BY SPNW Staff 12:59PM 06/18/2014

Huskies radio contract moves to KOMO from KJR

Huskies football and basketball radio broadcasts will return to KOMO AM 1000 and FM 97.7  beginning this fall after a 12-year run on KJR Sports Radio 950. The deal begins with the football opener Aug. 30 in Hawaii and runas through the 2020 season. Terms were not disclosed.

KOMO, which claims to be the Northwest’s only all-news radio station, had the contract from 1978 to 2002, except for three years from 1986-88.

KOMO TV and radio, including stations KPLZ and KVI, were purchased for $373 million by Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcasting in April 2013. There had been industry speculation that Sinclair may sell off the radio stations, but winning the bid suggests otherwise.

Bob Rondeau will remain as Huskies play-by-play voice for football, along with former UW quarterback Damon Huard as color commentator.

“We are excited about this new partnership with the KOMO News Network and the exposure it will provide the University of Washington through radio, television and digital,” Andre Riley, general manager of Washington IMG Sports Marketing and former Huskies receiver, said in a release. “KOMO’s multi-platform distribution will help more Husky fans hear game broadcasts through AM and FM simulcast signals, and will also allow for more UW coverage in the community throughout the year.

“I would also like to thank KJR for their many years of partnership.”

Janene Drafs, vice president and GM of Sinclair Radio Seattle, said in the release, “I couldn’t be more excited to welcome the Huskies back home to KOMO Newsradio. As a UW alum, I am proud and honored to once again be partnering with this outstanding athletic and academic institution.”

The Mariners and Seahawks rights belong to ESPN 710. The loss of the Huskies is a blow to KJR, which lost the Sonics contract after the team left Seattle for Oklahoma City in 2008.



  • Kotzebue

    Praise BE!! In the space of a little more than 3 years, 950 has lost the two pillars which kept them propped up–ESPN and the Huskies. KJR is now nothing more then Softy–whose routine is getting real old, and the most sexist contest in Seattle radio! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!!

    • art thiel

      Might want to look at ClearChannel’s business model before you blame the local guys.

      • Jeff Shope

        yep clearchannel is awful

    • Comodore

      Thank you KOMO… The Huskies are now back home where they belong. Please work on bringing the “HONKS and DAUGMEN” along with them.. “WITH OUT THAT FAT OBNOXIOUS softy……. Thanking you in advance. Jim Stewart

  • Count to 10

    I guess this makes KJR a sports radio station without any local sports teams…

    • art thiel

      Isn’t necessarily a killer. Some sports formats in other cities have no play by play. In some instances, it’s an advantage. The station hosts can afford to be — horrors! — honest.

  • RadioGuy

    As if KJR didn’t have enough problems. KIRO-AM is beating them in the local Arbitron ratings, 3.3 to 1.5, which is bad enough. Now KJR loses the only play-by-play contract they had left. Things are tough now, but wait’ll September when the Huskies are on KOMO, the Seahawks are on KIRO and KJR has nothing but what they’re already losing the ratings war with.

    Something they could try at least to generate revenue on the weekends is carrying live prep football games in the fall. They probably wouldn’t move the meter a lot in terms of overall listeners, but my own experience has been that alumni and boosters are more than willing to cough up some shekels to sponsor (Your Name Here) High games on the radio…prep sports has been the biggest moneymaker by far on EVERY commercial station I’ve ever worked at.

    Wait. Never mind. KJR probably already makes money hand over fist with 12th Man Mania. Who goes to football games on Friday nights? What was I thinking?

    • art thiel

      Preps work in smaller markets, especially one-station towns. Big metros are different. Can’t see it working. Games aren’t well attended in Seattle.

      • RadioGuy

        I thought about that, Art. I watch the Friday night highlights and there are probably more bodies in some multiplex movie bandbox than Memorial Stadium these days (sad to see), but the footage from the Eastside almost always shows packed stands. There IS interest out there.

        Again, this isn’t about ratings, which are nice, but revenues (which is what actually pays the bills). As of now, KJR has NOTHING but talk shows and they’re getting creamed. If they’re content to stay the course by hanging their hat on Mitch and Softy while pulling in AQH’s in the 1’s, that’s their right. Maybe they’re generating enough advertising with what they have. If they aren’t, they need to find a new niche…or format.

        All-sports radio stations are hard to quantify because they never come close to leading in the Arb ratings races, but they usually attract a loyal listenership from a somewhat narrow demographic. Right now, that demographic is being divided by three stations in this market and KIRO-AM is clearly beating the other two. Sponsors do notice, especially when a KIRO sales rep shows them both the ratings and the number of teams they’re carrying. KJR reps can’t do either now.

  • poulsbogary

    The guess here is KJR 950 will change over to a 1970’s country western format within a year. Or maybe the station can sign Delilah. There a couple of good guys who gave that station some credibility, but most of the rest are at best voice over experts for auto dealers and legal services companies.

    • art thiel

      Another country western station. Perfect.

  • Perry Komo

    I couldn’t be happier about the station change. I can’t listen to Softy. I only listen to the game. No pre-game, no-post game, no Softy.

    • art thiel

      Maybe KOMO will import the Husky Honks because you enjoy it so.

      • Effzee

        Dick Baird and Huge Mellon are great. Softy is a colossal embarrassment. I am therefor conflicted on whether I would want KOMO to import the Honks. Now that I think about the possibilities… The only thing worse than a terrible personality (Softy) would be no personality (Fain). Ugh. I am now afraid of what KOMO will do. :

    • mckoosa

      Yipppeee Kai Aye1!! — I just NoW heard this wonderful news…that Softy guy is like a 12 year Junior High kid that annoys everybody all day,,,,everyday…embarrassing is too kind a word to des
      cribe him…

  • Matt

    If I remember correctly, KJR actually lost the Sonics to 770 late in Schultz’s ownership, before they were stolen. Not sure about then, but now 770 is owned by Bonneville, part of the local radio bundle that includes 710ESPN.

    It’d be interesting to know whether KJR was outbid, just wasn’t interested or has something bigger going on at the Clear Channel level. I can’t imagine they’d turn to the Sounders (or Storm) to fill their “live and local” gap. Those probably don’t draw the audience of UW athletics and don’t seem to fit the station’s core demographics. But now that the Sounders business ops is separate from the Seahawks, maybe we’ll see them try to shop their radio rights around next time the contract is up, rather than stick with 710ESPN’s little cousin, 97.3.

    • art thiel

      I forgot about 770. You’re right. Bennett bought in July 06. His call.

      KIRO FM gets better ratings than AM. But sports don’t factor much in ratings, because games are mostly nights/weekends when no metering takes place.

  • jafabian

    I imagine when KJR chose to disconinue their FM broadcasts was the lynchpin in all this for UW and when that happened I thought it was a huge mistake. KJR can still do college broadcasts for other schools if they choose to go after those. I’m not sure if they do Seattle U. I couldn’t find on the SU website who their broadcasts are through. They do have a weekly show for the Storm but again, their website doesn’t say if their game broadcasts are through KJR. Too bad the Washington Stealth moved to Vancouver BC. I suppose they could do Mist games if they don’t already.

    KJR isn’t what they used to be with the Sonics gone. They no longer have Gorz and Gas plus losing Clayton for the Saturday morning show really hurt them. They don’t have a strong evening program like they used to when Elise was on it. Maybe they could do a game of the week with preps in football and basketball but to me it looks like KJR’s run as the premier sport talk radio station might be winding down.

    • RadioGuy

      KIRO has Seattle U basketball because Grosby personally owns the rights. Don’t see a switch to KJR for the Chieftains. The Storm don’t have ANY play-by-play on radio this season (the weekly show is all they’ve got) and I think the Mist are largely regarded as a Hooters-Girls-in-shoulder pads gimmick.

      I’ve suggested below that KJR might look into at least trying prep football (and why not basketball, while they’re at it?) so they’ll have SOMETHING beyond Vancouver Canucks games on weekends, but I think Art’s response reflects the prevalent view with a lot of major market media people. Who wants to listen to games featuring the future Jason Terrys, Jamal Crawfords and Nate Robinsons when you can continue ignoring the present offering?

      • jafabian

        I guess the Storm weren’t pulling in the ratings then. They still have a good TV deal though. At best high schools could be featured in a Game Of The Week format but I agree with Art that at best it’s hit and miss in Seattle. Personally, I like the Rat City Rollgergirls more than the Mist.
        I don’t know if the market here is large enough to support two sport talk radio stations. I don’t know if UW’s contract is for all sports? Maybe they could look at some of the ones beyond men’s football/basketball/baseball. And there’s so many other colleges around here.

        • RadioGuy

          Not sure how you’d do Rollergirls bouts on radio, although they definitely have carved out a following. Having grown up watching the Bay Area Bombers and LA T-Birds on TV, it’s hard to take this modern incarnation of roller derby seriously…they’re so slow, it’s like they’re skating on Dramamine. Or Quaaludes.

          The bottom line is that there are now THREE all-sports stations in Seattle and that’s at least one too many for a limited niche in broadcasting. KIRO-AM is winning the battle, KJR is treading water at best and The Fan 1090 has been flatlining at 1.0 since their rollout…I have no idea what was on CBS’ minds when they thought adding a third station to an already-diluted market was a good idea.

          • CQDX

            1090….hoo boy. Talk about a station that just can’t find an audience no matter what format they try. They haven’t been viable since the days of Jim Althoff.

            Part of their problem is their signal. When they have to cut power and go directional at sunset they pretty much disappear from everywhere but the immediate local dial. Conversely, KOMO’s got 1000 all to themselves, KIRO gets out well because there’s nobody they really have to protect, and KJR overdrives its 50KW transmitter like it’s a monster truck.

            Don’t forget 770 has been carrying SU basketball games and the M’s when the Seahawks are on KIRO, but their signal sucks from way back in the KXA days. Turn your radio sideways at night and you can hear KOB-Albuquerque bubbling underneath. I’ve even heard WABC-NY get in here.

            You can only listen to so much Softy and Marge in the Morning before your head splits open. I credit post-Groz/Gas KJR with driving me back to NPR. (Collective cringe duly noted.)

  • Jeff Shope

    kjr has been run into the ground by current management sad really I see a format change coming without any team to hang hat on.

    • CQDX

      There’s this guy Pat O’Day up in Friday Harbor. Maybe he’s available. :)