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July 10, 2006

Why do I even title these things?

• More random thoughts about this and that. No rhyme or reason, just what I'm thinking about ...

• Tomorrow Sufjan Stevens will release The Avalanche, an album of outtakes from the Illinois sessions, including a couple of alternate versions of "Chicago" (by far my favorite song on the album). If you are interested, you can check out these sneak peak "episodes" (streaming MOVs) of the new album found off of Stevens's label Asthmatic Kitty:

Episode I

Episode II

Episode III

Good stuff. I also heard that Stevens will have a Fall 2006 tour, but the closest he will come to the Twin Cities is Milwaukee. Bummer.

• So, there has been a lot of "to do" about the Twins imminent move to KSTP radio, but more importantly their move off of WCCO. I'll admit it ... at first I was upset about this. I mean WCCO is all I've ever known as far as Twins radio broadcasts go.

But if your only argument is "tradition," that the big reason the Twins shouldn't move from WCCO is because they have been on WCCO for almost 50 years, well, that just isn't a very good argument. Things change all the time. After getting upset for a little bit I had to ask myself, what do I really care? Will I still hear the Twins for free every game? Yep. I'll just have to turn my dial a little bit.

And if your argument is that poor WCCO will be financially hurt by this move, I really wouldn't worry about that. WCCO is one of the most listened to stations in the Minnesota. I'm pretty sure they will be able to fill up that airtime with something else, and still make oodles of money.

Lastly, if you are worried that "outstate" Minnesotans won't be able to hear the Twins, you might be right on that one. However, we just don't know yet. We do know that without WCCO the Twins will probably have to have a larger radio network, but that means more radio stations in Minnesota will be able to cash in on the popularity of the Twins. Seriously, WCCO's massive signal has probably monopolized the Twins for too long. Let's see what happens when we can invite some other stations to the party.

This move will undoubtedly make the Twins more money. And unfortunately people in the great state of Minnesota hate it when other people are making money. We just can't stand it. But I'll tell you, if this makes it easier for the Twins to sign The Cisco Kid to a long term contract, I am 100% all for it. Tell me if I'm wrong. Seriously. I want to know why I should be really upset that the Twins are leaving WCCO.

Posted by snackeru at July 10, 2006 12:32 PM

Comments

I think I've posted on this before, but I just can't get into SS's Illinois. I love Chicago, but after that, I have a hard time even getting through the album. Just doesn't do it for me. I am interested in hearing the alternate version of Chicago, but I don't know how SS could improve on the Illinois version. Johnny Cash's new album is out too. If you like songs from a guy who knows he's going to die soon and wants sings about it, then this album is for you. Inspirational and foreboding but surprisingly not depressing.

Agree about the Twins radio station. If it means more $$$ in Carl's pocket to pay Liriano, Mauer, and Mourneau and as long as I can hear them for free, and the "shut ins who listen every day" can hear them, then go ahead and make the change.

Posted by: freealonzo at July 10, 2006 2:15 PM

I'm a little concerned about the WCCO move, because most of my family and friends are located outstate in the radio network "dead spots" so they rely on WCCO for most of the games, especially night games. If the sticking point was truly a $1 million rights fee, I hate to tell you folks, but $1 million from KSTP isn't going to do anything for the Twins payroll. In fact, I imagine there would be some trouble and expense in re-configuring their radio network affiliates, so the actual gains from this move may be less than $1 million. That is, if their ultimate motivation isn't just to force more people to pay services like MLB Gameday Audio or satellite TV...

As for Sufjan, hey I recognized one of those tracks! Consider your podcasting experiment a success, Shane.

Posted by: spycake at July 10, 2006 3:23 PM

Good points, Spycake. You're right, $1 million ain't much, but according to the article the Twins will now control all the advertising. I think there will be some obvious growing pains (like losing affiliates) in the beginning, but in the long run this could help offset the money they lost with the Victory debacle. I'll say it again, Victory would have been a good thing for Twins fans to get behind. The more financially stable the Twins are, the more they have for payroll.

Or have I just been too brainwashed?

Come 2010, when the new stadium opens and interest in the Twins is at an all-time high, I expect their network coverage will be pretty good, as will their bottom line. As much as people hate to see the Twins actually making money, I see that as a good thing. Call me crazy.

Posted by: Shane at July 10, 2006 3:30 PM

Shane's right Spycake. The reason the Twins want to take their broadcast" in-house" isn't for the $1,000,000 fee from KSTP. It's all the advertising fees they would collect. What I don't understand is what does KSTP get out of the deal? They must get a couple of ad spots per hour, otherwise they're paying the Twins a million bucks to take 3+ hours a day of their radio time. The Wolves have the "in-house" rights to their broadcasts but KFAN didn't pay the Wolves for the right to use KFAN's frequency.

Anyway, let's face it Shane, you've been brainswashed, but there's a lot worse out there. You could be a brainwashed Packer Fan that has bought "stock" in the Pack.

Posted by: freealonzo at July 10, 2006 4:13 PM

Now now Freealonzo, don't be getting all green with stadium envy. Come to think of it, green is a fantastic color to be!

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at July 10, 2006 5:00 PM

Right now, I believe the Yankees have the richest radio contract, paying $10 million a year to the club. Can the Twins expect to take in more than that (minus new operating costs) by controlling their own programming? How much more should the Twins expect to take in than they currently get from their WCCO deal?

Looking ahead to the new ballpark, the Twins claim an expected increase of $40 million of annual revenue (that's the public *claim*), not to mention the increase in franchise value which in the last year has already jumped 21% to $216 million, according to Forbes. That windfall is going to be extraordinary, and yet the club has pledged to increase the payroll only to meet the league average in 2010, a meager fraction of the profits the club will be reaping.

I wouldn't count on a new radio deal making a real impact on the payroll or allowing the GM to sign more premium-priced talent. I expect it will bring in a few more million in profit, with a small slice if anything going back into player payroll; and the move indirectly may lead to more XM Radio subscriptions across the Upper Midwest. Considering the recent MLB deal with XM Radio, that last bit may not be entirely incidental to this move.

Posted by: frightwig at July 10, 2006 9:04 PM

I know the Twins want to produce the broadcasts and control the ad revenue. It's my understanding that WCCO agreed to this and was willing to give them free air time to broadcast the games like normal. However, the Twins wanted the $1 million rights fee in addition to that. That's why negotiations broke down with WCCO and why KSTP is the leading suitor now.

So the Twins' choices came down to: 1) control the ad revenue on WCCO, or 2) control the ad revenue plus $1 million from KSTP. That extra $1 million matters to the Twins brass, but don't expect it to make any difference in the on-field product. And I'm not expecting an apology from the Twins if they can't add the necessary radio affiliates by next season either.

Posted by: spycake at July 10, 2006 9:42 PM

By the way, the Wolves and the Wild control their broadcasts too (i.e. collect ad revenue), but both of them actually pay their respective stations for air time. In that light, WCCO's apparent offer of free air time seems downright generous. I'd guess this is mostly a big gamble for KSTP to try to legitimize their station.

I almost want to be happy about it, since KSTP is "locally owned" and WCCO isn't, but if they don't add affiliates in southwest Minnesota for next year, my family honestly won't be able to hear most of the games.

Posted by: spycake at July 10, 2006 9:50 PM

Too bad they are moving. I can pick up almost all of the night games here in Kansas City on WCCO, but I don't think there are any other Twin Cities stations that I can receive down here and I don't know of any other stations on their network that are within reception range, either.

Posted by: Dave at July 11, 2006 3:39 AM

For those SW Minnesota folks, and even maybe Kansas City at night folks, I'm thinking WNAX 570 out of Yankton may be your target station. I assume they'll sign on as an affiliate and if memory serves they have some pretty nice power.

I'm on the fence about purchasing Avalanche. I've listened to it. It's decent. But I'm wondering if I'd rather buy Michigan first.

Posted by: bjhess at July 11, 2006 8:00 AM

I think 570 is a current affiliate of the Twins -- I've picked up some day games from them. The problem is, my family is about equidistant between the Twin Cities and Yankton, but WCCO has a much stronger signal than Yankton 570, especially at night.

They used to have a decent AM network affiliate right smack-dab in the middle of SW Minnesota, but that was 10+ years ago. I don't know why they changed, and I'm not sure they'll be lining up to come back.

Posted by: spycake at July 11, 2006 9:02 AM

Barry, I have Michigan, and I don't like it half as much as Illinois. It is much more understated. I can already tell I like Avalanche more than Michigan. But both are really "must haves."

Frightwig, that is a fascinating comment concerning XM Radio. Very interesting. You are probably right in that this move is better for MLB because more people will be forced to purchase access through MLB.com or XM. Again, very interesting.

Posted by: Shane at July 11, 2006 12:18 PM

It should be noted that the Cardinals tried to put their entire radio broadcast on satellite radio. It caused such an uproar they had to scramble to get their games on a (low wattage) terresterial radio station. I don't see a huge shift to satellite until there are more subscribers. Currently I think the two big providers have a total of about 6 to 8 million subscribers. It's going to be a long time before all of MLB is on satellite. But, it's coming.

Posted by: freealonzo at July 11, 2006 1:43 PM

I used to live in Pipestone and I'd bank on WNAX slightly more than WCCO. Sounds like you are further east, spycake.

Posted by: bjhess at July 11, 2006 4:51 PM

The best thing about this radio move is beginning next year, I will never, ever, have to put my radio on CCO and stumble across the ramblings of either Sid Hartman, Mike Max or Dark Star again. I realize a lot of old-timeys love these 3, but my ears begin to bleed the moment I hear their voices.

Posted by: zooom at July 12, 2006 9:14 AM

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