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...