Week’s Beginning

There hasn’t been much going on in the world of media in Northeast Ohio lately, but we felt the need to cobble together what we have. And as it turns out, we do have some items on this Monday morning…

WTAM VOICE SILENCED: A voice long associated with Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland has been silenced.

No, he’s not a WTAM talk show host or news person. But to an imaging-conscious station like WTAM, Brian James was just as important.

Unless you’re in the business, you don’t know his name. But those in the business are quite aware. Quoting our long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush on this morning’s NorthEast Radio Watch:

And while we could have mentioned the death of voiceover legend Brian James under just about any state heading in this week’s NERW – after all, his edgy voice work was heard everywhere…

As near as we can figure, Brian’s voice was one of two or three primary voices heard on the Clear Channel Cleveland talker over the years…most notably as the voice accompanying the station’s talk shows.

Those sarcastic liners talking about WTAM afternoon driver Mike Trivisonno? That’s Brian James. Quoting from Brian’s own page at the Voiceover Universe site, it’s no surprise:

Various deliveries but the money read is a sarcastic egotistical read..I think I am best at that and frankly on that matter my opinion is all that matters…ha!

His Voiceover Universe page has a number of tributes, and a message from his brother.

Brian has also been the voice of WTAM’s “Big One” sister talker WLW/700 Cincinnati, which not only netted him another monster 50,000 watt signal…but also, a presence on XM Satellite Radio channel 173.

We’ll make the assumption that Brian James came to do WTAM shortly after the two Ohio talkers became sister stations under the Jacor/Clear Channel umbrella.

NERW and other trade sites say Brian James died Friday of a heart attack, at the age of 48. Far, far too early…

ROMONA: We already knew that Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 primary anchor Romona Robinson was about to become the subject of a profile by Cleveland Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington, but it finally happened over the weekend.

We’ll leave the personal profile part in Ms. Washington’s hands, but some comments stood out.

For one, about the “risky” solo anchor format…both Romona and WKYC news director Rita Andolsen speak openly about not pairing Robinson with another anchor after the non-contract renewal of co-anchor Tim White:

Andolsen said the solo-anchor format is a bit risky but Robinson is a proven talent in the Cleveland market. “I would not have tried it with anybody but Romona,” she said.

Some of the changes surrounding Romona’s solo anchor role have been noticable to viewers since day one:

The solo-anchor format is quicker-paced and calls for heavy reporter involvement, Robinson explained. During the newscast, she will ask reporters questions, so as 6 p.m. approaches, she chats with them about their stories.

In effect, the station’s reporters, along with sports anchor Jim Donovan and weather anchor Betsy Kling, have become the “rotating second anchor”. Any given moment, when viewers tune into Channel 3 News, they’re likely to see a second person sitting alongside Romona in the chair formerly occupied by Tim White.

Oh, speaking of Romona’s former co-anchor…he provides Julie Washington with (as always) nice words about Robinson:

White remembers Robinson as a friend he could joke with and also discuss serious issues such as race, education and politics.

“Sure, she’s charming, glamorous and dresses like a Hollywood star,” said White, via e-mail from his home in Cody, Wyo. “But she always remembers where she came from, and the strong support she had from the beginning — especially from her mom, her teachers, and her faith.”

We’d forgotten that Tim was headed to Wyoming after leaving Channel 3, as Washington pointed out in her December article about his departure from the station:

He’ll spend time in Cody, Wyo., where his brother Dan and mother Jean live. White built a five-bedroom ranch there about 20 years ago; it looks out on Yellowstone National Park. He also runs a media production and consulting business in Cody.

MORE JUNK: We’re trying to bury this one, because we don’t have much information, and we’re tired of writing about the ongoing job loss parade in local media.

But OMW hears unconfirmed rumblings that about four off-air staffers at Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 “FOX 8” in Cleveland are the latest to be shown the door to the Other Side of Employment. We’re told this happened over the past couple of weeks or so.

Again, in 2009, word about station letting go four people is almost not “new”…it’s “normal”…

SPEAKING OF BROADCASTING JOBS: OMW readers have told us about the closure of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, which fanned out to nearly 30 branches from its beginnings in that eastern state.

“CSB” apparently shut down when its new owner’s bank accounts were seized by PNC/National City Bank, the latter formerly based in Cleveland.

We’ve done some Google searching, and we believe CSB was not affiliated with the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, which has a campus in Independence…and its own network of sister schools, including one opened in the past year or so in Columbus.

Though it would appear OCB is not swept up in the problems affecting the non-affiliated Connecticut school, we’ll duly note that in general, that training people for new broadcasting jobs seems a bit iffy these days…given the current state of the media business and the economy (see item above).

Over in Connecticut, newspapers report that the family of the school’s founder and former owner are trying to mount a new effort to replace the closed CSB, at least at its primary campus…


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