Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rover About To Lose A Market?

When he exited CBS Radio alt-rock WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock" in his home market of Cleveland, Shane "Rover" French's "Rover's Morning Glory" show retained two affiliates that were once owned by CBS, in Memphis and Rochester.

The stations continued to broadcast repeats of "RMG" until the Rover Crew set up shop in an leased studio at their new Cleveland home, the Oak Tree compound housing their now-current flagship, Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7, weeks before that station took over as Rover's Cleveland outlet.

Through no fault of its own, "RMG" may be close to losing its Rochester outlet.

Our colleague Scott Fybush reports in Monday's "NorthEast Radio Watch" that the station, former CBS Radio alt-rock outlet WZNE/94.1, is being sold to Oklahoma-based Stephens Media Group. He asks:

Can a modern rocker like WZNE - one with a provocative morning jock, Cleveland's Rover, no less - be a good fit with the rest of Stephens' growing radio empire?

Some background here, first.

This all starts from Entercom's acquisition of CBS Radio's cluster in Rochester. As a result of the fact the cluster buy would put Entercom - with existing stations in the market - three stations over the limit, Entercom had to identify three stations to be sold. WZNE is one of the three.

Entercom has been operating the stations, but would eventually have to either sell them or put them into a trust. Mr. Fybush reports that trust was invoked in documents filed on April 17th, though it's not clear if it'll have to be used now that there is actually a pending buyer.

That buyer, Stephens Media Group, is most known for its hometown operations in the Tulsa, Oklahoma market - and for its "flagship" station, Christian contemporary KXOJ-FM. Stephens also owns the Tulsa-area sports talk simulcasters for Oklahoma City-based statewide sports giant, WWLS "The Sports Animal".

It's apparently not that Stephens intends to convert all of its stations to a Christian contemporary or other religious formats.

At least for now, it's bought and operated a cluster in Watertown NY, and mostly cross-border aiming stations up near the Canadian border in upstate New York, and has made no major changes in the past few months. And there are those existing sports outlets in Oklahoma.

We believe the upstate acquisition, oddly enough, means the company may oversee the Montreal-rimshot top 40 station - WYUL/94.7 Chateaugay NY "Hits FM" - where Clear Channel Cleveland top 40 WAKS/96.5 "Kiss FM" night guy Java Joel still voicetracks an afternoon drive show.

But we echo the sentiments of Mr. Fybush - does a modern rocker with a "hot talk" morning show fit with Stephens?

Well, a new country format installed by the new owners of "RMG"'s old Columbus affiliate bounced the show off the station.

Again, not "Rover's" fault. But like in Columbus, station ownership changes could knock Rochester off the show's affiliate list...at least unless they find another outlet in that city...


david5258 said...

heard rover for the first time today on mms. he was featuring tech tuesday with a "expert geek" from bestbuy. the expert was too much of a geek to make tech changes understandable for us normal people. his female cohost was worse than alison on triv's show. think i'll stick to wills and snyder or quinn and rose for morning drive...

Scott said...

If WZNE changes format (and it remains an "if"), there aren't many places for Rover to go in Rochester. Clear Channel's classic rocker, WFXF "the Fox," will bring market veteran Brother Wease to its airwaves sometime this fall, when his noncompete is up. It wouldn't try to dilute Wease's audience with another male-oriented morning show.

Entercom is unlikely to replace the "Wease's Crew Without Wease" show on its classic rocker, WCMF, and that's about the only other place Rover might work in the market.

So if WZNE goes away, so does Rover in this market.