Two Morning Updates

ROTH-LESS: As it turns out, Cleveland’s WNCX/98.5 did not have to fend for itself with the last-minute absence of CBS Radio syndicated morning pain, er, star David Lee Roth this morning.

Instead, CBS offered up a live show by “Elvis and JV”, the midday team at DLR flagship WFNY/92.3 “Free FM” in New York City. From their on-air banter, it would appear they may have showed up on many, if not all of DLR’s affiliates, though even they didn’t seem to be sure of that at first. The team was once known as “The Doghouse” in the San Francisco market.

Wither DLR? Elvis, or JV, or whoever, said they were filling in for Roth, and “that’s all”, a clear attempt to answer the rumors that Roth is not long for his morning radio gig. Later in the first hour, they alluded to “technical difficulties” with Roth’s remote out of Miami, where he’s been broadcasting this week.

We find that hard to believe. What, they can pull off two days from Miami, and day three becomes technically impossible late in the evening? CBS Radio didn’t have a backup plan? They can’t bring along, say, a Vector if the ISDN lines flake out? And they find out about the problem at roughly 8 or 9 PM ET the night before, knowing that it would prevent DLR from doing his show?

We’re not buying it. We don’t know if it’s a sign of The End of Diamond Dave on the Radio, though…we’re thinking he may well have called his program director in a state of non-radio-readiness last night. After all, he is a former rock star…

EASY TO CW: The folks at TV’s new CW Network have signed up a boatload of new affiliates in their move to fill out the new “fifth network’s” list of stations. The full list is here.

The list includes 30 new CW affiliates in all, and in Ohio, just one – the digital side of Block Communications’ WLIO/35 Lima, which is a primary NBC affiliate and will flip current WB100 sister cable channel “WBOH 3” to the new network, apparently adding it to WLIO’s DTV signal in the process.

The move leaves Greg Phipps’ WLQP-LP (“UPN 18”) to hook up with My Network TV, or go independent. We suspect he’s not too worried, as Phipps owns LPTVers carrying two other networks (CBS, FOX, etc.). Maybe he’ll call up ABC and make WLQP “ABC 18”?

North of Lima, Block also owns Toledo’s WT05 cable/satellite channel – a unit of its Buckeye Cablesystem there…a long-time WB affiliate which signed up with CW a ways back.

Still not resolved in the CW column in Ohio are the state’s second and third largest markets, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Columbus has primary UPN/secondary WB station WWHO/53 Chillicothe (“UPN Columbus”), which used to be owned by Viacom (pre-CBS split). That would have made it an automatic for The CW in the fall, but Viacom/CBS flipped WWHO to LIN TV before the CW announcement was made. That’s significant because LIN has been one of those owners questioning the CW’s reverse compensation model – where the station pays the network, instead of getting the network for free or even being paid for it.

Cincinnati has UPN affiliate WBQC-CA 38 (“UPN 38”), a low-power outlet owned by fiesty local owner Elliott Block – no relation to the Toledo-based Block Communications. Block has not exactly made friends at CW Network co-owner Time Warner, in his 10-plus year battle with the TWC Cincinnati cable system for carriage.

We’re going to make a prediction here. With these two UPN affiliates not on board, and no competition for CW in those two markets, the stations would both be seeming to balk at the compensation issues. That may be a larger factor for Block/WBQC, for example, than his contentious relationship with Time Warner. He’s been quoted recently as wondering if he’ll pay what CW is asking.

Our guess – CW is actively lining up either a DTV subchannel of an existing player, or a market-wide cable channel operated by the TWC cluster in each market.

Columbus’ DTV subchannel choices would certainly not include Sinclair’s WSYX/6 (ABC)-WTTE/28 (FOX), which isn’t doing business with CW anywhere…maybe they’ll hook up with Dispatch’s WBNS/10 (CBS) on a DTV subchannel if a cable channel isn’t in the cards.

In Cincinnati, we’ve already wondered if Clear Channel’s WKRC/12 (CBS) would mount a subchannel with CW, but that’s just because none of the other players seemed likely. And TWC has a healthy system there (the same one Elliott Block has been fighting), so they certainly could pull off a Cincinnati version of Rochester’s “WB16”, which even has a HD feed on TWC’s system there.

Either way, many of the CW affiliate announcements show that the network is clearly fine with going with a cable channel or a DTV subchannel, if the other option in the market is a financially strapped rimshot or LPTVer.

By the way, the announcement late Tuesday brings CW its first two Raycom Media outlets – in Syracuse and Colorado Springs. Raycom got aced out here in Northeast Ohio for the CW by WB affiliate WBNX/55…

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