Over the weekend, Rich Lieberman posted an update on the KTRB sale that doesn’t move the ball forward much. At least he implores the team to buy the station, which I wholeheartedly agree with. For those that need a refresher, the A’s flagship station, KTRB-860 AM, went into receivership a few months ago as its owner, Pappas Broadcasting, continued to endure difficult bankruptcy proceedings. The A’s were a finalist to buy the station, but word was that they weren’t willing to overpay, whatever overpaying meant. Different figures were floated over the price of the station, Big Vinny believes it’s $12 million including debt.
The A’s have been able to forge solid TV and radio deals (CSN California and KTRB respectively), and they’ve gotten their feet wet having to organize programming since the station went into receiver during the last part of the regular season. They should by all rights be able to buy the station and turn it around.
Buying the station should be a complete no-brainer now that Billy Beane has struck out on three potential acquisitions. First it was Lance Berkman, who went to St. Louis. Then it was Adrian Beltre, who has now rejected the A’s twice. Now it’s Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, for whom the A’s won the right to sign him by posting $19.1 million to his current team. The A’s had a 30-day negotiation period during which they could sign Iwakuma to a player contract, but the two sides were far apart on the money. That means that Iwakuma goes back to Japan and, if he performs well this upcoming season, will be a highly sought and even more highly paid free agent next winter (hello, Beltre).
Since the A’s are getting their $19.1 million back, why not make the big bid for the radio station? If the number truly is $12 million, it shouldn’t take much more than that to get the station’s transmitter issues resolved. There are scant few free agents worth eight figures per year at this point and possibly fewer who want to play in Oakland. That doesn’t mean giving up the free agent ghost, it just means shifting sights a bit lower with the hope that a few more 2 WAR guys makes up for not having a single 5 WAR guy.
Having a good radio station is part of a team’s media foundation. Owning a station that has good reception and programming will only increase the franchise’s value and revenue opportunities, so the move really is a no-brainer. Do the right thing, owners. Turn the page on this crappy hot stove period and get cracking on the radio station, because it’s a long-term investment that can really pay off. You know this. Buy KTRB.