The Golden State Warriors had the same flagship station for several years, but in reality that meant several stations in the Bay Area, as KNBR’s relationship with the San Francisco Giants knocked several Warriors game broadcasts to stations such as KTCT (KNBR 1050) and KGO 810 — even during the playoffs.
That will change starting in the 2016-17 season, as the Warriors have reached a multiyear partnership with KGMZ, otherwise known as 95.7 The Game.
It’s a huge get for the Entercom FM property, one that solidifies their standing both as a sports talk station and a hub for play-by-play action. And with all due respect to the A’s and Raiders, a deal with the Warriors (one that should last until the team is ready to move to San Francisco at the very least) immediately puts Golden State at the top of The Game’s programming profile. With Kevin Durant joining a team that made the Finals in consecutive seasons and won a title in 2015, interest is at an all-time high.
However, due to obligations KNBR couldn’t avoid even if its executives wanted to, the Warriors often felt like they weren’t getting the coverage they deserved. This was more understandable when they were a perennial lottery team, but now they’re a huge national/international franchise with local TV ratings so high they seem almost ridiculous at times.
Long time coming?
I heard a rumor back in 2012. Apparently the Warriors were considering a move to 95.7 for the reasons listed earlier in this post, but one thing that convinced them to stay was a fear that KNBR would shut them out entirely. Who knows how serious the Warriors were; 95.7 The Game wasn’t exactly an established entity at the time and the flirtation could’ve been nothing more than a negotiating ploy.
However, they’re undoubtedly confident now that KNBR can’t treat them like the NBA’s version of the A’s, simply because Golden State will be one of the nation’s top sports stories for the next several months/years.
KGMZ is also doing much better than it was in 2012. If you take away play-by-play broadcasts (the Giants are a ratings machine, which is why it makes sense for KNBR to cater to whatever they need, even during Spring Training), the ratings for each station’s talk shows are fairly close among the advertising demos both stations covet.
Entercom certainly seems like they plan on keeping 95.7 an all-sports station for several years to come, and they’re going all-in on Warriors coverage.
- 90-minute pregame shows before every game (up from 30 minutes on KNBR)
- “Warriors Wednesdays” every week
- Warriors “hot stove” offseason shows which focus on the draft and free agency
- Thrice-weekly radio segments with Tim Roye, who will continue doing “Warriors Weekly Roundtable”
- Also remaining: their Warriors postgame show, which was hosted by Matt Steinmetz and Chris Townsend immediately following every game last season
This move brings up some questions about a pair of KNBR hosts.
Bob Fitzgerald’s future with KNBR
Another rumor (which I have been unable to verify, but has been bouncing around the Bay Area for eons) is that the Warriors paid for Fitzgerald to host a show on KNBR. That show, Fitz and Brooks, recently was cut from three hours to two.
Fitzgerald calls games for CSN Bay Area and not KNBR (although he did fill in for Roye during Game 1 of the NBA Finals while Roye attended the graduation of his daughter). However, Fitzgerald’s future with KNBR is something to watch as Golden State moves to a competing station.
Tom Tolbert’s future as a Warriors analyst
Tolbert, who played three seasons with Golden State, has seen his role as the team’s radio color analyst grow. It started with 10 home games in 2013, and over the past two seasons he’s done every home game and the entire playoffs (including away games).
I have been told that the Warriors would love for Tolbert to remain in the same role alongside Roye, but that has yet to be decided … and, based on the politics at play, I’m not sure we’ll hear Tolbert providing commentary during Warriors games on the radio anytime soon. Just to be clear, that’s my assumption based on how these stations have battled in the past. (One could say that 95.7 traded John Lund to KNBR for a team to be named later.)