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From the Basement, It's No Wonder Radio Reception Is Poor

With 29,000 fans in the stands each game, the Nationals attract more people to the ballpark than on the radio, which averages 26,000 listeners a week.
With 29,000 fans in the stands each game, the Nationals attract more people to the ballpark than on the radio, which averages 26,000 listeners a week. (By Tom Mihalek -- Associated Press)
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Nationals spokeswoman Chartese Burnett declined to respond for a request for comment.

The Nationals have a generally admired pair of announcers -- Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler -- and have two of the most powerful radio frequencies in the Washington area. One of the stations, 1500 AM, has a signal that can be heard as far away as Florida at night. The static-free FM station blankets much of the metropolitan area.

The stations themselves, however, have been beset by low ratings for some time, which has limited their ability to reach a wide audience and promote the games.

WWWT, which carried a primarily talk format during the day and Nationals games in the evening, dropped its talk shows and call letters this month because of low ratings. WWWT's two signals are now occupied by Bonneville's all-news station WTOP and its federal-news station WFED.

Before becoming WWWT, the stations carried news and information supplied by journalists at The Washington Post. That venture ended last year because of poor ratings.

With a more competitive team, the Nationals were a bigger draw on the Bonneville-owned stations last summer. According to Arbitron, the baseball broadcasts attracted an average cumulative audience of 58,700 listeners per week.

Despite the team's struggles, Farley remains optimistic about eventual success on the field translating into success on the air. The team's president, Stan Kasten, had a strong record of building his former team, the Atlanta Braves, through minor-league development and draft choices, he said.

"They're going to grow," Farley said. "Give them a few star players and a few years and they'll be contenders."

The Nationals' contract with Bonneville runs through the 2009 season. Farley said advertising support for the team has been strong and his company would be interested in renewing its agreement with the team.


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