Pittsburgh radio station gets into sports betting with VSiN format

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Anyone who listens to sports-related radio content is now used to hearing frequently – some would say too frequent – advertisements for the growing number of legal sportsbooks, but it is much rarer to hear one-day shows dedicated to sports bettors.

That just changed in the Pittsburgh market for some of the listening public.

Steel City Media, owner of WRRK, or 96.9 BOB-FM, began airing the Vegas Sports Information Network’s all-day format last month. Content on the VSiN Network consists of talk shows and news devoted to sports betting analysis to both educate and entertain bettors.

The catch is that VSiN programming isn’t on the main WRRK channel, which continues to play classic rock music. It airs as Bet Sports Radio on the station’s HD2 alternative, which can generally only be received by those in cars – and newer cars, equipped to carry HD radio options.

Gregg Frischling, vice president and general manager of Steel City Media, said the February 11 format change – the station’s HD alternative previously played rock music similar to the main channel – is recognition of the growing interest in sports betting among Pennsylvanians. Retail and online sportsbooks in the state have taken more than $700 million in monthly bets since the fall.

“We thought this was an opportunity to provide a different type of programming that could spark interest and hopefully change the way people listen to sports in this market,” Frischling said. “If you want to listen to a Steelers or Pirates or Penguins game, you do that elsewhere, but if you want a different kind of information, VSiN does a good job of showcasing it.”

The network has built a national niche

VSiN garnered attention when it debuted in 2017 due to famed sports announcer Brent Musberger’s role as a co-founder. His nephew, Brian Musberger, is the CEO.

Its content is available through its app, satellite radio and a range of streaming services such as YouTube, usually for a subscription fee. A daily VSiN program, follow the money with Mitch Moss and Pauly Howard, is also airing for interested viewers on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh.

Its personalities make shows and podcasts from the Las Vegas studios at the South Point Hotel Casino and Circa Resort & Casino. A frequent guest is longtime Vegas bettor Jimmy Vaccaro, who works in South Point and hails from the Pittsburgh suburb of Trafford, but Frischling said at this point there are no plans for a Pittsburgh-specific game programming.

He suggested, in fact, that an interesting aspect of VSiN’s national programming is that it devotes time to sports such as NBA basketball that receive little attention on the few sports talk stations. of Pittsburgh.

“I really think it’s interesting to have their different take on the sport,” Frischling said of VSiN analysts and advertisers. “The people they have to do the reporting and the shows look like normal people. It’s fun to have someone say “I lost my shirt last night on what I thought was a good bet” and not turn it into something the non-betting layman is incapable of. ‘to listen.

VSiN, greatly aided by the expansion of legal sports betting across the country to more than 30 states since 2018, achieved such notoriety in its short existence that DraftKings acquired the network last March for an undisclosed sum.

Still early to adopt the general public format

Frischling acknowledged that only a small minority of southwestern Pennsylvanians can currently access the new programming offered on WRRK-HD2, but he hopes that will change soon. The station is buying equipment that will allow listeners to stream it on the station’s website, possibly next month.

It has nothing to do with a mainstream local radio station devoting its programming to sports betting. It’s a little early in the evolution of the industry for that to happen, Frischling said, but it’s not inconceivable in the future. A sports-obsessed market like Pittsburgh would certainly be a more suitable guinea pig than many other places outside of Nevada.

“Sports is important, but it will take some time to see if it works,” Frischling said, noting that there are no plans to change Steel City Media’s main classic rock format. “The question is can you have a full-time sports betting station and have enough people buying ads that [aren’t related to sports betting]. It is an obstacle.

“If we have some success, positive results in our Nielsen ratings on HD, that increases the potential that this could happen, but it would be difficult for someone to take that leap at this point.”

Photo: Shutterstock

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