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A’s announce Bay Bridge Series games to air on KFRC 1550 AM — drama with KTRB 860 continues

The A’s announced that the Bay Bridge Series games against the Giants (Mon-Wed) will air on radio station KFRC 1550-AM, and not on flagship station KTRB 860. The team said a plan for regular-season broadcasts will be unveiled later in the week, and none of this affects games that air on A’s affiliates in Sacramento, Modesto and other areas around Northern California. Ken Korach, Vince Cotroneo and Ray Fosse will call the games on KFRC, and Chris Townsend’s pregame and postgame call-in show will also air on the station.

But for Bay Area fans, it confirms that the A’s season-long radio plans are in limbo as Friday’s opener looms. As I’ve written the past couple of days, the A’s have been negotiating to buy KTRB, but talks have taken a sour turn to the point that the A’s could completely sever ties to KTRB, their flagship station for the past two years.

This drama all started very recently. KTRB is in receivership, and an informed source indicated to me that the station’s receiver is looking to sell the station for a higher purchase price than the A’s are willing to offer. As a result, the agreement to air games as negotiations continue has broken down. I was told that the A’s weren’t willing to budge because they knew they had a fallback plan in KFRC, which is equipped to start airing games on very short notice. KFRC was the A’s flagship station before KTRB. I’d say there’s a definite chance that Bay area fans will be tuning to KFRC all season for A’s games.

This is shaping up as a damaging blow for the A’s and their fans, particularly if the team’s chance to buy KTRB falls through completely. KTRB is a 50,000-watt station with a far stronger signal than KFRC. Buying KTRB would allow the A’s the freedom to tailor programming to more A’s-specific content. It would create a higher-profile identity for the team and give fans a permanent spot to look to for everything A’s-related on the radio. In short, it would give the A’s similar autonomy that the Giants enjoy by owning a stake in KNBR 680.

It’s important to note that the A’s say a plan for regular-season broadcasts will be announced later this week. Does this mean a season-long deal with KTRB could still happen even as the Bay Bridge games air on KFRC? I don’t know … But things have taken a dramatic turn on this topic, and time is short to hammer out a solution.

Joe Stiglich