Feder flashback: The day Chicago woke up to The Score

Tom Shaer at The Score

Tom Shaer at The Score

Twenty-five years ago today, Chicago awoke to The Score — a new kind of radio station airing hosts, guests and callers talking about nothing but sports.

WSCR debuted on 820 AM, a daytime-only frequency that had been acquired two years earlier for $650,000 by Diamond Broadcasting, parent company of album rock WXRT FM 93.1. Seth Mason doubled as general manager of both stations.

“It was so innocent back then,” veteran sportscaster Tom Shaer, The Score’s original morning host, recalled the other day. “There were very few all-sports radio stations in the country. Seth told me: ‘We don’t have to hit a homerun; we’re just looking to hit a clean single and combine the audience with WXRT for a strong combo entity.’ In less than a year, it was clear The Score would be just fine as a standalone.”

In 1995 Diamond Broadcasting sold The Score and WXRT to Westinghouse Broadcasting for $77 million. The new owners moved The Score to 1160 AM in 1997 and then to its current frequency at 670 AM in 2000. Now under CBS Radio ownership, the station delivered its highest ratings ever in 2016 as home of Chicago Cubs baseball broadcasts.

Shaer, who spent six years at The Score, still lives in Chicago and works as a communications and media specialist. Mason, who rose to executive vice president of Diamond Broadcasting, now coaches soccer at Dominican University. Ron Gleason, the station’s first director of sports and programming, is still with CBS Radio as director of news and programming at WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9.

Here is my Sun-Times column of January 2, 1992. (Posted with permission.)

‘The Score’ debuts with Shaer ‘energy’

Local radio history will be made at exactly 7:15 a.m. today when WSCR-AM (820) hits the air with Chicago’s first all-sports talk format.

Tom Shaer (1992 photo)

Tom Shaer (1992 photo)

Lead-off man at “The Score” is morning host Tom Shaer, a nine-year veteran of the city’s sports broadcasting scene. Tom Webb serves as morning news anchor, and Beth Kaye delivers traffic reports.

“There’s a big rush of energy and anticipation — and also just the slightest bit of fear because it’s the unknown,” Shaer said. “But I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun. The show will be a mix of sports information and entertainment, as well as a mix of guests and call-ins.”

His opening-day guests are expected to include sportscaster Jack Brickhouse, newly retired Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Ray Sons, Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka and Bears safety Mark Carrier.

Shaer’s show from 7:15 to 10 a.m. will be followed by Dan Jiggetts and Mike North from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Dan McNeil with Sun-Timesmen Terry Boers and Brian Hanley from 2 to 5:45 p.m. When daily hours for the sunrise-to-sunset station increase later in the year, Mike Murphy will follow McNeil & Co. through early evening.

“We don’t expect anybody to listen to sports 12 hours a day,” Shaer said. “But we think people are interested in hearing more sports than they now get. We’re gonna give it to them. How much more is up to them.”

Ron Gleason (1992)

Ron Gleason (1992)

Shaer, 33, will continue to appear on WMAQ-Channel 5, where he has been a weekend sports anchor since 1988. The native of Springfield, Mass., previously worked as a sports anchor and reporter at WGN-AM (720), WBBM-AM (780) and WFLD-Channel 32.

Ron Gleason, a former WMAQ-AM (670) sports anchor and now director of sports and programming at “The Score,” said: “Our emphasis will be Chicago sports — live and local. We’ll be the mouthpiece for what sports fans are thinking and talking about.”

WSCR is owned by Diamond Broadcasting, the Chicago-based parent company of album rock WXRT-FM (93.1) and ethnic WSBC-AM (1240).