Chicago has two Sports Talk stations in WSCR-AM and ESPN’s WMVP-AM, but now it has one more—and it’s live and local. Last week, Tribune’s WGN-AM reached a deal to run 87.7 FM WGWG-LP through an LMA to launch a new format on 2/17. It’s called “The Game,” and as we mentioned, mornings will lead off with Jonathon Brandmeier. Said Chicago media expert Robert Feder: “The rest of the day will be sports-oriented, starting with veteran WGN sports host David Kaplan and Chicago Tribune sports columnist David Haugh in middays. WGN’s Alex Quigley and Big Ten Network’s Howard Griffith will host early afternoons, followed by the duo of Harry Teinowitz and Spike Manton in late afternoons. WGN’s Mark Carman will be on in evenings, followed by overnight programming from NBC Sports Radio. WGN’s Jordan Bernfield will be a full-time sports reporter.”
“We’re going after a young, more educated sports audience,” Jimmy deCastro, president and general manager of news/talk WGN, told Feder. “We want this to be young and hip and fun. For everything the FM band is different. That’s why people went to it. It’s our belief that sports in Chicago is now analogous with pop culture — and that includes music and entertainment and movies. Like we have at WGN, we’re hiring smart spoken-word people who, in this case, are able to talk about sports.”
Todd Manley, VP/creative content at WGN, told Feder a number of other significant hires — including at least two women — will be announced as those deals are finalized.
The station will run through September 2015, when the FCC shuts down all analog LPTV stations. Of course, 87.7 is VHF Channel 6 audio.
The announcement dovetails with the end of an alternative music simulcast with Cumulus’ WKQX 101.1 FM there–which was LMA’d from Merlin Media last month.
RBR-TVBR observation: One commenter on the story had a good point that we’ve seen in numerous markets with 87.7 frequencies as well: The vast majority of US digital display radios which can tune to 87.7 do not have the ability to go ‘directly’ to 87.75, which is the station’s actual frequency. The result is a distorted audio signal which sounds pretty bad unless you are fairly close to the station. This isn’t a problem with old analog receivers.