Announced during morning drive, during prime time, the Seattle Sounders and Seattle’s Sports Radio KJR declared their partnership for all to hear. This will be the first time the team is on an all-sports station, having previously being carried by 97.3 KIRO-FM. The shift should help the soccer team reach out to traditional sports fans.
Morning show host Dick Fain discussed the move with Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer, GM Garth Lagerwey, radio voice Matt Johnson and Steve Zakuani.
“It’s a little bit emotional. I was born and raised in Seattle,” said Hanauer. “I’ve been listening to KJR for probably longer than a lot of people in this studio have been alive, back to the Top 40 days. Having spent so much time listening to KJR, whether it was the Sonics or just sports radio along the way. To have this opportunity at a time when our sport is on fire… great things happening around the league. We feel like there’s a lot of wind at our backs. It’s a great time to be in soccer, so we’re absolutely thrilled to be partnering with KJR.”
Sounders and KJR will also have non-game programming to include a weekly show on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. and regular appearances by players and coaches on various shows.
It is an interesting shift for both the station and the team. The station lives and dies based on Seahawks talk and a demographic of sports fans that is as different from the soccer demographic as exists in men’s team sports. A team aiming to consistently fill the entire stadium will need to appeal to those fans at some point. They, too, love Seattle and Puget Sound.
In the past soccer fans have not tuned in to traditional sports talk, even while having players, coaches and knowledgeable guests on the air. Traditional sports fans definitely tuned out during those segments. Will KJR and the Sounders be able to solve that issue? If so, this is a match made in heaven.
iHeartRadio-Seattle also has two other smaller wattage sports stations — 850 KHHO-AM Tacoma and 1090 KFNQ-AM Seattle. They could use these stations if they have conflicts with other live events.
Dick Fain attends a couple games a year with me. I interned for him back in 1999 and we worked together at KJR until 2001.