09/12/2006 3:00 PM ET
Pirates announce five-year strategic partnership with Clear Channel Communications
WPGB FM NewsTalk 104.7 to become new Pirates flagship radio station
The Pittsburgh Pirates announced today that the organization has reached a five-year agreement with Clear Channel Communications to become the new radio broadcast and strategic promotional partner of the Pirates beginning with the 2007 season.
The Pirates-Clear Channel strategic partnership calls for WPGB FM NewsTalk 104.7 to become the team's new flagship radio station producing and broadcasting all Pirates regular season games and 12 Spring Training games through the 2011 season.
The partnership gives the Pirates enhanced opportunities to reach more fans outside of the game broadcasts through Clear Channel's massive dedication to sports and the Pirates on WPGB 104.7 FM, as well as through its five other radio stations in the market; WDVE-FM, WKST-FM, WXDX-FM, WWSW-FM and WBGG FOX Sports Radio 970 AM.
"Our mission is to continue to improve in all aspects of our organization, including in the way we reach our fans," said Kevin McClatchy, Pirates CEO and Managing General Partner. "This new strategic partnership with Clear Channel Communications will maintain an excellent broadcast experience for our fans and help us build our brand and increase our market presence across the entire cluster of Clear Channel stations."
"This is a significant milestone in Clear Channel Communications' history in the Pittsburgh market. The Pirates and Major League Baseball are valuable properties in this region that we will leverage to the fullest extent through WPGB 104.7 FM and our five other stations," said John Rohm, Senior Regional Vice President of Clear Channel. "It is exciting for us to partner with the team to bring Pirates baseball to their loyal fans and our loyal listeners."
In addition to the game broadcasts, WPGB 104.7 FM will broadcast pregame and post-game shows before and after every game, as well as the "David Littlefield Show" prior to Sunday Pirates games. WPGB 104.7 FM and the five other Clear Channel stations will also provide broadcasting support for PirateFest and Pirates Caravan stops, broadcast live from the Montecristo Club at PNC Park prior to every Friday home game, as well as keep Pirates fans updated with extensive Spring Training coverage from Bradenton, Florida.
The partnership allows the Pirates to utilize ancillary programming and cross-promotional opportunities with Clear Channel's five other stations in the market to enhance the team's marketing reach. Each station will support the strategic partnership with ancillary Pirates programming including weekly features with the Pirates players and broadcasters. In addition, all of Clear Channel's stations will aggressively cross-promote the game broadcasts on WPGB 104.7 FM and promote Pirates ticket sales programs and ballpark promotions.
"The strategic partnership with Clear Channel provides us with enhanced opportunities to reach a stronger and more targeted fan base that will help to build the Pirates brand," said Tim Schuldt, Pirates VP of Marketing, Sales and Broadcasting. "Clear Channel's far reaching commitments to the Pirates through ancillary programming and cross-promotion, combined with their listener demographics, size of audience share and growth trends of their stations, made Clear Channel the best choice for the Pirates."
WPGB 104.7 FM has formed a strong sports fan following with its evening "Ellis Cannon's Sportsline Pittsburgh" program, which is currently the number one rated evening sports talk show and has maintained top five overall ranking in the market with men 25 to 54 during its time slot since the station's inception.
Specific details of other new programming ideas on WPGB and the other five stations are still being developed by Clear Channel, along with input from the Pirates.
"Many ideas are in the works that will give Pirates fans and Clear Channel listeners a chance to get to know Pirates players, coaches and front office management better," said Rohm. "While it is too early in the process to discuss the specifics, the important point is that we are absolutely committed to bringing the experience of Pirates baseball to the fans through a variety of programming across all six of our stations."
Remaining consistent will be the strength and coverage of the Pirates flagship station and the Pirates-owned Radio Network of 37 radio station affiliates, ensuring fans throughout the region will have the same opportunity to listen to the team's radio broadcasts.
"It was critical that our flagship station have the signal strength that our fans throughout the region are accustomed to. We are proud to say that the move to Clear Channel's WPGB 104.7 FM accomplishes that and more," said Schuldt. "We are also excited to be able to maintain our strong radio network to ensure that the Pirates fans in those coverage areas can continue to tune in to hear the radio broadcasts of our games."
The Pirates broadcast team of Lanny Frattare, Greg Brown, Steve Blass, Bob Walk and John Wehner will remain employees of the Pirates.
"The selection of the broadcast team remains the sole discretion of the Pirates. 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," said Schuldt. "We look forward to keeping this team of broadcasters together moving forward."
The move to Clear Channel following the season marks the end of the Pirates long-time relationship with CBS Radio's KDKA-AM.
"KDKA has been synonymous with the Pirates for more than 50 years. We are extremely thankful to everyone at KDKA, both past and present, for the impact they have had on our organization and the many generations of our fans," McClatchy said. "We have a lot of good friends at KDKA, therefore this was not an easy decision. We wish them nothing but success."