By Eric Paulsen Special to Published Dec 31, 2004 at 5:22 AM

{image1} Cue the lead-off track on your "Jock Jams" disc, because your quest for more talk about the Packers, Bucks, Brewers, Golden Eagles, Panthers, Badgers, Admirals, Wave, NBA fights, NFL playoffs, the BCS, the NCAA tournament and a slew of other sports stuff is about to pay off.

The new SportsRadio 1250, WSSP-AM, officially kicks off Jan. 3. And Milwaukee's first full-time sports station arrives just in time for the NFL playoffs.

Locally-oriented, all-sports programming takes priority at the new WSSP SportsRadio 1250. Mornings and afternoons feature local, interactive sports talk from the start; other time slots feature Fox Sports network programming and the station will gradually add more local personalities.

The schedule is posted on the station's new Web site, More will be available on the site once it's fully constructed.

Mornings from 5 to 9 feature Chuck & Johnny -- Chuck Garbedian and Johnny Von. Garbedian has done stints with radio stations WTMJ and WISN, local PBS TV affiliate Channel 10, and the Milwaukee Brewers, where he announced during County Stadium days. Von -- a broadcaster, musician, actor, parody songwriter, comedian and nightclub entertainer -- arrives from Chicago to complete the two-man team.

"We were looking for a certain type of morning show; people who knew sports and were entertaining," says Chip Ramsey, WSSP's program director. Garbedian caught his attention first; Von and Ramsey had been in contact in Chicago, where Ramsey previously handled operations for a radio station cluster in the Chicago suburbs.

Ramsey likens the chemistry of the two to Costanza and Kramer of "Seinfeld." He and Ray Quinn, WSSP's general manager, met Garbedian and Von over lunch for their first chat.

"An hour into the lunch, we had tears in our eyes, we were laughing so hard," Ramsey says. "We interviewed a bunch of people, but with these two, it's like when you're a cook, you know it when you taste it. In this case, we knew it when we saw it." Producer Barry Hersh will join the two, screening and handling calls.

During mid-day shows WSSP will air Fox Sports network features, including the Morning Extravaganza with Van Earl Wright and Jim Rome.

Once the afternoon drive hits at 2 p.m., WSSP will go local again, this time featuring Peter Brown, whose previous work with ESPN in nationally syndicated talk shows brings broad experience.

"He knows people inside and out, he's very knowledgeable in sports, knows a lot of athletes, and he's a good guy," Ramsey says about Brown. "(He's) very down-to-earth, very approachable. Having 'P.B.' on your staff is like having Pedro Martinez in your lineup. You just let him go out and throw strikes."

After 7 p.m., Fox Sports network programming takes over again ... for now. WSSP's plan is to add more live, local sports talk and programming to day, night and weekend shows as the station develops.

Why Sports?

WEMP has occupied the AM 1250 frequency for over 50 years and saw numerous formats come and go. It broadcast Milwaukee Braves baseball games with Earl Gillespie in the 1950s, played the hits as 1970 struck, delivered satellite oldies during much of the '90s, and more recently broadcast various religious shows and brokered programs on the weekends, from German to Hmong to Sunday church services.

Greater potential seemed possible for such a strong AM signal, however. Research and discussions with area clients and advertisers revealed room for a 24-hour all-sports station; Entercom -- WSSP's parent company -- also saw success among sports stations it owns in similar radio markets such as Boston and Buffalo.

Competitive Situation

"Doesn't Milwaukee already have a sports station?," you may ask. Indeed, Milwaukee already has AM 1510 WAUK, primarily broadcasting ESPN radio during the day, including Fantasy Football shows. However, limitations to its license require a "power down" on that frequency at sunset, which in winter can be as early as 4:15 p.m. (A station in Nashville retains rights to that frequency at night.)

To remedy that, WMCS-AM 1290, which can broadcast 24 hours a day, recently picked up ESPN radio for broadcast after 6 p.m. WSSP's relatively strong, 24-hour signal, consistent format and Fox Sports affiliation will like prove to be formidable competition for WAUK and WMCS' combined ESPN programming.

Major local sports talk shows also already exist on powerhouses WTMJ and WISN, with popular personalities like Bill "Big Unit" Michaels and Steve "The Homer" True. The difference is, those stations focus on news and talk throughout the day and sports takes over only on some weekday nights and weekends.

But what about the actual game broadcasts?

WISN airs Marquette games, along with some other local teams' games. WTMJ handles Packers, Brewers, Badgers and Bucks, and occasionally runs into conflicts; in such cases, games normally running on WTMJ end up on WMCS or WJYI. And this might spell opportunity for WSSP.

Will WSSP try to grab those lucrative contracts with sports teams?

"As time goes on and contracts come up for renewal, I assume we will involve ourselves in the bidding process. We will definitely pursue opportunities," says Ramsey.

In the meantime, Ramsey says he and his staff are ready to take the field against tough competition. "We've got the right people in place, the right philosophy, and we're just going to worry about us, not what other stations do, and we're going to have a hell of a lot of fun doing it!"

Eric Paulsen Special to
Eric Paulsen is a Milwaukee native but also grew up in Chicago, Detroit and Dallas, which means he’s never lived in a decent climate. Paulsen works as the Communications Officer for the Greater Milwaukee Committee, serves as a writer and contributor for commercials and a national TV show and pops up on 103.7 Kiss FM on weekends, doing his share of overplaying Top 40 hits. Previously, he was a business partner and director in a start-up online research company that began in 1998 and reached the Inc. 500 list by 2005. He was an early contributing writer for, dating back to 1999. He got his MBA from UW-Milwaukee in 2007 and also holds a BS in Consumer Science (a degree he can’t explain, either) from UW-Madison and thus cheers on the Badgers with reckless abandon. Eric is a graduate of the Future Milwaukee Leadership Program and participates in many community-minded events and initiatives, invited or not. When he’s not working, Paulsen enjoys running, road trips and practicing for a future career as a beer connoisseur.