ESPN 1000 set to launch FM simulcast on new HD2 channel

ESPN Chicago

WMVP 1000-AM, the ESPN sports/talk station and radio home of Chicago White Sox baseball, is set to launch its first FM digital transmission with a full-time simulcast on an HD2 channel.

Good Karma Brands, which operates ESPN 1000, has signed a local marketing agreement with Hubbard Radio to broadcast 24/7 on 100.3 HD2, a previously dormant HD2 channel associated with adult contemporary WSHE 100.3-FM.

It’s expected to be operational in time for tonight’s White Sox game against the Houston Astros.

Mike Thomas

“Our partnership with Hubbard Chicago will allow fans to hear our ESPN 1000 shows and White Sox baseball in crystal clear, digital FM,” said Mike Thomas, ESPN Chicago market manager.

Once it’s on, Thomas said, “you can listen to ‘Chicago’s Home for Sports’ on ESPN 1000, 100.3 HD2 and on your phone from anywhere on the ESPN Chicago app.”

The expansion comes as ESPN 1000 is seeing an uptick in the ratings attributed to its White Sox broadcasts. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, the station tied for eighth place in evenings among men between 25 and 54.

Since HD Radio started in 2002, the technology has been picked up by 46 stations in Chicago, broadcasting on 81 separate HD Radio channels. More than 25 percent of cars in the Chicago area are equipped with HD Radio receivers — including as standard equipment on more than 50 percent of all new cars.

Jeff England, vice president and market manager of Hubbard Radio Chicago, said in a statement: “We are pleased to partner with Mike and his team at ESPN 1000 to provide Chicagoans another option to hear the best sports talk and the first-place White Sox.”

ESPN 1000’s main rival, Audacy sports/talk WSCR 670-AM, also airs on 104.3 HD2, which is connected to classic hip hop WBMX 104.3-FM.

A full-time sports/talk station exclusively on FM lasted less than a year before Tribune Broadcasting pulled the plug on The Game 87.7 in 2014.

Thursday’s comments of the day: Stephen Verhaeren: Why doesn’t Phil Ponce just retire now and get it over with?

Phil Ponce: Hi Stephen, good question. The station asked me to continue in this new capacity. I am happy to do it for an employer who has been so good to me. Thanks for asking! Phil