In 2003, ABC Radio Networks and ESPN teamed up to produce Spanish language radio broadcasts of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, League Championship Series and World Series. The initiative was branded ESPN Deportes Radio. The radio network was syndicated nationwide by the Latino Broadcasting Company and the games were carried by affiliates in many of the top Hispanic markets, including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and San Diego.
In 2005, we joined forces with Lotus Communications to launch ESPN Deportes Radio as a full-time radio network. Lotus Communication’s KWKW-AM served as the flagship for ESPN Deportes Radio. The initiative produced the first around-the-clock national Spanish-language sports radio network in the U.S.
The growth for ESPN Deportes Radio has been on-going since its debut. At launch, ESPN Deportes Radio was distributed by seven affiliates. Today, ESPN Deportes Radio has coverage in 45% of the U.S. Hispanic population, a total of 24 affiliates– eleven of which are in the top 25 U.S. Hispanic markets. In July 2007 we added affiliates in Dallas, New Jersey and Knoxville.
Setting new standards for the Spanish-language radio industry – and the radio industry as a whole –has been in ESPN Deportes Radio’s DNA since its launch. I believe that the success of this brand has been driven by employee’s passion, hard work and focus on our mission and continual innovation. Radio plays an important role in the Latino community and we found that there was a void to be filled. Despite the growing numbers of the Hispanic population, the community did not have an all-sports radio network in Spanish. Serving the U.S. Hispanic sports fan with high-quality, culturally relevant sports content has been the driving force behind ESPN’s efforts in the U.S. Hispanic community. We are focused on producing culturally relevant programming.
ESPN Deportes Radio produces over 15 talk shows and provides more than 8,500 hours of talk and events annually. Some of the marquee sports events we air include Major League Baseball’s All Star Game, Post Season and World Series, UEFA Champions League, Mexican First Division and Dominican Baseball.
Some success stories:
• KWKW-AM ESPN Deportes Radio affiliate in Los Angeles. According to the Winter 2007 Arbitron book, KWKW was ranked No. 1 in TSL among all radio stations in the market.
• 6/25/07, ESPN Deportes Radio launched in three new markets – Dallas, New Jersey and Knoxville. We can now be heard on KNIT-AM in Dallas, WADB-AM in central New Jersey and WKCE-AM in Knoxville.
The affiliate in Dallas will be managed and operated by ESPN, Inc., making it the first Spanish-language radio station to be fully managed by the company.
• 6/25/07, ESPN Deportes Radio announces an exclusive agreement with Hugo Sanchez, head coach of the Mexican National Team. He will join ESPN Deportes Radio soccer experts Jorge Ramos to cohost a talk show that explores current events in the world of Mexican soccer and beyond.
• In 2006, ESPN Deportes Radio acquired rights to Copa America, the main soccer competition from South America. We also signed a deal with MRN Radio, becoming the exclusive Spanish-language radio home of NASCAR.
Oscar Ramos is Senior Director and GM of ESPN Deportes Radio