Thursday, December 21, 2006

WKNR's On Air Research

Yes, yes, response to what feels like dozens of E-Mails (please, keep 'em coming!), we heard that new WKNR/850 owner Craig Karmazin was on with afternoon drive host Kenny Roda on Good Karma Broadcasting's new Cleveland sports radio acquisition.

Based on what we heard, both described to us and on the radio with our own ears - Karmazin started at 4 PM, and took listener calls with Roda for the rest of the show in a 3 hour session, give or take a sports interview - it appears the new 'KNR boss wants to hear from basically everyone with a pulse and who is interested in sports radio in Cleveland.

We heard him joke (we presume) that the "on air research" saved him $200,000 in paid research.

Anyway, the calls are as you'd expect they were, at least what we heard. People weighed in in favor (and not in favor) of current hosts, told Karmazin that they wanted a local morning drive show - though some were happy with either ESPN's Mike and Mike and FSR's Steve Czaban - and made other suggestions.

Names of Cleveland Sports Radio Past got mentioned, including former 'KNR host Kendall Lewis, who now does middays at Paul Belfi's Internet outlet,

And you can pretty much go down the list of former WKNR hosts or other prominent Cleveland sports names not on the radio right now (Paging Les Levine! Hello, Bruce Drennan! Chuck Booms, come on down! etc...) to hear some of the other suggestions. We hear Booms got specific mention from Roda, who is apparently a friend of his.

In addition to kicking around morning drive, Karmazin also mentioned in response to a caller that the evening slot (7-10 PM, he framed it) was also important to a sports radio station, as it is when various events are going on.

He didn't say he was going to expand the station's programming in that regard, and didn't commit to a local morning drive show - or anything - in the time we heard, but he was clearly trying to get input.

To that end, OMW hears that "Cleveland's ESPN 1540 Insiders" - those who signed up for the online club at the website for now WKNR-sister station WWGK/1540 - have also gotten an extensive "what do you like, what don't you like" questionnaire. We'll post it as a comment to this item as soon as we can find it.

He's also welcoming public E-Mail comments, with his address now published on the WKNR website "Contact" page.

(We notice there that the list of E-Mail addresses has been pared down significantly, with only Karmazin, his sales executives, promotions director Jason Gibbs, sports director Greg Brinda and Roda now listed.)

Karmazin noted that Premiere syndicated host Jim Rome (noon-3 on 850) E-Mailed him immediately upon learning of his purchase of the show's Cleveland affiliate, and offered to his "full support".

OMW hears that Karmazin also confirmed a report we posted here shortly after the WKNR acquisition was announced...both stations will move into the Galleria shopping mall/office complex on East 9th Street in Downtown Cleveland, a Dave Zastudil punt or five away from Cleveland Browns Stadium.

After his run with Roda, Karmazin slipped into another studio - we presume at the WKNR facilities on Broadview Road - to do his "Steve and Craig" hour-long evening show for some of his other stations. The show is expected to air on WWGK when the station's hours permit it to do so...


Anonymous said...

Craig did a nice job on-air (sounded younger than I thought), and it's nice he's willing to listen. WKNR has MUCH going for it right now...with Brinda, Rome & Roda. Just need to get a good LOCAL morning show, and stay LOCAL after 7pm. Mike Catan is such a huge asset, as are the other Sat. am. talkers who rotate. And despite one caller not liking HS sports, WKNR is the ONLY station in this High School-crazy market that features a 2-hr. show for it (8-10am) on Sat. Keep it.

Here's hoping no one at WKNR loses their job in this transition, because this local team has made the station into the true SPORTS POWER that it is. The so-called "big one" down the dial does NOT talk sports regularly, so it is a second option.

I've been a WKNR listener since Day One, and only want the best for Craig & the station family.

Anonymous said...

you actually think this current "team" has made the station into a power? crawl out from under your rock, man.

Anonymous said...

Mike Catan is a huge asset? To whom? What listeners has he brought in? How many people on the street come up to you and say "Did you hear what Mike Catan said on the radio today...what an entertaining show."

There's been at least 10 posts on this comment board selectively calling out Mike Catan. If you are his friend, you're not doing him any favors. It's looks like a desperate attempt for some pub.

Anonymous said...

Mike who?

Anonymous said...

To poster #2: All I know is, after work if I want to get straight talk about SPORTS---and not what Triv had for lunch, or how many poker hands he's won---WKNR is where I turn, hands down. Those meely-mouths at WTAM cowtow to the teams on their station (when they bother to talk sports).

And post-game for the Cavs, for instance, Catan's show is tops. Mike Snyder is just soft & boring. Catan lays it out like it is. Don't really know what you couple negative guys have against him, but unwax your ears and wake up to one of the best sportstalkers I've heard in this town. What? You want Kendall Lewis or Sindelar back??! Ha ha ha. Talk about blowhard windbags with no substance!

Anyway, I trust Karmazin to evaluate his current talent and put a quality lineup on the air, in spite of the few jerks here who think they know "everything about everything."

Anonymous said...

"WKNR has MUCH going for it right now...with Brinda, Rome & Roda."???

Mike Catan "a huge asset"???

Sweet mother of mary, I've heard it all now. What do you do for fun after turning WKNR off? Watch paint dry?

Anonymous said...

I KNOW I will get flamed here for this, but here goes... I like Mike Catan. He's the best of the young litter of staffers (or as Roger Brown called them, "WKNR's Young, Underpaid Staffers") at the station, and had been ever since they let Andre Knott get away. Ideally, he's best for the 7p-10p slot.

The High School show, along with the other speciality shows, are durable enough to be moved to WWGK. I can see it on 1540 from 9a-11a on Saturday, followed by WKNR's existing boxing and fantasy foot/base shows. The golf show(s) can go on Sundays from 9a-11a, followed by Pro Football Weekly and any WW1-related content.

That's another advantage of having a sister station like WWGK in your hands. The lesser-tiered specality shows can land there, and also can be lightly used as an "incubator" for any new talent (though not as liberally as WKNR had done so in the past two years, which I didn't like that much...)

I do disagree with the comments about WKNR being a "true sports power..." Salem Communications did its' damn (ha!) best to ruin the station, as they never were in any position to run it in the first place. Severe budget cuts, hiring bad programmers (the WGPD), diminshing the on-air sound and imaging of the station, and essentally RELYING on the young pups like Catan, Sabo, Gibbs, etc. - I rest my case. I'd even make an argument that they should still be at AM/1220 - not a good argument, but an argument nonetheless...

Craig has a lot to work with to clean up the mess Salem left him behind. It's obviously clear that he wants the listener to play a real role in helping him out. That's the attitude that should be used...

- Nathan Obral

Mike Catan said...

Bring back Bruce Drennan

comrex hater said...

i just hope if they keep roda, they keep him in the studio. those everyday live broadcasts were obnixous.

Anonymous said...

Good point about the "live remotes" from Shooters, etc... They do lessen the quality of a daily talk-show, given all of the on-site distractions. Callers are 2nd bananas. Also agree that Salem did nothing to help WKNR, from letting the Tribe slip away (maybe no choice, due to signal), to subjecting it to a low-power frequency (850 instead of the much-better 1220 signal).

And yet, in spite of Salem, WKNR is still the premiere TALK SHOW station in this market. You want Rome? They got him. You want local? They got it. You want niche shows (me? not so much). They got 'em. It's sad that so many readers would prefer to just trash the station, rather than recognize its strengths. And those "young guns" that reader referred to are much more appealing than listening to Triv or Schwab's "Donald Duck" impression. Keane is tolerable, but that's late-night. WKNR services the listener throughout the day, and I, for one, have always appreciated that.

Anonymous said...


No, your station has been 17th in the ratings for a decade. It has not moved vertically at all. Nobody cares about the daily happenings at KNR. You have uneducated, unqualified OCB graduates running the's an embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

The station's been in and or around the 15-20 place range dating to when Jacor took the Indians rights away. Prior to that, WKNR usually was in the 5-10 place range, if not lower (WMJI was already asserting its' dominance in the market, WGAR was already a major player, and WWWE floundered with "hot talk" experimentation.)

I guess they had usually ranked well in specific demographics, but that was before Salem threw it all away in 2004.

Reason was obvious: having the Indians and Browns rights (OSU games were still on WHK). The Indians 95-97 run was a real winner - how else can you explain WHY WKNR had to overbid WTAM for the rights?

What really knocked the station down was several things: 1) the lack of a consistent morning show, (in fact, it was so bad they went to Imus in 1997) plus their programming philosophy REALLY paled in comparison to WHK's.

Jacor's emaciation of the station when they took it over in 1998, the three ownership changes (Jacor, Capstar/AMFM, and Salem) in two years that the Free Times likened to "a bad case of mono," and Salem's continuious mismanagement (ie, placing brokered shows on WKNR with the 850 move that pretty much destroyed the Saturday lineup) also has contributed to WKNR's current state.

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

Great thinking. Take calls and ask listeners what they want. That's not research. That's a young, ego driven owner going on the air to show the world who's boss. No one cares about him. If you wanna do real research, qualify the folks you're talking to. The only people Craiger talked to are already listening. Perhaps he should find out why about 98% of the city doesn't. Duh.