Three Pronged Item

Here’s that “three pronged item” we promised, all from the world of radio this time. Wait…it looks like we’ve added some prongs…

NEW Q104ER: This is no surprise to anyone who follows our Twitter account, but CBS Radio hot AC WQAL/104.1 Cleveland “Q104” has named its new afternoon drive host.

And she’s coming from across the border to do it.

She’s Heather Backman, who comes to the Cleveland station from Montreal’s Virgin 96 FM.

Quoting a CBS Radio press release:

“Heather’s love of pop culture, music and social networking will make her a perfect addition to the Q104 team,” says (WQAL program director Dave) Popovich. Heather also spent time as the Midday Host at WSTZ in Jackson, Mississippi, WKXJ in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Afternoon Drive at WMXF in Chattanooga. ”I was so excited about the station and the position itself, but then after meeting the staff, I knew I wanted to make this move,” states Heather B.

Of course, Heather takes the afternoon drive slot vacated by Jen Toohey, when she took over for Rebecca Wilde on the station’s morning drive show with Allan Fee.

And yes, since we tweeted about her arrival at Q104, Heather popped up in our Twitter timeline, wondering just what an Ohio Media Watch is…

STATE OF WKNR: The day of President Obama’s “State of the Union” address was probably a good day for Good Karma Broadcasting president Craig Karmazin to give his own “State of the Company” address, Tuesday afternoon on both of his Cleveland radio stations.

But Karmazin’s “Ask the Owner” segment, from 3-4 PM on WKNR/850 “ESPN 850”, and then 4-5 PM on WWGK/1540 “KNR2”, was prompted by major changes at both stations, announced Friday and covered heavily in items below this one.

So, did Karmazin take leave of his senses, knocking the popular “Jim Rome Show” off the big signal for an hour, exiling it to “KNR2” so he could expand the also popular “Really Big Show” with Tony Rizzo and company?

Karmazin told listeners that it’s quite clear…local programming is the key to success for the company’s Cleveland operation:

We have four years of research. And the research shows that, whether it’s “Munch in the Morning”, whether it’s “R&R” in the afternoon, whether it’s “The Really Big Show”, when we have local programming on, more people listen each hour.

We add listeners incrementally when we have local shows, and when we have national shows, we still have a great, large amount of people listening, but each hour a national show’s on, our audience goes down.

And that’s by every measure we have, from dollars of revenue that we make on those hours, to the Internet streaming, to when we used to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to subscribe to the research that would tell us the same thing.

That’s what the research told us. It doesn’t mean that “Mike and Mike” don’t have a ton of passionate fans, and we love having “Mike and Mike” on the station. We love having “Jim Rome” on the stations. It’s just…those are the facts of what we’ve seen over the years.

And fans also continued to ask about the possibility of upgrading the WWGK signal, which Good Karma tried to do some time ago.

Karmazin made it clear that the upgrade option, a 3000 watt signal upgrade specified in a WWGK construction permit, was off the table due to local government opposition at the station’s North Royalton transmitter site:

I don’t see it. I tried…I came on the air, I told you, “support us in North Royalton”. We went up for a vote, we got voted down in that community, to move our tower there that would have gotten us great coverage throughout down to about Canton, that was voted down by the local town board.

OMW had heard some time ago that there was a possibility of renewed negotiations between Karmazin and North Royalton officials to revive the project, but we haven’t heard anything else since.

That prospect appears to be dead, with Karmazin noting the growing importance of mobile Internet listening on smartphones and the like – indeed, we were listening to his “KNR2” segment on our own Android device.

Karmazin noted that the WWGK signal started becoming “clear” in his drive up through Fairlawn, to which we replied that he must have a good car radio and have been driving away from power lines.

Anyway, you can mark the 1540 upgrade “dead” at this point, it sounds like the construction permit will be allowed to expire in August.

Karmazin also made clear, in a response to a caller’s question, that an FM signal for the company’s Cleveland operations is not in the cards, right now, at least.

The rest of the two hours consisted of the expected mix of callers upset about Rome’s first hour moving, those who want more local programming, and the usual flack about various station elements (i.e. Tony Rizzo’s sidekicks, etc.)…

BEST WISHES: Our heartiest “get well soon” wishes to Cleveland radio sports icon Joe Tait.

The “Voice of the Cavaliers” was released from Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday after successful cardiac surgery, and the team says the Hall of Fame broadcaster is now undergoing “an intensive rehabilitation period” before heading home.

Numerous reports say Tait still very much hopes to return to the Cavaliers Radio Network microphone before season’s end…

CHRIS HAS BEEN BUSY: Long-time OMW reader Chris Lash, who heads up Whiplash Radio, has certainly been busy as of late.

Lash has announced a number of changes coming to his Mahoning Valley operations:

* Classic hits WANR/1570 Warren is not only dropping the “Blizzard” moniker, it’s changing formats and call letters.

1570 has already filed for the former Pittsburgh call letters WHTX, and will change from classic hits to adult standards.

Lash calls the format hole left by the flips of the Valley’s existing standards outlets – Clear Channel’s WNIO/1390 to sports, and Cumulus’ WSOM/600 to talk – “too big to ignore”.

Staying on the Warren station will be local news, now “powered” by the Warren Tribune-Chronicle’s website, and extensive sports coverage.

* And that brings us to another piece of news coming out of Mineral Ridge. The station soon to be known as WHTX will become the home of the area’s minor league baseball team, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Lash already announced that WANR-to-become-WHTX will carry Pittsburgh Pirates games, which are also heard from across the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line from Cumulus sports WLLF/96.7 Mercer PA “ESPN 96.7”.

We don’t know what games will shuttle where between the Pirates and Scrappers, and local sports, but Lash may be able to utilize sister classic country daytimer WYCL/1540 “The Farm” for some early or day games…

WAKE: OMW reader Patricia Kellogg passes along that there’ll be an Irish wake for Gary Wells, also known as WRUW/91.1’s Flannery O’Connor, this weekend.

It’ll be Saturday at 3 PM at Wilbert’s in downtown Cleveland.

We can’t find anything about Wells or his alter ego on the Case Western Reserve University station’s website…but maybe we missed something…


7 Responses to Three Pronged Item

  1. Yekimi says:

    Let’s see……..CC/CBS/Entercom/Cumulus/Citadel/ have canned thousands of DJs in the last couple of years, so they go over the border to get one? There aren’t enough unemployed DJs in the USA to pick from? Or has CBS-Cleveland become such a horrendous place to work that no DJ wants to end up there?

    • victor malar says:

      Let’s be fair here.

      Heather B. (as she’ll be known on-air) is a radio journeyman, with lots of stops along the way.

      I don’t think this is a case of a “Canadian taking an American job”.

      Besides, what veteran Cleveland DJ’s looking for work would fit in with the younger skewing Q104 motif?

      Q’s trying to go after the Kiss 96 crowd, and a young, twittering, “Jersey Shore” watching, Lady Gaga listening to type is what they were looking for, and they found one.

      Let’s see if it works before we go all off in a tizzy, OK.

  2. MrCleaveland says:

    I’d like to make two points about WKNR, while admitting that I don’t know a thing about running a radio station:

    1. Mr. Karmazin contends that national shows start off very strong and then lose audience in subsequent hours. If that’s the case, then why did he lop off the first hour of Rome’s show and keep the last two hours? Based on his own rationale, this doesn’t make any sense. So I am very skeptical of this explanation for shipping the first hour of the Rome show to Siberia.

    2. Why would the City of North Royalton not grant WKNR’s request? I assume there must be something in it for them? I’d like to hear an explanation of this.

    • Re: #2: As I remember it, North Royalton doesn’t want ‘KNR’s site there at all, and wants to redevelop it. There was talk of moving it, even. And neighbors already upset with AM radio interference complained about adding another signal.

      • Secondary Editorial Voice (tm) says:

        Oof. If that happened, where could they move to?

        The closest sight I see that might work is the 1220 plant in Broadview Heights (which isn’t that far away) in some configuration with WHKW (obviously the former WKNR)?

        As if WKNR’s night pattern couldn’t get any worse… such a move would make it inferior.

      • I don’t remember where 850 would have moved to, but the 1220 plant down the road sounds about right. This may have come up when the two were co-owned by Salem.

        I’m pretty sure Salem wasn’t happy with the idea.

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