Louisville football and basketball games move across your radio dial – and step away from rival Kentucky a bit.
Local ESPN 93.9 FM radio affiliate “The Ville” and WGTK 970 AM will carry all Louisville athletics programming beginning July 1 under a multi-year agreement with athletics and media rights holder Louisville. the U of L, Learfield, announced Thursday morning.
Terms of the deal were not immediately available.
The deal will end a Louisville/Learfield partnership with iHeartMedia Inc. that saw the Cardinals share time with — and often step back from — the Wildcats on flagship station WHAS 840 AM.
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Louisville games currently switch to WKRD 790 AM when they conflict with Kentucky games or other UK programs.
Giving fans guaranteed home radio for games “was the driving force” behind the deal, Louisville acting athletic director Josh Heird told the Courier Journal, although he said it was about more about getting a dedicated spot on the dial than being knocked down by Kentucky.
“I’m really trying to focus on us and what the U of L can do,” Heird said. “So, did the University of Louisville have the opportunity to have its own station? And it was, and we took advantage of it.
According to Thursday’s press release, “nearly two-thirds of U of L matches were likely to be moved from the flagship station due to conflict with other live sports programming” as part of the current Learfield/iHeart agreement.
It was much of the land of the Louisville First Radio Group, the partnership between Union Broadcasting’s ESPN Louisville group of stations and Word Media Group that sealed the deal with U of L and Learfield’s Louisville Sports Properties.
Under the new deal, all Louisville events will air simulcast on 93.9 FM and 970 AM. If two Louisville programs are airing at the same time, each station will air one.
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The new partnership will mark the first time that Louisville football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball games, as well as seasonal coaching shows, will be broadcast by the same radio partner, according to a press release.
On-air talent for Louisville games will remain the same, including the voice of men’s basketball radio Paul Rogers. And the deal includes a “Cardinal Insider” show that will air Monday through Friday throughout the year on three signals: 93.9 FM, 970 AM and 1450 AM.
While the move means no longer sharing time with the UK, it also completely moves Louisville from WHAS 840 AM, which at 50,000 watts has the strongest radio signal in the state. U of L weighed losing some radio reach in the decision to change broadcast focus.
“With all the different methods of listening, whether it’s online or on your phone, there are ways to listen now that it’s not necessarily ‘Hey, I’m driving, I’m losing signal,'” said Heird. “I will use myself as an example. Half the time I listen on my phone in the car. I think we thought it was just more important that everything be stored in one place.