Heading Off

As promised, this is our final regular news update for 2008.

We’ll do our best to put up any major breaking media news (station sales, major format or personality/anchor changes) during the Christmas holiday period…but we won’t be updating regularly until January 5, 2009.

We will put up a very brief, non-newsy personal “Year End” message from your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) somewhere around the end of 2008.

So, if it’s not here in this update, it’ll have to wait until…next year. (No, we’re not run by the Cleveland Browns, and we aren’t planning a coaching change in a week or so…)

THE HD LIVE VIEW: Other than Local TV FOX affiliate WJW/8’s “SkyFOX HD” helicopter, and the remote cameras Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 controls at Progressive Field, all local TV news remote live shots in Cleveland have taken place in 16×9 standard definition – until now.

Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 unveiled the ability Saturday to do live, fully-digital HDTV news remote shots.

OMW hears that a full-digital path allows the HD live shots on “NewsChannel 5” – we saw one Monday with reporter Bob Jones standing alongside the Shoreway in downtown Cleveland. (We’ll try to get a screen shot here sometime later today.)

The remote HD capability also allows the station’s reporters and photographers to feed back remote HD video that they previously had to put into the system back at 30th and Euclid.

At this point, not all “NewsChannel 5” remote live shots will be in HD, as we hear “about half” of the necessary conversion has been made. But we hear the station is working on the remaining transmit and receive equipment, and all should be in digital format, soon.

The move at WEWS is part of the nationwide conversion of TV station remote broadcast equipment to a new band – which is being spearheaded by the folks at Sprint Nextel.

The cell phone company is paying for replacement equipment as part of its approval from the FCC to use spectrum in the current analog “broadcast auxiliary services” band, and the new equipment is digital…

SPEAKING OF DIGITAL TV: The OMW Mobile made a trip late last week up Broadview Road, to Parma…and the transmitter site of WKYC/3, to get some answers on the status of the construction of the new tower that’ll hold the new digital antennas for WKYC and for ideastream PBS affiliate WVIZ/25.

We just got to the edge of the driveway leading into the WKYC facility, but from there (and the sidewalk), we could see numerous tower sections on their sides in front of the WKYC transmitter building.

OMW hears that a concrete base has been poured for the new combined WKYC/WVIZ tower, but our recent severe winter weather conditions may have put a damper on putting the tower up in the past week. Neighbors near the WKYC site told us late last week that they hadn’t heard any tower construction recently…

COLUMBUS RADIO: The Columbus Dispatch’s “Broadcast Bits” column today confirms our earlier reporting on the death of liberal talk on Bernard Radio’s WVKO/1580.

Cowtown Communications’ Gary Richards, who had leased the frequency since December 2007, reportedly closed out his run by playing some of his favorite music until 12 midnight. We tried to listen online, but the WVKO stream had already been changed over to the feed which will continue to carry liberal talk after the station’s demise.

The Dispatch item confirms that local Catholic group St. Gabriel Radio, which owns WUCO/1270 Marysville and WFOT/89.5 Lexington, is taking over 1580 AM “at 9 a.m. Wednesday”.

We can’t confirm that timing, either, but we did catch St. Gabriel’s online feed adding a legal ID for WVKO at midnight late last night/early this morning. We wouldn’t be surprised if 1580 is already carrying the St. Gabriel-fed EWTN Radio programming.

Back at the now-former WVKO website, being run (as it had been during the format’s on-air days) by the Ohio Majority Radio advocacy group, schedule changes announced for the non-radio web feed include a return of former Air America Radio host Randi Rhodes, with her Nova M Radio show being carried live on the stream at 3 PM.

As far as the legal status of WVKO is concerned, we heard on the station’s final “Fight Back with Dr. Bob Fitrakis” show Monday that the St. Gabriel group is “leasing towards purchase” of the 1580 signal…so it appears to us that it’ll be a local marketing/lease agreement with an eventual purchase option.

As such, we don’t think it’ll be immediately filed in the FCC database for WVKO…but we do expect an actual sale sometime down the road, because the group does buy its stations outright.

Meanwhile, the chatter about Mr. Richards hoping to buy the FM side of WVKO (103.1 Johnstown) is just chatter at this point.

We don’t know if Bernard Radio is still offering the station for sale, if another party is coming in (there are unconfirmed rumors) to take over 103.1, or if Richards will be able to garner financial help from investors said to be linked to Dial Global syndicated host Ed Schultz.

Schultz’ show has been replaced by Air America Radio’s Thom Hartmann on the now-Ohio Majority Radio-run former WVKO webstream, though we’re pretty sure his Dial Global stablemate and Columbus favorite Stephanie Miller is still offered there…

COLUMBUS RADIO 2: The Dispatch column also reminds us to update the coming schedule changes at North American Broadcasting talk WTDA/103.9 “Talk FM” in the Columbus market.

We’d already seen the schedule on the front of the “Talk FM” website, with major holes in the station’s schedule prompted by the loss of two shows – the station itself moved morning drive Premiere talk fest “Bob and Tom” to sister rock WRKZ/99.7 “The Rock”, and Clear Channel talk WTVN/610 reclaimed Premiere midday host Glenn Beck.

After it gives up “Bob and Tom” to WRKZ exclusively on January 8, WTDA will pick up TRN FM’s “Mancow’s Morning Madhouse”, featuring Erich “Mancow” Muller.

If you’ve never heard of him, “Mancow” is the guy who held up traffic on the San Francisco Bay Bridge as a stunt, to parody then-President Clinton’s airport runway haircut.

Since then, he’s moved his “morning zoo”-type show more into conservative talk territory…Muller has been a regular contributor to TV’s FOX News Channel.

With Beck moving to WTVN, the 10 AM-1 PM slot on “Talk FM” in Columbus will be filled by Westwood One’s Dennis Miller Show, that program moving up from a 1-4 PM clearance on the station.

Miller will be followed by one of two shows WTDA is taking back from Clear Channel, a two hour clearance (1-3 PM) for self-syndicated financial advice guru and FOX Business Network host Dave Ramsey…who has been airing on WYTS/1230 “Talk 1230”.

WTDA will then move The Content Factory’s Dan Patrick to a delayed 3-6 PM afternoon drive clearance, followed by its only local show, “Shark on Sports” – moving to a one-hour time slot – 6-7 PM.

The 7-10 PM time slot on “Talk FM” will be filled by another syndicated host currently heard on WYTS – Talk Radio Network’s Michael Savage.

We’re not sure Glenn Beck for Dave Ramsey and Michael Savage is all that great of a trade for WTDA…but both Clear Channel and its Premiere syndication arm were clearly driving this bus.

We don’t know yet how WYTS will replace Ramsey and Savage, or if the station will opt to carry Westwood One’s “Fred Thompson Show” to replace the delayed afternoon drive delayed clearance of outgoing host Bill O’Reilly’s “Radio Factor” show.

We’re wondering if a host like United Stations’ Lou Dobbs is in the mix somewhere. Right now, Dobbs’ afternoon drive show is heard in the region on Newark’s WCLT/1430…as well as the station’s HD3 simulcast on WCLT-FM/100.3…

TERRY LANDS: A former local FM program director will now call the panhandle of Florida home.

AllAccess reports that former NextMedia AC WHBC-FM/94.1 Canton “Mix 94.1” program director/morning co-host Terry Simmons is on the move again…from another NextMedia station, hot AC WDBY “Y105” in Danbury CT, to Cumulus hot AC WJLQ “Q100” in Pensacola FL…where he’ll be PD and afternoon host.

The connection getting him to northwest Florida would be Cumulus programming SVP Jan Jeffries, noting to AllAccess that he worked with Simmons at WHBC-FM while consulting the Canton station…

AND FROM ALL OF US…: Us, being your Primary Editorial Voice(tm), our regular contributors and anyone else connected to OMW, to all of you…Merry Christmas, Happy Chaunkah, and any other joyous holiday wishes you so richly deserve.

We’ll close out the year with a year-end message in a week and change, and return for good on the first Monday in January…

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