WTEM (980 ) — branded ESPN 980 — is a licensed to and serving the . It is the flagship of a trimulcast with WWXT in and WWXX in , all affiliated with and owned by , LLC.
ESPN 980 is the home of The Mike and Mike Show, the Tony Kornheiser show, the Sports Fix with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro, Inside the Locker Room with Doc Walker, Brian Mitchell and Scott Jackson, and The Drive with Steve Czaban, Chris Cooley and Al Galdi.
WTEM is also the flagship radio station for football. "ESPN 980" airs & and baseball as an affiliate station, as well as the and . ESPN 980 is also the exclusive home of the play-by-play broadcasts for and , and , NCAA Football and BCS bowls.
WTEM's studios are located in with an additional facility based at Redskins Park in . The station's transmitter is located in , operating at 50,000 watts during the day, powering down to 5,000 watts at night. WTEM's trimulcast partners WWXT and WWXX are class "A" stations operating at 92.7Mhz (WWXT) and 94.3Mhz (WWXX).
Prior to July 21, 2008, WTEM was known as SportsTalk 980, used the slogan The Voice of the Fan, and was the DC outlet for . Beforehand, WTEM was the Washington affiliate for ESPN Radio until Red Zebra Broadcasting acquired the rights for its trimulcast, which ended up merging with WTEM.
The station was originally licensed in April 1923 as WRC, whose call letters were a shortened version of the original owner's name, the . The station's original frequency was 469 meters (equal to 640 kc.), and it was shared with another Washington station, WCAP. The time-sharing arrangement between the two stations continued until 1926, when RCA purchased WCAP's share.
When RCA launched the radio networks in November, 1926, WRC was assigned to the . NBC's other radio chain, the , had no affiliate in the national capital city until RCA entered into a lease agreement with in 1933. WRC and WMAL would become during the lease term, which ran for eight years. WRC moved its frequency to 950 AM in 1928, and then shifted to 980 AM in 1941 as a result of the . With WRC as its cornerstone, RCA/NBC later birthed WNBW television (channel 4, now ) and WRC-FM (93.9 Mc., now ); both stations signed-on in 1947.
WRC carried and as the from 1955 to 1972, and carried the radio program on weekends. From 1972 to 1975, WRC broadcast a format (it was one of the 's early radio stops) and was known as the Great 98.
The station switched to NBC News and Information Service programming from 1975 to 1977; and after the demise of NIS, the station aired an all-news format before switching to news-talk in 1979. The talk programming included the first pairing of and who became the original hosts of 's , as well as satirist , psychologist Karen Shanor and former Philadelphia talk-show host Jerry Williams. Jack Donniger hosted an evening sports-talk show.
The AM's former Top 40 format was moved to the FM side and later evolved into a -pop dance music format in the late 1970s as Kiss FM, which evolved to that station's current Urban format.
WRC was purchased by in 1984, and the call sign was changed to WWRC, as NBC retained the rights to the original call sign for WRC-TV. Nevertheless, WWRC remained an affiliate of the NBC Radio Network well into the late 1980s. With the sale, the station changed to a full-service format on September 1, 1984. During the early 1990s, WWRC was the talk show home to current and formerly notable personalities such as , and Joel A. Spivak. It was also one of the brief homes for the last radio show to be hosted by (the other being WRC's former sister station in ).
Two weeks prior to swapping call signs and formats, WWRC dropped its talk radio format for a financial news and talk format, one that would last over to a second dial position move to .
SportsTalk Radio 570 - The Team
Before moving to 980 kHz, WTEM was known as Sports Radio 570 - The Team and on the frequency of 570 kHz, which previously had been used by classical music station . WTEM made its debut at 3:30 p.m. on May 24, 1992, right after the . At the beginning, WTEM emulated the program lineup and even imported the jingles from 's , the first all-sports radio station in the United States.
At the beginning, Paul Harris hosted the morning show between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. columnist took over in late mornings, and announcer/ sportcaster hosted early afternoons. and Rich "The Coach" Gilgallon hosted Kiley and the Coach during afternoon drive, which emulated WFAN's highly successful radio program. and Ira Mellman anchored the night-time hours. WTEM also acquired the radio rights to broadcast the between 1992 and 1994.
However, the ratings of WTEM struggled mightily in the beginning. Harris was quickly replaced by and Bob Berger in late 1992. WTEM introduced on July 19, 1993 to replace Murray and Berger in the 6–10 a.m. morning slot. For cost-cutting reasons, WTEM canceled Kiley and the Coach, and shows hosted by Phil Wood (8 p.m. to midnight) and Rob Weingarten (midnight to 6 a.m.) at the end of 1994. After Kiley and the Coach was canceled, WTEM tried several afternoon-drive shows before it settled on Kornheiser live between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and then replay between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to boost the afternoon drive-time ratings until the show moved to in January 1998. After his contract not renewed by WMAL, and his show, Sports Call, moved to WTEM in late 1995.
When The Tony Kornheiser Show launched in 1992, because Tony needed to focus on writing his "Style" column in the Washington Post weekly, he usually did not host the show on Thursdays. Usually , the Sports Director at WTEM, would guest-host Tony's show on Thursdays. Between November 1995 and December 1996, was named the guest host of The Tony Kornheiser Show on Thursdays until he moved to New York as a sports anchor on . Tony started to host on Thursdays when he was on .
When The Tony Kornheiser Show was on hiatus between November 14, 1997 and January 5, 1998, WTEM filled the 10 a.m.-1 p.m. slot with Kevin Kiley and the 4–7 p.m. slot with comedian Chuck Booms and Scott Linn. Booms joined WTEM as part of a stunt revolving the show Comics on Delivery, where viewers were asked write in and enlist the aid of comedians to help them get through experiences from daily life. Because of on-air wildness and inexperience, Booms was later paired with the experienced Kiley.
When The Tony Kornheiser Show on debuted on January 5, 1998, the show aired between 1–4 p.m. WTEM filled the 10 a.m.–1 p.m. time slot with and Al Koken hosting The Doc and Al Show and the 4–7 p.m. time slot with Kiley and Booms.
On March 9, 1998, WTEM and WWRC swapped dial positions, with WTEM moving to the stronger 980 frequency. After the move, WTEM was branded as SportsTalk 980. The lineups on March 9, 1998 are (6–10 a.m.), The Doc and Al Show (10 a.m.–1 p.m.), on (1–4 p.m.), Kevin Kiley and Chuck Booms (4–7 p.m.) and 's Sports Call (7–10 p.m.).
Because of poor ratings, Kiley and Booms were canceled on November 13, 1998, which happened to be Friday. WTEM moved the highly rated The Tony Kornheiser Show to the 4–7 p.m. slot as a show to replace Kiley and Booms. Kornheiser did not like the idea because he would lose the callers from the WTEM broadcasting area. WTEM moved The Doc and Al Show into the 1–4 p.m. slot and created a new show hosted by Rich Cook and Kris O'Donnell in the 10 a.m.–1 p.m. slot.
When resigned as the head coach of the men's basketball team at , WTEM moved The Doc and Al Show into the 10 a.m.–12 p.m. slot and invited Thompson to host a one-hour show within The Doc and Al Show (10:30-11:30 a.m.) called Timeout with Thompson starting March 3, 1999 before the 1999 began. At the same time, WTEM introduced , assigned it into the 12–3 p.m. slot. Between The Jim Rome Show and The Tony Kornheiser Show, there was a one-hour program called The Playground hosted by WTEM news anchors.
After the 1999 , because of the positive reviews, Thompson was named the host of The John Thompson Show airing 10 a.m.–12 p.m. with Walker and Koken as co-hosts, replacing The Doc and Al Show.
On September 13, 1999, moved The Tony Kornheiser Show to his favorite 10 a.m.–1 p.m. slot to make room for . WTEM accommodated the move by moving The John Thompson Show to 3–5 p.m., reducing The Jim Rome Show to 2 hours and creating a new program called The Sports Reporters hosted by Andy Pollin between 5–7 p.m.
After the new lineup announced, voiced his displeasure on the air, attacked Kornheiser and demanded WTEM to get his third hour back. In The Sports Reporters, began as a news anchor. Later on, Czaban became the co-host with Andy Pollin.
On April 20, 2000, veteran sports talk personality retired. His show, Sports Call, was replaced by in the 7 p.m.-10 p.m. slot.
On April 9, 2001, WTEM became a secondary affiliate, picking up ESPN's (6–9 a.m.) and Fox's The Extravaganza (9–10 a.m.). Both shows replaced , which moved to to boost the station's ratings. Czaban's evening program would also be picked up nationwide by later that year; the show would be moved by the network to morning drive in January 2005, with WTEM followed suit later that year.
On May 23, 2002, WTEM celebrated its tenth anniversary as a sports talk station with a special Sports Reporters show starting at 5 p.m.
From December 2003 until January 2005, , by this point on the 1260 kHz frequency, carried a complementary sports/talk format as "SportsTalk 1260." WWRC carried the majority of Fox Sports Radio's lineup, simulcast WTEM's afternoon programming, and picked up Jim Rome in its entirety, enabling WTEM to become an exclusive ESPN Radio outlet (save for Czaban's syndicated program).
In December 2005, the station's studios were moved from Bethesda, Maryland, to 1801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, to consolidate Clear Channel's Washington operation.
Because of 's preparation for ESPN's , The Tony Kornheiser Show on WTEM ended on April 28, 2006 and Kornheiser eventually left for . Starting on May 1, 2006, The Sports Reporters with Andy Pollin and filled in the 9 a.m.-12 p.m. slot, a new show hosted by and aired between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., and The John Thompson Show was extended through 7 p.m.
In early June 2006, The Brian Mitchell Show changed again. Bram Weinstein left WTEM and was replaced by Kevin Sheehan.
Starting February 12, 2007, The Brian Mitchell Show moved to the 10 a.m.–1 p.m. slot, The John Thompson Show moved to the 1 p.m.–4 p.m. slot and The Sports Reporters with Andy Pollin and filled in the 4 p.m.–7 p.m. slot.
On April 30, 2007, Doc Walker went solo and hosted The Doc Walker Show from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 's Dave Feldman and 's Carol Maloney hosted a new show called Feldman and Maloney between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Brian Mitchell moved to The John Thompson Show as co-host. Regarding going solo, Walker said, "Management came to me and I thought that it was time to do my own show. If you are lucky enough to get a chance to do your own show you would be foolish not to take it. I will miss Al and Coach, but it was a perfect time for me to go out on my own."
On May 26, 2007, Phil Wood returned to WTEM, and hosted a weekly baseball show from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Then, on October 22, 2007, , syndicated by the Content Factory, was back on WTEM in the 11 a.m.–1 p.m. slot as a tape delay show, replacing Feldman and Maloney. Both hosts were dropped following the merger of WTEM with Triple X ESPN Radio.
Red Zebra Broadcasting purchased WTEM, WTNT and WWRC from Clear Channel in a deal announced in 2008.
WWXT and WWXX
From 2001 until November 17, 2005, WBZS-FM 92.7/WBPS-FM 94.3 aired the format under the positioning of "La Nueva Mega" (originally, WBPS aired a separate format, Spanish love songs "Amor"). However, due to strong competition from -owned and -programmed "99.1 El Zol", Mega Communications changed the station to "Mega Clasica", a format consisting of a mixture of Latin Contemporary and Oldies.
Previously, as WMJS and WQRA respectively, these were traditional, full-service FM stations designed to serve their respective small cities of license (WQRA was at the time licensed to ) and surrounding counties. During the 1990s, however, 94.3 garnered listeners across suburban as a "rimshot" signal:
- 1996-97: WINX-FM (; simulcast of 1600 )
- 1997-98: WTOP-FM (; the original FM simulcast partner of 1500 )
- 1998-99: WUPP ("Up Country"; uptempo spiked with , similar to what's heard now on 104.5 )
- 1999-2001: WPLC ("The Pulse"; mostly satellite-delivered )
WBZS-FM, along with sister stations WBPS-FM and -AM 730 in , were sold in 2006 to Red Zebra Broadcasting. On July 17, 2006, the Mega Clasica format ended to make way for the English-language format sports radio format. The three stations became known as WWXT, WWXX and , reflecting the slogan "Triple-X ESPN Radio." The new trimulcast cleared most of ESPN Radio's weekday programming, as well as a local show hosted by former Redskin .
When WTEM merged with Triple X ESPN Radio, the last hour of was eliminated, as well as the entire network show hosted by and (the latter of whom graduated from the in the local area). WXTR temporarily remained in the simulcast until assuming a separate format as the Washington, DC affiliate of on September 1, 2008. WXTR also served as the Spanish-language home of games in 2008 and 2009.
Due to the new contract with ESPN Radio that guaranteed a full clearance for Mike and Mike in the Morning, Steve Czaban's morning show on Fox Sports Radio was dropped. That show, however, continued to be produced from WTEM's studios until Fox Sports Radio canceled the program in December 2009.
On September 8, 2009, returned to WTEM in the 10am-noon slot, dropping Cowherd's show entirely.
Red Zebra flipped WTNT-AM from its conservative talk format to sports/talk and was rebranded as "" on September 20, 2010, as an all-network complement to WTEM. WTNT's new rebrand was a partial throwback to WTEM's former "SportsTalk 980" nickname and logo. The station changed call signs to WSPZ on October 18, 2010, after Red Zebra sold 730-AM to Metro Radio, which picked up WTNT's call letters and previous conservative talk format, broadcasting on the former WXTR-AM. WTNT serves as the originating station for Steve Czaban's new morning show from . This station also runs Mike & Mike in the Morning and acts as a backup station in the case of any play-by-play scheduling conflicts with WTEM.
- President: Rick Carmean
- Kevin Sheehan
- Scott Jackson
- Al Galdi
- Mike and Mike
- Nick Ashooh
- Al Galdi
- Scott Linn
- Craig Hoffman
- Tim Murray
Past local hosts and news reporters
- Rich Ackerman (currently at and )
- (WRC morning disc jockey, now at )
- Bob Berger (currently at )
- John Bisney (WRC)
- (WRC - currently at )
- Camille Bohannan (WRC - currently at AP Radio)
- Chuck Booms
- (WRC - deceased)
- (currently at )
- Rudy Brewington (WRC)
- (WRC - currently at )
- Paul Butler (currently at Salisbury, MD)
- Jerry Coleman (currently at in )
- Rich Cook
- Richard Day (currently at )
- Don Doke (WRC News)
- Jack Donniger (WRC Sports)
- Dave Feldman
- Earl Forcey (currently at )
- Jean Fugett
- Rich Gilgallon (currently at )
- Tina Gulland (WRC federal beat)
- Paul Harris (currently at )
- John Irving (WRC)
- Scott Jackson (currently at in )
- (currently at and in )
- Al Koken
- Marge Kumaki (WRC)
- Mitch Levy (currently at in )
- (WRC booth announcer extraordinaire)
- Carol Maloney
- Ira Mellman
- Dan Miller (currently at in )
- (currently at
- Paul Nanos (currently at FOX Sports Radio 1410 in Hartford, CT)
- Kris O'Donnell (currently at in )
- Donna Penyak (WRC)
- (WRC Sports)
- Willard Scott (WRC "The Joy Boys", top 40 jock in the mid 70's)
- (aka "The Greaseman") (WRC)
- Ed Walker (WRC "The Joy Boys")
- (currently at )
- Mark Weber (later at , currently Brand Manager at McFarlane Toys)
- (currently at )
- Rob Weingarten (currently at in )
- (formerly at in )
- Phil Wood (WRC Sports and WTEM - currently at )
|WTEM||980 (also on )||50,000 day|
|WWXT||92.7||2,850 watts||A||145 meters||43277||WBZS|
|WWXX||94.3||2,000 watts||A||175 meters||16819||WBPS|