It usually takes us a full day here at OMW to digest Roger Brown's Monday sports media column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. We take at least part of the day to filter out plugs for people he likes, real estate listings, or obvious tidbits. (This week, it's the startling proclamation that over half of Salem sports talk WKNR/850's listeners are men ages 35 to 54. Wow...a sports station with listeners mostly being adult males! Hold the presses!)
The most interesting tidbit in Brown's Monday column is his bringing some light to new "buzz" on the local radio rumor circuit...the rumor that one Craig Karmazin is looking to buy a local AM station to establish a sports talk format. Brown says the son of former Infinity/CBS radio boss and current Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin is rumored to be eyeing either picking up WKNR from Salem, or buying Radio Disney's WWMK/1260.
While we have no idea how solid Mr. Brown's information is (and really, are we EVER sure?), this would be a VERY interesting development if it happens. Please stress - IF.
Karmazin owns two sports stations in Wisconsin. His first, formerly a guy/hot talker in Madison, is now a full-time FM sports talker (WTLX/100.5 Columbus WI) under the moniker "Madison's Fox Sports Radio". Karmazin's second purchase was WAUK/1510 Waukesha WI, a rimshot daytimer which was the Milwaukee market's only sports talk station until Entercom started up rival WSSP/1250. (WSSP's afternoon driver should be familiar to long-time local sports talk listeners - he's former WKNR/1220 Cleveland afternoon drive host Peter Brown.)
To try to overcome the lack of a night signal for his Milwaukee market station, Karmazin's Good Karma Broadcasting LMAs the 6 PM-6 AM hours from urban talker WMCS/1290 in Milwaukee, creating "ESPN Milwaukee - 1510 Days, 1290 Nights". We hear the wags over at Entercom, where WSSP uses the slogan "Milwaukee's Only Full-Time Sports Station", jokingly call their own sports station "1250 Days, 1250 Nights".
Karmazin simulcasts mid-mornings and afternoon drive between the two stations, with shows now based out of Milwaukee.
What does this all mean to Cleveland?
Karmazin would be a player here. Maybe not enough of a player to put a big scare into the Clear Channel sports empire at Oak Tree, but more of a player than Salem ever will be in sports radio. His Milwaukee outlet swiped the market's most known sports talk host, Steve "The Homer" True, for afternoon drive...after Clear Channel talk WISN/1130 moved True from early evening into nights. Karmazin knows how to market and run a sports station. He's young, but clearly learned something from his father in this business.
It'd certainly put a little more competitive spring into the Cleveland sports radio market, at any rate. We've taken a shot or two or five at WKNR over the years, but they've hung in there all these years, and they DO have some things going for them.
We just continue to wonder what a non-Salem-owned sports talk competitor could do in this region. And unlike Salem, a Karmazin-owned sports station would probably at least try to be competitive with Clear Channel for the rights to the Cleveland market's major professional sports franchises...