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Volume 21 No. 47
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Radio deals bring Roll Tide to shores of Hawaii

How do you say “Roll Tide” in Hawaiian? That will be the task facing Eli Gold, the University of Alabama’s radio play-by-play man, going into the next college football season.


That’s because the Crimson Tide’s radio programming will be carried on two AM stations in Honolulu, where NBC Sports Radio AM 1500 (KHKA-AM) and ESPN 1420 (KKEA-AM) will broadcast live games and shoulder programming throughout the 2018 season.

The deal marks the first time Alabama has signed radio affiliates in Hawaii.

The bond between Alabama football and Hawaii grew out of the heroics of Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s quarterback who came off the bench against Georgia to lead the Crimson Tide to an epic comeback victory in the College Football Playoff championship game.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who played high school football in Hawaii, has fueled interest.
Photo: getty images

Tagovailoa already was a legendary football figure for his exploits as a high school star in Honolulu at Saint Louis School, the same school that produced 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. But when he emerged onto the national scene by throwing the winning touchdown pass in the national championship game and becoming the obvious pick to be the projected starter for 2018, the two stations reacted quickly.

The day after the title game in January, Blow Up LLC, a Honolulu-based media company that owns the two radio stations, made a call to Learfield’s broadcast group in Jefferson City, Mo., and they began working on an affiliate deal.

“We’ve got what I would consider a robust radio network already, but this really shows the strength and reach of the Alabama brand,” said Jim Carabin, the longtime vice president and general manager of Crimson Tide Sports Marketing.

Learfield, the multimedia rights holder for Alabama athletics, operates the Tide property and manages the radio network.

The two Honolulu stations will carry pregame and postgame programming, live football games and other weekly shows “Crimson Tide Rewind,” “Hey Coach” and the “Nick Saban Show.”

Mike Kelly, president and GM of Blow Up LLC, said that Tagovailoa’s game against Georgia inspired “a new wave of Alabama fans right here in the Islands.”

NBC Sports Radio AM 1500 and ESPN 1420 join one of the largest collegiate radio networks in the country. Alabama’s affiliate group included 70 radio stations during the 2017 season and is expected to be even larger this season as the Tide pursues back-to-back championships with Tagovailoa under center.

The list of Tide affiliates ranges as far east as Columbia, S.C., across the Southeast to Jackson, Miss., and north to Nashville, covering seven states in all.

Of the 70 affiliates, 22 are from out of state. Stations pay an affiliate fee to be on the network and then share the advertising inventory with Crimson Tide Sports Marketing.