Figuring Out 106.5’s Next Move

As Clear Channel Cleveland gets some attention for a wide-ranging musical stunt on the now-former “Mix 106.5”, just about everyone short of the proverbial dog catcher is trying to guess what the station does next on the still-currently-named WMVX/106.5.

We’ll preface this as being a piece, entirely, of speculation, based on no fact or even rumor about 106.5’s direction after 7:30 on Monday morning.

We’ve heard, well, nothing out of Oak Tree that would give us any hints.

However, “nature abhors a vacuum”, and radio observers do as well, so let’s put some bets down at the World-Famous Format Change Window:

* “GENX RADIO”. This one is getting most of our betting action today.

Though it could vary a bit from market to market, “GenX Radio” is Clear Channel’s latest “hot” format…a young-skewing 90’s music station, basically.

It started in Louisville KY, and expanded to Ohio…where the Columbus market’s “Radio 106.7” flipped to “GenX Radio”.

And just this week, Clear Channel made another flip to “GenX”, ending a rock format at St. Louis’ WSDD “The Sound” (and apparently ending a second gig for WMMS/100.7 afternoon drive host Alan Cox, who was voicetracking middays at “The Sound” from Oak Tree).

Louisville to Columbus to St. Louis…to Cleveland?

Any new format will have to play nice with existing stations in the Clear Channel cluster. Some cannibalization is not entirely out of the question, but not MUCH of it is going to be allowed.

“GenX” would have to be adjusted, mainly vis-a-vis top 40 WAKS/96.5 “Kiss FM”, but we think it could be done.

Remember, Clear Channel’s “name” formats are more branding than strict music formats. “The Brew” in Milwaukee is a little different from “The Brew” in Columbus. “My” is used on a number of stations, from Canton market straight ahead AC WHOF/101.7 “My 101.7” to Mansfield classic hits duo WSWR/100.1-WXXR/98.3 “My 100.1/98.3”.

Just because 106.5 could be “GenX”, it doesn’t mean that it’ll be a direct clone of the stations in Louisville, Columbus or St. Louis…all Midwest markets, by the way, if you’re looking for another sign.

If you’re looking for still another sign, consider that “Mix” programmer Tony Matteo, who programs no other stations at Oak Tree, is still in the building – as far as we know, at least.

That would seem to preclude the second candidate in our list…

* TALK OR SPORTS ON FM. Your home of the FM Talk Watch is discounting that possibility for 106.5.

There are various theories floating around that would support changing 106.5 to a spoken word format, either as a simulcast or replacement for talk powerhouse WTAM/1100, or as talk or sports complement to WTAM, or some combination thereof.

The first is something we’ve been saying here since this blog started in 2005… AM demographics are rapidly aging, and at some point, even big AM news/talkers like WTAM are going to have to consider changing bands.

We just don’t think it’s “that point” for WTAM.

And if 106.5 was headed for a spoken word format, why would they craft a rather extensive music stunt over four days?

If 106.5 was headed for news/talk/sports, why would Oak Tree announce the dismissal of their only full-time on-air staffers, and take the time to note the exit of “Valentine in the Morning”, but not mention the status of program director Matteo…who is as we mentioned, as far as we know, still at Oak Tree?

(For non-regulars coming in via Google search, “Oak Tree” is our regular shorthand for the Clear Channel Cleveland cluster, which is located on Oak Tree Boulevard in the Cleveland suburb of Independence.)

Any news/talk/sports station would presumably come automatically under the oversight of WTAM program director Ray Davis, making Matteo’s role unnecessary. But…as far as we know, he’s still there.

(And if he’s programming the music stunt, we’d like to tip our hat to him. It’s created a lot of buzz locally and nationally, at least among folks who watch the radio business. And we’ve gotten some positive presumably-non-industry-member comments as well.)

We also don’t buy mounting 106.5 as a syndicated talk sister station to 1100, or vice versa.

Such a lineup, even of the best syndicated hosts, won’t draw much in Cleveland, and the cluster is already airing the two biggest hosts, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, on WTAM.

Why mess with that just so you can air Sean Hannity? Live in afternoon drive, Mike Trivisonno would bury Hannity in the first PPMs and beyond, no matter which frequency each was on.

Similarly, sports has (still) a very important role at WTAM, and moving that component to another frequency also messes with Oak Tree’s AM powerhouse.

And finally, there is no impending prospect of a major talk competitor on either the AM or FM band in Cleveland.

CBS is not long for the market, wanting to sell all of its non-Top 10 market holdings. If they were staying, they’d probably flip an FM to sports at some point.

And, our apologies to Salem’s WHK/1420, but no Salem talker is “major” competition for other secular big talk stations in major markets.

Our thought boils down to this: Clear Channel only moves or simulcasts WTAM onto the FM dial when they look at the demos and see there’s dwindling saleable audience. And not a moment before.

And we don’t think they’re close to that point…yet.

* FRESH. Here’s one out of left field, from Detroit.

Clear Channel just relaunched AC stalwart WNIC/100.3 there as “Fresh 100.3”, with a more aggressive hot AC format.

Here’s All Access on the change:

“Our target audience is still the same,” CLEAR CHANNEL/DETROIT OM TODD THOMAS said. “This is the music that radio listeners in DETROIT told us they wanted to hear. With their help, we’ve created a unique sound on 100.3 for 2011 and beyond.”

However, in Detroit, Clear Channel came out of Christmas music on WNIC to revamp the presentation and format. The station did not stunt for days with any kind of music, let alone the all-over-the-map music playlist that WMVX has been sporting since Wednesday morning.

If CC wanted to nudge “Mix” into “Fresh”, they could have just done it last Sunday or Monday.

IN CLOSING: There are other format prospects out there, but probably not likely enough for us to waste time on them here.

The current stunting, meanwhile, has garnered a lot of attention, with a Twitter hashtag – #1065cle, started by long-time OMW reader Kasper from Oak Tree sister station “96.5 Kiss FM”.

And one Twitter user has taken to using the yes.com API to tweet the station’s unusual playlist, song by song.

Even if you take a liking to it, WMVX’s All-Over-The-Road playlist will go away on Monday morning at 7:30. Such a station is a pretty cool novelty, but would drop off the map when the new ratings year starts…

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There Goes Mix 106.5

There had been some speculation that Clear Channel Cleveland hot AC mainstay WMVX/106.5 “Mix 106.5” would change formats after the “Mixmas” Christmas music ended.

When “Mixmas” yielded to “Mix” again on the day after Christmas, many of us were taking our money away from the Format Change Betting Window.

We should have kept it there.

Starting at 10 this morning, WMVX has blown up the long-standing hot AC format, and is stunting by playing, well, everything.

No, we don’t mean a “Jack FM” style variety hits format, which was all the rage a while back.

We mean EVERYTHING.

Consider some of the artists and songs played in just in the past 45 minutes:

Merle Haggard
Destiny’s Child
“All That Jazz” (Broadway show tune)
“The Pennsylvania Polka”

We’ve heard classical and standards music. We’ve heard Chicago, Peter Gabriel and the Rolling Stones, along with Jimmy Dean. At this writing, the station is playing “America”…no, not the band, the patriotic song.

One of our readers points out that you can follow along with the WMVX music madness via the folks at Yes.com. (Polka music and patriotic songs are apparently not in the Yes.com database.)

In short, it may be easier to list what kind of music WMVX has NOT played yet, and OMW hears this trend will continue at least for the first part of this stunting period…if not all weekend.

On air liners proclaim “New year, new station…Cleveland radio changes for the better in…”, and provide a countdown to 7:30 AM Monday.

The station’s website has been wiped out, and replaced with a simple text message mirroring the on-air liners:

Cleveland radio
changes for the better on Monday at 7:30am.

…along with a link to the station’s streaming audio.

Oddly enough, the streaming audio player is still in full “Mix 106.5” mode, and even odder, it opens with a pre-roll video of Daune Robinson promoting the station’s “Daily Deal” promotion.

Odd, because OMW has confirmed that “Mix” staffers Robinson and Jay Hudson are no longer with the station. WMVX didn’t have an extensive air staff in recent years, and they are probably the only on-air staffers at Oak Tree directly attached to 106.5. As you’d expect, WMVX is also ending its carriage of “Valentine in the Morning”, the voicetracked/syndicated morning drive show provided by Los Angeles radio personality Sean Valentine.

As of yet, we have no indication what could be coming on the other side of this stunt.

But Lance Venta over at RadioInsight.com has his Net Gnomes in full gear, and reports that Clear Channel recently registered “1065TheLake.com”.

We caution, however, that radio companies are very much onto the game of snooping into domain registrations.

Even if this domain is not destined for another Clear Channel outlet at 106.5 (Lance noted earlier this month that it could have been headed for Salt Lake City, and indeed, it redirects to Clear Channel’s AC “Today 106.5” in that market), it may mean nothing other than throwing online snoops off for the few bucks cost of a domain name registration.

We will try to update both our Twitter account and this blog as we find out more…

The Best Calendar Ever

Our apologies to long-time personal friend and professional colleague Scott Fybush (“NorthEast Radio Watch”, 100000watts.com, The Radio Journal) for not putting this up in time for Christmas, but there’s still another week to get it before the New Year.

It, of course, is Scott’s world-famous Tower Site Calendar.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Tower Site Calendar, it’s really the only calendar a radio/TV enthusiast or engineering type will ever need.

We’ll let Scott describe it himself, from the most recent edition of “NorthEast Radio Watch”:

Tower Site Calendar 2011 is now available, featuring more than a dozen great images of radio and TV broadcast facilities all over the country (and even beyond – this year’s edition takes us to Mexico!)

Thrill to a night shot of KFI’s new tower! Check out the WAEB Allentown array just after it lost a tower – or enjoy the history at venerable sites like those of KID in Idaho Falls, WCAP in Lowell, KTKT in Tucson and Rochester’s Pinnacle Hill.

But wait – there’s more! We now have a small supply of the new FM Atlas, 21st edition, as well as a limited supply of Tower Site Calendar 2010 as well – plus a very limited quantity (just one left!) of the signed, limited-edition version of the 2011 calendar and much more in the fybush.com store!

Follow that link right there, and you’ll be able to start 2011 with the best in tower site photography on your wall…we have one, of course, on the wall at the OMW World Headquarters.

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) has a history with the Calendar as an observer…we’ve been on the other side of the lens with Scott at many of the sites. In some recent years, we’ve been there for as many as half the pictures.

We struck out this year, due to a drastically reduced travel schedule in 2010, but proudly display the 2011 edition full of photos that are mostly new to us.

We don’t feel too bad about missing the Christmas delivery deadline with this note…we suspect a large chunk of OMW readers are regular readers of NERW, and are well aware of the wonders of the Calendar.

But we gladly, and without asking, give it a hearty plug each year.

And to you and yours, a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and sincere wishes for a very happy holiday season…

Closing Out The Week And Year

After this, OMW will go on official Holiday Hiatus, with a return scheduled for January 3, 2011.

As per usual, we’ll try to get any major media news mentioned here, either on the blog itself or via our Twitter feed.

You can see our Twitter feed on the right hand side of the blog, even if you don’t “do” Twitter…and the items will also appear on our Facebook page…

4:30 NEWS: The trend of early TV news getting earlier isn’t going away with the new year.

Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 enters the Really Early News Race on January 3, when “Channel 3 News Today” moves its start time to 4:30 AM.

Quoting an item on the “Director’s Cut” blog, by blogging colleague/WKYC senior director Frank Macek:

“People lead busier lives, and viewing patterns have changed,” said WKYC News Director Rita Andolsen. “There is now a significant news audience beginning as early as 4:30 in the morning, and we want to serve their needs with the market’s best news, weather and sports coverage.”

“The timing is right,” added Brooke Spectorsky, President and General Manager. “Given how actively this winter has begun, our viewers need weather, traffic and school closings even earlier.”

OMW readers know that WKYC is the second area station to stake its pre-5 AM claim.

Last month, we reported the expansion of WEWS/5’s “Good Morning Cleveland” to 4:30 AM, a move made easier by ABC’s move of “America This Morning” to a 4 AM start.

The pre-5 AM newscast trend is growing, as the importance of morning news in TV grows nationwide. For one, morning audiences are growing… as, in many cases, evening news audiences are shrinking for local stations.

As with WEWS, WKYC will extend its existing morning news team into the earlier half-hour, with anchors Mark Nolan and Hollie Strano, and reporters Maureen Kyle, Darrielle Snipes, along with WTAM/1100 traffic reporter Pat Butler. We’d list the Bloomberg business reporters, but we’re pretty sure they’re nowhere near 13th and Lakeside…

63 CANDLES: Ohio’s oldest TV station is blowing out 63 candles today.

Scripps-owned WEWS/5 Cleveland, which still carries the same ownership, calls and channel number, has more on its NewsNet5 website:

On December 17, 1947, WEWS signed on the air bringing the Cleveland Press Christmas party hosted by Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart to the few television sets in Cleveland.

We were the eleventh television station in the country in the pioneering days of sending pictures through the air.

The call letters for the station were derived from the initials of Scripps founder Edward Willis Scripps. The Scripps company has owned the station the entire 63 years.

WEWS notes that they’ve been in the current facility at East 30th and Euclid for almost as long – the station starting life at East 13th and Chester, spending its first decade with WEWS-FM/102.1 (today’s CBS Radio AC WDOK).

The NewsNet5 piece has video: from the station’s 50th anniversary show (with now-former anchor Ted Henry), and from the 35th anniversary, with Fred Griffith (now at WKYC/3’s on “Good Company”) and Wilma Smith (now 6 PM anchor at WJW/8).

And one interesting fact, coming out of a discussion with long-time friend and colleague Scott Fybush (“NorthEast Radio Watch”): WEWS is one of just four Ohio stations that is on its original pre-1952 channel number…a reallocation taking place that year

That means that though WKYC/3 started on Channel 4 (as WNBK), and WJW/8 started on Channel 9 (as WXEL)…WEWS has always been on Channel 5.

The other Ohio stations? Feel free to guess in the comments.

About the only thing that’s changed with WEWS over the years, aside from the faces on the air? It started life as Cleveland’s CBS affiliate…

9 OUT THE DOOR: Unfortunately for 9 employees at 30th and Euclid, they aren’t there to help blow out the proverbial 63 candles.

OMW hears that the station’s use of the “Ignite” control room automation system has cost 9 WEWS operations department employees their jobs. The layoffs are effective today, we hear.

Such systems are all the rage in TV, and we’ve actually been at TV facilities that reminded us of the “Christmas Carol” scene in an episode of TV’s “WKRP in Cincinnati”, where sales manager Herb Tarlek is the only employee at the WKRP of the Future…and shuts down the station by a switch on a small console on his desk…

NO KISS: A tumultuous year for Clear Channel top 40 WVKS/92.5 “Kiss FM” morning host “Andrew Z” is ending with unemployment.

Andrew Zepeda announced on his personal Facebook page that his contract with the station was not picked up:

As listeners you can tell today KISS FM made it official and has decided not to renew my contract which is up at the end of the month. We had 5 great years at KISS FM taking the show from some of its lowest ratings ever to its highest ratings in over 10 years! It’s disappointing that the station has decided to not stand by me. All I can ask is that you continue to let management know your displeasure.

For now, it appears the new “Kiss FM Morning Show” is basically the “Andrew Z in the Morning Show Without Andrew Z”, with a cast listed as: Bacon, Sara Hegarty, Demetrius, Donny P, Carlos Diaz, and Calen Savidge.

Using Zepeda’s last name in the OMW search engine will bring up a previous story about his legal troubles. Media reports out of Toledo say he is now asking the court to allow him to enter alcohol treatment in lieu of entering a plea…

DAILEY MEMORIAL: We have word of a local memorial for Mahoning Valley native Mark Dailey, who passed away after a long and distinguished career in Toronto…most notably, as a newsman and announcer for “CityTV” in Canada’s largest city.

OMW reader Ed Byers, known as “Ed Richards” in his local radio/TV days, has more:

The Ohio Memorial services for Mark will be held 12 Noon, Saturday, January 15, 2011, at St. Rose Church in Girard. Blackstone Funeral Home in Girard is handling arrangements. His sister Cathy tells me the Hampton Inn on Belmont Avenue (Liberty Township) has a special bereavement rate for those of you coming in from out of town.

Ed tells us the memorial is indeed January 15th, not this Saturday (as printed in a short Warren Tribune-Chronicle obituary).

You can read the full obituary courtesy of the Youngstown Vindicator, with more details on Mark’s life than we’ve even presented here.

Condolences can be left on Mark’s obituary at the Blackstone’s Funeral Home site here

FELLER MEMORIAL: Cleveland TV and radio spent much of the past few days mourning the death of a local sports giant.

Bob Feller, the Hall of Fame Cleveland Indians pitcher known as “Rapid Robert”, died of leukemia Wednesday at the age of 92.

The official TV home of the Indians, SportsTime Ohio, is airing three Feller specials:

The Bob Feller Story, Bob Feller’s Homecoming, and MLB Network’s Studio 42 with Bob Costas: Bob Feller can be seen consecutively Friday night starting at 6:00pm.

There has been plenty of talk about Feller’s death on area TV and radio stations, and interviews about the impact of “The Heater from Van Meter” on the Cleveland Indians, the only franchise where he ever played…

The Big Central Ohio Switch

A big Columbus radio switch has taken place.

This morning at 6 AM, The Ohio State University officially launched “Classical 101”, putting 24/7 classical music on the former WWCD/101.1 Grove City…now known under new call letters WOSA.

The “Classical 101” format also airs on WOSB/91.1 Marion, and according to an earlier announcement by the station, WOSP/91.5 Portsmouth and WOSE/91.1 Coshocton…not to mention taking the HD2 spot on WOSU-FM/89.7. (That side channel has been running the existing “Classical 24/7” feed.)

The station has posted some audio of the WOSA launch, and a picture of the celebration at the launch, here.

WOSU-FM will continue its mix of classical music and NPR News programming for a few more days. It’ll switch to full-time news/talk on January 6th, in tandem with existing outlet WOSU/820 and, according to the earlier announcement, WOSV/91.7 Mansfield.

Confused, yet? You won’t be…after this episode of “Soap”! (Sorry, that’s an old TV reference.)

Confusion still reigns at the other station involved in this switch, the alt-rocker long known as “CD101″…even after losing the “101” part this week.

WWCD has moved to its new digs at 102.5/Baltimore, the former WCVZ, owned by Zanesville’s WHIZ Media Group. The station was the long-time home of WHIZ-FM’s “Z102”, until the WHIZ folks moved it to the Columbus ex-urb of Baltimore, and leased the signal to WWCD owner Fun With Radio. (“Z102” became “Z92.7”, as WHIZ bought the former WCVZ/92.7 South Zanesville for its new local FM home, and moved the WHIZ-FM calls and local hot AC format there.)

Even after classical music started airing on its old home of 101.1, WWCD has continued to use the “CD101 @ 102.5 FM” branding…despite a provision in the 101.1 sale contract that prohibits it from using “101” and “101.1” in its branding after the sale closes, which it did on Tuesday afternoon.

The “CD101 @ 102.5 FM” website – now available at cd101.com and cd1025.com – still contains numerous references to “CD101”, with some “102-five” logos sprinkled in.

Will the station ever become “CD102.5”?

We don’t know. We’ve asked on the “CD101fm” Facebook page, but don’t expect an answer.

We also don’t know why listeners in the Columbus market are still complaining about the sound of the now-relocated “CD101 @ 102.5 FM” at its new frequency…we understand that the station was supposed to relocate the processing equipment after Ohio State took over 101.1, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Speculation department here: Maybe WWCD is hanging onto the “CD101” part of the branding through the “Andyman-a-thon”, the legendary charity event set up by late program director “Andyman” Davis.

It’s coming up starting Friday, and you can find out much more here.

A list of the various Andyman-a-thon events is on the “CD101 @ 102.5 FM” main page.

We can understand the sentimental attachment to “CD101”, the station’s long-time name, especially at an event that’ll have many memories of the station’s biggest name.

It reminds us of Cleveland market CW affiliate WBNX/55 Akron hanging onto its neon version of former WB mascot Michigan J. Frog on the outside wall of its Cuyahoga Falls studios, and nostalgia is not all bad.

But if the station continues to be “CD101 @ 102.5 FM” long after the loss of its initial frequency, new listeners in the market may ask…”What is CD101? I tune there and hear Beethoven”.

The new legal IDs are instructive.

“Classical 101” lists not only WOSA Grove City/Columbus, but also WOSB Marion/Delaware, a nod to the station’s use of the Marion frequency to reach northern areas of the Columbus market out of the reach of 101.1.

Meanwhile, “CD101 @ 102.5 FM” is now WWCD Baltimore, Ohio/Columbus…the folks at the station apparently feel listeners will confuse the Columbus ex-urb for the large Maryland city.

The WWCD call letter move hasn’t yet shown up in the FCC’s online database, and nor has the use of WOSA on 101.1. But we know the latter was already in place for pending future owner Ohio State, and the FCC database on the Internet often lags behind reality…

TV People Changes

Some exits at local TV operations…

END OF HIS ERA: OMW has confirmed a tip we received Tuesday about Time Warner Cable’s management locally.

Vin Zachariah has resigned as head of Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio division for “personal reasons”.

He took over the local arm of the cable giant in September 2009, taking over for long-time TWC NEO boss Steven Fry.

We’re told that Doug Whiting, the company’s Midwest Regional Vice President for Customer Operations, will step in on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is selected…

SOME LAYOFFS: As hinted here on Tuesday, one local TV operation has indeed laid off three off-air staffers.

The station is Western Reserve PBS (WNEO/45-WEAO/49), where three staffers are gone due to economic conditions.

Western Reserve Public Media president/CEO Trina Cutter confirms the layoffs in a statement released to OMW. The statement will be reprinted in full at the bottom of this item:

One is a production assistant position; the other two are master control and traffic positions. Staff members will be asked to multitask to pick up some of the work of the three employees, while outsourcing also will help cover the tasks. It pains us to have had to make the reductions, but it was necessary for us to modify our budget to meet expenses.

OMW hears that one of those let go was a long-time station staffer, who had been with the Kent-based public TV operation (formerly known as “PBS 45 & 49”) for 29 years. (NOTE: We have removed the staffer’s name.)

Cutter tells OMW that the cuts were needed to shore up the station’s finances:

If we were to continue on course without modification, we would end up with a deficit budget in FY11. In this economic environment, it’s challenging to find more corporate support for general operations, plus we have experienced a decrease in support from foundations and cuts in State of Ohio funding.

Cutter does note that membership revenue, the “single largest source” for Western Reserve Public Media, is “holding steady”.

But about the production side of the house, the station’s top boss notes:

Like most PBS (and even many commercial) stations, we cannot maintain a fully staffed, full-time production crew — and, in fact, we never have. Throughout the organization’s history, the majority of the crews for our productions — including pledge — have been outsourced on a per-project basis. “NewsNite” and “NEOtropolis” were designed this way. It’s not news that more and more businesses and organizations are focusing on an “outsourcing” model. It is a national trend that began before the economic downturn.

“Survival of the fittest”, Cutter calls it, noting that unlike certain competitors, Western Reserve doesn’t have money from a county “sin tax” to fund arts organizations.

OMW hears that the move to Kent State’s new studio means “NewsNite” is produced with help from students at KSU, and that “NEOtropolis” is produced at the station’s hub at Main and Market in Akron by “a mix of freelance professionals and some temp staff from the station”.

Cutter’s statement is below:

———–

We did lay off three employees (Monday). One is a production assistant position; the other two are master control and traffic positions. Staff members will be asked to multitask to pick up some of the work of the three employees, while outsourcing also will help cover the tasks. It pains us to have had to make the reductions, but it was necessary for us to modify our budget to meet expenses.

If we were to continue on course without modification, we would end up with a deficit budget in FY11. In this economic environment, it’s challenging to find more corporate support for general operations, plus we have experienced a decrease in support from foundations and cuts in State of Ohio funding. The good news is that membership revenue, the organization’s single largest source of revenue, is holding steady. We are grateful to our members for their continued loyal support.

Like most PBS (and even many commercial) stations, we cannot maintain a fully staffed, full-time production crew — and, in fact, we never have. Throughout the organization’s history, the majority of the crews for our productions — including pledge — have been outsourced on a per-project basis. “NewsNite” and “NEOtropolis” were designed this way. It’s not news that more and more businesses and organizations are focusing on an “outsourcing” model. It is a national trend that began before the economic downturn.

It’s a “survival of the fittest” economic world right now. As long as Western Reserve Public Media stays fiscally and operationally “fit,” we will continue to thrive. And unlike many nonprofit organizations, Western Reserve Public Media does not have an endowment that we can draw on in difficult times; the advantage of a sin tax like arts organizations in Cuyahoga County; or a board that focuses on fund-raising for the station. We may be a nonprofit organization, but we operate very much like a small business that must expediently maneuver through, adapt to and meet challenges in the environment.

Digging Out

UPDATE 12/14/10 1:11 PM: We’ve added a new second item…scroll down…

———-

Pardon us while we put the shovel aside. After all, we’ve been dealing with yet another Northeast Ohio snowstorm…

FROM TWO TO NONE: The older-skewing Youngstown market has long had two standards outlets – Clear Channel’s WNIO/1390 Youngstown, and Cumulus’ WSOM/600 Salem.

It is about to have zero standards outlets, as WSOM has ditched the standards music for talk as “NewsTalk 600”.

“NewsTalk 600” features a mix of Premiere and Talk Radio Network programming, including Premiere’s Glenn Beck and Jason Lewis, and TRN’s Michael Savage, Rusty Humphries, and the morning drive show “America’s Morning News”, along with Westwood One’s Dennis Miller.

It’ll also apparently carry (we didn’t hear it) CBS Radio’s overnight show with Jon Grayson, and long-time OMW contributor Nathan Obral reports hearing some standards music on WSOM right before Grayson’s show late Monday night 12-1 AM – apparently because the station hasn’t yet cleared a talk show to run right before it.

Beck and Lewis have not been in the lineup of Clear Channel’s own WKBN, and were heard on rimshot CCM/hot AC WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA. The former “Freq 107” and “C107.1” recently flipped to the satellite-fed CCM “K-Love” format under its new owner, California-based Educational Media Foundation.

Over at 1390, OMW readers already know that WNIO is just days away from shuttling away the standards (and occasional Christmas music).

It’s heading for a sports format, which, according to on-air announcements on sister talk WKBN/570 and a graphic on the existing WNIO website, will be known as “The Sports Animal”. (That’s a nickname Clear Channel uses for its sports stations in some other markets.)

“The Sports Animal” will debut on December 27th, the Monday after Christmas. As we previously reported, it’ll feature Fox Sports Radio, including midday host Dan Patrick, who is in the FSR lineup, but who landed on Cumulus sports WBBW/1240 via his initial separate syndication deal.

Patrick’s show is now produced by DirecTV Sports, and airs in TV form on that satellite provider, as well as on Fox Sports’ regional TV networks (including Fox Sports Ohio).

As expected, 1390 will also carry sports talk titan Jim Rome, separately syndicated by FSR parent Premiere.

Will the standards format reappear somewhere in the Youngstown market?

We wouldn’t be surprised, though the format’s older demographics are looking less appealing to potential operators, even in an older-skewing market like Youngstown…

NO MORE ROOSTER: The crowing rooster sound was long the audio signature of the Agri Broadcasting Network, established by iconic Ohio farm broadcaster Ed Johnson back in 1972.

The remnants of “the ABN” are now history, with current owner AdVance Broadcast and Communication throwing in the towel, with this message on the company’s website on Friday by company COO Lindsay Hill:

…It is with great regret that I share that today marks the final day of operations for AdVance Broadcast & Communication, Ltd.

I’d like to thank our advertising partners and friends who have supported this journey through the years. And, express my sincere appreciation to each of you for tuning into your radios to join us “on the farm” everyday.

The story of “ag radio” in Ohio is quite complicated.

As near as we can figure, AdVance bought ABN from Clear Channel, and Johnson’s son Bart, along with former ABN employee Dale Minyo, started up Ohio Ag Network as a separate operation.

That network continues on a number of the same stations that also ran ABN, including Dix country/sports WQKT/104.5 Wooster…

BUILDING THE EMPIRE: This is not in Northeast Ohio, but involves a Northeast Ohio operator.

He’s OMW reader Chris Lash, who under his Whiplash Radio now officially owns classic country WYCL/1540 Niles “Youngstown’s Country Legends” and classic hits WANR/1570 Warren “The Blizzard”. (WYCL is the former WRTK, Lash recently changing the calls to match 1540’s on-air nickname. Or, his own initials.)

Lash had been sniffing around the Pittsburgh market to add to the Whiplash Radio Empire, and says he signed a letter of intent to buy dark WZUM/1590 Carnegie PA, which has been owned by the Believe and Achieve Educational Center.

The Pittsburgh suburb of Crafton, which was home to WZUM’s towers, decided they would rather develop the land instead have it as home to a radio station, and recently voted to raze the towers so the site could be used for development.

Tom Taylor’s “Taylor on Radio-Info” newsletter reports that the tower destruction could happen within 30 days…which gives World Champion Tower Hunter Scott Fybush at NorthEast Radio Watch just under a month to get to Pittsburgh and take final pictures of the WZUM site.

After originally considering a Carnegie site, Lash offered to base the station at the Crafton site and hire employees to work there, but development it is, and WZUM is about to fade as only a memory into Pittsburgh radio history.

Chris is moving to Pittsburgh, where he will still operate the Youngstown market stations, and continue his role operating non-comm WYNS/89.3 “Hybrid FM” in the Southwest Ohio town of Waynesburg.

Will he try to buy something else?

Well, another AM in Pittsburgh, WPYT/660 Wilkinsburg, was on the market…but has just been sold to another operator – AllAccess reports that the new owner will be Tim Martz’ Radio Power, Inc., at a price of $290,000…

SHUFFLING: OMW hears that two broadcasters are out at online sports outlet Digital Sports Network – ex-WKNR/850 staple Kendall Lewis, and WEOL/930-Metro Networks veteran and freelancer Matt Loede.

We don’t really cover online-only operations, and have heard a lot about what May Have Happened, but will not get into the details unless we receive solid confirmation.

We earlier reported that former WTAM afternoon co-host/producer Paul Rado left DSN shortly after its launch, to concentrate on his “Star Frame Bowling Challenge” TV show.

“Star Frame” airs Saturdays at 4:30 PM on Raycom Media MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB/43 “My 43”, and has now added a second clearance Saturday at midnight on sister Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19…

LAYOFFS: OMW is hearing about some off-air layoffs at a Northeast Ohio TV operation.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what we’re talking about…the layoffs have already happened, and those affected already know their fate.

We’re nailing down some details, and will have an update soon…

MATT’S BUSY: The holiday season often means many fill-ins at talk radio stations, keeping those hosts busy…and Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland weekender Matt Patrick is no exception.

Matt tells us that he’ll fill in for WTAM morning drive host Bill Wills the week of December 27-31, as well as doing the 9 PM-midnight show at Clear Channel original “Big One” talker WLW/700 Cincinnati. (We’re not sure when he’ll sleep, somewhere in between, we imagine. We know technology will be involved, with Matt doing some of the broadcasts from his Hudson home studio.)

Matt will also do afternoon drive Christmas eve and 10-midnight New Years’ Eve on WLW.

His “day job” is as morning drive host on WTRC/95.3-1340 “Michiana’s News Channel” in the South Bend IN market, and we assume a fill-in will be in place there while he subs on the WTAM morning drive show…