End Of A Busy Week

Just some items we didn’t want to leave around for the weekend…

CINCINNATI SHUFFLE: In mid-October, long time Friend of OMW Scott Fybush stumbled onto something in his role as editor of the radio industry directory web site 100000watts.com.

Scott told us that he saw a filing for a call letter swap in Cincinnati…with the WSWD call letters moving from 94.9 FM to 97.3 FM, and the WYGY call letters moving to replace them at 94.9.

We didn’t think much of it, as there was no other information to support it, and the change requests were pulled shortly thereafter.

As it turns out, there was a good reason that showed up in the FCC database (if a bit early)…as the two Bonneville Cincinnati market stations have now indeed swapped places.

AllAccess confirms what OMW readers in the Cincinnati market told us today…alt rock WSWD is now “97.3 The Sound”, and country WYGY is now “94.9 The Wolf”.

We don’t follow Cincinnati signals much from our perch up here in Northeast Ohio, but a quick look at Radio-Locator’s “for entertainment only” signal maps show that even 97.3’s Class C3 upgraded signal is not as good as 94.9’s more central, higher-antenna Class B signal. 97.3 has another signal disadvantage – it’s licensed to Fort Thomas in Northern Kentucky.

Confirming our thoughts, AllAccess notes that the move appears to have been made to give the “Wolf” flanker country format a better signal:

The move is designed to expand BONNEVILLE’s very successful Country music footprint in GREATER CINCINNATI. BONNEVILLE’s WUBE (B105) is the market’s top ranked and top billing FM station.

Thanks to the AllAccess folks for that – we’d forgotten that country giant WUBE had ended up with Bonneville. Considering all the owner/frequency/format swaps in Cincinnati in the past couple of years, our confusion should be forgiven.

AllAccess reminds us that the old alt-rock WAQZ once lived on the 97.3 signal, though we’re pretty sure the music mix is a little different for “The Sound” now on that same frequency.

And Bonneville Cincinnati market chief Jim Bryant rolls off to AllAccess a line we’ve heard before:

“We also feel quite confident that ‘THE SOUND’S’ passionate and loyal listeners will soon find us on our new dial position.”

That reminds us of the swaps Radio One made among its two Cleveland AM stations a ways back, moving urban talk/brokered WERE from 1300 AM to 1490 AM, with the move of gospel WJMO to the stronger 1300 AM signal clearly the driving force.

Local Radio One management in Cleveland expressed confidence that WERE’s talk listeners would find their way to the new, lesser signal…but not long after, Radio One moved in-house syndicated talker Al Sharpton back to 1300 amidst the gospel format.

But “The Sound” loses not only a more powerful signal. It appears to us that the station’s entire weekday air staff is out of work. The exit list, according to AllAccess: morning man and creative services director “Clayton”, midday host “Jimmy”, afternoon driver/web editor Lisa Biello and night host “Kevin”…

REFUGE: A local broadcaster says she hopes to “offer a place of refuge until the next big gig (if there really are any out there) comes up.”

Lisa Dillon is now program director of Paul Belfi’s Cleveland-based Internet outlet SportsTalkNetwork.com, and hosts a 1-3 PM show entertainment news show there called “The LEWD Show”. She’s also linked with two other Internet outlets, MirusMusic.com and M2LiveRadio.com.

Dillon tells OMW:

All 3 stations are looking to provide air time for anyone who might want to keep their chops up while, hopefully, making a few extra bucks. We’ve got plenty of room!

It’s really free-form radio at it’s best. All you need is a good idea for a show theme.

The former WMMS/100.7 air talent says she sympathizes with those who find themselves on the radio beach, a number seemingly growing by the day:

Hey, I’ve been there. Getting canned sucks, especially when it’s not your fault! Even if they are just looking for a place to produce an aircheck, whatever…I’ll even let them vent as a guest on my show if they wish! I am willing to help anyway I can.

Reach out to Lisa via E-Mail at LisaD@SportstalkCleveland.com

WSTB REDUX: OMW reported earlier in the week that slow, deliberate work has begun with the eventual goal of returning Streetsboro schools-owned WSTB/88.9 back to the airwaves in that Portage County city.

When we first wrote this, we hadn’t seen an article on the situation in the Akron Beacon Journal on Friday, which quotes Streetsboro school superintendent Linda Keller on Wednesday:

”We are currently working with the radio station personnel to restore the station’s broadcast capabilities. With everyone’s assistance, we should be back on the air by this weekend.”

And station general manager Bob Long:

(Long) is now waiting for the school district to do the technical work to get the station back on the air.

”It is out of my hands,” said the 59-year-old Long, who has been a teacher for 28 years. ”I am waiting for the district people to get everything working.”

As we write this late Friday night, getting WSTB back on the air “by this weekend” seems somewhat unlikely.

And one op-ed piece running in the Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier newspaper this week even invoked your own Mighty Blog of Fun(tm). Former WSTB student program director Matt Fredmonsky wrote:

I won’t attempt to explain why Northeastern Ohio’s only high-powered, student-run radio station has been shut down. Simple searches online of the Record-Courier at recordpub.com and other area media throughout Northeastern Ohio, including Rock889.com, WJW Fox 8, The Plain Dealer, the Akron Beacon Journal, Daily Kent Stater, MySpace and the blog, OhioMediaWatch.com, will reveal the facts, and the enormity, of this act.

Fredmonsky continues:

If (WSTB general manager Bob) Long and the station’s volunteer engineer, Dan Kuznicki, who is at the heart of this fall’s un-plugging, lose their culture of influencing success at the station, then its days of peerless freedom of expression may be in jeopardy.

These two men have dedicated countless hours to the student operators and listeners of this station. Unprecedented progress has been made at WSTB under their guidance. Without them, the station may never function as it once did.

While Long has indeed remained as general manager after the Streetsboro school board refused his submitted resignation, it does appear that Kuznicki is still outside the station…and is not currently involved in the effort by school district IT personnel to return WSTB’s computer systems to their prior state.

So, for the moment, we wait…and it would appear the proof in the proverbial pudding will be whenever 88.9 manages to stop the scan on Northeast Ohio radios again.

But the station is just a few days from an important deadline. From the FCC’s web site page on silent radio stations:

Notifications and Requests for Special Temporary Authority (STA). Stations that go silent should notify (FCC staffer) Ms. (Denise) Williams by letter within 10 days of ceasing operation. The letter should include a brief explanation of the reason for ceasing operation and an expected date (if possible) for the station’s return to licensed operation. Short periods of discontinued operation (less than 10 days) need not be notified. Tower obstruction lighting must be maintained without interruption during all periods of silence to protect general aviation.

If the station’s silent period is expected to last beyond 30 days, Special Temporary Authority is necessary (see 47 CFR 73.1635). Station licensees must submit the STA request (in triplicate) through the Office of the Secretary, FCC, and clearly explain in a cover letter that the request is for silent station authority and is therefore exempt from application filing fees. After review, the staff may grant Special Temporary Authority for a period not exceeding 180 days, but extensions may be approved upon the submission of a new STA request.

So by our reading, right now, WSTB is not in trouble for not filing a notification of its silence – but will be, if they don’t do so by roughly November 14th.

The station went off the air on October 13th. As far as we know, the district hasn’t filed an STA, and it doesn’t show up in the online FCC database for WSTB. We don’t know if a letter, as prescribed in the above, would show up online.

If the station does indeed return in the next few days, this won’t be a concern.

As a practical matter, the FCC is usually pretty willing to work with stations which are silent, and are making a reasonable effort to return to the air.

We would not expect the FCC to revoke an educational license to a school district station over something like this, assuming WSTB doesn’t return before November 14th.

If Streetsboro school district officials are even remotely cooperative with the FCC, we’ll expect cooperation in return, and leniency in the paperwork surrounding the station’s current status.

But…the ducks still should be put into a row…and a school district not following federal licensing guidelines doesn’t look good, in general…

COLUMBUS NEWSWOMAN DIES: Columbus’ TV community is mourning the death of a local newswoman struck down in the prime of her life by cancer.

Dispatch CBS affiliate WBNS/10 “10TV” reports the death of the station’s Heather Pick at the age of 38:

Heather died after a brave and public battle with breast cancer. Heather left us in her home surrounded by her family earlier today.

Heather learned in 2004 that the disease she had beaten once in 1999 had returned. Through The James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University Medical Center, Heather participated in many breakthrough new treatments.

The WBNS item notes that Pick used her high profile to fuel public awareness in Central Ohio in the battle against breast cancer:

Heather was an unwavering champion for breast cancer awareness and education. In her last public appearance, Heather hosted the “Spirit Celebration with Heather Pick,” raising almost $500,000 for the Columbus Cancer Clinic. To the end, Heather worked to fight the disease so others wouldn’t have to endure what she went through. Her last appearance on 10TV News HD was to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

WBNS reports that Heather is survived by her husband, Joe Cygan, and their children, Julia and Jack.

Donations can be made in her memory to The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Nationwide Children’s Hospital or the Stefanie Spielman Fund…

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