Exclusive And Digital

This is an exclusive blog post about local Cleveland TV. It will appear on no other blog…until someone picks up our RSS feed or links to us, of course. But at the moment we’re typing this, it’s exclusive. Honest.

FUN WITH RESERVE SQUARE: The reason our tongue is so firmly in cheek above is due to Reserve Square.

Raycom Media’s WOIO/19-WUAB/43 “19 Action News” breathlessly promoted an “exclusive” interview of Joe Jackson, father of the late Michael Jackson, on the 10 PM edition of “19 Action News” on WUAB “My 43″.

Conducting the interview was 19′s Sharon Reed – and unlike one of the last times she had an “exclusive interview”, she was actually the one asking Jackson the questions, live on set.

The interview, as of this writing late Friday morning, is still tagged on the “19 Action News” website, in bold, red letters, as a “SHARON REED EXCLUSIVE”.

Here’s our problem with Reserve Square: To them, “exclusive” apparently means “the only station interviewing Joe Jackson on Thursday night”.

For today (Friday), the father of the late King of Pop – in town for events at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and Cleveland State University – has already appeared live on Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8′s “Fox 8 News in the Morning”, and then on Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3′s “Good Company Today”.

He also has a scheduled appearance later today on Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5′s “Live on Five”.

We haven’t checked Univision O&O WQHS/61, but we half expect him to appear in that station’s lobby for its weekend public affairs show.

Again, unless there was a chromakey effect in play, at least Sharon Reed was actually sitting next to Joe Jackson, and was actually interviewing him…but exclusive?

Jackson’s appearance in town is newsworthy because it comes on the first anniversary of his son’s death…and the Rock Hall will hold events marking that somber anniversary with Joe Jackson present. We hear the events at the Rock Hall are “exclusive”…at least as far as rock museums go…

AND DIGITAL: Those following our Twitter account know we made the round of local TV stations’ smartphone applications – with particular interest paid to the Android platform used by your Primary Editorial Voice(tm).

And as it turns out, all the Cleveland market TV news operations that have smartphone apps also have Android versions.

We already knew about, and installed, the Android version of WEWS/5′s application.

But it took reader tips to direct us to the Android app for WJW/8 “Fox 8″, and to one for WOIO/19′s “19 Action News”.

We don’t have an iPhone here at OMW World Headquarters, so we can only compare the Android versions of the above apps.

In our view, the Android “NewsNet5″ application is by far the most complete, with the most news stories, video, weather radar and other features.

The “Fox 8 News” app and the “19 Action News to Go” app are actually produced by the same provider, LSN.

They’re both somewhat limited compared to the WEWS app. “Fox 8 News” only has about two or three local stories and two or three local videos. “19 Action News” has a significantly larger haul of local news stories, but no video of any sort.

And in the “it sticks in our craw” department: The “Fox 8 News” Android app, though it actually has a “Live Video” button, does not offer the station’s live video feed during local/news programming. The underlying screen says it’s for the iPhone, and clicking the video screenshot reveals – a text URL for the iPhone streaming, and nothing more.

We assume they’re working on this, or they wouldn’t have a “Live Video” button on the Android version – right?

You can pick up the “Fox 8″ Android app at this link.

We include it because we had trouble finding it in the Android Market.

Searching “WJW” did not work, and searching “Fox 8″ brought up two other apps in addition to the local version – including Local TV sister station WGHP/8 in the Greensboro NC market.

As you’ll note on the file description linked above, “Fox8 Flash” has no indication that it is for WJW in Cleveland.

We found the “19 Action News” app by searching for WOIO.

As far as we know, Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 has no smartphone apps, though it does have a version formatted for mobile browsers (mobile link).

For our iPhone friends, we apologize for another detour into Android land, but local TV stations having iPhone apps really is not news anymore…

Clearing Out

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

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

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

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

Stand down. Nevermind.

Taylor notes that the rumored talks are apparently dead:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah, but newspapers strike again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing His Dream

UPDATE: Our friends at CursedCleveland.com point out in a comment below that Tony has just tweeted about a new job:

Just took a job in N Carolina w/ ISP Networks… on the air with UW Huskies broadcasts on KJR in Seattle. Thanks for all your support!!!!

Congratulations, Tony!

Our original item is below:


Tony Castricone is by far not the first Ohio media person to lose his job and wonder “what now?”. It’s how he answered that question that brings his story to OMW.

The former Columbus TV/radio sportscaster didn’t just send out resumes and video and audio clips when he found himself looking for work recently. He embarked on an ambitious journey that could change his life – one way or the other.

Tony tells OMW:

“Instead of looking for another job right away, someone said ‘do what you always wanted to do.’ I decided to cash out my 401K and be a touring musician, since that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been playing guitar for 11 years.”

From there, it was an extensive Google search for “open mic” nights at various locations across the country – “the biggest and best”, Tony tells us. That resulted in a 40 day, 10,000 mile cross-country music tour Castricone is currently undertaking.

Upon realizing “he didn’t have the money to do this”, he turned to friends to raise the money for his road trip.

Oh, Castricone got into a car accident just before heading out, and had to arrange to buy a new car – while unemployed.

Tony tells us that he’s “living the experience of a lifetime”, in the middle of a tour that started June 10th, and will finish on July 20th.

He tells us:

“I’ve gotten dozens of emails, many from complete strangers, who have told me they were inspired to do what THEY’VE always wanted to do from hearing the story. One signed up for cooking classes, one started taking piano lessons. Some just vent their frustrations to me about getting laid off and say the story’s giving them hope!! What an incredible experience.”

Tony has also hit various media outlets, appearing on TV in Columbus, Baltimore and other cities to tell his story.

That story is on the web here, and his on-the-road-from-the-tour blog is here, with plenty of video and audio.

Our best of luck to Tony, and we thank him for a very inspiring tale!

Monday Lunch

OK, so we’re thinking of food as we get this late morning Monday update underway. Expect us to stop this from time to time as we raid our own kitchen…

SHE’S HERE: Imagine our surprise when OMW received a press release – directly – from Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 on its latest addition at “NewsChannel 5″, assistant news director Roberta Petterson.

We got the full press treatment from WEWS, including a photo of Ms. Petterson.

Since we have the release, let’s quote it:

WEWS NewsChannel 5 has named a Pittsburgh television executive as Assistant News Director. Roberta Petterson comes to WEWS from WTAE in Pittsburgh, where she also held the position of Assistant News Director. While there, she led WTAE’s newscast development, breaking news, investigative coverage and special projects.

“Roberta’s track record of success in guiding a dynamic news staff in a multiple-platform environment will enable NewsChannel 5 to continue to deliver Northeast Ohio’s leading news coverage,” said WEWS News Director Jill Manuel.

Petterson was responsible for WTAE’s coverage of last year’s Pennsylvania Primary and has played a key role in that station’s superior political coverage. Under Petterson’s leadership, WTAE’s investigative team won a Peabody and National IRE in 2008. She also won Murrow and Headliner awards for driving breaking news and big story coverage.

If this story sounds familiar to you, you’re not dreaming…we broke news of this hiring over a month ago. (But we still appreciate the official release.)

Though we assume Ms. Petterson will be welcomed as a person and a new manager at 3001 Euclid, there has been some question within that building if a new assistant news director hire is a good idea in the current economic environment…in a world of hiring freezes, contract non-renewals and the like.

Our earlier item said Petterson would take her new role at WEWS on August 3rd.

As a note, WEWS parent Scripps just announced financial results that look like all the other big TV groups…according to this report from TVNewsCheck, the new name for the former TVNewsday trade site:

The E.W. Scripps Co. today reported second-quarter operating results for its television, newspaper, and licensing and syndication businesses. Revenue from the company’s television stations was $61.1 million, a decrease of 24 percent from the second quarter of 2008.

You can almost predict TV revenue reports – they’re all down roughly 20-30% from the same quarter in 2008…

YOUNGSTOWN TV CHANGES: As the New Vision stations in Youngstown prepare for Life After Bankruptcy, they’re making some changes on the air.

New Vision-operated Parkin ABC affiliate WYTV/33 is leaving the 5 PM news game, as the company is no longer going to compete with itself at 5 for news viewers.

In what should be no surprise for a Youngstown media item, the information about this is from Andrea Wood and her Youngstown Business Journal:

As the operators of WKBN/WYFX and WYTV sail through bankruptcy reorganization with a hearing set for Sept. 10 to confirm the restructuring of $400 million in debt, local management today announced it will eliminate one newscast effective Sept. 21.

WYTV’s 5 p.m. weekday newscast will be replaced with a syndicated version of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” says Dave Coy, general manager of the three TV stations. WYTV will continue to broadcast a local news program at 5:30 p.m., he notes.

There’s a funny line in there, somewhere, about “Smarter Than a 5th Grader”, but we’ll let you come up with it in your own mind.

Since WYTV and WKBN are both operated by New Vision out of WKBN’s long-time Sunset Boulevard home, it makes sense for the company not to mount two (semi-) different newscasts at the same time…as it hopes news viewers will stick with 27 at 5, and head for 33 if they’re not looking for news.

Willl the move increase “27 First News”‘ ratings at 5 PM, as it would only have to compete with Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21 for news viewers at that half-hour? They hope so, we presume.

But along with others in that market, we wonder how long New Vision will attempt to differentiate news content between “First News” and “33 News” with different reporters…or if 27/33 will see Erie-style news simulcasting at some point.

The station does say that no jobs will be lost in the move, and says there are no expected job losses as a result of the New Vision bankruptcy filing…a Chapter 11 filng that came packaged with help from the company’s lenders. Nominal WYTV owner Parkin Broadcasting – which got financial help from New Vision to buy WYTV – is in the same proverbial boat…

A BOOST: There haven’t been many complaints from Cleveland over-air digital TV viewers about the 1000 kW signal from CW affiliate WBNX/55.

But the station got FCC approval for a slight upgrade back in July. (Heads up to reader Andrew for the FCC approval link, which we also missed earlier!)

The new construction permit calls for WBNX’s antenna to move about 25 meters or so higher on its Parma tower, at the same 1000 kW power level.

As TV reception is as much about height as it is about power level, some WBNX viewers on the fringes of the signal could see some improvement.

But in the List of Local TV Station Reception Complaints, the local CW outlet is way below such former powerhouses as Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8, and a certain alleged CBS affiliate claiming to serve the Cleveland TV market…

AND ONE RADIO ITEM: Though it’s firmly within the territory of our friends at Tri-State Media Watch, the word “Cleveland” is in there somewhere.

From John Kiesewetter’s blog on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s website:

Christian WAKW-FM (Star 93.3) has a new boss: Randy James has been hired as program director to replace Kurt Wallace, who left in April to a Christian station on the air in Indianapolis. James has worked for WVMX-FM in Cleveland, WMMX-FM in Dayton and KHMX-FM in Houston.

Assuming Mr. James did indeed work at “Mix 106.5″ here, the call letters, of course, are WMVX, not WVMX. The latter calls, once in Cincinnati, are now on Saga’s “Mix 107.9″ in the Columbus market…

Monday’s Breakfast Menu

So, we’re a bit hungry, but are out of eggs…

THERE’S A REASON THEY’RE LOOKING: Late last month, as we were swimming in news of Clear Channel’s latest nationwide job cuts, we got a couple of interesting questions from readers.

They’d spotted a relatively new “help wanted” ad placed on various trade websites by Clear Channel’s Cleveland cluster on Oak Tree Boulevard in suburban Independence:

News Anchor/Reporter – Cleveland, Ohio

Newsradio WTAM 1100, Cleveland, Ohio has a full time opportunity in news for an anchor/reporter. Strong writing and web skills required. If you’re a passionate team player send, audio CD or MP3 newscast and resume to: Darren Toms Director of News Operations Clear Channel Radio 6200 Oak Tree Boulevard, Suite 400 Independence, Ohio 44131 e-mail: dtoms (at) wtam.com No phone calls please. WTAM, Clear Channel Radio, is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

A regular OMW reader tells us the ad above was posted on AllAccess’ Job Market section just before Oak Tree said goodbye to WTAM/1100 afternoon producers/co-hosts Marty “Big Daddy” Allen and Paul Rado, and to WMVX/106.5 “Mix 106.5″ morning hosts Brian Fowler and Joe Cronauer.

The questions posed by our readers: Four out, one in at Oak Tree?

We found out relatively quickly, but didn’t get a Round Tuit(tm) during the wave of Clear Channel job cuts…the job ad appeared because of someone leaving Oak Tree on their own.

WTAM anchor/reporter Ted Klopp is no longer in the building at Clear Channel’s Cleveland cluster, but not due to a job cut.

We heard that he was leaving radio to work with a family business, news that was seemingly confirmed on WTAM’s afternoon drive talk fest with Mike Trivisonno this past Friday.

Triv spent much of the afternoon needling Klopp for going to work for his wife’s “rich family”, and joked that as a veteran news reporter, Klopp was just drooling over the prospect of a big news story breaking before he walked out of the building at 5 PM that day.

We don’t know if WTAM is still looking for a replacement for Ted, or if they’ll shuffle the lineup and promote someone into his job.

Since the company’s Cleveland newsroom is once again tasked with feeding a four-station “news hub”, it may not be a surprise if they actually hire someone to directly replace him…or directly replace someone who would be moved up into that job.

And best of luck to Ted Klopp as he moves on to the next stage of his life…Beyond Radio…

LOOKING UP: We couldn’t resist the temptation to look again, so we drove the OMW Mobile to the Parma/Seven Hills border once again late Sunday…and checked out the progress of the under construction WKYC/WVIZ tower just over a month before the planned national digital TV transition date of June 12.

We were told by readers a couple of weeks ago that the tower appeared “about half finished”.

We’re not very good at doing “on the fly” estimates, but here are some pictures.

In our estimation, the new tower is now about two-thirds the way up the existing tower next to it.

While we’re no experts at how towers are constructed (paging long-time friend, colleague and World Championship Tower Hunter Scott Fybush!), it would appear to us that the tower pictured could be done well before that June 12th deadline, which is the only date that really matters in this whole thing.

FCC-wise, NBC affiliate WKYC/3 has their backup plan…they can stay on digital RF channel 2 for a number of months, thanks to a Special Temporary Authority granted by the FCC, even after analog channel 3 signs off.

Similarly, PBS affiliate WVIZ/25 can camp out on its own temporary facility mounted to a nearby secondary tower at the WKYC site, as it signs off analog channel 25 in June.

But you can bet that both stations don’t want to have to use those options.

Barring any unforeseen problems, our semi-educated guess is that the new facilities for both WKYC and WVIZ will be up and running at the transition.

Though WVIZ could well power up the new digital facility before June 12th, we believe WKYC is going to wait to make the RF 2 to RF 17 switch on that date…

AND ABOUT THAT TWC HD ITEM: We’d like to conduct a little survey.

As we reported over the weekend, Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio system has started offering its newest wave of HDTV channels.

We also reported that the launch was linked to Switched Digital Video, a system being implemented in much of Time Warner Cable’s local footprint. We heard from the company that some parts of the former Adelphia system based in Cleveland hadn’t yet been converted, but would get the new channels when “SDV” was implemented.

Since Saturday, we’ve received a handful of reports that some areas are getting either no video on some channels, or picture breakups, or the like. (Here at OMW World Headquarters somewhere in the former Adelphia system, we’re still trouble-free with all the new channels.)

So, either in comments to this item, or in E-mail, we’d like to hear from you if you’re having problems with the new TWC HDTV channel offerings.

Make sure you tell us where you are, which part of the TWC system you’re on (i.e. are you a former Adelphia customer, a former Comcast customer or a “legacy” Time Warner Cable customer), and what problems you’re experiencing.

We’ll pass it along to our contacts at the cable company, and we’ll see if the information helps them iron out the bugs that may still be out there for some…

Two Fer Tuesday

And we’re back for a Two-Fer Tuesday!

(OK, so we never have said that phrase, ever, on-air or off…there’s a first time for everything! And we do have two items, and it is Tuesday as we write this…)

APARTMENT FIRE KILLS MAN, AND…: One of Cleveland’s top news stories this Tuesday morning was the fire at a downtown Cleveland apartment building, which killed the resident of one apartment.

WOIO/19′s “19 Action News” reports that the fire was contained to the 13th floor apartment of the victim, 27 year-old Brett McDavid, though a water main break sent water into the basement of the building. Mr. McDavid had apparently started cooking, and left it unattended.

Now, we’re not a general news source, and don’t usually talk about fatal apartment fires…but this is a local media story as well.

We also don’t generally cite or link to “19 Action News” for information, but the CBS affiliate and co-owned MyNetwork TV outlet WUAB/43 were actually part of the story this morning – since the apartment was in a certain downtown Cleveland apartment/hotel/office building we have mentioned here often:

19 Action News Studios are located in the basement of Reserve Square and were off-air for approximately an hour.

14 stories below, WOIO/WUAB still got dumped on…by a water main break that happened in the effort to fight the fire above.

When we first heard the story, we wondered if the victim had been an employee of the local Raycom Media stations – with an elevator ride comprising his commute to work.

We were close, says “19 Action News”:

19 Action News has learned McDavid worked as a bartender at Scorchers – a bar restaurant inside Reserve Square.

Since the sports bar is just above WOIO, and has been the home of 19′s non-official Cleveland Browns pre-game coverage, he probably ran into more than one station staffer at some point.

Our condolences to Mr. McDavid’s family…

FOXY BROWNS: While watching the Browns lose to the World Champion New York Football Giants in last night’s pre-season contest, we found out the local TV disposition of some of the team’s national games.

The game on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was aired locally by Local TV-owned FOX affiliate WJW/8 “FOX 8″ in Cleveland.

NFL rules require all non-broadcast games to be offered to TV stations in the two teams’ home markets…and that’s a Big Deal this year because the Browns have five prime-time games in 2008, four of them airing on ESPN or the NFL Network. (The fifth is an NBC “Sunday Night Football” contest that’ll air locally on NBC affiliate WKYC/3.)

Right at the end of the WJW-produced “Kickoff Countdown”, FOX 8′s Tony Rizzo announced that all of the ESPN “Monday Night Football” games involving the Browns will air on WJW.

A quick check of the Browns’ website schedule shows that’ll include the October 13th regular season contest with the very same Giants at Cleveland Browns Stadium, along with two road games – November 17th at Buffalo, and December 15th at Philadelphia.

Rizzo didn’t mention a regular season FOX contest that WJW gets anyway, due to its network affiliation: the team’s opener on September 7th against the Dallas Cowboys. With the FOX-favorite Cowboys and a 4:15 PM (ET) start, that’s likely to be seen by most of the country.

With the ESPN games on FOX 8, and the September 14th “Sunday Night Football” Browns/Steelers game on WKYC via its NBC affiliation, that leaves one prime-time Browns game unaccounted for – the Thursday night, November 6th home game against the Denver Broncos, which will be aired nationally on the NFL Network.

We’d assume that if WJW picked up the rights to that game, they’d have trumpeted it on Sunday night along with listing the ESPN contests. So, either someone else bought the local rights to that game, or the local carrier hasn’t been announced yet. (Or, we’ve missed it if it has been.)

The game WILL be aired by one of the local network affiliates, due to the aforementioned NFL rules.

And Browns fans can be thankful for those rules, because there’s still no deal in sight between NFL Network and the dominant local cable provider, Time Warner Cable. The NFL Network folks won’t be able to use the game as leverage, since those rules mean it WILL air in the Cleveland TV market on an over-air station.

The two remaining Browns pre-season contests will air on WKYC, as part of the station’s rights deal with the local NFL team.

WKYC’s Jim Donovan will return to doing TV play-by-play for those two games.

Donovan was heard back at his perch as the Radio Voice of the Browns on Sunday night on the Browns Radio Network, hubbed at Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7, and also heard Sunday night on talk WTAM/1100, which carries the team’s games when there’s no conflict with the Cleveland Indians…

Wrapping Up Some Loose Ends

…and waiting for others.

First, a reminder: OMW will be sporadically updated between now and January 2nd, 2008. We will continue to provide “major” breaking news – i.e. format changes, sales, and major personality moves – throughout the holidays, into 2008.

And by our count, we’ve got at least a couple or three of those waiting to happen…

NOT YET, BUT…: We haven’t heard an official announcement, even within the building, of a potential new hire by a Cleveland TV station. We hinted at it earlier.

We’re still waiting for the shoe to drop, and we’ll let you know as soon as we are able to do so. We’re pretty confident that it’ll happen…

HOW CINCINNATI SHOOK OUT: Just to “get it on the record here”, Cincinnati market FM talk outlet WFTK/96.5 “SuperTalk FM”‘s new format is indeed rock, as the station now carries the “96 Rock – Cincinnati’s Pure Rock” moniker.

And by the logo on the station’s still-under-construction new website, which carries the slogan “Angry in the morning, pissed all day”, it would appear that former sports talk act “The Two Angry Guys” (Richard Skinner and Tom Gamble) will return to their former morning perch on 96.5 at the start of 2008.

And unless “pissed” refers to the mood of “SuperTalk” afternoon drive host Andy Furman when he heard about the format change, he’s likely out the door.

Even from the outside, where we’ve been following the changes in that market, you almost need to buy a faster computer to keep track of all the changes in Cincinnati in the past year or two.

Remember, Furman was the long-time evening “SportsTalk” host on the market’s dominant station, WLW/700, before he ran into the Bengals’ T.J. Houshmanzadeh and lost. (So have the Bengals, but that’s another matter.)

The “Angry Guys” got split up at sports talk WCKY, now “1530 Homer”, and eventually reunited on the FM dial, where Furman had landed as well.

Now, instead of being followed by sports talk or political talk, Skinner and Gamble will be anchoring morning drive at a rock station that will presumably have a rock-and-roll “attitude” the size of a Mack truck.

Furman? There wouldn’t appear to be any in-market options for him, unless someone changes to a sports or talk format and takes him on. Clear Channel once again has a market-wide monopoly on both talk and sports, between WLW, WKRC/550, WCKY, WSAI (now sports “ESPN 1360″).

And though we wouldn’t QUITE bet the OMW World Headquarters against it, it seems very, very, very unlikely that he’d be welcomed back to CC’s Kenwood complex any time soon…or even after that.

OMW is reminded that there were brief rumors that Furman was talking with the folks at North American Broadcasting Columbus FM talk outlet WTDA/103.9 “Talk FM”, before he landed with Cumulus and WFTK. We haven’t heard any similar rumors now, but it’s just a data point from the past…

AND WHILE WE’RE IN COLUMBUS: One thing most of our readers have learned since OMW started in August 2005…don’t depend on us for perfect descriptions of music format stations and their playlists.

So, we’d like to delineate the formats used by two Clear Channel stations with similar on-air positioning: WMRN-FM-to-be-changed/106.7, the new Columbus market “Radio 106.7″, and WNFF/94.1 in the Cincinnati market, the former WVMX “Mix 94.1″ now going as “Radio 94.1″.

We first dip back into the OMW archives for a format description of the Cincinnati “Radio” version:

The new “Radio 94.1,” according to a Clear Channel source, will be a “guitar and pop” variety station targeting females ages 25-39. It is a new type of Adult Contemporary radio station that is being positioned as “Starbucks” style music. The DJs, to be named in the future, will be more laid-back and mellow, concentrating more on the song selection with less-intrusive bantering, according to the source.

Radio 94.1′s core artists will include: Dave Matthews Band, Nora Jones, Jack Johnson, Rob Thomas, John Mayer, Tori Amos, Matchbox Twenty, Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Goo Goo Dolls, Bare Naked Ladies, and Sheryl Crow.

That description, as we mentioned before, is from an article by contributor Robert Riggsbee in Cincinnati’s “Business Courier”.

Now, let’s hear about “Radio 106.7″ in Columbus.

This description comes from Clear Channel Columbus programming chief John Crenshaw, in his release announcing the new station:

“It was time for Columbus modern rock fans to have their own station. Radio 106.7 will play new and established rock artists, in the longest music sweeps available in Columbus radio today, and we will even include music by some of Columbus’s best-known or soon-to-be-discovered local bands.”

The release goes on to talk about a playlist that “will include groups like U2, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Killers, Nirvana, Nickelback and the Dave Matthews Band in a sort of ‘pop-rock-alternative’ combination.”

Unlike its Cincinnati sister, “Radio 106.7″ is going after a 25-44, presumably male, demo. The stations do share Dave Matthews Band in their playlist samples, which would presumably indicate DMB’s mass appeal.

But the two stations also share the same on-air philosophy – with both promising less intrusive on-air personalities, and a focus on “the music”.

This isn’t the first Clear Channel “format concept” to be tweaked from city to city. Even the venerable “Kiss FM” branding applies to varied playlists in different areas, with some leaning as heavy rhythmic outlets, and others much more CHR/Pop.

(Again, don’t come to us for exact dissection of music formats.)

The theory, or so it goes, is that the laid-back, less interruption format interpretation, with some attention being paid to the music, will bring back folks who may have left music radio for the mighty iPod…

FOX Selling WJW – Update

We’ve worked the phones, er, E-Mail, and gathered information from a number of our sources, and we now have a clearer picture of the impending sale of FOX owned-and-operated station WJW/8 “FOX 8″ in Cleveland and a number of sister stations.

First of all, a clarification.

After sweeping the building at South Marginal Road, OMW hears that FOX honcho Dennis Swanson did NOT announce the actual identity of the buyer that has been found for WJW and eight other smaller market O&Os. Staffers were told that the buyer’s identity should be known sometime by the end of this week.

We have confirmed, though, the announcement to WJW staffers in two meetings Monday that there is indeed a buyer, and many other details have become clearer.

The only name that’s popped up as the likely incoming buyer of the sold-off FOX stations is indeed Oak Hill Capital Partners, known operationally as Local TV, LLC.

That’s the group identified in our original item, and we’re confident enough to predict their takeover will be officially announced in the next few days – though we have been told that there was interest from at least one or two other parties.

One other big piece of news we can share: WJW will remain a FOX affiliate under the sale agreement. The deal includes a 10 year contract with the network that’s selling the station, though as we said before, we find it hard to envision any other outcome anyway.

OMW also hears that FOX’s Swanson warned “FOX 8″ staffers that the new company’s benefit package would “not be as robust” as the one offered by the network.

We haven’t “run the numbers”, but we have heard many times that FOX actually pays well, and provides good benefits for its local employees. It’d probably be hard for Oak Hill/Local TV LLC (or any other similar size company) to match that.

So, anyway…

Status? Sale confirmed. Identity of buyer not yet official, but putting horses on Oak Hill Capital Partners/Local TV, LLC wouldn’t be a risky bet, with the firm’s identity to be officially revealed sometime before the end of the week.

OMW? Caught up…

EXCLUSIVE (?): WJW, FOX O&Os To Oak Hill

UPDATE 10:37 PM 12/4/07: We are trying to nail down this story on a nationwide basis, which we reported based upon information from long-time, trusted, reliable sources in this area.

The sale we were told was announced locally has not yet been reported elsewhere, but we’re keeping an eye on it.

We’ll add a new update later.

– The Management


This may well be a national exclusive.

OMW hears that it has been announced to staffers at Cleveland FOX owned-and-operated WJW/8 “FOX 8″ that the local station, and eight other FOX-owned stations are being sold to Oak Hill Capital Partners. The below-top-10 market outlets were put on the block to help fund FOX parent News Corporation’s successful bid for the “Wall Street Journal”.

Yes, that’s the same Oak Hill Capital Partners which bought the New York Times TV stations, and now run them under the “Local TV, LLC” banner.

And yes, that’s the same Oak Hill which hired former Clear Channel radio head Randy Michaels, he of suburban Cincinnati, to run the group.

The prospect was brought up recently in a Reuters article, which we found through Tom Taylor’s Radio-Info.com daily newsletter.

OMW hears that Randy’s name was mentioned at today’s meeting with FOX brass visiting the South Marginal Road headquarters of WJW.

“Cleveland’s Own” FOX 8 is the largest market station on the nine-station FOX sell-off list, followed by markets like Denver and St. Louis.

FOX’s top 10 market O&Os (in places like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles) are staying with the company.

And unlike WJW, those big market stations have existing duopolies, which allows the company to operate two stations for not much more than the price of one.

Oh, and to answer a question we’ve already gotten from readers:

We haven’t heard any definitive word, but we’d be shocked if Oak Hill/Local TV did not continue operating WJW as a FOX affiliate.

Though the network is selling the station, the FOX lineup and branding is very, very successful for WJW. Most industry observers believe the network affiliation won’t go anywhere after the sale…

Two More Outer Area Items

Our apologies if OMW is looking like Columbus And Youngstown Media Watch lately, but that’s the bulk of what’s been going on in Ohio the past two to three days.

Just as a teaser, though…early next week, we’ll have a little more from a long-time Cleveland radio personality now “on the beach” – and no, we don’t mean literally “on the beach” these days…

WIPING OUT A TRANSLATOR: Everyone knew that the move of Clear Channel country WMRN-FM/106.9 to the Columbus market, and the station’s frequency move to 106.7/Dublin, would push a translator on that frequency off the air.

The translator has been owned by Sandyworld, Inc., one of the two organizations that filed repeated moves to try to stop the WMRN-FM move-in.

That effort being unsuccessful, and the station getting a construction permit for the move, the Sandyworld folks continued to try to derail the move as recently as a week before it actually happened.

Listeners in the Columbus market tell OMW that the Sandyworld translator did NOT go off the air when WMRN-FM’s new signal lit up, causing some interference problems in the general area of the translator’s existing location.

We don’t know for sure, but we believe the translator gave up at some point, and signed off.

But the WMRN-FM move didn’t just affect that facility.

OMW has heard from more than one reader that the new Clear Channel full-power 106.7 facility, currently stunting with TV theme songs, has wiped out another existing 106.7 translator – a 13 watt station that relays Columbus City School district outlet WCBE/90.5 in the Central Ohio city of Newark.

We’ve put in an inquiry to the WCBE folks, but haven’t heard back yet.

But for those writing us: Basically, in FCC-land, FM translators are considered a “secondary service”.

If a full-power station wins approval to set up a new or changed signal, the translator is basically required to move or shut off. Period.

And though WCBE is certainly providing a needed radio service to the Newark area, which would presumably be on the fringe of the 90.5 signal out of Columbus, when WMRN-FM got the construction permit for 106.7/Dublin, WCBE had no protection legally to prevent it from happening.

We’re assuming that WCBE will seek a new frequency for the Newark translator, though a quick check of FCC records doesn’t show it applying for such a frequency. (If they aren’t looking to do so, maybe they should…in just the past two days, we’ve had two non-regular readers apparently plug the “WMRN” calls into Google and find us, just to read or complain about this issue.)

But again – that’s a move/decision the Columbus school district will have to make, and they’ve better hurry. The aforementioned FCC check shows a boatload of translator applications pending in Newark, dating back to 2003, meaning they’ll have a lot of competition for a new spot on the Newark dial…

AND NOW ON THE LIFEBOAT, THE GENERAL MANAGER: In what’s really not a surprise to most observers, the general manager of Parkin ABC affiliate WYTV/33 Youngstown is himself heading out the door.

Dave Trabert had dutifully passed on the, umm, stuff that the station’s new management had fed him about the future of the market’s third-ranked outlet under a rather thinly developed company, amid reports and rumblings from sources such as the Youngstown Business Journal, and of course, this very blog.

The Business Journal reports this weekend that Trabert says “it’s time to go home” – home being Wichita, Kansas, where he ran KAKE-TV until coming to WYTV four years ago. His family apparently still lives in Wichita, even to this day.

As for the “body count” of job losses at WYTV after Friday’s ultimatum, the Business Journal’s Andrea Wood reports that “about 40″ of the ABC affiliate’s 70 employee roster won’t be staying on with the moved Channel 33 operation, including eight of the 28 newsroom staffers. She reports that engineering staffers took the hardest hit in the round of cuts.

As expected, anchors Vince Bevacqua and Gina Marinelli won’t be making the move to the WKBN/WYFX facility. Marinelli used to work there, of course.

WKBN/WYFX will make a similar personnel move next Friday.

Then, WYTV will take the weekend of December 8th and 9th to make the move, with 33′s newscasts going dark that weekend in favor of syndicated programming.

Wood reports that the moved WYTV newscasts will retain the station’s current “look and feel”, but will share “newsgathering resources” with the WKBN/WYFX newsroom, with some combination of the WYTV and WKBN/WYFX news staffers producing similar content for both operations. (Remember, the latter folks are also expected to see similar job cuts next Friday.)

Will they buy reporters 3-station microphone flags, or just go without?

And Wood also reports that Ms. Marinelli, exiting as anchor at WYTV, is apparently lobbying for an open anchor slot on the only Youngstown station not involved in all this, Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21. That move would mean that she’d be one of the few local TV personalities seen on every commercial outlet in the market…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.