Much Ado About Sports Radio

We actually predicted this before local CBS Radio sports outlet WKRK/92.3 “92.3 The Fan” debuted last August.

We’d been hearing rumors that CBS was going to launch its own national sports talk radio network, though at the time we believed it would be limited to the night/weekend hours to fill time on its full-fledged sports talkers. The comparison we made was with CBS’ initial efforts to air KMOX/1120 St. Louis-based overnight host Jon Grayson (“Overnight America”) on other large market CBS news/talk stations.

The show survived on KDKA/1020 Pittsburgh and WCCO/830 Minneapolis, but was hooted off WBZ/1030 Boston in favor of the return of local talker Steve LeVeille…who recently retired (this time, presumably on his own terms). “Overnight America” is now syndicated by the Dial Global empire.

Anyway, instead of going in-house/in-company, CBS Radio went with Fox Sports Radio for its off hours on “92.3 The Fan”. But…not anymore.

CBS Radio and Cumulus have announced that they’re joining forces for the 24/7 CBS Sports Radio network, which debuts full-time January 2, 2013 and will start offering CBS Sports updates to affiliates this September 4th.

The network will be operated by CBS Sports, and distributed and represented by Cumulus (which already does so for ESPN Radio…various reports from the business media world say that deal is ending).

In addition to “various components” of the programming being offered to the company’s large market locally-programmed sports talkers (including WKRK here), Cumulus sports stations will also air CBS Sports Radio… including Toledo’s WLQR/1470-WLQR-FM/106.5 “106.5 The Ticket”, now an ESPN Radio affiliate.

We’ll assume that Cumulus’ two ESPN affiliates in the Youngstown market, WBBW/1240 and Mercer County’s WLLF/96.7, will be aboard as well…the CBS press release only listed top 100 market stations.

CBS Sports Radio will also air 24/7 on CBS AM stations in a number of large markets, including the AM side of stations that moved to FM. That includes Philadelphia (WIP/610 moved to 94.1 FM) and Detroit (WXYT/1270 moved to 97.1 FM).

And yes, that more than likely means the end of the WXYT/1270 Detroit afternoon drive show hosted by Ashtabula native and Northeast Ohio radio veteran Doc Thompson (WMJI/105.7, WLW/700, etc.). If 1270 is going 24/7 satellite-fed sports in January, there’d be no room for Doc.

The move comes after NBC Sports and Dial Global announced they would launch yet another sports radio network, NBC Sports Radio.

The odd man out? Probably Yahoo Sports Radio, which will lose big market clearances in Detroit and Chicago, where it airs off-hours on WSCR/670 “The Score”. We can’t see it surviving in a sports radio market with two new big network-run services.

ESPN Radio will lose the Cumulus stations, mostly in medium and small markets.

Fox Sports Radio will lose some clearances as well…in addition to “92.3 The Fan” here, Boston’s WBZ-FM 98.5 “The Sports Hub” also carries FSR in late night hours. We are assuming CBS Sports Radio will displace other networks in off-hours on all of the large market CBS-owned stations.

That, by the way, might be good news for one Cleveland sports radio personality.

Since Good Karma sports WWGK/1540, little brother to “ESPN 850 WKNR”, lost Fox Sports Radio, the station’s Mark “Munch” Bishop had limited time opportunities to fill in on FSR – since his station’s main competitor picked up that network.

“Munch” has most recently been filling in on FSR late Saturday afternoons, when “92.3 The Fan” is in local programming. Starting in January, he won’t have that timing problem.

Here’s one intriguing part of the CBS Sports Radio announcement:

Opportunities for affiliates to regionalize their lineup by choosing from select programs currently featured on CBS RADIO or Cumulus sports stations.

Could that mean that you might hear “92.3 The Fan” personalities somehow on those aforementioned Cumulus sports stations in Youngstown and Toledo? (Or “97.1 The Ticket” personalities heard in Toledo?) Even on a limited basis?

That, we don’t know.

But the Sports Radio battle, nationwide and locally, is getting even more interesting…


4 Responses to Much Ado About Sports Radio

  1. drewzuhoskydaily says:

    I hope CBS Sports Radio gets the rights to the NFL radio broadcasts. But with NBC and Dial Global (who currently has those rights,) joining forces, I’m not sure. I also hope that CBS personalities, like James Brown (who hosts a show on Sporting News Radio,) Tim Brando (whose program on Yahoo! Sports Radio is simulcast on CBS Sports Network,) Jim Rome (who has a show on CBS Sports Network,) gets his show transferred to CBS Sports Radio, and that Tracy Wolfson, (college football and basketball sideline reporter with NO radio show,) gets her own show.

    • Secondary Editorial Voice (tm) says:

      Dial Global has their own pre-existing relationship with CBS Radio (CBS Radio News are distributed by D-G), and the “NFL on Westwood One” and NCAA PBP packages are still run externally by CBS. In effect, outside of this, the entirety of the original “CBS Radio Network” IS within Dial Global. D-G also has a perpetual license to use all trademarks and such, which was struck between Westwood One and CBS before CBS spun off the company.

      Where it gets even more confusing is that, Cumulus will cease their sales/distribution of ESPN Radio, but they will still handle like duties for ABC News Radio… which is still run and managed by Disney/ABC. And yet… Cumulus is aligning with CBS for CBS Sports Radio.

      It’s a no-brainer now that CBS will try to rebuild what was “CBS Radio Sports” (that became “Westwood One Sports” and is now “Dial Global Sports”) by competing with ESPN for their MLB and NBA packages.

      As per “NBC Sports Radio,” I’m curious as to how that is launched. D-G and Comcast finally realized that they have a brand with some value in NBC that Westwood One and GE allowed to die throughout the 90s. It probably won’t be as extensive or as massive of a launch, and could be simulcast in parts with the “NBC Sports Network” on the TV side. Ditto with CBS Sports Radio and the “CBS Sports Network.”

      By the way, ESPN Radio will lose three big affiliates: KNBR-KTCT/San Francisco, WCNN/Atlanta and WWLS-KEPN/Oklahoma City.

  2. Jonathan in Lake County says:

    If Yahoo Sports Radio goes away, where does that put Steve Czaban’s morning show? Any chance he could move his gig to CBS Sports Network?… I would hate it if The Czabe lost his national morning show again. (After Fox Sports Radio in a bonehead move, let him go, before resurfacing on Sporting News / Yahoo Sports Network).

    • Secondary Editorial Voice (tm) says:

      Somehow, someway, YSR has outlasted every single prediction of their extinction. More likely that they could merge into either ESPN Radio or CBS Sports Radio (which would benefit either network by gaining some decent clearances in smaller markets).

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