The University of Minnesota and Learfield Sports announced an extensive partnership with IHeart Media on Tuesday. The new partnership means that Gopher Basketball, Gopher Women’s Basketball and Gopher Hockey will be leaving 1500 ESPN and moving to networks owned by IHeart media. In the Twin Cities, this means the flagship station for Gopher Hockey will now be News Talk 1130 AM, with an FM simulcast on 103.5 FM. Gopher Basketball will be split with a majority of the non-conference games on 1130 AM/103.5 FM and between 12-20 games in the Big Ten portion of the schedule airing on KFAN 100.3 FM when there are not conflicts with the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Wild schedules. Gopher Women’s Basketball will now be exclusively aired on 93.3 FM. Additionally, Gopher Football extended its rights agreement with KFAN 100.3 FM through the 2020-21 academic year.
“iHeart Media has been a great partner to Gopher football for many years now. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to expand that relationship to our men’s hockey, as well as our men’s and women’s basketball teams moving forward,” said Gopher Sports Properties’ General Manager Greg Gerlach. “Gopher Athletics is in outstanding hands due to the leadership of Mark Coyle and many excellent coaches. We look forward to a bright future with these sports, and our fans can enjoy our live radio broadcasts and other programming going forward led by the voice of Mike Grimm and our talented broadcasting teams.”
The Gophers coach’s shows will also be switching stations. The PJ Fleck show will air on KFAN, as will the Richard Pitino show. The Don Lucia show will air on 1130 AM, and the Marlene Stollings show will air on 93.3 FM.
There are definite benefits and drawbacks for Gopher fans living around the Twin Cities. While both 1130 AM and 1500 AM have strong signals in the immediate metro area, the nighttime signal for 1500 is significantly stronger than 1130. See the coverage maps for all three stations below:
So for you Gopher Hockey and to a lesser extend Gopher basketball fans in the far western and southern exurbs....sucks to be you.
However, the one major upgrade is the streaming capability of the IHeart Media Group. All Gopher Football, Basketball and Hockey events will be streamed on the IHeart Media App. Having listened to Gopher football broadcasts via the app before, it is great quality and the lag is not too significant. While 1500 AM streamed Gopher basketball and hockey games, the quality of the stream was not nearly as good.
It is still unknown what will occur when there are scheduling conflicts between Gopher Basketball and Gopher Hockey.
One slight concern Gopher fans may have is the future of IHeart however. The company has not done well financially, and it would would be interesting to see what would happen if the company has to sell off stations...but that would seem to be a ways away.
It will be interesting to see the future of AM1500’s sports coverage as the only play-by-play rights they now have are simulcast rights to Minnesota United. Not great for a sports station.
The Gopher hockey team will kick off their new affiliation when they play at UMD in the Ice Breaker Classic in Duluth on October 6th.