Tuesday, May 08, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Ashtabula CC Pickup A Local One

In our continuing coverage of the disposition of the Clear Channel small market clusters in Ohio, we've noted that the company's Ashtabula cluster was one that is apparently NOT going to GoodRadio.TV, the company started by former PAX-TV/ION Networks president Dean Goodman out of Florida.

It turns out that we were correct. And the identity of the buyer may be quite an interesting surprise for local media types.

AllAccess reports that Clear Channel's Ashtabula stations are being sold to a new company called "Sweet Home Ashtabula".

And though the company name means nothing to anyone, the big name behind it is certainly familiar to long-time Cleveland radio types: company chairman Tom Embrescia.

We wrote about Mr. Embrescia back in October of last year, when he was listed as one of a number of creditors in the Air America Radio bankruptcy filing.

The former owner of then-WWWE/1100 (today's Clear Channel talk WTAM) and WDOK/102.1 (now owned by CBS Radio) has been doing a lot of non-radio things, including holding the rights to a top-level domain and selling framed artwork online.

It would now appear that he's ready to jump back into the business of owning radio stations, at least in Ashtabula, at any rate. (We're told he may own stations in the Jamestown NY area, though we can't identify which stations those would be.)

The Ashtabula Clear Channel cluster includes talk WFUN/970, AC WREO/97.1 "Star 97.1", top 40 WZOO/102.5 "102 ZOO", rock WFXJ/107.5 "The Fox", and the newcomer in the stable, country WYBL/98.3 "The Bull".

Matt Embrescia is listed as president of the new company. We'll assume that's a son of Tom's or other relative.

OMW has no indications, at this time, that Mr. Embrescia plans to expand his new broadcast empire beyond the northeastern most radio market in Ohio. But we're sure folks will speculate about that...right here...


Anonymous said...

Any idea of how soon this will finalize and the new owners will be in control?

Also, does this mean less VTing? Or everything completely automated/satellite?

What is this new owner's philosophy on localism?

collegedj86 said...

Minor edit: WFXJ is on 107.5, not 105.7.

I don't know much about most of the signals, however, 97.1 gets great fringe coverage to the south in cars from personal experience.

Anonymous said...

97.1 has a strong signal along the Lake Erie shoreline and reaching Avon Lake and beyond. They are doing a WDOK type AC format. From what I know Tom E. runs stations lean and mean with voice tracking and syndication. He owns some stations in Jamestown NY. This still could provide an opportunity for voice tracking work for many of the Cleveland announcers who are currently not doing airshifts like Scott Howett, Ravenna, Lisa D., Denny Sanders, Matt the Cat and Sandy Bennett). It would be a way to create instant identity and for 97.1 to show in Lake and Cuyahoga County Arbitron diaries.

Johnny Morgan said...

Anonymous 7.22am:

The Jamestown stations are owned by Jim Embrescia, Tom's brother, through his long-time company Media One.

Anonymous said...

Generally it takes about 90 days once paperwork is sent to the FCC for control to be established from one owner to the other..subscribe to the FCC Daily Digest and you can follow the progress on a number of things..

Anonymous said...

mr omw...

if one wanted to send you an e mail how would they ???

Anonymous said...

Yessir...they own Jamestown New York as well. Media One has..

1240 WJTN News/Talk
1340 WKSN Oldies
93.3 WWSE Adult Contemporary
101.9 WMHU Country
103.1 WQFX Classic Rock

In Ashtabula there will be

970 WFUN News/Talk
97.1 WREO Adult Contemporary
98.3 WYBL Country
102.5 WZOO CHR/Mainstream Pop
107.5 WFXJ Classic Rock

Johnny Morgan said...

To the email seeker...

Try the main page, clicking the link to the left: "Email OMW"

Johnny Morgan said...

Folks, once again:

JIM Embrescia owns Media One Group, which owns and operates the Jamestown, NY stations.

TOM Embrescia's company is buying the Ashtabula stations.

Media One is NOT affiliated with the Ashtabula venture.

Anonymous said...

970 AM is a classic radio station. Signed on in the 1930's as WICA ("Industry, Commerce, Agriculture") by Claude Rowley, it stayed in his family until CC bought it.

In Ashtabula, when people wanted the weather or bulletins, if someone said, "turn on the radio", they meant 970AM (it changed to WREO when the Rowleys incorporated as Radio Enterprises of Ohio and later WFUN).

The FM has, at times, gathered good ratings in Erie, PA. It's a 50kw, and originally signed on as a 200kw (decent signal in Toledo, not so great near the stick). The current format was adopted in the early 1990's and is satellite-transmitted.

The Rowleys had a tv station in there in the late 1950's (WICA-TV channel 15). Not enough UHF tvs in the field in those days, so the station went dark. The antenna was still visible on the main tower as recently as the early 1990's.

I'll guess a local broadcaster like Embrescia knows much of this. Hopefully, he'll respect the needs of the locals with his plans.

Anonymous said...


This is almost as good as the Berlin wall coming down.

"Mr. Mays, Tear down that wall!"
- Concerned radio vets everywhere.

Tom Lavery said...

Actually, 101.9 is WHUG. They did change call letters for a brief time to WMHU as "102 Moo." The WHUG calls were brought back a short time later.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that they will keep the same formats, same staff, same everything. If it ain't broke. I never heard the Fox. Is it live, voice tracked or syndication? I hear 97.1 on in businesses in Lake country more than I hear WDOK and WMJI.

Anonymous said...

I think Jim Embrescia owned WRQK when it was "Untamed Radio" which was an ususual mix of hair band rock and alternative back sometime in the late 80s through early 90s. It was also a proving ground for future Cleveland talent. I think at least five or six of their jocks ended up on Cleveland radio.

Anonymous said...

those were the days when smaller markets were the farm teams for major markets. that is the problem radio has today. voice tracking replaced the farm teams and it will come back to haunt major market radio very soon if not already.

Anonymous said...

Deny Sanders is GM of Telos in Cleveland. He doesn't "need" an on air gig.

Anonymous said...

John Bulmer, aka "Harpo" to those who worked for him, owned WZOO-FM Ashtabula from approximately 1989 til it's sale to The Rowleys in early 2000-01. The Rowley's then sold out to CC.

Bulmer also owned stations in Findlay, which went to CC, and Logansport IN.

I believe Bulmer later invested in VOX Communications.

Not sure what he's doing now.

Anonymous said...

WRQK was at one time consulted by John Gorman.

His wife, Ravenna Miceli, worked there briefly before being brought up to replace Mike Ivers when G-Man got to WMJI.

Later Gorman would bring up Lou Santini and Jennifer Wylde from WRQK to WMMS "Next Generation".

Anonymous said...

Sandy Bennett is at Sunny 95 in Columbus ...NOT going to Ashtabula

Anonymous said...

Once had a dealing with Tom Embrescia in the late 80'. what a total jerk.

Anonymous said...

"Once had a dealing with Tom Embrescia in the late 80'. what a total jerk."

Well I worked for Tom in the late 80's. He was (and I assume still is) a class act.

Yes, they tend to run their operations lean but they get the job done.

Also on another note, the owners of WFUN-WREO could not have owned WZOO in 1990 or 91. The law allowing duopolies was not in effect until 1994.

One has to wonder if Embrescia will move the towers closer to Cleveland. Under current regs 97.1 could be moved about 10 miles to the west, right on the Lake County border. From that site, they would have a decent rimshot that would cover from downtown Cleveland and east

Anonymous said...

You're right. Bulmer still owned the ZOO in 1991 and 1992 as well. They were still competing hard with the Rowleys at that time.

Bulmer signed on a number of 3kw "drop-ins" in the late-80's and early '90's. With the exception of WZOO, he got them up and running cheap and sold for a quick profit. He seemed more interested in keeping WZOO, for some reason.

There's no way that REO tower is moving. They have a great situation there in a watershed lowland. Also, it is putting a very strong signal in Erie and the station is well-established there. Even if the ratings have dropped (I haven't seen them in years), the potential to promote it and re-build the ratings is still there.

I don't know if they still have the MUZAK franchise, but the Rowleys made more money in Erie on MUZAK than everything else combined. It moved on 97.1's side channels.

Anonymous said...

Bulmer built

WZOO in Ashtabula
"102 Zoo"

WZOQ in Wapakoneta/Lima
"92 Zoo"

WHMQ in North Baltimore/Findlay
"Q107 FM"

WHZR-FM Logansport
"Hoosier 103.7"

WJBI-FM Waterville
-This signal was given back to the FCC

In 1991, he sold WZOQ and WHMQ to Keymarket who also owned WYRX in Lima "93 Y Rock". Keymarket sold the stations to sister company Forever Broadcasting who owned WAJC and WCIT in Lima.

WHZR was spun off to Logansport Broadcasting who was purhased by Mid America Media.

WZOO, well you know where that went.

Anonymous said...

"There's no way that REO tower is moving. They have a great situation there in a watershed lowland."

Let's see... choice of a rim-shot into market #25 or market #168... which would I choose??? A watershed lowland is a great site for an AM tower because of enhanced ground wave. However, that is a disadvantage to an FM station. I agree, the AM would probably not move, but who knows with new owners with Cleveland roots. The one thing that might keep Embrescia from moving the tower might be a non-compete covenant in the sale.

Anonymous said...

Bulmer recently sold his last stations, WDOE and WBKX in Dunkirk/Fredonia NY, to the Finger Lakes Radio Group, which has a cluster further east in the Geneva area.

At last account, he was down in Florida relaxing and waiting for the next chapter to unfold.

Anonymous said...

Only Jim Embrescia and not Tom was involved with WRQK? I do know that
in addition to Lou Santini, Ravenna Miceli and Jennifer Wylde John Gorman hired Debbie Vincent for WMMS who also worked at WRQK WONE ( before WRQK ) and WENZ ( after WRQK ). I believe Debbie was also acting PD at WRQK for a short time. He hired former WRQK PD Spaceman Scott back to WMMS when he "cleaned up his act". In that timeline he brought in Lisa Rodman a former PD at a New Orleans station he was consulting ( Z-something )to WRQK, where she became PD after "Big Dave" ( can't remember his last name. ) who replaced Spaceman Scott when he was forced to resign. Lisa also worked at WMMS-WHK owners' OmniAmerica's research company Elephant Land ( I never understood that name ) before going to WNWV whose PD Bernie Kimball worked for Gorman at both WHK and WNCX. He also brought WKYC meterologist Mark Nolan to WMJI for weekends after hearing him on a short lived oldies station ( "Kool?" ) in Canton. I don't think Gorman and Ravenna were married at the time and if I am not mistaken he brought her to WRQK from WAAF in Boston. Gorman's Untamed Radio format ( that also ran in Boston, New Orleans, Ft. Lauderdale and a few other stations and at least another one owned by Jim? Tom? Both? Embrescia ) was a template for the WMMS Next Generation format which initially played a mix of alternative and mainstream rock before it moved to a quasi-alternative format.

Anonymous said...

The FCC granted WREO a translator in Erie at 96.7 in 2004. As far as I know, CC never used it but they do promote WREO in Erie and do local promotions and contests. A problem WREO does have in Erie, is its name. Star 104 is the dominant Erie station, thus Star 97 is not known very well as it is an out of market signal. A name change is needed so they can compete better.

Anonymous said...

"He also brought WKYC meterologist Mark Nolan to WMJI for weekends after hearing him on a short lived oldies station ( "Kool?" ) in Canton. "

If you call 8 years short lived, then I suppose you're right.
Kool 92 became Z92.5 and now Q92.
Mark Nolan also worked on-air at WKDD for a while, if I am not mistaken.
This was after his gig with WAKC TV 23 I believe.

Anonymous said...

Let's see... choice of a rim-shot into market #25 or market #168... which would I choose???

I would choose the market where I have established ties and recognition and fewer competing stations. Especially if it's a shorter drive from the stick.

I would not choose to be one of dozens of stations in the larger market, where almost no one knows my station.

The anonymous 8:24 who mentioned the confusion with the "star" name makes an excellent point.

Anonymous said...

I know this is getting a little off the thread. I remember when WMJI was called the home for wayward DJs because Gorman would offer shifts to whomever was out of work and in doing so always had strong talent on even on weekends. Landecker, Gina St. John, Ken Morgan, Bob Becker, Vickie Sue Winston among them.
Related to that is that Embrescia stations whether it was Tom or Jim or both ran their stations lean. M-105 and WRQK jocks were paid barely above minimum wage. With voice tracking and syndication I doubt budgets will change in Ashtabula and if anyting will be run even cheaper than Clear Channel budgets allowed. The Embrescias are also known for their liberal use of "Trade-o on the radio"

Anonymous said...

Why do Clevelanders continually want to hear has beens on the air? What is this fascination with Matt the Cat, Denny Sanders,Scott Howitt, Spaceman Scott. My gosh move out of the early 1980s already!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It could be that the current crop of radio talent (if you could call them that) is pretty bad and most are unrelated to Cleveland. Are you saying Trivisonno is better than Kid Leo or Scott Howitt? Are you saying Bob & Tom is better than Jeff & Flash? (Lanigan is the last of the great old breed still around) Are you saying Jen Toohey, Lorie Bradley or Dawn Robinson is better than Ravenna Miceli or Matt the Cat or Dia or Betty Korvan? Are you saying (whoever is on nights at WMMS) is better than Denny Sanders?
Even the losing stations had better talent like Dancin' Danny Wright, Byrdman, Brandy Kelogg, Bill Stallings. There are no farm team stations for new talent to develop and there are no program directors to nuture talent and there are no single station sales managers to insure maximum output in that department. Yes, it was better then.

Anonymous said...

Hey you still have Mook and Dum on WNCX if you want to hear old time talent. Those are two of the cream of the crop yeah right. This is 2007 time to move on stop living in the past.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly WRQK paid their overnight jock Pat Conley about 8,200 in 1991 and Lou Santini a whopping 10,000 the same year. This was when the station was consulted by John Gorman. I think the part time weekenders were making like $3.35 an hour.

Anonymous said...

"I would choose the market where I have established ties and recognition and fewer competing stations. Especially if it's a shorter drive from the stick."

Why fight over scraps in Erie... maybe a $10M revenue market at best..... when you can get a shot at $100M+ in Cleveland? If you moved the stick 10 miles to the west it would be pretty much equidistant to either city. Actually, you could have your cake and eat it too. There are currently unused allotments in both Ashtabula (96.1) and Erie (95.9). Move the WREO sticks east and become a Cleveland contender. Move the WREO intellectual property to 96.1 and simulcast on 95.9.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure about 95.9??
Don't forget the big "FM 96" from Ontario

Anonymous said...

Yeah my Model T in 1905 sure ran great too cause gas didn't cost too much. Put the DJs out to pasture already. Matt the Cat Jeff Kinzbach, Ed" I never met a Democrat I wouldnt shill for" Ferenc. Time for different people on the air.

Anonymous said...

"Are you sure about 95.9??"

I got this from the FCC website and it listed 95.9 as a Class A "vacant allotment" assigned to Erie, PA. It does seem strange that CFPL's 300kw stick is only about 90 miles away, but there it is on the site. I think I had heard somewhere that US and Canadian stations are only protected to their respective home shorelines when the signal goes over water. The only area that the stations would likely interfere with each other would be over the lake. On land, CFPL's signal would be marginal enough that because of the capture ratio of FM receivers interference from CFPL would not be an issue. I've noted that there are quite a few shared class B allotments between Detroit and Cleveland with only about 100 air miles between the two cities. There are stations on 93.1, 95.5, and 99.5 in both cities and I beleive are all full-power class B's, although normal spacing should be around 150 miles.

If anyone has more info on this, I'd be interested to hear it.

Here is the link: http://www.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/fmq?list=0&appid=668989

Anonymous said...

... I might add to the above that there is currently a CP for a LPFM on 95.9 in Erie. However, a full-service FM (Class A or higher)would take precedence on that channel and send the LPFM looking for a new home on the dial.

Anonymous said...

Going back even further. When Tom and Jim Embrescia owned WWWM in Cleveland they were paying their jocks barely over minimum wage including "names" like Bill Stallings, Dawg Johnson and Suzie Peters.

Anonymous said...

I can vouch for the above comment. I was there. The only one who made any money was David Spero.
Tom Sullivan

Anonymous said...

Why fight for scraps in Erie? Why fight even more stations for scraps in Cleveland, where nobody knows you? Do you really think a cheapskate like Embrescia is going to spend big to promote a "new" Cleveland station? Do you think there was ever a good reason for small and medium market stations? WREO was both at the same time, since it covered the small, Ashtabula market, and the medium Erie market.

Move the stick and the station becomes another face in the crowd. The face that no one knows.