There was a time, not too long ago, when many forms of mass media shunned any form of sports betting. Northern California’s Bay Area contains yet another example of the sudden, pronounced paradigm shift.
KGO 810, a prominent talk radio station based out of San Francisco, has been rebranded to 810 THE SPREAD. The station’s new daily schedule includes a number of programs catering to sports betting in California and across the country.
More on the switch to a sports betting format
The first hint of an impending change came Thursday. Cumulus Media, the station’s parent company, shut down KGO’s scheduled programming. In its place were songs hinting at gambling, such as “The Gambler,” by Kenny Rogers, and “Money Talks,” by AC/DC.
On Thursday morning, KGO’s social media outlets displayed a message thanking listeners and advertising an upcoming “new era” for the station. That came with Monday’s formal rebrand to 810 THE SPREAD.
According to a Cumulus press release, the station’s goal is to “deliver behind-the-book perspectives from experts in a highly entertaining and engaging format.” Larry Blumhagen, Vice President and Market Manager for Cumulus San Francisco, added:
“810 THE SPREAD joins our sports brands KNBR 680AM/104.5FM and 1050 KTCT for a trifecta of dynamic sports content across four signals and streaming everywhere. We are excited about this new chapter and look forward to serving the Bay Area’s passionate sports fans in an incomparable way.”
What shows can 810 THE SPREAD’s listeners expect?
Programming starts at 6 am with BetQL Daily, which is provided thanks to Cumulus Media’s partnership with Audacy. That relationship also brings two more Audacy shows, You Better You Bet and BetMGM Tonight, to 810 THE SPREAD. You Better You Bet airs from 12-4 pm, while BetMGM Tonight runs from 4-8 pm.
The late-morning hours feature nationally-syndicated host Jim Rome, whose show airs from 9 am to noon. After BetMGM Tonight signs off, CBS Sports Radio runs programming up to midnight.
Perhaps the most curious aspect of the programming, though, involves major college athletic teams. The station has an agreement to broadcast Cal football and men’s basketball, and Sports Illustrated reported those games will air as scheduled.
“We have a partnership with Cumulus Media and our games will continue to air on 810-AM,” a statement from Cal Athletics reads.
That statement makes no mention of the station’s new branding. SI also added inquiries about whether or not Cal’s athletic department is comfortable being associated with a sports betting-focused station went unanswered.
What about the fate of California sports betting?
The timing of this format change is very curious. While voters will decide on a pair of competing initiatives, legal California sports betting looks unlikely in the short term.
Propositions 26 and 27 are both facing double-digit deficits with less than a month until Election Day. The potential market size of sports betting in California is massive, but it appears all parties involved will need to wait until at least 2024 for legalization to happen.
Through Dollinger Strategic Communication, 810 THE SPREAD declined to comment to PlayCA beyond a referral to the initial press release. It’s safe to assume, though, that if California sports betting becomes a reality, the station would stand to benefit considerably.