A Pile Of Items, Released

UPDATE 8/16/12 10:05 AM: If you read this before 10 AM, scroll down for an additional item…


As per usual, important items pile up in a clump of anywhere from three to a half-dozen. This update doesn’t cover everything in that pile, but we’ll get close enough to doing so.

And coming ’round the bend sometime in the next few days – “Couch Burner, The Followup”.

Yes, as reported here and by the Akron Beacon Journal, John Denning has taken over the 10 AM-3 PM time slot on WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron”…after 25 years of listener calls to nearly 40 year Akron talk radio icon Howie Chizek under that flaming furniture nickname.

We’ll go back to that topic later. But first…

YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A MURRAY HILL: We expressed some skepticism when WLFM-LP 6/87.7 “87.7 Clevelanders Rock” honcho Tom Wilson told local media that a company named Murray Hill Broadcasting owned the station that was owned, according to the FCC, by Venture Technologies Group.

We should have waited a while longer.

Murray Hill, with Wilson named as “managing partner”, has filed to buy WLFM-LP outright from Venture, a company Wilson has worked with frequently in the past.

Price tag, according to documents filed with the FCC? $25,000.

Not bad for a “Franken FM”, riding the analog audio airwaves of TV channel 6 at 87.75 mHz FM, at least for another three years, playing the role of a radio station in America’s 30th largest market. (More on that three year thing in a bit.)

When the station actually launches playing more than sports fight songs and a hit by a local band whose frontman is actually working at another station, is anyone’s guess.

WLFM staffers have been telling friends of the station’s Facebook page that they’re planning on launching by the end of this month (two weeks away!), presumably from studios in the Cleveland Agora building at 50th and Euclid.

We’ve heard no more about staffing decisions, aside from the presence of former CBS Radio promotions staffer Archie Berwick in morning drive, and former CBS Radio alt-rock (now sports) WKRK/92.3 personality Rachel Steele in afternoon drive…

We have heard rumors of some more off-air staffers heading for the Agora, and perhaps a veteran programmer from another market potentially in the mix at 87.7, but we haven’t yet confirmed those rumblings yet…

AND ABOUT THAT WLFM “THREE YEAR” THING”: In two of its other markets, Venture has been trying to convince the FCC to let it inject an analog audio carrier alongside a digital channel 6 signal…the audio carrier, of course, to show up on FM radios at 87.7.

The FCC came back and basically said, well, no.

From Tom Taylor’s excellent Taylor on Radio-Info column – a column we hope continues somewhere, somehow after the sale of Radio-Info.com to “Talkers” trade magazine publisher Michael Harrison:

The gear from Axcera would let Venture’s Pittsburgh and Lubbock TV stations continue transmitting an analog radio signal at 87.7 after the required conversion to digital TV in 2015. In other words, they could continue to be heard on most FM radios in analog. That would require more transmitter power, however, and the FCC doesn’t fancy that idea.

Tom helpfully provides a link to the FCC decision regarding Venture’s WBPA-LP Pittsburgh and KFMP-LP Lubbock TX.

At this writing, WLFM-LP in Cleveland has not filed an application for a digital channel 6 facility.

But it sure sounds like this potential “out” for it and the other so-called “Franken FMs” isn’t passing muster with the FCC.

Without such a change, the radio station created by WLFM-LP’s presence on the analog FM dial will have to find some other home on September 1, 2015…

SCRIPPS HIRED HER, HOWEVER…: Cristin Severance, a fixture at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s “NewsChannel 5”, has been a fixture in doubt…since her employer, the Columbus-based Ohio News Network, announced it would end operations on August 31st.

No network, no Cleveland bureau…but as it turns out, Scripps has hired Cristin Severance.

Just not in Cleveland.

Starting next month, Severance will be working for another Scripps ABC affiliate, KGTV/10 in San Diego, as a “consumer investigative reporter”.

Though she’ll certainly miss her friends in Ohio, Cristin tells OMW that she’s very much looking forward to the trek west.

“I’ve really enjoyed living and working in Cleveland, but this is a dream position for me in a city (where) I’ve always wanted to live. It is the Scripps station, so I’ll still be apart of the WEWS family,” Severance told us as she works out her final days at 3001 Euclid.

OMW hears that she’ll have inbound Cleveland company in San Diego and at KGTV, though we’ll share that piece of news with you later…

TO TV, AND BACK TO RADIO: Rubber City Radio Group oldies/news WAKR/1590 Akron morning news anchor Lindsay McCoy, who has been alongside morning host Ray Horner since her return to the Akron station, is leaving again.

This time, Lindsay moves into television, taking a multimedia journalist role at Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21 in Youngstown.

And now alongside Horner as WAKR’s new morning news anchor, at least for the next while, is someone who’s no stranger to the station or its former TV sister station.

Mark Williamson was most recently the long-running spokesman for Akron mayor Don Plusquellic.

But thousands of Akronites still remember him as the anchor and news director on “23 Newsday” at Akron’s former ABC affiliate, WAKC/23…now ION network O&O WVPX/23, serving the entire Cleveland market.

He also has an early stint at WAKR itself on his resume, back when the radio stations (WAKR and then-WAEZ/97.5, now rock WONE) were co-owned with the TV station.

Rubber City Radio VP/Information Media and long-time OMW Reader Ed Esposito talks about his new anchor.

“I think Mark’s experience on both sides of the fence provides him with a unique view of how the system works,” Esposito tells us. “He’s an intelligent person who was the spokesman for the mayor, but now he’s an intelligent person using that experience to help our listeners understand the story behind the story.”

Esposito says that Williamson will be in the role part-time “while we post the position of anchor/reporter as required.”

And just what requirements are attached to the job of morning anchor on WAKR?

“We’ve posted the news anchor/reporter position and are looking for someone with electronic journalism experience; we are a digital news operation producing news for broadcast, online, mobile and social media platforms with text, audio, video and short-form (Twitter, mobile) presentation,” Esposito tells OMW. “Looking for someone with natural curiosity and the confidence to ask questions that get to the heart of the story.”

Esposito also tells OMW that a producer will be added to the Ray Horner Morning Show, though that job description is still in the works…

LOW POWER: Media One Group hot AC WREO/97.1 “Star 97.1” in Ashtabula is proud of that station’s signal…often invoking its reach from Cleveland’s eastern suburbs all the way to Erie PA (“Mentor, Cleveland, Erie and you”).

That signal isn’t what it should be.

WREO explains on its web page:

We are having some work done on our star 97.1 radio towers. We hope to have it done soon so that we can get back to providing you with the regional coverage and fun tunes you love from Cleveland to Erie. We have a very low signal going out to Ashtabula and Geneva right now. We miss you all as well.
Be back soon from your Star 97.1 family

Listeners in the region are definitely noticing the difference. An OMW reader in Lake County asked us about 97.1’s signal problems, which prompted us to check.

And you can bet Media One Group is working as hard as possible to get things back to normal at WREO. The station, especially in its current incarnation, spends a lot of time paying attention to affluent Lake County suburbs of Cleveland.

And unlike most stations, WREO can’t instruct its far flung listeners to stream its audio. “Star 97.1” offers no stream.

The low-power signal means the voice of a regular OMW reader isn’t going as far as it normally does.

Chuck Matthews tells us he’s now entering “year 3” as the station voice for “Star 97.1″…

COURTRIGHT, THE NEXT GENERATION: Could there be a new generation of the Courtright family in Cleveland radio news?

OMW hears that Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 news anchor/reporter Julie Courtright could make that possible.

Julie is going to be away from the WTAM airwaves for a few weeks in the next month or so for good reason: she and her husband are expecting their first baby, a baby girl, due date September 21st.

OMW readers are well aware of the Courtright family’s history in local radio news.

Julie’s father, the late Ken Courtright, spent decades doing radio news in Cleveland, including (twice) on the 1100 facility where his daughter now works.

Like her father, Julie worked her way up in radio news, being heard in Dover/New Philadelphia and in Oberlin before taking the WTAM job.

And Courtright’s son, Alan, has his own voiceover business in Medina, and was also heard doing radio news at Rubber City Radio’s WAKR a ways back.

We hear Julie “is sure (the new arrival in the family) will carry on the Courtright broadcasting tradition”, though we don’t know if she’ll take a page from the folks in Massillon.

Newborn babies in that high school football-mad community are presented with small footballs in the crib… we wonder if Julie and her husband will put a small microphone in their infant daughter’s crib…


9 Responses to A Pile Of Items, Released

  1. Mark says:

    What ever happened to the morning show on 102.5? (Paula and Hunter)

  2. Yekimi says:

    Sadly, Tom Taylor’s “Taylor on Radio” is kaput, since Radio-Info.com has been sold, he is hanging up his shingle & retiring.

    • You’re right, TRI is gone after the last edition put up Friday, but Tom is NOT retiring. He’s going to take a break after the Radio-Info sale. I’m sure he’ll pop up somewhere else. The couple which owned Radio-Info, the Flemings (Doug’s parents), are the ones retiring, not Tom.

  3. Karen says:

    I stopped listening to WNIR when Howie passed away. Couch Burner can’t be taken seriously. He isn’t even remotely entertaining just downright annoying. Sorry to see the station make such an idiotic decision.

  4. Jim Davison says:

    Alan Courtright can also be heard over 1570 WHTX and 1540 WYCL in Niles/Warren weekday mornings from 6 am to noon and he is also their News Director, Congrats to Julie Courtright.

  5. Jim says:

    Lanigan keeps making subtle hints at “when he leaves….”. Is this going to be the year he says goodbye? 😦

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