Nats, Post Radio Nearing Deal To Air Games

Thursday, January 5, 2006

The Washington Nationals are close to finalizing a multiyear deal to broadcast their games on the newly created Washington Post Radio station, which will take the spot on the dial previously occupied by all-news WTOP and potentially give the Nationals a much broader audience than they enjoyed in their inaugural season of 2005.

Washington Post Radio, which will launch in March, will be broadcast on AM-1500 and FM-107.7 and will be owned by WTOP's parent company, Bonneville International Corp. The Post will provide much of the station's content.

"We're very hopeful," said Jim Farley , WTOP's vice president for news and programming. Sources with direct knowledge of the deal said an announcement could come by the end of the week.

During their first season, most Nationals games were simulcast on two Bonneville-owned stations, WFED-1050 and WWZZ-FM-104.1. But day games were only carried on WFED, which has a relatively weak signal, and listeners frequently complained that they couldn't get the games free of static. According to maps on the WTOP Web site, the move to AM-1500 and FM-107.7 would provide coverage of Nationals games past Fredericksburg to the south, to parts of Maryland's Eastern Shore and past Baltimore.

The broadcasting team for Nationals games will be at least partly different. Dave Shea , who served as part of a team with Charlie Slowes during 2005, said yesterday that he received a call from a team official who told him he wouldn't be asked back.

Meantime, Ron Darling , who served as the color analyst on Nationals television broadcasts last year, said yesterday, "I don't expect to be back with the Nationals," but that reports out of New York that he was on the brink of signing on to broadcast Mets games were "very, very premature."

-- Barry Svrluga

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