White Sox set to launch HD channel
Club will make first foray into digital radio as part of broadcast deal
CHICAGO -- The new multiyear broadcast agreement between the White Sox and WSCR 670 The Score, announced on Wednesday morning, comes with an option.
It's not necessarily an option in terms of deal length, but instead for the White Sox to broaden their horizons into digital radio.
As part of this new agreement, the White Sox will launch a HD channel on 104.3-3. According to club vice president and chief marketing officer Brooks Boyer, the new channel will focus on White Sox programming and Bulls programming, factoring in chairman Jerry Reinsdorf's two teams, as well as the business of sports, with content created exclusively by the club.
"This will be a nice outlet for our players, manager, general manager, owner and coaches to speak directly to fans," Boyer told MLB.com on Wednesday.
"If you have HD radio in your car or a converter in your car, it has the same reach and same signal as their current stations," Boyer said. "We can start it whenever we want. We are starting to put plans on paper and figure out what the economics will be. It's a pretty good business opportunity."
Although the White Sox HD station could start immediately and can be programmed 24 hours a day, seven days a week if the team desires. A launch date will be announced later. Boyer spoke of how the talk-show format would be the easiest way for the team to go, although syndicated shows would have not had the specific focus designed for this particular focused programming.
Historical content involving the White Sox and Bulls also could be part of the HD broadcast. Boyer presented a more specific example of how the station could be used.
"Let's say Mark Buehrle throws another perfect game, and he wanted to take calls for an hour from fans," Boyer said. "Mark can go in the studio to take calls."
Although the programming will be controlled by the White Sox, the message will not be.
"We want it to be an open forum where fans can talk about the White Sox. It's not a 24-7 commercial," Boyer said. "It's a forum for White Sox fans. One of the great things about White Sox fans is they don't hold anything back.
"Our goal is to have smart baseball and basketball conversation. We want this to be an open forum. We want this to be a place where our manager can communicate, our general manager can communicate, our owner can communicate and our personnel may be heard."
WSCR 670 The Score, the CBS Radio-owned sports radio station, became the White Sox flagship with the 2006 campaign. Under the new agreement, WSCR will broadcast all regular and postseason White Sox games, along with a number of Spring Training games, during each of the next five seasons.
"Baseball and radio were made for each other," said Rod Zimmerman, senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio Chicago, in the press release to announce the new deal. "The White Sox are a premier franchise that all of us at The Score have been very proud to represent the past five years. We look forward to continuing this great partnership and growing our brands together."
Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson also had their agreements extended as the radio voices of the White Sox. Farmer enters his 20th full season on the White Sox Radio Network and sixth handling play-by-play duties, while Jackson, the one-time White Sox outfielder, enters his 12th season as a White Sox broadcaster. The 2011 campaign marks his third in the radio booth with Farmer.
Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Steven Stone also return for their third year together on the television broadcasts. Harrelson marks his 21st consecutive season as the voice of the White Sox, while Stone begins his fourth.
"All four are back," said Boyer of the broadcasters. "It's nice to have consistency with our broadcasters."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.