Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Midweek Visit

Just some followup and stuff floating around...

WSTB: We hinted at this in our last item, when we reminded readers that general manager Bob Long and his student crew at Streetsboro's WSTB/88.9 wouldn't be around last night to cover Portage County election returns.

OMW hears that moves are actually being made to reconstruct the Streetsboro school district-owned station and return it to the airwaves - at some point.

As we pointed out shortly after school officials had station computers removed and the station taken off the air in October, it appears putting WSTB back together again may be a process that takes some time. It's not just throwing a computer back on and plugging its input into an audio console, and there is other mostly technical work involved.

We have no estimated timeline for WSTB's return, but it appears for the first time since mid-October that the station is definitely headed back to the airwaves at some time.

OMW also hears that when the station does get back up and running, the adult-volunteer-run "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" has been assured that it will be able to return. In fact, various moves are being promised that would allow that to happen.

As near as we can determine, "SOJ" was not involved in any of the problems surrounding WSTB's exit from the airwaves, and has basically been "held hostage" by the station's current off-air status.

OMW notes that for now, it appears the Streetsboro school district will continue to be the station's licensee, despite a proposal last week by the city's council president to transfer ownership into a non-profit group...

ABOUT THAT ELECTION: Forgive us for being bleary eyed this morning, as we stayed up following local election coverage on TV and radio.

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) had three TVs - one in HD - tuned to both local broadcasters and cable networks, and two radios bouncing among the stations.

As far as the general coverage goes, we give kudos to everyone who pitched in locally to supplement the network TV and radio coverage.

But there were some glitches or head scratchers in there.

For one, for whatever reason, Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19 declined to join wall-to-wall network election coverage at 7 PM, unlike every other network TV affiliate in the Cleveland market.

Though we did see pretty detailed local pre-election cut-ins by the "19 Action News" newsroom, the rest of the first hour was filled by...believe it or not...the regular syndicated programming WOIO carries in the 7 PM hour, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" with Meredith Vieria, and "Deal or No Deal" with Howie Mandel, slightly chopped up by the cut-ins.

No, we're not kidding.

That lead us to a chuckle watching the "19 Action News"' local election coverage cut-in at 7:30, where the station breathlessly noted that CBS had just called the first two states in the presidential race.

Which, of course, WOIO viewers could have seen CBS' Katie Couric actually DO earlier in the hour, shortly after 7 PM, if the station had joined the coverage live. (We weren't watching at 7 PM, but the station promoted the CBS News coverage as "starting at 8 PM", and we have no evidence they dropped in early.)

WOIO and all the Cleveland market stations had reporters stationed at the usual spots, including the Cuyahoga County elections board (important there because of the recent history of election-related problems in the county) and various candidate and party rallies. Networks seemed to allow local cut-ins once or twice an hour, just before top and bottom of the hour.

Radio-wise, it was indeed ABC News Radio and FOX News Radio with local cut-ins at stations we heard.

We heard Cleveland Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 news director Darren Toms calling into the FOX News Radio national coverage early, telling the network's listeners that there were no major problems with the election process this year in closely-watched Cuyahoga County, and in fact, there weren't even any post-election lines to speak of.

We heard Rubber City Radio oldies/news WAKR/1590 news director Ed Esposito and morning anchor Larry States leading that station's local coverage, with reporters in the field tracking post-election events, vote counting and even a power outage in the Akron neighborhood of Ellet (voting impact: none, as ballots continued to be cast).

And we heard who hosted Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron's local election cut-ins...Clear Channel Akron/Canton programming operations director and hot AC WKDD/98.1 afternoon drive host Keith Kennedy was joined by WHLO news director John Amrhein and WHLO/rock WRQK/106.9 program director Greg Ausham.

(Just what Keith needed to add to his already lengthy list of titles - election night host!)

TRANSITION: As the U.S. government starts its transition from President Bush to incoming President Obama, there's also that pesky digital TV transition.

In addition to its ongoing series that has been held under the title "Tuesdays with Trina", local PBS outlet WNEO/45-WEAO/49 "Western Reserve PBS" plans another digital TV event tomorrow night.

"DTV Action Day: 100 Days Out" will be an Open House held Thursday from 3-7 PM at the station's studio facility on Campus Center Drive in Kent.

Quoting the station's website:

This is a great opportunity to see converter box demonstrations, ask questions about antenna issues and learn more about the converter box coupon program. Free refreshments will be served!

We hope you will join us to talk with staff members about the DTV transition.

We presume one of those staff members will be station president Trina Cutter, who has hosted the "Tuesdays with Trina" DTV events at just about anything resembling a library in the station's service area.

Western Reserve PBS has been far and away a leader in digital TV-related education in Northeast Ohio. But at least some of that rooted is self-preservation and necessity.

We're just five days away from the first step needed for the eventual early shutoff of the station's WNEO/45 analog signal, as Western Reserve PBS will have to take the current pre-transition WNEO-DT digital signal off the air Monday to do antenna work.

On November 19th, analog 45 goes off the air for good, and WNEO's digital signal out of Salem will be off as well, for two days, to complete the process. (Western Reserve PBS promises that many cable customers, and DirecTV customers, will still get a feed. We presume Time Warner Cable systems can easily substitute Akron-licensed WEAO/49, if they aren't using WEAO's signal already.)

Finally, on November 21st, WNEO-DT returns on its new post-transition facility.

WEAO/49 is already running its post-transition digital WEAO-DT from its transmitter facility in the Akron TV/FM "antenna farm" in Copley Township. Analog 49 will stay on the air until the digital transition date, late February 17, 2009...

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