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Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Sports Business

Sonics radio broadcasts moving from KJR

Seattle Times staff reporter

A 21-year marriage between the Sonics and KJR-AM (950) ended unhappily Tuesday as the team announced it is moving its radio broadcasts after this season to KTTH-AM (770).

KTTH, also known as The Truth, is one of seven Seattle-area stations owned by Entercom. The Sonics had been affiliated with KJR since 1985.

Play-by-play man Kevin Calabro will stay with the team, but his role will change as the Sonics will have separate broadcasts for radio and TV instead of the current simulcasts. A statement released by the team said Calabro will remain as the primary play-by-play voice for games on FSN and those that are radio-only. But the Sonics will hire a new broadcaster to handle the radio portion of games on both TV and radio.

Wally Walker, Sonics President and CEO, said in the statement that the new "partnership offers us a more broadly based marketing platform for our broadcasts and greater opportunities for promotions."

KJR program director Rich Moore said the Sonics were looking in part for a station that did not also broadcast games of other teams. KJR added Washington Huskies football and basketball in 2002.

"We are a sports station first and we are good at what we do, and we are a partner second," Moore said. "At times, they had problems sharing the airways, even in the offseason and even through the dark times, with other people, and I think it became personal to some extent."

Moore said formal negotiations had been ongoing for about 3 months but that communication recently "has not been the best." Moore said KJR did not learn of the change until receiving the same e-mail Tuesday night sent to others in the Seattle media community.

KJR's deal with UW runs out after this season, but the two sides have been in talks for a new deal, and the loss of the Sonics seems to increase chances of a renewal. Athletic director Todd Turner said a new deal could be completed in a few months, saying, "I feel really good" about the negotiations. He said the fact that UW basketball games were often pre-empted by Sonics game was an issue in negotiations.

The statement made no mention of the Storm, which will remain on KJR for at least one more season.

No terms were announced for the Sonics' deal with KTTH, but Moore said the team had been talking with KJR about a four-year deal that would run through the end of its lease with KeyArena.

Apparently, there is no rights fee involved. The statement said the Sonics will produce "the elements of the radio broadcasts" and that they "will continue to own the radio-broadcast rights" and handle the selling of advertisements.

In making the announcement on his show, Mike Gastineau called the news "a blow" to KJR. But Moore said the station, which moved to an all-sports format in 1992, is in a better position "now more than ever" to move on without the Sonics.

In the statement released by the team, Calabro called the move "a tough decision" but said the new deal with KTTH "is favorable from a business standpoint."

KTTH is a 24-hour news and talk station that features the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved and Bill O'Reilly.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company




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