A Sports Theme

It’s been pretty quiet in local media circles this week, after a busy week last week.

But as it turns out, we have a newsy update to close out the first week of September…with all the items having a least some connection to the world of sports, even if the first host doesn’t consider himself strictly a sports talk show host these days…

HE’S BAAACK: We haven’t fished through the podcasts to figure out what day he returned, but Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno is indeed back on the air this week.

OMW reported that Triv was sidelined last month after undergoing prostate cancer-related surgery and radiation therapy.

He’s only been back a while, but we heard Triv earlier this week in usual form – throwing barbs across the WTAM schedule at evening “Sportsline” and Cleveland Indians “Extra Innings” post-game host Kevin Keane (one example: “I listen to Greg Brinda on WKNR”), and jousting with callers.

Along with the “Triv Show Without Triv” crew (producers Paul Rado and Marty Allen, and new female sidekick “Chrissy”), a variety of substitute hosts filled in for Triv, including former WMMS/100.7 and 3WE host Ed “Flash” Ferenc (of “Jeff and Flash” fame), and WOIO/19-WUAB/43 weekend sports anchor Chuck Galeti – for our money, the most compatible Triv sub out there.

There were online rumors that former WTAM weekender Rick Gilmour was set to sub on Labor Day, but Galeti was heard instead.

By the way, somewhere along the way, we missed the switch at the “19 Action News” sports department, where weekender Tony Zarella moved to weeknights, and Galeti moved to weekends…

A WIDER VIEW: OMW hears that the FOX TV network has started airing all of its scripted (non-reality, non-news) series in letterbox format for those still watching the network’s analog feed.

The move, which started earlier this week, will mean the consistent use of the 16:9 aspect ratio on dramas and sitcoms on FOX…and comes just over five months before analog full-power broadcasting goes away entirely.

OMW hears that the view as far as the employment future at local FOX affiliate and former O&O WJW/8 “FOX 8” may not be as sharp as the HDTV picture on WJW-DT.

Though the immediate layoff fears at South Marginal Road have subsided – for now – we’re told that local employees aren’t exactly getting a lot of information out of new WJW owner Local TV… and that many are wondering about the status of soon-to-expire contracts among some of the station’s on-air personalities.

As of yet, we don’t know who those personalities are, but it’ll be interesting to see how Local TV – and by extension, Tribune Broadcasting, which oversees Local TV’s news operations under joint news chief Steve Charlier – will handle higher-priced on-air contracts when they come up for renewal…

CLEARER FOOTBALL: The televised picture for Your Cleveland Browns (sorry, Steelers fans) will be a lot clearer this year.

CBS, the TV network which carries the majority of the Browns’ regular season games (via WOIO/19 in Cleveland), weighs in on its CBSSportsline.com about its NFL coverage in HDTV this year:

Throughout the 2008 season, The NFL on CBS will broadcast virtually all of its games each week in HDTV, the highest definition television format — 1080i lines of picture resolution — along with 5.1 digital audio.

We don’t know what “virtually all” means…perhaps there’ll be an SD straggler or two for the network over the course of the season.

But with last year’s success, the Browns will likely not see a single non-HDTV game in 2008.

Five of the local team’s games will air nationally, on ESPN and the NFL Network, in HD. (We’re told the NFL Network Browns contest will air locally on Raycom MyNetwork TV outlet WUAB/43, by the way, and we presume WUAB will carry that network’s HDTV feed.)

And the Browns’ opener at Cleveland Browns Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys is just about a national game – a 4:15 PM start on FOX (WJW/8 locally) that according to this online coverage map will be seen in the bulk of the nation, in HD format. (The Browns/Cowboys game is the red color on that map.)

The Browns land on FOX Sunday because the NFL conference rights go with the visiting team. FOX airs games where the NFC team is the away team, and CBS airs games where the AFC team is the away team.

The game’s presence on FOX means that Youngstown market viewers won’t see the game in HD over the air via the market’s FOX affiliate, WYFX-LP 62/WFXI-CA 17 “FOX 17/62”, since it’s an analog LPTV station.

That is, unless WYFX parent CBS affiliate WKBN/27 turns on occasional digital subchannel 27.3 to carry the FOX game in HD. They did that earlier this year for the Super Bowl, and for the Daytona 500. Without 27.3, the game will air on WKBN-DT 27.2 – the usual WYFX simulcast – in SD format.

Of course, WYFX has an HD cable feed, and many Youngstown market viewers can pick up either WJW/8 or WPGH/53 Pittsburgh over the air or on cable…

SPEAKING OF FOOTBALL: And the Kahuna.

The “Big Sports Kahuna” that is, as FSN Ohio and former WKNR/850 Cleveland personality Kendall Lewis has landed a radio gig…as a college football play-by-play man.

The Akron Beacon Journal’s George M. Thomas reports in his “Airing It Out” column that “The BSK” will do radio play-by-play work for the tiny Lake Erie College “Storm” football team.

George helpfully notes, for those of us who weren’t aware, that Lake Erie College is “a small, private college in Painesville”. We knew it was up there, somewhere.

A little Google searching led us to this announcement of Lewis’ new role on the Lake Erie College football team’s website, with more details:

Lewis will provide the play-by-play for a minimum of eight football games to be broadcast on WELW 1330 AM and welw.com this season beginning with the team’s third game at Saint Joseph’s (Ind.) on Sept. 20 at 1 p.m. The games will air on a one-hour delay due to previously scheduled programming on the station.

A quick check of the Willoughby station’s schedule shows station co-owner and polka radio icon Tony Petkovsek’s “Slovenian Hour” in the 1 PM Saturday time slot.

We probably haven’t heard of the Lake Erie College football team, since this is actually its opening season…

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