Houston (FM booster)
|Broadcast area||Greater Houston|
|Branding||Analog/FM1/HD-1: ESPN 97.5|
HD-2: Sports Map 94.1
|Frequency||97.5 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|Translator(s)||99.5 K258DA (Barrett)|
94.1 K231CN (Houston)
|First air date||97.5 main: March 1, 1948 (as KRIC @ 99.5 MHz)|
97.5 booster: TBD
94.1: February 4, 2003 as 91.3 K217DP (Barker)
99.5: April 27, 2015 as 99.1 K256CC (Beaumont)
|ERP||97.5 main: 100,000 watts |
97.5 booster: 2,000 watts
94.1: 99 watts
99.5: 80 watts
|HAAT||97.5 main: 596 m (1,955 ft)|
97.5 booster: 171 m (561 ft)
99.5: 140 m (459 ft)
|Class||97.5 main: C |
97.5 booster: D
|Facility ID||97.5 main: 52407|
97.5 booster: 203402
|Transmitter coordinates||97.5 main: |
|Callsign meaning||FM News Channel (previous format)|
|Owner||David Gow |
(Gow Media, LLC)
|Webcast||HD-1: Listen Live|
HD-2: Listen Live
KFNC and KFNC-FM1 (97.5 FM; "ESPN Houston") is an American terrestrial sports radio station, paired with an on-channel FM booster, licensed to Mont Belvieu and Houston respectively. The facilities serve the Houston and Golden Triangle areas of southeast Texas. Owned by David Gow, through licensee Gow Media, LLC, it is an affiliate of ESPN Radio. The station's transmitter facility is located east of Houston, in unincorporated Chambers County south of Winnie, Texas, and studios are located in Uptown Houston one block from The Galleria.
From 99.5 KRIC through "KD 97"
KFNC began broadcasting March 1, 1948, on 99.5 MHz as KRIC and continued on that frequency through the early 1950s.
Interference to Beaumont viewers trying to watch KGUL-TV (now KHOU) in Galveston (now Houston), since its March 22, 1953 sign-on, caused the FCC to swap frequencies with this facility and an allocated Lake Charles, Louisiana construction permit, which changed KRIC's operating frequency to 97.5 FM in order to alleviate the interference to KGUL's signal. Lake Charles' 99.5 continues to operate as well, and is currently country KNGT, having first signed on in November 1965 as KPLC.
The KRIC callsign was changed to KAYD over the years to match its then AM counterpart 1450 KAYC. As KAYD, 97.5 was the long-time FM country music outlet in the Golden Triangle, going by the branding "KD 97".
In December 2001, a new 2,000-foot tower was built near Winnie, Texas so that the facility could be focused toward targeting the Houston market with programming.
It was as at this point that the country format of "KD 97" was moved to 101.7 FM as "KD101", while 97.5 began stunting, initially with Christmas music, and afterward, a week-long loop of airing empowerment-themed music and speeches from African-American artists and figures.
On January 3, 2002, the station officially began targeting the Houston market by flipping to an Urban Contemporary format as Power 97.5 under the temporary calls KKTT but IDed as KRPW (the station was unable to get the callsign in time for sign on and acquired the KRWP sign weeks later) and also continued to serve the Beaumont area. (KAYD has since moved to a different frequency.) The station, renamed KRWP (PoWeR spelled backwards) had modest success in the early months of 2002. However, KRWP faced stiff competition from longtime Houston hip-hop stations KBXX and KPTY-FM as well as rhythmic CHR station KTHT (which was also somehow competing with sister urban station KTCX in Beaumont).
KRWP later skewed to an Urban Adult Contemporary format with the intent of challenging the market's heritage R&B station, KMJQ. However, KRWP never challenged KMJQ in the ratings due to the location of the transmitter, which resulted in a lack of decent coverage for the market. KRWP was transmitting from a site 50 miles east of Houston in Chambers County, whereas the transmitter for KMJQ and almost every radio and television station serving Houston was based in northeast Fort Bend County east of Missouri City. The station was home to Doug Banks in the Mornings, even through the format altering in 2003.
Switch to rock
In late 2004, there were plans for KRWP to switch frequencies 103.7 FM, or otherwise launch a simulcast with another station with the objective of providing better coverage in Houston. At the same time, Houston's heritage rock station, KLOL, dumped its rock format after 34 years in favor of a Hurban (Hispanic Urban) format. On January 27, 2005, under new management, KRWP inherited the former KLOL format of album-oriented rock (AOR) and flipped to KIOL as Rock 97.5. The format change was headed by former KLOL personality Jim Pruett and program director/jock Pat Fant (who assumed market manager for Cumulus Houston as a result) in response to heavy outcry from misplaced KLOL listeners. The first song played on "Rock 97.5" was "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" by AC/DC.
KIOL Moves to 103.7; FM Newschannel debuts
103.7 signed back on the air May 23, 2005, after being purchased by Cumulus Media, and subsequently moved its transmitting site from Willis to Devers, including a massive facility upgrade to full Class C status. Cumulus began simulcasting "Rock 97.5" KIOL on the new 103.7 KUST signal for testing purposes and to familiarize listeners with the new frequency. The simulcast lasted for the next 8 days.
On May 31, 2005, at 6 a.m., 97.5 KIOL broke the simulcast and launched Houston's third attempt at an FM news station, as KFNC FM News Channel 97-5 (102.1 KLYX—now KMJQ—was the first in 1975 as an affiliate of NBC Radio's now-defunct 24-hour NBC News and Information Service; 97.1 KKTL was the second FM News/Talk station, and is now classic country.) Adopting a News/Talk radio format, the station consisted of former KLOL morning personalities Jim Pruett and Brian Shannon (the voice of Eddie "The Boner" Sanchez), who reunited to host the afternoon talk show "Back Talk", which was later moved to mornings. Other KLOL alumni on board for the station's news department were Laurie Kendrick and Martha Martinez. Non-KLOL personalities included former KILT newsman Jim Carolla, former KRBE and "NewsRadio 740" staffer Michael Shiloh as morning host/anchor, former "Newsradio 740" reporter and editor Belinda Babinec, former KPRC-TV sports director Craig Roberts, A.W. Pantoja, Clark Howard, Phil Hendrie, and Charles McPhee.
KFNC went through format tweaks and house cleaning, and the FM News Channel moniker was dropped around spring of 2006 for Supertalk 97.5. However, the station's ratings failed to keep the talk format afloat, and on the morning of December 22, 2006, after tearful goodbyes from Pruett and Shannon along with Kendrick, Martinez and news/traffic/producer Julie Takahashi, the talk format left the airwaves for its current sports format that officially launched in mid-January 2007. KFNC's on-air branding, ESPN 97.5 The Ticket, is similar to that of its sister AM sports station in Dallas, KTCK. It has become the Greater Houston FM radio affiliate for ESPN, which began moving its programming from Clear Channel's KBME-AM.
As part of a prepackaged bankruptcy filing, the lenders took over the license of four Cumulus Media Partners stations; two in the Kansas City metro area (KCHZ and KMJK) and the two rimshot signals in the Houston metro, KHJK and KFNC in November 2011. Station broker Larry Patrick emerged as the majority owner of the stations and set out to sell the stations to recover the value for the lenders. While Cumulus lost the licenses in bankruptcy, they continued to program the stations under an LMA. Cumulus had the opportunity to buy the stations back, but ultimately the highest bidder for KFNC was David Gow, owner of sports-formatted AM station KGOW and the highest bidder for KHJK was the Educational Media Foundation, a Christian broadcaster. KFNC remained affiliated with ESPN Radio following the sale to Gow and no major programming changes occurred.
KFNC HD-2/K231CN; "Sports Map 94.1"
On October 1, 2017, relay translator K231CN Houston, Texas, allegedly moved from KODA's HD-3 subchannel to the new KFNC HD-2, though there has never been any evidence that KFNC has actually operated an HD2 signal. With the change, the former "SB Nation" format of 1560 KGOW also moved from the AM facility to 97.5 HD-2 & 94.1, and re-imaged as "SportsMap 94.1". Sports Map 94.1 is currently owned by Gow Media, LLC, a company named after and controlled by David Gow. K231CN is the flagship station of SB Nation Radio, which is likewise owned by David Gow, and is a national sports network which competes with ESPN and Fox Sports.
KFNC HD-2/K231CN is the flagship radio broadcast affiliate for Rice University football. In 2017, KFNC HD-2/K231CN acquired rights to the Sugar Land Skeeters professional baseball team, while still operating on 1560 AM.
Monday to Friday:
- 12:00AM - 5:00AM Over The Night (Matt Harab)
- 5:00AM – 8:00AM SB Nation AM (Tony Deseire, Ronn Culver)
- 7:00AM – 9:00AM The Bench (John Granato, Lance Zierlein)
- 9:00AM – 11:00AM Golic & Wingo (Mike Golic, Trey Wingo)
- 11:00AM – 1:00PM The Charlie Pallilo Show (Charlie Pallilo)
- 1:00PM – 3:00PM The Stephen A. Smith Show (Stephen A. Smith)
- 3:00PM – 4:00PM The Usual Suspects (Joel Blank, Barry Laminack)
- 4:00PM – 7:00PM The Blitz (Fred Faour, AJ Hoffman)
- 7:00PM - 9:00PM Paid Programming
- 9:00PM - 12:00AM The Gold Standard (Alex Gold)
On June 22, 2018, Gow Media was granted an on-channel FM booster for KFNC, assigned the call set KFNC-FM1, to operate at 2 kilowatts, elevated at 171 meters height above average terrain, and located near Texas State Highway 330 and West Baker Road in Baytown, Texas. The construction permit for KFNC-FM1 is due to expire on June 22, 2021.
KFNC serves as the Houston affiliate for ESPN.
In 2018, KFNC changed its programming lineup to include more local programming, and airs local programs from 7:00AM - 9:00PM weekdays.
KFNC's revamped lineup has resulted in it being the top rated sports station in Houston, with The Blitz being the top rated sports talk program in the city.
Monday to Friday
- 5:00 a.m. - 7:00 a.m. Golic & Wingo
- 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. The Bench (John Granato, Lance Zierlein)
- 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. John & Raheel with Del (John Granato, Raheel Ramzanali, Del Olaleye)
- 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. The Charlie Pallilo Show (Charlie Pallilo)
- 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. The Usual Suspects (Joel Blank, Barry Laminack)
- 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. The Blitz (Fred Faour, AJ Hoffman and Jong Lee)
- 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Late Hits (Patrick Creighton)
- Wednesday: The Jimbo Fisher Show Texas A&M Sports Network 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
followed by Late Hits (Patrick Creighton) 8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
- Tuesday: Soccer Matters w/ Glenn Davis
All times CT
Callsign & moniker history
- KRIC - 03/01/1948
- KAYD -
- KAYD-FM - 10/06/1995 (KD 97)
- KKTT - 01/01/2002 (Power 97-5)
- KRWP - 01/18/2002 (Power 97-5)
- KIOL - 01/26/2005 (Rock 97.5)
- KFNC - 05/31/2005 (FM News Channel 97.5, Supertalk 97.5, ESPN 97.5 The Ticket)