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...

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