Thursday Grab Bag

Back to our potpourri:

NO LAST MINUTE SCORE EXPECTED: Those hoping for a last-minute settlement between Time Warner Cable and the NFL Network, keeping that network on the systems once owned by Adelphia and Comcast, are about to lose hope.

Broadcasting and Cable reports that it’s not looking good for a long-term deal between TWC and the NFL Network. The cable operator says the parties still talking, but says “nothing conclusive” has come of those talks. And if you ask the NFL’s owned-and-operated network, they say talks have actually broken off entirely.

So, unless there’s a major change, it appears ex-Adelphia and ex-Comcast types now under the Time Warner umbrella will once again lose NFL Network as soon as Sunday, though TWC officials say the removal may be staggered to provide a buffer for the FCC mandated 30-day notice about the end of carriage.

And B&C makes the same point we did, about Time Warner basically having the upper hand for now:

The NFL Network carries every preseason game, but does not have a regular season game until Thanksgiving (Nov. 23, Denver vs. Kansas City), so, while the FCC acted quickly to restore the preseason games in August and try to nudge a market solution, after the regular season starts Sept. 7, there would arguably be less government impetus to push the parties until November, and Time Warner is free to pull it.

NEW TV NEWS WEBSITE: Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21 has become the latest local TV news operation in the Youngstown market to revamp its website.

WFMJ.com is now known as “21 News Now”, and features not only breaking news and newscast video, but a web-only “21 News Nowcast”. We checked last night, and that video file was updated at about 9 PM.

Channel 21 has had news video on its website in the past, but the video was usually delivered by very small, low-bandwidth RealVideo files. The new video is designed for high speed Internet connections and is somewhat clearer.

OMW hears that WFMJ sister station WBCB “The Valley’s WB”, soon to become the Youngstown market’s CW affiliate, will also get a new website soon…

URBAN TALK DROP: It’s not here, but nearby…as Pittsburgh’s WAMO/860 drops the Radio One-provided Syndication One urban talk lineup after just 6 months to return to an R&B/classic soul format.

That move, along with rumors that Radio One’s own WILD/1090 Boston is for sale – its FM sister was sold to Entercom recently, and WILD has itself dropped the company’s talk lineup for gospel music – is prompting some to wonder how much time Rev. Al Sharpton and company have on the national talk radio landscape.

The two situations aren’t really related.

For one, WAMO is actually owned by Radio One rival Sheridan Broadcasting, the Pittsburgh-based urban radio outfit. It was a surprise to see Sheridan sign up with the format in the first place.

As for Boston, it appears Radio One is actually exiting markets where it does not have a reasonably sized cluster built up.

That is not a problem in Cleveland, where the company owns four stations – WERE/1300 and WJMO/1490 on the AM side, and WZAK/93.1 and WENZ/107.9 on the FM side.

For now, it wouldn’t appear changes are afoot at the company’s local Syndication One affiliate, WERE…aside from the rumors that incoming WABQ/1540 owner Craig Karmazin will broker 7 PM-6 AM on 1300 for his ESPN Radio sports talk format…

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Cavs Announce New FSN Deal – WUAB Not Entirely Shut Out

The Cleveland Cavaliers have announced the expected new deal with FOX Sports Net Ohio, but what wasn’t expected was the continued involvement of Raycom Media UPN/MyNetworkTV affiliate WUAB/43.

The team says the “multi-year deal” calls for 70 games a year on FSN Ohio, and five of those games will also be simulcast on WUAB. Playoff games not airing on ABC nationally will be aired on both outlets.

That’s certainly a significant drop in Channel 43’s coverage, and it won’t even be the exclusive outlet for its five games. But the TV/sports rumor mill had long said that the Cavaliers would go entirely with FSN Ohio…and end over-air broadcast presence entirely.

Cavaliers’ president Len Komoroski says though the team is expanding its relationship with FSN Ohio, “at the same time, even though a very high percentage of the market now has cable or satellite, it was important to us to have a meaningful number of games still available via an over the air format, including playoff games.”

Whether fans consider five games a year plus some playoff games “meaningful” is open to question. But it’s five more than the “zero” expected while talks continued over the past few weeks and months.

The new deal picks up with the upcoming 2006-2007 Cavaliers season.

Cleveland Plain Dealer sports media columnist Roger Brown reports something that wasn’t mentioned in the press release – the announcing team of Fred McLeod (inbound from Detroit Pistons TV duties), and incumbent analysts Scott Williams and Austin Carr. We suppose the heat over the firing of Michael Reghi has not yet died down enough for the team to include McLeod’s name in the announcement.

As for the analyst side of things – with there no longer being an even split between FSN Ohio and WUAB, Brown reports that Williams and Carr will do their own split of duties…with Williams heard on 40 telecasts a year, and Carr on 30…

Air America’s Turbulent Times

The biggest brand name in liberal talk radio, Air America, is going through some times that could even charitably be described as “rough”.

The most visible evidence of the network’s problems involve the actual on-air schedule.

Wednesday afternoon, about 30 minutes before he was scheduled to fill-in for AAR afternoon drive host Randi Rhodes, Atlanta-based late night host Mike Malloy was told his services would no longer be required by the network.

Malloy, on his own website, says the move was explained as a “financial decision”, just days after he believed he was staying on under a new contract:

MIKE MALLOY FIRED BY AIR AMERICA RADIO

There will be no Mike Malloy program on Air America Radio as we have been terminated as of 8/30/06.

We are as shocked as you are, especially since as recently as last Tuesday we were told we had the go-ahead to announce our return to NY airwaves and that our contract was “on the way.”

We are told its a financial decision.

More details to follow as we hear them ourselves.

Malloy’s own 10 PM-1 AM ET show is being covered this week by Detroit-based Peter Werbe, the long-running weekend talk show host at Greater Media Detroit rocker WRIF/101.1.

Malloy’s situation is by far not the network’s only scheduling change.

As OMW has reported, AAR evening host Sam Seder has been announcing his move to the mid-morning network slot currently occupied by (partially) Cincinnati-based host Jerry Springer.

We also hear that Seder and Springer may actually co-exist in that time slot, with “Springer on the Radio” moving to a syndicated effort decoupled from the turnkey AAR feed…offered to whatever stations still want to carry it.

That’d make the Springer radio show AAR’s second “syndicated” show, after Thom Hartmann’s 12-3 PM ET program, but we have to wonder if Springer’s program is just being sent out to die at the expiration of his contract with Clear Channel.

OMW has heard rumblings that Randi Rhodes’ afternoon drive show – delayed to evenings on all three Clear Channel Ohio liberal talk outlets – will be clipped from four hours to three, and that morning host Rachel Maddow will move into a two hour 6-8 PM weekday slot.

One reason this makes sense is that Maddow loses New York City starting tomorrow. New AAR flagship WWRL/1600 will not carry AAR’s morning drive programming, keeping an existing local morning show with Sam Greenfield and Armstrong Williams.

Rumblings from the rumor mill suggest that syndicated hosts “The Young Turks” will slide into the AAR morning slot.

How this affects Ohio’s three progressive talk stations – if at all – is hard to say. Of the three stations, Springer is only heard on home base WSAI/1360 in Cincinnati. If AAR is hanging onto him as a syndicated show, he’ll likely stay there until the end of his contract with Clear Channel.

All three stations carry Rhodes’ afternoon drive show delayed into evenings, and WTPG/1230 Columbus has long carried only one hour of that program. The only effect to stations like Akron’s WARF/1350 “Radio Free Ohio” is that there will physically be one less hour of Randi’s show to run on delay.

WTPG and WSAI do carry “Air America Mornings” with Maddow and Mark Riley, which sounds like it’s ending. We wonder if either station will consider picking up Jones Radio’s Bill Press, who is heard locally on the station which started his current show, WARF.

And none of the three Ohio Clear Channel liberal talkers carries Mike Malloy’s late night show live, or even delayed, on weekdays. Malloy’s “best of” Saturday late night broadcast has been heard, and we assume the local stations will carry whatever AAR feeds in that slot – or run “best of” segments from other shows already on the schedule…

Q92 Digging Out of Hole Over Controversial Bit

Canton market top 40 WZKL/92.5 “Q92” is apparently saying “uncle” after strong reaction to a bit by evening personality “Igor”.

The Canton Repository reports that the Alliance-based station has officially apologized for a regular bit called “Name that Tune with Mongoloid Mike”. The Repository’s Melissa Griffy Seeton reports that the contest “invited people to sing a song as if they have mental retardation and listeners tried to guess the song to win a prize.” The Akron Beacon Journal’s Mary Kay Quinn also has a story in today’s paper.

According to the Repository, Igor’s first response was – among other things – to blame people outside the Q92 listening area for stirring up the pot.

But it quickly became clear that much of the negative response was from hundreds of Stark County residents, as members of the local Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities board mobilized to flood the station with complaints over the past few days.

As a result, MRDD officials got an official apology call from Q92 general manager Don Peterson III, a statement of apology by programmer John Stewart, and a pledge from Igor to kill the segment.

In an on-air statement Wednesday, Igor noted that it wasn’t his “intention to hurt anybody” with the bit:

“I try to do an entertaining show every night and didn’t realize that maybe some people would take offense to this. … It’s been pointed out to me that this isn’t a proper forum for such behavior, so, and actually I do know where you’re coming from. I have a cousin who has Down syndrome, so I can relate to those who’ve made complaints about it.”

And the station has posted its apology on the Q92 website (warning, CAPS LOCK ahead):

TODAY’S HIT MUSIC Q92 WOULD LIKE TO FORMALLY APOLOGIZE FOR ANY HARM THE ON-AIR STAFF HAS CAUSED BY AIRING A SHORT BIT CALLED “MONGALOID MIKE”. IT WAS NOT OUR INTENT TO OFFEND ANYONE, BUT TO MERELY ENTERTAIN AS WE TRY TO DO 24 HOURS A DAY 7 DAYS A WEEK. IT HAS BEEN POINTED OUT TO US THAT THIS IS NOT THE PROPER FORUM FOR SUCH BEHAIVOR AND WE SINCERELY APOLOGIZE. THIS BIT WILL NO LONGER BE ON Q92, AND WE’LL TAKE THE FEELINGS OF OTHER INTO CONSIDERATION, BEFORE AIRING OUR COMEDY IN THE FUTURE.

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) is fortunate, in that we have no family members who are so affected.

But one of our best friends in this world is the adoptive mother of a developmentally disabled 16 year-old boy. We’ve spent a lot of time with her and with her son, and over that time, we also became somewhat sensitive to stuff like this. Maybe we’re “too sensitive”…we don’t know. We’re sure that some will consider this incident “political correctness run amok”. Knowing this woman and her son, it’s hard for us to laugh about this.

We don’t really know Igor. We suspect he’s a reader of OMW, and everything we’ve heard about him tells us he seems to be a “good guy”. We hope he takes this all to heart…

Some Canton Thoughts

A LOW-POWER FULL-POWER FM: Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) toured around in the OMW Mobile(tm) on a drive from Portage County, into Tallmadge and then Cuyahoga Falls, with the sole purpose of checking out the currently low-power signal of Cumulus rock WRQK/106.9 Canton, otherwise known as “Rock 107”.

Low-power’s the word for it, alright.

Let’s put it this way – WRQK includes not only Canton and Massillon in their legal ID, but also Akron and Alliance. No one in either city is listening to this reduced signal.

In parts of the drive above, “Rock 107” was fighting it out signal-wise with Jones Radio’s syndicated evening show hosted by Lia Knight…which we’d assume was coming from Clear Channel’s “Buckeye Country” in Marion, WMRN/106.9. Neither signal was listenable for any period of time.

We don’t know much about what happened, but OMW does hear the station has been operating only on its exciter for at least part of the past few days. We previously reported folks working on the WRQK transmitter, which is located at 22nd Street near Whipple Avenue in Canton – co-located with the studio and transmitter facility for religious/talk WCER/900.

All of this comes just days before Clear Channel is scheduled to take over WRQK’s operations, in an LMA that – at last report – was set to begin on Friday.

MORE OLDIES: While we’re electronically in Canton, just one note about a topic which consumed a lot of energy here – rumored changes at NextMedia oldies WHBC/1480 in the Hall of Fame City.

About the only thing we’re hearing lately is that the Canton outlet may actually be expanding its oldies library, at the behest of local staff wanting to open up the playlist.

We hear that NextMedia corporate programming types are still trying to figure out what might be demographically desirable for the Canton station’s long-term future.

And for that matter, we’re not getting any word that any of this is imminent, or even definite…so, enjoy it now!

Midweek Items Mostly Outside Town

Some more items this Wednesday:

TOLEDO TURMOIL: There must indeed be “something in the water” in the Toledo radio market, and the stations in that area might want to check.

This time, brand new WWWM/105.5 “Star 105” program director Mark McKay, who replaced Steve Marshall just days ago, is out at the Cumulus Toledo hot AC outlet. OMW has no verifiable information on the reason for McKay’s quick departure from the Star PD post.

Marshall was barely out of the building – he announced his resignation about two weeks ago, and left the station on August 18th. McKay showed up for his first day at “Star” just nine days ago, on August 21st…

CMA’ING IT: The Country Music Association has announced the nominees for the CMA Broadcast Awards.

There aren’t a lot of Ohio nominees, but CBS Radio country WUBE/105.1 “B105.1” gets a nomination not only for Large Market Station of the Year, but for its morning show – “The B105.1 Morning Show with Bill and Amanda”.

And one former Ohio personality is nominated as well…a name very familiar to Cleveland radio listeners. Former WGAR/99.5 afternoon driver Danny Wright is up for National Broadcast Personality of the Year for his Jones Radio overnight show “Wright All Night”.

And as mentioned here before, Danny’s at least an occasional reader of Your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), so we give him all the OMW Jungle Karma we can muster… (with apologies to Premiere’s Jim Rome…)

HOGUE MOVES: We alluded a ways back to a former Northeast Ohio radio talk show host losing his gig in another out-of-state market.

For fans and friends of former WHK/1220-WHK-FM/98.1 talk host Eric Hogue, we’re pleased to announce that the move in question doesn’t put him out on the unemployment line.

Hogue, who did an afternoon talk show when he was here on the station now known as WHKW/1220 “The Word”, is moving from his morning drive perch on Salem sister conservative talk KTKZ/1380-KTKZ-FM/105.5 in the Sacramento market.

Salem has announced that he lands in afternoon drive for a two hour talk show on their Christian talk/teaching outlet in the Sacramento market, KFIA/710. And as a bonus, Hogue picks up a second station in the move… a big one, Salem’s 50,000 watt Christian talk/teaching outlet KFAX/1100 in San Francisco.

As a result of the move, KTKZ will adopt a fully satellite-fed schedule…featuring mostly Salem’s “Where Your Opinion Counts” conservative talk lineup, which is heard here on the company’s WHK/1420…

WAKR Dumps The Bird

Rubber City Radio standards/news WAKR/1590 Akron has sent the Dial-Global (formerly Westwood One) “Adult Standards” format packing, at least during weekdays.

The station has announced a “live and local” lineup of on-air personalities for its music hours which used to be covered by the satellite. That lineup apparently starts today. Among them – former WKDD/then-96.5 program director Chuck Collins, who is now heard on WAKR in mid-mornings.

Collins calls the station’s new local lineup “a new kind of WAKR”, and apologized to listeners for any glitches as the station “goes back to West Market Street”. Despite that mention, what we heard of Collins’ first show was smooth.

Collins announced that station veteran Bob Allen will take over middays – he’s already been heard doing a music shift in afternoon drive, and has been already been in middays hosting the WAKR Noon News block. WAKR also stays in-house for afternoon drive with Tim Daugherty, the long-time Rubber City voice also heard mornings on sister rock WONE/97.5.

WAKR’s Ray Horner continues in morning drive, and the station will continue as the local affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, Browns and Cavaliers.

We don’t know what they’ll do in the nighttime and weekend hours not covered by sports yet, though we’ll assume non-weekday hours will still be in the standards format, and either locally automated or still with the satellite service.

Though the new lineup is being presented as “live and local”, we’d have to assume, for example, that Daugherty isn’t burning the clock candle on both ends by doing the WAKR afternoon shift live.

We alluded to Collins’ hiring at Rubber City in an item in mid-July, and also alluded to the end of weekday satellite programming on one local station around the same time, though we hadn’t connected the dots until hearing Collins on WAKR today…