In his column today reporting on the shutdown of 890 ESPN, our pal Chad Finn tosses an interesting twist into the local sports radio state of things. He writes:
According to multiple industry sources, ESPN is in discussions to air some of its national programming on WEEI-AM 850 during nights and weekends, with WEEI intending to move to an FM station within months. (Entercom Communications, which owns WEEI, also owns two FM stations in Boston: WAAF 97.7/107.3, and Mike 93.7.)
ESPN Radio would then take over the 850 spot on the dial. The new ESPN 850 station would then be affiliated with the ESPN Boston website, which launches Monday.
Now THAT would be a big shuffle, which would just be latest in a series of frenzied moves by WEEI as they take on the new competitor in the market, 98.5 The SportsHub WBZ-FM.
I talked about the possible FM switch for WEEI a few weeks ago:
That post looks at the options for WEEI in the FM market here, and what the possibilities might be. The move suggested above wouldn’t just be a simulcast, it would be a full switch to FM, with ESPN radio taking over 850…which would be sort of interesting. Why would WEEI want another source of sports radio competition in town, one with a signal that they previously occupied? Would WEEI want to hand ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning a spot where they could compete better with Dennis & Callahan? Unless they feel that having two programs locally to compete against WBZ-FM’s Toucher & Rich is the way to go.
Mike & Mike is the one show that ESPN seems to insist on local affiliates airing.
Dan Kennedy doesn’t think this is a smart move for ESPN.
It’s going to be really interesting to see how this all shakes out.