Friday, January 29, 2010

NEW THIS MORNING: Insight Moving WGN, EWTN in February, Public Access Goes Digital 3/16

We found out about part of this item last night while watching "WWE Superstars" on WGN America. (Yes, that's what the show is called, and yes it features...well, WWE Superstars.)

In a move we've not seen announced ANYWHERE in the local media, Insight is moving WGN America to Insight channel 5. That's right... from channel 24 to channel 5. Effective, we found out, not next Thursday as their program guide says, but apparently coming up on TUESDAY.

And another move coming next week (we assume also on Tuesday) will move Eternal Word Television Network, or EWTN, from channel 38 to channel 26.

Of course, that leaves channels 24 and 38 blank. No, Insight isn't planning to fill those two slots. And no, none of this affects the digital tier channel placement for both, as WGN stays on digital 115 and EWTN remains parked on digital 275.

Another move WAS reported this week in John Kiesewetter's blog, and involves two of the public access channels.

Specifically, Insight is taking channels 16 and 21 digital, moving them to the digital tier on March 16th. This will make room for nine more HD channels that are on the way: Fox Sports Ohio, Comedy Central, Spike, Golf, E! Entertianment, MSNBC, Hallmark, Cartoon Network and a new pay-per-view channel. We're not sure when those will be added, but we assume it'll be after March 16th. Insight plans to offer free equipment so that customers who use analog cable (about 25% of Insight customers) can continue to watch channels 16 and 21.

Our Take: Another kinda good, kinda bad move. Good in the sense that yes, this makes room for the nine HD channels. But... analog customers lose access to community access programming unless they get the upgraded equipment...

Friday, January 22, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Furman/WQRT Deal "Done"

We just received word that the deal we reported on earlier this week is "done".

John Kiesewetter of the Enquirer has just reported that Andy Furman, formerly of 700 WLW-AM/Cincinnati and WFTK-FM 96.5/Cincinnati, will return to the airwaves here starting Monday, February 8th on WQRT-AM 1160/Florence. That's the day after the Super Bowl. Furman will do 5-7 PM weeknights, as previously reported.

We checked out the schedule on WQRT, and it appears Furman would drop Dr. Laura down to a 1 hour clearance at 7 PM on weeknights, in addition to an early Sunday morning 2-5 AM clearance. We believe that's a "Best Of" program.

From what Kiese wrote, it sounds like Furman's show won't be exclusively about sports... but will mix in current events and some lifestyle issues, too.

Again, though...we come back to the issue we posted about the other day. In wintertime the show will only air for a short time. Sunset time in December is around 5:15 PM...which would provide at most a little over 15 minutes of Furman before the station's signal has to be powered down to its 900 watt nighttime authorization.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Air America Closing

We just got word of this one.

Air America Radio, which has been in financial trouble for some time, will end its live programming and file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Here's the statement directly from Air America, in full:


It is with the greatest regret, on behalf of our Board, that we must announce that Air America Media is ceasing its live programming operations as of this afternoon, and that the Company will file soon under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code to carry out an orderly winding-down of the business.

The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America's business. This past year has seen a "perfect storm" in the media industry generally. National and local advertising revenues have fallen drastically, causing many media companies nationwide to fold or seek bankruptcy protection. From large to small, recent bankruptcies like Citadel Broadcasting and closures like that of the industry's long-time trade publication Radio and Records have signaled that these are very difficult and rapidly changing times.

Those companies that remain are facing audience fragmentation as a result of new media technologies, are often saddled with crushing debt, and have generally found it difficult to obtain operating or investment capital from traditional sources of funding. In this climate, our painstaking search for new investors has come close several times right up into this week, but ultimately fell short of success.

With radio industry ad revenues down for 10 consecutive quarters, and reportedly off 21% in 2009, signs of improvement have consisted of hoping things will be less bad. And though Internet/new media revenues are projected to grow, our expanding online efforts face the same monetization and profitability challenges in the short term confronting the Web operations of most media companies

When Air America Radio launched in April, 2004 with already-known personalities like Al Franken and then-unknown future stars like Rachel Maddow, it was the only full-time progressive voice in the mainstream broadcast media world. At a critical time in our nation's history — when dissent on issues such as the Iraq war were often denounced as "un-American" — Air America and its talented team helped millions of Americans remember the importance of compelling discussion about the most pivotal events and decisions of our generation.

Through some 100 radio outlets nationwide, Air America helped build a new sense of purpose and determination among American progressives. With this revival, the progressive movement made major gains in the 2006 mid-term elections and, more recently, in the election of President Barack Obama and a strongly Democratic Congress.

Laws have changed for the better thanks to this revival.....but all the same our company cannot escape the laws of economics. So we intend a rapid, orderly closure over the next few days. All current employees will be paid through today, January 21. A severance package will be offered tomorrow to full-time current employees with more than six months of tenure.

We will strive to assist affiliates and partners in achieving a smooth transition. Starting at 6 pm EST today, we will provide our affiliates, listeners and users a selection of encore programming until 9 pm EST on Monday, January 25, at which time Air America programming will end.

We are proud that Air America's mission lives on through the words and actions of so many former radio hosts who are active today in progressive causes and media nationwide. In the years ahead, as we look back, we should all be proud of our passionate determination to assure that our nation's progressive voice would be heard loud and clear. Through the hard work and dedication of current staff, and those who preceded you, a lasting legacy was forged which will now continue through other voices and venues.

Thank you.


We're working on finding out which, if any, local area stations carry any programming from Air America.

If you know of any in our coverage area of Southern Ohio, Southeast Indiana and Northern Kentucky, e-mail us.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We just got up after a rough night on the personal front... and read Tom Taylor's Taylor on Radio-Info newsletter of this morning as is our custom.

And that's where we find breaking news this afternoon...Andy Furman will return to Cincinnati radio.

Taylor reports that WQRT-AM 1160/Florence owner John Yinger tells him it's a "done deal".

We caution: We're also reading John Kiesewetter's post this morning that says it's not quite a done deal. Kiese has been reporting, and Taylor confirms, that Furman will do 5-7 PM weekdays on the otherwise syndicated talker.

1160 suffers from needing to turn the power down at night, however, thanks to KSL-AM/ Salt Lake City, UT. (Not to mention being first-adjacent to two stations on 1170 AM (including Wheeling, WV's WWVA.) And in the winter, that could mean half or a little less than half of Furman's show would actually be heard over the air in much of the metro. At night... you can just about forget hearing the signal if you're north of the Interstate 275 loop... or anywhere west of Aurora, Indiana... unless you can get the perfect conditions to propagate the signal...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


We just received word of changes to WNKU 89.7 FM/Highland Heights.

They are advertising a move towards becoming a full time Adult Album Alternative station on February 1.

Here's part of the press release today, which you can also read here:

On February 1st, NPR’s All News Morning Edition makes way for MORNING
DRIVE, a music and news show hosted by WNKU News Director Craig Kopp.

“One of the reasons it’s such a pleasure to work at WNKU is I absolutely love the
music,” says Kopp, who is no stranger to music intensive formats having
previously worked as news director at WEBN. “To be able to get more involved
in delivering the best music in town and unique news and information is – in a
word – cool.”

To complete its move to full-time Triple A music programming, NPR’s “Fresh Air
will also be making way for more music in the evening between 5:30p and 6:30p.
“We realize this is a huge step for WNKU,” says Station Manager Chuck Miller.
“Music is what this station does best and it’s time to pull the trigger on making
WNKU a full-time music station.”

The presser goes on to note that WNKU was a pioneer in the Triple A (no, not the Automotive Association of America) format in the 1980s and 90s.

Our take: We're interested to see how it affects the people working on the news side of WNKU. People like Cheri Lawson, formerly of WMUB 88.5/Oxford, for example. We're willing to believe she'll provide stories for the new morning show.

We're pretty sure John Hingsbergen still communicates with Lawson...maybe he'll be able to tell us what will happen to her...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

NEW THIS WEEKEND: Francene Cucinello Dies At 43

BRIEF UPDATE 4:19 AM 1/18: We've heard that WHAS aired promos this weekend that indicate that the celebration of life service for Francene Cucinello will be aired live as it happens at 10 AM Monday on the 50,000 watt talker.

Also a quick correction: We're hearing that we might have been off on our estimation as to Cucinello's last appearance for WXIX-TV. The Enquirer and others are reporting her stint as a fill-in there ended in early 2009.

And one more note: Yes, we're quoted in Tom Taylor's "Taylor on Radio-Info" newsletter today. So, if you're reading from that link...welcome!

The rest of the original item is below...


We learned Friday night of the passing of a popular talk show host on the southwest edge of our coverage zone (and we tweeted it), but this is a more indepth post with a few thoughts...

Francene Cucinello, the host of the popular "Francene Show" on 840 WHAS-AM/Louisville, died on Friday afternoon around 3:15 PM Eastern Time. She was 43 years old.

The big details are located here on Fox WXIX-TV 19/Newport's website and here on the 84WHAS site. And that FOX 19 article is about where Cincinnati comes into the picture.

We weren't fully aware Friday evening, but Cucinello actually did fill in reporting and anchoring for... WXIX, in addition to her work in Louisville, usually traveling the 100 miles to Cincinnati after she did her show (and we wonder if occasionally she didn't host her show from the Clear Channel tower in Kenwood) during the week. We've seen her on air here, but never put two and two together.

Yours truly, unfortunately, didn't get to hear Francene's popular 9-noon program on his last visit a few weeks ago... and we say unfortunately because from all accounts, Cucinello did a fine job for WHAS.

Down in Louisville, we don't know what will fill the 9 AM to 12 noon time slot come Monday morning. We'd assume someone will fill at least part of the slot from the Possibility City.

We say part... because we know that a one hour public celebration of Cucinello's life is planned for Monday morning at 10 AM. It will be at the Southeast Christian Church, located at 920 Blankenbaker Road in Louisville. We wonder if WHAS-AM will cover it live, since Cucinello was primarily employed by them. And we think WXIX could send down some folks, also... we think that'd be a classy move.

Your Tri-State Media Watcher extends his condolences to Francene's family, friends and coworkers at both WXIX and WHAS...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thoughts on Kevin Robinson's Debut

We have a few thoughts about the debut of WLWT-TV 5's new chief meteorologist, Kevin Robinson, on air last night.

First off, we liked the fact that Robinson actually looks into the camera while he is talking. It made us feel like he wasn't ignoring who his true audience was...the people of Cincinnati. Our friend Mike Taylor noted this too.

Second, as we've seen on the weather channel...the man knows his weather. He was very articulate in explaining what was happening last night with the weather pattern and why temperatures warmed between the 6 PM and 11 PM news.

In fact - we have zero complaints about his performance. Our concern is with how WLWT will use him.

Basically, we're hoping they don't do the same thing they did with Derek Beasley in his last year at WLWT... putting Robinson on a split shift.

If we were channel 5 management...and we're not... we'd do whatever we had to to keep Robinson happy....

Monday, January 11, 2010

CONFIRMED: Abati To Weekends At 5

UPDATE 1/13/10: We can confirm that WLWT will, indeed, retain the services of John Bateman to do weekend evenings. We didn't think WLWT wanted to have Abati work what would basically be a 43 hour shift...

We've finally been able to confirm, partially, the last piece of the Power of 5 puzzle.

As our readers are aware, Kevin Robinson starts today at WLWT-TV 5/Cincinnati. He's training on Channel 5's technology, and we'd heard he'll start no later than the end of this week.

We now know what happens to Valerie Abati, who will end her evening work when Robinson debuts.

It was announced today that Abati will make the move to do weekend mornings (a slot Eric Green actually did this past weekend, in most likely his final appearances for Channel 5 - we noted his departure Friday). That begins this weekend. (The first link above also confirms what we'd heard.)

What this means for weekend evenings isn't clear. We wonder if WLWT will retain John Bateman to do those shifts, but would assume so for now.

We also know that Randi Rico will indeed stay in mornings, doing "News 5 Today" weekday newscasts.

So, except for weekend evenings, Channel 5's weather rotation is basically filled in. We'll find out about that last piece of things this week sometime...

Friday, January 8, 2010

THIS JUST IN: Green Headed Out The WLWT Door

We just received late breaking word that Eric Green is leaving WLWT-TV 5 and heading west.

Green becomes the new morning meteorologist for KOAT-TV 7 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A source which asked not to be identified tells us his last day will be January 13th (as in, Wednesday). We're not sure when Green will be allowed to work for KOAT.

Ah, but KOAT is a Hearst station...just like WLWT. So there may not be a non-compete involved here, with Green moving within the Hearst group.

Now, another piece that's falling into place still is Valerie Abati's place on the Power of 5 team. We're not sure if an official announcement has been made on that end of things yet. But we've heard a move is in the works for her. Again, we've not 100 percent confirmed it - so we won't post anything definite.

One thing that IS definite - WLWT's new chief meteorologist, Kevin Robinson, starts with WLWT on...Monday. Yes, THIS Monday. So, we're assuming he'll have some say on whether or not they'll replace Green and with who, or even re-hire John Bateman.

TSMW wishes Green the best of luck as he moves west...

Insight Adding Nine New HD Channels

We've gotten word that Insight plans to add 9 new HD channels to its lineup - but we're not sure when or where in the 900 level they'll be.

These are the channels as John Kiesewetter lists them:

Fox Sports Ohio
Golf Channel
E! Entertainment
Cartoon Network
A Pay-Per-View programming channel
Spike TV
Comedy Central

Again, no word when they'll be added on - but we're hearing that this will happen before the Reds season begins.

Our Take: This is good news. Some of This Space's favorite programs are on two or three of these channels. We'd like to see Insight return one of the local weather channels to the basic side (we're still stuck turning to one of the other TV's at the TSMW World Headquarters for those), but we're not holding our breath.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

WKRC-TV Digital Signal Upgraded

TSMW hears that WKRC-TV 12/Cincinnati engineers have done some work to upgrade their digital signal. We're not sure what that work entailed.

Viewers should rescan to find the upgraded signal...

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Major Shakeup at WKRC-TV

It seems to be a busy news day.

We briefly caught WKRC-TV 12's noon news today...and saw Kit Andrews doing the midday news which left us scratching our heads. Andrews, of course, has done evenings with Rob Braun for 19 years.

In an update just posted by John Kiesewetter, we get the answer. It's a big move.

Andrews will now be doing the noon, 4 PM, and 5:30 PM newscasts and will be paired with John Lomax at noon. (We assume Liz Bonis has been working on her health reports after 9 AM.)

Cammy Dierking, a longtime acquaintance of yours truly, will do 6 and 11 PM newscasts from now on, after doing the 10 PM CW Cincinnati newscast and evenings since 2005. (Cincinnati CW is "Local 12.2", out of the WKRC-TV Highland Avenue complex.)

And that means Dave Burchell will do the 10 PM solo.

Our take: This is a good move for Cammy, and okay for Kit. We watched Cammy on the morning show for most of the 13 years she was there (1992-2005) and found she never let the early morning wakeups get to her. Some people hold that against her (saying she was/is "too perky"). We have seen comments about her as being "not credible enough" for evenings. But we disagree with that, too... she's held her own.

However... and you knew this was coming... this move does break up the longtime duo of Rob and Kit. We'll see how viewers react over the next few months and in the February and May ratings books.

But from our standpoint, Kit has plenty of loyal fans who will make the move to watch her at noon, 4 and 5:30...

Broo Returns from Heart Attack

We just found out why Ken Broo didn't make the trip down to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl for WLWT-TV 5/Cincinnati.

John Kiesewetter reports that Broo had a heart attack on Christmas Eve and spent Christmas in the hospital. He came home on December 27 from Mercy Anderson, after having 3 stents put in.

Broo was back on "Sunday SportsTalk" (noon-3 PM, WLW-AM 700) with his WLWT co-worker George Vogel (who himself had 2 stents put in in 2008) yesterday, sounding great. We don't know if he'll return to WLWT today but would presume he will. If he does, we'll give our take.

But we had the same question Kiese did... will he still eat so much red meat from the concession stands at high school games like he has for his "Ken Eats Free" segments for a couple years on WLWT? Hmmmm... we probably would take it easy if it were us.

The Return Post

We've got one or two items to start your first full business week of 2010... one major followup to a story from last week, a new information piece, and one minor announcement...

Time Warner, Fox Resolve Dispute: The major cable service provider in TSMW-Land has inked a new deal with FOX parent News Corp, as of late Friday.

Details weren't announced, but channels that were affected included:

Fox Reality Channel
Speed Channel
Fox Soccer Channel
Fox Sports World Espanol

What it DIDN'T include, we found out Thursday evening, was WXIX-TV 19/Newport. That's a separate deal, not connected to the dispute.

In any case, this is good news for Time Warner subscribers. If you were worried about not being able to watch these need not fear now.

Bengals on NBC...Again...: ...against the Jets...again.

By virtue of the Bengals' 37-0 loss to the New York Jets Sunday night...and because the Jets locked up the 5th seed in the AFC...and because NBC has rights to both Saturday wild card games...the Bengals and Jets will replay each other Saturday afternoon at 4:30 PM (WLWT-TV 5/Cincinnati, WDTN-TV 2/Dayton, WAVE-TV 3/Louisville and WLEX-TV 18/Lexington).

NBC gained rights to the Saturday wild card games when ABC chose to not renew its deal for Monday Night Football in 2006.


ESPN bid on Monday Night Football games (and won). CBS and FOX both renewed their deals for AFC and NFC packages respectively. What was left was Sunday Night Football (which ESPN vacated in favor of the MNF package), and NBC grabbed it.

A Minor Announcement: While we're back and off our holiday hiatus, and are planning to be back on the blog full time for the entire first quarter of 2010...this is just a minor, follow up announcement/update on the minor spill that happened last week...just in case something happens.

A hospital visit on New Year's Eve revealed that while yours truly didn't break a bone, I may have some messed up ligaments in my right knee, directly (or indirectly) caused by my fall last week. If this proves to be the case...and surgery is required...we'll try to give notice before we go for that.

As always, you're quite welcome to follow the Tri-State Media Watch Twitter page (link is at right) if we don't update here... even if we're not on hiatus. A short-fuse situation might only give us time to update Twitter as opposed to This Space.

And, if you SHOULD want updates on yours truly's personal life (and we're not sure's mostly boring...), you can follow this twitter link.