The Fan Aftermath

You know how it goes around here…a big media news bombshell drops, and we kick it around the next day. (We’ll get to some other stuff a little later today or over the weekend.)

As expected, CBS Radio made Cleveland its 15th sports radio market, with the announcement that “Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan” will debut on WKRK/92.3 (what is now alt-rock “Radio 92.3”) on August 29th.

The station has only announced two shows so far, the shows that were already rumored – “Kiley and Booms” (Kevin Kiley and Euclid’s own Chuck Booms) in morning drive, and Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber (until now, weekend/swing/fill-in at WFAN/660 New York) in afternoon drive.

The release we posted below promises “locally produced programs hosted by familiar Cleveland voices”, but really even Booms barely falls into that category, with his spotty run at Cleveland radio.

(Oddly enough, the station returns Booms to the site of his only FM stint in the market – he was briefly morning co-host on the old “Jammin’ 92.3”.)

Our guess is that Andy Roth, now officially in place at the Halle Building, is negotiating the tough waters of local personalities, trying to avoid playing the “oh, not HIM again!” card.

We have no idea if a local sports media name we hinted about early on is still on CBS’ shopping list. That person is still at their original post, so nothing’s happened yet, and it’s quite likely they decided to stick around.

It also seems likely that the station hasn’t hired yet various weekend and part-time players, update anchors, team beat reporters and the like – we’re basing that mostly on CBS’ announcement, which also does not name “The Fan’s” lineup outside drive times.

(We’re wondering if all of the chatter about the coming station forced an announcement earlier than planned.)

Meanwhile, we bet you’re wondering what the official reaction to the new sports station is at the Galleria.

Well, Good Karma Broadcasting’s Craig Karmazin, owner of “ESPN 850 WKNR” and litte brother station WWGK/1540 “KNR2”, is putting on a brave face.

We know that thanks to an item on the website of Crain’s Cleveland Business, by the magazine’s Joel Hammond:

Karmazin, meanwhile, remains bullish on WKNR’s future in Cleveland.

“We’re excited for the Cleveland sports fan to continue to have more options,” he said. “When we came into the market, we said they were as good as any fans in the country. They deserve options.

“We think that having a great company like CBS in the sports radio market will make the market bigger. And we feel like we’re an important part of it.”

We’re pretty sure you can’t hear boots actually shaking in a voice mail message.

And until CBS threw its cards onto the table, WKNR and its little brother (WWGK/1540 “KNR2”) were a much more important part of the sports radio market…nearly completely cornering sports talk, and competing with Clear Channel’s stations in the play-by-play sector. (And by competing, we mean “running stuff except play-by-play from the big pro teams”.)

But WKNR won’t be running Westwood One’s play by play package anymore, as you know if you read this Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)…”92.3 The Fan” picked up the network’s NFL coverage and Big 10 package before the new station was even announced.

Watch Karmazin spin that loss, to Crain’s Joel Hammond:

He answered my main questions, centered on the loss of Westwood One’s NFL coverage, in a Thursday morning voice mail, and had a simple explanation for Westwood One joining with WKRK: WKNR, through fan surveys, said it found more Browns coverage was in demand. So it now will have five hours of pregame and postgame coverage, and thus other NFL games on the station were impossible.

“Westwood One was a great partner for many years, but we weren’t able to continue as an affiliate,” he said.

We’re not going to directly say when someone is, uh, not telling the truth, but we knew weeks ago that WKNR wasn’t “able to continue” as a Westwood One affiliate because the network came to WKNR and ended its deal with the incumbent sports station.

Karmazin’s reaction is not a surprise. Stations have their own spin, and often say “oh, we went a different direction”.

We think Salem said the same, back when it owned WKNR, and directly LOST the ESPN contract (ESPN gave notice) to…uh…the upstart sports radio station at AM 1540, owned by Wisconsin-based…uh…what’s his name…Craig Karmazin?

This battle will be waged on many fronts, on and off the air.

The signal battle is slightly more even than it would have been if “The Fan” ended up on 98.5. We’ve talked about the signal issues of 92.3 here at length. 98.5 would have shut down that conversation, as one of the most powerful class B FMs in Cleveland.

But for a 50,000 watt AM, WKNR has its own signal issues. You can hear the station in the daytime past Sandusky into nearly Detroit almost as a local station, but it’s less than ideal in even parts of Northeast Ohio.

And at night, WKNR’s signal looks like an open glove, with many holes in key areas of Northeast Ohio.

Overall, though, “92.3 The Fan” is on FM, and that’s where listeners are increasingly going…


8 Responses to The Fan Aftermath

  1. Brian Hood says:

    Chuck Booms will NOT get anyone to listen to him no matter what he’s talking about (news, politics, sports, music, etc,…). He’s a Stern wannabe with little regards for his audience. 92.3 will soon find that out unless Kiley steps up and carries the show.

  2. Joe says:

    Chuck Booms will be GREAT in this market! All WKNR has become is rude, negative, condescending and in a word: LAME!!! I am confident that listeners will FLOCK to 92.3 FM in mass numbers just to get away from the contrived, home team bashing talking heads at watered down and beat up WKNR! As long as fans can actually interact with LOCAL hosts – look out, WKNR… blew it!!! Then again, ANY station stupid enough to have Brinda on their airwaves, deserves what they get…throw in a punk ass from Denver that thinks his s _ _ t doesn’t stink and take over Rizzo’s show and drive it into the ground…they are going to have to suck it up as their advertisers flee.

  3. Frank says:

    So where does this place the current 92.3 PD?

    • Secondary Editorial Voice (tm) says:

      No idea. However, it does sounds like Verlane Snell – the current production guy for “radio 92.3” – will be retained.

      Both he and PD Dom Nardella were the only two full-time staffers at “radio 92.3.”

  4. Competition is the backbone of the American free enterprise system. I’m sure that having “The Fan” to compete with will spur Karmazin to step up his game and put out a better product.

    There is no reason we can’t have two successful sports stations. If New York can do it (WFAN 660 and WEPN 1050), C-town can do it too. (Ironically, WFAN started on 1050 before moving over the stronger 660 signal.)

  5. Mike says:

    WKNR really ticked me off when they cut the 1st hour of the Jim Rome Show. While I thought Rizzo’s show was good for a few hours in the morning, I now go out of my way not to listen to WKNR instead listening to either Rome or other sports talk shows from around the country via the internet. Looking forward to another local sports talk show and hope they crush KNR.

  6. Shawn says:

    Say what you want about ‘KNR’s programming and their decision to drop hour number one of “Rome”, but you have to give Craig Karmazin credit for frequently appearing on-air to answer questions and criticism from listeners. That’s something i think every GM or PD should be willing to do, and most aren’t.

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