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Chuck Landon: Talk radio takes over day games for Reds

Jun. 15, 2013 @ 11:34 PM

Major League Baseball games and radio are a holy union sanctified by the sporting gods.

They are simply made for each other.

Sure, it's nice to watch games on television, but it doesn't compare to listening to real play-by-play on radio.

I vividly remember growing up as a mere lad in nearby Chesapeake, Ohio, listening to Cincinnati Reds games. It was a rite of summer.

Living in a location such as Fields Terrace, a new housing development at the time, meant all the trees had been cut down and there was a distinct lack of shade during those hot, summer afternoons.

So, I would sit in the grass, lean back against the one end of our house that cast relief from the sun and listen to the inimitable Waite Hoyt take me to the ballpark on my little transistor radio.

Those were the days.

The days of youth. The days of being a fan. The days before night baseball took over in the Major Leagues.

Those memories become increasingly fond over the years.

So, imagine my dismay while running errands recently and trying to listen to the Reds' "businessman special" day game on the radio in my Jeep. I discovered there weren't any stations carrying the broadcast.

Instead, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh was pontificating where my old friend Marty Brennaman should have been calling the Reds' action.

So, an inquiry ensued.

There are 13 radio stations in eight West Virginia cities listed as Reds' affiliates on the team website. The list includes WVHU 800-AM in Huntington, WTCR 1420-AM in Kenova and WZZW 1600-AM in Milton. Also, WIRO 1230-AM and WLRX 107.1-FM in Ironton are nearby affiliates.

All five local stations are owned by Clear Channel.

The problem is the lone Huntington station bumps Reds' day games, such as Cincinnati's games against the Chicago Cubs from venerable Wrigley Field last Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. The station chooses to air nationally syndicated, politically-based shows featuring Limbaugh and Sean Hannity instead.

Since the signals from WTCR, WIRO and WLRX aren't strong enough to reach Huntington on a reliable basis, it means Reds' fans can't listen to day games in Huntington.

Ashland and Ironton? Yes. Huntington? No.

That prompted a conversation with Jim Davis, Operations Manager/Program Director for WVHU.

When asked to explain the decision not to air Reds' day games, Davis replied, "We do." But when the question was altered to include only stations that could be heard in Huntington, Davis retreated.

"Is this for personal use or for an article?" he asked.

When the reply was for the latter, Davis quickly said, "I'll have to get back to you on that."

Davis didn't contact me again, however.

So, it appears WVHU wants to eat the cake of its Reds affiliation and have it, too, by refusing to pre-empt the Limbaugh or Hannity shows for Cincinnati day games. And that includes National League Divisional Series playoff contests.

Who loses?

Consumers, as usual.

Neither the Reds nor Cincinnati fans living in Huntington are getting the respect they deserve. WVHU either needs to be an affiliate or not. It's like a marriage. It simply doesn't work on a convenient basis.

Oh, for the old days.

Yet, as much as I yearn for those carefree times with my old transistor radio, I doggedly cling to the belief it could be just as easy these days.

It's merely a matter of accountability.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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