For the second straight year UB sports will be moving to a new spot on the radio dial: ESPN 1520 AM. Because of the new broadcasting deal Buffalo Bulls football and basketball games will go out on a 50,000-watt station which at times has a transcontinental range.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with ESPN 1520. To have UB Athletics broadcasted over the airwaves of one of the most powerful stations on the East Coast with further help us enhance our brand and reach a very large fan base." -- Danny White
Because 1520 is a property of Entercom the arrangement means that there will be cross proportion of UB athletics across other Entercom-owned stations, including WGR 550, 930 WBEN, Kiss 98.5 and Star 102.5.
WWKB is the overflow station for WGR sports. When their are two prime sporting events going on in the queen city WGR will put the more prominent event on their own station while the other airs on ESPN1520. In addition to their role as an overflow ESPN1520 is already the home for several big names in Buffalo.
The Buffalo Bandits have aired on the station since the 2006 season (moving from WGR where it took the place of the locked-out Sabres in 2005). Along with the Bandits UB will be joining the Buffalo Bisons.
Outside of Buffalo sports 1520 also covers Syracuse and takes NFL overflow when WGR is broadcasting the Bills games.
Today's deal didn't stop with the Buffalo Radio Market. Athletics has announced that in addition to ESPN1520 they have reached deals with three other radio stations around New York State.
UB games will also air on 1280 WHTK in Rochester and daytime games will be on in New York City via 570 WMCA and on104.5 "The Team" in Albany. For nighttime games the WWKB signal is sufficient to cover both markets the New York and Albany markets. For the first time in school history, UB Athletics will have a radio network that spans across the entire Empire State.
In addition to football and men’s and women’s basketball games airing on ESPN 1520, the department will also produce a weekly 30-minute coaches show. The show will feature football head coach Jeff Quinn, men’s and women’s basketball head coaches Bobby Hurley and Felicia Legette-Jack.
I've been told the coaches shows will be in the evening so they will go out across the entire Empire State during the hours when the WWKB signal can be heard from Toronto to South Carolina and eastward into New England. While the coaches shows are not going to be broadcast on the other UB Radio Network affiliates fans in the Empire state will still be able to tune into 1520 to hear the shows.
These kind of shows are a coveted acquisition for the department. When White brokered a deal with WGRZ television last year the contract included a similar weekly show featuring UB coaches. While Channel two has yet to directly broadcast a game they have carried the weekly show early in the evening on Saturday's since the fall.
History of WWKB
WWKB has a history spanning back to the 1920s when it was started a a Christian Radio station. In the decades that followed it became a contemporary music station, a rock and roll oldies station, a talk radio station, a golden oldies station, and a progressive talk radio outlet.
Then in 2013 WWKB flipped to a full-time feed of ESPN Radio under the brand ESPN 1520AM.
The move away from WHLD "the Fan" may be partially motivated by the signal strength of the two stations. WWKB's daytime signal decently covers easily covers Rochester and the Southern Tier, and reaches into Toronto and as far east as Kingston. WHLD's range is significantly less: It can be hard to pick up WHLD in certain parts of the City and the southern suburbs.
Despite a weak signal WHLD had it's advantages. The station treated UB athletics like their flagship product during the football season. On WWKB UB will be competing with the Bisons, Bandits, and their other properties. The risk in this move is that while games will be heard everywhere commentary during the weekly rush hour shows will not have an emphasis on UB. How much WWKB talks about UB is critical to helping build the brand locally.
In what might be a display that UB will not start sitting second chair Entcomm send WGR out to Alumni Arena during the Bulls recent "Ticket Blitz" event.
Paul Peck will be back as the voice of the Bulls, calling the play-by-play action of Bulls football for his 15th consecutive. New to the broadcast team in 2014, serving as analyst, will be Ed O’Neil. The first chance to hear this new team, on the new stations will be August 30th when the season kicks off against Duquesne.