SBD/March 10, 2011/Media

Univ. of Minnesota Inks Radio Deal With Sports Stations, Leaves Longtime AM Home

Minnesota football games will be broadcast on KFAN-AM, KTLK-FM
Univ. of Minnesota football games will be broadcast on KFAN-AM and simulcast on KTLK-FM "for the next three years, while men's and women's basketball and men's hockey will move" to ESPN Radio 1500 Twin Cities, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. WCCO-AM previously was the "longtime radio home" for the UM sports. UM AD Joel Maturi "declined to disclose the terms of the three-year contracts," and it is "not clear whether the university will receive rights fees or buy the airtime and sell its own advertising" through Learfield Sports. The contract "calls for Learfield to produce the broadcasts, including hiring the announcers." Miller notes  the loss of the rights marks a "subdued end to a sports epoch" for WCCO. The station's "lone remaining sports property" is the Wild. Maturi noted that when Learfield "began shopping Gophers' broadcasts recently, reaching a younger audience than WCCO's older demographic was important" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/10).

FALLOUT FROM MOVE: In St. Paul, Charley Walters reports Learfield is "believed to be paying the University of Minnesota more than $3 million annually to oversee Gophers broadcasting and marketing." It is "clear that the Gophers were seeking a younger audience for football and basketball and hockey broadcasts." Maturi "notified season-ticket holders of the moves through an e-mail" before UM announced the new partnerships yesterday, and he wrote that KFAN and ESPN Radio 1500 "were aggressive with 'very strong' business proposals." WCCO GM Mick Anselmo said that he "wasn't surprised at the Gophers' moves." Anselmo: "It's not that I didn't see it coming. I think it's the evolution of the marketplace -- two sports stations."  WCCO losing UM sports "would seem to benefit the Wild, if there is a contract renewal, in that there seemingly would be fewer conflicts for game broadcasts." Anselmo said that he "wants to renew with the Wild" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/10).
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