R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know it” played in a two-song loop on New Orleans-area radio station WMTI-FM, 106.1 for most of Wednesday and until 3 p.m. Thursday, heralding a format change from sports talk to alternative rock.
Apparently, it did not represent the end of WMTI carrying Tulane football games and coach Curtis Johnson’s weekly show despite a major glitch Wednesday evening.
After technical difficulties prevented the station from airing the 2015 debut of the Curtis Johnson Show — it did appear on 1580-AM— a station executive confirmed to The New Orleans Advocate on Thursday. WMTI still plans to broadcast all of the Green Wave’s football games, honoring the remaining year of its contract. Whether it also airs Tulane basketball games — also part of that contract — remains to be seen.
Tulane’s baseball and women’s basketball games are broadcast on public radio station WRBH-FM, 88.3.
“It’s not uncommon for other schools to be on non-sports radio,” Tulane associate athletic director Brandon Macneill said. “I would assume that after this year we will have a different home, but we do expect until that time they will honor the contract.”
Known as The Ticket, WMTI became the Wave’s flagship station in 2013. The New Orleans-area station, which has its tower in Slidell, is part of the Cumulus Media Group, which is based in Atlanta and is one of the largest radio station operators in the country.
Macneill said Tulane heard about the impending format change about a month before it happened but struggled to get anyone from Cumulus to confirm it. They did get assurances Cumulus would honor the contract.
“We specifically talked about the coaches’ shows and we were assured that there would not be a problem,” Macneill said. “As it relates to last night, it was very frustrating, and we had a very hard time getting hold of anybody.
“I don’t know all the technical stuff, but from what I understand, with the changing of the format and not the same people that have been there, there was some confusion.”
Fans can access Tulane games with the Tunein App for their cell phones and Tunein.com for their computer, but for traditional radio listeners, WTMI-FM, 106.1 will be the spot for the season opener against Duke next Thursday, every other football game this year and the Curtis Johnson show.
“That is my assumption,” Macneill said. “I no longer am going to say anything with 100 percent certainty.”
Tulane’s flagship station was WWL-AM, 870 from 1983 to 2000 before changing to WTIX-AM 690 in 2001. That station changed its call letters to WIST in 2006, serving as Tulane’s flagship station through 2012 until a format change to religious programming from sports talk prompted Tulane to look elsewhere.
WTMI’s switch has left the Wave in a similar position.
“We like being on (a sports talk radio station) because it is good synergy,” Macneill said.
Waiting their turn
Johnson said he likes his freshman class, but probably not enough to start any of them in the season opener against Duke next Thursday.
Their inability to unseat returning players, he said, represents progress.
“The program is getting better each year,” he said. “But I expect these freshmen to make a heavy contribution.”
Cornerback Taris Shenall, safety Roderic Teamer, offensive guard Leeward Brown and wide receivers Rickey Preston and Andrew Hicks have practiced with the second unit during preseason camp. Running backs Devin Glenn and Nigel Anderson could get a few touches even though their position is the deepest on the team.
The last time Tulane had no true freshman starter in the opener was 2009. Last year, then true freshmen tight end Trey Scott and defensive end Daren Williams started the first game.
Johnson added he had not ruled out starting one of the freshman receivers or running backs depending on the play call for the opening snap.
Running back rotation
Managing the egos of seven running backs who are competing for playing time sounds difficult, but Johnson said he did not anticipate any trouble.
In addition to Sherman Badie (121 carries in 2014), Lazedrick Thompson (109 carries) and Dontrell Hilliard (97 carries), Tulane has senior Rob Kelley, who carried 98 times in 2013 before missing all of last year, junior Josh Rounds, who was redshirted in 2014, plus Glenn and Anderson.
“All those guys will get some touches,” Johnson said. Some games they will have four or five touches and some games they will have 10 or 11 touches. They understand if you are going to be a successful team, you have to put winning ahead of everything.”
Offensive tackle Kenneth Santa Marina, who injured his left ankle Monday, is in a walking boot. Although he has not been ruled out for the Duke game yet, Johnson said it was doubtful he would be ready. Santa Marina was practicing behind Todd Jacquet on the right side. … Johnson said the coaches would pick a field goal kicker in the next couple of days. Neither Andrew DiRocco nor Steven Logan has been consistent.