BREAKING NEWS: Drudge Out, WLW’s Cunningham In

Premiere syndicated Sunday night host Matt Drudge exits his show after his September 30th show. OMW hears that Premiere says the host “has chosen to depart the radio business” to concentrate on his popular Internet site and “other endeavors”.

The Drudge show airs on most Clear Channel-owned talk stations in Ohio, and counts an affiliate base of over 325 stations nationwide.

Replacing him is WLW/700 Cincinnati early afternoon mainstay Bill Cunningham, who starts October 7th in the Sunday night slot.

As far as we know, “Willie” continues in his local WLW weekday time slot, and as far as we know, unlike WLW stablemate Mike McConnell’s daily program, that show will continue to focus only on Cincinnati and the Tri-State area.

More details as they develop…


Short Weekend Wrap

OMW will not be updated between now and Labor Day, as barbecue sauce doesn’t mix well with keyboards.

But coming early next week, we’ll have an exclusive (as far as we know) Q&A with a former local TV news anchor who’s working on a very interesting new project…

WOW! PIGS DO INDEED FLY!: It’s not often that the other local media outlets praise Raycom Media’s WOIO/19 and the Cleveland CBS affiliate’s “19 Action News”, but it’s happened today.

Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett has good words for the folks at Reserve Square, lauding their “Take Back Our Streets” special – which aired on the station in prime time on Tuesday night. She called the show 19’s “finest hour”:

The program was incredibly respectable, especially for Channel 19, which has a reputation for tabloid, in-your-face reporting.

It’s great to see the station produce a quality town hall meeting and see that (anchor Sharon) Reed does her best work clothed.

Gee, and we thought we made a lot of snarky comments about the “19 Action News” anchor best known for her controversial disrobing in the station’s “Body of Art” series! Brett opened the column by noting that most people probably think about “her birthday suit” when they hear Ms. Reed’s name.

Though we didn’t see the show, it sounds like a genuinely laudable effort. We’d probably have nixed, for example, activist and overexposed media personality Art McKoy from the guest list – he’s got 50,000 watts to use every Sunday night via his show on Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100, for one.

But overall, maybe it’s a dialogue and a start to help curb problems on the streets in the city of Cleveland. Yes, we’ll write positively about WOIO as well. Where are those airborne porcines, anyway?

And though Ms. Reed has earned much of the derision she gets in the local media community – we can’t even remotely post half of what we hear about her – she gets a gold star for this one.

We know that if it’s what she sets out to do, Sharon Reed can be a good journalist. OK, give or take a “call to my personal cell phone” producing a breathless report clearly designed to showcase her dramatic talents to stations in Houston and other cities.

We recall her work on Cleveland Browns pre-season games, back before WOIO lost those rights. Once she concentrated on interviewing players, instead of flirting with them, she actually did a decent job.

Maybe she’s figured that if she wants to get hired at stations that don’t have a tabloid reputation, like her current employer, she actually has to build some credibility…

TERRY’S HERE! TERRY’S HERE!: We’re quite frankly surprised that the Cleveland Plain Dealer hasn’t put up a LeBron James-style giant billboard to trumpet the arrival of incoming sports columnist Terry Pluto from the Akron Beacon Journal.

Terry’s now made the move up to Cleveland, and held an online chat earlier today with his-to-become new reader base, many of which have read his column in the Beacon already.

The newspaper has been running a countdown (“Two days!”) to Pluto’s first PD column, which will be in Sunday’s paper.

With the shrinking base of newspaper readers in an area with a shrinking population base, it’s become clear that “stars” are needed. Pluto gave the ABJ a profile much larger than its local base in Akron and nearby areas.

People READ sports columnists here in Northeast Ohio. We’re passionate about our local teams, as bad as they are sometimes, and even when they’re bad, we need someone to help us get through it without screaming.

We suspect Pluto’s a bit embarrassed by the full court press of attention lavished upon him by the PD, but…columnists are stars for the paper. And the Cleveland paper just landed a big one…

The Big Ten Notwork

No, that’s not a typo. We meant to say “Notwork” in our title.

That’s because unless you have a DirecTV satellite connection, the new Big Ten Network is not likely to be in your TV lineup card now that it has officially launched.

The All Big Ten, All The Time Network has been negotiating with major cable multi-system operators like Time Warner, which is by far the dominant cable provider in most of the OMW coverage area.

So far, nothing.

It would appear the placement of the channel is still the biggest sticking point.

Cable operators want to put it on a sports tier, or at very least on some digital cable tier. BTN is making its case to have the channel show up on a typical expanded basic lineup, a case they renew here.

On the cable side of things, Canton Repository sportswriter Todd Porter has a Q&A with Massillon Cable president Bob Gessner here. Gessner’s system – co-owned with Wooster’s Clear Picture – is not one of the smaller operators that have signed up.

Who has?

Toledo’s Buckeye Cablesystem, which serves a chunk of Northwest and North Central Ohio (including Sandusky), was one of the few cable systems to agree to terms with the BTN folks early. The handful of people with AT&T’s “U-verse” system in Northeast Ohio will also get the Big Ten Network.

And on launch day, the Big Ten Network announced a deal with Insight Communications, which not only serves the Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati, but also a small portion of Columbus.

So, cable subscribers SOMEWHERE in Columbus will be able to catch The Ohio State University Buckeyes battle head coach Jim Tressel’s former team, the Youngstown State University Penguins, on Saturday.

But the vast majority of cable subscribers in the Columbus market are served by Time Warner’s huge “Mid-Ohio” division. Again, no word on TWC and BTN at this point…they would appear to be still at square one.

So, why is SportsTime Ohio, a new network, in cable systems’ analog tiers, and BTN is having problems with that?

Massillon Cable’s Bob Gessner explains it rather well in the above linked Canton Repository story:

Cleveland Indians Baseball has been part of basic cable for many years. In the early years of Fox Sports Net Ohio (then called SportsChannel), the Indians’ away games were all available on WUAB as part of basic cable. Everyone received them.

Gradually, all the games moved to SportsChannel. The fact 100 percent of the games were only available on Fox Sports Net makes a far more compelling argument for basic cable carriage. When the Indians started their own network last year, they moved 100 percent of Indians baseball from Fox Sports Net Ohio to STO.

The same facts are not true for Big Ten Network. The Big Ten Network will have the third or fourth choice of Big Ten football games.
TV coverage of Big Ten games will not be diminished as a result of this new network. The few games that Big Ten Network will show are new, incremental games. That’s why I believe they should be available on an optional basis.

The view from here? Much like the NFL Network thinking actual game content would drive fans to inundate their cable company with calls, the Big Ten Network seems to be counting on missing Ohio State games to send Ohioans to the phones.

And it doesn’t seem to be working.

Casual fans will likely not miss either the Buckeyes’ contest Saturday with YSU, or for that matter, the tilt with the University of Akron Zips the following week.

Three alert OMW readers let us know that YSU’s local TV coverage, seen on local FOX affiliate WYFX “FOX 17/62”, only covers tape delayed home games, and the locals will only get a radio call via Clear Channel’s WKBN/570. Since this isn’t a home game, it won’t be televised in the Mahoning Valley anywhere, unless the viewer has DirecTV to pick up the BTN feed.

Of course, all OSU games are on the Buckeyes’ extensive radio network. If you just have to know immediately how badly Ohio State is swamping Youngstown State, all you need to do is flip on a radio, for free.

The “important” games that won’t be lopsided Buckeye Blowouts? They’ll be on either ABC or ESPN, guaranteed.

Now, if OSU-Michigan was only on the Big Ten Network, the fans would scream. But that’s not likely to happen, at all…

Some TV Quickies

The first is something that’s already happening…the other is one that’s likely to happen soon…

IN PLACE: WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5″‘s lineup for “Good Morning Cleveland” is finally in place, as new co-host Kimberly Gill joins Paul Kiska this week, along with Jack “Air” Marschall, Susanne Horgan and Tricia Skidmore.

Gill has been doing some field reporting since she arrived in Cleveland.

The show’s lineup has been in what seemed like permanent flux after the departure of personalities like Adam Shapiro.

The station must feel confident the lineup will last, or hope it will – Channel 5 has been running a number of promos for the new “GMC” team during the day.

Of course, there will be a little temporary shakeup again on the show not that long from now, when Ms. Horgan goes on maternity leave…

ON THE WAY?: OMW hears that a local TV personality who left Cleveland for another job is on their way back to town, and will land at a different station than their original local home base.

We aren’t putting names and stations out there yet, though you’re welcome to speculate. We have heard which person and which station, but we haven’t nailed down the information enough to report more than just general rumblings…

AND WELCOME NEW READERS: Our item late last week about the exit of WOIO/19 “19 Action News” morning weathercaster Bruce Kalinowski was picked up by two very widely read online publications.

Both the industry newsletter “ShopTalk”, and the popular online TV newsroom gossip site “NewsBlues” ran our item.

That has brought some out of town visitors here, and we welcome them!

Like OMW is read by pretty much every local TV news type out there in Northeast Ohio, the two reports are read by just about every local TV newsie in the country…

A Lot For A Monday

It’s a pretty full breakfast plate for us on a Monday morning. Hmm, we’re getting hungry…

MORE ON THE WNIR MORNING DRIVE OPENING: Though we’d mentioned that the full-week auditions for the open chair on Akron market talk WNIR/100.1’s morning drive show were slowing down, we heard another “auditioner” last week sitting alongside Stan Piatt, Jim Midock and Steve French.

Near the end of the program, which is pretty much nearly all of what we’d heard, Piatt made it clear – on the air – that the Akron Beacon Journal’s Kim Hone-McMahan was not there to officially compete for the job long-time host Maggie Fuller left in June. (Fuller, of course, was busy on her own last week. More on that in a bit.)

The one-day visit to a hard-to-find small building on Route 59 in Portage County became the basis for “Must love caffeine and schoolboy humor”, an article Hone-McMahan wrote in Sunday’s paper.

And oh, are we going to have fun with this one.

Writes Kim:

Don’t get me wrong, I like my job at the Beacon Journal and don’t have any interest in leaving (unless it’s for a six-figure salary).

And after spending an entire morning at WNIR…noting “a testosterone-filled studio with worn-out carpet and a girlie calendar”…”with a rather antiquated phone system”…Ms. Hone-McMahan now probably realizes that any such salary offer would only be “six figures” if two of those figures were on the other side of a decimal point.

Anyway, she wasn’t bad for an untrained radio newbie, at least in the little we heard, and we’d have thought she was an auditioner until Mr. Piatt said otherwise.

And is a resolution coming soon, with the “female co-host” role filled permanently?

It would appear not. For one, considering the station’s management, every day they don’t regularly pay someone to take Ms. Fuller’s position is a day they don’t have to cut even a modest check.

This is, after all, the same radio station which operates its regular, weekly remotes from a long-time sponsor’s location via an unequalized phone line. Remotes from a location close enough to the station’s studios that you could almost walk there.

But that’s a soapbox we’ve climbed upon so much, we have worn footprints into the top, and it’s about to break…

AND MORE ON THE FORMER CO-HOST: Not much more, actually, but Maggie Fuller just completed a week in her own auditioning role – alongside talk WEOL/930 Elyria morning drive host Les Sekely on “Les in the Morning”. (Well, at least it’s not “More News and Les Sekely”!)

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to hear any of her on WEOL, and we don’t know, yet, how it went.

It’ll be an adjustment for Maggie, at least a little. Referring back to the “schoolboy jokes” line of the Akron Beacon Journal article linked above, WNIR’s morning show and WEOL’s morning show are two different animals. (And no, that’s not a joke about Stan Piatt, though he may act like one at times on the air. One would assume Mr. Sekely isn’t telling slightly-cleaned up jokes heard at local comedy clubs, to boot.)

From what we’ve heard of Ms. Fuller at WNIR, we suspect she won’t have a problem “toning it down” for the audience of the station which carries mostly a straight-ahead diet of news and talk for Lorain and Medina counties…

STREAMING IN: We found out a while back that Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron is finally streaming its signal via the website, making it the last station in the Clear Channel World Domination/Southern Command compound on Freedom Avenue to webcast.

Of course, WHLO has virtually no daily local programming, so the lineup of hosts like “Quinn and Rose”, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage et al. won’t sound any different than it does on a gazillion Clear Channnel (and other) talk stations that carry the same shows across the country, give or take whatever local imaging makes it through the commercial replacement system for the online feed.

But it gives an Internet voice to people like WHLO’s Tom Duresky (news), and whoever will do the high school football games that end up on 640 this year.

In that vein, OMW hears that both WHLO and sister sports outlet WARF will indeed do high school football this season, as we hinted earlier – with “SportsRadio 1350” joining in the fun after the Akron Aeros complete their Eastern League baseball run.

We’re also told that the games will be made available via the stations’ websites in podcast form, for mothers and fathers who want to replay the call of Johnny’s touchdown pass again and again…

LOCAL RADIO NEWS LEGEND RECOVERING: OMW hears that veteran retired Northeast Ohio radio newsman Ken Courtright is going through some serious health problems, though the latest news seems to be better for him.

Family members tell us that the surgery Courtright underwent Friday went “better than expected”, and that he’s now recovering in a New Philadelphia health care facility.

We’re told he last appeared in public at the 2006 Woolybear Festival, along with his daughter, WOBL/1320 Oberlin news reporter Julie Courtright. And it’s been a long, tough health road for him since, though hopefully, the latest turn of events will be better for him.

Ken started his radio career at the age of 14 at WJER in New Philadelphia, and went on to a long and storied career at stations like Cleveland’s WWWE/1100 “3WE”, along then-WJW/850, WERE/1300, as well as then-WDBN/94.9 Medina and then-WSLR/1350 Akron. (We trust regular readers already know the current calls, format and dispositions of all those stations.)

We’re told after becoming news director at WBTC/1540 Uhrichsville in the final stage of his long run doing radio news, Mr. Courtright returned to the station now known as WTAM for part-time work.

And upon his retirement, his daughter took the news torch from her father.

Julie Courtright started her own career in under the watchful eye and tutelage of her father in Tuscarawas County, at WTUZ/99.9 Uhrichsville, before moving up to Lorain County.

We’re told Ken would love to hear from people who remember him, and can be reached at the Schoenbrunn Health Care facility in New Philadelphia…

EMMY CALL: And here’s our annual plug for the local Emmy Awards ceremony for Cleveland, and all the various markets included in the regional competition…isn’t Indianapolis in there for some reason?


The 38th Annual Emmy Awards is Saturday, September 8 at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 Carnegie Avenue, right across from Jacobs Field. Cocktails begin at 5pm, dinner at 6pm and the Emmy Awards at 7pm. Tickets and complete information is available on the chapter website: and are $75 for members. Also, the Hilton has rooms available at only $99 per night for the event.


Since we’re pretty sure just about everyone who might attend the ceremony is reading this report, we’re happy to help…

BREAKING NEWS: Kalinowski Exits 19

OMW hears that WOIO/19 “19 Action News” morning weather forecaster/meteorologist Bruce Kalinowski has done his final forecast for the Raycom CBS affiliate in Cleveland.

We’re told that Bruce stepped down, quietly, after his final report during the station’s noon news on Friday. We’re also told that the station did not intend to renew his contract, which expires in just over a month, and that he was given the option to exit the station today.

As far as we know, this is an exclusive, as we are told Mr. Kalinowski did not “say goodbye” on the air, or make a big deal out of it as a TV “pro”.

One piece of Bruce Kalinowski trivia, which you may know: Before coming to Channel 19, the Northeast Ohio native – who went to Kent State University – was an 18-year forecaster for the Atlanta-based Weather Channel, using the on-air name Bruce Edwards.

We’d forgotten the length of his tenure at the cable channel, or his official title (“Director of On-Air Meteorology”), until we read his “Action News” bio, which mentions all that.

But we remembered the use of the name Bruce Edwards for the Weather Channel.

Like WJW/8 veteran news anchor and now talk show host Robin Swoboda, Bruce started using his real name when he returned to Cleveland.

Ms. Swoboda was known as “Robin Cole” when she worked in Miami, if we remember right, and was advised by locals that her given name would go over well in a city like Cleveland…

Something To Write About

UPDATED! See below…


We’ve been quiet here at the OMW ranch for a couple of days, but mostly because we haven’t had much to write about. We’ve found enough…

THIS JUST IN: An alert OMW reader tips below that Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850” in Cleveland has signed up to be the home of the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters.

Here’s the blurb on

The Lake Erie Monsters and WKNR announced on Wednesday that ESPN 850 WKNR will be the exclusive radio home for Monsters games! The announcement was made by Monsters President Kerry Bubolz and Good Karma Broadcasting President Craig Karmazin.

For more information, check out news and views. The puck drops October 6th.

The local top-level minor league hockey team starting this fall is owned by NBA Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

The Cavaliers are in the midst of a multi-year deal with Clear Channel, and air on talk powerhouse WTAM/1100, with local sports radio legend Joe Tait calling the play-by-play…

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – WHERE?: A little birdie reminded us that we’re upon a Season of Obsession in Northeast Ohio…high school football season.

As we once told an out-of-town manager, broadcasting high school football on the radio in this part of the world is about as close as you can get to printing money. We then proceeded to prove our theory right – by getting the games, airing them, and selling more from those games than the rest of the station sold in spots.

Needless to say, most community-oriented outlets in the region will feature some sort of high school football game this weekend.

We haven’t checked the entire list, but we suspect you’ll find the usual suspects on it (and we mean in a good way)…stations in Akron (WAKR/1590, WHLO/640, WARF/1350), Canton (WHBC/1480, WCER/900), Elyria (WEOL/930) and Wooster (WQKT/104.5) will carry a lot of games. If we missed your station, please feel free to provide details in the comments on this post.

And then, there’s WTAM/1100.

Huh? WTAM is doing high school football?

Well, not quite.

We heard “Weekend Sportsline” host Mark Schwab tout the station’s coverage of high school games, starting this Friday night. But, as you might expect, the games won’t be on the radio.

We can’t find where they’ll be, yet, but WTAM is webcasting high school football games this year somewhere on “Schwabbie” himself will be one of the voices heard, if we remember right, along with station personalities like Browns beat reporters Andre Knott and midday host Bob Frantz, and maybe a producer or two.

We’re wondering if the games will be heard on the main WTAM stream, considering that Cleveland Indians baseball will be heard most Friday nights on the air…and not on the Internet via WTAM’s website, due to MLB regulations and all.

On the radio dial itself, WTAM competitor WKNR has weighed in, promoting its high school football coverage in this blurb on its website:

Friday nights will never be the same as ESPN 850 WKNR presents High School Hysteria! Each week Bob Karlovec and Bernard Bokenyi will have the call of a feature game of the week.

Aaron Goldhammer will anchor coverage with reports from all the top games of the week plus interviews of all the coaches each week.

The opening contest: Traditional Cleveland powerhouse St. Edward at Strongsville.

We’ll touch on where “HSFB” will be seen on TV in a post later this week…but the local TV news operations are certainly gearing up for their all-out high school football coverage, usually seen as an extended broadcast after the Friday night editions of their newscasts…

It would appear that WTAM’s Dave Ramos has landed a beachhead as a weekend and fill-in talk show host.

Ramos is the producer on Bob Frantz’s midday show, and recently filled in for the host one Friday morning. And we heard him with his own Saturday afternoon 2-hour program…complete with produced liners by the station’s on-air voice. In one, the voice mockingly joked that “OK, you whined enough, here (the liner) is”.

Since WTAM’s website schedule is etched in electronic water, due to the shifting nature of programs because of sports events, we don’t see him listed there. In fact, we can’t even find Ramos on Mr. Frantz’s page.

But many remember that he started on the air as one of the station’s “Total Traffic” reporters, and took over for Ryan Gohmann producing Frantz’s show when Mr. G moved to Florida (WFLA/970 Tampa). Like with Gohmann, Mr. Ramos’ job involves a decent amount of on-air banter with Bob.

We’re not sure how permanent this weekend show is, though.

WTAM has shuffled various hosts and concepts through the weekend afternoons and evenings, including a stint by sister rock WMMS/100.7 afternoon driver Maxwell. If we remember right, even Gohmann did a couple of weekend shows.

But we’ll assume the Big Booming Station Voice recording liners is a good sign for Mr. Ramos…

A BIG DEMAND: We noted earlier the latest controversy at Clear Channel talk WLW/700 Cincinnati, where a national Hispanic group was upset at on-air promos the group considered stereotypical.

That followed the “Big Juan” billboard campaign, much in the same vein.

Now, the group is pulling out the Big Guns, as it were.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the League of United Latin American Citizens has laid down an ultimatum to Clear Channel Cincinnati market manager Chuck Fredrick – give a plan by the end of the week that will stop such promotions from happening again, or they’ll unleash a Clear Channel boycott.

Quoting the article:

(Ohio Deputy Director Jason) Riveiro said if Fredrick does not meet their demands, the group will target Clear Channel’s top 10 Hispanic markets by urging listeners to tune out and businesses to pull their ads.

That idea was clearly driven by the national LULAC folks, with an eye to the Hispanic listener base…that’s much larger in other markets than it is in Cincinnati.

The group and other organizations protested WLW’s Kenwood studios earlier this week, with about 20 people out in front of the Clear Channel building during the afternoon drive time period.

We’re not sure if this is the kind of fodder used on the comedy talk show hosted by Gary Burbank, but we’d not be at all surprised if WLW brought its microphones – both news and promotion – out front of the building.

Remember the protest by older listeners of the fictional “WKRP in Cincinnati”? “It’s a NEWS story, Les…Jennifer, call all the newspapers….”

Just get the call letters right…WLW…

ANOTHER BRIEF CINCY STOP OR TWO: And that’s courtesy of Enquirer radio/TV guru John Kiesewetter and his blog

Kiese notes that WVXU/91.7’s HD Radio signal is online. But though the move allows the two dozen HD Radio owners in southwest Ohio to pick up NPR news and talk digitally, it’s being hailed for something that won’t happen until next Monday at noon.

That’s when the Cincinnati Public Radio folks will launch WVXU’s HD2 channel, a rebroadcast of what has been only an Internet feed of a once-legendary local station, nationally-known alt-rocker WOXY.

The station became a cult favorite in Cincinnati from its perch outside of town, on the 97.7/Oxford signal which is now occupied by a part of the “MAX FM” adult hits simulcast.

After the sale to First Broadcasting, the “Future of Rock and Roll” (BAM!) turned out to be on the Internet, where has struggled to remain viable.

We’ll assume that the presence of WOXY’s feed on a non-commercial station’s HD2 feed will mean the format will be available free of charge to HD Radio owners, and won’t have commercials mixed in…

Kiese also reports the start of Cincinnati’s first HDTV newscast, offered by ABC affiliate WCPO/9.

The HD newscasts started rolling last Sunday night at 6 PM, which has become the traditional time for stations to launch such an effort.

But a slight correction for Kiese:

Cleveland and Columbus stations started local news in HDTV earlier this year.

Well, most of them started within the past year. But Cleveland FOX O&O WJW/8 “FOX 8 News” has been doing HD newscasts since November, 2004

WE DON’T HAVE TODD KELLY TO KICK AROUND ANYMORE: Readers who have been with us a while remember the story of Todd Kelly Smith, the Louisville KY radio personality who landed a job at Canton market top 40 outlet WZKL/92.5 “Q92” as promotions director.

Well, he landed it until it was revealed that he was in major, major legal hot water, accused of starting a bogus charity for a condition he apparently lied about having.

News of the “Todd Kelly Foundation” and its troubles apparently never reached Smyth Avenue before Mr. Kelly’s hiring, because when the Stuff Hit The Fan in trade websites and right here on OMW, newspaper reporters were quickly alerted of his pending job – which would have been rather difficult to do from a Kentucky jail cell.

Mr. Kelly Smith never made it to Stark County, and his post was filled by someone not awaiting a criminal trial.

Well, we have an update, courtesy of the folks at Louisville market NBC affiliate WAVE/3:

Former Louisville radio personality Todd Kelly, pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges he faked Lou Gehrig’s disease and cancer, then stole as much as $150,000 donated to a foundation in his name.

Kelly, whose real name is Todd Smith, admitted guilt Tuesday to mail and wire fraud as well as money laundering. He is expected to receive a 7-year federal prison term and must pay more than $74,000 in restitution.

Yes, it’s kinda difficult to do a radio job when you’re serving 7 years in a federal prison…