The Alienation Of A Fanbase: 95.7 The Game
By Sean Davis
It’s no secret that the A’s have been the nomads of the Bay Area radio market for as long as we can remember. Seemingly switching from flagship station to flagship station as every season went by. So naturally when they “made the switch” (slogan pun intended) to 95.7 FM, which had been a country music station called The Wolf, it evolved into Sports Radio 95.7, and ultimately rebranded as 95.7 The Game.
This was supposed to be the long awaited answer from the A’s to the San Francisco Giants radio juggernaut KNBR. And initially I was optimistic that would be the case.
As we approach the first anniversary of the relaunch of 95.7 as The Game in August, the true colors of the station are being revealed, and they do not appear to be green and gold.
The idea, at least in terms of marketing was that 95.7 would give equal time to all the Bay Area sports teams. They were going to take the high road over KNBR and not just ignore the Giants and cover the A’s, like KNBR ignores the A’s and only covers the Giants. Needless to say it hasn’t turned out quite like we all had hoped.
I had always felt the station seemed to lean towards covering the Giants a little more than the A’s, even though they were the flagship station for the A’s. I had always chalked that up to the fact that last season the Giants were in a pennant race and the A’s were out of contention, so I didn’t necessarily take it personally given the marketing campaign. The first time I heard something on the station though that really made me angry was just prior to the 2012 season getting underway.
The station began running promos supposedly promoting the fact that we could hear all of the 2012 action on 95.7 The Game, and cast players on the roster as characters from the movie “Major League.” If you know the basic plot of the movie, you know that they are portraying the Athletics as a downtrodden, hopeless team of misfits, who nobody expects to accomplish anything. That said, if the A’s wish to follow that plot and make a miraculous run to the postseason in order to shove it in everyone’s face, I’m fine with that.
What truly bothers me is that this station is supposed to be promoting the A’s, not mocking them. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard John Lund on his show, “The Wheelhouse” dismiss an A’s related topic because it doesn’t matter and nobody cares about them anyway. I’m not asking for the blatant, mandated homerism that takes place on KNBR, but would it kill you guys to not make a mockery of the team?
It seems like they are almost determined to drag the Athletics through the mud, just a few days ago the official 95.7 The Game Facebook and Twitter pages posted a picture of an emtpy O.co Coliseum with the caption, “Enough’s enough. Look at this picture from last night. How do you possibly describe this?” You know how I describe it? An empty stadium during a rain delay. On Thursday night’s “The Chris Townsend Show” our lone pro-A’s regular Chris Townsend said it was he who took the picture, with the intention of showing the few who were braving the elements to see the game, not to highlight the ineptitude of the team and the disloyalty of the fans. Someone at the helm of the station’s social media took those snapshots and spun them as negative propaganda against the Athletics. I for one greatly appreciated this gesture from Uncle Townie, because aside from Rick Tittle, he’s the only host on 95.7 who doesn’t get off on mocking the A’s, and he seemed to truly be upset that the picture he took caused so much anger. Chris Townsend is in no way part of the problem, and I hope he knows none of this vitriol is directed his way.
But it still leaves us wondering, what exactly is going on then? And why?
Humor me for a moment and imagine the Bay Area market as a high school prom. The Giants are the favorite for the prom queen, KNBR is their date and high school sweetheart, the A’s are a “plain Jane” just happy to have a date, and 95.7 The Game is the wannabe jock who had to settle for a prom date with her. What is happening right now is a romantic slow jam is playing and everyone is on the dance floor, all enjoying a special moment. Meanwhile 95.7 is longingly staring across the floor at the Giants, who are ofcourse dancing with KNBR. The jealousy is building up inside 95.7, they would give anything to be able to dance with the Giants. So much so they will fawn over them constantly during lunch hour, completely ignoring the one who’s interested in them, the Oakland A’s.
What 95.7 fails to realize is that they will never get that dance with the Giants. The Giants and KNBR will be prom royalty together, and 95.7 will remain on the outside looking in. The Game may get a few fleeting moments with the Giants, but those are only due to some group assignments, not because there’s any mutual interest (ie: The Giant Conversation). This reckless pursuit of the object of their affection will ultimately lead to 95.7 being left all alone and jealous of the relationship the Giants and KNBR have.
To snap out of the high school metaphor, 95.7 The Game is delusional if they ever think they’ll get more than a few Giants related guests on their station. I am sure they have visions of being the Giants new flagship station sometime, but I’m telling you it will never happen. It’s no secret the Giants and KNBR are joined at the hip, and will be forever. No upstart sports radio station is going to change that. If Giants fans want to hear nonstop Giants talk, they’ll listen to KNBR, like they have for the last 20 years.
While it’s obvious there has been a lot of turmoil at KNBR over the last year with the emergence of 95.7 The Game, as evidenced by this weeks unceremonious firing of long time KNBR host Ralph Barbieri, management at 95.7 needs to realize they simply cannot compete. They will ultimately fall by the wayside if they continue on this path of alienating the fans of the team they are supposed to be promoting.
I’ve simply had enough of it, and I hope all of my fellow A’s fans refuse to indulge their greed. Don’t let this slide, we all know now they don’t care about us, so why should we care about them? It makes me miss the days of the radio nomad Athletics we’ve gotten used to. Where’s KFRC when we need them?
PS: The KNBR signal comes loud and clear at my house, as for the station that “just sounds better”, not so much.
Check me out on Twitter @SeanD25, see my take on everything else baseball at Baseball Obsessed, and follow everything Swingin’ A’s @FS_SwinginAs.