Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday Pileup

Some random notes...

STILL WAITING: We're going to hold off on trying to set a debut date for Clear Channel's new Canton FM station, WHOF/101.7. We believe it'll be "soon", but we're not going on a limb until someone at Freedom Avenue gives a heads up on the exact start time.

You may find out earlier, if you're within range of the station's signal, by turning on a radio to 101.7 FM...

WOIO GRAPHICS: We've passed along rumors, such as they are, that Raycom Media's WOIO/19-WUAB/43 will make the Local HD News Race a four horse event...probably sometime in the next month or so.

Could we be seeing a preview of that conversion, even now?

"19 Action News" has spruced up its graphics package a bit. Though a number of the station's existing elements ("Loud! Shout! WE'RE 19 ACTION NEWS!") haven't changed, the station is using a new font for its on-air identification graphics.

The new font is, to our eyes, a little "classier" than what the station has used for years. But...the station continues to use its long-time "19 Action News" logo in the older style.

The station's news music package has been tweaked as well, but is still along the same musical lines as the "19 Action News" theme music used for some time...

WSPD TIFF: Relations between Clear Channel talk WSPD/1370 Toledo and controversial mayor Carty Finkbeiner have never been favorable, but they're downright hostile lately.

The station was front and center at a mayoral press conference last week, with reporter Nik Rajkovic joined by a host of WSPD staffers, including program director/afternoon drive host Brian Wilson, news director Cassie Wilson, and the focal point of the current Mayoral Discontent - talk host/news reporter Kevin Milliken, who was refused entry to an earlier press conference.

Finkbeiner's City Hall has basically cut off WSPD from all contact, though they were apparently willing to let reporter Rajkovic into the press conference last week.

But a clumsy effort to let him in, but reject the other WSPD staffers, led to a confrontation where the WSPDers eventually got through the door that appeared ready to break.

The dispute goes back some months, with the mayor's office not happy with how the station talks about Mr. Finkbeiner on the air, and the station demanding an apology for a mayoral statement questioning the credibility of one of its hosts - morning drive host Fred LeFebvre.

This latest escalation of the conflict ended up with a cancellation of the press conference.

The mayor's office has questioned the credentials of the WSPD hosts and management staffers, but we believe all of them have the proper state-issued news credentials. That's quite common at a news/talk radio station.

And though there's certainly something to be said for saying a talk radio station is hoping to ramp up publicity - much like WOIO/19 did when the office of then-Cleveland mayor Jane Campbell "threw them out of City Hall" a couple of years back - city officials often look somewhat petty when they do stuff like this.

By the way, though characterized as anything from a talk show host to a public affairs show host for his hour-long "Eye on Toledo" evening show, OMW readers know that Milliken - a former WNWO/24 reporter - has been working in the WSPD news department for some time. He took that role after the departure of news director Tom Watkins...who's now doing a morning show on Cumulus talk competitor WTOD/1560 "SuperTalk 1560".

While WSPD is not without its own "antics" here, this tried-and-true formula mostly comes as a result of thin-skinned, high-profile politicians who think they own the cities they run. We've seen it a hundred times before...


Anonymous said...

The reporter involved here should have been admitted. If the Mayor didn't wish to respond to his questions due to a question of "objectivity" he should have just ignored them. Having said that, I still believe it is not good broadcast journalist practice to allow a opinionated talk show host to double as a "reporter" and I can't think of any other news operation that permits that. I recommended against it before I left the station.

Tom Watkins

Anonymous said...

19 is broadcasting in HD and is also using 19.2 for 24/7 weather but their audio cuts in and out on a regular basis on 19.1 unlike Fox 8 and Ch 5 which comes in loud and clear

Ohio Media Watch said...

Yes, WOIO/19 has broadcast CBS HD content for many years, but "19 Action News" and all local programming have not been in HD, even on WOIO-DT. THAT is the change we're talking about.

Heck, even now, the SD upconversion of "19 Action News" looks horrible. It can only get better.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Tom, if that is you (you can never tell here)...thanks for the contribution.

We share some of your feelings on the matter, though Mr. Milliken's dual role is hardly new at a news/talk radio station.

We've never heard his "Eye on Toledo" program, so we don't really have a bead on how he handles the talk show part of his role.

There would appear to be a bit of showmanship coming from the WSPD end, and we share some of your concerns.

But the "big picture" here is that Mr. Finkbeiner appears to be "Mayor for Life" in his eyes, and does not wish to answer difficult questions.

If this hadn't have escalated between the mayor's office and WSPD, perhaps Mr. Milliken (who DOES have news background, even well before joining WSPD) would have been able to ask his questions.

But the mayor is not only feeding WSPD's publicity machine, he's making himself look like - as the Blade puts it - "Old Carty".

We have the disadvantage here of not knowing many of the players, and watching from the outside...

Anonymous said...

Yep , Its me...
I'm not aware of the dual role at any other large news operation, but will take your word for it. It is still a bad practice. I can say I have observed Kevin functioning in the dual capacity at a "non Mayoral" event and he has been down the middle. However, he has been very critical of the Mayor on his talk show and I can understand the Mayor not wanting to field his questions. Nonetheless he should be admitted and if his questions are viable and he is ignored the other "recognized media" should have the balls to echo the question and get the answer anyway. I still feel the dual role is a bad practice, sort of like Rush Limbaugh showing up at a Nancy Pilosi news conference claiming to be a neutral reporter.

Anonymous said...

- From other perspectives ..

Even worse than what you two are speaking of is when everything is silent and behind the scenes. The mayor gets to the General Manager and the GM wants to feel like he is important enough that the mayor is a friend, blah, blah ..

And the mayor is unquestioned. At all. Not on talk shows, not in news conferences, just not.

That happens a great deal. Perhaps tehir "antics" were wrong, especially for a news-talk, but the underlying philosophy is correct and follows exactly what TJ set out to make with Freedom of the Press.

Anonymous said...

Station officials say Milliken was there to report on a non-issue news conference. It was about preparations for MLK events at the University of Toledo. He certainly could have recorded the press conference without asking questions. He was barred from doing that.

The so-called "showmanship" from WSPD came only after eight months of the mayor's office refusing to send notification of press conferences to the station, and ignoring repeated attempts to set up meetings to resolve the matter.

That time span included some serious flooding in Toledo, and the mayor's office prevented all WSPD reporters from speaking with any city officials. That jeopardized public safety, especially at a time when power was out and people were getting information by radio.

Johnny Morgan said...

Judge enjoins Toledo Mayor Finkbeiner from keeping WSPD's news reporters out.