MoneyWhile most of the broadcast rights focus has been on the next television contract(s) for the Chicago Cubs, given the relative dollars involved, there is still the matter of the Cubs’ radio broadcast rights to be determined. With falling ratings and revenues, WGN decided to opt out of its current agreement with the Cubs, which reportedly pays the team about $10 million per year, which means the Cubs’ rights are available for anyone to grab beginning after the 2014 season.

Sticking with WGN has ultimately been the safest bet, but with so many alternatives in the Chicago market, it probably wasn’t better than 50/50. And media maven Ed Sherman reports that CBS’s WBBM-AM has emerged as the frontrunner to secure the Cubs’ radio rights after 2014. Despite the implication of WGN opting out of the deal (meaning that they think it’s not a good deal), Sherman says the Cubs are likely to be able to match the $10 million they see annually under the current deal, and maybe even improve upon it.

Sherman’s report is an interesting read for some of the finer points of local media relationships, including how CBS could maximize its relationship with the Cubs by incorporating other Cubs-related content on some of its other stations (and how WGN losing the Cubs could impact the White Sox’s relationship with The Score, which expires after 2016).

In the end, what matters is that the Cubs will still have a radio home that is accessible by those who want to listen (and WBBM-AM would accommodate that), and that the revenue associated with the deal is at least where it was with WGN. Beyond that, it would certainly be a knock on tradition to not have the Cubs on WGN radio after almost 90 years together, but, as it is with the TV deal, we may learn that it was actually best for both sides to move on as they look toward their individual futures.

(And for those concerned, the Cubs have said that, wherever their radio broadcasts go, Pat Hughes (and now, presumably, Ron Coomer) will go with them.)

  • Cornish Heat

    Pat Hughes bit – PHEW.

    • brainiac

      yeah as long as they keep Pat i’m happy. technology markets are changing so rapidly we have to keep loyalty to tangible things, like the stadium, which we can preserve… 90 years is a long time but WGN isn’t “WGN” that innovated early radio and served the chicago community. it’s just a shifting conglomerate.

  • Jon

    Great news. More revenue that can be invested into the teams payroll.

    • Fishin Phil

      My sarcasm meter just went off!

    • brainiac

      more revenue that can buy more hackneyed franchise ideas that they’ll run into the ground, lose millions of dollars, and then blame the rooftops for.

      • David

        Now what is this stupidity all about?

  • ssckelley

    Jeez, you mean I have to figure out how to reprogram my radio? Am720 has always been #2. Anybody know what channel WBBM is? I want to check the signal in my car later, hopefully us Iowan’s will get a nice signal.

    • noisesquared

      AM 780, just down the dial.

  • Jon

    780 huh? Maybe we can replace Pat Hughes with Jeff Joniak

  • Funn Dave

    Just as long as I can still pick it up in Madison….

  • candyland07

    I live in the Chicago land area and having the Cubs Sox and Bears have their own exclusive radio station is great radio. I know if i turn the dial to 720 on game day I’m gonna listen to Cubs chatter , 670 gonna listen to Sox and 780 for the Bears . One would assume A Cubs/Bears Radio station would be great for Chicago ….. Maybe , gotta wonder when football and baseball season overlap how mush coverage will the Bears take away from the Cubs. not to mention the logistics of the games on any given Sunday / Monday.

  • hansman

    Will the Cubs Radio Network remain intact?

    Thankfully, WBBM is another clear channel station so I should be able to pick it up on occassion in Des Moines.

  • ChrisFChi

    I mention this before, wbbm would be a great place as they also own 105.9fm. If the cubs stay with wgn, I believe they should broadcast on 87.7fm also. (kinda like how wbbm does bears on 780 and 105.9, have the cubs on 720 and 87.7)

  • Darth Ivy

    Listening to Ron and Pat was one of the greatest things ever. I miss that man.

    • Jon

      Pat yes. Great PBP guy. Ron Santo not so much. Didn’t do his job.

      • Funn Dave

        If you’re joking, it isn’t funny. If you’re not joking, you are officially on my shit list.

        • Jon

          Not joking.

          My beef is that I don’t believe he gave his best effort to prepare for games. Most color commentators put tons of effort into their craft in terms of researching statistics, scouting reports, other nuances of the game that they can share with their fans. Santo did none of that. He just sat next to Pat and cheered and moaned. That’s it. I get it was part of who he was, “a fan like us”. It doesn’t mean that everyone fan had to be a fan of the act, and I was one of them that didn’t. I was a fan of him as a player, and appreciate his fandom, and what he did for the Cubs, but could never really respect him as a broadcaster.

          • Edwin

            Fair points. Nicely done.

          • miggy80

            Are you describing Ron calling a game or are you talking about your comments on BN?

            • Edwin

              I thought Jon made a valid point. He acknowledged why some fans enjoyed Ron Santo, while pointing out some valid reasons why some fans might not have enjoyed Ron Santo.

              • miggy80

                I thought I made a valid point by comparing Jon’s comment to his own comments he makes here at BN. Some readers enjoy his persistent drumming of all things anti-FO or anti-Ricketts others just find his consistent complaining annoying.

                • Darth Ivy

                  Kind of like hecklers at the games? I do thoroughly enjoy a heckling, but i guess normally it’s done towards the opposing team, not the Cubs

                  • miggy80

                    Best heckling I did was last year was when Tuscon was in town(AAA Iowa). Brad Boxberger was warming up down the line. I would holler “Boxberger” as he was delivering his warm up on the 3rd consecutive warm up pitch I switched it up and yelled “do you want fries with that!” Yeah I got a few laughs out of that one.

          • Darth Ivy

            He definitely didn’t fulfill the duties that his job description demanded. But that was part of the fun. When I listened to the Cubs on WGN, Ron sounded like a fan sitting next to me. He got me to emotionally connect to the game as if I was watching it with my buddies. There’s something about watching or listening a game by yourself versus with others. When there’s another person with you, there’s more emotional connection to the game.

            At least that’s how I feel with sports viewing in general. It’s always more intense when I’m with at least another person because our emotions feed off each other. So when I was listening to WGN by myself, I got that emotional feed from Ron like I was with a buddy.

            And to me, that’s SO MUCH better than listening to a standard color guy. I normally don’t care what the color guys say on tv or radio.

            • Funn Dave

              I’ll concede that Ron didn’t do as much research as some broadcasters do. However, I don’t think that means that he failed to fulfill his job duties. His job is to tell us what’s happening in the game & keep us entertained. They were always able to relate what was happening, and he sure as hell kept me entertained. Stats can only get you so far. Ron had affability and charisma.

              • Jon

                Some? You mean like all? I can’t think of another CC that can basically get away with sitting in the boot and “cheer”

                • miggy80

                  Let me guess you much prefer the likes of Tim McCarver?

                  • Jon

                    Hate McCarver, but “In Myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Vieeeeeeeeeeeeew”

                    McCarver does put some effort into this job.

              • mjhurdle

                I agree. I think that Ron Santo did fulfill his job duties, and did it really well.
                His job description was probably not to be liked by everyone. His job was to make the broadcast as entertaining and enjoyable as possible for the largest amount of viewers possible.

                I have met very few people that have felt that Santo made the broadcast worse, while meeting a very large number of people that enjoyed his style, prepared and informational or not.

                To me that says he did his job. I will trade a few people that need help following the game of baseball not getting enough instruction they needed from Ron for the passion that Ron brought to his broadcast.

                I wouldn’t recommend him as a Fox Game of the Week broadcaster that has to appeal to everyone and do enough research to be able to explain the game to the most casual of fans.
                But as a Cubs broadcaster, i thought he was great.

            • Kyle

              His job was to be popular and get people to listen to the games, and he was wildly successful at that.

              I couldn’t stand his work, personally, but I was in a severe minority.

              • Sandberg

                Couldn’t stomach listening to the radio too long with him on there, but the Brant Brown call now amuses me. Took a while for that to happen considering I had a White Sox fan friend that played it for 6 months after.

        • waittilthisyear

          Ron Santo was a joy to listen to when the cubs won, and he was the company that misery loves when they lost. and he was a really great dude; my dad ran into him at a restaurant in Milwaukee and walked over to his table to tell him how much he admired him as a ballplayer, and when my dad went to pay his bill, his server said that that Mr. Santo had already picked up his tab

          • DarthHater

            I always figure that celebrities like their privacy when in public places. So, on the occasions when I see them, I make it a habit, as a courtesy, not to bother them. Guess I might be missing out on some free meals.

            • waittilthisyear

              darth my friend, you’re one of the good ones around here, but i kind of resent the use of the term “bother” in this context. im probably a bit overly sensitive because it is my dad, who is a war vet and retired cook country judge and all around good dude. i see what youre saying though, and in fact i too don’t approach celebs when i see them.

              i did see randy wells at a charity fundraiser in st louis. i did not approach him not because i thought i’d be a bother, but because, well, its only randy wells.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Currently I can’t stand the 670 The Score because of the White Sox biase in coverage. If they got Cubs rights, I’d probably tune in a heck of a lot more

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    So WGN is opting out of the radio deal, because they don’t find it profitable? The only reason I start listening the WGN regularly was because of Cubs baseball. I know my endorsement doesn’t mean anything, but if WGN loses the Cubs they will probably lose one listener

    • frank

      The Cubs are the only reason I ever listen to WGN.

      • Funn Dave

        Same here.

        • Chad

          I too started listening because of the cubs while driving for work, but have found myself still listening to a few of their talking heads. Have to find something else to listen to.

  • ame1908

    Pat & Len are half the reason that I watch/listen-to the Cubs. Hopefully they do hang on to both for the future.

  • MightyBear

    I listened to Ron Coomer the other day when Pat and Ron did the game. He was pretty good. Better than Moreland. I think I’ll like Coomer. I love Pat Hughes.

  • clark addison

    Who listens to radio any more? With the MLB app I can listen to all the Cubs games on my iPhone, ipad, and bluetooth radio. Doesn’t matter which station it’s on.

    Listening to broadcasts is so 20th century.

    • Fishin Phil

      Us friggin’ fossils still enjoy it.

    • ssckelley

      Just curious, I assume you use Bluetooth to connect to your radio when driving? How much data does that use?

      • CubFan Paul

        To stream the radio regularly, it’s better to have an unlimited data plan

  • JB88

    One interesting note about WBBM, but they have an FM counterpart, on which they play the exact same broadcast as the AM channel. I don’t know how exactly that fits into this, but just thought I would mention it.

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