Friday, July 21, 2006


It would appear that incoming WABQ/1540 Cleveland owner Craig Karmazin will flip the 1000 watt gospel daytimer to a full-time ESPN Radio affiliate, when the network leaves WKNR/850 in the fall.

The Beacon Journal's David Lee Morgan gets the confirmation from a representative of Karmazin's Good Karma Broadcasting. Well, we think he did, at least of the ESPN affiliation. He didn't confirm the frequency, which is 1540, not 1520. (Is there a law that newspapers have to screw up radio frequencies?)

Morgan says the station rep (a receptionist? a producer? whoever answered the phone?) "confirmed" Karmazin's purchase of the Cleveland station. Well, anyone who can pull up the FCC database can "confirm" that, and they don't even have to work for Craig Karmazin. Here, "confirm" it yourself: FCC Record of Proposed WABQ Sale to Good Karma.

The unnamed Good Karma representative also confirmed the company would change WABQ's format. That's not a terrible surprise...Craig Karmazin doesn't exactly run gospel radio stations.

In the end, this may not be much than a confirmation of the obvious.

And we've said it before, we'll say it again. We can't see Mr. Karmazin running 1000-watt daytimer WABQ as his sole ESPN Radio outlet in the Cleveland market. And ironically, since this story ran in the Akron Beacon Journal, that would mean an exit of ESPN Radio from the Akron radio market. (Is that Media-Com's Bill Klaus we hear, rushing to the phone to change Kent daytimer WJMP/1520 "Fox Sports 1520" to "ESPN 1520"?)

Our best guess - new owner Karmazin parks ESPN on 1540 in mid-October with little or no local programming. Then, he works mightily to upgrade the 1540 signal to cover much more of the Cleveland market, and works out a night-time broker deal - a la his Milwaukee ESPN affiliate - to split the signal into day and night outlets.

The obvious choice for "ESPN Cleveland/Nights" would be Radio One urban talk WERE/1300, but we don't know how willing they are to broker up to 12 hours of their programming day. The Milwaukee urban talker Karmazin uses for his night coverage is owned by an independent operator.

The only OTHER choice is for Karmazin to trade the 1540 signal for something else, like Radio Disney's 1260.

We'll bet someone a steak dinner two years from now, if they believe that "ESPN Cleveland" sits solely on AM 1540. We just do not see it happening in the long term...


Anonymous said...

Well 1520 & 1540 goes to ESPN, 850 goes to FOX sports, and no nitetime signal. But if ESPN wants 24/7 in Cleveland, what would stop them from seeking a full market 24 hour station. I think 1540 is a smoke screen and is a ploy for a bigger move. Since they could not even get the right frequency, there might be more errors.

Anonymous said...

It's obvious what's going on. Craig will also buy WJMP. He will move WABQ from 1540 to 1520. He will also buy the Canton station that's on 1520. He will then sign off the Canton and Kent stations. Boost WABQ to 5k watts 24/7. I'm surprised someone hasn't done it years ago. The Kent and Canton stations haven't made a dollar in decades.

Anonymous said...

Moving WABQ to 1520 won't help much.

If it did happen, such a facility would have to contend with powerful first-adjacent WCKY/1530 in Cincinnati, plus second adjacents WLAC/1510, and yes, KXEL/1540. Plus, I doubt that the 1520 frequency (what with WWKB-Buffalo) is even capable of modest - say, 500 watts - night service.

To me, there's no choice but to trade WABQ for another station. That doesn't mean WABQ can't flip to all-ESPN beforehand, but it needs to be on a good signal in order to work. Which is why I'm skeptical about Dan Snyder's new DC sports talker, which have horrible signal ranges...

- Nathan Obral

raccoonradio said...

>>(Is there a law that newspapers have to screw up radio frequencies?)

Yes there is. Boston Globe:

"Red Sox game will be on WEEI-FM (850)." (OK they got the freq right but the band wrong!)