Thursday, July 13, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: WABQ/1540 Cleveland Sold To Good Karma

D&E Communications is selling Cleveland gospel daytimer WABQ/1540 to Good Karma Broadcasting for $2.5 million in cash. Details at Radio & Records Online.

As reported here, Good Karma is owned by Craig Karmazin, the son of former CBS Radio/Infinity chief Mel Karmazin (now with Sirius). Among other small stations, he owns two stations in Wisconsin's two largest markets - a pair of sports talkers in Milwaukee and Madison. His reported interest in the Cleveland radio market was first mentioned in Roger Brown's column in the Plain Dealer.

The Akron Beacon Journal's David Lee Morgan, meanwhile, confirms our earlier report that Salem sports talker WKNR/850 is losing ESPN Radio "this fall". Program director Michael Luczak tells Morgan that WKNR is "dropping" the network and morning show "Mike & Mike". (If ESPN decides to go elsewhere, is that a "drop"? Hmm.)

We'll leave the rest of the day for the assembled OMW readership to connect a few dots on this one...


Anonymous said...

Since 1540 is not a 24 hour station, where does that leave espn? In fact where does that leave WKNR? I see this as being the start of a big radio change of owner in the works.
The article did say "There has been speculation that an existing radio signal has been acquired and will feature ESPN programming. However, the particular station has not been identified." If 1540 was 24/7 then there would be your answer but its not so unless they have 2 signals lined up 1540 is out of the question.

``We've learned that ESPN will be going 24 hours, seven days a week to a new owner that we anticipate will pretty much present ESPN 24 hours a day,''

So unless this is misunderstood, 1260 is off the table since it is owned by ABC, where could it go. It looks like the radio/tv world in Ne Ohio is making major changes real real soon.

Anonymous said...

1540 can operate 24/7. The power at night is extremely low, but they can operate.

Anonymous said...

I wonder is WKNR "Dropped" ESPN as Mr. Luzack stated. If there is anybody in this town who knows anything about "Dropped" it's Mr. Luzack.

PD at WMMS Ratings Dropped. Michael Dropped.
PD at the Beat. Ratings Dropped, Michael Dropped.
PD at WHK and WKNR. Ratings Dropped...Guess what's next?

Anonymous said...

What about WATJ 1560 out of Chardon, WBKC 1460 out of Painesville, WDLW 1380 out of Lorain,WELW 1330 out of Willoughby,or WEOL 930 out of Elyria. I am not 100% sure of the exact coverage area, or if they would or could be sold, but could any of these be on the table? If I sould either crazy or off the wagon plese forgive me but I just don't see how 1540 could be espn 24/7 if it is only a daytime.

Johnny Morgan said...

Couple things here:

To anonymous #1 (12.54pm): 1260 is not off the table, and the fact that ABC owns them FAVORS the interpretation that ESPN Radio could be coming there (displacing Radio Disney).

To anonymous #2 (1.03pm): if you're "Discjacquee," you'd know better than anyone else about 1540's night power authorization. But the FCC lists them as a dyatime operation only, so they'd have to get official authorization for night operations. And if it's so low, why would they bother with the expense of reaching the couple blocks around Euclid and E. 79th?

And generally: notice how the World's Greatest Program Director (TM) attempts to save face, but gets caught up in muck, by saying that WKNR "dropped" ESPN.

Technically he's correct--after ESPN said we're leaving after 90 days (hence, dropping WKNR after 90), WKNR "dropped" ESPN.

Salem/WKNR didn't make the first move here--ESPN did. All 850 did was speed along the process at their own choosing.

The World's Greatest Program Director (TM) may soon be the World's Greatest Ex-Program Director (TM) (though, will Salem pay him to babysit a pure satellite format on 1420)?

raccoonradio said...

>>the fact that ABC owns them FAVORS the interpretation that ESPN Radio could be coming there (displacing Radio Disney).

Yes, especially if they feel sports would do better than childen's programming. In Boston by co-incidence
the Radio Disney is also at 1260 (WMKI); ESPN is on two signals that aren't as strong as one would like (owned by J Sports) and I wonder if a similar scenario would place ESPN on 1260 in Boston too.

Tim Lones said...

Interesting Profile of Crag Karmazin from 2004 in the Milwaukee Business Journal

Anonymous said...

If you look at the other stations Karmazin owns, they are traditionally between 5 and 10 kw. He likes to buy smaller stations on the outskirts of a large market (Milwaukee, Madison, Miami) then build them up and try to pull listeners from the larger market.

The problem with WABQ is that the 1kw signal doesn't even cover all of Cuyahoga county. Since Karmazin will have to build new studios for 1540 (its currently broadcasting out of a church) my guess is he'll also be trying to increase the wattage of his new project and possibly move the antenna.

He currently is working on powering up or redirecting the signals at two of his stations in Wisconsin, WAUK and WTTN. I'm guessing the same will happen here, especially considering it would be questionable for ESPN radio to pull their affiliation with KNR simply to get a couple more hours of daytime programming cleared on a signal with a fraction of the coverage of 850.

Johnny Morgan said...

The move I think about it, the less this purchase makes sense. For the entire existence of WABQ--first on 1490, then on 1540--it has served the black community of Cleveland, centered primarily on Cleveland's east and southeast side. Hence, why the tower is smack in the middle of then, and now, very urban terrain (Euclid and East 79th Street).

Any attempt to move the station that affects its reception in that community, or any attempt to change its programming will (quite rightly) be met with community indignation, possible boycotts, and public mobilization to "save their station".

Of all the frequencies available--and really, for the right price, what ISN'T available?--why would Karmazin choose 1540?

74WIXYgrad said...

Perhaps it's a part of a larger deal. WABQ being a daytimer would be a good fit for Radio Disney, so maybe a swap with ABC for 1260 would be in the works. But then what do I know?

Anonymous said...

I don't believe WWMK will drop Radio Disney.

Suppose WABQ (with a stronger signal) becomes an ESPN affiliate, that would be to ABC Radio's benefit, as both of their "brands" (Radio Disney and ESPN) would be aired in Cleveland.

They have different audiences, so it's not like they would be stepping on each other's toes.

WBKC is not going to change, as they are simulcasting WCLV FM 104.9, which has weak east side coverage, and WCLV doesn't want to lose that.

However, if Mel Karmazin wants to but WDLW and WATJ, that would be a smart move, as they could "triple-cast" ESPN and have the whole area covered.

WABQ switching formats shouldn't cause a community uproar, it's a 1kw daytimer that's barely listened to.

To most, if a stronger 1540 emerges, they'll think it is a brand new station, not one that's been around forever.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I missed something, but hasn't WATJ been silent for more than a year? I thought the license was turned in to the FCC.

Anonymous said...

You are exactly right. WATJ's licence was literally handed to the FCC on a silver platter. They tried to be a Cleveland station in much the same way WJMP tries (hehe).

Now, let's look that the AM possiblities:

* WEOL/930? No way. For the same reasons Elyria-Lorain will never sell WNWV, either. It's too much of both a community asset, and it IS profitable (even though it's obvious WNWV stirs the ELB drink, but what's wrong with that?).

* WDLW/1380 or WOBL/1320? Maybe a different situation here. Both stations are now family operations, though for the right money, they could get rid of either.

WDLW would be the better bet. It's signal, while having to protect 1370-Toledo, 1380-Fort Wayne and 1390-Niles, is servicable in the west side of Cleveland. The Wilber family sank some money in upgrading the transmitter site.

* WELW/1330? Perhaps... though Mr. Petkosvik will likely ask for A LOT (including keeping his 3-5 polka show)

* WBKC/1460? Hmmm... I do wonder how they operate as a 21-hour a day sattelite to WCLV, no?

Meanwhile, the one point were missing here: Youngstown ALREADY has a ESPN affiliate (such as it is) in WBBW/1240. This looks like the start of a multi-station ESPN network, much like what Boston has. And now two stations are in the lurch.

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

Oops. I got WABQ confused with WRTK/1540. Disregard the WBBW note...

And yes, WABQ has authority to run at limited power pre-and-post-daytime. Don't know for HOW long that's been.

And this finally closes the door on local ownership of any Cleveland-licensed radio station (WNWV, WEOL, WCLV, and WELW nonwithstanding...)

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

1540 is out of Niles (transmitter is actually near 1-80 in Austintown) is owned by the Glunt empire and airs oldies with WANR and WOLA. As for ESPN in Youngstown,if he can find some way to pry ESPN out of WBBW and Cummulus then it could open up a NE Ohio ESPN sports network which would be a very interresting idea and really open up the dorrs

Anonymous said...

Michael Luczak has the midas touch in reverse.

He can touch gold and it turns into garbage.

Hey at least he is an excellent 4th rate guitar player as opposed to a 5th rate radio executive with no clue.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there are plans to move WABQ to another frequency, say 540, or above 1600 where it could broadcast 24/7.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Karmazin is moving WABQ from 1540am to 1520 am, and must about bought Kent's WJMP to take it off the air. That clears the way for WABQ to broadcast 24/7, and might allow for a power increase as well.