Sunkel takes the role as ESPN has linked with a rep firm operated by sister company ABC. ABC Regional Sports and Entertainment Sales has represented the eponymous network's owned TV stations, and now breaks into radio for the first time. ESPN Radio had used the now-defunct Interep.
Sunkel will oversee the rep firm's efforts, as well as the national sales managers at the five stations.
Sunkel said one of his goals is to look for non-traditional opportunities to attach national advertisers across multiple markets, such as fantasy football conventions and sponsorships of the play-by-play calls of games by teams that ESPN stations carry. The L.A. station takes over Los Angeles Lakers games next year, providing a high-profile opportunity.
In addition, the new sales chief wants to expand a "Lunch with a Legend" program started in Chicago to other markets. With "Legend," a station does a remote broadcast from a local establishment and invites a sports star to interact with fans. One recent Chicago event had Crown Royal as a sponsor.
The ESPN radio outlets are in New York, L.A., Chicago, Dallas and Pittsburgh. When ABC decided to sell its fleet of radio stations, it kept the five and placed them under the ESPN umbrella. Sunkel will continue to be based in Chicago, where he has been the national sales manager for WMVP.
He will report to Tim McCarthy, senior vice president, regional radio manager, ESPN Radio.
"Greg is highly regarded within ESPN Radio Sales and with our client base," said McCarthy. "We're delighted to be represented by ABC Regional Sales, which also speaks to clients on behalf of ABC Television's O&Os. ABC's relationship with McGavern Guild Media provides exceptional support on the agency side. This client-focused marketing effort is unlike anything else being offered to radio clients, and Greg is ideally suited to lead it."
A 22-year radio sales veteran, Sunkel is a graduate of Tulane University.