Monday, December 04, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: Major Local Radio Station Sale

UPDATE 4:49 PM 12/4/06: The sale's been confirmed by Crain's Cleveland Business, in an article by John Booth. (Thanks to alert OMW reader Nate - "not Nate81" - for the heads up in a comment below.)

The reported selling price - $7 million dollars, or about $3 million south of what Salem paid WCLV to take back WKNR sister talk WHK/1420.

Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin tells Crain's that Good Karma will take over operations of WKNR via an LMA "immediately". He says he has plans to consolidate WKNR and WWGK into a downtown Cleveland studio, and that formats will not change on either station. We'd be surprised if Good Karma didn't swap networks between the two stations, tho... but that's just our own speculation....

Our original report - first anywhere on the topic - is below:


We have now confirmed from numerous sources that Good Karma Broadcasting, owner of WWGK/1540 Cleveland "Cleveland's ESPN Radio 1540", is buying its established format competitor, much larger Salem sports talk station WKNR/850.

We have no word on the terms or the conditions, but OMW hears an LMA will begin soon, possibly as soon as later this month, or by January.

We hear Good Karma owner Craig Karmazin is scheduled to meet with WKNR employees as soon as late this afternoon.

More as we hear it...


Anonymous said...

In the last few Salem conference calls with the Wall Street Crowd, they have expressed concern over the $$ they have been able to extract in the Cleveland market. They have been placing the blame on the general businees environment in Cleveland. So disposition of "bastard format" doesn't surprise me. I'm just surprised it is the AM station with the best signal.

Johnny Morgan said...

Looks like the World's Greatest Program Director may well be the World's Greatest Ex-Program Director very soon.

That is, unless they shift him over to FM. God help them.

Now, not to get ahead of ourselves...what happens to 1540??? :-)

Ohio Media Watch said...

That's actually a pretty good question. anon-commenter.

We are getting this story from everyone except the dog catcher, so we're pretty sure of the details.

We have not heard anything about any possible sale/swap of frequencies, and it would appear, from what we've heard, is that it's an outright buy of 850 by Mr. Karmazin.

If we hear anything different, we'll update the item ASAP. But, we're a bit surprised, too. Maybe Salem doesn't wanna pay the 50KW power bill...

-The Management.

Anonymous said...

TWGPD still programs 1420 and look at the huge friggin numbers they pull. Plus if they wanted too, they could justify his salary by giving him The Fish.

Look at the success he's had in music radio anyway. For example I'll list all his success stories below:

Anonymous said...

And we'd like to thank Mike Catan, Josh Sabo, Greg Brinda, Neil Bender and Antonio Castro for participating in Cleveland radio.

Looks like KNR will be a professional radio station again.

Roda will probably be retained...from what I'm hearing.

ltr said...

WOW! Now THAT'S a pretty shrewd move for Craig and the gang.

Here's hoping he can turn it into a strong sports station.

I wonder what will become of the little daytimer.

Anonymous said...

mrph...I don't like it.

1st team on fox w/ Steve Czaban is a better show than Mike & Mike, more fun, less scripted, better radio.

I have to wonder what happens to the Jim Rome Show. ESPN wants Mike & Mike, the Herd, and Dan Patrick on the air, but Cleveland is a strong market for Rome. Any thoughts that Good Karma goes with ESPN on 850 and Premeire/FSR on the daytimer?
-Nate (not Nate81)

Anonymous said...

Its in Crain's...

$7 million for the station.

Good Karma takes over immediately under an LMA.

Quote from the new owner:“Being able to offer sports fans two different options with different network stuff and a lot of local stuff is really good for the market,” Mr. Karmazin explained.

So it looks like FSR and Rome stay put for now...

by the way, if Craig K buys a house in the area, who will let us know? Will Roger come out of retirement?

-Nate (not Nate81)

Anonymous said...

wow, just wow. I think this is good news.

I just hope he can turn things around there.

While I didn't hate WKNR/staff like many of your readers seem to, it was no where near as good pre Salem. I am looking forward to see what the future brings.


Anonymous said...

Wow! I hope the on air guys can find a spot somewhere, especially the young pups (updates maybe). Brinda and Roda have survived before, so it will be interesting to see.

Sad for the people who now have to wonder what next, but exciting to think real sports radio could return to Cleveland.

Anonymous said...

Don't expect a massive overhaul with Mr Karmazin now having both 850 and 1540 to play with.

What will likely happen is a 1540 days/850 nights situation for ESPN.

You need to have a local show on both in the mornings/mid-days and in PM Drive (so people don't have to wait to gripe about the Browns).

That's something you just can't do on 1540 due to the time restrictions.

Also, now you have a home for the "Steve & Craig" Show.

Plus, I don't think Ol' Craig is going to screw around switching Jim Rome. He's smart enough not to mess with a good thing.

850 will probably be local from 6am-8pm (with Rome from 12-3 and S & C from 7-8.)

1540 will likely stay as is (where they can keep Mike & Mike, Cowherd, and Patrick intact.)

850 will most likely air all of ESPN's MLB stuff (including playoffs and World Series) as well as the NBA package (including playoffs and Finals.)

FSR is probably done here (unless Czaban's show is retained), other than that there is nothing on FSR worth keeping.

And the OCB gravy train is at least slowed down, if not derailed.

Anonymous said...

4 words...

bring back bill needle.

(There bill- figured you'd appreciate the support)

Anonymous said...

I'm hearing Tony Rizzo will be your host from 9-12. WWWWWEEEEEEEEE....

Anonymous said...

Not sure what people's thoughts are on Geoff Sindelar but he was always one of my favorites to listen to. Not sure if Geoff would even want to take another go round.

I did like Bill Needle as well.


Anonymous said...

Please not Bill Needle! Bring back Geoff Sindelar though and keep Fox Sports Radio on. ESPN Radio is terrible all they do is update scores constantly and never take phone calls.

Anonymous said...

To me it seems as if Good Karma wasted their $$ with the 1540 signal.

newsnomore said...

Please clear something up for me.

Crain's reports that 850 is a 50,000 watt signal.

Since when did that happen?

When I worked there(850), it was no where near 50,000. In fact, the only 50,000 stations were 3WE (clear) and WGAR (directional). When we went to nightime mode, we lost Lorain Co.

In all this frequency trading...did 850 somehow turn it up to 50K?

Also, with this proposed downtown studio, does this mean Broadcast Park is once again a transmitter site only? How sad.

Anonymous said...

Hope they keep one or two of the WKNR youngsters and dump some of the stale old hosts. Give Les Levine a daily show. Maybe grab the Orange and Brown show from STCleveland. We'll miss those Eddie Milars minutes, tho.

Anonymous said...

Good Karma now can combat WTAM. As Paul Harvey once said, "I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT!!!"

Bernard Bolkanyi (name sounds familiar... wasn't he Bernie Van Tilger when he was at WKNR?) will become the PD. That's obvious. The WGPD (tm) will stay at WHK, and probably took like duties from WHKW with Sue Wilson's departure, IIRC.

BTW, this doesn't necessarily mean that WKNR goes BACK to ESPN Radio... at least. But the PBP (NBA, MLB) from ESPN will definately go back to WKNR.

Les Levine will eventually get hired to the 3p-6p shift on WKNR. Maybe Roda from 6-8. S&C will wind up there somehow. Rizzo's a cinch for a 10a-1p Saturday slot. Karlovec stays, Brinda... probably (though the sports director title will be taken from him.) Katan and Sabo stays, maybe in the sports update mode. Or they go to WWGK. No longer will WKNR have Metro-provided updates, but Jeff Thomas should stay.

Gone are Winters, Castro, Kullas, and the other board-ops that Salem somehow promoted to host duties. If WKNR goes local in the morning (which while I like Czabe, I'd go for a GOOD local show), I'd love to see who they come up with...

Neil Bender will likely go into the production department, teaming with Steve Dole. (Oh, and if they could also get TR Rezny...) Best part: WKNR will get a *real* imaging voice again.

WKNR's facilities probably haven't been touched since Cablevision bought it in 1990, much less when NCI moved WGAR/1220 there in 1978!!! Obvious neglect over the years has left the carrier signal grainy and dull. (A project for Ted Alexander, perhaps?)

And I'm still anticipating for Craig to eventually pull off something with WWGK. For some reason (maybe that which I don't understand) I feel that he could use 1540 for an eventual station swap. I'd stay tuned to that...

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

Then WRMR upgraded to 50,000 watts on a daytime basis in May of 1999. Took ten years to do, and was spear-headed by then-owner Tom Embrescia (ironically, it went to 50KW three months after he sold the station). Ted Alexander - then the CE for WDOK and WRMR - built the current array, which replaced the old WJW-WRMR site.

The big shortcomings: 850 must null to the southeast, no thanks to a 10KW station in Johnstown, PA (WNTJ). Good luck getting it clearly in Akron. Also, when 850 went to 50KW, they had to take a (slight) power reduction to 4,700 watts. But it's directional enough that it's tough to get in parts of Lorain County, much less other parts of the Cleveland metro...

- Nathan Obral

Jack Frost said...

LOVE these comments here, needs some posts pronto. It's a ghost-town there, this would be a great discussion for that board...rather than a bunch of comments strewn together by Anonymous after Anonymous after Anonymous... (at least make a fake name for yourself here and make it creative, people!)