Assorted Monday News Nuggets

LAFORCE IS WITH FOX 8: It looks like Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 has brought aboard a new sports reporter after former weeknight sports anchor Tony Rizzo’s departure last December.

VermilionOhioNews.com posted on their March 28 issue that Vermilion native Allie LaForce has been hired by WJW as a sports reporter. A recent broadcast journalism graduate of Ohio University (where she also played on the Bobcats’ girls basketball team), LaForce was the Miss Teen for 2005 and also made a guest appearance on the long-defunct NBC soap “Passions.”

Most recently LaForce worked as a sideline reporter for Sportstime Ohio during the 2010 Mid-American Conference’s football season and the 2011 MAC men’s basketball tournament, and if memory serves this Secondary Editorial Voice ™ correct, LaForce also made a contribution and fill-in or two for WJW a few weeks ago.

Not sure if her duties also will lend to weekend sports anchoring or fill-in for 30-year WJW veteran John Telich, who has been the lone remaining regular sportscaster at the station. Whenever Telich has had a day off, veteran anchors Bill Sheil and Lou Maglio, and web/tech guy Dan Jovic have done the sportscasts in his place, usually on the weekends. (And yes, Rizzo and Dan Coughlin will most assuredly return for Friday Night Touchdown next fall.)

TIME WARNER MOVES: Next Monday (April 5), much of Time Warner Cable’s extensive system in Northern Ohio will make yet another significant realignment to their channel lineups. It’s the most significant realignment since March of last year, when the HD channels were all reassigned to the 1000+ channel allotment.

Of special note is that the greater Akron, Mansfield, Kent and Medina areas will have the following Cleveland broadcast channels move so that their channel name and channel position match:

• Channel 3, WKYC, will be on 3 or 1003 (HD)
• Channel 5, WEWS, will be on 5 or 1005 (HD)
• Channel 8, WJW, will be on 8 or 1008 (HD)

Most other areas – including the Cleveland metro systems – are already “on-channel.”

ShopNBC, the Travel Channel, truTV and SPEED will also be made available in digital format only (joining Oxygen), and can only be seen with the aid of a digital cable converter box. Soapnet and Science Channel will move to the Digital Variety Package (in areas where the two channels are not there already).

All Time Warner Cable customers will have new lineups mailed to them seven days prior to when the channels changes occur – which would be within the next few days. To see how your service area is changing, check twcguide.com, and select your respective state and city. Rich Heldenfels’ blog at the Akron Beacon Journal’s the330.com has in detail the updated Akron lineup.

VIRGIL DOMINIC JOINS THE U OF A: Respected long-time newscaster, news director and general manager Virgil Dominic is still active in the television medium, even after retiring from WJW/8 over 15 years ago (in the wake of the longtime CBS affiliate’s switch to, and eventual purchase by, Fox).

Recently, Dominic joined the University of Akron’s School of Communication as a lecturer, and is now teaching “Broadcast Newswriting” for the Spring 2011 semester for the university’s telecommunication students.

On how much teaching students relates to his time working in commercial television, Dominic said:

“I had so many mentors throughout my career. They helped me so much and teaching is my way of honoring them… In many ways, by teaching I find myself learning all over again. For me, that is a wonderful feeling.”

For those who don’t know, Dominic entered the Cleveland market in 1965, joining then-NBC O&Os WKYC/3 as their lead news anchor – and also did work for then-sister station WKYC/1100 (even serving as a anchor for NBC Radio News when the now-defunct network had their radio O&Os each produce one newscast daily). After a successful stop as news director for Atlanta’s ABC affiliate, he was hired by then-WJKW/8 to institute the “Newscenter 8” format for the Storer-owned station, and eventually became the station’s general manager.

In addition to his work with the University of Akron, Dominic still serves as a consultant with his Virgil Dominic Communications, with former employer WKYC (now a Gannett-owned NBC affiliate) as one of his main clients.

MATT WATROBA AT FOLKALLEY: Kent State University NPR outlet WKSU/89.7’s FolkAlley.com has added another host (or “folkie,” as they put it) to their stable.

Longtime folk music personality/singer/songwriter/educator/performer Matt Watroba recently joined FolkAlley – which features traditional folk, contemporary singer/songwriter, Americana, Celtic, bluegrass, world and acoustic instrumentals – bringing aboard a well-respected, multitalented “music geek” to the internet and HD2 sub-channel service. (Again, that’s how they put it.)

Prior to joining FolkAlley, Watroba hosted the popular “Folks Like Us” program for over 22 years on Wayne State University NPR outlet WDET/101.9 Detroit, where it was dropped in late 2009 in a programming philosophy shift. He already had a presence on FolkAlley.com as they carried the nationally syndicated radio program “Sing Out! Radio Magazine,” a show that featured his interviews, live and recorded music.

Watroba will produce streaming content for FolkAlley.com, in addition to live broadcast hours and will contribute to the Folk Alley blog. Watroba will also appear as a guest host for “The Folk Alley Radio Show,” and for WKSU itself.

FolkAlley.com is (naturally) heard over the Internet and on the HD2 streams of the Kent State University-owned station’s full-power outlets (WKSU/89.7 Kent, WKSV/89.1 Thompson, WNRK/90.3 Norwalk, WKRW/89.3 Wooster and WKRJ/91.5 New Philadelphia).

REMEMBERING MARY HOLT: We’d be remiss not to mention the passing of a landmark music personality in the Cleveland market.

Mary Cordelia Brown, best known as Mary Holt, was the first African-American female announcer in Cleveland radio and television, beginning her long career at the old WSRS/1490 in 1952. From there, she found long success at WJMO/1540 (which swapped dial positions with WSRS in early 1959 to become WJMO/1490) and at WSRS’s successor, WABQ/1540, throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

To dampen complaints from other WJMO staffers who felt forced to ‘babysit’ the control board while she on the air, Holt successfully studied up on broadcast engineering and became a pioneering engineer in her own right.

Holt also made contributions to WJW/8, WEWS/5 and KYW-WKYC/3 at various points; most notably at KYW-TV as host of “Spirituals,” a gospel music program on Sundays. A radio version of “Spirituals” also aired on WJW/850 during the mid-to-late 1950s.

Holt also was one of the first announcers in the market to play what was then known as “hillbilly music” (otherwise known as “country and western”) under the pseudonym “Cindy Lou.” Consequently, as many people mistook pioneering rock-and-roll disk jockey Alan Freed for a black announcer, listeners to Holt also made the incorrect assumption that she was white.

Holt passed away back on March 9, at the age of 89, at the Eliza Bryant Nursing Home. The Plain Dealer obit offers more into her fascinating life, and even then, it doesn’t do much justice…

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6 Responses to Assorted Monday News Nuggets

  1. Devin the Dude says:

    So good to see someone like the Miss Teen work her way up through the ranks, pay her dues, and get a TV gig in a top 20 market. Very refreshing.

    • Andrew says:

      How do you see her as “working her way thru the ranks”, and “paying her dues”? She’s what….23 years old! Did she do 3 years in Erie, Pa, or maybe 2 in Wheeling?

      C’mon…the whole reason she’s in is because she’s a product of the eye-candy network. Just look at your sports broadcasting formats on EVERY channel and network. It’s the SAME everywhere…good looking females, pleasing to the eye, working the sidelines, and asking dumb irrelvant questions, bothering coaches, and taking away from the quality, and the attention of the game itself.

      I am an avid sportsfan, who really ONLY cares about the outcome, and perfomances of the athletes. If I wan’t the “scoop” I’ll read about it after the fact. I’m put back by the attempts of producers across the country who shove ex-jocks, and sexy women down my throat, when I only care about if the Indians, Browns, or the local sports teams are winning or not!

      The whole sports broadcasting business has gone down the drain…and this hire is PROOF of the pudding! I have no problem this being a female, because I stress that females are a part of the process…but I think Channel 8 is doing this for all the wrong reasons. They could have hired her after 4 or 5 years with some real call-letters.

      • Secondary Editorial Voice (tm) says:

        I presume Devin was being sarcastic… (Devin, if you weren’t, my apologies… it looked that way to me at least.)

        Personally, I don’t feel that sportscasting is getting any better. Most behind-the-scenes people (primarily on the TV side, but very much on radio too) want to follow the ESPN formula of style over substance, of sizzle over steak. Because it supposedly can attract younger demos for reasons I can’t figure out.

        I am not optimistic about the future of sportscasting one bit.

  2. victor malar says:

    You are correct, oh great Secondary Editorial Voice.

    Miss LaForce was doing sideline duty for STO’s MAC Tournament coverage, as well as STO’s High School Basketball Championship games.

    Seeing as she’s from O.U., it wouldn’t surprise me if another notable O.U. grad put in a good word for her (a guy who thinks it’s “good to be alive!”).

    Wouldn’t surprise me if she started doing a little weekend duty to get her feet wet.

    • Secondary Editorial Voice (tm) says:

      It’s also a nice coincidence that her hometown’s largest annual attraction is hosted by WJW’s long-tenured meteorologist Dick Goddard… and a brown-and-orange striped caterpillar. 😉

  3. Steve Holland says:

    Isn’t she also the one who hosted the weekly OU athletics show on cable?

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