Where Did Cleveland Sports Radio Go Wrong?

By all accounts, this should have been a Renaissance era for Cleveland sports radio. It started with the acquisition of WKNR from Salem Communications by Good Karma Broadcasting, who, in turn, snapped up additional bandwidth on 1540-AM as well.

Then came the CBS conversion of 92.3 from their awkward “No DJ” format to a sports one, following in the footsteps of their tried and true The Fan blueprint.

We all had high hopes, didn’t we? It was supposed to be a more diverse landscape, and plenty of room for everyone, right?

Wrong.

In what can only be described as a case-study example of how the business of sports radio killed sports radio, the two 24-hour stations are now at the point where if one of the disappeared, a lot of folks wouldn’t exactly be sad to see them go.

Many could point to the truckloads of cash both 92.3 and WKNR had to collectively unload in order to secure broadcasting rights for the Cleveland Browns. As part of the deal, WKNR willingly ceded two hours of its air time to broadcast Browns PR, which is also known as Cleveland Browns Daily, while relegating popular syndicated talker Jim Rome to the hinterlands of 1540.

Others have directed attention to the presence of a data-driven consultant operating out of town as the culprit. At least, that’s what those who listened to WKNR heard for the bulk of 2013.

Regardless of the cause, sports radio has now been relegated to a Browns gripe-fest, with some sprinkles of other sports mixed in. Are we really to believe that all this is all we care about? I’d venture to doubt that.

But that’s what you’re hearing at the moment, whether it’s generated by the need to get a return on investment or some analyst’s report. And we as sports fans deserve better.

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