(Washington skipper Manny Acta shows great patience with broadcaster Charlie Slowes’ suggestion that playing Lasting Milledge’s mixtape diss of Billy Wagner might boost ratings)
Tony Kornheiser‘s least favorite Washington Post colleague Paul Farhi reports the Nationals radio broadcasts are being heard by fewer persons than those paying to attend Nats games. That there’s more than a handful of either group given the club being nearly 30 games out of first place, is remarkable enough, but the failure of anyone at WWWT to blame this on MLB Advanced Media seems like a missed opportunity (link courtesy Baseball Think Factory).
The team’s broadcasts on the station formerly known as WWWT (107.7 FM and 1500 AM) attracted a cumulative weekly audience of about 26,500 from May through July, the most recent period measured by Arbitron.
The Nationals’ following on radio isn’t even in the same league as teams with similar records, even those in metropolitan areas with far fewer people than Washington.
The Seattle Mariners, for example, had won just two more games than the 46-85 Nationals as of Sunday. But the Mariners attracted 133,000 listeners per week, or about 26,000 per weekday game, through July.
The Nationals have a generally admired pair of announcers — Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler — and have two of the most powerful radio frequencies in the Washington area. One of the stations, 1500 AM, has a signal that can be heard as far away as Florida at night. The static-free FM station blankets much of the metropolitan area.
The stations themselves, however, have been beset by low ratings for some time, which has limited their ability to reach a wide audience and promote the games.
Jim Farley, vice president of news and programming for Bonville International, the company that owns the stations that carry the Nats games says the team’s poor record alone doesn’t explain the results. “There’s no storyline for this season,” he says. “Who’s the hero? Who’s the big star? Even the [famously terrible] ’62 Mets had Marv Throneberry. The Nats don’t have a character like that. Night after night, the most interesting thing to talk about is that Teddy Roosevelt didn’t win [the mascot race] again.”
Wow. Harsh enough that Jim Bowden is the subject of a criminal investigation. Now he has to apologize to a radio station for dumping Paulie Go Nuts.