Tech, 790 part ways

In this November, 22, 2010 photo, Wes Durham (left) and Tony Barnhart (right) talk during a broadcast of their show in the 790 The Zone studios in Buckhead.

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In this November, 22, 2010 photo, Wes Durham (left) and Tony Barnhart (right) talk during a broadcast of their show in the 790 The Zone studios in Buckhead.

With new interests and changed priorities, Georgia Tech and 790 the Zone on Monday ended their arrangement that had made the sports-talk station the Yellow Jackets’ AM flagship station since 2001.

The school and the station had a year remaining on their contract but will dissolve the relationship that called on 790 to carry football and men’s basketball games as well as coaches’ shows. All-news station WYAY (106.7-FM), which has been Tech’s FM home since 2008, will become the Jackets’ sole flagship.

“Both of us had some other directions we wanted to go in,” said school spokesman Wayne Hogan, an assertion shared by 790 station manager Neal Maziar.

Hogan called the dissolution amicable and mutual and praised 790’s management. While perception among many Tech fans has been that show hosts have been highly critical of Tech’s football team, Hogan said that was not a factor, nor was the recent controversy that ended in the firing of its morning-show hosts Chris Dimino, Nick Cellini and Steak Shapiro.

Hogan said that “it’s always difficult” when a sports-talk station is the flagship, but “we understand that. This discussion was really about deeper and broader things than just that.”

With WYAY, Tech will continue to have a much stronger signal (77,000 watts) than 790 (28,000 daytime, 1,000 at night) and also hopes to leverage the station’s Cumulus Media ownership to promote Tech via radio ads. Cumulus owns several Atlanta signals, including Q100 and Kicks 101.5.

“They just give us a lot of opportunities to get involved in many different ways we’ve already begun taking advantage of,” Hogan said.

Tech’s radio rights are owned by IMG College, but long-term decisions are made in conjunction with the athletic department.

Maziar, the 790 station manager, said a plan is in place to fill the void left on Saturdays without Tech football broadcasts.

“I think what we are going to serve up on weekends is going to be really good, entertaining, quality programming,” he said.

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