In May 2017, Entercom Communications raised eyebrows by luring a highly respected sports executive as its very first President of what will be called “Entercom Sports.”
Mike Dee, previously President/CEO of the San Diego Padres Major League Baseball club and, before that, President/CEO of the Miami Dolphins and COO of the Boston Red Sox, came on board as Entercom sought to dominate sports talk and play-by-play across many of its markets.
In the Gateway City, the company is saying farewell to a team that’s been associated with one of its properties — legendary Class A KMOX-AM 1120 in St. Louis — since 1974.
Entercom calls it a mutual decision.
In an announcement made midday Thursday (1/31), Hubbard Radio‘s WXOS-FM “101 ESPN revealed that it will be the new radio flagship of the St. Louis Blues National Hockey League franchise, starting with the 2019-20 season.
This shifts Blues games to a Class C1 FM blanketing the entire metropolitan area and on a “crisp and clear FM stereo signal,” Hubbard was quick to point out.
For 44 seasons, Blues games have been a staple of KMOX, a Class A 50kw clear channel facility that is one of the few facilities that can be heard after dark in both California and along the East Coast of the U.S.
Hubbard Brand Content Director in St. Louis Chris “Hoss” Neupert said, “Our entire team is looking forward to our partnership with the Blues and the opportunity to offer innovative content and exclusive interviews, analysis and coverage for St. Louis fans.”
Hubbard/St. Louis VP/Market Manager John Kijowski added, “It has always been a dream to partner with the St. Louis Blues organization. The Blues management team is a class act and their fans are the best in professional hockey.”
The transition to WXOS comes amid transition among St. Louis radio owners. KMOX was once part of CBS Radio and went to Entercom as part of its Reverse Morris Trust-fueled tax-free merger with the former arm of CBS Corp.
As such, the most recent Blues deal with KMOX was negotiated with CBS Radio at the start of the 2015-2016 season. That deal included not only KMOX but also KYKY-FM (Y98) and KEZK-FM. KYKY aired select Blues games; KMOX introduced three new weekly shows during the season and aired a 30-minute post-game show.
But, KYKY is an AC, and KMOX is a News/Talk giant. This suggest the Blues wanted an all-Sports home for its radio play-by-play, as well as its shoulder programming.
On Thursday evening, an Entercom representative explained to RBR+TVBR that the company did not lose the rights to the Blues. Rather, the company “made a strategic decision to mutually part ways with the team because we are making way for changes in the sports category in St. Louis.”
KMOX is the flagship station for the St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball Club.
A statement prepared for social media but not shared “due to an error” confirms that Entercom and the Blues mutually agreed to part ways.
Interestingly, the 2015 deal with CBS Radio came following a change in ownership of the Blues. At the time, CBS Radio SVP/Market Manager John Sheehan said, “KMOX is proud to be the home for St. Louis Blues Hockey for years to come.”
Sheehan departed the station group in February 2018, three months after Entercom assumed control. He now serves as a SVP at commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE.
Correction: an earlier version of this story stated that WXOS was owned by Emmis. This is incorrect. It was acquired from Bonneville International Corp. in 2011. We regret the error.