Monday, November 25, 2013

Chicago Radio: Cubs Shopping Radio Partnerships

The Chicago Cubs will have to find their way through a complicated maze if they are going to capitalize on the media assets they believe will be franchise game-changers, according to Patrick Mooney at

That could mean the end of a long relationship with WGN-AM 720, which is searching for a new radio analyst at a time when the Cubs are looking at their radio options beyond the 2014 season.

The Cubs have also been in arbitration with WGN-TV, trying to determine the market value to those rights since exercising an opt-out clause to end their deal after the 2014 season.

Industry sources said the Cubs have met with CBS Radio Chicago, though that could be a play for leverage. The White Sox are locked into WSCR-670 AM through the 2015 season. One theory floated was the Cubs could spend a bridge year on another CBS affiliate before moving to the city’s dominant sports station.

Another source mentioned that ESPN executives from the Bristol, Conn., headquarters visited with chairman Tom Ricketts in 2010, shortly after his family bought the team, as part of a WMVP 1000 AM event. The station already has a marquee local sports property — a deal with the Bulls that runs through the 2016-17 season — but sources expect the ESPN affiliate to make a run at the Cubs.

Coming off a two-year stretch in which the Cubs lost 197 games, WGN exercised an option to re-open its contract, the Chicago Tribune reported last month, meaning the flagship radio station has only one more guaranteed season.

“Like any contract, there are periods where you do a business analysis,” WGN Radio president Jimmy de Castro told the Tribune. “Both the Cubs and WGN are looking at it. We love our partnership, and we hope it continues forever. The contract calls for us to take a look at it, and we’re going to do that.”

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