Sports radio in Toledo will grow by a couple of thousand watts Monday when WLQR-AM 1470 takes over WRWK-FM's spot on the dial, significantly expanding coverage of the Detroit Lions, Tigers, and Red Wings, and Ohio State.
The decision by Cumulus Media Inc. will give local sports radio two homes - the same programs will air simultaneously on 1470 and WRWK's 106.5 niche on the FM dial - and a coverage area that goes as far north as Hillsdale, Michigan, and as far south as Findlay.
Norm Wamer, program director for WLQR, said the decision to eliminate the FM station's modern rock format in exchange for sports is aimed at the prime demographic of men between the ages of 25 and 54.
"Everyone has been having a tough time with the economy, but the sports format has been terrific," he said yesterday.
Similar moves have taken place in Detroit and Columbus radio markets, and they're designed to cash in on the enduring popularity of sports, including the talk radio format.
In addition to Wamer's Front Row, which airs most weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m., WLQR runs syndicated programming from EPSN, including the Mike & Mike In the Morning, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, and Tirico and Van Pelt.
One of the key appeals to advertisers is that these shows represent "active listening," Wamer said. That means listeners are more engaged in what they are hearing rather than having the radio on playing music in the background, a quality that advertisers value.
WLQR broadcasts at 1,000 watts and WRWK broadcasts at 3,000 watts, giving it a greater reach. Wamer said the decision by Cumulus reflects more the popularity of sports programming rather than a lack of interests in modern and alternative rock.
The plan is for WRWK to continue its format online, he said.
WLQR has about 30,000 listeners per week depending on the sports season, Wamer said. Some stations that have broadcast on both AM and FM channels have doubled their ratings, he said.
While the two stations will have the same shows broadcasting simultaneously, when there
is a conflict of game coverage - say the Lions and Tigers are playing at the same time - the stations will split their coverage so that both events can
be broadcast at the same time.
In addition to the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Buckeyes, WLQR and WRWK will carry high school basketball and football, the NFL playoffs, college football bowl games, major league baseball playoffs and a number of other events and talk shows.
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