The Daily News reminds us that the Yankees contract with WCBS-AM expires at the end of the 2011 season, so with it so do the contracts of radio voiced John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Moreover, there has not been any serious negotiation between the Yankees and WCBS yet, and other stations are reportedly interested in getting into the Yankees’ broadcasting business. If they do, it could mean the end of thhhhhhheeeeee line for Sterling and Waldman.
Thankfully I don’t have to listen to Sterling and Waldman very often, but I am interested in this for one angle: the Daily News says that a potential suitor for the Yankees games is the New York ESPN affiliate 1050 AM. Their signal is apparently far weaker than WCBS’s. One would think that the Yankees wouldn’t be interested in a deal that would lead to fewer viewers being able to hear the games, but if ESPN outbids WCBS, why wouldn’t they take the money? At that point the financial risk of lower ratings is on the station. We saw this dynamic play out with the Cardinals recently who, a few years ago left high-powered KMOX for a richer deal on another station that, it turns out, reached far fewer ears. The Cards have just rectified this by announcing a return to KMOX next year. The Tigers spent forever on WJR in Detroit — you could hear that signal all the way to North Carolina at night — but that ended years ago, and now you can’t follow them nearly as far outside of their local market as you used to be able to.
Who knows what will happen with the Yankees, but based on what I hear from folks about Sterling and Waldman, Yankees fans may not mind trading away a little broadcast range.