The Week’s Starting Menu

ONE FROM COLUMN A: A followup to our item about Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC/3 and its impending change to HDTV local news.

The station is now doing its newscasts from a temporary newsroom-based set, which looks to us like it’s roughly “just behind” where the station’s regular set would be. Here’s a screen shot from Sunday night’s “Channel 3 News at 11”:

If we remember the placement of the regular WKYC set, it’d be to the left of where Lydia Esparra, Scott Newell and Betsy Kling are sitting, and further back from the newsroom back wall. We don’t know if this means they just had to install HDTV cameras, or if they’re working on a brand new set.

UPDATE: We hear the change could come as soon as tonight’s 6 PM edition of “Channel 3 News”…

ONE FROM COLUMN B: An item from our long-time friend Scott Fybush and this week’s edition of NorthEast Radio Watch. Scott tells us that Cumulus Youngstown market rocker WWIZ/103.9 “Rock 104” is abandoning a move to change its community of license from Mercer PA to Hermitage PA, closer to the heart of the Youngstown market.

Why? Scott believes that it may have to do with something called “Rule 4” in FCC parlance. That basically means that Cumulus/Youngstown is already grandfathered to be allowed to own eight stations in the Youngstown market, and moving WWIZ would result in that arrangement having to be abandoned.

In addition to WWIZ, Cumulus owns top 40 WHOT/101.1, classic rock WYFM/102.9, AC WLLF/96.7, sports WBBW/1240, and news/talk WPIC/790 – all attributed on the company’s website to its Youngstown “Radio Center” on Simon Road. (We’re pretty sure WPIC, as a Mercer County-targeted station, still broadcasts from studios on Pine Hollow Road in Sharon.)

Then, of course, there’s country monster WQXK/105.1 and sister standards WSOM/600 listed in its “Canton Salem” office along with rock WRQK/106.9 in the Canton market. But, everyone on the list except for WRQK has main studios at the Youngstown complex. “K-105” holds down a sales desk or two in Canton.

All but WRQK can be tabbed to Cumulus/Youngstown, which makes the list more than would be allowed without the grandfathering clause.

An oddity when you go into the Youngstown market page for Cumulus (go here, then select Youngstown) – they also list “WBJT-FM 101.9”. Are we missing something, or did Cumulus ever have even LMA control of the station now coming out of that Stop 26 Riverbend bankruptcy proceeding? The current calls – WRBP – date back to Stop 26’s initial purchase of the station. And the above listed calls would presumably be a typo for the WBTJ calls 101.9 sported in its “Beat” Rhythmic Top 40 days…a format which eventually landed at Clear Channel’s “Kiss FM” (WAKZ/95.9 Sharpsville PA).

ONE FROM COLUMN C: A brief visit with Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Roger Brown’s Monday sports media column.

He enlists anonymous local media executives to speculate on former WKNR host Bruce Drennan’s chances of returning to the airwaves, after he’ll spend five months in prison for a tax evasion charge stemming from his illegal gambling. With answers from “I won’t bet on it” to “interesting thought, but he does carry baggage”, Brown gets a mixed reception.

But one media executive is already on board. In fact, according to Brown’s column, that area news director will have Drennan write a weekly website column from prison! It should be no surprise to any local media observer which outlet would do so…yep, you guessed it, WOIO/19-WUAB/43’s “19 Action News”.

The station has a history with “rehabilitative hires”…remember the trouble Chuck Galeti got into before he was brought aboard first to do fill-in reporting, then as main sports anchor? In that case, it worked out very well, as near as we can tell. And Drennan would certainly be a good fit at “Action News”, style-wise, if he eventually landed on the air after the prison term.

We have never been big fans, or even small fans, of Mr. “I LOVVVVVVE YA, CLEVELAND!”. Our last straw wasn’t the gambling thing, but Drennan singing show tunes on his old WKNR morning drive show. We always thought he was more schtick than substance.

But we have no problem with a “second chance” for him. Not at all. We heard him talk after his tax evasion case plea, via soundbites on one of his former employers, Cleveland Clear Channel talker WTAM/1100. And he said all the right things…he accepted guilt for what he did, and he didn’t try to sugarcoat it.

We do NOT expect him to return to the airwaves of Salem’s WKNR/850, for any number of reasons…both philosophical and programming wise, as they’ve basically moved on. But we wouldn’t be surprised for him to show up elsewhere, even in addition to “19 Action News”.

And in a “sign of the media times” item, Brown notes that WKNR sportscaster Neil Bender is not paid extra for his work on the FSN Ohio/WKNR simulcast “Cleveland Rants” Indians post-game show.

Well, that’s not a surprise to us…we’re also assuming that FSN Ohio’s Les Levine isn’t getting paid by WKNR for appearing on their airwaves as well… it’s the “you pay your guy, we’ll pay ours” dynamic that probably makes “Rants” even possible, considering the two employers involved. In the meantime, though Bender isn’t getting any TV coin, he is getting the ability to compile TV demo tapes…

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