Clear Channel's decision to replace Air America programming on WXXM-FM (92.1) with sports talk via Fox Sports Radio has been dissected by local progressives and Packer fans alike. But other ramifications, namely those affecting WTLX-FM (100.5), Fox Sports' current local affiliate, have been largely overlooked.
To the average listener, little will change. The only Fox show running on WTLX is 'The First Team" each day from noon until 2 pm. According to Craig Karmazin of Good Karma Broadcasting, which owns WTLX along with several other sports talk stations around the country, that show will be replaced with locally-focused programming.
Karmazin weighed in this week on several of the issues related to the growing local sports talk scene, including Clear Channel's WTSO-AM (1070), which syndicates many ESPN Radio programs, and WIBA-AM (1310), which broadcasts play-by-play of the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers and Wisconsin Badgers.
- WTLX has broadcast Madison Mallards games for the past three seasons, but the local amateur baseball team will follow Fox Sports to 92.1 next season. Karmazin's response: "Clear Channel has 1400 radio stations across the country and six in the Madison market. They're able to present marketing opportunities for the Mallards that they were looking for."
- On Clear Channel's plans to program more local sports on its new station: "It certainly validates a lot of the things that we're doing when somebody takes the brand and some other elements of what we've done. But the reason we've built the way we have is so a Clear Channel or large national company like that couldn't come in and change any core part of our business. When you are so locally based, it really allows you to be averse to that risk."
- On the relative benefits of local sports programming vs. nationally syndicated programs: "The least expensive thing in the world, and we do it in other markets, is to be ESPN or Fox or Jim Rome. There are no expenses. You just put a satellite up and they go. You don't even need a person there. In Madison, we've seen the most success with the local stuff and the stuff that's Wisconsin based. If someone turns on our station or goes to our website (madisonsportsradio.com) they know that our guys are people who live in Wisconsin who will be talking about the teams they care about."