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.

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The Awards Post

Local TV and radio broadcasters spent a lot of time in Indianapolis and Columbus this past weekend, picking up awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Great Lakes Chapler (the local Emmy awards), and the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters.

Here are the winners for stations and organizations within the OMW primary coverage area. Of course, a number of operations did not enter nominations…

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EMMY AWARDS

(Only categories with Northeast Ohio winners are listed. A full list of winners can be found at the NATAS Lower Great Lakes chapter website.)

Newscast – Evening – Market 1-20
19 Action News @ 11pm WOIO Daniel Brown Producer

Newscast – Morning/Daytime – Market 1-20
19 Action News This Morning WOIO John Bindas Producer

Weekend Newscast – Market 1-20
NewsChannel 5 at 11:00 Weekend WEWS Tracy Carloss Anchor
Sara Roth Producer

General Assignment Report – No Time Limit
Head Start Misspending WKYC Tom Meyer Reporter
Sarah Bachmann Editor
Jessie Eck Graphics

Continuing Coverage
Hidden Hazards WKYC Tom Meyer Reporter
Sarah Bachmann Editor
Jessie Eck Graphic Production Artist

Investigative Report – Series
Metrohealth Abuse WKYC Tom Meyer Reporter
Sarah Bachmann Editor

Historical/Cultural Program or Special (2)
Dream Deferred: The Legacy of Busing WEWS Hollie Brubaker Video Editor

Military: News Single Story/News Series/Feature or Segment
Operation Deep Freeze WEWS Melissa Watson Executive Producer
Ron Regan Chief Investigator
David Arnold News Photographer
David Hatala News Photographer
Robert Gardner Senior Editor

Politics/Government
Senator Smith Home WKYC Tom Meyer Reporter

Sports – Single News Story
An Iron Will: The Gregory Iron Story WOIO Chris Van Vliet Reporter

Sporting Event/Game – Live/Unedited
High School Football Game of the Week Fox Sports Ohio Jeff Platz Producer
Bob Pennell Director
Tom Farmer VP – Executive Producer

Documentary
All For One – The History of Cleveland Clinic Telos Productions Thomas Ball Director

Interview/Discussion – Program/Series or Special
Words & Music Cuyahoga Community College Alan Gilbertson Producer/Director/Editor
Tommy Wiggins Host/Talent Coordinator

Magazine Program – Feature Segment
Crime Stoppers Case Files: Isaac Hardges Pinpoint Media Christopher Rech Executive Producer
Brandon Kimber Director
Michael Gagliardi Producer
Ryan Lohr Editor
Andrew Jurcak Director of Photography
Matthew Howard Graphics Supervisor
Ray Szuch Stunt Coordinator

Magazine Program – Program/Series or Special
Crime Stoppers Case files: Harun Frizell & John Lundy Pinpoint Media Christopher Rech Executive Producer
Brandon Kimber Director
Michael Gagliardi Producer
Ryan Lohr Editor
Andrew Jurcak Director of Photography
Ray Szuch Stunt Coordinator
Matthew Howard Graphics Supervisor
Isiah Hodge Actor

Promotion – Program Image
STO Remembers SportsTime Ohio Michael Roche VP Marketing/New Media
Ty Towriss Producer
Pat Kenny Editor
Tim Earl Associate Producer
Mitch Greenberg Associate Producer
Keith Feicks Associate Producer
Scott Spicer Associate Producer

Commercial
More Than Ink The Plain Dealer Dale Omori Producer
Andrea Levy Producer

Community Service
Crime Stoppers Case Files: Senior Citizen Special Pinpoint Media Christopher Rech Executive Producer
Brandon Kimber Director
Michael Gagliardi Producer
Matthew Howard Graphics Supervisor
Andrew Jurcak Director of Photography
Ryan Lohr Editor
Ray Szuch Stunt Coordinator

Crafts: Musical Composition/Arrangement (2)
Crime Stoppers Case Files Pinpoint Media Samuel Ramirez Music Director

Crafts: Director – Live or Live to Tape
Cleveland Indians Baseball SportsTime Ohio Patrick Murray Director

Crafts: Editor – Short Form
The Ball Cleveland Indians Eric Hewitt Editor

Crafts: Graphic Arts – Set Design
SportsTime Ohio Hyundai Studio SportsTime Ohio Greg Golya Creative Director
Ian Zeigler Designer
Joseph Von Enck Designer/Animator
Dave Brooks Scenic Construction Manager

On Camera Talent – Reporter
Ron Regan Compilation WEWS Ron Regan Chief Investigative Reporter

Crafts: On Camera Talent – Performer/Host/Narrator
Chris Van Vliet WOIO Chris Van Vliet Talent

Crafts: Photographer – Non-News (2)
Artistic Choice WVIZ/PBS ideastream David Staruch Photographer

Crafts: Video Essay
Walking With Unknowns WJW Ali Ghanbari Producer

Crafts: Video Journalist
Huron Hospital Closing WEWS David Arnold Video Journalist

Crafts: Technical Achievement
The Restorers – They Were All Volunteers Hemlock Films Adam White Director
Kara Martinelli Producer

Crafts: Writer – Program
The Restorers – They Were All Volunteers Hemlock Films Adam White Writer
Kara Martinelli Writer

Crafts: Writer – Short Form
The Ball Cleveland Indians Sanaa Julien Writer
Justin White Writer
Eric Hewitt Writer
Nick Gambone Writer

OHIO ASSOCIATED PRESS BROADCASTERS AWARDS

(Only categories with Northeast Ohio winners are listed. And yes, the Associated Press itself misspelled “Uhrichsville”. A full list of winners is in an AP story courtesy of Ohio News Network.)

MEDIUM MARKET RADIO AND TELEVISION

Best Website: (1st) Steve Mehaffie, WHIO-TV, Dayton; (2nd) Darcie Loreno and Marly Kosinski, WKBN/WYTV-TV.

LARGE MARKET RADIO AND TELEVISION

Best Broadcast Writing: (1st) David C. Barnett and Frank Barnett, WCPN-FM, Cleveland, “Frank’s Donation”; (2nd) Adam Slinger, WSYX-TV, Columbus.

SMALL MARKET RADIO

Best Use of Sound: (1st) WJER-AM, Dover, “Our Heroes’ Homecomings”; (2nd) WTUZ-FM, Urichsville, “Drug Addiction Leads to Unfortunate Turn of Events.”

Best Documentary or Series: (1st) Jennifer Clark and Jamie Hambach , WJER-AM, Dover, “The Atwood Lodge Confrontation”; (2nd) WTUZ-FM, Urichsville, “2011 November Elections.”

Best Feature Reporting: (1st) WTUZ-FM, Urichsville, “Historic Landmark Receives National Attention”; (2nd) WJER-AM, Dover, “Remembering 9-11.”

Best Breaking News Coverage: (1st) WTUZ-FM, Urichsville, “Swift Action Leads to Abductor’s Arrest”; (2nd) WJER-AM, Dover, “Janesville Acoustics Fire.”

Extraordinary Coverage of a Scheduled Event: (1st) WJER-AM, Dover, “A Killer’s Fate”; (2nd) WTUZ-FM, Urichsville, “2011 November Elections.”

Best Continuing Coverage: (1st) WTUZ-FM, Urichsville, “Community Decides Fate of Dover High School”; (2nd) WTUZ-FM, Urichsville, “2011 Elections.”

Best Enterprise Reporting: (1st) Jessica Eggan, WJER-AM, Dover, “Managing Diabetes”; (2nd) WTUZ-FM, Urichsville, “Schools Prepare for Students’ Return.”

Best Reporter: (1st) Jessica Eggan, WJER-AM, Dover; (2nd) Jason Aldrich, WIMA-AM, Lima.

Outstanding News Operation: (1st) WTUZ-FM, Urichsville; (2nd) WJER-AM, Dover.

MEDIUM MARKET RADIO

Best Breaking News Coverage: (1st) Mike Ward, WAKR-AM/WONE-FM/WQMX-FM, Akron, “August 2011 Copley Shootings.”

Best Continuing Coverage: (1st) Tina Kaufmann, WAKR-AM/WONE-FM/WQMX-FM, Akron, “The Williams-Bolar School Mom Case.”

Best Investigative Reporting: Tina Kaufmann, WAKR-AM/WONE-FM/WQMX-FM, Akron, “2011 Kelley Williams Bolar Case.”

Best Enterprise Reporting: Chris Keppler and Tina Kaufmann, WAKR-AM/WONE-FM/WQMX-FM, Akron, “2011 Kelley Williams Bolar Case.”

Best Anchor: (1st) Larry States, WAKR-AM/WONE-FM/WQMX-FM, Akron.

Outstanding News Operation: (1st) WAKR-AM/WONE-FM/WQMX-FM, Akron.

LARGE MARKET RADIO

Best Use of Sound: (1st) Mhari Saito, WCPN-FM, Cleveland, “Cleveland’s Jitterbugs Earn Medals and Pride”; (2nd) Jeff St. Clair, WKSU-FM, Kent, “Exploradio – The Natural Origins of Music.”

Best Documentary or Series: (1st) Jeff St. Clair, WKSU-FM, Kent, “Exploradio”; (2nd) WVXU-FM, Cincinnati, “Cincinnati Baseball: Crosley Field”

Best Feature Reporting: (1st) David C. Barnett and Frank Barnett, WCPN-FM, Cleveland, “Frank’s Donation”; (2nd) Amanda Rabinowitz, WKSU-FM, Kent, “Hard Hits on ‘Little Bobbleheads.'”

Best Breaking News Coverage: (1st) M.L. Schultze, WKSU-FM, Kent, “Stark County Seeks Shelter.”

Extraordinary Coverage of a Scheduled Event: (1st) M.L. Schultze, WKSU-FM, Kent, “9/11 Ten Years Later”; (2nd) Statehouse News Bureau, Ohio Public Radio, Columbus, “Ohio’s Bitter Battle for Collective Bargaining.”

Best Continuing Coverage: (1st) Mhari Saito and Dan Bobkoff, WCPN-FM, Cleveland, “The Natural Gas Economy”; (2nd) Bill Cohen, Statehouse News Bureau, Ohio Public Radio, Columbus, “Ohio’s Bitter Battle Over Collective Bargaining.”

Best Enterprise Reporting: (1st) Vivian Goodman, WKSU-FM, Kent, “Gay in Ohio”; (2nd), Anne Glausser, WCPN-FM, Cleveland, “Be Well.”

Best Anchor: (1st) Rick Jackson, WCPN-FM, Cleveland; (2nd) Steve Brown, WOSU-AM/WOSU-FM, Columbus.

Best Reporter: (1st) Mhari Saito, WCPN-FM, Cleveland; (2nd) Tim Rudell, WKSU-FM, Kent.

Outstanding News Operation: (1st) WCPN-FM, Cleveland; (2nd) WLW-AM, Cincinnati.

MEDIUM MARKET TELEVISION

Best Use of Photography: (1st) Robert Meluch, WFMJ-TV, Youngstown, “Baseball Boys”; (2nd) Jordan Burgess and Kris Sproles, WDTN-TV, Dayton, “911 Skydive.”

Best Feature Reporting: (1st) Joe Aulisio, WKBN/WYTV-TV, Youngstown, “Jake Hostetter’s Courage To Play”; (2nd) James Brown and Trey Back, WHIO-TV, Dayton, “Taps.”

Best Photographer: (1st) Robert Meluch, WFMJ-TV, Youngstown, “Best of 2011”; (2nd) Joe Cromer, WTOL-TV, Toledo.

Outstanding Sports Operation: (1st) WTVG-TV, Toledo; (2nd) WKBN/WYTV-TV, Youngstown.

LARGE MARKET TELEVISION

Best Use of Photography: (1st) Ali Ghanbari, WJW-TV, Cleveland, “Courage to Heal: Josh’s Story”; (2nd) Andy Wallace, Ohio News Network, Columbus.

Best Continuing Coverage: (1st) Tom Meyer and Sarah Bachmann, WKYC-TV, Cleveland, “Hidden Hazards”; (2nd) WCMH-TV, Columbus, “Inside Senate Bill 5/Issue 2.”

Best Investigative Reporting: (1st) Ron Regan, WEWS-TV, Cleveland, “Operation Deep Freeze”; (2nd) Brendan Keefe, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, “Cincinnati’s Ghost Station.”

Best Enterprise Reporting: (1st) Jenn Strathman and Melissa Watson, WEWS-TV, Cleveland, “Lead Law”; (2nd) Cristin Severance and Andy Wallace, Ohio News Network, Columbus, “Warren Massage Parlors.”
(OMW Note: Severance is based at WEWS in Cleveland.)

Best Reporter: (1st) Ron Regan, WEWS-TV, Cleveland;(2nd) Brendan Keefe, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati.

Clearing Out

The rain is clearing out, according to the weather forecasters…and so are we. The inbox, that is…and we have some updates on old items…

RUMORS DYING: We passed along rumblings in Tom Taylor’s always excellent “Taylor on Radio-Info” column that involved the Cleveland market.

The original rumors noted sale talks that could involve the cluster of four CBS Radio stations in Cleveland – alt-rock WKRK/92.3, classic rock WNCX/98.5, AC WDOK/102.1 and hot AC WQAL/104.1.

Tom initially noted that the possible buyer could be Cumulus Radio Investors, the latest acquisition effort involving Cumulus Media, that was interested in some five markets CBS wishes to sell – including Cleveland. (CBS has actively been interested in selling its operations in markets below the very largest.)

Stand down. Nevermind.

Taylor notes that the rumored talks are apparently dead:

Now I hear that the CBS asking price was ultimately too “frothy” for the buyer. Lew Dickey said when he took the wraps off the Crestview Partners-backed CRI that he’d potentially be up for paying 7-8 times cash flow for premium properties. But CBS – Les Moonves – is probably still locked in on the multiples it got in the last batch of selloffs.

We’ve noted here time and again that despite expressing quite public interest in selling stations in its non-top-10ish markets – Moonves has repeated that sentiment at various conferences – CBS is not in a hurry to dump stations in Cleveland or anywhere else. If they get the number they’re looking for, they’ll sell, but this is by far not a “fire sale” operation.

And we’ve heard rumors, separately from Tom Taylor’s reporting, that the Cleveland CBS Radio cluster was about to be sold, or even “has already been” sold.

Other than what we’ve reprinted from Mr. Taylor, we’ve heard absolutely no evidence to support an agreed-upon sale, or near sale, of the Cleveland CBS stations.

Meanwhile, those who were following the rumors in “Taylor on Radio-Info” are probably breathing a sigh of relief, even if it’s only temporary.

Cumulus is not exactly known for high staffing levels. The company decimated staffing in former Susquehanna markets (including big markets like San Francisco), and has been a very active participant in recent layoff rounds – along with just about every other major or even minor radio company in the recession.

But we get the idea that Cumulus is very much a “lean and mean” company when it comes to staffing…recession or no.

And a quick search on the “Cumulus” name right here in the OMW search box (now to the right in our WordPress version, or a pull down menu in the mobile WordPress version) will provide plenty of examples…

AWARDS: For various reasons, we don’t spend a LOT of time with awards, but as a public service, here are some links we found with awards information.

Instead of linking to the various local TV stations, we’ll just go here for the list of local Emmy awards presented last weekend.

The local NATAS (Lower Great Lakes) chapter includes not only markets like Cleveland, Youngstown and Toledo, but also reaches into Pennsylvania and Indiana. As last year, the Hoosier stations picked up a decent number of awards.

And the folks on West Market Street are noting their third national Edward R. Murrow Award (Small Market: Radio) for the website AkronNewsNow.com, the online news component of Rubber City Radio Group’s oldies/news WAKR/1590, rock WONE/97.5 and country WQMX/94.9.

MOBILE: While we’re talking about West Market, AkronNewsNow now has an iPhone app in Apple’s App Store. For now, other mobile users can access ANN’s mobile-browser-friendly sub-site.

And we believe Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 is the first Cleveland market TV station to make its station/news app available on the Android platform, adding to its existing iPhone app…and since we have an Android device here at OMW, we hope the other area TV and radio stations follow suit.

(Youngstown’s WKBN/27 was actually the first TV station in the region to have an Android app, and the My Local TV folks, creators of the WEWS app, have apps for WUPW/36 “Fox Toledo” and Dayton’s WDTN/2.)

Semi-related…the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Cleveland.com has launched its own new mobile-friendly site, in what appears to be an improvement over the previous version in our brief time using it.

Ah, but newspapers strike again.

We saw the announcement in a tweet from Cleveland.com that took you to a story on the traditional site, with a link to go to Cleveland.com (and thus, pull up the new mobile site on a mobile browser) that did not work.

One note: we urge the folks at Cleveland.com to NOT wall off the traditional site from mobile users.

Point your mobile browser to NYPost.com for a very bad example of that…there is NO WAY to access a regular New York Post link from a mobile browser, rendering the content inaccessible to everyone but desktop users.

Links followed from Twitter or Facebook on a mobile device get “swallowed” into the main menu of the mobile New York Post site, where the original article sometimes can’t even be found. (We do have an alternative mobile browser that presents a desktop user agent.)

Given that social media is a prime traffic driver to news websites, and that much of that social media is consumed on mobile devices, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to us.

Go mobile, content providers, but go smartly. And with a reported 160,000 new registrations per day, the Android platform is quickly showing that “the mobile app strategy” is not just putting up an iPhone app. And that’s not even mentioning the very popular Blackberry platform.

The iPhone and its related devices are the leaders and insanely popular, but the overall popularity of smartphones means there are now millions of people out there with capable devices that aren’t made by Apple.

Forgive us for wearing out the soapbox…it’s about to break…

ADS: Readers may notice that some Google ads are appearing on OMW.

That decision wasn’t ours. It’s part of the “free” bargain for our use of the WordPress.com system, and the ads pop up without any intervention from us. We receive no income from the ads.

(Oddly enough, the Google-powered Blogger had no “forced” ads.)

The ads are also showing up in the mobile version of the site. At least on our Android device, they are causing some very slight formatting issues… the text is pushed to the very edge of the mobile window.

If you’re noticing the same, E-mail us via the link up at the top of this blog, making sure to note what device you are using. The “WPTouch” skin used for the mobile version works on a wide variety of mobile device browsers, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android devices and WebOS devices…

Ohio’s Mobile TV Future

A host of TV station owner groups are banding together to create a much broader future for mobile digital television, and nearly all groups in the Cleveland market are involved.

From the first article about the joint venture of 12 ownership groups, courtesy of TVNewsCheck’s Harry Jessell:

The groups: Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Fox, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., Ion Television, Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., NBC, Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media.

In the Cleveland market alone, that covers Gannett (WKYC/3-NBC), Scripps (WEWS/5-ABC), Raycom (WOIO/19-CBS and WUAB/43-MyNet), and ION (WVPX/23).

Fox affiliate WJW/8 is no longer owned by its network, having been sold to Local TV LLC. It’s one of two commercial stations in the market not on the list – the other is locally-owned Winston Broadcasting CW affiliate WBNX/55. (Oh, and Univision’s WQHS/61…but we don’t speak Spanish.)

Groups like Cox and Media General are in other Ohio markets – Cox has CBS affiliate WHIO/7 Dayton and Media General has NBC affiliate WCMH/4 Columbus (formerly owned by NBC itself).

Today, again thanks to Mr. Jessell and TVNewsCheck, we know that the joint venture aims to do more than provide mobile-friendly signals of local broadcast outlets:

The 12 major TV station groups that announced plans on Tuesday to form a joint venture to pursue the mobile DTV business envision a national service of at least 10 mobile channels and possibly many more.

And what kind of channels?

…NBC and Fox have agreed to make their programming available to the joint venture. That programming includes broadcast network programming through their affiliates as well as cable networks.

NBC’s collection of cable networks includes Bravo, USA Network, Syfy, MSNBC and CNBC. Fox has the Fox News Channel and FX among others.

To us, it sounds like the old USDigital service retrofitted for 2010.

USDigital offered a lower-cost, smaller collection of cable TV channels using unused DTV spectrum. The service used a special converter (available at Wal-Mart). We never saw it in Ohio, because it didn’t ever leave one or two test markets. We’re not sure it even got out of Salt Lake City UT.

This venture is different, technologically, because it’s riding on mobile DTV spectrum. ATSC M/H (mobile/handheld) is still being tested, and provides something current over-air DTV does not – a stream that can be easily displayed on the move, in a car, or in your hand.

The bandwidth, of course, isn’t enough to support HDTV. But as we know from early experience, trying to catch a DTV signal from a moving car is currently pretty much impossible. Receiver technology has also improved dramatically since when USDigital was around, not even accounting for the mobile part.

This service won’t bring cable networks to free broadcast, as far as we can tell. It sounds like a pay service much as described above. There is also talk of a “print” component, whatever that means.

We’re presuming that the stations will still offer the mobile-friendly versions of their broadcast signals for free, but we can’t confirm that from what we’ve read. We’re also wondering if Fox, a participant offering the broadcast programming to the venture, will offer locally-programmed non-owned affiliates like WJW.

We could be wrong on any of this, and welcome corrections…

All Over The Map

It’s a typical Monday, as we let items free that need their freedom…

GOING DOWN: It’s no surprise to anyone who follows population figures, but the folks at Nielsen Media Research have announced that the Cleveland TV market continues to lose position in its market rankings.

From the TV ratings giant’s release:

The Top 10 local markets, known in the industry as Designated Market Areas or DMAs, will remain the same this season, with a few rank changes in the Top 20. Moving up are Seattle, from 14 to 13, and Denver from 18 to 16. Tampa, Miami and Cleveland are each down one rank.

That drops Cleveland on the new list (PDF link) for 2009/2010 to America’s 18th largest market, down from 17. Cleveland’s still a top 20 market, but hanging by a thread…if the current population trends continue, that will change in about three years.

Columbus faired worse, actually, as far as losing rank. It fell two ranks, from 32 to 34. Cincinnati gained one place, and moves ahead of Columbus to become the 33nd largest TV market in the country.

Dayton drops one rank, from 64 to 65. Toledo holds steady at 73. Youngstown drops one place to 110. Wheeling-Steubenville is unchanged at 159. Lima is unchanged at 186. Parkersburg(/Marietta) drops one place at 194. And tiny Zanesville is still the 203rd largest market in America…

NO GAMES FOR NOW: OMW informed you earlier that Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio Network (“NEON”) was trying to add more Akron area games to its extensive high school football broadcast schedule…which already had plenty of games for Cleveland and Canton area viewers.

Well, not yet, at any rate.

TWC local VP and OMW reader Bill Jasso tells us that the cable company was “unable to get an agreement with the local production company to do the Akron area games” due to financial terms, as in the pricetag presented by that unnamed production company being too high for TWC.

TWC’s Travis Reynolds says if any Akron area games are added, they’ll be announced on a “game by game basis”, with the package deal apparently out of consideration now…

GLENN BECK…WHERE?: We had to ask around, double-check and confirm this one.

Premiere syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Beck has landed a Youngstown-market affiliate, and it’s not at all the kind of station you’d expect.

An OMW reader tipped us that “The Glenn Beck Program” started airing live, 9 AM-noon, last week…on…oh, wait, we have to drag this out.

No, not on Clear Channel talk WKBN/570 Youngstown, which would be the natural affiliate choice for the syndicated conservative talker. WKBN programs the 9 AM-noon time slot locally with program director Dan Rivers’ show, in the time slot long occupied by the late Dan Ryan.

Beck’s program, indeed, shows up nowhere on the WKBN program schedule, even in weekend or repeat form.

It has, however, landed on a quite unusual affiliate – Beacon Media Group Christian/eclectic rocker WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA, the Youngstown market rimshot known as “Indie 107.1”.

No, we’re not kidding.

Our ears in the market tells that despite running Beck’s show Monday through Saturday in the 9-noon slot (yes, even a weekend repeat), “Indie” maintains its locally programmed mix of Christian rock music and other compatible tunes outside of those hours.

That noise you hear is coming from Central Point OR, where Talk Radio Network sales folks are probably trying to talk to Beacon’s Harold Glunt as we put up this item, trying to get him to surround Beck’s show with their own programming. (OK, so we’re just speculating. TRN’s Michael Savage and Phil Hendrie air weeknights on WKBN.)

HE’S ADAM STEVENS, SAMANTHA’S SON, APPARENTLY: Like most local TV stations do during locally-aired NFL football broadcasts, Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland airs “halftime news” during its Cleveland Browns contests.

Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 did so last year when it was the local outlet for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcasts involving the Browns. The NFL requires that cable networks sell local rights to cable-only broadcasts in markets where the teams in the game are based.

And like WJW, WKYC records these spots…it makes no sense to force anchors to sit around in the studio when the time of the report depends on the timing of the game. And these mini-newscasts are almost extended promos for the late news, anyway.

WKYC’s “halftime news” in the middle of Saturday night’s Browns preseason game with the Tennessee Titans featured a couple of news stories, a weather forecast, and sports…delivered by weekend sports anchor Dave Chudowsky.

Then, two minutes after the newscast ended, it was back to the live broadcast of the game, and right before kickoff, a recap from sideline reporter Dave Chudowsky.

Huh?

If you didn’t know the news was taped before, seeing Chudowsky transform from a suit (on the WKYC set) to wearing an orange-colored polo shirt with the WKYC logo (on the field) in two minutes was enough to make you wonder if his name is really Clark Kent.

Even if Channel 3’s helicopter was still in service, it couldn’t transfer him from 13th and Lakeside to the stadium site in under two minutes, with a clothing change, even if the copter landed on the field right where Chudowsky’s live shot took place.

Heh.

A suggestion to our friends at WKYC – skip Chudowsky’s presence in the taped halftime news entirely, and have anchor Jeff Maynor read whatever sports headlines lead back into the game.

Or, put a big red “C” on Chudowsky’s chest…and rush him to the helicopter pad at 13th and Lakeside.

Or maybe invoke the classic TV memory of “Bewitched”‘s Samantha Stevens, as we did in this subheader. Adam was her warlock son…

SPEAKING OF WKYC’S BROWNS PRESEASON GAMES: It took us a while, but we found out which Dayton outlet has been running the Browns’ practice contests this preseason.

And as pointed out in a graphic during last Saturday’s game, it’s Cox CBS affiliate WHIO/7. Well, sort of.

We can’t find the original item about it on WHIO’s website, but the Dayton station committed to three Browns preseason games this year from the feed based at WKYC.

However, only one of those games, the Browns’ contest with the Detroit Lions, aired on WHIO’s main signal. The other two games, including last Saturday’s game with the Titans, aired on WHIO’s weather subchannel (WHIO-DT 7.2).

Notice that we’re talking about it in the past tense, and we said WHIO committed to “three” games…the station is not carrying this Thursday’s pre-season final Browns preseason game against the Chicago Bears, either on the main WHIO signal or 7.2.

As Dayton’s CBS affiliate, WHIO will air at least some Browns games from the national feed in the regular season, though we presume the nearby Bengals will have priority…

Weather And Storms

And the latter part of our title, this time, isn’t necessarily about thunderstorms…it’s about economic storms, again. But first…

MCSHEA RETURNS: OMW hears that former Cleveland Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 meteorologist and “Good Company” co-host Eileen McShea is about to return to local TV, but not at 13th and Lakeside.

Instead, she’ll be doing weather on Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5″‘s weekend newscasts…at least for now.

The folks at 3001 Euclid are “down one” weather anchor, after the station declined to renew the contract of third forecaster Jeff Mackel at the end of last month.

OMW hears that McShea joins the “NewsChannel 5” weather team on a freelance basis “for the next few weeks”.

We don’t know if WEWS plans to hire a third regular, full-time meteorologist – or if the former WKYCer is up for the gig, if they are. We get the idea that the freelancing – by McShea or whoever could show up later – will be the status quo for now.

McShea left WKYC in 2008 after an apparent economic/money dispute over her co-hosting role on “Good Company”, the mid-morning talk show now hosted by Fred Griffith, Andrea Vecchio and Michael Cardamone. (The Plain Dealer’s Julie Washington wrote about this last October. For whatever reason, we apparently did not.)

The station has since rechristened the show “Good Company Today”, to link it to the 20 hours of NBC’s “Today” show and its successors before the show airs. (OK, so it’s not 20 hours.)

The show features any number of lifestyle/talk segments, many of them sponsored.

McShea’s long tenure at Channel 3, before that, included 12 years as a meteorologist, and some weekend news anchor work…

ANOTHER HEADED FOR 11?: We can’t blame TV station employees if they avoid the financial news…and the news could be pretty bad for one station owner that has a number of Ohio stations.

As New Vision TV (WKBN/WYFX/WYTV) works with its lenders to eventually wind out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, giving the lenders control of the group, another group could be headed there.

Sinclair Broadcasting has warned that a Chapter 11 filing could be in its future.

Among the usual menu of economic problems facing any media company in 2009, Sinclair has another Big Problem – the faltering economics surrounding Cunningham Broadcasting. That’s the company which allows Sinclair to operate two TV stations in markets where a straight dual-ownership isn’t allowed by FCC guidelines.

In Ohio, those Cunningham stations are Columbus Fox affiliate WTTE/28 (sister to Sinclair ABC affiliate WSYX/6), and Dayton Fox affilate WRGT/45 (sister to Sinclair ABC affiliate WKEF/22). Fox affiliate WVAH/11 in the Charleston-Huntington WV market reaches parts of southern Ohio.

Broadcasting and Cable outlines the base of the Cunningham Problem:

Cunningham has until July 31 to pay off a $33.5 million debt. Should Cunningham default, Sinclair may be forced into Chapt. 11. Having Cunningham in bankruptcy could impact Sinclair to the tune of $50-$60 million, Sinclair execs said–$26 million in direct contributions for the LMAs, and the rest in annual cost savings and general synergies between the stations.

Cunningham is not that far removed from Sinclair. Family members of Sinclair CEO David Smith control the company, including Smith’s mother.

(“Mom? Can you hang onto some TV stations for me?”)

These companies, which allow groups like Sinclair to control extra stations in lieu of ownership, are very common. Brecksville’s own Mission Broadcasting serves a similar purpose for Nexstar. As we recall, Mission used to be based in a private home in Medina County’s Sharon Township, according to a Beacon Journal profile of the company.

The head of Mission Broadcasting is also named David Smith, but as far as we know, he’s no relation to Sinclair’s CEO.

With the economy continuing to crater advertising revenue, these “other” companies are just as badly hit as their LMA partners…

LIKE A RADIO VIRGIN: Cleveland native and former then-WZJM/92.3 air personality Tim Virgin has made another big market move.

AllAccess reports that Virgin exits the PD/afternoon drive slot at Phoenix alt-rock KEDJ “The Edge” for Chicago, where he’ll be the MD/afternoon driver at Emmis alt-rock WKQX “Q101” starting a week from Thursday.

It’s actually a return to the Chicago station for Virgin, who worked there in the late 1990’s.

In addition to his stint in Cleveland, before 92.3 adopted the “Jammin’ Oldies” format, Virgin is known for his work at legendary Washington DC/Baltimore alt-rocker WHFS/99.1, and later at the 105.7 frequency that took the WHFS calls.

The latter stop at 105.7 involved hosting alt-rock music on a station that became a talk outlet, and is now sports WJZ-FM “The Fan”. 99.1 is Spanish-language WLZL, and of course, 92.3 here is today’s mainly automated alt-rock WKRK-FM “Radio 92.3″…oh, and the WHFS calls are now parked on a syndicated AM talk outlet in Washington…

WAMO: At the moment, this is an OMW exclusive…and the station isn’t even in our coverage area. But since it is heard in the Western Pennsylvania parts of the Youngstown market, we’ll share it here.

We’ve been following the coverage of the sale of legendary hip hop outlet WAMO/106.9 in the Pittsburgh market by Friend of OMW Pat Cloonan, who writes a media column for the McKeesport Daily News in that Pittsburgh-area community.

Cloonan noticed that there was a rescinding of the approval of the sale of WAMO and its two AM sister stations (WAMO/860 and WPGR/1510) to St. Joseph Missions, a group of local residents who plan to convert all three stations to Catholic religious programming.

There were also objections filed to the sale, one by a Pittsburgh resident decrying the upcoming loss of programming to the region’s African-American community.

Well, according to the FCC database, the station sale has officially been approved (again?) by the FCC…as of today. (MCM/MCL is the corporate station ownership name for Pittsburgh’s Sheridan Broadcasting, the seller.)

Cloonan noted in a story earlier today that the objection had been reclassified by the FCC as an “informal” objection, which carries about as much weight as a soaking paper towel. The FCC noted to the Pittsburgh resident that as a standing rule, it doesn’t get involved in format decisions.

As far as we remember, there isn’t an LMA provision in the sale to St. Joseph’s, so the sale would presumably have to close before the programming changes on the three stations.

Again, WAMO’s FM operation is a Pittsburgh market station. But the station’s move from 105.9 in the city, to 106.7 licensed to Beaver Falls, brought its signal into a pretty decent chunk of the Youngstown market.

We’d link Pat’s articles, but his newspaper places them behind a subscription wall…

Metro About To Close In Ohio

There’s really nothing new here for OMW readers, except some details and timing.

This item on AllAccess’ Net News scroll jumped out at us:

METRO NETWORKS/WESTWOOD ONE Regional Dir.Operations/DETROIT-CENTRAL HOWARD BOUTON tells ALL ACCESS, “I am looking for talent in DETROIT for our Metro Networks Regional Hub. I need traffic producers and editors, traffic anchors for DETROIT, GRAND RAPIDS, CLEVELAND, CINCINNATI, COLUMBUS, TOLEDO and DAYTON Radio and TV stations. News anchors for same markets. Sports update anchors for DETROIT and CLEVELAND.”

“I need these people pretty soon,” adds BOUTON. “They need to be good on-air and have knowledge of the market they would be serving if possible, but we will train them and they will be based in our SOUTHFIELD MICHIGAN operations hub in suburban DETROIT.”

Enough with that silly notion that you could “have knowledge of the market” by actually LIVING in the market! (We note that Bouton adds “if possible”, wording that never appeared in the past, when Metro advertised for on-air talent that was actually in the market in question.)

OMW already reported last year that the Metro office in the Independence Media Gulch in suburban Cleveland was one of dozens the company slated for closure this year, as the traffic, news and sports outsource provider is consolidating over 60 local outposts down to just over a dozen cities in a money-saving effort.

We don’t know how many people are actually left in the other Ohio markets listed. We believe some have already been served out of other markets.

The above (“need these people pretty soon”) makes it sound like the local operations will be shuttered as previously rumbled, in June.

We wouldn’t bet the house on it, but we’d be surprised if many – if any – of the remaining Cleveland-based Metro on-air staffers would move to Detroit. Many of them are market veterans with strong ties to Northeast Ohio, and we doubt seriously that Metro will pay relocation costs for this.

And you don’t save the last penny if you’re paying people to move, do you? Certainly not…