Kraken, Climate Pledge Arena and iHeartMedia announce Sports Radio 950 KJR as audio home for all team home and away games, plus promotional partnership for concert and live entertainment at Climate Pledge Arena
By Bob Condor
Now hear this: Sports Radio 950 KJR will be the flagship station for Kraken fans with an affiliate network to be created across the Pacific Northwest.
In a multi-year regional partnership with the Kraken, Climate Pledge Arena and iHeartMedia, the deal also features promotional collaboration for more than 80 concerts and entertainment events each year at the city’s brand-new arena under its iconic, landmark roof.
The KJR flagship announcement comes three years—almost to the day—that 32,000 depositors in less than 24 hours cemented Seattle as the NHL’s 32nd franchise. As the 2021-22 inaugural season fast approaches—yes, true, can’t arrive soon enough—identifying the radio home for the Kraken is another vital milestone step.
“Since our ticket drive in 2018, iHeartMedia and KJR have been with us every step of the way,” said Tod Leiweke, Kraken CEO. “With hosts that are entertaining and informative, we have found the perfect home for our fans to listen to Kraken games, wherever they are.”
While 950 KJR will serve as the flagship home amplified by a Northwest region affiliate radio network, fans around the world will be able to stream all Kraken home and road games (including the postseason) via the iHeartRadio app. Selected games will be available on KJAQ-JACK-FM (96.5) and KJR will regularly broadcast from Climate Pledge Arena and Kraken Training Center to share team news and content.
It’s difficult to determine who is the most excited about the new arrangement. Let’s start with long-time KJR host and hockey fan Dave “Softy” Mahler: “
“Honestly it’s hard to put into words what this means to me,” said Mahler. “The minute Seattle was awarded a franchise I wanted the team on KJR. Seattle has been desperate for a winter sport and nobody in this city knows how to cover one better than us.
“You’ll see and hear the entire radio station, and our partners, get behind this. The passion that hockey fans bring combined with the enthusiasm of our staff is going to be off the charts bonkers. People are going to get a party every night the Kraken play. And I can’t wait to help throw it!!”
Kraken team broadcaster Everett Fitzhugh, hired last September, will be the radio voice for fans in the Seattle area, across the Northwest region and the globe as fueled by the iHeartRadio app. As someone who grew up in Detroit with his ear to Tigers baseball and Red Wings hockey broadcasts—tallying thousands of broadcasts—Fitzhugh is humbled and prepared to serve Kraken fans via KJR and iHeartMedia (a company that reaches nine of every 10 Americans each month).
“It’s a dream for me to be linking arms with the iHeart family and bringing Kraken hockey to life on SportsRadio 950 KJR,” said Fitzhugh, who will continue his digital host and community work for the team. “KJR is established as the premier sports station in the region. This partnership puts us in prime position to provide fans with an entertaining, engaging and informative game call every night. I can’t wait to get started!”
As honed from his previous hockey play-by-play work, including his last stop with Cincinnati of professional ECHL, Fitzhugh will bring his trademark high-octane passion and energy to each game.
“Broadcasting is a fun business,” said Fitzhugh. I want fans to know and feel that I genuinely enjoy being their radio voice for the Kraken. There is something so pure about listening to sports on the radio. As the play-by-play announcer, you’re painting the picture for the listener, and you’re responsible for putting them in the middle of the action.
“When I listened to radio announcers from around the NHL and others, like the great Ernie Harwell of the Detroit Tigers growing up, I always loved how they made me feel like I was front row at that game. For me, that’s the best aspect of this job—making every fan feel like they are in the arena every game.”
Fitzhugh, the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena have fans among top iHeartMedia executives too.
“We are extremely excited to bring Seattle’s newest professional franchise to the airwaves,” said Rich Moore, senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Seattle. “It will be beyond fun helping build up this great fan base from the start, offering additional content and unique access on multiple platforms.”
Moore has worked in the Seattle market since first starting out with the Sonics in the 1990s. He said he thinks the Kraken as an expansion franchise is a potent factor for connecting with fans.
“This city loves to support things we can call our own,” said Moore. “The fact the Kraken are born here will create tremendous loyalty. I think there is already a 12th man mania to it. And there is something [for a segment of fans] about learning a new sport while following the team.”
The partnership represents a big win for music and entertainment lovers. iHeartRadio joins as a key promotional partner, working closely with Climate Pledge Arena leaders to inform fans about upcoming concerts, shows and other events.
“We are thrilled to partner with iHeartMedia in Seattle and seeing its vast promotional power supporting the world-class music and events we intend to attract to Climate Pledge Arena,” said Rosie Selle, vice president of marketing for the new arena.
“I couldn’t be prouder to join forces with Seattle Kraken,” said Mark Glynn, market president for iHeartMedia Seattle. “This alliance not only encompasses Sports Radio 950 KJR as the flagship but also strategically aligns our brands with Climate Pledge Arena in a groundbreaking partnership.”
”Tod Leiweke and [Kraken COO] Victor de Bonis and their team have been incredible to work with in creating this partnership. I’ve been fortunate to see the level of passion our city, our state and our region have for Kraken. iHeartMedia Seattle is looking forward to the first puck drop and to the day Kraken hoist Lord Stanley!”