Hey, THERE’S The "Q" in "Q92"!

It took them over five years, but D.A. Peterson Canton market top 40 outlet “Q92” finally has the station’s historic calls back.

WDJQ/92.5 Alliance became WZKL in 1992, after a format change to oldies (“Kool 92”). But after abandoning oldies to return to a hit music format, the station wasn’t able to reclaim the “WDJQ” calls…since the calls landed on a U.S. Coast Guard ship – the Damon B. Bankston, if you’re curious. (And no, the ship wasn’t pumping out today’s favorite hit music.)

OMW hears the process to get the calls back from the Coast Guard started in 2002, and here we are, five years and change later – “Q92” can now identify itself as WDJQ, again. Though we have no idea why what sounds like a cut-and-dried process to us took over five years…

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Another NewsChannel 5 Departure – A Big One

A high-profile face and name is about to leave local television, and in specific, his current employer – Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5”.

OMW hears that it’s already been announced at 3001 Euclid… reporter/anchor Jack Marschall will exit the building, heading out of the business for a job as Director of Community Relations for his home city of Parma.

This has been Jack’s second tour of duty on Euclid, with a previous stint in the mid-1980’s. And of course, he is also known for his time on WUAB/43’s old “Ten O’Clock News” newscast, which was supplanted by the 10 PM edition of WOIO/19’s “19 Action News” when both stations became co-owned.

In recent times, Jack Marschall had served as a traffic reporter – dubbed Jack “Air” Marschall – on Channel 5’s “Good Morning Cleveland”. He’s also filed news stories for the station’s later newscasts…

RIP: Allen Saunders, Former WHLO VP/GM

The Akron Beacon Journal reports this morning that former WHLO/640 vice president/general manager Allen Saunders, who went on to become the first voice of CNN, has died at the age of 84.

Saunders guided the Akron station from the early 60’s into the late 70’s, and then became Cable News Network’s first “voice of God”. It took no less than James Earl Jones to replace him as the news network’s voice.

The article (written by former WHLO’er Jim Carney) doesn’t mention that Saunders was indeed WHLO’s own “voice of God” in its station imaging.

As an early devotee of the station and its first news/talk format under Susquehanna in the mid-1970’s, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) will always remember Mr. Saunders’ voice booming for the station’s talk radio “hour openers”… “NOWWW…from WHLO News/Talk64!…something DIFFERENT in radio entertainment”.

It was a voice that drew you in from the other room…letting you know that what would follow was worth checking out.

And no, the use of the station’s general manager to voice station identification, hour openers and promos wasn’t a cost cutting move for WHLO. It was an imperative, with THAT voice…

Willie Strikes Again

Clear Channel talk WLW/700 and Premiere Radio host Bill Cunningham has managed to make himself the talk of the nation, politically.

You’ve probably been living under a rock in the past day if you haven’t heard of his remarks warming up a Cincinnati audience for an appearance by presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

McCain reportedly did not hear Cunningham taking verbal potshots at Democratic candidate Barack Obama, or his use of the Democratic candidate’s middle name (Hussein). But reports out of Cincinnati say the Arizona Senator heard of the comments indirectly from an aide, and distanced himself from what Cunningham said.

We’ll touch on this more, later…as Mr. Cunningham barely needs us to give him more publicity. The “Big One” host and host of Premiere’s “Live On Sunday Night” has gotten far more attention than from just a small Ohio-based media blog…

RIP Myron Cope

We’ll admit that the first time we heard legendary Pittsburgh Steelers radio voice Myron Cope, we didn’t understand why he was so popular over in Western Pennsylvania. Maybe our head-scratching was compounded by the fact that the Steelers broadcast in question was being aired by Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 in Cleveland, on a Browns bye week.

Anyway, no matter if we understood his appeal or not, Myron Cope was a broadcasting icon in Pittsburgh.

Cope died this morning at a suburban Pittsburgh nursing home at the age of 79.

And since OMW nominally covers at least parts of Western Pennsylvania near the Ohio border, we’ll add our own “RIP, Myron Cope” here…

Northeast Ohio’s Digital TV Transition

Note: The Blogger interface sometimes munges URL links with ampersands in them.

If any of the below links don’t work, go to the FCC’s TV Query page, put in any of the below call letters, and when you get a station’s information returned, click on “Application List” anywhere it appears. You’ll be able to find the proper documents there…look for the ones filed this past week.

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Less than one year from now, all those big, analog signals that have fed Northeast Ohio TV sets our local stations for decades are going to be shut off, as part of the federally-mandated digital TV transition. (Please, don’t tell us that any OMW reader is just learning of this!)

We spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening sifting through newly filed FCC documents. Every full-power station in the country was required, by last Tuesday, to file a status report on how they are handling their path to the digital transition date, February 17, 2009.

The verdict?

The largest group of Northeast Ohio stations have built out their post-transition digital facilities, and will just flip the switch to turn off the analog transmitter on that date…continuing on the same digital channel they’re using right now.

The following stations have some sort of extenuating circumstances. If you don’t see a Cleveland or Youngstown market TV station on the following list, it is in the first category. The list is sorted in order of current analog channel number.

The stations listed below have a link to their report about the transition, and much of the detail is contained in PDF files linked to the bottom of that report.

Cleveland market:

WKYC – As has already been announced, Gannett’s Cleveland NBC affiliate is abandoning both analog 3 and the current digital channel, 2, for digital channel 17. No matter what, they’ll have to wait until TBN’s WDLI/17 switches off their own analog transmitter on that channel, on 2/17/09.

The station has to resolve Canadian coordination issues for the new DT 17 facility, as listed in the attachment:

Although it is WKYC’s understanding that the Canadian government intends to approve the station’s channel 17 facilities, until coordination has concluded, WKYC cannot order its channel 17 antenna, as the parameters of the station’s final digital channel have not yet been conclusively set.

WKYC cites the uncertainties of Northeast Ohio weather post-November, and expects to file for an STA (Special Temporary Authority) to operate WKYC-DT on its current channel 2 until the DT 17 facility construction is completed.

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WEWS – The Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate will remain on digital channel 15 after the transition, abandoning out of core analog channel 5.

But in October 2008, it’ll have to do some antenna movement to complete its post-transition facility.

Basically, the station’s current top mounted antennas – digital and analog – have to be moved to a side-mount position, so WEWS engineers can add more to the tower to move the new digital antenna to its prescribed position.

Aside from a temporary reduction in both the analog and pre-transition digital signal between this time and the new digital antenna’s installation, it’s likely not many will notice a change…

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WJW – The Cleveland FOX O&O (for now) will abandon its pre-transition channel 31 digital facility, and will camp out digitally on good ol’ Channel 8.

The station will have to file for a new construction permit to specify its use of the analog antenna for the new digital installation, as per the application:

WJW PLANS TO FILE AN APPLICATION FOR POST-TRANSITION CONSTRUCTION PERMIT SPECIFYING THE HIGHER CENTER OF RADIATION AND OMNIDIRECTIONAL PATTERN OF ITS ACTUAL PROPOSED POST-TRANSITION DTV FACILITY AND SEEKS TO HAVE ITS APPENDIX B PARAMETERS MODIFIED ACCORDINGLY. WJW-DT’S PROPOSED SERVICE CONTOUR WILL NOT EXTEND MORE THAN FIVE MILES BEYOND ITS PRESENT DTV ALLOTMENT CONTOUR IN ANY DIRECTION. THEREFORE, IT IS ANTICIPATED THAT CANADIAN COORDINATION WILL NOT BE NECCESSARY.

Of course, by the time the digital transition date hits, WJW will likely be in the hands of its new owner, Local TV LLC…assuming there are no major delays in that transaction…

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WVPX – The Akron licensed ION TV-owned facility will flash cut from analog to digital on Channel 23 on 2/17/09.

The station says it’ll has “identified” the equipment it’ll use, and will convert its analog transmitter for digital operation on the existing analog antenna. The status report says this move, starting in June 2008, will result in a reduction of the current analog service area by “33%”.

WVPX never lit up its pre-transition digital signal on channel 59 due to numerous mostly technical reasons, many of them having to do with issues coordinating with Canada. And channel 59 is “out of core” post-transition, so this is the only option WVPX had…

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WVIZ – Believe it or not, after years of headaches, there’s some possible “good news” for Cleveland’s PBS affiliate in the land of digital TV.

WVIZ will be staying on its pre-transition digital channel 26, abandoning 25. But the Ideastream-owned PBS affiliate has had a long-running legal dispute with CBS Radio, which owns its tower site (CBS’ WNCX/98.5 is there).

Is there an end, soon? Read the report…

IDEASTREAM FINALLY DEVELOPED A LEASE MODIFICATION THAT IS BELIEVED TO MEET CBS’S NEEDS AND A COMPLETE PROPOSAL WITH EXHIBITS WAS SUBMITTED TO CBS FOR APPROVAL. FURTHER INFORMATION WAS REQUESTED BY CBS AND IT HAS BEEN PROVIDED, BUT IDEASTREAM DOES NOT YET HAVE AN EXECUTED LEASE MODIFICATION SO THAT WORK CAN BEGIN.

Once that agreement takes effect, the application says a side-mounted temporary facility at the North Royalton site would take about six months, and they’ll request an STA for it. They say the final, top-mounted, post-transition facility “WOULD NOT BE IN PLACE UNTIL SOME TIME BETWEEN FEBRUARY 17, 2009 AND AUGUST 17, 2009”. WVIZ’s application says the station would apply for an extension to cover that, if this plan is what is decided upon.

But whatever power level the side-mounted STA facility would specify, either way, WVIZ-DT would finally be on an actual tower, and not on a small tower that barely clears the roof of the station’s former studio building on Brookpark Road in Parma…

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WKBN – This one is less complex than it looks.

The Youngstown CBS station is abandoning analog 27 for digital 41, and has an STA to run pretty much close to its final post-transition facility…only with a side-mounted antenna.

The station says it plans to move to a top-mounted antenna, and may need an STA to continue running the current STA facility until the move is complete – which due to weather, may not happen until the spring of 2009.

To viewers, like with WEWS-DT, the change may not even be noticeable…

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WNEO – The Alliance-licensed, Youngstown market half of Kent-based PBS affiliate “PBS 45 & 49” is moving its digital operations to the current analog channel 45 after the transition.

Well, that’s not quite accurate.

The station’s application says the “flash cut” of 45 to digital, and the end of the DT 46 operation, will actually happen BEFORE the 2/17/09 digital transition date, making WNEO the first full-power analog station in the entire region to shut down.

The station says it’ll retrofit the current DT 46 transmitter to channel 45, and since they’ll be using the analog 45 antenna for the digital post-transition DT 45…

“…NETO anticipates that analog service will also be terminated after November 19, 2008. Once the retrofitting of the transmitter is completed, NETO will connect the transmitter to the existing (top-mounted) channel 45 antenna and commence operations on its post-transition channel.”

We’ll assume that WNEO is ensuring no disruption of service to local cable operators and satellite providers.

And over in Akron, sister WEAO-DT isn’t moving from channel 50, using its current facilities…

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That’s it for now. Every other operator in the region will stay on the current digital channel, and use the current digital facility, after the transition.

Yes, this means more grief for those who have trouble picking up the digital signal of Raycom Cleveland market CBS affiliate WOIO/19, which will continue to camp out on digital channel 10.

The problem here is mainly for those along Lake Erie, where interference comes from analog CFPL-TV London, Ontario…which barrels across the lake into lakeshore communities like Lakewood and Euclid.

Since Canada has no hard digital TV transition date, that CFPL channel 10 analog signal isn’t going away any time soon.

At least viewers in the southwestern part of the Cleveland market won’t have to contend with interference from WBNS out of Columbus after next February. WBNS, also on analog channel 10, is keeping its digital facility on channel 21 post-transition…

Two Quick Items

And after this, coming later today, a rundown on the digital TV transition and what local stations are doing in Northeast Ohio.

Two short items, though…

BERNARD’S PROBLEMS: Inside Radio reports that Bernard Radio, owners of three Youngstown market radio stations (WASN/1500, WGFT/1330 and WRBP/101.9), and two Columbus market stations (WVKO/1580 and WVKO-FM/103.1), could be on the block.

After battling with former partners in the D.B. Zwirn “Special Opportunities Fund”, the parent of Bernard Radio, Inside Radio reports that Daniel Zwirn is telling them that he’s going to sell off assets. Zwirn’s fund loaned money to the Ohio stations’ former owners, Stop 26 Riverbend Productions, and took over operation of the five stations under the Bernard Radio banner after Stop 26 was forced into bankruptcy court. Bernard has also owned stations in the Dallas-Ft. Worth radio market, but those are already being sold.

It’s another chapter for stations that have already been through a lot. We’re wondering – is this where Beacon Broadcasting’s Harold Glunt steps in, at least in Youngstown? We know Mr. Glunt (WANR/1570, WLOA/1470, along with WEXC/107.1 and WGRP/940 Greenville PA) was kicking the tires on the three stations now owned by Bernard Radio in that market… before the company decided to operate them.

Bernard’s WVKO(AM) is being run in an LMA by Gary Richards and “Cowtown Communications, LLC”…

“THE WORD” LOSING YOUNGSTOWN MARKET SISTER STATION: AllAccess reports that Salem Communications has agreed to sell Christian talk/teaching WHKZ/1440 Warren to Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation for a reported price of $550,000.

WHKZ, the long-ago locally-run WRRO, has mostly been operated as a simulcast of Cleveland Christian talker WHKW/1220 “The Word”.

WHKZ has sold time to religious broadcasters in the Youngstown/Warren market, and also runs Salem syndicated conservative talker Hugh Hewitt – Hewitt is a native of Warren…