Friday, February 27, 2009

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...


emery_r said...

Another media closure of note occurs this weekend in southwest Ohio -- due to huge budget problems at Miami University, its 59-year-old public radio station, WMUB, is firing its entire staff and ending local origination. On March 1, it becomes a repeater for programming of Cincinnati Public Radio's WVXU.

Right now (9 AM Friday), WMUB is airing the final edition of "WMUB Forum", a local call-in show, with long-time staffers and listeners discussing memories of the station. While the survival of WMUB as some sort of public broadcaster is far preferable to the alternative, its loss as a unique source of programming is something to mourn.

This is just one more sign of how sick major and minor media outlets are -- we'll certainly see much more of this before things get better. (If they ever do...)

andrew727 said...

Hmmm, watching informercials as entertainment and information - only if one is brain dead on the viewer side. As to the station, well its a great way to make money on dreamers. Better to spend the advertising dollar on scattered thirty and sixty second spots with good local programing surrounding it. But then, that's just my take.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth would Dish and DTV want to air this channel? It shows nothing but infomercials 24/7. They can't air channels 29/35 instead?