Cubs Exploring Options for Radio and TV Broadcasts, Still Searching for Radio Analyst

While the Cubs continue working on details to restore Wrigley Field with the city, neighborhood and the rooftop club owners, the team is also dealing with media rights between 720 WGN and WGN TV.

WGN Radio exercised an option in their contract with the Cubs last month to re-negotiate the deal with the team due to “sharply declining ratings because of the Cubs’ struggles on the field.” Under the current contract, WGN is paying as much as $10 million per season, and possibly more, to broadcast Cubs’ games. The contract between the Cubs and 720 WGN is thought to be one of the most expensive in baseball.

The Cubs exercised an opt out in their contract with WGN TV earlier this month that would end the Cubs’ long relationship with the network following the 2014 season if a new contract is not agreed to. The Cubs would like to extend the contract to run through the 2019 season, the same length of their current contract with Comcast SportsNet, but at an increased rate. The Cubs reportedly receive around $60 million per season from WGN and Comcast SportsNet to televise the games, with $20 million coming from WGN. The Cubs had to exercise the option when they did or the contract would have renewed and locked in the current rate through the 2022 season. The Cubs and WGN TV had 30 days at the time (Nov. 6) to work out a new contract.

The Cubs and WGN have been in arbitration to try to determine the market value for the TV rights.

According to a report from Patrick Mooney, the Cubs “have met with CBS Radio Chicago” about broadcasting the games on one of their stations. The discussions could be leverage with WGN Radio, as Mooney pointed out. The White Sox “are locked into WCSR-AM 670 through the 2015 season.” Mooney reported the Cubs could end up on “another CBS affiliate” for one season before moving to The Score.

WMVP-1000 AM (ESPN Chicago) is expected to make a run at the Cubs. And Cumulus Media could be a factor according to Mooney’s report.

The uncertainty surrounding the Cubs’ radio partner will have an impact on who is hired to replace Keith Moreland, the same way the pending TV deals had an impact on Bob Brenly leaving the Cubs’ booth to take the same job with Arizona last off-season. The Cubs, WGN and Comcast SportsNet could only offer a two-year guaranteed contract at the time.

As reported, Kerry Wood and Rick Sutcliffe are not candidates to replace Moreland in the booth next to Pat Hughes. Patrick Mooney reported that Cubs management likes Doug Glanville, but he may have two more years on his contract with ESPN and might not be an option.

Ron Coomer is thought to be a strong candidate, as well as Dave Otto.

Todd Hollandsworth could be the leading candidate for the job that WGN is looking to fill by Dec. 9. Hollandsworth and Coomer “are viewed as strong candidates” according to Mooney’s report, as the job is expected to go to a former player.

Andy Masur could be a candidate as well, along with Smokies’ play-by-play man, Mick Gillispie. Masur has a history with the team from his days in the radio booth with Pat Hughes and Ron Santo. Gillispie has been working with Len Kasper calling Spring Training games on, plus Gillispie knows the Cubs’ farm system and does an excellent job on Smokies Radio.

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