Cumulus Ends Buffalo Bills Deal, Syracuse/Utica Impact Unclear

January 3, 2012 by

Updated 1/4 -- BUFFALO -- Multiple news media outlets in western New York's largest city are reporting Cumulus Media's Buffalo cluster has terminated its 13-year deal to broadcast and syndicate Buffalo Bills games. That report has been creating some question about radio coverage in Syracuse and Utica when the Bills return to the field for the 2012 NFL season later this year.

According to the Taylor on Radio-Info newsletter, Buffalo stations 97 Rock (WGRF) and 103.3 The Edge (WEDG) will no longer serve as the flagship stations of the Buffalo Bills Radio Network, after Cumulus walked away from the negotiating table.  So far, there's been no announcement on who will handle radio broadcasts next season.

Here in Syracuse, Cumulus sports talker The Score 1260 (WSKO) has been carrying Bills games since 2001, and WSKO afternoon host Brent Axe has been commuting to Buffalo to serve as pre-game show host, halftime show host, and post-game show reporter since 2009.

Although some media outlets have implied all Cumulus Media stations are terminating their relationship with the Bills, Citadel Syracuse Ops Manager Tom Mitchell told today, "The Score 1260 would be open to discussing affiliation with the new Bills network. We know that there is still strong fan interest and loyalty here in Central New York."

Updated 1/4: Even though Cumulus is ceasing its operation of the Buffalo Bills Radio Network,that doesn't automatically mean Axe will no longer be involved with game day coverage.  He tells, "I have not been informed what the structure of the new broadcast team will be, but I certainly hope to remain a part of it."

In Utica, Roser Communications Network's 95.5 WUTQ just became a Buffalo Bills affiliate last August.  Operations Manager Dave Silvers tells, "We enjoyed our first season as a Buffalo Bills' affiliate and likely would run the games again next season, if given the opportunity."  He goes on to say, "I'd imagine the Bills would love to see their radio network intact for the coming season and we're hoping someone grabs the flagship status and continues to distribute the games."

Also new on Wednesday 1/4, Buffalo's WKBW-TV says the Buffalo Bills have signed with Entercom's all-sports WGR to carry games in the Buffalo market next season.  The article says Entercom has also taken over the Bills Network affilation in the Rochester market, where Clear Channel-owned WHAM announced it's dropping the games.

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