Cardinals Baseball Signs Off from KMOX
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
I'm Madeleine Brand and this is DAY TO DAY. A long marriage in baseball is ending. The St. Louis Cardinals announced yesterday that this will be their last season on radio station KMOX. Ever since the 1950s, when Hall of Fame great Stan "The Man" Musial played for the Cardinals, the team's fans have been tuning in to hear games over the station's airwaves. And KMOX's signal reaches hundreds of miles beyond St. Louis on most nights. From member station KWMU, Tom Weber reports.
TOM WEBER reporting:
You don't have to go very far to hear stories of how people back in the '50s would get their Cardinal baseball fix, and it doesn't really matter where they were in the country.
Mr. LOU BROCK (Hall of Famer): As a kid growing up, I listened to KMOX down in the state of Louisiana late at night. So I knew a lot about Musial; never knew what he looked like, but I knew a lot about him because you had--actually had to see baseball on the radio.
WEBER: That's Lou Brock, who would go on to have his own Hall of Fame career as an outfielder for the Cardinals and make it into a few exciting calls on KMOX.
(Soundbite of baseball game)
Unidentified Announcer: ...no point, base hit, 3,000 for Lou Brock.
WEBER: And the men making the calls became just as famous as the players. Jack Buck, Mike Shannon and Harry Carey are all household names for most baseball fans.
(Soundbite of baseball game)
Unidentified Announcer: He's got it. The Cardinals win the pennant. The Cardinals win the pennant.
WEBER: The Cardinals plan to buy half of another station in town, KTRS, and make it their new flagship station. But KTRS only has a 5,000-watt signal, far below KMOX's 50,000. That means more people will have to listen to Cardinal games on local stations that sign up and pay to be affiliates. Cardinals President Mark Lamping says the concept of a flagship stations isn't as important as it used to be because of all the choices fans have.
Mr. MARK LAMPING (Cardinals President): Every single Cardinal game is on television, and we used to celebrate when the Cardinals were picked once or twice a year to be on NBC's "Game of the Week." Now every single night, the generation of today has an opportunity to watch the games on television.
WEBER: That generation includes Christy Stallings(ph), who grew up a Cardinals fan because her dad had grown up listening to the team in southern Illinois.
Mr. LAMPING: Certainly, without KMOX I probably wouldn't be the baseball fan I am today 'cause my dad might not have become one.
WEBER: Stallings now lives in a suburb of Kansas City. That's Royals territory. But she can still watch her Cardinals because she has a special cable TV package. And she subscribes to major-league baseball's online service, which lets her listen from a computer. But in the car, Stallings has stayed loyal to KMOX. There is a Cardinal affiliate near Kansas City, but Stallings says KMOX has a better signal.
Ms. STALLINGS: This might actually push me over to the major-league baseball satellite radio system. I've not yet gone that far and I may end up doing that.
WEBER: That's exactly the kind of statement that Cardinal owners will like to hear, according to Frank Absher. Absher runs the St. Louis Radio Hall of Fame and says the move to a lower-power station will force some people who have heard baseball for free to pay up.
Mr. FRANK ABSHER (St. Louis Radio Hall of Fame): We have to face the reality that major-league baseball, like big business everywhere, is thumbing its nose at tradition, at the romance of the past, at the little guy.
WEBER: Cardinals President Mark Lamping acknowledged some people might be forced to buy satellite radio, but he says switching stations will also allow the Cardinals to raise more money in other areas without having to raise ticket prices. For NPR News, I'm Tom Weber in St. Louis.
BRAND: DAY TO DAY returns in a moment. I'm Madeleine Brand.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.