Bidding war for Indians’ radio broadcast rights begin

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Cleveland, OH, United States (4E Sports) – The Cleveland Indians have started the selection process for the next radio station that will broadcast the team’s games beginning next season.

Currently, two radio stations — WTAM AM/1100 and WKRK FM/92.3 — are slugging it out for the team’s broadcast rights.

“We are in the bidding process for our radio rights,” said Curtis Danburg, the Indians senior director of communications, adding that the team’s two-year deal with WTAM ends after this season.

“We are making strides, but it’s hard to put a date on when we’ll get a deal done. Nothing is imminent,” Danburg added.

The Indians are looking for a longer deal than their current two-year contract, preferring a three-to-five year arrangement.

Sources told Crain’s Business Magazine that negotiations were taking place and WKRK was the favorite to win the rights. But Danburg denied the report, saying neither station was favored.

Owned by Clear Channel Communications, WTAM has been the Indians’ flagship station since 1998 while its biggest challenger, the CBS-owned WKRK, has started broadcasting only last year. WKNR AM/850 was involved in the early talks, but has dropped out.

With its 50,000-watt signal, WTAM has a wider reach and larger audience. It is also the flagship station of the Browns and Cavaliers.

For its part, WKRK, an all sports station, offers stereo quality to its broadcasts and appeals to a younger audience. It is currently the flagship station for the Cleveland Gladiators.

Despite their poor performance, the Indians are still a desirable commodity because of the air time they occupy during the course of a six-month, 162-game season.

Even if the Indians shift to a new radio station, broadcaster Tom Hamilton will remain as the team’s play-by-play voice.

Hamilton and his partner Jim Rosenhaus are Indians employees. Hamilton is under contract until 2016 while Rosenhaus will be evaluated after this season.

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