The local sports talk radio game is about to add another player to the mix.
On Oct. 1, Waco’s 94.1 FM (KWBT) will become CBS Sports Radio Central Texas, launching a variety of both local and national sports programming. The station is owned by Edwards Media LLC, which already owns 94.5 FM, “The Beat,” which has an urban contemporary music format, with a mix of hip-hop and R&B.
“We’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a couple of years now,” said Rich Richardson, a 14-year veteran of the Waco radio scene who will serve as the general manager for both stations. “When this opportunity arose, our ownership group jumped on it. … But it’s been a couple or even three years in the making.”
94.1 FM will feature a pair of local sports talk shows in the morning. Richardson will host “Go Big or Go Home” from 6 to 9 a.m., while longtime local broadcaster Lark Smith will host “Order in the Court” from 9 to 11 a.m. National programming on the weekday schedule will include Jim Rome’s show from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney from 2-5 p.m.
“We’ll have a mix of local and national stuff, but we want to have a big local presence across the board,” Richardson said. “We want to be very listener-intensive. We want to hear the listeners’ opinions – that’s part of what will make this fly. … We want to do something that hasn’t been done in quite a while, and change the sports radio scene in the area.”
For more than two decades, the primary sports talk radio source in the Waco area has been ESPN Central Texas, owned by M&M Broadcasters. On 1660 am, ESPN Central Texas airs four local sports talk shows every weekday, in addition to providing play-by-play for area high school events. It’s also the flagship station for Baylor athletics, and serves as the local affiliate for the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and Houston Astros, the latter on Fox Sports 1590 AM, another frequency owned by M&M Broadcasters.
ESPN Central Texas manager David Smoak said that he welcomed a new addition to the local radio landscape.
“No matter where I’ve worked, I’ve welcomed competition, because it can only make us, ESPN Central Texas, better,” Smoak said. “And my staff and I feel very good about we deliver to our audience and radio family each and every day. … We look forward to another sports station in the market, and we wish them the very best.”
Richardson worked at ESPN Central Texas earlier in his career, serving as a senior marketing consultant and providing sideline reporting for Midway’s 2011 state finalist football team.
Richardson said that 94.1 FM has picked up the rights to serve as the local affiliate for the NBA’s Houston Rockets, adding that there “are some other things we’re working on, too.” Edwards Media will also continue to broadcast La Vega High School football games, with Richardson on play-by-play and Jason Orts serving as the color analyst.
In a statement, Edwards Media owner Edward Sanchez mentioned his excitement over adding CBS Sports programming, calling it “a universal format that promises to bring new opportunities to our radio family.”
Richardson said that the station hopes to build in more local programming over time.
“We’re going to try to pick things that we think will work, whether it’s play-by-play or whatever,” he said. “We want to start with these two (local) shows and build our audience, but I’d love to add in a weekend outdoors show, maybe a fitness show, things of that nature. You never know what’ll happen six months down the road.”