“Baseball on Radio-A Tradition-Some Places”
If you grew up as a baseball fan, once upon a time, you listened to baseball on radio.
That was the vehicle that delivered ‘America’s pastime’ to fans across the country.
Oh there was TV, the old CBS Game of the Week, but back in the day, teams didn’t televise every game. There was no such thing as ESPN, Fox, TBS, or the MLB Network.
Regardless of where you are from, you remember baseball on radio.
Mel Allen, Red Barber, Phil Rizzuto with the Yankees. Al Helfter and Lon Simmons with the old New York Giants. Vin Scully, Connie Desmond and more with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
As time and baseball evolved, more and more great names broadcast games. Jack Buck and Harry Caray on KMOX in St-Louis-Cardinals country. Waite Hoyt on WLW-Cincinnati. By Saam with the Phillies. Bob Prince on KDKA in Pittsburgh.
Ernie Harrell in Detroit, Bob Neal and Jim Grainey in Cleveland, Arch McDonald in Washington were the voices of summer, not just in their cities, but across the country via those 50,000-watt radio station signals.
In this day and age, there are still great voices on radio, from Jon Miller in San Francisco, to Marty Brenneman in Cincinnati, John Sterling of the Yankees and more.
Of course TV has changed everything. Games on TV, on cable, on Direct TV everywhere, the MLB Network..
It’s interesting to see what baseball on radio has become.
In some cities, where tradition carries the day, the radio ratings remain very strong. even on flagship stations whose teams are in last place. But there are some stunning numbers too, you’d never expect.
Some of it has to do with teams leaving legendary stations. Some going to FM-signals. Some linked to News-Talk stations, others on all sports stations.
Talkers Magazine just released a composite look at radio ratings for the baseball season.
Once upon a time, Padres baseball on radio was a tradition. For decades upon decades, the games were on 760-KFMB, and revenue and ratings were good. But then as TV took over, radio suffered, and stations stopped wanting to pay big rights fees for radio games, when games on TV became the preferred medium.
The Padres left KFMB and went to KOGO radio for a multiple year contract. They then jumped to Might 1090, another big signal, but the product on the field was so bad, the station hemorrhaged money.
The Padres moved to an FM signal, The Fan 97.3, with a signal that doesn’t even cover the county. They got a payday for less coverage, but now no one is listening.
The Padres have the 2nd worst radio ratings in MLB, with only the Miami Marlins worse. Marlins baseball on radio has virtually no history, tradition or following.
Though there has been no continuity in flagship stations over the last decade plus, Ted Leitner and newcomer Jessie Agler have been together for three years.
Were all the changes, the dismissal of Dave Campbell, the passing of Jerry Coleman, the retirement of Bob Chandler, the constant shifts of color analysts, the reason it all changed? Or is it strictly lots of bad baseball, and a network presentation on the TV side from Fox Sports San Diego.
The highest radio ratings according to Talkers Magazine belong to one of the worst teams in baseball. The Cincinnati Reds, in last place since opening day, have the only double digit ratings in MLB. Tradition has a lot to do with the success of WLW.
Milwaukee, in a pennant race, has propelled WTMJ’s ratings to the second best in baseball, its the legendary KMOX-Cardinals signal out of St Louis, ranking them third.
The biggest markets, with the biggest spending teams, don’t have high ratings.
The Yankees are mid pack on the big sports station WFAN. The Dodgers have the third worst ratings in baseball on 570-KLAC, with a first place team. Go explain that.
.Maybe it’s the team, maybe it’s the signal of the station, maybe it’s games on television all the time.
The out of town scoreboard ranks them this way:
(BEST)… Neilsen ratings….6-Plus Audience….Flagship stations
( 7.8) Brewers
( 7.4) Cardinals
( 6.4) Indians
( 5.8) Pirates
( 5.3) Rockies
( 5.2) Phillies
( 4.7) Yankees
( 4.7) Tigers
( 4.4) Twins
( 4.3) Orioles
( 4.2) Red Sox
Do you listen to baseball on radio? If so, why? If not, why not?