AL HAMNIK: Region prep sports gets 'louder' say in coverage

2012-11-17T17:00:00Z 2012-11-19T19:58:15Z AL HAMNIK: Region prep sports gets 'louder' say in coverageAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
November 17, 2012 5:00 pm  • 

HIGHLAND | If you've heard him on the radio, you know Chris Ramirez is easily excitable as are most die-hard region sports fans.

The president and executive producer of Region Sports Network -- The Only Game In Town -- as its slogan states regarding prep coverage, feels like a lottery winner at the moment.

Chest bumps, anyone? The line forms in front of this 1983 Munster grad.

RSN has great news to share with fans. It has a new, increased frequency with 3,100-watt WRTW-FM (90.5), "The Key," and will offer the largest coverage area of any station in Northwest Indiana, according to Ramirez.

"People will be able to tune in from Wrigleyville to Rensselaer, North Judson to Joliet, and beyond," he said.

WRTW has its tower located in Crown Point and offers a 24-hour religious, non-commercial format for listeners. Owners figure high school sports is the best way of promoting their station, and they're right.

Ramirez and his RSN staff began their new journey by carrying Friday night's semistate football games involving 5A Merrillville on WRTW and 2A Andrean on its WLTH-1370 affiliate.

"It's the first time in Northwest Indiana there's ever been a signal people can hear throughout all of Lake, Porter and LaPorte county -- and beyond, for that matter," said Ramirez, whose studio is located on 45th Ave., directly behind Fuel Fitness.

"You know how it is when you drive from the stadium back to work or wherever you're at. You drive a few miles and it doesn't matter who you're listening to," he added. "The signal's there for a little while and then it's gone."

You miss the post-game and scoreboard shows.

You're left in the dark on a big sports night, frantically searching on your radio dial.

Not anymore.

WRTW, "The Key," has got you covered within a 75-mile radius, Ramirez said.

RSN is now leasing its air time on WRTW and covers football, boys and girls basketball and the baseball state tournament series. Other sports could be added based on demand and advertising.

"For the first time, the audience can lock in a button in their car and know they're always going to be able to pick up whatever it is they're looking for," Ramirez said.

Make no mistake. RSN is a for-profit business and so you must ask: Can high-quality prep sports coverage on the radio attract advertising in a shaky economy?

"It's tougher than it used to be," Ramirez conceded. "As you know now, everybody with a computer shows up at games and is claiming to be a broadcaster."

He refers to them as "mole media" and says they're taking a small slice of advertising here and there.

"But I think having this frequency will really put us on a level that no other (local) broadcast entities are at," Ramirez said.

Given the sports tradition in this area, it's about time.

Other affiliates include WWCA-1270, WJOB-1230, WCFJ-1470, WGVE-99.7 FM and WVLP-98.3 FM.

Add this newest frequency and RSN seems destined to be "The Only Game In Towns" -- plural.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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