Entercom-owned sports station WSCR-AM (The Score) announced Wednesday it has acquired the rights to air Chicago Bulls games for the rest of this season and future seasons.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the pact runs though the end of the 2020-21 season. No changes are being made to the broadcasts, with Chuck Swirsky remaining as play-by-play man, and former Bull Bill Wennington at color. WSCR’s first broadcast takes place Saturday afternoon against the now Blake Griffin-less Los Angeles Clippers from the Staples Center. The final WLS game is tonight, against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The purchase comes as Cumulus and both the Bulls and the Chicago White Sox agreed to part ways due to the company’s Chapter 11 filing. Cumulus stated the Jerry Reinsdorf-owned sports teams were losing money for WLS as the company was shredding “unprofitable contracts”, including an agreement to purchase two Chicago rock radio stations from Merlin Media.
News of the deal was announced this morning on Mulligan & Hanley. The move by Entercom is a smart one given senior vice-president and market manager Jimmy deCastro had a strong relationship with Reinsdorf, as his Evergreen Media held the rights for the team through WMVP-AM in the late 1990s. The acquisition gives WSCR pro sports programming during the winter months, as the Cubs take up the spring and summer slots on the station.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Chicago Bulls on our air at 670 The Score,” said de Castro. “Entercom is the nation’s unrivaled leader in local sports talk radio, and today’s announcement underscores our continued commitment to expand our leading sports platform and to provide the top-rated content that our listeners crave.”
The deal also returns the Bulls to the 670 AM frequency as the former WMAQ held the rights from 1985-1988 and again from 1991-96.
If there are any conflicts with the Cubs, Bulls games would simply shift to Salem Communications’ WIND-AM (560). WIND was the home of the Bulls from 1970 to 1985, excluding 1980-82, where they were on WVON-AM and WGCI-FM, respectively.
As for the White Sox, no deal has been announced as of yet, but potential suitors include WMVP and WGN-AM, whose parent Tribune Media is being sold to Sinclair.
The move gives Entercom rights to three of five Chicago’s pro sports franchises, along with the Cubs and Bears,whose games airs on WBBM-AM. Entercom also has an opportunity to cross-promote the Bulls with Entercom’s other properties – particularly new Classic Hip-Hop/R&B station WBMX-FM (104.3 Jams), who finished third in its first full PPM “book”, albeit a holiday one.
Entercom is betting the Bulls would be a better-performing team by 2021 as they are going through a rebuild process. This fall and winter has been a brutal one for Chicago sports fans as the Bulls, Bears, and the Chicago Blackhawks all are/were in last place in their respective divisions. Television ratings for all three however, remain respectable given today’s media environment.