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The Haslam Era: The Cleveland Browns Will Have a New Broadcasting Home in 2013
By Evan Meyer
On Thursday, the Cleveland Browns made history. No, not on the football field, but in the way the team will have their games covered by the electronic media. Not only on game days, but throughout the year.
The team announced a new partnership with Good Karma Broadcasting (WKNR-AM 850) and CBS radio (WKRK-FM 92.3 & WNCX-FM 98.5 FM) to broadcast the team’s games on radio in a long-term deal and be the flagship stations of the team’s radio network.
This is the first move of the team’s radio rights since they returned to the National Football League in 1999 when the rights were acquired by ClearChannel Communications (WTAM-AM 1100 & WMMS-FM 100.7).
The Browns become the first team in the four major professional sports leagues in North America to have a “trimual” cast of their radio broadcasts. The announce team of Jim Donovan (play-by-play) and Doug Dieken (analyst) will remain intact.
After the 2012 season, the rights were up for bid and the two sports-talk stations WKNR-AM (Sportstalk 850) & WKRK-FM (Sportsradio 92.3 The Fan) entered into negotiations with the Browns bidding against each other. Recently however, the management teams of the two stations decided to join forces against ClearChannel to acquire the rights, which they have done.
WKNR-AM has the exclusive rights in the Cleveland market to Ohio State University football and men’s basketball along with play-by-play rights to the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters. They also have Cleveland area High School Football & the Mid-American Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. They are part of the ESPN network.
This is the first time the station has had the rights to the Browns. In their history, they have been the rights holders to both the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
WKRK-FM, which came on the air in September of 2011, is affiliated with Dial Global Radio Network which has the radio rights to the NFL. The station also broadcasts games of the Arena Football League’s Cleveland Gladiators and are also part of the new CBS Sports Radio Network. WNCX-FM came into the mix as, like WKRK, they are a CBS Radio affiliate.
One of the problems with ClearChannel was that the team could not get the AM portion of their simulcast due conflicts with the Indians for the preseason games and on Sunday’s in the month of September. This new agreement will help the fans who can only get games on AM radio will not have a problem in the future.
As part of the agreement, the team will double their non-game day programming from 500 hours to 1000 hours which includes a new show with head coach Rob Chudzinski as well as expanding the existing show ‘Cleveland Browns Daily’ currently aired on WKNR from, one hour to two hours.
In addition, on game days WKNR will continue their pre-game show ‘Browns NFL Countdown’ to four hours while WKRK will continue their Browns post-game show which lasts two hours after the final gun.
In 2012, the Browns Radio Network had 28 stations is 24 markets stretching from Ashtabula in the east to Toledo in the west and Wheeling, West Virginia to the south. This new radio agreement may help to expand the network before the 2013 season.
This is a new era in how teams will be covered electronically in Cleveland. It will play out when the team starts its preseason schedule in August.
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