Saying Goodbye, And Hello

Today, as scheduled, is the final day of the WKYC/3-produced “Akron/Canton News”, which in recent times has been airing on (most of) Time Warner Cable’s systems in the Akron/Canton area.

The last two newscasts will air at 6:30 PM and 10 PM on the company’s “NEON” local programming channel in the Akron/Canton region (23, or 15 on the former Adelphia systems in Western Summit County).

The newscast moved from WVPX/23, the former ABC-turned-PAX TV affiliate long known for local TV news in the Akron/Canton area in its days as WAKC and WAKR-TV, to TWC’s local programming channel – where it says its goodbyes tonight.

But as we learned Thursday, the change means more than the downsizing of the WKYC presence at Main and Market, in downtown Akron’s United Building.

With the Akron/Canton operation transitioning to a “two to three person” bureau for the NBC affiliate mothership in Cleveland, that led to quick arrangements to take over the rest of the space.

A Rich Heldenfels story in Thursday’s Akron Beacon Journal outlines the details.

As WKYC’s presence in the building shrinks, the remaining space will be occupied by two other local media tenants, both based in Kent – PBS affiliate WNEO/45-WEAO/49, and Kent State University NPR outlet WKSU/89.7.

WKSU will use the new digs to establish a downtown Akron news presence, moving at least one regular reporter from Kent. The deal means the station won’t have to build out a newsroom expansion in Kent, and gives closer access to Akron newsmakers. It’ll also give the NPR outlet a sales, er, underwriting presence in downtown Akron.

“PBS 45 & 49” cite similar reasons for a downtown Akron “home”, though it’s less clear what the local PBS outlet will do there starting July 1st.

One thing mentioned is the eventual move of the weekly news magazine “NewsNight Akron” – or whatever it becomes – to the United Building. The ABJ story also mentions talks between WNEO/WEAO and WKSU about doing televised “Folk Alley” programming from the facility.

(And speaking of “closer access”, the move makes it doubly convenient for WKYC Akron/Canton bureau chief Eric Mansfield, who will still work out of the building – he, of course, is now doubling as “NewsNight Akron’s” host.)

The Heldenfels piece reveals some other things we didn’t know – the WNEO/WEAO operation is moving away from the “PBS 45 & 49” branding, and will become known as “Western Reserve Public Media” later this year.

The move is apparently an effort to more “regionalize” 45/49’s local image, and Heldenfels reports that “NewsNight Akron” will also change name and scope.

Still, whatever efforts “PBS 45 & 49” undertake, they won’t replace the loss of Akron/Canton’s only nightly TV newscast – again.

Those looking for coverage on this might also take a look at an article by WKYC’s Frank Macek on his “Director’s Cut” blog, where he echoes some of the reasons we’ve talked about for the demise of the WKYC-produced “Akron/Canton News”…aside from the obvious, the economy:

At first, we were encouraged that TWC was out to make the cable deal work. But after numerous channel shufflings to accommodate the Indians new network, SportsTime Ohio – the show was surrounded by public access and could not find a permanent home except between the community calendar and the blackness of empty tv space. It didn’t work. It couldn’t work.

Finally, after Channel 3 threatened to end the show because of bad advertising sales, TWC ramped up their efforts with a new sales staff. There was a big gathering of community leaders from both Akron and Canton who were committed to saving the show. We thought we were back on track, but the little engine that could, would find no more steam.

We should note that Mr. Macek clearly states that the article is his own opinion, and not necessarily that of WKYC, Gannett, et al.

As noted here, TWC has made some recent efforts to turn the local programming channel into more of a “real” channel.

But despite more slickly-produced local efforts, and reasonably high-profile programming like “More Sports And Les Levine”, the heart and soul of TWC’s “NEON” channel is still a public access channel…and the efforts to spruce up NEON’s programming and image came far, far too late to help the “ACN” broadcast.

Over across the WKYC blogosphere, the face of the departing broadcast, anchor Eric Mansfield, has been blogging about its end from time to time. He weighs in on the WNEO/WEAO and WKSU developments and the last week of the show in this entry.

And we’ll sure he’ll have at least something to say tonight, when the virtual set background at Main and Market is shut down for the last time on cable channel 23, 15 or wherever you happen to watch the final “Akron/Canton News”…

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We’ve Been Away

First of all, an apology. We haven’t really been around lately, and we haven’t updated since a week ago.

As we said some time ago, this blog will be updated on our own, personal schedule. It’s been kinda busy lately, and such…so…here we are coming up for air.

If you’d like to be freed of the need to keep checking this blog just to see nothing new, feel free to plug our XML/RSS feed URL into your newsreader or browser. Most modern browsers, including current versions of both Internet Explorer and Firefox, support this as “live bookmarks” or something of the like.

Here it is:

http://ohiomedia.blogspot.com/atom.xml

You’ll then be able to have our updates “come to you”, either when you load up your browser for a new session, or when your news feed reader refreshes.

Another on-topic update will come your way soon. Of course, judging from our hit count lately, it may only be read by a few of our closest friends.

But we only have ourselves to blame for that, and since we don’t “depend” on hits for anything (we don’t do advertising, etc.), it’s no big deal to us…

A Thursday Smorgasbord

We”l stop in Columbus, first, before ending our trio of notes all about talk radio with a curious Cleveland item…

COLLINS OUT: Everyone’s being kind of mum about it, but Clear Channel talk WTVN/610 Columbus program director Bruce Collins is out.

The veteran programmer (Oklahoma City, Nashville, Atlanta, all at Clear Channel talk stations) tells the folks at Radio & Records that he basically won’t say anything about his departure, but will say “are you hiring?” to a prospective new employer.

The top programmer in the building at Clear Channel Columbus, occasional OMW reader John Crenshaw, is also not talking about the reasons for the departure. R&R has this:

He did say that he is seeking Collins’ replacement and interested candidates should send materials via any available method including carrier pigeon, which Crenshaw says would work well since he has a ledge outside of his office window.

It’s probably best to forgo the carrier pigeon. They could very well mess up your T&R package, if only by natural means.

We’ll save John the trouble, by only sending him candidates who can figure out how to reach him without our help…

LOOKING FOR DONATIONS: Collins also oversaw programming at WTVN sister talker WYTS/1230 “Your Talk Station”, which became a general market conservative talker after dumping the liberal talk format it ran under the call letters WTPG.

Bernard Radio’s WVKO/1580 picked up the format in Columbus some time later, under the LMA operation of Gary Richards’ “Cowtown Communications, LLC”, and has a similar schedule.

It also is actively soliciting listener contributions on a new web page:

Due to slow advertising sales, WVKO is currently having trouble paying its bills. Good, progressive Salespeople are hard to find in Central Ohio, especially for a startup mom-and-pop station like WVKO. The station now finds itself with unpaid bills, and may have to shut down if $50,000 is not raised within the next few weeks.

We’re surprised, and we’re not.

We felt that the station’s sports programming would at least help keep the lights on at WVKO. Not only that, the minor league baseball Columbus Clippers, we hear, are actually paying the station to run their play-by-play schedule.

The sports programming preempts liberal talk favorites like Air America’s Rachel Maddow, to much grumbling from diehard listeners, but it’s apparently more money than the station is getting from selling regular advertising time.

Contrary to popular belief among many WVKO partisans, we’re not hoping or wishing for the station’s demise. We’re even fans of some of the programming, as we’ve said quite often.

But it just underlines the struggle a low-budget station has in staying on the air in a large, expensive radio market, with little ability to afford outside promotion or build an audience, and up against large and mega-large broadcast companies as competitors.

Those big name competitors are able to absorb flagging stations and formats in the larger firmament of the company’s bottom line….stations like, oh, let’s say, WYTS…which isn’t exactly burning up the ratings in Columbus.

And if we wanted WVKO to fail, would we link to their contributions page above, a page that allows PayPal donations? Of course not.

We’ve long expressed a fondness for the “little guy” in big media, and feel it makes for a more diverse and interesting broadcast dial.

We’ll be watching to see how they do down on 4th Street in Columbus…

SIT WITH TRIV: It would appear WTVN’s sister station in Cleveland, talk WTAM/1100, is officially advertising for the opening created by the departure of “Alison”, who until recently occupied the Designated Female Contributor Chair on the station’s afternoon drive show with Mike Trivisonno.

Well, we’ll assume that’s what they are asking for, in this job listing seen on AllAccess:

Newsradio WTAM 1100 in Cleveland, Ohio offers a full time opportunity on the Mike Trivisonno show in PM Drive.

Radio experience a plus but not required. No Phone calls. Attach resume and a MP3 demo no longer than two minutes to: triv@trivshow.com

Resumes and CD demos also accepted via mail. Send to:

WTAM
Attn: Ray Davis, Program Director
6200 Oak Tree Blvd, #400
Cleveland, OH 44131

Clear Channel Communications is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

There’s no mention of not only the actual job (“on the Mike Trivisonno show”), or for that matter, the prospective applicant’s ability to endure in-studio eating.

It also could be possible that this is a perfunctory EEO ad. We haven’t heard anything about potential new members of the Triv Show cast, though we haven’t listened to the show at length for months…

Monday Updates And Corrections

We’re just going off on a tangent or three here, and there may not be any connecting thread. This is just stuff that’s been piling up in the Collective Mind here at the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)…

SANE: Not really much to update here, but it appears the announcement of the arrival of incoming VP/general manager Victoria Regan at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 Cleveland was well received.

OMW hears that when announcing her appointment at 3001 Euclid, Scripps bosses used the word “sane” more than once to refer to Regan’s management style.

“Sane” or not, management-wise, Ms. Regan has a lot on her plate. “NewsChannel 5″‘s newsroom has been something of a revolving door as of late, with some high-profile departures and new folks coming in to replace them from parts all over.

There are other things, but Scripps isn’t paying us consulting fees…

TIME WARNER UPDATE: This is all anecdotal.

But it would appear that the bulk of the lineup conversions have been done at least in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton part of Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio territory.

OMW has heard from readers who live in areas such as parts of the former Adelphia Western Reserve territory in Northern Summit County – and in at least the Elyria-based part of the former Comcast territory…the digital channel realignment has reached those parts of TWC’s Northeast Ohio empire. We’ve also heard from at least one reader in those sections of the TWC empire, saying it hasn’t happened for them, yet.

We’ll use this space to ask you to E-Mail us, if you’re in a Time Warner area without the new digital channel lineup. For one, we don’t know if the folks over in Youngstown/Warren, or Western Pennsylvania, have seen the new lineup yet…

WHILE WE’RE IN DIGITAL CABLE LAND: It appears one small local cable operator will become the first “all-digital” cable system in the region.

MultiChannel News and the Canton Repository report that Massillon Cable and sister Clear Picture in Wooster will make the conversion on the same date as the over-air digital TV conversion, February 17, 2009.

(There’s no connection between the two events, but the local system’s Bob Gessner tells the trade magazine that the date will allow them to piggyback on the awareness of the OTA conversion.)

Massillon Cable and Clear Picture will deploy a whole bunch of special lower-cost, limited feature digital-to-analog converter boxes expressly designed for this sort of thing. We guess they could be considered the cable equivalent of the OTA boxes being sold now, as long as Massillon Cable is riding along with the OTA deadline, at least.

Though the FCC standards require CableCard-equipped boxes, Massillon Cable and at least one other small operator have gotten an FCC waiver for this purpose.

The system says it’s making the box move to free up analog bandwidth, so it can add more HD channels in the future.

It’s also making the low-end converter boxes free for about a year (at least for a certain number of boxes per home), and according to the article, plans to charge 25 cents a month for box and remote after that…

CONVERSION UPDATE: OMW was scolded a bit when we posted that Canada has no digital TV conversion plan.

The topic came up when we mentioned that Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19 in the Cleveland market would become the worst major digital signal in the market when WKYC/3 and WVIZ/25 camp out on that new tower to be built at the WKYC Parma facility. That comes, in part, due to the presence of powerful CFPL-TV 10 across Lake Erie in London, Ontario, an analog station on the same channel as WOIO’s digital facility.

A reader says we should have hit Google before we said Canada didn’t have a digital transition plan, and helpfully provided us with that information – which we found linked here as well. Quoting from the CRTC:

Television licensees will be authorized to broadcast only digital OTA signals after 31 August 2011, although exceptions may be made in northern and remote communities where analog transmissions will not cause interference.

We’re surprised we never picked up on that. Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) keeps his eyes and ears on Canada, and you’d think we’d have remembered that story (which is why we didn’t look).

So, CFPL will eventually go digital.

The only question we have – on what channel? According to various databases, CFPL’s digital side – presumably not operating in any form right now – is allocated to channel 57.

That channel is out of core in the United States. We haven’t been able to find out if stations in Canada will be using those allocations at the 2011 transition date, or if, for example, CFPL could petition for digital on 10.

And if they did, would they have to coordinate, or not, with the U.S. (and in this case, WOIO-DT), as a new allocation?

No matter what, it would appear that the result of the final answer to all that still means that CFPL sits on analog 10 through mid-2011…no matter what…

SO LONG, FRANCE: That “France” would be one Mr. Jeff France, aka “Franceman”, who is on the beach.

No, not on Lake Erie, but no longer employed as morning co-host on Toledo Cumulus hot AC WWWM/105.5 “Star 105.5”. OMW hears that word came down – officially – of his exit Friday evening.

We’re reminded of one other thing – that the Cumulus deal to go private is now dead, per a number of trade media reports last week. We’ll assume that means the two Cumulus Toledo stations tabbed for spinoff do not need to exit the company…

AND WHILE WE’RE IN TOLEDO: A tip of the hat to our latest newspaper writer/OMW reader, the Toledo Free Press’ Bill Stewart.

In his Friday “Media Watch” column, Stewart touches on our item about Toledo market AM outlet WDMN/1520, which has been adding various syndicated talk programs as of late.

Stewart noticed the talk programming, as well, and turned to us to find out more.

Well, here’s some more. Listeners have spotted two other syndicated talk programs airing on the former religious/gospel outlet known as “Dominion 1520″…and we frankly didn’t expect them to air on a station owned by the Cornerstone Church.

We don’t know how regular they are, but we hear Jones Radio syndicated liberal talkers Bill Press and Stephanie Miller are rounding out the morning talk lineup on WDMN, at least as of late last week.

We’ve heard, but have not confirmed, that music may be heard in off-hours or weekends, similar to what happens at Bernard Radio Youngstown market talk WGFT/1330 Campbell.

We’ve heard that latter outlet, known as “1330 Talk”, playing classic rock and oldies music on Sundays….even though the Youngstown market’s home of Citadel syndicated morning drive talker Don Imus does run WOR Radio Network talk programming on Saturdays…

WEWS Names New Leader

Cleveland Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 has named a new vice-president and general manager. She’s Victoria Regan, who comes in from Hearst ABC affiliate WPBF/25 in West Palm Beach FL.

Though she’s joining “NewsChannel 5” from Florida, she has extensive experience in Pittsburgh TV.

The official release from Scripps follows…

————————–

Regan Named Vice President and General Manager of Scripps Station in Cleveland
Wednesday May 14, 3:15 pm ET

CINCINNATI, May 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Victoria G. Regan, an innovative and award-winning television executive, has been appointed vice president and general manager of WEWS, the ABC affiliate in Cleveland and the first television station launched by The E. W. Scripps Company.

Regan, 49, joins the legendary station – known for pioneering a morning news and talk format that was the model for Good Morning America – on May 19. She will lead an organization that routinely is one of the top-ranked broadcasters in the nation’s 17th-largest media market.

“Viki is a distinguished and acclaimed broadcast executive who shares the Scripps belief that success in local television is the result of passionate focus on improving communities,” said Bill Peterson, senior vice president of the Scripps Television Station Group. “Her career is notable for the ‘viewer-centric’ news and programming she pursues, and I’m confident that the television audience in northeast Ohio will quickly feel the effect of Viki’s unwavering dedication to uniquely local content.”

Named by Broadcasting and Cable magazine as “one of the 10 women leaders to watch in the broadcasting industry,” Regan has been the vice president and general manager of WPBF, the ABC affiliate in West Palm Beach, Fla., since 1997.

During her tenure at WPBF, the station has received the Service to Children Radio and Television Award from the National Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation in 2002, as well as the foundation’s Service to America Television Award in 2006. The latter award is presented to only one station in the country for its total commitment to community service. (WXYZ, the Scripps station in Detroit, won that prestigious award in 2005.)

From 1996 to 1997, Regan was the president and general manager of WDTN, formerly the ABC affiliate in Dayton. She served the previous two years as vice president and general manager of WBNG, the CBS affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., as well as the vice president of programming for WBNG’s former corporate parent, Gateway Communications.

From 1981 through 1994 she held various programming, production, sales/marketing and station operation roles at WTAE (ABC), KDKA (CBS) and WQED (PBS) in Pittsburgh.

Regan currently serves on the board of directors for the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Community Leaders Advisory Panel, Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, and Home Safe, a Florida-based program for foster children. She also is a founding board member and former president of Quantum House, a home for families whose children are being treated for serious medical conditions.

In the past she has served as a board member of United Way (in three states), The Salvation Army, Athena International and the AIDS Foundation, and as a National Trustee of Ronald McDonald’s Children’s Charities. She also has held leadership positions with the American Red Cross, The Pittsburgh Symphony, Wright State University, United Mental Health, the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce and the Palm Beach County Business Development Board.

The native of Red Bank, N.J., received her bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She and her husband, Tim, have three children.

WVIZ/WKYC DTV Update

OMW reported earlier that Cleveland PBS affiliate WVIZ/25 has a construction permit to co-locate its full-power post-transition digital TV facility with Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3.

Fellow blogger Frank Macek, WKYC senior director and proprietor of the “Director’s Cut” blog over at WKYC.com, picked up on the story and expanded it in a recent item.

As it turns out, WVIZ-DT’s full-power antenna will not reside atop the current WKYC tower.

WKYC and WVIZ will build a new tower at the station’s Parma site to hold both stations’ digital antennas, in time for the digital transition on February 17, 2009. The current tower holding WKYC’s analog and pre-transition digital antennas will be razed, according to WKYC engineering director Mike Szabo in the “Director’s Cut” item.

Rarely does one engineering move solve so many problems, as both stations are currently the bane of digital OTA viewers in Northeast Ohio.

WKYC’s low-band digital home of channel 2 is so bad, so prone to interference, that very few people without large, well-placed outdoor antennas – or close to Parma – can pick it up.

WVIZ’s inability to get a permanent digital antenna site means it needs to use an antenna just 30 meters off the ground, pumping a whole 1,000 (that’s ONE THOUSAND) watts out on DT 26 to the greater Parma area and parts of North Royalton and Garfield Heights.

(OK, so it’s not that bad – but the station’s temporary facility’s main signal contour barely covers Cuyahoga County, and that’s being charitable.)

The shiny new tower at WKYC’s Parma site will solve both problems, and will likely cede the “bad digital facility” title in the Cleveland market to Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19.

WOIO plans to stay right where it is at the digital transition – with its current digital facility on RF channel 10.

(Like WKYC, WVIZ and all the other stations, digital PSIP information means WOIO will continue to resolve on receivers at its current analog channel number, 19….WVIZ at 25, WKYC at 3, etc…)

WOIO will stay on 10, but unfortunately, so will the powerful analog signal across Lake Erie on that very same channel, CFPL/10 in London, Ontario, Canada. Unlike the U.S., Canada doesn’t have a digital transition plan…and CFPL doesn’t even have a digital companion signal.

That means the folks at Reserve Square will be getting complaints, especially from those along the Lake Erie shoreline, as long as the Canadian 10 doesn’t move…

A Quick Group Of Items

Just some stuff that’s been floating around the OMW Inbox, mostly outside of our immediate Northeast Ohio focus. OK, there is one Cleveland item, which we’ve saved for last…

WSYX HD NEWS: As hinted and expected, Sinclair has flipped the HD News Switch at its Columbus stations, WSYX/6 (ABC) and WTTE/28 (FOX).

The move makes the company’s news operation the last Columbus market TV newsroom to go the HDTV route.

We haven’t figured out yet, despite input from our readers in the market, how far Sinclair is going as far as HD news is concerned. They’re at very least passing 16×9 SD from the field, from what we’ve heard, and Sinclair has invested in HD weather graphics for WSYX/WTTE and all of its stations making the conversion…

TOLEDO FORMAT CHANGE: You can move Cornerstone Church religious/CCM outlet WDMN/1520 in the Toledo market into the list of stations running a talk format there. Or, mainly.

OMW hears that the station, which has been known as “Dominion 1520 Jamz”, has added a variety of syndicated talkers not otherwise being cleared in the Toledo market – including Take On The Day advice queen Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Cox/Jones consumer crusader Clark Howard, and the new afternoon drive show hosted by CNN’s Lou Dobbs.

There may also be some music programming, but we don’t have details on that.

1520 is no stranger to secular programming. It picked up the Toledo rights to the Cleveland Browns radio broadcasts when those rights fell through a hole in the market, and has also joined the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets radio network.

And WDMN’s low-power TV sister station (WMNT-CA 48, via Matrix Broadcasting) is a mainly secular MyNetworkTV affiliate.

Cornerstone also still owns, as far as we know, western Toledo market rimshot WNKL/96.9 Wauseon, which runs the satellite-fed “K-Love” CCM format from Sacramento-based Educational Media Foundation.

Could the talk programming being added to WDMN prompt a station just down the AM band to make some adjustments, with not much room left in the “alternative to WSPD/1370 category”? We’ll see…

WAVE OF THE FINGER: We’re told it’s the talk of the message boards…but really, when the subject is WOIO/19 “19 Action News” anchor Sharon Reed, when isn’t it?

So, we thank Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Michael K. McIntyre and his “Tipoff” column Saturday for getting to the bottom of this.

As it turns out, a promoted “Sharon Reed Exclusive” interview with Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. wasn’t either – a Sharon Reed interview or an exclusive to “19 Action News”. Quoting Mr. McIntyre:

…the long interview piece featured Winslow crying as he talked of his deceased brother, his injury and his relationship with his parents. Reed’s narration, which came off as intimate and familiar, was interspersed with Winslow’s words.

There was never a shot of Reed actually interviewing Winslow. There’s a good reason for that: She didn’t do the interview.

Nope, she didn’t, says McIntyre…she simply, well, acted like she did, using old network interview footage. WOIO, as the CBS affiliate in the market, has apparently had that video since sometime in the last NFL season, and conveniently pulled it out from the archives for May sweeps. Imagine that!

Maybe Sharon should have pulled out her Personal Cell Phone(tm) to make it more believable. We’ll guess that “K2” is likely to have that number. Ms. Reed all but wrote it on his hand and whispered “call me” when she interviewed him a couple of years ago…back when her station had the Browns pre-season rights.

For his part, “Action News”‘ newsroom boss is unapologetic to the PD’s McIntyre, recognizing that competitors weren’t exactly happy campers:

“That’s when I know I’m in my sweet spot,” said Channel 19 News Director Dan Salamone, who said there’s no “gotcha” here. “We never once suggested Sharon Reed sat down and did the interview. We just said she had an exclusive story,” he said.

Uh, OK, Dan.

We haven’t seen the piece, but if “she had an exclusive story”, why would she “act” like she was the one doing the interview? Why would you not give credit to (presumably) your own network or whoever interviewed him? Why was Ms. Reed involved at all, other than as an anchor tossing to a network piece?

You know, we spend much less time tweaking Reserve Square than we did when this blog started nearly 3 years ago.

But sometimes, the station basically dares its critics to weigh in. Here, they’ve darn near painted a bright red and white target for us…