No Connection Monday

It’s pretty much All Quiet on the Media Front, with not much to pick up for this Monday update. But we wanted to let our readers know that we’re around…somehow…

SAVAGE VISIT: When talk WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron” evening host Tom Erickson goes on vacation, the Akron market station will plug in one of its syndicated offerings…most of them usually consigned to regular late night/weekend clearances due to the full-time local talk schedule on WNIR.

Until Westwood One dropped his show, Lars Larson’s evening program filled this role for the station. It was an easy move, since Larson’s national show airs weeknights 7-10 PM live.

(WNIR carries the first hour of Westwood One’s Jim Bohannon at 10 PM as a part of the Erickson “fill-in” rotation….before joining “Jimbo” as usual, live after 11 PM.)

But Westwood One no longer carries “The Lars Larson Show”, and WNIR has not followed Larson’s move to new syndicator Compass Media Networks. Larson’s former weekend clearance on WNIR will be covered by local host Bob Earley starting next Saturday.

With WNIR’s Erickson taking part in a family wedding in Florida, what played on WNIR on Thursday and Friday nights last week?

It’s a show with some history in the market…the program hosted by controversial Talk Radio Network evening host Michael Savage, who once aired on Clear Channel crosstown talk WHLO/640, and also was heard on Salem talk WHK/1420 in Cleveland.

WHLO dropped Savage before the San Francisco-based host made his latest round of controversial remarks regarding autism. It now airs Citadel Media evening host Mark Levin, who has become a reliable option for stations weary of Savage’s…uh…unstable antics.

WHK rather pointedly dropped Savage after the autism flap, with Salem Cleveland general manager Mark Jaycox calling him a “knucklehead” and moving quickly to replace him. Levin also gained a clearance there.

We don’t know if Savage will somehow land in the regular WNIR schedule as one of the regular stable of late night/weekend syndicated hosts. And as noted, the station has now carved out 6 hours of local programming in that rotation with Earley’s new show.

For the moment, there’s no indication that the Savage appearance was anything more than TRN hoping to sell WNIR on carrying the show regularly.

WNIR recently started carrying TRN mid-morning host Laura Ingraham (please note spelling, Broadcast Park) in late weekend evenings, where her show will air after Earley’s program. The station also carries TRN’s Tammy Bruce and Jerry Doyle late into Saturday nights.

We hear the syndicator does a “hard sell” trying to get clearances for its other shows…which would probably explain why former Savage and Ingraham affiliate WHLO airs TRN’s Rusty Humphries in late evenings weekdays.

We heard the station’s board op, Friday night, note that at least some WNIR listeners had called in and liked what they heard. We’d assume that others weren’t as happy.

And as far as we know, Tom Erickson is back in his regular chair at the Talk of Brady Lak…er…Akron tonight from 7-11 PM.

There’s no indication to us that the station would pick up Savage or any other syndicated show except as weekend or late-night fill…so perhaps if TRN manages to sell WNIR on “The Savage Nation”, it’d air late nights in a slot currently filled by Salem’s Mike Gallagher. That would make sense to us, since Gallagher now gets a live, mid-morning clearance on the company’s WHK…

AN ICON LEAVES THE TUBE: The era of iconic, high-paid local TV news anchors is definitely coming to a close…and it’s happening in Dayton.

Since Dayton is a fringe market for us – basically shared, in part, with our colleague Jeremy Moses’ Tri-State Media Watch out of the Cincinnati area – we don’t pay a lot of attention to it.

But our readers in the area tell us that the retirement of Cox CBS affiliate WHIO/7 anchor Jim Baldridge is a Big Deal down there.

From the station website:

After a broadcasting career spanning five decades, News Center 7 Anchor Jim Baldridge will be retiring from WHIO-TV at the end of August. “I am very grateful to the people of the Miami Valley for welcoming me into their homes, and to WHIO-TV for a long and fulfilling career in one of the most respected newsrooms in the country,” says Baldridge.

During his 37 years at WHIO-TV, Baldridge has traveled throughout the Miami Valley, across the country and around the world, to bring stories home to Channel 7 viewers.

One of our regular readers in Southwest Ohio is Rich Emery, who’s been helping us track the digital TV conversion in other parts of Ohio from his base in Hamilton(!). He tells us:

I recall when he was a newbie at WHIO, working at that time with Don Wayne (Dayton’s version of Walter Cronkite, an avuncular and completely trustworthy news source). Jim stepped into Don’s shoes and carried on almost without pause.

Won’t be the same down here without him!

Though Lima native Baldridge has been with WHIO-TV for 37 years, and would presumably be a natural candidate to call it a career, his retirement still a symbol of the changing world of TV news.

Oh, he’ll be replaced, unlike WKYC/3’s Tim White in Cleveland…who wasn’t there for 37 years, but wasn’t replaced when the station and anchor couldn’t come to terms on a new contract last year.

Quoting the WHIO-TV story again:

News Center 7 Anchor James Brown will be assuming the anchor responsibilities for the 5pm and 6pm newscasts along with his current duties anchoring News Center 7 at 5:30pm with Cheryl McHenry and 11pm with Letitia Perry. Brown, who was born in Wilmington and lived in Lebanon, has been with WHIO-TV for the past seven years.

“We’ve very fortunate to have a strong journalist like James ready to continue the tradition of Jim and the other great news anchors here at News Center 7,” says WHIO-TV News Director David Bennallack.

“Strong journalist” or no, will WHIO-TV be dealing with replacing HIM in another 30 years or so?

Even though Cox is still considered a relatively old-line, traditional media company, we’re wondering what the role of a “television news anchor” will be in the mid-21st Century, or if the entire concept will seem as dated as black and white TV…


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