By Adam R Jacobson
LOS ANGELES — The return of the National Football League to Southern California will now be further enjoyed by fans who prefer to consume their play-by-play coverage en español via their AM radios.
The L.A. Rams, who are returning to Los Angeles with the 2016-17 season after moving to St. Louis after the 1994-95 season, this afternoon announced that it has reached an exclusive rights agreement with Lotus Broadcasting’s KWKW-AM 1330 — the ESPN Deportes Radio affiliate serving Southern California.
The pact makes ESPN Deportes Radio 1330 the team’s official Spanish-language flagship station.
All preseason, regular season, and postseason games will air on the station.
“We are pleased to partner with KWKW to bring Rams football to our Hispanic fans across California and beyond,” said Los Angeles Rams COO Kevin Demoff. “Through high-quality production and exclusive programming, KWKW will help make our games accessible to all Rams fans for our exciting return back home to Los Angeles.”
The Rams Spanish game-day broadcasts will feature six hours of programming, including a two-hour pregame show, play-by-play commentary and analysis, and a one-hour post-game show. In addition, ESPN Deportes 1330 will air a variety of ancillary Rams content, including regularly scheduled “Rams Reports” and “Lets Talk Rams” call-in talk segments specifically tailored for fans that prefer to consume Spanish-language media.
Lotus’ Jim Kalmenson, who oversees KWKW and the station’s partnership with ESPN Deportes Radio, called the selection of his station as the Rams’ Hispanic flagship “monumental.” He said, “Our Rams broadcast promises to be a huge attraction to both our listening audience as well as our sponsors. We are excited by the Rams’ genuine commitment to be involved with, and to serve, the Hispanic community.”
KWKW will produce and distribute broadcasts across what is being billed as the Rams Spanish Radio Network. Two Lazer Broadcasting stations – KOXR-AM 910 “La Mexicana” in Oxnard-Ventura and KCAL-AM 1410 “La Mexicana” in Riverside-San Bernardino, join Lotus’ Spanish Contemporary Pop KMJE-FM “Vive 92.1” in Sacramento and the broadcaster’s ESPN Deportes Radio affiliates KWAC-AM 1490 in Bakersfield, KGST-AM 1600 in Fresno and KENO-AM 1460 in Las Vegas in airing all Rams-related programming.
In addition to KWKW’s main signal, Rams programming will air on ESPN Deportes Radio simulcast partner KTMZ-AM 1220 in Pomona, serving the San Gabriel Valley east of downtown L.A.
The coverage area is intriguing, as the San Joaquin Valley and the greater Sacramento area is unabashedly full of Oakland Raiders fans, in addition to fans of the San Francisco 49ers. However, the NFL tends to allow radio coverage of nearby teams from opposing conferences without opposition. For instance, WMEN-AM 640 in West Palm Beach airs Tampa Bay Buccaneers games even though it covers much of the Miami Dolphins’ home market as the Buccaneers are in the NFC and the Dolphins are in the AFC. The 49ers do not have NFC exclusive rights in these California markets.
In expressing his excitement to be part of the Rams Radio Network, Radio Lazer owner Alfredo Plascencia said, “Hispanics love professional football, and we are very excited to bring one of the most dynamic sports franchises in history to our listeners in Oxnard and Riverside-San Bernardino.”
As has been shown in recent studies on the U.S. Hispanic sports fan, the NFL ranks as the most popular sport among all Hispanics. However, when viewed by language of preference, the NFL has lagged among Latinos who prefer to communicate in Spanish.
Kalmenson and the ESPN Deportes Radio 1330 team now have the opportunity to make an impact, while strengthening its presence as the radio leader for Hispanic sports fans in the region. In addition to the Rams, KWKW will continue to serve as the flagship station for the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, L.A. Galaxy, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In the event of conflicts, KTMZ serves as the alternate over-the-air broadcast home.