Monday, February 16, 2009

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...


Neil said...

Paul Harvey can still be heard locally via the strong signal of WJR at 8:30 and 11:35. The 8:30 program (now hosted exclusively by Paul Harvey Jr.) is occasionally pre-empted for a live interview or a remote event.

WDJO in Cincinnati runs the midday program at 12 noon.

Both stations simulcast P.H. on their respective web audio streams. (WNIO does not.)

Both can be opened with Windows Media Player:

WABC in New York normally simulcasts the midday program at 11:45 AM on, but that simulcast is occasionally pre-empted by a technical glitch thats causes the web stream to run and rerun several minutes of repeating commercials.


If you can't hear it any other way, the morning and midday programs are available on a few hours after they are broadcast. "Rest of the Story" is not availabe on that site.

fayfare said...

I listened to Paul Harvey at noon on WHBC and I hate to say it, but he sounded terrible. His voice was low and he almost had no emotion in it at all, like he was just reading copy off of a piece of paper. Also, regarding WHBC, Fred was hosting the Sunday Trade-io show that Tom Jarrett used to host. Let me say that I enjoy Fred during the week, but he sounded like someone who did not want to be there on a Sunday and was told to show up. He was pleasant with the callers, but he just had that tone to his voice.