Second Tier

Opening day for the Oakland A’s was on the road last Monday. They played in Seattle, a 3:30 start. I thought I’d listen to the game so I fiddled with the radio, looked in the Sacramento Bee for some stations, fiddled with the radio some more . . . and came face to face with the sad realization that I couldn’t actually LISTEN to free broadcast radio of the Oakland A’s, parent club to the AAA Sacramento River Cats, in the Sacramento area.

After messing around with Google, IMing with my son, more Googling, I finally got the name of a guy who knew the guy who was in charge of the A’s radio network, such as it is. And I learned that the A’s do have affiliate here in Sacramento, it’s just that that station, KHTK 1140 AM, is too busy doing other things during the weekdays to actually broadcast A’s baseball. So suddenly Sacramento has become a second tier market for the A’s. The sad part: it’s not really the A’s fault. The problem lies with the corporate nature of radio these days.

There are many radio stations out there pumping content into vast wasteland (thanks Martin Minnow) and they are all part of vast corporate comglomorates. Finding a station not a part of some large megalith is quite difficult. Finding programming that hasn’t been run through twelve different focus groups, been vetted by the FCC for content, and then surrounded by the local equivalent of drooling crazed weasles is almost impossible. The last bastion might even be KDVS, the UC Davis campus radio station. Thank heaven that this resource is still out there and available and not sucked under to broadcast NPR day and night as so many other college and university radio stations have been. (That’s YOU Sac State and UOP, in case you missed it.)

I’d suggest that we deserve better . . . but I think we have exactly what we DO deserve. Now, live baseball is forced through a 20 second delay in case an announcer, or some fan with a potty mouth, says something offensive that an irate listener can use to have a radio station’s license pulled – all in the name of “decency” by the thought police in Washington. This makes it impossible to listen to an A’s game in the ball park because what you’re listening to happened 20 seconds ago out on the field. It’s madness.

Itt’s insane that the A’s couldn’t even find an FM station in our area to carry games. Instead we’re forced to either hope we can get KYCY 1550 (whose signal might punch its way out of a wet paper bag on a really good day) or we buy into XM satellite radio and listen to the home team announcers, or we pay to listen over the internet – which doesn’t solve how to enjoy a game while fishing, driving or cycling (okay, maybe being plugged into the radio while cycling isn’t such a good idea, the state of cell-phone disabled drivers being what it is . . . another essay . . .)

At least we can listen to the River Cats in real time even when they have morning starts, out on the road. I’m thankful for that.

2 Comments so far

  1. Gary Wiens (unregistered) on April 4th, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

    I live in San Jose and finally can get the A’s on the radio (106.9). Last year there was an AM station here in SJ that carried the games; however, I could barley receive the station and I live in San Jose! I get 1550 with a great deal of static.

    I wouldn’t pay MLB for the privilege to listen on the Internet. However, I would seriously consider XM.

  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on April 4th, 2007 @ 7:54 pm

    It’s really disappointing that more can’t be done to make this work again. Boo on 1140 for not playing the A’s. Boo on the A’s for not working harder for a real affiliate. Boo on the FCC for the 20 second delay.

    But, if this encourages more folks to go out and see the ‘Cats in person, it’s not a bad thing.

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