For the first time in years, NASCAR races will have a common radio home in Charlotte beginning with Sunday’s Daytona 500.
IHeartRadio and its broadcast partners plan to announce Friday that WEND-FM (“End” 106.5) will carry all the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitions provided by rival racing networks Performance Racing Network and Motor Racing Network, both based in Concord.
Lasting through the 2017 season, the deal includes 38 race Sprint Cup events annually, including the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 in May and the Bank of America 500 in October, all at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Various stations in Charlotte carried some of the races in recent years, but only WHRM-FM (“Interstate” 107.1 FM) in Rock Hill was a prime carrier, and its signal didn’t carry deep into North Carolina.
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WEND-FM’s transmitter in China Grove, by contrast, throws a powerful 84,000-watt signal across the region and is audible along the I-85 corridor to Greensboro.
“It’s a huge, beautiful signal,” says Cheryl Knight, director of radio partnerships for MRN.
WEND-FM plays classic rock and is aimed at a younger demographic, which the motorsports industry is trying to attract.
“It makes sense from a marketing perspective,” says Charlie Wilkinson, regional market manager for iHeartRadio’s Charlotte stations. “There’s a lot of synergy between the two.”
Wilkinson says he thinks the new format for NASCAR races has begun to attract more fans and the popularity of the sport is rising.
Doug Rice, president of PRN, says it was important to bring total radio coverage to motorsports fans in Charlotte, considered the heart of the sport.
“It’s only fitting that the millions of fans across our markets have a consistent place to find NASCAR broadcasts on the radio,” says Tim Schuldt, vice president of sales at Charlotte Motor Speedway.