O's signal changes in switch to WHFS

Team ends 19-year affiliation with WBAL, will expand programming on CBS Radio

January 09, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

If all the trades and free-agent signings don't improve how the Orioles look in 2007, maybe the games at least will sound better.

The Orioles confirmed a long-standing rumor yesterday and announced that the team is leaving its radio home of 19 years, WBAL (1090 AM), for CBS Radio's WHFS-FM (105.7).

According to a release issued by the club, WHFS will become the flagship station for the 16-station Orioles Radio Network, which will carry all 162 regular-season games, as well as some exhibitions beginning in March. This move represents the first time the Orioles will be heard throughout the Baltimore area in FM stereo.

"The Orioles are excited to partner with CBS Radio Baltimore and to broadcast Orioles baseball in FM stereo on such a prominent station," Greg Bader, the team's director of communications, said in a statement. "With five dominant stations reaching a range of listeners in Baltimore, CBS Radio will help the Orioles more effectively connect with our diverse fan base."

Under the new agreement, changes in the Orioles broadcasts will include live in-game exchanges with manager Sam Perlozzo and his coaches.

"The Orioles' rich tradition offers the perfect complement to our existing sports programming," Robert Philips, CBS Radio's senior vice president and market manager, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to bring this tradition to CBS Radio and WHFS 105.7. Baseball on FM radio will allow listeners to enjoy a static-free, deeper and richer sound."

One element of the broadcasts will remain familiar to listeners: Broadcasters Joe Angel, Jim Hunter and Fred Manfra will continue to call the games.

"It's an interesting move," Angel said. "I gather they're going to have microphones in the dugout and we'll get to talk to coaches during the game."

Angel has a two-year option on his contract with the Orioles that hasn't been signed.

"I have a verbal commitment," he said. "I'm looking forward to coming back and doing the games."

Asked for his theory on why the Orioles left WBAL, which carried the Orioles for 41 years overall, Angel said, "Maybe because they wanted to expand so much programming."

Ed Kiernan, WBAL vice president and general manager, couldn't be reached to comment.

While WHFS will air the games, along with the pre- and post-game segments, sister station WJFK (1300 AM) will carry original Orioles programming year-round. The two stations will air shows featuring Perlozzo and team executives, along with hot-stove and fantasy baseball programs.

"I think it's a great opportunity because of the simulcast aspects [with Mid-Atlantic Sports Network]," Hunter said. "I'm excited as a broadcaster, and an Orioles broadcaster, to be able to move forward with this type of commitment and this type of technology. I'm excited about the possibilities of where this might lead to this season, and down the road.

"I can't wait to get started and see how this plays out."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Ray Frager contributed to this article.

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