Back in April I wrote a piece criticizing the A’s flagship radio station 95.7 The Game for their mockery of what at that time was still expected to be a very poor Oakland Athletics team (Check it out here). It seemed to strike something of a chord with people, I even received messages on Twitter from Program Director Jason Barrett defending the station and hailing themselves as covering all teams. I wasn’t surprised to get this kind of response from someone in his position, but it was still disappointing because there was no chance of anything changing. Of course the station changed their tune drastically once the team started to show signs of contention.
Oct 9, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics fans do the Balfour rage as relief pitcher Grant Balfour (not pictured) enters the game against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning of game three of the 2012 ALDS at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Detroit Tigers 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
It was a maddening situation for many A’s fans who thought they might finally have a sports talk destination focused on the Athletics. This station which had spent so much time discussing the San Francisco Giants first, and the Athletics if they had time to fit them in had turned things over once the Athletics were deep into the pennant race. They acted as if they had been on the bandwagon the entire time, but we all knew it wasn’t true. My criticism of the station’s handling of the Athletics doesn’t necessarily fall on the hosts themselves, but on Jason Barrett, who clearly has tight control over what is discussed on the air. Shows are laid out with set segments that happen on each show, and topics are predetermined, unlike the mostly free flowing format of KNBR. So we know Barrett has to be heavily involved in that aspect of the station.
Once the Athletics were eliminated from the playoffs, it was right back to “The Giants Information Station” tagline 24/7. It’s understandable that the A’s weren’t playing anymore, and the Giants were, but the glee with which the station covered the Giants eventual World Series run was disgusting to many A’s fans. We all know the Giants have a stranglehold on the media market, but the station doesn’t have to be so obvious about their infatuation with the team.
Over recent months the station underwent quite a shakeup, Chris Townsend was taken off the night shift and paired with CSN’s Matt Steinmetz to do “The Pulse”, after Eric Davis departed for the NFL Network former ESPN personality Ric Bucher joined Brandon Tierney on “The Drive”, and then Tierney himself bolted back to New York and Townsend was moved to team up with Bucher in the afternoon drive slot. Lost in the shuffle was Mychael Urban, who many thought would replace Eric Davis alongside Tierney, but he was passed over and shortly thereafter left the station. Urban didn’t mince words about the culture at The Game, calling Barrett’s management style “East Coast and dictatorial.” That’s not to say he harbored ill will towards the station, but his honesty told the story.
Then recently the station hired a new full time host for the late shift during the week, a Fresno based host by the name of Guy Haberman took over that spot and was also named as the host for the Athletics pre and post game show next season. While it’s disappointing that Chris Townsend won’t be there to ride the roller coaster that is the MLB season, on the surface it didn’t seem to be a bad replacement. Until a little research was done. Haberman served as a play by play announcer for the Fresno Grizzlies, yes the same Fresno Grizzlies who serve as the Triple A affiliate for the evil San Francisco Giants. Now I want to make it clear that I’ve listened to Guy a few times and actually like his style quite a bit and am willing to give the guy a shot at taking us through the baseball season. But his history makes me just a little bit skeptical as to where his allegiances truly lie. Are we about to have a Giants fan hosting the Athletics pre and post game shows? That just seems wrong, but again I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
As we inch ever so close to another new year, and the baseball season is upon us let’s just hope that we can enjoy the season with minimal distractions so we can concentrate on the goings on with the team, and not its radio station.