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WNDE Rebrands As Fox Sports 97.5

Fox Sports 97.5 Rush Limbaugh 1260 WNDE Indianapolis 93.1 WIBC iHeartMediaWith the addition of an FM translator 97.5 W248AW Indianapolis and Rush Limbaugh moving over from Emmis News/Talk 93.1 WIBC, iHeartMedia Sports 1260 WNDE Indianapolis has rebranded as “Fox Sports 97.5“.

Original Report 6/3: When Rush Limbaugh exits Emmis News/Talk 93.1 WIBC Indianapolis on July 3, he will find a new home on iHeartMedia Sports 1260 WNDE/97.5 W248AW Indianapolis.

WNDE will retain its Sports programming the remainder of the day including its locally originating afternoon show hosted by Jake Query and Bill Schultz from 3-7pm and Fox Sports Radio programming the remainder of the day. The 97.5 translator is in the process of relocating into the Indianapolis market from Franklin and iHeart indicates it will sign-on by the end of this month.

WNDE registered a 0.6 share in the April 2015 Nielsen Audio PPM ratings, placing it well behind Emmis’ “1070 The Fan” WFNI’s 2.1 share for its AM signal and 1.0 share for its 107.5 W298BB/WIBC-HD2 translator with a slightly different programming schedule.

INSTANT INSIGHT: Despite the spin in the press release below, there’s no way iHeartMedia would’ve placed Limbaugh on an owned Sports station if the company had any other affiliation options in the market. You can bet iHeart’s local management would much rather utilize their new translator for something other than a mish-mosh of Sports and Limbaugh. But when everyone one else says no and you need to save face, options become limited. This way iHeart can spin it that they were able to find a strong affiliate for Limbaugh in Indianapolis to potentially keep other affiliates from bailing.

iHeartMedia Indianapolis announced today the addition of The Rush Limbaugh Show as they debut 97.5 FM in the Indianapolis market. The station which will also simulcast Query & Schultz (3pm-7pm) and the FOX Sports Radio Network the remainder of the week, is expected to sign-on for the first time in late June, just in time for Limbaugh to find a new home in Indianapolis in July. The Rush Limbaugh Show will also simulcast on 1260 AM WNDE.

America’s most-listened-to talk radio program will be heard live on both stations Monday through Friday from 12 – 3 p.m. ET, effective July 6. 

The announcement comes after overwhelming response from Mr. Limbaugh’s decades-long, loyal following in the market who have eagerly awaited news about where to tune their radios in July.

Over the past year, The Rush Limbaugh Show was the #1 ranked talk program in its day-part in Indianapolis. Additionally, The Rush Limbaugh Show’s AQH Share increased 31.0% year over year in the key demo of Adults 25-54. (Sources: Nielsen Audio, PPM, APR14-APR15, AQH Rank, P 12+; and PPM, APR’14 to APR’15, AQH Share, A 25-54)

“Rush continues to be national radio’s dominate talk personality. We’re excited about the opportunity to have Rush join the iHeartRadio team on 97.5FM and 1260AM.” said Rick Green, Market President, iHeartMedia Indianapolis.

Nationally syndicated by Premiere Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show is heard on nearly 600 stations and is the highest-rated national radio talk show in America.  The iconic radio host is heard by up to 20 million people each week. Please visit www.RushLimbaugh.com for more information.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

32 Comments

  1. Profile photo of mikefromindiana


    Turns out i was right that Rush would end up at Iheart and one of their stations

  2. Profile photo of WeNeverKnew


    As our Lance said…”when you need to save face.”

    Hey, I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong. This one surprised me. I never thought WNDE would break format, even for three hours of El Rushbo. But Rush will return to 1260. Bottom line, iHeart couldn’t find a clearance. Not even at the Freedom simulcast. Think about that. Not even at Freedom.

    So to save face, iHeart clears Rush on Windy. Rick Green and his sales team will find a few new true believers that will blindly buy time despite Rush being severely damaged goods. WNDE will find a few listeners returning after two decades of listening to Rush on WIBC.

    After all, we’re talking about a largely forgotten AM that hasn’t seen a one share 6+ since Emmis rolled out the Fan. What can it really hurt? WNDE will likely get a bounce, from Rush and from the new 97.5 translator. Good for them, I guess.

    But that 150 watt translator at 97.5 is no serious threat to 93.1’s class B signal. Any iHeart spin to suggest otherwise might be laughable were it not, in reality, so desperate. A sad ending to a former great.

    • Profile photo of radioperson


      And Rush will probably end up on suburbans and rimshots in Boston, since (evidently) no one up there feels that the ROI will justify the current cost of the show. Add to that, the aging demos of old fashioned, polarizing “affirmation-based talk radio” (the younger people ain’t buying it since they think BOTH parties suck) and you have a deadly combination.

  3. Profile photo of Fightingirish


    Or maybe IHM will be desperate enough to put him on WKOX. The thought of him sandwiched in between latin salsa music would be downright hilarious.

  4. Profile photo of Johnathan


    I got the impression from FCC filings that iHeart originally wanted the translator to be fed by an HD subchannel of one of their FMs, which would allow them to program 97.5 independently of 1260. However, someone complained about this to the FCC (Cumulus?) and therefore iHeart was required, as a condition of moving 97.5 into the market, to agree that it would simulcast 1260 for 4 years after the move-in is complete. So I wouldn’t be surprised in 4 years if they split the simulcast, and change 97.5’s originating station to one of their HD2 or HD3 channels so that they can program it on its own.

    • Profile photo of mikefromindiana


      Well if you technically listen to the WNDE top of the hour ID right now

      its WNDE/WFBQ HD2 Indianapolis

      SO techincally since WNDE Is already being fed to an HD2 of WFBQ. they could say hey we have WNDE on an HD2 though thus being able to seperate if they tried their hardest. but then again cumulus would cry foul

      Because when you look at 107.5 WFNI technically simulcasts 1070 on 93.1 HD2 save 10am to 3pm during the week and will seperate off 93.1 HD2/107.5 for issues with dual sports PBP at the same time

      because the legal id for WFNI is WFNI/WIBHC HD2/W298BB Indianapolis (Save when they break off the 107.5 signal then its WIBCHD2/W298BB

      Like i said Iheart if they tried with the fact WNDE is on the WFBQ HD2 signal they could try but Cumulus would cry

      • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew


        Thought it was Emmis, not Cumulus, who applied some heat regarding WNDE and 97.5?

        • Profile photo of mikefromindiana


          No it was Cumulus.

          I think Iheart was gonna put a challenge towards WJJK on 97.5 via either 103.3 or 94.7 HD2

          and anyways Emmis was the original feeder of 97.5 for Air-1 before EMF sold the translator to IHeart

          • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew


            Isn’t this what we’re talking about? In Lance’s own words:

            “97.5 W248AW Franklin, IN has applied to modify its move to Indianapolis with a shift to an adjacent tower with 150 watts at 276 meters rebroadcasting Sports 1260 WNDE Indianapolis (Coverage Map). iHeartMedia is in the process of acquiring the translator from Educational Media Foundation, which was originally being disputed by Emmis on the condition that iHeart intended to rebroadcast an HD subchannel of 94.7 WFBQ on the translator. iHeart responded by stating that was to be a temporary condition to close the sale, but now agrees to keep the translator rebroadcasting WNDE for four years as required by the Mattoon Waiver and Emmis has dropped its Petition For Reconsideration.”

  5. Profile photo of joseph_gallant


    This option isn’t available in Boston, since of iHeart’s two AM stations, the company leases WXKS-1200 24/7 to Bloomberg, and WKOX-1430 is a fulltime Spanish-language station which I can’t see going English-language talk for three hours every weekday afternoon.

  6. Profile photo of Autodyne


    “Save face?” How is Premiere going to “save face” in Boston? They’d have to eat their fee to place Rush on a station there. ~That~ would be the tactic if “saving face” was important.

    Placing an out-of-format product in middays on your dinky corporate owned sports-talk station in 3-sports-format Market #40 is called “clearing Premiere national inventory.” Selling advertisers on a prime show by saying that it clears in ‘every measured market’ is easier to do if you only have to stretch that definition in a few markets. It also pays more of Limbaugh’s salary out of station revenues, certainly a corporate financial priority even if it’s a bit of a shell game as practiced here. When you have stations that are asterisks in your portfolio, and you can use them to your financial advantage, you do it. When you don’t have a station to do that with in Boston, and you don’t want to give away the product, you don’t.

    If “saving face” means ‘leveraging your financial assets where available to realize increased return,’ I suppose that could be characterized as insightful, though it seems more like a pedestrian accounting practice.

    • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew


      Yeah…I suppose. Though outside of stretching that “clears in every measured market” definition, I’m not sure where iHeart will see any “financial advantage” or “increased return” in the Indpls move. Does the potential for some new money from the die-hards determined to support Rush balance out the dollars lost in the no placement orders that are sure to follow Rush to WNDE?

    • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


      I agree with Lance; this move was more to placate the remaining non-iHeart-owned affiliates for the program for the time being. Eating the fee for the final contract year at least prevents a bad situation from getting much worse.

      • Profile photo of Autodyne


        I think you’re missing the point: iHeart is shuffling the fee from one pocket to another in Indy, so while they’re essentially eating the fee there, they’re not handing the show and potential revenue to an outsider. In Boston, in order to place the show, they’d have to do that. And it appears that they will not. Tell me WMEX wouldn’t jump at running the show if it was handed to them for next to nothing. They were fine with Hannity and Beck until Premiere pulled them.

        • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew


          And again, unless I’m seriously missing something, how is this any real benefit considering the losses iHeart Indpls is destined to experience by the corporate forcing of Rush on WNDE?

          Bottom line? Emmis is wisely moving forward in dropping Limbaugh. iHeart is desperately moving back in forcing him onto WNDE and the new 97.5 translator.

          There is no future in Rush. This is scorched earth programming on the part of iHeart.

          • Profile photo of Autodyne


            “how is this any real benefit considering the losses iHeart Indpls is destined to experience by the corporate forcing of Rush on WNDE?”
            What losses? Is iHeart generating more revenue in the midday slot on an AM, the third sports signal in Indy, than they would clearing their own national inventory in Market 40 and the attendant “covered in all measured markets” bullet point? I doubt it.

            “Bottom line? Emmis is wisely moving forward in dropping Limbaugh. iHeart is desperately moving back in forcing him onto WNDE and the new 97.5 translator.”

            It may make sense for Emmis to drop the show and its fee, but it also makes sense for iHeart to leverage an already-marginal asset to boost one of their prime syndication products.

            “There is no future in Rush. This is scorched earth programming on the part of iHeart.”

            We’ll revisit this misguided notion after Limbaugh’s new contract is announced next year.

  7. Profile photo of Nathan Obral


    WNDE also has WMMS’ Shane “Rover” French (and his Stern-ripoff act) in morning drive. That Rover and Rush are on the same lineup for any station is bizarre and smacks of a lack of faith of iHeart in Rush.

    Just by this move alone, you can’t help but think that iHeart/Premiere is quietly waiting until their contract with Rush runs out, and then they can cut all ties.

    • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew


      My understanding is that Rover is gone as of this past Monday.

      • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


        Heh, another lost affiliate for Shane.

        For those unfamiliar, Shane was one of the “Free FM” Stern regional replacements… and went on to lose all of his affiliates but Rochester, NY… complete with a flagship switch from WKRK to WMMS.

        At least the schedule won’t be as nightmarish. But still.

        • Profile photo of mikefromindiana


          yEAH mIKE nORTH and ANdy Furman are back on WNDE

        • Profile photo of Autodyne


          Rover kept two more affiliates than David Lee Roth. Of course DLR had another career to fall back on, which is a good thing, since talk radio really wasn’t his strength. The people who conceived of his show and hired him should have followed him out the door. There are likely people who never tuned in to “Free FM” again after that fiasco.

    • Profile photo of Autodyne


      “Just by this move alone, you can’t help but think that iHeart/Premiere is quietly waiting until their contract with Rush runs out, and then they can cut all ties.”

      Because of what happens on 1260AM in Market 40? Really??

      I can’t help but think that you’re just phoning it in now.

      Read Tom Taylor again.

      • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


        Rush will never see a deal like he has right now ever again. And iHeart got thrust into $20B in debt in part because of this vertical integration shell game.

        He’s already gone through major affiliate changes in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco (three times in two years), has lost major FM affiliates in his previous stomping grounds of Kansas City and Pittsburgh (the latter where iHeart gave up on talk outright and sold their entire programming inventory to a marginal AM signal), just lost major non-iHeart owned stations in Boston and Indianapolis, and is rumored to lose Chicago.

        BECAUSE the majority of revenue from Rush’s show comes from those exorbitant affiliate fees, how can any new deal without those fees work? Not even taking Rush’s ego into account, the success of his subscription-based web site isn’t worth the albatross that is his daily radio show.

        If iHeart really was committed to keeping Rush in the fold, corporate would have ordered the local cluster to force the newly-acquired 98.3 to adopt an all-talk format and cleared him there… not shoehorn him onto an all-sports station.

        • Profile photo of Autodyne


          “Rush will never see a deal like he has right now ever again. And iHeart got thrust into $20B in debt in part because of this vertical integration shell game.”

          Careful. Someone on another board got a root canal without Novocaine for making that claim and not being able to back it up. Rush’s $300M contract didn’t cause $20B in debt. Remember, the company made good money with the program for years; that’s why the last contract was what it was.

          “He’s already gone through major affiliate changes.”

          And that didn’t affect the other affiliates. He still has 600+. So why would they be scrambling over Indy and not care about Boston? Because they can. Leveraging a marginal asset. Optimum situation? Of course not. But financially, the best they can do under the circumstances at low to no cost to iHeart. That AM w translator wasn’t going to be electrifying the Market #40 media world as the third full-time sports signal either.

          “BECAUSE the majority of revenue from Rush’s show comes from those exorbitant affiliate fees, how can any new deal without those fees work”

          It can’t. Premiere will negotiate the next contract so that it can work with reduced fees, based on the value of the show to hundreds of not-all-prime but-strapped-for-anything-else affiliates and a lucrative website operation. Remember, Limbaugh is still a major draw to the talk format, which most AMs have no replacement for.

          “If iHeart really was committed to keeping Rush in the fold, corporate would have ordered the local cluster to force the newly-acquired 98.3 to adopt an all-talk format and cleared him there… not shoehorn him onto an all-sports station.”

          Not at all. ~That~ would cost iHeart. We all agree political news-talk doesn’t perform as well with lower demos as other readily available formats, so it wouldn’t make sense to put Limbaugh on an FM when you have an AM available, with a token FM presence for bragging rights. Again, a financially sound move under the circumstances.

          If it was really about “saving face,” iHeart might have sacrificed 98.3 for a year or two. It’s about finance – clearing national inventory.

          • Profile photo of charles57


            The “root canal” comment refers to the NYRMB, whose moderator blindly attacks anyone who challenges the conventional wisdom.

            Right now Limbaugh is a major draw only if you’re in a state with a hard-right government. His increasingly unhinged comments — like what he said about the former Bruce Jenner — confirm that Limbaugh has become a liability. I wouldn’t be surprised if some iHeartMedia talk stations are begging the brass in NYC to let them drop Limbaugh now.

          • Profile photo of mikefromindiana


            I think if IHeart could managed to have split off 97.5 from 1260 at least for the 3 hours of Rush they would do it but with Emmis calling them out on The Plans iheart had for 97.5 got thrown out the window. so either IHeart would either had to do with what they did with Rush by throwing him on WNDE (Still could have been Big, Q or Alt to be honest for 3 hours) But since WNDE was the best option because of WNDE being already in a form of a talk format they could slide in rush better than throwing Rush on in the midday on Q, Alt or Big

        • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew


          Another bullseye for Nathan.

          • Profile photo of Autodyne


            If he was seeking to display his willful* misunderstanding of media finance, then, yes. Direct hit.

            *Willful, because Nathan clearly understands media finance when emotion isn’t overshadowing his ability to reason.

          • Profile photo of Autodyne


            And to Charles above:

            “The ‘root canal’ comment refers to the NYRMB, whose moderator blindly attacks anyone who challenges the conventional wisdom.”

            I’m surprised you attack that other site’s moderator. He still lets you post. I’m generally no fan of that moderator’s mode of operation, but that moderator called a poster on the carpet who was blindly bleating the “conventional wisdom” and claiming professional knowledge to back it up when in fact he had….. nothing. He had ~no~ facts. That was a long and embarrassing thread, and it’ll probably be awhile before someone thinks they can blow smoke out their backside with impunity again. Over there.

            As to the “blah blah blah” portion of your post, again, we’ll talk after Limbaugh’s contract is announced next year.

          • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew


            You know what, Autodyne? I was about to reply in the affirmative to what you’d written to my comment above. Then I made the mistake to check where else you might have replied.

            Frankly, sir, I don’t appreciate your attitude. I ask a simple question. I reply from my understanding. I don’t pretend to be an expert. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m an old-timer trying to understand the operation of radio today. But I do know that a factual, reasoned reply can be presented without resorting to the writing style you’ve presented here.

            Yes, when it comes to WNDE, I’ll acknowledge that there is emotion in my response. I grew up listening to 1260. First as top rated but old school MOR WFBM. Then, through high school as top 40 WNDE. The caliber of talent presented on “Windy 1260” inspired me…made me want to be part of this industry. I’m proud to say that in the years since, I’ve been blessed to have worked with many of the personalities that I listened to on 1260.

            I’ll be the first to admit that I dislike the idea that all 1260 is now worthy of is its current use as a dumping ground for un-clearable elsewhere Premiere programming. It hurts to admit that a radio station that I enjoyed, that I learned from, is now basically an asterisk in the iHeart portfolio. WNDE is being drained of all remaining life before being relegated to the junkyard of radio history. To me, that sadly seems scorched earth.

            And yes, I understand that there is little to no future beyond Rush — so why does it matter. I can see how you’re right about “leveraging an already marginal asset.” I wish it weren’t that way.

            I wish Limbaugh would have had the integrity to step away, rather than steadily lower himself to the level of has been liability for all but those asterisk iHeart properties or some small signal talker like the Indpls Freedom simulcast. I may well be wrong, but I think Limbaugh would be wise to step away from your predicted new contract.

            If I look as if I don’t understand media finance, so be it. At 56, I’m wise enough and willing enough to acknowledge that I still have things to learn, about life, about finance, and about an industry where in “market # 40” I made a good living for many years. I’m proud of that work. I’m proud to have been part of what you seemingly want to dismiss as “market # 40.” and what I consider to be a damned excellent radio market, despite it’s less than major market population.

            As for you, Autodyne, reply or not. It doesn’t matter to me. I won’t see it. The ignore function on this site can be quite a blessing.

          • Profile photo of Autodyne


            Appreciate your honest response below, NeverKnew. I’m trying to counter the emotional responses because with Limbaugh, they seem to be the norm out of the mouths of people who know better. Sorry you won’t be part of the future debate.

          • Profile photo of Autodyne


            Also, NeverKnew, I’m not trying to belittle Market 40 in any way, I’m just citing its size in supporting my claim that Premiere isn’t trying to ‘save face’ by assigning Limbaugh to Windy, but merely clear spots.

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