Athletics selects NewsTalk 97.1 for game broadcasts

by Student Writer Jake Rodgers

Heading into the start of the college football season, UNA will have a new radio station broadcasting their games.

After coming to the end of a five-year contract, UNA athletics decided to go with NewsTalk 97.1 FM, WBCF, as the new home for UNA sports radio broadcasts.

“We opened up for a bidding process and we looked at what each one offered,” said UNA athletic director Mark Linder. “Everyone was a little different so it made it tough for us to make a decision, but we thought 97.1 could give us the coverage we were looking for.”

Three other stations were in the bidding mix for the broadcasting rights of UNA athletics.

The decision to change stations took two months after careful evaluation and a few more months after the decision to finalize the deal, Linder said.

With the change, some new and familiar voices will be analysts for the pre-games as well as the play-by-play announcing throughout the season. Phil Stevenson and Bryan Neece will be in the booth, and Mike Ezekiel will be the new UNA football sideline reporter, Linder said.

“It is good to have some consistency,” Linder said about the cohesion of the announcers. “It is kind of good to get to know your brand.”

NewsTalk 97.1 makes it easier for fans to listen to games, even when they are out of the frequency range. The station has a free download in the Google Play store for Android and the App Store for iPhone.

WBCF will live stream all UNA football games, as well as men’s and women’s basketball games.

Last season, UNA football and basketball were on different stations. This season, both will be on WBCF, and, with the new UNA athletic website, fans have access to 14 portals to watch UNA athletics.

Eddy Forsythe, UNA’s film and media coordinator for athletics, said he believes the change in radio stations is a positive move.

“It goes back to having all the sports on one channel, so people won’t have to wonder where everything is at,” he said. “The app is really easy to use. With a push of a button in five to six seconds you’re listening to it.”

The change to WBCF comes as the university is expanding. Linder said he is optimistic about the growth of fans and the positive vibes surrounding campus.

“I think we have a lot of energy on campus right now with a large freshmen class and it’s a good time to be a Lion,” Linder said. “If we can catch the momentum, do things the right way and get passionate about UNA academically and athletically on campus, it will feed into the community and get the Shoals area excited.”

Editor’s Note: Sports Editor Mike Ezekiel did not contribute to this report.