Passings, Iconic and Immediate
March 1, 2011 5 Comments
Sometimes, OMW updates write themselves due to breaking media news, and we definitely have that this evening.
CLEVELAND RADIO ICON DIES: Much of what you hear on the radio airwaves in Cleveland, even now, can somehow be connected to Carl Hirsch.
And calling Hirsch a “radio management icon”, as we did in our Twitter update, may be an understatement.
Numerous media and trade reports say Hirsch, who was a key manager and owner in Cleveland and beyond, died in Palm Beach FL on Monday at the age of 64.
In a statement, former WMMS/100.7 programmer John Gorman summed up Hirsch’s impact:
Carl was the driving force in the successes of WMMS, Z100, WMJI, and other Malrite, Legacy, and OmniAmerica radio properties over three decades.
He recognized talent, provided everyone a wide berth to succeed, and had only two rules: Don’t make the same mistake twice and don’t jeopardize the (radio) license.
Other than that, he fostered and encouraged creativity and taking chances.
There was only one Carl Hirsch in the radio business and those of us who worked with him know how fortunate we were.
Though he’ll certainly be remembered here for running WMMS, WMJI and other local stations, Hirsch will likely be noted nationally for plucking a small, underperforming New Jersey radio station and transforming it into powerhouse New York City top 40 outlet WHTZ “Z100”.
After running Cleveland-based Malrite – original owner of WMMS and WHK/1420 – Hirsch came back with OmniAmerica, which ended up with not only WHK and WMMS, but WMJI/105.7.
His later years included running suburban Chicago-based NextMedia.
And Hirsch was ever the deal maker…the Plain Dealer’s Grant Segall reports that he was on the doorstep of another deal, working to buy a station in West Palm Beach, when he collapsed in a restaurant there at the young age of 64.
One imagines how many more milestones Carl Hirsch could have reached if he’d survived…it appears he was just getting started in this phase of his very successful career.
Some sports coaches are noted for winning again and again, no matter where they go in their careers. That’s probably an apt analogy for Mr. Hirsch…
QUICK EXIT: Yes, we’re aware that Digital Sports Network has apparently gone dark, as its deal with Cleveland.com has ended.
That’s according to a Twitter update by Daryl Ruiter, who left Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850” for hosting work at the online sports network:
Digital Sports Network suspended operations today after having it’s affiliation with Cleveland.com terminated.
We have not confirmed the news other than from Daryl’s note, but a whole host of DSN links are missing on Cleveland.com, and its audio and video stream are broadcasting the Sounds of Silence as of this writing early Tuesday evening. No, not the song.
We don’t know if DSN has plans to return in any form.
Ruiter was joined on the online station by at least some others with broadcast experience, including Time Warner Cable host and veteran local sportscaster Les Levine, who was paired up with the Plain Dealer’s Bud Shaw.
Though Levine has been doing TV sports talk in Cleveland for a long time, on Time Warner, Adelphia, Cablevision and the old SportsChannel Ohio, the ex-WHK/1420 host is no stranger to short lived ventures.
He was one of the local staff members on “SportsRadio 1560”, a very brief venture to serve Cleveland sports fans on the now-silent daytimer WATJ/1560 Chardon…on a signal that had trouble making it out of Geauga County most of the time.
In case you’re one of the three people who listened to Levine on DSN and didn’t know he was on TV, “More Sports and Les Levine” airs on Time Warner Cable’s “NEON” local programming channel (position 23) weeknights at 6 and 11 PM.
And Ruiter, a long-time WKNR update anchor and utility player who left “ESPN 850” for greater full-time hosting opportunities, says he’s “on the beach” looking for his next opportunity…and thanked Cleveland.com for its support…