The Media Notepad: MeTV FM’s Rick O’Dell to retire

Also: Timberwolves strike iHeartMedia deal; CBS affiliates decline Bears game in large numbers; Survivor names a tribe after an old media company

Longtime Chicago radio veteran Rick O’Dell is the latest media figure to announce his retirement, doing so on Facebook. His final day is October 4.

Currently the program director of MeTV FM (WRME-FM), O’Dell is best known for his longtime association with the former WNUA-FM  for twenty years from 1989 to 2009, when the then-Clear Channel Communications dropped the format. O’Dell was midday host and music director, later becoming program director. O’Dell shifted to WLFM (the same frequency where MeTV FM is now) who had a Smooth Jazz format until its end in 2012. Three years later, he landed at WRME as program director. He programs AccuRadio’s streaming channels and served as an professor in the School Of Media Arts at Columbia College downtown.

From O’Dell’s Facebook page:

“In the fall of 2015 I was hired by Neal Sabin and Norm Shapiro of Weigel Broadcasting to be the Program Director for their newest creation, 87.7FM MeTV FM Radio. As it turns out, the assignment came with plenty of excitement, surprises and triumphs over challenges, everything you’d want in a radio job. But the time has come for someone else to fly the plane–and take it to new heights. I recently gave Neal a retirement date — October 4, 2023, will be my final day at the station. I will always be grateful to Neal and Norm and Evan Fieldman for the opportunity and for the great friends I’ve made at Weigel these past eight years. And thanks to the listeners and advertisers who continue to support MeTVFM. We couldn’t have made it this far without you.”

How bad are the Bears? Even CBS affiliates want nothing to do with the team.

Acting on input from its stations in a very rare instance, CBS announced Thursday it was switching their scheduled NFL Sunday singleheader Denver Broncos-Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field to Buffalo Bills-Miami Dolphins according to, a Canadian-based website who publishes maps of where fans in the U.S. can watch their weekly regional contests for the NFL and MLB. Both Denver and Chicago are 0-3 and were each blown out in their respective games last week.

Among the twelve or so who switched include CBS-owned WWJ-TV in Detroit; WFRV in Green Bay; and KCCI Des Moines; among others. On Friday, they were joined by WISC Madison, Wis. and WKBT La Crosse, Wis.

Unfortunately for other cities – including Denver (KCNC) and Chicago (WBBM) of course, the game is still scheduled for Milwaukee’s WDJT; South Bend’s WSBT; KUTV Salt Lake City and all markets in Northern and Central Illinois.

It is very rare for affiliates to switch games from a potential dud to a more appealing one though it does happen – but not en masse.

Despite being the third-largest market in the country, Chicago’s teams haven’t been strong national draws for the last few years as they’ve floundered at the bottom of the standings. Recent examples include the Bulls being left off the league’s national schedule this season for the most part this upcoming season and the Blackhawks’ ABC games during the 2021-22 season were feeble ratings draws. However, adding hot rookie prospect Connor Bedard might help raise the team’s national profile this coming season.

In a new multimedia deal, the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, and iHeartMedia announced a new multiyear deal to stream games exclusively on the iHeartRadio app.

With the new pact, iHeart’s sports talk KFAN-FM Minneapolis returns as the new flagship station for the team after 12 years away at Entercom’s news/talk WCCO-AM. It also marks a return for the Lynx to local radio in four years.

“This is an exciting time for our organization as we launch a multi-faceted distribution partnership with one of the largest media platforms in the country,” said Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson. “Welcoming KFAN 100.3 as our new flagship radio station, creating a 24/7/365 Timberwolves streaming channel on iHeartRadio, and producing cross-promotional opportunities with the entire portfolio of local iHeartMedia stations, will strategically grow our Timberwolves and Lynx fanbase.”

But the catch is only select games would be heard on terrestrial radio as all 82 regular-season games and playoff contests are being made available on the iHeart Radio and Timberwolves apps. In addition, iHeartMedia is launching a new year-round, 24/7 Minnesota Timberwolves content channel centered around the team, but did not say if the channels would be free to the listener or available outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

The deal also cross-promotes them across all nine iHeartMedia radio stations in the Twin Cities, including KFAN and heritage Top 40 station KDWB-FM among others.

“The new broadcast partnership is the first of its kind in Minnesota sports,” said Greg Alexander, Market President of iHeartMedia. “With massive reach across the iHeartRadio platform and KFAN 100.3, we are thrilled to bring exclusive Timberwolves and Lynx basketball coverage to their loyal fan base.”

The move makes sense as the NBA has the youngest fan base of all four major sports and have long pivoted away from AM radio, who draws far older demos.

The Timberwolves entered the NBA in 1989, nearly thirty years after the Lakers left for Los Angeles and currently play at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. One of the most notable players in team history is Kevin Garnett, who made his claim to fame playing hoops at Farragut High School here in Chicago.

The team’s TV rights are currently held by Bally Sports North, whose future is up in the air.

Is Survivor becomes lazy with tribe names? In the 45th season of the long-running CBS show debuting last Wednesday, the three tribe names picked for the show are “Lulu”, “Reba” and “Belo”.

The first two are the names of well-known singers – one topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967 with To Sir With Love (and a 1981 comeback hit I Could Never Miss You More Than I Do), and country music star Reba McEntire, who starred in her own sitcom Reba, has a recurring role in Young Sheldon, and is currently sitting in one of those red swiveling chairs on rival reality competition show The Voice.

And the other?

Belo shares the name with a now-defunct media company called A.H. Belo. Based in Dallas, the company once owned the Dallas Morning News and ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, and traces its roots back to 1842. From 1926 onward, the company was named after Alfred Horatio Belo, who founded the Morning News in 1885 and fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Sixteen years after the war ended, Belo incorporated the Galveston Daily News. He died in 1901 in North Carolina.

Belo made its first TV purchase in Dallas in 1950, buying what would become WFAA and underwent a massive TV expansion in the 1980s and 1990s, buying KHOU Houston, KOTV Tulsa, and buying the Providence Journal Broadcasting chain, including crown jewels KING Seattle and KGW Portland, Oregon.

The company split its newspaper and television assets in 2007, with the latter assuming the “Belo Corporation” name until Gannett bought the chain in 2013 and spun off its television properties into a new company called Tegna in 2015.

The papers had the same name but retained the “A.H”. initials, later to be renamed DallasNews Corporation as the company felt honoring Belo as a Confederate colonel did not fit in today’s society – which makes you wonder if Survivor knew this fact before choosing the tribe name in the first place. CBS’ Survivor website has very little information about the show, other than the bios of the cast.

Well, at least they didn’t name the tribe Nexstar.

Further reading:

– Seven years after he was fired from PBS, Tavis Smiley is set to return to the air via WVON-AM Monday with a new syndicated radio show. It’s scheduled to air weeknights from 6-9 p.m. (Sun-Times)

– Suburban radio operator Alpha Media now 100 percent foreign-owned (Radio Insight)

– iHeartMedia’s Jingle Ball moves to ABC this December (Deadline)

– ABC-owned stations debut second part of Our America: Trouble on Tap (Next TV)


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