An Open Letter to Craig Karmazin

Sometime in the next few days, or sooner, Good Karma Broadcasting debuts Cleveland’s second all-sports radio station, WABQ/1540 “ESPN Cleveland”. As far as we know, it’ll only debut on the 1,000 watt 1540 daytime frequency, despite reports that Good Karma president Craig Karmazin had been talking with Radio One about leasing nighttime hours on talk WERE/1300.

Here at OMW, we have no idea if Mr. Karmazin has found your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

We know he’s apparently been in contact with outgoing Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown, so he at least has some inkling about the Northeast Ohio media landscape, and those who cover it.

We also don’t know if he’s aware of the wide reach we have here, or the fact that we’re read by folks at just about every major media cluster in the region…not to mention thousands of sports fans who are not working at any media outlet.

Therefore, we have no idea if he’ll read this Open Letter…but…that’s never stopped us before.


Dear Mr. Karmazin,

Welcome to Cleveland.

You’re about to undertake an effort of some significance in Northeast Ohio. You’ll provide the first reasonably competitive sports radio voice in a market which really, really needs it.

You’re a smart broadcaster, so we won’t give you the basics. You already know the criticism which has been leveled at your full-time competition, Salem’s WKNR/850. We decided long ago not to list all the things which aren’t done right at that operation, and we’re sure it didn’t take you long to figure it out.

We’re sure you already know that Clear Channel talk WTAM/1100 is really the sports powerhouse in the market, despite devoting the bulk of its daytime hours to news/talk programming.

What we’d like to know: What are YOU going to do?

You’re about ready to launch. You can tell us the general gameplan for “ESPN Cleveland”.

Do you plan any local programming?

Do you plan to go after any sports contracts? If you’re not going after the long-term deals for the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers, firmly locked in at the Clear Channel World Domination HQ on Oak Tree for the next gazillion years, what DO you plan to pursue in the market? Will you make a serious bid for the Cleveland rights to Ohio State sports whenever WKNR’s contract expires? Do you have any other contracts in mind?

But the biggest question of all regards your signal.

You made no secret of your desire to put the ESPN Radio nighttime programming on Radio One’s WERE… to the point of drafting this logo with “1300 Nights” on it, a la your Milwaukee dual-signal situation.

It now appears that’s either gone, or has been taken out of the consideration.

What’s next?

OMW has repeatedly enlisted the help of radio professionals – including the outgoing engineer for your own new facility – to indicate that there’s not a lot of room to upgrade the 1000 watt daytime signal at 1540. Do you see the ability to improve the signal at least into one that can be heard west of I-77 or south of I-480 clearly? Or do you have something else in mind?

We helpfully note rumors that appeared last month on, that ESPN was not happy with the two FM rimshot/one AM [mainly] daytimer situation in Washington DC, on its new affiliate “Triple X ESPN Radio”. If that was true, one can only imagine how they wouldn’t be happy with the AM 1540 signal.

And we also note that Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who owns that “Triple X” trimulcast, has filed to significantly upgrade the AM signal, turning WXTR/730 Alexandria VA into a full-time station with a better signal. It’s an option you would not appear to have with WABQ’s signal.

We’ll give you some leeway if you don’t want to play your cards here, Mr. Karmazin. We know, for one, that this missive is read extensively at Salem Two, the Broadview Road facility which houses WKNR’s studios.

But we’ll say it again – you cannot be competitive, period, with a 1000 watt daytime East Side-only signal. You know this. This can’t be your end game.

How much are you willing to talk? Our E-Mail address is conveniently linked on the left side of this report.

And best of luck to you. We’d really like to see the sports radio game get a little more interesting in Northeast Ohio…

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm)
Ohio Media Watch

Speak Your Mind