Columbus Shakeup

UPDATE 7/1/10 10:13 PM: No, we haven’t signed LeBron James. We’re a few million, all of them, short of cap space, and LeBron wasn’t sure of our head coaching plans, though he liked the fact we’re in Northeast Ohio.

But seriously, thanks to Tim Feran at the Columbus Dispatch, we have some more details on this item, if not the NBA Free Agency Shuffle.

* WOSU Public Media is buying the 101.1 operation for $4.8 million $5.7 million, $2.5 million $2.25 million (sorry, typo on our part) up front and the rest paid over 20 years, according to the latest version of Feran’s article and an earlier article in the alt-paper “The Other Paper”.
* WWCD will be “operating” 102.5, “in a partnership” with owner WHIZ Media Group (aka Zanesville’s Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting System). They’ll also move the FM rights to the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets to the new frequency. The AM rights are on the Dispatch’s own “The Fan on AM”, WBNS/1460. The WWCD deal presumably still prevents Dispatch from putting the NHL team on the FM side of “The Fan”, WBNS-FM/97.1.
* Feran characterizes the new NPR-laden 89.7 programming, when classical music moves to 101.1, as a simulcast with WOSU’s AM side at 820.

Our original item is below…

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As it turns out, the recent flip of Clear Channel’s WRXS/106.7 “Radio 106.7” to 90s mix “Gen X Radio” is the quietest radio format news out of Columbus this week.

That’s because as your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) was actually in the Columbus market (for non-media reasons) on Wednesday, the announcements came fast and furious.

First, we learned from Ohio State University that the school’s WOSU Public Media operation is buying Fun With Radio LLC’s WWCD/101.1 Grove City, long-time home of the locally-owned “CD 101” alt-rock format.

Those who have been following the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) weren’t surprised by the next move.

CD 101 at 102.5 Logo“CD 101” indeed confirmed the rumors, and the alt-rock format will move down the dial to the more powerful 102.5/Baltimore signal…with a simulcast of “CD 101” airing there starting at midnight tonight (Wednesday night/Thursday morning)…finally putting the poorly automated “Highway 102” country format somewhere on a computer in Zanesville out of its misery.

Thus, the “CD101at1025.com” domain name picked up earlier by Lance Venta and the RadioInsight net gnomes makes sense…the alt-rocker will be heard on both 101.1 and 102.5 until the fall.

That’s when the final shoe drops…when they take it over, Ohio State University will use 101.1 as a full-time classical music outlet, freeing up primary signal WOSU-FM/89.7 to become a full-time NPR news/talk station.

We presume it will sound much like WOSU(AM)/820 does now, which leaves open the question of what the WOSU folks will do with the AM signal in the fall.

There were no changes for us to observe in the few hours we were in Columbus.

102.5 won’t be flipping to the “CD 101” simulcast until midnight, though we heard an air personality on CD 101 this afternoon telling listeners to listen at midnight for a “very important event”. The air person didn’t give away the store, though the frequency change is on the CD 101 website.

As of yet, there are no FCC sales applications in the online database – either for the WWCD purchase by OSU, or for a WCVZ purchase by Fun With Radio. For that matter, we don’t know if Fun With Radio’s Roger Vaughan is buying WCVZ, or just leasing airtime or LMAing.

At “Gen X Radio”, we heard the early positioning, including one liner imploring listeners to “don’t tell a friend – they’ll find us on scan, anyway”, and promising music that meant something to the target listener’s life, even if they were wondering what they were thinking at the time.

As of mid-afternoon, they had not changed the WRXS calls to the coming WCGX, at least during the legal ID…

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Odder Mix Than Usual

And mostly items on the fringe of our usual OMW coverage area wrap up this Friday.

But we’ll start in Cleveland, and to our friends on South Marginal Road…thank you for the Twitter Shout-Out! Quoting:

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A special Fox 8 Twitter shout-out to Ohio Media Watch. Glad you’re enjoying our tweets! Stay tuned, more to come

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We don’t know who handles the Twitter account at Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8”. We suspect it’s one of those Additional Duties added to a newscast producer’s already full plate. But if they’re a regular reader, they probably know we’re a sucker for a mention…

And speaking of South Marginal…

PLAYOFF SILLINESS: The Twitter account provides a link to video of “Bill (Martin)’s Atlanta Feud”,..where the Fox 8 News evening co-anchor “has it out” with an Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports columnist via a microwave video feed from Quicken Loans Arena.

Yes, it’s playoff time again for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. And with the local team steamrolling through its second-round playoff series with the team reportedly actually showing up at “The Q”, the Atlanta Hawks.

(We haven’t seen much evidence that the team on the court there is actually the Hawks. Maybe they’re stunt doubles. They look like the Washington Generals to us.)

With Not Much To Talk About with the actual series itself – the Cavaliers have scored roughly 586 more points than the Hawks in the first two games – it’s the Other Stuff that dominates the local media’s conversation.

Like, how DARE Journal-Constitution sports columnist Mark Bradley take THIS crack at Cleveland! How DARE he?:

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This city, as you’d expect, is pumped. We Atlantans moan over the state of our franchises, but Clevelanders have it way worse. For one thing, they have to live in Cleveland.

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Yeah, like we’ve never heard that one before. Throw in a joke about the burning Cuyahoga River! Go ahead, Mr. Bradley, we dare you!

Remember that Cleveland is the kind of town that can laugh about those fake tourist promotion videos racking up the views on YouTube right now. (“Cleveland…at least we’re not Detroit!”)

Bradley’s blog before Game One of the Cleveland-Atlanta series drew the attention of Fox 8’s Bill Martin, who conducted the “smackdown” upon Bradley from the safety of South Marginal…down the shoreway from the Q. (Yes, our tongue is firmly planted in cheek, as well.)

And Bradley runs with it even further, in his AJC blog before Thursday’s Game 2:

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Anyway, I was asked to go on the local Fox affiliate with some guy named Bob — or maybe it was Bill — who bills (or bobs) himself as the Mayor of the City of Champions. (Yes, that would, in Bob/Bill’s mind, be Cleveland, Ohio, which hasn’t seen a professional championship since 1964. But I digress.)

So there I am, trying to be a good sport, and Bob/Bill comes on, calls me a knothead, calls my employer the Urinal-Constipation (hey, new one!) and starts ranting.

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Mr. Bradley, you oughta hear what locals call the Akron Beacon Journal and the Canton Repository.

More:

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Apparently deadpan doesn’t register up here because the Mayor had no rejoinder. And apparently this wasn’t making for the kind of Good TV this fine station had in mind. So Bob/Bill’s co-anchor — I believe her name was Stacy, though it might have been Cindy — said: “Mark, you know this is all in fun?”

And I said: “Actually, I thought this was supposed to be a serious discussion.”

So then the folks back in the studio decided to cut it off because I wasn’t yelling back, but not before Bob/Bill threatened to beat me up. Twice. And he told me I’d better hide. And finally I dropped the poker face and started laughing.

“Yeah,” I said, “I’m hiding from you.”

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We’re taking this about as seriously as both Bill Martin and Mark Bradley, which is to say, not at all.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Bradley, we’ve been to your fair city more than once…and we’re not sure it has much more to offer than the hot dogs at the world-famous “Varsity”.

And regular readers of your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) can tell you that your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) can find tasty chili cheese dogs much closer than Georgia…and that doesn’t even count the two Northeast Ohio Sonic locations…

RUMORS OF HER RADIO DEMISE: OMW dutifully passed on word that Clear Channel Toledo news chief Cassie Wilson is stepping down from her post on Superior Street, citing, among other things, the company’s recently re-energized “news hub” plans that have put news anchors from sister Cincinnati talk WLW/700 on her station in middays.

The Toledo Blade had a brief item on Wilson’s exit, saying she was “pursuing opportunities outside radio” in her exit from the building which contains talk WSPD/1370, where she’s anchored afternoon drive along with her cluster news oversight duties.

Not-so-fast…that’s not the whole story, according to this in Tom Taylor’s popular “Taylor on Radio-Info” column this morning:

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Cassie Wilson says contrary to the Toledo Blade article that T-R-I mentioned yesterday, she’s not done with the radio business, even if she’s resigning from Clear Channel-Toledo as its director of news operations and on-air anchor. So she’s open to another job in radio, as well as possibly outside the business (where she could use her PR and media relations experience).

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The Blade article did note something AllAccess had already reported – that Wilson’s exit does not affect the status of her husband, WSPD program director/afternoon drive host Brian Wilson…who will stick around at the Toledo talker as usual…

ZANESVILLE CLOSE: TRI’s Tom Taylor also passes along word of a radio sale closure in Southeast Ohio…the sale of WCVZ/92.7 “Z92” South Zanesville:

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Buyer Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting Systems (Hank Littick) had begun LMAing the station in November, and now the $2.2 million deal has been consummated.

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And Taylor makes a link between the WCVZ sale and another station purchase in a larger Ohio market:

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Seller Christian Voice of Central Ohio needed the proceeds to go forward with its own acquisition plans – to buy Columbus-market WRFD (880) from Salem for the fairly serious price of $4 million.

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So, is that all there is that’s “holding up” the closure of the sale of Columbus’ “The Word”? It would appear so. (By the way, wanna buy a radio station or three, cheap? From what we’re hearing, we’re surprised Salem hasn’t started putting stations on eBay…)

Taylor also noted the end of the former WCVZ CCM format (“92.7 the River”) and the start of hot AC as “Z92” under Littick’s watch.

But readers here know that “Z92” is actually a move of the format once heard on Littick’s WHIZ-FM/102.5 Zanesville, which is now running automated country as “Highway 102” while it awaits an eventual COL move to the Columbus ex-urb of Baltimore (not Maryland). And, we presume, it’s also awaiting a buyer that would operate the station in Columbus after that move.

CVCO decamped in the area to WZNP/89.3 Newark, running non-commercial CCM and Christian talk/teaching from its “Promise Radio Network”.

Littick’s Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting Systems continues to own WHIZ/1240, and NBC affiliate WHIZ-TV/18…

LIMA EXIT: Radio programmer and OMW reader Dan Baisden passes along word of his own exit from Ohio.

Baisden has been programming Maverick Media’s WWSR-FM, WDOH-FM and WZOQ-AM in Lima, but now heads west, young man…very far west, handling operations for a cluster in Flagstaff AZ. He writes:

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“I am thankful and excited to be joining Stan Pierce and Greg Dinetz (in) Flagstaff-Prescott, Arizona, in one of America’s fastest growing markets. The city is really looks like the post cards. We have tremendous stations that we will continue to grow, and a great company with Grenax.”

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Grenax isn’t one of those medications you see on TV ads (“Talk to your doctor about Grenax!”) – it’s apparently the name of the company that owns the Arizona stations.

Best of luck, Dan, and feel free to keep reading to get a bead on what’s going on back here in the Buckeye State!

LIMA TV: While we’re out in West Central Ohio, electronically, another OMW reader tells us we should be aware of changes in the local TV market there.

Since we don’t write a lot about Lima, we haven’t mentioned a fairly recent change linked to the sale of the market’s low-power Fox, CBS and ABC affiliates to Block Broadcasting, which owns the only full-power Lima secular network affiliate station (NBC affiliate WLIO/35).

The integration of the four stations appears well underway.

OMW hears that a plan first unveiled by WLIO/Block Lima VP/engineering Frederick Vobbe on his station engineering blog has started to take shape, as now-co-owned Fox affiliate WOHL-CA 25 now appears on the 8.2 digital subchannel of WLIO-DT.

The “Fox Lima” programming on 8.2 replaces an SD simulcast of WLIO’s main feed, which was preceded on the subchannel by the market’s CW network affiliate. (That feed is now only found on Time Warner Cable channel 3.)

And yes, WLIO is using its RF channel, 8, to identify the station in its PSIP digital information.

So, with WLIO-DT 8.2 being the new home of “Fox Lima” in the digital world, what happens to the Fox programming now found on the other new WLIO sister station? Or for that matter, the programming on the other new sister stations?

From Vobbe’s blog item last month:

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What we plan to do, once WLIO analog is cleaned out and gone, is to move WOHL to channel 35, then flip it to digital. This new station will have the call sign of WOHL-CA Channel 35, and will be 9,000 watts E.R.P.

(snip)

The new channel 35 will then become the home of ABC and CBS in HD. As soon as WOHL channel 35 digital comes on the air, we will then start to phase out WLQP-18 and WLMO-38 as analog stations. What will happen with them? Well, that a story for another day.

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It sounds to us like WLIO is going to try what’s already being done in Youngstown, where New Vision’s WKBN/27 has planted HD feeds for both CBS (from WKBN) and Fox (from sister “Fox Youngstown”) on WKBN-DT 27.2.

OMW hears from our reader in the region that Block is now using generic “Your News Now” branding for newscasts on all four stations, which we’re told are being produced out of the WLIO operation.

The newscasts now air in a pattern – a new 5 PM broadcast joins the 10 PM broadcast on Fox affiliate WOHL-CA, and newscasts that used to only air on “NBC Lima” are simulcast now – the 6 PM show on WLQP-LP “ABC Lima”, and the 11 PM show on WLMO-LP “CBS Lima”. The morning newscast apparently continues to air solely on WLIO.

We haven’t heard what happened to the staff that produced newscasts for the three Lima LPTVers owned until recently by local businessman Gregg Phipps’ Metro Video Productions…

Back To Digital TV

We return to the world of the Up In The Air Digital TV Transition on a key day.

The deadline was late last night for local TV stations to file notifications that they intend to shut down their analog signals on the original transition date of February 17, 2009 – which, looking at the calendar, is exactly one week from today.

A bill passed by Congress and awaiting President Barack Obama’s expected signature (today?) moves the date to June 12.

Even if stations had already filed such notifications, new FCC rules released last Thursday required them to do so again. And since Thursday, a number of stations have backed away from those “early transition” plans, most notably Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8” in Cleveland.

Though we aren’t 100% sure that all applications to “go early” have been processed yet, we do have more information of note. We’re told that as early as today, the FCC could release a nationwide list of stations that have filed to transition early.

We’ll “hit the highlights” here, market by market, without much detail for now…

CLEVELAND/AKRON: It looks like Northeast Ohio’s largest market will basically keep analog going until the new June 12th transition date – save for one very minor station.

None of the major Cleveland network affiliates have filed to transition on February 17th under the new FCC rules. Local TV’s WJW did not re-file this time around, as required, which makes sense considering the station’s recently announced decision to stay in analog on channel 8 until June.

The market’s two public broadcasters are obviously staying on in analog. WVIZ/25 has no suitable full-power facility until that WKYC tower is completed in Parma. WEAO/49 announced (first through OMW, thank you, Campus Center Drive!) that they’re staying with analog until June – despite sister station WNEO/45 being digital-only since November.

And if you want an excellent example of what a TV station SHOULD do on its website in this confusing time, check out this notice from Western Reserve PBS, linked from a graphic prominently placed on the station’s main web page:

Because the government has proposed a delay of the national DTV transition date, Western Reserve PBS will convert its WEAO analog signal to digital on June 12, 2009.

Other local stations: How hard was that?

How hard is it do to something like WKYC/3 senior director Frank Macek did, on his “Director’s Cut” blog, informing viewers of the station’s decision to stay on analog 3 until June 12th?

That one minor station filing to go early in the Cleveland/Akron (Canton) market? Canton-licensed WOAC/67, the infomercial paradise now in a trust due to owner Multicultural Broadcasting’s financial situation, has put in the required electronic paperwork to shut down analog channel 67. When you’re forced to put your stations in a trust due to finances, it’s hard to justify paying for four more months of analog broadcasting.

WOAC-DT has been operating for some time on digital channel 47 (67-1), and the station’s programming means not many will miss analog 67 no matter what. Both facilities operate from Portage County’s Brimfield Township at I-76 and Ohio 43, just across that state highway from Media-Com’s WAOH-LP 29 “The Cat”, and sister talk WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron”.

One note here: The FCC database shows WJW/8’s earlier request to flash cut to digital 8 early as being granted. We don’t know what that means at this point, or if WJW could “hang onto that” if it later decides to switch before June…

YOUNGSTOWN: There’s big news here, as it appears the Mahoning Valley’s three full-power commercial stations will stay analog until the new June 12th date after all.

New Vision CBS affiliate WKBN/27 and its LMA partner, Parkin Broadcasting ABC affiliate WYTV/33, had been among the early analog shutoff filers.

The stations, according to numerous viewers who’ve written to OMW, have repeatedly told viewers that yes – their digital transition would go on as scheduled February 17, despite action to move the date in Washington DC.

OMW is getting late word that WKBN has just announced that it has changed its mind, and that analog 27 will continue to broadcast until June 12. We’re told that announcement came on last night’s 11 PM edition of “27 First News”, and no surprise, we can’t find it yet on the station’s website.

We haven’t heard about similar announcements on WYTV/33, but since the stations are joined-at-the-LMA hip, we’d be surprised if WYTV didn’t follow WKBN’s lead – unless nominal owner Todd Parkin feels the need to shut off the analog 33 transmitter separately to save money.

As of this writing, WKBN and WYTV have NOT filed the appropriate FCC form to transition on February 17th, so it follows with last night’s announcement.

Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21 has already announced that it will keep the analog signal on until the new June transition date, so that’d be a clean sweep of the market’s commercial outlets.

Of course, Western Reserve PBS Youngstown market affiliate WNEO/45 Alliance has already sent its analog transmitter to the Retired Transmitter Home, and has been all-digital since mid-November…as reported here frequently….

WHEELING/STEUBENVILLE: The Ohio Valley will go digital.

Both full-power stations serving that region – Cox NBC affiliate WTOV/9 Steubenville and West Virginia Media CBS(/ABC/Fox) affiliate WTRF/7 Wheeling WV – did file the appropriate paperwork, along with STA requests to move their digital operations to the current analog channels on February 17th.

Oddly enough, it looks like WTOV’s STA request to go digital on channel 9 on the 17th has already been granted. WTRF’s hasn’t yet, though there is a typo in the request – it says the station wants to go digital on channel 12. That’d appear to be accidentally copied over from the application filed by West Virginia Media’s sister station in Clarksburg WV, WBOY/12.

We’re wondering if the “full market” early digital transition will catch scrutiny from the FCC, though as stated, WTOV’s early digital channel 9 request is already in the hopper…

COLUMBUS: Media General NBC affiliate WCMH/4 was one of the stations which filed earlier to shut off analog 4 on February 17th, the original digital transition date.

As of this writing, the station has not filed the required electronic form to affirm that wish.

And Sinclair, which owns two stations in the Columbus market and was expected to flip both ABC affiliate WSYX/6 and Fox affiliate WTTE/28 to all-digital a week from today, has only filed the required electronic form for one of the two stations – WTTE.

That move actually mirrors what they’ve done up until now. In earlier filings, Sinclair didn’t file for early digital transition for WSYX at the same time they did so for WTTE.

Dispatch CBS affiliate WBNS/10 already announced that it would stay on in analog until June, as did Ohio State University-owned PBS affiliate WOSU/34.

LIN CW affiliate WWHO/53 has filed the new early termination forms, and says it will shut off analog channel 53 on February 17th…

LIMA: The only Lima market station that needs to make a decision hasn’t yet announced its call, at least online.

But Block NBC affiliate WLIO/35 has been very open in the process, with VP/chief engineer Frederick Vobbe noting on his WLIO Engineering blog Friday that the station was still considering their options after the FCC adopted those new rules on Thursday.

A check of the FCC database this morning shows that WLIO did not file the newly required February 17th transition form, though as we’ve noted in this item repeatedly, we don’t know if all of the forms filed until the 11:59 PM deadline last night have been processed on the FCC’s public database.

Engineer Vobbe has a nice roundup of what he’s heard about other markets at this Monday blog entry.

About his own market:

In Lima, WLIO-35 remains the only high-power analog on the air. WTLW transitioned back on December 1st, 2008. WBGU-27 transitioned on December 31st, 2008.

Vobbe notes that since the low-power network affiliates in Lima are now owned by WLIO’s parent company, they’ll “likely” go digital, though no plan has been put into place yet. As low-power or Class A outlets, the stations are not affected by the full-power digital transition, and any switch will be voluntary…

TOLEDO: From the linked item by WLIO’s Frederick Vobbe:

Toledo stations are going to wait till June 12th.

We already wrote that one decision was made far from Toledo, as the ABC network owns Toledo affiliate WTVG/13 “13abc”, and had pledged to the FCC that it would keep all its owned-and-operated stations going in analog until June.

A check of the FCC database this morning shows no Toledo market full-power station has filed the required new form to end analog service on February 17th – again, assuming all the forms filed until late last night have been processed and put in the FCC’s CDBS database, which we believe is the case.

Bowling Green State University PBS affiliate WBGU/27 is in the Toledo market (Wood County), though it also serves Lima, and as mentioned before, it has already become digital-only…

DAYTON: It appears Dayton will be an early digital market, pending FCC approval.

The FCC database this morning shows that all of Dayton’s full-power commercial stations, along with ThinkTV PBS affiliate WPTD/16, have filed the new forms to transition on the original February 17th date.

Numerous earlier news reports, as recent as Monday, said the Dayton broadcasters would shut off analog as a group a week from today, and that appears to be holding.

Of course, as mentioned, the FCC says it’ll give special scrutiny to situations where all stations in a market file to shut off analog broadcasts, so we’ll see if Dayton comes to their attention. We also don’t know what the DTV coupon redemption rates are in Dayton, another factor the FCC says it’ll look into…

CINCINNATI: And just down I-71 from Dayton, it appears that Cincinnati will be mostly an analog market.

Only Sinclair MyNetwork TV affiliate WSTR/64 and ThinkTV’s Cincinnati outlet, WPTO/14 Oxford, have filed the new form saying that they’ll shut off their analog channels on February 17th.

The Cincinnati market’s other major full-power broadcasters are, according to numerous reports, staying on in analog as a group.

But in one of those reports by Cincinnati Enquirer radio/TV guru John Kiesewetter:

Cincinnati’s five other stations — Channels 5, 9, 12, 19 and 48 — plus Oxford’s Channel 14 (operated by Ch. 16) — will continue broadcasting both analog and digital signals into spring.

The early termination forms filed by WPTO and WPTD appear to be the “new” forms set forth by the Thursday FCC public notice, and are time stamped as being filed late Thursday afternoon. We’ll see if ThinkTV keeps the analog going in Cincinnati while it shuts off analog in Dayton.

Trinity Broadcasting’s WKOI/43 Richmond IN is also not filing to transition next Tuesday. We’re not sure if the station is considered to be in the Cincinnati market or the Dayton market. We believe it operates as a Cincinnati station, though it can be seen in both markets…

ZANESVILLE: We weren’t aware of this, but WHIZ Media Group NBC affiliate WHIZ/18 has apparently been off the air on the analog side dating back to June 25, 2008, due to an equipment failure…

IN CLOSING: Again, the FCC is expected to provide a full list of the February 17/early analog shutoff stations. We’ll link it to the top of this item when we get it, or separately if it’s not released sometime today.

The above list is based on our own research of the FCC’s public database, with the assumption that all the pre-deadline early transition/analog shutoff findings have been processed there…

Three Items Or More

Now, some items we’ve missed, or smaller items that have just come to our attention…

CAROLE GONE?: Though this appeared on Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 senior director Frank Macek’s “Director’s Cut” blog, we missed it in our recent trip out of Northeast Ohio.

A job change by newly installed “Channel 3 News at 7” co-anchor Carole Sullivan’s husband appears likely to send her packing to San Diego.

That’s where Mike Sullivan has been named offensive line coach for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. He came to Cleveland with Carole in 2007, to join the Cleveland Browns’ coaching staff…after a college coaching job in Michigan.

Given the changes throughout the coaching staff of the local team, Sullivan will join former Browns offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski on the Chargers’ staff.

The former Carole Chandler’s return to town with her husband eventually returned her to WKYC, first as a part-time reporter…and most recently paired with anchor Eric Mansfield on the station’s 7 PM newscast.

The end of her second stint at 13th and Lakeside has not been officially announced, but appears likely. (We’re a native of Northeast Ohio, but we’d choose San Diego, too, especially if our spouse got a job there.)

What isn’t known yet – what will WKYC do with staffing on the 7 PM show if it loses a co-anchor?

Will current anchor Eric Mansfield go solo? Will another reporter be brought in alongside him, or will Romona Robinson lose her only on-air break?

We’ll see…

SPEAKING OF CHANNEL 3: We also missed an item on Mr. Macek’s blog announcing the official 2009 TV schedule of Your Cleveland Indians.

The overall numbers look similar to last year, with SportsTime Ohio picking up 154 regular season contests (and seven games from spring training), and WKYC airing 20 over-air games – presumably again offered to other markets in local syndication. Eight games are scheduled for the Fox Network’s national feed, seen locally on Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8 “FOX 8”. As last year, all the local contests will be in HDTV.

But unless we’re not remembering correctly, it appears there is one new wrinkle this year: the 20 WKYC contests will also be “simulcast on STO”. We know STO has run repeats of the WKYC games, but we don’t believe they’ve run live simulcasts of the Channel 3 games before.

The numbers work out, as 154 (STO/WKYC) plus 8 (Fox) equals 162, the number of games in baseball’s regular season.

And then, there’s this:

Rick Manning, Matt Underwood and Al Pawlowski will handle broadcasting duties during the regular season.

There’s no mention of WKYC sports director Jim Donovan, who has previously joined the broadcast team on the over-air broadcasts handled by his home station. There’s also no mention of what role Pawlowski will play.

But there is this mention:

Manning and Underwood will begin daily updates starting February 16 at 10 p.m. on STO.

With more snow and single-digit lows in the forecast, baseball programming can’t come soon enough…

CREATE THIS: Another subchannel of ideastream Cleveland PBS affiliate WVIZ/25 has now shown up on Time Warner Cable.

“Create”, a nationally-run PBS subchannel featuring cooking, home improvement, crafts, and other home pursuits, landed last week on TWC’s Northeast Ohio system at digital cable 365. It’s right after WVIZ’s two other digital subchannels – The Ohio Channel and World – and right before the new home for the international TV news channel SCOLA at 366.

The latter got bumped up to digital cable by the addition of Trinity Broadcasting O&O WDLI/17 Canton, on analog cable channel 16…

TRANSLATE THIS: As it turns out, the folks at Christian Voice of Central Ohio aren’t hanging onto their small Zanesville-based translator, originally attached to WCVZ/92.7 South Zanesville – the former “92.7 The River” in the Y-Bridge City.

Instead, a commercial operator will purchase it, according to AllAccess:

In another transaction filed with the FCC, CHRISTIAN VOICE OF CENTRAL OHIO, INC. is selling FM translator W233AK/ZANESVILLE, OH to PERRY COUNTY BROADCASTING COMPANY, INC. for $9,000.

The translator will rebroadcast the buyer’s Hot AC WWJM (105.9 THE MIX)/NEW LEXINGTON-ZANESVILLE, OH.

Ah, yes, we always forget about “The Mix” when thinking about Zanesville rimshots.

The hot AC/talk outlet runs female-targeted lifestyle talk shows in addition to its music, including the syndicated “Bob and Sheri” in morning drive, “Matt and Romona” in afternoons, and an evening show hosted by Cooper Lawrence.

All three shows are syndicated out of Charlotte NC talk/hot AC hybrid WLNK/107.9, that syndication now under the Dial Global umbrella.

The 16 watt W233AK is at 94.5, and gives the New Lexington station an “in-city” presence in Zanesville.

Christian Voice of Central Ohio continues to serve the region via CCM/Christian teaching WZNP/89.3 Newark “Promise FM”.

And of course, CVCO’s former home, WCVZ/92.7, is the new home of WHIZ Media Group’s FM presence that was long heard on 102.5 FM…which will eventually decamp into the Columbus market, assuming any operator can buy anything in the current economy…

SPEAKING OF WHIZ: No wonder we put “Or More” in the title.

WHIZ’s TV side is announcing that it is finally offering high definition programming. In an article from the station’s website last week:

(WHIZ Media Group president Hank) Littick added that there was also a lot of equipment replaced. He says “the whole process cost around 3.1 million dollars”. Chief Engineer Bill Hicks says “this past Tuesday at 10:19 am the switched to high definition occurred.

That gave the Zanesville NBC affiliate enough time to air Sunday’s Super Bowl in HD.

Yes, we’re talking small market here…the “broadcasting in high definition” means the station is finally, in 2009, able to pass along NBC network programming in HD. Unlike big markets like nearby Columbus or Cleveland, this has nothing to do with local programming or news in HD… just passing along the network feed.

Littick is encouraging viewers to call cable and satellite providers to add WHIZ’s HD feed. We presume getting it on Time Warner Cable would be fairly straightforward, but we don’t believe either major satellite provider offers the one-station Zanesville market “local-into-local” service in even SD format..

Digital TV Update

As promoted, but a little late…a bit of a Digital TV Update. As of this writing, we’re about 6 weeks away from the digital TV transition on February 17th, where, by 11:59:59 PM, all full-power stations will turn off their signals.

Well, almost all.

We’ve told you about the so-called “nightlight” analog TV bill, which was approved and signed into law. It allows a certain number of stations to keep their analog TV transmitters up for 30 days after February 17, carrying information about the transition and necessary emergency info.

The FCC has released a tentative list of stations (PDF file) that would technically be able to take advantage of the so-called “SAFER Act”, and in Northeast Ohio, there’s only one station that could keep its analog transmitter on the extra month: Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland.

Why WKYC?

Well, the stations allowed the “analog nightlight” period have to be on channels that don’t interfere with post-transition digital channels, for one. That’s the most basic consideration, and since very few digital signals will perch on RF channel 3, that’s how WKYC fits the criteria.

The tentative criteria would also exclude analog signals in the channel 52-69 range, which will be out of the DTV core.

Ohio has four other stations on the early list: Columbus’ WCMH/4 and WSYX/6, Dayton’s WDTN/2 and Zanesville’s WHIZ/18. Some states have no outlets which would be able to provide the “nightlight” service.

The FCC is still going through all this stuff, and there’s no word at this early time (!!) whether WKYC or any other listed station will take advantage of the “SAFER Act”. As far as we know, it’s entirely voluntary.

As far as Cleveland’s Channel 3 goes, they’re still pretty much at stage one in regards to construction of the new tower that will hold the digital antennas for WKYC-DT (RF 17) and WVIZ-DT (RF 26).

We took the OMW Mobile to Parma on Sunday, and snapped this picture from the end of the WKYC transmitter facility’s driveway…where you can, from the street, see these tower sections laying on the ground in front of the WKYC transmitter building.

We don’t know where the antenna tower will sit on the property, but you can tell from these pictures snapped two days ago that there’s a lot more work to do.

We also snapped a picture, from a nearby public street, of this WKYC auxiliary tower – we believe the temporary WVIZ-DT antenna is up there somewhere, not on the nearby radar tower, as specified in a WVIZ FCC filing. The two towers are next to each other.

Our apologies for the picture quality, as the fog rolled in on Sunday.

From the WKYC site on Broadview Road, we thought we’d head for the former WVIZ studios on Brookpark Road, and see if anything was still on that short auxiliary tower behind the building.

The tower behind the former WVIZ studios has been completely dismantled, and the building itself is now occupied by office tenants. When they said they had to vacate the former STA site, they meant it.

Move along, nothing to see here.

But there’s a lot to see at this FCC website link, which provides estimated coverage maps – and signal improvement – for all of the country’s full-power digital stations, and the digital signal increases (or decreases) nationwide for the four major commercial TV networks.

We’re also watching the FCC’s online CDBS database, which doesn’t yet show an agency approval for the early “power up” for Western Reserve PBS Youngstown market outlet WNEO-DT 45 Alliance…

Out Of The Box Monday

Items have been piling up, almost literally, over the weekend…so, let’s give them room to breathe free. But this update is so big, we’ll have to split it into two…with more coming later today…

WRUW BACK: Case Western Reserve University’s WRUW/91.1 Cleveland is back on the air again.

The non-comm station’s website has details:

We were able to turn on our transmitter again just after 9:30 am on Friday, December 5, 2008, after almost two weeks off the air due to a fire at our transmitter site in East Cleveland.

The fire was on the lower floors of the building, so our equipment remained unscathed, but the building has been without power for about 10 days. Residents of the 27-story apartment building were able to begin moving back in earlier this week.

As we noted, that building was the same building featured on local TV newscasts for the past couple of weeks. When we looked into news reports of the fire’s aftermath, it appeared that those who lived in floors above a certain level (like, the 10th floor) were allowed to return when power was restored, and of course, WRUW’s facilities are up on the roof of the building…

CRAIG LIKES THE WORLDWIDE LEADER: It should be no surprise to anyone who follows sports radio either here in Northeast Ohio, or in Milwaukee.

But Good Karma Broadcasting boss Craig Karmazin finally gets to unite his Madison WI radio station with his favorite sports radio network, The Worldwide Leader In Sports(we’re-pretty-sure-that’s-a-tm), ESPN Radio.

Karmazin’s WTLX/100.5 Monona WI, once an FM “hot talk” station and now a sports outlet, becomes “ESPN 100.5” in January – as the owner of Cleveland’s “ESPN 850 WKNR” and “AM 1540, KNR2” takes the ESPN affiliation in the Madison market from its longtime affiliate there, crosstown Clear Channel sports WTSO/1070.

The station will mix ESPN hosts like “Mike & Mike”, Colin Cowherd and Scott Van Pelt with its established simulcast of local host Steve “The Homer” True in afternoon drive. True is based at Karmazin’s “540 ESPN” in Milwaukee. In Cleveland, “Mike & Mike” air on Good Karma’s WKNR, with Cowherd and Van Pelt on “KNR2”.

And like “KNR2”, the Good Karma Madison market station on 100.5 is getting a signal upgrade. WTLX is moving from its home as a rimshot out of Columbus WI to a tower in the heart of the Madison market…an upgrade Karmazin expects to be complete when the ESPN Radio affiliation starts.

Here, by the way, at last check, WWGK/1540 – the radio artist known as “KNR2” – is still broadcasting its 1,000 watt daytime-only signal from a tower next to a church and a drug store at 80th and Euclid Avenue on Cleveland’s East Side, the transmitting equipment in a temporary trailer setup. (We took a quick ride on RTA’s new “HealthLine” bus rapid transit system to get a look.)

“KNR2” is destined for a new 3,500 watt (still only) daytime signal diplexed with big brother WKNR at the station’s transmitter site in North Royalton, but a quick radio signal check the other day confirms that they aren’t there, yet…

RE-CLIPPED: A Columbus radio station is about to start another run as the flagship station of the AAA Columbus Clippers minor league baseball team.

If you guessed that the Central Ohio entrant in the International League will return to North American Broadcasting standards WMNI/920, you are correct.

Friday, the team and station announced a new five-year deal that will put every Clippers game on WMNI, starting with this season’s debut at the new Huntington Park ballpark in downtown Columbus’ Arena District.

Quoting the release:

The partnership will include all 144 regular season Clippers games, the broadcast of the annual Triple-A All Star Game, all post season games and the Triple-A Championship Game known as the “Bricktown Showdown.”

WMNI stepped in to carry Clippers games back in 2006, when former Clippers flagship WVKO/1580 went off the air in that mess between former owner Stop 26-Riverbend Productions and current owner Bernard Radio.

Bernard Radio took the station off the air after taking over the management of it, due to a lost transmitter site lease…and eventually returned WVKO to the air from a new transmitter site near an apartment complex on Morse Road.

But WMNI only ran a package of weekend games (“Weekend with the Clippers”) in both 2006 and again later in 2007.

The Clippers’ games then returned to WVKO, by then a liberal talk station operated in an LMA by Gary Richards’ Cowtown Communications, for the full 2008 season.

(A Columbus Dispatch article on the Clippers/WMNI signing doesn’t even mention WVKO by name or frequency, only calling it “the team’s radio affiliate” that went off the air in 2006.)

Both the article and release note that WMNI has history carrying Columbus baseball games even before it stepped in to air the weekend games a couple of years ago…the station was the flagship of the old Columbus Jets team in the 1960’s.

The team says broadcaster Scott Leo returns for 2008, and the Dispatch also reports that the games will be made available on the Internet.

After getting Rodney Dangerfield-style non-respect the past few years, the Clippers are becoming a hot ticket in Central Ohio…with the move to the new ballpark, and with the recently announced four-year development deal that makes the Cleveland Indians the team’s new parent club…

AND SPEAKING OF WVKO: Despite a number of issues, the aforementioned WVKO/1580 has made it through its first year as a liberal talk outlet.

WVKO hit the airwaves on December 3, 2007, offering a lineup of syndicated progressive talk fare once heard in the market on Clear Channel’s WTPG/1230, which is now WYTS “Your Talk Station”…featuring a decidedly non-liberal lineup.

Since then, WVKO has added local talk, including a weekday afternoon show now hosted by Dr. Bob Fitrakis (“Fight Back”), along with some local weekend shows (“Blue State Diner”, etc.).

It hasn’t been an easy year for Mr. Richards and company.

After enduring brickbats from, well, certain media blogs about a lack of satellite delivery for its syndicated programming and poor audio quality, WVKO hung in there…even while Mr. Richards and company expressed serious concern before the November election that left-leaning political candidates didn’t feel they “needed” to advertise to the audiences that would “already vote for them”.

And the station is still asking listeners for contributions, selling T-shirts and magnets online (with free bumperstickers and window clings), and looking for “progressive minded” sales people to help jumpstart commercial sales.

(Of course, the problem of selling commercials is not at all limited to any one station in the current economy. And really, what WVKO needs more than “progressive minded” sales people is “aggressive minded” sales people, but that’s another matter.)

After all of that, and in the middle of a breathtaking economic downturn, the station is still around to hold a shindig celebrating its first anniversary.

It’ll be held Tuesday night at Studio 35 Cinema in Columbus. The evening features a special movie double-feature aimed right at WVKO listeners’ political sweet spots – “Religulous” by Bill Maher at 7 PM, followed by Oliver Stone’s “W.” at 9 PM.

Doors will open at 6 PM, and the station says admission is free.

Now, we have a touchy history with WVKO.

When we first brought up the bad-sounding Internet-fed audio, we tweaked them here pretty good, which led a mini-army of WVKO supporters, staffers and those associated with the station to go after us on the station’s message board…saying we were, let’s see if we can remember, “right-wingers enjoying the station’s troubles”.

No, we are media professionals, who were calling out a top 40 market radio station for sounding like it was an Internet audio feed with an AM transmitter, that audio delivered by an unequalized phone line. (That’s all been fixed, as far as we know, and has been for some time.)

Politics had absolutely nothing to do with it. And remember, we’re big fans of one of WVKO’s most prominent national hosts, Dial Global’s Stephanie Miller.

Since then, it’s also become quite apparent to us that WVKO is, as has been put, a “below shoestring” operation…basically, it’s Mr. Richards’ one-man band with assorted help from some others.

We’re big fans of “the little guy” trying to make a go of it in a complex, big company-owned media world…especially one that puts his own financial livelihood on the line, literally putting his money where his (radio) mouth, er, microphone, is.

So, here’s hoping that WVKO actually hangs in there through what’ll be a very difficult time for all media outlets in this country.

The station operates in a niche, to be sure. It’s never going to give Clear Channel talk powerhouse WTVN/610 any indigestion, and it’s a high-band, modestly powered AM station.

But maybe WVKO’s very vocal and active supporters and listeners can help 1580’s current operation make it to its second anniversary…

ZANESVILLE CHANGES: An OMW reader reports that Zanesville hot AC WHIZ-FM/102.5 “Z102” has ended its long run on the frequency, as WHIZ Media Group prepares to move 102.5 to the Columbus ex-urb of Baltimore OH, presumably to sell it to a new owner at some point.

Our listener tells us that 102.5 is still on the air, from what sounds like its Zanesville transmitter facility, but running a crudely-put-together presumably automated country music format as “Highway 102.5”.

We have no other confirmation, other than our reader’s report.

But WHIZ has been simulcasting its FM side for some weeks now on WCVZ/92.7 South Zanesville, the former “92.7 the River” that WHIZ’s Southeast Ohio Broadcasting System is in the process of buying from Christian Voice of Central Ohio.

CVCO launched WZNP/89.3 Newark “89.3 The Promise” to nominally replace the 92.7 “River” CCM format in the region. CVCO, of course, owns the “River” mothership in the Columbus market – WCVO/104.9 Gahanna.

A quick check of the WHIZ website shows that they’ve even kept the WCVZ calls for the FM side, at least online, and the FM’s page now identifies it solely as “WCVZ Z92.7”, complete with the new logo pictured at right.

So, even though we can’t hear the country music said to be wafting over the airwaves on WHIZ-FM’s former home at 102.5, it sure looks like the WHIZ Media Group folks have “closed the books” on that frequency – with just some automated country music meant to keep the frequency warm, but also meant to make sure “Z102” listeners made the move to 92.7 permanently…

Big Monday Roundup

We’ve been compiling this one on and off over the weekend, and it’s grown seemingly by the hour.

So, let’s unleash the Big Monday Roundup, with 60’s and 70’s oldies music in the background, in honor of WZOO/102.5’s flip from top 40 to oldies over the weekend…

NO FSN OHIO HD?: Since the channel is not used all that often, we didn’t know about this until the appearance of George M. Thomas’ “Airing It Out” column in the Akron Beacon Journal on Thursday.

But it appears FOX Sports Net Ohio has slammed the door on its HDTV broadcasts on Time Warner Cable in Northeast Ohio – only. The SD/analog version of FSN Ohio remains unaffected, and is still on the air on TWC.

This would explain why we didn’t see the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opening FSN HD TV game the other night, on TWC’s “HD Bonus” channel 798…that Adelphia leftover which was set up to air HD broadcasts from either FSN Ohio or SportsTime Ohio.

And it’ll also explain the absence of the Cleveland Cavaliers in HD later this month, if the dispute drags on.

The move, according to Mr. Thomas’ column, was made by FSN Ohio as a negotiating chip. Both versions of FSN Ohio – standard and HDTV – have been carried by Time Warner Cable, with FSN’s blessing – since the contract between the two expired at the start of the year.

Quoting FSN Ohio chief Steve Liverani in Mr. Thomas’ column:

“It appears that Time Warner is taking the customers that are sports fans for granted. The bottom line is if they don’t want to offer sports to their customers, then they should be honest about it.”

As thousands of cable subscribers cry “not again!”, TWC local spokesman Bill Jasso responds:

”Giving in to prices that sports networks are charging would be a long-term problem.”

Mr. Jasso has a point.

Sports networks all over, from new ones like the Big Ten Network and the NFL Network, to established networks like FSN, know their programming is popular. They want to get as much money as possible.

Meanwhile, cable operators like Time Warner realize that despite the sports networks’ popularity, the money those networks command is often outsized compared to actual viewership. FSN Ohio may be one of the “high profile” sports networks that many people do watch, but even they lost the Cleveland Indians a couple of years ago.

FSN Ohio does have, of course, the TV rights to the NBA Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, and that may have emboldened them to ask for more money, as was rumored even before the start of the last basketball season.

The wrench in the works is something we noted before: the FSN/TWC negotiations aren’t between Steve Liverani and TWC NEO’s Steven Frye. The dispute is being negotiated at the corporate level between TWC and FOX Sports Net, nationally.

Add in the fact we mentioned also – FSN owns half of the Big Ten Network, and is rumored to be linking that network with the TWC national talks over the FSN regional networks…and it could get interesting…

RUBBER CITY NEWS MOVE: There’s another personnel move at the Akron Radio Center.

Rubber City Radio country WQMX/94.9 will have a new news anchor starting today, as part-timer Chris Keppler moves into a full-time gig as WQMX’s morning news anchor.

The name may be familiar to regular OMW readers. Before joining Rubber City, Keppler had experience as news director of Dover/New Philadelphia’s WJER, then at both AM 1450 and 101.7 FM, now solely at 1450.

(And if we have to explain THAT change to any long-time readers, you’re just not paying attention! Feel free to put “WJER” into our search box above if you weren’t around in late 2006…)

Meanwhile, Marcy Pappafava stays with the company. She’ll fill in this week for the vacationing Larry States on WAKR/1590’s “Ray Horner Show”, then will transition to become the regular midday anchor on WAKR (and on WQMX/WONE if needed for breaking news and the like).

Marcy has been, behind the scenes, assignment editor for the Rubber City Radio newsroom, and will continue that role after moving to WAKR middays.

We’ll assume this means that the combo move basically fills the opening left by the departure of long-time WAKR news anchor/reporter Pat Kennard a couple of months ago.

And following the long-held tradition of radio news types finding a second career in state government jobs, Ms. Kennard is now a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Division 4, the agency’s Akron-based district…

WMRN/MARION’S COLUMBUS MOVE OK’ED: We are a day or two late on this, but yes, the FCC has officially OK’ed the move of Clear Channel’s WMRN/106.9 from Marion to the Columbus suburb of – wait, let us get out a map – Dublin.

A helpful OMW reader dug up the official approval, which we’re linking here.

And it’s all rather simple.

“Informal” (FCC wording) objections filed by opposition group The Committee for Competitive Columbus Radio and Sandyworld, Inc. were rendered moot by one other move: the approval of WHIZ-FM/102.5’s COL move from Zanesville to the Columbus market outburb/wide spot on the road of Baltimore, Ohio.

That move nudged the Columbus market up from 44 signals to 45, which allowed the FCC to clear the way for Clear Channel’s fifth Columbus market FM signal per existing ownership rules.

The Sandyworld folks are the licensees of the WOSU-FM translator currently operating at 106.7 FM (legally W294AH). WMRN’s move from a Marion station to one fully within the Columbus market also means a facilities change – from 106.9 in Marion to 106.7 in Dublin.

That automatically means the unprotected translator has to go off the air, per FCC rules…though it’d probably have to go anyway even if the current WMRN weren’t moving down one channel.

Though a lot of the technical and studio work has already been done by Clear Channel for the incoming station, it may be at least a few months before the move is made by the current WMRN.

One reason?

The move is linked to other moves of stations licensed to Hillsboro and Chillicothe, which have to be done before the current Marion-based station moves south…

WILLIE’S DEBUT: Clear Channel talk WLW/700 Cincinnati early afternoon host Bill Cunningham made his regular national radio debut on Sunday night, hosting a show called, well, “Live On Sunday Night, It’s Bill Cunningham”. (We’re about ready to lay odds on how long that long official title lasts, except as an outcue to spot breaks.)

The show, like his WLW weekday program, originates from Clear Channel’s big cluster studios in the Kenwood area of Cincinnati.

“Willie’s” opening two hours were not heard on former Matt Drudge affiliate WTAM/1100 in Cleveland, due to a lengthy postgame show for the Cleveland Indians’ game 3 loss to the New York Yankees. WTAM joined in for his last hour at midnight.

The show was heard on talk WHLO/640 Akron, and we presume on other Clear Channel talkers like WKBN/570 Youngstown. We caught it on WLW itself, via its simulcast on XM Satellite Radio channel 173.

Cunningham is a long-time friend of ABC Radio syndicated host Sean Hannity, who appeared in the show’s first hour. And according to Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio guru John Kiesewetter in an item posted on his blog on Sunday, Hannity stepped in to try to ensure that “Willie” got to keep as many affiliates from Drudge’s roster as possible.

Hannity works for ABC Radio Networks, and is based at flagship WABC/770 in New York City. Both are now owned by the folks at Citadel.

But Hannity’s affiliate grouping and Drudge’s 325-station list probably have a lot of overlap. And it’s pretty safe to say that Hannity has a lot of pull with Phil Boyce, program director of the largest affiliate in both lists, New York’s WABC.

In reality, Hannity probably didn’t have to lift a finger or make a single phone call, or send a single E-Mail, to stem possible defections from the Drudge affiliate list.

Sunday night at 10 PM ET is like the similar time slot on Saturday, where many stations have satellite receivers permanently tuned to the Premiere radio channel that delivers “Coast to Coast AM”. Premiere could air an hour of polka music on weekend nights, and it would probably take program directors about three weeks to figure out that it wasn’t Art Bell or George Noory on the air.

We intend no offense towards Ian Punnett, the host who launched “Coast to Coast Live” in the 10 PM-1 AM Saturday slot displacing “Coast to Coast AM” early reruns.

But like that situation, Mr. Cunningham probably retains nearly all of Matt Drudge’s 325 affiliates through inertia…without help from his ABC Radio-syndicated friend.

For “Willie”, it’s a good place to be…

BROWNS HAVE A TOLEDO RADIO OUTLET: We don’t know how we missed this, but an OMW tipster up in Northwest Ohio tells us the Cleveland Browns Radio Network did indeed land a Toledo station after all.

It’s Cornerstone Church-owned Christian contemporary AM outlet WDMN/1520 Rossford, known on the air as “Dominion 1520”.

We’re told that WDMN has been airing the Browns Radio Network broadcasts since the last pre-season game.

And yes, that’s the same Cornerstone Church which also owns the Browns pre-season TV network outlet in the Glass City, MyNetworkTV affiliate WMNT-CA 48 (aka “My 58”, for its cable position on Toledo’s Buckeye Cablevision).

You could hardly find two weaker stations.

Even when Cumulus talk WTOD/1560 expressed interest in the Browns rights, and was plotting alternatives for games that went beyond the station’s daytime-only broadcast hours, the station at least had a little power behind it.

WDMN/1520 is not a daytimer, but it throws out a puny 500 watt directional daytime signal, and 400 watts nighttime, from a site south of Toledo in Ottawa County. The station moved there from a two-site operation – actually a two-state two-site operation! – a ways back, when it changed its COL from Toledo to Rossford.

And we’ve already talked here about the low-wattage signal of Cornerstone’s TV outlet, WMNT-CA 48. (By the way, we believe that station’s case is STILL in court, with the former owners once again trying to wrestle control back from the Cornerstone folks.)

Cornerstone also still owns former dance outlet WNKL/96.9 Wauseon, which it is now LMAing to the folks at California’s “K-Love”.

Our question: We reported earlier from outposts all over the state that the Browns Radio Network had been asking for a decent chunk of change for rights fees, and that at least one Ohio station had been forced to leave the network after a long run because of that.

Did Cornerstone ante up the same kind of money that other Toledo stations owned by two major broadcast companies refused to pay? Or did they get a “fire sale price” because the games would not air otherwise? We don’t know…

TRIBE SONG: And with the Cleveland Indians in the American League playoffs, we may have a candidate for a “Tribe song” for the post-season now.

No, it’s not the team’s own “Tribe Time” jingle, which has translated into a very, very popular T-shirt slogan. We mean the “non-team produced song” that has become a Cleveland tradition for local teams making sports playoffs.

“Mambo for the Tribe” came from Salem Cleveland CCM outlet WFHM/95.5 “The Fish”, and specifically, the station’s Dale Officer and Nick Kubik. It’s a rework of Lou Vega’s hit “Mambo Number Five”.

We’re told it’s played on at least two other Cleveland stations not owned by Salem, though we can’t verify that.

You can sample it, or purchase it, here on Officer’s “HitzTheSpot” production website.

The download is priced at $1.50, which we believe is 51 cents more than the 45 RPM record of “The 12 Days Of A Cleveland Browns’ Christmas” back in the early 1980’s (“…on a Rutigliano Super Bowl Teammmmm…”).

Or it’s much less, if you account for inflation…