The Quad Cities River Bandits (Low Class A; Midwest League) are returning to radio for game broadcasts, and this might be a trend that extends throughout Minor League Baseball.
The team announced today that every regular season and playoff game will be broadcast live on 1170 AM K-BOB Real Country, a Townsquare Media Quad Cities station. K-BOB delivers the largest listenership of any station to ever broadcast River Bandits games on radio. Each broadcast will be anchored by River Bandits Broadcaster and Director of Media Relations Marco LaNave, entering his fourth season as the Voice of the Bandits. LaNave also began broadcasting high school sports for Townsquare Media Quad Cities stations last September.
“We are delighted to work with our great partners at Townsquare Media Quad Cities to broadcast all of the exciting action of River Bandits baseball on one of the Quad Cities’ most popular country stations,” said River Bandits owner Dave Heller. “Radio remains an effective and beloved medium, and at a time when other teams are discontinuing radio, we are really happy to be ramping it up. The Quad Cities loves country music, and they love their Bandits, so our new partnership with K-BOB Real Country and Townsquare is a perfect match!”
Since purchasing the former Cumulus cluster of radio stations in the Quad Cities, Townsquare has made a significant commitment to sports programming. In May, Townsquare picked up the ESPN affiliation and launched the Quad Cities’ only FM sports radio station. ESPN 93.5 is the home of the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears and local high school football and basketball.
“The combination of ESPN 93.5 and 1170 AM will broadcast more local and regional live sports exclusively to the Quad Cities area,” according to Market President Bruce Law. “The addition of the River Bandits only strengthens the dominant sports line-up offered for the local fans.”
In addition to the radio broadcasts, fans can listen to each game on RiverBandits.com and 1170kbob.com. They can also watch live streaming video of every River Bandits home game on MiLB.TV for a second straight season in 2015. MiLB.TV subscription includes access to all minor league online broadcasts, so fans can watch alumni as they move toward the major leagues.
“As an organization, our goal is to grow the connection of our fans to our players, and Townsquare continues to be a critical partner in doing so with enjoyable, high-quality broadcasts,” said River Bandits General Manager Andrew Chesser. “This new broadcast partnership with Townsquare will bring the media experience of River Bandits baseball to its highest level ever.”
“I have been blessed to be part of many memorable moments and historic achievements in the Quad Cities; having the River Bandits broadcast all of their games, not merely on the radio, but on the most-listened-to station in River Bandits history, is among the most exciting for me,” LaNave said. “Broadcasting sports with Townsquare has been a highlight of my broadcasting career, and I am thrilled that will continue with River Bandits games this spring.”
The River Bandits aren’t the only Low Class A team to return to radio broadcasts in 2015; we expect an announcement sometime in coming months about another team making the leap. From what we hear, this may end up being a trend. Here’s why:
Over the last decade we’ve seen an amazing consolidation of radio-station ownership, as a relatively small group of operators sought to replicate formats throughout the United States. Gone were the local hosts and local programming; in came nationally syndicated content, whether it be a music format or a talk-radio format.
But with the Internet and satellite radio, there’s no need for anyone to turn on a terrestrial radio station if you’re really into Dave Ramsay or Rush Limbaugh or Dan Patrick. And with more and more cars equipped with Pandora and Spotify, there’s no reason to tune in a syndicated music station.
So where will radio stations turn to attract listeners? Live events — like baseball games. Local content means local listeners. And with sports programming, a radio station like 1170 AM K-BOB can attract local listeners. Now, two teams may not make a trend — but the signs are there.