Sunday, June 10, 2007

Eastern Ohio Swap

UPDATE 6/11/07 8:01 PM: Well, not so much. Details on the update to this story are at this link, which is the item just above this on the regular scroll. Here's what we posted Sunday night...


On its way out the door in Ashtabula, Clear Channel is filing for a frequency swap between that area and Youngstown.

The company has filed to move 97.1 FM - the long-time home of AC WREO "Star 97.1" - to McDonald, a small village in Trumbull County.

In turn, 106.1/Niles, the current oldies WBBG "Big 106.1", heads north back up into the Ashtabula area, with a community of license of Geneva-on-the-Lake. (For those keeping score, that is actually a separate community from Geneva, which already has Music Express country outlet WKKY/104.7.)

The facilities changes:

WREO TO YOUNGSTOWN: 97.1 downgrades from a Class B to a Class A facility in its move to the Youngstown market, with the proposed antenna site at the current tower holding Clear Channel sister station rock WNCD/93.3 "The Wolf".

For those keeping score, it's also the antenna home of Cumulus sports WBBW/1240 "ESPN 1240", and is next to the long-time former studio facility on Knox Street.

And since WBBG used to be on 93.3, its new replacement facility will be on the very same tower as its former home.

WBBG TO ASHTABULA: 106.1 stays a Class A outlet in its move up north, with antenna co-located with current Clear Channel sister top 40 WZOO/102.5 Edgewood OH "102ZOO".

Why is this being done?

It would appear that on its way out of Ashtabula, Clear Channel wants to fix up signal problems with 106.1 Niles by supplanting it with the new 97.1.

Even since 106.1 signed on with the original WNCD "CD 106 The Wolf" rock format, long before Clear Channel ended up with the facility, it wasn't all the best for covering the entire Youngstown market.

In fact, current Cumulus AC WLLF/96.7 Mercer PA "The River" once simulcast WNCD, as you can probably tell by the call letters it has kept even to this day.

Problem areas for the 106.1 signal would include the Mahoning Valley's most vital residential areas, like Boardman, Canfield and the like. And if you're in a market that doesn't really see much growth, you've gotta be where the people are living.

The new 97.1 McDonald wouldn't be located as far north as the 106.1 facility is now. It'd be in the heart of the market, co-located with 93.3.

As for the new-to-Ashtabula 106.1 Geneva-on-the-Lake: We presume that's the facility which will be flipped to Tom Embrescia's "Sweet Home Ashtabula", along with the other current Clear Channel Ashtabula facilities (WFUN/970, WYBL/98.3, WZOO/102.5 Edgewood, WFXJ/107.5 North Kingsville).

As for questions about the new 106.1 Class A facility moving west...probably not. It's unlikely for various reasons, including the presence of Cleveland second-adjacents WMJI/105.7 and WMVX/106.5.

Even with (current) common ownership, Clear Channel isn't going to agree to any changes that would even cause fringe-area concerns with its powerful Cleveland stations.

And you can bet Clear Channel isn't dropping this frequency into the hands of Tom Embrescia, if it thought the long-time Cleveland broadcaster could compete with them by trying to move it...


Anonymous said...

Clear Channel just built a new tower on knox street last fall. I'm sure this move has been planned. How soon can this move take place? I guess it will be "Big 97.1" not unless they are going to change formats? I have noticed more 80's on 106.1 as of late. Once the stations are moved will they swap the call letters?

Anonymous said...

So, where are those of you who insisted that Embrescia wanted to move WREO to Cleveland? That it made sense to add one more competitor to a major market?

Anyone with a brain should have been able to understand that Clear Channel wouldn't allow WREO to become a competitor in Cleveland. And that it makes no sense to try and launch yet another new station in the big market.

Tim Lones said...

Would the new Youngstown-Market 97.1 be able to hit the Canton Market at all?..Between WREO and WBNS-97.1 in Columbus, the frequency has been a prime Canton DX target for decades..

Anonymous said...

I just can't hear them say BIG 97.1 WBBG-FM Mcdonald-Youngstown. My question is could and would they flip the format and make it like my 101.7 in Canton or the current WREO-FM star 97.1 and try a soft ac format or try something else?

I know WBBG is competitive in Youngstown and the current rotation of music does ok for them, but would they like to try something different on the frequency?

I think at the very least when they move down the dial, they will rebrand the station if not change the format since this gives clear channel a chance to make changes to the station if they want to and have a fresh start.

Anonymous said...

WAKZ should have went to 97.1. They've done a hell of a job taking down HOT with their 6,000 Watt Western-PA based peashooter signal. Imagine what they could do with a full market signal?

Shows how much CC Ytown cares about their CHR.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Just a note:

We have no idea what happens to 97.1 whenever it scoots down to the Youngstown market.

Considering how long this may take (a year or so?), we don't think there's anything set in stone that "Big" and the oldies format moves to 97.1 when it shows up.

Conversely, there's also no guarantee that Mr. Embrescia-et-al. transplants WREO to 106.1, though that would seem almost a sure bet from this corner.

Would we be surprised if "Kiss" grabs the new full-market 97.1 and they do something else with 95.9/Sharpsville PA? Not really.

But we have no indication that it'll happen, or that WBBG's oldies (classic hits?) format moves to 97.1 when it shows up, either. We don't know if they're even moving those chess pieces on South Avenue yet...

-The Management

Anonymous said...

Let's go down the comments one by one...

I'm the one that originally posited the theory that 97.1 might be able to move closer to Cleveland. If there was a move-in to be done, it would have been done by CC. If Embrescia was keeping 97.1 you can bet that amy kind of Cleveland move-in would be precluded by contract. (That was done some years ago when the WDBN (now WQMX) was sold and the transmitter was moved south to Barberton. Technically, the sticks could have been moved north.

97.1 will not have any impact in Canton.... the only Y-town signal to do that is WQXK and that's because the tower is already halfway to Canton and they're running 88kw. Even with all that going for them 105.1 still has some signal issues in Western Stark Co.

Will the stations swap call letters... most likely so.

Kiss to 97.1? Apparently the bigger issue was problems with 106.1.

Finally.... one has to wonder if the move of 97.1 to Youngstown and downgrading to a class A might offer some possibilities of moving something in adjacent areas... either on 97.1 or on adjacent frequencies. While I haven't researched it in any detail, this move might clear the way for 97.5 to move north... or maybe some other interesting rimshop possibilities. Seems like a lot of pulling around to upgrade "Big's" signal in Y-town. I'd be watching for some colatteral moves in the near future.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Interesting comment there above, and you were gonna say a lot of what we forgot to say in the last comment. :)

One note to keep in mind: though, effectively, the incoming 97.1 signal in CC's Youngstown cluster replaces 106.1, nothing is set in stone. There's no ironclad guarantee that it'll become "Big 97.1".

That's all dependent on how the South Avenue folks feel about WBBG's performance, and if they feel it would benefit from the new signal or if another station would do better moving.

Keep in mind what CC Cleveland did in 2001...the moved-up 96.5 Akron immediately became the home of top 40 "Kiss FM", which had been doing pretty good for a western-market rimshot at 104.9.

We're not saying that the past move by Oak Tree is any guarantee that WAKZ's format moves to the new stick, but... rather, we're saying that "all bets are off" as far as what the new configuration will look like.

(Hey, that'd be a name for a TV talk show...nevermind.)

Seriously, we'll have to take a look at how South Avenue feels about it in about a year or two, whenever the 97.1 signal ends up in Youngstown.


Scott Fybush said...

A 97.1 move into Cleveland would have been a non-starter. There's no grandfathered short spacing between WREO and WAKS, so you'd need 74 km between WAKS (at the Channel 3 tower) and WREO as a full B, or 71 km if WREO downgraded to B1. It *might* have worked as a Geauga County A, for whatever THAT would have been worth. Or it might have worked a bit closer in as an A if 96.5 had stayed put in Akron rather than moving north.

Anonymous said... this is very interesting...

but...YOU READ IT HERE FIRST.....sometimes an FCC filing is just an FCC filing......

this will not happen...

Ohio Media Watch said...

Thank you for your definitive comment, oh anonymous poster.

Perhaps we should close the item and remove it?

Oh, that's right...we DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Feel free to present evidence that this filing is just some sort of paper fun filed by Clear Channel because someone got bored.

No, really. Show your evidence, or quit laughing.


Anonymous said...

The plan apparently has been derailed -- both the WBBG and WREO applications have been dismissed at the request of the applicant today, according to the FCC's CDBS application access.

Probably the buyer of the Ashtabula cluster (rightfully) assumed that they were purchasing a class B on 97.1, not a class A on 106.1.

CC played this game with call letters last year in trying to preserve WWWW by substituting WFOR (as in W-4)in Ann Arbor.

Anonymous said...

okay...let's move update please! :-D

Anonymous said...

Just to correct Scott, WAKS isn't on the Channel 3 tower. Its the WTAM/WZAK stick in Brecksville. I believe it was Channel 3 back in the day, if I read tower site of the week correctly :-D(and WBNX/55 for a minute)

Anonymous said...

Here's your evidence:



I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when this one went down!!