ESPN radio gunning for Fresno State broadcasting rights

Armed with a more powerful signal, 940ESPN is looking to win radio broadcasting rights for Fresno State athletics.Armed with a more powerful signal, 940ESPN is looking to win radio broadcasting rights for Fresno State athletics.Now armed with a 50,000-watt signal, local ESPN radio affiliate Fat Dawgs Broadcasting, LLC, has set its sights on Fresno State football and men’s basketball broadcasting rights, which are up for negotiation next month.

Earlier this month, Fat Dawgs Broadcasting and JSA Broadcasting announced a new operational agreement. Although ownership remains the same and no equity changes hands, Fat Dawgs will broadcast ESPN radio from the 50,000-watt frequency AM 940 now and JSA will broadcast KYNO from AM 1430.

940ESPN and Fat Dawgs 7 Broadcasting owner Chris Pacheco confirmed he has geared up for a full-scale bidding war to obtain the Fresno State football and men’s basketball broadcasting rights, which become available at the end of October. The 50,000-watt signal that can be heard from Bakersfield to Sacramento and even to the ocean in certain parts, will be a vital weapon in the negotiation.

In 2008, KMJ-AM 580, which is owned by Peak Broadcasting, was awarded those coveted broadcasting rights by the university’s athletic department. KMJ won those rights in large part because it had one of the 12 50,000-watt signals in California and ESPN did not.

“This obviously strengthens our position,” Pacheco said about the acquiring a 50,000-watt signal. “We were aggressive four years ago and the current rate holder was able to match our offer. This put us at an even-keel.”

Patty Hixson, general manager of KMJ, said the station has no intention of changing its relationship with the university, which it has been afilitied with since 1969. She also added the satation's goal is to serve local listeners and its consistency and track record speaks for itself.

Pacheco’s relationship with Fresno State goes beyond a radio station owner looking to add listeners.

Pacheco was an all-conference nose guard for the ‘Dogs in 1984 and 1985. His senior season was of one of the most successful campaigns on the gridiron in school history, when the Bulldogs went 11-0-1 and lit up Bowling Green, 51-7, in Cal Bowl V.

“There is no bigger Bulldog in the Valley than Chris Pacheco,” confirmed John Ostlund, owner of KYNO.

Pacheco’s station is already the exclusive radio station for all Fresno State varsity sports that are not football, baseball or men’s basketball. KYNO currently owns the rights to Fresno State baseball radio broadcasts.

“For me, it is something I’m personally passionate about,” Pacheco said. “Obviously we’re a 24-7 talk radio format and what better place for a live sports broadcast than a 24-7 sports talk radio station.”

It is also not coincidental timing for the aggressive cooperation between the stations. This October, Premiere Radio Networks announced it will take three of the most popular nationally syndicated radio shows — The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Sean Hannity Show and The Glenn Beck Show — off of KMJ at the end of the year.

“We have never seen this market in more of a transition than its in now,” Ostlund said.

Although Premiere has not announced which station those shows will end up on, Ostlund anticipates it could be one of the eight Clear Channel stations in Fresno.
Pacheco and Ostlund agree the main priorities for the agreement were to reduce costs and build upon each other’s strengths.

“Most radio entities are made of a multi-station cluster,” Pacheco said. “We had a desire to create a cluster in the market as well as consolidate costs.”

As part of the operational agreement, KYNO will now broadcast a 1960s music format on AM 1430 and the station will be called 1430KYNO Oldies.

“That is a sound that is not currently on air anywhere in Fresno and it will be an exclusive format,” Ostlund said.

Some things are the same. AM 790 is still 790 the Deuce and KJWL will remain on FM 99.3.

The stations will also share the same sales staff.

“Putting that brand on a 50,000-watt blowtorch is a great enhancement to create sales revenue,” Ostlund said.

KYNO hired Lane Ryan as a new general manager and Mary Lou Gunn was let go.
The local ESPN Radio staff will relocate to and broadcast from KYNO’s downtown Fresno headquarters. Pacheco gushed over the studio and building that was remodeled just two years ago.

“We are thrilled to be moving downtown into the finest radio facility in the country and we’re excited to reach the entire Central Valley region with the ESPN brand,” Pacheco said.