FARGO — North Dakota State sports won't be moving on the radio dial.
Bison 1660, owned by Radio FM Media, retained the radio broadcast rights to Bison athletics for three more years with an option for two more, the school announced Friday, May 7.
"It's something we're excited about and our coaches and staff our excited about," NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said on the station Friday morning.
Bison 1660 has had the rights since 2016, serving as the flagship for the 26-station network that carries NDSU football across North Dakota and Minnesota. Jeff Culhane serves as the play-by-play voice for NDSU football and men's basketball while Keith Brake calls women's basketball. Both have two-hour talk shows on the station and host coaches shows.
KVLY-TV (Channel 11) 83% WDAY-TV (Channel 6) 8% Midco Sports Network 9%
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KVLY-TV (Channel 11)
WDAY-TV (Channel 6)
Midco Sports Network
Radio FM Media's proposal beat out those offered by Midwest Communications, a Wisconsin-based company that owns KFGO and 740 the Fan among other local stations, and Flag Family Media, a Fargo radio group that owns The Flag and has an operating agreement with Forum Communications Co. to run WDAY-AM.
Sources say the competition came down to Radio FM Media and Midwest Communications, which serves as the Fargo affiliate for University of North Dakota athletics. The proposals were made to Learfield IMG College's Bison Sports Properties, which handles NDSU's media, advertising and corporate sponsorships.
Having a media outlet branded with a college's name is rare, particularly at the mid-major and Football Championship Subdivision level. Radio FM Media first branded the station Bison 1660 five years ago, when it took over the NDSU radio rights from Midwest Communications.
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"The real difference with this relationship is we blew up the model and said, 'What can we do to really promote Bison athletics?'" Larsen said.
The result was a station that dedicates blocks of its programming to NDSU athletics, almost always presented in a positive light, and broadcasts sports besides the traditional football and basketball. Bison 1660 also carries NDSU baseball, softball, volleyball and soccer games and regularly has those programs' coaches on its talk shows.
"Having a branded station is so unique," said Josh Hartman, general manager of Bison Sports Properties. "It just doesn't happen at a lot of places."
NDSU will next announce which station will get its television rights. Hartman said Monday that decision has not yet been made, but negotiations are in their final stages. He said a decision and announcement will likely come in the next couple of weeks.
KVLY-TV, owned by Gray Media Inc. of Atlanta, has held the TV rights since 2007. It made a proposal to keep the rights, as did Forum Communications-owned WDAY-TV and Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Midco Sports Network.