SYRACUSE -- Starting in March, there will be a new home for ESPN Radio. Galaxy Communications is not only taking over the network affiliation from Citadel's WNSS 1260 -- the company will be offering ESPN's programming on the FM band, and it will bring the Spanish-language programming of ESPN Deportes into the market.
Updated at noon with Citadel response. Updated at 8pm to include Utica stations.
A press release from Galaxy Communications says ESPN Radio will be carried at 97.7 (W249BC/Mattydale) and 100.1 (W259AX/Oswego) on the FM dial. It will also be replacing the programming on WTLA 1200 and WSGO 1440. ESPN Deportes will be carried by WSCP 1070 (Sandy Creek).
All the changes are due to take place on March 5, 2010. Galaxy Communications CEO/President Ed Levine says, "While TK99 will remain the flagship of SU Athletics, you will also hear SU fotball, men's and women's basketball and men's lacrosse on ESPN. We are already working on additional SU programming for ESPN, plus we will have exciting news soon about major league baseball, and NFL football play-by-play."
Galaxy VP of Programming Mimi Griswold tells CNYRadio.com, "we have hired a Program Director for ESPN Radio although we are not ready to announce who it is yet. That person will be responsible for all hires."
ESPN Radio currently airs on Citadel's WNSS at 1260AM. Operations Manager Tom Mitchell confirms, "we have received a network cancellation notice from ESPN Radio effective March 2010." But he adds, "this change in network affiliation does not affect the status of our popular local afternoon host Brent Axe," whose show On the Block, is simulcast on WNSS and on Time Warner Sports 26.
Regarding the programming that will air on WNSS the remaining 21 hours when Axe isn't on the air, Mitchell says: "We will announce our plans soon."
Galaxy tells CNYRadio.com they're also bringing ESPN Radio to the Utica-Rome market. Programming there also begins on March 5, on the three stations branded as "The Game." The trio includes WTLB 1310 Utica, WIXT 1230 Little Falls and WRNY 1350 Rome. The company notes this is the first time ESPN Radio has been carried in the market.
The trio will continue to carry New York Yankees baseball and New York Giants radio, and Levine says the trio will also carry the Big East Mens Basketball Tournament, starting the week of March 8.
Revised 1/28 at 3:35pm - Thanks to a CNYRadio.com reader who pointed out we originally had one incorrect digit in the callsign for W249BC.
There's some irony in the WSCP-AM signal being used for ESPN-Deportes given it used to be a classic country format, one is about as opposite as you can get from the other. Is there really a demand for Spanish-language programming in this market? I ask that as a serious question. ..
Meanwhile, hopefully Galaxy or Citadel can bone WSYR/ClearChannel out of Yankees coverage in Syracuse so I don't have to put up with another summer of that pre-empting stuff I want to hear. Sports belong on the sports station. ...
Come to think of it, it's also ironic that the same clowns at Galaxy who shafted MRN Nascar coverage, have turned around and created a sports-format station group. In a market that already has two sports stations no less - but has no MRN coverage. But I guess it's not that surprising, it's certainly not the first time I've felt cause to question the decision-making skills (or lack thereof) of Mr. Levine.
So hey, WNSS - big hint - you have a big programming hole to fill - no one's carrying MRN in the market - some of us would like to be able to hear it - how about it?
The way the Syracuse Post-Standard wrote about this, it sounded as if ESPN was pretty eager to affiliate with a company that had a station to clear the Deportes programming, and Citadel just simply doesn't have any "free space" to add another station. You can't blame Citadel; regardless of anyone's opinions about the performance of their three FM stations, none of them is worth sacrificing to carry ESPN Deportes.
Apparently ESPN doesn't care that Syracuse doesn't have a huge Spanish-speaking-only population or the fact that WSCP is a rimshot AM signal originating 45 miles away from the metro -- as long as it's in Oswego County, it still counts as part of the Syracuse market. And they can add those numbers to their national totals when presenting rate cards to advertisers.
[...] in Syracuse, Citadel seemingly has decided on a new moniker for 1260 WNSS when it loses its ESPN Radio affiliation on March 5. Score1260.com and TheScore1260.com were registered at the same time as the [...]