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USC breaks ground on radio

LOS ANGELES -- The new Spanish-language USC football broadcast that debuted earlier this season has been deemed a success by fans, according to Mike Thompson, the senior director and program director at ESPNLA 710.

The venture, which is headed and produced by Univision American 1020 (KTNQ-AM) in conjunction with ESPN Deportes Radio, has given Spanish-speaking fans an alternate way to keep up with the Trojans. Thompson believes the project is the first of its kind for collegiate athletics.

"Serving all of Los Angeles is very important to us," Thompson said. "This is the most diverse area in the country. The opportunity to serve Trojan fans, both in English and locally in EspaƱol, is a huge opportunity."

ESPN Radio has a multi-year agreement with USC to broadcast Trojans football games nationally. The local Spanish-language deal is yet another initiative to serve a market that merits varying coverage.

"The USC brand is huge in the Hispanic market," Thompson said. "There's a large number of bilingual households in Los Angeles. This venture fits the profile in our mission in this city. This is a great opportunity to push USC's brand."

The project had been discussed for the last couple of years, Thompson said, before coming to fruition.

Veteran broadcaster Pepe Mantilla is the play-by-play announcer, while Daniel Arreola adds color commentary and Erika Garza delivers in-game sideline reports.

"Pepe is not too far behind Jaime Jarrin," said Thompson, comparing Mantilla to the Dodgers' Hall of Fame broadcaster. "Pepe is the voice of the Lakers and well known in the market. He is identifiable with the fans and has that signature voice. From the listener standpoint, it has been received quite well."