Heading For The Holidays

The coming week, local media outlets are winding down for the holiday season. You’ll see and hear a lot of fill-ins starting today, but it’s still early enough in December that some regulars will still be working at least part of this week.

We’re here, too. Due to the general flow of news, the next three weeks will likely see fewer updates, and we’ll probably try to put away the keyboard in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day…but we’ll try to keep in touch…

TIM WHITE EXITS: Today starts the “new era” at Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 and its “Channel 3 News”, as long-time evening co-anchor Tim White is out of the building.

Co-anchor Romona Robinson’s tenure as solo anchor actually started Friday night at 11. Tim recorded a farewell message, which played during that broadcast. (We’ll have a full transcript of it, later, in a larger item that will take an overall look at the situation facing local TV news in Cleveland and elsewhere.)

Though Romona will be “going it alone” at the news anchor position at 6 and 11, today is also the debut of WKYC’s new two-person 7 PM anchor team, with former Akron Bureau Chief Eric Mansfield teaming up with reporter Carole Sullivan.

You can get a preview of some of their on-camera chemistry on Eric’s blog. (OK, so maybe “on-Flip-camera chemistry”, since it was recorded for the Internet in the newsroom. But you get the idea.)

Eric and Carole are no strangers, having worked together not only at WKYC, but at the old WAKC/23, when the Akron-based station still had its own local newscast as an ABC affiliate.

Eric would, of course, later return to that station via Channel 3’s “Akron/Canton News”, which ran on then-PAX affiliate WVPX until moving to cable, then to the history books…

WKYC TOWER: While we’re electronically visiting 13th and Lakeside, we finally have an answer to this question – “when will WKYC’s new tower go up?”

The answer is, basically, “soon”.

Courtesy of WKYC “Director’s Cut” blogger Frank Macek and a recent update:

WKYC will likely start assembly of our new broadcast tower in Parma (this) week as we get set to make our digital switch to Digital Channel 17 on February 17, (2009). The brand new tower will support antennas for both WKYC and WVIZ right next to our current tower location.

Of course, all of it, like all such construction at this time of year, is “weather permitting”.

OMW believes that WVIZ will be able to light up its full-power digital signal shortly after the new tower is completed, and the WVIZ-DT antenna is put into place, because the station does not have to wait like WKYC does.

WKYC’s new channel 17 digital signal, of course, can’t hit the airwaves until Trinity Broadcasting’s WDLI in Canton turns off that channel 17 analog transmitter for good…which won’t happen until the night of February 17. WVIZ will maintain its current channel 26 digital allotment.

The move for both stations will drastically improve their digital coverage areas.

WKYC will be able to abandon its troublesome digital channel 2, which is the absolute worst channel to use for digital TV. Electrical noise both near and far plagues channel 2, and that noise “spikes” a digital signal, rendering it nearly useless for those who can even pick it up in the first place.

Without the noise, the “low-VHF” channels are propagation wonders. But the nature of digital TV means that instead of “seeing sparklies” on top of an otherwise watchable analog picture, digital viewers can “see nothing”. WKYC will not have that problem on digital channel 17.

WVIZ’s move to the WKYC tower will provide it with a full-power digital signal for the first time in its history.

The station had a long legal and technical dispute with CBS Radio, trying to put a full-power digital antenna on the tower that currently holds WVIZ’s analog channel 25 antenna. CBS Radio owns that tower in North Royalton, home of its own WNCX/98.5.

Just when it looked like that dispute was ending, WKYC came by with a better deal for the Cleveland PBS affiliate…which, until the new signal is brought on the air, is broadcasting digitally at just 10KW of power from a small, lower-mounted side antenna on another WKYC tower.

Of course, that’s MUCH better than the 1KW temporary signal that used to eminate from a tower behind WVIZ’s now-former Brookpark Road studios in Parma…

WE DON’T DO MUCH PRINT, BUT…: We’d be remiss if we didn’t note the lawsuit filed against the Cleveland Plain Dealer by its former long-time Cleveland Orchestra critic, Donald Rosenberg.

The controversy after Rosenberg was dumped by the PD has become national news, and indeed, the New York Times’ Daniel Wakin has a story on the suit:

(Rosenberg) charged that orchestra officials had waged a “campaign of vilification” against him and that his bosses at the newspaper had caved in to demands that he be ousted.

Rosenberg’s suit is aimed at both the PD and the Orchestra, alleging defamation, interference with his job and age discrimination. His reassignment came after the Orchestra was admittedly and openly displeased about a number of negative reviews of its musical director over recent years.

The 16-year veteran critic of the Orchestra is still with the Cleveland newspaper, though writing about other arts-related items. His beat was taken by a former PD intern.

About the national attention? Quoting the Times’ Wakin:

Mr. Rosenberg’s case became a nationwide cause célèbre among music critics, a dwindling breed in a time of newspaper cutbacks. They said a prominent, knowledgeable voice had been silenced by an influential local institution.

Of course, as the Times notes, a lot of classical music writers have been “silenced” in the pages of local newspapers – but due to the economy and the generally sorry state of newspaper staffing levels these days…

BOB AND TOM MOVING IN C-BUS: Premiere Radio syndicated morning stars “Bob and Tom” are still on the air in Columbus, but they’re moving.

North American Broadcasting’s talk WTDA/103.9 “Talk FM” is dumping the show, which is normally heard on rock-formatted stations.

And since North American has one of those stations – rock WRKZ/99.7 “The Rock” – that’s where “Bob and Tom” are going, starting today. The show will be simulcast for a while on both stations.

From the WRKZ website:

NABCO Director of Programming Operations, Hal Fish noted, “Bob and Tom have a long history of success in the rock format… I think that makes them a great fit for The Rock.” The Bob and Tom Show will simulcast on 99.7 The Rock and 103.9 Talk FM for several weeks. “We want to give current fans of the show plenty of time to get ready for the switch,” Fish said.

Beginning Thursday, January 8, 2009, The Bob and Tom Show will broadcast exclusively on 99.7 The Rock.

It’s a definite signal upgrade for the Indianapolis-based hosts. WTDA’s signal is less powerful than the signal of WRKZ (the former WBZX “The Blitz”), as it’s a class A outlet licensed to the northern Columbus suburb of Westerville…and the 103.9 signal often has trouble south of (and in) downtown Columbus. WRKZ, meanwhile, is a full-market class B signal.

There’s no word right now what “Talk FM” will air in morning drive after “Bob and Tom” go exclusive on 99.7…

WNIR’S WEB SITE: Rumored and even promised for what seems like months, there’s new word that the upgraded website for Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 ‘The Talk of Akron” could be about to debut. It may not be mythical after all.

Hang on, we’re still checking on Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

Our word this time around comes from a short quip by WNIR midday mainstay Howie Chizek on his Friday show.

Chizek noted the presence of at least one out-of-town caller, who was apparently listening on hold, and mentioned that the station’s new website with streaming audio was set to debut “at the first of the year” (he meant the year 2009, right?), so the out of town callers could “listen all the time”.

We’ll believe it when we hear, and see it.

For now, the only audio featured on the WNIR website is still the “Talk of Akron” jingle shout.

And the main graphic leading to the site’s current content (schedules, etc.) is now officially fully dwarfed by the banner ads. One recently-added advertisement by a fast food chain is now somewhat larger than the content “window”…

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