New York’s 30-year-old WRKS (Kiss FM) will no longer broadcast at 98.7, reports the Wall Street Journal. Owner company Emmis Communications announced Thursday that it will lease the frequency to ESPN, effective Monday, April 30.
WRKS will merge with its WBLS, at 107.5 FM—a long-time rival—consolidating the city’s urban adult contemporary market under one call. The stations have announced they will "Maintain the Kiss FM legacy," by bringing aboard Kiss FM personality Shaila, and night-time DJ Lenny Green. Emmis has sold WRKS’s intellectual property to WBLS parent company YMF Media.
ESPN has for 11 years broadcast at 1050 AM, as the New York Times describes, challenging the better-established WFAN (a 24/7 sports station on the AM 660 frequency, which used to run “Imus in the Morning”). ESPN Radio New York will take over 12:01 a.m. Monday, and in mid-September, its AM slot will become the Spanish-language ESPN Deportes New York. That, said Traug Keller, an ESPN senior vice president, "Is the real gem [of the shuffle] which will better allow us to add a Hispanic element."
The Times speculates that this is a strong sign that ESPN Radio will pursue the rights to carry Yankees games, for which WCBS-AM pays $14 million in a yearly contract. ESPN Radio already carries the New York Knicks, Rangers and Jets games, while WFAN has the Mets, Giants, New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils.