A Snowy Mix Piling Up

As we write this item, the first snow of the season can be seen outside the OMW World Headquarters.

Meanwhile, our items are piling more than the snow in this short-lived event…

THIS JUST IN, FROM THE FCC: Monday, the Federal Communications Commission officially approved the $6.5 million sale of Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting AAA WNWV/107.3 “V107.3” to Akron’s Rubber City Radio Group.

There’s no word on a timetable for the deal to close, or on what the new owners plan to do with the station…

STAFFING UP: For some time, Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3’s morning newscast has featured former chief meteorologist Mark Nolan as its only news anchor…usually sitting alongside morning meteorologist Hollie Strano.

That’ll change soon.

WKYC has hired Erin Kennedy, evening anchor at Providence RI combo WPRI/WNAC, as its new morning co-anchor. In Providence, she was a co-worker of Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8 News” reporter/weekend anchor and OMW reader Mark Zinni.

From fellow blogger and WKYC Senior Director Frank Macek’s “Director’s Cut” blog:

“I’m looking forward to becoming part of such a terrific morning show,” said Ms. Kennedy. “And I’m excited to work with such a strong and enterprising news team. More than anything, I value Channel 3’s commitment to making a difference in the Northeast Ohio community. My husband and I can’t wait to put down roots in this dynamic and progressive city.”

Hollie Strano will remain as the show’s weather anchor, and reporters Amanda Barren and Stephanie Coueignoux, and “Ways To Save” segment host/producer Matt Granite, also remain in place.

One part of her resume is unusual for the Cleveland market:

Erin is fluent in Spanish, and a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She has reported from Mexico; covering stories on immigration and the drug trade. While in Providence, Erin was the creator, producer and anchor of “Webcast en Espanol.”

We don’t know if Northeast Ohio’s Spanish-speaking population is large enough to garner attention from its big English-language-only network affiliates, but if WKYC believes so, it has its anchor.

Note, of course, that Univision O&O WQHS/61 has no news presence at all…it’s only in Univision’s hands because the Spanish-language network bought the former Home Shopping Network stations in bulk. “Univision 61” only airs one local program – a Sunday public affairs show that looks for all the world like it’s taped in the WQHS lobby.

Macek’s item says Erin Kennedy starts in early January, after she and her musician husband move here…

AND SHE USED TO BE HERE: “Fox 8 News” had quite a sendoff for long-time evening co-anchor Stacey Bell, who moved to New Jersey to be with her husband, New York Jets running back coach Anthony Lynn.

Could she be back behind the TV anchor desk in New Jersey soon, as well?

OMW hears that Bell has taken an anchor position with Cablevision-owned local news channel News 12, which has operations in areas all around New York City and its suburbs (including New Jersey).

We hear she’s expected to start at News 12 in February, giving Stacey a long time to catch up with her husband without having to work. The pair has had a commuter marriage for years.

We don’t know which arm of the News 12 empire will feature Bell, but even Connecticut or Long Island is a much shorter commute than Cleveland…

DANIELLE, NOT SHARON, FOR A FEW: A tidbit from the Facebook presence of Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19 “19 Action News” 4:30 PM co-anchor Danielle Serino:

In addition to my role on the 4:30 broadcast with Paul Joncich, I will be filing in during the 5:30 news, as well as anchoring the 10pm news on our sister station WUAB. My new role begins today and should last for the next 6-8 weeks.

As we commented to someone else, “that would basically be Sharon Reed’s anchor schedule, right?” That it is, but we have no idea what Sharon will be doing for the next 6 to 8 weeks…

PROMOTION FOR OMW READER: We’ve often joked that Clear Channel Akron/Canton operations director Keith Kennedy, who programs hot AC WKDD/98.1 and co-hosts that station’s morning show with Jenn Ryan, currently voicetracks middays on AC WHOF/101.7 “My 101.7”, and also oversees programming for Clear Channel’s Ashland/Mansfield cluster on top of his local duties, does everything but sweep the snow off the microwave dishes at Freedom Avenue.

He’s got quite a few more dishes under his programming oversight now.

That’s because Keith has been named Regional Programming Manager for Clear Channel in Northern Ohio, with a number of markets in his portfolio now: Akron/Canton, Toledo, Youngstown, Ashland/Mansfield, and Defiance.

That’s nearly every Ohio Clear Channel market north of Columbus, with the obvious exception of the Cleveland market…larger markets are under a different structure in Clear Channel’s recent restructuring.

So, Keith Kennedy is obviously a long-time OMW reader, and upon finding this news in another trade report, we reached out and asked him about it:

“I can confirm I’ve become the RPM for Northern Ohio. I’m thrilled to work with great stations, strong brands and excellent people.”

Keith will retain all of his current duties at Freedom Avenue, and won’t be coming off the air there at all…

ANN’S CORNER: It’s been a while since we gave space to long-time Friend of OMW Ann VerWiebe…marketing and public relations guru for Kent State University-owned NPR outlet WKSU/89.7 Kent and its myriad of simulcasters and translators.

But there’s more WKSU-related news, so here we go.

* The station has successfully completed its “Sound of the Future” capital fundraiser. From a release helpfully provided by Ann:

The station raised a total of more than $5 million in the largest fund raising effort in WKSU’s 61-year history. The four-year campaign focused on raising funds to upgrade WKSU’s broadcasting infrastructure in a move towards digital technology.

We are grateful to everyone who donated to or worked on the Sound of the Future campaign,” (WKSU executive director/general manager Al) Bartholet says. “Its success means better sounding radio for Northeast Ohio as WKSU moves through our next half century. Digital technology makes the station more efficient and effective as we continue to provide quality public radio to the region.”

Gifts to the Sound of the Future campaign were divided between cash and pledges, documented planned gifts and in-kind donations. The largest percentage of the total went to WKSU’s digital conversion, the station’s News & Information Fund and Folk Alley.

In addition to the full HD/digital conversion of all the station’s full-power repeaters, WKSU’s on-air studio was reequipped and dubbed “The J.M. Smucker Company Studio”.

No word on if the gift includes free jams and jellies…

* The Ohio Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) named WKSU reporter/producer Vivian Goodman as Best Reporter in Ohio for the year 2010 (in 2011 awards). The list of Best of Show, First Place and Second Place winners includes pretty much the entire WKSU staff.

The complete Ohio SPJ 2011 winners list – including for TV, print and other categories – is at the awards’ site here.

A quick look at the radio list shows a number of awards for both WKSU and its main public radio competitor, Ideastream’s WCPN/90.3 Cleveland (among them, Best Public Affairs Program for WCPN midday talk show “Sound of Ideas”), among others.

And there’s that Best Anchor award to Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland anchor and OMW reader Tom Moore…well deserved for the Oak Tree veteran.

* Speaking of OMW readers getting awards, WKSU got five national awards in the Communication Contest produced by National Federation of Press Women (NFPW), including awards to Goodman and reporter/producer Amanda Rabinowitz.

And look! This is “Ann’s Corner” for another reason:

2nd Place: Online Newsletters, Interim Director of Public Relations and Marketing Ann VerWiebe for “Folk Alley Chat.”

Hey, we know her from somewhere. At least we didn’t miss it this time! Congratulations, Ann…

SPEAKING OF FRIENDS OF OMW: Former Clear Channel Youngstown programmer Matt Spatz is still an OMW reader.

Matt was programming rock WNCD/93.3 “The Wolf” and top 40 WAKZ/95.9 “Kiss FM” at South Avenue, until falling victim to the most recent round of Clear Channel budget cuts.

Matt checks in, and tells us: “I’m doing fine. I’ve had numerous inquiries from stations from around the country about PD, OM and morning show openings. Just waiting for the right one.”

If you’re hiring, and want to add Matt to your team, he can be reached via E-mail at matthewspatz (at) msn.com, or via phone at (330) 502-1254. (A reminder: upon request, we run both Help Wanted and Situation Wanted ads free of charge for anyone in the radio and TV industries.)

Despite being involuntarily thrown “on the beach” in the Clear Channel cuts, Matt has a positive attitude. “I’m blessed to have some great people around me,” Matt tells us…


Back Together Again In The Valley

There’s a change at the Whiplash Radio operation in the Youngstown market, that reunites programming on the cluster’s two stations.

Whiplash’s WYCL/1540 Niles had been LMAed by Philip Cato with a talk format. Well, it had a talk format most of the time, anyway, give or take syndicated smooth jazz and other musical programming.

Whiplash owner and OMW reader Chris Lash has taken over programming WYCL again, and has flipped it to a simulcast of co-owned standards outlet WHTX/1570 Warren “Fabulous 1570”. That outlet is leased by Cleveland radio historian and fellow OMW reader Jim Davison.

The 1570-to-1540 simulcast will be broken up four hours a day, as Louie B. Free has survived a station format change.

The King of Youngstown Brokered Talk Radio (our title for him, of course) will continue to be heard on WYCL/1540 only, but will move, starting Monday, to a new time slot of 10 AM-2 PM weekdays. He has been heard from 9 AM to noon.

The move allows Gary Rhamy’s local morning drive show to be heard on both stations in his existing 7 AM-10 AM time slot, and WHTX will continue in its music format while Free holds forth on WYCL.

Outside of Free’s show, dubbed “Brainfood from the Heartland”, WYCL will simulcast all WHTX programming…at least during its daytime hours of operation.

It’s the second time recently that the stations have simulcast…Beacon Broadcasting aired 1570’s former Fox Sports Radio format on 1540 until the sale to Whiplash Radio. And back in the early 1990s, the stations were paired in an urban format as “Network 15 – The City”.

And as for Mr. Lash himself, he’s quite busy…and he’s going home.

A Tom Lavery item we missed in Pittsburgh’s PBRTV last month has more explanation:

Whiplash Radio, owners of 1570 WHTX and 1540 WYCL in the Warren-Youngstown, OH market announce a new LMA/Purchase with Vilkie Communications, operator of 1370 WHYP in Corry, PA effective December 1st. Its a homecoming for Whiplash’s Chris Lash, as he worked at the former WWCB in high school, and in the Erie, PA market until 1988. Lash is also from Union City, PA located ten miles away from Corry. His Whiplash Radio corporate headquarters will also move to the new station.

Of course, Joe Vilkie’s company recently filed to buy the two former Beacon AM stations on the Pennsylvania border – WLOA/1470 Farrell PA and WGRP/940 Greenville PA – from EMF Broadcasting, which only wanted to hang onto Beacon’s former FM station…the former WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA, now running EMF’s ubitquous Christian contemporary “K-Love” format as a Youngstown market rimshot under new calls WLVX.

Vilkie’s home base is classic hits WMVL/101.7 Linesville PA “Cool 101.7” in the Meadville PA market, a short hop over the Ohio border (they call it “Linesville” for a reason).

Long-time OMW readers might remember that Vilkie LMA’ed WGRP in the past, from former owner Beacon, in an earlier attempt to buy it…

The Exit Door

It’s nearing the end of the year, and that means at least one high profile TV news personality in Cleveland is about to end her run here…and one other could follow in the next month or so…

BELL MOVES ON: The first primary evening news anchor to exit the Cleveland market this season is Stacey Bell, who has been co-anchoring the 5 PM and 10 PM editions of Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8 News” with Bill Martin for the past few years…starting anchor duties on the 5 PM show in 2000, and adding 10 PM duties in 2006.

The station’s Dan Jovic has more on Fox8.com:

After 13 years, she will sign off on Wednesday for the final time on Fox 8 News. Stacey is leaving Fox 8 to join her husband in New Jersey.

Please join us in saying a heartfelt goodbye to Stacey Bell over the next few days.

The announcement of Bell’s departure appears rather sudden, but we’ve talked about her impending exit here for weeks…and have already passed along word that “Fox 8 News in the Morning”‘s Tracy McCool has been the odds on “in house” favorite to move to the evening co-anchor chair alongside Martin.

We aren’t yet hearing that such a move has been made official, and we’ve heard nothing of outside candidates one way or the other.

OMW is hearing that another evening anchor, elsewhere in the Cleveland market, could be leaving their station as soon as mid-December…

OTHER MOVES: Yes, that’s former long-time Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 anchor/reporter/show host Scott Newell who’s been popping up lately reporting on Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s “NewsChannel 5”.

We’ve checked, and it turns out Newell is freelancing for WEWS, and has not actually been hired as a regular employee.

Not that the man most remembered for hosting WKYC’s “AM Cleveland” in the 1980s has not been busy.

He left WKYC (after returning there as a freelancer) in 2000, and has done a number of independent TV news producing jobs, including a lot of work for network TV news shows.

And we last caught up with Newell’s career after he won a seat on Pepper Pike City Council.

He was elected to begin serving in January 2010, and he’s still listed as a council member on the city’s website. We presume that if he is still on council, WEWS would ask him to refrain from covering stories about Pepper Pike’s government – but that’s not really a governmental body that gets a lot of TV news attention.

Meanwhile, OMW hears that a former local TV weather anchor has moved to a new job.

MediaBistro’s TV Spy reports that Amy Murphy has joined Scripps ABC affilate KNXV/15 “ABC 15” in Phoenix as a weekend weather anchor.

The TV Spy post notes her return to Phoenix after a stint in Los Angeles…but it doesn’t mention her time in Cleveland, where she was known as Amy Hasten, at WKYC and later at WEWS. She was here until leaving for a job in Miami, and it doesn’t sound like Amy has seen snow in years…

NO JUSTICE, NO TALK SHOW: And we freely admit we swiped that one from Paul Rado’s comment on our Facebook page.

Yes, it’s true…after years hosting Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100’s Sunday night show, “Black on Black Crime” community activist Art McKoy is without a radio platform.

OMW hears that McKoy’s exit from his post on WTAM “was not by his choice”, the station replacing his show with a new program hosted by Cleveland City Council member Zack Reed.

From a station release on the new Sunday 8-10 PM show, called “The Forum”:

Reed’s experience as a Cleveland City Councilman will give him a unique perspective on what the real problems are in our area. He will also bring insight to positive programs and developments that will make a difference in our community,” said Ray Davis, Program Director, WTAM. “We are happy to have him join the talented group of talk talent on WTAM.

But though the official release highlights Reed’s public service career, there’s not one word about the station’s former polarizing Sunday night personality.

And no, though we do know Art McKoy didn’t leave on his own, we don’t know what prompted WTAM to make the change.

Reed appeared on a recent edition of Mike Trivisonno’s afternoon drive show, with Triv noting frequently that McKoy was “no longer with the station”.

Triv and McKoy had a lot of back and forth “sparring” between the two shows over the years, though certainly much of that was played up for on-air and comedic effect…

IN STORE: We haven’t gotten a chance to visit Time Warner Cable’s new retail store across Brittain Road from Akron’s Chapel Hill Mall, but TWC local public relations guy and OMW reader Travis Reynolds has answered a few of our earlier questions.

From a fact sheet Travis passed along to us, it appears that the new store will indeed offer live “hands-on” demonstrations of TWC products:

12 interactive TVs showcasing TWC programming and features , including Digital Cable, Movies on Demand, HDTV, DVR, Look Back and Start Over
3 computers demonstrating TWC’s broadband and Wideband internet service.
2 Digital Phone displays.
2 Mobile Internet kiosks.
TWCable TV ipad app

This would presumably be a direct answer to our earlier complaints about a “demonstration” unit for AT&T’s U-verse we ran into at a local AT&T store, with a thinly disguised DVR playback system acting as the “demo” unit. (And if there is somewhere one can go “hands on” with U-verse somewhere in Northeast Ohio, we’d love to know about it.)

And as we suspected, the former Time Warner Cable customer service operation at Midway Plaza on the Tallmadge/Akron border has been moved up Brittain Road to the new retail store, with customer service being offered “on the floor” for those who wish to use it.

No, not literally “on the floor” at the Brittain Road store…they meant as opposed to being behind a counter…

The Crowded Christmas Music Parade

Just one day after we noted Northeast Ohio’s first Christmas music station of the season (Canton market Clear Channel otherwise AC WHOF/101.7 “My 101.7”), and hours after Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8’s “Fox 8 News in the Morning” picked up on our speculation…the Christmas Music Parade has become a mini-stampede.

Well, almost.

As widely expected, CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 Cleveland has officially jumped onto Santa’s Musical Sleigh…complete with an on-air name change to “Christmas 102.1”.

But WDOK wasn’t alone in its flip.

This morning at 10, it was Clear Channel Cleveland classic hits WMJI/105.7 “Majic 105.7” moving to holiday tunes, calling itself the home of “Cleveland’s Greatest Holiday Hits”.

WMJI reportedly got a just under an hour jump on WDOK, which has been promoting its eventual switch to Christmas music for some time now…we hear WDOK’s flip happened at just before 11 AM.

What in the name of Kris Kringle is going on here?

Last year’s entrant in the Clear Channel Christmas sweepstakes was then-WMVX/106.5 “Mix 106.5”, which launched out of Christmas music in late December to stunt an all-over-the-road music format on the way to its current variety hits format as “106.5 The Lake”. (Note to “Fox 8 News in the Morning” – 106.5’s call letters changed from WMVX to WHLK in that flip.)

With clustermate WMJI taking the Christmas Music Banner for Oak Tree this year, we assume that Clear Channel expects “The Lake” to pick up some disgruntled classic hits listeners by sticking with its variety hits format this season…giving both 105.7 and 106.5 a ratings bump, in theory.

Meanwhile, a quick check of the stream of close WMJI cousin WBBG/106.1 in the Youngstown market shows it is still running its regular classic hits format…odd, since it has been promising Christmas tunes in its future for longer than any of the other stations above.

As it turns out, WBBG is announcing on air that Christmas music will start “the Wednesday before Thanksgiving”…

The Parade

It’s a short parade of news items, as local media is pretty quiet, news-wise, just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

But one parade is at the front of our larger parade, so to speak…

HO HO HO!: Northeast Ohio radio has its first Christmas music station of the season.

As no surprise to anyone, it’s Clear Channel AC WHOF/101.7 “My 101.7” in the Canton market, which started rolling out the holiday tunes at 9 AM Wednesday. WHOF is traditionally at or near the start of the Christmas Music Parade.

“My 101.7” is also offering the traditional AC format via a website link to iHeartRadio’s “Soft Rock” offering.

And as of this writing, WHOF is alone in the format…but that won’t last long.

A quick trip to the website of CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 would certainly make you think that the Cleveland station had already started the Jingle Bells.

The site bears something of a holiday theme, and the station’s holiday themed logo proclaims it as “Cleveland’s Christmas Station”.

But musically? Well, unless you consider the Pat Benetar rock anthem “Love Is A Battlefield” to be holiday music…not yet, on the air at least.

Make no mistake, the Christmas music is coming soon to 102.1, as a station staffer posted on the WDOK Twitter feed just Tuesday:

we haven’t announced when we’re switching over the air yet…but I would dust off your santa hat, it won’t be long now…

Other possible flips?

Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 “The Fish” is still pumping out the Christian contemporary format, and Clear Channel variety hits WHLK/106.5 “The Lake” is still spinning its non-holiday music wheel.

Of course, last year, WMVX “Mix 106.5″‘s music mix gave way to Christmas music, before leading the way to an “all over the road” music playlist that gave way to today’s “Lake”.

In the Youngstown market, Clear Channel classic hits WBBG/106.1 has been promising holiday music in its future for a number of weeks now, but it’s not happening yet…

HAVE A GOOD BOOK EVERYBODY!: Retired Cavaliers radio voice Joe Tait has written a new book.

Gray and Company, the Cleveland-based publisher of a variety of locally-themed books, has unveiled “Joe Tait: It’s Been A Real Ball”.

Quoting a Gray and Company release:

The book celebrates the inspiring career of “the Voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers” with stories from Joe and dozens of fans, media colleagues, and players. Co-written with award-winning sports writer Terry Pluto, the book hits the highlights of Tait’s long career and also uncovers some touching personal details.

The folks at Gray and Company tell us that Joe’s book is available in local bookstores, and online (in both print and eBook form) at Amazon.com and BN.com.

More can be found at the website devoted to the book: JoeTaitBook.com

WITHER THE TRANSLATORS?: Two translators that seem destined to give Clear Channel FM future presences for news/talk stations are still in motion.

W273BL/102.5 Akron has been delivering Educational Media Foundation’s Christian rock format, “Air 1”, via 10 watts from the Akron antenna farm for some time.

The station recently received a construction permit for 77 watts for the same site – and lists Clear Channel hot AC WKDD/98.1 Munroe Falls as its new primary station.

In a quick drive around the Akron area on Tuesday, it sounds to us like they are still sitting on 10 watts – and the programming is still EMF’s “Air 1” feed.

Now, if “Air 1” is moving from a 10 watt ride to a 77 watt ride, we wouldn’t spend a lot of time on it.

But Clear Channel and EMF have a deal…where in some markets, CC puts new formats on EMF-owned translators (like they’ve done in Minneapolis), and in return, EMF can use Clear Channel HD sidechannels to feed its own formats to commercial band translators (like they’ve done in Detroit via the HD carrier of urban AC WMXD/92.3 “Mix 92.3”).

EMF’s need comes from an FCC rule: you can’t feed commercial band translators via satellite, EMF’s primary delivery system. So, by using the HD2 feed of a commercial station (WMXD), EMF can farm out “K-Love” to four Detroit area commercial band translators.


Well, W273BL has no such problem at 102.5 in Akron.

The “Air 1” feed comes via a non-commercial band translator, W215BS/90.9 Hinckley, which itself is fed via satellite – since you can feed non-comm band translators via satellite.

Is 102.5 FM in Akron destined to become an FM home for, say, Clear Channel talk WHLO/640…which conveniently already resides on WKDD’s HD2 sidechannel?

It would seem likely, though the general reaction out of Clear Channel’s World Domination HQ/Southern Command on Freedom Avenue has been “huh?”.

Still in limbo, FCC-wise, is a new translator that would presumably be tabbed as an FM simulcast voice for the company’s talk WTAM/1100 “The Big One” in Cleveland.

But Clear Channel, after receiving a construction permit for W259BI/99.1 that was rescinded, has filed a new amendment to get it going again…an amendment that was received at the FCC on Tuesday.

We can’t tell from the new filing what CC did to address earlier FCC technical concerns. (Feel free to read it here in PDF format.)

The newly revived 99.1 translator application would appear to have the same technical specifiations – 250 watts at 238 meters from the WMJI/105.7 tower in Parma.

Now, we’ve confirmed none of this, aside from the easily available FCC information filed for the public.

There’s no buzz about these stations either at Oak Tree or at Freedom Avenue, which makes sense when you consider that the moves are likely being orchestrated by Clear Channel corporate.

The company has mounted FM translator simulcasts for its big AM news/talkers in a number of markets, including the aforementioned Minneapolis, Portland OR and Miami (which now has two FM translators).

So, it’d appear likely to happen with 99.1 and 102.5 here…but there’s no official word yet…

TED HITS AGAIN: It’s been quite a year for former Columbus radio personality Ted Williams, discovered panhandling by a Columbus Dispatch reporter in January as a homeless former radio personality.

“The Golden Voice” went viral, YouTube style, and then got a long list of job offers as his story went worldwide…a run that included a number of national TV appearances.

Later in the year, we heard that he entered and left rehab, and entered again, and most of those job offers (including a gig as the arena voice for the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena) went away.

Ted’s back.

Boston-based New England Cable News has picked up Williams as its station voice, reports the Boston Herald’s Jessica Heslam.

Heslam writes that the formerly homeless voice is doing the NECN gig, well, from his home. Yes, he has one:

NECN station manager Stacey Marks Bronner sought out Williams because he’s got a “one-of-a-kind voice,” in the words of station spokesman Skip Perham.

The father of nine now lives in a condo in Dublin, Ohio, with his longtime girlfriend, doing the voice-over work for NECN from his at-home studio. He said he’s got a great lawyer, mended “a few bridges that were kind of burnt” with family members and has an inspirational memoir coming out next year.

NECN flew Williams to Boston, according to Heslam, where network staffers presented him with a Boston Red Sox jersey – with number 9, the number a certain other Ted Williams, the Hall of Fame ballplayer, wore.

Far from the worldwide scrutiny, where Ted Williams, the voice guy, has become another statistic in the “Where are they now?” category…and reportedly sober since May…maybe the Columbus man has finally hit his home run…

SHOPPING FOR CABLE: Local cable giant Time Warner Cable is opening up a new retail store.

The store in the Servus Centers complex at 1919 Brittain Road in Akron – directly across from Chapel Hill Mall – opens up Friday at 9 AM.

Unlike the company’s large numbers of customer service centers, the retail store is meant to showcase, and presumably sell, its products. TV service in 2011 is far from the days where you could just get people to sign up because you offered clear reception and a few dozen cable-only channels.

From a TWC release:

The new, 2,800 square-foot store showcases Time Warner Cable’s services, offering consumers a hands-on opportunity to test-drive products.

We certainly hope that statement is accurate.

We’ve been to AT&T stores that promise a “hands on test drive” of the company’s competing U-verse service, only to find a thinly masked system running short videos off a DVR.

A presence on Brittain Road in Akron’s Chapel Hill area is not new for the cable company…not at all.

TWC (we believe as either, or both, Warner Cable and Warner-Amex Cable) long had a customer service center a few blocks down Brittain Road, just south of Chapel Hill Mall.

The current customer service center in the Chapel Hill area, we believe, is further down Brittain Road in Midway Plaza…though we wonder if TWC will move it back up Brittain Road into the new retail store…

The New GMC Gang’s Together

Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5” has announced the final piece of the new “Good Morning Cleveland” puzzle.

From a station press release, which also mentions the hire of MMJ Josh Boose that we reported earlier:


WEWS NewsChannel5 welcomes anchor Mike Dunston to Good Morning Cleveland.

Dunston will join new anchor hire Macie McInnis Jepson, Meteorologist Christine Ferreira, Traffic Anchor/Reporter Alicia Roberts and new multimedia journalist hire Josh Boose.

“I’m excited to work for a station that is on the cutting edge of journalism – and the ever-changing ways people get updated on news and information,” Dunston said, referring to NewsChannel5’s information delivery on-air, online, and on smart phones and tablets.

“I am thrilled an anchor of Mike’s caliber and experience is joining our morning news team,” said News Director Jill Manuel. “His arrival will allow NewsChannel5 to take Good Morning Cleveland to the next level of providing our viewers with the very latest news traffic and weather to help them prepare for the day ahead.”

Dunston currently is part of a team that anchors five and a half hours of morning news at WOFL-TV in Orlando, Florida. He has worked there since 2007.

Prior to WOFL, Mike worked in various roles as an anchor or reporter at WTVD in Raleigh-Durham, WTTG in Washington, D.C., KHOU in Houston, WUSA in Washington, D.C. and WHIO-TV in Dayton, where Dunston got his start in journalism.

He’s been to Cleveland several times, including for past presidential campaigns. “And Northeast Ohio has plenty of interesting years ahead,” he said.

Dunston holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Maryland.

Dunston and McInnis Jepson will join the NewsChannel5 and newsnet5.com family in December, and begin working on the launch of new Good Morning Cleveland show the following month.

Josh Boose, a northeast Ohio native, will begin reporting on Dec. 12.

The Monday Collection

Some of this you’ve already read before, of course, but it’s official…

SLATS TO WNCX: In a previous item, we told you that former Cleveland market radio veteran Tim Slats was heading back to town for a big gig…morning driver at CBS Radio classic rocker WNCX/98.5.

On Friday, we found a familiar sight in our mailbox…official confirmation that Slats would start in morning drive on WNCX (as we reported) today, Monday, November 7th.

And from that official release out of the Halle Building, rock division:

“We are excited to have Slats as a member of the WNCX team. His love of Classic Rock and knowledge of Cleveland made him the obvious choice for the position,” commented Bill Louis, WNCX – Program Director.

Slats, a 29 year veteran in the radio industry spent the past six years in the Orlando market where he most recently served as midday host on rocker WHTQ-FM.

“I feel lucky to be back in Cleveland,” said Slats. “It’s a great opportunity to be working at such a heritage Classic Rock station.”

The Slats “welcome” page linked above notes something we’ve reported before…aside from returning to radio in Orlando, Slats was, well, on the links…working as a golf professional in Florida. (It sure beats working as a golf professional in Cleveland in November.)

Slats, a veteran of both Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7 and CBS Radio alt-rock WK-or-X-whatever-its-calls-were/92.3, takes the 5:30 to 10 AM time slot once occupied by the talk “Maxwell Show”. Former WKRK “Radio 92.3” program director Dominic “Nard” Nardella filled in on the WNCX morning drive shift between the Maxwell Departure and the Slats Return.

And as our Secondary Editorial Voice(tm) notes, Slats actually preceded “Maxwell” as afternoon drive host at WMMS…

TV EXIT: OMW hears that Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5” is losing reporter Maurielle Lue to a larger market.

We know for sure that she’s headed for Detroit. We have not confirmed the station, but it would appear that she’ll be working for FOX O&O WJBK/2 there..

INCOMING TRAFFIC: Literally, as OMW hears that Raycom Media CBS/MyNet combo WOIO/19-WUAB/43’s “19 Action News” has found a replacement for morning traffic reporter Joy Redmond.

Redmond exited Reserve Square last month for a weeknight news anchor slot at Fox affiliate WDBD “Fox 40” in Jackson, Mississippi.

Her replacement, we’re told, is coming from Ohio…Toledo to be exact.

She’s Ashley Johncola, who parlayed a gig as “The Face” of LIN TV Fox affiliate WUPW/36 “Fox Toledo” into a part-time job as an MMJ (Multi-Media Journalist, aka reporter for us old school types). Johncola is a graduate of NYU, and we’re told she’s worked hard to establish herself in the “Fox Toledo” newsroom.

We do not know if she’ll actually be an employee of 19/43 parent Raycom, or be working for Metro Networks, as Redmond and long-time “Action News” traffic reporter Rick Abell both did…

FAIR WEATHER: And yes, as expected, now-former Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 “Channel 3 News” weather forecaster AJ Colby landed on South Marginal Road…er…Dick Goddard Way.

Colby started Saturday on the weekend editions of “Fox 8 News in the Morning”, where he sits alongside “Fox 8 News” reporter/anchor and OMW reader Mark Zinni.

As we reported earlier, the opening at “Fox 8” came rather suddenly, when newly hired weekend forecaster Amanda Jahn left the station – the former Phoenix TV/radio personality and WJW coming to mutual agreement that it, well, just wasn’t working out.

We know Colby has worked for at least three of the four Cleveland market newsrooms, and in fact, his latest gig with “Fox 8” is a return to WJW. We’re not entirely sure if he was at Reserve Square for any length of time…

AND SOME MORE FOX 8 STUFF: Nothing solid or official yet, but small tidbits.

OMW hears that WJW is hard at work getting ready for its over-air return to UHF channel 31, its over-air location pre-transition.

Here at OMW World Headquarters(tm), the pre-transition “Fox 8” signal via UHF 31 was our strongest signal by far, and the post-transition VHF 8 facility is our weakest signal, by far. (Well, give or take WOIO’s VHF 10 facility, but the OMW World Headquarters is now well served by the station’s new UHF 24 translator out of the Akron antenna farm.)

The return to UHF 31 for WJW will result in a facility very similar to the pre-transition one, so those who had “Fox 8” via digital over-air pickup before the transition should get the signal back again.

Of course, WJW “Fox 8” will still display as “8” on over-air tuners after the UHF 31 facility takes over, thanks to the “PSIP” protocol built into over-air digital TV. You’ll have to rescan your tuner after the move, and watch here for details for when you need to do so.

And of course, the over-air signal does not affect WJW’s extensive cable or satellite carriage…

AND ANOTHER: “Fox 8 News” is looking for a replacement for anchor Stacey Bell, who we’re told will leave the building sometime next month.

We don’t yet have a bead on any outsiders who may be considered, but we hear morning co-anchor Tracy McCool is the odds-on favorite as far as in-house candidates go…