PROVIDENCE — 24-hour sports programming returns to Rhode Island.
In an announcement posted to YouTube on Wednesday, Cumulus Media said “790 The Score” would return and feature 24/7 sports programming, including national sports personality Jim Rome, the local radio host on sports, Kevin McNamara, as well as game coverage. New York Yankees baseball, Boston Celtics basketball, and Brown University football and basketball games.
A source with knowledge of the talks told the Journal that all-sports programming would begin no later than August, a transition from the station’s current right-wing radio programming.
The Score format aired in Rhode Island for 10 years before being discontinued in 2008 and featured hosts Andy Gresh, Scott Cordischi, Scott Zolak, John Crowe and more. It was founded in the fall of 1997 and has chronicled a period of unprecedented success for the Red Sox – who overturned their 86-year curse in the World Series – and now the Patriots, six-time Super champions Bowl.
“Rhode Island sports fans have been great with us,” Cordischi said Thursday. “They welcomed us with open arms. It was awesome.”
Cordischi is currently a social media specialist for Brown Athletics and is the primary play-by-play radio voice for school football and basketball. He served as director of football operations with the Bears under former coach Phil Estes before moving into a communications office role with the athletic department. Cordischi also co-hosts a Saturday morning sports talk show on local WEEI FM affiliate with ABC-6 sports director Nick Coit.
“I’m excited about this from Brown’s athleticism perspective,” Cordischi said. “I have so many fond memories of The Score.”
The Score was eventually ousted by what is a two-station scene in the Boston market. WEEI went from strength to strength in the mid-1990s and became the afternoon powerhouse. Programming director and host Glenn Ordway chaired “The Big Show,” a dynamic assembly of personalities that sent the ratings soaring.
WEEI has bolstered its programming by paying appearance fees approaching six figures per year to its weekly headlining guests. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick had regular spots with Red Sox manager Terry Francona and pitcher Curt Schilling. The Score could not attract such notable names and its ratings began to decline as a result.
“I’m a New England sports fan,” Cordischi said. “I want to hear from these guys.”
The Sports Hub has significantly reduced the following, overtaking WEEI after its launch in July 2009 and never looking back. The station’s weekday afternoon show with co-hosts Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti crushes its competition in the key demographic of men ages 25-54. The Sports Hub also owns the broadcast rights to the Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins, among other professional sports properties.
The sports industry as a whole has changed significantly since Cordischi was last on the air full-time. The most considerable development is in legalized gambling – Sportsbook RI has a pair of locations in the state and cable giants like ESPN and Fox Sports 1 have made significant investments to gain a foothold in this arena. Advertising from online entities like FanDuel and DraftKings could provide The Score with a stable revenue stream for its local and national programming.
“They have money that they want to spend on finding customers, on doing business,” Cordischi said. “I think this station will try to take advantage of it to be quite honest.”
McNamara was a longtime sportswriter and Journal columnist who hosted an hour-long show on WPRO and its affiliates for nearly two years. It will air on The Score from 5-7 p.m. weeknights and simulcast in its current 6-7 p.m. slot on WPRO. McNamara politely declined to comment when reached Thursday.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25