INSIDE RADIO

Good Karma To Acquire ESPN’s AM Sports Stations In NY, LA And Chicago.

By Inside Radio

Good Karma To Acquire ESPN’s AM Sports Stations In NY, LA And Chicago.

Good Karma Brands is buying ESPN’s owned and operated AM sports stations in New York (“ESPN 1050” WEPN-AM), Los Angeles (“ESPN 710” KSPN-AM) and Chicago (“ESPN 1000” WMVP-AM). All three AM stations will remain ESPN Radio affiliates.

The deal also includes Good Karma Brands (GKB) assuming the local marketing agreement for Emmis-owned “98.7 ESPN” WEPN-FM New York.

In addition, the companies have agreed to extend their ESPN Digital sales agreement, which began in 2015, in which GKB represents display and video inventory on ESPN.com and the ESPN app to local and regional advertisers in 14 markets.

WMVP-AM Chicago has been operated by GKB under an LMA since October 2019.

“We are thrilled to add ESPN New York and ESPN Los Angeles to GKB,” Good Karma Brands founder and CEO Craig Karmazin said in the announcement. “These stations and teammates give us an expanded footprint and increased resources to help meet our mission of serving our teammates, fans and advertising partners at a best-in-class level.”

GKB has made sports the cornerstone of its growing broadcast radio platform. The company also operates ESPN affiliate stations in Cleveland, Madison, Milwaukee and West Palm Beach.

The deal, which had been rumored earlier this year, leaves ESPN parent the Walt Disney Co. with just sports KESN-FM Dallas and country KRDC-AM Los Angeles, although it continues to syndicate ESPN radio programming to hundreds of radio stations.

“At ESPN, we are focused on evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of our business, providing the outstanding content that our fans expect, and growing our audience in critical, leading markets,” said Scott McCarthy, VP, ESPN Audio. “We have a strong, 20+ year relationship with Good Karma Brands and know they will further contribute to the success of these great local audio operations.”

In addition to its roster of ESPN-aligned stations, GKB also owns heritage news/talk WTMJ and the Black-focused news/talk “101.7 The Truth” in Milwaukee, along with talk WBEV Beaver Dam.

Craig Karmazin, son of Mel Karmazin who co-founded and ran Infinity Broadcasting, started Good Karma Brands in 1997 with the purchase of three radio stations in Beaver Dam, WI.

Steve Politziner, who serves as President of Good Karma Brands, earlier told Inside Radio that sports radio offers “an environment that’s foreground, primary and participatory… Fans are more likely to be listening attentively, which in turn should ultimately benefit our advertising partners.” The format “cuts across ages, genders, races, religions… it’s such a wonderful common denominator.”

Disney subsidiary New York AM Radio, LLC has been programming “98.7 ESPN” under an LMA with a subsidiary of Emmis since April 2012 for a fee of $8.4 million for the first year of the LMA term with 3.5% annual fee increases. The LMA expires Aug., 31, 2024.