Friday, July 22, 2011

New ESPN Deportes affiliate reaches Spanish soccer fans

 July 21, 2011 | By Jeff Faraudo

For Daniel Zubizarreta, listening to sports broadcasts in Spanish isn't merely about the language. It's the delivery that makes the difference.

"The announcers know a little more about the game. It's like they're passionate about it. In English, the announcing sometimes seems forced," said Zubizarreta, 21, whose father is from Argentina and mother is from Mexico. "The English is too slow for me."

For Zubizarreta and 3 million other Hispanics in the greater Bay Area, Modesto, Stockton and Sacramento, there is now an alternative: KTRB 860-AM, the Bay Area's first 24/7 Spanish-language sports radio station.

The newest affiliate of ESPN Deportes, KTRB switched on at 3 p.m. on June 23 and hopes to become the local radio destination of the Spanish-speaking sports crowd.

"We want to make listeners feel, 'This is my station. It's mine,' " KTRB general manager Michael Sher said.

With 50,000 watts, the station (which formerly carried Oakland A's games), is the most powerful among ESPN Deportes' 42 national affiliates. KTRB currently provides listeners with ESPN's national programming, including popular commentator Jorge Ramos. The network also is covering the Copa America and will air Sunday's championship game from Argentina.

Eventually, KTRB will feature local talk shows and, possibly, play-by-play of Bay Area professional teams.

Sher, a veteran of 25 years in Spanish broadcasting, said the station will be a forum for listener interaction, develop relationships with Bay Area teams and feature contests and grass-roots promotional events. "We really want to create local legs for the station," he said.

David Jacobs, CEO of Deportes Media LLC, which signed a five-year lease with an option to purchase after KTRB went into receivership last year, said the station's local programming plan will be developed carefully over the next two to four months.

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