My latest Chicago Tribune column is on how a WGN tradition dating back to 1925 could be ending for Cubs radio.
You also can access the entire column via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.
Here is an excerpt from the column.
WBBM-AM 780 has emerged as the leading candidate to become the new radio home of the Cubs.
The CBS-owned outlet is using all of its local stations in a synergistic bid to land the rights to the Cubs, beginning with the 2015 season, according to team and industry sources. If the team goes with WBBM, it would end its long relationship with WGN-AM 720, which dates back to 1925.
The Cubs wouldn’t comment on the situation. However a team source said, “We believe there is a very good market for Cubs rights.”
It was WGN’s decision to put the Cubs’ rights on the market after it exercised an option to reopen its contract with the team last fall. Broadcast sources say WGN is losing significant money on the Cubs broadcasts, with listeners and advertisers tuning out a ballclub that has lost 197 games in the last two years. The station still will air Cubs games in 2014.
Rod Zimmerman, senior vice president and market manager of CBS Radio Chicago, and WGN President Jimmy de Castro both were out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Reportedly, the Cubs have one of most lucrative radio deals in baseball, valued at an estimated $10 million per year. Despite the rough times, there is an expectation the Cubs still will be able to maintain that revenue level, and perhaps even improve it.
“They are looking for someone to write a big check and someone will,” a local radio insider said.
CBS could be in the best position to add to its sports inventory. The station already airs Bears games on its AM outlet along with a simulcast on its FM station, WCFS-FM 105.9. CBS also has White Sox games on its sports talk outlet, WSCR-AM 670.