It’s On The Way

Ohio Media Watch, The Next Generation is coming soon.

We hope the transition won’t be too jarring for you. The core of this effort will remain as it is now, and the new site hopefully won’t cause many complaints.

Again, it isn’t a retreat to social media like we tried in the recent past…if anything, it’ll be an expansion.

In the meantime, there’s more media news to cover and talk about…

ROVER’S AFTERNOON COURT DATE:The case against Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7 and syndicated morning doggie Shane “Rover” French continues moving through the court system.

Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 reports that French and “Rover’s Morning Glory” sidekick “Chocolate Charlie” (Michael Toomey) had a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, and are back in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on December 5th.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury recently handed down a 13 count indictment upon Rover for a number of charges, linked to an alleged incident involving late night fireworks and an undercover officer last July on Whiskey Island…

SPEAKING OF 13TH AND LAKESIDE: Even recently, the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center has had a second over-air TV station in it.

ION Networks O&O WVPX/23 has been at 13th and Lakeside since the former PAX TV and WKYC owner Gannett entered a nationwide deal, where Gannett operated the local PAX affiliates in various markets, including Cleveland.

That deal fell apart, and also resulted in the WKYC-produced “Akron/Canton News” moving to Time Warner Cable’s NEON (“Northeast Ohio Network”)…until financial pressures shuttered the Akron-based newscast.

OMW hears that WVPX, which has still been in the WKYC building, is leaving by the end of this year.

The destination for the local ION station?

It’ll be the station’s former facility in Warrensville Heights.

Of course, after the end of “Akron-Canton News”, Channel 23 has no local programming, so it won’t be a difficult move back…

HO, HO, HELLO: Northeast Ohio radio stations have climbed aboard the Holiday Music Sleigh already.

The first local entrant into the Santa Sweepstakes is a station that traditionally “goes early” with Christmas music: Clear Channel AC WHOF/101.7 “My 101.7” in the Canton market, joined by sister hot AC WMXY/98.9 “Mix 98.9” in Youngstown.

The stations, and a Toledo sister station, have one thing in common besides Clear Channel ownership…they are under the oversight of the company’s regional programming manager for Northern Ohio (except Cleveland), CHR WKDD/98.1 program director/morning host/CC Akron-Canton operations guru/OMW reader Keith Kennedy.

(At this rate, we’re gonna have to sell Keith an ad based on the amount of space all his titles take up here on the Mighty Blog[tm]!)

In Cleveland, another traditional Early Christmas Flipper (no, not slipper) is CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1, still known as “New 102” after all these months.

The station is taking to both its website and Twitter to poll listeners about when it should slip into the phone booth (remember those?) and become “Christmas 102”:

Once we hit November 1st the New 102 Listeners have had one question and one question only on their minds: WHEN is New 102 going to “flip the switch” to Christmas 102 and begin our 24/7 holiday music? We have holiday cups at Starbucks, holiday decorations lining the aisles of our favorite stores and that wretched four letter S word filling the streets of Cleveland!

Even our own Jen and Tim in the morning co-host Tim Richards is beginning to wonder, WHEN will we start the holiday music season?

If there were a Radio Format Betting Window at downtown Cleveland’s Horseshoe Casino (or the new “Rocksino” at Northfield Park), we’d guess “after morning drive this Friday”.

And we’d also place a side bet, also just a guess, that “New 102” will give way to less stale branding after the holidays…

A BIT OF NASH: We still believe that Cumulus Youngstown market country powerhouse WQXK/105.1 won’t be shedding its long-time “K105” identity for Cumulus’ “Nash” branding.

But yes, a bit of “Nash” will be coming to the “K105” airwaves.

Cumulus is launching “NASH Nights Live”, a live syndicated show featuring Los Angeles country air personality Shawn Parr, in the 7-to-midnight (ET) time slot weeknights. (Yes, the show will be based in Nashville, and yes, Parr is moving there.)

The company says the show will air on all 84 of its owned-and-operated country outlets, so that means Parr’s effort will take over the evening slot on “K105”.

“NASH Nights Live” won’t replace a local show on the Youngstown country giant. The evening slot was long-ago surrendered to syndication with the program hosted by Cody Alan. (Oddly enough, Cumulus syndicates him as well…)

WHERE’S WEATHER: It’s a common complaint by those who turn to the cable/satellite network The Weather Channel…where’s the weather information?

The Atlanta-based network, now owned by the NBCUniversal borg (as if you couldn’t tell by the presence of former WKYC weathercaster and “Today Show” stalwart Al Roker), has gone back to its roots, at least a little.

Starting Tuesday, the network has constant local weather information on the screen, even during commercial breaks. Of course, if you’re on satellite, you’ll see a generic national information bar.

We bring this up here for two reasons.

First, the “24/7 local weather information” bar is not quite that – as local cable TV commercial inserts take over the full screen.

Second, Time Warner Cable itself recently launched “24 Hour Weather” on its Northeast Ohio systems.

That channel, which supplanted the aforementioned now-gone local programming channel NEON, should really be called “18 Hour Weather”, as tuning into cable channel 23 in the overnight hours is much more likely to uncover an infomercial (a holdover from the NEON days).

We had a recent question about NEON from a reader, who missed our earlier coverage.

The channel’s shows all ended, with the exception of “More Sports and Les Levine”. But you’ll need a digital cable box to see Les these days…he’s in his old 6 PM time slot on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel (cable channel 311, or 1311 in HD).

We can’t tell if Levine’s show is in HD itself…our guess, watching on a small set, is that it’s produced in 16:9 SD widescreen…

WHERE’S ROGER?: We spent a lot of time, when he was here, poking fun at Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media/real estate of the sports stars columnist Roger Brown.

Brown moved to Bristol, a city on the Tenneesee/Virginia border, to become a general news reporter for the Bristol Herald Courier.

He’s gone from there now, but no, he’s not headed back to Northeast Ohio.

Brown has moved to a city with one (allegedly) major pro sports team, the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, to become an editorial writer for the Jacksonville Times-Union:

Roger spent 12 years at the Cleveland Plain Dealer as a sports columnist, TV/radio critic and associate editor of the editorial page. As an editorial board member, he wrote editorials and op-ed columns and helped lead and edit that page, as he will here.

It’s Roger’s second job away from both Northeast Ohio and the sports/sports media beat, and we’re pretty sure his new role does not include writing about sales of homes owned by Jaguars players.

You can tell we aren’t really obsessed with the once-controversial columnist…this happened back in May, and we just stumbled upon his move to Florida today…

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Friday Morning Data Dump

Or, late Thursday night, if you prefer, as we can’t sleep…for reasons having nothing to do with OMW…

THE WNIR DRAMA: A MUST READ for anyone interested in recent WNIR events, by former local newspaper columnist Stuart Warner in one of his old newspaper haunts, the Akron Beacon Journal via Ohio.com. Retired WNIR morning man Stan Piatt opens up to Warner about how his exit from the station was handled. The details are (nearly) identical to unconfirmed rumblings we’ve heard for months now. It’s what we’d have wrote if we were able to confirm. By the way, since Stan Piatt opened up on his situation…no, the “love of his life” is not a now-former or current WNIR employee. She has no ties to Broadcast Park. The piece was posted Wednesday night on Ohio.com, but we just saw the link early this Friday morning. The Warner piece provides an E-mail address for Piatt, for those wishing to contact him directly…

FRIEND OF OMW APPLIES: Good luck to former Rubber City Radio country WQMX/94.9 staffer George McFly, as he applies for the opening at CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 “New 102” left by the departure of “Kory” to Dallas…

NOT FAST ENOUGH: Twitter follower @StevenArmatas: “Any update on when FOX8 will move to UHF so we can get an HD antenna signal down here in Canton?” Our response: “Everything’s on hold as FCC is closed in government shutdown. Don’t hold your breath on Fox 8 moving to UHF, tho. WJW’s app to move to UHF 31 may have been too late, as FCC seeks to repack TV stations below 31 to make room for data services.”

An Experimental Blog Post

We’ve received a very mixed response to our “move” to social media.

While we’ve received a flood of new Twitter followers, others are openly hostile to that being the only outlet for Ohio Media Watch. And hostile may not be a strong enough a word.

So, we’ll try this: copying and editing our Twitter posts to a blog post, without all the responses, tags and whatnot.

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CRONAUER BACK TO RADIO, STILL ON TV: Joe Cronauer is now PM drive at Salem CCMer 95.5 The Fish. Still on WKYC, too, burning both ends of the broadcast day…

MOVING TO DALLAS: WDOK/102.1 Cleveland “New 102″‘s Kory heads for Dallas, for afternoon drive at KVIL/103.7…

NEXTMEDIA SOLD: WHBC/1480 and WHBC-FM/94.1 Canton and 31 other NextMedia stations to be sold to Dean Goodman’s Digity: RadioInsight If Dean Goodman’s name sounds familiar, there’s a reason. He was once lined up to buy hundreds of Clear Channel small/med market stations…

TIM CONWAY TO CLEVELAND: Tim Conway will appear at Ghoulardifest at 10 AM Sat. Nov. 2nd. Doors open one hour early to get everyone in place. Ghoulardifest moves this year, to the La Villa Conference and Banquet Center at 11500 Brookpark Rd. Tim Conway will be interviewed on stage by Dan O’Shannon, executive producer of ABC’s “Modern Family”…

Quick Hits For May

Some quick hits before we focus on Cleveland’s media obsession this past week…which will be in a separate item as soon as we get a Round Tuit(tm)…

SUNNY FORECAST: Congratulations to former Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5” morning weather forecaster Christine Ferreira.

As predicted, she’s landed at a TV station in her new/returned to hometown area of Central Pennsylvania, Hearst NBC affiliate WGAL/8 in Lancaster PA…where she’s that station’s midday and weekend forecaster

FRIENDLY GHOST – IN NORTHEAST OHIO, AT LEAST: OMW reader Kasper has returned to the Northeast Ohio airwaves, via the magic of Clear Channel’s voicetracking.

He’s now heard in afternoon drive at the company’s Akron market now-CHR WKDD/98.1…and three hours after his show ends, the other radio member of his household, wife Krissy Taylor, does a nighttime show for the station.

Kasper always went first-name-less before, but has adopted the name “Adam” at his new home base, Clear Channel top 40 powerhouse WRVQ “Q94” in Richmond VA.

He told Twitter followers that “Adam” is actually his middle name, and tells us that he made the switch just to change things up at this point in his career.

Back in Northeast Ohio, on a signal that doesn’t do a bad job at all of reaching his hometown of Youngstown, or much of former home base WAKS/96.5 “Kiss FM”‘s territory, he’s just Kasper, as per usual…

MOVE MADE: OMW hears that Cleveland’s Radio One cluster is in new digs at 6555 Carnegie Avenue.

Urban AC WZAK/93.1, hip hop WENZ/107.9 “Z107.9”, gospel WJMO/1300 “Praise 1300” and brokered/talk WERE/1490 “NewsTalk 1490” had long been based at 2510 St. Clair Avenue.

The CBS Radio cluster nearby had already left, with AC WDOK/102.1 “New 102” and hot AC WQAL/104.1 “Q104” exiting “One Radio Lane” a couple of blocks away…and camping out with clustermates sports WKRK/92.3 “The Fan” and classic rock WNCX/98.5 in cramped space at the Halle Building…

EGG AND FORMAT FLIPS: A pair of Youngstown market stations that are no stranger to format flips have done so again.

Apparently no longer headed for former Cleveland City Council member and WHWN/88.3 Painesville principal Nelson Cintron’s ownership, WYCL/1540 Niles is once again classic country “The Farm”, and WHTX/1570 Warren has returned to standards as “The Fabulous 1570”.

Cintron’s Sagittarius Communications had planned to buy the stations last fall from OMW reader Chris Lash’s Whiplash Radio, and the formats had already changed – Spanish-language “La Nueva Mia” on 1540, and urban AC using Cumulus’ “The Touch” 24/7 satellite format on 1570.

More on this one as we hear how things unraveled and returned to the past…and the composition of the “Group Radio LLC” company listed on the stations’ websites, but not in FCC records (at least that we can find)…

Welcome To A Busy 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cincinnati Enquirer media guru John Kiesewetter writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We think we’ve solved some of the mystery.

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

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

Where’s the connection?

Consider the Family Maduri.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s now retired, before Goddard, even.

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

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

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

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

What happened?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Need This Calendar

You ask, “why do I need a calendar in 2013 at all, when there’s one right on my smartphone?”

Does your smartphone, even your tablet, include in its calendar full color, full size glossy pictures of some of the most interesting radio and television tower and transmitter sites, and broadcast facilities in North America and beyond?

Does it note famous dates in broadcast history, anniversaries and other dates of interest?

And you just try putting a nail through your smartphone or tablet’s screen to hang it on your favorite office or home wall.

Yep, it’s that time of year again… long-time personal and professional Friend of OMW Scott Fybush (“NorthEast Radio Watch”) has come out with another Tower Site Calendar.

We’ll let Scott and his wife Lisa do the honors with all the details on the 2013 Tower Site Calendar, which hangs in some of the best engineering shops, studios and homes in America.

And this picture is familiar to many locals, particularly those who endured frequent visits of the OMW Mobile while the facility was under construction in Parma…it’s a shot of the WKYC/3 transmitter site.

We’re pretty sure we were alongside Scott at the time.

Anyway, if you’re convinced by now, order one…and if you remember, tell Scott you heard about it from OMW…

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POPULAR CALENDAR SHOWCASES BEAUTY OF BROADCAST TOWERS

Twelve years later, what started as a lark is still going strong

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – To some, they’re eyesores on the landscape. But to one man, radio and television towers are landscapes, and beautiful ones, too. For a dozen years now, journalist/photographer/broadcaster Scott Fybush has created an annual wall calendar featuring artistic photos of important and historic broadcast tower sites from coast to coast, and he’s just released the 2013 edition.

“Some people may think all radio towers look alike, but the Tower Site Calendar shows every year that that’s not the case,” says Fybush, who has worked in radio and television news for more than two decades. The calendar began in 2002 as an outgrowth of his weekly industry news column, NorthEast Radio Watch, and its offshoot, “Tower Site of the Week,” a weekly feature at his fybush.com website.

“It has developed a passionate following in the broadcast engineering community,” Fybush says. “Engineers are notoriously underappreciated for the hard work they do, and the calendar is one little way I can help show some recognition for the infrastructure that engineers design and maintain to make sure all of us have easy access to radio, TV and our cellphones, too.”

The 2013 edition, now shipping from the Fybush Media store (store.fybush.com/store) features a fresh new page design, a spiral binding, and 13 new pictures taken from Fybush’s travels all over North America and beyond. Some of the highlights this year:

* The Sandia Peak TV/FM antenna farm high above Albuquerque, New Mexico. At more than 10,000 feet above sea level, this is the highest-elevation site ever featured in the calendar.

* WFXJ (formerly WJAX), Jacksonville, Florida. This historic site, built in the 1930s, sits amidst the greens of a golf course.

* KWAL, Wallace, Idaho. This unique site features two towers split down the middle by a busy coast-to-coast highway, Interstate 90, as it threads through a narrow valley.

* WVJS, Owensboro, Kentucky. A reminder of the impermanence of broadcast infrastructure, this calendar photo features three towers that were dismantled in 2011 after 65 years at the same site.

* WXXI-TV, Rochester, New York. A dramatic night photo showing a massive crane in action, removing an analog TV antenna from its 400-foot-high perch after the digital television transition made it obsolete.

In addition to tower photos, the calendar’s monthly pages include significant dates in radio and television history, as well as civil and religious holidays.

The 2013 calendars cost $18.50 each ($19.98 including sales tax for New York State residents) and can be purchased by check (payable to “Fybush Media”) or money order to 92 Bonnie Brae Avenue, Rochester NY 14618. Orders can also be placed with major credit cards, or online at www.fybush.com.

“Engineers email me all the time to ask if their towers can be a featured site or a calendar page,” says Fybush, who also anchors newscasts for NPR member station WXXI in Rochester.

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…