Since arriving in the Bay Area in 1968, the Oakland Athletics have had 11 different flagship radio stations. Several of those stations have even been the club’s radio home on more than one occasion.
For the third year in a row, however, Athletics’ games can be heard on KGMZ, or what is more commonly known as 95.7 FM The Game. The station’s parent company is Entercom, which owns 101 stations scattered across 24 different markets. The rise of The Game has been orchestrated by Jason Barrett, the station’s programming director.
Barrett joins The Game from 101 ESPN in St. Louis, which like The Game is an FM all sports stations. In St. Louis, Barrett consistently produced top-five ratings on both the local and national stage.
With The Game, his top rival is, of course, KNBR 680. According to the Oakland Tribune, the 25-year-old AM giant has the highest ratings for May of any station — AM or FM — in the market. June numbers will be available later this month.
KNBR’s rating’s dwarf The Game’s numbers by a factor of five, and The Game is currently sitting in the 25th spot in the market overall.
However, most of KNBR’s success is down to broadcasting San Francisco Giants games. When the season kicked off in April, the station’s ratings immediately doubled. The way the club has been going on the filed, however, I can’t help but wonder how sustainable those numbers will be.
The Game also saw a 50% ratings bump when the Athletics began their season. The way that the first-place Athletics’ season has been going, those numbers should only rise. Essentially, KNBR’s success is hitched to the fortunes of a team that is trending precipitously downwards, while The Game’s future is tied to a club that has been the best in baseball over the past calendar year.
Plus, The Game recently signed a multi-year deal with the Oakland Raiders to become the broadcast home for the NFL franchise. It might seem absurd, but the Raiders have suffered an even more nomadic radio existence than the Athletics.
While broadcasting games for the Athletics and Raiders will certainly be central to the expansion of the station, it doesn’t hurt that The Game has any absolutely stacked weekday lineup. The station has names that are big on the local stage, like Greg Papa, who was recently tabbed the California Sportscaster of the Year.
The Game also has personalities with a national profile with the likes of Ric Bucher, who was formerly a longtime NBA insider with ESPN. Then there’s the station’s stable of Athletics’ experts, led by Chris Townsend, Guy Haberman, Roxy Bernstein and Rick Tittle.
There’s no point even discussing the club’s awesome broadcast team of Ray Fosse, Ken Korach, Vince Cotroneo and Glen Kuiper, as they are technically team employees and not on the payroll at The Game. However, as the Athletics rise, so too will The Game.
It’s looking good for the Athletics on the field in 2013, and it’s sounding smooth on FM as well.