Chicago White Sox return to ESPN 1000

Team returns to WMVP in new three-year deal

After a turbulent last few weeks after the team announced the return of 76-year old Tony LaRussa as manager, the Chicago White Sox announced another retro signing – a return to WMVP-AM, branded as ESPN 1000.

The multi-year deal was originally supposed to be announced Tuesday, but was delayed after a bombshell report was released the same day over LaRussa’s DUI arrest in Arizona earlier this year – his second in a decade.  LaRussa was officially charged on October 28 – one day before the White Sox hired him to replace Rick Renteria, who was fired at the end of the most recent season. It turned out the White Sox knew he was arrested of the offense.

Before the discovery of his most recent DUI arrest, fans and pundits alike mostly criticized the move, given LaRussa was an old-school manager given his past attitudes toward issues such as racial injustice and whether he can manage a team of youngsters who like to express themselves. The revelation of his most recent DUI arrest added more criticism to the pile this week, with Chicago sports fans already antagonized over the way the Bears have played and how management has run the team and you wonder if they need all of this shit in a middle of raging pandemic.

LaRussa was White Sox manager from 1979 to 1986, where he helped the team win a divisional title in 1983 and advanced to the ALCS for the first time in 24 years but were dispatched by the Baltimore Orioles in four. LaRussa went on to win World Series titles with the Oakland A’s (1989) and St. Louis Cardinals (2011).

As for the deal, it marks a return to the now-branded ESPN 1000 for the first time since 2005, when the White Sox last won the World Series as WMVP held the rights for seven years. In 2006, the White Sox jumped to The Score (WSCR-AM) and then an ill-fated deal in 2015 with Cumulus-owned WLS-AM, whose parent filed for bankruptcy and was able to get out of its deal with the team and the Chicago Bulls.

Since the 2018 season, the White Sox had been on WGN-AM – then owned by Tribune Media but was acquired by Nexstar in early 2019 as the company declined to renew the rights. The team and WGN never really clicked, given the radio station was always known to be the home of the crosstown rival Cubs from 1924 until 2014 when the team moved to Entercom’s WBBM-AM and later WSCR.

ESPN 1000’s deal includes the standard pre-game and post-game shows a new year-round weekly magazine show, White Sox Weekly. 

“The White Sox are an extremely entertaining, talented baseball team with an incredibly bright future, and we’re thrilled to partner with them to bring the White Sox to ESPN 1000 fans,” said Mike Thomas, ESPN Chicago market manager in a press release. “We’re dedicated to bringing the best content in Chicago sports to ESPN 1000, and having the Sox back on our airwaves just ensures that we’re making good on that promise.”

The press release did not mention current play-by-play talent Andy Masur and Darrin Jackson, making their future status unknown. Masur replaced long-time voice Ed Farmer, who died earlier this year.

ESPN 1000 is owned by the network, but is managed by suburban Milwaukee-based Good Karma Brands, who took over the station last year.

Editor’s Note: Correct link in third paragraph.

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