The Media Notepad: Entercom launches new sports gambling station “The Bet”

Also: Dan Bongino takes Rush’s place; ET makes history; Fox Sports Net name change set

Hey remember HD Radio? No? Well believe it or not, it’s still around and here’s your reminder: On Monday, Entercom’s WCFS-FM became 105.9 The Bet, a format devoted to sports gambling. 

However, it’s not on WCFS-FM’s main frequency, where a simulcast of Newsradio 780 continues. It’s available on WCFS’ HD-2 channel where you can access it on a HD Radio – that is, if you can find one. 

The good news is, you can access the channel on, which you can access here. (it’s also available on the app.) The new station includes a syndicated show featuring The Score/WSCR’s own Joe Ostrowski paired with football podcaster Ross Tucker on Bet QL Daily. The format also launched recently on Entercom stations/subcarriers in Los Angeles and Denver part of the new BetQL network, from Entercom’s acquisition of QL Gaming Group.

In a statement, Entercom regional president and market manager Rachael Williamson said: “Since legalization in 2019, sports betting has exploded in the state of Illinois and we’re delighted to enter the arena of this rapidly growing landscape to deliver insightful content to our listeners with the launch of this new station.” 

And you can tell given the flood of gambling and sportsbook ads on local radio and linear television since sports gambling became legal in the Land Of Lincoln. Frequent advertisers include DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers, and PointsBet. The commercials bring in vital revenue at a time when the pandemic has deviated broadcasters and are basically DVR-proof given many of them run in live sporting events. 

This isn’t the only gambling-related news to make headlines: Indianapolis’ WISH-TV Monday announced the launch of All Indiana Bets, a new sports betting show to launch in August. Neighboring Indiana was among one of the first states to legalize sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court gave the okay. Viewers outside of the Indianapolis area – including in Northwest Indiana can access the show at at launch and available as an audio podcast. 

A former longtime CBS affiliate, WISH is now a CW station owned by Circle City Broadcasting, with Ryan McCoy as Indiana’s first Black TV station owner.

The relaunch of the former Fox Sports regional networks now has a drop date: March 31. That’s when the nineteen Sinclair-owned sports channels are rebranding themselves as Bally, i.e. Bally Sports Midwest, Bally Sports Indiana, and so forth. 

“We are extremely proud to unveil the Bally Sports logo as it signifies a new, transformative chapter in the regional sports business and is representative of our cohesive partnership with Bally’s,” said Steve Rosenberg, President of Local Sports, Sinclair Broadcast Group. “The upcoming rebrand across our RSN footprint is incredibly exciting, not only for our entire portfolio, but for loyal sports fans across the country.”

The Major League Baseball season begins the next day. 

The changes complete a long journey for the RSNs, who were sold to Disney as part of the blockbuster $71.3 billion deal for 21st Century Fox in 2017. But the Justice Department forced Disney to sell its RSNs due to antitrust issues, with Sinclair winding up with the channels. With the sale, a name change was inevitable so Bally made a deal with Sinclair to slap their name on the networks as part of a larger move toward in-game gambling elements as Bally operates several casinos and sportsbooks through parent Caesars Entertainment. 

If you’re looking to stream Bally Sports Networks…well, unless you have the rather expensive AT&T TV, you’re out of luck as You Tube TV, Fubo, and Hulu Live + TV recently dropped or never carried the channels. The Cubs’ Marquee Network (also owned by Sinclair but is not affected by the name change) is also not available on these services. 

The replacement for the late Rush Limbaugh was finally announced last week – at least in the Chicago area. 

Cumulus’ Westwood One is launching of a new three-hour talk show hosted by former New York City cop and Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, who’ll air locally on WLS-AM between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. starting May 24 in the time slot Limbaugh held for decades. Limbaugh died earlier this month from lung cancer.

Even though one Hollywood trade (who does not specialize in covering radio) said he was the appointed heir to Limbaugh, Bongino is only those where Cumulus had the rights, including WLS here. Bongino originally launched a one-hour podcast with Westwood One last year, also repurposed for terrestrial radio.

Bongino has been cleared in top markets such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Dallas, where Cumulus owns conservative talk stations. 

For Cumulus, it gives them a chance to produce their own conservative talk show instead of paying another syndicator – in this case, Premiere Networks – owned by rival broadcaster iHeartMedia. Cumulus and WLS had been doing this for years as at one time they were looking to drop the show but relented.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting Premiere has no plans at this time to name a replacement for Limbaugh as they are relying on recycled commentary with live guest hosts. iHeartMedia owns numerous conservative talkers including WOR in New York City and KEIB in Los Angeles where Limbaugh was heard. 

After two years, CBS Media Ventures’ syndicated Entertainment Tonight has named a new co-anchor – and it’s Nischelle Turner who joins Kevin Frazier at the anchor desk, filling a position left vacant by Nancy O’Dell’s departure. 

“Nischelle can do it all,” said ET exec producer Erin Johnson in a statement. “She can go from a heartfelt conversation with Oscar-winner Viola Davis about the impact of Cicely Tyson to singing karaoke on a balcony with Jimmy Fallon. She is warm, thoughtful, and full of energy. Celebrities respect her skills as a seasoned journalist, and our audience has taken notice of her fun chemistry with Kevin. There is no one more deserving to lead ET in our history-making 40th season and beyond.”

The pairing of Frazier and Turner marks the first time two African-Americans have co-anchored the show in its forty-season history. Turner been with ET since 2014 and her career has taken her from local news stations WEHT Evansville, Ind, WVUE New Orleans, and Fox-owned KTTV Los Angeles to CNN, where she still makes appearances. She also was named host of CBS’ new Secret Celebrity Renovation, scheduled to debut this summer. 

Turner isn’t the first Black woman to co-anchor and co-host ET – the distinction belongs to the late Paula McClure, who did so early in the show’s run.  

On the air since 1981, ET currently airs on CBS-owned WBBM-TV weeknights at 6:30 p.m., a time slot it has held since January 1988. ET surpassed Soul Train in 2016 to become first-run syndication’s longest-running show. 


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