Tampa's WHBO-AM and WHOO-AM in Orlando drop ESPN for NBC Sports Radio affiliation
Tampa Bay's sports talk radio scene got another shakeup today, as WHBO-AM (1040) and WHOO-AM (1080) in Orlando become NBC Sports Radio affiliates, following a decision by owners Genesis Communications to drop its ESPN Radio for the newer sports talk network.
Genesis, a Largo-based company which owns six radio stations in the Tampa and Orlando area, has renamed the stations NBC Sports Talk 1040 The Team Tampa Bay and NBC Sports Talk 1080 The Team Orlando, featuring all the content on one website, SportsTalkFlorida.com.
The change also brings former ESPN personality Dan Patrick's show to WHBO and WHOO from 9 a.m. to noon, preceded by a morning show with former Bright House Sports Networks anchor David Baumann from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. After Patrick's program, WHBO will air shows by Whitney Johnson (noon to 3 p.m.), Charlie Bernstein (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and NBC Sports Radio personality Erik Kuselias.
"We thought there was a demand for more exclusive content," said Len Weiner, vice president of programming at Genesis; the company announced months ago it would drop ESPN in October, saying too much of its content was available on other, competing platforms. "This is going to be great for the listeners."
Weiner couldn't speak to rumors that rising costs also prompted Genesis to drop its ESPN affiliation, referring questions to owner Bruce Maduri who didn't return phone calls.
But the changes at Genesis cap a turbulent year for local sports talk, which saw CBS Radio create an FM station at WSJT-FM (Sportsradio 98.7 The Fan) in August and simulcast its signal on WQYK-AM (1010).
In January, CBS will debut a new CBS Sports Radio network on several stations including WQYK; last week ex-ESPN star Jim Rome announced his show would move to CBS Radio. But officials at the network's New York headquarters could not say if Rome's show would also leave Clear Channel's Tampa station WDAE-AM (620), where it has aired for more than a decade.
Clear Channel has picked up parts of the ESPN affiliation Genesis dropped, airing some content in late night and weekends; Clear Channel's WHNZ-AM (1250) also will air programming from Fox Sports Network overnights.
By the beginning of 2013, different area radio stations should be featuring material from sports talk networks by CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN, signalling the genre's emergence as one of the hottest formats in radio.