The Boston Globe reported Saturday that ESPN Radio WAMG-AM 890 will go off the air on Monday after a series of problems, including awful signal strength and an utter lack of local programming.
But that’s not what makes the Globe’s story so interesting.
ESPN Radio isn’t going away in Boston. The Globe’s sources say ESPN may move programming to Boston’s mainstay sports station, WEEI-AM 850, because WEEI plans to move itself to an FM station to compete better with the new CBS station, 98.5 The Sports Hub.
The company that owns WEEI, Entercom Communications, only has two FM stations that it can use. Entercom also owns WRKO-AM 680.
The Sports Hub kicked rock station WBCN off the air, and the company that owns WEEI only owns two FM stations that it can move it to: Mike 93.7 and WAAF 97.7/107.3. WAAF and Phoenix Media station WFNX are the only rock stations left in Boston.
Mike 93.7 sounds like a much better option. The station doesn’t have nearly the following that WAAF has, but there’s at least the possibility that WAAF could get axed. Whichever station gets WEEI, the Globe says that ESPN will take over the WEEI-AM station to supplement the ESPN Boston website, which starts Monday.
Entercom had no news posted on its website Saturday.
My guess: WAAF will be exiled to HD-2 Land, with WEEI being simulcast on both 97.7 and 107.3.
Not so sure that WEEI would go to 97.7 and 107.3; my guess is 93.7 (antenna 15 mi. to the north and a “construction permit” that would give it a solid signal in most areas) would be WEEI (perhaps with 97.7 also as WEEI, or 97.7 as “Mike”)
and maybe, indeed, WRKO to 107.3 and possibly 97.7 as well. 97.7’s antenna is on Great Blue Hill, about 13 mi. to the south but signal not as strong. I’m not sure where WAAF’s stick is but it’s definitely to the west.
If Entercom had a solid signal directly in Boston (like a WZLX or WBZ-FM) it would be easier to deal with but again, their signals are slightly further away.
WAAF transmits from Stiles Hill in Boylston (the big tower just north of I-290).
In the June 2009 ratings published at radiofacts.com, WMKK is #5, WAAF is #15.
So Entercom must decide – should they punt their higher rated station that has a better signal, or their lower rated signal with weaker coverage in Boston metro.
Three things to ponder. Both Mike and WAAF don’t have to be put off the air. They might be ready to punt only one of the WAAF frequencies. Nothing has ever been said about WRKO. I don’t think that they are ready to try to jump two AM stations to FM at the same time. Finally, the 107.3 frequency would overlap in some areas with the current WEEI-FM in Rhode Island. My guess is either good-bye WAAF on 97.7 only, or WEEI 93.7 FM and the new Mike 107.3/97.7. In reality rock radio is dying, because the stations don’t want to be progressive. You can only listen to Stone Temple Pilots for so long, before you get sick of it.
I think that I had better buy a laptop or netbook to hook up to the stereo. I’ve been having to listen to radio stations out side my so called listening market area. But, the old desktop isn’t portable.