Roger’s Back From The Beach

Here at OMW, we usually joke that when we’re out of town, or too busy to update this blog on a regular basis, things happen. We didn’t know that Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown had the same problem, but he apparently does…

Anyway, Roger’s back from his most recent vacation and weighs in on the two biggest local sports media stories of the past week…the abrupt dropping of WOIO/19 as the Cleveland Browns’ local TV partner, and the abrupt dropping of WKNR/850 as ESPN’s local affiliate.

WOIO’S FIGHT: Brown quotes WOIO’s normally chatty VP/GM, Bill Applegate, who says the station has turned over the dispute with the local NFL team to its attorneys. Applegate even helpfully provided the PD columnist with the name of that law firm – Cleveland’s Weston Hurd – though Roger’s still playing phone tag with a lawyer from that firm…and Applegate had nothing else to say.

Could WOIO “force” the Browns to stay with them, and ride out the two years left in the local rights contract?

OMW doesn’t even have a legal firm on retainer, so we aren’t gonna take a shot at that one… even if we had a copy of the contract. But our gut feeling is that Browns owner Randy Lerner ran this one through the team’s presumed squadron of lawyers before deciding to cut loose… not to mention the vast legal representation the National Football League has.

Most contracts have escape clauses, which anyone who has signed a contract would know. WOIO certainly is not going to throw up its hands and say “sorry!”, and Raycom Media would be stupid if it didn’t run to its own lawyers to see if there’s a way out of this.

But we don’t give them much chance, in the end…

WKNR’S NEW NETWORK: Brown tells us that WKNR, having lost ESPN Radio after the network dropped a 90 day notice on them, is looking to join up with either FOX Sports Radio or Sporting News Radio as a network partner. Wait…”word is”, says Roger.


Last time OMW checked, there were only two other options in the national sports radio network game. FOX Sports Radio, or Sporting News Radio. That’s it. It doesn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out that WKNR will hope to sign up with one of those two networks. They will HAVE to sign up with one of them!

Even if WKNR decided to program three or four repeats of Premiere’s Jim Rome in the nighttime and overnight hours, they still need a national network…and not just because they have to fill hours of programming on weekends. And those are the only two left after the loss of ESPN Radio, unless Roger knows about another sports radio network that we haven’t heard about…

UPDATE 8:45 PM 7/19/06: We’re reminded of the Sports Byline USA folks, who even syndicate a show produced right here in Northeast Ohio on their network. (That would be the “Average Joe Poker Show”, which is produced at a studio in the Clear Channel World Domination HQ/Southern Command on Freedom Avenue in Jackson Township…)

But Sports Byline USA isn’t really in the same category as either Sporting News Radio or FOX Sports Radio. Its primary focus is the late night show of the same name, hosted by Ron Barr. That show airs 10 PM-1 AM (ET).

It also offers an overnight show. The schedule outside of that seems spotty, with a number of specialty shows and frequent repeats of those shows during the daytime hours.

It’s not really a replacement network for a station losing ESPN Radio…

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