The Catchup Post

The altered state of reality here at the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) means that, well, we missed some stuff…some that affects the coming year.

So, here’s at least some of What We Missed, and other updates, with a year-end message still to come…

FREEDOM AVENUE CHANGES: There have been so many changes at Clear Channel’s Akron/Canton cluster on Freedom Avenue that we wouldn’t be surprised if you’d mistake it for a bus or train station, as opposed to a radio station cluster.

First, as long advertised, 30-plus year Akron market veteran host Matt Patrick left his perch in mornings at hot AC WKDD/98.1…a station he’d anchored since it was on 96.5 (now Clear Channel sister top 40 WAKS “Kiss FM”). He also left his 9 AM-noon talk show on sister talk WHLO/640.

Slipping in upon Patrick’s departure from the WKDD morning drive show was, as many expected, WKDD program director/CC Akron-Canton operations director/now former afternoon drive air personality/OMW reader Keith Kennedy, and there’s no truth to the rumor that WKDD will take the moniker “Keith FM”. Kennedy now hosts morning drive with Patrick’s most recent co-host, Krissy Taylor.

Taking afternoon drive on the WKDD schedule is station mainstay Jon Marochino. (More on him later.)

Taking Patrick’s WHLO time slot is a delayed version of Pittsburgh-based syndicated morning show “Quinn and Rose”, which has aired live in morning drive on WHLO until now.

Taking the WHLO morning drive slot? Akron and Canton radio veteran Jim Albright. From a station release on the new show, which airs starting January 4th:

Akron/Canton news, traffic, sports and weather will be the primary focus on the new show, presented in a fast paced, modern format. Listeners will hear all the information in a tight ten minute package, which is about the length of the average commute in Akron/Canton. “Our Goal is to give you everything you need in 10 minutes or less” said Albright.

Albright will be joined by the station’s morning news anchor, John Amrhein.

Quoting him:

“WHLO is a heritage set of call letters, and I’m thrilled to be able to say them on the air very soon” said Albright. “The Akron/Canton has been my home my entire life and I can’t imagine being anywhere else” he added. “This will be my last job in radio! They will have to pry me from the studio equipment in 30 years”.

Albright was most recently afternoon drive host at NextMedia talk WHBC/1480 in Canton, but gained his local fame as the host of the long-running “Dating Show” on Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron” in the Akron market…a local radio staple in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Budget cuts ended his run at WHBC, in a time slot now occupied by station veteran Sam Bourquin.

Back to Jon Marochino, who’s a key player in Freedom Avenue’s third move.

He’ll host “The Jon Marochino Show”, a weekday, 3-6 PM local sports talk show on sports WARF/1350 Akron “Fox Sports 1350”. Quoting another station release:

Listeners will be able to express their thoughts on teams such as the Zips, Kent St., Aeros, Cavs, Browns, Indians, and Buckeyes. The program will also devote time to coverage of High School Sports.

“For the first time, listeners in Akron won’t have to tune to a station in Cleveland for their daily dose of Northeast Ohio sports” said Marochino. “We are two guys who scream and yell at the TV when our teams aren’t playing well, we’re not clubhouse or locker room reporters, we’re fans who happen to have a radio show” Marochino added.

The “two guys” refers to Marochino and sports update anchor Todd Fisher. As with Albright’s new WHLO show, the new WARF afternoon drive local show starts January 4th.

And yes, Marochino is listed as the afternoon drive replacement on WKDD for now-morning driver Keith Kennedy.

We’ll assume the Magic of Voicetracking(tm) will allow that, and that Marochino won’t be doing both shows simultaneously…a la an old “Saturday Night Live” skit with Dan Aykroyd doing both AM and FM shows at the same time…

BOOM: A week earlier than expected, and as reported here below, Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting debuted its new “Boom!” AAA format on WNWV/107.3 Elyria…nudging the 20-year plus “Wave” smooth jazz format to WNWV’s HD2 signal (and an Internet stream).

(By the way, the station has been called both “107.3 Boom!” and “Boom! 107.3” by ELB, so we don’t know which it is.)

The opening music set at noon Monday, thanks to Lance Venta’s RadioInsight:

Thievery Corporation – Radio Retaliation
Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere
Coldplay – Clocks
Sarah McLachlan – Possession
Train – Hey Soul Sister

COLUMBUS STUFF: Columbus FM talker WTDA/103.9 is no longer “Talk FM”. It dropped a lineup of mostly syndicated second-tier talkers and a local morning show to become “Classic Hits 103.9”, using a Dial Global satellite-delivered format.

The move to music on WTDA means Clear Channel sports WYTS/1230 “Fox Sports 1230” is able to pick up the midday program hosted by Dan Patrick, who normally airs on the FSR feed….but WTDA had his Columbus market rights due to an earlier agreement to carry him in the Content Factory syndication deal.

Though Patrick is off this holiday week, WYTS is already carrying his program.

The Columbus station, and other FSR affiliates including Akron’s WARF, are also carrying the network’s new morning drive program with former ESPN Radio host Stephen A. Smith. Smith replaces Steve Czaban, who was shown the door at FSR a while back…

CURRENCY: Thursday is a big day for Cleveland radio.

Arbitron’s Portable People Meter ratings results become “currency” with tomorrow’s report. Local stations have already had “pre-currency” numbers, and changes have already happened – Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting cited the new ratings system in its decision to send “The Wave” packing on 107.3. (The jury’s out on whether the new AAA format is any more “PPM friendly” than the long-time smooth jazz format.)

Regular OMW readers know we don’t spend a lot of time with ratings for various reasons, not the least of which is that they can be sliced, diced and interpreted many different ways. But we’ll try to get something up here about the first PPM “currency” book in Cleveland after the first of the year.

And if the numbers prompt any format or personality changes, we’ll definitely cover that…

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Boom To Explode At Noon

WNWV/107.3, destined for AAA “Boom”, is stunting with clock ticking noises this morning.

OMW hears that “107.3 Boom!” debuts today at 12 Noon…

Wave About To Stop Waving

UPDATE 12/24/09 10:10 AM: Cleveland Plain Dealer media writer Julie Washington has more on the pending format change, including confirmation that Ric Bennett is the new program director.

Both articles also note that the station will indeed be known on-air as “107.3 Boom!”. (With the exclamation mark, we presume…)

UPDATE 12/23/09 11:57 AM: An alert OMW reader pointed us to this article on the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram’s website today, confirming the WNWV format change. The paper is co-owned with the radio station.

We don’t know if the article appeared in the C-T’s print edition today…

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We’re still on indefinite hiatus, but since this is a pending format change in the Cleveland market, we’ll put a note up here about it.

As noted on our Twitter account, there are strong and loud rumblings around the market that Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting smooth jazz WNWV/107.3 Elyria “The Wave” is about to stop waving…in that format…after some 21 years.

OMW hears what everyone else in Northeast Ohio radio has apparently heard…that WNWV will end the smooth jazz/new adult contemporary format soon, and take on a new adult alternative rock format (“AAA”), with some classic rock mixed in.

In fact, we’re told that you can already hear the coming WNWV format on its HD2 subchannel right now.

And you can also hear that HD2-soon-to-be-main format, we’re told by more than one reader, at the site 1073cleveland.com.

We’re told that the new format is expected to launch on January 4th. We don’t know if it’ll take the “Boom” moniker shown on the above linked site, or if the music mix will change when it comes to the “main stage” at 107.3.

The venerable smooth jazz format, like in other such moves, will end up on the WNWV HD2 channel, switching places with the new AAA/rock format.

As has been posted elsewhere, on message boards, in Tom Taylor’s daily Taylor on Radio-Info newsletter and the like, we hear tbat “Rocco the Rock Dog” (aka Ric Bennett, ex-WMMS/100.7, WENZ/107.9 and WONE/97.5) is on board as program director for the new WNWV format.

Right now, the AAA format in Northeast Ohio is available on only one station, Akron Public Schools-owned non-comm WAPS/91.3 “The Summit”, and we can tell you that the folks on Steiner Avenue are already aware of the coming commercial competition.

Now, we’re still on hiatus. We’ll add an administrivia post later explaining the near-term future of your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)…

The Dreaded H-Word

Officially: OMW will be on hiatus until further notice. We have no idea when we may return, and we may be gone the rest of the year.

Don’t worry about your Primary Editorial Voice(tm)….we’re fine, and will be back and raring to drive the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) at some point.

But unlike most of our World Famous Hiatuses, it will take something pretty big to put an update here in the next while. And as last we checked, Dick Goddard and Joe Tait aren’t going to call it a career any time soon. (Yes, that’s the level.)

For example, we are hearing, but have not confirmed, of a very high-level off-air departure at one of Cleveland’s major radio clusters. We won’t be following that, but when you see the news on the AllAccess Net News scroll tomorrow…yes, that’s the one.

Please keep in touch. We’ll still have access to your E-mail, and still be “watching” the media scene in Northeast Ohio. Big news might hit our Twitter account, which is mirrored on the left hand side of this scroll.

But don’t “expect” anything in the coming weeks, as far as regular updating or following media news stories. We’re coming into the holidays, and would be away at times, anyway.

We’ll be back, and better than ever, soon. Take care of yourselves and your families…

Browns And Scripps

This is our final update for this hectic week – OK, so it’s been hectic only for us, but we hope you understand. Sometimes, life is somewhat more important than assuring that a blog on local media news is regularly updated.

The good news? Even battling connectivity problems in a temporary situation away from the OMW World Headquarters, we can still manage to update our Twitter account. We’ve already had some of these updates there, and please keep watching in case we can’t get back to the Mighty Blog either due to technical or personal concerns.

And as always, our Twitter feed should automatically be mirrored to the left hand column on the main blog…

BROWNS TV “SAVED” AGAIN: The NFL’s Cleveland Browns haven’t had a TV blackout since “returning” to the NFL in 1999. That no-blackout streak won’t be broken this weekend.

Despite “a few thousand” tickets remaining unsold for the 1-10 Browns’ tilt with the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, the team announced Friday that the game would air in Cleveland on Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19.

From a Browns press release:

As a result of combined efforts by the Cleveland Browns, WOIO-TV (CBS 19) and several local establishments, the Chargers-Browns game this Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium will be televised locally. The game, which kicks off at 4:05 p.m., will air on WOIO-TV in the Cleveland area.

The Browns will be distributing tickets to the Cleveland Food Bank, the United Way, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, as well as other local organizations. Additionally, local establishments and WOIO will reward patrons with ticket giveaways while supplies last. The local establishments are offering limited numbers of tickets to customers. For more details on these special offers, fans can visit the following the locations:

We won’t copy over the sponsor list, but you can find it at the link above. It’s a laundry list mainly of local sports bars, which presumably hope you watch the game – now televised – there as well…

A better solution towards ensuring prevention of blackouts would be for the Browns to produce a better product on the field, but that’s just crazy talk, we realize. Even with the horrible economy (locally and nationally), a winning Browns team would pack the place.

For now, it’s what has become a familiar refrain…with a “few thousand” tickets left, the local TV affiliate gets together with businesses and the team to “look good” – by saving the game from an almost sure TV blackout…and helping charities at the holidays at the same time…

SCRIPPS PART 1: We knew this was coming, but didn’t have the ability to tell you due to our current situation.

As long expected, graphics on Scripps’ WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5” have changed…to standardize the local ABC affiliate’s graphics with other stations in the chain.

But as we reported earlier, it wasn’t just a desire to streamline the look…”NewsChannel 5″‘s graphics package is now actually produced at a centralized Scripps facility at the company’s outlet in Tampa, WFTS.

)We’d love to put a screenshot of “NewsChannel 5’s” new look up here, but our temporary situation precludes us from doing so…)

SCRIPPS PART 2: On further analysis, this probably doesn’t note a trend that would come to Cleveland, but heads up.

WEWS’ sister station in West Palm Beach FL, NBC affiliate WPTV/5, is dumping its sports department entirely…and farming out coverage of sports to personalities from Good Karma sports WEFL/760 “ESPN 760″…of course, the Good Karma sister (brother?) station of Cleveland’s WKNR/850 “ESPN 850” and WWGK/1540 “KNR2”.

From a joint press release put out by the stations:

Starting January 1, 2010, ESPN 760 will provide extensive sports coverage to WPTV’s NewsChannel 5, including local sports features at 6 p.m. and a nightly sports wrap-up at 11 p.m. ESPN 760 will produce “Braman 5 Sports Live,” the 15-minute sports show seen every Sunday after WPTV’s 11 p.m. newscast.

Evan Cohen, ESPN 760’s popular sports talk show host, will anchor “Braman 5 Sports Live” and lead the on-air effort weeknights for WPTV. Former Florida Atlantic University defensive lineman and current ESPN 760 host/reporter, Jason Pugh, will anchor the sports segments on Fridays and the weekends. ESPN 760 producer/reporter Herb Uzzi will serve as producer/reporter for the sportscasts on WPTV, and Cohen and Pugh will provide insights and commentary on http://www.wptv.com.

WPTV officials insist that it’s not a cost-cutting move, in a time where “cost-cutting move” is about as easy to type as anything. From MediaDailyNews:

Steve Wasserman, general manager at E.W. Scripps-owned WPTV, said it is not a cost-cutting move but aimed at accessing more resources. The radio station has more talent on hand and stronger connections with local sports teams and personalities, he said.

Wasserman said the deal, with an undisclosed financial arrangement, will cost his station more than the salaries and work done by the two departed sportscasters. WPTV also has the highest ratings in the market, so the move is not made out of desperation.

The Palm Beach Post reports that the deal was primarily driven by WPTV’s desire to bring Cohen – “ESPN 760’s” biggest name – aboard as more than just an occasional contributor.

Here in Cleveland, of course, the situation is a LITTLE different.

There is an informal relationship between Good Karma’s WKNR and Scripps’ WEWS. “ESPN 850” personalities Aaron Goldhammer and Jason Gibbs have been regular contributors to Channel 5’s high school football coverage…often using what looks for all the world like a Skype video chat connection from the WKNR studios at the Galleria.

(“NewsChannel 5 in high definition, except when we have to have a cheap video line to another building a few blocks away!”)

But the highest-profile name at the Galleria is mid-morning host Tony Rizzo, who has a very solid “day” job as the primary sports anchor at one of WEWS’ competitors, Local TV Fox affililate WJW/8. That alone would seem to preclude WKNR mirroring the Florida agreement here with WEWS….

Quick Update: There She Goes, Here We Are

We’re around, though still attending to vital, off-blog business for a while. We’ve got a couple of items kicking around for a more general update by Friday morning, more than likely.

In case you missed our Twitter update on the status of now-former Local TV Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW/8 morning/weekend meterologist Melissa Mack:

WJW’s Melissa Mack to CBS O&O WBZ/4 Boston as weekend meteorologist and environmental reporter starting 1/2010

The primary reporting on this came from the blog Boston TV News, where Michael Page first started tracking down news of Melissa Mack’s new Boston TV home. Page got confirmation from a WBZ-TV official.

Quoting Page’s update:

WBZ has now confirmed that Melissa is headed for their airwaves early in January 2010. Station spokeswoman Ro Dooley-Webster tells me, “WBZ-TV has hired a new Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Melissa Mack will be joining the station on January 4, 2010. In addition to her weekend duties, Melissa will be reporting on environmental issues and filling in during the week.”

This means Melissa will take the place of current weekend morning meteorologist Sarah Wroblewski and will report on issues much like Mish did before her departure from the station earlier this year.

The move is not just a move up in market size for Melissa, from Cleveland (#18) to Boston (#7), for a relatively similar job.

As noted in our tweet above, WBZ-TV is not just a CBS affiliate…it’s a CBS O&O.

If Melissa Mack has any thought in the future of “going network”, a top-10 market station owned by the network would be a decent place to be.

And of course, until fairly recently, WJW itself was owned by its network, Fox…though the spotlight is much brighter in a market the size of Boston…