ESPN 630′s launch will signal the end of The Team 980′s status as an ESPN Radio affiliate, but 980, owned by Silver Spring-based media conglomerate Urban One, will remain the flagship home of Redskins broadcasts on the Redskins Radio Network.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the two biggest sports brands in D.C. — ESPN and the Washington Redskins,” Jake McCann, VP and market manager for Cumulus Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “We look forward to creating compelling content for our listeners and advertisers as a natural expansion of our relationship with the Redskins.”
The Redskins and WMAL have quite a history. The team’s games were broadcast on WMAL from 1942 to 1956 and from 1963 to 1991. The beloved trio of Sonny Jurgensen, Sam Huff and Frank Herzog shared the WMAL broadcast booth from 1981 to 1991, with Johnny Holliday and the late Ken Beatrice providing pregame and postgame coverage, respectively, during that time.
WMAL’s contract to broadcast Redskins games ended after the 1991 season. WTEM, which was preparing to relaunch as D.C.’s first all-sports station Sportsradio 570 in April 1992, outbid WMAL for the rights to Redskins broadcasts. The Redskins returned to WMAL’s airwaves — both on 630 AM and 105.9 FM — in the 2017 season.
The Team 980 was known as ESPN 980 from 2008, when Daniel Snyder-owned Red Zebra Broadcasting acquired the station, until its rebranding in February of last year. The station has remained an ESPN Radio affiliate since then, airing ESPN Radio programming overnight and on weekends to complement its all-local daytime lineup. Entercom’s 106.7 the Fan, the flagship home of the Capitals and Nationals, launched its all-sports format on WJFK-FM in 2009.
In August, Urban One assumed operational control of The Team 980 from Red Zebra, two months after Snyder sold his final radio property. The changeover led to a shake-up of the station’s programming lineup, including the end of the weekday morning drive-time show that Kevin Sheehan and Chris Cooley had hosted together since 2016. Sheehan has recorded his own daily podcast since leaving the station.
McCann did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the local programming on ESPN 630.
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