By Tony Grossi
ESPN 850 WKNR is the new radio home of the Cleveland Browns as a result of a unique broadcasting agreement that creates an unprecedented triple-cast of the team’s games.
The groundbreaking partnership calls for Browns games also to be carried on CBS-owned 92.3 The Fan (WKRK-FM) and WNCX (98.5 FM).
The announcing team of Jim Donovan (play-by-play) and Doug Dieken (analyst) remains in place. Jamir Howerton continues as sideline reporter.
But it’s safe to say this innovative partnership, which was hatched by Craig Karmazin, founder and CEO of Good Karma Broadcasting, which operates WKNR and 11 other radio stations, dramatically increases the presence of the Browns in the Cleveland radio market.
“The Browns are truly excited to partner up with two of the premier brands and stations in the market,” said Browns President Alec Scheiner. “We think this is an incredibly unique deal. We have our games triple-cast for what we think is the first time in NFL history. And we don’t know of any other team that has partnered up with the two all-sports radio stations in the market, CBS and ESPN. So for us it’s a really exciting time.”
Landing the Browns’ radio rights is another milestone in the growth of ESPN 850 WKNR since Good Karma acquired the station in 2006. It also operates ESPN 1540 KRN2 in Cleveland.
“Every time in Cleveland when we’ve grown our commitment to the Browns we’ve seen fans embrace it,” Karmazin said. “To have their games on our air and all the other programming associated with is so exciting. There will be so much Browns programming that if you’re a Browns fan you’ll never want to turn off the station.”
The agreement calls for more than 1,000 hours of official Browns programming over the year on the stations, including a simulcast coach’s show. Each station will carry pre- and post-game shows.
ESPN 850 WKNR will continue to carry Cleveland Browns Daily, which will be expanded to two hours and moved to a new time at a later date, and also will add more Browns programming exclusive to the station.
“Since the day we came to Cleveland, we’ve been surveying fans,” Karmazin said, and through the highest highs of LeBron and the Indians’ AL Championship Series and Ohio State’s national championship, nothing has compared to the Cleveland Browns. We’ve heard the fans loud and clear. The deal we have really backed up that commitment through this partnership.”
Negotiations for the Browns’ radio rights began in November, before Scheiner left the Dallas Cowboys as vice president to join the Browns. By then, Karmazin had forged a partnership with CBS to vigorously pursue the rights.
Scheiner said he has never before seen two competing all-sports radio stations in the same market with distinct ownership come together like this.
“I have to give credit to Craig Karmazin and Tom Herschel (CBS senior vice president) for that,” Scheiner said. “They had the foresight to realize that together they were stronger than individually. And for us it was important to get carriage for our games on strong signals and was also important to have some of our shoulder programming on stations in the area.
“Honestly we didn’t know this is where this negotiation was headed. But we were excited when the idea came up.”
The new agreement, which begins May, means that Browns games will not be carried on WTAM-AM for the first time since the expansion era began in 1999.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to email@example.comFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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