Tigers announce deal with FM affiliate

Tigers announce deal with FM affiliate

DETROIT -- The Tigers aren't moving down the dial. Instead, they're adding a different frequency.

After six years of game broadcasts on WXYT-AM 1270 as the flagship of the Tigers radio network, the club announced a contract extension on Thursday, but with a twist. In addition to AM 1270, all games will be simulcast on WKRK-FM 97.1, marking the club's first foray into FM radio in Detroit.

The three-year deal had been rumored for the past couple of weeks, after WKRK opened up airtime on weeknights by canceling its evening sports talk show. Still, it wasn't clear whether the Tigers would still retain their AM presence in Detroit -- and if they did, whether all games would be simulcast on 97.1.

By doing both, Tigers officials believe they have the best of both worlds. The move into FM with a 50,000-watt station gives them a stronger signal to reach more listeners in metro Detroit, addressing a lingering concern that didn't seem to subside even after AM 1270 boosted its signal.

"We're pleased with the package we were able to put together," Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We knew our fans had concerns about signal strength, and we believe that this agreement resolves those concerns adequately. We're excited that Tigers baseball will be more readily available to fans as we head into what promises to be an exciting 2007 season."

Yet by staying with AM 1270, the Tigers can retain their ability to promote the games with the sports talk station. To that end, the first edition of Inside Tigertown -- the offseason program hosted by play-by-play voice Dan Dickerson and former Tiger Dan Petry -- is set to air on both stations on Thursday night. AM 1270 also plans to broadcast from TigerFest at Comerica Park on Jan. 20.

Dickerson and former Tiger Jim Price will remain the broadcasting team. The deal includes Spring Training games; senior vice president Duane McLean said the spring broadcast schedule has yet to be negotiated.

Both stations are owned by CBS Radio, which will broadcast Red Wings hockey games on the same stations as part of the deal. FM 97.1 also serves as the flagship station for the Detroit Lions.

The Tigers become the latest Major League team to make the jump to FM radio. The Baltimore Orioles announced on Monday that they're moving from longtime flagship station WBAL-AM to an FM station owned by CBS Radio. The Pittsburgh Pirates will do a similar jump this coming season, ending their historic association with KDKA 1020 to jump to a Clear Channel-owned FM rock station.

The Atlanta Braves have a similar setup to what the Tigers will do, broadcasting on both AM and FM stations in the city.

Still to be announced is the television broadcast schedule for this coming season on FSN Detroit and an over-the-air television station, a matter that has lingered into Spring Training in recent years. It's anticipated that this year's negotiations should go more quickly.

The challenging part last spring was to find an over-the-air broadcast partner to complement the FSN schedule. This year, the Tigers are expected to seek more games on television. FSN Detroit broadcast 110 games last year, while WMYD-TV 20 added 20 games. ESPN and FOX eventually added national broadcasts as the Tigers established themselves as a contender in the American League.

"We're exploring opportunities to broadcast additional games," McLean said.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.