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 I-71...next 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 written...ummm....in the clouds...over the Valley...


Anonymous said...

It depends on if that station was permitted to run the Cavs/Hawks postseason game ESPN offered or not.

Obviously, WKNR can't run any of the PBP offered with the Cavaliers involved. But ESPN, last I checked, no longer has a seperate feed to offer its' affiliates in case of such a blackout. WKNR is essentially up the proverial creek.

So WKNR kept it local with Mark "Munch" Bishop on during the game itself on Saturday... I forgot what they aired last night, tho. It might've been FSR... but I can't say.

But with an FSR feed at their disposal, if the Cavs make it to the finals... WKNR may have no other choice. That or dead air.

emery_r said...

The appearance of infomercials on network TV is one of the most startling developments during our current economic turmoil. All you need to do is watch any network's 6:30 PM newscast on Saturday or Sunday, and you'll usually see more than one infomercial for a box set of music CDs, bags to prevent fruit and vegetables from spoiling, or something similar.

Before late 2008, you'd NEVER see ads like these on any network program. Truly a sign of the times -- and it can't be a good sign for less well-established independent stations that relied on these infomercials in the past.

Matt said...

Looking at WVMX Westerville's CP. They will be lowering their placement on the tower and going from 2.6 KW to 3 KW.

Ohio Media Watch said...


Good catch...though looking at their engineering exhibits, they call that a "correction".

It happens all the time, when stations take new CP applications to correct data that was previously in error.

-The Management