There won’t be a University of Illinois football game this weekend or next. But you can still talk football on the radio.
Starting at 7 p.m. Monday, the school’s radio network airs “Fighting Illini Weekly.”
The show can be heard locally on WDWS (1400-AM) and WHMS (97.5 FM). It will also be available on other network affiliates across the state.
“Traditionally, this time of the year, we’d have game broadcasts and we’d have a coach’s show,” said Luke Reiff, general manager of Fighting Illini Sports Properties. “Without the football games this fall, we really felt it was important to continue to connect with our fans in some way.”
The new show fills the same time slot as past coaches shows.
Voice of the Illini Brian Barnhart serves as host.
The first show will include interviews with Illinois football coach Lovie Smith, former All-American linebacker Kevin Hardy and former All-American Martin O’Donnell.
In future weeks, guests will include Illini men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood, athletic director Josh Whitman, head coaches and assistants in other sports and current and former athletes.
“We want to mix in as many Illini voices as we can,” Barnhart said.
Ten shows have been scheduled into early November.
Reiff works for Learfield IMG College. The Texas-based company is in charge of the radio networks at 12 of the 14 Big Ten schools. Maryland and Michigan State are the exceptions.
Reiff said each school in the conference has its own plan for radio programming. Some are airing shows on Saturdays in place of the postponed games.
Others are going the same route as Illinois.
“Everybody is doing something most importantly to stay engaged with our fans,” Reiff said.