Monday, December 22, 2008

Assorted Holiday Stuff

As we wind down before Christmas and New Years, an announcement.

As we hinted earlier, OMW will indeed be on official "Holiday Hiatus" starting late tomorrow. We'll post a "year-end" message around the end of 2008, but not much more.

We'll definitely return on January 5th, 2009. If there are any major, breaking media news items, we'll try to at least mention them here - even during the hiatus.

But the level of "major, breaking media news" is very high over this holiday break...i.e. it'll basically take a major radio or TV station sale, a radio format change, a major local radio or TV personality's exit or retirement and such to bring us here. We won't be attending to the usual minutiae during the hiatus.

But to clear out our "hold file", here's some of that minutiae now...

SUNDAY, NOT SUNDAY: OMW hears that Local TV FOX affiliate WJW/8 Cleveland may be cutting its Sunday morning newscast, with at least one high-profile layoff attached to that budget-related move.

We still find the newscast on the "FOX 8" schedule for this coming Sunday, but don't know if it will air this coming weekend.

We're told that the station is likely to air infomercials in that Sunday morning time slot...and are working to confirm the rest of the details...

AIR1 AIRS IT OUT: Educational Media Foundation's Christian music network "Air1" has another Northeast Ohio translator. Well, they're trying.

An Alert OMW Reader tipped us off to the presence of W291BV Solon at 106.1 FM, a 13 watt facility carrying the "Air1" programming, which originates from the company's network studios near Sacramento, California.

We were bored the other day, so headed for the OMW Mobile to get a bead on the facility. (Not the programming, which we can already hear on at least two translators already.)

As it turns out, W291BV is a few furlongs away from Thistledown, in Warrensville Heights just north of the North Randall border on Emery Road.

Our excursion and look into the FCC database took us to a site behind a pizza restaurant (Google Street View link here), where we found the W291BV antenna about three-quarters of the way up a cell phone tower, with an FM yagi receive antenna about halfway up.

That FM receive antenna - pointing to the northeast - is presumably using off-air pickup to get EMF's full-power Air1 affiliate in Ashtabula County, WCVJ/90.9 Jefferson. We heard the WCVJ legal ID in our time within W291BV's signal range.'s apparently not ready for prime time yet. Even parked right at the tower site, in the pizza restaurant's parking lot, the station was distorted and unlistenable - let alone along the I-271/I-480 corridor it presumably intends to serve.

There's some sort of technical problem, and we don't know if it's with their transmitter or with the pickup of WCVJ, or both.

106.1 is probably being shoehorned onto the dial in Warrensville Heights within an inch of its life.

It's being squeezed by two powerful Clear Channel FM stations on each second-adjacent side - WMJI/105.7 and WMVX/106.5. It's co-channel with WBBG/106.1 Niles and WVNO/106.1 Mansfield, though the distance should be enough there.

The EMF folks seem determined to plug every little hole in the FM Akron, they recently started up the surprisingly-well-performing Air1 translator at 102.5, which can be heard on car radios north of Cuyahoga Falls, even...

TROY NEFF: This is our next to last item regarding self-made Toledo "media commentator" Troy Neff.

The former host of Clear Channel WCWA/1230 "FOX Sports 1230"'s brokered morning drive talk show moved out of "Troy who?" status earlier this month, when every media outlet in the market reported his stabbing in a road rage incident near his suburban Toledo financial planning office.

Not long after, Neff lost his WCWA brokered show after firing off a self-admitted "profane" E-Mail to Clear Channel staff, upset over what he thought was the "banning" of mentioning his name on WCWA's much more popular sister news/talk station, WSPD/1370.

Since then, Neff has also been bounced from the weekly "Toledo Free Press" newspaper, over questions about his unlabeled use of content from a financial planning news service he pays for. Quoting:

A sample check revealed at least six published contributions that were copied from a service that provides content for financial advisers’ newsletters. Offending columns included those published Dec. 14, Oct. 31, July 4, May 23, Aug. 3, 2007 and July 26, 2006. The original material was distributed by P.P.S. Advertising Ltd., but the columns were published under Neff’s name. Although he is not required to, Neff said he runs a disclaimer on the material in his client newsletter. He did not submit the disclaimer to Toledo Free Press editors.

A P.P.S. spokesperson said the material is copyright-free, but the spokesperson was not aware of any precedent for a newspaper columnist using the material under his or her name.

OMW also hears that Neff is no longer on the panel of ABC O&O WTVG/13 "13abc"'s public affairs show "Conklin and Company".

Thus, for the moment, it would appear the correct descriptive term for Neff is "financial planner", and since we don't cover news about financial planning businesses, it's the next-to-last mention for him here.

Mr. Neff has indicated that he'll return to the Toledo radio airwaves, presumably by buying time on another station - such as Cumulus talk WTOD/1560 or Matrix talk WNWT/1520.

Since we don't take ads here, and aren't sending him a bill for the publicity...we'll dutifully announce the new "home" of his brokered show, and that's about it for him here...

CBS SELLS OFF DENVER: CBS Radio has found an actual buyer to take its Denver cluster.

In an age where radio stations are about as difficult to sell as cars, CBS will flip its three Denver FM stations to Wilks Broadcasting for $19.5 million in cash, reports AllAccess this Monday morning.

It's part of the company's already stated long-term strategy to exit non-major markets (Denver is the 21st largest Arbitron market).

And we mostly mention it here because Wilks and CBS have already done business before in Ohio...Wilks purchased the CBS Radio cluster in Columbus back when the company first started selling off smaller market stations.

Quoting Wilks CEO Jeff Wilks:

"We continue to believe in the power and the future of radio, and look forward to adding Denver to our portfolio of radio broadcast stations. Denver is the market where I started my career and I’m excited to come back and operate these three leading stations."

We don't know if Wilks has enough money - cash or otherwise - to buy CBS Radio's cluster of four Cleveland stations...AC WDOK/102.1, hot AC WQAL/104.1, classic rock WNCX/98.5 and alt-rock WKRK/92.3.

But with Wilks certainly able to find Ohio on a map, maybe they'd be interested.

Since Denver is now Wilks' largest market by far, the company has no major market assets that CBS could eye for a swap.

We remember back when the company first announced the CBS Radio acquisition in Columbus. Our off-blog response was nothing short of astounding, with people familiar with Wilks warning us of massive layoffs and changes (many of which did actually happen) from a "bottom line" company.

Fast forward to today, where CBS Radio itself has been laying off people in droves in Cleveland and elsewhere, in the economic downturn that has claimed a lot of radio jobs...

FIGURING THE FACTOR: The "who'll replace Bill O'Reilly on radio" picture is clearing up.

After rumors of negotiations with former New York City mayor and former Republican presidential candidate Rudy Guiliani, it turns out that one of Guiliani's 2008 primary opponents will take over the Westwood One "Radio Factor" show.

The syndicator has announced that former U.S. Senator and "Law & Order" star Fred Thompson will officially take the radio reins from O'Reilly (PDF press release) starting March 2nd.

O'Reilly is leaving long-form radio with his last show on February 27th, reportedly to, let's see here, "concentrate on his FOX News Channel TV show". The "O'Reilly Factor" host is expected to still record short-form radio commentaries for Westwood One.

Before running for the nation's top job in the 2008 Republican primary race, Thompson had been tapped as a "special commentator" and fill-in for Paul Harvey by the folks at ABC Radio Networks.

(And to make this story even odder, yet ANOTHER 2008 Republican presidential contender, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, has added short-form ABC Radio commentaries to his weekend FOX News Channel talk show. We're not sure if another radio network has, say, Ron Paul on speed dial.)

The new "Fred Thompson Show" will, like O'Reilly's show before it, only take the two-hour 12 noon-2 PM Eastern slot.

The situation's also a bit murkier, since the radio arm of O'Reilly's primary TV employer, FOX, has already announced that it's moving its own syndicated evening host/former FNC personality John Gibson into the 12 noon-3 PM slot in mid-January.

O'Reilly's show has very limited Northeast Ohio clearance, with a live clearance on Spirit Media talk/variety WELW/1330 Willoughby, and a late night weekend play on Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron".

We don't know what WELW will do from noon to 2 PM, but we'd bet on WNIR keeping the Westwood One satellite receiver tuned to record Thompson when he starts in March...


Chuck Matthews Blog said...

re: CBS Denver. Can you day FIRESALE?

Inflated or not... OmniAmerica sold WMJI/WMMS/WHK (I believe) to Nationwide in '97 for $60 million.

Scott said...

Ponder this...CBS got those Denver stations as part of the 2000 spinoff from the AMFM/Clear Channel merger that also included WDOK, WQAL and whatever 92.3 was then (WZJM?)

There were about 18 stations that CBS got, all in medium-large markets like Cleveland, Phoenix, San Diego, Orlando and Denver.

Total sale price: $1.4 BILLION - or north of $78 million per station.

Now CBS is unloading those three Denver FMs for $19 million. How the mighty have fallen...

n-dizzle said...

I'm not surprised they want to can Sunday morning. I am surprised that WOIO continues to broadcast their 7-9 AM show. However, I do wonder who the "high profile" layoff will be. There really isn't anyone "high profile" on the Sunday morning show.

Chuck Matthews Blog said...

Living in Sandusky I get both Cleveland and Toledo local TV.

Hands down Disney O&O WTVG/13 Action News is the best in both markets.

From graphics, to set, to transmission, to talent, WTVG is above them all.

johnbasalla said...

It is both interesting and sad how EMF is getting all those little stations. Sad, because if you'll recall, in the mid 1990s a pirate Latino music station signed on at 91.9 or 90.9 which are now two frequencies used for "Air 1". The pirate was so successful that the Plain Dealer (not knowing of its illegal status) ran a front page article about it and soon a whole bunch of Latino pirates popped up with even one or two on the commercial band. Obviously there was a market for this kind of local programming. Eventually the pirates disappeared. Too bad Cleveland's Latino community didn't or couldn't get one of those frequencies to serve the near West side community which has grown since the mid 1990s.

Neil said...

I wonder how long Fred Thompson will last as a radio host. He almost ran Paul Harvey's program into the ground. He is the reason that WTAM, WKBN, and other Clear Channel stations dropped the show.

But then fortunately he ran for president and gave up the Harvey gig, opening the way for Ron Chapman, who is doing a very good job.

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