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…

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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…

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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”…

Heading Into A Grab Bag

As we head into June, which has the potential to be a very busy month for us (both good and bad), let’s let out some more items.

We may be a bit scarce for a while, again, due to Life Intervening(tm), but we’ll be around from time to time…

WHAT COMES UP, EVENTUALLY COMES DOWN: We spent a lot of time with the digital TV transition back in 2009, both here and on our other blog, Ohio Digital TV.

One major change on the TV landscape in Northeast Ohio was the occupant of RF channel 17.

Channel 17 had long been occupied, analog style, by the Canton-licensed facility that ended up becoming religious outlet WDLI, owned and operated by religious broadcasting giant Trinity Broadcasting Network out of Santa Ana CA…and operating out of a large studio building along U.S. Route 62 in the eastern Canton suburb of Louisville.

But WDLI built its digital facility closer to the center of the market, in the Akron FM/TV antenna farm near Rolling Acres Mall. First, a pre-transition facility on RF channel 39, then taking over RF channel 49 when Western Reserve PBS’ WEAO/49 (just down the road) stayed on pre-transition 50 and took analog 49 dark.

Since the 2009 digital transition, that old WDLI analog tower has been sitting out there on U.S. 62…until recently.

OMW readers were there when the former WDLI tower met the ground in a controlled drop last week.

Friend of OMW Geoff Mears, afternoon news anchor at D.A. Peterson soft AC WDPN/1310 Alliance, sent along this picture, and tells us the former WDLI/WJAN studios next to the felled tower in Louisville are tabbed for a major remodel as an expanded audio/TV production house.

Those who grew up within range of the analog 17 signal remember it first as local independent station WJAN-TV aimed at Canton, before its time as a religious outlet under PTL’s Jim Bakker, David Livingstone (where the current calls come from), and the current ownership of TBN.

Digital TV being what it is, the station still appears on digital tuners as channel 17. The original RF channel 17 gave Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland an opening for a much more robust digital signal…and of course, digital tuners still show WKYC as channel 3, WEAO as channel 49, etc., but you know the drill if you read OMW at all…

STUDIO 0: We’ve been getting tips that it looks like Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8’s “Fox 8 News” has abandoned its “Studio 8” Akron bureau space in the food court of Fairlawn’s Summit Mall.

We don’t know why yet, but OMW hears that “Studio 8” is indeed being abandoned by the folks on Dick Goddard Way.

“Fox 8 News” will obviously continue to cover Akron/Canton news, but we don’t know yet if they’re looking for new space in the Akron area, or if they’ll do the I-77 Shuffle between Cleveland and Akron/Canton.

Of the four local news operations in the Cleveland TV market, only Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19-MyNet affiliate WUAB/43’s “19 Action News” doesn’t have Akron area space. WKYC/3 is based out of the United Building on the corner of Main and Market in Akron (former home of “Akron/Canton News”, now shared with Western Reserve PBS and Kent State University’s WKSU/89.7), and WEWS/5 has its Akron bureau in the Akron Beacon Journal building…

99X THOUGHTS: Radio listeners are discovering that if you’re far from Parma, especially to the east or west, picking up Clear Channel alt-rock “99X” on 250 watt translator W256BT/99.1 Cleveland is quite a challenge.

We surely expected complaints from folks in Westlake, Mentor and Fairlawn, where the signal disappeared for us in the heart of the Montrose commercial area. And one listener has trouble picking up “99X” in Strongsville.

To the west, especially, perhaps it’s tropospheric propagation (“trop”) carrying on-channel BAS Broadcasting AC WFRO/99.1 Fremont “Eagle 99” a bit further afield to the east.

But it looks like those 250 watts are also having some trouble getting into downtown Cleveland, perhaps due to those big buildings.

It reminds us of the signal problems Clear Channel sister hot AC WKDD had in the 2001 frequency swap, when it moved from its long-time home at 96.5/Akron to the former WTOF-FM/98.1 Canton stick in eastern Stark County.

At the time, WKDD promoted 98.1 as “the most powerful signal in Ohio!” or something like that.

But the former WTOF-FM’s reach was primarily due to its antenna height, not its base power, and anyone who knows FM signals will tell you that the signal for such a station is “a mile wide, but a foot deep”.

That prompted Clear Channel to quickly move 98.1 to Hartville – closer to Akron. It eventually landed at the former tower site of its original frequency, 96.5, in the former Northampton Township, after a city of license change to the Akron suburb of Munroe Falls.

For the record, long-time personal and professional friend Scott Fybush of NorthEast Radio Watch (go, subscribe, it’s worth every penny!) caught a recent Cleveland Indians game at Progressive Field, and reports that he had mixed “99X” reception results in section 555 with two radios – one, a CCrane “Witness”, showed no sign of picking up 99.1, and the other, an Insignia HD Radio portable, picked it up with a listenable signal. (Of course, that second receiver can also get the “99X” feed on WMMS/100.7’s HD2 sidechannel.)

It should be noted that section 555 is actually blocked from Parma by…the structure of Progressive Field.

It is no surprise that the signal “is what it is”, as a station rep has said on Facebook, and that the station heavily promotes 99X’s feed on iHeartRadio.

But smartphone-wise, at least in the Android version of iHeartRadio, “99X” is buried at the bottom of the listings, well under all of its on-air siblings, and all of the other “Featured” iHeartRadio feeds, including “The Alternative Project”…with an identical playlist to the local alt-rock outlet.

We assume it’s the same on the iOS/iPhone/etc. version of iHeartRadio, as we believe the platforms have feature parity now…

RATINGS TALK: Long-time OMW readers know that we basically don’t report either radio or TV ratings.

The reasons are many: among them, there are only certain numbers we can even report, and they may or may not reflect reality – like the Arbitron “beauty pageant” radio numbers of all listeners 6-plus (12-plus in diary markets).

Thanks to a change at the leading radio ratings service, even that “beauty pageant” is now missing some contestants.

Beginning with the most recent ratings released to the media and the public, Arbitron is only listing stations that subscribe to its service. The stations that aren’t subscribers? They’ve vanished from the reports like they were not even on the air.

Perhaps the best example of the vagaries of the new system comes with the recent Akron ratings. We’ll quote the excellent “Taylor on Radio-Info” E-mail newsletter put out by Radio-Info.com columnist Tom Taylor:

Of the two major local owners, Rubber City Radio is subscribing to the trends, and Media-Com’s not. Rubber City Radio’s country WQMX goes 8.3-7.7. Its rock WONE-FM dips 4.3-3.8. But we’re not able to see Media-Com’s talk WNIR, a 5.6 share in the Winter book. Clear Channel’s hot AC WKDD is a consistent 3.8-3.6. But we’re not seeing any of the normally high-scoring Clear Channel stations from Cleveland like classic hits WMJI (a 6.5 last Fall).

It could be worse…Taylor reports that the entire Knoxville market has no public ratings.

This makes figuring out ratings winners and losers, at least in the “beauty contest”, difficult. And yes, we’ve been given private numbers by various people in the industry, but won’t publish those.

We can’t afford the legal bill from Dewey, Cheatum and Howe, after all. Frankly, we’re not even sure we’re allowed to reprint the numbers we did here. And generally, sources will give us a slice of the numbers that make their own station or cluster look good.

We CAN determine something that is also evident – Arbiton’s “subscriber only” policy means that only stations that subscribe to THAT MARKET’S REPORT are listed.

For example, the stations based at Oak Tree, in Clear Channel’s big Cleveland cluster, have no need to separately subscribe to Arbitron’s Akron market report…since the numbers are already available within the company at Freedom Avenue’s Akron/Canton operation.

Ditto, if Freedom Avenue wants to see how their stations are doing in Cleveland.

But…the clusters generally only sell based on local numbers, anyway. Ask talk WTAM/1100 afternoon mouth Mike Trivisonno about “not getting credit” for his Akron market numbers…he’ll go on about it for an hour.

We also don’t know if some stations are subscribing only to certain Arbitron reports, or if they’ll show up in the reports where they subscribe.

We’re also not surprised to see that the thrifty Media-Com doesn’t subscribe in the Akron market.

TV-wise, at least one station has sent us an official release on improved ratings, but we’re not sure we’ll print it unless we get similar releases from the other three major local stations with news operations…

Alt Rock “99X” For Cleveland Translator?

UPDATE 5/23/12 12:02 PM: As expected, alt-rock “99X” has launched on the 99.1 translator known legally now as W256BT (due to the move from 99.7 to 99.1).

Debut song: “Gold on the Ceiling” by Akron’s Black Keys.

UPDATE 5/23/12 11:15 AM: There’s word out of Oak Tree that this may launch on 99.1 FM as soon as 12 noon today.

We noticed what we think is a dead carrier on 99.1 a little earlier, replacing a distant, scratchy pickup of what we believe was BAS Broadcasting’s WFRO/99.1 “Eagle 99.1” Fremont. The (for-now) OMW World Headquarters is on the fringe of the 99.1 air signal…

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It looks like it might be alternative rock, not talk, for that Clear Channel Cleveland FM translator we’ve been tracking ever since it was licensed to Lorain.

99X LogoClear Channel has launched a website – 99XCleveland.com – and an iHeartRadio feed of what’s currently being heard on the HD2 sidechannel of rock/talk WMMS/100.7. (It’s the Premium Choice “Alt Project” feed with WMMS HD2 liners and no mentions of “99X”, yet.)

The website promises you can listen to “99X” on the aforementioned 99.1 FM, the 250 watt translator mounted on the tower of classic hits WMJI/105.7 in the Parma antenna farm, and calls the station “Cleveland’s New Rock Alternative”.

As of this writing, W259BI/99.1 doesn’t appear to be on the air, though Clear Channel filed Monday for a license to cover its construction permit.

Long-time readers know that when we are wrong, we nearly put up a billboard telling everyone.

Yes, we’ve been speculating that 99.1 would end up as an FM repeater of talk WTAM/1100.

We did make it clear, however, that our thoughts were educated guesses based upon Clear Channel’s moves in other markets in similar situations.

The company attached FM translators to powerful AM news/talkers in Portland OR (50 kW KEX/1190) and Miami (5 kW low-band WIOD/610) among others, in markets where it had no flagging full-power FMs to spare.

In other markets, like Sacramento (50 kW KFBK/1530) and Albany (50 kW WGY/810), Clear Channel sacrificed full-power FMs for the AM news/talk simulcast.

Add to that that, off the top of our head, at least, we can only name one Clear Channel HD-fed FM translator used to mount a new music format – “103.1 The Vulcan” in Birmingham AL – and the circumstantial evidence was very much in favor of a talk simulcast on Cleveland’s 99.1. (Even the Birmingham effort took over – for a time – an AM that was the long-time home of talk WERC, which itself moved to a full-power FM frequency.)

Note that we carefully pointed out each time that we’d heard exactly nothing about the fate of 99.1, format-wise, out of Oak Tree. We haven’t yet heard anything about “99X”, either.

But…we’re not ready to close the books on this one, yet.

Clear Channel has, after all, pulled a “fake” on us before.

Remember when Dover-New Philadelphia’s WJER-FM/101.7 was in the process of moving north to Canton, and someone at Freedom Avenue messed with our heads by creating a full-fledged country format website claiming to be for “101.7 The Bull”?

The station, of course, is today’s AC WHOF/101.7 “My 101.7”, and aside for perhaps a crossover tune or two, not a note of country music ever aired on that frequency.

OK, so this is a bit more elaborate, complete with the iHeartRadio feed and public website.

Maybe we’re just gunshy…

Technical And Non-Technical

UPDATE 12/6/11 6:23 PM: If you’re just seeing this notice, we’ve added one more update we forgot…at the end of this item…

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We have some “facilities” items up front, and a nice mix of non-technical stuff after that. Scroll down for the latter…

THE WBNX FLY IN WJW’S OINTMENT: We breathlessly reported here recently that the Federal Communications Commission had issued an “NPRM” (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) that would clear the way for Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8 in Cleveland to return to the promised land they once occupied on the TV spectrum – UHF channel 31.

Viewers all over the immediate Cleveland/Akron area, including right here at OMW World Headquarters, have been struggling with WJW’s post-transition signal on VHF channel 8, particularly with modest indoor antennas that can pick up pretty much every other station in the market with little difficulty. Before the transition, WJW’s UHF 31 signal “just worked”, as the saying goes.

We expected a speedy timeline for WJW’s return to RF channel 31, if there were no roadblocks.

Cross-town Winston Broadcasting CW affiliate WBNX/55 has just put one of those potential roadblocks up.

In a response to the NPRM (PDF download) filed November 23rd, WBNX notes, among other things, that WJW hasn’t turned to solutions it has already pursued with the FCC:

WJW is licensed to operate on Channel 8 at 11 kW ERP….WJW holds a valid construction permit to increase its ERP to 30 kW. There is no indication that WJW has attempted to operate at the authorized power increase, an increase which, logically, may resolve some or all of WJW’s concerns.

Moreover, WJW has pending at the Commission two applications for digital replacement translators, which the station apparently intended to use to resolve precisely the reception issues for which it now seeks a more dramatic and deleterious solution.

And further:

It is unclear precisely why WJW has (apparently) decided to abandon its earlier well conceived plans to increase power, directionalize its signal, and fill-in with digital replacement translators.

The Petition and Supplement are virtually silent on this issue, observing only that WJW already has the equipment necessary to begin operations on Channel 31. This sounds like little more than a cost-saving measure, which is either ironic or entirely predictable given the fact that WJW is ultimately owned by a private equity firm and is commonly held with attributable interests in approximately 20 other full power television stations across the country.

In the filing with the FCC, WBNX’s engineers believe the station will lose a few thousand viewers (just under 3,000 households) with WJW back at RF 30, even though the two stations co-existed as adjacent channel neighbors pre-transition.

The response notes that any pre-transition viewers who may have lost WBNX-DT reception on RF 30 had analog 55 as a backup.

WBNX also tries to throw water on WJW’s claims that the digital move to 8 lost it ratings, even going so far as to cite an article by the Plain Dealer’s Julie Washington blaming the loss on Cleveland’s move to live people meter technology.

Oh, and our favorite part of the WBNX filing is at the end of this quote:

“The petitioner’s arguments are unpersuasive and its data unreliable. Moreover, WJW has not attempted to resolve its coverage issues by alternative solutions-for which it already has the authority-that would not interfere with WBNX’s signal. WJW’s proposal should be denied, or, at a minimum, the Commission should defer consideration of the proposal until after a reasonable time to determine more definite data about the impact of the proposed substitution.

Or, perhaps it is an effort to jockey for position for prime UHF real estate in the event of a spectrum auction and repacking.”

As far as we can tell, Local TV LLC (indeed, owned by equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners) is an operating concern, and is not one of the players trying to acquire UHF spectrum for future sell-off.

Engineers we’ve talked with tell us there’s a problem with WJW increasing to 30 kW on VHF 8, as specified in their construction permit – it could present problems with Lima NBC affiliate WLIO, now on 8, and much of the signal increase would bathe the fishes in Lake Erie, not viewers south of the station’s Parma transmitter site.

Furthermore, the applied-for UHF fill-in translators, licensed to Canton and Austintown but mostly serving eastern Portage County, would do absolutely nothing for in-market Akron and Canton viewers. Unless you’re east of, say, Ravenna, they’d do nothing for you.

Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19 has mostly solved that problem, at least in Summit County and parts of northern Stark County, with its RF 24 digital fill-in translator in the Akron antenna farm…but the proposed WJW facilities would be far from the population center of the market. And WOIO could use a marketwide change/upgrade as well…particularly for those suffering from on-channel signal CFPL/10 London, Ontario, Canada booming across Lake Erie.

In its filing, WBNX appears to realize that the WJW application could well be approved, and offers an alternative:

In the event the Commission is inclined to grant WJW’s Petition, WBNX respectfully requests any such grant be conditioned on the results of an extended test period during which WJW would have authority to operate Channel 31 on a test basis. (The Petition and Supplement suggest that WJW already has the Channel 31 equipment on-site and installed, as a remnant of the station’s dual-channel operations during the digital transition period. Thus, as a practical matter, testing should be feasible.)

By doing so, the stations would be positioned to work together (and with the Commission Staff as warranted) to measure, evaluate, ascertain, and resolve interference instances of interference caused by WJW to WBNX viewers or, in the alternative, to demonstrate that the public interest harms are too great to permit WJW to make a permanent channel change.

We’re also wondering, for example, why WBNX did not object to WJW being granted pre-transition space on RF 31 oh-so-many years ago.

This filing could well mean that WJW won’t be able to light up on the UHF band by the end of the year, but we suspect it’ll only be a delay, not a deal breaker…

IT’S BACK?:
An OMW reader in the Canton area says he has (apparently) heard the return of Pinebrook Corporation gospel WINW/1520 Canton, which has been silent for much of the year.

Oh, but don’t try to get the station if you’re straying far from Martindale Road or Canton’s northeast side.

Our reader tells us that as he was driving by WINW’s site, he heard a very weak signal playing gospel music, which disappeared less than two miles away.

There was no ID, he says, within that brief time. He says the signal was very weak directly in front of the Martindale Road transmitter site.

We noted earlier that WINW obtained a Special Temporary Authorization to return to the air, pending approval of its very, very late renewal application.

But we’re pretty sure that return would have to be at 1000 watts, not at a power enough to be lost past the convenience store down the street from WINW’s facility…

AND WHILE WE’RE ON THE UPPER END OF THE AM BAND: Two stations that are very much operating, to the east of Canton, have hired a new news voice.

Whiplash Radio standards WHTX/1570 Warren “Fabulous 1570” and its simulcaster, WYCL/1540 Niles, have added Alan Courtright as morning news anchor. Alan joined the stations on Monday morning.

The move is the latest to be made by LMA operators Jim Davison and Laurel Taylor, and we hear they’ve signed a renewal with Whiplash owner and OMW reader Chris Lash to run both of Lash’s Mahoning Valley stations, starting January 1st.

1570 and 1540 now simulcast for the duration of 1540’s daytime hours of operation, with 1540 splitting off from 10 AM to 2 PM weekdays for the talk show hosted by Louie B. Free…the only holdover from previous WYCL LMA operator Philip Cato’s “Talk of the Town” format.

Courtright, of course, is no stranger to radio news…and that’s not just because of his late father, veteran Cleveland radio news voice Ken Courtright, and sister Julie Courtright, now in the newsroom of Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 (a former radio home of her father).

Alan himself was doing radio news fairly recently, in a stint with Rubber City Radio’s WAKR/1590 Akron and its “AkronNewsNow” newsroom…

ANN’S CORNER: No, Kent State University NPR outlet WKSU/89.7 Kent-and-its-simulcasters marketing and public relations guru Ann VerWiebe doesn’t pay us for “Ann’s Corner”…though she is very much a Friend of OMW.

But the local public radio outlet is busy again, so here’s a summary of stuff Ann has passed along to us:

* Detroit radio veteran Matt Watroba, who joined WKSU-based FolkAlley.com as a producer and part-time host, is now a daily host on the folk music stream (5-7 AM and noon-2 PM). Watroba came to Folk Alley after a 22 year-stint on WDET in Detroit hosting the show “Folks Like Us”, displaced by a format change. He’ll also do the “AlleyCast” podcast, and like most radio folks in 2011, encourages interaction via social media…

* WKSU guest contributor, poet/author/educator George Bilgere will be a guest on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” this Saturday (12/10). The show airs on WKSU Saturday evenings live from 6-8 PM, and repeats Sundays at 10 AM. It also airs in its Saturday live time slot on Ideastream’s WCPN/90.3 in Cleveland, and other “PHC” affiliates nationwide…

* Public radio isn’t immune to marking the holidays, and WKSU is no exception. The station is streaming classical and folk all-seasonal music at WKSU.org. And beginning Monday, December 12th, the holiday streams will migrate to HD Radio – on WKSU HD2’s Folk Alley and WKSU HD3’s Classical HD sidechannels. A complete list of holiday programming on the main WKSU signals can be found here

BROWNS LOCATOR: Given the way the NFL’s Cleveland Browns are playing this year, the team might prefer hiding from local TV viewers.

But there’s a prime time game scheduled for this week – the team’s traditional clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And since it’s a Thursday night contest, it’ll air on the NFL Network – itself doing a pretty good job of hiding from local cable TV viewers.

Regular readers know that the NFL requires cable/satellite networks to sell those games to local TV outlets in the two cities involved, and thus, Thursday’s NFL Network Browns/Steelers game will also air on WJW/8 “Fox 8”.

The station plans what appears to be an hour-long pregame show as well…

Assorted Monday News Nuggets

LAFORCE IS WITH FOX 8: It looks like Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 has brought aboard a new sports reporter after former weeknight sports anchor Tony Rizzo’s departure last December.

VermilionOhioNews.com posted on their March 28 issue that Vermilion native Allie LaForce has been hired by WJW as a sports reporter. A recent broadcast journalism graduate of Ohio University (where she also played on the Bobcats’ girls basketball team), LaForce was the Miss Teen for 2005 and also made a guest appearance on the long-defunct NBC soap “Passions.”

Most recently LaForce worked as a sideline reporter for Sportstime Ohio during the 2010 Mid-American Conference’s football season and the 2011 MAC men’s basketball tournament, and if memory serves this Secondary Editorial Voice ™ correct, LaForce also made a contribution and fill-in or two for WJW a few weeks ago.

Not sure if her duties also will lend to weekend sports anchoring or fill-in for 30-year WJW veteran John Telich, who has been the lone remaining regular sportscaster at the station. Whenever Telich has had a day off, veteran anchors Bill Sheil and Lou Maglio, and web/tech guy Dan Jovic have done the sportscasts in his place, usually on the weekends. (And yes, Rizzo and Dan Coughlin will most assuredly return for Friday Night Touchdown next fall.)

TIME WARNER MOVES: Next Monday (April 5), much of Time Warner Cable’s extensive system in Northern Ohio will make yet another significant realignment to their channel lineups. It’s the most significant realignment since March of last year, when the HD channels were all reassigned to the 1000+ channel allotment.

Of special note is that the greater Akron, Mansfield, Kent and Medina areas will have the following Cleveland broadcast channels move so that their channel name and channel position match:

• Channel 3, WKYC, will be on 3 or 1003 (HD)
• Channel 5, WEWS, will be on 5 or 1005 (HD)
• Channel 8, WJW, will be on 8 or 1008 (HD)

Most other areas – including the Cleveland metro systems – are already “on-channel.”

ShopNBC, the Travel Channel, truTV and SPEED will also be made available in digital format only (joining Oxygen), and can only be seen with the aid of a digital cable converter box. Soapnet and Science Channel will move to the Digital Variety Package (in areas where the two channels are not there already).

All Time Warner Cable customers will have new lineups mailed to them seven days prior to when the channels changes occur – which would be within the next few days. To see how your service area is changing, check twcguide.com, and select your respective state and city. Rich Heldenfels’ blog at the Akron Beacon Journal’s the330.com has in detail the updated Akron lineup.

VIRGIL DOMINIC JOINS THE U OF A: Respected long-time newscaster, news director and general manager Virgil Dominic is still active in the television medium, even after retiring from WJW/8 over 15 years ago (in the wake of the longtime CBS affiliate’s switch to, and eventual purchase by, Fox).

Recently, Dominic joined the University of Akron’s School of Communication as a lecturer, and is now teaching “Broadcast Newswriting” for the Spring 2011 semester for the university’s telecommunication students.

On how much teaching students relates to his time working in commercial television, Dominic said:

“I had so many mentors throughout my career. They helped me so much and teaching is my way of honoring them… In many ways, by teaching I find myself learning all over again. For me, that is a wonderful feeling.”

For those who don’t know, Dominic entered the Cleveland market in 1965, joining then-NBC O&Os WKYC/3 as their lead news anchor – and also did work for then-sister station WKYC/1100 (even serving as a anchor for NBC Radio News when the now-defunct network had their radio O&Os each produce one newscast daily). After a successful stop as news director for Atlanta’s ABC affiliate, he was hired by then-WJKW/8 to institute the “Newscenter 8” format for the Storer-owned station, and eventually became the station’s general manager.

In addition to his work with the University of Akron, Dominic still serves as a consultant with his Virgil Dominic Communications, with former employer WKYC (now a Gannett-owned NBC affiliate) as one of his main clients.

MATT WATROBA AT FOLKALLEY: Kent State University NPR outlet WKSU/89.7’s FolkAlley.com has added another host (or “folkie,” as they put it) to their stable.

Longtime folk music personality/singer/songwriter/educator/performer Matt Watroba recently joined FolkAlley – which features traditional folk, contemporary singer/songwriter, Americana, Celtic, bluegrass, world and acoustic instrumentals – bringing aboard a well-respected, multitalented “music geek” to the internet and HD2 sub-channel service. (Again, that’s how they put it.)

Prior to joining FolkAlley, Watroba hosted the popular “Folks Like Us” program for over 22 years on Wayne State University NPR outlet WDET/101.9 Detroit, where it was dropped in late 2009 in a programming philosophy shift. He already had a presence on FolkAlley.com as they carried the nationally syndicated radio program “Sing Out! Radio Magazine,” a show that featured his interviews, live and recorded music.

Watroba will produce streaming content for FolkAlley.com, in addition to live broadcast hours and will contribute to the Folk Alley blog. Watroba will also appear as a guest host for “The Folk Alley Radio Show,” and for WKSU itself.

FolkAlley.com is (naturally) heard over the Internet and on the HD2 streams of the Kent State University-owned station’s full-power outlets (WKSU/89.7 Kent, WKSV/89.1 Thompson, WNRK/90.3 Norwalk, WKRW/89.3 Wooster and WKRJ/91.5 New Philadelphia).

REMEMBERING MARY HOLT: We’d be remiss not to mention the passing of a landmark music personality in the Cleveland market.

Mary Cordelia Brown, best known as Mary Holt, was the first African-American female announcer in Cleveland radio and television, beginning her long career at the old WSRS/1490 in 1952. From there, she found long success at WJMO/1540 (which swapped dial positions with WSRS in early 1959 to become WJMO/1490) and at WSRS’s successor, WABQ/1540, throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

To dampen complaints from other WJMO staffers who felt forced to ‘babysit’ the control board while she on the air, Holt successfully studied up on broadcast engineering and became a pioneering engineer in her own right.

Holt also made contributions to WJW/8, WEWS/5 and KYW-WKYC/3 at various points; most notably at KYW-TV as host of “Spirituals,” a gospel music program on Sundays. A radio version of “Spirituals” also aired on WJW/850 during the mid-to-late 1950s.

Holt also was one of the first announcers in the market to play what was then known as “hillbilly music” (otherwise known as “country and western”) under the pseudonym “Cindy Lou.” Consequently, as many people mistook pioneering rock-and-roll disk jockey Alan Freed for a black announcer, listeners to Holt also made the incorrect assumption that she was white.

Holt passed away back on March 9, at the age of 89, at the Eliza Bryant Nursing Home. The Plain Dealer obit offers more into her fascinating life, and even then, it doesn’t do much justice…

The WKSU Item

Kent State University’s WKSU/89.7 has been so busy lately…we’ve talked with the station’s Ann VerWiebe the past few days more than we’ve talked with some of our relatives.

But…there’s been a lot to talk about on East Summit Street…so, let’s get started…

THE SOUND OF REGINA: Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett makes her local public radio return with a new weekly show on WKSU.

The former Friday host of Ideastream WCPN/90.3’s “The Sound of Ideas” launches her own program on the Kent-based public broadcaster, making her roughly the 20th person in the past 5 years to shuttle back and forth between WCPN and WKSU.

The program, however, won’t be the usual political/issues talk show.

From a description in the press release written by the always-helpful Ms. VerWiebe:

The weekly radio show was inspired by Brett’s book God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours, an inspirational collection of essays and stories about the lessons that life had taught based on a popular column she wrote after turning 50. Each show features guests with insights, tips or fresh concepts to help people create a greater life for themselves and for others. Programs will revolve around themes of life’s transitions and universal issues of home, work, community and finding a personal balance.

“The Regina Brett Show” will air Wednesday nights at 7 PM, starting September 8…

AND MORE PROGRAMMING NOTES: Shortly after we heard about Ms. Brett’s new show, WKSU announced another new spoken word program…this, on the station’s daily schedule.

The station will add the Boston-based “Here and Now” show weekdays 12 noon-1 PM, starting August 30th:

The hour-long news magazine is produced by WBUR in Boston and hosted by veteran journalist Robin Young. The fast-paced program features a broad-range of topics from public policy, foreign affairs and technology to food, culture and the arts. Reports from the WKSU newsroom will also be part of the Monday through Friday broadcasts.

WKSU general manager Al Bartholet cites the public radio audience’s hunger for news and information:

“Airing ‘Here and Now’ over the noon hour means that breaking news won’t have to wait until ‘All Things Considered’ begins at 4 p.m. Young’s program is produced with the curious, intelligent and information-hungry public radio audience in mind. Plus, an additional news hour means more opportunities for the WKSU news staff to present stories on arts and culture to Northeast Ohio listeners.”

Robin Young has extensive news experience, a 25 year career working for the Discovery Channel, CBS, ABC and for NBC’s “Today Show”

The release also notes the Thursday evening show “Other Voices”, offering hour-long audio documentaries at 7 PM…

AND IN NON-PROGRAMMING ANNOUNCEMENTS: We already mentioned the WKSU-based Folk Alley’s Android app – added to the existing iPhone/iOS4 app.

The station has been busy offering a full menu of smartphone and smart device apps.

In addition to the iPhone/iPod Touch and Android versions of the WKSU and Folk Alley apps, the station is also now directly supporting the iPad…allowing the use of more text and images than just running the iPhone version on the iPad.

If the iPad version of the WKSU app is not available in the iTunes store yet, it will be soon.

All of the WKSU apps play the four WKSU streams, with high-quality streaming available assuming you have the bandwidth to support it. We can play the high-quality versions of the WKSU streams with no problem on the 3G connection on our Android device.

The streams include the main WKSU simulcast (HD1), the Folk Alley feed (HD2), the Classical Channel (HD3) and the News Channel (HD4).

The dedicated Folk Alley app, of course, only plays the Folk Alley stream.

Dedicated would be the word for the young man directly responsible for all this, a recent high school graduate who has written all the apps for WKSU. From the appropriate release:

The WKSU apps were developed in-house by the WKSU web development team under the lead of IT Director Chuck Poulton. The WKSU apps follow the release of the Folk Alley Player iPhone app last summer. Both were created by James Savage, a recent graduate of Hoban High School (Akron, Ohio) who will attend Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., in the fall.

And for those of us in the Android world, there’s a backstory to the creation of the WKSU apps:

Savage constructed the WKSU Android app in part using code from NPR’s app. In the same atmosphere that prompted public media powerhouse NPR to share content on NPR.org through an open source API, the network invited input from the community in the development of the its Android app. Sharing this type of information reflects the spirit of the Android operating system and also NPR’s mission of public service and cooperation between content providers and the listening audience.

All of the apps are downloadable for free in the appropriate place: the iTunes Store for the iOS4 devices, and the Android Market for Android devices. And background audio is supported on iOS4, and of course, on Android.

You can find out more at the WKSU website…complete with screenshots of the apps.

And of course, WKSU’s programming is available on your good old fashioned radio, at WKSU/89.7 Kent, WKSV/89.1 Thompson, WKRW/89.3 Wooster, WKRJ/91.5 New Philadelphia, WNRK/90.7 Norwalk, and translators W298BA/107.5 Boardman, and W239AZ/95.7 Ashland. (Yes, we did that entire list from memory, though we needed help with the translator call letters…)

AND SPEAKING OF THE WEBSITE: Our news from East Summit Street is not complete, yet.

WKSU has revamped its website…the most notable change is the placement of news on the new front page of WKSU.org.

Before the change, if we remember right, you had to go to the WKSU News page to discover the station’s news output…

AND THANK YOU: …to WKSU’s Ann VerWiebe, for all of the above information.

Like her counterpart (in the “Talk to OMW” department) at Western Reserve PBS, Diane Steinert, Ann is always accomodating and cooperative with your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

It’s a tradition that goes back to Bob Burford’s time as public relations director/OMW handler at East Summit Street…and we’re appreciative! There’s something about those Kent-based public broadcasters that make them accessible…