Station general manager Tom Manoogian, best known to local listeners as Lou From Littleton, sorts out the confusion.
"We launched ESPN Deportes on July 12 at 87.7," says Manoogian about a signal previously used to broadcast the analog audio signal of Rocky Mountain PBS, television's Channel 6. "We did that to find out how strong the signal was in the Denver market. Once we confirmed our initial thoughts, that 87.7 had full market coverage, we decided, 'Let's make 102.3 ESPN Deportes" -- ESPN's Spanish-language radio network -- "and make 87.7 live and local sports. And 105.5 is going to stay Jack FM."
The sports format has been dubbed The Ticket. The station's press release is on view below -- but here's Manoogian with his argument for why the outlet is needed despite pre-existing sports-talk stations like 104.3 FM/The Fan, Mile High Sports Radio/1510 AM and ESPN Radio/1600 AM, not to mention KOA/850 AM, the radio home of the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies and CU Buffs.
"The main reason we did this is because you cannot get local sports on the FM dial until 1 o'clock in the afternoon," he allows. "And we believe that when the Broncos play on a Sunday, when the Nuggets are in the playoffs and play a night game, people want to talk about local sports first thing in the morning. Before tomorrow, you really couldn't do that on the FM dial, and Vic and [co-host and fellow Channel 4 anchor] Gary [Miller] have done a great job when we put the deal together for them at ESPN radio last year."
Regarding the aforementioned competitors, Manoogian says, "KOA is the best as far as play-by-play, but we're really trying to provide local sports coverage all day -- and if you look at ESPN 1600, they don't do live and local until two in the afternoon, with Irv and Joe -- and then it's back to syndicated. And I know that 1510 has changed their lineup," in part because The Ticket has grabbed so many of their stars, including standouts Joel Klatt and Nate Kreckman. "But we feel more people go to the FM dial."
He's also optimistic about the prospect of success for ESPN Deportes, given that there's no full-time Spanish-language sports on the radio dial right now -- and he thinks Jack-FM can find and hold an audience at 105.5. "It's a great music format, with no DJs," he says, "and their antenna is on Buckhorn Mountain up in Timnath. The signal goes all the way from central Denver into Wyoming and Nebraska."
Among the investors in these various stations is ESPN's Adam Schefter. Has he had a role in developing the lineup for The Ticket?
"Adam has been a friend of mine since 1994, and he's investing because we're friends and he believes in me," Manoogian says. "He's one of 22 investors who ponied up $6.5 million. He's one of 22, Doug's one of 22, and I'm one of 22."
The entire group believes in the future of terrestrial radio, he adds. "We believe if you can offer your customer, your listener, something they can't find anywhere else, we can be successful," he says.
Page down to see The Ticket release: