It was one of the risks the A's took by agreeing to make 106.9 FREE-FM their flagship station this season. The A's figured some of their fans may not take to the station's shock-jock format, but the tradeoff was a station with a strong signal and a quality sound.
Now, the A's are closer to getting the best of both worlds. FREE-FM changed its format to classic rock a couple weeks ago, and changed its call letters to KFRC, which formerly belonged to 610-AM and 99.7-FM. However, CBS Radio, which owns six stations in the Bay Area market, moved three of its syndicated talk show hosts, including Leykis, over to KYOU 1550-AM to fulfill contractual obligations. KYOU also is part of the A's network.
"Obviously, we're not real happy with it, but we understand it," A's vice president of communications and broadcasting Ken Pries said. "I think what we have on FM now outweighs any concern on AM."
The A's are one of only three teams in Major League Baseball whose games are carried on the FM dial -- Atlanta and Washington are the others. The A's made the move to FM because KYOU's signal wasn't strong enough to satisfy their entire fan base.
There aren't any official numbers yet that demonstrate how many fans are listening on FM compared to AM, but Pries believes the team's radio future lies on the FM dial.
"I think we're definitely going in the right direction from a format standpoint," Pries said. "I actually expected them to stay with the (shock jock) format a lot longer. The fact that they're (changing) it now is a win from our standpoint."
Because FREE-FM formerly filled most of its time slots with syndicated programming, there wasn't any opportunity for games to be promoted at other times of the day. KFRC general manager Steve DiNardo said the new format allows for player interviews on other shows and more cross-promotion of its coverage of the A's.
"The format is very American, so it syncs up with baseball quite nicely," DiNardo said. "There's not content on the radio station that anyone will find objectionable. There might be songs that you don't like, but there won't be anything said that people will be put off by."
FAILED EXPERIMENT?: So much for the hypothesis that fans would rather hear their local announcers in the postseason.
Fox Sports Net Bay Area took the gamble of televising three Warriors playoff games and was killed by TNT and ESPN in the ratings. While all NBA postseason games are aired on either TNT, ESPN or ABC, the league gives local rights-holders the choice of directly competing against the national broadcasts. FSNBA promoted the broadcasts during A's, Giants and Sharks games.
FSNBA broadcast two of the six games during the Warriors' first-round win against Dallas, and was outrated by TNT by an average score of 6.16 to 3.51 in the Bay Area. FSNBA aired Game 3 of the Warriors second-round series against Utah and was beaten by ESPN 6.08 to 2.72.
THE CLICKER: ESPN2 will broadcast Major League Baseball's first-year player draft on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ... Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy will be ABC's broadcast team for the NBA Finals, beginning with Game 1 on Thursday.
Contact Jonathan Okanes at firstname.lastname@example.org.