Of George, Nash And Other Stuff

It’s a “name” theme this time around for your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)…

GEORGE OF RESERVE SQUARE: Raycom Media CBS/MyNet combo WOIO/19-WUAB/43 has a new anchor who started this week, and he’s coming off a national stage.

George Smith was a reporter for sports TV giant ESPN for nearly 10 years, and moves to “19 Action News” as 4:30 PM and 5:30 PM weekday anchor (with Danielle Serino) and reporter for the station’s 10 PM news on “My43 The Block”, and the 11 PM news on “CBS 19”.

Smith’s “Action News” bio talks about what he did at the Worldwide Leader:

During his time there he covered four Olympic Games (Athens, Beijing, Vancouver and London), the NFL and many stories on the “news” side of sports.

His TV news and sports path took him to places including New York City, Boston, Oregon, and Houston after a print journalism career.

And George Smith’s bio shows he’s not exactly a stranger to Northeast Ohio:

Smith is a graduate of Oberlin College and serves on the board of the Heisman Club which supports Oberlin athletics. He’s active in alumni affairs and athletics at Oberlin College. While at Oberlin, he was an All-American in the 100-meter dash his senior year and was elected to Oberlin’s athletic Hall of Fame.

We don’t have the “19 Action News Anchor Scorecard” handy, but we believe Smith is the direct or indirect replacement for Paul Joncich.

We must have been On Hiatus(tm) when Joncich left Reserve Square. This past summer, he became the noon and afternoon anchor for CBS affiliate KLAS/8 in Las Vegas.

Of course, Smith isn’t the first journalist to trade a network gig for a local one in Cleveland. Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3’s Russ Mitchell left CBS News for the evening co-anchor/managing editor job at 13th and Lakeside…

CHRISTINE’S LEAVING: Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5” “Good Morning Cleveland” meteorologist Christine Ferreira is “heading home”.

A station memo says Christine is heading to her hometown in southeastern Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia to “pursue other interests” near her hometown.

(No, we don’t know if those other interests include a TV weather job in that certain rather large market nearby, but the Philly TV stations should be interested if that’s what she wants to do.)

We got word of this a couple of weeks and change ago, but Christine will continue at 3001 Euclid “through the month of February”…

NEW GRAPHICS ON LAKESIDE: Every once in a while, TV stations get the itch to change up their news graphics.

In 2013, you can change that to “TV station groups”, as nearly all major TV groups present a unified look on all of their owned and operated stations.

Find yourself in Phoenix, and a quick look at the news produced by ABC affiliate KNXV/15 will look familiar to you if you’re a WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5” viewer, as both stations are owned by Scripps.

So it is with mega-group Gannett, which is in the process of rolling out a new TV news look at all of its stations.

The new Gannett news look hit Cleveland’s WKYC this week, and thanks to a YouTube user we only know as “News89”, you can look at it even from afar:

If you’re a fan of TV news graphics and themes, you’ll probably find a lot to watch on “News89″‘s page…including other examples of the new Gannett graphics package.

The look is pretty utilitarian and minimalistic, or “clean and crisp” if you prefer. It incorporates the upcoming story slots that have previously aired in right-hand side graphics on some editions of “Channel 3 News”…

NASH FM 105.1?: If you were fearing for the loss of 30-plus year brand “K105” for Cumulus Youngstown market country powerhouse WQXK/105.1 Salem, relax a little.

The dust was kicked up earlier this week.

Cumulus made a big splash by returning the country music format to the nation’s largest market, turning the former WFME(FM)/94.7https://ohiomediawatch.wordpress.com/ Newark NJ (New York’s outlet for religious radio giant Family Radio) into country WRXP-to-become-WNSH “Nash FM”, giving the Big Apple its first full market country outlet in some 17 years.

How does that affect Northeast Ohio?

Cumulus is going “all in” with country music nationwide, and then some, planning to plant the “Nash” branding on anything from magazines to existing Cumulus country stations.

There are 83 such stations (with WNSH), and one is most certainly a powerhouse locally…the aforementioned “K105”, which has a grandfathered signal that pretty much reaches all of Northeast Ohio to some degree.

It is a dominant station in Youngstown, which counts many listeners from the Canton area and beyond…and even had a sales office in Canton when Cumulus and its predecessors owned now-Clear Channel rock WRQK/106.9.

(UPDATE 1/24/13 9:50 PM: K105 afternoon driver Heather Stevens tells us that the station has a Canton-area sales office in North Canton, though someone forgot to tell the station’s webmaster…)

Here’s the line that got people worried. It’s from an article in the Wall Street Journal.

The switch is part of an effort by Cumulus, the second-biggest radio broadcaster by stations after Clear Channel Communications Inc., to begin converting all of its now 83 country stations across the nation to the newly created NASH brand starting on Tuesday.

Nash FM 105.1? Say it ain’t so, Mr. Dickey!

OK, so it might not be so. Some clarification comes in a Wednesday article in Inside Radio, one of the most recent stops in Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey’s “Nash, We’re Really Serious About This” media tour:

With 83 country stations already, Cumulus Media could add to its roster. “We’ll be opportunistic,” Dickey says. “We have a unique position in this format and we’re going to leverage it.” In the meantime more stations will roll out the “Nash FM” brand. Some will use it as their handle, others with strong local positions like “99.5 The Wolf” KPLX, Dallas will refer to themselves as a “Nash station.” Some Cumulus country outlets will carry the 24/7 Nash FM programming, but many others will pick up vignettes, weekend programming and live music events. “The presence of the brand will be felt on all of our country stations,” Dickey says.

One would expect that the heritage K105 branding for WQXK would be considered a “strong local position” by Cumulus, so it appears likely you’ll hear wording like “K105, a Nash station” instead of a wholesale name change…

DENNIS AND FOX: It was almost like a punchline when we heard it (credit whoever put that in our head)…”Dennis Kucinich is going to work for Fox News Channel”.

But it was no joke, as the veteran Cleveland-area congressman, former Cleveland mayor, occasional presidential candidate and diehard liberal did indeed join the roster of contributors to the conservative-leaning TV news network.

While there are other liberal contributors to FNC, Dennis brings his own brand of populism to the staunchly right-leaning channel.

And Kucinich looks forward to that, he tells Plain Dealer Washington bureau chief Stephen Koff:

“All networks provide a service,” he said. “People who are familiar with my perspective know that I relish the opportunity to go into the lion’s den.

“I don’t yield to anybody on standing up for what I believe in,” he continued. “If all you do is talk to people who agree with you, how are you going to change anybody’s mind?”

Kucinich “likes to mix it up”, writes Koff.

We didn’t see his debut on FNC’s “The O’Reilly Factor” last week, so we’ll have to see how that phrase is defined in action with the Congressman’s new TV stint…

DANI’S FUNERAL: WKYC/3 assignment editor Danielle Fink, who died in a car accident last weekend (see earlier item below), will be remembered in services this coming weekend.

OMW reader Adam Gercak tells us that her funeral mass will be Saturday morning at 11, at the church she attended all her life and where she sang in the choir, Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church.

Calling hours for the woman so many in the local TV news world knew as “Dani” will be at Maher Melbourne Funeral Home, Friday from 5 to 8 PM.

Condolences to Danielle Fink’s family can be sent via the funeral home’s website

SKATING BACK: The National Hockey League’s billionaire owners and millionaire players finally decided how to share all these riches, so NHL hockey is back on the ice after a long lockout.

So, too, is Ohio’s only NHL team, the Columbus Blue Jackets…which returns to Northeast Ohio radio with the resumption of play.

A quick check of the websites of all three Cleveland/Akron area Blue Jackets affiliates shows the team’s games returning to the airwaves…including:

Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 Akron “Fox Sports 1350”
Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting talk WEOL/930 Elyria
Spirit Media talk/variety WELW/1330 Willoughby

On all three stations, the Columbus-based NHL team’s games are subject to being bounced off the air due to local high school, college or other professional sports…

PERCY’S QUEST: You’ve got to say this about former radio station owner Percy Squire…he doesn’t give up easily.

The former head of the Stop 26 Riverbend group, who lost his stations in bankruptcy proceedings to the D.B. Zwirn investment firm (headed by Daniel B. Zwirn, the major Stop 26 creditor), tried his hand at mucking up the current FCC proceedings of the Zwirn stations – operating under the name Bernard Ohio.

Radio Business Report reports that Squire was unsuccessful in challenging the license renewals of Bernard’s Youngstown market stations, including WRBP/101.9 Hubbard, WGFT/1330 Campbell, and WASN/1500 Youngstown and Bernard’s WVKO/1580 and WVKO-FM/103.1 in the Columbus market.

Squire also tried to block the sale of WRBP to Educational Media Foundation, the California-based Christian radio giant, and that station’s application for a main studio waiver (needed to run EMF’s satellite-fed formats without a local studio).

RBR notes:

Part of Squires objection was based on what it called an improper transfer of control when Fortress Investment Group took over hedge funds controlled by DBZ. It said that even if the licensee entered into an LMA with Fortress the situation was improper due to its assertion that Fortress was pulling all the strings at the stations.

It also said that there was foreign ownership in excess of the 25% limit.

Bernard responded that there weren’t any facts backing up Squire’s petition, and that the foreign ownership arguments were “virtually impossible to comprehend”.

Bottom line: RBR says the FCC turned away Squire, the license renewals for the Bernard stations were approved, and the sale of WRBP/101.9 to EMF was also approved.

FCC records show that the WRBP sale was approved on January 11th, and already show the station as repeating EMF’s KLVR(FM) Middletown CA, the nominal primary station for the company’s “K-Love” feed.

We’re told that EMF planted its younger skewing “Air1” Christian rock format on former “K-Love” Youngstown rimshot WLVX/107.1 Greenville PA…

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Remembering Danielle Fink, WKYC Assignment Editor

In the past, the tragic death of a TV newsroom assignment editor wouldn’t register with most members of the “general public”.

But for some very specific reasons, those beyond the local TV news community are mourning the death of Danielle Fink, who worked as an assignment editor for Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3…and earlier, she was employed by Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5.

Danielle’s home station reports that she died in a car crash in North Olmsted sometime late Saturday night/early Sunday morning.

Her biggest passion, sports-wise for a woman who was a passionate fan of Cleveland teams, was her hometown baseball team…and she was one of the biggest fans of the Cleveland Indians in the entire area.

We know this not from the various articles on her death, the one linked from her most recent employer above, and another by NewsNet5.com’s Tina Kaufmann…from the professional place Danielle called home before starting at 13th and Lakeside.

We know this not from inside sources at either building.

We know this not from Danielle’s blog from her WKYC assignment desk, “Swing By And Spray”.

No, we know this because Danielle Fink was an active participant in social media…who went by the Twitter handle “deskchick”, and we were most certainly one of her many Twitter followers. (The picture on this item is from Danielle’s Twitter account.)

We don’t know if Danielle became “deskchick” to fulfill a Gannett corporate policy, where just about every employee in the newsroom is expected to have an online and social media presence these days.

We do know that she took to it like the proverbial duck takes to the proverbial water.

And we know it’s that personal, vibrant embrace of social media that brought a TV news assignment editor over 1000 followers, and why her own newsroom and others have covered her death as not just the result of another fatal traffic accident in the suburbs.

We didn’t know Danielle Fink aside from reading her posts on social media. We did not communicate privately with her at all, in any form.

But OMW reader Adam Gercak knew her well, and perhaps a read of this excellent blog entry will give you an idea of what Danielle was “really like” (“her enthusiasm for life” was “infectious”, writes Adam).

And maybe you’ll realize why so many in local newsrooms and beyond mourn her today.

It seems proper to close with Danielle’s last tweet, sent early Saturday afternoon:

Danielle Fink @deskchick
Soooo glad I’m doing what I want & declared this the weekend of Daffodil! #Tribefest2013 #NHL New #NBCSNL Sunday #NFLPlayoffs #movienight
12:32 PM – 19 Jan 13

Welcome To A Busy 2013

And as usual when we start a new year, or return from a hiatus, there’s stuff waiting to land like so many airplanes.

We are probably missing a topic or three, so don’t be surprised if there’s a crash…we’ll pick up where we left off in a future update…

UPDATE 1:35 AM 1/5/13: Cox and Raycom have reached an agreement, and OMW social media followers tell us that the local stations, WOIO/19 and WUAB/43, are back in the Cox lineup.

Here’s part of what we originally wrote before Friday evening’s agreement…

THIS IS NOT CBS: A reported 65,000 subscribers to Cox Cable in 11 Cleveland suburbs went without CBS and MyNetwork TV programming since the start of 2013.

You read about them often, these programming cost disputes between TV station operators and cable systems…but they usually get solved, even at past-the-last-minute like two recent disputes involving Gannett, owner of Cleveland market NBC affiliate WKYC/3.

This one, involving Raycom’s stations including Cleveland market CBS affiliate WOIO/19 “CBS 19” and MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB/43 “My 43 The Block”, took the local stations off Cox’s Cleveland suburban lineup immediately after the ball dropped in Times Square…

TEMPORARY WEWS GM: We generally don’t get into personal medical details here, but it says something that Scripps, owner of local ABC affiliate WEWS/5, is bringing in an interim general manager to push the station into 2013.

That’s sister WCPO/9 Cincinnati VP/general manager Steve Thaxton, who heads to Cleveland as a temporary detour from his planned exit from Scripps to pursue a graduate degree.

Cincinnati Enquirer media guru John Kiesewetter writes:

Scripps executives asked if he “would remain with the company and serve as the interim General Manager at WEWS in Cleveland on a temporary basis as Sam Rosenwasser remains out on a medical leave of absence. I have agreed to do so and will use that time as a transition period for both the company and myself. I have committed to be in Cleveland next Monday as they have been without a General Manager for several weeks.”

By all accounts we’ve heard, Rosenwasser is well-liked at 3001 Euclid, and is missed in the building.

We give our sincere wishes that his medical situation turns into a full recovery, and that he’ll be welcomed back into that building soon…a wish shared by high-level Scripps executives.

As noted above, Thaxton starts his temporary role at WEWS on Monday…

CBS…SPORTS RADIO!: OK, so that’s not a good textual imitation of the new sports network’s jingle, but it’s all over the place after CBS launched its full-time schedule this week.

At midnight on Tuesday night-into-Wednesday morning locally, CBS sports WKRK/92.3 “The Fan” made the switch from Fox Sports Radio to its company’s own network, bringing a taste of mid-1990’s sports talk with Scott Ferrall’s “Ferrall on the Bench”. (He’s even using the same show name that he did in his first run with Westwood One.)

But at the same time, “92.3 The Fan” put the old “Radio 92.3” alt-rock format to rest on its HD2 channel, supplanting the music kicked off the main channel by sports talk with…sports talk.

WKRK/92.3 HD2 is now the 24/7 home of the national CBS Sports Radio feed, the “Radio 92.3” format announcing its exit on Twitter:

Tonight we say goodbye to our home on 92.3 HD2 and welcome CBS Sports Radio. Thanks for listening and have a prosperous 2013. Rock On!

And unlike many HD2 formats, “Radio 92.3” never added an Internet stream as a companion service, so it’s gone…presumably ceding the alt-rock battle to Clear Channel’s W256BT/99.1-WMMS/100.7 HD2, known better as “99X”, with a side to Murray Hill Broadcasting’s AAA/alt-rock WLFM-LP/6 87.7 “Cleveland’s Sound”.

That isn’t even the biggest news about CBS Sports Radio from the Halle Building in downtown Cleveland.

One of “92.3 The Fan”‘s biggest stars will have his own place on the network’s national lineup, as “Fan” afternoon drive co-host Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber will host on CBS Sports Radio nationwide from 10 PM-2 AM (ET) on Saturday nights.

Despite numerous questions posted by Adam’s Twitter followers, no, Adam “The Bull” is not leaving either Cleveland or WKRK, where he is paired with former Ohio State Buckeyes player and Canton native Dustin Fox on “Bull & Fox”.

The CBS Sports Radio show will be a sixth day in the host’s workweek, and will even be heard on the local “Fan” as well – give or take play-by-play sports runover, like Saturday’s coverage of the NFL playoffs that bumps Adam “The Bull”‘s national debut on 92.3 until about 11 PM.

As noted, the 24/7 network feed is not only on 92.3’s HD2 sidechannel now, but also online and via the CBS “Radio.com” app…

AND MORE SPORTS RADIO: The recent moves by CBS and others have shaken up the sports talk radio landscape in Northeast Ohio.

* CBS Sports Radio has displaced ESPN Radio on a number of Cumulus-owned stations, including Youngstown’s WBBW/1240 (extending that station’s local afternoon drive show ” “Ryan, Christian & Ellis” to a 3-6 PM time slot) and across-border WLLF/96.7 Mercer PA.

* It’s also played heck with sports talk host Jim Rome’s affiliate list, as “Romey” signed up with CBS Sports Radio after years with Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Networks.

In Cleveland, Rome stays (for now, at least) on Good Karma Broadcasting’s two sports talk stations – on WWGK/1540 “ESPN 1540 KNR 2” from noon to 1 PM (where he’ll be heard on parts of Euclid Avenue), then on WKNR/850 from 1 to 3 PM.

In Youngstown, Rome moves from Clear Channel sports WNIO/1390 “The Sports Animal” to WBBW, and will also be heard on WLLF.

In Akron, Rome loses his clearance on Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 “Fox Sports 1350”, and Rome fans in Cleveland lose a backup signal for the first hour of the show.

The Clear Channel-owned Fox Sports Radio affiliates are pretty much moving en masse to the network’s “replacement” for the Rome show – a new FSR show hosted by comedian and frequent Rome sub Jay Mohr.

Rome’s Premiere program was separately syndicated, and even full-time FSR affiliates didn’t automatically get “The Jungle”…so FSR filled its own satellite feed from noon-3 (ET) with a repeat of the network’s morning drive show.

As a practical matter, nearly all FSR affiliates also carried Rome. But with his departure, FSR is now programming the new Mohr show down the network line.

And yes, in Youngstown, Mohr was subbing for Rome the day that “The Sports Animal” debuted, wasting no time ripping Mahoning Valley native son Bernie Kosar, Mohr not knowing (or caring) that he was being heard for the first time on the radio in Bernie’s hometown of Boardman.

We don’t generally cover Columbus these days, but a brief note: the CBS Sports Radio Jim Rome affiliate list put out before the switch listed Wilks country WNKK/107.1 Circleville – a Columbus rimshot which ran Cleveland’s “Rover’s Morning Glory” in its days as CBS-owned alt-rock WAZU “The Big Wazoo”.

WNKK was later removed from the list, leading us to wonder if someone at CBS jumped the gun on a format change there that may, or may not, happen.

One other side note about CBS Sports Radio: it has taken one former Northeast Ohio radio personality off the air, at least for now.

Cumulus is heavily invested in the joint venture with CBS, and in Fort Smith AR, it decided to flip rocker KLSZ/100.7 “Rock 100.7” to CBS Sports Radio as “The Ticket”…and that flipped former Rubber City Radio country WQMX/94.9 personality George McFly off the air. He recently started doing afternoon drive for the station.

We believe George is “still employed”, judging from his social network updates, so we hope he lands safely in Arkansas soon…

THE COUGAR/MIX MYSTERY: Some of our own social network followers have been asking us about two signs visible at a shopping strip center across the street from the Kmart in Mentor.

The signs, pictured here in a photo sent by one of our Twitter followers, proclaim a presence for two radio stations – “Cougar 93.7” and “Mix 97.1”.

We think we’ve solved some of the mystery.

93.7, as reported here earlier, is the new FM frequency licensed to North Madison…won in a 2010 auction by South Shore Broadcasting, owned by Leslie and Chris Kidner. The station took the call letters WQGR (which would certainly be a good match for a radio station with the name “Cougar”) and has a construction permit now.

97.1 is owned by Ashtabula’s Media One Group (nee’ Sweet Home Ashtabula), and – when its full 50,000 watt signal is in operation, makes no secret of its desire to cover Lake County, which happens to be where Mentor is located. 97.1 is currently still using the name “Star 97.1”, but various websites indicate it’ll become “Mix 97.1” soon…like this site hosted on a page of the current “Star” site.

Where’s the connection?

Consider the Family Maduri.

Chris Maduri is a long-time Cleveland radio executive best known for his stint running CBS Radio’s Cleveland cluster. He’s now in a similar management role at the aforementioned WLFM-LP 6/87.7, which operates as a AAA/alt-rock radio station under the name “87.7 Cleveland’s Sound”.

Maduri’s wife Valerie is president of X-Factor Media, Chris Maduri is “managing partner” and both X-Factor and Valerie (with her first name misspelled) are listed on the WQGR FCC application. Both are listed as having no ownership stake in WQGR licensee South Shore.

And of course, Media One Group provides that final connection, as both Media One and WLFM have members of the Embrescia family present.

Others might take this further, speculating that 97.1 is being prepped for a move west towards Cleveland as an eventual radio replacement for WLFM-LP when, or before, it loses its analog TV license in 2015.

We have no evidence that this is about to happen…so we’re not moving the chess pieces around. We’ve also been told numerous times that the 97.1 signal can’t really get close enough to Cleveland to be a credible rimshot.

Last time we did this sort of FCC sleuthing with the Ashtabula group, we got a nastygram from someone there, and no help to correct whatever they think we got wrong.

Our gut tells us that South Shore intends to superserve Lake County with its new “Cougar 93.7”, something Media One has tried to do for years with that big 97.1 signal out of Ashtabula…and that shopping center across from the Mentor Kmart is a good place to place a Lake County presence for both stations, no matter what their formal or official relationship…

NEW STATUS: As we reported here earlier, it’s finally happened…with the new year, now-Ideastream owned classical outlet WCLV/104.9 has moved to non-commercial status.

Long-time WCLV president, co-founder and regular OMW reader Robert Conrad explains the change for listeners on the station’s website, after mentioning the success of many non-commercial classical outlets elsewhere:

And given the volatility in all media these days, it has become apparent that WCLV’s future also lies in the land of listener and community support. So on January 1, 2013, WCLV became the nation’s newsst public radio station. This completes the transition of WCLV into the ideastream
family and now gives listeners who appreciate classical music on the radio as well as businesses, foundations and other organizations, the opportunity to support this institution which has become so much a part of the quality of life in the greater Cleveland area.

Yes, commercial free doesn’t mean “free”, so the station moves into asking for donations and support…you’ll find a link to do so on that page.

When the move to non-commercial status under Ideastream was first announced, we speculated openly that the change would allow WCLV’s signal to be heard on Ideastream NPR outlet WCPN/90.3’s HD2 channel, and sure enough…Robert Conrad tells OMW that it has happened with the New Year:

One big piece of news, WCLV’s programming is now being carried on 90.3WCPN’s HD 2 channel, making it possible for listeners in Geauga and Lake Counties who lost WCLV’s singal when it went to 104.9 to receive it once again with an HD radio.

Of course, with WCLV in commercial mode before 2013, putting its signal on non-commercial WCPN’s HD2 channel would not be possible…

A QUICK VISIT: Electronically, that is, with Rubber City Radio Group owner/general manager Thom Mandel, who talked about his Cleveland market station with Plain Dealer columnist/”The Minister of Culture”/brother of a famous actress Michael Heaton.

Mandel goes into the process which led the Akron-based company to change back to “The Wave” identity from Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting’s last format on the station, AAA “V107.3”:

And we found that most of the folks we identified as being listeners of Adult Alternative thought they were getting it from other stations. No one told us they thought they could find it on 107.3. What we also found was that, even though it had been off the air for two years, “The Wave” was still Cleveland’s third-best-known radio brand name, after “Majic” and “The Buzzard.” Whatever we did, we knew we had to bring back the name.

Mandel also offers up an opinion about what happened to “V” (“advertisers couldn’t figure out who or what they are. The ratings sucked.”) and notes that everything that could go wrong for the station did, including the economic crash.

He also explains the differences between the current “Wave” and the ELB-launched smooth jazz format which preceded “V107.3” for decades, saying the current incarnation of WNWV is “a lot more multidimensional (than) it was”.

The “Wave” owner gives props to his staff, including middayer Mark Ribbins, a “Wave” veteran recently named operations manager for the station since it moved to Independence as the Cleveland arm of Rubber City Radio.

The article doesn’t mention Mandel’s Akron cluster, which includes oldies/news WAKR/1590, rock WONE/97.5, country WQMX/94.9 and online operations including the news site AkronNewsNow.com. Heaton only notes that Bath Township resident Mandel “has been in the radio business for more than 35 years, virtually all of it in Northeast Ohio”…

*** BREAK! BREAK! *** This is a long item, and the remainder of it is primarily about the Youngstown market, though there is a Cleveland connection to the next item. Time to rest your eyes, and if you have no interest in the Mahoning Valley, we’ll see you next time…

HE’S RETIRING, NOT DICK: As a long-time viewer of Cleveland TV news, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) remembers Mark Koontz as the weekend/backup meterologist to Cleveland TV legend Dick Goddard on WJW/8 (now Local TV’s “Fox 8”).

It was said more than once that Koontz was waiting around South Marginal Road, perhaps hoping to take over the top spot at WJW when Goddard retired, which of course, he hasn’t, even now after 50-plus years on local TV and over 80 years on the planet.

That presumably led Mark to a job to the southeast of Cleveland, where he joined Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21 Youngstown as a weekend meteorolgist in 2002 and took over the station’s top weather spot in 2007.

He’s now retired, before Goddard, even.

Koontz’s last day at WFMJ was Friday, and he’ll be replaced by former AccuWeather senior meteorologist Mark Wilhelm…a New Philadelphia native and a graduate of tOSU (The Ohio State University).

WFMJ is also announcing that Jess Briganti officially takes the morning weather spot on the station’s “WFMJ Today” morning show…she’s been there on a fill-in basis after the departure of Mark Monstrola…

NOT K-LOVE OR AIR 1, YET: California-based Christian radio mega-operator Educational Media Foundation was supposed to take over control of Bernard Radio’s urban WRBP/101.9 Hubbard, and change the Valley station’s format to one of its satellite formats…but that hasn’t happened yet.

Since the first of the year, numerous listeners tell us that 101.9 has been playing not “K-Love” or “Air 1”, or the previous “Jamz” urban format, but…the Sounds of Silence, and we’re not talking about the Simon & Garfunkel hit.

What happened?

It’s been pointed out to us that FCC records show that EMF’s applications to take over 101.9 and to change it to non-commercial status are still in the pending “ACCEPTED FOR FILING” mode. For that matter, the station’s May 2012 license renewal filing shows the same status.

Now, the EMF folks could well work up a programming agreement to put one of their formats on WRBP until the sale closed, but they apparently haven’t done so. EMF programmed “K-Love” on then-Beacon Broadcasting’s WEXC/107.1 (now WLVX) Greenville PA while awaiting their purchase of that station to close.

We’ve heard that the original intent was to launch one of the EMF formats on 101.9 right after the calendar changed to 2013.

So, we don’t know why they haven’t done so with 101.9, and we still don’t know for sure if the current WRBP will relaunch with “K-Love” (still heard on 107.1) or “Air 1” as a complimentary format to that PA rimshot signal.

We do know that Bernard’s urban talk/AC WASN/1500 Youngstown is noting its last day on the air on its website, January 31st. (We aren’t nearly close enough to the signal to know if it’s still on the air at this writing.)

The rumor mill says either WASN, classic hits WGFT/1330 Campbell “Oldies 1330” or both will end up in new ownership hands, and that one of the stations will be paired with FM translator W233AI/94.3 Niles.

That translator is in the process of being sold to Helen Bednarcyk, who is (as far as we know) the wife of Bernard’s general manager in Youngstown, Skip Bednarcyk.

The 94.3 translator would certainly be upgraded from the current 2 watt licensed power level at 2 meters (!) to a much more powerful signal, up to the translator limit of 250 watts. Such a signal could cover much of the populated area of the Mahoning Valley.

What happens to the 1500-or-1330/94.3 combo when all the pieces are in place?

Well, there’s certainly an urban hole in the market with the move of Bernard’s 101.9 to Christian format operator EMF…a hole that Sagittarius Broadcasting’s WHTX/1570 Warren is going to try to fill to some degree, if only on AM.

If it hasn’t happened already, the standards outlet now owned by Nelson Cintron plans to flip to the urban AC format “The Touch”, which was heard in Akron on then-WTOU/1350 back right after Jaybird Drennan and the “Whistler” country format went away. (The station is now, of course, Clear Channel sports WARF/1350 “Fox Sports 1350”, see above item about Jay Mohr.)

“The Touch” is a satellite 24/7 format offering from Cumulus Media, and 1350’s use of the format was so long ago that ABC Radio/SMN ran the format then…