Friday, March 09, 2007

1480 Moves To More Talk

OMW hears that NextMedia oldies WHBC/1480 Canton, as long rumored in This Space, is finally bringing on the talk.

We hear from many sources this evening that WHBC veteran afternoon drive host Brice Lewis was let go after his Thursday program.

And sure enough, the station has done the "Soviet-style purge" of Mr. Lewis from its website.

Listed on the WHBC schedule 3-7 PM now is "Afternoons on WHBC". Lewis is also off the station's "On-Air Personalities" page as of today.

OMW hears that taking his place in the afternoon drive slot will be a name that's no surprise to anyone who has been reading this missive in recent weeks - Brady Russell, who did something of a talk tryout for WHBC a few weeks ago on a Sunday evening, and who we hear now gets the shot for a 5 day-a-week talk radio gig.

Russell returns to his former radio employer, and even to his old time slot, only on the AM side instead of the FM side. He was the afternoon driver at sister AC WHBC-FM/94.1 "Mix 94.1" until he was let go after a controversial comment in 2005 prompted listener complaints.

In his new role, Brady will likely have somewhat more leeway, as he'll be on an AM station moving more and more towards talk, and somewhat likely with a strong conservative bent. Mr. Russell's comment that got him showed the door at 94.1 involved a colorful response to protesters at President Bush's second inauguration.

To that end, OMW hears that WHBC will become one of the first affiliates of the new Westwood One syndicated talk show hosted by comedian/commentator/former Monday Night Football voice Dennis Miller.

Miller is slated to debut on 1480 in April - we presume April 2nd. His show doesn't start until March 26th.

He'll be Russell's lead-in, from what we're told, in the noon-to-3 PM time slot. The Dennis Miller radio show will be produced live in the 10 AM-1 PM Eastern time slot, if we remember right, so that means a two hour rolling delay on the WHBC side.

We don't know how this affects midday host Tom Jarrett, but we're told he's been mixing talk and music in the hours before 12 noon...mid-morning local talk, anyone?

There isn't much left to do to turn WHBC into a full-fledged talk station.

The morning drive show is already a news/information program with Fred Chenevey and Pam Cook. If Tom Jarrett segues to talk, the addition of Miller's program and local afternoon drive talk with Brady Russell puts the station in the format all day...and no matter what Brian Novak does at night, the time slot is frequently pre-empted by sporting events anyway.

(We're wondering if an old rumor we passed along happens at this point - that WHBC picks up Sporting News Radio for evenings/nights/weekends. We're just guessing at that one, as we've heard nothing recently on that.)

It'll be interesting to watch.

In one of the more important talk time slots, middays, the station is gambling on a comedian known for his high-minded obscure cultural references and with no radio talk experience. Dennis Miller's show will have to climb pretty high to reach even a decent fraction of the audience of one Rush Limbaugh, on both WHLO/640 Akron and WTAM/1100 Cleveland.

But that's been one of WHBC's problems in trying to move to the format - the lack of good syndicated talk programming not already claimed by other stations in or near the Canton market...


Anonymous said...

and so it begins, the death of WHBC-AM. Wait I'm sorry, that happened at least 5 or 6 years ago.

Brice Lewis has been at WHBC for like 10 or 15 years. WHOF would be smart to pick him up.

Anonymous said...

I would second that "death" comment. Just what we need, the umpteenth talk station in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton area. Guess that will leave just WAKR and WKVX playing music on the local AM dial...and no, 1310 doesn't count if you are to the north of Alliance.

Anonymous said...

The reality is music on AM is long dead.

Anonymous said...

More like 20+ years for Brice Lewis. He was at WHBC when I arrived in the area in 1986. Back then the AM lineup was Mike Dorn, Bob Krahling, Skip Hornyak, Brice and Lin McDowell. "What a radio station," as the slogan at the time had it...

Anonymous said...

Congrats WHBC, you have taken a once loyal listener and turned them off of your AM & FM stations. Hope you enjoy your ratings slide to oblivion.

Anonymous said...

My sources say a local radical will be joining the talk lineup after the morning show on 1480. Not sure what the powers that be are thinking with this one. Advertisers are already jumping ship; wait until they hear the 10-am until noon slot. No instittion lasts forever. Also, why bring someone back who was fired before? Is it an ego thing to return? Move on with your life and let it go!

Anonymous said...

If 1480 is going all talk, management would be smart to dump Fred and Pam and bring in a synidicated news show in the morning. At least then the station would sound professional in the morning. Jim Johnson is the only pro left on 1480. I hear he is retiring. He is the winner in this scenario.

Anonymous said...

Since when are ex FM air personalities talk hosts? Brady was needed on Mix 94.1 if anywhere. Maddie and Ric and Hunter have turned Mix 94.1 into bad college radio. I see above someone wrote the institition is dead? Was institution misspelled on purpose? HMMMM.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the Fred and Pam show in the morning is just a venue for Fred & Pam to talk about themselves!! It's obvious they have no skills in talk radio, and neither of them have knowledge of the Canton area. Do either of them even live in Canton?

Anonymous said...

Let's analyze this. WHBC-AM is putting a DJ never done talk before on the afternoon drive show. THey are putting a semi-failed broadcaster and never done talk before syndicated host on at noon. They don't even know what they are doing 10A to Noon. How can any rational person look at that and say "gee this makes sense."

You would think even if a lower tiered syndicated show you go with something proven like a Dave Ramsey, Dr. Laura, Dr, Joey Brown or something established in midday.

For live talk you have Jim Albright there who did talk for 20 years at WNIR plus remember all those hosts on both 1350 and WNIR during tryouts for talk shows? Some were pretty decent.

I am usually not a doom and gloomer and I usually view change as good. But this is plain nuts.

Anonymous said...

The ignorance of some people on this board is amazing. Fred and Pam know nothing about radio or Canton?

Pam has been here for years. Fred grew up here. Fred's career took him to some of the biggest radio groupd in the country including CKLW during its prime-time and WCBS-AM in NYC. He left NYC rat-race and actually wanted to come back here to work. Extremely talented.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Fred for the above comment. Glad to see your over-sized ego is alive and well.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how you Canton radio people talk about each other. Guaranteed, WHBC knows what is going on between 10-noon. Didn't someone audition the next Sunday night after Brady Russell?

Anonymous said...

I agree, this is Canton, not Akron or Cleveland. But then again, look at the Akron and Cleveland rejects Next Media has hired, including the GM.

Anonymous said...

I vote for Ohio Media Watch to close down the comment section. Not because of the fighting and anonymous attacks on others, but based on the ignorance and pure stupidity of some of the posters.

A post is made discussing Fred’s background and it’s automatically assumed Fred made the post. Do you think its possible Fred has a fan/friend or two on this board? BTW: the information is factual; he left NYC to do mornings on Kool 92 (WZKL at the time). Say what you will, he wanted to come home.

I read in these comment sections the constant bitching concerning the lack of training grounds for new broadcasters in today’s radio. Upcoming performers have no place to practice their craft, etc. Asinine comments are made such as “WHBC-AM is putting a DJ never done talk before on the afternoon drive show”. Somewhere along the way a station in a town the size of Canton gave guys who had no previous talk experience and were DJ’s a slot to do talk, with no previous experience. (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck).

How do you expect these broadcasters to gain experience without actually giving them experience? You are talking out of both sides of your mouth.

I have no way of knowing if Mr. Russell will make a compelling talk show host. Apparently, he was thought fondly enough of at WHBC that current management brought him back after previous management let him go.

You can tell it’s a new day for Nextmedia and WHBC. They are doing what should have been done 10 years ago to both the FM and the AM. Unfortunately for them, it will be too late. On the FM side, they switched to a hot ac and totally blew off their core. They had no reason to make a drastic switch; they were sitting with shares in the 20’s in the core demo. Now their audience is holding their bleeding ears after hearing Nelly Furtado, Beyonce, Hinder. Walk into business in Canton now. HBC-FM has been replaced in just 2 months by My 101.7, Magic, and WDOK.
On the AM Side, WHBC, will not make it as a talk station. The core audience listening to WHBC-AM is well into their 70s. They have failed over the last 10 years to attract younger audiences, and they’ve found other outlets: WHLO, WNIR, WTAM. Getting them back on WHBC-AM will be impossible.

Attack me now and call me an idiot.

Anonymous said...

I hate to see the comments section go down. Sometimes one can find some decent insight and background to the story. Yes, there is sometimes abuse or planted information, but that goes with the turf.

I don't live in Canton, but know that WHBC has been a full service station longer than most AM's could dream of being. It's something of a legend. But by playing it safe, they may have hurt themselves by being closed out of the top tier of talk syndication. But then again, they could remain mostly local and do a great job at it. Sure, it may not be staffed by the top talent, but good talent can do a great job in a smaller medium market. They can make it interesting. And WHBC can avoid paying for the "Rush's of syndication" and keep all the available inventory. Matter of fact, they can implement any format clock based on spot demand.

Their top selling times will be service elements anyhow. So all they need is something to act as glue to hold those pieces together.

Anonymous said...

The last post is dead on the money. Well said!

I actually spoke with someone yesterday. Informed them I worked in radio and they began to tell me about their listening habits.
"I used to listen to WHBC but I just don't like it anymore"
My first question was "Mix 94.1?" and she said yes. I asked her if it was the music. "The music has changed lately, but I still like it. The people on there are so boring now. They talk too long about absolutely nothing"

I love those who say the only thing important is the music on radio nowadays. Clearly not the case. The music on 'HBC has shifted, yet its the change in personalities that had this listener most upset.

She said "What's that new station that just came on a few weeks ago?" I replied with "101.7?" and she said "Yeah! I've been listening to them, I like their music, they seem alright!"

It's amazing how many radios in Stark County have changed to 101.7 in just 2 months.

Anonymous said...

It's all a matter of context and perception. The Mix 94.1 jocks may or may not talk longer about nothing than they used to, but that's what the person mentioned in the last post thinks. The comments by Brady Russell that upset so many people in the context of a mass-appeal music format probably wouldn't raise an eyebrow in a talk format.

I have said before that a former WHBC personality and PD alienated me and drove me away when he began putting on his political party hat and making comments on his show. At that point WHBC no longer spoke for or was speaking to me, as a liberal Democrat who was tuned in for other reasons than political commentary. Whether a move to talk alienates others like myself, not to mention advertisers, remains to be seen. But I will say again what I have said so many times: Partisan talk radio of the kind broadcast today, whether right-wing or "progressive," is a niche format by definition. And may advertisers who trusted WHBC to deliver mass audiences may end up turning to a multiple-station Clear Channel buy as a result.

NB: I have no affiliation, personal or professional, with WHBC, NextMedia or Clear Channel.

Anonymous said...

Put Jim Albright on the air at WHBC.

"The Dating Show" he did on WNIR was one of the most unusual and entertaining pieces of radio around. Nothing like it anywhere.

Let Jim do talk and spin an oldie every now and then. That would be a good program.

Anonymous said...

I too have been listening to MY 101-7. They are doing a very nice job with the AC format.
The guy in the morning sounds good too.
I wonder if they will be doing the cheese festival in Sugarcreek this year?
Sure is different from when the GM and owner did live broadcasts. Don't miss that radio at all.

Anonymous said...

Music isn't dead on the AM dial.

WWMK "Disney 1260" is like KISS FM lite and WJMO "Praise 1490" plays 24/7 Gospel.

Anonymous said...

WWMK "Disney 1260" is like KISS FM lite and WJMO "Praise 1490" plays 24/7 Gospel.

Exactly. At one time 1260 was the WINNER in Cleveland ratings. Now they don't break the top 25.

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping Brice lands another job. He's a real good guy. Having worked with him for eight years, he's a good guy. Nextmedia is in trouble. They've screwed up everyplace they've entered. Now they're in fire sale mode. AND, it doesn't bode well when your founder Carl Hirsh takes a powder. Can you say Yikes boys and girls?

barrylganoe said...

I have been out of broadcasting for about seven years with WHBC 1480 AM being my final stop. I really liked my co-workers at WHBC and I am deeply saddened by the events that are unfolding on Market Avenue. I want to wish Brice Lewis all my best...he is another true professional! As one of the former hosts of Viewpoint on WHBC, I can attest that the people of Stark County are proud of their community and will demand quality "local" talk radio. I don't believe the syndicated stuff will fly in Canton. I expect the for sale sign will be on the lawn in the not too distant future at WHBC. How sad...I remember our old slogan..."you're listening to a radio tradition." Thank goodness I left radio and work in government now. Best of luck to all of my old Beaverkettle friends!
Dave Strukel...great seeing your post a week ago!

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the posts on the OMW site about WHBC. Nextmedia has gone over the cliff to a point of no return. One OMW poster is right about the Canton market is different and won't take to the national stuff. Local talk won't make it either in Canton. Maybe WHBC should run audio of six feet under from HBO.

Mason Meyer said...

My name is Mason Meyer and I made the above post regarding Fred Chenevey's past radio experience. Fred didn't make those comments about himself.

Although in my position I cannot opine about WHBC's programming decisions, I can defend a true experienced and well-tenured broadcaster.

I don't know the whole history of Fred's radio career. But I do know that he worked at the legendary CKLW in Windsor/Detroit during its prime. For those of you who don't know the station would get about a 20 share at night in younger demos in Cleveland. It was a monster.

Then Fred moved west and I believe worked in the small market of LA at KMPC 710 AM for a few years. Then he took his talent to yet another slacker market, New York City. I am not clear but I believe he worked for both United Sations and then WCBS-AM.

His brother, another no talent, has been with CBS Network Radio news for at least 15 years.

Not bad for two brothers from Alliance, OH. By the way...Fred is a hell of a nice guy and is great in front of his listeners. Whether you like his show or not the man is a true experienced and (at least should be) respected broadcaster.

One other note, I'd love to see OMW keep the comments section but only if posters had to put their real names on the board.

Anonymous said...

My favorite quote ever on this comment section:

"the Canton market is different and won't take to the national stuff"


Yeah they perfer the burgers at Milk and Honey too, that McDonalds thing won't fly in Canton, it's not local.

Check the numbers. That National stuff the locals won't take too on WHLO is beating WHBC-AM in certain dayparts and demos. 12+ no, but some 25-54 persons and in male demos. Glenn Beck/Rush and Hannity in PM drive. WHLO has higher shares in Canton than Akron.

So much for that theory.

Anonymous said...

As a current radio account executive in the local market the 12+ demographic is meaningless compared to more specific demo breakdowns 25-54 men or women. If memory serves me right 1480 ran loudmouth Limbaugh for a sort period and dumped him due to sagging ratings. The one guy is right about Canton listeners who love local programming especially sports stuff. Expect Dennis Miller or any other national talker to go down in a short time at HBC. I wish the best for Brady cause he will bring local flavor to the airwaves. National talk is for AM stations who aren't running Jesus programming. I don't know anyone listening to 640 unless they are a right wing flake. Same goes for 1350 and the left wing flakes. AM radio is dead or dying. HBC is on the way to being history.

Anonymous said...

Much of what is happening at WHBC should have happened more than a decade ago, but Beaverkettle refused to accept that AM radio was changing, and they refused to change with it..

What NextMedia is doing now should have been done when they took the stations over in 2000--why they waited more than six years to see the obvious decline in both stations is a mystery only those in Denver can answer..

Mr. Russell can start a whole new career..he should have been a talk talent to begin with..and now he has his shot..I wish him the best..I can only wonder how the left leaning staff they have still on board will hinder or try to defeat him..

I agree with those who say that Jim Albright should be given a shot at a talk slot..his knowledge of Northeast Ohio Radio, and of the market in general, is encyclopedic..maybe somebody there might finally use him as he should have been used from the beginning..

BTW, Fred lives in Alliance, and Pam in New Philadelphia..not exactly ''in the market'' but close enough..

Anonymous said...

Jim Albright was funny on WNIR he should be given a talk show again in the area.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Nextmedia, I can actually hear Bob "Special K" Krahling and Bill Karrenbauer spinning in their graves. Tears are being shed in heaven over what these outsiders have done to WHBC.

Anonymous said...

I live in Dover and have noticed several local businesses who used to play WJER FM are now playing WHBC FM. MY1017 obviously isn't doing it for them. (Surprisingly most places I go have switched to WJER AM, not my style).

So I guess for every business/listener you claim WHBC is losing, keith, they could be gaining another someplace else.

Personally, me and my boyfriend now listen to 94.1 every morning before work and every evening after work, we love it. Never would have thought I'd be saying that, we used to listen to 92.5 but were so sick of it, then we noticed that 94.1 didn't sound so "old" anymore and now it's pretty much all we have on anytime.

Send us some books Arbitron, we'll be glad to fill them out.

-Former DJ, current real estate agent, big fan of rick, maddy and hunter!

Anonymous said...

That is surprising to me that businesses would be playing an AM station in the office.
The sound is horrible-and if there is a storm or something the static is overbearing.
Speaking of overbearing. The owner and his girlfriend/jock fit that category too.Very tough to listen to them.
Maybe someone actually likes hearing whomever walks in the studio being put on the air, and updates on the latest high school marching band happenings and believe this is good radio.
MY 101.7 is much easier to listen in the office than the too much talk 94-1.
To the person who listens with their boyfriend to 94-1 in the morning. Give 101-7 and Gary Rivers a listen. I think you will like what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

Um, yeah. I tried Gary Rivers once in the morning. Talk about putting whoever walks into the studio on the air. They failed to indentify any of the randoms who were chattering away in the background. And the really exciting event happening on the air at the time I listened was a bunch of people eating potato chips or something. If I want to listen to people eat on the air, I'll listen to Mike Trivisonno.

People listen to AM locally because it's local. Local news, local weather, local personalities who they see at the grocery store and at their kids' basketball games. REgular people don't think about radio the same way you do AT ALL. That's what people seem to continually fail to realize around here. THe stuff that's so important to you means nothing to the average listener. They just want to know if their kids' school is cancelled from snow or if the fireworks start at 9 or 10pm...and maybe have a laugh on their way to or home from work.

Mason Meyer said...

I knew I'd get flamed for missing a little of Fred Chenevy's radio broadcasting history in my above post.

I forgot to mention (and how could I forget this) but after Fred left WXYT in Detroit he went to I believe Omaha. From there he went to the legendary KFRC in San Francisco where he was a part of the morning show with the even more legendary Dr. Don Rose.

Anonymous said...

Who flamed you?

I'm about to! Go write Fred's biography on your own time! If I want to read it, I'll buy the damn book when it comes out!!

Anonymous said...

To the above: Don't be a hater.

Where *does* all this anomosity come from, anyway? Everybody needs to calm down and take a deep breath.

I don't care if your name is Keith Kennedy or Paul Harvey. It's just radio. Sheesh. I've seen better-behaved five-year olds.

Anonymous said...

it soes not suprise me that in dover people are listening to 94.1.
1) it comes in clear, 101.7 no longer does.
2) You clearly have a connection with the old WJER, so offer full disclosure next time and quit being a total ninny. Get in the buggy and travel up I-77 sometime. Walk in and out of storefronts and let us know what you hear.

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