IMG signs Morgantown-based affiliate Fantasia Broadcasting station
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University and IMG College on Thursday unveiled the key Morgantown-based sports radio affiliate — and it wasn't a station owned by John Raese's West Virginia Radio Corp.
Fantasia Broadcasting's WZST-FM, located at 100.9 on the FM dial, will be Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG's primary-market affiliate station, taking over a coveted spot once held by WVAQ-FM and WAJR-AM Morgantown stations.
It joins more than 20 stations already signed on to the WVU radio network.
Joe Potter, senior vice president for broadcasting at IMG, welcomed the station to the new Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG, which he said was "the only place for fans to hear live WVU sporting events."
"Fantasia Broadcasting has been a part of Mountaineer broadcasts since the early 1950s, and we look forward to their continued loyal support as our flagship station in Morgantown," Potter said.
While the station will not handle the production of WVU sports broadcasts, it will serve as the hometown anchor station for those events.
Naming WZST as the hometown station represents a coup of sorts in the local radio market. The station's broadcast territory is significantly smaller than that of WVAQ or WAJR, both of which were leaders in local market ratings.
WVAQ's broadcast range stretches from Washington, Pa., to Buckhannon, according to the Federal Communications Commission, while WZST's range extends from about 10 miles north of the Pennsylvania border to about five miles south of Fairmont.
Listeners traveling south from Morgantown would also have the option of switching to Fantasia-owned WRLF-FM and WTCS-AM south of Fairmont.
"With the addition of WZST-FM, the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG now has added affiliates in Monongalia, Marion and Preston counties, and our North-Central West Virginia station lineup is strong," Potter said.
Nick Fantasia, president of Fantasia Broadcasting, said his company appreciated the opportunity WVU and IMG has given it and said he looks forward to the coming season.
"Our company has had a long history broadcasting WVU sports, and having WZST chosen as the Morgantown flagship affiliate is an unexpected thrill for us," Fantasia said.
In addition to the FM station, WVU sports will also be carried on Fantasia's WMMN-AM station in Morgantown.
All four Fantasia stations will carry WVU football and men's basketball games, the respective coaches' shows and a daily "Mountaineer Minute" report. The affiliates will also carry other sports, including WVU Big 12 Conference baseball games on WMMN and WRLF, and women's basketball on WZST and WRLF.
Meanwhile, West Virginia Radio Corp. is continuing to pursue its lawsuit against West Virginia University and IMG College over the way the university has handled its multimedia rights arrangements over the past year.
The radio network this week asked Judge Thomas Evans to issue a preliminary injunction to keep WVU from proceeding with its 12-year deal with North Carolina-based IMG College.
Evans took over the case this week for Monongalia County Circuit Judge Phillip Gaujot after West Virginia Radio claimed he had a conflict of interest. It cited a 25-year-old neighborhood spat between the judge and an attorney for the radio network's parent company.
Citing the current lawsuit, West Virginia Radio attorney Bob Gwynne declined to comment on IMG's new deal with Fantasia Broadcasting or whether West Virginia Radio stations will carry IMG-produced WVU broadcasts in the future.
IMG spokesman Andrew Giangola said his company is still open to working with West Virginia Radio, in spite of the lawsuit.
"IMG College's Audio team had reached out to West Virginia Radio Corp., providing various clearance options in an effort to partner with their stations," Giangola said. "The door remains open."
Regardless of whether West Virginia Radio comes on board, Giangola said IMG would continue to recruit additional radio affiliates from across the state.
"There are an abundance of radio outlets across the state with big signals, a listener base passionate for Mountaineer football, and a strong desire to carry WVU sports," he said. "As we build the WVU network, we'll continue to talk to stations up and down the dial across West Virginia."
He said the company expects to make additional affiliate announcements in the coming days.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4836.