We hadn't planned on an update Tuesday, but some stuff to sweep up after...
IT'S OFFICIAL: The day it happened, and two days after OMW reported it would happen, the takeover of the former Clear Channel Ashtabula stations was reported in the national radio trade press.
The announcement, which we saw on AllAccess's Monday Net News scroll, says Tom and Matt Embrescia's Sweet Home Ashtabula spent $3.5 million on the WFUN/WREO/WZOO/WFXJ/WYBL combo in Northeast Ohio's most northeastern-most small market.
The living is easy, competition-wise, for the long-time Cleveland radio executive and his son. The group is the dominant broadcast operation in the market, with only nearby WKKY/104.7 Geneva as an in-market commercial competitor.
Even tiny AM WWOW/1360 Conneaut has mostly gone to a religious format with Catholic programming from the EWTN folks. And WKKY itself, as we've written often here, spends most of its time with nearby Lake County.
Ashtabula gets hit signal-wise from Cleveland to the west and Erie to the east. But by far the strongest out-of-town signal in the region is Canadian rock outlet CFPL/95.9 "FM 96", booming across Lake Erie from London, Ontario.
OMW hears that while major changes may not happen this week, there are already some changes possibly in the works. We just don't have any details about what the Embrescia father and son team will plan, or for that matter, what's on the mind of former cluster GM-turned-returned GM Dana Schulte...
SOME ALLACCESS ITEMS: ...involving Ohio stations in the trade website's recent Net News scroll.
Clear Channel rock WNCD/93.3 "The Wolf" in Youngstown says goodbye to middayer "Tina", who takes at very least a first name, if not a last name, to an unspecified station in another market. WNCD PD and OMW reader (Matt) Spatz takes over. We're not sure when Matt lost his first name, or why Tina didn't use a last name.
And AllAccess also reports that Clear Channel 80's outlet WBWR/105.7 "The Brew" in Columbus goes a different direction from PD Bob O'Dell, which means he's no longer there.
More Columbus items, as North American Broadcasting active rock WBZX/99.7 "The Blitz" adds a "Morning Blitz" team member - Jay Charles, from San Antonio.
And former Saga AC WSNY/94.7 "Sunny 95" staffer Chuck Knight takes the programming reins of locally-owned Philadelphia AC powerhouse WBEB "B101", which segues into a new presentation under the "Fresh" label...
WOIO'S NON-HD NEWS: We made a quip earlier this week that Raycom Media CBS/MyNet combo WOIO/19-WUAB/43's "19 Action News" (motto: "First. Fair. Everywhere. In Color!") has yet to implement a rumored plan to broadcast its newscasts in HDTV, which would make the Reserve Square operation the last HD newscast in the Cleveland market.
As it turns out, perhaps Raycom has discovered that you can't just put in a new HD/digital control room to go HD.
OMW hears that WOIO/WUAB did indeed convert its news control room to HD. But they apparently are missing more than one piece (cameras?), and the local rumor mill has no clue when they may put it together.
We also hear that the folks at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5" are readying the next step in the HD News chain - shooting field footage in true HD format, and being able to edit it in HD at 3001 Euclid.
The missing link will be "live" HD, as most remote live HD broadcasts (from live trucks, etc.) will depend on equipment being bought for stations under a government program by the folks at Sprint.
We don't quite remember all the details, but it goes something like this: the Nextel folks (cell/digital walkie-talkie) agreed to buy equipment for TV stations so they could use some bandwidth now contentiously shared with their own system. The new equipment is all-digital, and on a different set of frequencies than used by Nextel, which is now part of Sprint.
Now, we'd assume stations CAN go outside this program and pay for new digital over-air links themselves - else, WJW/8 "FOX 8" couldn't have SkyFOX HD - but most stations are waiting to retrofit their remote live equipment "for free" courtesy of the Sprint/Nextel folks.
The problem? We hear that program is dragging its heels.
Anyway, the recorded field video aired on "NewsChannel 5" will air in HD in the next few weeks.
There's no word on if the folks at Reserve Square will contemplate giving away 3-D glasses to viewers to make their currently non-HD broadcast "19 Action News 3-D".
(That's a joke, folks!)
A BELATED WELCOME BACK: No, not to Mr. Kotter, but to Mr. Sylk.
We'd heard rumblings about this for a while, but it does appear former Cleveland radio personality Sam Sylk has taken the "former" off of that title, as he returns to the North Coast for afternoon drive on Radio One hip-hop/R&B outlet WENZ/107.9 "Z107.9".
Sylk went to Chicago, where he did afternoons on legendary Clear Channel urban outlet WGCI, then went to sister urban station WUSL "Power 99" in Philadelphia for mornings. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that he left that station in August, and his new website shows he returned to Cleveland for Z107.9's afternoon drive slot a week ago.
We're far too old and unhip to have "Z" on our presets (see the "Welcome Back, Kotter" reference above), so we can't remember the details. But we seem to recall Sylk syndicated back to Cleveland at some point, from either Chicago or Philly...