Last Call For 2011

This will be the last regular item until 2012, as we’re going on Holiday Hiatus.

Any major local radio/TV changes will be noted on our social media presence…and a reminder, you don’t even have to be “on” either Twitter or Facebook to find those. Hit this link for our Twitter page, or look at the “OMW on Twitter” section of this very site. The updates are mirrored on both services.

On behalf of the entire Ohio Media Watch staff (OK, your Primary Editorial Voice[tm] and our Secondary Voice, Nathan), we hope you have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a joyous holiday season!

WAVE COMING IN: One reason we’re able to walk away from the blog a little early is that plans have already been announced for Cleveland’s upcoming major radio format change.

On Friday, Akron’s Rubber City Radio Group officially took over WNWV/107.3 Elyria from its long-time owners, Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting. WNWV had been AAA/adult rock “V107.3” (starting briefly as “Boom! 107.3”) since December 2009.

The “Triple A” format was towed away (get it?) at precisely 12 midnight Sunday night going into Monday morning. We dropped in on the signal at 11:59 PM, so we didn’t hear if there was any special sendoff to “V107.3”.

After the legal ID, we heard once-and-future “107.3 The Wave” personality Mark Ribbins give a welcome liner to the station’s “Smooth Jazz Christmas” holiday programming.

And yes, that makes 107.3 roughly the 19th station in the Cleveland market to go Christmas Radio, though with a different take than stations like CBS Radio’s WDOK/102.1 – dubbed “Christmas 102.1” for the holidays – and Clear Channel’s WMJI/105.7. We’re pretty sure there’s a travelers’ information station playing Christmas music somewhere.

The “Smooth Jazz Christmas” programming will end on Wednesday, January 4th, and a banner displaying the “smooth AC” format that’ll debut then now appears on the new Rubber City-owned “107.3 The Wave” website.

We took the liberty of copying the names of some of the artists pictured:

James Blunt, Seal, Anita Baker, Santana, Mindi Abair, Sara Bareilles, Lenny Kravitz, Chris Botti, John Mayer, Fergie

We’ve heard, but have not confirmed, that there will still be some smooth jazz instrumentals in the music mix after January 4th.

Mark Ribbins is obviously confirmed as a new/returning “Wave” personality, and we’ve also heard that Cleveland radio veteran Bobby Thomas is on board as well…though we have yet to confirm which time slots those personalities will occupy.

There should be at least one more local, live weekday personality riding the “Wave”‘s return.

We’ll have much more in our post-holiday return…

SMACKDOWN!: That’s the only word we can use to describe a recent FCC filing in a dispute between two local TV stations. And those gloves? They’re most certainly off.

OMW reported earlier that Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8 filed to move its over air channel, currently at its old analog home at 8, to RF channel 31 – the channel it used digitally before the national transition to digital TV broadcasting.

We then reported that WJW’s former RF channel neighbor, Winston Broadcasting CW affiliate WBNX/55 (RF 30), filed with the FCC in an attempt to block the WJW move back to 31, or at least get coordination with the station if the station gets FCC approval.

(Of course, despite all these channel moves, WBNX continues to display on digital tuners as “55”, and WJW as “8”, thanks to the underlying digital technology.)

In its filing, WBNX took a shot or two about Local TV LLC and WJW…and boy, has the fire been returned, and then some.

WJW has filed its response to the WBNX filing, and if there are any holds left, they sure haven’t been barred.

In its reply (here, follow along in PDF format!), WJW treats WBNX like a misbehaving child that needs to be sent to its room without supper.

Think we’re kidding? Take a look at this sample:

WBNI frankly deserves to be sanctioned for this filing, but the Commission should not waste any more of its time or resources on WBNI’s Comments. Instead, it should grant the Petition without further delay.

WBNX is referred to in the reply as “WBNI”, for corporate name Winston Broadcasting Network, Inc.. WJW is “Community TV”, short for the local corporate arm of Local TV LLC, Community Television of Ohio License, LLC.

WJW’s reply hits the WBNX filing on many fronts, among them, noting the “new interference” to WBNX’s facility from the moved-back WJW facility is under FCC “de minimis” interference guidelines…in other words, small enough to be allowed under the rules.

WJW rolls out a sample of what it says are 775 E-mails it has received from viewers since the June 2009 transition, complaining of difficulties in receiving the RF 8 signal. (Many of the complaints look similar to E-mails we’ve received here at OMW, and for that matter, we’re in the same boat here at OMW World Headquarters.)

And the WJW filing frequently notes that it’s the Cleveland market Fox affiliate, with “58 hours of local news programming every week”. And then, there’s this sarcastic shot across the bow at CW affiliate WBNX:

(WBNX) trumpets its independence, but neglects to mention that it offers viewers zero local news or public affairs programming. Put bluntly, it really matters if viewers throughout the Cleveland market can’t reliably tune into WJW over-the-air; a few WBNX viewers’ inability to watch reruns of The People’s Court and Frasier is considerably less important.

Ouch!

The filing also confirms, officially, what we’ve heard rumored for the past two years…that WJW was unable to obtain an interference waiver from Lima NBC affiliate WLIO/8-once-analog-35 to build out the 30 kW construction permit WJW still holds from the FCC.

And even then, says the WJW filing:

While former station ownership obtained a construction permit to increase power in conjunction with a new directional antenna that would attenuate the signal in the direction of WLIO(TV) and WWCP-TV, Community TV’s analysis of that solution indicates that any viewership gain realized from the power increase would be more than offset by the loss of viewers in the attenuated areas. Some, but not all, of that loss could be offset by UHF translators in the affected areas.

Though the FCC will likely not act on this request by the end of the year (it is, after all, December 19th), the WBNX filing indicates that it believes the approval will happen even with its objections.

And WJW rejects the “work with us” solution offered by WBNX as well:

(WBNX) is free to evaluate such interference itself and take whatever actions it deems appropriate and economic (such as seeking authorization for a small-area fill-in translator), but there is nothing in the Commission’s rules or cases to suggest WJW is required to participate in that process.

Responding to WBNX’s “they’re just trying to save money” argument, WJW’s reply notes that the station is spending $450,000 in rebuilt and backup transmitter equipment, and an additional $10,000 to 12,000 in power costs for the move…and that they can’t make such an investment in equipment if they’re not assured a move to RF 31 is the permanent solution.

We consider that the FCC is likely to side with WJW, though the move to UHF obviously won’t happen by the end of this year…

MORE TV ITEMS: As noted here earlier, Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 has said goodbye to Romona Robinson after a lengthy run as the station’s evening news anchor (or co-anchor).

We haven’t heard much about who replaces her, aside from the already confirmed information that the station has auditioned anchors from outside the market.

We hear rumors that a woman who’s a top 5 market network O&O anchor could be one of those auditioning.

Over at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5, the recent spate of hiring continues with new reporter/MMJ Michael Baldwin incoming from Cablevision’s News 12 Long Island in suburban New York City. (That’s the same operation which recently hired former WJW/8 “Fox 8 News” anchor Stacey Bell.)

Also at 3001 Euclid, Channel 5 launched a year-long “Building Better Neighborhoods” project – to deal with the growing number of vacant homes in area neighborhoods due to the foreclosure crisis.

And if it’s nearly the end of the year, it’s time for TV/multichannel provider disputes.

The biggest locally is between Raycom’s WOIO/19-WUAB/43 and AT&T’s U-verse, with both Raycom stations warning U-verse viewers that they could lose the station if an agreement isn’t reached.

Raycom’s side has a page here, we can’t find any similar page on the U-verse site…

PILOT PASSES AWAY: OMW hears that veteran local TV helicopter pilot Bill Asad has passed away at the age of 61.

For many years, Asad has been at the controls of Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19’s “19 Action News” chopper.

An OMW reader also tells us:

He was a former Marine and Ohio firefighter and a real class act.

According to his obituary in the Plain Dealer, calling hours for Asad will be Tuesday from 4 to 8 PM, at Busch Funeral Home on Ridge Road in Parma…

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4 Responses to Last Call For 2011

  1. Vern Baily says:

    WJW has been reaping the bad results from poor planning on certain people’s part since the digital transition. I wonder if those engineers they had are still around. Other stations seemed to have the foresight to make sure they got the proper permission from the FCC to pump out enough wattage to ensure their signals would reach, and have the right directional equipment. Now, they’re in oops mode and trying to move. In the end, the FCC won’t allow them to jeopardize another station’s established channel and signal, and they’ll have to buy whatever equipment is needed in order to prevent interference and work amicably with their neighbors. Why are they being so cheap about it? I can’t get Fox8 either over the air, but they better not mess with other station’s signals or my wife, son and daughter will breathe fire if they miss their CW shows. Don’t do that to me. I can live without the overabundance of local news events detailing murders in Cleveland anyhow. With most folks getting their daily news and weather from the web, it’s a wonder why some diehard newsy stations still devote so much time to it.

  2. Gary says:

    Can someone PLEASE tell me why Time Warner is the only cable company in Akron? Something shady is going on around here, because they have a monopoly, often have terrible service, and are constantly raising their prices! I’ve lived all over the US, and have never been anywhere (but here) where you could not choose from 2-4 cable providers. It’s called healthy competition, and it’s the American way! I moved here 4 years back, but noticed for the past 25 years (when visiting my Mother here) that they were the only cable providers. This reeks of bad business being done behind closed doors, and someone being “paid off!” The county government, and Akron city council need to look into this! I didn’t just fall off a turnip truck, and I know when something underhanded is happening. This is wrong!

    • Carl says:

      It could be worse, Time Warner has been the only cable provider in Canton for over 40 years. That’s why I went with a dish in the mid 1990’s and never looked back.

  3. Derrick King says:

    Well WKYC has named their new anchor, and it is a big name.

    http://www.ohio.com/news/break-news/cbs-mitchell-joins-wkyc-1.251527

    Veteran CBS News reporter Russ Michell will take over the anchor desk at Sixth and Lakeside.

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