October 30, 2008
OMW will return at "full strength" on Monday, November 3, 2008.
See you then!
News and musings about radio and TV in Northeast Ohio and beyond.
October 30, 2008
OMW will return at "full strength" on Monday, November 3, 2008.
See you then!
October 24, 2008
A brief update from last night’s Streetsboro City School board meeting: the board rejected long-time WSTB/88.9 general manager Bob Long’s resignation request, over the various issues that have been chronicled extensively here and elsewhere.
We don’t really have time to go into much detail, but the website of Streetsboro’s Gateway News newspaper has more here.
The WSTB website, being maintained by station staff and students, weighs in briefly as well. Quoting:
The off-air situation may have taken a swing in the right direction last evening.
The site promises a larger update later…like for us, real life gets in the way of spending much time on this…
October 22, 2008
As we mentioned in an earlier item, you might not see as much of us here through the end of the month, as Life Intervenes.
We did want to put up the latest about Streetsboro schools-owned WSTB/88.9, the beleaguered Portage County station that’s been off the air after certain photos were found on station computers a week ago Monday.
The story is not going away any time soon.
Those associated with the station are holding an informal meeting/gathering tonight at the Streetsboro location of CiCi’s Pizza. Details, including an offer for free drinks (umm, of the soft drink variety, of course, something that needs to be mentioned considering this situation), are up on the WSTB website, as well as at the Sunday Oldies Jukebox site.
Also up there is a plea to WSTB supporters to attend a school board meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at Defer Intermediate School. The WSTB group is urging a peaceful show of support, and the wearing of station related items if possible.
Apparently, among the “personnel matters” set to be discussed at the meeting will be the board’s acceptance of the now-officially-submitted resignation of long-time station manager Bob Long – who will remain as a member of the teaching staff even with a resignation of his station manager post.
Those updating the WSTB site have included this in bold print:
“A WSTB – 88.9FM without BOB LONG is NOT acceptable, and we ask that you demand the same.”
Meanwhile, at least a couple of the most recent newspaper updates include some indication by school administrators that they plan to return WSTB to the airwaves, though no target date has been announced.
A Cleveland Plain Dealer item today quotes superintendent Linda Keller, who tells the PD the controversial photos are “no longer being investigated”:
Keller said the radio channel will be back on the air after the school puts the station’s computer system back together and integrates it into the school’s computer system.
“We’re proud of our radio station, which has been on the air for more than 30 years,” she said.
And from the latest Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier article:
“We are moving ahead to get the station up and running,” Keller said in her statement Tuesday. “Along with the high school principal, this morning I met with our students who are connected with the radio station. I am very impressed with their commitment to the station, their studies and to Streetsboro High School. These are exceptional students.”
One person who isn’t meeting with school officials – since he’s apparently still banned from the building – is WSTB information technology director Dan Kuznicki.
The 24 year-old Kuznicki is pictured in the controversial photos that involve apparent drinking at an out-of-town New Year’s Eve party in the presence of an 18 year-old former student, a student Kuznicki and others associated with the station say was not drinking – and couldn’t, because he was taking medications after an accident – and say had his parents’ permission to be there.
Though Ms. Keller is indeed now saying the station will return soon, it’s an open question when, and in what form.
The quickest way to do so would be to return both Mr. Long and Mr. Kuznicki to their former posts. That obviously is not happening, given Long’s resignation and the fact Kuznicki is banned from the facilities, at least for now. Both men have the “institutional knowledge” that would be needed to return the station to its prior state, even with potential obstacles regarding the computer setup.
It would seem possible that the station could resume limited hours using CDs instead of computer automation, but as of yet, there is no publicized specific plan to do so. (One assumes that the district would have to name an interim general manager first, assuming Long’s resignation is accepted Thursday.)
There’s also no word if the adult volunteers of “Sunday Oldies Jukebox” would be quickly welcomed back into the building.
And the clock continues to tick, as at least in the FCC’s online database, we can’t find any required notification to the FCC that the station is silent.
Much could happen between now and Friday, or things may not happen. We’ll try to get word of any major developments up here, and if not, we’re sure the various sites and news sources we link here will be updated…
October 21, 2008
As we suspected would happen one day, Northeast Ohio’s first HD Radio simulcast of an AM talk station is now up.
Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron can now be heard on the HD2 channel of sister* rock WRQK/106.9 Canton.
The move was made possible by the HD Radio Alliance’s recent decision to allow commercial radio formats on HD2 side channels. The group, which counts Clear Channel as a member, had previously agreed not to run commercial feeds on those side channels.
The policy change by the group is one reason stations are able to create those new FM translator-based feeds of HD2 subchannels, like Ithaca NY CHR outlet “Hits 103.3” or Harrisburg PA urban AC “The Touch 95.3”.
Both translators at those frequencies are simulcasting the FM HD2 feed of full-power commercial stations in the market. (The Harrisburg station started life as one of those temporarily-authorized FM translator refeeds of the market’s AM 1400, the original home of the urban AC format, but owner Cumulus flipped that station to sports.)
The Akron/Canton markets are not compact enough – even separately – for an FM translator to have much impact, in case an operator here tried to do the same.
WHLO’s simulcast on WRQK HD2 is not the first such in Ohio. We’re reminded that Clear Channel sister talker WTVN/610 is also heard on an HD Radio side channel of AC WLZT/93.3.
* – We reported earlier that technically, WRQK is still owned by Cumulus, with the big two-state swap announced between the two companies not yet having been completed. But Clear Channel has been operating WRQK in an LMA since 2007…
October 20, 2008
UPDATE 10/21/08 2:26 PM: An update, and much more, from those on the WSTB side of this has been published on the WSTB website. There’s also more in this editorial on the “Sunday Oldies Jukebox” site…including copies of two of the pictures in question.
So far, there’s no published word from school officials that the station is nearing any return soon, in the wake of changes to the situation today detailed in our update immediately below.
As we’re going to have to take more time away from the Mighty Blog here in the next couple of weeks, feel free to check the links we’ve provided. We’ll weigh in if there’s any significant news regarding the station’s return, or any other disposition of the situation…
UPDATE 10/21/08 9:58 AM: The WSTB roller coaster ride continues.
OMW hears that long-time WSTB general manager Bob Long’s resignation is back on the table again. We’ve obtained a copy of a statement he’s released, which is reprinted here:
STATEMENT REGARDING MY RESIGNATION
On Monday, October 20, 2008 I submitted my resignation as Station Manager of WSTB-FM.
While progress toward resolving prior issues was occurring at one level, on Monday morning the radio station entrance door lock was changed without my knowledge and without explanation. It is my assumption that this was done to limit staff access outside of the school day in compliance with Jarod’s Law. While it is the school district’s decision on interpretation of Jarod’s Law, it is not possible for me to operate the radio station with such restrictions of access.
I urge the district to find another Station Manager as soon as possible so that WSTB can return to the air quickly.
October 21, 2008
Our original item, where it seemed progress was being made towards returning WSTB to the airwaves as soon as late this week, is below…
Off-air Streetsboro schools radio station WSTB/88.9 may be returning as soon as “late this week”.
That’s the word in a brief item posted today to the web site of the “Gateway News”, a weekly Record Publishing newspaper which serves the Portage County city. Quoting:
(WSTB general manager Bob) Long said he was prepared to resign Monday morning, but he had some conversations Sunday night and he feels “pretty confident that we’re coming to some consensus.” He did not say who the conversations were with.
The slightly more positive tone is also being sounded by those posting messages to WSTB’s regular website…where those writing said they had planned to make other pictures available to those asking to see all the pictures that were considered in the case, but, quoting:
Copies of ALL of the questioned photos exist, and although we had a plan to release them today we feel that with the potential for progress this week the release is unneccesary.
An article in weekend editions of the “Gateway News” sister paper, the Kent-Ravenna Record Courier, cites some items that may still need to be squared away before WSTB returns to the air, quoting school superintendent Linda Keller:
“The station has been operating (a separate computer network) under a separate server from the school district and that has raised some questions.”
And further from the article:
Keller said the district is working to ensure the computers meet “specific network connectivity requirements” of the state’s E-Tech program.
(This) week, Keller said the station’s computers will be connected to the district via fiber optic lines, providing enhanced security and accountability.
Meanwhile, we do have a button set on the OMW Mobile’s Newly Repaired Car Radio for 88.9, and we’ll keep listening as the week progresses…
October 20, 2008
No, not in the Cleveland market, but more on CBS Radio and Cleveland in a bit.
We have a regular feature here we haven’t brought up in a while – the FM Talk Watch.
We should call it the “FM News/Talk Watch”, as we’ve never really used it to track the so-called “hot talk” stations that have dwindled to a very few these days. We’re talking about the move of traditional AM news/talk/sports formats to the FM dial…as either simulcasts or moves.
And CBS Radio has just uncorked a big one out in California.
AllAccess reports that classic hits KFRC/106.9 San Francisco is about to be supplanted…by an FM simulcast of CBS Radio’s venerable all-news outlet, KCBS/740.
The move set for next Monday bumps off the music format reestablished by the company – the reinvention of the long-time oldies outlet at 99.7 FM (and 610 AM) after CBS killed off the “Free FM” talk format on the new 106.9 frequency.
(To tie it altogether, a few years ago CBS swapped 610 to religious operator Family Radio – which owns WCUE/1150 Cuyahoga Falls in the Akron market – and paid a boatload of cash to take over Family Radio’s long-time full market FM home at 106.9. The Family Radio satellite feed you hear on WCUE is now based at 610 AM in San Francisco, though nominally so for FCC purposes from a nearby FM in Sacramento.)
It’s a drumbeat we’ve hit upon here, frequently. Eventually, big AM news/talk/sports stations are going to have to find some home on FM, be it a simulcast, a full-blown move, or even an HD2 or HD3 simulcast.
The latter is a pittance right now, and who knows where it goes in the future, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Clear Channel land its big AM talkers on an FM HD2/3 channel at some point – CBS has already done so in most of its large markets.
Anyway, as silly as it seems to look at Cleveland market AM powerhouse/blowtorch WTAM/1100 and wonder when it’s going to add an FM simulcast…how long can AM hold in there, when younger listeners barely can find the *FM* dial, let alone AM? That’ll become a big problem when those listeners start populating the older news/talk-friendly demos.
There’s also the other problem – right now, Clear Channel really doesn’t have a horribly failing FM station upon which to plant something like a WTAM simulcast, so it doesn’t happen.
For now, most news/talkers are addressing those demo headaches by tripping all-over themselves to grow their Internet presence – from streaming audio to podcasts to extensive news and information sites. Pretty much all news/talkers these days even frequently use their web site branding on the air.
(One of these days, Akron market talker WNIR/100.1 will catch up with the late 20th Century, and unveil their rumored new website. We may actually fall over dead waiting in front of the keyboard before that becomes reality. Of course, in the “FM News/Talk Watch”, “The Talk of Akron” has everyone beat by nearly 35 years if you count the 1974 debut of midday host Howie Chizek on 100.1.)
We’re not sure if CBS in San Francisco sees the “future is now” with the move to simulcast its all-news station on FM, or if the classic hits format just wasn’t catching on, and they had no other options.
Oh, speaking of Cleveland and CBS – yes, we did see DCRTV’s item quoting sources talking about a stall in the sale of the company’s mid-market clusters, believed to include markets like Baltimore and Cleveland.
Quoting Dave Hughes’ site:
Slumping Market Stalls CBS Radio Sale – 10/13 – Reliable industry sources tell DCRTV that the sale of those CBS radio stations in Baltimore and other mid-sized and small markets won’t happen. At least until maybe late 2009 – at the earliest. Because of the current stock crisis, and the severe tightening of the credit market, radio companies that have been and are still solid – a la Bonneville, Emmis, Entercom, and Greater Media – can’t secure the backing of big lending institutions for a purchase. That’s not to say there won’t be some more cuts at CBS Baltimore, but folks still working at WHFS, WWMX, WLIF, WQSR, and WJFK-AM will still be working for CBS for a good while longer, we hear…..
While we have no information beyond Dave’s item, it would certainly make sense…as the massive economic crisis is likely to affect EVERYTHING business-related, certainly the ability to raise large amounts of banking capital to buy expensive radio stations.
Unless they have raised large warchests, like FOX owner NewsCorp’s Rupert Murdoch says his firm has, even the most stable companies may have to wait out the credit crunch.
(And no, we haven’t heard anything about FOX/NewsCorp buying radio stations, though they do have a pretty extensive radio/news network operation these days…)