Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Closure

Unless another major local Northeast Ohio media personality decides to step down, this will close out the week for your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) is groggy, and most of our earlier activity via our Twitter account was before we found both caffeine and our first meal of the day...hopefully, this will be more coherent, after we've met both requirements.

And it's not all followup to that big Thursday evening news...

SPEAKING OF WHICH: The Other Shoe in the Matt Patrick's Future Sweepstakes dropped this morning on Clear Channel talk outlet WHLO/640 Akron, where the 30-plus year host from hot AC WKDD/98.1 also hosts a separate, mid-morning local talk show.

The folks at Freedom Avenue weren't saying much Thursday about the future of that program, except to note that Patrick would have a separate announcement for his WHLO listeners today at 9:06 AM. And boy, did he.

Unlike on the WKDD website, where there's now a section with both audio and text from Patrick's 7:45 announcement that he's stepping down, there's not much on the WHLO site about the long-time personality's exit from the talk radio side of his work.

But indeed, Matt Patrick will leave Freedom Avenue entirely in mid-December. His last WHLO show will be December 17th, one day before what's sure to be a Big Deal - his last show after 30-plus years on WKDD the following morning.

And, well, Matt doesn't sound all that happy that he's leaving both gigs.

After "making (his) decision" not to return to the WKDD morning drive post, Patrick told his WHLO listeners this morning that he'd hoped that Clear Channel would make him an offer regarding staying on the air in his 9 AM-noon talk show slot on WHLO. Such an offer, he says, never came.

So, he clarified again that he's "not retiring" - wording he also used on WKDD, but which did not make it to the prepared statement on his exit - and Patrick told his WHLO listeners that he'd return "somehow, somewhere" after his December 18th exit...presumably after some family time and regrouping.

(The "somehow, somewhere" line is interesting. The competitive landscape ahead of Matt Patrick is rather intimidating if he hopes that means a return to radio in the Akron market. We'll dissect the options, if there are any, in a separate post in the next few days.)

Why is Matt Patrick walking away from the Clear Channel microphones?

Well, regular OMW readers might recall that the folks at Freedom Avenue advertised for a future WKDD morning drive opening - effective January 2010 - back in April, on the AllAccess trade website.

We picked up on that, and Matt Patrick himself picked up on our item, responding that his contract was indeed up at the end of the year...and that the advertisement basically dragged the negotiations into the open.

It doesn't take much to figure out the rest.

Clear Channel, like many of the financially-strapped mega-broadcasters in 2009, is likely trying to shed itself of expensive contracts, or get that high-paid talent to take deep pay cuts, particularly in markets the size of Akron(/Canton).

We have no insight into how much the company pays Matt Patrick, but it's not a stretch to imagine that they approached his contract talks with cuts in mind...and that the two parties couldn't get their numbers close enough to forge a new deal.

That's the economic reality of radio in 2009...high-paid, veteran local personalities are almost "dead men walking" until their next contract renewal negotiations.

So, between now and then, Matt Patrick will play out the string on both WKDD and WHLO, with a likely heavily-hyped "last show" on 98.1 on December 18th, a day after he hangs up the talk radio hat over on WHLO...

ANOTHER PROGRAMMING ANNOUNCEMENT: For once, the promise of a "major programming announcement" on Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland "ESPN 850" was not something about a charity golf tournament.

The station announced during Friday's "Really Big Show" that sports director Mark "Munch" Bishop will mount a new, local sports talk show from 5-6 AM weekdays, starting Monday, called "Munch in the Morning".

That time slot is not a typo.

Bishop, of course, was originally hired by WKNR to host the 3-6 PM afternoon drive slot now occupied by former Cavaliers TV play-by-play voice Michael Reghi...and now, he'll be hosting a one-hour early morning lead-in to ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" show.

And yes, we also noticed that "RBS" leader Tony Rizzo brought in "program director Jason Gibbs" to make the announcement. Not "assistant program director", the title Gibbs took over from RBS executive producer/sidekick Aaron Goldhammer.

It's the first time the Good Karma-owned sports outlet has actually had someone with the title of "program director". Programming-related management wasn't even in the consideration before Goldhammer took the APD title, and boss Keith Williams is a sales-oriented general manager.

It's no stretch to guess that Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin generally has more programming input into his station than any of his employees...

DIGITALLY YOURS IN YOUNGSTOWN: Over-air viewers of Western Reserve PBS in the immediate Youngstown area now have their options back.

The folks on Campus Center Drive have announced that W44CR, the low-power digital translator aimed at low-lying areas of the Mahoning Valley, is on the air. It replaces W58AM, the long-time analog translator for WNEO/45 in Youngstown which long broadcast on Channel 58. At least one OMW reader tells us he's picked up the new signal already.

The new facility is located at the same location - the WFMJ/21 tower just south of downtown Youngstown. It's necessary because many viewers in the immediate Youngstown area are unable to pick up the WNEO signal due to terrain issues between the Valley and Salem, where the 45 facilities are located...

AND SPEAKING OF WESTERN RESERVE PBS: One of the Kent-based public TV outlet's most popular local programs is "NewsNight Akron", the weekly news roundtable show featuring Akron-area journalists...hosted by WKYC/3 anchor Eric Mansfield.

"NNA" is moving to a new time slot...just a bit later than its current perch at 9 PM on Fridays, to a new regular time slot of 9:30 PM on the same night.

We'll electronically bring in a regular "NNA" panelist - Rubber City Radio-WAKR/1590 VP/information media and OMW reader Ed Esposito - to one of his "Letters from the Editor" on

We'll still be yipping and yapping about news and community events in our hometown but we'll be doing so a bit later to make room for a hip new program about the local economy. I know -- the words hip and economy really don't belong together -- but this fresh approach to money mattes in our region adds a new element to programming aimed at showcasing just what makes northeast Ohio tick, and the kinds of things we should think about to help make northeast Ohio improve.

The move is scheduled to take place next Friday, November if you're a "NewsNight Akron" junkie, it'll still be on at 9 PM tonight.

Or, you could be like us....we pick up the show off of two TiVo recordings, at the early time slot and a 5 AM Saturday repeat.

The linked article by Ed Esposito primarily focuses on one of our earlier items, the impending departure of WKDD morning drive icon Matt Patrick. It's worth a read for that reason, as well...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

UPDATE: Matt Patrick Exiting WKDD

He's been the primary morning drive host at Clear Channel Akron/Canton hot AC WKDD/98.1 (formerly 96.5) for over 30 years, but WKDD mornings will be without Matt Patrick in 2010.

The station has announced Patrick's departure from his morning drive perch, with his last show on WKDD in mid-December. He'll announce the exit to listeners tomorrow morning at 7:45 AM.

More details, including a release from the station, are forthcoming...and this item will be updated again later this evening...


UPDATE 10/29/09 6:10 PM: And that release from WKDD is reprinted below.

There's no mention in the release of Patrick's second job at Freedom Avenue, as the midday host at WKDD sister talk station WHLO/640 Akron.

OMW hears that an announcement will be made on Patrick's WHLO program at 9:06 AM Friday...


Matt Patrick to step away from Hosting WKDD morning show

Host to say goodbye after 30 years on December 18th

Akron, Oh (October 30, 2009): Radio Personality Matt Patrick is set to announce he will step down as the host of the morning show on 98.1 FM WKDD after 30 years.

In a Statement scheduled to air on WKDD Friday morning October 30th, at 7:45am, Matt explains his upcoming departure: “I have decided that the time has come for me to step away from this microphone. WKDD, and this, the greatest audience in all of radio has been my home for over 30 years. That is ALL of my adult life. I have had the greatest job in the world, but now the time has come to say goodbye.” “You have given my family a gift that is greater than you will ever know. Thank you!”

Patrick started his Akron radio career at what was then rock station 96.5 WCUE in July of 1979. The station later morphed into top 40 WKDD. In 2001, WKDD moved to its current dial position 98.1fm. In the mid 80’s when Morning Zoos were standard fare on radio, Patrick lead a popular ensemble known as the “Waking Crew” featuring Patrick, News Anchor Barb Adams, and sidekick Steve French. The results were untouchable ratings for WKDD.

As radio listening habits changed in the 90s Patrick’s bad boy style toned down as he became a family man. In 1999, WKDD started a relationship with Akron Children’s Hospital in what became a national success story, the radiothon. In 10 years WKDD has raised over six Million dollars for Akron Children’s Hospital, which Patrick is especially proud of.

Matt Patrick’s Final broadcast on WKDD will air the morning of December 18, 2009 from 5:30am until 9am.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Out Of The Box On Tuesday

Yeah, we've hung onto a lot of items, though our Twitter feed has previewed one of them...

A SUNNY EXIT, AND ENTRANCE: Word spread quickly on Friday that Saga Columbus OM/PD Tony Florentino's contract was not being renewed, and sure enough, he exited the building shortly thereafter.

As it turns out, someone was waiting to take the job at the "Columbus Radio Group" stations, including AC powerhouse WSNY/94.7 "Sunny 95"...Cincinnati radio vet T.J. Holland heads up I-71 to take the Saga Columbus gig. (The Columbus group also includes Hot AC WVMX/107.9 "Mix 107.9", classic hits WODB/104.3 "Big Hits B104.3", and smooth jazz WJZA/103.5.)

Holland spent 14 years in Cincinnati at what used to be the Susquehanna cluster, which was swallowed into Cumulus Media Partners.

Among his programming experience that'll serve him well at Saga Columbus - oversight of AC WRRM "Warm 98", and hot AC WNNF "Frequency 94.1". He'd been director of programming for the Susquehanna-turned-CMP stations in Cincinnati from 2003 through March, when he lost his gig due to budget cuts.

What about Tony Florentino, now "on the beach", gig wise in Columbus?

We haven't heard a thing linking him to anything, but a reader helpfully reminds us that, as far as we know, Clear Channel Columbus is still looking for a PD for top 40 mainstay WNCI/97.9 and AC WLZT/93.3...of course, after Michael McCoy's exit to Detroit...

NEWSPAPERS...OUCH: It's pretty much been a fact these days...newspapers are losing readership by the thousands, and the slide is nowhere close to ending...if it will ever end.

Nowhere was that more apparent than the most recent numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the measuring stick officially used by publications to audit readership.

Newspaper trade bible "Editor and Publisher" weighs in:

On a comparable basis, ABC reported that for the 379 newspapers filing with the organization, average daily circulation plunged 10.6% to 30,395,652 -- one of the most severe drops in overall circulation. Sunday circulation for 562 reporting newspapers was down 7.4% to 40,012,253.

Locally, the "Top 25 Newspapers" list puts Cleveland's Plain Dealer at number 16 with a bullet - a bullet downward, as with the other papers, the PD showing a circulation drop of 11 percent weekdays (271,180 readers), and nearly 5 percent on Sunday (390,636 readers).

E&P points out that it's not just that readers are treating newsprint like it's coated in H1N1 flu... it notes that many of the papers are trimming non-core-paid distribution, and shrinking their distribution areas overall. So, if you can't find the Plain Dealer in a box in Western PA, that may be why...

NEWSPAPERS OUCH TWO: With the current state of the economy and the newspaper business, it may be no surprise to learn that another Northeast Ohio paper is plotting out salary cuts.

But the "17 percent" cut figure proposed by Akron Beacon Journal owner Black Press seems to have surprised just about everyone.

The plan first came to light courtesy of an E-mail to Beacon Journal union members, published at the Poynter Online journalism site in the popular column of Jim Romenesko:

Subject: The company isn't pleading poverty, but wants you to

Your Guild bargaining team met with the company Monday, where after 16 months the company revealed its economic proposal. The 19 issues in the proposal opened with the company re-nigging on a previous tentative agreement over severance pay and closed with a 17% pay cut. If you could think of a benefit you have now, it probably was included in the other 17 cuts.

A quick estimate by the Guild, according to figures supplied by the company, the cuts to wages and benefits combined would fall between 25 - 36 percent depending on your seniority and health care coverage.

This line, from Black Press negotiator Karen Lefton, caught the most flack:

When pushed on the issue by Guild staff representative Bruce Nelson, Lefton stated, "we are not saying we are not making a profit, we aren't pleading poverty." She went on to say that the company is not unable to pay at current levels, they just doesn't want to.

Rubber City Radio/1590 WAKR and its site went further, adding audio reaction from the Beacon's Stephanie Warsmith (reporter, and secretary for the Akron Newspaper Guild) and from Lefton, citing the decline in advertising revenue for the print industry...

WKBN UPGRADE: We haven't gotten official confirmation that the upgrade to New Vision CBS affiliate WKBN/27 Youngstown's signal is complete, but it would sure appear so from the OMW World Headquarters.

The Youngstown outlet is now reaching even deeper into the Cleveland market, after having moved its antenna "up top" on the station's tower. It was side-mounted before, due to the presence of analog channel 27's antenna on top.

With analog history as of last June, crews finally got up there and put the new, main, digital antenna on top. All the wiring was expected to be complete early Monday morning.

The new WKBN signal is not perfect here at the OMW World Headquarters, which is roughly 20 air miles from the Parma antenna farm. But it's the best it's ever been, and we figure with a semi-decent outdoor antenna, we'll probably get the station full-time now.

We don't expect such luck even with the planned 1000 kW upgrade to now-puny-sister station WYTV/33, Youngstown's ABC affiliate which is operated by New Vision in that deal with owner Parkin Broadcasting.

We're told that crews are headed there, next. But one thing we've learned is that "height is everything" in regards to digital TV signals, and even the upgraded WYTV antenna will not be nearly as high as WKBN's nearby facility. And height is important, if you're down in a valley, and hope to get any signal out of it.

No matter. We know the Youngstown signals are "bonuses" for those of us in the Cleveland market...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some Clarifications and Updates

Following along with some items that have popped up in the past few days...

SABO GONE: We don't know much more, but we can confirm that Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland "ESPN 850" has parted ways with producer/sidekick/update anchor Josh Sabo. (And no, that's not just because we've heard WKNR's Tony Rizzo say those exact words about three times now.)

We're getting very little information as to why, but it appears that it has nothing to do with any on-air comments or on-air performance.

As such, we're closing the books on this item...which mostly got attention because Sabo was a producer/contributor to WKNR's highest profile local show, "The Really Big Show" with WJW/8 "Fox 8" sports anchor Rizzo. Rizzo continues with co-host Aaron Goldhammer and update anchor Jeff Thomas.

We'll echo others...and say that this would be an excellent chance to give Jeff a greater on-air role in the 9 AM-noon program.

Though Jeff Thomas is still an "embedded" employee of Metro Networks, the company shuttering its Independence facility has put Jeff in the Galleria studios along with Rizzo and company...and it'd be interesting to see how his talents could be used more...

WKBN UPDATE: If you're one of those viewers on the fringes of New Vision Youngstown CBS affiliate WKBN/27 (like, say, us), and were disappointed that moving the station's digital antenna to the top of the tower didn't allow a signal lock last night, hold on.

Station chief engineer Tom Zocolo checks in with OMW, and passes along a detailed explanation he wrote up for a local message forum: there is still some new transmission line work to be done.

WKBN has rigged up a temporary line until the factory-made new line can be created and flown the station can stay on the air for the next few days. We're told that such a process is standard procedure in such antenna work.

With the work still in progress, Zocolo says that the WKBN facility has been operating at about 30 percent of its usual power, and will continue at that level until the final work is completed.

When will that be?

Checking the weather forecast - and even invoking "27 First News"' own meteorologist Don Guthrie - Zocolo says it looks like the final work will be done late Sunday night into Monday morning, from midnight to 5 AM.

Assuming all goes well, Monday morning should bring the stronger signal...though as noted before, WKBN's regular digital signal even before this move was picked up with very little difficulty by those in the core of the Mahoning Valley area.

In the explanation, WKBN's Zocolo also says sister-via-LMA WYTV/33's work is up next after WKBN's:

In this case, all of the old analog antenna and transmission line must first be removed from the tower before the new line and antenna can be installed. I have no estimate on the time frame because every bit of tower work is dependent upon the weather conditions.

Even when it’s not raining, high winds can stop work at the top of the tower. Just as an example, the crew has been on site at WKBN for a little over a month. We’ve needed about 10 good working days to get where we are right now…

Thank you, Tom, for writing all this up, and for forwarding it to us directly!

THE BSK SPEAKS: As hinted earlier, long-time Cleveland sports media personality Kendall Lewis has said his first words "on air" since suffering a stroke in recent weeks.

"The BSK"'s current job is as program director and afternoon drive host for Paul Belfi's Internet sports operation, and thus, his first post-stroke call was to STC's "Press Box Rants" show with Greg Kozarik.

You can hear Kendall's call via audio posted to this page.

To us, "The BSK" sounds like he could indeed resume his program soon, though he cautioned that he's still working on not only his voice, but other resulting problems from the stroke...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two More Upgrades

Mid-October is apparently the season for local TV and radio signal upgrades, and there are two more we haven't yet told you about.

Briefly before that: everyone short of the Cuyahoga County dog catcher has E-mailed us to let us know that producer/sidekick/update anchor Josh Sabo is apparently out at Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland "ESPN 850", at least according to an announcement made on the station's "Really Big Show with Tony Rizzo" earlier today.

We didn't hear the announcement, and as of yet, don't know any details about Sabo's apparent departure from the sports talk station. If we find out anything, we'll let you know.

For now, back to the technical facilities on the TV side, one on radio:

49 PLUS 70: A Cuyahoga County viewer E-mailed us late last week, wondering if Western Reserve PBS' WEAO/49 Akron had upgraded its digital over-air facilities on RF channel 50. He tells us he's seeing a stronger signal from the station.

No, you aren't imagining that, and it's not just temporary atmospheric conditions (or shedding leaves).

Our good friends over at Campus Center Drive in Kent tell us that indeed, WEAO lit up its post-transition "maximized" construction permit on October 15th. The upgrade pushes the Akron half of the Western Reserve PBS simulcast from 180 kW to 250 kW.

It's not the only facility upgrade for the public TV outlet.

OMW also hears that Youngstown viewers will get the digital replacement for the former analog translator on Channel 58, soon...with arrival and installation of the new digital Channel 44 translator (W44CR) expected within the next couple of weeks.

RADIO UPGRADE: Canton-based religious broadcaster WILB/1060 has lit up its upgraded facility.

The upgrade takes WILB "Living Bread Radio" from 5 kW to 15 kW, and gets it at least a chunk of Cuyahoga County.

Not like you'd know they realize that, from an announcement on the Living Bread Radio website:

Catholic Radio in Cleveland - AM 1060

AM 1060 WILB has expanded its coverage area from 1 million listeners to more than 2 million in Northeast Ohio. With the completion of a two year 15,000 watt signal upgrade project and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval of the upgrade AM 106(0) began transmitting at 15,000 watts on October 20, 2009.


We say hello to Cuyahoga County and surrounding areas after more than 5 years of transmitting the Word of God to Stark, Summit and Carroll Counties. Join us as we welcome Cleveland and the surrounding areas to our AM 1060 Radio Family.

They were in such a hurry to announce the upgrade, the Living Bread Radio folks grabbed another web page about another event, and blew past the spacebar a few times.

Of course, even with 15 kW of power, there are other problems for WILB.

First and foremost, it is and will always be a daytime station, at least as long as CBS Radio powerhouse KYW/1060 is around.

Second, even within the daytime parameters, WILB had to squeeze in next to other stations - like second adjacent WJTB/1040 North Ridgeville, and had to consider first adjacent CHOK/1070 Sarnia ONT, second adjacent WWNL/1080 Pittsburgh and the like.

(Our favorite part of the WILB construction permit application - the station showing that 1090 kHz wasn't a problem, since no station in the entire region will ever be authorized for 1090 with Clear Channel talk giant WTAM on 1100.)

We haven't been on the northern edge of the new WILB signal yet, and weren't really listeners before, anyway...but a quick radio check today easily shows a more powerful WILB than we remember hearing. A lot of times, these upgrades on the AM side aren't just about reaching new areas...they're about punching through the increased noise on the AM band...

AND TV RELATED RADIO: OMW hears that as scheduled, New Vision CBS affiliate WKBN-TV/27 Youngstown has turned off its transmitter today - to allow the move of its digital antenna to the top of the 1432 foot tower today.

The move from "side mount" to "top mount" could improve fringe area or nearby market reception of WKBN's digital signal, which also carries sister Fox affiliate "Fox Youngstown" on digital subchannel 27.2 (in high-definition, along with WKBN).

Those looking for the missing over-air CBS and Fox programming in Youngstown can find it on Time Warner Cable and Armstrong Cable, which are fed via fiber from the stations' Sunset Boulevard studios. We aren't in the market to check, but we'll assume the station is also continuing to feed the original low-power analog TV homes of Fox Youngstown programming - WYFX-LP 62 Youngstown and WFXI-CA 17 Mercer.

One thing we didn't mention earlier: the WKBN-TV antenna move today also affects a former sister station.

Yes, that's the former WKBN-FM on the WKBN-TV tower. Clear Channel Youngstown director of engineering John Clarke checks in with OMW about the status of WMXY/98.9:

WMXY's (original calls WKBN-FM) main antenna is located at the 1370 foot level on the South tower at Sunset Blvd, just below the top mount TV stick.

When the tower crew is within 100 feet of our main panel antenna, we move WMXY over to our Auxiliary antenna site on the 550 foot North tower.

We have been operating on the auxiliary antenna during the daytime hours most good weather days the last week...while they rig the tower for the move.

While we are operating at 25 KW ERP from the Auxiliary antenna, we lose some fringe coverage and no HD operation from the Auxiliary site.

So, if you're a bit far afield from Youngstown today and having trouble receiving the station now known as hot AC WMXY/98.9 "Mix 98.9", you'll know why.

One of our readers in Cleveland's Slavic Village area is asking if the WKBN-TV upgrade will get its signal into downtown Cleveland.

Well, probably not, we'd guess. We know people as far west as Parma who've been able to get the WKBN signal, but we'd be shocked if it was a regular visitor into downtown Cleveland.

More so than from Cleveland/Akron/Canton viewers, the WKBN upgrade today will likely be welcomed by in-market viewers in places like Mercer County PA...any reception we get over on this side of Youngstown, outside of its home market, is a sheer bonus...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On The Tuesday Radio Side

After an item chock full of digital TV news, it's time to expand our Tuesday diet to radio. And yes, we know. We know...the below.

KIM'S RETURN: Yes, you let us know by E-mail, by carrier pigeon, by taking out a billboard (well, almost).

That was indeed former Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 afternoon drive co-host Kim Mihalik on her former home station over the weekend, guest hosting the Clear Channel talk station's local Browns post-game coverage on Sunday afternoon.

(WTAM airs its own post-game show after Browns games - the network post-game call-in show airs on the FM flagship, rock-but-really-talk-considering-Rover-and-Maxwell WMMS/100.7.)

It's an on-air role that until this week was filled by WTAM sports talk host/Indians beat reporter Mark Schwab, who's since left "The Big One" for the weekend sports anchor role at Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19's "19 Action News".

It actually wasn't Kim's first on-air appearance on her former station, where she was let go in November 2005 for "budgetary reasons".

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) cut down on his Triv Diet many, many months ago, so we only occasionally check in with Mike Trivisonno's WTAM afternoon drive talk fest these days.

It was by sheer accident that we hit the button for WTAM on the OMW Mobile radio Friday, and heard Mihalik good naturedly bantering back and forth (by phone) with Triv about an "embarrassing" incident back when she was on the show.

If there was any leftover animosity between the two since her departure from Oak Tree in 2005, it wasn't showing on the air at all...though we had no idea at the time that she was about to do a fill-in sports talk stint that weekend.

After leaving WTAM, Mihalik was best known for her stint on the local post-Stern/David Lee Roth CBS Radio classic rock WNCX/98.5 morning drive show with Wynn "Mud" Richards and local radio vet and OMW reader Mike Olszewski. The 'NCX morning slot is now filled by host Scott Miller and comedian Jeff Blanchard.

Kim also did some TV work for Fox Sports Ohio's "Cleveland Rants", back when that show still existed.

Is she in line for a regular return to WTAM? That's the question on readers' minds, if our E-mail is any indication.

There is an opening at 1100, after all...but would the former Triv co-host be in the consideration for Mark Schwab's former position as Indians beat reporter and sports host?

For the moment, we don't know the answer to that question - from either side of the ledger.

We get the idea that for now, at least, Mihalik is just helping out the short staffed WTAM sports department with some weekend fill-in...

SPEAKING OF SPORTS: OMW has very much covered the march of spoken word formats to the FM dial, such as news/talk and sports. We've also tried to cover the use of FM translators to provide better "fill-in" coverage for AM stations, a practice which is now officially in the FCC rules.

This one covers both.

Gunther Meisse's WRGM/1440 Ontario, the Mansfield area's ESPN Radio affiliate, has now lit up an FM signal on 97.3.

From the story (dated October 15th) on WRGM sister TV station WMFD/68's website:

Today, WRGM AM1440 has begun simulcasting on 97.3FM in Mansfield, Ontario and Lexington to over 70,000 people. This makes WRGM AM1440 / 97.3FM the First FM sports station in the market.

97.3 is legally W247BL/Crestline, a 120 watt translator Meisse's group bought from Mansfield Christian School - owners of Christian contemporary WVMC/90.7 - a while back.

The FCC has been granting special temporary authority for AM stations in certain conditions (low power or directional night signal, etc.) to use FM translators as "fill-ins" to the anemic AM signal. As of earlier this month, what had been a piecemeal policy - STA by STA - is now reality in FCC rules.

WRGM would certainly qualify, signal wise.

The 1000 watt daytime signal on 1440 is highly directional, but serviceable for most of the Mansfield area...with some notable exceptions north and east of the WRGM tower.

But there are holes-a-plenty in WRGM's 28 watt (!) nighttime signal, and many of them not at all far from the Meisse complex on Park Avenue West in Mansfield.

The 120 watt signal of W247BL/97.3 Crestline eminates from that Meisse tower on Park Avenue West, and when you consider that mono programming will eliminate "stereo flutter" on the edges of the signal, it should cover a decent chunk of the immediate Richland County area.

Meisse also owns AC WVNO/106.1 "Mix 106", as well as the aforementioned WMFD/68 and its low-power sister station/WMFD subchannel WOHZ-CA/41, which mostly features classified advertising text, weather information and WVNO's audio...

Digital TV Activities

Suddenly, the over-air digital TV scene is as nearly as active in Northeast Ohio as it was in the days before the analog TV shutoff, back on June 12th...

A 19 UPGRADE: OMW hears, third-hand, that Raycom Media Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19 has completed an interim digital signal upgrade.

We're told that last Wednesday, WOIO's engineers nearly tripled the power coming out of the station's transmission system - with a power level of 9.5 kW. WOIO's digital signal has been pumping out just 3.5 kW since it first signed on. The FCC granted the temporary signal upgrade late last month.

Though even the 9.5 kW signal is modest for high VHF broadcasting - remember, many other VHF stations nationwide are asking for many times that, and WOIO continues to use interference-plagued RF channel 10 - the move returned "Cleveland's CBS 19" to full-time over-air reception on our best digital TV over-air setup here at OMW World Headquarters, about 20 miles as the Digital Crow flies from the Parma antenna farm.

We're told by an OMW reader in New London OH, a small outpost between Ashland and Norwalk on the western fringe of the Cleveland TV market, that the new signal gives him at least a chance at catching WOIO on a regular basis. Of course, that far away, our reader isn't using a modest indoor antenna aimed out a second floor window like we use here.

Again, note the word "interim" in regards to the 9.5 kW WOIO signal. It'll help the station reach some more viewers, particularly in the immediate Cleveland-Akron area, but it's not the long term plan.

OMW hears that Raycom does hope to eventually camp out WOIO on a UHF digital RF channel.

For various reasons, explained here on OMW by's Trip Ericson a few weeks ago, WOIO can't "just go back" to RF channel 19. The station seems resigned to how long the process may take.

Though some other Raycom stations (and others) have already made some similar changes, Alabama-based Raycom is a group that mostly has stations south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Nearly all the other Raycom outlets don't have to deal with something WOIO has to consider - Canadian allocations.

While getting its Cleveland market CBS affiliate off of RF channel 10 - occupied by pesky lil' big Canadian outlet CFPL/10 - is presumably a priority for the engineering folks at Reserve Square, other new allocations have to consider Canada as well.

And the Canadians have a habit of hanging onto unused allocations, or those no longer used, and "notifying" them to the U.S., so U.S. stations won't camp out there in the future.

For the nonce, let us know if you've been getting an improved WOIO/19 over-air signal since about Wednesday night...

AND ANOTHER UPGRADE: A CBS affiliate that Cleveland market over-air viewers often seek out as an alternative station is making its final digital moves.

New Vision's WKBN/27 Youngstown is preparing to "top mount" its digital TV antenna this week, according to this story on the "27 First News" website:

At about 8am Wednesday, the antenna used to broadcast WKBN-TV and FOX Youngstown will be turned off for about 12 hours.

A crew is going to remove the 4,000 lb. analog antenna from the top of the tower, lower it to the ground, and mount the digital antenna in its place. The work, if all goes as planned, will take about 12 hours.

WKBN/WYFX helpfully remind viewers that while the antennas are being moved, over-air viewers will lose the station's signal for about 12 hours. The station has fiber connections to Time Warner Cable and Armstrong Cable, so those viewers will continue to be able to watch during the antenna moves.

The station hints that viewers in places on the edge of the signal, like perhaps the OMW World Headquarters, could see improvements:

Until now, the digital antenna has been on a side mount several hundred feet below the top of the tower. The additional height should improve the digital signal, probably to be noticed only by those viewers in fringe areas.

For the nonce, WKBN's digital signal is the most powerful in the Youngstown market, even from that "side mount" location. Moving the antenna up could well help the signal get further out of the Mahoning Valley...very few people in the Valley have any trouble picking up WKBN-TV.

OMW readers know that New Vision has been, recently, transmitting WYFX's "Fox Youngstown" signal in HD format via WKBN subchannel 27.2. This will probably give some fringe area viewers (again, maybe folks in part of the Cleveland market) an alternative should they have problems receiving another "VHF Nightmare" station, Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 in Cleveland.

And last time we were in the Valley, with a digital TV tuner, New Vision was still pumping out "Fox Youngstown" from its original over-air home, LPTV outlet WYFX-LP/62 Youngstown. (And we presume, though we couldn't get it from our location, sister WFXI-CA/17 Mercer PA.)

Those who don't have Time Warner or Armstrong cable, but an analog TV tuner, would presumably have those signals as an alternative to the off-air Fox Youngstown signal via digital WKBN-TV during the 12 hour work window on Wednesday...

AND ANOTHER UPGRADE: Back in Cleveland, Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 is notifying viewers of its own antenna work.

WEWS has never been one of the Cleveland market's Digital Problem Children. It operated at 870 kW, 285 meters above average terrain for many years before the digital TV transition in June, and eventually will offer a 1000 kW signal from an antenna 310 meters above average terrain.

Until that final signal goes on, the station found a lower spot on a nearby tower, and is operating at a paltry, anemic, puny signal level of 843 kW, 191 meters above average terrain. It's a wonder you can pick up the station outside Parma!

Of course, that last paragraph is an attempt at Digital TV Humor. We bet very few have noticed a lower signal out of WEWS's temporary facility, especially in the core of the Cleveland-Akron TV market.

FCC rules require WEWS to notify viewers who may have difficulty picking up the temporary signal, so the station has done so both on the air and by posting a link to this FCC map of the signal on the station's website.

The map shows a comparison between the now-gone WEWS/5 analog signal, and the STA for the temporary digital signal. The orange and red symbols represent viewer loss in places like Mansfield and Ashtabula, though the new 1000 kW higher antenna would presumably fix much of that.

The new facility, with both increased power and height, could also gain WEWS some more over-air viewers on the fringe of the Cleveland market, or even in parts of the Youngstown market.

Those who have cable or satellite have been reading the above, and wondering how it affects you.

Well, if you're an NFL football fan, being able to pick up WKBN's digital signal in the Cleveland market could give you more game options, as WKBN (CBS) and WYFX (Fox) don't always carry the same games that Cleveland's WOIO (CBS) and WJW (Fox) carry.

It won't help you avoid any potential Cleveland Browns home blackouts, since the Youngstown market has always been included in the NFL's "blackout zone" for the Browns (the Youngstown signals land well within the 75 mile blackout radius), but perhaps you'll get more variety in other games...

AND FINALLY: In this busy digital TV item, a note that a new signal has popped up for a few Cleveland market viewers.

It's the market's first low-power digital TV station - Daystar's WCDN-LD 53.1/53.2, which is the replacement for now-former analog LPTVer WCDN-LP/53.

Yes, Daystar is a prominent religious TV operator that has a mixed collection of full-power and low-power TV "O&O's". It even squeezed itself onto the subchannel of a public TV station in Orange County CA (KOCE) after its controversial bid to buy the station fell through.

OMW hears that in addition to its own Daystar religious programming on 53.1, WCDN-LD is also offering the Home Shopping Network feed on 53.2 - programming we believe is also carried on analog LPTVer WXOX-LP/65. (Maybe the Daystar folks got an idea from what they had to do at KOCE, and are leasing out 53.2 to WXOX?)

Though WCDN-LD is well-situated on the WBNX-TV tower in Parma - 338 meters above average terrain - it is still a low-power station, putting just 300 watts into the air in its digital form, which lives on RF channel 7.

Thus, it's no surprise to us that we haven't been able to receive its signal some 20 miles out from the Parma antenna farm.

Some may be wondering how WCDN-LD is able to squeeze onto new digital RF channel 7, when Local TV Fox affiliate WJW is on RF channel 8. We're told you can do that, as long as the two signals are basically coming from the same area.

WJW's facility, of course, is not far away in Parma...and back when WJW-DT was using RF channel 31, it sat comfortably next to WBNX-DT's RF channel 30 facility...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

All Sorts of Things

So, it's a dreary, rainy mid-October day...what better day to stay inside and update the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)?

NEW TWC HD: As expected, as earlier announced and as confirmed by OMW, Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio system has added 10 new HD channels for its subscribers.

The list, courtesy of a TWC press release:

Biography HD – 469
Cartoon Network HD – 459
Disney XD HD – 457
Outdoor HD – 481
Turner Classic Movies HD – 465
Fox Business News HD – 488
Style HD – 468
Headline News HD – 484
E! HD – 467
Hallmark Movie Channel HD – 461

The following HD channels have moved:

Palladia HD – 470
Universal HD – 496
Smithsonian HD – 497
MavTV HD – 498
MGM HD – 499

The company says it's now added over 30 HD channels in the Northeast Ohio footprint, with more to come through the end of the year. They've already listed some scheduled to show up November 4th (see our earlier reporting on this for more).

In addition, Hallmark Movies has been added in standard definition on channel 117.

In what may basically mean nothing to local Time Warner Cable subscribers, the Northeast Ohio system is being reconfigured into two service areas with two new VPs, says Multichannel News:

The division has been reorganized into two service areas: Metro, encompassing greater Akron and Cleveland; and Suburban, comprising the outer belt of the division, including Erie, Penn., south through Youngstown, west to Mansfield and north to Port Clinton.

We'll make an assumption not made in the trade site's article: "Metro" would certainly also include Canton along with Cleveland and Akron, since the Akron/Canton areas have been joined at the hip for decades, and TWC handles many Akron operations out of its North Canton headend. In our assumption, the new "Suburban" division would take in the former Adelphia systems in Dover/New Philadelphia, south of Canton.

The report says TWC has two new vice presidents of technical operations under new regional VP/operations Vin Zachariah: Scott Miller - overseeing the new Metro division - and Rick Whaley - overseeing the new suburban division.

Again, it may or may not mean anything to subscribers...but an eagle eyed reader pointed it out, so we're passing it along...

THE BSK IS COMING ALONG: OMW reported that long-time Cleveland sports media personality Kendall Lewis suffered a stroke in September, sidelining him from his afternoon drive duties at Paul Belfi's Internet sports talk site

The former WKNR sports talk host has also been program director for the STC sports website, but has been spending the past few weeks recovering, medically.

The news on that front is good, STC's Belfi tells OMW that "The BSK" is doing "fantastic":

He looks great, and sounds spectacular. He set a personal date of coming back on the air on the 1st of the year, but it is looking more like he will be back with us in November - his rehab has gone that well. The rehab has been extremely aggressive, as he is determined to be back 100%, and the hard work is paying big dividends.

Belfi tells us that Kendall is expected to be released from the hospital this Friday, and is expected to call into STC "sometime next week"...and thanks everyone for their calls and E-mails...

AND MORE SPORTS: With Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland losing sports host/Indians beat reporter Mark Schwab to the weekend sports anchor gig at Raycom Media CBS/MyNetwork TV combo WOIO/19-WUAB/43's "19 Action News", they need to replace him.

So yes, we've seen the WTAM ad for Schwab's opening. In fact, it was our first clue that he would eventually leave the station.

For those who need it, we're reprinting the ad below. Or, you could just walk down Oak Tree Boulevard wearing an Indians uniform, and shout "Ray!!!! Ray!!! HIRE ME!!!" into a bullhorn...

Newsradio WTAM 1100 offers a full time opportunity in sports as the Indians beat reporter. Additional duties include hosting sports talk shows, anchoring sportscats and maintaining sports pages on Email short MP3 demo and resume to (ray - at - wtam - dot - com) or send resume and CD demo to: WTAM, Ray Davis, 6200 Oak Tree Blvd, #400, Independence, OH 44131. Clear Channel Communications is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

PHIL'S GANG IS BACK: It isn't really a local item per se, but Talk Radio Network syndicated host Phil Hendrie claims at least two affiliates in Northeast Ohio - Clear Channel talkers WHLO/640 Akron and WKBN/570 Youngstown.

The show that's been heard on those stations has been a fairly straightforward talk show, with Hendrie weighing in the issues of the day and sharing his thoughts and opinions with listeners.

For many listeners who heard Hendrie in his show's previous incarnation, syndicated by Premiere Radio, there was something missing.

You know, people like Bobbie Dooley, Ted Bell and Bud Dickman. These "far out" regular guests of Hendrie's original show existed solely in the mind Phil Hendrie, who used fancy phone shuttling to give a voice to these people...and to frustrate real life callers who thought they really existed, and who argued with them on the show because their viewpoints were so ridiculous.

Well, "they're baaaaaaaack!"

What the Los Angeles-based host says is the "rebirth" of his TRN show started this week. As a promo on WKBN says, "either you get it, or it gets you!".

The general idea is that among the vast amount of very intelligent people who listen to talk radio, some might take this "hook, line and sinker", and make for very entertaining "foils" to Phil's made-up cast of characters. (The show has never made a secret of the practice...even in Phil's days with Premiere, the host would occasionally break down that proverbial "fourth wall" with listeners.)

If you've ever worked behind the scenes in talk radio, you might recognize callers who berate you because your station decided to run a college basketball game instead of the regular airing of "The Michael Savage Show"...strongly yelling that your station is endangering the Future of the Republic by preempting Mr. Savage with a mere sporting event.

It's callers like that which will ensure a steady base of Outraged Citizens, taking Bobbie Dooley to task over some wild statement she's made about society...

SPEAKING OF WKBN: We heard the Hendrie promo on WKBN earlier today, right before the last 15 minutes of a show guest hosted by former Mahoning Valley congressman/released convicted felon Jim Traficant.

Are we getting to the point where Jim Traficant doing talk radio fill-in is "routine" now?

Jimbo's first post-prison "guest host" appearance did still have a reason - regular mid-morning host/WKBN program director Dan Rivers had a travel day to a talk radio event in Washington DC.

But with speculation about Traficant's future, either politicially or in the talk radio arena, it was also certainly a chance for Clear Channel Youngstown market manager/OMW reader Bill Kelly to strike while the iron was hot...and get the ex-con/ex-congressman in the spotlight along with his talk radio station. Oh, and warm his pipes up for future radio hosting appearances.

This time, there was no hype, no publicity...Traficant was really "just filling in" for Rivers, as just another fill-in host. And unfortunately, not because of good news.

We don't know why Dan Rivers wasn't doing his show today, but the former congressman subbing for him expressed his "condolences to the Rivers family", briefly, at the end of the show. That doesn't sound good, so we pass along our own condolences to Dan and his family for whatever has happened...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Returning With A Full Basket

As we officially exit from our latest hiatus (is there a ceremony we have to do or something?), news from every corner of our media world is breaking out. And if there's breaking media news, we're here to fix it...

RATINGS CURRENCY: We've heard for a few weeks now that Arbitron's Portable People Meters, the electronic future of radio audience measurement, were filtering into the Cleveland market.

And we've heard for months that the PPMs will basically "change everything" when it comes to radio ratings. Large companies, especially, have been notoriously quick to jump on PPM results in format changes - PPM results are credited - at least in part - with the ascent of sports radio and top 40 in the CBS Radio stable, and the decline of smooth jazz just about everywhere.

But we now know when PPM "goes live" in Cleveland.

From AllAccess this morning:

On DECEMBER 31st, 2009, ARBITRON plans to commercialize the PPM radio ratings service in PORTLAND, OREGON, SACRAMENTO, CINCINNATI, CLEVELAND, SALT LAKE CITY-OGDEN-PROVO, SAN ANTONIO, KANSAS CITY and LAS VEGAS with the release of the DECEMBER PPM survey report (NOVEMBER 12th - DECEMBER 9th).

(Yes, Jeremy at Tri-State Media Watch in the Cincinnati area, this one's for you, too.)

"Commercialize" means that the December monthly report will be the first where PPM-generated ratings become "currency" here for Arbitron...the meters are around now and are in use, but starting with that report, they call the ratings shots in Cleveland, and the paper diaries are consigned to history.

Speaking of those diary-driven ratings, we don't spend a lot of time here dissecting the publicly-available "12 plus"/"beauty contest" numbers, but there's not usually a lot of news out of them in Cleveland.

The most recent Summer 2009 numbers show a familiar one-two pairing of Clear Channel's talk WTAM/1100 and country WGAR/99.5. In nearby Akron, that one-two pairing is Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 and Rubber City Radio country WQMX/94.9, not at all a surprising occurence. We're wondering how, or if, those "usual results" will be affected by the PPMs.

With a regular OMW reader who knows music formats better than we do, we kicked around some interesting thoughts regarding Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting smooth jazz WNWV/107.3 Elyria, the Cleveland market's long-time smooth jazz mainstay, and how it can survive when PPM results aren't friendly to the format (CBS recently canned its Detroit smooth jazz station for a top 40 format, and that's only the most recent example).

It's our reader's contention that WNWV has already started tweaking with more AC titles, and perhaps finds a future where it's closer to being a direct competitor with CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 than it's ever been. We'll see.

But don't be surprised if the PPM ratings cause further tweaking throughout the Cleveland way or the other...

JOE BOXER TO DC: Though it's already been posted on AllAccess and other radio trade sites, we also knew Monday about the exit of Clear Channel country WCOL/92.3 Columbus mainstay Joe Boxer for Clear Channel sister country outlet WMZQ/98.7 Washington DC.

The WCOL afternoon driver heads to WMZQ for morning drive starting October 26th.

In fact, Joe has had quite a busy schedule, even for a Clear Channel voicetracker. The list is literally too long to reproduce here, but he's been heard on dozens of CC stations as close as Findlay, and as far as San Diego.

And he now voices afternoon drive for the company's Mainstream Country feed in the new Premium Choice service. That's not even mentioning his local presence in sister top 40 WNCI/97.9's midday shift.

For now, he'll also voicetrack back into his afternoon drive shift on WCOL. It sounds like that may be a short term plan.

OMW hears that Joe Boxer has been with WCOL since February, 1999.

When Mr. Boxer heads to the Nation's Capitol, he'll find many ties to Ohio.

WMZQ program director Meg Stevens is the former program director of Clear Channel Cleveland country giant WGAR/99.5. And WMZQ's evening personality is Northern Ohio's own Kat Jackson, who is also still heard in evenings on WGAR. Oh, and WMZQ/WPOC-Baltimore's "Michael J." also voicetracks back to WGAR. There are other WMZQ-Ohio ties that we're sure we've missed...

STARTING OVER STARTING: Worth a brief mention, and "first impression"...Time Warner Cable's "Start Over" video service has made its way to the OMW World Headquarters, in the former Adelphia/Cleveland service area.

We've gotten scattered other user reports that it's live for many of our readers, as well.

Our first impressions are mostly positive, though there are some quirks.

For one, we had to dig up our Time Warner-issued cable box remote.

The universal remote we use does have the "SELECT" button that prompts the box to go back to the beginning of a "Start Over" enabled show. But the universal remote doesn't have, as far as we can determine, a mapped equivalent of the cable-remote-only red "C" button that is used to exit a "Start Over" playback in progress.

Though you can use the remote's Pause button to pause the program being played back, you can't use the Fast Forward button like you could if you'd used a DVR or TiVo to record the show, even if you're "back at the beginning". Of course, the selling point with "Start Over" is that you don't have to think about pre-recording a show if you stumble into it in the middle.

The number of "Start Over"-enabled shows on channels with the feature seems to vary. Late one night, we were even able to use the feature on random infomercials on some channels (!), but not on mainstream shows you'd expect would be covered on other (enabled) channels. We'd expect that this will mostly "fill in" soon...

CONDOLENCES: We mentioned it on our Twitter feed, and repeat it here.

Ohio radio/TV news veteran Mike Partin passed away over the weekend at the very young age of 42.

Partin was heard in Northeast Ohio doing news on stations like former-WZLE/104.9 Lorain (now classical WCLV) and Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 in Cleveland.

Partin's most recent job was as an assignment editor at Dispatch CBS affiliate WBNS/10 and sister cable channel Ohio News Network in Columbus. He came to WBNS/ONN in June from WHIZ Media Group in Zanesville, home of WHIZ/1240-WHIZ-FM/92.7 and WHIZ-TV/18, and also worked for Grant Hafley's Cambridge-based six station cluster known as AVC Communications.

But like a lot of people who "move on" from small markets like Zanesville in this business, he didn't forget what he left behind.

The Associated Press article on Partin's death says according to his wife, he passed away early Saturday morning after calling a high school football game for his former Zanesville employer. His death is believed to have resulted from natural causes.

The folks at WHIZ are remembering Partin as well, in a very personal way.

And they pass along word in the article linked here of arrangements:

Mike's going home celebration will be held Tuesday at Christian Life Center in Heath from two to four p.m. and six to eight p.m.

His funeral service will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the same location.

Also remembering Mike Partin are Ohio's Associated Press broadcasters. Partin was a two-time past president of the organization...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Weekend Cleanup Post

As usually happens when we go "on hiatus" here at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), media news happens. It's an indisputable Law of OMW...if we push away the keyboard, the flood comes in, and that's already the case this time around.

So, though we're still trying to "stay away", let's briefly expand on the two items that we've popped onto our Twitter feed.

And again, you don't even have to access our page directly...they show up over there to the left of the main scroll here. Just keep watching that area, even if we're not "back" for a while...

SCHWABBIE TO 19: As reported in the earlier tweet, Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Indians beat reporter/sports talk host Mark Schwab is leaving Oak Tree, heading for a new and fulfilling life in the basement of Reserve Square.

OK, so we poke a lot of fun at Cleveland's alleged CBS affiliate - poking that they apparently can't take in good humor, given actions like blocking us from following their Twitter feed.

But Raycom's WOIO/19-WUAB/43 and its "19 Action News" made a very good hire here...bringing on the WTAM veteran to take over the open weekend sports anchor job, a full-time role that includes sports reporting during the week.

And though we have a lot of fun with some of their more outrageous stunts or actions, or the fact you can't pick up their over-air signal in much of Cleveland and Akron without major antenna help, we also feel we really do try to be fair (first? everywhere?) with the folks at Reserve Square when they do things that they should be lauded for.

Long-time OMW readers know that we've always liked Mark Schwab's work. We've always considered him to be one of the more underutilized players in Cleveland sports media, and thought he was ready for a "prime time" role long ago.

Moving from 1100 to 19/43, Mark will bring both professionalism and personality to the "19 Action News" weekend sports desk.

Yes, the CBS/MyNet combo's newscasts sometimes resemble a three ring circus, or an out of control carnival. But the sports department is "the toy department of life", and some pizazz and personality goes a long way.

(No, not Charlie Minn-style pizazz. That's just clowning.)

Of course, Mark Schwab technically replaces another now-former Reserve Square type with ties to Mark's soon-to-be-former radio station...and Chuck Galeti has continued to fill in on WTAM, for afternoon drive host Mike Trivisonno, after leaving "Action News".

As for the fate of recent "Action News" weekend sports fill-in Sue Ann Robak, we stumbled upon this - buried in a recent Plain Dealer feature article on dozens of people looking for work in Greater Cleveland:

Update September 2009: Working freelance

Robak is freelancing at WOIO Channel 19. "It's a lot harder than I thought to find work in television. I'm grateful to Channel 19 for the freelance opportunity I have now. I had contemplated changing careers and going back to school to pursue teaching, but I decided to stick it out longer in search of full-time TV work because this is what I love to do."

We wonder if Sue Ann is going to continue to search for full-time TV work, or if she'll pursue a career change. We also presume she could continue to do freelance work for SportsTime Ohio...or offer her services to continue to fill-in at Reserve Square for sports director Tony Zarella or for Schwab...

TWC WORRIES: Those actively looking for new HDTV offerings on Northeast Ohio's Time Warner Cable system don't just turn here looking for news.

They watch - like a hawk - the legal "Programming Notices" page which appears on the company's website.

Recently, Time Warner Cable changed the format of this page, so it now directly reproduces the legal notices filed for each newspaper in the TWC NEO service area.

And these notices were recently updated to remove a list of HDTV channels we reported would be added to the company's local systems on (/or after) October 15th and November 4th.

Panic visited the land! "They're turning back on their promise!", people shouted, jumping to conclusions like it was an event in the upcoming Vancouver Olympics.

And yes, they shouted that to the OMW Mailbox. We can only imagine what the Time Warner customer service reps heard.

So, we checked in with sources at Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio offices, and we're here to tell you - straight out of the book/radio series/movie "Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy" - "Don't panic!" (Oh, and carry a towel.) (The towel is optional.)

Our sources at Northeast Ohio's cable TV giant tell us that they are still "on target" for the previously listed channels to appear October 15th (/or after) and November 4th (/or after).

Copying from our previous entries, to put the list in one convenient place:

(On or after October 15th)

The following channels will be added to standard HD: Cartoon HD, TCM HD, HLN HD, E! HD;

The following channels will be added to HD for customers with the Digital Basic Tier: Biography HD, Disney SX HD, Outdoor HD, Fox Business News HD, Style HD, Hallmark Movies HD

The following changes are planned on or after November 4, 2009:

The Weather Channel HD will be added to standard HD.

The following channels will be added to HD with carriage level varying by area: WE HD and TV One HD.

The following channels will be added to HD for customers with the Digital Basic Tier: Planet Green HD, IFC HD and Fuse HD.

The following channels will be added to HD for customers with the Digital Sports Tier: NHL Network HD, Tennis Channel HD and CBS College Sports HD.

These HD channel additions have MOSTLY been "on time" in recent months, give or take a couple of delays of a few days to a few that's why the "/or after" above.

But we're told viewers shouldn't worry...and that the absence of the previously listed channels on the new legal notices doesn't mean they are not coming....

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Gone Fishing

Yes, it's that time again.

OMW is now officially on hiatus until the middle of next week, likely Tuesday or Wednesday.

As usual on hiatus, we will try to pass along at least short updates on any major breaking media news stories that we hear about, especially in our core area of Northeast Ohio. That includes, but is not limited to, major radio or TV personality changes, radio format changes, station ownership changes or anything of that nature.

We may occasionally pop in via our Twitter feed, but not for any extended updates until next week. Of course, that feed is also seen to the left of this scroll.

Have a great weekend, and we'll see you next week...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

They Meant Toledo Radio

With the hat tip to long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush and this week's Radio Journal, we're passing along word that the Toledo market could be getting a new FM radio station.

The proposed move-in is no surprise: BAS Broadcasting AC WPFX-FM/107.7 North Baltimore has filed with the FCC to move to a very Luckey city of license. (Sorry, Scott...we couldn't resist the pun, either.)

Luckey, Ohio, that is...and a quick look at the map puts that small town just north of Pemberville in extreme northern Wood County...right on the border with Lucas County. Pemberville, of course, is where Clear Channel country WCKY-FM/103.7 landed on the COL Map after "moving" from its original home of Tiffin.

The application for WPFX specifies a 5.2kW facility along I-75 just north of Bowling Green, with a 60 dBu city grade signal that cuts off just north of downtown Toledo, and just south of the suburb of Oregon. The resulting signal should prove to be a serviceable class A rimshot for the Toledo market.

You can take a gander at the predicted city grade signal on this map from the FCC application.

The station recently returned to the air after signing off... and BAS is now keeping the signal warm by simulcasting co-owned AC WFRO-FM/99.1 Fremont "Eagle 99".

Ah, but BAS has no plan to operate WPFX in Toledo.

Long-time readers will recall that BAS sold the station to Toledo Radio, LLC, a group headed by former Toledo market owner Dan Dudley and attorney Phil Dombrey. The sale was approved in 2008, but has not yet closed.

Fear not, says BAS in the application to move 107.7 to Luckey, Ohio:



That's 30 days from September 14th, so presumably, the closing by Toledo Radio should happen soon.

The move will obviously not be approved by then, so the station will continue to operate from the North Baltimore facility...our guess as a continued simulcast of BAS' WFRO-FM through some sort of short term reverse LMA, much like BAS continues to operate WTTF/1600 Tiffin for its new owner, syndicated talk radio host Doug Stephan's Tiffin Broadcasting LLC.

Again, as noted by the subject header here, it's no surprise that Dudley and Dombrey want to move WPFX north...based solely upon the company name they used to make the acquisition. It's not North Baltimore Radio, LLC, after all...

Danny Lands New Gig

Veteran Cleveland radio personality Danny Wright is returning to nationally syndicated radio, and with the help of some other Clevelanders.

Yes, it's Beachwood-based Envision Radio Networks that has officially announced Danny's latest gig - a syndicated weekend show called "The Live Ride". From a press release by the locally-based syndicator:

Envision Radio Networks® is pleased to announce the launch of The Live Ride, a new weekly radio show hosted by country radio veteran Danny Wright.

The Live Ride brings a two hour weekly “concert” to country radio featuring live performances from today’s brightest stars.

Program host Danny Wright punctuates each show with the latest country news, concert information and artist/band interviews.

Danny, the former Clear Channel country WGAR/99.5 Cleveland afternoon drive personality known earlier in his career as "Dancin'" Danny Wright at top 40 then-WGCL/98.5 "G98", spent much of the past decade fronting Jones Radio's overnight nationally syndicated daypart program "All Night with Danny Wright".

It was heard in parts of his former market via Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting country WKFM/96.1 Huron, and on other regional stations, along with hundreds of others nationwide.

Shortly after Jones merged into Dial Global, the new company cancelled "All Night" after a long, successful a spate of consolidation very familiar to those in this business.

Quoting Wright from the release:

“This should be fun - A show that stands out with live cuts combined with my goofy personality? Sign me up! I look forward to entertaining listeners with this unique show and working with Envision makes it all that much better. See you on The Ride!”

Now, as far as we know, Danny is still at least an occasional OMW reader...from his current home in the Seattle area.

For that matter, so is Envision's Matt Wardlaw, who is your point of contact if you're a radio station hoping to sign up Danny's new show. (See the above linked press release for more.)

Our hearty congratulations to Danny on this project, and here's hoping it leads to even more success...

Outside Our Area, But...

Occasionally, we feature items from outside the main OMW Coverage Area...but with comments relating the items to things that could happen here. This is one of those collections...

SMOOTH JAZZ LOSES ANOTHER: The ailing smooth jazz format has lost another big city outlet.

This time, it's CBS Radio's WVMV/98.7 Detroit, which stopped playing smooth jazz Friday. After a bit of weekend stunting, it's carrying one of CBS' current pet formats - top 40, under the moniker "98.7 AMP Radio".

That's the same on-air name adopted by CBS Radio's former FM talker in Los Angeles, KLSX/97.1, when it moved to top 40.

CBS also uses "Now" as a top 40 format name, at one-time Howard Stern/Opie and Anthony flagship WXRK/92.3, the station formerly known as "K-Rock". (We'll give you some time to sort out the call letter/slogan relationship with 92.3 in the Cleveland market. You may use the search box at the top of OMW for your answer quest.)

CBS' other big "pet" format is FM sports talk, which has seen great success on another CBS Detroit station, WXYT-FM/97.1 "The Fan".

Smooth jazz is in peril nationwide because it apparently doesn't fare well at all in the Portable People Meter ratings, and PPM measurement is just now getting underway in Northeast Ohio.

That's where the smooth jazz format has a long mainstay - Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting's WNWV/107.3 Elyria "The Wave", which has presumably made a boatload of money off of the upscale format in the Cleveland market over the years.

The move in Detroit, along with earlier smooth jazz shutdowns in markets like Chicago, has many wondering how long WNWV can hang on.

There are different factors here.

For one, ELB is a small, local ownership company that doesn't have a roster of pet "new" formats like CBS does. If 107.3's smooth jazz format falls out of the bottom of the PPM ratings, the folks in Elyria don't have backup plan B on a hard drive somewhere....well, aside from whatever they're doing these days on the HD2 signal of 107.3.

We tend to think "The Wave" will hang in there as long as it is able to do so, given the unique situation of its parent company. And even in the depressed advertising market, WNWV may be making more money than the company's two daily newspapers in Elyria and Medina...

NOT HERE: When the sale of three urban-targetted Pittsburgh radio stations to a Catholic broadcaster made news, it had a little impact on the southeastern edge of our coverage area.

That's because in recent years, legendary Pittsburgh market urban outlet WAMO-FM had been on a frequency that reached a decent chunk of the Pennsylvania side of the Youngstown radio market - 106.7 FM, licensed to Beaver Falls PA. Folks in Youngstown-centric suburbs like New Castle and Sharon had little trouble picking it up.

It's now silent, because new owner Saint Joseph Missions has yet to finish replacement studios to operate WAMO-FM, and its AM sisters, with Catholic-oriented programming.

With much fanfare, former WPTT/22 owner Eddie Edwards Sr. announced that he'd bought a station to help fill the void in programming aimed at Pittsburgh's African-American community.

Surely, the message board wags thought, he'd pry one of the big signal FMs from Clear Channel, Keymarket or whoever, and remount WAMO-FM's youth-oriented urban format.

Uh, not quite.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Edwards is buying Langer Broadcasting talk WPYT/660 Wilkinsburg PA, a 1400 watt daytimer with no night authorization. The P-G writes that Edwards "plans to launch a news and talk format aimed primarily at the African-American community."

So, instead of a replacement for WAMO-FM, it appears he's mounting a replacement for WAMO-AM 860, which most recently was running gospel, but has run a number of urban talk programs over the years (including one hosted by Pittsburgh's own Bev Smith).

The P-G's Adrian McCoy writes:

Mr. Edwards called the WPYT acquisition the first step in that process. He also hopes to buy an FM station that would have a classic R&B music format targeted at older listeners.

So, even with an FM station on his shopping doesn't appear Edwards is trying for younger listeners looking for hip-hop music that once aired on 106.7 FM.

Of course, African-American listeners in the Youngstown market are served by stations like Bernard Radio's WRBP/101.9 Hubbard "The Beat", which we believe is also closer to an urban AC...

TOLEDO OPENING: Reprinting this opening at a Toledo Clear Channel outlet entirely from the good folks at AllAccess:

CLEAR CHANNEL Top 40/Mainstream WVKS (92-5 KISS FM)/TOLEDO is looking for its next morning show co-host for its "ANDREW Z in the Morning" show. The co-host should be highly motivated, organized, friendly and hard working, with a minimum of three years on-air experience.

Candidates must also be willing to help the producer with editing and other projects, live remotes and other duties laid out by the Program Director. Tapes and resumes to Dir./Operations BILL MICHAELS, 125 S. Superior St., TOLEDO, OH. 43604. Females strongly encouraged to apply. CLEAR CHANNEL RADIO is an equal opportunity employer.

AND HELLO, DINO!: It looks like one of our favorite OMW foils, er, readers, has landed again.

We've had a lot of good natured fun with former now-silent WATJ/1560 Chardon sports talk host and OMW reader Dino Costa, who most recently exited from his online sports talk site in Denver.

AllAccess reports that he has a new "radio home":

Veteran sports talker DINO COSTA reports that he'll be heard nationally on SIRIUS XM RADIO's MAD DOG RADIO sports channel nightly starting (Monday night).

COSTA, who most recently was part of the launch of online DENVER SPORTS RADIO and has been heard in DENVER and JACKSONVILLE, among other places, will air 8p-1a ET weeknights on the channel.

Sure enough, there's Costa on the "Mad Dog" schedule:

The Dino Costa Show
Weekdays 8 pm - 1 am ET
Get Dino's one-of-a-kind take on the action while it's happening around the country. From the opening faceoff to the final hoop, Dino keeps you on top of all the big moments while interviewing some of the top names of the night.

Colorado-based Westword, a weekly paper that's apparently had just as much fun with Dino as we have, has more. (By the way, in looking for more in a Google search, we found that one of our articles on Mr. Costa lands at the top of a Google search on his name.)

Congratulations to Dino, sincerely. It sure beats trying to aim at Cleveland sports radio listeners from a 1,000 watt directional daytime AM station out in Geauga County.

Feel free to bang any promotional drums...the ones you play so well. And if you bragged about a new 50,000 watt AM transmitter in Florida, we can only imagine how you'll brag about an entire set of satellites in the sky.

"Mad Dog" is the channel that features former WFAN/660 "The Fan" New York City afternoon drive co-host Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, who reportedly has a hand in assembling the schedule.

One name that was thought to have been on the early "Mad Dog" schedule was another sports talker with some Northeast Ohio ties - former WHLO/640 Akron evening host Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton.

The deal was never worked out with the former World Hockey Association Cleveland Crusaders play-by-play voice (we're talking the 1970's, here, and the current WTAM/1100 was WWWE "3WE"!), who eventually landed cross-satellite from "Mad Dog" doing weekends on XM's "Home Plate" major league baseball channel.

We earlier reported that "Hacksaw" was rumored to be headed back to the local airwaves in San Diego - on his former radio boss' current sports talk operation, cross-border sports outlet XEPRS/1090 "XX 1090", blasting English-language sports talk into San Diego from a transmitter in Mexico.

Just to confirm here - the rumors were true, and Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton is once again blanketing San Diego weekday afternoons with his unique style of sports talk on that station...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Turning Blue, Folks

Especially if you're an adult, there are a few cultural touchstones that are universal in Northeast Ohio...and many of them revolve around local television.

At some point, just about everyone in this region has been touched by what you could call the "Ghoulardi Franchise".

If you weren't old enough to remember Ernie Anderson's iconic 1960's "Ghoulardi" character on WJW/8 (then the market's CBS affiliate), you certainly knew, and probably watched, his direct successors with late night comedy surrounding bad movies - "Hoolihan and Big Chuck", or "Big Chuck and Lil' John"...the latter show only recently off the air at what's now "Fox 8".

Others wanted to be the "new" Ghoulardi, or perform in his honor - production assistant Ron Sweed ("The Ghoul", WKBF and WCLQ/61, WBNX/55), and Canton's Keven Scarpino ("The Son of Ghoul", WOAC/67 and as far as we know, still somewhere in the lineup of WAOH-LP/29-W35AX "Retro TV").

But everyone...was looking up at Ernie, who eventually left Cleveland to become the Big Voice of ABC-TV in Hollywood ("The Luuuuuuuuuuuv Boat") and to make more money in one year than your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) has made his entire life...with THAT voice.

It says a lot about a guy when three different operations followed in his footsteps four decades after he hung up the fright wig.

Anyway, this explainer comes as there's word that a new documentary is about to focus on Ernie Anderson's days as "Ghoulardi" on local TV.

The University of Akron's Dr. Phil Hoffman passes along word that his "Turn Blue: The Short Life of Ghoulardi" program now has air dates later this month on local public TV outlet Western Reserve PBS (WNEO/45 Alliance-WEAO/49 Akron):

Tuesday, October 27 - 9 PM
Wednesday, October 28 - 2 AM
Saturday, October 31 - 4 PM

It'll also air on Western Reserve's "Fusion" local arts channel (45.2/49.2 over air, check your local digital cable lineup) on Thursday, October 29 at 9 PM and Saturday, October 31 at 7:30 PM.

Dr. Phil (not the bald, rotund guy on syndicated TV, but the long-time local TV and radio type) tells us that "Turn Blue" gets its initial bow at a convention inspired by Anderson's career - "Ghoulardifest" - Friday, October 23 at 7:45 PM...repeating each day of the convention through the 25th.

And since this indeed the YouTube age, here's a clip from the show:

Phil also passes along a link to the "production blog" for the

And we're proud to say that Phil Hoffman is an OMW Reader, and proud of it.

In the Bio section of his site, we're one of four sites listed as his favorite links...two of them are linked to the University of Akron's "ZTV" media operation, where he is general manager, and one is the Pandora online music service...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday Followup

We're back, and there's not really any earth-shattering news about media in our coverage area...


While we throw that out there, let's pick up the pieces on this Monday...

MORE ON THE HD SIDE: We sifted through Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio's "Programming Notices" page last month, informing you of new additions the company has to publicize as part of legal notices it runs in area newspapers.

There's another wave there now, listed for next month:

The following changes are planned on or after November 4, 2009:

The Weather Channel HD will be added to standard HD.

The following channels will be added to HD with carriage level varying by area: WE HD and TV One HD.

The following channels will be added to HD for customers with the Digital Basic Tier: Planet Green HD, IFC HD and Fuse HD.

The following channels will be added to HD for customers with the Digital Sports Tier: NHL Network HD, Tennis Channel HD and CBS College Sports HD.

After this addition, there will be very few "major" HD channels missing from the TWC Northeast Ohio lineup. (The first that comes to mind - the HD version of cable news/chat outlet MSNBC.)

For one, we didn't even know there WERE HD versions of networks like WE and TV One.

By the way, TWC tells us that there's a free preview of CBS College Sports (non-HD version for now) today through Sunday:

“ARMED FORCES APPRECIATION WEEK” is highlighted by a tripleheader of games on Saturday, Oct 10, including Vanderbilt at Army (NOON, PM, ET), Navy at Rice (3:30 PM, ET) and TCU at Air Force (7:30 PM, ET), as well as in-depth studio coverage throughout the day.

CBS College Sports Network is available on Time Warner Cable channel 322. The Network will feature additional “ARMED FORCES APPRECIATION WEEK” programming leading up to the live game action on October 10, including classic games and original programming.

CBS College Sports is usually only available in Time Warner's "Sports Tier"...

COLUMBUS AGAIN, PART ONE: As media news usually runs in cycles here at OMW, the Columbus cycle is still hitting on all cylinders.

It's the first Monday for the Columbus market's newest signal, Southeast Ohio Broadcasting Systems' WCVZ/102.5 Baltimore...the station known until recently as Zanesville's WHIZ-FM... and known on the air as country "Highway 102".

As it happens, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) got a chance to sample the new signal. For whatever reason, we know a lot of people who drive back and forth to Columbus and drive through Northeast Ohio to get we "hitched a ride" on one of these friends' one-day trips late last week.

From our estimation, it appears "Highway 102" is one of the better Columbus rimshots, signal-wise, from its new tower southeast of Columbus in northwest Fairfield County. (Our apologies...we typoed on the direction in an earlier revision of this item.)

We'll attach a slight asterisk to that, as our friends' travels did not take them to western Franklin County.

But the new 102.5 signal was at least semi-listenable as far north as southern Richland County on the drive down I-71, and seemed strong to us near the Polaris shopping area north of the Outerbelt on 71 (a key growth area in the Columbus region).

It would appear to be at least as competitive to the north, as rimshots from the north come in as far south as Grove City. We can't speak for how the signal did west of downtown Columbus, as we didn't control the itinerary.

The Columbus radio dial is littered with rimshots, of course.

After the established full-market, in-market powerhouses, there's only been one recent true in-market full-signal move-in in Columbus...Clear Channel's AC WLZT/93.3 Ashville, which moved in from its previous life as Chillicothe's WFCB many years ago.

The new WCVZ signal isn't quite at that level, of course. But as a rimshot? The signal's not bad.

The programming? "Highway 102" is pretty much the exact same mix of loosely automated country that we heard a few months ago when the station was broadcasting from the 102.5 facility in Zanesville.

And yes, even after the move, it's running local advertisements and public service announcements for Zanesville and Muskingum County. We even heard a "WHIZ Storm Team Forecast" weather segment, complete with a minute-long promo for the NBC lineup on sister TV station WHIZ-TV/18...aimed at a lot of people who can only watch NBC on Media General Columbus market affiliate WCMH/4.

But perhaps the most telling sign that the WHIZ Media Group folks don't plan on running "Highway 102" as a Columbus market station?

In all of our listening to 102.5 late last week, we didn't hear the word "Columbus" ONCE. At all. Ever. You'd have no idea the station could be heard in the Columbus market unless you looked out the car window to see that you were in the Columbus area.

And the legal ID for the new 102.5 signal doesn't mention's just "WCVZ(FM) Baltimore", with not a "/Columbus" to be found.

Even if this stuff gets tweaked over the coming days and weeks, it's not exactly the kind of competitor that has Clear Channel Columbus programming guru-WCOL/92.3 program director-apparently former OMW Reader John Crenshaw shaking in his boots...virtual or otherwise.

If the WHIZ folks aren't getting ready to hand off the 102.5 keys to someone else, and keep running "Highway 102", the station would be fortunate to gain a single share point up against the WCOL powerhouse.

And that's not to mention the other country competitors in the Columbus market (Wilks' WHOK/95.5 Lancaster "The Hawk", or its sister WNKK/107.1 Circleville "Wink") that try chipping off share points from WCOL.

And to close this out...on our run through Columbus late last week, WHOK's downtown Columbus translator was still operating - at its long-time 102.3 FM frequency, first adjacent to the new 102.5 signal. How long that will that last? We don't know...

COLUMBUS PART TWO: Here's one other Columbus item we hadn't noticed until now.

The latest shuffle at North American Broadcasting talk WTDA/103.9 Westerville "Talk FM" has resulted in a new local morning drive talk show. From the station's website:

103.9 Talk FM launches a new LOCAL morning Show with Mark the Shark, Kelly Quinn and Jeff Logan from 6am-9am Weekdays! Set your snooze alarm to 103.9 and wake up with Shark, Kelly and Logan on MorningTalk FM. Weekdays from 6am-9am on 103.9 WTDA Talk FM!

"Mark the Shark", of course, has long been the only local voice on the FM talker...doing an afternoon drive sports talk show. He has a long history with North American Broadcasting, and we believe he did mornings in an earlier incarnation of 103.9 ("The Eagle"), and he was once part of the morning show on NABCO rocker then-WBZX/99.7 in its days as "The Blitz".

The station's attempt to compete with the Giant Talk Radio Buzzsaw that is Clear Channel talk WTVN/610's Bob Conners Show comes with other lineup shuffles after it.

WTDA has moved The Content Factory-syndicated sports talker Dan Patrick into his live 9-noon slot. (Patrick also airs on Fox Sports Radio, but Columbus FSR affiliate Clear Channel sports WYTS/1230 doesn't air him due to WTDA gaining the separate, earlier syndication rights.)

Westwood One's Dennis Miller settles into the noon-3 PM slot on "Talk FM", followed by self-syndicated financial advice guru Dave Ramsey (3-6 PM) and TRN's Michael Savage (6-9 PM). TRN's Laura Ingraham, Jerry Doyle and Phil Hendrie round out the evening WTDA schedule...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Time Warner Northeast Ohio "Starts Over"

No, our subject header isn't meant to imply that Northeast Ohio's cable TV giant is tearing out the cable and rewiring.

The local Time Warner systems are getting ready to mount "Start Over", a new feature for digital cable users that lets them join already started programs "in progress", returning to the beginning of the show they caught in the middle.

From a TWC press release:

Start Over is enabled by a software upgrade to the existing video on demand (VOD) platform and to the installed base of digital set top boxes. The Start Over system instantaneously captures live television programming for immediate, on demand viewing.

When tuning to a Start Over-enabled show in progress, customers are alerted to the feature through an on-screen prompt. By pressing “Select” on the remote control, the program is immediately restarted from the beginning. Commercials will appear in the same sequence of the show as in the initial telecast. Start Over-enabled programs can be restarted within the shows’ telecast window.

Since it's based on TWC's own "On Demand" servers, "Start Over" doesn't require anything more than a standard digital cable box...with no DVR, or advance planning needed.

The TWC release says "Start Over" will be implemented in the Northeast Ohio area over the next few days, starting next week:

Start Over will roll-out to customers in phases October 6 – 16. By Oct. 16, all eligible customers will have the service.

At start, "Start Over" will only be enabled on a list of 19 networks, mostly popular cable channels, with new channels being "added frequently". Not all shows on the networks in question will be enabled for "Start Over".

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) saw TWC's "Start Over" implementation many months ago, at the NorthEast Radio Watch World Headquarters in Rochester of the earliest markets to get the service.

In Rochester, we noted that it was enabled for local news on the NBC affiliate in the market, so we presume that'll eventually happen here in Northeast Ohio as well.

The complete list of initial "Start Over" channels is in the press release, which we are reprinting in full below...


For Immediate Release:
October 1, 2009

Time Warner Cable Launches “Start Over”
Allows Customers to Restart Television Programs and Movies Already in Progress with the Touch of a Button

Akron, OH (OCTOBER 2009) – Time Warner Cable today announced the launch of Start Over, the company’s Enhanced TV feature that gives customers the ability to restart a program in progress without any pre-planning or in-home recording devices. Start Over, an exclusive product only available from Time Warner Cable, is being offered free to digital cable customers.

Start Over is enabled by a software upgrade to the existing video on demand (VOD) platform and to the installed base of digital set top boxes. The Start Over system instantaneously captures live television programming for immediate, on demand viewing. When tuning to a Start Over-enabled show in progress, customers are alerted to the feature through an on-screen prompt. By pressing “Select” on the remote control, the program is immediately restarted from the beginning. Commercials will appear in the same sequence of the show as in the initial telecast. Start Over-enabled programs can be restarted within the shows’ telecast window.

“Start Over delivers to our digital cable subscribers a new level of control over their television and makes it even easier to watch what they want when they want without any pre-planning,” said Vin Zachariah, Regional Vice President of Operations, Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio. “Start Over builds on Time Warner Cable’s long history of technological firsts that provides consumers with the power to take control of their television viewing. We are very excited to be bringing this convenience to our customers.”

For the initial launch, Start Over is enabled on 19 networks:
Biography Channel
Comedy Central
Disney Channel
Food Network
History Channel
History International
National Geographic
Nick Jr.
TV Land

New channels will be added frequently.

Start Over will roll-out to customers in phases October 6 – 16. By Oct. 16, all eligible customers will have the service.

Some shows on Start Over-enabled channels may not be available with this feature. In this situation, the Start Over prompt will not appear on the screen.

Time Warner Cable's Start Over was named the winner of the 2007 Emmy Award for Outstanding Innovation and Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for Best Use of on Demand Technology over Private (Closed) Networks. Time Warner Cable, Big Band Networks, Concurrent Computer Corp., Harmonic Inc., and Scientific Atlanta shared the win for their partnership on this network-based time shifting application.