Al Franken Taking A Flyer?

Are the long-standing rumors about Air America Radio host Al Franken leaving his noon-3 slot on the liberal talk network true?

That’s what our first thought was, upon hearing the news that Jones Radio/P1 afternoon drive talk host Ed Schultz will move his syndicated program.

Effective December 11th, a week from next Monday, “Big Eddie” will air live in that very same noon-3 (Eastern) slot. The show will still be refed in its current live time slot, 3-6 PM.

P1 president Stu Krane positions the move to the folks at Radio & Records as putting Ed in “prime real estate”, radio-wise. It’ll also pit Schultz head-to-head with Premiere conservative talk titan Rush Limbaugh, of course.

But AllAccess notes that the move was announced one day before a hearing on Air America Radio’s bankruptcy, tomorrow. Would Jones/P1 move Schultz to noon-3 if Al Franken were still in the way?

Either if the former “Saturday Night Live” star is leaving AAR to mount that expected run for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota, or if AAR itself falls apart at the seams after Friday’s hearing, it would seem that Jones/P1 has enough commitments from progressive talk outlets to make the move.

We haven’t heard yet what local liberal talk outlet WARF/1350 “Radio Free Ohio” plans to do.

The decision could be made academic for them, and for other liberal talk outlets, if Franken is leaving or AAR is folding…take Ed Schultz live at noon, then Randi Rhodes live from 3-6 PM. Randi would finally get her cherished live afternoon drive clearance on many stations which delay her into early evenings in the Eastern United States.

Of course, if AAR is shutting down, that means Randi’s affected as well.

If Randi lost her radio syndication home, we’re wondering if Jones Radio would pick her show up as part of this move. That would certainly give them a very solid liberal talk block from 6 AM until 6 PM weekdays. As it turns out, Jones would then become the, well, defacto “liberal talk network” that AAR has tried to be all along!

We’re just speculating about that last part, here, because we haven’t heard any updated word about AAR’s financial status. We do know that Franken is about to head out for a U.S.O. tour soon, we believe starting at around the same time – after his December 8th show.

But either way, it appears Ed Schultz – and Jones Radio – is looking to fill a void, and quickly…

Clear Channel Axe Chops in Cincinnati – And Columbus

UPDATE 11/30/06 4:35 PM – We have learned of more people being let go from Clear Channel’s Columbus cluster. Scroll down for more…

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It had to happen eventually, with Clear Channel cluster after cluster dumping people to save money.

AllAccess reports that the company’s axe has now swung in Cincinnati and Columbus.

In Cincinnati, the trade site reports “at least” 15 people were let go in the downsizing yesterday, including from various stations:

* Hot AC WVMX/94.1 “Mix 94.1” – local morning host/producer for Whoopi Goldberg’s show, Mike Stevens (who used to host the shift live and local until Whoopi showed up), and afternoon host “Madison”.

* Top 40 WKFS/107.1 “Kiss FM” – midday personality Storm Bennett, and promotions assistant/part-time talent Mark Stone.

* Rock WEBN/102.7 – midday personality Wendy Walker, and promotions coordinator Steve Dent.

* And commercial production staffer Shaun Schaefer and engineer Andrew Costa are reported to be out of work as well.

Up I-71 in Columbus, AllAccess also notes that Danny Wright is out of a job at the Clear Channel cluster there, also due to budget considerations.

No, not THAT Danny Wright, the former WGAR/WGCL/etc. personality (and OMW reader) who now hosts the Jones Radio overnight country show “Wright All Night”.

The Columbus Danny was, until now, APD and creative services director at CC’s top 40 powerhouse, WNCI/97.9.

UPDATE: We have some more names out of Columbus thanks to an OMW source there, fine folks who are hitting the unemployment lines at a rather unfortunate time of year:

* News/talk WTVN/610 lost a bunch of people, including evening news anchor Stuart Osborne and news editor George Zonders.

Both names should be familiar to Northern Ohioans. Osborne used to do news anchoring via WAN for CC sister news/talk outlet WSPD/1370 Toledo, and both Zonders and Osborne have been heard doing reports from Columbus for CC sister talker WTAM/1100 in Cleveland.

We’re told that WTVN also let go production director Scott Kahler, and midday producer Lindsay Guhl.

UPDATE 12/2/06 10:09 AM: In the interests of accuracy, one name has been removed from this item for the moment. We’re checking it out.

As per usual, this is a good list for those looking for talented staff who are only out of work because their company is cutting budgets to the bone, in preparation for a buyout.

With all the other recent changes in the Cincinnati market, maybe these folks can land somewhere within new stations run by Entercom and Cumulus…

Casey’s Services

We’ll put the reminder up here, though we suspect that due to the nature of our readership, many of you are already planning to be there.

The wake for late Cleveland sportscaster Casey Coleman is scheduled for this afternoon, from 4 to 8 PM, at Berry and Martens Funeral Home – 26691 Detroit Road in Westlake.

OMW hears that Westlake Police are expecting a large crowd to show up, and have already advised drivers to not use Detroit Road in the area of the funeral home this afternoon due to the expected heavy volume of traffic.

The funeral service for Casey will be Friday at 10:30 AM, at St. Angela’s Church, 20970 Lorain Road in Fairview Park…

Some Stuff We’ve Put Off

The ol’ Mighty Blog kind of went into a state of suspended animation the past few days.

First, there was the passing of Casey Coleman. When a well-loved local broadcaster finally loses his battle with a very real, and very deadly, disease, not much else seems to matter. So, we put other items on hold.

Then, we put out our item related to the upcoming move of the 101.7 signal to North Canton, which put up the Bat Signal in Dover, which got us quoted in the paper, again.

So, let’s catch up:

HO-HO-HO PARADE: As promised, stations we’ve noticed doing holiday music.

That list would include at least some holiday tunes out of Rubber City standards/news WAKR/1590 Akron, though we’ve also heard non-Christmas music in the past day or so.

NextMedia AC outlet WHBC-FM/94.1 Canton has also turned on the All Rudolph Machine.

A number of satellite-driven stations have also made the flip, but we won’t mention them since they don’t have any control over the music. We already mentioned the two big Cleveland outlets doing the Holiday Dance – CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 and Salem CCM WFHM/95.5…

MANSFIELD SHUFFLE: In the “we’re not sure what it means” department…

AllAccess reports that Mansfield broadcaster Gunther Meisse is buying out his partners in AC WVNO/106.1 licensee Johnny Appleseed Broadcasting. That’s a list of about five people who held an interest in the station, and a 20 percent interest in Meisse’s sports WRGM/1440.

Meisse also owns the area’s only TV stations, independent WMFD/68-DT12, and LPTV outlet WOHZ-LP 41…which, last time we were there and near a TV, was running a full-time automated weather channel…

ANSWERING ONE UNANSWERED QUESTION: It’s a question we’ve posed for months, ever since Time Warner Cable swallowed the local Adelphia system as part of that multi-billion dollar merger earlier this year.

Why can’t new TWC subscribers in Summit County watch the WKYC/3-produced, TWC-sponsored “Akron/Canton News” with Eric Mansfield?

We asked the question directly to TWC’s local spokesman, Bill Jasso, and here’s his response:

We hope to make our “Akron/Canton News” available to a wider audience in the future. Right now are faced with three separate cable systems (Time Warner, Adelphia, Comcast) that need to become one network. Once that happens (hopefully by Spring) we can begin to explore advantages like that.

We’d have more of a response to that, but we don’t know some of the technical specifics. We’re wondering, for example, why TWC can’t make the newscast available now on the “OnDemand” local channel on the former Adelphia systems…but there’s probably a technical reason it can’t be done right now.

We’ll be waiting…at least if we’re still here by then!

Our Latest Newspaper Article

At this rate, we ought to call up Copley Newspapers and ask what the health benefits are like.

The Dover/New Philadelphia Times-Reporter doesn’t have us on staff, but it would sure seem like it after the latest article about the move of the station currently known as WJER-FM.

The article is based entirely upon our most recent entry, just below, which linked pictures of the construction going on at the site that will house the tower, equipment and antennas for both Cumulus rock WRQK/106.9 Canton (your guess as to when it’ll be taken over by Clear Channel is as good as ours at this point), and incoming Clear Channel station 101.7 FM, that aforementioned current WJER-FM.

OK, so we’re still flattered by the attention. But after this, we have to make one thing clear.

We have not initiated either of the recent articles on the WJER-FM move, or for that matter, anything the T-R has published off of items originally posted on this site.

In fact, to this date, we’ve had NO direct contact with anyone at the newspaper, including via telephone, fax, E-Mail, in person or any other way we’re forgetting to mention. They’re readers here, just like you, and apparently feel we’re a “solid” enough source…well, despite the fact that they have no idea who “we” are.

We’re proud to say that we are generally considered a reputable online publication by most of the Northeast Ohio broadcast industry, and beyond.

However, we are…well…just a blog. And the newspapers which quote us extensively…well, we’ve never talked to them.

And it kind of puzzles us that we – such as we are – have become a respected enough “first source” for a local daily newspaper to use without any further reporting on its own part. It’s not something we’re used to seeing in journalism.

But overall, we don’t mind. If the folks at the Times-Reporter wish to continue using our material here, that’s fine with us. But we just thought we’d clear the air a little…

Mr. Petricola, Close Your Eyes

Today brings us to our latest update on now-WJER-FM/101.7’s planned move north into the Canton market

And it’s time for pictures of the construction at the site of a new tower that will soon hold both it and Cumulus (for now) (eventually Clear Channel) (honest!) (really!) rock WRQK/106.9 on 22nd St. NW off of Whipple Ave. NW in Canton.

But this time, it wasn’t your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) piling into the OMW Mobile for a drive down to Canton.

These pictures are supplied by not one, but TWO readers who happened to be near the site.

(Who’da thunk it? Maybe the 22nd and Whipple tower site construction can become a tourist attraction! People have to see SOMETHING after visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame, no?)

Progress is moving ahead by the day. Our first reader snapped the picture above on Friday afternoon.

But by Monday afternoon, gravel had already been laid down for the road leading to what will presumably be the actual site for the tower, which could start going up soon at this rate.

There still is much that needs to be done, though.

They do, of course, have to construct even a rudimentary transmitter building, move in and hook up the equipment and such, and well, put up the steel that will become the transmitting tower for WRQK/106.9, and which will hold the new antenna for (insert-call-letters-here)/101.7 North Canton.

Then, that equipment has to be tested and the like.

It would seem, to this non-engineer, a daunting task to get that all of that done between now and December 11th – particularly with winter-like weather in the forecast for the end of this week.

But progress does march on. And we stand by our earlier item that December 11 is indeed the target date for Clear Channel to take over operation of 101.7 FM, weather permitting.

To that end, another alert OMW reader pointed us to this “We’re staffing a new station!” ad which appeared on the AllAccess website “Job Market”…with wording by Clear Channel Akron/Canton operations guru Keith Kennedy that the Canton/Stark County Chamber of Commerce may want to borrow:

Openings in the Hall of Fame City

The Hall of Fame City of Canton, Ohio is ready to give birth to a new radio station. Northeast Ohio is a great place to live and work. Just minutes from Akron and Cleveland, Canton provides a well rounded, family-friendly environment. The abundance of shopping, restaurants and recreational opportunities in the Canton/Stark County area, offer big-city amenities, with beautiful, rolling countryside just minutes outside of the city, and our murder rate went down this year too. We are looking for candidates in on-air positions and in programming. Selector experience is a plus, but not required. All format experience considered. Please send all materials to: 101.7fm, 7755 Freedom Ave, NW, North Canton, Ohio 44720. Attn: Keith Kennedy. Please no MP3’s. Clear Channel is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Oh, Gary Petricola hasn’t heard about this, either.

(Sorry, we couldn’t resist…)

BREAKING NEWS: Casey Coleman Dies

It’s not like it was unexpected, but it’s still no easier to take.

WTAM/1100 sportscaster and morning co-host Casey Coleman died this morning after a long bout with pancreatic cancer, at the age of 55.

While still dealing with the disease, Casey worked whenever his body allowed him to do so, up until nearly the very end.

Casey’s morning co-host, Bill Wills, tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he was “an integral part” of the station’s “Wills and Coleman in the Morning”. He called Coleman “a pro’s pro, and a very good friend”, and said he gave the morning broadcast “credibility”.

In addition to his duties as morning co-host and sports anchor, Casey was the long-time sideline reporter for the Cleveland Browns Radio Network.

WTAM hosts and anchors have been spending the morning looking back at the life of their co-worker and friend. In addition to Wills’ tribute this morning, WTAM mid-morning host Bob Frantz is also devoting his show to the late WTAM sportscaster.

RIP, Casey…you were indeed “The Luckiest Guy in the World”. And we hope your journey “rounding third and heading for home” was a peaceful one…