By Dave Hughes, DCRTV.com
(Courtesy of WNST)
He doesn’t care that the ratings for his Towson-based sports talker, WNST 1570-AM, aren’t up there in the top 10. Or even in the top 20.
He doesn’t care that last year CBS started a rival, big-budget, heavily-hyped competitor in Baltimore via 105.7 The Fan, WJZ-FM that appears to be a ratings winner. And he doesn’t care that WCBM also added a new sports talker to the Baltimore radio market, via Fox 1370, WVIE, last year.
That’s because radio is just one small part of Aparicio’s Baltimore sports empire. It’s the Internet, stupid.
Aparicio, an area native who spent his teen years learning journalism on the night shift at the Baltimore Evening Sun, is downright intense and animated about how his station’s Web site -- WNST.net -- is “the best damn sports site in Baltimore.”
Born in Dundalk in 1968, Aparicio was a sports writer and music critic at the Evening Sun from 1986-92. In 1992, he did a sports radio show at the old WITH-AM 1230 and soon moved on to a syndicated Sporting News Radio show.
In 1998, he bought a radio station, 1570-AM in Towson, which covers most of the Baltimore metro area by day and little of it at night. But today, that measly signal pales in comparison to the station’s Web site, which reaches across the nation and around the world.
“I don’t consider myself a radio station," Aparicio said. “My Web product, the multimedia aspect, is a lot of hard work, and it’s accessible to the entire world.”
Currently, WNST.net boasts 5,000 followers on its text message service, and 30,000 on its Internet mailing list.
“Having a broad (radio) signal is not all that important these days," Aparicio said. "We’re limited by what we could purchase 11 years ago,” when WNST was Baltimore’s first and only 24/7 sports talker.
So, what is Aparicio’s take on his media competition?
The Orioles flagship station 105.7 The Fan’s owner CBS has announced its Baltimore radio stations are for sale, although there are no takers so far. One local newspaper, the Baltimore Examiner, is dead, Aparicio pointed out. And, Hearst news talker WBAL 1090-AM, which carries the Ravens with sister 98 Rock, has “a skeleton staff” with four hours of evening sports programming “aimed at the over-50 white-guy club,” Aparicio said.
According to Aparicio, not carrying the Ravens and the Orioles gives WNST and WNST.net the freedom to report about the teams. His feuds with the Orioles and owner Peter Angelos have been notorious. For example, in 2006, the Orioles’ ninth straight losing season, Aparicio led a grass-roots movement called “Free The Birds.” WNST promoted a protest that was to take place during a mid-week afternoon game at Camden Yards. The protest was not so much aimed toward the team itself as it was toward Angelos.
According to the Associated Press, approximately 1,000 fans participated in the rally. During the fourth inning of the game, Aparicio and his group of fans left the game in unison.
“The stench of censorship is alive and well in Baltimore,” Aparicio said. “If I had the Orioles rights, I couldn’t do that.”
Soon, Aparicio predicts, his WNST.net audio will be easily available in cars, where the bulk of modern radio listening is done.
Baltimore sports media guru Jim Williams, who writes for the Washington Examiner, said, “Nestor is very right about WNST.net. "He is doing a good job with it and it is the future as the tech is getting better. With Sync coming into Ford, and other streaming audio in your cars, this allows for WNST.net to be used in the future just like any powerful station in the area.
“There’s nobody in town who’s ahead in new media. He’s done what he’s done to make it a winning platform, and (he is) doing so on a guerilla budget. He’s a visionary.”
“I’m a Donald Trump. I’m the pioneer," Aparicio said. "If I find something better, I’m going to steal it.”
Issue 141: September 2009