CBS stations extend contract as Bears’ radio flagship
CBS Radio all-news WBBM-AM (780) and WCFS-FM (105.9) will continue to be the radio home of Chicago Bears football broadcasts under a new multiyear deal announced Wednesday.
Since WBBM recaptured the broadcast rights in 2000 after three years on the former WMAQ and before that on Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM (720), the Bears have provided a significant ratings and revenue advantage for the station.
“WBBM Newsradio has been the ‘Voice of the Bears’ for the last 13 seasons and we look forward with great excitement to the years ahead,” Rod Zimmerman, senior vice president and market manager of CBS Radio Chicago, said in a statement. “The Chicago Bears have long had one of the largest fan bases anywhere in sports, and this partnership offers not only the fans many benefits, but our advertisers who support the broadcasts as well.”
Sports director Jeff Joniak will continue as play-by-play announcer, with Tom Thayer, the 1985 Super Bowl Bears guard, as color commentator.
Financial terms and duration of the deal were not disclosed, but the new agreement includes a substantial presence for the Bears across all seven of CBS Radio’s Chicago stations. The Bears also will have the option to launch a “team radio station” on WCFS’s HD3 channel.
In addition to the pre-season, regular-season and extensive pre- and post-game broadcasts on Newsradio 780 and 105.9, the contract calls for a Bears player or coach to appear every Monday during football season on sports/talk WSCR-AM (670), Top 40 WBBM-FM (96.3), adult rock WXRT-FM (93.1), country WUSN-FM (99.5) and classic hits WJMK-FM (104.3).
Specifically on the Score, Bears programming will be expanded, including the extension of Bears All-Access to a year-round weekly one-hour show. Starting next year, Bears vignettes of three to four minutes will air Saturday nights on the Score and Sunday mornings on Newsradio 780 and 105.9.
“We are happy to continue our outstanding partnership with WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9 FM and excited to create new opportunities with the other stations in the CBS Radio Chicago family,” Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips said in a statement. “We want to continue to add unique content offerings for our diverse fan base, and CBS Radio Chicago provides an excellent fit to help us achieve this goal.”