Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nats close to deal with 106.7 FM

The Nationals are finalizing a contract that would allow them to move their flagship radio station to WJFK (106.7 FM) while keeping games on WFED (1500 AM) as an affiliate station, according to multiple sources familiar with the deal.

The new radio contract is awaiting final approval by Nats ownership, but the sides already have an oral agreement in place and staffers at the affected stations have been notified of the pending change, according to those sources.

The switch in flagship stations comes after a lengthy attempt by the Nationals to broadcast games on a strong local FM signal. WJFK -- which goes by "106.7 The Fan" -- is a 22,500-watt station based in Northern Virginia that actually has a stronger signal throughout the area than 50,000-watt WFED, which doesn't reach many western suburbs at night.

Though they sought to align with an FM station, the Nationals still wanted to maintain a presence on AM as well. CBS, which owns WJFK, has only one AM station in the D.C. area: WHFS (1580 AM), which has extremely limited reach in the evening.

Thus, the club was able to forge an unusual-though-beneficial arrangement that keeps games on 1500 AM as one of its affiliate networks. WFED is owned by Bonneville International, which recently sold its stations to Minnesota-based Hubbard Broadcasting.

Despite the change, announcers Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler will return for their seventh and sixth consecutive seasons, respectively, behind the microphone. The broadcast's production staff, though, could change.

WJFK, which went to an all-sports format in July 2009, is now the flagship station for the Nationals and Wizards. WFED remains the Capitals' flagship station. "ESPN 980" -- which airs on WTEM (980 AM), WWXX (94.3 FM) and WWXT (92.7 FM) -- has the rights to Redskins and Orioles games.

59 comments:

MGG said...

This is wonderful news! I don't get 1500 here where I work, but I get 106.7 loud and clear! Can't wait to hear the Nats while I'm stuck at work. Thanks for bringing us this great news Mark.

natsfan1a said...

Very good news!

Steve M. said...

Now that is some welcome news!

Section 223 said...

Terrific news for joining the 21st century. Very, very glad that they are keeping Charlie and Dave. Both quite knowledgeable about baseball and they keep things in perspective. I also hope they get to keep the Jack of all things and the rest of the crew.

court, rfk428 said...

This is freaking wonderful! Great job Mark! What about the Jack-Of-All-Trades? Is he gone as part of the production reorganization? Before the Nats first season I met Jack (Wood, I think is his last name) on a flight from Nashville back to DCA. I was wearing an Expo shirt (the one I ordered the day after the contraction fell thru in an effort to advocate for their relocation here) so Jack asked me if I was a fan and told me he'd be part of the radio broadcast team. We spent the hour and half in the air talking about the disrepair of the Expos system, the new acquisitions and our personal excitement to have baseball back in the District.

Great guy and I hope he makes the move with Charlie and Dave. While the TV booth seems to change every year, Charlie and Dave have been with us since Brandon Watson tore up AAA. They are Nats baseball, and every time they mention the Jack-Of-All-Trades, I'm reminded of the excitement and anticipation we had during our conversation way back in the winter of 2005.

JamesFan said...

Terrific news. This is one more step to becoming a first class baseball franchise. Good radio is very, very important to the fan base.

Pedro G said...

The more exposure for Charlie and Dave, the better. Although the Nats have been less than spectacular the last six seasons, they have one of the best radio teams on air. That's especially wonderful in a market where radio is, without question, lousy.

Question for Mark--Will the FM signal have a slight delay? Wondering about listening live at the ballpark. I know this can be an issue.

Tcostant said...

This is truly good news, a big plus for us in Loudoun County. I continue to think what a huge mistake take that ESPN 980am made in aligning itself with the O's rather the Nats. Less and less people care for the O's in the DC area and this is a short sided step by ESPN 980am.

As a positive note, I heard our own MZ on the Sports Reports last night and I heard more baseball take from 5pm to 5:20pm on ESPN 980am yesterday, since the offseason began. Mark, you are a great addition there!

Anonymous said...

Do you know yet which spring training games will be broadcast on radio? I need a little baseball fix soon!

Anonymous said...

I hope they keep the "Jack of All Things," too!

JohninMPLS said...

This is good news for Nats fans, but I must admit I'm a little squeamish about anything that legitimizes that network's awful programming.

I guess this move means there will be at least 500 hours of broadcasts that aren't manned by brain-dead blowhards. So maybe it's a win-win. Plus, it doesn't put any money in Snyder's pockets, so I guess that's worth celebrating.

Poor DC sports radio. It really is a choice between the lesser of two evils.

Pete said...

OH YEAH!!
http://www.hark.com/clips/cxknyymjcz-aw-yeah

Theophilus said...

Very good news. Most of WFED's 50 kW at night is highly directional, meaning you can hear it in Delaware and the Outer Banks but not in Fairfax. Very few fans in Nags Head are inspired to drive to Nats Park for a game.

Theophilus said...

Pedro -- Many talk radio stations have a 7-second delay to deal with callers who are challenged to find family-friendly adjectives and verbs. Curiously, Red Zebra (Snyder) has a delay on his FMs, not on the AM station. They may have fixed it recently but that was the case 6-7 months ago. In addition, there is an inevitable lag in the transmission of voice data from the stadium to the studio to the transmitter (or from the studio or transmitter to an affiliated station along the network).

DCPowerGator said...

great news, i can't even get 1500 in my capital hill home less than one mile from nats park. still would prefer 980 b/c of their drastically higher quality programming but happy regardless if true.

IIRC 1067 also transmits very strongly to the west, i think i had it on at night practically all the way to charlottesville. this is a good thing, va should be all nats country.

mark - you did an OUTSTANDING job last nite on 980. hope that becomes a recurring gig for you!

nationals anthems said...

I am so happy! Charlie and Dave on FM - hooray!

joemktg said...

Thank friggin' goodness. Now I can hear the games from the far reaches of that remote outpost known as Fairfax County. One less headscratcher solved.

Q: Does CSN have a working relationship with ESPN980, WJFK, neither or both? WAPO (obviously) has a relationship with JFK, and I now expect AK to be featured with Wise, LaVar/Dukes, Junkies, etc. Will CSN Nationals saddle-up to ESPN980?

Steve M. said...

How do we find the archives on a non-Apple device to listen to Mark Z's radio from yesterday?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Steve M.: You can listen to or download podcasts of yesterday's show at http://www.espn980.com/audiovault/

The Sports Reporters archive is on the right side of the page. I appeared during Hours 2 and 3 of the show.

Chris said...

Two thumbs up from down here in Fredericksburg!

David said...

I asked this in another thread... Is Tom Milone getting a major league invite this year? And if he isn't, why not?

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Dave stay, that's all I care about. "Another curly W in the books" for this deal.

MGG said...

Hey Mark, I've seen some people linking the Nats to Francisco Liriano. Is this true? Would this be a player the Nats would look at?

I hope not because of his injury history and seems to be on the backside of his career.

Anonymous said...

"WAPO (obviously) has a relationship with JFK, and I now expect AK to be featured with Wise, LaVar/Dukes, Junkies, etc."

I don't think there is any formal relationship between the Post and 106.7. The radio station hired Wise as an individual, and the Post hired Arrington as an individual. There's no cross-platform branding going on as there would be if there was a relationship between the two media entities. You're not hearing Wise being introduced on 106.7 as "Mike Wise of the Washington Post", he's just "Mike Wise." Likewise, Arrington was hired by the Post mainly for his credentials as an ex-Redskin, not because of his 106.7 work.

Now of course Wise might use his personal connections to get on-air segments with other WaPo reporters/columnists, but of all the sports Wise is weakest on baseball (as is the rest of the Post). So Kilgore and Sheinin might not necessarily end up appearing on his air. As for Boswell, have those two guys (Boswell and Wise) ever even acknowledged the other's existence, much less appeared in the same room at the same time?

Theophilus said...

Liriano: 27 y/o, last year career high in innings, 201K, 11th in Cy Young. How does that constitute the "backside" of his career? Sounds like somebody else's "backside" is in play.

Anonymous said...

Thank God!!!

TomL said...

This may be a hard one to answer but I'm an expat and listen to C&D via the mlb gameday app (android version). Any idea if this deal will change anything about that? Last season we had games over that with a "nationals radio network" station identification as well as via AM 950, same station identification

JayB said...

Very Very Good News!

Anonymous said...

The MLB Gameday app just picks up the local broadcasts for all teams no matter what station(s) they are being aired on. And fortunately there are not any blackout restrictions as with the TV streaming over MLB.com.

Staying in Satellite Beach said...

Having it on both stations and both the AM and FM bands is a plus. I use XM to listen to Nationals home games I'm not attending (and to hear the poetry of Vin Scully from L.A. after the local game ends) but when the Nats are on the road I usually listen to the DC-area local broadcast since XM carries the home team's radio feed. When the U.S. FCC and its Canadian and Mexican counterparts still authorized clear channel stations with a frequency all to themselves across all of North America, what was WTOP-AM back then had a non-directional signal which could be heard for hundreds of miles in any direction. The 1500 AM signal is still spectacular when you're driving on I-95; it comes in beautifully across the Carolinas and even into Georgia or northern Florida, but the east-west directional lobe is nowhere near as strong as the north-south.

Theophilus said...

What 11:07 Anonymous is saying is that given its current lineup WJFK is unlikely to ever be a significant source of Nats info. Except for Sheehan and Loverro, WTEM has been much in the same position, until the arrival of our esteemed host, although the overall IQ level is much higher. Maybe better on field performance will lead to better on-air coverage but I'm skeptical -- unless 980 gives Mark a slot in every program, every day. WTEM's focus has been on Redskins first, piling on the uizards second, Caps third, and various conspiracy theories fourth. (And, who is the maroon they've put on at 7:00 p.m.? Which rock did he crawl out from under? Yeeesh!)

Anonymous said...

"What 11:07 Anonymous is saying is that given its current lineup WJFK is unlikely to ever be a significant source of Nats info."

No, I'm saying it won't necessarily be the Washington Post supplying their Nats info. If the station is carrying the Nats games, they will likely step up their game in talking about the Nats during the rest of their broadcast day, just like they talk about the Caps and Wizards a fair amount because they broadcast their games. Otherwise, it really would be All Redskins All The Time.

gino said...

"directional, meaning you can hear it in Delaware "
good to know, for back and forth to downy ayshin, hon. hope i can sync charlie and dave to the tv. the delay on the mlb phone app is nuts.

and good to have you on the radio at times. i like loverro on baseball, but as was said above, wtem is about skins. all told, this is a step up

Swede said...

Fantastic News! Great that Charlie and Dave will be back, they are a pleasure to listen to and have made the best of several long seasons of not much to crow about. Now if we can get 106.7 to add some additional Nats talk we are making progress. We deserve a break from the Redskins for part of the off-season. (At least until Danny gets his act together)

SonnyG10 said...

Great news for me also, as I live in Reston, VA.

Steve M. said...

Mark Zuckerman said...
Steve M.: You can listen to or download podcasts of yesterday's show at http://www.espn980.com/audiovault/

The Sports Reporters archive is on the right side of the page. I appeared during Hours 2 and 3 of the show.

___________________________

Mark Z. great, I will head over there. Any chance of adding a link on this site to keep only your broadcast archives? With your growing popularity, I expect many of your readers will want to listen online. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Question: I live in Nebraska. Will I be able to follow the Nats by accessing WJFK through my computer? Today is going to be a really great day if the answer to that question is "yes." I'll be grateful for any answers or opinions on that matter. Thanks.
fpcsteve

sparky said...

fpcsteve, unfortunately, no. MLB forbids radio stations from streaming their games. They are only available via an MLB subscription.

Anonymous said...

Finally. Mark, any word on when there are going to get some restaurants and bars near the stadium. After getting the games on FM, that's the next thing on my wish list.

Dan! said...

To Fcpsteve - you can purchase from mlb.com the AUDIO ONLY package that allows you to stream all games, home and away, on your computer. $15 PER YEAR. It is such a good deal I'm surprised it hasn't gone away yet. Hard to find on the MLB.com page, but there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sparky and Dan. Trust me, I'll find that deal and subscribe.
fpcsteve

Anonymous said...

You can also get the MLB At Bat app for iPhone etc for $15/yr or thereabouts, which gets you all the game audio for the whole season.

Anonymous said...

For up to date info on what may or may not be happening re development in the ballpark area, your best bet is to check jdland.com. If anything's happening, you'll read it there first.

Water23 said...

Although restaurants near the stadium would be nice, Liriano in a Nats uniform for 3 years would be far better.

Make the deal Rizzo!

PAY TO PLAY said...

MORE GOOD NEWS, McCatty says Strasburg has started throwing a baseball again! If all goes well he should be pitching 5 months from now in the Minors!

Jim Webster said...

Good radio news. Now has anyone seen the MASN TV spring training broadcast schedule?

Double Dibble said...

5 months?? In the minors?? That panzy boy oughta be spinning that curve on opening day.

Anonymous said...

Spring training broadcast schedule is here:
http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/schedule/broadcast/index.jsp?c_id=was

Theophilus said...

Speaking of Strasburg, a good topic, Mark, would be "how much of Strasburg's salary do the Nats recoup from insurance?" They do have insurance for most of their players, don't they? Some, like Detweiler, would probably be uninsurable (but in any event not that expensive). But how could you guarantee Werth $126MM without having insurance on at least a portion of it?

Tcostant said...

Usually insurance doesn't pay off unless the player never plays in the Bigs again. So let hope they get nothing from him. Most resent example, the O's got a ton of money back on Albert Bell.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic news - my son can finally listen to games on the radio when he's falling asleep at night. And it's about time - this has been another area where they're behind the curve in terms of their ability to create exposure.

And no station becomes a "Flagship" unless they're willing to pump up the team/advertise/talk about it. Bishop (a.k.a Lurch) is a very smart baseball guy in the Junks. I'd love to see Wise actually learn something about it. Hopefully they'll replace Arrington/Dukes during drive time/pre-game with someone who knows something about baseball.

This is really great.

Natslifer

RickH said...

Excellent! I had to listen to games using MLB audio on my phone because I couldn't get the signal well at all out here in western Prince William County.

N. Cognito said...

Some new links on the Nats website under the Tickets drop-down menu. Of primary interest: 1) Nats Insiders get access to single game tickets begins Feb 17th at 10:00AM, ending on the 20th at 11:59PM. 2) Single game tickets go onsale to the general public on March 3rd.

No indication of when the STH presale will be.

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ticketing/presale_singlegame.jsp

Barry-B said...

Can't wait!

Samantha said...

AWESOME to the FM radio deal! Can't wait. And double-AWESOME to Charlie and Dave returning. They make even awful games semi-palatable.

Coach said...

Now if we can just get a Nats affiliate in Ocean City for summer beach listening!

SteveRep44 said...

Great news about Charlie and Dave. No one in the business does a better IHOP live read.

But, can we bribe Wilson Ramos to use Wil Nieves' walk-up music for another year of booth salsa dancing?

Ron said...

AWESOME! I am not a fan of "the Fan" with their less then stellar broadcasting team. The Junkies are a complete waste of time, Chad Dukes is an arrogant, pompous ass that lends nothing of value to sports programming except an "attitude". But NATS baseball on the radio GREAT!

VP81955 said...

The best of both worlds -- a solid FM sports talk that covers D.C. and northern Virginia well (with more Nationals-related programming, I hope), while keeping an AM 50,000-watter with good reach in most Maryland suburbs. (When WJFK had Terrapin rights, many fans complained the signal was next to impossible to hear in College Park and points north.) Also, 1500 AM has a fine nighttime signal up and down the east coast, as I can vouch from my years in Westfield, N.J.

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