The decision to change the broadcast station of the San Diego Padres to 94.9 FM is peculiar for various different reasons.
In August the San Diego Padres made the surprising announcement that an FM station, 94.9, would broadcast games rather than 1090, the flagship station for the team since the opening of Petco Park in 2004. On the surface, the move makes little sense, but even less when the details emerge.
Thanks in part to only five winning seasons since the move to Petco, the fan base has dwindled. While most teams that host the All Star Game benefit from an increase in attendance, the Padres actually saw a decrease of more than 100,000 tickets sold.
With this decrease in mind, the decision to switch from a 50,000 watt station that can be heard as far north as Santa Barbara to a 25,000 watt FM station makes little sense. 94.9 doesn’t even reach Lake Elsinore, the home of the Class A Storm. Thanks to Bluetooth-enabled cars and the MLB app, fans can listen to games, but not to content before or after games.
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Also, a station like 1090 featuring sports talk seems a more logical broadcast partner than one with an alternative rock format. In the good old days, Padres baseball received much of the attention on 1090 during the season. Game days started with the BP Show hosted by Darren Smith, moved on to full hour of the pre-game show, and ended with the post-game show. The BP Show featured co-hosts like Tim Flannery, Randy Jones, Dave Roberts and Phil Nevin as well as other guests.
That programming undoubtedly increased interest and enthusiasm for the local team. Even when the Padres played lousy baseball, fans could learn about the game and even laugh about the mess on the field.
Beginning next year, the pre and postgame shows will be 30 minutes. The pregame host will be Rich Herrera, a name unfamiliar to locals. At least he has experience as such with the Oakland A’s, San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays.
Not surprisingly, like many decisions the Padres made under Mike Dee there is a Boston connection. 94.9 is owned by Entercom, which also owns the Boston Red Sox broadcast partner WEEI.
At a time the Padres front office should be scrambling to bring back some of fans they’ve lost and to try to attract new fans (the lifeblood of any team), this decision is another real head scratcher.