102.9 The Buzz to become Preds flagship station in 2010-11… (Updated)

Zone to Buzz

In a last minute (and late night) development, section303.com has learned that the Nashville Predators and their long-time flagship station 104.5 The Zone will be parting ways in the coming days.

A source has told section303.com that the rock formatted station WBUZ 102.9 The Buzz will become the new flagship station for the team.

The deal between the Predators and WBUZ is a multi-year deal.

It’s no secret that hockey fans in Middle Tennessee have been constantly frustrated with trying to find Predators games if 104.5 The Zone isn’t carrying them due to other broadcast commitments. Last season, Nashville was bounced from its own flagship station over 20 times, leaving fans searching on their radio dials.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the writing was on the wall that things might get worse this season.

The Zone carried Vanderbilt athletics until this summer when Vandy surprisingly brought their product elsewhere without informing the station. WGFX then countered by signing a deal to broadcast University of Tennessee Volunteers athletics. Then, at around the same time, the Citadel family of networks announced that the Tennessee Titans would be coming off of sister station WKDF and being put on 104.5 The Zone, making Predators hockey a distant third in priority.

The Predators hockey club wanted to find a radio station that fans could count on game-in and game-out. 102.9 The Buzz apparently stepped up to the plate.

WBUZ is owned and operated by the Cromwell Radio Group, headquartered in Nashville. Just one more example of a local business group stepping up and taking ownership in the Predators. By contrast, the Citadel Broadcasting Group is located in Las Vegas, Nevada and recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Now the question becomes what will become of the post game show as we now know it? Willy Daunic has done an admirable job hosting the live show but his broadcasting associations lie with 104.5 The Zone. 102.9 The Buzz, being a completely different family of networks, wouldn’t be able to employ his services so there will be changes. Some would suggest Nashville’s radio play-by-play man Tom Callahan host the recap show, but given his duties closing out the broadcasts, there will need to be a co-host to get the party started.

It’ll be very interesting to see who 102.9 The Buzz chooses.

Update: Officially announced today by WBUZ and the Nashville Predators.  Note the last lines of today’s release, as WGFX and the Preds are still friends after all, leaving the door open for Willy to do the Post-Game.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS AND CROMWELL GROUP ANNOUNCE NEW RADIO PARTNERSHIP

-WBUZ 102.9 FM (The Buzz) becomes new radio flagship station-

Nashville, Tenn. (September 22, 2010) – Nashville Predators and the Cromwell Group,

Inc. announced today that WBUZ 102.9 FM (The Buzz) has signed a multi-year deal to serve as the flagship station of the team’s radio network beginning with the 2010–11 season, insuring that all games will be broadcast on the same station.

Cromwell Group, Inc affiliate WYCQ, Inc owns 102.9 WBUZ (BUZZ) and also operates WPRT 102.5 (The Party) and WQZQ 102.1 (The Light). WBUZ will carry select preseason, all regular season and all postseason Predators games each year. This marks the first time since the 2003–04 season that all Predators regular season and playoff contests will be aired on the same station. These games will include a 30-minute pregame show as well as an hour-long postgame show. All postgame shows following home games will originate from Bridgestone Arena’s Patrón Platinum Club and will be open to all ticketed fans in attendance. Tom Callahan returns as the Predators radio-specific play-by-play announcer and will call the action for the club’s 60 radio-only regular season games. Callahan will join the longtime team of Pete Weber and Terry Crisp for the other 22 contests.

“We are very excited to announce The Buzz as our new radio flagship partner,” Nashville Predators Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer Chris Parker said. “WBUZ is Nashville owned and operated, boasts a 100,000-watt broadcast signal and is a top-ranked station in Middle Tennessee with tremendous demographics. Add to this their promotional ability and the fact that our fans can preset 102.9 FM for every game, and this is a fantastic partnership that will benefit our fans.”

“We’ve seen the excitement that the Predators generate for the Nashville community, and as a local business we are proud to be a part of that,” Cromwell Group President Bud Walters said.

“The Predators bring a hard-hitting, action-packed feel to everything they do and that is exactly what the Buzz Nation has come to expect from our station,” BUZZ General Manager Tincy Crouse said. “We know our listeners are Predators fans, and because of this we are excited to be a part of Smashville.”

WBUZ’s first Nashville Predators broadcast will be the preseason game at Bridgestone Arena on Monday September 27 vs. the Atlanta Thrashers. A complete radio broadcast schedule can be found online at nashvillepredators.com or 1029thebuzz.com.

The Predators also announced that a strong partnership remains with sports station 104.5 FM (The Zone).

“We look forward to continuing joint efforts to provide mutually beneficial programming and promotions throughout the season,” Parker said.  “Many ZONE on-air hosts – including George Plaster, Willy Daunic, and Mark Howard – are fans and friends of the Predators, and as such we will continue the strong relationship we have grown over the years.”

17 Comments

  1. AJ in Nashville

    September 20, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    This stinks, plain and simple. Not for the purpose of the Preds finally having a stable base of radio operations, but for the inevitability of Willy Daunic no longer being the voice of the postgame show. I am deeply disappointed in 104.5 for forcing the Predators’ hand in this.

    It just stinks…STINKS.

  2. Bill

    September 20, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I’m with A.J. on this one. I don’t see what the confusion was last yr. We knew if the game wasn’t on 104.5 what station it was gonna be on. It’s not like there were 10 different stations you had to search for. Just hope this doesn’t lessen the already pathetic coverage our Preds already get. I just don’t see this bring a good thing……Hope I’m wrong.

  3. Patten Fuqua

    September 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    How is it a bad thing for a team to have a flagship station?

    Basically, the complaints I’ve read sound like a bunch of people in a bad relationship. “They don’t really pay any attention to us now…but now that we’re gone, they won’t pay any attention to us at all.”

    That’s not how a business relationship is supposed to work. When one side is not delivering on their contract, you don’t keep giving them your business.

    • AJ in Nashville

      September 20, 2010 at 10:43 pm

      Patten, I’ve decided to email you my response because I don’t want to get myself in trouble.

  4. Phil Jett

    September 21, 2010 at 7:37 am

    The Zone has done SOOO much to promote NHL hockey in Nashville, you would think the Preds broadcast would go to them by default. I agree with the other commenters, though, WHO had trouble finding Preds games on the radio? Look at all of the possible places an SEC football game can show up on TV, and you don’t hear complaints about not being able to find those games! Does the Predators management think its fans are so stupid we can’t tune a radio?

    • Patten Fuqua

      September 21, 2010 at 7:45 am

      The Predators would have potentially been bumped from The Zone at least 23 times this season due to conflicts with UT. Due to the issues with 97.1 and Vanderbilt, they probably would not be able to move the games there which means those 23 games would be moved to 560, whose nighttime local signal strength doesn’t even cover the whole of Davidson County.

  5. Brian

    September 21, 2010 at 7:56 am

    I like the idea of the Preds FINALLY getting a radio home of their own in the city they play in. One that you don’t have to hope they’ll be on, unless there’s one of 10 other local teams that might bump them. The Preds don’t HAVE to be on a sports station, there’s plenty of professional teams that are on radio stations that are different formats at other times. Sure, you may not get all the promos for the games on the Zone anymore, but at least you know where they are going to be on the radio at. It irritated me to no end that if there was any other sport going on in Nashville, it got priority over the Preds, then it was a scavenger hunt to find it, by which time you’ve already missed all the good stuff anyway. Plus, I was never REALLY that impressed by Willy (my opinion), and perhaps some new blood will be good for the post game show, might make it even better.

  6. Phil Jett

    September 21, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Brian, good to hear from the other side. However, it’s possible WIlly Daunic might still be involved with the games. On the broadcast, he’s employed by the Predators, not by WGFX. Because of a similar arrangement, Kevin Ingram is still heard as a sideline reporter for Vanderbilt games.

    Of course, The Predators don’t have to be on a sports station, but it helps. It helps promote hockey in this non-traditional hockey market to sports fans. Consider this: Vandy had a big win this past weekend, but fewer Nashville sports fans know that, or know little about it, because The Zone is no longer their flagship. And Joe Fisher’s daily updates are lost on 97.1. Basically, if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it…

    • Patten Fuqua

      September 21, 2010 at 8:56 am

      That’s a good point about Willy/Kevin…I wonder if there are any pre-existing contracts in place here…

      As for 97.1 and 102.9, there’s a huge difference. 97.1 is one of the lowest rated stations in the market, whereas 102.9 is one of the highest (almost 50 percent more listeners than 104.5).

      • Phil Jett

        September 21, 2010 at 9:28 am

        In the last ratings period, radio industry news sources reported that a former salesperson for The Buzz was discovered to be filling out four ratings diaries and that helped The Buzz look better in the ratings last time. Don’t know numbers were looked at in the Predator’s decision, but at least the last ratings period was skewed.

        Full story at http://www.radio-info.com/news/nashvillles-spring-arbitron-book-to-be-re-issued-due-to-4-suspect-diaries

        But you can never go just by ratings alone. First of all, ALL of The Zone’s listeners are sports fans, and it is unknown how many of The Buzz’s listeners are sports fans, so it’s easy who you want to go to to reach the largest number of sports fans. Second, as a self-employed marketer, I deal with a lot of top level professionals and CEOs. Every one of them, men and women, listen to The Zone, and every one of them is too busy to fill out a ratings diary or fool with a ratings survey phone call. So The Zone has a huge, unmeasurable audience of movers and shakers. It will be interesting to see to what level The Buzz would help sell tickets, especially corporate tickets.

      • BR

        September 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm

        over 4x;s the listeners.

    • Jeremy K. Gover

      September 21, 2010 at 9:55 am

      Due to contractual obligations, Willy – or anyone else at The Zone – would not be able to be affiliated with 102.9 The Buzz in any capacity without his contract for WGFX and WBUZ specifically saying so, regardless of whether he’s employed by the Predators. It’s called a “non-compete clause.”

      In radio, on air personalities are under contract to where their names and voices cannot be on any other family of networks within the same market (and, sometimes, within a certain radius). For example, if Lightning 100 needed a morning show host and Willy Daunic needed money (or whatever), he could not be hired there while keeping his afternoon drive show on 104.5 because it’s in the same market. Matter of fact, when radio personalities are hired, there is usually something in their contract that states, upon being fired/released, they cannot work within the same market for a set period of time (usually six months).

      So, in short, no, Willy could not work the post game show for 102.9 The Buzz as his main radio gig is with The Zone.

  7. Cooter

    September 21, 2010 at 9:37 am

    For those saying that The Zone had given the Preds so much off-air coverage on their other shows, I would counter that it wasn’t so much the station as it was Willy Daunic. George Plaster wouldn’t ever bring them up without Willy’s prodding and heaven forbid he try and pronounce their names.

    I like the one station for all the games treatment. It opens up to a more youthful market too as the normal demos of 102.9 skew younger. The jury is out though. If 102.9 steps up and delivers a top-notch pre-game and post-game, then I’m all for it. Also, without having other sports on the station, we can get a standard time for pre-game and post-game. I’d like an hour of each personally. Helps fill in the drive in and drive home.

  8. Phil Jett

    September 21, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Jeremy, you are close in your understanding of a non-compete, but so as not to get to picky over particular issues. I will say Willy could definitely host pre-and post-game shows for the Predators as long as WGFX/Citadel allows it, just as in the same way they allow Kevin Ingram to provide sideline reporting for Vanderbilt football games. Almost all sports radio people have other jobs on the side, especially in markets where there are pro or big college teams and they’re providing reporting for another sports or news service. Usually what’s found in such contracts is that the employees are allowed to do this under “the discretion of” the primary employer.

    One reason they choose to allow Ingram to be a sideline reporter is that when doing so, he is working for CBS College Sports Networks and not for 97.1 or Cumulus Radio. This may be allowed under the terms of the “non-compete.” Or, since he was already a sideline reporter for Vanderbilt games before joining WGFX, he may have that gig specified in his Zone contract.

    Daunic has been the voice of Predators pre- and post-game shows, but he has been doing such as a Predators employee and not a Zone/Citadel employee. The Zone however, has allowed it, either because the games have been broadcast on the Zone, or because the gig is covered in his current contract (it would not have been covered in his original contract, because WWTN/Cumulus still had Predators rights at the time Daunic joined WGFX and Ingram took on the role because he was working at Cumulus then). Now the Zonesters could say, sure Willy, go ahead, or they could say this gives you too much exposure on another station and we won’t allow it. Also, they often let Daunic leave the show early to host the pre-game show because “their guy” could still be heard on their station, but don’t count on them letting him go early to appear on another station.

    To clear up another matter, 104.5 did not provide a pre- and post-game show for Preds games. The Predators provided them to 104.5. This is why I say Daunic was doing this as a Predators employer. It is doubtful that 102.9 would create its own pre- or post-game show, and if they did, it would wrap around the Predators’ pre- and post-game show, so really why would they do that? No need to wonder about The Buzz’s pre- or post-game show, we’re talking about the Predators’ pre- and post- game shows. Because of this, if Daunic isn’t allowed to host the shows, we’ll get someone like Paul McCann (hopefully) or Darren MacFarland rather than the likes of The Buzz’s Dagwood or Zigz (thank goodness).

    One more thing for those of you who are looking forward to the Preds attracting a younger audience with this move — ain’t gonna happen. When young “active rock” fans hear the Predators coming on, The Buzz will go OFF. The Buzz could lose much more than they hope to gain from the move.

  9. Dennis

    September 21, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    quit your whining people and be glad that somebody is going to to cover it plain and simple…

  10. Phil Jett

    September 23, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Confirmed on air at the Zone this afternoon that Willy would still be involved with the broadcasts.

  11. JohnK

    September 28, 2010 at 12:20 am

    A big deal for me. I live in Clarksville and have no trouble getting 104.5. However, 102.9 is very difficult to pick up on my radio unless I keep my hand on the antenna throughout the broudcast.