WGN President and GM: Deal with Cubs wouldn't make sense

WGN President and GM: Deal with Cubs wouldn't make sense
June 4, 2014, 2:15 pm
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Tony Andracki

"Baseball time is here again...You can catch it all on WGN."

Well, not anymore. At least not on the radio.

Somebody is going to have to slightly alter the classic "Go Cubs Go" lyrics now that the Cubs announced their new radio deal with CBS.

[RELATED - Cubs leaving WGN after making radio deal with CBS]

WGN-AM 720 started broadcasting Cubs regular season games in 1925 and could have matched the deal with CBS Radio Chicago.

Jimmy deCastro, president and GM of WGN and The Game, joined Kap and Haugh on 87.7 Wednesday and explained why the Cubs and WGN radio are parting ways.

"We're very proud of our longtime association with the Chicago Cubs, but it has to make good business sense and the current arrangement just does not," deCastro said. "For more than a year, we've been working with the Cubs organization to recraft the contract we inherited.

"...It's a declining business. It's changing very quickly. So we had to do an analysis of the economics involved in carrying the games. Those economics didn't make sense if we were continuing on in that deal."

deCastro said WGN also did an analysis on the entire landscape of Major League Baseball teams and their radio broadcast rights.

[Chicago Cubs and WGN: Jimmy de Castro explains the Cubs’ departure from WGN Radio]

According to deCastro, WGN went to the Cubs and Crane Kenney, president of business operations, and pitched four different opportunities to keep the relationship moving forward, but the Cubs turned the offers down.

One such offer was to give the Cubs complete control of all the broadcasts and WGN-AM 720 would just air the games, charging the Cubs $1 per contest.

When asked if the Cubs' recent stretch of losing - they currently own the worst record in MLB after dropping 197 games the last two seasons - had any effect on WGN's decision, deCastro admitted it was a factor.

"Yes there is a little connection," he said. "There has to be - 288 losses from 2011 thru 2013 and 34 games already this year."

[MORE: Rizzo 'sick of' Cubs talking about Wrigley renovation]

deCastro said the losing helped drag down ratings and on weekend days at the end of last season, there were times where nobody at all was dialed in to listen.

Add in the fact that three major advertisers have left and "the economics have changed," deCastro said, while admitting WGN has been losing millions of dollars each season they've aired Cubs baseball.

Just because WGN and the Cubs are moving on doesn't mean it came as an easy decision for deCastro and Co.

"We have a lot of empathy for all the people who have grown up with WGN. This is in our DNA," deCastro said. "Win or lose, we'll be with [the Cubs].

"Outside the lines, we are all around the Cubs. We have the utmost respect for Crane Kenney and the Ricketts family. We have the utmost respect for the baseball people that they're bringing up and they're building.

"And we're praying for them."