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…

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