Sunday, July 19, 2009

19 JUL 09: Wires Crossed

Check some national directories of radio stations, and you might be surprised by what you find for Columbus. For instance, Chuck Leonard has been listed in recent years as the News Director at WGSY-FM "Sunny 100." Most of the time, the news was directed a couple of miles via computer lines from a TV station.

That long relationship is over as of this past week, as the connections change for Columbus's top two TV stations and radio groups. WRBL announced Friday it's starting a media partnership with the Clear Channel stations -- and Jennifer Serda will replace Chuck Leonard on Sunny 100 Monday morning. This seems like a trade of cute one-liners for - well, someone who's cute.

WRBL also announced the Sunny 100 morning show with Ed Bostic and Jennifer Serda will have live streaming video. Well, at least one of these two knows how to put on makeup for a TV camera....

But the impact of this partnership will extend far beyond Sunny 100. WDAK "Newsradio 540" is also a Clear Channel station, so the source of much of its news will change to WRBL as well. Now you'll actually have to turn on the television to hear "News Leader 9 Morning."

WDAK and WTVM had a longtime media relationship, but it slowly eroded. WDAK stopped simulcasting the 5:00 p.m. TV news. And after Brian McClure moved to Tampa, WDAK stopped airing Bruce Lee's morning weather forecasts. I'm not sure why, since they seemed every bit as accurate as before....

In fact, this change of TV partnerships really could be trouble the next time severe weather breaks out. WDAK and WVRK "Rock 103" simulcast live weather updates from WTVM in recent months. Now they're aligned with a station which has no weekend newscasts. More people than ever will be praying for storm-free Sundays.

So what will Chuck Leonard do with his spare time in the mornings? We found the answer online Saturday night. He's joining David Lee's morning show at WIOL-FM -- which could mean "95.3 The Ride" now will have a backseat driver.

Twitter messages posted by the WTVM News Director confirm that station now has a media partnership with the PMB radio stations. That includes not only The Ride, but WRCG -- where simulcasting the TV newscasts actually might bring some listeners back.

The Twitter messages also indicate WTVM will replace WRBL on the Davis Broadcasting radio stations. I assume this means you'll hear Cheryl Renee in the morning on WFXE-FM "Foxie 105." After what Chuck Leonard reportedly said about Barack Obama last November, he might have a hard time getting past the Davis Broadcasting lobby.

The only commercial radio station in Columbus which seemed unaffected by all this is WBOJ "103.7 The Truth." The Christian station gets its morning news from WLTZ. But then I heard Lee McCard promise something new Monday morning - which could be a new media partner, or could be Catholic priest Thomas Weise leading the rosary.

This crossing of TV and radio paths is quite a switch -- but it's unclear to me who moved first to start all this. In terms of news coverage, PMB and Davis Broadcasting seem to be trading up. Clear Channel seems to be trading down. But given the recent staff cuts at Clear Channel, maybe we should be thankful WDAK still has a morning news reader at all.

But this "big switch" also is a reminder of a sad trend in Columbus radio. No station really has an in-house news department anymore, so they rely on television stations for their news. I'd call Dave Bender with GPB Radio an exception, but the salsa music next to his FM station keeps distracting me from hearing him.

We shouldn't overlook the local media outlet with no current partnerships at all. The Ledger-Enquirer has had arrangements with WTVM and WLTZ in recent years. But WRBL and the Opelika-Auburn News are owned by the same company -- and WLGA's only daily newscast seems to be "Access Hollywood."

Now for other quick notes from a splendid summer weekend....

+ Columbus Planning Director Rick Jones told WRBL the next Streetscape project will begin within 30 days. This work will be on Veterans Parkway between Eighth and 13th Streets - which makes me wonder if Ruth Ann's Restaurant has looked into any northside locations.

+ Opponents of the Obama administration held an "Instant Tea Party" downtown, opposing proposed health care reforms. So where are the demonstrations by people supporting these reforms? Are there parades in the hallways of The Medical Center?

+ The first orientation was held at the new Phenix City School "Freshman Academy." Our Phenix City snail-mail writer claims he was "astounded" by how much of the academy funds were spent on athletics. But repetitive weight training can teach valuable mathematics skills.

(Superintendent Larry DiChiara told WXTX "News at Ten" the new academy will "protect freshmen" as they transition into high school. Protect them?! Maybe a better answer is to have a police officer at Central High School, checking for sophomore bullies.)

+ Former Tuskegee University defensive back Terrance Stringer led a youth football camp at Smiths Station High School. Stringer was on the New York Jersey Giants' roster last season, but currently is a free agent. This is one strange way to make a resume tape -- by dominating receivers half your size.

+ Auburn University announced several football reserves were dismissed for violating team rules. If the Tommy Tuberville pictures aren't out of the lockers by now, it's simply too late.

+ Atlanta's baseball team retired the number of pitcher Greg Maddox. They never did this for Phil Niekro - but then, Maddox didn't have any knuckleballs bounce all the way to the backstop.

+ Instant Message to Tom Watson: I'm rooting for you at The British Open today. Because you're from the Kansas City area, like me. Because you're older than 50, like me. And because you don't look like you're 59.... uh, I'd better stop there.

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