Friday, February 06, 2009

Yes, There's Radio

We've focused so much on the digital TV transition recently, that we wouldn't be surprised if some of our newer readers wondered if we forgot about radio.

Of course not. We just can't control all the crazy activity surrounding the change in the digital TV transition date.

But here are some radio items hitting our radar, along with one that also touches TV. Unfortunately, not all the news is good...

MORE LAYOFFS: OMW hears that the already devastated Cumulus cluster in Toledo is undergoing another large round of layoffs today.

By "large", we mean at least 10 staffers, though we haven't confirmed everything yet.

We hear that two staffers at classic hits WRQN/93.5 are on the cut list, as well as two at sports WLQR/1470. Some are leaving by their own decision, including talk WTOD/1560 morning host Tom Watkins and WXKR/WTOD/WLQR sales manager Hugh McPherson.

An unspecified number of sales people are exiting as well as some other off-air staffers.

Of course, Cumulus/Toledo is not alone in big layoffs in this horribly bad time for the economy and radio's economic fortune. There continue to be national rumblings that Clear Channel has at least one or two more rounds of major layoffs in its future, but nothing's been confirmed yet...

DP'ING IT: The recent flip of Clear Channel Columbus' WYTS/1230 to sports as "Fox Sports Radio 1230" brought an old issue back in front of us.

Listeners in Columbus tell us that on the format's first full day, Fox Sports Radio midday host Dan Patrick was eventually yanked on 1230 for a repeat of the network's morning drive show with Steve Czaban.

Of course, Patrick's syndicated Content Factory produced show was recently added to the FSR lineup in a major shuffle at the Premiere-owned network.

And Patrick's separate syndication contract lands him in Columbus in a delayed afternoon drive clearance on North American Broadcasting talk WTDA/103.9. OMW hears that will continue, and that WYTS will continue to cover the 9-noon slot as long as WTDA keeps the Dan Patrick rights.

All of this reminded us to check the situation in Akron, where Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 "SportsRadio 1350" owns the syndicated rights to Patrick's show.

But unlike in Columbus, Media-Com FSR affiliate WJMP/1520 Kent "Fox Sports Radio 1520" is still carrying the FSR-fed Dan Patrick Show. (Though, honestly, unless you're basically in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart on Route 59 between Kent and Ravenna, you're better off listening to Patrick on 1350.)

We expect a resolution to this situation at some point

Perhaps it's taking a long time for the automated sister station of talk WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron" to figure out how it's even technically possible to run something else at 9 AM?

WJMP has been in this situation before. When it was an Air America affiliate, the station ran a delayed version of the liberal talk network's evening show to cover Jerry Springer's "Springer on the Radio", which aired on Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 in Cleveland...

BRANDING CHANGES AND GROUNDED CHOPPERS: OMW readers are very, very observant when local radio and TV stations change branding.

Over the past few months, we've been reminded that Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 has apparently changed its non-news branding to include the WEWS call letters ("WEWS Channel 5" vs. "NewsChannel 5" for non-news programming promotion).

And we've noticed one ourselves in recent days...and there's a good reason for it.

The aforementioned WTAM appears to have dropped the "Skychief Traffic" branding it has used for years, even after the station lost its own airborne traffic reporting capabilities.

The new wording is "WTAM 1100 Total Traffic", and we've heard it on the air on WTAM - and it's also being used by WTAM's Pat Butler in his appearances on the WKYC/3 morning show. WTAM and WKYC originally paired up to put Butler in the Channel 3 helicopter, contributing airborne reports for both stations.

But we've only seen Pat's recent appearances being made from the WKYC studios. We haven't noted Mr. Butler in the WKYC helicopter at all, either on Channel 3 or via WTAM, in weeks.

This could possibly explain the rumblings we've heard before - that two Cleveland TV stations have grounded their helicopters for economic reasons. WKYC parent Gannett, in particular, has been in serious economic trouble lately.

A quick check of the local TV news morning shows today showed Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 relying on "SkyFOX HD" traffic shots...from ground-mounted HD cameras (like the one mounted at the station's South Marginal Road studios).

Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19's "19 Action News" had traffic reporter Rick Abell in the studio, but that's not new...he's often grounded for various reasons.

Abell appeared to be at a new studio set, so perhaps he's now grounded at Reserve Square instead of the Metro Networks complex in the Independence Media Gulch. (With Metro's local operations shutting down this year, that might be due to necessity.)

As for 3001 Euclid, WEWS aired their usual studio "Traffic Center" reports with Patty Harkin. As far as we know, the station has not regularly put its news helicopter into "Good Morning Cleveland" traffic service since not long after Jack "Air" Marschall left the station for a job in the administration of Parma mayor Dean DiPiero.

Of course, DiPiero is married to WJW "FOX 8" reporter Kathleen Cochrane...

1 comment:

n-dizzle said...

The WEWS branding has been going on since around September. At first they were just using the "5" bug by itself. Then they've started using an "ABC 5" bug in the style of an ABC O&O station. It's also been used in the news, during promos, with the "News Channel" text to the left.

Is there anything to this change? Is WEWS planning some massive rebranding anytime soon?