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97.9 ESPN Strikes 10-Year Deal with UConn

Jason Barrett

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The University of Connecticut will spend the next decade working with a brand new radio partner. After WTIC in Hartford parted ways with the school following a 26-year run together, IMG announced a transformative 10-year, multimillion-dollar partnership with iHeartMedia and 97.9 ESPN, Hartford’s Sport Station, to serve as the new home of the UConn Huskies.

WTIC will continue airing UConn games which were part of the 2017-2018 schedule. Once the 2018-2019 season begins, 97.9 ESPN will permanently take over broadcasting regular season and post-season play-by-play for UConn football, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s hockey . iHeartMedia also plans to air select UConn Olympic sports contests.

“Our new relationship with iHeartMedia and 97.9 ESPN provides UConn Athletics with a powerful reach and the prospect of building an extensive affiliate network throughout the state and the Northeast,” director of athletics David Benedict said. “Our new partnership with a dedicated sports platform hosted by the most powerful sports and media company in the country, will offer fans and listeners more opportunities to interact with our teams and coaches.”

“This partnership joins three iconic brands,” said Steve Honeycomb, Region President for iHeartMedia. “Having UConn sports on iHeartMedia’s 97.9 ESPN has been our long-term goal. This is the perfect partnership and offers even more entertaining programming for UConn Nation.”

The new partnership between the UConn-IMG Radio Network and 97.9 ESPN also includes pre- and post-game shows and the UConn Women’s Basketball Coach’s Radio Show with Geno Auriemma, the UConn Men’s Basketball Coach’s Radio Show with Kevin Ollie, UConn Football Coach’s Radio Show with Randy Edsall, and the UConn Hockey Coach’s Radio Show with Michael Cavanaugh.

“We couldn’t be happier about teaming up with the University of Connecticut Athletics and finally having UConn sports on our station,” said Ben Darnell, Program Director for 97.9 ESPN.

The on-air talent for UConn Athletics have yet to be determined. Future announcements are expected.

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Sports Radio News

Dan Dakich: Craig Carton is ‘The Way Talk Radio Should Be’

“If you’re being critical because you want to be the guy that’s always critical I don’t think you can do that either. I think you gotta be honest. And criticism comes with it.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Craig Carton has prided himself on being one of those hosts who tells it like it is, especially when talking about New York’s pro sports teams.

That willingness to call a spade a spade and levy criticism on teams like the Jets and Giants, especially when things are not going well on the field, is something Dan Dakich has always seen as a recipe for success in the industry.

Interviewing Carton on Thursday on his Outkick show Don’t @ Me, Dakich praised the WFAN afternoon host for essentially creating a blueprint for how sports talk should be done.

“In Indianapolis I’m the bad guy right, because I say look the Colts stink, this regime is 46-49-1 – why are you telling me the GM is the best in the country – why are you telling me Frank Reich can really coach?” Dakich said. “New York’s different, though, right? I mean, New York they expect you to say look if you ain’t any good then you ain’t any good. Yu don’t sugarcoat nothing, and I think that’s the way talk radio should be.”

Carton noted that what’s key in how you critique a team or a front office, executive or owner is finding a balance. He said you can’t as a host be the ultimate homer and blow smoke up everyone’s behind.

“You have to be able to be critical when it’s warranted,” Carton said. “If you’re being critical because you want to be the guy that’s always critical I don’t think you can do that either. I think you gotta be honest. And criticism comes with it.”

Carton pointed out that the fan bases in both New York and in Indianapolis are ultimately the same, because at the end of the day it’s all about making sure you have competent people calling the right shots. He added that the organizations are the same too because of how sensitive they can be to criticism, which he said if they don’t like it, “too bad.”

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Sports Radio News

Nick Ashooh Joins BetMGM Tonight

Jordan Bondurant

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The talent lineup for the BetQL show BetMGM Tonight is expanding, and Nick Ashooh is joining the team.

The news became official on Thursday when BetQL announced the addition of Ashooh on Twitter.

Ashooh has worked mainly in the D.C. market up to this point in his career, hosting for Audacy and NBC Sports Washington. He had been contributing sports betting content for the BetQL network for the latter part of the last year.

Ashooh joins co-hosts Trysta Krick and Ryan Horvat on BetMGM Tonight. The show can be heard weeknights from 7-11 p.m.

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Sports Radio News

1010XL Jay Fund Radiothon Raises Nearly $250,000 For Pediatric Cancer Research

“In the 15 year history of the radiothon, the station has raised just under $1.5 billion for the Jay Fund.”

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Jacksonville’s 1010XL used its airwaves to raise money for the Jay Fund for the fifteenth year earlier this week. The radiothon was a smashing success, raising $249,784 to fight pediatric cancer.

This year’s total is a new record for the event. In the 15 year history of the radiothon, the station has raised just under $1.6 million for the Jay Fund.

“I’m truly amazed at the generosity of the 1010 XL listeners in times when a carton of eggs cost six dollars,” said General Manager Steven Griffin, “and equally amazed how the hosts, producers, radio staff and volunteers come together with a singular focus to year-after-year produce these results in one broadcast day.”

Former Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin started the Jay Fund in memory of  Jay McGillis, who developed leukemia while playing for Coughlin at Boston College. The organization has helped over 5,000 families and given away over $16 million in grants in Northeast Florida and the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area.

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