MANCHESTER, NH – Nashua’s loss is Manchester’s gain, as ESPN New Hampshire Radio announced it’s making a big move this spring, with plans to be broadcasting from Elm Street in time for baseball season’s opening day.
“We are the No. 1 station for Red Sox baseball in New Hampshire, so it’s important to launch opening day, and that’s a pretty good goal for us,” said Jim Censabella, managing partner with ESPN New Hampshire Radio which is owned by Absolute Broadcasting, and also includes WGAM and WGHM (900 AM in Nashua and 1250 AM in Manchester.)
A third station, WSMN 1590 AM, will continue to broadcast its news and talk format from Nashua, Censabella said.
“We want WSMN to stay in Nashua, but we hope to find a new home for the station, a business or someone who wants to have a studio sponsorship, also with glass front space,” Censabella said.
By moving its sports talk operations to the Queen City, ESPN New Hampshire will fill the gaping hole left on Elm Street when Music & Arts moved from the old Ted Herbert’s storefront to March Avenue off South Willow Street last fall.
Censabella said the decision to relocate from Nashua was based on the station’s growth plans as well as its proximity to Manchester’s resident hometown teams, the Manchester Monarchs and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
“Being in Nashua was a great starting place, but Manchester is a bigger hub with more access to great sports teams, including the Fisher Cats and Monarchs. In that way it’s a better fit for our model, which offers not only radio advertising but multiplatform, in-house marketing,” Censabella said.
He credits ESPN New Hampshire managing partner and real estate developer, Tom Monahan, for having the vision to purchase the building at the corner of Elm and Stark, which includes a spacious ground floor to house the state-of-the-art radio station, with enough room leftover to sublet to another tenant.
“There’s still a good amount of space we went to lease, and as word gets out we’re getting a lot of good feedback so far. Having a business like ESPN will attract a lot of other businesses to the downtown in the long run,” Censabella said.
The best part, according to Censabella, will be the fishbowl effect of the storefront windows, allowing passersby to see the sports/talk radio station in action.
“It’s one of the most known buildings in Manchester, and it will be interactive with folks on the street. We’ll have live shows along with syndicated shows, and it will be open for the folks of New Hampshire to stop by any time and see how we operate,” Censabella said.
Add to that ESPN’s affiliation with Boston sports teams, and Censabella sees a future that includes continued growth – not only for the station, but for relationships within the community.
Both he and Monahan are committed to giving back, serving on several boards for charitable organizations, and are especially intent on partnering with organizations in Manchester that assist kids who are involved in sports but who may have extenuating circumstances, such as parents out of work, or illness in the family.
“And being in Manchester, we will have the opportunity to team up with Mayor Gatsas and the Police Athletic League and bring more awareness and more opportunity to the city, and help generate money for these organizations,” Censabella said.
“We also want to really make it a place to honor New Hampshire’s past sports athletes in any sports, maybe holding autograph sessions, and such. It’s a great hub for that kind of clientele and sports entertainment,” he said.
Although there is a solid staff assembled already, making the move to Manchester, Censabella said they will be looking for new talent, including on-air and sales and marketing reps.
“Down the road we’ll have a contest to come up with a radio show host who be able to some off-site kind of work as well, at local pubs and bars. Whoever wins will have the opportunity to do a show on our station,” said Censabella.
Stay tuned, Manchester.