THIS JUST IN: Romona Robinson to “19 Action News”

There’s a TV news bombshell this time…out of Reserve Square.

Raycom Media’s WOIO/19-WUAB/43 “19 Action News” announced just moments ago the hiring of former Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 “Channel 3 News” primary anchor Romona Robinson, who will start at “19 Action News” on February 2nd.

The untold story here…apparently at least one person at Reserve Square is not happy with the hiring, and “not happy” is perhaps an understatement.

The hiring, oddly enough, also returns Robinson to her original Cleveland TV home, WUAB/43. WUAB is now WOIO’s MyNetwork TV sister station, and Romona first made her mark in Cleveland on the station, as the co-anchor of then-independent WUAB’s “The 10 O’Clock News”.

Here’s the official “19 Action News” release, hot off the virtual press and delivered directly into our E-mail box…

———–

ROMONA ROBINSON COMING HOME TO 19 ACTION NEWS

Respected news anchor will anchor afternoon and evening newscasts for Cleveland’s most talked about television station

CLEVELAND, OH January 24, 2012 – Seven time Emmy Award winner Romona Robinson has found a new broadcast home. Ms. Robinson is joining 19 Action News where she will be anchoring afternoon and evening newscasts.

One of the most respected journalists in Northeast Ohio, Romona began her career as an award winning anchor of the 10pm news on WUAB. Her first day on air will be February 2nd.

“Romona Robinson is a perfect fit for 19 Action News.” comments WOIO/WUAB CBS 19 Vice President and General Manager Bill Applegate. “She’s a dynamic personality. Her years of community involvement have earned a special place in the hearts of Clevelanders. We welcome her with open arms.”

Romona adds, “I love this city and what I’ve come to realize, particularly over the last few weeks, is that the people of Northeast Ohio have truly become my family. I can’t put into words how excited I am to join 19 Action News.

They have embraced my journalistic values and my commitment to the community and I can’t wait to get started on this new adventure. There’s no place like home!”

“Romona Robinson is an accomplished journalist that has earned the trust of Clevelanders”, 19 Action News Director Dan Salamone comments. “19 Action News always has the viewer in its best interest, through an ongoing commitment to breaking news and weather, as well as investigative reporting. It’s a perfect format for Romona to continue to do what she does best.”

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Weekend Cleanup

With such a busy week, even the weekend provides us with the opportunity to clean up news from the remainder of the week…

NOLAN RADIO AND THEN SOME: We were mostly playing around last week when we were speculating about the radio future of now-former Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 morning news co-anchor Mark Nolan.

Though that speculation intersected with changes at CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1, now known as “New 102”, it turns out Mark’s return to radio will take place at a different location – not at One Radio Lane, but at 6200 Oak Tree Boulevard.

News started getting out Friday when Clear Channel Cleveland staffers openly congratulated Nolan on Twitter for an unspecified gig in that Independence building… and it didn’t take long for us to uncover what that gig will be.

Mark Nolan takes over the midday shift (10 AM-2 PM) at Clear Channel classic hits WMJI/105.7 “Majic 105.7”, starting February 6th.

Though the outside press release wasn’t due until next week, our friends at Oak Tree recognized the Cat Was Out Of The Bag (between us and a note from the folks at Cleveland Magazine), and issued that release on Friday.

And it reminds readers that despite a long tenure as a weather forecaster and news anchor at WKYC, Nolan has not at all been a stranger to radio:

He has been guest hosting on the station since 1995 and for nearly seven years Nolan’s weather forecasts were broadcasted during the Lanigan & Malone Morning Show. He has worked in a variety of positions, both on-air and in production, with roles throughout Ohio at WNIR and WKDD in Akron and WZKL in Canton. Nolan also spent 18 years on-air at NBC Affiliate WKYC TV. He is a Cleveland native and a graduate of Kent State University.

Nolan will replace Chuck Collier, Cleveland radio legend, who unexpectedly passed away on September 22, 2011. Collier spent nearly 40 years on-air in Cleveland as part of sister station, WGAR, and WMJI since 2005.

“I’m looking forward to sharing ‘Cleveland’s Greatest Hits’ with Northeast Ohio on a daily basis,” said Nolan. “I have a passion for radio and I am honored to join such a great heritage station in my hometown.”

Of course, that part about replacing Chuck Collier needs an asterisk, as the midday shift on WMJI was actually a second voicetracking job to Chuck’s main role as afternoon driver at country WGAR/99.5.

And in that role, Oak Tree has also announced that fill-in Shotgun Taylor will take WGAR’s afternoon drive slot, and will be permanently heard 2-7 PM weekdays.

Another asterisk here, of course, as “Shotgun Taylor” (as even readers of the Cleveland Plain Dealer now know) is the on-air persona of WGAR program director Charley Connolly…who started voicetracking the station’s evening show in April 2010.

The station says long-time WGAR voice Kat Jackson will be now be heard 7 PM to midnight, though it doesn’t say where she’ll be based.

Kat actually worked at WGAR for a number of years, before heading to sister Washington DC market country station WMZQ as its assistant program director/night personality. She left that station in August

PUPPET JOURNALISM: When we heard that the folks at Reserve Square have been using puppets to re-enact portions of the corruption trial of former Cuyahoga County commissioner Jimmy Dimora, the item almost started writing itself.

Yes, Raycom Media’s Cleveland TV news circus, WOIO/19-WUAB/43’s “19 Action News”, had its newest act. And we’re no stranger to chronicling those acts right here in your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

But it’s not quite as simple as that, and “19 Action News” actually has some admirers in the journalistic community for “The Puppet’s Court”…and that’s saying something.

Oh, sure, not everyone’s on board…like associate professor Randy Reeves of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, who tells the Plain Dealer’s John Caniglia:

“It’s entertaining … it’s professionally done, but it’s not news…This is a line I wouldn’t cross. The visual distracts from some pretty serious stuff. Even at the end of the newscast, it’s puppets. I can’t get past that.”

But others make the broader point: in 2012, the federal justice system does not allow cameras or microphones into the courtroom, long after most local jurisdictions have routinely allowed them.

Rubber City Radio VP/information media and long-time OMW reader Ed Esposito makes the point on the website of the Radio-Television Digital News Association:

We should consider the irony that much of the government’s case against Mr. Dimora was built on the same type of technology citizens are denied in seeing justice at work; recorded telephone conversation, video surveillance, the use of computer programs to track transactions and contracts are tools the people’s government (and the defense) have available to present their case. But the tool of the people — the media, through its reporters — cannot use the recordings or actual testimony of those involved because it’s in federal court.

Or as Ed says later:

No free and open society should tolerate someone else pulling the strings otherwise when it comes to the public’s justice system. That is, unless we’re comfortable with the image of Big Bird sending folks to the Big House.

As a local newsie, Esposito is certainly no stranger to the antics at Reserve Square over the years, noting the station’s “aggressive style” in the RTDNA piece.

But he says he has “great respect for the creative vision that uses one of the oldest forms of entertainment (and satire) to not only portray details surrounding one of the biggest public corruption cases to hit Ohio but also make a statement on the federal judiciary’s long-outdated insistence that public understanding of justice is still rooted in the time of Johannes Gutenberg and now the technology employed a thousand years ago by storytellers: puppetry.”

Since it is “19 Action News” we’re talking about here, we’re only surprised that the Puppet Prostitute portrayed in one of the “Puppet Court” segments kept her shirt on…

SPEAKING OF ED: …who’s about to get “Ed’s Corner”, much in the style of another long-time Friend of OMW, WKSU public relations/marketing guru Ann VerWiebe…

Esposito, a veteran Northeast Ohio broadcast journalist, has long had ties with the aforementioned Radio-Television Digital News Association and its educational arm, the Radio-Television Digital News Foundation.

After serving as chairman of both RTDNA and RTDNF, Ed stepped down from direct involvement with the organization…for a while. But he’s back as secretary/treasurer of the RTDNF.

Not that Ed isn’t busy enough, of course, overseeing all news operations for Akron-based Rubber City Radio Group, which owns news/oldies WAKR/1590, rock WONE/97.5 and country WQMX/94.9 in Akron, the news website AkronNewsNow.com, and its latest addition, Cleveland market smooth AC WNWV/107.3 “The Wave”.

The RCRG West Market Street newsroom provides Cleveland news and traffic to “The Wave”, and has recently added its weekly public affairs program “Spectrum” – with a regionally-expanded focus – to the WNWV airwaves.

WNWV itself is temporarily broadcasting from a West Market Street production studio, until making the physical move to a new Independence studio sometime in the spring…

TV CAROUSEL: No, the Carousel of TV Changes hasn’t stopped going around this week.

The latest news on the TV side of things is a word of a new 12 noon co-anchor at Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8’s “Fox 8 News”.

She’s Jennifer Jordan, a New York City TV market veteran most recently seen on CW network affiliate WPIX/11, who’s also been seen on nearly all the other major New York City news operations over the past 10 years.

The New York Daily News had first word of Jordan’s move to Cleveland, and says she’ll start at “Fox 8 News” on January 30th…

TRY, TRY AGAIN: Clear Channel in Cleveland now has a second construction permit for its attempt to mount an FM translator at 99.1.

Long-time OMW readers know that the translator was given the approval to make the move…first from its Lorain-licensed site (W262BN/100.3) to a temporary turn-it-on-for-one-day location in North Ridgeville (W259BI/99.7), to the eventual permanent home for what will apparently become W256BT, the 250 watt 99.1 faciility on the tower of Clear Channel sister station WMJI.

“Not so fast”, the FCC said after issuing the 99.1 construction permit the first time.

That CP was rescinded with a request for more technical documentation, and last week, the newly revised application got another FCC approval.

Though absolutely no information has even been rumored locally, it appears somewhat likely that Clear Channel intends to add 99.1 as a presence on the FM dial for talk WTAM/1100 (“Newsradio WTAM 1100…now on 99.1 FM!”).

Clear Channel has made a number of similar moves recently in other markets, using FM translators to get heritage AM talkers on the FM band with a second signal.

In other markets, the company has blown up underperforming full-power FM stations to provide new FM homes for AM talk formats (Sacramento’s KFBK is the most recent example)… but that’s not an option in Cleveland…

BYE, BYE, MCFLY: A veteran weekend personality at a local country station is heading south.

But it’s not another radio job that has Rubber City Radio country WQMX/94.9 personality George McFly heading for new vistas in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

George’s wife has accepted a new position there with her company, so Saturday, the WQMX personality said “farewell” to his audience, as he’s heading to Arkansas with his family next week.

McFly has certainly had a high profile at the Akron market country powerhouse, and not just on weekends.

George was a regular fill-in for WQMX’s “Wynn & Wilson in the Morning”, and was often called on to work middays, afternoons and nights during the week.

He also served as the videographer and photographer for station events and concerts, and helped the station launch its social media presence.

George McFly tells OMW:

“I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Rubber City Radio Group. To have an owner who supports live and local radio is so awesome.

I need to thank Ken Steel for hiring me and Program Director Sue Wilson for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the success of WQMX.

I will miss my WQMX family and the great listeners who have made me a part of their lives for many years.

Our listeners are one-of-a-kind.. it’s great getting calls from listeners to see how my kids are doing, share things about their life or just to say Hi.

I leave here with so many great memories and hope to one day return to the area. Keep it Real & Keep it Country!”

George can be reached via E-mail, Facebook and Twitter. And in his new Arkansas home market of Fort Smith, McFly hopes to continue his career in country music radio…

The Local Media Scorecard

Yes, as a reader asked, this has indeed been one of the busiest periods of change in Northeast Ohio media…and we’ve been covering that particular topic for some six years and change.

“You can’t tell the players without a scorecard,” so the saying goes, so let’s update the Local Media Scorecard as we write this late on Sunday night…

YES, THERE IS A RUSS: Heading off our scorecard is the debut of Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3’s new evening anchor and managing editor Russ Mitchell, whom you might recognize, possibly, from his 20 year tenure at a little operation known as CBS News.

And it was hard for us not to make the direct comparison between Mitchell’s most recent role – as anchor of the weekend editions of “The CBS Evening News” – to his Sunday night debut on “Channel 3 News”.

As we’ve noted before, Sunday nights are important to local TV stations, and you’ll often see the “weekday” anchor team…especially after ratings grabbing events like NBC’s “Golden Globes” coverage this weekend.

There was some national and international news in Russ Mitchell’s Sunday night mix.

After news of a local apartment building fire, the newscast turned to an update on that grounded Italian cruise ship, and late word that Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is expected to announce his departure from the race on Monday.

That provided the perfect segue to a live, on set exchange between Mitchell, a veteran of covering national political news, and WKYC’s Tom Beres, a veteran of covering local political news.

What could be the greater role for Mitchell at 13th and Lakeside is that of managing editor, with direct input at very least into the shape of his own newscasts (6 and 11 PM weeknights), and providing journalistic direction to the entire operation.

With that in mind, here’s audio of an interview with Mitchell – conducted last week by Ed Esposito, VP/information media for Akron’s Rubber City Radio Group…home of oldies/news WAKR/1590, rock WONE/97.5, country WQMX/94.9, and recent Cleveland market addition smooth AC WNWV/107.3 “The Wave”.

Oh, and of course, Ed is a long time reader of your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

Esposito’s interview with Mitchell was conducted immediately following his appearance on the WAKR “Ray Horner Morning Show”.

And yes, as seen in this picture provided by Esposito, the newly minted WKYC anchor knows the way to Akron now, as he was there in person.

Here’s Mitchell in WAKR’s West Market Street studio, with “Ray Horner Morning Show” news anchor Lindsay McCoy, and Ed…

OTHER CHANGES: It’s hard to escape some of the other changes in Cleveland TV news this coming week. Some of them were even referenced during Mitchell’s first WKYC newscast on Sunday night.

Take, for example, a story by Erin Kennedy, the station’s new morning co-anchor.

Noting that she’d have more Monday on “Channel 3 News Today”, a promo for the newly revamped morning show appeared not long after…featuring Kennedy, new morning co-anchor Chris Tye, and the rest of the morning show crew.

And then, when WKYC sports director Jim Donovan was finished with his sportscast, it was noted that he begins his new tour of duty as “Channel 3 News at 7” news co-anchor on Monday. Donovan joked that “I’ll change my first name to James” as a news anchor. As noted earlier, Donovan will also remain as WKYC’s sports director.

With all the changes in January alone, is it any wonder viewers may actually be looking for a Cleveland TV news scorecard?

In addition to all the noted changes at WKYC, Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s “NewsChannel 5” has brought on two new morning co-anchors and an 11 PM co-anchor.

Local TV LLC’s Fox affiliate, WJW/8 “Fox 8 News”, lost its long-time evening co-anchor to a family move, replacing her with its long-time morning co-anchor, and replacing her with the morning show’s traffic reporter/midday show co-host.

And stations have brought on new reporters…er…multimedia journalists.

Isn’t it amazing that Raycom Media’s “19 Action News” (CBS affiliate WOIO/19-MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB/43) is the model of on-air stability in 2012?

And even Reserve Square has added a new morning traffic reporter.

Ashley Johncola’s the former “Face of Fox Toledo” at WUPW/36 in that market, and her old Toledo station is undergoing changes itself, as LIN TV announced its sale to American Spirit Media recently…an operator that is, according to FCC filings, mounting a “Shared Services Agreement” that will end up turning over news operations to Raycom CBS affiliate WTOL/11.

The Toledo Blade has more.

We generally don’t cover Toledo these days, but it sounds a lot to us like what Youngstown ABC affiliate WYTV/33 went through when it was sold to Parkin Broadcasting, with operations ending up at the Sunset Boulevard studios of New Vision CBS affiliate WKBN/27-Fox affiliate WYFX-now-LD/now-19.

If we have readers at “Fox Toledo”, a quick search on “Parkin” in our archives will give you an idea of the likely future. It’s not a pretty picture, and shows a lot of job losses and consolidation…

YOUNGSTOWN DISH DEAL REACHED: Speaking of the New Vision stations, a last minute deal avoided the removal of WKBN, WYTV and WYFX from Dish Network late Sunday night.

Quoting a story on WKBN.com:

New Vision Television (NVT) and the Dish Network have reached an agreement in principle, averting the removal of WKBN-TV, WYTV, and FOX Youngstown, from the satellite provider’s channel lineup starting Monday.

The item says it’ll be a three year deal.

Of course, with New Vision owning or controlling three out of Youngstown’s four commercial TV stations, the only commercial station left on Dish Network without a deal would have been Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21… alongside Western Reserve PBS’ Youngstown market outlet, WNEO/45…

AND ONE RADIO NOTE: In Sunday night’s news mix at WKYC was a story by anchor and Akron bureau chief Eric Mansfield.

It’s a story we really should have noted earlier, but it ends up with a happy ending for one Akron radio personality who has literally been unable to do her job after a battle with bronchitis.

That’s because Clear Channel hot AC WKDD/98.1 morning co-host Jenn Ryan has basically had no voice the past few weeks…certainly no voice suited for someone who makes her living talking in front of a microphone.

Eric Mansfield’s story notes that Ryan got vocal cord treatment at the Cleveland Clinic…in effect, literally moving her vocal cords back into place. Coughing during Ryan’s bout with bronchitis apparently dislodged what is very vital for a radio personality.

Mansfield – who recently guest co-hosted on the WKDD morning show with Keith Kennedy – notes that Ryan is expected to be back on the air later this week, assuming she gets the OK from her doctor.

And a note to the headline writer on WKYC.com – we’re pretty sure the Clear Channel facilities on Freedom Avenue aren’t in “Cleveland”…and we know that Eric Mansfield himself very much knows the difference.

In the interview with Ed Esposito, Mitchell notes Mansfield as a good example of the kind of anchor who brings reporting skills to the TV news anchor desk…

A Week of Bombshells

There are so many new media news items this week, you’d think your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) was on vacation in a far off land. (That’s our standard statement and rule here at OMW – if we leave town, all heck breaks loose.)

We have more big news from the local TV and radio scenes. We’ll start with radio, since it’s the most recent item…

YOUNGING UP: It would appear that the major changes at CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 “New 102” are nearly complete.

So, if you’re an AC warhorse like WDOK, and you’re tasked with “younging up” the aging station…and you’ve already started tweaking the music mix…what would be a good move in that direction?

Say, why not move the morning co-host at your younger-skewing sister station, Hot AC WQAL/104.1 “Q104”, over to the 102 side?

That’s exactly what they’ve done at WDOK, as Jen Toohey – until now the co-host of Q104’s “Toohey and Fee” – moves to the other studio at One Radio Lane, paired up with incumbent WDOK, er, “New 102” host Trapper Jack Elliot and “infoman” Jim McIntyre.

Quoting a station press release:

“A great adventure lies ahead for our new show. To work with Trapper and Jim and be part of the New 102 is so exciting – I can’t wait to get started,” states Toohey.

Toohey comes from sister station Q104 where she co-hosted the “Toohey and Fee Show”. Trapper & Toohey will hit the airwaves from 5:00-10:00AM weekdays, beginning Monday, January 16 and will be heard on-air, streaming online at http://www.new102.com and through the Radio.com app on mobile devices.

Toohey has been on maternity leave from Q104. When she returns to One Radio Lane, let’s hope she walks in the right studio door.

The timing of the announcement is quite, umm, interesting, considering that it was only Monday that co-host Terry Moir announced her departure from the seat across from Trapper Jack, stating that it was due to the desire to cut down her two-job workload and to spend more time with her family.

As far as the business of “New 102″‘s music tweaking, here’s more from the station’s release:

WDOK 102.1 FM is now “The New 102,” Cleveland’s station for AC hits.

“The New 102 means Better Music and more of it. Artists you love like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Adele and Taylor Swift can now be heard along with the best songs from the 80s, 90s and 2000s,” explains Program Director Dave Popovich. “More music means 20 songs in a row during the work day.”

But they aren’t done at One Radio Lane.

First of all, who replaces Toohey alongside Allan Fee on Q104?

Fee announced on his own show on Wednesday morning Toohey’s departure to the other half of CBS Radio Female Audience division, noting that “their show is shorter” and “more attuned to her new baby lifestyle”.

There’s no word of “(Whoever) & Fee” for now. Katherine Boyd has been filling in for Toohey on Q104, but there’s no word if she’s up for the permanent gig. Fee said Wednesday that they’ll have more information next week.

Second, how long is “The New 102” going to last as a station name?

We still expect the station to install a national CBS brand, perhaps the much rumored “Fresh 102”, at some point in the near future.

And third, what “live and local” show will replace the syndicated “Delilah” in evenings?

We happen to know one of “Delilah”‘s biggest Northeast Ohio fans…and we’re shocked that this woman hasn’t called out the Ohio State Highway Patrol looking for the missing Seattle-based host…

THE TV BOMBSHELLS: The anchor chairs continue to spin at Cleveland TV stations.

As expected, morning “SkyFox” traffic reporter Kristi Capel is indeed coming out of the helicopter at Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8” and onto the news set, as the new morning co-anchor at “Fox 8 News in the Morning”.

She replaces Tracey McCool, who moved to the evening editions of “Fox 8 News”, replacing Stacey Bell, who moved to New Jersey to be with her professional football coach husband.

Quoting WJW’s release:

“Kristi has been a part of the winning team in the morning with SkyFox traffic and now her role is expanding,” said WJW President and General Manager Greg Easterly. “Her engaging personality adds to and compliments our six-plus hours of local programming in the morning.”

The “Fox 8” news item also clarifies that Kristi Capel will continue to be seen on the 10 AM show “New Day Cleveland”, where she’ll maintain an as-of-yet unspecified role.

There had been rumors of another traffic anchor coming over to Dick Goddard Way, but those rumors don’t seem to have much to support them for now. For the time being, at least, Rob Tabor is filling in doing “SkyFox Traffic”, though we have no idea if he’s in the helicopter or on the phone from Detroit…

The other existing “Fox 8 News in the Morning” players are unchanged: anchors Wayne Dawson and Stefani Schaefer, “Kickin’ It With Kenny” field reporter Kenny Crumpton, reporter Todd Meany and weather anchor Scott Sabol…

TV BOMBSHELL TWO: With Chris Tye heading to mornings as the new co-anchor of Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3’s morning news program, the question was asked: What about the 7 PM show he’s been co-anchoring with Robin Swoboda?

And we didn’t see the answer coming.

“Channel 3 News” sports director Jim Donovan joins Swoboda, as a news co-anchor, starting next week. And no, he’s not giving up the sports desk.

From our blogging colleague Frank Macek’s “Director’s Cut” blog”:

“Jimmy is more than sports, he’s a great storyteller and an astute interviewer,” stated Brooke Spectorsky, President and General Manager of WKYC. “Channel 3 viewers across the region love his quick wit and passion for his work.”

“Now it’s time for Jim to bring all that energy to a wider range of subjects,” remarked News Director Rita Andolsen. “Jim has always been a news junkie, now he’ll have the chance to expound on that knowledge and cover a lot of big issues facing Northeast Ohio.”

“I’m happy to take on a new challenge,” added Donovan. “We’re going to do some interesting and different things with the 7pm show, and I look forward to working on some very special projects.”

As noted, Donovan will continue to anchor sports at 6 and 11 PM.

And, as far as we know, continue his role as the radio voice of the Cleveland Browns…a job he won’t have to do again until late summer, since the local NFL team stinks on ice and is not in the playoffs, again…

Two TV Notes

And from the world of local TV on this Tuesday…

MORNING GLITCH: The world of morning TV news has quickly become a hotly competitive landscape.

From the days where congenial “Today in Cleveland” hosts Tom Haley and Del Donahoo held forth on a folksy kitchen set on Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3, the playing field has turned morning news into a multi-hour, multi-anchor extravaganza at all four local TV news operations.

To say “the stakes are high” in local TV morning news would be an understatement. Two local stations are in the process of retooling those shows, which we reported below.

Today, Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8 came to that battle…with the syndicated gossip show “TMZ”?

No, the substitution of “TMZ” for the last part of the highly-rated 8 AM hour of “Fox 8 News in the Morning” – an act that’s pretty much the definition of TV station insanity – was not deliberate.

The “Fox 8” computer systems that run the production of “Fox 8 News in the Morning” failed, and in 2012, you can’t run a complex TV news show without computers in most cases.

While rebooting the ailing system, WJW kept viewers informed about the tech glitch with a prominent, red-colored crawl over “TMZ”, and via Facebook and Twitter from the station’s account and from its morning anchors, notably weather anchor Scott Sabol and news reporter Todd Meany.

That’s a far cry from “WKRP in Cincinnati” news director Les Nessman confidently informing program director Andy Travis that he’d made the station’s off-air status the top story on a newscast no one heard.

We imagine the decision to keep the station on the air with “TMZ” was made at the very last minute, though we’d have gone with a less controversial choice like repeats of “New Day Cleveland” (with co-host Kristi Capel from “Fox 8 News in the Morning”), if possible.

Assured that the computer systems would likely behave, “Fox 8 News in the Morning” resumed at 9 AM. After a glitch or two…the rest of the show went off without a hitch.

Why is this worthy of such treatment here on the Mighty Blog(tm) this morning?

See our opening lines here.

There is a LOT of money attached to morning TV news these days. There’s a reason shows extend from 4:30 AM to as late as 10 AM (for “Fox 8 News”) these days.

As a noted bank robber supposedly said when asked why he robbed banks…”that’s where the money is”.

And while the folks at Dick Goddard Way were crossing their fingers and hoping the computer systems would return to normal, they were hoping that folks wouldn’t find the other morning news options on the TV dial…though channels 3, 5 and 19 were limited in local news updates due to the presence of the network morning shows…

NEOTROPOLIS: Western Reserve PBS’ business-oriented show, “NEOtropolis”, is getting another overhaul.

The show is getting the third host in its three year history, Luke Frazier, and a new time slot, Tuesday nights at 9 PM on the main Western Reserve PBS stations, WNEO/45.1 Alliance and WEAO/49.1 Akron. It’s generally been seen in some combination with the local public affairs roundtable “NewsNite” (nee’ “NewsNight Akron”) on Friday evenings.

According to a Western Reserve PBS press release helpfully provided to us by station OMW Handler Diane Steinert (we’re sure she has a better title than that):

The third season of NEOtropolis has been re-envisioned with a broader content scope, focused on helping Northeast Ohioans make sense of the forces of change that impact our lives. The series will continue to explore the region, but the net is widened.

The show’s focus will be on changes including technology, globalization and diversity.

Host Luke Frazier is, according to the station release, “an award-winning public radio reporter and producer who currently produces and co-hosts Civic Commons Radio, a weekly public affairs program.”

Social media expert Kathleen Colan, who we’re pretty sure is a follower of the OMW Twitter presence, will report on “social media feedback and trends” as part of an expanded social media presence on “NEOtropolis”, which will stream live at not only the show’s website, but on Facebook.

“NEOtropolis” will get an early Saturday repeat at 3:30 PM on 45.1/49.1, and will also air on the Western Reserve Public Media “Fusion” subchannel 45.2/49.2 Thursdays at 10:30 PM. and Saturdays at 5 PM….

The Other Stuff

As promised, a few hours late…let’s go through the other stuff not connected (mostly) with the rebranding of CBS Radio AC (we think it still is) WDOK/102.1, now known to the world as “New 102”. For now…

THAT OTHER CONTRACT: The renewal of the contract of WDOK..er…”New 102″‘s morning man Trapper Jack Elliot became a public item, when Elliot told the Plain Dealer’s Chuck Yarborough late last week that the 2 year deal was sitting there, unsigned.

When he came back to the 102.1 airwaves on Monday, Trapper Jack informed listeners that the contract in question was signed.

The contract negotiation process for Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7 morning man Shane “Rover” French wasn’t quite as public, though the host of “Rover’s Morning Glory” was stoking the fire with hints like this on his Twitter account:

Bad news. Just got call from Clear Channel. They won’t let us back on air until contract is resolved. Hopefully soon. #AnyPartiesNextWeek?

Despite a following tweet. in which Rover said he believed “it will get done”, that sent the Rover Army into overdrive, and launched them into our E-mail box and our own Twitter account, looking for answers.

And, looking for them now. And, not happy when we said we didn’t know. (We didn’t know, honest.)

We brought a lot of this on ourselves, as we’ve said before.

When Rover and his merry band of morning yakkers left CBS Radio (then-alt-rock WKRK/92.3) and eventually landed at Clear Channel’s WMMS, we had everything but their lunch menus.

The folks at Oak Tree have learned since then…this time, contract negotiations between the Rover camp and Clear Channel were locked tighter than, well, any drum that’s locked tight.

In the end, it’s a win for Mr. French and the sub-Rovers, if you believe the host himself on Tuesday’s show…where he was touting a new 5 year deal that will keep him in the Land of Oak Trees until 2017.

Whew. Maybe we won’t have to hear plaintive cries of “IS ROVER LEAVING??!!? WHERE IS HE?!” for 5 years. (And yes, that’s a near exact reproduction of one E-mail we received.)

And no, we have no idea who “Jeffrey” is, or where he went. We took a quick look at the Rover Radio website, and saw no reference to him anywhere, including in the show’s cast list menu.

We have nothing against Rover, Duji and the gang. We quite frankly admire the fact that they’ve been able to whip the show’s fanbase into a frenzy, worried that the show is about to end/move/change. “Rover’s Morning Glory” has a large, and devoted, following.

It is the kind of connection between show and fan base that every radio effort dreams of. (And WDOK’s Trapper Jack got a taste of that over the past week as well.)

But we wouldn’t mind if if that fanbase developed a little patience, particularly when the host himself said at the outset that he believed a deal would get done, and told listeners/Twitter followers not to panic…

EXIT TO MONTREAL: CBS Radio hot AC WQAL/104.1 “Q104” afternoon personality “Heather B” is headed back to Montreal.

Heather Backman came to Q104 from Montreal’s “Virgin Radio”, and her return will be to that city’s CHOM as morning co-host, according to an article in the city’s English language daily, the Montreal Gazette…

MORNING TV PARADE: Up first in the Parade of Revamped Morning TV News Shows in Cleveland…NewsChannel 5.

The “Good Morning Cleveland” float at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 early Monday was handled by new co-anchors Mike Dunston – in from Orlando’s Fox affiliate WOFL/35 “Fox 35” – and Macie (McInnis) Jepson – former “Fox 8 News”ie from the 1990s.

The duo joined existing “GMC” players Christine Ferrera (weather) and Alicia Roberts (traffic) for their first show.

Outgoing at 3001 Euclid is reporter Dan Haggarty, and incoming is new MMJ Shay Harris, who’s anchoring the new Saturday “Good Morning Cleveland” and joining MMJ Josh Boose other mornings during the week (presumably with one day off to account for Saturdays).

Shay shares Orlando Fox affiliate WOFL/35 on her resume with new “GMC” anchor Mike Dunston, though we don’t know if they worked alongside each other.

The new TV News Morning Parade continues next Monday, when WKYC/3 anchor Chris Tye moves from 7 PM to mornings to replace outgoing anchor and Channel 3 News veteran Mark Nolan.

Who is going to…not anywhere we know of, yet, radio or TV. (Sorry again, Mark!)

PIECING A STATION BACK TOGETHER: When you move a radio station, sometimes the complexity of a move isn’t obvious to the public.

That’s what’s been happening at Rubber City Radio smooth AC WNWV/107.3 Elyria “The Wave”, with studios that left that city of license last week when Rubber City bought the station from previous owner Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting.

Rubber City plans new studios for “The Wave” in the heart of the Independence Media Gulch – we’ve heard on Rockside Road not far from I-77, making 107.3 neighbors with other Cleveland broadcasters including Clear Channel and Salem.

But until that’s all set up, WNWV has to live somewhere…since the sales agreement with ELB specified that it couldn’t stay in that company’s Elyria facility. (We don’t blame the ELB folks…they continue to run talk WEOL/930 there.)

Thus, the temporary home for “107.3 The Wave”‘s reincarnation is a studio at the Akron Radio Center on West Market Street, just across the hall from country powerhouse WQMX/94.9…and therein lies the rest of this item.

After all, in the modern age of radio, it wasn’t just a broadcast signal that had to be moved…and will be moved again, when 107.3 scoots north to Independence.

The move of analog 107.3 meant the temporary end of not only the station’s HD signal, but its streaming audio feed…but at this writing, both have returned.

Now, we’re not quite in the range of 107.3’s digital HD Radio signal, so we don’t know if its HD3 carrier is still sending out the all-classical HD channel from Kent State University’s WKSU/89.7 to the western reaches of the Cleveland market.

The deal was struck with previous owner Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting. WNWV’s HD2 feed is “Wave Classics”, a smooth jazz-only feed also found online

Until the move to Independence, “The Wave” continues to maintain Cleveland sales offices on Center Ridge Road in Rocky River…

RADIO CHANGES IN THE VALLEY: OMW already told you that Whiplash Radio standards WHTX/1570 Warren “Fabulous 1570” LMA operator Jim Davison was bringing aboard partner Laurel Taylor to run the station, and the pair has added daytime sister station WYCL/1540 Niles to their oversight.

After launching a simulcast with WHTX’s standards format, WYCL has moved back in a talk direction.

“Fabulous 1570” morning man Gary Rhamy will continue simulcasting his program on both stations, now 7-11 AM weekdays.

After 11 AM when standards continue on WHTX, WYCL will be all talk, dubbing itself “Valley Talk 1540”.

King of Youngstown Brokered Talk Radio Louie b. Free nudges his program an hour later, and will talk on “Valley Talk 1540” from 11 AM to 3 PM. He’ll be followed by a new, local afternoon talk show hosted by Ralph Bellamy.

Free is now also listed as Public Affairs Director of both Whiplash stations, hosting a one-hour “Valley Talk Public Affairs” show simulcast on both WYCL and WHTX Saturdays at 8 AM.

And what do you know…local political figure Don Hanni III makes his return to talk radio on WYCL. For the outset, he’ll be heard Saturdays from noon to 4 PM, but Hanni’s “The New Talk of the Town” will also air weekday evenings in the summer…when WYCL’s daytime broadcast hours allow.

And it’s really not all that “New”, Hanni’s show, that is. (Well, we’re sure he’ll have new topics.) It’s not even his first shot at talk radio in the above-1500 range on the Mahoning Valley AM dial, or even his first usage of that show name.

From sister station WHTX’s history page, in a passage also seen on Wikipedia:

In 2005, WANR picked up a liberal talk format, becoming the Youngstown/Warren area affiliate of the Air America Radio network. It also broadcast a local talk radio program called The New Talk of the Town, hosted by local political figure Don Hanni III. The liberal talk format was operated by Hanni and associates under a local marketing agreement, but would be cancelled weeks after its’ launch after a dispute between WANR owner Beacon Broadcasting and Hanni.

(Conflict of interest alert, sort of: OMW Secondary Editorial Voice[tm] Nathan Obral is the webmaster for the Whiplash stations, including WYCL, WHTX and Corry PA-based WHYP. He didn’t write or contribute to this item, tho.)

WYCL is adding “Smooth Central Jazz” with Dennis Vaughn weekend afternoons, and we assume those “To Be Announced” slots on the 1540 schedule will bounce back to a WHTX simulcast until filled.

And the Whiplash stations have signed another one year deal to carry broadcasts of both the Mahoning Valley Scrappers minor league baseball team based in Niles, and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

WHTX is the primary home for both teams, but game conflicts would result in the overflow game on WYCL when possible…

WDOK Is Dead, Long Live The New 102?

CBS Radio Cleveland AC WDOK/102.1 unveiled the first part of its new formula for winning this morning: a new name, a returned morning show (mostly), and frequent mentions of Ohio Media Watch!

OK, so we’re kidding about that last part, but morning show hosts Trapper Jack Elliot, Terry Moir and Jim McIntyre had a lot of fun this morning with us, them on the air, us on Twitter, as they were pretty open with the changes that have taken place at One Radio Lane since last week.

For one, “WDOK” only exists as on the station at legal ID time now…oh, and on a very small part of the station’s new logo as, you guessed it, “New 102”.

As noted, “The Trapper Jack Morning Show” returned with all three regular cast members – well, for this week, at least.

For the “big announcement” the show teased for 8 AM, we found out that co-host Terry Moir is leaving the station.

Something about, well, having two full-time jobs that demand more attention from her these days…while on the WDOK morning show these past 4 years, Moir has also kept her job as Director of Programming at Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3.

Add to that being the mother of her two children, the youngest about to turn 16, and something had to give…and it was WDOK, er, “New 102” that had to give. “Two children and two (station) rebuilds, that’s too many,” Moir said.

And since we’re never really fully awake before 9 AM, we apologize for the Twitter and Facebook speculation that a soon-to-be-former TV news anchor may have been joining the station.

That speculation was fueled in part by an incorrect tip by a usually reliable OMW source, who had told us that Channel 3 News morning anchor Mark Nolan had met with WDOK program director Dave Popovich. Not recently, we hear.

Add that to the fact that Chris Tye takes over the WKYC morning anchor slot on Monday, and our computer was a bit overloaded with speculation that was not accurate.

And of course, as a member of management at WKYC, this is also on Moir’s other work plate.

See, when we’re wrong, we fall on our sword with the best of ’em. We will note that even on our Twitter account, we said rather clearly that we had heard neither rumor nor confirmation of such a move.

We will note that Nolan will be off the air at 13th and Lakeside on Friday, and already expressed an interest in “short term radio work”. We’ll see what form that takes.

New on the station formerly known/known only at legal ID time as WDOK: The “New 102” name, complete with “Cleveland’s New 102!” jingles…the exit of Moir from the morning show…and unspecified “live and local” programming.

We’re not sure what shape that takes after Trapper Jack and Jim McIntyre sign off the air this morning. (And Terry Moir, who will wrap up her presence on the show at the end of the week.)

We do know that Trapper Jack continually promised “live and local” programming to replace the syndicated “Delilah” show in evenings…a show WD..er…”The New 102″ dumped in last week’s changes.

Elliot was clearly happy with that change, at least on the air, and clearly unhappy with the station’s non-renewal of the contract of station icon Nancy Alden…playing “villain” music when talking about management’s decision to send the 20-plus year WDOK vet away.

Trapper Jack also confirmed that the station will use the new “new102.com” web address that we talked about last week…a domain registration first uncovered by Lance Venta at RadioInsight. (It’s not working for us, but sometimes, it takes those changes a day or two to distribute along the name servers on the Internet.)

The format?

Well, some sort of adult contemporary as far as we can tell, though we’re not really good enough with music formats to spot what “tweaking” they’ve done with the music mix on “New 102”. (Follow that link at Yes.com to see what “New 102” is playing now, and make your own observations.)

But the “we’re not changing our format” mantra that’s been coming out of One Radio Lane this past week?

We’ve never, ever said there would be a wholesale change of format. No country to go after WGAR, no alt-rock to replace “Radio 92.3” (now sports “92.3 The Fan”), and no AAA to replace “V107.3” (now smooth AC WNWV/107.3 “The Wave”).

It was always going to be an adjustment…likely dropping older songs off the playlist, adding newer ones, then eventually, nudging sister hot AC WQAL/104.1 gently out of its way by adding younger songs there, too. We have said exactly that all this time.

We’ll leave it to the music playlist analysts to tell you how much “younger” the “New 102” will go, or any related adjustments that’ll be made on Q104.

What about “Fresh 102”? Is that rumor dead, yet? Does our Secondary Editorial Voice(tm) need to eat a strawberry felt beret?

Maybe not.

While tweeting that maybe the station needed to change its Twitter handle from @WDOK to @TheNew102, we noticed that there’s actually a very modest, new @TheNew102 Twitter handle out there…and it’s been out there a few days.

Here are the only four tweets from that account, newest to oldest, as we write this item:

the NEW 102 @theNew102
It’s almost time. #new102 #fresh102 #wdok
10 hours ago

the NEW 102 @theNew102
Ahhhh, so…fresh.
2 days ago

the NEW 102 @theNew102
Get ready…for something new…on 102!
5 days ago

the NEW 102 @theNew102
Coming Soon
5 days ago

Now, the folks at One Radio Lane are clearly aware of us (see this morning), and someone either inside or outside the building could well have planted this Twitter account to mess with our heads…but we’re not sure of anything at this point.

We are sure that Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7 morning doggie Shane “Rover” French is back in the building with his “Rover’s Morning Glory” at Oak Tree, with a new multi-year deal (according to him) in hand…reportedly through 2017.

We’ll get to that, and other changes on both radio and TV, later today…but we gotta go…