Note: this started off as a response to a comment on my earlier post about the Flagship’s lousy job at promoting the Nats. The proposition debated: Shouldn’t the Nationals be carried on a clear-channel AM station?
The short answer: It would be nice, but it’s not possible. There are no clear-channel transmitters in the DC metro area whose antennas radiate over what you’d expect the Nationals’ “home” broadcast territory to be.
In the D.C. Metro area, there is one AM clear-channel station: WFED 1500, which uses the old WTOP 50 kW blowtorch transmitter. But WFED’s antenna is highly directional: it radiates mostly to the east, presumably so as not to interfere with KSTP 1500-AM in St. Paul.
Notice how the communities that can receive WFED 1500-AM over the air are all in Orioles Country (that is, WBAL’s broadcast area).
The bulk of the Nats radio hinterland is to the south and west, and the FCC’s clear channel broadcaster list doesn’t show those cities much love. WWVA 1170-AM out of Wheeling, WV radiates east, but won’t reach over the mountains to get the western suburbs. The Nats’ current West Virginia affiliate, WRNR-AM 740′s paltry 21 night-time watts wont’ reach beyond Shepherdstown.
The ideal pattern of Nationals Radio affiliates (not counting WJFK-FM and WFED-AM) would need to include WINC-FM, whose mountaintop antenna yields a ground wave that propagates far and wide across most counties where we might expect Nats fans to live.
Instead, we’ve got to make do with trying to find WFJK-FM over the air. The HD Radio options are nonsense. Nobody actually has an HD radio tuner, anyway–it’s almost as much to buy MLB.TV or Gameday Audio and listen in that way.