John And Johnny

And about the only thing missing from our item in that department is “WKRP in Cincinnati”‘s Dr. Johnny Fever. But first…

UNWRAPPING DIGITAL TV: Those looking for new digital TV options have a couple of new presents on the over-air dial in the Cleveland market…and one, well, let’s just say we’re checking to see if pigs are flying over Portage County.

That is because (as we signaled earlier) a long-time low-power analog TV stalwart has appeared on area digital TV tuners.

2935LogoMedia-Com’s WAOH-LP/29 Akron, the Akron-licensed half of classic TV network “Retro TV”‘s local outlet, has taken to the digital airwaves at 29.1. (If WAOH is planning to add Retro sister/brother networks like “TuffTV” and “PBJ”, they’re not there yet.)

The digital side of WAOH is, well, what’d you expect…if you plugged an aging low-budget analog video/audio chain into a digital transmitter.

The picture is at times washed out and fuzzy, particularly with local content – one poorly lit “Son of Ghoul” skit in a car wash was pretty much a dark blob – and the audio levels vary widely from low to moderate.

Video quality of the Retro TV feed, and national infomercials, are a little better…though the occasional loss of video sync has made the transition to digital. (We haven’t seen how Akron radio/TV sports legend Steve French looks on his Monday night “Sportstalk” show, though we heard that he complained about the sound on the station’s cable feed.)

But the signal is strong enough in its target area, mainly the Akron area, and has been solid since that digital signal went on sometime last week.

As of this writing, there’s no sign of a digital signal on RF 16, the future home of WAOH’s Cleveland signal now known as analog W35AX/35…

AND THE OTHER PRESENT: …is only of interest to you if you speak Spanish.

UniMasIt had been long expected that Univision O&O WQHS/61 would land its sister network UniMas in Cleveland, and that’s what happened…it now appears on 61.2, the hole left when the company added English-language subchannels GetTV on 61.3, and Escape on 61.4.

What wasn’t expected was that UniMas (the network formerly known as TeleFutura) would appear in HD using the 1080i standard, identical to the main Univision network on 61.1.

We hear that Univision is doing this at its O&Os elsewhere – squeezing the two 1080i channels with one or more 480i subchannels.

We’ll see how this works out, say, during fast-moving portions of soccer telecasts…

VIRAL JOHN: It almost seemed like something that had to be done…in a world where viral video on the Internet is a big attention getter.

In the run-up to the highly scrutinized starting debut of Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called Manziel a “midget” during a radio appearance on iHeart talk WLW/700’s evening sports show with Lance McAllister.

Though Lewis pretty quickly apologized, someone at Dick Goddard Way got it in their head – why not send Northeast Ohio’s own most known, uh, little person, to Cincinnati to question Lewis during a press conference?

That’s exactly what “Lil’ John” Rinaldi did…mostly playing it straight, asking football questions while throwing in a couple of height-related asides.

We’re not sure if Lewis realized what was going on in front of him.

The assembled Cincinnati media certainly did, though they weren’t sure where Tribune Fox affiliate WJW/8’s “Fox 8 News” “got this” little person…some commented that they realized “he did some work for the station”.

Uh, yes, if you consider being a 40-plus year staple of the station’s entertainment programming, and co-host of Fox 8’s long-running “Big Chuck and Lil’ John” “doing some work for the station”.

As for “Johnny Football”, well, on this Monday after that game, we’re not sure he could have played better even if he were 7 feet tall…

JOHNNY KAY HAS PASSED AWAY: Youngstown market radio icon Johnny Kay has passed away at the age of 88.

johnnykayTo family, friends and others in his communities, he was Richard Kutan, active in his church and church functions.

But to legions of Mahoning Valley radio listeners, he was Johnny Kay, a beacon of music radio for decades. We’ll let his obituary tell a brief story:

In 1961, he came home to the Youngstown area, and began working as a disc jockey at WHOT. In 1980, he became the program director for WFMJ, and retired in 1987. Much to the delight of his fans, Johnny Kay reentered the workforce in 1993, and hosted programs on WHOT, WNIO, and WSOM radio stations. He also hosted “Who’s News in Austintown” on cable TV public access Channel 19 in Austintown.

Johnny was a legendary top 40 personality at then-WHOT/1330, and was program director at then-WFMJ/1390.

We started covering Johnny after he returned to the business, as a key voice of standards music at by-then-WNIO/1390…who later moved to WSOM/600 along with fellow Valley standards radio icon Dick Thompson.

Kay and Thompson both retired from WSOM in 2007, and the station – by then under Cumulus ownership – later adopted a talk format still heard today…

AND HEADING OUT: Congratulations to Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 videographer Dan Medsker, who’s retiring from 13th and Lakeside after 40 years on the job…


  1. My Univision Station (and sometimes considered the flagship) WLTV 23.1 in Miami also airs UniMas on WLTV 23.2, alongside with UniMas on WAMI 69.1 and in HD.

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