Some oddities from two recent trips to the Youngstown/Warren radio market, particularly on AM...
WHERE'S REV. MANN?: OMW reported in February that Salem was selling the station now known as WHKZ/1440 Warren - which has mostly been a simulcast of Cleveland religious sister station WHKW/1220 "The Word" - to the Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation out of the Pittsburgh area.
PTDC is run by one Rev. Loran Mann, a former Pittsburgh TV reporter who owns WGBN/1150 New Kensington PA in that market.
Given that most radio sales are done within about three months, given no hiccups, what happened?
FCC online database records show the sale transaction was approved by the FCC back in early May, indeed, about three months after the application was filed.
But on the form we just linked, there's a big blank space next to "Consummation Date", and indeed, Salem is still listed as the licensee of WHKZ.
In our trips to the Mahoning Valley this past week, we heard WHKZ running various infomercials (mostly secular health-related ones) in the afternoons, clearly under the auspices of Salem - right down to the company's usual fill material between the infomercials, and a disclaimer mentioning Salem by name.
Though we didn't listen for long periods of time, it didn't appear that - at least in the time we heard - that WHKZ was making any effort to directly simulcast WHKW in Cleveland. We were able to hear both signals, and they were running different programming...even the infomercials weren't the same. But again, it was a short period of listening.
We have no idea why the sale to Rev. Mann's organization has yet to be completed, nearly five months after it was approved by the FCC. Perhaps some of our Pittsburgh-area sources can work this from the other end.
Whenever Rev. Mann does finally get control of WHKZ, we'd expect some sort of gospel format. His Pittsburgh outlet does some locally programmed gospel on weekday mornings, and rounds out the schedule with the satellite-delivered "Rejoice - Musical Soul Food", a 24/7 format once owned by ABC Radio Networks but now on its own.
Regular OMW readers know that unless some sort of new deal is reached, Rev. Mann won't have that latter option in the Mahoning Valley. "Rejoice" airs on Beacon Media gospel WRTK/1540 Niles...
AND NEXT ON THE VALLEY AM DIAL: ...literally next, that is, would be another Beacon Media station - sports WLOA/1470 Farrell PA - which has apparently been off the air for a few days.
We don't know when the Sporting News Radio affiliate stopped broadcasting, but we'll guess that the Remnants of Ike were responsible a week ago Sunday.
This past Sunday, the station sounded like it wasn't transmitting at all. Earlier in the week, 1470 was putting out a carrier strong enough to stop the OMW Mobile radio's scan near the Southern Park Mall, but was transmitting enough loud, unlistenable noise (and no programming) that it might as well have been off the air.
The rest of the stations in the Glunt World Empire - Beacon classic hits WANR/1570 Warren, gospel WRTK/1540 Niles, Christian rock WEXC/107.1 "Freq 107" Greenville PA and classic country WGRP/940 in that same PA city, were all up and running Sunday.
And we haven't yet figured out where all those stations are physically located, studio facilities-wise.
We know for sure that WANR is run out of the company's Courthouse Square studios. We're told that WEXC and WGRP are still physically operating out of their McCracken Road studio in Greenville.
And we thought that WRTK and WLOA are running their automated formats from their transmitter sites (near Niles, and near the Ohio/PA border in Hubbard OH, respectively).
It only became a question for us because WLOA did actually have transmitter power earlier in the week, but it sounded to us like it was picking up major STL interference...which would tend to rule out a computer pumping out Sporting News Radio in Hubbard.
Not to mention the fact that someone has to show up to run the Pittsburgh Pirates games on both WLOA and WGRP during the baseball season...though a good guess would be that those are run out of McCracken Road as well...
MISSING TRIBE: As the Cleveland Indians wind down their 2008 non-playoff season, they're apparently the odd man out on the radio in the Mahoning Valley.
As far as we know, Sunday's 10-5 Indians win over the Detroit Tigers was not carried by Clear Channel talk WKBN/570 Youngstown, which picked up the Cleveland Browns network pre-game show roughly in the middle of when the Tribe game would have aired.
It's not a huge deal, really...the Indians - despite matching the hapless Browns in score on Sunday - are out of the playoff hunt...and easily found on most Valley radios via the team's 50,000 watt Cleveland flagship, WTAM/1100.
But we still need a scorecard to find where the various Cleveland and Pittsburgh pro teams land on the Mahoning Valley dial...or elsewhere, for that matter, outside those cities.
As near as we can figure, WKBN and sister rock WNCD/93.3 simulcast the Browns, particularly after the Indians are over.
We found the Steelers Radio Network over on standards WNIO/1390, though we don't know if that's a regular placement for them. We believe WNIO is also the Cavaliers Radio Network affiliate in the market again in 2008.
In other sports, we found NASCAR on Clear Channel classic hits WBBG/106.1 Niles, and Westwood One NFL broadcasts on...the aforementioned Beacon Media classic hits WANR/1570 Warren, which as far as we know is a new clearance for them.
(And in other sports play-by-play notes, we didn't hear the game Saturday, but we also heard WANR running promos earlier in the week for the Notre Dame ISP Sports Network.)
Over in Akron, it appears Rubber City Radio has officially anointed rock WONE/97.5 as the Akron Radio Home of the Browns. We don't know if WAKR/1590 will come along for the ride once the Indians are done...but assume so...unless there's a Cavaliers conflict or two in there...