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 – – 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 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


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