Four Quick Hits

Hit 1: A while back, we noted the sale by Xavier University of Cincinnati-based pubcaster WVXU/91.7, and its far flung “X-Star” network of repeaters, to Cincinnati Public Radio’s WGUC/90.9. The move turned WVXU into a pretty standard NPR news/talk affiliate to complement WGUC’s classical music format. But it also left questions in our mind…if the new WVXU owners would hold onto repeater stations far outside Cincinnati, in particular some up in rural Michigan.

That question’s starting to be answered now, as WVXU is reportedly selling repeater WVXA/96.7 Rogers City MI and an associated translator at 95.3 in Mackinaw City MI, both far from the Queen City. The buyer is a company called WATZ Radio, Inc., and according to the AllAccess folks, it plans to convert 96.7 to a commercial station…while the translator’s donated for non-comm use. The move leaves WVXU with two Michigan outlets: WVXH/92.1 Harrison MI and WVXM/97.7 Manistee MI.

Hit 2: It always struck us that Clear Channel talk WIMA/1150 Lima was pretty well staffed for a small market CC talker, and that’s now changed. The station has dumped a local afternoon drive talk show hosted by Todd Walker, and says it’s letting 8 other staff members go. Most of the job carnage appears related to the station’s decision to stop regionally syndicating a number of weekend speciality shows. Walker remains with the CC/Lima cluster doing sports-related work. ABC talker Sean Hannity gets PM drive.

Hit 3: It’s not really news per se, but a note that former WXRK/92.3-based morning driver Shane “Rover” French’s show hasn’t completely forgotten Cleveland after moving its base to CBS Radio’s “Free FM” talker in Chicago. Show staffer Dieter apparently got the best of a number of “radio row” occupants at the Super Bowl site in Detroit last week…claiming to be Cleveland Browns tight end Aaron Shea. The ruse was bought hook, line and sinker by a number of stations, as “Shea” made a few controversial statements. There’s no word what the real Aaron Shea thinks of all this…

Hit 4: Cincinnati-based webcaster, the Internet successor of legendary alt-rock WOXY/97.7 Oxford, is running into an Internet economics lesson. The station is moving to a subscription-based model, charging $9.95 a month for access to broadband-quality streams. For now, at least, they’ll leave up a low-bandwidth feed for free. The WOXY folks note that they’d expect to be able to survive with advertising at some point… perhaps when Internet radio becomes more ubitquous on cell phones and in cars. But for now, the ad market is apparently not enough to support a fully free service.

As for WOXY’s old home, the 97.7/Oxford frequency is due for a move closer to Cincinnati…current owner First Broadcasting has planted adult hits “Max FM” on the station, along with two other Cincinnati rimshots.

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