Thursday, March 15, 2007

Winding Down

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.

Ron who?

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, 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...


Anonymous said...

Ron Ponder, Dennis Miller and Brady Russell as the talk line-up for WHBC? You must be kidding me.

First I am all for WHBC going talk. I think it will help the station and there are more sales opportunities with talk radio. But a very mediocre talk host in Ponder, a very green synicated host (and mostly failed broadcaster) Dennis Miller, and a VERY green talk host Brady Russell is not how you launch a talk station. They don't have anyone at the station as a PD who has talk experience including Pam Cook. The only entity in the building with talk experience is Jim Albright who they apparently keep in the basement and he doesn't even have his own show.

What are they smoking there? It would be like a bunch of people who ran a country radio station deciding to flip to urban and not hiring anyone on the air or to program the station that has any urban radio experience. I just don't get it.

Don't people at Next Media relaize that a talk station is not about turing off the music and simply putting someone behind a live mic with a phone and a phone number? Talk radio is about the host and the experience they bring everyday. It is about a master story teller, a person who can evoke passion and emotion, a person who cn make a listener laugh one moment, cry the next, get pissed off right after crying and then laugh again. A talk radio PD can orchestrate a dynamic staff into creating a truely deep experience daily with listeners. Look at KGO, WLW, KMOX, KTAR or KOA and those are serious role models for talk stations. Even WNIR which is low budget and at times amaute sounding but works wonders. Why? Because each host creates a very unique experience that is truely riveting for the listeners. When they had Piatt in the AM, Howie middays, Finan afternoons and Jim Albright in the evenings they were probably one of the most dynamic, unique stations in the country. And it worked.

I like the people at Next Media Canton and hope it works. But hope doesn't make success. I wish they would think a little deeper about what Stark county listeners and consumers want in a talk station.

Anonymous said...

Maybe "Next Media" just thinks Ohioans are country bumpkins and will listen to anything they throw on their airwaves.

Anonymous said...

I found the video of the cat incident on Fox 8's website, but I only found it through searching for "cat attack" on their main page. The You Tube clip has the entire segment, while the version on WJW's site only has her intro.

Anonymous said...

AMEN! OMW-Thanks for cleaning up the comment sections.

Ron Ponder worked as an assistant to the former Mayor of Canton Sam Purses. (84-92)

1993/1994 Ponder and Curtis Perry III "CAP 3" began brokering time on WNPQ-FM on Sunday morning for "The Soul of NPQ". The show was gospel music each Sunday 6am-noon.
The pair split up and Cap 3 ended up on 1520.

If you've ever been bored enough to watch public access TV, he's hosted a few shows on TWC.

If Ponder is the host, he MIGHT be buying the time from whbc .

ALMOST any time Ron is around a mic, the subject is the same, race relations, equal rights.

VODood said...

"Earl Pitts, Uhmerikan" is carried on WTOD/Supertalk 1560 Toledo.

For years and years WMJI's John Lanigan ran the bit.

Great stuff!

I'm told Gary will continue doing Earl after he retires.

Anonymous said...

I believe I remember hearing Gary during morning drive on CKLW-AM before he moved to WLW-AM. Even then, he had amazing characters and was truly entertaining.

Anonymous said...

At one point in the mid-90's, Gary Burbank's whole three-hour show was syndicated regionally. WAKR/1590 in Akron was one of the affiliates back in their second go-around as a talk station.

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

It's true, "Canton-ians" ARE country bumkins. 20-25% have ALWAYS flocked like sheep to the HBC stations. It is so very sad...

Anonymous said...

"Your Music, Your Mix, Mix 94.1"

"Your Music, Your Station, Q104"



even more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Who should "Canton-ians" (sp?) listen to these days? 1520 ain't exactly lighting up the books these days...or nights. *L* Sorry, it was a bad joke. :-) Ditto on WCER and the former WQIO...

Anonymous said...

The first poster in this discussion hits several important nails squarely on the head..

NextMedia has talk experience..several of their remaining stations have been talk for a while now..but what they are doing in Canton represents a huge and, you could say, historic gamble..

For all its faults, WHBC-AM has been the 12+ #1 for how many books in a row? (and yes I know 12+ has no meaning from a sales perspective..but it it what it is)

And its about to get blown up..

NextMedia was about to do this about three years ago, from what my sources tell me, and then backed off..Clear Channel was then able to set up WHLO and Free Radio 1350 and take whatever talk programming could have been avaliable for NextMedia to grab.

WCERs flip to talk only complicated matters..

So here we have Denver's 43 point 5 million dollar investment about to take a flying leap into the great unknown..with no real idea of what its trying to do on either station..other then to survive until someone can come along and put a check together with the right amount of zeros..with a ''35'' before the first comma..

and on a final note..

Gotta love that little backhanded Bitch Slap Brice Lewis aimed at his former employers..thanks for the great laugh..

Anonymous said...

60% of HBCA's audience is 55+. They may increase the audience 25-54 by a bit, but they will lose a huge percentage of their core (55+). Watch the 12+ numbers dip below a 10 share in the spring book. Make all the changes you want, HBCA will never bill what they have billed in the past. The "Tradition" is dead.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the bad information. HBCA actually had 81% of their audience 55+ in the most recent book. 81 PERCENT!!

Anonymous said...

Most of the callers I've heard so far to Brady Russell's show sounded 65+....and even on the mighty WHBC, it seems like he's having the usual difficulty getting quality callers while the show is still getting established.
2 examples (out of 4 call's I've heard) - One lady asked why they were having a call in show while people were driving home - wouldn't it encourage people to talk on their cell phones while driving? The other lady was introduced as "wanting to talk about the Buckeyes," and once she got on the air - she just wanted to know when the basketball game was on TV...and Brady didn't even know! He finally got the info after a minute of scrambling around and explaining how they didn't have internet access in the studio.

Anonymous said...

so i've been flipping around the dial in the past few days searching for a perfect radio station in northeast ohio. perfect format, perfect imaging, perfect on-air personalities...i mean just 100% quality radio 24/7. i'm in complete shock right now because it seems like every station in and around the market could do SOMETHING a little better...

you see, there are so many people around here who have so much time on their hands to monday-morning-quarterback everyone else's decisions, i naturally assumed that they all work for stations that are already flawless.