Cumulus Breaks WMAL Washington Simulcast To Launch ESPN 630

ESPN 630 WMAL 105.9 WMAL-FM Washington DC RedskinsCumulus Media is partnering with ESPN to launch “ESPN 630” WMAL Washington DC on July 1.

The new format will feature ESPN Radio’s national programming including Mike Golic & Trey Wingo in mornings and Stephen A. Smith from 1-3pm. WMAL will also become the flagship station for the NFL’s Washington Redskins. The News/Talk format will continue on 105.9 WMAL-FM Woodbridge VA.

The ESPN programming had been heard on Radio One’s “980 The Team” WTEM Washington, which previously was known as “ESPN 980” until January 2018. WMAL/WMAL-FM had shared Redskins broadcasts with WTEM the past couple of years.

WMAL becomes the third Sports station in the Washington market along with WTEM and Entercom’s “106.7 The Fan” WJFK-FM. The WMAL/WMAL-FM simulcast ranked fifth in the Washington market with a 5.2 share in the May 2019 Nielsen Audio ratings.

CUMULUS MEDIA and ESPN Audio will launch a new sports/talk radio station for the nation’s capital on July 1 – ESPN 630 on WMAL-AM. CUMULUS MEDIA’s current WMAL-AM/FM simulcast will split with the successful news/talk format continuing on WMAL-FM and its digital platforms.

The new sports/talk station will be the home for ESPN Radio weekday talk programming in Washington, D.C., including Golic and Wingo (6-10 a.m. ET) hosted by Mike Golic and Trey Wingo, The Stephen A. Smith Show (1-3 p.m.) and the exclusive national radio outlet for the NBA (including playoffs and Finals) and MLB (including postseason and World Series). The station will also carry Washington Redskins NFL games as part of an expanded content partnership with the team and sports/talk shows hosted by local personalities.

Jake McCann, Vice President/Market Manager, Cumulus Washington, D.C., said: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the two biggest sports brands in D.C. – ESPN and the Washington Redskins. We look forward to creating compelling content for our listeners and advertisers as a natural expansion of our relationship with the Redskins.”

Traug Keller, Senior Vice President, ESPN Audio, said: “It has been a great experience working with Cumulus to launch our new ESPN Radio station in D.C. Now sports fans in the nation’s capital will be able to listen to ESPN’s big personalities including Mike, Trey and Stephen A. with expert opinions, reactions and analysis to the top stories and ESPN’s championship events.”

Golic said: “Washington D.C. is a great sports destination with a passionate and involved fan base. We can’t wait to bring the unique style of Golic and Wingo to the nation’s capital next month on the new ESPN 630.” 

Wingo said: “I’m happy we’ll be heard in our nation’s capital. My first job out of school was there and my son played football at Georgetown so I’m excited for Golic and Wingo to be part of the D.C. scene. Also, little-known fact, I was the one who told Alex Ovechkin to scream like a caveman during the Capitals Stanley Cup parade,” Wingo added jokingly.

The station will announce its full line-up in advance of the July 1st start date.

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  1. Nathan Obral says

    How far is this partnership with ESPN Radio extending? Is it merely an affiliation agreement or is ESPN assuming a sizable portion of station operations? I’m assuming it’s the former. Might as well get a second revenue stream in place for whatever direction is taken with Cumulus in DC, and it’s apparent that people listen to WMAL ostensibly on 105.9 (moreso after 630’s recent signal downgrade).

    This is also very, very bad news for WTEM… now no Washington NFL football and no ESPN Radio + PBP. I’d be surprised if Urban One keeps the status quo over there, sports is not a format in their wheelhouse and an all-local daytime lineup like WTEM has right now costs a lot.

    1. elcartero says

      OTOH, if Urban One was really pondering flipping 104.1 to sports as per that Domain Insight item from earlier this year, this may serve to nudge their decision along.

      1. Nathan Obral says

        Unless the endgame would be to move “Praise” on 980 in return, sacrificing 104.1 for a sports format with no major PBP to back it up seems more than a bit unwise.

      2. Lance Venta says

        Keep in mind who registered those 104.1 domains. Clearly the marketplace as changed now too.

        IF for some reason there was a plan by Urban One to move beyond its core formats, there is also a much bigger format hole in the Washington market.

    2. Lance Venta says

      ESPN and Cumulus wouldn’t market this as a “partnership” if there was no shared operational control. If it was an affiliation agreement it would’ve been marketed as such.

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