101 ESPN has been the St. Louis Rams flagship radio station since the station adopted the sports format in 2009. The Rams are its anchor property and drive conversation on many of its talk shows. The Rams’ presence also leads to a considerable amount of ancillary content, including pregame and postgame programs plus coach Jeff Fisher’s weekly show.
“It’s important to have a big NFL local team,” said John Kijowski, who has run the station since its inception.“There’s an expectation the Rams are on 101 ESPN. That would hurt” if they move.”
“We are truly having a terrific financial year. That will be three in a row. However, we are more financially successful with Rams than without Rams.
“As far as revenue this year, we actually are at par with last year and in fact will end up with more Rams revenue due to the additions of new advertisers.”
Kijowski remains hopeful that the Rams stay in St. Louis. But is realistic, too, and has a plan for next season if the team is gone.
“We will go to a Plan B for Sunday entertainment and content,” Kijowski said. “Which is, we would take on two NFL games on Sunday. We are poised for coverage of the NFL now actually” he said, noting that the station carries Monday and Thursday night games and will carry postseason contests, including the Super Bowl.
If the Rams leave, history says they won’t be gone on the St. Louis airwaves.The football Cardinals moved from St. Louis to Arizona following the 1987 season but their broadcasts remained on locally for years.
KMOX (1120 AM) was on their radio network for the team’s first four seasons in the desert. And their first 42 regular-season games after leaving were televised in St. Louis, primarily on KMOV (Channel 4). KSDK (Channel 5) finally cut the cord late in the 1990 season, when it carried a Chiefs-Raiders game with playoff implications instead of a contest between last-place teams Arizona and New England.
But the “better” game performed poorly in the ratings compared to what the Cards had done, and they were back on St. Louis TV the next week. It wasn’t until late in 1992 — nearly five full seasons after they had fled — that the Cardinals finally were off local television on a regular basis.
Then there was the Warner Factor, when KTVI (Channel 2) showed New York Giants games whenever possible in 2004 because popular former Ram Kurt Warner was their quarterback in his first season since leaving St. Louis. Channel 2 was rewarded with strong ratings.
So would KTVI and WXOS follow suit with the Rams?
“We carried Kurt Warner when he went to the New York Giants, I don’t see why we wouldn’t carry the Los Angeles Rams in St. Louis,” KTVI’s Spencer Koch said. “But a lot of that is taking the temperature of the viewership.”
Kijowski, meanwhile, was playful about the situation but did not rule out becoming a Los Angeles Rams radio affiliate.
“Don’t say that!” he said, laughing at that possibility. “I’m not hearing that. Goodbye.”
To read the full article visit the STL Post Dispatch where this story was originally published