Inquiring minds want to know what I think the chances of WHLD-AM 1270 being able to compete with WGR 550 now that it has switched its format to sports talk via CBS Sports Radio.
Not much. But I am still cheering the switch, which gives an alternative voice to WGR for area sports talk. That’s something that has been missing since WECK-AM dropped its brief local and national sports talk experiment.
However, it won’t be much of a contest since WGR owns the rights to both the Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Sabres and their hosts talk about them constantly.
I would suspect the idea behind WHLD’s format switch is to give listeners a place to hear more national sports talk now that the Bills and Sabres have their own radio shows that have cut down on WGR’s national sports talk.
However, it is a good bet that most people couldn’t find WHLD, which is licensed out of Niagara Falls, on their car radios. And I’m not so sure about its signal strength since I don’t ordinarily listen to the adult standard music the station has been carrying.
The format switch to Sports Radio 1270, The Fan, was announced in an unorthodox way via a half-page advertisement in The Buffalo News on Sunday, which noted that the national sports hosts include Tiki Barber, Dana Jacobsen, Brandon Tierney, John Feinstein and Doug Gottlieb. Feinstein and Gottlieb were often heard on WGR, either on the Jim Rome Show or on the station’s ESPN coverage.
I would expect the News ad might have cost more than Cumulus, which owns WHLD, is paying to carry the CBS Sports Radio format. I’m joking. Cumulus isn’t paying anything to carry CBS Sports Radio. It is a barter arrangement, with CBS Sports Radio happy to get into the Buffalo market to sell its national advertising here and Cumulus happy to be able to sell advertising time with the ad time given it in return.
The tip-off about how much a competitor it will be to WGR is that Jim Rome, who began working for CBS Sports Radio on Jan. 1, has stayed on WGR. In other words, WHLD is carrying all the national talkers in the CBS Sports Radio lineup except its biggest name.
Rich Gaenzler, who was part of the Buffalo Bills radio team when Cumulus carried the NFL team’s games on its FM stations, will be the one local talker. He is in the unfortunate position of competing with Rome from noon to 3 p.m.
One other minor note: The News ad featured photos of Jim Kelly wearing No. 12 and an unidentified Bill wearing No. 70 to combine for the number 1270, where WHLD is located on the dial. The Bills insignia was removed from the photos, but I wonder if the Bills and WGR are going to protest anyway.