April 17, 2014

Jim Rome Not Pleased With WKNR’s Programming Decision

Jim Rome has been immensely popular in Cleveland for a long time.  He has had multiple tour stops in Cleveland and his visit to WKNR studios in the Cleveland Galleria last year was a blockbuster for this city.  That’s why it is so surprising that WKNR decided to interfere with Rome’s nationally syndicated show when making some programming changes recently.

The new lineup looks like this.  Mike & Mike in the Morning will continue to be carried from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM.  The Really Big Show with Tony Rizzo gets an extra hour from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  This pushes the first hour of the Jim Rome show (from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM) to KNR2 on 1540 AM.  Then the final two hours of Rome’s show will continue back on the flagship station 850 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

Get all that?

Yesterday on his show, Jim Rome addressed the topic and was none too happy to have his show split up.  And really, why would he be?  Rome will now have the first hour of his show pushed to a station with a far weaker signal, not to mention the confusion for fans.  Now Rome fans will have to start their day attempting to get 1540 to come in on their radio before switching at 1:00 PM for the second hour of the show.

If you live within earshot of 1350 AM in Akron, you will probably just listen to the entire Jim Rome show there.  They are presumably licking their chops down there where they have added a giant banner to their website proclaiming that you can hear all three hours on their station.

So, what in the world is going on here?

Interestingly enough, it sounds as if Tony Rizzo doesn’t appreciate being the guy to mess with Rome’s show. As someone who has been asked to fill in for Rome when he is on vacation, it is hard to believe Rizzo doesn’t at least have mixed emotions about the deal. So that means there must be something else going on.

Only station owner Craig Karmazin knows for sure.  Is he trying to boost the profile of KNR2?  Jim Rome certainly thinks so and he didn’t mince words on his show yesterday.  “It’s not the first time a station has done this to the show… Right now we have more stations than we’ve ever had before.”  Then he dropped a bomb. “In this particular case, in this market, in that city, on that town, it bothers me more than any other market because of the nature of our relationship… It’s Cleveland. It’s a very important market to me.”

If you really think about it, there is only one good explanation for this.  There is only one person who could maybe benefit from this, and that is Tony Rizzo and his show.  Meanwhile, it doesn’t sound as if Tony Rizzo is particularly happy with how he is arriving at an extra hour.  Sure, he could be lying, but I don’t get that sense because of how fortunate he has felt to fill in for Rome when Rome is on vacation.

In the end, WKNR is seemingly capitalizing on one of its most popular shows (Rizzo) by cannibalizing a portion of Jim Rome’s show.  In the end, I am not sure how it makes sense, but I am also not privy to all the station’s numbers.  Maybe Rizzo’s new third hour will out-perform Jim Rome’s first hour.  Maybe Rizzo’s third hour will carry new local listeners while KNR2 will retain enough of Rome’s original audience that the net result is a boost when looking at both stations combined.  Maybe this is all a plan to boost listenership via streaming on the website and on smart phones.

We’ll have to see, but for now it appears that ESPNCleveland has merely confused its fans, upset the biggest national radio sports personality, and put their most popular host in an awkward position.

  • mike

    Yeah, I feel its a little ridiculous. I hate the Rizzo show, only because of the other hacks on it. Rizzo is ok, but why do we have a bunch of crap guys on WKNR here (R and R is pretty awful too)? I used to listen to Rizzo, but I heard, if you don’t like this show, listen to something else, a little too much on that damn show. And so I did. Bring Rome back, its the only thing I listen to on WKNR (and don’t even get me started on Mike and Mike, they are AWFUL).

  • http://www.screevo.com Screevo

    This is Rizzo’s fourth hour, not third.

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    I’m not pleased with Jim Rome’s programming, so I guess we’re even.

    It’s sad and pathetic that the only sports talk station in a town with three professional teams and a strong college sports following has to resort to syndicated programming to fill the airwaves in the first place. Surprised Brinda didn’t somehow weasel his way back into an on-air slot.

    Viva La Sirius!

  • http://www.zirbtv.com Matt

    This is totally senseless! I have no idea how the whole syndication thing works, but I assumed they would have to run it by Rome to move his show. KNR2 is impossible to get. I’ve driven from Akron to Cleveland and never been able to tune it in. I like Rizzo’s show and an extra hour is cool, just cut Mike and Mike.

  • Jeff

    When exactly has Jim Rome been pleased about ANYTHING?

  • Nick

    Thank Goodness for this decision. I can’t stand Rome’s program, and since 1350 also syndicates the show, I have listen to podcasts during my afternoon commute. This is a blessing, and hopefully a precursor to Cleveland standing up for itself and producing local programs.

  • http://exiledclevelander.wordpress.com AMC

    When in doubt, it’s ALWAYS about $$$. Moving the 1st hour of Rome off of WKNR frees up an entire new hour of local programming with no additional cost to Karmazin (he is using on-air talent that was previously employed) while gaining an hour of local advertisements. Even if Rizzo can’t match Rome’s numbers in that 4th hour, Karmazin can justify the move as long as Rizzo retains enough listeners to justify the prices he is charging advertisers in that hour.

    Karmazin did an “Ask the Owner” show on Tuesday where he skated around the issue, claiming that the station wanted to be “Big League” and those types of stations had local programming, not syndicated programming. He claimed ratings for local programming went up as the show progressed, while ratings for national programming went down.

    There’s probably some truth in all of that, but it doesn’t add up either. If local programming is beating out the Rome show, then why keep Rome on the station, and why keep Rome’s second 2 hours on the station if the ratings are getting worse as time goes on for national programming? Karmazin wants to have his cake and eat it too – he wants that extra hour of time to sell local ads, but he also wants to fulfill his contractual obligations and keep Rome on airwaves he controls, because he knows that if Rome jumped ship to another Cleveland affiliate, his local programming on WKNR would get killed.

  • http://www.twitter.com/boxoflewine Eli

    What is this “radio” device people keep talking about? Do I call my cable company about it?

  • http://www.blogspot13.com John

    In this age of internet radio and smartphones, I can get both WKNR and KNR2 on my Droid phone with a FREE app, “Tunein Radio”. This app can get local radio per areas. Add in live streaming if you REALLY need to have all 3 hrs of Rome, it is easy to get. I prefer local sports programming and I like the moves.

  • http://216sports.wordpress.com Chris M

    It’s actually very important that Rizzo gets this extra hour, what with all of the big things happening in this town right now.

    1) The Cavs are on an 18 game win…er, losing streak
    2) The Browns playing for…um…
    3) Pitchers and catchers reporting in…3 weeks?

    Wait, why did they do this again?

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ Eli – I’m pretty sure you have to send a telegraph in order to ensure the radio people get your communication.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Vengeful Pat

    If I knew radio terms, I would be able to say this better, but maybe the WKNR listeners just got sick of the same sound bites being used day after day after day in the first hour of Rome’s show with no other new information. I don’t dislike Rome, in fact I usually end up listening to the first hour of his show during lunch, but I get so sick of the format in the first hour… you don’t really get anything worth listening to until the last segment of the first hour. Nobody continues to beat a dead horse on their radio program quite like Jim Rome.

  • kingdiesel

    What exactly did Rome say on air? Need more quotes. Great article Craig! Good stuff.

  • The Conductor

    Howard Stern.

  • mike

    at nick #6-I am all for promotion of local programming, but lets get rid of these old dudes and bring some young Cleveland Blood on board. I would say get rid of all the syndicated shows, if we could have some interesting people in our town discuss sports. But, we have a bunch of hacks on air.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    Craig Karmazin, that’s not a good call. I don’t like that call. That’s not a very good call.

  • 5KMD

    #1, only one of the “mike’s” is awful. The other one probably can’t believe he has to put up with the little twerp.

  • 5KMD

    They should just rename “Mike and Mike” to “a four hour lovefest for everything new york” and be done with it.

  • mydogsnameisbuckeye

    Living not in Cleveland, it’s nice to listen to a Cleveland sports talk show. But it’s getting so bad with all of the constant ads that I can’t do it anymore. I listen with the RadioTime app on my phone and listening to Rome is refreshing to actually get 20 straight minutes without some effing plug about how they all went to buy a new Kia yesterday or bought flowers for some broad. In fact, if anyone still wants to listen to a GOOD stream of Rome and not some crappy signal from the cheap fools at WKNR, listen to the 104.3 stream from Denver. Half the commercials they play classic rock.

    I couldn’t stand another hour of Rizzo and his consistent plugs every 5 minutes so it’s no biggie to me. I’m only tuning in now for press conferences or after the occasional big news.

  • Nate

    Gross. Just gross. A fourth hour of Rizzo? Him leaving Fox makes more sense now, FOX probably didn’t want him doing a fourth hour.

    Yes, another hour of Rizzo means more commercials for window nation and great escape. Joy. FWKNR.

    Someone rich, please buy a radio station in Cleveland and hire some talent.

  • Prospect + Donkey

    Yes because Rome’s plugs about Five Hour Energy, Brut, Skoreit, etc are so much different then all of the plugs Rizzo does. It’s how the radio business allows you to listen for free. I like both shows. I get tired of the two clowns with Rizzo, but I also get tired of Rome saying the same thing over and over again. I do like getting the local spin on KNR, although I could do without the comedians they have to bring in and free food Fridays.

  • Pale Dragon

    @16: Rack him!

    Clones: What is going on in C-town? Bumping my first hour, are you serious? That makes no sense. Why would you do that? Why would you bump such a popular national show? That makes no sense. Why would you that?

    [unnecessarily long pause]

    That’s ridiculous. I’m out.

    [crumples paper into microphone]

  • Joe

    Great article…take it from a daily listener of WKNR, more local is better, but it has to be GOOD local. Rizz is awesome…Aaron Goldhammer – not so much. He constantly rips Ohio State, treats the callers like dirt 99% of the time, has a nasally voice, acts like a know it all from out of town that speaks for Cleveland(?) – that needs to end!!! Time to step it up, Rizz. Craig K. on his “talk with the owner” segment earlier this week, put the blame and responsibility on Rizzo for letting Hammer do what he does… It has to get better – fire someone Keith Williams!

  • http://blog.clevelandsportstorture.com/ Doug

    What’s worse, Rome’s sycophantic idiot callers or the two obnoxious trolls on Rizzo?

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Speaking as a professional in the radio business, I would have to say that I encourage nearly ANY move to put more local programming on the air. Nationally syndicated sports radio is the ultimate echo chamber, and they are always focused on east coast issues (with the occasional sex tabloid story).

    I lived in South Bend, IN for a time, and I was able to hear Chicago sports radio. Let me tell you, having local shows all day long is awesome compared to national shows. Local shows can really connect with listeners in ways that national shows can’t…however, national shows are cheaper than hiring local talent.

    While the Rizzo show may be bad (don’t know…I live in Columbus, obviously), it’s a better trend to go local than to go national. That’s just my two cents.

  • NJ

    I heard Rome discussing this late last week. He spoke pretty passionately about how Cleveland was one of the first non-Cali markets that put him on when he was trying to go national. He also mentioned that he always stuck by WKNR and never even listened to offers from other Cleveland stations. Not sure if that is true or not, but it was convincing to me.

    This seems like WKNR wanting to have their cake and eat it too. So you don’t get rid of Rome to put on local talent; you just screw with one hour? Publicity hounding, it seems to me.

  • http://clevelandthing.blogspot.com Ammo

    Yes I am a former KNR intern but I have ZERO inside info on this. I’m just going by what I know on how the radio biz works.

    Per Rizzo, he got a raise to go full time (which he had to do. He couldn’t keep working 2 jobs). Obviously, the bills need to be paid somehow.

    By having local programming in the first hour of Rome/last hour of Rizz, KNR can sell more ad space (which offers more opportunities for sales people and creates jobs at Good Karma Broadcasting and in Cleveland). Part of the syndication deal is that Rome can run his national ads for X amount of time. Craig Karmazin explained this the other day.

    The new clock: Less commercials on KNR per hour, but the extra hour of The Really Big Show means KNR doesn’t lose any ad time. It’s also likely that KNR can charge a higher premium for ad space because it’s sold as “X commercials per hour. So now that there’s less commercials there’s a higher demand.” This is a win for KNR.

    KNR2 is starting to expand with local programming. This is another win for selling ads. Jim Rome on KNR2 is a huge way to draw listeners to KNR2.

    The shift to streams and smartphones: It’s happening. Hell, when I interviewed for my internship with Top Men the first thing I said was “the future is smartphones.” You’ll be able to get national ESPN Radio and Jim Rome anywhere because of this phenomenon. Providing local programming is NECESSARY to stay relevant in the local radio arena. This is why music stations are dropping like flies: there’s not much locally relevant stuff on radio stations.

    In a perfect world, KNR is local from 5 AM-midnight and KNR2 is Mike and Mike, Jim Rome, Cowherd and other popular nationally syndicated programs along with as much local programming as possible.

    I’m a Rome Clone myself, but the fact that KNR wants to add more local programming is very, VERY good for not only Cleveland sports radio, but for jobs in the city.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    @ Ammo…

    Spot on…sports/talk/news/local programming is the best chance for radio to have a relevant future.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Also @ Ammo…

    I went to your blog and saw that you are an OU alum…me too.

    What year? I’m ’05.

  • http://clevelandthing.blogspot.com Ammo

    ’09, with my first year being in ’05. Funny how that works. I miss the darn place.

  • S-Dub

    I wish they would’ve left the programming how it was in the morning, then go to Rome’s show as scheduled, then brought Rizzo back for afternoon R&R so we didn’t have to listen to Rhoda and Reghi be hacks on the radio. Those 2 guys suck. I mean 1 is a Steelers fan and Reghi generally has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s a great play by play guy but awful on the radio.

  • SteelMagnolia


  • JM

    Thought for sure Rizzo would have been moved to afternoons since Reghi and Roda are getting killed in ratings. But it makes sense to keep him where he is at. Hopefully it helps the station.

  • Gren

    @ Jeff
    5. January 27, 2011

    When exactly has Jim Rome been pleased about ANYTHING?

    -The Lions going winless. Great stuff. Just yesterday he was pretty happy Chad Ochocinco was going back to Johnson.

  • Miz

    The only good local show on 850 right now is “X’s and O’s with the Pros”.

    They need to get rid of Munch, Reghi and Hammer all together, even on commercials.

  • Mike

    I’m no big fan of Goldhammer or Fedor, but I am astounded that anyone thinks that Tony Rizzo is doing a good job. The guy has been a trainwreck for the last six months. Fake laughing at everything, doing no research, whining about his schedule – the guy has been terrible.

    Phoniness is always the first sign of problems, and Rizzo hasn’t been genuine on the radio in over a year. Maybe the single job will help him find some balance and get his stuff together. But right now, the guy is a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Barry Mahoganue

    My biggest problem with this (and it’s been touched on already) is the ungodly amount of advertisements in the WKNR local programming. If I have to hear about DEALS DEALS DEALS Belzer at that stupid Nissan place one more time, I may just stop listening to radio all together.

    And Rizzo’s show has been known to devote ENTIRE segments to pimping out the crap they endorse. Especially on “free food Thursday” or whatever it is. Come on. We want to hear sports talk. Not how delicious the portabello mushroom sandwich is at the Donkey Punch Cafe.

    I hope to see this changed back sooner than later.

  • @jogantt

    Freaking awesome post, well done. Love Rome.

  • http://twitter.com/Bbo13 B-bo

    Less Jim Rome is exactly what the world needs. One less hour of a no-talent blowhard confusing being smug for being intelligent? Now if only they’d give him one less hour on television.

  • JM

    I see what Mike is saying. Rizzo and his rug have the two interns to start all the lame arguments. I remember someone called in ripping him for the fake arguments and Rizzo got real defensive. Maybe because it is true huh Tony?

  • Gren

    @ B-bo
    “One less hour of a no-talent blowhard confusing being smug for being intelligent? ”

    Are we talking about Rome or Michael Reghi ?

    Rome’s at least funny some of the time…. I just realized, this means 1 hour less of Jay Mohr ! I love when he hosts the show ! Pitchforks, ready.

  • CLE

    Rome is hands down the best national sports talk radio program.

    I Dont mind rizzo, but between the absurd commercials (as mentioned above) and them talking over each other while arguing i quit listening to them.

  • Sean

    It would be one thing if Rizzo actually talked about Cleveland sports. The show is one, long 4 hour commercial mixed with intern dating games, a terrible amateur movie critic, and completely irrelevant trivia all leading up to another commercial. And the whole Tony Rizzo’s eternal optimist angle, battling against his younger, more knowledgeable, protagonist co hosts is something out of a WWF wrestling show in the 1980′s. Jim Rome is the only thing worth listening on that joke of radio station. Time to start over.

  • Joe

    That post by Barry a few back almost had me spitting up my coffee this morning! Freakin’ hilarious… Someone else mentioned Rizzo…as I said in my previous post, it is time for him to step it up or he will end up being an old retread like Papa prune juice Brinda. A little less “really?” and “Aaron!!!” and a little more actual prep and entertainment. Still love that show – Goldhammer just grates on me with no signs of changing.

  • mydogsnameisbuckeye


    Exactly. I’m sick of hearing them munch on bbq ribs at 9am like pigs in a trough not being able to understand a word they’re saying. It’s disgusting. Not to mention all of the times they bring people in for the 15 minute interviews about their coffin business. One of these days I’ll tune back in at work and record the amount of time they actually talk about sports/non-ad stuff, and how much is advertisement in an hour.

    Sorry, guess I’m just used to quality sports talk programming in Denver where our guys aren’t constantly promoting crap. I understand its good for local businesses and such, but isn’t that what the commercial breaks are for? If you’re going to do it, at least get some guys in there that have insight on what they’re talking about.

  • mac

    Love the Really Big Show and love Rome. Start Rizzo and the RBS at 8am and get rid of the AWFUL ‘Mike and Mike.’ Problem solved. (Get rid of Chris Fedor…he is a jerk).

  • Bridgecrosser

    Goldhammer’s fingers are all over this. He stands the most to gain by the bigger platform and will jump out of here first chance. He somehow conned Rizzo into this and it sucks. Mike and Mike is an abortion. I’d much rather they cut into those jackwads.

    Bring back Rome for 3 hours on WKNR. Fire Goldhammer. Let Rizzo get himself back together.

  • Gmoney

    Everything is about money and nepotism. You all have to understand the Karmazin way of thinking. First off the big true Karmazin as in Mel Karmazin runs Sirius/XM. He bout the stations for his son to play like most daddy’s do to silver spooners. Remember baby Craig Karmazin went to NYU as did Aaron Goldhammer. Well Rizzo isn’t stupid, he’s been up Goldhammers butt since the beginning. Seriousy, how many 50 yr olds hang out with 28 yr olds unless there is some ass kissing to do. What is really sad is that all of this is true. But also he hangs out with Goldhammer to pick up his young chicki babes since he got divorced and he uses his celebrity to smooch around 28-30 yr old woman he has nothing in common with. Remember, Rizzo will use a good charity for his own gain. He will act like he doesn’t but don’t believe him. His personal gain is that someone likes him. He has an insecurity of a 15 yr old girl.

    With that being said, Rizzo isn’t bad on the radio however he has forgotten about his hometown. Now if you mention this to him, he will get totally defensive. Just listen closely when he’s on the radio. The worst part about the show are the two hacks. Goldhammer and Fedor. We actually have Aaron Goldhammer speaking to national shows about how us Clevelanders feel, while in real life he puts us down every chance he gets. Aaron Goldhammer hates being here bcuz we hate him being here speaking for us. Aaron Goldhmmer has never had to work a day in his life. His upbringing was that of Karmazin and he is so insecure that he blames Cleveland people for it. When he is talking in general out with his girlfriend, he call us stupid and a bunch of low life hillbillies
    if it were anyone else other than Aaron Goldhammer, they would have been fired a long time ago. The station plays it up like he’s just a kidder who likes to antoagnize the city for radio humor, but it’s not true. He really can’t stand living here and the people for the most part who dint hang out in the stimulated Ohio City or at Trendy Tremont.

    Now for Fedor, he’s the self proclaimmed reality dude, however, even though he may be right on points, he needs to shut up and move on to the next story. He gets himself untroubled by trying to be tough to his word. My goodness, just be quiet and move on. Fedor will get better because he works hard and he does have some sense of journalistic integrity. Fesor does it because it’s his job to inform, whereas Goldhammer does it to get applauded and look cool to overcome his insecurities. This is ashame becuz you could have a great show with Rizzo and Fedor. Give Hammer his own show and then look at the ratings. It would be sad. It’s OK to be the bad guy like Pete Franklin and Gary Dee, but the never did what Goldhammer does. Puts down people personally with true heart in Cleveland. The shows ratings would sore if Goldhammer was off the show. What Goldhammer needs to understand, you will never be good on the radio when you carr about what people say to you and then you personally attack the environment of the caller with hate. When you get older you will understand.

    I love my city and it’s people. We are the proudest sports city in the country. We also know what hard work is and Jime Rome understood that. He ALWAYS stuck up for Cleveland. Also remember, Jim Rome wouldn’t even be in Ctown if it wasn’t for Kenny Rhoda. Kenny was the man with the plan there. However Mr celebrity Tony Rizzo to took all the applause. Be strong Clevelanders and listen to the RBS show real good. You will hear about their partying and how cool they are about the woman while seeking their products big time while Rizzo and Hammer get free cars to drive. There is nothing different that those guys are doing that the politicians did in Cleveland. Sell my product and I will put free windows in your house. Really Big Show, you have been found out.

    Have a goodnight Cleveland !! Whatch out for fake attitudes!!

  • ohioan

    4 hours of local sports is too much when three will do. the fourth hour is not that informitive anyways. Rome gives me interviews from all over the country.