Busy News Cycle

UPDATE 10:30 AM 1/15/11: We have corrected now-former WTAM/1100 evening anchor Dean Leyland’s name below. Sorry about that!

And we hear that now-former WTAM weekend evening anchor Cliff Baechle is not leaving the building – his voice will be heard elsewhere, moving to a weekday gig feeding news to Clear Channel hub stations WPGB/104.7 Pittsburgh and WKBN/570 Youngstown from Oak Tree…


Though your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) clearly has his own schedule when it comes to updating this blog, sometimes the flow of news almost demands an update.

This is one of those times, with numerous reports of local media comings and goings, and some new information about same, flooding our “news desk” this Friday evening.

Let’s get out the news squeegee and clear off this news window…

ROBIN SHOW’S REPLACEMENT?: We did something we normally have not done in the past 5 years…checked in with the final “Robin Swoboda Show” Friday morning on Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 in Cleveland.

As befitting the modern communications age, Robin announced Thursday on her Facebook account that Friday would be her last show, saying that the station was going in “a different direction”…and we may have a clue about that direction, now.

First, Swoboda poked fun at her own exit throughout Friday’s show, snickering about looking for a job when a job seeking expert came on, and noting she wouldn’t be eating out until she found work.

But she didn’t say what would occupy the 10-11 AM weekday time slot she’s giving up as of Monday.

No, we had to turn to the (Wilkes-Barre PA) Times-Leader newspaper for that.

The what?

Thanks to an assist from our friend and colleague Lance Venta at RadioInsight, follow along with this article about a brand new “Fox 8 News” hire in Cleveland:

Starting Feb. 1, (WBRE weathercaster Kristi Capel) will present the weather forecast to viewers watching the Fox news station in Cleveland, Ohio.

Her new duties in Cleveland include early morning traffic reports and an entertainment show arriving mid-day.

Aha! So, maybe the “direction” WJW is headed is Entertainment Land. It’s not clear from the wording what Capel’s role on the new show would be.

The article in the Wilkes-Barre newspaper says she’s been doing morning weather at WBRE/28, the NBC affiliate in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market, for three years…and judging from the comments by readers on the item, she appears to be quite popular.

We linked the newspaper article earlier on our Twitter account (it is dated January 7th), but the details we share here were not there when we saw the article.

An “entertainment show”, whatever that means, would certainly be compatible with “Access Hollywood Live”, which “Fox 8” airs from 11 AM-12 noon.

The Pennsylvania article says Capel isn’t starting at South Marginal until February 1st, so we still don’t know what the station will air instead of “The Robin Swoboda Show” for the next two weeks.

We’d expect local fill-ins, but don’t know what format it’ll take…or even what “an entertainment show” means, and how it’ll be different from Robin Swoboda’s now-former show.

RESERVE SQUARE LAYOFFS: We do know that some newsies are no longer calling the basement of Reserve Square their professional home, after layoffs.

OMW hears that reporter Dawn Kendrick, a newscast director, a photographer and two web producers are gone at Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19-MyNet affiliate WUAB/43’s “19 Action News”, part of a drive to cut a lot of money from the station’s budget.

And more layoffs could be on the way, though we don’t have confirmation of that right now.

We do know that existing staffers are being asked to do more, with less, and some off-air news operations are merging…

AND ON THE RADIO SIDE: OMW hears that Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 evening news anchor Dean Leyland (our apologies for misspelling his name earlier) is gone, but we have not yet confirmed why.

The station put up an advertisement on All Access’ job listings for a full-time news anchor/reporter, just today. (If you’re a reader here and can’t find WTAM’s address or the name of its news director or his E-mail address, don’t bother…)

RADIO EXITS, 2: OMW hears that Clear Channel Columbus has let go three staffers – news director LuAnn Stoia, and anchors Ron Smith and Greg Kurtz.

The stated reason? Clear Channel’s Columbus newsroom, based at talk WTVN/610, will no longer be providing news “hub” services to other Ohio stations.

The newsroom at sister talk “The Big One”, WLW/700 Cincinnati, will take over those duties.

The station says that WTVN will continue producing local news focused on Columbus, but those remaining news staffers will not have a news director as a supervisor. They’ll report to program director Mike Elliott…

BUT INCOMING: Back at Oak Tree, OMW has learned of a new hire in the WTAM newsroom, separate from the previous item. (We learned about it earlier this week, and only got a Round Tuit[tm] tonight.)

And it means you’ll be hearing the name “Courtright” on Cleveland’s AM 1100 in the 21st Century.

She’s Julie Courtright, and regular OMW readers don’t need to be told that she is the daughter of late Cleveland radio news legend Ken Courtright, who counted 1100 as one of his big career stops, twice: first in the WWWE “3WE” days, and later, as a part-time newsman at WTAM.

A quick search on the family name will provide articles on Ken’s passing, and items on Julie’s career before WTAM hired her… including stints at Wilber country/oldies WOBL/1320 Oberlin-WDLW/1380 Lorain, and Tuscarawas Broadcasting’s WTUZ/99.9 Uhrichsville.

(Ken’s son, Alan, does voiceover work, and once did news for Rubber City Radio oldies/news WAKR/1590 Akron.)

We have confirmed that Julie Courtright will be heard anchoring on WTAM on weekend evenings, and will report during the week. (And no, we have no idea how that affects long-time weekend evening anchor Cliff Baechle…)

WHERE’S FIG?: As we suspected, and others suspected, it’s a big new gig that’s taking away Brian “Fig” Figula from his post as program director of NextMedia hot AC WHBC-FM/94.1 Canton “Mix 94.1”.

And we’re talking a major market gig.

All Access reports that Figula lands in the program director slot at Greater Media AC WMGC/105.1 “Magic 105.1” in Detroit.


According to GREATER MEDIA Market Mgr. STEVE KOSBAU, “BRIAN’s energy, focus and vision will help us maximize the great opportunity that comes with being DETROIT’s only mainstream AC radio station.”

“Fig” is no stranger to Michigan…he came to Canton after programming NextMedia sister station WGER in Saginaw MI.

And he’s no stranger to larger markets, with on-air experience and programming department stripes at CBS Radio hot AC WQAL/104.1 Cleveland “Q104” before heading to Michigan the first time.

Congratulations to Brian! And if he’d like us to stop using the “Fig” nickname, he’s invited to let us know…


2 Responses to Busy News Cycle

  1. victor malar says:

    According to wikipedia (so take it wor what it’s worth) Kristi Capel was a former Miss Missouri, and a contestant in the Miss USA pagent.

    It looks to me as if they’re trying to make Miss Capel kind of into the new star/”face” of channel 8.

    Putting her on the top rated morning news and giving her her own show…

    Looks like a “star” is born.

  2. Eileen Brutico says:

    The people of Cleveland are very fortunate to have Kristi Capel aboard. She did a wonderful job in Wilkes-Barre, PA at WBRE and I miss her. She was a bright spot in the morning and I looked forward to her broadcast every morning. Congratulations Kristi!

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