Taking A Short Breather

Just a note: This is not one of our much-ballyhooed “hiatuses”, but we’ll be mostly be taking the rest of the week off from the beast that has become the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

We’re recharging the batteries, as it were. Expect us back by Monday, or before if we get bored. Just don’t expect multiple daily updates until early next week.

To hold you over until then…some stuff we’re clearing out of the “inbox” from this week, along with stuff from various sites. We won’t go into much detail about the non-original material, some of which has been out there for a day or three…

RADIO FREE FALL: In an unusual move for a station about to change format, Clear Channel’s WARF/1350 Akron has brought out some numbers – to the public – to explain the flip Friday from liberal talk to sports.

Quoting from the very same “Radio Free Ohio” page we linked earlier, now updated:

While Progessive Radio is surviving in parts of the country, it has not in Akron. In two years ratings have not improved, and revenue has declined, despite the remainder of the market seeing an increase in revenue.

Before the format switch to Progressive Talk, 1350am was an all sports station. In the Winter of 2005, (the last ratings period for the station as sports) 1350am had 17,000 weekly listeners. In the latest release of ratings, for the Fall of 06, WARF had 11,600 weekly listeners, and was on the decline.* (Source: Arbitron Fall 05 and Winter 06 Akron Metro Persons 12+ Monday-Sunday 6am – Midnight)

Now, we know you can slice and dice Arbitron numbers in any way, and the 12-plus numbers are, as anyone in the business knows, “vanity” numbers.

But the facts remain as we pointed out earlier. Simply put: even with similar (lower) ratings, sports outsells liberal talk, at least at this juncture. It “sells above its numbers”.

The phrase “revenue has declined” says it all here, about why the current format at Akron’s 1350 is going away Friday morning…

Y-TOWN PD SHUFFLE: Two Clear Channel Youngstown properties are getting new program directors, according to AllAccess.

And one of those new programmers is an existing one, as rock WNCD/93.3 PD Steve Granato takes over the same duties sister hot AC WMXY/98.9 “Mix 98.9″.

That job is open because of a departure – sister top 40 WAKZ/95.9 “Kiss FM” PD Jerry Mac, who’s been there for some time and also programmed “Mix”, is headed for new duties as operations manager of the NextMedia cluster in coastal North Carolina (Wilmington, et al.).

The move has left PD openings at WNCD and WAKZ. Can one person fill both? We’re just asking a question, not dropping any hints…

THE DENNIS MILLER WATCH: This one is an original, thanks to a tip by regular OMW reader Nathan Obral.

Nathan tells us that Westwood One’s newly launched syndicated talker, Dennis Miller, has landed in Columbus on North American Broadcasting FM talker WTDA/103.9 “Talk FM”.

And his presence on the WTDA schedule pushes aside, umm, someone who’s used to being dumped for other hosts – Take On The Day syndicated advice talker Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

First, pushed off one station by Glenn Beck. Then, dumped to make way for Dennis Miller. What’s next for Dr. Laura, losing a clearance to Jerry Doyle?

We’re still surprised she hasn’t shown up on more of Salem’s conservative talk stations – though as reported here, they’ve hooked up with WW1 for Miller in a number of markets.

Or for that matter, on Salem’s teaching/talk outlets like Cleveland’s WHKW/1220 “The Word” – or to replace her lost Columbus station, WRFD/880 “The Word” in the Columbus market.

By the way, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) has not heard one pip out of Mr. Miller’s new show. Though it’s only carried in Northeast Ohio on NextMedia’s WHBC/1480, it’s widely available online…we just haven’t caught up with it yet.

We’ll give the erudite comedian/host a few days or weeks to get his show together…

CINCINNATI CALLING: Keith Mitchell has been programming Cumulus oldies WGRR/103.5 in Cincinnati. We don’t know how long he’s been doing so, or who hired him, since that massive swap in calls, frequencies, owners and formats down in the Queen City has us all confused.

WGRR has now installed Mitchell in the afternoon drive time slot…saying the former WMOJ “Mojo 94.9″ morning host was needed on the air. (And yes, that was the former “Jammin’ Oldies” incarnation of Mojo, before Radio One bought the name and the calls for the incoming 100.3 FM, and then tweaked the format.)

We hear the move displaces Jim LaBarbara from afternoon drive. The name didn’t ring any bells for us, but we’re probably too young – he had a stint as one of the WIXY/1260 “Supermen” in Cleveland.

We don’t know where LaBarbara lands – perhaps elsewhere on the WGRR schedule? He’s still listed in afternoon drive on the station’s website…which says he’s been on the airwaves in Southwest Ohio since 1969…

Finally, Akron/Canton News Closure Is Near

No, we don’t know if it was our incessant “coverage” of the lack of the WKYC/3-produced “Akron/Canton News” on the former Adelphia Summit County systems now owned by Time Warner Cable. But it looks like we’ll finally get our wish.

“Akron/Canton News” anchor Eric Mansfield, on his DiscoverNEO blog, says Akron area residents on the former Adelphia system should be able to see his program soon:

Don’t touch that dial: The official announcement is coming Friday from Time-Warner Cable but it looks like the Adelphia customers in Summit County will now be able to see Akron-Canton News as early as next week. I don’t have all the details yet, but it will help our newsroom finally reach a major component of the audience. I’ve heard from so many viewers in Copley, Fairlawn, Hudson, and all points in between, who’ve been frustrated with no access to the evening news. Watch for the full details later this week.

One question we don’t know the answer to yet: “Akron/Canton News” conflicts for a half-hour with TWC’s “More Sports and Les Levine”.

The “legacy” TWC system in Akron/Canton breaks away from Les’ show at 6:30 for the newscast, though the 11 PM repeat airing is broadcast in full on TWC’s Akron/Canton local programming channel 23…

Other WKNR Shoe Drops

Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland has officially announced the latest series of lineup changes.

As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer yesterday, WMJI/105.7-WMMS/100.7 sports director Mark “Munch” Bishop leaves Clear Channel for “ESPN 850 WKNR”‘s afternoon drive post.

Afternoon drive host Kenny Roda gets bumped 3 hours, and will take the 6-9 PM slot recently occupied by former mid-morning host Greg Brinda.

Brinda loses a regular, daily show, but will now front the station’s “10th Inning” Cleveland Indians postgame show.

You might remember that “10th Inning” was done by Brinda after earlier “cost cutting” moves by former owner Salem first knocked him out of 9-noon, to be replaced by now-SportsTime Ohio host Bruce Drennan…then, of course, Drennan’s legal problems forced the station to replace him with – Brinda.

The other big announcement concerns the addition of former Cleveland Cavaliers TV voice Michael Reghi to the WKNR team. Reghi will become permanent host of the station’s “Wine and Gold Post Game Show” covering the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bishop, Reghi, Brinda and Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin all join current WKNR afternoon driver Kenny Roda this afternoon at three. We hear Karmazin is out buying more microphones for the sparsely equipped WKNR studio…well, we assume he is with five people in the studio this afternoon…

Drennan On WTAM’s Bob Frantz Show

OMW hears that new SportsTime Ohio host Bruce Drennan will be on WTAM’s Bob Frantz show Friday at 9 AM. We hear he will answer ‘all’ questions, in what’s billed as his first “all calls” appearance after his release from prison…

EXCLUSIVE: Liberal Talk WARF/1350 Akron Flipping To Sports

UPDATE 3/28/07 1:45 PM: “Radio Free Ohio” has confirmed the end of the liberal talk format on an item titled “The End is near”, on the station’s website:

The End is coming.

The end of the progressive format on 1350 is coming on Friday March 30th at 8:59am.

Watch this space for more information.

The item does not announce the new format at this time, but we’re reminded that change from sports to liberal talk was also made at about the same time of day, around 9 AM.

Our original item is below…

———–

When the rumors started filtering onto our comments, we took a drive by the Clear Channel World Domination HQ/Southern Command on Freedom Avenue, and put our ears to the windows.

And before we were shooed off by a security guard, we confirmed the rumors.

Liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron is about to dump that format, following sister stations in Cincinnati and Columbus.

Starting Friday, the station will drop the progressive talk format and the “Radio Free Ohio” moniker for sports, with the on-air positioner “SportsRadio 1350″. (No word what they’ll do with the WARF calls.)

And sure enough, the domain “SportsRadio1350.com” is registered to Clear Channel’s online identity division, and was first registered Monday. At the moment, any website behind that URL is behind a Clear Channel password-protected firewall.

Though some of the details are still in flux, we are hearing that 1350 will carry its primary sports talk network programming from the Sporting News Radio folks.

It’s basically the only choice available to them.

Clear Channel arm Premiere’s FOX Sports Radio is spoken for – at the moment on both Media-Com daytimer WJMP/1520 Kent-Akron-Mars-Jupiter, and a new clearance on WHBC/1480 Canton in its talk format.

And ESPN Radio is now booming into Akron via Good Karma’s WKNR/850 Cleveland.

We haven’t yet heard if “SportsRadio 1350″ will launch any local non-play-by-play programming to add to its existing stable of team coverage deals, like the Eastern League’s Akron Aeros and the University of Akron Zips’ football and basketball teams.

But we noted in This Space a few days ago that the station is already carrying the entire NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament via Westwood One’s feed…which perked up our ears earlier.

And a birdie whispering out of the back door at Freedom Avenue also tells OMW that more play-by-play will be added.

On 1350’s list is not only the available Westwood One packages (we know competitor WNIR/100.1 has some of them, like NFL’s Sunday and Monday Night Football packages), but the new sports station is slated to become the Akron affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

The team is currently carried in the Canton market on Massillon sports outlet WTIG/990 “ESPN 990″. (And we checked with their official website this time – it’s “Blue Jackets” as two words. Last time, we printed “Bluejackets”, and got mercilessly lashed by Ohio’s hockey fans.)

Interesting twists in this format change:

* The move returns Tony Bruno to the 1350 airwaves. He had not been at FOX Sports Radio long, when the station changed to liberal talk. Since then, Bruno landed in SNR’s late-morning (ET) slot. And as far as we know, Bruno was also heard on 1350 before FSR, which brings us to…

* By adding SNR, 1350 has now officially run through all three major 24/7 sports talk radio networks. The station launched sports before Clear Channel took it over as “ESPN 1350″. CC kept the network for a time, then went to FOX Sports Radio, which was carried until the change to progressive talk.

The format change is no surprise to us.

While some individual hosts are still doing well, the liberal talk format as a whole reached its peak well over a year ago.

The format has basically become the “Jammin’ Oldies” of the 2004-2006 time period – the experimental, “new” format used by Clear Channel and other companies to prop up second and third-tier AM stations that used to run sports, standards or oldies.

Akron isn’t the only market where the libtalker has gone back to sports.

It’s not that they can burn up the ratings with the format – 1350 certainly didn’t in its FSR days – but you can sell sports well beyond the format’s ratings.

It’s a truism that has been solid wisdom since they first put a local team’s play-by-play on the radio.

Add to the fact that sports is a “male magnet”, and it’s an easy sell for people wanting to sell products to men. It’s practically the raison d’etre for the format, particularly in a day where radio stations sell to fragmented parts of the population.

Over on the liberal talk side, many of the hosts aren’t commercially friendly. Even with former SNL star Al Franken headed off to run for the U.S. Senate, much of what’s left of Air America Radio sounds like “preaching to the choir”, and Air America is still a component of many stations in the format.

If the folks fronting liberal talk radio would only take Jones Radio’s Stephanie Miller and clone her, the format may work as a whole. OK, so some of the clones would be male. Some of them would tell less fart jokes. There might be a Kim Jong-Il impression or two replaced with something else.

But overall, Ms. Miller gets what nearly every other nationally syndicated liberal talk show host does not get…it’s about the entertainment, stupid.

Others are close, like Jones stablemate Ed Schultz, the “gun-toting, meat-eating lefty”. But even Big Eddie veers into more activism at times.

And liberal talk hasn’t been strong enough to overcome what the more-establishment conservative talkers had to endure after the 2000 election, when George W. Bush came into power and Republicans took over Congress.

The “heat” of politics hasn’t been enough to draw people into the tent for the liberal talk format in recent months, with Democrats in control on Capitol Hill.

The “future of liberal talk” may lie with hosts like Stephanie Miller and Envision Radio Networks’ Leslie Marshall making their way on general market talk stations. It’ll be an interesting ride, as one reason the folks at Air America Radio launched 24/7 liberal talk was that they didn’t believe liberal talk would fit in on conservative talk radio schedules.

Just our commentary, as it were.

In the day or so we’ll keep this open for comments, please refrain from direct political attacks on groups you oppose. We’d like to keep the discussion to RADIO, and related issues…not the usual back-and-forth between left and right you see on roughly 50 million other Internet sites…

UPDATE 12:19 AM 3/29/07: This item, per our usual policy, has been closed for comments. You may continue to comment on the newly posted item, which contains more about WARF’s format change…

BREAKING NEWS: Munch In, Roda Out for WKNR Afternoon Drive

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Arts & Entertainment blog reports big changes at Good Karma sports talk WKNR/850 Cleveland.

PD columnist Mike McIntyre reports that Clear Channel WMJI/105.7-WMMS/100.7 sports director Mark “Munch” Bishop is headed for the 3-6 PM slot at “ESPN 850 WKNR”, replacing Kenny Roda. McIntyre quotes unnamed sources that Roda will stay aboard at WKNR, though it is not clear what role he will take.

Bishop joins another former WMJI’er on the WKNR roster – mid-morning host Tony Rizzo. It would appear that the key to sports talk radio success in this market is doing sports for John Lanigan!

We don’t know when “Munch” takes over the 3-6 PM slot. Some sources are suggesting it could be as soon as tomorrow, others say next Monday.

More as we hear more…

Random Tuesday Fodder

NOTE TO KEN AND KITTY FANS: We appreciate your reading this article, which has apparently been linked to their website.

However, Ohio Media Watch is not connected to either the show, or to the former radio home of the show. We are an independent online media publication that owns no broadcast facilities.

If you wish to reach Ken and Kitty, please hit the BACK button on your browser and contact them directly via their website.

Thank you!

–The Management

————-

We’ve got some flotsam and jetsam. Just what IS “flotsam and jetsam” anyway?

KEN AND KITTY AND OUT: AllAccess reports that after taking all the trouble to move them to a new radio home in Cincinnati, “Ken and Kitty” have departed now-Bonneville-ex-Entercom country WYGY/97.3 “The Wolf”.

This item will be much longer than it should be. For one:

* Entercom got 97.3 in the first place by buying it from CBS Radio.

* Bonneville bought many Entercom stations, including 97.3.

* 97.3 used to be alt-rock WAQZ, back in the CBS Radio days.

* Susquehanna owned the original country outlet in Cincinnati with the WYGY calls.

* Cumulus bought Susquehanna

* Cumulus moved WYGY’s country format and name from 96.5 to 94.9, eventually launching FM talk “SuperTalk FM 96.5″.

* Entercom, the departing CBS Radio, Cumulus, the dog catcher, Citgo, Marathon, and the guy who runs the hot dog stand on Fountain Square swapped stations.

* Entercom picked up the WYGY calls and intellectual property to move it to 97.3 as young-skewing country “The Wolf” (a standard Entercom country brand).

* Throughout ALL of this, “Ken and Kitty” did the morning show on WYGY, wherever it was broadcasting, and whichever company owned it. And all of this happened within the year or so, most of it in the past few months. In fact, the picture/logo we used above was swiped off of the “96.5 The Star” website, which still exists to this day.

Where’s the aspirin when you need it?

We’re probably wrong about the order here, and maybe even some of the facts, but it’s something close to that.

We don’t hear any rumblings from Bonneville/Cincinnati, but we wonder if the young-skewing country format is long for 97.3? Blowing out your morning show, which would seem to be a successful one from here, is a sign of that sort of thing.

AllAccess quotes WYGY PD Marty Thompson as saying a “major announcement” about mornings on 97.3 is due “soon”.

As for the show’s part, they’ve posted a farewell message on KenandKitty.com:

Ken & Kitty fans, it is with a heavy heart that I have to let you know that the new company (Bonneville) that just purchased the Wolf Radio Station has decided not to make us a contract offer. :( I know that it is frustrating when radio stations make changes and don’t announce it on the air, so I thought I’d post this message. We are trying to talk to other radio stations in town and I will let you know on this website as things progress!

Kitty and I want to thank all of you who have tolerated us and participated in our show the last 2 & 1/2 years here. You have made our jobs easy & so much fun stirring it up with us each morning. So again, THANK YOU!

Check back here next week for an update.
Respectfully Yours,
Ken

The AllAccess folks helpfully add that the pair is not wedded to country as a format, and will consider gigs in hot AC, top 40, rock and talk formats…

FIRST FULLTIME JOB: This item out of Toledo actually has a Northeast Ohio connection.

He’s David Holmes, the Kent State University graduate who won ESPN’s “Dream Job” competition, giving him a one-year job as a sports anchor on the cable network.

We didn’t run into him much in our forays watching The Worldwide Leader of Sports, so we figure he spent most of his time on ESPNews.

(Or is that ESPNNews? Taking out the extra N makes it sound like a network for psychics.)

The Uniontown native has been hired by Toledo ABC O&O WTVG/13, where Toledo Blade media columnist Ron Musselman says Holmes will be a sports photographer/reporter and fill-in anchor. He replaces Hakem Dermish, who is headed for Washington DC NBC O&O WRC/4 in a similar role.

Holmes starts at WTVG on April 2nd.

Now, here’s a question no one has answered for us yet. Quoting Mr. Musselman:

Holmes currently hosts an afternoon radio sports program near Canton.

Umm, IS there an “afternoon radio sports program near Canton”? What station is the Blade media writer talking about? We can’t find it on a quick Google search, but maybe we’re missing something…

Anyway, best of luck to Mr. Holmes.

We saw this article earlier in a Google News search, but a note on the “Director’s Cut” blog by WKYC/3’s Frank Macek reminded us to finally put it up. Macek says Holmes worked on the station’s Cleveland Browns-related programming while an intern out of KSU…

AND WHILE WE’RE IN A TV MOOD: And speaking of another WKYC-originated blog, one of our regular complaints may be close to being answered – soon.

We don’t check in with WKYC/3 Akron/Canton bureau chief and “Akron/Canton News” anchor Eric Mansfield’s blog nearly as often as we should. It is truly one of the better “behind the news” reports you’re ever going to get.

And Eric brought up the topic we’ve posted on the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) a dozen or so times – the lack of “Akron/Canton News” being offered to subscribers of the Time Warner Cable systems in Summit County formerly owned by Adelphia.

We’re one of those subscribers here at OMW World Headquarters, of course, but we do get a fair amount of E-Mail asking about it.

Eric weighs in on the topic in a March 9th entry:

We’re getting a good response from viewers about our return to cable channel 23 on Time Warner. The TWC folks tell me the Adelphia conversion is going very well and the folks in Northern Summit County who haven’t been able to see the Akron-Canton News will have it very soon.

While “very soon” apparently isn’t “March 27th”, it’s still good news for us.

Eric also retells the story of a technical glitch which put the “Akron/Canton News” on both Time Warner Cable 17 and its new (old) home of channel 23. Both channels displayed Mr. Mansfield’s video fine, but the old channel had him overlayed upon audio of movie previews…

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