Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The WKNR Second Day Fallout Item

Yes, this one's so big that we need a second followup.

HELLO, GALLERIA: Yes, in answer to numerous off-blog questions, we're aware that Good Karma Broadcasting intends to consolidate the operations of WKNR/850 and WWGK/1540 into new studios at the Galleria at Erieview.

That's the upscale shopping center/office complex on East 9th Street, or a short shuttle from Cleveland Browns Stadium and not that much farther from Jacobs Field and Quicken Loans Arena.

It's sure a lot closer to all of Cleveland's major professional sports venues than, say, Broadview Road...or Euclid Avenue and East 80th Street for that matter...

HOUSEKEEPING: We understand that the Good Karma LMA of WKNR actually started immediately, with the very next paychecks for WKNR employees being handled by the new operator/incoming owner.

However, the station sounds - at least today - exactly as it did two days ago. We have not heard any changes on the air...aside from perhaps something we may be imagining, a "spring in the step" of on-air personalities. It's almost like they sound, well, happy...even if it's not entirely known how many of them will end up staying.

NOT AROUND: We're also not sure, now, that now-former WKNR program director Michael Luczak is staying with Salem in Cleveland.

Though Luczak has also been programming sister talk outlet WHK/1420, it would seem that being in charge of just one station isn't enough to keep him at the cluster as far as budgets are concerned. Large broadcast companies tend to not keep around people to run only one station these days - just ask anyone at Oak Tree.

Could he be sniffing around elsewhere within Salem?

WE'LL TAKE RIZZO TO BLOCK: More and more, from the large number of sources we have on this item, it appears that WJW FOX 8 sports anchor Tony Rizzo is a key piece of the puzzle for Good Karma's local sports radio operation.

We haven't heard any solid information on where he'd land in the company's lineup, but we suspect "daily on 850" is a good bet. We would assume that Rizzo, Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin, and the folks at WJW are hammering this one out even as we type.

While we're at it, multiple sources (!!) keep talking about Peter Brown as a possible hire in the Good Karma sports pantheon.

Mr. Brown, as we've mentioned before, is the former afternoon driver at the station then known as "SportsRadio 1220 WKNR"...long before Salem bought the station. Out of all of the former WKNR personalities, he's perhaps the most remembered - and controversial.

He's also currently unemployed, since Entercom sports WSSP/1250 Milwaukee let him go from its afternoon drive shift not long ago...where he competed against, you guessed it, Good Karma WAUK/1510 host Steve "The Homer" True. Needless to say, Mr. Karmazin knows Brown's work.

We're told by more than one source not to rule out names like Kendall Lewis, another former 'KNR host currently doing middays for SportsTalkCleveland.com, in some role...and maybe there's even pursuit of a player at a certain broadcast facility on Oak Tree... but probably not who you'd guess.

This is mostly speculation, based on some pretty decent information. We bear no responsibility if any of these names do not end up on the WKNR or WWGK rosters...but assuming FOX 8 is OK with the talk radio moonlighting, we would almost bet money on Rizzo being involved...

COVERAGE: Akron Beacon Journal sportswriter George M. Thomas covers the sale in his Tuesday sports media column, which ever-so-conveniently shows up the day after the sale. (How'd you work out that timing, George? Heh.)

Mr. Thomas gives some unsolicited advice to Mr. Karmazin, most of it involving beefing up the local sports talk presence of the sleeping giant at 850 AM. We wouldn't be surprised if much of it happens, though we're not sure Jim Rome would go away or gets moved...and haven't heard even any rumblings about this as of yet.

Oh, and since we know George is an OMW reader - umm, Good Karma's original Cleveland sports outlet is "WWGK", not "WKKG". (Unlike previous columnists who have covered radio issues for the Beacon, we trust George is putting that into his word processor.)

And technically, 1540 is not "outside Cleveland"...it's well within the city limits, at Euclid Avenue and East 80th Street on the city's East Side.

With a 1000 watt daytime signal, it may sound like it is "outside" Cleveland, tho...

AND FINALLY...: By the way, we're getting none of this information directly from Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin, though we know he's a reader here (and has responded before).

OMW has issued an invitation to him to respond to any of our items, in any way he sees fit.

But as we noted to him, we get the idea that just about anyone who's ever said the word "sports" into a microphone within 100 miles of Cleveland is camped out on his doorstep right now. We understand if he's too busy to respond...but we're here whenever he's able, or wants, to do so...
UPDATE 11:32 PM 12/5/06: We have indeed heard from Mr. Karmazin, who acknowledged our item and helpfully pointed out, umm, a typo on the price of the studios he plans to build at the Galleria complex. That's $10 million for the entire sports radio shooting match, of course, including the costs of buying both WKNR and WWGK, and the studios.

We have a couple of other items related to future programming on at least one of the two stations, which we'll put up soon...

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now if Craig could just buy AM 1220 and return it to glory as a talk/entertainment outlet, all would be right with the world.

Anonymous said...

Could it be??

Sports/Talk radio in Cleveland GOOD again?

For being such a huge sports city, we've long suffered with 'KNR being extremey mediocre...and with 'TAM only devoting a sliver of it's programming to sports.

Hopefully new imaging is on the way...aimed at MEN...imaging with some "balls" so to speak.

We also can only hope that the "Boxing show" and other less-than-marginal local programming will also be on it's way out the door. I'd rather have a local host on with open lines than a hyper-focused sports show where you can only talk about ONE THING. Super-serve the audience!

Good days seem to be ahead for sports/talk in Cleveland...FINALLY.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Karmazin: I agree with those who are saying, please keep a strong LOCAL talent presence on your two stations. Brinda & Roda have paid their dues thru the years, and often are the only two on-air who will speak the truth. And please look at some of the other WKNR talent, Mike Catan in particular. He & his Sat. am rotation foursome are simply outstanding. I listen to Rome everyday at lunch, but could live without him, if you go local. When WKNR switched from Drennan (local) in the morning...to syndicated Mike and Mike, and now Szaban (who I even like, BTW), I had to switch to WTAM in the mornings. People getting ready for work need LOCAL radio, and we like a sports emphasis.

Just thought you should hear from someone who is a longtime fan of WKNR---and certainly NOT Peter Brown. Had enough of his act when the station debuted.

Anonymous said...

Well how long before Salem is gone from The Cleveland Market with KNR gone,they go from at one time 5 stations to 3. The Fish,WHK,WHKH 1220,I could see Craig getting 1220. Triv may finally have to re-do his act,now that some real competition will be hitting the RADIO SCENE,hmm Peter Brown or Tony Rizzo I can see one of them defeating Triv. And as Johnny Morgan pointed out about contracts which local team leaves Oak Tree Land my bet would be The Browns after last weeks mess with Triv stating Romeo would go. Browns leave Oak Tree,Triv continues his ratings slide,I.E. COLLIER #1,OPIE/ANTHONY#2 OR VISA/VERSA 'TWEEN 1/2. Then Maxwell,Peter Brown/or Rizz and Triv down to 5 maybe 6 or 7 can you say TITANIC 2 STARRING THE 3PM SHOW ON 1100 "A BIG DADDY MARTY ALLEN PRODUCTION"!!!

Anonymous said...

To the cluless writer of these comments:

"Brinda & Roda have paid their dues thru the years, and often are the only two on-air who will speak the truth. And please look at some of the other WKNR talent, Mike Catan in particular. He & his Sat. am rotation foursome are simply outstanding."

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

Craig didn't buy the station with any intentions of keeping overpaid, nagging, whinning hosts like Brinda and Roda on air any longer than he has to. "Paid their dues"? How about - kissed butt all the way to the top. Now that the former idiot PD has been shown the door, the station has really no other direction to go than up.

As for the "outstanding Sat AM rotation" you must be one of the proud parents of Catan or one of the other guys who gets $8 an hour to get on air and walk all over each other. Talk about NOT paying your dues...your comments indicate that you have become so numb to good sports talk, that you just accept the crap that KNR has thrown on the air over the past 2-3 years.

Trust me, when the new lineup starts, minus all the garbage that is going to be tossed on the corner like Brinda and Roda, it will be like nothing this town has had to listen to for at least the past 10 years.

Anonymous said...

I just hope one of the stations continues to air First Team w/Steve Czaban.

Anonymous said...

my sense is that the office space is expensive real estate.....it will be interesting to see how things go.....

competition is a good thing.....good luck to you young zen master

Anonymous said...

And what might happen now to 1260-AM? ABC/Disney is selling all of its radio facilties, and some buyer have already been announced.
Since Karmazin was mentioned as a possible buyer, that leaves 1260 dangling.
Who might want that station? A far cry from the WIXY days of 40 years ago, but today it does have a pretty solid signal. What AM market hole is there to fill, besides a minority format such as Hispanic or religion?
Let's speculate...hot local talk, nostalgia, fifties and sixties oldies, syndicated talk? Any noise about 1260 at all out there? We're all ears!

Weightwatchers said...

Catan...if you're going to use this board, have some guts and post your name. Your show has four listeners, and three of them sit right next to you.

Anonymous said...

you may have missed this but the DISNEY formatted stations will remain with the Disney company as will the ESPN formatted Stations.

so, unless disney is NOT happy with being in Cleveland...do not look for disney/1260 to be sold...

Neil Parks said...

The post above about 1260 going to talk, nostalgia, or 50's/60's oldies is very funny, considering that all those formats were tried over the years on that station.

I loved it when it was the original "magic oldies" WMGC.

As to WKNR, a local morning show would be nice to have. Might even get me to move my clock radio away from Bill Bennett.

IMNSHO the best local talk host Cleveland ever had, sports or otherwise, was WKNR's first morning personality Robert J. Wright. I still wonder why he left after such a short time.

Other old-time KNR people I liked were Geoff Sindelar and Tolo & Tapie.

Another really good one that got away too soon: Mark Kestesher. He was morning host for about a week or two, and to this day I remember fondly a hilarious bit in which he pretended to confuse singer Michael Jackson with a Browns player of the same name. He even managed to work Indians closer Mike Jackson into it.

Those were the good old days. Can the new management recapture that? I'll be rooting for them to try.

Anonymous said...

"Well how long before Salem is gone from The Cleveland Market with KNR gone,they go from at one time 5 stations to 3. The Fish,WHK,WHKH 1220,I could see Craig getting 1220."

Are you serious?!?!?!

The ONLY reason Salem sold WKNR is because it's their ONLY sports station in the country; and it doesn't help them further their mission. Salem wants to own a religious teaching/talk station in every market, and anchor it with a "FISH" CHR. They also have a News Talk format which is the ONLY home for their "Salem Radio Networks" talk show hosts. They want to have a "News Talk XXXX" in every market too, to influence votes. They don't need KNR, but they DO need 1220! It's part of the core reason they're in business! The only other station they would sell is 1440 WHKZ, and by the way, they own 4 stations, not 3... 1440 WHKZ is an asset because Salem can say they're broadcasting it's syndicated talk and teaching programs in 2 markets (Warren/youngstown and Cleveland) and therefore charge them more. The sale is positive for both companies, but don't look for any more sales of salems core stations... That would be stupid.

Anonymous said...

"The ONLY reason Salem sold WKNR is because it's their ONLY sports station in the country; and it doesn't help them further their mission."

I agree wholehartedly. The only thing that kind of surprised me was that Salem didn't keep the 850 facility while selling both the WKNR intellectual property and the 1420 stick to Karmazin, moving the conserva-talk WHK to the much better 850 position. Salem has spent some serious dollars elsewhere in the country to upgrade their AM facilities. I can only assume that money talked.

Hopefully, a re-juvenated WKNR will keep everyone on their toes and make Cleveland radio better. I would not hold my breath to see any quick moves of PBP contracts away from WTAM. Those contracts are all fairly long-term (other than the Browns) and I can't see Clear Channel letting them lapse. (They just snagged the Pirates in Pittsburgh away from KDKA after being there a gazillion years.)

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous TRUST ME SALEM IN CLEVELAND HAS GONE FROM 5 STATIONS TO 3 IN CLEVELAND. 1440am LAST I CHECKED WAS IN YOUNGSTOWN/WARREN MARKET NOT CLEVELAND!!!! Check your facts plus Salem has been selling off stations in other markets. As for 1260 how much longer will DISNEY HOLD ON AFTER THE FIRST OF THE YEAR 1260 ALONG WITH PEOPLE AT STATIONS IN CLEVELAND ARE IN FOR BIG CHANGES,FORMATS,FIRINGS AND STATIONS GETTING SOLD OFF. You thought in 2001 the radio switches were something "BABY YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET"

Sour Apples said...

Dear Mr Karmazin,
Sports Talk Show Hosts I do not want to hear on the new WKNR
1)Bill Needle 2)Ronnie Duncan 3)Greg Brinda 4)Kenny Roda 5)Bruce Drennan 6)Kendall Lewis. STOP RECYCLING THE SAME HOSTS OVER AND OVER (Ok I feel better) We want new opinions

The only 3 hosts I would like to hear from the past are Tony Rizzo,Geoff Sindelar or Les Levine. At least they are entertaining. Bring in some new blood! WKNR fired Greg Brinda and then rehired him time for him to try something new. His opinions have been heard over and over. Kenny Roda needs to get a job at some station in Pittsburgh.

Anonymous said...

Sour Apples, I completely agree with you. Rizzo used to be great on WHK!

Anonymous said...

WHKZ is a near-total repeater of WHKW, save for airing Hugh Hewitt's show, he being a Warren native.

Salem did give up the Cincinnati market earlier this year - including conservatalker WBOB, now oldies WDJO - but that was really due to the nature of the market.

Maybe they could also cede WHK. But that's it. The Fish is a successful station, and WHKW is a traditional 24/7 preacher. They can allow to keep those two...

- Nathan Obral

Ben said...

at least the Galleria will have one tennant

Johnny Morgan said...

Actually, given what is there, Good Karma's radio studios/offices would be the third or fourth-largest spot there...behind the Cleveland Bar offices (at the east end, upper level), Cafe Sausolito (middle, upper level), and (maybe) Key West Cafe (west end, upper level).

If he's looking for space, there's tons of it--on both upper and lower floors.

Hell, there's one spot across from the CBA that is above a vacant ex-art gallery on the lower level.

He could have two levels of studios--two stations--and offices, with nice internal staircases.

And if he needs a lawyer...

Anonymous said...

Craig got the station for a steal. Isn't that the real story here? $7 million? People were guessing it would be double that. Kudos to him.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, in afternoon drive, I'd much rather listen to Kenny Roda over Triv. I enjoy Kenny's energy and agree with a previous poster that he has "paid his dues".

Anonymous said...

Why not just use the existing WKNR office space that is there? It does not make sense to me for a station to move downtown when all of the stations were leaving downtown for a reason.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Why move downtown from Broadview Road?

1) You have no visibility out there, in studio space that sits on Salem's tower site for 1220.

2) We don't know if the studios could be considered "a dump", but they are likely behind the times.

3) Back to #1, the Galleria location puts WKNR/WWGK smack in the middle of the Cleveland sports scene. Cleveland Browns Stadium is roughly a 10 minute walk, and the Gateway facilities aren't much farther down East Ninth.

Mr. Karmazin wants to make a splash. Galleria does that.

Sure, it's symbolic, but considering the state of that facility (WKNR) the past few years, it's almost required.

4) If you're not going to be downtown and move into new facilities, it would likely be out in the Independence Media Gulch (Clear Channel, Salem, Metro Networks, etc.).

But it's hard to argue against a high-profile location smack in the middle of the local sports universe.

-The Management

Anonymous said...

Mr. Karmazin: Please take the following suggestions into consideration when planning future moves for 850 and 1540:

- Move ESPN Radio back to 850 so people can actually receive the signal
- If you can't dump FOX Sports Radio, move them to 1540 (the lack of signal is just the same as dumping them)
- Keep Rome - don't drop the jungle for some local talk show - we have local talk and all they do is whine
- Did I mention moving ESPN Radio to a signal someone can actually receive