The Fox-STO Shoe Drops

We’ve discussed the rumors. We’ve discussed the reports from every outlet this side of “Shopper’s Weekly” that a sale of Cleveland-based regional sports network SportsTime Ohio was imminent.

It’s now official, slipped just under the Tax Impact Door of 2012.

As expected everywhere (including here), Fox Sports Media Group has signed on the dotted line, with a reported, estimated $230 million purchase of the network owned by the Dolan family, who also happen to own the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball.

Also noted in the deal, a long-term deal to bring the Indians TV rights back in the Fox fold…the Tribe aired on Fox Sports Ohio until the Dolans started STO in 2006.

Plain Dealer Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes reports that Fox will pay the Indians at least $40 million a year for the team’s TV broadcast rights over the next 10 years ($400 million), which is an increase from $33 million being paid yearly from STO into the Dolans’ other pockets at Progressive Field.

Hoynes notes that the new money helped the team do things like sign prized free agent Nick Swisher.

But, there are plenty of unanswered questions that need to be answered in the coming months, Hoynes says:

Although nothing has been confirmed, it appears Fox will operate two sports networks in Ohio to avoid scheduling conflicts. Decisions on STO programming are expected to be made in the next six weeks.

Not known – will STO keep its name as a Fox Sports entity?

The company operates second networks in markets like Florida (Sun Sports), Georgia (SportSouth) and Los Angeles (Prime Ticket) under other names. Or will the current SportsTime Ohio turn into Fox Sports Cleveland or Fox Sports Northeast Ohio?

Hoynes says STO’s current Indians broadcast team – Rick Manning, Matt Underwood and Al Pawlowski – is expected to continue, as is the deal with Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 to carry over-air games – at least in the upcoming 2013 season.

Though the PD writer says “on Fox”, it doesn’t seem to be clear yet if the Indians will move to the current Fox Sports Ohio, or air on their current home – whatever STO will be called assuming it does continue as a separate network.

We asked a spokeswoman for Fox Sports Ohio, who pointed us back to the press release as the only information coming out now.

Our guess is that for branding purposes, the Indians will be on the current FSO – or if not that, a rebranded STO with the Fox Sports name.

And of course, the fate of STO’s current non-Indians local programming lineup is apparently up in the air… giving the network’s staff some pause at the holidays. We haven’t heard any rumblings about this, as Fox will be making the decisions on STO’s programming over the next few weeks.

$230 million, plus $400 million for rights over 10 years sounds like a lot of money, but Hoynes points out that deals involving Fox Sports in New York and Los Angeles “dwarf” that money…

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Press Release Theatre (Vol. 9), The Time Warner Cable SportsChannel Edition

UPDATE 12/20/12 10:07 PM: We’re told that the network actually launched in August…we haven’t had Time Warner Cable’s digital service since before then.

But TWC’s own release talks about the network in terms of “will be” and “will bring”, so they must see this as a post-soft launch statewide.

Some wording fixed…

—–

Having apparently lost or abandoned its reported bid to buy SportsTime Ohio, Time Warner Cable is going ahead full steam with its own statewide sports network…called “Time Warner Cable SportsChannel”.

The network features Ohio high school and collegiate sports, and other as of yet unspecified programming.

And the move of TWC Northeast Ohio Network (NEON) fixture Les Levine to the statewide platform apparently affects Les’ soon to be former home on Time Warner Cable’s channel 23 in Northeast Ohio.

The release below says NEON will “transition to a new format featuring local weather information” early next month, but gives no word on the fate of the remaining programs on the local origination channel.

Here’s Time Warner’s release, which announces the new statewide platform for “More Sports & Les Levine”.

Of course, Les’ show has been on “SportsChannel” before…the original local cable sports channel which became Fox Sports Net Ohio. The show was called “More SportsChannel & Les Levine”…

—–

Time Warner Cable has announced that More Sports & Les Levine, a Northeast Ohio tradition for 20 years, now has a statewide audience on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, as of this week.

Most recently found on the Northeast Ohio Network (NEON) channel 23, More Sports & Les Levine can now been seen throughout the state live, Monday-Thursday from 6-7 p.m., on Channels 311 and 1311. Time Warner Cable’s channel 23 in Northeast Ohio will transition to a new format featuring local weather information in early January. Time Warner Cable SportsChannel 311/1311 will be the new home for local sports, including high school and college games, in addition to a variety of other original programming.

“We are very pleased to welcome Les and his show to our ever-expanding programming lineup,” said Vince Jones, director of sports programming for Time Warner Cable in Ohio and Kentucky. “Les brings with him an established and loyal viewership and we look forward to helping him grow it on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.”

Levine has been a fixture covering sports in Northeast Ohio virtually every weeknight since 1989. More Sports & Les Levine began on radio (WERE from 1992-94 and WHK from 1994-96), before moving to TV with Time Warner Cable in 1996.

Known throughout Northeast Ohio as “The Self-Proclaimed Voice of Truth & Reason,” Levine has regularly welcomed owners, general managers and coaches of the Browns, Indians, and Cavaliers. The show has featured over 25 Hall of Famers, as well as numerous Super Bowl and World Series participants.

“After being on radio or TV on a daily basis in Northeast Ohio for the past 23 years, I am looking forward to expanding the reach of ‘More Sports & Les Levine’ and I’d like to thank Time Warner Cable SportsChannel for the opportunity,” Levine said. “I’m told that I’m an ‘acquired taste’ and hopefully viewers around the state will give the show a try.”

A graduate of The Ohio State University, Levine has covered the Cleveland Browns and Indians for a variety of outlets and served as play-by-play announcer for the WHA’s Cleveland Crusaders (1972-74), Kent State football and basketball (1974-79), Cleveland State basketball (1985-2006), the AFL’s Cleveland Thunderbolts (1992-94) and countless high school football and basketball games.

About Time Warner Cable SportsChannel

Time Warner Cable SportsChannel is a 24/7 high-definition sports network currently found on channels 311 and 1311 HD across the state of Ohio. Through its partnerships with the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), Miami University and the Atlantic 10 Conference, with member institutions Xavier University and the University of Dayton, TWC SportsChannel will bring viewers more than 150 scholastic events and college basketball and hockey games annually, in addition to a variety of other original programming.

THIS JUST IN: Trapper Jack, Jim McIntyre Exit WDOK

A bombshell hit Cleveland morning radio today, as the two longest-running hosts on the CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 “New 102” morning team are leaving the station.

In fact, this morning was the last day for Trapper Jack after 17 years on the station’s morning show, and “Infoman” Jim McIntyre exits this week after 18 years.

Co-host Jen Toohey, who moved over from sister hot AC WQAL/104.1 “Q104″‘s morning show to join WDOK, remains… and in fact, WDOK has performed what we call around here a “Soviet-style purge” on its website…Toohey’s picture and the name “New 102 Mornings” are the only signs of the morning show on the WDOK website at this time.

Trapper Jack’s farewell speech was posted on the “New 102” website for a while, but the story linking to the audio was then scrubbed. (A reader provided the direct MP3 download link to the Trapper Jack audio, but since we’re linking it here, that’ll probably be gone by the time you read this.)

UPDATE 5:25 PM 12/19/12: The MP3 file has indeed gone away on the CBS Radio WordPress site. As of this writing, the direct WDOK podcast link still has the audio. Some Internet searching also found the audio here, though we don’t know the source – download at your own risk.

Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s website has a complete story on the exit, with some quotes from the farewell speech, and an audio link, written by NewsNet5.com’s Tina Kaufmann…herself a former radio type with Akron’s Rubber City Radio Group.

Rubber City country powerhouse WQMX/94.9 is the current radio programming home of former WDOK programmer Sue Wilson, who Trapper Jack thanked for hiring him after his exit from then-WLTF/106.5 “Lite Rock 106 1/2” (today’s Clear Channel adult hits WHLK/106.5 “The Lake”).

Trapper Jack told his audience that the pair was told November 15th that their contracts wouldn’t be renewed, but the company would not say why. He said “person or persons” would be brought in with Jen Toohey, and wished both the show and the station success in a very classy farewell.

We’ll have a complete transcript of the Trapper Jack farewell speech later today, in an update to this item…and yes, this is the level we alluded to, when we talked about the kind of thing which would take us out of our Holiday Hiatus…

Posting To The Holidays

This will be the last regular news post of 2012, barring any major (and we mean major) Northeast Ohio media news. We’ll continue to put breaking media bulletins and other observations on the OMW Social Media Presence(tm) (uh, our Twitter and Facebook accounts).

May all of our readers have a very happy holiday season, and we’ll see you in January…but, until then…

AL BARTHOLET’S REPLACEMENT: Kent State University public radio outlet WKSU/89.7-and-its-many-simulcasters has found its replacement for retiring general manager Al Bartholet.

Dan Skinner

Daniel E. Skinner comes in from San Antonio-based Texas Public Radio, where he’s been president and general manager for the past six years.

Skinner has been in public radio for 32 years, with 20 years of general manager experience.

Quoting a release sent our way from (you knew it was coming!) long-time personal and professional Friend of OMW Ann VerWiebe:

Based in San Antonio, TPR operates KSTX FM, an award-winning news and information station; KPAC FM, a classical music station; and KTXI FM, a news and classical music station in the Texas Hill Country.

Previously, he was department head and general manager of Purdue University’s WBAA AM & FM (1992-2006); program manager and then manager of internal operations and programming for Ball State University’s WBST (1987-1992); and operations manager and then program director for Hutchinson Community College’s KHCC (1980-1987).

Skinner is a longtime advocate for public radio. He has been a member of Public Radio in Mid-America (PRIMA) since 1995 and is its current vice president. The organization serves as a forum on issues in public radio, advances the public radio industry and its services, and offers numerous professional-development opportunities.

He was also vice chair of the Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations, a statewide consortium of public television and radio stations, and served on its executive committee.

Skinner takes over the general manager’s chair at WKSU on January 2, 2013.

And for the incoming GM, here’s a list of WKSU-and-its-many-simulcasters, courtesy of “Ann’s Corner”:

WKSU broadcasts NPR & Classical Music at 89.7 FM. WKSU programming is also heard on WKRW 89.3 FM in Wooster, WKRJ 91.5 FM in Dover/New Philadelphia, WKSV 89.1 FM in Thompson, WNRK 90.7 in Norwalk and W239AZ 95.7 FM in Ashland. The station broadcasts four HD Radio channels – adding WKSU-2 Folk Alley, WKSU-3 The Classical Channel and WKSU-4 The News Channel to the analog broadcast schedule. The WKSU website is http://www.wksu.org.

THE LAKE NEEDS A CAPTAIN: Due to Tony Matteo’s departure for the operations manager job at Clear Channel’s Wichita KS cluster, there’s an opening at the company’s adult hits WHLK/106.5 “The Lake” in Cleveland.

Ah, but the Oak Tree folks are doing things differently.

With sister country WGAR/99.5 program director Charley Connolly adding PD stripes for WHLK, the station needs, uh, a “captain” for “The Lake”. (Get it?)

If you’re just the kind of, uh, mate who wants to help Connolly steer the ship, here’s the ad for 106.5’s new Executive Producer slot:

Clear Channel Media + Entertainment Cleveland is looking for an ‘out of box’ creative thinker to be the Executive Producer of 106.5 The Lake. Candidates need to know how to make a radio brand come to life through creative and engaging imaging.

Creativity is a must; but so are killer organizational skills, incredible attention to detail and excellent follow through.

We are looking for candidates with a strong knowledge of programming and past experience is a major plus!

Production skills and knowledge of NexGen helpful.

Please rush an email with materials (sample writing, production, programming philosophy or anything else that would sell you to us) to (charleyconnolly-at-clearchannel-dot-com).

Though Clear Channel didn’t place the ad here, we did, we remind you that “Clear Channel Media + Entertainment is an Equal Opportunity Employer”.

You know that’s real because we didn’t add the “Pork Rinds” part…

FILLING THE GAP: Well, as much as you can fill the gap after letting someone like now-former Clear Channel top 40 WAKS/96.5 “Kiss FM” assistant program director/music director/afternoon personality Kasper get away in a budget cut, at any rate.

Java Joel

Cleveland’s “Kiss FM” has moved night slammer* “Java Joel” Murphy into Kasper’s former afternoon drive time slot, and another voice familiar to many Cleveland listeners takes over nights.

But unlike his time at One Radio Lane (RIP 2012), Rob Kruz won’t be back here in Cleveland.

Kruz

Kruz (without the first name) left CBS Radio hot AC WQAL/104.1 “Q104” here in February 2010 to take the night gig at Clear Channel top 40 WIHT/99.5 “Hot 99.5” in Washington DC.

Thus, he will be heard on the local top 40 outlet via the magic of voicetracking from somewhere in the suburbia of our Nation’s Capital, unless perhaps he happens to be visiting his old hometown.

“Java Joel” is, as far as we know, still broadcasting live and direct from the Oak Tree Clear Channel Media+Entertainment+Pork Rinds World Domination HQ in the Cleveland suburb of Independence.

* – And yes, we believe it’s some sort of radio trade publication law that we have to call the night personality at a hit radio station a “night slammer”…

HOWIE’S ESTATE: The late radio icon Howie Chizek was mainly a private man when he turned off the microphone at Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron”, where he held forth in middays for nearly 40 years.

Those who know him are probably cringing about a front page story in the Akron Beacon Journal, where Phil Trexler laid out a lot of information on the disposition of Howie’s estate.

We’re not going to retread the ground well covered by Trexler’s piece in this Mighty Blog(tm). Anyone who’s interested can go to the story link…

AMANDA GONE: Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 reporter/anchor Amanda Barren has left the building (13th and Lakeside) to return to West Virginia.

Amanda Barren

Barren came to Channel 3 News from WSAZ/3, the Charleston/Huntington market’s NBC affiliate, where she was a weekend anchor and reporter. She returns to WSAZ to co-anchor the station’s 5 PM newscast.

In addition to morning reporting, Barren was also part of the WKYC “Live on Lakeside” midday news magazine team.

Video of that show saying goodbye to her is here, and video from “Channel 3 News Today” is here

K-LOVE OR AIR 1: Just the other day, a regular reader asked us what was taking so long in the sale of Bernard Radio urban AC WRBP/101.9 “Jamz” in the Youngstown market to religious broadcasting giant Educational Media Foundation.

Today, we have an answer.

The Youngstown Vindicator’s Guy D’Astolfo reports that the sale of WRBP to EMF will close in January, and the local urban format on 101.9 will go away on December 30th…to be replaced by Christian radio on January 1st.

Quoting:

Jamz DJs have begun to tell listeners about the coming change.

“We’re saying goodbye on the air now, letting folks know we are going away,” said (station manager Skip) Bednarczyk. “Most of our listeners knew about the sale but assumed nothing would change.”

Those listeners obviously haven’t followed the history of EMF, which invariably changes newly acquired stations to one of its two satellite formats: “K-Love” (Christian contemporary) or “Air 1” (Christian rock).

And EMF already has a “K-Love” outlet serving the Mahoning Valley…rimshot WLVX/107.1 Greenville PA.

At this point, we don’t know if EMF will install “Air 1” on 101.9 on January 1st, or if there’ll be some sort of shuffle with the “K-Love” feed on 107.1.

But we do know, thanks to the Vindicator article, that WRBP’s move into the EMF fold will silence another Bernard Radio station in Youngstown:

As a result of the sale, Jamz 101.9’s sister station, (urban talk) WASN-AM 1500, will go off the air.

Jamz was the radio group’s money-maker, and it kept WASN afloat, according to Bednarczyk.

Without Jamz, there was no choice but to shut down WASN.

Unlike before, where EMF bought 107.1’s two AM sister stations (WGRP/940 Greenville PA and WLOA/1470 Farrell PA) and even ran “K-Love” on them for a while before selling them off, EMF did not purchase WASN. As a rule, despite stragglers like WNWT/1520 in the Toledo market, EMF has a distaste for AM radio.

The financial loss of the income from “Jamz 101.9” was apparently too much to consider keeping its AM daytimer sister station going after the sale…even if it was a place, Bednarczyk told the newspaper, where “the black community expressed its concerns and issues and had a dialog.”

Presumably, Bernard sister classic hits WGFT/1330 “Oldies 1330” is staying on the air. Though really, Bernard Radio’s sole purpose as an operating company is to keep radio stations going until the highest bidder comes along…

CHANGES IN SPORTS: Readers in the Youngstown radio market tell us that local hosts on Cumulus sports WBBW/1240 are hinting at upcoming programming changes.

The changes are no secret to anyone who reads this blog.

Cumulus will flip something on the order of 50-plus sports stations from ESPN to CBS Sports Radio, when the latter’s 24/7 feed starts in January. Cumulus is heavily involved in CBS Sports Radio in a joint venture.

Thus, the lineup on/name of “ESPN 1240” (and same for its Cumulus sibling across the PA border, “ESPN 96.7”) is going the way of the do-do bird at the end of the year.

We don’t know what Cumulus will call WBBW and WLLF/96.7 Mercer PA… perhaps they’ll adopt a “Fan” style name in markets where CBS doesn’t already have such a station…

HOLIDAY CHEER: And time for some public radio holiday cheer, now that the commercial stations that are going to play holiday music have started doing so in one form or another.

First, a release from “Ann’s Corner” about holiday themed music and programming at the aforementioned WKSU.

Then, we’ll have a note about a new stream at Ideastream public outlet WCPN/90.3 in Cleveland.

But, Ann goes first, as always. She sent us the release over a week ago, so some of the events have already passed…

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WKSU makes the season sparkle with a series of holiday-themed programs and classical and folk music streams for the month of December. Holiday music streams are currently available online or through WKSU’s iPhone and Android apps. Music moves to WKSU’s HD-2: Folk Alley and HD-3: Classical HD Radio channels on Dec. 10 with Christmas classical music being added with more frequency to general on-air broadcasts through Dec. 25. Access the music streams and find the complete holiday programming schedule online at www.wksu.org/features/holiday2012 .

Special, stand-alone programs start on Monday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. with a new installment of NPR’s Hanukkah Lights featuring Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz. The next week, evenings at 8 p.m. offer a variety of Christmas music, from early music on Monday and classic works on Tuesday and Wednesday to carols on Thursday and Celtic selections on Friday (which also hosts other folk shows until midnight).

On Saturday, Dec. 22, at 6 p.m., Garrison Keillor presents a holiday-centered A Prairie Home Companion (re-aired on Dec. 23 at 10 a.m.), followed by folk host Jim Blum’s annual mix of holiday music – new and old. The schedule for Sunday, Dec. 23, includes more public radio music programs for the holidays and Baroque Era Christmas with host David Roden.

On Christmas Eve morning, WKSU airs the traditional Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols live from King’s College in Cambridge. The Christmas Day celebration starts early with non-stop classical Christmas music beginning after NPR’s All Things Considered on Dec. 24 and airing until the return of Morning Edition at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 26.

Holiday observations continue on Dec. 26, at 8 p.m. with the Kwanzaa program, A Season’s Griot, hosted by storyteller Madafo Lloyd Wilson. Seasonal programming comes to an end on WKSU with the traditional New Year’s Day performance by the Vienna Philharmonic, live from the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein. The concert of waltzes, polkas and other lively tunes begins at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, with the orchestra under the baton of Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst.

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Now, it’s WCPN’s turn:

“Swingin’ Sounds of the Season” is a 24 hour a day holiday jazz music stream at
http://www.ideastream.org/holiday/swingin
The stream will run through New Year’s Day.

For a uniquely swingin’ and jazzy approach to holiday music – where no one gets run over by a reindeer – tune in! ideastream’s own jazz authority Dan Polletta has spent hours carefully blending classic holiday recordings by greats including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Dexter Gordon with new takes on seasonal songs from the likes of Carla Bley, Cyrus Chestnut and Wynton Marsalis that will help warm you up during the winter holiday season. With so many tunes randomly streamed, you’re assured a unique jazz combo every time you listen. Enjoy!

The Clear Channel Aftermath

We should be used to this by now, but you never get used to hundreds of broadcast professionals getting tossed out of their radio studios for Christmas.

Or any other time, really.

In what’s become a very sad tradition around this time of year, broadcast giant Clear Channel Media+Entertainment+Pork Rinds looked at its staffing levels in markets across the nation and said, “oh, we can do without these people” as the year comes to a close. (And really, anymore, we’re only half kidding about the “Pork Rinds”.)

But the job cuts were shocking here in Ohio.

Kasper

Kasper

The radio artist known only as “Kasper” had been a mainstay, a force at Clear Channel’s Cleveland top 40 outlet, WAKS/96.5 “Kiss FM”.

After a brief stint at the company’s Philadelphia top 40 outlet WIOQ “Q102”, Kasper (who was still voicetracking back to Cleveland) came back to Oak Tree, and not only returned live to “96.5 Kiss FM”‘s afternoon shift, but took assistant program director and music director stripes as well.

That move felt all the more important because WAKS fell under the oversight, programming-wise, of rock/talk WMMS/100.7 program director Bo Matthews. Kasper was a steady hand to help Matthews keep an eye on his second station.

And though we don’t have the numbers to back it up, as far as we know, Kasper’s afternoon drive show was quite popular in the appropriate demos.

Success apparently isn’t enough to save you from the job cut ax anymore, particularly if bean counters feel that assistant program directors are too much of an expense.

John Crenshaw

John Crenshaw

Though we don’t really cover Columbus these days, John Crenshaw is a long-time OMW reader.

He has extensive ties to Northeast Ohio, as the Edinburg native (“halfway between Akron and Youngstown”) worked extensively in all decent size Northeast Ohio markets before coming to Columbus. (You may have known him as “Big Dave” or some variant up here.)

“Big Dave” became Johnboy Crenshaw (JbC) and eventually rose within the hierarchy of Clear Channel Columbus to become operations manager of the entire cluster until last year, when changes landed him as the program director of country giant WCOL/92.3.

We don’t say “giant” lightly.

A quick look at ratings we can’t directly quote here shows WCOL at the top of the most recent PPM numbers in Columbus (6-plus), a position WCOL has frequently occupied in Central Ohio.

Dominant might not be strong enough a word to describe WCOL’s success…it’s one of the most successful large market country outlets in the nation.

Again, as in the case of fellow OMW reader Kasper, success apparently isn’t enough to save your job when the bean counters are calling the shots.

Sure, we’ve said that before, as have others, when large broadcast companies feel the need to cut a few hundred (or thousand!) employees all at once.

But not only is it the end of the year…Clear Channel is in a financial squeeze.

Owned by private equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, a recent financial report says the company has to deal with over $10 billion in debt.

From AllAccess.com:

MOODY’S INVESTORS SERVICE has issued a report that CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS is facing a stiff challenge in managing the more than $10 billion of debt that will come due in 2016. They write that the company may be forced into a restructuring of its balance sheet.

Tom Taylor, the respected radio industry reporter now putting out the excellent “Tom Taylor Now” E-mail newsletter, notes that Bain and THL may not own Clear Channel by that 2016 date anyway, since they’ve already held the company much longer than such equity firms usually stay in place.

But while the two private equity concerns still own Clear Channel, the bottom line is still foremost…and the company is likely moving towards even more direct syndication (Ryan Seacrest, its stable of Premiere talk stars, and more) and less local programming.

Rich Minaya

Rich Minaya

Out in this week’s cuts was one Rich Minaya, afternoon drive host at Clear Channel’s Miami talker, WIOD/610-and-FM-translator.

If you’ve been around Northeast Ohio and listening to talk radio for a long time, you might have heard Rich on the old WWWE/1100 “3WE”…but he was known as Rich Michaels when he hosted the mid-morning shift at 3WE.

The Miami station is advertising for “its next spoken word star” to replace Minaya.

If the Horseshoe Casino had a Radio Betting Window, we’d almost bet that the “local” host on WIOD will be Compass Media Networks’ Todd Schnitt, whose “Schnitt Show” has been based at sister talker WFLA/970 Tampa. The Tampa station stops airing him later this month.

Schnitt actually started his afternoon talk show on WIOD, while still back in Tampa doing morning drive on WFLA’s sister top 40 outlet WFLZ as “MJ Kelli” (his original job there). WFLA picked up the talk show later.

Schnitt, by the way, is heard weeknights from 10 PM until 1 AM on Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 in Akron.

Speaking of that station, this round of cuts appears to have concentrated on major and large market stations.

But it would be no surprise if another round of job cuts in the future visited Akron, Canton, Youngstown, and the like.

There was a side effect of the cuts in Youngstown.

Kasper was voicetracking afternoon drive on the company’s WAKZ/95.9 “Kiss FM” in his former home market, competing against his former radio home, now-Cumulus top 40 WHOT/101.1 “Hot 101”.

Another victim of this week’s Clear Channel budget cuts, “Flick”, was voicetracking nights on the Youngstown market “Kiss FM” outlet from the company’s “Kiss” outlet in Pittsburgh…where he was assistant program director/music director/afternoon drive host. He had originally worked at South Avenue as “95.9 Kiss FM”s night jock.

“Dave and Jimmy” in morning drive, Ryan Seacrest all day, anyone?

Whoever ends up in WAKZ’s afternoon drive shift probably won’t have the extensive knowledge and background Kasper had…of his hometown…

Chad And Larry

Two names have dominated local media news the past few days. Let’s start with the most recent update…

CHAD’S OUT: It was pure speculation in our last item…a prediction that comedian and Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7 afternoon co-host Chad Zumock would ride out the storm of an OVI arrest in Lakewood, his second in the past four years.

Here, let’s just see how wrong we were:

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…

Instead, Chad Zumock is on the outside looking in at Oak Tree (not the tree he’s charged with hitting), leaving “The Alan Cox Show” without a co-host in the multi-person afternoon drive show…except for on-air contributions by “Real World: DC” alumnus Lauren.

The E-mails and tweets came down fast and furious on Monday afternoon…Chad Zumock had been FIRED (their caps) as a result of his alleged drunk driving incident tangling with a tree.

“Dismissed” is the term we’ve heard from Oak Tree sources.

A good source of information on WMMS’ afternoon talk show is, well, WMMS’ afternoon talk show, where Alan Cox himself briefly addressed Zumock’s departure during the show’s Monday opening.

In the grand tradition of OMW, we’ll transcribe the important parts of Cox’s opening from the show’s podcast:

ALAN: (after noting Erika Lauren’s presence “behind the glass”) And, uh…Chad is no longer a member of this show.

Chad Zumock is gone from this program. He is no longer an employee of the company.

And, uh, I guess for anyone who’s tuning into the show, even five minutes late…you’re gonna miss all this.

So, T-Bag came into me before the show, and he said, “hey, how do you want me to deal with people who are, you know, they’re gonna be invariably calling about Chad, and what happened and blah-blah-blah.”

I said, “Well, there’s really not much for me to say. There really isn’t.”

ERIKA: It never was our business.

ALAN: It really wasn’t, no.

And I had pretty much the same information that everyone else had. On Friday, Chad was out, you know, and anybody who’s been reading the news online or whatever, I mean, you know as much as I do.

But, he had had a contract with the station and with the show, and as anybody with a contract knows, there are certain things in that contract that if they go awry, the thing gets voided.

So that’s pretty much the long and short of it. I wish the guy nothing but the best…

Cox went on to note that “for all the crap he took from the audience, it’s almost impossible to dislike Chad”…reminding listeners that Zumock was still doing standup comedy and has a Twitter presence, and eventually, Cox and Lauren said “the show much go on”.

Cox noted that Zumock’s official exit from the building came on the same day that he started his morning drive show on Clear Channel brother rock station WDTW-FM/106.7 “The D” in Detroit. “The Alan Cox Show” Cleveland cast is not connected to the Detroit show, which features just Alan Cox and music.

As for Zumock, he E-mailed a statement to Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s NewsChannel 5, which was posted on the station’s NewsNet5.com website:

Have you seen my mugshot yet? I’m pretty sure it’s worse than Nick Nolte’s. But I guess I now have my next comedy album cover, so I’ve got that going for me.

Please know I am taking this incident very seriously. I’m very sorry for all the damage this has caused.

I will say this: Working at WMMS was meant a lot to me on so many levels. I put my heart and soul into the show and I hope a lot of you saw that.

I bleed Cleveland. This is my city and the best people in the world live here. We love a good come back. Let me get my act together and I’ll show you a great come back.

Thank you, Chad Zumock

Tuesday afternoon, Zumock posted a longer statement on his Tumblr blog….

LARRY’S ALMOST OUT: Cleveland Indians owner Larry Dolan hasn’t YET sold regional sports network SportsTime Ohio to the News Corporation’s Fox Sports empire, but everyone short of the children’s magazine “Highlights” seems to be reporting that the deal is imminent.

We’ll pick from one article filled with the most details, the one written by Plain Dealer Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes.

Fox Sports Ohio is close to purchasing SportsTime Ohio for between $200 million and $250 million, said a source familiar with the negotiations. The sale could be completed by the end of December and would increase the Indians’ rights fees for broadcasting their games from $30 million to an estimated $40 million a year.

That end-of-the-year deadline, which we’ve also heard from our own sources, has a possible reason, says Hoynes:

Fox and STO reportedly want the deal done by the end of the year because of new tax ramifications in 2013.

Fox is obviously buying the network to regain the Indians TV rights, which Fox Sports Ohio had until 2006’s debut of the quasi-in-house SportsTime Ohio.

But Hoynes says Fox can’t just flip a switch and turn STO into dust:

There were rumblings that STO would cease to exist after Fox’s purchase, but it appears that Fox will need two networks in Ohio to carry its programming. STO is expected to exist in some form through the Indians’ 2013 baseball season because there might not be enough time between the sale and Opening Day for Fox to complete its takeover.

Separately, Hoynes notes that Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 has “a contract for the 2013 season” to be the Indians’ over-air TV home. SportsTime Ohio’s production facilities are currently housed in the WKYC “Digital Broadcast Center” at 13th and Lakeside.

In a final, brief note, Hoynes reports what’s already been all but officially announced here and elsewhere: the Indians radio play-by-play rights will return to Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100.

But as Hoynes notes, the deal has not yet been officially announced either by the team or Clear Channel.

We’re wondering if all this activity on the TV side of things is delaying things on the team side.

One other note: Hoynes says while Tribe radio team Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus are paid by the Indians, TV broadcasters Rick Manning, Matt Underwood and Al Pawlowski get their paychecks from SportsTime Ohio.

That has been a Distinction Without A Difference, until now…

Early December

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…