CFL Colts to sign with WJFK-AM

April 02, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

With an eye on cultivating a regional network, the Baltimore CFL Colts are on the verge of awarding radio broadcast rights to WJFK-AM (1300) of Infinity Broadcasting.

"What I'm looking for in my deal with Infinity is exposure," Colts owner Jim Speros said yesterday. "I want to be all over Maryland, southern parts of Pennsylvania, in Washington and Northern Virginia."

Speros reached an agreement in principle Thursday in negotiations with Ken Stevens, vice president and general manager of WJFK-FM in Washington. The contract, expected to be finalized next week, is likely to be a multi-year deal.

WJFK-AM simulcasts programming from its sister station in Washington. Only the Baltimore station would carry Colts games. But the team would be promoted by both WJFK-FM in Washington and WLIF-FM in Baltimore, which also is owned by Infinity Broadcasting.

Speros said a key element in the deal is WJFK's ability to form a string of affiliates that have expressed interest in carrying the Canadian Football League games. He said those affiliates could stretch from York, Pa., to Norfolk, Va.

"We, as a company, believe very strongly in major sports franchises as great programming," Stevens said. "We have rights to the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and have all-sports stations in New York and Philadelphia. For Baltimore, this is going to be a real exciting sports franchise. I think Jim Speros has a great plan, and I think they'll do tremendous things."

WJFK-AM was formerly WFBR, which once carried Orioles broadcasts.

"What we're getting is a Baltimore station that did Oriole baseball and did a good job with Oriole baseball for a number of years," said Bob Leffler, who handled much of the negotiations for Speros. "They've got a great sales staff, the WLIF sales staff. And WJFK will be selling it from Washington. What we wanted was three stations for the price of one."

Stevens said the play-by-play announcer and analyst selections would be by mutual agreement of the station and the team.

NOTES: The Colts are expected to hold a news conference next week to announce the signing of nose tackle Jearld Baylis, a free agent from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and defensive player of the year in the CFL in 1993. . . . The team's season-ticket count stands at 21,000, Speros said. The direct phone line for ticket information is (410) 554-1040.

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