The Cleveland Browns opened their preseason schedule with an encouraging 27-19 defeat of the visiting St. Louis Rams on Thursday night.
That’s good news for a proud program that just once has won more than six games in the last 10 regular seasons.
What isn’t so good for fans is the sacking of Browns regular-season games from area radio.
Browns games have been anchored locally on WONE-AM (980), which is owned by Clear Channel Communications. The Oregon District-based station will carry all the preseason games live, as it did Thursday. But that will change come the Sept. 1 opener against the visiting Dolphins.
Clear Channel cited the change as a result of the PNC Bank Cleveland Browns Radio Network dropping WONE-AM from its lineup.
Clear Channel has since partnered with Dial Global. There will be some live WONE-AM regional sports coverage – specifically Miami RedHawks football. The rest of its sports lineup will feature national brands Notre Dame football, NFL Sunday afternoon doubleheaders and NFL games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights.
Neither Clear Channel nor Browns personnel would comment, although both issued statements.
“Although we’re always sorry to part ways with a long-time affiliate, the Browns choose to go in a different direction with their broadcast network,” Tony Tilford, regional Clear Channel Media program manager, said in a statement.
“Although 980 WONE will not air the games, the station will continue to deliver fans the best coverage of the Browns all season long.”
All of Ohio’s major markets except Dayton and Cincinnati are Browns Radio Network members. The Dayton area has been split in its loyalty to the Browns and Bengals through the years.
Browns Radio Network added Akron, Canton and Youngstown flagship stations in June.
“We are excited about our new flagship radio partnership and are diligently working to bring the Cleveland Browns Radio Network and its extensive Browns coverage to Dayton soon,” Browns Communications Coordinator Rob McBurnett said in a statement.
“We are eager to provide our valued fans in the Dayton area this great access to our team.”
WING-AM (1410) and WHIO-AM (1290) are the other two major Dayton-based AM stations. WING-AM is an ESPN affiliate and features Ohio State University football and Cincinnati Reds games. WHIO-AM features conservative talk radio and is owned by Cox Media Group.
Aug. 15: vs. Lions, 7:30 p.m.; WONE-AM (980), WHIO-TV Ch. 7.
Aug. 24: at Colts, 7 p.m.; WONE-AM (980), WHIO-TV Ch. 7.
Aug. 29: at Bears, 8 p.m.; WONE-AM (980)