Month of Change

Welcome to January…a month of change in local radio and TV.

We’ve compiled this handy list of upcoming major events in local media, either announced or rumored, in no particular order…

WKNR CHANGES: OMW hears lots of rumblings out of a certain building on Broadview Road…the beginning of Good Karma Broadcasting’s overhaul of Cleveland sports talker WKNR/850 is imminent.

If we had to pull out a calendar date for this momentous event, we’d aim for sometime in the next two weeks. We’d guess next Monday, but the entire WKNR staff will be busy as all get out well into Tuesday – with the Ohio State Buckeyes’ appearance in the BCS Championship Game on Monday.

And to that end, we heard WKNR afternoon driver Kenny Roda on his own show this afternoon live from Arizona…it sounded like he’d basically quickly thrown the suitcases on the hotel bed and fired up whatever ‘KNR is using as a remote telephone codec – which sounded good, by the way…it’s probably a Vector or Hotline or similar.

The upcoming 24 hour broadcast from the site of the championship game is one of those things Salem would never have done…or paid for.

But new station owner Craig Karmazin is very savvy at lining up sponsors to pay for major events at his other sports talk stations. And what advertiser wouldn’t want to attach their name to Ohio’s most popular football team on the Cleveland outlet for the Buckeyes?

So, in effect, Mr. Karmazin has already made some changes.

But as far as “big” changes, we’re still hearing mixed signals on what might change ’round about – and we’re just guessing here – January 15th. Stations like to make major changes like this on a Monday, and January 8th is definitely out for the above mentioned reasons.

We’ll put up our earlier bet…expect WJW/8 “FOX 8” sports anchor Tony Rizzo somewhere on the new WKNR schedule, and we are led to believe that Mr. Roda is staying in afternoon drive – at least if you believe the rumblings going around the local radio community.

What happens beyond that, like what happens to WKNR mid-morning host and sports director Greg Brinda, or if the station goes local in morning drive, or even in evenings…remains to be seen. We also don’t know if these rumored changes happen this month, or just start this month.

But the liners recorded by former WKNR program director Michael Luczak?

If radio was still using carts, you would have a line of volunteers to start a bonfire in front of the station’s Broadview Road studios to get rid of them.

And just tonight, we heard the ID Luczak recorded to poke at then-new Good Karma outlet WWGK/1540 “Cleveland’s ESPN Radio 1540”, touting the station’s 50,000 watts of power – with WWGK’s 1,000 watt daytime output implied. Of course, WKNR is now under the same management…

BULL, STAR OR WHATEVER: We’ve already touched on it extensively below…the launch of Clear Channel’s new Canton FM outlet, WHOF/101.7 North Canton.

We haven’t had much more input on what might come out of the speakers on that frequency on Monday or Tuesday – well, at least if you’re south of the Ohio Turnpike or so.

But for whatever reason, the rumblings are heading back from a country “Bull” outlet to a soft AC aimed at undercutting NextMedia’s WHBC-FM/94.1.

“Mix 94.1” has made music changes we’ve noticed here…that put it more directly in the path of Clear Channel’s WKDD/98.1. That would presumably leave room for a softer AC lean out of the new 101.7.

One other change we hadn’t noted yet at WHBC-FM: The station has dropped ABC Radio news commentator Paul Harvey. We’re surprised they did not do so years ago…he’s been out of place on the station for years, and of course, still runs on sister AM outlet WHBC/1480.

We’re still not betting against “The Bull”, though. Maybe it’s even money between the two, with a small slice of action on a rhythmic top 40 outlet. This is just gut feeling, and not based on any information we’ve heard…

COLUMBUS TALK CHANGES: January 8th is the already-announced filp of liberal talk WTPG/1230 Columbus to a more general talk format with conservative hosts like WPGB/Pittsburgh-based “Quinn and Rose” and TRN’s Laura Ingraham, along with Premiere sports talker Jim Rome.

And on the same day, Clear Channel sister talk WTVN/610 will also move evening host Joel Riley into mid-mornings – displacing Premiere’s Glenn Beck, who apparently wasn’t tracking with his show moving to the more anemic 1230 signal.

And thus, we go back to the topic of 1230.

Like in other areas which are losing their liberal talk outlets, listeners/activists are petitioning to forestall the format change. The Columbus effort seems to be based at

(By the way, despite some E-Mails we’ve gotten, we’re a non-connected blog and have no part in trying to change or save radio formats. Please contact the folks at that website instead.)

Unlike liberal stronghold Madison WI, where a group there helped stop “92.1 The Mic” from becoming a FOX Sports Radio outlet, the prognosis is grim in Columbus for those who want the current format to stay.

OMW has received E-Mails – forwarded from listeners – from WTVN/WTPG program director Bruce Collins…and he nails it in his response to them: Not enough listeners, not enough revenue.

From here, it would appear that Jones Radio’s Stephanie Miller did pretty well on WTPG, and has a dedicated following – if smaller, compared to established conservative talkers. The show basically started on WTPG and one other station, and there’s always been a decent Columbus base for Steph.

But it may well be like the situation at Clear Channel’s WWRC/1260 Washington DC, another ailing liberal talker…where her show is basically the only one that gets measurable ratings.

Some of the advertisers on WTPG have, we’re told, ponied up for advertisements on the Internet stream of Ohio’s only remaining progressive talk outlet, WARF/1350 Akron “Radio Free Ohio”…

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