CBS Radio’s WBBM-A/FM Chicago is going to be the Cubs’ new flagship, the team is set to announce. The Cubs have signed a long-term deal to carry the team’s games beginning next season, sources told The Chicago Tribune. Terms were not disclosed, but sources said it also involves promotion with other CBS Radio stations in The Windy City.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, speaking at the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce’s 18th Annual Cubs Lead Off Luncheon at Wrigley on Wednesday, said “it was just time for a new partner. You’ll have the same broadcasters, so Pat (Hughes) and Ron Coomer will come along, and we’re just changing stations. We’ve had a great relationship with WGN,” he said.
The move to marks the end of a 90-year relationship with Tribune’s WGN-AM there. The station reportedly was losing money on the broadcasts and chose to exercise an option to reopen its radio contract with the team last fall. Station executives cited low ratings after losing 197 games over the last two seasons as contributing to revenue declines: “WGN Radio is proud of our longtime association with the Chicago Cubs,” WGN President Jimmy de Castro told the paper. “But it has to make business sense and this current arrangement does not.”
In a note to employees Tuesday night, de Castro said station executives did “everything in our power” to keep the games on WGN, including “a commitment to sustain further financial loss” during the rebuilding process: “We had hoped to convince the ball club to accept a new partnership that would reduce our rights fee and have us share radio revenue. That’s our relationship with the Blackhawks, and both of us have thrived in that environment. Instead the Cubs prefer a cash arrangement that would have us continue to lose millions of dollars every year even when projecting the certain success of the team.”
The Cubs radio deal is valued at about $10 million, according to earlier reports in the Tribune. WGN had the right to match the new CBS offer, but chose not to, according to the story.