Friday, February 29, 2008

Hey, THERE'S The "Q" in "Q92"!

It took them over five years, but D.A. Peterson Canton market top 40 outlet "Q92" finally has the station's historic calls back.

WDJQ/92.5 Alliance became WZKL in 1992, after a format change to oldies ("Kool 92"). But after abandoning oldies to return to a hit music format, the station wasn't able to reclaim the "WDJQ" calls...since the calls landed on a U.S. Coast Guard ship - the Damon B. Bankston, if you're curious. (And no, the ship wasn't pumping out today's favorite hit music.)

OMW hears the process to get the calls back from the Coast Guard started in 2002, and here we are, five years and change later - "Q92" can now identify itself as WDJQ, again. Though we have no idea why what sounds like a cut-and-dried process to us took over five years...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another NewsChannel 5 Departure - A Big One

A high-profile face and name is about to leave local television, and in specific, his current employer - Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5".

OMW hears that it's already been announced at 3001 Euclid... reporter/anchor Jack Marschall will exit the building, heading out of the business for a job as Director of Community Relations for his home city of Parma.

This has been Jack's second tour of duty on Euclid, with a previous stint in the mid-1980's. And of course, he is also known for his time on WUAB/43's old "Ten O'Clock News" newscast, which was supplanted by the 10 PM edition of WOIO/19's "19 Action News" when both stations became co-owned.

In recent times, Jack Marschall had served as a traffic reporter - dubbed Jack "Air" Marschall - on Channel 5's "Good Morning Cleveland". He's also filed news stories for the station's later newscasts...

RIP: Allen Saunders, Former WHLO VP/GM

The Akron Beacon Journal reports this morning that former WHLO/640 vice president/general manager Allen Saunders, who went on to become the first voice of CNN, has died at the age of 84.

Saunders guided the Akron station from the early 60's into the late 70's, and then became Cable News Network's first "voice of God". It took no less than James Earl Jones to replace him as the news network's voice.

The article (written by former WHLO'er Jim Carney) doesn't mention that Saunders was indeed WHLO's own "voice of God" in its station imaging.

As an early devotee of the station and its first news/talk format under Susquehanna in the mid-1970's, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) will always remember Mr. Saunders' voice booming for the station's talk radio "hour openers"... "NOWWW...from WHLO News/Talk64!...something DIFFERENT in radio entertainment".

It was a voice that drew you in from the other room...letting you know that what would follow was worth checking out.

And no, the use of the station's general manager to voice station identification, hour openers and promos wasn't a cost cutting move for WHLO. It was an imperative, with THAT voice...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Willie Strikes Again

Clear Channel talk WLW/700 and Premiere Radio host Bill Cunningham has managed to make himself the talk of the nation, politically.

You've probably been living under a rock in the past day if you haven't heard of his remarks warming up a Cincinnati audience for an appearance by presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

McCain reportedly did not hear Cunningham taking verbal potshots at Democratic candidate Barack Obama, or his use of the Democratic candidate's middle name (Hussein). But reports out of Cincinnati say the Arizona Senator heard of the comments indirectly from an aide, and distanced himself from what Cunningham said.

We'll touch on this more, Mr. Cunningham barely needs us to give him more publicity. The "Big One" host and host of Premiere's "Live On Sunday Night" has gotten far more attention than from just a small Ohio-based media blog...

RIP Myron Cope

We'll admit that the first time we heard legendary Pittsburgh Steelers radio voice Myron Cope, we didn't understand why he was so popular over in Western Pennsylvania. Maybe our head-scratching was compounded by the fact that the Steelers broadcast in question was being aired by Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 in Cleveland, on a Browns bye week.

Anyway, no matter if we understood his appeal or not, Myron Cope was a broadcasting icon in Pittsburgh.

Cope died this morning at a suburban Pittsburgh nursing home at the age of 79.

And since OMW nominally covers at least parts of Western Pennsylvania near the Ohio border, we'll add our own "RIP, Myron Cope" here...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Northeast Ohio's Digital TV Transition

Note: The Blogger interface sometimes munges URL links with ampersands in them.

If any of the below links don't work, go to the FCC's TV Query page, put in any of the below call letters, and when you get a station's information returned, click on "Application List" anywhere it appears. You'll be able to find the proper documents there...look for the ones filed this past week.


Less than one year from now, all those big, analog signals that have fed Northeast Ohio TV sets our local stations for decades are going to be shut off, as part of the federally-mandated digital TV transition. (Please, don't tell us that any OMW reader is just learning of this!)

We spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening sifting through newly filed FCC documents. Every full-power station in the country was required, by last Tuesday, to file a status report on how they are handling their path to the digital transition date, February 17, 2009.

The verdict?

The largest group of Northeast Ohio stations have built out their post-transition digital facilities, and will just flip the switch to turn off the analog transmitter on that date...continuing on the same digital channel they're using right now.

The following stations have some sort of extenuating circumstances. If you don't see a Cleveland or Youngstown market TV station on the following list, it is in the first category. The list is sorted in order of current analog channel number.

The stations listed below have a link to their report about the transition, and much of the detail is contained in PDF files linked to the bottom of that report.

Cleveland market:

WKYC - As has already been announced, Gannett's Cleveland NBC affiliate is abandoning both analog 3 and the current digital channel, 2, for digital channel 17. No matter what, they'll have to wait until TBN's WDLI/17 switches off their own analog transmitter on that channel, on 2/17/09.

The station has to resolve Canadian coordination issues for the new DT 17 facility, as listed in the attachment:

Although it is WKYC’s understanding that the Canadian government intends to approve the station’s channel 17 facilities, until coordination has concluded, WKYC cannot order its channel 17 antenna, as the parameters of the station’s final digital channel have not yet been conclusively set.

WKYC cites the uncertainties of Northeast Ohio weather post-November, and expects to file for an STA (Special Temporary Authority) to operate WKYC-DT on its current channel 2 until the DT 17 facility construction is completed.


WEWS - The Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate will remain on digital channel 15 after the transition, abandoning out of core analog channel 5.

But in October 2008, it'll have to do some antenna movement to complete its post-transition facility.

Basically, the station's current top mounted antennas - digital and analog - have to be moved to a side-mount position, so WEWS engineers can add more to the tower to move the new digital antenna to its prescribed position.

Aside from a temporary reduction in both the analog and pre-transition digital signal between this time and the new digital antenna's installation, it's likely not many will notice a change...


WJW - The Cleveland FOX O&O (for now) will abandon its pre-transition channel 31 digital facility, and will camp out digitally on good ol' Channel 8.

The station will have to file for a new construction permit to specify its use of the analog antenna for the new digital installation, as per the application:


Of course, by the time the digital transition date hits, WJW will likely be in the hands of its new owner, Local TV LLC...assuming there are no major delays in that transaction...


WVPX - The Akron licensed ION TV-owned facility will flash cut from analog to digital on Channel 23 on 2/17/09.

The station says it'll has "identified" the equipment it'll use, and will convert its analog transmitter for digital operation on the existing analog antenna. The status report says this move, starting in June 2008, will result in a reduction of the current analog service area by "33%".

WVPX never lit up its pre-transition digital signal on channel 59 due to numerous mostly technical reasons, many of them having to do with issues coordinating with Canada. And channel 59 is "out of core" post-transition, so this is the only option WVPX had...


WVIZ - Believe it or not, after years of headaches, there's some possible "good news" for Cleveland's PBS affiliate in the land of digital TV.

WVIZ will be staying on its pre-transition digital channel 26, abandoning 25. But the Ideastream-owned PBS affiliate has had a long-running legal dispute with CBS Radio, which owns its tower site (CBS' WNCX/98.5 is there).

Is there an end, soon? Read the report...


Once that agreement takes effect, the application says a side-mounted temporary facility at the North Royalton site would take about six months, and they'll request an STA for it. They say the final, top-mounted, post-transition facility "WOULD NOT BE IN PLACE UNTIL SOME TIME BETWEEN FEBRUARY 17, 2009 AND AUGUST 17, 2009". WVIZ's application says the station would apply for an extension to cover that, if this plan is what is decided upon.

But whatever power level the side-mounted STA facility would specify, either way, WVIZ-DT would finally be on an actual tower, and not on a small tower that barely clears the roof of the station's former studio building on Brookpark Road in Parma...


WKBN - This one is less complex than it looks.

The Youngstown CBS station is abandoning analog 27 for digital 41, and has an STA to run pretty much close to its final post-transition facility...only with a side-mounted antenna.

The station says it plans to move to a top-mounted antenna, and may need an STA to continue running the current STA facility until the move is complete - which due to weather, may not happen until the spring of 2009.

To viewers, like with WEWS-DT, the change may not even be noticeable...


WNEO - The Alliance-licensed, Youngstown market half of Kent-based PBS affiliate "PBS 45 & 49" is moving its digital operations to the current analog channel 45 after the transition.

Well, that's not quite accurate.

The station's application says the "flash cut" of 45 to digital, and the end of the DT 46 operation, will actually happen BEFORE the 2/17/09 digital transition date, making WNEO the first full-power analog station in the entire region to shut down.

The station says it'll retrofit the current DT 46 transmitter to channel 45, and since they'll be using the analog 45 antenna for the digital post-transition DT 45...

"...NETO anticipates that analog service will also be terminated after November 19, 2008. Once the retrofitting of the transmitter is completed, NETO will connect the transmitter to the existing (top-mounted) channel 45 antenna and commence operations on its post-transition channel."

We'll assume that WNEO is ensuring no disruption of service to local cable operators and satellite providers.

And over in Akron, sister WEAO-DT isn't moving from channel 50, using its current facilities...


That's it for now. Every other operator in the region will stay on the current digital channel, and use the current digital facility, after the transition.

Yes, this means more grief for those who have trouble picking up the digital signal of Raycom Cleveland market CBS affiliate WOIO/19, which will continue to camp out on digital channel 10.

The problem here is mainly for those along Lake Erie, where interference comes from analog CFPL-TV London, Ontario...which barrels across the lake into lakeshore communities like Lakewood and Euclid.

Since Canada has no hard digital TV transition date, that CFPL channel 10 analog signal isn't going away any time soon.

At least viewers in the southwestern part of the Cleveland market won't have to contend with interference from WBNS out of Columbus after next February. WBNS, also on analog channel 10, is keeping its digital facility on channel 21 post-transition...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Two Quick Items

And after this, coming later today, a rundown on the digital TV transition and what local stations are doing in Northeast Ohio.

Two short items, though...

BERNARD'S PROBLEMS: Inside Radio reports that Bernard Radio, owners of three Youngstown market radio stations (WASN/1500, WGFT/1330 and WRBP/101.9), and two Columbus market stations (WVKO/1580 and WVKO-FM/103.1), could be on the block.

After battling with former partners in the D.B. Zwirn "Special Opportunities Fund", the parent of Bernard Radio, Inside Radio reports that Daniel Zwirn is telling them that he's going to sell off assets. Zwirn's fund loaned money to the Ohio stations' former owners, Stop 26 Riverbend Productions, and took over operation of the five stations under the Bernard Radio banner after Stop 26 was forced into bankruptcy court. Bernard has also owned stations in the Dallas-Ft. Worth radio market, but those are already being sold.

It's another chapter for stations that have already been through a lot. We're wondering - is this where Beacon Broadcasting's Harold Glunt steps in, at least in Youngstown? We know Mr. Glunt (WANR/1570, WLOA/1470, along with WEXC/107.1 and WGRP/940 Greenville PA) was kicking the tires on the three stations now owned by Bernard Radio in that market... before the company decided to operate them.

Bernard's WVKO(AM) is being run in an LMA by Gary Richards and "Cowtown Communications, LLC"...

"THE WORD" LOSING YOUNGSTOWN MARKET SISTER STATION: AllAccess reports that Salem Communications has agreed to sell Christian talk/teaching WHKZ/1440 Warren to Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation for a reported price of $550,000.

WHKZ, the long-ago locally-run WRRO, has mostly been operated as a simulcast of Cleveland Christian talker WHKW/1220 "The Word".

WHKZ has sold time to religious broadcasters in the Youngstown/Warren market, and also runs Salem syndicated conservative talker Hugh Hewitt - Hewitt is a native of Warren...

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Rover Update

More news this afternoon out of Camp Rover, soon to be based at Clear Channel's Oak Tree World Domination HQ in suburban Cleveland.

OMW hears that while former WKRK/92.3 "K-Rock" morning chien Shane "Rover" French and his gang won't be heard on "Rover's Morning Glory's" new home, rock WMMS/100.7, until April 1st... Rover and his minions will start doing live shows again on Monday.

Sources tell us that from Monday until the show's Cleveland return, "RMG" will be heard live on the syndicated affiliates that have still carried the Rochester NY and in Memphis TN.

Listeners report that both stations have continued to carry the program, in "best of mode", all week.

We hear from a mole in Independence that the syndicated-only version of the show will be produced at Oak Tree. That would explain the sudden work we reported earlier, with Clear Channel engineers modifying the WMMS studios for Rover and his crew.

Until "RMG" returns via WMMS in April, Cleveland area fans and listeners will be presumably able to hear the show on the stream of Memphis affiliate WMFS "93 X", a former CBS Radio outlet purchased by Entercom in 2006.

Though, given the traffic seen by both Rover's own website and right here at OMW, the WMFS folks may be swamped with online listening traffic starting next week.

Rover's other syndicated affiliate, Rochester's WZNE/94.1, is also a former CBS Radio outlet. And like WMFS, it's currently owned by Entercom...though it's destined to be spun off to some other company.

OMW also hears out of Oak Tree that back in Cleveland, it's been confirmed - current morning show "Bob and Tom" will slide down the schedule into middays on April 1st, when Rover Takes Over morning drive...

And Even More Silent

There's still no confirmation of what we reported here earlier - the move of now-former WKRK/92.3 "K-Rock" morning host Shane "Rover" French to Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7, scheduled to start on April 1st.

We haven't heard much in the past day or so, aside from rumblings from within Clear Channel's Oak Tree World Domination HQ that engineers are busy - reconfiguring the WMMS studio to Rover's specifications.

But there is one more small thing.

The note put up by Rover the other day on - "Uncharacteristically Quiet" - has now been cleared of its original message.

The blog post still exists, but no longer appears on the front of the website. And Rover's explanation on why he couldn't say anything has been replaced with this:


"CBS Radio", anyone? We didn't even have to ask Pat Sajak if we could buy a vowel...

The natives, aka fans of "Rover's Morning Glory", are restless. Instead of turning on the radio to 92.3 to listen to their hero, who is no longer there, they're clogging his website.

At this writing, which would be in the middle of his show if it was still airing, there are over 400 unique users on

And we have our own evidence of the apparent popularity of Mr. French. Since this story broke, we've noticed that our own daily hit count has soared to a new record...with hundreds of more visitors per day than we've ever had. (Since OMW doesn't sell advertising, that number doesn't really mean anything to us, but we thought we'd mention it.)

We're sure much of the hit traffic comes from the Rover fanbase via the comments section of the blog post we posted earlier. So, in response to one of those posters, we have one clarificatiom to someone posting about the story aired on "19 Action News" recently:

I think its funny that 19 is a CBS affiliate yet they air something about their main show going to a rival.

WOIO/19 is indeed the CBS affiliate in the Cleveland TV market.

But they're not owned by the CBS network, and have no direct connection with CBS Radio's WKRK/92.3. They merely have signed up to carry CBS's TV programming, and Rover is not "theirs".

So, so far, still status Clear Channel prepares a "doghouse" for its incoming canine...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Peter Brown's NE Ohio Radio Return - Well, Sort Of

Local sports radio fans with long memories certainly recall the controversial days of Peter Brown, who kicked up a lot of dust when he did the afternoon drive show on then-Cablevision-owned WKNR, then "SportsRadio 1220".

After leaving for network radio, Mr. Brown ended up doing afternoons on Entercom sports talk WSSP/1250 in Milwaukee - until being let go a while back.

At least temporarily, Northeast Ohio sports radio listeners will get a taste of Peter Brown's voice again.

AllAccess reports that Brown is subbing next week on Sporting News Radio, airing in the 9 AM-1 PM time slot formerly occupied by another network sports radio veteran, Tony Bruno. Brown has also worked for SNR in the past.

That move gives him one hour on the radio in Northeast Ohio...the 12 noon-1 PM part of the SNR feed that's carried by Clear Channel sports talk WARF/1350 Akron "Sportsradio 1350".

(WARF runs The Content Factory's Dan Patrick from 9 AM-noon, a move they made after Bruno's run with SNR ended.)

OMW readers might recall that we've had our own encounter with Peter Brown.

After we reported rumors that mentioned him in connection with new WKNR owner Good Karma Broadcasting, the former 'KNR host wrote to OMW...saying that though he hadn't actually talked with Good Karma's Craig Karmazin, he wanted to do just that...


UPDATE 2:39 PM 2/21/08: Hal Boedeker, TV writer for the "Orlando Sentinel", reports the Hyvonen hiring in Orlando on his "TV Guy" blog...


OMW hears that Steve Hyvonen, news director of Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5, has announced his resignation today from "NewsChannel 5".

We hear from sources at 3001 Euclid that Hyvonen has accepted a new job in Florida, where he has numerous family ties, and has worked in the past. He'll become news director of Orlando market CBS affiliate WKMG/6.

And...yes...that means he'll be working with former WOIO/19 "19 Action News" sports anchor/reporter David Pingalore, who's now the primary sports anchor for the Orlando station...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sources: WMMS Getting Rover

OMW hears from reliable sources that Clear Channel Cleveland is trumpeting the move of former WKRK/92.3 "K-Rock" morning star Shane "Rover" French, and his "Rover's Morning Glory" show, to the company's Cleveland rock outlet - WMMS/100.7.

We hear that advertising clients are being notified of the move, which is scheduled to take place on April 1st. (And no, we don't believe it's an April Fool's joke.) The notification says the WMMS deal with French and his show was finalized late Tuesday afternoon. We're told that a studio is being set up for the show at Oak Tree.

"Rover's Morning Glory" was pulled off the "K-Rock" airwaves before Monday's show, amid rumors that French and company had broken off talks with CBS Radio.

One thing we don't know - what the status of Rover's CBS deal is, or was. But the April 1st start date at WMMS would mesh with what we've heard on the other end...that CBS quickly moved to pay the rest of Rover's contract - four weeks, we were told.

We also don't know what CBS will try to do, if anything, to block the deal...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SportsTime Ohio Going 24/7 HD

Lost amid all of the Radio Canine News of the past couple of days...

Cleveland-based regional sports network SportsTime Ohio has announced the upcoming launch of a 24/7 HDTV channel.

The full-time HD channel, complete with local studio productions done in HD, is set to launch April 1st... just in time for the Cleveland Indians' regular season. STO had already announced that all Indians games, home and away, will be in HD for the regular season.

Now, who will carry it?

"We are pleased to announce that Armstrong, Buckeye CableSystem, Cox Communications, GLW Broadband, Insight Communications and most Time Warner Cable systems have agreed to carry STO HD full-time. All of our cable and satellite providers that carried our Indians games in HD last season will carry all STO HD Indians games in 2008, but the aforementioned cable systems have made the commitment to carry the full-time STO HD channel. We are working diligently with all of our cable and satellite affiliates to make STO HD a full-time channel," said Ed Niemi, VP of Affiliate Relations & Distribution for SportsTime Ohio.

Hmm. "Most" Time Warner Cable systems?

We'll have to assume that a new STO HD channel is on the docket, somewhere, when Northeast Ohio TWC systems do that previous digital channel realignment - somewhere around March 4th.

There's no word on if DirecTV or Dish Network are planning to carry the STO HD full-time channel at this time...

More Barking From Rover

Now-former CBS Radio alt-rock WKRK/92.3 "K-Rock" morning host Shane "Rover" French is saying a LITTLE more about his situation with the station's owner, CBS Radio, on his website.

But...not much more.

In a blog post titled "Uncharacteristically Quiet", the host known to his family as Shane French says he can't talk about the ongoing situation between the show and CBS Radio for one big reason.

At this time the show is still under contract to CBS. They've told us we can't talk about it, nor can we discuss what the future holds, or we'll be in breach of contract.

They're also holding the website hostage, saying we can't post anything here in regards to what's going on (who knows, they may even demand this post be removed).

Hang in there. You'll be hearing a lot more of us very soon.

OMW has heard and reported strong rumblings that Rover has already inked a deal with a competitor, thought by many to be crosstown Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7.

But we repeat that we have NOT heard any confirmation that the rumored deal is with Clear Channel and WMMS. None. Or for that matter, any decent rumors that either Mr. French or his agent have been spotted there (something an anonymous commenter has said in the comments following up Rover's latest missive).

Stay tuned...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Your Rover Update

As promised, more on what we're hearing about the apparent departure of WKRK/92.3 "K-Rock" morning doggie Shane "Rover" French from his perch at the CBS Radio Cleveland alt-rocker.

We've heard unconfirmed, but strongly sourced rumblings, that Rover has accepted an offer from a competing station. We don't understand the exact situation, but apparently, Mr. French wasn't under the provisions of a non-compete - as the folks at CBS hoped to sign him to a new contract.

Our "rumblings" are seemingly confirmed by Rover himself, in this blog post on his own website:

Posted by Rover in Untagged

Told the Eye we're gone,

They're bitter we found new friends,

Scared, they yanked us off.


We still have no information about the new destination for "Rover's Morning Glory", or for that matter, if Mr. French has a clear path to that new home.

But at least it would appear that "Rover's Run" at 92.3 is over...the end of a long, strange CBS Radio journey that once saw him touted as one of the successors to Howard Stern, had him leave Cleveland for Chicago, and ended up in a relatively quick and successful return to Cleveland...

Rover Out At "K-Rock"?

We know nothing about it yet, but...

An OMW reader alerts us that CBS Radio Cleveland alt-rocker WKRK/92.3 "K-Rock" is playing syndicated Opie & Anthony this morning - normally in afternoon drive - in place of "Rover's Morning Glory".

And "K-Rock's" website appears to have been cleansed of any mention of the station's long-time morning show, hosted by Shane "Rover" French.

We don't see anything on the "Rover's Morning Glory" site that would indicate the end of the show on WKRK.

More as we hear it...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

WLW Set Adrift?

By now, most of you probably know that Clear Channel has been ordered by the U.S. Department of Justice to sell off stations in four markets - including Cincinnati - to pave the way for the approval of the private equity fund purchase of the company (Thomas H. Lee Partners/Bain Capital). Houston, Las Vegas and San Francisco are the other three markets.

What we're all trying to figure out is...what's next? How many stations would CC have to sell in Cincinnati?

The problem is that the Lee/Bain Capital groups have a financial interest in Cumulus, which has a cluster of its own in the Queen City.

It's hard to imagine that any more than the size of one of the current clusters would be allowed to stand. CC has managed to squeeze in eight stations in Cincinnati on both the AM and FM bands, Cumulus has three FMs. Since Bain/Lee is only an investor in Cumulus, the sell-off would likely center around Kenwood.

And here's the "bombshell", floated in a blog item by Cincinnati Enquirer radio/TV guru John Kiesewetter:

The government did not specify which stations must be sold here. But I'm told that Clear Channel managers here told employees Tuesday that the company could consider selling off WLW-AM and KISS107.1, or the tandem of FOX92.1 and Radio94.1 (the old MIX94.1).

Selling off the original "Big One"? Huh?

Kiese makes the case that the WLW/Kiss combo being sold would help speed along the long-delayed deal in the eyes of regulators, and would take the station's high payroll off of CC's books.

Well, OK. We'll see.

Like we did when we first thought about it, Kiese wonders about the prospect of WLW being reunited with the one and only Randy Michaels, the former Jacor and Clear Channel radio head who cut his programming teeth there long ago.

Randy is, of course, now head of the broadcast division of media giant Tribune. And Tribune has just one radio station...a big 50,000 watter like WLW, Chicago's WGN/720.

The pairing of WLW and Randy just makes too much sense. He knows the facility like no one else. He has an affinity for the big AM sticks, probably developed from his own time at WLW.

Under Jacor, owned by now-Tribune owner Sam Zell, Randy went on a shopping spree for a bunch of heritage, flamethrowing AM all under the Clear Channel umbrella.

But as of this moment, we have no idea if buying WLW, or any other of the Cincinnati Clear Channel stations that have to be sold off, is on Randy's plate. Or, if Mr. Zell has any plans to add any more radio to the Tribune broadcast empire.

If WLW is tagged on the "sell" couldn't ask for a more perfect buyer.

If someone wants to keep WLW in its current form, with high-profile local talk personalities, little to no syndication, and with its "edgy" style...what better new operator than the man who took the station in that direction in the first place? He certainly won't have to be introduced to personalities like Bill Cunningham and Mike McConnell.

In other possibilities, Bonneville does news/talk radio, and they'd be another possible buyer...but that company has been moving the format onto FM in a lot of markets.

We'll be closely as we can from our Northeast Ohio perch...

As We Like It

Here's that announcement we promised for Monday.

Starting immediately, OMW will cease trying to maintain a regular update schedule.

We will continue this effort, but basically, we're adopting an "as we feel like posting" policy. In other words, we'll become like pretty much every other blog in America. Heh.

This isn't to say you won't still find news items here, or other things that we feel we can report on our own.

It's to say that we will no longer be self-bound by a "regular update schedule", and may even walk away from the keyboard on our semi-patented "hiatuses"...this time, unannounced.

Simply put...we'll be here when we're here, and when we're not here, we'll be somewhere else.

Sometimes, we'll be around, and post a few items within a few days. Other times, we won't be around at all, even if major local media news items come up. (Though it's quite likely that in such cases, we'll find our way here eventually.)

In the past, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) has felt the obligation to explain our absences from this blog, due to various personal and professional off-blog reasons. No more.

If you like what we have to offer, keep checking in from time to time.

And we hope to have a grand time writing what we're thinking about, local whoever's around to read it...

Monday, February 11, 2008

The End Of The Todd Kelly Story

Posted here, because of his tenuous connection to Northeast Ohio radio...

Former WDJX/Louisville KY personality and promotions guy Todd Kelly (Todd Smith) has been sentenced for defrauding listeners and donators by faking ALS, otherwise known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease".

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Smith has been sentenced to 15 years on state charges, which will be reduced to 5 years if he pays back some 74 thousand dollars in restitution, with interest. He'd already been sentenced to 84 months in prison on federal fraud charges.

Quoting the C-J article by staff writer Jason Riley:

"I deceived the good people of this Louisville community," said Smith during his sentencing in Jefferson Circuit Court.

Reading from a prepared statement, Smith, said he was "truly sorry" and asked to be given a chance to "right the wrong I did," promising to repay the money he took. "Hopefully the Louisville community will one day give me a second chance so I can start to make things right," he said.

OMW actually became involved in this, along with other radio trade media sources, when D.A. Peterson top 40 WZKL/92.5 "Q92" in the Canton market announced they'd hired Kelly/Smith as a promotions director - apparently unaware that he was heading for a lengthy term behind bars.

As such, he'd probably only be eligible for a job on a prison radio station...

A Million Dollar Big Deal

The announcement promised for today will be put up later this afternoon or tonight.

In the meantime, kudos to a vital local radio effort to raise money for an area hospital.

OMW hears that the annual WKDD/98.1 Akron Children's Hospital "Have a Heart, Do Your Part" Radiothon hit not only a record over the weekend, it hit a milestone.

The folks on Freedom Avenue tell us that the radiothon raised $1,000,760 for the hospital - the only such million-dollar-plus effort in any market below the top 15.

Here at OMW, we have a special place in both our heart and our memory for the local Children's Hospital Radiothon effort. Back in the mid-1970's, it was now-WKDD sister station WHLO/640 (a talk station under Susquehanna ownership) doing the radiothon. And as a young man, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) volunteered at least twice to help the effort...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: WDOK's Miller, Ex-Cleveland GM Out In CBS Cuts

Now, it's CBS Radio's turn to downsize.

After other companies have announced massive job losses or budget freezes, the other shoe dropped today on the CBS side of the street...with word of what appears to be a nationwide staff reduction at the company.

AllAccess reports that AC WDOK/102.1 "Soft Rock 102.1" Cleveland program director Scott Miller is out, just days after his station added new co-host Terry Moir to the "Trapper Jack" morning drive show.

Miller is a reader of OMW, and if he has anything to say to us, we'll pass it along. We'll have to assume that hot AC WQAL/104.1 program director Dave Popovich will add the WDOK programming duties to his current job programming "Q104".

Also reported out is CBS Radio's Pittsburgh vice president/general manager Jim Meltzer, a name familiar to Northeast Ohio radio watchers...he once held a similar post for Clear Channel in Cleveland.

AllAccess says his position, and one other sales management position, have been eliminated in the CBS Radio Pittsburgh cluster.

More as we learn more...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Some Midweek Stuff

This will be our only update from now until next week, barring the usual major breaking media news (format changes, major personality changes, or such).

OMW will start next week with a major announcement. Check in on Monday morning for details.

Until then...let's play some catch up!

NEW ACTING GM ON EUCLID: OMW hears that Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 Cleveland has tapped the station's marketing/promotions chief as acting general manager.

Peter Noll takes the interim role after the departure of retired GM John Butte. Or, maybe we'll adopt the nomenclature used by at least one of our "NewsChannel 5" sources -"retired".

It's an interesting move, and we'd have to agree with those who are curious that the choice didn't come from the news or sales departments. But we don't know how long the "interim" Mr. Noll's title is expected to last...

BYE, BYE SANDUSKY: OMW hears that the February 1st LMA takeover of the now-former Clear Channel stations in Sandusky has resulted in a few staff, umm, exits.

We're told that new owner BAS Broadcasting has parted company with at least two on-air staffers from AC WCPZ/102.7 "Mix 102.7", afternoon drive host Nick Vincent and evening host Ace Callahan. (We're told Vincent JUST, and we mean JUST, returned to, just over one month prior!)

We hear that the station has also dumped overnight voicetracking from Cincinnati-based Mike Weis, which is no surprise...since he presumably came in via the Clear Channel WAN.

We're also told that sister sports WLEC/1450 "SportsRadio Sandusky" parts company with "Weed After Rome" afternoon drive local talk host Dave Wiedenheft, who moved into the time slot after 1450 dumped standards for sports. Until then, he was a morning news anchor.

It's thought that morning drive shows on both stations may be safe, but we haven't heard any more about that.

And we haven't confirmed any of the above, aside from hearing it from a usually reliable source. WCPZ's website listed "Ray" working from roughly 3 PM to midnight when we visited last night, and WLEC still features "Weed After Rome" on its site.

But the stations are still camped out at their Clear Channel websites, so we consider the information possibly dated.

Still, this is BAS Broadcasting we're talking about here. The small, locally-owned group has never made any bones about its desire to be more efficient, cut costs and operate with less on-air people.

To that end, if it hasn't already happened, we'd expect some sort of Citadel/ABC Radio Networks satellite format on 102.7...if it hasn't been installed already. We just don't know if there'd be too much overlap with BAS' Fremont-based WFRO/99.1 "Eagle 99.1" to run the very same ABC "Hits and Favorites" format. "Eagle 102.7", anybody?...

MCCONNELL DOWN TO ONE SYNDICATED SHOW: The experiment of syndicating Clear Channel talk WLW/700 mid-morning host Mike McConnell's weekday show has ended.

Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio guru John Kiesewetter reports that the Monday through Friday version of McConnell's long-running show is back to being a local production for WLW, as the host and Clear Channel syndication arm Premiere have decided to end its outside distribution.

From the article:

McConnell says he and Premiere Radio Networks -- Clear Channel owns WLW-AM and Premiere -- decided to pull the plug because so few stations carried the show live. After 17 months, he had only 20 affiliates, with only 7 going live 9 a.m.-noon. Those seven were in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Georgia, he says.

McConnell tells Kiesewetter that the limited affiliate base, particularly the live clearances, meant the show didn't have a broad base for on-air callers.

Down at Kenwood, they must be breathing a sigh of relief.

It's not that we believe PD/AM operations manager (and OMW reader) Darryl Parks wished for failure for one of his highest profile hosts. But for three hours a day, WLW lost the ability to talk about hot-button Cincinnati issues and stories affecting the Tri-State area.

The move doesn't affect McConnell's primary Premiere syndicated show, "The Weekend", which has a much larger affiliate base...

MOVING TO DIGITAL: On February 17, 2009, all full-power over-air TV stations will shut off the analog signal they've been using for decades, as the digital TV transition will take place.

OMW hears that nearly a year earlier, on February 19th, the Lower Great Lakes Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) will hold three luncheons on the topic in three cities covered by the local chapter - Cleveland, Indianapolis and Toledo.

The luncheon events will take place simultaneously, and are open to the public.

In Cleveland, it'll be held at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn, and will feature speakers Steve Hyvonen (news director) and Berry Pinney (chief engineer) from WEWS/5 on the broadcast station side, and Time Warner Cable's Bill Jasso for the cable side.

Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Tom Feran will moderate.

More details are at the local NATAS chapter's website...

Friday, February 01, 2008

TWC Getting Systems Together?

It hasn't been publicized anywhere else that we know of, but an OMW reader tipped us off to what could be pretty big news in the Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio universe.

According to this required legal notice on TWC's local website, it would appear that the cable operator is finally going about starting the business of standardizing lineups among the three different parts of the TWCNEO universe...the original "legacy" systems in Akron/Canton, the former Adelphia systems and the former Comcast systems.

The change would seem to apply to mostly, if not nearly exclusively, to the digital and HDTV channel lineups. We don't see anything about massive analog channel number changes.

The change is listed to take place "on or around" March 4th. According to the legal notice, "the channel positions for Digital programming currently carried on channels 100 and above will change."

The listings of actual changed "status" are mostly for moves of channels around in various digital tiers, and some back and forth between digital tiers and expanded basic (analog).

One move happens outside digital service - SportsTime Ohio will camp out on expanded basic channel 76, a move from 17 on the former Adelphia systems. It's the same channel STO has occupied on the TWC "legacy" systems since a few months ago.

(We wonder if the former Adelphia SD digital feed of STO will stay on 179, and we see nothing changing the "HD Bonus" channel placement for STO HD and FSN Ohio HD on 798.)

After this is all done next month, and even after an analog realignment would be done (if it ever is), we'll assume there will still be minor differences in mostly the analog lineups between the three branches of local TWC operations.

Even today, for example, the Akron systems carry Media-Com Television's WAOH-LP/29 on cable channel 14, some other Akron area TWC systems carry it elsewhere, and the Canton TWC system does not carry the Akron-based channel at all. Canton's TWC subscribers are offered their own local LPTV outlet - WIVM-LP 52 - on digital cable 585.

One change that might cause some controversy...the "urban oriented" Village TV network, which currently resides on cable channel 20 on the former Adelphia systems, is apparently being moved up into digital basic - along with CMT (Country Music Television).

Exiting the lineup entirely on all the systems: a number of secondary-offshoot channels like VH1 Country and MTV Hits, a couple of Spanish-language channels (more are being added to the system's Spanish Language Tier), and some other time zone movie channels.

And finally, some good news for HDTV enthusiasts, as TWC wil apparently add: A&E HD, Food Network HD, HGTV HD and History HD...all in the basic (free) HD tier.

We'll run this item by our contacts at Time Warner Cable, and see if there's any clarification that needs to be made...