Channel 5 General Manager Out

It’s official. OMW hears that Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 general manager Viki Regan is no longer in the building.

Well, maybe we should say “she’s no longer the general manager” as of Monday, because we hear she actually hasn’t been in the building for some time, as her status at Channel 5 was being negotiated with upper Scripps management over the past week or so.

We’re told that she couldn’t see eye to eye with her Scripps bosses over the direction of the station, which led to her exit.

OMW hears that an interim general manager won’t be appointed, as Scripps hopes to have a permanent replacement for Regan in the next few weeks.

The long lead time to Regan’s exit means the rumors were flying. We’ve heard them for about a week, and for that matter, those rumors led to a story by Plain Dealer media writer Julie Washington on Monday, which we passed along on our Twitter feed:

Rumors flew around WEWS Channel 5 and the market on Monday that general manager Viki Regan might be leaving the station.

By the time Ms. Washington’s story hit Cleveland.com, at just before 5 PM on Monday, OMW hears that Regan was already the former general manager.

Regan joined WEWS in May 2008, coming off an 11 year stint as general manager of Hearst’s WPBF, the ABC affiliate in West Palm Beach FL…

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Two Passings

Two local media fixtures from two very different parts of Northeast Ohio’s media landscape have passed away in just the past few days…

THE PROFESSOR: Sports talk radio fans from the 1980s and 1990s know what the phrase “The Professor has died” means.

Geoff Sindelar actually started his run on local sports talk radio in a familiar place – as a caller to “Pete Franklin’s Sportsline” on the old WWWE/1100 “3WE” in Cleveland. (Of course, another regular Franklin caller became Clear Channel talk WTAM’s afternoon drive host – Mike Trivisonno.)

The Plain Dealer’s Grant Segal helps our memory a bit, noting Sindelar’s transition from caller to host:

In 1987, he took turns filling for the departed Pete Franklin on WWWE, then won the job outright.

“The Professor” moved on to become host of his own program on sports talker WKNR, then “SportsRadio 1220” at 1220 AM. He was one of WKNR’s signature personalities, hosting drive-time talk on the station through much of the 1990s.

Lorain Morning Journal/Lake County News-Herald sportswriter Jeff Schudel has an article on Sindelar’s passing here.

In the comments on this article, we found a link to a video of Sindelar doing an Internet sports talk segment on college football, apparently from 2007. That’s where the picture comes from. (Note that if you follow the link, the video starts automatically.)

Sindelar stepped down from his WKNR show in 1997, citing a need to concentrate on his family business. The Plain Dealer’s Segal notes that he took over G.F. Sindelar Co. from his father, a business “which sells products by manufacturers to businesses”. Sindelar was always well known as the local sports radio talk show host with “a real job”.

He was also well known as a connoisseur of sports collectibles, and the foremost expert on the topic on the radio in Northeast Ohio. If a local sports enthusiast wanted to know if a piece of sports memorabilia was a “good item!”, Sindelar was the first person to ask.

We’d also forgotten “The Professor”‘s TV work, including a North Coast Cable-based show “Sports 101” that was apparently seen nationally in the 1990s. (North Coast Cable was the original Cleveland-based cable system, which is today’s Cleveland arm of Time Warner Cable, passing through Cablevision and Adelphia along the way.)

The Segal article and later media reports clarify Sindelar’s cause of death Thursday as a cerebral hemmorage. Earlier reports, apparently based on information from friends, said he died of a heart attack.

Either way, at 62 years old, “The Professor” has passed away…

MOFFITT PASSES: Off the air, and in television, Jack Moffitt was a vital part of the local media scene.

Moffitt had a long career in television management, but his longest and most known stretch of work was as the general manager of WUAB/43, the Lorain-licensed station run out of Parma that by “playing favorites” became Cleveland’s dominant independent station.

(WUAB, of course, is today’s Raycom Media-owned MyNetwork TV affiliate.)

Moffitt didn’t revel in the spotlight, so we – without help – couldn’t tell you much about his career.

But his niece, Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting AAA WNWV/107.3 “V107.3” promotions/marketing director Suzy Peters, is an OMW reader, and put together a biography based on his personal notes. (She also passed along the picture we’ve used in this item.)

Services for Moffitt are scheduled for today (Saturday) at Chambers Funeral Home, 29150 Lorain Road in North Olmsted, with visiting hours 1-3 PM and the service from 3-4 PM.

Suzy Peters’ biography of her uncle Jack is reprinted below…and we thank her for sharing, and offer our condolences to her and her family…

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John “Jack” Moffitt, age 80, of North Royalton passed away on March 24th.

Born in Alliance, Ohio, Jack graduated from Lakewood High School, where he served as Student Council President, and went on to graduate from Western Reserve University in 1952 with a BA in speech.

His professional career began in 1943 as a curtain puller at the Cleveland Play House. He hosted a radio sports show on “Teen Time” on WJW radio from 1946-1948. He began his television career in 1947 as a page boy for WEWS, Ohio’s first TV station, and became a cameraman in 1948 as well as a film editor and news photographer.

He was drafted in 1952 and served in the Army Signal Corps as its first airborne TV cameraman, telecasting war games back to headquarters out of an L-20 Dehaviland Beaver during the Korean War.

He returned to WEWS in 1954 as their Public Service Director and Promotion Director before being promoted to Producer of all Dorothy Fuldheim programs. He took over as the One O’Clock Club Executive Producer in 1960 formatting the daily show with a live studio audience as luncheon guests.

In 1964 he joined WJW TV as an Account Executive. In 1968 he joined WUAB, Channel 43, as General Sales Manager and helped build the station and hire the staff. He became General Manager in 1972 and VP/GM in 1977. He left WUAB in 1985 to put a new independent station, KTHT in Houston, TX on the air.

From 1987 to 2001 he helped build several TV stations in Florida, Los Angeles, North Carolina and Georgia. He finally retired in 2001, capping off over 55 years in Broadcasting.

He was a founding member of the Cleveland chapter of NATAS and has won numerous awards, including 3 Emmy Awards.

In No Particular Order

Since we’ve been sporadic lately, here are some items that have taken place in recent days… in no particular order…and there are still more items we haven’t touched yet…

“MISS BARBARA” PASSES ON: If you grew up on Northeast Ohio television into the early 1970s, you need no further explanation.

Barbara Plummer, known as “Miss Barbara” on Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s local edition of “Romper Room”, has died.

From her online obituary (we have the text, but don’t have a link):

From 1958 to 1972 children across Cleveland tuned in daily to learn their Do-Bees and their Don’t Bees, to have fun, and maybe – just maybe – have Miss Barbara see them through her Magic Mirror and say their names out loud on television.

Before, during and after her time as “Miss Barbara”, Plummer would enjoy a long, active life.

From the obituary:

She was a mother, a wife, an active supporter of charitable organizations and, for a time, she was a local television personality. And that is the order of importance she would have placed on the various roles she filled in her remarkable life.

And more on her TV career, as one of the pioneering women in local television:

It probably would have been a beautifully normal life if she had not heard, in April 1958, that WEWS was advertising for candidates to host their version of the syndicated television show, Romper Room. She loved to say that she went for an interview only because she was curious to see a television studio. Whatever her motivation was, she competed with 90 other women for the position and was selected. After asking her husband if it was OK – she began a television career that would eventually have middle-aged baby-boomers coming up to her in the grocery store to ask, “Are you Miss Barbara? I loved Romper Room, but how come you never said my name?”

Barbara Plummer died March 20th at the age of 80, after a struggle with pneumonia and cancer…

RICK: Northeast Ohio’s media community is abuzz with talk about, and well wishes for, a former local radio personality who is seriously ill.

OMW hears that former Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 night and weekend host Rick Gilmour is battling cancer, and has recently been transferred to hospice care.

We don’t have details beyond that, but we felt it was necessary to pass this along so people can have him in their thoughts and prayers.

In addition to his work at WTAM, where he took the night shift after Morton Downey, Jr. left the station, he started as a late night host on now-Radio One talk WERE, then at 1300 AM.

We last heard Rick’s name right before WTAM replaced the cancelled Jerry Springer radio show with a local show hosted by Bob Frantz. (Frantz is now working evenings, and the shift is now filled once again by Premiere’s Glenn Beck.)

We’d heard a pretty reliable rumor that Gilmour would be a part of the local host rotation in the 9-noon slot before a permanent host was named, but Frantz was picked for the shift on a permanent basis the very next day.

Anyway, our sincerest best wishes to Rick and his family…

SELLING OFF: Akron-based Rubber City Radio Group is selling off its interests in Michigan.

You wouldn’t blame local listeners to oldies/news WAKR/1590, rock WONE/97.5 or country WQMX/94.9 if they didn’t realize that Rubber City has other stations in Michigan, but the company has operated a four-station cluster in and around Lansing for about 10 years.

Last week, it was announced that the Akron-based broadcaster would be selling those stations.

From the Michiguide site, courtesy of Tom Taylor’s Radio-Info.com daily E-mail column:

Tom Taylor reports this morning that Rubber City Radio has agreed to sell its Lansing 4-station FM cluster (active rock WJXQ 106.1, modern rock WVIC 94.1, classic hits WQTX 92.1 and smooth jazz WJZL 92.9) to Midwest Communications for an amount that’s not yet been revealed. Operating as Mid-Michigan Radio Group, Rubber City first bought into Lansing in 2000.

For Midwest Communications, it’s an expansion eastward of its Michigan group of stations – it already owns 9 plus an FM translator in Kalamazoo, Coldwater, and Holland.

The sale has been filed with the Federal Communications Commission, and the agreement lists a price of $4 million for the four Michigan stations.

And the move means Rubber City will concentrate on its three hometown stations, along with the company’s various radio station-linked websites, and the 24/7 online news station WAKRNewsNow and news site AkronNewsNow.com

SPEAKING OF WEBSITES: Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland has been struggling with its own WKYC.com for at least some of this week.

We first learned of this on Sunday, with the station advising Twitter followers that the website was temporarily down. We went to it, and found a Network Solutions “domain parking” page…leading us to wonder if the domain company put it on hold due to non-payment of fees.

A quick check of the WHOIS records for WKYC.com on Sunday morning showed that it was supposed to be valid through March 15, 2011.

No, it’s not likely mega-giant Gannett can’t afford to renew its domain name…the company isn’t in THAT bad shape financially. However, it wouldn’t be the first time that a large media corporation didn’t renew the registration on time due to a simple oversight. The expiration date being a week ago Monday (renewed into 2011) would seem to support that theory of ours.

Whatever happened, WKYC.com apparently still hasn’t been available to some due to DNS routing issues. From blogging colleague Frank Macek’s “Director’s Cut” blog on Tuesday:

…if you are still having problems, please send us an e-mail with a detailed description and include the name of your internet service provider (ISP).

Send it to our engineering techies at channel3 (at) wkyc.com and we’ll do everything we can to help you with a fix.

From our own experience, if the DNS (Domain Name Service) is changed to route somewhere else – say, from Gannett’s servers to Network Solutions’ servers and back again – it takes a while for some DNS servers to catch up if the problem is fixed.

Here at the OMW World Headquarters, WKYC.com returned to our Mighty Laptop(tm) later Sunday morning, and has been fine since…

WHERE’D THEY GO?: The local Time Warner Cable mega-cluster, already trying to digest an HD channel lineup change and the changeover to the new “Navigator” digital cable box guide in areas that don’t already have it, digested some channels right off the box last week.

The Plain Dealer reported that in the middle of prime time last Wednesday night, some 480,000 customers went without channels 2-20 on their cable boxes.

Judging from the counties listed in the story – Cuyahoga, Medina, Lake, Lorain and Ashtabula – it sounds like the outage affected those primarily in the former Adelphia area, and maybe the ex-Comcast section of the massive Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio system.

The high-definition/DTV simulcasts of the local stations were not affected (in the 400s or 1000s, depending on how far the “TV Made Easy” conversion has gone in your area).

Good ol’ fashioned analog cable was also not affected…if you had a TV with an analog tuner (even a digital set with same) and no cable box, channels 2-20 worked with no interruption that night.

The problem was cleared up sometime Thursday morning.

Based on our limited knowledge, some of those lower channels are fed to digital cable boxes with a digital, standard-definition simulcast of the station, bypassing the “straight” analog feed. Why that was a problem last week, we don’t know, but it would explain some of it…

Unloading The Pile

Our stack of unfinished items has gotten so large, we’re not sure we can fit it in one update. But… we’ll try, working backwards from the present…and we could have another update soon, as we’re not sure we have everything out of the backlog file yet…

ROMIGH IN: As previously posted on our Twitter account, Clear Channel talk WKBN/570 Youngstown has made fill-in Mike Romigh, the former CBS Radio talk KDKA/1020 Pittsburgh host, its new permanent morning drive host.

Quoting Clear Channel Youngstown market manager and OMW reader Bill Kelly in a release earlier today:

“Mike deserves this opportunity. He has done a great job filling in for us over the past several years and we have been searching for a place for him. This is THAT place. We are fortunate that a person of Mike’s caliber was available and our listeners and advertisers will continue to benefit.”

Kelly adds that Romigh becomes just the third morning drive host on WKBN since 1980.

He has taken the place of Robert Mangino, the New Castle PA native who now does evenings on Romigh’s old home station, KDKA. The other host, of course, was long-time WKBN morning man Pete Gabriel, who finished out his career as the morning driver at sister standards WNIO/1390.

Romigh’s addition to the permanent WKBN lineup will be from 6-9 AM weekdays. Midday host (and Clear Channel Youngstown operations director) Dan Rivers adds an hour to his show, and will be heard from 9 AM to noon…

MARCH MADNESS: On our Twitter account, we passed along a link to a Cleveland.com/Plain Dealer item on Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19’s Thursday NCAA tournament broadcast schedule.

We don’t have the station’s schedule of other NCAA broadcasts, and can’t find a schedule on either the “19 Action News” site, or the site of Youngstown’s CBS affiliate, New Vision’s WKBN/27.

We also won’t be able to track this on a daily basis, sorry…

TWC LINEUP CHANGES: Time Warner Cable’s massive Northeast Ohio system is in the middle of its “HD Made Easy” channel lineup change, which will scoot the system’s HDTV channel lineup up into the 1000s.

At the same time, the system is pushing out the newer style “Navigator” cable box program guide into the former Adelphia areas in greater Cleveland.

TWC’s Travis Reynolds tells OMW:

The channel and new Navigator migration is going well. We are on schedule to complete this by the end of the month.

As a general rule, anyone who already had the new Navigator, or those who’ve been transitioned to it in the past few days, should have the new lineup. As boxes migrate to the new Navigator, they’ll then get the new channel lineup with the HDs in the 1000s, the ‘Free 400s’ and On Demand Offerings in the 500s.

That meshes with some reader feedback we’ve gotten, with word that the “legacy” Akron and Canton area systems, those in the original Time Warner footprint, have the new lineup.

Those in ex-Adelphia land will have to wait until the Navigator conversion takes place, and we’ve heard from readers that the conversion is apparently taking place box-model-by-box model. One reader in the former Adelphia area tells us he has one cable box model converted to Navigator, and another that hasn’t undergone the conversion.

It’ll apparently be a bumpy ride for some of the ex-Adelphia folks, but we’re only halfway through March, the conversion target date set for the end of the month…

WEARIN’ OF THE GREEN: St. Patrick’s Day, and the annual parade, is a big deal in Cleveland, and Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio Network (NEON) is once again covering the parade live.

From a TWC release:

Parade coverage, which will air on NEON for the 8th consecutive year, starts at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17th, with a pre-event show featuring parade officials and hosts. The official parade step off is 1:04PM.

The parade will also be available beginning March 19 on Time Warner Cable’s Local On Demand (LOD) channel 411.

It’ll also repeat frequently on NEON itself, starting Wednesday night at 7 PM…

THESE STATIONS CAN BE YOURS: If you have some money, that is.

OMW has dutifully reported that the Beacon Broadcasting chain, which has 5 stations along the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, is up for sale after the passing of Beacon owner Harold Glunt.

An OMW reader found the official description of the sale, with the asking price.

Are you sitting down?

Yes, for a cool $1.25 million, you, too can own five small stations in a below-top-100 market with a depressed economy, when the prices for radio stations have fallen through the floor due to the down national economy.

No, we’re not making that figure up, and it’s not a typo: one-and-a-quarter million dollars for sports WANR/1570 Warren and its daytime simulcaster, WRTK/1540 Niles, classic country combo WLOA/1470 Farrell PA and WGRP/940 Greenville PA, and the class A FM in the group, Christian/eclectic rock/talk WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA.

In case a million and a quarter is too rich for your blood, the stations are also helpfully priced by state – the Ohio stations, WANR and WRTK, are listed for $400,000, and the Pennsylvania stations, WLOA, WGRP and WEXC, are priced at $850,000, both prices in cash (as is the overall price).

The stations’ owned land and owned transmitter sites are included in the deal, and leased land and facilities are priced out in the listing, which also notes the recent format change at WRTK and notes revenue at all five stations at “approx. $12,000 a month”.

All five stations together do not approximate full coverage of the Youngstown market (particularly much of Mahoning County). But we know that Glunt put some money into equipment upgrades early on.

To put some of this in perspective: Remember that CBS Radio sold its full market FMs in Denver, a market much larger than Youngstown, for $19 million. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Beacon stations go for…

About Christine

We’re still “away” from the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) for the most part, though we’d been planning a comprehensive update sometime soon.

Since we’ve been actually sitting on this one since mid-February, and are now getting questions on it from readers, we’ll let this item free early.

Yes, Scripps Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 has a new meteorologist. From a station memo released about a month ago:

Christine Ferreira will join the Good Morning Cleveland team as Meteorologist. Christine comes to Cleveland via Portland, Oregon where she spent three years forecasting mornings for KOIN-TV. Prior to that, Christine was the Chief Meteorologist at KATU-TV in Victoria, Texas, where she guided 24-hour coverage of Hurricane Rita.

Christine is a graduate of Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania and is looking forward to moving back east to be closer to family in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Christine will start at WEWS on March 1, 2010.

That, she did, and the second question is – what happened to incumbent “GMC” weather anchor Jason Nicholas?

Though he isn’t on “GMC” anymore, he’s still at 3001 Euclid – at least as far as we know. Though it’s hard to tell with vacations and such, we believe Jason will land on the weekend editions of “NewsChannel 5”.

This item on TVNewsCheck.com last week still lists Nicholas as part of the “NC5” weather team:

Ferreira joins Good Morning Cleveland news anchors Kimberly Gill and Pete Kenworthy and Chief Meteorologist Mark Johnson and meteorologist Jason Nicholas.

Then again, it was freelancer Eileen McShea we saw one recent weekday evening, subbing for Mark Johnson, not Nicholas…so we don’t know how the lineup is now set…

Big Monday

Our pile of news is large this Monday, so we might as well get it posted and out of the way…

TV MADE EASY: That’s the catchphrase used by Time Warner for its latest digital/HD cable channel changes, which are taking effect starting today.

We’ve already heard from one OMW reader in TWC’s Wadsworth system, who tells us that the flip of the HD channels has already taken place there – from the 400s to the 1000s on the cable lineup. (We’ll need reader help here, as we won’t be able to track the changes systemwide.)

That moves not only various cable HD channels, it moves the HD feed of the local broadcast channels.

For whatever reason, TWC is sticking to its exising analog numbering system for the broadcast channels, which means – for example, as Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 points out on its website – TWC viewers in Akron will see Fox 8 HD on cable channel 1009 (analog is on 9), and in Cleveland, it’ll be on Channel 1008 (analog is on 8).

The “off channel placement” of local broadcast outlets in Akron dates back to the earliest days of Akron Cablevision, trying to avoid ghosting caused by “ingress” of the powerful over-air signals into the cable line. By the time the Cleveland area system was built in the 1980’s, presumably, the company (North Coast Cable, Cablevision) was OK with on-channel placement…we presume due to better filtering technology in the newer system.

From a TWC press release on the move:

“Time Warner Cable is committed to delivering a robust offering of high definition channels to our customers,” said Vin Zachariah, Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio/Western Pennsylvania Regional Vice President of Operations. “We now offer over 100 HD channels, and as a result, we’ve virtually outgrown the 400-block in our lineup. So, by moving them to the 1000s, we enable ourselves to continue adding HD channels and make them easier to find for our customers.”

The channel shuffle will put HD channels on the 1000-equivalent of their digital cable channels: i.e. CNN at 350 will be paired with CNN HD at 1350, and so on. But for those who are still used to tuning in the analog version of CNN on cable channel 24 (which still exists, even on digital or HD boxes), there is no such easy math.

TWC says the process will take place through the end of March.

WHILE WE’RE AT IT: We have word from an OMW reader who is a subscriber to TWC’s former Adelphia system not in northeast Ohio, but central Ohio.

This page shows that mid-Ohio is also going through the HD channel realignment, and that the ex-Adelphia systems are coming along for the ride.

Like the ex-Adelphia systems in the Cleveland area, those customers are also being fed the new “Navigator” program guide this month…

FORMAT CHANGE: Like its Beacon Broadcasting sister stations in the Mahoning and Shenango Valley areas, WRTK/1540 Niles is up for sale…which we reported last week.

While it waits for a buyer, WRTK has changed format.

The daytime station was heard over the weekend running a simulcast of Beacon sister sports WANR/1570, with a legal ID calling it “Fox Sports 1540” along with WANR’s “Fox Sports 1570”.

Until this change, WRTK had been running a Christian contemporary format. It was initially called “Freq 1540”, but dropped the handle some time after sister Christian/eclectic/talk WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA changed from “Freq 107” to “Indie 107.1”.

The rest of the Beacon Empire remains unchanged.

WEXC continues with its unusual mix of Christian and secular rock music along with syndicated conservative talk (Premiere’s Glenn Beck and Jason Lewis). And WLOA/1470 Farrell PA and WGRP/940 Greenville PA continue with their satellite/computer fed classic country format…

CHUCK’S BACK: We’re not entirely sure if SportsTime Ohio was created as part of a Full Employment Act for Cleveland TV Sportscasters, but it’s provided Chuck Galeti with a landing place.

STO will debut “Chuck’s Last Call”, a call-in show that will air after Cleveland Indians telecasts, on April 7th.

From an STO release:

“I’ve been in radio and television for 23 years and to finally have my own show that puts the fans first is great. I’m thrilled to be on SportsTime Ohio and the fact that they are giving me this opportunity is fantastic,” said Chuck Gateti.

Galeti, of course, was most recently a sports anchor at Raycom Media’s CBS/MyNetwork TV combo WOIO/19-WUAB/43’s “19 Action News”, and in addition to past work for Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3, has also done radio sports talk at Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100. He started his TV career at Youngstown’s WFMJ/21, the Vindicator-owned NBC affiliate.

About that “Full Employment Act” line – STO has been a landing place for many displaced over-air Cleveland TV sportscasters.

Former Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 sports anchor/reporter Sue Ann Robak is among many who have done work for STO (in addition to filling Galeti’s vacancy at WOIO on a freelance basis, until the hiring of WTAM’s Mark Schwab).

And former WKYC’er Mike Cairns is still in the building at 13th and Lakeside doing work for STO. He’ll fill-in today on the network’s “All Bets Are Off” show normally hosted by Bruce Drennan, who is jetting back with producer Gene Winters from Cleveland Indians spring training in Goodyear AZ.

(Also in outer-suburban Phoenix watching the Tribe this week: Rubber City Radio oldies/news WAKR/1590 Akron morning host Ray Horner and VP/information media/OMW reader Ed Esposito, and Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria staffer Tim Alcorn.)

SPEAKING OF THE VINDICATOR: We got some questions from Youngstown-area readers about the commercial teases airing on WFMJ/21 during the Winter Olympics – touting a “new newspaper” for the Mahoning Valley.

Was the Vindicator about to get some (more) competition? (Remember, the Youngstown newspaper also competes in much of the Valley with the Warren Tribune-Chronicle.)

It didn’t take long for some of our smarter readers to piece the story together.

For one, WFMJ is owned by the Vindicator. Would the station even accept an ad from a would-be competitor to the print side of its operation?

For another, spots during the Winter Olympics would be prohibitively expensive for a startup operation.

And for a third, the Mahoning Valley economy continues to reel, even compared to the national economic downturn. And for a fourth point, the newspaper business is cutting back, back, back, even in areas with a better economy than Youngstown. Who starts a new newspaper in 2010?

The Winter Olympics spot should have been a clue, as it costs the Vindicator nothing to “advertise” on its co-owned TV station.

Sure enough, the “new newspaper” is actually a revamped Vindicator, made possible by the purchase of a new, er, used $6.8 million press from the Los Angeles Times.

The Vindicator took the opportunity for a redesign, which the paper freely admits will result in cost savings from a smaller form factor needing less costly newsprint.

You can read all about it here on the “Visual Editors” blog…or follow this link to the Vindicator’s own stories on the changes…

TOLEDO CHANGES: It looks like religious operator CSN Radio (Calvary Satellite Network) is about to take over WTOD/1560 Toledo from Cumulus.

So says a page on CSN’s website, with a message dated March 4th:

88.9 FM Pemberville, OH (W205BP) and 100.7 FM Toledo, OH (W264AK) will soon be replaced with the full-power signal of WTOD Toledo, OH on 1560 AM.

Our Northwest Ohio reader who tipped us to this confirms that the 100.7 translator is indeed off the air.

But what we don’t know – what will Cumulus, which got W264AK in the trade with CSN, do with the translator?

There’s been all sorts of speculation in the market, mostly speculating around Cumulus using an existing station’s HD2 feed to power anything from a revamped WTOD talk format to alt-rock, once heard on now-former WRWK/106.5 Delta – now a simulcast of sports WLQR/1470 as WLQR-FM.

We’re here to tell you that we don’t have any handle on 100.7’s future, other than the fact that it has a construction permit to move to 100.9 from a more central location in Toledo…the facility is apparently far enough from the North Central Ohio town of Clyde, which boasts full-power BAS Broadcasting country WMJK/100.9 “Coast Country”…

AND FINALLY: Radio-Info.com’s always excellent columnist Tom Taylor (“Taylor on Radio-Info”) picked up on our story last week about the end of the “translator threat” to Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 Kent “The Talk of Akron”, by a moved-in translator permit on 100.3 in the far western Cleveland suburb of North Ridgeville that has since been dismissed.

Tom added some details in his newsletter this morning…going through sale documents that we origially did not.

According to those documents, religious translator storehouse Edgewater Broadcasting agreed to sell W262BN to Radio One (subsidiary Blue Chip Broadcasting) for $100,000. Radio One put down a $5,000 deposit, which Taylor presumes they’ll want back…and we make the same presumption, based on the language in the assignment agreement.

One clarification here: In going through FCC records, it appears that W262BN retains a valid license – under Edgewater’s ownership – for a Lorain-based facility. The applications dismissed as a result of WNIR’s actions were for a move to a Cleveland license city, with new facilities on a Verizon Wireless cell tower in North Ridgeville. (As we pointed out before, FM translators to not need to show coverage standards for license cities.)

Whether anything happens to that original license, which as far as we know has not regularly been on the air, remains to be seen…

WNIR Kills Radio One Translator

Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 Kent “The Talk of Akron” has successfully killed an effort to put up a new translator on 100.3 (W262BN), which would have been located on a Verizon Wireless cell phone tower in North Ridgeville.

As we reported earlier, WNIR took to its own airwaves to warn listeners in the Elyria and North Ridgeville areas that “an out of town company” was proposing a signal in that area that could interfere with WNIR, and asking those listeners to write to the station.

The Federal Communications Commission agreed on February 26th, and dismissed the application by religious translator storehouse Edgewater Broadcasting of Twin Falls ID (which has filed to sell the translator to Radio One), and another later application that would have moved the Cleveland-licensed facility to 99.1 FM – an effort to respond to Media-Com’s filing to deny the translator move.

And it appears that WNIR’s appeal to listeners in the area of the proposed translator took the day.

From the FCC decision letter (PDF file):

The petitioner has demonstrated that it has listeners within the 60 dBu of the proposed translator station and that grant of the translator will result in interference to those listeners.

The decision also dismissed a newer application by Edgewater, seeking to change the translator’s frequency to 99.1 FM.

That dismissal was of a waiver Edgewater sought to move the frequency out of the accepted range for such a move – 1st, 2nd or 3rd adjacent to 100.3, or to an “IF” frequency 10.6 or 10.8 MHz away.

An “IF” move would have, by necessity, dumped the station into a potential frequency in the non-commercial band, and a whole new set of RF gymnastics would be needed to make it into the commercial band again…assuming the first move would have been granted.

Edgewater said it wanted the waiver for 99.1, due to potential interference problems with moving the frequency – with WNIR, or Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7 or that company’s country WGAR/99.5.

The FCC didn’t buy the waiver request, so the translator remains licensed to its 100.3/Lorain site, which we don’t believe has ever hit the airwaves.

As we previously reported, Edgewater agreed to sell W262BN to a subsidiary of Radio One, a sale already approved by the FCC, but filed in mid-January for a 90 day extension of the consummation deadline.

With the proposed move basically dead at this point, it’s anyone’s guess if Radio One is still interested in picking up the translator.

By the way, a big hat tip to long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush at NorthEast Radio Watch, who gave us the heads up…and some of the technical explanation above…