Passings, Iconic and Immediate

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…

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5 Responses to Passings, Iconic and Immediate

  1. Joe says:

    WKNR should get smart and rehire Daryl Ruiter – PRONTO! He did a great job at that station and there are several on air personalities that are a bit long in the tooth. With that said, Greg “Bacon” Brinda is the stand out grumpy, has been that needs to be put out of his (and our) misery…NOW!

    Good luck Mr. Ruiter…top man, Keith Williams at WKNR has been known to dump people quickly – just ask Rizzo. Maybe this time he will do the right thing and HIRE someone just as quick!

  2. Hey Now says:

    I can assure you that Les had more than 3 listeners in his
    2 hour time slot on DSN. Why you felt you had to
    insinuate that in the report is puzzling to me. DSN did not falter
    because of low listenership. It failed on a management/multi-ownership
    level first. Which had no reflection on Cleveland.com.

    Had the right people started this venture differently, it would
    save succeeded substantially. Which is why it may be resurrected
    in the near future on Cleveland.com, to capitalize on the profit potential
    it showed. I personally enjoyed how you could listen all night to the
    programming on DSN without the signal fading after the sun set.

    • Please read that sentence again, particularly the part after the “and”:

      “In case you’re one of the three people who listened to Levine on DSN and didn’t know he was on TV”

      We were commenting that very few of his listeners on DSN would not know that he is on TV. It’s no comment on the size of DSN’s audience, for which we have no numbers.

  3. MrCleaveland says:

    The Les Levine and Bud Shaw show was the best two hours in local “radio.” I’ll miss them. Les is a total pro, and although I doubt that Bud had any broadcasting experience, his easy manner and quick mind made him almost a natural.

    Nice going, McCabe!

  4. mark says:

    Full disclosure here. I am a complete media novice but as I mentioned in a previous comment a few months ago, I and anyone with half a brain knew this venture wouldn’t last. While there may be a market for this sort of thing, and I thought the partnership with cleveland.com was brilliant, the execution and plan for growth was, to be kind, extremely weak. To have the turnover of personalities and programs in the first 30 days of operation, the writing was on the wall. I don’t have any media experience but I have built successful sports related businesses over the years and I feel a properly organized, planned and executed business model could be successful in the marketplace. By this, I mean not hiring every retread in the Cleveland sportstalk market immediately and just assume you will grow listenership because of this poor decision. You need to crawl before you walk but DSN thought they were in a 100 meter dash and they were in Usain Bolt mode from day one (November 1st).

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