Update: This morning, July 27, AM 760, an iHeartMedia station that experienced a major shakeup just over three months ago with the departure of former wide receiver turned broadcaster Ed McCaffrey, as described in our previous coverage, on view below, has undergone a format flip. The outlet's mix of syndicated programming and local sports coverage has been revamped as Orange & Blue Radio, whose sole focus will be the Denver Broncos.
The approach is described as "all Broncos, all the time" in a press release issued by the team — an indication of just how close the relationship between the station and the franchise will be.
The switch had been teased over the previous day or so by a loop of Broncos highlights, most of them voiced by Dave Logan, who'll also have a role on the station in addition to his afternoon-drive duties alongside Rick Lewis and Kathy Lee on KOA 850, the iHeartMedia flagship signal in Denver. At this writing, the new morning team of Andy Lindahl and former Denver player Tyler Polumbus are on the air live from Broncos training camp, which has just gotten under way. Other Orange & Blue personalities include Andrew Mason and Broncos ring-of-famer Steve Atwater.
These moves represent a significant monetary investment in a station that hasn't set the radio ratings aflame over the years. Indeed, iHeartMedia region president Tim Hager's revelation, as described below, that McCaffrey walked after a contract renegotiation fell apart led to speculation among media-scene observers that major cost-cutting was in AM 760's future.
How objective will Orange & Blue Radio be about the Broncos given their beyond-close association? That remains to be seen — but if unleavened praise or weak apologies are the order of the day even if the squad stinks this year (and USA Today predicts an ultra-mediocre, out-of-the-playoffs 7-9 finish), the experiment may prove to be an expensive failure.
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Nonetheless, more live-and-local radio is definitely a good thing in today's broadcasting environment, and while there hasn't exactly been a shortage of Broncos talk in these parts, iHeartMedia deserves credit for its latest gamble.
Even if we have to wait to see if Orange & Blue Radio manages to score. Continue for our earlier reports.
Update, 5:31 a.m. April 25: Former Denver Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey recently revealed that he was leaving his color-commentary duties during the Broncos' radio broadcasts and his regular talk show on Denver Sports 760 in order to spend more time with his family, including son Christian, who is expected to be a high pick in the NFL draft, which takes place on Thursday, April 27. See our previous coverage below. But according to Tim Hager, Denver region president for iHeartMedia, McCaffrey decided to depart after negotiations to renew his contract with the company reached an impasse.
"We'd been in talks for quite a while," Hager says, noting that McCaffrey's announcement "wasn't a surprise to anyone." He adds that if Christian's impending selection in the draft was a major factor in his departure, "it certainly wasn't articulated. This was just Ed and myself coming to an agreement that it was probably best for us, sooner rather than later, to make the determination that we were going to go a different way."
The McCaffrey split opens up two major iHeartMedia positions, but Hager stresses that he isn't in any rush to fill them. One potential replacement as Broncos game commentator is Fox/KOA-AM personality Rick Lewis, who filled in for McCaffrey during last season's game in Jacksonville so Ed could watch another of his sons, Dylan, play for Valor Christian High School during the state championship game. But while Hager acknowledges that "there isn't a job on the face of the earth I wouldn't consider Rick Lewis for," he's keeping his options open.
"I've got a great pool of candidates, and when I come to the absolute best agreement, I'll make the move," he says. "I'm looking for a partner for iHeartMedia first and foremost — somebody who can bring a unique, valued perspective to the broadcast and at the same time be a great partner for the Broncos Radio Network and iHeartMedia. I certainly believe it's one heck of an opportunity with the breadth of everything iHeartMedia offers, whether it's in the region and the state or all the platforms across the country."
He's less definitive about filling McCaffrey's slot on Denver Sports 760, although he emphasizes that "the plan is to still be a voice of local Denver sports."
The McCaffrey negotiation wasn't the only tricky one for Hager lately. His company recently signed a new five-year deal to broadcast Broncos games and serve as the squad's radio flagship through 2022. Sources tell us that iHeartMedia had significant competition for this pact, as well as one involving broadcasting rights for the Colorado Rockies. When quizzed on the subject, Hager concedes that "any negotiation with an NFL franchise is a difficult negotiation, but I don't believe we were ever truly in danger of losing it. I think we were always on the path of working a deal out to remain partners. It's been 48 years and running."
As for McCaffrey, Hager says, "We just appreciate his five years of service to iHeartMedia. We wish him the absolute best and hope he gets some time to enjoy watching those boys play football."
Continue for our earlier report.
Original post, 5:35 a.m. April 24: Former Denver Broncos great Ed McCaffrey has announced that he is leaving his gig calling Broncos games for KOA/850 AM, as well as his regular Denver Sports 760 talk show, in order to spend more time with his family, a group that includes son Christian McCaffrey, who this Thursday, April 27, will become a high pick in the NFL draft.
Here's how McCaffrey announced the move via Instagram:
All good things must come to an end, I am leaving my radio show on Denver Sports 760 and my color commentary work on Broncos Radio. Thanks to iHeartMedia, KOA, Denver Sports 760 and the Denver Broncos for allowing me to call games for the Orange and Blue with Dave Logan, Andy Lindahl, and the best broadcasting team in the business. Thanks to Alan Jackson, Mike Rice and Erik Hood who did the heavy lifting on game day. Thanks again to Andy and Romi Bean for hanging out with me at recess for three hours a day. I’m going to miss you guys but I’m also looking forward to Football Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, (some Mondays and Thursdays) with Lisa and my boys. To Mr. B, #7, Joe Ellis and Broncos Country, thank you, and Go Broncos!
Thus far, Ed hasn't confirmed that his departure was timed to the impending draft of Christian, a onetime Stanford standout who's seen his draft stock rise in recent weeks. For months, Christian has been touted as the cure for what currently ails the Broncos' offense, but the odds that he'll soon be wearing the same blue-and-orange duds his dad once rocked are getting slimmer and slimmer.
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At first, Christian was thought likely to be chosen late in the first round of the draft, with some prognosticators feeling that the Broncos would be overspending if they used their initial selection (the twentieth overall) on him. But after he blew minds at the NFL Combine, appraisers readjusted their thinking. Plenty of pundits now believe he could go in the top ten, possibly number eight to the Carolina Panthers — and the Broncos probably won't be willing to trade up that far to nab him.
Of late, Ed has devoted much of his Twitter feed to posts touting Christian, including the following video, which has generated some ultra-silly controversy. The clip is meant to accentuate Christian's fast feet, but it appears to have sped up, judging by the speed with which the TV in the background at the upper left flicks through images:
Christian isn't the only McCaffrey son on the sports radar. At this writing, Max McCaffrey is a member of the Green Bay Packers, Dylan McCaffrey is about to start his freshman year at the University of Michigan under the tutelage of the crazy but effective Jim Harbaugh, and Luke is turning heads at Valor Christian High School, where Christian made his bones.