WASHINGTON — Another company is parting ways with Washington's NFL team. The Washington Commanders will have a new play-by-play radio broadcast partner for the 2022 season.
Audacy -- an audio content and entertainment organization that runs The Team 980 in Washington D.C. -- said it will no longer be broadcasting Washington Commanders games. Host Kevin Sheehan made the announcement Wednesday on behalf of the station, citing business and editorial disagreements with the team.
The Commanders and Audacy “disagreed on the value of the broadcasts," according to a statement from Sheehan.
"It is also very important for us as a sports talk station, even as a long-time flagship station for the team, it was important for us to continue to be able to provide honest, objective information and analysis about the [Commanders] on our talk shows,” Sheehan said.
However, the Commanders disagree with Sheehan's portrayal of Audacy making the decision to end the partnership. A team source told WUSA9 that Audacy's comments "misrepresent" the process through which Washington decided to seek a new radio partner.
WUSA9 reached out to the Washington Commanders for comment and received the following emailed statement:
"We initiated a formal RFP process last fall for the Washington Commanders Radio Broadcast Agreement, which concluded last week. Multiple companies submitted bids as part of this process, including Audacy who was an active and aggressive participant and submitted multiple partnership proposals for the next three years of increased value over our previous deal. Based on the evaluation process, we selected a new partner who will bring a significantly larger deal, as well as new creativity and broader reach and scale, to programming. We shared with Audacy last week that we would not be moving forward as partners. We’re very excited about our new radio broadcast partner, who we will be announcing soon, and anticipate this being the largest radio deal in the team’s history."
Sheehan also said The Team 980 will debut new Washington gameday coverage for the 2022 NFL season "including at least four hours of pregame coverage, a new in-game talk show focusing on analysis and fan-reaction and in-game betting angles" and complete postgame coverage.
It is unclear what this means for game simulcasts carried on WMAL 105.9 FM and ESPN 630 AM, both owned by Cumulus Media. WUSA9 has reached out to Cumulus Media for comment as well.
The radio play-by-play broadcast itself is produced by the Media and Content division of Audacy itself, so presumably, the Commanders next step would be to negotiate a new deal for a different flagship radio broadcast company.
While the Commanders asserted that this was their decision to part ways with the flagship radio station, three other companies have ended their own relationships with the team.
In March, Anheuser-Busch cut ties with the Commanders, announcing it decided to end its sponsorship agreement with the team. The brewing company was one of the Commanders' biggest corporate sponsors. Anheuser-Busch is the official beer sponsor of the National Football League.
“We’re exploring options in the alcohol category and looking for a strategic partner that will join us in the next era of Washington Football, as we play our first season as the Washington Commanders and prepare to develop a new venue,” the team wrote in a statement to WUSA9. "The team believes there is tremendous upside in the alcohol sponsorship category for the Commanders.”
WUSA9 also reached out to Anheuser-Busch for comment regarding why they decided to cut ties and a spokesperson emailed the following statement:
“Anheuser-Busch has decided not to renew its sponsorship of the Washington Commanders team at this time. We remain fully committed to Washington football fans, and we look forward to continuing our long-term partnership with the NFL and our other 26 team partners to create meaningful experiences and connections for fans across the country.”
Anheuser-Busch endorses many NFL players, including Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke.
In February, a Manassas-based medical billing compliance company, Medliminal, also cut ties with the Commanders.
"Medliminal will not be continuing its partnership with the Washington Commanders for the 2022-2023 season and indefinitely going forward," the company wrote in an email, obtained by WUSA9. "We are sincerely disappointed in the Commanders handling of both the facts and allegations surrounding their organization."
The company also removed the Washington Commanders logo from its website.
Last April, Inova said they would no longer have a partnership with the Commanders to "allow Inova's orthopedic leadership team to focus on business and growth opportunities." In 2016, Inova agreed to a 10-year partnership with the team, which included the rights to having their name on the Commanders practice facility in Ashburn, Virginia.
A Maryland woman has created a website for fans to send emails to corporate sponsors asking them to sever all ties with the Washington Commanders and owner Daniel Snyder. This came on the heels of sexual harassment allegations levied against Snyder and criticism of the NFL’s investigation into the toxic work culture of the team. The creator of the website asked to remain anonymous because of fear of retaliation from Snyder.
The website, called Boycott Dan, was created on Feb. 4 and thus far, nearly 15,000 emails have been sent to corporate sponsors, including PepsiCo, FedEx, Bank of America, USAA and more.
According to the website's founder, being a survivor of sexual assault and workplace sexual harassment is what also motivated her to create the website.
"This is not going to be good for me mentally, but I felt a deep connection to the women who were sharing their stories," the woman said.
In 2020, the NFL launched a 10-month long investigation into the toxic culture of the Washington Commanders. The league ended up fining the team $10 million. The NFL launched a second investigation after new allegations were made by former Washington Commanders employee Tiffani Johnston during a roundtable discussion with Congress on Capitol Hill in early February. During that roundtable discussion, six former employees leveled accusations of misconduct.