Sloppy WTAM

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  • Posted In: Cleveland


  • Participant
    #185952

    I forgot to mention Geraldo guilty as well as Triv for late news. My question is who is running the board and should be prompting these announcers to wrap things up? “Triv, you have 30 seconds, wrap it up”.

    There’s no need for it apparently. Geraldo has previous experience as a talk host at WABC, he should know what a show clock is. Apparently his producers don’t know how to enforce it, or just don’t care.

    I heard a few of the all news formats when I lived on the west coast. Portland had one around 1980, and Seattle during the 80’s, and I think even Spokane had one, much smaller pop than Cleveland metro. But all are 50KW as is WTAM. In fact Cleveland Metro still 3 million? If WTAM covered the whole of NE Ohio, which may be 4M+ people? … why not all news? I know the arguments above, but if all sports can work here on SEVERAL stations, plus WTAM – mostly sports.

    An all-news format is totally unsustainable for a market like Cleveland. You want to listen to a traffic report at 1:08AM on Wednesday morning or 11:38PM on a Saturday night when no traffic problems exist after 6pm on weeknights**? Pittsburgh is similar in size and KQV only remained in the format because the late billionaire Richard Scaliffe subsidized its’ operation for decades. The ratings never existed and once he left the picture, KQV shut down. (It’s going to be reactivated in a few months as a non-comm beautiful music station simulcast on a 88-92 non-comm FM.)

    The only credible attempt at all-news in this market came from WEOL/930 in the late 1990s, and they did a spoke-and-hub approach drawing heavily from AP All News Radio. And even then, they slowly phased it out for talk radio, Fox Sports programming, and local drive-time newsmagazines (which have a loose show clock themselves with the TOH/BOH newscasts having floating starts).

    KOMO remains all-news (save for a midday talk show) because it’s a brand extension of KOMO-TV, to the point that Sinclair didn’t discard of it when they bought out previous owner Fisher. Same with WBAL, it’s a brand extention of WBAL-TV, and one of two radio stations remaining in Hearst’s portfolio.

    WTAM is stuck with the format it has out of inertia. No other AM station has a non-directional signal that covers the entire metro. But it’s signal is a far, far cry from WLW or WJR, who both enjoy low dial positions. And as long as Rush is still alive or actively broadcasting (whichever comes first) they will have to carry his show, no matter what.

    ** Yes, I know WTAM runs hourly traffic reports during their TOH newscasts regardless of the time of the day, but they are usually pointless and unnecessary outside of drive time.

    Recorded in Ultra Stereo, the ultimately superior cousin to Normal Stereo!


    Participant
    #185956

    ** Yes, I know WTAM runs hourly traffic reports during their TOH newscasts regardless of the time of the day, but they are usually pointless and unnecessary outside of drive time.

    Those non-drive time traffic reports exist only to give plugs to the “(insert sponsor here) Traffic Center”.


    Participant
    #185957

    I have heard from broadcast engineers that WTAM’s tower ground system is “shot, and has been for decades”. That affects their coverage area.

    Have also heard “many” AMs, not just non-DA’s, those with multiple tower directional patterns have the same ineffective, broken ground systems.

    The insane cost of copper (that is what ground radials are made from) could be the reason to put off fixing bad ground systems.


    Participant
    #185958

    New York City has SEVEN news stations; two all-news, FIVE news/talk. Out of them only two are in the Top 10 of the ratings, 1010 WINS & WCBS 880. I generally listen to WCBS. Sure, WCBS is mostly a lot of local news but they do talk about national news and if something major is happening elsewhere in the nation they generally will pick up a live feed from that areas CBS affiliated TV or radio station. From what I gather WCBS is basically for the headlines with short stories about it and their sister station WINS goes more in depth on the stories. I’ve been able to pick up 1010 WINS every once in a while but their signal is so attenuated that’s it’s not worth trying to tune in. And since Entercom took over the CBS properties, it seems they repeat a lot of news stories over and over again and I’m pretty sure that for a couple of hours in the very early AM they’re playing a repeat of the earlier evenings broadcast because I have been listening and I noticed that they bobbled a couple of words or throw to the weather guy and he’s not there and, sure enough, later on I hear the same words bobbled, same missing weatherman throw ……you would think that if they’re live, they would have not bobbled the words again or miss the toss to the weatherman.


    Participant
    #185963

    I posted a lengthy reply around 1030 this morning, and it’s gone! Second time this happened to me lately. Not going to go thru all again, but I had many agreements, giving thanks for suggesting WHK and WBWC, so far WHK works. But my main point was even though, during the local programing, WTAM’s news does not start when the promise it … last few months I been using an Echo Dot to listen. I found out today by putting WTAM on an actual radio, and also on the Dot, the online feed is almost 2 minutes behind what goes over the AM airwaves. I’ve measured other stations online being maybe 10 seconds delayed, but 2 minutes? Another thing I noticed, WTAM tells you to say “Alexa, play WTAM Newsradio 1100 on iHeart Radio”. No longer works, even just saying “Alexa, play WTAM Newsradio 1100” would work. Now the thing that works last few days is “Alexa, play Newsradio 1100”. Mentioning WTAM will get “Hmm. I can’t find that”, and mention of iHeart will get “This station can not be played on Tune In Radio”. Hope this posts this time.

    It’s not just WTAM, ALL streaming audio is delayed by up to 2 minutes from their OTA sources.  This includes the streaming version of Sirius/XM versus the satellite fed version.  It must be the nature of broadband.
    Last year a band on Facebook used the internet delay to compile a “looped” recording of a song.  Tape-less overdubbing using just the delay from upload to playback.
    The last advantage of OTA terrestrial radio may be live sporting events where you want to be as close to real time as possible.

    Participant
    #185965

    I have heard from broadcast engineers that WTAM’s tower ground system is “shot, and has been for decades”. That affects their coverage area.

    Have also heard “many” AMs, not just non-DA’s, those with multiple tower directional patterns have the same ineffective, broken ground systems.

    The insane cost of copper (that is what ground radials are made from) could be the reason to put off fixing bad ground systems.

    The AM 1100 site wasn’t used for 20 years for AM transmission, it only returned to the Brecksville site after an ownership change separated it from WKYC (and NBC probably charged more for rent of that segmented Franklin than Mileti/Embrescia was willing to pay). No doubt it was cheaper but still a significant downgrade for the signal even back in the mid-70s.

    AM 1220 is precipitately worse now at night than they were in the mid-90s when it was still WKNR, and Indians fans groused over the weak nighttime pattern in the outer suburbs. It’s shocking how much some slight neglect can do to an AM station’s signal.

    The most recent groud system for a Cleveland AM station I know of is AM 850, which was a necessity when they upgraded to 50kW days and the whole site needed to be rebuilt (then-CE of WRMR Ted Alexander built it up in 1998). AM 1260 moved from Seven Hills (the old site is still listed as “WDOK Tower” on Google Maps!) to the current site in Brecksville before that. I don’t remember directly if AM 1420 had ground system maintenance when Radio Seaway owned it, or if the current WWGK site is a newish tower or the tower they’ve had since the 1980s.

    Recorded in Ultra Stereo, the ultimately superior cousin to Normal Stereo!


    Participant
    #185966

    I wasn’t advocating a 24/7 local news station.  When WERE tried it in the mid-70s, it was a national news feed with local cut-ins a couple times each hour.  And it was only all-news until about 6:00 pm or so when they switched to talk programs.   Perhaps something like that could be tried again.


    Participant
    #185970

    ** Yes, I know WTAM runs hourly traffic reports during their TOH newscasts regardless of the time of the day, but they are usually pointless and unnecessary outside of drive time.

    Those non-drive time traffic reports exist only to give plugs to the “(insert sponsor here) Traffic Center”.

    I can’t imagine those :10 billboard sponsorships or Elk & Elk naming rights making any real money to justify having traffic reports outside of drive time. It’s just a pointless speed bump before the actual newscast begins.

    It reminds me of when WERE once filled their unsold airtime with a straight-up relay of Bloomberg Radio in New York. Often New York traffic reports ran on WERE with no one to mask it in the overnight hours.

    Recorded in Ultra Stereo, the ultimately superior cousin to Normal Stereo!


    Participant
    #185971

    Believe it or not, of late, “sponsorship” plugs are being sold as stand-alone spots….not attached to a :30 or :60 after the traffic report or newscast….and not given away as “value added”.

    Some of this might’ve become popular with advertisers because of the incredibly long regular commercial/spotsets on most radio stations, and clients complaining that their regular 30s/or/60s are getting buried and not heard in all the spot clutter.


    Participant
    #185972

    As long as WTAM has an effective monopoly on general/political Talk in the core Cleveland metro, I wouldn’t expect any real changes.  There are plenty of Talk outlets in similarly sized metros that can still pull off News-intensive programs in both morning and afternoon drive; however, the bulk of them (e.g., WTMJ, KXL, KSL, KMOX, and KFBK) have benefited from TV co-ownership and/or have faced strong local competition (including from within the cluster).  Indeed, I would’ve included the previously mentioned WBAL in that list–except that it looks like its afternoons are now much more Talk-heavy.

    Even years ago–when I was thinking that more stations would try edging toward All-News–Cleveland wasn’t a place that I think it’d work.  (FWIW, some places that I did think could’ve pulled it off then–partly for the reasons mentioned above–included the Twin Cities, San Diego, and Denver, all of which are significantly larger.)  Today, I think the best that could be hoped for would be WCPN and/or WKSU bulking up on local coverage (I’m actually surprised that nobody has yet mentioned either of them here)–or a situation like what’s going on with Hampton Roads’ WXTG: a company that happens to own a few, smaller stations and local-news websites alike decides to pool those resources (along a major agreement with a local TV station and several network affiliations), in order to create a News-heavy format.  However, even then, the station is carrying some long-form Bloomberg programs; plus, Hampton Roads’ traffic may be worse than Northeast Ohio’s.

     


    Participant
    #185979

    As long as WTAM has an effective monopoly on general/political Talk in the core Cleveland metro, I wouldn’t expect any real changes. There are plenty of Talk outlets in similarly sized metros that can still pull off News-intensive programs in both morning and afternoon drive; however, the bulk of them (e.g., WTMJ, KXL, KSL, KMOX, and KFBK) have benefited from TV co-ownership and/or have faced strong local competition (including from within the cluster). Indeed, I would’ve included the previously mentioned WBAL in that list–except that it looks like its afternoons are now much more Talk-heavy. Even years ago–when I was thinking that more stations would try edging toward All-News–Cleveland wasn’t a place that I think it’d work. (FWIW, some places that I did think could’ve pulled it off then–partly for the reasons mentioned above–included the Twin Cities, San Diego, and Denver, all of which are significantly larger.) Today, I think the best that could be hoped for would be WCPN and/or WKSU bulking up on local coverage (I’m actually surprised that nobody has yet mentioned either of them here)–or a situation like what’s going on with Hampton Roads’ WXTG: a company that happens to own a few, smaller stations and local-news websites alike decides to pool those resources (along a major agreement with a local TV station and several network affiliations), in order to create a News-heavy format. However, even then, the station is carrying some long-form Bloomberg programs; plus, Hampton Roads’ traffic may be worse than Northeast Ohio’s.

    Quote Eric, WKSU will never go in that direction under it’s current leadership.

    Participant
    #185980

    I believe that WHK AM1420’s news purposely starts at one minute before the top of the hour on most occasions as I heard that they thought that starting it earlier then the exact top-of-the-hour would give them a potential competitive advantage.   At 6:00pm, I’ve heard only traffic as they go into a re-run of “Jay Sekulow-Live” which airs live at noon on 1220AM, “The Word”.


    Participant
    #185988

    I have heard from broadcast engineers that WTAM’s tower ground system is “shot, and has been for decades”. That affects their coverage area. Have also heard “many” AMs, not just non-DA’s, those with multiple tower directional patterns have the same ineffective, broken ground systems. The insane cost of copper (that is what ground radials are made from) could be the reason to put off fixing bad ground systems.

    The AM 1100 site wasn’t used for 20 years for AM transmission, it only returned to the Brecksville site after an ownership change separated it from WKYC (and NBC probably charged more for rent of that segmented Franklin than Mileti/Embrescia was willing to pay). No doubt it was cheaper but still a significant downgrade for the signal even back in the mid-70s. AM 1220 is precipitately worse now at night than they were in the mid-90s when it was still WKNR, and Indians fans groused over the weak nighttime pattern in the outer suburbs. It’s shocking how much some slight neglect can do to an AM station’s signal. The most recent groud system for a Cleveland AM station I know of is AM 850, which was a necessity when they upgraded to 50kW days and the whole site needed to be rebuilt (then-CE of WRMR Ted Alexander built it up in 1998). AM 1260 moved from Seven Hills (the old site is still listed as “WDOK Tower” on Google Maps!) to the current site in Brecksville before that. I don’t remember directly if AM 1420 had ground system maintenance when Radio Seaway owned it, or if the current WWGK site is a newish tower or the tower they’ve had since the 1980s.

    Re 1260: I was working for WRDZ when they moved the daytime site from Seven Hills to Brecksville.  The Brecksville site was already the nighttime pattern’s location. Before the move when pattern change time came we had to manually shut off Seven Hills and turn on Brecksville.  One evening the signal sounded like a shortwave broadcast from the other side of the planet.  I realized that one of my fellow board ops turned on the nighttime transmitter without shutting off the daytime transmitter 😮
    Since the nighttime transmitter was already located at Brecksville, the move out of Seven Hills did not necessarily mean a new ground system at that time.  There was a recent “upgrade” made to WCCR’s transmitter site that was billed as an improvement tho benefit the signal for years to come.  Perhaps that was an upgrade to the radials.

    Participant
    #185992

    Am pretty sure WTAM uses the tower on Snowville Road (just old old Route 21) near the Ohio Turnpike. The so-called “Carl Smith” tower. I don’t believe they own the tower, they just “rent” it. I assume they are still responsible for maintaining the ground system…but I don’t know that for sure. I think WZAK & WAKS is also on that tower, right? Didn’t there used to be a TV station’s antenna also on that tower decades ago?


    Participant
    #185996

    Am pretty sure WTAM uses the tower on Snowville Road (just old old Route 21) near the Ohio Turnpike. The so-called “Carl Smith” tower. I don’t believe they own the tower, they just “rent” it. I assume they are still responsible for maintaining the ground system…but I don’t know that for sure. I think WZAK & WAKS is also on that tower, right? Didn’t there used to be a TV station’s antenna also on that tower decades ago?

    iHeart sold all of their towers to Vertical Bridge for pennies on the dollar a few years ago. They may have never owned the “Carl Smith” tower (built by NBC for WTAM in 1937) but they sure wouldn’t now.

    The WTAM tower not only houses WAKS, but WZAK and probably still has the original mast for WBNX. Plus a ton of ham repeaters and masts, Scott Fybush once remarked that it was the most crowded tower for a class I-A AM signal he ever saw. The original transmitter building that became the Carl Smith offices housed studios for AM 1260 during the WRDZ and WMIH years, but it’s safe to say the whole building is mothballed now.

    Recorded in Ultra Stereo, the ultimately superior cousin to Normal Stereo!

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