Ten months ago, A’s President Dave Kaval asked fans whether the team should re-up its contract with flagship radio station 95.7 The Game, which housed A’s content for eight years. The answer both directly to Kaval and here in the comments from Athletics Nation readers was a resounding “no.”
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2018 season, the A’s made clear the relationship was over, posting a video of team gear being removed from the 95.7 office.
It’s not us, it’s you. pic.twitter.com/48LVzpqzpV— Oakland Athletics ⚾️ (@Athletics) October 12, 2018
Now less than a week out from the start of Spring Training, however, it remains unclear exactly how we’ll listen to A’s baseball in 2019.
The team is looking at using an alternative audio distribution option to terrestrial radio, San Francisco Chronicle beat reporter Susan Slusser reported in late January. Kaval told Slusser at the time that “there is still going to be an audio feed of the game, the way there is with traditional radio, but there are going to be many ways people can consume that and we want to provide options to achieve that in multiple ways.”
This option likely includes various apps (such as IHeartRadio, through which the Los Angeles Kings currently air their games) that host live streams. The team is now “close” to a deal with both a streaming service and a local radio station to be announced in the next couple weeks, Slusser reported Wednesday.
Another option would have been for the team to buy its own terrestrial radio station, as it attempted to do in 2010 with former flagship station KTRB 860-AM, prior to inking the 95.7 partnership. Kaval called buying a station a “possibility,” adding that “those transactions take some time,” and Slusser revealed last month that several attempts to do so have already been unsuccessful. Additionally, she suggested that the team might have to purchase multiple stations in order to meet regional boundaries and air-time demands.
Whether it be through a streaming app or a more traditional radio option, the team appears on track to have a suitable plan in place to air live broadcasts prior to Opening Day — and it at least has secured the on-air talent.
Slusser confirmed that the longtime broadcast team of Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo will return for 2019, and the A’s announced the hiring of former 95.7 host Chris Townsend as host and senior broadcast producer Wednesday.
Townsend will oversee “creating and delivering multimedia A’s content across multiple platforms,” as well as host the pre- and post-game shows, the team said. He will also dialogue with fans in-person in The Treehouse during home games.
Regarded as one of the few A’s-related positive aspects of 95.7, Townsend’s local sports résumé also includes time with KNBR 680 and CSN Sports Bay Area. In the team’s announcement video, Townsend said upcoming audio broadcasts will give fans “the most info and access” they’ve ever had, starting with the first Spring Training game.
We are happy to announce that Chris Townsend will be joining the A's family!— Oakland Athletics ⚾️ (@Athletics) February 6, 2019
Welcome aboard, @townsendradio! pic.twitter.com/aFqnOgakAG
So given all those moving parts, what would be your ideal for the A’s 2019 audio situation? Let us know in the comments.