FRANKLIN, PETE (22 September 1927-23 November 2004) was a sports talk radio host who dominated Cleveland radio in the 1970s and 1980s.
Franklin, who was born in Massachusetts, served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater in World War II, where he had his first broadcast experience on Armed Forced Radio. He went to college on the G.I. Bill at Columbia University in New York, and worked in towns like McComb, Mississippi, Ahoskie, North Carolina, and Oakdale, Louisiana, before coming to Cleveland in 1967 to host an 11 p.m.- midnight sports talk show for WERE. In 1972, he left WERE for WWWE, and for the better part of the next 15 years, dominated Cleveland sports talk with his evening show “Sportsline,” which he said was heard “on over 38 states and half of Canada.”
Franklin cultivated a persona of an angry fan with no tolerance for stupid opinions, sometimes ending phone calls with the sound effect of a flushing toilet. He gave nicknames to regulars, one of whom was Mike Trivisonno, who would himself become a successful talk show host in Cleveland.
His targets weren’t just callers, but sports figures themselves. Former Indians player Duke Sims wanted to fight him in the studio, Franklin piled on Indians manager FRANK ROBINSON, and Cavs owner TED STEPIEN attempted to sue Franklin, filing a $15 million slander suit, which was dismissed by a judge. Longtime PLAIN DEALER sports editor Hal Lebovitz was also a target. Among Franklin’s promotions were “I hate the Yankees hankies” at Indians games.
Franklin briefly and unsuccessfully served as WWWE’s morning drive time host, and worked briefly for WKYC-TV in 1976. From 1985 to 1987, he also wrote a column three times a week for the Willoughby News Herald and Lorain Morning Journal. Franklin co-wrote You Could Argue But You’d Be Wrong with Terry Pluto. The book was released in 1988.
Franklin announced on 8 May 1987 that he would leave Cleveland in July for a $600,000 contract with WHN in New York City, which was becoming an all-sports talk radio station, changing its call letters to WFAN. He ended up being succeeded on WWWE by Geoff Sindelar, who like Trivisonno, started out as a caller into “Sportsline.”
A week after Franklin announced his job change, he had a heart attack that necessitated quadruple bypass surgery at the CLEVELAND CLINIC, delaying his move to the New York airwaves until September. In the meantime, a series of substitutes filled in for him on WFAN.
The resonance he had with fans in Cleveland eluded him in New York, and he resigned after less than two years with WFAN. He returned to Cleveland, but only lasted a year on WWWE. He then went to the Bay Area, hosting a show for KNBR in San Francisco from 1991 to 1997. He returned again to Cleveland airwaves for WTAM in 1998, hosting a show remotely from his home in California, and then broadcast for KTCT, also in the Bay Area, from 1999-2000 before retiring.
Franklin and his wife Pat had two children.