Thursday, July 16, 2009

Weather And Storms

And the latter part of our title, this time, isn't necessarily about's about economic storms, again. But first...

MCSHEA RETURNS: OMW hears that former Cleveland Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 meteorologist and "Good Company" co-host Eileen McShea is about to return to local TV, but not at 13th and Lakeside.

Instead, she'll be doing weather on Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5"'s weekend least for now.

The folks at 3001 Euclid are "down one" weather anchor, after the station declined to renew the contract of third forecaster Jeff Mackel at the end of last month.

OMW hears that McShea joins the "NewsChannel 5" weather team on a freelance basis "for the next few weeks".

We don't know if WEWS plans to hire a third regular, full-time meteorologist - or if the former WKYCer is up for the gig, if they are. We get the idea that the freelancing - by McShea or whoever could show up later - will be the status quo for now.

McShea left WKYC in 2008 after an apparent economic/money dispute over her co-hosting role on "Good Company", the mid-morning talk show now hosted by Fred Griffith, Andrea Vecchio and Michael Cardamone. (The Plain Dealer's Julie Washington wrote about this last October. For whatever reason, we apparently did not.)

The station has since rechristened the show "Good Company Today", to link it to the 20 hours of NBC's "Today" show and its successors before the show airs. (OK, so it's not 20 hours.)

The show features any number of lifestyle/talk segments, many of them sponsored.

McShea's long tenure at Channel 3, before that, included 12 years as a meteorologist, and some weekend news anchor work...

ANOTHER HEADED FOR 11?: We can't blame TV station employees if they avoid the financial news...and the news could be pretty bad for one station owner that has a number of Ohio stations.

As New Vision TV (WKBN/WYFX/WYTV) works with its lenders to eventually wind out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, giving the lenders control of the group, another group could be headed there.

Sinclair Broadcasting has warned that a Chapter 11 filing could be in its future.

Among the usual menu of economic problems facing any media company in 2009, Sinclair has another Big Problem - the faltering economics surrounding Cunningham Broadcasting. That's the company which allows Sinclair to operate two TV stations in markets where a straight dual-ownership isn't allowed by FCC guidelines.

In Ohio, those Cunningham stations are Columbus Fox affiliate WTTE/28 (sister to Sinclair ABC affiliate WSYX/6), and Dayton Fox affilate WRGT/45 (sister to Sinclair ABC affiliate WKEF/22). Fox affiliate WVAH/11 in the Charleston-Huntington WV market reaches parts of southern Ohio.

Broadcasting and Cable outlines the base of the Cunningham Problem:

Cunningham has until July 31 to pay off a $33.5 million debt. Should Cunningham default, Sinclair may be forced into Chapt. 11. Having Cunningham in bankruptcy could impact Sinclair to the tune of $50-$60 million, Sinclair execs said--$26 million in direct contributions for the LMAs, and the rest in annual cost savings and general synergies between the stations.

Cunningham is not that far removed from Sinclair. Family members of Sinclair CEO David Smith control the company, including Smith's mother.

("Mom? Can you hang onto some TV stations for me?")

These companies, which allow groups like Sinclair to control extra stations in lieu of ownership, are very common. Brecksville's own Mission Broadcasting serves a similar purpose for Nexstar. As we recall, Mission used to be based in a private home in Medina County's Sharon Township, according to a Beacon Journal profile of the company.

The head of Mission Broadcasting is also named David Smith, but as far as we know, he's no relation to Sinclair's CEO.

With the economy continuing to crater advertising revenue, these "other" companies are just as badly hit as their LMA partners...

LIKE A RADIO VIRGIN: Cleveland native and former then-WZJM/92.3 air personality Tim Virgin has made another big market move.

AllAccess reports that Virgin exits the PD/afternoon drive slot at Phoenix alt-rock KEDJ "The Edge" for Chicago, where he'll be the MD/afternoon driver at Emmis alt-rock WKQX "Q101" starting a week from Thursday.

It's actually a return to the Chicago station for Virgin, who worked there in the late 1990's.

In addition to his stint in Cleveland, before 92.3 adopted the "Jammin' Oldies" format, Virgin is known for his work at legendary Washington DC/Baltimore alt-rocker WHFS/99.1, and later at the 105.7 frequency that took the WHFS calls.

The latter stop at 105.7 involved hosting alt-rock music on a station that became a talk outlet, and is now sports WJZ-FM "The Fan". 99.1 is Spanish-language WLZL, and of course, 92.3 here is today's mainly automated alt-rock WKRK-FM "Radio 92.3"...oh, and the WHFS calls are now parked on a syndicated AM talk outlet in Washington...

WAMO: At the moment, this is an OMW exclusive...and the station isn't even in our coverage area. But since it is heard in the Western Pennsylvania parts of the Youngstown market, we'll share it here.

We've been following the coverage of the sale of legendary hip hop outlet WAMO/106.9 in the Pittsburgh market by Friend of OMW Pat Cloonan, who writes a media column for the McKeesport Daily News in that Pittsburgh-area community.

Cloonan noticed that there was a rescinding of the approval of the sale of WAMO and its two AM sister stations (WAMO/860 and WPGR/1510) to St. Joseph Missions, a group of local residents who plan to convert all three stations to Catholic religious programming.

There were also objections filed to the sale, one by a Pittsburgh resident decrying the upcoming loss of programming to the region's African-American community.

Well, according to the FCC database, the station sale has officially been approved (again?) by the of today. (MCM/MCL is the corporate station ownership name for Pittsburgh's Sheridan Broadcasting, the seller.)

Cloonan noted in a story earlier today that the objection had been reclassified by the FCC as an "informal" objection, which carries about as much weight as a soaking paper towel. The FCC noted to the Pittsburgh resident that as a standing rule, it doesn't get involved in format decisions.

As far as we remember, there isn't an LMA provision in the sale to St. Joseph's, so the sale would presumably have to close before the programming changes on the three stations.

Again, WAMO's FM operation is a Pittsburgh market station. But the station's move from 105.9 in the city, to 106.7 licensed to Beaver Falls, brought its signal into a pretty decent chunk of the Youngstown market.

We'd link Pat's articles, but his newspaper places them behind a subscription wall...


J. Moses(Tri-State Media Watch Editor) said...

I would like to remind your readers, that although they are in the TSMW coverage zone - WSTR/64 Cincinnati is also owned by Sinclair. I attempted to contact station management there for comments, but was referred to their COO in Baltimore.

Anonymous said...

Sinclair had all its stations shut off analog on the original digital transition date in February. Based on the possibility that Sinclair may file Chapter 11, their early analog shutoff must have been done for financial reasons.

Also re Sinclair: It owns WCHS-8 in Charleston WV, paired with Cunningham-owned Fox 11.

emery_r said...

Sinclair/Cunningham did NOT shut off analog on all its stations in February. Many did across the country, but in Ohio at least, several did NOT.

Sinclair-owned WSYX in Columbus waited until June 12, as did their WKEF in Dayton. Cunningham-owned, Sinclair-operated WRGT in Dayton also waited until June 12.

emery_r said...

The earlier comment added two W.Va. stations, but I thought in my dusty memory that both of them had also waited until June 12.

After digging through the FCC archives, their listing of stations denied the right to terminate analog on Feb. 12 specifically included WCHS-8 and WVAH-11, and a later list of stations intending to end analog on June 12 also included both -- so I assume they in fact did continue analog until June. (Someone from the Charleston/Huntington area can certainly chime in, confirming or denying this...)

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