Friday, April 01, 2011

1 APR 11: Unsettled Airwaves

Of all the times to need a day off from blogging! Our apologies to everyone who looked for a Thursday post, but were disappointed. Please blame it on the needs of Serious Spring Cleaning - NOT any threats by WTVM's staff or management.

I should also note right away that I realize what day of the year this is. But it's my long-standing policy NOT to post prank or fake news items. After all, I write for laughs here about 300 days a year. And the world has enough liars already, without my adding to the trouble once a year.

A lot of new visitors have stopped by since we broke the news of Kurt Schmitz's firing Monday night. And a few people have asked me for the "real scoop" (or words like that) about what happened at WTVM. Sorry, but I've posted practically all I know. So far, no one has dropped off Schmitz's personal items on my doorstep.

Indeed, Kurt Schmitz told the Ledger-Enquirer at mid-week he has yet to regain his personal belongings from the Storm Team 9 Weather Center. It's as if WTVM managers found a special "clicker" Schmitz could use to zap the station off the air.

Many people have been commenting on the departure of WTVM's Chief Meteorologist - and here's one more thought from our InBox:

Kurt Schmitz was by far the best weather man on any Columbus station..I hope the powers that be at Channel 9 realize what a huge fan base he has..No more Channel 9 news ,weather and sports for me..Kurt you are a good man !!

If the managers didn't know it before, they should know by now. I even found a WTVM Weather post on Facebook which became filled with comments by Kurt Schmitz supporters. Now all they need is a public commitment of support by President Obama....

But that's not the only media outlet to shake things up this week. PMB Broadcasting ditched "The Ride" at 106.9 FM, and replaced it with a harder rock sound which seems designed to compete with WVRK-FM "Rock 103." The website sounds like some people's short driveways - 1,069 rocks.

If this news seems a bit familiar, it should. One year ago today, we reported on WRCG and 106.9 FM switching from news-talk to oldies music. Time has proven the "True Oldies" channel to be a false positive....

The True Oldies turned into Boomer 95.3, in a heads-up trade with "The Ride." Now WRCG and 1069.FM have made their third format switch in 365 days - and they might as well keep playing "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club until they find something that works.

Some might call what's happened at WRCG and 106.9 FM evolutionary. It went from oldies rock-and-roll to "classic rock." It went from classic rock to "real rock." And before all that, WRCG rocked the local politicians with conservative talk shows.

But at this point, WRCG is NOT part of the switch to "real rock" It's off the air - but PMB Broadcasting manager Joseph Brannan told me Thursday night it's only temporary. He says parts are needed for the station antenna. And in AM radio these days, that's probably a bit like ordering parts for my 17-year-old car.

(I asked Brannan if WRCG was going the way of WIOL-AM 1580. The sports talk simulcast of 95.7 FM has been silent for about four months - as if it's been put on injured reserve until basketball season is over.)

Now let's get caught up on other news items from a fascinating week....

+ The Ledger-Enquirer tracked down the health problem of Columbus Councilor Judy Thomas. She was hospitalized with a heart condition - which is potential trouble in a city which still leans toward voting for Democrats.

+ Columbus Police reported someone stole $10,000 worth of copper from the Ledger-Enquirer building downtown. Isn't this amazing? The reporters have been so busy following police officers to find crimes that someone snuck in the back door.

+ A school bus caught fire while taking Hannan Academy students home for the afternoon. Hannan is a magnet school for "gifted and talented" students, so I'm a little surprised the children didn't create water on the spot to put the fire out.

+ The annual "drug-free" conference for sixth-grade students was held at the Columbus Trade Center. You could tell at a glance the pressure to behave was on this year. Not toward the children - toward McDonald's, which had a much smaller logo on the free T-shirts.

+ Phenix City school administrators showed off their new iPads for WXTX. Officials say they were purchased in part with local funds set aside for technology. But they'd better be careful - because Phenix City Councilors might decide to get even and ask the state legislature for another pay raise.

+ Winn-Dixie held a job fair for managers at one of its Columbus stores. So much for the speculation about Winn-Dixie possibly leaving the area. Job applicants are "Winn-ing" like Charlie Sheen.

+ The annual "Spring Fling" opened outside Columbus Civic Center. One promoted event this year is an appearance by "Statue Viva." Leaving a statue made of paper towels outside on rainy mornings had to be dangerous.

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths opened playoff action by handling Huntsville 4-2. Only 526 fans could watch at a practice rink in Huntsville. Wow - even the Columbus RedStixx topped that on a bad night.

+ The Columbus Sports Council announced the Peach Belt Conference baseball tournament will be played at Golden Park in mid-May. If it's good enough for this conference, why wasn't it good enough for the Columbus Woodbats last summer?

+ Alabama lost in the finals of the National Invitational Tournament. The Crimson Tide was whipped by Wichita State 66-57 - and after what happened to my alma mater Kansas in the NCAA tournament, the Jayhawks might want to stay on their own side of the Flint Hills for a while.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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