RTN’s Second Cleveland Market Affiliate

NORTH CANTON, OHIO —Well, technically, Image Video LPTV combo WIVM-LP 52 Canton/WIVN-LP 29 Newcomerstown/Dover/New Philadelphia and WIVX-LP 65/Loudonville is actually the first Retro Television Network affiliate in Northeast Ohio.

While waiting for the announced June 1st flip of Media-Com LPTV combo WAOH-LP 29 Akron/W35AX 35 Cleveland to RTN programming, OMW got word that the WIVM/WIVN/WIVX folks beat “The Cat” to the RTN switch.

The Canton-based stations launched the new RTN (RTV?) programming Friday afternoon at 1:30, and a drive down I-77 South with our Remote Viewing Equipped OMW Mobile confirmed the switch.

We’re not sure how the move affects local programming on either “The CAT” or WIVM et al.

Earlier Friday, we saw the new RTN feed on WIVM and company relaying RTN’s showing of “The Incredible Hulk”, though the TitanTV schedule for WIVM had “The Royle Touch” (a locally produced painting show).

But just this 8 PM hour, WIVM cut from the RTN schedule to air the long-running local religious program “Plus or Minus 60” with Canton religious TV veteran Denny Hazen and his wife Marge.

We get the idea that there is a good deal of local flexibility built into the RTN schedule.

But we don’t know if WIVM will continue to do a TV simulcast of talk WHBC/1480’s morning drive show hosted by Fred Chenevey and Pam Cook. And we don’t know if “The CAT”, when the Kent-based LPTVers take RTN next week, will continue to air various local call-in shows in the early evening hours.

Yes, we mean you, Steve French, whenever you come back from your vacation… well deserved, we’re sure, for being a prime factor in the number one ratings of that WNIR morning show with Stan What’s-His-Name-The-Dirty-Joke-Guy, Jim The-Guy-Who’s-Not-Steve and Maggie Who’s-She-How-Did-A-Woman-Get-In-Here.


(We kid…we kid…)

At least from the WIVM side of this, we expect more answers coming soon…which we’ll post here in our next update on the topic…


ODTV: It’s About The Timing

Here we are, just two weeks and one day away from the now-set-in-stone (we presume) digital TV transition date of June 12th.

And as we get closer, the timing gets clearer.

Read our full item, with significant updates about the digital transition in the Cleveland market, on our Ohio Digital TV blog

A TV Thursday

We’re in catch up mode again…


As noted below, The Retro Television Network, that treasure-trove of classic TV shows (“Magnum P.I”, “The Incredible Hulk”, The Rockford Files”, etc.), will air in the Cleveland market starting Monday, June 1st on Media-Com LPTV combo WAOH-LP 29 Akron/W35AX Cleveland…known on air as “The CAT”.

(For those who have forgotten, that stands for “The Cleveland-Akron Television Network”.)

As it turns out, the Plain Dealer’s Julie Washington had this announcement last week, as did the Beacon Journal’s Rich Heldenfels. (We can’t find Rich’s “Heldenfiles” column which carried the announcement online, but we’re told it appeared in the Dead Trees edition of the Beacon Journal last Saturday.)

The station is a sister to Media-Com’s better known radio properties…talk WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron” and sports-to-become-talk WJMP/1520 Kent/(Add Your Own Cities Here). OK, one better known property, as WJMP’s listener base could probably fit into our living room.

Retro Television Network itself has gone through a few changes, including ownership – former now-bankrupt owner Equity Media Holdings ended up flipping it to a former company executive, who had to scramble when Equity dropped satellite distribution of RTN late last year.

The disruption didn’t last long, and even new RTN affiliates like Cox NBC affiliate WTOV-DT 9.2 Steubenville were able to pick up with the network not long after.

Now, back to “The CAT”.

Channels 29 and 35 have been running various LPTV-oriented networks like America One and the Urban America Television Network, with a smattering of low-budget local programming mixed in.

Among the list of shows, a Monday night sports talk show hosted by Akron Radio Icon, Broadcast Superstar, Future Hall of Famer and OMW reader Steve French, known in real life as morning co-host on WNIR’s morning drive fun-fest with Stan Piatt, Jim Midock and Maggie Fuller.

We’re pretty sure that he hasn’t driven “Sportstalk with Steve French” to number one in the ratings, but that’s obviously not his fault.

Even if 29/35 featured programming giving live gold bars away on the air, “The CAT” simulcast never be number one, and may not even show up in the ratings.

If you’re lucky, you might get a decent watchable over-air signal out of 29 if you’re near its Brimfield transmitter site in Portage County (co-located with WNIR), or out of 35 if you’re near its antenna in the Parma antenna farm.

The signal reach for the stations are roughly equivalent to WJMP for 29, and to WVIZ-DT’s temporary digital facility for 35. (Only the 10 kW WVIZ-DT signal is at least not snowy where it is received. Oh, and more on that later on ODTV.)

Here at the OMW World Headquarters near the “BatCave” somewhere in the former Adelphia Cleveland service area, our small antennas get a snowy, semi-viewable but listenable signal out of 35, and a slightly worse signal out of 29.

So, it’s no surprise that probably the bulk of whatever viewership “The CAT” gets is via cable, where it is a long-time occupant of Time Warner Cable channel 14 in Akron, along with carriage in Macedonia (and we believe Kent) on TWC channel 29, and Cox Cleveland’s digital channel 132, along with carriage on Wadsworth Cable channel 21.

We got that list from the “RTV Affiliates” map on the Retro TV website, where we noticed (along with many of our readers) that the network is now using the name “RTV” instead of “RTN”.

Here at the OMW World Headquarters, the TWC system that was formerly the Adelphia Cuyahoga Valley system never picked up the 29/35 feed.

We’re wondering – is this potentially more popular, and higher profile, programming enough to get “The CAT” clearance on TWC’s Cleveland-based system? We’ll assume that even a digital cable carriage would be preferable to the station, and its viewers, compared to no cable carriage at all.

And though “The CAT” does not have, and will likely never have, over-air digital coverage…a good place for it on the TWC Cleveland lineup would probably be next to WUAB-DT 43.2’s “This TV”, which at some point is scheduled for placement in the Time Warner Cable digital lineup…

TWC HDTV UPDATE: More and more of our readers have checked in confirming the addition of the latest wave of HDTV channels in Northeast Ohio’s Time Warner system – including the addition of The Smithsonian Channel and Mav TV for HD Tier subscribers.

We’re also hearing that apparently, Universal HD has migrated into that extra-cost tier…which will lose HDNet and HDNet Movies on the 31st due to Time Warner dumping those channels nationally. And despite the name similar to the name of his NBA Dallas Mavericks, “Mav TV” apparently has no connection to HDNet/HDNet Movies owner Mark Cuban.

At least one OMW reader in Brecksville tells us that they’ve gotten the new HD Tier duo of Smithsonian and Mav TV, but have not received the other channels that launched on May 26th…

RTN To "The CAT"

Yes, we have heard that Retro Television Network has found a home in the Cleveland market…well, something of a home on Media-Com LPTV combo WAOH-LP 29/W35AX Cleveland "The CAT".

The station is, we believe, set to take the RTN programming June 1st.

We will have more details later tonight or tomorrow morning…and many comments…

WJMP Taking Off The Cleats

As it turns out, OMW hears that Media-Com Akron market sports daytimer WJMP/1520 Kent/Ravenna/Streetsboro/Parts-of-Stow/Akron-on-a-good day “Fox Sports Radio 1520” won’t be changing sports radio network teams when Fox Sports Radio moves to Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 Akron “SportsRadio 1350” on June 8.

It’ll be changing format leagues, as it were.

We’ve learned that instead of picking up the Sporting News Radio affiliation WARF is leaving behind, the “little brother” station of Media-Com’s WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron” will mimic its much bigger sibling and move to talk radio….but unlike WNIR, it will depend on a lineup of syndicated talk programming.

The WJMP schedule appears set, and the bulk of it will be provided by the Talk Radio Network folks:

6-9 AM: Mancow. Chicago-based Erich “Mancow” Muller has a dual radio life, and WJMP will be picking up his Talk Radio Network-syndicated morning show.

We haven’t heard his morning show, syndicated through TRN’s “FM” division, but we get the idea that his act in general is more reliably conservative/political vs. his “shock jock” days. Mancow has been a regular contributor to cable TV’s Fox News Channel, though we don’t know if he still appears there.

Mancow also hosts a local midday show on Chicago’s WLS/890…and it was on that show that the host recently underwent a highly-publicized “waterboarding” simulation.

9 AM-Noon: Laura Ingraham. Another TRN product, who used to air locally on Salem talk WHK/1420 Cleveland and Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron. Salem and WHK dropped Ingraham in a contract dispute, replacing her on all of its stations with in-house product Mike Gallagher. (Who, oddly enough, runs late nights on WNIR!)

Noon-3 PM: Michael Savage (delayed from previous night). The third TRN host in a row, who also once aired on WHK and WHLO, but who was bounced from both stations – WHLO before, and WHK after – Savage got into hot water for autism-related remarks. As we reported here a while ago, Savage’s show aired 7-9 PM live for a few days on WNIR as vacation fill-in for local evening host Tom Erickson.

3-6 PM: Lou Dobbs. The sole non-TRN host on WJMP’s new weekday schedule. The CNN host casts himself as a fierce “independent”. His radio show is syndicated by United Stations.

6-9 PM: Michael Savage (live). Is six hours of “The Savage Nation” too much for one listener? We’ll find out in the summer. In the heart of winter, WJMP will sign off before Savage’s live show starts, so listeners will hear him the following weekday in that above 12-3 PM time slot.

(For that matter, later sign-on times in the winter will take a chunk out of the morning drive “Mancow” time slot.)

Weekends: Aside from a Lou Dobbs replay Saturday from 8-11 AM, and carriage of Citadel veteran financial advice talker Bob Brinker live 4-7 PM Saturday and Sunday, the rest of the WJMP weekend lineup will come from the WOR Radio Network (shows about travel, pets, car repair, etc.).

As far as we know, the station will not have any local programming, which considering WNIR’s schedule, makes sense. But the new WJMP lineup has ties to existing syndicated programming in off-hours on otherwise-locally programmed WNIR.

WNIR carries Laura Ingraham on delay weekend nights 10 AM-midnight, after local host Bob Earley’s “Earley in the Evening” show.

And before local talker Tom Erickson launched his Saturday 4-7 PM show (and “The Advice Line” with Bob Lewis took that Sunday slot), WNIR used to run Bob Brinker’s ABC Radio “MoneyTalk” show. Same show, same host, just an ownership and now-name change to Citadel Media.

We don’t know when the format flip will be made at WJMP. We’d assume that it will happen June 8, when FSR and Premiere’s Jim Rome go to “SportsRadio 1350”, but we could be wrong…we thought they’d pick up Sporting News Radio, and they won’t be…

Time Warner’s May HDTV Channel Wave

The latest group of new HDTV channels has arrived in most local Time Warner Cable service areas in Northeast Ohio.

OMW readers report that the HD versions of the Golf Channel. CNN, FX, Fox News Channel, and Science Channel have shown up as of earlier today. Digital Basic subscribers should also have the HD version of the National Geographic Channel.

By tomorrow, HD Tier subscribers should see the history-oriented Smithsonian Channel, and Mav TV.

To the best of our understanding, the channels are available to Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio subscribers in all areas that have already seen Switched Digital Video turned on. If that’s not you, you probably also don’t have the channels that had been promised for late April…which are also now available in the SDV areas.

We wish we could pinpoint all the areas with and without SDV.

Generally, the Akron/Canton/Youngstown area “legacy” TWC systems seem to have the new technology, and much of the Cleveland-based former Adelphia systems also seem to have converted, including the one which serves OMW World Headquarters next to the Bat Cave. (We are getting all the new channels, including the ones released earlier today.)

We’d say the former Adelphia/Western Reserve Cable system out of Macedonia doesn’t appear to have SDV “turned on” yet, but we can’t be 100% sure. Other readers in areas like Conneaut and Bainbridge also appear to be without SDV and the two most recent HD channel groups.

But OMW hears that some of that work…to open up the SDV system and let the HD channels flow…could be done by the end of this coming week.

The addition of Smithsonian Channel and Mav TV to the HD Tier comes just days before two stalwarts in that extra cost tier go away.

Multichannel News and many other sources report that HDNet and HDNet Movies, the all-HD services operated by NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, will exit Time Warner Cable lineups nationwide on May 31st.

Quoting national TWC spokeswoman Robyn Watson in the article:

“There’s a limited appeal for the programming. In a world with more than 100 HD channels, being in HD is not enough. We are adding other channels in HD to give our customers more choice.”

Cuban disputes that contention, and says his viewers shop providers just to get the two channels. (“Drop me, and they’ll go to satellite”?)

But it’s pretty clear that while Cuban’s two channels do offer some unique programming, they were much more vital to cable providers when there were only four or five other HD channels available…and most of them not 24/7 HD operations…

Supersized Memorial Day Weekend Update

We’ve been accumulating a Supersized Pile of Items here at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), and it’s time to reduce the pile. The holiday weekend is as “good a time as any” to do so.

And on behalf of the entire editorial staff of Ohio Media Watch, we mark the holiday to honor those who served and gave their lives for us…

WHO’S #1?: Regular OMW readers know that we don’t spend a lot of time in ratings land, for either TV or radio stations.

The reason is simple: We don’t have the unvarnished data, and ratings can be twisted, turned, folded, spindled and mutilated to make just about any station “look good”.

So, we’re mostly curious observers to the latest TV ratings battle in Cleveland, the battle for ratings supremacy for 11 PM newscasts.

Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 claimed #1 status for “Channel 3 News” in three news time slots in the most recently released ratings – at 6 PM, at 7 PM and 11 PM.

Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s “NewsChannel 5” is crowing about reaching the top of the 11 PM pile.


From each side…first, from Channel 3, and “Director’s Cut” blogger Frank Macek’s item, complete with a “Thank You” video from anchor Romona Robinson:

WKYC sweeps up with a nice win in HH’s (households), adults 18+ and adults 25-54 – the key demos at 6 & 11 PM and #1 adults 25-54 and adults 18-49 at 7 PM – a claim no one else in town can make (even though they may try to fool you).


As for the other side of this dispute, “NewsChannel 5” has posted a video promo on its website, claiming to be the “NEW number one newscast at 11 PM”, and from a station press release:

WEWS Channel 5 has captured several major victories during the just completed May ratings period, including finishing No. during the 11 p.m. news race. NewsChannel5 at 11 p.m. was first with women 25-54 (3.8 rating/11.3 share) and was the only late newscast to grow their audience from the previous ratings period.


We assume that’s a missing “1” after “No.” up there. And we also assume that Channel 5 wouldn’t make the “NEW number one newscast at 11 PM” claim solely based on its rating among women 25-54.

Which goes to why we don’t spend a lot of time dealing with the minutae of ratings reports.

Traditionally, in “We’re Both #1!” battles like this, one station picks up a slightly different set of data than the others, if it’s not indeed a statistical tie. For one, one station may include its weekend news ratings in the overall claim…while another may stick with Monday through Friday ratings…

WHILE WE’RE AT 13TH AND LAKESIDE: We haven’t yet shared news from last week, when WVPX/23 Akron parent ION Media Networks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

We didn’t have much to say about it, because for now, it appears the ION folks will continue to operate as per usual, including picking up new entertainment programming. This is from the ION press release:

The company also confirmed that it is in active discussions for the acquisition of further content for the 2009/10 television season, including both off-network syndicated content as well as opportunistic original productions, which it anticipates announcing in coming weeks.

ION can apparently do so because some of its senior lenders are chipping in another $25 million in its restructuring process, to keep the network going.

We found that release quoted on Frank Macek’s “Director’s Cut” blog, which is significant for one reason…we found out from Frank’s item that WVPX never actually left 13th and Lakeside after the former-PAX TV and WKYC-owner Gannett split ways:

Although TV23’s transmitter is located in Akron, all of its local operations are based at the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center here in Cleveland, where it rents space.

The WKYC Digital Broadcast Center also, in addition to its own operations, is the technical and studio home of regional sports network SportsTime Ohio…

AND WHILE WE’RE AT 30TH AND EUCLID: It’s become an Internet Viral Video sensation, and the folks at WEWS are helping to fuel the flames.

While the station’s anchors were getting ready to close out the 11 PM edition of “NewsChannel 5” on Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers were closing out Game 2 of their NBA Eastern Conference Finals series with the Orlando Magic.

The “NewsChannel 5” folks were lamenting a late shot by the Magic that looked like the end of the game for the hometown team…and then, THIS happened:

The video is from the YouTube page of ESPN, which featured the video on “SportsCenter”. WEWS also offered it on NewsNet5.com and on YouTube.

With a 10 point Cavaliers loss in Game 3 against the Magic, we’ll assume that “NewsChannel 5” anchors were not nearly as animated on Sunday night…

BISHOP OUT: OMW hears that D.A. Peterson standards WDPN/1310 Alliance has parted ways with veteran news director Bob Bishop.

We hear Bishop “left the building” on Thursday of last week.

We don’t know at this time if his departure was budget-related, or for some other reason…

THE “SAW IS BACK: Regular OMW readers know that one of our hobbies is tracking former local sportscaster Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton.

“Hacksaw” was heard in the 1970’s doing an evening sports talk show on then-Susquehanna talk WHLO/640 Akron (now owned by Clear Channel), and radio work for the World Hockey Association’s Cleveland Crusaders, heard on then-WWWE/1100 “3WE” in Cleveland (now Clear Channel talk WTAM).

Now, Hamilton has picked up another gig that may land him on some local radio stations this fall.

He’s been signed to do play-by-play for Compass Media Networks’ new package of syndicated Sunday afternoon NFL games.

Hamilton will be joined by former NFL player Curtis Conway doing commentary. Quoting AllAccess:

HAMILTON and CONWAY will split duties calling SUNDAY afternoon NFL games with the previously announced duo of CHRIS CARRINO — longtime voice of NEW JERSEY NETS — and former NFL player and NFL NETWORK analyst BRIAN BALDINGER.

And quoting Hacksaw:

“The world stops at 1p on SUNDAY afternoons for NFL football,” HACKSAW said. “It means so much to the fans across AMERICA. We will put a special signature on our NFL broadcasts. I am glad to join COMPASS MEDIA NETWORKS. Starting something brand new is so very exciting.”

Hacksaw is no stranger to local radio NFL play-by-play…