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Nashville Sports Radio Market to Get 3rd FM Station as WNSR Adds Signal at 95.9

Will longtime AM station WNSR's move into FM better equip them for battle against 104.5 The Zone and 102.5 The Game?


Nashville's sports radio market may become even more competitive this year as WNSR announced this morning that they are adding a new FM radio signal at 95.9, which could provide a significant boost to their visibility within the local market. The new channel will nestle right between two of the more popular music stations in Nashville, WSM and WCJK, and could answer a major complaint many listeners have had of WNSR over the years, that of poor audio quality relative its FM rivals, 104.5 The Zone and 102.5 The Game (broadcast partner of the Nashville Predators).

The battle for Nashville's sports radio audience has grown increasingly intense since the Cromwell Group set up 102.5 as a competitor for 104.5 on the FM dial in 2011. After launching with an all-sports format, back on January 1st of this year 102.5 added The Dave Ramsey Show to its afternoon lineup, but that hasn't provided much of a boost to The Game's overall numbers, which trail market-leader 104.5 The Zone by a long way:

Month WGFX 104.5 WPRT 102.5
2012/08 4.4 0.8
2012/09 6.0 1.0
2012/10 6.8 1.5
2012/11 6.5 1.3
2012/12 6.0 1.3
2013/01 4.7 1.5
2013/02 4.7 1.2
2013/03 4.9 0.9

Source (WNSR data not available)

Signal strength can play a significant role in these kinds of ratings battles, as listeners can pick up the Zone at 104.5 throughout the greater Nashville area, while The Game fades out as you head east or southeast of the city. Recently, The Game partnered with stations in outlying cities like Murfreesboro (97.5) where local stations provide dual coverage, but that's far from an ideal situation.

What makes WNSR's move into the FM space interesting is that they don't have the broadcast partnerships with teams like the Preds, the Tennessee Titans or the University of Tennessee Volunteers that immediately bring a sizable audience with them. WNSR will have its work cut out for it to woo listeners from the competition, and perhaps that "independent" stance might allow them to position themselves as being different from the rest of the pack.

The following press release came out this morning from WNSR:

Nashville's original Sports Station, WNSR, will begin broadcasting on 95.9 FM early this summer. The station will continue to broadcast on 560 AM as well and will position itself as "Nashville's SportsRadio 560 on 95.9 FM". The new FM signal will be located near the Davidson/Williamson County line, providing excellent 24 hour coverage of WNSR's programming.

NSR's daytime programming features the nationally syndicated "Steve Czaban Show" in the morning, and "The Jim Rome Show" in the Mid Day, as well as local talk shows "The Upper Deck with Matt Segal and Joe Anthony" and "The Thom Abraham Show" in the afternoon drive. Play by Play properties include the Atlanta Braves and Memphis Grizzlies, along with Vanderbilt Baseball and Woman's Basketball. The school will also broadcast Lipscomb Academy Football this fall, with Thom Abraham, Al Smith and Joe Anthony behind the mics.

"Before the Predators and Titans, WNSR brought sports programming to the airwaves in Nashville", said GSM and afternoon host Thom Abraham. "This station has stayed true to the format for over 15 years and we are now excited to make it available on the FM band", said Abraham. "The new logo puts the emphasis on WNSR, which has stood for Nashville's Sports Radio since 1997, something we are very proud of, and something I have come to appreciate since coming here in 4 years ago."

GM and co-founder Ted Johnson added, "We recently moved into new offices and built a new studio and this move shows the commitment of our ownership group to provide the best product we can for our listeners and advertisers. Along with our digital platforms, WNSR is now available just about every way imaginable. We believe in the AM band, yet recognize the benefits of FM as well." Construction of the new signal is schedule to be complete by early July.