Thursday’s Post

Some more things coming down the OMW Pipeline…

MANAGE THE MARKET: A day after OMW reported the exit of long-time Clear Channel Akron/Canton market manager Dan Lankford to Pennsylvania, we hear his replacement is heading for Freedom Avenue.

For the moment, we don’t know the name of this mystery person, but expect the Akron/Canton cluster to have a new hand at the management wheel very soon.

The job presumably continues to include oversight of Clear Channel’s Ashland/Mansfield cluster in the Mid-Ohio region…

HIGH SCHOOL HIJINKS: As we approach the All-Important Ohio High School Football Season, another Northeast Ohio TV outlet is talking about its plans to cover the games.

This time, it’s SportsTime Ohio that has unveiled its 2009 HSFB coverage plans. From a network press release:

Home to the OHSAA State Championships, STO will launch its high school coverage Friday August 28th. New to the schedule will be a live 90 minute show previewing High School Football matchups from around the state. Ohio High School Kickoff Show will be hosted by Mike Cairns on Fridays from 3:30pm – 5pm and include interviews with coaches statewide.

In addition, STO will expand its High School Football coverage with a regular season game of the week. The season kicks off Saturday August 29th with a rematch of last year’s playoff battle between State Champion St. Ignatius and Glenville; ending on Halloween with the “Holy War” between St. Edward and St. Ignatius. For the 3rd consecutive year, STO will carry the OHSAA Football Playoffs and Championships.

A list of STO’s currently-scheduled high school football schedule is here. Other games will be added by the week…

BUT NOT TO BE OUTDONE: When we wrote about this year’s high school football schedule on Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio Network (NEON) local programming channel, we noted that it seemed to lean heavily upon games in the Cleveland and Canton areas, with very few Akron area contests.

Ah, that prompted a response directly from Time Warner Cable’s downtown Akron offices, with local TWC VP and OMW reader Bill Jasso weighing in on our report.

Jasso assures us that Time Warner is not going to ignore high school football fans in Akron. He says the cable outlet is working to line up production of additional games from the Akron area…and for that matter, games in the western portion of the former Comcast service area…in places like Bay Village, Elyria and Lorain.

Yes, this is Northeast Ohio, and people take their high school football seriously.

Jasso tells OMW that we should hear some more about additional games later this week…

LIMA ACTIVITY: Ohio’s smallest TV market is a hub of activity this month.

First, we note that the Dish Network satellite service is finally bringing “local-into-local” stations for the Lima TV market.

A quick check of the Local Channels dialog at Dish’s website shows the available stations – and oddly enough, only Block Communications NBC affiliate WLIO/digital 8 is not listed. (Since we don’t live in Lima, we used the studio address of WLIO – 1424 Rice Avenue, Lima, OH 45805 – to get the list.)

It’s certainly odd, because all the other Lima network affiliates are on the Dish list, including ABC affilaite WLQP-LP/18, Fox affiliate WOHL-CA/25 and CBS affiliate WLMO-LP/38.

Of course, all three of those stations are now owned by Block Communications, which owns WLIO…so we don’t know why WLIO is not listed on the Dish Network local channels availability page. Maybe it’s a mistake. Maybe the previous owner of the LPTV outlets, Gregg Phipps, signed that deal before Block/WLIO bought the three stations.

The Lima stations – also including Bowling Green State University-owned PBS affiliate WBGU/27 and religious independent WTLW/44 – are only available in standard definition via Dish Network for now.

However, it looks like there’s a lot of movement on the HDTV front in Lima, if you check out WLIO VP/engineering Frederick Vobbe’s excellent WLIO Engineering blog.

There, you’ll learn that Block has put on low-power Class A digital WOHL-DC/35, which now occupies the channel used by WLIO’s analog signal for decades. WLIO exited channel 35 for RF channel 8, and the station also now uses channel 8 for both on-air and off-air marketing/PSIP purposes.

Vobbe’s blog says the 9 kW WOHL-DC (DC for “Digital Class A”) has been testing, and lit up regular programming on Monday, with a 720p HD feed of “ABC Lima” on 35.1, and a 720p HD feed of “CBS Lima” on 35.2.

Over on WLIO’s 8.2, “Fox Lima” is still up, but, quoting Vobbe on his blog:

Fox (8.2) is in SD because that is what the network is sending us. We don’t have a choice in that. However, we are sending out an HD signal in 720P format should they change their minds. That means that NBC, CBS, and ABC will be the only HD signals so far.

The Fox network uses something called a “Splicer” to seamlessly provide its HD feed to stations. Either they haven’t sent the unit to WLIO yet, or there’s some technical magic involved in making the “Splicer” work on a subchannel…since it’s basically designed to manage the bandwidth on a full channel at the network level.

Fox HD can indeed be done on a subchannel, though. Maybe Mr. Vobbe should call Tom Zocolo, chief engineer at “Fox Youngstown”, to see how it’s being done there…with the “Fox Youngstown” HD feed riding along on WKBN’s 27.2…

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