FOX News Radio Sneaks In At WTAM

There won’t be a big production number about it, because Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland doesn’t carry full-length network newscasts…but it appears they’ve turned the corner with FOX News Radio.

In the past day or two, OMW has heard WTAM using only FNR wraps in their locally-produced newscasts. WTAM has also used FOX reporters for morning drive live hits, though that’s been going on for a while (and they’ve also used ABC reporters in the mix).

(UPDATE: Sunday afternoon, we did hear an ABC wrap in a WTAM local newscast.)

Unlike CC sister talk station WHLO/640 Akron, you may never know when ABC is “gone for good” at WTAM. The end of the contract with ABC will solely involve WTAM not playing ABC network spots, and they can add FNR before losing ABC.

WHLO’s transition will be more abrupt, as you’ll hear it – sometime in the coming couple of weeks – start running FNR’s new top of the hour newscast instead of ABC’s Information Network cast. Then, ABC’s product will show up on talk WNIR/100.1, as reported earlier here on OMW. We hear ABC will consider WNIR the “Cleveland market” Information Network clearance, as no other Cleveland station will pick up that “main” feed. There’s really no home for it, with no other major news/talkers in the Cleveland market, and Salem’s talk WHK/1420 (or sports WKNR/850) certainly isn’t going to pick up the ABC Information Network feed.

One note: As far as we know, WTAM will continue to run veteran commentator Paul Harvey, even after losing the ABC News product. And no, it’s not true that they’ll hang onto Paul Harvey because Triv demanded the extra 5 minutes rest at the beginning of his show. (It’s a joke, folks…)

As reported earlier on OMW, WHLO liberal talk sister WARF/1350 Akron “Radio Free Ohio” will hang onto an ABC newscast after the change, though not the same one they’re running now…the Information cast, in tandem with WHLO. In fact, aside from the sounders in the automation computer, WHLO and WARF pretty much simulcast every hour for the first 5 minutes or so…something which will change when the network newscasts change.

Dr. Laura’s Fall From Grace In Northern Ohio Is Complete

500 watt Canton religious/talk WCER/900 is now syndicated advice talk host Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s only Northern Ohio affiliate.

OMW doesn’t know when it happened, but Dr. Laura’s last Clear Channel affiliate in the region, talk WMAN/1400 Mansfield, replaced her with a delayed airing of her affiliation nemesis, Glenn Beck. WMAN’s website schedule now shows Beck running 3-5 PM and 6-7 PM, with an hour local news block filling the gap. Dr. Laura has been pushed off the WMAN schedule entirely, and doesn’t even air in nights or weekends.

We know it must have been a recent change, as Dr. Laura’s own Ohio affiliate list, which does list WCER, also still lists WMAN carrying the show 3-6 PM weekdays. The list also has another glaring inaccuracy – Clear Channel’s WKRC/550 Cincinnati no longer carries the show. And WMAN’s carriage of the Glenn Beck show is in their affiliate list, in smaller, recently added print.

In 2000, Dr. Laura was riding high in Northeast Ohio. Her show aired weekdays 9-11:30 AM on Clear Channel talk powerhouse WTAM/1100 Cleveland, and many other Clear Channel stations in Ohio and beyond.

In late 2001, Dr. Laura was pushed off the WTAM lineup for a fellow Premiere syndicated host, Glenn Beck…who himself was replaced on WTAM recently.

She rebounded, landing on new Clear Channel talker WHLO/640 Akron in its midday slot. WHLO recently dumped her, first for TRN’s Laura Ingraham, then to pick up Beck when WTAM dropped him. CC’s WKBN/Youngstown also no longer carries Dr. Laura.

Our only surprise at OMW – why Salem’s secular talkers, like WHK/1420 Cleveland, haven’t made room for Dr. Laura on their schedules. Salem does run her in Pittsburgh and New York City, but on otherwise religious stations. Perhaps there’d be room for her on Salem religious WKHW/1220?

Her departure from many Clear Channel stations, first fueled by Glenn Beck’s then-new national show, has been set on fire now that Clear Channel doesn’t own the show anymore. Premiere still markets it on behalf of new owner “Take On The Day Productions”. Her new Ohio affiliate list – once WMAN and WKRC are removed – has her on a small handful of very small non-Clear Channel owned stations. On the list, Canton is now her largest market in Ohio by far…not hard when the list is populated by places like Findlay, Bellfontaine and Chillicothe.

Jerry? Jerry? Jerry?

The recently-released ratings contain the first measure of WTAM/1100’s experiment: replacing conservative Premiere syndicated talker Glenn Beck with liberal syndicated talker Jerry Springer, a Clear Channel product out of WCKY/1530 Cincinnati. (Springer is also heard on the Air America liberal talk network, but WTAM’s carriage of the show is not tied into AAR.)

If you believe numbers reportedly given out by Beck on his show recently, the news isn’t good for Jerry. OMW hears Beck told an area listener that Springer’s show has roughly a third of the ratings Beck enjoyed on the Cleveland talk powerhouse. Beck also noted something we alluded to in the 12-plus number breakdown earlier on the blog – his presence on Akron CC talker WHLO/640 has helped bring that station into the Cleveland ratings book for the first time in ages.

OMW would like to remind various radio observers that Rome wasn’t built in a day (no, not Jim Rome), and that one book does not a trend make.

You could almost consider the Beck-for-Springer trade a three hour format change for WTAM. Though both do talk radio shows, the audiences are not at all compatible. There’s always a cross-section of people who “tune in to hear what the other side says”, but it’s no surprise that Springer’s first book features an apparent 2/3rds drop in the audience. The challenge for WTAM – build back up from there. If anyone in the market can pull it off, it’s WTAM, which is a powerhouse 50,000 watt talk station that regularly scores in the ratings. (In other words, it can lose that much audience in one time slot without falling off the map, and no other AM in the market can.)

The problem here, in OMW’s humble opinion, is that Springer is not all that good of a host. He’s not awful, but he’s not all that great. Skills-wise, he pales in comparison to Beck, putting ideology aside…even after improving somewhat from a very rocky start. Meanwhile, anyone in Northeast Ohio in the mood for liberal talk in the 9-noon slot has an alternative: Democracy/Jones’ Stephanie Miller on Akron’s WARF/1350 “Radio Free Ohio”. Stephanie’s show is more humor-oriented, but her radio skills – she is a veteran of the Los Angeles market – run rings around Springer. And, unlike “Jerry”…she’s not doing her show as a springboard to a future political race…

Of course, though it puts a decent signal into much of greater Cleveland, WARF is not a Cleveland market station, and it’s certainly not nearly the signal equivalent of WTAM. But in listening to Stephanie’s show on and off the past few weeks, we’d guess that the folks at CC’s Akron/Canton HQ on Freedom Avenue have to be happy to hear a lot of Akron and Cleveland area callers…

There’s A Baseball Game Going On?

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about Salem sports WKNR/850 Cleveland’s behavior during daytime Cleveland Indians games. The behavior – basically – is that the market’s only full-time sports talk station acts like the Tribe doesn’t exist while they’re playing during the day.

‘KNR’s sports update anchors are apparently not giving the Indians score while they’re still on the field, and its sports talkers aren’t talking Tribe while the team is playing. This only happens when the Indians play before 7 PM weekdays, as WKNR has no regularly scheduled local sportscasts after 7.

Why would the market’s only full-time sports talker ignore the game that’s going on?

Well, one would presume that they fear people hearing about a good game, and flipping the dial to the station’s chief competitor, Clear Channel talker WTAM/1100, to actually listen to Tom Hamilton, Matt Underwood and Mike Hegan call the game on the team’s flagship station.

Some have suggested that legalities force WKNR to ignore the Indians during day games. That can’t possibly be the case. The only legal hot water would involve WKNR’s anchors or hosts doing impromptu play-by-play of the game while it’s going on, which would be a definite no-no.

But there’s no legal prohibition against station sports news anchors, or hosts, simply giving the game score.

Our suggested happy medium: Have the anchors briefly give the score, but not dwell on it, and use the score as a way to promote the station’s “Tenth Inning” show with Bob Karlovic. (“Tribe 4, A’s 2 in the 8th, and a reminder, talk about the game with WKNR’s Bob Karlovic and the ‘Tenth Inning’ show…”) We also don’t expect WKNR afternoon host Kenny Roda to get on and say “hey, there’s a great Indians game going on now!”, but general talk about the team (not in the context of the current game) shouldn’t be verboten.

Of course, OMW and others have suggested that WKNR program director Michael Luczak actually use an out-of-station voice for ‘KNR’s imaging, but he continues to voice the imaging pieces himself. So much for being an armchair PD, eh?

That Long-Delayed Ratings Post

Here at the OMW World Headquarters, we actually went through the recently released Cleveland and Akron market ratings late last week, and had already outlined the highlights of what we wanted to touch on. But trying to divine anything from “vanity” 12-plus numbers often leads to disaster and blanket statements that are not held up by in-demo numbers, so we’ve held off, until now. The below covers some of the “highlights”, and not all stations are mentioned. We’ll focus mainly on stations with decent gains or significant losses, or which have made recent changes.

CLEVELAND

* Spring 2005 was good to Clear Channel country WGAR/99.5, which moves to a tie for first place with sister news/talk WTAM/1100. Though the Indians’ play has been somewhat erratic as late, the Tribe always helps WTAM’s spring and summer numbers.

* Infinity AC WDOK/102.1 slips a little, but still lands in fourth place in the vanity numbers.

* Infinity classic rock/Stern affiliate WNCX/98.5 moves up to sixth place. It’s hard to tell from one up book (and without in-demo numbers) if ‘NCX would be saved from a rumored restructuring after Howard signs off from his terrestrial radio career.

* Clear Channel Akron talker WHLO/640 shows up in the Cleveland book for the first time in a long time, with a typical out-of-town station number. It’s, as far as we know, WHLO’s first appearance in the Cleveland book as a talker, and probably dating back many, many years. Our semi-educated guess – Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity fans in WHLO’s more favorable signal areas are finding the station in droves.

* In the “where did the books land” department: Lorain County. Classic country WOBL/1320 Oberlin, which basically doesn’t make it out of the county, shows up.

AKRON

* Rubber City country WQMX/94.9 puts up a strong first place showing. Welcome to the Spring of Country, 2005, in Northeast Ohio!

* MediaCom talk WNIR/100.1 is off some, but still in its usual ratings range and still in second place in the market. ‘NIR historically bounces between first and fifth place.

* Rubber City rock WONE/97.5 provides more reason for the folks at the Akron Radio Center to celebrate, with a nice jump up to fourth place in the Akron book.

* As in Cleveland, Infinity AC WDOK/102.1 is off, but still in a relatively high position (5th).

* Clear Channel Cleveland rocker WMMS/100.7 is back to more usual Akron numbers from a down Winter 2005 book. It’s tied with steady sister Akron market Hot AC WKDD/98.1 in eighth place.

* Clear Channel Cleveland CHR WAKS/96.5 and Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 are both down around a point.

* In the news/talk division of Clear Channel’s Akron cluster, WHLO/640 saw no change. WARF/1350 is down to its historic levels as a sports talker, but OMW has no idea how much of the liberal talk format is covered in this book. 1350 dumped Fox Sports Radio for liberal talk in late May.

OMW’s new policy is not to cover the ratings released in the Canton or Youngstown/Warren markets, as they are not continuously measured…and “standard” markets can swing wildly in between their only two books a year.

WCER/Canton Recasts As Secular Talker

A small item at AllAccess.com:

“Religion WCER-A/CANTON completes its transition to secular News-Talk on MONDAY (8/1) with a new local talk show with JASON BURNETTE 6-7p weekdays. OM/ND JOHN AMRHEIN tells ALL ACCESS he’s also adding new imaging and more local news.”

Amrhein has actually posted about the station adding more secular talk on the Radio-Info Cleveland board.

The name Jason Burnette doesn’t ring any bells in the OMW World Empire, and a quick Google search on the name doesn’t reveal any links to either radio or Canton. The 6-7 PM slot would clip an hour off the station’s carriage of Take On the Day/Premiere syndicated talker Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

WCER recently settled on TRN’s Jerry Doyle for its noon-3 slot, after a brief attempt to run the syndicator’s highest profile host – Michael Savage – was nixed by Clear Channel Akron talker WHLO/640, which carries Savage live 6-9 PM weeknights, and claims Canton market rights to the show in its contract with TRN.

There’s no word if the station will continue to run various religious programs and features that are still on its website schedule, particularly at night and in early morning hours.

Job Listing: WMVX/Cleveland Looking for PM Driver

It’s been open for a while now, since Lee Ann Sommers scooted off to Denver, but Clear Channel Cleveland Hot AC WMVX/106.5‘s new PD has posted a job listing for the afternoon drive slot at “Mix 106.5”.

Here it is, courtesy of the jobs section of a website anyone looking for radio work should have on their favorites list, AllAccess.com:

“Cleveland’s MIX 106.5 is looking for our next star to make PM drive sparkle. Three to five years on-air experience with contemporary formats, strong show prep skills and a proven ability to shine at appearances required. WMVX is a rock based HOT AC. Send an MP3 (please keep them short), your resume and other pertinent materials to (DonHallett at clearchannel dot com) or mail your package to my attention: WMVX, 6200 Oak Tree Boulevard, 4th Floor, Independence, Ohio 44131. No calls please.”

(The E-Mail address above is modified by OMW to provide less food for spambots.)

Oh, we’re still figuring out how to word that look at the ratings…without sounding too much like a soothsayer. It’ll come soon.