Tribune Media announced Wednesday it signed a three-year deal to carry Chicago White Sox games over WGN-AM (720) starting this year. The news was highly anticipated as the baseball team’s and the Bulls’ deal with Cumulus’ WLS-AM fell apart after the Atlanta-based radio chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.
The Bulls have since relocated to Entercom’s WSCR-AM, The Score (670 AM).
In a statement, WGN station manager Todd Manley said: “What an honor to join the White Sox family. Summer starts today on WGN Radio.”
Chicago White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer quoted as saying: “It’s a fantastic win for White Sox fans. We are thrilled to team up with an iconic media organization in Chicago, delivering the hustle and the passion of White Sox games to WGN radio listeners in the city and Midwest.”
WGN also plans pre- and post-game programming, in addition to a year-round weekly show. Radio voices Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson are being retained in their positions (much to the chagrin of many in the fan base.)
Indeed, the move to WGN is a huge upgrade from WLS as the deal was praised by a lot of fans on social media. White Sox and Bulls programming outside of actual games were lacking on WLS and the teams weren’t promoted. On the other hand, WGN recently brought back Sports Central (as an afternoon streaming show) and already has rights to Chicago Blackhawks games and Northwestern football and basketball. The White Sox gives WGN once again sports programming during the spring and summer months.
There is no word on how WGN would handle conflicts with Blackhawks games, though it is not likely an issue given the team is not expected to make the postseason this year.
As it seems unthinkable from a more recent standpoint, WGN-AM did carry White Sox games from 1927 to 1943. WGN was of course, the longtime home of Chicago Cubs games from 1924 to 2015, before losing the rights to CBS Radio (now Entercom.)
In addition to NBC Sports Chicago, Chicago White Sox games continue this season on television counterpart WGN-TV. Both it and WGN-AM are owned by Tribune, who is in the process of being acquired by Sinclair Broadcasting. The first WGN-AM game can be heard on February 23 when the White Sox play the Los Angeles Dodgers in Cactus League play.