Some Other Topics, And Some Updates

Regular readers of OMW know that we kind of go in cycles…when certain news events swirl around, we swirl around with them.

So, with one update to a previous item, and another update to another previous item later, let’s start with a new update to…umm, a previous item…

WEWS IN HD, AND WOIO?: One of our regular sources at 3001 Euclid Avenue confirms further what we saw on Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS/5 a while back…the station is indeed readying for HDTV news.

Our source tells us you can expect to see Ted Henry, Lee Jordan, Leon Bibb, Danita Harris and the gang in HD “by late January”.

Not only that, the scuttlebutt is – and are you sitting down, folks? – that Raycom Media CBS/MyNetworkTV combo WOIO/19-WUAB/43’s “19 Action News” is also getting ready for an HDTV local news conversion. The rumor mill says that was actually also supposed to be done next month, but will be delayed…so WEWS would presumably beat WOIO to the HD punch.

Whenever “19 Action News” completes its HD control room, that will make Cleveland – as far as we know – the only television market in the country with all four of its local news operations in HD. (We forgot to check the sky around Reserve Square for airborne porcine creatures.)

Our source at WEWS expresses some skepticism about an HD helicopter in the air at any of the four local operations, though we have heard separate rumblings that at least two local stations were seen “kicking the tires” on such systems at trade shows.

And we also harken back to an article we reprinted from a trade publication a few months ago, where WJW/8’s engineering folks talked about a future expansion in HD production and news gathering at the FOX O&O down the road, including a “SkyFOX” retrofit for HD.

At least a part of the wait there was looking for a 720p camera that would work in the helicopter (720p is WJW’s HD format), and of course, the transmission system overhaul needed to be able to do HD “live” outside the studio.

WEWS, meanwhile, is the only local station able to run syndicated, recorded HD programming, such as “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” weeknights…

WHBC STUFF: Some of the rumored changes to WHBC/1480’s programming are about to come to fruition at the NextMedia oldies outlet in Canton.

OMW hears that the station plans to start carrying Westwood One’s “Jim Bohannon Show” in late nights in January, along with Sporting News Radio in evenings…to act as sports programming on nights the station is not carrying local or regional sports events (high school, Browns/Cavs/Indians, etc.).

The move will not displace staff, so we’re told, as overnighter John Allen will stick around to do various production duties.

We also hear the station is continuing to talk to talk radio syndicators looking for other talk programming, though as we’ve said repeatedly, there really is not much “out there” that hasn’t been locked up locally…either by Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron (which claims Canton rights to programming), or even talk/religious WCER/900 in Canton itself.

To that end, OMW would expect even existing on-air personalities to dial back on music more and more, and fill time with information instead of songs. It’s not that big of a stretch for a station that runs news updates four times per hour even outside of drive time.

By the way, Bohannon is actually making something of a return to WHBC. The station was, long ago, an affiliate of Mutual Radio’s “Larry King Show”, the overnight talk show that made today’s CNN host what he is today. Bohannon was King’s regular fill-in, so we’re sure he was heard quite often over the years on 1480…

And across the hall, we hear new WHBC-FM/94.1 program director Hunter Scott tried the microphone on for size doing a fill-in this week for the station’s Steve Rockford. And could his presence liven up the music mix on “Mix”?

COLUMBUS TALK PROTEST: A group of regular listeners to Clear Channel talk WTPG/1230 “Progressive 1230” is hoping to repeat recent liberal talk radio history.

They’ve launched a website hoping to get online signatures in support of the company keeping the station’s liberal talk lineup, instead of implementing the station’s announced change to a mix of conservative and sports talk as WYTS “Talk 1230, Your Talk Station” on January 8th.

The group is hoping to reap the same success as a series of efforts in Madison WI, where Clear Channel reversed its announced change of liberal talk WXXM/92.1 “The Mic” to sports talk a few days ago.

And we hear from some of those involved that they’re also encouraging advertisers to 1230 in Columbus to redirect some of their advertising money to the online stream of Ohio’s only remaining liberal talk outlet, Akron’s WARF/1350 “Radio Free Ohio”.

The site has audio of one group member, “Dave from Columbus”, calling Jones Radio’s Ed Schultz show on Wednesday, and Schultz’s own call to his guest-hosted show about the topic.

Dave’s also a regular caller to another WTPG staple about to lose its Columbus home – Jones’ Stephanie Miller show…where he identifies himself as “Dave from Columbus (Gahanna, actually)”.

The reference comes from the fact that 1230 in Columbus was one of Miller’s first two affiliates and her first large market affiliate, and many of the show’s callers in those early days were referring to their locations by Columbus-area suburbs and landmarks…

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