Weird: Lexington Company Just Bought WBKI

Some Lexington company, LM Communications, just bought WBKI.

Remember that station and how it failed like 85 times because jesus?

They sent out a fancy Word doc (that is still a thing? the new owner sent it from an AOL address) about it:

“I am very excited to purchase my first television station,” said Martin, “and especially happy that my first acquisition serves the largest city here in my home state. I believe WBKI has tremendous unrealized potential and I plan to explore and utilize all opportunities available to me to elevate WBKI into a much stronger TV station that it’s traditionally been.

“Being a local Kentucky owner will be one of my greatest assets in the effort to grow the station’s share of viewers in the Louisville market. For the first time, critical decisions regarding policy and operations at WBKI will be made locally on a daily basis, and I believe that gives my company an advantage that previous owners have never enjoyed.”

This should be… oh, wait, no one even remembers that station.

Back to your reg-luhly scheduled afternoon of taking secret sips of bourbon while eating Crunch n Munch.

My, How WBKI Has Completely Fallen Apart

Remember when we promptly hauled ass away from WBKI/CW Louisville a few years ago? And how I always refused to waste my time dealing with the buttcramps sinking that station?

It wasn’t just because the joint was turning into a hot damn mess. It was because the new folks taking over were running it into the ground, as we told you at the time. It was truly eye-roll-worthy.

But here’s this:

Things are about to get interesting for Louisville’s CW affiliate.

WBKI-TV recently defaulted on loans and “other financial accommodations” provided by Iowa-based Valley Bank, and now Valley wants its money. To that end, the bank – which holds secured liens on basically all of the station’s assets – will sell those assets in a public sale on Apr. 6.

-SNIP-

When the WB network folded in 2006, WBKI joined the new CW network. The station’s former owner, Cascade Broadcasting, went bankrupt in 2008, and the station was purchased by Fusion Communications of Davenport, Iowa the next year.

It’s Fusion, which does business in Louisville as Louisville TV Group, LLC and Louisville TV Licenses, LLC, that has defaulted on the loans from Valley Bank.

About that. The Fusion Group, which bought WBKI and then promptly transferred it elsewhere, also ran their Idaho and Wyoming stations into the ground.

Seems the religious extremists bungled everything. Just like everybody predicted.

We hear the broker who handled the sale of WBKI over its last few transactions bought it. If that’s the case, he’s at least got sense enough to know how to run a station properly.

Remembering The Big Stories From The Past Year

2010’s been a crazy year here at The ‘Ville Voice & Page One. Thought it’d be a good idea to take a look back at the most-read stories of from the past 12 months.

  • Dear John Boel: Please Let Us Get You Help & John Boel Is Finally Out At WLKY [November 8 & November 10]
  • John Belski Out At WAVE3, Too [August 18]
  • Real Story Behind The Mint Jubilee Mess [February 17]
  • Bobby Jack Gone from WAMZ Radio [October 2]
  • UofL: Land Of The Appearance Of Impropriety [October 25]
  • My Beloved Francene Cucinello [January 15]
  • Local TeeVee News People Rumor Fun [March 19]
  • The Entire Metro Government Audit Is Here [March 24]
  • Garson & Ivory Sink To Nasty New Low [October 28]
  • Dan Spangler Sues Station for Discrimination [January 21]

An honorable mention for what sparked a year of begging from local shoppers: ear X-tacy Faces Closure, Owner Speaks Out [February 9]

Thank you for sticking with us for so long – particularly to those who disagree with us most but still continue to read and contribute. I (Jake) don’t get too personal here on a regular basis, but… much love to you.

Hope you and yours have a happy new year!

Veteran TV Guy Craig Hoffman Out At WBKI

News came nearly a year ago that former WBKI host and VP Dan Spangler was suing the station for discrimination.

I hear there’s something in the works on that front but no one wants to talk on-the-record about it.

Now, via the WBKI website, we learn that Craig Hoffman (many remember him from his days at WAVE3 and, uh, I’ll leave it at that so I don’t have to delve into gossip territory) has been put out to pasture (thanks to his “resignation” a few weeks ago):

WBKI-TV thanks veteran news anchor Craig Hoffman for his many years of service and his numerous contributions to the station and wish him well in his future ventures.

Rumors have been swirling for months and months that Hoffman was allegedly involved in the Spangler mess and that he’d been butting heads with the station’s new right-wing ownership. His departure from the station did not, as some have suggested, come as a shock to the station.

So what gives?

Dan Spangler Sues Station for Discrimination

Remember Dan Spangler, former host of Louisville Live on WBKI? (We were a part of that fancy teevee program for a while – Julie Smith of Southern Belles fame is now the host)

Spangler was oddly canned from the station in June after helping to lead the station through a number of successes. Then the station’s new management/ownership severed ties with anyone remotely critical of them.

That was months ago.

I discovered this morning that Spangler is suing Louisville TV Group and Fusion Communications, his now-former bosses. And thanks to a tipster, I just got my hands on the court documents in which Spangler makes some pretty alarming allegations, so let’s dig in to the juicy, juicy…

13. Naturally, when Fusion purchased WBKI, Mr. Spangler wanted an assurance that he would be kept with the station he had been involved with for over ten years. During the negotiations of Fusion’s purchase of the station from Cascade Broadcasting, David McAnally, President of Fusion, assured the then CEO of Cascade Broadcasting, Carol LaFever, that there would be no need to include a mandatory carry-forward agreement for Mr. Spangler in the purchase agreement because Mr. McAnally and Fusion loved Mr. Spangler’s work and intended to keep him at the station into the future. In fact, Mr. McAnally indicated to Ms. LaFever that Fusion wanted Mr. Spangler to eventually become the Marketing Director of all of the Fusion-owned stations.

14. The assurances of job security made by Mr. McAnally and Fusion were related to Mr. Spangler and Mr. Spangler relied upon these assurances and remained at the station after the purchase by Fusion.

15. After Fusion took over the station, Mr. Spanger assumed the role of Station Manager, in addition to continuing hosting duties on the local morning show, Louisville Life This Morning. As in the past, Mr. Spanger excelled at this duties.

16. Shortly after Fusion took over the station it became clear that Mr. McAnally and Jeff Lyle, a managing partner of FUsion and Louisville TV, became intensely interesting in Mr. Spangler’s religion.

17. In early May 2009, Mr. Spangler was riding back from lunch with Terry Glaser, WBKI’s General Sales Manager, and Jeff Lyle. During the car ride Mr. Lyle asked Mr. Spangler and Mr. Glaser, point blank, what their religions were. Mr. Spangler, naturally, was shocked that one of his bosses would ask such an intensely personal and prying question. There was a long pause after Mr. Lyle asked the question, to which Mr. Spangler responded that he was a “non-practicing catholic.”

18. Only minutes before this question, during the same car ride, Mr. Spangler had related a anecdote to Mr. Glaser and Mr. Lyle about his first day on a job he once had in New Orleans. Mr. Spangler had explained that despite living across the street from his new place of work he was almost late to his first day of work due to slow service at a nearby restaurant. Mr. Lyle responded to the story by saying that it sounded like the water was on “CPT.” There was a pause and Mr. Lyle went on to say that “CPT” stood for “colored people time.” During his story Mr. Spangler had never mentioned the race of his server. Apparently, Mr. Lyle had assumed that the slow service Mr. Spangler experienced was due to an African-American waiter and used the offensive racial slur “colored people time” to explain his opinion of why the service was slow.

Something tells me you’re going to want to read the rest of these excerpts after the jump…

Read moreDan Spangler Sues Station for Discrimination

If a Station Went Off The Air and Nobody Was Watching…

We heard a funny story this morning.

The “big” storm that hit the East End last night apparently did some damage to the signal emanating from WBKI, the CW station. Around 7:30 last night, viewers were treated to dead air instead of TMZ. A message came on the screen from Insight saying, “One moment please. The channel will be available shortly.”

That’s the standard message provided on all stations when cable service is down. But last night, all the other stations were working.

According to our sources, the message remained on the screen all night. The problem wasn’t discovered by station personnel until they started arriving at work early this morning. We’re not sure when the station came back on, but it was back by the time the morning show came on at 10.

Did anybody else see this? Did anyone notice?

UPDATE: Based on reports from our sources, the outage must have only affected select geographic areas, especially the East End of Louisville. We’re still looking into it.

Dave and Freak Shows Canceled on CW

The local sports programming airing on WBKI-TV, the CW affiliate here, has been canceled. The last show of “Dave and Sports” with Dave Ragone aired this morning.

Dugan Ryan, the executive producer of the program, will host the final edition of what’s been known as “The Freak Show” tonight. Even though former host John Renshaw left the show in May, the 11:30 p.m. program has been airing with the same name with guest hosts.

There are no plans to continue the sports talk show lineup, which originated on radio more than tw0 years ago and moved to TV early this year.

“I think the market is underserved for sports talk,” said Ryan. “I’d like to find a way to get us back on the air.”

WBKI-TV will air a nationally-syndicated show, The Daily Buzz, for two hours daily beginning Monday at 7 a.m.  It will also debut the CW World Report at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

We’re Splitting with CW

The new owners of CW affiliate WBKI-TV, Iowa-based Fusion Communications, fired station manager and Louisville Live morning host Dan Spangler on Tuesday. Yesterday, they notified us, through Craig Hoffman, that they no longer want a ‘Ville Voice/Page One segment on the morning show.

Hoffman gave no specific reason for the change, mumbling something about the way new management always makes changes, that they’re adding some things and taking away some things, that it was nothing personal. That’s not exactly true.

Did it have anything to do with what we’ve been writing about changes at the station, I asked. Of course not, he said. I asked if it wasn’t because the new owners, who are publicity-shy and have refused requests for an interview, were bothered that we wrote about the upcoming cancellation of the morning and late-night locally-produced sports programs?

Maybe it was our affection for Spangler, the dispatched morning show host with whom we’ve been doing our on-air shtick for 15 months, never missing a single week.

The real reason may have been the way we criticized the new on-air talent, Adele Guarino-Sanders, who has been doing segments on the show this week. She has no TV experience, is awful on camera and when Googled brings up a trail of court cases in which she’s the defendant.

On Wednesday, Hoffman called to make sure that I was planning to show up for next Tuesday’s show. He said there might even be an expanded role for us and that he was considering other ways to expand our brand in station programming. 24 hours later, he called to say our segment was being discontinued.

Next week, Hoffman’s on vacation and Guarino-Sanders is scheduled to host the morning show. I told Hoffman on Wednesday that I’d show up, despite reservations about the host. He assured me it was just one week, to get through that, and he’d be back as the regular host the following week. But 24 hours later, Hoffman called to say everything was off.

There are no regrets. The show gave us a video outlet and brought new fans to the ‘Ville Voice and Page One. Spangler was an enthusiastic fan, and the segments just wouldn’t have worked without him. It was fun while it lasted.

The good news: Now we have time to work with other stations that have been angling for months to pull us on-air on a regular basis.

Freak…and Dave, Out at CW

The experiment that brought a couple of local sports radio shows to television on the CW is about to come to an end.

Calling it a business decision, Craig Hoffman said today that the two shows will be off the schedule by July 4. Hoffman, the station’s community relations director, said the station is discussing the idea of a new local sports show that would debut in late summer or early fall. That show, he said, could include a role for former University of Louisville QB turned media personality Dave Ragone.

“I would not be surprised to see him do something here down the road,” Hoffman said.

The current shows — Dave and Sports in the Morning (6-8 a.m.) and The Freak Show with John Renshaw (11:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.) — both suffered a loss of personnel recently. Renshaw left town unexpectedly in may, while Ragone’s broadcast partner, Scott Padgett, took a job on Coach John Calipari’s staff at UK.

Those shows were part of a broadcast agreement between the station and Dugan Ryan, who produced and sold the shows. Ryan said he’s interested in working toward an agreement with the station’s new owners about future programming.

The sports shows were canceled on radio last November when Cumulus Broadcasting changed formats of its 93.9 station, which had been all sports talk. They started doing the show from the CW studios in January.

CW Shafts Spangler; No More “Dan Show”

Dan Spangler, the WBKI station manager and host of the local morning show Louisville Live, was dismissed from both positions yesterday by the station’s new ownership group, Fusion Communications.

Spangler said that about 4:30 yesterday, he was told that he was being let go due to budgetary considerations and asked to leave immediately.

Craig Hoffman, a former WAVE-TV on-air reporter who filled in as host when Spangler was on a business trip a few weeks back, is expected to host the morning show today. Hoffman is a full-time staff member and producer at WBKI. We attempted to reach him and Fusion representative Dave McAnally without success last night.

We can’t confirm, at this point, if other station employees have lost their jobs, or tell you anything else about future programming. The station has begun airing CW World Report, a national news program for CW affiliates, at 5:30 p.m.

Fusion won the auction to buy the station and completed the deal in May, and we have reported that the station plans to move to the Kaden Tower in September.

Spangler has hosted the morning show since its inception in March 2008, at last count more than 300 shows. It expanded from 30 minutes to an hour  earlier this year. While it’s never done well ratings-wise, the show’s emphasis on local activities and people made it a staple of morning TV.

On a personal note, it’s sad to see someone who’s become not only a polished and smooth on-air personality, but a close friend, lose his job in such an unceremonious fashion. Dan’s enthusiasm for his guests and all things Louisville is contagious, and no matter what the future of the station, we’ll miss seeing him every week.

In the last few weeks, we’ve been kidding him about renaming the morning program “the Dan Show” — sort of an unofficial honorary title for a guy who’s always been humble and lacking in ego. Yesterday was Dan’s last appearance on the show.