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 Radio-Info.com 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 AkronNewsNow.com...
SPEAKING OF WEBSITES: Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland has been struggling with its own WKYC.com 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 WKYC.com 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, WKYC.com 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) wkyc.com 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, WKYC.com 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...