One thing we've learned here in the over four years we've been doing OMW - unanswered questions eventually get answered...
CHUCK'S OUT: Like, for example, the question many of our readers had a few weeks ago - where is Chuck Galeti?
We got a flood, well, a minor trickle, of E-mail when people started seeing former WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5" sports anchor/reporter Sue Ann Robak doing the sports segments on the Cleveland market's alleged CBS affiliate's weekend newscasts...instead of Galeti.
Fast forward to this first day of September, and the Plain Dealer's Julie Washington fills in some of the blanks about Galeti's departure from the station known legally to the FCC as WOIO(TV) Shaker Heights:
The longtime sports broadcaster left sister stations WOIO Channel 19 and WUAB Channel 43 in mid-August.
Galeti, who was Channel 19's weekend sports anchor, said after 20 years of covering sports in Cleveland and Youngstown, he'd had enough of waiting outside locker rooms for players to give him a quote.
OMW readers with a good memory will recall that this isn't the first time Galeti has uttered such words about the world of sports. He said similar when he was doing some news anchoring work...not long after the father of now-former Cleveland Browns player Kellen Winslow II ("K2") gave him a hard time.
Galeti apparently has no immediate place to go, even if this was his decision...though he's presumably still first on the list to fill in for Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 afternoon drive host Mike Trivisonno, as he recently did when Triv's wife Linda passed away.
He tells Washington: "I'll have some opportunities down the road", though he doesn't say what kind of opportunities those may be, or if they're in television, radio, or another field....or in the Cleveland market.
As for Sue Ann Robak, station news director Dan Salamone tells Washington that she is indeed, as we speculated, a "temporary fill-in" while the station searches for Galeti's replacement.
Robak is well liked in the market, and if she doesn't have her own "opportunities down the road" elsewhere, she'd be a good choice to take the job if she wants it on a permanent basis. (We cringe at the prospect of another Charlie Minn, the clowning fill-in sportscaster who once appeared on the station looking like he'd just walked off a comedy show.)
As for Galeti, there's no indication - from here or anywhere - that any of the problems well-documented in his history have resurfaced. Quoting Washington:
Channel 19 rescued Galeti from possible career oblivion after a 2003 car accident and subsequent time in jail and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
The sportscaster, says the PD, signed a contract extension just last month...but decided to move on...
CBS RADIO CUTS, AND AN EXIT: A ways back, we reported rumblings going around the CBS Radio Cleveland operation...and reported sketchy word of a "mandatory 30 percent pay cut" at the local cluster.
Our item prompted "paycheck panic" among workers there, who double-checked pay stubs just to make sure there wasn't a big cut they hadn't seen yet.
The situation is somewhat clearer, at least if you read the reporting of local media consultant and former WMMS/100.7 program director John Gorman.
Keep in mind...we haven't independently confirmed this item posted last week on Gorman's Media Blog:
I’m not sure if this goes for other markets but in Cleveland CBS Radio recently imposed a 30 percent pay cut for selected employees in a take it or leave deal.
I never would've known about it if it weren't for some local agency people that tipped me off - and asked me for my take on it. This was a well kept secret. For a day or two. When will they learn? This is the Naked City. Secrets don't stay that way for long. I should've known something was up when one of their former account executives posted his resume on every media site around town, including mine.
From what Gorman is saying, it sounds like the "selected employees" losing 30 percent of their salaries were in sales and marketing, which would explain why others were not seeing what we had reported.
And it tracks with what we're hearing from a reliable source today: that Monday, hot AC WQAL/104.1 "Q104" general sales manager Rona Greenwald submitted her resignation...
19 FIX?: One of our readers, a New London OH man, has been copying us on E-mail he's been sending to two local TV stations, WJW/8, WOIO/19, along with various FCC employees.
Our reader has the same complaint that many over-air viewers have in the Cleveland market - he has difficulty picking up those two stations in the post-digital world, and he wants to know what the stations are doing about it. (It should be noted that New London is between Ashland and Norwalk, on the western fringe of the Cleveland market - though problems with both signals have been reported well within the urban core of the market.)
He copied us on a lengthy response he received from one technical employee of the aforementioned WOIO, which has a lot of very interesting information about the station's future plans.
To condense it into a nutshell, the station employee says they are indeed working on boosting power using the existing transmitter to somewhere in the 6,000 watt to 8,000 watt range (it's currently 3.5 kW) - as a temporary measure that could take place in the next two weeks or so.
But it's the first we've heard of an apparent long-term solution - if you believe the employee's information, Raycom Media hopes to eventually land WOIO's digital signal on a "high-powered" facility on the UHF band...they're apparently waiting "for the FCC" to figure out where the new allocation could be, according to that response received by our reader.
Hmm, we seem to recall WOIO used to be on...CHANNEL 19! We're pretty sure that's on the UHF band.
But it's possible that post-transition moves elsewhere have eliminated the station's return to its historic analog channel. That, we don't know. (Our experts at that sort of thing are more than welcome to chime in here, along with suggesting a possible UHF opening for WOIO.)
We do know that the station, according to the employee's response, is well aware of the problems posed by cross-border/cross-Lake Erie station CFPL/10 London ONT, and notes that even a broader power increase won't help it much against that station. (The response also cites something we have heard before - an apparent harmonic problem in the Akron area caused by the FM radio signal of Rubber City Radio rock WONE/97.5 interfering with the RF channel 10 TV signal.)
Thus, the apparent eventual desire to move to UHF, and abandon RF channel 10 entirely. The letter received by our reader blames the FCC for the allocation, saying it "never should have been granted" based on the CFPL issues.
We'd love to print the entire response. But the folks at Reserve Square pretty much treat us like we're pond scum that needs to be scraped from the bottom of their shoes. We won't print it in full unless the original author gives us the OK.
Despite the fact that the station has blocked us from its Twitter updates, and has otherwise demonstrated that it doesn't take our good-natured pokes well, we'd like the truth to come out here...if WOIO is indeed planning to eventually abandon the problem-plagued RF channel 10, and build a facility that puts out a signal people can actually pick up over the air, we'd like to hear about it officially.
At some point later this week, we'll revisit some information we've heard about the other local VHF-based digital TV signal that has some problems reaching viewers, Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 "Fox 8"...