Cubs announce new flagship radio station
Hughes to remain voice of club; move up the dial ends 90-year run
CHICAGO -- The Cubs formally announced WBBM-AM 780 as their new flagship radio station, signing a seven-year deal, beginning with the 2015 season.
Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer will continue as the Cubs' radio broadcasters.
The move signals the end of the Cubs' 90-year relationship with WGN-AM 720, which broadcast its first game Oct. 1, 1924, when Grover Alexander pitched a complete-game 10-7 exhibition victory over the White Sox at Cubs Park.
The new broadcast rights are part of a multiyear sports and entertainment partnership that includes promotional initiatives across all seven of CBS Radio's local Chicago stations and the company's digital and social platforms. The Cubs and CBS Radio will also collaborate to create and produce live music events at Wrigley Field. Dan Mason, president and CEO of CBS Radio, called the deal "an intersection of music and sports."
Rod Zimmerman, senior vice president and market manager of CBS Radio Chicago, called this "truly a historic day in Chicago radio."
"It's a rare opportunity that broadcast rights to such exclusive content like the Chicago Cubs becomes available," Zimmerman said. "We are all beyond excited to move forward with this partnership that will bring Cubs baseball to a new level of engagement with fans throughout Chicago and the nation."
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, speaking at the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday, said the team was simply changing sations.
"We've had a great relationship with WGN," Ricketts said. "We like all the people there. Things change, and it was just time for a new partner."
WGN Radio had exercised an option to reopen its contract. WGN Radio president Jimmy de Castro said Wednesday they decided not to renew with the Cubs because it did not make "business sense."
Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said the club was "humbled" by the amount of interest. He said the turning point in the discussions came in January when CBS executives were discussing the Cubs and knew the stats of players on the Minor League roster.
"One thing we know about this [CBS Radio] team, they love baseball and they know our team," Kenney said.
This is CBS Radio's 25th sports deal across the country and seventh Major League Baseball deal.
For those who want to hear WBBM's traffic and weather updates when the North Siders are playing, they will just need to flip to FM. When Cubs games are broadcast on WBBM-AM 780, the station will continue its news format on 105.9 FM.
CBS Radio also plans to replicate the Cubs Radio Network in the Midwest.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.