Anchorage — Listen up, Clones: Jim Rome is back on the radio in Anchorage.
Rome, the love-him-or-loath-him sports-talk radio host, returns to the airwaves on Wednesday when the city's third all-sports radio network debuts.
CBS Sports Radio, which counts Rome as its biggest star, will replace easy-listening music on KHAR 590 AM and create a three-way competition for the ears of Anchorage sports fans.
The city's other 24/7 sports stations are KTZN 550 AM, where you can find ESPN Radio, and KUDO 1080 AM, which airs Fox Sports Radio.
"Only two will come out," predicted Justin McDonald, the programming director at KUDO.
He said the fight for supremacy will be decided "by whose programming is gonna be the best."
One of the nation's most popular and sometimes polarizing hosts, Rome hasn't been heard in Anchorage since last year when he left for CBS Sports Radio, which until now was unavailable in Anchorage. Previously, his syndicated show aired on ESPN Radio.
Rome, who refers to his legion of listeners as Clones, will be the main draw for KHAR. His show will air live each weekday from 8-11 a.m. The CBS Sports Radio lineup of hosts also includes Tiki Barber, Dana Jacobson and John Feinstein, among others.
Supplementing the national programming will be KHAR's coverage of Anchorage high school football and Anchorage Glacier Pilots baseball. KHAR, whose new format will be simulcast on 96.7 FM, will remain the home of Fur Rendezvous World Championship Sled Dog coverage as well.
A press release from Anchorage Media Groups announcing the format change didn't mention live coverage of any national sports, something offered by both of KHAR's competitors.
KTZN-550 AM is the home of Seattle Mariners baseball, Major League Baseball's Sunday night Game of the Week and UAA hockey. The station aired Monday Night Football last season and occasionally broadcasts NBA games and NCAA tournament games.
Though it lost a big personality when Rome left for CBS Sports Radio, ESPN Radio remains the place to hear Anchorage's Mark Schlereth. The radio network also draws from ESPN's strong lineup of television reporters and analysts.
KUDO-1080 AM is the home of Seattle Seahawks football and Washington Huskies football. Also on the menu is NASCAR and a weekly MLB game. Locally, it airs Anchorage Bucs baseball and some high school sports, including the last two state high school hockey championships.
KUDO airs a variety of Fox Sports talk shows, including one hosted by Jay Mohr, a former guest host for Rome who will be in direct competition with Rome from 8-11 a.m. in Anchorage. It also airs Dan Patrick's syndicated show.
KTZN is the veteran in the game. It has offered ESPN Radio -- the heavyweight of sports talk radio -- for more than a decade.
KUDO went to an all-sports format early in 2011.
In its press release about KHAR, Anchorage Media Groups said sports radio is the fastest-growing format in the country. In the past five years, it has doubled its measured audience, the release said.
And there's ample content to sustain multiple stations.
"There's more programming out there than you can shake a stick at," McDonald said.
Case in point: on Saturday, KUDO will air the Horse Racing Radio Network's coverage of the Kentucky Derby.
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.