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UND finalizes radio rights deal with iHeart Media

The Fighting Hawks signed a four-year contract with a pair of two-year options that could take it to eight years.

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UND hockey radio play-by-play announcer Tim Hennessy (left) interviews Fighting Hawks men's hockey coach Brad Berry at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
UND athletics
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GRAND FORKS — UND has finalized a contract to keep its radio rights with iHeart Media.

The contract is for four years with a pair of two-year options that could take it up to eight years.

UND will pay $69,000 in flagship fees and $21,000 in affiliate fees the first two years of the deal. Those totals will go up to $71,000 and $23,000 for the third year and $73,000 and $23,000 for the fourth year.

UND, in turn, sells ad spots during broadcasts and retains the revenue from the sales.

UND football and men's hockey games will be carried on The Fox (96.1 FM) in Grand Forks as well as on affiliate stations in Bismarck, Minot and Dickinson. Women's and men's basketball will be on Cat Country (100.3 FM). Volleyball, softball and the weekly, hour-long coaches show will be on The Fan (1440 AM).

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Broadcasts also will be carried on the iHeart app.

"Continuing our partnership with iHeart as the flagship radio station for UND athletics is an exciting day for us,” UND athletic director Bill Chaves said. "In addition, the ability to tap into iHeart’s vast radio network was an attractive added feature to this process. We look forward to working with the iHeart team to provide our fans with the best radio coverage possible."

Two entities bid for the radio rights — iHeart and Leighton Broadcasting.

In a scoring system featuring three categories — approach to work (65 percent), experience/qualifications (10 percent) and cost summary (25 percent) — iHeart outscored Leighton 78.22 to 69.06.

On June 23, UND informed both parties it intended to award the rights to iHeart. It finalized the deal this week.

The contract spells out a number of required on-air promotions across iHeart radio stations, including ticket giveaways, in-studio conversations with UND athletes and weekend preview spots.

UND employs and provides the on-air talent for the live broadcasts.

Tim Hennessy is the longtime voice of the UND men's hockey team. Jack Michaels calls Fighting Hawks football and women's basketball games. Paul Ralston calls UND men's basketball.

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UND football games will carry one-hour pregame and postgame shows. Men's hockey and men's and women's basketball games will have 30-minute pregame and postgame shows.

UND is expected to further bolster its affiliates by adding non-iHeart partners in cities that do not have iHeart stations — like Fargo.

UND is still finalizing its television rights deal with Midco. That is expected to be finished within a week. UND informed Midco on June 23 it intended to keep its TV rights with the network.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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