Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Followup

And heading into a Friday, some followups...and one more item...

QUICK EXIT: Thursday morning, we reported that Clear Channel Cleveland market manager Mike Kenney was packing his bags and heading to North Carolina. It'd been officially announced, just an hour or so before our post, that Kenney would take over the market manager post at Clear Channel's Charlotte cluster.

Back in Cleveland, it was "promotion from within" at Oak Tree, with Gary Mincer taking over as market manager, and George Allen taking Mincer's place as director of sales.

We're getting an idea of just how quickly this all happened.

How about "within the hour"?

CC Eastern Region EVP Tom Schurr's memo went out to folks at Oak Tree, according to the E-mail time stamp, at just after 8:30 AM Thursday.

Consider this from Tom Taylor's always excellent Taylor on Radio-Info column this morning:

T-R-I hears that Charlotte-based Regional VP Morgan Bohannon got the news that he was out yesterday morning at 8.

So, Bohannon was out at 8 AM, and his replacement ("effective immediately"), Cleveland's Mike Kenney, was officially announced just a half-hour and change later. Wow.

The turn of events was so quick, Schurr apologized to his Cleveland cluster that he had to use E-mail:

I would prefer to be able to be with you today to make these announcements in person. However, logistical limitations prevent me from doing so. I trust you understand and I will look forward to seeing you all soon.

Meanwhile, T-R-I's Taylor notes that a call to Charlotte in mid-afternoon still yielded former market manager Bohannon's voice on a voicemail message. We're wondering if Mike Kenney was on a plane to Charlotte at that time.

We don't know what happened in Charlotte, but it seems clear that Clear Channel's cluster felt it had to make a change there, and quick...

HE LOVES C-TOWN: For more radio interest than sports interest, we had to tune into at least the first segments of Premiere syndicated sports talker Jim Rome's live broadcast from the studios of his Cleveland affiliate - Good Karma's WKNR/850 "ESPN 850" - at the Galleria in downtown Cleveland.

And our curiosity was rewarded.

Rome spent much of the show giving America his love letter to Cleveland. He pushed back listener E-mail quips about needing penicillin shots to visit the North Coast, quips about body odor, and other attempts at "Jungle Humor" by his unwashed masses of "clones".

"Cleveland is a good, good town. No, it's a great town," Rome said early in Thursday's show. The giant of syndicated sports talk radio had a one day visit to "C-Town", with the live show, sponsor obligations, and a meet-and-greet with listeners Thursday at the downtown Cleveland location of Morton's, the upscale steakhouse chain.

And Rome noted that indeed, as we suspected, he doesn't do those huge "tour stops" anymore... but told listeners he took "about one second" to say yes to WKNR's offer to bring him to Cleveland for a fourth time.

There's a good reason Rome loves Cleveland, and it's not about the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers.

"The Jungle", says Rome, may not have turned into what it is without Northeast Ohio. In specific, WKNR was one of Rome's very early large market affiliates.

The host told the story of starting the show from scratch, and lining up affiliates here and there. But those stations were in small markets...and Rome had hope that a big market affiliate in a big sports town would "take a chance" on the show.

Here, that was WKNR...at the time, "SportsRadio 1220". We don't know which group owned the station when Rome's show was added 12 years ago - a quick Wikipedia search would indicate that 1997 saw the station owned by either original operator Cablevision, or Jacor.

But whatever incarnation WKNR has taken, Rome has been there ever since.

Since 1997, WKNR has moved from 1220 to 850, and has gone through roughly 35 owners. OK, maybe not 35, but it was even a sister station to Clear Channel's WTAM/1100 at one point - WTAM was there basically just long enough to swipe the Cleveland Indians rights from 1220, moving the team to 1100.

It was bounced between Jacor and Capstar, companies which don't exist in 2009 except as Clear Channel license holding subsidiaries. Non-sports broadcaster Salem owned WKNR (and was responsible for the 1220-to-850 move in the Great Cleveland Frequency Swap) for many years, until selling it to Craig Karmazin's Beaver Dam WI-based Good Karma Broadcasting.

Rome cites Cleveland and Houston as his first two markets of any size to take a chance on the syndicated show - he already had a local base in San Diego.

And Rome says with the success seen by "The Jungle" in Cleveland and Houston, other large market sports stations "fell into line"...

HE'S BAAAACK: It's a very different world for a one-time Mahoning Valley icon.

But since his halcyon days as the most powerful man in Youngstown, Jim Traficant is coming back not as the Valley's representative in Congress ("Beam me up!"), but as a man coming off a long prison term.

A commentary by Youngstown Regional Chamber president Tom Humphries, appearing in the Youngstown-based Business Journal, reminds us that Traficant is about to become a free man:

Now, seven years later, Mr. Traficant has served his sentence and will be coming home on Sept. 2.

We'll leave it to Mr. Humphries to talk about his concern that some in the Mahoning Valley are celebrating the return of a man who was thrown out of Congress as a result of his federal felony convictions.

Why are we weighing in?

We seem to recall that before he headed behind bars, there was talk that Traficant "would be offered" a regular talk show on Clear Channel talk WKBN/570 in Youngstown. We don't know how serious that reported offer was, at the time. We do believe he filled in once or twice.

Clear Channel Youngstown market manager Bill Kelly is an OMW reader, but we won't bother him on this one.

Though Traficant would be far from the first convicted felon to move into talk radio after prison (G. Gordon Liddy, Providence's Buddy Cianci, and those are just the first two names that come to mind), we'd have to think that the landscape has changed somewhat since those initial rumblings.

Even now, Traficant has his champions in the Mahoning Valley. The man could basically do anything short of murder, and still garner something of a following.

But if our sense of the local mood in Youngstown is correct, most of the region has "moved on" from the slavish devotion to the guy with the messed up hairpiece.

Radio's changed as well. The aforementioned Bill Kelly has been able to keep three local hosts in his weekday schedule on WKBN - morning driver Robert Mangino, midday host/program director Dan Rivers, and afternoon drive staple Ron Verb - despite financial pressures that are surely coming from Clear Channel corporate.

To us, at least, taking a gamble on a once-very-popular local political icon, just off a prison term, doesn't sound like a good choice for South Avenue.

We could, as always, be wrong...

1 comment:

nathanobral said...

It was Jacor that owned WKNR when they picked up Jim Rome.

Ronnie Duncan, Geoff Sindelar and Kevin Keane were let go with the changeover (although the Indians themselves retained Sindelar for their radio pregame show and "TribeTalk" as a commentator) and Greg Brinda was moved to mornings, replacing Don Imus.

Jacor clearly only owned WKNR so as to move both the Indians and Browns PBP over to WTAM. (WKNR had the rights to the NFL-produced "Countdown to '99" program during the franchises' hiatus, hosted by Marc Kestecher and Doug Dieken... that show moved to WTAM for the '98 season. WKNR was also an affiliate of the Bengals in '96 and '97.)

Right after the sale, there were rumors abound that WKNR would become a 2nd-tier talker to WTAM. At the time, Jacor bought out Premiere and with it, the rights to Rush, Dr. Dean Edell (which were just acquired from original syndication Ed McLaughlin) plus Dr. Laura, Jim Rome and C2C. Plus the existence of such 2nd-tier talk stations in both Columbus (then-1230 WFII) and Cincy (then-550 WCKY) did give those rumors merit.

Even though that never came about, local weekday programming on WKNR was cut back to JUST Greg Brinda (6a-9a) and Kendall Lewis (9a-12p). After that, Romey (then 12-4) ESPN's "The Fabulous Sports Babe" (4p-7p) plus ESPN Radio's "GameNight" with the Bruno/Wilson/Wright team (7p-10p), and Sports Byline USA (10p-6a).

Brinda's show was set up to fail... it had sports updates going FOUR times each hour! Ditto with "The Fabulous Sports Babe," which was pretty much a joke so as to bolster Triv's audience. (His disastrous interview with her back in 1996, set to Styx's "It's You, Babe" is one of Triv's best-remembered bloopers.)

Under Jacor ownership, WKNR's updates - which were around the clock at the time - were still in-house. They were outsourced to Metro Networks after the station was spun off to Capstar and AMFM.