Entry for November 23, 2008

November 23, 2008

A Second All Sports Radio Station

KIRO 710 announced they will become an all sports station, probably sometime next spring. They’ve already been simulcasting their news programming on an FM station. With rights to the Seahawks and Mariners, this switch has been rumored for quite sometime. KIRO will apparently get the local rights to ESPN, which KJR and 1380 have been using. The common thought is that KJR will broadcast more local programming, while KIRO will broadcast national fare outside the local teams. However, KIRO apparently intends to have some local programming, which makes sense to not give that niche up to KJR.

There are many unresolved, or at least unmentioned, items. The Sounders have not yet announced their radio partner. Most have figured they’d end up on KIRO due to the club’s relationship with the Seahawks. Perhaps both the Sounders and KIRO decided there would be too many conflicting dates with the other programming to make a tie-up worthwhile. Or, they could be waiting until the MLS schedule is released early next year. It’s possible the Sounders end up having a few games on KIRO, then be pushed to one of Bonneville’s other local stations when there is a conflict with the Mariners or Seahawks. I can’t imagine this is ideal for the Sounders, as those other stations are not as well known as KIRO.

Also, KIRO has a stronger signal than KJR. And both have far stronger signals than 1380 or 850 Fox Sports, with neither of those carrying across the entire Puget Sound region. We’ll see if KJR sticks to UW athletics only. One of these stations may at some point want to pick up Seattle U. basketball, which now is on 1150. Additionally, one of the stations may want to work with the Canucks and TrailBlazers to become local affiliates of those teams. This is a large market to not have a team from those leagues broadcasting to. While the Canucks are on 1380, that signal is weak and I’m not sure how many local hockey fans actually know the games are on that station.

Overall, it’s a big change for the market and it’s just the beginning of the shake-up in local sports radio.