All Over The Map

It’s a typical Monday, as we let items free that need their freedom…

GOING DOWN: It’s no surprise to anyone who follows population figures, but the folks at Nielsen Media Research have announced that the Cleveland TV market continues to lose position in its market rankings.

From the TV ratings giant’s release:

The Top 10 local markets, known in the industry as Designated Market Areas or DMAs, will remain the same this season, with a few rank changes in the Top 20. Moving up are Seattle, from 14 to 13, and Denver from 18 to 16. Tampa, Miami and Cleveland are each down one rank.

That drops Cleveland on the new list (PDF link) for 2009/2010 to America’s 18th largest market, down from 17. Cleveland’s still a top 20 market, but hanging by a thread…if the current population trends continue, that will change in about three years.

Columbus faired worse, actually, as far as losing rank. It fell two ranks, from 32 to 34. Cincinnati gained one place, and moves ahead of Columbus to become the 33nd largest TV market in the country.

Dayton drops one rank, from 64 to 65. Toledo holds steady at 73. Youngstown drops one place to 110. Wheeling-Steubenville is unchanged at 159. Lima is unchanged at 186. Parkersburg(/Marietta) drops one place at 194. And tiny Zanesville is still the 203rd largest market in America…

NO GAMES FOR NOW: OMW informed you earlier that Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio Network (“NEON”) was trying to add more Akron area games to its extensive high school football broadcast schedule…which already had plenty of games for Cleveland and Canton area viewers.

Well, not yet, at any rate.

TWC local VP and OMW reader Bill Jasso tells us that the cable company was “unable to get an agreement with the local production company to do the Akron area games” due to financial terms, as in the pricetag presented by that unnamed production company being too high for TWC.

TWC’s Travis Reynolds says if any Akron area games are added, they’ll be announced on a “game by game basis”, with the package deal apparently out of consideration now…

GLENN BECK…WHERE?: We had to ask around, double-check and confirm this one.

Premiere syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Beck has landed a Youngstown-market affiliate, and it’s not at all the kind of station you’d expect.

An OMW reader tipped us that “The Glenn Beck Program” started airing live, 9 AM-noon, last week…on…oh, wait, we have to drag this out.

No, not on Clear Channel talk WKBN/570 Youngstown, which would be the natural affiliate choice for the syndicated conservative talker. WKBN programs the 9 AM-noon time slot locally with program director Dan Rivers’ show, in the time slot long occupied by the late Dan Ryan.

Beck’s program, indeed, shows up nowhere on the WKBN program schedule, even in weekend or repeat form.

It has, however, landed on a quite unusual affiliate – Beacon Media Group Christian/eclectic rocker WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA, the Youngstown market rimshot known as “Indie 107.1”.

No, we’re not kidding.

Our ears in the market tells that despite running Beck’s show Monday through Saturday in the 9-noon slot (yes, even a weekend repeat), “Indie” maintains its locally programmed mix of Christian rock music and other compatible tunes outside of those hours.

That noise you hear is coming from Central Point OR, where Talk Radio Network sales folks are probably trying to talk to Beacon’s Harold Glunt as we put up this item, trying to get him to surround Beck’s show with their own programming. (OK, so we’re just speculating. TRN’s Michael Savage and Phil Hendrie air weeknights on WKBN.)

HE’S ADAM STEVENS, SAMANTHA’S SON, APPARENTLY: Like most local TV stations do during locally-aired NFL football broadcasts, Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland airs “halftime news” during its Cleveland Browns contests.

Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 did so last year when it was the local outlet for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcasts involving the Browns. The NFL requires that cable networks sell local rights to cable-only broadcasts in markets where the teams in the game are based.

And like WJW, WKYC records these spots…it makes no sense to force anchors to sit around in the studio when the time of the report depends on the timing of the game. And these mini-newscasts are almost extended promos for the late news, anyway.

WKYC’s “halftime news” in the middle of Saturday night’s Browns preseason game with the Tennessee Titans featured a couple of news stories, a weather forecast, and sports…delivered by weekend sports anchor Dave Chudowsky.

Then, two minutes after the newscast ended, it was back to the live broadcast of the game, and right before kickoff, a recap from sideline reporter Dave Chudowsky.

Huh?

If you didn’t know the news was taped before, seeing Chudowsky transform from a suit (on the WKYC set) to wearing an orange-colored polo shirt with the WKYC logo (on the field) in two minutes was enough to make you wonder if his name is really Clark Kent.

Even if Channel 3’s helicopter was still in service, it couldn’t transfer him from 13th and Lakeside to the stadium site in under two minutes, with a clothing change, even if the copter landed on the field right where Chudowsky’s live shot took place.

Heh.

A suggestion to our friends at WKYC – skip Chudowsky’s presence in the taped halftime news entirely, and have anchor Jeff Maynor read whatever sports headlines lead back into the game.

Or, put a big red “C” on Chudowsky’s chest…and rush him to the helicopter pad at 13th and Lakeside.

Or maybe invoke the classic TV memory of “Bewitched”‘s Samantha Stevens, as we did in this subheader. Adam was her warlock son…

SPEAKING OF WKYC’S BROWNS PRESEASON GAMES: It took us a while, but we found out which Dayton outlet has been running the Browns’ practice contests this preseason.

And as pointed out in a graphic during last Saturday’s game, it’s Cox CBS affiliate WHIO/7. Well, sort of.

We can’t find the original item about it on WHIO’s website, but the Dayton station committed to three Browns preseason games this year from the feed based at WKYC.

However, only one of those games, the Browns’ contest with the Detroit Lions, aired on WHIO’s main signal. The other two games, including last Saturday’s game with the Titans, aired on WHIO’s weather subchannel (WHIO-DT 7.2).

Notice that we’re talking about it in the past tense, and we said WHIO committed to “three” games…the station is not carrying this Thursday’s pre-season final Browns preseason game against the Chicago Bears, either on the main WHIO signal or 7.2.

As Dayton’s CBS affiliate, WHIO will air at least some Browns games from the national feed in the regular season, though we presume the nearby Bengals will have priority…

Friday Followup

And heading into a Friday, some followups…and one more item…

QUICK EXIT: Thursday morning, we reported that Clear Channel Cleveland market manager Mike Kenney was packing his bags and heading to North Carolina. It’d been officially announced, just an hour or so before our post, that Kenney would take over the market manager post at Clear Channel’s Charlotte cluster.

Back in Cleveland, it was “promotion from within” at Oak Tree, with Gary Mincer taking over as market manager, and George Allen taking Mincer’s place as director of sales.

We’re getting an idea of just how quickly this all happened.

How about “within the hour”?

CC Eastern Region EVP Tom Schurr’s memo went out to folks at Oak Tree, according to the E-mail time stamp, at just after 8:30 AM Thursday.

Consider this from Tom Taylor’s always excellent Taylor on Radio-Info column this morning:

T-R-I hears that Charlotte-based Regional VP Morgan Bohannon got the news that he was out yesterday morning at 8.

So, Bohannon was out at 8 AM, and his replacement (“effective immediately”), Cleveland’s Mike Kenney, was officially announced just a half-hour and change later. Wow.

The turn of events was so quick, Schurr apologized to his Cleveland cluster that he had to use E-mail:

I would prefer to be able to be with you today to make these announcements in person. However, logistical limitations prevent me from doing so. I trust you understand and I will look forward to seeing you all soon.

Meanwhile, T-R-I’s Taylor notes that a call to Charlotte in mid-afternoon still yielded former market manager Bohannon’s voice on a voicemail message. We’re wondering if Mike Kenney was on a plane to Charlotte at that time.

We don’t know what happened in Charlotte, but it seems clear that Clear Channel’s cluster felt it had to make a change there, and quick…

HE LOVES C-TOWN: For more radio interest than sports interest, we had to tune into at least the first segments of Premiere syndicated sports talker Jim Rome’s live broadcast from the studios of his Cleveland affiliate – Good Karma’s WKNR/850 “ESPN 850” – at the Galleria in downtown Cleveland.

And our curiosity was rewarded.

Rome spent much of the show giving America his love letter to Cleveland. He pushed back listener E-mail quips about needing penicillin shots to visit the North Coast, quips about body odor, and other attempts at “Jungle Humor” by his unwashed masses of “clones”.

“Cleveland is a good, good town. No, it’s a great town,” Rome said early in Thursday’s show. The giant of syndicated sports talk radio had a one day visit to “C-Town”, with the live show, sponsor obligations, and a meet-and-greet with listeners Thursday at the downtown Cleveland location of Morton’s, the upscale steakhouse chain.

And Rome noted that indeed, as we suspected, he doesn’t do those huge “tour stops” anymore… but told listeners he took “about one second” to say yes to WKNR’s offer to bring him to Cleveland for a fourth time.

There’s a good reason Rome loves Cleveland, and it’s not about the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers.

“The Jungle”, says Rome, may not have turned into what it is without Northeast Ohio. In specific, WKNR was one of Rome’s very early large market affiliates.

The host told the story of starting the show from scratch, and lining up affiliates here and there. But those stations were in small markets…and Rome had hope that a big market affiliate in a big sports town would “take a chance” on the show.

Here, that was WKNR…at the time, “SportsRadio 1220”. We don’t know which group owned the station when Rome’s show was added 12 years ago – a quick Wikipedia search would indicate that 1997 saw the station owned by either original operator Cablevision, or Jacor.

But whatever incarnation WKNR has taken, Rome has been there ever since.

Since 1997, WKNR has moved from 1220 to 850, and has gone through roughly 35 owners. OK, maybe not 35, but it was even a sister station to Clear Channel’s WTAM/1100 at one point – WTAM was there basically just long enough to swipe the Cleveland Indians rights from 1220, moving the team to 1100.

It was bounced between Jacor and Capstar, companies which don’t exist in 2009 except as Clear Channel license holding subsidiaries. Non-sports broadcaster Salem owned WKNR (and was responsible for the 1220-to-850 move in the Great Cleveland Frequency Swap) for many years, until selling it to Craig Karmazin’s Beaver Dam WI-based Good Karma Broadcasting.

Rome cites Cleveland and Houston as his first two markets of any size to take a chance on the syndicated show – he already had a local base in San Diego.

And Rome says with the success seen by “The Jungle” in Cleveland and Houston, other large market sports stations “fell into line”…

HE’S BAAAACK: It’s a very different world for a one-time Mahoning Valley icon.

But since his halcyon days as the most powerful man in Youngstown, Jim Traficant is coming back not as the Valley’s representative in Congress (“Beam me up!”), but as a man coming off a long prison term.

A commentary by Youngstown Regional Chamber president Tom Humphries, appearing in the Youngstown-based Business Journal, reminds us that Traficant is about to become a free man:

Now, seven years later, Mr. Traficant has served his sentence and will be coming home on Sept. 2.

We’ll leave it to Mr. Humphries to talk about his concern that some in the Mahoning Valley are celebrating the return of a man who was thrown out of Congress as a result of his federal felony convictions.

Why are we weighing in?

We seem to recall that before he headed behind bars, there was talk that Traficant “would be offered” a regular talk show on Clear Channel talk WKBN/570 in Youngstown. We don’t know how serious that reported offer was, at the time. We do believe he filled in once or twice.

Clear Channel Youngstown market manager Bill Kelly is an OMW reader, but we won’t bother him on this one.

Though Traficant would be far from the first convicted felon to move into talk radio after prison (G. Gordon Liddy, Providence’s Buddy Cianci, and those are just the first two names that come to mind), we’d have to think that the landscape has changed somewhat since those initial rumblings.

Even now, Traficant has his champions in the Mahoning Valley. The man could basically do anything short of murder, and still garner something of a following.

But if our sense of the local mood in Youngstown is correct, most of the region has “moved on” from the slavish devotion to the guy with the messed up hairpiece.

Radio’s changed as well. The aforementioned Bill Kelly has been able to keep three local hosts in his weekday schedule on WKBN – morning driver Robert Mangino, midday host/program director Dan Rivers, and afternoon drive staple Ron Verb – despite financial pressures that are surely coming from Clear Channel corporate.

To us, at least, taking a gamble on a once-very-popular local political icon, just off a prison term, doesn’t sound like a good choice for South Avenue.

We could, as always, be wrong…

Thursday’s Oddities

Aside from our breaking news a little earlier (see item below), Thursday’s list is just as mixed up as our last entry on Wednesday…

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL?: As we’ve noted, Northeast Ohio’s high school football season kicks off this week…and in fact, tonight.

(Back in the Dark Ages, when your Primary Editorial Voice[tm] was in high school, teams didn’t play on Thursday nights…but now, they do.)

We’ve kept track of the TV side of high school football coverage, but haven’t mentioned radio…where the “usual suspects” will be there with bells on. Or is that “with cowbells on”?

Rubber City Radio oldies/news WAKR/1590 Akron starts things up early this evening, with a two-hour high school preview show at 5 PM. It’ll air live from the site of the station’s first 2009 football contest, Archbishop Hoban High’s Dowd Field, where Hoban will tangle with Akron Garfield at 7 PM.

WAKR morning drive host and high school football play-by-play voice Ray Horner will lead the charge. The station’s complete high school football schedule is here.

Over at Clear Channel Akron/Canton, talk WHLO/640 will carry its usual schedule of high school games with veteran play-by-play voice Don Ursetti.

WHLO will air games each week on Thursday and Friday, with sister sports WARF/1350 joining in after the Eastern League’s Akron Aeros wrap up their season. With the Aeros having another playoff – and potentially, championship – year, that might take a while.

WHLO will carry a high school football scoreboard show after games on Friday night, with Ken Carmen and Brian Maytze doing the honors. The pair hosted a Sunday morning sports show on the University of Akron’s WZIP/88.1, and Carmen will be heard on another Clear Channel station this fall…as the new play-by-play voice for Ashland University football on the company’s talk WNCO/1340.

Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland’s “High School Hysteria” show is back on the station’s schedule from 6:45 to 10 PM Friday night, and “High School Hysteria Rewind” is scheduled Saturday morning 8-9 AM.

The station’s “High School Hysteria” game of the week Friday is Mayfield vs. Bedford, with Bob Karlovec and Chris Fedor on the call.

WKNR assistant program director/mid-morning sidekick Aaron Goldhammer is again the ringmaster at the controls for “Hysteria”, and the station’s Jason Gibbs is listed for “Rewind” on Saturday morning.

Not to be outdone in Canton, NextMedia talk WHBC/1480 is going full-tilt, with a lengthy schedule of both radio and TV contests.

The TV games, of course, will air on Image Video RTV affiliate WIVM-LP/52 and its simulcasters, and presumbably will also show up as the Canton games on Time Warner Cable’s “NEON” (Northeast Ohio Network) local programming channel.

(Oh, and we’re still waiting for TWC to give us a list of Akron area games they plan to add to “NEON’s” schedule.)

The schedule shows very little overlap between the WIVM/TV games and the radio contests on WHBC itself, except for one game that’s a must simulcast – Massillon vs. McKinley, the Stark County high school game that stops everyone in their tracks, scheduled for October 31st.

A brief visit to our coverage of TV games not hooked up to radio stations, as Fox Sports Ohio opens up its schedule tonight. From a network release:

The action starts on this Thursday, August 27 at 7pm when the West Geauga Wolverines host the Chardon Hilltoppers. Following a history of match-ups yielding 19-19-0, this is the first time in 12 years Chardon and West Geauga are battling.

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME ROMEY?: Premiere Radio syndicated sports talk giant Jim Rome is in town today.

“The Jungle” is in Cleveland for the day, and Rome will broadcast his 12 noon-3 PM national show from the Galleria studios of his Cleveland affiliate, Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850”.

We’re not huge “clones”, as Rome calls his listeners, so we don’t know what happened to the host’s famed “tour stop” events…where he presents a live show at a local venue to thousands of listeners.

Rome’s listener appearance in Cleveland tonight is more upscale and a lot smaller – a dinner event at pricey steakhouse Morton’s…

LISTENER IMPRESSIONS: Christian Voice of Central Ohio Columbus market CCM outlet WCVO/104.9 “The River” passes along word of its latest hire:

WCVO, 104.9 the River has hired Olivia Lomeli as Listener Impressions Agent. Her primary duties will include assisting in organizing and implementing station appearances and events while keeping the station’s image as the highest priority and to super-serve the listener with the highest standards with only about 30% of the job being spent in the office. She will also be communicating with listeners via Facebook and Twitter all day and every day.

Head of Listener Impressions, Lori Midkiff says, “It’s so amazing to be a part of shaping this new type of department and I’m thrilled to have Olivia on board as we venture together in ‘WOW-ing’ our listeners.”

We’re not 100% sure, but we think that job title translates into “promotions assistant” in the real world…with Ms. Midkiff being “promotions director”…

AND ONE ODDITY: AllAccess reports a local non-commercial radio station sale in Northern Ohio:

PORT CLINTON KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS HOME ASSOCIATION is selling the construction permit for noncommercial WHRQ/SANDUSKY, OH to OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE RADIO, INC., DBA ANNUNCIATION RADIO for $25,000.

As it turns out, Annunciation Radio is the Catholic broadcasting group run by Toledo’s Deacon Michael Learned, which has been brokering time on Cumulus talk WTOD/1560 in that market.

This Toledo Blade article from May says Annunciation Radio is also involved in another Northwest Ohio non-commercial construction permit – WNOC/89.7 Bowling Green.

Annunciation Radio’s website proudly lists the upcoming station up front, and the Blade article says Annunciation expects WNOC to hit the air this fall.

We were not familiar with the presence of the WHRQ construction permit in Sandusky, so a quick trip to the FCC database told us that the new station is set for 88.1 FM…a 14.5 kW class B1 outlet with an antenna just 78 meters above average terrain.

That’s likely to get them coverage basically of the immediate Sandusky/Huron/Erie County region, with the Bellevue and Norwalk areas thrown in.

As far as we know, the station hasn’t yet hit the airwaves, though we admit we haven’t exactly gone looking for it while in the so-called “Vacationland” region…

THIS JUST IN: CC Northeast Ohio Management Shuffle, Part Two

UPDATE 8/27/09 2:20 PM: AllAccess reports that Mike Kenney will take the place of “longtime” CC/Charlotte market manager Morgan Bohannon, who is apparently out of that building today…

———–

Just days after we told you that Clear Channel Akron/Canton market manager Dan Lankford was heading to a similar post at the company’s Harrisburg/Allentown PA operations, a bigger shoe has dropped…and that falling footwear is at Oak Tree.

OMW hears that it’s been officially announced – Clear Channel Cleveland market manager Mike Kenney is leaving the building to run the Clear Channel cluster in Charlotte NC.

Back at Oak Tree, Gary Mincer moves up from the Director of Sales post to take over as market manager for Cleveland.

George Allen, presumably not the former football coach, moves up into Mincer’s now-former job as head of sales at Oak Tree….

Making The Midweek Connection

As has been the case recently, we have a bunch of odd, mostly unconnected items that need to be let free…

MORE FOX: It’s not like it was exactly a secret.

We knew that Local TV Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8” was about to lose its 9-10 AM syndicated morning show, “The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet”.

“M&J”‘s run ended months ago, with the announcement that original production would be stopped earlier this year. The show has continued to air on affiliates like “Fox 8” locally, but in reruns.

Mirroring a move by other “M&J” affiliates, WJW is stretching its popular “Fox 8 News In The Morning” to a full five-hour run, from 5 AM-10 AM, starting September 8th.

The station has put up a video promo for the expanded morning show here.

The fifth hour of “Fox 8 News In The Morning” seems like overkill to some, but it’s up against roughly the 10th hour of NBC’s “Today” show over on WKYC/3…

STREAMING ALONG: The last major Cleveland broadcaster not to stream its signals on the Internet has ended its holdout.

It’s part of what turns out to be a nationwide streaming audio effort by Maryland-based Radio One, which is now offering online feeds from its four Cleveland market stations – urban AC WZAK/93.1, hip-hop WENZ/107.9 “Z107.9”, gospel WJMO/1300 “Praise 1300”, and urban talk/brokered WERE/1490 “NewsTalk 1490”.

The “Listen Live” links actually showed up on the stations’ websites a few days ago, but just went “live” during the day on Tuesday.

The new streaming audio capability is part of a rather extensive technical upgrade at Radio One’s Cleveland facility on St. Clair Avenue over the past few months, with studio rebuilds, and audio and data system upgrades.

While we’re electronically looking in on Radio One/Cleveland, we note that WJMO’s Brother Ed Powell is doing some local on-air work to supplement national hosts like morning drive’s Yolanda Adams. We don’t know if he’s voicetracked, live or both.

And speaking of now-former WJMO on-air types, we don’t think we noted that former “Praise 1300” afternoon drive host Ronny Knight ended up in the same time slot at crosstown New Spirit Revival Center gospel competitor WCCD/1000 Parma.

AND SPEAKING OF WCCD: That’s PARMA, despite a legal ID we heard on AM 1000 on Tuesday…proudly proclaiming that the station was “WCCD, Cleveland Heights, Ohio!”

Please check the license and try again, we say in our best imitation of Lily Tomlin’s voice.

The New Spirit Revival Center church is apparently located in Cleveland Heights, but the FCC’s license for WCCD says it is licensed to Parma, and AM 1000 has always been (as far as we can remember) licensed to Parma.

It’s the same problem we fixed for the good folks at Beacon Broadcasting, who were incorrectly identifying WRTK/1540 Niles as being licensed to the nearby Mahoning Valley community of Mineral Ridge…presumably because the station’s transmitter site is near that community.

We don’t know if any WCCD staffers read the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), but you’re welcome in advance for saving the New Spirit center from potential FCC fines for improper legal ID…

AND TRANSLATING DIGITAL: After we noted the applications to convert Ideastream PBS affiliate WVIZ/25’s two eastern translators to digital, we got an update on another coming digital public TV translator in Northeast Ohio.

Western Reserve PBS station manager Bill O’Neil tells OMW that the Kent-based public TV outlet is in the process of converting analog Youngstown translator W58AM into W44CR, a digital replacement to serve Youngstown viewers shadowed by terrain and distance from WNEO/45’s signal out of Salem.

O’Neil says the 1.5 kW facility’s antenna is already mounted – we seem to remember it’s on the tower of NBC affiliate WFMJ/21 just south of downtown Youngstown – and that they’re waiting for delivery of the transmitter.

Expect digital channel 44 to light up somewhere in the September to October time frame.

And this time, we didn’t accidentally give Mr. O’Neil a promotion….

Very Random Tuesday

Clearing out our inbox on a Tuesday makes for a very, very random collection of items…

DIGITAL TRANSLATORS: Unique among major Cleveland market TV stations, Ideastream PBS affiliate WVIZ/25 has maintained low-power translators in locations on the edge of the market for years.

OMW reader Trip Ericson (proprietor of TV information site RabbitEars) gives us the heads up that the pubcaster intends on converting these small transmitters to digital format.

W63CT is licensed to Eastlake, but the 34 kW analog translator seems aimed at the I-90 corridor between Mentor and Geneva, approximately. The low-power digital application would put the station on RF channel 38, and put out 11 kW of power that could extend the station’s range from Euclid to Ashtabula. (Digital TV being what it is, your mileage may vary.)

The application is classified as a “displacement” application. Channel 63 is outside the broadcast TV core (channels 2-51).

Channel 38 was the channel originally sought by Image Video’s WIVM-LP/Canton for its new digital home, but as OMW reported earlier, the Canton LPTV outlet quickly re-filed for channel 39 based on TBN O&O WDLI-DT/Canton’s impending move to channel 49.

Well, at least they didn’t try to use channel 37, like one LPTV applicant recently did in Louisiana. (Bonus points if you know why even asking to locate to channel 37 is a non-starter!)

Displacement is also the reason that WVIZ has filed for a new digital home for W64AK/Conneaut, which resides on out-of-core channel 64, on channel 44.

And assuming it ever gets built, the 5 kW application would vastly extend the station’s service area. The current W64AK facility is licensed for just 145 watts, and would seem to serve just a small chunk of Ashtabula County near Edgewood.

Notice that we said “assuming it ever gets built”.

We have no idea if these two LP digital outlets will be built in the near future, and assuming WVIZ gets the appropriate construction permits, the folks at Playhouse Square would have the usual three years to build them out. And if they ever intend on making the conversion, Ideastream has to “get in line” to get the allocation.

But despite WVIZ’s new, powerful main digital signal on RF 26 out of Parma, we know some viewers to the northeast would welcome a chance to pick up the station over-air…

TAKING A BREAK: Gannett Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC/3 anchor Eric Mansfield will be taking a one week break this week from his “other job”, as moderator of the Western Reserve PBS news roundtable show “NewsNight Akron”…which airs Friday nights at 9 PM on the pubcaster’s WNEO/45 Alliance-WEAO/49 Akron.

Eric and his panel, which is comprised of local broadcast and print journalists from Akron media outlets, kick around the Issues of the Week for Akron area viewers.

And that includes talking about upcoming local elections, which is the reason Eric will hand off hosting duties this week to a regular panelist, Rubber City Radio VP/information media and OMW reader Ed Esposito.

Eric, also an OMW reader, tells us that one of Friday’s topics will be the crowded field of candidates (14!) running for the Akron School Board, and as such:

My wife, Lisa, is a candidate, so I certainly don’t want to be in a position of conflict of interest.

Eric says he’ll probably step aside as “NewsNight Akron”‘s host at least one more time “and possibly several more times” between now and the election…to allow discussion of the school board race without the husband of one of the candidates in the studio.

He tells us:

There are no strings attached. The panel can talk for as long or as little about the topic as they see fit .. but in all fairness, I needed to get out of the way since this topic is so important for the voters.

It’s a potential conflict of interest issue he’s not likely to face in his “day job”, as reporter and 7 PM co-anchor at WKYC.

Though Mansfield still covers some Akron stories as a Channel 3 reporter, the station now longer regularly staffs the Akron/Canton Bureau on Main and Market – next to the space where “NewsNight Akron” is now taped.

Mansfield and other WKYC reporters presumably still use the facility to process stories covered in the area.

But with “Akron/Canton News” now long off the air (or off Time Warner Cable’s “NEON” local programming channel, to be accurate)…the depth of coverage of Akron issues is not nearly what it was from the Channel 3 newsroom.

And as such, it’s likely that WKYC won’t run many stories, if any, on the Akron school board race Mansfield’s wife, Lisa, is in…and they can easily task another reporter with covering the race if needed…

MAC TIME: Fox Sports Ohio is touting its coverage of Mid-American Conference college football….with the annual “MAC Gridiron Preview” show now unleashed.

Quoting a FSOhio press release:

This one-hour special features previews from the players and coaches of the MAC’s 13 teams, “off-the-gridiron” stories behind various players as well as special interviews with the new head coaches at Miami, Bowling Green, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, and Ball State. The show also provides insight on the future of the conference with its new commissioner, Dr. Jon Steinbrecher.

Hosted by veteran broadcaster and MAC alumni Jeff Phelps, this year’s show takes viewers to the MAC media day and offers a “you are there” point of view. With the show produced by another MAC alumni, Ron Glasenapp, this marks the seventh consecutive year FOX Sports Ohio has provided viewers with an in-depth preseason look at the upcoming MAC season.

The show bowed in Monday at 8 PM. But this being cable/satellite, it’ll air again a number of times in the next few days:

Tuesday, August 25 at 11 p.m.
Thursday, August 27 at 10 p.m.
Saturday, August 29 at 2 p.m.
Saturday, August 29 at 7 p.m.
Sunday, August 30 at 4 p.m.
Monday, August 31 at 1 p.m.

The Cleveland-based conference has members all over the Great Lakes region, including the University of Akron and Kent State University in Northeast Ohio…

AND SPEAKING OF SPORTS: Lake Erie College in Painesville fielded a football team for the first time last year, and that opening season actually got some radio coverage.

As we noted last September, locally-owned Willoughby outlet Spirit Media talk/variety WELW/1330 carried the “Storm” football team’s first season, with veteran local sportscaster Kendall Lewis on play by play.

The “Storm” is about to get a bigger platform.

The college has hooked up with Media One Group’s sports WFUN/970 Ashtabula as its radio home in football season number two, with help from sister AC WREO/97.1 “Star 97.1”, according to a press release that landed in the OMW mailbox:

Beginning Sept. 5, ESPN 970 will broadcast nine Storm games live, while sister station WREO Star 97.1 FM will carry the Sept. 26 game at Adrian College. In addition, all 11 games will be streamed live online at http://www.espn970wfun.com.

The agreement announced today (Aug. 24) with Media One Group, which owns and operates ESPN 970 and Star 97, will provide Northeast Ohio’s only NCAA Division II program with a coverage area that reaches from eastern Cuyahoga County into Western Pennsylvania.

Most of that coverage area is attributed to “Star 97.1”, though WFUN’s 5,000 watt daytime signal out of Ashtabula isn’t bad at all into Painesville, where Lake Erie College is based.

As for the broadcast team:

Local sports radio veteran Craig Deas and former WJET-TV sports director Scott Wludyga will handle the play-by-play duties for Storm broadcasts this season. The play-by-play voice and Director of Community & Media Relations for the Lake County Captains minor league baseball team, Deas has broadcast sports in Northeast Ohio since 1987. Last season he handled radio duties for Lake Erie men’s and women’s basketball broadcasts.

The Captains, of course, are now heard on WREO “Star 97.1”, flagship of a two-station network that includes original Captains flagship WELW…

Those Cable Boxes Have To Go

Many Time Warner Cable customers in the company’s areas formerly serviced by Comcast have been E-mailing us over the past two months or so…with one question. “When are we going to get the same HDTV offerings now available elsewhere on Time Warner?”

Some have speculated that the cable boxes Comcast used – manufactured by Motorola and General Instrument – have been an obstacle that slowed down the HDTV rollout in the areas that used to be served by that company.

Those boxes…are being shoved out the door in a big promotion by Time Warner Cable, aimed at former Comcast customers in the Elyria/Lorain area.

Time Warner tells us that they’re aiming to get some 14,000 Motorola and General Instrument boxes replaced, so letters are going out to those 12,000 customers starting on Monday.

The affected customers will have 30 days after the receipt of the letter to either go to TWC’s service centers in Elyria or North Olmsted, and get a free swap for a new box (presumably a Scientific Atlanta model). Customers who do the swap themselves will also get $25 worth of coupons for “On Demand” movies.

The other option is to call 877-77-CABLE to set up an all-day appointment with a technician to come out and swap the box for you. TWC is asking that you use the special code ELYRIAMOTO when going this route, and you won’t get the “On Demand” coupons. The swap itself will still be free.

The new boxes will provide “several enhancements”, TWC tells us, including “an enhanced on-screen guide, caller-ID on TV, larger DVR storage capacity, and over 15 new HD channels within 30 days.”

That will presumably bring the Elyria/Lorain lineup into line with the HDTV lineup in the rest of the Time Warner Northeast Ohio system, with channels like ESPNews HD, Bravo HD, Animal Planet HD, CNN HD, Fox News HD, Golf HD, and FX HD, plus others, that are not seen yet in the former Comcast system.

We’re told that the new HD channels won’t show up immediately when the box swap is made, but should appear within 30 days of the receipt of the letter…and if you get the letter and your box hasn’t been swapped, it’ll be the proverbial toast after that 30 day period.

The exchange will take place in stages through November, so if you’re an ex-Comcaster in Lorain County and you don’t get a letter on Monday, hang in…it’ll come, eventually. Monday’s only the start of the effort.

Here’s a list of the affected communities, in case you’re not sure if you’re a former Comcast area customer:

AMHERST CITY
AMHERST TWP
AVON CITY
AVON LAKE
BAY VILLAGE
CARLISLE TWP
EATON TWP
ELYRIA CITY
ELYRIA TWP
NEW RUSSIA TWP
NORTH RIDGEVILLE CITY
SOUTH AMHERST VILLAGE

And no, we don’t know how or if this affects the former Comcast area in and around Mentor that’s now part of the TWC Northeast Ohio empire, or if the swap is even needed in that area.

More details are in this article from the Elyria Chronicle Telegram…