Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Done Deal: Willie To Stay at 700 WLW + WKRC-TV To Launch 2 More Newscasts

Two early Wednesday morning items as we pick up more debris, both from the storms that have hit over the last five days, and the biggest story of the last two weeks...

Willie Signs: We hinted at this one yesterday - but now we can confirm that the deal is signed, sealed, and delivered at WLW.

Clear Channel-Cincinnati released a statement saying Bill Cunningham has agreed to a long term deal to remain on the city's number one talk station.

For Cunningham's part, he'd already confirmed it to John Kiesewetter Monday, as we reported.

The entire release is below...

Bill Cunningham Re-Ups with “The Big One”

Popular 700WLW Personality Affirms Commitment to Cincinnati

Cincinnati, June 15, 2010 -- 700WLW Cincinnati – “The Big One” – today announced that legendary, two-time Marconi Award winning personality Bill “Willie” Cunningham has signed a long term agreement to remain on the station – and reaffirmed his commitment to the Queen City and its radio listeners.

“We are extremely pleased that Willie will remain part of the 700WLW team for many years to come,” said Chuck Fredrick, President and Market Manager - Clear Channel Cincinnati. “The Big One is one of America's great radio stations because of its personalities and Willie and 700WLW are synonymous. Our audience expects the very best – and 700WLW works relentlessly to exceed their expectations."

Commenting on his decision, Cunningham said, “Cincinnati is my home. The first air I breathed. The first milk I drank was from Cincinnati. Others may have come as carpet baggers to loot the Queen City and then move on. Willie will remain true.”

Cunningham is host of The Big One's market leading Noon-3pm show – which has been rated #1 in Midday's for over 10 years. Twice-honored with a Marconi Award for Radio Personality of the Year, Cunningham has made numerous appearances on Fox News Channel, CNN and other television shows. Cunningham's show is also featured on iHeartRadio on "Channel Willie."

700WLW – The Big One – is a leading radio station in the “Queen City” (Cincinnati) area, broadcasting a News/Talk format that is highly popular with its local community where it is the #1 radio station with listeners 12+. 700WLW has a long and storied history that extends back to the earliest days of radio broadcasting – when the station was owned by the Crosley Radio company. 700WLW was the first United States commercial 50 KW station and the only standard broadcast station to ever broadcast at a power of 500KW – truly a “clear channel” station.

Our Take: This is good news for WLW 700. While they no longer have to worry about filling THREE slots...they still must deal with the 9-noon slot (and it's thought that Scott Sloan has the best shot at that opportunity) and the 9 PM-midnight slot (if Sloan does take the above).

Assuming Matt Patrick is in the running (Ohio Media Watch says that his guest hosting gig next Saturday is ONLY on WLW, and will NOT be on WTAM 1100/Cleveland), it looks to us like he would likely end up in the latter slot.

Either way, it is a good thing for WLW. They'd probably be fine even if Cunningham had left - let's face it, it's a heritage station and has both the pro sports teams...

WKRC Launching News at 4:30: And in this case it's not just 4:30 AM or PM - it's BOTH.

The station announced the move on their website Tuesday. The 4:30 AM/4:30 PM newscasts will begin September 6th.

The 4:30 AM news will join WXIX-TV 19/Newport and WLWT-TV 5/Cincinnati as the third such newscast in town. But WKRC will have the distinction of having Cincinnati's ONLY 4:30 PM newscast, and thusly the only station in town to go two and a half hours instead of the traditional 90 minutes starting at 5:00 PM.

Our Take: This one is not really a bad move by WKRC. Think about it. Oprah will end her nationwide syndication next year, leaving WCPO-TV 9 with a HUGE hole in their schedule. And WCPO wasn't exactly strong at 4:00 PM against WKRC (which, we remind you, swept the TV news ratings...uh, sweeps) in May.

WKRC will have plenty of ads to sell during the 4:30 PM news... and can either dump "Millionaire" off the main channel (still leaving it on the sub-channel 12.2, where it airs at 1:30 PM M-F), or possibly shift it to late nights. (There's really nowhere else they CAN put it - unless they move "Inside Edition" to late nights, instead - an unlikely move, as they count on that to lead into "Entertainment Tonight".)

The bottom line is this: WKRC really can't lose much by expanding the 4 PM news. As for expanding to 4:30'll face some competition from both WXIX (the first in the city to have a newscast at 4:30 AM) and WLWT. But we don't expect the latter to be tough...if WKRC has any trouble with the 4:30 AM news, it'll be competing with WXIX - which beats 12.2's 10 PM news...and that could pose a problem for WKRC.

We'll have to see how everything shakes out with these new newscasts in September, and look at them more closely in November with that ratings book. But...we really don't expect a whole lot to change, except possibly the 4:30 AM news race...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cunningham Staying, Cincy's Newest LPFM To Finally Debut, and Severe Weather Coverage

As the Cincinnati area recovers from severe storms late Monday night (more on the coverage below), here's a couple cleanup items...

"Big Willie" To Stay at WLW: We got word late Monday afternoon from TSMW reader Harry Yeprem that WLW's last major midday anchor will be staying, after all.

Bill Cunningham talked to John Kiesewetter Monday, and confirmed that he's not going to Tribune's talk WGN-AM 720/Chicago to follow his former lead-in Mike McConnell.

Apparently, he was off air last week because he wouldn't commit to an extension. (We're also hearing he went to lunch with Tribune executive Sean Compton and McConnell, and was also punished for that - but, if that's true, it seems a bit of an extreme reaction. Just our opinion.)

And, we also hear that his "Big Willie" show will debut either June 28 or July 5 on 16 Tribune television stations, as well as WXIX-TV 19/Cincinnati, and run for the week. (We presume that the latter is simply Tribune's way to throw Cincinnati a bone, since they own nothing in the area.)

WVQC-LP To Finally Debut Soon: We found this on the Kiese Blog... and it looks like it's a "drop dead" date commitment.

WVQC-LP 95.7/Cincinnati will finally launch their FM signal, almost 1 year after it was supposed to happen, on July 2nd.

They got a $100,000 grant from the Ohio Valley Foundation a few months ago, and are now constructing their tower site on top of Essex Studios in Walnut Hills. From that organization's website, we found out that they're located on - what else - Essex Street between McMillan and Taft, just off Reading Road. (It's not far from Bonneville Broadcasting's Cincinnati studios at 2060 Reading.)

We're not clear on how that signal will get from Media Bridges to the tower, but some sort of STL link is needed at the distance they're going to have to cover. (No, in this case STL doesn't stand for the hated MLB team from St. Louis, Missouri - but Studio to Transmitter Link.)

You'll recall we were among the first to talk about their planned launch last August - but in today's economy, funding is not easy to come by. That grant from OVF was what they needed, and they got it.

Congratulations to Media Bridges' staff on bringing them just that much closer...

Severe Weather Coverage: And finally, for Cincinnatians at least, the major, blackish-looking elephant in the room.

By blackish, we mean the storm clouds that raked across the area late Monday night, leaving flooding, wind damage, structure fires (including the famous so-called "Touchdown Jesus" statue in Monroe in Butler County), and even a possible tornado in the Cincinnati city limits!

We were able to sample storm coverage from just about every Cincinnati TV station Monday night...and more so when a tornado warning covered the very heart of the city in a scary, nighttime scenario.

We thought that WKRC-TV 12 did a fairly decent job of covering the situation...getting out of the way when the tornado threat passed.

WLWT-TV 5's Kevin Robinson also had no-nonsense weather coverage; given that Chief Meteorologist Kevin Robinson worked for The Weather Channel before his move here, that didn't surprise us.

We can't say WCPO-TV 9's Cyndee O' Quinn did a bad job, either, really, covering for Steve Raleigh.

But...and we say this with some hesitation... WXIX-TV 19 could have done better once the tornado warning ended. Instead...well, you've heard the complaints from people before... the same information was repeated over and over again, especially when there wasn't anything new.

Granted, yes, we're fans of the shows WXIX took off the air late Monday night...and in hindsight, yes, the storms had the potential to turn tornadic again at any point after the warning was allowed to expire at 11 PM.

But... the rotation clearly had diminished, the National Weather Service didn't mention any more reports of rotation with the storms. At that point, if you've got nothing new to report, it's time to get out of the way, in our opinion. Quick cut-ins would suffice.

We realize Steve Horstmeyer is probably told to stay on the air whenever severe storms are in the metro area. So we're not pinning this on him. (Full disclosure: If you've read yours truly's personal thoughts blog, you know that Your Tri-State Media Watcher would occasionally work alongside Horstmeyer to deliver the 6:45, 7:15 and 7:45 AM news when the latter was on WKRC-TV 12 while 12 had their Fountain Square studio.)

But in the summer and especially here in the Ohio Valley, when it gets above 85 degrees with 70 degree dewpoints, thunderstorms can and do blow up and, occasionally, hold on through 11 PM. Horstmeyer knows this - he's been here for his entire life and has worked here for over 30 years. TV stations should know that when their meteorologists say to "get out of the way for now", that's when the non-stop coverage should end...

And Finally: One year ago, TSMW was tracking the launch of WQRT-AM 1160/Florence.

The station launched exactly one year ago today, branded as "Q1160" at first - but after station management discovered that "Q" had been servicemarked by crosstown WKRQ-FM 101.9, was quickly re-branded as "Real Talk 1160".

Since then, although still working with its almost-not-quite-across Hamilton County nighttime signal, WQRT has done its best to hang in there... and has even added local talk, with Andy Furman taking the PM drive slot in February 2010.

We'd like to see WQRT actually make it. Since it must protect the nighttime signals of KSL-AM 1160/Salt Lake City, KFAQ-AM 1170/Tulsa, and, closer to home, WWVA-AM 1170/Wheeling, WV, it can't exactly up the juice. And it'll always have WLW and WKRC-AM 550, along with other, out of market flamethrowers such as 840 WHAS/Louisville to contend with.

Still...the fact is, it's's given a home to a host who was once thought to be headed out of the area to continue doing talk radio...and it's probably not going anywhere for a good while.

Monday, June 14, 2010

CONFIRMED: Northeast Ohio Talker Taking WLW Airwaves June 26

TSMW has been looking all weekend for SOME information to confirm that an Akron-area morning show legend will be taking to Cincinnati airwaves later this month.

Nathan Obral wrote in a comment on our last item that Matt Patrick will be doing WLW's now-local slot on June 26th. (How long it'll stay local is anyone's guess.)

We're no longer looking - it's confirmed by Matt Patrick himself via a Facebook post. (We think this is where Mr. Obral got the info...)

On this post at the Matt Patrick Show Facebook Page, Patrick writes:

The "Queen City" gets to hear the "Joker" of Northeast Ohio..June 26th! We are live in Cincinnati on 700WLW beginning at noon! Mark it down!!

Patrick has a late-afternoon Saturday show on Ohio's "other" Big One, WTAM 1100/Cleveland. That show is normally heard Saturdays 1-4 PM when the Cleveland Indians don't play. (He got that slot, we presume, after previous lead-in James Traficant quit to run for Congress in the 17th District.)

Before that, Patrick had a very good career elsewhere in Ohio Media Watch territory, at WKDD 98.1/Munroe Falls, Ohio and WHLO-AM 640/Akron. In fact, towards the end of his tenure for Clear Channel Akron/Canton, Patrick was doing both shows back-to-back, sliding across to WHLO at 9AM to do that show. (Ironically, his old website for "The Matt Patrick Show on 640WHLO actually still exists here. We're not sure if it's frequently updated.

We're also not clear on whether this is an audition for Patrick, though that does seem to be the case. (WLW isn't carrying the last weeks of "The Weekend" Premiere syndicated show with now-former WLW talker Mike McConnell, remember.) It seems Scott Sloan is stepping into that role as well, for now anyway, at WLW.

Could Patrick be Cincinnati's next middayer? We suppose it's possible. We've never heard him, but again - he was not only part of WKDD, but he basically WAS WKDD for 30 years. That speaks volumes to how good he was in his role at WKDD.

The only problem is, Top 40 music and talk radio are two different things. Now, Patrick was fairly successful at WHLO, also. But...Akron/Canton is the number 76 market. Cleveland is 29th, with Cincinnati one step above that.

Now, we're not sure exactly what his WTAM show is doing, ratings wise. We're certain of this: Patrick is getting more exposure than if Traficant had stayed - whatever is in Patrick's old 4-7 PM slot isn't carried if the Indians have a Saturday night game.(No, we don't know what is in that slot... WTAM hasn't updated their website.)

Anyway: We really hope that, if nothing else, Patrick continues to do well with WTAM and his Saturday show there.

Once again, a tip of the hat to Nathan Obral for putting TSMW on the trail of this one... we sure couldn't find any info on WLW's site...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More McConnell Fallout - Premiere Dumps Former WLW Talker - Not Immediately, Though

Yes, on Day Four, the fallout from Mike McConnell's departure from WLW-AM 700 here for WGN-AM 720 in Chicago continues...and this time, it involves his "Weekend" program... is his for a few more weeks.

Tom Taylor reported early Wednesday morning that Premiere, which syndicated McConnell's Saturday talkfest from 12-3 PM on WLW and over 100 other stations, will dump the talker in just a few weeks' time. Apparently, the syndicator will return to the format they used until his arrival in 2004, with rotating guest hosts. And Taylor reports today (Thursday morning) that no, WLW will NOT be airing the final weeks of "The Weekend with Mike McConnell".

So, those of you in cities outside of Cincinnati where McConnell has aired will get to hear him for another few weeks. We're pretty sure when he left WLW, that meant his weekend syndication was gone here, too. (And, where will he even HOST the program if, and that's a huge IF, he's now persona non grata at Kenwood Tower? We're guessing he had a home studio set up, ready to go for just this situation.)

Meanwhile, we pick up with his departure, and this word in the Kiesewetter TV Blog Wednesday afternoon:

McConnell will be live in the WXIX-TV (Channel 19) studio in the 8 a.m. hour of “Fox 19 Morning News” tomorrow (Thursday) to chat with Sheila Gray. McConnell will “say goodbye to all his fans, and explain why he is leaving tomorrow. Shelia Gray called Mike, and he said he wanted to come on and do this live, since he could not on 700,” says Matt Miller, new Fox 19 news director.

Hmmmm. That alone seems interesting...given that WXIX just took over doing weather on WLW in April. WXIX is giving McConnell the opportunity that apparently wasn't given to him at WLW. By the way, TSMW heard via Twitter that that interview is tentatively scheduled for around 8:15 AM, give or take 5 minutes.

The question is, who is to blame for that decision? However, McConnell told Kiesewetter Tuesday that "I doubt it was a local decision" to pull him off air here.

So, for Cincinnati, that means his WXIX 19 appearance will be his last on Cincinnati television or radio. Outside of the area, you'll probably get to hear him for a couple more weeks, before he's officially out the door. (Excluding, of course, his new home in Chicago.)

We think that about wraps up the McConnell story for us FOR NOW. Of course, news broke Wednesday in this saga - and we're not ruling out more news coming from Day Four...but for now, that's about it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: The Other McConnell Shoe Drops

Yesterday, we wrote about Mike McConnell's departure from 700 WLW-AM/Cincinnati, and noted that the speculation had been that he was headed for Tribune's WGN-AM 720/Chicago.

"Speculation" has now become "confirmation" for the second time in the last 18 hours.

Tom Taylor at Radio-Info writes in his Taylor on Radio-Info newsletter (and in a news post here) this very morning that he got hold of a presser from Tribune late last night, confirming that McConnell WILL be headed to the Chicago flamethrower, starting August 9th. (It, like WLW-AM here, is a 50,000 watt signal that blasts across the eastern United States easily after dark.) His new airshift hasn't been announced by Tribune as of yet.

Unclear also is something that our friends at OMW happened to mention: McConnell's syndication weekend middays and its future. The closest market we definitively have information for is Rushville in west-central Illinois...closer to Quincy. (Any Chicagoans out you know if he's syndicated in the Windy City on weekends?) He very well COULD lose the entire program if Clear Channel makes that choice with Premiere being his syndicator.

We haven't gotten our hands on the official word from Tribune we're just now reading from the aforementioned Tom Taylor's newsletter ourselves this morning. When and if we do, we'll put it up here.

Chicago, as has been said, is a dream market for many talents wanting to hit the big cities... and that's certainly the case right here.

As we noted, McConnell has been with WLW since sometime in the mid-80's, around the time yours truly was born. (In fact, he joined the station IN 1985.) So he's been around as long as yours truly can remember. We can't recall a time when McConnell WASN'T on middays, let's put it that way.

Anyway, congratulations to Mr. McConnell on this next step in his career...he's a true professional in every sense of the's hoping Chicago provides him with a really good platform...

Monday, June 7, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: McConnell Out At "The Big One"

We'd speculated on this last week, but elected to wait before doing a longform post - and now the station itself confirms the speculation.

Mike McConnell, who has been part of the staff at 700 WLW-AM/Cincinnati first as a production director and then a midday host since roughly around when Your Tri-State Media Watcher was born in 1985, now leaves the latter position to head north to Chicago. 700 WLW confirmed the move today just before 5:00 PM in this news release (which you can also read here):

"The Big One" Turns A Page As Mike McConnell Moves North

700WLW Midday New/Talk Personality Seeks Greener Pastures in Chicago

Cincinnati, June 7, 2010 -- 700WLW Cincinnati - "The Big One" - today announced the departure of long-serving Midday News/Talk Personality Mike McConnell, who has elected to relocate to Chicago.
The move is effective immediately, and a search for a permanent replacement has been initiated.

"We'll miss Mike," said Chuck Fredrick, President and Market Manager - Clear Channel Cincinnati. "We've long known that Chicago has represented a 'dream market' for Mike - and we firmly believe everyone has the right to chase their dreams. We wish him all the best."

McConnell has served 700WLW Cincinnati since the mid 1980's, first as production director and later as a talk host. The station indicated that long term evening talk host Scott Sloan will fill in temporarily on the Midday broadcast while the search for a permanent replacement for Mr. McConnell is conducted.

The entire staff of 700WLW wants to take this opportunity to thank Mike for his years of service to The Big One and the Tri-State area. Few radio personalities are able to reach a community in a way Mike has and that will be missed. In life people start down new roads and begin new adventures all the time. We hope everyone joins us in wishing Mike all the best in this new beginning of his career.

Again, this had been speculated for over a week. We didn't post any more than a couple short tweets - because we didn't have our own sources at Kenwood Tower.

With this press release, the only thing still hanging out there from our tweets of last week is the future of Bill Cunningham, who is WLW's other daytime anchor in the Noon-3:00 PM slot. If he leaves, that's a huge hole in WLW's lineup.

As it is, we wonder if this will impact WLW's ratings. We don't expect it'll be much of one at this point, with the Reds still heard there and (for now) Cunningham still on "The Big One".

By the way: The other half of this speculation, as to McConnell's possible destination IN Chicago, is still not announced. The speculation did have McConnell heading to WGN 720 and Tribune Broadcasting - but that part is still unconfirmed, as Clear Channel obviously didn't announce that. If he IS headed to WGN radio, expect an announcement from Tribune sometime in the next month or so...