What Happened To 790 The Ticket

Miami sports fans were shocked when popular AM sports talk station 790 The Ticket suddenly announced it would be going off the air after 18 years and switching to a Spanish language format. This ended the station’s era as the go-to destination for South Florida sports chatter and games.

So what exactly happened to 790 The Ticket? This article explores the history of 790 The Ticket, from its launch in 2004 as an upstart competitor to Miami sports radio incumbent WQAM, through various programming changes and lineup shakeups, culminating in its surprising format flip that silenced The Ticket’s sports talk reign.

The Early Days: Launching Miami’s First All-Sports AM Station

Back in 2004, a group of investors purchased AM signal 790 and decided to take on rival station WQAM by launching Miami’s first 24/7 sports talk outlet. 790 The Ticket hit the airwaves providing fans a station dedicated entirely to discussion of local favorites like the Miami Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Hurricanes.

The station distinguished itself from WQAM by airing both ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio programming. 790 The Ticket also invested heavily in cultivating top local talent, from hosting The Dan Le Batard Show featuring Stugotz to building distinctive personalities like Jonathan Zaslow.

The Ticket made waves when it became the flagship station for the Miami Marlins in 2007 after the baseball team grew tired of WQAM’s priority focus on the Miami Dolphins. That coup, along with a subsequent deal in 2010 to become the radio home of the rising Miami Heat and LeBron James, signaled that 790 The Ticket had planted its flag firmly in Miami’s sports radio battles.

Of Ownership Changes and Programming Shifts

The Ticket’s early mover advantage and rebels vs establishment dynamic with WQAM fueled ratings success through much of the 2010s. However, behind the scenes changes would slowly erode the station’s standing.

In 2017, corporate consolidation hit South Florida sports radio when Entercom merged with CBS and gained control over both 790 The Ticket and rival WQAM. Suddenly the two heated competitors were owned by the same company.

This led Entercom to tinker with the AM sports radio landscape by moving shows back and forth between The Ticket and WQAM. In 2019, WQAM took ESPN Radio affiliation while most local programs shifted to 790. But then in 2021, Entercom did another about face, moving high profile shows like Zaslow back to WQAM while The Ticket turned to sports betting content and national programs.

The years of ownership shuffling and format experimentation destabilized talent rosters and listening habits. 790 The Ticket struggled to reclaim its initial upstart mojo through all the changes imposed from above.

2022: The Surprising End of 790 The Ticket Era

The final nail in 790 The Ticket’s coffin came suddenly in late September 2022. Owner Audacy, previously known as Entercom, announced a bombshell format change: As of October 3rd, AM 790 would flip from sports talk to becoming a Spanish language station branded Radio Libre 790.

Miami sports radio insiders were shocked at the move. After 18 years of 790 The Ticket being the feisty, flip-flopping sports talk alternative to WQAM’s stalwart status, Audacy was pulling the plug.

Some clues leading up to the change were evident in retrospect. In August 2022, the Miami Heat announced they were moving flagship status from The Ticket to WQAM starting with the 2022-23 season. Later that month, WQAM dropped midday host Jonathan Zaslow while shifting The Ticket morning team of Brendan Tobin and Leroy Hoard into his slot.

So despite rumors and worries given the recent instability, faithful Ticket listeners were stunned at how suddenly the axe fell on Miami’s scrappy sports radio contender. The move left WQAM the sole AM sports talk station in the region.

Switch To Spanish Conservative Talk Radio Libre 790

The plans for 790’s next act involve Le Batard and Stugotz castoff Dan Bongino. Radio Libre 790 will air conservative talk shows geared toward Spanish speaking audiences.

This continues Audacy’s commitment to serve Miami’s large Latino community while also replacing sports content with ideological commentary formats. Critics wonder whether conservative talk can thrive when even English language attempts have failed to stick in the market.

Radio Libre 790 represents a partnership between station owner Audacy and Americano Media. Americano markets itself as the Spanish language equivalent to rabble-rousing right wing talkers.

Early shows featured controversial commentators like Pedro Moreno and social media personality John Fredericks broadcasting in Spanish. Given Mkiami’s political diversity, Radio Libre 790 already courts controversy going on the air.

Lasting Impact and Legacy of 790 The Ticket

The demise of 790 The Ticket leaves behind 18 years worth of memories and legacy in Miami sports radio. For a generation of local fans, The Ticket represented a meeting place to passionately debate Dwyane Wade’s last shot or who the Dolphins should draft each year.

Beyond the fan perspective, The Ticket incubation of leading on-air talents like Dan LeBatard leaves a profound fingerprint. Stars nurtured at The Ticket have gone on to network jobs or influential podcast platforms. The boundaries they pushed with show creativity inspires sports radio programming to this day.

So as Miami listeners lament the loss of having 790 The Ticket on the AM dial, its heritage will live on through podcast archives and sports radio’s transformation. The Ticket proved multiline station owners wrong that a scrappy, local personality-driven station could resonate in a fragmented media landscape.

Even without 790 The Ticket’s existence, sports radio in Miami continues to feel its impact. From the DNA of shows that jumped to WQAM to the podcast diaspora, The Ticket’s legacy persists beyond its run.

What Happened to 790 The Ticket Hosts and Staff?

The demise of 790 The Ticket left popular hosts like Jonathan Zaslow, Amber Wilson, Joy Taylor and Chris Wittyngham without an AM platform.

Zaslow spent 18 years with The Ticket, spanning evenings, mornings, and finally landing in the midday chair. As referenced earlier, WQAM jettisoned Zaslow in September 2022 shortly before The Ticket flipped formats. After nearly two decades talking local Miami sports radio, Zaslow must find a new professional home.

Other 790 The Ticket names are weighing their next moves after the station left the air. Websites like Barrett Sports Media track where former Ticket contributors may pop up next around the wider sports media ecosystem. Industry shakeups often lead to reconfigured lineups, so former Ticket voices could resurface.

Is This Truly the Last We’ve Heard of 790 The Ticket?

Miami is known for many things, but stability in radio formats isn’t one of them. As referenced earlier, 790 AM has cycled through many call signs and formats since first going on the air in 1925.

So few are willing to state this is the permanent end of sports radio at AM 790. The same fickle corporate ownership that pulled the plug could just as easily resuscitate The Ticket if the Spanish conservative talk experiment fails to get ratings traction.

WQAM no longer having a cross-town rival also decreases the station’s edge to invest in original local programming. If WQAM rests on its sports radio monopoly in Miami, an opportunity for AM 790 could remerge down the line.

For now, the wise approach seems patiently optimistic. Radio properties in large markets like Miami don’t stay static forever. As we’ve learned, The Ticket falling might simply plant the seeds for its next rise phoenix-style from the media ashes.

Key Takeaways: The Life and Death of Miami’s 790 The Ticket

  • Popular Miami sports talk station 790 The Ticket flipped to Spanish language at start of October 2022 after 18 year run
  • Station was owned by Audacy, which consolidated ownership of rival WQAM leading to years of format shuffling
  • The Ticket cultivated famous local shows like LeBatard and developed personalities that impact industry
  • Conservative talk Radio Libre 790 replaces sports but skepticism exists on viability of new format
  • Could evolving media landscape like podcasting and ownership change allow a 790 Ticket return?

So for Miami sports radio listeners feeling orphaned by the loss of The Ticket, take heart. The legacy lives on through WQAM and podcasts while AM 790 could easily complete another sports talk revival when the time is right.

The peculiar past and present of Miami’s 790 The Ticket reminds us how quickly media outlets can vanish in today’s digital climate. But enduring influence through talent and audience relationships predict more chapters still to be written.

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