Thursday, October 30, 2008

Our Return

OMW will return at "full strength" on Monday, November 3, 2008.

See you then!

--The Management

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mid-October Closeout

This will likely be the final item for the week, and could be our final update for the rest of the month.

We will try to post major, breaking format changes, major personality or anchor changes, broadcast station sales, and, well, returning radio stations.

But in case we don't get a Round Tuit(tm), this might be up for some time...and here's a grab bag of items to close out our agenda for a while...

NO MORE RADIO BILL: It was posted as a rumor some time back, but it seems to be turning into reality.

The New York Daily News, the Washington Post and others passed along word this week that FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly - after signing a new four-year deal with the cable outlet for a reported $10 million a year - is likely to end his Westwood One syndicated radio talk show next year.

Quoting the Post's Howard Kurtz:

O'Reilly said he will probably give up his syndicated radio show, which has been far less successful than his television program. "My duties at Fox are expanding," he said, adding: "I just can't work 60 hours a week."

Though he has decent clearances for the two-hour daily show in New York City (Buckley talk WOR/710) and Los Angeles (Citadel talk KABC/790), O'Reilly's "Radio Factor" never really caught on nationwide as a competitor to Premiere talk titan Rush Limbaugh.

Here in Northeast Ohio, you can find Rush at a bunch of places on the AM dial - Clear Channel talkers WTAM/1100 Cleveland, WHLO/640 Akron and WKBN/570 Youngstown are his primary affiliates here.

At one time, Limbaugh was also carried on WFUN/970 Ashtabula and WKVX/960 Wooster. Former Clear Channel outlet WFUN dropped Rush and the talk format when it moved to ESPN Radio under new owner Media One Group, and the Dix Communications-owned WKVX moved to its regular format from 12-3 PM, oldies via Dial Global's satellite feed.


His most prominent Northeast Ohio affiliate is Spirit Media talk WELW/1330 Willoughby, which carries "The Radio Factor" in its live 12-2 PM time slot weekdays.

A quick check of his Ohio affiliate list shows claim of a clearance on Melodynamic talk/religion WCER/900 Canton from 9-11 PM.

But, we can't find O'Reilly on the station's own website schedule, which lists United Stations host Lou Dobbs (of CNN fame) in that late evening slot. At that time of night, the 75 watt WCER signal struggles to reach past Belden Village Mall, anyway. By the time you get to Akron/Canton Airport, CHML/900 Hamilton ON Canada makes mincemeat of what's left of the WCER nighttime signal.

(And since former WCER operations manager and OMW reader John Amrhein moved up I-77 to Freedom Avenue as news director of WHLO/640, we don't know who replaced him in the shadow of the WRQK/WHOF tower at 22nd and Whipple.)

O'Reilly's list also notes clearances on Cumulus talk WPIC/790 Sharon PA, in the Youngstown market, as well as Columbus (Clear Channel's second talker, WYTS/1230) and Toledo (Matrix talk WNWT/1520, listed under former calls WDMN).

And when we first wrote this, we forgot a weekend O'Reilly clearance on Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 in the Akron market - late Saturday and Sunday evenings. That's not surprising, considering WNIR is much better known for its weekday local programming than for whatever it delays into late nights and weekend evenings. We're not alone in our oversight - the "Radio Factor" list also forgot to add WNIR.

But compared to Rush Limbaugh, O'Reilly's "Radio Factor" is almost in hiding in Ohio...a "Non Factor", as it were.

The show's syndicator, Westwood One, isn't putting an end date on the radio show just yet, and it seems likely they'll still syndicate a two-minute radio version of his TV "Talking Points Memo".

And whenever Bill does pull the plug on the long-form show, we're guessing Westwood One will offer stations another show in a similar time slot - The Dennis Miller Show, which airs locally, for now, only on NextMedia talk WHBC/1480 Canton.

Miller, when we weren't looking, also landed in Columbus from 1-4 PM on North American Broadcasting FM talker WTDA/103.9...a direct competitor to O'Reilly's current Columbus affiliate, WYTS...

MATT, ER, JAKE, ER, MATT: Thanks to the folks at AllAccess, a shoutout to an OMW reader and former Northeast Ohio radio guy.

Matt Haze slipped out from under our radar, and landed in Los Angeles, where the trade site says he's launching a new venture:

MATT HAZE of THE MATT HAZE ENTERTAINMENT GROUP has turned his hobby of phoners into a career. His business offers services with radio, television, voiceover and live entertainment.

His primary service, judging from his new website, is selling phoners to help radio personalities juice up the rest of their (non-professional, listener) $20 a pop, complete with the ability to conveniently pay online.

Matt was most recently on Northeast Ohio airwaves under the air name Jake Reynolds, as a personality for Clear Channel hot AC WKDD/98.1 in the Akron market, along with creative services work for WKDD, and sister stations WHLO/640 and WARF/1350.

He also lists producing and on-air work at CBS Radio hot AC WQAL/104.1 "Q104", and is apparently involved in Los Angeles with internet hip hop/R&B show "The What's Hot Radio Show with Mr. R".

Best of luck on your new venture, Matt, and here's hoping the OMW Karma pays dividends for you!

CUTS, CUTS: We're sick of it. We're sick of it.

But with the down economy (and then some), broadcast groups across the country are continuing with their annual wave of layoffs...a wave which started much earlier this year, and doesn't seem like it'll end any time soon.

Any search on the word "layoffs" here on OMW will bring you far too many results...ditto with words like "cutbacks", "let go", "released" and the like.

The economic crisis, combined with the continued reduction in advertising revenue for just about all forms of media, means the word "hired" may be a distant memory at most companies for a long time.

We don't have any immediate word of recent job cuts at local media outlets, though we didn't note a while back about two graphic artists being shown the door at Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 Cleveland - losing their jobs as victims of the corporate mandate to centralize graphics that recently showed up on "Channel 3 News".

WKYC senior director and "Director's Cut" blogger Frank Macek has put up an item saying goodbye to graphic artists Joe Wood and Lance Deevers.

(We're still waiting, by the way, for the "Director's Cut" item on the upcoming departure of "Channel 3 News" evening co-anchor Tim White at the end of his contract...which the station appears to have handled on the news side of things.)

Anyway, back to the "heads up" warning...

AllAccess says that Cumulus seems to be dropping folks here and there from some of their smaller market stations. There's no indication, right now, that the moves have spread to Cumulus clusters in Ohio...for now, the reported damage is in places like Rockford IL and the Quad Cities area not far from there.

A number of other radio companies' stock prices have dropped to the point where you can buy a share of their stock for a dollar, and still get change back.

Some of that, of course, is fueled by the lagging stock market, where a Dow Jones Industrial Average drop of 500 points in one day barely makes you blink anymore.

But some of it is the, in general, poor health of the media industry.

And when media companies aren't healthy, they start looking about how to reduce costs.

The smart operators don't go in with a hatchet. While they're certainly not immune to financial pressures of today's Incredibly Awful Economy, the smart ones look to the future, and perhaps an opportunity to gain ground on other operators that cut staff to the bone, and then some.

Here's hoping, for all of those reading, that there are smart operators around these parts. If not, we may have a handful or less of people to cover in the coming years...

Board Won't Accept WSTB GMs Resignation

A brief update from last night's Streetsboro City School board meeting: the board rejected long-time WSTB/88.9 general manager Bob Long's resignation request, over the various issues that have been chronicled extensively here and elsewhere.

We don't really have time to go into much detail, but the website of Streetsboro's Gateway News newspaper has more here.

The WSTB website, being maintained by station staff and students, weighs in briefly as well. Quoting:

The off-air situation may have taken a swing in the right direction last evening.

The site promises a larger update for us, real life gets in the way of spending much time on this...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WSTB Update - 10/22

As we mentioned in an earlier item, you might not see as much of us here through the end of the month, as Life Intervenes.

We did want to put up the latest about Streetsboro schools-owned WSTB/88.9, the beleaguered Portage County station that's been off the air after certain photos were found on station computers a week ago Monday.

The story is not going away any time soon.

Those associated with the station are holding an informal meeting/gathering tonight at the Streetsboro location of CiCi's Pizza. Details, including an offer for free drinks (umm, of the soft drink variety, of course, something that needs to be mentioned considering this situation), are up on the WSTB website, as well as at the Sunday Oldies Jukebox site.

Also up there is a plea to WSTB supporters to attend a school board meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at Defer Intermediate School. The WSTB group is urging a peaceful show of support, and the wearing of station related items if possible.

Apparently, among the "personnel matters" set to be discussed at the meeting will be the board's acceptance of the now-officially-submitted resignation of long-time station manager Bob Long - who will remain as a member of the teaching staff even with a resignation of his station manager post.

Those updating the WSTB site have included this in bold print:

"A WSTB - 88.9FM without BOB LONG is NOT acceptable, and we ask that you demand the same."

Meanwhile, at least a couple of the most recent newspaper updates include some indication by school administrators that they plan to return WSTB to the airwaves, though no target date has been announced.

A Cleveland Plain Dealer item today quotes superintendent Linda Keller, who tells the PD the controversial photos are "no longer being investigated":

Keller said the radio channel will be back on the air after the school puts the station's computer system back together and integrates it into the school's computer system.

"We're proud of our radio station, which has been on the air for more than 30 years," she said.

And from the latest Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier article:

"We are moving ahead to get the station up and running," Keller said in her statement Tuesday. "Along with the high school principal, this morning I met with our students who are connected with the radio station. I am very impressed with their commitment to the station, their studies and to Streetsboro High School. These are exceptional students."

One person who isn't meeting with school officials - since he's apparently still banned from the building - is WSTB information technology director Dan Kuznicki.

The 24 year-old Kuznicki is pictured in the controversial photos that involve apparent drinking at an out-of-town New Year's Eve party in the presence of an 18 year-old former student, a student Kuznicki and others associated with the station say was not drinking - and couldn't, because he was taking medications after an accident - and say had his parents' permission to be there.

Though Ms. Keller is indeed now saying the station will return soon, it's an open question when, and in what form.

The quickest way to do so would be to return both Mr. Long and Mr. Kuznicki to their former posts. That obviously is not happening, given Long's resignation and the fact Kuznicki is banned from the facilities, at least for now. Both men have the "institutional knowledge" that would be needed to return the station to its prior state, even with potential obstacles regarding the computer setup.

It would seem possible that the station could resume limited hours using CDs instead of computer automation, but as of yet, there is no publicized specific plan to do so. (One assumes that the district would have to name an interim general manager first, assuming Long's resignation is accepted Thursday.)

There's also no word if the adult volunteers of "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" would be quickly welcomed back into the building.

And the clock continues to tick, as at least in the FCC's online database, we can't find any required notification to the FCC that the station is silent.

Much could happen between now and Friday, or things may not happen. We'll try to get word of any major developments up here, and if not, we're sure the various sites and news sources we link here will be updated...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

First HD Radio Talk Simulcast

As we suspected would happen one day, Northeast Ohio's first HD Radio simulcast of an AM talk station is now up.

Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron can now be heard on the HD2 channel of sister* rock WRQK/106.9 Canton.

The move was made possible by the HD Radio Alliance's recent decision to allow commercial radio formats on HD2 side channels. The group, which counts Clear Channel as a member, had previously agreed not to run commercial feeds on those side channels.

The policy change by the group is one reason stations are able to create those new FM translator-based feeds of HD2 subchannels, like Ithaca NY CHR outlet "Hits 103.3" or Harrisburg PA urban AC "The Touch 95.3".

Both translators at those frequencies are simulcasting the FM HD2 feed of full-power commercial stations in the market. (The Harrisburg station started life as one of those temporarily-authorized FM translator refeeds of the market's AM 1400, the original home of the urban AC format, but owner Cumulus flipped that station to sports.)

The Akron/Canton markets are not compact enough - even separately - for an FM translator to have much impact, in case an operator here tried to do the same.

WHLO's simulcast on WRQK HD2 is not the first such in Ohio. We're reminded that Clear Channel sister talker WTVN/610 is also heard on an HD Radio side channel of AC WLZT/93.3.

* - We reported earlier that technically, WRQK is still owned by Cumulus, with the big two-state swap announced between the two companies not yet having been completed. But Clear Channel has been operating WRQK in an LMA since 2007...

Monday, October 20, 2008

WSTB Coming Back?

UPDATE 10/21/08 2:26 PM: An update, and much more, from those on the WSTB side of this has been published on the WSTB website. There's also more in this editorial on the "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" site...including copies of two of the pictures in question.

So far, there's no published word from school officials that the station is nearing any return soon, in the wake of changes to the situation today detailed in our update immediately below.

As we're going to have to take more time away from the Mighty Blog here in the next couple of weeks, feel free to check the links we've provided. We'll weigh in if there's any significant news regarding the station's return, or any other disposition of the situation...

UPDATE 10/21/08 9:58 AM: The WSTB roller coaster ride continues.

OMW hears that long-time WSTB general manager Bob Long's resignation is back on the table again. We've obtained a copy of a statement he's released, which is reprinted here:


On Monday, October 20, 2008 I submitted my resignation as Station Manager of WSTB-FM.
While progress toward resolving prior issues was occurring at one level, on Monday morning the radio station entrance door lock was changed without my knowledge and without explanation. It is my assumption that this was done to limit staff access outside of the school day in compliance with Jarod’s Law. While it is the school district’s decision on interpretation of Jarod’s Law, it is not possible for me to operate the radio station with such restrictions of access.

I urge the district to find another Station Manager as soon as possible so that WSTB can return to the air quickly.

October 21, 2008

Our original item, where it seemed progress was being made towards returning WSTB to the airwaves as soon as late this week, is below...


Off-air Streetsboro schools radio station WSTB/88.9 may be returning as soon as "late this week".

That's the word in a brief item posted today to the web site of the "Gateway News", a weekly Record Publishing newspaper which serves the Portage County city. Quoting:

(WSTB general manager Bob) Long said he was prepared to resign Monday morning, but he had some conversations Sunday night and he feels "pretty confident that we're coming to some consensus." He did not say who the conversations were with.

The slightly more positive tone is also being sounded by those posting messages to WSTB's regular website...where those writing said they had planned to make other pictures available to those asking to see all the pictures that were considered in the case, but, quoting:

Copies of ALL of the questioned photos exist, and although we had a plan to release them today we feel that with the potential for progress this week the release is unneccesary.

An article in weekend editions of the "Gateway News" sister paper, the Kent-Ravenna Record Courier, cites some items that may still need to be squared away before WSTB returns to the air, quoting school superintendent Linda Keller:

"The station has been operating (a separate computer network) under a separate server from the school district and that has raised some questions."

And further from the article:

Keller said the district is working to ensure the computers meet "specific network connectivity requirements" of the state's E-Tech program.

(This) week, Keller said the station's computers will be connected to the district via fiber optic lines, providing enhanced security and accountability.

Meanwhile, we do have a button set on the OMW Mobile's Newly Repaired Car Radio for 88.9, and we'll keep listening as the week progresses...

The FM News/Talk Watch And CBS

No, not in the Cleveland market, but more on CBS Radio and Cleveland in a bit.

We have a regular feature here we haven't brought up in a while - the FM Talk Watch.

We should call it the "FM News/Talk Watch", as we've never really used it to track the so-called "hot talk" stations that have dwindled to a very few these days. We're talking about the move of traditional AM news/talk/sports formats to the FM either simulcasts or moves.

And CBS Radio has just uncorked a big one out in California.

AllAccess reports that classic hits KFRC/106.9 San Francisco is about to be an FM simulcast of CBS Radio's venerable all-news outlet, KCBS/740.

The move set for next Monday bumps off the music format reestablished by the company - the reinvention of the long-time oldies outlet at 99.7 FM (and 610 AM) after CBS killed off the "Free FM" talk format on the new 106.9 frequency.

(To tie it altogether, a few years ago CBS swapped 610 to religious operator Family Radio - which owns WCUE/1150 Cuyahoga Falls in the Akron market - and paid a boatload of cash to take over Family Radio's long-time full market FM home at 106.9. The Family Radio satellite feed you hear on WCUE is now based at 610 AM in San Francisco, though nominally so for FCC purposes from a nearby FM in Sacramento.)

It's a drumbeat we've hit upon here, frequently. Eventually, big AM news/talk/sports stations are going to have to find some home on FM, be it a simulcast, a full-blown move, or even an HD2 or HD3 simulcast.

The latter is a pittance right now, and who knows where it goes in the future, but we wouldn't be surprised to see Clear Channel land its big AM talkers on an FM HD2/3 channel at some point - CBS has already done so in most of its large markets.

Anyway, as silly as it seems to look at Cleveland market AM powerhouse/blowtorch WTAM/1100 and wonder when it's going to add an FM long can AM hold in there, when younger listeners barely can find the *FM* dial, let alone AM? That'll become a big problem when those listeners start populating the older news/talk-friendly demos.

There's also the other problem - right now, Clear Channel really doesn't have a horribly failing FM station upon which to plant something like a WTAM simulcast, so it doesn't happen.

For now, most news/talkers are addressing those demo headaches by tripping all-over themselves to grow their Internet presence - from streaming audio to podcasts to extensive news and information sites. Pretty much all news/talkers these days even frequently use their web site branding on the air.

(One of these days, Akron market talker WNIR/100.1 will catch up with the late 20th Century, and unveil their rumored new website. We may actually fall over dead waiting in front of the keyboard before that becomes reality. Of course, in the "FM News/Talk Watch", "The Talk of Akron" has everyone beat by nearly 35 years if you count the 1974 debut of midday host Howie Chizek on 100.1.)

We're not sure if CBS in San Francisco sees the "future is now" with the move to simulcast its all-news station on FM, or if the classic hits format just wasn't catching on, and they had no other options.

Oh, speaking of Cleveland and CBS - yes, we did see DCRTV's item quoting sources talking about a stall in the sale of the company's mid-market clusters, believed to include markets like Baltimore and Cleveland.

Quoting Dave Hughes' site:

Slumping Market Stalls CBS Radio Sale - 10/13 - Reliable industry sources tell DCRTV that the sale of those CBS radio stations in Baltimore and other mid-sized and small markets won't happen. At least until maybe late 2009 - at the earliest. Because of the current stock crisis, and the severe tightening of the credit market, radio companies that have been and are still solid - a la Bonneville, Emmis, Entercom, and Greater Media - can't secure the backing of big lending institutions for a purchase. That's not to say there won't be some more cuts at CBS Baltimore, but folks still working at WHFS, WWMX, WLIF, WQSR, and WJFK-AM will still be working for CBS for a good while longer, we hear.....

While we have no information beyond Dave's item, it would certainly make the massive economic crisis is likely to affect EVERYTHING business-related, certainly the ability to raise large amounts of banking capital to buy expensive radio stations.

Unless they have raised large warchests, like FOX owner NewsCorp's Rupert Murdoch says his firm has, even the most stable companies may have to wait out the credit crunch.

(And no, we haven't heard anything about FOX/NewsCorp buying radio stations, though they do have a pretty extensive radio/news network operation these days...)

About Keeping That Wire Current

It's a long-running (gallows humor) joke around here when we talk about the continuing job cuts at the Akron Beacon Journal, one of thousands of newspapers nationwide getting squeezed between the current financial crisis and the diminishing number of readers: "We hope they keep their Associated Press wire bill current."

As it turns out, a small, but growing number of newspapers are deciding to send the venerable AP wire packing.

The most recent to give the wire service the required two-year notice to leave the wire cooperative is right here in Ohio - the locally-owned Columbus Dispatch.

The New York Times reports
that the AP membership costs the Dispatch around $800,000 a year. For the Dispatch, it's not just the wire's cost - which the mighty Tribune chain cited when it said last week it would drop AP at its big city newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

The Dispatch and other papers aren't happy with AP on two fronts - saying, quoting the New York Times article:

(The newspapers are saying the AP) charges more than they can afford, delivers too little of what they need and — particularly galling to them — is sometimes acting as their competitor on the Internet.

“They seem to have forgotten that they are there to serve us,” said Benjamin J. Marrison, editor of The Dispatch.

Significantly for this report, the New York Times article confirms what we'd already guessed - eight Ohio newspapers are sending each other news stories, bypassing AP to get local news to each other around the state.

OMW has previously noted that all three newspapers in Northeast Ohio's largest cities - the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Akron Beacon Journal and Youngstown Vindicator -have published bylined stories from each others' papers in recent months. We're pretty sure the Dispatch is in that cooperative as well.

The Dispatch's Benjamin Marrison tells the Times that the Columbus paper, like others, has had to redeploy local resources to cover breaking news items traditionally made available via the AP wire (presumably regionally) - and then watches those items being rewritten and sent out by AP.

If they do indeed leave the Associated Press, the papers will probably turn to other wire services for national stories, like Reuters, or use wires provided by other newspaper groups. We're pretty sure the Beacon Journal, for example, is still signed up for the Knight-Ridder/Tribune wire, long after it stopped being owned by Knight-Ridder itself.

Of course, if those local papers continue to depend on each others' local newsrooms for news stories to share, let's hope there are enough reporters to cover the actual news.

No matter what, you'll still see Associated Press stories in the Dispatch, and on the paper's web site, for the next two years...since as noted, the wire service requires newspapers give a two-year notice to sever connections. And AP holds out the hope that the newspapers may just be making these notices as a negotiating tool, to lower the cost of the service...

I-70 Shuffling

A whole bunch of radio stations are moving along the Interstate 70 corridor in Ohio, and some are changing as a result. We'll start from the east, and move west.

We already knew that Zanesville's WHIZ-FM/102.5 (hot AC "Z102") was destined to move west, with a new license city of Baltimore (Ohio, not Maryland), with a signal designed to turn it into a Columbus market station.

We, and others, speculated that community-minded WHIZ would eventually acquire another Zanesville-based FM station - likely Christian Voice of Central Ohio's CCM WCVZ/92.7 South Zanesville "The River" - to replace 102.5.

Speculation turned to reality on Friday, as WHIZ and CVCO announced just such a deal. Quoting WHIZ's Hank Littick from his station's news story on it:

As has been announced in the past, we are relocating our 102 frequency so this agreement means that our company will maintain its presence in our area on the FM dial. We will continue our commitment to our local community by moving our format to 92.7.

As for the CVCO folks, they're nudging listeners to a new, recently established non-commercial frequency, WZNP/89.3 Newark:

92.7 the River is moving on your radio dial to 89.3. You’ll also hear a new name ….89.3 the Promise! We’re excited about launching the Promise for all of you who are our loyal listeners in Zanesville, Newark and southeast Ohio; but we’re even more energized by making some changes that so many of you have asked for. Now, with the Promise you get the “best of both worlds”.

When you join us early mornings at the Promise you’ll hear the uplifting, positive music the River is known for with Scott and Sam. If you hang around ‘til later in the morning you’ll hear the solid Bible teaching programs already being enjoyed by listeners at our other three Promise network stations throughout Ohio and Eastern Indiana!

So, technically, it's not a direct "move" of the CCM "River" format, as the "Promise Network" also features a heavy dose of Christian talk/teaching along with the music. It does carry the syndicated "Scott and Sam" show that's been heard on 92.7, and is also featured on "River" flagship WCVO/104.9 Gahanna in the Columbus market.

The moves do not mean not a perfect signal replacement for either of the stations. Even the decent 92.7 signal, coming in from the south, will lose some northern, less populated parts of Muskingum County now covered by 102.5, and the 89.3 signal is a rimshot into both Zanesville and Newark from between the two cities.

But we're guessing listeners in the city of Zanesville itself will likely not notice much difference in either replacement. The signals are both rimshots to some degree, but not bad or distant rimshots.

Speaking of moves near Newark, the FCC last week approved the construction permit which clears the way for WNKO/101.7 Newark to move to new facilities licensed to New Albany.

The nudge west would put WNKO right into the Columbus market, which means with the 102.5 FM move to a COL of Baltimore OH, Columbus is set to get two new FM facilities at some point in the next year or two.

The WNKO move pushed Otterbein College's WOBN/101.5 Westerville off of its class D channel, along with another move we'll talk about in a bit. The tiny college outlet found a new home, with help, at 97.5.

Heading west from Columbus, another station along I-70 and in the same frequency area as WNKO is tabbed for its own move west.

Main Line Broadcasting country WKSW/101.7 Urbana "Kiss Country" holds a construction permit to move to 101.5 FM, and a new city of license (Enon).

That puts the station now serving Urbana and Springfield ("Clark and Champaign County's Hometown Country Station") right into the middle of the Dayton market, giving that market another new FM...

Official: Beck To WTAM, Frantz To Evenings

As reported first right here on your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), and as expected today, it's officially been announced on Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100.

The Cleveland "Big One" will return Premiere syndicated host Glenn Beck to his old time slot, 9 AM-noon, effective November 3rd.

Current late morning host Bob Frantz interviewed Beck (in a presumably recorded segment) via telephone on his show this morning, and also announced his own move to the evening time slot. Frantz will air 7 PM-midnight weekdays starting the day after Beck's return to WTAM, election night, November 4th.

Beck told Frantz he was more than eager to return to the Cleveland radio airwaves:

"It's always been one of my favorite stations, 'TAM, and always one of my favorite cities. We had such a great relationship... The people just get it, listening to 'TAM, and I really, really miss them."

Frantz made brief comments about his own move to the station's evening slot, where his show will supplant the long-running "Sportsline":

"We'll have more time, a broader reach, a larger audience, we plan to do some amazing things."

Of course, none of this is news to OMW readers, but it has now been announced to the world by WTAM. Well, at least, the part of the world that listens to Bob Frantz's show, at any rate.

Oh, and more from another shoe dropping related to this announcement.

OMW hears that Beck's Akron affiliate, sister Clear Channel talk WHLO/640, will no longer carry his program after it starts on WTAM.

Instead, late afternoon local host Matt Patrick will move his WHLO talk show into the 9 AM-noon slot, starting that same November 3rd. Patrick, of course, will continue his long-running job as co-host of sister hot AC WKDD/98.1's morning drive show - and will slide down the Freedom Avenue hall during the 9 AM newsbreak to switch stations.

The WHLO move will return ABC Radio/Premiere afternoon drive host Sean Hannity to a full three-hour live clearance on the Akron station, and ABC stablemate Mark Levin moves up to a live clearance following Hannity, from 6-8 PM.

OMW already reported that Beck's other current Northeast Ohio affiliate, Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria, will move Talk Radio Network host Laura Ingraham from evenings into the late morning time slot on November 5th, a move foreshadowed by the graphic "11.05.08. Change Is Coming. Believe It." on WEOL's web site...

WSTB GM Resigning

In the continuing controversy over Streetsboro school district station WSTB/88.9, which is still off the air as of this writing on Monday morning...

OMW hears that long-time WSTB general manager Bob Long plans to resign from his post later today, though he'll continue in his teaching job.

What's being called an "official statement" by Long has floated out of the ether and into our electronic hands, and we share it here:


Here's the reasoning behind my decision:

1. I feel that I have lost the confidence of the administration in my ability to serve as Station Manager.

2. This has been a heavy burden for me. It was difficult to teach my classes last week. It has been a difficult weekend as I try to prepare my lessons for next week. It's been very hard to concentrate on anything other than this. I need to get this behind me so that I can continue with my classroom responsibilities.

3. I feel the administration and I are in a stalemate situation. The education of my Broadcasting II (WSTB Radio) students has been impeded by the radio station not being on the air this past week. If I step out of the way, then the administration can begin the process of selecting a new Station Manager and getting the station back on air.


WSTB has been off the air for a week now, as school officials removed on-air computers over pictures said to be located on the computers...reportedly, pictures of an 18 year-old now-former student in the presence of alcohol at an out-of-town New Year's Eve party.

A Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier article late last week sheds a little light on the controversy from the other side of things. Quoting a piece of it:

Streetsboro Board of Education President Kevin Grimm said that only (WSTB IT director Dan) Kuznicki has been asked to not return to school property at the request of the district's legal counsel, but he is not "banned." He said the district's counsel is currently reviewing the photos.

"The administration wants to ensure our students are not in any environment that maybe harmful to them," he said.

Superintendent Linda T. Keller said the district is conducting an internal investigation on computers used to run WSTB that were seized by the administration Monday. As of Thursday evening, the station had not returned to the airwaves.

The article makes it clear that Long, who's been GM of WSTB for nearly 30 years, considers Kuznicki vital to the station's return and continued operation.

Meanwhile, the 88.9 FM slot in Northeast Ohio remains vacant, with unlistenable traces of Ashland University's WRDL occasionally floating into WSTB's usual listening area.

We'll wrap this item up by moving into a mini-editorial. We'll helpfully divide it from the rest of the item, for those who need that division to be clear.


OMW is not affiliated with any educational institution. We are not tasked with shaping the minds of students heading into an increasingly uncertain world. We realize that since the Dark Ages, when your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) went to school, "threats" both perceived and real to students have increased.

We're therefore going to step away from editorializing about the "student safety issue", as it's been framed by some, including commenters to our own items.

The concerns vs. the facts we see from here in this specific case seem a bit blown out of proportion, but again, we don't have students in the Streetsboro district, and we aren't directly involved in this situation at we don't have much standing to comment on that part of it.

Put all of that aside, and let the educational system - and affected parties - deal with that part of it as they see fit to do...and let those parents and stakeholders react to that, as they see fit to do, if they don't think the system is dealing with it properly.

In our opinion, a long-time community resource like WSTB should not be lost over such a squabble, no matter what you think of the parties involved, or the specific situation that has made the news recently.

With Bob Long's impending resignation, we believe someone needs to step in - and NOW - and make it clear that WSTB, in some form, will return to the airwaves, in this week, if not today.

That's easier said than done, as the status of the stations' computers is still up in the air, so we don't know how they'd do it.

But the FCC only allows stations to be silent for so long, and they need to file for extensions if they don't return to the airwaves. We don't see a silent STA request for WSTB among the station's data on the agency's website, though it could well just not have shown up online yet. (Regular readers know we've seen the FCC online database lag behind reality before, so we're not reading much into that.)

To the Streetsboro district: Deal with "student safety" issues as you must, if they are indeed there. We're not telling you how to do your core mission of educating students, or protecting their welfare.

But WSTB is a federally-licensed facility, and a service to not just the student community, but the public. Don't let foot dragging threaten its decades-long history.

Again, this last part of the item is our own thought and opinion.

-- The Management

Country Hat Tip To Chuck

A Cleveland country radio icon is about to become a national Hall of Famer.

Clear Channel country WGAR/99.5 Cleveland afternoon driver Chuck Collier will be inducted into the Country Music Radio Hall of Fame in Nashville. The induction will take place on March 3, 2009.

The station says Collier was "one of a very few selected for the Class of 2009" for the Hall of Fame, and is one of "fewer than 60 radio professionals" to receive the honor over the years.

Collier got the news in a call from Lon Helton of Country Aircheck, and video of the on-air announcement - which was apparently a surprise to him - is available on his WGAR page.

Chuck has been on the air at WGAR, the station says, for over 36 years...which would mean he's survived not only many ownership changes, but dates him back to WGAR's days at 1220 AM (now Salem Christian talk/teaching WHKW)...

Friday, October 17, 2008

One Out The Door

Like Thursday, it's past 2:30 PM and we haven't been able to get to lunch yet, but here's a quick extra update on our way out the door for the weekend...

WHLO CHANGES: We've detailed moves about to be announced by Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland, with Premiere's Glenn Beck about to make his return to the station.

We've also told you that Beck's return to WTAM has forced current affiliate Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria to move the newly acquired Laura Ingraham show into Beck's late morning time slot, starting November 5th.

We've also said we didn't know what Beck's other current Northeast Ohio affiliate, Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron, would do after Beck returns to WTAM.

Well, OMW is hearing that WHLO late afternoon local host Matt Patrick has a "big announcement" planned for his 5-7 PM show this afternoon/evening.

Could it detail a potential very, very big change for the station's lineup, including one that would affect Patrick - who also continues to host his long-running morning show with co-host Angela Bellios on sister hot AC WKDD/98.1?

Which, according to the show's web page, now airs from 5 AM to 9 AM weekdays... not until 10 AM. (We believe it's been like that for some time.)

Feel free to put the pieces together...they fit pretty well from this end...

NO SOJ: And a final (for this week) followup to the mess involving Streetsboro Public Schools' radio station WSTB/88.9.

OMW hears that it's official - the station's weekend "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" will not be aired this Sunday.

Though it's been announced, it's no surprise...considering that as of this writing, WSTB has yet to return to the airwaves even with its regular "AlterNation" student alt-rock programming. And there appears to be no resolution to the standoff we've detailed below.

OK, anything else between now and Monday, you'll have to find out from somewhere else...we're heading out for the weekend...

Wrapping Up The Week

...with some followups, mostly.

We'll be putting up the "Gone Fishin'" sign for the weekend, though your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) has never actually fished. Except for media news stories...

WSTB FOLLOWUP: The shutdown of Streetsboro Public Schools station WSTB/88.9 has made it further into the mainstream media.

After the Akron Beacon Journal article we linked earlier, WJW/8's "FOX 8 News" made the trek to Portage County, with a live shot explaining the continuing off-air status of the station which normally airs the student-run "AlterNation" alt-rock format six days a week, and the adult volunteer-run "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" on Sundays.

The video from the report can be viewed here, and that's important to understanding the nuances of this story...since it also shows (with blurred faces) the "inappropriate" pictures which prompted school officials to pull out WSTB's computers on Monday night.

(Frankly, the "inappropriate" wording has to go. When this was first reported Tuesday, it invoked the thought of pictures that were not about kids and alcohol, but involving something else.)

A story for the Kent State University student newspaper "The Daily Kent Stater" by reporter Jackie Valley quotes former WSTB operations manager Bill Germani, and long-time WSTB general manager Bob Long, a local broadcast veteran:

Germani said the pictures stem from a New Year's Eve celebration this year in Columbus, in which a former student is photographed in the presence of alcohol. The other picture does not contain any alcohol.

Bob Long, general manager of WSTB, said the 18-year-old student photographed, who had parental consent to be in Columbus, never consumed alcohol that night because he was still on medication following a serious ATV accident in October 2007.

The article says Long has offered his resignation if the district doesn't allow two station IT workers to return - one he says has actually been banned from the building due to being in the aforementioned pictures.

For now, the station continues to be off the air, as school officials - who aren't saying anything now - apparently huddle with legal counsel.

In addition to breaking the long broadcast history of WSTB, the dispute will more than likely silence the "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" folks this weekend, barring a very quick resolution today. That programming alone has aired for over 10 years, and the station as a whole has been on for over 30.

We're a bit biased on this story, we admit.

We're not school administrators, or parents. We don't live in Streetsboro, and don't have much input into the "other side" of this.

Officials there probably never heard of us until they saw links on the various WSTB-related sites. They're welcome to chime in, either privately or in public. We welcome their response, but at this point they seem to be somewhat silent in the media reports we've passed along.

No, we're broadcasters, as are Mr. Long, the "SOJ" and others associated with the station. We're hoping that some mutually amicable resolution comes out of this...and that WSTB returns to the air soon...

BECK!: No, this is not an item about the announcement expected Monday, where Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland will unveil to listeners what OMW readers have known for many days - the return of Premiere syndicated late morning voice Glenn Beck to the WTAM airwaves on Monday, November 3rd.

It's about Beck himself, who has much larger items on his plate than his new Cleveland affiliate.

In a link helpfully provided on Beck's own website, MediaNewser reports that the multimedia conservative talk star will change his TV address next year, as Beck joins the staff at FOX News Channel.

He'll do a 5 PM (Eastern) show for the cable network.

Beck's current TV show airs on Headline News, CNN's second network, at 7 PM (Eastern), with a 9 PM repeat. Various reports show that Beck is the most popular host on "Headline News" who isn't named Nancy Grace.

The FNC show is set to start next Spring, and there's no word if Beck's Headline News stint will end early. The Premiere-syndicated radio show, of course, goes on as usual.

The New York Times reports that one possible "sticking point" in CNN's talks with Beck was Headline News' decision to drop the 9 PM repeat of the show. It will instead use that time slot to air a repeat of Lou Dobbs' show from the main CNN network...

BYE, FEDER: A veteran of the Newspaper Media Columnist Wars has shut down his word processor today.

He's Robert Feder, the nearly 30-year veteran of covering media for the Chicago Sun-Times, who wrote his last column today. Fellow Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper has a few thoughts on Feder's departure here.

Like large numbers of "ink-stained wretches", Feder took a buyout offered by the Chicago newspaper...which, like pretty much every newspaper in America, is trying to drastically cut staff in a feverish effort to reduce costs.

But Feder is not just another newspaper media columnist.

He's widely regarded in both businesses as the preeminent such columnist in the nation. Feder and his column are respected. He prided himself on accuracy. He's got a list of sources probably larger than most other media columnists put together.

And when he felt someone needed to be called on the carpet - like, for example, the now-departed general manager of Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM/2 - he did it.

Oh, and speaking of that station, and Cleveland...Feder also wrote a now-infamous column aimed at former WBBM boss Bill Applegate's memo regarding the clothing worn by the station's female on-air staff members. Applegate, of course, is now VP/GM at Raycom Media's WOIO/19-WUAB/43 here, and may well be toasting Feder's departure today in his office at Reserve Square.

We're guessing even Feder never imagined that Applegate would go on to approve, and encourage, a female reporter to take off her clothes on camera for a "story".

Anyway, we salute the 28-year run of Mr. Feder. We had the pleasure of having lunch with him a few years ago, thanks to some friends who brought us along.

And though it was only one meeting, our impression is that he basically felt like he was "just a lucky guy" to be doing a job he loved...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Check The Updates

It's been a busy, busy day for media news in Northeast Ohio...and for us.

We've been following three big stories: the year-end exit of Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 evening co-anchor Tim White after stalled contract talks, the death of long-time Cleveland radio and television personality Jack Reynolds, and the continuing off-air status of Streetsboro schools' radio station WSTB/88.9.

Rather than posting separate items updating all of today's news, we've updated the original items. Please scroll below this to see those updates...

THIS JUST IN: Tim White Leaving WKYC At Year's End

UPDATE 10/16/08 5:00 PM: The word has been posted on Channel 3's website this afternoon...about the departure of long-time evening co-anchor Tim White at the end of this year.

Quoting White in the WKYC release:

"For nearly a decade I've had the privilege of being part of one of the best local news operations in the country. The business has changed. What hasn't changed is my deep respect for my colleagues in the newsroom and my gratitude to the people of Northeast Ohio. I have a lot to do in the years ahead, and now is the time to get at it."

WKYC says White will remain on the air through the end of his contract. And, quoting from their announcement:

WKYC has not decided on future plans for replacing Tim in the co-anchor position. It is expected an announcement will be made sometime in mid to late December.

Cleveland Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington weighs in as well, with this quote from White, who joined "Channel 3 News" as Judd Hambrick's replacement in 1999:

"The business is changing and tough decisions have to be made. I'm not angry. I'm disappointed."


From TV trade site TVNewsday:

Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC Cleveland (DMA 17) announced today that Tim White, evening news anchor with Romona Robinson since 1999, will leave the station when his contract expires at the end of this year.

White and WKYC were unable to agree on conditions for continuing the contract and have instead agreed on an amicable separation.

More, later...we're drowning in Breaking Media News today, and haven't had time to even grab a quick

THIS JUST IN: Jack Reynolds Passes Away

UPDATE 6:02 PM 10/16/08: WJW "FOX 8" confirms the passing of Jack Reynolds, father of "FOX 8" sports anchor Tony Rizzo, at the age of 71. Quoting the article on

Reynolds had been hospitalized for three 1/2 weeks for bypass heart surgery and then for an intestinal operation. He had weathered it all and was recovering, but he took a turn last night and died early this morning.

FOX 8 also provides details of his services:

Visitation will be Sunday, 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Ripepi Funeral Home, 5762 Pearl Road in Parma.

The funeral mass will be Monday morning at 9:30 at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, 14865 East Bagley Road, Middleburg Heights.


We don't have any details, but OMW is hearing that veteran Cleveland radio and television personality Jack Reynolds has passed away.

Jack was one of the original air staff members at the top 40 incarnation of WHK/1420 back in the 1960s, and was also heard on the old "3WE" (WWWE/1100, which is today's WTAM).

On the TV side of the ledger, many Clevelanders also remember him as the booth announcer and voice for WUAB/43, in its days as a popular independent station that "played favorites".

Many outside Cleveland knew Jack for his long-running work as a wrestling announcer with the World Wrestling Federation (today's WWE).

And still others know him as the father of popular local sportscaster Tony Rizzo, sports anchor at WJW/8 "FOX 8" and mid-morning host at WKNR/850 "ESPN 850". Reynolds has occasionally been heard calling into his son's radio show, and also took part in a recent tribute to WHK's 85th anniversary.

We'll pass along more as we hear it. For now, the only details we have are from sports handicapper Kevin O'Neill's "Real World Sports" blog here.

Our condolences to the family, to Tony Rizzo, and to Jack's friends in and out of the broadcasting business...

WSTB Rally

UPDATE 10/16/08 2:30 PM: A temporary placeholder page is now up at the main website for WSTB's "AlterNation" weekday format, with this notice:

Sadly, this situation is out of the control of the many volunteers and staff that have worked hard over the years to provide you with the music and programming you've come to enjoy.

The site encourages listeners to make their feelings known to the Streetsboro school district and its board members, and provides links to contact information for those in the district.

It closes with a message to supporters:

We love you. Thank you for your support. We're really sorry that your radio "fix" has been taken away, we really hope to bring it back to you. We hate to ask you for more support after all of this, but you've always been there for us in the past and we're sure you'll make your opinion known.

Our original item is below...


With Streetsboro Public Schools station WSTB/88.9 still off the air, even despite the apparent resolution of a controversy over pictures found on station computers, we have word of a quickly-organized rally tonight meant to support the station.

WSTB's "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" has put up the notice on its web page...

Former and current staffers, school facility, and supporters of radio station WSTB are expected at a rally scheduled for Thursday, October 16th at 6:00 PM at the at Streetsboro City Park Pavillion.

The purpose of the rally is to set the record straight on events that led up to Streetsboro High School officials shutting down the station. The shutdown resulted in the disruption of broadcasting by the Alternation and sister station, the Sunday Oldies Jukebox.

The public is invited to the rally. Please come, get the facts, and show your support.

We don't know any more than that, so it'll be interesting to see what develops.

The notice is not posted on the "AlterNation" web site for good reason, as the site has been down since WSTB's computers were taken on Monday night. That site is currently landing on a blank page...

Pat's Staying

As it turns out, Akron Beacon Journal sports columnist Pat McManamon has dodged the Layoff Reaper - again.

An OMW reader points us to Tuesday's entry in Pat's "Beside the Point" blog:

First, a personal note: The Akron Beacon Journal taketh away and the Akron Beacon Journal giveth. I was informed this week that the layoff notice presented a few weeks ago has been rescinded. Thus I will stay with the Beacon Journal, at least until they get this layoff bug up their hind end again.

This may please some of you, and anger or disappoint others.

To those who wrote and offered support, I offer my heartfelt thanks and appreciation. It meant a lot.

McManamon informed readers a month ago in that same blog that he'd been given a 60 day layoff notice.

And it's not even Pat's first time dodging the layoff bullet at the Beacon Journal.

As OMW reported earlier, he managed to hold onto his job on East Exchange Street in August 2006, when new ABJ owner Black Press launched its first layoff series - with 40 employees out the door.

At the time, McManamon was the paper's Cleveland Browns beat reporter, but he later took the sports columnist role vacated when ABJ veteran Terry Pluto was hired by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

And speaking of that other newspaper, our reader wonders if Brian Windhorst's exit to the PD this month paved the way for the Beacon to hang onto McManamon...again.

While we're Talking Print, in our search for information about Windhorst, we overlooked a very detailed article on Rubber City Radio's AkronNewsNow about the Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer being one of 18 ABJ employees taking the latest buyout offer, and his move north to the PD.

The ANN piece by Tina Kaufmann is worth a look even now, as the list of those taking the buyout includes some very big names at the Beacon, including columnist David Giffels, reporter Carl Chancellor, photographers Lew Stamp and Ken Love, and editorial cartoonist Chip Bok.

The complete list comes courtesy of the BJ Retirees (now BJ Alums) Blog Wall of Honor, in case you're wondering what happened to your favorite ABJ writer or other staffer.

The ANN article notes that Giffels is heading for a job at the University of Akron.

It also notes that the union covering Beacon Journal employees will have "under 70" workers in its ranks after these buyouts take hold.

There's no word if McManamon will have to help cover Akron City Council meetings, or write obituaries, in addition to his sports duties...or if George M. Thomas will be called on to edit the movie listings on days the Cavaliers don't play...

(Yes, it's a joke. We think...we hope...)

A WSTB Update

Streetsboro High School radio station WSTB/88.9 is still off the air as of this writing, but the circumstances that forced it off the air have become somewhat clearer.

And for that matter, it all seems rather silly at this point.

An article written on the web site of the weekly "Gateway News" newspaper, which we linked here earlier this week, cited "inappropriate photos" as the reason school officials took out WSTB computers Monday night. The move took out the computer used to operate the station on-air, leading to the loss of programming.

What were the "inappropriate photos", a phrase attributed to school officials by local newspapers? Probably not what some thought.

From the Akron Beacon Journal, this morning:

One photo showed a party and there was a question of whether a student was there drinking, (Streetsboro police) Detective Richard Polivka said Wednesday.

However, there was no criminal wrongdoing and the investigation was concluded, he added.

So, it would appear to be all said and done...oh, except for the fact that WSTB's "AlterNation" alt-rock format is still among the missing as of this writing, and for that matter, it's not known if this weekend's "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" will be able to broadcast on the station.

The absence of WSTB's 88.9 signal has brought some listeners south and west of Akron the signal of Ashland University's WRDL/88.9 Ashland.

Oh, speaking of "Sunday Oldies Jukebox", an adult-run all volunteer effort...while trying to figure out how to get back on the air, SOJ volunteer program director Bill Weisinger shares his own thoughts on the past few days with OMW.

"As we expected, it turns out to be much ado about nothing....the nothing being a few (fully clothed) ADULTS at a New Year's party. Any of these pictures could have been printed on ANY newspaper society page in the nation," "Uncle Bill" tells OMW.

He adds, "(it) seems someone in the administration was misled, or just got bad advice, that resulted in this storm of inappropriate and unnecessary bad press for a station with over 30 years of solid community service."

If "SOJ", which provides a popular oldies format on Sundays to the Akron market, returns this coming weekend, it might be without computer assistance.

It's not known how the station's on-air computer was dismantled, and not known if it can be easily returned to service. If there's a problem, the "SOJ" volunteer on-air personalities could well break out the CDs on Sunday, instead of running music off of computers.

But with the situation resolved, here's hoping they, and the student-run "AlterNation" format which airs Monday through Saturday, return soon...


Another change is about to come to Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5, though this one isn't being initiated by the station.

OMW hears that "NewsChannel 5" Akron Bureau reporter Jonathan Costen will leave the station in the next couple of weeks, right before the November ratings period.

We're hearing that the decision was Costen's, as he's leaving the TV business for another non-broadcast job he's already secured.

Right now, Costen is the only reporter in the "NewsChannel 5" Akron bureau, as former bureau chief Pete Kenworthy recently made the move to co-anchor the station's "Good Morning Cleveland". Costen started covering Akron news for WEWS in 1999.

(We haven't checked, but as far as we know, veteran photographer Joe McGee is also still in the bureau, which is located at the Akron Beacon Journal's newsroom.)

We don't know who'll be brought into Akron to replace Costen, Kenworthy and/or both...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

THIS JUST IN: WKYC Adopts New "Look"

Visual changes have come to Gannett Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC/3.

WKYC senior director and "Director's Cut" blogger Frank Macek has details of the new on-air look at "Channel 3 News", along with some screen shots from this afternoon's noon newscast.

Macek notes that the new look means WKYC's owner has joined the companies standardizing the on-air appearance of newscasts:

This new look is part of Gannett's companywide, G3, initiative look that will appear on all of the company's broadcast properties.

The standardization, presumably, means that the company can "centralize" the graphics out of one hub...leading to less (or no!) need for locally-produced graphics...

Brian Of The What?

Forgive us the brief side move into Ohio Print Media Watch for this entry.

So, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) was losing sleep early this morning. Stomach tumbling around in the wee hours, we sought help to feel better...and reached for the Mighty Laptop, since we were up, anyway.

A quick run through the Internet led us to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's sports news blog...headed up by an item tabbed to "Brian Windhorst's Cavaliers Blog". Huh?

This early morning surfing session was starting to mess with our fuzzy early morning head. What was the long-time Akron Beacon Journal Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer doing in the PD's sports blog?

Had budget cuts at newspapers led to this conclusion - the two local papers sharing a single beat writer for the area's NBA team?

(We hope you can forgive us for that, as Ohio's newspapers have actually been running stories from each other on a regular basis for the past few months, complete with bylines, And then, there's the running joke - at least we hope it's a joke - that the tough newspaper times will end up with the shrinking Beacon Journal becoming a supplement to the also-shrinking Plain Dealer.)

No, we'd just missed one of the bigger stories in local newspapering, that's all...understandable, since it's not our usual beat.

As it turns out, Brian Windhorst started October 6th as the Plain Dealer's Cavaliers beat writer. After much searching, we'll give a hat tip to former Beacon Journal politics writer Abe Zaidan for the details on his own "Grumpy Abe" blog.

(Zaidan also notes the unrelated exit of ex-ABJ employee Stuart Warner from the PD, part of wide-reaching buyout offers to the paper's employees.)

Windhorst, meanwhile, joins former ABJ colleague Terry Pluto on the Cleveland paper's staff.

And despite the fact that newspapers are dumping staffers like so much discarded garbage, the Windhorst move is a very good one for the PD. It's not quite the high-wattage move the Pluto hiring was, but is very close.

Ask anyone who knows about Northeast Ohio sports, and they'll tell you Windhorst has set the standard for covering the Cavaliers in the LeBron James era.

Windhorst, who also wrote a book about LeBron and the Cavs (with ex-ABJ/new PD co-worker Pluto) and is a contributor to, ran rings around other reporters who covered the team, both nationally and locally.

Evidence of that came fairly recently, when Windhorst - still with the Beacon Journal - first broke the news that the Cavaliers had obtained Mo Williams from the Milwaukee Bucks.

Did we mention that Windhorst happened to phone in his scoop on the way home from the hospital, where he'd spent nearly two months recovering from a very serious illness? We'd be lucky if we had the mental and physical presence to even find our way back to our own home after such an ordeal.

Windhorst's story of recovery is inspiring enough, but he has done more than just return to work from the hospital...he's soaring.

Back at 44 East Exchange Street, it looks like Beacon Journal sportswriter and OMW reader George M. Thomas takes over the Cavaliers beat. Quoting Thomas' first blog entry about the Cavaliers:

First, let’s deal with the two-ton elephant in this cyber room if you will. I ain’t Brian Windhorst. Although he and I possess the same physique, I’ve got about 13 years on him and I have a much better tan - much better. I’d like to say he’s a friend. He’s taught me a few things about hoops and the Cavs in particular, but he and I are different people. So, by all means, feel free to bash me in different ways.

We presume that since he's jumping into the Cavaliers' beat right before the thick of the season starts, George will probably not have a moment's time to file "Airing It Out" items about local sports media.

Thank you, Mr. Thomas, for items we used as links... and best of luck to you filling some rather big shoes on that beat...

Still Not Theirs

Here's one from our Technicality Department.

A brief item in AllAccess today confirms what we'd wondered about while looking at FCC records online - rock WRQK/106.9 Canton is still technically owned by Cumulus, not Clear Channel.

Of course, WRQK was involved in a multi-station swap, where Cumulus sent it to Clear Channel, and received a number of stations in Michigan in return.

The deal was filed in December 2006, and approved by the FCC in December 2007.

The proposed swap was extensively reported right here in OMW, long before it was even filed. Clear Channel actually took over operations of WRQK in January 2007...and has run the station known as "Rock 106.9" ever since.

No, WRQK is not leaving Freedom Avenue.

AllAccess reports that "a tower problem" for one of the Michigan outlets going to Cumulus - WWWW-FM/Ann Arbor - has held up the consummation of the deal, and forced the filing of two extensions. (You'll note that the above-linked FCC approval has no consummation date.)

Time-wise, it's gotten to the point that Cumulus and Clear Channel have now refiled the deal with the FCC (shown here on the WRQK end of things).

Again, we're in Technicality Land.

Clear Channel continues to run WRQK under an LMA, and Cumulus is doing the same for the Michigan stations, while the licensing issues sort out. Listeners have no idea which company name is on the official license, with the future owners already in charge.

And since the swap has already been approved in its present state, except quick FCC action after all the Michigan tower issues get ironed out...

Hi, Glenn!

The ongoing saga of changes about to be made to Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100's lineup continues to amuse us.

This time, your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) is right in the middle of the action involving the Cleveland talk station's immediate future plans.

According to one of our readers, OMW was actually quoted/invoked by Premiere syndicated talk host Glenn Beck during his "Insiders" webcam feed between the 9 AM and 10 AM hours of his Tuesday broadcast.

(We picked this picture off of the website of Beck's Akron affiliate WHLO/640 because he's pointing at "us", as it were.)

Since we're not an "Insider", we didn't hear it (we're not sure we'll spend $7 a month to hear a national radio host talking about us for a small part of one day's offerings)...but we're told he read portions of our last item on his impending return to WTAM, and chuckled without comment.

Our item was also picked up Tuesday by the radio trade site AllAccess, which elicited a response from WTAM program director Ray Davis. Davis wouldn't confirm to the AllAccess folks anything we have put up here, but did helpfully note that the station planned a programming announcement on October 20th. (Hey! That's "next week", as we said! Imagine that!)

Sorry to mess up your scheduled unveiling, Mr. Davis...but we are doing some free publicity work for you.

Anyway, all is status quo regarding the timeline here, with Beck making his WTAM debut on Monday, November 3rd at 9 AM.

Later that same day, as we reported earlier, current WTAM late morning host Bob Frantz moves into evenings, starting at 7 PM.

We've done some digging, and OMW now hears that Frantz will NOT become the "Sportsline" replacement for now-former host Kevin Keane.

Instead, expect to hear much the same kind of show Frantz has been doing from 9 AM to noon weekdays...a show focusing on news, current events, politics and other local issues.

Of course, WTAM's heavy dose of sports continues, with Cavaliers and Indians (and Browns) play-by-play showing up in the evening hours, along with pre-game and post-game shows. That's something that will continue no matter who hosts the evening show, otherwise, as WTAM and Clear Channel have long-term contracts with all the major professional teams.

And if sports makes news, we're sure Bob will talk about it, as he has done on his daytime show.

But it'll be "The Bob Frantz Show", not "Sportsline with Bob Frantz"...and that will mark something of the end of an era, as "Sportsline" has existed in evenings on WTAM for (as far as we know) well over 30 years, dating back to the Pete Franklin days.

Not only was the show the first place current WTAM afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno was heard hosting on the station, Triv also planted the early seeds for his future radio career on "Sportsline" as a regular caller to the Franklin show, using the nickname "Mr. Know-It-All".

Back to Glenn Beck for a appears with his show debuting on WTAM on November 3rd, there will be a two-day overlap with current Beck affiliate WEOL/930 Elyria. That station has already announced plans to move Talk Radio Network's Laura Ingraham into the late morning slot, but that move isn't scheduled until November 5th.

And of course, we've heard there's this little election thing on the 4th...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Computer Probe Takes WSTB Off Air

Streetsboro Public Schools-owned WSTB/88.9 Streetsboro is off the air this afternoon...for an unusual reason.

The Gateway News, the Record Publishing weekly newspaper serving that Portage County city, reports on its web site this afternoon that something apparently found on station computers has led to the station being taken off the air:

Computers used to run the station have been seized by school officials after inappropriate photos were found on them, according to Superintendent Linda T. Keller.

"We are looking to resolve this situation quickly," Keller said.

The Gateway News reports that the WSTB computers in question were seized Monday night.

It quotes Keller as saying the station will return to the air, but it's not known when. As of this writing, early Tuesday evening, we can confirm that the station is not broadcasting.

WSTB programs a student-run alternative rock music format called "The AlterNation" on weekdays and Saturdays, and carries the adult-run "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" on Sundays...

Monday, October 13, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: WTAM Adding Beck, Frantz Moves To Evenings

At some point today, with all the noise surrounding this, with multiple confirmations both inside and connected to Oak Tree, it became silly to wait to share something we've known for some time now.

And frankly, Premiere's Glenn Beck nudged us over the "wait to share this" line today, announcing a "Cleveland" tour stop date on Beck's "Christmas Sweater" tour - December 13th at Playhouse Square's Allen Theatre.

Since he's been heard on Clear Channel talk WHLO/640, Beck has in the past brought his tour to Akron's E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall. The page linked above lists no presenting radio station sponsor for the Cleveland tour date.

That, and those "I'm baaaack" announcements in Beck's voice, that have already aired on Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland. If WTAM is trying to keep this secret, this isn't the way to do it.

So, here it is.

OMW hears that WTAM/1100 will indeed return The Glenn Beck Program to its former spot on the station's schedule, 9 AM-noon weekdays. We hear the move will be announced officially next week, and we believe Beck will debut on/return to WTAM on Monday, November 3rd, one day before the closely-watched presidential election.

Since WTAM can only broadcast one show at a time, we can also report what we've heard about the fate of current 9-noon time slot occupant Bob Frantz. OMW hears that Frantz is indeed set to move into the evening slot that has been occupied by "Sportsline" host Kevin Keane.

We reported Friday that Keane is no longer at Oak Tree, and a quick check of the WTAM website shows that "Sportsline with Kevin Keane" has been removed from the "Shows" pull-down menu, and his regular show page has been removed from the servers. (Keane's name will still be found on the daily schedule PDF files, but we presume those just haven't been changed yet.)

The one piece of information no one seems to have: No one seems sure what kind of program Frantz will head up during those evening hours, in a shift that starts at 7 PM and ends most nights after Indians or Cavaliers play-by-play (as late as midnight). Without play-by-play and post-game components, it's scheduled until 11 PM.

We haven't been able to determine if the evening show will be billed as "Sportsline with Bob Frantz", or "The Bob Frantz Show" with non-sports topics also present, though we'll have to presume sports will be a core no matter what due to the station's existing and longstanding play-by-play/pre-game/post-game commitments, which are not going away.

Frantz, of course, has a long sports radio background (including a previous stint doing sports for WTAM), and is well-suited for even a mixed role.

Even as a general issues host in late mornings, he's helped out the station's sports department with such things as Browns pre-game/post-game shows (when sports director Mike Snyder has to sub for Browns radio play-by-play voice Jim Donovan during WKYC/3-aired pre-season games) and has regularly contributed to NFL draft coverage and sports "roundtable" specials.

At very least, assuming that the time slot's format doesn't change from sports talk, Frantz's flexibility will come in handy in covering non-sports related topics that occasionally come up in evenings...such as political coverage, news events and the like, which Keane has had to cover very occasionally over the years.

We presume, but don't know for sure, that Mark Schwab and Andre Knott (and maybe others) will do "Sportsline" the next couple of weeks - and that Frantz will continue his 9-noon show through the end of October. This part of our report is just an educated guess. We assume with the Indians off, the Browns in action and Schwab's usual past presence as the primary sub host for Keane, he'll be heard the most.

In our item earlier this morning, we already reported that the Beck-to-WTAM move has forced the show off of Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria, which will move up the newly-added Laura Ingraham Show from 6-8 PM into Beck's late morning time slot in early November - we hear WEOL will make that switch on November 5th.

We have no idea what Beck's Akron affiliate, Clear Channel talk WHLO/640, plans to do - if the show would be kept (second affiliation a la Rush Limbaugh's WHLO clearance), or if another show will be brought in to replace it.

Even if WEOL wanted to keep Glenn Beck, they would not be able to do so. Elyria is in the Cleveland radio market, and WEOL is owned by an independent company.

WHLO is in the Akron radio market, and owned by Clear Channel (the parent company of Beck's syndicator, and a sister station to WTAM), so that decision would appear to fall to the folks on Freedom Avenue.

We'll see...

An Old Voice Teases

Offered without much further explanation, for now.

A number of OMW readers tell us that Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland has been airing liners many times over the weekend, much to this effect:

"Hey, Cleveland....I'm baaack!"

We're told the voice heard was none other than the voice of former WTAM syndicated mainstay Glenn Beck, the Premiere host who was unceremoniously knocked off Cleveland's "Big One" to make way for syndicated liberal host, trash TV talkmeister and former Cincinnati mayor Jerry Springer.

Not only was Springer not a very good radio host, he had immense trouble hanging onto an audience. We heard that "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry"'s ratings after taking over the 9-11:30 AM slot on WTAM were nothing short of disastrous.

And that wording may be too kind. It may not be overstating it to say that Springer's show basically torched Beck's listener base on 1100 in Cleveland.

Springer, of course, was later dispatched by WTAM in factor of a new local mid-morning issues show with former WTAM sports host Bob Frantz. Beck's show found alternate affiliates in the region in Lorain-Elyria Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria, and Clear Channel sister talk station WHLO/640 Akron.

Based on these "teaser" liners with Beck being heard on WTAM this past weekend, and our reporting related to the station the past few days, a lot of our readers are adding two plus two, and some of them may even be coming close to four.

But this is all we have to say, for now.

Oh, aside from the fact that we hear that the aforementioned WEOL has already announced in-house that on the first week of November, the Elyria station will move TRN's Laura Ingraham from 6-8 PM, into the 9-11:45 AM time slot now occupied by Glenn Beck on 930.

Things that make you go "hmmm"...

Friday, October 10, 2008


OMW hears that Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland "Sportsline" host Kevin Keane has left the building.

We don't know why, but we don't believe his exit was related to anything he did on or off the air. Keane's "Sportsline" page is still up, untouched, at this hour, and "Sportsline"'s other regular host, WTAM Indians beat reporter Mark Schwab, is on the air this Friday evening.

Oh, it's almost anti-climactic at this point...but we've confirmed the exit of Mike Trivisonno's latest regular female sidekick, who was only known as "Chrissy" on the air. We heard a young woman named "Melissa" on the show Friday afternoon, and don't know why "Chrissy" is no longer there.

We'll assume the voice we heard is the Melissa pictured on producer Marty Allen's page of Interns...and for now, we assume she'll continue to be an intern....

BREAKING NEWS: I-Team's Merriman Exits TV For Law Firm

The heads up comes this afternoon from Cleveland Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington on - WJW/8 "FOX 8" I-Team reporter Tom Merriman is leaving the now-Local TV-owned station to join a local law firm.

The move to Cleveland-based Landskroner, Grieco & Madden actually brings Merriman back to his law career roots, which he left behind in 1995 to join Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 as an investigative reporter...before landing at WJW in 2001. The article says Merriman headed up the Ohio Attorney General's Cleveland office before moving to TV.

He tells the PD that he's covered the law firm as a reporter:

"They're great lawyers who do a lot of high-impact, public interest-oriented litigation. Now when people call me, I can not only tell their story, I can put on the gloves and fight for them in court. It's going to be a blast."

Merriman tells Washington that he turned down a one-year contract extension offered by the station last month.

And the PD item sheds more light on what we've reported here extensively - the exit, either voluntarily or involuntarily, of over two dozen FOX 8 employees connected to the sale of the station by the network which owned it until this year. Quoting the Washington piece:

Channel 8 lost about 25 people in the months surrounding its sale to Local TV in July, Merriman estimated. Some employees retired before the sale became final to take advantage of Fox's benefits package, he said.

Departures among the on-air staff included weekend anchor/reporter Dray Clark and reporters Gary Stromberg, John Damschroder, Angele Ringo and Gary Libertore.

Clark, by the way, is now working as a general assignment reporter at CBS O&O KYW/3 in his hometown of Philadelphia. We previously reported the departure of Damschroder, as WJW closed its Columbus bureau. Stromberg, a Cleveland TV news vet, retired in April.

Washington lists Ringo as an anchor at San Diego's ABC affiliate, and Libertore as a weekend anchor/reporter in Utica NY, his hometown.

And about the "Fox benefits package" line - it's no surprise to us, because we reported that before the Local TV sale was announced, company executives warned employees at South Marginal that the new owner's benefits package "may not be as robust" as that provided by FOX.

WJW VP/GM Greg Easterly says "not all" of those who left will be replaced.

Washington says Merriman felt "the station was not making a long-term commitment to the investigative team", and indeed, the other two members of his unit now have other primary assignments - Lorrie Taylor is a consumer reporter, and Bill Sheil is heading for the weekend anchor desk.

But Easterly calls the station's commitment to the I-Team concept "unwavering". He tells Washington that he expects Sheil, Taylor and other FOX 8 News reporters "to contribute investigative reports"...saying Sheil's new role will increase his visibility in investigating.

You'll still see Merriman on FOX 8 News for a while.

Washington reports that Merriman will stick around through the November sweeps, finish up some projects, and exit South Marginal on December 31st...and will join the law firm on January 1st...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Toledo and Tampa

Two TV-related items, both involving cities with names starting with the letter "T". (Hey, it's what passes for creativity around here!)

TOLEDO TV RADIO NEWS: Toledo ABC O&O WTVG/13 and the Cumulus cluster in the Glass City are crowing about their new alliance.

The Toledo Blade reports that seven Cumulus radio stations in Toledo will be getting weather, news and sports updates from the "13ABC" folks.

The deal apparently doesn't include, at least according to the Blade article, top 40 WTWR/98.3 "Tower 98-3", which has all but fully left the Cumulus Toledo cluster to directly serve north suburban Monroe MI. We hear "Tower" is now being completely run out of Michigan, with the exception of some production services being done in Toledo.

Weather is the big part of this deal, as the entire WTVG team of forecasters will join 13ABC's Bill Spencer on the Cumulus stations. Spencer has already been a contributor to the morning team at country WKKO/99.9 "K100" and oldies WRQN/93.5.

The deal also calls for news updates to be provided to Cumulus by WTVG, though we don't know if this affects existing news director London Mitchell's presence on WKKO, WRQN and talk WTOD/1560 "SuperTalk 1560".

We also don't know if the promised local sports updates will displace local updates we've heard on sports WLQR/1470 "The Ticket".

The Blade article says the partnership starts "in a few weeks"...and will expand through the end of the year...

SHE MOVES IN TAMPA: Since Florida isn't a usual stop for us, we'll have to explain this one.

Stephanie Roberts, who's been a fill-in weather forecaster at Tampa CBS affiliate WTSP/10, has been tapped to be morning weather forecaster at the market's ABC affiliate, WFTS/28. (She had also filled in there before WTSP.)

And that's where things start falling into place for us, as Roberts had a good run right here in Cleveland, leaving Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5's "Good Morning Cleveland" in 2005 to head for Florida.

St. Petersburg Times TV/media critic Eric Deggans mentions that in his item on the changes, reminding us that WFTS is a Scripps-owned sister station to "NewsChannel 5" here.

Roberts' bio from her days at WEWS is still up on telling viewers that the Chicago-area native and Penn State grad came to Cleveland in 1999 from Toledo NBC affiliate WNWO/24 to do news, weather and even sports at Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19. She moved to WEWS to take the "GMC" forecasting job in 2002.

The other article linked from NewsNet5 above also reminds us that Roberts was replaced on "GMC" by Susanne Horgan. We reported earlier that Horgan is moving to weekends, and that her WEWS contract will be allowed to expire without being renewed...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

We Were Right About Laura

Back when Talk Radio Network syndicated midday host Laura Ingraham lost Salem talk WHK/1420 Cleveland - and all her other Salem affiliates - due to a dispute between the broadcast group and the syndicator, we took a stab at which area station would become her "Cleveland market" affiliate.

In a long, "educated guess" post the weekend after Salem and WHK dropped Ingraham's show, we made the case for Spirit Media talk/variety WELW/1330 Willoughby as Ingraham's new local outlet.

It sure made sense to us, but TRN instead revealed that Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria would be picking up the show in evenings, via tape delay.

As it turns out, our earlier post has actually turned out to be correct.

An eagle-eyed OMW reader spotted this listing on Ingraham's website, under the "Station Finder" list for Ohio:

Cleveland WELW 1330AM 9pm-11pm M-F
Cleveland WEOL 930AM 6pm-8pm M-F

Sure enough, a quick trip to the Willoughby station's web site shows that they're welcoming Laura Ingraham to the lineup - and not just for a late night clearance. WELW's site lists Ingraham's show airing (presumably) live from 11 AM to noon weekdays, in addition to the 9-11 PM clearance.

A quick look at the revised WELW schedule shows the Ingraham move apparently displaces two of the three daily "Lake Effect Radio" airings - the locally-based talk/variety hour we presume is brokered on WELW. The Lake Effect programming is still listed from 4-5 PM weekdays.

So, we were at least partially right...but it took longer than we thought. And Ingraham's show now has clearances on stations serving both the East Side and the West Side, give or take listeners in the Cleveland market who are outside the range of 930 or 1330.

Oh, a note about that corrected WEOL clearance.

OMW hears that the 6-8 PM time slot may not be Ingraham's permanent weekday time slot on the Elyria station - starting as soon as early November. More on that, later...