The Shortest Month

Your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) is Northeast Ohio-based again, as we’re back at the OMW World Headquarters after being in other states.

With our departure seeming to trigger major media changes in Ohio each time, this time was no exception…with no fewer than three Central Ohio stations changing format while we were outside the Buckeye State.

Notice, we said “no fewer”…

FALLOUT: As we headed back home, we got word from two OMW readers that the Columbus Radio Format Shuffle may not be done yet.

When the Dispatch’s “RadiOhio” arm decided to make WBNS-FM/97.1 the primary home of the “Fan” sports radio format heard on WBNS/1460, it displaced the company’s long-time hot AC outlet, “Mix 97.1” – and from what we have heard, all of its staff.

That prompted Saga/Columbus Radio Group to grab the hot AC format and “Mix” name and run with it, on WODB/107.9 “Mix 107.9”. (We haven’t heard yet if anyone from 97.1 will end up on 107.9.)

That move displaced the “Big Hits” classic hits format on 107.9, but that might not be the last move in the Columbus game of radio musical (format) chairs.

OMW readers have forwarded an E-mail note that appears to be sent to the “Big Hits B107.9” listener E-mail database:

Thanks to the feedback of loyal B-Mail Club Members like you, Big Hits are coming back to Columbus! Starting Monday afternoon (2/2) you can find Big Hits at a new location 104.3FM! Tell your friends all the good songs have moved down the dial to 104.3FM!

That’s 104.3 FM as in the facility known to the FCC as WJZK Richwood, and known to listeners as the northwestern signal in the Saga “Smooth Jazz 103.5/104.3” simulcast. (103.5 is WJZA Pickerington, the eastern signal that covers more of Columbus itself.)

Yes, we notice that the Saga “B-Mail Club” announcement says 104.3, and does not include 103.5.

Does Saga plan to operate classic hits “Big Hits” on 104.3, and keep smooth jazz on 103.5? We suppose we’ll find out later today…

A BRIEF DIGITAL STOP: We plan a more extensive look at digital television later today, bouncing off an article on the digital transition in Northeast Ohio by Plain Dealer business writer Shaheen Samavati over the weekend.

At this writing, it appears that the U.S. House is expected to pass a bill which would move the mandated digital TV transition date from February 17th (two weeks from Tuesday) to June 12th. President Obama is expected to sign the bill. The second House attempt would only require a majority vote – the earlier effort required two-thirds’ approval.

What this means in Real Life is anyone’s guess, and there’s a growing indication that stations in many markets will move to make the digital switch on the original February 17th date anyway.

So far, we only have indication from one Northeast Ohio outlet on what they’d do if the mandated date changes – the folks at Western Reserve PBS tell us that they expect to keep analog WEAO/49 Akron going to the new date, if it’s approved. (Sister WNEO/45 Alliance already went all-digital back in November, of course.)

The Campus Center Drive folks say they’d also keep their in-house DTV Help Desk going into about mid-July.

There’s a lot of explaining to do and questions to ask, and we’ll do so later today. Meanwhile, if you know what YOUR station will do, feel free to let us know.

We’ll add another related note: Our long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush at NorthEast Radio Watch is hoping to get as many TV stations as possible to take a picture of their analog shutdown at their transmitter sites – whatever date that happens – to capture a photographic history.

We’d love to hear if Ohio stations would be able to provide these pictures of the actual “switch flipping” turning off the analog transmitter…please drop us a line if you can contribute…

A PROMOTION STOP: Congratulations to Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland’s former news director on what appears to be a promotion.

AllAccess reports that ex-TAM’er R.C. Bauer has been named program and news director at sister Clear Channel talk WFLA/970 Tampa, where he’s been Director/Information and Programming Services. (We’re not entirely sure if he keeps all of those titles, in addition to another new one, as director of the Tampa Total Traffic Network operation at Clear Channel.)

The move comes after the exit of Tampa-based Clear Channel senior news/talk VP Gabe Hobbs in the Inauguration Day cuts at the broadcasting giant…

TV LAYOFFS IN T-TOWN: OMW hears that Toledo NBC affiliate WNWO/24 was among those taking job hits in a recent round of layoffs by WNWO parent Barrington Broadcasting.

We’re told that three “NBC24” staffers lost their jobs Thursday, including anchor Shenikwa Stratford and reporter Aaron Brilbeck.

Brilbeck has been heard in the past doing fill-in at Clear Channel talk WSPD/1370 in the Glass City…

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