Radio And TV Closure

UPDATE 6/15/10 2:48 PM: And it’s done…Bill Cunningham is back on the air on WLW, and the station has officially announced that he’s signed a new deal:

700WLW Cincinnati – “The Big One” – today announced that legendary, two-time Marconi Award winning personality Bill “Willie” Cunningham has signed a long term agreement to remain on the station – and reaffirmed his commitment to the Queen City and its radio listeners.

“We are extremely pleased that Willie will remain part of the 700WLW team for many years to come,” said Chuck Fredrick, President and Market Manager – Clear Channel Cincinnati. “The Big One is one of America’s great radio stations because of its personalities and Willie and 700WLW are synonymous. Our audience expects the very best – and 700WLW works relentlessly to exceed their expectations.”

Commenting on his decision, Cunningham said, “Cincinnati is my home. The first air I breathed. The first milk I drank was from Cincinnati. Others may have come as carpet baggers to loot the Queen City and then move on. Willie will remain true.”

UPDATE 6/15/10 1:45 PM: Tribune CEO Randy Michaels says he’s not upset about not getting the radio side of Bill Cunningham, according to the Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter, making the 50th “Willie” joke this week in the title of his blog entry:

“By now you know that he has a new deal with WLW radio which leaves him free to do the TV show, and whatever he wants outside of Cincinnati. What we wanted was to get him on TV. We have no problem with Willie figuring out how to get more money in radio. He’s making more in Cincinnati that we would have paid him in Chicago to do radio. Good for him.”

Kiese says “each party got what it wanted” – Willie his shot at a TV show, and a lucrative radio deal to stay home in Cincinnati, and Tribune a new potential TV host…

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We’ll close the books on two media stories, one on the radio side and one on the TV side. And maybe a little more…

RADIO CLOSURE: All the I’s are not dotted, all the T’s are not crossed, but it looks like “Willie” is staying in Cincinnati.

Clear Channel talk WLW/700 early afternoon fixture Bill Cunningham has indeed told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter that he is about to sign a new “multi-year deal” with “The Big One”, putting the brakes on speculation that he’d join his former lead-in, Mike McConnell, at Tribune talk WGN/720 in Chicago.

Bill Cunningham (courtesy 700WLW.com)Quoting Cunningham himself:

“I had to resolve in my mind where I wanted to be, and I’ve decided I want to stay in Cincinnati,” Cunningham said Monday.

“In my mind, I’m going to stay in Cincinnati. The lawyers are working on the ifs, ands and buts. I believe I’ll be back on the air in the next day or two,” said Cunningham, a lawyer who started in radio giving free legal advice in the late 1970s. He has been heard on WLW-AM since 1983.

Kiese points out Cunningham’s “deep roots” in the Cincinnati area, including his birth in nearby Northern Kentucky, and his wife’s position as a Cincinnati-based appeals court judge.

Cunningham, of course, is continuing to mount his new TV show pilot for Tribune (“Big Willie”), and things are going so well that the company is now aiming for a possible October premiere of the show…according to Tribune programming executive and former WLWer Sean Compton in the article.

We also wonder if the show – set for “16” of the 22 Tribune-owned stations – could end up on Cleveland’s own WJW/8 “Fox 8”.

WJW owner Local TV is joined at the operational hip with Tribune, and we would not at all be surprised to see “Big Willie” on “Fox 8” in October.

But assuming that WLW deal gets signed soon, “Willie” will do his radio talking right where he’s always been, at Clear Channel’s Kenwood studios on WLW.

(Though “Big Willie” will be taped in Chicago, and we would expect Cunningham to – as previously announced – do WLW shows from Chicago while he’s there taping… via ISDN, presumably from the very same WGN/720 studios.)

With the apparent deal, that leaves WLW with just one full-time opening to fill, which is still “A Big One” in its own right – McConnell’s former 9 AM to noon slot.

Evening host Scott Sloan is doing that program temporarily, though we did note that Sloan’s menu option on 700WLW.com has been moved up to the second position after morning drive host Jim Scott.

If we were putting money on it, the 9-noon slot is Sloan’s to lose, and if that’s the case, any new WLW host would take over his 9 PM-midnight show. We don’t see the station turning to syndication, even in the evening time slot.

And what does all that mean for sister talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland weekender and former WKDD/98.1-WHLO/640 Akron voice Matt Patrick, who fills in on WLW on Saturday, June 26th – in the time slot (12-3 PM) formerly taken by McConnell’s syndicated “Weekend” show?

With regular fill-in Eric Deters not interested in full-time talk, it would appear that the 9-midnight slot on WLW would be pretty wide open if Sloan goes to 9-noon permanently.

As of the moment, though, we believe Patrick’s commitment to WLW is only for the June 26th fill-in. We’ll see how things play out beyond that, and if WLW/CC Cincinnati operations guru Darryl Parks wants the former Akron host to do more after that…

TV CLOSURE: We’ve even been asked about this from time to time… why hasn’t Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland felled its former analog transmission tower?

The tower is still up, but the antenna that transmitted analog channel 3 (and old digital RF channel 2) has come down, according to WKYC senior director and blogging colleague Frank Macek in his “Director’s Cut” blog:
Old WKYC Antenna (courtesy Dave Kushman)Construction crews were busy at the WKYC Transmitter site in Parma on Sunday as they lowered the old Channel 3 antenna to the ground. The antenna provided our analog and original digital signal until the switch to all digital television one year ago on June 12th, 2009.

The antenna can come down, of course, since WKYC is transmitting its RF channel 17 digital signal on a tower that went up right next to the old tower.

Which will come down…eventually. Macek reports that the old WKYC tower will be history “soon”.

WKYC transmitter engineer Dave Kushman also addresses some Internet rumors that were going around, and brings them down much like he brought down the old 3/2 antenna:

Dave tells the Director’s Cut Blog that some were worried we might be going back to Channel 3. However, Dave says it best: “Not gonna happen.”

As the item notes, the rumors gained some traction in the local amateur radio community, where some were worried that an RF 3 signal would cause renewed interference on the 6 meter ham band.

An OMW reader ran this rumor past us a couple of months ago, and we got the same indication that’s now been confirmed by Kushman – the station is staying on RF 17.

Kushman has posted pictures of the dismantling of the old Channel 3 antenna here.

WHILE WE’RE VISITING FRANK: WKYC’s Macek also has word of a new reporter hire at 13th and Lakeside. Oops, we mean “MMJ hire” (“Multi Media Journalist” for short).

Amanda Barren (WSAZ photo)
She’s Amanda Barren, who comes to WKYC from WSAZ/3 in the Charleston/Huntington WV market…where she’s been a reporter, anchor and producer for the market’s NBC affiliate. A commenter to the “Director’s Cut” item says she’s done a combination of field reporting and anchoring of WSAZ’s weekend newscasts.

Her resume before WSAZ includes stints at WJET/24 Erie, WTAP/15 Parkersburg WV (former TV home of OMW reader Anthony Lima, now at Syracuse’s YNN), and at Ohio University’s WOUB…where she graduated from the school’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 2002.

And yes, as a native of Geauga County’s Bainbridge, she’s “coming back home” to Northeast Ohio.

Macek says Barren will start at WKYC “at the end of June”…

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One Response to Radio And TV Closure

  1. Tom Lavery says:

    Two of Erie’s TV stations have their antenna towers up. One was leased from WQLN for WFXP analog but the station took the antenna and cable off the tower soon after the switchover. As for WSEE, the tower and antenna is still up on Peach but the station is no longer using the analog signal obviously.

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