Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Midweek Teasers

Well, mostly teasers, as it's a motley collection of semi-developed items and rumblings...with SOME very solid news...

FAREWELL SOON: OMW was the very first place where the impending retirement of WJW/8 "FOX 8"'s Big Chuck and Lil John was reported in October 2006, much to the chagrin of, well, management on South Marginal Road.

Just one day later, Plain Dealer entertainment/media writer Julie Washington talked to "Big Chuck" Schodowski, who told her that he was considering retirement...oh, right about now, in the summer of 2007.

This clashed with our account that Schodowski and co-host "Lil John" Rinaldi were basically being nudged to the exit door after many years by FOX corporate - not the local management, as we painstakingly said at the time, but the New York-based overseers of our local FOX affiliate here in Cleveland.

Water under the bridge, as far as we're concerned.

Whoever prompted what, Schodowski was gracious about it, and we were reminded that despite appearing ageless, the long-time weekend movie/sketch show host was 72 years old.

So, here we are in May 2007, and OMW hears rumblings that "Big Chuck and Lil John" are about ready to tape their final show. "Is that all there is?"

To that end, OMW readers tell us that Schodowski has been talking on the air about his impending retirement, including a series of spotlights on various regular skit cast members, and talk of a "Best Of" show in prime-time.

It appears the last original show featuring the local TV icons will air sometime late next month...

SMOKE ABOVE SOUTH MARGINAL: According to the latest update of Rick Gevers' "ND List", "FOX 8" has indeed named its new news director:

WJW-TV, Cleveland, OH...late this afternoon SONYA THOMPSON was named ND for this FOX o-and-o. Sonya's been the Assistant ND here for more than ten years. She'll replace as ND the man who promoted her, GREG EASTERLY, who himself was promoted to General Manager last week. Long time EP ANDY FISHMAN has been named Assistant ND to replace Sonya.

We reported here earlier that WJW was looking at two strong in-house candidates...

OVER AT LAKESIDE: We haven't yet learned who'll take the same job (ND) at Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3, though we think that job is also down to two candidates as well - if not one.

But someone's apparently stalking former WKYC/3 news director Mike McCormick. Out of nowhere, we received an unsigned note claiming he'd interviewed for yet another ND opening in the Gulf Coast'll recall that the gossip site NewsBlues earlier reported his interest in running the newsroom at New Orleans' WWL/4.

Both stations would be within relative easy travel distance of McCormick's original home base of Jacksonville FL.

We won't say more than that, as we can't vouch for the veracity of the anonymous note...

NOT "GOOD" FOR ASHLAND/MANSFIELD: That's not "Good" as in "Not GoodRadio.TV", as the official list of Clear Channel small market Ohio spinoffs to that company is out.

And according to AllAccess, as expected, the company's Ashland/Mansfield cluster is not on the list of stations being picked up by former PAX TV/Ion Networks executive Dean Goodman's new radio company.

The other clusters listed here are on the list, including Lima, Findlay, Tiffin, Sandusky, Chillicothe and Marion, as well as Clear Channel's cluster in nearby Wheeling WV - yes, including the 50,000 blowtorch WWVA/1170.

That is particularly interesting, when you remember that Clear Channel filed in 2004 to MOVE that station out of Wheeling to a new COL of the Akron suburb of Stow. The move, of course, was vacated later that year by Clear Channel, for reasons having nothing to do with zoning radio stations in Stow. (Sorry, Denise! Couldn't resist!)

Oh, and AllAccess notes that WSRW-FM/106.7 Hillsboro and WMRN-FM/106.9 Marion's "original facilities" aren't included in the sales, both stations having filed for COL moves under Clear Channel. Both stations' sister AM outlets will stay with GoodRadio.TV, it appears.

WMRN-FM, we presume, stays with Clear Channel whenever it manages to move into Columbus, and we believe WSRW-FM moves to Chillicothe. There's a frequency change or two in there as well.

CC's Ashtabula stations, as reported earlier, are going to veteran Cleveland radio executive Tom Embrescia's "Sweet Home Ashtabula". Yes, Matt is his son, and no, Tom doesn't own the Jamestown NY MediaOne stations, which are owned by his brother.

What about CC's Ashland/Mansfield stations?

Well, one of the biggest problems is that the "Mid-Ohio" cluster is incredibly spread out geographically, with signals bordered on the north by the Sandusky stations, on the northeast by Canton and Akron, and to the south by Columbus.

We've heard the name of Saga thrown out there as a possible suitor, but we can't see them absorbing all those facilities...and would expect that some of the outer stations (i.e. like "Fox Classic Rock" simulcasters WXXF/107.7 Loudonville and WXXR/98.3 Fredericktown) might get split off from the heart of the cluster.

Just a guess on our part...


Anonymous said...

On the Saturday "Just Skits" show the last few weeks, Big Chuck has been mentioning his retirement in June, and each week has featured different members of their cast (i.e. Art LoFredo, Bill Ward, Jim Syzmanski, etc.). And, he and John have also mentioned an upcoming prime-time "Best of" special, so the end is sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

Sonya is a class act and much more responsible for any of Fox-8's success than Easterly. She fully desesrves this.

Anonymous said...

Last we have heard is that the new owner (which is rumored to be Saga) has been in talks with spinning off the far flung WXXF Loudonville to a company who has vested interest in half the signal area.

Rumor has it that Coshocton Broadcasting of Coshocton and Millersburg (owners of WTNS-AM, WTNS-FM and WKLM-FM) is trying to pick up WXXF-FM as a Loudonville station bringing it back to its roots.

Anonymous said...

Boy, FOX corporate really doesn't have a clue about the Cleveland market. The ratings are some of the highest nationwide, and much of that is due to the "local & veteran presence" of such icons as Big Chuck, Lil John, Dick Godard, Wilma Smith, etc. You'd think the WJW success would be a MODEL for other FOX affils nationwide, instead of corporate trying to tear down a legend. I have no respect for FOX whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

I'd say the only "safe" place to work in mid Ohio, is the family owned WVNO. I'm told the owner has been offered several million for his properties, but refuses to sell out. Funny, but there may be something to the fact that the staff there has been together for many years.

Anonymous said...

My package is already in to Goodman!

Anonymous said...

I say bring back Houlihan for the final show!

Anonymous said...

Big Chuck's ratings are very was a nice run, but it's time to move on.

Anonymous said...

Robin Swoboda's ratings are low too. When are they going to cancel that junk they call TV in the morning. And how long before Robin shows up for the 110th time out of retirement

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that complete segments of "Hoolihan & Big Chuck" are now being posted on YouTube - the main poster apparently having oodles of archived BETA tapes dating back to 1976!

Even more interesting is that the video quality on the tapes is pretty good, given that it's 30+ years old!

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

SO how does one "save" YouTube videos to their hard drive??

Anonymous said...

Hoolihan and Big Chuck were the best hosts. No offense agaisnt Lil John but I think he worked best as a sidekick with Hoolihan and Big Chuck

Tim Lones said...

The same YouTube poster Nathan references above also has several clips and complete newscasts (no commercials) from the same 1976-77 era, Including Judd Hambrick's debut at NewsCenter 8, The first day sign-on of WJKW-TV (4-22-77), and other newscast clips and shows from channels 3 and 5.

Johnny Morgan said...

A small hint:

The same YouTube poster that we're all referencing also runs a tribute site for a famous Top 40 station in town, whose name rhymes with 1260.

One reason why he has a good deal of the 1988 WMJI/[this unnamed station rhyming with Pixie] reunion posted on YouTube.

His first collection and indeed his career for a while was collecting, cataloguing, and generally being an expert on Beta video and video tape machines (which were industry, but not consumer, standard until the dawning of the cntemporary digital age in the last decade).

74WIXYgrad said...

Hey John,

Give me another clue. what radio station were you referring to?

BTW, I heard a few minutes of your show this past Sunday. I was able to get a faint signal on my mp3 player. Next time I will try my boombox. Anyway the host was a very articulate dude.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Fox 8 really missed the boat by not promoting Fishman to News Director. Sonya Thompson? (Oh boy, this otta be good)

And TV 3 should remove it head from the sand get Rita Adolsen in the ND seat-now!

Johnny morgan said...


Sadly, the articulate dude was not me. I was out of town.

Drats. Now I have a lot to surpass should you hear me.

74WIXYgrad said...

Well then, maybe if I have reason to be awake next Sunday, I will tune in again.

Anonymous said...

Bring back the Hoolihan and Big Chuck Show for one episode!

Anonymous said...

Yes," Hoolihan & Big Chuck" were the best without a doubt! They interacted better than Chuck & John do.
Basically, they were funnier, Little John as host is as funny as watching burnt toast! He was better as a side kick! I really can't believe the show made it this far. Plus John plays the same basic character in every skit, were Bob "Hoolihan" Wells was more versatile.

If Chuck is being pushed out the door along with John at "fun Center 8", the two of them should pack up their stuff and go to another station, & do newer skits!

Maybe they could teamup with "The Son Of Ghoul", or maybe not!
Big Chuck's Certain Ethnic character is still the best, along with Hoolihan's "Readings By Robert" , anything Art Lofredo did, & many Skit featuring Little John. Don't get me wrong John is quite funny, but he works better at one of the player, than the featured attraction!
This past week, was on the second time in the shows long run, that Herb "Soulman Thomas was given a special night, why?? I loved it though.
Until Next Time, Give Peace A Chance!