Exits, Upgrades and Changes

It’s a rather odd combination for our first Wednesday update, a mix of personnel changes, facility changes and other signal news…

KIM JOHNSON EXITS: Trade sites have widely reported the exit of cluster programmer Kim Johnson from Radio One’s Cleveland cluster.

As far as we know, Johnson was directly responsible for programming the company’s two powerhouse FMs – urban AC WZAK/93.1 and hip hop WENZ/107.9, both regular fixtures near the top of the Cleveland ratings.

Radio One also operates gospel WJMO/1300 and talk/brokered WERE/1490 in Cleveland.

We don’t have much more to say about this than that, since we haven’t heard anything directly out of Radio One. No replacement has yet been named…

FACILITY UPGRADES: An eagle eyed OMW reader spots a new FCC application filed by the Image Video folks, which own four LPTV stations operated from their base in Stark County.

Image Video’s WIVM-LP/52 Canton has applied for a digital replacement channel – RF channel 39. It comes just a month and change after an earlier WIVM application for digital channel 38.

The RF 39 facility would be more powerful (15 kW), and would have a pretty impressive coverage area for an LPTV digital outlet.

The 38-to-39 move is made possible by Trinity Broadcasting’s WDLI exiting RF channel 39 for 49 – the former analog home of Western Reserve PBS’ WEAO/Akron…now virtually broadcasting on 49.1-3 from RF channel 50.

Whew!

Image Video’s Mike Tonges tells OMW about the proposed WIVM move, which he says the station plans to make as soon as the WDLI move happens and the FCC approves the WIVM RF 39 application:

We will be transmitting from our own tower, which is located about three miles east of our present rented Clear Channel site. The Canton digital build is our first priority since we will have to get off of channel 52 anyhow at some time in the future. We would like to broadcast 3 or possibly 4 program channels all in standard definition at this point in time.

No word yet on what extra program channels WIVM will add. Its current analog signal recently flipped to carrying the Retro Television Network (RTV), with local programming still mixed in.

Image Video is also pursuing digital conversions for its other three stations, says Tonges:

We have been approved by the FCC to flash cut our analog 29 transmitter in Newcomerstown to digital on channel 29. We have just under three years to do this with the construction permit.

We have also applied for digital replacement to channel 51 for our Loudonville analog 65 transmitter. In addition we have applied for digital channel 27 for our analog 69 transmitter in Millersburg.

As far as we are concerned, the sooner we get to digital, the sooner more viewers that now only have digital receivers will be able to see our stations. The coverage areas for Canton and the Millersburg/Loudonville area will be greatly improved when we get FCC approval for our displacement channels.

From what Tonges says, it sounds like the WIVM conversion in Canton is on the front burner, and the others will come at some point down the road.

And the WIVM/Image Video president acknowledges the tough economic conditions in the media and elsewhere, though he has hope for improvement.

OMW notes that the new digital channel could actually make some money for Mr. Tonges and company, if WIVM follows the lead of other LPTVers who’ve managed to afford the conversion.

Elliot Block’s WBQC-CA in the Cincinnati market lit up its digital signal a ways back, and we believe Mr. Block is running at least one home shopping network on a subchannel 24/7. That could be at least a modest income stream for an LPTV station…

SPEAKING OF RADIO ONE: An AllAccess item Tuesday caught our attention and that of our readers, and we’re trying to figure out what’s going on.

In translator deals filed with the FCC, BLUE CHIP BROADCASTING LICENSES, LTD. has purchased W262BN/LORAIN, OH from EDGEWATER BROADCASTING, INC. for $100,000, with the intention of rebroadcasting noncommercial WKSU/KENT, OH

Huh?

Here’s the application from the FCC database.

Blue Chip Broadcasting is an arm of Radio One. If we recall correctly, Blue Chip was once a separate company bought by Radio One, and its legal structure absorbed into the Lanham MD based broadcasting giant. Clear Channel, for example, has many subsidiaries based out of old acquired companies (Citicasters, Jacor, etc.) as license holding companies.

So, why is Radio One/Blue Chip noting that 100.3 would simulcast NPR outlet WKSU/89.7 of all stations?

It probably means nothing, though WKSU’s Bob Burford is more than welcome to correct us if our guess is not true.

The “notification” of what station a new buyer plans to use as a primary station for a translator is often etched in water. Stations not connected to the new translator’s license applicant are often used when filling out the form – the originating station can easily be changed later.

In theory, the originating broadcaster is supposed to give its blessing for the rebroadcasting, but most of these arrangements never actually hit the air…the translator would substitute another station before lighting up the signal.

Somewhere out there, there’s a translator that listed NextMedia AC WHBC-FM/94.1 as its “primary” – a translator not even indirectly associated with NextMedia, and nowhere near Canton.

So, unless there’s some deal we don’t know about, don’t expect the translator at 100.3 FM in Lorain to start rebroadcasting National Public Radio and other programming out of WKSU. It’s just a line on a form for now…a placeholder, if you will.

For now, we have no idea if W262BN is broadcasting in any form.

It’s been licensed to Edgewater Broadcasting since 2007. If we recall right, Edgewater is an operation run by former members of the Calvary Chapel empire in Twin Falls ID, which mostly exists to raise money by selling translators to other operators.

And we doubt that W262BN, if it’s on the air at all, is rebroadcasting the signal of Akron Public Schools AAA outlet WAPS/91.3 Akron “The Summit”, the primary station Edgewater listed in its original construction permit application.

The 10 watt signal of 100.3 in Lorain wouldn’t be a bad addition to WKSU’s lineup of stations and translators. It’s on the edge of the primary WKSU/89.7 signal, and on the edge of the WNRK/90.7 Norwalk signal…though we suspect WNRK does pretty well up that way.

Electronically, it would appear to be similar to the situation with WKSU’s Ashland and Boardman translators.

But we doubt that a second of NPR programming will air from the 100.3 translator in Lorain. For one, in addition to all the above, we’d presume that WKSU would actually operate its own facility, not work through a commercial broadcaster like Radio One…

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