Apology And Policy Change

Before we hit the policy change…

It’s almost as much a part of the blog as the news items, it seems…our regular complaints about how the comments section here at OMW gets out of hand, and occasional threats that we’ll remove said comments area because of it.

This time, it was your very own Primary Editorial Voice(tm) who got out of hand, with a caustic reply to an anonymous reader who apparently wasn’t very excited by news of the official approval of the sale of a Youngstown TV station.

Whoever that was, we apologize. Your brief post and use of the letter “Z” in multiple got on our last nerve this afternoon, and we should have held back instead of laying into you. (We’ve deleted all the comments on the below item that aren’t related to the actual item, including our own diatribe.)

Our passion, though, is what led us to go off the handle.

OMW exists solely for our own personal enjoyment. Period.

We’re very happy that about 1200 regular visits a day come from people who find our “news and musings” important enough to read daily. We’re very appreciative of you.

But OMW is basically a very time consuming hobby for us, and the day we get no enjoyment or too much frustration out of it, our occasionally used “hiatus” will become for good. This isn’t a threat or even an extension of the recently announced “hiatus”, just a matter of fact based on why we even do this.

Though we’ve said earlier that we have basically replaced media columnists like Bob Dyer locally, we have no obligation to cater to “reader demand”.

If we don’t want to write something, we don’t write it. If we miss something for some reason, we missed it. If we write about topics that some of our readers don’t find all that interesting, we write about them.

In turn, you have no obligation to read this blog. If you’re not getting what you want from what we do here, go elsewhere for your media news and musings. If enough people feel that way, our hit counts will go from four digits a day to two digits a day, and we’ll “get the message”.

But a reminder…unlike Mr. Dyer and his past colleagues and competitors, we don’t get any money out of this. We get no paycheck. We don’t sell ads, which would bring in some change and not much more.

We do it because we enjoy it, and we’re happy to have whoever wants to be along for the ride.

If we don’t enjoy it…well, there’s a reason we picked up a reader’s joke long ago and started calling this the “Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)”. It’s fun for us, and if it stops being so, we stop doing it.

So, in the future, we’ll try our best to limit the complaining and excessive navel gazing (after this post).

But we’re doing something constructive about it.

Starting immediately, OMW has been set up to not take non-logged-in anonymous comments.

From now on, if we have the comments section open on an item, it will require you to use a Google account to add a comment. This means you can use an existing Gmail account, or create a new account (or Gmail address, or both) at the Google website.

Yes, we know that won’t end “anonymous” comments. We know it’s trivially easy to sign up for a Google account of some sort, and it’s free.

But our goal, as stated before, is to slow down some of the “drive-by” potshots that often come from these comments.

For those who ask about this, we’ll say it again – the comments came with the blog. We never intended on running a quasi-message board, and for those who do like to shoot from the hip, there are other message boards dedicated to some portion of what we cover here.

OK, as said, that’s enough complaining on our part…and now, action!

(Oh, we’ve disabled comments on this item because we don’t really have time to become part of yet another “back and forth” on this. The item speaks for itself.)

–The Management

BREAKING NEWS: FCC Approves WYTV Sale

This just in: The Federal Communications Commission has given its approval of the sale of Youngstown ABC affiliate WYTV/33 from Chelsey Broadcasting to a new Los Angeles-based company called Parkin Broadcasting.

Andrea Wood of the Youngstown-based Business Journal reports that the FCC approved the sale Monday, with little word about why a petition by the NABET union to block the sale was turned away.

But Wood says that in a letter, an FCC official outlined the rejection of the union’s objection, which was flanked by letters from two local U.S. representatives.

The FCC’s video bureau chief, Barbara Kreisman, wrote that NABET didn’t prove that the sale would be contrary to the public interest, and said the agency was satisfied that Parkin’s shared services agreement with New Vision Television, new owner of CBS affiliate WKBN/27 and FOX affiliate WYFX/62-WFXI/17, would give Parkin “full control” over WYTV’s functions.

Parkin Broadcasting owner Todd Parkin has promised a continued unique identity for WYTV, including its own news department, after his company takes over.

Does someone in the Mahoning Valley have a truckload of salt?

The H Word

Yep, it’s that time…due to various Real Life Issues(tm), OMW is going on hiatus (AIIIIII!!!) for now.

We have no idea when this report will resume updating on a regular basis, but we’ll try to be here for any major, breaking media news – i.e. station format changes, sales, or major personality or anchor shakeups.

So, keep checking in…just don’t expect the usual update cycle.

And no, don’t worry ’bout us…we’re fine. It’s just time to go off into the Outside World for a while…

And…Friday

There’s not really much “out there” right now…but we felt the need to clear up the week’s agenda…

WEATHER SET: In our continuing, 50-part, in-depth series on WJW/8 “FOX 8 News”‘ new news set…

OMW hears that Dick Goddard, Andre Bernier and the gang will soon get a new “weather center”, if it hasn’t happened already. For now, the FOX 8 weather folks have been camping out outside, or in front of a green screen.

But we hear that the set won’t be all that different from the alcove that the weather forecasters used on the previous set. It’ll be revamped with all the current signage and logos, and probably will be tweaked for color.

We do expect, though haven’t heard details about, more detailed graphics to match the newer output…

NEW HD2S: Mark Geyman at OhioBiz, who produces the Ohio streaming audio directory you see linked at the left, gives us word on new HD2 subchannels at Ohio radio stations.

Geyman notes three formats, and names, even, for HD2 subchannels of three Clear Channel stations in Toledo:

104.7 WIOT – “Nitro” – Active Rock
92.5 WVKS – “Club Phusion” – Dance – Top 40 Dance
101.5 WRVF – “Amy” – Soft Rock

Closer to home, we know Clear Channel hot AC WKDD/98.1 in the Akron/Canton area will launch a subchannel at some point, but have only heard rumors about a format. The station is simulcasting its regular feed on 98.1-HD2 right now, but has put a different “Hello” scroll up there.

Oh, and thanks to the OMW reader who pointed us towards a reason why stations aren’t airing simulcasts of their weaker-signal news/talk format AM stations on their FM stations’ HD subchannels.

DCRTV reported a while back that Clear Channel in the Washington DC market yanked the simulcasts of conservative talk WTNT/570, and liberal talk WWRC/1260, from FM HD3 simulcasts.

The popular DC/Baltimore radio/TV news site says it’s because CC got some grief from other members of the “HD Alliance”, the broadcasters group which has been coordinating formats on the HD subchannel side.

Apparently, the other broadcasters didn’t like the presence of commercials on the talk stations’ formats – presumably because they’re otherwise promoting the HD subchannels as “commercial free”… which no talk format is, unless some sort of separate feed is put up with music blanking out the breaks…

NO, HE’S NOT GOING: Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno seemingly lights a fire with his words just about every month or so.

But this one would be, we understand, a misunderstanding.

The Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) was recently peppered with comments – and even assumptions! – that Triv would bolt WTAM for morning drive at CBS Radio classic rock WNCX/98.5, a spot currently filled by three on-air personalities…one of which was first heard on the radio with Triv himself (Kim Mihalik).

We didn’t hear the segment, so it took a bit of digging.

As it turns out, the comment from Triv was apparently due to some sort of Disgruntlement-of-the-Moment with management at Oak Tree, and he fired that he COULD move to mornings at WNCX “for twice what I’m making now”.

It’s not even the first time he’s said this, of course.

When rumors were floating about him moving to morning drive at sister rocker WMMS/100.7 – right before the station brought on syndicated hosts “Bob and Tom” – Triv commented/joked/threw out there that if he were “going anywhere” to do mornings, it’d be WNCX.

We don’t read anything into any of this.

As a well-read local source of not only news, but local radio rumblings, we’ve heard absolutely nothing that would lead us to believe that Triv is going anywhere, or for that matter, that the “WNCX Morning Show”, with Ms. Mihalik, Wynn “Mudd” Richards and Mike O is going anywhere, either.

We’re not ruling anything out, but we’re not hearing it. Period. From credible or even not-so-credible sources. Our best guess is that Triv stirs up that pot from time to time, and specifically does so with WNCX to tweak his former co-host.

See, we can do our best to extinguish things, if needed…

No Officials Day

A lot of things you see on local TV news are somehow driven by a consultant’s recommendation, or some sort of concerted effort by management to tweak the station’s image, or correct perceived problems with the station.

You should keep that in mind when watching WEWS/5’s newscasts today.

OMW hears that today, Thursday, has been proclaimed “No Officials Day” in the newsroom at “NewsChannel 5”.

What does that mean?

Our sources tell us that news staffers at 3001 Euclid have been told not to use any on-camera soundbites today from officials – i.e. police and fire spokespeople, political officials and the like.

The goal is to force the news folks to “be creative”, we’re told, and use “real people” for news soundbites…instead of a police official or spokesman using “cop talk” (“the altercation occurred on the 2300 block of Main Street”, etc.).

We assume the “no officials” policy would be broken if there was no choice. But what about the long-running series out of reporter Tracy Carloss’ “exclusive” one-on-one with Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson? Does that take the day off today?

The goal, presumably, would fit with NewsChannel 5’s ongoing “on your side” slogan… making the newscast more “human”… giving sort of a “real people” feel to it.

But sometimes, you have to talk to officials. Sometimes, they are needed to flesh out the story. And sometimes, frankly, “real people” are not the best, most articulate people to put on camera.

We’re reminded of an event we read about in another market. A local forum there grilled news directors of the various TV stations, and one of those news directors was talking about the station’s political coverage.

He said their long-respected political reporter was wasting his time if he didn’t go out of the two blocks around their major government area and “put a face” to stories based on legislative or council action.

We can understand that. Political minutiae glazes over the eyes of the audience, and you can only say “ordinance 1234” or “House Bill 50” so often, and finding how the bill will affect people is a laudable effort.

But even WEWS realizes that you can’t embargo “officials” for a long period of time, we suppose.

For example, during the station’s week-plus-long “Campin’ With The Browns” segment at the local NFL team’s training camp in Berea – are team general manager Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel off-limits on “No Officials Day”?

Things that make you go “hmmm”…

Just Falling Together

Sometimes, before we expect to publish one of these items, we wonder if enough news will be available to us to put up a post.

And then, it just happens…

ANOTHER HIRE ON EUCLID AVENUE: Though it appears to be no closer to solving its sports problem, Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5” in Cleveland has tapped a permanent co-anchor for “Good Morning Cleveland”.

OMW hears that the station is bringing aboard Kimberly Gill, who’s been morning anchor at Media General CBS affiliate WBTW/13 in Myrtle Beach/Florence SC for five years. (We believe the market was once just known as Florence, until major population growth in the popular beach resort city of Myrtle Beach and nearby.)

Gill will join recently named permanent co-anchor Paul Kiska, weather anchor Susanne Horgan, traffic reporter Trisha Skidmore, airborne reporter Jack “Air” Marschall and news reporter Joy Benedict on the show…which we assume means that WEWS has finally landed on a permanent configuration for the morning show.

Umm, maybe. We’ll see…it is “NewsChannel 5” we’re talking about, here.

OMW hears Gill starts at 3001 Euclid on August 6th.

Wither Lorna Barrett, the former Channel 5 reporter who’s been filling in on “GMC” and elsewhere? OMW hears that though she did not get the permanent morning co-anchor gig, she’ll continue to do both anchoring and reporting fill-in…

VETERAN CLEVELAND TV NEWS NAME PASSES ON: John Herrington, a long-time local news reporter at Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC/3, has passed away.

The tip comes from WKYC’s own blogger, senior director Frank Macek, on his Director’s Cut blog.

Frank’s item reminds us that Mr. Herrington was with Channel 3 for some 25 years (!). But we didn’t remember that he actually started in the Cleveland market as anchor of what would have to have been the area’s first effort at a 10 PM newscast.

No, not the “10 O’Clock News” started by WUAB/43, which quickly established a beachhead and featured, among others, current WKYC anchor Romona Robinson.

We didn’t know or remember that Kaiser Broadcasting independent outlet WKBF/61 produced a show by the same name years earlier, with Herrington as its anchor.

RIP, Mr. Herrington…you were a fixture in this market for anyone who watched local news…

NO, NOT YET: Some comments to an earlier item indicate that it’s believed Rubber City Radio country WQMX/94.9 in the Akron market started broadcasting in HD Radio.

As the owners of one of approximately 10 HD Radio units in Northeast Ohio, we pulled ours out of the closet and at least as of now, the country powerhouse isn’t yet regularly broadcasting a digital carrier.

If they do have such plans – and we know a lot of people in the Radio Center read here – they’d have a ready-made HD2 subchannel…the well-designed “Classic WQMX” classic country format already running as a streaming audio feed on WQMX.com.

That’d be the second such HD2 subchannel in Northeast Ohio, with Clear Channel’s WGAR/99.5 in Cleveland operating such a channel already.

And while we’re at it – we wonder when someone’s going to put aside a low-bandwidth HD3 channel for a simulcast of a co-owned AM news/talker…

A Nice Monday Mix

…and our apologies for being a bit late, since we were “on the road”.

We’re back, with at least one item we believe to be an exclusive…

YET ANOTHER NEW SPORTS REPORTER: If we told you a Cleveland station was hiring a new sports reporter, you’d probably guess it would be ABC affiliate WEWS/5, right?

We mean, after all, “NewsChannel 5” has but two sports anchors/reporters on staff, and station veteran Sue Ann Robak is the only one who’s working full-time…with Andy Baskin still doing fill-in.

Nope. It isn’t them.

It’s the Cleveland Headquarters For Sportscasters, otherwise known as Gannett’s WKYC/3, hiring yet another sports reporter.

He’s Dave Chudowsky, who worked at Dispatch’s Ohio News Network until his last day last week.

UPDATE 3:15 PM 7/23/07: Chudowsky’s hiring has now been officially announced by WKYC. Read more at senior director Frank Macek’s “Director’s Cut” blog.

The item says Chudowsky is actually replacing sports reporter Brian Colleran, and also notes that new addition Joe Brown is anchoring weekend sports now. We don’t know where Colleran is going, at this time.

Chudowsky is also a Northeast Ohio native, a graduate of Bay Village High School, who will be seen on the station where he interned in the late 1990’s. He’s also been spotted locally on SportsTime Ohio and on Bruce Drennan’s “All Bets Are Off” show there.

Still in the mix – whoever replaces David Pingalore as reporter/weekend sports anchor at Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19 and sister MyNet outlet WUAB/43. We haven’t kept track of the race to replace the former “19 Action News” sportscaster, who left to join an Orlando station.

Last we heard, station reporter Tony Zarella – who has a pretty decent sports background – was filling in…

CUMULUS MOVES: There’s not much to say about it, but we felt the need to note the big news out of Cumulus Media.

The company is launching a $1-point-3 billion deal to go private, with the help of Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey and a Merrill Lynch private equity fund.

For the moment, it appears it may not have much effect on the stations. Mr. Dickey is fronting the effort, and there would appear – for now – to be no station sales triggered by the move, unlike Clear Channel’s still-in-progress sale to two private equity firms.

Cumulus has clusters in Ohio in Youngstown, Toledo and Cincinnati. It swapped out Canton’s WRQK/106.9 to Clear Channel, in order to take over that company’s clusters in a number of Michigan cities…

WHAT ABOUT TK?: We haven’t mentioned him much in OMW for some reason, but the host of three major syndicated radio shows based right here in Northeast Ohio is still figuring out his next move.

Tom Kent announced earlier this month in the trade press that he was quitting his three shows syndicated by TKO Radio Networks. We heard him doing one of the shows Sunday night on Clear Channel oldies WMJI/105.7, “Into the 70’s”, which reminded us of this situation.

AllAccess reported at the time that Kent “couldn’t reach agreement” with other TKO Radio principals, and still retained an ownership stake in the syndication company.

The popular trade website then hinted a couple of weeks ago that Kent was “up to a lot”, but couldn’t say what, yet. We also have no idea if the show we heard Sunday night was new, or a repeat.

“TK” has been hosting that program, along with “Classic Top 40” and “Hall of Fame Coast to Coast” from a home studio in his basement, we believe somewhere in the Brecksville area. That’s roughly a 10 minute drive down I-77 from Oak Tree…

FOX LIMA #1?: There’s no doubt that WOHL-CA 25 “FOX Lima” owner Gregg Phipps has an uphill battle with the station, and his other local LPTV network affiliates in Lima, against established NBC full-power outlet WLIO/35 “NBC Lima”.

He may have won a battle.

Station officials say WOHL has been awarded a “FOX #1 Club” honor from its network, due to, and we quote, “being the # 1 station in the Lima Market for the February and May television ratings sweeps during Primetime.”

Ratings are a funny thing, so we’re just taking them at their word for now.

“FOX Lima” does air many nationally-popular FOX shows, like “American Idol”, “24”, “House” and the like, and despite being an LPTV outlet, WOHL has had cable carriage for longer than any of Mr. Phipps’ sister LPTV stations (WLQP/18 ABC, WLMO/38 and the like).

And considering Lima’s small size as a market, even WOHL-CA’s broadcast signal likely covers Lima and Allen County without much difficulty.

Though the station boasts that the FOX lead-in has increased viewership of “FOX 25 News at 10” some 200 percent, we’d have to figure that WLIO’s news operation swamps the news airing on the LPTVers overall…