Bears radio broadcasts will leave WBBM after season; ESPN 1000, WCHI vying to land them

The decision came down to cost. Audacy-owned WBBM, which simulcasts on WCFS-FM (105.9), has been losing money with the Bears, who have aired on the station since 2000.

SHARE Bears radio broadcasts will leave WBBM after season; ESPN 1000, WCHI vying to land them
This season will be the last for the Bears on WBBM-AM.

This season will be the last for the Bears on WBBM-AM.

Kamil Krzaczynski/AP

The Bears will leave WBBM-AM (780) after this season, according to industry sources. The team’s games are expected to move to either ESPN 1000 or WCHI-FM (95.5).

The decision came down to cost. Audacy-owned WBBM, which simulcasts on WCFS-FM (105.9), has been losing money with the Bears, who have aired on the station since 2000.

“We are focused on having a great 2022 season with WBBM and Audacy,” said Scott Hagel, Bears senior vice president of marketing and communications.

Play-by-play voice Jeff Joniak, who’s entering his 22nd season in the booth, and analyst Tom Thayer, who’s beginning his 26th, are expected to keep their roles. Joniak also is the sports director at WBBM.

Good Karma Brands’ ESPN 1000 got back into local sports rights with the White Sox starting in 2021. WCHI, owned by iHeartMedia, had been country music station WEBG until changing its format to rock music in September 2020.

On the TV side, the Bears’ preseason opener at noon Saturday against the Chiefs will air on Fox-32. Play-by-play voice Adam Amin, analyst Jim Miller and sideline reporter Lou Canellis will call the Bears’ two local preseason telecasts. The other is Aug. 27 at the Browns. The game Aug. 18 will air on ESPN.

Remote patrol

The Blackhawks are pursuing Patrick Sharp to be their TV analyst on NBCSCH, though it’s unclear whether he’d be the full-time analyst or share the job. Before Eddie Olczyk’s departure for the Kraken’s booth, radio analyst Troy Murray was expected to fill in when Olczyk was working a TNT game. Sharp moved his family to Connecticut, so if he declines the full-time job, Murray could figure prominently in the team’s plans.

  • The White Sox’ TV numbers were up and the Cubs’ were down year-over-year at the All-Star break in the key demographic of adults ages 25-54. According to Nielsen, average impressions (number of people watching) of Sox games on NBC Sports Chicago were up 13%. Impressions for Cubs games on Marquee Sports Network were down 30%.
  • Adam Amin will fill in for Jason Benetti on NBCSCH’s broadcast of the Sox’ game Sunday against the Tigers. Benetti will be calling the Padres-Nationals game for Peacock.
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