That Pesky FM Sports Rumor

We’ve talked about it on Twitter. We’ve posted about it on message boards. We’ve vaguely hinted about it here.

But with rumors once again floating around about CBS Radio converting one of its Cleveland FM stations to a sports station, is it about to happen?

It may be, says Radio-Info.com columnist Tom Taylor, in this morning’s Taylor on Radio-Info column.

We haven’t heard much, at all, from CBS Radio’s operations locally.

But Tom tracks down an interesting piece of information related to such a format change, which the columnist says “could be happening soon”:

Is there a sports PD on the loose, one who just recently resigned from another station with no announced destination? He may be headed to Cleveland, and not just for a deluxe tour of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

CBS Radio has kept quite a lid on this locally.

We have been “pinging” various contacts in the sports media world here, and haven’t gotten any word of big “signings” you’d expect for a full-blown move into such a format.

But Taylor apparently has sources outside the market, who know of an outside hire-to-be that would program the would-be sports station. (And an actual program director for a Cleveland sports radio station? What a concept!)

Taylor’s item speculates that the target station for the format change could indeed be alt-rock WKRK/92.3 “Radio 92.3”, which has been without a regular weekday air staff since the revamping of the alt-rock format some time ago.

And here’s an odd twist.

On his classic rock WNCX/98.5 morning show and on Facebook, morning driver Maxwell has announced that he’ll “walk down the hall” Thursday and do an afternoon drive shift on…”Radio 92.3″, in addition to his regular WNCX show. It’s a “one time” thing, says Maxwell on his Facebook page.

Hmm. Do they need to check if live microphones still work in the WKRK studios?

We’ve been skeptics about this from the start, of course.

One reason is that we’ve been told numerous times that “Radio 92.3”, with extremely low overhead (electricity and music licensing, basically, give or take some weekend talent, some shared with other stations in the cluster), actually makes money for CBS Radio.

Another reason? CBS Radio has supposedly long sought to sell off its Cleveland cluster, along with other non-top 10 market clusters.

But in the current economic market, there would appear to be no ready buyers for an entire cluster of four class B FM stations in a market the size of Cleveland, and we’ve heard that CBS has no interest in selling off the stations separately or at a deep discount.

Just a short drive up the Ohio Turnpike and I-75, the company’s WXYT/97.1 “The Ticket” FM sports outlet is a ratings superstar, showing up atop the Detroit ratings much of the year.

Has the company finally decided that trying to replicate that here in Cleveland is worth the investment?

Is this finally going to happen? We can’t say. We’ve (again) heard no confirmation here of any such activity, though plenty of people even remotely connected to sports radio are asking us how to apply.

With no PD in place (yet, apparently), we’ve been suggesting contacting local CBS Radio SVP/market manager Tom Herschel.

Or maybe a better bet would be to contact the PD of “The Ticket” in Detroit (Jimmy Powers), since that operation would certainly provide some guidance for a similar operation in Cleveland.

But with the smoke from a would-be FM sports radio conversion getting out of crunchy rumor phase – the rumors have picked up again recently – we thought it was finally time to approach the topic, even if we don’t know for sure that it’s about to happen…

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6 Responses to That Pesky FM Sports Rumor

  1. Fred Bourjaily says:

    CBS also has FM Sports in Pittsburgh (KDKA FM 93.7)

  2. Sean says:

    Get it done.

  3. P.Bravo says:

    I so hope this is true. Cleveland sports radio is inadequate given the level of enthusiasm and market. WKNR is ‘ok’, but I can only take the same guys over and over again, and they’re taking a lot of time up with non-sports talk lately, although Rizzo is incredibly great and Xs and Os with the Pros is interesting. WTAM is a nightmare aside from Andre Knott. When I die and go to hell, they’ll be piping in the Triv show 24/7, I’m certain. Are they political hacks talking about sports, or sports hacks talking about politics? Both? Hard to tell. The conversation around the office seems to be, “Better Triv, but can you dumb it down a little more?”…every day.
    I really hope the above is all true.

  4. Tim says:

    If and when 92.3 changes to a sports format, WBWC 88.3 out of Berea is a quality alternative rock station. I wonder if V 107.3 will tweak its format to sound more “alternative” ? The station has not been doing well in the ratings since changing from the “Smooth jazz” format.

  5. Joe says:

    The BEST thing that could happen for REAL sportstalk fans in NE Ohio would be another LOCAL talk station that could compete with the rambling, b _ _ _ sh_ _ laden “talk” going on at WKNR. They are so opposite of what they claim to have been back in the day. The polar opposite of being “the sports voice of the fan”. Most of the on air personalities stay within a rigid “10 seconds for the caller to talk & then hang up on them and tell the audience what the caller meant” format…the absolute WORST kind of LOCAL sportstalk. It works for National shows like Jim Rome…not so much for LOCAL talk. Plus, guys like Aaron Goldhammer are plain rude, condescending and so contrived 99% of the time that it has become totally laughable! Bring it on CBS…92.3FM would be the best for the fans!

  6. If you’re looking for another alt/rock station should 92.3 flip to sports talk, FM 96 (95.9) out of London, Ontario, is another good option. Little more diverse playlist than 92.3 too (Tragically Hip, Sam Roberts, Danko Jones, to name a few)

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