30 January 2006

The New A's Radio World Order

The A's haven't yet officially announced which stations will carry games for the 2006 season. Based on A's-related programming emerging recently on KYCY-1550, and information fans are picking up from tickets, it looks like KTRB-860 will also carry the A's. Assuming this is correct, here's how the radio landscape will look like when the season starts.

KYCY-1550 (
KYOU-Radio) is the "Podcast" station out of Belmont. It has a directional signal which is aimed up the Peninsula towards San Francisco. That means the South Bay and non-Marin North Bay won't be covered well by KYCY's signal. KYCY previously had an application to relocate to the San Jose area, but the station's parent, radio giant CBS Infinity, pulled the request last fall. To understand your relationship to the station's transmitter, take a look at the two links below from

KTRB-860 is a little more complicated. For the last ten years, the Pappas-owned newstalk station was based out of the Modesto area with a 50,000-watt signal during the day and 10,000-watt signal at night. Last year Pappas announced its intention to invade the Bay Area, and so they did. When construction is complete, it will essentially be a 50,000-watt station day and night. However, it will have three different transmitter locations. During the day KTRB will transmit from the area just south of Sears Point/Infineon Raceway. At night, the transmitter will be in the hills south of Livermore. KTRB will also have a critical hours transmitter that operates only during the dawn and dusk hours at 40,000 watts. That transmitter will be located near Bethel Island.

I tried calling the KTRB offices to check on the status of transmitter construction, but all I get is a busy signal. E-mail is next. KTRB's construction permit expires on May 27, so there should be some urgency for them to build everything quickly. As for the old Modesto station, Pappas is planning to replace its old 860-Modesto station with KPMP-840, also based out of Modesto. Here's hoping that the A's managed to work a deal in which KPMP also becomes a station on the network so that at least a portion of the Central Valley is covered.

To see how these changes can affect listeners, I've created a table showing the start times for the 2006 season.

The twilight period (4-8 PM based on the season) could be tricky as the KTRB critical hours transmitter kicks in. I'm not sure if a 4:05 PM broadcast from the Eastern Time Zone will switch transmitters midstream or not until the after the game is completed; some clarification from radio technical folks would be appreciated.

Based on the footprint represented by combining the coverage maps, here's where I expect listeners to dial in based on the schedule:
  • East Bay 880 Corridor: KTRB-860 or KYCY-1550 for both day and night games
  • Tri-Valley, 680 Corridor, and further inland: KTRB-860 for both day and night games
  • Sonoma/Napa/Solano Counties: KTRB-860 for both day and night games
  • SF/Peninsula: KYCY-1550 for both day and night games
  • Marin: KTRB-860 for day games, KYCY-1550 or KTRB-860 for night games
  • South Bay: KTRB-860 for both day and night games
Of course, this is dependent on the new KTRB transmitters being operational before the start of the season, which AFAIK isn't the case yet. Who's left out? Portions of Santa Cruz County, all of Monterey and San Benito Counties, and southern Santa Clara County (south San Jose, Morgan Hill, Gilroy). Sacramento's also in the dark at night, while it should be able to get day games on KTRB.


Georob said...

Man, I hope you're right about KTRB. Because they are essentially a "new" station, I always felt they'd be a logical choice because they aren't locked into an existing format already.

The next question is will they also carry all the pre and post-game stuff(particularly Robert Buan's show) After all, it's the talk shows and the promotion that goes with it that really give the Giants a boost on KNBR.

Looking down the road...

1)Since KTRB is not owned by one of the big companies, I wonder if Lew Wolff would be open to buying all or part of it from Pappas at a future date?

2)Is Disney still selling ITS radio properties? (KGO, KSFO and Radio Disney...the old KDIA)

3)I wonder if and when HD radio plays a role, particularly when recievers get cheaper? Clear Channel and CBS are already equipping their stations for it, and my mouth waters at the thought of the A's being the "HD2" offering on a monster like KCBS 740.

peanut gallery said...

Excellent question about the pre and post game shows, georob. It would be great if those were carried on both stations, but I guess that is unlikely. I happen to be in the area that should get both stations once the new transmitters are built, so it's all good for me either way. But more exposure is better.

Marine Layer said...

With two stations, it's unclear which one would be the flagship. Maybe both? Since they overlap, ad time might be tricky, especially since they have different corporate parents. The flagship(s) will carry the pre and post, that's how it usually works.

What is more ideal (and less likely) is for one of the two stations to turn to a sportstalk format.

1) I doubt that the A's would get more than a small part of a Pappas station, and that would be in exchange for some interest in the team. Pappas is a pretty big regional broadcaster with plenty of TV properties as well.

2) Disney has waffled on selling ABC Radio, but it looks like it's close to happening, if for no other reason than the fact the sale can help fund the Pixar acquisition. No station is going to get sold on a piecemeal basis.

3) HD is going to require some significant market penetration before it becomes any kind of factor. Maybe in a decade.

Georob said...

Look at KTRB's current transmitter reach: pretty good I'd say. Were it not for the fact that Pappas is moving it to 840, I'd wonder why they're building new transmitters at all. So even if the new transmitters take longer to build than expected, we'll be covered.

(BTW 860 comes in great in Fresno in the daytime, which probably won't be the case after the change)

You're probably right about HD. However, the "multicasting" is starting right now at many stations, so I'm hoping for more like five years. Especially if companies like Clear Channel and CBS want to push this as an alternative to subscription radio via satellite.

Otherwise, it's just a matter of upgrading your reciever. Much like people did in the 70's when FM started going mainstream

Marine Layer said...

The prospects for KPMP-840 aren't great. It looks to be a low wattage station - 4 kW during the day and 10 kW at night. Still, I hope it picks up the A's just like its sister station.