ESPN 1000 to Bear Down

Good Karma is new flagship home of the Chicago Bears – and they may looking for a new TV partner as well

While the Chicago Bears are remaking their team for the future by trading away players for future draft picks, the team also made a major move on the radio front and may look to do so on the TV side as well. 

Good Karma Brands announced Tuesday their flagship Chicago station ESPN 1000 (WMVP-AM) will become the new home of Chicago Bears football starting in spring 2023, taking over from Audacy-owned all-news WBBM-AM who declined to renew their contract after the 2022 season after a 22-year run. 

“The Chicago Bears are a best-in-class organization, and we are excited to partner with a charter franchise of the NFL”, said ESPN 1000 market manager Keith Williams, who is also senior vice president at Good Karma Brands. “We are dedicated to delivering a top-notch broadcast for our partners and fans around the Midwest and the world. Our teammates are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to get started and execute at the highest level.”

“We were incredibly impressed with the enthusiasm shown by the leadership team at Good Karma Brands,” said Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips. “Their plan for presenting Bears football on the radio is first class and we know that ESPN 1000 will be an excellent home for our games and a hub for Bears talk year-round. We look forward to working with the station beginning in 2023.”

This is the latest coup for suburban Milwaukee-based Good Karma, whose owned rights to the Chicago White Sox since last year and expanded their holdings by acquiring ESPN’s radio stations in New York and Los Angeles. This is also a bit of redemption for Good Karma, who lost the rights to Bears’ main rival the Green Bay Packers in Milwaukee this year to rival iHeartMedia. 

But the Bears may not stop there. According to the Sun-Times, the team is putting their local TV rights up for bid. This is basically all the rights but the games themselves including pre-season contests, pre and post game shows, and weekly shows Bears Unleashed and Inside The Bears. The team produces the programming. 

This programming currently airs on Fox’s duopoly stations of WFLD-TV and WPWR-TV, known as Fox 32 and My50 respectively. In addition to Fox, other possible bidders include Nexstar Media Group, who owns independent WGN-TV and Sinclair Broadcasting, who runs Marquee Sports Network in partnership with the Chicago Cubs and already is a partner with the Bears including the weekly show Bear Essentials. A Bears deal could be a boon for the fledgling regional sports network, though it does have the potential of taking pre-season games off over-the-air TV. 

No matter what happens, Fox 32 will continue to air regular season Bears games thanks to its parent company’s deal with the NFL. 

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1 thought on “ESPN 1000 to Bear Down

    • What does this move mean for the White Sox games that would air around the same time? My guess is that there would be a “shadow station”, similar to what the old WMAQ had in the early 1990’s with the Bulls coverage during their first three-peat run.

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