The Team 980 has been the flagship radio home of Washington DC’s NFL franchise since the 2008 season, but that partnership came to a surprising end Wednesday morning.
The Team 980’s parent company, Audacy, announced they would no longer be the radio home of the Washington Commanders. Audacy acquired the radio station in 2020, more than a decade after their partnership with the Commanders began.
Team 980 morning host Kevin Sheehan made the announcement on behalf of the station, citing a disagreement on the value of the broadcasts, but more importantly, a desire for their radio shows to objectively analyze the team.
“The team and our company disagreed on the value of the broadcast,” Sheehan admitted during his morning show. “It’s also very important for us as a sports talk station, even as a long-time flagship station for the team, it was important for us to continue to be able to provide honest, objective information and analysis about the team on our talk shows.”
Sheehan’s statement implies the Commanders have or would attempt to censor the content and topics that were discussed about the team on-air. The ability to speak objectively and honestly about NFL teams should be a requirement for sports radio stations, especially as it pertains to the Washington Commanders.
Currently, the NFL is sitting on 650,000 emails as part of an investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace culture created by the Washington Commanders and their owner Daniel Snyder. Earlier this year, Snyder was even accused of interfering with the investigation, prompting Congress to demand answers.
Audacy owns two sports radio stations in Washington DC, The Team 980 and 106.7 The Fan, as well as 910 The Fan in Richmond, VA. Considering the number of negative headlines featuring Washington’s football team in recent years, local radio stations need the ability to broadcast honestly to maintain credibility with their listeners.
Game simulcasts for Washington’s football team have also been heard on Cumulus-owned stations WMAL 105.9 FM and ESPN 630 AM. Cumulus has not released a statement on the state of their partnership with the Commanders.
UPDATE: Sometime after Sheehan delivered Audacy’s message as to why they would no longer be the flagship radio home of the Commanders, the NFL franchise issued a countering statement claiming they chose a new broadcast partner.
Washington Commanders Statement:
We initiated a formal RFP process last fall for the Washington Commanders Radio Broadcast Agreement, which concluded last week. Multiple companies submitted bids as part of this process, including Audacy who was an active and aggressive participant and submitted multiple partnership proposals for the next three years of increased value over our previous deal. Based on the evaluation process, we selected a new partner who will bring a significantly larger deal, as well as new creativity and broader reach and scale, to programming. We shared with Audacy last week that we would not be moving forward as partners. We’re very excited about our new radio broadcast partner, who we will be announcing soon, and anticipate this being the largest radio deal in the team’s history. – Washington Commanders Team Spokesperson