Originally created 02/11/99

New spot for NASCAR on radio



The majority of NASCAR on radio has switched to FM in the Augusta area.

WEKL-FM 102.3 will broadcast Motor Racing Network Winston Cup events this season, which includes all events except for nine. WRDW-AM 1480, which has broadcast all NASCAR events over the last two years, will carry the Performance Racing Network, which broadcasts events from Speedway Motorsports Inc., sites at Atlanta, Charlotte, Sears Point, Bristol, Las Vegas and Dallas.

WEKL has developed a niche for NASCAR enthusiasts because of its morning show, "John Boy and Billy." Cliff Bennett, an afternoon disc jockey and copy writer with WEKL, said Wednesday that the station bought the rights to NASCAR to mirror the popularity of its morning show, which promotes NASCAR personalities from its home in Charlotte, N.C.

The radio signal may be stronger on WEKL, but the coverage will be limited compared to what WRDW provided. WEKL will broadcast only "NASCAR Today" Monday through Friday at 6 p.m., and Winston Cup events on Sunday. WRDW carried various NASCAR talk shows throughout the week, Busch Grand National races on Saturday and all Winston Cup events on Saturday and Sunday the last two seasons.

Listeners will notice the difference today. When the Twin 125 qualifying for the Daytona 500 takes place, there will be no coverage in the Augusta area. CBS has the television rights to the qualifying and will show it on tape Saturday at 2:30 p.m. WEKL will not air the qualifying because it interferes with the station's normal classic rock format, Bennett said.

WRDW will replace the NASCAR with some gospel programming and more of its PGA Tour coverage and may expand its NFL coverage in the fall. Full-time coverage of the NFL wasn't available in the past two years because NASCAR took precedent on Sundays until November.

"To sum it up, it was big business versus little business," said Rick Beard, the general manager of family-owned WRDW. "That's just the way it goes. They (Cumulus Broadcasting-owned WEKL) used their leverage of having a big company and made the deal.

"It's no fault of our own. We brought it back to Augusta (two years ago) and made a success of it."

Sports programming on FM stations in the Augusta area has been rare until lately. WGOR-FM 93.9 carries Augusta Lynx hockey games this season.

Ward Clayton can be reached at (706) 823-3337 or at wardc@augustachronicle.com.