If you’ll recall, the rights to Bears radio broadcasts were up for grabs during the summer of 2017. But after a brief foray into free agency, Chicago’s football team and CBS Radio announced a multi-year extension keeping the team on WBBM 780-AM and WCFS 105.9 FM through 2022.
Welp, it’s 2022. That agreement is set to expire at the end of the football season. And with that in mind, it appears some new contenders are in the mix to be the exclusive radio home for Bears football.
Long-time Chicagoland media reporter Robert Feder hears three stations are in the race for the Bears’ radio rights. WBBM – which has been home to Bears games since 2000 – is being joined by ESPN WMVP 1000-AM and the iHeartMedia-owned rock radio station WCHI 95.5 FM in the quest to bring the hometown call of Bears football to their respective stations after the contract with WBBM expires. Notably absent from this mix is WGN 720-AM, which reportedly had interest when the radio rights were available in 2017. But even with the former home of Bears football (from 1996-2000) on the sidelines, WMVP and WCHI make for notable parties interested in the Bears.
ESPN radio already has the White Sox. So, it’s not as if the network is a stranger to having the big leagues on its airwaves. Adding Bears football to their broadcast lineup could further bolster the network’s profile. Having the ESPN branding on something never hurts. WCHI isn’t something in my wheelhouse, but I can imagine there could be some appeal to having football broadcasts on the FM dial. It doesn’t sound like a decision is imminent, but that Bears broadcasts have three stations vying and ready to bid on it suggests that this is something we should keep tabs on. The last time these radio rights were up for bidding, the announcement that the Bears were sticking with WBBM came in September. Perhaps we’ll have a more firm idea of where the Bears could be going by then.