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Cubs, WGN Radio split after 90 years

Wednesday, Jun 4, 2014

* Cub games are moving to WBBM after appearing on WGN Radio since Calvin Coolidge was president

The move to CBS marks the end of a 90-year relationship with WGN-AM 720. The Tribune Co.-owned station reportedly was losing money on the broadcasts and chose to exercise an option to reopen its radio contract with the team last fall. Station executives cited low ratings after losing 197 games over the last two seasons as contributing to revenue declines.

The previous deal was valued at $10 million, according to earlier reports in the Tribune. WGN had the right to match the new CBS offer, but chose not to, according to sources.

* More on the ratings decline and WGN’s losses

WGN has faced cutbacks because of broad industry changes and fewer advertising dollars rolling in for poor Cubs baseball.

Advertisers typically pay for ads before a season starts based on the most recent ratings, but they can claim free air time when stations don’t live up to promised ratings. That has decimated WGN’s margins for airing Cubs games.

* Can Ricketts be more of a disaster as an owner? Well, yeah. Sam Zell was pretty darned awful, too

The deal made by former Tribune Co. chairman Sam Zell when he sold the Cubs to Tom Ricketts in 2009 has been a financial disaster for WGN, which has lost $6 million a year, according to some estimates. “The economics of the deal that we inherited did not make business sense,” [Jimmy deCastro, president and general manager of WGN] told me. […]

“The economic terms just don’t make sense for us,” deCastro said. “So it’s really not us saying we don’t want them anymore. It’s the Cubs saying that the economics they need are much greater than what we think they’re worth or what we’ll pay. They chose to go another way economically and made a decision to move on.”

* WGN TV is also dumping Cubs baseball from its national cable broadcast, so fans who’ve moved away will not be able to watch their team. And the fate of the Cubs on the local station is also up in the air

The Cubs last year opted out of their TV deal with the network, giving it a chance to either pay more for broadcasting rights beginning in 2015 than it currently does or lose the games to a rival network.

Those negotiations continue while the team shows few signs of promise on the field and while local TV ratings remain in a slump.

* Related…

* Wrigley rooftops go on offense, say Ricketts has ‘buyer’s remorse’

- Posted by Rich Miller        


78 Comments
  1. - The Prince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:06 am:

    The Cubs have not had a winning season since the Ricketts took over. Also, attendance has declined each year.


  2. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:09 am:

    Sorry to see the tradition of WGN will be gone. But all things change.

    Regarding watching them on cable, it’s not a problem. I only watch them when there in the World Series.


  3. - LizPhairTax - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:12 am:

    Best side effect is that no more Blackhawks playoff games get shunted to 87.7 FM. I would lose that signal by Arsenal Road and most new car radios start at 87.9.


  4. - The Prince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:12 am:

    They had some good seasons in ‘07-’08. They actually fired Andy McPhail at the end of ‘06 due to attendance issues if I remember correctly. God forbid September games have less attendance if the team is not in it.


  5. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:14 am:

    I would like to see more Sox games on WGN TV anyhow, so if Ricketts continues Sox will air on local TV more.

    I was listening to people at work say that WBBM does not come in well in Iowa, as compared to WGN which has a broader range of signal in Iowa and that there are a lot of CUB fans in Iowa because the farm team is there. The CUB’s can’t afford to loose any more fans.


  6. - John A Logan - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:16 am:

    Its a shame to see a long time partnership fade away. In St. Louis, the Cardinals jumped ship from KMOX a few years back. Then after just a few seasons went back to KMOX. Perhaps history will repeat itself once the current ownership loses interest and a new face takes over. Then again, maybe not…it is the cubs after all.


  7. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:18 am:

    will the highlights still be on sport news ?


  8. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:20 am:

    May be a smart move for the Cubs financially on the TV side if they’re smart and have their own network like many high revenue teams are moving to.


  9. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:23 am:

    WGN had a bargain for years when the Tribbies owned the team. They just took money out of one pocket and put it in the other.

    During the players’ lockout, Bud “opened the books” on all MLB teams and claimed that the Sox broadcast deal was more lucrative than the Cubs. That was absurd on its face.

    For Cubs broadcasts, it ain’t the 70s anymore. There is infinitely more competition for your time from TV, radio, Internet, etc.

    If you want people to tune in, give them a reason. The Cubs don’t, haven’t since the Ricketts owned them, and are still years away from doing so.


  10. - God's Country - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:24 am:

    The Cubs have highlights?


  11. - Pensioner - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:25 am:

    @Anonymous Highlights?


  12. - The Prince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:27 am:

    Bud Selig is a walking conflict of interest. Hardly surprising about “opening the books.”


  13. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:27 am:

    People still listen to the radio? Wordslinger has it right. To people of our generation, summer is having the windows open and having the sounds of [insert your local announcer] calling the game drift through the air. It just doesn’t happen like that any more.


  14. - Pensioner - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:28 am:

    An avid Cards fan here, but I do miss the rivalries of the 60’s with the Cubs when Cubs had good players. Hope they improve, but never in the Series. Wouldnt want the earth to stop revolving.


  15. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:31 am:

    Yes people still listen to the radio, I listen to the Score at work, in my car, and when I am cleaning house or ironing, I love to listen to DJ and Ed, and when I watch the game on TV I turn the sound down and listen to DJ and ED because they crack me up with their comments.


  16. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:35 am:

    ==WGN had a bargain for years when the Tribbies owned the team. ==

    Bingo. The Cubs have been shortchanged for along time due to the Trib/Zell conflicting interests.

    ==WBBM does not come in well in Iowa==
    True, and I do think the Cubs should address this to make sure they maintain their regional hold on the upper midwest. However the Cubs use a large number of affiliates in Iowa, so not sure anything would change… (http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/schedule/affiliates.jsp)

    Furthermore WBBM’s sister station, WSCR only has one more year with the Sox. I heard speculation already that if they choose to let the Sox go, the Cubs will be moved to WSCR for the remainder of the contract. Signal for WSCR is far-reaching.

    ==I do miss the rivalries of the 60’s ==
    Well then you missed some great series from 03-09 (LaRussa vs. Dusty/Lou Era).


  17. - Peter - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:37 am:

    @John A Logan - the Cardinals and Cubs radio deals are dramatically different. It’s a lateral move for the Cubs, while the Cardinals downgraded to a station with poor programming, horribly inept management, and a signal issue so bad that the Cardinals had to buy time on WSMI-FM in Litchfield just to be heard in the Metro East at night. One weaker AM signal =/= two clear channel AMs and five FMs.


  18. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:38 am:

    Slowly becoming the small-market team they have always seemed to be.


  19. - foster brooks - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:41 am:

    The cubs will be the Montreal expos in 10 years


  20. - Deep South - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:44 am:

    The Cubs are, again, in their usual position in the NL Central standings. Shouldn’t that be more of a concern than what radio station carries, or isn’t carrying, their games?

    Cubs fans…

    Oy.


  21. - The Prince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    Moving a dial from 72 to 78. What an ordeal. The Bears have been back and forth for years.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    ===Slowly becoming the small-market team they have always seemed to be.===

    Wow. That is the most insightful statement of the Ricketts Ownership I have heard, ever.

    I watched the Ball Game last night; Mets-Cubs, usually a big draw…

    Center Field bleachers all but empty, Left and Right corners with whole sections empty.

    Tampa Bay called giving the Ricketts attendance tips.

    To ‘GN, some of my fondest memories living outside the Chicago media market was being able to tune in ‘GN, catch a Ball Game doing whatever it was I was doing. It was important to me to catch that 1:20 start, longing to be at Wrigley, seeing sunshine baseball. WGN was a security blanket during that time.

    But - Michelle Flaherty - is On It. The economics of feat has transpired makes the impression and the reality of the Chicago National League Ball Club is now small market; it’s radio home sees them as a losing proposition, and the sparse crowds are the team’s “base”, and the base aren’t filling seats.

    When parents give in to kids, disaster may occur. Not always, but it can occur. “See: ‘Cubs, Chicago’ and ‘Ricketts Children’…”

    A shame.


  23. - Knome Sane - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    No matter how you dice it up, slice it up, spin it, sell it, finesse it, I will never side with the roof-top owners. Contract? Smontract. They have a lot of gall. I hope and pray they lose it all in the end and I am a White Sox fan. It’s the only thing I agree with the Cubs about, in fact.


  24. - jim - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    Comparing the Cubs and WGN to the Cardinals and KMOX is off base. When the Cardinals left KMOX, they went to a small station with a poor signal. I think the cardinals were a part owner of the new station. But the Cards’ plan to make even more money with a new, smaller station connected to a big network didn’t work out. So they moved back to KMOX. Going to WBBM is no way comparable
    to Cards’ moves to a small station with a weak signal that didn’t even cover St. Louis. Maybe WGN will end up with the Sox.


  25. - ZC - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:52 am:

    I agree that losing WGN TV cable broadcasts nationwide is potentially a huge blow to the Cubs. At least it would have been in a time long ago; maybe it’s a different media world now.

    Growing up in Louisiana like I did, I legitimately became a Cubs fan because that was it - you come home from school, WGN was the one place you could follow a baseball team day in, day out, and it was the Cubs. (I suppose it also helped that it was mid late 1980s when they were good again).

    There are still a lot of Cubs fan in New Orleans of a certain age - because of WGN TV. It’s not just fans who moved away, in other words, it’s fans who never lived here but never had any local team to root for, so they adopted the Cubbies.


  26. - OurMagician - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:54 am:

    Upside-no more “Go Cubs Go” song. The lyric “you can catch it all on WGN” would no longer be any good and the singer isn’t around to change it.


  27. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:55 am:

    John, I didn’t realize the Cards had left KMOX for a while. That powerful signal made them The Team of the South and Southwest until Atlanta and the Texas teams joined the league.

    Cards are still one of the most popular teams in the country, especially when you consider their metro fan base. So are the Cubs, but leaving WGN will not help matters.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/searching-for-the-most-popular-mlb-teams-relatively/


  28. - Streator Curmudgeon - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:56 am:

    Hate to sound like a geezer, but when Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau were broadcasting, the Cubs were fun to listen to, even when they were losing, which was often.

    I think radio has fallen on hard times all over the country.


  29. - The Prince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:56 am:

    That Go Cubs Go song is horrible. Willy: I also noticed how empty the park was on one of the most beautiful days of the year.


  30. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:57 am:

    toppling of the Cubs’ monopoly. good.


  31. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:58 am:

    –The Bears have been back and forth for years.–

    The Bears own Chicago. They’re the only franchise that everyone tunes into all the time, win or lose, good years and bad.


  32. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    ===I think radio has fallen on hard times all over the country. ===

    I subscribe to MLB.com so I can listen to games all over the country. Count me as unimpressed with most announcers. They’re too vanilla, too boring to keep my interest.

    Radio has been ruined in this country, and not just baseball radio. It’s astounding to me how stupid that industry has become over the past few decades.


  33. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    ==Willy: I also noticed how empty the park was on one of the most beautiful days of the year.==

    Cubs are 7th in attendance so far this year. http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance/_/sort/homePct

    I was at the game last night(and am most nights). It was a late arriving crowd, no doubt. But by 2nd inning the bleachers and lower level were at least 80% full.

    That said attendance is doesn’t mean much anymore. It’s all about the TV $… http://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2014/01/07/mlbs-billion-dollar-tv-deals-free-agency-and-why-robinson-canos-deal-with-the-mariners-isnt-crazy/


  34. - Knome Sane - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:07 am:

    =Radio has been ruined in this country, and not just baseball radio. It’s astounding to me how stupid that industry has become over the past few decades=

    It’s ironic: commercials are killing commercial radio. I listen to Sirius XM almost every time I am in the car. Other than a few dropped in ads, I go commercial free all day. I cringe when I try to listen to Roe & Roeper. 10 minutes of show time and 50 minutes of unlistenable commercials.


  35. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    “They’re too vanilla, too boring to keep my interest.” I have the same impression. They all have wonderful voices, but there just don’t seem to be any Harry Carays or Vin Sculleys or Bob Prinz or Ernie Harwells any more. I never liked Harry, so that’s ok with me, but you get the idea.


  36. - The Prince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    Radio today is horrible. Playlists are tighter than ever before. It’s ridiculous. Small-market automated pop stations of 30 years ago had more character, better programming and less commercials.


  37. - The Prince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    Boudreau and Lloyd were hilarious reading the commercials in their futile effort to make them sound spontaneous.


  38. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    As a Cards fan in Chicago I’ve subscribed to mlb.com for years to watch and listen to games, and also to XM for broadcasts in the car. The days of the superstation on cable are over, but even I as a Cards fan have fond memories of watching Cubs and Braves games after school many afternoons and evenings because I loved the game.


  39. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    ==Willy: I also noticed how empty the park was on one of the most beautiful days of the year.==

    Says more about the Ball Club than anything I can.

    ===Cubs are 7th in attendance so far this year.===

    You do know there is “Paid Attendance” and “actual attendance”, which is why I added the snark of Tampa Bay. Media down there “play” a game of what was the difference between the two last night; Paid, 12,000, Actual 4,500…

    I would go to the video tape, the 7th inning stretch, what “fans” stay until, before heading to a bar, was very sparse, and the bleachers were not “full”…

    Money on tickets with “No shows” means no beer, food, souvenirs bought. The Cubs ” Organ-Eye-Zation” admitted all concessions, consumable and souvenir have not met expectations.


  40. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:29 am:

    It used to baffle me that when the Chicago Blackhawks or the Northwestern Wildcats were playing meaningful games that the last place Chicago Cubs had priority standing on WGN 720 AM.
    I am sure that it was a contractual obligation, but it would have made much more sense to go with the team that was winning or engaged in a meaningful game rather than an inconsequential contest.


  41. - The Prince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:34 am:

    Both leagues count “paid attendance” as attendance now. Misleading and specious due to the lack of ancillary revenue from the no-shows.


  42. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:39 am:

    Catch Vin Scully while you can. Dude’s been doing it since Brooklyn. Amazing career.


  43. - Hatless - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    I subscribed to MLB.com a couple of years ago so my kids could watch the Cardinals games on the computer (We don’t have cable). Since we live in Springfield, not only were the home games blacked out, but so were almost all of the away games. I was very disappointed.


  44. - ZC - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    I miss Ron Santo. For a time on the radio he and Thom Brennaman managed to recreate some of that Harry Caray / Steve Stone vibe. I would tune in sometimes to hear him ramble on.

    Media has to be about moments, and you need the emotion on the radio especially. In 1998, Brant Brown drops that fly ball, Ron Santo cries, “OH NOO!” - I remember hearing it live. It really was as iconic as it was later made out to be.


  45. - Darienite - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    UFR, I think that was one of the issues in WGN’s negotiations with the Cubs. It’s one reason they bought that mini-FM station. It will be interesting on Sundays in September when the Cubs and Bears are playing at the same time. One will be on WBBM AM and the other on FM - just who will be on what.
    For those posters who noted that XM and MLB.com are carrying the games, there’s still a bunch of us who sit in the backyard with a beer and listen to the games. Is that why the Cardinals have a network of over 100 radio stations in 9 states?


  46. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    Did it get any better than Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola on Saturday afternoon on the TV, loud, in the Garage for the Game of the Week?

    Nope.

    There was also something special when Harry Carey would work the middle innings on ‘GN Radio. Being away, you got a small “Harry Fix”…


  47. - SayWHAT? - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:05 am:

    What if WGN WAS the curse?


  48. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    I miss Jon Miller on ESPN, but Jon Sciambi and Dan Shulman are pretty darn good. I do think ESPN’s radio and TV broadcasts are fairly solid. Matt Vasgersian and Bob Costas are definitely worth the watch when MLB Network broadcasts games. But I would agree that a lot of team-sponsored radio and TV broadcasts are pretty bad. It amazes me how a team like the Cardinals - who have a rich history and a rabidly-loyal fanbase - cannot seem to find a former legend or a better draw than Al Hrabosky or Rick Horton to do color commentary.


  49. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    Haven’t most Cubs broadcasts been limited to local WGN the last few years anyway? “WGN America” outside Chicago area seems to rarely air sports. A good cable deal would probably benefit them. And being linked to the most popular Sports talk in the city won’t hurt either. WGN radio is an afterthought to sports fans outside of Cubs games.


  50. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    Joe Garagiola! How could I have forgotten that name. One of my favorite bits of Life Advice came from him: “If you work as hard to stay out of trouble as you do to get out of trouble, you’ll never get into trouble.” He happened to have been talking about a pitcher who walked the bases loaded and then struck out the side to save the inning, but it works in more ways than that.


  51. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    ==You do know there is “Paid Attendance” and “actual attendance”, which is why I added the snark of Tampa Bay. Media down there “play” a game of what was the difference between the two last night; Paid, 12,000, Actual 4,500…==

    Exactly, there is paid/actual for every team. Adjusting accordingly (if that was possible) the Cubs are still likely in the top 10. Additionally, you seem to make my point that attendance doesn’t matter much anymore. So droning on about how empty seats during the 7th inning stretch is the problem, is misguided. Low attendance certainly didn’t stop the Sox from getting Abreu. Am I missing something?

    Since its Capitol Fax, perhaps we can think of butts-in-the-seats as campaign yard signs. Good for optics, but all that matters is the TV money. Plus, you know what they say… “Attendance don’t vote,” ughh… this metaphor fell apart


  52. - The Prince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    Paul McCartney and John Lennon were disappointed when Joe Garagiola guest-hosted the Tonight Show instead of Carson when they went on to announce the formation of Apple Corps.


  53. - vise77 - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    “I subscribe to MLB.com so I can listen to games all over the country. Count me as unimpressed with most announcers. They’re too vanilla, too boring to keep my interest. ”

    I am a subscriber, too, and totally agree. No personality at all.


  54. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    Third largest city in America, even with two teams MAY be in the top 1/3 of attendance?

    That is …good?

    That is the point of the tangent, and why when the Ricketts cry. “Poor” while they sqanderer a base as big as Chicago, are rated by Forbes (I believe) as the worst run franchise and the Blackhawks were the best run, the fans dressed as green seats matter to a large market team, with small market problems, rebuilding on a “budget” while most large market teams try to reload.

    That is the point.


  55. - G'Kar - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    I had a good friend who worked for KMOX as the station’s liaison with the Cardinals up until they split for the first time. Her impression was that the Cards believed due to the internet and MLB.com it was no long necessary to have a “blowtorch” for a flagship station. The Cards were not the only ones who thought this–about the same time the Pirates split with KDKA, their long term radio partner. There may have been others. Ironically, the internet was not the challenge (then) that they though it would be. There were tons of complaints from fans living outside the metro areas who were no longer able to listen to games, as the regional stations often had too weak of a signal, especially at night. Both teams have gone back to their original radio homes.

    As an aside, I too, use MLB.com at work to listen to games and I also subscribe to Directv’s MLB package so I can watch my team’s games.


  56. - Mokenavince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 12:24 pm:

    The Cub’s are going to lose a ton by losing nation wide TV coverage.
    Just as the Sox did when they switched to ON- TV.

    Baseball is losing fans I droves, now with instant replay kiss it good bye .


  57. - drew - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    This is very disappointing. When I tune in to WBBM, I want to hear the news and traffic. Now I’m gonna get the stupid cubs instead.


  58. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    In the 70’s, the White Sox became so insignificant that they had no radio outlet in Chicago. The flagship station was WTAQ in LaGrange, which could not be heard at night in Chicago.

    “I had a good friend who worked for KMOX as the station’s liaison with the Cardinals up until they split for the first time. Her impression was that the Cards believed due to the internet and MLB.com it was no long necessary to have a “blowtorch” for a flagship station. The Cards were not the only ones who thought this–about the same time the Pirates split with KDKA, their long term radio partner. There may have been others. Ironically, the internet was not the challenge (then) that they though it would be. There were tons of complaints from fans living outside the metro areas who were no longer able to listen to games, as the regional stations often had too weak of a signal, especially at night. Both teams have gone back to their original radio homes.

    As an aside, I too, use MLB.com at work to listen to games and I also subscribe to Directv’s MLB package so I can watch my team’s games.”


  59. - The Prince - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    Mokena: Interleague play has not been the best idea either.


  60. - Nearly Normal - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    Best of luck to both WGN and the Cubs. I heard the discussion this morning on the ‘G about the end of the partnership. Truth is the market has changed, the Cubs are harder to get sponsors for, and there are other events that WGN can have on their station.

    WGN did not had the exclusive rights to Cubs baseball until the 1950’s. And there were a few years when they were out-bid for the rights. Yet, the Cubs would come back to WGN.

    Most of the Cubs games I watch are carried by Comcast Chicago Sport on Comcast Cable.


  61. - a drop in - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    Mokenavince, baseball on the national channels will be gone. Braves are no longer on TBS. Think the plan is to force everyone to go to MLB.COM.


  62. - Tim - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    === Think the plan is to force everyone to go to MLB.COM. ===

    Not with blackouts for the local teams, it isn’t. I’m an MLB Gameday Audio subscriber, but I will never be an MLB.TV subscriber as long as the ridiculous blackout rules are in effect (so, basically forever).


  63. - ILexpat - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    ” Can Ricketts be more of a disaster as an owner? ”

    Rich - I know your Cubs posts are generally just trolling, but everyone who pays attention to baseball regularly knows that the Cubs have made incredible leaps in three years. They’ve got a top 3 farm system in baseball, two of the brightest prospects in the sport just a year away, and they are about to dramatically increase their revenue.


  64. - Doug Dobmeyer - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 2:37 pm:

    Sorry to see the Cubs move off of WGN-AM…but if you haven’t won a World Series since 1908 no one should be surprised. Isn’t change hard!


  65. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    “They’ve got a top 3 farm system in baseball, two of the brightest prospects in the sport just a year away, and they are about to dramatically increase their revenue.”

    And pigs fly


  66. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    A lot of insane misinformation here.

    1) WGN America (formerly Superstation WGN) is dumping all Chicago sports broadcasts, Cubs, Sox, and Bulls.

    2) Andy MacPhail was not fired by the Cubs, he left for job in the commissioner’s office and attendance was on the rise.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CHC/attend.shtml

    3) The Cubs being dumped by WGN-AM? Yes, that’s happening, but it also happened to the Sox–right after they won the World Series. WMVP declined to match WSCR’s offer ($2.5m/per), which was half of which WMVP was then paying ($5m/per).

    4) As others pointed out, this is different from the Cardinals leaving KMOX for KTRS. WBBM is also a clear channel station, KMOX to KTRS was not that type of situation. When the Cardinals did that they also bought a 50% interest in KTRS. WGN-AM offered the Cubs an ownership interest in the station, but they declined.

    5) Re: Cubs/Mets attendance. Have you been paying attention to the Mets situation Willy? They are running in place in the mud and the fans hate it and they hate the Wilpons. Why travel to see two bad teams play, even from markets #1 and #3?

    ==Radio has been ruined in this country, and not just baseball radio. It’s astounding to me how stupid that industry has become over the past few decades.==

    Consolidation killed the cat and one its ringleaders was former Tribune CEO Randy Michaels at Clear Channel.


  67. - Former Downstater - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 2:53 pm:

    Moving to the CBS radio family gives the Cubs multiple sources for marketing as they add more concerts and activities at Wrigley. It gives them access to WXRT and the country station for promotions and other activities. Makes sense.


  68. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    ===5) Re: Cubs/Mets attendance. Have you been paying attention to the Mets situation Willy? They are running in place in the mud and the fans hate it and they hate the Wilpons. Why travel to see two bad teams play, even from markets #1 and #3?===

    Goes to my point.

    Mets-Cubs use to be a good draw. You have a night game, in the “neighborhood” with another large market team, and still you can’t draw. The 2014 Mets aren’t the 2014 Marlins, but both franchises have won a World Series, the Marlins two.

    If you can’t draw bodies, you can’t. Nice night and Large Market team notwithstanding…


  69. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    –“They’ve got a top 3 farm system in baseball, two of the brightest prospects in the sport just a year away, and they are about to dramatically increase their revenue.”–

    The Ricketts Era to date:

    83-78
    75-87
    71-91
    61-101
    66-96

    And currently, they have the worst record in baseball at 21-34, 12 games out.

    Those prospects better get better in a hurry, because if they can’t crack the ML lineup right now….


  70. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 4:34 pm:

    “And currently, they have the worst record in baseball at 21-34, 12 games out”

    Cue the clip from the infamous Lee Elia press conference….


  71. - Phranklin - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 4:39 pm:

    Captain:

    2) Andy MacPhail was not fired by the Cubs, he left for job in the commissioner’s office and attendance was on the rise.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CHC/attend.shtml

    Actually, when MacPhail “left for a job in the commissioner’s office” (in the middle of the season) the Cubs were in the midst of the 3rd straight season in which their attendance dropped from the previous season.


  72. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 4:43 pm:

    –Cue the clip from the infamous Lee Elia press conference….–

    Les Grobstein has the only existing original audio.

    Then at Channel 5, Giangreco and his TV crew got it on tape, but he’s been quoted that it disappeared from the station’s archives.

    The Cubs are still drawing well more than the 5K a game old Lee was upset about. But they’re projecting this season at 2.3 million, nearly a cool million fewer then they drew the year before the Ricketts’ took ownership.

    Figure average ticket price, a couple of beers, a hot dog, a souvenir — one million fewer fans is a boatload of money.


  73. - Tom Joad - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 5:26 pm:

    Someone should bring back the WMAQ format, all news.
    Rickets tanked the team so he could get the lowest picks in the draft. MLB should have a pool of the losers like the NBA does to even things up. The guy is all about, and only about, Money.


  74. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 8:02 pm:

    Why all of the fuss? The Cubs have not fared especially well during the era of broadcast communications. Perhaps they would do better if their games were no longer available in the media other than newspapers and telegraph wires.


  75. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 9:26 pm:

    …almost unbelievable. But at least CBS picked ‘em up right away, and THEY’re far from a shoddy Organization, needless to say…! So, in short, howEVer it is broadcast…the CUBBIES live ON (in their eternal quest for, first, a Pennant once again at ONly 69 years and counting, and then, a World Championship–and you ALL know how long THAT’S been missing…)!!!


  76. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:00 pm:

    ==The Ricketts Era to date:==

    The Ricketts didn’t take over until October 2009.

    ==Actually, when MacPhail “left for a job in the commissioner’s office” (in the middle of the season) the Cubs were in the midst of the 3rd straight season in which their attendance dropped from the previous season.==

    FALSE!

    MacPhail left at the end of the season in 2006.

    http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20061001&content_id=1694442&vkey=news_chc&c_id=chc&fext=.jsp

    Attendance
    2006: 3,123,215
    2005: 3,099,992
    2004: 3,170,154
    2003: 2,962,630

    There is no “3rd straight season in which their attendance dropped from the previous season.” Try to keep up with reality please.

    Also, MacPhail & Peter Angelos were the lead negotiators on the CBA that year.

    http://money.cnn.com/2006/09/22/commentary/sportsbiz/index.htm?postversion=2006092214


  77. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jun 4, 14 @ 11:08 pm:

    And MacPhail worked as an employee of the MLB central office after until the CBA was signed that year.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/hotstove06/columns/story?id=2735979


  78. - Skeptic - Thursday, Jun 5, 14 @ 8:44 am:

    Les Grobstein has the only existing original audio.

    I have a copy.


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