Much Ado About Sports Radio
June 21, 2012 4 Comments
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…