If you live outside of the Triangle area of North Carolina, you’d be excused if you didn’t really care that much about the radio station that carries the Tar Heel Sports network football and basketball games. Those of us living in the area where UNC is housed, however, had gotten used to a certain rhythm of the season. While the THSN considered WCHL its flagship, the small reach of its band meant that most folks in the area had to reach for another station to listen to games.
For decades those stations were ones that were owned by iHeartRadio, first 100.7 and then eventually 106.1. In recent years, 106.1 changed from a classic rock station to a talk radio format, and whatever your political bent it sure seemed like college sports weren’t a great fit on a station making its hey on political opinion. Contracts are contracts, though, and until the one UNC had signed was done iHeart could put it wherever they wanted.
On Tuesday it became clear that contract was up, because UNC and Learfield announced that they have a new home in the Triangle.
— UNC Tar Heels (@GoHeels) July 27, 2021
We're excited to partner with Curtis Media Group to make @WPTF 98.5 FM/680 AM our new flagship station for @TarHeelFootball & @UNC_Basketball
» https://t.co/IvNv9iobuw#GoHeels pic.twitter.com/ZLoDCjbnfg
The move is notable for several reasons. First and foremost, the station that the majority of folks in the triangle will go to is owned not only by a North Carolinian, but a UNC alumnus in Don Curtis. Curtis served two terms on the UNC Board of Trustees, and has made several gifts to the school. As the main hub for the Tar Heels, chances are the games won’t be seen as just a property for the group, but as somewhat of an honor which should help UNC in the promotion of events and coach’s shows.
The other thing notable about this move is that the actual station carrying the games will be WPTF 98.5 FM. Fans of a certain age...you know older folks like yours truly...will remember that WPTF used to be the home for NC State Athletics. Their move over to Capital Broadcasting’s 99.9 and 101.5 allowed the Tar Heels to go over to the News station, which also had to make Curtis smile.
The Tar Heels won’t be leaving their flagship roots, though, despite the tricky wording of that tweet. WCHL will still be carrying Carolina games, as the Voice of the Tar Heels and the station itself quickly clarified.
After some confusion surrounding a UNC press release, 97.9 The Hill WCHL and https://t.co/PkP9YGcDwP would like to confirm: we remain the flagship station for Tar Heel sports.https://t.co/QAnHfAfozH— WCHL & Chapelboro (@WCHLChapelboro) July 27, 2021
Also, want to clarify a couple things regarding the affiliate change...— Jones Angell (@JonesAngell) July 27, 2021
1. This is in the Triangle. We do not anticipate any other major affiliate changes
2. Our great partner @WCHLChapelboro is still an affiliate on the THSN
3. All streaming options will still be available
The news that WCHL is still carrying games is good news, as they have great post game coverage that has included our own Jake Lawrence.
Overall, good news for everyone involved as the station switch should allow for a better fit, a UNC alumnus is now the Triangle flagship, and fans used to WCHL will still be able to listen to the Chapel Hill Station provide coverage.
The best part? We are only a few weeks away from actually listening to games on these stations!