New era: WBBM, ABC7 ready for Opening Day as new broadcast outlets for Cubs

An excerpt from my latest Tribune column:


At this time last spring, the chances of WBBM-AM 780 and ABC-7 becoming broadcast outlets for the Cubs were about as unlikely as the team being able to sign Jon Lester for $155 million. A year later, both stations are preparing to air games featuring the new Cubs ace.

Note the lineup changes, as the 2015 season officially brings a dramatic shift in the broadcast landscape for the Cubs. WBBM takes over as the new flagship radio station, ending WGN-AM 720’s run with the team, which seemed destined to go on forever.

“It does seem a bit surreal,” Ron Gleason, WBBM’s director of news and programming, said of the swirl of Cubs-related activity at the station.

Meanwhile, ABC-7 is scheduled to air 24 games this year, starting with Cardinals-Cubs on April 8. Mark Giangreco, who has been the station’s sports anchor since 1994, never envisioned working for one of the Cubs’ TV stations.

“I’m old-school,” Giangreco said. “I grew up with NBC doing the AFL; CBS doing the NFL; and ABC covering the Olympics. I freaked out when that all changed. It’s a different world now. Everyone is divvying up their rights. It does feel weird.”

Indeed, ABC-7 was a surprise destination when the Cubs concluded their TV package in December. WGN-9 still is in the rotation, airing 40 games, and it will produce five others for WPWR-50. Comcast SportsNet will cover 87 games. Fox and ESPN are scheduled to televise six games so far.

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