Dead air in South Tahoe: KOWL hopes to revive Viking broadcasts
Over the decades the citizens of South Lake Tahoe have warmed the winter months with the sounds of Viking basketball on the radio.
They tuned their radios first to KTHO in the 1980s, then to KOWL in 90s, but now as the new century is upon us, there is no STHS hoops to follow on the radio.
Some thought the radio broadcasts ended with Tom Orlich’s resignation this year, but that is not entirely true.
In fact, it came down to a monetary issue.
“We have new ownership,” said Jerry Hurwitz, KOWL’s news director and operations manager. “We had a new GM come in who was a dollar-and- cents guy, and he decided it wasn’t economically feasible to broadcast the games.”
What it came down to was an insufficient number of sponsors for the broadcasts to make money. In the past, the station has had as many as 10 business ready and willing to pay for advertising so the Vikings could be broadcast to the fans at home.
This year, however, the necessary sales weren’t made for one reason or another. The station realized halfway through the football season that it didn’t have enough sponsors to make it profitable in 2000.
“With the change-over the ball was dropped somewhere along the line,” Hurwitz said. “But we were committed to football until halfway through the season we realized we didn’t have as many sponsors as we needed.”
The longtime broadcasts helped build the lore of South Tahoe basketball, from the championships in 1987 and 92 to the countless league and preseason games, the exploits of STHS cagers have been heard all over the South Shore.
Hurwitz is hopeful that the tradition of airing Viking hoops is not dead forever. He said he is leading a push to re-establish the game broadcasts.
“We’ve always done football and basketball,” he said. “As the longtime local guy, I’m trying to impress upon them that we’re doing a service to the community and we shouldn’t worry about the money.
“Hopefully, we’ll be on the air by the time the division games start in January.”
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