The Storm Rides Out

On a day seeing Northeast Ohio pelted with thunderstorms (and some lost power or cable TV service), let’s take advantage of a calm period to update some items we’ve been piling up for the past day or more.

But nearly all of the below items have previously been announced on our social media presence…

THE END OF ONN: Ohio’s only regional cable TV news operation will be no more as of August 31st.

The Ohio News Network, an arm of the Dispatch operation in Columbus, announced Wednesday afternoon that its final day on the air will be the last day of August.

More from, well, the soon-to-be-shuttered network’s website:

“We launched our 24 hour statewide network in 1997 and have focused on bringing viewers coverage of Ohio news, weather, sports and politics in the most professional manner possible. Changing news consumer habits is the primary contributor to us making this most difficult decision. We thank viewers for the support of ONN over the past 15 years.”

The Columbus Dispatch’s Tim Feran writes on the end of ONN in the newspaper co-owned with the network, noting that the ONN Radio operation will not be affected.

One clue to a major problem for ONN could be right at the top of the ONN website, where some of the network’s major cable providers are listed along with the ONN channel number on those systems:

Time Warner Channel 362 AT&T U-Verse Channel 233 WOW! Channel 187 Insight Channel 58

ONN started on the former Adelphia system in the Cleveland area on analog channel 70.

After Time Warner Cable took over that system, ONN was bumped into the 100s, digital cable-wise, and eventually landed in the “digital simulcast” news tier alongside the other news networks in the 300s.

But ONN was nowhere to be found near the primary home of those networks, analog cable channels in the 30s…and we’re betting even digital cable subscribers still punch up the analog numbers for networks with no HD simulcast.

ONN, of course, is not available at all on either Dish Network or DirecTV…and never has been on either satellite provider.

In essence, especially outside Columbus – Dispatch’s home market and home of the company’s dominant CBS affiliate, WBNS/10 – ONN was a low-profile cable channel…something you can’t afford to be as a regional operation.

Then, there’s the the fact that Ohio is very separated geographically.

People in the Cleveland TV market generally don’t care about the day-to-day news in Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton or other markets.

People in the Cincinnati TV market generally feel the same way about Northeast Ohio’s daily happenings.

There are exceptions, such as major stories of statewide interest, or stories which affect more than one part of the state.

ONN’s greatest strength and highest profile was its use of bureau reporters at affiliate stations. Here in Northeast Ohio, that reporter has been ONN’s Cristin Severance, based at 3001 Euclid Avenue at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5″‘s newsroom.

“NewsChannel 5” has long used reports from Severance and her ONN predecessors to beef up local news coverage. But at this point, it’s not known if WEWS will bring Cristin under its own wing after August 31st as a local reporter…or if another station will take advantage of her reporting skills…

TO CHICAGO: It had been rumored for awhile, and announced on a Facebook page, but it’s now official…former Cleveland radio host Maxwell is about to start a morning drive gig in Chicago.

Chicago media beat dean Robert Feder has more in his column on the TimeOut Chicago website:

Jim Richards, operations manager of Merlin Media classic rock WLUP-FM (97.9), coolly confirmed Wednesday that Maxwell, just in from Cleveland, will debut from 5:30 to 8:30am Monday on the Loop.

“Coolly” likely refers to Richards’ quote to Feder, saying “he’s not being advertised as the new morning man”.

To that end, Maxwell writes on his Facebook page that he’ll be “playing a ton of music”, so he’s basically not launching a “talk show” there.

And as such, not going along to Chicago for the ride are his talk radio sidekicks in Cleveland (Stansbury, “Chunk” and the like), who were along for his long stint in afternoon drive on Clear Channel talk/rock WMMS/100.7, and his blink-or-you’d-miss-it stint in morning drive at CBS Radio classic rock WNCX/98.5.

And of course, WMMS replaced Maxwell with Alan Cox, whose last gig was mornings at Chicago alt-rocker WKQX/101.1 “Q101”. Cox’s show on WMMS quickly became a ratings winner.

To confuse you even more, the original “Q101” became all-news “FM News 101.1”, and just recently flipped to adult hits as “i101”. “i101” and “The Loop” are sister stations, first under Emmis, and now under Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media.

And to end this mess, Maxwell has actually been already voicetracking for yet another Merlin Media station in Chicago, the new home of the “Q” alt-rock format, WKQX-LP/6-FM 87.7 “Q87.7”, where we’re told he uses the on-air name of “Slater”.

(Merlin, of course, LMAs the audio signal of WKQX-LP from Venture Technologies, which owns WLFM-LP/6-FM 87.7 here in Cleveland, prepping for a launch as AAA-formatted radio station “87.7 Clevelanders Rock”. And, again, WLFM-LP are calls moved to Cleveland from the Chicago station. There, we think we’re done.)

We don’t know when the radio personality known as Maxwell and the radio executive known as Randy Michaels crossed paths first…we believe the former Cleveland radio host worked under Randy’s domain at Clear Channel Radio at some point in his career. Michaels left Clear Channel before Maxwell started at WMMS.

Maxwell was cruising along at WMMS until contract renewal time, where we’re told he was basically asking for similar money to what morning driver Shane “Rover” French got to move to the station.

WMMS held its ground, and moved on…eventually bringing “The Alan Cox Show” to the station, keeping the afternoon drive talk component to its so-called “man cave” male-targeted mix…

SUIT SETTLED: The legal wrangling is finally over between D.A. Peterson Canton market top 40 outlet WDJQ/92.5 “Q92” and its former morning hosts, Pat DeLuca and Charlotte DiFranco.

And in the end, it looks like a win for the former “Q92” morning stars, and a “moving on” for the station.

The Canton Repository wraps it up:

Former radio personalities Pat DeLuca and Charlotte DiFranco can keep streaming their Internet show, and their former employer must pay them unused vacation time.

The newspaper reports that it’s a victory for the pair, which got the OK earlier to continue the Internet show despite a non-compete contract provision covering a radius 60 miles from the station near Alliance, but, according to Stark County judge Charles E. Brown Jr., not covering a non-terrestrial radio show on the Internet.

The Repository article says DeLuca and DiFranco will get their unpaid vacation time…apparently when “Q92” receives past broadcast audio that both sides agreed the pair will not use.

The Canton market top 40 outlet replaced “The DeLuca Show” with what is now known as “The Nikolina & Jeremiah Morning Show”…

FOX 8 AKRON: We now know, as we tipped you first on social media Wednesday afternoon, where Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8 News” will hang its bureau hat in Summit County.

After abandoning its nearly 12 year home at “Studio 8” at Summit Mall, “Fox 8 News” is going to college in Akron…literally.

The station and the University of Akron are unveiling a new Akron bureau home for “Fox 8 News”…at the UA School of Communication.

Quoting a press release from UA:

“The studio provides us a more central location, with easier access to news breaking out of Akron and surrounding cities,” says Greg Easterly, president and general manager of FOX 8. “In addition, there are so many scholars on the university campus—political analysts, lawyers, scientists, engineers, specialists in education, health and psychology—professionals who can help us inform our viewers and will be more easily available to our reporters.”

Easterly talks about the move from Summit Mall, in an article by Akron Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels:

“There was nothing bad about it,” WJW General Manager Greg Easterly said of the mall location. “It was a very visible location. We had always had a vision to tie a store in with it. … We had an idea of what we wanted it to be and it never quite came together that way.”

So, “Fox 8 News” is trading neighbors…from Orange Julius at Summit Mall, to the University of Akron’s “Z-TV” student television operation, WZIP/88.1 and The Buchtelite at UA’s Kolbe Hall. UA School of Communication interns will get opportunities as well.

The Heldenfels article notes that WJW will share space with a “Z-TV” production studio, and Akron-based reporter (and UA graduate) Dave Nethers will use an office at Kolbe Hall.

The article notes the attention paid to the Akron/Canton area by Cleveland TV news operations, with WKYC/3’s former Akron/Canton News broadcasts and WEWS/5’s bureau down the hall from Heldenfels at the Beacon Journal.

And omitted, with good reason, is Raycom Media WOIO/19-WUAB/43’s “19 Action News”, which has no bureau in either Akron or Canton.

We guess gassing up and driving south on I-77 is their definition of…(cue Drew Carey’s voice)…”everywhere!”…


One Response to The Storm Rides Out

  1. gringo says:

    ONN should have pushed to get put on the digital subchannels of its affiliates. Instead of WBNS 10.2 having weather now it could have been ONN. And here in Cleveland it could have been 5.3.
    With WTOL and WCPO subchannels also they could have had a large OTA market, plus cable must carry. Why didn’t they think of that instead of me?
    Perhaps ONN can be saved if they get on the subchannels. They need a station in YNG, CAK, Lima, Dayton, Zanesville and also MFD, and WTRF.
    It was always nice to watch the news broadcasts from other cities, even if the video quality was realplayer 2.0.

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