The Year Starter

UPDATE 1/5/11 11:13 AM: An update on “The Homeless Radio Voice Guy”:

With Ted Williams’ story going national, he’s appeared on national morning TV (NBC’s “Today” and CBS’ “Early Show”, among others), and has gotten job offers from diverse places like MTV and the Cleveland Cavaliers. (They want him for voice work, not to play power forward.)

RTDNA’s website cites a “Mail Online” report that Williams once “worked overnight shifts” for WVKO/1580 Columbus, in its days as an urban music station. WVKO now offers Catholic programming as “St. Gabriel Radio”, as OMW readers certainly know, after a stint as a liberal talk station.

Our original report is below…

Well, we were supposed to be on hiatus, and then the folks at Oak Tree pulled us back to the keyboard by blowing up a radio format.

With “106.5 The Lake” stocked with fish (no, not Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 “The Fish”), let’s move on to other things…though we’ll have a followup item on WMVX shortly.

This item will be somewhat long, and may remind you of our long-time personal and professional Friend of OMW Scott Fybush’s NorthEast Radio Watch…but we’ve been gone for a long while, give or take a big format change…

NEW RADIO, NEW TV: The start of the year also brought Cleveland a new TV station. Well, part of one.

As scheduled, Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 launched its second digital subchannel, a rerun haven called “Antenna TV”.

As a close semi-sister to Antenna TV parent Tribune Broadcasting’s stations, WJW was one of a number of Local TV outlets launching the new network at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day, with a “Three Stooges” marathon knuckling its way onto the schedule. A “Benny Hill” marathon followed on Sunday.

On WJW 8.2 over-air, Time Warner Cable digital channel 988 (as of Tuesday) and Massillon Cable digital channel 127, Antenna TV features sitcoms like “All in the Family”, “Married…with Children” and various older shows (“Dennis the Menace”, “Hazel”) and a handful of movies.

For those on the TWC Northeast Ohio system without digital cable boxes, but with digital TVs with cable’s QAM tuning, TWC has added Antenna TV on 8.2…and it may not require rescanning to add it, depending on your tuner.

As of yet, it appears that Antenna TV is entirely a satellite-fed operation, with no local programming yet announced. (If you’re reading at South Marginal, we’ve had at least three requests for the channel to add Big Chuck and Lil’ John/Hoolihan and Big Chuck/Ghoulardi reruns.)

The announcer you hear on Antenna TV is none other than legendary announcer Gary Owens.

And its placement on Time Warner Cable’s digital channel 988 puts it in a new neighborhood where TWC is apparently putting some non-news local channels and subchannels – not in the 370s like we had predicted.

On TWC’s Canton system, that creates a mini-classic TV neighborhood, with Image Video RTV affiliate WIVM-LP/52 Canton right next door (at 989)…

SPEAKING OF WIVM: WIVM, by the way, now has a construction permit to move its main Canton outlet to digital RF channel 39, abandoned by WDLI/17 Canton in its recent move to higher-power RF channel 49, abandoned by Western Reserve PBS’ WNEO/49 Akron since it stayed on RF channel 50 at the analog conversion.

WIVM’s Dover/New Philadelphia area sister station, WIVN-LP/29 Newcomerstown, can also flip that “LP” to “LD”, with its digital debut recently.


GOOD TO BE ALIVE: At “Fox 8”, the biggest on-air news was a departure of a long-time station personality.

Sports anchor Tony Rizzo has been serving up highlights, scores and stories at WJW for 13 years, but Friday night was his last regular sportscast for the folks at South Marginal.

The station said goodbye to him on the air with some brief “last day/cleaning out his office” video on Friday’s edition of “Fox 8 News at 10”.

Of course, none of this is news to OMW readers, where we have already reported that Rizzo is ending his TV career to concentrate on radio, where he hosts Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850 WKNR”‘s “Really Big Show”, currently weekdays 9 AM to noon (and we hear that may expand with Rizzo no longer on the tube).

Rizzo will also reportedly take an ownership stake in either the station itself, or owner Craig Karmazin’s Good Karma Broadcasting.

What we don’t know…is if Rizzo left WJW to reduce his heavy work schedule, or if he read the Stations Aren’t Renewing Big, Expensive Contracts handwriting on the wall that a number of local TV personalities have already read.

We’ve already hinted that you may see Rizzo on WJW again…not as a regular sports anchor, as he hinted Friday (“I won’t be the sports anchor here”), but in a once-a-week specialty show capacity. We haven’t heard yet if that deal has come to fruition, but we consider it likely to happen.

Rizzo’s radio career continues to grow, though, as he did another guest shot for Premiere Radio national sports radio kingpin Jim Rome last week. And yes, new sports talker WNIO/1390 Youngstown “The Sports Animal” carried his appearance…

SPEAKING OF THAT ANIMAL: As we reported extensively here, WNIO did make its format change from standards to sports on Monday, December 27th at noon, with Rome’s show opening the “Sports Animal” doors.

Notice we said, “Rome’s show”, since as you might guess/realize from the Rizzo turn on the show, Romey was off for the Christmas/New Years’ holiday.

Thus, the first host on “The Sports Animal” on the 27th was Jay Mohr, the comedian and frequent Rome sub…who probably had no idea what he stepped into in hour number one on WNIO.

Mohr was talking about the respective merits of Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and was actually fairly complimentary to both cities as sports cities. (And of course, Jim Rome himself speaks well of Cleveland on a regular basis, it being one of his early large markets.)

Somehow, the topic of former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar came up, and Mohr was not at all complimentary, jabbing the ex-QB…saying he was “barely standing”, and saying “thank God” that New England Patriots’ superstar Tom Brady recently broke a Bernie Kosar record.

We’re pretty sure that non-radio veteran Mohr did not realize he uttered those words on Jim Rome’s newest affiliate less than one hour after it debuted, and that those words were heard on that station in Bernie Kosar’s hometown of Boardman, Ohio. Oops…

Then again, he’s a comedian, and just a fill-in host, and thus, may not have cared…

TV DISPUTE: Viewers of DirecTV in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, and Time Warner Cable in the Columbus/Mid-Ohio may have cared about missing certain network programming as the calendar turned to 2011.

But…nothing went away.

Time Warner Cable subscribers picking up Sinclair stations, including Columbus ABC affiliate WSYX/6 and Fox affiliate WTTE/28, did not lose those stations, for now…when the companies announced late New Years’ Eve that there would be a two week extension of the existing carriage contract as talks roll on.

Here in Northeast Ohio, the situation was a bit odder.

Raycom Media, which owns Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19 and MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB/43 in the Basement of Reserve Square, sent a curious message out to viewers on New Years’ Eve.

The station, and all Raycom outlets, said on station websites and on-air that the company “sent a signed contract” to DirecTV supposedly based on terms the companies had agreed upon. That message meant that Raycom was not pulling its signals from the satellite provider.

But look here…a new message on WOIO’s as of late Tuesday!

Important notice for DirecTV subscribers
DirecTV has refused Raycom’s offer to enter into a contract that would allow continued carriage of this station through June 2014. Raycom and DirecTV continue negotiations for carriage rights of this station on the DirecTV service.

As far as we know, WOIO and WUAB are still on DirecTV.


We wonder if the key is something we speculated about earlier…that perhaps DirecTV gets its feed of the two Cleveland stations by retransmitting the over-air signal. There would be no way for Raycom to make 19 and 43 “go dark”, unlike with cable systems, which generally receive a fiber-optic feed that can be controlled by the station.

Plus, DirecTV was saying last week, according to reports in some other Raycom markets, that it already had an “automatic” one year extension to carry Raycom stations, something denied by Raycom officials in those same reports.

Over in Time Warner/Sinclair land, Time Warner has played tough with that broadcast group…proclaiming late last week that it can import network programming from all four major networks…not just Fox, as earlier announced, but also ABC, CBS, and NBC, though it’s not at all clear how the cable company would do that.

The loser if these talks fall apart again, of course, is the viewer. Particularly if that viewer loses CBS programming on WOIO…which easily has the market’s worst full-power digital signal…

BRIEF DEPARTURE: We don’t have much on this, but OMW hears that NextMedia AC WHBC-FM/94.1 Canton “Mix 94.1” program director Brian “Fig” Figula has left the station.

We don’t know where he’s going.

There’s a possibility that he’s once again transferring to a NextMedia station in another market…that’s how the former CBS Radio hot AC WQAL/104.1 “Q104” staffer ended up in Canton, transferring from a programming gig at a NextMedia station in Michigan.

But we do know that “Fig” said goodbye to WHBC staffers recently, so that would suggest to us that his departure is indeed voluntary.

We’ll update this item as we find out more…

WHO IS JENN?: Clear Channel Akron/Canton hot AC WKDD/98.1 has a new morning co-host.

She’s Jenn Ryan, who started alongside program director/CC Akron-Canton operations director/whatever other title we forgot/OMW reader Keith Kennedy late last month after a drive across the country from California chronicled on her Twitter account.

She apparently has family roots in Northeast Ohio, but there’s almost no information about her on the station’s website.

And…we have no more information on Jenn other than that…perhaps Keith is too busy trying to snag Akron listeners thrown for a loop by the WMVX/106.5 format change to provide biographical information on his new co-host…


Feel free to take a break now. We’re almost done, but you might want to stretch your legs…

OK, we’re back.

BEACON INTRIGUE: It looks like Mahoning Valley radio group Beacon Broadcasting is officially broken up…almost.

The FCC approved Beacon’s sale of WEXC/107.1 and WGRP/940 in Greenville PA, along with sister WLOA/1470 Farrell PA, to California-based Educational Media Foundation, which has already planted EMF’s CCM “K-Love” satellite format on the airwaves of the Youngstown rimshot stations.

Beacon was under the control of the late Harold Glunt’s son Dennis, acting as executor for his father’s estate.

Broker Ray Rosenblum tells OMW that he’ll now turn to, as previously announced, helping EMF sell off the two AM outlets.

The sale was approved over the objections of former Beacon majority stockholder Michael Arch…yes, that Michael Arch.

According to an FCC letter denying his objections (PDF file), Arch claimed that he had a temporary restraining order in a stockholder lawsuit against Beacon, which he says should have resulted in the FCC blocking the sale.

In the letter, the agency says it found no such TRO, and only found a future court hearing on the request Arch filed in September, on January 12th in a Trumbull County courtroom. Thus, it gave a green light to the transfer of WEXC/WLOA/WGRP to EMF.

That transfer was approved on December 23rd, and we wonder if EMF will move just a little faster to consummate the sale before Arch’s court date…

VOICE OF THE HOMELESS: A viral video is all the rage in the radio community, particularly here in Ohio. (See our update on this story up at the top.)

It is a Columbus Dispatch-produced video on Ted Williams…no, not the late baseball superstar, but the homeless guy in Columbus with the best radio voice on the streets of Central Ohio.

The Dispatch says:

Ted Williams is a homeless panhandler, but today he is an Internet sensation.
Williams told his story and showed off his smooth baritone radio voice in a Dispatch video that has captured the attention of people all over the country.

As it turns out, Williams – according to the video – does indeed have radio training, though he got involved “in alcohol and drugs” for a while, and says he eventually became clean and dry a couple of years ago.

But he doesn’t have a radio job, though he will be on a big station on Wednesday, and on TV all over, says All Access:

CLEAR CHANNEL Top 40 WNCI/COLUMBUS PD TONY FLORENTINO tells ALL ACCESS, that “DAVE & JIMMY are going to have TED on their show on TOMORROW (1/5) and with coverage from all three local net affiliates, INSIDE EDITION, CNN, and the TODAY SHOW. Wonder who will offer him a job?”

The sad reality in the radio business is that he may not be the only homeless former radio guy in Columbus, and that some radio folks could be a lack of a paycheck or two away from that position. We know of at least one radio person who is wondering where he’ll live in a month or two.

Williams will get something of a boost out of this, and could probably string together a voiceover gig or two with that voice…but his reality is likely that he’ll get hired for a short time by some outlet due to the publicity alone.

In the meantime, we wonder if out of work radio people will start hitting the streets asking for money, as opposed to sending out audio and resumes…

BRIEF DEFECTION: When your broadcast team can’t make it to the arena for an away basketball game, what do you do?

In just such a situation, The University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff radio network tried to get some help from their men’s basketball opponents for a recent game, the University of Akron.

As it turns out, Akron women’s basketball voice and show host Bill Morgan is an OMW reader, and tells us what happened last Wednesday night:

That led to me touching base with Mike Harrison, from the Creative Sports Network in Arkansas. CSN airs the UAPB games on as many as 10 stations in Arkansas, and Mike asked me to do the game for CSN.

I handled the play-by-play duties, while Rob Brindley and Denny Trimmer (who do HS sports broadcasts with me on ‘JER in Dover) filled the roles of color analyst and courtside reporter respectively.

The broadcast went well, and some of the UA folks enjoyed giving me the business for, as they put it, “jumping on the Pine Bluff bandwagon to make a buck.” I don’t know about the bandwagon offense, but I plead guilty as charged to the whole “make a buck” thing.

As noted, Bill is still morning drive host and sports director at Gary Petricola’s WJER/1450 in Dover/New Philadelphia, in addition to his Zips Sports Network duties on Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 Akron.

And we thank him for sharing…


6 Responses to The Year Starter

  1. Ann V. says:

    Happy hiatus!

  2. victor malar says:

    As far as Rizzo goes, he has openly said on air that he opted out of his WJW deal early to “have his life back” (translated–these 15 hour days are killing me), plus he’s hinted that it was putting a strain on his marriage.

    He’ll be back on Fox 8, probably as part of the “Friday Night Touchdown” show once high school football season gets rolling again.

    Remember, “FNT” is now a 30 minute stand alone show, not just a sgment on the 10 p.m. news anymore.

    • Joe says:

      Looking forward to more Rizzo on WKNR radio…the 2-3 minute sports segment on an hour long Fox 8 newscast was always too darn short. Let’s hope The Rizz won’t eventually kill Aarron Goldhammer as he annoys the heck out of the audience as “bad cop” to Rizz’s “good cop”. Rizz happened to be off yesterday and Aarron was deplorable as he and Chris Fedor beat on the Buckeyes for having the audacity to win their bowl game the night before. More then any national commentators I heard yesterday. Talk about missing Rizz!

  3. Mark says:

    Thats too bad Tony Rizzon is leaving FOX 8 and I have to wonder is this the begining of the end of Channel 8’s domminace? All the new reporters they have brought on this past year are so lifeless and boring and I cannot stand that blonde woman who has had more work done on her than Micheal Jackson. The only positive new addition they added was Angelica Campos.

  4. eternalu says:

    TSA stopped Ted Williams from getting on his flight from Columbus to NYC. No appearance on “The Today Show” on Thursday morning. No visit to 92 year-old Mom in Brooklyn. See, he didn’t have ‘proper ID’, said the TSA. So Ted spent today at the Columbus Courthouse, trying to figure out how to get a copy of his birth certificate. Obviously he did have some form of ID, but the TSA wasn’t satisfied with it. OK – What are we going to do about this out-of-control phony security dance? These blockheads, however, are typical of our society. Follow the little rule book, and throw common sense out the window. Wrong. No little rule book takes away YOUR OBLIGATION TO THINK FOR YOURSELF. There are times you have to make an exception. That’s “the exception that proves the rule”. It’s like the traffic cop giving the mother of the little girl in a coma in Las Vegas a ‘jaywalking ticket’ – gave it to her right in the hospital. Or the policeman giving a ticket to the Dad who raced to the hospital while his wife’s water broke in the car on the way to the hospital in New Hampshire. RETRAIN EVERYBODY — OR FIRE THEM.

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