Cubs leaving WGN after making radio deal with CBS

Cubs leaving WGN after making radio deal with CBS
June 3, 2014, 11:45 pm
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The Cubs are leaving WGN-AM 720 to begin a new partnership with CBS Radio Chicago.

Industry sources confirmed this is the final season on WGN Radio, which had exercised an option to re-open its contract after a two-year stretch that saw the Cubs lose 197 games. The flagship station – which aired its first regular-season Cubs game in 1925 – could have matched the deal.

One theory has CBS using its local portfolio and national reach to help promote everything from concerts at Wrigley Field to Cactus League games at Cubs Park, the team’s new complex in Arizona.

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The Chicago Tribune identified WBBM-AM 780 as the new radio home on Tuesday, with a formal announcement expected on Thursday, linking the Cubs and Bears on the same station.

The White Sox are locked into WSCR-AM 670 – another CBS outlet and the city’s dominant sports-talk station – through the 2015 season.

At Cubs Convention in January, president of business operations Crane Kenney said Pat Hughes would remain as the radio play-by-play guy, no matter where those games wound up on the dial.

[RELATED: Cubs release updated renderings of remodeled Wrigley Field]

Now in his 19th season, Hughes has become an institution for his distinctive voice and work with the late Ron Santo. Hughes backed Ron Coomer, the ex-Cub and Lockport High School graduate now in his first season as the color analyst after leaving Fox Sports North’s Minnesota Twins programming.

The Cubs still have to make major decisions about their TV future while hoping the cable bubble doesn’t burst before 2020. The team has already exercised an opt-out clause in the WGN deal, making this the final guaranteed season on the superstation. Comcast SportsNet Chicago remains the exclusive cable channel through the 2019 season.