SYRACUSE and UTICA-ROME -- The New ESPN Radio 97.7 and 100.1 FM haven't even launched yet, but owner Galaxy Communications is announcing some big additions to their programming lineups: namely, coverage of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this spring and live coverage of New York Giants games next season.
Those of you keeping score at home may recall live play-by-play coverage of March Madness was formerly carried by Clear Channel's Sportsradio 620 WHEN.
In a statement issued today, Galaxy CEO Ed Levine said, "97.7 and 100.1 ESPN Radio will be the first sports station in Central New York that is actually managed by sports fans." The combination of the NCAA tourney in addition to the previously-announced carriage of the Big East Tournament "will be a sensational March debut for the new FM version of ESPN Radio," Levine said.
Currently, ESPN Radio is carried in Syracuse on Citadel's 1260 WNSS, where it's been since 2001. As of March 5, Galaxy takes over the affiliation, offering ESPN on the FM dial at 97.7 (W249BC/Mattydale) and 100.1 (W259AX/Oswego). The network will also be carried on WTLA 1200 and WSGO 1440. Spanish-language ESPN Deportes will be carried by WSCP 1070 (Sandy Creek).
Citadel hasn't yet said what kind of programming will be offered on WNSS after its ESPN affiliation ends, other than to say its local afternoon show, On the Block with Brent Axe, will remain in place.
Galaxy also announced today it has signed a deal for The New ESPN Radio to carry live play-by-play coverage of New York Giants football next season. Levine calls the move "a great coup for the football fan as Giants play by play was not available in the just completed 2009 season."
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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.
Now let's see if he can bring the Syracuse Crunch games to this station;it'd be nice to listen to them in FM and wrestle this away from Cheap Channel errrrr Clear Channel.
Any word yet what format WNSS will be after the switch on March 5th? Are they going to stay with a sports format?
As it said in the story, no, Citadel hasn't yet announced what it's doing with WNSS as of March 5, 2010. Ops Manager Tom Mitchell did tell me last month he'd let me know when he's ready to announce the plans for WNSS, but so far, I haven't heard anything. Can't blame him; even if they do have a plan in place, they might be keeping it close to the vest until a later date.
The only thing we know right now is that WNSS plans to keep Brent Axe's afternoon show intact. Does that mean WNSS will still offer sports programming? Likely, but not definite. Galaxy will have ESPN and Clear Channel's WHEN already has Fox Sports. Since Clear Channel owns Premiere, which syndicates Fox Sports, I don't expect Citadel to "steal" Fox away from WHEN. Admittedly, I don't know tons about what's out there in terms of 24/7 sports radio networks, but I do know one of the few choices left is Sporting News Radio. SNR certainly isn't as well-known as ESPN or Fox Sports, but they'd be my first (and only) guess if Citadel plans to keep WNSS as an all-sports station.
Since Citadel said it will keep Brent Axe on board, I can't imagine WNSS flipping over to a music format (even though adult standards would fill the gap left open when WTLA and WSGO assume the ESPN feed)... but anything's possible. Either way, it looks like we'll have at least 3 official "format flips" on our hands before the first quarter of 2010 is over. (WTLA/WSGO and two FM translators going to ESPN, WSCP going to ESPN Deportes, and WNSS going to a format TBA.)
Back before Christmas I emailed and suggested WNSS pick up MRN's Nascar coverage, and did get a note back thanking me a bit after New Year's, but no clues what they plan to do in the note.
With WFBL back to talk, that seems an unlikely switch, too, although some stations successfully combine the two (WIBX and I believe WHAM are mostly talkers that have local hosted sports shows on the weekday schedule). Either way though it's a tough call, you're almost guaranteed to be #3 out of three in either format.
Be nice to see Galaxy get Yankees baseball away from Clear Channel. Both for me who doesn't want it to pre-empt Savage and for those who want to hear it who don't want to have to flip back and forth from WHEN to WSYR night to night to find it.