Shortly after the start of every new year, some radio stations feel it's a great time for a fresh start...with a format change.
Since they're not in our regular listening area, OMW missed two of them - but we've caught up with them a full week before the end of January, so we can say "this month"...
W-WOW BACK TO TALK: The format wheel has been spun so often at one small Northeast Ohio station, WWOW/1360 Conneaut, we wouldn't be surprised to see TV's Vanna White around.
Its most recent format was Catholic religion, courtesy of the audio feed from Eternal Word Television Network as "Walking On Water Radio". Before that, it ran Citadel/ABC's "True Oldies Channel" satellite-fed format from New York morning radio host Scott Shannon's basement. Or perhaps from a closet near his "day job" at Citadel/ABC's WPLJ in the Big Apple.
The small station just a handful of miles from the Pennsylvania border brought in its own version of Vanna again on January 5th, and has landed on a news/talk format - again.
PBRTV contributor Tom Lavery gave us the first heads-up of the new format, which has a 7-9 AM local morning show:
The W-WOW morning show is hosted by Marty Landon and Gary Gersin with weather from WICU TV 12 meteorologist Julie Coates. The syndicated fare includes Laura Ingraham, Dave Ramsey, Bill Bennett and Sean Hannity.
The station lists local sports and a Saturday sports talk show, and has a new website...with a schedule that still lists some EWTN programming in late night and weekends, and what appears to be a midday 12-2 PM block with various local programs.
Ashtabula Star-Beacon writer and OMW reader Robert Lebzelter has more in an article from December. It quotes Landon, also the station's general manager, as saying the station seeks to fill a news/talk format void in Ashtabula County - a void caused by new WFUN/970 owner Media One Group's flip of the former Clear Channel talk station to sports as "ESPN 970".
In its previous news/talk incarnation, WWOW sold time (we presume) to Youngstown's Louie Free, his brokered talk show now heard back in Youngstown in middays on Bernard Radio gospel WASN/1500.
Judging from a listen to a recording of its first morning show on the station's website, it isn't shying away from using the "W-WOW" name for the station.
"W-WOW" went Catholic, format wise, shortly after John Marra Jr.'s Cause Plus Marketing bought the station...
JUST BARELY IN THE OMW COVERAGE AREA: A Youngstown-market reader tipped us that Forever's WJST/1280 New Castle PA dumped oldies in favor of sports, and we have confirmed it.
A dip into the Mahoning Valley allowed us a shot at hearing the station now calling itself "Fox Sports 1280", which is a format change from its previous incarnation as an oldies station ("Just Oldies").
We don't know when WJST made the format change, but we're presuming it was sometime earlier this month.
Friday, we heard WJST running the Dan Patrick Show (we presume from his new simulcast via Fox Sports Radio), and Premiere's Jim Rome. And, a Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl fight song we'd rather forget. (Can't Ohio pass a law jamming that sort of thing on our side of the border? Hmmm?)
Those desparately seeking out oldies music in the New Castle area can find it on Keymarket sister FM WKPL/92.1 Ellwood City PA, the 8,000th Western Pennsylvania incarnation of "The Pickle", running ABC/Citadel's 24-hour oldies format "Pure Gold"/"Classic Hits Radio" in tandem with sister WPKL/99.3 Uniontown PA.
(If we remember right last time we were within range of 1280, it was running Jones Radio's oldies format.)
92.1 is also audible in parts of the Youngstown market even from its new base near Beaver Falls. It was originally licensed to New Castle...and once had the WJST(-FM) calls, which it adopted after its original WKST-FM calls were moved to Pittsburgh's "96.1 Kiss FM"...