Yes, we're still here, for now. So we probably owe you some updates...
MORE WHBC TALKING: As NextMedia oldies WHBC/1480 Canton moves towards what looks like a firm date for the launch of its talk format on April 2nd, we have been pondering who will take the mid-morning time slot - you know, 10 AM-noon, the slot between the morning show with Fred Chenevey and Pam Cook, and Westwood One syndicated talker Dennis "Obscure Cultural References" Miller.
Did you notice? We said "pondering".
And for good reason, as OMW hears that it's all but official - Canton community activist Ron Ponder will be the host in that time slot.
We don't live in Canton, so we don't know much about him. But a quick Google search turns up his current role as chairman of the group "Coming Together Stark County" and a prior stint heading up the Canton branch of the NAACP.
Ponder apparently also does video production out of his own Canton-based firm, and for at least some time, hosted a public affairs program called "Ponder The Issues" on Canton LPTV outlet WIVM-LP/52. We don't know how long the program lasted, but it's not on the station's current schedule...a station which has since added simulcaster WIVN-LP/29 Newcomerstown, aimed at Dover-New Philadelphia.
We also turned up links to black gospel outlet WINW/1520 "Joy 1520", back a few years ago not long after it restarted.
You'd expect with his community group experience, he'd get compared to another African-American community activist - WTAM/1100 Sunday night host Art McKoy. But we're not sure they're all that similar, based on what we've read about Ponder.
We believe he was one of the Sunday night tryout hosts after Brady Russell, who's already launched into talk on his new weekday program.
So, assuming all the I's get dotted and T's crossed with Mr. Ponder, the WHBC weekday talk radio lineup will be complete. We still understand that the station has eyes on either Sporting News Radio or FOX Sports Radio for nights and some weekend fill, though we have no idea what else the station plans to run on weekends...
WHILE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT WHBC: A long-time voice recently departed from the halls at Market Street South has landed across town. Or is that "up I-77"?
Clear Channel AC WHOF/101.7 "my 101.7" has hired Brice Lewis for weekends. Lewis was the veteran afternoon drive host on AM 1480, until he was let go last week to make way for the station's move from oldies to talk.
Brice writes on his brand new WHOF web page:
My wife has been listening to WHOF since it began in January and she kept telling me I should move to 101.7FM. I took her advice.
I'm excited to join the staff of the new My 101.7. I can't wait to get on the air and spend time with you again. I'll be on My 101.7 in just a few days, I can't wait.
Lewis' first appearance on his new station will be Saturday, where he'll take the 10 AM-3 PM shift. He's also scheduled from 12-5 PM on Sundays. And no, we have no idea if he'll be live in studio or voicetracked.
The page reminds us that Brice Lewis has also had history on the FM side of WHBC, aka "Mix 94.1", so it's actually a return to the Canton FM band for him...
HD SKYFOX: OMW hears that as hinted earlier here, FOX O&O WJW/8 has put its "SkyFOX HD" helicopter on the air.
An Alert OMW Reader tells us the HDTV helicopter pictures made a brief appearance Thursday on "FOX 8 News In The Morning", before the chopper had to land due to the weather.
It's surely the first HD helicopter of what will be many in the Cleveland market, which features more HD newscasts than any market in America. And we couldn't help but notice that NBC affiliate WKYC/3 features a brief shot of its helicopter in the promos for its own HD newscast. If that means anything, we don't know...
NOT HD, BUT CD: That's not "compact disc", but "cat defense".
It's the buzz all around the market, and two OMW readers have sent us a link to video of the event.
Poor Kathleen Cochrane. She looks like someone who wouldn't upset animals. But during a live shot on an animal cruelty sentence, the FOX 8 News reporter was holding a cat...who was clearly not thrilled with being co-opted for a live report.
So much so, the cat - which was meowing rather loudly the entire time, decided to take a swipe at Ms. Cochrane.
Kathleen holds her own - after letting the cat down, she recovered and acquitted herself very well. And though FOX 8's Bill Martin told her that the video would "end up on a reel somewhere" at the end of the live shot, he needs to adjust his cultural references - for it's already on YouTube. (If it's up on WJW's own FOX8Cleveland.com, we can't find it.)
As far as we know, Cochrane suffered no injuries from the close encounter of the feline kind...
AND HOW COULD WE MISS THIS?: We'll repeat that our normal base is in Northeast Ohio - basically, the Cleveland and Youngstown TV markets cover the same territory. But we do venture into other parts of the state from time to time.
And this one? Well, it's huge if you're a Southwest Ohio radio listener.
Gary Burbank, whose afternoon drive program has graced the airwaves of Clear Channel talk WLW/700 - with even some regional syndication - for 27 years, will retire at the end of 2007 when his contract expires.
Cincinnati Enquirer media guru John Kiesewetter has more in this article from a week ago.
Outside the Queen City, listeners may know Burbank for the syndicated comedy bit featuring his best known on-air character - "Earl Pitts, Real Amerikun" - which is still syndicated to over 160 stations.
Clear Channel Cincinnati AM operations chief Darryl Parks calls Burbank "an icon" and a "true entertainer".
So, who do you replace a "true entertainer" with?
Both Kiesewetter and the Cincinnati Post's Rick Bird take on the question. The prevaling thought is that the slot will stay local and stay in the entertainment vein. Bird even has rumblings about a possible replacement: sister rock WEBN/102.7's long-time "Dawn Patrol" host Eddie Fingers, who's filled in for Burbank.
But Mr. Fingers (did we just type that?) is backing off from talking about the speculation, noting that Gary will still be leading the "BBC" for another few months...and claims he has no idea what direction the show will take after Burbank heads off to Retirementland...