Saturday, February 28, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Paul Harvey Has Died

UPDATE 2/28/09 10:22 PM: ABC News has posted its extensive story on Paul Harvey at

UPDATE 2/28/09 10:06 PM: ABC News Radio has produced an hour-long tribute to Paul Harvey, hosted by regular substitute Gil Gross.

Paul Harvey News affiliate WAKR/1590 in Akron aired the special tonight, and program director Chuck Collins noted on the air that the ABC Harvey tribute will air again Sunday at noon...

UPDATE 2/28/09 9:08 PM: Here are some articles on the death of Paul Harvey -

USA Today's Peter Johnson

The Associated Press

Mr. Harvey's syndicator, ABC Radio Networks, has released a statement here from network president Jim Robinson. Quoting it:

Paul Harvey was one of the most gifted and beloved broadcasters in our nation’s history. As he delivered the news each day with his own unique style and commentary, his voice became a trusted friend in American households. His career in radio spanned more than seven decades, during which time countless millions of listeners were both informed and entertained by his “News & Comment” and “Rest of the Story” features.

Even after the passing of his loving wife Angel in May 2008, Paul would not slip quietly into retirement as he continued to take the microphone and reach out to his audience. We will miss our dear friend tremendously and are grateful for the many years we were so fortunate to have known him. Our thoughts and prayers are now with his son Paul Jr. and the rest of the Harvey family.


Word is coming out tonight that veteran ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey has died at the age of 90.

We're still tracking down details...we'll link them here later.

For now, the official confirmation comes from a brief mention of Harvey's death atop the front page of tonight...

Joining the Twitter World

OMW has been continuously updated since June 2005 (give or take a short hiatus or ten), so if you're new here, you're forgiven if you think we've been around forever.

In fact, when announcing the start of OMW on one of the various message boards, we joked that we were "the last on earth to start a blog", and wondered if some household pets had beaten us to the blogging punch.

Fast forward to today, and we wonder if we're the last on earth to Twitter.

Starting our Twitter account today, we think we beat a few cats and dogs to the World of Tweets. Feel free to follow us at, you guessed it, ohiomediawatch. (Or is that @ohiomediawatch?)

From that link, if you're already on Twitter you can click the "Follow" button under our Twitter account name, and that makes it easy.

We promise that you won't be forced to read about our lunch menu or grocery shopping. We'll mainly limit our "tweets" to announcement of new posted items, making it easy for you to know if we have an update here.

We may also throw in occasional random media-related items, links or just thoughts with no place in an OMW update. We're also able to send out mobile updates.

We're still getting the hang of the Land of Tweets.

Like many who didn't dip their toes into the TwitterWater, we were having trouble grasping the concept...but once we were "in", we got it. We could describe our thoughts, but really, just getting in there and watching/updating/responding will bring it into focus much quicker.

So do some media outlets, as we've reported earlier. We've signed up so far to follow many major media outlets: WKYC/3 (wkyc), WEWS/5 (WEWS), WJW/8 (fox8news) WOIO/19 (19actionnews) and Rubber City Radio-WAKR/1590's AkronNewsNow (akronnewsnow). We're still searching for others.

So, welcome to the "next step" in our online evolution. Hopefully, the notification provided by Twitter will help you be able to come back here when we actually have material...

Friday, February 27, 2009

THIS JUST IN: WKDD Wants To Return Home

It's been nearly eight years since Clear Channel Akron market hot AC WKDD stopped airing from its transmitter site on Bellaire Lane in Cuyahoga Falls in 2001 - its format heading for Canton-licensed 98.1, the former WHK-FM and WTOF-FM.

WKDD has now officially filed to return to that former home.

The station, now licensed to the Akron suburb of Munroe Falls, has filed an application with the FCC to move from its current Hartville facilities on 98.1, to the Bellaire Lane site...and literally to the same tower that the former WKDD/96.5 occupied going back to its days as WCUE-FM. (Back then, the Bellaire site was in the old Northampton Township.)

The only difference, assuming the move gets FCC approval, is that the station now known as WKDD will be coming from that tower on 98.1, as 96.5's transmitter site moved north to Brecksville as Cleveland-market top 40 WAKS "Kiss FM".

It's not like we didn't see this coming.

No, really, we did see this coming, though it didn't exactly take an expert to figure it out.

From an item we filed last November, when WKDD won the community of license change from Canton to Munroe Falls:

Presumably, the change from Canton to Munroe Falls could eventually allow WKDD to nudge the 98.1 signal somewhere else (say, closer to Akron), though it doesn't change the various other considerable technical considerations that would limit any such move...among them, a powerful second-adjacent Cleveland signal in CBS Radio's WNCX/98.5, not to mention a third-adjacent signal right in Akron - Rubber City Radio's WONE/97.5.

The WKDD application covers all of this, with mentions of allowed or grandfathered short spacing throughout this document. It also addresses nearby stations in Ashtabula (WYBL/98.3, a relatively new station once owned by Clear Channel) and Fredericktown (WXXR/98.3, a station still owned by the company), not to mention an allocation filed in London, Ontario, Canada.

The new Bellaire facility would be a 50 kW class B station 138 meters above average terrain, so it'd definitely improve WKDD's coverage in the Akron market. Here's a predicted contour map, also from the application.

Shortly after Clear Channel realized that the former WTOF-FM's facilities east of Canton in Louisville were just not adequate for the Akron market - not long after the "Great Frequency Swap of 2001" in Northeast Ohio - the new home of WKDD moved to the Hartville site in northern Stark County...which it will continue to use until this application is approved...

Another Friday Mix

It looks like another Friday mix as we close out the week, though we could have another piece of news later today.

And no, "Mix" doesn't mean we're going to put up a computerized female voice announcing songs...

PRINT WOES: As the rumor mill buzzes about yet another round of job cuts said to be in the works at one Northeast Ohio newspaper publisher, yet another major daily newspaper has printed its final edition.

Denver is a one newspaper town after today, as the very last edition of the Rocky Mountain News hit the newsstands and reader doorsteps this morning.

And yes, there is an Ohio connection here..."The Rocky", as it's called in Colorado, was owned by Cincinnati-based Scripps, the same chain which closed the Cincinnati Post last year. And of course, Scripps also owns two Ohio ABC affiliates - Cincinnati's WCPO/9 and Cleveland's WEWS/5.

Scripps put "The Rocky" up for sale just this last December. You don't need to be an economist or a scholarly observer of the newspaper industry to know that selling a newspaper in 2008/2009 is even more difficult than selling a home - particularly when you map out just four weeks to sell the thing.

The obituary for the Denver market's second newspaper is was killed by a poor economy, slumping ad sales, and all the other economic woes print media has faced. Unique to print: the loss of $100 million worth of classified advertising, swiped by the Internet and free online sites like Craigslist.

The now-dead paper's website has a lot of information on the closure, including an excellent in-house produced 21 minute video on the end of "The Rocky" called "Final Edition".

The Rocky Mountain News' closure today presumably leaves the only remaining newspaper in what was a joint operating agreement - the Denver Post - in better financial shape.

But Dean Singleton, Post publisher and chief executive of Post owner MediaNews Group, was left Thursday to assure readers that the Post will...umm...survive. Those economic realities faced by newspapers will only be slightly less daunting to the remaining Denver newspaper, which may not stem its own losses even without a competitor.

Out west, the Hearst-owned San Francisco Chronicle, the city's major daily newspaper, recently announced that it was for sale...and if that didn't happen, the paper could itself close down, leaving only the free tabloid version of the San Francisco Examiner behind. (Singleton's MediaNews owns papers around the Bay Area, including in Oakland and in San Jose.)

Oddly enough, one Denver radio executive tells Inside Radio that radio there will "undoubtedly see a lift" from the Rocky Mountain News' demise.

We'll have more details on those local newspaper rumors as soon as we can confirm them. Even if they aren't accurate, we're not going out on a limb when we predict more bad newspaper news in Northeast Ohio, and probably soon...

UPSIDE: We have a small piece of economic/employment good news, at least for one Ohio radio guy.

He's Glenn Forbes, the former Clear Channel talk WSPD/1370 Toledo staffer who lost his job in the Clear Channel Inauguration Day job of 1,850 Clear Channel employees to hit the unemployment line on January 20th.

Forbes has landed as a news editor at Newark's WCLT/1430 and sister WCLT-FM/100.3 "T-100". He tells OMW that he started at WCLT last week.

Oh, that reminds us of another media landing: Former WNWO/24 Toledo "NBC24" primary anchor Jim Blue hops onto the Ohio Turnpike, heads into Indiana, and south on I-69 to a startup TV news operation in Fort Wayne IN.

Blue will be the news director and primary anchor for Nexstar Fox affiliate WFFT/55 "Fox Fort Wayne"'s new 10 PM newscast, which is set to begin in April.

Our original hat tip on this goes to our colleague Blaine Thompson at Indiana RadioWatch, who told us about it earlier this week.

While we're talking about the Barrington Broadcasting-owned NBC affiliate which once employed Blue, we'll point to an excellent article in the Toledo Free Press: Media personalities join Toledoans pinched by economy.

WUPW "Fox Toledo" reporter Barrett Andrews talks to Blue, and to local radio personalities dumped in recent corporate downsizing - including former Cumulus talk WTOD/1560 morning host Tom Watkins, who left instead of being paid minimum wage for his two hour "Toledo Today" weekday program. (And really, when your pay barely justifies gassing up the car to drive to the studio, do you have much choice?)

But on the subject of WNWO, we feel the need to highlight this:

Shenikwa Stratford, who most recently served as the station’s primary anchor, had been with the station more than seven years. Some people thought she, too, had been a victim of the layoffs this winter, until she explained to viewers that her departure was on her own terms.

“The station offered me to stay here as long as I wanted to be here, but I decided almost a year ago that after I had this little girl, I wanted to be able to stay home,” she said in her televised farewell.

We've pointed this out before, but "some people thought" she'd been laid off because, well, the Toledo Blade reported that she had been among those laid off. Feel free to plug "WNWO" into our search box for a reminder...

SATELLITE INFOMERCIALS: If you have a satellite dish and a burning need to watch infomercials, you can now do so on both major satellite TV services.

Numerous OMW readers tell us that Multicultural Broadcasting infomerical outlet WOAC/67 Canton has landed in the Cleveland local channels lineup of Dish Network, airing the parade of long-form TV ads on channel 47.

A quick trip to Dish's local channel lookup confirms the WOAC addition.

47, of course, is the underlying RF channel for WOAC's now-digital-only operation. WMFD/68 Mansfield is also in the Dish lineup on its RF channel, 12.

Though Dish seems to be gravitating towards that RF channel numbering for stations which no longer offer analog broadcasts, the FCC continues to mandate that digial channels identify by their old analog number in "PSIP" information sent out with the digital stream.

Thus, despite Dish Network, WOAC continues to show up as "67-1" on digital over-air tuners, and WMFD as "68-1". WOAC and WMFD already have DirecTV carriage on the Cleveland local channels packages, as 67 and 68...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sue Ann Robak Exiting WEWS

OMW has confirmed that WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5" sports reporter/anchor Sue Ann Robak is working her last week at the Cleveland ABC affiliate.

We hear that Robak's contract isn't being renewed, and that Friday will be her last day at Scripps-owned Channel 5. We're also hearing that she won't be replaced, and that the "NewsChannel 5" sports department will shrink to just two people - sports director Andy Baskin and reporter/anchor Terry Brooks.

Though WEWS has indeed managed to become the only local Cleveland TV news operation to avoid direct layoffs, Scripps - along with every other major TV station ownership group - is trying to cut costs amid the cratering advertising market and the faltering economy.

We reported on the company's efforts to cut costs just last week. Note the phrase "hiring freeze" in that item, which explains Ms. Robak not being replaced.

And not renewing an already-expiring contract is a pretty straightforward way to do just that. (Remember, struggling Gannett didn't come to a renewal agreement with now-former WKYC/3 anchor Tim White, opting instead to elevate anchor Romona Robinson to primary solo anchor for most newscasts.)

When we say WEWS will opt for a two-person sports department, we mean that quite literally. OMW hears that an off-air sports producer was moved into a news producing role, and wasn't replaced.

So, when your Cleveland Cavaliers are once again hoping to drive to an NBA title, and when the Cleveland Indians open their regular season at Progressive Field in April, it'll be up to Baskin and Brooks to juggle long schedules...much like Robak did herself when she was the ONLY member of the "NewsChannel 5" on-air sports staff.

Remember our phrase for her? "The Overworked Sue Ann Robak"? We'll be able to apply that phrase to Mr. Baskin and Mr. Brooks soon...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Odd And Not So Odd Midweek

This midweek post is an odd collection of items...though we'll start with the "not so odd" part...

CALL HIM A HALL OF FAMER: After next Tuesday, Clear Channel Cleveland country outlet WGAR/99.5 will officially be able to call one of its staffers a "Hall of Famer".

As OMW reported back in October, WGAR afternoon drive star Chuck Collier will be inducted into the Country Music Radio Hall of Fame in Nashville on March 3rd.

Quoting a Clear Channel release on next week's induction:

After his induction ceremony on Tuesday, Collier’s image will join the wall of those enshrined, located inside the Nashville Convention Center, as a permanent honor. With his induction, Collier joins an exclusive group of fewer than 100 members inside the Country Radio Hall of Fame. Collier was picked for this honor by a national board of industry leaders.

“This is definitely one of the highlights of my radio career,” said Chuck Collier. He continued, “Country Music has been such a big part of my life and it is incredible to be recognized with one of the top honors in the industry.”

“I could not be happier for Chuck,” said WGAR Program Director Brian Jennings. He continued, “Chuck is such a huge part of WGAR and an even bigger part of country music than most realize. He’s been witness to some of country music’s greatest moments and a player in many more.”

Collier - also WGAR's music director - has been saying the WGAR call letters nearly continuously for nearly 40 years. Aside from a brief stint in New York City, he's been a WGAR mainstay - dating back to 1970, when he joined the station which was then on AM 1220.

(For those coming in from the outside, 1220 later became sports talker WKNR after WGAR camped out on 99.5, and is now religious WHKW "The Word".)

He's also no stranger to picking up awards and getting recognition. Collier was inducted into the Ohio Radio-TV Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2005, and won an NAB Marconi Award in 2007 for Large Market Personality of the Year...

UH, OK...WE'RE STILL FIGURING THIS OUT: Clear Channel Toledo rock WIOT/104.7 afternoon driver Pyke has apparently established quite a beachhead at the iconic Northwest Ohio rocker.

And like a lot of personalities, he's been branching out via voicetracking.

Pyke has already been voicetracking within the Clear Channel empire, doing morning drive for alt-rock WTZB/105.9 "The Buzz" in the Sarasota FL market.

But as for Pyke's newest outlet? Uh...OK.

AllAccess reports that Pyke is now handling the noon-3 PM shift ("Pyke's Afternoon Delight") at Tallahassee FL market rimshot AM active rocker WSBX/1020 - we presume also via voicetracking from Toledo.

Yes, we said "AM active rocker", and yes, we said "Tallahassee FL rimshot".

The station is operated by one Woody Nelson, a former Southern California radio type who gets a lot of humorous pokes from various radio message board types.

Some would call his story "unintentional comedy", and it's been a quite a struggle to get the small daytimer near Thomasville GA (owned by his mother) up and running...which finally happened a couple of months ago.

We'll decline to enter into the message board fray, but note that Nelson is quite a self-promoter in the mold of one Dino Costa, the former WATJ/1560 Chardon sports talk host who made the arrival of a transmitter an event in his "help wanted" ads for a talk station he was briefly running in Jacksonville FL.

Nelson and Pyke apparently are friends and former co-workers from Nelson's time at "Cabo Wabo Radio". We'll leave it to the reader to research the disposition of that operation, and to find the various conversations about WSBX and Mr. Nelson on the message boards.

Nelson, who does morning drive on his station, had apparently planned an "active talk" format for AM 1020, but cites the end of Westwood One's syndication of Tom Leykis for nudging him into "active rock". Yes, on a small city, small market rimshot AM station that makes Kent's WJMP look like a powerhouse into Akron.

It shows the ease of voicetracking...Pyke can help out his friend's station from the comfort of Toledo, and continue to enjoy his popularity on WIOT.

In case you want to check out what Pyke sounds like on an AM "active rock" station in a small southern Georgia town, WSBX does offer a web stream at its website...

MAJIC OLDIE: No, that's not "oldie" in terms of the music on Clear Channel Cleveland classic hits station WMJI/105.7 "Majic 105.7", but a website.

OMW reader Chuck Matthews points out that there's still an old WMJI website out there on the Internet today.

The 1996 vintage site from the station's OmniAmerica ownership days is hosted on somewhere on the servers of the web provider which built it for WMJI, and is likely to bring back some listener memories.

Click on the "Majic DJs" page, and you'll see a lot of names listeners will remember.

For one, the station's morning show was "Lanigan, Webster and Malone" in those days, with John Webster still in the mix with John Lanigan and Jimmy Malone...and now-WJW "Fox 8" sports anchor and WKNR/850 "ESPN 850" mid-morning host Tony Rizzo on sports. (At the time, of course, Rizz went across the OmniAmerica hall after the WMJI morning show to do his sports talk show on WHK/1420 "The Voice of the Fan".)

The weekday airstaff included names such as Ravenna Miceli in middays and Scott Howitt in afternoon drive, with Sandy Bennett in overnights.

And look! It's WKYC/3 morning host Mark Nolan as a "Fill-in Air Talent", before he eventually landed as the Cleveland NBC affiliate's chief meteorologist, then morning news host.

The page also includes a picture of Chris "The Mighty" Quinn, the local radio legend (and OMW reader!) who passed away recently, Denny Sanders and now-WTAM/1100 afternoon news anchor Carmen Angelo early in his radio career...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Syndie Hosts

Two new syndicated talk radio hosts are embarking on a new national, expected, and one, just announced.

ALREADY SET: The "expected" host is former Republican presidential candidate, Tennessee senator and star of NBC's "Law & Order", Fred Thompson, who takes the Westwood One 12 noon-2 PM weekday clearance being abandoned by Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly and his "Radio Factor" starting on Monday, March 2nd.

One of O'Reilly's two Northeast Ohio affiliates has already announced that it is carrying Thompson's Washington DC-based show: Spirit Media talk/variety WELW/1330 Willoughby is listing Thompson's show on its online schedule, and has a blurb about the new host on its programming page.

The other "Radio Factor" affiliate, Media-Com Akron market talker WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron", still lists O'Reilly's delayed weekend evening clearance on its website schedule.

Our bet - that WNIR will keep the Westwood One satellite feed/delay going on Saturday and Sunday nights, and start airing Thompson's show a week from Saturday evening.

It's what the station did when Laura Ingraham's old Westwood One evening show was replaced by a show hosted by Portland OR-based Lars Larson, who still airs Saturday and Sunday 7-10 PM on delay...and sometimes live, when local evening host Tom Erickson takes a night off.

With WNIR's "bread and butter" being local programming, the station doesn't spend a lot of time messing with the weekend evening/late night national talk show replays - nor, really, should it...

AND NEW: Clear Channel's Premiere Radio syndication arm is beefing up its conservative talk lineup.

The company has launched KTLK-FM/Minneapolis-based host Jason Lewis onto its nationally-syndicated schedule, airing from 6-9 PM (Eastern) weekdays.

Lewis is a familiar voice to Rush Limbaugh's listeners...he's been a frequent sub for Rush for a while now.

And talk about fertile ground for new talk show hosts...the Rush Sub Brigade has launched no fewer than four hosts into their own syndication deals. On that list: Salem's Michael Medved, KOGO/San Diego host Roger Hedgecock (via Radio America), KFBK/Sacramento host Tom Sullivan (via Fox News Radio) and now Lewis.

Of those hosts, only one - Medved - is heard locally via Salem's own Cleveland talker, WHK/1420.

Lewis' new show means Premiere has a stake in its own syndicated conservative talk programming from 9 AM through 9 PM weekdays, counting the company's new joint venture with ABC Radio for Sean Hannity.

We're wondering how Clear Channel stations will take to Jason Lewis. Many of them have moved away from controversial Talk Radio Networks host Michael Savage, and ABC Radio's Mark Levin has picked up a lot of those clearances (and recently expanded his show to the full 6-9 PM Eastern time slot from a two hour 6-8 PM show).

Will the Clear Channel Levin affiliates pick up Lewis, even on a delayed basis?

We'll see...

Enough To Run

We're a day late, and hopefully not a dollar short...but to be honest, aside from issues like the news video sharing plan among Cleveland TV newsrooms, not much has been going on.

We do have some items this Tuesday morning, though...

SPORTS SHUFFLE: Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 and Media-Com sports WJMP/1520 in the Akron market* have shuffled networks and formats quite a few times before, and OMW hears it's in the works least network-wise.

It won't be happening right away, but we're hearing "SportsRadio 1350" will officially return to the Fox Sports Radio affiliate lineup later this year - taking the network from Kent-based daytimer WJMP.

We're hearing that "Fox Sports 1520" will indeed make the direct network swap with 1350, and that the Lightbulb Rimshot Daytimer on Route 59 Across From The Wal-Mart will take the Sporting News Radio affiliation that WARF is leaving behind.

We believe the switch is expected to happen sometime in early June, as we're hearing out of the Brady Lake Media Empire that 1520 has been given notice by Fox Sports Radio to end its carriage on WJMP.

OMW hears that the 1350 lineup will remain the same after the switch in two key time slots - the station will continue to carry syndicated shows from The Content Factory's Dan Patrick (9-noon) and Tony Bruno (10 PM-1 AM).

(Yes, it's a Clear Channel-run Akron sports station, so there's some state law that requires WARF to carry Tony Bruno...)

And we also hear that it's expected that Premiere early afternoon sports talk mainstay Jim Rome will make the move from 1520 to 1350 as well. Of course, unless you're in the parking lot of that Wal-Mart between Kent and Ravenna, you're probably listening to Romey on Cleveland affiliate WKNR/850 "ESPN 850", but that's another matter.

Some of this became a bit muddled recently, with Fox Sports Radio adding Patrick's already-syndicated-separately show as a regular part of their lineup. That's placed the former ESPN Radio/"SportsCenter" personality on both WARF (via syndication) and on WJMP (via FSR) for the past few weeks...the latter clearance by default, really.

Bruno's Content Factory show is not a part of the FSR lineup, and WJMP is long into its night's slumber when Bruno airs at 10 PM Eastern, anyway.

And yes, the asterisk means that WJMP is technically "in the Akron market", but doesn't serve a large chunk of even Akron itself with a listenable signal...

NO THIS YET: There's still no sign of actual programming on WUAB-DT 43.2, the digital subchannel of Raycom MyNetwork TV Cleveland market affiliate WUAB "My43", which is slated to run the new "This TV" digital network soon.

OMW hears from readers that Raycom has already debuted the "This" programming on a subchannel of WUAB sister station WXIX/19 in the Cincinnati market...and we also hear that "This TV" Cincinnati has now received digital cable clearance on Time Warner Cable's massive system in Southwest Ohio.

This leads us to believe, as we predicted, that TWC's massive system up here in Northeast Ohio will add "This TV" as well, presumably somewhere in the 370s digital channel wise.

We have no idea when WUAB-DT 43.2 will light up with "This TV". We only suspect that it must be soon, due to WXIX's carriage, and due to the fact that they can't possibly put up only the "This TV" ID slide on 43.2 for another year and four months...

SALEM'S COLUMBUS EXIT: Trade sites report that the general manager of Salem's only Columbus radio property, religious WRFD/880 "The Word", has left the building.

AllAccess reports that WRFD GM Dan Craig has exited, replaced - for now - by sales manager Tom Heyl.

OK, so we added the "for now" part, as WRFD is supposed to be headed for the portfolio of local broadcaster Christian Voice of Central Ohio, owners of crosstown CCM WCVO/104.9 "The River", and the "Promise Network" of religious FMs in central and southern Ohio.

The move is Salem's exit from the Columbus market, but it's not been without stalling... Salem filed with the FCC in December for an extension of time to connsumate the deal with CVCO, which had been approved by the FCC in September.

No, we don't know why the WRFD deal has been held up.

And we don't know if one of CVCO's other moves far from Ohio is related.

Some time ago, the Columbus-area broadcaster bought two AM stations in the Huntsville AL market (WTKI/1450 Huntsville AL-WDPT/1490 Decatur AL) - and installed a talk/religious simulcast on both of them known as "ProTalk"

"Pro" or not, the talk is gone from the now-silent Huntsville stations, with this message on the "ProTalk" website:

The Management and Board of Directors wants to thank our very dedicated listeners and advertisers of ProTalk.

As a result of current economic conditions, we have been forced to cease operations in Decatur and Huntsville.

The site directs Alabama listeners to send questions to WCVO general manager Dan Baughman, and gives a link to his E-Mail address at "104.9 The River".

Again, we don't know what this has to do - if anything - with the delayed CVCO purchase of WRFD back in Columbus...but we had to note it somewhere...

KELLAS PASSES: When your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) was in the Wheeling/Steubenville market recently for the digital TV transition of CBS(/Fox/ABC) affiliate WTRF/7 there, we did our usual run through the Ohio Valley radio dial.

We noted that on RCK-1 Group local talker WKKX/1600 Wheeling ("The Valley's WatchDAWG"), mid-afternoon host Steve Novotney was "in for" afternoon driver George Kellas.

Sadly, Kellas won't be returning to his afternoon show, or anywhere - as numerous media sources in the Wheeling area report that Kellas died of cancer last Thursday at the age of 53. The Wheeling Post-Intelligencer newspaper - calling Kellas "The Voice of the Valley" - has more.

And that "Voice of the Valley" tag is not at all hyperbole...nor is the description of "Ohio Valley broadcasting legend".

For one, Kellas' passing was also noted by his two former television employers, the aforementioned WTRF (where he worked from 1982 to 1994), and Cox NBC affiliate WTOV/9, where he worked from 1994 to 2002.

A veteran sports anchor for both stations, he branched out - not only into sports ownership (he owned the indoor football team known as the Ohio Valley Greyhounds), but into local issues talk radio...the most recent stint at WKKX being only his latest foray into the medium.

(We also seem to remember that his WKKX show was also once heard on WEIR/1430 Weirton WV, just across the river from Steubenville.)

Kellas started in broadcasting at now-Clear Channel talk WWVA/1170 in the mid-1970's, and spent many years there as well...sometimes overlapping with his TV stints.

As for his current home, WKKX's website contains a scrolling message:

"In Memory of George Kellas II / Please keep his family in your prayers / Georgie will be missed by all who knew him"

Kellas' WKKX bio is still up, with a detailed look at his career and life, here.

Even in a market the size of Wheeling, it's hard to find anyone that could be identified as the "voice" of the market as much as Kellas was there. If you're outside Wheeling and knew of just one local radio/TV personality there, it was probably George...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Random Week Exit

We're closing out our weekend with a random grab bag...and for once, we have media related news on the positive side...

MOVING UP: Long-time OMW reader Steve Kelly is moving up in the ranks at Saga's Columbus cluster.

After a shuffle among Saga's four radio stations in Ohio's capital city, AllAccess reports that the afternoon driver at AC WSNY/94.7 "Sunny 95" adds programming duties at the newly-moved classic hits WODB/104.3 "Big Hits B104-3".

The trade site also reports that the middayer at Saga's WJZA/103.5, production director Dan Trapp, adds assistant programmer duties at the smooth jazz outlet once paired with that other frequency at 104.3.

Here at the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), we've been writing about Steve Kelly for years, dating back to his days at Dover/New Philadelphia's WJER, then at 101.7 FM (now Clear Channel AC WHOF "My 101.7"). WJER continued on after Kelly left for Columbus and 101.7 left for the Canton market, at AM 1450...

NOW, THE BAD NEWS: Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 has been a relative island of employment-related stability in local TV news, with no major layoffs...compared to all the other newsrooms in the market.

Scripps, however, is not immune to the economic pressures facing the entire industry, and the entire nation.

Weak advertising sales - over a 25 percent drop in both regular local and regular national TV ad sales - have led to a number of cost-cutting moves...or "expense-control initiatives", as a Scripps release puts it.

Here in Cleveland, we're hearing those announced "initiatives" are being felt at "NewsChannel 5", including a loss of 401k matching, a pension freeze (apparently permanent even after conditions improve), and a hiring freeze. We're told other possibilities for belt tightening at 3001 Euclid include reduced overtime, four-day workweeks and early retirement offers.

But, we're told, "no layoffs" - yet.

Oddly enough, the Scripps chain reported an overall two percent INCREASE in television ad sales in the fourth quarter of 2008 over the same period a year ago...but without over $26 million in political advertising, the losses quickly take over the balance sheet...

BLOW HIM UP, TOM: In an earlier item, we noted the demise of Los Angeles FM talker KLSX/97.1 - an event which happened Friday evening.

Talking the station into the end of its talk era was afternoon driver Tom Leykis, who was also syndicated by Westwood One until recently.

We forgot to mention Tom's brief, but controversial history, on Northeast Ohio radio.

After "The Dating Show" veteran host Jim Albright left Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron" after a 20 year run, WNIR picked up the syndicated Leykis show for evenings.

About a month later, WNIR management surely shook their heads and thought, "what were we thinking?" Leykis' show did not last long on the Akron market talker.

By the time Leykis aired on WNIR, he was picking up steam as...well, kind of a "raunchy talker", with talk about men and women and sex, signing of certain female body parts with a Sharpie and the like.

All of that made the mating and dating overseen by Albright seem somewhat tame by comparison, and prompted a letter writing campaign by listeners. (Our take, from what we remember, is that Albright had a wide demographic appeal, and those not under 30 or so weren't thrilled with Leykis' base subject matter.)

We don't remember what took over directly for the deposed "Tom Leykis Show" clearance on WNIR, but the station eventually went with local host Tom Erickson for the 7-11 PM time slot.

And tying this all together with recent news: Albright left WNIR for a marketing gig at the Carousel Dinner Theatre, which recently closed its Akron location.

Long before that local entertainment destination closed, he had already left there for NextMedia talk WHBC/1480 Canton, first for off-air work, and later, for the afternoon drive talk show he hosted until...a week ago, when he was laid off in NextMedia's latest budget cuts...

HOLLYWOOD, DINE AND NATIONAL: Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 entertainment reporter David "Mossman" Moss' weekend show "Hollywood And Dine" is about to be unleashed nationally, via a clearance on Tribune cable/satellite channel WGN America.

Cleveland Plain Dealer media writer Julie Washington has more in an item from last Friday, that we missed while knee deep in digital TV preparation:

The half-hour program features Moss talking to Hollywood stars about their favorite recipes and dining experiences. It runs at 1 p.m. Saturdays on Channel 8.

"It's been very well received by the public, and we're excited to get it national exposure," (WJW general manager Greg) Easterly said.

But "Mossman" won't be going All Hollywood on us, or even All Chicago (home of WGN America). The article says he'll continue to produce the show at South Marginal...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The End Of The Road

Neither item below directly impacts this area - but some readers might be interested.

THE DEATH OF "FM TALK": The young male-skewing "FM talk" format, primarily seeded by former CBS Radio morning star Howard Stern, can pretty much be pronounced dead.

CBS Radio made a go of it with "Free FM", the company's post-Stern FM talk strategy.

After Stern went to Sirius Satellite Radio, the CBS outlets featured a trio of regionally syndicated Stern replacements, including Cleveland's own Shane "Rover" French, and the usual mix of "young guy talk" (sex, sports, booze, more sex, etc.) afterwards.

Some stations even jumped into the format, hoping for success.

But one of the biggest CBS Radio "FM talk" stalwarts is giving up the ghost...a station that went all-talk early on, and which was one of Stern's early syndicated affiliates.

Trade sites report that KLSX/97.1 in Los Angeles stops FM Talking after Friday, to morph into a new top 40 format aimed right at Clear Channel top 40 giant KIIS/102.7 "Kiss FM"...the archetype for all the company's top 40s (including WAKS/96.5) here, and the home station for the Ryan Seacrest Push Across America.

CBS' entry into the Los Angeles top 40 sweepstakes has a twist or two, reports AllAccess:

A wide array of events and concerts will be complemented by an online platform featuring "blogs, music videos, widgets, photo galleries, celebrity gossip reports, in-depth artist pages and an embeddable and multi-functional streaming player." Fans of the station can also stay connected through instant messaging, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, MYSPACE, and other social networking sites, as well as wirelessly via texting, and applications for the iPhone, and select BLACKBERRY devices.

Remember - CBS Radio as a company, in the Mel Karmazin days, treated streaming audio like it was some sort of communicable disease.

In the post-Mel days, CBS Radio has become one of the highest-profile streamers and Internet backers, but it'll be interesting to see how this "old line" company handles the changing landscape of online and social media...and how serious they really are about changing the face of top 40 radio, bringing it to where their young listeners already are.

With KLSX's move (set for Friday), you might as well pronounce "FM talk" dead.

CBS Radio has just one major market all-talk/young skewing FM left, Washington DC's WJFK/106.7. Like KLSX, it was in the format long before "Free FM"...and like KLSX, it has hosted a syndicated show, Westwood One's "Don & Mike Show". (The show still continues today with co-host Mike O'Meara and the remaining members of the "D&M" cast/family.)

Rumors continue to persist that WJFK is heading for CBS' latest FM spoken word format obsession, sports radio.

Now, we have an ongoing obsession of our own...the "FM Talk Watch".

But we've always made clear that we were not watching the young-skewing "guy talk" stations that have clearly been on the decline. We continue to watch "traditional" talkers, and the aforementioned FM sports talkers, moving to that Columbus' WBNS-FM/97. 1 "The Fan"

And established stations, like long-time Akron market talker WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron", which has been at that spot on the FM dial since it was WKNT-FM in the 1970's...and has been doing talk there since Howie Chizek first came over from Youngstown in 1974...

NOVA GONE: Area listeners may remember former Air America Radio talker Randi Rhodes, the liberal host who once aired in Northeast Ohio on both Media-Com's WJMP/1520 Kent-Akron-not-quite and, later, on former Clear Channel liberal talker WARF/1350 Akron "Radio Free Ohio".

After a dispute with Air America triggered by her controversial off-air appearance at an event sponsored by her San Francisco affiliate, Randi shuffled off to a new syndicator, Nova M Radio, based at a Phoenix radio operation.

(All of this, of course, happened long after liberal talk was taken off the air in Northeast Ohio...though former liberal talk WVKO/1580 Columbus decided to stay with AAR and new host Ron Kuby in the afternoon drive slot.)

The Wall Street Journal's Sarah McBride reports that according to Nova M Radio co-founder Anita Drobny, the company is about to file for bankruptcy liquidation.

In what's been a rather confusing week, the Nova M mess started when Rhodes took herself off of her afternoon drive show, in an apparent contract/performance dispute with the company.

Fast forward to this week, where the remains of Nova M have been supplanted by a new player - a company called "On Second Thought LLC", which is now boasting the syndication of former Nova M host Mike Malloy, Michigan-based host Nancy Skinner (who "filled in" for Rhodes in her absence), and host Dr. Mike Newcomb.

That's Dr. Mike Newcomb, otherwise known as "the owner/CEO of On Second Thought LLC", according to a release posted to the former Nova M site.

Newcomb is a physician and former politician that, as near as we can tell, started in radio by buying time on a brokered Phoenix station. He's been heard on the Phoenix station which served as Nova M's flagship, and that station (KNUV/1190) will reportedly continue as home base for the new operation.

Is this where we put a fork in the "liberal talk" format and declare it done?

Well, yes, and no.

The folks at Dial Global still maintain a full stable of liberal talk hosts, including Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Bill Press and a recent addition, soon-to-be-former Air America host Thom Hartmann. It's not known at this time if the syndicator formerly known as Jones Radio has any interest in the now-free agent Randi Rhodes, or if the company has any room for her.

But more than ever, "liberal talk radio" continues to operate in its own, smaller universe in talk radio.

Schultz and Miller are clearly the two biggest names on the Dial Global roster, but due to the diminisihing number of "liberal talk" stations, their affiliate numbers pale in comparison even to second-tier syndicated conservative talkers.

The syndicator occasionally places those two hosts on mainstream stations, or second-level talkers, with relatively limited success.

And quick - name an Air America Radio host not named Rachel Maddow!

(Ms. Maddow is technically still on the AAR network, though her success on cable's MSNBC means that her presence is now limited to a morning hour mostly filled with audio from last night's TV show.)

So, the "format" pretty much continues going in the direction we thought it would when local syndicator Envision Radio Networks picked up host Leslie Marshall...with those offering liberal talk hosts pressed into selling them as "good, entertaining hosts" to all kinds of radio stations, not just "liberal talk stations", since the latter stations are dwindling in numbers.

There is one slight Ohio effect to this: Ohio Majority Radio, the advocacy group which took over the web presence of WVKO/1580's now-former format, has now moved Thom Hartmann into the 3-6 PM "time slot" on the former WVKO web stream.

The OMR folks had picked up Randi Rhodes after 1580 went to Catholic radio programming, and still carry Nova M/On Second Thought/Whatever It's Called Now evening host Mike Malloy...


A Cleveland TV station has ended the longest-running video slide apologizing for missing programming in TV history.

When "The Tube Music Network" shut down operations on October 1, 2007, Raycom Media's WUAB/43 in the Cleveland market put up an electronic slide on digital subchannel 43.2 - telling viewers that the network had been pulled off the air, and asking them to refrain from calling either the station or their local cable operator.

That slide appeared on WUAB-DT/43.2 for over a year and four months, until finally coming down this week.

In its place is a new banner - with the legend "This Cleveland".

"This", as reported here earlier, is "This TV" - the MGM-backed programming service that is coming to WUAB and other Raycom stations soon in a nationwide deal between the "diginet" channel and the Alabama-based owner of WUAB and CBS affiliate WOIO/19.

No, we don't know when the subchannel will light up with actual programming, but we'd put a bet on it happening fairly soon.

What will you see on "This TV"? The channel is mainly programmed with MGM-owned movies of some vintage, along with a couple of sitcoms (we recall seeing "Mr. Ed" on the schedule).

We haven't broken out the "MGM Movie List", but we suspect you'll see the studio's movies with rights that haven't previously been sold to another broadcaster or cable/satellite outlet. Any "big name" MGM movies are probably in someone else's library.

But it's another "different" programming choice for area digital TV viewers.

We don't know for sure, but we suspect that sometime after "This TV" lights up on 43.2, it'll show up somewhere in the Time Warner Cable digital cable lineup...probably up there around where WOIO's "WeatherNow" is in the 370s.

We seem to recall that TWC did indeed carry "The Tube", but at some point decided it didn't want to waste even digital cable bandwidth for a message that the service had ended...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More On That Pool

We're getting more feedback from around local TV newsrooms about that little bombshell that hit earlier this week...the announcement that two competing Cleveland TV stations, Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 and Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19, would share routine video of planned news events...sending only one crew out to cover those stories, when each station would send a crew before.

Then, we pointed out a quote from the TV trade site "Broadcasting & Cable", which quoted both WKYC VP/GM Brooke Spectorsky and WOIO VP/GM Bill Applegate that the other two newsrooms in the Cleveland market were likely to join the arrangement.

"Not quite yet", we hear out of sources at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5.

It's still considered possible that "NewsChannel 5" will dip its toes into the Shared Video Pool, eventually, but we're told from folks at 3001 Euclid that it's not in the station's immediate plans.

This New Reality for local TV news has newsies asking a few, what about all those large mic flags that stations like to use? Are those going away at these "pooled" events?

With only one photojournalist and one microphone shared between two, and maybe three or four, stations, we doubt the station drawing the "pooled" assignment will be allowed to use its own mic flag.

We also don't know if the arrangement extends to stories where stations send reporters separately, and how that'll be handled if it does.

We also don't believe WOIO's "19 Action News" will add a disclaimer to its infamous "Everywhere" promos...noting in small print that sometimes, they'll be there because WKYC helped them.

Though the stations like to tout the plan "freeing up" their own crews to cover enterprise stories, we can't help but to move ahead to the obvious conclusion - it seems likely to us that it'll eventually, if not directly, lead to layoffs...since the nature of how TV news is covered in Cleveland will certainly mean less day-to-day news cycle work for TV news photographers.

We hope that's not where it lands, but just about everything "lands" in job cuts in 2009.

And cost-cutting is rampant, as the use of news helicopters is pretty much a thing of the past at most local stations...particularly in a "routine" basis.

Back to Friends of OMW out of 3001 Euclid: We're hearing WEWS is now able to do remote feeds from Akron in HD format, and all but three live news trucks (still slated for conversion) are HD capable.

The station, and all Cleveland market stations, continue to beef up the syndicated HD schedule as well...with Channel 5's airing of "Live! with Regis And Kelly" being one of the most recent converts...

Wrapping Up The Early Switch

We've been on the road, and have spent a lot of time talking about what was supposed to be a nationwide event...the end of full-power analog TV...on Tuesday.

We'll continue to pass along news about the still-ongoing transition, but this item will wrap up the detailed coverage of "Transition Day One"...and we'll be spending more time on our usual mix of items from now on. Coming up later, either tonight or tomorrow morning, more rumblings about that news video sharing "pool" announced by Cleveland's WKYC/3 and WOIO/19.

But wrapping up the "first" digital transition...

You could say we were "deprived" of what we'd expected on February 17th in the immediate Northeast Ohio area, so that sent us to other parts of the state and region...but now, the "pause button" is mostly on the digital transition until June 12th.

For the record, the reaction from most people we talked with in the Wheeling/Steubenville market boils down to: "Yes, we heard about channel 7. We have Comcast. All of our friends have Comcast. We didn't have to do anything." Some comments to the WTRF website, though, gave us the impression that some smaller cable systems had early trouble on Tuesday afternoon, though we suspect that's solved now.

UPDATE 2/18/09 12:52 PM: We're not entirely sure that even some Comcast subscribers didn't have trouble early on, though we'd be shocked if that wasn't resolved by now, or at very least the end of the day. On the Comcast system where we were Tuesday, the cable was connected to a QAM-capable TV, which had been scanned to pick up the 7-1 through 7-3 digital channels in place with the analog lineup.

Various national media reports from the markets where significant stations did shut off indicate that there was a "steady stream" of callers to stations and phone banks after Tuesday's switch, but "no major glitches" so far.

Here's a roundup of what happened around the state:

CLEVELAND/AKRON: The sole station shutting off analog in our immediate coverage area late Tuesday was Multicultural Broadcasting infomercial outlet WOAC/67 Canton, which barely gets viewers on cable or digital, let alone analog.

In a comment to one of our earlier items, Tim Lones of the Cleveland Classic Media blog tells us:

WOAC Canton showed a crawl explaining thay were about to go off the air and mentioning they were originally licensed in 1981. Interestingly, right before they went off the air, there was an ad for an upcoming local program that used the old original Channel 67 logo that had been used since their sign-on..The station shut off at midnight..

That show would, we presume, be the "Handy Randy" auto-related show that host Randy Lipscomb is, we presume, now brokering on WOAC (the station only airs paid programming).

The show has also aired for a number of years on Media-Com's low-power Class A combo WAOH/29-W35AX/35 "The Cat". We saw a promo for it - yes, with the old style 67 logo - a couple of weeks ago while tracking the station's analog shutoff notification messages.

We'll presume Mr. Lipscomb grabbed the old logo for his promo, because the station doesn't have one in its Multicultural incarnation.

COLUMBUS: OMW reader "Matt" had his TV on Tuesday night to catch the two Columbus market stations making the early switch, and comments on one of our earlier items:

Fox 28 WTTE Columbus faded into the nightlight program in spanish at the time about how to use a DTV converter...

CW 53 WWHO Chillicothe Ohio is showing a a slide that says "If you see this your tv isn't ready for DTV! WWHO-TV is now transmitting only on it's digital signal Channel 46" and has their mailing address, phone # and web URL on screen.

We''ll assume that "nightlight program in Spanish" refers to the National Association of Broadcasters' 8 1/2 minute loop of DTV transition information, which carries open captioning in both English and Spanish throughout. It's in the video we have of WTAP/15 Parkersburg's transition on Monday night.

CINCINNATI/DAYTON: OMW reader Rich Emery in Hamilton (or is that Hamilton!), who has been tracking the Southwest Ohio digital transition for us, is rewarded for his work with just a single station in the entire region switching off analog Tuesday. He tells us:

Cincinnati's WSTR-64 ended regular analog broadcasting shortly before 11:30 PM Tuesday night, following broadcast of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and a couple of ads. The absolutely final item? An ad for a prominent local used car dealer, Jake Sweeney. Their Nightlight service is now all that's visible on 64 analog, just still slides with info on DTV including phone numbers to call, and several videos on DTV (including at least one in Spanish).

Again, we'll assume that last video is from the NAB.

(It's been fun watching stations in this region explaining to viewers why there is transition information in Spanish on the so-called "nightlight" analog feed - it's required by the FCC, even in areas with nearly no Spanish-speaking viewers.)

At one point, Rich expected to see the entire Dayton analog broadcast dial go dark on Tuesday, but as we've detailed here, that fell apart inside of a week. As recently expected, Dayton PBS outlet WPTD/16 "ThinkTV16" was indeed able to get the FCC OK to keep analog 16 going past Tuesday...

OTHERS: We already handled Parkersburg/Marietta (WTAP with analog nightlight) and Wheeling/Steubenville (WTRF moves digital to 7, no nightlight, WTOV/9 keeps analog until June). Oddly enough, both the WTRF and WTAP transmitters are physically in Ohio.

We haven't gotten word on Toledo PBS outlet WGTE/30, though we assume it did go dark as expected.

Tri-State Media Watch's
Jeremy Moses tells us he'll continue to watch the fallout from his part of the state, and nearby markets...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Analog Bites The Dust

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, OHIO -- We're live from the Wheeling/Steubenville TV market this afternoon.

OMW can confirm directly that West Virginia Media CBS affiliate WTRF/7 Wheeling shut down its analog channel 7 transmitter this afternoon. We can further confirm that the station's digital operation has indeed moved into that channel 7 space...the first time WTRF has been at full-power in either analog or digital for some time.

Unfortunately, we were still on the road to the Ohio Valley at 12:30 this afternoon when WTRF cut the analog transmitter. We tried to catch it from our position, but we weren't quite close enough to the station's Bridgeport OH transmitter site... remember, WTRF's now-silenced analog operation has been using a low-power STA for some time.

Since WTRF-DT is now operating on channel 7, that means there is no analog "nightlight" or "enhanced nightlight" service...which is an apparent error in the most recent FCC list of stations silencing analog early before today's original deadline.

The move by the market's CBS affiliate leaves WTOV/9 Steubenville's analog side as the only analog full-power station now operating in the Wheeling/Steubenville market.

It also gives primary over-air (now digital) coverage - and somewhat expanded coverage - to WTRF's two digital network affiliate subchannels, "Fox Ohio Valley" and "ABC Ohio Valley". The former has analog cable carriage in the region, but the relatively-new ABC subchannel is hidden by Comcast up in the 200s in digital cable.

The WTRF-DT signal, at first blush from our location a few miles west of the station's tower site, seems easier to catch on our temporary setup, though it is obviously no indication of market-wide reality.

An OMW reader commenting on our earlier item reports receiving the station at "75%" signal level from as far away as Canton, though we don't know what kind of antenna the reader is using...

Everybody, In The Pool

Some more thoughts about the news video sharing arrangement announced Monday in Cleveland.

The initial announcement involved two area stations - Gannett's WKYC/3 and Raycom's WOIO/19 - agreeing to pool video of pre-planned events such as news conferences, scheduled events and the like...with one photographer (from whichever station) taking video that will be used by both.

In our item Monday afternoon, we called it "the first" video sharing arrangement in the market.

Shortly after that, we started hearing rumblings that the WKYC/WOIO-initiated pact would grow, and sure enough, it looks like it is headed for all news operations in the Cleveland market.

Broadcasting & Cable has details, including this nugget from WKYC VP/GM Brooke Spectorsky and WOIO VP/GM Bill Applegate:

...the other major stations in the No. 17 DMA, which includes Local TV's WJW and Scripps' WEWS, are expected to join the venture.

Remember the old, generic "Cleveland Television News" moniker used when the news-less new CBS affiliate WOIO/19 merged with WUAB/43, then a long-standing independent with the market's then-only 10 PM newscast?

It appears that events that have been covered with four cameras in the Cleveland TV market will be covered with one, as Applegate notes to B&C:

“You see three or four cameras at some of these events,” says Applegate. “It really doesn't make a lot of sense.”

Both Applegate and Spectorsky say they "don't envision layoffs" coming from the new arrangement, and both claim it'll free up crews to cover enterprise stories.

But with the tanking economy showing no signs of getting out of that tank, more layoffs are probably coming down the road for both operations, and most TV news operations nationwide. The decision to "pool up" for planned news coverage may not directly result in layoffs, but they're probably coming, anyway, unless the economy stops roaring down the hill.

Oh, and about our comment yesterday comparing WKYC and WOIO...from B&C:

WOIO and WKYC make for somewhat peculiar bedfellows. Noisy and aggressive, WOIO's newscasts have the feel of tabloid newspapers. The more staid WKYC bears the slogan “Report the facts. Respect the truth.”

“We're a little more conservative,” says Spectorsky. “We're not an Action News.”

We'll assume that if a WOIO photog is covering one of these "pooled" events, that they won't move the camera around and get "19 Action News"' signature capturing the subject from a low angle...

Launching The First Digital Wave

UPDATE 2/17/09 9:43 AM: The FCC has released a final list (PDF file) of stations ending analog operations today or earlier. The affected stations are highlighted in red.

And we learn from that list that Wheeling's WTRF/7 is listed as an "enhanced nightlight" station, contrary to what we reported below. That apparently means the switch from analog channel 7 to digital channel 7 won't happen today, since the analog signal will continue for the next 60 days with DTV transition and emergency information.

We'll see how that pans out later today.

Our original item is below....


The first wave of early analog TV shutoffs has begun, as far as stations serving Ohio viewers are concerned.

Well, sort of, as Gray NBC affiliate WTAP/15 in the Parkersburg/Marietta market actually stopped simulcasting digital programming on analog channel 15 immediately following Monday night's 11 PM newscast. (We'll get around to that "early date" in a moment.)

At 11:35 PM, WTAP vice president/general manager Roger Sheppard reminded viewers that no, he's not Jay Leno and they weren't watching "The Tonight Show", which went on uninterrupted on WTAP's digital side.

For around 20 minutes, Sheppard talked about the station's transition, the digital transition in general, and urged people to call both nationally and locally if they still needed help. He joked that he hoped the analog 15-only audience was the "smallest audience" he ever had to address.

And he was open and talkative about many other issues..for which we thank him as well, as Mr. Sheppard took time out of his weekend schedule to answer some of our own questions in E-mail. On Monday night's broadcast, he also invited viewers still hanging on in analog to E-mail him with their questions.

At about 11:55 PM, after the Message From The Boss, WTAP's analog channel 15 launched into the beginning of 2 weeks of so-called "nightlight" programming, with a repeated 8-minute loop of nationally-produced DTV transition information in both English and Spanish. The station says the loop will end around March 3rd, when analog channel 15 gets shut off for good.

Why February 16th, as opposed to the 17th?

It turns out that it's about as we suspected...the back and forth between Gray's lawyers and the FCC ended up with the thought that the Gray stations should adhere to the February 16th date, the analog stations getting off the air (ending regular non-nightlight programming) *before* February 17th.

This Associated Press article has more details:

Gray applied to keep the Feb. 17 date for most of its stations, but the push-back from the FCC left it with 14 that could. As a final twist, Gray over the weekend decided to turn those off on the 16th, some in the afternoon and the rest at midnight, because its lawyers interpreted the rules as saying analog should be "off the air by the 17th" rather "go off the air on the 17th."

No matter - the deed has been done, and we note a WTAP web poll...which says some 17 percent of viewers who took part say they're "not ready" for the transition. Not only is the poll entirely unscientific, its respondents all have access to a computer and the Internet. We'll see if that number actually MEANS anything in the next few days.

As we mentioned earlier...we're technically not sure the WTAP move Monday night is the "first wave" of the now-early analog shutoffs, or if it's more in line with what stations have filed to do since mid-2008 (a la WMFD/68 Mansfield and WNEO'45 Alliance) under the pre-moved-transition date rules.

We'll count WTAP and the Gray stations in the first category, for all the FCC maneuvering the company had to do over the weekend to switch this week.

Next on the shutoff list in the region, and we mean "next", is West Virginia Media CBS affiliate WTRF/7 Wheeling WV - which also services a chunk of the Ohio side of the Ohio Valley in Steubenville and nearby areas.

WTRF's website now says the station will pull the analog broadcast on channel 7 at 12:30 this afternoon. Yes, we said "this afternoon" (and for our travel schedule, we hope they are correct!).

Unlike WTAP, it looks like WTRF will actually be moving its temporary digital signal to a full-power permanent home on RF channel 7. At least one comment on the item we linked above says the station has already been testing that configuration as recently as last weekend...with good reception as far north as Canton.

We're very much watching this one...for it may be at least a little indicative of what Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW/8 will encounter in its move to digital channel 8 at the newly-moved June 12th transition date.

It's not exactly a perfect comparison. WTRF is leaving behind a both a hobbled analog signal on 7, and a puny STA digital signal on UHF 32. It's no wonder they're sprinting to make the transition.

WJW has been doing fine with a full-power pre-transition digital signal on UHF 31, with few if any complaints. Also, on either UHF 32 or VHF 8, the WJW digital signal has to cover a much more forgiving terrain than WTRF's signals have to cover...

Monday, February 16, 2009

WKYC/WOIO Announce News Video Sharing Agreement

Yes, we are aware of some big Cleveland market TV news we haven't been able to post until now.

Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 and Raycom CBS affliate WOIO/19 are officially joining forces to share routine news video, according to the announcement posted today on

The deal applies to video that would ordinarily have been shot by each station's separate crews, according to the WKYC story:

Videographers from both stations will participate in a pool coverage system to cover basic events of mutual interest, including news conferences, court hearings, groundbreaking ceremonies, and other pre-planned events.

WKYC VP/general manager Brooke Spectorsky weighs in, saying the deal between his station and WOIO "will allow both stations to shift more resources toward enterprise stories that support our individual style of newsgathering." (You could hardly find two stations with different "styles of newsgathering"!)

The deal mirrors earlier pacts between competing stations owned by the NBC and Fox networks, a chain-wide deal that has already started in Philadelphia and is expected to spread to other "owned-and-operated" markets. With the state of both the general economy and the TV news business, expect more of these agreements nationwide.

And yes, we predicted this around the first of the year, though we didn't have WKYC and WOIO tabbed as the two partners.

It makes sense that the first local news video sharing deal in the Cleveland market was between those two stations. We say "the first" not because we know anything else is brewing, but because of those aforementioned economic issues.

We'll elaborate on that, and more, later...but our apologies for the delay here.

As always, the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) occasionally has to take a backseat to Real Life(tm), and we weren't able to get here until late this afternoon. And if we're away from being able to update this report...well, any long-time reader knows what is likely to happen.

We joke about it, but it's basically a reality in practice...if we're away from OMW, media news happens...

One Going Early

Back to the now-very-confusing world of digital TV...where one station serving Ohio viewers is going to shut off its analog signal a bit early.

Like, tonight.

All but a handful of Ohio stations have backed away from what would now be an "early" analog TV shutoff on the original deadline, February 17, 2009. For those with no calendars handy, that day is otherwise known as "tomorrow".

As a result, as best as we can determine, the following stations will still adhere to the original deadline, and become "digital only" as of tomorrow night:

CLEVELAND/AKRON: WOAC/67 Canton (infomercials)
COLUMBUS: WTTE/28 (Fox), WWHO/53 Chillicothe (CW)
DAYTON: WPTD/16 (PBS) * - see note below

It's that last station that's been the subject of some question, and is also moving early - shutting off its analog signal tonight instead of tomorrow night.

Gray's WTAP/15 had originally landed on that FCC list of 123 stations that requested early shutoff, but were required to provide one of two showings that would allow it to actually shut off its analog channel on the original February 17th transition date.

When the FCC released its final disposition of that list of 123 stations, WTAP was not listed anywhere...not among stations that had certified that they would follow a slew of new conditions imposed by the commission, not among stations that cited emergency reasons to shut off analog early, and not among stations that had declared that they'd stay on past February 17 in analog format. (Those FCC links, of course, all lead to PDF files.)

As it turns out, a number of Gray-owned stations were in the same boat...and now, we know why.

The company's stations, including WTAP, started 30 day on-air notifications early, last month, based on advice from counsel...and that means they didn't belong on the original 123 station list, and that's now been cleared up with the FCC.

WTAP filed a silent notification with the agency on January 16th. Quoting:


And WTAP has indeed been dutifully broadcasting the notifications, ramping them up in the last few days before tonight - the date the Parkersburg station will sign off, at "about 11:35 PM".

That's right, tonight, not Tuesday night. We don't know why it's a day early, aside from the fact that February 16th would possibly be considered a "safe" date to assure the move, based on the filing above.

In effect, WTAP and its sister Gray stations (including WSAZ/3 in the Charleston/Huntington WV market, which serves portions of extreme southern Ohio) are not adhering to the original digital transition date...they're "going early" even in the context of February 17th. WSAZ's analog transmitter goes off tonight as well.

In effect, that means they're not in the same situation as the other stations in that "list of 123" that got extra conditions imposed upon them. It puts them in the same boat as WNEO/45 Alliance and WMFD/68 Mansfield, which shut off analog transmitters months ago.

WTAP and the Gray stations appear to have followed the rules as actually in effect in mid-January, and they appear to have won...

* - Oh, and our note about Dayton's WPTD/16.

What is now the only Dayton market station set to turn off analog tomorrow night is trying to change that, and they may have been successful in doing so.

When every other Dayton area station filed to shut off analog signals on Tuesday, it seemed natural for PBS affiliate "ThinkTV16" to go along with the rest of the market.

That plan, as you've read here, fell apart...and station by station, Dayton's full-power TV outlets decided to wait it out, based upon those FCC guidelines we've talked so much about, and presumably based on other stations deciding to dump the no-analog plan.

WPTD, in a Dayton Daily News article we linked earlier, openly stated that they were talking to the FCC and counsel about abandoning their already-approved February 17th transition.

And in its implementation order (PDF file) for the DTV Delay Act, released Friday, the FCC seems to have WPTD in mind:

Some stations that were not on the Appendix to the February 11 Public Notice have expressed interest in withdrawing their notifications for good reasons associated with circumstances in their markets, but not rising to the level of an “emergency or disaster.” We find that it is in the public interest to allow stations to withdraw their notifications of intent to terminate analog service on February 17, 2009.

Due to the limited period of time remaining before February 17th, stations that wish to withdraw their notifications must notify us no later than 6:00 pm EST on Sunday, February 15, 2009.
Stations should also revise their “Viewer Notifications” to reflect their change in plans as soon as possible.

OMW reader Rich Emery, keeping an eagle eye on Southwest Ohio's diminishing February 17th transition for us, tells us that it appears WPTD has already done so - he saw no more analog termination-related crawls in "ThinkTV16"'s Sunday night programming block, for many hours.

Thus, we wouldn't be surprised if WPTD will be able to keep its current analog-and-digital setup going for now...completely unraveling the earlier plan by Dayton stations to turn analog TV into a "thing of the past" on Tuesday night...

The Week That Will Be

So, we're back for our usual Monday morning go-around.

Like last week, news about the now-mostly-moved digital TV transition will be hard to avoid this week - at least through the first part of this week, at any rate.

For now, we'll start on the radio...with a digital TV update to follow later this morning...

PAUL HARVEY...GOODBYE: Clear Channel talk WTVN/610 Columbus is the latest station to part ways with the news commentary nominally hosted by veteran broadcaster Paul Harvey.

Echoing earlier moves by its Clear Channel sister talk stations, including WTAM/1100 in Cleveland, WTVN is canceling Harvey's segments, effective today.

OMW hears that the station - like many Paul Harvey affiliates in the recent past - is dropping "News and Comment" and "The Rest of the Story". The reason? Harvey's own decreased workload, with his fill-ins ruling the day most days of the week these other words, the broadcasts have increasingly become "Paul Harvey News Without Paul Harvey".

Unlike in Youngstown, where WTVN Clear Channel sister talker WKBN/570 nudged Harvey to sister standards WNIO/1390, there's no place for WTVN to move the broadcasts. The option of shuffling "PHN" to WYTS/1230 went away recently, with that station now a full-time sports talker as "Fox Sports Radio 1230".

We wouldn't be surprised to see North American broadcasting talk WTDA/103.9 "Talk FM" or newly-moved Saga classic hits WODB/104.3 "Big Hits B104-3" take the Paul Harvey franchise in Columbus...though we don't know if we'd say it's a "sure bet".

WODB in its 107.9 days moved quickly to pick up meteorologist Pat Pagano when WTVN dropped the popular forecaster, though we don't know if Harvey's a good bet to follow.

WTVN officials are touting the "biggest change" in all this - with Harvey no longer on the 610 airwaves, newly-returned Premiere syndicated host Glenn Beck takes over the full 9 AM-noon time slot on the station.

Beck is well aware of Harvey's general impact on his show. The Premiere clock for Beck's program is designed with Paul Harvey's "noon visit" in mind, with a final hour spot break ending exactly at 11:45 AM Eastern...

WHBC FALLOUT: As NextMedia's most recent budget move means the local on-air staff at talk WHBC/1480 Canton could nearly fit into a small closet these days, a thought or two.

We note that on WHBC's website "Shows" page, the 3-7 PM slot is now listed as "The Afternoon Drive Show", with no mention of current host Sam Bourquin. Bourquin, the station's sports director, took over the show Friday after host Jim Albright was shown through the "we can't afford you, or much of anyone else" door.

We're trying not to read too much into this, but last we'd heard, Sam Bourquin was a human being. With Albright's exit Friday, Bourquin ended up doing something of a marathon shift... morning drive sports, afternoon drive talk, evening sports, and (as far as we know) appearing on "Stark Sports Live" on Saturday morning.

With that kind of schedule, the minor cold we heard Bourquin with on Friday could be a minor affliction compared to what he could have in the future, if the schedule holds up.

We are wondering here, not reporting any fact - we're wondering if Sam Bourquin's stint as the new afternoon drive host is at all permanent. There's no way he could keep doing it, and his already-loaded sports schedule, full-time.

We would not be surprised to see WHBC fill the afternoon drive slot with syndicated talk at some point, or (less likely, we feel) another local host.

We say "less likely" due to the budget/economic issues already evident.

And when 1480 sent former afternoon drive host Brady Russell to the curb originally, Jim Albright was already in the station's employ...doing off-air work, despite a lot of talk radio history on his resume.

Again, just guessing/speculating here...we have no indication, either in rumor or fact, what WHBC might do with the 3-7 PM time slot.

We heard Bourquin deal with the inevitable "where's Jim?" callers on Friday, and we tip the OMW hat to Sam for being honest and open about the situation surrounding Albright's involuntary exit...with emotion and class. He was clearly affected by what happened around him on Friday.

As for Jim, he seems to have had something of an impact in his time in the station's afternoon drive slot, and many listeners called in saying they'd miss him.

We don't know Jim Albright, aside from being one of his listeners dating back (so to speak) to his days as the host of "The Dating Show" on Akron talker WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron". He's always been a personable host who relates to listeners.

What happened to Albright, and the other veteran staffers who were either cut loose or left on their own on Friday, was sheer economic reality - mixed with some NextMedia extra "punch", if you will.

By the way, OMW hears that now-former WHBC assistant news director and morning anchor Steve Luke did indeed exit Market Avenue South on his own, and will attend to his business ventures instead of waiting out the inevitable next round of budget cuts...

ABOUT THAT BACKGROUND: The Western Reserve PBS weekday roundtable "NewsNight Akron" has had a bit of buzz around it recently...and not just for its content.

As reported here long ago, the show - hosted by WKYC/3's Eric Mansfield - moved into space at Main and Market in downtown Akron that Western Reserve PBS now shares with original tenant WKYC, and with Kent-based NPR affiliate WKSU/89.7.

That gave "NewsNight Akron" a ready-made background...the hustle and bustle of one of Akron's busiest intersections from the front windows of the United Building complex.

That hustle and bustle led one viewer to register a complaint with Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer in a recent column, threatening to withhold his contributions to the local public TV station if all those cars and pedestrians kept moving behind the "NewsNight" panelists:

'That constantly moving background is very distracting,'' complains Frank Mitch of Akron. ''I find it difficult to concentrate on the speakers when all of that distraction continues for almost all of the show.''

Since Mitch is a member of Western Reserve PBS...well, those who actually pay certainly get more attention in the public broadcasting world, since they vote with their dollars.

The Friday after Dyer's February 3rd column, the "NewsNight" panelists appeared with an interior background behind them...the table moved, the windows off at a distance, and furniture and various pieces of equipment behind them.

The Dyer column sparked much chuckling among those on the show, with Mansfield noting another complaint...saying he hadn't really been moving around and standing "like a waiter taking orders", a viewer complaint relayed to Dyer by now-former station manager Don Freeman.

(And we now know that Dyer is apparently not a regular OMW reader...if he was, he'd have known that his E-mail reached Freeman in retirement in Colorado, some distance from Campus Center Drive in Kent. We're sure current Western Reserve PBS station manager Bill O'Neil would have been just as helpful, and his information would have been more up to date.)

This past Friday, "NewsNight"'s table was back in its usual place, with some tinting applied to many of the windows behind the table. We'll see if it's enough to keep Mr. Mitch happy.

Oh, and about that "walking around"...on the February 3rd show, host Mansfield mentioned that the show plans to add electronic displays that he'll be able to use.

"NewsNight Akron", which we consider a vital show for anyone trying to keep track of Akron/Canton-area news, airs Friday nights at 9 PM, with an early Saturday repeat at 5 AM, on WNEO/45-WEAO/49...

POWER TO THE WSTB: You may not have noticed it when WSTB/88.9 returned to the air after "The Month The Music Died" last year, but the Streetsboro schools-owned station wasn't its former self.

After a month-long dispute when school officials silenced the alt-rock/oldies station in a very controversial move (search "WSTB" in the box above for more), it returned to the airwaves in October - at half-power.

WSTB engineer and "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" volunteer program director Bill Weisinger tells OMW that WSTB first went back on the air last fall with a lower-powered amplifier...while original equipment was being repaired.

The station got back to its normal configuration about two weeks ago, meaning "fringe area" listeners on the edge of the 88.9 signal - in places like suburban Cleveland, the Montrose area of Summit County, etc. - have had a much easier time listening to the station.

As any regular OMW reader would know, WSTB airs an alternative rock format hosted by Streetsboro High students called "The AlterNation" Monday through Saturday, and the adult-volunteer-run "Sunday Oldies Jukebox" on, well, Sundays...

Friday, February 13, 2009

And Finally On The Digital TV Front

It looks like those "alternate showings" are now in the public FCC files for TV stations listed as needing to meet new conditions to sign off analog signals by the original deadline of Tuesday (February 17th).

The filings we've seen support our reporting earlier about the Dayton market, where all full-power commercial stations now say they'll pull back from the February 17th analog shutoff date.

And a Dayton Daily News story this afternoon by Jim DeBrosse confirms our own suspicions - that even though PBS affiliate WPTD/16 "ThinkTV" does have permission to go digital-only next week, they're having second thoughts about being the market's only analog-free station with all the changes in the past couple of days:

The station (...) is consulting with Washington counsel and the Federal Communications Commission to see if it can delay the implementation of its digital-only signal, ThinkTV President David Fogarty said Friday afternoon, Feb. 13.

ThinkTV is scheduled to make the transition at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 18 and is required to do so by the FCC as of now, Fogarty said.

In addition, under FCC rules, the station is required to change channel positions for the transition.

Fogarty said the station is concerned its viewers will be confused if it's the lone station in the region to end its analog signal. What's more, the station will also have to coordinate it new channel position with cable and satellite providers well before other stations make the switch, he said.

"We are exploring our options as of right now," he said.

Lest it seem like we're Dayton Media Watch here, we've independently uncovered some news about the Wheeling/Steubenville through FCC filings.

West Virginia Media CBS affiliate WTRF/7 has indeed filed the new form today, and it is claiming it's ready to go for a Tuesday analog switchoff - checking this option:

I certify that the above-referenced station IS in compliance with the public interest conditions for analog turn off set forth in Public Notice, FCC 09-7, released February 11, 2009.

Assuming we're reading this right, WTRF also has received approval for its plan to move to post-transition digital channel 7.

That move could well have been made easier by another move we've seen confirmed in the FCC filings...WTRF's only in-market competitor, Cox NBC affiliate WTOV/9 Steubenville, has filed with the commission to back down from the February 17th deadline...checking this form option:

The above-referenced station DOES NOT certify to the conditions for analog turn off set forth in the Public Notice, FCC 09-7, released February 11, 2009, and will continue analog service until given FCC authorization (by rule or order) to turn off that service.

The result for Ohio Valley viewers, assuming the FCC doesn't dream up any new roadblocks? WTOV stays on analog 9 on Tuesday, and WTRF's analog 7 is replaced by digital 7, presumably late Tuesday night.

Digital OTA viewers, with the post-transition facilities for WTRF, should have an easier time picking up that station - and its Fox and ABC subchannels.

As for elsewhere, other stations not named in the FCC's infamous List of 123 did not need to file any forms today. Thus, Canton-licensed WOAC/67 is all set to shut off its little-viewed analog 67 transmitter in Brimfield Township on Tuesday night. (Then again, its digital signal isn't exactly pulling in the viewers, either.)

Again, if this doesn't all fall apart before Tuesday...a caveat we keep having to add...and unless something huge comes across the transom here, this is probably our last update digital-TV wise until Tuesday...

Oh, Never Mind

UPDATE 2/13/09 5:15 PM: And there goes WBDT/26...and maybe even WPTD/16.

The unraveling of the Dayton Early Digital Transition is nearly complete, as Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio guru John Kiesewetter writes on his blog about that market to his north:

4:25 p.m. update: WBDT-TV (Ch 26), the CW affiliate, also keeping analog on.

4:30 p.m. update: As of now Ch 16 will drop analog after Tuesday. This just in from the station: "ThinkTV is consulting with Washington counsel and the FCC. ThinkTV 16 (WPTD) is scheduled to begin digital-only broadcast at 12:01 AM on February 18 and is required to do so by the FCC as of now."

The ThinkTV folks sound like they may join the rest of the market in keeping analog going - perhaps because of an upcoming pledge drive - at least some time after Tuesday. The regional PBS outlet is keeping Cincinnati-market WPTO/14 in analog past Tuesday.

As for OMW, we're glad we didn't book any hotel rooms in Dayton for Tuesday night!

Kiese notes that he's once again reconfirmed that in his home market of Cincinnati, Sinclair MyNetwork TV outlet WSTR/64 is still planning on shutting off analog 64 on Tuesday.

At this rate, it appears WSTR is the only full-power TV outlet in Southwest Ohio that will do so...if that decision even holds up...

UPDATE 2/13/09 4:31 PM: And there goes WDTN/2.

The LIN TV NBC affiliate in Dayton has joined the "We're Not Shutting Off on February 17th Parade" with this announcement posted online just an hour ago:

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - WDTN was preparing to discontinue broadcasting its analog signal at midnight on February 17, 2009.

After further review, we have decided to delay the transition to digital. Therefore, we will continue broadcasting WDTN’s analog signal, as well as assist viewers with questions through news coverage.

WDTN's move now means that all four Dayton major network affiliates will keep analog going after Tuesday. (We have no word on if CW affiliate WBDT/26 is still planning to make its switch.)

You might notice that WDTN's announcement does not specify that the station will transition at the new national switch date of June 12th. We're wondering if they will, in the future, try to coordinate with WHIO/7's announced May 3rd target date...

Our original item is below...


OK, unless we see an official note on a TV station's website, or get direct, official confirmation from a station, we're going to stop covering the potential for changes in stations' requests to shut off analog signals early on Tuesday.

OMW reader Rich Emery, who's been keeping an eye on the situation in Dayton for us, sends us an item just posted to Cox CBS affiliate WHIO/7's website.

And as Rich notes, to quote legendary "Saturday Night Live" character Emily Litella, "nevermind!":

WHIO-TV is re-filing with the Federal Communications Commission to change the date of Channel 7's analog cutoff to May 3rd, 2009.

With just four days remaining until the scheduled February 17th shutdown, up to 30,000 Miami Valley homes still appeared to be unprepared for the conversion to digital TV. Thousands of those viewers have applied for the government's converter box coupons, but the program ran out of money in January. New funding for the program is planned, but has yet to be passed by Congress.

Why May, in particular? Quoting again:

Channel 7 is currently broadcasting its digital signal on a backup antenna. In order to broadcast a clear digital signal to the entire viewing area, the station's analog antenna must be removed and a new permanent digital antenna put in its place at the top of our transmission tower. This work was scheduled to begin in March. WHIO-TV has worked to re-schedule this work until the first week in May.

We're not even going to speculate on this stuff anymore.

Reasonably-held assumptions have consistently been blown apart by the quick, intense decisionmaking forced upon WHIO-TV and other stations after the new digital transition date and new rules became a reality.

At this point, we're about to just tell people to turn on their analog TV sets next Tuesday night, and see if anyone signs off...

NextMedia Lays Down Axe In Canton

UPDATE 2/13/09 3:35 PM: OMW also hears that there are two part-time staff cuts on the FM side at Market Avenue South - "Mix 94.1" part-time air personalities Richard Nemec and Amanda Leary, bringing the total to eight - six full-time and two part-time - out the door at NextMedia Canton. The part-timers may still do holiday fill-in, but are losing regular work.

We also aren't sure if Sam Bourqin's new afternoon drive show will be sports-related, or general issues talk. Via the 1480 stream, we confirm that Sam is on the air this afternoon in the time slot formerly occupied by Jim Albright. It doesn't sound like a sports-only show so far.

A caller asked Bourquin where Albright was, and Bourquin was forthright - "Jim is no longer with the station", and talked openly about the state of the radio business and the economy..."lots of good people are losing their jobs, not just here, it's hitting the business everywhere"...saying today was "one of the tougher days in the business".

Our original item is below...


OMW hears that NextMedia has taken out the budget axe in Canton, and it's cut into the company's talk WHBC/1480 "NewsTalk 1480".

We're hearing that a total of six staffers at NextMedia's Canton cluster are now out of work, including afternoon drive talk host Jim Albright, his producer Don Guisinger, midday talk producer/"Tradio" host Tom Jarrett, production director John Knoblach, and production staffer Doug Ankerman were tabbed in the cutbacks.

And out the door along with the other five is another WHBC veteran, assistant news director Steve Luke, who we're told is "leaving on his own". (We haven't heard yet which lifeboat Mr. Luke found out of Market Avenue South.)

OMW hears that a new afternoon drive local show hosted by sports director Sam Bourquin will take the place of Albright's show...though as of this writing, we don't know if Sam will take the airwaves as soon as, well, about 15 minutes from now.

At the moment, we don't know if the job cuts also affected sister AC WHBC-FM "Mix 94.1"...aside from the staffers it shares with the AM side...