In this week’s issue… AM change coming in NYC – Big honor for WNY talker – Remembering PA’s Klein – Power boost in Toronto – PLUS: Baseball on the Radio – NY-Penn League
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*We lead this column with NEW YORK radio fairly often, it’s true. But it’s not so often that we lead off with Spanish-language radio in New York – and even less often when we have two such items as our lead stories.
This is one of those weeks, and it starts with the only signal Disney still owns in market number one. That’s WEPN (1050 New York), which flipped from English-language ESPN to the ESPN Deportes Radio Spanish-language network in 2012 after Disney entered into a long-term lease of Emmis’ 98.7 to become WEPN-FM with the English-language sports format.
Seven years and a day after its Sept. 7, 2012 flip, WEPN(AM) will flip again this fall now that ESPN has announced it’s shutting down Deportes Radio as a full-time network, effective September 8.
“It’s no secret Hispanic fans skew heavily on digital and social which is why we made the decision to discontinue ESPN Deportes terrestrial radio,” the network said, promising to continue to serve Spanish-speaking audiences on its digital and TV platforms.
It’s equally true, of course, that in its network form, Deportes Radio had barely a dozen significant affiliates, hampered in no small part by the wildly different sports preferences of the different Spanish-speaking demographics in various parts of the country. That even affected WEPN – while the station served New York’s heavily Dominican and Puerto Rican communities, its control room was actually in Miami at the network’s headquarters, with the “local” afternoon show co-hosted by several Miami-based personalities and a host in one of the WEPN-FM studios on West End Avenue.
What happens to 1050 once the network goes away? It will apparently revert to English-language sports, carrying the full ESPN Radio network lineup, most of which is preempted during the day by local shows on WEPN-FM. It’s not yet clear what becomes of the Mets’ Spanish-language broadcasts, which had been 1050’s flagship play-by-play offering; we’d assume they’ll run until the end of this season on 1050, and for 2020, who knows?
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