Tigers changing channels

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 1, 2006

For many years football fans have tuned into 106.5 on the FM dial to catch their Tiger football action. But a change in stations will mark the first time in nearly 40 years that Demopolis High School football will not be broadcast on local radio.

The broadcasting of Demopolis High football will change from 106.5 WZNJ to 99.1 WDGM out of Tuscaloosa, head football coach Doug Goodwin confirmed on Tuesday.

“The local station did not want to put us on FM,” said Mike Grayson, who teamed with Mike Randall to announcer a majority of Tiger football games. “They’d made an offer to Coach Goodwin and [Principal] Dr. [Isaac] Espy to put us on an AM station. We really wanted to be on the local station, but we just couldn’t get it worked out.”

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The school’s decision came as a shock to the owners of WZNJ.

“We presented them a package where they can make their money,” said Jimbo Ward, whose wife, Amy Ward, owns a trio of radio stations – 106.5 FM, 98.1 FM and AM1400. “We presented them a proposal for airtime. We figured they could make upward of $10,000.”

According to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Demopolis Times, the Ward’s offered the Tiger football program a slot on WXAL AM1400 on Friday night from 6:45 to 10:15 p.m.

“We are in the process of making WXAL AM1400 a sports/talk radio station,” said Ward. “DHS on WAXL was a natural fit.”

According to the proposal, WAXL would produce the show while DHS would provide on-air talent. Demopolis High School would also receive a majority of the sponsorship money.

In addition, WAXL agreed to broadcast baseball, softball and men’s and women’s basketball.

Grayson said Espy and Goodwin authorized he and Randall to look for a new radio outlet for Tiger football.

“Our broadcast team thought it would be hard selling sponsorships for an AM station,” said Goodwin. “Most of the people [Grayson and Randall] had spoken with felt like they wanted their advertising to be on FM.”

Goodwin said Tuscaloosa could be a market in which the Tigers could grow their fan base.

“I think we may gain listeners,” said Goodwin. “I don’t think anybody that wanted to listen to our games has a preference as to which station the game’s on as long as they can still get it.”

WDGM Sales Manager Lee Foster and Operations Manager Greg Thomas could not be reached for comment.

The No. 9 Demopolis High School Tigers will make their Class 5A debut this fall on Sept. 1 against Sumter County High School in Demopolis.

“We’re saddened by the fact that Demopolis High School isn’t going to be on a Demopolis radio station,” said Ward. “I think the people would have listened to the Demopolis Tigers if it had been on a string in a tin can.”