Stopping By For A Visit

Our infrequent update schedule had one formerly regular reader assuming that we’re gone for good!

No, we’re not.

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) has been out of town and busy, for one, and we’re about to leave Northeast Ohio for a while again.

In the past, that’s triggered something in the space-time-media continuum, but we’re not sure our exit from the region still results in major changes. One of our vacations a couple of years ago ended up with even Cleveland Browns GM Phil Savage scrambling for his job!

Heh. (Tongue in cheek, folks, we don’t really BELIEVE we have that kind of effect…it’s kind of a running joke.)

One of the biggest reasons we haven’t been here is simple…there’s just not that much going on during the lazy days of early summer. If we’ve missed anything, particularly in our core focus area of Northeast Ohio, let us know.

Until then, some random items that ARE going on…

WESTERN RESERVE BOUND: As first hinted in an article by Akron Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels, Kent-based public TV outlet WNEO/45-WEAO/49 will launch a new brand.

The stations will indeed adopt the overall name Western Reserve Public Media, with the TV stations taking the on-air name Western Reserve PBS.

A release sent to OMW by what’s now known as “PBS 45 & 49” says the new names kick in this fall, after the local pubcaster joins public radio outlet WKSU/89.7 in divying up new space in the United Building in downtown Akron – which happens July 1st.

The space, of course, is that no longer needed by current primary tenant WKYC/3 after the end of its “Akron/Canton News” broadcast on Time Warner Cable. WKYC will continue to maintain its Akron/Canton bureau there, but with space only needed for two – bureau chief and long-time “ACN” anchor Eric Mansfield, and what’s sounding like just one photographer.

And with the new name Western Reserve Public Media, WNEO/WEAO will call their new United Building space the “Western Reserve Broadcast Hub”.

The name change is actually rather interesting on other levels.

It’s one broadcast outlet’s answer to a question just about all TV stations face in the new age. Back in the day, a TV station’s channel number was be-all-and-end-all in branding.

Even stations with strong call letter or other identification have long prominently featured their channel number, both overall and in newscast identification. “Channel 3 News”. “NewsChannel 5”. “FOX 8 News”. “19 Action News”.

Starting on February 17, 2009, nearly all of these channel numbers become “virtual”, with only a few stations actually broadcasting on their former analog channels (WJW/8 among them) after the digital transition.

Though the PSIP program information stream still assures that WKYC will be “Channel 3” even if it broadcasts on digital channel 17 “under the hood”, this – and perhaps more importantly, the growing move of media organizations to the Internet – will likely nudge broadcast operations to reconsider some branding.

Back to PBS 45 & 49…er…Western Reserve PBS…er…Western Reserve Public Media.

Quoting the station press release:

Trina Cutter, president and CEO of PBS 45 & 49, said the new identity prepares the organization for advancements in broadcast technology. “The advent of digital television opens a new realm of possibilities for multiple broadcast channels,” Cutter said. “Western Reserve Public Media better reflects the breadth of public television services that we have already begun to provide to northeast Ohioans.”

Simply put, the numbers “45” and “49” mean less and less with digital TV, multiple subchannels therein, and the rapid growth of the Internet and other less traditional services.

And let’s not forget that Channels 45 and 49 have never, as far as we know, actually ever been on cable anywhere under those cable positions. To get to “PBS 45 & 49” on Time Warner Cable’s Cleveland system, a viewer has to find cable channel 9.

It’s similar to the “ideaStream” corporate name/branding for Cleveland’s WVIZ/25 and WCPN/90.3, though there’s no indication – for now – that WNEO/WEAO and WKSU will do anything more than share space and occasional programming collaboration (“Folk Alley”) at the United Building…

NO MORE ANALOG: While we’re talking about the digital TV transition, OMW hears that one Northern Ohio TV station has already turned off its analog signal.

Huh?

Yep, it’s the station most our readers can’t get anyway, Mid-State Television independent WMFD/68 Mansfield, on the edge of the Cleveland television market.

The station’s website notes that the analog channel 68 signal was turned off earlier this month, on June 16th. Only WMFD-DT/12, still dutifully PSIP-responding as “68.1”, remains.

The reason for the early termination? Mid-State successfully convinced the FCC that it needed the summer months to remove the analog 68 antenna, and replace it with the new DT 12 antenna. The digital side is currently served by an antenna that’s currently side-mounted on the tower.

Quoting from the station’s application for extension of time to complete its upgraded digital signal:

WMFD-DT CURRENTLY IS LICENSED TO OPERATE WITH A SIDE-MOUNTED DTV ANTENNA, AND THE WMFD-TV ANALOG ANTENNA IS TOP-MOUNTED ON THE TOWER.

A STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE TOWER HAS SHOWN THAT THE TOWER CANNOT SUPPORT THE ADDITION OF THE AUTHORIZED FINAL DTV ANTENNA TO THE STRUCTURE AS IT NOW STANDS, AND THAT THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE AUTHORIZED FACILITIES WILL REQUIRE BOTH REMOVAL OF EXISTING EQUIPMENT AND ADDITIONAL WORK ON THE TOWER ITSELF.

AFTER CONSIDERATION OF THE ENGINEERING STRESS STUDY, MID STATE HAS DEVELOPED A PLAN WHICH WILL ALLOW FOR ITS FINAL DTV FACILITIES TO BE CONSTRUCTED PRIOR TO THE DTV TRANSITION DATE.

Speaking of the aforementioned WNEO/45 Alliance, OMW already reported that the station expects to shut off analog 45 later this year, for similar reasons…with the final WNEO-DT also landing on 45 by the transition.

And like other local TV stations, WMFD cites Northern Ohio’s often fierce winter weather as a concern in construction timelines. (When the FCC came up with the digital transition date, did they not consult the National Weather Service?)

WMFD-now-only-DT is a part of the Gunther Meisse Mid-Ohio Broadcast Empire, along with ESPN Radio outlet WRGM/1440 Ontario, AC mainstay WVNO/106.1 “Mix 106.1” Mansfield, and sister LPTVer WOHZ-CA/50, which at last check ran weather information and assorted other programming…

ZAP!: OMW hears that the Clear Channel Columbus studio complex on West 5th Street got quite a jolt this week…a lighting jolt that took the stations off the air at shortly after midnight Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

The resulting damage? A laundry list of some of the nuts and bolts needed to run a modern radio operation, from audio board outlets, satellite receivers and cards, to STL equipment.

OMW hears that the company’s entire Columbus engineering staff spent all night Wednesday into early Thursday morning making fixes and swapping in spare or emergency equipment, bringing all the cluster’s stations back to the air by 2 AM, then fixing up the rest of the problems the rest of the late night/early morning hours.

It reminds us of the lightning jolt the company’s sister Akron/Canton cluster got some time ago, which forced one of those stations to run off of a small Mackie mixer board until the main board could be put back into service…

DENNIS’ MOVE: OMW hears directly from WCLV/104.9’s Robert Conrad on a new weekend program starting next month.

Well, it’s not “new”, per se.

“The Dennis Lewin Radio Program” has been heard most recently on Salem talk WHK/1420, and before that, on Radio One talk/brokered outlet WERE/then-1300.

It’s moving to classical WCLV starting on July 6th, though we don’t know if Mr. Lewin will (apparently) continue to pay for his airtime.

Mr. Conrad tells OMW about his new Sunday programming addition, and explains how it fits well with the station:

Dennis has had a colorful career as a contemporary and classical musician and teacher, but foremost among his passions is his successful radio program, “The Dennis Lewin Radio Program”.

During the show Dennis gives an in-depth view of the lives and times of the greatest composers, conductors and musicians of all time; including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Copland, Stravinsky, Gershwin and more.

A hallmark of the program is Dennis’ interaction with the listeners. Be prepared for trivia quizzes, musicial and non-musical, and, perhaps, even being “on-the-air,” a new wrinkle for WCLV.

Listener calls on WCLV? Wow.

Lewin will be heard Sundays from 1 to 3 PM on WCLV. And his website notes that his radio show also airs on another station outside Northeast Ohio, New Hampshire low-power “World Music” outlet WXGR-LP/101.5 Dover NH…

SHE’S BACK, IN CLEVELAND AT LEAST: And speaking of Lewin’s former outlet, it’s about to get one of its key weekday hosts back.

Talk Radio Network mid-morning host Laura Ingraham is apparently set to return to the network on Monday. Ingraham airs in Cleveland on WHK/1420.

We say “apparently” because word of her return came from her own website:

***BREAKING NEWS***
It’s official! Laura will return to the radio airwaves on Monday, June 30. Buckle your seatbelts!

The June 30th return date has been given by TRN in recent weeks, but this is the first indication from Ms. Ingraham’s side that she’d return on that date – after a nearly month-long apparent contract dispute.

We’re assuming the website is under her control. She’s used it in the past few weeks to notify her listeners that she wasn’t off the air by her own choice, and has even used it to implore listeners to contact TRN executives directly.

Though we’ll assume WHK will be along for the ride for her return Monday, the lengthy absence has cost Laura one of her other large market Ohio affiliates.

Clear Channel talk WKRC/550 Cincinnati has dumped Ingraham just three days before her return, and will replace her with the former occupant of that time slot, Premiere’s Glenn Beck.

Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio guru John Kiesewetter on the move:

(WKRC-AM PD Tony) Bender says he got tired of getting the run-around from her people, while fill-in Monica Crowley was on the air, so he’s putting on Beck. Ironically, Ingraham’s website says she’ll return to her radio show on Monday. Too late.

Beck was bounced from the 9-noon slot on WKRC so the station could pick up area native Tony Snow’s FOX Radio program. Ingraham ended up in the mid-morning slot on WKRC after Snow left FOX for the White House press secretary job.

While WKRC went elsewhere in the time slot, Beck landed in Cincinnati on Cumulus then-talk WFTK/96.5 “SuperTalk FM”, which has since gone rocking as “96 Rock”.

Both hosts have TV presences. Since his first go-round on WKRC, Beck launched a successful evening show on CNN Headline News. And Ingraham’s “Just In” started last week on FOX News Channel, though for now, it’s apparently an audition.

Our apologies if that URL doesn’t work for Kiesewetter’s blog post. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s recent revamp produces URLs that look like extreme messes for its blog posts, under the header “PluckPersona” (whatever the heck that is), with lots of random characters. If you can’t find it, go to cincinnati.com and click manually on “Blogs”.

We just love it when changes are made for the good of the new service provider, and not for the ease of the public. Add to that the fact that the Blogger editor sometimes chokes on URLs with ampersands in them (like the FCC application linked for WMFD above), and…well, it’s frustrating for us…

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