The Competitive Liberal Talk Situation Akron Never Got

For a few weeks this spring, the Akron market had two liberal talk stations. (Oh, OK, maybe one and a half.)

MediaCom’s WJMP/1520 Kent(/Akron/Cleveland/Mars/Jupiter), which has had just about every format under the sun including TV audio, had been running the Air America liberal talk network. Then, the 600 pound gorilla known as Clear Channel showed up in the middle of the market, announcing a change from sports to liberal talk for the station now known as WARF/1350 Akron. The announcement reportedly spurred MediaCom to dump AAR within hours of it, and the station’s now running the Fox Sports Radio feed formerly run by…1350.

While Akron never really got a competitive liberal talk situation, Sacramento looks like it’s about to get one. AllAccess reports that the market’s incumbent station in the format, KSAC/1240, is about ready to take on Jones Radio’s syndicated liberal talk product, including Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz in their live clearances. It repeats market rumor that Entercom standards KCTC/1320 is about to flip to the liberal talk format, taking the Air America product that KSAC is moving away from. (KSAC will have one host now associated with Air America, Thom Hartmann, whose national program is now sold by the network’s new syndication arm in competition with their own Al Franken. Hartmann also does a local morning show for Clear Channel’s KPOJ/620 in Portland OR.)

There is one other market with a nominal “competition” among liberal talk stations. San Antonio has two FM rimshots running the format – one, Clear Channel’s KRPT/92.5 Devine TX, the other, KTXX/103.1 Karnes City TX, runs the full Air America schedule…minus Jerry Springer, which KRPT picked up on its own before the deal between the show and Air America was announced. KRPT has the signal advantage, by far, as its signal is somewhat closer to San Antonio.

EDIT: We’ve been reminded of another recent competitive liberal talk situation, in the Monterey/Salinas/Santa Cruz CA market…where KRXA/540 Carmel Valley CA recently launched, and KOMY/1340 Watsonville CA added some Air America programming. KOMY is the sister station of KSCO/1080 Santa Cruz CA, and its ownership and management is, well, interesting. The station owner recently complained that he found it hard to sell the new liberal talk programming on KOMY, though long-time observers of his operation would likely lay more of the blame on the colorful, controversial owner himself. (Yes, Radio Equalizer’s Brian Maloney, former KSCO talk host, we’re sure you know this.)

KRXA, by the way, is one of Bill Press’ first affiliates, for his show which launched right here in Akron on WARF/1350.

And back locally, aside from the fact that comparing the signal of puny 1000 watt east suburban daytime rimshot WJMP to full-market 5000 watt WARF is a bit unfair, it’d have been interesting to see if WJMP would finally have shown up in the ratings competing with Clear Channel’s product. Probably not, still, because of the nature of 1520 itself…a poor “little sister” to MediaCom’s dominant talk WNIR/100.1…

And if the new Fox Sports 1520 doesn’t pick up disaffected 1350 listeners, even in Kent/Ravenna, it’ll be fun to see what format Kaiser Bill and company try next on their little AM station…


We Love Being Quoted In The Newspaper

Though we can’t prove it, OMW believes this site is widely read in local broadcast clusters throughout Northeast Ohio. And in the past, our musings on various message boards have even been printed in newspapers.

But this is the first time one of our reports has been quoted directly in a newspaper, as a piece of news.

It’s a bit old – as it had to do with the recent flip of Clear Channel’s WYBL/98.3 Ashtabula to country “98.3 The Bull” a month and a half ago. But OMW is quoted in the Ashtabula Star-Beacon’s article about that new station, back in mid-August. The Star-Beacon’s Robert Lebzelter quotes (with attribution!) our report of the new 96.1 Ashtabula FM application, won earlier this year by veteran broadcast engineer Dana Puopolo.

It’s a surprise to us, because we’ve never talked with Mr. Lebzelter, even via E-Mail. And it’s kind of a kick, actually, to be quoted and not even know it…though we wonder if the Star-Beacon’s readers wondered just what an Ohio Media Watch is.

For newspaper writers from Ashtabula, New Philadelphia or wherever – feel free to quote us, though we’d like this site’s URL in the article if your editors will let it in. And you can E-Mail us anytime, and we’ll be happy to provide more fodder for you. The E-Mail link is under the “View my complete profile” link to the left of this report.

If only former Beacon Journal radio writer Denise Grollmus had consulted with us first…she wouldn’t have prompted Stow’s mayor to check into zoning issues for a radio station that would only bear the Summit County city’s name on its legal ID once an hour…

Glenn Beck Does Akron

It’s been a heck of a year for Premiere’s Glenn Beck in Northeast Ohio. After getting unceremoniously dumped by Clear Channel talker WTAM/1100 in Cleveland after a long run, the midday host made a soft landing at sister talk WHLO/640 in Akron. And now, he’s making a landing in Akron in person.

OMW hears that Beck’s “Christmas Tour” will have Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall on it, on December 13th. Tickets will be sold through Ticketmaster, and will be available starting October 24th. Beck’s set to announce the entire list of cities next Monday.

It’s the second WHLO-sponsored visit by one of its nationally-syndicated hosts. ABC Radio (and Fox News Channel) host Sean Hannity stopped in Akron on the Sunday before the November 2004 election. Regionally-syndicated morning show “Quinn and Rose” (based at Clear Channel talk WPGB/104.7 in Pittsburgh) has also broadcasted live from the Akron market.

Early ratings would suggest that Beck brought to WHLO at least SOME of the Cleveland market listeners who missed him on WTAM, as WHLO showed up in the Cleveland ratings for the very first time as a talk station in the book after the move. Well, at least in the Clear Channel incarnation of the talk format. OMW doesn’t recall if the old Susquehanna-owned “WHLO News/Talk 64” made any appearance in the Cleveland ratings in the mid-70’s…though we CAN list the station’s entire lineup if you ask us.

In addition to his “southern exposure” into greater Cleveland via WHLO, Beck also makes it into much of the Cleveland market from the west, on Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria.

Wednesday Short Takes – Wooster and Canton

Just a couple of ’em this time around:

Short Take 1: Someone mentioned this to us some time ago, but we heard it for the first time this week. Dix country/sports WQKT/104.5 Wooster has been airing a local late afternoon drive show called “Best of the Best”, weeknights from 5-7 PM. The host is station vet Dave Dial (seen on this WQKT staff page), and the show mixes country music and local news and sports features. Dial was with the station part-time in the 1990’s, and returned a few years ago.

For one, it airs frequent local sportscasts, and is the new home for features which used to air on the station’s “News on Q” evening show – such as the local stock market report. From listening on Tuesday, it sounded like the station “stayed local” with music in the slot primarily to fit in the heavier commercial and feature load that used to air in the slot once taken not only by “News on Q”, but also the former “SportsTalk” program…which aired on WQKT for years, most of those years with local sports legend Roy Bates. There’s not a lot of room in the Westwood One satellite country feed to air what used to air then.

Dial’s music selection seems to be somewhat more energetic and upbeat than the stuff usually sent down from the satellite folks. As far as OMW knows, it’s the first non-news or non-sports local show out of “Wooster Radio” since former program director Dave Forest spun oldies in afternoons on WKVX/960, over 10 years ago…

Short Take 2: Whither WCER/900’s announced local talk show? Some weeks ago, the Canton talk/religious station’s operations manager announced that a new local talk program would air evenings at 6 PM. We were then told that the show – with Jason Burnette announced as host – would have a delayed debut. This afternoon, while within the station’s local signal area, we heard Premiere/Take On The Day advice host Dr. Laura in the 6-7 PM hour, with a promo noting that she was on the air 4-7 PM.

The station, by the way, now calls itself “News/Talk WCER 900”, which may or may not be a nod to Cleveland’s “NewsRadio WTAM 1100”. Though it’s mostly second-and-third-tier syndicated secular conservative talk, you can’t fully take the religion out of WCER… an attempt to check out TRN’s Jerry Doyle one weekday afternoon recently yielded a once-a-week half-hour religious program presented by Canton’s Malone College. And even in its promos, the station touts itself as “talk radio with a mission”.

Oh, and the WCER legal IDs continue to say “Canton/Akron”, which is kinda gutsy for a 500 watt station that is rather scratchy in half of the Akron market. It’s still not QUITE to the level of 1000 watt east suburban rimshot daytimer WJMP/1520 Kent (“Fox Sports 1520”) including both Akron AND Cleveland in their legal ID, but it’s close. If you’re in Cleveland proper, and listening to 1520 out of Kent with anything resembling a listenable signal, you’ve got a heck of a radio, a tuned antenna, and have nulled out local second-adjacent WABQ/1540…

Court to Stop 26 Riverbend: Refinance or Sell

Radio and Records Online reports that it’s decision time for Stop 26 Riverbend, which owns 5 Ohio stations, including WRBP/101.9 Hubbard, WGFT/1330 Campbell and WASN/1500 Youngstown, in the Youngstown/Warren market.

The report says that a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Ohio has ordered Stop 26 Riverbend to either refinance the stations (including Columbus’ WVKO-AM/FM) or sell them. To that end, the company is reportedly retaining two firms to look into those options…though it’s widely believed that the only viable option is putting the stations on the block.

OMW wonders if the financial firms have put an urgent call into Harold Glunt. He’d certainly be a likely buyer, at least in Youngstown…if not in Columbus. All three facilities are somewhat better than nearly all of Glunt’s current stations. And OMW has reported before that Glunt has been kicking the tires of stations in markets like Columbus and Pittsburgh, though we’re wondering what other companies would be looking at 1580 and 103.1 in the Columbus market.

We don’t know how much more money Mr. Glunt is willing to shovel into his Beacon Broadcasting, which now owns 5 stations in the Youngstown/Warren market and the nearby counties of western Pennsylvania. But a move of the Christian rock format on “Freq 107” from Greenville PA’s 107.1 to 101.9 would certainly make it a more viable Youngstown market signal, and 1330 and/or 1500 could certainly replace at very least daytimer WRTK/1540 Niles in the Glunt AM arsenal. The only sticking point OMW sees…the full-market 101.9 Hubbard signal would likely draw more moneyed bidders than even Mr. Glunt. If he wants them and has the money for them, 1330/1500 would likely be easy pickings for him.

Since this item moved us into Glunt World, a side note: A drive into the Youngstown market today confirmed that WRTK/1540 is still doing its urban format, even under the new ownership of Mr. Glunt. But it might be gone soon…as we heard a “thank you for your support” message directed at listeners and advertisers. The only problem there: the message was voiced by Lynn Tolliver Jr., the former manager of the station (and ex-Cleveland radio “bad boy”), who left some time ago to take a slot at Tampa FL urban combo WTMP-AM/FM…so we’re not sure if the message was current.

Triv Wigs Out

When the OMWMobile car radio dropped in on Clear Channel Cleveland talker WTAM/1100 this afternoon, we heard the Gang of Triv doing his afternoon show…without afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno present.

So, we figured it was yet another Triv Vacation. After all, the guy has long since passed the late Johnny Carson in the amount of vacation time he gets, so it wasn’t a surprise to hear only co-host Kim Mahalik and producers Paul Rado and Marty Allen doing the show without him. And then… we heard them toss to the station’s “SkyChief Traffic and Weather Together”…with…Mike Trivisonno.

Yep, apparently Triv had become so ticked by dealing with various callers weighing in on the Cleveland Indians’ playoff situation – and what would happen if teams tied up at the end of the year – that he decided to go visit Pat Butler in the station’s traffic center, and eventually, take over for him.

It was actually pretty funny, believe it or not. And aside from OMW wincing at Triv messing with the station’s core service elements – by making up extravagant fake traffic problems, like the Shoreway under water or I-271 disappearing – we suppose people would immediately discount such items coming out of Triv’s mouth. The problem, of course, is that those who NEED those service elements have to sort through his attempts at humor, and it undermines the station’s credibility as an information source.

But what really made OMW gasp was a remark aimed at former WTAM “SkyChief” airborne traffic reporter Rick Abell, now cruising the skies in the WOIO “19 Action News” chopper in drive times. Triv joked that he was going on so long that he would be doing “a 27 minute traffic report”, then commented that it would turn him into Rick Abell. For her part, Mahalik added that “you mean a long, rambling traffic report with commentary” (or something very similar to that wording). Triv tossed back: “Yeah, that’s why he’s no longer here”.


It’s almost enough to make OMW set the TiVo for the “19 Action News” morning show tomorrow, to hear if Rick has any reply to Triv…

Channel 19’s "Browns Tonight" – Live From Kronheim’s?

If it’s Sunday night, it must be time to have some fun with our friends at Reserve Square, home of “Cleveland’s CBS 19”, “UPN 43” and “19 Action News”.

OMW stayed up late enough tonight to catch the station’s Sunday Browns wrap show, still in progress as of this writing. And we’re definitely expecting a sponsor credit for a local furniture store. Week 3 of “McDonald’s Browns Tonight” comes to you from a new set, with a giant brown leather couch (get it, “brown”?) that threatens to eat Brian Duffy, Bob Golic and Hanford Dixon if they don’t pay close attention to it.

It must have taken delivery people half the day to figure out how to get the thing down into the basement of Reserve Square. Earlier shows had Duffy, Golic and Dixon around a standard TV “on set” table and sitting on higher chairs. Maybe they thought they needed the big couch to handle the size of the two former football players?

We’re not sure we’ll be awake long enough to see which Browns player Sharon Reed seductively asks this week to “join (her) tomorrow” – on the station’s Monday night “BrownsTown” show. No word, also, on if the couch will be used on that show’s set, or if Ms. Reed will invite the player onto it. To sit with her, that is. Oh, and the other hosts.

But we did catch a different face on the regular “19 Action News” show’s sports segment. Who is Dan Brady?

Instead of regular weekend sports anchor David Pingalore, who’s at the Indianapolis game site with sports director Chuck Galeti, Brady did the sports anchoring on the regular pre-“Browns Tonight” news show. We’ve seen him before, but can’t find any information on him. Our Google searches lead us to Cleveland-based state senator Dan Brady, but the lawmaker is somewhat older than the fill-in TV sports anchor.

And we use this space to correct an error from last Sunday’s sports wrap show roundup. It appears Sunday night’s WEWS/5 “Sports Extra” wrap show, or whatever it’s called, is sponsored by Toyota, and not your Chevy Network Dealers. At least this week. We don’t know if they both sponsor WEWS’ sports programs, or if they’ve switched cars (hope they got an employee discount!), or whatever…