The University of New Mexico’s flagship athletic programs – men’s basketball and football – will remain on the Lobos’ longtime flagship station for at least three more years.
On Friday, Pat Frisch, AM operations director for Albuquerque’s Cumulus-owned stations, told theJournal that KKOB (770 AM) has signed a new three-year agreement to keep Learfield Sports Properties as a partner. Learfield, based in Jefferson City, Mo., owns the broadcast rights for UNM men’s and women’s basketball and football games.
“That will keep men’s basketball and football on 770, and women’s basketball on The Sports Animal at 610 AM,” Frisch said. “It’s for the 2015, ’16 and ’17-18 school years.
“We started the negotiations in February. Learfield owns some pretty big teams, so they want radio stations with a lot of wattage. We have 50,000 watts, which is something they really like.”
Frisch has been with the station for 17 years, but said the Lobo football and basketball games have been aired on KKOB “for about 50 years.”
Learfield negotiates with UNM for the Lobo product, then with radio stations to sell the broadcasts. Frisch said Learfield also hires the broadcasters, but he said he assumes the broadcast teams will remain the same this year.
Robert Portnoy does play-by-play for both men’s basketball and football. Hunter Greene was the analyst for basketball and DonTrell Moore for football last year.
“Clearly, there’s a long history with KKOB broadcasting Lobo games,” said UNM athletic director Paul Krebs. “While we’re not involved directly in the negotiation process, I’m very happy to continue to be on 770. It’s a good relationship, and one I hope continues.”
Frisch said part of the appeal for Learfield is having a station that reaches so many areas that directly helps Lobo sports.
“We have the strongest station in (the) Southwest at night, when most games are played, and 770 covers 17 states,” Frisch said. “The biggest sports thing in town is New Mexico Lobo sports. It’s the greatest thing you can have in this market when it comes to sports. And it helps UNM as a recruiting tool, because we reach so many states.”
“I think that’s a very fair statement,” Krebs said. “They have such a large coverage area. And anytime you can get your brand and message out to a large population base, it’s a good thing.”
Joe O’Neill, president of KQTM-FM (101.7 The Team), said he was surprised Learfield didn’t reach out to his station, which is a 24-hour ESPN sports affiliate. The Team has broadcast Lobo baseball the past seven seasons and plans to again next season.
“As New Mexico’s highest-rated sports station, it makes sense that we would be a viable option,” O’Neill said. “But KKOB’s strength of signal and having familiarity (for fans) are factors. However, with the advent of streaming applications and the incredibly high use of smartphones, that strength of signal has never been less important. Quite frankly, we feel Lobos sports – and Lobo fans – would benefit from being on a dedicated sports station, especially one on FM. We’re a 24-hour sports station, and KKOB is a 24-hour news/talk station. It would seem to make sense that a sports listener would be more likely to buy tickets and support the teams.”