Thursday, October 01, 2009

Disjointed, But Here

You may notice that we're trying out some new things, and new ways of updating the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

Just bear with we're testing how these new methods work in practice. For the nonce, you could well see Twitter-style mini-updates in the main OMW stream for a below...

HAILING COLUMBUS: OMW hears that the new Central Ohio 102.5 signal, licensed to Baltimore OH, has apparently made its move to the new facility intended on serving the Columbus market.

An OMW reader on Columbus' east side, near the suburb of Bexley, tells us he can hear what is now known as "Highway 102.5", now legally WCVZ/Baltimore:

"...before today getting 102.5 was out of question. Now I can hear 102.5...with no problems and little to no static from (their) new tower"

The move comes after the swap we detailed below. Try to follow along, as this one takes a few twists -

Back in the day, there was a three station AM/FM/TV combo in the Southeastern Ohio town of Zanesville - WHIZ/1240, WHIZ-FM/102.5 and WHIZ-TV/18.

The FM side of the WHIZ Media Group equation has been through a lot, lately.

Some time ago, WHIZ filed for a relocated signal for 102.5, moving it to the Columbus ex-urb of Baltimore... a southeast rimshot signal that would put a decently-listenable signal over much of Franklin County.

The community-minded WHIZ folks didn't want to be without an FM signal once 102.5 headed for the Big City, so they purchased WCVZ/92.7 South Zanesville from Columbus area-based Christian Voice of Central Ohio...which had been operating it as CCM "92.7 The River" as a sister station with its WCVO/104.9 Gahanna ("104.9 The River").

WHIZ Media Group then moved the locally-programmed hot AC "Z" format from 102.5 to the newly acquired 92.7 as "Z92". CVCO decamped to its new noncomm WZNP/89.3 Newark "The Promise", folding in some of the WCVZ "River" programming with the "Promise" lineup of Christian teaching/talk.

After a simulcast period, WHIZ made WCVZ/92.7 the sole home of the "Z92" hot AC format, and launched automated country music on the former "Z" frequency, 102.5, at the time still serving the Zanesville area.

That's the way it's been until today

Wednesday, WHIZ Media/Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting Systems swapped calls on its two FM stations.

Hot AC "Z92" is now WHIZ-FM, and country "Highway 102" is now WCVZ. The formats remain unchanged.

In a story aired by the TV side of the WHIZ newsroom, group owner Hank Littick talked about the changes, including the transmitter site relocation for now-WCVZ/102.5:

The new WCVZ will continue with a country music format and will serve most of the Muskingum County area, but not all,

It will open up access to hundreds of thousands of listeners west of Zanesville and all around the Columbus market. Littick says where a lot of impact will be felt is the northwest and west side of Columbus. He says starting today (Wednesday) that area will have a new radio station.

Littick says the move will also be a big win for advertisers who will have access to over 1.4 million potential listeners in the new signal area in an affordable, economical way.

As we've said before, we're not betting on "Highway 102" lasting as a Columbus market station.

We don't believe Mr. Littick and company intend to operate it long-term over there, and that the eventual plan for 102.5 is a sale to some other operator. Of course, the radio sales landscape has pretty much hit rock bottom since the filing to move 102.5 to the Columbus market.

The only active buyer of stations in markets the size of Columbus these days appears to be California-based Educational Media Foundation, which is spreading its "K-Love" satellite-fed CCM format all over this part of the country.

Just in the past few of months, EMF has put new in-market signals on the air in Pittsburgh, where it bought then-WOGI/98.3 Duquesne PA from Keymarket and flipped "Froggy 98" to K-Love ("Froggy" took the WOGI calls to 104.3 Moon Township PA, which heads up the simulcast now...K-Love moved the WPKV calls to 98.3).

In Indianapolis, EMF just took over former classic hits outlet WKLU/101.9 Brownsburg IN from owner Russ Oasis, and also flipped it to "K-Love".

We're not ready to predict that the new Columbus market 102.5 will eventually end up in EMF's hands as a K-Love outlet. But...who else is out there buying radio stations?

Perhaps Alpha Broadcasting is a player. The new Oregon-based group is headed up by Larry Wilson, the man who built Citadel before selling it off to its current owners - who then went on a spending binge right before the recession and paid a gazillion-dollars for the former ABC Radio big market stations.

Wilson's back in the game, spending just north of $50 million to restablish a presence in Portland.

It'd been thought that Alpha would concentrate on the Pacific Northwest, but there's this interesting quote from today's Taylor on Radio-Info newsletter, written by respected columnist Tom Taylor:

Wilson’s got backing from Endeavour Capital (which invested with Wilson’s Citadel back in 1996) and they’re now saying they’re interested in mid-sized markets all over the country. That broadens the scope from the earlier emphasis on the West coast.

Assuming "mid-sized" markets means places like Portland, say, Columbus...though we suspect Alpha, if it ever does find the 614 area code, would like to have more than one station. CBS Radio has already sold out of the market, so we wonder who else would be interested.

Again, this is all just speculation. We have no idea if Larry Wilson can find Columbus on a map, let alone if his Alpha group is interested in buying stations there...

A BIG PROMOTION: It's the market move of the week, as a Toledo sports TV veteran heads for the Big Time.

That's as in New York City, where ABC O&O WTVG/13 "13abc" sports anchor Rob Powers is headed as a weekend sports anchor at the network's flagship station, WABC/7.

Quoting a "13abc" story on Powers' move:

He'll be traveling back and forth working for both stations for the next few weeks before moving to WABC full time October 17.

And Powers will still be getting his paychecks from the same company, of course, as WTVG is also owned by Disney/ABC.

The story notes that Powers has been the Toledo station's sports director for eleven years, and also says he has been co-anchoring the station's 5:30 PM newscasts for the past five years.

OMW hears that Powers is from suburban Cleveland (Westlake, to be specific), and had job offer nibbles from this market in the past...

EMERGING: The folks at New Vision TV crow that they've emerged from the bankruptcy process. From a company release:

New Vision Television today emerged from its 80-day restructuring process with a solid balance sheet, significant working capital, experienced management and employees, and a proven business plan.

“New Vision’s restructuring process was extraordinarily efficient – about ten weeks from start to finish,” said Jason Elkin, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of New Vision. “Among the major TV broadcasting groups, we are the first to emerge from this court-supervised process. With the elimination of all $400 million of our historical debt, New Vision now has one of the strongest balance sheets in our sector. Being debt-free will enable us to invest in our people, our product and complementary acquisitions to drive New Vision forward, while our competitors continue to focus on daily liquidity and covenant compliance.”

Since this isn't The Financial Section, we don't really have much to say about this bit of corporate puffery.

But as a reminder, New Vision owns Youngstown market CBS affiliate WKBN/27 and sister Fox affiliate WYFX "Fox Youngstown", and operates Parkin Broadcasting ABC affiliate WYTV/33 and its sister MyNetwork TV affiliate "MyYTV"...


Matt said...

It would be a shocker to the CVCO folks if EMF entered this market with KLove...

My understanding is any market that KLove comes into dominates and totally kills off any local CCM presence which would be sad for the CVCO folks because they are doing an awesome job with what resources they have at WCVO 104.9.... they even went back to a local based morning show after trying scott and sam from seattle for awhile.

I would like to see someone else pick up 102.5 than EMF... but as you have stated "who is really buying right now"

Ed Esposito said...

Rob Powers is a great talent and a good guy. Congratulations to him o the big show!