The Week Ahead

As just about any determined radio/TV observer will tell you, format or programming changes in your home market usually happen when you’re out of town. That’s certainly true for OMW this week.

But just to bump up the list:

* Liberal talk WJMP/1520 Kent (Air America) makes approximately its 500th format change on Tuesday, trying to duplicate the stirring success 1350 had with Fox Sports Radio. OK, so maybe it wasn’t a stirring success. Even fewer people will have the chance to listen to FSR on 1520, of course, because its signal is roughly intended for Kent, Ravenna and Streetsboro. If you’re an Akron listener trying to pick up “WJMP Kent/Akron/Cleveland”, you need to pull away from power lines, get out of the Merriman Valley, and reorient your car or portable radio in the general direction of Kent. And then, hope there’s no thunderstorms in the region. And then, cross your fingers for luck. (Why anyone would do this to catch Van Earl Wright is beyond the scope of this blog.)

FM stations have long outpaced AM stations in billing and influence, with some notable exceptions… but this is ridiculous even for today’s market. WJMP’s horrid signal, which MediaCom apparently didn’t feel the need to improve when WINW/Canton went dark a while back (before it relaunched as gospel “Joy 1520”), means it became the founding member of the “Format of the Month Club” in Northeast Ohio. They’ve been sports before, they’ve been both oldies and country, they ran standards (twice), they’ve had syndicated talk, and they even once ran the audio of their low-power TV combo, WAOH-LP 29/W35AX. About the only thing they haven’t done is run a Spanish-language format, and that’s likely only because the area doesn’t have a large Hispanic population.

For those who are familiar with the Los Angeles market, WJMP is our local version of Saul Levine’s AMs down there…Levine owns a successful FM classical station, KMZT/105.1 (“K-Mozart”), and his AMs in Los Angeles and Tijuana/San Diego have gone through a similar procession of formats. Locally, with top-rated talker WNIR/100.1 driving the MediaCom bus, “Kaiser Bill” apparently likes to experiment with that 1KW “east suburban rimshot daytimer” in Portage County.

* As noted below, the WKYC-produced Akron/Canton newscast which formerly aired on WVPX “PAX 23” is moving to Time Warner Cable’s position 23, starting Monday. We only include this because we’re not in the market right now, and can’t get TWC anyway…and would like to see a tape of the first TWC “Akron/Canton News” broadcast on Monday, if someone’s up to recording it. Drop us a note…our E-Mail is linked to our profile…if you’re willing to send us a copy.

* We hear message board rumblings that another of our favorite obsessions, Beacon Broadcasting, may have already changed oldies WEXC/107.1 Greenville PA to a religious format. Any confirmation of this rumor is appreciated. The impending change is not a rumor… it is actually spelled out in the contract transferring Beacon to steel supply magnate Harold Glunt’s control…but we’re curious if it’s happening sooner rather than later.

We have it on pretty good authority that those behind the WEXC oldies format (“Wexy 107”) are trying to regroup elsewhere in the region, perhaps on another FM station or even an AM station.

To that end, OMW tipsters report that WEXC’s weekend oldies host Dr. Rock – known as Ron Leader when he takes off the “DR” supersuit – was heard Saturday not only on 107.1, but also on Beacon sister station WANR/1570 Warren and oddly enough, WLOA/1470 Farrell PA. That latter station on his list is rather interesting, since it’s long been a religious formatted station operated as “The Station of the Cross”, with programming provided by Mother Angelica’s EWTN. It’d mark the first time the frequency purveyed oldies since its days as WRQQ (“Smokin’ Oldies, The Rock”) in an automated local oldies format round about 1991.

It’d certainly be a format disruption for the station operated by the owners of WLOF(FM) Attica NY, in the Buffalo market…but perhaps Dr. Rock or the former WEXC oldies staff are brokering the time in anticipation of moving the oldies there at some point.

As always, we welcome any tips or news about other topics. We’re kind of obsessed with news/talk/sports radio and local TV (and badly run small market clusters), so that’s been most of our focus…but we welcome any information about other changes in Northeast Ohio.

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