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…

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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”…

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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.

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…

Letting Some Out

This may be one of our final blog updates of 2012, though we will continue to update our social media presence with breaking media-related news.

No, not actual breaking news, as some of our E-mailers (not readers) haven’t figured out…

CLEVELAND RADIO HISTORY INTO HISTORY: As we write this, early Sunday morning, the storied Cleveland media address “One Radio Lane” is no longer occupied by, well, any radio stations.

CBS Radio’s local operations in Cleveland have been split between two locations for some time.

At the Halle Building in Playhouse Square, it’s been “the wall of men” – male audience grabbers…classic rock WNCX/98.5 and sports WKRK/92.3 “The Fan”.

At One Radio Lane, on a sketchy part of St. Clair Avenue near 26th Street, it’s been the “wall of women” – female audience stalwarts…AC WDOK/102.1 “New 102” and hot AC WQAL/104.1 “Q104”.

Here comes some co-ed housing.

Tuesday after “New 102’s” morning show with Trapper Jack and Jen Toohey, WDOK(shhh) went live from its new studios at the Halle Building.

“Q104” followed suit later in the week, bringing all of CBS Radio’s Cleveland properties under the same former legendary department store roof.

There’s a lot of radio history at One Radio Lane, and “New 102” midday personality Kory (the first WDOK voice from the Halle), evening personality Jaci Fox and “Infoman” Jim McIntyre weigh in with their observations and memories on the station’s website.

Though CBS Radio has only been using the building since the mid-1990s, McIntyre points out that One Radio Lane’s radio history goes clear back to 1969, when WABQ and WXEN broadcast from the St. Clair Avenue building.

OMW hears that CBS has repurposed two existing production studios at the Halle Building to bring the four stations under the same roof, and we’re told it’s a tight fit.

The move is actually a return to the Halle Building for “New 102″‘s Jaci Fox, who worked for 92.3 in its alt-rock “Radio 92.3” days…then segued to on-air control room producer for “92.3 The Fan’s” afternoon drive “Bull and Fox”…

STOPPING THREE DAYS: We’ve talked about the speculation both here and on our social media presence, but it looks like rumors could be turning into reality, and soon.

Could Cleveland become the largest American city without a daily newspaper?

Readers here are well aware that the parent company of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Advance Publications, has converted local newspapers to three-day-a-week publication schedules in places like New Orleans.

We always thought it was a matter of time before that sort of move would come to Cleveland…and the “time” may be early next year.

Unlike Advance’s other projects, one of the Plain Dealer’s unions got out ahead of the news…and is urging people, and area leaders, to show their support for a seven-day newspaper.

Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3’s “Channel 3 News” ran a story by Tom Beres on the union’s effort (Gannett, of course, owns many newspapers elsewhere, including the national USA Today)…and the Plain Dealer itself then picked up the story about itself.

Ombudsman Ted Diadiun weighs in on the paper’s coverage of itself, and the union’s campaign, here.

The Newspaper Guild Local 1 effort also expands to a Facebook page.

What’s a good timeline if you’re trying to guess when Advance has in mind to make possible changes? This, from the WKYC story:

Members of the Newspaper Guild at the Plain Dealer say they have been told changes and layoffs are coming but have not been told specifics.

The Guild has an agreement preventing any layoffs until January 31, 2013.

To many people under a Certain Age, used to getting information at light speed online, the very notion of printing news on newsprint and distributing it to the front door may seem quaint.

But though Cleveland is an older market than some, we aren’t putting any bets on Advance keeping the Plain Dealer Dead Trees Edition around seven days a week…

TOM PASSES ON: There aren’t many radio stations in America whose web pages have two hosts listed under “In Memoriam”.

But the rough year continues for the folks at Broadcast Park, the Akron area home of Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron”.

Evening host Tom Erickson, after a long hospitalization, died November 3rd.

The station, already recovering from the death of iconic midday host Howie Chizek, mourned the loss of one of its hosts for the second time this year.

On Tom’s “In Memoriam” page, a nod to his affection for space, science and otherworldly issues:

We’ll miss listening to T.E. “til eleven” but we can still tune into Tom on any starry night…just look up!

After initially saying no event would be held to mark Tom’s passage, his family has set up a remembrance.

We’ll let daughter Heather Nagel describe this weekend’s event:

To celebrate Tom’s life, his children Heather and Erik Nagel will be hosting a Celebration of Life gathering to honor a man who loved this community and the people in it. The gathering will be held on Sunday November 18, 2012 from 3-6pm at Roses Run, 2636 North River Rd, in Stow.

This gathering will be a chance to celebrate Tom with great memories and smiles for all family, friends, and listeners. The gathering will be held thanks to support from Roses Run and Ripper Owens Tap House, two places that Tom enjoyed very much.

Let us all remember Tom together with the zest for life that he enjoyed the last 40 years as a member of our local media and community.

For now, it appears frequent station fill-in Jim Isabella is handling the bulk of Tom’s schedule, except perhaps for Friday evenings…Isabella is a sports correspondent for the Akron Beacon Journal.

As he has been before, AAA WAPS/91.3 “The Summit” host and former WNIR fill-in Bill Hall has been handling Friday evenings, and at least one Saturday afternoon.

We don’t know what WNIR will do to permanently fill the 7-11 PM weeknight/4-7 PM Saturday shift.

Of course, WNIR hired long-time Howie Chizek regular caller John “Couch Burner” Denning to replace the late Mr. Chizek. And no, we’re not doing any reviews…

MORE ALAN: It turns out that, without much surprise, Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7 afternoon drive host Alan Cox has signed a contract renewal.

Cox addressed the issue on the air on his show…noting that the company basically split the contract length difference with him – Clear Channel wanted three years, Cox said, and he wanted a one year deal, so it ended up being two years.

In addition to WMMS’ “Alan Cox Show”, he’ll end up doing morning drive on a Clear Channel FM station in Detroit.

We believe the station is rock WDTW/106.7 “The D”, and Cox said his Detroit show will be a regular, music-oriented program as opposed to his talk show in Cleveland.

Alan Cox has ties to the Detroit area…and though he told listeners that he’ll generally be doing that show from Cleveland, he’ll occasionally be in Detroit and do his WMMS show from there – with the rest of the “ACS” cast, including Chad Zumock and Erika Lauren, back at Oak Tree, talking to a chair.

As OMW readers know, Alan Cox is no stranger to a “side gig” within the Clear Channel universe…having been featured on a St. Louis rock station for some time…

COPPER THIEVES: Hoping to make a killing selling stolen copper, thieves often target radio station transmitter sites…where if they’re not careful, the killing they make could be suicide.

This U.S. Attorney’s office news release out of Cleveland says two people, Thomas M. Carbone and Katie M. Stanton were charged with “the malicious destruction of federally-licensed communications lines” in a federal indictment.

The facility hit in August is Radio One gospel WJMO/1300’s North Royalton site, and after the damage and theft, the release says:

This unlawful removal of copper depleted the signal strength of the supported radio station, thereby impeding the station’s ability to broadcast emergency messages, according to the indictment.

Emergency repairs cost nearly $11,000 while permanent repairs will cost an estimated $125,000, according to the indictment.

Those doing such mischief often don’t realize that as a broadcast station is a federally-licensed facility, their misdeeds escalate rather quickly into a literal “federal case”…

YOUR 92.3 THE FAN LATE NIGHT LINEUP: When word came out that CBS Radio was launching its own 24/7 sports radio network, we quickly sounded the death knell for Fox Sports Radio in the overnight hours at CBS’ local jock talker, WKRK/92.3 “The Fan”.

Not that it took a crystal ball to realize that, of course, but it’s now official.

The network has its full late night lineup, with Boston’s Damon Amendolara’s “D.A. Show” going national from 2-6 AM (ET).

The CBS press release for the new show specifically mentioned a number of large market affiliates, including “92.3 The Fan”.

D.A. will be preceded on CBS Sports Radio by none other than Scott Ferrall and his “Ferrall on the Bench”, presumably to be picked up locally by WKRK at midnight weekdays following Ken Carman’s local show.

Ferrall had a previous syndication run, and is currently heard on Sirius XM’s Howard Stern channels.

Again, don’t expect CBS Sports Radio long-form shows, even the show hosted by the soon-to-move-from-Premiere Jim Rome, to replace local shows on the company’s large market sports talkers (including WKRK).

In fact, we hear that Nanci “The Fabulous Sports Babe” Donnellan, a former syndicated host once rumored to be going national out of Tampa, will maintain her live-and-local 2-6 AM show on that city’s “Fan” sports talker…and won’t be bumped by “The D.A. Show”…

FREE PUBLICITY: We’re reminded of an early “WKRP in Cincinnati” episode.

“Big Guy” Arthur Carlson was reluctant to spend any money to promote the lagging station which had just flipped from elevator music to rock.

When program director Andy Travis suggested some sort of publicity stunt (“a free one, right?” said Carlson), they eventually got media coverage over protesting senior citizens upset that their easy listening music went away.

Well, no one’s protesting in the lobby of the Agora, where Murray Hill Broadcasting AAA/alt-rock WLFM-LP/87.7 (6) is operating as “Cleveland’s Sound”.

But they are getting some free publicity.

Placing himself next to Shena Hardin on the second day of her court imposed sentence for driving around a school bus, WLFM morning man Archie Berwick got himself on at least two TV stations and in the Plain Dealer.

Quoting the PD:

And a radio station personality stood beside her with a sign that read, “If she’s an idiot, so am I.” Archie Berwick, who said he is with WLFM FM/87.7, said everyone has made mistakes, and it’s insulting to call someone an idiot.

The original court ordered sign held by Hardin said: “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.”

As for Archie’s presense…it was a media circus, why not a court jester?

Though Archie did not wear a station T-shirt and his only sign with the (handwritten) station name was a smaller piece of paper he held in his hand, the station (at least, if not Archie) had publicity in mind.

A few hours after his appearance, the “Cleveland’s Sound” website had an article written by Archie, with a picture presumably taken by a station staffer.

(Note: As of this writing, the article and picture have been removed.)

The upstart, top-of-the-dial rocker also got some free local publicity on “The List”, the Scripps-produced evening show airing on 6 of the company’s stations, including WEWS/5 locally.

Local “List” reporter Mike Brookbank featured WLFM on a recent “Around Town” segment, the local insert to the otherwise national show.

As we said on social media, it’s after the porcupines. Or at least the mention of same…

HO HO EARLY: The leader in the Northeast Ohio Christmas Music On The Radio Parade is no surprise.

After all, Clear Channel AC WHOF/101.7 “My 101.7” in the Canton market is traditionally one of the earliest Christmas Flippers (as opposed to Christmas Slippers).

And now, Cleveland has joined the fun.

CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 “New 102” took the holiday music turn and the holiday name “Christmas 102” on Friday afternoon, and hours later, Clear Channel classic hits WMJI/105.7 “Majic 105.7” joined in…proclaiming itself “Cleveland’s Christmas Music Station”.

Down the Ohio Turnpike a few dozen miles east-southeast, we hear that WMJI’s-sister-joined-at-the-hip classic hits WBBG/106.1 “Big 106.1” in the Youngstown market is also in Sleigh Bells mode, which they’ve done around the holidays for at least 10 years…

IF A STATION GOES OFF THE AIR, AND NO ONE HEARS IT…: Melodynamic Broadcasting’s WCER/900 Canton has been silent for some time, and now it’s added the scarlet FCC letter “D” (deleted) to its call sign.

A tip of the hat to Cleveland Classic Media’s Tim Lones for noticing that sometime last month, the FCC issued the radio license death penalty to the Canton station.

You can read the FCC’s letter to Melodynamic here (PDF).

After dumping its talk format, WCER lit up briefly as “Joy 900”, the new home of Curtis A. Perry III’s gospel format (in a presumed LMA).

But at some point, it went off the air again…Perry resurfacing on his old station, Pinebrook Corporation’s WINW/1520, with a revival of “Joy 1520”.

Like WCER, there was a “D” in front of WINW’s call letters for some time…but Pinebrook owner Patrick Barb was able to convince the FCC to reinstate the signal after various issues with mail and correspondance.

FCC records show that WINW is running 250 watts from a temporary long-wire antenna, just north of the heart of downtown Canton on Cleveland Avenue…

Mr. Stark County High School Sports Passes Away

When pretty much everyone agrees that your name is synonymous with your chosen lot in life, you’re an icon.

WHBC's Jim JohnsonThat certainly applied to Jim Johnson, who symbolized coverage of high school sports in Stark County for decades. His long-time employer, NextMedia talk WHBC/1480 Canton, reports Johnson’s death.

Johnson retired from WHBC in 2007 after a 29 year run covering thousands of high school and other sports events. His total career length? 43 years.

Quoting WHBC’s own news story on Johnson’s death:

Long-Time WHBC Sports Director and play-by-play man, Jim Johnson has passed away. Jim started his career with WHBC back in August of 1978, retiring after 29 years in June of 2007. He spent 43 years in broadcasting in Canton, Alliance, Akron and Urichsville. He graduated from Newcomerstown High School and Bob Jones University. He also served 6 years in the national guard. Jim broadcast more than 2000 high school football and basketball games filling in for Joe Tait, and was the M-C of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies from 1988 to 1998 when ESPN took over the job. Jim is survived by his daughter Michelle and son Mike. His wife Nancy recently passed away.

The item mentions one thing that might make Johnson familiar with those north of Belden Village Mall – his stint on the Cleveland Cavaliers Radio Network. Johnson was heard calling Cavaliers basketball from 1989 to 1992.

But you didn’t even have to know him to know that Jim Johnson’s first love was high school sports. And his second love. And his…you get the idea.

WHBC program/news director Pam Cook tells the Canton Repository that Jim Johnson “was” high school football:

“He didn’t care about pro or college sports; to him there was nothing like high-school sports. He had his chances to go on to bigger and better things; he chose to stay here and do high-school sports.”

Cook tells the Repository that Johnson died after a lengthy illness at an Alliance care center.

Our sincere condolences to our friends at Market South on the loss…

All Over The Map

UPDATE 12:10 AM 10/11/12: Jim Davison tells OMW that he will continue as operations manager of WHTX/1570 Warren, which will continue in its current standards format as “The Fabulous 1570” and retain its current staff and features.

Jim also confirms that WYCL/1540 Niles has changed from classic country to a Spanish-language format as of Tuesday afternoon…

—–

We’re catching up again with a wide variety of media items, both in kind and location…

DISH DEAL: Viewers to Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3, and visitors to the station’s WKYC.com, were warned…if the broadcast chain didn’t reach a deal with the folks at Dish Network, Channel 3 could disappear from that satellite service by October 8th…that was this past Monday (early morning).

When midnight came and went with WKYC still available to Dish Network subscribers, we wondered what was going on.

As it turns out, the parties extended their negotiations into Monday morning, and finally announced a deal had been reached…meaning WKYC and other Gannett stations were never removed from the Dish lineup.

Beyond the brief press releases from each side, there’s a story.

Yes, it’s the Hopper DVR, a Dish Network box that can zap commercials automatically from network prime-time programming (“AutoHop”), the same feature CBS honcho Les Moonves recently said “cannot exist”.

We’ll let Variety’s Jill Goldsmith explain:

Gannett’s retransmission deal with Dish expired at midnight Sunday, and the disagreement was resolved by Monday morning with no blackouts but a significant rate increase to cover Dish’s controversial Hopper DVR feature, which lets viewers watch network primetime shows commercial free the day after they air. Broadcasters have sued for copyright infringement, and a judge in Los Angeles is considering a request for a preliminary injunction.

Dish had said that Gannett was looking for a “300 percent” increase in retransmission fees, the extra fees presumably to make up for the Hopper’s “AutoHop” feature serving up shows without commercials.

As the court case and Mr. Moonves’ statement would indicate, this will probably not be the last such fight.

But for now, Dish Network customers in the Cleveland TV market won’t lose WKYC and NBC programming…

THE SHARON HAS LANDED: You knew that when controversial anchor Sharon Reed left Reserve Square, she’d land somewhere else…eventually.

That “somewhere else” is St. Louis.

The former Raycom CBS/MyNet WOIO/19-WUAB/43 “19 Action News” anchor has nabbed a prime gig in the Gateway City…5, 6 and 10 PM co-anchor at Belo CBS affiliate KMOV/4. The station itself announces her impending arrival, with an October 30th start, here.

What KMOV does not mention is something local viewers and OMW readers know all too well…her nationwide notoriety for removing her clothes on camera in WOIO’s now-infamous “Body of Art” series.

That’s covered by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joe Hollerman:

Reed made national headlines in 2004 when she agreed to be recorded disrobing for artist Spencer Tunick’s nude group photo shoot in Cleveland. Reed was covering Tunick’s shoot for WOIO Channel 19. The segment reportedly sent ratings through the roof and earned Reed an appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Yes, Sharon Reed will always be known as “The Naked Anchorwoman”.

And with that, we’re done poking fun at Ms. Reed, a capable journalist who has made some questionable career choices in her past.

You won’t see us talking about her again unless she makes more such choices in Missouri…or if she gains positive national attention for her journalistic skills…

STO AND FRANCONA: Unless you’ve been under a rock the past few days, you know that former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona has been hired to manage the Cleveland Indians.

All of Cleveland’s sports-oriented radio stations, Clear Channel talk and Indians flagship WTAM/1100, Good Karma sports WKNR/850 and CBS Radio sports WKRK/92.3 “The Fan”, covered Francona’s introductory press conference on Monday live.

TV stations kept to regular programming for the most part (many streaming the press conference online), but SportsTime Ohio also carried the Francona press conference live.

That’s no surprise, considering that STO is owned by the Dolan family, owners of the Indians.

What was a surprise to us is how the local regional sports network (RSN) handled the press conference.

At the scheduled 11 AM start of Francona’s press conference, it hadn’t begun yet…so STO dutifully played the scheduled “Zumba Fitness” infomercial.

A few minutes later, just before Francona and Indians general manager Chris Antonetti took to the stage, STO broke in with a very brief introduction by the network’s Ashley Collins…and then a live shot of the empty stage (with reporters seated in front of it).

When the press conference was finished, Collins came on again, and basically just said goodbye. STO cut back immediately to the infomercial then in progress.

Is this any way to run a sports network connected to the team itself?

Our social media suggestion was for STO to go on at 11 straight up with one of its primary hosts, with discussion and walk-up to the press conference, and a recap afterwards.

If Bruce Drennan, Chuck Galeti or Al Pawlowski weren’t around, maybe they could have borrowed whichever sports anchor was elsewhere in the WKYC building…WKYC is, after all, the Indians over-air TV home.

It wasn’t Ashley Collins’ fault.

And there was clearly some preparation by the SportsTime Ohio folks…the network put numerous explainer graphics onscreen during the press conference itself. (And they could have even printed out that material shown onscreen and given Ms. Collins something to talk about.)

No, if you tuned into STO at 11 AM expecting the Francona press conference, you’d have learned of a remarkable way to firm up your abs. (We don’t know if Zumba Fitness is any good, we’re just making an offhand comment…)

BACK IN THE JUNGLE: You read it here on OMW…when Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850” scooted the first hour of Premiere’s “Jim Rome Show” over to its half-lung sister, er, brother station, WWGK/1540 “KNR2” (we call it “Puny 1540”), WKNR “The Really Big Show” midday ringmaster Tony Rizzo was taken out of the fill-in rotation for Rome.

He’s baaaack.

In what sounded like a very last minute decision, Rizzo and co-host Aaron Goldhammer filled in for Rome…today, Wednesday, October 10th.

Rizzo was open about the situation to his once-again national audience, explaining that management’s decision to expand “The Really Big Show” to 1 PM bounced Rome’s show off of 850 AM…and bounced Rizzo off the fill-in list.

The move had one odd effect: With its own Tony Rizzo hosting the Rome show, the show’s first hour returned to 850 for one day. (It was also airing in its usual place on “KNR2”.)

Rizzo even joked about how many people Rome’s producers had to call for the emergency fill-in before finally turning to him.

Of course, as we’ve already reported, “The Jim Rome Show” moves to the CBS Sports Radio network next January…

WREO UPDATE: An OMW reader tells us that Media One hot AC WREO/97.1 Ashtabula “Star 97.1” has indeed returned to the airwaves outside Ashtabula County.

As we mentioned earlier, massive antenna destruction by a storm has meant that WREO wasn’t being heard much past Geneva or Conneaut…and now, presumably, it’s back on the air for listeners in Lake County and in Erie PA.

Just don’t get used to that familiar “Star” handle.

Domain supersnoop Lance Venta at RadioInsight tells us that the domain mix971fm.com has been registered by Media One’s Roger McCoy, program director of two sister stations – country WYBL/98.3 “The Bull” and classic hits WZOO/102.5 “Magic Oldies”.

Mix 97.1 logoFurther snooping by Lance revealed a starter Facebook page for “Mix 97.1”, complete with a logo…shown here.

(We don’t know for sure that it’s connected with the Ashtabula stations, though the page says “A community page for WREO-FM” – usually marked on non-official sites compiled by Facebook itself.)

The “Mix” handle would certainly fit with WREO’s existing hot AC format, and it’s not even being used in Cleveland anymore…the old WMVX/106.5 “Mix 106.5” having transformed into adult hits WHLK/106.5 “The Lake”…

CHRIS SELLS OFF: Long-time OMW reader Chris Lash is no longer a radio station owner in the OMW coverage area.

Chris’ Whiplash Radio is selling its two Mahoning Valley stations, classic country WYCL/1540 Niles “The Farm”, and standards WHTX/1570 Warren “The Fabulous 1570”. FCC filings indicate that Whiplash sold the stations to Nelson Cintron Jr.’s Sagittarius Communications LLC for $150.000.

The sale means that another OMW reader – Jim Davison – will no longer be operating the Youngstown market AM pair for Whiplash. Jim and his partner Laurel Taylor started off LMAing 1540, and later added 1570 to their oversight.

Chris gave OMW the following statement:

“For the first time in 13 years, my company doesn’t own a radio station. My family and doctors are hoping to keep it that way. I want to wish Nelson and his company all the best with our former Youngstown stations.

And I want to thank Jim Davison and his staff for doing such a great job with the stations during their LMA period. Jim has become a great friend, and besides being one of the foremost authorities on Cleveland radio history, he proved that he can be a very good operator of a radio station.

I’ve retired to Florida, and we’ll see what the future holds with the radio business. I will always have the passion for it.”

We can’t check from here, but OMW hears that WYCL/1540 may have already flipped to a Spanish-language format.

And that’s no surprise, considering that former Cleveland City Council member Cintron has been involved in the Cleveland market’s newest Spanish-language radio station, non-commercial WHWN/88.3 Painesville.

(The FCC application indicates that he has 33% of WHWN’s ownership…we presume he divested the rest so he could buy two commercial radio stations…) A quick check of the FCC ownership records for WHWN shows that Cintron has always had 33% ownership of the station, the rest split with two family members…

HD ACTION AT FREEDOM AVENUE: There are two new additions to the family among HD Radio sidechannels at Freedom Avenue, otherwise known to new readers as the Clear Channel Media+Entertainment+Ice Cream Akron/Canton cluster. (Yes, we’re just kidding about the frozen dessert part.)

Both are specialty channels, but only one is new.

That’s Golden Flashes Radio, a 24/7 stream heard on rock WRQK/106.9’s HD2 sidechannel, dedicated to Kent State University sports.

In addition to both replay and live Golden Flashes sports contests – and not just football and basketball – Golden Flashes Radio will feature a daily Kent State sports show and other university related content.

In between the Kent State content, Golden Flashes Radio is playing AAA music…presumably from Clear Channel’s Premium Choice/IHeartRadio channel dedicated to the format…at least at launch.

If you’re not among the handful of people with an HD radio set, Golden Flashes Radio is available via IHeartRadio here, and in the various IHeartRadio mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. The station’s on-air ID is prominently featuring the IHeartRadio feed.

The second new HD sidechannel at Freedom Avenue is something we knew was coming.

EMF, the California-based parent of the Christian contemporary “K-Love” and Christian pop “Air1” formats, will indeed use hot AC WKDD/98.1’s HD3 channel to feed its translators.

We don’t know yet which service will use WKDD HD3 to feed the translators. Our guess is that it’ll be Air1, which counts translators including W273BL/102.5 Akron.

But we don’t know which translators will be fed by WKDD HD3. And we don’t know if the newly restarted W291BV/Solon, another Air1 outlet recently heard repeating Clear Channel country WGAR/99.5, will be fed from there, or via a new HD sidechannel of WGAR itself.

And we also don’t know if either “Air1” or “K-Love” has made it to WKDD HD3 yet. Our HD radio set is currently not working.

Of course, the analog/HD1 formats of all of the above stations aren’t changing at all. You’ll still hear hot AC music on WKDD, rock on WRQK and country on WGAR.

And the placement of an EMF format on WKDD’s HD3 sidechannel means that the station is keeping the HD2 simulcast of talk WHLO/640 Akron on WKDD’s HD2 channel…but we don’t know if Golden Flashes Radio bumps the WHLO simulcast that had been heard on WRQK HD2…

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”…