Mike Silva's Sports Media Watchdog » Blog Archive » Sports Radio Shift to FM Will Continue

Sports Radio Shift to FM Will Continue

By Jed Weisberger ~ November 9th, 2012. Filed under: ESPN, WFAN.

First, my heart goes out to those who, because of Hurricane Sandy, have been put out of their homes and have yet to have power restored. In Bucks County (Pa.), we dealt with eight days of darkness and, when the temperature dropped to the low 50s in our house, we were hotel-bound.

Given that – which prevented me from contributing last week – I feel the pain of those who have been inconvenienced.

While all this was transpiring, WFAN followed the course of putting sports-talk programming on 101.9 FM. CBS Radio officials have stated the station will remain on AM 660 as well, but, as time passes, we will see. FM appears to be the future.

One reason is, while AM 660 can be received clearly in Virginia Beach, Va., during the day – the signal traveling easily across the ocean – it could not be received all that well in parts of Manhattan due to a few factors. On the other hand, 101.9 FM can be received clear-as-a-bell.

“In the city, in certain areas like Lower Manhattan, 101.9 will really help us,’’ said veteran WFAN afternoon-drive personality Mike Francesa.

In Philadelphia, SportsRadio WIP is likewise received on both AM 610 and FM 94.1. This move took place a few months prior to the move in New York.

Philadelphia Eagles broadcasts were carried on another FM outlet the past few years, returning to the WIP umbrella with FM 94.1 this season.

“This is marvelous,’’ said longtime Eagles voice Merrill Reese. “A listener tunes in an Eagles game in FM Stereo, and it sounds like you’re right in the stadium. It really adds to a fans’ enjoyment.

With no power at home last Sunday, I listened to the Giants-Steelers WFAN broadcast anchored by Bob Papa on 101.9 in the hotel. The thick walls of the hotel blocked out AM 660, but 101.9 was a pleasure to listen to.

I was also somewhat surprised 101.9 also came in clearly in Bucks County when we returned home Monday.  In fact, there are spots in both Lower Bucks and Central Jersey where, for some reason, AM 660 is blocked, but 101.9 fills the void perfectly. I actually have 101.9 set in my car with my AM, FM and Sirius/XM favorites.

There have been reports that 101.9 does not come in clearly in some areas north of New York City, in parts of Southern Connecticut in particular.

There is genuine concern for some that the AM 660 frequency will eventually be abandoned for a national sports network. I have listened to AM 660 in Tampa, Fla., at spring training. FM 101.9 will not be received over that area.

So, let’s go with the announcements AM 660 will not be abandoned by local WFAN programming. But the future is on the FM dial. ESPN Radio New York moved all to FM 98.7.  AM 1040, which was ESPN’s Central Jersey simulcast, is now airing ESPN Deportes, which serves the ever-growing Hispanic population in the area well.

The goal of a radio station is to serve its Designated Market Area as best it can. With sports-talk, FM’s quality in a DMA is becoming the key.


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Jed Weisberger


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