Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Here's Some Hot News For You

OK, so we couldn't resist.

WFMJ/21 reports that early Wednesday morning, the Youngstown/Warren market NBC affiliate had to cover a fire...and they didn't have to go far from the station's headquarters in downtown Youngstown to get to it.

In fact, they didn't have to leave the station at all.

Quoting WFMJ's website:

An early morning basement fire broke out in the WFMJ building. Nobody was hurt, but the fire damaged a number of systems used in our news and programming operations.

The time of the fire, about an hour before the morning "WFMJ Today" news broadcast, prompted some quick thinking by station staffers.

So, as pictured here, the morning news team took to the outside of their own building to broadcast live - with a new lead story...their own fire.

The Youngstown Vindicator's blog reports that vital computers and newsroom editing systems were back in action at just after 8 in the morning, quoting WFMJ news director Mona Alexander:

"Tape editing equipment and computers are the two primary tools of our newsroom, and we have cell phones, so the newsroom is able to function."

Alexander told the Vindicator that they were doing diagnostics on other equipment. Of course, the Vindicator owns WFMJ, along with sister digital/cable CW Network outlet WBCB.

One wonders what WFMJ would have done if the fire was more extensive.

One option could have been to put the Channel 21 satellite studio at Eastwood Mall in Niles into action. Though, we've been there, and we doubt the entire news crew could have fit into the small studio/store...

Monday, October 29, 2007

RIP: Ray Marshall

Our condolences to family and friends of former Cleveland radio mainstay Ray Marshall, who passed away over the weekend of a heart attack at the age of 51.

Though Ray spent much of the past 16 years at Citadel's cluster in Lansing MI (as operations manager), his time here in Northeast Ohio was fruitful and long.

We're still trying to fill in all the blanks here, but we know he spent many years as program director of the old "3WE"/WWWE/1100, the station known now as Clear Channel talk WTAM.

After what regular reader/OMW tipster Nathan Obral tells us was Ray's participation in AM 1100's "final weekend of music programming", he eventually landed at the old WRMR/850 (today's WKNR) when it took up standards music.

Ray had been "on the beach" in radio terms, after being let go from Citadel in a series of budget cuts earlier this year. In addition to his work running the company's Lansing on-air operations, he also had a stint overseeing oldies stations for the company, which eventually went on to buy the bulk of ABC's radio operations.

Rubber City Radio country WQMX/94.9 program director Sue Wilson worked with Ray when she was programming AC WDOK/102.1 - at the time, a sister station of WRMR. Sue, and her late husband - WSLR/1350's Phil Cordle - became good friends with Ray and his wife.

Sue speaks much more eloquently about Ray on her personal "Voiceover" blog, which is available via Rubber City's website here...

This item will be updated later, as we get more information...

BREAKING NEWS: WKYC's Mark Nolan Moves From Weather To News

Now, here's a switch that doesn't happen every day.

WKYC/3's "Director's Cut Blog" reports that station chief meterologist Mark Nolan is hanging up the umbrella and leaving the weather center. But he's not leaving 13th and Lakeside - as he moves a few feet over to become co-anchor of the morning "Channel 3 News Today"...filling the position vacated by John Anderson, who just started his new job today on Philadelphia FOX O&O WTXF/29's morning show.

A WKYC release quoted in Frank Macek's article says Nolan will move to the anchor desk "late next week", and that sister Gannett station WBIR/Knoxville TN anchor Abby Ham comes to the Digital Broadcast Center to take her place alongside him as co-anchor.

Back in the Channel 3 Weather Center, Betsy Kling will "fill in" during the station's evening newscasts, with part-timer A.J. Colby taking weekends...

Monday Odds And Ends

Not much really stands out about the below items, or for that matter, connects them. Well, aside from the fact that all the items have to do with persons no longer on the air in Cleveland in 2007 - or are about to leave the area.

But it's Monday, and we're dragging ourselves back to the grind.

A reminder: we're still in "sporadic update" mode due to various personal/off-blog issues. But we'll try to check in at least once every day or two...

MORE ON THE ANDERSON MOVE: The Plain Dealer's Julie Washington gets around to writing about the departure of WKYC/3 morning co-anchor John Anderson - who left the Gannett Cleveland NBC affiliate a week ago Friday bound for Philadelphia.

We've already touched on that here, of course. But Ms. Washington fills in some of the blanks we haven't.

For one, she reports that John's wife, WKYC reporter Kristin Anderson, is expected to remain with the station through the end of the year.

Julie also tells us that it was indeed Philly FOX O&O WTXF/29 GM Mike Renda who approached Anderson about the gig there. Renda, of course, knew Anderson from his days helming FOX O&O WJW/8 "FOX 8" here.

John starts his new role at "FOX 29"'s morning show today. Back in Cleveland, "Channel 3 News Today's" Barbara Gauthier has had fill-ins with her like Jacque Smith and Obie Shelton, but no permanent replacement has been named...

WHAT'S UP, DOC?: Former Clear Channel oldies WMJI/105.7 "Majic 105.7" staffer Doc Thompson has landed in his talk radio career, again.

OMW hears that Thompson, former producer for Majic's John Lanigan and Jimmy Malone morning drive talk fest and former imaging producer, takes a high profile afternoon drive slot at Clear Channel talk WRVA/1140 in Richmond, VA.

The station's announcement:

WRVA listeners have voted and the overwhelming winner is Doc Thompson! Doc will join our team on Monday October 29th. Thank you for participating in this very important decision. And thank you for listening to 1140 WRVA.

WRVA is another of those Clear Channel 50,000 watt "blowtorch" talk station. On a decent radio, it can actually be heard after sunset in much of Ohio.

The Richmond opening happened after incumbent WRVA afternoon driver Mac Watson packed it up for Phoenix, where he airs on Bonneville talk KTAR/92.3 (one of those Bonneville converted-from-AM large market talk outlets). Another former WRVA afternooner, Michael Graham, does mid-mornings on Boston's WTKK/96.9.

Before landing in Virginia's capital city, Doc had a short stint programming Albuquerque NM startup FM talker KAGM, which we're told was basically overloaded with high-priced talent - and collapsed under that financial weight not long after it started.

He's been operations manager of Magic Broadcasting's cluster in Dothan AL, which is run by Cleveland native and former CC Sandusky market manager Jeff Storey...

AND "GARY DEE"'S RETURN: In recorded form, of course, since the controversial former WHK/1420 morning drive talk show host has not been alive for some time.

His voice, though, returns to his former station's airwaves Wednesday night at 6 PM, as the Salem talker appropriately schedules a Gary Dee tribute show - "Amen and Hallelujah - The Gary Dee Radio Special" - on Halloween night. Mr. Gilbert certainly scared a few people, not to mention a few bosses, over his years on the air.

We've known about this for a while, but Ms. Washington's column provided us with the reminder this time around. She notes that it's characterized as another part of the station's year-long 85th Anniversary celebration.

Gary Dee did talk radio later in his career at WWWE "3WE", now Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100. But in our eyes (ears?), he's always been associated with his time on WHK in the 1970's.

WHK, we're reminded, was a country station outside of morning drive. Heck, Gary Dee himself may have played a tune or two, but that's certainly not why he was there.

He was there to poke pointed, sometimes outrageous fun at those in power in Cleveland, and other notable media personalities.

His career and personal life certainly hit some bumps - a notable attempt to move his act to Washington DC at an FM country station fell flat inside of six months. And his rocky and rather public marriage to WEWS/5 "Morning Exchange" co-host Liz Richards showed an ugly side of him - one we have trouble forgetting, or forgiving him for, as far as our memory goes.

But he's still a notable personality in Cleveland's radio history, even if his schtick may have to be watered down a bit to air for this week's airing on today's conservative talk station at his old home at AM 1420...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another Ashtabula Change

It hasn't taken long for the new entity known as Media One to make its mark on the former Clear Channel cluster in Ashtabula.

After flipping top 40 WZOO/102.5 Edgewood to oldies as "Magic Oldies 102.5", the company is about to make its second format change - this time on the AM dial.

The Ashtabula Star-Beacon's Robert Lebzelter reports that Media One's WFUN/970 is dropping its news/talk format, moving to become an all-sports outlet sometime in November.

The station's morning drive news/talk/information show with John Broom will survive the change, for now, but will move to a midday slot of 10 AM-noon. Broom's former slot will be filled by ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning", and ESPN will also take over much of the remaining schedule.

But "for now" regarding Broom's show may be an operative phrase. The Star-Beacon article calls the move "interim", which to us basically screams "until we find something else to put there". Broom would presumably remain with the company even if his show on WFUN goes away, as he's replacing former news person Kathy Davis due to her move to "Magic Oldies".

(Our guess - and it's only a guess here - is that WFUN will eventually pick up The Content Factory's Dan Patrick in a live clearance for the 10 AM-noon slot. The former ESPN Radio personality would certainly fit on a station carrying much of his former network.)

Afternoon drive will see local sports talk, with a show by Joe "Pigskin" Pete weekdays from 5-7 PM, and a regular remote featuring Pete and co-host Ed Looman from a local restaurant once a week.

Disclosure here: We've actually heard the rumblings about this one for most of the past week, but were about to confirm them.

OMW hears that the changes have even been talked about on Broom's WFUN show itself, with some dissatisfied listeners expressing their concerns.

Why is Media One making the move?

We guess that there are two reasons.

For one, many of the shows and content being dumped on 970 are syndicated by Clear Channel's Premiere syndication arm.

The takeover of a Clear Channel-owned station doesn't necessarily mean an automatic end to that company's shows (Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, etc.) on the new non-CC station, but it may provide a "clean break" to do something else - particularly if the new incoming ownership isn't 100% attached to a pretty standard Clear Channel small-market talk station schedule.

Well, almost standard - at last check, WFUN ran Premiere's Jim Rome in delay in afternoon drive. We have no word if Rome will survive the transition to a format that would be more compatible with his show.

The other reason?

Though sports is often a ratings-challenged format, it sells well - particularly with local advertisers. WFUN carries a healthy dose of sports already, including local events, and we heard even from the start of the Media One era in Ashtabula that the station was planning on beefing up its local sports coverage.

Oddly enough, the WFUN move nearly mirrors what another Northern Ohio small market station still in the Clear Channel family has done - WLEC/1450 Sandusky - right down to the local sports talk in the afternoons...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Moving Day's Coming

Over the past month or two, we've heard references on Good Karma sports WKNR/850 "ESPN 850"'s mid-morning show with Tony Rizzo about the station's upcoming studio move to the Galleria in downtown Cleveland.

We didn't know WHEN, though, despite hearing "Rizzo on the Radio" producer/co-host Aaron Goldhammer talk a while back about getting trained on new equipment at the new 'KNR facility.

Well, it's coming.

Since the Rizzo show is our best source of information about some of the internal workings of the sports talk station, it's no surprise that we heard Mr. Rizzo himself proclaim Wednesday that they were doing the "third-to-last" show at the old Broadview Heights facility.

"Rizzo on the Radio" and everything else on ESPN 850 WKNR will move to the Galleria studios on Monday, October 29th.

Actually, the "switch" will likely happen sometime Sunday or Sunday night, without fanfare, in the middle of an ESPN Radio network show. And we're assuming that the local "Sportscenter" updates with Jeff Thomas and Daryl Ruiter will continue to be done from Metro Networks' facility in the Independence Media Gulch.

And though we didn't hear it, regular OMW reader/tipster Nathan Obral in Lorain County tells us that the WKNR Galleria studios have actually been used already.

The station did one of its recent "10th Inning" baseball postgame shows from the Galleria, and we hear that there were still a lot of technical bugs to iron out.

Says Nathan:

Most of the phone conversations sounded as if they were being redirected from elsewhere, presumably back from Broadview Road. Moreover, their current carrier signal still sounds grainy, streaky and dull. (My guess is that it's come from the existing mixer board at the Broadview facility, which would have to be junked along with the move.)

Nathan guesses that the postgame show was intended to come from the new studios as a postgame "celebration" for an Indians win - which of course, didn't come.

Thanks to Nathan, as our ears can't be everywhere...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Midweek Update

A heads up - this will be one of our slower update weeks, due to off-blog concerns. But sometimes stuff just begs to be put up...

COLUMBUS MOVES: Within a half-hour of each other, two OMW readers gave us the heads up... the long-awaited move of Clear Channel's WMRN/106.9 Marion into the Columbus market is about to take place.

In fact, the station itself has announced the change to listeners on a web page, which gives word of WMRN's upcoming COL move from Marion to the Columbus suburb of Dublin, and details the changes which will result back in Marion:

As a result, beginning November 12th, the country music format that is currently being broadcast on 106.9, will be broadcast on both 106.9 and 94.3…Then, around November 15th, the 106.9 frequency will go off the air. The current adult contemporary format on 94.3 will not be replaced.

This was what many speculated would happen, going way back to the days of the initial proposal to move WMRN-FM into Columbus.

AC WYNT/95.9 out of Upper Sandusky moved to a new COL of Caledonia OH, putting a much better signal into Marion. Though WYNT is apparently an AC outlet, it uses Clear Channel's "Majic" branding, most famously used a hundred-and-change miles northeast of Marion at CC oldies outlet WMJI/105.7 in Cleveland.

Its presence as a Marion station operated out of the CC cluster there negates the need to keep the "Mix" AC format on 94.3 FM.

And of course, talk WMRN/1490 is not going anywhere. Though, all three remaining stations are still in the Clear Channel sale hopper, whenever Frequency License LLC or anyone else figures out who's buying the various CC small market Ohio stations...

The other end of the equation? We're not hearing even rumblings about what might end up on the station when it hits C-bus. Feel free to share those with us.

And of course, the new CC Columbus market entry will slide one channel down the FM dial when it moves, as it'll land in Greater Dublin at 106.7 FM. Click here for the usual Radio-Locator "for entertainment only" visual of the new station's upcoming signal...

WHERE THE CLEVELAND TEAMS WIN: With little said about the W***d S****s between a certain baseball team from New England and an upstart team from Colorado...

It actually is trivially easy to find both the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Cavaliers playing - and winning - games, on local TV.

You just have to turn your wall calendar with its face to the wall, and pretend it's a few months ago.

Both Cleveland-based regional sports TV networks are filling much of their schedule in the next week or two with replays of "instant classic" games involving the Indians and Cavaliers.

Last night, it was the Indians besting their division rivals, the Detroit Tigers, in a game from September on SportsTime Ohio. FSN Ohio, meanwhile, was airing a March game between the Cavaliers and the Detroit Pistons. (Maybe there's a theme there.)

We didn't watch to the end, but we presume all of these replays will involve a Cleveland team winning at the end. FSN Ohio starts airing games for real soon, as the Cavaliers open up their season on October 31st, aka Halloween night.

Too bad the STO folks can't create a computer simulation of an Indians win over the Colorado Rockies...or four...

SINCE WE MENTIONED STO: SportsTime Ohio has let us know that they're opening up their high school football playoff season with an hour-long preview show Sunday night at 6 PM. Quoting an STO release:

The “High School Football Playoff Preview” will look at the various match-ups throughout the state. Mike Cairns will host along with analysis from Jim Isabella and Greg Frey. Cairns combines his vast High School sports knowledge with Isabella, “the Principal of High School Sports,” and former OSU quarterback and current High School analyst Greg Frey.

STO's Friday and Saturday nights during the month of November will be chock full of the playoff coverage the Cleveland-based network won the rights to carry in a contract with the Ohio High School Athletics Association.

As part of the deal, STO will turn to cable partner Time Warner to carry the games in southwest Ohio, where the Indians-associated network has no cable carriage.

The high school football playoff coverage wraps up on with championship games on November 30th and December 1st, with basketball playoffs upcoming when that season ends...

AND ONE HD UPDATE: As it turns out, Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 did not fully launch its high-definition field news video system over the weekend.

OMW reported it had been planned to start last Saturday, making "NewsChannel 5" the first local station to do its field, recorded news video in full HD. But we hear from sources at 3001 Euclid that the equipment and editing software showed a few bugs, and is being pulled back until the digital exterminator assures all will be well.

And as Raycom Media's WOIO/19 gets the bugs out of its own presentation of news in high-definition, we noticed that they've had to do switching in and out of HD/SD for commercial breaks, though we're wondering if that's because the company's two stations have different HDTV resolutions.

WOIO/19, being a CBS affiliate, broadcasts in HD in the 1080i standard. WUAB/43 used to do so with UPN, but had to convert to 720p after picking up the FOX-owned MyNetworkTV.

While we're at the HD races, we hear rumblings that "Cleveland's CBS 19" may finally have pleased local home theatre owners, with the addition of 5.1 audio.

Readers may recall that WOIO actually flirted with using the new audio format back around the time of the last Super Bowl, but the station was actually borrowing a 5.1 encoder from the CBS network folks...who promptly took it back after the game...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: "19 Action News" Joins The 21st Century

As rumored for well over a year, as hinted here more times than we can count...

Porcine creatures are officially airborne over Reserve Square, and the temperature in Hades is under 32 degrees and holding.

Raycom Media Cleveland CBS/MyNetworkTV combo WOIO/19-WUAB/43's "19 Action News" is now broadcasting in HDTV format.

We don't know when exactly it happened, but based on the flurry of E-Mail we received from our ever vigilant readers, "19 Action News HD" would appear to have debuted with the 6 PM(-ish) newscast Sunday evening on WOIO.

By the time we were able to check it out, we confirmed it - and that the 10 PM edition of "Action News" on WUAB/43 "My 43" was also in HD.

As far as we know, this makes Cleveland the only market in the nation with all four of its major full-market TV news operations in HD. (We're not counting WKYC/3-Time Warner Cable's "Akron/Canton News", or WMFD/68 Mansfield's "Newswatch".)

First observations?

Of course, the studio video itself is in HD format, which is what you'd expect. We don't know if they've an exterior camera up that can do any outside live shots as of yet.

("Scorcher's Cam", anyone? They could string the cable up from downstairs...)

Other than Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5's "NewsChannel 5", which was supposed to start airing HD video out of recorded stories in the field starting this weekend, nearly all local news video outside the studio of each station is in some form of SD.

Exceptions, of course, are WJW/8 "FOX 8"'s helicopter ("SkyFOX HD"), and WKYC/3's HD cameras as part of the WKYC/STO arrangement at Jacobs Field.

WOIO appears to be shooting new field video in 16x9 SD format, as WKYC has been doing. Outside 4x3 video is NOT being stretched into 16x9 format.

"Action News" weather forecaster Jeff Tanchak is standing in front (virtually) of the same 4x3 SD graphics he's been using, complete with the sidebars on the side.

We believe "FOX 8"'s meteorologists had to do the same in the beginning of their HDTV newscast era.

Other than the addition of "HD" to some graphics, there were no other graphics or set changes that we can see.

By the way, clicking on any of the images will bring up a larger picture - about twice as large as the shots used here on the item itself.

And now, there's no more non-HDTV news in Cleveland. Our long, regional nightmare is over...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Clearing Out On Friday

UPDATE 10/20/07 12:30 PM: A correction to the below...the wedding mentioned above happened two years ago. But we're still happy for Autumn and her now-no-longer-new husband.

Our apologies. The original site didn't say which year "October" was in...


It's Friday, and EVERYTHING MUST GO!

OK, not everything. Only the random items on our plate and in our brains...

NEW 5'ER?: Thursday on WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5", we heard a voice and a name that should be familiar to some of those in the eastern end of the Cleveland market - Autumn Ziemba.

Though we're not regularly able to watch Youngstown market TV, the name rang a bell for us (you don't forget an unusual name like that). Ms. Ziemba was, until recently, the 6 and 11 PM anchor for Youngstown market NBC affiliate WFMJ/21.

What has Autumn been up to, since she left Channel 21 a few months ago?

Well, she got married.

Thanks to the folks at for that one, though it's not terribly hard to find - the wedding page is the very first hit returned in a Google search on Autumn's name. We're assuming the October 1st date was earlier this month.

But professionally, she's doing freelance reporting for Cleveland's Channel 5. OMW hears that for now, that's all...she's a freelancer like former WEWS staffer Lorna Barrett is these days.

New on-air personalities often come in like this - it's the same road that former WKBN/27 anchor Catherine Bosley took to her current job at Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19 "19 Action News", though Ms. Bosley's road had a few more interesting twists.

(Keep that response to yourself, please.)

We'll keep an eye out - and an ear out - for any future moves by Ms. Ziemba with WEWS...

MORE HD, YET?: We're still waiting for any word of new HDTV additions to the Northeast Ohio wing of Time Warner Cable, as rumored earlier, though Cincinnati Enquirer radio/TV columnist John Kiesewetter reports on his blog that TWC's Cincinnati systems added two more: A&E and the History Channel in HD.

But we do have word of one small addition - in parts of the Time Warner system once owned by Adelphia.

An OMW reader passes along word of the addition of the HD signal of Cleveland FOX O&O WJW/8 "FOX 8" in the Time Warner/ex-Adelphia system in New Philadelphia.

We always got the idea that the New Philly/Dover end of the Adelphia cable universe got the short end of the channel lineups for that company, so we're not surprised that the HD side of FOX 8 just showed up there now.

But the former Adelphia system in Cleveland has had FOX 8 in HDTV for a long time...

RANDOM ALLACCESS OHIO STUFF: The radio trade site reports that Dispatch/RadiOhio hot AC WBNS/97.1 "Mix 97.1" in Columbus ups program director Jay Taylor to "Director of Programming", presumably a title that involves the entire company (i.e. sports WBNS/1460, and the various network services like the radio version of the Ohio News Network, along with new technology stuff like HD Radio feeds)...

Columbus also gets a new radio morning show, on the airwaves of Christian AC WCVO/104.9 "The River". The outlet adds "Scott and Sam" for morning drive.

But neither Scott nor Sam will sit in the Christian Voice of Central Ohio station's studios in suburban Columbus. They're syndicated out of Seattle, which means program director Kurt Wallace handles the local breaks/babysitting of the feed, with Sherry Abel moving to evenings and new addition Todd Stach handling nights, in addition to his role as promotions director...

Flexible Rubber City Radio programmer Sue Wilson, who is PD of country giant WQMX/94.9 in the Akron market, adds some to her plate.

AllAccess reports that she'll take over programming the company's WVIC in Lansing MI, as it flips to an AC format. The Lansing operation is the only non-local market for the Akron-based company, and of course, Sue is no stranger to the Michigan station's new format...

And Northern Ohio broadcaster Tim Kelly picks up the position of board chairman for the non-profit group which runs the "Conclave" radio conference.

Kelly is Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting's corporate operations guy, along with being the hands-on manager for the company's Sandusky-area stations (AAA WLKR-FM/95.3 and sports WLKR/1510 Norwalk, and country WKFM/96.1 Huron)...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Random Thought

While awaiting our next full update, sometime later today or tomorrow... a question.

How can Cleveland Cavaliers flagship WTAM/1100 produce a Cavaliers' broadcast from literally the other side of the world - Shanghai, China - that sounds like Fred McLeod is doing it from Cleveland...

...but Akron market talker WNIR/100.1's regular weekend remotes from car dealers literally down the same street from their studios in the same Akron suburb sound like they're coming from China?

OK, so we know the answer...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Quick Midweek Shot

Some stuff that's been piling up, waiting to be let free...

A CLEARER OUT OF THE STUDIO PICTURE: OMW hears that with this coming Saturday night's 11 PM newscast, Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5" will be the first local station with news video in the field to be shot and delivered in HDTV format.

Our sources at 3001 Euclid tell us that all recorded video shot after Saturday will be in full 16x9 720p HD format, with no upconversion. Video shot before the new HDTV video recording and editing systems go into place will still be in SD format, upconverted from 4x3 standard definition.

Unfortunately, this won't affect live shots, which will still need to be upconverted due to the lack of live HD transmission capability we talked about some time back on OMW.

To that to occur, WEWS and other local stations across the nation need to wait for a massive conversion program headed up by the folks at Sprint, which is funding the new equipment needed as a part of its plan to move the TV broadcast/ENG folks out of a band they currently share with Sprint's "Nextel" walkie-talkie/cell phone system.

Channel 5 isn't the first station to do HD out of the studio in the Cleveland market, as FOX O&O WJW/8's "SkyFOX HD" has been on the air for months. And NBC affiliate WKYC/3 has use of a remote HD camera at Jacobs Field, due to that facility's built-in HD equipment.

But the field video on all local stations has been either shown in 4x3 SDTV format upconverted to HDTV, or in 16x9 SDTV format (ditto). We believe all local stations except for WKYC have been upconverting and stretching the SD field video, with WKYC recording the original video in 16x9 format (but in SD) from when they started to do HD newscasts.

With all full-market local news operations now with firmly entrenched HDTV studios - well, except for the stragglers at Reserve Square, who are barely doing newscasts in color - the "next step" will be field video. We'll presume that the folks at WKYC and WJW are moving towards that "next step" as we speak.

But as for WOIO - there's no word yet on when, or if, they'll convert to HD newscasts. We'd heard the rumor for nearly a year now, and have no concrete evidence that they'll debut the HD format version of "19 Action News" any time soon - though the rumor mill is buzzing again...

U (OF AKRON) TUBE: MediaCom Akron market talk WNIR/100.1 morning sports voice Steve French is getting some good natured ribbing from his morning show colleagues at "The Talk of Akron" over something that he didn't even do - in their building.

French is also the radio voice of the University of Akron Zips football team, via the "Akron-ISP Sports Network" (with flagship WARF/1350 Akron, Clear Channel's "SportsRadio 1350".

And a clip of his call of the Zips' "Miracle" win a while back over Western Michigan made its way to ESPN - and then to YouTube.

Remember that call by the Appalachian State football radio team when that upstart lower tier team upset Michigan in the first week of the college football season this year? It was so "wild" that it still gets replayed for comedic effect in the opening of Good Karma sports WKNR/850's mid-morning show with Tony Rizzo.

The call by French and his Zips network partner, former Browns player Frank Stamms, is pretty much on a similar level. We're pretty sure French's voice reverts to pre-puberty levels somewhere near the end of the clip, and we're not sure Stamms still has a voice.

And it's given his WNIR morning partners, Stan Piatt, Jim Midoch and Maggie Fuller, something to chuckle about...

YOUNGSTOWN PASSING: We don't know much about it, but we're getting peppered with information from our Youngstown sources on the death of a former WHOT Radio "Good Guy".

He's listed in a newspaper obituary as 57 year-old Nicholas Roman, though it also notes the radio name most people in the Mahoning Valley - over a certain age - would remember - Steve Miller.

We're told that Nick was a fixture in nights as WHOT's Steve Miller, in more than one turn doing the shift, in the 1970's. At the time, WHOT was on its original frequency of 1330 AM.

We're also told that he logged time at WNIO, at both AM 1540 (now Beacon Broadcasting gospel WRTK/1540 Niles), and at its current dial position of 1390, both on-air and in sales.

And Nick Roman even had a turn at the former Ott Communications' WASN/1330, which later occupied the former WHOT frequency as a controversial talk outlet.

Our condolences to his family, and large number of friends, in the Mahoning Valley broadcast community. Judging from the E-Mail we've received on this, a lot of you either remember him or worked with him...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Doerr Sighting In Rhode Island

Former WOIO/19 "19 Action News" news director Stephen Doerr is back in the business of running a TV newsroom.

Our colleague Scott Fybush at NorthEast Radio Watch published the news Sunday:

Global Broadcasting closes on its purchase of WLNE (Channel 6) from Freedom. The new owners are bringing in their own management team, which means general manager Roland Adeszko and news director Edwin Hart are out, replaced by Stephen Doerr, who's handling both jobs for now.

WLNE is licensed to New Bedford MA, and serves the Providence RI TV market from facilities in Providence.

Doerr left Reserve Square in September 2005, bound for a Cleveland-based job with a Dallas audience research firm.

Sources in the region tell us that WLNE is considered by most to be the "fourth station in a two-station market" in Providence, lagging behind LIN TV's CBS/FOX combo WPRI/WNAC, and Media General/former NBC O&O WJAR.

WLNE's biggest problem is that it's considered by locals to be "the New Bedford station", despite market-wide cable coverage and a new digital tower co-located with WJAR.

Will Doerr bring WOIO-style "tabloid news" to Rhode Island, hoping to make a distinction? We'll see...

Monday, October 15, 2007

First Of New Time Warner Cable Channels?

OMW has heard through various online sources that Time Warner Cable is launching more HD channels across the country, though apparently not on the same schedule in each area.

The first of the new HD wave was TBS-HD, the former WTBS cable feed now split off from its former over-air Atlanta sister station. That came in early in Northeast Ohio, in time for the American League Division Series playoff race involving the Cleveland Indians.

We're hearing lots of online rumors, but no confirmation, that other channels added to the list could include: CNN-HD, Food Network HD, and perhaps the History Network's HD feed. Some of these networks have already launched other TWC systems, even in other parts of Ohio.

But for now, the only new channel on Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio system today is one that isn't (at this time) available to local cable subscribers in HD - the FOX Business Network, that company's answer to CNBC, on SD digital channel 185.

After reading this press release, we found it on our own TWC lineup on the former Adelphia system based in Cleveland. Regular OMW readers and Cleveland area viewers might recognize one of the new on-air personalities - reporter Adam Shapiro, who left Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5"'s "Good Morning Cleveland" some time ago looking for a job in New York City.

There actually IS an HDTV version of FOX Business, which is available to DirecTV subscribers with the proper equipment (MPEG4 receivers with the appropriate dish). OMW has no idea if that will migrate to cable, but we'll assume no, for now.

DirecTV is now advertising over 70 new HDTV channels, as a part of a new wave the satellite service started adding a month or so ago.

There should be an asterisk somewhere. For example, there is precious little HD programming on the HD version of the TBS network - aside from the baseball playoff games. And some of these new networks are nearly 95% upconverted standard definition. Much of what CNN-HD's offers in high-definition comes solely from studio shows from the network's New York City studios.

But it's "planting a flag" for the day that the overwhelming majority of TV programming will be in HDTV, many years down the road...

Condolences To WNIR's Bob Klaus

Our condolences to Media-Com Akron market talk WNIR/100.1's Bob Klaus on the passing of his wife, Karen, who has died after an 18 year fight with cancer.

Quoting from the death notice which ran in the Akron Beacon Journal on Monday morning...


Karen was a devoted mother and wife, world adventurer, free spirit, animal advocate, nature lover, swimmer, skier, horseback rider, mountain biker and hiker. She used her immense creativity to make beautiful purses, jewelry, ceramics, writings, gardens and two dynamic children.

During Karen's 18 year battle with cancer, those closest to her have been strengthened by her will to live and blessed with an inspiring outlook on life. While Karen's time on Earth was far too short, her spirit now resides permanently and safely in the hearts and minds of all who knew and loved her.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rover In Controversy Land Again

A picture posted on the website of CBS Radio Cleveland alt-rock/talk WKRK/92.3 "K-Rock" morning host Shane "Rover" French today has caused a raft of controversy.

The site operated by the "Rover's Morning Glory" show,, posted a graphic picture that it said could be of school shooter 14 year-old Asa Coon - taken immediately after his self-inflicted shooting death at Cleveland's SuccessTech Academy this Wednesday.

The page is titled "School Shooter Dead?" with a question mark in that title:

"Supposedly a cop took this picture of school-shooter Asa Coon after killed himself. We have not been able to verify the authenticity of this picture."

As it turns out, the picture was apparently quite real...though it it's not known who took the picture, or if they were a member of local law enforcement.

ABC affiliate WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5" reported this afternoon that the authenticity of the picture has been confirmed by a law enforcement source "close to the investigation", and there are questions about how the impromptu photographer had access to take such a picture - as "there was limited access to the scene after the shootings."

Meanwhile, the posting of the picture on the elicited a response from station management, and eventually, from Mr. French himself - who pulled the picture with this comment:

"I have decided to remove this image.

Some people think that if kids see the image, it will encourage them to do the same type of violence. I disagree - I actually think it will discourage kids after they see the reality and finality of such a senseless act.

Also, while media reports have painted the shooter's family as being partly to blame, I'm sure the perpetrator had some decent family members who would be offended at the display of such an image.

I haven't been pressured to remove the image, I did so of my own free will, and believe it to be the best decision in the long run."

Meanwhile, WEWS quoted a statement from WKRK/WNCX VP/general manager Tom Herschel:

"When we were made aware of the image on his website, we asked him to take it down, and he did."

No matter who made the decision to pull the picture, the controversy surrounding it gives Rover and "K-Rock" yet another spate of free publicity.

Even if you take Rover at his word in the above message - and we do, basically - he had to realize the moment he put up the picture that it would end in a blaze of local, and even national, media publicity.

And posting the picture aims right at the show's target audience, a younger, mostly male group that likes "edgy" radio. (Remember, his home station was once known as "Xtreme Radio".)

It's all a bit distasteful for us, but we're not in Mr. French's target audience...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Part Of The Story

Local television newsrooms have fleets of vans, satellite trucks and cars to speed their reporters to breaking news stories.

On Wednesday, one local TV station didn't have to leave its own building for much of the time.

The shootings at Cleveland's Success Tech Academy, which brought national media attention to the city all day, happened at the school's location - within sight of WKYC/3's Digital Broadcast Center at 13th and Lakeside. (And since we often refer to local media outlets by their physical location, those are words we've used here often.)

The Cleveland NBC affiliate used that location to its advantage to cover the story, writes station senior director Frank Macek in his "Director's Cut" blog.

Not only was it all happening across the street, some of it even spilled into the station itself.

A late afternoon press conference carried by all local stations, and national cable TV news channels, provided the latest details from authorities from a then-unidentified location.

Well, as it turns out, writes Macek:

Studio B of WKYC became the press conference center when Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Schools Superintendent Eugene Sanders held a press conference at 4 pm, along with members of the police department.

Kudos to the Channel 3 folks for not insisting upon putting a big "3" logo on the curtain behind the officials. We guess at one local station would have done that in this market.

The station also provided a meeting room for students and parents to find each other in the aftermath of the shooting. And WKYC is airing security camera video of an earlier fight outside the school that apparently involved Wednesday's assumed shooter - a video shot from one of their own security cameras right from the station's building.

The proximity of the story gave WKYC one other edge in coverage.

With another major breaking news story happening in Lake County, local stations had to split their helicopter time between the visual of the Success Tech campus, and a train derailment in Lake County, with spectacular overhead pictures to be offered at the latter location.

WKYC's helicopter stayed above the train derailment - the school shooting more than adequately covered by the station's own cameras on Lakeside Avenue.

Frank Macek's blog provided the pictures we've shared here.

And Channel 3 Akron/Canton Bureau chief and TWC Akron/Canton News anchor Eric Mansfield has much more on the timeline of the station's coverage on his blog as well.

All the local news stations threw out all the stops on a very busy news day, with extended live coverage, reporters in the air and on the ground, and live news conferences on two major stories happening at about the same time in two different parts of Northeast Ohio.

But only WKYC had one of the stories happen literally outside its own front door...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: WKYC's Anderson(s) To Philly

OMW hears from numerous sources in both cities that Gannett NBC afilliate WKYC/3 morning co-anchor John Anderson is heading to a similar job in Philadelphia - morning co-anchor at FOX O&O WTXF/29.

His wife, WKYC reporter Kristin Anderson, is presumably also headed east to Cheesesteak Land, though we have no information if she's in line for a job at WTXF or any other station in Philadelphia.

John Anderson's new boss at "FOX 29" is former Clevelander Mike Renda. You might recognize him as the now-former general manager of FOX O&O WJW/8 "FOX 8" here. He left South Marginal Road to take the reins of the company's station in Philadelphia...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Trouble In Willie Paradise

So, long-time Clear Channel talk WLW/700 host Bill Cunningham just launched his syndicated show.

The former Drudge show was moved over to the "Big One" from sister talker WKRC/550 by CC Cincinnati AM operations chief Darryl Parks, so the station could prominently feature its own local talent with his brand-new weekly national talk show.

And then, the truckers got in the way.

No, not literally.

But it was apparently the technical commitment to deliver the syndicated "America's Trucking Network" straight up at midnight late Sunday that caused WLW to cut off the last hour of "Live On Sunday Night, It's Bill Cunningham" - reducing the talk show host's hours on the Cincinnati powerhouse from just under 16 hours a week to just under 15 hours a week.

And as a result, says Cincinnati Enquirer radio/TV guru John Kiesewetter, Willie is "miffed".

The outspoken host, at least in print, is aiming at Parks and his own station, saying he doesn't feel WLW is "supporting" him.

(OK, this is WLW we're talking about here, where just about every on-air and off-air interaction between hosts and management is meant to get free publicity.)

Parks, for his part, blamed "technical issues" involving the station's multiple feeds - not only the "ATN" feed to other affiliates, but the XM Satellite Radio feed, which forced them to dump hour 3 of Mr. Cunningham's new show for the trucking folks.

Our observations: We were listening to the XM 173 simulcast of WLW, and heard the America's Trucking Network program start on time at just midnight, after WLW's local news.

We weren't surprised by this, because we'd been led to believe that WLW would air the new Cunningham show from 9 PM to midnight, with the 9-10 PM hour live in Cincinnati, and delayed after midnight to the rest of the network affiliates. That was apparently news to Willie.

We checked the WLW online schedule, which is normally very comprehensive, and found that Mr. Cunningham's new effort was listed as airing from 9 PM-midnight locally, with the ATN Sunday night show listed as starting at...1 AM early Monday.

No accounting was made on the schedule for the missing 12-1 AM hour, which tells us that there may still have been some internal confusion about the issue as late as Thursday night.

One other related item...

We're told by those tracking various moves among local stations in the radio industry that despite the best efforts (uhhh...) of ABC Radio's Sean Hannity, Cunningham did lose a few affiliates from the 325 station Matt Drudge affiliate list.

Though he managed to keep WABC/770, Hannity's home base in New York City, Willie lost market #2 - Los Angeles - where Clear Channel talk powerhouse KFI/640 is already listing "Guest Host TBD (To Be Determined)" in the 7-10 PM Sunday night hole on its schedule.

That's no surprise to us. After Drudge "hit it big" with the Monica Lewinsky thing, he dabbled in talk radio at WABC. He also did local shows for KFI, since he lived in Los Angeles at the time, so he was sort of considered a local host for that station.

A quick check of website schedules provided by our sources shows that Cox talk WHIO/1290-95.7 in the Dayton market has also gone another direction, adding sister WSB/750 Atlanta weekend host Allen Hunt into the schedule - and repeating two hours to cover for part of the old Drudge time slot. (The rest? Yet another repeat hour of Premiere's "Coast to Coast AM".)

Other Cox talkers appear to have done the same, including WOKV/690-106.5 in Jacksonville FL. And Lincoln Financial talker WBT/1110 Charlotte has also picked up Mr. Hunt's Christian-themed/secular talk show.

Hunt was, until recently, the pastor of an Atlanta-based church (he left to concentrate on radio), but he appears to do a more secular show...sort of like the issues talk version of talk radio money guru Dave Ramsey, right down to a natural affiliate base in the southern part of the country.

Another Clear Channel talker going a "different direction" is 50,000-watt Denver powerhouse KOA/850.

Now, this is not intended to say that Mr. Cunningham's replacement of Matt Drudge has prompted a mass affiliate exodus.

For many of the above, it would appear to have provided the opportunity to explore their own new agenda - either with local talk, or like with the Cox stations, with a new in-house syndicated show. And despite even an in-house Clear Channel drop or three, he'll still be on a bunch of those stations...still the widest national news/talk station base of any group.

But one thing is clear: Bill Cunningham may have to take a bit of his controversial "edge" off on the national show, as a newly syndicated host with no national track record.

Despite the "I'm upset" comment above, Cunningham knows he has the good life locally with Clear Channel Cincinnati, and the unwavering support Mr. Parks has given him on WLW when "times get bad". From baseball players demanding his head, to special interest groups going after him for "insensitive comments" (one case still pending), "Willie" has firm support out of Kenwood whenever the crowds go after him.

But even with a former WLW employee calling the shots for his syndicated Premiere show, there are over 300 bosses - the program directors and station managers at his affiliates.

And you can bet that those PDs and managers don't want to have to deal with hassle based on what their 10 PM-1 AM Sunday night guy said on the air the previous night.

Rush? He's a different story. He has a long track record of success for over 600 affiliates, and has basically singlehandledly built today's AM talk radio powerhouses. "Flaps" can come and go, but Rush stays. Period.

Bill Cunningham only has that kind of protection at home base, on "The Big One" in Cincinnati. To the other programmers, he's just the guy who filled in for Rush once or twice, and has a popular local show in Cincinnati.

We're not saying "Live On Sunday Night, It's Bill Cunningham" is destined to become an also-ran, or that the show needs to totally water down. Bill Cunningham is Bill Cunningham.

But national radio isn't the Cincinnati talk radio playground that Mr. Cunningham has dominated from 12:20 to 3 PM weekdays. And with every talk show host from Rush on down the line getting hammered by protesters in the pre-election season, he might want to lay just a LITTLE low - and build his national reputation slowly.

Of course, we've never met the one and only Darryl Parks. We've only heard him do his Saturday "Midday" show on WLW itself. But we can almost hear him laughing at the prospect of Bill Cunningham dialing it back a notch or two.

Just some advice...

Bob Jacobs Passes Away

The name "Bob Jacobs" may not mean much to radio listeners in Cleveland, Akron or Canton.

But those living in Tuscarawas County will likely light up with instant recognition, for Jacobs had a long run at two radio stations in the Dover/New Philadelphia area.

His most recent radio home, country WTUZ/99.9 Uhrichsville, has announced that Jacobs passed away over the weekend.

Bob Jacobs had two long stints in radio in the Tuscarawas Valley.

According to the linked obituary, he came to WJER/1450-101.7 in 1968 to do mornings (and also as a time salesman), and then retired the first time 20 years later, in 1988.

After sitting away from the microphone for a while, Jacobs got back on the air two years later at WJER's then-new competitor, known on the air as "Z-Country". He retired from that station in 2001.

A memorial service will be held October 15th at Massillon's Paquelet Funeral Home...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Two Quick Updates

We'll throw these up this afternoon, instead of waiting for our usual morning report...

FM TALK WATCH ROLLS ON: Our ongoing tracking of the move of traditional news/talk/sports formats to the FM dial nets a big one this afternoon, not that terribly far from Ohio.

AllAccess reports that Emmis talk powerhouse WIBC/1070 Indianapolis is the latest to be added to the FM Talk Convert list. Emmis will move the legendary Indiana talk station to the FM dial at 93.1, replacing top 40 "Radio Now" WNOU.

Not yet, though.

First, WNOU's former music format will be replaced by "93 Days of Christmas", offering, as the would indicate, over three months of holiday music.

January 7th, WIBC's news/talk format will land solely on 93.1 FM, with the 50,000 watt 1070 signal being dedicated to sports - with an ESPN Radio affiliation.

It's similar to what Bonneville did in Phoenix, with long-time talker KTAR moving to FM, and its AM frequency being taken over by a linked sports format station - also using the KTAR calls as "Sports 620".

With the move, the Cleveland market will be mostly ringed by FM news/talk/sports stations.

Detroit has FM sports talk now, with the blowing up of hot talk WKRK/97.1 "Free FM" for the sports simulcast of WXYT/1270.

Both Columbus and Cincinnati to the south have FM talk outlets - North American Broadcasting's WTDA/103.9 "Talk FM" in Columbus, and Cumulus' WFTK/96.5 "SuperTalk FM" in Cincinnati.

To the southeast, there's Clear Channel's successful FM news/talker, WPGB/104.7.

And covering much of the Cleveland market itself, of course, is Kent-based WNIR/100.1, the long-time "Talk of Akron".

There's also one slight Cleveland connection here: OMW reported a week ago that Cleveland radio traffic reporter Jamie Sullivan is headed for the very same WIBC mentioned here...

SYNDICATION (G)ONE: A prominent source in the urban talk community has reported that Radio One is shuttering its "Syndication One" urban talk effort, which provides the company's WERE/1490 in the Cleveland market with network talk programming, at the end of the year.

But the report in Robert Redding's Redding News Review is met with a clarification, via AllAccess this afternoon.

AllAccess has confirmed that afternoon drive hosts "The Two Live Stews" will have their syndication ended, as will Warren Ballentine, the mid-morning host who took over the time slot that launched with author Michael Eric Dyson.

But Syndication One tells the trade site that their flagship host, Rev. Al Sharpton, will continue to do his radio show for the network, and that other shows are in the works.

The "Stews", presumably, will continue doing their local program in Atlanta after the Syndication One effort ends.

No word on if this affects WERE, locally...but we'll guess that as a company O&O, they'll continue with whatever Radio One offers in the open time slots...

Big Monday Roundup

We've been compiling this one on and off over the weekend, and it's grown seemingly by the hour.

So, let's unleash the Big Monday Roundup, with 60's and 70's oldies music in the background, in honor of WZOO/102.5's flip from top 40 to oldies over the weekend...

NO FSN OHIO HD?: Since the channel is not used all that often, we didn't know about this until the appearance of George M. Thomas' "Airing It Out" column in the Akron Beacon Journal on Thursday.

But it appears FOX Sports Net Ohio has slammed the door on its HDTV broadcasts on Time Warner Cable in Northeast Ohio - only. The SD/analog version of FSN Ohio remains unaffected, and is still on the air on TWC.

This would explain why we didn't see the Columbus Blue Jackets' opening FSN HD TV game the other night, on TWC's "HD Bonus" channel 798...that Adelphia leftover which was set up to air HD broadcasts from either FSN Ohio or SportsTime Ohio.

And it'll also explain the absence of the Cleveland Cavaliers in HD later this month, if the dispute drags on.

The move, according to Mr. Thomas' column, was made by FSN Ohio as a negotiating chip. Both versions of FSN Ohio - standard and HDTV - have been carried by Time Warner Cable, with FSN's blessing - since the contract between the two expired at the start of the year.

Quoting FSN Ohio chief Steve Liverani in Mr. Thomas' column:

"It appears that Time Warner is taking the customers that are sports fans for granted. The bottom line is if they don't want to offer sports to their customers, then they should be honest about it.''

As thousands of cable subscribers cry "not again!", TWC local spokesman Bill Jasso responds:

''Giving in to prices that sports networks are charging would be a long-term problem."

Mr. Jasso has a point.

Sports networks all over, from new ones like the Big Ten Network and the NFL Network, to established networks like FSN, know their programming is popular. They want to get as much money as possible.

Meanwhile, cable operators like Time Warner realize that despite the sports networks' popularity, the money those networks command is often outsized compared to actual viewership. FSN Ohio may be one of the "high profile" sports networks that many people do watch, but even they lost the Cleveland Indians a couple of years ago.

FSN Ohio does have, of course, the TV rights to the NBA Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, and that may have emboldened them to ask for more money, as was rumored even before the start of the last basketball season.

The wrench in the works is something we noted before: the FSN/TWC negotiations aren't between Steve Liverani and TWC NEO's Steven Frye. The dispute is being negotiated at the corporate level between TWC and FOX Sports Net, nationally.

Add in the fact we mentioned also - FSN owns half of the Big Ten Network, and is rumored to be linking that network with the TWC national talks over the FSN regional networks...and it could get interesting...

RUBBER CITY NEWS MOVE: There's another personnel move at the Akron Radio Center.

Rubber City Radio country WQMX/94.9 will have a new news anchor starting today, as part-timer Chris Keppler moves into a full-time gig as WQMX's morning news anchor.

The name may be familiar to regular OMW readers. Before joining Rubber City, Keppler had experience as news director of Dover/New Philadelphia's WJER, then at both AM 1450 and 101.7 FM, now solely at 1450.

(And if we have to explain THAT change to any long-time readers, you're just not paying attention! Feel free to put "WJER" into our search box above if you weren't around in late 2006...)

Meanwhile, Marcy Pappafava stays with the company. She'll fill in this week for the vacationing Larry States on WAKR/1590's "Ray Horner Show", then will transition to become the regular midday anchor on WAKR (and on WQMX/WONE if needed for breaking news and the like).

Marcy has been, behind the scenes, assignment editor for the Rubber City Radio newsroom, and will continue that role after moving to WAKR middays.

We'll assume this means that the combo move basically fills the opening left by the departure of long-time WAKR news anchor/reporter Pat Kennard a couple of months ago.

And following the long-held tradition of radio news types finding a second career in state government jobs, Ms. Kennard is now a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Transportation's Division 4, the agency's Akron-based district...

WMRN/MARION'S COLUMBUS MOVE OK'ED: We are a day or two late on this, but yes, the FCC has officially OK'ed the move of Clear Channel's WMRN/106.9 from Marion to the Columbus suburb of - wait, let us get out a map - Dublin.

A helpful OMW reader dug up the official approval, which we're linking here.

And it's all rather simple.

"Informal" (FCC wording) objections filed by opposition group The Committee for Competitive Columbus Radio and Sandyworld, Inc. were rendered moot by one other move: the approval of WHIZ-FM/102.5's COL move from Zanesville to the Columbus market outburb/wide spot on the road of Baltimore, Ohio.

That move nudged the Columbus market up from 44 signals to 45, which allowed the FCC to clear the way for Clear Channel's fifth Columbus market FM signal per existing ownership rules.

The Sandyworld folks are the licensees of the WOSU-FM translator currently operating at 106.7 FM (legally W294AH). WMRN's move from a Marion station to one fully within the Columbus market also means a facilities change - from 106.9 in Marion to 106.7 in Dublin.

That automatically means the unprotected translator has to go off the air, per FCC rules...though it'd probably have to go anyway even if the current WMRN weren't moving down one channel.

Though a lot of the technical and studio work has already been done by Clear Channel for the incoming station, it may be at least a few months before the move is made by the current WMRN.

One reason?

The move is linked to other moves of stations licensed to Hillsboro and Chillicothe, which have to be done before the current Marion-based station moves south...

WILLIE'S DEBUT: Clear Channel talk WLW/700 Cincinnati early afternoon host Bill Cunningham made his regular national radio debut on Sunday night, hosting a show called, well, "Live On Sunday Night, It's Bill Cunningham". (We're about ready to lay odds on how long that long official title lasts, except as an outcue to spot breaks.)

The show, like his WLW weekday program, originates from Clear Channel's big cluster studios in the Kenwood area of Cincinnati.

"Willie's" opening two hours were not heard on former Matt Drudge affiliate WTAM/1100 in Cleveland, due to a lengthy postgame show for the Cleveland Indians' game 3 loss to the New York Yankees. WTAM joined in for his last hour at midnight.

The show was heard on talk WHLO/640 Akron, and we presume on other Clear Channel talkers like WKBN/570 Youngstown. We caught it on WLW itself, via its simulcast on XM Satellite Radio channel 173.

Cunningham is a long-time friend of ABC Radio syndicated host Sean Hannity, who appeared in the show's first hour. And according to Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio guru John Kiesewetter in an item posted on his blog on Sunday, Hannity stepped in to try to ensure that "Willie" got to keep as many affiliates from Drudge's roster as possible.

Hannity works for ABC Radio Networks, and is based at flagship WABC/770 in New York City. Both are now owned by the folks at Citadel.

But Hannity's affiliate grouping and Drudge's 325-station list probably have a lot of overlap. And it's pretty safe to say that Hannity has a lot of pull with Phil Boyce, program director of the largest affiliate in both lists, New York's WABC.

In reality, Hannity probably didn't have to lift a finger or make a single phone call, or send a single E-Mail, to stem possible defections from the Drudge affiliate list.

Sunday night at 10 PM ET is like the similar time slot on Saturday, where many stations have satellite receivers permanently tuned to the Premiere radio channel that delivers "Coast to Coast AM". Premiere could air an hour of polka music on weekend nights, and it would probably take program directors about three weeks to figure out that it wasn't Art Bell or George Noory on the air.

We intend no offense towards Ian Punnett, the host who launched "Coast to Coast Live" in the 10 PM-1 AM Saturday slot displacing "Coast to Coast AM" early reruns.

But like that situation, Mr. Cunningham probably retains nearly all of Matt Drudge's 325 affiliates through inertia...without help from his ABC Radio-syndicated friend.

For "Willie", it's a good place to be...

BROWNS HAVE A TOLEDO RADIO OUTLET: We don't know how we missed this, but an OMW tipster up in Northwest Ohio tells us the Cleveland Browns Radio Network did indeed land a Toledo station after all.

It's Cornerstone Church-owned Christian contemporary AM outlet WDMN/1520 Rossford, known on the air as "Dominion 1520".

We're told that WDMN has been airing the Browns Radio Network broadcasts since the last pre-season game.

And yes, that's the same Cornerstone Church which also owns the Browns pre-season TV network outlet in the Glass City, MyNetworkTV affiliate WMNT-CA 48 (aka "My 58", for its cable position on Toledo's Buckeye Cablevision).

You could hardly find two weaker stations.

Even when Cumulus talk WTOD/1560 expressed interest in the Browns rights, and was plotting alternatives for games that went beyond the station's daytime-only broadcast hours, the station at least had a little power behind it.

WDMN/1520 is not a daytimer, but it throws out a puny 500 watt directional daytime signal, and 400 watts nighttime, from a site south of Toledo in Ottawa County. The station moved there from a two-site operation - actually a two-state two-site operation! - a ways back, when it changed its COL from Toledo to Rossford.

And we've already talked here about the low-wattage signal of Cornerstone's TV outlet, WMNT-CA 48. (By the way, we believe that station's case is STILL in court, with the former owners once again trying to wrestle control back from the Cornerstone folks.)

Cornerstone also still owns former dance outlet WNKL/96.9 Wauseon, which it is now LMAing to the folks at California's "K-Love".

Our question: We reported earlier from outposts all over the state that the Browns Radio Network had been asking for a decent chunk of change for rights fees, and that at least one Ohio station had been forced to leave the network after a long run because of that.

Did Cornerstone ante up the same kind of money that other Toledo stations owned by two major broadcast companies refused to pay? Or did they get a "fire sale price" because the games would not air otherwise? We don't know...

TRIBE SONG: And with the Cleveland Indians in the American League playoffs, we may have a candidate for a "Tribe song" for the post-season now.

No, it's not the team's own "Tribe Time" jingle, which has translated into a very, very popular T-shirt slogan. We mean the "non-team produced song" that has become a Cleveland tradition for local teams making sports playoffs.

"Mambo for the Tribe" came from Salem Cleveland CCM outlet WFHM/95.5 "The Fish", and specifically, the station's Dale Officer and Nick Kubik. It's a rework of Lou Vega's hit "Mambo Number Five".

We're told it's played on at least two other Cleveland stations not owned by Salem, though we can't verify that.

You can sample it, or purchase it, here on Officer's "HitzTheSpot" production website.

The download is priced at $1.50, which we believe is 51 cents more than the 45 RPM record of "The 12 Days Of A Cleveland Browns' Christmas" back in the early 1980's ("...on a Rutigliano Super Bowl Teammmmm...").

Or it's much less, if you account for inflation...

Friday, October 05, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Ashtabula CHR "102ZOO" Flips To Oldies

UPDATE 10/6/07 10:55 AM: OMW hears from a listener in the Ashtabula area...who tells us 102.5 there is already playing oldies, but promoting the official launch of "Magic Oldies 102.5" on Monday.

The station is running a promo promising "the best music of the 60's and 70's" with current WFUN/WREO news voice Kathy Davis promoting her own new show on 102.5. We don't know when Ms. Davis' show will be heard on the new "Magic Oldies", aside from sometime in the morning.

We're pretty sure of the spelling of "Magic" by the way, as that's how it was presented to us in the trade database change - and after all, with Clear Channel no longer owning any of the Ashtabula stations, the new owners probably wouldn't use the CC-trademarked "Majic" with a J...

Stay tuned over the weekend into Monday. We'll have any more updates, and we'll have a brand new item with other news that'll probably go up on Monday morning...

Our original item is below:


OMW hears that if it hasn't already happened this evening, Media One Group CHR WZOO/102.5 "102ZOO" in the Ashtabula market will change between now and Monday to oldies.

We hear that a report of a new format and moniker for the station are listed as of tonight in an industry database. "102ZOO" will become "Magic Oldies 102.5".

We also hear that newswoman Kathy Davis has already announced, on the air, her new role in the Media One cluster - as midday personality in the new 102.5 oldies format.

"102ZOO" was a Hot AC station, under that name and calls, until a recent format change to CHR.

And the OMW Mobile could well point into the far northeast corner of Ohio over the weekend, to provide some first-hand reporting on this story.

This was the change we hinted about in our last item about the takeover of the former Clear Channel Ashtabula cluster by Sweet Home Ashtabula (aka Media One Group), the group headed up by Cleveland's own Tom Embrescia and his brother, James, with Tom Embrescia's son Matt involved as well.

Well, at least we think so.

Someone associated with the Media One operations contacted us recently, wondering where we got our information, and telling us that our "sources are incorrect in much of what you had printed regarding the Jamestown, NY and Ashtabula, Ohio radio clusters", and that they'd like to set us straight.

We're not sure what was inaccurate in the previous post(s), but we suspect it had to do with our on-the-fly reconstruction of the Media One family/corporate umbrella - which was based primarily on our examination of the public records attached to FCC filings, and previous media reports.

We also realize that there are at least two, if not three, "Media One" groups under the Embrescia umbrella. We spotted two of 'em - Media One Group, LLC and Media One Group, Inc. Effectively, for this report, we've shortened all of the sub-groups into "Media One".

We've made an offer, to get "set straight" on whatever we had wrong, and the offer still stands. Not only for Media One/Sweet Home Ashtabula/Mr. Embrescia (any of them), but for anyone.

We are as accurate as we can possibly be here, given the limitations of what this report is.

We mainly make our offers for clarification here on the blog, as many who aren't aware of OMW are taken aback by us, if we approach them first. Some of 'em are even downright hostile, though our contact with the Embrescia operations would not at all fall into that category. They've actually been very polite and understanding.

In the immediate Cleveland/Akron/Canton area, we have direct, daily contact with dozens of staffers at all levels of local clusters, and what we'd consider a very good relationship with nearly all of them.

We'd like to extend our offer of friendship and accuracy to other groups or staffers outside our immediate coverage area. We're not here to tear down. We'll make well-deserved criticism, if we feel it's needed, but we try to base it in accuracy.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Thursday Update

Yep, we're still around.

We haven't had much to say since our last update, but we've cobbled together enough items - including some news, some revisits and some other stuff...

COLLINS NAMED OPERATIONS MANAGER: A local radio veteran has increased his role at his employer's cluster.

Rubber City Radio has named Chuck Collins as operations manager for the company's three Akron stations - standards WAKR/1590, country WQMX/94.9 and rock WONE/97.5.

Chuck has been program director of WAKR, leading its move off of a Westwood One/Dial Global satellite feed into a locally-programmed music format. He'll keep that job with his promotion to OM.

But Mr. Collins joined up with the Akron Radio Center first to help company news director Ed Esposito launch the now-extensive AkronNewsNow website. Chuck is now associate editor of the site.

The longest run in local radio for Chuck Collins was, by far, his tenure at hot AC WKDD/then-96.5 in Akron. He joined the station in 1988, and programmed it from 1992 to 2001.

And it's there where he first worked for Nick Anthony, the RCRG senior vice-president who hired him to take over the operations manager post.

Quoting Mr. Anthony, the long-time local radio executive we still remember from his days hosting a mid-morning show on talk WHLO/640 in the mid-1970's, in a Rubber City press release:

"We knew we had a major talent when we hired Chuck last year. He has proven to be passionate about our people and our radio stations. There are few people who understand the Akron market better."

In the same release, Rubber City president/GM Thom Mandel calls Collins "a teacher for our rising talent", and cites his "energy, creativity and innovation".

But we call Chuck one of local radio's "good guys", and congratulate him on the promotion...

92.3 NOW WKRK: We told you earlier that CBS Radio FM talker WKRK/97.1 "Free FM" in Detroit had dropped the format, in favor of a sports radio simulcast with WXYT/1270.

What we didn't tell you comes in a tip from RadioInsight's Lance Venta. WKRK is now in the Cleveland market.

That's right. The appropriate WKRK call letters have supplanted the WKRI calls, at CBS Radio's alt-rock/talk at 92.3/Cleveland Heights, the station still known as "92-3 K-Rock".

92.3 may hang onto these calls because of it, at least as long as alternative rock and the "K-Rock" name stay on the frequency.

After dropping the WXTM calls, the local station grabbed WXRK from the much more famous station on the same frequency in New York City.

92.3 in the Big Apple grabbed WFNY for its new "Free FM" talk format, then swiped back WXRK from Cleveland when returning to "K-Rock".

And the local outlet, we hear, now lets WKRI back into the wild.

Confused yet?

There are rumblings that CBS is eyeing two format changes in Pittsburgh - the rumored return of top 40 "B94" at once-talk WTZN/93.7, and a companion change at hot AC WZPT/100.7 "Star 100.7" to some flavor of classic rock or urban.

But RadioInsight's Mr. Venta tells us that he doesn't expect the WKRI calls to migrate to the Steel City, even if 100.7 there went to a rock format.

All this movement, for something that will only air once an hour near the top of the hour. Somewhere in the Midwest, a man named Brian is smiling...

OOPS, THE BIG TEN NETWORK AGAIN: With the Ohio State Buckeyes plunging into the meat of their conference football schedule, most folks thought the mess involving the lack of cable carriage for the Big Ten Network would be over.

Ah, but as the Akron Beacon Journal's George M. Thomas points out, there is at least one more Buckeyes football game on the Big Ten Network schedule - the October 13th contest with the Kent State University Golden Flashes.

The fans? They're yet again the losers in that epic battle between large athletics and big cable.

OSU/Purdue, this weekend, gets the full ABC treatment. And we've checked the OSU schedule, and it looks like most, if not all, of the team's remaining games will at least be on ESPN or ESPN2...

TBS REDUX: Mr. Thomas also writes about the addition of the HD feed of cable network TBS, just in time for playoff baseball, on Time Warner Cable.

But Thomas writes that the TBS HD feed will be on channel 600 - which we thought may be referring to the TWC Akron/Canton "legacy" system. TBS HD was added this week, as we reported, on the TWC/former Adelphia Cleveland system on channel 778.

Oops! We're both right.

For whatever reason, TWC has added TBS HD on BOTH channels on the Cleveland-based systems - 600 AND 778.

Does this show a possible channel realignment at some point, or is it just for convenience? And just what IS the mystery "TW609" channel on the company's Cleveland system?

Oh, and credit one to Time Warner, for having a local spokesman like area media veteran Bill Jasso. Quoting him from the George M. Thomas column, talking about the reasons for adding the TBS HD feed:

"Since they will be carrying the playoff games, we figured our customers would want to really see the Yankees sweat."

A home run of a quote, if we've ever seen one, at least if you're a Cleveland Indians fan.

OK, enough sports metaphors...

AND FINALLY IN TWC LAND: We haven't yet contacted Mr. Jasso about some of our questions above.

But we did ask him about "NEON". No, not the substance which lights up tubular signs, but the new name being attached to Time Warner Cable's local programming in Northeast Ohio.

It's, as the legend indicates, the "Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio Network" labeling and announcements for such things as high school sports broadcasts.

But don't expect much more cohesion than that. Jasso tells OMW that it's basically an umbrella name, to call the local programming SOMETHING.

It's sure shorter than "That Stuff We Throw Onto Cable Channel 23 Or 15"...

Monday, October 01, 2007

CBS Kills Off Two More Nearby FM Talkers

The FM Talk Watch isn't looking good at this hour, and the carnage is not far from Ohio's borders. In fact, the stations are close enough that both can claim at least some Ohio listeners.

This time, it's the death of two CBS Radio-owned FM talk stations, one which had been in the format long before the whole "Free FM" thing (think David Lee "Awful Radio Show" Roth).

That's Detroit's WKRK/97.1, which did eventually adopt the "Free FM" name, but continued with a mostly local lineup until recently - with the presence of CBS Radio's Opie and Anthony, moved from a brief clearance on the AM dial on sister sports WXYT/1270, displacing WKRK's previous morning show, Cleveland's own "Rover's Morning Glory".

WKRK was once "Live 97.1", and was a part of the company's older line of successful FM talk stations - with similarly named stations in Los Angeles and Dallas, and Washington DC's WJFK-FM, to name just three. All three were anchored by former morning man Howard Stern, now broadcasting to a few hundred thousand on Sirius Satellite Radio.

The "hot talk" ended Monday, as WKRK has dumped "Free FM" talk for...a simulcast of WXYT's sports format, to be known (presumably legally, soon) as WXYT-FM. The new sports duo carries a host of sports teams which previously had broadcasts on one or both of the stations.

But O&A are nowhere to be found in the move.

Their show was dumped, along with most of WKRK's "hot talk" personalities. Among those on that list - former Toledo radio host Johny D, once of Clear Channel top 40 WVKS/92.5 "Kiss FM" and Cumulus top 40 WTWR/98.3 "Tower 98-3". Dumped on the AM side was ESPN's Mike and Mike, who slid into the 1270 slot after O&A went to FM.

In morning drive on the new AM/FM sports simulcast "XYT - Detroit's Sports Powerhouse" - 97.1's highest-profile local talk show, "Deminski and Doyle", which aired in afternoon drive on the FM talker. The rest of the schedule appears to be live and local all the way until 2 AM weekdays.

It's no surprise to anyone that the second FM talk casualty was also a move of CBS Radio, with national programmer Dan Mason making the rounds to fix the company's failing program moves.

The FM talker launched on 93.7 in Pittsburgh was never known as "Free FM". (By that time, the brand became somewhat toxic, with Mr. Roth and company long gone.)

CBS Radio in Pittsburgh branded the station as "The Man Station", under the name of WTZN "The Zone", but the "Zone" apparently has found its limits.

The station, a curious mix of local and national hot talk, political talk and sports talk, was an oddity from the start.

It had to wait a week after launch to feature one of it's highest-profile personalities, Scott Paulsen, as he awaited being let free from a contract with Clear Channel.

It ran O&A in mornings, and piped in Pittsburgh-native Dennis Miller's Westwood One-syndicated show. It also ran a local show by former KDKA/1020 and cable TV (PCNC) political talker John McIntyre.

But now, it no longer talks, and is playing Christmas music for the next week. The station has set up a new website with the legend atop: "PITTS-URGH - Something's Missing".

Among the choices presented to forum users on the site is "B94 Radio". And gee, the above legend (and the site's URL) are both, well, missing a letter B...leading to massive speculation about the venerable "B94" top 40 format being returned to its former home.

(Lightbulb goes on over head!)

We wouldn't bet against a top 40 "B94" return. CBS' Mason has already swooped in and "restored" once-successful formats displaced on other large market CBS particular, New York oldies outlet WCBS-FM, and San Francisco oldies outlet KFRC-FM.

We don't know what format a new "B94" would take, if it is indeed coming back to the Pittsburgh airwaves. In the other two examples, a more updated version of the "classic hits" took hold.

But considering the likely low ratings for "The Zone - Pittsburgh's Man Station", just about anything would be welcome at 93.7. Whatever happens, it's promised for Friday.

Stepping away from the Pittsburgh and Detroit markets long enough to address our usual question: What does this mean for our long-time contention that FM talk is a format on the rise?

Well, not "FM hot talk".

Some of the programs placed on these stations border on the amazingly idiotic. They're aimed at very young audiences, usually males 12-24 or so, and apparently feel the need offer to talk about body parts, sex and juvenile humor. It's like stations only believe that you can reach young males with such drivel.

Our general contention is that the talk you hear on AM stations today, perhaps skewing a LITTLE younger, will end up on FM in the next 5 years or so - even as a simulcast of existing stations.

The problem is quite simple - an entire generation of incoming radio listeners couldn't find the AM band if you handed them a picture of a radio and highlighted the "AM" button. (Then again, there's the problem of many not listening to even FM at all, thanks to the iPod and the like.)

And the Detroit flip is in our favor in this regard, with an AM sports talker expanding its wings onto the FM dial...

BREAKING NEWS: TBS-HD Added To Time Warner Northeast Ohio

As speculated in the item just below this one, Northeast Ohio's Time Warner Cable systems have added the HD feed of the TBS cable network, just in time for the one-game pre-National League Divisional Series baseball contest between the San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies.

TBS-HD has made its mark on Time Warner Cable's channel 778 on the Cleveland-area system formerly owned by Adelphia.

We don't know what channel numbers are used elsewhere, but we believe it is also now available on the other local TWC systems, including the Akron/Canton(/presumably Youngstown) "legacy" Time Warner system, and the one formerly owned by Comcast.

While we're not sure what, if any, other HD programming TBS will feature, the reason for "urgency" is the fact that TBS is the exclusive carrier of the MLB Divisional Series games.

That means Cleveland Indians fans will only be able to watch the team's series with the Yankees on TBS (and now, TBS-HD). The network has the exclusive rights to the games, and local RSNs like SportsTime Ohio are not able to run the games.

If the Indians/Yankees series gets bumped off of TBS, it'll air on sister network TNT - which is conveniently located right next to TBS-HD on the Time Warner/Cleveland lineup - cable channel 779.

As far as we know, the alternative WOW Cable system in Cuyahoga County is not yet carrying the HD version of the TBS network.

In case you're wondering, TBS-HD is NOT an HD feed of Atlanta local TV station WTBS/17, like the national TBS feed was (mostly) for many years.

Just today, WTBS's local feed split from the national TBS network, and became Atlanta-oriented "Peachtree TV"...ending the long-running days of the local station feeding national cable systems.

Well, technically, it's mostly been the other way around recently, with WTBS-TV effectively acting as a repeater for the cable network - give or take some weekend public affairs programs...

Monday Big Update

A lot has happened since our Friday night update, for whatever reason. So, let's try to start strong this week...

FROM THE BONDS OF CLEAR CHANNEL: Two weeks ago, Tom Embrescia's Sweet Home Ashtabula, LLC took control of the now-former Clear Channel cluster in Ashtabula, a group that once only consisted of talk WFUN/970 and AC WREO/97.1.

Since that era, the cluster added now-top 40 WZOO/102.5, classic rock WFXJ/107.5, and the most recent entry, country WYBL/98.3 - which means a total of five stations went under Mr. Embrescia's umbrella earlier this month.

The station group has now also severed itself from the Clear Channel web server farm, with new local websites completed for WREO and WYBL. (Sites for WFUN, WZOO and WFXJ are "up", but marked "coming soon").

And aside from what looks to be a quick reimage of the previous Clear Channel sites, we noticed one other thing.

This logo.

This, and other references on the site, indicate that the Sweet Home Ashtabula stations will operate under the same "Media One Group" name as James Embrescia's cluster that dominates the small city of Jamestown, NY.

And Tom's brother is a significant investor in the Ashtabula effort - it's basically half and half, if we're reading the FCC application info correctly, with the two Embrescia brothers, with Tom's son Matt in there somewhere as well.

So, the Media One Group era begins at the five Ashtabula stations.

And we noted from E-Mail "Contact Us" pages that former cluster GM Dana Schulte has indeed returned in the same role at the group he once managed - before Clear Channel gave oversight of Ashtabula to Youngstown market manager Bill Kelly.

Are there changes in store? OMW hears rumblings that one of the four FM outlets may see some changes down the road, if not sooner. But we haven't confirmed it as of yet...

SULLIVAN EXITS: OMW hears that Metro Networks/Cleveland afternoon traffic reporter Jamie Sullivan, who also does weekend shifts on CBS Radio hot AC WQAL/104.1 "Q104" and AC WDOK/102.1, is leaving town.

Jamie is headed for Indianapolis, where she's going to be an airborne traffic reporter for Emmis news/talk powerhouse WIBC/1070.

The youthful Jamie has been on the radio in some form or another in Cleveland for over three years.

She's been heard in afternoons on Metro client stations including CBS Radio alt-rock/talk WKRI/92.3 "K-Rock" and Radio One urban AC WZAK/93.1. Her shows include Q104's Saturday "Party Zone", and a Sunday shift on WDOK.

And we understand that Ms. Sullivan has been on the air one way or another locally since she was 18 years old.

Our congratulations to a young, and rising, local radio talent...

WOIO, NOT JUST CBS, DROPS THE BROWNS BALL: Honest, we didn't plan another missive aimed at Raycom Media's alleged local CBS affiliate, WOIO/19.

But judging from comments from many others, we're far from alone in this assessment - the Sunday NFL game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens looked very, very, very bad on "Cleveland's CBS 19".

And for once, we're not talking about the local team's play.

We've said twice before that this game was not to be broadcast in HDTV, a decision that was made at the network level. (WOIO helpfully reminded viewers of that, with a frequent crawl blaiming the network for the lack of an HDTV broadcast.)

But the folks at Reserve Square can't pass THIS off to the gang in New York - the STANDARD DEFINITION quality of the game on 19 was below par, by a large amount.

We figured this out very easily. All you had to do was watch the HDTV broadcast of "The NFL Today" before the game.

When James Brown and company tossed it to a field report from a non-HDTV game site, the video was still at least reasonably clear, if not in HD.

When CBS ran its own network commercials that were not made in HD, the ghosting seen on WOIO's upconvert was not there. At all.

But 19's own local pre-pre-game show, "Tailgate 19", looked for all the world like it was converted from another video standard...if not transmitted from another country.

The local broadcast was so washed out and fuzzy, it was barely watchable...both from the convenient remote studio location at Scorcher's sports bar (just up the elevator from the Reserve Square basement), and from the Muni Lot.

This also effects advertisers. The "fine print" below many car ads was barely readable for viewers watching the WOIO-DT broadcast, and it looked just as bad on analog cable, for that matter.

It was the most embarrassing display of video quality we've ever seen from a local station, rivaled only by WEWS's problems a couple of years ago upconverting ABC college football games. The nature of the upconverting problem back then for "NewsChannel 5" was exactly the same.

Our guess: For local upconverting, WOIO has picked up equipment in the clearance bin at Radio Shack.

OK, so maybe that's a bit hard, but the picture quality was awful. And we are far from the only ones noticing. Complaints from HDTV set owners/Browns fans all over the area are filtering in by the hour.

We don't know why CBS's SD-only broadcasts of Browns games are so bad on Channel 19 - we're going to start calling them "SSD" (Sub-Standard Definition).

But OMW hears from some of our friends in the Youngstown/Warren market that their local CBS affiliate, WKBN/27, had no such picture quality problems. It's making us investigate getting the proper antenna to pick up WKBN's high-power digital broadcast, which is within reach of a large chunk of the Cleveland TV market.

We'd still be able to watch CBS programming in both HDTV and SDTV, and we wouldn't risk running into "19 Action News"...

CHANNEL GONE, CHANNEL COMING?: Speaking of Raycom, the digital side of the company's MyNetworkTV affiliate - WUAB/43 - has carried the 24/7 music video channel "The Tube Network" on a subchannel for some time.

Well, until now.

"The Tube" is going away, as of today. From the network's own website:

We regret to inform you of the fate that has befallen The Tube Music Network. October 1, 2007 The Tube ceased its national broadcast.

The notice cites "financial limitations" as contributing to the network's "incapacitated state". (You'd almost think the thing was a living organism by that description!)

The loss of a subchannel is almost always good news to HDTV fans. It takes away bandwidth that would otherwise be used to provide a better quality picture for the HD side of the operation.

But we don't even know if MyNetworkTV has any shows in HD, after the mini-network dumped its all-HD "novela" schedule a while back.

Could Raycom move the "WeatherNow" subchannel from 19.2 to 43.2, to free up bandwidth for the more extensive CBS HD schedule? We'd bet against it...heavily. See our rant just above.

The "Channel Coming?" part refers to a possible new addition to the Time Warner Cable lineup - the addition of the HD version of the TBS cable network.

While the prospect may not excite many, particularly with sister network TNT-HD's frequent practice of upconverting and stretching of programming, there's one big reason TBS-HD should be seen here before Thursday.

Your American League Central champion Cleveland Indians.

TBS has the exclusive rights this season to both the American League and National League Divisional Championship series. And of course, the Tribe plays the New York Yankees in the "A" series of the ALDS - starting Thursday night at Jacobs Field.

OMW hasn't heard anything about a potential addition of TBS-HD to the Time Warner Cable lineup in Northeast Ohio, but we wouldn't be surprised if it shows up sometime this week. For a number of reasons:

1) TBS is owned by TWC's parent company, of course. The rights issues would be trivial, and we've heard of other TWC systems already announcing the addition of the channel for this week.

2) TNT-HD, also owned by Time Warner, was added to the former Adelphia systems in Cleveland immediately after TWC took control of those systems.

3) The Indians' playoff games will NOT be seen on SportsTime Ohio, in either HD or SD, due to the rights being exclusively owned by Turner Broadcasting. There's nothing STO can do about's part of the national MLB TV contract.

One note: Any Division Series game that needs to be bumped from TBS, due to scheduling, will end up on TNT...which as mentioned, is already in HD on the Time Warner systems locally...

CALLING CINCINNATI: And finally, we make a brief electronic stop in the Queen City, where a big change debuts this morning on one Cincinnati radio station.

And it's no surprise, as it's been expected by just about anyone who keeps track of the Cincy radio scene: Local sports talkers "The Two Angry Guys" have joined former Clear Channel/WLW co-worker Andy Furman in the lineup of Cumulus talk WFTK/96.5 "SuperTalk FM".

Starting today, Richard Skinner and Tom Gamble take the FM talker's morning drive slot, airing weekdays from 6-10 AM. It's the same time slot they held for years on Clear Channel sports talk station "Homer", the station now otherwise known as WCKY/1530 (it was once on 1360, before the swap with the then-liberal talk format).

Exiting morning drive is Chicago-based TRN FM syndicated hot talk host Erich "Mancow" Muller.

Skinner and Gamble also shared the same frequency Furman was on, the flamethrowing "Big One" WLW/700, as they hosted a weekend show there in addition to their weekday morning show on "Homer".

And it was Furman's exit from WLW which actually prompted the breakup of the "Two Angry Guys", with Gamble called to take over the 6-9 PM weekday WLW shift solo after Furman's departure.

Skinner, by then doing the "Guys" shift solo himself on "1530 Homer", was eventually let go. Gamble left the "SportsTalk" gig on WLW after a few months - the time slot is now held by Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist Paul Daugherty.

And of course, Furman landed in "SuperTalk FM's" afternoon drive shift, which he continues to hold today.

And as such, the move puts a sports-heavy schedule on the Cumulus FM talker, at least locally.

WFTK retains Premiere's Glenn Beck and the self-syndicated Dave Ramsey money advice show in between the drive times, and Westwood One's Bill O'Reilly gets shuffled to late nights. But both drive-time slots will now be taken by well-known local sports talk hosts.

It's no surprise to anyone who watches Cumulus' "SuperTalk" stations in other markets.

But Cincinnati is very heavy with sports talk addition taking a decent chunk of WLW's evening and weekend attention, sports radio also airs on the aforementioned "1530 Homer", and its new "little brother" station, all-network "ESPN 1360"...