ESPN Radio blowing up in Tampa, Orlando


ESPN RadioRBR-TVBR First: CBS Radio is flipping Hot AC WSJT-FM Tampa to SportsRadio 98.7 The Fan, simulcasting with its WQYK-AM, 1010 Sports. The flip is scheduled for August. Meanwhile, Genesis Communications announced its radio stations in Tampa (WHBO-AM 1040) and Orlando (WHOO-AM 1080), are ending their licensing agreement with ESPN Radio after a ten-year affiliation. The stations will continue to broadcast sports programming as well as new original content.

The new content will also be available in audio and video form on and The site will be retired.

The move by Genesis is being driven by listener demand for more exclusive content. “The time has come to develop more new local stars and original programming not available on other competing audio media platforms,” said Bruce Maduri, president of Genesis Communications. “Genesis will focus on bringing new and compelling local and national content to listener and advertisers, which will include sports/talk and play-by-play, all under a branding strategy both will love.”

Contrarily, ESPN Radio makes its once-exclusive programming readily available to the public on multiple audio and video channels and platforms such as web radio, satellite radio, mobile devices, broadcast television, cable television and more.  At the same time, ESPN Radio has driven up its syndication costs and inventory required by its affiliates under the umbrella of non-exclusive content.

Genesis Communications will be making announcements in the coming months regarding its new programming in the Tampa Bay and Orlando markets. The formal transition from ESPN to new local and national content will occur by October 1, 2012.

Genesis’ WAMT ESPN Deportes AM 1190 in Orlando-Melbourne dropped the format last December.

We had heard the ESPN Radio deal with Genesis started going sour months ago when the contract talks didn’t renew as they usually had before re-upping with the network. Then, when they did begin, ESPN Radio wanted everything but the kitchen sink from Genesis CEO Bruce Maduri.

While one would think ESPN likely has a deal with CBS Radio to put ESPN Radio on the upcoming WQYK-AM/WSJT-FM simulcast in Tampa, that may not end up being the case. We hear the simulcast is going to continue to be all local talent and programming, so they’re not going to be carrying Mike & Mike, Colin Cowherd, etc.

So, no word on where ESPN Radio will end up in Tampa—perhaps Clear Channel’s WDAE-AM…if their relationship with Fox Sports doesn’t forbid. ESPN tells us: “We’re talking to everyone in the market.”

RBR-TVBR observation: A good move for Maduri would be to sign with Dial Global’s NBC Sports Radio Network for WHOO and WHBO. One should also note that the key factor about an online sports fan is that they are extremely loyal, interactive and interact strongly with their local sports radio station websites. So whomever has the better local website will often become a dominant factor in the marketplace.