Tuesday, February 27, 2007

WKNR Folo: No Brainer

But first, this breaking news...a computer virus has found its way into the computers at Good Karma sports WKNR/850 in Cleveland!

It has apparently infected the computer automation system at WKNR, re-populating the on-air system with items voiced by former WKNR program director Michael Luczak.

"W32.Luczak.KNR"'s first damage was heard Tuesday night, during the opening of WKNR's pre-game broadcast for the Cleveland State Vikings basketball contest. OMW hears that Good Karma Virus Removal technicians are frantically applying anti-virus updates to stem the infection.

OK, enough joking here.

After all those changes to Cleveland's once-lagging sports talk radio station this week, we kept thinking of two words: "no brainer".

By this point in time, one Mr. Craig Karmazin - the "young guy" in charge of the Good Karma sports radio empire - has had enough ownership experience to know What Needed To Be Done(tm).

And just about everything he's done fits a pattern that pretty much anyone with a certain amount of radio experience could have done:

THE IMAGING CHANGE: Just the mere use of iconic sports radio voice Paul Turner makes WKNR sound ten times more professional. It's something that should have been done years ago, but we suppose Mr. Luczak had to do something to keep himself busy...

RIZZO ON THE RADIO: That is, the addition of FOX 8 sports anchor and experienced sports talk radio host Tony Rizzo to the daily lineup. It fits an established and successful sports radio pattern - TV sports anchors host local radio talk shows all over the country, including on Good Karma's own sister station in Milwaukee. And in this case, Rizzo is no radio novice, and comes with a built-in following...

LOCAL SPORTS TALK AT NIGHT: The move of Greg Brinda into the 6-9 PM time slot provides the station with another shot at a ready sports audience, though it's a tough climb against actual sports play-by-play - and an established local sports talk show - on Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100.

But as a whole, it "extends" WKNR's hours into the awareness of sports fans who follow games at night, and provides a smooth platform to go into the station's locally-produced post-game shows for the Indians and Cavaliers, not to mention sports events like Ohio State and Cleveland State basketball that actually air on the station.

Those, and other changes, were very basic.

Mr. Karmazin has hinted at this on the air, saying the changes were "the first step" in the revamping of a long-dormant sports talk radio station, and that if future changes are needed, he'll make them.

Our sense: He'll see how the revamped lineup and sound, and other changes, affect listenership.

But he's not afraid to change "mid-stream".

After he got settled in at WKNR sister station WAUK/1510 "ESPN Milwaukee", Karmazin almost literally jumped at the chance to lure Milwaukee's biggest sports radio name - Steve "The Homer" True - from Clear Channel talk WISN/1130, after that station basically exiled him to late nights to add Sean Hannity's nationally syndicated talk show.

He managed to bring True over, despite the fact that his primary Milwaukee signal is a daytime outlet - and the nighttime clearance provided by leased time on WMCS/1290 doesn't cover hours before 6 PM, which means the afternoon drive show goes off the air (at least in Milwaukee) early in the winter hours.

We're not suggesting that Karmazin is making a shopping list with anyone from, say, WTAM on the list. The station doesn't have an equivalent to Milwaukee's "Homer", in our opinion. But... he's clearly on the lookout for talent improvement.

The true test of Mr. Karmazin's WKNR ownership will come when he is prompted to make decisions that aren't "no brainers"...

Semi-related: OMW has heard from Paul Belfi, who runs formerly-WKNR-connected sports talk website SportsTalkCleveland.com. He weighs in on the changes...

I am ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED to see what is happening with WKNR. There are many people that work there that I consider friends - obviously Kenny Roda and I are best friends to this day. And in all honesty, I was nervous about what was going to happen there.

I know Kenny is excited about the changes, and the move downtown.

I've always been a Tony Rizzo fan as well - he's priceless and cracks me up. He is a fan first, and I respect that.

I am very pleased that some of the rumors of Greg's 'demise' were just that - rumors. He's a friend as well, and I think 6-9 will be great for him.

Even though I own STC - I am a different media platform than radio, obviously. And at the end of the day, I am a sports fan and a sports talk junkie. As such, what WKNR is doing is nothing but a positive for the Cleveland sports fans, and I wish them nothing but the best.

Belfi tells us that former WKNR host Kendall Lewis is staying aboard as midday host at SportsTalkCleveland.com, along with his new gig as co-host of FSN Ohio's "Cleveland Rants" with WKNR fill-in Les Levine.

He also tells us he's "happy" for ex-WKNR host Bruce Drennan's apparently in-the-works deal to host a show on SportsTime Ohio.

But will Drennan return to STC? Says Belfi:

I look to Bruce as a mentor, and I have nothing but respect and a high regard for him as a broadcaster - and more importantly, as a friend. I am not sure if he will be able to continue with us at STC when he is back. He is welcome to, and I would love to have him here, but the decision will be his. Either way, I am fine with it. He's gone through a lot, and deserves some peace of mind.

One other thought came to mind when we were talking about Karmazin's Milwaukee signal situation.

The Good Karma boss has solved his signal problem in Cleveland by buying powerful 24 hour outlet WKNR. Or has he?

We wonder if he's satisfied with his second signal, daytimer WWGK/1540, now called "KNR2". If the station will act as an overflow for WKNR programming, how useful can that be with a daytime signal - particularly with a lot of sporting events taking place at night?

We have gone into the "Why 1540 Can't Go 24 Hours" discussion many times. But we wonder if Karmazin is STILL interested in other options for that WKNR sister station.

We've heard nothing. It's just a thought...


Anonymous said...

Big freakin' deal! All the hoopla about WKNR. Mike-n-Mike should never have been taken off the air. Greg Brenda should not even be working in Cleveland. It's about time they had a decent talker from 10-to-noon. These are all average moves that should have been made long ago. Nothing, revolutionary, innovative, or even interesting. Just average! Radio in Cleveland must really stink when we get excited about AVERAGE!

Ohio Media Watch said...

Well, we do talk a lot about news/talk/sports radio here.

But...you've provided us with an opening to do something we've talked about here.

We'd like to know: What SHOULD Mr. Karmazin do at WKNR that he has not done?

Be specific.

Don't just say he should do something "innovative" or "revolutionary". Provide us with suggestions.

Name names. Who should WKNR hire instead of Greg Brinda, Kenny Roda or other maligned regular station hosts?

If you don't have any names, give thoughts as to what KIND of host the station should hire.

For each item we've put up about WKNR's changes, we've gotten a steady dose of criticism aimed at the station.

What would YOU do if you were Craig Karmazin, and had control of both AM 850 and AM 1540?

Weigh in, here. If we don't get enough response to this, we'll modify the original item with this invitation.

-The Management

Anonymous said...

Mr. Good Karma, can you please eliminate the "dinosaur rock" that the station plays when it goes into and comes out of commercials?

And secondly, can you limit the over-production of company promos (i.e. the echoes and repetitions)?

Thank you. I'm excited about the changes.

Anonymous said...

Suggestion #1:

MUST go local in the morning. Cannot take the station seriously with syndication in drive-time. Best option: Mike Catan and whoever. Let them do what they do best, talk sports frankly and interestingly. Make it a 6-9 show, and extend Rizzo from 9-noon.

Any chance of flip-flopping power with 1220, like the old days? WKNR #1 could use a better signal after 6pm. Needless to say, KNR2 (or K2, as I'm sure CK wants it known by) needs to swap signals with anyone if we're ever to hear it. Cut a deal with WAKR...just do something!!

Anonymous said...

Mike Catan----WHO?

Anonymous said...

espncleveland.com - a confusing mess...they combine both staffs from each frequency on one page, another focuses solely on 1540 still, their poll NEVER works, etc.

Keep TWO sites for the TWO stations, Craig! If you HAVE to combine them, differentiate the two better on the site!

Anonymous said...

Craig needs to bring in some FRESH talent... there are some young, intelligent broadcasters lurking in or around the market looking for gigs - either a first shot or a step up... Craig would be wise to be open to bringing in some of these people and at least listening to what they have to offer... he should also give the in-house guys a shot to do some weekend work - theres no need to take away all the air time that the old saturday hosts had, just reallocate them to Saturday afternoons or Sundays where KNR has no local shows... also, a local morning show is probably a lost cause at this point because of the agreement with espn... finally, bring in Chuck Booms and pair him w/ Roda - he's just the spark Happy Hour needs to jolt Kenny from being stale to being a more witty and entertaining show...

Anonymous said...

I suppose we'll just hear the same old crap about football, basketball, baseball, hockey...why not talk about soccer, wrestling [not that WWE garbage], high school sports, etc? And if there are any Canadian listeners maybe something about curling.....

VODood said...

re: Paul Turner

Turner is the longtime VO for Howard Stern's terrestrial programs, and was the VO for WNCX for some years.

Turner started out in Tampa at WFLZ/The Power Pig. Also at that station now reknowned VO talent Brian James. And two Cleveland connections...former WGCL/G98 Production Director and national VO talent Bumper Morgan www.bumpermorgan.com as well as Ernie Anderson.

Bumper was the promo VO for The Pig and Ernie Anderson the Liner VO. Later Bumper would become the Liner VO and James, from KRBE/Houston, would be the promo VO.

*Bumper was also the VO at Y107/Nashville. Both Y107 and WFLZ were programmed by Marc Chase, now SRVP Programming for Clear Channel.

Anyway, as the story goes Turner worked in Continuity/Traffic. Was there a few years before he was allowed to try voicing tags and spots. Too funny, a guy with those pipes! Of course he wasn't as refined as he is now.

Bumper Morgan was the VO for WMJI 1998-2004. He replaced JR Nelson who was ill at the time and couldn't do any VO for a few months.

The present WMJI VO? NO clue.. but he's terrible. Makes no impact. Sounds like a regular person.. disappears into the station. No branding quality.

Former Jacor/CC CEO Randy Michaels, who I have giving a testimonial on an old Bumper demo, once said that a station Voice is as important as the music and talent. All about identity and branding.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time we here in Cleveland get to "MUNCH" on soprts? A perfect fit with the OSU ties KNR has.

Anonymous said...

Please, no more "Munch". We have enough rank amateurs on Cleveland's air.

I like the suggestion of pairing Booms with Roda.

And, instead of Brinda ("i, well, unh, shhhhhhshhh...ahhhhh"), how about someone more in the old Pete Franklin mode. That is, an in-your-face, tell-it-like-I-see-it, fearless type willing to give anyone a hard time. Obviously, that individual has to keep totally up-to-date on sports to retain any credibility.

Sports talk in this market is bland and boring because there isn't anyone with the on-air guts that made Franklin a success. The classic statement that was often heard about Franklin was, "I hate him. He's loud, obnxious and rude, and I should know because I LISTEN TO HIM EVERY NIGHT.

That's what WKNR needs.


SportsBoyTony said...

Munch is an amateur? Umm, no. You should listen to him do a pre-game show for the Buckeyes on 610 in Columbus. He knows every high school player in the state of ohio, he can talk about every OSU/Michigan game in the history of the rivalry. He's entertaining, he doesn't pander to OSU. He has more energy on the radio then ANYONE.

Munch is the man.

Anonymous said...

I guess things have changed for some daytime only operations. 1540 am was on-the-air until 7pm last night. It used to be that during this time of year they would be signing of at 5:15 or maybe 5:30 pm. Does that mean they will be on-the-air until 11 pm during the summer? Do they lower power or go more directional after official sundown?

I would think their would be one sales staff that would sell ad time for both stations. Would combo sales be effective where the advertiser buys WKNR and for a little extra gets added exposure on KNR-2?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment about giving new talent a chance.
But there doesn't seem to be a very large pool of young talent who want to go into radio as their career today.
In talking with young people interested in broadcasting/entertainment, I find they are very much aware that the changes of the last ten years have severely limited the opportunities to make a decent living in radio alone.
They are opting for TV, cable, satellite and internet exposure first, as they feel these are areas where the chances to make it are more realistic.
They talk of radio as an adjunct later in their careers, after they have established themselves in another media.
They do not believe that starting in radio will get them anywhere they want to be.
Are they right?

Anonymous said...

Yes, they are certainly correct. The changes of the past 20 years have forced out a number of us who loved the profession. There are precious few jobs in radio that pay a living wage.

And as for Munch, memorizing numbers and yelling at the mic do not a professional make. He's a very nice fellow, but there was a time when people like that never got beyond college radio. Unfortunately, there aren't going to be many true pro's anymore since there are so few jobs and so few pro's able to set a good example.

It's a shame.

Radio Insider said...

Changes at WKNR:
1) For the love of all humanity please Dump Greg Brinda with all his sighing and stuttering(Sorry OMW Not trying to be mean I just can't stand listening to him)
2)Roda and Rizzo are a good pair in afternoons and mid mornings.
3) Put a local morning show on WKNR. Why not Chuck Booms or Les Levine in that timeslot. Anything but Mike/Mike they are just unbearable to listen too.
4) Give the young guys talk shows on the weekend. Why not groom some new talent for the future?
5)ABSOLUTELY NO BRUCE DRENNAN! He makes Greg Brinda listenable.
6)On KNR2 why not just make that station all Fox Sports Radio? Since 850 is now ESPN.
7)Give someone else a chance in the 6pm-9pm night slot.

Anonymous said...

To give the KNR/KNR2 talk a reality check...

I actually think that Craig Karmazin is happy with his frequencies.

KNR is his main station, make no doubt about it. And he is loading all of his "A" material on 850.

Mike and Mike is ESPN's flagship show, and Jim Rome is a mainstay in the afternoons, so those are KNR's "Franchise" shows and they go nowhere.

1540 serves a purpose, because shows that have their followings, but aren't "A" shows (Czabe, Herd, Patrick, Myers) can go there and have an outlet in Cleveland and keep FSR and ESPN happy.

Les Levine isn't going to do daily radio. He has 2 daily TV shows (More Sports, Rants) keeping him busy, so the occasional Saturday show is the most you'll hear him on radio.

Kendall Lewis seems happy doing his webcast, plus he too will be doing Rants, so forget him doing non-Saturday radio as well.

Roda and Brinda must be doing something right, because they have been at KNR since the early 1220 days.

And any non OSU/CSU sports events that KNR carries will be provided by ESPN (MLB, NBA Playoffs, etc), so I don't see any conflicts.

So keep all of this stuff in mind before demanding all kinds of changes less than a week in to the "new era".

Anonymous said...

sGreg Brinda has been at WKNR since like 1992 and he is not doing something right. If you look at all the posts on here they are about 30 negative to 2 positive. As were many of the calls to Craig last Saturday. I am so happy Tony Rizzo is on in the morning now. People are tired of Brinda and want someone with a "FRESH" approach.

Anonymous said...

I am currently watching Mr. Graig Karmazin on the Les repeat on Time Warner at 11:00 p.m.... Best of luck to him and WKNR / KNR-2, but his love for Mike and Mike I can just not understand... Mike and Mike has to be one of the most boring morning shows I have ever heard... Yea, I know Mike Golic is a native Clevelander, and lived in Willowick (my current hometown), but their show puts me to sleep. After hearing Mike and Mike and then FSR's Steve Czaban, FSR's First Team is a thousand times better... Too bad 1540 bearly comes in where I live...

Anonymous said...

1. Only Chuck Matthews could turn all of this into an opportunity to slam Majic somehow. Dude, this has nothing to do with your previous employer, who their voice guy is now, why he sucks, etc. etc. etc.. All we need from you know is some fawning over Scott Howitt combined with the "Triv got him fired" conspiracy theory plugged in for good measure and your trademark remarks will be complete.

2. Brinda ain't THAT bad. And don't give me the "bad voice for radio" shpeel for the 4,589th time. Explain how that's even a relevent argument???

3. Someone said "who will be listening to Brinda from 6p-9p?? what kind of audience is THAT?" Tell that to Kevin Keane who entertains the sports crowd just fine every night. Tell that to Karamzin's inspiration station WIP/Philadelphia who has a live night AND overnight host!! Cleveland is a SPORTS CITY, it CAN SUPPORT THIS!!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad if Brinda's voice is fine with you, but I find it grating, along with all the stammers and pauses and self-interruptions.

By the way, how've Greg's ratings been over the years? Ever been in the top 5 in this market?

And Kevin Keane is "entertaining" people? I know of dozens of college freshman capable of better interviews then the fawning, gushing Keane. Typically his 45 second "questions" don't ask anything and leave the guest hanging with nothing to say in response.

I wonder how Kevin's ratings would be doing 6-9 on WKNR....

Anonymous said...

i will never understand why an interviewer will ask a question than put the interviewee's answer in the question. The interviewee never even has a chance to answer the question

Q "How was your curveball today, Charlie? I mean, it looked like it was going good in the middle innings and then kinda tapered off."
A: "it was good, but kinda tapered off late in the game."

Why even ask anything?

Anonymous said...

Trivisonno even says Keane is "unlistenable."

But that's pretty much like the pot calling the kettle black.

Pete Franklin was best said...

What a perfect pair in the evening on WTAM and WKNR Keane and Brinda you have Tweedledee and Tweedledum of radio. Pete Franklin has to be rolling in his grave hearing what sportstalk has degenerated into in his old stomping grounds

Anonymous said...

How can you not like the Bob Karlovec promos where he echoes himself and calls that great production? Join me for The wine and gold post game (repeat) We will have interviews(interviews)... etc. That has to be the worst promo I have ever heard on the radio. Thank you Craig for finally dumping the worlds greatest program director voice and putting a professional voice on WKNR.

Anonymous said...

The first team with Steve Czaban is ten thousand times better than this Vaudeville act of Mike/Mike. There are only two problems with WKNR right now. Mike/Mike and Greg Brinda. Which can easily be fixed. Put Steve Czaban back on in the morning and put on Geoff Sindelar instead of Greg Brinda in the evening. Night Crawlers is the name of his callers? Greg Brinda belongs on the Big Chuck and Lil John show as the new Art Lafredo.

Anonymous said...

It is fitting that Kevin Keane has amateur night on the radio because on his show its amateur night ever night