In a stunning turn of events, the University of Michigan will have to find a new radio home for their football and basketball games next season as 50,000 watt WJR-AM (760) abruptly announced late yesterday that they would no longer be carrying the games. Even more shocking is the news that The Great Voice of The Great Lakes has signed a new five-year deal to carry the Michigan State Spartans!
This will thrill the Green and White MSU fans and cause great distress to thousands of Maize and Blue Michigan fans at the same time. The deal was put together by, WJR’s president and general manager, Mike Fezzey. Sources say that Michigan State has been lusting after the mega-power WJR for some time. It is also thought that the station was not getting as much “love and respect” from the Wolverines as they felt they deserved. Many feel that can be a sure-fire recipe for defection.
Reports say that upper management at the University of Michigan were surprised at this action and did not see it coming. The trio of broadcasters who cover the U of M Football games; Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter and Steve Courtney, were also stunned by the news.
The staff was reportedly taken by bus to East Lansing unsure of what was going to happen. They were treated to a warm reception at the MSU stadium and an elegant dinner. It appears that the Spartans wanted to express their appreciation for this new association in a first class manner.
Fans will no doubt compare this to when the Tigers and the Red Wings were moved from the powerful WJR to the far lesser signal on sports WXYT-AM (1270). The teams lost all of their fans in Indiana, Ohio and Ontario. The same will be the case now with Michigan fans in these areas. Regardless, WJR will no doubt be perceived as a “turn-coat” by U of M fans. They have been broadcasting Michigan football and basketball since 1976 when the late Bob Ufer segued over from Ann Arbor’s WPAG, now WTKA-AM (1050).
One theory says the games might move to WJR’s new sister station Radio Disney WFDF-AM (910) also with 50,000 watts and arguably now the second best signal in the state. This way the same company would actually have both Michigan and Michigan State games. The other theory is that Infinity Broadcasting group manager Rich Homberg will go after the U of M broadcasts and offer to place the games on BOTH all-news WWJ-AM (950) and hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) which is the exclusive home of the Detroit Lions. Both the AM and FM are 50,000 watt stations and would give Michigan fans excellent coverage, within the metro area.
Stay tuned. This is going to get interesting.
Spartans knock U-M off WJR (Detroit Free Press)
Spartans moving to Wolverines' longtime flagship station starting in 2006-07 (Daily Oakland Press)
MSU in, U-M out on WJR (Detroit News)