1250 ESPN will cease to operate in its current manner at the end of next week and most if not all full-time employees will be fired. The station will continue with a sports format until the end of the year and then switch to Radio Disney.
Present plans, according to the postgazette.com citing sources, have the station carrying ESPN national programming almost exclusively until Dec. 31. On Jan. 1, the station will switch to Radio Disney, a format for pre-teens and younger that has been hugely successful and features talent such a Hannah Montana, Justin Bieber and Selana Gomez.
The Walt Disney Company, which owns ESPN, has been running Radio Disney at 540 on the AM dial (WWCS in Canonsburg). Disney's lease with WWCS expires at the end of the year. At that time, Radio Disney will move to 1250, sources say.
The station has been losing money for years, as much as $2 million a few years back. It has made significant cuts in personnel, beginning with the firing of Mark Madden in 2008, but nothing has stemmed the losses.
The Madden firing was not for financial reasons, but it took the station's largest salary off the books. There were multiple firing for economic reasons in May of 2009, most notably news anchor Jim Colony, and more in June of 2010. Those fired this year include on-air personality Eddy Crow and news anchors Joe Destio and Eartha Jackson.
Sources said the station has been for sale for some time but with the down economy and the weak 1250 signal, 5,000 watts, no buyer could be found.
The entry into the market of The Fan (KDKA-FM, 93.7) caused the station to lose more money as some listeners and advertisers left 1250.
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