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White Sox, WGN agree to radio deal

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Now is the time to get on board with the White Sox.

Brooks Boyer, the team's senior vice president, sales and marketing, has been hearing that phrase from season ticket holders to sponsors. He also heard the line during recent radio broadcast rights negotiations, resulting in WGN Radio and the White Sox announcing an agreement naming WGN Radio AM 720 as the team's flagship radio station on Wednesday.

CHICAGO -- Now is the time to get on board with the White Sox.

Brooks Boyer, the team's senior vice president, sales and marketing, has been hearing that phrase from season ticket holders to sponsors. He also heard the line during recent radio broadcast rights negotiations, resulting in WGN Radio and the White Sox announcing an agreement naming WGN Radio AM 720 as the team's flagship radio station on Wednesday.

White Sox games will air on WGN Radio AM 720 beginning with the broadcast of the team's first game of the 2018 Cactus League season on Friday, Feb. 23, at 2:05 p.m. CT. The agreement includes all 162 White Sox regular-season and postseason games, as well as select Spring Training games.

This deal reportedly runs three years, although the White Sox would confirm the deal only as multi-year.

"We are very, very thrilled to be able to be on a blowtorch signal like WGN, and also having a sales staff and production staff at WGN that understand how to do baseball," Boyer told MLB.com. "I think they are going to be a great flagship for us.

"I won't get into how many offers, but we had multiple offers on the White Sox. We were WGN's target, and as we went through the process, it became clear they should be ours as well."

A move to WGN became a necessity when Cumulus Media announced plans to drop its multi-year deal to broadcast the White Sox on WLS 890 AM as it emerged from bankruptcy. Boyer said the team didn't know if the restructuring would be out of court or in court, knowing Cumulus could reject the agreement in court.

Cumulus put an aggressive bid together on keeping the White Sox coming out of restructuring, per Boyer. Creative options such as digital and FM were also discussed, but WGN emerged as the best option.

"Once everything was laid out, it was pretty simple to see for us to be able to market our product and deliver our product to the entire Midwest, this was going to be our best scenario," Boyer said. "To be able to execute a radio rights deal in a very short period of time, really less than a month, there had to be a lot of trust on both sides."

In its 10th season in the radio booth, the on-air duo of former White Sox pitcher Ed Farmer (play by play) and former outfielder Darrin Jackson (analyst) returns.

"What an honor it is to join the White Sox family," said Todd Manley, WGN Radio station manager and vice president of content. "Summer starts today on WGN Radio."

The White Sox partnership with WGN Radio will complement the television partnership with WGN-TV. This is the first exclusive broadcast rights agreement between the White Sox and WGN Radio, and in addition to live game and Spring Training broadcasts, the agreement includes pre- and postgame programming, as well as a weekly year-round show that features team news, highlights and interviews with players and coaches.

"Obviously if we were coming off a World Series win, it would be different than it is right now," Boyer said. "But our reality is one of the things people kept saying is, 'Now is the time to get on with the White Sox.' Now is the time to invest in the White Sox because of what we have going on on the field."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox