Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Craig's Milwaukee Upgrade

Craig Karmazin, who owns sports talker WKNR/850 "ESPN 850" and sister WWGK/1540 "KNR2" in Cleveland, has been a little busy in one of his other markets.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that his Good Karma Broadcasting is moving its sports talk format in that market to a new, full-time signal, as it picks up Salem Christian talk/teaching WRRD/540.

Good Karma's ESPN-based sports talk format in Milwaukee is currently housed at daytimer WAUK/1510 Waukesha, with a second nighttime home at local urban talk outlet WMCS/1290. The combo is promoted as "ESPN Milwaukee - 1510 Days, 1290 Nights". The format will simulcast on 540 AM starting in mid-February, and eventually, 1510 will get a second, currently unknown format. ("AM 1510, ESPN Milwaukee2" anyone?)

The move, aside from giving the station a 24 hour presence on one frequency, is apparently also driven by the impending loss of the nighttime time brokering deal with WMCS, which Milwaukee's Business Journal reports ends at the end of this year.

OMW readers, of course, know that Craig Karmazin has done business with Salem before, in his purchase of WKNR.

While speculation is likely to mount here, we wouldn't expect him to do something like, well, buy Salem's big-signaled WHKW/1220 "The Word", the company's home of the Christian talk/teaching format here in Northeast Ohio - and the original home of the WKNR sports format now on 850.

Salem very, very rarely sells its talk/teaching outlets. The format is the very core of its business plan, and the reason the company exists. We wonder if they're doing so in Milwaukee because of another shoe no one has hinted about yet, perhaps the purchase of an FM station up there where they can land the teaching/talk format.

We would expect a repeat of this move in Cleveland only IF Salem were to somehow land a full-market FM signal - or a reasonably good rimshot - for the current "Word" format, or if Salem somehow falls apart financially, and has to start selling signals.

Good Karma's new signal in Milwaukee sounds like it's a small one...just 400 watts, directional, which is less than half the company's WWGK/1540 down here.

But 540 AM is an amazing frequency. At the very, very low end of the AM dial, 400 watts gives WRRD coverage that may even be better than a high-band 5,000 watt station...


74WIXYgrad said...

So let's see. Clear Channel could sell one of their underperforming FMs to Salem who, in turn sells 1220 to Good Karma, which would leave them having to sell 1540 to someone. Make it Saga Communications who would bring the WIXY call letters with them, swap with Radio Disney and park the call letters at 1260 where they belong.

Of course this is just speculation on my part.

Tim Lones said...

The Milwaukee/Oshkosh area is home to a large Non commercial broadcast ministry, VCY America, whose flagsship stations are WVCY-AM 690 and FM 107.7..They are similar to Moody Radio except slightly more conservative..It may be that Salem felt they couldnt compete with VCY and decided to cut its losses there..

VCY America Website:

johnstonteam said...

On the last earnings call, Salem's president stated he was spending a lot of time looking at under performing stations and markets. Cleveland has been discussed in those calls as an under performing market. So it wouldn't surprise me to see them shed some additional properties here.

yekimi said...

WIXY call letters are being used by an FM station {country, no less} in Champaign, Illinois. I guess they could legal ID it as WIXY-AM and bring them back but outside of a few baby boomers, I don't think anyone would get the significance.

yekimi said...

Which brings to mind: what other area call letters now reside elsewhere?

WDBN [now WQMX]-Medina/Akron, now in Wrightsville, GA.

WWWE [now WTAM]-Cleveland, now in Hapeville, GA.

WDMT [now WENZ]-Cleveland, now in Pittston, PA

Those are a few that came to mind, I am sure there are others.

Scott said...

The WRMR calls just got assigned to a new noncommercial FM on Long Island last week.

Daniel said...

The WGCL calls (Station is now WNCX) are now on Channel 46 in Atlanta.

Tim Lones said...

This could be a stretch, but the former KYW-1100 TV 3 Cleveland call letters have been on AM-1060 and Channel 3 Philadelphia since June 1965..

Anonymous said...

The WPHR calls (once Power 108/Cleveland) are now on a station in Albany, NY.

James said...

The WWWE in GA is also on 1100 and WPHR is actually in Auburn, NY. That is near Syracuse.