|Broadcast area||Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex/|
|Branding||"ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM"|
|Slogan||"First For Sports in Dallas/Fort Worth"|
Dallas Mavericks (NBA)
NFL on Westwood One Sports
|Owner||The Walt Disney Company |
(KESN Assets, LLC)
First air date
|December 1, 1981 (as 92.1 KEMM)|
Former call signs
Call sign meaning
|Entertainment and Sports Programming Network|
(full name of ESPN)
|HAAT||606 meters (1,988 ft)|
KESN (103.3 MHz) is a commercial FM sports talk radio station. It is owned by The Walt Disney Company as an ESPN Radio station. It is licensed to Allen, Texas, and serves the Dallas-Fort Worth radio market. From October 8, 2013, to October 7, 2020, Cumulus Media operated the station via a Local Management Agreement, although Disney retained ownership. The station's studios are located in the Victory Park district of Dallas, just north of downtown, and the transmitter site is located southeast of Collinsville, Texas, in Grayson County.
The station first signed on the air on December 1, 1981, as KEMM. From 1981-2000, KEMM was licensed to Commerce, Texas, and at first, broadcast at 92.1 MHz. The station aired a country music format.
KEMM went silent on September 28, 2000. The city of license and tower were moved to Allen, Texas, in 2001. The station was re-launched on April 27, 2001, as 103.3 KESN with a new all sports format. Fourteen outlying stations were rearranged and relocated to make way for KESN to move into DFW, all at ABC/Disney's expense. Among KESN's most notable local programs was Galloway and Company, hosted by Randy Galloway until his retirement in October 2013.
Previously, despite different owners and a merger of ABC Radio Networks to Citadel Broadcasting; KESN, WBAP (AM), and WFAA-TV maintained a strong partnership (as WFAA is the local ABC television affiliate). In early 2006, 103.3 ESPN welcomed WFAA-TV personality Dale Hansen, a former Dallas Cowboys radio analyst and host on rival station KTCK, to the station. KTCK had become the Cowboys' flagship station, and many speculated that Hansen leaving KTCK for KESN was due to his criticism of the team. The official explanation, however, was that Hansen's ratings did not justify his salary request.
Beginning in the 2011 Major League Baseball season, KESN and KZMP acquired the rights to broadcast all Texas Rangers baseball games for the next four years. English-language broadcasts aired on KESN while the Spanish-language broadcasts were heard on KZMP. These broadcasts were in addition to the Dallas Mavericks broadcasts that were already heard on KESN. Rangers games remained on KESN until the 2015 season, when they returned to KRLD-FM.
Until mid-2011, KESN broadcast in HD Radio, with its HD2 signal simulcasting KZMP (ESPN Deportes Radio) and its HD3 substation broadcasting an audio simulcast of ESPNews. For reasons unknown, the HD broadcasts were discontinued.
On August 7, 2013, it was announced that Cumulus Media, owner of KESN's rival KTCK, would take over operations of ESPN 103.3 through a long-term local marketing agreement (LMA) with Disney, beginning on October 8. Programming on both stations would remain the same. The change took effect once Cumulus closed on the sale of FM station KTDK 104.1 of Sanger to Whitley Media. However, on September 20, 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rejected the sale citing that the license transfer was not a true sale in that all economic risk would remain with Cumulus as Whitley would get the same brokerage fee regardless of the price the station would have sold for. Cumulus would remain the de facto owner of the station. Eventually, the license of KTDK 104.1 was cancelled, and its call sign was deleted by the FCC on October 18, 2013, at the request of Cumulus.
Its former sister station KZMP (1540 AM) aired Spanish language sports programming until September 2016, when it was flipped to a Regional Mexican format. The change left the DFW market without an ESPN Deportes Radio affiliate until its re-affiliation in July 2018. ESPN Deportes Radio discontinued its radio broadcasts in September 2019.
All local programming on KESN ended on October 7, 2020, following the expiration of the LMA with Cumulus. The station then began broadcasting an all-national format except for Dallas Mavericks games. Prior to the end of local programming on KESN, share ratings for KESN's primary shows lagged behind that of KTCK, Sportsradio 1310 "The Ticket", KESN's chief sports talk radio rival in the Dallas/Fort Worth market. In ratings books, KESN had higher cume than KTCK, meaning that while more total people may have listened to KESN at various points throughout the day, roughly twice as many people were listening to KTCK at any given time.
Unlike most of the area's FM stations, which transmit their signals from Cedar Hill, KESN transmits its signal from an area east of Collinsville. Therefore, KESN's signal is much stronger in the northern parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, including Dallas, Decatur, Denton, and McKinney. The signal is also strong in cities further north and outside of the Metroplex such as Gainesville, Sherman, and Bonham, to as far north as Ardmore and Durant in Oklahoma, In Fort Worth and areas south of Dallas, the station's signal is considerably weaker, which has caused problems for some of its listeners in these areas following live sporting events on KESN.