WIOI – Our Area’s Own Cincinnati Bengals Broadcast Affiliate

Del Duduit

For nearly three decades, WIOI radio near Portsmouth, Ohio, has been the place 
for local Who Dey fans to listen to each game.
Station owner/manager and self-proclaimed “huge” Cincinnati fan Chip Maillet has been a Cincinnati Bengals broadcast game affiliate station since 1997. He purchased the 1,000-watt station in 1996 from his father, who originally bought it in 1960. His dad sold the station in 1982, but Chip bought it back in 1996. WIOI can be found on the AM dial at 1010 and 106.7 on FM.
“I just reached out to the Bengals front office back then and told them I’d love to carry the games,” Chip said. “At the time, WNXT had the Cleveland Browns, and the Bengals were the only sports team we covered because WIOI was a day-time only station. It was a great fit for us both.”
He petitioned the FCC, which allowed him to broadcast a low-power signal at night, which then opened the door to carry the Bengals. 
“I have an FM translator and it covers 24 hours,” he added. “I know the games 
cover all of Scioto County (Ohio) and into Ironton and a lot of Adams County, and 
the signal goes into Carter County and Lewis County (Kentucky) as well. There are a lot of Bengals fans out there again and we’re happy to bring them all the games.”

Chip said WIOI carried Cincinnati football games in the bleak years and is excited 
for the potential for the next few seasons, especially with Ohio native Joe Burrow 
at quarterback. “In previous years, I was begging for advertisers,” Chip chuckled. “I lost some revenue during some of those bad years – but that’s in the past. The Bengals are for 
real.”And he attributes his longevity to carrying the Bengals in part to support from the Scioto Ribber and the Portsmouth Brewing Company.

“Darren Mault, and even Steve when he was there, were always there for me,” he said. “They have been my main sponsor since 1997 and I always counted on them. They love the Bengals as much as I do.”
Now, since Burrow has joined the team at quarterback and taken the Bengals to a 
Super Bowl appearance and a couple of AFC North Division Championships, things are looking up for everyone. 
“All of our advertising spots are sold out right now and that’s great,” Chip said. 
“We do have a waiting list, and this is something to hang our hats on. I remember 
seasons when they won two games. But I stuck with them. First of all, I’m a huge Bengals fan, so that was one reason I wanted to carry the games. The next was that nobody else carried them locally around here. I saw the need and jumped on it.”
Not only does WIOI carry the games, but there are some perks that go along with 
being an NFL team broadcast affiliate. The Bengals, like most teams, would host  an affiliate day and bring station owners and other personnel to Cincinnati for some special treatment.
“We’d have a tent set up on a Friday practice day and players and personalities would come over afterwards to spend time with us,” Chip said. “Guys like Andy Dalton (former quarterback) and A.J. Green (retired) would come over, take some pictures, and sign autographs. Lots of fun memories.”
One year, the Maillet’s celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary and went to affiliate day. He noted that the couple always buys traditional gifts for each other, and this particular year was “leather.”
“She hadn’t gotten me anything yet, and we went to Cincinnati. We went over to 
the pro shop where there was this white leather football,” he recalled. “She got it 
for me, and we went over to affiliate day. A.J. Green came over and started to joke 
around, asking me for MY autograph. That was a fun day. But we always did things like that. Hopefully, the Bengals will reinstate affiliate day. That football signed by a lot of players is still in my office at the station.”
The only negative memory Chip has happened two years ago when the Bengals made it to Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams in 2022. The fact that Cincinnati played for a league title was not the bad part. 

The bad part was the fact that WIOI was not allowed to broadcast the game since the Super Bowl and the NFL had contractual rights with Westwood One to carry the BIG game.
“That infuriated me,” he recalled. “I carry every game, even the preseason ones, and when they made it to the biggest game of the year, I was not allowed to broadcast it. There was nothing I could do and there won’t be anything I can do if they make it again except cheer them on as a fan.”
For now, and as long as he owns the station, Chip and WIOI will be a Bengals affiliate. That will not change. 
“I have a multi-year deal with them,” he added. “I have no plans to not carry the Bengals. It’s who we are. As they all say, ‘Who Dey.’”