J-Wave to air live radio broadcast of Super Bowl


Staff Writer

Japanese FM radio station J-Wave (frequency: 81.3) will carry live game coverage of the Super Bowl XLIX, the company announced on Wednesday.

It will be the first time the NFL’s championship game will be broadcast live on Japanese radio.

Bilingual sports anchor Yuji Kondo will be the play-by-play announcer while former Fuji TV female announcer Rio Hirai will also be a part of the broadcast for the February 2 (Japan time) contest between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The show will be held between 8 a.m. and noon in Japan.

“The Super Bowl has been my goal since I began this job,” said Kondo, a former football defensive back who has been onsite to call NBA All-Star and World Baseball Classic games in the past, at a Tokyo news conference on Wednesday. “We are going to carry the program, assuming the majority of the listeners don’t know much about football. But we want to show them how big of an event it is.”

J-Wave is one of the most popular FM stations based in the Tokyo area. It also had live game coverage of the Japanese national team’s matches in last summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Kenji Matsuo, the station’s deputy general manager of the programming division, said the Super Bowl coverage would include a lot of music between plays to present a radio sports broadcast that’s unprecedented.

The halftime show performed by Katy Perry will also be aired.

Matsuo said the station came up with the idea of airing the Super Bowl last fall. He added that Tokyo hosting the Summer Olympics in 2020 was one of the major reasons that boosted the station to pursue Super Bowl coverage.

Matsuo has confidence in the upcoming broadcast because the Super Bowl is held on Monday morning in Japan, so people would be able to listen on their smart phones while commuting to schools and offices.

“You have to focus when you watch on TV,” Matsuo said. “But on radio, you can listen to it while doing something else.”

Asked if the station would look to expand its coverage to other sports in the future, Matsuo said that marathon, ekiden, rugby and baseball are coverage ideas he has in mind for now.

J-Wave will air a preview program for the Super Bowl, named “J-Wave Selection Super Bowl XLIX Pre-Party,” between 10 p.m. and 10:54 p.m. this coming Sunday. Kondo and actor and football fanatic Tetsuya Bessho will host it.