SBD/April 1, 2011/MLB Season Preview

Country Strong: A's Switch Flagship To KBWF-FM After Talks With KTRB Fall Through

A's pregame show will be cut from 60 to 45 minutes with the switch to KBWF
The A's announced a four-year agreement Thursday for KBWF-FM to be "their new flagship radio station," according to Joe Stiglich of the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. The agreement takes effect with Friday's regular-season opener against the Mariners, and "all of the team's pregame and postgame programming elements remain intact." The announcement "ends the uncertainty that surrounded the A's radio situation after their efforts to purchase" previous flagship station KTRB-AM dissolved. A's VP/Broadcasting & Communications Ken Pries said that the team "had signed a letter of intent a month ago to purchase KTRB, which is in receivership." But Pries contends that about 10 days ago, KTRB's receiver "changed terms of the agreement and scrapped plans to broadcast the A's this season when the team didn't agree to the new terms." The asking price for the station "was reported to be as high as $12 million at one point, but it's not known if the A's offer approached that neighborhood." Stiglich notes the A's will be a "supplemental piece in KBWF's country format." The team's "pregame show, for instance, will be reduced from an hour to 45 minutes." But Pries said that A's fans "will benefit from KBWF's strong signal" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 4/1). In S.F., Susan Slusser reports the A's bid for KTRB was believed to be "in the range" of $7M, which sources indicated was "more than double KTRB's likely worth." In addition, the A's were "preparing to spend an additional $2 million to upgrade the nighttime transmitter." Pries: "In one sense, it's too bad we're not in control of our own radio station, which we would have preferred, but there's also a sense of relief that we don't have to take on the obligations and problems of the station as a whole" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/1).

STAYING IN BOSTON: WEEI-AM and Entercom Thursday announced that Dave O'Brien has "agreed to a contract extension to remain in the Red Sox radio booth for the foreseeable future." O'Brien, also the play-by-play voice for ESPN's "Wednesday Night Baseball," confirmed that the WEEI deal "begins next year and is for three years with a fourth-year option." O'Brien, who is "absent from 25-30 Sox broadcasts a season because of his ESPN duties, is appreciative of the flexibility his employers provide" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/1).

FINAL COUNTDOWN? On Long Island, Neil Best notes Suzyn Waldman's status as a Yankees broadcaster for WCBS-AM is uncertain with her contract expiring at the end of this season, and she said that she "has not gotten any indication from management about her future and has not sought one." Waldman, in her 25th season covering the Yankees, said that she "has not tired of the grind and would like to continue 'until they tell me to go away.'" Best notes with the "possible exception of WFAN host Mike Francesa, there are no more reliable lightning rods in local sports media than Waldman and John Sterling," whose contract also is up at the end of '11. This is the "first full season after the death of George Steinbrenner, who was loyal to both radio voices, Waldman in particular" (NEWSDAY, 4/1).
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