CHICAGO (CBS) — For many years, your options were limited if you were looking for sports talk in Chicago.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Score’s 20th Anniversary

Local sports talk was limited to Chet Coppock’s nightly program on WLUP-AM, WGN’s Chuck Swirsky chatting with fans on weekends, and some sports programming on WBBM Newsradio.

But that all changed on Jan. 2, 1992. Dan Lee of Diamond Broadcasting, the father of 93-WXRT , had purchased AM 820 for $650,000 two years earlier, and with a small budget and a signal that was limited to dawn to dusk hours, he launched the powerhouse we now know as The Score.

At that time, the Score wasn’t yet a CBS station, and it operated with WXRT from a remote building far west on Belmont Avenue.

But the original talent included some broadcasters we now know as household names – Tom Shaer the “Monsters” Dan Jiggetts and Mike North, and three legends you still hear on The Score today – Dan McNeil ,Terry Boers and Brian Hanley.

In the early days, airtime was plentiful as commercials were few and far between. But it just so happened that later in the year, Mike Ditka signed up with the new station to be the home of its compensated radio program, and with relations icy between Ditka and the Bears, the Score was in demand from all parts of the media world.

“You had to listen to the show and I would be literally cutting up the show and there would be couriers coming from the TV stations to pick up cassette tapes so they could play them at night,” afternoon show producer Judd Sirott told The Score’s Daniel I. Dorfman.

Ditka was fired from the Bears after the 1992 season, but served as an analyst for the Score during forthcoming football seasons until he was hired to coach the New Orleans Saints in 1997.

In 1995, Lee was approached by Westinghouse Broadcasting to purchase both WXRT and the Score. In an ironic move given events several years later, Diamond reached out to Westinghouse to see if they would be interested in selling the 670 frequency, but Westinghouse reversed the situation and offered to buy WXRT and the Score. After some negotiations, the two stations were sold for a combined $77 million.

Westinghouse, which became the parent company of CBS and was later fully renamed CBS, decided in 1997 to move the Score to company-owned 1160 AM and sell 820.

Three years after that, the Score made its final move to AM 670 and grew into a powerhouse, having inherited the best frequency possible.

The Score program director Mitch Rosen tells Dorfman the station’s success is due to contributions from all of the employees.

“The life blood of the station,” Rosen said. “Whether full or part-time, producers drive the talent, drive the audience, and help drive the topics. I grew up as a producer (Rosen was the producer of Chicago radio legends Eddie Schwartz and Kevin Matthews) in the business and continue to produce every day. One thing I’ve learned along the way is a station that has thrived the way the Score has over 20 years only happens with everybody pulling in the same direction. That includes producers, talent, sales, programming, engineering and commercial traffic.”

Visit The Score’s 20th Anniversary site for more »

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