Radio Wars: Hello 710, Goodbye 660

wor710As you all know by now, the Mets have left their longtime radio home at 660 WFAN, and slid on down the dial to 710 WOR. Like WFAN, our new diggs at WOR is also a 50,000 watt radio station, so most of us will be able to still hear Howie Rose call the play by play.

I usually don’t post in the off season, but I have a few thoughts on this deal.

WFAN made a choice not to renew the Mets contract, and instead opted to carry Yankees games. That’s the radio business. The relationship between the Mets and WFAN was very beneficial to both sides over their 27 year partnership.

In the late 1980’s, when WFAN came on the air, the Mets were the elite, headline-grabbing New York baseball team… They were the toast of the town… 1986 World Champions, a decent team in 1987, and back to the post season in 1988.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the Mets were again a postseason ballclub. The Mets have done a lot to attract listeners to the FAN and helped forge them into the New York Radio giant they became. By the same token, when the Mets have been down, WFAN has also been a place for Mets fans and talk show hosts to beat up on the team whether it was deserved or not.

It will be interesting to see what type of numbers the Yankees now bring to WFAN. For over a generation, Yankee fans have always thought of WFAN as a “Mets station.” Will they continue hang around before and after Yankee broadcasts and listen to Joe & Evan, or Steve Somers the way that Met fans did?

Who will miss Mike Francesa?

One thing we can say about the FAN, is that their hosts were never too shy about beating up the Mets and their ownership. Will the image-conscious Yankee owners continue to allow that? Will Somers be allowed to be the Schmoozer we all know and love?

It looks to me that WOR 710, is not going to be your grandfather’s WOR 710 for too much longer. Leaving political viewpoints aside, WOR now have talk-radio giants Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. Adding the Mets to that mix will generate even  more listeners for the station that they didn’t have before. I always thought of WOR as Joan Hamburg and Rambling with Gambling. Not anymore. The press release says the Mets will be promoted through other Clear Channel radio stations as well, including Z-100 and WLTW. Time will tell how that plays out.

I think the biggest loser of all here is 98.7 ESPN Radio. How can an all-sports station be taken seriously when they do not air baseball in the summer?

Some say the Mets would have interfered with Rangers and Knicks games. I’m not buying it. By passing on the Mets, ESPN radio missed a chance to become a genuine presence in this market. At this point ABC\Disney would be better served turning ESPN into Disney Radio, and going after the kids.

To me, there will always be something special about listening to a baseball game on the radio. It should be interesting to see who will be working with Howie, how WOR and the Mets present their pre and post game shows, and what happens to WFAN now that they have the Yankees.

For now, about the only thing I’ll miss about WFAN will be their Mets jingle…