Emmis Communications Corp. has bought the FM 93.5 radio frequency and is set to add another sports-talk station to its Indianapolis arsenal.
Sports junkies will soon be able to listen to all of The Fan’s local shows on either of two stations—one on the AM dial the other on FM—and ESPN’s daylong national lineup on a third station.
The Fan’s primary competitors in the sports-talk realm are WNDE-AM 1260 and WXNT-AM 1430, but Emmis officials said The Fan is taking on—and beating—other top local male-oriented stations.
“People say ‘you have the No. 1 sports-talk station,’ and I say ‘no, we have the No. 1 men’s station,’” said Emmis Market Manager Charlie Morgan. “Since we’ve started simulcasting, it’s safe to say we’ve more than doubled our audience, and advertisers have followed the audience growth.”
Emmis began airing sports talk on WFNI-AM 1070 in December, 2007.
In early 2013, Emmis bought FM 107.5 from Frankfort-based Kaspar Broadcasting, ditched its soft-rock format, and boosted its weak signal. It then re-broadcast some of its locally generated content from WFNI—The Fan—but also aired a fair bit of ESPN national content.
This summer, Emmis bought another Kaspar station, FM 93.5, and strengthened its signal. That station will mirror AM 1070, airing all of its local content.
“We had so much success with the local parts of The Fan that we were simulcasting, we went on a search for another FM frequency,” Morgan said.
Emmis isn't the only Indianapolis station simulcasting its sports-talk station on the AM and FM dials. In July, iHeart's WNDE began simulcasting on FM 97.5.
Emmis is merely waiting for FCC approval—which Morgan expects in the coming days—to flip the switch on the new FM 93.5.
With AM 1070 and FM 93.5 blasting out mostly locally originated sports-talk content from Bloomington to Lafayette, Emmis will use FM 107.5 to air ESPN Radio’s national content. That helps Emmis meet its contract with ESPN, Morgan said, adding that the national shows also have a solid niche audience.
“We think there’s value in associating our brand with ESPN—the world-wide leader is sports,” Morgan said.
The only non-local show that will air on AM 1070 and FM 93.5 will be ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the mornings. During the morning drive, FM 107.5 will air The Erik Kuselias Show, an NBC Sports product.
Emmis AM 1070 and 93.5 FM will be branded The Fan, while 107.5 will be branded 107.5 ESPN: Indy’s Sportscenter.
Simulcasting The Fan on 93.5 FM, Morgan said, will make it easier for listeners to find its local content and expand the audience for those shows.
“When we started simulcasting The Fan on 107.5 we could tell a lot of our listeners were trying to find more of our local programming on AM,” Morgan said. “We wanted to go where our listeners were, and some of them simply never tune into AM. So we wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to find us. Having that [local sports-talk] programming where people are matters.”
In September, AM 1070 ranked No. 15 in the market among all listeners and 107.5 was No. 16, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research. WNDE in September ranked No. 17 and WXNT was No. 22, according to Nielsen.
If the September audiences of the two Emmis sports-talk station were combined, it would have ranked No. 12 among all listeners, according to Nielsen. In the much sought after male demographic, Emmis’ sports talk stations do even better.
According to Nielsen, combined ratings for AM 1070 and FM 107.5 for the male 25 to 54 demographic grew from a 3.6 share in September, 2013—11th in the market—to 9.2 share this September—which is No. 1 in the market, according to Nielsen.
Advertisers—especially those seeking a male audience—have responded positively to recent moves to grow The Fan franchise, Emmis officials said.
“Advertisers follow ratings and our results have been outstanding,” Morgan said. “Over the past two years, The Fan has become a top 10 revenue [radio] station in the marketplace—consistently.”
Mike & Mike hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic will be in town to help launch the new Emmis station, appearing at the company’s Monument Circle headquarters from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Greenberg and Golic also will be in town to do some shows ahead of the Colts-Patriots game on Sunday night.