Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday And New Stuff

Some actual news has happened this weekend. Or, sometime in the last week, but we just got a Round Tuit(tm) now...

STO INDIANS ROAD GAMES IN HD, CONFIRMED: It's been rumored around the Internet for a while that SportsTime Ohio would "drop the other shoe" as far as HDTV coverage of Cleveland Indians games. But now, we have it confirmed.

WKYC/3 senior director Frank Macek gets the scoop in his "Director's Cut" blog from STO itself:

Regarding STO - yes, all Indians games (home & away) this season will be done in high definition according to Pat Kilkenney, SportsTime Ohio Vice President of Program Acquisition/ Executive Producer. Viewers having been asking - and now you shall receive.

STO had been broadcasting road games in SD, while WKYC - the network's over-air partner for the games - has been doing road games in HD. It looks like an All HD Season for Tribe fans starting in April.

Note that OMW hears (from other sources) that there will still be some SD games in the 2008 Indians spring training schedule...but it'll be all HD starting with Opening Day.

By the way, congratulations to Frank on the first anniversary of "Director's Cut". The blog is very useful to us, helping us keep track of some of the "behind the scenes" workings at the local NBC affiliate.

And his anniversary message may mark the first time anyone's ever called us a "great publication"...

SPEAKING OF THE TRIBE: One of the Indians broadcasters will be "on the mend" for much of spring training, due to a hip injury.

We'd heard about this from one of our regular sources, but it's confirmed by local sports media columnist/TV host Les Levine in the Lake County News-Herald - in an item Les ran last Sunday:

Several Indians players are re-habbing after suffering injuries during the past season. So is a member of their broadcasting staff. Mike Hegan should be ready for the final spring training in Winter Haven, Fla., after suffering a broken hip on the golf course. Like many of us do, Hegan reportedly attempted to move a golf cart while sitting on the passenger side, lost control and crashed into a tree.

Les also notes that iconic Cavaliers radio play-by-play broadcaster Joe Tait is also facing medical issues - with knee replacement surgery scheduled for the team's off-season.

We wish a speedy recovery for Mr. Hegan, and as for Mr. Tait...well, let's just hope no one decides to do surgery on his vocal cords...

NEW STATION, WELL, SORT OF: Actually, it's a new translator in the Akron area that's squeezed its way onto the airwaves, on a frequency that's second-adjacent to a Cleveland powerhouse.

An OMW reader living in the Akron area wondered what new station was stopping his radio scans at 102.5 FM, at first thinking it was some sort of pirate.

No, this thing actually has an FCC license.

It's W273BL/Akron, which has become the latest outlet for Educational Media Foundation satellite-fed network "Air1". "Air1" is the younger-skewing network that's the sister of the ubitquous Christian contemporary network "K-Love", both based near Sacramento, California.

The FCC construction permit for the new translator was recently transferred to EMF from Creative Educational Media, the owner of the religious "Oasis Network" - which is the licensee of WOFN/88.7 Beach City OH near Canton.

W273BL is pumping out 10 watts from an antenna on the WVPX/23-WONE/97.5 tower near Akron's Rolling Acres Mall.

And according to the link above, EMF had roughly just over a week to put 102.5 on the air in Akron, as the construction permit was to expire on January 28th.

We've talked about this sort of thing before - the massive number of unbuilt translator applications sitting around from a few years ago.

W273BL's original life as an application started in 2003, and its currently authorized construction permit was granted a few days after EMF took over the facility last November.

The new station is rather close, electronically, to CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 Cleveland. In its application, EMF's engineers argued - apparently successfully - that the translator wouldn't interfere with WDOK in populated areas - despite being within WDOK's protected 60 dBu contour. It's something about the interference happening only over a small airborne area, not affecting population.

The bigger problem would seem to be for the tiny translator, which can get wiped off the dial in much of greater Akron by WDOK's spillover, especially on radios with poor selectivity.

The W273BL application lists the primary station as KHRI in Hollister CA, and our original source says they heard that ID on the new Akron translator. The signal may be getting there via another of EMF's local translators in the area.

OMW noted earlier that EMF bought WCVJ/90.9 Jefferson, and flipped it to Air1, with the apparent intent on using it to seed commercial band translators in Northeast Ohio.

We're not even sure that rule (about needing a non-comm station nearby to feed commercial band translators) is still in place, or if EMF gets around it by using EMF's W215BS/Hinckley, which is on 90.9 as well, as the "off-air" feed originator.

And that's much more than we expected to ever write about a translator of a nationwide religious music network that basically has those tiny stations at every wide spot on the road...

ANOTHER WVKO ITEM: You can blame us for this one, as we took to the forums of Columbus liberal talker WVKO/1580's website to defend our earlier item about the station using a public Internet streaming audio feed to deliver programming normally sent by satellite.

The move has forced WVKO to replace Jones Radio's Bill Press in morning drive with Air America Radio's "The Young Turks" - or whatever AAR will put on in the time slot if the show, as reported by some, has ended. (We note it like that because the show's own website seems to indicate that they'll be back on Tuesday after Sam Seder subs for them.)

Well, a new show has debuted on WVKO, and not only is this an intended program change, it's local.

"What's What with Mike Cole" started a week ago today in the 5-6 PM weekday time slot, displacing one hour of AAR afternoon drive host Randi Rhodes. From the station's website:

Talk show host Mike Cole is a rising star in Central Ohio radio. Coined, “progressive talk in progress,” he takes a funny, critical and informed look at politics, current events, news and popular culture.

Umm, how can a talk show host whose program just started one week ago be a "rising star"?

As it turns out, Cole is actually returning to the same station he was on before.

We don't know how long the program lasted, but a quick Google search shows numerous references to Cole's program on the former incarnation of WVKO, back in the Stop 26 Riverbend days as a talk/gospel station focusing on the Columbus area African-American community.

We've never heard Mr. Cole, but in our view, it's a good move for the WVKO folks. It forges a link between the station's historic mission and its new one, and could smooth over some of the wounds made when Bernard Radio LLC took the station off the air, before returning it from a new transmitter site.

It is also the first "local" show on the station - as organizers and WVKO general manager Gary Richards promised local programming shortly after 1580 re-launched.

We wouldn't be surprised to see much of that local programming show up as more local sports coverage...


citizenkeith said...

Thanks for your continued coverage of WVKO. I appreciate that you posted over on the WVKO Message Board. It's a lively and interesting discussion. :)

Just a quick correction: the official "first local show" on WVKO actually goes to Alvis Moore’s Gospel Sunday, which started back in December.

I didn't see it mentioned, but WVKO also provides local news and weather every weekday morning from WVKO staffer Michael Alwood, and began carrying local high school sports earlier this month.

John P. said...

That WVKO comment board thread is hilarious in its conspiracy theories.

And now you see the problem that happens when political activists try to operate get guys like RussC.

citizenkeith said...

"And now you see the problem that happens when political activists try to operate get guys like RussC."

Funny comment. Activists can't operate businesses? Or are you saying that activists can't operate radio stations?

Regardless, the only person running WVKO is Gary Richards.

Todd said...

The W273BL 102.5 signal is actually pretty good for a 10-watt translator. I can get it pretty solid throughout my hometown in Wadsworth, including building penetration at my place of employment just off I-76 exit 11, which is at least 6 miles from the tower. In a car, I could carry the 102.5 signal out to the Tallmadge exits on I-76 without much static at all, though through parts of downtown Akron it is a bit fuzzy.

However, I wonder why 102.7 would not have been a better selection for the translator. That would make it a 3rd adjacent to both WDOK 102.1 and WCRF 103.3, plus I think it is far enough away from WCPZ 102.7 in Sandusky to be safe; however I'm certainly no engineer.