By Scott Smith Kokomo Tribune
---- — Longtime Kokomo AM station WIOU-1350 is planning a July 1 move to an ESPN Radio format, bringing “Mike & Mike in the Morning” and outspoken personality Colin Cowherd’s show to the broadcaster.
Station manager Ernie Caldemone said the station will continue the same high school sports coverage listeners are accustomed to, including Kokomo Wildkats basketball, and coverage of the county schools.
The station will also remain an Indianapolis Colts affiliate and will continue to broadcast Indiana and Purdue university sports.
“I feel as long as we continue to be local in our community, we’ll do extremely well,” Caldemone said. “I think we’ve been known as the sports station, because we already carry a half-day schedule. I just felt like with the sports we already have, why not go to all sports, 24/7?”
WIOU Program Director Rob Rupe, a 26-year fixture on the Kokomo radio scene, will remain in place and will continue to be a presence in the community. For Rupe, who started his career in Hartford City and who was a participant in the “Rock Radio Wars” between WNAP, WFBQ and WZPL in Indianapolis during the 70s, the longtime connection to Kokomo has been proudly held.
The change at the station will mean an end to the political talk which has dominated WIOU’s airwaves for the past decade, with a new weekday lineup of The Herd with Colin Cowherd on from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., SVP & Russillio on from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Coach & Company from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The popular Mike & Mike show will be on air live weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. with hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic.
According to the Inside Radio website, which performs format counts, sports talk radio has been a growing segment of the market. While only a third as many stations carry an all sports format compared to news/talk stations, over the past year, the sports segment has grown by 7 percent, while the news/talk segment has declined very slightly.
Caldemone said the response to sports programming in Kokomo “has been huge,” prompting sister station WMYK to begin picking up county prep sports, and for WIOU, which Caldemone said is already well-known as a sports station, to pick up the Colts broadcasts last year.
On weekends, the station will broadcast the high school coaches show from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays, as well as following the ESPN Radio broadcasts, which vary according to the sports season. The station’s website, www. 1350amwiou.com, will be the place to keep up on all of the programming.
The move comes as most of the major radio networks have invested in sports programming, with CBS launching a rival network just last year.
“As the availability of sports programming has expanded, it just made sense that WIOU would use its legacy in sports and offer sports programming around the clock with ESPN Radio,” Caldemone said.
In addition to WIOU, the station owners, Hoosier AM/FM Radio, operate Peru’s WMYK-FM, 98.5, and Kokomo’s WZWZ-FM, 92.5.