A’s sign 4-year radio deal with KBWF-FM 95.7 “The Wolf”

The A’s press release is available now.

For some part of the next four years, A’s games will be broadcast on 95.7, KBWF-FM, a.k.a. “The Wolf.” It’s a country station, broadcasting with a Class B license atop San Bruno Mountain at 6,900 watts. The coverage map from radio-locator looks like this:

While 6,900 watts is not the most powerful of signals, KBWF is augmented by a 186 W (that’s right) repeater near Mt. Diablo, which is meant to help the station’s coverage in Contra Costa County. The FCC’s service contour map can be found here, though it should be pointed out that the single line in that map reflects the same coverage as the red line in the map above.

Perhaps the biggest and most unknown takeaway of all of this is the fact that the deal was with Entercom, the radio giant that owns Sharks broadcaster KUFX. Entercom isn’t looking to sell individual stations, so the chance that it might unload one of its properties to a non-radio entity like the A’s is slim. It’s unclear what this means for KTRB. The A’s press release makes no mention of Comerica Bank-owned station. If this was yet another hardball tactic in ongoing negotiations, it may push the bank to take a less hard line stance. As for KTRB, the A’s pursuit of the station is over according to Susan Slusser. Via SuSlu’s Twitter feed:

The #Athletics pursuit of 860 AM is at an end. They offered more than double what it was worth and had signed letter of intent to buy.

#Athletics VP Ken Pries on the receiver’s motives for terminating team broadcasts: “You can speculate. Leverage? Up the offer? Hardball?”

If the receiver for 860 AM was trying to play hardball, she lost big-time. Only the #Athletics had incentive to overpay for troubled station

Pries says the team will now try to find affiliate in Monterey area with demise of 860 AM. #athletics

That last tweet is for Bleacher Dave. If the A’s simply thought the price was too high, it’s possible that KTRB’s existence as the other sports radio station in the Bay Area will be short-lived, as whomever buys the station will surely go with a different format.

We can’t end this without a joke, this one from Ken Arneson:

So I’m assuming that the A’s new radio station “95.7 The Wolf” will soon change its name to “The Wolff”?

It’s a sad day for the many of us who wanted an alternative to the KNBR hegemony. At least the A’s have a broadcast deal going forward. How long this one lasts… well, we wouldn’t be A’s fans if we knew.

P.S. – Wherever you are in the Bay Area, please turn on KBWF and let us know how the coverage sounds. The signal is constant day and night, so it should not be affected by the transmission power rules that plagued previous stations.

P.P.S. – Pre and postgame coverage will remain as is with Chris Townsend doing the honors (he is employed by the A’s). Over the last couple of months, KBWF has garnered a 1.1 rating, good for 26th in the San Francisco market (#4 nationwide) and just above rival country station KRTY, which pulled in a 1.0. In the San Jose market (#34), KRTY gets a 3.1 while KBWF (13th) pulls in 0.7 (30th).

55 thoughts on “A’s sign 4-year radio deal with KBWF-FM 95.7 “The Wolf”

  1. How does this effect Chris Townsend’s pre and post games show?

  2. I read that he’ll still be on both pre and post game. Hizah!!!

  3. Clear as a bell in central Marin, which is a very nice change. But it had to be country? It would be so nice to be on a station that I’d actually like to listen to when the A’s aren’t on. C’est la vie…

  4. signal is a lot better than what the a’s have had in YEARS. but losing the potential that 860 had as a alternative sports station will STINK!!!!

    i don’t know if the a’s are really out of buying 860. even if the receiver for the station does lower their price, will the a’s bite?

    really stinks to lose tittle from 10-12, guess have to listen to him online now but won’t be the same.

  5. 860 reception was a major problem. There is no point in having a 24hr sports station if you can only hear it during daylight hours. I think the strategy is sound, no pun intended. Sign a short team deal with a strong station and revisit the 24hr sports station a few years down the line, once the ballpark situation has been resolved.
    .
    Also, I imagine Robert Buan is scrambling to get his country fastball show back in affiliation with the A’s.

  6. Not the best outcome, but this is an improvement over the current situation. KTRB’s signal was horrendous – in the car, going up hill – static; at home in Oakland after 7:30 PM – dead.

  7. reception at night wasn’t great even before the station went into receivership late in the season but i never had issues with it here in oakland. i personally never had issues thru out this radio fiasco about going to station to station every other year it seems for the past decade.

    course ever since baseball season the signal for 860 at night was basically unlistenable but it was rumored that the previous owners were about to improve the signal before the station went into receivership so who knows how good the signal would’ve been had the previous owner actually followed thru with the plan or if the a’s did gain control of the station and followed thru with what the previous owners were about to do or somehow improve the signal their own way.

    can’t believe i’m stuck with knbr now. and who knows if the kings themselves move from sactown to anaheim as it looks like it will, who knows if 1140 will survive as a sports station leaving knbr as the only sports radio station here in northern california. don’t even want to think about it.

    yes lets hope down the road the a’s can work out something and get their own sports station to broadcast games. course who the hell knows when the park/sj situation will be settled with that butthead selig taking his sweet time.

  8. also in that blog entry slusser pointed out the a’s had already bought up a generator for the station for night games and probably would stink more money into improving the signal at night.

    even if the a’s down the road were to look into buying a station, how likely is it that the station would be any easier to purchase in terms of price or if the signal would be better than what 860 could’ve become had they bought it. even though the a’s feel they would’ve paid double what the value of the station was, how much was that price and would it be close to the price to buy other local radio stations here in the bay area.

    all in all it’s nice to have a signal that’s probably better than what the a’s have had over the past decade but stinks to come this close to get your own sports station that promotes your team and basically go back to what a’s have had had pre 860 the past two years for the most part and that’s having pre and post game shows to get your fix of a’s off the field related news/talk thru the days/weeks.

  9. From Susan Slusser: “Among the most significant aspects of the deal: The new station comes in perfectly in Berkeley and the Oakland hills, areas that the A’s former station, 860 AM, did not reach well at all”

    Check out the coverage map. Is this the kind of move the team would make if they expected the geographic core of their fan base to shift to Santa Clara County in the near future?

  10. Comes in loud and clear in Palo Alto

  11. This is the Matt Carson of radio deals.

  12. @simon: Was this deal done by a team who had time to sit around and think about it?

    • No one should be reading anything about the stadium situation into this. Beggars can’t be choosers. Plus the deal runs through the 2014 season – before any ballpark can be completed – and as we’ve seen in the past, agreements can easily be terminated early.

  13. According to the official press release it is 2011-2014 seasons- as ML suggested reading anything into this other than they have a station that meets their minimum needs would be a large stretch-

  14. I see conspiracy theory all over this one. If you rearrange the letters of “country radio station,” you can almost spell contraction.

  15. if this means the end of Rick Tittle on the Bay Area radio dial, I’m gonna be pissed. I have no interest in listening to a country music station… not now, not ever.

  16. Gonna force myself to listen to country on the way home. Nice try Simon (LOL).

  17. gotta wonder what happens to this person from the bank who tried to play hardball and lost. to get a price of double of what the station is thought to be worth and in the end the bank will probably a lot money after they sell it to the next highest bidder, maybe millions.

    don’t root for anybody to lose their job in this climate but this uecker lady should be updating her resume.

  18. Looks like the best reception will be in the Pacific Ocean. Awesome.

    Do any South Bay people remember “Z 95.7” from about 15 years ago? When they first debuted on air, they went about a month(?) with commercial-free music, and I was hooked. I left Elvis and JV at Hot 97.7 and began listening to the commercial-free stuff, which seemed like quite the novelty before Internet radio was pervasive.

  19. Makes me wonder what Neukom has been up to….you just never know-

  20. @Jacob, yeah, I used to listen to Z 95.7 back in middle and high school.

  21. z95.7 was top 40 stuff. basically they aired music from the teen/latin pop explosion back in the late 90s-early 2000s along with adult contemporary.

    they’ve been switching formats for much of the past decade since. mostly country i think.

  22. As of 3pm: loud and clear in south SJ, Coyote Valley and Morgan Hill. However, lots of static in Gilroy hills.
    Will try again tomorrow night after shift. Go A’s: Neukom is now abiding by a gag order (as is Wolff) issued by Selig.
    The silence is now deafening and that’s a good thing.

  23. 95.7 the Wolff Hates You… I wonder what everyone feels about this move? Rich Lieberman reported that Comerica just took it in the shorts. Poker and the A’s didn’t blink.
    .
    I wonder how this will get spun as really bad for everyone who follows the A’s by baseballoakland?
    .
    Looks like the A’s come out of this smelling like a rose and looking more than competent.

    • 95.7 the Wolff Hates You… I wonder what everyone feels about this move? Rich Lieberman reported that Comerica just took it in the shorts. Poker and the A’s didn’t blink..I wonder how this will get spun as really bad for everyone who follows the A’s by baseballoakland?.Looks like the A’s come out of this smelling like a rose and looking more than competent.

      Jeffrey,
      Again just my theory, but now the A’s are in position to go after the Kings stake in CSNCA. They can try again for their own radio station, alternative to KNBR after 2014. Good move on their part I agree!

  24. Radio will be dead by 2015. If the A’s want a radio station, it should be on the Internet. The technology to hear it in cars will be widespread in a few years.

  25. I give this two years at the max, maybe one. And don’t tell me about the 4 year deal. The A’s had along term deal with CBS to broadcast on 106 FM, and how long was the KTRB deal for? What this really tells me is that the stadium issue is nowhere near deing resolved, otherwise they’d have paid the price for KTRB and made the improvements. Otherwise, the station is a piece of crap and the A’s did the right thing by backing away. Where’s all that Silicon Valley money that could have swooped in and bought the station for Lew?

    • I give this two years at the max, maybe one. And don’t tell me about the 4 year deal. The A’s had along term deal with CBS to broadcast on 106 FM, and how long was the KTRB deal for? What this really tells me is that the stadium issue is nowhere near deing resolved, otherwise they’d have paid the price for KTRB and made the improvements. Otherwise, the station is a piece of crap and the A’s did the right thing by backing away. Where’s all that Silicon Valley money that could have swooped in and bought the station for Lew?

      Rob, Just stop while you’re behind will ya. By the way, the Rays principal owner thinks the stadium situation IS close to being resolved. Hmm, believe him or you?

    • @georob – You had me until the last sentence, which was merely trollbait. Sometimes it simply comes down to whether or not the price is fair. The A’s nearly bid against themselves for Iwakuma in November, they could’ve done the same here.

      @Tony D. – I’m not so sure about the Kings’ stake in CSNCA. I’m looking into it.

      • @georob – You had me until the last sentence, which was merely trollbait. Sometimes it simply comes down to whether or not the price is fair. The A’s nearly bid against themselves for Iwakuma in November, they could’ve done the same here.@Tony D. – I’m not so sure about the Kings’ stake in CSNCA. I’m looking into it.

        Thanks R.M.; just a theory, that’s all (would be nice though).

  26. To me, unless you’re on one of the true AM clears or live in a community far from the big city, sports should be on FM. Good move by the A’s.

    Here in NYC, the Yanks and Mets are on true AM clears (880 and 660, respectively), the Nets and Devils are on 660 (unless there’s conflict, as often happens with the Nets, who then jump around several AM stations) but the Knicks and Rangers are on ESPN 1050, which can received on a decent radio in the city but many people in the suburbs have trouble getting. The rumor going around now is that ESPN wants to purchase 101.9, which now is a rock station.

    The Nationals also went to FM, after being on a heritage AM station. So even brand-name AM stations aren’t the big deal they once were.

  27. Perfectly clear signal in San Leandro near the Castro Valley border in the hills above 580.

  28. @Tony D

    I wouldn’t say Sternberg thinks that we’re getting close to being resolved:

    “As the A’s, the other team with a stadium issue, work toward a resolution, and baseball heads into negotiations for a new labor agreement, there is a sense that a clock, somewhere in MLB’s New York offices, is ticking.

    “It seems clearer to me by the day that we’re going to be the last man standing,” Sternberg said. “And everything I know, and talking to these guys, baseball is just not going to stand for it anymore.'”

    Apparently, he just thinks we’re better off than they are w/r/t to stadiums. That’s like being the car with the least damage in an accident.

  29. Call it trollbait all you want, but it’s a fair question.

  30. georob… How is it it a fair question? Explain the logic, I don’t get it.. Buying sponsorships and charter seats to help build a stadium is not remotely the same as ponying up for a radio station purchase. That is what you are suggesting, right?

    • @georob – As Jeffrey wrote, there is no relation. A radio station is a separate business entity that has to be financed and operated on its own. It has to pencil out. No group is going to come in and make a charitable play to make it work. Using your logic, the entire East Bay has to be faulted for never getting a proper competitor for KNBR in place over the last 30 years despite having multiple teams. Is that really the case? Of course not, the market is much more complex than that.

  31. Signal was a little fringe-like driving around Santa Clara and Sunnyvale last evening, but still far superior to that crappy AM station. Also, I was in my 2001 Saturn, which does not have good reception on fairly distant FM stations – the signal was much better this morning in my 2001 B3000.

  32. from the chron fri…

    “It’s believed that the A’s bid in the range of $7 million. In addition, the team was preparing to spend an additional $2 million to upgrade the nighttime transmitter.”

    so im guessing the bank wanted in the low teens in millions for the station. i’ve read some a’s fans who would argue that the a’s spent 10 mil on sheets who turned out to be a bust last year and wolff was saying he’d like to renovate phx stadium the a’s st park down in arz and that could cost up to 30 million, so why couldn’t they spend maybe the extra 3-4 mil to buy their own radio station and turn it into the east bay version of knbr.

    also read from a poster at lieberman’s blog that recently two fm stations in sj with big signals sold for 9 million. so the bank was wanting more than what two better stations were bought for recently.

    anyway personally i still hope an all sports station will show up for a’s, raiders, sharks fans down the road. maybe it’ll be on the fm dial instead of am dial.

  33. Hey… It’s Opening Night!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I will be sitting here in a few hours!!!!!!

  34. lga… I’d say that is the wrong way to look at buying a radio station. Ben Sheets was a one year thing, he blows up and big whoop. Phoenix Muni (which isn’t actually about Lew Wolff paying $30M it is him loaning the City of Phoenix $30M and them paying it back) is different too. I’d imagine there is some due diligence that was done to figure out what a station dedicated 100% to the “other” teams would actually make and how long that would take to pay back/turn a profit. I trust that the A’s determined it wouldn’t work out if they spent any mor ethan $9M on the thing.

  35. All I know is that I’ve been reading for five years here how the high tech companies are just chomping at the bit to open their wallets and support a South Bay baseball team if it ever came to pass. If so, wouldn’t it make sense to invest in a media outlet that would be dedicated to the news and SPORTS of the South Bay? Lew Wolff could be very instrumental in making it happen even if he didn’t spend a dime on the thing. BTW, do you think for one second that the Giants consider KNBR a “separate business entity?” Larry Krueger found out the hard way.

  36. @georob Aside from the valid points already made by others, you’ve answered your own question. “high tech companies are just chomping at the bit to open their wallets and support a South Bay baseball team If it ever came to pass.” Right now, the A’s are not a South Bay team. Also, to second Briggs, it seems questionable whether a terrestrial radio station is a great long-term investment right now.

  37. Just give those high-tech companies the chance to open their wallets and support a South Bay/SJ MLB team and the rest will follow (A’s radio, RSN stake, increased payroll, etc etc).

  38. just think it’ll hurt the a’s brand even more now that a’s fans got a taste of talking a’s baseball during the day got them with tittle and jj/mouth, especially tittle who was an a’s fan and it was essentially pulled away from them just under two years later, really about a year plus since tittle came on during the latter stages of 2009 i think.

    what now we have to wait maybe 3 or 4 years to get that back if it’ll ever happen again. like kicking the can down the street another handful of years when you thought you had it in your hands the past 2-3 months.

  39. @letsgoa’s–agree with your post 100%. On the bright side, i get “The Wolf” signal very clear all times of the day and night here in North/Central Hayward in both cars and radios in the house.
    Does it have to be Country, though? Arghhh!! The Sharks lucked out and are on a good classic rock station, KFOX. I’d settle for the classical station that once was on 102.1, that KFOX took over. You got Sharks in the SB and NB now. Too bad I’m not into the Sharks or hockey for that matter. To be honest, the voice of the Sharks play-by-play guy is a little hard to listen too.

  40. So Tony, as is often speculated here; a deal is “imminent” to bring the A’s to SJ then I would think getting a solid radio package would be one of the first items on the agenda, especially since one is for sale, albeit a “fixxer-upper” But the radio deal didn’t happen because the satdium deal isn’t.

  41. @Rob,
    Whatever. Go A’s!

  42. I listened to the radio station on the way home from the game Crystal clear in Oakland, slightly crackly passing through Livermore and progressively worse as I climbed up the Altamont Pass. Basically no reception from the downgrade towards Tracy and never improved into Stockton. With 860 at least I got it in Stockton.

  43. lets face it whatever station the a’s realistically could get on be had they bought and stayed on 860 even with the improvements they were gonna make with the night time transmitter, some other middle of the road am station like 1550, and now an FM station in 95.7…heck even go back to when they were on 106.9 back in 08…they’re not gonna be heard clearly thru out the bay area and a’s fans from all different parts of northern california will have issues.

    just not many local stations here in the bay area that have the power to broadcast the games clearly either in the day or not. the only station that had a chance that was rumored at least was 810 and really didn’t see that happening as at least in the ratings they’re still doing a whole lot better with their rebranded programming than had they brought in the a’s.

  44. http://boards.radio-info.com/smf/index.php?topic=188247.10

    somebody posted here that fm stations that make money get bought up for around 4 million or less and in another thread it was posted that two FM stations in SJ got sold for 7 million. if that’s the going rate and the a’s offered to spend up to 9 million for 860.

    what’s the chances the a’s would buy an fm station or even 95.7 and switch it to an all sports format. basically do what they wanted to do with 860 with 95.7 or some other fm station that is looking to be sold off for possibly half the price?

  45. Horrible reception in Vacaville. Same story (but not quite as bad) with 105.5 (Sacramento affiliate) and 1440 (Napa).

  46. Reception was pretty good on a drive between Saratoga and SF on 280. So that’s good. The call letters “KBWF” sounds like a regional wrestling promotion too, which is sorta fitting for a country station.

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