Golden State Warriors

680 or 1050: Lengthy Warriors playoff run could put KNBR in tough spot

warriors knbr 68

KNBR 680’s teams make a hell of a trio. As the flagship station of the San Francisco Giants, “The Sports Leader” has aired three World Series-clinching games in the last five years. The San Francisco 49ers went to three consecutive NFC Championship Games, and even in their current state of disarray they’re discussed on every show more than any other team in the region.

Then there are the Warriors, who’ve been on KNBR for 31 consecutive seasons (39 overall) but have been an afterthought for much of that time. For years, that made sense. With all due respect to Tim Roye, there are more pleasant things to listen to in one’s car than a 19-win basketball team losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves. But things are different now. KNBR has all sorts of material from the team with the NBA’s best record, and they put some time and effort into promoting the Warriors with commercials discussing the greatness of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and their announcers (Roye and Tom Tolbert), plus weekly radio shows with Draymond Green and Steve Kerr.

But now it’s April. The “slow” period of the sports year is over, as baseball is here and the NBA Playoffs are starting soon (and thank goodness for that).

The Warriors are favored to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals, which would mean at least 16 playoff games. Meanwhile, the Giants are the Giants. This creates a bit of a quandry for KNBR — if the Warriors get all the way to the NBA Finals, there’s a good chance at least one of those games (all of which would be played in the evening) will coincide with a Giants game.

And we all know who’ll win that war.

If the Giants are playing a regular season baseball game, an overlapping Warriors game is relegated to KNBR 1050. There are no exceptions to this, even during the playoffs — four out of the seven first round games against the Clippers were on 1050 a year ago. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with KNBR 1050, where I appear with Ted Ramey on Wednesdays each week at 1 pm (shameless plug). But that station doesn’t have the reach of KNBR 680, commonly known as the “50,000-watt blowtorch.”

It’s actually a good problem to have; the Giants bring great ratings to KNBR 680, and the Warriors’ successful campaign gives its hosts another subject to fill airtime. On that note, there’s been a lot more Warriors talk on the local airwaves since I wrote about that subject a couple months ago.

If people are interested in listening to Warriors playoff games that happen to take place when the Giants are on, they probably know where to find hoops on the radio. However, the Warriors probably don’t find this to be an optimal arrangement. With their recent run of success, a superstar who’s the odds-on favorite to be named NBA MVP after this season, and a shiny new arena in San Francisco probably opening in 2018, one has to wonder if the Warriors will one day get fed up with the sister-station treatment.

KNBR is clearly the ratings leader among the Bay Area’s sports radio stations, its AM signal has a much larger reach than 95.7 The Game, and there’s something to be said for your fans knowing which station your games will be on year after year. For those reasons I’d predict that the Warriors will re-up with KNBR when their contract ends after the 2015-16 season. BUT … if the Warriors win their first NBA championship in 40 years and the clinching game is heard on 1050, it could lead to some interesting discussions during the two parties’ next round of negotiations.

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