Ever since the San Diego Padres switched their radio station to 94.9, the clear shortcomings of the broadcasts have tainted one major way fans take in games.
“Whoever made the horrible decision to engage 94.9 FM as the broadcast station for the Padres needs to be fired,” wrote Joe Oviatt of Escondido in a letter to the San Diego Union Tribune.
Thankfully, that decision maker, Mike Dee, has left the building. He had demanded a ridiculous amount from 1090 for the rights fee, and when the station turned him down he chose a station affiliated with Entercom, which also partners with the Boston Red Sox. Dee’s parting gift has already come back to bite the Padres.
The problem with the change does not lie in the quality of 1090’s coverage of the Padres, as the station in the past few years devoted much more airtime to the Chargers and the NFL. The Padres had become an afterthought.
However, the departure of the Chargers would have forced a sports talk radio station like 1090 to evolve and increase the time allotted to the only major sports team left in town. Unless the format changes dramatically, the Padres will receive far less airtime on their new broadcast station.
On the day of the home opener at Petco, 1090 had plenty of Padres’ talk on both the Darren Smith and Scott and BR Shows. Despite the occasion, 94.9 limited the pre-game show to 30 minutes.
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Even worse, 94.9 does not even reach all county residents, while 1090 has a far broader potential audience thanks to its 50,000-watt signal emanating from across the border. If the team has truly committed to fielding a competitive team by 2020 it makes no sense to diminish the radio audience.
Scott Kaplan predicted that people will tune into 1090 in search of baseball, become confused and frustrated, and then end up listening to sports talk radio rather than searching for the new station. That’s hardly a way to win new fans or keep the existing base intact.
Dedicated fans can purchase the MLB.com AtBat app and listen to the games. They will miss the pre- and post-game shows, but at just 30 minutes, Rich Herrera, the host, barely has time to cover the basics.
In the ultimate irony, during the games 94.9 features frequent advertisements for an app which allows listeners to bypass the Padres completely and listen to the station’s usual alternative rock musical fare. That’s hardly a vote of confidence from the new broadcast partner of the team.