Birach Broadcasting’s “ESPN Detroit” 1090 WCAR has given up the affiliation with the Worldwide Leader and signed on with NBC Sports Radio as of 10pm last night. That will clear the way for WMGC to pick up the ESPN affiliation.
Original Report 7/7: With CBS Sports “97.1 The Ticket” WXYT-FM regularly leading the market’s overall ratings, it has been a question of when but not if the station would gain an additional FM competitor in the format. It appeared Greater Media was about to make the move back in 2011 when Brian Figula registered 1051Sports.com for use on WMGC, but CBS locked up the rights to the University of Michigan to keep them away from a potential competitor. That domain has since expired and reregistered for use elsewhere, but the smoke behind a potential flip of WMGC is once again showing some fire.
The current round of rumors started at DetroitSportsRag.net where writer Jeff Moss has reported that Greater Media plans to flip AC “Today’s 105.1” WMGC to Sports using ESPN Radio and attempting to bring former WRIF morning hosts Drew Lane & Mike Clark in to host afternoons. Gregg Henson has added that Clark is currently not involved in the plans, but that Lane, who recently launched his “Drewcast” podcast with a pair of their former producers is.
Supposedly holding up an official announcement of the pending flip are attempts to pull the ESPN affiliation from Birach Broadcasting’s 1090 WCAR. WCAR flipped to Sports with the ESPN affiliation in February 2012 and is reportedly asking for a seven figure settlement to end its affiliation contract early. All local programming was dropped by the station in May, which is now running the national ESPN Radio feed around the clock. Even AllAccess got in the act reporting on Wednesday about a potential announcement coming later that day before removing the article from its daily feed by changing the post date to November 30, 1999.
A flip to Sports at WMGC would duplicate the wall of men used by Greater Media in Philadelphia with a Mainstream Rock, Classic Rock, and Sports station within the cluster. The biggest question will be can WMGC gain the play-by-play rights to any local franchise? CBS had the rights to all four professional sports teams plus the University of Michigan and Cumulus News/Talk 760 WJR is the flagship for Michigan State University until 2020. Michigan’s deal with CBS expires in 2015, but the end dates of the pro contracts are not publicly available. The Pistons signed a multi-year deal with CBS in 2009 and the Red Wings and Tigers re-upped in 2010. The Lions deal with WXYT expired following the 2012 season and there have been no reports of an extension.
Should movement take place expect the flip in time for the start of the football season.