Football broadcasts expand

This year, the Yale Football Radio Network will spread Eli coverage across Connecticut.
This year, the Yale Football Radio Network will spread Eli coverage across Connecticut. Photo by YDN.

Nine years ago when Ron Vaccaro ’04 joined legendary Yale football coach Carm Cozza in the booth to call Yale football games on the radio, the Eli program was looking up. In 2006, the Bulldogs won a share of the Ivy League crown, capping their season with a 34–13 demolition of the Crimson in Cambridge. In the following year, the Elis played their way to a nine-game winning streak and came within one week of repeating as Ivy champions.

Since then, however, the Bulldogs have been mired in a slump, winless in The Game over the past six years. Yet while the team may be struggling on the field, its media coverage has just greatly expanded throughout the state of Connecticut. Beginning on Sept. 21 when the Elis travel to Colgate, Yale football broadcasts will spread past New Haven to much of the state through the newly created Yale Football Radio Network.

“I think it’s something we’ve always been interested in exploring,” Vaccaro said. “It’s really exciting to have … not just the geographical diversity and all that comes with the network, but it’s very exciting to have really two big radio groups in the state of Connecticut both interested in Yale football.”

With the agreement, Yale football’s flagship radio station will shift from WELI AM 960 to WABZ AM 1300, both of which are owned by Clear Channel Communications. Buckley Radio, an independently owned broadcast company, will air Vaccaro and Cozza over some of its stations as well: WDRC AM 1360, WWCO AM 1240, WMMW AM 1470, WSNG AM 610 and WDRC FM 102.9. The deal extends Yale football coverage into stations broadcasting out of Hartford, Waterbury, Meriden and Torrington.

Despite the newly expanded coverage of the team, Vaccaro stressed that he and Cozza would likely only make small changes to their broadcasts.

“I think what we’ve always tried to do, and in my opinion it works very well, is we put the game first,” Vaccaro said.

He said that he takes his lead from Cozza, the Hall of Fame coach, in making the broadcasts about the games and the athletes themselves. Vaccaro did note that he will make slight adjustments in his emphasis of players’ hometowns — with the expansion of coverage, he says he will now make more of an effort to play up the “Connecticut angle.”

Several players thought that the move would be positive for the team in the upcoming season.

“I don’t really focus on that sort of thing, but it’s always exciting to see Yale Athletics have a further presence in the local and national media,” wide receiver Cameron Sandquist ’14 said in a message to the News.

The agreement will last three years, through the close of the 2015 season.

“In this industry, three-year deals are pretty long deals,” Vaccaro said. “This is something that all three parties — Yale, Clear Channel and Buckley radio—are taking seriously and are investing a lot of effort in to make it really work well.”

The Bulldogs will kick off their season with the Yale Football Radio Network in place on Saturday, Sept. 21 away against Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y.

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