Friday, November 30, 2007

Two More Columbus Items

Just a couple of quick ones:

LIBERAL TALK RADIO BACK IN COLUMBUS: It had been rumored around liberal/progressive political circles and the blogosphere for a day or two, but it's now official - liberal talk radio is making a comeback in Columbus.

Columbus Dispatch radio/TV writer Tim Feran confirms that Bernard Radio's WVKO/1580, which recently returned to the air after being silent, will pick up the format on Monday. It'll feature a similar lineup to the market's former liberal talk outlet - Clear Channel now-general market talk WYTS/1230.

WVKO general manager Gary Richards, a long-time local sales executive in the market, says the new station will not only feature all three Jones Radio liberal syndicated talk shows - Bill Press in morning drive, Stephanie Miller in middays and Ed Schultz in early afternoon - but will likely also run Air America's Randi Rhodes and Rachel Maddow.

Such a schedule would basically make WVKO's lineup nearly identical to the lineup employed by the former WTPG/1230, now a general talker dubbed "Your Talk Station".

Richards also promises "local news and talk", and says the upcoming election season should provide fuel for the station's fortunes.

The format debut/return is Monday, barring possible "technical glitches", says Richards.

WVKO has been running a Spanish-language format, since its return to the airwaves from a new Morse Road tower site...

TV TUNES: TV show theme songs are what new Columbus market move-in WMRN-FM/106.7 Dublin is offering listeners, as the station stunts into its eventual permanent format.

OMW hears that the TV Tunes will be heard on the new station until mid-December.

And we've had at least one listener tell us that he believes the translator station that occupied that frequency, relaying Ohio State University's WOSU-FM (or perhaps technically, WOSB-FM Marion), may not have signed off yet. If it hasn't, it's obviously getting clobbered by the new station.

The WMRN-FM calls, of course, will eventually migrate back to Marion, where the former 106.9 "Buckeye Country" format has moved to former AC outlet WDIF/94.3...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Employee Bomb About To Drop In Youngstown

In what's no surprise to anyone not in denial, the coming days will bring news of employment status to workers at two Youngstown TV stations.

The Youngstown Business Journal reports that employees of Parkin Broadcasting ABC affiliate WYTV/33 will find out - in their pay envelopes - Friday whether they'll still have jobs after December 9th. And workers at New Vision Television CBS/FOX combo WKBN/27-WYFX/17-62 will get similar notices December 7th.

As expected, WYTV's news and on-air operations will be moved to the facilities of WKBN and "FOX 17/62" on December 10th as a part of a "shared services agreement" between the two broadcasting companies. Left behind at WYTV's long-time Shady Run Road facility, says the Business Journal's Andrea Wood, will be roughly 10 sales and management employees.

And though this story has also appeared in on the Youngstown Vindicator's website, Wood reports that WYTV anchor team Vince Bevacqua and Gina Marinelli will be out in the job upheaval. Wood reports that Angee Shaker will be the sole weekday WYTV anchor.

The link here, of course, is that agreement first uncovered in Parkin's FCC filings to buy WYTV, which gives New Vision's WKBN/WYFX the opening to produce newscasts for the ABC affiliate. But Wood also notes that New Vision itself guaranteed the 15-million dollar financing Parkin needed to buy WYTV.

One item we missed - WYTV has cancelled a large chunk of its local programming on sister digital/cable outlet "MyYTV", including the station's 10 PM newscast, and the two hour afternoon public affairs program "For The People", which was simulcast on Cumulus standards WSOM/600 Salem.

The job cuts for union employees come in two steps - those who aren't let go from WYTV with the Friday notice have a few days to decide if they're going to stay or leave. After that, the other shoe drops at WKBN/WYFX, as employees there will learn their own status December 7th.

We hate to say "we told you so", but...we (and others, like Andrea Wood) told you so.

The numbers are just what they are.

It'd have been an absolute fantasy to believe that a lightly capitalized, small company would be able to come in, buy a TV station and keep paying for a third full, separate newsroom staff in a market the size of Youngstown - a market that is literally shrinking by the day, with a very soft economy that only gets softer every year.

We feel for the WKBN/WYFX/WYTV employees. The key here is certainly "saving money", frankly, and we tried to sound that warning as early as possible.

When we talked about this before, and quipped about "life boats", we got some heat for suggesting that talent like WKBN anchor Robb Schmidt had seen the financial handwriting on the wall.

"You don't know", we were told, that Schmidt was leaving solely because he got an excellent opportunity (and that he did) in the Youngstown State University athletics department, a perfect fit for the long-time former sports anchor.

But...we feel we'd be insulting Mr. Schmidt if we didn't think he had any idea what was about to happen at his now-former station.

So, yes, he went for a nice new career opportunity.

But by the time he left WKBN/WYFX, Robb Schmidt surely had to know that much leaner times were ahead at his station. We are happy he made such a soft landing, as it were...and we hope the same for employees of both stations.

But, as expected and long predicted by this corner and's not about making a better newscast for Parkin and New Vision. It's about being more "efficient", and lining up numbers on a spreadsheet that translate to less money going out of the companies' bank accounts.

We understand the economic reality here. As mentioned, the Youngstown media market is a tight place to compete, and there may not be enough money to go around for three separate local news operations.

But...we're still saddened by the news...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

WMRN About To Move

By the time you read this, former Marion Clear Channel outlet WMRN/106.9 may be broadcasting as the company's new Columbus-based WMRN at 106.7.

OMW hears that what should be a couple of weeks of stunting starts on the latter frequency on Thursday afternoon at 12 noon.

WMRN's long-time Marion signal at 106.9 went dark earlier this month, nudging the "Buckeye Country" format to WDIF/94.3, known until the move as AC outlet "Mix 94.3". Recent Upper Sandusky move-in WYNT/95.9 Caledonia remains as the cluster's sole AC station, and a quick look at the "Majic 95.9" website shows that it's running Christmas music - like a stocking-load of other AC stations across the country are doing.

The relocated WMRN-FM in the Columbus market will take new calls at some point, kicking WMRN-FM back to Marion for "Buckeye Country 94.3".

The lighting up of 106.7 was expected to happen earlier this month, but it took some time for the way to be legally cleared - and the frequency to become clear after an appeal by translator operator Sandyworld, Inc. That translator has been running a relay of Ohio State's WOSU-FM on 106.7, and Sandyworld was one of two entities trying to block the WMRN COL move.

We've sniffed around the Clear Channel Columbus empire, and we've not smelled anything that would indicate what a permanent format would be.

Not even a whiff.

But if our experience with the company's most recent move-in - Dover/New Philadelphia's WJER-FM 101.7 to the Canton market AC outlet WHOF "My 101.7" - is a guide, expect obfuscation, balls in the air, and all that.

We've learned...don't believe what you hear (or read), even if it comes from a trusted source. We were burned last time, and won't be burned again.

So, if we hear anything about the future plans of new move-in WMRN-FM, we'll pass it along, but with a grain of salt large enough to break into a lifetime supply.

We've obtained a copy of the company's press release about the move, and this line from occasional OMW reader and Clear Channel Columbus operations manager John Crenshaw gave us a chuckle (no, we didn't get it from him):

"Thursday at noon will bring Dublin and Columbus a most unique radio station. If you could just see my tongue pressing firmly against my cheek. And stay tuned for more fun and games in the coming weeks as the 106.7 format is ultimately revealed."

No, we're not laughing at the "tongue in cheek" part or the "fun and games" part.

We're chuckling about the apparent need to identify the station in the release as a "Dublin" station, since that's the new 106.7 community of license.

Of course, the company had to build up the Columbus suburb of Dublin in the tedious and ponderous FCC process of creating a new allocation to one of many suburbs of the state capital... but we'll assume it's safe now not to have to repeat the "service to Dublin" line in a company press release, since the construction permit is already on the books.

At least Dublin has more than a newsletter to parents of middle school children backing it up as a community needing that ridiculous "first service" label...

The full Clear Channel release, which is meant to be spread far and wide, is below...


November 28, 2007

For Immediate Release

Contact: John Crenshaw

Operations Manager

Clear Channel Radio Columbus to add fifth FM Signal

After several years of filing initial FCC applications, WMRN-FM 106.7 will make its debut Thursday, November 29 at noon. WMRN had been broadcasting to the Marion, Ohio market at the 106.9 frequency. Beginning Thursday, WMRN will be broadcasting from 106.7 and will provide radio service to the City of Dublin and greater Columbus.

CCRC Operations Manager John Crenshaw: “Thursday at noon will bring Dublin and Columbus a most unique radio station. If you could just see my tongue pressing firmly against my cheek. And stay tuned for more fun and games in the coming weeks as the 106.7 format is ultimately revealed.”

CCRC Director of Engineering Greg Savoldi: “The 106.7 signal will emanate from Columbus' premiere north side tower site, the WOSU-TV tower at Highland Lakes, Westerville. The FCC classes 106.7 as a B1, as it will radiate 7300 watts from over 600 feet in the air, providing primary service coverage to over 1 million Central Ohioans."

WMRN-FM becomes the seventh station in the Clear Channel Radio Columbus cluster, joining 92.3/WCOL, 93.3/WLZT, 97.9/WNCI, 105.7/WBWR, 610/WTVN and 1230/WYTS. (WMRN-FM’s call letters will change pending FCC approval.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mutual Decision

OK, so we're a bit out of the saddle, but yes, we did actually manage to find the story written by Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington over the weekend.

(Though, as always, we appreciate the help...especially when Ms. Washington's efforts usually require a search party to find if you don't get the Dead Trees edition of the PD.)

This is hardly news to anyone who has worked in radio or TV, but stations and employees frequently have different takes on what happens when someone no longer works there.

Such appears to be the case with now-former WDOK/102.1 Cleveland morning drive-host Robin Benzle, whose departure from the CBS Radio AC outlet after 12 years we covered at the start of November.

Benzle did indeed "say goodbye", and then took off for a previously planned out-of-country trip. But she's back, and she's apparently wondering why station management called her exit from the morning drive co-host slot a "mutual decision".

Benzle tells Ms. Washington that her WDOK contract wasn't renewed:

Benzle insists she didn't want to leave.

"How can I travel if I don't have a job?" she asked. She has no definite plans.

We've gone through our earlier item, and nowhere in his carefully worded response does WDOK programmer and long-time OMW reader Scott Miller say either that A) her contract wasn't renewed or B) give any reason at all for the departure.

He did say that Benzle would be a "spokesperson for many key WDOK clients", though she presumably could continue that on her own without her contract being renewed.

Anyway, the now-former WDOK host says she hopes to return to Cleveland radio, though she tells the PD that doesn't think it'd be very likely to get an offer that doesn't cast her as a "giggle queen", noting the general male-oriented nature of Cleveland drive-time radio.

Oh, and at this point, we'd like to note that your very own Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) did not bring up the "cancer scare" issue. Ms. Benzle successfully fought skin cancer a few years ago, and urged cancer screening, but she's not dying - despite all the misplaced "get well" wishes.

No matter what he says, one way or the other, about Robin Benzle's exit, local CBS Radio honcho Chris Maduri does confirm to Ms. Washington that they're trying out potential replacement co-hosts...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

As noted in a previous item, OMW will basically "go dark" for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, though we will post any major news involving the local media if we're able to do so.

But here we are, slipping one under the door at deadline...

FINAL HO-HO-HO UPDATE, AND A FORMAT ADJUSTMENT: It's Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 "The Fish" in Cleveland as the latest holiday convert, with a planned switch to Christmas least according to their website, at any midnight tonight/Thanksgiving morning.

(And a further update as we create this item: the WFHM Christmas music switch happened with the first song past midnight, at 12:02 AM Thanksgiving Day...Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime".)

Any further updates won't be provided. For one, we're "goin' fishin'" after this, and for another, what's newsworthy about a station flipping to holiday music on Thanksgiving or after? Hmm?

Thanks to Rubber City Radio operations manager and oldies WAKR/1590 Akron program director Chuck Collins for checking in with OMW on his own station's holiday flip. He tells us:

We switched Monday at 9am and the calls have run three-to-one in favor. Of course the ones who hate it say they love the station (Oldies) and will be back after the holidays.

Speaking of liners, just wait 'til you hear the oldies T: "We have more Beatles than a Florida double-wide! 1590 WAKR...News! Sports! Oldies!"

Heh. We bring this comment "up front" for one reason...we're officially taking the "standards" off of our regular format description for WAKR.

Music on the Akron station has been migrating into the oldies (er...classic hits?) category slowly for the last few months, and it's been a while since we've heard any titles that wouldn't be comfortably found on a traditional 50's/60's AM oldies outlet.

Which really, is how it should be.

FM oldies stations, like Cleveland giant WMJI/105.7 "Majic 105.7", have nudged their own playlists into the 1970's and even the 1980's, as they struggle to keep a hold on listeners that are still, umm, demographically desirable.

But there are still plenty of older in-demo (i.e. 25-54, or up to 64 on the AM side of things) listeners who enjoy the older rock-era/pop titles.

Of course, like John Lanigan, Jimmy Malone and company on WMJI are the rock of "Majic", and WMJI could well change formats to anything short of polka music if Lanigan decides to retire anytime soon, WAKR's driving force is its "News Authority" image and extensive local news and information coverage.

In our view, lowering what we'd have to presume would be very aged demographics to keep the still mature - but more saleable - news listener between newscasts is a smart move for the folks at 1590.

We've found ourselves actually listening to WAKR more, since it's moved into oldies music...

DAILY TALK: Time Warner Cable's "Northeast Ohio Network" has quietly added a companion sports talk show to Les Levine's long-running effort.

"The Daily Dose" is hosted by Patrick Pierson, and airs weeknights at 7 PM - immediately following "More Sports and Les Levine".

Pierson has a very short commute to get to the set of his own new show, as he's the producer of Les' show - and we assume the "Daily Dose" set is next to Levine's own set at Time Warner Cable's Cleveland studios on Lakeside Avenue.

Like that program, "The Daily Dose" usually features a knowledgeable local sports media figure. The times we've tuned in, we've seen some WKNR staffers dropping in.

But Pierson is, of course, somewhat younger than his TV sports talk mentor. So, we're resisting the temptation to call Patrick's show "More Sports: The Next Generation"...

AND A LEGEND PASSES: We got a note recently wondering why we haven't mentioned the passing of legendary Cincinnati sports broadcaster Joe Nuxhall.

He certainly deserves the note.

We don't really know much about the long-time Cincinnati Reds radio voice, who started in that role in 1967 (!!!) and has been heard even in recent years on the team's radio network, based at 50,000 watt flamethrower Clear Channel talk WLW/700.

He's certainly an iconic name in broadcasting in the Cincinnati area, and hugely popular.

But we're up here in Northeast Ohio, so our experience and exposure to Nuxhall and his broadcasting career have been limited.

We'll turn the electronic stage over to others.

First, there's Cincinnati Enquirer radio/TV guru John Kiesewetter's own farewell to Nuxhall on his blog. It's a little more personal than a newspaper story.

Kiese quotes Reds broadcast partner Marty Brennaman, who should certainly know, from earlier this year:

"With all due respect to Pete Rose, there is no bigger figure in City of Cincinnati than Joe Nuxhall. In all the years we've been together, going back to '74, I have never heard one person ever ever utter a negative comment about him. That's almost unbelievable! You can’t expect that of anybody!"

And we'd like to share another personal story, from a freelance TV technical producer who first wrote us about a past experience with Nuxhall:

"It's 1982, and I am a senior at the (University of Akron) working at the college radio station (now WZIP) doing afternoon sports. I had a chance to go down to Florida for spring break, and since we always did a preseason baseball special, I applied for credentials from the myriad of teams that trained in the Tampa/St. Pete area to get some original content.

To make a long story short, for the most part I was blown off by just about everybody... with one notable exception - the Ol' Lefthander took pity on the poor college kid, and sat down in the visitor's dugout with him at old Al Lang Field and chatted about the Reds and the state of the National League for a good ten minutes. That was Joe's way.

If you read the papers and the blogs, you can't find anyone who didn't have an experience comparable to mine.

Twenty-five years in television production later, I have met and worked with a lot of so-called professional talent, and very few have lived up to Joe's standard."

RIP, Mr. Nuxhall. We weren't from the "Tri-State" and heard you maybe for 10 minutes via WLW's giant signal, but it sounds like you were a giant yourself...

AND ONE MORE DEATH-RELATED NOTE: OMW recently passed along the passing of former Cleveland talk radio host John Dayl, who ended up living and working in Arizona.

We noted that a reader called Dayl "a Gary Dee wannabe" and didn't have much nice to say about Dayl in his time here.

Well, another local broadcast pro has better memories:

"He also worked at WERE in the 80's, and was truly a nice guy and a true professional. One day, he decided to make chili for us at the station. To this day, and apologies to my wife because she makes GREAT chili, it was the best chili I've ever tasted."

The note comes to us directly from long-time WKNR talk host Greg Brinda...which proves one thing.

People say a lot about other people in the business, and many of it is based on their own personal experience or take on what happened while they were around that person.

Someone's "untalented jerk" may be someone else's "great guy who was nice and made the best chili".

Have a great Thanksgiving Day weekend, everyone. We'll see you back here next week...

Monday, November 19, 2007

And Still Another Ho-Ho-Ho Destination

Rubber City Radio standards/oldies WAKR/1590 Akron has become the latest participant in the Northeast Ohio Holiday Music Radio Sweepstakes, flipping sometime today.

We particularly like one of the liners we heard today:

"The one time a year you let a fat man down the chimney, and don't call 911. News, sports and holiday music...1590/WAKR!"

WAKR is no stranger to running traditional Christmas and holiday music. But this year, that sleigh is being driven (sorry, couldn't help it) by the station itself.

This is the first holiday season that WAKR is programming its own music, and not taking the satellite feed from the folks at Dial Global/Westwood One. When the satellite feeds change, that basically changes formats for the station, and usually it happens right around Thanksgiving itself - so until this year, WAKR adopted holiday music whenever their satellite provider changed.

Anyway, this year, that means local staffers like WAKR program director/Rubber City Radio operations manager Chuck Collins, Bob Allen, Tim Daugherty and Debbie Golden will provide the wraparound to the holiday tunes - either live or via the magic of computer voicetracking...

Another One Rides The Sleigh

To almost no one's surprise, CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 "SoftRock 102.1" has become the first Cleveland market station to flip to holiday music.

OMW hears that it was WDOK program director and OMW reader Scott Miller who launched the Christmas tunes parade at 9 AM today.

We didn't hear it directly from Scott, but really, it was not a surprise that today was the day for the flip. WDOK has usually been the first Cleveland market station to adopt the usually popular and profitable Christmas music run - which many AC stations see as a boost to their year-end fortunes.

The move comes after not one, but both, Canton market AC stations went to holiday tunes - Clear Channel's WHOF/101.7 "My 101.7", and NextMedia's WHBC-FM/94.1 "Mix 94.1"...

Turkey Week Starts

And more housekeeping: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, OMW will likely be very thin this week. At the moment, we plan to not publish at all from Wednesday through next Monday.

Part of this is because there generally isn't any major radio/TV (or indeed, other) news over the holiday weekend...but part is because we're "resetting" and taking some personal time to spend with friends and family.

We may be able to post *major* breaking media news, including such things as radio station format changes, major radio and TV personality changes and the like. But there'll be everything but a "Gone Fishin'" sign up here through most of the holiday period.

Consider this: at least we're not changing format to Christmas Media News...

WE FOUND JULIE! WE FOUND JULIE!: In its continuing attempt to confuse online readers of, the Cleveland Plain Dealer has turned the discovery of media columnist Julie Washington's regular weekend effort into a game of sorts - with the column usually missing even from her own place in the paper's "Columnists" section.

Our difficulty rate of Finding Julie this Sunday? 7.0

(We think the Russian judge skewed the numbers. "Finding Julie", by the way, would be a great title for a romantic movie.)

The good news? Ms. Washington's column is actually online. That's one step better than last week.

But it does not appear in that "Columnists" list *again*. You know, the one you get to by clicking "Location: Cleveland with Julie Washington", a nod to her other role on Sundays - covering local involvement in the film industry.

As it turns out, it should be there, since the largest part of the "Local Media" column deals with a Northeast Ohio native involved in design for the popular movie "Bee Movie". It wasn't tough for Ms. Washington to find former Brunswick resident Jeff Wagner, now working for moviemaker DreamWorks - he's the son of a Plain Dealer reporter.

The PD did helpfully include the "LOCAL MEDIA" header, which actually made its way into the story list in Sunday's Entertainment section on

Anyway, there are some radio/TV items in the back of the column, though nothing terribly earthshaking (it's been a slow week even for us). We've helpful that way - only linking the portion of the article with local media news.

Julie touches on the recent debut of "Simon Rendez-vous", the new 1-3 PM Saturday local talk show on Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100.

We've known about this show.

We've listened the past two weeks, and believe it or not, someone who's apparently the host's publicist (!) has contacted us about doing an item on the show hosted by French advertising executive Simon Badinter, who may be the only man in the history of either country to actually move from Paris to Cleveland.

But we've been holding off. For one, we don't normally do reviews here.

We wrote a lengthy one for this very entry, but just deleted it. We'll defer, for now, as we're in a charitable holiday mood...

ONE MORE FROM JULIE: Julie also has some programming moves... among them, a new weekly show based at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music on classical WCLV/104.9 (Lorain/)Cleveland, and the expansion of National Public Radio staple "All Things Considered" to seven days a week on affilate WKSU/89.7 Kent with a new 6-7 PM Sunday airing...

WHILE WE'RE TALKING WTAM: Monday will be a big "Turkey Day" at the aforementioned WTAM, and no, we're not talking about the station's afternoon drive host. (Sorry, Jeff, we couldn't resist at least one.)

It's actually a charitable event, designed to pump up the station's long-time "Coats for Kids" campaign.

WTAM's Mike Trivisonno Show will broadcast live from outside Cleveland Browns Stadium on Monday, and plans to give away 3,000 turkeys in exchange for coats for the kids' charity program.

Those who are not in need of turkeys will still be able to donate coats, and the turkey that would have gone to them will go the Hunger Network of Greater add to the 500 the charity will already get.

You can also donate cash ($10) in lieu of an actual coat, should you not have one you're able to give up for the cause...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Out The Weekend Door

Here are some items that were piled up as we prepare to shut down for the weekend...

RUBBER CITY RADIO STAFFER'S NEW JOB: You could say that Rubber City Radio afternoon traffic voice Toni Cicone has a new "stack" of work.

Well, OK, that was a pun you never saw coming, as the folks on West Market Street tell us that Cicone, who has been afternoon editor for the company's extensive AkronNewsNow website, has left Akron's WAKR/1590-WQMX/94.9-WONE/97.5 for a new non-radio job.

It's for a magazine called STACK, which is not about old-fashioned 45 RPM records. It's, we're told, a magazine that highlights "workouts and physical training and targets high school athletes, coaches and trainers".

Rubber City Radio VP/Information Media Ed Esposito tells OMW that Toni's replacement in the company's "converged digital newsroom" won't necessarily be tied to her afternoon shift. Look for the official job posting here soon.

He also reminds us that Toni had done quite a bit of field reporting as of late, spending a lot of her time as the cluster's lead reporter on the Jessie Davis case...

JUST A BRIEF NOTE: Since we didn't mention the absence of Good Karma sports WKNR/850 "ESPN 850" mid-morning host Tony Rizzo, we'll do it now.

Rizzo was off "The Really Big Show" Monday through Thursday for health reasons.

We thought we'd heard producer/co-host/newly-minted WKNR assistant program director Aaron Goldhammer mention during the week that the surgery Rizz underwent Tuesday was on his throat (!!!).

Presumably, bee pollen does nothing for what he had, though Tony mentioned Friday that the stuff he hawks on the show did help his overall feeling. (No, we won't give 'em a plug until they start sponsoring OMW.)

Rizzo, presumably also absent from his "day/night job" as WJW/8 "FOX 8"'s primary sports anchor, finally turned on the echoing radio microphones at WKNR's Galleria studios on Friday...with his usual battle cry of "It's good to be alive!" (clap...echo clap...clap...echo clap...repeat)

(We're still not sure, by the way, if the echo chamber next to WKNR's new main studio was built on purpose.)

Whatever the doctor did to his throat, it didn't come out over the air, so we'll presume Tony's in good health and able to talk full time again on radio and TV.

WKNR's post-game hosts did the honors filling in for "Rizzo on the Radio" - Cavaliers post-game host Michael Reghi, and Indians post-game host (and former time slot occupant) Greg Brinda doing the last few days.

And we may have been hallucinating, but we think Les Levine was on there one day as well.

Oh, to correct a long ago WKNR item with help from a birdie at the Galleria: 30-year sports radio veteran Brinda has done morning drive "at least a half-dozen times" in his career.

We'd questioned that back when WKNR's lineup was in flux, in the wake of the station's purchase from Salem by the Good Karma folks...

HERE'S A WEIRD SIMULCAST: OMW checked tonight, and at least in our part of the Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio Network, local programming channel 15 is up and running again.

As we hinted earlier, in parts of the region - we'll take a wild guess here and say it was in the former Adelphia areas that are also linked into the company's Akron/Canton hub for such things as WKYC's "Akron/Canton News" - a frozen picture of a woman walking down a hallway at NASA took over programming for the better part of a day or two.

A reader pointed out, and we verified tonight, that WKYC seems to have backed off of the "full Channel 3 treatment" of "Akron/Canton News", which was first introduced Monday.

The newscast is still billboarded as "WKYC's Akron/Canton News, brought to you by Time Warner Cable", and those billboards still have the WKYC logo.

But the in-newscast graphics are no longer sporting the "HD 3" logo, or the parent station's color's back to blue and white, even in those aforementioned billboards. We did see the Channel 3 colors during the sports segment.

We've had the channel on for a while...moving from the 10 PM newscast, through the last half hour of the 10 PM Friday repeat of "More Sports and Les Levine", to high school football at 11 PM.

But not just any game.

In the Akron-area parts of former Adelphia system, Time Warner Cable seems to be able to feature games that aren't being sent to Cleveland. And tonight's playoff "game of the week" features Canal Fulton's Northwest vs. Newark's Licking Valley.

But in this case, Time Warner is a simulcaster.

The game is the "Stark County Game of the Week" for NextMedia talk WHBC/1480 Canton, and is produced and televised (on delay) by Image Video's low-power combo WIVM-LP/52 Canton - WIVN-LP/29 Newcomerstown/(New Philadelphia/Cambridge).

Time Warner Cable does sponsor some elements, but the TV version carries WIVM/WIVN's IDs, and WHBC's branding.

It wouldn't be the only programming to hit both the Image Video-owned LPTVers and Akron/Canton's Time Warner systems - the local music performance/interview show Random Acts of Music is also seen on TWC throughout Northeast Ohio, as well as WIVM/WIVN.

While we're talking TWC, the "Northeast Ohio Network" (NEON) channel seems to be filling out its schedule. We caught the local show "Made Here" - we're not sure what it's about, but tonight's show showed a woman doing welding - followed by "3 Squares", what we assume is a new restaurant show hosted by Al Pawlowski.

Yes, it's the same Al Pawlowski known for his Indians studio work on SportsTime Ohio, and as the radio voice of Cleveland State University Viking Basketball...

AND HO HO HO AGAIN: We're not maintaining an official list, but this just a note to put in the archive here.

Following crosstown AC competitor WHOF/101.7 "My 101.7", NextMedia Canton AC WHBC-FM/94.1 "Mix 94.1" turned on their own sleigh bells and holiday music cheer Thursday morning.

With two Christmas music outlets, it appears Canton blinked first compared to stations in Northeast Ohio's largest market of Cleveland, which have yet to call up St. Nick and ask for ho-ho-ho-tunes.

The smart money would be on CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1, which is usually the first to flip to holiday music in the market, to do so sometime next week...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Addendum To Our Last Item

Our apologies to Cleveland Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington for the first item below.

And for that matter, to ourselves, for looking so out of touch in front of all of you.

Ms. Washington's Sunday column apparently covered Mr. Duncan's departure from WERE/1490.

We say "apparently", because the online version at has a glitch that doesn't allow one to go past the story on NBC's Brian Williams doing his broadcast from Cleveland this week. Scroll to the bottom, and tell us if we're missing the "Page 2" link. Or, maybe she has a column under another heading that has the Ronnie Duncan story...we can't find it.

Unless we manage to get our mitts on Sunday's Dead Trees edition of PD (we're not a subscriber), we won't be able to read the story.

This is an ongoing problem with us and the PD content found on

Ms. Washington has a columnist "page" (currently labeled "Location: Cleveland" for her articles related to filmmaking efforts in Cleveland).

The media-related columns OCCASIONALLY end up there, but Sunday's effort has not...though the "180 day archive" lists her November 4th piece talking to local radio consultant and former WMMS/100.7 programmer John Gorman about his "Buzzard" book. And not much else until an October column.

Is this any way to run a newspaper's website?

Oh, and aside to Roger Brown, if that's really you in the comments in our last item - welcome. "Word is" that people did mostly enjoy your column when it was in the PD. You were certainly well-read.

But as far as our own "breathless" accounting of breaking news and scoops...does the phrase "tongue in cheek" mean anything to you?

You're a print journalist. You were employed by a major metropolitan newspaper, and as far as we know, still are employed by a pair of suburban papers.

You get paid to do your job. The Plain Dealer used to write paychecks to you, and we assume you're not doing stuff for the Lake County News-Herald and the Lorain Morning Journal for free.

We're basically a "one-man band" ("Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm)") and do this on our own time, for free, and at our own leisure. Maybe we ought to start having fun with our little "THIS JUST IN" and "BREAKING NEWS" headers, to make our sense of humor clearer.

We're often *surprised* when we "break" local media stories here.

They mostly just fall into our lap from regular readers, or from readers we didn't know we had with extensive connections (and even titles like "Vice President" or "General Manager"). One of the biggest surprises we ever got was when a well-known local cluster programmer somewhere outside our regular coverage area told us he enjoyed our work, unsolicited.

Roger...admit it, you have a "schtick", as do we. Your shout outs to Ronnie Duncan, Chris Rose, and the like are legendary.

(We have "friends of OMW", too, ya know. There may be drinking games based on our frequent mentions of "long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush".)

Your apparent interest in real estate values of local sports-related personalities is also legendary, as is your use of the phrase "Word is". Some find it humorous.

You know? Some do that with us, too.

We have our own lingo and expressions, and some of it causes people to roll their eyes. We have our own regular rotation of topics - you should see the E-Mail when we post articles about Youngstown/Warren-market based small radio group operator Beacon Broadcasting (WANR/WRTK/WLOA/WGRP/WEXC).

It comes with the territory.

Oh, and these comments, moved from the previous item's comment section and edited slightly for context, are from us:


1) We rarely post in the comments. We'd actually like them to go away.

2) We don't see (the comments) section as "having the last word". We generally only close off the comments these days if there are out-of-hand comments against subjects we address. We've even had to do it once or twice with very unkind/serious comments people made against you!

3) You confuse the people in (the comments section) with this blog's author. All of our comments have the convenient "Ohio Media Watch" Blogger login link above them, like this one.

4) If you are indeed still writing a media-related column for a Northeast Ohio newspaper(s), your writing is fair for us to read, digest and comment upon. If you're "out of the media business", tell us, and the name Roger Brown will no longer come off of our keyboard.

5) And most important - (this update) shows that we don't run from our goofs. We point them out, we highlight them, we shine a spotlight on them, we apologize.

(Though this one is not ENTIRELY our fault, since we couldn't actually READ the column without the "on paper" version - and the online version not being available. If we're missing that, we'll apologize again.)

If you are still writing media columns, feel free to tell us an easy, "don't have to use the search option" method to find your columns on the websites of either suburban paper, and we'll be happy to direct people there again.

Basically, though? Lighten up, my friend...

--Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm)

The Midweek Skip

Looks like we're doing the "Tuesday/Thursday" thing this week, as far as updates go...

RONNIE DUNCAN OUT?: Regular OMW reader and alert tipster Nathan Obral in Lake County gets the hat tip for this.

He doesn't know when it happened - and for that matter, neither do we - but it appears morning drive host Ronnie Duncan is out at Radio One Cleveland urban talker WERE/1490.

Sure enough, Duncan has been excised from the "Newstalk 1490" website. The schedule now lists the "WERE Morning Show" from 6-9 AM.

So, who's doing that show?

Nathan tells us it's Basheer Jones handling the morning show now, along with WERE program director Kim Hill.

Basheer who?

Mr. Obral dug up a WKYC/3 "Romona's Kids" profile of the "BRICK" program from December of last year for us. "BRICK" is a mentoring program meant to improve the fortunes of young black men, particularly in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood.

And here's Basheer Jones:

BRICK member Basheer Jones has gone on to do great things. He graduated with honors from Morehouse College and produced a CD of his poetry. Basheer hopes one day to lend his voice and vision to Cleveland. "I'm thinking of becoming a part of the school board, maybe CEO of the school system, and one day I also (plan) to become the mayor of Cleveland as well", Basheer says.

But Nathan has also provided a link to Mr. Jones' MySpace profile (WARNING: Musical soundtrack ahead, like most MySpace pages!). Let's let the man tell us himself, and forgive the all caps:


We get the impression the change happened a while ago, from what Nathan tells us. Maybe we lost track because Roger Brown's not in the PD anymore.

Or maybe Roger is doing unpaid PR for Mr. Duncan these days whenever his column shows up in suburban newspapers. (Did Shaker Heights native Chris Rose from FOX Sports take up too much of the column? Or maybe he ran a series of solely consisting of house sale prices...)

Anyway, among his friends, Basheer Jones counts someone who's certainly made a name for himself: Cleveland native Troy Smith, who went from local high school football stardom into the pantheon of great Ohio State Buckeyes quarterbacks, and who was drafted by the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.

Nathan wonders aloud how much longer WERE will stick with the Radio One-driven urban talk format, given the recent dissection and changes at the company's "Syndication One" division.

But the Radio One national urban talk effort still includes its biggest name, Al Sharpton, so what the company does with its existing "newer" talk outlets is probably anyone's guess...

SPEAKING OF PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT: We already covered the departure of long-time morning co-host Robin Benzle from CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1. (By the way, she's probably not answering E-Mail because she left the country after her goodbye show.)

But some day, that co-host slot next to veteran host Trapper Jack is going to be filled, and we're likely about to hear a rotation of (most likely) women sitting in the chair next to Trapper - if that hasn't already started yet.

To that end, OMW hears that former Cleveland traffic reporter/sidekick Sally Ride will sit in the chair alongside Trapper Jack later this morning. Or, we're not sure, it might be Friday.

And of course, Sally was in the mix the last time a morning radio job opened up in Ohio. She was one of the auditioners for the co-host job at Akron market talk WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron", after Maggie Fuller left the program alongside Stan Piatt, Steve French and Jim Midock.

Well, she left for a while, at any rate...

The appearance on WDOK pairs Sally with not only Trapper Jack, but newsman Jim McIntyre - a former WERE co-hort of hers...

RANDY TV?: We have nothing to verify this other than a report in Tom Taylor's column on the website, but, this might be interesting.

Could former Clear Channel radio head Randy Michaels, he of suburban Cincinnati, be ready to ride into Cleveland...well, at least as a TV operator?

Taylor quotes a Reuters report we can't find, which cites that private equity firm Oak Hill Capital was the "only bidder left standing" for FOX O&O TV stations in "markets like Cleveland and Denver". That would, of course, lead us to Cleveland's Own WJW "FOX 8".

Randy's involved because he heads up Local TV LLC, the company Oak Hill created to run the former New York Times TV stations.

And Oak Hill is being touted because private equity bids to make large buys like this have pretty much died in the water, due to the ongoing credit crunch. (For that matter, it's still an open question who'll pick up the Clear Channel small market stations once tabbed to be sold to GoodRadio.TV LLC, then Frequency License LLC, then...well, your guess is as good as anyone.)

What influence would one-time radio badboy Randy Michaels have on the on-air look/feel of "FOX 8", if all those dots got connected? Probably not much, we guess.

There hasn't been much written about the Local TV LLC stations aside from the usual staff changes and the like, though you can read a bunch about the company's WTKR/Norfolk VA on Bob Corbin's excellent VARTV.

But we love to throw Randy's name around if it's out there...

CHANNEL 5'S MOVIE LOOK: We couldn't help but notice that video on WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5's" newscasts occasionally looks like it is filmed, and not least in the world of standard definition.

One of our regular contacts at 3001 Euclid tells us that there's actually a technical reason for this, and that the station's 16x9 field video is being run through a process that affects its frame rate...related to the downconversion of it to air in the SD format.

It's a long, complex explanation, but the upshot is that it's a side-effect of the station's effort to get field video into true HD format. They tried it a while ago, but it hasn't "stuck" yet.

We're told that after a software upgrade, whenever it's made available by the station's vendor, the "true HD" video will work, and all the stuttering will go away...

AND CABLE TECHNICAL GLITCHES: We're still trying to figure out why, and where.

So, our call goes out to Time Warner Cable subscribers in the former Adelphia areas, in both Cleveland and suburban Akron.

After you read this, tune to cable channel 15 - the local origination channel - and tell us what you see. If you see anything but what would be normal programming (or the system's rotating computer slides), please let us know.

And if you see frozen video of a woman walking down the hallway of what might be a NASA office, we'd especially like to hear from you.

We understand Time Warner is "on the case", and may clear this up by the time you read this...

AND HO-HO-HO: Clear Channel Youngstown market oldies outlet WBBG/106.1 Niles is about to become the next station to throw the yule log on the radio fire.

The station's website says the holiday tunes start rolling on "Big 106.1" (if it still uses that name on-air) this morning, at 9 AM.

The move makes it the second Christmas music station in Northeast Ohio, after sister AC WHOF/101.7 North Canton "My 101.7"'s move earlier this week.

If you're itching to keep track of who's putting on the Ho Ho Ho Tunes yourself, nationwide, check out what's basically the official list of radio Christmas music stations here.

The list is maintained with loving care, and very few drinks of eggnog, by our long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush at

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

First Northeast Ohio Christmas Flip In Canton

OMW hears that Clear Channel AC WHOF/101.7 North Canton "My 101.7" has turned on the Christmas music switch.

The holiday tunes started flowing at 9 AM, according to what we hear out of Freedom Avenue.

As far as we know, that makes WHOF the first Northeast Ohio station to adopt the holiday music format, a staple of AC stations across the country. Clear Channel AC WLZT/93.3 "Lite FM" in the Columbus market has already started ringing the sleigh bells...

Tuesday Catch Up

Our apologies for "radio silence" so far this week.

As noted earlier, our away-from-the-Mighty-Blog(tm) schedule has been in flux recently, so we'll basically get here when we get here.

But...we got here, so here we are...

"AKRON/CANTON NEWS" REBRANDS, A LITTLE: When a large news operation agrees to produce a news program for another outlet, either co-owned or not, it's often a tough decision how to brand the new newscast.

In Pittsburgh, for example, Cox NBC affiliate WPXI/11 produces the 10 PM show for non-co-owned Sinclair FOX affiliate WPGH/53, which until the deal had produced its own newscast. The newscast is promoted as a 10 PM newscast for WPXI "on FOX 53".

In other cities, the newsroom in question does a "stealth newscast" for the other operation under its own name, though usually the news partner is at least mentioned.

Thus, it's no surprise to us that Gannett's Cleveland NBC affiliate, WKYC/3, has rebranded the Akron/Canton-based newscast it airs on Time Warner Cable's local origination channels.

Known as "PAX 23 News" back in the early days, the newscast changed Monday night to add the Channel 3 name to its "Akron/Canton News" title. (Officially, it's "Channel 3's Akron/Canton Newscast Presented By Time Warner Cable", a nod to WKYC's partner in the operation.)

The new branding means the Akron-based newscast also adopts the Channel 3 color scheme and graphics scheme, including the use of the "HD 3" logo at the bottom right of the newscast.

(No, as far as we know, it's not available in HD - at least yet. For one, we're pretty sure the Akron/Canton Bureau on Main and Market doesn't have either HD cameras, or the ability to backhaul them live to Lakeside.)

The rebranding is made all the more important by the fact that WKYC has no 10 PM full-market newscast.

Since it ran the Akron/Canton News on what was then "PAX 23" at its start, even when WKYC ran WVPX/23's operations out of Lakeside, there was no place to put a 10 PM full-market cast.

ABC affiliate WEWS/5 has the same problem, since Scripps didn't decide to hang onto WOAC/67 Canton after its "Shop at Home" division got sold off. Channel 67 had never been run in tandem with WEWS, anyway, and the station would have to have launched a new independent outlet if Scripps had any thoughts of keeping WOAC.

The strength of WJW/8 "FOX 8 News" at 10 PM, along with whatever shares Raycom Media MyNetworkTV affiliate WUAB/43 "My 43" still manages to pick up with the 10 PM edition of "19 Action News", would seem destined to leave Scripps and Gannett on the 10 PM news sidelines...even if the companies had some place to put the shows.

(Though we suspect a stiff wind could knock over the "My 43" broadcast of "Action News".)

So, why not pick up at least some extra "Channel 3" eyeballs with your Akron/Canton newscast at both 6:30 and 10?

It at least extends the brand, with WKYC personalities like Eric Mansfield, Jim Donovan and Betsy Kling appearing on the Akron-based newscast already - and it's certainly no secret where they work.

Thanks to WKYC/3's Frank Macek and his "Director's Cut" blog for first word of this on Friday...

THIS JUST IN...: Not confirmed 100% as of yet, but we're getting strongly sourced information that a national radio chain executive, who has ties to Northeast Ohio, is now out at that particular broadcast group.

The group does have outlets in this area.

We're working on confirming it, and will have it up as soon as we get that word...or explain this item if one of the trade websites posts the word first...

UPDATE 11/13/07 1:48 PM: AllAccess has a short confirmation of this above item. It's NextMedia programming VP Harve Alan who has left the company.

Of course, Harve has Akron on his resume, as a staffer for the stations currently owned by Rubber City Radio.

NextMedia owns Canton talker WHBC/1480 and AC outlet WHBC-FM/94.1 "Mix 94.1"...

JOHN DAYL DIES: AllAccess reports that veteran Phoenix radio talker John Dayl has passed away at the age of 76.

Dayl had bounced around many of the talk radio outlets in the Valley of The Sun, including Clear Channel talk KFYI/910-550, as well as second tier stations KFNX/1100 (yes, 1100) and KXAM/1310.

But as a regular OMW reader commented to us - you "may not" remember his time on the air in Cleveland. Dayl was a host at then-WWWE "3WE"/1100 in Cleveland in the 1980's.

Our reader is correct at least as far as it goes with your Primary Editorial Voice(tm): we don't remember Dayl's apparently brief stint at 3WE.

His name mixes in our head with all sorts of forgettable attempts by the station to launch successful talk shows with out-of-town imports, like Rich Michaels and Jaz McKay, or even attempting to launch shows with strong local FM personalities converted to talk hosts - Jeff and Flash, Danny Wright, etc.

Not all of that is the fault of the personality or personalities, especially in the latter cases.

But the 3WE talk radio experiment basically floundered, and talk didn't flourish until the WTAM conversion and new owners (Secret/Jacor/Clear Channel). Oh, and until the local baseball team started actually winning with regularity.

Anyway, back to John Dayl for a bit.

He apparently didn't make a lot of friends in his brief time in Cleveland. Our reader called Dayl "a no talent loudmouthed Gary Dee wannabe", though we seem to recall his act toned down somewhat as he aged and landed in Phoenix.

Funny thing is...even today, there are still "no talent loudmouthed Gary Dee wannabes" in the world of talk radio, and Gary Dee has been dead for years.

Some things never change...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Short Cuts

As we mercifully bring this week to an end in one day...

MARK AND ABBY: In the first of two "heads up" reminders from WKYC/3 senior director Frank Macek's "Director's Cut" blog - the station's new morning "Channel 3 News Today" team launched this morning.

The most significant changes involve the previously reported move of chief meteorologist Mark Nolan to the co-host spot of the show.

And he'll be joined by new hire Abby Ham - recently of Gannett sister NBC affiliate WBIR/10 in Knoxville TN. Channel 3 mainstays Barbara Gauthier and meteorologist Hollie Strano round out the four person show.

Ms. Ham's departure created quite a stir in her hometown, according to an article in the Knoxville News:

When news broke on Oct. 26 that Ham was leaving, it attracted huge interest at, generating more than 12,500 page views in one day. The story was by far the most popular view on the Web site, even outshining a story about Kenny Chesney and the University of Tennessee football team.

During her time here, Ham also emerged as a local Internet celebrity, with several area bloggers commenting on her and keeping track of her on-screen work.

Well, welcome to Cleveland, Abby.

As far as that last part goes, we're basically it in this town, though there are message boards and the like seemingly dedicated to the "sizing up" of TV anchors here, especially women. Ask Hollie about that.

(We're a bit more elegant than that here at OMW.)

For those drool-guys on the message boards: Relax. The article linked above says Abby is engaged to be married, and she'll tie the knot in Knoxville in 2008 - where she says she'll also return for holidays and the like.

Meanwhile, those who aren't watching Ms. Ham will be watching Mark Nolan's transition from tracking storms to waking viewers as the show's other co-host...

AND ANOTHER WKYC THING: Mr. Macek's blog also reports that NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams will be anchoring the program live from Cleveland on Monday, November 12th:

We understand Brian will be featuring stories on some local veterans who have returned home from Iraq. As you know, Sunday is Veterans Day.

Frank also mentions that the nation will see Cleveland in HD. We assume the show will be done from the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center on Lakeside, which is well equipped, but we didn't know the HD-produced "Nightly News" could use the format in remote broadcasts.

Since Mr. Macek promises more blogging related to the national broadcast, we're sure those details will be filled in...

A NAME FROM CLEVELAND RADIO PAST: When we read about the death of iconic Chicago rock radio personality Jimmy P. Stagg the other day, we noted it, but thought not much more about it.

But as it turns out, Stagg launched his way into Windy City radio from right here in Northeast Ohio, as two regular OMW readers "who would know" tell us.

Before going west, we're told Mr. Stagg was one of a number of big named, big voiced on-air personalities at Cleveland's KYW/1100 in the mid-1960's. Many people in that generation listened to him along with other local radio stars like Jim Runyon and Jerry G., before Stagg went off to Chicago and popular stations like WCFL/1000 and WMAQ/670.

For anyone keeping track from here, WCFL is today's ESPN-owned WMVP/1000 "ESPN Radio 1000", and WMAQ's old frequency hosts CBS Radio sports outlet WSCR "The Score".

And of course, KYW is now today's Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100...but you knew that, didn't you?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

THIS JUST IN: Former "Mix 94.1" PD Lands In Connecticut

AllAccess reports that former NextMedia AC WHBC-FM/94.1 Canton "Mix 94.1" program director and morning host Terry Simmons has landed in a similar job back east.

He takes the reins at Cumulus hot AC WDBY "Y105" in Danbury, Connecticut, where he'll also be the station's program director and morning host.

The trade site says Simmons starts at Connecticut's "Y105" next Monday.

After Simmons exited WHBC-FM, the "Mix" programming chair was eventually occupied by Hunter Scott, who does afternoon drive on the Canton AC station...

Cumulus' Ohio Four Spin

Cumulus, also seeking to end up going private, has just done its own round of spinoffs intended to slim the company's station roster, and four of those spinoffs involve the OMW coverage area.

In the Youngstown/Warren market, Cumulus is moving standards WSOM/600 Salem and AC WLLF/96.7 Mercer PA "The River" to Stratus Radio LLC. And in the Toledo market, it's classic rock WXKR/94.5 Port Clinton and top 40 WTWR/98.3 Luna Pier MI "Tower 98-3" headed for Stratus Land.

See any connection here?

Not only are the four stations not the most coveted assets in each Cumulus cluster, they're all licensed to suburban or even out-of-state outposts. And in one case, with WLLF, it is actually a Western PA station...aiming at Mercer County, along with sister WPIC/790 Sharon PA.

The move involving 19 stations reduces Cumulus' footprint, so the FCC will look more favorably upon its bid to go private.

Like in other such cases, don't expect immediate format or personnel changes at any of the staions - at least any linked to the move into the spinoff firm. Though Stratus will be eventually, presumably, charged with finding new buyers for the 19 stations, for now they'll likely be operated as they have been...and listeners will scarcely know that a new owner will have them...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Clear Channel's Budget Axe Hits Youngstown

The rolling wave of Clear Channel staffing/budget cuts has hit Ohio. This time, it's the folks on South Avenue in Boardman seeing reductions.

AllAccess reports that Clear Channel's Youngstown cluster has released three staff members...and two of them are long-time on-air staff members.

In addition to cluster engineer Mike Heim, CC Youngstown says goodbye to talk WKBN/570 afternoon co-host Casey Malone, and oldies WBBG/106.1 midday veteran Jerry Goddard.

Malone's exit would presumably leave WKBN afternoon driver Ron Verb hosting solo.

And we'll assume that "Big 106.1" will voicetrack someone into Goddard's midday shift.

Goddard has been with WBBG for many years, dating back to the late 1980's.

Malone, of course, was the long-time midday host on the frequency WBBG holds today, back when it was rock WNCD "CD 106".

She continued to do double duty when first joining Verb on WKBN, but eventually stayed only on the AM side of things - though continuing a weekend blues show on the current incarnation of WNCD "The Wolf" on 93.3.

In the "this could be worse" department: While South Avenue loses three staffers, AllAccess reports "at least" 17 job cuts at the Clear Channel cluster in Detroit.

It reminds us of the job massacre seen last year, when the company's Cincinnati cluster lost similar numbers.

And, frankly, Clear Channel staffers elsewhere have every reason to worry about more.

Not only is this the usual budget cut time of year for the company, but the strings are now being pulled by the private equity funds which have taken over Clear Channel.

And some of the trade press rumblings are warning people to expect even larger budget-related staffing cuts from CC this time around...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Yeah, It's Monday

While waiting to make an announcement...

ESPN 970:
As linked here via the Ashtabula Star-Beacon earlier, Media One's WFUN/970 has made the switch from talk to sports.

OMW regular reader/tipster Nathan Obral up in Lorain County - apparently getting some good across-Lake Erie reception - tells us that WFUN made the previously announced format change over the weekend, now branding as "ESPN 970 WFUN".

The earlier report stated that the format change would move WFUN morning drive host John Broom's show into mid-mornings (10 AM-noon), following ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike", with the impression that it was just a temporary move. Broom has been doing a news/talk/information show in morning drive, and we're presuming he won't slide into doing a sports talk show after the format change.

Outside his own program, Broom has taken over news duties at the Media One cluster that were formerly handled by Kathy Davis - who moved to sister new-to-oldies outlet WZOO/102.5 "Magic Oldies 102.5" to host morning drive there.

(And yes, the former 102ZOO is still carrying the WZOO-FM Edgewood legal ID, as we can find no signs in the FCC database that it's changed, or requested a change.)

Outside of Broom's show and a 2 hour weekday afternoon drive local show, plus any sports play-by-play coverage, WFUN will carry the ESPN Radio national feed. We'd presume the local high schools and colleges will get more coverage.

Most of this information is based on previous reports or educated guesses. Media One pulled the plug on the former WFUN website, and we can't find any reference to a new one in the "Media" listing on the other company sites...

BUZZED BY THE BUZZARD BOOK: Two very good articles by Akron Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels and Cleveland Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington provide us an opportunity to A) plug that new John Gorman book about WMMS, and B) not have to say much about it. (Sorry, we're a bit lazy this Monday morning.)

"The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio - a Memoir" is the former 'MMS operations manager, program director and music director's personal view of the station in his 13 years working there.

We say that because Gorman himself says it in the "Author's Note" at the start of the book.

We haven't gotten our hands on a copy, but publisher Gray & Company - purveyor of all sorts of Cleveland-related books, including many media-related - has put up a sample online:

"The events described in this book occured between July 3, 1973 and August 15, 1986. All details are based on my personal experience and are drawn from my memory and my collection of memos, correspondence, and press clippings. This is my life as I remember it.

Memories are subject to distortion. To ensure the accuracy of mine, I called on many people who provided invaluable assistance. They are listed in the acknowledgments at the end of the book."

These kinds of books are subject to a lot of debate, since most of them are, indeed, "as the author saw it".

Successful, larger-than-life radio stations like WMMS often have at least two or three different "groups" or "clusters" of people with different viewpoints on such things as, well, how the radio station runs.

So, we suggest for anyone interested - pick up this book, and pick up (if you don't already have it) Mike Oleszewski's "Radio Daze", and figure things out in your own mind. Or, if you were there, write your own book...

If you'd like to catch up with Mr. Gorman, who's been a consultant in recent years, he'll be doing book signings starting Thursday.

The list, on his own Gorman Media Blog, also includes scheduled appearances on WMJI's "Lanigan and Malone" and on WNCX's "Mud, Mihalik and Mike" - the latter, of course, including that other author we mentioned above on Gorman's second local station, and the former pairing Gorman with local radio legend John Lanigan and co-host Jimmy Malone.

The Plain Dealer's Tom Feran is co-author of the book...

Cumulus' Toledo market FM stations have been putting up streaming audio feeds, but now, the Internet audio comes to one of their AM outlets.

And unlike the FMs, or even its sister AM station, talk WTOD/1560's schedule is actually "extended by the online feed"- as it's a daytimer that has limited hours, especially in the winter.

(Well, extended if you don't count the fact that you need to be online to pick it up.)

The "SuperTalk 1560" streaming audio not only will relay the on-air content, it'll carry its own schedule of syndicated shows that aren't heard on the AM side even in the longest broadcast hours of summer.

The weekday late-night schedule includes programming from Talk Radio Network, starting with a Laura Ingraham one-hour replay, followed by TRN's Jerry Doyle, Roy Masters and a repeat hour of TRN's Michael Savage leading into morning drive.

Weekend late nights will belong to replays of shows from self-syndicated financial advice guru (and new FOX Business TV host) Dave Ramsey.

Unlike at least some daytimers turning to this sort of thing, WTOD's online feed continues to play out of the automation as if it were on the air, complete with liners, IDs and hourly news and weather...

AND A CLARIFICATION: A clarification/update to an item we put in last Friday.

As it turns out, Clear Channel talk WHLO/640-sports WARF/1350 program director Jerry Mullins' father is in much better health than we had assumed - after a serious motorcycle accident.

Mullins will exit the stations at the end of this month.

Jerry tells OMW:

"The statement about 'family reasons' for leaving is not correct.

My father's accident did make me take stock of my life and my career in general. My conclusion: life is too short to kill myself working 60+ hours a week.

My dad was in a motorcycle accident on September 6th. He was in a coma for 2 weeks, the doctors told us he wouldn't wake up, (but) he has recovered 100% mentally, and has up to 6 months physical therapy.

He is expected to make a total recovery after he heals and wraps up his therapy. It's not a heartbreaking tale, it's a story of hope and overcoming obstacles.

My father just came home on Thursday afternoon for good. While I will be helping out my family as much as I can, I can't afford to take care of my father full time."

Thank you, Jerry, for the clarification. And we send our hopes and best wishes, still, for you and your family...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Freedom Avenue Changes

We have two items of note out of Clear Channel's Akron/Canton cluster.

First, it's former WTAM/1100 weekend overnight news anchor Michael Kelly who takes over the morning news anchor slot at talk WHLO/640, starting Monday.

Recently, Kelly has been doing news for WPGB/104.7 Pittsburgh during the regionally syndicated "Quinn and Rose" show - via the company computer network from Clear Channel Cleveland's Oak Tree facilities, so he never actually left the building after WTAM pulled local overnight newscasts.

Of course, WHLO carries the "Quinn and Rose" program as an affiliate.

Kelly replaces long-time WHLO news director Tom Duresky, who left earlier this year.

The other item from the Freedom Avenue folks also involves WHLO.

Jerry Mullins, program director for WHLO and for sister sports WARF/1350 "Sportsradio 1350", is leaving the stations at the end of this month.

We will have a clarification on this item sometime in the next day or two...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Robin Benzle Exits At WDOK

No, you weren't hearing things if you heard Robin Benzle's last show on CBS Radio Cleveland AC outlet WDOK/102.1.

Robin indeed said goodbye to her post alongside WDOK's Trapper Jack this morning, opting to make her on-air exit a single day event.

WDOK program director and OMW reader Scott Miller comments on his departing morning co-host...

"Robin has done a superb job in her tenure in a most critical daypart. Her wit and humor along with her timely cooking and lifestyle tips have been effective and fun to hear."

As far as what's next for her, Scott tells OMW...

"Robin loves to cook (obviously), travel and write. The next chapter in her life will include those things, and an opportunity to spend more time with her family."

He tells us that Robin will continue working as a spokesperson for "many key WDOK clients"...

The Football Blues

We're coming up to another fall football weekend, and once again, many people will have to take measures to see games they may want to see, but can't see at home...

BIG TEN NETWORK MESS, AGAIN: As we hinted earlier, this weekend's Big Ten football showdown between the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and 21st-ranked Wisconsin Badgers has been picked up by the Big Ten Network - which is visible in roughly 14 cable homes in Northeast Ohio. OK, maybe a few thousand.

Those with satellite TV, or subscribers to AT&T's "U-verse" alternative video system, will get the Buckeyes and Badgers, along with those who get a handful of local cable systems - like Cleveland's "WOW" cable service, and others elsewhere in Ohio (Toledo's Buckeye CableSystem, etc.).

But subscribers to the dominant cable provider in Ohio, Time Warner Cable, will not see the game.

You almost couldn't blame the BTN folks for this one, aside from one fact.

The new TV deal offers up two in-conference games per year for each team to the conference's own channel. Ohio State has only had one Big Ten matchup on BTN, so the network was able to grab either this week's game or the contest with Illinois next week.

Ah, but the "one fact": The "we must have two in-conference games" rule was drawn up by the conference, which, of course, runs the network (along with partner FOX Sports).

And of course, the hugely popular Ohio State/Michigan matchup which will be featured on ABC-TV, as the College Football Gods intended.

The Akron Beacon Journal's George M. Thomas - OSU beat writer, sports media columnist and long-time OMW reader - gives all the gruesome details here.

We disagree with Mr. Thomas on one point.

We don't think that the Big Ten Network "belongs on basic cable", per se. We actually wonder if it should exist, aside from its potential financial windfall for the conference.

But we do believe the popular Buckeyes football team belongs on basic cable, broadcast TV (national or local), or some other option that doesn't shut out millions of potential viewers - who couldn't get the channel without switching video providers.

That's the way it used to be, you know...

Other bad news on the BTN/cable front comes from the Plain Dealer's Elton Alexander, who reports that things are looking mighty bleak for the prospect of that network showing up on Time Warner Cable.

Time Warner says negotiations to bring the network to the company's large number of cable systems (including the huge Northeast Ohio grouping) are "ongoing", but Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman tells Alexander that they've removed themselves from the talks:

"There's nothing going on. There's zero chance of getting this network carried anytime soon. That's a fact."

Silverman may be the ultimate TV "hard bargainer", and for the moment, he's got one large bargaining chip, the OSU-Wisconsin game.

That's expected by the TWC folks, where spokesman Chris Thomas tells the PD:

"...nothing will change until the Big Ten Network backs off its demand, considered unreasonable by Time Warner, to be included on extended basic cable."

The loser?

Ohio State football fans, of course. No matter who's "right or wrong" in all this, a lot of diehard Buckeyes fans will have to find a friend with satellite TV or the AT&T service (the former much more likely than the latter), or shoehorn into one of a gazillion sports bars to share a screen with a few dozen of their newest friends...

ANOTHER NON-SEEN GAME: It's being touted as almost an in-season Super Bowl, but there are only three television markets in the entire country which will not see CBS' Sunday NFL broadcast of the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.

Guess which area is among them?

That's right - no matter how much Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19 may want to show it, they will not be showing Patriots/Colts to viewers in this area.

Are the folks at "Cleveland's CBS 19" being mean? Did they spend too much on their HD news conversion that they can't afford the game?

No, easy as it is for us to "Blame Reserve Square", this one falls on the shoulders of the National...Football...League.

With the voice of late NFL Films great John Facenda ringing in our heads, the explanation is simple - the Cleveland Browns schedule this weekend.

If the Browns were playing a CBS game with a 1 PM start, as is usual, this would be a no brainer. WOIO would be able to carry the Browns at 1, followed by the Colts/Patriots at 4. It is, after all, a CBS Doubleheader week.

But the Browns are playing the Seattle Seahawks at 4 PM this Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The mere placement of that game would preempt New England vs. Indianapolis on "CBS 19" here, but the Seahawks are in the NFC...which means the Browns/Seahawks will be carried Sunday on WJW/8 "FOX 8" in the Cleveland market.

(The conference of the away team determines which network carries their games, at least on Sunday afternoons between CBS and FOX. NBC and ESPN, and the NFL Network, aren't bound by those guidelines, since their games are all national.)

WOIO is not allowed, by NFL rules, to program a competitive game against the home team... so it can't carry the Colts vs. the Patriots. It's also not allowed to pick up CBS' other 4 PM game, the Oakland Raiders hosting the Houston Texans.

And those are the other two areas involved.

The Houston market will get that game instead of the "mid-season Super Bowl", and so will the tiny Eureka CA market in extreme Northern California.

The San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of the Raiders' home market territory won't be able to televise the Raiders/Texans, since the game won't be sold out at the Oakland Whatever Big Software Company It's Named For Now Coliseum.

So, this map of carriage of the 4 PM CBS games is a wide swath of red (New England/Indianapolis), with a small splash of blue up in far Northern California and in southern Texas (Houston/Oakland).

The maps, by the way, are a fan-driven effort by one Mr. J.P. Kirby, who scours local TV listings and news to determine what games air where.

And what about the Cleveland TV market? It's a big patch of "No 4 PM CBS Game Here" gray.

But look over to the southeast of Cleveland on the map.

That's right, Youngstown market CBS affiliate WKBN/27 plans to carry the Patriots and Colts.

As a secondary market to Cleveland, they're allowed to make the competitive programming decision. And besides, Browns/Seahawks will be on their own sister station, WYFX "FOX 17/62". Youngstown goes by sellout/blackout rules being close enough to Cleveland, but the market's stations aren't barred from airing games up against the "home" team.

That'll drive some folks in the Cleveland, Akron and Canton areas to aim their antennas at Youngstown.

And those with digital over-air tuners, a good shot at Youngstown, and a decent enough antenna can easily pick up WKBN's powerful digital signal - and will only need a remote control to flip between the Patriots/Colts game on WKBN-DT 27.1, and the Browns/Seahawks game on WKBN-DT 27.2 - the digital home of the aforementioned "WYFX".

Confused? You won't be, after this episode of "As The NFL Turns"...