Wednesday, October 25, 2006

An Open Letter to Craig Karmazin

Sometime in the next few days, or sooner, Good Karma Broadcasting debuts Cleveland's second all-sports radio station, WABQ/1540 "ESPN Cleveland". As far as we know, it'll only debut on the 1,000 watt 1540 daytime frequency, despite reports that Good Karma president Craig Karmazin had been talking with Radio One about leasing nighttime hours on talk WERE/1300.

Here at OMW, we have no idea if Mr. Karmazin has found your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

We know he's apparently been in contact with outgoing Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown, so he at least has some inkling about the Northeast Ohio media landscape, and those who cover it.

We also don't know if he's aware of the wide reach we have here, or the fact that we're read by folks at just about every major media cluster in the region...not to mention thousands of sports fans who are not working at any media outlet.

Therefore, we have no idea if he'll read this Open Letter...but...that's never stopped us before.


Dear Mr. Karmazin,

Welcome to Cleveland.

You're about to undertake an effort of some significance in Northeast Ohio. You'll provide the first reasonably competitive sports radio voice in a market which really, really needs it.

You're a smart broadcaster, so we won't give you the basics. You already know the criticism which has been leveled at your full-time competition, Salem's WKNR/850. We decided long ago not to list all the things which aren't done right at that operation, and we're sure it didn't take you long to figure it out.

We're sure you already know that Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 is really the sports powerhouse in the market, despite devoting the bulk of its daytime hours to news/talk programming.

What we'd like to know: What are YOU going to do?

You're about ready to launch. You can tell us the general gameplan for "ESPN Cleveland".

Do you plan any local programming?

Do you plan to go after any sports contracts? If you're not going after the long-term deals for the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers, firmly locked in at the Clear Channel World Domination HQ on Oak Tree for the next gazillion years, what DO you plan to pursue in the market? Will you make a serious bid for the Cleveland rights to Ohio State sports whenever WKNR's contract expires? Do you have any other contracts in mind?

But the biggest question of all regards your signal.

You made no secret of your desire to put the ESPN Radio nighttime programming on Radio One's WERE... to the point of drafting this logo with "1300 Nights" on it, a la your Milwaukee dual-signal situation.

It now appears that's either gone, or has been taken out of the consideration.

What's next?

OMW has repeatedly enlisted the help of radio professionals - including the outgoing engineer for your own new facility - to indicate that there's not a lot of room to upgrade the 1000 watt daytime signal at 1540. Do you see the ability to improve the signal at least into one that can be heard west of I-77 or south of I-480 clearly? Or do you have something else in mind?

We helpfully note rumors that appeared last month on, that ESPN was not happy with the two FM rimshot/one AM [mainly] daytimer situation in Washington DC, on its new affiliate "Triple X ESPN Radio". If that was true, one can only imagine how they wouldn't be happy with the AM 1540 signal.

And we also note that Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who owns that "Triple X" trimulcast, has filed to significantly upgrade the AM signal, turning WXTR/730 Alexandria VA into a full-time station with a better signal. It's an option you would not appear to have with WABQ's signal.

We'll give you some leeway if you don't want to play your cards here, Mr. Karmazin. We know, for one, that this missive is read extensively at Salem Two, the Broadview Road facility which houses WKNR's studios.

But we'll say it again - you cannot be competitive, period, with a 1000 watt daytime East Side-only signal. You know this. This can't be your end game.

How much are you willing to talk? Our E-Mail address is conveniently linked on the left side of this report.

And best of luck to you. We'd really like to see the sports radio game get a little more interesting in Northeast Ohio...

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm)
Ohio Media Watch


Anonymous said...

How about this for advice: Hire Les Levine and Tony Rizzo. Hire Kenny Roda as an update boy. Hire Mike Catan and Josh Sabo as board opps.

Anonymous said...

Here's a BETTER idea:

Hire any and all of WKNR's Saturday morning sports show personalities (Mike Catan--the best, Josh Sabo, Mike Gelsinger...& I forget the other guy). They have, BAR NONE, the best three-hour sportstalk show in NE Ohio. I listen every Saturday without fail, and am amazed at their insight, chemistry, etc. Roda, Brinda, Keane & Co. cannot hold a candle to these 4, and it really doesn't matter which 2 host that week's show---they're all superb.

Jim123 said...

"I listen every Saturday without fail, and am amazed at their insight, chemistry, etc"

That makes two of you. Honest to god, there are better college radio shows. If you're a big fan of stuttering and slow-witted humor, then the saturday show is for you!

To be fair, Mike Catan is big in Cleveland. And I mean BIG! As in, bigger than the Quicken Loans Arena.

Anonymous said...

I would run with Chuck Galetti as an mid-morning host, and try to get Sindelar out of retirement, even if it was only for an uninterupted hour from 5-6, with a someone like Dave Denholm to wrap around him (4-5, co 5-6, 6-7).
In addition to that I would look to bring Kendall Lewis back as my Browns beat reporter, Catan with the Cavs, and the always angry Silverstein for the Tribe.
However, it is all worthless on a 1000 lightbulb.

Anonymous said...

CLEARLY...anonymous number two is one of the kids he mentioned. C'mon; it's a high school class project gone wrong. Stop self-promoting a really, really bad show. You should all still just be board-ops.

Rizzo needs to be on the air full-time. He'll always be a radio guy first and foremost. Not crazy about Les. Just a personal thing (not against him). Don't find him that compelling.

Here's a few names for ya, starting with some 'KNR voices:

-Jeff Thomas. 'KNR morning update guy that never, ever gets more time. Just can't understand. Dude's pretty witty, but he's stuck behind a bunch of talentless kids half his age.

-Ryan McNaughton. Same as above. He left the state because of his frustration with being passed-over.

-Mark Schwab. Make a play to make him a bigger part of the new station. Gives you a name, and hurts your competition.

-Matt Dery. Bring him back to his hometown.

-Tim Alcorn. SOLID WEOL guy. I'm sure he's comfortable in Lorain County, but why not take a shot at this veteran?

Feel free to add, but I think that's a pretty good start.

Anonymous said...

WABQ will not bring in local talent.

The only reason ESPN is even tolerating being on a 1,000 watt daytimer is to give exposure to it's full lineup.

If ESPN wasn't so uptight about having their schedule pre-empted, they wouldn't have left WKNR.

The nighttime stuff on ESPN is really just scores and highlights from the games which are taking place while those shows are on.

But, the main players, such as Colin Cowherd, Dan Patrick, and Eric Kasilius (The Sports Bash) are the ones that ESPN wants to push (along with Mike and Mike).

The MLB package is a seperate deal that any station can pick up (like KNR has done this year).

But, the main thing is ESPN wants to get their big guns some exposure in Cleveland so when something bigger and better comes around, they will be a hot property.

Anonymous said...

ESPN left KNR because they could get more of their programming cleared on Karmazin's new station, but by no means does ESPN management prefer to have the entire syndicated lineup cleared on their affiliates.

ESPN radio management has gone on the record in the past saying that they like for two, maybe three of their daytime shows to be cleared on their affiliates. With that being said, they definately prefer to have some local programming on their affiliates as well. Having nothing but the satellite feed run is not the preference of the higher ups at ESPN radio.

It will take time, but Karmazin will make his mark in Cleveland. Also, don't expect him to hire the young, cheap talent already getting exposure in Cleveland (Aka the KNR kids) When it is time for ESPN Cleveland to unveil a local talk presence, expect either a seasoned veteran talker already with a presence in the market (not currently on the radio) or some fresh talent Karmazin will cultivate himself. A simple step up for the kids on at KNR is not probable.

And easy on the cheap shots around here. Friendly discussion is fun but some of the shots taken at certain local personalities are quite similar to the childish games that take place on the board and I'd hate to see this place go the route of that mess.

Anonymous said...

Mark Schwab? Puleez. The epitome of overrated. The guy talks to substance. His "schtick" is screaming "neeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwssssssttttiiiiiiiimmmmmmmme" at the top of the hour. Oh, how COMPELLING!

Nope, not a fan.

..and which one of those KNR morning news guys talks like they either have marbles in their mouth or are semi-retarted? It's one of them. Could you really take them talking like that for 3 hours?

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm amazed at the lack of taste exhibited by some of the suggestions here. Sindelar? Schwab? BSK? Are you KIDDING me? Anyone who'd rather listen to that drivel over WKNR's Sat. a.m. team really doesn't know sports or want meaningful commentary & interaction. Despite what a couple ignorant (and probably jealous) posters say, that show totally ROCKS. They can replace ANY talkshow in town, as far as I'm concerned. Cleveland is sorely lacking in on-air talent. P.S. Chuck Galeti is also excellent.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Bless your heart for promoting your show, last commenter, but at this rate, we'll have to ask if you want to buy a banner ad. :)

By the way, 'KNR morning update guy Jeff Thomas, former afternoon update guy Ryan McNaughton and current afternoon guy Daryl Ruiter were/are all employed by Metro Networks, not Salem. How that plays into their on-air time/relationship with WKNR, I don't know...and I also don't know if they'd even be remotely interested in making such a jump.


Good Sport said...

Jeff Thomas' air time relationship with WKNR is a function of having to fit into the local availabilties of a network program.

Back in the days when KNR had local morning hosts such as Bruce Drennan or Greg Brinda, Thomas had much more time,and frequently used it to banter with the host. He always gave the impression that he was part of the morning team, not merely a reporter.

Kenny Roda used to do the same with the PM drive reporters, but it seems that KNR has more commercials and less Roda now than in the past.

Anonymous said...

A subject no one has even broached in this discussion is how you PAY for local talent with a 1-thousand watt signal..

ESPN is using this to keep their product in the market until something better comes along..

Anonymous said...

If ESPN - (Disney) was so concerned about a signal for ESPN Radio in the Cleveland Market... they would find a way for Craig Karmazin to swap out signals....

1260 AM - ESPN
1540 AM - Radio Disney

1260 has a full time Cleveland signal and does hit most of the Cleveland market and I can pick up 1260 clear where I live in Akron...

Question: Does Disney want sports quickly on a major Cleveland AM Radio Station? If so this would make so much sense!

Anyway - most music is on FM these who really listens to Radio Disney anyway? I say swap out frequencies... ESPN Radio in Cleveland lands on a decent signal at 1260 and Radio Disney is still in the market on 1540...with maybe a translator?....

Just my opinion..
-- Radioboy1