Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Packed Wednesday

This one's full of both radio and TV items, news updates and enough to make us want to charge you for it. Hey, a Primary Editorial Voice(tm)'s gotta eat somehow.

But alas, fortunately for you, OMW is free, as always...

MORE 92.3 FALLOUT: It's not really a format change, per se...just a deeper playlist and a more shallow staff list. But we're still picking out the details from the changes of the newly revamped CBS Radio alt-rocker WKRK/92.3, now known as "Radio 92.3".

As befitting the bare bones name (a la the Clear Channel "Radio" rockers in the Columbus and Cincinnati markets), 92.3's new on-air voice is doing sort of an alt-rock version of the voice of the adult hits "JACK FM"' format.

We've heard the voice assure listeners that unlike other stations, "Radio 92.3" won't talk over song intros and outros. The "JACK FM" attitude isn't QUITE's more of a "sit back and listen to the music" thing, with no "hype". (Isn't a "too cool for the room" FM station with a stylized logo a bit of "hype" on its own? Just wondering.)

Anyway, OMW has confirmed that yes, the weekend specialty local music show "The Inner Sanctum" will continue to be heard on 92.3, which has been its home since it lost alt-rocker "The End" (WENZ/107.9) when it changed to hip-hop "Z107.9" a few years ago.

We hear the composition of the show hasn't changed, with Pat The Producer, Jim Benson and Matt Wardlaw still aboard...and some new things are in the works.

As for "Radio 92.3", we wouldn't have minded a brief format stunt of playing TV theme songs, something Clear Channel Columbus market rocker WRXS/106.9 Dublin did before it started its new format - using the moniker "Television 106.9".

(That's a nod to OMW reader - we think he still is, though we've definitely been off his Christmas Card list - John Crenshaw, CC's Columbus operations manager...)

WHILE WE'RE AT CBS CLEVELAND: OMW can also confirm that classic rock WNCX/98.5's morning drive show has officially slimmed to two hosts - Scott Miller and Mike Olszewski.

We're hearing from inside the station that the show's third host, Kim Mihalik, is no longer with WNCX. The reason? She's a victim of what we'd call, if it weren't for the general state of the economy and the media business, "CBS Radio Disease".

Yes, Mihalik is out due to CBS Radio budget cuts.

A quick look at the AllAccess "Net News" scroll shows she's among dozens the company has released nationwide just in the past few weeks due to the chain slimming staff sizes pretty much everywhere.

Among the latest moves - "major staff changes" at the New York City "K-Rock" sister station to our local 92.3, WXRK/92.3. The Cleveland market station carried those calls during the New York station's run as "Free FM" talk WFNY, before becoming WKRI, and eventually, taking the WKRK calls from Detroit's former "Free FM" talker, now sports WXYT-FM.

CBS Radio is obviously not alone in sending a lot of people to radio's beach, which isn't feeling very playful these days. But the company's size and reach makes the list larger...a list that Clear Channel employees, for example, hope won't be duplicated on their side of the ledger in this current economic environment.

Mihalik joined the WNCX Morning Show at its start, first co-hosting a program also known as "Mud, Mihalik and Mike"...the local replacement after CBS Radio canned former "Van Halen" frontman David Lee Roth's attempt to replace Howard Stern. (Of course, one of the other Stern replacements was Shane "Rover" French, who, well, eventually left 92.3 for Clear Channel and WMMS/100.7.)

"Mud" was the artist formerly known as Wynn Richards ("M105", WGAR/1220)...who was replaced a while back by former WDOK/102.1 "Soft Rock 102.1" programmer Scott Miller.

And Mihalik is remembered, of course, from her long stint as Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100's afternoon co-host alongside Mike Trivisonno...

SPEAKING OF JOB CUTS: A former Northeast Ohio sportscaster and radio personality was recently the victim of one, and you know it's bad in radio when someone like Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton has to actively announce his availability.

But yes, he did, via AllAccess:

Sports talk radio veteran LEE "HACKSAW" HAMILTON is available now for fill-ins and auditions for the holidays and beyond (and full-time as well).

The 22 year vet of sports radio has been doing some work lately appearing on SIRIUS XM RADIO's MAD DOG SPORTS channel and on XM's HOME PLATE baseball talk channel, and has been filling in at FOX SPORTS RADIO and at NPR affiliate KPBS-F/SAN DIEGO.

His resume includes a long run on the various incarnations of XTRA SPORTS in SAN DIEGO (on XETRA-A and, most recently, KLSD-A, where he was caught in the recent CLEAR CHANNEL budget cutting) and on KLAC-A/LOS ANGELES.

It's been a long time since Hamilton was here in Northeast Ohio, where he did play-by-play for the World Hockey Association's Cleveland Crusaders (via then-WWWE/1100 "3WE", today's Clear Channel talk WTAM), and also did a regular weeknight sports talk show in the mid-1970's on Akron's WHLO/640 "News/Talk 64", then owned by Susquehanna (today, a company that is now part of Cumulus).

WHLO went from talk to all news to middle of the road music before being sold to religious operator Mortenson, then to, of course, is a talk station today under Clear Channel's ownership.

After a stint in Phoenix, "Hacksaw" landed in Southern California...with the very extensive resume listed above - and some stuff not listed, including some NFL play-by-play experience.

It was thought he would be joining Sirius XM's "Mad Dog Sports" channel on a full-time basis, but that apparently never came to fruition aside from some of the fill-ins mentioned above.

"Mad Dog Sports" is the channel featuring former WFAN/660 New York City sports talker Christopher Russo, best known as for his long stint as "Mad Dog" of the station's "Mike and the Mad Dog" afternoon drive show.

Anyway, it's a symptom of the state of the radio industry that a "name" veteran like Lee Hamilton has to go out and actively solicit fill-in or full-time gigs...

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BILL DRAKE: Tributes have been pouring out from all over the radio industry about the man who could basically be called the architect of top 40 radio in the late 1960's and 1970's, Bill Drake.

The Associated Press reports that Drake died over the weekend at age 71.

Local media consultant and former WMMS program director John Gorman weighs in on his Gorman Media Blog:

The secret to Bill Drake’s format was that it wasn’t complex. It was, quite unmistakably, logical. Play the hits in a structured format that refined one’s air personality. The fewer words one uses makes each word more important. He perfected top 40’s forward motion.

Anyone with any involvement in radio, or any knowledge of that time frame, knows that Drake crafted and cared for a number of stations with tight-sounding, high-energy top 40 formats that made the music, well, "sing"....not to mention making both the station and on-air personality seem "larger than life".

He was the creator of the "Boss Radio" concept, mostly used out west (the air personalities were "Boss Jocks" out there), but his influence on top 40 radio spread coast to coast.

It never directly spread to Cleveland, but it had a major influence here in Northeast Ohio anyway.

Top 40 here was exemplified by stations like WIXY/1260, but the region was well within earshot of a Drake-consulted powerhouse - CKLW/800 "The Big 8", booming its 50,000 watts across much of the eastern U.S. from just across the river from Detroit, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The open waters of Lake Erie delivered the CKLW signal like an express train right into much of Northern Ohio.

CKLW is nowhere near its "Big 8" days now, as a local talk station targeting listeners only in Canada, if you don't count a stray American fan of Dr. Joy Browne, Clark Howard or George Noory, U.S. syndicated talkers heard in today's "AM 800" lineup.

But the success the station had this far south and east of Windsor/Detroit in its top 40 music days was immense. Former CKLW staffer Steve Hunter talks about it in an article on the "Classic CKLW" web site:

One of the most important and unique facts about CKLW: for a long, relatively uninterrupted time in the late 1960's and early 1970's, the Big 8 was not only #1 in the ratings in Detroit, but also #1 or, occasionally, just below #1, in Cleveland and Toledo and Akron/Canton. This was practically unheard-of at the time, even in the days of powerhouse AM rockers, and drew a LOT of attention to CKLW from other programmers, bringing even more renown to Bill Drake.

It brought a lengthy Cleveland career to one Larry Morrow, who was doing nights on CKLW as "Duke Windsor". WIXY/1260's Norman Wain lured him to Cleveland after seeing his CKLW nighttime show top the ratings here from its home base far from Northeast Ohio.

Apparently, Larry Morrow wasn't the only evening air personality Wain imported from "The Big 8" - the Steve Hunter article linked above says he made the same move - CKLW to WIXY - as well.

As such, Bill Drake's influence was felt both directly and indirectly in Cleveland radio - even if he never set foot in Northeast Ohio...


YEKIMI said...

I seem to remember that back in the early 80s when I was out dropping off T&Rs to various staions and what is now WRQK [then either WINW or WOOS] had a Top 40 format that was on auto-pilot and I believe it was being programmed with the Drake-Chenault format. I vaguely remember because it was the only station in the area that I can recall playing "Sausalito Summernight" by Diesel.

Neil said...

Some country music stations tried the "Drake format" also. I worked at one of them, WGNU in St. Louis, in the early 70s.

Drew said...

"The new station is a vagina with a transmitter. and an iPod." -ctownnerd from a Opie and Anthony message board in referring to 92.3 radio

Who ever thought of this should be FIRED at ONCE

Chuck Matthews Blog said...

I can't stand stations that "respect the music by not talking over intros"... crap. Just plain crap. IMO that 70s stoner rock mentality has been over for sometime. Forward motion. Whether Top 40, rock or AC, forward motion all the time.