UTICA/ROME — We had first reported this on May 25, but it was quickly retracted by those involved. Now, the news is “official” — Gene Conte and Fred Miller are moving from Townsquare Media’s WIBX to Galaxy Communications’ trio of ESPN Radio stations. Conte, who has been serving as PD for WIBX, will become PD of the ESPN trimulcast. ESPN Radio also picks up Dave Peroni for play-by-play duties.
Fans of long-running WIBX staple “SportsWatch” may have noticed the show was abruptly replaced by two hours of syndicated sports talk from Sporting News Radio in late May — that was when Conte submitted his notice to Townsquare. It’s unclear at this time whether WIBX will eventually restore the program, but Galaxy says Conte and Miller will continue to host a weekday show for the ESPN stations, which include WTLB (1310 Utica), WRNY (1350 Rome) and WIXT (1230 Little Falls). The show will be retitled “The Cheap Seats,” airing weekdays 3-5pm starting June 20th.
Here’s the complete press release from Galaxy Communications VP/Programming Mimi Griswold:
June 3, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WIBX SPORTSWATCH TEAM AND “MY HOMETOWN SPORTS” MOVES TO ESPN RADIO
Galaxy Communications announced today that local sports hosts, Fred Miller and Gene Conte will move their afternoon sports talk show to ESPN Radio. Their show will air from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays under its new name, “The Cheap Seats,” beginning June 20th.
Ed Levine, Galaxy Communications C.E.O. says, “We have now teamed the greatest sports brand in the world, ESPN, with the best local sports talk hosts in the Mohawk Valley.”
Fred Miller adds, “Local sports fans, coaches and parents now have a central location to stay on top of the local, regional and national sports scene.”
Miller and Conte have enthusiastically covered local sports in the area for five years under the “My Hometown Sports” banner. Conte will also come aboard as Program Director for the ESPN trimulcast heard on 1310 AM as WTLB, 1230AM in Little Falls as WIXT and 1350 AM in Rome on WRNY.
Dave Peroni will also join ESPN radio as the local play-by-play announcer for high school sports. Peroni says, “Fred Miller, Mean Gene and ESPN Radio…that formula spells the best sports coverage in the Mohawk Valley. I’m thrilled to still be a part of this team with so many additional expansion opportunities as ESPN Radio Utica.”
This won’t be the first time Peroni has worked with Miller and Conte; the trio worked together at the former Clear Channel Utica/Rome cluster’s SportsStars Network (which included WRNY and WIXT) and Peroni and Miller teamed up to call Utica College games for WIBX a few years ago.
As of yet, we haven’t received (or seen otherwise) any job postings at WIBX, so it’s not clear whether the station will hire a new PD outright, or if an internal promotion could result in the station hiring for a different position.
Here’s our original story from May 25, which appeared briefly until we were asked to retract the story because it wasn’t “official” yet.
Gene Conte Exiting WIBX to Join ESPN Radio Utica
UTICA/ROME — WIBX program director Gene Conte tells CNYRadio.com that he has submitted his two-weeks’ notice to management at the Townsquare Media station. “There’s no hard feelings” with Townsquare, said Conte, who has accepted “a similar position” across town at Galaxy Communications’ ESPN Radio affiliates WTLB (1310 Utica), WRNY (1350 Rome) and WIXT (1230 Little Falls).
Although Conte said he’ll be leaving in two weeks, it appears the locally-produced SportsWatch is already off the WIBX schedule. The station’s website now lists Sporting News Radio for the 6-8pm timeslot, and a quick tune-in to the station at about 6:10pm verifies the absence of SportsWatch.
Conte didn’t discuss the show when he spoke with CNYRadio.com, so it’s not clear if this is a permanent measure, or just a temporary hiatus. Conte declined to provide detail on exactly what he’ll be doing at ESPN Radio, explaining “I’ll let Galaxy handle that part of it when they’re ready.”
As of yet, no official comment from management on either side.