Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Welcome To The OMW Jungle

With apologies for the title to Premiere syndicated sports talker Jim Rome (weekdays noon-3 PM, WKNR/850 and WJMP/1520):

SHOUT OUT: You never know who's reading this missive, but apparently, we've made the national grade in TV news gossip.

Popular trade gossip site NewsBlues has a link to the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), due to our earlier items and discussions about FOX O&O WJW/8 coming onto the market.

We'd like to welcome our new readers - surely mostly from outside the market, as we're pretty sure all four major TV newsrooms in Cleveland read us on a regular basis.

And to clarify a point we think they did get right: OMW itself, this blog or your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) - we're not suggesting that we have heard even any solid rumor about CBS picking up the station currently known as "FOX 8" from the FOX Sale Block, and returning it to its previous CBS affiliation.

Our readers have kicked it around, extensively and mainly anonymously, but we're not hearing it from anywhere else. Indeed, in our second item on the future prospects of WJW, we downplayed the thought - for any number of reasons.

CBS has come in and rescued a flagging affiliation in a top 20 market before. That'd be the situation we mentioned in Sacramento, where the network's affiliate had a long history of poor operation (then-Sinclair's KOVR/13, which joined CBS in 1995 due to - oddly enough - an affiliation swap with Gannett's KXTV/10).

But there are two differences here.

1) CBS bought the actual current affiliate directly. The swap mentioned above happened many years before CBS purchased KOVR/13. In Cleveland, current affiliate WOIO/19 is owned by Raycom Media, and the "for-sale" station here is former affiliate WJW/8.

2) CBS/Viacom was already a station owner in the Sacramento market, with then-UPN affiliate KMAX/31 (now, of course, "CW 31"). Here in Cleveland, CBS owns no TV properties, so if it wanted a duopoly, it'd have to buy another local station - and work out the ownership overlap caused by the four CBS Radio FM stations here.

In Sacramento, when buying KOVR to add to KMAX, CBS had to let one radio property go - powerful AM frequency KFRC/610 out of San Francisco, which figured into the mix due to its easy reach of Sacramento. They did manage to hang onto their FMs, so maybe that's not a problem if they're even thinking about a Cleveland move on the TV side.

But again...we have no information other than our very own mostly-anonymous commenters that CBS is even interested, let alone doing anything...or that FOX is talking to any potential buyers yet. And we wonder if FOX would willingly give up a dominant VHF affiliate here to a competing "Big Four" network...

35 YEARS: We have been away from the Mighty Blog for a while, so we've neglected to congratulate WEWS/5 anchor Ted Henry on his 35th anniversary.

If you've watched the station in the past few days, you're sure to have seen various video clips honoring that mark in his career, including interviews with former co-anchor Wilma Smith - now at the aforementioned WJW "FOX 8", of course - and various co-workers.

We were struck by the celebration - in that it looked like something a personality normally gets when he retires after a long tenure.

We're pretty sure Ted, who is often lauded privately as one of the nicest guys in local TV news, is sticking around for a while.

But it got us to thinking - when Ted Henry eventually retires, when Dick Goddard retires, when Wilma Smith retires, and others (Tim Taylor, Big Chuck Schodowski, etc.) who have retired or are about to retire - who'll be the Next Generation?

In 20 years, after all of these people are long off local TV, who will get such lavish praise and remembrances?

We ask because Cleveland, being an older-skewing "hometown" market, holds onto "its own" in local TV with such fervor.

"FOX 8" positions even today as "Cleveland's own", with much of the staff being either natives, or long-time residents. WKYC runs promos reminding us that every single one of their four weather anchors grew up in Northeast Ohio.

It's a "big deal" here. So, after Ted, Wilma, Dick, Big Chuck and other personalities who've been on the air here for decades retire...who's our next wave? Just a question....

SPEAKING OF BIG CHUCK: The final edition of "Big Chuck and Lil' John", the popular skit/late night movie show bowing out at "FOX 8", is this Friday night.

As we reported here earlier, the last show was actually taped a while back.

The show will also bow out in prime time on Friday at 8 PM, with a one hour special titled "The End of an Era: Tribute to Big Chuck Schodowski".

And though we suppose "Big Chuck's" retirement was inevitable no matter what, we wonder how this all would have played out had FOX sold the station before the end of the show was announced last year - with your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) noting FOX's corporate-above-Cleveland desire to end the show going back to 1994...

WHK MEMORIES: The ongoing celebration of Salem talk WHK/1420's 85th anniversary will be "in the flesh" at an event slated for next month.

OMW hears that Saturday, July 21st, an event will be held at Cleveland's "House of Blues" honoring WHK's famous Beatles concert back in 1964.

The Beatles tribute band "Hard Day's Night" will play, and there will be commemorative T-shirts and replicas of the original 1964 tickets.

And there will also be a live broadcast on WHK before the show. Organizers hope for a visit from those associated with "all eras" of the station's history, and those who may not have been heard on the station's 85th Anniversary Special broadcast...


74WIXYgrad said...

Good question OMW. Who of the younger set of news "personalities" will be deserving of being called an "icon" in the next quarter century? At this time, I can't think of any, but then television news, as far as I'm concerned, is backround noise.

Until the local folks figure that less is more. Most will be further desentised by news(or is it infotainment?). Maybe Fox possibly selling WJW could be a real blessing in that regards.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting thought regarding who the next set of "icons" will be. I have always known Tim, Ted, Dick and Wilma and it will be (was) strange to see them retire. Just my personal opinion but I believe the best news team Cleveland has ever seen was in the 1980's when Tim Taylor, Robin Swoboda, Casey Coleman and Dick Goddard anchored "Newscenter 8". They felt like family and the news was informative and less "hard hitting".

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit younger so I only have vauge memories of Newscenter 8 but I definately think that there are certain people that will be icons like Bill and Stacey on 8, and in all honesty I doubt that Tim and Robin were were better than than them, but it might be generational gap thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid the days of local icons are over.

People move from place to place too much anymore to consider one particular place home.

The Ted Henrys, Tim Taylors, Wilma Smiths, Dick Goddards, and Big Chucks aren't what people want nowadays in this snappy, bang-bang-bang media world.

Wilma is slowly being phased out, Ted has a Johnny Carson-ish contract which is used so guys like Paul Kiska can "audition" for the 6 and 11 job post-Ted, Dick is being phased out by Andre Bernier, Tim Taylor and Big Chuck are retired, Del Donahue recently retired.

The closest things to "modern icons" in town these days are Ramona Robinson (nearly 20 years in C-Town split between 43 and 3), Jim Donovan (20+ yrs at 3), Denise Dufala (15 yrs split between 8 and 19/43) and Lou Maglio (nearly 20 yrs split between 5 and 8).

Other than that most newspeople in this town have been here less than 10 years.