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.