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...

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