Random Thoughts

Nothing particularly significant:

THAT SLIMMED DOWN BROWNS COVERAGE: We’ve had several notes about our report on changes in coverage of the Cleveland Browns’ training camp, which we mentioned were inspired by current team local rightsholder WOIO/19 running amok during last year’s Browns camp.

The restrictions we mentioned – which include the prohibition on sets and props, and pre-approval of live shots – were clearly visible on “19 Action News” at 5 PM on Wednesday, the training camp’s opening day. So…were the tense relations between the local CBS affiliate and the region’s NFL team.

Instead of a live show broadcast and an opening from the camp, “Action News” buried the Browns training camp below a rather mundane “usual stuff” lineup of local news.

When they finally got to reporter/weekend sports anchor David Pingalore’s live shot, it was out in the middle of a practice field with no background…and had minor audio difficulty to boot. Pingalore’s taped piece featured what looked to mostly consist of “gang interviews” with Browns players, who were surrounded by a sea of cameras, talking into a host of microphones, and being interviewed by what would appear to be every other sports reporter in the city.

This may be a sample of what life will be like for WOIO at Berea now, even if they manage to hang onto the Browns local TV rights contract. The team is not exactly going to bend over backwards to give them access to players, coaches and the like…

GREATER SWAP: OMW hears people are still talking about the Great Frequency Swap of 2001 in Northeast Ohio, which sent a boatload of stations to different owners and formats.

We hear the swap could have been even “greater”, with a proposal five years ago for Clear Channel to buy Dix Communications country WQKT/104.5 Wooster and move it to the Akron market… likely coming into the market via a new license community of Barberton or similar.

Clear Channel then would have bought then-smooth jazz WBZW/107.7 Loudonville, already serving Wooster at that time, and given it to Dix to replace WQKT.

Dix suits reportedly declined to go through with the 2001 deal. One reason may have been negative feedback over the 107.7 signal – which covers Wooster and even much of Holmes County fine, but gets a little weaker the farther you go up Ohio 585.

And since Dix is based in Wooster, they may have worried about being too close to local fallout from the move in places like Smithville and Doylestown. Dix also owns the Wooster Daily Record, and a number of suburban papers around Akron.

Still, at the time there was, at the time, the prospect that WKDD would have flipped from 96.5 to…104.5.

And ironically, Clear Channel did eventually buy 107.7 in Loudonville. But instead a Wooster replacement for WQKT, 107.7 turned into the northern half of the “Kiss FM” simulcast out of the company’s Ashland/Mansfield Mid-Ohio cluster.

Today, the Loudonville-based signal is WXXF, a third of the “Fox Rock Network” trimulcast.

And of course, WQKT continues at 104.5 serving up country music, local news and sports out of Wooster…under the moniker “SportsCountry”. It’s not moving – today. But back in 2001, it could have…

METRO CUTS?: AllAccess tips this afternoon that “substantial layoffs” are in the works for the Westwood One and Metro Networks/Shadow Broadcast Services organizations nationwide. This comes in the wake of a reported 115 jobs being cut at WW1/Metro/Shadow sister operations at CBS Radio.

If the job cuts take the same form as the CBS layoffs, expect middle managers and sales managers to take the brunt.

UPDATE 7/27/06 5:50 PM: AllAccess reports 72 employees were laid off nationwide among the group, and reprints a memo from Westwood One president/CEO Peter Kosan. Sifting through the corporate speak, it appears that the Metro Networks cuts are aimed at trimming operating costs in markets below the top 60.

Cleveland is currently the 25th largest market, Cincinnati is 28th largest, and Columbus the 38th largest market in the country…

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