Monday, March 09, 2009

Week's Beginning

There hasn't been much going on in the world of media in Northeast Ohio lately, but we felt the need to cobble together what we have. And as it turns out, we do have some items on this Monday morning...

WTAM VOICE SILENCED: A voice long associated with Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland has been silenced.

No, he's not a WTAM talk show host or news person. But to an imaging-conscious station like WTAM, Brian James was just as important.

Unless you're in the business, you don't know his name. But those in the business are quite aware. Quoting our long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush on this morning's NorthEast Radio Watch:

And while we could have mentioned the death of voiceover legend Brian James under just about any state heading in this week's NERW - after all, his edgy voice work was heard everywhere...

As near as we can figure, Brian's voice was one of two or three primary voices heard on the Clear Channel Cleveland talker over the years...most notably as the voice accompanying the station's talk shows.

Those sarcastic liners talking about WTAM afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno? That's Brian James. Quoting from Brian's own page at the Voiceover Universe site, it's no surprise:

Various deliveries but the money read is a sarcastic egotistical read..I think I am best at that and frankly on that matter my opinion is all that matters...ha!

His Voiceover Universe page has a number of tributes, and a message from his brother.

Brian has also been the voice of WTAM's "Big One" sister talker WLW/700 Cincinnati, which not only netted him another monster 50,000 watt signal...but also, a presence on XM Satellite Radio channel 173.

We'll make the assumption that Brian James came to do WTAM shortly after the two Ohio talkers became sister stations under the Jacor/Clear Channel umbrella.

NERW and other trade sites say Brian James died Friday of a heart attack, at the age of 48. Far, far too early...

ROMONA: We already knew that Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 primary anchor Romona Robinson was about to become the subject of a profile by Cleveland Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington, but it finally happened over the weekend.

We'll leave the personal profile part in Ms. Washington's hands, but some comments stood out.

For one, about the "risky" solo anchor format...both Romona and WKYC news director Rita Andolsen speak openly about not pairing Robinson with another anchor after the non-contract renewal of co-anchor Tim White:

Andolsen said the solo-anchor format is a bit risky but Robinson is a proven talent in the Cleveland market. "I would not have tried it with anybody but Romona," she said.

Some of the changes surrounding Romona's solo anchor role have been noticable to viewers since day one:

The solo-anchor format is quicker-paced and calls for heavy reporter involvement, Robinson explained. During the newscast, she will ask reporters questions, so as 6 p.m. approaches, she chats with them about their stories.

In effect, the station's reporters, along with sports anchor Jim Donovan and weather anchor Betsy Kling, have become the "rotating second anchor". Any given moment, when viewers tune into Channel 3 News, they're likely to see a second person sitting alongside Romona in the chair formerly occupied by Tim White.

Oh, speaking of Romona's former co-anchor...he provides Julie Washington with (as always) nice words about Robinson:

White remembers Robinson as a friend he could joke with and also discuss serious issues such as race, education and politics.

"Sure, she's charming, glamorous and dresses like a Hollywood star," said White, via e-mail from his home in Cody, Wyo. "But she always remembers where she came from, and the strong support she had from the beginning -- especially from her mom, her teachers, and her faith."

We'd forgotten that Tim was headed to Wyoming after leaving Channel 3, as Washington pointed out in her December article about his departure from the station:

He'll spend time in Cody, Wyo., where his brother Dan and mother Jean live. White built a five-bedroom ranch there about 20 years ago; it looks out on Yellowstone National Park. He also runs a media production and consulting business in Cody.

MORE JUNK: We're trying to bury this one, because we don't have much information, and we're tired of writing about the ongoing job loss parade in local media.

But OMW hears unconfirmed rumblings that about four off-air staffers at Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 "FOX 8" in Cleveland are the latest to be shown the door to the Other Side of Employment. We're told this happened over the past couple of weeks or so.

Again, in 2009, word about station letting go four people is almost not "new"'s "normal"...

SPEAKING OF BROADCASTING JOBS: OMW readers have told us about the closure of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, which fanned out to nearly 30 branches from its beginnings in that eastern state.

"CSB" apparently shut down when its new owner's bank accounts were seized by PNC/National City Bank, the latter formerly based in Cleveland.

We've done some Google searching, and we believe CSB was not affiliated with the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, which has a campus in Independence...and its own network of sister schools, including one opened in the past year or so in Columbus.

Though it would appear OCB is not swept up in the problems affecting the non-affiliated Connecticut school, we'll duly note that in general, that training people for new broadcasting jobs seems a bit iffy these days...given the current state of the media business and the economy (see item above).

Over in Connecticut, newspapers report that the family of the school's founder and former owner are trying to mount a new effort to replace the closed CSB, at least at its primary campus...


Derrick M. said...

Here is something that is a little bit off topic to this post but may be relevent for us all.

How do you intepert the latest filing from WVPX?

With the upcoming March 17 deadline for stations to establish their DTV transition date (see, do you think WVPX is thinking of finally getting their digital signal on the air? Just wondering what your thoughts were on this.

Ann said...

Are there still people rushing to broadcasts schools hoping for a career on-air? Is that like studying to become a buggy-maker in the 1920s? As far as WVPX goes - by the time they get their DTV signal in place, I will have forgotten they even exist (does it matter? the station only broadcasts long-form advertising, which is easy to ignore).

Patrick Hahe said...

As a current broadcasting student (I go to Marietta College in Marietta, OH) I am worried about what the future holds. I am a sophomore at the moment, so all I can do is hope that the economy gets the broadcasting business back into hiring.

andrew727 said...

I think most radio and television stations human resource directors if given a choice between a college graduate and broadcast school graduate, is going to hire the college graduate 90% of the time. Realize vocational broadcast schools may teach you the basic mechanics, but they can’t give you a well rounded education as to the creative aspects or how to do research - especially important in broadcast news. The other aspect is college will give you a greater chance to gain an internship at a radio or television station to work with ‘state-of-the-art’ equipment and all the nuances of the real world of broadcasting. Granted, college is more expensive than broadcast schools. If your budget says broadcast school, then you can still buffer it by taking some courses at a local community college. Good courses to take include journalism, political science, world history, government and stagecraft. You won’t get a diploma unless you take core courses, however, it’s a positive on a resume. Keep in mind, broadcasting and the media are more than radio and tv stations. Explore where your talents fit in - and most important, network!

- Andrew, -

ktaylor said...

As a former OCB student, if given the choice NOW, OCB would not be the direction I take with my life. Stations are cutting back and sorry but even if the economy gets back on track they won't be hiring for air-talent, why? Because they are having one or two people voice track for several markets. This started well before the ecomony took a dive into the crapper. Wake up kids!! OCB is taking your money, giving you the hope you will find a job in the business, but guess what, it's crap. All they want is your 14K. Bob Mills doesn't care about your future it's all a load of crap. Sure they will help you find a job....BUT what they don't tell you is that it only pays $16k and oh yeah it's in North Dakota. Seriously wake up.

Chuck Matthews Blog said...

I disagree with Andrew727. College isn't any better at prepping someone to work in radio/TV than a broadcast school. In fact, college is padded with classes one doesn't truly need to WORK.

Additionally, a college graduate, arguably, can ask for more money than a tech school grad, based on education. Not that broadcasting works that way save for mgmt jobs. And most of those are "up thru the ranks" situations.

Radio/TV is more OJT than most know.

Creativity is inherent, but can be honed/learned with the right mentors. Whether OJT or a classroom. A wash there.

not saying college isn't important. It's just not important unless going into Broadcast Journalism... then there are the Peter Jennings of the world with no college at all.

The Ohio Center for Broadcasting, Cleveland campus, has better gear than most radio stations...and probably some colleges save for Bowling Green (who's radio/TV program ranks up there with Ohio University).

Anonymous said...

I found it interesting that the Ohio Center for Broadcasting tv commercial still identifies graduates and their employers, even though many of them have been caught up in the staffing purges and no longer work there.

thepizzaman said...

its easy for rita to look back and
say "i wouldnt have tried this with any other anchor" when it may be the case that she "couldnt" have tried it with any other anchor, give their financial situation