Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Catchup Post

The altered state of reality here at the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) means that, well, we missed some stuff...some that affects the coming year.

So, here's at least some of What We Missed, and other updates, with a year-end message still to come...

There have been so many changes at Clear Channel's Akron/Canton cluster on Freedom Avenue that we wouldn't be surprised if you'd mistake it for a bus or train station, as opposed to a radio station cluster.

First, as long advertised, 30-plus year Akron market veteran host Matt Patrick left his perch in mornings at hot AC WKDD/98.1...a station he'd anchored since it was on 96.5 (now Clear Channel sister top 40 WAKS "Kiss FM"). He also left his 9 AM-noon talk show on sister talk WHLO/640.

Slipping in upon Patrick's departure from the WKDD morning drive show was, as many expected, WKDD program director/CC Akron-Canton operations director/now former afternoon drive air personality/OMW reader Keith Kennedy, and there's no truth to the rumor that WKDD will take the moniker "Keith FM". Kennedy now hosts morning drive with Patrick's most recent co-host, Krissy Taylor.

Taking afternoon drive on the WKDD schedule is station mainstay Jon Marochino. (More on him later.)

Taking Patrick's WHLO time slot is a delayed version of Pittsburgh-based syndicated morning show "Quinn and Rose", which has aired live in morning drive on WHLO until now.

Taking the WHLO morning drive slot? Akron and Canton radio veteran Jim Albright. From a station release on the new show, which airs starting January 4th:

Akron/Canton news, traffic, sports and weather will be the primary focus on the new show, presented in a fast paced, modern format. Listeners will hear all the information in a tight ten minute package, which is about the length of the average commute in Akron/Canton. “Our Goal is to give you everything you need in 10 minutes or less” said Albright.

Albright will be joined by the station's morning news anchor, John Amrhein.

Quoting him:

“WHLO is a heritage set of call letters, and I’m thrilled to be able to say them on the air very soon” said Albright. “The Akron/Canton has been my home my entire life and I can’t imagine being anywhere else” he added. “This will be my last job in radio! They will have to pry me from the studio equipment in 30 years”.

Albright was most recently afternoon drive host at NextMedia talk WHBC/1480 in Canton, but gained his local fame as the host of the long-running "Dating Show" on Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron" in the Akron market...a local radio staple in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Budget cuts ended his run at WHBC, in a time slot now occupied by station veteran Sam Bourquin.

Back to Jon Marochino, who's a key player in Freedom Avenue's third move.

He'll host "The Jon Marochino Show", a weekday, 3-6 PM local sports talk show on sports WARF/1350 Akron "Fox Sports 1350". Quoting another station release:

Listeners will be able to express their thoughts on teams such as the Zips, Kent St., Aeros, Cavs, Browns, Indians, and Buckeyes. The program will also devote time to coverage of High School Sports.

“For the first time, listeners in Akron won’t have to tune to a station in Cleveland for their daily dose of Northeast Ohio sports” said Marochino. “We are two guys who scream and yell at the TV when our teams aren’t playing well, we’re not clubhouse or locker room reporters, we’re fans who happen to have a radio show” Marochino added.

The "two guys" refers to Marochino and sports update anchor Todd Fisher. As with Albright's new WHLO show, the new WARF afternoon drive local show starts January 4th.

And yes, Marochino is listed as the afternoon drive replacement on WKDD for now-morning driver Keith Kennedy.

We'll assume the Magic of Voicetracking(tm) will allow that, and that Marochino won't be doing both shows simultaneously...a la an old "Saturday Night Live" skit with Dan Aykroyd doing both AM and FM shows at the same time...

BOOM: A week earlier than expected, and as reported here below, Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting debuted its new "Boom!" AAA format on WNWV/107.3 Elyria...nudging the 20-year plus "Wave" smooth jazz format to WNWV's HD2 signal (and an Internet stream).

(By the way, the station has been called both "107.3 Boom!" and "Boom! 107.3" by ELB, so we don't know which it is.)

The opening music set at noon Monday, thanks to Lance Venta's RadioInsight:

Thievery Corporation – Radio Retaliation
Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere
Coldplay – Clocks
Sarah McLachlan – Possession
Train – Hey Soul Sister

COLUMBUS STUFF: Columbus FM talker WTDA/103.9 is no longer "Talk FM". It dropped a lineup of mostly syndicated second-tier talkers and a local morning show to become "Classic Hits 103.9", using a Dial Global satellite-delivered format.

The move to music on WTDA means Clear Channel sports WYTS/1230 "Fox Sports 1230" is able to pick up the midday program hosted by Dan Patrick, who normally airs on the FSR feed....but WTDA had his Columbus market rights due to an earlier agreement to carry him in the Content Factory syndication deal.

Though Patrick is off this holiday week, WYTS is already carrying his program.

The Columbus station, and other FSR affiliates including Akron's WARF, are also carrying the network's new morning drive program with former ESPN Radio host Stephen A. Smith. Smith replaces Steve Czaban, who was shown the door at FSR a while back...

CURRENCY: Thursday is a big day for Cleveland radio.

Arbitron's Portable People Meter ratings results become "currency" with tomorrow's report. Local stations have already had "pre-currency" numbers, and changes have already happened - Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting cited the new ratings system in its decision to send "The Wave" packing on 107.3. (The jury's out on whether the new AAA format is any more "PPM friendly" than the long-time smooth jazz format.)

Regular OMW readers know we don't spend a lot of time with ratings for various reasons, not the least of which is that they can be sliced, diced and interpreted many different ways. But we'll try to get something up here about the first PPM "currency" book in Cleveland after the first of the year.

And if the numbers prompt any format or personality changes, we'll definitely cover that...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Boom To Explode At Noon

WNWV/107.3, destined for AAA "Boom", is stunting with clock ticking noises this morning.

OMW hears that "107.3 Boom!" debuts today at 12 Noon...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wave About To Stop Waving

UPDATE 12/24/09 10:10 AM: Cleveland Plain Dealer media writer Julie Washington has more on the pending format change, including confirmation that Ric Bennett is the new program director.

Both articles also note that the station will indeed be known on-air as "107.3 Boom!". (With the exclamation mark, we presume...)

UPDATE 12/23/09 11:57 AM: An alert OMW reader pointed us to this article on the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram's website today, confirming the WNWV format change. The paper is co-owned with the radio station.

We don't know if the article appeared in the C-T's print edition today...


We're still on indefinite hiatus, but since this is a pending format change in the Cleveland market, we'll put a note up here about it.

As noted on our Twitter account, there are strong and loud rumblings around the market that Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting smooth jazz WNWV/107.3 Elyria "The Wave" is about to stop waving...in that format...after some 21 years.

OMW hears what everyone else in Northeast Ohio radio has apparently heard...that WNWV will end the smooth jazz/new adult contemporary format soon, and take on a new adult alternative rock format ("AAA"), with some classic rock mixed in.

In fact, we're told that you can already hear the coming WNWV format on its HD2 subchannel right now.

And you can also hear that HD2-soon-to-be-main format, we're told by more than one reader, at the site 1073cleveland.com.

We're told that the new format is expected to launch on January 4th. We don't know if it'll take the "Boom" moniker shown on the above linked site, or if the music mix will change when it comes to the "main stage" at 107.3.

The venerable smooth jazz format, like in other such moves, will end up on the WNWV HD2 channel, switching places with the new AAA/rock format.

As has been posted elsewhere, on message boards, in Tom Taylor's daily Taylor on Radio-Info newsletter and the like, we hear tbat "Rocco the Rock Dog" (aka Ric Bennett, ex-WMMS/100.7, WENZ/107.9 and WONE/97.5) is on board as program director for the new WNWV format.

Right now, the AAA format in Northeast Ohio is available on only one station, Akron Public Schools-owned non-comm WAPS/91.3 "The Summit", and we can tell you that the folks on Steiner Avenue are already aware of the coming commercial competition.

Now, we're still on hiatus. We'll add an administrivia post later explaining the near-term future of your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)...

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Dreaded H-Word

Officially: OMW will be on hiatus until further notice. We have no idea when we may return, and we may be gone the rest of the year.

Don't worry about your Primary Editorial Voice(tm)....we're fine, and will be back and raring to drive the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) at some point.

But unlike most of our World Famous Hiatuses, it will take something pretty big to put an update here in the next while. And as last we checked, Dick Goddard and Joe Tait aren't going to call it a career any time soon. (Yes, that's the level.)

For example, we are hearing, but have not confirmed, of a very high-level off-air departure at one of Cleveland's major radio clusters. We won't be following that, but when you see the news on the AllAccess Net News scroll tomorrow...yes, that's the one.

Please keep in touch. We'll still have access to your E-mail, and still be "watching" the media scene in Northeast Ohio. Big news might hit our Twitter account, which is mirrored on the left hand side of this scroll.

But don't "expect" anything in the coming weeks, as far as regular updating or following media news stories. We're coming into the holidays, and would be away at times, anyway.

We'll be back, and better than ever, soon. Take care of yourselves and your families...

Friday, December 04, 2009

Browns And Scripps

This is our final update for this hectic week - OK, so it's been hectic only for us, but we hope you understand. Sometimes, life is somewhat more important than assuring that a blog on local media news is regularly updated.

The good news? Even battling connectivity problems in a temporary situation away from the OMW World Headquarters, we can still manage to update our Twitter account. We've already had some of these updates there, and please keep watching in case we can't get back to the Mighty Blog either due to technical or personal concerns.

And as always, our Twitter feed should automatically be mirrored to the left hand column on the main blog...

BROWNS TV "SAVED" AGAIN: The NFL's Cleveland Browns haven't had a TV blackout since "returning" to the NFL in 1999. That no-blackout streak won't be broken this weekend.

Despite "a few thousand" tickets remaining unsold for the 1-10 Browns' tilt with the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, the team announced Friday that the game would air in Cleveland on Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19.

From a Browns press release:

As a result of combined efforts by the Cleveland Browns, WOIO-TV (CBS 19) and several local establishments, the Chargers-Browns game this Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium will be televised locally. The game, which kicks off at 4:05 p.m., will air on WOIO-TV in the Cleveland area.

The Browns will be distributing tickets to the Cleveland Food Bank, the United Way, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, as well as other local organizations. Additionally, local establishments and WOIO will reward patrons with ticket giveaways while supplies last. The local establishments are offering limited numbers of tickets to customers. For more details on these special offers, fans can visit the following the locations:

We won't copy over the sponsor list, but you can find it at the link above. It's a laundry list mainly of local sports bars, which presumably hope you watch the game - now televised - there as well...

A better solution towards ensuring prevention of blackouts would be for the Browns to produce a better product on the field, but that's just crazy talk, we realize. Even with the horrible economy (locally and nationally), a winning Browns team would pack the place.

For now, it's what has become a familiar refrain...with a "few thousand" tickets left, the local TV affiliate gets together with businesses and the team to "look good" - by saving the game from an almost sure TV blackout...and helping charities at the holidays at the same time...

SCRIPPS PART 1: We knew this was coming, but didn't have the ability to tell you due to our current situation.

As long expected, graphics on Scripps' WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5" have changed...to standardize the local ABC affiliate's graphics with other stations in the chain.

But as we reported earlier, it wasn't just a desire to streamline the look..."NewsChannel 5"'s graphics package is now actually produced at a centralized Scripps facility at the company's outlet in Tampa, WFTS.

)We'd love to put a screenshot of "NewsChannel 5's" new look up here, but our temporary situation precludes us from doing so...)

SCRIPPS PART 2: On further analysis, this probably doesn't note a trend that would come to Cleveland, but heads up.

WEWS' sister station in West Palm Beach FL, NBC affiliate WPTV/5, is dumping its sports department entirely...and farming out coverage of sports to personalities from Good Karma sports WEFL/760 "ESPN 760"...of course, the Good Karma sister (brother?) station of Cleveland's WKNR/850 "ESPN 850" and WWGK/1540 "KNR2".

From a joint press release put out by the stations:

Starting January 1, 2010, ESPN 760 will provide extensive sports coverage to WPTV's NewsChannel 5, including local sports features at 6 p.m. and a nightly sports wrap-up at 11 p.m. ESPN 760 will produce "Braman 5 Sports Live," the 15-minute sports show seen every Sunday after WPTV's 11 p.m. newscast.

Evan Cohen, ESPN 760's popular sports talk show host, will anchor "Braman 5 Sports Live" and lead the on-air effort weeknights for WPTV. Former Florida Atlantic University defensive lineman and current ESPN 760 host/reporter, Jason Pugh, will anchor the sports segments on Fridays and the weekends. ESPN 760 producer/reporter Herb Uzzi will serve as producer/reporter for the sportscasts on WPTV, and Cohen and Pugh will provide insights and commentary on www.wptv.com.

WPTV officials insist that it's not a cost-cutting move, in a time where "cost-cutting move" is about as easy to type as anything. From MediaDailyNews:

Steve Wasserman, general manager at E.W. Scripps-owned WPTV, said it is not a cost-cutting move but aimed at accessing more resources. The radio station has more talent on hand and stronger connections with local sports teams and personalities, he said.

Wasserman said the deal, with an undisclosed financial arrangement, will cost his station more than the salaries and work done by the two departed sportscasters. WPTV also has the highest ratings in the market, so the move is not made out of desperation.

The Palm Beach Post reports that the deal was primarily driven by WPTV's desire to bring Cohen - "ESPN 760's" biggest name - aboard as more than just an occasional contributor.

Here in Cleveland, of course, the situation is a LITTLE different.

There is an informal relationship between Good Karma's WKNR and Scripps' WEWS. "ESPN 850" personalities Aaron Goldhammer and Jason Gibbs have been regular contributors to Channel 5's high school football coverage...often using what looks for all the world like a Skype video chat connection from the WKNR studios at the Galleria.

("NewsChannel 5 in high definition, except when we have to have a cheap video line to another building a few blocks away!")

But the highest-profile name at the Galleria is mid-morning host Tony Rizzo, who has a very solid "day" job as the primary sports anchor at one of WEWS' competitors, Local TV Fox affililate WJW/8. That alone would seem to preclude WKNR mirroring the Florida agreement here with WEWS....

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Quick Update: There She Goes, Here We Are

We're around, though still attending to vital, off-blog business for a while. We've got a couple of items kicking around for a more general update by Friday morning, more than likely.

In case you missed our Twitter update on the status of now-former Local TV Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW/8 morning/weekend meterologist Melissa Mack:

WJW's Melissa Mack to CBS O&O WBZ/4 Boston as weekend meteorologist and environmental reporter starting 1/2010

The primary reporting on this came from the blog Boston TV News, where Michael Page first started tracking down news of Melissa Mack's new Boston TV home. Page got confirmation from a WBZ-TV official.

Quoting Page's update:

WBZ has now confirmed that Melissa is headed for their airwaves early in January 2010. Station spokeswoman Ro Dooley-Webster tells me, “WBZ-TV has hired a new Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Melissa Mack will be joining the station on January 4, 2010. In addition to her weekend duties, Melissa will be reporting on environmental issues and filling in during the week.”

This means Melissa will take the place of current weekend morning meteorologist Sarah Wroblewski and will report on issues much like Mish did before her departure from the station earlier this year.

The move is not just a move up in market size for Melissa, from Cleveland (#18) to Boston (#7), for a relatively similar job.

As noted in our tweet above, WBZ-TV is not just a CBS affiliate...it's a CBS O&O.

If Melissa Mack has any thought in the future of "going network", a top-10 market station owned by the network would be a decent place to be.

And of course, until fairly recently, WJW itself was owned by its network, Fox...though the spotlight is much brighter in a market the size of Boston...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Morning...And Then? Who Knows

This is our "one shot" update promised earlier.

We aren't ready to announce an official "hiatus" yet, but we could be away from the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) the next week or so due to very pressing, vital issues. We could also be here, and updating, which is why we're not invoking the "H" word. It depends on how those issues go, frankly.

But...if you don't hear from us here by next weekend, please visit our good friend and colleague Scott Fybush's NorthEast Radio Watch. He's tasked with notification should...well, we don't want to talk about it.

Anyway, if all goes well, we won't be away for long...and if it does, we may have more time on our hands as usual this coming week...

FORGY OUT: This is an item that passed under our virtual door last week, but we're bringing to life as we start this week.

OMW has confirmed that Radio One Cleveland VP/GM Chris Forgy is out. We're told he exited his post at the local radio cluster at the close of business last Tuesday.

There are a lot of rumors about what happened - none of which we have confirmed or will pass along. Since we're not really a sales-oriented blog, it mostly doesn't concern us anyway.

It does appear that the departure was not of Mr. Forgy's choice...

MELISSA IN: Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 "Fox 8 News" weather anchor Melissa Mack is, as far as we know, out of the building at South Marginal...her last day having been scheduled for last Thursday.

We still don't know what station will be her new home, or what job she'll take, but numerous OMW readers tell us she pegged her new market on the air last week as Boston.

We've been scratching around, trying to find out which Boston station will become Melissa's new employer - say, for folks back in Northeast Ohio who might wish to catch her in online video - but we have no word of her new destination.

Even TV news gossip supersite NewsBlues, helmed by former Cleveland TV newsies Mike James and his wife, former local TV legend/ex-WKYC/3 anchor Mona Scott, has not had any word about Melissa's new destination...or for that matter, anything on her departure from Cleveland.

Unless we're getting stymied by the search engine at Cleveland.com again, as far as we know, Plain Dealer TV/media columnist Julie Washington has had nothing on Ms. Mack...which makes this an exclusive as far as we know...

AND OLDIES: And an update on our earlier item re: the "Sunday Oldies Jukebox"'s 12th anniversary on Akron market school-owned station WSTB/88.9 Streetsboro.

OMW hears that the station may be on financial fumes, as it were, and it may be an indirect result of the controversy which shut down WSTB for a month one year ago.

The situation was apparently covered by an article in the Streetsboro High School student newspaper earlier this month.

Though the Streetsboro City School District is the owner and licensee of WSTB, the district, like many others in the current economy, is suffering financially. It appears outside funding sources used in the past to help pay for WSTB's operation aren't what they used to be.

The student newspaper article is not online, and we don't have a copy, but we may be able to share this with you down the road. We'll share when we can.

Anyway, after our article on the "SOJ", oldies fans and OMW readers are weighing in.

One local radio type reminds us that the oldies continue to flow on the AM radio dial in Lorain County, where Doug and Lorie Wilber's locally-owned WDLW/1380 Lorain continues its "Kool Kat Oldies" format.

And we've heard from fans of Rubber City's oldies/news WAKR/1590 in Akron, though we did mention WAKR in the previous item. We'll have to do some study of station playlists to see where WAKR overlaps with the oldies on "Sunday Oldies Jukebox", which apparently reach - years-wise - from approximately 1958 to 1971.

Commercial AM radio stations playing oldies seem quite the holdovers in 2009, where even younger-skewing music formats have no home on over-air commercial radio.

Potentionally commercially-popular formats like AAA (Adult Album Alternative) have to make their home in Northeast Ohio on outlets like Akron Public Schools-non-comm WAPS/91.3 "The Summit" in Akron, or on HD2 streams in Cleveland (WNWV/107.3-HD2's eclectic adult-rock-based format, and we hear WMMS/100.7 may be doing AAA on its HD2 stream now).

Standards and big band formats are long gone from the commercial radio dial, with just the lone holdout of Kenston High School-owned non-comm WKHR/91.5 Bainbridge in the format these days. Like "SOJ", it, too, is mainly run by adult volunteers...

OFF THE AIR: We normally flip Dayton up in the virtual air to see where it lands, in regard to coverage by OMW vs. coverage from our sister blog in Southwest Ohio, Cincinnati-area based Tri-State Media Watch.

Since we're here, we'll take this one.

Cox CBS affiliate WHIO-TV/7 reports that it's been off the air since early Sunday afternoon, and having problems since late Sunday morning:

WHIO-TV began experiencing intermittent problems around 10:30 a.m. Sunday and and went completely off the air around 1:30 p.m.

The outage affects over-air viewers of WHIO-TV's digital signal, along with satellite TV customers (DirecTV and Dish Network).

The station's announcement says viewers with Time Warner Cable and AT&T's video service (U-verse, we assume, like it is in Northeast Ohio) are still able to watch WHIO-TV programming. Generally speaking, major stations feed large cable systems via a direct fiber connection, if possible...so recalcitrant transmitters do not affect those systems.

As far as we know, as of this early Monday writing, WHIO-TV's over-air signal is still out.

Quoting an article by Tim Tresslar in the Dayton Daily News:

The staff has not yet nailed down a cause for the transmission problems, (WHIO-TV VP/GM Harry Delaney) said.

“Engineers are working on it and we hope to restore full service as soon as possible and apologize for the inconvenience and disruption to their viewing,” Delaney said.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

SOJ's 12th

We'll have a more complete semi-update sometime early Monday, then we may be scarce for a while. No, we're not ready to break out the H word, as we still could be around and updating.

But a tip of the hat to a local radio organization that could well be called "A Bunch of Friends of OMW".

The weekly "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" turns 12 years old on Sunday. The "day format" hit the airwaves on November 30, 1997.

The oldies programming takes over Streetsboro City Schools-owned WSTB/88.9 Streetsboro (otherwise a student-run alt-rocker called "The AlterNation") once a week, and adult volunteers deliver a day full of 50's and 60's (and some 70's) rock and roll oldies to audiences in the Akron area and beyond, each and every Sunday from morning until night.

Engineer "Uncle Bill" Weisinger, a Friend of OMW, helms the "SOJ" effort as its volunteer program director. SOJ is "84 in dog years", Bill notes on the station's website. (Unfortunately, due to rising costs and onerous playlist accounting requirements, SOJ no longer streams its output...you'll have to be near a radio tuned to 88.9 FM in Northeast Ohio to hear it.)

The SOJ has not had a completely smooth road, of course.

OMW readers know that the Jukebox - and host station WSTB - left the air for a while recently, and you can use the search box above to catch up, if you missed all the commotion. We won't revisit the controversy here.

But the Sunday oldies stream returned to the eventually returned 88.9 FM, and continues to fill what's mostly an unmet need on the local airwaves - offering "older" rock oldies titles to local listeners, commercial free.

We haven't done a playlist analysis, but "SOJ" would seem to offer older titles that aren't even in the music library of the only local commercial AM outlet that still embraces the word "oldies", Rubber City's WAKR/1590 in Akron. We can't remember the last time we heard a 50's tune on 1590, for one...the station mainly offers popular 60's music along with its news and sports programming.

And of course, Clear Channel Cleveland FM powerhouse WMJI/105.7 "Majic 105.7" has long since abandoned those two decades - and the word "oldies" - as a station featuring "classic hits" from the 70's and 80's outside the "Lanigan and Malone" morning drive talk show.

Between those stations, and standards WKHR/91.5 Bainbridge serving up the older music for nearby areas of Cleveland's eastern suburbs, there's plenty of musical room for the SOJ.

Anyway, Happy 12th to "Uncle Bill" and the SOJ crowd from your friends here at the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Melissa Mack Moving On Up

OMW can confirm that Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 "Fox 8 News" weather anchor Melissa Mack is indeed leaving the station.

Her announcement to that effect, heard by numerous viewers on Sunday night's "Fox 8 News at 10", caused quite a stir, and an increase in E-mail traffic here at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

OMW hears from insiders at South Marginal Road that it's a career move up for Melissa that's prompting her exit from Northeast Ohio. We're told that Ms. Mack is headed for "a larger market" station, but we don't know which market that is.

(We do believe, for whatever reason, that Melissa's new home market is not New York City.)

We hear Melissa Mack's last day on "Fox 8 News" is Thursday.

Melissa quickly got noticed after joining Fox 8. She'd been seen before that in Northeast Ohio, as a weather anchor for now-Parkin/New Vision ABC affiliate WYTV/33 in Youngstown...

Confirmed And Not

As per usual here at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), major activity involving local media personalities roughly coincides with our own inability to update this blog - due to absence, illness or work off the blog.

Here we go again.

MAXWELL, OUT: For those of you who haven't been following our Twitter feed - please look to the left, or visit the feed here directly - a recap...Clear Channel Cleveland rocker WMMS/100.7 has said goodbye to Maxwell, unable to reach contract renewal terms or a contract extension with the station's afternoon drive host.

For radio negotiations, this has all been out in the open...and then some.

Maxwell himself spoke on the air frequently about his mulling a new deal with the station. And earlier Tuesday, WMMS programmer Bo Matthews spread the word to everyone via his Twitter account:

FYI. No agreement could be reached with the mwl show. We really tried. No secrets. He has talked about it. The process played out.

In place of the Maxwell show on Monday? It was something called the "Dumb & Charlie Experiment", which appeared to be an extended comedy bit off of the station's morning drive show "Rover's Morning Glory" (they're both cast members).

Don't expect much more than a stunt from these two - who are probably somewhat more important attached to the morning drive Rover-fest than trying to resurrect afternoon drive as a "new act".

Quoting WMMS PD Matthews' Twitter account, again:

FYI. These guys are "trying out". - - Only took a couple minutes for Rover to come to the rescue with these guys. HAAAA.

And later,

life will move on. I hired mwl. I will produce something else u will be proud of.

But...what will be WMMS' permanent replacement for "The Maxwell Show"? Let's turn to Bo again, this time making his pitch on AllAccess.com's Net News scroll on Monday:

WMMS PD BO MATTHEWS is in full search mode for the next rock/talk afternoon show -- individuals or full shows. his is a high-personality, content-heavy position. If you think you can step in, and help continue the momentum/ratings success -- forward your mp3 (no larger than 5mb) and resume with references to (wmmsjob at gmail dot com).

So, from here, it looks like WMMS wants to continue with a talk-heavy rock-audience-oriented afternoon drive personality show...which makes sense, since the station tried to re-sign "The Maxwell Show" as recently as last week...

BUT, WHAT ABOUT MELISSA: She's young, and she hasn't been at Local TV Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW/8 "Fox 8" for all that long...but morning TV weather person Melissa Mack has apparently quite a devoted following in Cleveland now.

We know that, because the former Youngstown TV personality's apparent exit announcement has rocked our E-mail box in the past few days.

At this point, the "is Melissa leaving Fox 8" E-mails have overcome the "what happened to Maxwell" E-mails, though in fairness to the now-former WMMS afternoon driver, Melissa is somewhat better looking.

Simply put, we don't know yet why Ms. Mack is apparently leaving. Enough readers to make it semi-official tell us that she said "goodbye" on Sunday night's edition of "Fox 8 News at 10".

We've put out the signals, and we'll let you know what we find out about her future, and her exit from South Marginal Road...

Monday, November 23, 2009

THIS JUST IN: Maxwell Out?

If you believe the chatter this morning on Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7's "Rover's Morning Glory" this morning, the station's afternoon drive program is out.

For now, the WMMS-hosted website for "The Maxwell Show" is still around. Stations generally pull or hide such sites when major changes are in the works.

But in a very open conversation with his listeners, WMMS morning drive leader Shane "Rover" French has made it quite clear that "Maxwell" is gone from the station.


"We wanted to keep the show." is the mantra being repeated by a voice we assume by the identification is WMMS program director Bo Matthews. (We say "we assume" because it's a long-time tradition for radio shows to fake management on the air.)

If the on air chatter on "RMG" is accurate, again, the station apparently made a contract offer to Maxwell and his crew, which was apparently not accepted.

We caution...that all the above is on-air talk. We'll try to confirm details throughout the day today, but this open talk about the WMMS afternoon drive slot on the station's morning show was too big to ignore...

Friday, November 20, 2009

No Wonder Kaiser Bill Is Worried

An OMW reader tells us that Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1, the Kent-licensed Akron market talk station known as "The Talk of Akron", has been running announcements "asking listeners who work or live in the Elyria and North Ridgeville areas to write station management."

We're told the announcements refer to "an unnamed out of state company who wants to install a translator station that could disrupt your ability to receive WNIR in those areas."

At your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), we previously reported the (still pending) sale of off-air translator W262BN/100.3, licensed to Lorain, from Edgewater Broadcasting to Radio One, which owns a number of full-power stations in the Cleveland market.

So, we took another look at W262BN in the FCC records, and found this.

The FCC has approved a move we speculated about in the earlier item - Edgewater, which is still the legal owner of W262BN, has received a construction permit to move the translator's authorization to a Cleveland community of license. The CP was approved by the FCC just two days ago, on November 18th.

This FCC map of the 50 watt translator station's proposed primary service area indeed places it right in the middle of WNIR's area of concern, between Elyria and North Ridgeville at a site along the Ohio Turnpike.

Yes, FM translator facilities can indeed be that far afield of the community of license, and there's no legal requirement that W262BN's signal even reach the Cleveland city limits.

Edgewater is clearly acting on behalf of Radio One. The translator sale was approved by the FCC on September 16th, and the new paperwork lists Radio One's WZAK/93.1 as W262BN's new primary station. Of course, as we reported earlier, W262BN has not been operating at any point from the currently licensed site in Sheffield Township, with a COL of Lorain.

Since there's absolutely no need to rebroadcast the powerful signal of WZAK on a translator in eastern Lorain County, we'll still make the bet that wherever W262BN ends up, it'll become an FM rebroadcaster for AM gospel outlet WJMO/1300, probably located in an area of Cleveland where 1300's signal is not all that great at night.

Though they could well mount that effort from the proposed site between Elyria and North Ridgeville, the Cleveland COL tells us that Radio One is thinking of moving it further east.

How does all this affect WNIR?

The Akron market talker doesn't make much effort to serve Lorain County, which is on the far western fringe of its service area. Even if the translator makes it, say, to Cleveland's east side, that's also not really an area WNIR cares about serving.

But the Kent-based station presumably can't sit idly by while even a first-adjacent 50 watt translator camps out in Northeast Ohio.

If all the signal calculations work out, there may not be much Media-Com can do about this translator...which would presumably have other problems due to second-adjacent in-market WMMS/100.7.

A lot of that is addressed in the application here (PDF file from FCC website), but for the new/current location in eastern Lorain County...

Early Sleigh Ride

After weeks of promising Christmas music next week via a countdown on its website, CBS Radio Cleveland AC powerhouse WDOK/102.1 couldn't resist opening its presents early.

Numerous OMW readers alerted us that "SoftRock 102.1" turned on the holiday music this morning, three days before the end of the online countdown.

Sure enough, the station - both on-air and online - is playing the seasonal music, and promoting itself as "Cleveland's Holiday Music Station".

And if Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 "The Fish" is planning a similar flip to Christmas music, it'll now be second in the market.

As of this writing on Friday afternoon, "The Fish" is still offering its usual CCM format. We don't know if the station plans to go all-Christmas music this year, but in the past, WFHM has done so, usually before Thanksgiving...

All Sorts Of Things

With our schedule being off, this is probably the last item for the week, but we do have some things to pass along...

RETURN OF AIR ERA?: OMW has reported over the past year or so that various economic factors have grounded local TV news helicopters for the most part in the Cleveland TV market.

Only Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19's "19 Action News" has been regularly flying its helicopter, a fact the station has promoted relentlessly on the air for about the past couple of months. "Action News" has taken to pointing out that while other stations are scrambling ground crews to respond to breaking news far from downtown Cleveland, the folks at Reserve Square take a few short minutes to send out a helicopter.

As it turns out, the "19 Action News" chopper is no longer alone in Cleveland's skies.

OMW hears that Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 and its "Fox 8 News" has returned "SkyFOX" to the air, and we hear that the copter is back in the air "at least through the end of 2009"...and that efforts are being made to return "SkyFOX" for 2010 as well. The aerial vision returned to "Fox 8 News" on Thursday.

We do not know if the copter WJW is operating is the original "SkyFOX", though we'd assume it is if the pictures being sent back to South Marginal are in HD.

We also have no word on if the airborne return will mean Pat Brady's return to the "Fox 8 News" team, though that would certainly be a popular move among viewers.

And we also have no word if Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 or Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 are considering a return to Air Power....

CONDOLENCES ON A LOSS: Being the wife of an Ohio State Buckeyes football legend means you have a pretty high profile in Columbus, and it means a lot of people are going to miss Stefanie Spielman.

The wife of ex-OSU star Chris Spielman has been waging quite a public battle with breast cancer since a diagnosis over a decade ago, but lost that battle Thursday at the age of 42. Columbus CBS affiliate WBNS-TV/10 has more in this story:

Spielman and her husband, Chris, tirelessly raised breast cancer awareness and helped form Stefanie's Champions, raising millions of dollars for Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital.

In 1998, at 31, a biopsy confirmed her fears, that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the couple began their battle.

Without hesitation, Chris Spielman put his career on hold with the NFL's Buffalo Bills to be at his wife's side.

Since leaving the NFL, of course, Chris Spielman has maintained a very high media profile. In addition to his work as an ESPN football analyst, he's a long-time host at Dispatch/RadiOhio sports WBNS/97.1-1460 "The Fan". His current radio role puts him as a co-host/contributor to the Fan's "Big Show" from 1-3 PM.

The radio station has a very comprehensive page commemorating Stefanie's passing, and remembering her life, here. (The picture above is courtesy of that page.)


Public calling hours will be Monday November 23, 2009 at the Longaberger Alumni House on the campus of The Ohio State University from 1-8pm for those inspired by Stefanie's life and her service to the community. A celebration of life memorial service will be held Tuesday at Trinity United Methodist Church in Grandview.

Hopefully, the outpouring of support for the Spielman family will help them continue to raise millions for breast cancer research, and raise awareness for women and their families...

BROWNS BLACKOUT: The NFL's hapless Cleveland Browns avoided a local TV blackout of the team's recent Monday Night Football game against the Baltimore Ravens, thanks to a joint effort between the team, a beer company and the local TV rightsholder, WJW/8 "Fox 8".

(Considering the result of the game, maybe they should have just not done anything!)

But there's a Browns blackout ahead, as it turns out, that will affect parts of Ohio.

The 1-8 local alleged professional football team will be blacked out in Northwest Ohio for the game with the Detroit Lions, a consequence of the Toledo TV market's proximity to Detroit. The always-hapless Lions, also 1-8 this season, aren't doing any better at the ticket window than the Browns, and Toledo is a secondary market for the Lions.

This means that unless you're close enough to the Cleveland TV market to pick up Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19, you won't be able to see Browns-Lions on Sunday. And a quick look at this unofficial map from J.P. Kirby's excellent "The506.com" site shows that not many other TV viewers are going to be, umm, subjected to that game.

The small swath of green means only parts of Ohio and Michigan will catch Cleveland vs. Detroit in CBS' early game. The blacked out portions of those states are getting a presumably better game, according to Mr. Kirby's site, Baltimore vs. Indianapolis...

HO HO NOT YET: We're still waiting for Christmas music radio format flips in Cleveland, with CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 "SoftRock 102.1" sticking with an early Monday morning change to all holiday music.

One of our readers notes that a Mahoning Valley station, like WDOK, is counting down to the holiday tunes in an online countdown.

It's Clear Channel classic hits WBBG/106.1 "Big 106.1" which is touting the Way to Holiday Music, soon.

The online countdown appears to be headed for the 12 noon hour on Wednesday, November 25th...we don't know any more than that.

The early entrant in the Christmas Music Sweepstakes in Northeast Ohio was Clear Channel Canton sister AC WHOF/101.7 "My 101.7", which has been pumping out holiday tunes since Monday afternoon...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ho Ho Early Christmas

We noted this on our Twitter account last night, but just to put this on the main blog - Clear Channel Canton AC WHOF/101.7 "My 101.7" is spreading the Yuletide Music Cheer...in mid-November.

"My" is, by the best of our accounting, the first station in Northeast Ohio to take leave of its regular format for Christmas music. Elsewhere in the state, Clear Channel sister AC WLZT/93.3 in the Columbus market, and Pillar of Fire (now, THAT'S a radio company name!) Christian AC WAKW/93.3 "Star 93.3" in the Cincinnati market have already made the switch.

We're pretty sure we wouldn't be able to place a legal bet on this even when Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert opens up his downtown Cleveland casino in about 3 years, but we'd safely bet SOMEWHERE that all three of the above stations will be back to their normal formats after the last sleigh bell rings.

Elsewhere, CBS Radio Cleveland AC powerhouse WDOK/102.1 is still counting down on its website to what looks like an early Monday morning start to "continuous Christmas music". (Speaking of "safe bets to return to normal in January"...)

We'd expect Salem Cleveland CCM WFHM/95.5 "The Fish" to switch sometime between now and Monday, but that's just a guess based on the station's past history with the format. There's no indication either on the air (that we've heard), or on the station's website, that Christmas music is coming...yet.

Some stations use the Christmas music format change to change to "something else" after the holidays, but the stations above are pretty well entrenched.

As always, our long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush is the keeper of what's generally considered the most accurate list of holiday format flips, which is offered by industry directory site 100000watts.com (where Scott is editor).

Though there is a subscription fee for the site, the holiday music flip list itself is free at this link...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Exit

We're still consulting the OMW Medical Staff, and getting used to our "new normal", for now. But we didn't have to put a lot of effort into these items, so here we go...

BLACKOUT AVERTED: Fans of the NFL's Cleveland Browns are rejoicing...they're partying in the streets...they're...OK, maybe they're not partying or rejoicing.

Northeast Ohio's sorry excuse for a "professional football team" will make their only prime-time TV appearance on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" this coming Monday, and there was a chance that the game (with the Hated Baltimore Ravens) would not be shown on local TV...as a "few thousand" unsold tickets remained.

In the usual last minute save, the local station carrying the "MNF" game was a part of the solution, according to this team news release:

As a result of combined efforts by the Cleveland Browns, ESPN, Bud Light and WJW-TV (FOX 8), the Browns-Ravens game this Monday night at Cleveland Browns Stadium will be televised locally.

The game, which kicks off at 8:30 p.m., will air nationally on ESPN, in addition to WJW-TV in the Cleveland area. The four entities will distribute remaining tickets to the USO and other local organizations.

WJW "Fox 8" holds the local-over-air rights to the "Monday Night Football" telecast, as it did last year. NFL rules require ESPN and other cable-satellite-only carriers (NFL Network, etc.) to sell local broadcast rights to the games in the home markets of the two teams involved.

But if the game wasn't televised on WJW, the station would be left holding a rather expensive empty bag of commercial spots that wouldn't be able to air.

Fans would also have been shut out from the ESPN TV broadcast of the game if the contest wasn't sold out...cable and satellite carriers would have been forced to black out ESPN for Northeast Ohio viewers.

Even though many Browns fans in this horrible season have practiced our own "Personal Blackouts" - for your Primary Editorial Voice(tm), that consists of checking in occasionally until a Browns interception - the games are still quite lucrative to local TV partners like WJW... and it's well worth it for them to help cover the cost of a "few thousand" unsold tickets...so they have a game to put on the air...

FLORENTINO TO 'NCI/LZT: It's not like we needed to be a psychic or a rocket scientist to make this connection.

AllAccess reports that in Columbus, Tony Florentino has landed as program director of Clear Channel top 40 WNCI/97.9 and AC WLZT/93.3.

Florentino, of course, recently exited crosstown Saga, where he was operations manager for the company's cluster - including his important work as hands-on program director for AC powerhouse WSNY/94.7 "Sunny 95".

OMW reported earlier that Florentino's exit came after Saga declined to renew his contract running the Columbus stations, which also include smooth jazz WJZA/103.5, classic hits WODB/104.3 "Big Hits 104.3" and AC WVMX/107.9 "Mix 107.9".

In our October 27th item, we conveniently noted that a very compatible post was out there that could be Florentino's next stop:

"...a reader helpfully reminds us that, as far as we know, Clear Channel Columbus is still looking for a PD for top 40 mainstay WNCI/97.9 and AC WLZT/93.3...of course, after Michael McCoy's exit to Detroit..."

Sure enough, Mr. Florentino has landed...

THE LENO FACTOR: Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland is not immune from "The Leno Effect", and that's an effect that local TV managers apparently consider similar to the effects of H1N1 or "swine" flu.

OMW hears from others in local TV that the "Leno Effect" could well give the opening at 11 PM, news ratings-wise, to Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5...with Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19 up for second place. We hear it's been "some books" since WKYC hasn't been comfortably ahead there.

(Not that it's all sweetness and light for the "NewsChannel 5" folks. We're hearing that WEWS parent Scripps is aboard the "multi-media journalist" train even more so than WKYC parent Gannett...and that the station is airing a number of pieces now either voiced by video shooters, or shot in video by solo reporters not used to handling their own video. And of course, with a new approach, there are glitches. More on that, later.)

Like many displeased local affiliates, WKYC is far from silent on the Leno Problem.

Our blogging colleague over at 13th and Lakeside, "Director's Cut" blogger and WKYC senior producer Frank Macek, has written about the Leno situation frequently.

In this item, Frank asks the question - is it finally time to cancel the prime-time Jay Leno show?

This, even as he notes that Cleveland is one of Leno's best markets...faint praise, it would appear, given the overall situation. Quoting:

Nielsen ratings recently showed Cleveland as among Jay's most watched markets. Sad thing is, the ratings have wobbled between only a three and a five rating every week since the show's launch. We can only imagine how smaller markets must be faring.

Mr. Macek suggests that Leno could be moved to 10:35 PM, giving WKYC and other local affiliates a chance to mount a 10 PM local news program (and shaking up the competitive landscape locally, particularly against WJW/8's "Fox 8 News at 10"). This is just an idea, and doesn't seem to be rumored anywhere at this point.

We'll repeat the disclaimer Frank Macek adds at the bottom of his item: "Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this feature are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of WKYC or Gannett Broadcasting."

But though they are Frank's own thoughts and opinions, it would seem from here that pretty much everyone else in TV agrees with Frank's assessment...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No, You Can't Get The Flu From Us

Like a lot of other Northeast Ohioans, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) is forced to admit that we have SOME sort of illness.

We've slept most of the past two days, and have invoked the OMW Medical Staff to help figure this out for us.

We know that the usual instructions involve plenty of rest, and plenty of liquids, but don't usually outline plenty of updates to a blog...so, we've been tending to Offline Life(tm) most of the time.

As far as we know, we do NOT have the H1N1 or "swine" flu - that has even shown up in some local media operations. And as far as we know, you can't pick up the flu just by reading a blog written by someone who has it...so, at least you're safe, even if we did.

This will be a generally short update on items we haven't touched upon yet. Details will come between coughs later...

TWC NEW CHANNELS: Yes, Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio system has rolled out its latest HDTV channels, which were scheduled to "go live" on November 4th (/or after). Here's the list:

Planet Green HD – 455
G4 HD – 482
MSNBC HD – 487
Weather Channel HD – 489
BBC America HD – 490
WE HD – 491
TV One HD – 492
Team HD (part of NBA League Pass) – 760

Generally speaking, if you get the non-HD version of a channel, the HD version follows along.

When we aren't trying to fit OMW updates between doctor visits, we'll try to get an update on the conversion process in the former Comcast areas, and when they can expect SDV-driven new HDTV channels that have already appeared in the rest of Time Warner's massive Northeast Ohio footprint...

CAMINO GETS NOD: It didn't take long for Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 to replace now-former Indians beat reporter/talk host/sports reporter Mark Schwab, now doing weekend sports anchoring for Raycom Media's WOIO/19-WUAB/43 and its "19 Action News".

Pulling the Goodyear AZ duty, and large chunks of the rest of Schwab's WTAM workload, is young station staffer Nick Camino.

From his existing WTAM bio:

Over the past year I have been experiencing more on air time at WTAM 1100. My main job as a board op/producer keeps me running the dials and switches for talk shows and sporting events however I have filled in doing 20-20 Sports Updates. I have come out of the bullpen numerous times already to do Sports Updates during Wills & Snyder from 5:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. around the holidays and even some Saturday mornings on the Bob Becker Show from 6:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. This past year I also did on air reports for Cleveland State men's basketball games.

Did we say "young"?

Why, yes...Mr. Camino is, by his own admission on Mike Trivisonno's Monday show, 25 years old...and will have to "learn baseball". Yipes.

Then again, we don't remember Mark Schwab's age or other experience when he was hired as WTAM's Indians beat reporter, and he turned out pretty well...so we'll reserve judgment, and wish Nick Camino the best....

NEOTROPWHAT?: We never provided more details for the half-hour weekly local business program that bumped Western Reserve PBS' news roundtable "NewsNight Akron" a half hour later on Friday nights...so here's more about "NEOtropolis", now airing Fridays at 9 PM on WNEO/45 Alliance-WEAO/49 Akron:

Western Reserve Public Media introduces its new half-hour weekly program that will build northeast Ohio viewers’ knowledge of regional economic issues, strengthen their confidence in the economy of northeast Ohio and provide them with helpful information and resources to endure challenging economic times.

NEOtropolis focuses exclusively on the business and economy of northeast Ohio. The show will tell the full story of the regional economy, sharing both the challenges and opportunities unfolding in northeast Ohio.

The program is hosted by Thomas Mulready, publisher of CoolCleveland.com. Content partners are Crain’s Cleveland Business and The Business Journal of Youngstown. “NEOtropolis will offer timely information about the region’s business and economy in a fast-paced yet in-depth format,” said Duilio Mariola, Western Reserve Public Media executive producer. “We want to be a vehicle for dialogue about regionalism for the four major cities in our broadcast area — Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Youngstown."

NEOtropolis also repeats at 5:30 AM Saturdays - after NewsNight Akron's 5 AM repeat - and both shows occasionally repeat on Western Reserve's "Fusion" subchannel (45.2-49.2)...

ETHNIC BROADCASTING GIANT DIES: If you get your radio and TV locally only in English, you might not know the name Miklos Kossanyi. But if your background includes Hungary, you certainly do.

The Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com obituary section reports:

Miklos Kossanyi led a TV and radio group with the slogan, "Bring Your Heritage Home."

The Hungarian refugee and Bay Village resident died Oct. 27 after a long struggle with cancer. He was 70.

Pertinent to this report, Kossanyi had two media operations - the Lakewood-based Nationality Broadcast Network, which produced Hungarian-language news and programming seen on cable's SCOLA public affairs network, and WKTX/830 Cortland, a Youngstown-market daytimer that at times seemed to believe it was actually audible in Lakewood and Bay Village.

We are familiar with WKTX's early days as a local oldies station serving Cortland, Warren and nearby areas - and the station has played nostalgic music with a local host in times that are not sold to time block buyers, even in recent years.

WKTX has to pull itself from the air each sunset, to make way for the powerful 50,000 watt signal of WCCO/830 Minneapolis MN...

AND YES, WE'RE AWARE: ...yes, we're aware of highly publicized media news elsewhere, including the Christmas music flip at Clear Channel AC WLZT/93.3 in the Columbus market.

(Judging from its website, CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 Cleveland will wait until Thanksgiving week to do the Ho Ho Flip, and we expect the usual suspects - like Salem Cleveland CCM WFHM/95.5 "The Fish" and Clear Channel Akron/Canton AC WHOF/101.7 "My 101.7" to flip sometime before that...but that's just a guess.)

If we missed anything that will hold over, we'll get to it between doctor's appointments. And thanks for hanging in there with us!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Closure

Unless another major local Northeast Ohio media personality decides to step down, this will close out the week for your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) is groggy, and most of our earlier activity via our Twitter account was before we found both caffeine and our first meal of the day...hopefully, this will be more coherent, after we've met both requirements.

And it's not all followup to that big Thursday evening news...

SPEAKING OF WHICH: The Other Shoe in the Matt Patrick's Future Sweepstakes dropped this morning on Clear Channel talk outlet WHLO/640 Akron, where the 30-plus year host from hot AC WKDD/98.1 also hosts a separate, mid-morning local talk show.

The folks at Freedom Avenue weren't saying much Thursday about the future of that program, except to note that Patrick would have a separate announcement for his WHLO listeners today at 9:06 AM. And boy, did he.

Unlike on the WKDD website, where there's now a section with both audio and text from Patrick's 7:45 announcement that he's stepping down, there's not much on the WHLO site about the long-time personality's exit from the talk radio side of his work.

But indeed, Matt Patrick will leave Freedom Avenue entirely in mid-December. His last WHLO show will be December 17th, one day before what's sure to be a Big Deal - his last show after 30-plus years on WKDD the following morning.

And, well, Matt doesn't sound all that happy that he's leaving both gigs.

After "making (his) decision" not to return to the WKDD morning drive post, Patrick told his WHLO listeners this morning that he'd hoped that Clear Channel would make him an offer regarding staying on the air in his 9 AM-noon talk show slot on WHLO. Such an offer, he says, never came.

So, he clarified again that he's "not retiring" - wording he also used on WKDD, but which did not make it to the prepared statement on his exit - and Patrick told his WHLO listeners that he'd return "somehow, somewhere" after his December 18th exit...presumably after some family time and regrouping.

(The "somehow, somewhere" line is interesting. The competitive landscape ahead of Matt Patrick is rather intimidating if he hopes that means a return to radio in the Akron market. We'll dissect the options, if there are any, in a separate post in the next few days.)

Why is Matt Patrick walking away from the Clear Channel microphones?

Well, regular OMW readers might recall that the folks at Freedom Avenue advertised for a future WKDD morning drive opening - effective January 2010 - back in April, on the AllAccess trade website.

We picked up on that, and Matt Patrick himself picked up on our item, responding that his contract was indeed up at the end of the year...and that the advertisement basically dragged the negotiations into the open.

It doesn't take much to figure out the rest.

Clear Channel, like many of the financially-strapped mega-broadcasters in 2009, is likely trying to shed itself of expensive contracts, or get that high-paid talent to take deep pay cuts, particularly in markets the size of Akron(/Canton).

We have no insight into how much the company pays Matt Patrick, but it's not a stretch to imagine that they approached his contract talks with cuts in mind...and that the two parties couldn't get their numbers close enough to forge a new deal.

That's the economic reality of radio in 2009...high-paid, veteran local personalities are almost "dead men walking" until their next contract renewal negotiations.

So, between now and then, Matt Patrick will play out the string on both WKDD and WHLO, with a likely heavily-hyped "last show" on 98.1 on December 18th, a day after he hangs up the talk radio hat over on WHLO...

ANOTHER PROGRAMMING ANNOUNCEMENT: For once, the promise of a "major programming announcement" on Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland "ESPN 850" was not something about a charity golf tournament.

The station announced during Friday's "Really Big Show" that sports director Mark "Munch" Bishop will mount a new, local sports talk show from 5-6 AM weekdays, starting Monday, called "Munch in the Morning".

That time slot is not a typo.

Bishop, of course, was originally hired by WKNR to host the 3-6 PM afternoon drive slot now occupied by former Cavaliers TV play-by-play voice Michael Reghi...and now, he'll be hosting a one-hour early morning lead-in to ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" show.

And yes, we also noticed that "RBS" leader Tony Rizzo brought in "program director Jason Gibbs" to make the announcement. Not "assistant program director", the title Gibbs took over from RBS executive producer/sidekick Aaron Goldhammer.

It's the first time the Good Karma-owned sports outlet has actually had someone with the title of "program director". Programming-related management wasn't even in the consideration before Goldhammer took the APD title, and boss Keith Williams is a sales-oriented general manager.

It's no stretch to guess that Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin generally has more programming input into his station than any of his employees...

DIGITALLY YOURS IN YOUNGSTOWN: Over-air viewers of Western Reserve PBS in the immediate Youngstown area now have their options back.

The folks on Campus Center Drive have announced that W44CR, the low-power digital translator aimed at low-lying areas of the Mahoning Valley, is on the air. It replaces W58AM, the long-time analog translator for WNEO/45 in Youngstown which long broadcast on Channel 58. At least one OMW reader tells us he's picked up the new signal already.

The new facility is located at the same location - the WFMJ/21 tower just south of downtown Youngstown. It's necessary because many viewers in the immediate Youngstown area are unable to pick up the WNEO signal due to terrain issues between the Valley and Salem, where the 45 facilities are located...

AND SPEAKING OF WESTERN RESERVE PBS: One of the Kent-based public TV outlet's most popular local programs is "NewsNight Akron", the weekly news roundtable show featuring Akron-area journalists...hosted by WKYC/3 anchor Eric Mansfield.

"NNA" is moving to a new time slot...just a bit later than its current perch at 9 PM on Fridays, to a new regular time slot of 9:30 PM on the same night.

We'll electronically bring in a regular "NNA" panelist - Rubber City Radio-WAKR/1590 VP/information media and OMW reader Ed Esposito - to explain...in one of his "Letters from the Editor" on AkronNewsNow.com:

We'll still be yipping and yapping about news and community events in our hometown but we'll be doing so a bit later to make room for a hip new program about the local economy. I know -- the words hip and economy really don't belong together -- but this fresh approach to money mattes in our region adds a new element to programming aimed at showcasing just what makes northeast Ohio tick, and the kinds of things we should think about to help make northeast Ohio improve.

The move is scheduled to take place next Friday, November 6th...so if you're a "NewsNight Akron" junkie, it'll still be on at 9 PM tonight.

Or, you could be like us....we pick up the show off of two TiVo recordings, at the early time slot and a 5 AM Saturday repeat.

The linked article by Ed Esposito primarily focuses on one of our earlier items, the impending departure of WKDD morning drive icon Matt Patrick. It's worth a read for that reason, as well...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

UPDATE: Matt Patrick Exiting WKDD

He's been the primary morning drive host at Clear Channel Akron/Canton hot AC WKDD/98.1 (formerly 96.5) for over 30 years, but WKDD mornings will be without Matt Patrick in 2010.

The station has announced Patrick's departure from his morning drive perch, with his last show on WKDD in mid-December. He'll announce the exit to listeners tomorrow morning at 7:45 AM.

More details, including a release from the station, are forthcoming...and this item will be updated again later this evening...


UPDATE 10/29/09 6:10 PM: And that release from WKDD is reprinted below.

There's no mention in the release of Patrick's second job at Freedom Avenue, as the midday host at WKDD sister talk station WHLO/640 Akron.

OMW hears that an announcement will be made on Patrick's WHLO program at 9:06 AM Friday...


Matt Patrick to step away from Hosting WKDD morning show

Host to say goodbye after 30 years on December 18th

Akron, Oh (October 30, 2009): Radio Personality Matt Patrick is set to announce he will step down as the host of the morning show on 98.1 FM WKDD after 30 years.

In a Statement scheduled to air on WKDD Friday morning October 30th, at 7:45am, Matt explains his upcoming departure: “I have decided that the time has come for me to step away from this microphone. WKDD, and this, the greatest audience in all of radio has been my home for over 30 years. That is ALL of my adult life. I have had the greatest job in the world, but now the time has come to say goodbye.” “You have given my family a gift that is greater than you will ever know. Thank you!”

Patrick started his Akron radio career at what was then rock station 96.5 WCUE in July of 1979. The station later morphed into top 40 WKDD. In 2001, WKDD moved to its current dial position 98.1fm. In the mid 80’s when Morning Zoos were standard fare on radio, Patrick lead a popular ensemble known as the “Waking Crew” featuring Patrick, News Anchor Barb Adams, and sidekick Steve French. The results were untouchable ratings for WKDD.

As radio listening habits changed in the 90s Patrick’s bad boy style toned down as he became a family man. In 1999, WKDD started a relationship with Akron Children’s Hospital in what became a national success story, the radiothon. In 10 years WKDD has raised over six Million dollars for Akron Children’s Hospital, which Patrick is especially proud of.

Matt Patrick’s Final broadcast on WKDD will air the morning of December 18, 2009 from 5:30am until 9am.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Out Of The Box On Tuesday

Yeah, we've hung onto a lot of items, though our Twitter feed has previewed one of them...

A SUNNY EXIT, AND ENTRANCE: Word spread quickly on Friday that Saga Columbus OM/PD Tony Florentino's contract was not being renewed, and sure enough, he exited the building shortly thereafter.

As it turns out, someone was waiting to take the job at the "Columbus Radio Group" stations, including AC powerhouse WSNY/94.7 "Sunny 95"...Cincinnati radio vet T.J. Holland heads up I-71 to take the Saga Columbus gig. (The Columbus group also includes Hot AC WVMX/107.9 "Mix 107.9", classic hits WODB/104.3 "Big Hits B104.3", and smooth jazz WJZA/103.5.)

Holland spent 14 years in Cincinnati at what used to be the Susquehanna cluster, which was swallowed into Cumulus Media Partners.

Among his programming experience that'll serve him well at Saga Columbus - oversight of AC WRRM "Warm 98", and hot AC WNNF "Frequency 94.1". He'd been director of programming for the Susquehanna-turned-CMP stations in Cincinnati from 2003 through March, when he lost his gig due to budget cuts.

What about Tony Florentino, now "on the beach", gig wise in Columbus?

We haven't heard a thing linking him to anything, but a reader helpfully reminds us that, as far as we know, Clear Channel Columbus is still looking for a PD for top 40 mainstay WNCI/97.9 and AC WLZT/93.3...of course, after Michael McCoy's exit to Detroit...

NEWSPAPERS...OUCH: It's pretty much been a fact these days...newspapers are losing readership by the thousands, and the slide is nowhere close to ending...if it will ever end.

Nowhere was that more apparent than the most recent numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the measuring stick officially used by publications to audit readership.

Newspaper trade bible "Editor and Publisher" weighs in:

On a comparable basis, ABC reported that for the 379 newspapers filing with the organization, average daily circulation plunged 10.6% to 30,395,652 -- one of the most severe drops in overall circulation. Sunday circulation for 562 reporting newspapers was down 7.4% to 40,012,253.

Locally, the "Top 25 Newspapers" list puts Cleveland's Plain Dealer at number 16 with a bullet - a bullet downward, as with the other papers, the PD showing a circulation drop of 11 percent weekdays (271,180 readers), and nearly 5 percent on Sunday (390,636 readers).

E&P points out that it's not just that readers are treating newsprint like it's coated in H1N1 flu... it notes that many of the papers are trimming non-core-paid distribution, and shrinking their distribution areas overall. So, if you can't find the Plain Dealer in a box in Western PA, that may be why...

NEWSPAPERS OUCH TWO: With the current state of the economy and the newspaper business, it may be no surprise to learn that another Northeast Ohio paper is plotting out salary cuts.

But the "17 percent" cut figure proposed by Akron Beacon Journal owner Black Press seems to have surprised just about everyone.

The plan first came to light courtesy of an E-mail to Beacon Journal union members, published at the Poynter Online journalism site in the popular column of Jim Romenesko:

Subject: The company isn't pleading poverty, but wants you to

Your Guild bargaining team met with the company Monday, where after 16 months the company revealed its economic proposal. The 19 issues in the proposal opened with the company re-nigging on a previous tentative agreement over severance pay and closed with a 17% pay cut. If you could think of a benefit you have now, it probably was included in the other 17 cuts.

A quick estimate by the Guild, according to figures supplied by the company, the cuts to wages and benefits combined would fall between 25 - 36 percent depending on your seniority and health care coverage.

This line, from Black Press negotiator Karen Lefton, caught the most flack:

When pushed on the issue by Guild staff representative Bruce Nelson, Lefton stated, "we are not saying we are not making a profit, we aren't pleading poverty." She went on to say that the company is not unable to pay at current levels, they just doesn't want to.

Rubber City Radio/1590 WAKR and its AkronNewsNow.com site went further, adding audio reaction from the Beacon's Stephanie Warsmith (reporter, and secretary for the Akron Newspaper Guild) and from Lefton, citing the decline in advertising revenue for the print industry...

WKBN UPGRADE: We haven't gotten official confirmation that the upgrade to New Vision CBS affiliate WKBN/27 Youngstown's signal is complete, but it would sure appear so from the OMW World Headquarters.

The Youngstown outlet is now reaching even deeper into the Cleveland market, after having moved its antenna "up top" on the station's tower. It was side-mounted before, due to the presence of analog channel 27's antenna on top.

With analog history as of last June, crews finally got up there and put the new, main, digital antenna on top. All the wiring was expected to be complete early Monday morning.

The new WKBN signal is not perfect here at the OMW World Headquarters, which is roughly 20 air miles from the Parma antenna farm. But it's the best it's ever been, and we figure with a semi-decent outdoor antenna, we'll probably get the station full-time now.

We don't expect such luck even with the planned 1000 kW upgrade to now-puny-sister station WYTV/33, Youngstown's ABC affiliate which is operated by New Vision in that deal with owner Parkin Broadcasting.

We're told that crews are headed there, next. But one thing we've learned is that "height is everything" in regards to digital TV signals, and even the upgraded WYTV antenna will not be nearly as high as WKBN's nearby facility. And height is important, if you're down in a valley, and hope to get any signal out of it.

No matter. We know the Youngstown signals are "bonuses" for those of us in the Cleveland market...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some Clarifications and Updates

Following along with some items that have popped up in the past few days...

SABO GONE: We don't know much more, but we can confirm that Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland "ESPN 850" has parted ways with producer/sidekick/update anchor Josh Sabo. (And no, that's not just because we've heard WKNR's Tony Rizzo say those exact words about three times now.)

We're getting very little information as to why, but it appears that it has nothing to do with any on-air comments or on-air performance.

As such, we're closing the books on this item...which mostly got attention because Sabo was a producer/contributor to WKNR's highest profile local show, "The Really Big Show" with WJW/8 "Fox 8" sports anchor Rizzo. Rizzo continues with co-host Aaron Goldhammer and update anchor Jeff Thomas.

We'll echo others...and say that this would be an excellent chance to give Jeff a greater on-air role in the 9 AM-noon program.

Though Jeff Thomas is still an "embedded" employee of Metro Networks, the company shuttering its Independence facility has put Jeff in the Galleria studios along with Rizzo and company...and it'd be interesting to see how his talents could be used more...

WKBN UPDATE: If you're one of those viewers on the fringes of New Vision Youngstown CBS affiliate WKBN/27 (like, say, us), and were disappointed that moving the station's digital antenna to the top of the tower didn't allow a signal lock last night, hold on.

Station chief engineer Tom Zocolo checks in with OMW, and passes along a detailed explanation he wrote up for a local message forum: there is still some new transmission line work to be done.

WKBN has rigged up a temporary line until the factory-made new line can be created and flown in....so the station can stay on the air for the next few days. We're told that such a process is standard procedure in such antenna work.

With the work still in progress, Zocolo says that the WKBN facility has been operating at about 30 percent of its usual power, and will continue at that level until the final work is completed.

When will that be?

Checking the weather forecast - and even invoking "27 First News"' own meteorologist Don Guthrie - Zocolo says it looks like the final work will be done late Sunday night into Monday morning, from midnight to 5 AM.

Assuming all goes well, Monday morning should bring the stronger signal...though as noted before, WKBN's regular digital signal even before this move was picked up with very little difficulty by those in the core of the Mahoning Valley area.

In the explanation, WKBN's Zocolo also says sister-via-LMA WYTV/33's work is up next after WKBN's:

In this case, all of the old analog antenna and transmission line must first be removed from the tower before the new line and antenna can be installed. I have no estimate on the time frame because every bit of tower work is dependent upon the weather conditions.

Even when it’s not raining, high winds can stop work at the top of the tower. Just as an example, the crew has been on site at WKBN for a little over a month. We’ve needed about 10 good working days to get where we are right now…

Thank you, Tom, for writing all this up, and for forwarding it to us directly!

THE BSK SPEAKS: As hinted earlier, long-time Cleveland sports media personality Kendall Lewis has said his first words "on air" since suffering a stroke in recent weeks.

"The BSK"'s current job is as program director and afternoon drive host for Paul Belfi's Internet sports operation SportsTalkCleveland.com, and thus, his first post-stroke call was to STC's "Press Box Rants" show with Greg Kozarik.

You can hear Kendall's call via audio posted to this page.

To us, "The BSK" sounds like he could indeed resume his program soon, though he cautioned that he's still working on not only his voice, but other resulting problems from the stroke...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two More Upgrades

Mid-October is apparently the season for local TV and radio signal upgrades, and there are two more we haven't yet told you about.

Briefly before that: everyone short of the Cuyahoga County dog catcher has E-mailed us to let us know that producer/sidekick/update anchor Josh Sabo is apparently out at Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland "ESPN 850", at least according to an announcement made on the station's "Really Big Show with Tony Rizzo" earlier today.

We didn't hear the announcement, and as of yet, don't know any details about Sabo's apparent departure from the sports talk station. If we find out anything, we'll let you know.

For now, back to the technical facilities upgrades...one on the TV side, one on radio:

49 PLUS 70: A Cuyahoga County viewer E-mailed us late last week, wondering if Western Reserve PBS' WEAO/49 Akron had upgraded its digital over-air facilities on RF channel 50. He tells us he's seeing a stronger signal from the station.

No, you aren't imagining that, and it's not just temporary atmospheric conditions (or shedding leaves).

Our good friends over at Campus Center Drive in Kent tell us that indeed, WEAO lit up its post-transition "maximized" construction permit on October 15th. The upgrade pushes the Akron half of the Western Reserve PBS simulcast from 180 kW to 250 kW.

It's not the only facility upgrade for the public TV outlet.

OMW also hears that Youngstown viewers will get the digital replacement for the former analog translator on Channel 58, soon...with arrival and installation of the new digital Channel 44 translator (W44CR) expected within the next couple of weeks.

RADIO UPGRADE: Canton-based religious broadcaster WILB/1060 has lit up its upgraded facility.

The upgrade takes WILB "Living Bread Radio" from 5 kW to 15 kW, and gets it at least a chunk of Cuyahoga County.

Not like you'd know they realize that, from an announcement on the Living Bread Radio website:

Catholic Radio in Cleveland - AM 1060

AM 1060 WILB has expanded its coverage area from 1 million listeners to more than 2 million in Northeast Ohio. With the completion of a two year 15,000 watt signal upgrade project and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval of the upgrade AM 106(0) began transmitting at 15,000 watts on October 20, 2009.


We say hello to Cuyahoga County and surrounding areas after more than 5 years of transmitting the Word of God to Stark, Summit and Carroll Counties. Join us as we welcome Cleveland and the surrounding areas to our AM 1060 Radio Family.

They were in such a hurry to announce the upgrade, the Living Bread Radio folks grabbed another web page about another event, and blew past the spacebar a few times.

Of course, even with 15 kW of power, there are other problems for WILB.

First and foremost, it is and will always be a daytime station, at least as long as CBS Radio powerhouse KYW/1060 is around.

Second, even within the daytime parameters, WILB had to squeeze in next to other stations - like second adjacent WJTB/1040 North Ridgeville, and had to consider first adjacent CHOK/1070 Sarnia ONT, second adjacent WWNL/1080 Pittsburgh and the like.

(Our favorite part of the WILB construction permit application - the station showing that 1090 kHz wasn't a problem, since no station in the entire region will ever be authorized for 1090 with Clear Channel talk giant WTAM on 1100.)

We haven't been on the northern edge of the new WILB signal yet, and weren't really listeners before, anyway...but a quick radio check today easily shows a more powerful WILB than we remember hearing. A lot of times, these upgrades on the AM side aren't just about reaching new areas...they're about punching through the increased noise on the AM band...

AND TV RELATED RADIO: OMW hears that as scheduled, New Vision CBS affiliate WKBN-TV/27 Youngstown has turned off its transmitter today - to allow the move of its digital antenna to the top of the 1432 foot tower today.

The move from "side mount" to "top mount" could improve fringe area or nearby market reception of WKBN's digital signal, which also carries sister Fox affiliate "Fox Youngstown" on digital subchannel 27.2 (in high-definition, along with WKBN).

Those looking for the missing over-air CBS and Fox programming in Youngstown can find it on Time Warner Cable and Armstrong Cable, which are fed via fiber from the stations' Sunset Boulevard studios. We aren't in the market to check, but we'll assume the station is also continuing to feed the original low-power analog TV homes of Fox Youngstown programming - WYFX-LP 62 Youngstown and WFXI-CA 17 Mercer.

One thing we didn't mention earlier: the WKBN-TV antenna move today also affects a former sister station.

Yes, that's the former WKBN-FM on the WKBN-TV tower. Clear Channel Youngstown director of engineering John Clarke checks in with OMW about the status of WMXY/98.9:

WMXY's (original calls WKBN-FM) main antenna is located at the 1370 foot level on the South tower at Sunset Blvd, just below the top mount TV stick.

When the tower crew is within 100 feet of our main panel antenna, we move WMXY over to our Auxiliary antenna site on the 550 foot North tower.

We have been operating on the auxiliary antenna during the daytime hours most good weather days the last week...while they rig the tower for the move.

While we are operating at 25 KW ERP from the Auxiliary antenna, we lose some fringe coverage and no HD operation from the Auxiliary site.

So, if you're a bit far afield from Youngstown today and having trouble receiving the station now known as hot AC WMXY/98.9 "Mix 98.9", you'll know why.

One of our readers in Cleveland's Slavic Village area is asking if the WKBN-TV upgrade will get its signal into downtown Cleveland.

Well, probably not, we'd guess. We know people as far west as Parma who've been able to get the WKBN signal, but we'd be shocked if it was a regular visitor into downtown Cleveland.

More so than from Cleveland/Akron/Canton viewers, the WKBN upgrade today will likely be welcomed by in-market viewers in places like Mercer County PA...any reception we get over on this side of Youngstown, outside of its home market, is a sheer bonus...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On The Tuesday Radio Side

After an item chock full of digital TV news, it's time to expand our Tuesday diet to radio. And yes, we know. We know...the below.

KIM'S RETURN: Yes, you let us know by E-mail, by carrier pigeon, by taking out a billboard (well, almost).

That was indeed former Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 afternoon drive co-host Kim Mihalik on her former home station over the weekend, guest hosting the Clear Channel talk station's local Browns post-game coverage on Sunday afternoon.

(WTAM airs its own post-game show after Browns games - the network post-game call-in show airs on the FM flagship, rock-but-really-talk-considering-Rover-and-Maxwell WMMS/100.7.)

It's an on-air role that until this week was filled by WTAM sports talk host/Indians beat reporter Mark Schwab, who's since left "The Big One" for the weekend sports anchor role at Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19's "19 Action News".

It actually wasn't Kim's first on-air appearance on her former station, where she was let go in November 2005 for "budgetary reasons".

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) cut down on his Triv Diet many, many months ago, so we only occasionally check in with Mike Trivisonno's WTAM afternoon drive talk fest these days.

It was by sheer accident that we hit the button for WTAM on the OMW Mobile radio Friday, and heard Mihalik good naturedly bantering back and forth (by phone) with Triv about an "embarrassing" incident back when she was on the show.

If there was any leftover animosity between the two since her departure from Oak Tree in 2005, it wasn't showing on the air at all...though we had no idea at the time that she was about to do a fill-in sports talk stint that weekend.

After leaving WTAM, Mihalik was best known for her stint on the local post-Stern/David Lee Roth CBS Radio classic rock WNCX/98.5 morning drive show with Wynn "Mud" Richards and local radio vet and OMW reader Mike Olszewski. The 'NCX morning slot is now filled by host Scott Miller and comedian Jeff Blanchard.

Kim also did some TV work for Fox Sports Ohio's "Cleveland Rants", back when that show still existed.

Is she in line for a regular return to WTAM? That's the question on readers' minds, if our E-mail is any indication.

There is an opening at 1100, after all...but would the former Triv co-host be in the consideration for Mark Schwab's former position as Indians beat reporter and sports host?

For the moment, we don't know the answer to that question - from either side of the ledger.

We get the idea that for now, at least, Mihalik is just helping out the short staffed WTAM sports department with some weekend fill-in...

SPEAKING OF SPORTS: OMW has very much covered the march of spoken word formats to the FM dial, such as news/talk and sports. We've also tried to cover the use of FM translators to provide better "fill-in" coverage for AM stations, a practice which is now officially in the FCC rules.

This one covers both.

Gunther Meisse's WRGM/1440 Ontario, the Mansfield area's ESPN Radio affiliate, has now lit up an FM signal on 97.3.

From the story (dated October 15th) on WRGM sister TV station WMFD/68's website:

Today, WRGM AM1440 has begun simulcasting on 97.3FM in Mansfield, Ontario and Lexington to over 70,000 people. This makes WRGM AM1440 / 97.3FM the First FM sports station in the market.

97.3 is legally W247BL/Crestline, a 120 watt translator Meisse's group bought from Mansfield Christian School - owners of Christian contemporary WVMC/90.7 - a while back.

The FCC has been granting special temporary authority for AM stations in certain conditions (low power or directional night signal, etc.) to use FM translators as "fill-ins" to the anemic AM signal. As of earlier this month, what had been a piecemeal policy - STA by STA - is now reality in FCC rules.

WRGM would certainly qualify, signal wise.

The 1000 watt daytime signal on 1440 is highly directional, but serviceable for most of the Mansfield area...with some notable exceptions north and east of the WRGM tower.

But there are holes-a-plenty in WRGM's 28 watt (!) nighttime signal, and many of them not at all far from the Meisse complex on Park Avenue West in Mansfield.

The 120 watt signal of W247BL/97.3 Crestline eminates from that Meisse tower on Park Avenue West, and when you consider that mono programming will eliminate "stereo flutter" on the edges of the signal, it should cover a decent chunk of the immediate Richland County area.

Meisse also owns AC WVNO/106.1 "Mix 106", as well as the aforementioned WMFD/68 and its low-power sister station/WMFD subchannel WOHZ-CA/41, which mostly features classified advertising text, weather information and WVNO's audio...