If you listen to ESPN 980, you’ve likely heard the baseball promos the station has been running this spring, which brag of extensive coverage of both the Orioles and the Nationals. This is striking, because one of those teams (the Orioles) broadcasts games on 980’s air, and the other (the Nationals) does not.
I don’t have any particular interest in debating yet again whether Washington sports outlets should provide coverage of the Orioles, but it’s interesting to note that 980 did attempt to procure Nats broadcast rights. Which, I think, is news to me.
From a Facebook chat the station’s program director, Chuck Sapienza, did on Monday:
Rick: Chuck, the Nats have been here for 7 years. When are you going to dump the O’s broadcasts and broadcast Nats games?
Chuck: Rick - We made the NATS an offer to carry their games, they decided to go in another direction. I am not hating, it’s their decision. It doesn’t stop us from covering the team every day. We LOVE the O’s and they are great partners. Its AL baseball vs NL baseball. We will continue to run O’s games for the foreseeable future but we did make a run at the Nats. Thanks for listening and for the NATITUDE!!
Later, another listener complained about inadequate Nats talk on 980’s air, and Sapienza responded.
“Mark Zuckerman make 6-7 appearances per week,” he said. “We talk Nats a lot. We would talk Nats more but they are still catching on. If we try to do a NATS phone segment, the phones just do not ring like the other sports. But that WILL happen soon. You can really sense that the Nats are about to take off and expand their fan base.”
UPDATE: Sapienza later returned to the same issue, with an even longer response. Here it is:
I have talked to almost everyone at the other station. Most are my friends and they have the same issue. We had the same issue with the caps 4-5 years ago. It takes time for fan bases to grow and more importantly, have their fans feel confident enough to call and express their opinion. As I stated, It will happen. The NATS are getting ready to explode. You do not need to take calls to talk about a team. We had Rizzo on last week after the draft. I have spoken with Chad many times about [how] trying to get Nats callers is a huge challenge. It will not stop us from talking about the NATS. Nats are going to be huge and are here to stay.
Many of the questions, of course, focused on the 24-hour delay for ESPN 980 podcasts, and were presumably submitted by loyal Tony Kornheiser listeners. Nothing new to report there. But someone also asked for a local alternative to Mike and Mike and Mike and Mike.
“Mike and Mike have consistently put up excellent ratings for the last year+,” he responded. “As long as they are being super competitive in their target demo, we will stick with them. I also understand that not every show is every listeners cup of tea, that is why we offer CZABE’s morning show on SportsTalk570!!”
Personally, I would boil my eardrums in Beezlenut Juice before choosing to listen to the Mikes, but I don’t run a radio station. Read the full chat here.