John McDonnell – TWP


Washington broadcast outlets boast a long, proud tradition of ramping up their coverage for Nats playoff baseball. Okay, it’s a tradition that hasn’t been tested in three-quarters of a century, but still.

 “From WJSV, in Washington, former Giant Manager John McGraw will microphone world series analyses Saturday during the King’s Henchmen 7:30 to 8 p.m. period,” The Post reported in a Radio Waves and Ripples column from early October of 1933. “Tom Manning and George Hatrick will come straight from the diamond to give resumes for N.B.C. at 6:30 p.m.”

Of course, the world of 1933 hadn’t yet invented sports-talk radio, or cable TV, or Phil Wood. And so local broadcasting outlets are now preparing postseason plans that surpass even John McGraw on the King’s Henchmen.

The most extensive schedule comes from 106.7 The Fan, the Nats’ flagship radio station. Long criticized by a certain segment of D.C. fans for catering to the NFL crowd, 106.7 will be awash with baseball coverage throughout the Nats’ playoff run.

The station plans to air a three-hour Nats pregame show before every playoff game, with two-and-a-half hours hosted by morning guys Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier, and the final half-hour manned by Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler.

Following the games, there will be three more hours of Nats talk; 45 minutes hosted by Wood (with contributions from Slowes and Jageler) and then about two more hours hosted by Bill Rohland.

“Nationals coverage will take priority over any other programming,” the station’s program director, Chris Kinard, wrote in an e-mail. “If the Nats play on the same day as the Redskins, we’ll mix our coverage to an extent, but will mostly focus on the Nationals.  

”I just feel like this is an incredibly important milestone for baseball in D.C., and the Nationals’ fanbase can and will support this extended coverage,” he continued. “And with a team that could win it all, the general Washington area sports fan is also going to be very interested in every move this team makes during the playoffs.”

While 106.7 The Fan will thus be producing nine or so hours of baseball programming on every playoff game day, its local rival – ESPN 980 – will also be broadcasting Nats playoff games. That station has long carried ESPN Radio’s national MLB postseason broadcasts, meaning radio listeners will have their choice of local or national coverage during playoff games.

ESPN 980 is the local home for Orioles play-by-play, and so the station will also carry the official O’s playoffs broadcasts.

“We say we’re the home of the Nats, the O’s and all of Major League Baseball, and that’s why we say that,” VP of programming Chuck Sapienza told me. “If everything works out the way we think it will, every Nats playoff game will be on either 980 or 570.”

ESPN 980 is the flagship station for Redskins coverage, and also airs Monday and Thursday night national football coverage. While the Redskins would obviously not budge off 980, the Monday and Thursday night broadcasts could be shifted to AM 570 to accommodate Nats and Orioles game coverage.

The station will also have “a presence around the stadium for every Nats home playoff game,” Sapienza said. “The Nats will not get short shrift on this station.”

On television, national contracts dictate that no Nats or Orioles playoff games would appear on MASN, their usual home. But that station, too, has a host of new programming planned for the playoffs.

There will be special one-hour airings of Nats Xtra before and after every postseason game, with contributions from Bob Carpenter, F.P. Santangelo and Kristina Akra, who will travel with the team. Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight will also offer contributions from the studio. (The Orioles will receive the same treatment, with contributions from Jim Hunter, Mike Bordick, Jim Palmer and others.)

MASN will also air a one-hour Nats show and a one-hour Orioles show every Saturday and Sunday morning during the playoffs, and a one-hour playoff preview the night before Washington’s first playoff game and the night before Baltimore’s first playoff game.

“We’ve provided the best coverage all year of the Nationals and the Orioles,” MASN Executive Vice President Jim Cuddihy said. “There’s no reason to stop that when it comes time for the most important series of the year.”