The rumors about the Cubs leaving WGN Radio have been flying for months and more intensely the last week or so. Today, the Cubs will announce the end of this 90-year relationship and a new 7-year deal with CBS/WBBM.
With the entire WGN relationship ending (remember that WGN-TV recently announced they are ending their coverage of Chicago sports in favor of original content like their new series “Salem”.
These are big changes for Cubs fans that have tuned into 720AM and WGN-TV for Cubs baseball for their entire lives. Add in the drastic proposed changes to Wrigley Field and a massive rebuild directed by new ownership and a new front office and it’s easy to see the traditionalists frantically trying to pump the brakes on this thing.
What does the Cubs move to WBBM mean? Not much, really. Instead of tuning into 720AM, you’ll need to turn the dial a little further to right to 780AM. For those of us that don’t live in the Chicago area, WBBM’s signal isn’t quite as strong as WGN, so you will need to rely on the nearest Cubs Radio Network affiliates, which probably provides a stronger signal than WGN and is the way you listen to Pat and Coom Dawg anyway. Yes, Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer will remain in the booth and call Cubs games.
Also, the way that we consume baseball has changed. We had a discussion on our Facebook page last week about the Cubs leaving WGN. Jeff, a friend of several of us Ivy Envy guys, expressed his concern that the Cubs relationship with WGN Radio and TV would impact the Cubs’ reach and ultimately their ability to attract new fans.
I understand that sentiment, but I think us older folks need to realize that kids are no longer huddled over a radio, turning the dial and magically finding the signal that is broadcasting Chicago Cubs radio. Kids aren’t flipping through tv channels on a summer afternoon. They are growing up in a world where MLB At-Bat and MLB.tv is more the norm. I’d be shocked if 10% of teenagers even know what AM Radio is.
I’m perfectly fine with this change. Even though I can pick up Cubs baseball on 2 or 3 radio stations, I tend to listen to games though the MLB At-Bat app. Media consumption is changing. Baseball is changing. The Cubs are changing. And really, these (and all of the other changes) are long overdue.