Realignment Hits Former Adelphia Areas

The long-promised, long-awaited Time Warner Cable digital channel realignment appears to have officially spread to the former Adelphia systems based in Cleveland.

At least it happened at OMW World Headquarters in the early morning hours of this Wednesday, April 30th…and we have heard scattered reports that we’re not alone.

There are still some glitches, at least in our personal experience. A couple of new channels listed aren’t available, or are apparently not correctly aligned with whatever our digital tier should allow us to view – prompting the viewer to call customer service.

And Winston Broadcasting CW network affiliate WBNX/55 Akron’s digital/HD channel is indeed in the channel guide (407) – but at last check earlier this morning, there was no signal at that channel location.

The channel lineup, at least at OMW World HQ, didn’t come at the same time as an update of the cable box software to TWC’s new “Navigator” system, but that appears normal based on what we’ve heard from others.

One other note: From what we’ve heard, the former Comcast systems in the Elyria and Mentor areas have not yet seen the realignment.

More as we sort through it all…

Tip Of The OMW Hat To Ed

Rubber City Radio’s Ed Esposito, who holds the futuristic-looking title of “VP/Information Media” for the Akron-based radio cluster (oldies WAKR/1590, country WQMX/94.9, and classic rock WONE/97.5), was named chairman of the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) at the recent NAB convention.

We’ve seen it announced other places, but were a bit slow on this – for one – because Ed was too modest to toot his own horn.

But you can hear a honk or two thanks to the good folks at AllAccess. The radio trade site has an interview with Mr. Esposito in its News/Talk/Sports “10 Questions” segment this week.

As per usual, AllAccess requires free registration. Chances are pretty good that you’re already signed up if you’re a reader here…but if you haven’t, it’s worth a look.

AllAccess News/Talk/Sports guru Perry Michael Simon asks Ed about the various challenges facing radio news, and about the cluster’s “innovative” web news presence, the extensive AkronNewsNow.

Ed also notes that a traditional 3-station AM/FM cluster emphasizing its online news site has brought it attention from what he calls “younger web-friendly prospective employees” who get the whole “convergence” thing.

It’s probably a safe bet that those young folks, and other younger news consumers, aren’t finding 1590 on the AM dial any time soon.

In one of our recent stops browsing ANN, we noticed that it contained even more coverage of the late May demise of the WKYC/3-produced “Akron/Canton News”.

The item linked, and the AllAccess “10 Questions” session with Ed, are both worth the read, and congratulations to Ed Esposito…not just because we know he’s a regular reader of OMW…

EXCLUSIVE: Details On Matt Patrick’s AM Talk Show

As first reported here last week, long-time Clear Channel Akron/Canton hot AC WKDD/98.1 morning co-host Matt Patrick will pick up an afternoon talk radio gig on sister AM talker WHLO/640.

We’ve now uncovered the details we didn’t have last week…with an early version of a press release that floated out on the wind out of a Freedom Avenue window.

“The Matt Patrick Show” premieres on Monday, April 28th on WHLO from 5-7 PM.

No, Mr. Patrick isn’t giving up his WKDD morning perch next to co-host Angela Bellios. That job is “Matt’s as long as he wants it,” a quote we believe will be contained in an official announcement to come very soon out of Clear Channel Akron/Canton.

As we suspected, but didn’t know for sure, it’ll be a second job for the WKDD morning driver.

We’re hearing that Matt Patrick will get a studio in his suburban Akron home to do the WHLO show, but will continue to do his WKDD show live daily from the company’s Freedom Avenue studios in Jackson Township/Greater North Canton just south of the Akron/Canton Airport in northern Stark County.

With the WHLO show ending at 7 PM, it only makes sense…as a double-commute and sleep saver, if nothing else.

The station is positioning the new Matt Patrick show as allowing “conversation on local topics”, and says it won’t be a “comedy show or free-for-all”.

And WHLO sees an opening with the upcoming end of the WKYC/3-produced “Akron/Canton News”, to call the show a “new outlet for local information at (6 PM)”.

But we hear the show’s been in the talking-about stages since last summer.

The new Matt Patrick Show will clip one hour off of ABC Radio syndicated host Sean Hannity’s program. Hannity will continue to air live 3-5 PM weekdays.

The “lost hour” of Hannity’s show, the hour now airing live at 5 PM, will move to 9 PM weekdays on Monday, following Hannity friend Mark Levin – whose WHLO airing moves up to 7-9 PM.

The odd man out?

It would appear to be TRN evening host Michael Savage, who appears nowhere on the new WHLO schedule set to start next week. Savage’s show airs late evenings on Salem talk WHK/1420 Cleveland, from 9 PM-midnight.

WHLO will also nudge Savage’s TRN stablemate, Rusty Humphries, up to a 10 PM start…

TWC Ex-Adelphia Changes Early Tuesday?

UPDATE 9:15 AM 4/22/08: There’s a good reason there’s a question mark on this item’s title.

As below, TWC did indeed move SportsTime Ohio’s analog feed from 17 to 76 last night in the former Adelphia areas. There’s now a screen up on 17 directing viewers to tune into 76.

As far as we can tell from our vantage point, the rest of the alignment did not happen.

We’ll see if it happens tomorrow night.

Our original item is below…

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If you believe this notice on the front of SportsTime Ohio’s website, the long-awaited Time Warner Cable digital channel alignment will come to the company’s former Adelphia (Cleveland-based) customers late tonight into Tuesday morning:

Urgent Programming Advisory

Time Warner in the former Adelphia areas throughout NE Ohio will be moving STO to channel 76 on Tuesday April 22nd between 1am and 6am.

(Thanks to an OMW reader for the tip!)

Though both channel 17 (the current STO channel) and 76 are analog placements, the move of the analog placement of STO is tied in with the overall realignment. The SD digital simulcast of STO will also move, and the HD version will move as well.

This dovetails with rumblings and rumors we’ve heard, that this would be the target date for the realignment to finally reach north of the Ohio Turnpike in the now-expanded TWC Northeast Ohio region. Akron/Canton area customers who were on the “legacy” TWC system got the realignment some weeks ago.

It also dovetails with the official word we heard from TWC’s long-time Akron-based spokesman Bill Jasso, who told us last week that the system was aiming for the realignment to reach Cleveland-area customers by the end of the month….

TWC Digital Realignment Update

An update to our earlier post/question about Time Warner Cable’s local digital channel realignment…

TWC’s Bill Jasso tells OMW that the cable operator expects to complete the digital channel moves in the Greater Cleveland area by the end of this month.

The cable operator has already put in the new digital lineup in the so-called “legacy” areas in the Akron/Canton region – the systems that the company previously operated before acquiring Adelphia and Comcast’s Cleveland area subscribers.

He also notes that another change being experienced – replacement of digital cable box software with the company’s new “Navigator” platform – isn’t linked to the digital channel realignment process.

Jasso tells us that “Navigator” is being installed, among other reasons, because it’s needed for new services like TWC’s “Start Over”. If we remember right, that’s the company’s service allowing cable subscribers to join an already started show in progress…

THIS JUST IN: WKYC/TWC Akron/Canton News Shutting Down

WKYC and Time Warner Cable announced today that “Akron/Canton News”, the WKYC-produced weekday news broadcast airing on Time Warner Cable’s “NEON” local programming channel at 6:30 and 10 PM, will close up shop on May 30th.

Channel 3 senior director and Friend of OMW Frank Macek has an item on the end of “ACN” on his “Director’s Cut” blog this evening, with a quote from WKYC general manager Brooke Spectorsky. The station blames poor economic conditions for the end of the newscast.

And the anchor and face of the newscast, WKYC Akron bureau chief Eric Mansfield, has his thoughts on his own blog here.

WKYC says that the station’s Akron/Canton Bureau at the corner of Main and Market in downtown Akron will remain, and Mansfield will continue to report news from the region to air during the regular Cleveland-based editions of “Channel 3 News”.

It’s been a long road for Eric and the gang.

The newscast sprouted originally on the station which was always known for Akron/Canton television news, the former WAKC/23.

After the original WAKC news was discontinued by the PAX TV network under its ownership, the Akron-licensed station again picked up the torch as the home of “PAX 23 News”…in an agreement between the city of Akron (former WAKC anchor Mark Williamson is now spokesman for Akron mayor Don Plusquellic), PAX TV (now Ion Television), and the newscast’s new producer, WKYC.

It was all made easier by the fact that WKYC owner Gannett was part of a chainwide agreement to operate the then-PAX TV stations in markets around the country, including Cleveland(/Akron [Canton]). And it was easy for Gannett/WKYC to graft a “2” next to their existing “3” logo.

When that local marketing agreement expired, and the PAX network’s future came into question, the newscast quickly left the 5-million watt signal of now-WVPX/23, and ended up on another channel 23…the cable position Time Warner Cable had already dedicated to local programming.

It’s been tough since then.

The visiblity of the newscast was reduced drastically, with very few non-“public service” type programs on the local origination channel that wasn’t available to non-cable subscribers.

Recent efforts by TWC to “spruce up” the channel now known as the “Northeast Ohio Network” (NEON) came too late to raise the profile of the “station around the newscast”, and significantly impact its future prospects.

Even after the addition of new, well-produced local programming (“Three Squares”, “Made Here”, etc.), and the move to finally establish an identity, “NEON” is still not the equivalent of a true “local cable channel”.

And for one, it’s still split in channel numbering even now – 23 in the legacy Akron/Canton areas, 15 in Cleveland’s former Adelphia areas, etc.

If we were pushing the buttons, “NEON” would realign with the same channel number throughout the region, a channel that can be promoted to all viewers in all of Northeast Ohio.

Even in the “ACN” territory, those in former Adelphia territories in western Summit County welcomed the newscast on cable channel 15 instead of 23, and due to local access channel congestion, former Adelphia viewers in the Macedonia/Hudson area didn’t ever get the newscast on any channel.

And an unfortunate time slot clash meant that for TWC Akron-area viewers, another of “NEON’s” high-profile programs got cut in half in its live airing – the “More Sports and Les Levine” show with the long-time area sportscaster and sports writer.

Even if all this were “fixed”, and even if the Time Warner folks even more significantly upgraded “NEON” than they have now, it’s still not a broadcast channel – and even surrounded by “Mama’s Family” reruns and shopping game shows, “Akron/Canton News” had a better shot at viewers with a must-carry full-power over-air signal.

And…in better economic conditions.

But…is there a future?

Time Warner’s Bill Jasso tells OMW:

“Channel 3 came to us and said they could not continue the newscast for financial reasons. This was a partnership and we lost our partner. Time Warner is still very interested in continuing the Akron Canton News. If another qualified partner would present themselves, we would certainly be interested in discussing a new partnership to provide the Greater Akron and Canton communities with a nightly newscast.”

This is actually not a surprise.

Remember, we’d heard before that TWC had been interested in some sort of local news programming even before Eric and company brought their newscast over from WVPX.

There is a need for the product. Can someone make it happen and still not lose a lot of money?

The problems we mention above will still exist, as will the shaky economy at least for the time being. But we’ll be watching to see if anyone else – “another qualified partner” – steps in…

Our Number One Asked Question

We wouldn’t say we get a flood of E-Mail, but even when we’re away, we get a decent trickle.

And the number one asked question of the past few days is:

“When will Time Warner Cable complete their digital channel realignment?”

Those asking the questions, as near as we can tell, are in TWC’s “North/Cleveland” territory, otherwise known as the former Adelphia and Comcast system areas TWC acquired some time back. By all we’ve heard, the former “legacy” TWC systems in the Akron/Canton area have made the change.

We’re along with you, and we haven’t seen any signs of the change here at our outpost in the former Adelphia region.

We’ve gotten all the pre-change materials…new lineup cards, letters, and whatnot.

So, when?

Our usual contacts within TWC have been unresponsive, so we have no official word. We’ve heard rumblings that some expect it done by the end of April or early May, but that’s basically a “rumor” at this point.

We will note that last time we mentioned this, we mentioned a technical glitch for some former Adelphia customers – a half-hour of blank video at 10:30 PM after the WKYC/3-produced “Akron/Canton News” at 10 – and that was fixed the next night.

So, maybe someone at TWC will pop up after this, and answer our earlier placed questions about the status of the digital lineup realignment in the Cleveland-area systems formerly owned by Adelphia and Comcast…