Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Fatigue

With weekend-long discussion of Friday's biggest media story, the placement of five Clear Channel Cleveland-operated FMs into a trust for eventual sale - and the developments over the weekend in the Jessie Davis Case Media Circus - we feel exhausted on this Monday.

But, we'll get to the hits:

A PLAUSIBLE EXPLANATION: Some of our commenters have posted possible scenarios for the first item, the move by Clear Channel to place all of its Oak Tree-located FMs into a new trust - presumably to bring the company under ownership caps so it can complete the sale to private equity funds.

And we kept saying it, as did others: To the best of our knowledge, the folks at Oak Tree only need to flip a single FM outlet to someone else in Cleveland. Many had even assumed that it would mean Akron-licensed 96.5 moves south again, even into the company's Akron/Canton operations from similar to former facilities. With that, the "strongest four" formats would occupy the remaining four FM stations licensed to Cleveland.

So? Why would the company tab all FIVE FM stations that are in the Oak Tree World Domination HQ?

We'd have to agree with the speculation that CC is "overdoing it" in the trust flip-offs, trying to grease quick approval from the feds. Then, presumably, they'd "do the math" and flip many of the stations back into the company from the Aloha Trust.

It would appear from this end that the folks at Oak Tree have not decided which of the five signals they are removing from Cleveland, either to another owner or to themselves elsewhere.

This buys 'em time, and allows the private equity sale to go through faster. And it would seem quite likely that all CC would have to do to regain the four FM signals it wants to keep in Cleveland would be to, well, withdraw the application to transfer them to Aloha Trust.

One BIG thing signaling this to us: At least as of this writing, these five FMs are the only ones in the trust application. Not listed are talk WTAM/1100 in Cleveland, along with Akron AM combo talk WHLO/640 and sports WARF/1350. Not listed are any of the three Stark County-licensed FMs run out of Freedom Avenue - WKDD/98.1 Canton, WHOF/101.7 North Canton and WRQK/106.9 Canton.

(Though, as mentioned, the former Clear Channel stations in Michigan, traded by the company for WRQK are up there, because they're already going away.)

If you were looking to exit Cleveland as a market, why would you leave one of your biggest signals off the list? Why would you hang onto the smaller Akron and Canton markets? We're making the assumption here that Friday's filings are the last made in the Great Aloha Trust Station Move, which we believe they are, from what we've read.

So, anyway...we love speculation, but don't expect a Knight On A White Horse to come in and "rescue" us from modern corporate radio programming styles. Most of the time, that's about as likely to come true as a fictional TV news anchor and congressman turning into a modern-day Noah....

BUSY WEEKEND: And that other story, the one spilling over into "real life", ratcheted up over the weekend, with discovery of the body of Jessie Marie Davis of Stark County's Lake Township in an Akron-area park, and with word that not only Canton police officer Bobby Cutts - but a female friend of his - has been arrested.

Word started moving quickly among local TV and radio reporters, and newspaper types, somewhere in the 3-4 PM hour, and the news started being reported somewhere in that time frame by stations like Rubber City Radio's WAKR/1590 in Akron - with a later simulcast on the other two stations in the cluster, country WQMX/94.9 Medina and rock WONE/97.5 Akron.

We still suffer from Inability To Hear WHBC/1480 Disease, so we didn't hear what the NextMedia talk outlet did on Saturday. But they were quoted by with the major breaking developments a little later, at about 5 PM.

We also don't have any tidbits on how Clear Channel's WTAM/1100 and WHLO/640 covered things on Saturday, though we'd be shocked if WTAM "lead team reporter" Greg Sabre wasn't in near-permanent residence down there.

TV-wise, we heard WOIO/19' "19 Action News" anchor Sharon Reed getting dramatic on CNN Saturday afternoon via telephone, reporting some personally sourced information received, she said, by a friend of the Cutts family who she's been talking with for some time.

And just Sunday night, as we were starting to put this item together, we saw WKYC/3's Akron/Canton Bureau Chief Eric Mansfield live on a "special" edition of CNN's "Larry King Live".

Not "special" enough, we guess, to get Larry out of taking a day off before that heavily hyped Paris Hilton interview"...Larry was replaced in a newly-live weekend edition of his own show by someone we didn't recognize. But Larry, or no Larry, Eric Mansfield was there via satellite from Canton.

OK, enough. But will someone please tell the folks at Reserve Square that - as far as we can tell - Ms. Davis' body was NOT found at "Keyser City Park" in Cuyahoga Falls?

As the saying goes, "close, but no cigar".

A quick Google Maps search tells us it's just down Bath Road from the actual reported burial site, in the Hampton Hills park of the Summit County parks system - which is also adjacent to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Keyser park itself would also appear, from Google Maps' satellite photos, to be too "open" to be a place anyone would hide a body.

It's not a big deal, but we had to search, and found that of every media outlet searchable by Google News, WOIO was the only "Keyser Park" reference found, except one story out of Cincinnati quoting the folks at 19...

ANCHOR SHUFFLE, AGAIN: When in doubt, shuffle your anchors again.

This seems to be the ongoing philosophy at WEWS/5, where you can never be terribly sure who's going to be anchoring "NewsChannel 5", short of Ted Henry at least a few times a day.

OMW hears that another shift is about to happen at 30th and Euclid, but you won't see it until next week due to vacation time.

Get out that NewsChannel 5 Anchor Scorecard, folks!

We're told that Lee Jordan will add the station's noon newscasts to her assignment, along with "Live on Five". Alicia Booth stays on the noon show, and Leon Bibb on "Live on Five".

Danita Harris moves into the 6 PM and 11 PM co-anchor position with the aforementioned Mr. Henry.

Again, with some vacations, this will all be visible on-air starting next week.

Meanwhile, Paul Kiska is still the only official anchor of "Good Morning Cleveland". We hear Lorna Barrett's fill-in there is only that for now, a fill-in.

And here we are, a month removed from the end of the May sweeps - frequently cited as a delaying factor by WEWS management - and we have no idea how the station's sports staff will be filled.

Fill-in sports anchor Andy Baskin - who poked fun at his own "35 day" anniversary the other day to laughs on the news set - is also still a fill-in.

Two major positions are open in that department, and other anchors aren't set...but existing players at 3001 Euclid keep getting moved around like chess pieces, management apparently hoping fervently that *some* combination will stick...


Johnny Morgan said...

Looking at this whole trust business, it's important to note a couple things.

1. For ownership cap purposes, an LMA counts the same as a license. So, even if all 5 of these FMs went into the trust for CC to run after the dust setlles, CC could not operate all 5 on an LMA, post-Bain. They would still need to drop one (or more).

2. Jeanette Tully is a retired broadcast industry vet, and lives in San Antonio--the same city in which CC is headquartered.

3. Never underestimate the savvy of corporate lawyers, especially in the broadcast industry. I think OA is right when he says that the thinking at CC is that dumping these FMs into the trust--at least for the moment--may speed up/streamline the approval of the Bain merger.

4. It's entirely possible that CC is getting out of Cleveland.

5. It's entirely possible that a duck will come down and give me $500 cash.

Anonymous said...

WEWS can't keep moving anchors so much. I hope the new line-ups stay for more than a year or else it would affect their ratings.

Anonymous said...

I find it fascinating how NewsChannel 5 is hitching their wagon to Danita Harris' star. This is a reporter who only a few years ago was best known for her "Danita's Dish" entertainment segments on "Live On Five." The morning show appears to be in shambles and the 5pm program seems to be their sole strength.

radioboy1 said...

Hello OMW....

I was listening to the radio Saturday evening and here is what played out - on the radio.

1. 640 WHLO aired the Stark County Sheriff's press conference at 6pm and then went with a LIVE-CALL-IN-TALK show from the Freedom Avenue studios. They used a toll-free number - 1-866-600-0640 - for this live news-event call in show.

NewsTalk 640 WHLO's show coverage was hosted by 98.1 WKDD's Matt Patrick with 640/WHLO's Tom Duresky and 1100/WTAM's Greg Saber. This went on from about 6:15 pm to 8:30 pm - when NASCAR coverage took over...

All in all very good coverage on 640/WHLO. WHLO also thanked it's sister station = 1100 WTAM Cleveland -on the air many times for the use of it's reporter's and resources...

640 WHLO carried it's satellite fed lineup during the day with Live coverage of the Stark County Sheriff's Press Conferences during the day.

2. WTAM-1100 AM Cleveland - 1590- WAKR AM Akron and 1480 WHBC Canton
had Cleveland Indians Baseball programming on around 6:30 p.m.
All three carried the Sheriff's News Conference.

WTAM-1100 AM had a mix of local programming during the day with some Jesse Davis talk and press confernces to the Contest Show with Jeff and Pat...

1590 WAKR AM carried it's music format during the day with live press conference material.

1480 WHNC had a trade-this for that call in show in the morning with Fox Sports Radio on in the afternoon. They broke to the live press conferences...

3. WNIR 100.1 FM - Live local programming throughout daytime Saturday talking about the Jesse Davis news event all day long - with Howie Chizek, Bob Golic and Tom Erickson taking live calls until 7 p.m. then - WNIR went into Satellite fed programming. No live-local evening prgramming on 100.1 FM WNIR.

-- Radioboy1

Tim Lones said...

It should be mentioned also, that the Canton Repository's Todd Porter was on "Larry King Live" at the same time as Eric Mansfield

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Matt Patrick who did a great job on 640 WHLO on Saturday!

Anonymous said...

From my quick scan of the radio, WHBC AM and FM, WKDD, WZKL, WONE, WQMX all carried the press conference live at 6pm. Most stations went back to programming after Mr. Perez, WHBC and WZKL stayed for the police chief and family rep. up until about 6:20pm

Anonymous said...

Correction, OA:

>>Many had even assumed that it would mean Akron-licensed WKDD/96.5 moves south again, even into the company's Akron/Canton operations from similar to former facilities.<<

WAKS is 96.5, not WKDD.

Ed Esposito said...

WAKR reported the arrest at 4:08 and followed with bulletins on WONE and WQMX shortly after. They also had local newscasts at 430p & 530p and blew out ABC News at 5p before live coverage of the news conference on all three stations. They went back to music on WQMX and WONE around 6:15 and took coverage on 1590 up to the Indians. They also had updates during the Indians game, including a report in the seventh inning and postgame updated newscasts.

Anonymous said...

newstalk whbc has covered the live press conferences and has had substantial coverage on the ponder and russell shows with a lot of call-ins..interviews of todd porter from the rep, the canton police chief, special investigators and cutts' pastor...the news shows have also had substantial ponder mentioned the funds set up for the davis family at national city bank and first merit bank, with lots of call-ins

Anonymous said...

well that's good, Ed. That means they're doing their job. Do you want a cookie or something?

Anonymous said...

Take it easy.

All Ed is doing is adding to a description of the coverage.

I was listening and heard the report at 4:08 where WAKR quoted a source in the Canton Police Department that Cutts was being arrested and that the body had been found.

It was posted on Akron News Now at 4:17.

That was the first report I heard or saw that was attributed to a credible source.

I wasn't listening to Canton radio, so I don't know who broke what at what time.

And I have no affiliation with WAKR whatsoever.

It is what it is..good reporting. Unlike some TV stations bragging that they broke the story.


Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha. The ever-blustery windbag Triv was SOOOOO quick to call in to Paul Rado's morning show yesterday on WTAM to defend Sharon Reed, after a caller had correctly been sickened by Reed's near-giddiness at having an "inside scoop."

Now it turns out that ol' Sharon and WOIO are the only crew in town that had the lady's body found in "Keyser Park." Almost as bad as WTAM's constant reporting that the body had been found, quote, "IN A LAKE" in Summit Co. Never let the facts get in the way of a timely tabloid story, eh, Sharon and Triv? Laughable.



Just for the record!!!!!!!!

John Amrhein said...

Since others are going on the record - WCER aired the news conference live 6-6:15. The only one we aired all week because it was the only one with real new information. For what it's worth, Matt Patrick made a pretty good debut as talk show host while WHBC was playing a recorded interview not related to the case and we went back to baseball.

Anonymous said...

"One BIG thing signaling this to us: At least as of this writing, these five FMs are the only ones in the trust application."
Answer: CC MAY have to dump one FM station. They are prudent in keeping their options open and can make the choice some time down the road. When the FCC makes its ruling on whether the 96.5 license is attributable to Cleveland or Akron (my guess would be 9 months to a year from now) they can make their decision on which station to sell based on current market conditions and who might be a motivated buyer. It would make no sense to make that decision now.

"Not listed are talk WTAM/1100 in Cleveland, along with Akron AM combo talk WHLO/640 and sports WARF/1350."
Because CC is under the caps on AM's in both of these markets, there is no need to place any of these stations in the trust.

"Not listed are any of the three Stark County-licensed FMs run out of Freedom Avenue - WKDD/98.1 Canton, WHOF/101.7 North Canton and WRQK/106.9 Canton."
With the pending COL change, WKDD would be clearly attributable to the Akron market. Even if 96.5 gets thrown in there as well CC would still be under the caps in Akron. That would leave CC with two FM's in Canton, again under the caps. That's why you are not likely to see any of the stations mentioned above in a trust. They'll be in the large initial filing which will include WTAM and about 85% of the other CC properties. The rest will be resolved on a case-by-case basis.

Anonymous said...

Are we surprised at ALL by whatever Action 19 or Triv do? Judging by the fact only one person noted it here (I heard it and would've posted it, too, except for the fact that it wasn't worth a cent of my time), the answer is obvious.

WOIO and Sharon Reed have as much going for them as ratings-and-cash-starved MSNBC. And that's saying something.

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

Yes, Ed wants a cookie. Or a dozen.

Anonymous said...

anyone hear matt patrick's comments about his ex wives complaining and how he needs to stop by a gun store today?

nice local response to jessie's death

johnny morgan said...

>>Yes, Ed wants a cookie. Or a dozen.<<

That echo you hear is only yourself laughing at your own joke.

When you're ready, you can come back to the big people's table. Until then, let the adults talk.

Anonymous said...

Matt Patrick on WHLO?

A sign of things to come? hmmmm...

Ed Esposito said...

Gotta admit the cookie comment makes me laugh but not with you. Is it really that difficult to acknowledge there's still excellent broadcast public service at a time when some posters to these board decry and bemoan the state of the industry? EVERY radio operation I heard, not just ours, worked hard to bring credible information to our communities and did so in a sensitive, responsible manner. Regardless of the style or personalities, whether they are Tom or Matt or Sharon, they should all be congratulated for doing our jobs when folks think all this means is a cookie.

It IS doing our newsnomore and Johnny so appropriately pointed out. Is it really that tough to discuss the state of what we do in an adult manner?

Sad...the kind of attitude that diminishes radio at a time when people who care work to lift it up.

Anonymous said...

Shame on Sharon Reed and Action News for exploiting the Jessie Davis case. Sharon and Denise were on CNN(there goes CNN's credibility) spreading rumors and lies. Also, Sharons so proud that she knows the friend of a double murderer. She used this to get attention The best station was FOX8 and FOX NEWS, they handled the story respectfully.

Anonymous said...

It is a complete and total shame when so called news departments are competing for ratings and who can get the most shock value from the story they are reporting. It doesn't matter that you know a friend of a friend who over heard a friend of a friend say something. Just report the story with some sort of integrity and care for the feelings of a grieving family.
Shame on most of the TV news media in this town you know who you are I need not list them.
Pats on the back to most of the Radio news rooms who did a good job, maybe a bit too much coverage on a couple but done in a way that it was still news and not done for ratings..

Anonymous said...

WJW New Set:

did any noticed the big HD TV's in the weather center?