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97.9 ESPN Debuts In Hartford

97.9 ESPN Hartford 1410 WPOP 1300 WAVZ WPKX Windsor Locks Mike Mike Cowherd

Update 1/27:97.9 ESPN” launched at 6am today.

Currently running the national ESPN Radio lineup in full, 97.9 will soon add a local afternoon show. The station gives ESPN an FM signal audible at its Bristol, CT headquarters.

Update 1/25: 97.9 and 100.9 have both applied for licenses for their new tower locations and have begun testing at half power. The new 97.9, licensed to Windsor Locks CT transmits from downtown Hartford and will operate with 3.4kW from 443 feet. 100.9, formerly AAA WRNX, has been simulcasting with 97.9 since Halloween. It will now operate with 870 watts from 860 feet, approximately 13 miles north of Springfield.

Original Report 12/6: As 97.9 WPKX prepares to make its move from Springfield, MA to Hartford, Clear Channel has registered a number of domains giving our first clues at the format the station will take.

The company registered seven domains on Friday for possible use on the station: 979ESPN.com, 979Magic.com, 979Mix.com, 979StarFM.com, ESPN979.com, Smooth979.com, and WUCS-FM.com.

Four of the domains hint at a variation of AC, which makes sense considering CBS’ “Lite 100.5” is leading the market. The two ESPN domains would indicate the moving of “ESPN Radio 1410” WPOP to FM. Considering ESPN’s headquarters are in neighboring Bristol, CT we can see the company actively pursuing an FM affiliate in its hometown.

No request has been made for the WUCS calls as of yet. 97.9 is still WPKX, which will soon join the Kix Country format on 100.9 WRNX when 97.9 signs off in Springfield.

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.

11 Comments


  1. I still wouldn’t discount a talk format on 97.9, whereas Clear Channel can run all of the syndicated talk shows from their Premiere Networks division (taking them away from other stations; i.e. taking Rush away from WTIC-1080), and perhaps adding either a syndicated morning drive show, or simulcast Jeff Katz out of sister station WXKS-1200 Newton/Boston, MA.

    This would be, for them, a “dirt cheap” way to launch an FM talker.


  2. Talk or ESPN on the 97.9? Who knows; if ESPN moved to FM they could poss. run talk on the AM.

    CC does have talk on relatively nearby WHYN 560 (local show,
    Beck, Rush, Howie, Savage etc.)

    btw in Bristol ESPN is on 98.1 “WX4ESPN”, experimental
    Wikipedia:
    “A station under FCC experimental guidelines confined to the range of ESPN’s broadcasting campus with a range of 134 watts and also transmitting in HD Radio. Their HD2 subchannel carries ESPN Deportes Radio, with HD3 rotating among other ESPN Radio stations owned by ABC across the country.:

    • Profile photo of Lance Venta


      That 98.1 experimental station is gone. 98.1 is in 97.9’s now protected contours.


      • Thanks for the info about the 98.1…good point. I was driving right by ESPN’s campus a few months back and it was on, but I can see why it would have to be gone now.


  3. If the new ESPN Radio station in Hartford is to make any sort of a splash, it will need local/regional play-by-play.

    The “big prize”, which would put them “on the map” immediately, is to wrest U/Conn sports (football, men’s and women’s basketball) away from WTIC-1080. The basektball teams especially would draw listeners, given that both have been national champions in recent years, and are, in terms of fan interest, far and away the state’s two most popular sports teams.

    While WTIC’s signal by day covers all of Connecticut (and at night, much of the Eastern United States), I beleive U/Conn already has a regional network for their sports in place, and will thus have stations to “fill in” the spots where 97.9 isn’t strong (or is received at all).

    Another possibility, which could be much sooner, is Major League Baseball. I don’t know how long WTIC’s contract to be a Boston Red Sox affiliate lasts, or the status of New York Yankees or New York Mets broadcasts in Hartford. But I can see the new station grabbing one of those teams, if broadcasts of that team are available for 2012.


    • To suggest that 97.9 poach WTIC for their live play-by-play is unethical and immoral. Clear Channel may have a lot of issues but poaching other stations for live sports is not one of them. Besides, nobody listens to AM radio on skywave at night anymore.

      WPOP has carried the Yankees for many years and it won’t take much to move them to 97.9.


  4. If they’re simulcasting WPOP I would think they would, for now, carry the Yankees broadcasts on the FM. Whether they could make a play for
    Sox rights, who knows. As for Mets the power of WFAN’s signal means they don’t really bother with an English-language network, and indeed some stations like WTRY 980 in Troy have switched to the Sox…I don’t know if Clear Channel would go for the Mets on 97.9. More likely keep Yankees or go for Sox when rights become available.


  5. As for WFAN-660:

    There is much speculation in New York that should parent CBS keep the radio rights to the New York Yankees after the coming (2012) season, the Pinstripes will move to WFAN in 2013.

    From CBS’s point of view, it would make a lot of sense (“The Greatest Name In Sports—-The New York Yankees—-Are Now On The Greatest Name In Sports Radio, WFAN!”).

    As to how it would affect Hartford, it might result in WPOP-1410/97.9 going for New York Mets’ games in 2013 and beyond, given WFAN’s relatively strong signal in the Hartford area.

    But stranger things have happened.


  6. For some reason the sites 979espn.com and espn979.com are re-directing to iheartradio
    Briefly they were the standard clear channel sports-radio site,
    with links to iheart, etc.plus sports news but now it’s just a redirect to
    iheart. The WPOP site does have a couple mentions of the new
    FM.

    And yes it’s true the Yankees could move to WFAN but that won’t be till the 2013 season, if it happens at all

    • Profile photo of Lance Venta


      Try the new domains with www. in front of it. CC hasn’t properly set the DNS for them so without the www they occasionally redirect to IHeart.


  7. Thanks! That does work

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