All Sorts of Upheaval

Ever notice that some days in news about media are just volatile? This is one of those days.

CINCINNATI CHANGES: It’s been more than one of those days in Ohio’s Queen City, with even MORE changes than expected on – and off – the local radio dial.

Cincinnati Enquirer radio/TV guru John Kiesewetter sums it up best in his latest blog entry.

Here’s your lineup of Apple Cart Tipping in the Cincinnati radio market:

* Entercom and Cumulus swap two FM stations. Country WYGY/94.9 “Star” moves over to Entercom, which sends oldies WGRR/103.5 to Cumulus.

The move reunites country stations WYGY and WUBE/105.1 “B105”, only this time with the name “Entercom” on the front door.

Note, of course, that until recently this would have been a CBS/Susquehanna swap. But Cumulus took over the old Susquehanna stations, and Entercom is in the process of doing so with CBS Radio’s Cincinnati properties.

* Entercom doesn’t technically have the keys to the CBS Radio stations in Cincy, but they’re calling some personnel shots already.

Five staffers at alt-rocker WAQZ/97.3 have been let go, apparently under the direction of the incoming management. The station’s music director, afternoon drive personality, midday personality, promotions director and morning show producer are out.

Unlike the Rumors from Every Corner that Wilks Broadcasting plans major budget-related cuts at its acquisitions in Columbus, this would appear to foreshadow a format change for WAQZ.

The Entercom/CBS deal in Cincinnati and other markets has cleared the Federal Trade Commission, but still needs to go through FCC approval.

* Kiesewetter also reports that “The Twilight Zone” is airing on the former home of country WYGY, 96.5, in preparation for the previously reported talk format.

We’re pretty sure that’s it for Cincinnati’s radio changes today, though we could have missed something…

CANTON’S NEWS: This one isn’t related to radio/TV, but since we’ve touched on changes at the Akron Beacon Journal…here’s your bombshell just south on 77.

Copley Ohio Newspapers, the local arm of the Copley newspaper chain, is being put up for sale.

The papers being sold include the venerable Canton Repository, its sister papers the Massillon Independent and Dover/New Philadelphia’s Times-Reporter, plus the weekly Suburbanite based in Summit County’s Green.

From that story in the Repository, it looks like Copley could eventually sell everything but its big city jewel, the San Diego Union-Tribune.

And we’re guessing that the Copley Ohio folks (not to be confused with the Akron suburb) are hoping that a certain new owner of the Akron Beacon Journal isn’t interested in taking over, given the newsroom bloodbath that took place on East Exchange Street a while back…

NOD TO OMW: Speaking of a Copley newspaper, OMW hears that we were invoked in the aforementioned Times-Reporter today.

May we quote a reference to ourselves? Certainly:

Work continues on the site at Canton that eventually will be the antenna tower for the move of WJER-FM 101.7 from Dover.

According to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, the new 6KW station will be based off 22nd St. NW and Whipple Ave. at Canton. The new WRQK/106.9 tower also will include the antenna for 101.7.

It appears that the tree clearing work prior to winter is complete, according to information on the Ohio Media Watch blog.

That reminds us. We’re due for another trip down to Whipple Avenue and 22nd Street soon.

And our nod back to Times-Reporter business editor Lee Morrison, who we know has been reading our work in one form or another for some time, and who we assume is the uncredited writer behind this article in the T-R’s business section.

Anything we can do to help…

Random Items Not Related to Sports Radio

At the risk of it getting around here like it was during the SportsTime Ohio launch, when we had four items in a row about that particular news item, we’ll break up the ESPN Radio 1540 flow with some random items:

CLEAR CHANGES?: We haven’t said much about this major national business news story for good reason…we don’t know how it’ll affect the dozens of Clear Channel stations within our editorial reach in Ohio and nearby markets.

But yes, the San Antonio-based radio giant has confirmed that it is looking into going off Wall Street and going private. A number of reports, including this one in New York Newsday, say that a number of private equity buyout firms are sniffing at the prospect.

Since we don’t have a business editor here at OMW, we don’t have much to say about it…and we don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing for the on-air and off-air professionals working at the various Ohio outlets of the company. But we felt we had to mention it…

BYE, BYE LONDON LISTENERS: Like many full-power Cleveland stations, Clear Channel oldies WMJI/105.7 has enjoyed a secondary listenership across Lake Erie, particularly in the London ONT area.

It’s a fairly straight shot across the lake into Canada, and we know WMJI and other Cleveland stations have acknowledged the Canadian audience occasionally over the years.

Those days might be in the past for some WMJI listeners under the Maple Leaf flag.

Our colleague Scott Fybush reports at NorthEast Radio Watch this week that a new signal in the works for the London area is proposing to set up shop on 105.7, moving from an application to use 91.1 due to flack from a Toronto station on that frequency.

Since WMJI is obviously a non-protected service there, Canadian listeners wanting to hear “Majic 105.7” may eventually have to go online to listen to the station’s webcast…

Just A Brief Followup on "ESPN Radio 1540"

UPDATE 10/30/06 9:02 AM: Listening to “ESPN Radio 1540” from this far away is like trying to listen to a station from a foreign country. But we’ve heard enough this morning to pick out that as we expected, Aaron Goldhammer is doing local “ESPN SportsCenter” updates for the new Cleveland ESPN Radio affiliate.

Goldhammer and Bernard Bokanyi, who will do the afternoon updates, were already on the station’s website doing interviews…

————–

We’d written a whole “handicapping its chances and predicting its future” post about newly-debuted Good Karma sports outlet (to-be)WWGK/1540 Cleveland “ESPN Radio 1540”, when we decided to hold off a while.

We’ve giving the place a little too much press, some feel…including some folks whose professional opinion we respect.

Well, OK, we do tend to go overboard when a new station debuts, and this one is in one of our regular formats (news/talk/sports).

We’ll hold back on the previously written follow-up, and simply note that we agree: The station isn’t going to even cause minor tremors at a certain sports radio facility on Broadview Road, at least as long as it’s a 1000 watt daytimer a large portion of the market can’t hear clearly, or even at all.

So, if you’re sick of reading about it, we’ll just do this brief item, and note that we’ve been sent what looks like a press release for “ESPN Radio 1540” anchor/reporter Bernard Bokanyi.

It looks “real” to us, but we can’t verify it, since it was posted anonymously as a comment to our previous item.

If it’s correct, Bokanyi will take the afternoon local update anchor slot on the new station – the opposing number, if you will, to WKNR/850 (via Metro Networks) afternoon update anchor Daryl Ruiter.

Bokanyi is also listed as “covering the Buckeyes and Browns beats”, and whoever wrote it seems to think he’s basically an acting co-Program/Sports Director due to his other operational duties at the new station.

He was, as we noted earlier, a producer/update anchor at Sporting News Radio, and it appears he started in sports radio (out of the Ohio Center for Broadcasting) as a board operator at WKNR.

The release notes that Bokanyi “might host” some weekend local programming at some point, though no other details are given.

We do expect Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin to slot local programming on the station at some point, probably in afternoon drive (at least eventually).

We also repeat…with a 1000 watt daytime only signal, it may not matter much right now…and remind readers that the sports radio format as a rule is a niche format. WKNR’s certainly has done better, but much of that was during its run as the Indians flagship station in the 1990s.

And in many markets, including all three of Good Karma’s existing sports radio markets (Milwaukee and Madison in Wisconsin, and West Palm Beach FL), all the sports radio operators appear to be fighting valiantly over what amounts to one share 12-plus.

In Milwaukee, Mr. Karmazin has the same problem he has now in Cleveland. The major competition for his WAUK/1510-WMCS/1290 there is not Entercom “full-time” sports outlet WSSP/1250, but two news/talk/sports outlets – Journal’s WTMJ/620 and Clear Channel’s WISN/1130.

So, we’ll see.

In the current configuration, it’s hard to imagine any success…but we’ve always said we don’t believe this is the final position for Mr. Karmazin in Cleveland.

And if you think we went on long here, you should have seen the post we did not put up…

"Cleveland’s ESPN Radio 1540" Is Here

OMW hears that the ESPN Radio format has debuted on “Cleveland’s ESPN Radio 1540”.

And even if you’re not within the station’s 1000 watt signal range, anyone will notice the rather extensive website which has now popped up at ESPNCleveland.com.

Color us impressed.

The site is very similar to the website for Good Karma Broadcasting’s other ESPN Radio outlet, ESPNMilwaukee.com. Some details we’ve noticed:

NEW CALLS AND INFO: The “Advertising” page notes that the station’s new calls will be WWGK. (We’ll presume that’s for “Good Karma”.) For now, the station is legally WBKC, having taken those calls from Dale Edwards’ facility at 1460/Painesville.

It also lists the station’s dial position, even at launch, as “1540 Days”. The site does not appear to be a direct copy of the Milwaukee site, so it wouldn’t seem that this was just something they copied over from there. We’re still wondering about Mr. Karmazin’s efforts to find a nighttime signal.

PROGRAMMING: To that end, the station’s program schedule is also listed. It has the usual ESPN Radio lineup, plus…

“The Steve and Craig Show” is on the schedule from 7 PM to 8 PM. With solely the 1540 signal, the show will not actually air in Cleveland at launch – since the station signs off before it begins.

Says the site:

The Steve and Craig Show is a wacky combination of sports talk, comedy and off-beat antics featuring local and national celebrities. Listeners are entertained by the duo’s mix of humor, guests, games, and debates over the topic of the day.

Despite the note about “local” celebrities, this is not a local show. And those guessing about the identity of the “Craig” in the show’s name are correct.

Yes, that’s Craig Karmazin, the mastermind behind this entire operation and the sole owner of Good Karma Broadcasting.

“The Steve and Craig Show” has been on the air on Craig’s sports stations since 1998. We believe it started at Good Karma’s first sports outlet, the FM sports talker in Madison now known as “FOX Sports Radio 100.5”. It also airs on the sports talker Karmazin owns in the West Palm Beach FL market.

The Good Karma boss apparently started on-air as one-half of a show called “The Wacky Interns” at Philadelphia’s iconic sports talk WIP/610, his current co-host being the other half..

A curious item is listed in Karmazin’s bio in the ESPN Cleveland “on-air” section, which does not tell listeners that he owns the place:

He has spent the last nine years living in Wisconsin and has recently moved to downtown Cleveland, where he is excited to be within walking distance of three major sports teams.

He’s moved here?!?! Wow. (Well, at least in downtown Cleveland, he’d also be within listening distance of his new station’s not-so-great signal.)

STREAMING AUDIO – NOT YET: The station trumpets streaming audio with links throughout the new ESPNCleveland.com website.

But we didn’t go through the motions of signing up for the station’s “club” to get to the stream, because an OMW reader told us that for now, all you get after telling them what local team you want to win a championship is – a link to ESPNRadio.com.

OTHER AUDIO AND STAFF: The ESPN Cleveland “Audio” page already has interviews with Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, and Browns defensive rookie star Kamerion Wimbley.

The interviews were conducted by Aaron Goldhammer and Bernard Bokenyi.

A quick Google search shows Goldhammer as a producer for the company’s Steve “The Homer” True show and the aforementioned “Steve and Craig” show. Bokenyi had a long run at Sporting News Radio as a producer and update anchor, until losing his job last year due to cutbacks at the ailing sports radio network…

Anyway, as we said, impressive for a debut site. We’ll have to see how the radio product pans out, and what local touches Good Karma adds to the syndicated product which now airs…

The OMW FM Talk Watch Inches Closer

Just days after word that Cumulus Cincinnati station WYGY/96.5 is set to flip to a talk format as its country format moves to 94.9 FM, we get word of another FM talk flip in Ohio. And this one has already happened.

A simulcast of Cox news/talk WHIO/1290 Dayton has supplanted the “Point” 80s music format formerly heard on the company’s WDPT/95.7 Piqua, under the on-air name “AM 1290 and 95.7 FM – News/Talk Radio WHIO”.

The station talks about it on the front of its website:

Cox Radio Dayton announced today that WHIO now expands its signal coverage by adding FM. The station which broadcasts on AM 1290 can now be heard on 95.7 FM. The FM signal is 50,000 watts which is the maximum allowed by the FCC. News-Talk Radio WHIO features local weather, traffic, and news. Our award winning morning news program, “Miami Valley Morning News” is the area’s only all news morning show with longtime Dayton personalities Larry Hansgen and Jim Barrett.

That “50,000 watts/maximum allowed by the FCC” thing is a bit of a misnomer. For one, as noted above, the class B station is licensed well north of Dayton in Piqua. It even once used to refer to its “Northside” status on the air. (And for another, that’s not even counting big class C signals pushing out 100,000 watts-plus in other parts of the country.)

That said, a talk format with the stereo signal turned off could well be the best use of such a rimshot signal.

Like in many other cases, the FM station being flipped was not exactly burning up the ratings, showing up in the mid-to-back of the Dayton 12-plus pack.

Meanwhile, over at the website formerly devoted to “Dayton’s Point“, a large WHIO logo greets visitors with this message:

You have reached the former page of 95.7 The Point WDPT Radio. We want to thank you for supporting The Point throughout the years. The 95.7 frequency has become WHIO-FM. The great news and talk programming of WHIO will now be available on FM.

If you’re looking for great music from the 70’s and 80’s please try our sister station 95.3 The Eagle.

We know this brings up our usual “when will it happen in Cleveland?” question, or for that matter, even Columbus. We know both markets have had long-standing rumors of FM talk formats, and both markets were apparently once very close to getting such a station.

But in Cleveland, it may be a matter of evolution over revolution.

Both Clear Channel and CBS Radio (once Infinity) have been the subject of behind-the-scenes rumors and rumblings of such changes here. But take a look at the result so far – both clusters have at least one FM station with talk radio programs in both drive-time dayparts.

Clear Channel accomplished this with the recent addition of Premiere syndicated morning show “Bob and Tom” to rock WMMS/100.7. OK, so there’s kind of an asterisk here, because afternoon driver Maxwell does play music. But he’s more talk-laden than most rock stations’ afternoon shows.

Except for CBS Radio’s WXRK/92.3 “K-Rock”, that is, which features all-talk afternoon drive (delayed) team “Opie and Anthony” to bookend locally-based syndicated morning talker Shane “Rover” French’s show.

But of course, this is different from this actual event: the traditional style of talk radio also migrating to the FM dial…the style heard for some 30-plus years, for example, on Akron market talker WNIR/100.1.

This is a different animal, but the train is moving just as fast as, if not faster than, lifestyle/comedy/shock “FM talk”, with WHIO’s move probably one of the first such moves in Ohio…

BREAKING NEWS: Joe Finan Out at "Radio Free Ohio"

Midday local talk show host Joe Finan is out at Clear Channel liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron “Radio Free Ohio”.

A station press release touts its “new fall lineup” with the full three hours of Jones Radio’s Stephanie Miller show, and the full three hours of Air America Radio’s Al Franken show. The change takes effect today, with Miller’s show already airing in the former Finan time slot.

Finan has been completely removed from the “Radio Free Ohio” website, including from the list of hosts and from the station’s weekday schedule.

Finan joined WARF earlier this year, after retiring from his long-time radio home – MediaCom talk WNIR/100.1 – at the end of 2004.

More as we find out more…

Cavaliers in Da Burgh

The NBA Cleveland Cavaliers continue to test the TV waters in Pittsburgh.

McKeesport Daily News writer Patrick Cloonan – a regular OMW reader – passes along an article of his featured in the paper’s sports section on Thursday. (For whatever reason, it’s not on the Daily News’ website.)

He writes that the Cavaliers will once again be seen on FOX Sports Net Pittsburgh on a limited basis. The cable network will feature 16 Cavs games – ten from Quicken Loans Arena, and six on the road. Five of the games will be in HDTV, starting on November 7th when the Cavaliers play the Atlanta Hawks.

Cloonan also notes that new Cavaliers TV voice Fred McLeod is a graduate of Point Park College, and formerly worked for WSTV/9 in nearby Steubenville OH (now WTOV).

He also passes along something that’s not in the article. The former over-air home of Cavaliers basketball in the Pittsburgh market, low-power WBGN-LP/59, will not carry the team this year.

WBGN would, presumably, have rights to the five over-air games Raycom Media MyNetworkTV affiliate WUAB/43 will simulcast this year…