ESPN Radio returning to Midlands market

jholleman@thestate.comDecember 27, 2013 

— “Mike & Mike in the Morning” along with most of the ESPN Radio crew will be back on the Midlands airwaves in 2014.

L&L Broadcasting, which own 35 stations nationally including five in the Midlands, will switch WOIC 1230 AM from its current news talk format to ESPN Radio Columbia on Jan. 1.

That will give the Midlands three major sports radio stations. Currently, WNKT 107.5 FM The Game features local hosts, University of South Carolina sports, “The Dan Patrick Show” and national programming from CBS Radio. WXBT 560 AM The Team features local hosts, the state-oriented SportsTalk Radio Network and national programming from Fox Sports. (Clemson football, basketball and baseball games are broadcasts locally on 93.1 FM.)

The ESPN sports talkers were knocked off the local airwaves in late July 2012 in a series of radio station deals. The last ESPN home in the Midlands was 93.1 FM, which was purchased in 2012 by Lake Murray Communications and rebranded Z93 The Lake.

That shut out fans of the morning drive-time show of Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg and the midday show of Colin Cowherd. Starting next month 1, they’re back.

“We’re excited to bring the iconic ESPN brand back to the thousands of sports fans in Columbia,” said Bill McElveen, market manager for ESPN Columbia. “ESPN’s dominance in the sports arena is unparalleled, and we are delighted to be partnering with them in this venture.”

The move means listeners in Columbia will have two alternatives for listening to the University of South Carolina’s Capital One Bowl matchup with Wisconsin at 1 p.m. on Jan. 1. It’ll be on 107.5 FM with the Gamecock network announcers as well as the new ESPN Columbia with ESPN announcers. ESPN Columbia also will broadcast the Rose Bowl game Jan. 1 pitting Stanford against Michigan State.

ESPN Columbia also will carry the ESPN national feed for Clemson vs. Ohio State in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.

In addition to “Mike & Mike” (6-10 a.m.) and “The Herd” (10 a.m.-1 p.m.), ESPN Columbia will have the Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Rusillo show from 1-4 p.m. weekdays. Local content will take over for three hours, with The Zone hosted by Duane “The Shot Doctor” Everett from 4-6 p.m., and Sports Hotline with Bobby Gist and Ernest Robinson from 6-7 p.m. Those are time changes for both local shows, which air on WOIC now.

ESPN Columbia also will carry Charlotte Bobcats games, as well as national NBA games from ESPN Radio. The local station plans to launch a website, www.espncolumbia.com.

Fans of the current WOIC nationally syndicated shows such as Jay Young’s “Daybreak USA,” and Alex Jones’ “InfoWars” will have to find them on other stations or online. WOIC’s local hosts, including Frank Knapp, Lopez Martinez and Tzima, are looking for other homes. No contract has been signed yet, but Keven Cohen of 95.9 FM The Point said he plans to add Tzima’s yoga and wellness show to his local lineup.

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