Bucs, Clear Channel sign five-year pact

Bucs, Clear Channel sign pact

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates announced Tuesday that they will begin a five-year radio partnership with Clear Channel Communications following the conclusion of the 2006 season.

After 51 seasons with KDKA AM 1020, Pittsburgh's flagship station will be moved to WPGB FM 104.7. The news-talk station will broadcast 12 Spring Training games and all 162 Pirates regular-season games through the 2011 season, as well as pregame and postgame programming, including the Sunday morning "Dave Littlefield Show."

In addition, the five other Pittsburgh-area stations owned by Clear Channel will provide cross-promotional coverage of the Pirates. Fans that live outside the Pittsburgh area will be able to listen to the Pirates on 37 radio affiliates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.

According to Pirates vice president of marketing, sales and broadcasting Tim Schuldt, the move was made because the team is looking to better target a younger audience that falls more in line with the club's traditional season-ticket holder base, while continuing to provide comprehensive coverage of the Pirates.

"The goal is to entertain our fans, and entertain our fans when they can't make it to the best ballpark in America," Schuldt said. "The keys to this were absolutely a commitment to a very strong flagship station, and one that can drive increased ratings and reach a desirable demographic target with a signal strength that preserves a radius of listenership that we have enjoyed over the years. WPGB does all of these things.

"From the start, this has always been about being able to take a cluster of stations, harness that power and help us reach multiple demographic targets with greater frequency and further reach. This helps us do that.

"It will also help us to sell tickets. Make no mistake, we're here to sell tickets. This partnership will absolutely help us to do that.

"WPGB smacks right in our core wheelhouse of men [ages] 25-to-49. They are our most predisposed buyers of season tickets."

Clear Channel will now serve as the rights holders for the radio broadcasts of the Pirates, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins and the University of Pittsburgh football and men's basketball programs.

"Clear Channel has an excellent track record with the sports teams of this city and we're very pleased to be joining their roster," said Pirates CEO and managing general partner Kevin McClatchy.

Clear Channel senior regional vice president John Rohm likened the switch in the Pirates' flagship station to the Pirates' move from Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium to PNC Park.

"As great as Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium were, there is nothing in baseball that compares to PNC Park," said Rohm. "As Pirates fans have enjoyed and benefited from the move from Three Rivers to PNC Park, they will also enjoy and greatly benefit as Pirates games move from KDKA to the new generation of talk, FM NewsTalk 104.7."

KDKA had been the flagship station for the Pirates since 1955. The relationship between the team and the station extends back to 1921, when KDKA aired the first broadcast of a Major League game.

"I want to thank KDKA for the 51 years that we had with them. I think it's been a terrific relationship," said McClatchy. "We appreciate their support and wish them nothing but success in the future."

"KDKA put their best foot forward during this process," said Schuldt. "What it came down to was to make a good decision between two good opportunities. We've made the best decision for the Pirates."

The Pirates also announced Tuesday that the broadcast crew of Lanny Frattare, Steve Blass, Greg Brown, Bob Walk and John Wehner will remain team employees.

"We are thrilled with the product of our broadcasts and are in the process of extending each member of the award-winning group of broadcasters," Schuldt said in a team press release.

Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.