Sports fans in the New York City region got some good news on Thursday morning. Soon, ESPN New York will be available to those located well outside the NYC/NJ area.
The ESPN New York website confirmed on Thursday morning that ESPN New York 1050 AM will soon be moving to 98.7 FM. The change officially takes place at 12:01 am this coming Monday (April 30). The same ESPN programming that airs on 98.7 FM starting this Monday will continue to air on 1050 AM until September. According to the ESPN New York story, the 1050 AM station will turn into a 24-hour ESPN Deportes station around September 15.
According to all reports, the new ESPN FM station will keep most of the same ESPN 1050 AM programming. It's also been heavily rumored even before Thursday's announcement that ESPN New York was attempting to obtain radio broadcast rights for either the New York Yankees (CBS) or New York Mets (WFAN). The contracts those two teams have with their stations both expire at the conclusion of the 2012 Major League Baseball season.
This announcement is nothing but good news for New York sports fans for one significant reason: The ESPN 1050 AM radio signal is somewhere between "fair" and "I can't understand a word they're saying." I live across the river from Manhattan, and static frequently prevents me from listening to the station once the sun goes down. The same can't be said for ESPN New York's greatest rival, WFAN 660 AM. WFAN comes in loud and clear at my home 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The WFAN signal is so strong that I am able to listen to the channel whenever I drive across Pennsylvania to see family who live up in Erie County. On a clear night, I can even listen to a Mets game via WFAN when I'm at my parents' house. The ESPN 1050 AM signal is long gone before I arrive to the PA/NJ state border. Friends of mine who live in central and south Jersey have made similar comments to me regarding their inability to listen to ESPN 1050 AM on a regular basis.
New York isn't the first city to make such a move. Back in August 2011, CBS Cleveland turned 92.3 FM into "92.3 The Fan," the city's only FM sports station. Ironically, Adam "The Bull," who was regularly featured on WFAN as of last summer, made the move to Cleveland when 92.3 The Fan was launched.
I lost my favorite New York music radio station last summer, when 101.9 FM WRXP turned into a 24-hour news station. Losing 98.7 FM to ESPN Radio only brings a smile to my face. A friend of mine who posted on Facebook immediately following the announcement said it best: "Finally, I can listen to the Rangers and the Knicks without having to put up with static from Long Island." I must admit, however, that I would be sad if the Mets left WFAN for the new ESPN FM station.
I'd really miss hearing the "Let's Go Mets! F-A-N (duh duh duh)" jingle that currently plays at the end of every half-inning.