The Clear Channel Aftermath

We should be used to this by now, but you never get used to hundreds of broadcast professionals getting tossed out of their radio studios for Christmas.

Or any other time, really.

In what’s become a very sad tradition around this time of year, broadcast giant Clear Channel Media+Entertainment+Pork Rinds looked at its staffing levels in markets across the nation and said, “oh, we can do without these people” as the year comes to a close. (And really, anymore, we’re only half kidding about the “Pork Rinds”.)

But the job cuts were shocking here in Ohio.



The radio artist known only as “Kasper” had been a mainstay, a force at Clear Channel’s Cleveland top 40 outlet, WAKS/96.5 “Kiss FM”.

After a brief stint at the company’s Philadelphia top 40 outlet WIOQ “Q102”, Kasper (who was still voicetracking back to Cleveland) came back to Oak Tree, and not only returned live to “96.5 Kiss FM”‘s afternoon shift, but took assistant program director and music director stripes as well.

That move felt all the more important because WAKS fell under the oversight, programming-wise, of rock/talk WMMS/100.7 program director Bo Matthews. Kasper was a steady hand to help Matthews keep an eye on his second station.

And though we don’t have the numbers to back it up, as far as we know, Kasper’s afternoon drive show was quite popular in the appropriate demos.

Success apparently isn’t enough to save you from the job cut ax anymore, particularly if bean counters feel that assistant program directors are too much of an expense.

John Crenshaw

John Crenshaw

Though we don’t really cover Columbus these days, John Crenshaw is a long-time OMW reader.

He has extensive ties to Northeast Ohio, as the Edinburg native (“halfway between Akron and Youngstown”) worked extensively in all decent size Northeast Ohio markets before coming to Columbus. (You may have known him as “Big Dave” or some variant up here.)

“Big Dave” became Johnboy Crenshaw (JbC) and eventually rose within the hierarchy of Clear Channel Columbus to become operations manager of the entire cluster until last year, when changes landed him as the program director of country giant WCOL/92.3.

We don’t say “giant” lightly.

A quick look at ratings we can’t directly quote here shows WCOL at the top of the most recent PPM numbers in Columbus (6-plus), a position WCOL has frequently occupied in Central Ohio.

Dominant might not be strong enough a word to describe WCOL’s success…it’s one of the most successful large market country outlets in the nation.

Again, as in the case of fellow OMW reader Kasper, success apparently isn’t enough to save your job when the bean counters are calling the shots.

Sure, we’ve said that before, as have others, when large broadcast companies feel the need to cut a few hundred (or thousand!) employees all at once.

But not only is it the end of the year…Clear Channel is in a financial squeeze.

Owned by private equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, a recent financial report says the company has to deal with over $10 billion in debt.


MOODY’S INVESTORS SERVICE has issued a report that CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS is facing a stiff challenge in managing the more than $10 billion of debt that will come due in 2016. They write that the company may be forced into a restructuring of its balance sheet.

Tom Taylor, the respected radio industry reporter now putting out the excellent “Tom Taylor Now” E-mail newsletter, notes that Bain and THL may not own Clear Channel by that 2016 date anyway, since they’ve already held the company much longer than such equity firms usually stay in place.

But while the two private equity concerns still own Clear Channel, the bottom line is still foremost…and the company is likely moving towards even more direct syndication (Ryan Seacrest, its stable of Premiere talk stars, and more) and less local programming.

Rich Minaya

Rich Minaya

Out in this week’s cuts was one Rich Minaya, afternoon drive host at Clear Channel’s Miami talker, WIOD/610-and-FM-translator.

If you’ve been around Northeast Ohio and listening to talk radio for a long time, you might have heard Rich on the old WWWE/1100 “3WE”…but he was known as Rich Michaels when he hosted the mid-morning shift at 3WE.

The Miami station is advertising for “its next spoken word star” to replace Minaya.

If the Horseshoe Casino had a Radio Betting Window, we’d almost bet that the “local” host on WIOD will be Compass Media Networks’ Todd Schnitt, whose “Schnitt Show” has been based at sister talker WFLA/970 Tampa. The Tampa station stops airing him later this month.

Schnitt actually started his afternoon talk show on WIOD, while still back in Tampa doing morning drive on WFLA’s sister top 40 outlet WFLZ as “MJ Kelli” (his original job there). WFLA picked up the talk show later.

Schnitt, by the way, is heard weeknights from 10 PM until 1 AM on Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 in Akron.

Speaking of that station, this round of cuts appears to have concentrated on major and large market stations.

But it would be no surprise if another round of job cuts in the future visited Akron, Canton, Youngstown, and the like.

There was a side effect of the cuts in Youngstown.

Kasper was voicetracking afternoon drive on the company’s WAKZ/95.9 “Kiss FM” in his former home market, competing against his former radio home, now-Cumulus top 40 WHOT/101.1 “Hot 101”.

Another victim of this week’s Clear Channel budget cuts, “Flick”, was voicetracking nights on the Youngstown market “Kiss FM” outlet from the company’s “Kiss” outlet in Pittsburgh…where he was assistant program director/music director/afternoon drive host. He had originally worked at South Avenue as “95.9 Kiss FM”s night jock.

“Dave and Jimmy” in morning drive, Ryan Seacrest all day, anyone?

Whoever ends up in WAKZ’s afternoon drive shift probably won’t have the extensive knowledge and background Kasper had…of his hometown…

A Wide Variety Of Items

No clever theme, just a Wide Variety of Items this time around.

As usual, some have already been seen on Twitter, and others are brand new…or at least, running first in this post…

ALLIE’S DEPARTURE: We learned at the end of last week that Local TV LLC Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8 News” was losing another popular personality.

This time, it was sports reporter/anchor Allie LaForce heading “to California”, to a TV destination that was not revealed last Friday when she said her on-air goodbyes to the folks on South Marginal/Dick Goddard Way, and her viewers in the Cleveland market.

We now know the destination.

LaForce will be co-hosting a new late night talk show on the CBS Sports Network, that cable/satellite TV network that was once “CSTV”. Quoting the CBS PR piece:

CBS Sports Network’s new live, late night show, LEAD OFF, which will air weekdays from 12:00-1:00 AM, ET, debuts Monday, Oct. 22. The show has added Allie LaForce as co-host, teaming with Doug Gottlieb. LEAD OFF will feature commentary and debate on the top stories and news with a focus on the next day’s conversation. Gottlieb and LaForce will lead off together this week as contributors on ROME, which airs on CBS Sports Network from 6:00-6:30 PM, ET.

That is Jim Rome’s TV show as a result of his first CBS contract, not his radio show that’s moving from Premiere Radio Networks. And for that matter, Gottlieb was lured to CBS Sports Radio to do an afternoon drive (ET) show that starts in January.

But aside from possible appearances on both Gottlieb and Rome’s radio shows, Allie will be doing TV work…and doing it at CBS Sports Network’s studios in Orange County, suburban Los Angeles (there, of course, because that’s where Jim Rome is based).

The departure of Allie LaForce will leave a hole in the “Fox 8 News” sports department…she was also host of the station’s popular “Friday Night Touchdown”. That show also recently lost Dan Jovic to Louisiana.

Speaking of “FNTD”, we hear (but weren’t awake to see) that a cardboard cutout of Allie was slated to be used Friday night this week. That’s actually a tradition borrowed (likely, accidentally) from ABC’s “World News Now” back in the day…

BROWNS RADIO: We told you when it became apparent that the Cleveland Indians would re-sign with Clear Channel Media+Entertainment+Pork Rinds (we’re only kidding about the snack).

Here, let us quote the highly respected (cough, cough) Ohio Media Watch blog:

We hear very strong rumblings out of Clear Channel’s Oak Tree facility that the company expects an even tougher fight to keep the NFL’s Cleveland Browns on WMMS(/WTAM).

At the risk of patting ourselves on the virtual back(s), that’s now becoming clear.

A hat tip to Crain’s Cleveland Business writer Joel Hammond, who let forth Monday with an article titled “Browns next to explore market for radio rights” (subscriber link):

All signs are pointing to Clear Channel Communications retaining the rights to broadcast Cleveland Indians games on WTAM-AM 1100. But it appears the company will have to fight to keep another of its signature properties, the Cleveland Browns, after this season.

The Browns, whose radio contract is set to expire in the spring, late last week circulated requests for proposals to “interested parties” for a new radio deal.

Crain’s goes on to name the three stations – Clear Channel’s WTAM(/WMMS), Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850” and CBS Radio sports WKRK/92.3 “The Fan” – asked to submit proposals…and apparently, “ancillary programming” is very important to the Browns.

A team official tells Crain’s that the Browns “have an excellent relationship” with Clear Channel, but says the Browns would “do ourselves a disservice” not to look at expanded programming and marketing possibilities.

The team is looking for a partner that can provide it a place for extra programming like “Cleveland Browns Daily”, the hour-long year-long show that airs weekday evenings at 6 PM on WKNR….though Ross tells the paper that the program may not necessarily move from WKNR or be linked to the play-by-play rights.

Crain’s Hammond quotes figures from Arbitron showing “meager” ratings for “Cleveland Browns Daily” – barely showing up in its time slot, and the article says the show gets beaten by the last hour of “92.3 The Fan”‘s Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber and Dustin Fox. (And by extension, we’ll have to assume both afternoon drive shows on WTAM and WMMS beat “CBD” like a proverbial drum.)

Remember, Clear Channel passed on the Browns-produced show the first time, since it didn’t want to carve into either Mike Trivisonno’s show on WTAM, or “The Alan Cox Show” on WMMS…both very successful.

But the team isn’t looking at ratings, according to Ross. It seems similar to Disney’s stance on the “Radio Disney” concept (WWMK/1260 in Cleveland), what it does for the brand being most important.

Crain’s also notes that the reported five-year deal between the Cleveland Indians and Clear Channel has yet to be signed…

NEW JOB FOR KATHY: Kathy Williams had a whirlwind, short tour as a news director in the Cleveland market.

Kathy had gained her first ND job in the 1990s at the aforementioned WJW/8’s “Fox 8 News”, then moved to Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3’s “Channel 3 News” before landing as news director at Houston’s Fox O&O, KRIV/26.

Williams has landed in Jacksonville FL, and is again working for Gannett…as the newly named news director of the company’s NBC/ABC duopoly known as “First Coast News” (WTLV/12-WJXX/25)…

LIN HAS COME IN: It’s official – LIN Media has taken over the former New Vision TV stations in the Youngstown market.

That means LIN now officially owns CBS affiliate WKBN/27 and Fox affiliate WYFX-LP/19, and takes over operations of ABC affiliate WYTV/33 and its “MyYTV” MyNetwork TV-affiliated subchannel.

At the same time, nominal WYTV owner Parkin Broadcasting (PBC) has sold the stations to Vaughan Media, and LIN will take over the Shared Services Agreement for WYTV from New Vision. (Both PBC and Vaughan are essentially one-man companies, as you only need one person to cash a check from the station’s operator.)

We’ve been asked more than once…”will there be layoffs?”

Based on LIN’s general track record, probably not in an already combined news operation that was cut significantly when New Vision took over.

However, LIN is a big believer in “centralcasting” – providing master control for its stations at one central location via remote technology.

For example, as OMW reader Mark Zinni (“Fox 8 News” anchor/reporter) pointed out to us, his former home station – LIN’s WPRI/12 Providence – was hubbed out of Springfield MA along with other stations. (Local newscast control room functions are presumably still done in the station.)

We wouldn’t be surprised to see day-to-day master control operations at Sunset Boulevard hubbed out to, say, LIN’s Indianapolis stations. Just a guess…

MOVING DAY: After announcing a few months ago that it would move smooth AC WNWV/107.3 “The Wave” from its Akron headquarters to a new studio in the Cleveland market, Rubber City Radio Group has just done so.

Monday, “The Wave” took the freeway “wave” up from Rubber City’s West Market Street studio in Akron to a brand new facility a very short drive away from the I-77/Rockside Road exit in Independence.

WNWV’s new studio is on Rockside just across I-77 from the other current occupants of the Independence Media Gulch, Clear Channel’s Oak Tree World Domination HQ and Salem’s Summit Park Drive studios.

The folks on West Market Street get a production studio back, but Rubber City Radio news and traffic staffers still feed “The Wave” Cleveland news and traffic from Akron.

“The Wave”‘s streaming audio was out again immediately following the move, but returned soon after WNWV camped out in Independence…

THIS IS (SORT OF) ABC: Cumulus Media Networks, which took over the ABC Radio network operations, is selling some new programming in Cleveland.

The company has added Radio One talk/brokered WERE/1490 in the Cleveland market for a number of shows and services.

Included are:

* The “ABC News Now” 60 second hourly news package
* “Red Eye Radio”, the company’s syndicated overnight talk show
* “Bob Brinker’s Moneytalk” on Sundays, and Brinker’s Saturday financial talk replacement, Larry Kudlow

Of course, ABC News Radio’s flagship newscast, the 5 minute Information Network report, is only heard in Northeast Ohio on Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron”. Or most of it is, at any rate, if the talk show host doesn’t step on the opening of the network newscast.

Various other ABC News Radio newscasts are heard on other area stations, including Rubber City Radio news/oldies WAKR/1590 in Akron.

OMW hears that WERE is also picking up the weekend version of Geraldo Rivera’s talk show, also syndicated by Cumulus (which airs live 9 AM to noon weekdays).

Out in the changes is IRN/USA Radio, which provided news and syndicated talk in the hours that are not brokered by program providers…and the brokered programming, of course, continues even with the above changes.

UPDATE 6:40 PM 10/20/12: We forgot to mention that WERE programming from Radio One-owned Syndication One is not affected by the above…

WMFD SATELLITE: Mid-State Television independent WMFD/68 Mansfield has, honest, been broadcasting as normal to its local cable viewers and those picking up the over-air signal (RF 12/68.1).

But WMFD is also – usually – seen on both major satellite services…DirecTV and Dish. Usually.

After an Alert OMW Reader let us know, we found out that WMFD has occasionally been gone from both services over the past few days…with just a color bar pattern and the station’s call letters greeting those trying to tune into WMFD via satellite.

We know why.

We hear from the Gunther Meisse Media Empire that the equipment used to backhaul WMFD’s signal from Mansfield to Cleveland, for uplink to the satellite services, has been acting up.

Those in the immediate Mansfield/Ashland/Mid-Ohio area, watching via cable or over-air, haven’t been affected.

Though it has worked from time to time, the backhaul box will be replaced soon with a new box.

And of course, it’s financially important to the Mid-State folks to be on satellite TV.

Not only does it provide the WMFD signal to local viewers who happen to have satellite dishes as opposed to cable, the satellite carriage means WMFD can sell the entire Cleveland/Akron (Canton) TV market to advertisers…more specifically, those buying infomercial time.

Whether people far afield from Mansfield/Ashland are actually WATCHING the infomercials the station sells…well, that’s another story. But, actual viewership numbers rarely come into play in such buys…

TV Retrans Wars Hit Cleveland – Fox 8 and DirecTV

UPDATE 8/31/12: Both DirecTV and WJW Fox 8 owner Local TV LLC announced an agreement today, with no signal interruption…

UPDATE 8/30/12 10:20 AM: Fox 8 has put up a more extensive site on their side of the dispute – Note that there’s not one mention of trying to pick up the station’s currently anemic over-air signal as an alternative…


The ongoing wars over TV retransmission consent are hitting Cleveland.

Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 has posted a note on its titled “Important Message for DirecTV Customers From Fox 8”, warning customers of the largest satellite service of an impending disruption of the station’s signal…as soon as Saturday.

If WJW Fox 8 does not reach an agreement with DirectTV by 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 1, by law, DirecTV cannot carry this station on its system.

DirecTV and WJW Fox 8 are in negotiations for fair compensation for the programming we provide.

The Cleveland Fox affiliate is asking its viewers to call DirecTV, and to repost the note on Facebook and Twitter.

This one’s a bit more complex than most retransmission consent agreements.

For one, last we checked, former WJW owner Fox is actually handling the retransmission consent negotiations for the station now owned by Local TV LLC.

For another, we note that WJW’s current RF channel 8 on-air signal is hard to pick up in many parts of the market. That’s why the station filed to return to RF channel 31, its pre-transition digital home, but that move is still stuck in the FCC, thanks to a dispute by RF channel 30 occupant WBNX/55, the Winston Broadcasting-owned CW affiliate for the Cleveland market.

(The dispute is fun to read about, if frustrating for the folks on Dick Goddard Way. Search “WBNX” in our search box for some samples.)

Stations often direct viewers on the disputed platform to pick up the free, widely available over-air signal instead, but that’ll be frustrating for many in-market viewers. For that matter, for some viewers to the east in the Cleveland market, it may be easier to pick up WKBN-TV/27.2, a standard definition simulcast of “Fox Youngstown”.

We presume WJW will, if there’s not a last minute deal, direct viewers to Dish Network, Time Warner Cable or AT&T U-verse, or other cable operators in the market. (Dish, by the way, reached an agreement with Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21 Youngstown right before the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.)

WJW has its own high profile sporting event after the September 1st deadline: The Cleveland Browns regular season opener with the Philadelphia Eagles, September 9th, will be on Fox…a result of it being a home game with an NFC away team.

We’ll see if that’ll force an agreement before kickoff…

A Cooler Combination

Cooler because, though we have highs in the mid-80s, it’s sure cooler than it was last time we set the air conditioning in the OMW World Headquarters to “freeze”…

A STEADY HAND: So, you’re a Cleveland TV station, and your news director has “made the move up” to a job with your parent company. You’re heading into an all-important period which will gain you new viewers…the 2012 Summer Olympics, live from London.

But SOMEONE has to run the newsroom until a permanent candidate is found, and it’s going to be kind of busy due to the aforementioned events to temporarily turn the duties over to an assistant.

Where do you turn?

If you’re Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3, you put “Channel 3 News” in the hands of a trusted pro, and that’s just what’s happened at 13th and Lakeside.

To say former WJW/8 general manager Virgil Dominic is an experienced newsman is sort of like saying the Grand Canyon is this little hole in the ground in Arizona.

Dominic has been named interim news director at WKYC, guiding the ship with a steady hand until a permanent replacement for Rita Andolsen is found.

Andolsen, according to the item on our blogging colleague Frank Macek’s “WKYC Director’s Cut” blog, “has embarked on a new role as Director of Advocacy and Community Initiatives working closing with Gannett corporate and twenty other Gannett broadcast stations.” (Whew!)

For long-time watchers of local TV news in the Cleveland market, Virgil Dominic is basically “The Man Who Built NewsCenter 8”, leading the folks at Cleveland’s then-CBS affiliate to a decade and a half of dominance in local TV news.

Dominic left South Marginal Road in 1995, as the station was transitioning to a Fox affiliation (and later as a Fox O&O). The “Director’s Cut” item quotes WKYC president and general manager Brooke Spectorsky:

“For the past six years, he has been with us as a talent mentor and consultant, and we see this as a continuation of that vision.”

And yes, Virgil Dominic started his large market TV career as WKYC’s main anchor in 1965…

MORE AT 13TH AND LAKESIDE: “Good Company Today” co-host Joe Cronauer has indeed expanded his horizons at “Channel 3 News”.

The broadcasting veteran, previously best known as part of the “Brian and Joe” team on a number of area radio station, is now setting the alarm clock very early…joining the “Channel 3 News Today” morning team as a “lifestyles and features” field reporter.

Quoting the announcement, once again found on Channel 3 News senior director Frank Macek’s “WKYC Director’s Cut” blog:

Joe will scour the area looking for unique, unusual, fun, community based, interesting stories that he knows will get viewers talking.

That would put him as WKYC’s opposite number to “Fox 8 News In The Morning” reporter Kenny Crumpton, though we don’t know if, in fact, Cronauer will be “Kickin’ It”.

(Yes, it’s a bad joke.)

Cronauer joins “Channel 3 News Today” anchors Chris Tye and Erin Kennedy, weather anchor Hollie Strano, reporters Amanda Barren and Stephanie Coueignoux, and traffic anchor Pat Butler (shared with Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100)…

AND TO THE 3RD POWER: Our third brief item about the gang at 13th and Lakeside.

Not only will WKYC join NBC Summer Olympics coverage later this month, they’re also sending some people to London.

We’ve seen promos that say that two members of the aforementioned “Channel 3 News Today” – Chris Tye and Amanda Barren – are bound for England…though we don’t know exactly what they’ll do.

Presumably, they’ll try to bring stories of any Northeast Ohio athletes in the Games…

SPEAKING OF THE OLYMPIAD: Unless an agreement is reached soon, Dish Network customers in the Youngstown TV market will have to find some other way to watch the NBC broadcast network’s coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

That’s because on July 6th, they lost the Mahoning Valley’s NBC affiliate, Vindicator-owned WFMJ/21, in a carriage dispute between the local broadcaster and the second-largest satellite provider.

WFMJ is very much playing up the “David vs. Goliath” battle in an FAQ on its website:

DISH is one of the largest television companies in America. WFMJ is locally owned and operated right here in Youngstown. We are invested in Youngstown and other communities we serve, and we take our commitment to serve the public seriously. When large companies based in big cities take the local signal, sell it to you for a high price, and pay little or nothing to WFMJ, they are taking money and jobs out of Youngstown without providing anything in return. We don’t think Youngstown citizens should be asked to subsidize DISH Network or its wealthy shareholders.

The website advises viewers worried about losing NBC’s Summer Olympics coverage to consider moving to another cable or satellite provider, or to pick up the station’s free over-air broadcast signal.

In our experience, only those in far, outlying ends of the Youngstown TV market should have any problem picking up the WFMJ over-air signal, and even some of those folks have NBC affiliated alternatives available OTA, like the aforementioned WKYC, Pittsburgh’s WPXI/11 and the like.

Those looking for WFMJ’s local newscasts are now able to stream them live from the station’s website…

NEW DIGS: You may have noticed this week that the set for Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s “NewsChannel 5” broadcasts is a bit cramped, and that you aren’t seeing the weather and sports anchors moving around at the main set.

That’s because the current set has been temporarily moved to WEWS’ Studio C, while a revamp is happening in Studio A this summer.

It’s no secret…6 and 11 PM co-anchor Chris Flanagan shares all the details on the station’s

All newscasts are moving from Studio C to Studio A. Studio A is where ‘Academic Challenge’ and the Ohio Lottery drawings are broadcast out of. We will move back into Studio C after Labor Day.

We will unveil our new anchor desk, weather center and expanded state-of-the-art set later this summer.

There are pictures and video of the current setup, and there’ll probably be more along the way as construction gets going.

One of the primary features of the new set will be LED lighting, allowing the set to look crisper and brighter for viewers of the station’s HD broadcasts…and making things cooler in the studio, to boot…

JEFF’S DEBUT: We managed to catch some of Jeff Kinzbach’s audition for the 10 AM-3 PM time slot on Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron”…of course, in the time slot left open by the unfortunate death of station icon Howie Chizek.

The former star of WMMS/100.7’s “Jeff and Flash” team seemed genuinely interested in the job, at least if we’re reading some of his on-air comments correctly.

Kinzback lauded WNIR as one of the last bastions of true, local radio, and noted that he is an Akron area resident…eastern Medina County, we’re guessing, based on his comment that he was the announcer for his daughter’s high school band at Highland High School.

Up next in the audition rotation, unless things have changed from the earlier announcement: 25 year regular Howie caller John “Couch Burner” Denning on Thursday.

Regular fill-ins Bob Earley and Jim Isabella will handle the shift when other auditioners aren’t scheduled…

UPDATE 12:44 PM 7/11/12: Reader Derrick King notes in our comments to this item:

I managed to catch an announcement this morning on WNIR. The next new fill in is Monday when former WAKC news anchor and former Plusquellic administration official Mark Williamson takes the microphone.

Youngstown And Nearby

Most of the items this time around are from the Mahoning Valley, though at least one is from nearby…and one item involves the Cleveland market…

RICH MORGAN: Readers in the Youngstown/Warren TV market have been peppering our inbox with questions about market veteran Rich Morgan…who’s been absent from his duties as morning and noon meteorologist for New Vision-to-be-LIN CBS affiliate WKBN/27’s “27 First News”.

We did some digging, but the question could have more easily been answered (for both us and our readers) by going to Rich’s bio page on the WKBN-TV website

Rich Morgan recently had surgery and will be off of the air for a total of five weeks. He talks about it in further detail on his Facebook page, Kirstie Zontini is filling in during his recovery.

From Rich’s Facebook page, posted June 1st:

I am having surgery to relieve pressure on the nerves in my neck that control the strength in my arm.

Since the surgery, Rich has written about undergoing the therapy needed to recover.

We understand this has now been addressed on the air as well…though we don’t know when the station let viewers know about Morgan’s condition…

HER NEW JOB: This one’s not from the Mahoning Valley, per se, but is about a former Youngstown TV reporter.

We told you a while back that Peggy Sinkovich, who has reported for WYTV/33 (Trumbull County bureau chief) and later for the entire New Vision-LIN operation (adding WKBN-TV and WYFX-LP “Fox Youngstown”), was heading for Cleveland…where she’ll be seen on Local TV LLC’s WJW/8 “Fox 8 News”.

We have some more information on her role at Dick Goddard Way.

OMW hears that starting in the Fall, Sinkovich will be the new “I-Team” investigative reporter for “Fox 8 News”, with help from general assignment reporter Jack Shea contributing investigative pieces.

We hear that Sinkovich and Shea will likely be seen daily on the station, working out of the newsroom and presumably, spending less time off air…

BACK IN COUNTRY: Whiplash Radio’s WYCL/1540 Niles is back to a familiar format for the daytimer – classic country.

Yes, the station has also returned to its former name and imaging in the format – “1540 The Farm”.

The classic country “Farm” format was the first format change made by Whiplash owner and OMW reader Chris Lash when he bought the station from Beacon Broadcasting.

1540 has been through a number of formats going back to the Beacon days… Christian contemporary music, sports, standards music, and talk. Until the recent change, WYCL had been operating as a simulcast of Whiplash sister standards station WHTX/1570 Warren “Fabulous 1570”.

Those wondering what happened to the King of Youngstown Brokered Talk Radio, Louie b. Free, can be assured that his eclectic show goes on via WYCL, airing 8 AM-noon weekdays on “1540 The Farm”.

Both stations are operated by Jim Davison and Laurel Taylor’s JL Communications, and Jim tells OMW that “The Farm” can be heard in streaming audio on the station’s website, a subsection of the WHTX site… though those listening on smartphones and tablets via the TuneIn app are getting an entirely different feed.

Jim notes that the station changed streaming providers, and that feed comes from whoever took over the old WYCL feed.

WYCL also features a new outdoors show on Saturday mornings with host Jim Slinsky, and an antiques show will debut later this month.

The station will carry Notre Dame football in the fall…

HD ADD-ON: OMW hears that Clear Channel talk WKBN/570 Youngstown has followed many other Clear Channel talk stations in simulcasting its programming on the HD Radio side of a co-owned FM station.

The feed of WKBN is now being heard on the HD2 sidechannel of rock WNCD/93.3 “The Wolf”.

Just to the west in Akron, Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 gets similar HD Radio rides on the sidechannels of hot AC WKDD/98.1 and rock WRQK/106.9.

For now, at least, the feed of WKBN on WNCD’s HD sidechannel does not appear to signal any future move to an analog FM frequency…rather, it’s seen as a way to increase HD Radio listenership by offering the popular AM talker in the format…

AND NEARBY: In the Canton market, where D.A. Peterson top 40 WDJQ/92.5 Alliance “Q92” has once again managed to hire a promotions director who is not awaiting a criminal trial.

He’s local radio veteran and OMW reader Matt Spatz, most recently heard doing weekend/swing work at Rubber City Radio rock WONE/97.5 Akron.

He had previously programmed at Clear Channel Youngstown (rock WNCD, and top 40 WAKZ/95.9 “Kiss FM”) until budget cuts forced him out last October.

And the “criminal trial” reference is not at all aimed at Matt, of course…who practices clean living, as far as we know.

It’s a reference to a Louisville KY radio personality the Alliance station hired for the promotions director job a few years ago…who was very much in legal hot water when he was offered the job at “Q92”.

We’ll visit our own February 2008 item wrapping up the saga of Todd Kelly/Smith:

Former WDJX/Louisville KY personality and promotions guy Todd Kelly (Todd Smith) has been sentenced for defrauding listeners and donators by faking ALS, otherwise known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Smith has been sentenced to 15 years on state charges, which will be reduced to 5 years if he pays back some 74 thousand dollars in restitution, with interest. He’d already been sentenced to 84 months in prison on federal fraud charges.

Even if his sentence was reduced to 5 years, Kelly/Smith is still sitting behind bars in Kentucky, unable to run promotions for “Q92” or any radio station that’s not behind bars. (Unless he was released early, of course.)

Since this saga was resolved, WDJQ has managed to hire promotions directors not awaiting sentencing to prison, and we can assure them that, as far as we know, Matt Spatz will continue that trend.

Our congratulations to Matt…we’re always happy to see OMW readers do well!

And the item fits in our theme, as “Q92″‘s signal does well in the nearby Youngstown market…

Much Ado About Sports Radio

We actually predicted this before local CBS Radio sports outlet WKRK/92.3 “92.3 The Fan” debuted last August.

We’d been hearing rumors that CBS was going to launch its own national sports talk radio network, though at the time we believed it would be limited to the night/weekend hours to fill time on its full-fledged sports talkers. The comparison we made was with CBS’ initial efforts to air KMOX/1120 St. Louis-based overnight host Jon Grayson (“Overnight America”) on other large market CBS news/talk stations.

The show survived on KDKA/1020 Pittsburgh and WCCO/830 Minneapolis, but was hooted off WBZ/1030 Boston in favor of the return of local talker Steve LeVeille…who recently retired (this time, presumably on his own terms). “Overnight America” is now syndicated by the Dial Global empire.

Anyway, instead of going in-house/in-company, CBS Radio went with Fox Sports Radio for its off hours on “92.3 The Fan”. But…not anymore.

CBS Radio and Cumulus have announced that they’re joining forces for the 24/7 CBS Sports Radio network, which debuts full-time January 2, 2013 and will start offering CBS Sports updates to affiliates this September 4th.

The network will be operated by CBS Sports, and distributed and represented by Cumulus (which already does so for ESPN Radio…various reports from the business media world say that deal is ending).

In addition to “various components” of the programming being offered to the company’s large market locally-programmed sports talkers (including WKRK here), Cumulus sports stations will also air CBS Sports Radio… including Toledo’s WLQR/1470-WLQR-FM/106.5 “106.5 The Ticket”, now an ESPN Radio affiliate.

We’ll assume that Cumulus’ two ESPN affiliates in the Youngstown market, WBBW/1240 and Mercer County’s WLLF/96.7, will be aboard as well…the CBS press release only listed top 100 market stations.

CBS Sports Radio will also air 24/7 on CBS AM stations in a number of large markets, including the AM side of stations that moved to FM. That includes Philadelphia (WIP/610 moved to 94.1 FM) and Detroit (WXYT/1270 moved to 97.1 FM).

And yes, that more than likely means the end of the WXYT/1270 Detroit afternoon drive show hosted by Ashtabula native and Northeast Ohio radio veteran Doc Thompson (WMJI/105.7, WLW/700, etc.). If 1270 is going 24/7 satellite-fed sports in January, there’d be no room for Doc.

The move comes after NBC Sports and Dial Global announced they would launch yet another sports radio network, NBC Sports Radio.

The odd man out? Probably Yahoo Sports Radio, which will lose big market clearances in Detroit and Chicago, where it airs off-hours on WSCR/670 “The Score”. We can’t see it surviving in a sports radio market with two new big network-run services.

ESPN Radio will lose the Cumulus stations, mostly in medium and small markets.

Fox Sports Radio will lose some clearances as well…in addition to “92.3 The Fan” here, Boston’s WBZ-FM 98.5 “The Sports Hub” also carries FSR in late night hours. We are assuming CBS Sports Radio will displace other networks in off-hours on all of the large market CBS-owned stations.

That, by the way, might be good news for one Cleveland sports radio personality.

Since Good Karma sports WWGK/1540, little brother to “ESPN 850 WKNR”, lost Fox Sports Radio, the station’s Mark “Munch” Bishop had limited time opportunities to fill in on FSR – since his station’s main competitor picked up that network.

“Munch” has most recently been filling in on FSR late Saturday afternoons, when “92.3 The Fan” is in local programming. Starting in January, he won’t have that timing problem.

Here’s one intriguing part of the CBS Sports Radio announcement:

Opportunities for affiliates to regionalize their lineup by choosing from select programs currently featured on CBS RADIO or Cumulus sports stations.

Could that mean that you might hear “92.3 The Fan” personalities somehow on those aforementioned Cumulus sports stations in Youngstown and Toledo? (Or “97.1 The Ticket” personalities heard in Toledo?) Even on a limited basis?

That, we don’t know.

But the Sports Radio battle, nationwide and locally, is getting even more interesting…

Fallout And More

UPDATE 6/13/12 7:06 PM: The Asset Purchase Agreement (PDF) for Bernard Radio’s WRBP/101.9 Hubbard says that Educational Media Foundation will pay $500,000 for the Youngstown market station…


We had planned this as a “fallout” item after the testing of Venture Technologies’ WLFM-LP/6 “87.7” FM Cleveland, but as they say in the news business…”This Just In”.

WRBP TO EMF: Just under a month ago, Bernard Radio urban WRBP/101.9 Hubbard “JAMZ 101.9” was presented a resolution by the Youngstown City Council for its service to the community.

WYTV/33 reports from May 16th:

The resolution was in recognition of continued success in the urban format, and for keeping the radio station highly rated, profitable and on the air in Youngstown.

Well, for a few weeks longer, at least.

Bernard Radio has filed with the FCC to sell WRBP/101.9 to Educational Media Foundation, the California parent of the “K-Love” and “Air 1” Christian music networks.

Long-time readers know that EMF currently owns one other station in the Youngstown market, rimshot WLVX/107.1 Greenville PA…which it bought along with other Pennsylvania outposts of Beacon Broadcasting. EMF later sold WLOA/1470 Farrell PA and WGRP/940 Greenville PA to Meadville PA-based Vilkie Communications, owner of classic hits WMVL/101.7 Linesville PA “Cool 101.7”.

We have no idea how EMF plans to handle its operations in the Youngstown market.

Presumably, one of the two stations will run the “K-Love” format and one will run the “Air 1” format…we don’t know if they’ll move “K-Love” to the more centrally located 101.9 signal, or if “Air 1” will be planted there.

Bernard Radio still owns (for now) oldies WGFT/1330 Campbell “Oldies 1330” and urban talk WASN/1500 Youngstown. As noted above, EMF has little interest in AM stations, though it does still operate one in Toledo.

A reader tells us that WRBP is still pumping out the “JAMZ” this afternoon, and Lance Venta of RadioInsight tells us there is no LMA in the WRBP sales contract…

AND THE FALLOUT: The signal of that new “Franken FM” in Cleveland is sure getting out there.

In the second day of testing for Venture Technologies’ WLFM “87.7”, the market’s newest “radio station” is still running that four song loop of old Indians, Cavaliers and Browns fight songs, along with iconic local favorite Michael Stanley Band’s “My Town”.

We have opened up a brand new SoundCloud account, and here’s a scoped aircheck of the stunting…which has been going on since at least Tuesday afternoon:

The signal seems to be stronger to our ears. One table radio at the OMW World Headquarters was unable to pick up 87.7 on Tuesday, but has no trouble receiving it today.

And the signal has been reported by OMW readers as far west as Norwalk, and as far east as Geneva.

Unlike the Cleveland market’s other new station, Clear Channel alt-rock W256BT/99.1 “99X”, WLFM has no other near or distant competition for 87.7 FM…give or take a possible incursion from a channel 6 TV station in Paris ONT, if that station has not converted to digital yet. We don’t know if the station is in a “mandatory” market for digital conversion in Canada.

We want to again clarify: We have heard nothing about the audio (or visual) future of WLFM-LP. No facts, no rumors, nothing.

Readers have been wondering if the collection of sports-related songs was a stunt designed to signal a sports talk format.

We noted the unlikely prospect of a third sports radio competitor coming out of nowhere, and noted it would be a good LMA prospect for Good Karma Broadcasting to put the signal of sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850” as a simulcast on the FM band, just down the dial from CBS Radio sports WKRK/92.3 “92.3 The Fan”.

But rumors take on a life of their own, and we just wanted to clarify that we are NOT classifying this information as a rumor or anything else but putting chess pieces together in our mind.

We’ve heard nothing from the Galleria, or third hand, or via rumor, that this sort of scenario is in the works. Nothing.

For all we know, the sports-themed songs are an attempt to “sound Cleveland” – as few songs exist that mention the city by Lake Erie. (Of the top of our heads, we can only think of Cleveland’s mention in the song “Heart of Rock and Roll” by Huey Lewis and the News.)

Maybe the songs were sitting on an iPod or smartphone or somewhere. Maybe the speculation is reading too much into it, or maybe Venture hopes to get Good Karma to do an LMA.

There are a lot of “maybes”, and not a lot of facts. So please, don’t start this rumor pointing to us…we literally do not know the future fate of “WLFM”…


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