The Triv/Maxwell Swap

OMW missed hearing this, unfortunately, but the buzz is all over the place.

The other day, it seems that WTAM/1100 afternoon motormouth Mike Trivisonno, and WMMS/100.7 afternooner “Maxwell”, swapped places in the Clear Channel World Domination HQ in Independence. Triv took over the ‘MMS microphones for a while, noting how much better he sounded on FM, and Maxwell took a few in-house shots at Triv’s AM audience.

This “early April Fool’s Joke” may or may not have any more behind it than an easy way to kill some afternoon drive airtime.

Though there really are no facts to back it up, it’s been rumored in the past few months that Clear Channel was looking to turn one of its Cleveland FMs into a talk station. At least one version of the rumor had Trivisonno and company either moving their show to that FM station, or simulcasting it on FM along with their current home of The Big One.

Supposedly, as the story goes, Clear Channel is antsy that CBS Radio will make its own FM talk play in Cleveland, flipping one of the local stations to the “Free FM” format that’s spread in various other CBS markets…and would like to make the move first.

OMW has no authoritative sources that would support any of this speculation, but it’s been out there for a few months now. Remember, at least one trade publication was SURE that CBS/then-Infinity was going to flip one of its Cleveland FMs to the variety hits format (“JACK FM”), and soon. That was some time ago.

At some point, maybe long down the road, we imagine Clear Channel, CBS or both will put some spoken word format on FM. It’s a trend for both of them – with Clear Channel putting up FM talk stations in Pittsburgh and most recently, Minneapolis.

But there are any number of perceived obstacles for it to happen now. The mere presence of 50,000 watt blowtorch WTAM is one reason Clear Channel didn’t try to duplicate their success with WPGB/104.7 here…they didn’t need to. It’s telling that the “Clear Channel talk rumors” being kicked around lately mention a possible competitive threat as being the reason for the proposed change.

As for CBS, they just retooled “Rover’s Morning Glory” former flagship alt-rock WXRK/92.3 Cleveland Heights. Rover’s done well there for them. WDOK/102.1 certainly isn’t going anywhere (you don’t really take torches to money machines), and WQAL/104.1 just got the services of veteran AC programmer Dave Popovich.

(SUNDAY UPDATE: We’ve been reminded by several folks that Popovich actually programmed the old 3WE – aka talker WTAM/1100 in its days as WWWE – for roughly a year or so in the early 90’s. We’ll modify our statement to say he has no lengthy talk radio programming experience on his resume…to make our point that you don’t bring in a big AC name like Dave Popovich for a talk format conversion.)

Does that leave WNCX/98.5? Who knows. Morning man David Lee Roth anchors a number of other CBS “Free FM” talk stations, but one wonders if HE could be the biggest problem for WNCX, and not the classic rock format that follows him.

We can’t find the article now, but we believe Cleveland radio gadfly John Gorman – a noted former WMMS program director – mentioned these rumors in a recent column in the Cleveland Free Times. In our searching, we were reminded that like us, Gorman was also biting on the long-ago rumors of Salem sports WKNR/850 Cleveland flipping formats, and then-rumored changes at WMJI/105.7 and WMVX/106.5 in the Clear Channel Cleveland cluster. Grain of salt, meet John Gorman (and OMW, for that matter).

So, this is all speculation, of course. None of this is supported by hard fact, which we always try to make clear. But the noise was getting too loud to ignore, and the little Triv/Maxwell swap – along with what would sound like an over-air hint by Triv in his time on WMMS – makes one wonder.

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