Friday, May 29, 2009

RTN's Second Cleveland Market Affiliate

NORTH CANTON, OHIO --Well, technically, Image Video LPTV combo WIVM-LP 52 Canton/WIVN-LP 29 Newcomerstown/Dover/New Philadelphia and WIVX-LP 65/Loudonville is actually the first Retro Television Network affiliate in Northeast Ohio.

While waiting for the announced June 1st flip of Media-Com LPTV combo WAOH-LP 29 Akron/W35AX 35 Cleveland to RTN programming, OMW got word that the WIVM/WIVN/WIVX folks beat "The Cat" to the RTN switch.

The Canton-based stations launched the new RTN (RTV?) programming Friday afternoon at 1:30, and a drive down I-77 South with our Remote Viewing Equipped OMW Mobile confirmed the switch.

We're not sure how the move affects local programming on either "The CAT" or WIVM et al.

Earlier Friday, we saw the new RTN feed on WIVM and company relaying RTN's showing of "The Incredible Hulk", though the TitanTV schedule for WIVM had "The Royle Touch" (a locally produced painting show).

But just this 8 PM hour, WIVM cut from the RTN schedule to air the long-running local religious program "Plus or Minus 60" with Canton religious TV veteran Denny Hazen and his wife Marge.

We get the idea that there is a good deal of local flexibility built into the RTN schedule.

But we don't know if WIVM will continue to do a TV simulcast of talk WHBC/1480's morning drive show hosted by Fred Chenevey and Pam Cook. And we don't know if "The CAT", when the Kent-based LPTVers take RTN next week, will continue to air various local call-in shows in the early evening hours.

Yes, we mean you, Steve French, whenever you come back from your vacation... well deserved, we're sure, for being a prime factor in the number one ratings of that WNIR morning show with Stan What's-His-Name-The-Dirty-Joke-Guy, Jim The-Guy-Who's-Not-Steve and Maggie Who's-She-How-Did-A-Woman-Get-In-Here.


(We kid...we kid...)

At least from the WIVM side of this, we expect more answers coming soon...which we'll post here in our next update on the topic...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

ODTV: It's About The Timing

Here we are, just two weeks and one day away from the now-set-in-stone (we presume) digital TV transition date of June 12th.

And as we get closer, the timing gets clearer.

Read our full item, with significant updates about the digital transition in the Cleveland market, on our Ohio Digital TV blog...

A TV Thursday

We're in catch up mode again...


As noted below, The Retro Television Network, that treasure-trove of classic TV shows ("Magnum P.I", "The Incredible Hulk", The Rockford Files", etc.), will air in the Cleveland market starting Monday, June 1st on Media-Com LPTV combo WAOH-LP 29 Akron/W35AX Cleveland...known on air as "The CAT".

(For those who have forgotten, that stands for "The Cleveland-Akron Television Network".)

As it turns out, the Plain Dealer's Julie Washington had this announcement last week, as did the Beacon Journal's Rich Heldenfels. (We can't find Rich's "Heldenfiles" column which carried the announcement online, but we're told it appeared in the Dead Trees edition of the Beacon Journal last Saturday.)

The station is a sister to Media-Com's better known radio WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron" and sports-to-become-talk WJMP/1520 Kent/(Add Your Own Cities Here). OK, one better known property, as WJMP's listener base could probably fit into our living room.

Retro Television Network itself has gone through a few changes, including ownership - former now-bankrupt owner Equity Media Holdings ended up flipping it to a former company executive, who had to scramble when Equity dropped satellite distribution of RTN late last year.

The disruption didn't last long, and even new RTN affiliates like Cox NBC affiliate WTOV-DT 9.2 Steubenville were able to pick up with the network not long after.

Now, back to "The CAT".

Channels 29 and 35 have been running various LPTV-oriented networks like America One and the Urban America Television Network, with a smattering of low-budget local programming mixed in.

Among the list of shows, a Monday night sports talk show hosted by Akron Radio Icon, Broadcast Superstar, Future Hall of Famer and OMW reader Steve French, known in real life as morning co-host on WNIR's morning drive fun-fest with Stan Piatt, Jim Midock and Maggie Fuller.

We're pretty sure that he hasn't driven "Sportstalk with Steve French" to number one in the ratings, but that's obviously not his fault.

Even if 29/35 featured programming giving live gold bars away on the air, "The CAT" simulcast never be number one, and may not even show up in the ratings.

If you're lucky, you might get a decent watchable over-air signal out of 29 if you're near its Brimfield transmitter site in Portage County (co-located with WNIR), or out of 35 if you're near its antenna in the Parma antenna farm.

The signal reach for the stations are roughly equivalent to WJMP for 29, and to WVIZ-DT's temporary digital facility for 35. (Only the 10 kW WVIZ-DT signal is at least not snowy where it is received. Oh, and more on that later on ODTV.)

Here at the OMW World Headquarters near the "BatCave" somewhere in the former Adelphia Cleveland service area, our small antennas get a snowy, semi-viewable but listenable signal out of 35, and a slightly worse signal out of 29.

So, it's no surprise that probably the bulk of whatever viewership "The CAT" gets is via cable, where it is a long-time occupant of Time Warner Cable channel 14 in Akron, along with carriage in Macedonia (and we believe Kent) on TWC channel 29, and Cox Cleveland's digital channel 132, along with carriage on Wadsworth Cable channel 21.

We got that list from the "RTV Affiliates" map on the Retro TV website, where we noticed (along with many of our readers) that the network is now using the name "RTV" instead of "RTN".

Here at the OMW World Headquarters, the TWC system that was formerly the Adelphia Cuyahoga Valley system never picked up the 29/35 feed.

We're wondering - is this potentially more popular, and higher profile, programming enough to get "The CAT" clearance on TWC's Cleveland-based system? We'll assume that even a digital cable carriage would be preferable to the station, and its viewers, compared to no cable carriage at all.

And though "The CAT" does not have, and will likely never have, over-air digital coverage...a good place for it on the TWC Cleveland lineup would probably be next to WUAB-DT 43.2's "This TV", which at some point is scheduled for placement in the Time Warner Cable digital lineup...

TWC HDTV UPDATE: More and more of our readers have checked in confirming the addition of the latest wave of HDTV channels in Northeast Ohio's Time Warner system - including the addition of The Smithsonian Channel and Mav TV for HD Tier subscribers.

We're also hearing that apparently, Universal HD has migrated into that extra-cost tier...which will lose HDNet and HDNet Movies on the 31st due to Time Warner dumping those channels nationally. And despite the name similar to the name of his NBA Dallas Mavericks, "Mav TV" apparently has no connection to HDNet/HDNet Movies owner Mark Cuban.

At least one OMW reader in Brecksville tells us that they've gotten the new HD Tier duo of Smithsonian and Mav TV, but have not received the other channels that launched on May 26th...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

RTN To "The CAT"

Yes, we have heard that Retro Television Network has found a home in the Cleveland market...well, something of a home on Media-Com LPTV combo WAOH-LP 29/W35AX Cleveland "The CAT".

The station is, we believe, set to take the RTN programming June 1st.

We will have more details later tonight or tomorrow morning...and many comments...

WJMP Taking Off The Cleats

As it turns out, OMW hears that Media-Com Akron market sports daytimer WJMP/1520 Kent/Ravenna/Streetsboro/Parts-of-Stow/Akron-on-a-good day "Fox Sports Radio 1520" won't be changing sports radio network teams when Fox Sports Radio moves to Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 Akron "SportsRadio 1350" on June 8.

It'll be changing format leagues, as it were.

We've learned that instead of picking up the Sporting News Radio affiliation WARF is leaving behind, the "little brother" station of Media-Com's WNIR/100.1 "The Talk of Akron" will mimic its much bigger sibling and move to talk radio....but unlike WNIR, it will depend on a lineup of syndicated talk programming.

The WJMP schedule appears set, and the bulk of it will be provided by the Talk Radio Network folks:

6-9 AM: Mancow. Chicago-based Erich "Mancow" Muller has a dual radio life, and WJMP will be picking up his Talk Radio Network-syndicated morning show.

We haven't heard his morning show, syndicated through TRN's "FM" division, but we get the idea that his act in general is more reliably conservative/political vs. his "shock jock" days. Mancow has been a regular contributor to cable TV's Fox News Channel, though we don't know if he still appears there.

Mancow also hosts a local midday show on Chicago's WLS/890...and it was on that show that the host recently underwent a highly-publicized "waterboarding" simulation.

9 AM-Noon: Laura Ingraham. Another TRN product, who used to air locally on Salem talk WHK/1420 Cleveland and Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron. Salem and WHK dropped Ingraham in a contract dispute, replacing her on all of its stations with in-house product Mike Gallagher. (Who, oddly enough, runs late nights on WNIR!)

Noon-3 PM: Michael Savage (delayed from previous night). The third TRN host in a row, who also once aired on WHK and WHLO, but who was bounced from both stations - WHLO before, and WHK after - Savage got into hot water for autism-related remarks. As we reported here a while ago, Savage's show aired 7-9 PM live for a few days on WNIR as vacation fill-in for local evening host Tom Erickson.

3-6 PM: Lou Dobbs. The sole non-TRN host on WJMP's new weekday schedule. The CNN host casts himself as a fierce "independent". His radio show is syndicated by United Stations.

6-9 PM: Michael Savage (live). Is six hours of "The Savage Nation" too much for one listener? We'll find out in the summer. In the heart of winter, WJMP will sign off before Savage's live show starts, so listeners will hear him the following weekday in that above 12-3 PM time slot.

(For that matter, later sign-on times in the winter will take a chunk out of the morning drive "Mancow" time slot.)

Weekends: Aside from a Lou Dobbs replay Saturday from 8-11 AM, and carriage of Citadel veteran financial advice talker Bob Brinker live 4-7 PM Saturday and Sunday, the rest of the WJMP weekend lineup will come from the WOR Radio Network (shows about travel, pets, car repair, etc.).

As far as we know, the station will not have any local programming, which considering WNIR's schedule, makes sense. But the new WJMP lineup has ties to existing syndicated programming in off-hours on otherwise-locally programmed WNIR.

WNIR carries Laura Ingraham on delay weekend nights 10 AM-midnight, after local host Bob Earley's "Earley in the Evening" show.

And before local talker Tom Erickson launched his Saturday 4-7 PM show (and "The Advice Line" with Bob Lewis took that Sunday slot), WNIR used to run Bob Brinker's ABC Radio "MoneyTalk" show. Same show, same host, just an ownership and now-name change to Citadel Media.

We don't know when the format flip will be made at WJMP. We'd assume that it will happen June 8, when FSR and Premiere's Jim Rome go to "SportsRadio 1350", but we could be wrong...we thought they'd pick up Sporting News Radio, and they won't be...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time Warner's May HDTV Channel Wave

The latest group of new HDTV channels has arrived in most local Time Warner Cable service areas in Northeast Ohio.

OMW readers report that the HD versions of the Golf Channel. CNN, FX, Fox News Channel, and Science Channel have shown up as of earlier today. Digital Basic subscribers should also have the HD version of the National Geographic Channel.

By tomorrow, HD Tier subscribers should see the history-oriented Smithsonian Channel, and Mav TV.

To the best of our understanding, the channels are available to Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio subscribers in all areas that have already seen Switched Digital Video turned on. If that's not you, you probably also don't have the channels that had been promised for late April...which are also now available in the SDV areas.

We wish we could pinpoint all the areas with and without SDV.

Generally, the Akron/Canton/Youngstown area "legacy" TWC systems seem to have the new technology, and much of the Cleveland-based former Adelphia systems also seem to have converted, including the one which serves OMW World Headquarters next to the Bat Cave. (We are getting all the new channels, including the ones released earlier today.)

We'd say the former Adelphia/Western Reserve Cable system out of Macedonia doesn't appear to have SDV "turned on" yet, but we can't be 100% sure. Other readers in areas like Conneaut and Bainbridge also appear to be without SDV and the two most recent HD channel groups.

But OMW hears that some of that open up the SDV system and let the HD channels flow...could be done by the end of this coming week.

The addition of Smithsonian Channel and Mav TV to the HD Tier comes just days before two stalwarts in that extra cost tier go away.

Multichannel News and many other sources report that HDNet and HDNet Movies, the all-HD services operated by NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, will exit Time Warner Cable lineups nationwide on May 31st.

Quoting national TWC spokeswoman Robyn Watson in the article:

"There's a limited appeal for the programming. In a world with more than 100 HD channels, being in HD is not enough. We are adding other channels in HD to give our customers more choice."

Cuban disputes that contention, and says his viewers shop providers just to get the two channels. ("Drop me, and they'll go to satellite"?)

But it's pretty clear that while Cuban's two channels do offer some unique programming, they were much more vital to cable providers when there were only four or five other HD channels available...and most of them not 24/7 HD operations...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Supersized Memorial Day Weekend Update

We've been accumulating a Supersized Pile of Items here at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), and it's time to reduce the pile. The holiday weekend is as "good a time as any" to do so.

And on behalf of the entire editorial staff of Ohio Media Watch, we mark the holiday to honor those who served and gave their lives for us...

WHO'S #1?: Regular OMW readers know that we don't spend a lot of time in ratings land, for either TV or radio stations.

The reason is simple: We don't have the unvarnished data, and ratings can be twisted, turned, folded, spindled and mutilated to make just about any station "look good".

So, we're mostly curious observers to the latest TV ratings battle in Cleveland, the battle for ratings supremacy for 11 PM newscasts.

Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 claimed #1 status for "Channel 3 News" in three news time slots in the most recently released ratings - at 6 PM, at 7 PM and 11 PM.

Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5's "NewsChannel 5" is crowing about reaching the top of the 11 PM pile.


From each side...first, from Channel 3, and "Director's Cut" blogger Frank Macek's item, complete with a "Thank You" video from anchor Romona Robinson:

WKYC sweeps up with a nice win in HH's (households), adults 18+ and adults 25-54 - the key demos at 6 & 11 PM and #1 adults 25-54 and adults 18-49 at 7 PM - a claim no one else in town can make (even though they may try to fool you).


As for the other side of this dispute, "NewsChannel 5" has posted a video promo on its website, claiming to be the "NEW number one newscast at 11 PM", and from a station press release:

WEWS Channel 5 has captured several major victories during the just completed May ratings period, including finishing No. during the 11 p.m. news race. NewsChannel5 at 11 p.m. was first with women 25-54 (3.8 rating/11.3 share) and was the only late newscast to grow their audience from the previous ratings period.


We assume that's a missing "1" after "No." up there. And we also assume that Channel 5 wouldn't make the "NEW number one newscast at 11 PM" claim solely based on its rating among women 25-54.

Which goes to why we don't spend a lot of time dealing with the minutae of ratings reports.

Traditionally, in "We're Both #1!" battles like this, one station picks up a slightly different set of data than the others, if it's not indeed a statistical tie. For one, one station may include its weekend news ratings in the overall claim...while another may stick with Monday through Friday ratings...

WHILE WE'RE AT 13TH AND LAKESIDE: We haven't yet shared news from last week, when WVPX/23 Akron parent ION Media Networks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

We didn't have much to say about it, because for now, it appears the ION folks will continue to operate as per usual, including picking up new entertainment programming. This is from the ION press release:

The company also confirmed that it is in active discussions for the acquisition of further content for the 2009/10 television season, including both off-network syndicated content as well as opportunistic original productions, which it anticipates announcing in coming weeks.

ION can apparently do so because some of its senior lenders are chipping in another $25 million in its restructuring process, to keep the network going.

We found that release quoted on Frank Macek's "Director's Cut" blog, which is significant for one reason...we found out from Frank's item that WVPX never actually left 13th and Lakeside after the former-PAX TV and WKYC-owner Gannett split ways:

Although TV23's transmitter is located in Akron, all of its local operations are based at the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center here in Cleveland, where it rents space.

The WKYC Digital Broadcast Center also, in addition to its own operations, is the technical and studio home of regional sports network SportsTime Ohio...

AND WHILE WE'RE AT 30TH AND EUCLID: It's become an Internet Viral Video sensation, and the folks at WEWS are helping to fuel the flames.

While the station's anchors were getting ready to close out the 11 PM edition of "NewsChannel 5" on Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers were closing out Game 2 of their NBA Eastern Conference Finals series with the Orlando Magic.

The "NewsChannel 5" folks were lamenting a late shot by the Magic that looked like the end of the game for the hometown team...and then, THIS happened:

The video is from the YouTube page of ESPN, which featured the video on "SportsCenter". WEWS also offered it on and on YouTube.

With a 10 point Cavaliers loss in Game 3 against the Magic, we'll assume that "NewsChannel 5" anchors were not nearly as animated on Sunday night...

BISHOP OUT: OMW hears that D.A. Peterson standards WDPN/1310 Alliance has parted ways with veteran news director Bob Bishop.

We hear Bishop "left the building" on Thursday of last week.

We don't know at this time if his departure was budget-related, or for some other reason...

THE "SAW IS BACK: Regular OMW readers know that one of our hobbies is tracking former local sportscaster Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton.

"Hacksaw" was heard in the 1970's doing an evening sports talk show on then-Susquehanna talk WHLO/640 Akron (now owned by Clear Channel), and radio work for the World Hockey Association's Cleveland Crusaders, heard on then-WWWE/1100 "3WE" in Cleveland (now Clear Channel talk WTAM).

Now, Hamilton has picked up another gig that may land him on some local radio stations this fall.

He's been signed to do play-by-play for Compass Media Networks' new package of syndicated Sunday afternoon NFL games.

Hamilton will be joined by former NFL player Curtis Conway doing commentary. Quoting AllAccess:

HAMILTON and CONWAY will split duties calling SUNDAY afternoon NFL games with the previously announced duo of CHRIS CARRINO -- longtime voice of NEW JERSEY NETS -- and former NFL player and NFL NETWORK analyst BRIAN BALDINGER.

And quoting Hacksaw:

"The world stops at 1p on SUNDAY afternoons for NFL football," HACKSAW said. "It means so much to the fans across AMERICA. We will put a special signature on our NFL broadcasts. I am glad to join COMPASS MEDIA NETWORKS. Starting something brand new is so very exciting."

Hacksaw is no stranger to local radio NFL play-by-play...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

WEEKEND SPECIAL: Ted Henry's Goodbye

UPDATE 5/23/09 2:21 PM: OMW reader "Brad" notes that WEWS has posted a much better quality version on its YouTube page, which we've embedded below. (We didn't even realize Channel 5 HAD a YouTube page.)

Despite the availability of an "HD" version, the video appears to be 4:3 SD with its own online "sidebars". Still, it's much more viewable than the tiny, low-bandwidth version on NewsNet5.

The "Related Video" page shows a number of user-submitted video of various parts of Ted Henry's last day.

Here's the video. Use the link above if the embedding doesn't work for you...and for the online video impaired, we still offer our transcript below:


After writing about it earlier in the week, we feel chagrined that we actually missed the final sign-off of veteran Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5" anchor Ted Henry on Wednesday night's 11 PM broadcast.

The error was technical on our part...a missed remote control press while setting up our TiVo netted us a recording of the Thursday night 11 PM show instead. (In case you're curious, Leon Bibb was the first anchor in the post-Ted Henry rotation.)

But like everything in 2009, video of Ted's exit is available online, via the station's NewsNet5 website. Well, it looks and sounds like the right one, as for whatever reason, the video is just 56 kbps (!), making it roughly postage stamp-sized.

It looked like the regular "NewsChannel 5" evening crew was on set - Henry, co-anchor Danita Harris, Andy Baskin with sports, and Mark Johnson on weather. Or, some very tiny people who looked like Harris, Baskin and Johnson. (Memo to WEWS site provider Internet Broadcasting Systems: It's 2009, look into better quality video!)

You can view it yourself via the link above (bring a magnifying glass!), and you can read our transcript below:


(The segment opens with a "Catch 5" promo from the station's "Eyewitness News" days.)

TED HENRY: Well, here goes...nothin'.

Years ago, my Dad wanted me to take over the family hardware store in Hartville. But my heart...told me to follow another calling. And for the last 40 plus years, I've been following my heart.

And so, it is with very conflicted emotions that I say goodbye to a most rewarding career.

A simple thank you doesn't really suffice, but it's all the time they're gonna give me. (brief laughter from studio)

Thanks to the people of the E.W. Scripps Company...major, big league thanks...who have maintainted their confidence in me for 38 years.

Thanks to my co-workers here at WEWS, whom I dearly love.

Thanks to my wife, Jody, for her constant love and support.

But most of all, my enduring, most heartfelt thanks is to you...for your steady presence for allowing me to report nightly from this desk (knocks), And it is greatly appreciated.

Tomorrow, I set out to begin the next level of my life...goodness knows what that's going to be...something tells me that will be a bit of an adventure.

And so I leave you now, to begin that different, yet challenging path.

But I will never forget you. I will never forget you.

DANITA HARRIS: And we will never forget you.


His "NewsChannel 5" colleagues then thanked Ted, and gave him his "favorite food in the world" - Costco chicken.


TED HENRY (to those on set): I learned a new word in the last half century...the significance and deeper heartfelt meaning of the word of love, and I feel that for you....thank you very much...goodbye, and goodnight.


WEWS will air a half-hour long special devoted to Henry's career - "Good Evening, I'm Ted Henry" - two times next week...Tuesday at 8 PM, and Friday at 12:30 PM.

Yes, we've made sure that our TiVo is going to record the right show...

Friday, May 22, 2009

WKDD Heading To Bellaire Lane

Clear Channel Akron market hot AC WKDD/98.1 is about ready to return, physically, to the Akron market.

The once-Canton licensed facility, now licensed to the Akron suburb of Munroe Falls, got FCC approval this week to locate its transmitter facility at Bellaire Lane in Cuyahoga the very same spot WKDD occupied for many years with its original 96.5 antenna.

If you're a regular OMW reader, you know "the rest of the story", as a certain late iconic radio news commentator would have said.

In the Great Cleveland Frequency Swap of 2001, Clear Channel moved WKDD/96.5's transmitter site north into Brecksville - pairing it with the WAKS "Kiss FM" top 40 format which had resided on 104.9/Lorain (now classical WCLV).

The WKDD format and intellectual property ended up on the 98.1/Canton facility (formerly religious WHK-FM, acquired from Salem). Clear Channel then nudged 98.1's site north into Hartville after the original signal (near Louisville) ended up doing a poor job of penetrating Akron office buildings.

The Munroe Falls COL for WKDD allowed it - with some squeezing, engineering wise - to physically move one more time to the Bellaire Lane facility WKDD once occupied as 96.5. (And we mean some squeezing...98.1 is squeezed to within an inch of its electronic life between Rubber City Radio rock WONE/97.5 Akron and CBS Radio classic rock WNCX/98.5 Cleveland.)

The approval of the 98.1 move being so recent, OMW hasn't yet heard when the folks at Clear Channel World Domination HQ Southern Command on Freedom Avenue intend to make it official.

But our long-time friend, colleague and World Champion Tower Hunter Scott Fybush at NorthEast Radio Watch estimates that typically. a move like this should take about a couple of months.

Though Clear Channel had to file for some modifications to it earlier this year, 98.1 will land on the already existing tower that was built somewhere around 1976 to hold the antenna of WKDD's historic frequency, 96.5...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

DTV Season Into High Gear

Like the upcoming Memorial Day weekend usually signals the start of the mythical Summer Driving Season, today apparently signals the start of the Official DTV Transition - We're Serious About This, We're Really Going To Do This Now - Season...with the June 12th transition date just weeks away.

Local TV stations in Northeast Ohio are indeed joining along with a nationwide DTV "soft test", interrupting their analog signals three times today to urge viewers to, well, make their own transition.

More in our Ohio Digital TV blog...

Rover Loses A Kennel

UPDATE 5/21/09 11:40 AM: Our friends at AllAccess confirm the flip of Rover's now former Memphis affiliate from alt-rock to sports as "ESPN 92.9", now simulcasting Entercom sister station WSMB/680.

The station's former website now takes visitors to a splash screen for the new format, then to the existing "ESPN 680" website.

Our original item is below...


When Shane "Rover" French brought his doghouse over to Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7 in Cleveland, he also kept his ties to two of his syndicated show - Rochester alt-rock WZNE/94.1 "The Zone" and Memphis alt-rock WMFS/92.9 "93X".

Scratch that last one off the "Rover's Morning Glory" list, apparently.

An OMW reader/Rover listener tipped us off that Rover actually talked on-air this morning about losing "93X" in a format change. And sure enough, Mr. French has details on his site:


Last night I got word that 93X, our station in Memphis, was flipping from Alternative Rock to ESPN Sports.

They’ll be simulcasting an AM station that runs ESPN sports (that has a 0.4 share in Memphis, the equivalent of not even having the transmitter on). Unfortunately due to rules with when simulcasting two stations, they have to run the same programming on the FM and AM stations 24 hours a day – otherwise they would have been interested in running our show with the rest of the day sports programming.


We're not so sure those "rules" involve the FCC, though we don't have the rules regarding simulcasts committed to memory.

Rover's problem may be with The Worldwide Leader In Sports.

Those who've followed affiliation switches to ESPN Radio know that the folks in Bristol hope to clear a certain amount of programming when they bring a station aboard - most notably, the network's morning drive show, "Mike and Mike in the Morning".

We're guessing ESPN Radio is holding the cards here, wanting to put "Mike and Mike" on the new FM signal in its new deal with Entercom in Memphis.

Anyway, be it FCC rules or ESPN Radio causing him to lose an affiliate, Rover is trying to push his Memphis listeners into action: telling them to "call Entercom Memphis and tell them to put Rover’s Morning Glory back on in the mornings", or to call a Clear Channel-owned Memphis rock station ("Rock 103") and ask them to pick up the show.

That last part leads us to a question.

With Clear Channel distributing some of its local personalities nationwide via the new "Premium Choice" program, and various morning shows getting more national distribution because of it (including Columbus' "Dave and Jimmy"), could Rover rekindle his syndication that way?

Remember, Mr. French and company brought both the Memphis and Rochester affiliates from the show's former deal with CBS Radio - even after Rover's show decamped back to CBS' WKRK/92.3 "K-Rock" locally after exiting Chicago. Both affiliate stations were once owned by CBS, and Rover built up enough of a base that they patiently followed "RMG" in its move to another company in Cleveland.

We believe - for now - that Rover may handle his show's syndication in a separate deal from his local deal with Clear Channel's WMMS. But since coming over to Oak Tree, Rover hasn't gained any new affiliates...and we assume at least some of that was because of concentrating on building the show's base at its new Cleveland home.

Off the top of our head, we don't know how many alt-rockers Clear Channel has, or other rock stations with compatible formats that would be interested in taking Rover. And "Premium Choice" is solely within the Clear Channel universe.

The station Rover mentions in Memphis is classic rock WEGR/102.7 "Rock 103", which, according to its website, carries local morning show "Bad Dog and Ric". Though Rover's show has been most at home on alt-rockers, we presume he'll try to grab other even semi-compatible format stations wherever possible...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Our Apologies To Leon Bibb

In one of our earlier items surrounding the retirement of Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5" anchor Ted Henry, which starts after tonight's 11 PM newscast, we said Henry was one of the last iconic Cleveland TV news names left.

We mentioned his former co-anchor at WEWS, Wilma Smith, who is now doing a single nightly newscast over at Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 "Fox 8", and long-time WJW meteorologist Dick Goddard.

We mentioned, as an aside, "Fox 8"'s Robin Swoboda, back on the airwaves there as host of the "That's Life" mid-morning talk show, known for her long stint as a news anchor at Channel 8 - when it was a CBS affiliate and the newscasts were called "NewsCenter 8". And...we mentioned veteran WEWS anchor Leon Bibb as an aside, briefly.

We got a little heat for that brief treatment from a couple of Bibb's fans, and we just wanted to know that we did not mean to be dismissive.

When we were writing the previous item, we had something in mind.

Henry has occupied the very same chair at the very same station since he was elevated to evening co-anchor at WEWS in the mid-1970's. If you "Caught 5" any evening between 1976 and 2009, Ted Henry was the face you saw staring back at you through the TV.

Wilma Smith co-anchored with Henry for over 17 years at WEWS, before eventually moving to an evening anchor job at WJW.

To this day, when we see Wilma over at "Fox 8", we close our eyes and see her over at WEWS in the station's "Eyewitness News" days...with the booming voice of voiceover legend and Cleveland icon Ernie Anderson intoning in our head... "TV 5 Eyeeeeeewitnesss News...with Ted Henry! Wilma Smith! And the TV 5 Eyeeeeeewitness News team!"

Fox 8's Dick Goddard, of course, forecast the very first lake effect snow event in Cleveland weather history. OK, maybe not the first. (In case Mr. Goddard is reading, we're gently teasing him.)

Like Henry, Goddard has been in the very same spot at his TV home - South Marginal Road (and WJW's downtown predecessor studio) - for decades...even as the station changed ownership and networks to the younger-skewing Fox network, and went from "NewsCenter 8" to "Eight is News" to whatever else before becoming today's "Fox 8 News".

Then, there's Leon Bibb, who deserves more notice here.

Forgetting the whole "lengthy time as evening 6/11 PM anchor" thing. - a role Bibb had in the 1970's and 1980's at NBC affiliate WKYC/3 - he's indeed a fixture as far as being one of "Cleveland's Own" on borrow a slogan from WJW.

He's displayed a wide range of journalistic talents, and flexibility, over the years. (Take a look at Bibb's NewsChannel 5 bio for a taste.)

And Leon Bibb is perhaps the most literate and creative (and poetic!) of Cleveland's TV news anchors and reporters.

We always wondered why Leon Bibb didn't land as a "primary" anchor after his stint at WKYC. So, here are some reasons why.

After he left Channel 3, Channel 5 installed him as the regular weekend co-anchor, and later moved him to his current post co-anchoring "Live on 5" weekdays at 5 PM.

Perhaps it was just the lay of the land in Cleveland TV back then, with Ted Henry cemented into the weeknight co-anchor slot when Leon Bibb moved to WEWS. WKYC, at the time, was mired in third place...and a perennial third place station doesn't stick with its current talent for long, even if the anchors are not at all responsible for that dismal showing.

It eventually took WJW's shift from CBS to Fox in the mid-1990s to shake up the local news ratings, and to give WKYC a shot at getting out of the ratings basement. And it was nice of the folks at WKYC to fix up the basement when they left, so Raycom CBS affiilate WOIO/19 could enjoy the surroundings.

But yes, we're fans of Leon Bibb here at the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

And when he does eventually retire, it'll be a big loss to the Cleveland TV community...

WMJI Dumps Majic - For A Reason

Not yet having listened to, or visited the website of, Clear Channel classic hits WMJI/105.7 in Cleveland, our first word came from a press release from the station, with the E-mail subject:

"WMJI Is No Longer Majic"


The station had long since dumped "oldies" from "Majic Oldies", as the "o word" became less relevant due to younger music positioning. What would the station call itself? "WMJi 105.7"? Something else? Would it lead to on-air changes?

Nope, just a temporary name change.

Try "Cavs 105.7".

OK, you got us to think for a while, WMJI.

You see, the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers are playing Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the Orlando team nickname is "the Magic", and a Cleveland station certainly doesn't want to align with that during this heated playoff series. We get it! We get it!

Oh, anyway, a quote from the release:


“WMJI will NOT lend any credibility to the nickname of our hated rival in this round of the playoffs,” said Keith Abrams, Program Director for WMJI. He continued, “Until the Cavs do away with Orlando, as they most certainly will, our radio station will remain a ‘Majic free zone’.We will now be known as CAVS 105.7 in support of our Cleveland Cavaliers!”

Not only does the boycott include changing the name of the station, it also includes removing references to the 'm' word in songs that play on the station.


"Magic" (whatever the spelling) is a popular word used in oldies, er, classic hits songs, so that'll probably affect 105.7's playlist for the next couple of weeks...if anyone notices.

But as far as we can tell, the temporary "CAVS 105.7" name change doesn't extend to the actual games being heard on WMJI.

That honor stays elsewhere in the building at Oak Tree, with "Cavs mothership" talk WTAM/1100 carrying the contests...without simulcast from the newly-temporarily-minted "CAVS 105.7".

If the Cavaliers beat Orlando, we're pretty sure Northeast Ohio doesn't have any "Lakers" or "Nuggets" radio-station-name-wise...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

WKYC/WVIZ Tower Nearly Done

It's now three weeks from what appears to be the final digital TV transition date, June 12th, when all full-power analog signals in the United States will sign off for good.

And work on one new local digital TV transmission tower appears to be up to speed.

Check out the pictures, and more, here on our Ohio Digital TV sister site...

Speaking Of Sports Radio

With apologies to the estate of the late Howard Cosell...

FOXY MOVE: As OMW reported earlier, Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 Akron is readying to make its network switch.

On June 8th, "SportsRadio 1350" will leave Sporting News Radio behind, and become the Akron market's affiliate of Fox Sports Radio...taking the affiliation from Media-Com rimshot daytime lightbulb signal outlet WJMP/1520 Kent/Akron/Ravenna/Streetsboro/Chicago. (OK, so maybe they don't claim Chicago.)

OMW had heard earlier that WJMP would take the Sporting News Radio affiliation that WARF is leaving behind, but we haven't confirmed that at this time. We'd expect it, but who knows?

1520 could return to replaying audio from co-owned LPTV duo WAOH-LP/29 Akron-W35AX Cleveland, otherwise known as "The Cat". It could play standards, oldies, Klezmer music, polka, bird noises...well, you get the idea. We'd still expect SNR to make the move to the Kent station, though.

As we heard promoted on "SportsRadio 1350" the other day, WARF is also adding Premiere's Jim Rome in the switch. WJMP has been airing Romey in addition to Fox Sports Radio. Though FSR is also a unit of Premiere, Rome is not included in the FSR network feed...which replays morning driver Steve Czaban for the few FSR affiliates that don't pick up Rome separately.

1350 is also hanging onto two sports talk names syndicated by The Content Factory - middayer Dan Patrick and late night host (and 1350 staple) Tony Bruno. Patrick would continue to air on WARF no matter what, since his show is now also being broadcast via Fox Sports Radio's network feed (which also puts the ex-ESPNer on 1520, until June 8th)...

NO TIRICO: ESPN Radio has announced that Mike Tirico is leaving his midday show with the network's Scott Van Pelt, due to the demands of his schedule elsewhere within the Worldwide Leader's Bristol CT complex.

Though Tirico will mount a two-hour Friday radio show on college football, he'll otherwise step down from weekday radio, leaving Van Pelt to host his own program.

"Tirico and Van Pelt" airs locally on Good Karma's WWGK/1540 "KNR2", the Little Brother to "ESPN 850 WKNR", and on Massillon's WTIG/990 "ESPN 990".

Speaking of WWGK, we hear that the station's attempt to move its transmitter facility to co-locate at the WKNR site in North Royalton - and increase its daytime-only power to 3000 watts - is not dead in the water after all...despite local zoning issues in the Cleveland suburb.

We don't get the idea that any agreement is imminent, and WWGK does have the rest of its three year window to build out the CP, which expires in August 2011. But we hear the station is trying to come to an amicable resolution with North Royalton city officials to make the move possible...

Changing World Of TV News

A day before Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5's "NewsChannel 5" says goodbye to its most visible face, this is a good time to talk about the changing environment in local TV news "after Ted Henry".

By our reckoning, after Mr. Henry says his final words on Wednesday night's 11 PM newscast, there will be just two of his generation of Cleveland TV news left: his former co-anchor Wilma Smith, now down to a single nightly newscast at Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 "Fox 8", and Wilma's WJW co-hort Dick Goddard, who's been doing the weather on Channel 8 since before many of its viewers were born.

That's it, basically...Dick and Wilma. Their "generation" has been seen in Northeast Ohio's local living rooms for decades.

The group was once formidable: those who were so established locally, they felt like friends. In an insular market like Cleveland, local ties and longevity are important.

But as time moved on, retirement came in for names like Ted Henry...and like Tim Taylor, who recently stepped down from his role alongside Ms. Smith at WJW. On the entertainment side of local TV, "Big Chuck" Schodowski called it a career. The bridge from the mid-to-late 1970's into the 21st Century is getting close to being gone.

Oh, there are still some who cross a divide of more than a couple of decades. WEWS' "Live On Five" co-anchor Leon Bibb comes to mind. Or, maybe Robin Swoboda at "Fox 8", though her presence hasn't really been as continuous (and she's doing the talk/entertainment show "That's Life" today).

How important is the "Big Name Anchor" in 2009?

To most broadcasters, well, not very.

Consider this TVNewsday interview ("Raycom Success Strategy: 3 Screens, 24/7") with Raycom Media VP of News Susana Schuler, responsible for overseeing dozens of local news operations for the company - including, of course, "19 Action News" - the newsroom of CBS affiliate WOIO/19-MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB/43 in the Cleveland market:


Our goal has been to try to put more energy, effort and resources into 24-hour content dissemination on all our platforms. To do that, we need to have more people in every station that are able to do more things than perhaps they had been encouraged or trained to do in the past.

It's been almost two years now since we started down this road. We always have had a good understanding that this was an important place to be, but we weren't structured in a way that allowed us to gather news and information 24 hours a day and pick the platform for dissemination depending on the particular time of day.

We call it our three-screen strategy. We want to be the local information provider over the air, on the Internet and on the mobile device.


Not a word there, of course, about the high-profile local anchor who becomes the face of the station. But the anchors do get mentioned:


If you now have three skill sets, you are probably going to need six and you're going to be utilizing those skill sets with some regularity to do your job every day. We're probably asking everybody to double the number of skills that they have.

Do I think every reporter needs to shoot? Absolutely. Do they need to do that every day? That's not up to me. It's up to the local managers. Do I think every anchor needs to report? Absolutely. Do most of our managers? I suspect they do, but that's not my call.


These words are no surprise to anyone in a TV newsroom in 2009. The highly-paid anchor with the cushy job and the over-six-figure salary who never leaves the news set? That seems destined to be consigned to the era of fictional TV news anchor Ron Burgundy.

So, what does Raycom consider the role of today's news anchors? Back to Susana Schuler:


Anchors need to be leaders in our newsrooms — what (AR&D's) Jerry (Gumbert) calls chief journalists. As I said earlier, every anchor should be reporting. It keeps them connected to their communities. It gets them engaged in what their audience is interested in. Being a reporter was the most fun I ever had. It was being out in the field connecting with the audience.

So, the anchor role is evolving. Their connection to a community, to the audience, remains critical, but their role in the future has to go way beyond their performance in a newscast. I would hope that the journalists and news anchors that work for us understand that. I feel they do. I feel they have embraced what we have been asking them to do, some better than others. Why wouldn't you want to be more connected, more relevant, more engaged, more valuable moving forward?


Schuler also talks about the company's employees being more involved in online media, social networking and blogs, spreading their personality brand outside the realm of the TV studio.

That may be one reason why many "19 Action News'" Twitter updates will include the anchor or reporter introducing themselves. "Denise Dufala here", "Paul Joncich here" "David Wittman here", etc., many of 'em with quick takes on hot button issues...or pokes at NBA TV analyst Charles Barkley, recently.

All of this ties back into the situation at 3001 Euclid, where Replacing Ted Henry will be the focus in the next few weeks or months.

We're hearing again that WEWS will turn to a rotation of fill-in anchors to sit next to Danita Harris on the evening editions of "NewsChannel 5". Expect names like Duane Pohlman and John Kosich, among other existing station newspeople, to start showing up after Wednesday.

Station insiders tell us that they expect this to continue through the summer and perhaps into the fall, before a final decision is made...and expect it's "even money" that the hire will be internal, vs. someone from outside the station.

Does that preclude WEWS VP Viki Regan dialing up Wyoming and reaching out to former WKYC/3 anchor Tim White?

Well, as we mentioned, we're not hearing anything about that possibility, one way or the other.

But what may have been a nearly-automatic move for a TV station executive like Ms. Regan a few years ago, may not be nearly so automatic now.

And certainly, the above reality - and cost pressures - of modern TV news would tend to work against paying big money to lure a high-profile former competing anchor to "come back" to compete with his old station.

And in 2009, it's just as likely that WEWS will move one of its existing news people into the anchor chair...and focus on continuing to build its online presence instead of "landing the big fish" anchor-wise, be it Tim White or anyone else...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hey, Is Someone Retiring This Week

In case you're reading OMW from underneath a rock, a reminder...Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 is saying goodbye this week to one of the few remaining news anchor icons in the Cleveland market.

You can be forgiven if you get a sense of "deja vu" this week while watching the station pay tribute to long-time "NewsChannel 5" anchor Ted Henry...who exits the anchor chair after the 11 PM newscast on Tuesday.

After all, the station celebrated his 35th anniversary a few years ago with various clips and retrospectives of Henry's time at 3001 Euclid. Perhaps, at the time, they knew he would be retiring soon.

With Ted Henry's exit nearly here, he got the full treatment over the weekend from two local newspaper writers who cover television.

Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington has her take here, and Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels has his take here.

Both have a taste of Ted's first taste of broadcasting - producing radio commercials for his father's Hartville hardware store, which aired on then-religious WTOF in Canton, his hometown.

It wasn't a good fit, admits Henry...the station was small, and had little audience, and potential customers of his father's hardware store were mostly Amish, and didn't own radios.

Oh, and Ted Henry was just 16 years-old, and hadn't found his broadcasting voice, to put it mildly.

We wonder...did Ted's father even remotely imagine that his son would be one of the biggest names in Northeast Ohio broadcasting one day?

From Canton, Ted went to Akron's WAKR, to Youngstown, then WEWS, where did weekend weather and newscast producing in 1972 before becoming evening co-anchor in 1975. Until...Wednesday.

Oh, and a stint in the Peace Corps was in there as well.

Some scattered interesting observations here...our time schedule is a bit more compressed than we'd expected this afternoon, so we'll just put up random quotes from the two articles:

(Heldenfels:) As for anchoring somewhere other than Northeast Ohio, Henry said there were opportunities but this was his home — ''and I saw some really good people leave Cleveland — and die on the vine.

(Washington:) "The smartest thing I ever did is never try to leave Cleveland," said Henry, who co-anchors with Danita Harris.


(Washington:) It's doubtful that, because of changes in the way local television works, Henry's replacement will have an opportunity to stay at one station as long as he did.

(Heldenfels:) Asked whom he would like to succeed him, he said, ''The business is changing so quickly now, I frankly don't know what type of individual would be the most likely to succeed. . . . [Former Channel 5 executive] Don Perris told me before he retired — this was back in the mid-'80s — that the day was coming quickly when there would be two or one TV stations in Northeast Ohio doing news. He was off by a couple decades, but it's coming.''

Henry believes Channel 5 will be the last one standing. But even as Henry looks toward a new chapter in life, he still remembers the love he has for broadcasting.


We'll have a lot more to say about that last part, later.

But no, to quote Julie Washington, we're not a "local media watcher" speculating that WEWS will reach out to former WKYC/3 anchor Tim White, now living in Cody, Wyoming. We haven't heard any rumblings from 3001 Euclid that would suggest if WEWS' Viki Regan is interested in that move, she's not telling anyone who has contact with us.

For the nonce, the plan is still apparently to use a variety of co-anchors alongside Danita Harris.

After he's said goodbye, and after the latest ratings "sweeps" period ends, WEWS will pay tribute to Henry in an hour-long special...set to air May 26th...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Canton Digital TV Help This Weekend

Passing this along from WKYC/3 senior director Frank Macek's "Director's Cut" blog:

Do you still need help with the DTV transition?

A mobile assistance center will be in Northeast Ohio this weekend to help consumers. The switch to digital television takes place June 12.

The mobile assistance centers will be in Canton this weekend. The staff can demonstrate how to hook up a converter box to an analog TV and to help you apply for a $40 converter box coupon.

Saturday May 16 & Sunday May 17

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
5th Avenue Flea Market
3800 Harmont Ave. NE
Canton, Ohio

Radio News Changes, Part 2

And now, your second news item related to radio news changes.

This time, it's a veteran reporter who is leaving his Toledo station to pursue...politics.

OMW hears that Clear Channel talk WSPD/1370 morning anchor/reporter Kevin Milliken leaves the station today, and is announcing a run for a seat on Toledo City Council.

Aaron Brilbeck will move into the WSPD morning drive news shift. He joins Nik Rajkovic in the station's newsroom, along with recorded newscasts shipped up the Clear Channel computer network from Cincinnati....complete with the requisite local misprounciations you've come to expect from "remote anchors".

After a reporting stint at Barrington Broadcasting NBC affiliate WNWO/24 "NBC 24", Milliken originally joined WSPD to take over the nightly "Eye on Toledo" program, after previous host Bob Frantz moved to sister talk WTAM/1100 in Cleveland.

Milliken then moved into morning drive news after the departure of former news director Tom Watkins.

Brilbeck is also a former "NBC 24" reporter.

To wrap up how it all turned out - Watkins then hosted the morning "Toledo Today" show on Cumulus talk WTOD/1560 "SuperTalk 1560", until he left that show in recent Cumulus budget cuts. (Watkins rather pointedly noted that Cumulus wanted him to do the show for minimum wage, the pay it offered all part-time employees in that round of cuts.)

"Eye on Toledo" is now hosted by a known local political name in Toledo - Maggie Thurber.

And of course, Clear Channel Toledo market manager Andy Stuart is one of the more prominent names in the effort to recall Toledo mayor Carty Finkbeiner....

TWC HDTV Request

OMW would like to know if any readers are still experiencing various glitches related to the rollout of new HD channels in Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio footprint.

This request is only for those in areas which have already received the most recent set of channels released to areas with Switched Digital Video (SDV) activated, who have seen such issues as channel breakup or audio with no video.

Please tell us where you live (city/community), and which part of the TWC system you are in...legacy TWC (Akron/Canton/Youngstown/Warren, etc.), former Adelphia or former Comcast.

If you're in a TWC area and without the channels originally promised "on or about" April 29th, we don't need to hear from you...

Thanks in advance!

Metro About To Close In Ohio

There's really nothing new here for OMW readers, except some details and timing.

This item on AllAccess' Net News scroll jumped out at us:

METRO NETWORKS/WESTWOOD ONE Regional Dir.Operations/DETROIT-CENTRAL HOWARD BOUTON tells ALL ACCESS, "I am looking for talent in DETROIT for our Metro Networks Regional Hub. I need traffic producers and editors, traffic anchors for DETROIT, GRAND RAPIDS, CLEVELAND, CINCINNATI, COLUMBUS, TOLEDO and DAYTON Radio and TV stations. News anchors for same markets. Sports update anchors for DETROIT and CLEVELAND."

"I need these people pretty soon," adds BOUTON. "They need to be good on-air and have knowledge of the market they would be serving if possible, but we will train them and they will be based in our SOUTHFIELD MICHIGAN operations hub in suburban DETROIT."

Enough with that silly notion that you could "have knowledge of the market" by actually LIVING in the market! (We note that Bouton adds "if possible", wording that never appeared in the past, when Metro advertised for on-air talent that was actually in the market in question.)

OMW already reported last year that the Metro office in the Independence Media Gulch in suburban Cleveland was one of dozens the company slated for closure this year, as the traffic, news and sports outsource provider is consolidating over 60 local outposts down to just over a dozen cities in a money-saving effort.

We don't know how many people are actually left in the other Ohio markets listed. We believe some have already been served out of other markets.

The above ("need these people pretty soon") makes it sound like the local operations will be shuttered as previously rumbled, in June.

We wouldn't bet the house on it, but we'd be surprised if many - if any - of the remaining Cleveland-based Metro on-air staffers would move to Detroit. Many of them are market veterans with strong ties to Northeast Ohio, and we doubt seriously that Metro will pay relocation costs for this.

And you don't save the last penny if you're paying people to move, do you? Certainly not...

News About Radio News: Part 1

As promised in our Twitter update, here's the first of two items about radio newspeople.

We wondered, when posting the "Help Wanted" ad put up by Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland, if news director Darren Toms would look to the outside in hiring a replacement for anchor/reporter Ted Klopp...who left the station on his own to pursue a job outside radio.

It appears that outside hiring has happened.

OMW hears that Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria news reporter/anchor Colleen O'Neill is heading to WTAM to take the opening left by Mr. Klopp's departure. We're told her last day at WEOL is sometime next week.

Those who follow the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) have already figured out that O'Neill's exit to Oak Tree leaves just one employee left in the WEOL news department - news director/operations manager Craig Adams, who was slashed to part-time hours in recent station budget cuts.

We don't know if WEOL will hire a replacement for O'Neill, or if Adams' hours will be increased, or...anything other than the fact that O'Neill is leaving for WTAM.

OMW hears that dozens of resumes and demos floated into Oak Tree after the original "Help Wanted" ad was put up by WTAM...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


OMW has confirmed that Rubber City Radio Akron market country powerhouse WQMX/94.9 has parted ways with night personality Michael Izic, also known as "Ike the Night Guy".

"Ike" had been with WQMX since 2001, and moved from overnights to nights four years after he started on the air. We don't know why he is no longer with the station.

An OMW reader tells us that WQMX weekender George McFly was heard in the 7-midnight slot Tuesday evening, though we don't know if he has a shot at the full-time gig.

We do note, however, that "McFly" also rhymes with "Night Guy"...which may not mean anything other than providing us a quick quip on the Mighty Blog...

TWC Updates - Everyone

We've been getting scattered reports from our readers about the Time Warner Cable HDTV situation in Northeast Ohio.

Since we reported earlier that the company's latest wave of HD channels has been rolling out in some, but not all, of the Northeast Ohio footprint due to the implementation of SDV - "Switched Digital Video" - TWC has basically acknowledged that in its latest "Programming Notice" online, updated Tuesday afternoon.

Quoting some of the important parts, first, in reference to the April 29th promised group of HD channels that is available to some areas, but not others:

The launch of these HD services in some areas has been postponed. No new date is available.

Standard HD: Bravo, CNBC, The Learning Channel, Animal Planet, ABC Family, Lifetime Movie Network, Travel, AMC, Golf, FX, Fox News, CNN.

Digital Basic Tier HD: ESPN News, MLB, National Geographic and Science Channel, Versus, Speed, ESPNU.

That's similar to previous wording. But as an example, let's list the next planned group of channels:

On or after May 26th, the following services will be added to Standard HD on a community by community basis in the greater Cleveland area: Golf, FX, Fox News, CNN.

On or after May 26th, the following services will be added to HD for customers with the digital basic tier on a community by community basis in the greater Cleveland area: Science Channel, National Geographic.

That "community by community basis" wording is also applied to additions planned in June, as well as retroactively to the April group of channels that subscribers with SDV (including here at OMW Headquarters) already have, and others do not.

From our impromptu survey of readers, it appears that the biggest artifact still left for some with the new channels is no video on the HD feed of CNBC. (No, it's not meant to be "CNBC Radio".) At least one OMW reader in Akron says he's seen no video on other new HD channels.

This letter, from a reader in the town of Shelby (north of Mansfield), is typical of what we've been hearing:

We had been having problems since the end of April during the planned expansion of the new HD channels.

The cable box would keep re-booting itself every 10 minutes it seemed like. Calls to Time Warner revealed that there was a problem but of course FAILED to tell their paying customers anything. Last weekend was especially bad, we finally just unhooked the cable box and just hooked up the regular cable line to the tv. Last Monday seemed to improve but was still re-booting itself.

Our area received the new HD channels on Saturday but with problems. Many of the new channels had sound but no picture. As of last night, it had improved to a degree but you still get a 5 second delay before the picture and sound come on. CNBC HD has yet to work, only get sound.

Readers in the "not yet for SDV/new HD" column include those from Bainbridge, Mayfield Heights, Mentor and Macedonia. The first three areas are former Adelphia regions, and we believe Mentor is a former Comcast territory.

We're still curious how it's coming. If you do write us, please tell us where you live, and which cable company served your area prior to the Time Warner/Adelphia/Comcast merger locally.

We're still waiting for an update from our sources at the cable company, but we suspect the above pretty much nails down the answers so some degree...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Three Quick Hits

We have been working on some things that aren't confirmed - or can't be printed, yet - so here's what we CAN bring you...

THE DECLINE OF WOAC: OK, so most of our readers would say that Canton-licensed WOAC/67's decline began when the station dumped its Canton-focused secular independent programming for infomercials, home shopping and then, more infomercials.

But we're getting an insight into the financial problems faced by the TV division of brokered ethnic radio king Arthur Liu's Multicultural Broadcasting empire. You can blame the economy...and by extension, local network affiliates.

From a recent Inside Radio item:

Many infomercial programmers were able to buy time on VHF network affiliates who had long shunned their dollars.

Last October Liu defaulted on his loan to Wells Fargo Foothill, Pacific Media Capital and a Daniel Zwirn-run fund. Operations were turned over to trustee Lee Shubert.

The sale of WOAC-TV, Cleveland-Akron (Channel 67) to Radiant Life Ministries for $7 million begins the sell-off of Multicultural Television. An appraiser calls that a “pathetic” price for a full-market station covering 1.5 million households.

So, basically, the recession made Prime TV Real Estate (time on major network affiliates) turn to infomercials to fill time slots once filled by, oh, say, news. See our recent item on the end of Sunday morning news on CBS affiliate WOIO/19 and Fox affiliate WJW/8 for that part of the story.

With the big network affiliates hungry for cash, they were willing to sell that time at presumably competitive rates...certainly competitive if you count the more visible platform vs. a station like WOAC.

The changing market conditions could also explain the presence of recent paid programming on WOAC, such as some shows which migrated over from Media-Com's "The Cat" (WAOH-LP 29 Akron/W35AX Cleveland) - "Handy Andy Auto Care", "Dining with Steve" and "The Art of Living". (Yes, Diana Ray, we finally mentioned your show!)

We'll have to assume that at some point, WOAC made the cost of buying a half-hour of time more reasonable to these folks. We'll also assume all of them will be bounced off WOAC when the TCT folks take it over.

And that "pathetic" price for WOAC? Of course, blame the current state of media dealmaking for that.

With credit for such things as TV station purchases extremely hard to get, very few companies, groups or funds can buy a station like WOAC.

It's the religious operators, like incoming WOAC owner Radiant Life Ministries/Tri-State Christian Television (TCT), Trinity Broadcasting or (on the radio side) "K-Love" parent Educational Media Foundation that are pretty much the only ones with cash on the barrelhead to buy media properties in 2009.

(And yes, we spotted Bernard Radio's Daniel Zwirn in that item. We didn't know he funded TV deals...)

By the way, Liu continues as usual with his radio group, and Inside Radio reports that he's still dealing in TV - as a programming supplier of Chinese-language channels to the Verizon FiOS television service...

WVMX...WESTERVILLE: Long time Friend of OMW Scott Fybush spots this from his NorthEast Radio Watch outpost in upstate New York.

We missed it as well, but Scott alerts us that it appears Saga hot AC WVMX/107.9 "Mix 107-9" has been granted a construction permit that moves its city of license from Delaware to Westerville.

The new construction permit doesn't specify a facility move, so the station will still - for now, at least, transmit from that big tower south of Delaware along to the sign for 107.9's previous oldies format.

That "classic hits" format landed on WODB/104.3 Richwood, which also took the former calls 107.9 abandoned when Saga moved to fill the "Mix" hot AC hole after Dispatch/RadiOhio's WBNS-FM/97.1 became the new FM home of WBNS/1460's sports format as "97.1 The Fan".

As for 107.9's future, presumably, Saga is twiddling all the bits in their engineering database to see if THEY can file to nudge the tower site further south for a new facility closer to the city, a filing which Clear Channel hot AC WKDD/98.1 made some time after gaining a COL change from Canton to the Akron suburb of Munroe Falls.

But Scott tells us any move south of 107.9-now-Westerville will be difficult, as spacing to Radio One urban WCKX/107.5 "Power 107.5" is already tight from the Delaware-area site...

DUH-DUH-DUM...DUH-DUH-DUM!: We'll give a hint of the item we can't finalize yet.

Earlier, we passed along an item from Southern California, where former Columbus sports talker Brooks Melchoir contended that the folks at ESPN Radio were out looking for cash.

As the story went, ESPN Radio would ask for as much as six figures in cash compensation out of its non-owned-and-operated affiliates in top 30 markets (hello, "ESPN 850 WKNR"!), and lesser amounts out of smaller market stations.

OMW hears from a reader that Fox Sports Radio was heard, briefly, last night...on one of those affected smaller market ESPN Radio affiliates in Ohio. The station in question is back to ESPN Radio, with no sign of FSR, as of this writing.

Could someone there be testing out the satellite feed for an eventual flip from ESPN to Fox Sports Radio?

As far as we know, the station has no FSR programming on its schedule, unlike WKNR, which carries FSR afternoon drive, night and weekend shows on its "little brother" station, WWGK/1540 "KNR2". (Well, "night" depending on when sunset forces WWGK to sign off.)

Right now...and the company which owns the non-top 30 market station is notorious for cost savings. It's as if a move to dump the suddenly costly ESPN Radio was the clouds...over the Valley...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday's Breakfast Menu

So, we're a bit hungry, but are out of eggs...

THERE'S A REASON THEY'RE LOOKING: Late last month, as we were swimming in news of Clear Channel's latest nationwide job cuts, we got a couple of interesting questions from readers.

They'd spotted a relatively new "help wanted" ad placed on various trade websites by Clear Channel's Cleveland cluster on Oak Tree Boulevard in suburban Independence:

News Anchor/Reporter - Cleveland, Ohio
Newsradio WTAM 1100, Cleveland, Ohio has a full time opportunity in news for an anchor/reporter. Strong writing and web skills required. If you're a passionate team player send, audio CD or MP3 newscast and resume to: Darren Toms Director of News Operations Clear Channel Radio 6200 Oak Tree Boulevard, Suite 400 Independence, Ohio 44131 e-mail: dtoms (at) No phone calls please. WTAM, Clear Channel Radio, is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

A regular OMW reader tells us the ad above was posted on AllAccess' Job Market section just before Oak Tree said goodbye to WTAM/1100 afternoon producers/co-hosts Marty "Big Daddy" Allen and Paul Rado, and to WMVX/106.5 "Mix 106.5" morning hosts Brian Fowler and Joe Cronauer.

The questions posed by our readers: Four out, one in at Oak Tree?

We found out relatively quickly, but didn't get a Round Tuit(tm) during the wave of Clear Channel job cuts...the job ad appeared because of someone leaving Oak Tree on their own.

WTAM anchor/reporter Ted Klopp is no longer in the building at Clear Channel's Cleveland cluster, but not due to a job cut.

We heard that he was leaving radio to work with a family business, news that was seemingly confirmed on WTAM's afternoon drive talk fest with Mike Trivisonno this past Friday.

Triv spent much of the afternoon needling Klopp for going to work for his wife's "rich family", and joked that as a veteran news reporter, Klopp was just drooling over the prospect of a big news story breaking before he walked out of the building at 5 PM that day.

We don't know if WTAM is still looking for a replacement for Ted, or if they'll shuffle the lineup and promote someone into his job.

Since the company's Cleveland newsroom is once again tasked with feeding a four-station "news hub", it may not be a surprise if they actually hire someone to directly replace him...or directly replace someone who would be moved up into that job.

And best of luck to Ted Klopp as he moves on to the next stage of his life...Beyond Radio...

LOOKING UP: We couldn't resist the temptation to look again, so we drove the OMW Mobile to the Parma/Seven Hills border once again late Sunday...and checked out the progress of the under construction WKYC/WVIZ tower just over a month before the planned national digital TV transition date of June 12.

We were told by readers a couple of weeks ago that the tower appeared "about half finished".

We're not very good at doing "on the fly" estimates, but here are some pictures.

In our estimation, the new tower is now about two-thirds the way up the existing tower next to it.

While we're no experts at how towers are constructed (paging long-time friend, colleague and World Championship Tower Hunter Scott Fybush!), it would appear to us that the tower pictured could be done well before that June 12th deadline, which is the only date that really matters in this whole thing.

FCC-wise, NBC affiliate WKYC/3 has their backup plan...they can stay on digital RF channel 2 for a number of months, thanks to a Special Temporary Authority granted by the FCC, even after analog channel 3 signs off.

Similarly, PBS affiliate WVIZ/25 can camp out on its own temporary facility mounted to a nearby secondary tower at the WKYC site, as it signs off analog channel 25 in June.

But you can bet that both stations don't want to have to use those options.

Barring any unforeseen problems, our semi-educated guess is that the new facilities for both WKYC and WVIZ will be up and running at the transition.

Though WVIZ could well power up the new digital facility before June 12th, we believe WKYC is going to wait to make the RF 2 to RF 17 switch on that date...

AND ABOUT THAT TWC HD ITEM: We'd like to conduct a little survey.

As we reported over the weekend, Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio system has started offering its newest wave of HDTV channels.

We also reported that the launch was linked to Switched Digital Video, a system being implemented in much of Time Warner Cable's local footprint. We heard from the company that some parts of the former Adelphia system based in Cleveland hadn't yet been converted, but would get the new channels when "SDV" was implemented.

Since Saturday, we've received a handful of reports that some areas are getting either no video on some channels, or picture breakups, or the like. (Here at OMW World Headquarters somewhere in the former Adelphia system, we're still trouble-free with all the new channels.)

So, either in comments to this item, or in E-mail, we'd like to hear from you if you're having problems with the new TWC HDTV channel offerings.

Make sure you tell us where you are, which part of the TWC system you're on (i.e. are you a former Adelphia customer, a former Comcast customer or a "legacy" Time Warner Cable customer), and what problems you're experiencing.

We'll pass it along to our contacts at the cable company, and we'll see if the information helps them iron out the bugs that may still be out there for some...

Saturday, May 09, 2009

TWC's Next HD Wave

OMW hears from Time Warner Cable locally that the wave of HDTV channels planned for addition in Northeast Ohio in late April is now showing up for local cable subscribers.

A quick check of the HD DVR here at OMW World Headquarters shows that the channels are indeed available to your Primary Editorial Voice(tm).

OMW hears that though the new HD channels are indeed rolling out, some TWC Northeast Ohio subscribers may not have them yet.

We're told that the launch is indeed, as we've already speculated on our own, linked to the rollout of Switched Digital Video (SDV) throughout Time Warner Cable's local system...and when your local headend does implement SDV, the new channels will be seen.

We're also told that most of this activity to add SDV - to areas without it - is out of the former Adelphia Cleveland-based system, though we're hearing from some of our readers that the SDV rollout has indeed already reached many of the former Adelphia areas.

The presence of the new channels here means we can indeed confirm that on our own.

(We're in that "former Adelphia" list right here at OMW World Headquarters, located roughly adjacent to the Bruce Wayne Mansion somewhere in the former Adelphia service area. Though, we haven't figured out why the hillside opens up occasionally with a sleek, black sportscar speeding out of it.)

Anyway, enough Batman's the list of channels that you may already have as a Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio HD subscriber...and if not, they should show up at some point...

* ESPNEWS, 432*
* MLB, 438*
* TLC, 450
* Animal Planet, 452
* ABC Family, 460
* Bravo HD, 466
* CNBC, 486

* - These channels require a subscription to the Digital Basic Tier...which we presume means that if you get them on SD Digital Cable, you'll get them in HD

The new HD channels had been planned to launch April 29th, but were put on hold until now.

For now, we don't have any word of when areas without the new channels will receive them, but we're assured it's coming...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Odder Mix Than Usual

And mostly items on the fringe of our usual OMW coverage area wrap up this Friday.

But we'll start in Cleveland, and to our friends on South Marginal Road...thank you for the Twitter Shout-Out! Quoting:


A special Fox 8 Twitter shout-out to Ohio Media Watch. Glad you're enjoying our tweets! Stay tuned, more to come


We don't know who handles the Twitter account at Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW/8 "Fox 8". We suspect it's one of those Additional Duties added to a newscast producer's already full plate. But if they're a regular reader, they probably know we're a sucker for a mention...

And speaking of South Marginal...

PLAYOFF SILLINESS: The Twitter account provides a link to video of "Bill (Martin)'s Atlanta Feud",..where the Fox 8 News evening co-anchor "has it out" with an Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports columnist via a microwave video feed from Quicken Loans Arena.

Yes, it's playoff time again for the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. And with the local team steamrolling through its second-round playoff series with the team reportedly actually showing up at "The Q", the Atlanta Hawks.

(We haven't seen much evidence that the team on the court there is actually the Hawks. Maybe they're stunt doubles. They look like the Washington Generals to us.)

With Not Much To Talk About with the actual series itself - the Cavaliers have scored roughly 586 more points than the Hawks in the first two games - it's the Other Stuff that dominates the local media's conversation.

Like, how DARE Journal-Constitution sports columnist Mark Bradley take THIS crack at Cleveland! How DARE he?:


This city, as you’d expect, is pumped. We Atlantans moan over the state of our franchises, but Clevelanders have it way worse. For one thing, they have to live in Cleveland.


Yeah, like we've never heard that one before. Throw in a joke about the burning Cuyahoga River! Go ahead, Mr. Bradley, we dare you!

Remember that Cleveland is the kind of town that can laugh about those fake tourist promotion videos racking up the views on YouTube right now. (" least we're not Detroit!")

Bradley's blog before Game One of the Cleveland-Atlanta series drew the attention of Fox 8's Bill Martin, who conducted the "smackdown" upon Bradley from the safety of South Marginal...down the shoreway from the Q. (Yes, our tongue is firmly planted in cheek, as well.)

And Bradley runs with it even further, in his AJC blog before Thursday's Game 2:


Anyway, I was asked to go on the local Fox affiliate with some guy named Bob — or maybe it was Bill — who bills (or bobs) himself as the Mayor of the City of Champions. (Yes, that would, in Bob/Bill’s mind, be Cleveland, Ohio, which hasn’t seen a professional championship since 1964. But I digress.)

So there I am, trying to be a good sport, and Bob/Bill comes on, calls me a knothead, calls my employer the Urinal-Constipation (hey, new one!) and starts ranting.


Mr. Bradley, you oughta hear what locals call the Akron Beacon Journal and the Canton Repository.



Apparently deadpan doesn’t register up here because the Mayor had no rejoinder. And apparently this wasn’t making for the kind of Good TV this fine station had in mind. So Bob/Bill’s co-anchor — I believe her name was Stacy, though it might have been Cindy — said: “Mark, you know this is all in fun?”

And I said: “Actually, I thought this was supposed to be a serious discussion.”

So then the folks back in the studio decided to cut it off because I wasn’t yelling back, but not before Bob/Bill threatened to beat me up. Twice. And he told me I’d better hide. And finally I dropped the poker face and started laughing.

“Yeah,” I said, “I’m hiding from you.”


We're taking this about as seriously as both Bill Martin and Mark Bradley, which is to say, not at all.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Bradley, we've been to your fair city more than once...and we're not sure it has much more to offer than the hot dogs at the world-famous "Varsity".

And regular readers of your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) can tell you that your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) can find tasty chili cheese dogs much closer than Georgia...and that doesn't even count the two Northeast Ohio Sonic locations...

RUMORS OF HER RADIO DEMISE: OMW dutifully passed on word that Clear Channel Toledo news chief Cassie Wilson is stepping down from her post on Superior Street, citing, among other things, the company's recently re-energized "news hub" plans that have put news anchors from sister Cincinnati talk WLW/700 on her station in middays.

The Toledo Blade had a brief item on Wilson's exit, saying she was "pursuing opportunities outside radio" in her exit from the building which contains talk WSPD/1370, where she's anchored afternoon drive along with her cluster news oversight duties.

Not-so-fast...that's not the whole story, according to this in Tom Taylor's popular "Taylor on Radio-Info" column this morning:


Cassie Wilson says contrary to the Toledo Blade article that T-R-I mentioned yesterday, she’s not done with the radio business, even if she’s resigning from Clear Channel-Toledo as its director of news operations and on-air anchor. So she’s open to another job in radio, as well as possibly outside the business (where she could use her PR and media relations experience).


The Blade article did note something AllAccess had already reported - that Wilson's exit does not affect the status of her husband, WSPD program director/afternoon drive host Brian Wilson...who will stick around at the Toledo talker as usual...

ZANESVILLE CLOSE: TRI's Tom Taylor also passes along word of a radio sale closure in Southeast Ohio...the sale of WCVZ/92.7 "Z92" South Zanesville:


Buyer Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting Systems (Hank Littick) had begun LMAing the station in November, and now the $2.2 million deal has been consummated.


And Taylor makes a link between the WCVZ sale and another station purchase in a larger Ohio market:


Seller Christian Voice of Central Ohio needed the proceeds to go forward with its own acquisition plans – to buy Columbus-market WRFD (880) from Salem for the fairly serious price of $4 million.


So, is that all there is that's "holding up" the closure of the sale of Columbus' "The Word"? It would appear so. (By the way, wanna buy a radio station or three, cheap? From what we're hearing, we're surprised Salem hasn't started putting stations on eBay...)

Taylor also noted the end of the former WCVZ CCM format ("92.7 the River") and the start of hot AC as "Z92" under Littick's watch.

But readers here know that "Z92" is actually a move of the format once heard on Littick's WHIZ-FM/102.5 Zanesville, which is now running automated country as "Highway 102" while it awaits an eventual COL move to the Columbus ex-urb of Baltimore (not Maryland). And, we presume, it's also awaiting a buyer that would operate the station in Columbus after that move.

CVCO decamped in the area to WZNP/89.3 Newark, running non-commercial CCM and Christian talk/teaching from its "Promise Radio Network".

Littick's Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting Systems continues to own WHIZ/1240, and NBC affiliate WHIZ-TV/18...

LIMA EXIT: Radio programmer and OMW reader Dan Baisden passes along word of his own exit from Ohio.

Baisden has been programming Maverick Media's WWSR-FM, WDOH-FM and WZOQ-AM in Lima, but now heads west, young man...very far west, handling operations for a cluster in Flagstaff AZ. He writes:


"I am thankful and excited to be joining Stan Pierce and Greg Dinetz (in) Flagstaff-Prescott, Arizona, in one of America's fastest growing markets. The city is really looks like the post cards. We have tremendous stations that we will continue to grow, and a great company with Grenax."


Grenax isn't one of those medications you see on TV ads ("Talk to your doctor about Grenax!") - it's apparently the name of the company that owns the Arizona stations.

Best of luck, Dan, and feel free to keep reading to get a bead on what's going on back here in the Buckeye State!

LIMA TV: While we're out in West Central Ohio, electronically, another OMW reader tells us we should be aware of changes in the local TV market there.

Since we don't write a lot about Lima, we haven't mentioned a fairly recent change linked to the sale of the market's low-power Fox, CBS and ABC affiliates to Block Broadcasting, which owns the only full-power Lima secular network affiliate station (NBC affiliate WLIO/35).

The integration of the four stations appears well underway.

OMW hears that a plan first unveiled by WLIO/Block Lima VP/engineering Frederick Vobbe on his station engineering blog has started to take shape, as now-co-owned Fox affiliate WOHL-CA 25 now appears on the 8.2 digital subchannel of WLIO-DT.

The "Fox Lima" programming on 8.2 replaces an SD simulcast of WLIO's main feed, which was preceded on the subchannel by the market's CW network affiliate. (That feed is now only found on Time Warner Cable channel 3.)

And yes, WLIO is using its RF channel, 8, to identify the station in its PSIP digital information.

So, with WLIO-DT 8.2 being the new home of "Fox Lima" in the digital world, what happens to the Fox programming now found on the other new WLIO sister station? Or for that matter, the programming on the other new sister stations?

From Vobbe's blog item last month:


What we plan to do, once WLIO analog is cleaned out and gone, is to move WOHL to channel 35, then flip it to digital. This new station will have the call sign of WOHL-CA Channel 35, and will be 9,000 watts E.R.P.


The new channel 35 will then become the home of ABC and CBS in HD. As soon as WOHL channel 35 digital comes on the air, we will then start to phase out WLQP-18 and WLMO-38 as analog stations. What will happen with them? Well, that a story for another day.


It sounds to us like WLIO is going to try what's already being done in Youngstown, where New Vision's WKBN/27 has planted HD feeds for both CBS (from WKBN) and Fox (from sister "Fox Youngstown") on WKBN-DT 27.2.

OMW hears from our reader in the region that Block is now using generic "Your News Now" branding for newscasts on all four stations, which we're told are being produced out of the WLIO operation.

The newscasts now air in a pattern - a new 5 PM broadcast joins the 10 PM broadcast on Fox affiliate WOHL-CA, and newscasts that used to only air on "NBC Lima" are simulcast now - the 6 PM show on WLQP-LP "ABC Lima", and the 11 PM show on WLMO-LP "CBS Lima". The morning newscast apparently continues to air solely on WLIO.

We haven't heard what happened to the staff that produced newscasts for the three Lima LPTVers owned until recently by local businessman Gregg Phipps' Metro Video Productions...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thursday's Mixed Bag

Try as we might, we can't get our daily updates to always fit into a neat, tidy little bag...

THIS IS A TEST, OR WILL BE: Say, what are you doing on May 21st, at 7:30 AM, 12:30 PM or 7:30 PM?

If you're watching over-air analog TV that day, anywhere in the nation, you could be watching a national DTV test.

The Wall Street Journal reports
this week that the FCC is working on a plan that would ask TV stations across the United States to, quoting the article, "suspend regular programming and instead show a public-service ad about the digital transition for three five-minute periods May 21 as part of an effort to make sure Americans are ready for the switch."

The "test" would be similar to regional DTV tests already conducted in various parts of the country, including two tests we saw here in Ohio in late 2008 and early this year.

Stations which have already shut off their analog signals - in Northeast Ohio, Western Reserve PBS' WNEO/Alliance, Mid-State independent WMFD/Mansfield, TBN O&O WDLI/Canton, and Multicultural Broadcasting infomercial outlet WOAC/Canton (to be sold to Tri-State Christian Television) - would not have to run the tests.

We have just one comment - if the FCC was really serious about this, they'd put one of the tests in the middle of prime time. Of course, the major networks would probably cry foul...

STACIA'S MOVE: Former Youngstown TV news anchor Stacia Erdos is coming back to the Mahoning Valley media scene...but not as a member of a local TV news operation.

Erdos is joining the staff of the Youngstown Business Journal, in a role we'll let Business Journal publisher and OMW reader Andrea Wood explain:

Erdos, who anchored the 6 and 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts on WYTV Channel 33 from 1990 to 1998, has joined The Business Journal as a video reporter/anchor and columnist. Her focus will be on local business topics and the media. She will write a regular column for the biweekly publication, and will also produce and anchor video reports that will appear on the publication’s Web site,

“I am very excited to be back working where I live, and collaborating with the Valley’s most respected source of business information,” says Ms. Erdos. “In this progressive and impressive move, The Business Journal will leap to the forefront in delivering what matters to the Valley, offering video and interviews shot on location on its Web site.”

Erdos has been an anchor and reporter for Cox-owned Pittsburgh NBC affiliate WPXI/11, and as far as we know, she's been commuting to WPXI from the home she and her husband own in the southern Youngstown suburb of North Lima.

And it looks like your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) will see a lot of Erdos' work, as publisher Wood notes that she'll take over the business paper's "Media Scope" column on local media - from Wood herself.

As such, Erdos is sure to write (and talk) about the landscape she left behind some 10 years ago...which has changed dramatically.

Back when Erdos was a fixture at ABC affiliate WYTV/33, after all, "33 News" existed as a separate operation on Shady Run Road. Now, it's a "virtual set" in a corner of the WKBN/27 "27 First News" studios on Sunset Boulevard...

SOME NEEDLING: OMW reported earlier about some behind the scenes intrigue among Cleveland TV newsrooms regarding a recent news story...and the breaking of a Cleveland Clinic news embargo by Raycom Media's WOIO/19-WUAB/43's "19 Action News".

In the scheme of's not terribly significant. Honoring a news embargo by a source like the Clinic is professional courtesy, usually extended because the Clinic is a major local institution that can be a helpful source.

The story in this case was a planned event, a news conference with the Steubenville-area woman who received a face transplant at the Clinic. We're not talking about a story of malfeasance or corruption that a news organization should uncover on its own, with or without cooperation from the institution, agency or government involved.

And nothing, really, can stop "19 Action News" from putting word of such an event on the air, even if asked by the Clinic to wait. Nothing, also, can stop the Cleveland Clinic from notifying the other three local newsrooms that they can air the story earlier than the embargo time wtih the Clinic's blessing.

But we had to chuckle at the latest Twitter update by Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8's "Fox 8 News":


Tonight at 6pm, Only on Fox8, an exclusive follow up to the face transplant story. Could be weeks before 19 has this one.


So far, in Twitter-land, WOIO is not taking the bait. We did see its brief note Monday mentioning the face transplant patient before the embargo was set to be lifted, and this note Tuesday from 19's Paul Joncich, apparently written after the market's other stations aired the story at 5:


joncich here. the face transplant patient...a look at her life before the accident is coming up on 19 action news @ 6pm.


Our only reason for updating this one?

The fact that newsrooms, now encouraged to share "behind the scenes" details with viewers on blogs, in Twitter posts, Facebook pages and the like, means that this inter-station "play" is now occasionally public as well...and fodder for your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)...

BUT ON THE POSITIVE SIDE: OK, so it's very easy to poke fun at the folks at Reserve Square.

"Honest. Fair. Everywhere." is their current slogan, and with its brash, tabloid style, "19 Action News" basically has a target painted upon its virtual back for those who talk about local media... like us.

But let's give WOIO/WUAB its props for a big event coming up:

The "Biggest Job Fair in Ohio" will be held May 15th at the Tri-C Gymnasium located at East 30th and Community College Avenue from 10am to 4pm. There will be free parking available throughout the Tri-C campus.

Representatives from local and national companies will be on hand interviewing candidates for more than 1,000 job openings.

Early registration has over five thousand people confirmed to attend with more than ten thousand expected.

Now, WOIO/WUAB isn't the first media outlet that's conducted a job fair in Ohio...a state hard hit by the deep recession, even before much of the rest of the nation.

But this does sound like it'll be pretty big. From an article by TVNewsday's Arthur Greenwald:

Previous, smaller local job fairs have proven the importance of such amenities (feeding volunteers, porta potties and crowd control), says (Raycom Cleveland marketing director Rob) Boenau. "One suburban job fair had only 90 jobs- but thousands showed up and it was closed down by the fire marshal."

To ensure a better outcome, the station partnered early on with Cuyahoga Community College (known locally as Tri-C) and also with Cleveland State University which is also offering plenty of free parking. The station and colleges have already lined up hundreds of volunteers and begun security rehearsals with the campus police forces.

That suburban job fair, of course, was the one that caused quite a mess for commuters on Rockside Road in the mass of job seekers at the Holiday Inn Independence flowed out of the hotel and parking lot.

CSU and Tri-C are also providing a variety of services for job seekers, including resume-building help and job seeking skills seminars.

The job fair effort has also spilled over onto WOIO/WUAB's classifieds website, ClevelandClassifieds.TV, with the station actively building up job listings there as well...