Orioles headed back to WBAL (with statement from team)
(To read Dan Connolly's full story, click here.)
After a four-season run on 105.7 The Fan, the Orioles have decided to return their radio rights to WBAL-AM 1090, the Hearst-owned station that has had a partnership with the club for much of the past six decades.
The financial arrangements of the three-year deal haven’t been disclosed. Orioles representative Alan Rifkin is scheduled to appear on WBAL tonight to announce the agreement, and the team issued a statement acknowledging the partnership.
The decision, which comes after several months of the organization's shopping its radio rights, is somewhat surprising, considering the rocky parting between the Orioles and WBAL after the 2006 season.
WBAL had served as the club’s flagship station for 19 consecutive years when the club moved to the CBS-owned 105.7 for the start of the 2007 season, the first time in nearly 40 years the Orioles weren’t heard on the AM dial.
At the time, team officials cited the exposure the organization could get on CBS’ wide range of stations as one of the determining factors in the move. The club liked that 105.7’s sister stations, which include WJZ-ESPN 1300 AM, Mix 106.5 FM and WLIF 101.9 FM, crossed different demographics.
The prevailing thought was that the Orioles would remain with 105.7 despite their four-year deal expiring after the 2010 season. The two sides did engage in several rounds of negotiations, but they were unable to hammer out a deal.
That led to the Orioles’ return to WBAL, the team’s radio home for 41 of its 57 seasons in Baltimore. WBAL partnered with the Orioles from 1957 to 1978 and again from 1988 to 2006.
The station is now the flagship of both the Orioles and the Ravens, which could create conflict during September, when the baseball season is winding down and the NFL season is starting up. WBAL does have a sister station in 98 Rock (97.9 FM).
The change is not expected to affect the on-air talent. Joe Angel and Fred Manfra, the radio voices of the Orioles, are employed by the club and are expected to return for the 2011 season. Angel and Manfra have teamed in the booth for the past eight seasons.
Here is the Orioles' news release:
The Orioles today announced that they have signed a multi-year deal with 1090 AM WBAL Radio to become the club’s radio flagship station. The partnership with WBAL Radio marks the 42nd year since Baltimore returned to the major leagues 57 years ago that the station has originated Orioles broadcasts. Orioles games were most recently heard on WBAL Radio in 2006. The station first broadcast O’s games in 1957, the club’s fourth season.
“We are excited to reestablish our relationship with WBAL Radio,” said Orioles Director of Communications Greg Bader. “Both the Orioles and WBAL Radio have a long and proud tradition in this region and we are pleased to once again call them our flagship as we look forward to an exciting 2011 season.”
WBAL Radio will broadcast all 162 Orioles 2011 regular season games, as well as a selection of spring training contests. Joe Angel and Fred Manfra will return to call the action on the Orioles Radio Network.
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