T Dog’s Grab Bag: Ramonski Luv out at Soul 106.3

Ramonski LuvWBBM news woes continue; CBS criticized for Mentalist reruns to replace Letterman; former Chicago FM call letters find a new home

As first reported by Robert Feder Wednesday, Soul 106.3 (WSRB) evening radio personality Ramonski Luv was released by the station after only a few months on the air. Luv, whose real name is Ramon Wade, was paired with Joe Soto on WVAZ for years – first in afternoon drive and then evenings, but management dropped Wade from the show despite ranking at or near the top of the ratings. Soto continues in evenings at WVAZ.

Neither WSRB or Wade have commented on the decision to part ways, and no replacement has been named. This is the latest blow for the Crawford-owned outlet, whose sister station (Urban Contemporary WPWX /Power 92) recently lost two key personalities to rival WGCI. Crawford’s urban duopoly has struggled for years to compete against Clear Channel/iHeart’s duo of WGCI and WVAZ, mainly due to signal deficiencies plaguing both stations. The hiring of Wade was supposed to make Soul 106.3 a bigger player in urban radio, but unfortunately those plans never materialized.

CBS has been taking some criticism regarding the programming it chose to fill the 10:35 p.m. (CT) time slot between David Letterman’s retirement last Wednesday and the premiere of Stephen Colbert’s show on September 8. One of the critics is Doug Paul, a meteorologist for Buffalo CBS affiliate WIVB, who ripped the network on Facebook for the decision to air reruns of The Mentalist and other CBS procedurals in the time slot. While a lot of people agreed (though Buffalo News media critic Alan Pergament wasn’t one of them.) Paul asked why CBS didn’t start Colbert sooner or at least move The Late Late Show with James Corden up to Letterman’s old slot, at least temporarily. Paul believes Colbert’s September start pits him at a disadvantage with the more established Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.

CBS plans to air current-season repeats of the Mentalist, Hawaii Five-O, Elementary, and other procedural to keep the seat warm until Colbert premieres. Keep in mind CBS does not have the syndication rights to these shows – even to shows it produces –  and at least the procedural repeats draw decent ratings, albeit older-skewing. Plus, it makes no sense to launch a show during a low HUT-level time of the year, unless if its for the summer only. And yes, Colbert would be at a disadvantage at launch, but so was Kimmel when he started – remember, he was delayed until midnight in Chicago for an Oprah repeat and didn’t air in Atlanta or Orlando the first few years.

This isn’t the first time CBS has aired rerun programming in late-night: the network aired off-network drama reruns and movies under the banners The CBS Late Movie/CBS Late Night in the 1970’s and 1980’s. By 1985, CBS added fresh programming, including new episodes of ABC castoff TJ Hooker and Canadian imports Adderly and Night Heat. Nevertheless, the option wasn’t popular with affiliates, with stations such as then-CBS affiliate WITI in Milwaukee refusing to air the block completely.

CBS’ neglect of the daypart – including the failure of The Pat Sajak Show, made it much harder for David Letterman to win over stations who hadn’t aired CBS programming in late night in over 20 years. At least Stephen Colbert won’t have the same problem.

At least they’ll put the call letters to good use: Pittsburgh’s WPMY-TV quietly changed its call letters to WPNT, “22 The Point”. The Sinclair-owned My Network TV affiliate and sister station to Fox affiliate WPGH plans to add more local sports in the future, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Maria Sciullo. But before you salivate at the thought of some Penguins and Pirates games returning to local TV (both teams are seen exclusively on regional sports network Root Sports), let me squash those hopes: a station spokesperson said the new WPNT plans to air Wilkes-Barre Penguins games (the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins) and Friday night high-school football games.

It’s a similar strategy WCIU currently has for The U Too (Ch. 26.2), which airs Wolves AHL hockey games, high-school sports, and an ACC package. According to its Facebook page, WPNT plans to detail more changes to the station by September 1.

If the WPNT calls are familiar to Chicagoans, they were used on 100.3 FM from 1990-97- one of many calls and formats to occupy the station over the years. During the WPNT era, the station had an Hot AC format and was known as “The Point” until 1994. The station is now known as WSHE-FM.

The WPNT calls were also used on  a Pittsburgh FM station in the 1980’s.

Despite moving away from its My Network TV branding, WPNT plans to continue airing the programming service in prime-time, consisting entirely of off-network dramas, such as The Mentalist and The Walking Dead. The station signed on as WPTT in 1978, and during a period when station employee Eddie Edwards owned the station, was involved in a rather confusing time-brokered relationship with WPGH, which bought airtime on the station. By 1997, both consolidated their operations and would enter common ownership by 2000.  In the past, WPNT had been affiliated with HSN, UPN, and The WB.