WTEM

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WTEM
WTEM 2008.PNG
City of license Washington, D.C.
Broadcast area Metro Washington area
Branding ESPN 980
Slogan Every Sport, Every Team, Every Day
Frequency 980 kHz
Repeaters WWXT 92.7 MHz
WWXX 94.3 MHz
First air date August 1, 1923
Format Sports
Power 50,000 watts day
5,000 watts night
Class B (regional)
Callsign meaning WTEM: W-"T E A M"
WWXX, WWXT:
former "Triple X" slogan
Affiliations ESPN Radio
Washington Redskins
Georgetown Hoyas
Baltimore Orioles
Maryland Terrapins
Westwood One
Dial Global
Owner Red Zebra Broadcasting
Sister stations WSPZ
Webcast Listen Live
Website espn980.com

WTEM (980 AM) — branded ESPN 980 — is a sports radio station licensed to Washington, D.C. and serving the Washington metro area. It is the flagship of a sports talk trimulcast with WWXT in Prince Frederick, Maryland and WWXX in Buckland, Virginia, all affiliated with ESPN Radio and owned by Red Zebra Broadcasting.

ESPN 980 is the home of the Mike and Mike show, the Tony Kornheiser show, the Sports Fix with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro, Inside the Locker Room with Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell, and The Drivewith Steve Czaban and Chris Cooley.

WTEM is also the flagship radio station for Washington Redskins football (as Red Zebra is operated by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder) and Georgetown Hoyas basketball. "ESPN 980" airs Maryland Terrapins football & basketball and Baltimore Orioles baseball as an affiliate station, as well as the University of Virginia football and basketball. ESPN 980 is also the exclusive home of the play-by-play broadcasts for MLB and World Series, NBA and NBA Finals, NFL and Super Bowl, and NCAA Football and BCS bowls. ESPN 980 is also the home for regular season NCAA Basketball, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, NCAA's Frozen Four, and NCAA's Lacrosse Championship.

WTEM's studios are located in Rockville, Maryland, and its transmitter is located in Hyattsville, Maryland. It operates with 50,000 watts power during the day and 5,000 watts power at night. The signal can be heard weakly but clearly as far west as Clarksburg, West Virginia, and as far south as Richmond, Virginia in daytime. The FM stations both broadcast below 3,000 watts and mainly serve to fill in the gaps in WTEM's coverage.

Prior to July 21, 2008, WTEM was known as SportsTalk 980, used the slogan The Voice of the Fan, and was the DC outlet for Fox Sports Radio. Beforehand, WTEM was the Washington, DC affiliate for ESPN Radio before Red Zebra Broadcasting acquired the rights for its Triple X ESPN Radio trimulcast, which ended up merging with WTEM.

History[edit]

WRC Radio[edit]

The station was originally licensed in April 1923 as WRC, whose call letters were a shortened version of the original owner's name, the Radio Corporation of America. The station's original frequency was 469 meters (equal to 640 kc.), and it was shared with another Washington station, WCAP. The time-sharing arrangement between the two stations continued until 1926, when RCA purchased WCAP's share.

When RCA launched the National Broadcasting Company radio networks in 1927, WRC was assigned to the Red Network. NBC's other radio chain, the Blue Network, had no affiliate in the national capital city until RCA entered into a lease agreement with WMAL in 1933. WRC and WMAL would become de facto sister stations during the lease term, which ran for eight years. WRC moved its frequency to 950 AM in 1928, and then shifted to 980 AM in 1941 as a result of the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement.[1] With WRC as its cornerstone, RCA/NBC later birthed WNBW television (channel 4, now WRC-TV) and WRC-FM (93.9 Mc., now WKYS); both stations signed-on in 1947.

WRC carried Willard Scott and Ed Walker as the Joy Boys from 1955 to 1972, and carried the Monitor radio program on weekends. From 1972 to 1975, WRC broadcast a Top 40 format (it was one of the Greaseman's early radio stops) and was known as the Great 98.

The station switched to NBC News and Information Service programming from 1975 to 1977; and after the demise of NIS, the station aired an all-news format before switching to news-talk in 1979. The talk programming included the first pairing of Pat Buchanan and Tom Braden who became the original hosts of CNN's Crossfire, as well as satirist Mort Sahl, psychologist Karen Shanor and former Philadelphia talk-show host Jerry Williams. Jack Donniger hosted an evening sports-talk show.

The AM's former Top 40 format was moved to the FM side and later evolved into a disco-pop dance music format in the late 1970s as Kiss FM, which evolved to that station's current Urban format.

WRC was purchased by Greater Media in 1984 and the call sign was changed to WWRC, as NBC retained the rights to the original call sign for WRC-TV. During the early 1990s, WWRC was the talk show home to current and formerly notable personalities such as Joe Madison, Mark Davis and Joel A. Spivak. It was also one of the brief homes for the last radio show to be hosted by Morton Downey, Jr. (the other being WRC's former sister station WTAM in Cleveland).

Two weeks prior to swapping call signs and formats, WWRC dropped its talk radio format for a financial news and talk format, one that would last over to a second dial position move to 1260 kHz.

Sports Radio 570 - The Team[edit]

Before moving to 980 kHz, WTEM was known as Sports Radio 570 - The Team and on the frequency of 570 kHz, which previously had been used by classical music station WGMS. WTEM made its debut at 3:30 p.m. on May 24, 1992, right after the Indianapolis 500.[2][3] At the beginning, WTEM emulated the program lineup and even imported the jingles from New York City's WFAN, the first all-sports radio station in the United States.

At the beginning, Paul Harris hosted the morning show between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser took over in late mornings, and CBS Sports announcer/WUSA sportcaster James Brown hosted early afternoons. Kevin Kiley and Rich "The Coach" Gilgallon hosted Kiley and the Coach during afternoon drive, which emulated WFAN's highly successful Mike and the Mad Dog radio program. Jean Fugett and Ira Mellman anchored the night-time hours. WTEM also acquired the radio rights to broadcast the Washington Redskins between 1992 and 1994.

However, the ratings of WTEM struggled mightily in the beginning. Harris was quickly replaced by Bruce Murray and Bob Berger in late 1992. WTEM introduced Imus in the Morning on July 19, 1993 to replace Murray and Berger in the 6–10 a.m. morning slot. For cost-cutting reasons, WTEM canceled Kiley and the Coach, and shows hosted by Phil Wood (8 p.m. to midnight) and Rob Weingarten (midnight to 6 a.m.) at the end of 1994.[4] After Kiley and the Coach was canceled, WTEM tried several afternoon-drive shows before it settled on Kornheiser live between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and then replay between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to boost the afternoon drive-time ratings until the show moved to ESPN Radio in January 1998. After his contract not renewed by WMAL, Ken Beatrice and his show, Sports Call, moved to WTEM in late 1995.

When The Tony Kornheiser Show launched in 1992, because Tony needed to focus on writing his "Style" column in the Washington Post weekly, he usually did not host the show on Thursdays. Usually Andy Pollin, the Sports Director at WTEM, would guest-host Tony's show on Thursdays. Between November 1995 and December 1996, Warner Wolf was named the guest host of The Tony Kornheiser Show on Thursdays until he moved to New York as a sports anchor on WCBS-TV.[5] Tony started to host on Thursdays when he was on ESPN Radio.

When The Tony Kornheiser Show was on hiatus between November 14, 1997 and January 5, 1998, WTEM filled the 10 a.m.-1 p.m. slot with Kevin Kiley and the 4–7 p.m. slot with comedian Chuck Booms and Scott Linn. Booms joined WTEM as part of a stunt revolving the Comedy Central show Comics on Delivery, where viewers were asked write in and enlist the aid of comedians to help them get through experiences from daily life. Because of on-air wildness and inexperience, Booms was later paired with the experienced Kiley.

When The Tony Kornheiser Show on ESPN Radio debuted on January 5, 1998, the show aired between 1–4 p.m. WTEM filled the 10 a.m.–1 p.m. time slot with Rick "Doc" Walker and Al Koken hosting The Doc and Al Show and the 4–7 p.m. time slot with Kiley and Booms.

SportsTalk 980[edit]

On March 9, 1998, WTEM moved from 570 kHz to 980 kHz.[6] After the move, WTEM was branded as SportsTalk 980. The lineups on March 9, 1998 are Imus in the Morning (6–10 a.m.), The Doc and Al Show (10 a.m.–1 p.m.), The Tony Kornheiser Show on ESPN Radio (1–4 p.m.), Kevin Kiley and Chuck Booms (4–7 p.m.) and Ken Beatrice's Sports Call (7–10 p.m.).

Because of poor ratings, Kiley and Booms were canceled on November 13, 1998, which happened to be Friday.[7] WTEM moved the highly rated The Tony Kornheiser Show to the 4–7 p.m. slot as a tape delay show to replace Kiley and Booms. Kornheiser did not like the idea because he would lose the callers from the WTEM broadcasting area. WTEM moved The Doc and Al Show into the 1–4 p.m. slot and created a new show hosted by Rich Cook and Kris O'Donnell in the 10 a.m.–1 p.m. slot.

When John Thompson resigned as the head coach of the men's basketball team at Georgetown University, WTEM moved The Doc and Al Show into the 10 a.m.–12 p.m. slot and invited Thompson to host a one-hour show within The Doc and Al Show (10:30-11:30 a.m.) called Timeout with Thompson starting March 3, 1999 before the 1999 NCAA Tournament began. At the same time, WTEM introduced The Jim Rome Show, assigned it into the 12–3 p.m. slot. Between The Jim Rome Show and The Tony Kornheiser Show, there was a one-hour program called The Playground hosted by WTEM news anchors.

After the 1999 NCAA Tournament, because of the positive reviews, Thompson was named the host of The John Thompson Show airing 10 a.m.–12 p.m. with Walker and Koken as co-hosts, replacing The Doc and Al Show.

On September 13, 1999, ESPN Radio moved The Tony Kornheiser Show to his favorite 10 a.m.–1 p.m. slot to make room for The Dan Patrick Show. WTEM accommodated the move by moving The John Thompson Show to 3–5 p.m., reducing The Jim Rome Show to 2 hours and creating a new program called The Sports Reporters hosted by Andy Pollin between 5–7 p.m.

After the new lineup announced, Jim Rome voiced his displeasure on the air, attacked Kornheiser and demanded WTEM to get his third hour back. In The Sports Reporters, Steve Czaban began as a news anchor. Later on, Czaban became the co-host with Andy Pollin.

On April 20, 2000, veteran sports talk personality Ken Beatrice retired.[8] His show, Sports Call, was replaced by Steve Czaban in the 7 p.m.-10 p.m. slot.

On April 9, 2001, WTEM became a secondary Fox Sports Radio affiliate, picking up ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning (6–9 a.m.) and Fox's The Tony Bruno Extravaganza (9–10 a.m.). Both shows replaced Imus in the Morning, which moved to WTNT to boost the station's ratings.[9] Czaban's evening program would also be picked up nationwide by Fox Sports Radio later that year; the show would be moved by the network to morning drive in January 2005, with WTEM followed suit later that year.

On May 23, 2002, WTEM celebrated its tenth anniversary as a sports talk station with a special Sports Reporters show starting at 5 p.m.

From December 2003 until January 2005, WWRC, by this point on the 1260 kHz frequency, carried a complementary sports/talk format as "SportsTalk 1260." WWRC carried the majority of Fox Sports Radio's lineup, simulcast WTEM's afternoon programming, and picked up Jim Rome in its entirety, enabling WTEM to become an exclusive ESPN Radio outlet (save for Czaban's syndicated program).

In December 2005, the station's studios were moved from Bethesda, Maryland, to 1801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, to consolidate Clear Channel's Washington operation.

Because of Tony Kornheiser's preparation for ESPN's Monday Night Football, The Tony Kornheiser Show on WTEM ended on April 28, 2006 and Kornheiser eventually left for WTWP. Starting on May 1, 2006, The Sports Reporters with Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban filled in the 9 a.m.-12 p.m. slot, a new show hosted by Brian Mitchell and Bram Weinstein aired between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., and The John Thompson Show was extended through 7 p.m.[10]

In early June 2006, The Brian Mitchell Show changed again. Bram Weinstein left WTEM and was replaced by Kevin Sheehan.

Starting February 12, 2007, The Brian Mitchell Show moved to the 10 a.m.–1 p.m. slot, The John Thompson Show moved to the 1 p.m.–4 p.m. slot and The Sports Reporters with Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban filled in the 4 p.m.–7 p.m. slot.[11]

On April 30, 2007, Doc Walker went solo and hosted The Doc Walker Show from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. WTTG's Dave Feldman and Comcast SportsNet's Carol Maloney hosted a new show called Feldman and Maloney between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Brian Mitchell moved to The John Thompson Show as co-host.[12][13] Regarding going solo, Walker said, "Management came to me and I thought that is was time to do my own show. If you are lucky enough to get a chance to do your own show you would be foolish not to take it. I will miss Al and Coach, but it was a perfect time for me to go out on my own."

On May 26, 2007, Phil Wood returned to WTEM, and hosted a weekly baseball show from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.[14] Then, on October 22, 2007, The Dan Patrick Show, syndicated by the Content Factory, was back on WTEM in the 11 a.m.–1 p.m. slot as a tape delay show, replacing Feldman and Maloney. Both hosts were dropped following the merger of WTEM with Triple X ESPN Radio.

Red Zebra Broadcasting purchased WTEM, WTNT and WWRC from Clear Channel in a deal announced in 2008.[15]

WWXT and WWXX[edit]

From 2001 until November 17, 2005, WBZS-FM 92.7/WBPS-FM 94.3 aired the Spanish Tropical format under the positioning of "La Nueva Mega" (originally, WBPS aired a separate format, Spanish love songs "Amor"). However, due to strong competition from Infinity Broadcasting-owned and SBS-programmed WLZL "99.1 El Zol", Mega Communications changed the station to "Mega Clasica", a format consisting of a mixture of Latin Contemporary and Oldies.

Previously, as WMJS and WQRA respectively, these were traditional, full-service FM stations designed to serve their respective small cities of license (WQRA was at the time licensed to Warrenton, Virginia) and surrounding counties. During the 1990s, however, 94.3 garnered listeners across suburban Northern Virginia as a "rimshot" signal:

WBZS-FM, along with sister stations WBPS-FM and WKDL-AM 730 in Alexandria, Virginia, were sold in 2006 to Red Zebra Broadcasting. On July 17, 2006, the Mega Clasica format ended to make way for the English-language format sports radio format. The three stations became known as WWXT, WWXX and WXTR, reflecting the slogan "Triple-X ESPN Radio." The new trimulcast cleared most of ESPN Radio's weekday programming, as well as a local show hosted by former Redskin John Riggins.

ESPN 980[edit]

When WTEM merged with Triple X ESPN Radio, the last hour of The Herd with Colin Cowherd was eliminated, as well as the entire network show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt (the latter of whom graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in the local area). WXTR temporarily remained in the simulcast until assuming a separate format as the Washington, DC affiliate of ESPN Deportes Radio on September 1, 2008. WXTR also served as the Spanish-language home of Washington Redskins games in 2008 and 2009.[16]

Due to the new contract with ESPN Radio that guaranteed a full clearance for Mike and Mike in the Morning, Steve Czaban's morning show on Fox Sports Radio was dropped. That show, however, continued to be produced from WTEM's studios until Fox Sports Radio canceled the program in December 2009.

On September 8, 2009, The Tony Kornheiser Show returned to WTEM in the 10am-noon slot, dropping Cowherd's show entirely.

Red Zebra flipped WTNT from its conservative talk format to sports/talk on September 20, 2010, as an all-network complement to WTEM. WTNT now clears the entire ESPN Radio daytime schedule, and serves as the originating station for Steve Czaban's new morning show from Sporting News Radio. This station also acts as a backup station in the case of any play-by-play scheduling conflicts with WTEM. WTNT's previous conservative talk format and call letter reside on the former WXTR, which was sold to Metro Radio on October 18, 2010.

ESPN980's Current Lineup as of May 2012: 6am - 10am Mike and Mike 10am - Noon The Tony Kornheiser Show Noon - 2pm The Sports Fix w/Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro 2pm - 4pm Insider the Lockerroom w/Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell 4pm - 7pm The Sports Reporters w/Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin

Current staff[edit]

  • President: Rick Carmean
  • Program Director/VP: Chuck Sapienza

Hosts[edit]

Anchors[edit]

  • Nick Ashooh
  • Al Galdi
  • Scott Linn
  • Chris Russell

Past local hosts and news reporters[edit]

Station profiles[edit]

Callsign Frequency City of license Power/ERP Class HAAT Facility ID Transmitter coordinates Former Callsigns
WTEM 980 kHz (also on HD Radio) Washington, D.C. 50,000 watts day
5,000 watts night
B 25105 38°57′43.00″N 76°58′24.00″W / 38.9619444°N 76.9733333°W / 38.9619444; -76.9733333 WWRC
WRC
WWXT 92.7 MHz Prince Frederick, Maryland 2,850 watts A 145 meters 43277 38°40′26.00″N 76°35′40.99″W / 38.6738889°N 76.5947194°W / 38.6738889; -76.5947194 WBZS
WMJS
WESM
WWXX 94.3 MHz Buckland, Virginia 2,000 watts A 175 meters 16819 38°44′30.98″N 77°50′7.01″W / 38.7419389°N 77.8352806°W / 38.7419389; -77.8352806 WBPS
WPLC-FM
WPLC
WTOP
WINX-FM
WQRA

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.98wrc.com/images/Vintage/WRC%20History.pdf
  2. ^ Roxanne Roberts (1992-05-23), Whaddaya mean Rypien's a bum!?, The Washington Post.
  3. ^ Leonard Shapiro (1992-05-27), WTEM is born babbling, The Washington Post.
  4. ^ Leonard Shapiro (1994-12-09), All-sports station's survival requires a team effort, The Washington Post.
  5. ^ Warner Wolf and Larry Weisman (2000), Let's go to the videotape: all the plays and replays from my life in sports, Warner Books (ISBN 0-44652-559-6).
  6. ^ Leonard Shapiro (1998-03-06), Watts up next week at WTEM, The Washington Post.
  7. ^ Frank Ahrens (1998-12-17), Kiley, Booms fired up, The Washington Post.
  8. ^ Leonard Shapiro (2000-04-21), He could talk the talk, The Washington Post.
  9. ^ Dave Hughes (2001-04-09). "Hot talk WTNT debuts with Imus in the Morning". dcrtv.com News Archive. 
  10. ^ Dave Hughes (2006-04-27). "Changes at WTEM". dcrtv.com News Archive. 
  11. ^ Dave Hughes (2007-02-08). "Sked shifts at 980". dcrtv.com News Archive. 
  12. ^ Dave Hughes (2007-04-30). "Dave Feldman Gets WTEM Show". dcrtv.com News Archive. 
  13. ^ Leonard Shapiro (2007-05-08). "Stuck in between stations". washingtonpost.com. 
  14. ^ Dave Hughes (2007-05-21). "Phil Wood Back To TEM". dcrtv.com News Archive. 
  15. ^ "Deals," Broadcasting & Cable, June 16, 2008.
  16. ^ http://www.radioink.com/HeadlineEntry.asp?hid=143186&pt=todaysnews

External links[edit]

Preceded by
WGMS
AM 570 kHz in Washington, D.C.
May 24, 1992-March 8, 1998
Succeeded by
WWRC
Preceded by
WWRC
AM 980 kHz in Washington, D.C.
March 9, 1998-Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent