Monday Morning…And Then? Who Knows

This is our “one shot” update promised earlier.

We aren’t ready to announce an official “hiatus” yet, but we could be away from the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) the next week or so due to very pressing, vital issues. We could also be here, and updating, which is why we’re not invoking the “H” word. It depends on how those issues go, frankly.

But…if you don’t hear from us here by next weekend, please visit our good friend and colleague Scott Fybush’s NorthEast Radio Watch. He’s tasked with notification should…well, we don’t want to talk about it.

Anyway, if all goes well, we won’t be away for long…and if it does, we may have more time on our hands as usual this coming week…

FORGY OUT: This is an item that passed under our virtual door last week, but we’re bringing to life as we start this week.

OMW has confirmed that Radio One Cleveland VP/GM Chris Forgy is out. We’re told he exited his post at the local radio cluster at the close of business last Tuesday.

There are a lot of rumors about what happened – none of which we have confirmed or will pass along. Since we’re not really a sales-oriented blog, it mostly doesn’t concern us anyway.

It does appear that the departure was not of Mr. Forgy’s choice…

MELISSA IN: Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8 News” weather anchor Melissa Mack is, as far as we know, out of the building at South Marginal…her last day having been scheduled for last Thursday.

We still don’t know what station will be her new home, or what job she’ll take, but numerous OMW readers tell us she pegged her new market on the air last week as Boston.

We’ve been scratching around, trying to find out which Boston station will become Melissa’s new employer – say, for folks back in Northeast Ohio who might wish to catch her in online video – but we have no word of her new destination.

Even TV news gossip supersite NewsBlues, helmed by former Cleveland TV newsies Mike James and his wife, former local TV legend/ex-WKYC/3 anchor Mona Scott, has not had any word about Melissa’s new destination…or for that matter, anything on her departure from Cleveland.

Unless we’re getting stymied by the search engine at Cleveland.com again, as far as we know, Plain Dealer TV/media columnist Julie Washington has had nothing on Ms. Mack…which makes this an exclusive as far as we know…

AND OLDIES: And an update on our earlier item re: the “Sunday Oldies Jukebox”‘s 12th anniversary on Akron market school-owned station WSTB/88.9 Streetsboro.

OMW hears that the station may be on financial fumes, as it were, and it may be an indirect result of the controversy which shut down WSTB for a month one year ago.

The situation was apparently covered by an article in the Streetsboro High School student newspaper earlier this month.

Though the Streetsboro City School District is the owner and licensee of WSTB, the district, like many others in the current economy, is suffering financially. It appears outside funding sources used in the past to help pay for WSTB’s operation aren’t what they used to be.

The student newspaper article is not online, and we don’t have a copy, but we may be able to share this with you down the road. We’ll share when we can.

Anyway, after our article on the “SOJ”, oldies fans and OMW readers are weighing in.

One local radio type reminds us that the oldies continue to flow on the AM radio dial in Lorain County, where Doug and Lorie Wilber’s locally-owned WDLW/1380 Lorain continues its “Kool Kat Oldies” format.

And we’ve heard from fans of Rubber City’s oldies/news WAKR/1590 in Akron, though we did mention WAKR in the previous item. We’ll have to do some study of station playlists to see where WAKR overlaps with the oldies on “Sunday Oldies Jukebox”, which apparently reach – years-wise – from approximately 1958 to 1971.

Commercial AM radio stations playing oldies seem quite the holdovers in 2009, where even younger-skewing music formats have no home on over-air commercial radio.

Potentionally commercially-popular formats like AAA (Adult Album Alternative) have to make their home in Northeast Ohio on outlets like Akron Public Schools-non-comm WAPS/91.3 “The Summit” in Akron, or on HD2 streams in Cleveland (WNWV/107.3-HD2’s eclectic adult-rock-based format, and we hear WMMS/100.7 may be doing AAA on its HD2 stream now).

Standards and big band formats are long gone from the commercial radio dial, with just the lone holdout of Kenston High School-owned non-comm WKHR/91.5 Bainbridge in the format these days. Like “SOJ”, it, too, is mainly run by adult volunteers…

OFF THE AIR: We normally flip Dayton up in the virtual air to see where it lands, in regard to coverage by OMW vs. coverage from our sister blog in Southwest Ohio, Cincinnati-area based Tri-State Media Watch.

Since we’re here, we’ll take this one.

Cox CBS affiliate WHIO-TV/7 reports that it’s been off the air since early Sunday afternoon, and having problems since late Sunday morning:

WHIO-TV began experiencing intermittent problems around 10:30 a.m. Sunday and and went completely off the air around 1:30 p.m.

The outage affects over-air viewers of WHIO-TV’s digital signal, along with satellite TV customers (DirecTV and Dish Network).

The station’s announcement says viewers with Time Warner Cable and AT&T’s video service (U-verse, we assume, like it is in Northeast Ohio) are still able to watch WHIO-TV programming. Generally speaking, major stations feed large cable systems via a direct fiber connection, if possible…so recalcitrant transmitters do not affect those systems.

As far as we know, as of this early Monday writing, WHIO-TV’s over-air signal is still out.

Quoting an article by Tim Tresslar in the Dayton Daily News:

The staff has not yet nailed down a cause for the transmission problems, (WHIO-TV VP/GM Harry Delaney) said.

“Engineers are working on it and we hope to restore full service as soon as possible and apologize for the inconvenience and disruption to their viewing,” Delaney said.

SOJ’s 12th

We’ll have a more complete semi-update sometime early Monday, then we may be scarce for a while. No, we’re not ready to break out the H word, as we still could be around and updating.

But a tip of the hat to a local radio organization that could well be called “A Bunch of Friends of OMW”.

The weekly “Sunday Oldies Jukebox” turns 12 years old on Sunday. The “day format” hit the airwaves on November 30, 1997.

The oldies programming takes over Streetsboro City Schools-owned WSTB/88.9 Streetsboro (otherwise a student-run alt-rocker called “The AlterNation”) once a week, and adult volunteers deliver a day full of 50’s and 60’s (and some 70’s) rock and roll oldies to audiences in the Akron area and beyond, each and every Sunday from morning until night.

Engineer “Uncle Bill” Weisinger, a Friend of OMW, helms the “SOJ” effort as its volunteer program director. SOJ is “84 in dog years”, Bill notes on the station’s website. (Unfortunately, due to rising costs and onerous playlist accounting requirements, SOJ no longer streams its output…you’ll have to be near a radio tuned to 88.9 FM in Northeast Ohio to hear it.)

The SOJ has not had a completely smooth road, of course.

OMW readers know that the Jukebox – and host station WSTB – left the air for a while recently, and you can use the search box above to catch up, if you missed all the commotion. We won’t revisit the controversy here.

But the Sunday oldies stream returned to the eventually returned 88.9 FM, and continues to fill what’s mostly an unmet need on the local airwaves – offering “older” rock oldies titles to local listeners, commercial free.

We haven’t done a playlist analysis, but “SOJ” would seem to offer older titles that aren’t even in the music library of the only local commercial AM outlet that still embraces the word “oldies”, Rubber City’s WAKR/1590 in Akron. We can’t remember the last time we heard a 50’s tune on 1590, for one…the station mainly offers popular 60’s music along with its news and sports programming.

And of course, Clear Channel Cleveland FM powerhouse WMJI/105.7 “Majic 105.7” has long since abandoned those two decades – and the word “oldies” – as a station featuring “classic hits” from the 70’s and 80’s outside the “Lanigan and Malone” morning drive talk show.

Between those stations, and standards WKHR/91.5 Bainbridge serving up the older music for nearby areas of Cleveland’s eastern suburbs, there’s plenty of musical room for the SOJ.

Anyway, Happy 12th to “Uncle Bill” and the SOJ crowd from your friends here at the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)!

Melissa Mack Moving On Up

OMW can confirm that Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8 News” weather anchor Melissa Mack is indeed leaving the station.

Her announcement to that effect, heard by numerous viewers on Sunday night’s “Fox 8 News at 10”, caused quite a stir, and an increase in E-mail traffic here at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

OMW hears from insiders at South Marginal Road that it’s a career move up for Melissa that’s prompting her exit from Northeast Ohio. We’re told that Ms. Mack is headed for “a larger market” station, but we don’t know which market that is.

(We do believe, for whatever reason, that Melissa’s new home market is not New York City.)

We hear Melissa Mack’s last day on “Fox 8 News” is Thursday.

Melissa quickly got noticed after joining Fox 8. She’d been seen before that in Northeast Ohio, as a weather anchor for now-Parkin/New Vision ABC affiliate WYTV/33 in Youngstown…

Confirmed And Not

As per usual here at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), major activity involving local media personalities roughly coincides with our own inability to update this blog – due to absence, illness or work off the blog.

Here we go again.

MAXWELL, OUT: For those of you who haven’t been following our Twitter feed – please look to the left, or visit the feed here directly – a recap…Clear Channel Cleveland rocker WMMS/100.7 has said goodbye to Maxwell, unable to reach contract renewal terms or a contract extension with the station’s afternoon drive host.

For radio negotiations, this has all been out in the open…and then some.

Maxwell himself spoke on the air frequently about his mulling a new deal with the station. And earlier Tuesday, WMMS programmer Bo Matthews spread the word to everyone via his Twitter account:

FYI. No agreement could be reached with the mwl show. We really tried. No secrets. He has talked about it. The process played out.

In place of the Maxwell show on Monday? It was something called the “Dumb & Charlie Experiment”, which appeared to be an extended comedy bit off of the station’s morning drive show “Rover’s Morning Glory” (they’re both cast members).

Don’t expect much more than a stunt from these two – who are probably somewhat more important attached to the morning drive Rover-fest than trying to resurrect afternoon drive as a “new act”.

Quoting WMMS PD Matthews’ Twitter account, again:

FYI. These guys are “trying out”. – – Only took a couple minutes for Rover to come to the rescue with these guys. HAAAA.

And later,

life will move on. I hired mwl. I will produce something else u will be proud of.

But…what will be WMMS’ permanent replacement for “The Maxwell Show”? Let’s turn to Bo again, this time making his pitch on AllAccess.com’s Net News scroll on Monday:

WMMS PD BO MATTHEWS is in full search mode for the next rock/talk afternoon show — individuals or full shows. his is a high-personality, content-heavy position. If you think you can step in, and help continue the momentum/ratings success — forward your mp3 (no larger than 5mb) and resume with references to (wmmsjob at gmail dot com).

So, from here, it looks like WMMS wants to continue with a talk-heavy rock-audience-oriented afternoon drive personality show…which makes sense, since the station tried to re-sign “The Maxwell Show” as recently as last week…

BUT, WHAT ABOUT MELISSA: She’s young, and she hasn’t been at Local TV Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8” for all that long…but morning TV weather person Melissa Mack has apparently quite a devoted following in Cleveland now.

We know that, because the former Youngstown TV personality’s apparent exit announcement has rocked our E-mail box in the past few days.

At this point, the “is Melissa leaving Fox 8” E-mails have overcome the “what happened to Maxwell” E-mails, though in fairness to the now-former WMMS afternoon driver, Melissa is somewhat better looking.

Simply put, we don’t know yet why Ms. Mack is apparently leaving. Enough readers to make it semi-official tell us that she said “goodbye” on Sunday night’s edition of “Fox 8 News at 10”.

We’ve put out the signals, and we’ll let you know what we find out about her future, and her exit from South Marginal Road…

THIS JUST IN: Maxwell Out?

If you believe the chatter this morning on Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7’s “Rover’s Morning Glory” this morning, the station’s afternoon drive program is out.

For now, the WMMS-hosted website for “The Maxwell Show” is still around. Stations generally pull or hide such sites when major changes are in the works.

But in a very open conversation with his listeners, WMMS morning drive leader Shane “Rover” French has made it quite clear that “Maxwell” is gone from the station.

Why?

“We wanted to keep the show.” is the mantra being repeated by a voice we assume by the identification is WMMS program director Bo Matthews. (We say “we assume” because it’s a long-time tradition for radio shows to fake management on the air.)

If the on air chatter on “RMG” is accurate, again, the station apparently made a contract offer to Maxwell and his crew, which was apparently not accepted.

We caution…that all the above is on-air talk. We’ll try to confirm details throughout the day today, but this open talk about the WMMS afternoon drive slot on the station’s morning show was too big to ignore…

No Wonder Kaiser Bill Is Worried

An OMW reader tells us that Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1, the Kent-licensed Akron market talk station known as “The Talk of Akron”, has been running announcements “asking listeners who work or live in the Elyria and North Ridgeville areas to write station management.”

We’re told the announcements refer to “an unnamed out of state company who wants to install a translator station that could disrupt your ability to receive WNIR in those areas.”

At your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), we previously reported the (still pending) sale of off-air translator W262BN/100.3, licensed to Lorain, from Edgewater Broadcasting to Radio One, which owns a number of full-power stations in the Cleveland market.

So, we took another look at W262BN in the FCC records, and found this.

The FCC has approved a move we speculated about in the earlier item – Edgewater, which is still the legal owner of W262BN, has received a construction permit to move the translator’s authorization to a Cleveland community of license. The CP was approved by the FCC just two days ago, on November 18th.

This FCC map of the 50 watt translator station’s proposed primary service area indeed places it right in the middle of WNIR’s area of concern, between Elyria and North Ridgeville at a site along the Ohio Turnpike.

Yes, FM translator facilities can indeed be that far afield of the community of license, and there’s no legal requirement that W262BN’s signal even reach the Cleveland city limits.

Edgewater is clearly acting on behalf of Radio One. The translator sale was approved by the FCC on September 16th, and the new paperwork lists Radio One’s WZAK/93.1 as W262BN’s new primary station. Of course, as we reported earlier, W262BN has not been operating at any point from the currently licensed site in Sheffield Township, with a COL of Lorain.

Since there’s absolutely no need to rebroadcast the powerful signal of WZAK on a translator in eastern Lorain County, we’ll still make the bet that wherever W262BN ends up, it’ll become an FM rebroadcaster for AM gospel outlet WJMO/1300, probably located in an area of Cleveland where 1300’s signal is not all that great at night.

Though they could well mount that effort from the proposed site between Elyria and North Ridgeville, the Cleveland COL tells us that Radio One is thinking of moving it further east.

How does all this affect WNIR?

The Akron market talker doesn’t make much effort to serve Lorain County, which is on the far western fringe of its service area. Even if the translator makes it, say, to Cleveland’s east side, that’s also not really an area WNIR cares about serving.

But the Kent-based station presumably can’t sit idly by while even a first-adjacent 50 watt translator camps out in Northeast Ohio.

If all the signal calculations work out, there may not be much Media-Com can do about this translator…which would presumably have other problems due to second-adjacent in-market WMMS/100.7.

A lot of that is addressed in the application here (PDF file from FCC website), but for the new/current location in eastern Lorain County…

Early Sleigh Ride

After weeks of promising Christmas music next week via a countdown on its website, CBS Radio Cleveland AC powerhouse WDOK/102.1 couldn’t resist opening its presents early.

Numerous OMW readers alerted us that “SoftRock 102.1” turned on the holiday music this morning, three days before the end of the online countdown.

Sure enough, the station – both on-air and online – is playing the seasonal music, and promoting itself as “Cleveland’s Holiday Music Station”.

And if Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 “The Fish” is planning a similar flip to Christmas music, it’ll now be second in the market.

As of this writing on Friday afternoon, “The Fish” is still offering its usual CCM format. We don’t know if the station plans to go all-Christmas music this year, but in the past, WFHM has done so, usually before Thanksgiving…