Here’s another update as we round into early December…as items seem to have accumulated in enough quantity to release them into the wild…
STO’S FUTURE: The occasional rumbling we’ve heard about SportsTime Ohio’s impending sale has turned into a loud roar.
Now, from just about everyone not named “Dolan”, we hear that the regional sports network owned by the family which owns the Cleveland Indians is thisclose to being sold.
Early on, there were rumors that Time Warner Cable and Fox Sports were the two interested parties, but now, it appears that the Fox empire is about to pull the trigger on purchasing STO.
OMW hears that Fox’s Los Angeles-based suits have been no stranger to the STO operations in recent days and weeks.
We talked about this on our social media presence, completely unaware that the News-Herald’s Bob Finnan had this item in his November 17th column:
Speaking of Fox Sports Ohio, it appears to be close to purchasing SportsTime Ohio. A source said if Fox buys it, it will broadcast the Indians and STO would no longer exist. The Dolan family is expected to retain its minority share in the cable franchise. Many thought Time Warner Cable was close to buying STO, but Fox appears to be very close to pulling the trigger on the megadeal.
OMW hears that the Finnan item caused quite a stir among employees at STO, with many worried about their jobs.
Another print type with his eye on sports media, the Akron Beacon Journal’s George M. Thomas, goes into further detail in an Ohio.com blog post, saying that “if” STO is sold, it will happen by the end of the year. (Separately, we’ve heard the same.)
But unlike his colleague in Lake County, Thomas says he’s hearing that SportsTime Ohio won’t be merged lock, stock and Chief Wahoo into the existing Fox Sports Ohio:
What’s more intriguing is that the stations will not merge; they will remain separate entities much in the way that FS South and SportSouth operate independently of one another in the Atlanta area and beyond. One has more of a regional flavor catering to multiple states and the other is more locally based.
Thomas points to SportSouth’s schedule as a possible clue that Fox Sports will hang onto at least “some” of STO’s local content if a merger happens. (Our guess: if Thomas is right about this, the Indians games will still move back to Fox Sports Ohio’s main channel.)
For now, no one appears to know for sure…so it’s the waiting game for STO employees.
The network, as long-time OMW readers know, uses production facilities at Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3’s “Digital Broadcast Center” at 13th and Lakeside.
No one that knows anything yet has a guess what happens to WKYC’s STO-linked over-air Indians game rights, where Channel 3 airs 20 games per year…
SPEAKING OF GANNETT: The multimedia company has yet again pulled a retransmission consent deal with a satellite provider out of a hat.
Back in October, WKYC owner Gannett went to the wire and then some with Dish Network.
The late night deadline came and went without Gannett’s stations being removed from the nation’s second largest satellite-to-home video provider, and an agreement happened the next morning.
Flip the deadline to November 30th, and the satellite firm to DirecTV, and history repeated itself this weekend, right down to the announcement of the agreement the morning after the deadline.
Gannett acknowledged the deal with a brief statement that was posted Saturday on the WKYC website:
Gannett and DirecTV have reached an agreement regarding DirecTV’s continued retransmission of Gannett stations.
NBC would have been hit hard by a Gannett blackout on DirecTV…the company owns not only WKYC, but also a large number of NBC affiliates in markets from Atlanta and Tampa to Phoenix and St. Louis.
On to the next round of the Retransmission Consent Sweepstakes…
JIM’S IN: MediaCom talk WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron” has found its second full-time replacement in the past few months.
He’s a voice that’s familiar to WNIR listeners from frequent fill-in stints…which became almost marathon in nature after the death of midday iconic host Howie Chizek and illness, and later death, of evening host Tom Erickson.
Jim Isabella takes the shift Erickson once occupied – 7-11 PM weeknights and 4-7 PM Saturday afternoons.
First word came Thursday night on what’s now Isabella’s own show, and Friday, the newspaper that’s been his other employer had word about the radio promotion for “a member of the Beacon Journal family” in Rich Heldenfels’ “HeldenFiles” column.
Heldenfels quoted a statement by WNIR that the station didn’t see fit to send us, or post on its website:
Isabella, a substitute host on the station for the last two years, saw his work increase during the many months Erickson was off the air and after the sudden death of Howie Chizek in June. “From that exposure WNIR’s audience became much more familiar with Jim’s talents,” said a station announcement, and Isabella generated positive feedback that led to the full-time job.
If we recall correctly, Isabella has been a correspondent covering high school football for the Beacon Journal…and the end of that season would presumably leave his Friday nights free.
Isabella took to his Facebook account to answer those congratulating him on the gig:
THANKS to all of you, I am truly happily surprised and overwhelmed by the out-poring of support … did not see that coming …
WNIR’s other regular fill-in, weekend evening host and “Rockin’ On The River” maestro Bob Earley, said many times on the air that he wasn’t interested in a full-time talk gig at the station.
And from what we see on Facebook, at least, Earley appears quite happy with Isabella taking the weeknight gig…
TIME TWO: The OVI arrest of Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7 afternoon co-host Chad Zumock this week wasn’t his first.
But when you (allegedly) drive drunk and hit a tree, you’ll land on the local news…as evidenced by this item by writer Jen Steer on Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s NewsNet5.com:
Cleveland radio personality and comedian Chad Zumock was arrested in Lakewood early Friday morning.
The police report said Zumock, 37, was driving westbound on Lake Avenue when he went off the road and hit a tree at about 3:18 a.m.
He was not injured and refused to take a breathalyzer test, the report said.
Zumock’s arrest was, we’re told, very briefly mentioned by Alan Cox on the afternoon drive “Alan Cox Show” Friday…we’re told Cox said it was “none of his business” and moved on.
As noted in the header for this section of the item, it’s not Zumock’s first run in the “drinking and driving” department.
He turned his 2008 DUI arrest in Kent into fodder for his standup routine. You could watch it on a YouTube video that we can no longer find.
Zumock had scheduled appearances at the Funny Stop in Cuyahoga Falls this week, and a Saturday appearance with his Hall and Oates cover band (“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Hall and Oates”) at downtown Cleveland’s House of Blues.
We’ll spare you the YouTube video of that one.
How will the OVI arrest affect his WMMS gig? Probably not much.
As we saw online, and heard from others in person, a decent chunk of WMMS’ audience has probably gone through similar…or has at least worried about a cop pulling them over for OVI.
He might get a brief suspension under Clear Channel policy (as far as we know, Zumock wasn’t on the air Friday), but that’s about it, we predict…and at some point, he’ll probably mine it for comedic effect both in his standup routine, and with Alan Cox, Erika Lauren and the gang on WMMS…
HE’S MCFLYING HIGH: We neglected to pass along word of a Friend of OMW climbing up in the broadcasting world.
After landing in Fort Smith AR due to a job change by his wife, former Rubber City Radio country WQMX/94.9 personality George McFly landed a weekend gig at a decidedly non-country station: Cumulus rock KLSZ/100.7 “Rock 100.7” in that Arkansas market.
The folks at “Rock 100.7” must have liked what they heard, as McFly recently took over the station’s weekday afternoon drive time slot, apparently losing his first name.
George passes on his greetings to his friends in Northeast Ohio, and says he’s hoping to visit the area early next year…