Browns TV Team Shaping Up?

OMW passed along a report earlier this week that former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar will be in the TV booth as color commentator for the team’s pre-season games this year – no matter which local TV station airs the four games next month.

Kosar wouldn’t tell reporters who will join him in that booth this year, but it appears this year’s play-by-play voice on TV is likely to be a name from the team’s broadcast past.

In a Thursday story on Kosar’s new TV job, Lake County News-Herald Browns beat reporter Jeff Schudel says that though it “hasn’t been confirmed”, it appears Jim Mueller will be the TV play-by-play voice on the Browns’ locally televised pre-season contests this year.

Yes, that Jim Mueller. The former WJW/8 sports anchor was a fixture on the Browns Radio Network for two decades, from the mid-70′s as a solo color commentator alongside Gib Shanley, to sharing the microphone with current radio analyst and ex-Brown Doug Dieken for much of the 80′s and 90′s.

That means Mueller was in the Browns radio booth over Kosar’s entire career as a Browns quarterback.

We’ve lost track of him, but it appears that among other things, Mueller has been doing public address announcing at major auto racing tracks, including Michigan International Speedway and Daytona Speedway.

There’s no word on if a third voice will join Mueller and Kosar in the Browns TV booth this year…

Syndicated Show – No Affiliates?

Monday is the announced launch date for the national syndication of WLW/700 Cincinnati midday talk star Mike McConnell.

However, unless we’ve missed it in the regular reading of trade websites over the past couple of months, OMW has yet to see any stations announced for McConnell’s syndication effort. A quick Google web and news search also shows no such announcements for the weekday McConnell show.

(The WLW host also fronts “The Weekend with Mike McConnell”, syndicated by Premiere on some 120 news/talk stations.)

And Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio writer John Kiesewetter talks about it on his blog on Friday… calling that day’s show the host’s “last local show” on WLW. Kiese, however, doesn’t mention any stations which have picked up the Monday-Friday version of McConnell’s show.

The syndication announcement has always seemed a bit “casual” to us. Instead of being handled by Premiere, like his “Weekend” show, stations wanting to pick up the midday version have been directed to contact Clear Channel Cincinnati AM operations manager Darryl Parks.

That led us to believe, from the start, that the show was basically destined for regional syndication, to air on stations within a few hundred miles of Cincinnati.

That model is well-tested, as various shows have been exchanged between Clear Channel’s Cincinnati operations and other nearby company outposts…the biggest current example is the presence of WCKY/1530 “Homer, The Sports Animal”‘s local programs on Dayton’s sister “Homer” sports outlet at AM 980/1340.

We seem to also recall that WLAP/630 Lexington KY has been involved in picking up programs from both Cincinnati and from WHAS/840 Louisville KY.

The 9 AM-noon ET time slot is the most crowded in talk radio. There must be at least a half-dozen “major” conservative/right-leaning syndicated shows in that time slot…many of them rotated on and off the air by stations like baseball teams rotate winded pitchers.

The landscape of late mornings is littered with the broadcast corpses of players like Oliver North, Tony Snow (who booked to a much higher profile gig at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) and others. In addition to Premiere’s own Glenn Beck, McConnell’s show will have to compete with the likes of TRN’s Laura Ingraham and FOX News Radio’s “Brian and the Judge”, and with stations’ desires to “go local” in the pre-Rush time slot.

McConnell is a very, very talented host who’s done very well for himself in Cincinnati. He’s also not just the “same old, same old” among those who are considered “on the right” in the talk radio spectrum. He’s excoriated political operatives on the right for such things as their handling of the Terri Schiavo case, and he’s more libertarian than conservative.

He also has ratings to back him up.

But…that 9-noon slot is a killer…

Weekend Grab Bag

A couple or three items floating around:

RANDY’S TALK: Gee, like we didn’t see it coming.

On Friday, Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown quoted “TV insiders” as predicting a settlement between Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19 and the Cleveland Browns – in what could be called “The 911 Call Flap”.

Later Friday, when we were dissecting Roger’s column, your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) noted that such a prediction was like predicting the sun would rise in the morning, and reiterated our own earlier prediction (TV “insiders” that we are, eh?) that the team would buyout WOIO’s contract, likely after the pre-season games air next month.

Today, in a wide-ranging interview with team beat reporters, Browns owner Randy Lerner talks about the controversy with “19 Action News”, with his quotes reprinted here in a story by Associated Press Cleveland-based sports reporter Tom Withers. Withers says Lerner is “confident the sides will work something out”:

“I think Channel 19 and our organization have started very productive conversations about how to make sense of this and have both parties come out feeling good about themselves,” he said.

Akron Beacon Journal Browns beat reporter Patrick McManamon echos the quote, and says Lerner “sees no problems finding a new broadcast outlet for the team’s preseason games.”

Wow. What a surprise! We imagine these quotes would almost ensure that WOIO gets a contract buyout after the 2006 pre-season games, and that the Browns get the opportunity to bolt from the Raycom Media Tabloid Superstation nearly a year early…after holding their noses through four pre-season games this year.

Again, remember the key here: WOIO AIRS THE MAJORITY OF THE BROWNS REGULAR SEASON GAMES NO MATTER WHAT, due to the station’s affiiliation with AFC-carrying network CBS.

OMW thinks it’s at least a small possibility that the team would buy out the station BEFORE the pre-season games this year, but we figure it’s somewhat unlikely due to the time frame involved. Pre-season game number one is a week from this coming Thursday.

Just a guess or two, of course…

KISS CANTON: OMW actually stumbled upon this on Friday, and so have others, apparently… it’s now peppered on some of our other items with anonymous comments.

Clear Channel has registered the domain name “KissCanton.com”, and for the moment, it redirects web surfers to the website for the company’s Akron/Canton hot AC station, WKDD/98.1. A quick check of the official registration info shows it has indeed been registered out of Clear Channel’s offices in San Antonio.

What to make of it?

There is, of course, the speculation that comes with a presumed new format for the company’s incoming FM signal at 101.7, which is likely a couple of months or so from making its debut north of the Stark/Tuscarawas County line. We haven’t been able to nail down anything on this, as we’ve heard speculation about formats ranging from top 40 to oldies to goodness knows what.

So, it wasn’t a surprise to us when we started plugging in “possible” domain names and discovered the newly-registered “KissCanton.com”. (For the record, we also tried variations of domain names such as “oldies1017.com”, “big1017.com” and the like, and the domains are either owned far away by non-Clear Channel stations, or not registered at all.)

There is also a possibility it means not much beyond Clear Channel Akron/Canton feeling the need to register such a domain for other reasons.

We’ll keep checking.

TWC-u-Soon

We’re just three days away from the expected takeover of the local Adelphia and Comcast systems by Time Warner Cable, and the company’s unleashing a promotional blitz.

Customers are getting letters in the mail about the change, and the company’s launched a new website called “TWCusoon” to help explain the changes to those leaving the Adelphia and Comcast universe in Northeast Ohio (and in other areas where TWC is taking over the local Adelphia and/or Comcast systems). Putting in a local ZIP code takes you to the site aimed at new TWC customers in the Cleveland market.

There’s actually not a lot of information there…even under the “FAQs” section. That area hints of possible channel changes, which OMW is told are actually listed in a newspaper ad today we haven’t been able to see.

OMW reported earlier that it appears the NFL Network and some other Adelphia (and Comcast) channels could go away as soon as Tuesday, and that customers of the merged-in systems could also gain some channels that are not currently available. We’re still not sure of the timeline, or if it’ll happen as soon as next week.

We also don’t know if Adelphia and Comcast customers will see immediate changes in local programming, either with existing programming (i.e. Adelphia’s “More Sports and Les Levine”) or with TWC’s incoming programming (i.e. WKYC/3′s “Akron/Canton News”).

Other stuff doesn’t appear to change for now, including involving the future conversion of high-speed Internet subscribers to the TWC “Roadrunner” system, conversion of E-Mail addresses, and any billing changes…

Big News Soon Out of Canton

OMW is hearing that big radio news is about to break out of Canton.

Could there be changes afoot at one local radio operation there as soon as Monday, or maybe even before then?

At Your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), we’re plugged in and will let you know as soon as we get more details. But you’ll want to be checking in frequently…

Ms. Serino’s Role at Action News

OMW has a little more information on what incoming “19 Action News” weekend anchor Danielle Serino, who’s inbound from Chicago, will do once she’s here.

In addition to sharing the anchor desk with new arrival Paul Joncich (late of KOVR/13 CBS Sacramento), Serino will do “investigative consumer reporting” for the WOIO/WUAB newscasts. That word comes to us from Chicago media beat writer guru Robert Feder’s Friday column in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Feder reports that Serino declined to sign a contract renewal with the Chicago FOX O&O, WFLD/32, last fall. She did similar work there, as we reported earlier this week.

There’s no word on if this means Serino will join “Action News” reporter Scott Taylor on the Dirty Dish Patrol…or if her arrival means it’s time for Taylor to – OK, say it with us, everyone! -”CLEAAAANN UPPPPP!!”. (We couldn’t resist.)

She’ll join the “19 Action News” team on August 16th…

Roger’s Friday Column

Our apologies for much of our absence today.

No, we don’t fly around town with a big red “OMW” on our chest, protecting the Northeast Ohio region against radio and TV crime. Sometimes, our life is as mundane as waiting for a tow truck at a local supermarket. But at any rate, we’re back and picking up today’s pieces, starting with Roger Brown…

Though the Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist has yet to report that FSN Ohio is signing up as the “Official Cable Home of the Browns” (seen here first, and exclusively, on Thursday), he’s hot on the trail of something we had not yet heard.

Roger reports that FSN Ohio is talking with the Cleveland Cavaliers about local TV exclusivity starting in the 2008-2009 season, in a proposed multi-year deal. Through the end of the 2007-2008 season, the NBA team’s rights are being shared between FSN and Raycom Media’s WUAB/43 “My 43″ (UPN -> My Network TV).

It’s the direction the Cleveland Indians went away from…dumping FSN Ohio’s exclusive contract this year in favor of starting the team’s own cable outlet SportsTime Ohio, which also airs games on NBC affiliate WKYC/3. STO has presumably also been interested in talking with the Cavaliers, as the new network is fighting with FSN Ohio for all the programming it can get.

Mr. Brown also quotes “local TV insiders” as predicting the sun is going to rise. Er, sorry, that the Cleveland Browns will buy their way out of the legal dispute with current-at-the-moment TV partner WOIO/19, the CBS sister station of WUAB.

We’ve gone on record as saying that 19′s basically stalling to keep the four 2006 pre-season games on the air, with that suit filed aimed at stopping the Browns from pulling the plug. The court process alone is likely to do that, as all four games air in August.

After that, pretty much anyone who looks at this thing with a brain cell believes that Randy Lerner and company will cut a check to buy the team’s way out of the contract beyond this year’s pre-season. WOIO would get its money, it would still be airing the regular season Browns games via its CBS affiliation anyway, and the team gets a clean break for 2007.

And we’re not even a “TV insider”, unless Roger’s reading our writings…

Roger also notes that the NFL Network is apparently going away on the lineups of local Adelphia and Comcast subscribers, when the two systems get folded into the Time Warner Northeast Ohio Empire next week. (Mr. Brown does not mention that the Browns/Steelers contest on NFL Network later this year WILL air locally on an over-air station yet to be named.)

OMW also hears that a couple of other networks go away at least for us soon-to-be-ex-Adelphians – like ESPNU, and ESPN2′s HD feed. But Adelphia folks will also gain some, including the HDTV/digital feed of WUAB/43, and TNT HD.

NFL Network is mounting an advertising blitz aimed at Time Warner and other systems which have not yet picked up the network…

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