at the PD soon, taking one of the paper's buyout offers designed to reduce staffing costs...though we don't know how much longer he has, these would be signs that he won't be around long...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tribe TV Team Set

The Cleveland Indians have announced their new two-man TV booth.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that it'll be Tribe radio voice Matt Underwood moving over to the SportsTime Ohio side, paired with incumbent analyst and former Indians centerfielder Rick Manning on the team's TV broadcasts.

Like last year, Underwood and Manning will be joined by WKYC/3 sports director Jim Donovan on the team's 20 broadcasts that'll be seen on WKYC and the regional over-air TV network.

Underwood's move to TV also creates a two-man booth on the Indians Radio Network, as it'll be veteran play-by-play voice Tom Hamilton paired solely with Mike Hegan starting next season.

For 162 games, we presume...not 182, a presumed typo in the PD blog item...

More on WJER-FM

OMW reported a week ago that WJER-FM's proposed new facilities had hit the FCC database, and provided pictures of construction for the new WRQK/106.9 tower which will also eventually hold the antenna for the 101.7/North Canton facility.

Some minor updates:

* A trip back to the site over the weekend showed what we'd been told by OMW readers in the area - the wooded site that will house the new WRQK tower is a lot less wooded than even our previous picture indicated just a week earlier. (We'd have taken a picture this time, but the lighting was not in our favor.) There's a much larger clearing, and it looks like they're moving at a swift pace. Racing the upcoming winter season, no doubt.

* We don't know if is happening 100% now, but while we were at the future site of 101.7's antenna, we noted that the current WJER operation was simulcasting on both 101.7 and AM 1450, and using the phrase "The Voice of the Valley" more often, along with simply calling itself "WJER Radio" at all times. The station started simulcasting back when program director Steve Kelly left for Columbus, and the AM's midday request show started airing on both frequencies.

It would appear that they're preparing for a solo operation on the AM side, once the 101.7 construction is complete - and the FM station moves into the Clear Channel World Domination HQ/Southern Command on Freedom Avenue.

All indications we've heard out of Dover are that former WJER owner Gary Petricola will keep operating AM 1450...at very least solo, if he's not able to get an FM companion like WNPQ/95.9 to add to the AM broadcast. (And we still hear that WNPQ owner Jim Natoli is not at all interested in such a scenario.)

We went back and visited the FCC filing for WJER-FM's new North Canton-COL operation, and noticed the FCC-prescribed service area for the new 6KW station based at 22nd Street off Whipple Avenue.

It would appear to be a very good Canton market station, with enough coverage into much of Akron and Summit County to be able to sell many of the same advertisers. (Note that the "service area" is just the station's main contour, and it'd certainly be audible a few miles outside of that area.)

It's not quite the same service area as sister Canton-licensed WKDD/98.1, but we're talking a class A signal vs. WKDD's class B signal out of Hartville...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

We Didn't Know He Was Here, Or We'd Have Asked

As it turns out, on the day liberal talk radio network Air America filed for bankruptcy (see below), the network's best known star was so close to the OMW World Headquarters...that we could have driven a few miles and asked him about the day's events.

Not that he was saying anything about the news.

We find out from the Akron Beacon Journal's Rich Heldenfels that Air America midday host Al Franken was actually in Akron on Friday, at an event at the University of Akron to support Democratic candidates.

Franken didn't comment on the bankruptcy of the radio network that's had much trouble paying him over the past two plus years, saying he'd hold off commenting until Monday due to the fact he's traveling.

Heldenfels also talks to Tom Embrescia, who OMW pointed out Friday as a creditor in the AAR bankruptcy filing.

The former local radio owner (WWWE, WDOK) says his percentage share of the network is in the "low single digits".

Though he thought the idea of a progressive talk network was a "good radio idea", like just about everyone else with background in radio instead of left-leaning politics, Embrescia tells the Beacon Journal that Air America's plan "had not been well executed".

Talk about your understatement of the year.

At times, the liberal talk network has been a classic case of "how not to run a radio network", with a bloated staff (how many commercial talk radio shows have a staff of WRITERS?) and little idea how to handle the nuts and bolts of a radio operation.

Air America also has, in its 2-plus year history, pretty much directly ignored most of the advice radio professionals have given it, including advice from those radio pros actually working for the company.

And it's always felt more like a political operation than a radio one, and that hasn't changed. In its press release about the bankruptcy, Air America notes the importance of being on the air in the upcoming election season, as new CEO Scott Elberg points out:

“Staying on the air is crucial for the Network's primary ratings period as well as for the country which is facing its most important mid-term election in recent history.”

From elsewhere in the land of progressive talk, Jones Radio's Ed Schultz put out a statement noting his show's independence from Air America. And according to this blog entry by Joe Gandelman at "The Moderate Voice", Schultz had Product 1st co-owner Stu Krane to talk about it on Friday. Gandelman writes:

They want to produce a show that's good radio, good entertainment, that gets listeners and makes money.

Krane is half of the group which owns the Schultz show - the other half being suburban Cincinnati's Randy Michaels.

The Beacon's Heldenfels also - as we did yesterday - quotes WARF/1350 "Radio Free Ohio" operations manager Keith Kennedy's online statement on the current status of the Air America network and the network's local affiliate.

A sidebar: Heldenfels now is credited as the "popular culture" writer for the paper, a beat which continues to include television. He'll eventually be taking over movies from departing critic George Thomas, and it appears radio is also in his beat mix now.

We don't know if Mr. Heldenfels reads OMW, as Mr. Thomas does.

But as he starts using his first name Rich on his byline, we remind him that radio stations do not have to physically move to their exact communities of license. So, don't call up city officials in Stow and ask them how they feel about WWVA/1170 Wheeling WV not camping out in the Akron suburb.

(OK, Denise Grollmus, we promise that'll be the LAST joke about that article!)

Friday, October 13, 2006

About That Air America Bankruptcy

We hadn't planned to say much about the report that the Air America Radio liberal talk network has filed for bankruptcy, primarily because the network reports that it will continue to operate. (Think "bankrupt airline".)

But the news has prompted at least some liberal talk stations to go on the record about it, and to restate their commitment to the nascent format. And among those stations is the progressive talker in our own backyard (almost literally), Clear Channel's WARF/1350 Akron "Radio Free Ohio".

WARF/CC Akron/Canton operations manager Keith Kennedy checks in with a note on the WARF website, saying the format "is growing, across America, and within Northeast Ohio".

And for those who continue to be confused - who think Air America is just another name for the entire format - Kennedy reminds listeners that the AAR programming takes up "less than 6 hours" of the broadcast day before midnight, plus overnight and weekend repeats.

Echoing what's frequently said on the air by Jones Radio hosts like Stephanie Miller when their political opponents crow about AAR's problems, the point is once again made that the shows hosted by Miller, Bill Press, Ed Schultz, and Lionel - along with local midday host Joe Finan - are not Air America products.

The first three national hosts on that list are syndicated by Jones, and Lionel comes in via the WOR Radio Network out of New York City. Finan, of course, originates from the palatial Clear Channel World Domination HQ (Southern Command) on Freedom Avenue in Stark County's Jackson Township.

But WARF isn't throwing AAR "under the bus", as it were (cue bus/thump sound effect here):

We are committed to Progressive Radio in Akron, and will continue the growth of 1350am, with or without Air America. Our preference would be with our partners at Air America. Our hope is that they will emerge from their current situation stronger than ever and continue delivering the Al Franken and Randi Rhodes programs to 1350 as well as the growing number of Progressive Talk stations across America.

The AAR bankruptcy filing, meanwhile, is quite interesting for its extensive list of creditors. Not only are hosts like Al Franken and Mike Malloy easily found on the list, it reads like a "Who's Who of How to Run a Radio Operation".

And Northeast Ohio is represented by local radio type Tom Embrescia, who's listed as being owed over $25,000 by the radio network.

Yes, that's the long-time local radio owner and executive (the former WWWE "3WE", WDOK) who apparently is now doing such things as heading sales of the ".jobs" top-level domain and owning "Partners", a company that, from its website, "is one of the country's leading direct marketing companies of framed artwork."

Embrescia is listed as an Air America board member in this article from the online magazine Radar last month, and tells the magazine:

"They're losing money. That's common knowledge. I think all along they've had some questions about what they're doing. They're always talking about raising more money, and there's always been times when [chairman of the board and Real Networks founder] Rob Glaser has come in to save the day."

That's certainly shown in the filing, with Glaser listed as the network's largest creditor by far.

Embrescia also shows his old-line radio wisdom, echoing words that many, many radio types have said about the Air America effort:

As for why Air America can't seem to turn a profit, Embrescia says it may have been a mistake to launch an entire left-wing talk radio network in one shot. "Maybe it should have been one or two programs," he says.

Another former local radio/TV owner and executive, Norman Wain, is also an investor in the network.

Wain was behind an early effort to syndicate AAR afternoon drive host Randi Rhodes (evenings on WARF) out of her then-current home of WJNO/1290 West Palm Beach FL, before Air America picked her up. He tells Radar that "(t)hey don't communicate with investors very well. They only come to us when they're looking for more money."

Another person with long-time Ohio ties who's on the Air America creditor list: Randy Michaels. The former top Clear Channel radio executive is owed some $37,000 via a company run by his RadioActive LLC, based in the Cincinnati suburb of Covington KY.

And of course, regular liberal talk observers know that Randy's "Product 1st" is now the owner of the Jones-syndicated show hosted by the aforementioned Ed Schultz...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Two TV Items

BYE, STEFANI!: OMW hears that the last day for WEWS/5 anchor Stefani Schaefer will be Friday.

As reported earlier, Schaefer is leaving NewsChannel 5 for the "big time", as one of the hosts on the new NBC-syndicated show "iVillage". The show will air on the NBC owned-and-operated stations at first, and will be offered to other stations later. Since WKYC/3 is not owned by its network anymore, it won't be on in Cleveland until it's offered in syndication.

Channel 5 mainstay Lee Jordan will add the "Live on Five" show to her duties starting next week, taking Stefani's place alongside Leon Bibb at 5 PM...

GRILL THE GMS: We got this a bit too late to allow our readers to RSVP to this invitation, but it sounds like an interesting event nonetheless.

Monday at noon at the Cleveland City Club, all of the Cleveland TV market's general managers will gather for the "Ask the General Managers Luncheon", sponsored by the local NATAS chapter. Quoting a release on the event:

Dan Salamone, John Butte, Trina Cutter, Kit Jensen, Mike Renda, Lou Spangler, and Brooke Spectorsky will be on stage to talk about what’s in the future for their respective stations. That’s followed by questions from the audience moderated by David Glassier, television critic for the News-Herald and past President of the National TV Critics Association, and Plain Dealer TV critic Mark Dawidziak.

Unfortunately, the NATAS release on the event reached us too late for the RSVP date of, well, Wednesday. You can blame us and "real life" for that one, but if you're going, feel free to share anything interesting gleaned from the luncheon...

Wilks - Not Good News Ahead?

Out of nowhere, OMW has been hearing from all over the place about the history, and future plans, of Wilks Broadcast Group...the company which is buying the CBS Radio cluster of stations in Columbus.

And to a person, the information we're getting from our contributors is not promising for folks who currently work at stations like rock WLVQ/96.3 "Q96", country WHOK/95.5 "K95.5", or alt-rock WAZU/107.1 "The Big Wazoo".

You can, of course, point to Wilks Broadcast Group CEO Jeff Wilks and his comments in today's Columbus Dispatch.

Wilks tells Dispatch TV/radio writer Tim Feran that "the stations' formats and personnel are not expected to change". (OK, those who have heard that line before a sale is completed, feel free to laugh out loud at this point...)

Wilks adds:

"These are phenomenally performing stations, financially and ratingswise. Personally, I’ve known about Q (WLVQ) my whole life. I’m a bit of a radio junkie and I know it’s one of those rare, rare, super heritage monster radio stations."

He may call himself a bit of a radio junkie, but that doesn't mean he doesn't cut to the bone.

To that end, a reliable OMW source in the state capital relays word that the Wilks operation is ALREADY planning job cuts at its three new Columbus stations, when it takes over the cluster in an LMA. And the word on the street is that the CBS Radio Kansas City stations may be in for even worse.

We aren't hearing good things from the existing Wilks markets of Fresno, Reno or Lubbock, either, with still more tales of doing "more with less" - people-wise.

We rarely give advice at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), but we'd strongly advise folks at CBS Radio in Columbus to polish their resumes and make sure their tapes are updated...

STO Slims to Two, Drops Sanders

As expected, SportsTime Ohio is slimming down in the broadcast booth.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Indians-run TV network is not renewing the contract of John Sanders, who's been calling Tribe games on TV dating back to 1991... much of that time on FOX Sports Net Ohio and its predecessors.

Sanders, along with analysts Rick Manning and Mike Hegan, moved as a group to STO when the cable/satellite network started this season.

STO's Jim Liberatore cited the move to a two-person TV booth for next year, saying that it "offers a more consistent, defined and viewer-friendly approach".

The non-bylined PD item says Manning, the popular ex-Indians outfielder, is "likely" to remain, and could be paired in the two-person booth with either Hegan, or with Hegan's fellow Indians radio analyst Matt Underwood...

Tait Whams With the Right Hand

It appears Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has learned the Lesson of Michael Reghi.

The team and veteran radio play-by-play voice Joe Tait are announcing a new 2-year deal, keeping the Voice of the Cavaliers in front of the microphone through the 2008-2009 season. The new contract extension will take effect at the end of the current NBA season, giving Tait three seasons - counting this one - to hope he sees LeBron James lead the team to their first NBA title.

After a rather odd attempt at humor, comparing Tait to the Energizer bunny, or batteries, or whatever, Gilbert put out a clear message to those fearing the long-time Cavs radio voice would be replaced by someone from Detroit. Not like anyone would ever do something like that:

We are thrilled that Joe has agreed to continue on as the voice of the Cavs for at least the next three years. As long as Joe Tait can and wants to call the Cavalier games he will be the voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Tait has been calling professional basketball on the radio in Cleveland nearly continuously since shortly after the Cavaliers debuted in the NBA in 1970. His only absence from the team - from 1981 to 1983 - can be blamed on Ted Stepien, the Cavs' former Idiot in Charge...who fired Tait only to find out that the radio announcer was much more popular than the team's owner...

Another Debate, Triv Style

We're not sure what it says about the state of radio, that WTAM/1100 afternoon drive host Mike Trivisonno is about to be the ringmaster for another big political showdown...but...here it is.

Triv will hold another "Non-Debate Debate" on his show this Friday...this one featuring Ohio gubernatorial candidates Ted Strickland and Ken Blackwell. It'll air from 3:30 to 5 PM

Like the show's previous event spotlighting the U.S. Senate race between Mike DeWine and Sherrod Brown...it'll be different, says a WTAM release:

This is not an official sanctioned debate for both candidates. It is a question and answer session for listeners with the candidates. Multiple questions have already been e-mailed directly to the Trivisonno Show.

We don't listen to Triv nearly as much as we used to, but we seem to recall the show has poked fun at Strickland for initially refusing its invitations to this event. Either way, or some way, it ought to be interesting to see how the candidate handles that flack in person...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bye, Sandy - Oops, Not So Fast!

If you're sending a farewell note to Sandy Bennett, who was reported to be leaving WSNY/94.7 "Sunny 95" in Columbus...send her a "glad you're staying" note instead.

OMW hears that Sandy has reconsidered her exit from the Saga-owned AC outlet, and will be staying in her perch doing middays there...

Your All-in-One HDTV Update

For whatever reason, news about high definition TV seems to happen in clumps. Here's another of those clumps:

HDTV JACKETS: For whatever reason, we happened to tune into the "HD BONUS" channel (798) on the now-former Adelphia Cleveland-based system owned by Time Warner Cable...and we found, believe it or not, the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets playing in HD via FSN Ohio.

It's not really a surprise to us that the Blue Jackets would be doing games in HDTV. Sure enough, a team press release says 20 of the team's 75 FSN Ohio contests this season will be done in the high definition format.

But it surprised us that Time Warner Cable put the games on the old Adelphia HD local/bonus channel.

OMW hears that Cox, the largest remaining Cleveland cable operator which was NOT swallowed into TWC, also carried the HD Blue Jackets game. Not bad for a sport Northeast Ohio basically ignores.

We reported earlier that FSN Ohio plans about the same number of HDTV broadcasts of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball - around 20. The network carried a few games in HD at the end of the last NBA season...

WBNX/CW/HD: There's not much new here for OMW readers, but Akron Beacon Journal TV-soon-also-to-be-movie columnist R.D. Heldenfels weighs in on local CW affiliate WBNX/55's struggles with HDTV in a recent item on his TV blog.

WBNX boss Lou Spangler sums up the problem for Heldenfels in non-techie terms - "computers that won't talk to computers" - and echos the WBNX website in saying they hope to get the HDTV signal available to cable companies by the first of November.

The over-air signal delay, apparently, is due to the fact that "Cleveland's CW" doesn't have the antenna for digital broadcasts yet...and it won't be due on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls until it's too late for construction this year...

SLIGHT WUAB HD CHANGE: Local viewers with a keen eye on resolution indicators note that WUAB/43's digital/HDTV signal is now pumping out 720p, which is the standard adopted by WUAB's new network MyNetworkTV.

MNTV is owned by FOX, which also uses 720p. Channel 43's previous network, UPN, was 1080i. (It was owned by CBS, which is also a 1080i network.)

What does this mean for you? Well, if you haven't been able to get WUAB-DT over the air for the past month or so, that might be why. You might need to rescan your digital over-air tuner to catch up with the change...

TOLEDO DIRECTV: And DirecTV announced this week that Toledo would be the next Ohio market to get HDTV service in "local-into-local" (over satellite) format. Columbus and Cleveland already have this service, which allows you to get digital/HD signals of the major network affiliates without putting up an over-air antenna of any sort.

It's one of 25 markets nationwide which will get the service between now and January.

Of course, OMW readers like Chuck Matthews in Toledo would be happy just to get the market's CW network affiliate - Block Communications/Buckeye Cablevision's "WT05" - even in SD on DirecTV. He's the imaging voice for the station, but can't even get it on the bird...