5’s New GM And Other TV News

NEW BOSS ON EUCLID: Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 has found its new general manager.

After hearing from our sources that former Tampa FL general manager Sam Rosenwasser had been introduced to employees as the new VP/GM at the Cleveland station, we did a Google search – and found that Plain Dealer TV writer Mark Dawidziak had already posted an item about Rosenwasser’s hiring:

Rosenwasser, 57, was the president and general manager of WTSP Channel 10, the Gannett-owned CBS affiliate in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., market. He was at helm of WTSP for seven years, accepting an early retirement package in late 2008.

Of course, in Cleveland, Rosenwasser will be competing with Gannett’s NBC affiliate, WKYC/3.

Rosenwasser tells Dawidziak that he just “couldn’t stay away” from the local TV game, noting that he got a tour of a local TV station when he was just four years old. (Rosenwasser has us beat by about 6 years in that distinction.)

Akron Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels also has an item on WEWS’ new leader, and notes of the departure of former GM Victoria Regan:

A spokesman for Channel 5’s owner, E.W. Scripps Co., said at the time that Scripps and Regan ”mutually agreed to part ways.” Which observers treated with some skepticism.

That might be an understatement.

Heldenfels also notes that Rosenwasser’s early retirement in Tampa “raised eyebrows”, according to a blog item we also found by St. Petersburg (FL) Times TV writer Eric Deggans on TampaBay.com, but says the new WEWS boss insists that “the time was right” to leave.

Rosenwasser has top TV management experience in both Sacramento CA and Austin TX on his 35-year-long resume.

He tells the PD’s Dawidziak:

“My job right now is to do a lot of listening and ask a lot of questions,” Rosenwasser said. “The goal always is to get everybody together at a station and pulling in the same direction. That’s vital to being successful. And although I’m just getting to know my way around, I’d like to see the station more involved with the community. We have a lot to offer, and I believe that multiplatform operation like this has a responsibility to be as involved as possible with the community.”

As he turns from his computer and asks a WEWS colleague “what’s an Ohio Media Watch?”, we have some advice Rosenwasser has probably heard…spend a lot of time actually in the building at 3001 Euclid, directly supervising the station’s personnel – in person.

We hear that’d be a change from the recent past…

MORE SCRIPPS NEWS: The Beacon Journal’s Heldenfels also notes that Bob Sullivan has been named Scripps’ new vice president in charge of (television) content, adding another layer of oversight in its local TV stations division.

Separately, Scripps’ cable network division is launching “The Cooking Channel”, a digital TV network that will replace its “Fine Living Network” on digital cable (SD only for now, we believe) lineups. Scripps’ release says there will be an HD version of “The Cooking Channel”, though we don’t know what kind of carriage it will get.

Press accounts of the new network call it a “younger, edgier” companion to the sister Food Network.

Though the network will appear on the massive Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio system (digital channel 158), the bigger local news is that a Northeast Ohio food TV staple – so to speak – will have his own show.

Akron Beacon Journal food writer Lisa Abraham says Cleveland’s Michael Symon (of the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” fame) will host “Cook Like an Iron Chef” for the new network:

Symon, owner of Cleveland area restaurants Lola, Lolita, B-Spot and Bar Symon, and Roast in Detroit, will teach viewers the skills and techniques needed to cook like an Iron Chef. He will be joined by chef challengers and other Iron Chefs who reveal how they deal with secret ingredients.

Cook Like an Iron Chef is scheduled to premier in July.

We don’t care if Symon came to the OMW World Headquarters in person and took over our kitchen…we couldn’t “cook like an Iron Chef” no matter what. But we wish him the best on his new show…

TWITTER FOR HELP: Though they’ve been doing it for a while, OMW recently discovered that Time Warner Cable is using Twitter for customer support.

The TWCableHelp Twitter account is staffed most of the day, and the company uses private direct messages or E-mail when needed – mostly so customers can pass along account information needed to help them. (Of course, sending your billing/home address in a public tweet is not exactly a good idea.)

Our colleagues at Tri-State Media Watch note that they became aware of this recently, when they were trying to find answers about an HD broadcast snafu seen on TWC’s Cincinnati-based system…

Supersized Update

As promised, here’s our update that spans all over the map, and with updates on just about every subject area we cover. How big is it? Let’s just put it this way…we’re lucky Blogger doesn’t charge at all, let alone by the kilobyte…

WVPX HD: Put on hold by Ion Media Networks’ bankruptcy a while back, the HD upgrade at Ion’s local owned-and-operated station is complete.

Over-air viewers of Akron-licensed WVPX/23 are now seeing an HD feed on 23.1, and viewers of Time Warner Cable will get the station on their HD cable boxes soon…if it has not happened already.

We can also pass along word that in the former Adelphia Cleveland-based system, those picking up clear QAM feeds can find WVPX’s HD feed on RF channel 78.2.

Another oddity of the clear QAM feeds – though they do not appear on cable boxes in the Cleveland-based arm of the TWC NEO system, Western Reserve PBS’ HD WEAO/49.1 and its subchannels are available to those picking up the QAM feeds, mapped to their over-air channel numbers.

WEAO’s main feed is still available on analog cable channel 9 in the former Adelphia system, and WEAO/WNEO’s HD feed and subchannels are on cable boxes in the “legacy” Time Warner Akron/Canton/Youngstown area systems. Time Warner lists the feed as “WNEO” even in the WEAO signal area.

Anyway, back to WVPX. We don’t have a complete list of programming in HD, but it appears that prime-time off-network shows (such as “Ghost Whisperer”) and at least some movies are in HD. Shortly after the launch, we saw an Ion movie in the daytime hours that was not only in HD, but using its original aspect ratio…which should make some movie buffs very happy…

YOUNGSTOWN HD/DIGITAL ACTIVITY: It seems the dust has settled, and Parkin/New Vision ABC affiliate WYTV/33 in Youngstown is now pumping out a million watts of power.

Viewers all over the Mahoning Valley and beyond report drastically improved reception from the new facility. (No, we can’t get it from the OMW World Headquarters…but we also have trouble with New Vision sister CBS affiliate WKBN/27 from this far out on our modest setup. We imagine those in the far eastern suburbs of Cleveland and Akron should have a better shot at it.)

WYTV is indeed more powerful than WKBN, by a few hundred kilowatts, but the station’s antenna is much lower than the WKBN antenna.

Elsewhere on Sunset Boulevard, the multi-station combo is preparing to add the Youngstown market’s first HD newscasts.

It was supposed to happen back on April 19th, but viewers/OMW readers in the market, including PBRTV’s Tom Lavery, tell us that newscasts on WKBN and its sister stations are still in SD.

We can’t find a reference right now, but we seem to recall the update will also bring WYTV’s MyNetwork TV subchannel (33.2) into the world of HD…

WIN IT FOR JOE: When will local sports radio legend Joe Tait hang up his headphones, and turn the Cleveland Cavaliers Radio Network microphone over to someone with very big shoes to fill?

We don’t recall when he said it, but a recent profile of Tait in the Chicago Sun-Times –“Tait, as in great” – has this:

Tait, 72, has said that next season will be his last. If he sticks to that, the breed of working NBA broadcast greats will be down one.


We reported earlier that Tait’s contract was renewed, indeed, through the end of the 2010-2011 season, thoguh even at age 72, Dan Gilbert is likely to keep the iconic Cavs broadcaster behind the microphone for basically as long as he wants.

Tait tells the Sun-Times:

”I feel old, fat and tired,” the signature radio voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers said. ”Some days, I feel like I could go on forever. Other days, I’m not sure I’ll make it past noon.”

and…
‘In a year, the house will be paid off,” said Tait, Evanston (IL)-born and a graduate of Monmouth College. ”Then all I want to worry about is taking care of Jeannie and enjoying the sunsets.”
Though he does sound like a man ready to retire after a long and illustrious career, he tells the newspaper he very much still enjoys his work…enjoyment, presumably, that will be magnified ten-fold if the Cavaliers manage to do what no Cleveland-based major professional team has done since 1964…win it all.

Win one for Tait, indeed.

By the way, tonight’s Game 5 of the first round NBA playoff series against the Chicago Bulls will air on Fox Sports Ohio, and will also be simulcast on broadcast partner Raycom Media MyNetwork TV affliate WUAB/43. The WUAB broadcast of FSOhio games are also in HD, giving over-air viewers a chance to see the game in the crisper TV format.

And by the way again, we’ve confirmed through numerous sources part of an item we ran earlier: The Cavaliers Radio Network is indeed produced at Quicken Loans Arena, not at the facilities of flagship Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100. That means new Cavs Radio Network producer Marty “Big Daddy” Allen doesn’t have to go back to Oak Tree for his new job.

We should have realized this, since the Cavs’ post-game radio show gives 420-exchange phone numbers, the same exchange as used by the team and arena. WTAM uses the standard 578 exchange, an old “choke” exchange used by local broadcasters for years.

Back in the day, the 578 exchange was used so floods of radio contest and request calls didn’t bring down other phone network users, though technology has rendered that problem obsolete…

WHILE WE’RE TALKING ABOUT OAK TREE: A former WTAM staffer is making quite a career change.

Former WTAM news director R.C. Bauer left the building in October 2006, taking a news management gig at sister Clear Channel talk WFLA/970 in Tampa FL.

He got a promotion to the top programming job at the successful Florida station in early 2009, after Gabe Hobbs felt the Clear Channel downsizing axe.

Bauer is leaving WFLA on his own…and to a higher “station” as it were.

Radio-Info.com columnist Tom Taylor provides us the confirmation of a tip we received late last week, in his column which landed in E-mail boxes Monday morning:

RC Bauer hears the call of the ministry and is leaving radio – and his job as Director of Information and Services and PD of talker WFLA, Tampa (970) – to become a full-time minister. RC’s departing the Clear Channel roster at the end of May to become executive pastor at the Generations Christian Church in Trinity, Florida.

Taylor notes that R.C. will remain on WFLA’s local programming advisory board, and could even do some fill-in for the station once he moves to his new role as a pastor…

THE TRIBE IN THE ‘BULA: That’s Ashtabula, and the Indians are getting some FM air-time in that extreme Northeast Ohio community.

Media One Group features both the Indians and the team’s nearby minor league affiliate, the single-A Lake County Captains, on sports WFUN/970 “ESPN 970”.

Conflicts this year will push the major league club onto sister country WYBL/98.3 “The Bull”, with the April Indians/WYBL schedule here.

Last Sunday was a conflict of particular note, with the Captains on WFUN, the Indians on WYBL, and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Media One’s WZOO/102.5 “Oldies 102.5”.

SPEAKING OF MINOR LEAGUE BALL: By the way, according to a Captains release, Spirit Media talk/brokered WELW/1330 Willoughby is resuming its role as the team’s flagship outlet in 2010, with “selected games” on WFUN and WZOO.

Over in Lorain County, we neglected to inform you that the Lake Erie Crushers, the Avon-based independent minor league team, gets a partial broadcast presence this year, with Sunday afternoon home games heard on Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria.

It’s not the entire schedule, but the team had no over-air call in its initial season.

Former WOBL/1320-WDLW/1380 and Metro Networks staffer and voice of Oberlin College sports, Dave DeNatale, called the games online via SportsJuice.com. DeNatale was the afternoon sports update voice at Metro for Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850” in Cleveland, until the local Metro Networks operation closed its Independence facility.

For WEOL, staffers Tim Alcorn and Rob Polinsky are calling the Crushers’ Sunday afternoon contests…

TWC AWARDS: The local arm of Time Warner Cable picked up a lot of hardware at the Ohio Cable Television Association’s annual award ceremony – for a number of programs on its Northeast Ohio Network (NEON) and associated Local On Demand (LOD) channel.

Here’s the list, courtesy of a TWC release:

The 9 Awards:
Excellence in Local Programming – NEON/LOD programming
Education Outreach – Connect A Million Minds
Product Launch/Promotion – Viewer’s Choice LOD Contest
Community Outreach – Connect A Million Minds
Live Action Sports Programming – High School Football Game of the Week
Community Affairs Programming (2) – Helping Hands and Great Lakes Science Center Partnership
Entertainment Programming – Made Here
PSA/Promotional Message – Connect A Million Minds 30-second spot

The awards are called the “Image Awards”, which are “established to honor OCTA members’ efforts to build and enhance relationships with their customers and foster a positive image in their communities.”

The local programming is part of the service’s arsenal in competing against satellite and other multichannel providers like AT&T U-verse. Or as TWC VP/Communications and OMW reader Bill Jasso puts it:

“NEON and LOD are unique to Time Warner Cable, an added value only available to our customers.”

THE ZONE IS BACK: It had been speculated by many of our Toledo-area readers for some time, but Cumulus has indeed used an FM translator to bring back a format recently killed to give sports WLQR/1470 “The Ticket” an FM home.

As expected, W264AK, the former Cavalry Chapel-owned religious translator at 100.7 FM, has moved to a more centrally located facility in Toledo, and is now under Cumulus control at 100.9 FM – pumping out the “Zone” alt-rock format displaced by sports on the former WRWK-now-WLQR-FM/106.5.

Tom Taylor’s Radio-Info.com column notes that the feed is coming from classic rock WXKR/94.5’s HD2 channel, and that Cumulus did much the same in Atlanta for an alt-rock station there (“99X”).

The Calvary Chapel folks, meantime, have completed their end of the swap with Cumulus, broadcasting the network’s religious programming on 1560 AM. The station long held the WTOD call letters, but Calvary Chapel changed calls Friday to WWYC.

This page on the church’s website incorrectly identifies the new station as being at 1590 AM, and incorrectly identifies the new WWYC as an FM station – though it also notes the AM station’s daytime-only operation.

The station does have a construction permit for a whopping 3 watts of nighttime power, a level that might cover a few blocks around the transmitter – if the signal doesn’t get clobbered by the skywave of Radio Disney’s WQEW/1560 in New York City. (We’re betting on the Mouse.)

As Cumulus’ WTOD, the station ran a mostly syndicated talk format.

The WTOD calls are now being parked on a Cumulus station in Hartsville SC…

Clearing Out The To Do Box

Our sporadic publishing schedule means that we occasionally have to clear out the “To Do” box, and that’s what we’re doing today…

NEWSNIGHT “HIATUS”: Western Reserve PBS is shelving the long-running, popular public affairs talk show “NewsNight Akron” after this week…for now.

A release from our friends at Campus Center Drive says that the public TV outlet (known to the FCC as WNEO/45 Alliance-WEAO/49 Akron) will put the Friday evening show hosted by WKYC/3’s Eric Mansfield “on hiatus” starting a week from Friday – April 30th.

Quoting the release:

“Western Reserve Public Media will be reshaping its regional production strategy over the summer,” explained Trina Cutter, president and CEO. “We have exciting programs planned for next fiscal year, and we will use the summer months to explore how all of our regional programs can be infused with new energy, new technologies and new media for our fall season.”

NewsNight Akron has enjoyed a loyal following over the last 12 years, reaching its peak audience in the 2008-09 season. “So much has changed in the media landscape since NewsNight Akron was launched in 1998,” Cutter continued. “This is an opportunity to reshape the program to ensure that it fits stylistically with the rest of our regional productions.”

When/if “NewsNight” returns, and in what form, seems to be anyone’s guess. And yes, there are some wondering “if” it will return.

We hear that the show hasn’t taken a summer hiatus before, and the above quotes from WRPBS boss Trina Cutter seem to indicate that if “NewsNight” does return, you basically won’t recognize the show.

It’s probably a safe bet that the station will do SOME sort of public affairs presentation aimed at the underserved Akron area – which still misses the nightly news program on what is now WVPX/23, anchored in its most recent incarnation by “NNA” host Mansfield. The newscast ended its run on Time Warner Cable’s “NEON” local programming channel.

Western Reserve PBS says “Inside Washington” will replace “NewsNight” in its Friday 9 PM slot on WNEO/45.1-WEAO/49.1, and the show will be replaced by other programs on the “Fusion” channel (45.2-49.2).

The new local business magazine “NEOtropolis” is unaffected, and will continue to air on Friday nights.

“NewsNight Akron” has featured both Mansfield and a regular panel of Akron area print and broadcast journalists discussing the week’s news events that affect the Akron area…

HAPPY 85TH: When a radio station reaches 85 years on the air, it’s an automatic cause for celebration.

That anniversary is being marked today by NextMedia talk WHBC/1480 in Canton, which is spending a lot of time commemorating its long service to Stark County.

Quoting a station release:

All day long listeners will hear from former on-air personalities, newsmakers, and community members who will talk about their experience with WHBC and its legacy in the community. Audio clips of days gone by will pepper the airwaves. A special area of the radio station’s website – www.whbc.com – will be set aside with pictures and information about the radio station’s history.

“We take a lot of pride in providing a service to our community. It’s an honor to have served this area for 85 years and we plan to continue that tradition for many more to come” said Program Director Pam Cook.

And yes, we’ve linked that special 85th Anniversary section above.

WHBC started broadcasting on March 9, 1925 from the St. John’s Catholic Church in Canton, with its first facility sporting just ten watts of power at the AM dial position of 1180. Today’s WHBC broadcasts with 15,000 watts day, 5,000 watts night on AM 1480.

WHBC has been through a lot in those 85 years, and through a lot recently.

The station was locally owned for a long time by Beaverkettle (the Vodrey family), and was sold to the NextMedia chain in 2000.

After a lengthy run playing some sort of music (most recently oldies) as a “full service” station, WHBC turned to talk radio in 2007, including new local shows with Ron Ponder and Sam Bourquin (who took over afternoon drive from Jim Albright, now doing morning drive at Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 in Akron). The changes have been extensively reported in this very blog.

WHBC’s Wikipedia article contains a lot of details about the station’s extensive history…

BROWNS NON-PRIME: We have spent time in the past figuring out who would broadcast the prime-time games of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns locally. NFL rules require cable/satellite networks (ESPN, NFL Network) to sell their games to over-air stations in the two teams’ home markets.

We won’t have to track that this year.

The NFL schedule came out Wednesday, and the rebuilding Browns have no prime-time games in 2010.

That means the team will play every game this year on Sunday afternoons at 1 PM – there are not even any 4:15 PM Sunday games.

The last 6 weeks of the season, any of the Browns games could be grabbed by NBC for “Sunday Night Football”, thanks to the NFL’s “flex” scheduling rules. Of course, the Browns would have to be basically “on fire” in late season for that to happen, which is about as likely as your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) launching a 2012 presidential bid.

The all-Sunday 1 PM schedule lands the bulk of the team’s games on Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19. A couple of games will air on Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8, since Fox is the NFC carrier and airs Sunday afternoon games involving NFC road teams – the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers on the Browns 2010 schedule.

The September 12th opener against the NFC’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tampa will be on WOIO, since CBS carries AFC road games…

SPEAKING OF POPULAR SPORTS: The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers are atop the local sports TV ratings heap – well, at least compared to Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians, at any rate.

That’s according to a new item on the blog Sports Media Watch (no relation), which notes that LeBron James and company on Fox Sports Ohio have the second highest rating nationwide among NBA, MLB and NHL teams at 8.59.

When you factor in households, the Cavaliers drop to 8th nationwide (131,000) – considering that huge markets like New York City have many more TV households than Cleveland, which catapults the New York Yankees to the top of the households list.

(MLB’s Boston Red Sox are first on the ratings list and second on the household list. You’re welcome, long-time friend, colleague and diehard Red Sox fan Scott Fybush at NorthEast Radio Watch.)

The Indians on SportsTime Ohio show up at 34th (ratings) and 41st (households) on the list – with a rating of 2.84 and 43,000 households.

Showing the smaller market size of Columbus, and the lesser popularity of the NHL, hockey’s Columbus Blue Jackets are 60th on the ratings list (1.39) and 76th on the households list (13,000).

It could be worse for the Blue Jackets.

The NHL’s Florida Panthers (based in the Miami area) are at the bottom of the list, with a rating of just 0.25 and a household audience size of just 4,000 people. We’d say there are more people watching in person, but the team’s attendance figures are probably bad as well.

As we noted on our Twitter feed, NFL and NCAA football are not included on the Sports Media Watch list. Unlike the NBA, baseball and the NHL, pro and college football contracts are generally granted on a national basis.

Still, we’d be interested to see how the always popular Cleveland Browns compare in Northeast Ohio, and how dominant the Ohio State Buckeyes are in Columbus…

TWO QUICK ITEMS WE DON’T KNOW: Yes, as noted on our Twitter feed, we saw former Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 weekend anchor Lydia Esparra anchoring over the weekend on WOIO’s “19 Action News”.

We don’t know yet if there’s any permanent job attached to Esparra’s appearance at Reserve Square, or if she’s freelancing, much like former Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 sports anchor/reporter Sue Ann Robak did for “Action News” until the station hired former Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 sports anchor Mark Schwab for its weekend/reporting opening.

We also don’t know – yet – what happened to Russ Jeske, the long-time co-host of WTAM’s “Golf Show” on weekends alongside Gary Trivisonno.

The show’s page on WTAM.com now lists Jimmy Hanlin, long a veteran of golf-related local sports media, as Trivisonno’s co-host. (Yes, Trivisonno is Mike’s brother, for those who don’t know already.)

Hanlin is apparently is no longer co-hosting Good Karma sports WKNR/850’s “Northern Ohio PGA Golf Show” with WKNR’s Greg Brinda, though it is still listed on his website

The Big One

Our two items are both about “The Big One”, the colloquial name for Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland (a name borrowed under common ownership from sister Clear Channel talk WLW/700 Cincinnati)…
TRIV SHOW EXIT: OMW has confirmed that “Mike Trivisonno Show” technical producer “Dirty Kurt” McLaughlin is no longer with the station.
We hear that Kurt resigned from his position on the afternoon drive show Friday evening, due to what is being called “personal reasons”.
And no, not only do we not know what that means, we’re not pursuing any specifics. It would appear he resigned of his own accord.
The move means that the Triv show had to change its “Dirty Word of the Day” segment to take out Kurt’s name…
AND BEFORE KURT: McLaughlin’s long-time predecessor on the Triv show is getting some publicity.
The Plain Dealer’s John Campanelli gives former Triv show producer/sidekick “Big Daddy” Marty Allen the PDQ Treatment this morning.
Campanelli informs readers of Allen’s Internet talk radio show, which we mentioned some time ago, and that he’s now a technical producer for the Cleveland Cavaliers Radio Network.
WTAM is the Cavaliers’ flagship, but we believe the radio network is run separately through the team itself. We don’t know if the team’s radio network is physically produced out of Oak Tree, or at Quicken Loans Arena.
We were going to mention this anyway, as we heard Cavs radio voice Joe Tait mention Marty Allen during Saturday’s first playoff game with the Chicago Bulls. (And yes, once again, we hope the team “Wins One for Tait”.)
Marty doesn’t quite rip into his former host in the PDQ item, but…quoting a line that probably says it all about his relationship with Triv post-show:
Let’s say you’re driving on 480 and see Mike Trivisonno, and he’s got a flat tire on the side of the road.

I wouldn’t help him.
Allen says he hasn’t listened to the Triv show since he exited, and declines to blame the host for his departure in April 2009. He talks about his attendance at the funeral for Linda Trivisonno, telling the PD that he knew “he would probably never speak to (Triv) again” afterwards.
He also believes that whenever Trivisonno leaves his job, WTAM will replace him with a national host, saying a local host won’t get “that opportunity”.
Oh, and there’s this “Editor’s note”:
Editor’s note: Some of the remarks were critical of his former colleague and employer. When informed, Trivisonno responded, on the air, “Are they [PDQ] that hard up?” Asked if he wanted to respond, he said, “For me to respond to that, that would be an absolute joke.” When asked if Clear Channel wanted to comment, WTAM Program Director Ray Davis replied via e-mail that he “enjoyed working with Marty Allen and he wishes him nothing but the best,” and that the station can’t comment about personnel matters.

Ohio’s Mobile TV Future

A host of TV station owner groups are banding together to create a much broader future for mobile digital television, and nearly all groups in the Cleveland market are involved.

From the first article about the joint venture of 12 ownership groups, courtesy of TVNewsCheck’s Harry Jessell:

The groups: Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Fox, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., Ion Television, Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., NBC, Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media.

In the Cleveland market alone, that covers Gannett (WKYC/3-NBC), Scripps (WEWS/5-ABC), Raycom (WOIO/19-CBS and WUAB/43-MyNet), and ION (WVPX/23).

Fox affiliate WJW/8 is no longer owned by its network, having been sold to Local TV LLC. It’s one of two commercial stations in the market not on the list – the other is locally-owned Winston Broadcasting CW affiliate WBNX/55. (Oh, and Univision’s WQHS/61…but we don’t speak Spanish.)

Groups like Cox and Media General are in other Ohio markets – Cox has CBS affiliate WHIO/7 Dayton and Media General has NBC affiliate WCMH/4 Columbus (formerly owned by NBC itself).

Today, again thanks to Mr. Jessell and TVNewsCheck, we know that the joint venture aims to do more than provide mobile-friendly signals of local broadcast outlets:

The 12 major TV station groups that announced plans on Tuesday to form a joint venture to pursue the mobile DTV business envision a national service of at least 10 mobile channels and possibly many more.

And what kind of channels?

…NBC and Fox have agreed to make their programming available to the joint venture. That programming includes broadcast network programming through their affiliates as well as cable networks.

NBC’s collection of cable networks includes Bravo, USA Network, Syfy, MSNBC and CNBC. Fox has the Fox News Channel and FX among others.

To us, it sounds like the old USDigital service retrofitted for 2010.

USDigital offered a lower-cost, smaller collection of cable TV channels using unused DTV spectrum. The service used a special converter (available at Wal-Mart). We never saw it in Ohio, because it didn’t ever leave one or two test markets. We’re not sure it even got out of Salt Lake City UT.

This venture is different, technologically, because it’s riding on mobile DTV spectrum. ATSC M/H (mobile/handheld) is still being tested, and provides something current over-air DTV does not – a stream that can be easily displayed on the move, in a car, or in your hand.

The bandwidth, of course, isn’t enough to support HDTV. But as we know from early experience, trying to catch a DTV signal from a moving car is currently pretty much impossible. Receiver technology has also improved dramatically since when USDigital was around, not even accounting for the mobile part.

This service won’t bring cable networks to free broadcast, as far as we can tell. It sounds like a pay service much as described above. There is also talk of a “print” component, whatever that means.

We’re presuming that the stations will still offer the mobile-friendly versions of their broadcast signals for free, but we can’t confirm that from what we’ve read. We’re also wondering if Fox, a participant offering the broadcast programming to the venture, will offer locally-programmed non-owned affiliates like WJW.

We could be wrong on any of this, and welcome corrections…

The Ohio Connection

Here are a couple of very unrelated items about Northeast Ohioans in or near the national media spotlight…

CONVENTION TIME: Those in local radio and TV are noticing that many people have left Ohio for Las Vegas this week, site of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) annual convention.

Long-time OMW readers are aware that a regular reader of the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), Rubber City Radio Group VP/information media Ed Esposito, has been involved with what is now the Radio-Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and is the current chairman of the associated Radio-Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF). Rubber City owns oldies/news WAKR/1590, rock WONE/97.5 and country WQMX/94.9 in the Akron market.

The organization’s middle letters were switched recently – ND for “News Directors” became DN for “Digital News”, in an effort to broaden and modernize the group.

Ed is wrapping up his service to RTDNA/F, and he’s in Las Vegas this week as a part of the RTDNA@NAB convention. He was RTDNA chairman before moving to the same role at the Foundation side of things.

And you can see some of what Mr. Esposito is doing in Las Vegas, with this YouTube video interview with CBS News mainstay Steve Kroft, honored by the RTDNA with the 2010 “Paul White Award”:

The interview is available here in case you can’t do embedded YouTube video.

And a reminder – Esposito is not the only newsie with local ties affiliated with what is now RTDNA/F. President-emeritus Barbara Cochran, a veteran newswoman, is an Akron native…

NATIONAL AND LOCAL: With the popularity of the political Tea Party movement among talk radio listeners, it’s no surprise that a virtual train of talk radio hosts has attached themselves to the effort. Or maybe we should say “bus lineup”.

The latest incarnation of the Tea Party movement is the third Tea Party Express bus tour across America, which showed up in Berea at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds on Sunday, talk show hosts in tow.

For one, the national chairman of the Tea Party Express tour is a California radio talk show host – former KFBK/Sacramento host Mark Williams, who still does remote ISDN fill-in (much like Clear Channel talk WSPD/1370 program director/afternoon drive host Brian Wilson does) for stations across the country.

Dial Global syndicated host Neal Boortz is on the schedule for the tour’s final stop, a tax protest in Washington DC on Tax Day 2010.

But the local hosts are not ignoring one of the biggest political movements in many years, according to an article from the Akron Beacon Journal.

Take Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 weekend host Matt Patrick – the former hot AC WKDD/98.1 morning driver and talk WHLO/640 midday host out of Clear Channel’s Akron/Canton Freedom Avenue complex in northern Stark County, now appearing out of the company’s Cleveland market hub at Oak Tree.

Matt has taken the stage at a number of Tea Party-linked events, and was a local emcee for the Berea event. He’ll also be fronting Tea Party rallies in Akron and Medina in the next few days. It may be easier to list what Tea Party events Patrick is not attending locally.

And his WTAM co-worker, evening/weekend host Bob Frantz, is also getting into the Tea Party mix, emceeing a Tax Day event in Cleveland. Not only that, WPGB/Pittsburgh-based syndicated host Jim Quinn (“The War Room”) is scheduled for a University Heights event on Thursday. Quinn’s show is heard middays on WHLO on delay – the replacement for Patrick’s old program.

Of course, Frantz, Patrick, Quinn and even national chairman Williams – a regular on cable TV news shows – are somewhat overshadowed by the movement’s biggest name… former Alaska governor, 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and current Fox News contributor Sarah Palin.

A note: Back and forth political sniping will be deleted in the comments. We’re not writing about the political policies of the Tea Party movement one way or the other, just the involvement of local radio hosts in it…

From Cleveland To Youngstown to Canada

…and beyond, as this is quite a geographically-broad update…

KEN COURTRIGHT: Services were held Thursday for long-time Cleveland and Northeast Ohio radio newsman Ken Courtright, who died Saturday at the age of 74.

A complete obituary is available at the Linn-Hert-Geib Funeral Home website, and in our earlier item, someone posted a comment with a link to video of the service, which is now archived and available for viewing. (It appears to be password protected, so we’re not sure we should link it here…)

THE REALLY BIG SUB: We didn’t realize until nearly the end of the show that Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850″‘s highest-profile hosts made another appearance on America’s most popular syndicated sports talk radio show.

Yes, it was the “Really Big Show’s” Tony Rizzo and sidekick/producer Aaron Goldhammer subbing for Premiere Radio’s Jim Rome again on Thursday.

We heard just the last few minutes of the show, and noted that Rome’s Akron market affiliate, Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 “Fox Sports 1350”, again declined to give three hours of airtime to hosts from its biggest competitor. WARF ran the Fox Sports Radio feed of Stephen A. Smith, repeated from his live morning drive show.

And for what it’s worth, WARF didn’t have to do any more than stick with the FSR live feed on Thursday. Smith’s repeat is offered up 12-3 PM weekdays by the network, which does not do live counter-programming against the separately syndicated Jim Rome show. Many FSR affiliates run Rome off the Premiere feed. Premiere, an arm of Clear Channel, is the parent company of FSR, using the Fox Sports Radio name in a licensing agreement with Fox.

Anyway, the “Really Big Show” appearance on Rome’s show on Thursday prompted Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer to write about it in an article called “Rizzo, Goldhammer continue to impress”:

Rizzo was silky-smooth, chatting and joking seconds before going live to the sports nation. He handled the critical opening segment splendidly, juggling (Tiger) Woods at The Masters, the “creepy” Woods Nike commercial, the Yankees and “American Idol,” among other topics. Rizzo seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself, which is the No. 1 reason why he has been so good in the Cleveland market for so long on radio and TV.

Rizzo set the bar high April 8 and maintained the level of excellence. He received timely help from his sidekick, Goldhammer, who continues to grow on me. It would have been easy for “Hammer” to agree with Rizzo on all his major points so as to keep a national show as wrinkle-free as possible. But Hammer was not afraid to balk at Rizzo’s contention that the galleries at Augusta would give Woods a pass all week, insisting at least one person over four days is going to cause a stir by saying or doing something outlandish.

Manoloff’s piece appeared on the Plain Dealer’s Cleveland.com just ten minutes after the Rizzo/Goldhammer sub-appearance ended…he wrote that he spent the first hour watching the show from the WKNR studios at the Galleria. The sports talk duo couldn’t have paid for better advertising.

Oh, by the way, yes, we’re aware of the $50 million suit filed against the Plain Dealer by a Cleveland judge, upset that the PD unmasked her E-mail account linked to comments on cases in her courtroom on the paper’s affiliated Cleveland.com. (The judge says her daughter made the comments in question on a shared account.)

We don’t have much to say about it, aside from the overall question of privacy expectations for anonymous commenters on a news website. We’ll talk about it in depth at some point down the road…

ALAN COX: We noted this earlier on our Twitter account – as an afternoon drive personality at a Cleveland station picks up a second gig as a voicetracker.

Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7 afternoon host Alan Cox will voicetrack middays for CC sister modern AC outlet WSDD/100.3 “The Sound” in St. Louis – from his perch at Oak Tree.

The move was first noted on AllAccess, but the weekly Cleveland Scene has picked up on it as well. Cox tells Scene that the VTing gig “will be a separate production”, noting that the St. Louis gig is on a “more music-intensive station”.

We’ve heard occasional music on Cox’s WMMS show, but it’s mostly a talk show…

KASPER NATIONAL: AllAccess also mentions that Clear Channel Cleveland top 40 WAKS/96.5 “Kiss FM” afternoon driver/assistant program director/OMW reader Kasper gets a guest hosting gig this weekend on a national show.

Kasper will be on “The Weekend Throwdown with Jagger”, which doesn’t list WAKS on its affiliate list – but does list another Kasper “Kiss FM” outpost in Northeast Ohio, sister top 40 WAKZ/95.9 in Kasper’s hometown of Youngstown. (We think, but are not positive, that Jagger has Mahoning Valley ties as well.) The show airs Sunday evenings 7-11 PM on WAKZ.

This also is not Kasper’s first national go-round, of course.

In addition to voicetracking shifts on stations as far away as Baton Rouge LA (if we remember right), as far as we know, Kasper is still featured on the XM Radio “Kiss FM” satellite channel…

SPEAKING OF YOUNGSTOWN: A quick trip into Trumbull County the other day provided us with first hand confirmation of recent radio moves there.

We did indeed hear ESPN Radio on the new “ESPN 96.7”, known to the FCC as WLLF/96.7 Mercer PA, just over the Ohio border from Youngstown and Warren.

We also heard the station promote not only Pittsburgh Pirates baseball, but a simulcast of sister talk WPIC/790 Sharon PA’s “PIC Sports Line”. That move was already noted by PBRTV’s local correspondent, Tom Lavery, and made it to Tom Taylor’s “Taylor on Radio-Info” column.

But as far as we know, “PIC Sports Line” is not a daily show, and airs only on Mondays (a fact confirmed by the promo, which told listeners to tune in for the show on Monday nights).

The Youngstown Vindicator picked up on the WLLF changes in a Sunday item, noting that the new signal will return Pirates play-by-play to the Mahoning Valley…saying the 96.7 signal is available on “most” Mahoning Valley radios.

That was borne out in our drive into Trumbull County on Tuesday, though the signal is a bit fluttery in Warren and Niles. (Akron-licensed and Cleveland-based WAKS/96.5 puts a very strong signal into Trumbull County, just one channel away.)

The Vindicator article also notes a campaign we saw on at least three billboards in the region: Fox Sports Pittsburgh is urging Mahoning Valley fans of Pittsburgh teams to sign up for DirecTV, which carries the network for Youngstown market viewers.

Time Warner Cable’s massive Northeast Ohio system does not carry Fox Sports Pittsburgh in the Youngstown market, which the article says is due to cost issues.

When asked about this earlier by an OMW reader in the area, we turned to TWC’s Travis Reynolds, who told us that “we simply do not carry (Fox Sports Pittsburgh) in that area. Even without Fox Sports Pittsburgh, hockey fans can still see NHL games on Versus (Channel 323), NHL Network (Channel 324 on the Digital Sports Tier) or the local NBC affiliate, which is WFMJ (Channel 4)…”

AND ALSO IN Y-TOWN: We confirmed the name change at Beacon Broadcasting Christian/eclectic rock/talk WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA, which is now calling itself “C107.1”.

We’re not music playlist experts, but the “C” playlist seemed heavier on the Christian rock, and we didn’t hear any secular pop/rock songs in our occasional listening…

AND CANADA: And an item from Canada that actually affects the Cleveland radio market.

Long-time CBC Radio One “As It Happens” co-host Barbara Budd is retiring at the end of April, after a lengthy run on the news magazine – some 17 years.

Budd’s retirement affects one of the show’s affiliates – Ideastream public radio outlet WCPN/90.3 in Cleveland carries “AIH” weeknights at 8 PM, via its U.S. syndication by American Public Media…