UPDATE 10:29 PM 12/5/08: Umm, oops.
Our apologies to Akron Beacon Journal popular culture writer and OMW reader Rich Heldenfels, for posting this item without yet reading his detailed story on the WKYC changes in Friday's paper.
Rich's item even contains some of the information we listed as "not confirmed 100%" below, including the weekend anchor moves involving Jeff Maynor and Kim Wheeler. We guess "not confirmed" meant "we hadn't read the Beacon yet" in this case.
Since we're pretty sure Rich reads here, our apologies again.
Regular readers will tell you that it's not the first time we've overlooked a newspaper story on a media item. We apologize pretty well around these parts, and we always try to give proper credit for items that appear elsewhere first. When, well, we're aware they're out there.
Anyway, the Heldenfels piece also answers a question we had - as WKYC news director Rita Andolsen says the station's Akron bureau at Main and Market won't see a permanent bureau chief after Eric Mansfield moves his work desk north, and moves into the 7 PM anchor slot.
But Andolsen tells Heldenfels, as Eric has also said himself, that the soon-to-be-former Akron bureau chief is hanging onto his Akron/Canton area contacts, and will still be working on stories in the area - even if his overall beat expands to the entire Northeast Ohio region.
In an update not contained in the Rich Heldenfels story, Mansfield noted on Friday's edition of Western Reserve PBS' "NewsNight Akron" that he'll remain as anchor of that weekly Akron-based news discussion program (Fridays at 9 PM on WNEO/45-WEAO/49)...now based next to what will soon be his "old desk" at WKYC's Akron bureau.
And if he's working on an Akron-based story on a Friday, he can use the facilities WKYC still has at the United Building to work on the story...before turning to the other side to host "NNA", though having to be in Cleveland at 7 PM will certainly affect the taping schedule for the Western Reserve PBS show.
Andolsen says the station will maintain its Akron bureau facilities, in what's now a combined facility for WKYC, Western Reserve PBS and NPR affiliate WKSU/89.7.
Our original item is below...and again, congratulations to Eric on a well-deserved move up!
We'd call it a "Friday Clear Out", though right now we're not sure if this will be our final item of the week. Read on, anyway...
MORE WKYC MOVES: Yesterday's announced changes at Gannett Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC/3 aren't the only changes in store at 13th and Lakeside. (And really, in the current environment, we don't think we can close that "change" book for ANY broadcast outlet.)
We have not confirmed these moves, but OMW hears that WKYC is apparently splitting up the weekend morning anchor team of Jeff Maynor and Kim Wheeler, with Maynor heading for the weekend evening newscasts, and Wheeler staying behind in mornings - both anchoring solo.
And as a result, it sounds like recently installed weekend anchor Chris Tye returns to a 5-day-a-week weekday reporting slot.
We caution again - we haven't confirmed this 100%, but our sources are good. And the moves seem reasonable when you read the language attached to Romona Robinson being named the solo anchor of the 6 PM and 11 PM weekday shows after Tim White's departure.
We'll quote (again) from an item we linked yesterday, from our friend Frank Macek's "Director's Cut" blog:
"...as newsrooms across the nation begin shifting away from traditional two anchor teams for their newscasts."
With Romona "going solo" in weekdays, it makes less sense to have dual anchors on weekends.
Of course, with the appointment of Eric Mansfield and Carole Sullivan as 7 PM anchors, that'll be one time slot with two anchors...but the 7 PM show is a little different, and has no news competition in the market. Oh, and WKYC has no 5 PM show. (Sorry, "Dr. Phil" fans...we're not. Fans of "Dr. Phil", that is...)
And as far as we know, Mark Nolan and Abby Ham continue as a team on WKYC's morning show. But again, that's a different kind of show...we don't expect to see any solo-anchored weekday morning news shows anywhere, at least in any large market...
DIGITAL TV SOFT TEST: We've been railing about this for so long, we're wondering if they did it just to shut us up.
The Ohio Association of Broadcasters has lined up TV stations statewide for an analog shutoff "soft test", on December 17th from 7:30-7:35 PM, two months before the "real thing". Stations will air a five minute interruption alerting analog viewers that they need to take action before February 17th to avoid losing their signal.
Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio guru John Kiesewetter has more in his blog. (We can't get the link to work in Firefox 3.0, so either use Internet Explorer or another browser if you're in the same boat...or use the "Blogs and Forums" > "Entertainment Blogs" menu to get to Kiese on that junk-laden, piece of crap website.)
We're just guessing here, but it could look similar to this video (YouTube) from the Washington DC market. We've seen the exact same video airing in at least one other market, and we believe it's probably being given to local TV stations by the NAB or some other trade group to use in this testing.
But viewers in Ohio's TV markets will also be directed to a local phone bank if they have any questions about the transition.
In Cleveland, we hear the phone bank will be hosted at ideaStream PBS affiliate WVIZ/25...an oddity, when you consider that WVIZ's temporary digital signal can be seen (without cable) by roughly a few thousand lucky souls in southern Cuyahoga County...
A "FREQY" CHANGE, PART 2: We told you earlier about the format change at Beacon Broadcasting gospel WRTK/1540 Niles, the Mahoning Valley station now pumping out its own Christmas music instead of the usual satellite-fed "Rejoice - Musical Soul Food".
We have some more details on the flip, thanks to the station's minimal, but newly established web site. Quoting:
. . .Coming Soon . . . Freq1540 AM will be playing Christmas music from November 27 (Thanksgiving Day) through January 4, 2009!
Then January 5 the all-new Freq1540 will be released!
With a new logo - with the legend "Reaching The Kingdom" - we'll take a guess...and this is only a guess...that on January 5th, Beacon will simulcast the original "Freq" in the 5-station chain straddling the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA "Freq 107".
Christian rock music on an AM daytimer, to extend the FM's range? Why not?
Beacon certainly has a history of shuffling around formats and simulcasts, sometimes in head-scratching ways. Remember early in the Beacon days, when the pre-Beacon "Wexy 107" oldies format was fully moved to new AM WLOA/1470 Farrell PA, complete with the "Wexy 107" name?
Or, they could mount a more adult skewing CCM-ish format to complement 107.1. Again, at this point, we are just guessing.
The "Freq 1540" website promises "Listen Live 24/7", but we see no link to a webcast.
So, we took the existing WANR streaming audio URL, changed the call letters to "WRTK", and there it is...
The "Freq 1540" Windows Media stream.
BYE, BYE, BILL: As hinted earlier, rumors become reality.
Popular FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly is going to only have one "Factor" soon, his TV "O'Reilly Factor"...as O'Reilly and Westwood One confirm the end of his two-hour weekday syndicated "Radio Factor" is near.
The show will end, says troubled Westwood One, "in the first quarter of 2009".
O'Reilly tells the New York Post's David Hinckley:
"The media business is getting more and more intense," O'Reilly said Thursday. "We've got to keep the TV show at the level we have it now, and that means more and more time to keep it competitive and fresh. I've been working 60, 65 hours a week and I just can't keep doing that."
OK, so O'Reilly just signed a new multi-million dollar, multi-year deal with FOX for his TV show, with more work ahead.
But it's no secret in the radio business that the FNC host, on radio, basically failed to do what he first set out to do - provide a serious challenge to the early afternoon time slot's entrenched superstar, Premiere's Rush Limbaugh. Quoting the New York Post again:
"I knew my show couldn't be ideological," he said. "Going up against [Rush] Limbaugh, that would be suicidal. Why would a listener who's already got Rush turn to someone else to hear the same things?
"So I was doing a show that was fact-based. It was more news/talk. And we were very competitive. In some cities, like Boston and St. Louis, we beat Limbaugh outright."
Umm, OK. And in some cities, like New York City, O'Reilly got his lunch handed to him again and again. He was tape delayed into afternoon drive in the Big Apple on 50,000 watt WOR/710, where ABC Radio/Premiere's Sean Hannity beat him like a rag doll.
WOR isn't waiting for O'Reilly to turn off the "Radio Factor" microphones. The station recently announced a number of schedule changes, including the addition of Premiere's Glenn Beck and United Stations' Lou Dobbs.
That, radio wise, translates to something like: "he's giving it up, right? Right? We can change the schedule now, right?".
Here in Northeast Ohio, O'Reilly is not even remotely a factor. He counts a clearance on Spirit Media talk/variety WELW/1330 Willoughby as his Cleveland market affiliate, and Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 in the Akron market runs "The Radio Factor" on delay late on weekend evenings.
(And while checking the WNIR schedule, we see that no, WNIR's long-rumored web site upgrade is still not live. We're wondering the Internet, as we know it, will still exist by the time it goes up. We'll probably be in the year 2020 with "Internet 15.0 3-D", and WNIR will finally get its "Web 2.0" site up with streaming mono audio...)
WBQC-US: Another case where we wonder if this ran because of us.
Thanksgiving weekend, we noted that a name change for Cincinnati LPTV/Class A outlet WBQC-CA/38 to "WKRP" made the national news, and was a dependable item on national radio newscasts all day on Saturday.
We also noted that from here, at least, it appears that - despite an Associated Press story on the name change - that WBQC-CA did not "change its call letters" to any form of the moniker made famous by the late 70's/early 80's sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati". (We're pretty sure Jennifer could have handled that up at the front desk, if it was a problem.)
As it turns out, the news that "WKRP Cincinnati" existed only as a branding identifier and a trademark - not call letters - made it to the AP wire, with this correction:
The station refers to itself as WKRP, reminiscent of the 1970s hit television show "WKRP in Cincinnati," and changed its trademark to WKRP Cincinnati but did not change its call letters, said Elliott Block, general manager.
If the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Kiesewetter made the correction to his original story on the name change, we can't find it in that aforementioned junk-laden piece of crap that masquerades as the Enquirer's web site. (It's enough to drive you into the arms of the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Cleveland.com and ITS junk-laden website, and that's saying a LOT...)