THIS JUST IN: WEAO/49 Back On The Air

Western Reserve PBS’ Akron outlet, WEAO/49, is back on the air…after spending much of April off the air due to transmission line problems.

In honor of the return, we present this picture of tower crews making a quicker ascent of the Copley Township tower in a rather unusual way…during an earlier attempt to return the station to the air.

(Thanks, of course, to Western Reserve PBS communications coordinator and OMW Handler Diane Steinert for passing this along!)

Those with Time Warner Cable and some other cable systems may not have noticed the outage, since those systems used a feed from sister Youngstown market station WNEO/45 Alliance since the day after the signal went out.

But the over-air return should also return the Kent-based public TV outlet to customers of DirecTV, Dish Network and Cleveland’s Cox Cable systems.

Of course, the WEAO subchannels are also back on the air – 49.2 (Fusion), 49.3 (MHz Worldview) and 49.4 (V-me).

As far as we know, the station is back at full strength, but let us know if you’re on the fringes of the 49 signal.

We’d also be interested in confirmation that the over-air signal’s return has brought WEAO back to the satellite services and Cox Cable…

Not Rumors, For The Most Part

We generally deal in facts here at the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), give or take an occasional rumble.

And at this juncture, there are a LOT of rumbles out there, and nearly all of them haven’t been confirmed to our satisfaction yet.

The item just before this one is just one example…there are more hot-and-heavy rumors out there.

So, if you’re looking for the answer to “who’s about to be fired”, after hearing it on a certain morning drive show…not yet. We’ll pass along changes as soon as they happen, and not before.

We are not immune to speculation here, but generally speaking, when nothing has actually HAPPENED yet, we don’t weigh in.

(There are limited exceptions to that, like when a certain afternoon drive talk show host loudly announced that he was SURE he was about to get competition, which never happened.)

Anyway, moving on to our verified items…

LONG-TIME EXIT: A local TV type behind the camera has left the building.

That building is 3001 Euclid Avenue, where Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 says goodbye to managing editor Jim Scott, who has been with the station for five years.

OMW hears that the decision was his.

Scott’s family never left Pittsburgh when he took the job in Cleveland, and he’s returning to Pittsburgh after some family members passed away.

We hear that Jim Scott was well-respected and liked at “NewsChannel 5”, and we wish him well personallly and professionally…

INDIRECT: Western Reserve PBS’ WEAO/49 Akron has been off the air for a large chunk of April due to transmission line problems, and Mother Nature hasn’t at all been cooperative.

Those heavy rains and high winds we’ve been experiencing for much of the month mean that tower crews literally can’t get up on the station’s tower in Copley Township and repair the broken line.

In the meantime, WEAO has the bulk of its viewership still in the fold, as the massive Time Warner Cable system in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton area has been carrying the feed from sister Youngstown-market outlet WNEO/45 Alliance, unaffected by the problems in Copley Township, since a day after the outage began. (And thankfully, someone turned down the volume on the feed shortly after it started.)

Other local cable systems have been able to pick up the WNEO feed, but it does appear Cox Cable, DirecTV and Dish Network subscribers will have to wait until the over-air signal of WEAO/49 is back.

Western Reserve PBS communications coordinator and OMW Handler Diane Steinert (we’re pretty sure that’s on her business card) writes:

We’ve learned that the satellite companies and Cox Cable are unable to make the switch. They’ve all been great in trying to do so, and we appreciate their efforts. Repair work is still being thwarted by the weather.

When will it be fixed? Look for an extended period of dry, less windy weather, which seems almost unthinkable here in Northeast Ohio this month…but we’re sure our friends at Campus Center Drive will get the station back on as soon as possible.

And our apologies to Diane, for a small mistake in our previous item, which has been fixed.

We meant that we didn’t know if DirecTV subscribers would get the WEAO signal back BEFORE the over-air signal returns, not WHEN…

CLASSIC CHUCK: Clear Channel country WGAR/99.5 Hall of Fame afternoon driver Chuck Collier apparently counts Dayton among his resume stops, and is now being heard in the region again.

That’s because Collier is on the schedule at a new classic country outlet in the market, Springfield’s WIZE/1340. Until the flip, it was the eastern simulcaster of Dayton sports station WONE/980.

Clear Channel made the move after Main Line Broadcasting pulled country outlet WKSW/101.7 out of Springfield, off the frequency and out of the country format.

(It’s now modern AC WCLI-FM “Click 101.5” Enon, targeting Dayton itself. And that presumably means the WKSW calls are available, should, say, the folks at WKSU/89.7 wish to grab them for one of the station’s repeaters.)

Of course, Chuck Collier isn’t budging from either his WGAR afternoon drive perch, or his voicetracked midday shift on sister classic hits WMJI/105.7.

As far as we can tell, Chuck comes to Springfield via the magic of Clear Channel’s “Premium Choice” country format. When “Premium Choice” started, we noted here that we’d heard Chuck would be one of the voicetracked talents…

The Rover Post

It’s been a fairly quiet week on the local media front, give or take items we’ve already covered, but all the off-blog activity has involved a high profile radio show.

Our inbox has been peppered with questions like this one about Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7’s “Rover’s Morning Glory”, which we’ll copy verbatim from one of our readers:

Rover was recently on vacation for 2 weeks, returned with a major arm injury, and subsequently, the show has been on “Best Of” for 4 to 5 weeks now. Give or take 3 or 4 days of “Live” broadcast. Some of the members of the show use “Twitter”, but are not forthcoming with any info. As you can imagine, rumors are running rampant about the show being canceled because of the excessive time off by Rover himself.

We ran this up the flagpole at Oak Tree to some of our sources there, and they’re seeing no signs of anything.

The general thought seems to be that it’s a publicity stunt of some sort, or some sort of show drama played out for the listeners’ benefit (like a certain previous incident involving Rover and show co-host Duji and their previous relationship).

And, well, it’s a bit frustrating to us. Here we go again.

Popular personality talk shows like “RMG” have one big thing in their favor…the listeners are invested in the show, sometimes for years on end.

The show’s personalities become familiar parts of their lives…”friends on the radio”. The personal lives of those “friends” play out on the air.

And when those “friends” are gone a lot, the listeners tend to worry.

We get the same reaction when popular TV personalities take more than a week off. At two weeks, viewers start sending out the bat signals…and after three weeks, the search parties are out.

Particularly for the highest profile TV and radio personalities, they get a lot of vacation time – Clear Channel classic hits WMJI/105.7 “Majic 105.7” morning icon John Lanigan’s vacation schedule has been compared to Johnny Carson’s, back in the “Tonight Show” host’s heyday.

We don’t know if Rover is comparably compensated in vacation time – the one time we did manage to tune in recently, he’d mentioned being in Greece, which would certainly account for radio absence if that mention was “live” on the air when we heard it.

But as far as we know right now, the show has not been cancelled, show cast members have not been fired, the “RMG” studio has not been set ablaze, dogs and cats are not fighting in the parking lot at Oak Tree, and whatnot.

If any major changes happen with the Rover show, you’ll read about them here, probably before anywhere else (give or take our schedule).

We apologize for getting a bit snippy on our Twitter account about this early one morning, but this is not the “Track Down Rover’s Show Rumors” Blog…if stuff happens, we’ll let you know.

And we realize that if the RMG crew is aiming for publicity out of this, they aren’t aiming at us.

The Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) has, even on its busiest day, readership that is a mere fraction of “Rover’s Morning Glory’s” average quarter hour audience. A large chunk of our readers are either in the media business or connected to that business somehow.

No, we suspect they’re hoping to gather the attention of Reserve Square, the home of Raycom Media’s CBS affiluate WOIO/19-MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB/43 and its “19 Action News”.

They bit on the previous “controversy”, after all…and actually did a news story on it.

We realize we brought some of this on ourselves.

When Shane “Rover” French and his crew made the move from CBS Radio alt-rock W-whatever-the-calls-were-at-the-time/92.3 to WMMS, we delivered everything but the crew members’ lunch menus when they were preparing to take the air at 100.7…

WEAO/49 Outage Update

UPDATE 4/23/11 1:07 PM: WEAO/49 is still off the air as of this writing – though is still airing on Time Warner Cable, with earlier volume problems long ago fixed.

From the station’s update on Friday:

Work continues on the WEAO/Channel 49 transmission problem. Please know that restoring WEAO transmission is Western Reserve Public Media’s number-one priority.

We don’t know what progress was made on Thursday, but the weather is once again not cooperating, with more rain pelting the area.

Good news: the WNEO feed carried to the Cleveland/Akron-area Time Warner systems also includes the Western Reserve subchannels, Fusion, MHz Worldview and V-me, which we’re able to get here on our end of the TWC system.

And though the loss of the over-air WEAO signal is probably quite frustrating to our friends at Campus Center Drive, Northeast Ohio’s cable penetration is pretty high…so a lot of viewers are still able to watch the station.

We don’t know if DirecTV has been able to fix the situation or not, or if WEAO will return to its Cleveland market viewers before the over-air signal is fixed…

————-

Yes, Western Reserve PBS’ Akron outlet, WEAO/49, is still off the air…as weather has hampered a needed repair to the station’s transmission line.

Direct from the one and only Diane Steinert, Western Reserve PBS’ communications coordinator and unofficial OMW Handler, here is the latest update.

———-

The estimate now is that work will be delayed until Thursday, based solely on the weather reports. It’s still too wet for the repair crew to climb the tower.

Here’s our understanding as to whom has switched from 49 to 45: Time Warner, AT&T Uverse, Massillon Cable and Direct TV.

Who cannot get us? WEAO over-the-air viewers; Cox Cable, WOW and Dish Network customers. (Cox Cable is trying, but has not yet been able to solve the problem.)

What alternatives might viewers have? Over-the-air viewers can try to redirect their antennae toward the Salem transmitter, but we cannot guarantee they’ll be able to pick up the signal. Direction for most of those people will be east, south or southeast. Cox, WOW and Dish customers just won’t be able to see us until the repairs are made.

WEAO/49 Outage

UPDATE 4/16/11 10:45 AM: Here’s the update from Western Reserve PBS’ Facebook page:

WEAO outage update: Work on the technical problem is delayed until Monday morning due to high winds and rain. Most cable subscribers are getting Western Reserve PBS now, thanks to cable systems switching over to our WNEO signal.

And as the station explains it, there’s a very good reason that the weather is delaying plans to fix the problem:

The problem appears to involve an 800-ft. transmission line that begins at the station’s Copley transmitter and runs up the transmission tower to its antenna.

A hat tip to Akron Beacon Journal pop culture columnist and OMW reader Rich Heldenfels for that last quote.

Here at the OMW World Headquarters, on the former Adelphia/Cuyahoga Valley system now part of the TWC empire, WNEO’s volume on analog 9 is a bit distorted.

The subchannels carried in this end of the TWC system are fine. The former Adelphia systems do not carry WEAO/49.1, the HD version of the main signal, and only carry the downconverted analog 9 channel.

The original update is below:

————

Western Reserve PBS’ WEAO/49 Akron has been off the air since last night, due to a problem at the station’s Copley transmitter facility.

Engineers are working on the situation right now, and they hope to return the station to the airwaves soon.

Being a two-station operation has come in handy for Western Reserve PBS. The pubcaster has returned to Cleveland/Akron-market Time Warner Cable systems using a feed from WNEO/45 Alliance, the station’s Youngstown market facility…

Our Next Pile Of Items

Now that Joe Tait has said “have a good life, everybody!” and retired to his southern Medina County farm, let’s get to the other items piling up in the OMW Topics List…

…SOON ON FM?: You may be hearing Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 in Cleveland branding itself as “NewsRadio 1100, now on 99.1 FM”, and soon.

That’s because it appears Cleveland is about to become the latest Clear Channel market where a powerhouse AM talk station takes up residence at an additional spot on the FM dial, and a translator we’ve talked about before is about to line up in place for that role.

It’s the former W262BN, which we’ve talked about before here.

Radio One tried to buy the Lorain-licensed facility and move it, on frequency at 100.3, closer to Cleveland. That effort, as we reported earlier, was shot down by interference-potential complaints by first adjacent Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 Kent.

After Radio One dropped out of the W262BN sweepstakes, Clear Channel bought the translator…and began the process of moving it to a new home on the WMJI/105.7 tower, with a planned 250 watt signal that would put a decent signal (especially in mono) on 99.1 FM over nearly all of Cuyahoga County.

Clear Channel filed for just such an application earlier this month, after completing an intermediate move – from 100.3 to 99.7, and filing a license to cover for its brief operation at that frequency.

It’s quite likely you never heard it, even if you were awake at whatever hour they lit the temporary facility up (designed only to facilitate further moves).

99.7 is, of course, first adjacent to the company’s own powerhouse country outlet, WGAR/99.5, and any such operation would have been wiped off the dial by WGAR’s hash, even at 99.7’s temporary location at the Ohio Turnpike/I-480 interchange near North Ridgeville.

Again, temporary…only enough to move it far enough east to move into Cuyahoga County, and down the dial enough to eventually reach what we’re assuming will be its permanent home, 99.1 FM.

As the licensee of WGAR, Clear Channel had more flexibility to move the translator “across the dial” and temporarily plant it at 99.7, and then plant it on second-adjacent 99.1.

And speaking of WGAR, that’s the station listed as the translator’s primary frequency, but don’t expect country music repeating at a second spot on the FM dial in Cleveland.

We’ll clarify here that we have no confirmed information that 99.1 will end up as a WTAM simulcaster, from Oak Tree or anywhere else.

But Clear Channel has started a trend of giving its powerhouse AM talk stations homes on the FM band in other markets…where it now repeats stations like KEX/1190, Portland’s 50 kW WTAM clone, on 102.3 FM, and Miami’s WIOD/610, on 100.3 FM.

Does the 50 kW flamethrower of WTAM need signal help? Generally speaking, not really.

But it appears Clear Channel is seeing the demographic writing on the wall, and is moving to put its big signal AM talkers on the FM dial, somewhere.

Doing it this way saves Clear Channel the dilemma of blowing up one of its successful full-signal FM outlets. Of course, the company just flipped 106.5 to variety hits “The Lake” WHLK (from hot AC WMVX “Mix 106.5”), but they’ve apparently experienced a lot of success with the flip so far.

Again, we caution we could be wrong about 99.1’s use as a WTAM simulcaster. (For that matter, we could be wrong about 99.1 as the translator’s final home on the FM dial.)

But we’re putting all our chips on “red” here, and betting on it from this corner…we don’t see any other obvious options…

NOW ON FM…: Northeast Ohio’s most recent full-power FM signal signed on recently, and we haven’t mentioned it here, yet.

It’s Penfold Communications religious WKJA/91.9 Brunswick, which actually camps out on a Crown Castle communications tower just south of Creston, north of Wooster.

WKJA’s 25 kW class B1 signal is primarily designed to hit the areas just west of Akron and Canton, with the COL of Brunswick on its northern edge.

On our radio in the OMW Mobile, we’ve had no problem picking up the WKJA signal in Akron, Canton, Cleveland’s southwestern suburbs or even as far east as western Geauga County.

Oddly enough, we had some signal problems with WKJA in Wooster, just 10 miles or so down the road from its transmitter site.

A quick look through the databases shows us that it’s because W220BP/91.9 Wooster, a 45 watt translator for the Bible Broadcasting Network folks, is apparently still on the air…getting clobbered by the new WKJA, but introducing some flutter in the immediate area.

Bible Broadcasting Network is aware of their displacement, of course. Earlier this week, they filed to move the Wooster translator to 91.5 FM.

Back at WKJA – Penfold is apparently operated by one of the affiliate churches of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa CA, and WKJA is operating as a direct simulcast (with local legal IDs) of Penfold’s KRTM/88.1 Yucca Valley CA and its own California simulcasters.

Penfold also has the on-air name “New Life Radio”, but uses it sparingly on the air…leaving local listeners confused when they hear a station in Northeast Ohio (on 91.9 FM) proudly identifying as “KRTM, 88.1″…

FROM ON AIR TO THE INTERNET: Rubber City Radio’s Ryan Haidet has already accomplished a lot as a young broadcaster straight out of Kent State University.

At West Market Street for four years, Ryan’s been doing morning drive traffic on the Akron company’s stations (oldies/news WAKR/1590, country WQMX/94.9 and rock WONE/97.5), news reporting, entertainment reporting, and news reporting and editing work on RCRG’s AkronNewsNow.com.

It’s those last skill sets that bring Ryan to his new job – at Gannett WKYC/3’s Metromix.com, the company’s extensive entertainment website.

With his career change, Ryan reflected to OMW:

“I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for all of the experience I gained working with all of the folks behind the microphone and behind the scenes.

Rubber City Radio certainly helped get my feet wet in this ever-evolving business. While it’s emotionally hard to say goodbye and sign off, I’m looking forward to the new challenges I will face as a member of Metromix.com at WKYC in Cleveland.

As listeners know, I am a big fan of entertainment news, which will be the general focus of my new position at Metromix.com.”

Followers of Ryan’s work at RCRG know he’s the local station’s reality TV expert, and know he covers the genre extensively not only for the radio stations (“Reality Check”) and AkronNewsNow.com, but also for the national website RealityTVMagazine.com.

He regularly travels to conventions and events involving such high profile shows as CBS’ “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race”.

But listeners may not know that Ryan’s mother recently passed away.

“I can’t wait to dive in, and I’m thrilled to be turning the page to the next chapter of my life. Mom, I hope you’re smiling down on me throughout this new adventure.

Just because the microphone in Akron is going silent at this point in my career doesn’t mean you have seen or heard the last of me. Stick with me. Stay tuned…”

At this point, there’s no word on who will replace Ryan at Rubber City, in any of his roles.

His last day on West Market Street will be April 22nd…the same day AkronNewsNow.com “wrangler”/administrator/designer Bryan Siegfried leaves the building for a software company job…

OUCH: Toledo TV observers could see this train heading down the tracks, and the train has arrived. Crashed, really.

And when observers of TV in the Erie PA market realized that SJL Broadcasting was taking over ABC/Disney’s two smallest O&Os, including WTVG/13 “13abc” Toledo, they probably knew it was coming as well.

The Toledo Blade reports that SJL – having taken over WTVG earlier this month – has already brought out the job axe.

Only a week after SJL Broadcasting purchased WTVG-TV, Channel 13, and station officials announced there would be no job losses among the station’s 100 or so employees, approximately two dozen positions have been eliminated.

The job cuts were to Channel 13’s production, support, Web, and sales staff — none involved on-air talent — and included several buyouts, sources at WTVG said.

The job cuts mirror similar cuts announced earlier at the other ABC-to-SJL station, WJRT/12 Flint MI, though that station lost two high-profile, veteran anchors.

Again, no surprise to SJL watchers, or the broadcast industry in general.

The small company (a family operation linked to the Lilly/SJL stations in Erie) doesn’t spend a lot of money, and certainly doesn’t have the same budget as a major broadcast network.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see a spate of high-paid anchor contract non-renewals at “13abc” some time down the road…

THE ENGINEER OF THE TALK OF AKRON: The aforementioned WNIR “The Talk of Akron” makes a habit of running job advertisements on the air, and this is no exception.

The Akron market talker is looking for a new chief engineer.

Here’s the actual print ad:

WNIR/WJMP Radio and WAX-CH 35 and WAOH CH 29 in Akron, Ohio has an opening for Chief Engineer. Position requires Transmitter, Studio and IT equipment background.

Contact Bill Klaus: 330-673-2323 or billklaus@wnir.com

Media-Com and Media-Com Television are Equal Opportunity Employers.

No, there’s no mention there about keeping stations on the air with the help of duct tape and string.

OMW hears that the station’s current chief engineer will exit the building the first week of May…

TRANSCRIPT: Joe Tait’s Last Cavs Radio Words

The following is a transcript of Joe Tait’s last moments as the Voice of the Cavaliers…first, his final exchange with Mike Snyder, and then, his sign off – slightly altered from his usual version.

We’d like to thank Fox Sports Ohio for replaying the Cavaliers Radio Network call, so we could properly transcribe these segments:

———-

MIKE SNYDER: Joe, we’ve reached that time, and I’ll tell ya, I must say, it’s really been a privilege for me to work with you, doing this over the last 20 years. I’ve been here for most of those post-games, and some of those west coast games, where you would send me off at halftime. But, you know, I talked with you earlier today…prior to working with you, I heard you as a listener, then I met you as an aspiring sportscaster, and as you get ready to “do it to it” for the last time, I want to simply thank you. I want to thank you for your friendship, and thank you for some unforgettable, great radio, as you have painted the picture and told the stories of the Cavaliers over the years, and entertained us all. And I wish you and Jeanne nothing but the best as you go forward, Joe.

JOE TAIT: Well, thank you, Mike…and knowing what your schedule has been and is, you weren’t an “aspiring” sportscaster, you were a “perspiring” sportscaster. (both laugh)

MIKE SNYDER: There you are, you’ve always got the right thing to say. You’re right… Joe, your sense of humor has made us all feel better about life in Northeast Ohio for almost 40 years now. Thank you.

——–

JOE TAIT: Well, that’s going to do it for yours truly – and (laugh) I mean that in more ways than one…but, it’s been a real ball over the years that I’ve spent here talking to you folks, and I enjoy the response that I have received from you, believe me, very, very sincerely. So, stay tuned, there’ll be more coming on the post game with Mike Snyder, and we’ll see you down the line.

This is Joe Tait…have a good life, everybody!