For the first time in franchise history, the radio broadcast of a number of Timberwolves games will not be on traditional AM or FM radio. The organization is taking its broadcasts in a different direction.
As part of a new multimedia partnership with iHeartRadio, all Wolves and Lynx games will be broadcast on a new iHeartRadio channel within the company's app that the Wolves and Lynx are labeling as a one-stop place for the teams' content.
As part of the agreement, select Wolves games will be broadcast on KFXN 100.3-FM, the iHeartRadio station better known as KFAN, which takes over the designation as Wolves flagship station from WCCO 830-AM.
Wolves games were on KFAN from 1991-2011 before moving to WCCO (830 AM).
The radio broadcasts will also be available through the Wolves and Lynx team apps as well.
"We'll be creating a new, let's call it, a 24-7-365 content channel on the iHeartRadio app, and that's going to be providing Timberwolves and Lynx fans updated news, unlimited team content," Wolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson said.
The shift away from traditional radio broadcasts marks a first-of-its-kind step for an NBA franchise, as the organization is placing an emphasis on reaching fans via this new channel on the iHeartRadio app. Casson said the team is attempting to engage with audiences in a way that goes beyond just the radio broadcast of games.
"People traditionally aren't consuming television, radio like they've consumed before. They're doing it differently. They want optionality, they want to customize it," Casson said. "They want to go to it when they want to go to it. They want to have different technologies, different platforms and mediums and I think this leans into that. This is us evolving our thinking, approach and strategy in the broadcast, radio and content space."
KFAN will also broadcast select Lynx games, marking the Lynx's return to radio for the first time since 2019.
The live broadcast schedule for KFAN during the fall and winter is already a crowded one, as the station broadcasts the Vikings, Wild, Gophers football and Gophers basketball. Casson emphasized that the new partnership with the Wolves and KFAN will not supersede those partnerships and deals KFAN has in place with other teams, and Wolves games will be broadcast on the station in windows where other teams are not playing.
For instance, the Wild and Wolves play on the same day 31 times. The number of Wolves games that will air on KFAN has not been finalized.
Alan Horton will return for his 17th season to call Wolves games on all platforms they air.
"We'll work around those teams," Casson said. "They have long-standing partnerships. We respect those partnerships and we're fans of those partnerships. We'll look at the schedule and see what works inside of games that can be broadcast on KFAN and look at the other platforms — the iHeartRadio channel, the Timberwolves and Lynx team app. …
"From my seat, if there are more games one year that clear the KFAN signal than not, great. But we're just looking at this in a completely different lens."
That lens is getting fans to engage with the team more through the new channel. Part of the content on it will likely be the scheduled appearances Wolves and Lynx players, coaches and front office personnel make on KFAN and other iHeartMedia stations.
"I'm not sure we would necessarily have looked at it quite like this two years ago, three years ago," Casson said. "It was really time to take a step back and go, 'How do we grow our fanbase? How do we grow the Timberwolves, Lynx fanbase? How do we become a 365-day conversation here in the Twin Cities and beyond?' "
When asked if this meant the franchise was OK with the fact that all of its games would not be available on traditional radio, Casson replied, "Correct."
"We know they won't be," Casson said. "We won't know exactly what number [of games] that entails, and I want to be really clear, the partnerships they have with the professional sports teams and the Gophers are great partnerships and we respect those. We're looking at this as a more multi-faceted, distribution-based partnership that has a lot of different ways you can consume Timberwolves and Lynx content."