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WRTO-AM Flips To Univision Deportes 1200 AM

With little fanfare, Univision-owned WRTO-AM 1200 flipped from a Spanish language all-talk station with a few sports broadcasts, to a Spanish language all-sports station with a few talk shows. As of this past Thursday, WRTO-AM is now branded as Univision Deportes 1200 AM.

As previously reported here in December, Univision Communications had announced the formation of a new, national sports radio network named Univision Deportes Radio, which would debut in first quarter of 2017. WRTO-AM was chosen as the Chicago radio home for Univision Deportes Radio, replacing the nationally syndicated talk format named Univision America that has aired on the station since 2012.

Sports on WRTO-AM is not necessarily anything new. The station already broadcasts Spanish-language games for the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Chicago White Sox. Select Chicago Cubs home games have been heard on WRTO-AM in the past, as well.

In fact, on Wednesday night, WRTO-AM and other Univision Chicago radio stations will be the media partner with the Chicago Bulls for its "Los Bulls Night" at the United Center. This will include a live remote on WVIV-FM/WVIX-FM/93.5 & 103.1FM Latino Mix with WRTO-AM's Bulls play-by-play announcer Omar Ramos and a mix from DJ Image live at the game. Univision Chicago broadcasters will be participating in the game introductions. Of course, WRTO-AM will have the live game call. Additionally, the WRTO-AM game broadcasters will be hosting a lucky Spanish-speaking Bulls fan that won a VIP experience in the broadcast booth for the station's Bulls halftime show.

In a huge surprise, the Chicago Fire have moved their radio broadcast rights from 97.5 Poder ("Power"), heard on WLIT-HD2 93.9-2 and simulcast on 250-watt translator W248BB in Chicago on 97.5 FM, to WRTO-AM. Last year, the Chicago Fire agreed to a two-year contract with 97.5 Poder, and this was to be the second year of that deal. Instead, all Fire games will now be heard on WRTO-AM. Even though some games have already been heard on WRTO-AM this month, a formal announcement of the agreement between the Chicago Fire and Univision is expected soon.

To give the station even more local flavor, along with the Chicago sports teams' broadcasts, WRTO-AM is planning some locally-produced sports talk and sports highlight shows. Some of the local shows include "El Corral de los Bulls, "Vamos Bears," and "Orgullo Sox," WRTO-AM exclusive programs that tie into the station's broadcasts rights of three Chicago teams.

In addition to all of the major Chicago sports teams having a presence on WRTO-AM, select Liga MX and Copa MX soccer matches will also be aired on WRTO-AM, as will other national and international soccer/futbol matches.

Along with the Spanish-language sports programming on the radio network, Univision Deportes Radio will offer digital streams of select games and content, as well as podcasts.

WRTO-AM will not be entirely all sports, though. A few of the talk shows from before the flip are expected to stay. For example, in January, Univision decided to syndicate the Los Angeles radio show "En Boca de Leon" ("In Leon's Mouth"), hosted by KMEX-TV news anchor Leon Krauze. The daily, 60-minute, call-in show is now heard on many Univision-owned talk stations nationwide, including WRTO-AM. Even though Krauze's show is news-based and not sports-based, it will continue to air in the late afternoons on WRTO-AM (except when preempted by live sports).

Also coming over from the previous format on WRTO-AM is "El Garage," an automotive talk show.

With all of the sports (and more) programming on WRTO-AM, from local to national to international, the station will feature one of the most diverse and eclectic sports portfolios in Chicago regardless of language.

A total of ten Univision-owned radio stations have flipped to being part of the Univision Deportes Radio network, or are about to make the flip. In addition to Chicago's WRTO-AM, Univision's sports radio network includes WADO-AM in New York, KTNQ-AM in Los Angeles, KFLC-AM in Dallas, KLAT-AM in Houston, WQBA-AM in Miami, KHOV-FM in (suburban) Phoenix, KLSQ-AM in Las Vegas, KCOR-AM in San Antonio, and KGBT-AM in McAllen/Brownsville/Harlingen (TX).

Univision Deportes Radio is now a direct competitor to ESPN Deportes Radio, which has been broadcasting nationally since 2005. ESPN Deportes Radio no longer has a Chicago outlet (WLIT-HD2/W248BB, the former ESPN Deportes 97.5 flipped to a mostly regional Mexican music format known as Poder early last year), but remains in the north suburbs on WKRS-AM 1220.

UPDATED 4:00pm with additional information.

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