Oakland Baseball’s Radio Answer: A Salem Solution


The Oakland Athletics baseball club are on the brink of a renaissance. A new stadium at Howard Field was announced in November 2018, keeping the club “Rooted In Oakland” — its new slogan.

Now, with talk of a move out of the East Bay faded, the team known by many for EVP/Baseball Operations Billy Beane — portrayed by Brad Pitt in the 2011 film Moneyball — has found its new flagship radio partner.

It’s a big AM owned by Salem Media Group — and a Bonneville property is also involved.

Via Twitter, the A’s announced a new radio broadcast agreement with Salem’s Class B KTRB-AM 860, a conservative Talker under “The Answer” branding used at other Salem secular spoken-word properties across the U.S.

KTRB has a 50kw signal during daylight hours from 1 tower and a construction permit for 5kw at night, from four towers. The facility famously moved from Modesto, Calif., in early 2007 under former owner Pappas Telecasting. 

The A’s are very familiar with KTRB. It wanted to buy the property outright several years ago.

In fall 2008, KTRB was a Sports Talker competing against Bay Area giant KNBR-AM 680, now an Entercom property. It added A’s games, becoming their flagship station. On Sept. 10, 2010, Pappas lost control of KTRB and went into receivership. The A’s took full control of their team broadcasts on KTRB. A bid to buy KTRB was put into play, but ultimately failed to transpire.

As a result, A’s games moved to Entercom’s Sports station now carrying the KGMZ-FM calls — “95.7 The Game,” starting with the 2011 season.

On October 15, 2018, following the end of the baseball season, the A’s ended months of speculation by parting ways with Entercom. It did so publicly in a now infamous Tweet, with the A’s saying “It’s not us, it’s you” as the four-year contract the team had with the company led by David Field expired.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the A’s were “frustrated” across the 2018 season about a lack of promotion of the team’s games on “The Game.” They also believed there was a genuine lack of interest in the A’s beyond play-by-play and being bumped to another station as the Golden State Warriors NBA franchise was given preference in game-day conflicts.

Athletics COO Chris Giles told the newspaper at the time that, in its search for a new partner, “The driving factor No. 1 is signal strength. The second is the ability to have a consistent home for our broadcasts. And third is the ongoing partnership we will have with a true flagship station.”

That led the team to look anew at a station it considered buying.

But, KTRB will not be the solo home for the A’s, even with its unique nighttime signal contour that covers the entire San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market, as well as most of Stockton and Modesto, within the Sacramento DMA.

An “expanded partnership” with KHTK-AM 1140 in Sacramento, one of eight properties acquired by Bonneville International Corp. from Entercom the company needed to sell in order to complete its merger with CBS Radio, is in place.

KHTK is a 50kw Class B blowtorch that uses 5 towers to deliver a signal that can reach Humboldt County, Calif., to the north and the Monterey-Salinas-Santa Cruz market to the south — never mind all of Sacramento, Chico and the San Joaquin Valley city of Merced.

“The dual stations, along with 17 additional radio network affiliates, will provide the largest coverage map ever for A’s baseball,” the team said.

As shown below, A’s games can be heard from Del Norte County, Calif., in the north to Fresno, in Central California. Play-by-play will also be heard on Salem-owned Business Talk KGU-AM 760 in Honolulu, a Class B facility audible from Kauai to the west side of the big island of Hawai’i.

KHTK will preempt the A’s for Sacramento Kings play-by-play when a conflict arises, however.

Meanwhile, in a further swipe at Entercom, a partnership with TuneIn has been reached between the team and the audio streaming platform Entercom yanked its stations from in June 2018.

In addition to free live streaming of all A’s games “in territory,” a 24/7 A’s Channel is set for launch. It will feature exclusive team content including special programming and podcasts.

Ken Korach will return for his 24th season with the A’s and his 14th as the team’s lead radio announcer, pairing with Vince Cotroneo, who will begin his 14th season with the Athletics. Retired all-star A’s catcher Ray Fosse will also make special appearances in the booth throughout the season.

The team will also debut expanded pre- and post-game shows – A’s Total Access and A’s Clubhouse – hosted by Chris Townsend.

Not impacted by the shift to KTRB are A’s Spanish-language radio broadcasts, with legendary play-by-play man Amaury Pi-González returning for his 26th season with the Athletics joined by 11-season analyst Manolo Hernández-Douen on KIQI-AM 1010 in San Francisco and KATD-AM 990 in Pittsburg, Calif.