ESPN 1000 celebrates 20 years of ‘compelling, entertaining sports talk’

Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman

If you happen to be awake before dawn Friday, you might want to head over to Austin’s, the popular saloon and eatery in Libertyville.

That’s the best way to ensure a front-row seat for the free, all-day 20th anniversary celebration and remote broadcast of ESPN Radio sports/talk WMVP 1000-AM.

Starting at 5 a.m., the nationally syndicated morning show of Mike Golic and Trey Wingo will air live from the site, followed by David Kaplan’s “Kap & Co.” at 9 a.m., Carmen DeFalco and John “Jurko” Jurkovic at noon, and Tom Waddle and Marc “Silvy” Silverman at 2 p.m.

Special guests will appear throughout the day, including a call-in reunion of “Mac, Jurko and Harry” — Dan McNeil, Jurkovic and Harry Teinowitz — and other notables from the past two decades of ESPN Radio’s flagship station.

Adam Delevitt

“As Chicago’s sports talk leader, we pride ourselves on the most engaging, compelling and entertaining sports talk out there,” said Adam Delevitt, who rose from show producer to program director during his 20 years at ESPN 1000. He’s now in his eighth year at the programming helm of the station.

Delevitt along with Golic, Silverman and DeFalco were among the station’s earliest hires when Walt Disney Co. launched ESPN 1000 on October 12, 1998. The frequency’s roots as a sports station go back to 1993 when former owner Evergreen Media changed the call letters from WLUP AM to WMVP (for “Most Valuable Player”) and switched to all-sports.

“You won’t find another lineup that uses former pro athletes as show hosts,” said Delevitt, citing Waddle, Golic, Jurkovic and Eddie Olczyk as “not only experts on professional sports, but also the most entertaining former athletes you’ll find.” Their daily insights, as well as those of veteran Chicago broadcasters Kaplan, Silverman and DeFalco, “make it easy for our listeners to keep coming back every day,” he added.

ESPN Chicago

Notwithstanding the hoopla of the 20-year “Fanniversary” and the continued strength of “Waddle & Silvy” in afternoons, these are challenging times for the station. The latest Nielsen Audio survey shows ESPN 1000 tied for 25th place with a 1.2 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 380,800. Its main rival, Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM, ranks sixth with a 4.3 share and 1,070,800 weekly cume. Now in its 27th year, The Score broadcasts Chicago Cubs baseball and Chicago Bulls basketball.

“I never make a practice of overreacting to Nielsen ratings, good or bad,” said Jim Pastor, vice president and general manager of ESPN Chicago. “The only certainty is that wherever we’re currently ranked, we know it’ll change because it always does. Unlike our competitors, we don’t rely on play-by-play to inflate our numbers. No need to when you’ve got the best sports talk show in Chicago in ‘Waddle & Silvy.’

“Most importantly, we know where we stand with Chicago sports fans and our partners.  The relationship we have with them can be heard and felt on our air every day,” he said.

Monday’s comment of the day: Richard Heffernan: Sandy the Tramp — the only mime I ever enjoyed in my entire life.