An Early Midweek

Thanks to the Memorial Day holiday and a relatively slow local media news pace, this is our first update of the week…

THE CAT HAS LANDED: Those who remember the old top 40 format on Cleveland’s “Power 108″ – known today as Radio One urban WENZ/107.9 “Z107.9″ – might remember Cat Thomas.

Thomas was PD at then-WPHR, and was originally heard in nights. Though he was apparently nudged into morning drive at one point, most people who remember the station at all remember John “Records” Landecker…the legendary Chicago air personality who did mornings at “Power”.

(By the way, maybe we shouldn’t put quotes around that middle name…as Landecker has always said, “Records is REALLY my middle name”, legally, that is.)

Anyway, Thomas went on to a lot of success at Cox top 40 outlet WAPE in Jacksonville FL. He was operations manager for the Cox cluster there until his departure just a couple of months ago.

AllAccess reports Tuesday that The Cat Has Landed – as operations manager of Entercom Radio’s cluster in Austin TX. The group includes an AC and a Hot AC station, along with an AM talk outlet known as “The Juice”…

WE MISSED IT: We don’t know how we missed it, but Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland “ESPN 850 WKNR” let go a long-time station employee recently.

A Google search brought us to an article by Akron Beacon Journal sports/media writer George M. Thomas, who reported a couple of weeks ago that ‘KNR staple Neil Bender was let go by the station.

Says Mr. Thomas:

Anyone who listened to the station’s coverage of the Cavaliers or watched FSN Ohio’s Cleveland Rants would recognize Bender’s voice and face. He earned respect because of his knowledge of all sports, but he impressed with his knowledge of basketball. He asked tough and insightful questions.

We hadn’t heard much of Mr. Bender in recent months. His most recent assignment would appear to have been handling the morning local sports updates on WKNR’s low-wattage sister station WWGK/1540 “AM 1540, KNR2″. Fellow long-time ‘KNR holdover staffer Josh Sabo does the updates in afternoons, last time we checked.

For whatever reason, the local sports updates are still done separately in Good Karma land between “ESPN 850 WKNR” – handled by Metro Networks-based anchors Jeff Thomas and Daryl Ruiter, also holdovers from the station’s former ownership – and, well, what we’ll call “Mini-KNR”.

We don’t know who has the 1540 morning sports update shift after Bender’s departure, but we last heard Bernard Bokenyi doing them.

And Mr. Thomas’ column linked above also notes WKNR’s rising ratings in the most recent Winter book.

Those ratings were accomplished before Good Karma owner Craig Karmazin made his two biggest moves, hiring WJW “FOX 8″ sports anchor Tony Rizzo for middays and WMJI morning sports voice Mark “Munch” Bishop away from Clear Channel for afternoon drive.

While we’re talking about Rizz, Cleveland’s Multi-Media Sports Star (heh) got some publicity in the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s “TipOff” column on Monday, where the PD’s Michael K. McIntyre explored the whole “John Shaver” phenomenon – now a catch phrase/name on “Rizzo on the Radio”.

It apparently started with a friend of Mr. Shaver’s, who called in with his name as a guess for the show’s regular “Who Said That?” contest. John Shaver is apparently a local postal worker, with no sports connection other than a brief stint on his high school football team…

NO KARMA?: A brief item also from Good Karma land.

For whatever reason, Mr. Karmazin has apparently decided not to air his own evening sports talk show – “The Steve and Craig Show” with co-host Steve Politziner – in Cleveland.

It was originally expected to air on Good Karma’s first local radio acquisition, the station now known as “Cleveland’s AM 1540, KNR2″, when the WWGK daytime broadcast hours allowed it to air.

Fast forward to today, where 1540′s broadcast day ends after 8 PM, and the station is now listing FOX Sports Radio in the show’s live 7-8 PM time slot.

Of course, aside from a special weekend appearance or two during coverage of major sports events, “Steve and Craig” was not ever expected to air regularly on the Good Karma flagship sports outlet in Cleveland, WKNR.

For that matter, with his hands full running his two Cleveland stations – along with all the others in the Good Karma World Empire – we have no idea how often Mr. Karmazin’s show airs on even his original outlets…

TURNING ON THE HD: Our colleagues to the east at PBRTV.com note a new HD Radio sign-on in Northeast Ohio – just across the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, where Clear Channel hot AC WMXY/98.9 “Mix 98.9″ in Youngstown has apparently joined the digital over-air radio world.

PBRTV’s contributor in the nearby Shenango Valley area, Tom Lavery, notes that WMXY is only broadcasting its main signal on the HD Radio carrier for now, and offers no HD2 format – at least as of yet.

Elsewhere in Northeast Ohio, OMW hears another local station could be almost ready to join the HD Radio world…

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