"It is truly a win-win situation for everybody involved," said Asbill. "For fans, it is a tremendous win because of the expanded coverage. We are picking up so many more areas in North Carolina that were either underserved or unserved by the WPTF signal.
"For the sponsors and advertisers it is a significant win because of the value we will now bring to them from the coverage perspective and the reach is much stronger. For NC State, now Wolfpack Sports Marketing is able to package up network inventory and local inventory, and we can integrate local radio spots here with various promotions that can provide value to NC State and increase revenue."
Despite the advantages, Asbill admitted the move was difficult to make because of the long-standing relationship between Wolfpack Sports Marketing and WPTF. However WRAL-101.5 is owned by Capitol Broadcasting Corp., the same company that owns Wolfpack Sports Marketing, and that played a pivotal role in the final decision. WPTF is owned by Curtis Media Group.
"Every year we reveiew the Wolfpack Sports Network, who we are with, how is the coverage, and what we can do differently," said Asbill. "It is a big puzzle and you try to put all the pieces together. For us, Capitol, our parent company, has held the radio distribution rights for the Wolfpack Sports Network for the past 20-plus years. WPTF has carried NC State games for over 40-plus years. There is a tremendous respect for that history and tradition. We have worked together for a long period of time, and you want to be respectful of that and you want to maintain those relationships for as long as possible because those long-term commitments are very rare in today's society. In some markets you may change affiliates every two or three years, so you want to be respectful of that.
"At the same time, you reach a point where there are things you want to accomplish for the best interest of NC State. You have to evaluate if you need to go in another direction. There was a lot of history with WPTF, and there have been a lot of great moments with NC State athletics and WPTF. This is a strategic opportunity to move forward. It enables Wolfpack Sports Marketing and NC State to better control the program, marketing platforms, and every area that we need to continue developing and building. For us it was certainly a strategic move where we can see that we have a better opportunity to grow our product by making this move."
The driving force behind the final decision appears to be what should be a substantial increase in advertising revenue.
"Our primary role here is that we're the corporate sales team for NC State athletics," Asbill said of Wolfpack Sports Marketing. "It's our job to generate revenue for NC State through corporate sponsorships. Obviously fans come in contact with us many ways, and in-game broadcasts are one of the best ways to encounter us.
"When you look at the structure of a radio deal, there are really two components of it. When you hear commercial breaks on the radio during the game broadcasts, some of them are network breaks. Those are your Coke's, Alltel's, State Farm... all of those guys. Those are sold through Wolfpack Sports Marketing, and those are the advertisements aired across the state. All the affiliates, anytime when we go to commercial break, air those advertisements. Those are heard on all 30-35 stations across the state."
"Another piece of the broadcasting is the local inventory," he added. "A radio station has commercial positions that they also keep and resale in their own market. The biggest change here, and where the upside potential is for NC State from a revenue perspective, is that all the local advertising that used to be sold by WPTF and kept by Curtis Media will now be sold through Wolfpack Sports Marketing which then goes directly back in and benefits NC State. That is the most dramatic change, from a revenue perspective, for NC State."
How much more revenue will the switch generate for NC State athletics? Asbill feels it is too early to say, but everyone involved will be meeting in the near future to start establishing target goals.
"We will set targets, we will get with NC State, we will sit down with WRAL, and we will put our heads together and figure out how we want to do our programming to provide the best value for everyone and generate the most revenue. That is the next step for us, and we will evaluate all of those aspects."