Monday, December 18, 2006


The title here stands for "What Would Clear Channel Sell?", believe it or not.

We already know that the company has announced spinoffs of many small market clusters, above the top 100, as part of its recent announced sale to two private equity funds.

But the folks at Inside Radio report today that it would appear CC is willing to sell off "extra" stations in many large markets, grandfathered into its ownership...but with that grandfathering going away with a company sale.

The trade website has gone through the numbers and has come up with a list of markets where Clear Channel would have to sell at least one station to come under the ownership caps. The timing on this would appear to be "sometime by the end of 2007", presumably in time to clear the way for the sale to the private equity funds.

Ohio appears on Inside Radio's list four times, including Dayton (2 FMs), nearby Springfield (2 FMs), and the already-tagged-for-sale Lima market.

But for us here at OMW, it is Cleveland that is the problem.

The current group of 5 FMs in the Cleveland Clear Channel cluster is apparently one above what FCC regulations would allow, according to the Inside Radio list, though we're still unclear about the status of Akron-licensed WAKS/96.5 "Kiss FM".

If you're Clear Channel, which FM station do you sell at Oak Tree? (Of course, the company is in no danger on the AM side, with WTAM/1100 being its sole signal on that band.)

Keep in mind that formats can be moved and the like.

Is the 96.5 signal the automatic sell, and if so, what do you do with "KISS FM" and the remaining formats?

Welcome to Speculation City.

Since it may be a few months before any of this hits the fan, feel free to join in for once. Just, please, no personal attacks, and keep it professional...


Anonymous said...

If CC sold anything, 96.6 could be sold and KISS moved to 106.5. But why not just sell off 106.5 and someone like Good Karma come in and purshase the signal? Since CBS has 4 FM signals, would would want a lone FM? Could Good Karma show an intrest? This would give them even more flexibility for sports and other programmng and would give an advantage in future sports contracts.

Anonymous said...

If this pans out (as I saw it, CC attained the 96.5/1350 duo as part of a trade with Barnstable to complete the CC/AMFM merger) the equation is simple.

Kiss-FM can easily displace "Mix" on 106.5-FM. Move WAKS over there. As WMJI is (unfortunately) drifting to a 70's/80's format, this solves a major headache for CC.

But... who gets 96.5? The previous poster bringing up Good Karma here is indeed a fun proposition. That signal would be an ideal FM simulcast to WKNR, solving the coverage issues in Akron and the spotty nighttime coverage for 850 in the region. However, the real winner for them is that it allows GK to actually compete for the Browns contract.

Whoo boy.

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

I heard a learned investment-type familiar with CC and its situation give an outlook the other day.
The opinion was that we will see extraordinary changes, many beyond speculation, before the full impact of this latest re-invention of the US radio industry is over.
It still will not look very good to the "old timers", however. It will be as radical a change as the transformation over the last ten years has been. But it will be going forward, not back. There will be opportunities for those willing to embrace them, but they will be fewer in number and require a great deal more work.
"Little pink houses for you and me..."

Grave Spinnings said...

How about this? Clear Channel keeps all the signals.

96.5 is licensed to Akron. They can simply keep the signal and relaunch it as an Akron station. Keep the kiss brand in cleveland on 106.5 or dump it alltogether and launch something new in Akron? Move WKDD back to 96.5?

Just move 96.5 to below the line in cleveland,and above the line in Akron...and you're under the cap.

Is kiss making that much money?

Johnny Morgan said...

>>Just move 96.5 to below the line in cleveland,and above the line in Akron...and you're under the cap.<<

It's not that simple. The stick move into Brecksville (and the bump up to 50kw ERP) was meant to give 96.5 city-grade coverage of Akron as well as Cleveland--Akron mandated by the FCC license, Cleveland by commercial necessity.

The problem comes in if Clear Channel tries to re-target 96.5 towards Akron--it is still considered a Cleveland full-market signal.

And until the FCC finally makes up its mind ruling on the Arbitron market designations for ownership limits under 47 CFR 73.3555, countour is the rule. And 96.5 is a Cleveland contour.

In fact, even under the Abitron rules, 96.5 may still be considered a Cleveland station, despite its Akron COL.

This doesn't get us away from the fact that Clear Channel will have to sell one of the FMs.

And the question is, which one?

Weakest signal? Well 99.5 is 50kw, straight-up, from a short tower. WMMS is sub-20kw, from a short-ish tower in Parma.

106.5 (near 50kw ERP) and 105.7 (16kw) are both way up on TV towers in the Parma farm.

The engineers can pick up from here. I'm not yet qualified, though given the FCC's newest ruling (out Friday) that eradicated the CW Morse Code requirement for ALL amateur classes, here's seeing what I can do.

Anonymous said...

WAKS is CC Cleveland's top biller, and that is a fact.

not an engineer said...

Could they move 96.5 back to it's orignal tower or somewhere nearby and remove city grade from Clev?

Anonymous said...

Why can't they just do away with 106.5, by far the weakest-link in the CC Cleve chain. (Kiss bills more and gets better numbers)

Anonymous said...

i have a hard time believing Kiss is a big biller in Cleveland.

this is a guess, and only a guess. the pecking order in billing is:


firebird said...

Sell WAKS to Media-Com, who in turns moves WNIR to 96.5, giving the area a real local talk station.

VODood said...

WAKS is CC Cleveland's top biller? You're on crack. WMJI has been, and still is, the cluster's #1 biller.

Johnny Morgan said...

Folks, let's not forget that regardless of billing, a format is not chained for its life to a frequency.

If Kiss really is the #1 cluster biller (a dubious claim, given WMJI, but let's assume), the format will not go away should Clear Channel be forced to divest 96.5 MHz.

It will simply move elsewhere.

And that's if 96.5 is the booted frequency.

Now's when I really wish the FCC would get back to me about my app for the open attorney position in the Enforcement Bureau.

Neil Parks said...

Not exactly on topic, but does relate to Clear Channel: Jim Quinn told a caller from Columbus this morning that he might soon be on a station there.

Anonymous said...

I think that CC could get the most "bang for thier buck" by selling WMMS and the heritage that may still be left. I cannot imagine a bigger draw than to have a smaller owner try to re-build the buzzard.

VODood said...

Perhaps if this comes to pass we could see Carl Hirsch and/or Gorman back "in the game"? Hirsch has been wanting back in C-Town since he sold to Nationwide. At least that's what I hear.

If ANYONE could take 'MMS to the next level it's G-Man. Especially if not tied to be big corporate entity.

Anonymous said...

Plenty of discussion already here on this topic, so I'll just add one little thought:

From personal experience listening at home in Wadsworth and driving around in the car, I would want to sell the 100.7 signal because it seems to be the weakest on any radio I use. I'm not saying they have to dump the format, but that would be the first one out.

96.5 signal is seemingly the biggest (again, from listening experience, not technical prowess)... it is the most easily receivable in Canton area and comes in really well in Youngstown also. But I suppose you can argue that fringe coverage isn't a big deal for making ad sales...

Interesting proposition you've made OMW...


Anonymous said...

CC siimply isn't going to let CHR go into someone else's hands in the market. The ratings and revenue for WAKS are just too strong.

A floundering Hot AC however? I'd put money on that.

Anonymous said...

"WAKS is CC Cleveland's top biller, and that is a fact."? "The ratings and revenue for WAKS are just too strong."?
Beam me up, Scotty! No way... at least in this galaxy.

Anonymous said...


Please, it's over. It's been over. Give it up already.

Anonymous said...

WMJI has been the #1 biller in Cleveland for years; most of which has been in Lanigans show.

The top 5 billers in Cleveland in 2005 were, WMJI then WDOK then WGAR then WNCX. That has changed for WNCX in 2006 with the loss of Stern, but WMJI, WDOK and WGAR are still the top 3 this year.

WAKS being in the top 5 billing is a pipe dream for someone. CHR's can bill well, but not that well without being in the top 3 in the overall ratings.

Cleveland is very much a 25-54 year old town. Most of the billing comes from that demo, which is why those stations listed above bill the most.

Take a look at the 25-54 demo ratings for this year, there's your top billing stations this year. The order changes, but the stations typically don't.

'LoveTheBiz said...

I think you also have to consider this:
You don't want to create a hole in the market with your moves. For example, if you sell off the 96.5 frequency, you then have to move the CHR format to another frequency because you don't want to create that CHR hole in the market. If you sell off 99.5, you then have to move the Country format somewhere and in the process some other format gets compromised. And of course with the formats getting moved around, you're compromising your ratings, heritage, familiarity, etc.. So what would the easiest move be? Sell off 106.5. There are comparable formats in the market, you're not instantly creating a format hole and you wouldn't have to move any of your stronger formats off their "home" frequencies. Follow me? Make any sense?

Anonymous said...

To the last poster you make 100% and I agree with you. When it comes to 105.7 and them slowly adding more 80's tunes, could it be possible to change the playlist to 70's and 80's hits? At some point 80's music will be what 70's music is today, which is considered to be old by the younger listners,and by making a hybrid now, it would have a very wide base of listners and would be a nice mix.

Anonymous said...

106.5 is the easiest to get rid of.

Music wise, you can split WMVX's playlist amongs the reamining CC FMs.

Most of Mix's more recent stuff can be played on Kiss, the early 80's stuff can go to Majic, and the 80's rock can go to the Buzzard.

Should Good Karma get it's hands on Mix, they can do an AM/FM ESPN simulcast on 1540/106.5 (a la Triple X in DC).

This way you can do both Fox(850) and ESPN(106.5) 24/7, slip in a local host on either WWGK or WMVX during the day (say when The Herd or Dan Patrick are on one, you go local on the other) and if Mr. Karmazin is able to get the Browns rights, 850/106.5 would make a hell of a simulcast.

Anonymous said...


couple of things......
1.waks is NOT the top bviller in cleveland...take it to the bank...

it's probably WMJI but it is NOT WAKS...

2.i will guarantee you that CC already know what will be spun and has a plan......say what you want about them but when it comes to this kinda stuff they do not play "READY FIRE AIM"

3. between the already announced market spins and this newer spin cycle...a helluva comapny could be put together.....hmmmm....maybe a highly RADIOACTIVE company..(wouldn't that be interesting...

Johnny Morgan said...

>>maybe a highly RADIOACTIVE company..(wouldn't that be interesting...<<

But he's been specializing in CP purchases, not signaled stations, even in lower markets.

His thinking seems to be that CPs are cheaper than full-tilt stations.

Mind you, how odd/ironic would it be for Randy Michaels to pitch for ownership of the Ohio markets that he was responsible for Jacor-Clear Channel buying in the first place?

Anonymous said...

If Good Karma gets an FM station, they likely would simulcast WKNR on it. We'd already be speculating that 850 would be beefing up its' local weekday/weekend lineup, so this is an excellent way to take it all further. Plus, again, it gets GK a sure shot to compete for the Browns contract.

AM/1540 would be the presumed ESPN affiliate in the daytime. Barring any effort to take WWGK over to a full-time signal itself, that station would act as a mainly network dayside complement to WKNR. 850 (and 96.5?) would take the ESPN slack from 10p-6a, while still retaining some programming from FSR on the weekends.

Not necessarily the "Triple X ESPN" formula in Washington, DC - I'm thinking more of the crosstown Bonneville cluster. WKNR on both AM/850 and FM/96.5 acts as all-news powerhouse WTOP FM/AM, and WWGK would be the servicable 2nd-tier WFED "Federal News Radio." Now, THAT'S scary.

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

In terms of duration, ratings, and the like, WMJI is the undoubted winner in CC Cleveland billing. WAKS may have topped the other stations for one quater period, if at all, but Majic (even with their warts) has to be at the top.

That doesn't mean that WAKS isn't successful. Being the only CHR in the market (although CHR is awfully close to mainstream urban and thus partially competes with WENZ - to a point...) doesn't hurt.

If CC divests a station, and if it's WAKS and not WMVX, expect 106.5 to get "Kiss"ed. And why not? The HAC format has proven that it CAN'T work. Not to mention that the playlists bleed over onto WMJI, WGAR, WMMS and WAKS.

- Nathan Obral

Sour Apples said...

John Gorman,Carl Hirsch,Kid Leo, Matt the Cat and Jeff and Flash are long gone now. Nobody is going to resurrect WMMS to what it once was unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

no matter what ends up getting spun..good karma should buy the spinee.....
the young zen master could make an even more interesting competitor... bout this one.....good karma trades cc whichever fm gets spun for 850 ???plus whatever cash is necessary...

CC needs another AM anyway

Anonymous said...

"The top 5 billers in Cleveland in 2005 were, WMJI then WDOK then WGAR then WNCX. That has changed for WNCX in 2006 with the loss of Stern, but WMJI, WDOK and WGAR are still the top 3 this year"
Wrong: WTAM was the #2 biller.

To address some other comments... the Buzzard is DEAD... has been since the mid-90's. Time to stick a fork in it... their heyday was 20 years ago. I would not be surprised, though if they kept the 100.7 signal and spun both the WMMS intellectual property and the 96.5 signal.

A lot, too will depend on who the potential buyer might be. It might make sense for Radio One to buy Kiss since it's a competitor now and could be a good compliment to their urban formats. Someone new might come in and try to buy both WNWV and whatever signal Clear Channel is peddling... and don't underestimate the viability of a stand-alone FM. WNWV seems to be doing OK amidst the mega-consolidators and over in Philly, Jerry Lee is kickin' ass and takin' names with his stand-alone FM, WBEB.

Finally, don't count out one of the FM spinoffs (whatever that might be) as swap bait for an AM signal, which CC CAN own. Would Karmazin swap 850 for an FM?... Maybe. Might Salem swap 1220 and/or 1420 for another FM? Even in a possible Radio One deal.... WERE goes to Clear Channel... and before everyone says the signal sucks remember that CC also owns 1350.... that might make a nice simulcast with 1300.

Anonymous said...

"AM/850 and FM/96.5 acts as all-news powerhouse WTOP FM/AM"
Highly doubtful! All News is a hugely expensive undertaking and that it doesn't play well unless you're in a market where there is a lot happening 24/7. The format simply does not exist anywhere but a handful of very large markets. The only market out of the top 10 that has an all-newser is Pittsburgh, but KQV's a very low-rent operation with ratings to match.

Johnny Morgan said...

>>Highly doubtful! All News is a hugely expensive undertaking<<

In Nate's defense, I think he was using the WTOP situation not as a format-specific reference, but as an example of two-tiered stations, when you have an AM/FM combo with one format, and another, lesser AM with a subformat.

Take all-news from WTOP and substitute sports, and that's what the 850/whatever FM combo represents, with 1540 doing the Fox Sports equivalent of Fed News in WashDC.

Anonymous said...

cc ain't selling off anything folks.

Please write this down and remember what i'm telling you...the number of stations in cleveland today, will be the same number at the time of the close, and they will be the exact same stations. meaning no swaps, flips etc.

Q104 will win 25-54 before cc loses a station in the city by a great lake. and we know that ain't happening either.

so sayeth I.

Anonymous said...

Personally I do not care what CC, CBS Radio, Radio One, Good Karma do. They can play 24/7 Peruvian goat chants for all I care. The state of the Cleveland/Akron radio market is such that I have switched to XM Satellite. About the only station I listen to anymore is WMJI and that's in the morning. Even WAPS is sounding more and more like an oldies station; they used to sound almost like the old "Mellow Rock" days of WKDD but not any more. When I can tune across the dial and hear four different staions playing the SAME song at the same time, which actually happened, and allegedly have different formats then radio has a problem. Someone or some company needs to shake things up!

Anonymous said...

What would CC sell? What would Jesus stream? (WWJS)

I'm guessing the mid-day farm futures from AM powerho, err, daytimer WFIN-AM in Hancock County.

XM Blows.... said...

"When I can tune across the dial and hear four different stations playing the SAME song at the same time, which actually happened"

Yeah...never happens on XM. Never!
You can tune in channels from 20 on 20 to The Blend and hear Rob Thomas or Kelly Clarkson playing on 4 channels at the same time just about everyday. On a recent road trip we made a game out of it. The Songs on Xm are just as repetitive as normal radio.
You’d be surprised how often the same songs are playing on the same channels.

and please tell whoever is scheduling music on "The Heart" on xm, We don't need to hear Chicago Look Away every day between 4-6pm.

Anonymous said...

Based on some buzz in the trades, it appears that CC may be trying to swap for AM signals in markets where they're over the top in FM. Speculation is that they may try to acquire some AM signals from Cumulus when they swallow ABC. Some call letters bandies about were WABC, WLS, and KGO... markets where CC has no AM's or the ones they have are inferior sticks. While this may have no direct effect on Cleveland I think that CC would push to do a deal where they can pick up an AM if they have to dump an FM.

One thing that hasn't been addressed is the whole issue of 96.5, which is the de-facto 5th FM signal. Because it is an Akron-licensed station it may fly under the radar... then again, it may not. The laws are a bit hazy in that regard.

One other property to keep an eye pealed for is WREO. Although a deep rim-shot, that signal could be moved about 10 miles to the west, providing partial coverage of the Cleveland market. Might be an interesting fill-in for a 1300/1350 simulcast.

Don't be shocked if they hang on to the 97.1 stick but deal the intellectual property to a buyer. Don't forget... there are applications pending for a 93.9 facility, so there would be somewhere to go without even blowing up a current format.

Anonymous said...

"Why can't they just do away with 106.5, by far the weakest-link in the CC Cleve chain. (Kiss bills more and gets better numbers"

Wrong on both counts. (OK, Kiss has bigger 12+ numbers but that don't count for anything other than bragging rights.... 25-54 is where it's at.