The Continued Alienation of a Fanbase: 95.7 The Game Carries On…

Back in April I wrote a piece criticizing the A’s flagship radio station 95.7 The Game for their mockery of what at that time was still expected to be a very poor Oakland Athletics team (Check it out here).  It seemed to strike something of a chord with people, I even received messages on Twitter from Program Director Jason Barrett defending the station and hailing themselves as covering all teams.  I wasn’t surprised to get this kind of response from someone in his position, but it was still disappointing because there was no chance of anything changing.  Of course the station changed their tune drastically once the team started to show signs of contention.

Oct 9, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics fans do the Balfour rage as relief pitcher Grant Balfour (not pictured) enters the game against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning of game three of the 2012 ALDS at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Detroit Tigers 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It was a maddening situation for many A’s fans who thought they might finally have a sports talk destination focused on the Athletics.  This station which had spent so much time discussing the San Francisco Giants first, and the Athletics if they had time to fit them in had turned things over once the Athletics were deep into the pennant race.  They acted as if they had been on the bandwagon the entire time, but we all knew it wasn’t true.  My criticism of the station’s handling of the Athletics doesn’t necessarily fall on the hosts themselves, but on Jason Barrett, who clearly has tight control over what is discussed on the air.  Shows are laid out with set segments that happen on each show, and topics are predetermined, unlike the mostly free flowing format of KNBR.  So we know Barrett has to be heavily involved in that aspect of the station.

Once the Athletics were eliminated from the playoffs, it was right back to “The Giants Information Station” tagline 24/7.  It’s understandable that the A’s weren’t playing anymore, and the Giants were, but the glee with which the station covered the Giants eventual World Series run was disgusting to many A’s fans.  We all know the Giants have a stranglehold on the media market, but the station doesn’t have to be so obvious about their infatuation with the team.

Over recent months the station underwent quite a shakeup, Chris Townsend was taken off the night shift and paired with CSN’s Matt Steinmetz to do “The Pulse”, after Eric Davis departed for the NFL Network former ESPN personality Ric Bucher joined Brandon Tierney on “The Drive”, and then Tierney himself bolted back to New York and Townsend was moved to team up with Bucher in the afternoon drive slot.  Lost in the shuffle was Mychael Urban, who many thought would replace Eric Davis alongside Tierney, but he was passed over and shortly thereafter left the station.  Urban didn’t mince words about the culture at The Game, calling Barrett’s management style “East Coast and dictatorial.”  That’s not to say he harbored ill will towards the station, but his honesty told the story.

Then recently the station hired a new full time host for the late shift during the week, a Fresno based host by the name of Guy Haberman took over that spot and was also named as the host for the Athletics pre and post game show next season.  While it’s disappointing that Chris Townsend won’t be there to ride the roller coaster that is the MLB season, on the surface it didn’t seem to be a bad replacement.  Until a little research was done.  Haberman served as a play by play announcer for the Fresno Grizzlies, yes the same Fresno Grizzlies who serve as the Triple A affiliate for the evil San Francisco Giants.  Now I want to make it clear that I’ve listened to Guy a few times and actually like his style quite a bit and am willing to give the guy a shot at taking us through the baseball season.  But his history makes me just a little bit skeptical as to where his allegiances truly lie.  Are we about to have a Giants fan hosting the Athletics pre and post game shows?  That just seems wrong, but again I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

As we inch ever so close to another new year, and the baseball season is upon us let’s just hope that we can enjoy the season with minimal distractions so we can concentrate on the goings on with the team, and not its radio station.

Topics: Oakland Athletics

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  • B.Page

    The Game’s enthusiasm for the As pretty closely matched the overall Bay Area enthusiasm for them from what I heard.

    The As only “sold out” games (with the tarps still on) when they went to the post season. Are you also pissed with the fair weather “fans” that stayed home, or worse, went to sold out Giants games all season and only showed up to “cheer” the As when the games were actually exciting in the post season? Where were THEY in April?

    Sounds to me like you want The Game to be a year round cheerleader for the As and I get that because the Giants have the cheerleading KNBR. But I don’t think the As are a team that warrants that kind of coverage.

    They can’t put a consistent product on the field from year to year, you get excited about a group of players only to have their market rate quickly exceed what the As are willing to pay and they bolt for greener pastures. The owner doesn’t want to stay, and doesn’t want to pay to improve the product to win. The As are run like a AAA team that stumbled into the majors and even when they are “hot” they still can’t manage to excite as many Bay Area fans as the Giants. These are the facts, as crappy as it is to admit.

    At least we have a station where the games actually sound good for a change, theres finally consistent and meaningful talk about the team on a regular basis during the season (even “New Yauka” BT sounded prepared when he interviewed Billy Beane every week), and when the team played well The Game stepped up and I could feel it too.

    I’d rather have that than have The Game try to be the Oakland or As version of KNBR only to fail and have the As bounce around a bunch of crappy little AM stations year after year.

    • http://twitter.com/shortmort_6 Dave Mortenson

      Agree

  • nocalraiderfan

    This post and the post back in April are spot on. I too tried having conversations on Twitter about their obvious affection for the Giants and his responses were terse and defensive and a few days later he out of the blue blocked me from Twitter so he wouldn’t have to deal with legitimate questions about the direction of the programming on the station.

    I was upset that in October when the A’s were about to play the biggest regular season series in six years that the Game decided to hold a Monday Night Football party in Pleasanton for a game involving two teams not even in our market. Barrett claimed that they had a prior commitment and they couldn’t break the commitment to hold a party at the Coliseum. Fast forward a couple weeks when the Giants had made the World Series and much to my chagrin the Game decided to hold a Giants World Series party at a sports bar in downtown Oakland of all places. This to me was a slap in the face to A’s fans to hold a party for the Giants on our turf.

    Within a few days of the couple tweets I sent him regarding the poor decision to hold this party in Oakland, I was blocked from his account and the Game’s account. This is how Jason Barrett operates. He doesn’t want to deal with A’s fans messing with his vision of the Game being the preferred destination on the radio dial for Giants fans. What he’s completely failing to realize is that Giants and 49ers fans are well taken care of on KNBR and the vast majority of them aren’t going to change their presets to the Game where they don’t have flagship rights to either of their team’s games. Instead, he’s alienating the good fans of the East Bay that desperately want a station to call their own in his desperate attempt to grab a piece of the Giants and 49ers pie.

    It’s clear this strategy is not working, and frankly I have a hard time supporting a station that mocks a team whose games they do carry in an effort to attract fans of the opposition. Furthermore, his unwillingness to truthfully own up to this and to dodge us that dare criticize him only underscores how much he wants to be KNBR when the station openly claims that they talk “all Bay Area sports teams”.

    We as A’s fans deserve better than to be treated like second class citizens on our own flagship station but sadly it appears that Jason Barrett has a firm stranglehold on the material put on the air in order to further his agenda to try and lure Giants and 49ers fans away from KNBR. Judging by the ratings, it’s not working and I hope that the A’s will eventually put some pressure on Entercom to force Barrett out in favor of a PD that is willing to promote the A’s instead of Monday Night Football games with no local connection or holding SF Giants parties in downtown Oakland.

    Great piece, and I think you were spot on in your assessments.

    Matt

  • http://twitter.com/shortmort_6 Dave Mortenson

    How old are you Mr. Davis? I’m guessing not old enough to have experienced years of bouncing around the AM dial, putting up with weak-signal Country, Oldies, and Top 40 stations? Some years not securing a flagship station until a day before the season started. I have been following the A’s since they moved here in ’68. I have experienced, as a fan, the ultimate highs of high and have had to deal with the fact that my team was the laughing stock of the league at various points in their history. I became a “hardcore A’s fan in 1971. Part of my attraction to the A’s, besides the colorful uniforms, talented young players, and white shoes was the fact that they were the “underdogs”. The poor little team from Oakland that stood in the shadows of the arrogant, glamorous, and over-rated San Francisco Giants. You think it’s hard being an A’s fan now? It was just as hard and maybe even harder back in those days. The A’s could reel off 6 wins in a row and yet the Giants could lose in 10 innings and get the headlines in the local papers. I grew up despising the Giants for always receiving too much attention while the A’s kept winning championships.

    When 95.7 came on, they made it clear that they would cover ALL the Bay Area teams. They came into a Market that was dominated by KNBR only because their was really no competition. But give them credit, the came in hard, aggressive, and ready to bury “The Sports Leader”, and I think they have succeeded. And from a business standpoint, they had to take the approach they did. Would you Mr. Davis put everything you own and bank on turning a profit by just being a 24/7 ALL A’s radio station? There is no money in that. And unfortunately this “game” of professional sports is all about MONEY. The A’s know this better then anyone.

    Sure The Game has lot’s of room to improve on their A’s coverage. But I, as a long time fan, am very grateful that we now have a force in radio that is now the flagship station to my Oakland A’s. Another thing and reason why I continue to loath the Giants is and was KNBR. Their bias, homer sickening coverage of the Giants is nauseating. I for one, do not want 95.7 to turn into the A’s version of them. I want my A’s to be NOTHING like the Giants. Do you?

    Go A’s!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/keith.salminen Keith Richard Salminen

    Everything you summed up is why after I got out of the Marine Corps in 2011, I did everything in my power to bring A’s Fan Radio out of its 4 year hiatus.

    Still find it it funny that a 10 year old internet radio show covers more A’s talk in 2 hours than their own flagship station does in a week sometimes..