Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cluttered Wednesday

Like the various tree limbs, leaves and such still left behind in Ohio after the "remnants" of Hurricane Ike hit us on Sunday, this one's a bit cluttered, too. More on that storm and its effects in a bit...

A brief foray out of our electronic media world, to the print media world.

We stumbled upon this item literally by accident, but it appears the latest round of cuts at the Akron Beacon Journal has put the job of sports columnist Patrick McManamon in the crosshairs - again.

On his own "Beside the Point" blog, McManamon breaks the news...

Finally … a personal note … the Beacon-Journal has again decided to lay off employees. This time, five reporters are on the list, me being one of them. The outrage is that this calls into question the long-term future of this brog. Layoffs take effect in 60 days. While I certainly hope things change in that time, I can only promise this clog will be around until Nov. 15. Questions may be directed toward your local Sta-Puf Marshmallow Man.

OMW reported in August 2006 that McManamon - then the paper's Cleveland Browns beat writer - was on the "Beacon Bloodbath" layoff list, the first 40 job cuts instituted by new owner Black Press.

McManamon managed to hang in there the first time, and a year later, he took the sports columnist job vacated by Terry Pluto's move to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

It'd be another huge loss if McManamon isn't able to hang in there after November 15th. The Beacon made a smart move by putting him into Pluto's old job - particularly considering that the Plain Dealer has made efforts to target the Akron market with Pluto now on staff in Cleveland, right down to billboards featuring their new arrival on I-77 on Akron's west side.

Not to mention the fact that we're right in the middle of the Cleveland Browns' 2008 season, and though he's not the team's beat writer, McManamon brings plenty of Browns insight along for the ride.

Again, McManamon has survived the Job Grim Reaper before at the Beacon Journal - as did OMW reader and former movie columnist George M. Thomas, by moving to sports - so, we'll see what happens between now and November 15th.

For now, we'll use our standard line about the Black Press-decimated Beacon Journal... we hope they have their AP wire bill current. And maybe it would be easier to list who's LEFT at 44 E. Exchange Street, instead of listing those no longer there...

NO POWER TO THE PEOPLE: Here at the OMW World Headquarters, we did lose power for about seven hours on Sunday night, but we've had juice ever since. At this writing, a few hundred thousand or so fellow Northeast Ohioans weren't so lucky.

One of those FirstEnergy customers affected Sunday night was - wait, you'll be able to guess this one! - MediaCom talk WNIR/100.1, "The Talk of Akron".

That's no surprise, presumably, since everyone knows WNIR has no backup power generator of any sort, and the station has gone off the air in power outages quite frequently.

But this time, it was different...power appeared to be in working order at the station's transmitter site, off Ohio 43 at the I-76 interchange in Brimfield. The WNIR signal was up and running throughout Sunday night. wasn't being fed with any programming, which leads us to believe that the station's studio complex, the Broadcast Trailer Park between Kent and Ravenna on Ohio 59, was without power.

We don't know what time that programming was restored, but we heard Howie Chizek doing his show as usual, early Monday afternoon.

So basically, the "Talk of Akron" was without words, while its transmitter facility was still running. Not only does WNIR not appear to have any generator power at either place, it apparently also doesn't have any way to broadcast from the transmitter site.

We admit that'd be difficult, since the small building housing equipment there likely doesn't have enough ROOM to hold the station's usual contingent of live and local air talent. And getting the station's phone lines into a temporary setup out there might be a stretch to ask.

We keep harping on this, and expect more from WNIR, since it is a successful station that frequently tops local ratings. The most recent Akron 12-plus numbers, just released, once again show WNIR at the top position.

And we once again laud "The Talk of Akron" for staying live-and-local from early morning to late at night. That certainly costs the station at least some money, though we don't get the idea that anyone there makes a ton of money individually (well, maybe that certain midday host makes a bit).

But unless they're selling their commercial spots at $5 a piece or something, they should have made enough money over the years to be able to take care of rudimentary items like backup generation, or broadcast quality feeds for remotes, get the picture.

If WNIR were like its sister AM station, fully automated lightbulb power daytimer FOX Sports Radio affiliate WJMP/1520 Kent/Akron/London/Paris/Tokyo, no one would care. WJMP can and has gone off the air for days with very little notice.

But as a well-listened-to source of locally originated programming, it's different for WNIR...

NEW STATION?: A small note in Doug Smith's American Bandscan blog caught our attention.

The long-time radio hobbyist - and columnist for "Monitoring Times" magazine - notes that two applications to move New Mexico stations clear across the country have been denied by the FCC.

And one of those moves would have put a station right here in the middle of OMW land, with the proposal to send KVLP/91.7 Tucumcari NM to...the Northeast Ohio hamlet of Brewster in Stark County, just a stone's throw from Massillon.

The proposal by Educational Media Foundation - the California-based parent of the "K-Love" and "Air1" Christian music networks - would have put the New Mexico station on the dial at 90.1 FM in Northeast Ohio, squeezing next to stations like ideaStream NPR affiliate WCPN/90.3 Cleveland.

The proposed 4.8KW signal wouldn't have gotten EMF's new station much past Canton, we presume. The proposed transmitter site would have been right on the Stark/Tuscarawas County border near East Sparta.

Doug's item suggests that Stark County will apparently get another non-comm station:

In KVLP's case, the station didn't claim it would provide a first or second non-commercial service to at least 10% of the people in their proposed service area. (or that that 10% would amount to fewer than 2,000 people) The competing applicant did claim to provide first or second service, and thus won the preference.

That "competing applicant" would appear to be a proposal for a new 90.1 outlet licensed to nearby Bolivar, submitted by local religious TV mainstays Denny and Marge Hazen Ministries ("Plus or Minus 60").

Another 90.1 outlet is proposed for Ashtabula County's Jefferson as a repeater for Youngstown State University outlet WYSU/88.5, but we're not sure if that's far enough away to not cause a problem for the Bolivar application...which specifies, apparently, the same tower site as the now-bounced EMF Brewster application.

The Hazen-operated 90.1 Bolivar would be a 2KW Class A outlet...

CONGRATS: a former Northern Ohio radio personality who just got a promotion in Columbus.

Steve Kelly, who moved to afternoon drive at Saga AC WSNY/94.7 "Sunny 95" in Ohio's capital city, has been named assistant program director of the station.

Kelly's name appeared frequently here in the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) in 2006, when we chronicled the move of then-WJER-FM/101.7 from Dover/New Philadelphia to Canton, where it's today's Clear Channel AC WHOF/101.7 North Canton.

We noted his departure for WSNY in this June 2006 item.

Of course, WJER continues to exist today as an AM-only outlet at 1450, now once again owned by long-time owner Gary Petricola...and we haven't mentioned it since last November, only in comparison with Clear Channel's move of Marion's WMRN-FM to the Columbus market as today's WRXS/106.7 Dublin "Radio 106.7".

And to wrap up that line of thought about news nearly a year old, Clear Channel did indeed send the WMRN-FM calls and "Buckeye Country" format back to Marion, on the former WDIF/94.3...

OFF TOPIC, ALMOST: But back to Northeast Ohio's power situation, and one of our earlier items.

Our mention of our intent to devour a footlong chili cheese hot dog from the area's brand new Sonic Drive-In has produced a response we haven't seen since we chronicled the new news set for WJW "FOX 8" some time ago.

Apparently, not only are OMW readers interested in local radio and television - they're devout Sonic fans, at least those who've encountered the Oklahoma-based chain in other areas.

So, given that interest, and given that we haven't seen much on the opening in the area news media - who are busy with such trivial things as hundreds of thousands of people without power due to the remnants of a hurricane, or presidential and vice presidential candidate visits - we'll fill the gap.

The Sonic location in Streetsboro did indeed open as scheduled on Monday, despite the fact that very large parts of that Portage County city had no electricity the Day After Ike. By our visual survey driving down Ohio 14 from Ohio 43, the Sonic location, and the nearby Chipotle and Wal-Mart Supercenter, were the only businesses that had power.

In case you're looking for it, that's where it front of that new Wal-Mart Supercenter, across from the Sheetz gas station, less than an eighth of a mile from the Ohio Turnpike interchange with I-480 and Ohio 14. Be prepared to wait about 15 minutes in line, at least this week, as a "staging area" is set up in the nearby Wal-Mart parking lot.

The Record Publishing "Gateway News" weekly, which covers Streetsboro, did have an item about the opening in this week's edition.

Considering that chili cheese hot dogs are known for not only being the favorite food of "Corner Gas"' main character Brent Leroy (CTV, seen in the U.S. on WGN America, most nights at midnight ET - at least through early November until radio's "Bob and Tom" start their new TV show), but of many radio and TV personalities in Ohio and beyond...'re welcome.


Ohio Media Watch said...

NOTE: Due to a Blogger editing glitch, we had to delete and repost this item, which did away with the comments. We're reposting them below, manually.

--The Management


74WIXYgrad said...

Ok so if I go to Streetsboro, the Sonic is in an out lot in front of the Evil Big Box Store(tm). I will keep that in mind if I'm in the area.

Now to the ABJ(Almost Being Journalism). Last week they scaled the paper down, with the reader in mind, of course. Then they raised the newsstand price to seventy five cents, with the reader's pocketbook in mind.

Now they are cutting staff? Hmmm.

The once mighty Beacon Journal, once the anchor of the Knight Ridder chain may go the way of the Cleveland Press, once the anchor of Scripps Howard.
6:12 PM

Ed Esposito said...

Sonic rules beyond belief...especially the chili cheese mac. It was a highlight for Ray Horner and I covering spring training in Winter Haven with a Sonic less than a quarter mile up the road.

6:13 PM

YEKIMI said...

Sonic's milkshakes rule!
10:20 PM

Chuck Matthews Blog said...

Sonic just opened here in Perrysburg (Toledo) off RT 20. It's located in front of the Meijer store here.

I got to know Sonic when living in Raleigh NC. A client there always had Sonic "cater" his remotes.

That's something Cleveland needs is Meijer. Great stores!
11:29 PM

spinbad007 said...

Sorry, but you guys aren't true Akronites if you think SONIC has better milkshakes than SWENSONS!! Unbelievable.
12:07 AM

derek said...

Really dumb question, but what in the world does an FM station in New Mexico have to do with an FM station in Ohio??

Why would a station in NM have to "move" from NM to OH? Building a new station in OH surely does not depend on taking a station in NM off the air.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Good question, Derek.

We can only surmise that it's basically easier to move an already licensed station - assuming all the other ducks are in a row - than to create an allocation from scratch.

It's even easier now that the FCC no longer does separate NPRMs (proposed rulemaking) for FM allotments these days.

All an owner has to do now is attach all the supporting information to a new CP for the station.

The moved station still has to make the case for the allotment - i.e. that Brewster is an independent community that has its own government, media sources, etc. and is not "dependent" on Massillon or Canton - and EMF does so in its application.

But it's now a one-step process...the only thing in the way is having to prove the COL's worthiness, which you have to do anyway for a new allocation.

We could be wrong on some of this - our good friend Scott Fybush at NorthEast Radio Watch is welcome to chime in if he's reading - but that's the gist of it.

-The Management

Scott said...

Wha? Who? Me?

Yes, I saw the giant OMW Bat-symbol (though it looked more like a giant Bob Golic) in the sky, and here's the best answer I can offer:

In an effort to keep the last noncommercial FM window somewhat equitable, the FCC imposed a limit of ten applications per party.

I think - but am not 100% certain - that the "New Mexico-to-Ohio" applications, of which there were several, were an attempt to get around that ten-application limit, in the hope that the FCC would treat an application by an existing station to move differently from an application for a new station.

It appears that strategy may not have been as successful as some of the parties had hoped.

And, OMW, next time you come up this way, why not bring some Sonic in addition to the stop at Ted's?

andrew727 said...


The "Fast Food" joint made famous by Paris "ROOM SERVICE" Hilton:-)

Andrew, MALL727net