Earlier this week, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced a multi-year partnership with Cox Media Group to make 102.5 The Bone their new flagship radio station. Previously, Lightning games aired on iHeartMedia’s NewsRadio WFLA, a talk station featuring The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show among other conservative hosts.
As the Lightning gain popularity in Tampa, moving to 102.5 The Bone aligns with the trend many sports franchises have followed over the last decade, moving from AM radio to a stronger FM signal. But on Wednesday, Travis and Sexton fed into a rumor that the Lightning left WFLA over concerns about sharing a radio station that airs conservative viewpoints on COVID.
“There’s a news story that’s saying that the Tampa Bay Lightning has moved from WFLA as their station…because of COVID misinformation,” Sexton said near the bottom of the second hour during Wednesday’s show.
“If this has really happened, this is a goldmine for us,” Travis said with excitement. “A Florida based team is not going to be on a radio station that we’re on because they’re accusing us of COVID misinformation?”
The story came from Creative Loafing Tampa Bay with an article that features a current headline of NewsRadio WFLA spread COVID-19 falsehoods, but Tampa Bay Lightning says that’s not why its contract wasn’t renewed. In the story, Creative Loafing cites an article from last year where the outlet detailed the fact that Lightning games are sandwiched between conservative viewpoints, but it never reported the franchise was bothered by their relationship with the station. The Tampa Bay Lightning have made no mention of COVID misinformation playing any role in their decision to part ways with WFLA.
After noting they would have to vet the article to make sure it wasn’t an erroneous report coming from a bogus outlet, Travis and Sexton returned from commercial and spent more than half of their third hour on the topic. This commentary, was interestingly removed from the show podcast, but you can listen via the audio clip below.
“I’ve got Outkick already on this,” Travis said after seemingly buying into the rumor. “We are going to absolutely obliterate this team. They have no idea, I hope that we have some Tampa Bay Lightning executives listening right now. I want to let you know, prepare…we are about to unleash holy hell on you, Tampa Bay Lightning, and you have no idea what you’re in for. So if you’re listening to us on WFLA in Tampa and you have got friends who work with the Tampa Bay Lightning, you better tell them that they have no idea about the Mack Truck that is about to flatten their team…we are going to wreck you in a way unlike you have ever been publicly wrecked in your lives.”
Following another commercial break, Travis and Sexton returned to say the Lightning are claiming the rumor is not true, which seems obvious, because again, they’re leaving WFLA for a better radio signal. The Lightning did not yank their game broadcasts off a conservative radio station and leave themselves without a flagship.
“Tampa Bay Lightning, already getting some blowback,” Travis said. “They are saying this is not true. The report, the story, not true.”
Instead of acknowledging they may have impulsively fed into the rumor, Travis suggested the Lightning should put out a statement to thank his radio show and WFLA for its conservative COVID coverage in recent years.
“We have got Outkick on the case,” Travis repeated. “So when or if they put out an official statement, but through backchannels they are saying, ‘no, no, no, no, no, this is not true. Please don’t murder us with your following.’ So we’ll see what exactly they are going to put out about this report.”
As of Thursday morning, Outkick has not posted about the seemingly bogus rumor and The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show did not podcast any audio discussing the Lightning radio rumor, making it harder to publicly wreck the NHL team. Maybe Travis, Sexton and Outkick are working on something big pertaining to this story. If so, we’ll certainly update. But it’s also possible they thought better of waging war against the Lightning over a rumor that never appeared to have much validity.