This news has broken over the last hour. CBS Radio has announced that it has purchased the 101.9 FM frequency in New York, currently a rock station operated by Merlin Media. CBS plans to put its venerable sports radio station, WFAN on the FM dial, maintaining an AM/FM simulcast for the time being. WFAN has been broadcasting on 660 AM in New York and it can be heard up and down the East Coast from Maine to Florida at night and into Massachusetts down to Pennsylvania during the day.
Mike Francesa made the announcement to WFAN listeners and YES viewers at the opening of his show. So WFAN will be heard on 660 AM and 101.9 FM starting sometime in November.
I do expect the Yankees to be heard on FM as the team has been yearning to be on the FM side for quite some time. Will the 660 AM frequency flip to another format? I expect it will, but to keep listeners happy, the simulcast will most likely stay into 2013 before CBS decides to flip it or even sell the station. We shall see.
Here’s the press release from CBS Radio.
WFAN-AM, The Nation’s Most-Listened-To Sports Radio Station, To Be Simulcast On FM
New Station Will Change Its Call Letters To WFAN-FM
CBS RADIO, a division of CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS), today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase 101.9 FM from Merlin Media for $75 million. In late fall, CBS RADIO will begin its operation of the station under a Local Marketing Agreement, launching a simulcast of the company’s premier sports franchise, Sports Radio 66 WFAN.
This move will immediately broaden the audience and reach of WFAN’s award-winning programming, which will continue to be broadcast on-air at 660 AM, online at www.wfan.com, and via the Radio.com app for a variety of mobile devices.
“This is an extremely exciting opportunity to expand our radio presence in the nation’s largest market,” said Dan Mason, President and CEO, CBS RADIO. “Sports is a very popular format and a huge growth category for our business. As a result of this new asset, we look forward to The FAN building on its position as the leading sports radio franchise in the country.”
WFAN pioneered the all-sports format when it launched on July 1, 1987, becoming the first radio station where listeners could hear and talk about sports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has been the most-listened-to station of its kind since it signed on the air. WFAN is home to leading personalities Mike Francesa, Boomer Esiason, Craig Carton, Joe Benigno, Evan Roberts and Steve Somers, and is the flagship station for the New York Giants, New York Mets, Brooklyn Nets and New Jersey Devils.
Additionally, WFAN is the recipient of four prestigious Marconi Awards from the National Association of Broadcasters, including most recently Mike Francesa being honored as Major Market Personality of the Year (2012).
The transaction is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory and other approval.
The WFAN move to FM is part of CBS Radio’s nationwide initiative to have sports radio on FM. It put WIP-AM in Philadelphia on 92.3 FM and this follows moves in markets such as Boston and others.