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Aggies sports have new radio homes

New Mexico State University sports fans will have to turn their radio dials to find the Aggies in 2015-16.

Because of its recent affiliation with Learfield Sports, NMSU’s sports coverage network has changed significantly around the state. School officials Tuesday unveiled a new Albuquerque-area broadcast partner for football and men’s basketball in KDSK (1240 AM and 93.7 FM) for the coming seasons.

Aggies games had been broadcast on KQTM (101.7 FM) in recent seasons, but NMSU’s switch to Learfield prompted a change. New Mexico State and Learfield announced a multimedia rights partnership earlier this summer.

It’s a new undertaking for KDSK, an oldies-format station that is still building a presence in Albuquerque. Owner Derek Underhill said the station began its New Mexico broadcasting in Grants but added the 1240 AM station in Albuquerque in 2012 and picked up 93.7 FM as a translator this summer.

“It’s exciting,” Underhill said of adding NMSU sports broadcasts. “We’re an oldies station and radio used to carrying music, news and sports. Adding the Aggies gives us full-service programming.”

Underhill said his stations will carry full Aggies broadcasts, including pre- and postgame shows. KDSK’s AM signal does not cut power at night and its FM signal broadcasts from Sandia Crest, which should provide for strong coverage throughout the metro area and beyond, Underhill said.

“We’re hoping Aggies fans will tune is in and give us a new audience,” Underhill said.

KDSK in Grants carries University of New Mexico sports broadcasts, and UNM also is partnered with Learfield Sports. That connection led Learfield to contact Underhill about picking up Aggies games in the Albuquerque area when KQTM opted not to continue its broadcast agreement this year.

KQTM president Joe O’Neill said New Mexico State’s partnership with Learfield changed the terms of his station’s arrangement with the Aggies.

“We weren’t able to get answers to some key questions in a timely fashion,” O’Neill said, “so we decided to go in a different direction.”

O’Neill said not being committed to lengthy NMSU football broadcasts will allow KQTM to carry more “high-profile” college football games this season. He also hopes to add live state high school basketball coverage in March. The state tournament conflicted with New Mexico State games during the Western Athletic Conference Tournament last season.

NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said the revamped Aggie sports network remains a work in progress. The school announced affiliates in Alamogordo, Carlsbad and Gallup for the coming football and men’s basketball seasons Tuesday, but Moccia hopes to add northern New Mexico and El Paso stations to the network, along with Spanish-language broadcasts.

“We only signed with Learfield two months ago,” Moccia said, “so they’ve kind of been thrown into the blender as far as securing coverage for this season. I feel like they’ve done a great job in a short time, and I know there are more announcements to come in terms of television and radio coverage.”

Moccia said New Mexico State’s broadcast agreement with KDSK is for one year, meaning Aggies broadcasts could change stations again next fall. O’Neill did not rule out airing NMSU sports on KQTM again in the future.

“Both sides are open to discussing it,” he said. “We’ve had a great relationship with NMSU, and we wish them nothing but the best this year with their new partner.”

Aggies football and men’s basketball will be aired on KWML (570 AM) and K283CG (104.5 FM) in Las Cruces this season. Longtime NMSU sports voice Jack Nixon again will handle the play by play.