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Three teams switch up radio

Spanish-language Dodgers broadcasts will move to KHJ to avoid soccer game preemptions. KWKW will become flagship station for Angels and Galaxy.

August 22, 2007|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

In the pre-David Beckham era, preempting a Dodgers or Angels radio broadcast for soccer -- even on Spanish-language radio -- would have been unthinkable. But not now, as the landscape of the Southern California sports scene continues to change.

The Dodgers announced Tuesday a three-year deal that will put their games on Spanish-language KHJ 930 beginning next season, thus ending a long relationship with KWKW 1330.

KWKW, in turn, will become the Spanish-language flagship for the Angels and the Galaxy next season, said Jim Kalmenson, president of KWKW.

The Angels confirmed late in the day that a five-year deal had been reached with KWKW . A spokesman for the Galaxy, however, said the David Beckham-led team had not finalized an agreement, although sources said the deal is expected to be for three years.

KWKW, the Los Angeles flagship for ESPN Deportes Radio, also carries the Lakers, whose games occasionally preempted the Dodgers. But preemptions by soccer, especially if the Galaxy were added to the broadcast lineup, was something the Dodgers didn't like.

"That's what got all this started," said Marty Greenspun, the Dodgers' chief operating officer. "We've had Spanish-language broadcasts longer than any other professional sports team, and we thought preempting our games would be unfair to our fans."

While the Dodgers balked, the Angels indicated they would be more accommodating, so KWKW turned to them.

Kalmenson said the Dodgers were made aware of the impending deals with the Angels and Galaxy. The Dodgers thus turned to Liberman Broadcasting, which owns three other Spanish stations in the market and one television station, Channel 62.

KHJ is now primarily a Spanish music station but it is tied for 22nd in the radio ratings for the Los Angeles market and is No. 1 among Spanish-language AM stations. KFWB 980, the Dodgers' current English-language flagship, is among the four stations tied at No. 22.

KWKW, an all-sports station whose inventory also includes Chivas Guadalajara soccer matches and some Chargers games, is ranked 38th in the market. All-sports English-language stations KLAC 570 and KSPN 710 are tied for 32nd.

The Dodgers' Greenspun called the agreement with Liberman "a fully integrated marketing deal" that will include featuring the Dodgers in promotional programming on Liberman's other stations as well as on Channel 62.

Not only will KHJ broadcast every Dodgers game, but Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, Pepe YƱiguez and Fernando Valenzuela will stay as the announcing team. Jarrin, who became the Dodgers' Spanish-language announcer in 1959, a year after the team moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, has mixed feelings.

"I'm excited," he said of the new deal. "It's fantastic. But I was with KWKW for 51 years and a little bit of my heart will always be with KWKW."

Essentially, KWKW opted for the Angels and Galaxy over the Dodgers.

"Ten years ago, this was a one-team town," Kalmenson said, referring to the two major league teams in this market. "But the pendulum has swung.

"And soccer has such great appeal in the Latin community, across all demographic groups."

Kalmenson said another factor contributing to the deal with the Angels was the fact they have more Latin players on their roster than the Dodgers -- including star outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and pitcher Francisco Rodriguez -- and owner Arte Moreno is a fourth-generation Mexican American.

When Angels games are preempted, they will be moved to Inland Empire sister station KWKU 1220.

KWKW began carrying the Dodgers when they moved here in 1958 and retained the Spanish rights until 1972. XEGM 950 had them from 1973 to 1978 and KTNQ 1020 from 1979 to 1986. KWKW regained them then and has had them since.

The Spanish radio deals for the Dodgers and Angels should pave the way for new English radio deals. The Dodgers are still talking with KFWB, the incumbent and the favorite to do a new deal, as well as KLAC and KSPN, according to a source.

The Angels' English-language broadcasts, now carried by ESPN Radio affiliate KSPN, are expected to end up on Moreno's KLAA 830, which is currently the Angels' and Galaxy's Spanish-language station.

Perry Michael Simon, who follows the radio industry for AllAccess.com, an online journal, said he didn't understand why KWKW was willing to cut ties with the Dodgers.

"This is still a Dodgers market," he said.

Times staff writers Greg Johnson and Kevin Baxter contributed to this report.

larry.stewart@latimes.com

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