Clearing Out The Week

Some of this will seem familiar to you, if you follow our Twitter account. Some, won’t, but the Twitter feed often turns into a place we can “take notes” on future topics.

There will be no word on some persistent rumors, discussion of which will be found on our social media presence. Let’s just say we’re not a “Fan” of the chances of a certain rumor involving a major Cleveland FM station coming true any time soon…

FOX 8 SPORTS: The sports department at Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 is increasing to three.

Joining veteran anchor John Telich and new sports reporter Allie LaForce will be a third member of the department, according to TVSpy.com.

P.J. Ziegler has been working as sports director of NBC affiliate WVVA/6 in the Beckley/Bluefield market of Southern West Virginia(/Western Virginia) since late 2005.

But the move to South Marginal (is it officially Dick Goddard Way yet?) means a return home, according to his WVVA bio:

P.J. is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and is a 2003 graduate of Kent State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism.

When not bringing the two Virginias the latest local sports news he can be found working out at a local gym or watching sports on television. His favorite team is the Florida Gators, but he still roots for the Cleveland Browns, Cavaliers and Indians.

The TVSpy item says he’ll be a “reporter and fill-in anchor” for Fox 8, but we don’t know how that works out re: the sports anchor schedule at WJW. We saw newsie Lou Maglio doing sports the other night, and we don’t know if Allie LaForce will have regular anchoring duties…

QA-WHAT?: Those depending on digital cable boxes to deliver high-definition programming may have no idea what “QAM” means.

It’s the cable TV standard to deliver digital channels “behind the scenes” of the boxes, and many TV tuners can decode those signals directly, without boxes.

Usually, that only means the non-box set will get so-called “Open QAM” channels – non-encrypted, generally the local over-air stations in digital/HD form.

Here at the OMW World Headquarters in Time Warner Cable’s ex-Adelphia land, we get the HD/digital feeds of all the network affiliates this way on one of our HD sets, including whatever digital subchannels TWC carries from the station (i.e. WKYC/3 and WOIO/19’s weather subchannels, public TV subchannels, WJW/8’s Antenna TV, WUAB/43’s This TV and the like).

If TWC does not have a home on the regular digital cable lineup for a subchannel, like subchannels for ION’s WVPX/23 or the part-time religious programming on WBNX/55.2, it won’t show up on QAM.

Anyway, some of those depending on QAM tuning to get the HD locals found them disappearing recently, primarly in the Akron/Canton area.

We got confirmation of that from Diane Steinert, Communications Coordinator and OMW Handler at Western Reserve PBS (WNEO/45 Alliance-WEAO/49 Akron), who told us they had viewer complaints that the station’s QAM feed had gone away.

It’s a trap.

No, not Diane’s word from station engineers, but it is a literal trap.

A frequency move of the QAM channels in some TWC areas apparently moved them onto frequencies that are trapped by some cable installations…a practice dating back presumably to the old analog days, allowing the cable operator to “block” pay channels like HBO at the customer end, if the customer didn’t pay for them.

The problem is apparently not widespread, but TWC’s Travis Reynolds confirms to OMW that those having the problem should call TWC:

Any customers experiencing this issue can contact us and we’ll send a technician out to fix it. We are aware of the issue and it’s actually a simple fix for us, however, we need to be notified because we have no way of knowing proactively who is impacted.

The first thing a QAM-using customer should do, even before calling TWC, is rescan their channels.

QAM is kind of the “back alley” of digital cable, and cable companies can – and will – change channel assignments at will.

The digital cable boxes can handle this underlying change without any trouble, but your TV set’s digital tuner can’t.

Meanwhile, here on the ex-Adelphia end of their system, TWC moving a lot of analog channels away
from the 70s in the lineup cleared up a whole bunch of QAM problems we had.

Now, all the stations are clear…and we’re blaming our low-end HDTV set’s tuner for not being able to handle the analog adjacent channels. All is working now, though…

NO ONE WANTS IT: There was quite a bit of speculation about FCC Auction 91 in Northeast Ohio, putting a number of FM construction permits up for bids… including one unfilled allocation at 96.1 for Ashtabula.

The Eagle Eyes of your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) spotted a Media One company on the qualified bidder list.

But at very least the Ashtabula arm of Media One would likely not be able to own yet another signal in the region. (Cue E-mail from Ashtabula, surely saying we got something wrong, if not everything.)

Sure enough, it was the Jamestown NY-based arm of the Media One empire bidding on a station near there, a bidding war it lost to competitor Cross Country Communications.

Who would own 96.1 back in Ashtabula?

Well, as it turns out, no one.

The Ashtabula allocation is one of 36 “FCC Held” results in Auction 91, and if you follow that link and click on the Ashtabula link, you’ll find that it had no bidders in 62 rounds of bidding.

We’re curious as to why there were no potential bidders – like perhaps Music Express Broadcasting, the owners of country WKKY/104.7 Geneva. They were up for the construction permit for the new 93.7/North Madison allocation, but lost to South Shore Broadcasting.

We’re asked “what happens now?” – and all we can say is that it’s likely the FCC will put up the allocation in the next auction process.

Meanwhile, in heated bidding just up I-90 in Erie PA, an Auction 91 construction permit went for over $2 million…

AND STILL ON: You’d have to be under a rock, we guess, to not have heard of the Doomsday prediction by California-based religious broadcaster Harold Camping.

You’re still here reading this, and we were around Sunday night to write it, so the predicted Rapture (set for May 21st at 6 PM local time, according to Camping) never happened.

What does this have to do with local media?

Camping’s Family Radio owns two Northeast Ohio outlets…Akron market WCUE/1150 Cuyahoga Falls, and Youngstown’s WYTN/91.7.

We don’t know if it’s automation, non-believers at the helm or what, but a quick check of WCUE on Sunday night had it pumping out the same “inspirational” music Family Radio pumps out every Sunday night.

We don’t remember for sure, but we’re pretty sure Camping’s organization got main studio waiver status for WCUE several years ago, so 1150 is but a repeater of Family Radio’s Oakland CA-based satellite feed, with legal IDs inserted by automation.

So, if no one was at WCUE’s transmitter site in the former Northampton Township this weekend, it wasn’t any rapture…it was standard radio operations practice in 2011…

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One Response to Clearing Out The Week

  1. victor malar says:

    You would think Ziegler would be the new weekend guy.

    Maglio has been helping out on sports for awhile now post-Rizzo, giving John Telich an occasional night off during the week.

    With Ziegler aboard now, that will likely go by the wayside.

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