Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time Warner Cable HD Express Unscheduled Stop

In a well-planned and deliberate effort to add 30 new HDTV channels for its Northeast Ohio customers, Time Warner Cable's HDTV Express has to make an unscheduled stop.

The next group of seven new HD channels to be offered in the TWC NEO footprint did not meet an intended April 29th launch on Wednesday, and we don't have any indication when that group of channels will launch.

But OMW hears that the company is still working on the second wave of new HD channels, and will let us know when the new launch date will be.

We also hear that they expect the other groups of new HDTV channels to be added on schedule.

No, we don't know why there's a delay.

Some of our readers are suggesting problems with the "Switched Digital Video" system that allows the cable operator to make room for large numbers of new channels - a system that has been implemented in at least some limited areas of the TWC Northeast Ohio footprint.

Basically, "SDV" moves groups of channels out of the main bandwidth, and those channels are only transmitted directly to a home when a cable box (or other SDV-compatible device like a TiVo HD/S3's tuning adapter) requests the channel. This "quasi-on-demand" system means there is room for a lot more channels than without it.

But we don't know if that technology is responsible for the current "pause" in the HDTV channel additions.

As it turns out, some of the information we're relaying here is already showing up on TWC NEO's official "programming notices" page on its website, which has just been updated.

About the current "waiting" channels, it says:


The launch of the following HD channels in all areas is postponed with no new date available: Bravo, CNBC, The Learning Channel, Animal Plant, ABC Family, ESPNews and MLB.


But the notices are still listed with "on or after" dates for upcoming, planned channels:


On or after May 26, 2009, the following services will be added to standard HD in some areas: Golf Channel, CNN, FX, Fox News Network, Science Channel

On or after May 26, 2009, the following services will be added to HD in some areas for customers with the Digital Basic Tier: National Geographic.

On or after May 27, 2009 the following services will be added to HD Tier in some areas: Smithsonian & Mav TV.

On or after June 15, 2009, the following services will be added to standard HD in some areas: Lifetime Moves, Travel, AMC.

On or after June 15, 2009, the following services will be added to HD for customers with the Digital Basic Tier in some areas: Versus, Speed and ESPNU.

On or after June 15, 2009, the following services will be added to HD for customers with MLB Extra Innings Package in some areas: Game HD.


(For that matter, we have no idea what "Mav TV" is.)

The programming notices page also reveals that the recently launched WUAB subchannel "This TV" (WUAB-DT 43.2 over air) will come to Time Warner Cable's "digital access" tier "on or after" May 15th.

Also listed are minor channel moves for stations like WIVM-LP/52 Canton and its simulcaster, WIVN-LP/29 Newcomerstown, the addition of WVIZ'/25's "Create" subchannel to areas without it (and a similiar addition of WGTE/30 Toledo's version of "Create" in its part of the TWC NEO service area), and other changes we've already mentioned here...

Picking Up Some Pieces

...pieces involving more fallout from Clear Channel's latest doings, cable TV and more...but we have to get the umbrella first...

MORE LAYOFF FALLOUT: OMW hears that in the wake of the involuntary departure of long-time Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 producer/sidekicks Marty Allen and Paul Rado, the station has officially announced changes in staff involving afternoon host Mike Trivisonno's show.

Long-time WTAM board operator Kurt McLaughlin ("Dirty Kurt") has been named full-time technical producer for Triv's show. And overnight traffic producer Steve Douglas moves into the role of "show producer" for the WTAM afternoon drive talk fest.

Seth Williams takes Douglas' place on overnights. That job also involves building oversight for the Oak Tree cluster.

And yes, we're aware of The Rumor circling with fury and force around not only the Internet, but also on the air at Oak Tree - it's being spread by other hosts in the building (Rover, COME ON DOWN!) on their shows - about the departure of Allen and Rado...and Triv's alleged role in their exits.

That's as far as we're going to go.

We have no facts to report regarding The Rumor.

But one fact is now clear - this has played out on the air, and listeners are now asking us about it after hearing those broadcasts.

On Triv's show Wednesday, we heard the WTAM afternoon drive mouth tell a caller asking about the rumor that he "didn't know what he was talking about", and with Triv saying his "hands were tied" re: replying to the other hosts' accusations - means this has gotten into public circulation even without our help.

After the call, Trivisonno made it quite clear that he felt there was "one constant" (or did he say "consistent"?) in the success of the WTAM afternoon drive show in recent years...of course, he was talking about the name on the show, the host himself.

We have no solid information about The Rumor, though we've heard it from roughly 20 people just in our E-mail box the past two days. And as such, we're not going to detail it.

If you want to hear more, just listen to the radio, say, to WMMS/100.7 in morning drive...or maybe Rover's podcasts...

MORE CLEAR CHANNEL CHANGES: OMW is aware that this week's Clear Channel layoffs have not spared the company's Ashland/Mansfield cluster, but we don't have any names to pass along as of yet.

We can tell you that two of the company's Mid-Ohio cluster stations have installed syndicated morning drive programs.

At top 40 WYHT/105.3 Mansfield "Y105", WNCI/97.9 Columbus-based morning team "Dave and Jimmy" have gained another affiliate just 70 miles up Interstate 71.

At classic rock trimulcast WFXN/102.3 Galion-WXXR/98.3 Fredericktown-WXXF/107.7 Loudonville (whew!) "The Fox Rock Network", it's syndicated morning drive show "Lex and Terry" now joining the station's lineup.

UPDATE 4/30/09 3:50 PM: We JUST remembered that Dallas-based "Lex and Terry" are syndicated right out of Northeast Ohio, via Beachwood's Envision Radio Networks...

TIME WARNER CABLE HDTV UPDATE LATER: Yes, we're aware that Wednesday was the scheduled day for the long-promised latest wave of new HDTV channels in Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio system.

Based on TWC NEO's channel notices, and our own earlier reports, the HD channels scheduled to be available for viewers "on or after" April 29th are the HD versions of ESPNNews, MLB Network, TLC, Animal Planet, ABC Family, Bravo and CNBC.

Here at the OMW World Headquarters, we don't have the new channels...and we believe they're not "live" yet anywhere in the TWC NEO empire - at least as of this writing.

We've invoked a local TWC spokesperson, and hope to get an update from the cable company sometime later today or tomorrow.

But remember, the official notices for these channels, as noted above, do say they will appear "on or after" April 29th.

TWC has been pretty close to the promised date for the earlier HD channel additions in this wave, and we don't expect that to change this time around...but it certainly makes sense to add "or after" to the promised dates...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Time Warner Cable Gets The Flu

With growing worldwide attention to the swine flu situation, Time Warner Cable's "Northeast Ohio Network" (NEON) is offering up a special local program on the topic this week.

And OMW readers may be interested in who's hosting it.

From a TWC press release:


Medical Special About Swine Flu to Air on Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio Network (NEON)

Cleveland Clinic Expert Dr. Thomas Tallman to Discuss Local and National Aspects of the Disease

Akron, OH (APRIL 2009) – With the swine flu outbreak making headlines across the country, many Northeast Ohio residents are seeking a local perspective on the issue. This Wednesday and Thursday, Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio Network (NEON) will air a 30-minute special with an expert from the Cleveland Clinic to address the current health crisis.

Titled “Swine Flu: Crisis or Concern, a Time Warner Cable Special,” Dr. Thomas Tallman, Chairman for Emergency Preparedness at the world renowned Cleveland Clinic, and host Mark Williamson, City of Akron Director of Communications, will put the situation into perspective, focusing on what local, state and national health officials are doing about the problem, and how we as individuals can reduce our risk to the disease.

“Despite all the news coverage, many people still want answers to how this flu outbreak affects them in Ohio,” said Bill Jasso, Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio Vice President of Communications. “With this 30-minute special, we hope to inform people about what swine flu is, what to look for and how to avoid it, all with a local perspective in mind.”

The show will air on NEON, channel 23, Wednesday and Thursday, April 29 and 30, at 7:30 p.m. NEON is a primetime, local network only available to Time Warner Cable customers in the Northeast Ohio footprint. The network offers 24 hours per week of locally produced programs.

The special will also be available in free, “On Demand” format with Time Warner’s Digital Cable service on Local On Demand, channel 501 or 1.


Yes, the host will be Mark Williamson, communications director for the city of Akron, in what may well be his first "TV gig" since then-WAKC/23's local news department was shuttered by Pax TV those many years ago.

And of course, the local newscast which became "23 Newsday's" successor in local news, the WKYC/3-produced "Akron/Canton News", ended its own run on that very same Time Warner Cable "NEON" channel...after a run on broadcast 23 after Pax TV agreed to air the renewed cast.

Anyway, media geek excitement aside, it sounds like the special will be informative, not hyped... and sounds like it's well worth a view...

Local News And Premium Choice

Isn't branding a wonderful thing?

"Local news" is a brand, really. Radio stations that still offer news on a local basis hammer that into listeners' brains. "DEPEND on us for LOCAL news!" "We're your LOCAL NEWS SOURCE!"

The reality is somewhat different in 2009.

For many stations which once had a, well, "local" newsroom...the "source" is often an anchor in a newsroom anywhere from 25 to a few hundred miles away, trying to sound like they know the area they're serving via computer file upload.

None of this is new to Clear Channel, which has been "remote anchoring" stations as far away as Milwaukee from a certain newsroom on Oak Tree Boulevard in the Cleveland suburb of Independence for years.'s back with a vengeance.

Clear Channel's latest operations plan will, in effect, accelerate the feeding of news from one market to another.

Here's a list of Ohio markets that will be feeding other markets in Ohio and beyond. Much of this was already being done before this week, and some of it is new:




We already have evidence of some of the new arrangements taking place today.

For example, Clear Channel Cleveland has officially returned to providing remote anchoring to its Youngstown sister cluster.

We heard WTAM/1100 news director Darren Toms this morning on talk WKBN/570...filling the news hole once filled by now-former WKBN news director John Nagy.

We heard WKBN news anchor Jim Michaels doing traffic, though we don't know if that was recorded (it's construction information and the like).

We assume Jim is still at South Avenue, and don't know what role he'll play in the new Clear Channel News Universe. When the anchors in Cleveland fed Youngstown before, he contributed and voiced reports for them, and occasionally did some afternoon anchoring himself.

Eerily, we heard a pre-recorded news feature voiced by Nagy, during the fill on the WKBN streaming audio feed.

Over in Lima, we hear that the cluster's FM stations are now getting the newscasts fed out of Columbus' WTVN/610, which are also being heard in middays on talk WIMA/1150. WIMA still has local news staffers, but it appears it and other markets being fed from elsewhere that still have news staff will get midday newscasts from the remote newsroom. Again, for now.

Here's what Clear Channel lays out for its staffers about remote news anchoring... and we're guessing that they're writing it just as much for federal lawmakers and regulators as much as they are for their own staff:


Improved Commitment to Local Communities

* Our goal is to utilize technology along with our very best and experienced news reporters to enhance our local commitment to news

* We will match up these regional resources with our local teams in the market to deliver superior local news coverage

* We will train and redirect local staff members to help give us more depth when it comes to the number of people in a local market assisting with news coverage and community connection


No, that last line doesn't read "we will train and redirect FM program directors, disc jockeys, sales people, and anyone who can speak into a phone clearly to help us try to resemble a real local news operation". That's just our own interpretation.

In the "we're pretty sure they wrote this for the FCC and Congress" department, the plan gives examples of the company using remote news anchors and resources to serve markets otherwise without local news operations.

Among the situations specifically noted was the effort by the company's Syracuse newsroom to cover the recent multiple fatal shooting incident in Binghamton NY, where Clear Channel has no newsroom. It also highlighted the Binghamton cluster's role, which was basically providing studio space and "local hits" for Syracuse from the Binghamton program director.

The plan also highlights the company's recently announced expanded commitment to localized PSAs.

When a Clear Channel station without a dedicated, local newsroom - or a decimated one - runs liners saying "DEPEND on us for local news" or "Your LOCAL NEWS SOURCE", are they lying?

We don't at all fault the existing Clear Channel news anchors and reporters, in places like Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati or the other markets that will feed "local newscasts" out to other stations.

This isn't something they begged for, it's not their choice, and we presume they aren't getting any significant extra money for this...if they're getting any extra money at all. (Our guess: they aren't getting an extra dime, or even penny.)

We don't at all fault managers like CC/Youngstown veteran market manager Bill Kelly. We have absolutely no evidence that Mr. Kelly wanted to send 40-plus year WKBN veteran newsman John Nagy packing on Tuesday.

In fact, we have evidence of Mr. Kelly's commitment to a locally-staffed newsroom just months ago, when he originally nudged aside the Cleveland-fed newscasts. We presume he hasn't changed his mind in that short time.

Our guess - and it's only a guess, since we haven't heard from Kelly, who's written us before - is that he actively lobbied to hold off as many of Tuesday's changes as he could.

And WKBN has managed to hold onto three local weekday full-time hosts - morning driver Robert Mangino, program director Dan Rivers (middays), and afternoon driver Ron Verb - despite presumed pressure from corporate masters we imagine are just itching to put Glenn Beck into middays and Sean Hannity into afternoons.'s a different world at Clear Channel, even from before when it was owned by two large private equity funds.

Yes, we know other newsrooms have shrunken, even those not owned by Clear Channel. The once-full newsroom at NextMedia's WHBC/1480 Canton is now basically news/program director Pam Cook and anchor Geoff Mears.

But at least Pam and Geoff are still there, physically, on Market Avenue South on the southern edge of downtown Canton. Who'll be left if Clear Channel corporate decides that it doesn't need Jim Michaels in Youngstown? How can a company claim a devotion to local news if you force your local cluster to dump a 40 year veteran newsman still at the top of his game?

In 2009, you can count fully-staffed local radio newsrooms in Ohio concentrating only on their home market (i.e. Akron's Rubber City Radio, Cox's WHIO in Dayton) on one hand and still have room to twiddle a few fingers around.

The second part of our discourse is about "Premium Choice", Clear Channel's clever name for its canned music programming.

The names that first surfaced included existing syndicated hosts Ryan Seacrest and Cleveland's Steve Harvey.

Now, thanks to AllAccess, here's Clear Channel's list of (some) local hosts that will contribute to the "Premium Choice" menu for stations needing inexpensive, national fill on-air personalities:


From what we're hearing, all of these personalities are currently voicetracking non-local-specific generic national shows for their format. And we hear that at least one Clear Channel Cleveland personality is also involved in this effort...and we suspect a couple of others at Oak Tree will join that personality.

Randi West is a name familiar to many in Ohio. She once voicetracked a number of stations during her live shift at a Cincinnati Clear Channel outlet, an effort described in a newspaper article.

But these "shows" will be different. We don't believe any of the personalities will provide ANY specific, local content in this effort. Ms. West will sound the same in one market as she will in her other markets outside Raleigh, for example. If Clear Channel wants to add local content, they'll apparently rely on those expanded local PSAs and other community announcements.

Doesn't it just excite the heck out of you? Aren't you just dying to hear this programming?

Uh, OK.

Our final comment in this very long item: To us, "Premium Choice" sounds like the name for the house brand at Wal-Mart.

Oh, wait, that's "President's Choice". Target, maybe?

CC Cuts: Lima

OMW has now confirmed Clear Channel's job cuts in its Lima cluster:

"DJ OL SKOOL", program director, rhythmic top 40 WLWD/93.9 "Wild 93-9"
Eric Michaels, program director, rock WZRX/107.5 "X-107.5"
John Bell, business manager
Ed Douglas, operations manager
Russ Ryder, imaging director/music director, country WIMT/102.1-rhythmic top 40 WLWD/93.9-country WCKY/103.7, nights, WCKY
Frank Barber, news anchor, talk WIMA/1150

Clear Channel Cuts Aftermath, Second Time Around

As with the last time radio giant Clear Channel cut large numbers of employees in a one day sweep, we're still dealing with the aftermath in day two.

First, the big picture, courtesy of our friends at AllAccess:


CLEAR CHANNEL has announced another major wave of staff reductions resulting in the loss of 590 positions, just over 3% of the company, focusing on positions in programming, on-air, engineering, information technology and business office posts such as accounting and customer service.

While on-air programming is part of this reduction, it's not the majority of it, even though they are the majority of names we have that are out. Those positions will be filled with a combination of syndication and premium choice programming.


(More on that last part, later in this item. But first, more from AllAccess:)


CLEAR CHANNEL is indicating that this downsizing should be it, but adds the caveat that it can't predict the future. Based on analysis, and if the economy and market conditions hold and CLEAR CHANNEL keeps outperforming the rest of the industry, any further large reductions in force are not anticipated.

A company-wide change announced in parallel is that after APRIL 30th, 401k matching would be suspended for this year. It will, however, be retroactively restored if 90% of the 2009 budget goals are met for employees who continue to contribute to the 401k plan, and are eligible.


This latest job reduction wave has been rumored since January, when Clear Channel cleared their employee rosters of some 1,850 workers - many in sales and marketing, with cuts in the dozens at big operations like the company's Cleveland cluster on Oak Tree Boulevard in Independence.

Locally, let's run through some of the reporting about cuts in Northeast Ohio, and other effects.

Now-former WTAM staffers Paul Rado and Marty Allen showed up on WEWS/5's "NewsChannel 5" Tuesday, keeping their sense of humor intact by holding up these signs pictured: "WILL WORK FOR FOOD"/"WE MEAN A LOT OF FOOD". (Photo courtesy:



Allen and Rado lost their jobs Monday afternoon, just hours after their show grabbed another No. 1 spot in the ratings book.

"They said, 'You're No, 1, congratulations,' at 11 a.m. At 5:15, they said, 'Your services are no longer needed. Have a nice day. There's the elevator,'" said Allen.

The two are longtime producers and sidekicks of radio host Mike Trivisonno, whom they said they've not heard from since the firings.


We're not sure why Clear Channel felt the need to dump Rado and Allen in mid-show one day before just about anyone else nationwide in the company was let go, though we have our guesses. We have no solid information, so we'll pass on elaborating on this, for now. The timing seems very, very odd to us.

UPDATE 4/29/09 9:35 AM: Rereading this item, we see below that WMVX's "Brian and Joe" were called on Monday afternoon and told "not to report for their show Tuesday", according to the PD's Julie Washington. We hear from our sources at Oak Tree that the official firings of the WMVX pair took place at about 7:30 on Tuesday morning, though they certainly could have guessed something was coming down after the Monday call.

WTAM's Allen and Rado were the first to actually get their proverbial (and real) walking papers at Oak Tree, as reported, in the middle of Triv's Monday show.

We're also not surprised they haven't heard from Trivisonno.

The WTAM afternoon driver did not mention the dismissal of his two long-time colleagues - Marty Allen has been with Triv since literally his start at 1100, and before (at WERE/WNCX). Rado has been there in TrivLand a long chunk of that time as well.

Through other job cuts, through other show cast members, uh, being shown the door one way or the other...(yeah, that's it, "shown the door")...Allen and Rado remained at Triv's side. Until this week, when they were removed.

The only on-air sign of their exit - that we heard - came in the first half hour of Triv's Tuesday show...when a caller asked about it.

Triv tried to deflect the caller, shouting out that he hadn't smoked in a year and a half, and a VERY quick reply, confirmed Allen and Rado were no longer with the show ("they're both gone", in a low voice).

The terse reply was only a couple of words longer than "no comment", and when the caller tried to invoke the name of President Obama, Triv quickly replied that "the president had nothing to do with this", and moved on. Quickly.

In the first day of Triv Without Rado And Big Daddy, he pulled others onto the air, including board operator "Dirty Kurt", and WTAM Browns beat reporter Andre Knott. We're not sure if that'll be a regular strategy, as Triv was no stranger to putting non-show members/other WTAM staffers on the air even when his now-former producers were in the mix.

The "NewsChannel 5" piece quotes an unnamed Clear Channel executive as confirming the departures, including those of WMVX/106.5 morning drivers Brian Fowler and Joe Cronauer.

Over at the Plain Dealer, our search team found this item on by PD media columnist Julie Washington:


Brian Fowler and Joe Cronauer, the longtime morning duo at Clear Channel's "Mix" WMVX FM/106.5, were contacted Monday afternoon and told not to report for their show Tuesday, Cronauer said.

Instead, the team attended a meeting where they were told they were being laid off.


And of the other pair no longer working at Oak Tree:


(Marty) Allen said he and Rado were pulled out of Monday afternoon's show on WTAM AM/ 1100 and told that they were being let go. Trivisonno finished the show alone, Allen said.

Trivisonno briefly acknowledged that Allen and Rado were off the show in response to callers' questions during Tuesday's show, which is heard from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays.

"No, they're both gone," was all he said to the first caller about 3:25 p.m. A little after 4 p.m. a woman called and asked if he was allowed to talk about it. He replied it was an internal business matter.

Trivisonno did not return calls from The Plain Dealer asking for comment.


Again, no surprise here.

All of the former Clear Channel personalities are itching to get back on the air, according to the article:


After years spent producing shows by most of Cleveland's prominent broadcasters, Allen said he's ready to develop his own radio show.

Cronauer said he and Fowler hope to be back on Cleveland's airwaves.


Moving onto other updates and clarifications:

CLEVELAND: OMW hears, and Radio & Records confirms in their list of cuts, that Brian and Joe will be replaced on WMVX by a show hosted by one (Sean) Valentine, being fed from Clear Channel sister hot AC KBIG/104.3 "My 104.3" in Los Angeles.

Yes, that Valentine, who, using only his last name as "Valentine in the Morning", was the original morning drive voicetracked show on WMVX top 40 sister station WAKS/96.5 "Kiss FM" - going back to "Kiss"'s days at 104.9 (now classical WCLV).

Valentine lasted at "Kiss" in Cleveland until very recently, when he was replaced by the live syndicated show headed up by WHTZ/100.3 "Z100" morning star Elvis Duran out of New York City...

TOLEDO: To amend our list, OMW hears that top 40 WVKS/92.5 "Kiss FM"'s "Boomer" will retain his music director duties when he moves to afternoon drive, but won't be programming the station in the wake of the departure of PD Nathan Reed.

And Radio & Records has this as well, in their list:


MD/night jock Boomer moves to afternoons (and retains his MD duties), and his former night shift will now be voice-tracked Pyke, afternoon jock on rock sister WIOT. Reed can be reached at 810-444-2571 or FYI: director of programming ops Bill Michaels will retake the reins of his former longtime station, WVKS TFN.


UPDATE 4/29/09 9:45 AM: OMW hears that Boomer had indeed been announced within the Superior Street building as the new "Kiss" PD earlier Tuesday, but that apparently was adjusted later...

YOUNGSTOWN: It's now "out there" - a name rumored on the cut list at South Avenue is being reported in the local TV news world. And it's a "wow" moment.

How about a 40 year station veteran, a man almost singularly identified with your news department, being shown the door?

From NBC affiliate WFMJ/21's website:


Another round of job cuts at Clear Channel radio stations including an on-air personality who has been a voice at 570 WKBN Radio for 40 years.

John Nagy was cut after four decades of service, along with Dan Gonder who has 19-years on the job. Sean Stevens and Lorraine Hall were also told it was their last day. A total of five people were let go.

General Manager Bill Kelly tells 21 News it is part of a corporate wide reduction in force due to the state of the economy


We hear that Clear Channel Youngstown TV news partner (and former sister station) WKBN/27 is also reporting the cuts, though we can't find the item on its website.

One reason for Nagy's exit may be apparent: Newsrooms at Clear Channel clusters in some Ohio markets will expand their duties providing remote newscasts for other markets, under a wide ranging nationwide Clear Channel plan that's being implemented starting this week.

OMW hears that among the expansions and changes, Clear Channel's Cleveland newsroom will once again return to providing news updates for Clear Channel's Youngstown stations - an arrangement which was pushed aside a while back.

We'll have more on the news end of these Clear Channel changes later, including a list of which markets get fed from where...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The CC Ohio Cut List, As We Know It

UPDATE: This list will be updated as new names come in...


The following is a list of all the Clear Channel employees we know to have been cut this week in Ohio.

There are some new names on the list, that we haven't yet reported, and still some unconfirmed names.

For the most part, this list contains names on-air or programming department employees laid off at the company's stations starting Monday.

It's our belief that each cluster lost at least one or two off-air employees. If we know that information, we'll pass it along. If we don't, assume there are others not listed.

There are some markets here where we're hearing rumblings (Lima, Ashland/Mansfield, etc.) that haven't been confirmed yet.

And as such, rather unfortunately, even late at night, we can't guarantee that this approaches a final list. Last time Clear Channel went on a Mad Layoff Spree in January, we were getting updates well into the next day...


Marty Allen, producer/co-host, talk WTAM/1100's "Mike Trivisonno Show"
Paul Rado, producer/co-host, talk WTAM/1100's "Mike Trivisonno Show"
Brian Fowler, co-host, hot AC WMVX/106.5 "Mix 106-5"'s "Brian and Joe"
Joe Cronauer, co-host, hot AC WMVX/106.5 "Mix 106-5"'s "Brian and Joe"


Amy Malone, co-host, AC WHOF/101.7 "My 101.7"' morning show
Megan, nights, rock WRQK/106.9 "Rock 106-9"/afternoon traffic reporter
Chad Jensen, production
Bruce Rogers, engineering


Dan Gonder, afternoon drive, hot AC WMXY/98.9 "Mix 98-9"/morning drive, standards WNIO/1390
Sean Stevens, program director, top 40 WAKZ/95.9 "Kiss FM"
John Nagy, news director, news/talk WKBN/570
Lorraine Hall, news, news/talk WKBN/570


Chuck Gillespie, afternoon drive, AC WLZT/93.3
Maxwell, nights/music director, top 40 WNCI/97.9
Marty Scott, part-time, top 40 WNCI/97.9
Dan Van Duesen, promotions director, talk WTVN/610
Two other WNCI part-time staff, two business office staffers
(WNCI's Maxwell, of course, is no relation to WMMS/100.7 Cleveland afternoon host Maxwell, who is not on the cut list)


Nathan Reed, program director, top 40 WVKS/92.5 "Kiss FM"
Mookie, assistant program director/afternoon drive, top 40 WVKS/92.5 "Kiss FM"
K.C. Palmer, afternoon drive, AC WRVF/101.5 "The River"
Two part-time news/programming staffers, one full-time office staffer


Paul Daugherty, "Sportsline" host, talk WLW/700
Alan Cutler, sports talk host, talk WLW/700 and Bengals Radio Network
C. Trent Rosencrans, blogger, sports talk WCKY/1530
Travis Holmes, producer, sports talk WCKY/1530
Mark Chalifoux, producer, sports talk WCKY/1530
Matt Steinmann, producer (Bill Cunningham, Mike McConnell shows), talk WLW/700
(Our thanks to the updated item by Cincinnati Enquirer radio/TV writer John Kiesewetter for these names.)


"DJ OL SKOOL", program director, rhythmic top 40 WLWD/93.9 "Wild 93-9"
Eric Michaels, program director, rock WZRX/107.5 "X-107.5"
John Bell, business manager
Ed Douglas, operations manager
Russ Ryder, imaging director/music director, country WIMT/102.1-rhythmic top 40 WLWD/93.9-country WCKY/103.7, nights, WCKY
Frank Barber, news anchor, talk WIMA/1150
(Note: Though WCKY/103.7 is now licensed to the Wood County town of Pemberville, in the Toledo market, it still falls under the oversight of Clear Channel's Lima cluster.)

CC Cuts: Akron/Canton and Youngstown Updates

Even our short hiatuses go interrupted! Heh.

But we have come up with some more information regarding Clear Channel markets we hadn't heard about yet, and felt the need to put these items up...

AKRON/CANTON: OMW hears that Clear Channel's Akron/Canton cluster on Freedom Avenue has lost four staffers:

Amy Malone, morning co-host at AC WHOF/101.7 "My 101.7"
Megan, 7-midnight personality on rock WRQK/106.9 "Rock 106-9"/afternoon traffic reporter
Production staffer Chad Jensen
Engineer Bruce Rogers

YOUNGSTOWN: We're still confirming some rumored names, but we can now confirm two of the names we've heard.

Exiting are:

Sean Stevens, program director at top 40 WAKZ/95.9 "Kiss FM"
Dan Gonder, afternoon drive at hot AC WMXY/98.9 "Mix 98-9"

We're not sure if he was still doing it, but we believe Gonder was also heard in morning drive at standards WNIO/1390.

We are hearing at least one other major on-air name rumored to be on the South Avenue cut list, but we have yet to confirm that person's departure.

National reports say that 590 people, or some 3 percent of the remaining Clear Channel work force, were let go in today's round of cuts...spread among programming departments, engineering and IT departments, and business office staffers.

More on the national angle of it, later...and our comments...

Taking An Afternoon Break

We're going on our very first "just a few hours long" hiatus.

We'll continue to compile items out of the second wave of Clear Channel layoffs off blog (feel free to continue to E-mail and otherwise contact us), and we'll regroup a little later this afternoon or evening with a new update.

But dealing with the crush of news on this topic has us looking for our favorite headache medicine, in "extra strength" dosage.

That's sure better than being a victim of the cuts.

And as such, our thoughts and sympathies out to those talented radio pros who fell to the budget axe, either directly or indirectly, at Ohio's Clear Channel clusters.

Our updates automatically post to our Twitter account, so feel free to just watch that for word on when we'll be rested and ready for more later today...

Your Hourly Clear Channel Job Cuts Update

At this rate, we should do this at the top of every hour, and sell a sponsor billboard...with the proceeds going to fired Clear Channel employees...

B&J PURGED: OMW confirmed it earlier this morning, and now the Soviet Style Purge has happened.

Clear Channel hot AC WMVX/106.5 "Mix 106-5" has now removed long-time morning drive team "Brian and Joe" from its website's schedule pull-down menu, and from its front page.

We clicked the link we posted earlier to the "Brian and Joe" section of the site, and it's still just can't get there from the front page anymore.

The "Brian and Joe" menu item is gone from the main WMVX page, and the "On-Air" schedule pull-down menu list now starts with midday/afternoon/all day voicetracker Daune Robinson.

While the now-former WMVX morning pair still has an accessible web page, albeit off the beaten web track, let's copy some of the text there:

Brian and Joe are as "hometown" as hometown gets. Born and raised in Northeast Ohio and now in their 22th year on the air - Brian and Joe mix it up early weekday mornings on Cleveland's Mix 106.5!

Yes, it says "22th". No, there's no point in correcting it, as the page is likely to disappear not long after this item is posted.

Oh, wait. We see it's not a Full Soviet Style Purge, as a banner for a series of Brian and Joe promotions is still atop the site! Quoting the linked page:

Join Brian and Joe and MGD 64 for '"The Little Game." The Little Game is a 'lighter' version of Brian and Joe's "The Big Game" where you compete against other contestants for a chance to win prizes!

We're wondering if the no-longer-employed-by-WMVX duo will be at the following locations anyway, even if they presumably would no longer be giving away a six month gym membership and a chance at a Wii Fit:

4/30 - 6:8 pm The Garage Bar 1859 West 25th Street in Cleveland
5/7 - 6-8 pm Around The Corner 18616 Detroit Ave in Lakewood

UPDATE 4/28/09 2:14 PM: We just stumbled onto this WJW/8 "Fox 8 News" story on Brian and Joe's exit:

CLEVELAND--After more than 20 years on the radio in Cleveland, Brian Fowler and Joe Cronauer's mics have been silenced.

The popular morning duo at WMVX/106.5 were called to a meeting with station management Monday and told not to report for the "The Brian and Joe Show."

The radio shows usually airs from 5 to 10 a.m Monday-Friday.

Clear Channel is said to have laid many other employees, including other notable names in Cleveland.

Brian and Joe have been heard on Mix 106.5 for the past 10 years.

Yes, that fourth line is probably Fox 8 newsies referring to our items, though we're pretty sure we've used the term "laid off", not "laid"...

MORE HEARD FROM: We've managed to cobble together a decent list of the cuts at Clear Channel's Toledo cluster.

We already passed along word, thanks to, of the exit of top 40 WVKS/92.5 "Kiss FM" program director Nathan Reed. We also have confirmed that "Kiss" staffer "Mookie" is also out in the cuts.

We do hear that "Kiss" morning driver "Andrew Z"'s show is still intact (as far as we know, as is), and that "Boomer" will be program director of WVKS from now on.

(We're running out of quotation marks! Send more!)

Also out at CC/Toledo: AC WRVF/101.5 "The River" afternoon driver K.C. Palmer, along with two part-timers in news and programming, and one full-time office staffer...

YOUNGSTOWN: We're still processing Youngstown, though one other significant potential cut has been rumored in our comments again.

We're not able to confirm or dispell any of those rumors at this point, so take what you see in the comments with a grain of salt...

Clear Channel's Running Job Loss Total

The national radio trade websites have mostly been eerily silent about the latest round of Clear Channel job cuts today, but we've been pointed to one running list...courtesy of the folks at

This list contains one other Ohio name we have not yet listed:

Nathan Reed has exited as PD of Top 40 WVKS/Toledo.

This may be the tip of the iceberg. We have unconfirmed rumblings that a host of "Kiss FM" Toledo staffers are being pushed out the door along with their program director.

And though it's not in the OMW coverage area, we hear similar stories out of Clear Channel top 40 "Kiss" outlets in Albany NY and Jacksonville FL, leading us (and our readers) to wonder if the company is planning on supplanting local talent there with the rumored "national format" - voicetracked generically by other Clear Channel personalities in larger markets.

At this point, we have no indication that any of this has spread to either of Northeast Ohio's "Kiss FM" outlets - WAKS/96.5 in the Cleveland market (we'd suspect WAKS would be a feed source, more than a receiver), and WAKZ/95.9 in the Youngstown market.

Speaking of Youngstown, we hear unconfirmed rumblings that three on-air staffers are out at Clear Channel's Youngstown cluster.

We have not nailed down the names, which are offered up by an anonymous commenter to one of our earlier items today. (We're hearing the number of 3 on-air layoffs at South Avenue from another source not connected to the commenter.)

And on the fringe of the OMW coverage area, in Tri-State Media Watch territory in Cincinnati, there's word of layoffs at Clear Channel's big news/talker there, WLW/700 "The Big One"...from Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio guru John Kiesewetter's blog on

"SportsTalk" host Paul Daugherty has been laid off. He's apparently being replaced by Lance McAlister from sister station Homer WCKY-AM.

In fact, the WLW-AM Forum page lists "SportsTalk with Lance McAlister" already.

Sports blogger C Trent Rosecrans also could be out. He just sent out a Twitter message saying: "What does one wear to get laid off? Decisions, decisions?"

We're still tracking more moves...

Another Clear Channel Update

OMW hears that at least one on-air staffer has left the building at Clear Channel's Columbus cluster.

We're told that AC WLZT/93.3's Chuck Gillespie is apparently out in today's job cut rounds.

Gillespie is also well known in the market for his earlier nine-year stint at Sinclair ABC affiliate WSYX/6 and FOX affiliate WTTE/28, as anchor and meteorologist on the stations' "Good Day Columbus" show. He also has done fill-in for WTVN/610 morning icon Bob Conners.

We're hearing from our Clear Channel Columbus sources that two office staffers were also apparently shown the door...and that those remaining may have to slog through much more work as Clear Channel implements the aforementioned "hub and spoke" system for its office operations.

As for Clear Channel's Cleveland market cluster on Oak Tree - we've noted "as many as" four high-profile FM staffers could be out.

But we're also hearing that two personalities burning up the rumor mill may not be on today's cut list. That's one reason we have yet to print the names in question. We'll try to nail this down more later today.

For the moment, we've only confirmed four on-air staff departures at Oak Tree, the ones we've already reported - WTAM's Marty Allen and Paul Rado, and WMVX morning team Brian and Joe...

Clear Channel Cleveland's Second Job Cut Wave

UPDATE 9:26 AM 4/28/09: Reliable OMW sources at Oak Tree confirm that WMVX's Brian and Joe have indeed left the building, and were let go earlier this morning...


On Inauguration Day this past January 20th, radio giant Clear Channel cut some 1,800 employees nationwide...part of its effort to pay less money to less people, due to its financial situation, the economy, advertising revenue falling through the proverbial floor, a heavy debt load, and so forth.

Among those shown through the We Can't Afford You Door at Clear Channel's Cleveland cluster on Oak Tree Boulevard in January - a reported number well over 50 employees, many of them in the sales and promotions areas.

Among other staffers, it looks to be job cut time for on-air personalities in this second wave.

And it appears more evident by the hour that the layoffs of talk WTAM/1100 afternoon producer/sidekicks and station veterans Paul Rado and Marty "Big Daddy" Allen on Monday are apparently only just the first ones we've learned about at Oak Tree.

We hear rumblings of as many as four high-profile air personalities on the FM side of Oak Tree's operation. And though we haven't confirmed any of them, yet...we have heard evidence that could lean in that direction on the air.

Hot AC WMVX/106.5 "Mix 106-5" morning team Brian and Joe are nowhere to be found on the station this morning.

As of this writing, WMVX is running an automated, er, "mix" of music, complete with the station's trademark recorded female back announce voice, and non-introduced recorded traffic and weather...joined by other generic station liners.

There are no station liners announcing "Brian and Joe", and there's no other air personality "filling in" for the 22 year local broadcast veterans.

We're hearing rumblings of the departures of at least two other full-time air personalities from Oak Tree's FM stations, though as we said, we're not able to confirm it right now. For that matter, we can't confirm the employment status of WMVX's "Brian and Joe", though it sure sounds like they're gone from listening to the station.

As of this writing, it's before 9 AM, and WMVX has not - yet, we guess - performed the Soviet Style Purge of Brian and Joe from the "Mix 106-5" website.

OMW is also hearing that the cuts in this second wave won't be limited to on-air types, with (again, unconfirmed) rumblings that office staff and engineering employees could be hit with layoffs as well.

This one will develop all day, so keep looking a number of members of Northeast Ohio's broadcasting community are in shock at this latest Clear Channel layoff wave.

And we don't yet have word of cuts at other Clear Channel operations, though we leave you with this from news columnist Tom Taylor's update this morning:

Clear Channel’s “Second Wave” of cuts may strike today.

In programming. And in back-office functions like traffic, continuity and the business office. (The hub-and-spoke principle can apply to more than just programming, you know.) If today’s the day for Second Wave (my name, not San Antonio’s) it would follow the formula of First Wave. That happened on a Tuesday, two weeks after the January 6 managers meetings in Dallas. Fast-forward to this month, and CC managers were in Dallas again, exactly two weeks ago.

We don't want to unnecessarily worry Clear Channel employees who haven't heard anything about this in their own clusters yet.

But based on what we're hearing out of Oak does sound like something's least there, at any rate...

Monday, April 27, 2009

THIS JUST IN: Triv Loses Two At WTAM

OMW hears that Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland afternoon drive host Mike Trivisonno has lost the services of two long-time show staffers.

Out the door at Oak Tree, presumably due to budget cuts, are producer/sidekicks Paul Rado and Marty Allen.

Rado joined the Triv show staff, if we're remembering right, when he offered up his impression of former Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell to the show. He's also hosted some of the station's weekend sports talk shows.

"Big Daddy" Marty Allen has been with Trivisonno since their days at then-talk WERE/1300 (now Radio One talk/brokered WERE/1490).

Triv broke into the professional end of the radio business reading sports on the old WNCX/98.5 morning drive show - the one right before WNCX became Cleveland's Howard Stern affiliate. WNCX and WERE were sister stations at the time.

OMW is also hearing, at least at "rumbling" level, that more layoffs are expected at Oak Tree tomorrow.

We've actually expected such moves, which we were told a week ago were expected to involve both on-air and off-air employees...but we don't have any handle on how many may be let go at Oak Tree - or elsewhere within Clear Channel - tomorrow...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Toledo Radio And TV Changes

There's one change on the radio side in Toledo, and one change coming related to TV in that market.

OMW readers tell us that Matrix talk WNWT/1520 Rossford has indeed abandoned the talk format in favor of a simulcast of co-owned WNKL/96.9 Wauseon's "K-Love" Christian contemporary music format.

The two stations are in the process of being sold by Matrix, the broadcast arm of Toledo's Cornerstone Church, to "K-Love" owner Educational Media Foundation. WNKL has been running the "K-Love" format under an LMA between Matrix/Cornerstone and EMF for some time.

We're also reminded that WNKL has something of a nominal in-market FM presence in Toledo to complement the western 96.9 rimshot signal, with one of K-Love's thousands of translators on 104.1 appearing on the WNKL legal ID.

That'd be W281AL Harbor View, with a 19 watt translator on Toledo's north side. There are other K-Love translators in the market, but only 104.1 earns a place on the local legal ID - with just a mention, not an actual legal ID for the translator.

Anyway, we're wondering if W281AL is enough of a fill, combined with the main 96.9 signal, that EMF considers 1520 unnecessary as a K-Love repeater...and if the format is on the current WNWT to stay, or just to run something until it gets disposed to someone else.

1520 in the Toledo market has a recent history playing religious formats. It was "Dominion 1520" under Cornerstone Church until the group decided to flip to talk recently.

On the TV side, a new HDTV subchannel is scheduled to debut soon.'s Trip Ericson, who watches such developments, tells us that the home/lifestyle channel "Live Well HD" is about to plant itself on the 13.2 subchannel of ABC/Disney O&O WTVG/13, currently occupied by a channel dedicated to repeats of WTVG's local newscasts.


Live Well HD Network, a fully high definition and digital broadcast, online and wireless network, is being launched by the 10 ABC-owned television stations reaching about 24-percent of America's TV homes.
The network's initial series include "Home with Lisa Quinn" on interior design, "Let's Dish" on healthy cooking, "Mirror/Mirror" on beauty and fashion, "Say Ahh..." on health and medicine, "Motion" on outdoor activities, and "Advice for Life" on personal growth.
The 10 ABC-owned television stations launching Live Well HD Network today are WABC-TV in New York, KABC-TV in Los Angeles, WLS-TV in Chicago, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, KGO-TV in San Francisco, KTRK-TV in Houston, WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham, KFSN-TV in Fresno, WJRT-TV in Flint and WTVG-TV in Toledo.

The debut of the new subchannel network is set for Monday.

But 13.2's existing programming won't entirely go away, the Live Well HD programming will (from what we can gather) share time with the local news repeats.

Here's a schedule for the Toledo version of Live Well HD. The schedule says in addition to appearing over-air on digital 13.2, it's slated for Buckeye Cablevision channel 614. (That's where WTVG's "Plus" 13.2 subchannel already airs.)

Sure enough, there are schedule holes there that would presumably be filled by the WTVG local news repeats, or similar programming already airing on the other ABC O&O's secondary digital channels.

Though the local news repeats are presumably in SD format, we hear that Live Well HD will be chomping up WTVG-DT's bandwidth in 720p HDTV format.

We're wondering if they'll see some of the occasional glitches seen over in Youngstown, where New Vision's WKBN-DT is airing both CBS and Fox (WYFX "Fox Youngstown") programming in 720p HD...

Ted Henry Retires: His Letter To Co-Workers

Here's retiring anchor Ted Henry's letter to his colleagues at WEWS:


Dear Friends,

After lengthy consideration, I have come to the major decision that this is the right moment of my life to retire. My last day will be May 20th.

I leave with feelings of satisfaction, fulfillment and with expectations for an enjoyable retirement of continued learning. I also leave with nostalgia for all my friends and experiences during my 44 years in the broadcasting industry in Northeastern Ohio, especially the last 38 years with the E. W. Scripps Company at TV5. While we still have the energy to do so, my wife Jody and I would like to spend more time traveling the world in order to pursue our most absorbing interest, which has long been our hobby. We seek, meet, and interview reputed wise or 'holy" people of all cultures and wisdom traditions.

In a way this is continuing my urge to explore, discover and share, which always prompted me in my profession. We look forward to this as a never ending adventure into unknown and exciting realms which are especially relevant to us at this stage in our lives.

This is the work I now want to continue and expand, the way in which I'd like to use my journalistic skills for upliftment. It is our hope that in time, this wisdom trove might be helpful to all who are interested.

I do expect retirement to be an adjustment, especially since I will miss seeing all of you every day. The friends and mentors I have benefited from are irreplaceable, and I appreciate every laugh and discovery we have shared together. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every day of my work, especially due to the wonderful folks I have been blessed to know.

The Northeastern Ohio audience has graced me enormously in allowing me the career I began daydreaming about at the age of seven when I saw Dorothy Fuldheim commenting on the news on TV5 when my family bought our first television set.

My nearly four decades with E. W. Scripps at TV5, have granted me first hand experiences of history and notable personalities both here and around the world. These have been life changing and rewarding experiences I would not have had otherwise and will never forget. I consider myself most fortunate as each year has been an expansion in growth and realization far beyond my childhood dreams.

I am exceedingly grateful to E. W. Scripps, to all of my WEWS-TV mentors over the years, to all friends and colleagues and to the Northeastern Ohio viewing public. It's been an incalculable privilege and lots of fun!

With warmest regards to all,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ted Henry Retires: WEWS Press Release

Veteran NewsChannel 5 Anchor Ted Henry Retires

Cleveland – After nearly 38 years at WEWS-TV, anchor Ted Henry will retire effective May 20, 2009. In an announcement to station colleagues today, Ted says he “will leave with feelings of satisfaction, fulfillment and with expectations for an enjoyable retirement of continued learning.” Ted plans to spend more time traveling around the world with his wife, Jody.

Ted began his broadcasting career in 1964 at a radio station in his home town of Canton. He then worked as a news reporter at WAKR-TV23 in Akron. In 1968, Ted traveled to Paraguay to work for the Peace Corps on community health, agriculture and education issues. When Ted returned to Ohio, he worked at WKBN-TV in Youngstown.

Ted joined the WEWS staff in 1972, working first as a news producer, then as weekend anchor. Ted was named weekday anchor of the 6 and 11pm news in 1975 and has held that position ever since. Currently Ted co-anchors NewsChannel 5 at 6 and 11pm with Danita Harris.

“Ted set the standard for excellence at this station in this market, and will be sorely missed,” said Vice President and General Manager of WEWS-TV, Viki Regan.

In addition to reporting on issues of importance to residents in Northeast Ohio, Ted has traveled extensively to bring significant stories of interest home to WEWS viewers. Ted has covered nearly every political convention since 1972. Ted went to Israel six times to cover the war crimes trial of John Demjanjuk, documented the Berlin Wall’s fall and reported live from Rome after the death of Pope John Paul II.

Ted’s story on political turmoil in Peru made Cleveland television history because it was the first time a live international feed was broadcast in this market.

In 1995, Ted won numerous national awards for the documentary “Finding Aliza.” Ted reported and executive produced this story about the reunion of two holocaust survivors who met at Auschwitz in 1944 but lost track of one another until the International Red Cross came to their aid. Ted accompanied University Heights resident Agnes Greenfeld on her journey to Israel to find Aliza Grunwald. Ted has also won five local TV Emmys during his career.

Henry says “it's been a tremendous privilege to have been invited into the homes of two generations of Clevelanders to report the news of the region and the world.” Ted credits Northeastern Ohio viewers for “allowing me the career I began daydreaming about at the age of seven when I saw Dorothy Fuldheim commenting on the news on TV5 when my family bought our first television set.”

“Ted has served as a strong leader and mentor in our newsroom. The NewsChannel 5 staff will continue Ted’s legacy of serving viewers with extensive relevant local news coverage. However, there is only one Ted Henry,” Regan notes.


Ted Henry's Retirement

So much for that hiatus thing...but we had no idea THIS would be announced.

As linked over to the left on our Twitter account, nearly 38 year veteran WEWS/5 news anchor Ted Henry is retiring this May 20th.

We have some more related items we won't be able to put up here for another couple of hours or so, but keep watching...they will be added.

Until then, you can read WEWS' announcement at the link on our Twitter feed..again, to the left side of this very Mighty Blog...

Abby Heads Home

A heads-up - your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) will be on hiatus through early next week. Most likely, we'll return sometime Monday or Tuesday.

In the meantime, we'll continue to use our Twitter feed (seen at left) to pass along any breaking local media news, as we did Wednesday afternoon on this item...

ABBY'S RETURN: You can take the morning news anchor out of Tennessee, but you apparently can't take the Tennessee out of the morning news anchor.

When Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 reset its morning show in 2007, the Cleveland station added an unusual combination - pairing long-time chief meteorologist Mark Nolan as a co-anchor with Abby Ham, a popular morning co-anchor at Gannett's sister station in Knoxville, TN, WBIR/10.

In hindsight, we should have seen her return to some point.

This, from our item shortly before her debut as co-host with Nolan on "Channel 3 News Today":

The article linked above says Abby is engaged to be married, and she'll tie the knot in Knoxville in 2008 - where she says she'll also return for holidays and the like.

Returning to Knoxville is just what Abby Ham is doing, and indeed, as WKYC/3 senior director and "Director's Cut" blogger Frank Macek notes, she's returning right where she left off in late 2007 - to her old job as morning co-host of WBIR's "10News Today".

Quoting WKYC news director Rita Andolsen in the article:

"Abby joined WKYC in November 2007 and has been a wonderful addition to the morning show," says Andolsen. "Her heart is calling her home to her family in Knoxville."

It's a hometown pull Ham acknowledges to WKYC's Frank Macek:

"Cleveland has been so wonderful to me. The people have welcomed me with open arms and I have had a blast with my co-workers. This was a personal decision that took a lot of thought and prayer. My family lives in Knoxville and I miss them terribly. It was just too hard to be away." "I have truly met some of my dearest friends here in Cleveland and at WKYC. The people here are so genuine and I know they will be friends for life. And... I will never stop rooting for the Cavs," she added.

Well, Tennessee has only one NBA team, the Grizzlies, and they A) aren't in Knoxville and B) stink. Heh.

Abby Ham's old station is pulling out the stops to welcome her back. In an article on the WBIR site:

Ham made quite an impression among Channel 10 viewers during her first stint in East Tennessee. (WBIR general manager Jeff) Lee said being able to welcome Ham back home "is a win."

Ham did make an impression here, as well. But she appears to have clearly clicked with the smaller market of Knoxville on a higher, more personal level, and is heading back.

WBIR's item notes that Abby's replacement will be heading into a job in the sales department, an opportunity the station says she wanted.

Back at 13th and Lakeside, there's no word who might take Abby Ham's place alongside Mark Nolan...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday's Radio And TV Openness

We've got a couple of corrections in the hopper.

But first, some FM radio on-air changes... at least one of which has been actually been discussed openly with listeners. Now, there's a change...

FISH MOVES: When a radio station is forced to consolidate its staffing and lineup - usually leaving at least one person out of work - management isn't exactly forthcoming about the moves.

Leaving personalities often leave with what gets called a "Soviet-style purge" from station websites and promotional material...the material scrubbed with mentions of the former station employee like he or she was never there.

So, we've got to hand it to Salem Cleveland general manager Mark Jaycox.

Salem's CCM outlet, WFHM/95.5 "The Fish", has done some schedule shuffling. And instead of having to pull teeth to get information about it, all we have to do is go to a station web page and start copying and pasting from Jaycox's own letter:

To remain competitive and to continue to broadcast the same great music our audience has come to enjoy for the past 8 years, Our company: Salem Communications has required some minor adjustments to several of their Fish stations, with reference to certain shifts and air talent.

Jaycox's letter goes on to note that Mark Rein moves into afternoon drive, where, "we are excited to see what Mark’s fun and entertaining style of talk will do in this important time slot."

Rein's move to 3-7 PM displaces now-former afternoon driver Kristine Lane, who Jaycox notes will - again quoting Jaycox's letter - "remain part of our family in a new marketing role."

And as for middays?

Our beloved Gina Hart, unfortunately will be moving into a consultant role with Salem in the short term, as we automate the mid day period, from 10am to 3pm.

That "consultant role" and "in the short term" wording (not to mention "unfortunately") doesn't sound good for Ms. Hart. But in the 2009 world of radio, an automated midday shift is nearly ubiquitous.

So, there's your upshot.

We can't remember a last time that a radio station manager has admitted to listeners that a daypart was automated. Well, aside from the joking use of "Otto Mation" on some stations' schedules. We also can't remember the last time a local manager indicated in public that changes were basically forced upon the local cluster by corporate decisions.

Len Howser and Brooke Taylor remain as morning drive co-hosts on "The Fish", Cleveland version...

TOLEDO CHANGES: Here's an exit at Cumulus Toledo that apparently is not another layoff budget cut. Well, directly, anyway.

Quoting AllAccess on Tuesday afternoon:

CUMULUS Alternative WRWK (106.5 THE ZONE)/TOLEDO APD/MD/middayer CAROLYN STONE has decided to exit to raise her two daughters. She had been off-air on maternity leave since the beginning of the year. CAROLYN spent four years with THE ZONE.

WRWK PD DAN MCCLINTOCK is looking to fill a future on-air position. Send resume and mp3 to dan.mcclintock (at)

We had a tip on this earlier, but AllAccess got up the item before we had a chance to try to confirm it.

OMW hears that Stone is probably doing just fine without a paying radio job, as far as being able to exit on her own and to raise her family...

PRICETAG FOR 67: Even non-rated, rimshot infomercial outlets have their price.

Several OMW readers pointed out that the digital paperwork for the sale of WOAC/67 Canton to Illinois-based Radiant Life Ministries has hit the FCC website, and if you guessed the religious broadcaster is paying $7 million for the station...congratulations!

Radiant Life Ministries is an arm of the Tri-State Christian Television empire, as we noted in our earlier item. TCT owns, among other stations, WNYB/24 Jamestown NY, just down I-86 from Erie the southern end of the Buffalo NY market.

For those of you wishing that WOAC would somehow be bought by someone who would turn it into a secular independent station, here's another dose of reality.

"Cleveland Classic Media's" Tim Lones signed up for TCT's E-newsletter after our first item on the WOAC sale, and Tim tells us that the TCT folks are already touting their latest incoming station.

Since the graphic is a bit big, we'll type the message from TCT owners Garth and Tina Coonce here, in part:

TCT Television Network is very pleased to announce that TCT has just signed an agreement to purchase a major market television station in the Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Ohio market.

Channel 47 is a powerful one mega-watt digital signal that covers the entire Northeast section with 1.7 million households of Ohio.

Tim points out to us that they do refer to WOAC by its digital channel RF number, 47.

They don't mention that even with its digital facility in Portage County's Brimfield Township, across Ohio 43 at I-76 from the tower holding WNIR/100.1 and its sister low-power/Class A TV station WAOH-LP/29, WOAC is still not as easy to catch as far north as Cleveland compared to the market's other full-power stations out of the Parma antenna farm. But we digress.

We don't know the "channel 47" reference means that they'll abandon the former analog channel number, 67, which is now being sent via PSIP (as usually expected) as 67-1 on WOAC's now sole signal, its digital one. Analog 67 was shut off in February, of course...

ERRATA: It's not major stuff, but we thought we'd correct ourselves again.

In our most recent item about Akron market talk WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron" picking up Talk Radio Network's Michael Savage for "network fill-in" - taking three hours of the time slot normally occupied by the station's Tom Erickson - we got off onto a tangent about TRN and its "hard sell" to affiliates.

We neglected to remember that Rusty Humphries is not the only TRN program on Savage's former Akron market home, Clear Channel talk WHLO/640.

We'd forgotten that former Premiere syndicated host Phil Hendrie's latest show is now syndicated by TRN. The Los Angeles-based Hendrie airs late nights on WHLO, from 2-5 AM.

And Rusty Humphries airs before him from 11 PM-2 AM, not at 9 PM as we advised in the other item. It's self-syndicated financial advice guru Dave Ramsey in that earlier evening slot on WHLO.

We'll flog ourselves with a printed WHLO schedule to make up for it. (And even THAT schedule isn't right Tuesday-Friday, unless the station has taken to playing one hour of Phil Hendrie at the same time as "Wall Street Journal This Morning" at 5 AM.)

That's not all.

OMW reader "Wayne in Akron", an avid listener to WNIR, points out that we incorrectly attributed one comment to him in our followup item.

It was another reader ("king-of-kings") who made the comment about Mike Gallagher, not Wayne. Wayne did correctly inform us that WNIR evening host Tom Erickson would return on Wednesday night, not this past Monday.

Here, take the last dose of our Mea Culpa, Wayne...and thank you for paying attention to "The Talk of Akron" and pointing out stuff we miss...we really do appreciate it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Playoff Push-Off

For the first time in its history, Fox Sports Ohio is facing the need to juggle not one, but two playoff games involving its the same night, tonight.

Both teams, oddly enough, are in first round playoff series with the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers face the Detroit Pistons for the second game of their series, and new NHL playoff entrants the Columbus Blue Jackets tangle with the Detroit Red Wings in the third game of their series.

As a public service to sports fans, here is information on TV carriage for both games.

The Blue Jackets' website lists where their game will air on FS Ohio tonight here, with HDTV coverage mainly in Central Ohio.

Up here in Northeast Ohio, the Blue Jackets play second fiddle to the Cavaliers, with no HD cable or satellite carriage of the NHL game aside from DirecTV's "sports pack" subscribers.

We do know, though, that Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio system has a dedicated second HD sports channel (437) that the name in the program guide would suggest was meant for such overflow ("FSNBJ").

Other than that, the Blue Jackets game on the TWC NEO system would be in SD only on digital channel 310, with the Cavaliers occupying analog 30, digital 309 and HD 436.

We can't find a similar list for the Cavaliers/Pistons contest tonight, but we presume those in Columbus and south will get the FS Ohio coverage of the game on the usual overflow channel. We think TWC uses analog 24, a local programming channel, for that.

But it looks like tonight's game will air nationally on the widely carried TNT cable/satellite channel, which even has some HD carriage on Time Cavs fans outside Cleveland will have to do very little scrambling...

Tuesday's Normal

An interesting mix this morning, including a couple of updates to radio items we've had recently...

HORROR TURN: Like when most radio people end up involuntarily headed for unemployment, it seemed like former CBS Radio Cleveland classic rock WNCX/98.5 morning co-host Mike Oleszewski disappeared like a character in a horror movie.

As it turns out, that's exactly what he'll be this summer.

An alert OMW reader points out that "Mike O" will be in the cast of the horror movie "The Dead Matter", which is set for release in August.

The movie's IMDB cast list has Oleszewski as "TV News Anchor #2", and contains a couple of other Cleveland media names...including long-time WJW/8 personality "Big Chuck" Schodowski, and sports reporter/anchor Al Pawlowski (SportsTime Ohio, WKYC/3, etc.). That's no accident, as we'll see in a bit.

The main website for "The Dead Matter" has a little more on the plot:

A vampire relic with occult powers falls into the hands of a grief-stricken young woman who will do anything to contact her dead brother. The Dead Matter is a story-driven horror film drenched in the dark atmospheric world of Midnight Syndicate's music.

Unlike our reader's suggestion, the local cast members of "The Dead Matter" aren't "going Hollywood" literally...they didn't even leave Northeast Ohio for this project, which is now in post-production.

The locally-filmed movie is the brainchild of local musician and producer Edward Douglas, who owns the movie's production company Midnight Syndicate, and is based in Geauga County's Chardon.

Douglas' Midnight Syndicate became known for creating Halloween-style horror movie and video game scores, and that got him into movie production, according to a 2006 article by Abby Cymerman in "Smart Business Cleveland":

Networking with his new movie industry connections and having access to a larger budget, Douglas soon will be directing and producing a horror-suspense thriller, “The Dead Matter.” It’s a remake of a movie he directed and scored after he graduated from college, and, still fighting the system, he plans to film in Northeast Ohio with local talent.

We wish everyone involved in the project well.

We know nothing about horror movies, but it seems this one is attracting quite a bit of attention from the "horror industry press", as it were. It's also attracted at least one "name" cast member...Andrew Divoff, who played Mikhail Bakunin on the ABC mega-hit "Lost".

And this "Press" link on the movie's site includes a number of those articles, and Douglas' appearances on..."The WNCX Morning Show" while Oleszewski was a co-host.

A trailer from the movie is posted on the main "The Dead Matter" site linked above.

There must be something about that WNCX show and performing. Later, we'll have details on another former "WNCX Morning Show" cast member who's involved in a theatre project...

ERRATA: For whatever reason, when we posted the item about talk WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron" airing TRN's Michael Savage as a network fill-in for local evening host Tom Erickson, we thought we'd heard that Erickson would return from his Florida family wedding trip on Monday night.

He didn't, and Savage once again aired in the 7-10 PM portion of his regular weeknight time slot on Monday.

OMW reader and WNIR fan "Wayne in Akron" corrects our earlier item, and says Erickson will be back on the air at Broadcast Park starting Wednesday night.

Which still leaves our unanswered question: Will the controversial Michael Savage join the syndicated late night/weekend network schedule at "The Talk of Akron"?

To say that Savage syndicator Talk Radio Network plays hardball in trying to clear all of its shows may be like saying "water is wet".

Though TRN's big name shows have long disappeared from WNIR's Akron market talk competitor, Clear Channel talk WHLO/640, the company's Rusty Humphries remains.

Without TRN's rumored sales tactics ("we'll give you the show you want, only if you carry these other shows you may not want"), Humphries may not have an affiliate base, period. No, we're not fans.

But somehow, in the process of once selling Laura Ingraham and Michael Savage to WHLO back in those days, Humphries ended up on the WHLO schedule...and is still there, even after the Clear Channel talker dispatched both better known hosts off that schedule. Well, a talk station has to air something at 9 PM weeknights, we guess.

Wayne, our reader who seems to know more about WNIR than some actually working there, suggests that the overnight clearance of Salem's Mike Gallagher is actually popular with regular listeners.

And he notes that Gallagher's program even gets some attention on the WNIR morning drive funfest with Stan Piatt, Akron Radio Superstar/Icon Steve French, Jim Midock and Maggie Fuller. (Well, so do other WNIR hosts like Erickson, but...define "attention" to us.)

But we suggested that TRN may try to push Savage there, because Gallagher's show now gets a live Northeast Ohio clearance on Salem's own talker, WHK/1420 Cleveland. (Of course. TRN really wants Savage cleared live 6-9 PM, which is not happening on local talk stalwart WNIR, period.)

And if the station wants to continue using Savage as "network fill-in" for Erickson, TRN will probably want WNIR to "find a home" for the show somewhere on the schedule, even late weekend nights/overnights.

And, of course, clear Savage's commercial spots in his live time slot...during the last hour of afternoon driver Bob Golic's show, and the first two hours of Erickson's evening show.

We'll see if anything develops...

TV LOGO: For whatever reason, OMW readers are fascinated with local TV stations' positioning, sets and logos.

We got a flurry of questions when Local TV-then-FOX O&O WJW/8 was in the process of revamping its news set and their on-air look to the FOX O&O standard. Our readers searched out signs of the new set and look, and peppered us with questions about it.

Now, some of our readers are noting a slight change at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5. From a comment by one reader:

I noticed that WEWS has a new on air look for the news. The ugly old "News Channel 5" bug is gone and it has been replaced by a bug that resembles an ABC7 O&O bug(except ours says ABC5). As far as I can tell, they're still calling it "News Channel 5" (unfortunately) when talking about the news shows.

Sure enough, a "circle 5/ABC" bug has made its way to the regular WEWS on-air look, as the station continues to deemphasize the "NewsChannel 5" branding for pretty much everything except the news itself.

At one point, the entire station, including its entertainment programming, fell under the "NewsChannel 5" moniker. (i.e. "Catch an all-new 'Lost', tonight at 9 on NewsChannel 5!")

But while watching for this, we caught audio in a promo for the station's full prime-time lineup, where the female voice-over announcer called the station "Channel 5 ABC". (Note the logo and the voice-over person using that same order, and it's not "ABC5"'s much closer to what ABC O&O WTVG/13 Toledo brands as "13abc".)

We've also noticed the station pulling the WEWS call letters out of mothballs. There was a time you wouldn't know Channel 5 was WEWS unless you squinted at the legal ID text.

What does this mean in the scheme of things? Not much, but people seem to notice...

Monday, April 20, 2009

No Connection Monday

It's pretty much All Quiet on the Media Front, with not much to pick up for this Monday update. But we wanted to let our readers know that we're around...somehow...

SAVAGE VISIT: When talk WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron" evening host Tom Erickson goes on vacation, the Akron market station will plug in one of its syndicated offerings...most of them usually consigned to regular late night/weekend clearances due to the full-time local talk schedule on WNIR.

Until Westwood One dropped his show, Lars Larson's evening program filled this role for the station. It was an easy move, since Larson's national show airs weeknights 7-10 PM live.

(WNIR carries the first hour of Westwood One's Jim Bohannon at 10 PM as a part of the Erickson "fill-in" rotation....before joining "Jimbo" as usual, live after 11 PM.)

But Westwood One no longer carries "The Lars Larson Show", and WNIR has not followed Larson's move to new syndicator Compass Media Networks. Larson's former weekend clearance on WNIR will be covered by local host Bob Earley starting next Saturday.

With WNIR's Erickson taking part in a family wedding in Florida, what played on WNIR on Thursday and Friday nights last week?

It's a show with some history in the market...the program hosted by controversial Talk Radio Network evening host Michael Savage, who once aired on Clear Channel crosstown talk WHLO/640, and also was heard on Salem talk WHK/1420 in Cleveland.

WHLO dropped Savage before the San Francisco-based host made his latest round of controversial remarks regarding autism. It now airs Citadel Media evening host Mark Levin, who has become a reliable option for stations weary of Savage's...uh...unstable antics.

WHK rather pointedly dropped Savage after the autism flap, with Salem Cleveland general manager Mark Jaycox calling him a "knucklehead" and moving quickly to replace him. Levin also gained a clearance there.

We don't know if Savage will somehow land in the regular WNIR schedule as one of the regular stable of late night/weekend syndicated hosts. And as noted, the station has now carved out 6 hours of local programming in that rotation with Earley's new show.

For the moment, there's no indication that the Savage appearance was anything more than TRN hoping to sell WNIR on carrying the show regularly.

WNIR recently started carrying TRN mid-morning host Laura Ingraham (please note spelling, Broadcast Park) in late weekend evenings, where her show will air after Earley's program. The station also carries TRN's Tammy Bruce and Jerry Doyle late into Saturday nights.

We hear the syndicator does a "hard sell" trying to get clearances for its other shows...which would probably explain why former Savage and Ingraham affiliate WHLO airs TRN's Rusty Humphries in late evenings weekdays.

We heard the station's board op, Friday night, note that at least some WNIR listeners had called in and liked what they heard. We'd assume that others weren't as happy.

And as far as we know, Tom Erickson is back in his regular chair at the Talk of Brady tonight from 7-11 PM.

There's no indication to us that the station would pick up Savage or any other syndicated show except as weekend or late-night perhaps if TRN manages to sell WNIR on "The Savage Nation", it'd air late nights in a slot currently filled by Salem's Mike Gallagher. That would make sense to us, since Gallagher now gets a live, mid-morning clearance on the company's WHK...

AN ICON LEAVES THE TUBE: The era of iconic, high-paid local TV news anchors is definitely coming to a close...and it's happening in Dayton.

Since Dayton is a fringe market for us - basically shared, in part, with our colleague Jeremy Moses' Tri-State Media Watch out of the Cincinnati area - we don't pay a lot of attention to it.

But our readers in the area tell us that the retirement of Cox CBS affiliate WHIO/7 anchor Jim Baldridge is a Big Deal down there.

From the station website:

After a broadcasting career spanning five decades, News Center 7 Anchor Jim Baldridge will be retiring from WHIO-TV at the end of August. “I am very grateful to the people of the Miami Valley for welcoming me into their homes, and to WHIO-TV for a long and fulfilling career in one of the most respected newsrooms in the country,” says Baldridge.

During his 37 years at WHIO-TV, Baldridge has traveled throughout the Miami Valley, across the country and around the world, to bring stories home to Channel 7 viewers.

One of our regular readers in Southwest Ohio is Rich Emery, who's been helping us track the digital TV conversion in other parts of Ohio from his base in Hamilton(!). He tells us:

I recall when he was a newbie at WHIO, working at that time with Don Wayne (Dayton's version of Walter Cronkite, an avuncular and completely trustworthy news source). Jim stepped into Don's shoes and carried on almost without pause.

Won't be the same down here without him!

Though Lima native Baldridge has been with WHIO-TV for 37 years, and would presumably be a natural candidate to call it a career, his retirement still a symbol of the changing world of TV news.

Oh, he'll be replaced, unlike WKYC/3's Tim White in Cleveland...who wasn't there for 37 years, but wasn't replaced when the station and anchor couldn't come to terms on a new contract last year.

Quoting the WHIO-TV story again:

News Center 7 Anchor James Brown will be assuming the anchor responsibilities for the 5pm and 6pm newscasts along with his current duties anchoring News Center 7 at 5:30pm with Cheryl McHenry and 11pm with Letitia Perry. Brown, who was born in Wilmington and lived in Lebanon, has been with WHIO-TV for the past seven years.

“We’ve very fortunate to have a strong journalist like James ready to continue the tradition of Jim and the other great news anchors here at News Center 7,” says WHIO-TV News Director David Bennallack.

"Strong journalist" or no, will WHIO-TV be dealing with replacing HIM in another 30 years or so?

Even though Cox is still considered a relatively old-line, traditional media company, we're wondering what the role of a "television news anchor" will be in the mid-21st Century, or if the entire concept will seem as dated as black and white TV...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Analog Shutdown Wave, Second Group

One Northeast Ohio TV station has shut off its analog transmitter, and a handful of others have followed, on the first day that non-educational stations were allowed to do so before the new June 12th digital TV switch deadline.

More on this from our new Ohio Digital TV sub-blog:

ODTV: Analog Shutdown Wave, Second Group

Thursday, April 16, 2009

WOAC Sold To Religious Operator

Canton-licensed infomerical outlet WOAC/67 is being sold to a new owner.

TV Business Report
and TVNewsday both report that WOAC is being sold by the trustee for broadcaster Arthur Liu's Multicultural Television Broadcasting to religious operator Radiant Life Ministries. The deal hasn't yet hit the FCC database, and no price is yet being reported by broker Kalil and Company, which represented the seller.

Quoting TVBR:

The seller is trustee Lee Shubert on behalf of MTB Cleveland Operator. MTB refers to Multicultural Television Broadcasting. Multicultural picked up the station in a deal in which it acquired several E.W. Scripps Shop at Home television stations, but ran into difficulty keeping the group in the black.

It's no surprise that a group named Radiant Life Ministries will mount a religious format on WOAC, but what is Radiant Life Ministries?

It turns out to be an arm of mainly regional religious TV operator TCT (originally "Tri-State Christian Television"). TCT is run out of Marion IL by Garth and Tina Coonce, and their "About us" page says the operation began with a Cincinnati-based station...though we don't know which station.

The operation enjoys nationwide clearance via both DirecTV and Dish Network.

TCT/Radiant Life owns Jamestown NY religious outlet WNYB/26, on the southern edge of the Buffalo market - just down I-86 from Erie PA. The Coonces are also on-air as hosts of their network's "TCT Today".

WOAC's facilities, at this point, are all-digital...with the shutdown of analog channel 67 on February 17. (Just as an aside, Trinity Broadcasting O&O WDLI/17, the other full-power Canton-licensed station, plans to shut down analog 17 late tonight.)

Thanks to a Friend of OMW for delivering us this nugget!

Returns And Changes

Some assorted stuff in our Thursday update...

PUBLIC EYE RETURN: When long-time CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 morning co-host Robin Benzle found herself not waking up Cleveland with Trapper Jack on the station's popular morning show, she lamented that it'd be difficult to find her way back onto the stations seemed to be interested in female hosts who were - as she put it to Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington - "giggle queens".

There's no such worry about the Internet, where Benzle has made a return to "the public eye", as she puts it to us.

Benzle tells OMW that her new website focuses on two topics her former WDOK listeners know are dear to her heart - food and travel:

"Each Friday, a new Chow Time cooking video is posted, as well as periodical travel videos. There is a new travel series on my recent trip to Ecuador. There are hundreds of my recipes on the site, travel articles and an online store. New age - new media."

The site even contains a pitch to join Benzle, her husband Eric, and Cleveland Zoo director Steve Taylor and his wife Sarah, on a Kenyan safari trip in late August into early September.

Of course, back at One Radio Lane, Benzle was eventually replaced by Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 programmer Terry Moir, who continues in that role at 13th and Lakeside...

THAT CLEAR CHANNEL ANNOUNCEMENT: Well, at least they tried to put a better spin on it.

Perhaps smarting from the reaction to its "Inauguration Day Massacre", where some 1,800 Clear Channel employees were shown the door nationwide on January 20th, the radio giant tries to make lemonade out of Ryan Seacrest-brand lemons.

The company unveiled a broad look at new local programming strategies, along with a multi-pronged upgrade of its community service commitments, on Wednesday.

Though we don't have a LOT to say that hasn't already been said by wiser folks at various radio trade sites, we've picked up some interesting points that could affect local Clear Channel operations here and elsewhere.

Here, read along with us from the press release:

Clear Channel Radio today announced a multi-point plan to raise the bar for radio programming across all day parts and platforms, including online and mobile. The plan includes the launch of new programming and makes programming and on-air talent that’s proven to be most popular with audiences, available more broadly to local program directors in all markets for all day parts.

That last line is the key here, in our opinion.

And this, from Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan, after acknowledging the "particularly difficult economy" that makes it difficult for "some local stations" to develop programming:

Local Clear Channel Radio program directors will have total choice and flexibility in choosing the Premium Choice programming elements. They can elect large portions, single pieces, or none of the offered programming. All of the Premium Choice elements were determined in full consultation with the company’s most experienced and trusted programming and operations managers.

Hogan says that Clear Channel top 40, hot AC and other similar format stations will now have the flexibility and choice to run Ryan Seacrest's "On Air" in any daypart...and that its urban format stations will have the same flexibility with the morning show hosted by former Clevelander Steve Harvey.

WAIT! We're just kidding with that last paragraph. Honest! Well, we think we are. Hogan did not say that. But he did cite Seacrest's success, and that of Harvey:

Over the past two years, the company has rigorously evaluated all of the programming at every station across every day part. Based on tests of the programming elements, audience growth and ratings have grown dramatically.

* On Air with Ryan Seacrest increased audience share in San Francisco by some 86% within three months of beginning its broadcast there; and the show increased audience share in Denver by some 46% in the same timeframe.
* Similarly, Steve Harvey has improved ratings in all 10 markets into which he’s expanded.

While indeed it's fun to poke a little at Seacrest, a successful broadcaster who is pretty much the Poster Child for Bland Programming, we think we've uncovered something here.

Quoting the release:

Clear Channel’s performance analysis tools evaluate a wide range of variables connected to a broadcast program and/or specific on-air talent and identifies properties with significant potential to succeed in other markets. The company believes it is the most sophisticated tool of its type in broadcasting. The performance analysis tool and the Premium Choice program will combine to build the careers of lesser-known talent that consistently outperform their peers.

Ah, but those "peformance analysis tools" appear to be built around the new PPM ratings system:

Content and talent are selected for the program based on the evaluation of new PPM-based audience-measurement reports and data produced by Clear Channel Radio’s proprietary talent performance tool.

Unless we missed something, Arbitron's "Personal People Meter" hasn't yet made it to a single Ohio radio market, and we haven't seen any announcement that the devices will show up in Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati any time soon.

They will, eventually, but the kinks are still being worked out of PPM...particularly on the legal side, where various groups and states have weighed in hoping to slow it down or stop it. Or, perhaps, extract legal has already been done in New York.

The result is that "building careers for lesser-known talent", as Clear Channel suggests, may not be happening as quickly for hosts in non-PPM least as part of the use of this Clear Channel "talent performance tool".

If local hosts are brought into regional or national syndication outside of PPM markets, it'll be done the old fashioned way...based on the performance analysis Clear Channel has implemented outside PPM markets.

But it sounds to us like the company is concentrating on bringing local hosts in large markets into other large markets, and then down to, uh, the sticks.

Like, say, a certain Mr. Seacrest.

How does all this affect local program directors, who will presumably still exist in the Clear Channel world - for now, at least?

The company takes pains to say the local PDs will have "a choice", and won't have the "Premium Choice" programming thrust upon them:

Local Clear Channel Radio program directors will have total choice and flexibility in choosing the Premium Choice programming elements. They can elect large portions, single pieces, or none of the offered programming.

Ah, but the current financial realities may well mean that local programmers will basically have no choice but to choose large amounts from the Premium Choice menu, with maybe a small smattering of Local Morning Show pieces added in. "Here, here's a great list of quality programming at a low price - you really can't afford much else." That's just our take.

And we remind readers that this programming release says the company is aiming to "improve program quality for all dayparts"...and makes it clear that the "Premium Choice" offerings are what the company considers to be an improvement in quality.

And as a result, though 1,800 employees aren't being handed their walking papers this week, the moves will certainly result in eventual job loss for local Clear Channel clusters...

LOCAL SERVICE: Together with this release, Clear Channel outlined a multi-point plan aimed at upgrading local community service.

From another company press release:

Clear Channel Radio today announced an impressive new level of commitment to local community affairs that will define a new, higher ‘minimum level of service’ for all markets. The commitment spans five areas: charitable partnerships, public-service announcements (PSAs), local public-affairs programming, local advisory boards, and 24/7 access to station management for local officials.

Though Clear Channel insists that the "local public-affairs programming" won't just be an expanded version of the traditional Sunday morning public affairs show, it's worth noting that considering the above, there'll probably be less of an opportunity for public service the old-fashioned way - by a local host or personality sitting in a local studio most of the day, talking directly to listeners.

(And the aforementioned Ryan Seacrest isn't really doing local remotes out in the community. Even in Los Angeles, really...)

Like pretty much all radio operations, Clear Channel stations run extensive flights of public service announcements, and always have.

This grand promise to extend those announcements may have one driving force Clear Channel's John Hogan doesn't talk about - the reduction in sales of spot inventory, due to the economic recession, certainly leaves a lot more available on-air time to run those PSAs.

We'll be watching Clear Channel's promise for "extended engagement" with community groups, and "local advisory boards" to help the company's stations meet public service needs...and localize public service messages.

And presumably, the "24/7 access" to local management is meant to answer frequent company critics, particularly over that infamous situation of the Minot ND toxic train derailment - when local public safety agencies complained that they couldn't just call up the local radio station and get the word out.

We've gone on at length about that here, but in brief: there were many issues in that situation, and we don't place the onus on Clear Channel for the Minot Situation nearly as much as some others do.

For one, the local officials seemed clueless about the use of existing emergency broadcast procedures, and for another, the potential over-air listenership of all Minot radio stations in the middle of the night is less than the number of people reading this blog right now.

Instead of lamenting that they couldn't "just call up the station" or reach the apparent single employee in the building who wasn't seeing the incoming phone call, local officials in Minot would have been better served activating sirens in the affected area - either fixed, or via their own police and fire vehicles.

Commercial broadcast receivers don't activate an alarm when an EAS alert is issued, and weather radios are few and far between in homes. If every Clear Channel-owned station in Minot had gone live with disaster coverage in the early morning hours, many would have slept right through it.

(This isn't to say they shouldn't have done so...they should have, in some form. But that the reality is that those who are not awake - can't listen to the radio, though those awake could have presumably awoken others.)

Anyway, we suggested at the time that officials in Minot and other areas, and local radio operators, would be well served by ensuring that public safety agencies had 24/7 phone/pager contact with managers at the stations - and that appears to be one prong of this Clear Channel plan.

We always applaud an increased commitment to link radio stations and their communities, so we're not going to throw brickbats at Clear Channel for this announcement.

And despite the criticism it gets, the company is no stranger to local public service or community commitment. Just within the scope of our coverage area, a high-profile Clear Channel hot AC outlet (WKDD/98.1 in the Akron/Canton area) raises large amounts of money for a local children's hospital each and every year.

But with a move towards imposing more media "localism" gaining steam in Washington, this could certainly be seen as a preemptive strike by the company...

DAVE AND JIMMY TWO: Presumably, WNCI/97.9 Columbus-based morning team "Dave & Jimmy" would be one example of a local show that parent Clear Channel will continue to grow in syndication.

For the moment, though, OMW hears that "Dave & Jimmy" are about to lose their second affiliate in two weeks.

As we reported, the show was recently dispatched from sister Clear Channel top 40 WDKF/94.5 "Channel 94-5" just down I-70 in Dayton, with the station now encouraging listeners via its website to "embrace a change" in morning drive.

We are not, for the moment, reporting details on the second affiliate loss. For one, we're listening to the web streaming audio of the affected station - and "Dave & Jimmy" are still airing there.

But we will say that the affiliate in question is NOT in Ohio...