Monday, October 08, 2007

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...


74WIXYgrad said...

Lanigan has played Mambo for the Tribe song a couple of times this morning.

chuck said...

I purchased "Mambo for the Tribe" from Dale's website and have been playing it today as network "fill" on WTOD/Toledo. Also passed it on to other stations in the cluster. I know WRWK/The Zone has played it today.