The Arena Debate and Local Sports Talk Radio

December 30, 2016

Since the SoDo arena was first proposed, dividing lines have been drawn between those supporting the plan and those opposed, whether on an economic development basis, political views, the future direction of Seattle, etc.  That has extended to sports talk radio as well, with KJR 950 supporting the plan, and in many ways actively campaigning for the arena.  As such, the station has interviewed Chris Hansen multiple times, along with other arena supporters.  In contrast, the potential redevelopment of KeyArena and any other regional arena proposals, often get quickly shot down as not feasible by those at the station.

Meanwhile, 710 ESPN, likely influenced by the Mariners and Seahawks, their broadcast partners, has barely mentioned the SoDo proposal.  Essentially, they’ve practically ignored the plan over the last couple of years, using arguments that the anti SoDo groups have applied.  This position stands out, because early on in the SoDo developments, 710 was not so indifferent.  And especially recently, they’ve taken the banner of KeyArena redevelopment and ran with it.  This included an interview with Tim Leiweke, the public face of one of the two groups planning to respond to a city issued RFP for renovating KeyArena.

Expect this situation to carry on into 2017, until one plan finally stands above the other.  Then both stations will likely support whatever arena plan that is, because only then can progress be made towards the ultimate goal, which is getting NHL and NBA franchises to fill that arena.

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A Third Sports Radio Station

January 30, 2013

Earlier this month, 1090 The Fan began broadcasting as part of the CBS Sports Radio Network.  The Fan now joins KJR, who recently shook up its on-air hosts’ schedules, and 710 ESPN in the niche.  Whether three’s a crowd, only time will tell.  In general, the more options for the sports fan, the better.  The station currently has only one local show, in afternoon drive time, but has indicated that they expect to add local shows over time.  There has been no indication of a desire to make a play on local sports rights down the road.  One could argue whether there’s enough compelling local sports radio rights (to games) to support three stations.

Beyond these three, NBC Sports Radio Network and the Yahoo! Sports Radio Network, formally Sporting News Radio, are planning national pushes.  We’ll have to wait and see if that includes stations in the Seattle market or the less grand option of providing syndicated content to a partner station.  No matter how many sports radio stations end up operating here, a path to success might include breaking away from the usual pattern of interviews/callers/banter and trying different content and different methods of engaging the fans and providing the information they truly want.


WSU to 710 ESPN

May 20, 2012

In an unsurprising move, 710 ESPN and WSU announced that WSU football and men’s basketball games will be broadcast on the station beginning this fall.  Those sports move over from 770 KTTH, which will continue to host those sports whenever there’s a conflict with the Seahawks or Mariners.  Both stations are owned by Bonneville Media.  This is unsurprising for two reasons.  First, since Bill Moos took over as athletic director at WSU, the school’s athletic profile has risen on the westside of the mountains.  That’s especially true since the hiring of Mike Leach.  Secondly, there’s been a more noticeable WSU presence on 710 recently (beyond station employees that are alums), whether interviewing athletic department employees or just discussing the school.  One can conclude that this has been part of Moos’s strategy since taking over the department.

When 710 ESPN first went to the all sports format, their primary selling point was that they were the home to Seattle’s professional teams (the Sounders are on another Bonneville station, 97.3 KIRO FM).  They later added Seattle U basketball.  So far, it’s unclear whether that continues to be part of the programming or not.  The station has not indicated one way or another.  It’s inevitable that some SU and WSU basketball games will overlap.  Additionally, the station occasionally broadcasts Thunderbirds games as well.   Rival station 950 KJR’s main calling card is as the home of UW athletics.  So, this WSU-710 partnership adds a little more to the station rivalry.  Having decided that there’s no room for the Sounders on 710, the station will now have a challenge ahead if they do have the opportunity to offer additional local team programming in the future.  That window to offer more programming remains larger for KJR.