WKNR Changes

We’ve heard the rumors, but AllAccess makes it official today: Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850” Cleveland producer, anchor and reporter Bernard Bokenyi is no longer working at the station.

The radio trade site says Bokenyi, one of Good Karma boss Craig Karmazin’s first two hires for his Cleveland operation, left the station on Friday. Bokenyi was originally hired for Good Karma’s WWGK/1540, now “Cleveland’s AM 1540, KNR2”, which started before Karmazin bought sports talk mainstay WKNR from Salem.

Bokenyi came to the station along with Aaron Goldhammer, who’s now WKNR’s assistant program director, along with being producer/sidekick for mid-morning host Tony Rizzo.

The AllAccess report doesn’t say who will replace Bokenyi.

But we have a good idea who it’ll be.

After pressing our ears to the wall of the newsstand next to the WKNR studios at the Galleria, OMW hears it’s been officially announced: Metro Networks afternoon update anchor Daryl Ruiter will make the move downtown, and will take much of Bokenyi’s work load – including the production of “ESPN 850″‘s afternoon drive show with Mark “Munch” Bishop.

We hear Daryl starts at WKNR a week from next Monday…

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Losing Tony – The Third Time

UPDATE: WARF has already posted a new schedule, with 1-4 PM host Dan Patrick moving to a new live clearance from 9-noon, and new SNR addition “The 2 Live Stews” airing from 1-4 PM…both changes starting next Monday…

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Clear Channel sports talk WARF/1350 Akron “SportsRadio 1350” could be the only sports radio station in America which has lost talk show host Tony Bruno for the third time.

Via AllAccess: Sporting News Radio has officially announced Bruno’s departure from the network’s midday slot – retroactively to his last show on January 18th.

Bruno will reportedly remain with the network for “special projects” the next couple of months, but he’s done his last radio show for SNR. AllAccess reports that weekenders Bob Berger and Bob Stelton, along with evening host Arnie Spanier, are among the fill-ins until a permanent decision is made on Bruno’s time slot.

And yes, Akron’s 1350 has aired Bruno’s national radio show in all of its incarnations.

The station was “ESPN 1350” when Bruno aired on ESPN Radio, and the then-WTOU picked him up again with its network change to FOX Sports Radio.

Of course, 1350 then flipped to liberal talk as “Radio Free Ohio”, but returned as a sports station with Sporting News Radio – by then, Bruno’s new radio home.

All three times, Bruno left his network employer while he was airing on 1350.

What’s next…the “Sports Byline” network?

The CC Sale And Northeast Ohio

What’s been “topic number one” in Northeast Ohio radio-land the past few days doesn’t concern the debut of a new co-host this morning on CBS Radio AC WDOK/102.1 “Soft Rock 102.1”.

It’s not Craig Karmazin’s latest move in his Sports Radio Empire, sort of headquartered these days at the Galleria in downtown Cleveland – depending on where Mr. Karmazin hangs his hat most of the year.

No, it’s something that hasn’t even happened yet.

Various trade publications last week reported the official word that the FCC has OK’ed the transfer of Clear Channel Communications (PDF file link) to two private equity firms – Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners. The move means only the Federal Trade Commission’s approval stands between the deal and its consummation sometime later this year.

You might recall that Clear Channel proposed sending a number of stations into the “Aloha Trust”, a third-party that would eventually have to sell the stations marked.

One of those stations was the company’s top 40 WAKS/96.5 Akron “Kiss FM”, which operates out of the Clear Channel Cleveland World Domination HQ at Oak Tree.

Well, with the FCC approval, the commission put a condition on it – a certain number of stations will indeed have to be transferred to that trust for eventual sale to another owner.

And as you can see in this list compiled by RadioInsight.com’s Lance Venta – look! There’s WAKS! (The list is taken from Appendix B of the FCC’s order, in the PDF linked above.)

Also on the list are two of the company’s Dayton area stations, and some southeast Ohio stations once tabbed for sale to the now-deceased “GoodRadio.TV LLC” effort, which will have to be sold to SOMEONE.

We’re not just in the theoretical, anymore. The folks at Oak Tree will have to get WAKS off the ownership books to be sold, to comply with the FCC’s wishes.

Or will they?

Some rumblings we heard floating out of Oak Tree, onto the wind and into our ears, say that Clear Channel may – or may not – sell the WAKS facility specifically. The feeling there is that if one of the other current five FM holdings out of Oak Tree were to get a larger price, they’d sell that station instead.

How the formats would shuffle out is anyone’s guess. The low stations on the Format Change Speculation Totem Pole are usually hot AC WMVX/106.5, and rock WMMS/100.7.

But even classic hits WMJI/105.7 could be in play, if John Lanigan’s latest reported on-air chatter about not signing another contract turns into reality. The conventional wisdom there is that 105.7 could become just about anything format-wise without “Lanigan and Malone” to hold it up in morning drive.

Who’s out there buying? That could be a big problem for Clear Channel.

CBS doesn’t have any room for a fifth FM, and CC wouldn’t likely sell it to their primary in-market competitor. Radio One has room, but do they have the cash? The company is said to not be doing very well nationally, though Cleveland is a good market for them – with popular WZAK/93.1 and WENZ/107.9 leading the way. And again, would CC sell?

Salem also has been selling more than buying, and with a full-market FM signal running its “Fish” format already, what would they do with a second? Salem’s three core formats are represented with decent signals in Cleveland – 95.5, 1220 and 1420 – and Salem doesn’t strike us as a company that would buy prime real estate on the FM dial for top dollar.

As for other possibilities, the sold station would be a single FM, which means unless someone picked up one or two other signals from other operators, it doesn’t make sense for the usual players, even those who aren’t here already.

Entercom is one of those, but we doubt they’d enter the Cleveland market with a solo FM.

And some speculate that Good Karma’s Craig Karmazin gets involved here.

Well, his AM holdings (specifically WKNR/850) are a direct competitor to Clear Channel’s WTAM/1100. Do you think CC wants to sell him a powerful FM signal where he can run his sports programming against their big AM talk/sports outlet?

And if CC is – as we’ve mentioned – rumored to be selling whatever signal gets it the most money…would that big FM stick be too rich for Mr. Karmazin’s money? Even if CC agreed to sell it to him?

He doesn’t have many full-signal stations. His FM sports talker in Madison is a class A rimshot from Columbus WI, which is in the process of being moved into the heart of the market. His FM rocker in that market is a class A rimshot from southern end of the market.

We have no evidence that Good Karma is interested in – or can even afford – a full-market class B FM signal in a market like Cleveland. WKNR was the company’s very first full-market, full-time AM signal in a top 30 market.

Then, there’s the Akron Situation.

WAKS/96.5 is licensed to Akron. It’s the former home of WKDD, of course, the 2008 version of which now resides on 98.1 Canton.

Assuming CC can’t get “top dollar” for “lakefront” property with one of the other Cleveland FM stations, could 96.5 basically be moved back down to Akron, returning the station to its historic home just to get it off the books?

And could a 96.5 signal downgraded back into Akron – presumably from its former tower next to WCUE/1150 on Bellaire Road – satisfy the commission by being transferred to Freedom Avenue, on CC’s Akron/Canton books?

Probably not, due to the general definition of the area market, but we’re throwing it out there. We don’t know the answers to pretty much all these questions, even in Rumorland.

For now, with WAKS tabbed to go into the Aloha Trust…we presume the folks at Oak Tree will continue to program and run it as they do now, until whenever the station goes out of the company…or if another of the Oak Tree FMs is sold instead in the required effort to reduce the company’s ownership stake in the Cleveland market.

There are a lot of other questions here, and nearly all of the above is pure speculation. But since everyone else is talking about it…why not us?

Furman Resurfaces

It’s not a full-time sports talk show, but long-time Cincinnati radio sports voice Andy Furman has landed a new gig.

Starting Monday, Furman will deliver one minute weekday commentaries on Cincinnati oldies outlet WDJO/1160 “Oldies 1160”, during the morning drive show with Dusty Rhodes.

The station’s website would seem to indicate that he’ll opine on a broader scale:

Andy Furman talks about more than just sports! Listen Monday morning at 7:55 to find out what he knows, and what his opinion is!!

Cincinnati Enquirer radio/TV guru John Kiesewetter reports that the job sprang directly from Kiese’s own story last Sunday in the newspaper, where Furman lamented that his radio career was over, and had decided to not pursue radio jobs in other markets, since he wanted to stay in town.

“Oldies 1160″‘s Rodger Kay saw the story, then got in touch with Furman.

Andy Furman’s best known, of course, for his lengthy stint hosting “SportsTalk” on Clear Channel talk WLW/700 “The Big One”. After he was let go, he bounced back in afternoons on Cumulus talk WFTK/96.5 “SuperTalk FM”, a job which recently ended as the station dumped FM talk to become “96 Rock”…

BREAKING NEWS: WDOK Announces New Trapper Jack Co-Host

CBS Radio Cleveland AC WDOK/102.1 “Soft Rock 102.1” has filled the open chair left by the departure of long-time morning drive co-host Robin Benzle.

The station has announced that Terry Moir will join “Trapper Jack and the Morning Show” starting Monday, January 28th.

Quoting the station’s official release:

“Terry’s energy and passion for our business surpasses most that I’ve worked with over the years,” says Christopher Maduri, Senior Vice President and Market Manager for CBS RADIO’s four Cleveland stations. “Her talent and creativity are limitless and we are all confident that her joining Trapper and News Director Jim in the mornings will entertain our Greater Cleveland listening audience for years to come.”

Trapper Jack added, “Terry is such a positive person that she lifts every room she walks into. She’s fun, funny … and I’m absolutely thrilled she wants to come play with us.”

As she’s a radio novice, you might be wondering…Terry WHO?

Moir is the Director of Programming and Sales Marketing for Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3, a job she’s had for 10 years…after an 18 year stint at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5.

And she’ll still be WKYC’s programming boss. She’s not leaving 13th and Lakeside, according to the WDOK release:

Joining the ranks of individuals like Ryan Seacrest and Whoopi Goldberg who host morning shows on radio and then continue their day elsewhere, Terry will also continue in her position at TV-3.

We’ll have any more as we find out…

More On Milwaukee

A quick follow to the item about Good Karma’s Craig Karmazin and his purchase of Salem Christian talk WRRD/540 in the Milwaukee market…

The price Good Karma has now been revealed, thanks to FCC filings…$3.8 million.

And some more details are being made known.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel now reports
rumblings that Salem is selling its other station in Milwaukee, CCM outlet WFZH/105.3 “The Fish”, to the folks at Educational Media Foundation (“K-Love”).

That would answer a question we had – why would Salem sell a station with its core format, Christian teaching/talk? The answer: assuming the news about its FM outlet is true, Salem sees Milwaukee as an underperforming market, and is getting out entirely.

And the Journal-Sentinel article has another tidbit of information about Craig Karmazin’s plans for what has become a two station Milwaukee cluster:

He notes that he’s had a number of calls in recent days from folks interested in buying the station (WAUK). But it’s not on the market.

“Like any asset in the world, I’m sure there’s a price,” he says. “But it’s not something I’m looking to sell.”

Right now, potential formats for WAUK run the gamut from liberal talk to Spanish-language sports, to brokered programming – that is, airtime purchased by individuals or groups, like churches.

“Anything would be a possibility,” he says.

We’re kinda shaking our heads at that potential format list – which we assume was drawn up by Tim Cuprisin on his own, without help from Mr. Karmazin.

If we had to bet a spare $10 bill, we’d put it on Craig doing with WAUK what he’s done with his original daytime station here in Cleveland, positioning it as a second, mainly syndicated sports talk outlet to his new primary station in Milwaukee – “ESPN 540”. Perhaps it becomes “ESPN 1510”?

This news affects what we’ve talked about here in two places.

First, now that we know Salem is selling out of Milwaukee (“EVERYTHING MUST GO!”), a similar scenario here – where Good Karma would buy the former home of WKNR, AM 1220 – wouldn’t likely happen unless Salem sold out of Cleveland as a whole.

With its three core formats fully represented here, and just having taken money from Mr. Karmazin for its second best signal in the market, we doubt that’s happening.

Second, well, Educational Media Foundation is on the prowl, looking to add another market to its reach by taking advantage of Salem’s apparent exit from Milwaukee to add a full-market signal for its “K-Love” format.

That would tend to make us wonder about its role in the future of Clear Channel country WCKY-FM/103.7 “103-7 CKY” in Tiffin, which was the one station left out of the announced sale of CC’s Findlay/Tiffin and Sandusky stations to BAS Broadcasting.

Is EMF looking to fill a signal hole in Toledo, where it owns western rimshot K-Love outlet WNKL/96.9 Wauseon?

And would it pay to move 103.7 up closer to Toledo? There’s really not a LOT of room to do so, if any, and an outfit like EMF may be OK even with the current rimshot signal from the south – which does a “decent enough” job on car radios in areas where 96.9 has problems.

There are also rumblings that other local owners may be looking at 103.7, though we don’t know who would fit that bill…

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…