WCMH Dumps 11

Briefly: The Columbus Dispatch reports about the latest round of Ohio TV news job cuts.

The Dispatch’s Molly Willow reports that Media General NBC affiliate WCMH/4 has laid off veteran news director Stan Sanders and ten other employees – there’s no word who else was let go.

The TV trade site TV Newsday indicates that the Columbus cuts are among others nationwide by the company which bought “NBC 4” from the NBC network itself in 2006…


More Details

As we wrap up our out of town excursion, we’ll wrap up some loose ends from a newsy week, particularly for our friends in Central Ohio…

SPORTSY: As it turns out, there’s a good reason two Columbus radio stations flipped to a sports format within hours of each other this week.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Tim Feran quotes RadiOhio president/GM Dave Van Stone, who says research helped lead the move of the “Fan” sports format from its long-time home on WBNS/1460 to displace hot AC “Mix 97.1” at WBNS-FM:

“According to a recent piece of research by Scarborough (a sports market-research company), Columbus, Ohio, ranks as the No. 1 sports city in the United States,” Van Stone said. “Our listeners have told us over and over that we need to have a better signal.”

But the new “97.1 The Fan” will have to break away from 1460 occasionally for one key piece of programming.

Feran reports that RadiOhio only has the rights to broadcast the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets on the AM dial, with Central Ohio’s only actual major pro sports team already airing on the FM dial at Ingleside alt-rocker WWCD/101.1 Grove City “CD 101”.

(OK, so the Buckeyes could almost be considered a pro sports organization in Columbus, if it weren’t for that pesky collegiate/amateur thing.)

During Blue Jackets games, “The Fan’s” new FM side will air its regular ESPN Radio feed.

Meanwhile, the “97.1 The Fan” flip prompted an early move to sports by Clear Channel’s WYTS/1230, which brought “Fox Sports 1230” to the air an hour before WBNS-FM suited up in its FM sports uniform.

But Clear Channel Columbus operations manager John Crenshaw tells the Dispatch that as it turns out, WYTS was already ready to suit up as a sports outlet, and that the company also saw that Scarborough research about Columbus being the “number one sports city”.

The “Fan” move to 97.1 only prompted an early start to the “Fox Sports 1230” format for WYTS, with the station sliding into FSR at 3 PM that day, after the previously scheduled Jim Rome show – a holdover from the WYTS talk format.

OMW hears that before the FM “Fan” debut was announced, 1230 had already planned to move to FSR this afternoon at 3.

This seems to be a good place to answer one Northeast Ohio listener’s question from the OMW mailbag:

I remember that Clear Channel changed WARF 1350 AM over from “lefty radio” to Sports because the ratings hadn’t moved from a 1 … since the changeover, I haven’t been able to find WARF on any of the ratings online since …

I was wondering what the ratings were … since they seem to have fallen off the edge of the Earth (ratings-wise, that is …) since becoming the “under-represented” sports news station … I still can pick up the signal if I looked for it …

Our OMW reader calling himself “Ernest in Cleveland” accurately remembers that Clear Channel Akron/Canton cited disappointing ratings in its explanation for the format change from liberal talk to sports on WARF/1350.

Quoting from our earlier item, in 2007, where we reprinted the company’s explanation:

While Progessive Radio is surviving in parts of the country, it has not in Akron. In two years ratings have not improved, and revenue has declined, despite the remainder of the market seeing an increase in revenue.

Before the format switch to Progressive Talk, 1350am was an all sports station. In the Winter of 2005, (the last ratings period for the station as sports) 1350am had 17,000 weekly listeners. In the latest release of ratings, for the Fall of 06, WARF had 11,600 weekly listeners, and was on the decline.* (Source: Arbitron Fall 05 and Winter 06 Akron Metro Persons 12+ Monday-Sunday 6am – Midnight)

There are two major points to make here.

WARF wasn’t setting the world on fire, ratings-wise, in either format – and hasn’t since. We don’t have the numbers in front of us, but they’re probably in that same universe…or less.

As always, those published “vanity numbers” (12-plus) are just a snapshot of (part of) what’s going on. You can’t point to them and say “look, less people are listening, why did they do that?” It is not that easy.

Quoting us, from our own item from 2007:

But the facts remain as we pointed out earlier. Simply put: even with similar (lower) ratings, sports outsells liberal talk, at least at this juncture. It “sells above its numbers”.

That hasn’t changed in the nearly two years since 1350 in Akron went back to sports.

And in today’s challenging economic environment – syndicated sports radio appears to be format “comfort food” for radio giants like Clear Channel and CBS Radio. It requires virtually no care and feeding, and is easy to sell on the streets. It requires no explanation to advertisers hoping to reach male listeners, especially, and very little on-air attention.

And to tie this up into a bow, “Ernest in Cleveland”, our reader, is apparently a regular caller or E-mailer to Dial Global’s morning drive show with Bill Press – which started as a local-only show on WARF in its “Radio Free Ohio” liberal talk days…

EXPLAINING THAT FOX 8 CHANGE: As we reported earlier, visitors to “MyFoxCleveland.com” are being sent to a new website for Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW/8 “FOX 8” – “Fox8.com“.

Now, we know why.

Though the folks at the network have continued to spread the “MyFox” web branding to Fox affiliates not owned by the company – as WJW has been since the sale to Local TV, LLC – the move is driven by a new, larger web deal.

While browsing the mobile version of the new WJW “Fox8.com” site, we noticed a Tribune Interactive copyright notice.

And as an OMW reader pointed out, Tribune Interactive has launched something the Chicago-based media giant calls “The Syndicate”, a new multimedia online framework. Quoting an official Tribune release:

Tribune Interactive today announced the launch of “The Syndicate,” a new online multimedia content marketplace bringing the latest news, lifestyle stories and sports reports to visitors of Tribune Co.’s television and newspaper websites.

In addition to reading the best coverage of the day’s events, website visitors now can learn about the topics they care about — news, business and entertainment — through interactive elements such as videos, photos, graphics, trivia and quizzes.

Here’s the part that takes in “FOX 8” locally:

The content, created 24/7, is culled from Tribune’s 23 television stations and newspaper websites, 17 TV stations owned by Local TV, LLC, and various outside vendors.

New WJW owner Local TV is operationally a sister company to Tribune. The Local TV stations (and Tribune’s local TV operations) are managed by “The Other Company”, headed by former Local TV head and current Tribune chief operating officer Randy Michaels, who lives in suburban Cincinnati.

So, you can add “interactive” to the list of WJW functions linked to Tribune via the Local TV-Tribune shared management deal…

TIME WARNER CABLE SITE: WJW isn’t the only local media operation to see a new website this week.

Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio operation has a new website as well, as the cable giant revamps its own online presence.

The website has undergone major renovations, enhancing look and functionality, and has many new useful tools for current and prospective customers. People can utilize the website to purchase new products, upgrade current services or manage a customer account.

“The newly redesigned Time Warner Cable website is interactive, looks great and is easy to use,” said Steve Fry, Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio Division President. “Current customers, as well as those out shopping, will find many helpful tools and resources.”

From the homepage, customers can easily navigate throughout the various sections of the website with one simple mouse click. The main links across the top of the homepage – Learn, Shop, Support, What’s On TV, Contact Us and My Services – serve as simple entry-points to begin utilizing the website.

The visual facelift is stunning, and there does appear to be more information (including an extensive FAQ list). We’re still sorting through all the information, though, to see what’s new…or if there’s any word about the expanded services and HDTV lineup that we’ve reported about here…supposedly heading for TWC’s Northeast Ohio system sometime in the next few months…

WBZ DROPS “OVERNIGHT AMERICA”: This isn’t a Northeast Ohio item per se, but worth noting due to nighttime radio skywave reception, and radio economic issues.

CBS Radio is still running the St. Louis-based syndicated overnight show “Overnight America with Jon Grayson”, based at the company’s KMOX/1120 there…it continues to air on stations easily heard on Northeast Ohio’s AM radio dial, including KMOX and KDKA/1020 Pittsburgh.

But Grayson’s show will disappear from another easily heard station next week.

CBS news/talker WBZ/1030 Boston has gotten off of the syndicated overnight train, and will return local overnight host Steve LeVeille to his perch on Monday. He was recently let go in a CBS cost-cutting spree.

The news is rather huge in New England. It’s the second time WBZ has reversed a decision to dump local overnight talk for a syndicated show that wasn’t well-received – the first time, it was Tom Snyder’s old national radio show that aired briefly on the Boston-based radio giant.

For a Northeast Ohioan, the concept of a “live and local” all night talk radio show seems like something out of the days of Marconi…though we seem to remember that Akron market talk WNIR/100.1 actually made a brief attempt at post-midnight weekend talk in the old “Dating Show” days (12-3 AM Saturday/Sunday nights, if we remember right).

And of course, WNIR does local talk until 11 PM weeknights even today.

But late night, overnight local talk doesn’t have much history in Ohio. Even Clear Channel powerhouse WLW/700 Cincinnati’s locally-originated overnight programming is the syndicated “America’s Trucking Network” – produced at Kenwood, but meant for national audiences.

WLW sister talk WTVN/610 Columbus, of course, featured local host Steve Cannon behind the microphone until 1 AM for many years.

But many local listeners – including your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) – have tuned the dial to WBZ or KDKA for their own local overnight shows over the years…and that option is about to return for 1030 listeners…

Keeping In Touch

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) will be heading back to Northeast Ohio by late Saturday, it appears.

And those working in media will breathe a sigh of relief…no, not because they’re glad to have us back in town.

If you’ve followed the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) since we started in mid-2005, there’s one particular truism. When we leave Ohio for any lengthy period of time, major changes happen in the media world. At one point, then-Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage actually lost his job temporarily. (Maybe we shouldn’t have come back. Heh.)

OK, so we’re mostly joking, but since we left the OMW World Headquarters earlier this week, there have been two format changes – with Dispatch hot AC WBNS/97.1 dropping its long-time “Mix” format to become the primary home of the AM side’s “Fan” format, and Saga’s oldies outlet WODB/107.9 swooping in to become hot AC “The New Mix 107.9” the next day.

So, hang in there until the end of the week…

NOT MYFOX: We actually didn’t expect this one, but it happened this week.

Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8” has dumped the Fox Interactive “MyFox Cleveland” website it adopted when it was owned by the network, and has debuted the new “Fox8.com“.

The move is not necessarily a direct result of the station’s sale from Fox to Local TV. Fox Interactive has built many “MyFox” websites for Fox affiliates not owned by the Newscorp mother ship.

But we believe Local TV has a website deal with its other stations not acquired in the deal with Fox, so it makes sense to change.

A quick look at Fox8.com shows that it still offers items such as online video of the station’s news stories, but we’ll have to dig deeper to see what’s missing and what’s not…

RTN’ING IT: The digital TV subchannel expansion continues in Ohio.

We reported earlier that Raycom Cleveland MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB-DT 43.2 will finally replace the “We Didn’t Kill The Tube” slide with actual programming from MGM’s This TV, part of a multi-station Raycom deal. (We haven’t heard when that change will take place.)

In Columbus, viewers are getting the Retro Television Network (RTN) via a subchannel of Media General NBC affiliate WCMH/4:

RTN 4.2 has retro television at its best from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s! It has something for everyone including Leave it to Beaver, Knight Rider, Wagon Train, Rockford Files, and Black Sheep Squadron. Plus, look for current local programs including encore performances of NBC 4’s Daytime Columbus with Gail Hogan, weeknights at 8:00 p.m.

The latter shows some flexibility that the new “diginets” have – local stations can carve out time for non-network programming, though those that wish to run the services 24/7 can do so.

Or, they can dual affiliate, as Sinclair ABC affiliate WSYX/6 has done with the digital subchannel it established as Columbus’ MyNetwork TV affiliate. That station now also runs, if we recall right, the aforementioned This TV in hours outside prime-time MyNetwork TV programming.

Missing in the Columbus digital subchannel equation? A player based in the Columbus market itself.

“.2 Network”, the locally-based subchannel programmer…it’s run by the Guardian Group, the Columbus-area company that sold WSFJ/51 “GTN 51” in Newark OH to Trinity Broadcasting a while back. “GTN” recamped on a low-power outlet on channel 23, and is still struggling to retain cable carriage it had as a “must carry” on 51.

But from recent trade reports, we learn that “.2 Network”‘s start has been pushed back again. The Guardian folks were quoted in an article about new digital subchannel programmers getting some affiliate resistance – because the would-be affiliates were focusing resources on their main channels in this flagging economy.

Still, with This TV and RTN both picking up major groups in the past few days, we’re left to wonder if the problem is more .2/Guardian getting squeezed out by its two largest subchannel programming competitors.

This TV is backed by studio giant MGM, and even with some financial and operational questions recently (mostly linked to its split with troubled Equity Broadcasting), RTN is still managing to sign up big broadcast groups…

The Other Mix Shoe Drops In Columbus

Just one day after Dispatch's WBNS-FM/97.1 dumped hot AC "Mix 97.1"
for sports, another Columbus station has stepped in.

Saga oldies WODB/107.9 "B107.9" has picked up both WBNS-FM's discarded
format and identity as hot AC "Mix 107.9", launching with a "5,000
song marathon"…

Sports And Digital

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) is “on the road” for much of this week, and our updates will be a little more sporadic than usual.

But, we did manage to put some “breaking news” up here before it happened on Monday, didn’t we? And as usual, our physical exit from Ohio prompted a major change…sorry, Columbus, we should have warned you!

THE SPORTS HIT THE FM FAN: And as reported here Monday, Dispatch hot AC WBNS-FM/97.1 Columbus “Mix 97.1” faded into oblivion as scheduled at 4 PM on Monday.

Those who were listening to the FM side (or its streaming audio) told us that the “Mix” format went out without any live air personalities…as we’d mentioned, we’re hearing the entire FM-side staff was let go earlier that morning.

OMW readers tell us a medley of Ohio State University Buckeyes-related music, fight songs, etc. led into the new “Sports Radio 97.1 The Fan” at 4 PM – a full simulcast of the long-running “1460 The Fan” on WBNS’ AM side.

Given the station’s Ohio State sports contract, you could say the new two-headed “Fan” is “Powered by the Buckeyes”…an obsession in Ohio’s capital city like no other.

Speaking of “power”, and for that matter, former Buckeyes, “The Fan’s” afternoon drive team members – including Chris Spielman and Kirk Herbstreit – gushed about the wide availability of the station on its new FM signal, and looked forward to the end of complaints from areas even relatively close to Columbus which are cut off from the tightly directional 1460 AM night pattern.

Not gushing at all were fans of the music format blown off the FM dial in the latest move of an AM sports station to a big FM signal.

Station officials issued a statement on the former “Mix 97.1” website:

Anytime there is a dramatic change in direction for a business, there will be those that are happy, and those that are disappointed. We do not make changes of this magnitude without weighing both sides of the equation.

In the end, making this format change to Mix 97.1 was about providing central Ohio with what central Ohio has continued to ask for, a “sports” radio station on the FM dial. We realize there will be disappointed music listeners, as well as many very happy sports fans that are finally getting what they want.

The site even contains a helpful feedback dialog – just in case you’re a former “Mix” listener who wants to try to spit into the wind and return the old format.

With the primary branding now on the FM side for WBNS’ “Fan” format, we’re among those wondering if 1460 will go off in a different direction. Right now, we have no indication that will happen.

Sports radio on FM has become a Big Deal in the past few months. CBS Radio started the latest fire by flipping another 97.1 FM, Detroit’s FM talker WKRK, to sports as WXYT “97.1 The Ticket”, a move from its old 1270 AM home (which like 1460 now with its new 97.1 home, still simulcasts its FM side today).

That station has been so successful on FM that Clear Channel’s recent “restructuring” restructured a long time sports format competitor, WDFN/1130, right out of the local sports talk radio business.

CBS Radio quickly followed by flipping another FM talker to sports in Baltimore (WJZ-FM), then one in Dallas (KRLD-FM). The troubled broadcasting giant reportedly acted quickly after seeing positive PPM (Portable People Meter) returns out of Detroit’s FM “Ticket”.

Long-time readers know that we’ve been watching traditional AM spoken word formats (news/talk/sports) and their success on FM.

Just down the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes from OMW World Headquarters, Clear Channel has reaped quite a reward pairing a popular conservative talk local morning show with a fairly traditional Clear Channel AM talk lineup on Pittsburgh’s WPGB/104.7, taking a lot of wind out of the sails of CBS Radio’s legendary talk KDKA/1020…particularly in younger still-talk-friendly demos.

And the march continues.

Meanwhile, we don’t know if it was prompted by “The Fan”‘s move to FM, but Clear Channel flipped talk WYTS/1230 to sports on Monday afternoon, featuring the Fox Sports Radio lineup – and presumably, Premiere mainstay Jim Rome sticks around to anchor the new sports format.

WYTS had been running mostly a second-tier lineup of syndicated conservative hosts…the name hosts over on big brother talker WTVN/610. WYTS had just started the new year with additions of United Stations’ Lou Dobbs, and Dial Global’s Neal Boortz and Clark Howard to the schedule.

The WYTS website now shows the new “Fox Sports Radio 1230” logo…and nothing else, yet…

ONE MORE TO GO: That rumbling in Congress to move the digital TV transition date now has one important vote behind it, and could well end up on President Obama’s desk soon.

The U.S. Senate has weighed in, voting “unanimously” to move the digital transition deadline from February 17th to June 12th.

The issue still has to be considered in the House, which has been kicking around its own DTV-related bills, but, according to the Associated Press:

…Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has vowed to work with House leaders to bring (Senate Commerce Committee chair Sen. Jay) Rockefeller’s bill up for a floor vote on Tuesday.

If the DTV delay bill passes in the House, President Obama is expected to sign it.

As we pointed out last time this proposal was mentioned here:

(Sen.) Rockefeller managed to ease some of these concerns by allowing broadcast stations to make the switch from analog to digital signals sooner than the June deadline if they choose

The concerns come from places like PBS, where the AP quotes president/CEO Paula Kerger that a delay to June 12th could cost public broadcasters some $22 million in extra costs.

The upshot is that right now, it does appear that television stations can abandon analog for good on their own under the new plan, and those watching the moves say that hundreds of stations have already made it clear to the FCC that they are going to shut down analog on February 17th or sooner…like WNEO/45 Alliance and WMFD/68 Mansfield have done already in Northeast Ohio.

But, what about the complicated situations? What about Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3, which has been trying to put up the tower holding its digital antenna set for RF channel 17 (we haven’t checked on its progress as of late) for some time?

Is TBN O&O WDLI/17 Canton signing off its analog side on the night of February 17th, or will they wait until June?

We won’t know that answer probably until after the date change bill is signed into law by President Obama, but if they hang around after the 17th of next month, WKYC won’t be able to budge from its anemic temporary digital home on interference-plagued DT 2 until WDLI’s analog 17 is gone… though it does have the authority to operate on the pre-transition DT 2 past February 17th in an STA…

“THIS” IS IT FOR WUAB-DT2: One of the folks keeping track of the digital TV application status is Virginia resident Trip Ericson, proprietor of the RabbitEars site with various TV station facilities listings.

Trip also lets us know that Raycom Media Cleveland market MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB/43 has found new programming for its long-abandoned digital subchannel 43.2.

After the continual months-long run of a digital slide telling viewers that no, WUAB didn’t kill “The Tube” music video channel, WUAB parent Raycom has signed a deal to air MGM’s “This TV” service on 43.2 – and 14 other stations. TVNewsday reports the deals with Raycom, Tribune and two smaller groups give the so-called “diginet” over 60% national clearance.

“This TV” airs a number of movies and reruns, mainly from the MGM vaults. Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting, which runs a local rerun subchannel called “Me-TV” in Chicago and Milwaukee, is also involved in the new channel.

“Me-TV” carries more sitcoms and hour-long classic TV dramas than “This”. Many of the programs it carries are seen on the Retro Television Network (RTN), which is aired subchannels of Toledo Barrington NBC affiliate WNWO-DT’, and of Steubenville Cox NBC affiliate WSTV-DT.

Despite that similarity, MGM/Weigel’s “This TV” and RTN are competitors.

We don’t know when “This TV” will start on WUAB. It may already be up, but we’re out of range of Cleveland local over-air digital signals at this writing…

FM Sports Tackles Columbus’ Mix

Rumors are about to turn to reality in Columbus.

AllAccess confirms that Dispatch hot AC WBNS-FM/97.1 “Mix 97.1” will flip in about an hour to a simulcast of sports sister station WBNS/1460…the new station to be known as “97.1 The Fan”.

OMW hears unconfirmed rumors that the move has already resulted in the dismissal of the entire (we’re told) “Mix” FM staff.

More later…

Digital TV Date Etched In Water

It’s been kicking around Washington for the past few weeks, but it looks like Congress may indeed try to stand in front of the speeding Digital TV Express Train, wave its arms wildly and shout into the train’s loud whistle – “slow down!”

A number of reports late last week indicate that a key Republican U.S. Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas (ranking member of the Senate’s Commerce Committee), has ended her opposition to a move of the digital TV transition date from February 17th to June 12th, and that a vote on the compromise could come as soon as today.

With Democrats in the House in favor of the move, and President Obama already on record in favor of it, there doesn’t seem to be much standing in the way of that new June 12th date.

But not only can those in Congress change their minds, or mount new opposition…the devil’s in the proverbial details.

And one of those details is jumping up and shouting at us.

From the article about the reported “compromise” in the Washington Post:

The bill would allow broadcasters to turn off analog signals before the June 12 deadline, and public safety agencies would be allowed to use those airwaves as soon as they are available.

Let’s read that first part again:

The bill would allow broadcasters to turn off analog signals before the June 12 deadline

Now, a number of broadcasters have turned off analog signals early, including two in the immediate OMW coverage area, Western Reserve PBS’ WNEO/45 Alliance and Mid-State independent WMFD/68 Mansfield.

To get FCC approval, stations like WNEO and WMFD had to provide detailed information on why the move had to be made early…involving various technical and even weather-in-Northern-Ohio explanations.

We obviously haven’t seen this “compromise” bill the Senate is expected to vote upon this week, but it sounds like all a station would have to do to shut down before June 12th would be to ask to do so. And thus, if we’re reading this right, they could go ahead and shut down on February 17th – as planned.

Now, we believe if the stations were allowed to do that with a new transition date, they’d have to run the requisite crawls and notices that they’re shutting down the analog signal – all required by the FCC for 30 days before the planned early analog shutdown. (Both WMFD and WNEO had to run these messages.)

So it may not have been a coincidence that one Ohio station operator is apparently thinking ahead.

On our drive into the Mahoning Valley last week, we happened to be watching TV for a while at a local business, and noticed that both New Vision CBS affiliate WKBN/27 Youngstown and Parkin Broadcasting(/New Vision LMA partner) ABC affiliate WYTV/33 Youngstown were running frequent, fast moving, identical crawls.

The crawls moved so fast, we can barely remember, but they appeared to specifically address the stations (by call letters and city of license) shutting down on February 17th. The crawls were not the generic DTV transition crawls usually run by stations.

So, we’re back to the question – if all the TV stations in a market got together and decided to stay with the February 17th date, the law (as reported in the press) would seem to allow that early transition – much like the one that took place in Wilmington NC in September, or the one that just happened in Hawaii.

Or, if one station wanted to go ahead and others wait, that would seem to be OK as well (though we suspect broadcasters will talk about this among each other in each market).

So…what stations will be left in analog on June 12th? Will that date basically be “the last stragglers turning off the analog”, give or take a “nightlight” station or three? We’ll see.

The local media weighs in on transition-related topics, with the original date under a month away.

The Youngstown Vindicator covers the recent power increase at Western Reserve PBS’ WNEO/45. From the article by the Vindy’s Shelby Schroeder:

(Western Reserve PBS’ Amanda) Donatelli said the station has called about 20 of the residents who registered complaints to inform them of the upgrade. Of those, only one still had difficulty receiving a signal, which Donatelli said could be attributed to an ineffective set of rabbit ears.

“The main thing we’re telling people is to re-scan for channels,” she said. “After they’ve done that process, they should be able to pick us up clearly.”

Anyway, it wouldn’t be a newspaper article about broadcasting without at least an error or five, so here goes:

WOUB switched to digital in September 2006, long before other stations were prepared for the transition.

Well, we’re pretty sure the Ohio University outlet – as much good work as it did – did not “switch to digital in September 2006”. It appears to be accurate that they have been running the post-transition WOUB-DT facility since (probably) then, but so have other stations.

Oh, unless they’re not being truthful with the FCC in their Digital Transition Update filings, it would appear WOUB’s analog facility is still on the air, and will run until the transition. So much for a 2006 “switch” as reported.

And as far as the FCC was concerned, WNEO’s 44KW signal on DT 45 *was* the station’s authorized full-power pre-transition facility (on 45). The Salem-operated station had been pumping out a more powerful signal than that on DT 46 for years, probably going back to the same time WOUB lit up its digital facilities.

The move to DT 45 – presumably done to expand the station’s range in the post-transition world – temporarily hobbled WNEO’s signal. But the Vindy article makes it look like the Western Reserve PBS folks were hoping to scrape along on the 44KW, when that was never the case.

Like many stations in the area, WNEO filed a timely “maximization” authorization on DT 45 to 500KW, a power level they expected to run post-February 17th. That maximization was approved, and then the station – not wanting to wait until February to go full-power, filed a special temporary authority with the FCC to go to 500KW early – which was approved on January 8th, and implemented this past week.

We realize all this technical stuff is hard for a newspaper writer to digest…particularly a general assignment writer who doesn’t cover this stuff daily.

But in this case, the article has a few glaring errors. Some were facts not explored above, others appear to be errors just brought directly into the article from the telephone interview with the WOUB staffer.

The Vindicator did do SOME digging – as they went into the official filing for the WNEO early maximization STA request, as we did, and noted the wide range of Mahoning Valley viewers complaining of trouble with the pre-increase 44KW signal.

Anyway, we’ll continue to watch…