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…

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…

Engineering Giant Passes

It’s not difficult to call Cleveland-based Telos Systems co-founder Steve Church an “engineering giant”.

Colleagues and engineering and other friends of Cnurch are mourning his passage, even far away from the company’s headquarters on Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland. He passed away earlier today at age of 57, after a long battle with brain cancer.

We’ll start with an extensive remembrance of Steve Church, posted on the Telos Alliance website:

Frank Foti, CEO of The Telos Alliance, remembers that Church had no ego about his many achievements. “We had built a pre-production prototype of the Zephyr, and demonstrated it for one of the major distributors of pro sports programming. They liked what they saw, and sent a couple guys to Cleveland to cut a deal. Steve and I finalized the contract, and then they told us, ‘Telos is just a small company, and we’re going to find out who owns it, buy them out, and run it like a real business.’ Steve and I said nothing as we drove them out to the airport, and we high-fived each other on the way back. They had no idea that they were talking to the owners of the company!”

Today, Telos products are in thousands of radio stations in the U.S. and beyond, from telephone hybrids to Zephyr remote broadcast codecs and the popular Omnia series of broadcast audio processors.

Telos has a complete section on the company’s founder here, with pictures and a place to post remembrances, and we’ll close with the release on his passing…

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Remembering Steve Church

28 September 2012 Cleveland Ohio, USA

Colleagues and friends mourn the passing of Steve Church, engineer, entrepreneur, talk show host, and founder of Telos Systems and the Telos Alliance, a coalition of broadcast technology companies.

Over the past thirty years he created many of the products that ushered broadcasting into the digital age.

Steve was born in San Diego, California, and began his broadcast engineering career in 1975 at WFMK in Lansing, Mich. He later worked at W4 (WWWW) in Detroit before moving to Indianapolis, Indiana to become chief engineer at WFBQ/WNDE.

Church’s first innovation transformed the sound of radio talk shows. Having hosted such shows in addition to his engineering duties, he was frustrated by the poor sound delivered by the analog telephone adapters then in use, which were plagued by sidetone distortion. The problem was thought to be unsolvable even by Bell Labs engineers, but by applying DSP adaptive filtering, Church solved the problem and was able to eliminate sidetone distortion. This became the basis for his first product, the Telos 10 telephone hybrid, and Telos Systems was launched in 1985 as a part-time project.

Church later moved to Cleveland to become chief engineer of WMMS/WHK, still building the company in his spare time. Sales of the Telos 10 telephone hybrid increased, to the point that Church decided to quit his day job and commit to his company full-time. The rest, as they say, is history.

Church’s second breakthrough changed the way radio stations do remote broadcasts. What was once an expensive, complex and time-consuming undertaking with long distance telephone lines or satellite links was simplified when Church combined then-new MP3 audio coding with ISDN technology. The result was the Telos Zephyr, which enabled stations to set up and transmit broadcast-quality point-to-point digital audio in a matter of seconds. Zephyr has since become the most successful digital broadcast audio product of all time.

Next, Church applied packet switching and Ethernet technology to the routing of audio signals around the broadcast plant. The result was Livewire IP-Audio, which employs a linear audio-over-IP method. This technology has fundamentally altered broadcast studio infrastructure and spurred a new wave of signal routing within broadcast plants.

In 2010, Church, together with Skip Pizzi, authored the book Audio over IP: Building Pro AoIP Systems with Livewire. He has been well-published in numerous trade publications, has written many white papers, and given numerous technical presentations at NAB, AES (Audio Engineering Society), IEEE, SMPTE, and various other technical forums. In 2010 Church received the NAB’s radio engineering award.

At the heart of Steve’s work was a deep, abiding love for the medium of radio itself, a love manifested since childhood. He wrote, in 2008:

“Radio is a bit like a kiss, no? When passion takes a grip, a kiss connects two humans in an exchange of secrets and emotions. We kiss furtively, lasciviously, gently, shyly, hungrily and exuberantly. We kiss in broad daylight and in the dead of night. We give ceremonial kisses, affectionate kisses, Hollywood air kisses, kisses of death and (in fairytales) pecks that revive princesses. At its best, and in our imagination, radio has such a variety, and a similar power.

“It is well-known that one’s lifelong musical taste is pretty much imprinted during the teen years. Our connection to radio might be, as well. How many of us, during those sensitive years, listening to a great DJ or talk host, decided we wanted to be a part of that? … Think about the vast numbers of people for whom work is just work, and consider how fortunate we are to have found a vocation bound in such a way to our
inner spirit.”

Church fought a three-year battle with brain cancer. He passed away quietly at his home near Cleveland, on September 28, 2012. He is survived by his loving wife Lana, stepson Dimitri, mother Jacqueline Burgess, and brothers Brent Church, Dann Church and Todd Church. He was 57 years old.

The Telos Alliance (TelosAlliance.com) is a global leader in the research, development, and manufacturing of IP-Audio, telephony, and high-performance audio processing equipment for broadcasters. Telos, Omnia, Axia, and Linear Acoustic are Telos Alliance companies. The Telos Alliance is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio USA, with additional US offices, plus sales, research and manufacturing offices in Germany, Latvia, Ukraine and China.

The 99X Follow Post

UPDATE 5/23/12 8:01 PM: Due to Internet routing tables and how they handle last minute changes, some Internet users are getting redirected to the main iHeartRadio page when going to 99XCleveland.com. The newly launched “99X” page can be accessed instead via its “WMMS HD” address (wmms-hd.clearchannel.com) until all the routing catches up over the next day or two…

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As per usual around here, here’s our followup item on a major debut today, the start of Clear Channel Cleveland alt-rocker “99X” (W256BT/99.1 Cleveland, WMMS-HD2/100.7 Cleveland, to be official.)

Clear Channel made the move no one expected them to make.

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) was by far not alone in expecting Clear Channel to mount a “now on 99.1 FM!” simulcast of talk WTAM/1100 on the 250 watt translator sharing tower space with sister classic hits WMJI/105.7 “Majic 105.7”, after a torturous shift from a not-on-air position at 100.3/Lorain, stopping long just enough for air at a North Ridgeville cell phone tower as 99.7, and finally showing up as 99.1 in Cleveland – give or take one previously rescinded construction permit that came alive again.

(Whew!)

The answer as to how 99.1 became “99X” may lie in something RadioInsight’s domain snooping king Lance Venta brought to our attention in the previous “99X” item.

Quoting Lance’s comment:

99XCleveland.com was registered on September 20, 2011 so apparently this decision was made sometime after 92.3 became The Fan and perhaps changed CC’s plans as I too expected WTAM on 99.1.

By the way, Lance has posted audio of the debut at FormatChange.com, in case you missed it.

One thing is for sure. If CBS Radio alt-rock “Radio 92.3” wasn’t taken to the woodshed on August 29th, and was still around today, there’s no way Clear Channel would mount a competitor to it on a 250 watt translator. It’d be the broadcast definition of insanity.

For that matter, if alt-rock was in the radio programming/LMA plans of Venture Technologies’ WLFM-LP/6, the audio carrier of the LPTV station that will land on top of the FM dial at 87.7, it isn’t now. (See above reference to broadcast insanity, low-power TV analog audio carrier vs. FM translator run by broadcasting giant local division.)

Today, we were in a good position to catch the fringe of the W256BT signal to the south.

In car reception makes it well into Akron, though the signal can get fluttery, at least in the OMW Mobile as you head further south.  Inside is trickier that far south, depending on your radio.

But “99X”, of course, is not aiming for Akron or Summit County at all, despite debuting with a song from Akron’s own Black Keys.

Our best guess puts the areas that would have young listeners most receptive to alt-rock music well within the “99X” strong signal area…places like Ohio City, Tremont, Lakewood and the Cleveland State University campus…will have no trouble picking up 99.1.

It’s taking advantage of the lack of height regulations to sit 238 meters (nearly 800 feet!) above ground on the classic hits WMJI/105.7 tower in Parma, above it on the tower at 344 meters. Even at 250 watts, an antenna height closing in on 800 feet will bring in a signal not far off the range of, say, a full-power class A station at lower height.

Here’s Radio-Locator’s signal map “for entertainment only”, under the previous W259BI calls. We were basically inside the purple “Distant” ring while listening:

The new alt-rocker is heavily promoting its iHeartRadio feed, both on its website and on-air…”on the air in CLE on 99.1, on iHeartRadio everywhere”, assuming those far afield from the signal or commuting to Cleveland State can just pick up the feed on their smartphones or computers.

“99X” is a very easy move for Clear Channel, once they decided to go after the alt-rock audience abandoned by CBS Radio.

We haven’t done an A-B listening test post-debut, but we’ll be surprised if the station isn’t using the Premium Choice “Alt Project” feed it was using when “99X” existed solely on WMMS HD2 and iHeartRadio.  We’d also be surprised if anything is added to that in the future.

Throw in a few new liners for “99X”, and voila! It’s Instant Radio Station, with very little oversight needed by Clear Channel programmer Bo Matthews.  Very much like a WTAM simulcast would have been, eh?

Below is the official Clear Channel release on the debut of “99X”…

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CLEVELAND HAS A NEW RADIO STATION
99X – THE NEW ROCK ALTERNATIVE

Cleveland, Ohio – May 23, 2012 – Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Cleveland announced today the debut of 99X, Cleveland’s New Rock Alternative.  The station broadcasts from the 99.1 FM frequency and hit the airwaves on Wednesday, May 23, at 12:00 p.m. ET.

99X is a simulcast of 100.7 WMMS’s HD2 station and plays the best new rock alternative music.  99X features core alternative artists including The Black Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Linkin Park, Nirvana, and Green Day.  The station will also include artists such as Muse, Jimmy Eat World, Young The Giant, Harvey Danger, Gotye, Imagine Dragons and Airborne Toxic Event.

“99X fills the void in Cleveland radio for a new rock alternative music station,” said Gary Mincer, President and Market Manager, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Cleveland. “Cleveland now has a new alternative voice which we are excited to offer to listeners on-air and to alternative music fans throughout the country on iHeartRadio.”

Fans can listen to 99X, on the station’s website, 99XCleveland.com, as well as on iHeartRadio.com and the iHeartRadio mobile app, Clear Channel’s best-in-class customizable digital listening experience, offering more than 800 of the nation’s most popular live broadcast and digital-only radio stations, plus user-created Custom Stations which provide listeners more songs, better music intelligence, more user control and deeper social media integration, all combined in one free, fully-integrated service.

The Next Batch

As has been our custom in recent months, we’ll continue to parcel out updates in batches…depending on our availability to update this Mighty Blog(tm) and the constraints of Real Life(tm).

As such, we just happen to have some free time this afternoon…

SAD NEWS: Two severe personal situations have local newsrooms in a bit of a “down” mood… but working hard to provide moral and other support.

The first situation is quite public.

Not only has Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8’s “Fox 8 News” put up a story about it on Fox8.com, morning co-anchors Wayne Dawson and Kristi Capel have been asking on the show for prayers and thoughts towards colleague Stefani Schaefer and her family, whose husband Roger was seriously injured on April 27th.

From the Fox8.com article, which quotes a message Schaefer posted on her Facebook fan page:

My husband, best friend and soul mate fell 12 feet off scaffolding while working at a construction site. He was rushed to Hillcrest and once they realized his head trauma was so extensive and severe, he was lifeflighted to a level 1 trauma center. I was able to see him just before he was lifeflighted-Wayne carried me and Roger’s mom into that room.

It was the most horrific sight I had ever experienced-I held his face and told him how much I loved him, that he was my world, I told him to keep fighting, talked about Race and Siena. He was reacting-it was amazing. I know he heard every word I said. Roger was diagnosed with severe head fractures, severe brain bleeding and brain bruising. Friday evening, the swelling got to be too much, so doctors performed a craniectomy, where they removed the side of his skull to allow the brain to swell outside and not down to the brain stem which would be fatal.

That night, my mother brought our children Race and Siena to the hospital-we were told for them to be there. During surgery, my children, mother, Roger’s mom, my friends, many of my co-workers and even some of my bosses, picked me up off the floor, held me and prayed with me. We said the Rosary all during Roger’s surgery. It made us all feel so strong during my darkness hours. That group of amazing people gave me strength to want to live-because I was dying inside. That surgery and all the prayers saved him that night-NO question. He is still in a coma and has been fighting for his life every single moment since then.

Schaefer thanked both her Fox 8 co-workers and viewers for their support.

Don’t be surprised if you see her back on “Fox 8 News in the Morning” sooner rather than later. Stefani has said she would return to work, only because she wants to take her time off later when Roger is conscious and recovering, so they can spend time together…

AND AT 3001 EUCLID: It’s been about two or three years since reporter Brian McIntyre was the Ohio News Network’s Cleveland bureau reporter, feeding stories to the Columbus-based news network from Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 “NewsChannel 5” – much like ONN’s Cristin Severance does today.

And McIntyre preceded his run with ONN as a “NewsChannel 5” reporter and producer. His time at ONN actually started embedded at former ONN Cleveland affiliate WOIO/19. McIntyre has most recently been in the community relations department at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Today, he’s got people praying for the best.

OMW hears that Brian McIntyre has prostate cancer, and is currently in hospice care.

Family and friends, including his WEWS and ONN former colleagues, are organizing a fundraising benefit the evening of Saturday, May 19th at Cleveland’s Brennan’s Party Center on Triskett Road. There’s a $50 suggested donation, and you can set it up through Paypal through May 15th.

Our sincere wishes and prayers for both the Schaefer family, and the McIntyre family…

WE DON’T KNOW WHERE SHE’S GOING: A question that has been peppering the OMW mailbox today – “Where is Andrea Vecchio going?”

Apparently, away from Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3’s mid-morning talk show “Good Company”, where she has been a host and producer for some time.

Judging by the timing of the random Emails, Vecchio must have made an announcement this morning that she’s leaving the show she co-hosts with Michael Cardamone and Joe Cronauer.

But…we yet don’t know why she’s leaving, or where Vecchio plans to land next.

Stay tuned…and watch our social media accounts for breaking updates…

NO, SHE’S NOT PERMANENT: Similar “breathless” Email from at least 2 readers told us last week that former CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 midday star Nancy Alden had finally joined the staff of Rubber City Radio smooth AC WNWV/107.3 “The Wave”, and would be heard starting this Monday from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Well, they were sort of right.

Nancy is indeed being heard on “The Wave” this week from 10 AM to 2 PM, but only as a three day fill-in (Wednesday is her final day).

The fill-in was made possible because “The Wave” middayer Mark Ribbins has been filling in during afternoon drive for the presumably-vacationing Bobby Thomas. Last week, a whole host of former “Wave” talent rotated in the midday slot.

Really, who could blame our readers for a bit of Nancy Alden excitement? After all, someone wrote stuff like this shortly after WDOK dropped both Alden and its long-time “Soft Rock 102.1” identity…

There are some who would personally drive Alden down I-77, and over to the Rubber City Radio Group studios on West Market Street in Akron…heading for the temporary home of new smooth AC WNWV/107.3 “The Wave” with a host of other ex-WDOKers, including founding “Soft Rock 102.1” programmer Sue Wilson – who now programs and co-hosts mornings on sister country powerhouse WQMX/94.9.

Hey, that looks familiar! Maybe we wrote it!

But we laid down the facts shortly thereafter:

It’s not that we don’t expect her to land at “The Wave” eventually…there’s just no place for her right now, and certainly not in her natural midday time slot.

WNWV middayer Mark Ribbins is just as vital to the new/returned station as a bridge to “The Wave’s” smooth jazz history.

We have no indication that any of that has changed.

So, if you’re a big Nancy Alden fan, catch her on “107.3 The Wave” on Wednesday from 10 AM to 2 PM…we’ll let you know if anything else develops for her on the radio, anywhere…

TV BOMBSHELL: The TV station long owned by Youngstown’s Williamson family has gone through a lot of ownership changes in recent years.

Here comes another.

But if the scuttlebutt we’re hearing is accurate, that might be a good thing for Youngstown CBS affiliate WKBN/27 and its sister station, WYFX-LD/19 “Fox Youngstown”.

Unlike some past transactions, current WKBN/WYFX owner New Vision is selling the entire group (covering 8 markets) to LIN TV.

From a release sent directly to us by New Vision:

For a purchase price of $330.4 million and the assumption of some debt, LIN Television Corporation will acquire the assets of New Vision’s owned stations. New Vision’s assets include 17 stations in eight television markets: Portland, Birmingham, Honolulu, Wichita, Savannah, Youngstown, Topeka, and Mason City. The agreement is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions, and New Vision expects the acquisition to close before the end of 2012.

The “unlike some past transactions” line is a veiled reference to Los Angeles-based Parkin Broadcasting basically holding the license to Youngstown ABC affiliate WYTV/33, with operations turned over to, umm, New Vision.

TVNewsCheck reports that LIN will assume New Vision’s operating agreements, which include the “shared services agreement” that brought WYTV’s news and operations to Sunset Boulevard.

We don’t know much about LIN, but we’re told they’re considered one of the more solid operators…especially in today’s TV climate. We hope that bodes well for the folks in Youngstown, where operations for WKBN-TV, WYFX, and WYTV are also joined by WYTV’s “My YTV” MyNetwork TV subchannel at 33.2, and the station’s weather subchannel at 33.3…

HIS 100.1: For most of our readers, a spin by 100.1 on the FM dial brings them such notables as Howie Chizek and Bob Golic, bringing talk radio to a decent chunk of Northeast Ohio from their perch between Kent and Ravenna on Ohio 59.

But this is not about WNIR/100.1, “The Talk of Akron”.

Once you get past, say, Medina to the west, you’ll now hear classic hits music on a station that went through with its format change on Friday. Or rather, a format return.

WSWR/100.1 Shelby, licensed to a small town north of Mansfield, has a long history with the oldies format.

At one time, it was one of Northern Ohio’s affiliates of SMN/ABC’s 24 hour “Pure Gold” format…which we believe is still being heard not far away on BAS Broadcasting’s WOHF/92.1 Bellevue “The Wolf”…under whatever name current format owner Cumulus uses these days.

(“Oldies Radio”? “Greatest Mojo”? It’s been called about every possible name…we still miss “Zippo in the Morning”… )

Until December, WSWR was in the classic hits format as “My 100.1 and 98.3”, the latter being the 98.3 licensed to Fredericktown.

Then, both stations were appended to the talk format airing on WMAN/1400 Mansfield, and the classic hits went away.

It is being positioned as “heavy public demand” that returned WSWR to the format as “My 100.1”.

Clear Channel regional programming manager and OMW reader Keith Kennedy tells us:

I’ve never been involved with a situation where the public was so vocal about a switch. To the credit of Margie Tasseff (GSM), and programmers Rusty Cates and Ron Colman, they pushed to undo the moves/changes of last December…and as a result Classic Hits returns to My 100.1fm.

And the station’s press release quotes Tasseff:

My 100.1 General Sales Manager Margie Tasseff said comments from the public lead to the return of the music station after a simulcast of WMAN-AM. “Phone calls, emails, I was even stopped in the grocery store more than a few times. We are thrilled to bring back a station that the community embraced, and we hope they will do it again.”

As noted, 98.3 Fredericktown remains in the WMAN simulcast with 1400 AM, and takes the WMAN-FM calls as 100.1 returns to its historic WSWR calls…

WAIT WAIT…GET TICKETS!: The popular NPR weekend comedy news quiz “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” is coming to Northeast Ohio.

From a news release helpfully provided to us about the June 28th event in Cleveland by the talented Ann VerWiebe in Kent State University public radio outlet WKSU/89.7’s Marketing and Public Relations Department – and really, to us, she IS the department:

The event takes place at Playhouse Square’s State Theatre and audience members must be in their seats by 7 p.m. Tickets go on sale to the general public on May 16 at 11 a.m. through the Playhouse Square box office – (216) 241-6000 or (866) 546-1353 or online at www.playhousesquare.org. The live presentation will be taped and edited for broadcast on NPR stations nationwide the weekend of June 30 and July 1.

Though the release came from WKSU’s Ann VerWiebe, a long time Friend of OMW, the “Wait Wait” event at Cleveland’s State Theatre is actually a cooperative effort of WKSU and Ideastream public radio outlet WCPN/90.3, which has its studios a very short walk from the State Theatre on Playhouse Square.

The Cleveland appearance is a return to Northeast Ohio for the Chicago-based “Wait Wait”. WKSU sponsored a show at the Akron Civic Theatre in 2003.

WKSU airs the program Saturdays at 11 AM, and it is heard on WCPN at 2 PM on Sundays…

ANDROID CORNER: Unlike Ann, who carries around an iPhone, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) has been in the smartphone world of Android since 2009.

We’re happy to pass along word that WKYC/3 has released a general Android news app. The station has been on the Android platform with its WKYC Radar app (thanks to the WSI folks) for some time.

Fellow blogger, WKYC senior director and now fellow media watcher Frank Macek has the details.

While you’re at Macek’s “WKYC Director’s Cut” blog, check out his account of a recent “all high definition remote” “Channel 3 News” newscast, which contained live, high definition video from the field from start to end.

Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s “NewsChannel 5” was the first to send HD video from its remote trucks. As far as we know, WKYC was the first to use the “LiveU” HD backpack video system we featured here in a previous item…

Weekend Cleanup

With such a busy week, even the weekend provides us with the opportunity to clean up news from the remainder of the week…

NOLAN RADIO AND THEN SOME: We were mostly playing around last week when we were speculating about the radio future of now-former Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 morning news co-anchor Mark Nolan.

Though that speculation intersected with changes at CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1, now known as “New 102”, it turns out Mark’s return to radio will take place at a different location – not at One Radio Lane, but at 6200 Oak Tree Boulevard.

News started getting out Friday when Clear Channel Cleveland staffers openly congratulated Nolan on Twitter for an unspecified gig in that Independence building… and it didn’t take long for us to uncover what that gig will be.

Mark Nolan takes over the midday shift (10 AM-2 PM) at Clear Channel classic hits WMJI/105.7 “Majic 105.7”, starting February 6th.

Though the outside press release wasn’t due until next week, our friends at Oak Tree recognized the Cat Was Out Of The Bag (between us and a note from the folks at Cleveland Magazine), and issued that release on Friday.

And it reminds readers that despite a long tenure as a weather forecaster and news anchor at WKYC, Nolan has not at all been a stranger to radio:

He has been guest hosting on the station since 1995 and for nearly seven years Nolan’s weather forecasts were broadcasted during the Lanigan & Malone Morning Show. He has worked in a variety of positions, both on-air and in production, with roles throughout Ohio at WNIR and WKDD in Akron and WZKL in Canton. Nolan also spent 18 years on-air at NBC Affiliate WKYC TV. He is a Cleveland native and a graduate of Kent State University.

Nolan will replace Chuck Collier, Cleveland radio legend, who unexpectedly passed away on September 22, 2011. Collier spent nearly 40 years on-air in Cleveland as part of sister station, WGAR, and WMJI since 2005.

“I’m looking forward to sharing ‘Cleveland’s Greatest Hits’ with Northeast Ohio on a daily basis,” said Nolan. “I have a passion for radio and I am honored to join such a great heritage station in my hometown.”

Of course, that part about replacing Chuck Collier needs an asterisk, as the midday shift on WMJI was actually a second voicetracking job to Chuck’s main role as afternoon driver at country WGAR/99.5.

And in that role, Oak Tree has also announced that fill-in Shotgun Taylor will take WGAR’s afternoon drive slot, and will be permanently heard 2-7 PM weekdays.

Another asterisk here, of course, as “Shotgun Taylor” (as even readers of the Cleveland Plain Dealer now know) is the on-air persona of WGAR program director Charley Connolly…who started voicetracking the station’s evening show in April 2010.

The station says long-time WGAR voice Kat Jackson will be now be heard 7 PM to midnight, though it doesn’t say where she’ll be based.

Kat actually worked at WGAR for a number of years, before heading to sister Washington DC market country station WMZQ as its assistant program director/night personality. She left that station in August

PUPPET JOURNALISM: When we heard that the folks at Reserve Square have been using puppets to re-enact portions of the corruption trial of former Cuyahoga County commissioner Jimmy Dimora, the item almost started writing itself.

Yes, Raycom Media’s Cleveland TV news circus, WOIO/19-WUAB/43’s “19 Action News”, had its newest act. And we’re no stranger to chronicling those acts right here in your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

But it’s not quite as simple as that, and “19 Action News” actually has some admirers in the journalistic community for “The Puppet’s Court”…and that’s saying something.

Oh, sure, not everyone’s on board…like associate professor Randy Reeves of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, who tells the Plain Dealer’s John Caniglia:

“It’s entertaining … it’s professionally done, but it’s not news…This is a line I wouldn’t cross. The visual distracts from some pretty serious stuff. Even at the end of the newscast, it’s puppets. I can’t get past that.”

But others make the broader point: in 2012, the federal justice system does not allow cameras or microphones into the courtroom, long after most local jurisdictions have routinely allowed them.

Rubber City Radio VP/information media and long-time OMW reader Ed Esposito makes the point on the website of the Radio-Television Digital News Association:

We should consider the irony that much of the government’s case against Mr. Dimora was built on the same type of technology citizens are denied in seeing justice at work; recorded telephone conversation, video surveillance, the use of computer programs to track transactions and contracts are tools the people’s government (and the defense) have available to present their case. But the tool of the people — the media, through its reporters — cannot use the recordings or actual testimony of those involved because it’s in federal court.

Or as Ed says later:

No free and open society should tolerate someone else pulling the strings otherwise when it comes to the public’s justice system. That is, unless we’re comfortable with the image of Big Bird sending folks to the Big House.

As a local newsie, Esposito is certainly no stranger to the antics at Reserve Square over the years, noting the station’s “aggressive style” in the RTDNA piece.

But he says he has “great respect for the creative vision that uses one of the oldest forms of entertainment (and satire) to not only portray details surrounding one of the biggest public corruption cases to hit Ohio but also make a statement on the federal judiciary’s long-outdated insistence that public understanding of justice is still rooted in the time of Johannes Gutenberg and now the technology employed a thousand years ago by storytellers: puppetry.”

Since it is “19 Action News” we’re talking about here, we’re only surprised that the Puppet Prostitute portrayed in one of the “Puppet Court” segments kept her shirt on…

SPEAKING OF ED: …who’s about to get “Ed’s Corner”, much in the style of another long-time Friend of OMW, WKSU public relations/marketing guru Ann VerWiebe…

Esposito, a veteran Northeast Ohio broadcast journalist, has long had ties with the aforementioned Radio-Television Digital News Association and its educational arm, the Radio-Television Digital News Foundation.

After serving as chairman of both RTDNA and RTDNF, Ed stepped down from direct involvement with the organization…for a while. But he’s back as secretary/treasurer of the RTDNF.

Not that Ed isn’t busy enough, of course, overseeing all news operations for Akron-based Rubber City Radio Group, which owns news/oldies WAKR/1590, rock WONE/97.5 and country WQMX/94.9 in Akron, the news website AkronNewsNow.com, and its latest addition, Cleveland market smooth AC WNWV/107.3 “The Wave”.

The RCRG West Market Street newsroom provides Cleveland news and traffic to “The Wave”, and has recently added its weekly public affairs program “Spectrum” – with a regionally-expanded focus – to the WNWV airwaves.

WNWV itself is temporarily broadcasting from a West Market Street production studio, until making the physical move to a new Independence studio sometime in the spring…

TV CAROUSEL: No, the Carousel of TV Changes hasn’t stopped going around this week.

The latest news on the TV side of things is a word of a new 12 noon co-anchor at Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8’s “Fox 8 News”.

She’s Jennifer Jordan, a New York City TV market veteran most recently seen on CW network affiliate WPIX/11, who’s also been seen on nearly all the other major New York City news operations over the past 10 years.

The New York Daily News had first word of Jordan’s move to Cleveland, and says she’ll start at “Fox 8 News” on January 30th…

TRY, TRY AGAIN: Clear Channel in Cleveland now has a second construction permit for its attempt to mount an FM translator at 99.1.

Long-time OMW readers know that the translator was given the approval to make the move…first from its Lorain-licensed site (W262BN/100.3) to a temporary turn-it-on-for-one-day location in North Ridgeville (W259BI/99.7), to the eventual permanent home for what will apparently become W256BT, the 250 watt 99.1 faciility on the tower of Clear Channel sister station WMJI.

“Not so fast”, the FCC said after issuing the 99.1 construction permit the first time.

That CP was rescinded with a request for more technical documentation, and last week, the newly revised application got another FCC approval.

Though absolutely no information has even been rumored locally, it appears somewhat likely that Clear Channel intends to add 99.1 as a presence on the FM dial for talk WTAM/1100 (“Newsradio WTAM 1100…now on 99.1 FM!”).

Clear Channel has made a number of similar moves recently in other markets, using FM translators to get heritage AM talkers on the FM band with a second signal.

In other markets, the company has blown up underperforming full-power FM stations to provide new FM homes for AM talk formats (Sacramento’s KFBK is the most recent example)… but that’s not an option in Cleveland…

BYE, BYE, MCFLY: A veteran weekend personality at a local country station is heading south.

But it’s not another radio job that has Rubber City Radio country WQMX/94.9 personality George McFly heading for new vistas in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

George’s wife has accepted a new position there with her company, so Saturday, the WQMX personality said “farewell” to his audience, as he’s heading to Arkansas with his family next week.

McFly has certainly had a high profile at the Akron market country powerhouse, and not just on weekends.

George was a regular fill-in for WQMX’s “Wynn & Wilson in the Morning”, and was often called on to work middays, afternoons and nights during the week.

He also served as the videographer and photographer for station events and concerts, and helped the station launch its social media presence.

George McFly tells OMW:

“I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Rubber City Radio Group. To have an owner who supports live and local radio is so awesome.

I need to thank Ken Steel for hiring me and Program Director Sue Wilson for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the success of WQMX.

I will miss my WQMX family and the great listeners who have made me a part of their lives for many years.

Our listeners are one-of-a-kind.. it’s great getting calls from listeners to see how my kids are doing, share things about their life or just to say Hi.

I leave here with so many great memories and hope to one day return to the area. Keep it Real & Keep it Country!”

George can be reached via E-mail, Facebook and Twitter. And in his new Arkansas home market of Fort Smith, McFly hopes to continue his career in country music radio…

BREAKING: CBS News’ Russ Mitchell Joins WKYC

It’s not often that a major news correspondent leaves one of the legacy “big three” news organizations to take a job at the affiliate level.

In an unprecedented move, Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 has made official the hiring of CBS News correspondent/”Evening News” weekend anchor Russ Mitchell as their new evening news managing editor, and primary 6pm/11pm weeknight anchor. He succeeds Romona Robinson, who left WKYC on December 16 after her contract ran out.

Russ’ start date at WKYC is January 16. His last day at CBS News will be Christmas Eve. A co-anchor will be announced soon as well, per GM Brooke Spectorsky’s comments to TV Spy and the Plain Dealer.

Russ had been a part of CBS News for the past 20 years, being the first anchor of the overnight “Up To The Minute” in 1992, later contributing to the short-lived “Eye to Eye with Connie Chung” and “48 Hours.”  Most recently, he was the anchor of “The Saturday Early Show” and the weekend editions of the “CBS Evening News,” in addition to being the network’s top correspondent and a regular contributor to the “CBS Evening News” and “CBS News Sunday Morning.” He has also reported on the devastation of Hurricane Frances, the Columbia shuttle disaster, the war in Bosnia, the attacks of September 11th 2001, the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, every presidential campaign since 1992 and four presidential inaugurations.

Prior to joining CBS, Russ reported and anchored for stations in Dallas, Kansas City and his native St. Louis.

More at TV Spy, TV Newser (which features the memo from CBS News president David Rhodes), Broadcasting & Cable, The Plain Dealer, WKYC.com and WKYC’s Director’s Cut.