Super week for Spanish sports/talk on Chicago radio

While Chicago’s two sports/talk radio stations are enjoying record-high ratings these days, a major new Spanish-language player just entered the game.

Wednesday marks the debut of ESPN Deportes Radio over not one but two Chicago-area outlets. As first reported here, the full-time Spanish sports programming will replace the news/talk format on NextMedia Group’s north suburban Waukegan-based WKRS-AM (1220).  But wait, there’s more: Clear Channel Media and Entertainment also will carry the format on its low-power 97.5 FM.

The 250-watt signal emanating from a translator atop the Aon Center is expected to cover downtown Chicago as well as such largely Hispanic communities as Cicero, Berwyn and Pilsen. It also will be streamed online at

“This expansion is a milestone for the ESPN Deportes brand and yet another step forward in our effort to make ESPN Deportes Radio available to Hispanic sports fans nationwide,” Oscar Ramos, general manager of ESPN Deportes Radio, said in a statement Tuesday. “We are thrilled with our agreement with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to bring our comprehensive programming to Chicago fans while also providing a great platform for advertisers.”

Despite earlier denials by a Clear Channel spokeswoman of plans for a Spanish sports format here, Lance Venta of uncovered Clear Channel’s plans on January 11 when he reported on ESPN Deportes as “a perfect fit signal wise” for the company’s translator, which it shares with EMF Broadcasting.

The move also increases Clear Channel’s Spanish portfolio here, which already features Mega 95.5, the pop music format on WNUA-FM (95.5). Both stations will be overseen by Mega program director Ricardo Otero.

“We are excited to expand our Chicago Hispanic platform with the addition of 97.5 ESPN Deportes,” Earl Jones, president and market manager for Clear Channel Chicago, said in a statement. “Our partnership with ESPN Deportes means we will now be able to offer greater programming diversity to the market’s rapidly increasing Hispanic population.”

With the advent of Arbitron’s Portable People Meter system, sports/talk has never been more popular among men between the ages of 25 and 54 in Chicago: In December, CBS Radio’s WSCR-AM (670) — celebrating its 20th years as the Score — ranked first overall and first in mornings and middays, while ESPN Radio’s WMVP-AM (1000) ranked sixth overall and first in afternoons.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)