Talk To Me, WABQ

It took a few days later than expected, but Gary Richards’ LMA of Radio Advantage One’s WABQ/1460 Painesville took effect on Thursday, August 4, with the station shedding its’ gospel music format in favor of liberal talk.

As of right now, a website for “Talk 1460” is up but still in development. No streaming of the station yet, either, but given Gary R.’s past lease of Bernard Radio’s WVKO/1580 Columbus, it should be coming soon.

The lineup is pretty much what was outlined in the Scene article – a steady diet of progressive hosts Bill Press, Stephanie Miller,  Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann and Leslie Marshall, in addition to ‘local host Joe Cleveland.’ Joe, as it turns out, is co-anchoring a local morning news block from 6:00AM – 9:00AM alongside station veteran Gary Webster, who helmed the same morning news block mostly by himself since 1999.

What has been re-dubbed “East Side Morning Express” is clearly still oriented towards Lake County. Virtually all of the service elements from that news block remain in place, along with some assorted commentary from Joe. Not that different from most typical ‘news and views’ morning drive blocks, and Joe and Gary W. seem to have a very good rapport together on-air.

(No, I have no idea on who “Joe Cleveland” is by name. The Scene article states that he is ‘an on-air vet whose roots dig back to WENZ-FM The End,’ so take your own guess.)

It’s very good news for Gary W., who has been a fixture at One Radio Place since the early 90s, previously hosting middays on the old WBKC/1460 before assuming the morning duties from former owner Clarence Bucaro. Gary W. has even outlasted both a relay of WCLV/104.9 Lorain and the assumption of WABQ/1540′s East Side-oriented Gospel format, offering up the same morning news block with little changes whatsoever.

The rest of the day is a mixed bag right now.

It’s possible that the station literally is being built completely from scratch. While both Miller and Schultz had top of the hour legal IDs (delivered with a live time check, presumably by Webster) leading into the CNN Radio/ report, Hartmann’s show was a different story, with no TOH ID, and then a dated (and unabashedly opinionated) newscast… offered by Hartmann himself.

Of course, automation wasn’t necessary when the station was a WCLV relay, and who knows exactly if the East Side gospel format needed any automation whatsoever. This looks to be an issue that will need to take some time in order to resolve (but remember that WVKO did take their programming from a public internet stream).

The CNN/Marketwatch affiliation is no surprise, either, as WBKC took up that affiliation after Westwood One finally shut down the bare remnants of “NBC Radio News” at some point in 2004. (Heck, WBKC may have been the last station – period – to even bother carrying “NBC Radio News” programming!)

Again, we wish the very best for Gary Richards.

It’s not easy to launch a format like this (even in a market who’s only exposure to progressive talk came from a WTAM/1100 programming move to forever live in infamy). Moreover, on an AM station that had largely ignored it’s own core audience in Lake County after taking up the East Side-oriented gospel format. And Lake County is an area that would be somewhat unlikely to launch a progressive talk station, at least, in comparison to Cleveland or Lorain – and WABQ’s signal isn’t reliable enough to reach those areas, even in optimal conditions.

But Gary R.’s initial moves with WABQ are clearly trying to redirect the station back to its’ primary local service to Lake County. That’s a wise move on his part, especially in rebuilding the station’s relevance from One Radio Place, piece by piece.  It could involve the return of high school sports coverage – given Gary R.’s prior experience with it at WVKO – and maybe even the resumption of Indians, Cavaliers, Browns and tOSU broadcasts.

What isn’t known right now is if Gary Richards is operating WABQ via an LMA with intent to eventually purchase it. Recall that back in 2009, Dale Edwards tried to unload the entire facility, with an asking price under $2 million.

One can’t fault Gary R. if this is a lease-to-purchase deal, given the way that Bernard upended his LMA of WVKO


5 Responses to Talk To Me, WABQ

  1. Jim Nuznoff says:

    Gary Webster….was this the newscaster who was on WHK circa 1978 with the late Gary Dee? Wow, if true.

  2. steve says:

    Gary was left a building that should be condemned from water damage and mold, equipment that dates back to 1982 and a signal that was nowhere under optimum conditions.
    Focusing on Lake County could be his only salvation. But it will be an uphill struggle. Yeras of mismanagement have left zero public awareness and client base. Most of the stores that made WPVL a profitrable station are gone, replaced by chain stores who will not buy time on the local pea shooter. Syndicated liberal talk? Puleeze. How about local music hosts, news and sports, remotes, public affairs…ah…ASCAP fees are now prohibitive.
    Sorry, I grew up when WPVL was a major local force. But that’s then, this is now, and such stations are history. Times have changed. And that’s too bad.

    • Secondary Editorial Voice (tm) says:

      Looking at pics from the WPVL studios circa 1959… and what they look like today… yikes.

      Quite frankly, I have no earthly idea how in the world Dale Edwards was able to keep a gospel format running on 1460 when his intended listener base couldn’t pick up the signal (no thanks to deep interference from WERE/1490 and WWGK/1540) and the existing listener base was basically told, “you don’t matter to us one bit.” How he lasted five years on there, I have no clue.

      “Mismanagement” is probably an understatement.

      Who knows if Gary R. really knew what he was getting into with LMA’ing WABQ.

  3. Conservative Listener says:

    You had me up until I heard the liberal (not progressive) talk radio format took over. You really should reexamine where the market is. Liberal talk radio has not been able to make it anywhere. Hopefully you can hang on long enough until you change to a “conservative” talk radio format… I like to new morning news format..

  4. deejay says:

    What’s Mike Olszewski up to lately? Joe Cleveland seems right up his alley. Forgive this transplanted Clevelander who relies on internet feeds, mostly, for not knowing if Mike O. is on air anywhere since being released from NCX.

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