The Padres Are Blowing It: Padres Radio Network

Recently Jason Collette at Baseball Prospectus wrote an article on team radio affiliations, which included a graph showing how far from a team’s stadium the game broadcast could be heard over the air.  Shockingly, the winner was the Yankees, who have an affiliate in Anchorage Alaska carrying their games.  And 30th on that particular graphic?  Our San Diego Padres, for which ‘NO DATA AVAILABLE’ was listed.

What exactly does ‘NO DATA AVAILABLE’ mean?  Apparently it means you can’t get a Padres game – for free – outside of San Diego.  A quick check of the 2012 Padres media guide confirms this.*  The only stations carrying Padres games are the Mighty 1090 AM, and La Poderosa AM 890 (Spanish).

It’s bad enough that the current Time Warner impasse prevents ~20% of the fan base from watching Padres games on TV.  Why is it the Padres are the only Major League franchise without any kind of Radio Network?

I will admit, up front, I do not know if the same restrictions applied to TV broadcasts hold true for radio.  For instance, my cable TV package includes Fox Sports West in all it’s variations, but I have yet to see a Dodger or Angel game for free on those stations.  I don’t, however, believe the same restrictions apply to radio, and I believe that because I can listen to Angels games on 800AM while driving across the county on 905.  If the Angels have no qualms about providing free access to their games DEEP in San Diego country, why would ownership hesitate to have an affiliated station in Orange County?

Part of the problem is MLB’s insistence on making everything part of a revenue stream.  Not fifteen years ago, I had the flagship radio station website for every NL team bookmarked on my computer. MLB games were streamed over the internet for free.  Ah, the good ol’ days.  Today of course, one has to pay for the privilege of hearing an ‘out of market’ game, and there are a couple of ways of doing that:

  1. SIRIUS/XM radio.  With the XM Select package, for $14.49/mo, you have access to every home team broadcast on the radio.
  2. MLB At Bat/  The MLB At Bat app will set you back $19.99, or $2.99/mo, and includes access to radio audio.  With an attachment allowing your iPhone to stream through your radio, you can hear whatever game you like.  If you decide to buy Premium, the benevolent folks at MLB will throw in the app for free. Premium runs $24.99/mo. Update: I forgot that Padres games are blacked out in Padre country.  Silly me.

If I’m a Padres fan living in Albany NY it’s unrealistic to expect the team to have a local radio affiliate, so either option is the only way to go.  But we’re not talking about the fan across the country.  We don’t have the historical cache the Yankees do which would support broadcasting to places like Anchorage AK.  We’re talking about those Padres fans living in El Centro*, Temecula**, El Toro. The  Mighty 1090 advertises 50,000 watts, but even with that much broadcast power the signal gets pretty spotty 80 miles from Rosarito.

Is it really so expensive or difficult to have a radio affiliate out in East County, or in southern Orange County?

The Padres struggle  to attract new fans and keep the ones they already have.  Success on the diamond is the surest way to do both, and (fingers crossed) with the current crop of rapidly maturing prospects they will be a playoff contender before very much longer.  If no one knows, what difference does it make?  This team needs to get their broadcasts out to a wider local audience than just those who 1090’s signal can reach, or those opposing fans turning on or SIRIUSXM to listen to the Cubs as presented by Ted Leitner.

I can hear Angel games all the way to the border.  I can hear Dodger games deep into North County.  Why won’t the Padres return the favor?

*Note:  I don’t have a copy of the 2013 media guide, although I understand it’s out.  And, the Dodgers currently have an affiliate in El Centro.  We’re the team of the military, right?  Yet the Giants have affiliates in Hawaii.

** Another Update: Various comments below indicate Padres games can be heard as far north as Rancho Cucamonga and LA proper.  Which is good news.

Met = @Padres_Trail on, you know, twitter, should you be crazy enough to follow.  Send accolades, requests, or cease & desist letters here.

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  • Brought this up on twitter last week, but whatever, I’ll repeat it. The 1090 signal has a fantastic reach and I am able to easily get it in my car all around Los Angeles.

    • Met

      Can you give me an idea of where in LA? Torrance, Downtown, San Dimas, Glendora?

      • I live and work in Hollywood, but I have been able to pick it up all over the county. Literally everywhere, I won’t list suburbs like Hacksaw.

    • Met

      Can you give me an idea of where in LA? Torrance, Downtown, San Dimas, Glendora? Sorry if this comment appears twice.

  • Guest

    1090 is spotty in El Cajon let alone El Centro. Also, is useless if you live in San Diego or the surrounding areas. They blackout the games that are in your area. If you live in San Diego, you can’t watch Padres home games as well as Angels and Dodgers home games. Not that I would watch the Dodgers. Just trying to make a point

    • SDPads1

      It’s spotty in Santee too. My old house I couldn’t get a reception no matter what I tried. At my new house it comes in crystal clear. But as Matt said below I’ve also had a clear signal in LA at times too. It’s weird.

    • Met

      I can’t believe I forgot the blackout rules apply to I updated the post to include.

  • PadresSTH

    I travel throughout the Inland Empire and I able to hear XX1090 as far north as Rancho Cucamonga. As well as where I live in Temecula.

    • Met

      Thanks. I’ll update the post. My experience was somewhat different years ago.

  • VM David

    I was able to get 1090 in parts of Big Sur, but forget it in El Centro. In LA, the signal is spotty but I’ve generally been able to get it.

    In reality, they should have an affiliate in Imperial County, and probably up through Las Vegas.

  • Cuau

    Padres games can be heard in El Centro on 1230 AM. In the past they were available in Mexicali and Ensenada in spanish, but last season I cannot find them.

    • Met

      Thanks! KXO wasn’t listed in any of the sources I looked at.

  • I lived in Pasadena for years, from 2008-2011, and got 1090 no problem at all times of the day. Now I live in Newport and get it crystal clear all the time as well. I’ve even gotten 1090 as far east as State Line during the day. Heck, here in Newport I even get 1360 during the day

  • kevin

    What are u talking about? Ive pulled in 1090 all the way in Reno before. Gets spotty after 80 miles my ass. Its a flame thrower signle.

    • Met

      And I’ve lost the signal while driving up 15 to Temecula, and on 405 above Mission Viejo.

      Several commenters have agreed with you on it’s range and others report having difficulty hearing it well within San Diego County. Day/night reception and night time atmospherics might explain part of the variation.

      We’ve all gotten wrapped around the axle arguing how far we can hear 1090 away from San Diego, which gets away from the point I was trying to make. The Padres should not be relying on how far 1090’s signal travels to promote the team outside of San Diego County. They should authorize other radio stations to broadcast the games in SoCal.