Sunday, May 09, 2010

Move Complete

As promised a week ago, Ohio Media Watch is now officially at its new home:

The original Blogger version of OMW will no longer be updated, and all future posts will be found on the WordPress site.

You will still be able to find old posts at, but no new content.

The domain will now redirect to the WordPress site. That's a change we just put in, and it may take a while to make its way through the Internet.

As a side note: we are unable to migrate the comments on existing items to the new site. The Blogger-to-WordPress migration tool found and moved them, but the comments are not linked to any posts for whatever reason. Of course, new comments on the WordPress site work fine.

For the moment, comments on the new site require no login, but are moderated before posting. That may change in the future.

New comments on the Blogger side of things will be shut off at some point soon.

Now, onward to a new era for OMW...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Cleveland Connections

Three items with at least past connections to the Cleveland radio and TV market...

LEEANN'S DENVER EXIT: AllAccess reports that a former Cleveland radio personality is out at her Denver station, in an item posted earlier this week:

ALL ACCESS confirms that WILKS Hot AC KIMN (MIX100) middayer LEEANN SOMMERS exits

LeeAnn was heard in Northeast Ohio on Clear Channel hot AC WMVX/106.5 "Mix 106.5" from 2001 to 2005, and was previously heard on stations like WENZ/107.9 and the old "Jammin' 92.5", then-WZJM/92.3 (now CBS Radio alt-rock WXRK). Her resume (PDF) also includes entertainment reporting for Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5.

LeeAnn snagged a Northeast Ohio cell phone number with WMVX's frequency - AllAccess says she can be reached at (216) 526-1065.

She can also be reached through her own website.

And she also has a Twitter account, though we can't find any tweets going to it:

LeeAnn apparently made many friends while she was in Northeast Ohio, and we wish her the best. Would she come back to Cleveland? That, we don't know...

DOUG'S CHANGE: Doug Podell was program director of WNCX/98.5 in the early 1990s, but he's much better known for his long-stint at Greater Media Detroit rocker WCSX/94.7.

Podell is staying there, but unlike program directors who give up airshifts to concentrate on programming the station...he's doing the opposite.

AllAccess reports that Podell is stepping down as Director/Rock Programming for the Greater Media cluster in Detroit, to focus on his afternoon drive airshift on WCSX:

"After 30 years of programming some of the best rock stations in AMERICA, I have decided to shift gears and focus on what I truly love -- being on the air. After being off the air for a year and recently returning, I realized just how much I missed it and how my contributions are better suited for what's happening today."

We don't remember much about Podell's time at WNCX, now a CBS Radio-owned classic rocker.

But the Wikipedia article about WNCX credits him and owner Norman Wain with hiring rocker Michael Stanley...who is WNCX's afternoon drive personality today..

ILLINOIS HIRING: The new general manager of Eastern Illinois University's WEIU-FM/TV has a Cleveland background.

Indiana Radio Watch's Blaine Thompson passes the word of the hiring of former WVIZ/25 programmer/promotions director Jack Neal.

Neal returns to the midwest (Charleston IL) after a stint as station manager of Houston TX PBS affiliate KUHT, writes the local newspaper in the Eastern Illinois region:

“I grew up in Ohio and have worked in both Ohio and Indiana,” he said. “I’m a small-town guy, looking forward to returning to the Midwest. It’s very much like coming home for me.”

Blaine tells us that Neal's stint at the Cleveland PBS affiliate, now owned by Ideastream, lasted from 1978 to 1987.

He also worked in Syracuse NY (PBS affiliate WCNY) and in Indiana, giving Neal the rare three-media-watch hat trick between IRW, OMW and Scott Fybush's NorthEast Radio Watch...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Jeff And Jimbo

Thus, marking the only time in history where these two men will be mentioned in the same breath...

JEFF THOMAS EXITS: OMW has confirmed that long-time Good Karma WKNR/850 sports update voice Jeff Thomas is no longer with the station. According to his WKNR bio, Jeff started being heard on the station in 1996.

Thomas' bio has now been removed from the WKNR "hosts" page, and station utility player/producer/Browns beat reporter Daryl Ruiter is doing the updates this morning.

OMW hears that WKNR expressed a wish to go in a "new direction", which of course in radio, means that direction is away from the previous host.

Of course, OMW readers know that Thomas doesn't actually work for Good Karma Broadcasting.

OMW hears from numerous sources that Jeff Thomas is actually still employed by Metro Networks, which provides sports update and traffic services to the Good Karma station.

But as far as we know, WKNR is Metro's only client that takes sports updates. (We believe what's left of Metro's Cleveland office is no longer providing updates to Main Line sports WING/1410 in Dayton, for example, and hasn't been for a few years now. And the company stopped doing sports for Salem talk WHK/1420 when Good Karma bought WKNR.)

Regular readers know we always considered Jeff Thomas an under-used player at the Galleria, even when he moved in-house when Metro's local studios closed late last year. Thus, we consider the move a bad one.

As we are writing this update just now, "Really Big Show" host Tony Rizzo has confirmed on the air - in a testy response to a caller - that Thomas is indeed "no longer with the station".

Rizzo told the caller that he doesn't know why Thomas is no longer on WKNR, and says it's difficult to work "without someone you've been working with for years". Later, peppered with calls and E-mails from listeners, Rizzo called Thomas a "pro's pro", and says he will be missed, directing callers' questions to WKNR program director Jason Gibbs...

OTHER WKNR STUFF: Our friends at also report on their Twitter account that WKNR evening host Kenny Roda "has been suspended".

We don't have any more information than that.

And occasionally, we get a reminder that you can't rely too much on official station websites.

A WKNR staffer passes along that Jimmy Hanlin is indeed still heard on that station's weekend golf show with Greg Brinda, Saturdays from 7 AM-9 AM. That information is indeed reflected on the station's current weekday schedule.

In an earlier item, we said that Hanlin was "apparently no longer" hosting the Golf Show, since he was added to the website for Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100's similar program with Gary Trivisonno.

We said "apparently" because we hadn't actually listened to either show - we are most assuredly sleeping early Saturday morning. So, we appreciate the heads up.

The item was prompted by a listener question about the status of apparently (there's that word again) former WTAM golf show host Russ Jeske. We still don't have that answer...

JIMBO'S MOVE: "Jimbo", in this case is Northeast Ohio's most known Jimbo...former congressman-turned-ex-con Jim Traficant, who made his current political aspirations known officially on Tuesday.

The Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland weekend host has always been able to play with the media, and he did so on Tuesday.

Traficant, as expected by many (including This Space), filed petitions to run as an independent in the 17th Ohio congressional district. The Man With The Toupee held that seat for many years, before being expelled from Congress and finding a new involuntary home in the federal prison system.

Traficant passed on running as a Democrat against former aide Tim Ryan, now the incumbent congressman in the reconstituted 17th - which now includes portions of Portage and Summit County. Back when Traficant ruled the 17th roost, it almost exclusively covered the Mahoning Valley.

After filing for the 17th district, the WTAM Saturday host told reporters he was headed for Columbiana County, where he was asked if he would also file petitions to run in the 6th congressional district. That district, now represented by Charlie Wilson, covers the southern reaches of the old 17th district.

As it turns out, Traficant was a no-show in Columbiana County, and will only run in the 17th.

The Youngstown Vindicator reports that Traficant apparently had decided to run in both districts, but received what later turned out to be "incorrect information" from local elections officials that he could not do so.

But yes, the Vindicator reports that Traficant was indeed having fun with reporters following his every move on Tuesday:

When asked at the Trumbull elections board if he was filing for the 6th District, Traficant said, “You never know with me. I might file in West Virginia.”

Federal law requires Traficant to be a West Virginia resident in order to file in that state.

As for his WTAM show, Traficant spokesman Dennis Malloy tells the Plain Dealer that indeed, the ex-congressman-ex-con-new candidate is giving up the program - which he pretty much has to do due to election "equal time" laws. (We assume WTAM has no interest in giving 3 hours of weekend airtime to Tim Ryan or to the Republican candidate for the seat.)

As far as we know, the official filing means last Saturday's WTAM show was Traficant's last, and we know already that Jimbo has an "early out" clause in his contract with the Cleveland talker that allowed him to exit if he runs for office.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Sabrina Eaton reports that Traficant, of course, is not prohibited from appearing on WTAM as a newsmaker guest:

Since the beginning of this year, Traficant has hosted a radio talk show on WTAM in Cleveland. Malloy says Traficant is giving up the show because of his congressional run, but will be a guest (Monday) afternoon on Mike Trivisonno's WTAM show.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

We're Moving

OMW is in the process of moving to a new home.

We're setting up on the WordPress blogging system, after nearly 5 years on Google's Blogger platform. The address is as simple as our Blogspot address:

(Please note that unlike on Blogger, the full name of the blog is in the URL.)

We have imported all of our existing posts. We will continue to publish on Blogger for another week or so, maybe sooner, then the old blog will remain "as is" from that point on. (Consider the move like a radio station moving from AM to FM, with a brief simulcast period.)

For the time being, the domain will continue to forward to the original Blogger site. At some point, probably when we stop "simulcasting", that will change. That's also when we'll change the direct feed that notifies you of new posts on Twitter.

Why are we making the change?

Aside from the fact that we just wanted to change things up a bit, WordPress is also more mobile device-friendly than Blogger.

WP has a native mobile app (for Android, in our case) that will allow us to post and manage OMW easily while on the go. There are similar solutions for Blogger, but they are third-party apps that still are somewhat bug ridden or lacking in some features. (This is rather odd in the Android world, considering that Google both owns Blogger and develops Android, and has a number of native Android apps for existing Google services.)

Similarly, if you're on an iPhone, iPod Touch, Android or WebOS device, WP actually has a dedicated mobile skin that allows quick access to the blog.

Yep, it's increasingly a mobile world, and OMW is getting with the times.

The image in the theme on the new blog is a temporary placeholder, as we try to figure out how to get some sort of image in the 770x140 space alloted by the WordPress theme we're currently using. We could change the theme, as well, at some point.

Some notes: right now, there is no login for comments, but they will be held for moderation. This could be changed in the future, depending on what workload this adds to our plate. Moderation will be quick, due to the aforementioned ability to moderate from a smartphone.

And the Ohio Digital TV blog is not making the move to WordPress, since we haven't updated it since shortly after the digital TV transition. We'll keep it up on Blogger, as we will also keep the original OMW blog on Blogger after the least for some time...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

5's New GM And Other TV News

NEW BOSS ON EUCLID: Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 has found its new general manager.

After hearing from our sources that former Tampa FL general manager Sam Rosenwasser had been introduced to employees as the new VP/GM at the Cleveland station, we did a Google search - and found that Plain Dealer TV writer Mark Dawidziak had already posted an item about Rosenwasser's hiring:

Rosenwasser, 57, was the president and general manager of WTSP Channel 10, the Gannett-owned CBS affiliate in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., market. He was at helm of WTSP for seven years, accepting an early retirement package in late 2008.

Of course, in Cleveland, Rosenwasser will be competing with Gannett's NBC affiliate, WKYC/3.

Rosenwasser tells Dawidziak that he just "couldn't stay away" from the local TV game, noting that he got a tour of a local TV station when he was just four years old. (Rosenwasser has us beat by about 6 years in that distinction.)

Akron Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels also has an item on WEWS' new leader, and notes of the departure of former GM Victoria Regan:

A spokesman for Channel 5's owner, E.W. Scripps Co., said at the time that Scripps and Regan ''mutually agreed to part ways.'' Which observers treated with some skepticism.

That might be an understatement.

Heldenfels also notes that Rosenwasser's early retirement in Tampa "raised eyebrows", according to a blog item we also found by St. Petersburg (FL) Times TV writer Eric Deggans on, but says the new WEWS boss insists that "the time was right" to leave.

Rosenwasser has top TV management experience in both Sacramento CA and Austin TX on his 35-year-long resume.

He tells the PD's Dawidziak:

"My job right now is to do a lot of listening and ask a lot of questions," Rosenwasser said. "The goal always is to get everybody together at a station and pulling in the same direction. That's vital to being successful. And although I'm just getting to know my way around, I'd like to see the station more involved with the community. We have a lot to offer, and I believe that multiplatform operation like this has a responsibility to be as involved as possible with the community."

As he turns from his computer and asks a WEWS colleague "what's an Ohio Media Watch?", we have some advice Rosenwasser has probably heard...spend a lot of time actually in the building at 3001 Euclid, directly supervising the station's personnel - in person.

We hear that'd be a change from the recent past...

MORE SCRIPPS NEWS: The Beacon Journal's Heldenfels also notes that Bob Sullivan has been named Scripps' new vice president in charge of (television) content, adding another layer of oversight in its local TV stations division.

Separately, Scripps' cable network division is launching "The Cooking Channel", a digital TV network that will replace its "Fine Living Network" on digital cable (SD only for now, we believe) lineups. Scripps' release says there will be an HD version of "The Cooking Channel", though we don't know what kind of carriage it will get.

Press accounts of the new network call it a "younger, edgier" companion to the sister Food Network.

Though the network will appear on the massive Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio system (digital channel 158), the bigger local news is that a Northeast Ohio food TV staple - so to speak - will have his own show.

Akron Beacon Journal food writer Lisa Abraham says Cleveland's Michael Symon (of the Food Network's "Iron Chef America" fame) will host "Cook Like an Iron Chef" for the new network:

Symon, owner of Cleveland area restaurants Lola, Lolita, B-Spot and Bar Symon, and Roast in Detroit, will teach viewers the skills and techniques needed to cook like an Iron Chef. He will be joined by chef challengers and other Iron Chefs who reveal how they deal with secret ingredients.

Cook Like an Iron Chef is scheduled to premier in July.

We don't care if Symon came to the OMW World Headquarters in person and took over our kitchen...we couldn't "cook like an Iron Chef" no matter what. But we wish him the best on his new show...

TWITTER FOR HELP: Though they've been doing it for a while, OMW recently discovered that Time Warner Cable is using Twitter for customer support.

The TWCableHelp Twitter account is staffed most of the day, and the company uses private direct messages or E-mail when needed - mostly so customers can pass along account information needed to help them. (Of course, sending your billing/home address in a public tweet is not exactly a good idea.)

Our colleagues at Tri-State Media Watch note that they became aware of this recently, when they were trying to find answers about an HD broadcast snafu seen on TWC's Cincinnati-based system...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Supersized Update

As promised, here's our update that spans all over the map, and with updates on just about every subject area we cover. How big is it? Let's just put it this way...we're lucky Blogger doesn't charge at all, let alone by the kilobyte...

WVPX HD: Put on hold by Ion Media Networks' bankruptcy a while back, the HD upgrade at Ion's local owned-and-operated station is complete.

Over-air viewers of Akron-licensed WVPX/23 are now seeing an HD feed on 23.1, and viewers of Time Warner Cable will get the station on their HD cable boxes soon...if it has not happened already.

We can also pass along word that in the former Adelphia Cleveland-based system, those picking up clear QAM feeds can find WVPX's HD feed on RF channel 78.2.

Another oddity of the clear QAM feeds - though they do not appear on cable boxes in the Cleveland-based arm of the TWC NEO system, Western Reserve PBS' HD WEAO/49.1 and its subchannels are available to those picking up the QAM feeds, mapped to their over-air channel numbers.

WEAO's main feed is still available on analog cable channel 9 in the former Adelphia system, and WEAO/WNEO's HD feed and subchannels are on cable boxes in the "legacy" Time Warner Akron/Canton/Youngstown area systems. Time Warner lists the feed as "WNEO" even in the WEAO signal area.

Anyway, back to WVPX. We don't have a complete list of programming in HD, but it appears that prime-time off-network shows (such as "Ghost Whisperer") and at least some movies are in HD. Shortly after the launch, we saw an Ion movie in the daytime hours that was not only in HD, but using its original aspect ratio...which should make some movie buffs very happy...

YOUNGSTOWN HD/DIGITAL ACTIVITY: It seems the dust has settled, and Parkin/New Vision ABC affiliate WYTV/33 in Youngstown is now pumping out a million watts of power.

Viewers all over the Mahoning Valley and beyond report drastically improved reception from the new facility. (No, we can't get it from the OMW World Headquarters...but we also have trouble with New Vision sister CBS affiliate WKBN/27 from this far out on our modest setup. We imagine those in the far eastern suburbs of Cleveland and Akron should have a better shot at it.)

WYTV is indeed more powerful than WKBN, by a few hundred kilowatts, but the station's antenna is much lower than the WKBN antenna.

Elsewhere on Sunset Boulevard, the multi-station combo is preparing to add the Youngstown market's first HD newscasts.

It was supposed to happen back on April 19th, but viewers/OMW readers in the market, including PBRTV's Tom Lavery, tell us that newscasts on WKBN and its sister stations are still in SD.

We can't find a reference right now, but we seem to recall the update will also bring WYTV's MyNetwork TV subchannel (33.2) into the world of HD...

WIN IT FOR JOE: When will local sports radio legend Joe Tait hang up his headphones, and turn the Cleveland Cavaliers Radio Network microphone over to someone with very big shoes to fill?

We don't recall when he said it, but a recent profile of Tait in the Chicago Sun-Times -"Tait, as in great" - has this:

Tait, 72, has said that next season will be his last. If he sticks to that, the breed of working NBA broadcast greats will be down one.

We reported earlier that Tait's contract was renewed, indeed, through the end of the 2010-2011 season, thoguh even at age 72, Dan Gilbert is likely to keep the iconic Cavs broadcaster behind the microphone for basically as long as he wants.

Tait tells the Sun-Times:

''I feel old, fat and tired,'' the signature radio voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers said. ''Some days, I feel like I could go on forever. Other days, I'm not sure I'll make it past noon.''


'In a year, the house will be paid off,'' said Tait, Evanston (IL)-born and a graduate of Monmouth College. ''Then all I want to worry about is taking care of Jeannie and enjoying the sunsets.''

Though he does sound like a man ready to retire after a long and illustrious career, he tells the newspaper he very much still enjoys his work...enjoyment, presumably, that will be magnified ten-fold if the Cavaliers manage to do what no Cleveland-based major professional team has done since it all.

Win one for Tait, indeed.

By the way, tonight's Game 5 of the first round NBA playoff series against the Chicago Bulls will air on Fox Sports Ohio, and will also be simulcast on broadcast partner Raycom Media MyNetwork TV affliate WUAB/43. The WUAB broadcast of FSOhio games are also in HD, giving over-air viewers a chance to see the game in the crisper TV format.

And by the way again, we've confirmed through numerous sources part of an item we ran earlier: The Cavaliers Radio Network is indeed produced at Quicken Loans Arena, not at the facilities of flagship Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100. That means new Cavs Radio Network producer Marty "Big Daddy" Allen doesn't have to go back to Oak Tree for his new job.

We should have realized this, since the Cavs' post-game radio show gives 420-exchange phone numbers, the same exchange as used by the team and arena. WTAM uses the standard 578 exchange, an old "choke" exchange used by local broadcasters for years.

Back in the day, the 578 exchange was used so floods of radio contest and request calls didn't bring down other phone network users, though technology has rendered that problem obsolete...

WHILE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT OAK TREE: A former WTAM staffer is making quite a career change.

Former WTAM news director R.C. Bauer left the building in October 2006, taking a news management gig at sister Clear Channel talk WFLA/970 in Tampa FL.

He got a promotion to the top programming job at the successful Florida station in early 2009, after Gabe Hobbs felt the Clear Channel downsizing axe.

Bauer is leaving WFLA on his own...and to a higher "station" as it were. columnist Tom Taylor provides us the confirmation of a tip we received late last week, in his column which landed in E-mail boxes Monday morning:

RC Bauer hears the call of the ministry and is leaving radio – and his job as Director of Information and Services and PD of talker WFLA, Tampa (970) – to become a full-time minister. RC’s departing the Clear Channel roster at the end of May to become executive pastor at the Generations Christian Church in Trinity, Florida.

Taylor notes that R.C. will remain on WFLA's local programming advisory board, and could even do some fill-in for the station once he moves to his new role as a pastor...

THE TRIBE IN THE 'BULA: That's Ashtabula, and the Indians are getting some FM air-time in that extreme Northeast Ohio community.

Media One Group features both the Indians and the team's nearby minor league affiliate, the single-A Lake County Captains, on sports WFUN/970 "ESPN 970".

Conflicts this year will push the major league club onto sister country WYBL/98.3 "The Bull", with the April Indians/WYBL schedule here.

Last Sunday was a conflict of particular note, with the Captains on WFUN, the Indians on WYBL, and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Media One's WZOO/102.5 "Oldies 102.5".

SPEAKING OF MINOR LEAGUE BALL: By the way, according to a Captains release, Spirit Media talk/brokered WELW/1330 Willoughby is resuming its role as the team's flagship outlet in 2010, with "selected games" on WFUN and WZOO.

Over in Lorain County, we neglected to inform you that the Lake Erie Crushers, the Avon-based independent minor league team, gets a partial broadcast presence this year, with Sunday afternoon home games heard on Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria.

It's not the entire schedule, but the team had no over-air call in its initial season.

Former WOBL/1320-WDLW/1380 and Metro Networks staffer and voice of Oberlin College sports, Dave DeNatale, called the games online via DeNatale was the afternoon sports update voice at Metro for Good Karma sports WKNR/850 "ESPN 850" in Cleveland, until the local Metro Networks operation closed its Independence facility.

For WEOL, staffers Tim Alcorn and Rob Polinsky are calling the Captains' Sunday afternoon contests...

TWC AWARDS: The local arm of Time Warner Cable picked up a lot of hardware at the Ohio Cable Television Association's annual award ceremony - for a number of programs on its Northeast Ohio Network (NEON) and associated Local On Demand (LOD) channel.

Here's the list, courtesy of a TWC release:

The 9 Awards:
Excellence in Local Programming – NEON/LOD programming
Education Outreach – Connect A Million Minds
Product Launch/Promotion – Viewer’s Choice LOD Contest
Community Outreach – Connect A Million Minds
Live Action Sports Programming – High School Football Game of the Week
Community Affairs Programming (2) – Helping Hands and Great Lakes Science Center Partnership
Entertainment Programming – Made Here
PSA/Promotional Message – Connect A Million Minds 30-second spot

The awards are called the "Image Awards", which are "established to honor OCTA members' efforts to build and enhance relationships with their customers and foster a positive image in their communities."

The local programming is part of the service's arsenal in competing against satellite and other multichannel providers like AT&T U-verse. Or as TWC VP/Communications and OMW reader Bill Jasso puts it:

“NEON and LOD are unique to Time Warner Cable, an added value only available to our customers.”

THE ZONE IS BACK: It had been speculated by many of our Toledo-area readers for some time, but Cumulus has indeed used an FM translator to bring back a format recently killed to give sports WLQR/1470 "The Ticket" an FM home.

As expected, W264AK, the former Cavalry Chapel-owned religious translator at 100.7 FM, has moved to a more centrally located facility in Toledo, and is now under Cumulus control at 100.9 FM - pumping out the "Zone" alt-rock format displaced by sports on the former WRWK-now-WLQR-FM/106.5.

Tom Taylor's column notes that the feed is coming from classic rock WXKR/94.5's HD2 channel, and that Cumulus did much the same in Atlanta for an alt-rock station there ("99X").

The Calvary Chapel folks, meantime, have completed their end of the swap with Cumulus, broadcasting the network's religious programming on 1560 AM. The station long held the WTOD call letters, but Calvary Chapel changed calls Friday to WWYC.

This page on the church's website incorrectly identifies the new station as being at 1590 AM, and incorrectly identifies the new WWYC as an FM station - though it also notes the AM station's daytime-only operation.

The station does have a construction permit for a whopping 3 watts of nighttime power, a level that might cover a few blocks around the transmitter - if the signal doesn't get clobbered by the skywave of Radio Disney's WQEW/1560 in New York City. (We're betting on the Mouse.)

As Cumulus' WTOD, the station ran a mostly syndicated talk format.

The WTOD calls are now being parked on a Cumulus station in Hartsville SC...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Clearing Out The To Do Box

Our sporadic publishing schedule means that we occasionally have to clear out the "To Do" box, and that's what we're doing today...

NEWSNIGHT "HIATUS": Western Reserve PBS is shelving the long-running, popular public affairs talk show "NewsNight Akron" after this week...for now.

A release from our friends at Campus Center Drive says that the public TV outlet (known to the FCC as WNEO/45 Alliance-WEAO/49 Akron) will put the Friday evening show hosted by WKYC/3's Eric Mansfield "on hiatus" starting a week from Friday - April 30th.

Quoting the release:

“Western Reserve Public Media will be reshaping its regional production strategy over the summer,” explained Trina Cutter, president and CEO. “We have exciting programs planned for next fiscal year, and we will use the summer months to explore how all of our regional programs can be infused with new energy, new technologies and new media for our fall season.”

NewsNight Akron has enjoyed a loyal following over the last 12 years, reaching its peak audience in the 2008-09 season. “So much has changed in the media landscape since NewsNight Akron was launched in 1998,” Cutter continued. “This is an opportunity to reshape the program to ensure that it fits stylistically with the rest of our regional productions.”

When/if "NewsNight" returns, and in what form, seems to be anyone's guess. And yes, there are some wondering "if" it will return.

We hear that the show hasn't taken a summer hiatus before, and the above quotes from WRPBS boss Trina Cutter seem to indicate that if "NewsNight" does return, you basically won't recognize the show.

It's probably a safe bet that the station will do SOME sort of public affairs presentation aimed at the underserved Akron area - which still misses the nightly news program on what is now WVPX/23, anchored in its most recent incarnation by "NNA" host Mansfield. The newscast ended its run on Time Warner Cable's "NEON" local programming channel.

Western Reserve PBS says "Inside Washington" will replace "NewsNight" in its Friday 9 PM slot on WNEO/45.1-WEAO/49.1, and the show will be replaced by other programs on the "Fusion" channel (45.2-49.2).

The new local business magazine "NEOtropolis" is unaffected, and will continue to air on Friday nights.

"NewsNight Akron" has featured both Mansfield and a regular panel of Akron area print and broadcast journalists discussing the week's news events that affect the Akron area...

HAPPY 85TH: When a radio station reaches 85 years on the air, it's an automatic cause for celebration.

That anniversary is being marked today by NextMedia talk WHBC/1480 in Canton, which is spending a lot of time commemorating its long service to Stark County.

Quoting a station release:

All day long listeners will hear from former on-air personalities, newsmakers, and community members who will talk about their experience with WHBC and its legacy in the community. Audio clips of days gone by will pepper the airwaves. A special area of the radio station’s website – – will be set aside with pictures and information about the radio station’s history.

“We take a lot of pride in providing a service to our community. It’s an honor to have served this area for 85 years and we plan to continue that tradition for many more to come” said Program Director Pam Cook.

And yes, we've linked that special 85th Anniversary section above.

WHBC started broadcasting on March 9, 1925 from the St. John's Catholic Church in Canton, with its first facility sporting just ten watts of power at the AM dial position of 1180. Today's WHBC broadcasts with 15,000 watts day, 5,000 watts night on AM 1480.

WHBC has been through a lot in those 85 years, and through a lot recently.

The station was locally owned for a long time by Beaverkettle (the Vodrey family), and was sold to the NextMedia chain in 2000.

After a lengthy run playing some sort of music (most recently oldies) as a "full service" station, WHBC turned to talk radio in 2007, including new local shows with Ron Ponder and Sam Bourquin (who took over afternoon drive from Jim Albright, now doing morning drive at Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 in Akron). The changes have been extensively reported in this very blog.

WHBC's Wikipedia article contains a lot of details about the station's extensive history...

BROWNS NON-PRIME: We have spent time in the past figuring out who would broadcast the prime-time games of the NFL's Cleveland Browns locally. NFL rules require cable/satellite networks (ESPN, NFL Network) to sell their games to over-air stations in the two teams' home markets.

We won't have to track that this year.

The NFL schedule came out Wednesday, and the rebuilding Browns have no prime-time games in 2010.

That means the team will play every game this year on Sunday afternoons at 1 PM - there are not even any 4:15 PM Sunday games.

The last 6 weeks of the season, any of the Browns games could be grabbed by NBC for "Sunday Night Football", thanks to the NFL's "flex" scheduling rules. Of course, the Browns would have to be basically "on fire" in late season for that to happen, which is about as likely as your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) launching a 2012 presidential bid.

The all-Sunday 1 PM schedule lands the bulk of the team's games on Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19. A couple of games will air on Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8, since Fox is the NFC carrier and airs Sunday afternoon games involving NFC road teams - the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers on the Browns 2010 schedule.

The September 12th opener against the NFC's Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tampa will be on WOIO, since CBS carries AFC road games...

SPEAKING OF POPULAR SPORTS: The NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers are atop the local sports TV ratings heap - well, at least compared to Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians, at any rate.

That's according to a new item on the blog Sports Media Watch (no relation), which notes that LeBron James and company on Fox Sports Ohio have the second highest rating nationwide among NBA, MLB and NHL teams at 8.59.

When you factor in households, the Cavaliers drop to 8th nationwide (131,000) - considering that huge markets like New York City have many more TV households than Cleveland, which catapults the New York Yankees to the top of the households list.

(MLB's Boston Red Sox are first on the ratings list and second on the household list. You're welcome, long-time friend, colleague and diehard Red Sox fan Scott Fybush at NorthEast Radio Watch.)

The Indians on SportsTime Ohio show up at 34th (ratings) and 41st (households) on the list - with a rating of 2.84 and 43,000 households.

Showing the smaller market size of Columbus, and the lesser popularity of the NHL, hockey's Columbus Blue Jackets are 60th on the ratings list (1.39) and 76th on the households list (13,000).

It could be worse for the Blue Jackets.

The NHL's Florida Panthers (based in the Miami area) are at the bottom of the list, with a rating of just 0.25 and a household audience size of just 4,000 people. We'd say there are more people watching in person, but the team's attendance figures are probably bad as well.

As we noted on our Twitter feed, NFL and NCAA football are not included on the Sports Media Watch list. Unlike the NBA, baseball and the NHL, pro and college football contracts are generally granted on a national basis.

Still, we'd be interested to see how the always popular Cleveland Browns compare in Northeast Ohio, and how dominant the Ohio State Buckeyes are in Columbus...

TWO QUICK ITEMS WE DON'T KNOW: Yes, as noted on our Twitter feed, we saw former Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 weekend anchor Lydia Esparra anchoring over the weekend on WOIO's "19 Action News".

We don't know yet if there's any permanent job attached to Esparra's appearance at Reserve Square, or if she's freelancing, much like former Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 sports anchor/reporter Sue Ann Robak did for "Action News" until the station hired former Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 sports anchor Mark Schwab for its weekend/reporting opening.

We also don't know - yet - what happened to Russ Jeske, the long-time co-host of WTAM's "Golf Show" on weekends alongside Gary Trivisonno.

The show's page on now lists Jimmy Hanlin, long a veteran of golf-related local sports media, as Trivisonno's co-host. (Yes, Trivisonno is Mike's brother, for those who don't know already.)

Hanlin is apparently is no longer co-hosting Good Karma sports WKNR/850's "Northern Ohio PGA Golf Show" with WKNR's Greg Brinda, though it is still listed on his website...

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Big One

Our two items are both about "The Big One", the colloquial name for Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland (a name borrowed under common ownership from sister Clear Channel talk WLW/700 Cincinnati)...

TRIV SHOW EXIT: OMW has confirmed that "Mike Trivisonno Show" technical producer "Dirty Kurt" McLaughlin is no longer with the station.

We hear that Kurt resigned from his position on the afternoon drive show Friday evening, due to what is being called "personal reasons".

And no, not only do we not know what that means, we're not pursuing any specifics. It would appear he resigned of his own accord.

The move means that the Triv show had to change its "Dirty Word of the Day" segment to take out Kurt's name...

AND BEFORE KURT: McLaughlin's long-time predecessor on the Triv show is getting some publicity.

The Plain Dealer's John Campanelli gives former Triv show producer/sidekick "Big Daddy" Marty Allen the PDQ Treatment this morning.

Campanelli informs readers of Allen's Internet talk radio show, which we mentioned some time ago, and that he's now a technical producer for the Cleveland Cavaliers Radio Network.

WTAM is the Cavaliers' flagship, but we believe the radio network is run separately through the team itself. We don't know if the team's radio network is physically produced out of Oak Tree, or at Quicken Loans Arena.

We were going to mention this anyway, as we heard Cavs radio voice Joe Tait mention Marty Allen during Saturday's first playoff game with the Chicago Bulls. (And yes, once again, we hope the team "Wins One for Tait".)

Marty doesn't quite rip into his former host in the PDQ item, but...quoting a line that probably says it all about his relationship with Triv post-show:

Let's say you're driving on 480 and see Mike Trivisonno, and he's got a flat tire on the side of the road.

I wouldn't help him.

Allen says he hasn't listened to the Triv show since he exited, and declines to blame the host for his departure in April 2009. He talks about his attendance at the funeral for Linda Trivisonno, telling the PD that he knew "he would probably never speak to (Triv) again" afterwards.

He also believes that whenever Trivisonno leaves his job, WTAM will replace him with a national host, saying a local host won't get "that opportunity".

Oh, and there's this "Editor's note":

Editor's note: Some of the remarks were critical of his former colleague and employer. When informed, Trivisonno responded, on the air, "Are they [PDQ] that hard up?" Asked if he wanted to respond, he said, "For me to respond to that, that would be an absolute joke." When asked if Clear Channel wanted to comment, WTAM Program Director Ray Davis replied via e-mail that he "enjoyed working with Marty Allen and he wishes him nothing but the best," and that the station can't comment about personnel matters.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ohio's Mobile TV Future

A host of TV station owner groups are banding together to create a much broader future for mobile digital television, and nearly all groups in the Cleveland market are involved.

From the first article about the joint venture of 12 ownership groups, courtesy of TVNewsCheck's Harry Jessell:

The groups: Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Fox, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., Ion Television, Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., NBC, Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media.

In the Cleveland market alone, that covers Gannett (WKYC/3-NBC), Scripps (WEWS/5-ABC), Raycom (WOIO/19-CBS and WUAB/43-MyNet), and ION (WVPX/23).

Fox affiliate WJW/8 is no longer owned by its network, having been sold to Local TV LLC. It's one of two commercial stations in the market not on the list - the other is locally-owned Winston Broadcasting CW affiliate WBNX/55. (Oh, and Univision's WQHS/61...but we don't speak Spanish.)

Groups like Cox and Media General are in other Ohio markets - Cox has CBS affiliate WHIO/7 Dayton and Media General has NBC affiliate WCMH/4 Columbus (formerly owned by NBC itself).

Today, again thanks to Mr. Jessell and TVNewsCheck, we know that the joint venture aims to do more than provide mobile-friendly signals of local broadcast outlets:

The 12 major TV station groups that announced plans on Tuesday to form a joint venture to pursue the mobile DTV business envision a national service of at least 10 mobile channels and possibly many more.
And what kind of channels?

...NBC and Fox have agreed to make their programming available to the joint venture. That programming includes broadcast network programming through their affiliates as well as cable networks.

NBC's collection of cable networks includes Bravo, USA Network, Syfy, MSNBC and CNBC. Fox has the Fox News Channel and FX among others.

To us, it sounds like the old USDigital service retrofitted for 2010.

USDigital offered a lower-cost, smaller collection of cable TV channels using unused DTV spectrum. The service used a special converter (available at Wal-Mart). We never saw it in Ohio, because it didn't ever leave one or two test markets. We're not sure it even got out of Salt Lake City UT.

This venture is different, technologically, because it's riding on mobile DTV spectrum. ATSC M/H (mobile/handheld) is still being tested, and provides something current over-air DTV does not - a stream that can be easily displayed on the move, in a car, or in your hand.

The bandwidth, of course, isn't enough to support HDTV. But as we know from early experience, trying to catch a DTV signal from a moving car is currently pretty much impossible. Receiver technology has also improved dramatically since when USDigital was around, not even accounting for the mobile part.

This service won't bring cable networks to free broadcast, as far as we can tell. It sounds like a pay service much as described above. There is also talk of a "print" component, whatever that means.

We're presuming that the stations will still offer the mobile-friendly versions of their broadcast signals for free, but we can't confirm that from what we've read. We're also wondering if Fox, a participant offering the broadcast programming to the venture, will offer locally-programmed non-owned affiliates like WJW.

We could be wrong on any of this, and welcome corrections...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Ohio Connection

Here are a couple of very unrelated items about Northeast Ohioans in or near the national media spotlight...

CONVENTION TIME: Those in local radio and TV are noticing that many people have left Ohio for Las Vegas this week, site of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) annual convention.

Long-time OMW readers are aware that a regular reader of the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), Rubber City Radio Group VP/information media Ed Esposito, has been involved with what is now the Radio-Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and is the current chairman of the associated Radio-Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF). Rubber City owns oldies/news WAKR/1590, rock WONE/97.5 and country WQMX/94.9 in the Akron market.

The organization's middle letters were switched recently - ND for "News Directors" became DN for "Digital News", in an effort to broaden and modernize the group.

Ed is wrapping up his service to RTDNA/F, and he's in Las Vegas this week as a part of the RTDNA@NAB convention. He was RTDNA chairman before moving to the same role at the Foundation side of things.

And you can see some of what Mr. Esposito is doing in Las Vegas, with this YouTube video interview with CBS News mainstay Steve Kroft, honored by the RTDNA with the 2010 "Paul White Award":

The interview is available here in case you can't do embedded YouTube video.

And a reminder - Esposito is not the only newsie with local ties affiliated with what is now RTDNA/F. President-emeritus Barbara Cochran, a veteran newswoman, is an Akron native...

NATIONAL AND LOCAL: With the popularity of the political Tea Party movement among talk radio listeners, it's no surprise that a virtual train of talk radio hosts has attached themselves to the effort. Or maybe we should say "bus lineup".

The latest incarnation of the Tea Party movement is the third Tea Party Express bus tour across America, which showed up in Berea at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds on Sunday, talk show hosts in tow.

For one, the national chairman of the Tea Party Express tour is a California radio talk show host - former KFBK/Sacramento host Mark Williams, who still does remote ISDN fill-in (much like Clear Channel talk WSPD/1370 program director/afternoon drive host Brian Wilson does) for stations across the country.

Dial Global syndicated host Neal Boortz is on the schedule for the tour's final stop, a tax protest in Washington DC on Tax Day 2010.

But the local hosts are not ignoring one of the biggest political movements in many years, according to an article from the Akron Beacon Journal.

Take Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 weekend host Matt Patrick - the former hot AC WKDD/98.1 morning driver and talk WHLO/640 midday host out of Clear Channel's Akron/Canton Freedom Avenue complex in northern Stark County, now appearing out of the company's Cleveland market hub at Oak Tree.

Matt has taken the stage at a number of Tea Party-linked events, and was a local emcee for the Berea event. He'll also be fronting Tea Party rallies in Akron and Medina in the next few days. It may be easier to list what Tea Party events Patrick is not attending locally.

And his WTAM co-worker, evening/weekend host Bob Frantz, is also getting into the Tea Party mix, emceeing a Tax Day event in Cleveland. Not only that, WPGB/Pittsburgh-based syndicated host Jim Quinn ("The War Room") is scheduled for a University Heights event on Thursday. Quinn's show is heard middays on WHLO on delay - the replacement for Patrick's old program.

Of course, Frantz, Patrick, Quinn and even national chairman Williams - a regular on cable TV news shows - are somewhat overshadowed by the movement's biggest name... former Alaska governor, 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and current Fox News contributor Sarah Palin.

A note: Back and forth political sniping will be deleted in the comments. We're not writing about the political policies of the Tea Party movement one way or the other, just the involvement of local radio hosts in it...

Friday, April 09, 2010

From Cleveland To Youngstown to Canada

...and beyond, as this is quite a geographically-broad update...

KEN COURTRIGHT: Services were held Thursday for long-time Cleveland and Northeast Ohio radio newsman Ken Courtright, who died Saturday at the age of 74.

A complete obituary is available at the Linn-Hert-Geib Funeral Home website, and in our earlier item, someone posted a comment with a link to video of the service, which is now archived and available for viewing. (It appears to be password protected, so we're not sure we should link it here...)

THE REALLY BIG SUB: We didn't realize until nearly the end of the show that Good Karma sports WKNR/850 "ESPN 850"'s highest-profile hosts made another appearance on America's most popular syndicated sports talk radio show.

Yes, it was the "Really Big Show's" Tony Rizzo and sidekick/producer Aaron Goldhammer subbing for Premiere Radio's Jim Rome again on Thursday.

We heard just the last few minutes of the show, and noted that Rome's Akron market affiliate, Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 "Fox Sports 1350", again declined to give three hours of airtime to hosts from its biggest competitor. WARF ran the Fox Sports Radio feed of Stephen A. Smith, repeated from his live morning drive show.

And for what it's worth, WARF didn't have to do any more than stick with the FSR live feed on Thursday. Smith's repeat is offered up 12-3 PM weekdays by the network, which does not do live counter-programming against the separately syndicated Jim Rome show. Many FSR affiliates run Rome off the Premiere feed. Premiere, an arm of Clear Channel, is the parent company of FSR, using the Fox Sports Radio name in a licensing agreement with Fox.

Anyway, the "Really Big Show" appearance on Rome's show on Thursday prompted Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer to write about it in an article called "Rizzo, Goldhammer continue to impress":

Rizzo was silky-smooth, chatting and joking seconds before going live to the sports nation. He handled the critical opening segment splendidly, juggling (Tiger) Woods at The Masters, the "creepy'' Woods Nike commercial, the Yankees and "American Idol,'' among other topics. Rizzo seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself, which is the No. 1 reason why he has been so good in the Cleveland market for so long on radio and TV.

Rizzo set the bar high April 8 and maintained the level of excellence. He received timely help from his sidekick, Goldhammer, who continues to grow on me. It would have been easy for "Hammer'' to agree with Rizzo on all his major points so as to keep a national show as wrinkle-free as possible. But Hammer was not afraid to balk at Rizzo's contention that the galleries at Augusta would give Woods a pass all week, insisting at least one person over four days is going to cause a stir by saying or doing something outlandish.

Manoloff's piece appeared on the Plain Dealer's just ten minutes after the Rizzo/Goldhammer sub-appearance ended...he wrote that he spent the first hour watching the show from the WKNR studios at the Galleria. The sports talk duo couldn't have paid for better advertising.

Oh, by the way, yes, we're aware of the $50 million suit filed against the Plain Dealer by a Cleveland judge, upset that the PD unmasked her E-mail account linked to comments on cases in her courtroom on the paper's affiliated (The judge says her daughter made the comments in question on a shared account.)

We don't have much to say about it, aside from the overall question of privacy expectations for anonymous commenters on a news website. We'll talk about it in depth at some point down the road...

ALAN COX: We noted this earlier on our Twitter account - as an afternoon drive personality at a Cleveland station picks up a second gig as a voicetracker.

Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7 afternoon host Alan Cox will voicetrack middays for CC sister modern AC outlet WSDD/100.3 "The Sound" in St. Louis - from his perch at Oak Tree.

The move was first noted on AllAccess, but the weekly Cleveland Scene has picked up on it as well. Cox tells Scene that the VTing gig "will be a separate production", noting that the St. Louis gig is on a "more music-intensive station".

We've heard occasional music on Cox's WMMS show, but it's mostly a talk show...

KASPER NATIONAL: AllAccess also mentions that Clear Channel Cleveland top 40 WAKS/96.5 "Kiss FM" afternoon driver/assistant program director/OMW reader Kasper gets a guest hosting gig this weekend on a national show.

Kasper will be on "The Weekend Throwdown with Jagger", which doesn't list WAKS on its affiliate list - but does list another Kasper "Kiss FM" outpost in Northeast Ohio, sister top 40 WAKZ/95.9 in Kasper's hometown of Youngstown. (We think, but are not positive, that Jagger has Mahoning Valley ties as well.) The show airs Sunday evenings 7-11 PM on WAKZ.

This also is not Kasper's first national go-round, of course.

In addition to voicetracking shifts on stations as far away as Baton Rouge LA (if we remember right), as far as we know, Kasper is still featured on the XM Radio "Kiss FM" satellite channel...

SPEAKING OF YOUNGSTOWN: A quick trip into Trumbull County the other day provided us with first hand confirmation of recent radio moves there.

We did indeed hear ESPN Radio on the new "ESPN 96.7", known to the FCC as WLLF/96.7 Mercer PA, just over the Ohio border from Youngstown and Warren.

We also heard the station promote not only Pittsburgh Pirates baseball, but a simulcast of sister talk WPIC/790 Sharon PA's "PIC Sports Line". That move was already noted by PBRTV's local correspondent, Tom Lavery, and made it to Tom Taylor's "Taylor on Radio-Info" column.

But as far as we know, "PIC Sports Line" is not a daily show, and airs only on Mondays (a fact confirmed by the promo, which told listeners to tune in for the show on Monday nights).

The Youngstown Vindicator picked up on the WLLF changes in a Sunday item, noting that the new signal will return Pirates play-by-play to the Mahoning Valley...saying the 96.7 signal is available on "most" Mahoning Valley radios.

That was borne out in our drive into Trumbull County on Tuesday, though the signal is a bit fluttery in Warren and Niles. (Akron-licensed and Cleveland-based WAKS/96.5 puts a very strong signal into Trumbull County, just one channel away.)

The Vindicator article also notes a campaign we saw on at least three billboards in the region: Fox Sports Pittsburgh is urging Mahoning Valley fans of Pittsburgh teams to sign up for DirecTV, which carries the network for Youngstown market viewers.

Time Warner Cable's massive Northeast Ohio system does not carry Fox Sports Pittsburgh in the Youngstown market, which the article says is due to cost issues.

When asked about this earlier by an OMW reader in the area, we turned to TWC's Travis Reynolds, who told us that "we simply do not carry (Fox Sports Pittsburgh) in that area. Even without Fox Sports Pittsburgh, hockey fans can still see NHL games on Versus (Channel 323), NHL Network (Channel 324 on the Digital Sports Tier) or the local NBC affiliate, which is WFMJ (Channel 4)..."

AND ALSO IN Y-TOWN: We confirmed the name change at Beacon Broadcasting Christian/eclectic rock/talk WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA, which is now calling itself "C107.1".

We're not music playlist experts, but the "C" playlist seemed heavier on the Christian rock, and we didn't hear any secular pop/rock songs in our occasional listening...

AND CANADA: And an item from Canada that actually affects the Cleveland radio market.

Long-time CBC Radio One "As It Happens" co-host Barbara Budd is retiring at the end of April, after a lengthy run on the news magazine - some 17 years.

Budd's retirement affects one of the show's affiliates - Ideastream public radio outlet WCPN/90.3 in Cleveland carries "AIH" weeknights at 8 PM, via its U.S. syndication by American Public Media...

Monday, April 05, 2010

Notable Events

Clearing out the "Already Posted On Twitter" file, and other things...

CLEVELAND RADIO NEWS LEGEND PASSES: For decades in the Cleveland market and beyond, Ken Courtright was synonymous with the phrase "radio news".

Courtright passed away Saturday in New Philadelphia.

Though he spent a lot of time in his native Tuscarawas County, including two decades as news director of Tuscarawas Broadcasting talk WBTC/1540 Uhrichsville, Courtright spent a lot of time at major Cleveland stations.

From our own item in 2007, when Courtright first took ill:

Ken started his radio career at the age of 14 at WJER in New Philadelphia, and went on to a long and storied career at stations like Cleveland's WWWE/1100 "3WE", along then-WJW/850, WERE/1300, as well as then-WDBN/94.9 Medina and then-WSLR/1350 Akron. (We trust regular readers already know the current calls, format and dispositions of all those stations.)

We're told after becoming news director at WBTC/1540 Uhrichsville in the final stage of his long run doing radio news, Mr. Courtright returned to the station now known as WTAM for part-time work.

Local radio historian Jim Davison passes along a letter from Courtright to another Cleveland radio legend, the now-late Bill Randle, describing Courtright's Cleveland start as a full-time newsman at WERE/1300 while Randle worked there. (Davison also provided the picture we've used in this item.)

Courtright wrote the letter in 1997 while listening to Randle's show on then-standards WRMR (then at 850 AM).

An excerpt:

“Hearing you brings back memories of the most fantastic radio operations ever to hit Cleveland airwaves. I started there early one Sunday morning in June of 1956, where I got to read newscasts, and one day got the chance to introduce a Indians game which was delayed by rain and I had the chance to announce the records I played (oh my God) over the full 65 station network that carried the ballgame until the rain ended”.

“One day, engineer Dick Pollack informed me that since Bill Randle was not likely to make it in on time, I would have to fill him for Bill…But not to worry…Dick would tell me what to say. So I did go on playing records…and at 5 PM that day, you arrived Bill, and had me stay on until 6 PM…working with you for that 5 to 6 PM hour until you took over your Higbee Top 10 Radio Show. As I was leaving after 14 hours, you suggested that I could come aboard full time and would talk to the manager.”

“The following day, Monday, Ed Stevens call me at the Ashtabula station and told me to turn in my notice and that I was full time now at WERE 1300 AM as soon as I could make the trip to Cleveland. Ed explained how the station operated on the “Star” system. I had to park in the News Department parking area only, and that I had to learn the news business from Jerry Bowman and Wayne Johnson”.

In addition to his time at WERE, Courtright was also heard on many incarnations of 1100 AM in Cleveland - KYW, WKYC, WWWE "3WE", and as noted in our previous item, even on the current WTAM as a weekend newscaster in the 1990s.

Courtright was also heard on the old WDBN/94.9, then in Medina (now Akron market country WQMX), WSLR/1350 Akron (now sports WARF), WQKT/104.5 Wooster, and on stations in Florida.

And two of his children ended up going behind a microphone themselves.

Daughter Julie started her radio news career at country WTUZ/99.9 Uhrichsville, then moved to another locally owned radio operation in Northeast Ohio, Doug and Lorie Wilber's country WOBL/1320 Oberlin and oldies WDLW/1380 Lorain.

We're told she left the stations in 2008, and we don't know if she's still in broadcasting.

Son Alan operates his own voice-over business in Medina, and worked in news for Rubber City Radio oldies/news WAKR/1590 Akron until 2009.

We're told that Ken Courtright passed away "just in time for the 5 PM news" on Saturday...

THE WWL HITS MERCER COUNTY: Nominally in our coverage area since it's in the Youngstown market, a Western Pennsylvania radio station has apparently made a rumored format flip to sports.

Word came out late last week from the folks at RadioInsight that Cumulus established a new website for "ESPN 96.7", which would signal a coming format change for WLLF/96.7 Mercer PA.

The station, run out of Cumulus' second Youngstown-area "Radio Center" in the Sharon PA suburb of Hermitage, had been running Jones Radio's Adult Contemporary format as "96.7 The River".

But the WLLF web stream is playing the new ESPN Radio format today, complete with the new "ESPN 96.7" logo on the web player.

The change likely came today due to the start of another key piece of programming for "ESPN 96.7" - Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates open their 2010 season today.

The move means a return of the Pirates to Mercer County radio, and by extension, the portions of the Ohio side of the Youngstown market served by the WLLF signal.

Beacon Broadcasting last carried the Pirates on WLOA/1470 Farrell PA and simulcaster WGRP/940 Greenville PA, but stopped carrying the team somewhere around the stations' format change from Sporting News Radio to classic country. The Pirates had also once been carried on WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA, now Christian/eclectic rock/talk "Indie 107.1".

And the Pirates were also once heard on WLLF's Youngstown sports sister station, Cumulus sports WBBW/1240 Youngstown.

We don't know for sure, but it appears WLLF will be run separately from WBBW, carrying mostly the unvarnished ESPN Radio national feed, with the Pirates and, presumably, local Pennsylvania high school sports play-by-play somewhere in the mix. (The station is already promoting "live high school sports".)

And a piece of trivia: The WLLF call letters come from the station's long-ago days as the Pennsylvania-side simulcaster of rock WNCD/then-106.1 Niles "The Wolf".

Since that time, the stations have come under different ownership and formats, with today's 106.1 now Clear Channel classic hits WBBG "Big 106.1"...and the WNCD calls and format now residing on Clear Channel's 93.3/Youngstown.

WLLF spent a number of years as a smooth jazz outlet before taking the Jones Radio AC format, which preceded today's flip to ESPN sports...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Channel 5 General Manager Out

It's official. OMW hears that Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 general manager Viki Regan is no longer in the building.

Well, maybe we should say "she's no longer the general manager" as of Monday, because we hear she actually hasn't been in the building for some time, as her status at Channel 5 was being negotiated with upper Scripps management over the past week or so.

We're told that she couldn't see eye to eye with her Scripps bosses over the direction of the station, which led to her exit.

OMW hears that an interim general manager won't be appointed, as Scripps hopes to have a permanent replacement for Regan in the next few weeks.

The long lead time to Regan's exit means the rumors were flying. We've heard them for about a week, and for that matter, those rumors led to a story by Plain Dealer media writer Julie Washington on Monday, which we passed along on our Twitter feed:

Rumors flew around WEWS Channel 5 and the market on Monday that general manager Viki Regan might be leaving the station.

By the time Ms. Washington's story hit, at just before 5 PM on Monday, OMW hears that Regan was already the former general manager.

Regan joined WEWS in May 2008, coming off an 11 year stint as general manager of Hearst's WPBF, the ABC affiliate in West Palm Beach FL...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two Passings

Two local media fixtures from two very different parts of Northeast Ohio's media landscape have passed away in just the past few days...

THE PROFESSOR: Sports talk radio fans from the 1980s and 1990s know what the phrase "The Professor has died" means.

Geoff Sindelar actually started his run on local sports talk radio in a familiar place - as a caller to "Pete Franklin's Sportsline" on the old WWWE/1100 "3WE" in Cleveland. (Of course, another regular Franklin caller became Clear Channel talk WTAM's afternoon drive host - Mike Trivisonno.)

The Plain Dealer's Grant Segal helps our memory a bit, noting Sindelar's transition from caller to host:

In 1987, he took turns filling for the departed Pete Franklin on WWWE, then won the job outright.

"The Professor" moved on to become host of his own program on sports talker WKNR, then "SportsRadio 1220" at 1220 AM. He was one of WKNR's signature personalities, hosting drive-time talk on the station through much of the 1990s.

Lorain Morning Journal/Lake County News-Herald sportswriter Jeff Schudel has an article on Sindelar's passing here.

In the comments on this article, we found a link to a video of Sindelar doing an Internet sports talk segment on college football, apparently from 2007. That's where the picture comes from. (Note that if you follow the link, the video starts automatically.)

Sindelar stepped down from his WKNR show in 1997, citing a need to concentrate on his family business. The Plain Dealer's Segal notes that he took over G.F. Sindelar Co. from his father, a business "which sells products by manufacturers to businesses". Sindelar was always well known as the local sports radio talk show host with "a real job".

He was also well known as a connoisseur of sports collectibles, and the foremost expert on the topic on the radio in Northeast Ohio. If a local sports enthusiast wanted to know if a piece of sports memorabilia was a "good item!", Sindelar was the first person to ask.

We'd also forgotten "The Professor"'s TV work, including a North Coast Cable-based show "Sports 101" that was apparently seen nationally in the 1990s. (North Coast Cable was the original Cleveland-based cable system, which is today's Cleveland arm of Time Warner Cable, passing through Cablevision and Adelphia along the way.)

The Segal article and later media reports clarify Sindelar's cause of death Thursday as a cerebral hemmorage. Earlier reports, apparently based on information from friends, said he died of a heart attack.

Either way, at 62 years old, "The Professor" has passed away...

MOFFITT PASSES: Off the air, and in television, Jack Moffitt was a vital part of the local media scene.

Moffitt had a long career in television management, but his longest and most known stretch of work was as the general manager of WUAB/43, the Lorain-licensed station run out of Parma that by "playing favorites" became Cleveland's dominant independent station.

(WUAB, of course, is today's Raycom Media-owned MyNetwork TV affiliate.)

Moffitt didn't revel in the spotlight, so we - without help - couldn't tell you much about his career.

But his niece, Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting AAA WNWV/107.3 "V107.3" promotions/marketing director Suzy Peters, is an OMW reader, and put together a biography based on his personal notes. (She also passed along the picture we've used in this item.)

Services for Moffitt are scheduled for today (Saturday) at Chambers Funeral Home, 29150 Lorain Road in North Olmsted, with visiting hours 1-3 PM and the service from 3-4 PM.

Suzy Peters' biography of her uncle Jack is reprinted below...and we thank her for sharing, and offer our condolences to her and her family...


John “Jack” Moffitt, age 80, of North Royalton passed away on March 24th.

Born in Alliance, Ohio, Jack graduated from Lakewood High School, where he served as Student Council President, and went on to graduate from Western Reserve University in 1952 with a BA in speech.

His professional career began in 1943 as a curtain puller at the Cleveland Play House. He hosted a radio sports show on “Teen Time” on WJW radio from 1946-1948. He began his television career in 1947 as a page boy for WEWS, Ohio’s first TV station, and became a cameraman in 1948 as well as a film editor and news photographer.

He was drafted in 1952 and served in the Army Signal Corps as its first airborne TV cameraman, telecasting war games back to headquarters out of an L-20 Dehaviland Beaver during the Korean War.

He returned to WEWS in 1954 as their Public Service Director and Promotion Director before being promoted to Producer of all Dorothy Fuldheim programs. He took over as the One O’Clock Club Executive Producer in 1960 formatting the daily show with a live studio audience as luncheon guests.

In 1964 he joined WJW TV as an Account Executive. In 1968 he joined WUAB, Channel 43, as General Sales Manager and helped build the station and hire the staff. He became General Manager in 1972 and VP/GM in 1977. He left WUAB in 1985 to put a new independent station, KTHT in Houston, TX on the air.

From 1987 to 2001 he helped build several TV stations in Florida, Los Angeles, North Carolina and Georgia. He finally retired in 2001, capping off over 55 years in Broadcasting.

He was a founding member of the Cleveland chapter of NATAS and has won numerous awards, including 3 Emmy Awards.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In No Particular Order

Since we've been sporadic lately, here are some items that have taken place in recent days... in no particular order...and there are still more items we haven't touched yet...

"MISS BARBARA" PASSES ON: If you grew up on Northeast Ohio television into the early 1970s, you need no further explanation.

Barbara Plummer, known as "Miss Barbara" on Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5's local edition of "Romper Room", has died.

From her online obituary (we have the text, but don't have a link):

From 1958 to 1972 children across Cleveland tuned in daily to learn their Do-Bees and their Don't Bees, to have fun, and maybe - just maybe - have Miss Barbara see them through her Magic Mirror and say their names out loud on television.

Before, during and after her time as "Miss Barbara", Plummer would enjoy a long, active life.

From the obituary:

She was a mother, a wife, an active supporter of charitable organizations and, for a time, she was a local television personality. And that is the order of importance she would have placed on the various roles she filled in her remarkable life.

And more on her TV career, as one of the pioneering women in local television:

It probably would have been a beautifully normal life if she had not heard, in April 1958, that WEWS was advertising for candidates to host their version of the syndicated television show, Romper Room. She loved to say that she went for an interview only because she was curious to see a television studio. Whatever her motivation was, she competed with 90 other women for the position and was selected. After asking her husband if it was OK - she began a television career that would eventually have middle-aged baby-boomers coming up to her in the grocery store to ask, "Are you Miss Barbara? I loved Romper Room, but how come you never said my name?"

Barbara Plummer died March 20th at the age of 80, after a struggle with pneumonia and cancer...

RICK: Northeast Ohio's media community is abuzz with talk about, and well wishes for, a former local radio personality who is seriously ill.

OMW hears that former Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 night and weekend host Rick Gilmour is battling cancer, and has recently been transferred to hospice care.

We don't have details beyond that, but we felt it was necessary to pass this along so people can have him in their thoughts and prayers.

In addition to his work at WTAM, where he took the night shift after Morton Downey, Jr. left the station, he started as a late night host on now-Radio One talk WERE, then at 1300 AM.

We last heard Rick's name right before WTAM replaced the cancelled Jerry Springer radio show with a local show hosted by Bob Frantz. (Frantz is now working evenings, and the shift is now filled once again by Premiere's Glenn Beck.)

We'd heard a pretty reliable rumor that Gilmour would be a part of the local host rotation in the 9-noon slot before a permanent host was named, but Frantz was picked for the shift on a permanent basis the very next day.

Anyway, our sincerest best wishes to Rick and his family...

SELLING OFF: Akron-based Rubber City Radio Group is selling off its interests in Michigan.

You wouldn't blame local listeners to oldies/news WAKR/1590, rock WONE/97.5 or country WQMX/94.9 if they didn't realize that Rubber City has other stations in Michigan, but the company has operated a four-station cluster in and around Lansing for about 10 years.

Last week, it was announced that the Akron-based broadcaster would be selling those stations.

From the Michiguide site, courtesy of Tom Taylor's daily E-mail column:

Tom Taylor reports this morning that Rubber City Radio has agreed to sell its Lansing 4-station FM cluster (active rock WJXQ 106.1, modern rock WVIC 94.1, classic hits WQTX 92.1 and smooth jazz WJZL 92.9) to Midwest Communications for an amount that's not yet been revealed. Operating as Mid-Michigan Radio Group, Rubber City first bought into Lansing in 2000.

For Midwest Communications, it's an expansion eastward of its Michigan group of stations - it already owns 9 plus an FM translator in Kalamazoo, Coldwater, and Holland.

The sale has been filed with the Federal Communications Commission, and the agreement lists a price of $4 million for the four Michigan stations.

And the move means Rubber City will concentrate on its three hometown stations, along with the company's various radio station-linked websites, and the 24/7 online news station WAKRNewsNow and news site

SPEAKING OF WEBSITES: Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland has been struggling with its own for at least some of this week.

We first learned of this on Sunday, with the station advising Twitter followers that the website was temporarily down. We went to it, and found a Network Solutions "domain parking" page...leading us to wonder if the domain company put it on hold due to non-payment of fees.

A quick check of the WHOIS records for on Sunday morning showed that it was supposed to be valid through March 15, 2011.

No, it's not likely mega-giant Gannett can't afford to renew its domain name...the company isn't in THAT bad shape financially. However, it wouldn't be the first time that a large media corporation didn't renew the registration on time due to a simple oversight. The expiration date being a week ago Monday (renewed into 2011) would seem to support that theory of ours.

Whatever happened, apparently still hasn't been available to some due to DNS routing issues. From blogging colleague Frank Macek's "Director's Cut" blog on Tuesday:

...if you are still having problems, please send us an e-mail with a detailed description and include the name of your internet service provider (ISP).

Send it to our engineering techies at channel3 (at) and we'll do everything we can to help you with a fix.

From our own experience, if the DNS (Domain Name Service) is changed to route somewhere else - say, from Gannett's servers to Network Solutions' servers and back again - it takes a while for some DNS servers to catch up if the problem is fixed.

Here at the OMW World Headquarters, returned to our Mighty Laptop(tm) later Sunday morning, and has been fine since...

WHERE'D THEY GO?: The local Time Warner Cable mega-cluster, already trying to digest an HD channel lineup change and the changeover to the new "Navigator" digital cable box guide in areas that don't already have it, digested some channels right off the box last week.

The Plain Dealer reported that in the middle of prime time last Wednesday night, some 480,000 customers went without channels 2-20 on their cable boxes.

Judging from the counties listed in the story - Cuyahoga, Medina, Lake, Lorain and Ashtabula - it sounds like the outage affected those primarily in the former Adelphia area, and maybe the ex-Comcast section of the massive Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio system.

The high-definition/DTV simulcasts of the local stations were not affected (in the 400s or 1000s, depending on how far the "TV Made Easy" conversion has gone in your area).

Good ol' fashioned analog cable was also not affected...if you had a TV with an analog tuner (even a digital set with same) and no cable box, channels 2-20 worked with no interruption that night.

The problem was cleared up sometime Thursday morning.

Based on our limited knowledge, some of those lower channels are fed to digital cable boxes with a digital, standard-definition simulcast of the station, bypassing the "straight" analog feed. Why that was a problem last week, we don't know, but it would explain some of it...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Unloading The Pile

Our stack of unfinished items has gotten so large, we're not sure we can fit it in one update. But... we'll try, working backwards from the present...and we could have another update soon, as we're not sure we have everything out of the backlog file yet...

ROMIGH IN: As previously posted on our Twitter account, Clear Channel talk WKBN/570 Youngstown has made fill-in Mike Romigh, the former CBS Radio talk KDKA/1020 Pittsburgh host, its new permanent morning drive host.

Quoting Clear Channel Youngstown market manager and OMW reader Bill Kelly in a release earlier today:

"Mike deserves this opportunity. He has done a great job filling in for us over the past several years and we have been searching for a place for him. This is THAT place. We are fortunate that a person of Mike's caliber was available and our listeners and advertisers will continue to benefit."

Kelly adds that Romigh becomes just the third morning drive host on WKBN since 1980.

He has taken the place of Robert Mangino, the New Castle PA native who now does evenings on Romigh's old home station, KDKA. The other host, of course, was long-time WKBN morning man Pete Gabriel, who finished out his career as the morning driver at sister standards WNIO/1390.

Romigh's addition to the permanent WKBN lineup will be from 6-9 AM weekdays. Midday host (and Clear Channel Youngstown operations director) Dan Rivers adds an hour to his show, and will be heard from 9 AM to noon...

MARCH MADNESS: On our Twitter account, we passed along a link to a Dealer item on Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19's Thursday NCAA tournament broadcast schedule.

We don't have the station's schedule of other NCAA broadcasts, and can't find a schedule on either the "19 Action News" site, or the site of Youngstown's CBS affiliate, New Vision's WKBN/27.

We also won't be able to track this on a daily basis, sorry...

TWC LINEUP CHANGES: Time Warner Cable's massive Northeast Ohio system is in the middle of its "HD Made Easy" channel lineup change, which will scoot the system's HDTV channel lineup up into the 1000s.

At the same time, the system is pushing out the newer style "Navigator" cable box program guide into the former Adelphia areas in greater Cleveland.

TWC's Travis Reynolds tells OMW:

The channel and new Navigator migration is going well. We are on schedule to complete this by the end of the month.

As a general rule, anyone who already had the new Navigator, or those who've been transitioned to it in the past few days, should have the new lineup. As boxes migrate to the new Navigator, they'll then get the new channel lineup with the HDs in the 1000s, the 'Free 400s' and On Demand Offerings in the 500s.

That meshes with some reader feedback we've gotten, with word that the "legacy" Akron and Canton area systems, those in the original Time Warner footprint, have the new lineup.

Those in ex-Adelphia land will have to wait until the Navigator conversion takes place, and we've heard from readers that the conversion is apparently taking place box-model-by-box model. One reader in the former Adelphia area tells us he has one cable box model converted to Navigator, and another that hasn't undergone the conversion.

It'll apparently be a bumpy ride for some of the ex-Adelphia folks, but we're only halfway through March, the conversion target date set for the end of the month...

WEARIN' OF THE GREEN: St. Patrick's Day, and the annual parade, is a big deal in Cleveland, and Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio Network (NEON) is once again covering the parade live.

From a TWC release:

Parade coverage, which will air on NEON for the 8th consecutive year, starts at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17th, with a pre-event show featuring parade officials and hosts. The official parade step off is 1:04PM.

The parade will also be available beginning March 19 on Time Warner Cable’s Local On Demand (LOD) channel 411.

It'll also repeat frequently on NEON itself, starting Wednesday night at 7 PM...

THESE STATIONS CAN BE YOURS: If you have some money, that is.

OMW has dutifully reported that the Beacon Broadcasting chain, which has 5 stations along the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, is up for sale after the passing of Beacon owner Harold Glunt.

An OMW reader found the official description of the sale, with the asking price.

Are you sitting down?

Yes, for a cool $1.25 million, you, too can own five small stations in a below-top-100 market with a depressed economy, when the prices for radio stations have fallen through the floor due to the down national economy.

No, we're not making that figure up, and it's not a typo: one-and-a-quarter million dollars for sports WANR/1570 Warren and its daytime simulcaster, WRTK/1540 Niles, classic country combo WLOA/1470 Farrell PA and WGRP/940 Greenville PA, and the class A FM in the group, Christian/eclectic rock/talk WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA.

In case a million and a quarter is too rich for your blood, the stations are also helpfully priced by state - the Ohio stations, WANR and WRTK, are listed for $400,000, and the Pennsylvania stations, WLOA, WGRP and WEXC, are priced at $850,000, both prices in cash (as is the overall price).

The stations' owned land and owned transmitter sites are included in the deal, and leased land and facilities are priced out in the listing, which also notes the recent format change at WRTK and notes revenue at all five stations at "approx. $12,000 a month".

All five stations together do not approximate full coverage of the Youngstown market (particularly much of Mahoning County). But we know that Glunt put some money into equipment upgrades early on.

To put some of this in perspective: Remember that CBS Radio sold its full market FMs in Denver, a market much larger than Youngstown, for $19 million. It'll be interesting to see how much the Beacon stations go for...

Monday, March 15, 2010

About Christine

We're still "away" from the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) for the most part, though we'd been planning a comprehensive update sometime soon.

Since we've been actually sitting on this one since mid-February, and are now getting questions on it from readers, we'll let this item free early.

Yes, Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 has a new meteorologist. From a station memo released about a month ago:

Christine Ferreira will join the Good Morning Cleveland team as Meteorologist. Christine comes to Cleveland via Portland, Oregon where she spent three years forecasting mornings for KOIN-TV. Prior to that, Christine was the Chief Meteorologist at KATU-TV in Victoria, Texas, where she guided 24-hour coverage of Hurricane Rita.

Christine is a graduate of Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania and is looking forward to moving back east to be closer to family in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Christine will start at WEWS on March 1, 2010.

That, she did, and the second question is - what happened to incumbent "GMC" weather anchor Jason Nicholas?

Though he isn't on "GMC" anymore, he's still at 3001 Euclid - at least as far as we know. Though it's hard to tell with vacations and such, we believe Jason will land on the weekend editions of "NewsChannel 5".

This item on last week still lists Nicholas as part of the "NC5" weather team:

Ferreira joins Good Morning Cleveland news anchors Kimberly Gill and Pete Kenworthy and Chief Meteorologist Mark Johnson and meteorologist Jason Nicholas.

Then again, it was freelancer Eileen McShea we saw one recent weekday evening, subbing for Mark Johnson, not we don't know how the lineup is now set...

Monday, March 08, 2010

Big Monday

Our pile of news is large this Monday, so we might as well get it posted and out of the way...

TV MADE EASY: That's the catchphrase used by Time Warner for its latest digital/HD cable channel changes, which are taking effect starting today.

We've already heard from one OMW reader in TWC's Wadsworth system, who tells us that the flip of the HD channels has already taken place there - from the 400s to the 1000s on the cable lineup. (We'll need reader help here, as we won't be able to track the changes systemwide.)

That moves not only various cable HD channels, it moves the HD feed of the local broadcast channels.

For whatever reason, TWC is sticking to its exising analog numbering system for the broadcast channels, which means - for example, as Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 points out on its website - TWC viewers in Akron will see Fox 8 HD on cable channel 1009 (analog is on 9), and in Cleveland, it'll be on Channel 1008 (analog is on 8).

The "off channel placement" of local broadcast outlets in Akron dates back to the earliest days of Akron Cablevision, trying to avoid ghosting caused by "ingress" of the powerful over-air signals into the cable line. By the time the Cleveland area system was built in the 1980's, presumably, the company (North Coast Cable, Cablevision) was OK with on-channel placement...we presume due to better filtering technology in the newer system.

From a TWC press release on the move:

“Time Warner Cable is committed to delivering a robust offering of high definition channels to our customers,” said Vin Zachariah, Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio/Western Pennsylvania Regional Vice President of Operations. “We now offer over 100 HD channels, and as a result, we’ve virtually outgrown the 400-block in our lineup. So, by moving them to the 1000s, we enable ourselves to continue adding HD channels and make them easier to find for our customers.”

The channel shuffle will put HD channels on the 1000-equivalent of their digital cable channels: i.e. CNN at 350 will be paired with CNN HD at 1350, and so on. But for those who are still used to tuning in the analog version of CNN on cable channel 24 (which still exists, even on digital or HD boxes), there is no such easy math.

TWC says the process will take place through the end of March.

WHILE WE'RE AT IT: We have word from an OMW reader who is a subscriber to TWC's former Adelphia system not in northeast Ohio, but central Ohio.

This page shows that mid-Ohio is also going through the HD channel realignment, and that the ex-Adelphia systems are coming along for the ride.

Like the ex-Adelphia systems in the Cleveland area, those customers are also being fed the new "Navigator" program guide this month...

FORMAT CHANGE: Like its Beacon Broadcasting sister stations in the Mahoning and Shenango Valley areas, WRTK/1540 Niles is up for sale...which we reported last week.

While it waits for a buyer, WRTK has changed format.

The daytime station was heard over the weekend running a simulcast of Beacon sister sports WANR/1570, with a legal ID calling it "Fox Sports 1540" along with WANR's "Fox Sports 1570".

Until this change, WRTK had been running a Christian contemporary format. It was initially called "Freq 1540", but dropped the handle some time after sister Christian/eclectic/talk WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA changed from "Freq 107" to "Indie 107.1".

The rest of the Beacon Empire remains unchanged.

WEXC continues with its unusual mix of Christian and secular rock music along with syndicated conservative talk (Premiere's Glenn Beck and Jason Lewis). And WLOA/1470 Farrell PA and WGRP/940 Greenville PA continue with their satellite/computer fed classic country format...

CHUCK'S BACK: We're not entirely sure if SportsTime Ohio was created as part of a Full Employment Act for Cleveland TV Sportscasters, but it's provided Chuck Galeti with a landing place.

STO will debut "Chuck's Last Call", a call-in show that will air after Cleveland Indians telecasts, on April 7th.

From an STO release:

“I’ve been in radio and television for 23 years and to finally have my own show that puts the fans first is great. I’m thrilled to be on SportsTime Ohio and the fact that they are giving me this opportunity is fantastic,” said Chuck Gateti.

Galeti, of course, was most recently a sports anchor at Raycom Media's CBS/MyNetwork TV combo WOIO/19-WUAB/43's "19 Action News", and in addition to past work for Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3, has also done radio sports talk at Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100. He started his TV career at Youngstown's WFMJ/21, the Vindicator-owned NBC affiliate.

About that "Full Employment Act" line - STO has been a landing place for many displaced over-air Cleveland TV sportscasters.

Former Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 sports anchor/reporter Sue Ann Robak is among many who have done work for STO (in addition to filling Galeti's vacancy at WOIO on a freelance basis, until the hiring of WTAM's Mark Schwab).

And former WKYC'er Mike Cairns is still in the building at 13th and Lakeside doing work for STO. He'll fill-in today on the network's "All Bets Are Off" show normally hosted by Bruce Drennan, who is jetting back with producer Gene Winters from Cleveland Indians spring training in Goodyear AZ.

(Also in outer-suburban Phoenix watching the Tribe this week: Rubber City Radio oldies/news WAKR/1590 Akron morning host Ray Horner and VP/information media/OMW reader Ed Esposito, and Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria staffer Tim Alcorn.)

SPEAKING OF THE VINDICATOR: We got some questions from Youngstown-area readers about the commercial teases airing on WFMJ/21 during the Winter Olympics - touting a "new newspaper" for the Mahoning Valley.

Was the Vindicator about to get some (more) competition? (Remember, the Youngstown newspaper also competes in much of the Valley with the Warren Tribune-Chronicle.)

It didn't take long for some of our smarter readers to piece the story together.

For one, WFMJ is owned by the Vindicator. Would the station even accept an ad from a would-be competitor to the print side of its operation?

For another, spots during the Winter Olympics would be prohibitively expensive for a startup operation.

And for a third, the Mahoning Valley economy continues to reel, even compared to the national economic downturn. And for a fourth point, the newspaper business is cutting back, back, back, even in areas with a better economy than Youngstown. Who starts a new newspaper in 2010?

The Winter Olympics spot should have been a clue, as it costs the Vindicator nothing to "advertise" on its co-owned TV station.

Sure enough, the "new newspaper" is actually a revamped Vindicator, made possible by the purchase of a new, er, used $6.8 million press from the Los Angeles Times.

The Vindicator took the opportunity for a redesign, which the paper freely admits will result in cost savings from a smaller form factor needing less costly newsprint.

You can read all about it here on the "Visual Editors" blog...or follow this link to the Vindicator's own stories on the changes...

TOLEDO CHANGES: It looks like religious operator CSN Radio (Calvary Satellite Network) is about to take over WTOD/1560 Toledo from Cumulus.

So says a page on CSN's website, with a message dated March 4th:

88.9 FM Pemberville, OH (W205BP) and 100.7 FM Toledo, OH (W264AK) will soon be replaced with the full-power signal of WTOD Toledo, OH on 1560 AM.

Our Northwest Ohio reader who tipped us to this confirms that the 100.7 translator is indeed off the air.

But what we don't know - what will Cumulus, which got W264AK in the trade with CSN, do with the translator?

There's been all sorts of speculation in the market, mostly speculating around Cumulus using an existing station's HD2 feed to power anything from a revamped WTOD talk format to alt-rock, once heard on now-former WRWK/106.5 Delta - now a simulcast of sports WLQR/1470 as WLQR-FM.

We're here to tell you that we don't have any handle on 100.7's future, other than the fact that it has a construction permit to move to 100.9 from a more central location in Toledo...the facility is apparently far enough from the North Central Ohio town of Clyde, which boasts full-power BAS Broadcasting country WMJK/100.9 "Coast Country"...

AND FINALLY:'s always excellent columnist Tom Taylor ("Taylor on Radio-Info") picked up on our story last week about the end of the "translator threat" to Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 Kent "The Talk of Akron", by a moved-in translator permit on 100.3 in the far western Cleveland suburb of North Ridgeville that has since been dismissed.

Tom added some details in his newsletter this morning...going through sale documents that we origially did not.

According to those documents, religious translator storehouse Edgewater Broadcasting agreed to sell W262BN to Radio One (subsidiary Blue Chip Broadcasting) for $100,000. Radio One put down a $5,000 deposit, which Taylor presumes they'll want back...and we make the same presumption, based on the language in the assignment agreement.

One clarification here: In going through FCC records, it appears that W262BN retains a valid license - under Edgewater's ownership - for a Lorain-based facility. The applications dismissed as a result of WNIR's actions were for a move to a Cleveland license city, with new facilities on a Verizon Wireless cell tower in North Ridgeville. (As we pointed out before, FM translators to not need to show coverage standards for license cities.)

Whether anything happens to that original license, which as far as we know has not regularly been on the air, remains to be seen...