It’s been long speculated that CBS Radio would flip WBCN-FM to sports talk. With the company flipping well known news/talk station WJFK-FM in Washington, DC to all-sports next week, CBS Radio is apparently making the corporate move to make other FM stations all-sports.
For Boston, it means the loss of long-time rock station WBCN from the FM dial. It was one of the first FM rock stations in the country signing on in 1968. It’s been the home of Charles Laquidera, Howard Stern, Opie & Anthony and so many DJ’s over the years. It was also one of the first FM stations to become a flagship radio station for an NFL team. But in August, that will end.
According to Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix, WBCN leaves the airwaves existing only as internet station. Adam writes:
CBS, ‘BCN’s owner, is moving Mix 98.5 to 104.1, WBCN’s frequency, and starting a new, all-sports station–apparently to be dubbed the Sports Hub, and to carry the call letters WBZ-FM–at Mix’s spot on the dial.
According to industry newsletter Radio Insight, this move by CBS Radio is apparently a corporate-wide integration within the company’s stations across the country. And someone has already purchased (ahem, CBS Radio) the 985thesportshub.com domain name.
Word is that Comcast SportsNet’s Gary Tanguay and Michael Felger have already been signed by CBS Radio to join the station. WBCN’s morning team of Toucher and Rich will anchor mornings for WBZ-FM.
Felger’s presence on WEEI’s Baseball Show will most likely end immediately. And so might the alliance between WEEI and CSN.
With CBS Radio behind an FM sports station, we finally may have some decent competition for Entercom’s WEEI. Other challengers have made big splashes at first, but fell by the wayside either through a lack of money, lack of staff, lack of signal strength or lack of imagination (see 1510 AM and ESPN 890).
CBS Radio has the promotion and money, web presence and in the case of 98.5 FM, signal strength into New Hampshire and Rhode Island to make this work. Plus, if it moves the Patriots and Bruins (currently on WBZ-AM) along with Westwood One’s NFL and NCAA Tournament packages to The Sports Hub, the station could be a force to be reckoned with.
Of course, WEEI has the brand name and seniority in the market. It has the established personalities such as Dennis & Callahan, Dale Arnold and Glen Ordway. Entercom also has long term contracts with the Red Sox and Celtics, but the main thing with Entercom is personality-driven radio.
But with having Felger and Tanguay on their station, WBZ-FM will have some name recognition of their own. The interesting thing will be how this all plays out. It all begins in August and we’ll all be watching.
UPDATE, 12:25 p.m.: Here’s the official announcement from CBS Radio. Bruins and Patriots are confirmed to be moving to WBZ-FM. The launch will be August 13 which coincidentally is the day of the Patriots first exhibition game.