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…

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5 Responses to The Local Media Scorecard

  1. Jeff says:

    I think Russ Mitchell is one of the best things ever to happen to channel 3 news in the last decade or so. This station has been number three in a three-station city (I’m counting only the major network affiliates – channels 3, 5 and 19) for far too long. Hopefully things will improve with Mitchell at the channel 3 weekday anchor desk. I saw him on channel 3 news last night (Sunday, January 12, 2012) and was very favorably impressed with his style of newscasting. Having seen him on CBS News Up to the Minute, I knew exactly what to expect from him at the local level when he arrived in Cleveland. He is the “shot in the arm” channel 3 news desperately needed. It is my hope that Gannett Broadcasting decides to keep him on for more than just a year or two, as he seems to me to be a professional newscaster in the best sense of the word. I will be watching channel 3 news at six and 11 p.m. with interest from now on.

    Good luck, Mr. Mitchell, and welcome to Cleveland.

  2. arthur cell says:

    Why do we go without any News Coverage here in Cleveland on both Tv and Radio. ??
    Why is their coverage in other cities 24hr on certain radio stations like KYW, WCBS, WWJ, A.M. Stations. ??. We are missing T.V. News here also nothing but Info commercials and sports of all kinds on the tube Weekends. Must wait till Monday thru Friday for coverage!! Where are all these high priced News and Weather people on weekends ??

    • re: 24/7 news radio (or TV): Cleveland is by far not a large enough market to support a 24/7 all-news radio station.

      • Jeff says:

        There was an all-news radio station in Cleveland in the early 1970s. The station was WERE-1300. It was affiliated with the National News and Information Service (NNIS), a short-lived all-news network operated by NBC. The NNIS, however, folded later in the decade due to a lack of affiliates, and WERE 1300, as well as all other former NNIS stations, reverted to their original formats (pre-NNIS) or else went with other formats such as talk.

        The NNIS was a good idea at the time, but unfortunately, NBC could not sign up enough affiliates to make it a true national all-news network. The NBC radio network itself folded in 1986, so NNIS could not have returned even if it wanted to; of course, as I said, the fledgling all-news network was in trouble shortly after it was formed, so it really didn’t have a chance from the beginning — the NNIS network probably did not last more than one or two years, if that long.

        Cleveland does have a news radio station of sorts — WTAM 1100. This station claims to be “Cleveland’s only news radio”, but it is not a 24-7 news station as are KYW-AM Philadelphia, WCBS-AM New York, et al. WTAM’s “news” format consists of Fox radio news at the top of each hour, with breaking news bulletins reported as necessary at other times, breaking into talk and other programs except sports. Cleveland’s economy is in bad shape as well, another roadblock to anyone even thinking of starting a true 24-7 all-news radio station in the city. Until or unless the economy here improves and stays well (for want of a better word) soon, a true 24-7 all-news radio station, be it WTAM or any other, is only a dream that may never come true.

  3. Ann V. says:

    Tuning into morning news today – it was like I’d moved to another media market! So weird to see that many new faces at once. It will take a bit of getting used to! And, I really liked that story on Jenn Ryan as well. It was an interesting story that nobody else was pushing.

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