A Newsy, Newsy Week’s End

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Local media news items are stacking up like so many planes trying to land, so we’ll try to close them out as we close out the week. And since we’ve done a lot of TV items recently, let’s start on the radio side…

WERE, WJMO SWAP: Radio One, on the heels of selling off its Dayton stations (we’ll revisit that below), has announced major changes in Cleveland involving its two AM outlets.

Starting Monday, June 4th, Radio One swaps frequencies between urban talk WERE, which moves from 1300 to 1490, and gospel WJMO, which moves from 1490 to 1300. Cleveland Plain Dealer entertainment/media columnist Julie Washington has the story online Friday, and presumably in the Dead Trees edition of the paper on Saturday.

The move shuttles WERE local morning driver Ronnie Duncan, and Radio One talkers Al Sharpton and the Two Live Stews, to the less-powerful 1490 frequency (1,000 watts), while WJMO syndicated morning host Yolanda Adams and local afternoon driver Ronny Knight end up on the more powerful 5,000 watt, but directional, signal of 1300 AM.

In between Ms. Adams and Mr. Knight – a new local midday show hosted by Radio One sister WZAK/93.1 mainstay Grace Roberts.

Radio One local VP/GM Chris Forgy tells Washington that the new frequency will allow WJMO’s gospel format to better serve African-American listeners who’ve moved out to the southern and western suburbs.

Meanwhile, Forgy says research says “most” WERE listeners will still be able to listen on the talk format on 1490.

Who’s the “winner” here? Clearly, it’s the “Praise” crew moving to 1300.

1300 is not even the fourth best signal in the market, and its advantages aren’t as clear over 1490 as the power level would indicate. Some listeners will actually lose the gospel format after it moves to 1300, due to a tight directional pattern.

But the station IS five times more powerful than 1490, at least in the direction the signal goes. And in AM radio these days, it’s all about boosting the power in core areas to overcome new noise and interference, from anything from power lines to computers to fluorescent lights.

Not only that, the article would seem to indicate a larger promotional push for the WJMO move, with Ms. Adams even recording telephone calls to inform listeners of the new frequency. And WJMO adds a new local personality. Meanwhile, WERE is relegated to a “most people can still hear it” comment from Mr. Forgy.

By the way, Radio One is exiting the Dayton market entirely, as well as selling all but one of its Louisville KY stations. The buyer is Main Line Broadcasting, the broadcasting arm of Washington DC private equity fund Arlington Capital Partners. Main Line got rolling with stations it bought in Richmond VA.

The company says it is shedding the stations so it can exit “non-core markets” with smaller African-American population.

In both markets, Radio One operates many stations outside their traditional urban radio core, including country WKSW and sports WING in Dayton…

A second item on Ms. Washington’s plate is a big one… WJW/8 veteran (super-veteran) (mainstay) (iconic) meteorologist Dick Goddard will no longer be going solo in the evening.

It’s “FOX 8 News In The Morning”‘s Andre Bernier moving a week from Monday to the evening editions of “FOX 8 News” alongside Goddard, where the two meteorologists will forecast together. Scott Sabol picks up Bernier’s morning show duties.

New WJW VP/GM Greg Easterly, fresh up from his news director job, moves quickly to dispel notions that Bernier being moved is a sign that Goddard will soon retire after 40-plus years of forecasting the weather, in Ms. Washington’s article:

“Dick has no plans to go, and we want him here as long as he wants to be.”

Congratulations to Mr. Easterly for taking the “Joe Tait Route”, much like Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has done. Dick Goddard, like the popular Cavs radio voice, makes his own retirement date, and any manager who thinks otherwise does so at his or her own peril.

Julie also reports what we’d reported earlier: the elevation of Sonya Thompson into the WJW news director’s post vacated by Easterly’s upward movement…

WE THOUGHT HE LEFT: But Ms. Washington has an item we didn’t already have.

It turns out the search for a replacement for Renita Jablonski as local host on WKSU/89.7’s “Morning Edition” has been much more difficult than imagined.

So much so, that a familiar voice will fill in the slot from June 4th through roughly September: long-time former host Leonard Will.

Yep, that’s the same Leonard Will who retired with much fanfare a few months ago, in January.

WKSU PR guru Bob Burford tells the PD that Will’s return won’t be permanent…

BC & LJ REDUX: And we have another Julie Washington item that both follows up on our earlier post, and adds new information.

Ms. Washington reports that WJW “FOX 8” will air that previously expected prime-time retrospective looking back on the career of retiring “Big Chuck” Schodowski and the show which made him famous, “Big Chuck & Lil’ John”.

And, of course, its predecessor, “Hoolihan and Big Chuck”, along with the WJW veteran’s early days on the “Ghoulardi” show with Ernie Anderson.

The show will air at 8 PM on Friday, June 22nd, around which time the show itself will presumably end for good…

AND MORE TV NEWS: This one is an exclusive item, though it’s basically tying up loose ends.

OMW hears that former WKYC/3 news director Mike McCormick has indeed landed in the Gulf Coast region job-wise, not far from his hometown of Jacksonville FL. (Well, that’s “not far” as in “somewhat closer than Cleveland”.)

We hear McCormick starts on June 11th as news director of WPMI/15, the Clear Channel-owned (for now) NBC affiliate in Mobile AL. That’s the second interview stop we were alerted about in an earlier E-Mail.

Clear Channel, of course, is in the process of selling its TV assets…

SPATZ IS BACK: And an item not related to Cleveland radio or TV, but one we spotted on AllAccess this afternoon.

Former WWIZ/103.9 “Rock 104” program director Matt Spatz, who left the Cumulus Youngstown market rocker in March 2006 to program Clear Channel rock WROV/96.3 in Roanoke VA, is heading back home.

This time, it’s Clear Channel rock WNCD/93.3 Youngstown that’ll be Spatz’s destination, where he takes over the PD reins left behind a couple of months ago, when Steve Granato moved over to program sister hot AC WMXY/98.9 “Mix 98.9”.

Welcome back “home”, Matt!


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