From Sports To TV To New Radio

The title says it all. And as usual as of late, some of these are brand new, and some are catching up over the past few days…

INDIANS STAYING ON WTAM: So, we hinted about this both on our social media presence and earlier this week right here on the blog, on an item we posted last week:

“Before we dive into this item, one note: Don’t print those “92.3 The Fan/Indians” bumper stickers just yet…”

We got a little “back patting” flack pointing back to this on Twitter, but really, we were far from alone in hearing the very loud rumors that Clear Channel would sign a new deal to keep Cleveland Indians baseball on its talk WTAM/1100.

We mean loud. We’re nearly surprised it wasn’t put on the scoreboard at Progressive Field.

Indians beat reporter Chris Assenheimer of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram was first to actually break the silence on this, compiling enough sources to run with the story in Sunday’s paper:

According to multiple sources, WTAM 1100-AM will continue to serve as the Indians’ flagship station. An announcement is expected in the coming days.

Now that it’s “out there”, we checked our own sources, and indeed, the about-to-be-signed Clear Channel renewal will be for five years. Assenheimer reports that CBS Radio offered a two year deal to move the Indians to sports WKRK/92.3 “The Fan”.

There’s no word or confirmation of the role of WTAM “brother” station rock WMMS/100.7 in the new deal.

This year, WMMS started picking up regular Friday night Indians games, and the station is the conflict home for the Indians if they’re nudged off WTAM (like due to a Cavaliers game, especially if the local NBA team is in the playoffs).

We have heard that as reported elsewhere (take a bow, Crain’s Cleveland Business!), CBS Radio put up quite a bid to move the games to WKRK, but it looks like Clear Channel and WTAM have come out on top…keeping the games they’ve had since the mid-1990s, when then-WTAM parent Jacor bought then-WKNR/1220.

Though there was certainly an attempt, in Jacor’s brief ownership of WKNR, to turn it into a sports flanker to WTAM (we distinctly remember hearing Mike Trivisonno on 1220 more than once after Jacor took it over, though 1100 was and is still his home base), Jacor moved the Indians over to WTAM pretty much the day they took over 1220.

Of course, Jacor was bought by Clear Channel, today’s Clear Channel Media+Entertainment or whatever they’re calling it in 2012.

We hear very strong rumblings out of Clear Channel’s Oak Tree facility that the company expects an even tougher fight to keep the NFL’s Cleveland Browns on WMMS(/WTAM).

For now, though, it appears all of our earlier speculation about filling 92.3’s signal holes that are reached easily by WTAM is off the board.

And note to Chris Assenheimer: in an otherwise excellent article, one small correction.

WKRK does indeed have a “weaker signal” than the flamethrower that is WTAM…but you can’t directly compare AM wattage to FM wattage. They are two very different animals.

“92.3 The Fan” can’t ever hope to reach WTAM’s coverage of “38 states and half of Canada” (a bit of hyperbole) even if it were somehow able to increase power to 50,000 watts, or if “The Fan” moved to another CBS Radio frequency in Cleveland.

FM signals are local, and even the most powerful FM signals, like the 100,000 watt-plus monsters elsewhere in the U.S., don’t go past two or three states in reach…unless atmospheric conditions pick up the signal and deliver it in an unpredictable pattern far from its home base…

JOHN’S COMING HOME: Remember Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3’s former anchor John Anderson? You won’t have to tap into the long term memory banks anymore.

The folks at 13th and Lakeside have brought Anderson back from Philadelphia. Courtesy of blogging colleague Frank Macek, senior director for “Channel 3 News”, quoting the returned anchor in a station release:

“We are really happy to be moving back to Cleveland,” said John. “Kristin and I loved our time there, and I’m looking forward to jumping back into the news and sports world of Northeast Ohio.” John will join Lynna Lai weekend nights at 6 & 11pm as News and Sports anchor, and will also report during the week. His first day will be October 24th.

John’s return to “Channel 3 News” is part of a growing trend in local TV news…stations are beefing up staffing for newscasts that formerly had just one anchor.

Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8 News” brought in Elisa Amigo to co-anchor the weekend morning newscasts with OMW reader Mark Zinni, and well-traveled-among-the-stations weather anchor A.J. Colby. (The show was expanded to a 7-10 AM time slot on Saturday and Sunday as well.)

“Fox 8 News” also hired former Sinclair ABC/Fox Columbus combo WSYX/6-WTTE/28 anchor and Akron native Gabe Spiegel to sit alongside Jennifer Jordan at noon weekdays.

And then, there’s Anderson’s pairing on weekend evenings with Lynna Lai, the former Raycom CBS/MyNet WOIO/19-WUAB/43 “19 Action News” anchor who’s been soloing anchor-wise after the departure of Eric Mansfield to Kent State University.

Of course, weekend anchoring being what it is, Amigo, Spiegel and Anderson (as noted above) will also report for weekday newscasts…

SPEAKING OF NEW WKYC ADDITIONS: No, he’s not coaching the station football team.

But the most noted (now-former) college football coach at The Ohio State University since Woody Hayes will join the “Channel 3 News” team in a unique role.

We turn again to Frank Macek’s “WKYC Director’s Cut” blog with Jim Tressel’s new role, quoting WKYC president/GM Brooke Spectorsky:

“Jim’s national championships as head football coach at Ohio State and Youngstown State universities are well-known to all, but his motivational speeches and best- selling books will be the basis of our “A Moment with Jim Tressel.”

“Jim motivates with passion but leads with compassion,” added interim News Director Virgil Dominic. “We envision a weekly segment that takes daily news stories and makes them teachable moments.”

“A Moment with Jim Tressel” will air each Wednesday night during Channel 3’s 7pm newscast.

Tressel still has a pretty high profile in Northeast Ohio these days. He came to the region as Vice President of Strategic Engagement at the University of Akron…

NEW RADIO STATION, WELL, SORT OF: The frequency of 106.1 in Cleveland’s eastern suburbs is not new.

It’s been a low-power translator, and when last we visited it, it was being used by California-based owner Educational Media Foundation to serve small parts of Cuyahoga County with EMF’s Christian pop music format “Air 1” from a cell phone tower a few furlongs from the Thistledown race track.

Fast forward to Tuesday evening, when an alert OMW reader let us know that the I-271 corridor near Warrensville Heights – and well beyond – was being treated to a simulcast of Clear Channel country WGAR/99.5 on 106.1. Huh?

WGAR certainly doesn’t need the signal help along I-271, being a full-power, full-market 50,000 watt class B station coming out of the Parma antenna farm.

Readers tell us the upgraded 106.1 signal has been making it to Lakewood and downtown Cleveland, at least to some degree.

Since we don’t yet know the final disposition of 106.1, we’ll throw out some possibilities.

1) Clear Channel will launch another station on 106.1, much like the 99.1 translator which became alt-rocker “99X”, which will be fed by WGAR’s HD2 channel.

This is not as automatic as you’d think, despite the 99X launch.

For that matter, we’d say the same about something we thought would happen with 99.1, a WTAM simulcast.

The 106.1 construction permit calls for 39 watts on the tower shared by Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 “The Fish” and CBS Radio sports WKRK/92.3 “The Fan” alongside I-271. (Of course, the tower was long home to WCLV in its 95.5 days, before the Great Cleveland Frequency Swap landed the local classical outlet on 104.9/Lorain.)

There’s already been a lot of speculation on the message boards about possible Clear Channel uses for 106.1 – keeping in mind that the company does use EMF-owned translators to add stations in places like Minneapolis.

Would it be an east side repeater for 99X? An east side FM outlet for WTAM? Some other format?

Ah, but we go to our second possibility.

2) EMF will once again program “Air 1” on the upgraded 106.1, using WGAR’s HD2 channel (or that of another Clear Channel station like hot AC WKDD/98.1 Munroe Falls in the Akron market, listed in the CP) to send the Christian pop music format to commercial band translators in the Cleveland area, the Akron area and beyond.

EMF and Clear Channel currently have just such an arrangement in place in Detroit, where EMF leases the HD2 sidechannel of Clear Channel urban AC WMXD/92.3 “Mix 92.3”.

From the excellent Michigan media site Michiguide:

8/2010: Clear Channel and Education Media Foundation reach an agreement that puts EMF’s Contemporary Christian K-Love format on WMXD’s HD2 stream. 4 metro area translators (W252BX 98.3 Detroit, W272CA 102.3 Detroit, W288BK 105.5 Rochester Hills, W292DK 106.3 Westland) begin simulcasting WMXD-2.

Note that the four translators in Detroit are all on the commercial band. FCC rules say that EMF can’t directly translate a noncommercial signal onto the commercial band via satellite, but you can certainly run a noncommercial format on a commercial station (HD sidechannel or otherwise).

Until it went off the air a few months ago, W291BV/106.1 Solon had been picking up the off-air signal from EMF-owned WCVJ/90.9 Jefferson, in Ashtabula County. We even saw the FM yagi antenna pointed northeast on that old cell tower.

EMF has a number of commercial band translator permits in Northeast Ohio, including:

* W220DM/Parma, which has a construction permit to move from 91.9 to 92.7 from West 3rd Street on the edge of downtown Cleveland, a few homeruns south of Progressive Field
* W279BT/103.7 Cleveland, which is on the same WFHM/WXRK tower off I-271 as the new 106.1 location
* W273BL/102.5 Akron, in the Akron FM/TV antenna farm…it’s currently on the air running Air 1.

All four stations list Clear Channel’s WKDD as primary…but changing a primary station for a translator is easy, especially when the same company owns the different choices.

Though, for example, the 92.7 translator is perfectly positioned to send a WTAM simulcast into the seats at Progressive Field and into downtown (see above about WTAM’s coming Indians contract renewal), our gut is telling us that EMF is lining up a Detroit-like deal to feed its own translators from the HD2 sidechannel of a powerful Clear Channel station.

We could be wrong. Or, the translators could be split between the two companies.

We banged the drum for months about the potential of a 99.1 simulcast of WTAM, but we were wrong. We were going on the company’s similar moves in other markets.

And we haven’t yet found anyone at Oak Tree/Chuck Collier Blvd., or at Clear Channel’s Akron/Canton compound on Freedom Avenue, that knows a thing about this. That’s not a surprise, since this appears to be a corporate deal between that company and the California-based religious broadcasting giant…

CAPTAIN TONY: There’s a second new recent hire on West Market Street, with a familiar name landing at the Akron Radio Center.

Tony McGinty, the former Clear Channel country WGAR/99.5 morning producer who lost his job when veteran host Jim Mantel was shown the contract-won’t-be-renewed door, is now doing similar duties for Rubber City Radio oldies/news WAKR/1590’s “Ray Horner Morning Show” news and talk show.

Between being let go from WGAR and his new gig in Akron, “Captain Tony” did some part time board/producer work back at Oak Tree, for WTAM and Indians Radio. That’s a very good case of “not burning your bridges”.

McGinty joins the first new face on West Market that we already told you about: former NextMedia talk WHBC/1480 Canton afternoon news anchor Scott Jennings…

INNER ROCCO SANCTUM: If you had to guess where the long-running local rock music show “Inner Sanctum” would go next, which station would you guess?

Why, Murray Hill Broadcasting alt-rock/AAA WLFM-LP 87.7 “Cleveland’s Sound”, of course. (That wasn’t even that difficult!)

The show is a natural fit for the locally-run rocker, as the “Inner Sanctum” folks announced themselves on Facebook:

The Inner Sanctum returns to the CLE airwaves on Sunday, October 14th at 9pm on 87.7 Cleveland’s Sound! We are thrilled to team up with a station built by Clevelanders for Clevelanders & employing Clevelanders!! Not to mention PLAYING Clevelanders!!!

“Inner Sanctum” has been on just about every Cleveland station that once tried an alt-rock or AAA format, including: WENZ/107.9 “The End”, WKRK-etc./92.3 “Radio 92.3/Xtreme Radio/[et al.]”, and WNWV/107.3 in its days as AAA-formatted V107.3.

In order, those stations are now Radio One hip hop “Z107.9”, CBS Radio sports “92.3 The Fan”, and Rubber City Radio smooth AC “107.3 The Wave”.

Speaking of WNWV’s former incarnation, former “V” program director Ric “Rocco” Bennett showed off a “87.7 Cleveland’s Sound” logo and E-mail address on his Facebook account recently.

We don’t know what Rocco (ex-WMMS/WENZ/et al.) is doing at the Agora, but we’d probably be safe to say it’s a combination of engineering and at least one on-air shift (as posted on one of the message boards)…

ROME IS MOVING: In a deal everyone expected to happen, syndicated sports talk giant Jim Rome is moving his radio operations from Clear Channel’s Premiere to CBS Radio, as announced last week.

It was expected because Rome had already signed an extensive TV deal with CBS Sports, and his contract with Premiere will expire at the end of 2012. Add together CBS’ hunger for sports content, the start of the new CBS Sports Radio network (Rome’s show will be the 12-3 PM Eastern component), and it fits together pretty well.

But…don’t put any bets on Rome’s show moving locally from Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850” to CBS’ WKRK/92.3 “The Fan”.

Simply put, CBS Radio’s sports game plan (so to speak) involves all day local sports talk in its larger markets.

Cleveland is certainly in that category with “The Fan”, with a live and local schedule weekdays 5 AM to midnight, and much of the weekend as well.

No, CBS is likely just as happy cashing Craig Karmazin’s checks to clear Jim Rome on his only-ever Cleveland home, WKNR (give or take an hour on “Puny 1540, KNR Mini”, er…”ESPN 1540 KNR 2″).

What would CBS do if Good Karma dropped Rome on 850? After all, Mr. Karmazin has already trimmed “The Jungle” down to two hours on his main, People Can Actually Hear It Far From Euclid Avenue signal.

We don’t know, but we still have trouble thinking about Jim Rome on 92.3 in pretty much any form.

We do expect Rome to eventually end up on the smaller market CBS Sports Radio affiliates (startup January 2013) that don’t have significant programming.

We don’t know, for example, how long Clear Channel sports WNIO/1390 Youngstown “The Sports Animal” has left with the show, until next year syndicated by Premiere…and we assume that Cumulus sports WBBW/1240 in the same market will eventually replace ESPN programming with a hefty dose of the new CBS Sports Radio network…

MONSTERS ON RADIO: It’s about time to drop the puck at Quicken Loans Arena…at least when Dan Gilbert’s main team isn’t shooting hoops.

The American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters announced a two-to-four station radio schedule, splitting 38 games a piece evenly between the aforementioned WKNR/850 (with some daytime games on WWGK “KNR2”), and Salem Christian talk WHKW/1220 “The Word” (with some games on talk WHK/1420).

The WHKW end of the deal also puts the Monsters on mostly simulcast WHKZ/1440 Warren, which may be the official sign that Salem has given up on trying to sell the Mahoning Valley station.

Quoting a team press release:

Handling the calls once again on both the radio and television sides will be Doug Plagens, who enters his second season as the Voice of the Monsters. He serves in the same capacity for the Cleveland Gladiators, Quicken Loans Arena’s Arena Football League team.

Plagens will be joined on television broadcasts by Cleveland hockey legend and Monsters assistant coach/Director of Hockey Operations & Team Services, Jock Callander, who will provide color commentary. Veteran Cleveland sports broadcaster Kenny Roda will return for his fifth season as rinkside reporter and intermission host on all telecasts in 2012-13.

Roda is, of course, co-host of “ESPN 850’s” “Cleveland Sports Night” evening show with another long-time local sportscaster, Michael Reghi and joined by occasional OMW reader Dave DeNatale.

And as noted above, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert owns the Monsters, and now also the Arena League’s Cleveland Gladiators, which air on “92.3 The Fan”…

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3 Responses to From Sports To TV To New Radio

  1. morganwick says:

    What are the chances of:
    *Rome moving entirely to KNR2;
    *WKNR dropping most if not all ESPN Radio programming in order to keep Rome;
    *CBS Radio airing Rome on some other, non-sports station in the market?

    • The following is all based on my assumption that The Fan will not pick up Rome’s CBS Sports Radio show, but will elect to keep their existing schedule in place.

      * Highly unlikely. KNR2 exists to clear the national ESPN shows that WKNR can’t air (Cowherd, Van Pelt, last hour of “Mike and Mike”). The first hour of Rome is only on KNR2 because WKNR sought to expand the tRBS brand to a four-hour show, for better or worse. Plus 1540 is a solely inner-city signal. Good luck picking it up on any radio outside of Cleveland proper, or even IN Cleveland in the two hours after sunrise/two hours before sunset perameter (which is why Munch’s sunrise-to-9AM show on KNR2 is essentally an internet-only show).
      * Not a chance. WKNR is firmly in the ESPN camp along with all other sports stations in the Good Karma chain. Now, CBS might not have a problem with WKNR clearing CBS Sports Radio, but that’s because it undercuts WKNR’s postion in the market. Plus I bet CBS would rather have as close to a 24/7 clear in the market as possible, and you won’t get that with WKNR. If anything, tRBS will probably move to 10am – 2pm, and the Hooligans get a 2pm – 6pm extension.
      *Possible. I’m curious about is if WARF/1350 decides to continue to carry Rome. They could get away with it because WARF does reach Cleveland during the daytime, although the station has never bothered to target the Cleveland market. It’s still an Akron station, but could theoretically “fill the void” for Jungle followers. (Although WARF may be mandated to take whatever Premiere offers as a replacement, likely the FSR team of Petros & Money, who have filled in for Rome.)

      It should also be noted the OTHER reason why WKNR won’t even attempt to keep Rome, and it’s a biggie. This Rome/CBS deal has him delievering those one-minute “CBS Sports Minute” commentaries on all CBS Sports Radio affils – including WKRK, where they air at :36 past the hour. (Incoming CBS Sports Radio personalities Boomer Esasion and Doug Gottlieb already are doing those commentaries.)

      So, even if they won’t carry the three-hour show, Rome will STILL become a part of 92.3 The Fan. Just in a miniscule role.

  2. contour07 says:

    How long has this 106.1 been on air in the Cleveland area? I’ve never heard of it, and I’m not that far from it either. Now that I know about its existence, this station is most likely causing interference with WBBG 106.1 from Warren. Back in 2005, I use to get WBBG with very little interference. Within the last few years, WBBG doesn’t come in clear anymore and is always covered with interference. I’m assuming this station is to blame since its coverage area overlaps with WBBG according to Radio-Locator. The CP, if still pending, would wipe WBBG out of my area. There should be a hard null in the signal towards the east to protect WBBG.

    I also noticed since signing on, 99x has been creating interference with 98.9 from Youngstown, which is another station I listen to.

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