That WKNR Fallout

When Good Karma sports WKNR/850 Cleveland “ESPN 850” makes one of its “major announcements”, there’s always a follow up, and there’s no exception in this case.

The most detail comes from Crain’s Cleveland Business, where an article by the paper’s Joel Hammond showed up on the paper’s website at 9:01 AM Wednesday – two and a half hours before WKNR announced “Cleveland Browns Daily” on “The Really Big Show” with Tony Rizzo.

(For that matter, the Browns sent out their press release shortly thereafter, and only personal, off-blog logistics prevented us from posting our own item Wednesday morning.)

For one, the NFL’s on-going labor situation could affect the start date of the new show. Hammond quotes Browns senior VP/business development Jim Ross:

“Our hope is the season starts as scheduled and we’d start the show later this summer,” he said. “But it’s fluid. We’re not going to ignore what’s going on with the labor situation. If it looks like it will be extended for a long time, we might alter our plans. But absent that, we plan to launch this summer.”

We had heard that the show was originally offered to the Browns flagships, Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7 and talk WTAM/1100, but they were unwilling to pre-empt their drive-time and other sports programming (Indians, Cavaliers, etc.), which Ross does confirm to Crain’s:

Mr. Ross said the team spoke with Clear Channel Communications, the parent company of the Browns’ flagship radio station, WTAM-AM 1100, about the show. But the Browns wanted the prime 6 p.m. time slot, and WTAM — with the Mike Trivosonno Show and Cavaliers and Indians programming — could not offer it.

And presumably, pre-empting the last hour of WMMS’ “Alan Cox Show” was not in the cards as well. (And yes, we know the article misspelled Triv’s last name.)

The show definitely appears to be a Cleveland Browns production, with the team hiring veteran NFL journalist Vic Carucci to host, using its radio team of Jim Donovan, Doug Dieken and Jamir Howerton, and the like…not to mention the fact that the show does not feature a single WKNR on-air staffer.

But is it a brokered show?

Ross says, no, not directly…once again, quoting the Crain’s Cleveland Business article:

Mr. Ross said he could not reveal particulars of the deal’s financials, though he did say that the Browns were not simply buying the air time and then controlling ad sales. “It’s a partnership; we both have some risk and opportunities,” he said.

But the team is definitely driving this team bus, if you will…and one wonders if WKNR is providing anything but the transmitter here.

And how will a prominent Cleveland Browns team presence on WKNR affect how the station’s on-air staff treats the team? It’s easy if the Browns are on a winning roll (assuming the NFL season starts up, of course).

But if the Browns go 0-12, can the station’s hosts rip the team? Can “The Really Big Show” go after Browns president Mike Holmgren? Can “Negative Ned” (Chris Fedor) go all negative on the Browns if the team falters?

We’ll see.

Meanwhile, SportsNewser, part of the MediaBistro network of blogs, catches up with Vic Carucci:

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity,” Carucci said. “You’re talking about a franchise with such a rich history and some of the most passionate fans in all of sports. The radio show is an ideal platform to interact with them on a daily basis. The other very attractive part of this job is being able to work with one of the true legends of the game in Mike Holmgren and with the highly talented front-office team that he has put together. Everything about this organization is first class.”

Carucci is a respected NFL journalist, with two newspaper beat reporter stints under his belt before joining NFL.com…and we’re pretty sure NFL.com writers are under the same arrangement as those for MLB.com, operating independently of the league.

Carucci makes his own announcement, in his final column for NFL.com, here:

Although my primary focus will be on the Browns, I’ll regularly address league-wide issues. The Browns also plan to have me at all of the major events on the NFL calendar. From that standpoint, things aren’t going to necessarily feel all that different. The Browns are one of 32 spokes on the NFL wheel. As one league executive put it so eloquently upon learning of my new gig, “We’re all still in the same hotel, just in different rooms.”

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