Along with the change to the primary feed, 98.7 HD2 is now rebroadcasting ESPN Deportes Radio and 98.7 HD3 is a simulcast of the ESPNews television network.
Original Report 4/26: Emmis has agreed to LMA Urban AC “98.7 Kiss-FM” WRKS New York to ESPN.
The change will take effect Monday at 12:01am. WRKS will simulcast “1050 ESPN” WEPN until September at which time the AM will shift to Spanish Sports “ESPN Deportes Radio“.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times reports that Emmis will receive $8.4 Million from ESPN this year, with an annual increase of 3.5% going forward each year.
WRKS ranked 7th in the market in the March PPM monthlies with a 3.8 share. The move leaves YMF Media’s 107.5 WBLS as the sole Urban AC in the market. Emmis has sold the intellectual property related to Kiss-FM to YMF which will merge it into WBLS. WRKS is leaving behind 31 years of heritage in the Urban format.
The Press Release follows:
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on April 30, 2012, ESPN Radio New York (1050 AM) will be heard on 98.7 FM as a result of an agreement between ESPN Audio and 98.7â€™s owner, Emmis Communications. ESPN New York 98.7 is New Yorkâ€™s first 24/7 sports talk station on the FM band.
For now, 98.7 FM and 1050 AM will simulcast content but plans are to turn 1050 AM into an ESPN Deportes New York Radio owned operation in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage month (Sept. 15 â€“ Oct. 15).
The addition of 98.7 FM in metropolitan New York reinforces ESPN Audioâ€™s strategy to pursue FM distribution for its content. Of ESPNâ€™s 364 full-time affiliates, 137 are positioned on the FM band, representing a growth rate of 120% in the last two and a half years. FM stations make up 30% of ESPNâ€™s total affiliate base (not all are full-time).
â€œOpportunities like this donâ€™t come along too often and itâ€™s tremendous that we were able to conclude a deal that will enhance our mission of serving sports fans in not just English but Spanish as well,â€ said Traug Keller, ESPN Senior Vice President/Production, Business Divisions. â€œCome Fall, Spanish-speaking New Yorkers will have their first 24/7 sports talk radio station.â€
ESPN New York launched 11 years ago and will now feature a local weekday line-up that will remain mostly unchanged with Maxed Out in the Morning with Jared Max (4-6 a.m. ET), Mike Lupica (Noon-1 p.m.), Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco (1-3 p.m.) and The Michael Kay Show (3-7 p.m.). Patrick McEnroe will also have a Saturday show on the station from 10 a.m. to Noon, beginning May 5.
The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show is a new offering and capitalizes on Stephen A.â€™s widespread popularity on ESPN New York platforms and as a regular opposite Skip Bayless on ESPNâ€™s First Take (ESPN2, weekdays, 10 a.m.)
National shows, Mike & Mike in the Morning (6-10 a.m.) and The Herd with Colin Cowherd (10 a.m.-Noon), remain on ESPN New York and both continue to see increased listenership and penetration in the market. Februaryâ€™s ratings indicate ESPN New York has had five straight months with at least a 3.0 share, good for 12th place in the market with a 3.1, up 35% year to year.
â€œThis move to the FM dial is in keeping with the industry trend of sports radio shifting (from AM) and offers an even broader reach for our content,â€ said Dave Roberts, ESPN Radio New York Vice President and General Manager. â€œBy combining the FM reach with our wide variety of digital offerings from ESPN Audio, we are uniquely positioned to provide coverage of all of New Yorkâ€™s sports.â€