WWGK: No Tony Today, But A New Addition

Here at the OMW World Headquarters, we’ve finally found a radio which we can twist into the right position to regularly monitor Good Karma Broadcasting sports WWGK/1540 “Cleveland’s ESPN Radio 1540”.

It’s not the best, most listenable signal this far away – static abounds, and a hissing noise is constant – but it’s enough to endure to figure out what they’re doing on the air.

To wit, we did NOT hear WJW/8 “FOX 8” sports anchor Tony Rizzo on 1540 again this week, after last week’s special Ohio State/Michigan-themed show where he openly said that he’d like to be on regularly, and would try to work that out with his bosses on South Marginal Road.

“Cleveland’s ESPN Radio 1540” instead ran the usual ESPN Radio programming for the 10 AM to noon Saturday slot, which we believe is whatever flavor of “College GameDay” airs then.

However, just minutes ago, the radio in the other room tuned to 1540 revealed the latest addition to the WWGK lineup: Westwood One’s College Football Game of the Week.

The addition makes sense for the daytimer. Westwood One offers a regular weekday afternoon game during the college football season. It offers Notre Dame games separately, which air in Cleveland on Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100.

And..a game with a noon or 1 PM start is in no danger of being cut off by the station’s sunset signoff.

We’ll also note, though, that the NASCAR races the station carries on Sundays could be. To that end, we heard the station’s Bernard Bokenyi in a recorded liner a week or two back warning listeners that the station was “going to low-power” at 5 PM, and signing off entirely at 5:45 PM.

That low-power is a sub-lightbulb level of 18 watts. WWGK would be lucky to make it far from Euclid Avenue and East 80th Street with that, though we once heard a scratchy signal from that power level as far away as Parma.

We’re trying to remember, but we believe it’s a post-sunset authority the station has on paper, but which hasn’t made it to the FCC database. The FCC’s online sunrise/sunset time lookup for WWGK notes a 5 PM sunset in November.

Perhaps former 1540 chief engineer and OMW reader Chris Quinn – now concentrating on the formerly co-owned station at 1460/Painesville which took the WABQ calls – can refresh our memory on this. We seem to recall that it’s -not- a “critical hours” thing…


A Teaser

Since it’s been a day or so since we updated, we’ll just let you know that we’re still around.

And coming in the next couple of days or so:

* Photographic evidence of a certain heavily-watched future Northeast Ohio transmitter site, which is a much drier place than when we last dropped in. Publication of the photos here will result in a certain person quickly closing his eyes, so he can honestly say he doesn’t know the status of the project if asked by a newspaper reporter.

* A local radio anniversary.

* Our final “Ho Ho Ho Report” on local stations switching to holiday music, and our opinion as to why it may not happen as early for many stations next year.

* More on Time Warner Cable’s post-Adelphia merger situation, and some unanswered questions finally answered.

* Other odds and ends we may have missed in the Thanksgiving Day holiday period, and a comment or two…and just maybe, The State of OMW.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend…

Thanksgiving Preparation

No, we don’t mean turkey and stuffing, we mean we’ve prepared some items for you to read on the holiday.

And we give a salute to all of Ohio’s broadcasters who have to work on Thanksgiving Day…

THAT 101.7 STL ANTENNA: Much earlier in the saga “WJER-FM Is Moving North”, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) saw a mirage…an STL dish in a place on that Clear Channel Akron/Canton STL tower behind the company’s World Domination HQ/Southern Command on Freedom Avenue in…oh, you know the drill.

As it turned out, the dish was later confirmed to be in packing, on the ground behind the aforementioned facility.

Not anymore.

An I-77 commuter heading out of Canton towards the Akron/Canton Airport informs OMW that today, crews were mounting the STL dish upon the tower in question. We haven’t seen it yet, but we’re told it’s pointing roughly south/southwest – aiming at the location where a tower will soon rise at 22nd and Whipple in Canton. We’re also told it is lower on the tower than the other dishes, so it should be easy to spot.

There is also a second dish, the purpose of which we don’t know. If they’d need a second antenna aiming at the same place for WRQK/106.9, that’d explain that.

We’re betting that WJER operator/former owner Gary Petricola, when asked about this item, will say “I haven’t heard of any STL antennas in Stark County”.

We wonder if he’ll say that on December 11th, when a Clear Channel-operated feed is scheduled to take over his 101.7 frequency… or if, like a certain former Iraqi information minister relegated to late night TV comedic history, he’ll deny it’s even happening…

And by the way, with the move, the Clear Channel-operated 101.7 will most assuredly take new calls, leaving “WJER” behind only with AM 1450….

YES, ROBIN’S BACK: In the worst kept secret since, well, we don’t know…yes, that’s former WJW/8 mainstay Robin Swoboda coming back to the station, and to local TV, and to local media.

The local FOX O&O says Robin’s new show, “That’s Life”, will be a “highly interactive show for women” when it debuts in January.

We’re not sure of the timing, but we’ve heard it could air at 9 or 10 AM weekdays, depending on the placement of the new FOX national hour-long show with Juliet Huddy and Mike Jerrick…which will air on all of the company’s owned-and-operated stations.

An earlier OMW item on that show says it will be on at 9, so that would put Robin’s new local show on at 10 AM weekdays.

FOX 8 has put up a webpage and E-Mail for the new show, as it prepares to launch.

And please, try to make your comments original this time. Our site, our rules…and we’d consider your comments more insightful if you are female, and part of the target audience for this new program…

ODDS AND ENDS: With Cleveland outlets WDOK/102.1 and WFHM/95.5 officially on the Christmas music “sleigh ride”, some others will follow after Thanksgiving.

OMW hears that among small, local outlets doing at least some local programming, WLKR/95.3 Norwalk will be on that list. And we presume a number of stations carrying various satellite networks will automatically be moved into holiday music whenever their networks do so…

Or not, at least in local programming time.

Dix country WQKT/104.5 Wooster afternoon host Dave Dial tells OMW that his own 4-7 PM local weekday afternoon show will hold off on the Christmas music until about December 15th.

And even then, Dial says he’ll play songs “that should be sung by certain singers” even if that takes him outside the station’s country format, with folks like Dean Martin doing the crooning if called for…

SINCE WE PROMISED: We’ll give the folks at Mount Union College outlet WRMU/91.1 Alliance a plug for their coverage of the school’s powerhouse Division III college football team’s latest romp through the playoffs.

The Purple Raiders are now in round two of the D-III playoffs, playing Wheaton College at noon on Saturday. WRMU also streams the coverage at the station’s website

BYE, BYE, RUSS: A long-time local media writer is hanging it up in Toledo.

Toledo Blade TV/radio writer and columnist Russ Lemmon has written his last column for the Northwest Ohio newspaper, as he and his wife leave town and head for new vistas in Stuart FL.

(Why, oh, why, do we not pay attention to these people who leave Ohio BEFORE winter starts, and follow them in moving to warmer climes? Oh, well, no one ever said we were that bright when it comes to that sort of thing…)

Lemmon’s final column for the Blade is a laundry list – in his eyes – of the good, bad and ugly of Toledo media that he’s covered over the years.

He calls most local media types “genuinely nice”, but aims a shot at an unnamed Toledo broadcaster “who currently works on the AM side of the radio dial”.

OMW has not heard of any possible replacement for Lemmon as far as the Blade’s radio/TV/media beat is concerned, and we wouldn’t be surprised if they just did not fill it…

EXCLUSIVE: Time Warner Cable Restructures Local Production, 17 Let Go

The Cleveland operation of Time Warner Cable, the former Adelphia-owned system which covers the bulk of the Cleveland area, is changing how it does its local programming.

As a result, 17 Time Warner studio/production employees will no longer be working for the company as of December 1st. They produce a variety of programs seen on the company’s cable channel 15. OMW hears that some employees have been with the former Adelphia system back to the days when it was owned by Cablevision, some 20-plus years ago.

The move is because of a difference in how Time Warner and Adelphia produce local programming, according to TWC local media relations vice-president Bill Jasso.

Jasso tells OMW that unlike Adelphia, which maintained an in-house local production team, Time Warner produces local programming with a small in-house staff, and contracts out to other production companies for the bulk of the work.

You’re unlikely to see many on-air (on-cable?) changes as a result of the dismantling of the former Adelphia studio operation. Jasso tells us that the system plans to keep its existing local programming in the Cleveland area, including “More Sports and Les Levine”, the highest profile program on what is now Time Warner Cable channel 15 on the Cleveland system.

He also notes that there have been on-going negotiations regarding the 17 dismissed staffers since Time Warner took over the Adelphia Cleveland system, and that their final work day was moved from November 1st to December 1st at the request of a union bargaining agent “in order to ensure that benefits would continue through the holidays.”

Jasso tells OMW that TWC offered “a severance package” to the employees, which the local TWC executive says “was not in their union contract”.

Many will presumably try to take up working with the outside contractors, though it won’t likely be the same level of work (or benefits). But this has been a pretty brutal season on the media job loss front, as you can ask many Clear Channel employees in the past few weeks…

The move does not affect the company’s Akron/Canton programming staff. That existing group is already operating under Time Warner’s local programming guidelines…and produces a lot less programming than the Cleveland studio does…

Clear Channel Atlanta Changes Reach Back to Ohio

Cluster after cluster, we’ve been reading about Clear Channel groups dumping staff just about everywhere…presumably a massive chain-wide budget cut due to the recent announcement of a sale to private equity funds.

The latest is Atlanta, where various trade websites report what can only be called the wholesale gutting of Clear Channel talk mainstay WGST/640.

And that’s where Ohio comes in.

Though the top item on the list nationally is the exit of veteran morning host Tom Hughes and afternoon host Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson, the top item here concerns the midday shift, where former WSPD/1370 Toledo host Denny Schaffer is out in the evisceration of WGST.

Plus, there’s another Ohio connection, as the move gives WLW/700 Cincinnati-based syndicated host Mike McConnell his first really big market clearance…WGST will pick up McConnell’s program to replace Schaffer.

From the reports, it appears Clear Channel is basically giving up on the talk station they’ve poured money, and talent, into…in a futile attempt to compete with Cox talk powerhouse WSB/750.

It’s so bad, the company is running “Wall Street Journal This Morning” in WGST’s morning drive slot with the departure of Hughes.

That’s not a bad show…local stations like Clear Channel’s WARF/1350 Akron run it.

But not aired once, then repeated THREE TIMES between 5 and 9 AM, with cursory local news/weather/traffic inserts. That’s what WGST is planning to do in Atlanta.

More on WGST’s “new lineup” from program director Randall Bloomquist here.

The Clear Channel budget axe also hit Louisville KY, where six staffers have exited, according to AllAccess.

And no, our item below next to the question mark does not concern Clear Channel’s operations, or for that matter, any other local radio or broadcast TV outlet. (We still haven’t heard, for example, any more names from reported CC budget cutting at the Oak Tree World Domination HQ in Independence.)

We do have some answers, though, on the item we hinted about below, and we’ll share them with you in our next update…

Still Here, So Here’s More

We’re not yet stuffed with turkey and the trimmings, so here’s some more random items:

MEDIA SHAKEUP: We can’t give any more details yet, as we have yet to nail this down.

But OMW is hearing pretty solid rumors of a major shakeup at one Northeast Ohio media outpost, including people being let go…and the way that operation does business being drastically changed.

Expect to read more about this in the next day or two, as we’re trying to get an official response from an executive of the operation in question.

But if you’re out there worrying, don’t.

If this news doesn’t ring a bell with your own situation, it’s not you… OMW hears that those affected by the changes are already aware of them. And you’ll notice our wording is very careful.

And no, it has nothing to do with a Canton AM station…or FM, for that matter. That’s all we’ll say…

SAVAGE MOVE: AllAccess reports that Cumulus talk WTOD/1560 Toledo is picking up TRN’s Michael Savage, after “The Savage Nation” was dumped by Clear Channel talk competitor WSPD/1370.

Savage will air on WTOD in his live time slot from 6-9 PM. Well, eventually. Not yet.

Like WWGK/1540 “Cleveland’s ESPN Radio 1540” and its planned clearance of owner Craig Karmazin’s evening show “Steve and Craig”, WTOD can’t air Savage yet because it is a daytimer…and the show will not actually be heard on 1560 in Toledo until roughly March, according to the FCC’s website.

If you tune to 1560 in Toledo between 6 and 9 PM until then, you’ll hear Radio Disney booming in…due the signal of 50,000 watt WQEW in New York City booming into the region.

Now, that’ll be a jolt in the Spring…from Savage to Radio Disney without re-tuning a radio!

We ordinarily would get this kind of stuff from regular OMW reader Chuck Matthews, who’s WTOD’s program director, but we haven’t heard from him on it…

20 YEARS: And congratulations to Mount Vernon non-comm WNZR/90.9.

AllAccess reports that the Mount Vernon Nazarene University CCM outlet recently celebrated 20 years on the air with a 20 hour live broadcast.

And there’s a reason the small college station has such a professional outlook.

Former WQIO/93.7 station manager Joe Reinhart took over as MVNU’s Director of Broadcasting when he left the outlet once owned by Clear Channel, which is now BAS Broadcasting’s “Eagle 93.7”.

And his wife Marcy is station manager and morning co-host. She also has experience at the city’s commercial broadcast duo, and is also an MVNU graduate (1991)…

Random Stuff to Start Your Week

Since your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) may be a bit busy with holiday-related stuff this Thanksgiving week, we’ll put up some Monday items early on a Sunday night. We’ll still be around and posting, but probably not as much this week…

MORE CHRISTMAS MUSIC: It looks like we won’t have to wait long for a traditional early entrant into the Cleveland Christmas Music Sweepstakes.

Salem CCM WFHM/95.5 “The Fish” is announcing on its website that the holiday tunes start rolling Monday.

And since we have yet to hear them on CBS Radio AC station WDOK/102.1 “Soft Rock 102.1”, which is already advertising itself as “the home of holiday music”, we’ll assume they’ve got the same plan in mind…give or take a day or two.

Why do stations flip to Christmas music at ever earlier dates?

Blame high ratings, which AC stations, especially, see when they turn on the Rudolph Machine at this time of year. A New York City AC station saw their ratings go through the proverbial roof the first time they made a big deal of going “all-Christmas”, and you know what other radio executives thought after seeing that.

(That’s radio – an industry with more copying than the photo-duplication business.)

And speaking of Rudolph, though Clear Channel’s WKDD/98.1 is not breaking format for holiday music on the air, they’re riding the Christmas Music sleigh online.

“Radio Rudolph” is already up at the Akron/Canton hot AC outlet’s website, with 24/7 streaming Christmas music.

And there’s another reason why stations do the holiday tuneage, either online or on the air – WKDD has lined up a presenting sponsor for “Radio Rudolph”…

NOW, HERE’S THE MAN WHO MAKES THAT DIFFERENCE: A regular OMW reader gives us the heads up – Rubber City Radio VP Nick Anthony is now being heard regularly behind the microphone as well.

In particular, the former WHLO/640 mid-morning talk personality – who went off the air and strictly into management and consulting long ago – is voicetracking some weekend shifts for Rubber City standards flagship WAKR/1590 Akron.

We don’t know for sure, but we believe this is the first time Nick’s been heard on a regular, scheduled basis on the air since he did his talk show at the old “WHLO News/Talk 64” in the mid-1970’s.

And that’s where we got the headline for this item. Former WHLO general manager Allen Saunders cut the hour openers for the station, and used that line to introduce the station’s hosts…nearly all male, by the way, except for a woman or two occasionally on the weekend schedule.

(Back then, of course, 640 in Akron was owned by Susquehanna…and the only things the current Clear Channel-owned WHLO shares with it are the never-changed call letters, the frequency and a similar format. And Susquehanna itself is now dead, having been swallowed into Cumulus.)

And yes, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) can list just about every former WHLO News/Talk 64 host, and what they are doing now. For one, former night/weekend host Ron Verb is now the long-time afternoon drive co-host at Clear Channel talk WKBN/570 in Youngstown…

AND SPEAKING OF WKBN: No, we didn’t plan it this way, but…while we’re here…

You can add that Youngstown talk radio station to the list of stations doing streaming audio. We don’t know when WKBN turned on the online feed, but it wasn’t that long ago.

Though the 570 signal does get into a decent chunk of the Akron/Canton/Cleveland area, the stream may allow some of those to the far west to sample “Ron and Casey” in afternoon drive (Ron is paired with former rock WNCD/93.3 midday personality Casey Malone, who apparently finally convinced management to take her off double duty), and other local hosts like Rob Mangino in mornings, and WKBN operations manager Dan Rivers in middays.

WKBN has never carried Premiere syndicated host Glenn Beck, or any other mid-morning syndicated show – as Rivers basically took over directly from late market icon Dan Ryan after his passing some years ago…

RIZZ’S DEBUT: We did manage to orient the radio in the right way to pick up at least some of the first talk show by WJW FOX 8 sports anchor Tony Rizzo on WWGK/1540 “Cleveland’s ESPN Radio 1540” on Saturday. That, and the hastily-added streaming audio link worked fine for us…

And we say “first” with some confidence, judging by comments Rizzo made himself on the Saturday 10 AM-noon show dedicated to the Ohio State/Michigan showdown later that day.

Tony seemed eager to keep doing shows for the Good Karma Broadcasting sports station. He noted that he’d like to do a regular show – presumably in that Saturday morning time slot or somewhere on the weekends – but said he’d have to talk to management about it.

That management, by the way, wouldn’t be Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin, who would appear to be eager to say “yes” to Rizzo’s regular presence on his new ESPN Radio affiliate. It would be the local management of Rizzo’s primary employer, FOX 8.

As Tony put it himself on the air Saturday, WJW and FOX “basically own” his career, and they’d have to give the go-ahead for him to moonlight as a radio talk show host.

We’re assuming that no major hurdles will get in the way, and you’ll hear Tony Rizzo with a regular show on WWGK every weekend – if not starting next week, then “soon”, as Rizzo himself said at the end of his show.

We’re just speculating, though, as we have not had confirmation from either WWGK’s Mr. Karmazin or WJW’s Mr. Rizzo…