New Landings

Our title this Thursday is appropriate, at least, for the first two items:

A NEW KLEON: WRQK/106.9 nighttime personality Joe Kleon exited the Canton rock station shortly after Clear Channel took over the station’s operations from Cumulus.

AllAccess reports that Kleon has landed at crosstown D.A. Peterson top 40 WZKL/92.5 “Q92” and sister soft AC WDPN/1310 Alliance as that station’s new promotions manager.

Yes, that’s the same job once given to a Louisville KY radio guy now better known in his home market for getting into huge trouble for operating a charity of questionable worth.

Thankfully for the “Q92” folks, the man who actually took the job, Josh Miely, could actually show up for work.

But Miely is now leaving “Q92”, headed back for his mid-Atlantic home region for a “new opportunity” in Washington DC. Best of luck to both Mr. Miely and Mr. Kleon…

WEEKEND WITH THE CLIPPERS: In an earlier item, we outlined the odd radio situation for the AAA Columbus Clippers baseball team – with no full-power in-market outlet carrying the team’s games.

Now, the Washington Nationals’ top minor-league affiliate won’t have to point to an in-stadium sub-low-power station as its only Columbus “radio” outlet.

The team has announced that it’s hooked up again this year with North American standards WMNI/920 to air “Weekend With The Clippers”. WMNI aired 14 such games last year, and will broadcast about 42 games in the 2007 season on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The team will continue to air selected games on its out-of-market stations, including WCLT/1430 Newark and the easternmost half of the “980 Homer” Dayton market sports simulcast, WIZE/1340 Springfield.

Oh, and the release linked above has some information we didn’t know about. The Clippers games also air on the HD2 subchannel of WCLT’s FM sister station, country WCLT/100.3.

A quick check of the WCLT website shows that the AM station is simulcast on 100’s HD3 subchannel, so we’re not sure what else airs on the HD2 subchannel besides the Clippers, or if that’s a typo by the WCLT webmaster.

Or, perhaps, if the Clippers only end up on the 100.3 digital signal if the AM side is carrying their games.

And of course, sub-micro-not-quite-LPFM 101.9 – no relation to nearby Delaware OH’s WINF-LP – continues to pump out all the Clippers’ games within a few feet of the concession stands…

ANOTHER RADIO ARTICLE: We told you earlier about the mention of Good Karma sports WKNR/850 midday host Tony Rizzo in the Monday “TipOff” column in the Plain Dealer.

But since we eschewed the Sunday PD, we missed the lengthy examination by PD writer John Petkovic on “The State of Radio”.

Petkovic talks to everyone from WTAM/1100 afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno and former WMMS/100.7 programmer and consultant John Gorman (complete with a plug for his upcoming book on ‘MMS, “Buzzard”), to local consultant Mike McVay.

It hits the highlights, or rather, low-lights, of the consolidation of radio, the rise of major corporations, and the looming satellite and non-radio competition (iPods, etc.).

But the article is wrapped around a visit to WKNR’s new afternoon drive host Mark “Munch” Bishop’s show on Thursday of last week.

Petkovic uses Bishop and his hiring by Good Karma Top Man Craig Karmazin as a sign that at least one radio operator is looking to hire more local talent to reach to a local audience. Both Bishop and Rizzo are long-time Cleveland sports guys who live and die by their local teams. And in our opinion, it’s very hard to be a Cleveland sports talk show host without having your own personal, painful memories of “The Drive”, “The Fumble”, et al.

(And we’re convinced, like a commenter to one of our earlier items said, that “Munch on Sports” producer Bernard Bokenyi and “Rizzo on the Radio”‘s Aaron Goldhammer may actually be living at WKNR’s Broadview Heights studios. At least it seems like it…as both ‘KNR staffers cross back and forth among various roles at all hours of the day and night…)

Over at the Clear Channel World Domination HQ on Oak Tree, Triv checks in about the failing fortunes of music on FM radio, agreeing with Gorman that the pie is shrinking when music can be delivered by so many other means, more customized to the user.

Enter OMW’s “FM Talk Watch”, where we note another new entrant – long-time AM news/talk outlet WILK in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA, which has been broadcasting on three Northeast Pennsylvania AM outlets, has added a four station – an FM.

And WILK’s website has a new logo, which clearly promotes the new 103.1 frequency “on top”.

The march continues.

And we’ll repeat our earlier prediction that least one local radio operator in Cleveland will end up doing talk of SOME sort full-time on the FM band by the end of 2007. Following, of course, Akron market FM talk staple WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron” by roughly 26 years…

An Early Midweek

Thanks to the Memorial Day holiday and a relatively slow local media news pace, this is our first update of the week…

THE CAT HAS LANDED: Those who remember the old top 40 format on Cleveland’s “Power 108” – known today as Radio One urban WENZ/107.9 “Z107.9” – might remember Cat Thomas.

Thomas was PD at then-WPHR, and was originally heard in nights. Though he was apparently nudged into morning drive at one point, most people who remember the station at all remember John “Records” Landecker…the legendary Chicago air personality who did mornings at “Power”.

(By the way, maybe we shouldn’t put quotes around that middle name…as Landecker has always said, “Records is REALLY my middle name”, legally, that is.)

Anyway, Thomas went on to a lot of success at Cox top 40 outlet WAPE in Jacksonville FL. He was operations manager for the Cox cluster there until his departure just a couple of months ago.

AllAccess reports Tuesday that The Cat Has Landed – as operations manager of Entercom Radio’s cluster in Austin TX. The group includes an AC and a Hot AC station, along with an AM talk outlet known as “The Juice”…

WE MISSED IT: We don’t know how we missed it, but Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland “ESPN 850 WKNR” let go a long-time station employee recently.

A Google search brought us to an article by Akron Beacon Journal sports/media writer George M. Thomas, who reported a couple of weeks ago that ‘KNR staple Neil Bender was let go by the station.

Says Mr. Thomas:

Anyone who listened to the station’s coverage of the Cavaliers or watched FSN Ohio’s Cleveland Rants would recognize Bender’s voice and face. He earned respect because of his knowledge of all sports, but he impressed with his knowledge of basketball. He asked tough and insightful questions.

We hadn’t heard much of Mr. Bender in recent months. His most recent assignment would appear to have been handling the morning local sports updates on WKNR’s low-wattage sister station WWGK/1540 “AM 1540, KNR2”. Fellow long-time ‘KNR holdover staffer Josh Sabo does the updates in afternoons, last time we checked.

For whatever reason, the local sports updates are still done separately in Good Karma land between “ESPN 850 WKNR” – handled by Metro Networks-based anchors Jeff Thomas and Daryl Ruiter, also holdovers from the station’s former ownership – and, well, what we’ll call “Mini-KNR”.

We don’t know who has the 1540 morning sports update shift after Bender’s departure, but we last heard Bernard Bokenyi doing them.

And Mr. Thomas’ column linked above also notes WKNR’s rising ratings in the most recent Winter book.

Those ratings were accomplished before Good Karma owner Craig Karmazin made his two biggest moves, hiring WJW “FOX 8” sports anchor Tony Rizzo for middays and WMJI morning sports voice Mark “Munch” Bishop away from Clear Channel for afternoon drive.

While we’re talking about Rizz, Cleveland’s Multi-Media Sports Star (heh) got some publicity in the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s “TipOff” column on Monday, where the PD’s Michael K. McIntyre explored the whole “John Shaver” phenomenon – now a catch phrase/name on “Rizzo on the Radio”.

It apparently started with a friend of Mr. Shaver’s, who called in with his name as a guess for the show’s regular “Who Said That?” contest. John Shaver is apparently a local postal worker, with no sports connection other than a brief stint on his high school football team…

NO KARMA?: A brief item also from Good Karma land.

For whatever reason, Mr. Karmazin has apparently decided not to air his own evening sports talk show – “The Steve and Craig Show” with co-host Steve Politziner – in Cleveland.

It was originally expected to air on Good Karma’s first local radio acquisition, the station now known as “Cleveland’s AM 1540, KNR2”, when the WWGK daytime broadcast hours allowed it to air.

Fast forward to today, where 1540’s broadcast day ends after 8 PM, and the station is now listing FOX Sports Radio in the show’s live 7-8 PM time slot.

Of course, aside from a special weekend appearance or two during coverage of major sports events, “Steve and Craig” was not ever expected to air regularly on the Good Karma flagship sports outlet in Cleveland, WKNR.

For that matter, with his hands full running his two Cleveland stations – along with all the others in the Good Karma World Empire – we have no idea how often Mr. Karmazin’s show airs on even his original outlets…

TURNING ON THE HD: Our colleagues to the east at PBRTV.com note a new HD Radio sign-on in Northeast Ohio – just across the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, where Clear Channel hot AC WMXY/98.9 “Mix 98.9” in Youngstown has apparently joined the digital over-air radio world.

PBRTV’s contributor in the nearby Shenango Valley area, Tom Lavery, notes that WMXY is only broadcasting its main signal on the HD Radio carrier for now, and offers no HD2 format – at least as of yet.

Elsewhere in Northeast Ohio, OMW hears another local station could be almost ready to join the HD Radio world…

Packaging Up The Week

This update will hopefully clear out the ol’ inbox for the weekend.

We’re not going on an official “hiatus” over the holiday weekend, and will update anything major (format changes, major personnel changes at local TV and radio outlets and the like). But since it will be a holiday weekend, we don’t expect much…

WJW MOVES COMING: We have no idea why, but we get at least a handful of E-Mails out of nowhere every single week asking us when FOX O&O WJW/8 “FOX 8” Cleveland will adopt the company’s “FOX Look” on its local newscasts.

In fact, just hours after the latest request for a status report out of nowhere, we got an answer, again, unsolicited.

A reliable OMW source says the “FOX-ification” of “FOX 8 News” in Cleveland is nearly at hand.

And by “nearly”, we mean sometime in the next few weeks. We hear that the local station is about to build a new set, which will require a pause in live shows for “That’s Life with Robin Swoboda”. They’ll put in pre-taped shows to fill the gap.

(And before some of you go running to the comments section at the mere mention of Robin’s name…we already know what you’re going to type.)

Anyway, “That’s Life” has to go on hiatus, because WJW will move the existing news set into that studio, and air “FOX 8 News” from there while the new set is being built.

A few weeks later, you’ll see what’s long been anticipated by OMW readers – a new set, and an update of graphics to the new FOX O&O style, which is basically patterned after the network’s FOX News Channel.

The graphics will also be HD-style, as opposed to the current upconversion…

TO THE SPORTS DEPARTMENT: …where we find The Overworked Sue Ann Robak at WEWS “NewsChannel 5” now being helped by the capable Andy Baskin. He’s the former WKYC/3 sports reporter/anchor who left to start his own production company, and has done fill-in for The Only Large Market Station In America With One Solo Full-Time Sports Anchor.

Well, not quite.

We hear the situation at CBS affiliate WKMG in Orlando is even worse as they await the Cleveland Cavaliers to release WOIO/19 “19 Action News” weekend sports anchor David Pingalore, who isn’t leaving town or the CBS affiliate here until the Cavaliers get knocked out of the playoffs, or, as is about as likely as the Space Shuttle landing on I-77, until they win it all.

We understand that a news anchor at WKMG has even taken to reading a brief sports summary, while they continue to watch the NBA basketball bounce in Detroit and Cleveland and wait for “Ping” to head south.

Anyway, back to 3001 Euclid and Andy Baskin.

OMW hears that he continues to impress the management at WEWS, and with good timing, too… the station may finally name a new sports director soon.

We are NOT hearing that Baskin has the job in hand, but that he’s being “strongly considered” for it.

But, we’re putting all these rumblings together in our head, and we’d be surprised if he didn’t land the gig. But that’s just a gut feeling on our part.

And a tip of the hat to Ms. Robak, who’s been an ironwoman, as it were, after both of her co-workers left for other jobs…she’s certainly improved her own standing, if not at WEWS, than somewhere else…

AND WHILE WE’RE TALKING TV (AND ADDING RADIO): We don’t dive into ratings much, but OMW hears that your May TV sweeps “winners” are WJW/8 and WKYC/3, with WEWS/5 and WOIO/19 on the down side.

And over in radioland, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Julie Washington has an excellent rundown of the Cleveland ratings in Saturday’s PD.

We won’t delve into it piece by piece, but the top 12-plus all-day finisher in the Winter book was Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100.

Top finishing shows in their appropriate demos include Clear Channel oldies WMJI/105.7 mainstays John Lanigan and Jimmy Malone and CBS Radio alt-rock/talk WXRK/92.3’s once-again-hometown show “Rover’s Morning Glory” with Shane “Rover” French in morning drive.

In afternoons, it’s WTAM’s Mike “I Have Never Found Free Food I Wouldn’t Eat On The Air” Trivisonno and Radio One urban AC WZAK/93.1 syndicated host Michael Baisden’s relatively new show.

Notice, if you will, that all four shows are basically talk shows, even on the FM side.

And Julie points out that the home of Rock and Roll isn’t treating its rock stations well, with the highest-rated traditional rocker in ninth-place 12-plus. (By “traditional”, we mean that Ms. Washington apparently isn’t including alt-rock WXRK, which airs eight hours a day of talk, in that list.)

We won’t go much beyond this, because the PD has the ability to publish more ratings than we do (and they have much more expensive lawyers).

Julie has much more at the link above…

YEP, IT’S WKRI: As reported in Radio & Records Online on Thursday, and speculated here earlier, WXRK/92.3 Cleveland Heights will sport new call letters soon… after sister station WFNY in New York City reclaimed their historic calls in a format flip from talk back to rock.

“92.3 K-Rock”, the Cleveland version, will legally become WKRI(FM) as soon as all the paperwork shuffling (or bit twiddling) is completed at the FCC…and WXRK(FM) ends up in the Big Apple, that station also returning to the “92.3 K-Rock” on-air handle.

OMW hears that there are no programming changes expected for the local 92.3.

A tip of the hat to RadioInsight’s Lance Venta, who makes a habit of call letter searches and surfing through new domain information…he let us know about this as well.

THE WOLF RETURNS?: It’s Lance who also provides us the launching pad for this one.

He tells us Clear Channel just registered 933wolfrocks.com, which redirects to the website to the company’s rocker WNCD/93.3 Youngstown.

And sure enough, there it is, a new “93.3 The Wolf” logo staring us right in the face.

Since we haven’t heard the station since, well, forever, we can’t tell yet if they’re positioning like that on the air. (We tried picking up their online feed tonight, but haven’t been successful due to local computer issues.)

But long-time listeners in the Mahoning Valley know the station is actually returning to its roots.

WNCD launched under its original ownership (Dominic Baragona et al.) at 106.1 Niles, as “CD 106, The Wolf”. The animal is a long-time original brand for the station, which Clear Channel eventually bought and swapped its frequency with that of oldies WBBG – the latter now camping out at the aforementioned 106.1.

WNCD has been known recently as “93-3 NCD”. We don’t know when it was “de-wolf-ified”.

And if you want further confusion, WNCD at 106.1 was once the sister station of WNIO. No, not today’s Clear Channel-owned standards outlet at 1390, but the original WNIO, at 1540 Niles.

To close up the chain, 1540 is now WRTK – sporting calls moved from 1390 once intended for a short lived talk format.

And today’s WRTK/1540 is a satellite-driven gospel outlet owned by the king of single-owner radio in the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys, Harold Glunt’s Beacon Broadcasting (WANR/1570 Warren, WLOA/1470 Farrell PA, and WGRP/940-WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA).

There’ll be a quiz, later, especially for Glunt Watchers…

AND 85TH REDUX: And OMW hears that if you missed Salem talk WHK/1420 Cleveland’s 85th Anniversary Special, you’ll get to hear it again this weekend.

We’re told that the special, hosted by former WHK disk jockey Johnny Holliday, will re-air on “NewsTalk 1420” this Saturday – later today, by the time you read this – at 7 PM…

No Longer "Free"

A format flip in New York City may have minor, or future, effects on Cleveland.

CBS Radio talk WFNY/92.3 “Free FM” in the Big Apple has dumped the talk format. AllAccess reports that later today, the station will return to its old “K-Rock” slogan and rock format, focusing on 90’s rock and “some currents and 80’s titles”.

At least for now, morning drive team Opie & Anthony – normally shared with XM Satellite Radio – remain in the new “92.3 K-Rock” lineup…staying in mornings on the otherwise rock-formatted station much like not-quite-immediate predecessor Howard Stern did for many years.

How does all this affect Cleveland?

Well, we’ll be scouring for call letter changes, as we’d bet rather heavily that CBS Radio will swipe the station’s historic WXRK calls from Cleveland’s own “92.3 K-Rock” – which took the call letters after their NYC sister station went to “Free FM” talk. Could the Cleveland alt-rocker become “WXTM” again, if only out of convenience?

Programming-wise, there won’t be much fallout here, since O&A – who air in afternoon drive on Cleveland’s “K-Rock” – are still in that contract with CBS.

But, with CBS flipping away from “Free FM” in two large markets – San Francisco’s KIFR/106.9 dumped the format a few days ago for a resurrection of classic hits KFRC – does this mean CBS Radio is cooling on “FM talk”, at least the “hot talk” variety?

We’ve chronicled here persistent rumors that one or two Cleveland FM stations have been sniffing at an FM talk format for at least a year or two.

But wither CBS?

Does the company’s new programming leadership under Dan Mason (the elder, of course, not the former “96-5 Kiss FM” PD) mean a move away from hot talk aimed at young men? Both “Free FM” flips happened after Mason took CBS Radio’s top national programming job.

Does that mean the current WXRK/92.3 here isn’t likely to expand its talk beyond “Rover’s Morning Glory” and O&A?

And this is not really related, but sort of…an item we have heard about that we just can’t find another place for. And in an item about local FM talk, it would seem to fit.

OMW hears from numerous sources that Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7 afternoon driver Maxwell got into quite a tiff with a member of “The Doors” rock band over the legacy of legendary frontman Jim Morrison.

The on-air interview with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek got so heated, we hear, that Maxwell actually left the studio in mid-segment, and got into a tangle or three with roadies out of the studio.

Though much of this gets played up for ratings, we’re told by a mole inside Oak Tree that this one was real, away from the microphone…

My 1-0-OOPS

Clear Channel Canton market AC outlet WHOF/101.7 “my 101.7” is a family-friendly, female-friendly standard-issue AC format station.

Which is what makes what happened there Monday all the more out of place.

Canton Repository entertainment writer Dan Kane reports that a “string of profane words” aired during a recorded segment at 6:30 on Monday’s morning drive show – by the timing, it was presumably a newscast.

And as a result, WHOF news anchor and co-host Jesse Johnson is “no longer with the company”. Host Gary Rivers has been suspended for a week, and is back at his morning show perch next Tuesday.

Johnson’s bio and other information have been removed from the WHOF website.

The mistake would probably have been apologized away in the past.

But given the FCC’s intense scrutiny of “offensive” broadcast comments, management has to move much more quickly than in past years.

An inadvertently-aired off-air sexually laced conversation with a stripper on an Atlanta FM station’s morning show resulted in the suspension, and later firing, of a team known as “The Regular Guys”.

What happened on “my 101.7” on Monday morning is pretty tame by comparison. But there’s no room for error involving “bad language” in today’s regulatory environment…

Tuesday Night Musings

Some stuff to get out of the hopper, so we can work on other things…

BLAME LEBRON: As OMW – thanks to an Orlando newspaper writer – reported back in April, Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19 “19 Action News” is losing weekend sports anchor/reporter David Pingalore to Orlando’s WKMG/6, the CBS affiliate in that Florida city.

Well, eventually.

OMW hears via Orlando blogger Roger Simmons’ TV blog – which quotes TV news/gossip site NewsBlues – that Mr. Pingalore hasn’t left the North Coast yet for a good reason.

LeBron James.

Well, to be specific, the Akron superstar’s team, the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers. It appears Mr. Pingalore promised “Action News” that he wouldn’t head to Orlando until after the Cavaliers’ playoff run.

Even if the Cavaliers lose to the hated Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, it could keep the WOIO sports anchor here until at very least next Tuesday (the scheduled Game 4), and much later if the local team manages to advance to the Finals…

BIG TEN PUSH: With our earlier item confirming that the Big Ten Network hasn’t yet reached an agreement with Time Warner Cable, a web search on it apparently led the cable/satellite network’s media types to put us on their mailing list.

Apparently, though, they think we’re a Big Ten school-related fan blog.

We got an open letter from BTN president Mark Silverman, who addresses, among other things, the network’s carriage situation.

Since they’ve helpfully passed along a link to an FAQ on the network’s website, we’ll let you follow along.

Silverman mentions the existing deals with DirecTV and AT&T’s video arm (which is not yet available here in Ohio), and addresses negotiations with major multi-state cable operators…like, say, a certain company going by the initials “TWC”:

We have had productive conversations with larger cable operators. Getting those deals done is more complicated because we’re talking about several different kinds of services in several different markets.

These deals take longer to complete due to their complexity, but the fact that DirecTV, AT&T and others have agreed to carry the Big Ten Network is a good sign that all cable and satellite operators – both big and small nationwide – understand the value of our programming.

This is a very standard “New Network Playbook” move, most recently employed here in this region by SportsTime Ohio – before its first year launch. Basically: “We have programming of value”.

BTN also, as STO did last year and other networks have done, encourages would-be viewers to call their local provider:

We urge all Big Ten fans, whether they are inside or outside of the Big Ten footprint, to contact their cable or satellite provider to ask if they plan on carrying the Big Ten Network.

We fully expect all cable systems and satellite providers to carry the network because they understand your passion and love for your team, and thus how important this programming is to you. By calling to inquire if your provider plans to carry the Big Ten Network, you will reinforce what they already know.

Back to that “value” proposition for a second.

Big Ten Network does indeed intend to carry popular sports like the conference’s football games.

But it reminds us of the NFL Network’s struggle to get cable deals after starting to air live NFL games.

Sure, they’ll carry, for example, games involving schools that aren’t being shown on the main feeds of ABC/ESPN/ESPN2/etc.

But an Ohio State fan will generally find the Buckeye football team on those channels, no? (We’re reminded of the furor, though, over one game that was only seen on “ESPNU”, which was at the time not carried on the majority of local cable systems, even in Columbus…)

Most of the BTN “big sport” games will be stuff like Iowa vs. Illinois – second-and-third tier contests that don’t make it to the “big networks”. And like Columbus-based Columbus Sports Network – aka WCSN-LP 32 – Big Ten Network will have a schedule also chock full of “non-high-profile” sports.

But in the end, the most popular sports involving the local Big Ten team will be on over-air networks, or the widely available ESPN or ESPN2 networks.

We suspect that the end result will be that BTN will come down somewhat from its reported $1.10-per-subscriber figure for cable systems in the Big Ten states…

BREAKING NEWS: WKYC Hires New Sports Reporter

There’s a new sports reporter joining up with a local TV station – but it’s not the station which is down to the bare minimum in that department.

WKYC/3 has announced that Joe Brown joins the “Channel 3 News” sports department alongside sports director Jim Donovan and reporter/anchor Brian Colleran. The first heads up, as usual, comes from WKYC senior director Frank Macek’s “Director’s Cut” blog.

Brown has an extensive resume, but was most recently the studio pre-game/post-game host for Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche games for regional sports network Altitude Sports in Denver.

Brown arrives at the Cleveland NBC affiliate just in time to cover the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA Eastern Conference Finals series with the Detroit Pistons.

Meanwhile, ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s sports department hangs in there with just one full-time on-air employee – The Overworked Sue Ann Robak – being occasionally spelled by fill-in Andy Baskin.

Back to WKYC, where we looked at Brian Colleran’s bio and realized that he joined Channel 3 from WPMI/15 in Mobile AL, where he anchored weekend sports for over four years.

OMW wonders if he’s burning up the phone lines back to Mobile to give them a heads up on former WKYC news director Mike McCormick – who’s about to take over the newsroom at WPMI…