First in War, First in Peace, Last in the Hearts of Flagship Radio Station Programming Directors

Your Washington Nationals are the best team in baseball. They have the best record in the major leagues. They are playing thrilling baseball to ever-growing crowds. They have brought a pennant race to DC for the first time since Franklin Roosevelt was President.

So, how does their Flagship radio station promote them? Well…

Which prompted Charlie Slowes, the voice of the Nationals, to remind the Flagship:

It’s enough to make Jim Vance furious. In fact, this sort of thing did make Jim Vance furious a few weeks back, but apparently, nobody at WJFK was listening.

The Nationals are playing playoff-quality baseball, while the Flagship is talkin’ ’bout practice. Not a game. Practice.

Now, I’m a huge Redskins fan, and I’ll probably have a television tuned in to see what the Redskins are working on. But you better believe I’m going to have the radio turned on and turned up so I can hear Charlie and Dave call a real, live Nats game.

Heck, if anything this sort of phenomenon is a huge opportunity for WJFK. They should be reminding DC sports fans that, while their eyes may be on the Redskins, WJFK can keep their minds and their ears on the Nationals’ phenomenal 2012 season.

But instead, they’re talkin’ ’bout practice. Not a Nats game. Practice.

3 thoughts on “First in War, First in Peace, Last in the Hearts of Flagship Radio Station Programming Directors

  1. The Nats have been generally well-run since the Lerners took over. There have been some lapses. The cacophony of noise at the ballpark is completely off-putting to me. Do not play The Final Countdown before the 9th inning. The food and beer is way, way overpriced.

    That aside, my biggest complaint is that the Lerners appear clueless about radio. The great American baseball teams play baseball on clear channel AM stations which means that all of their fans (at least in their half of the country) can, barring unusual atmospheric conditions, hear the games after dark on AM. I routinely listen to Reds, Yankees, Cardinals, Mets, Phillies and Indians games at night in Maryland. Cubs and White Sox games come in as well, albeit not as strong where I live. The Pirates, Braves, and Red Sox are three notable teams that have chosen not to put their home games on clear channel stations, which means local listeners only. This is a huge mistake.

    One reason why the Cardinals and Reds have done so well historically in small markets is that basically everyone on the East coast can always hear Reds’ night games on WLW, formerly the strongest station, apparently, in the world and now, still at 50,000 omni-directional watts. The Cardinals dominated with KMOX for decades, both on the the East coast, and even the Rocky Mountains, before opting to switch to a small local channel. Two years later, they switched back. The Yankees come in loud and clear on 880 WCBS. The Pirates used to be on the famous KDKA, but right in line with all the errors since the early 90’s, the Pirates switched to a non-clear channel AM station years ago.

    Back to the Nats.

    The Nats are on 1500 WTOP, which is sort of a clear channel station, but for some reason it doesn’t come in as strong as most. The same is true for the Orioles’ flagship, WBAL, which seems stronger than WTOP during the day in the western DC suburbs, but seems less strong than WTOP at night.

    WTOP-AM seems to be highly north to south directional, not omni-directional, as are 50-K watt stations KMOX and WLW.

    It barely comes in, at all, in Frederick County, Maryland, 40 miles to the west of DC, but comes in fairly well in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

    106.7 apparently emits from both D.C. and Martinsburg, WV, which is the end of the MARC train route. If you live in Frederick County, Maryland, 106.7 sort of comes in, if you keep adjusting the antenna., which is what I had to do during the Derecho while listening on battery power. During the day, WTOP sister station 820 AM comes in great from Frederick, but it signs off at dark.

    Long story short.

    The Nats need to be on a clear channel AM station. None of these stations have any decent programming, so it should be that hard. Unfortunately, there aren’t a huge number of choices in the MASN region. Basically, there are two. WBT in Charlotte, NC, which is actually probably more of a Braves region, but is on the fringe of MASN’s territory. There is also a clear channel in Richmond, which is a bit less powerful, but more in the heart of Nats’ territory.

  2. Short answer to your post: 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.

    Here’s the problem: There are only so many clear-channel night-time AM transmitters out there. Here’s the FCC’s list (naturally, Wikipedia’s version is more user-friendly.

    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.

  3. Pingback: Nats Radio: Loud and Clear (channels)? | Natstradamus

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