Update 4:30pm: The New York Daily News’ Bob Raismann also chimes in on the rumors, adding that WEPN will make adjustments to its lineup next week. The Daily News’ Mike Lupica would move his 2pm hour show to 12pm with Stephen A. Smith moving from nights to 1-3pm with Ryan Ruocco. Ruocco’s current co-host in the 12-2pm slot, Robin Lundberg would move to weekends where he’d be paired with former Tennis star Patrick McEnroe.
Raismann adds that should ESPN gain a full market FM for WEPN, 1050 will shift to Spanish Sports “ESPN Deportes Radio“. That is something we’ve heard for years as ESPN has pursued an FM outlet in New York.
Original Report 4/25 10:20am: Phil Mushnick of The New York Post reports that ESPN is on the verge of closing a deal to acquire an FM signal in New York.
As we discussed earlier this year, with the contracts for the Mets and Yankees radio rights up at the end of this year the time to strike against CBS’ WFAN is now. ESPN is currently heard on 1050 WEPN, a 50kW AM that is tightly directional away from 1060 KYW Philadelphia and 1050 CHUM Toronto making the signal hard to get in much of New Jersey.
WEPN holds the play-by-play rights to the New York Jets, Knicks, and Rangers and has done as well as it can with the 1050 signal. In March, it registered a 1.2 share to WFAN’s 2.7 in what is a down month for Sports stations between the end of the football season and beginning of baseball.
While not mentioned in Mushnick’s column, a likely target of ESPN is Family Radio’s 94.7 WFME. That station is the last of the commercial stations in Family’s portfolio following the sale of WFSI Annapolis, MD to CBS and WKDN Camden, NJ to Merlin Media. WFME changed its license from non-commercial to commercial in January and has been making engineering improvements in preparation of a sale. 94.7 and 1050 compliment each other as 94.7 is strongest in New Jersey and the western portions of the New York market, while 1050 is best on Long Island and the eastern sides.
This is not the first time we’ve expected ESPN to acquire an FM in New York. It registered domains connected to 96.3 before the station was sold by the New York Times Company to Univision in July 2009. It was also connected to 101.9 prior to it being sold to Merlin Media last year.